Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Time for a haircut!

It's been so hot in the last week and Daisy hasn't been enjoying it, so it was fortunate that her 7 week  regular haircut was due on Friday morning. I'm not sure she would agree with me, if she could talk, as she doesn't enjoy having baths or anyone touching her feet.

 We are lucky that the dog groomer lives at the bottom of our road, or so I thought until now! Daisy definitely knew that something was up on Friday morning and was reluctant to walk down the road. So a walk that should take no time at all, took an age, with Daisy stopping to take interest in every smell! Westland Highland Terriers are lovely dogs with a wonderful disposition, but one of their failings is they can be very stubborn!

Her appointment was almost at the same time as the time the bus was due, and as we approached the bus stop I noticed a friend in the queue. I explained that Daisy was off to have her hair cut and everyone else standing waiting for the bus suddenly became interested in us too and followed our progress!

Having left Daisy at the groomers I retraced my steps to be greeted with applause when I reached the bus stop! I am happy to report that when I picked Daisy up she was very smart and did the journey home in record time - but this time we didn't have the audience!

Welcome to my new followers one from Russia (I'm sorry I can't work out the name) and Shirley, it's great to meet you.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Art, craft and blue skies.

When the skies are blue
And the world is bright
I am smiling also -
Let us bask in the sunshine.
(extract from  Blue skies poem by Wayner Visser)

Those lines above just illustrate how wonderful and better things seem in the sunshine! What better way of appreciating it than getting outside and enjoying it, and that's exactly what we have been doing this weekend. We went over to Bridport to look around the Saturday open street market. Stalls line either side of the street selling a range of goods from bric-a-brac and antiques to food and plants. You never know what you will see!

The post box wasn't for sale, items had just been placed around it!

Julie from Aunt Jane's Attic had a stall at the craft market and we popped into meet her and bought one of her beautiful cards and a lavender bag. They were so unique and beautifully presented that I wish I had bought more ! I'll just have to go over there again, it was lovely to meet you Julie.

Saturday was also the start of a Dorset Arts weeks when 360 venues are open to the public featuring over 1,000 artists. Do other areas have events like this? This is the 11th year that this event has run and it is a great opportunity to view the artists work and talk to them too. We visited Jude a glass artist-specialising in stained and decorative glass. I love stained glass and have a small example at home (sea themed of course!) I loved the way Jude's pieces are linked to the Dorset countryside and coast.

Also close-by was a beautiful garden filled with sculptural ceramics made by Caroline. They were beautiful pieces and added an extra dimension to the garden, she was very welcoming and told us all about her craft.

On the way back to the car we passed a stall selling fresh local asparagus. I had to buy some and it made a wonderful asparagus tart, which we enjoyed alfresco in the garden, with the first of the swifts flying over head -  what bliss.

Finally a walk on the beach, in the late evening sunshine - the waves were quite large with a fresh warming breeze making us feel so alive!

Hope you were able to bask in the sunshine too over the weekend!

Welcome to my new followers Julie , ClaireJudeJolanda and Sally. I'm sorry I forgot to say welcome in my last post so there is a long list this time, it's great to have you following!
 Sarah x

Thursday, 24 May 2012


I'm not a fan of sat navs, call me old fashioned but I prefer maps. As a child I used to love looking at an atlas and visualising all the counties in the world. I also used to collect stamps and the atlas would bring those countries alive for me. Even today when I have visitors to this blog from aboard, I instantly pull up a map to see where they live - old habits die hard!

ICounties of England - See below for information of each  English county

It suddenly occurred to me the other day that others might want to do the same for where I live, so hopefully this post will do just that. Dorset is in the south-west of England on the coast of the English Channel. Weymouth is 109 miles (175 km) south-west from London.

It is easy to forget that Britain is an island, did you know that nowhere is more than 70 miles (113km) from the sea? Sometimes it doesn't feel like it!

