Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Early Spring Walks

anemone

 … my first anemone flower of the year …

With the clocks soon to go forward and as the days get longer, it really is making me believe that we are shaking off the winter and heading full on into spring. However, it isn’t really spring yet and I need to be careful not to get too ahead of myself. (I remember one year, in early April, deciding that as Breton striped t-shirts were everywhere in the shops, it must be spring-almost-summer. I spent a whole week without socks, walking around in short-sleeved t-shirts before admitting that it was actually about 9 degrees and I possibly had the start of flu).

So although it may be time to go out and explore the countryside, I can’t expect to see bluebells and wild garlic dotting the woodland paths just yet. That, I can save for a few weeks (try months) time.

I thought that in the interim, before the true spring loveliness is upon us, I would give you a quick summary of a few great places for a walk whatever the weather…

Badbury Rings – the Iron Age hill fort that is perfect for a walk to blow away the cobwebs.

Lulworth Cove Coastal Path to Durdle Door – if you click the link, there is some great information here from Walking Britain. Although, where they write about ‘some’ uphill walking… if you’re anything like me, you’ll need to stop regularly along the way to … look at the view and drink some tea… 

Okeford Fitzpaine and Belchalwell – this lovely feature from Dorset Magazine gives you step-by-step directions to this 3-hour walk. You’ll encounter some beautiful countryside and be able to give the dog a pretty good workout.

Cerne Abbas – a great website called ‘Walks for Softies’, lists some not-too-strenuous walks around the Giant, with accompanying historical facts. Who doesn’t love a historical fact?

If you have any other suggestions for some wonderful weekend walks… please let me know. Have a lovely weekend and don’t forget to pack lots of snacks if you’re venturing out into the Dorset wilderness! x

Update | Wild Flower Bank

newly planted primrose

… newly planted primroses on the bank …

You’ll remember from this post a few weeks back that we are in the process of creating a wild flower bank at the front of the house.  The bank already exists, just incase your mind conjures up visions of diggers and mounds of earth (in Mr D-F’s dreams). We especially wanted to consider a planting scheme that would provide interest all year round, changing with the seasons.

As we began the project in February, the first things that got transplanted to the bank were snowdrops and primroses. Although not yet making a major impact, they look very pretty dotted in amongst the mosses and have thrived in the south-facing sunshine.

Unfortunately the cowslip seeds that I planted haven’t shown any sign of germination in 3-weeks. I’m not surprised. It’s no wonder that they are on the endangered list, if they take so long to sprout… however, I’ve not given up complete hope just yet!

wild flower seedlings

… quick to germinate – wild flower seeds …

The harebell seeds have already germinated and although are very tiny, they look healthy and should enjoy a bit of growth time in the propagator.  The real stars of the show have been the wild flower mix of seeds.  These babies germinated in just under two weeks and are already looking quite mature, with leaves of all different shapes and sizes. The plan is to keep them warm in the propagator for a bit longer, probably until their first pair of proper leaves appear.  They’ll remain inside until they are big enough to stand up to the moss and grass on the bank and after the likelihood of frost has passed.

plug plants

… the cutest plug plants …

The final piece of update news, is that for my birthday, I was given some wild flower plug plants – yes indeedy! I couldn’t have been more excited and as they are pretty grown-up already, they can be transplanted straight onto the bank…

It’s all shaping up nicely! Have a great day. x

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge

… the tide going out at Kimmeridge Bay …

‘Where’s Kimmeridge?” Mr D-F asked a while back. I was so astonished that anyone in Dorset and the surrounding counties could possibly not be aware of the existence of this very cool spot. It was decided then that Kimmeridge would be our next mission out and luckily the weekend was supposed to be warm, sunny with highs of 14 degrees.

Right. Well that didn’t quite end up being the truth. In fact it was pretty cold and windy, but as March in the UK is never tropical, we were dressed in lots of layers and had a great time anyway.

We drove through Kimmeridge village and stopped on the other side at the little hut to pay our £5 to use the toll road and for parking. After doing a little research it seems that this part of the coast is a section that belongs to a privately owned estate.  However, as entrance to the marine centre (run by the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve) is free, we didn’t have any hard feelings about paying.

kimmeridge waterfall

… one of the many little waterfalls …

We knew that low tide was going to be about mid day and we planned to arrive as the tide was going out. There is very little to see or do if the tide is high as almost the entire beach is covered in water and I’m glad I checked the times before we set out.

Nevertheless there was still a good half hour or so where the water was covering the best bits. To entertain ourselves we took out the trusty pocket kite.  This little chap goes with us on all of our trips and is a full-proof way to keep people entertained if there is a wait. It goes without saying that journeys to busy places like motorway service stations do not warrant the use of the kite (although with the DF family, it is always a worrying possibility)!

kite at kimmeridge

… kite flying while waiting for the tide to turn …

Once the main ledges of rocks were exposed, we set off along the beach. It was incredibly slippery. When we used to come as children, we always had a large supply of plasters with us for this outing as it was pretty likely that someone was going to take a tumble and need some knee First Aid!

