A Sweet Send-Off

sweet potato and butternut squash soup

pretty glass tea light candle

stag head on the wall at the barn cafe

the most amazing rocky road cake

In my day-job-life as opposed to my blog-life, I am about to start at a new workplace.  An exciting change but also a sad departure from a place where I have been very happy for many years.  On my last few days, I was spoilt with cakes and presents, beautiful cards and good wishes and last Friday, we went out for a wonderfully indulgent lunch at The Barn Cafe.

Situated on the outskirts of Lytchett Matravers and nestled within a courtyard of shops, the Barn Cafe boasts a mesmerising selection of beautiful cakes and a great lunch menu, which includes freshly made soups and sandwiches.

I was relieved that we had reserved a table as it was so busy and the day was too cold to make use of the pretty outside seating area. In the short breaks in-between all of the chatting, we ordered rounds of pea and mint soup, butternut squash and sweet potato soup, as well as brie and bacon paninis with tortilla chips and salad.  Everyone had their eyes on a particular cake for pudding and it wasn’t long after our main course had been polished off, that we welcomed the arrival of enormous slices of Rocky Road, a rice crispy cake with chocolate topping, lemon sponge and a creamy chai latte (for me)! I am having a serious chai latte obsession right now (I think it’s because of the cold weather that we’ve been having and it’s just so warming and yummy)!

Our table was booked for someone else at 3:30pm and we’d all exclaimed at the beginning of the lunch how we would be long-gone by then… we all had different plans for the afternoon and in any case, we’d arrived at 12pm – what could we have to chat about for that long?! So you can imagine the shrieks when we realised that it was well past 3 and we were likely to be turfed out at any moment!

H x



What’s Growing On My Windowsill?

thyme seedlings in hand

cornflower seedlings on my windowsill

rosemary seeds on my palm

Dark and moody photos for a dark and moody few days.  Having not been able to get out into the garden to do any jobs, I’ve been resorting to greening up my kitchen windowsill in the hope that I can get seeds started before they have to cope with the crazy weather outside.

I was given a packet of Cornflower seeds by a friend along with a pretty, greeny-blue bucket to plant them in (I think you can get these in Marks and Spencer).  Although it is supposed to be a patio arrangement, the instructions suggested planting inside first, which I did.  I couldn’t get over how fast these seeds germinated; there were mounds of soil being pushed up by the sprouting seeds within 2 days. By the end of day 4, there were little green heads covering the soil’s surface.  The only downside to their speediness is that they have been very quickly bending their leaves to face the light and I need to continually turn the bucket around to encourage them to grow straight up. The minute the weather looks as if it is going to settle, I’ll put them outside to be surrounded by sunlight (ha)!

Mr D-F bought me a little present the last time he was out – a packet of Thyme and a packet of Rosemary seeds. Isn’t he a cutie?! The Thyme has germinated quickly, thanks to the warmth in the kitchen, but the small shoots have grown on much more slowly compared to the lightening-fast Cornflowers. I’ve been a bit disappointed with the Rosemary seeds as they haven’t germinated at all. It’s been roughly two weeks now and not a sign. I think I’ll need to ditch the seed idea and buy a small Rosemary plant instead.  At least that will mean that I can use the leaves in my cooking much sooner!

Please leave me a comment below if you’ve done any planting recently and let me know what you went for. x

A Large Fish And A Celebrity Dog ~ Oh, And A Trip To Compton Acres

pretty pink pom pom plant
view of the pond at Compton Acres in Dorsetlight pink camelia

The sun appeared a little this week – did you manage to see it?! And although it was pretty windy, nothing was going to stop me from getting outside, so a friend and I headed out to Compton Acres (a privately owned garden in Poole, Dorset). The plan was to have a walk around the gardens, stop for tea and have a wander in amongst the plants in their garden shop.

Even though the recent cold weather seemed to have had an effect and many plants were only just showing their faces (or leaves), there were still Magnolia, Camellia and alpine plants to enjoy.  We also spent time gawping at the enormous leaves on some of the rhododendron specimens. They were so big – like bigger than your head big!