Map of Dorset

Dorset has 70 miles (100km) of coastline, most of which is part of the Jurassic Coast which is a World Hertiage site. The rocks in this area record 185 million years of the earth's history and are popular for fossil hunters. The first inhabitants were Mesolithic hunters living here around 12,500 BC. It is mainly a rural area with some towns and villages and is one of the few counties in England still without a motorway.
It is often described as a photographer's paradise and a sea captain's nightmare. Unfortunately only this week a fishing boat has sunk claiming three local fishermens' lives. I feel so sorry for the families left behind. The sea can still be a cruel master.

So you can see with all that picturesque coastline that it is not difficult to write about down by the sea in Dorset!

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Aquilegias and wild garlic

This week the aquilegias are looking so beautiful in the garden that I just had to share some of them with you!

We originally bought 3 plants over 20 years ago and now I have over 70 ! I asked my OH how many we had and he thought there was only about 15! I hate pulling the seedlings up but I didn't realise until now that there were quite that many! They are such an easy plant to grow, the slugs and snails don't eat them, they seed well (!) and they provide colour in the garden between the period of the spring flowers going over, and the June flowers, such as roses and daises and geraniums, taking over.....

As they seed themselves you will get different flowers, our colours are mainly purple, pink and white and shades in between.

The wild garlic (alium ursinum) is out in full flower too in the woods. This is our favourite wood nestling in the shadow of the South Dorset Downs, with the River Jordan running through it. An evening walk here is always top of our list, particularly at this time of year.

Isn't this view so beautiful !
The leaves from the wild garlic can be picked and made into wild garlic pesto - delicious with pasta or on pizza! I always make some at this time of year see Recipe here. I have also used the leaves to add to butter to make garlic butter, which can then be frozen until needed.

Daisy is looking quite white at the moment following a few baths, as she has been in disgrace the last 2 weekends after she has found something smelly and delightful (in her opinion only) to roll in!

I had to include this photo which is on our return walk from the woods, down the lane past the banks of Cow Parsley (Queens Anne Lace) , which was also shown in the last post too.

I hope you too are also enjoying the flowers erupting all around us, (or the colours of Autumn for those of you in the Southern Hemisphere.)

Sarah x

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Following a tree - visit 5

Hi everyone again! I have had a few problems with my previous post about foraging as it isn't properly showing up on other bloggers following lists, so like the supermarkets you have a special offer of two for one!

It's about a month now seen we last visited the willow tree I am following all year. To look at previous posts see tab at the top of my blog. If you are interested in joining in there are details of how to contact Lucy who is coordinating it.

  The tree is now in full leaf and looks lovely in the late evening sunshine...

The banks are growing tall with stinging nettle and cow parsley. I wish the flowering of cow parsley would last longer than just a few weeks in May. It is such a shame that the council always cuts the verges around here just before the cow parsley reaches it's peak.

I have noticed by following a tree that I am fully appreciating the changes in it's life cycle. I hope you are enjoying the pictures too.


I hope you have a great weekend  - for more of a nature theme, see foraging below, if you have missed it!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Food for free down at the sea shore

During the bank holiday weekend we went down to the beach, on a guided walk foraging for food. We spent a few hours on the seashore looking for food to eat. It didn't rain but the wind made it feel so cold even with hat and gloves on . I can't remember when I last wore hats and gloves in May! When I opened my Country Living magazine for June Sarah Raven was showing plants that grow by the seashore, I'm afraid my photographs don't capture the sun and warmth like hers do!

This plant above is Jack-by-the hedge but is also known as Garlic Mustard or Sauce alone ( I love some of the old names). I have eaten this before it has a mild garlic flavour and is nice in sandwiches or added to salad. The flowers can also be eaten, the leaves smell of garlic if lightly rubbed.

Wild sea beet ,sea beet or sea spinach is found all around the coast line in the UK on the upper part of the beach. It can be used like spinach but it may need slightly looker cooking .

These are St Georges Mushrooms and are named because they appear around St Georges Day. I have never heard or seen them before, has anyone else?