The next hour or so, was spent skimming stones, inspecting rock pools and seeing what the waves had washed up (lots of seaweed and dead bits of crab mostly).  We couldn’t venture the whole way along the beach because the red flag was flying, signalling firing on the army ranges.

winkle

… winkle on the move …

 To end our morning out we went into the marine centre. It may not be the London Aquarium, but it was fantastic! They have a rock pool in the entrance with simulated wave action to keep the inhabitants happy. We spent such a long time peering over the side at the prawns and the blenny fish that would come right up to you to say hello. I loved it!

On a warm summer’s day and armed with a net, bucket and a good supply of snacks, this would be a wonderful day out and all for £5.  Bargain!

Have a lovely Sunday x

A tiny note – just to say, of course I don’t get any money for blogging about the gorgeous gems of Dorset – I do it for the love! 

At Last! A Stylish Hair Solution

mini clip

… one of the many beautiful hair clips at Stone Bridge hair accessories

I know that I don’t usually write about anything to do with hair or beauty. I think this is because I am, by no means, an expert in this field. I wanted to write this post because I had a little revelation that I wanted to share, which hopefully will help other fellow hair-strugglers. By next week, I’ll be back to talking about frog spawn or whatever else is happening at the Finca.

My hair has a complete mind of its own and my beauty regime could, at best, be regarded as umm… minimal. However, I do like to be well-presented and would happily make a bit of effort under some careful guidance.

How has this sudden epiphany occurred? I’m writing this post, as it happens, on my birthday. A time when I like to look back at the past year and shake things up a bit if they need it…

…and after seeing a friend last week with the most effortless, beautiful hair swept off her face in a chic, little plait – I have become more motivated to find a solution for my wayward tresses and not use the excuse that I’m too busy taking photos, in the garden, blogging or tackling a new project with my crochet hook. 

I turned to the lovely Melissa and Libby at Stone Bridge hair accessories.  For years, I’ve swooned over the vast array of beautiful clips, claws and hair bands on their website. My favourite go-to clips are all from them and are all still up to the job, even after 8 years of continual use.

pretty packaging

… it’s like receiving treasure in the post …

Melissa has this passion to free people from the whole ‘I can’t do anything with my hair’ mantra.  She encourages people to email, phone in and talk about their hair so that together, the best solutions and products can be found. Stone Bridge deal in luxury accessories… with materials that are carefully sourced from the best people in the business.  The online shop is stocked with a wide variety of clips, the prices of which, reflect their high quality and they pride themselves on offering something for everyone.

Liberty prints

After chatting to Melissa and Libby about my hair issues, they were eager to send me three products to try.  A barrette, claw and mini clip from a new collection, which features the most beautiful, embedded fabric from Liberty of London.  I couldn’t believe how closely they matched this print to my own style… relaxed, a bit quirky and with a garden feel – perfect!

large claw

… the large claw, which easily fits in all of my hair …

So here I am now, sitting with my hair behaving itself in its new clip and feeling extremely grown-up and effortless. It’s time to spread the joy…

If you would like a bit of advice on the sorts of accessories that would suit your hair type, follow the links to Libby’s videos. I would strongly recommend watching a few, but then getting in contact to chat specifically about your hair. Everyone is different, right?

For thick haired lovelies (I’m in this category), click here for the videos for you.

For stunners with fine hair, click here for video tips.

stone bridge hair clips

… I think the mini-clip is my favourite …

If, in the meantime, you would like to get in contact with the lovely people at Stone Bridge… You can find them at their shop, on Facebook, Twitter, on their blog or take a look at their YouTube channel.

Here’s to hair happiness!

 

Just a quick note to say that this post contains no affiliate links, so you can click away merrily without a care! x

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | Sparrow UK


fabric chicks

… the brightly coloured, enticing displays at Sparrow UK, Shaftesbury …

Last week, I stepped into the crafty world of Sparrow in Shaftesbury. It is not often that I have far too many wonderful photographs to choose from for a DDB post, as usually there are a handful that really stand out.  However, this time I had oodles of joyous pictures and the decision over which ones to include has taken me rather a long time! I hope you like the final choices…

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I tend to get lots of people asking my advice about where to go and get something small, but thoughtful.  Not only is visiting Sparrow a chance to indulge yourself with spending time in a space that oozes creativity, but it also has a wide selection of carefully chosen cards and present ideas.