My friend brought her beautiful little dog (a jack russell/border terrier cross in case you are wondering – we got asked so many times)! Her dog is amazingly well-behaved and she has such an expressive face that she quickly became a celebrity: we were stopped, talked to, had photos taken… all because of little madam here. It was really funny and she loved every minute.

little dog sniffing the waters edgelittle jack russell border terrier crossbeautiful little jack russell border terrier crosslittle dog and coi carp almost kissing

She was particularly taken with the gargantuan Koi Carp in the Japanese gardens. They almost had a kiss at one point! She wasn’t growling or barking at them, we think that she just wanted to get close enough for a sniff and to check out what sort of thing they were. There were three very dark coloured Koi, that would appear from the shadows like stealthy ninjas and they were quite sinister in the way that they lurked about.

brie and cranberry sandwich

After an hour or so walking through the various parts of the gardens and taking funny photos with the statues, we were hungry and in need of a cup of tea. The people in the cafe were incredibly helpful, friendly and had no problem with us bringing a little dog in to sit beneath our feet.  The only issue with this was that we spent most of our lunchtime in deep conversation with a couple sitting next to us about the pros and cons of different dog breeds, how beautiful our little companion terrier was and wasn’t she a good girl?…

You get the picture!


What I’m Currently Reading ~ April

What I’m Currently Reading ~ April

Firstly, where did March go?! It was such a blur of snow, family birthdays and more snow that I didn’t get to post my March reads. Sorry about that! I would normally post my current selection of books on-the-go in the middle of the month, however, I have just been given this book and I am already very much taken with it. I couldn’t wait to share.

After my initial – ha! The title! moment, I was struck by how beautiful this book is from the outside. A green-grey cover with pictures of multi-coloured succulents and cacti have already whisked it to the top of my coffee table book stash.

Titled: Prick – Cacti and Succulents: Choosing, Styling and Caring by Gynelle Leon

This book gives you a bit of background information on the rise and popularity of cacti and succulents before launching into a wonderfully informative directory of the most interesting species. There is also a handy care-guide and problem-diagnosis section, which I will need to refer to as my succulent collection continues to grow. This book would make such a beautiful gift for anyone interested in interiors, styling and houseplants – it’s a great one to have in the back of your mind for a housewarming or birthday present.

I’m looking forward to settling down this evening to plan my next cactus purchase! Have a lovely day x


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What I’m Currently Reading ~ February

What I’m Currently Reading ~ February

Perhaps it’s the cold, dreary weather or maybe I’ve been trying to take a bit of time out just to calm my busy mind, but I’ve been getting into some wonderful books recently.  I thought it might be a nice idea to share what I’m reading each month and hopefully you’ll feel like leaving me a comment with new recommendations of what to read next! Sound like a plan? Right, let’s dive in.

I discovered this first book through someone that I follow on Instagram. The title and blurb of the book just called to me and it did not disappoint. It fitted exactly what I was in need of and it’s so good, that I’ve started reading it again for the second time!

It is: Mastering Your Mean Girl by Melissa Ambrosini

melissa ambrosini mastering your mean girl

I originally bought this on Kindle (as you can see above!) but I think that it is quite a good book to have in the real as I constantly was flipping back and forth trying to remember the good tips that she provides.

The ‘Mean Girl’ that she refers to in the title and throughout the book is your inner voice/critic/ego.  This book celebrates self love, self worth and advocates the important message that before you can give to others, you need to be overflowing with feeling great about yourself.

She discusses how to get the most out of relationships, the importance of working out what ‘healthy’ looks like to you and not being afraid to go there. Her messages really encourage you to go out and make the most of each and every day, which totally resonated with me. I would love Mr D-F to read it too, but I have prepared him that the book is more geared towards a female audience and I’m not sure how he will get along with the tone, however the messages are applicable to anyone.

Whether you love the ‘self-help’ genre of books or you’ve never gone there before, I really recommend the read. I LOVED IT!

Check it out on Amazon, here.

The other book I’ve been diving into is a bit of a throwback. I adored this book growing up…

my family and other animals

My Family And Other Animals by Gerald Durrell

I remember reading this in my teens and dreaming of a life in the sunshine, even then. The book chronicles the crazy antics of a family and the creatures and animals that they encounter along their journeys. It is a laugh out loud, beautifully written book which, if it isn’t already, will become a firm favourite on your shelves.

My favourite bit is the scorpions at the table… if you’ve read it, you’ll know exactly the bit I’m talking about!

What are your favourite reads? Can you recommend me something for March? x


Free Downloadable Menu Planners

AFeatheredNestListSince the arrival of our fruit and veg box every week, we have had to be super organised to make sure that nothing goes to waste and that every meal is planned to veg-tastic-ness.

I had a bit of a search around and found this beautiful menu planner from A Feathered Nest.  You can download it here.

For us, this one works the best.

However, if you want a bit more choice over your meal planner…

this blog post at Fab N’ Free

(which can I say is so aesthetically beautiful – I just like staring at it),

has over 20 free meal planners to download.


I know. Amazing.

Love from The Dorset Finca x