Nina bracelet

When the owner, Sarah, first conceptualised the idea of the shop, she felt the importance of showcasing primarily UK items. That is definitely still her mantra and the glass cabinets, shelves and long trestle tables are stacked with UK and local made goodies. The beautiful bracelet above is one of Shaftesbury-based jeweller Nina Parker’s designs.

If you visit (I know you are very tempted now), you must make sure you go upstairs.  As you reach the top, the space opens up into the largest, light filled studio that you can imagine. It is bright and airy with a lovely view over the top of the high street. Apparently, Sarah says that she often hears people reach the top of the stairs with a large intake of breath or ‘wow’!

Sparrow shares its space with Enchanted Plants – another local business that produces the finest, organic soaps, right here on the premises. The two businesses merge together well and give you, the shopper, a lovely range of items to choose from.

green plants

The large studio space is also where Sparrow’s famous craft courses take place. Not only do you get to sit and bask in the creative atmosphere, while having tea and cake, but you can choose to learn felting, crochet, quilting and lampshade making amongst other things.  It is possible to buy gift vouchers that can be redeemed against either a course or items in the shop… a possible idea for a crafty Mother’s Day gift?

The courses that are on the horizon are:

Crochet Sock Workshop – Saturday 21st March 10am – 4pm

Lampshade Making – Saturday 11th April 10am – 12:30pm 

Needle Felting (Reindeer Workshop) – Saturday 14th November 10am – 4pm

more to see

…and of course, because you know me so well… I couldn’t leave without spending a large proportion of my time adoring Molly, the Sparrow dog-in-residence. She was so good and allowed me to take lots of photos while she posed elegantly on the counter top! Isn’t she gorgeous?

Molly dog

If you would like any further information or want to check out Sparrow’s online shop, please click here.  Sarah is always happy to help or answer any queries – I know lots of you have already chatted to her about the famous pom pom makers that I keep going on about!

Alternatively, you can find her on Facebook or Twitter.

Enjoy your day! x

 

A tiny note – just to say, of course I don’t get any money for blogging about the gorgeous gems of Dorset – I do it for the love! 

A Unique Mother’s Day Gift

sleeping hares

golden sleeping hares by Charley of *Artist Not Included …

It’s my birthday next week and I know that somewhere lurking in the Finca are two beautiful illustrations by Charley of *Artist Not Included, all wrapped up and waiting for me to open. Well, I hope all wrapped up… it wouldn’t surprise me if Mr DF hadn’t quite got that bit organised! 

Art can be a difficult gift to give. It’s so subjective and if you are presenting something quite large, the recipient can feel a little pressured to display it on their walls for ever more, even if it’s not quite their thing.

On the other hand, giving someone an illustration, print or painting can indicate that you’ve thought outside the box a bit. That you want to give them something that will last and will be a little bit special.

My new friend Charley (I met her when I wrote about her Christmas pop-up shop) has created some beautiful designs, which are for sale in her Etsy shop. Not only do I want to own almost every single one… but I think they would make the most perfect gifts for Mother’s Day.

sleeping hares 2

sleeping hares

Her range of sleeping hares are particularly apt for Mother’s Day. Lying in a nest of grass or straw, a mother hare curls up with her baby. It’s just too sweet and beautiful.

This versatile print could be displayed just as it is, on a bookshelf, framed for a nursery or placed in the kitchen. Either way, it is bound to get some admiring looks and would give enjoyment daily to the lucky mother in question.

Charley Artist Not Inc

What’s more, Charley (being seriously lovely and polite) is always on hand to offer framing advice or to take commissions, if you would like something bespoke.

If hares aren’t your bag, there are cushions, cards and canvases with a range of animals from pugs and dachshunds to birds and foxes.

You can either visit her Etsy shop here, check out her beautiful blog, or get in touch on Twitter to see what she has stashed away in her gallery studio. Please let me know which one you fall in love with…

Enjoy your day! x

Photographs kindly provided by Charley of *Artist Not Included

Please note: this post includes affiliate links. 

Planting a Wild Flower Bank

wildflower seeds

…wild flower seed mix…

At the front of the Finca there is a sunny bank. It’s mossy and green and lovely but I’ve always felt that it has never been developed to its full potential. I gave some serious thought to what we would all like to see out of our front windows. What would I like visitors to be welcomed by? When I open the front door, what would give me the warm and fuzzies?

I started imagining a bank full of wild flowers, shifting in the breeze or sending out scent on a hot summer’s day. I dreamt of a bank that changed with the seasons and always held something of interest. I wanted a view that I would want to spend lots of time looking at and enjoying.

snowdrops on bank

wildflower bank

As we are currently in February I realised that I needed to start with two things… winter/early spring planting and sowing seeds ready for later in the year. I split some large clumps of snowdrops and planted them (in what I hope) was a natural looking arrangement on the bank.  After the snowdrops, I dug up some primroses that had spread themselves wildly in other parts of the garden and added them to the mix. The bank was already starting to look like something…

In terms of the flowers for late spring/summer, I bought some cowslip and harebell seeds, as well as a wild flower mix. Choosing the right seeds took a bit of time. I had to carefully look at the maximum growing heights and chose plants that would only be a maximum of 40 – 50cm tall. They also needed to be sun lovers as the south-facing bank gets pretty mediterranean in the summer. The final consideration was to ensure that the insects and birds would enjoy this new part of the garden as much as we would, so flowers encouraging pollination and those that produce tasty seeds were a must.

This project has really excited me and I can’t wait to see how it shapes up. The seeds are all in propagators to give them a headstart and although there’s nothing happening above the surface of the soil, I can just feel that there is already something going on underneath. I just know it!

Shall I keep you posted? Have a great day x

 

P.S. Dorset’s Delicious Bits will be back from next Sunday… The post schedule had to be changed slightly due to the spruce up of the site- I hope you like it! 

 

SEE YOU ON THE OTHER SIDE…

hold on tight

I know I don’t usually post on a Monday evening, but I was worried I’d miss the boat and wouldn’t get a chance to explain what will be happening over the next few days.

It’s possible that the usual Wednesday post may have to be postponed for a few days. I am really pleased with it and I can’t wait to show it to you, but there is a small chance it may get lost en route…

…the blog is going to have a little bit of a freshen up and to allow more freedom, it is going to move over to a self-hosted wordpress.org site. Hopefully, the change should be seamless and you won’t notice a difference at all. The web address will look the same, the blog will look the same (for a few days at least) but what’s going on underneath will be a little bit more exciting.

So please hang on in there for the ride, especially if there are a few adjustments that need to be made in the first few days.

See you on the other side! x

Dorset’s Delicious Bits | MILTON ABBAS

 

milton abbas

… Milton Abbas village …

If you have ever bought a set of Dorset postcards, I bet you this iconic sight was featured on at least one of them.  White cottages with thatched roofs and manicured grass lawns line the road on either side, creating an almost artificial look.

I had a peek at the village website here, for some background information and discovered that the village was built in 1773, when the former residents of Middleton (who lived in the grounds of Milton Abbey) were relocated.  Lord Milton, who was the occupant of Milton Abbey at the time, didn’t appreciate the town being so close to him and wanted the inhabitants to be slightly further away from him! Charming!

milton abbas waiting for sun

Every year, the village holds its famous Street Fair. The wide range of exhibitors include craft stalls, dancing, music and local food. This year the date for the fair is the 25th July, from 11am – 5pm and it’s already in my diary!

Have a great Sunday x

A tiny note – just to say, of course I don’t get any money for blogging about the gorgeous gems of Dorset – I do it for the love! 

 

 

A THOUSAND THANK YOUS

1000 thank you

This rather took me by surprise… I was looking over the blog the other day, trying to decide whether I wanted to mix things up in the visual department, when I noticed…

1003 followers

WHAAAAT?!

One thousand and three. Yes, I wasn’t experiencing an internet mirage. That little number of such great significance was correct…. and was just standing there looking at me, all expectantly.

I was so overjoyed and decided that a whole post needed to be dedicated to this momentous moment.  It got me thinking about all of the things that I utterly love about the blog… here are my musings:

1. Taking photographs and sprucing them up at the editing stage really does it for me. I can get so completely wrapped up in the whole process that I can miss whole events happening around me – like the cat making off with the freshly made loaf of bread. 

2. Writing the blog gives me the opportunity to meet exceedingly creative local people. I love seeing inside the spaces in which people work and I always leave thinking that their job/hobby/home/shop is the best and maybe I should do that instead!?!

3. I have made friends with people from all over the world who also blog… and quite a few have been with me right from the very beginning of the Finca, when the pictures were all wobbly and blurry and I hadn’t quite worked my niche out yet. I really appreciate all of their support and kindness. You know who you are! :)

4. Comments and likes! I know, I know. It’s not all about the stats/comments etc… but for me it is! The Dorset Finca, in no way, has to be the coolest blog on the block but when you get a post that has lots of comments and conversation or a squillion views, it gives you the confidence to think that you might be entertaining people, which is sort of the point!  

5. I get a tingle when someone says ‘oh, are you Dorset Finca?’ I mean…. how cool is that? Indulgent, sure. But cool!

 There are so many more things, but I expect you’re desperate for that cup of tea now and a sit in the garden. I’m now off on a jolly for this weekend’s delicious bit.

Have a brilliant day!

This humungous thank you obviously also includes all of the lovely people who follow TDF via another method… bloglovin, Twitter, Facebook… Huge, huge thank yous!