We were also shown the different types of seaweed we can eat. There are between 20-30 edible seaweeds in the UK. These included the green one in the picture growing from the rocks, this should be cut up and cooked as chinese crispy seaweed. The smaller red one can be used in place of gelatine.

Item image

Finally we looked at shellfish and food from the sea. We found cockles, muscles,winkles,clams,razor fish and prawns, but not enough to make a meal!. It was a real eye opener to realise how much food is available in such a small area! So next time you are down on the beach take a closer look around you.

We have found this little pocket book which we keep in our rucksack, to be very useful. It is written by Richard Mabey and lists over 100 edible plants, berries, mushrooms, seaweed and shellfish. It also gives recipes too.

I had planned to post this at the weekend but then the sun came out and I had to share the sunshine with you instead!

Welcome and hello to Karen and Vagabonde thank you so much for joining my following.

Happy foraging!

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Sunshine and sea

Hurrah! The sun has returned - Val promised to send us some from Portugal and it must have worked!  So we had to get out and enjoy it while it lasted.....

We decided to go to Portland and visit the Chesil Beach.  If you remember we have visited it previously in my blog - other visits have been to Abbotsbury (half way along) and West Bay (at the far end).

The size of the pebbles here are the largest on the whole stretch of the beach, it's amazing that they are the size of grains of sand 18 miles away  (28km) at West Bay.

 The rowing boats on the beach are used for fishing and have such wonderful names - one was called Jackpo the other Try Again. I wonder which one catches most fish!

As you know the Olympics is being held in London in 76 days time. Did you also know that the Sailing events are being held here in Weymouth and Portland ? Maybe you will see pictures of my home town broadcast around the world. Competitors have already arrived to practice, some countries even purchased houses in the area many years ago. The Australians have adopted the pub in the distance above, so there is likely to be many beach barbecues weather permitting!

I think these are just local boats, there are usually sailing lessons for children on Saturday mornings.

Behind the beach is a secret community garden built on the foundations of a Jacobean mansion, we rarely see anyone else in there when we visit, but it always looks beautiful.

The sea thift is just coming into flower, what a difference the sunshine makes, I hope it has shined on you  too this weekend.

Welcome and hello to my new followers Posie,and Paula and Susan it's lovely to have you on board!
Sarah x

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

May in the garden

Don't you think these leaves  are so beautiful? As usual I was out walking Daisy, and they caught my eye. I suddenly remember the illustration of the beech flower fairy in the books by Cicely Mary Barker. My mum was given some by her aunties as a birthday present in 1930 and I still have them. I loved looking at these pictures as a child, and had to relook at them when I got home from our walk.

Cicely Mary Barker (1895-1973) produced 168 flower faires  illustrations between 1923 and 1948. Her sister ran a kindergarten and Mary would borrow her students for models. Her books were also published by Blackie and Son Ltd the same publisher as Beatrix Potter.
Below is one of her poems:-

  Guelder Rose
There are two little trees:
In the garden there grows
The one with the snowballs;        
All children love those!

The other small tree
Not everyone knows,
With her blossoms spread flat-
Yet they're both Guelder Rose!

But the garden Guelder has nothing
When her beautiful balls are shed:
While in Autumn her wild little sister
Bears berries of ruby red!
(Cicely Mary Barker)
We only have the flat guelder rose in our garden

I always feel sorry for plants in the shops that are reduced, and I am always drawn over to look to see if there are any I can revive and of course find a bargain! ( I'm afraid my de-cluttering and more minimalist living hasn't reached the garden yet!) This clematis was reduced to £1.99 last week, it looked very sad and bedraggled and now look at it .....

Almost the last of the tulips.
All the rain has made the garden look so green and lush.

I hope the sun comes out soon, there are so many jobs to do in the garden at this time of year!

Welcome and hello to my new follower Carolyn thank you for joining me.

 Sarah x

Sunday, 6 May 2012

Let's go fly a kite!

Weymouth, being a popular seaside destination usually has special events on bank holidays weekends, and this weekend we have had an international Kite festival on the beach. The festival has taken place in Weymouth annually for the last 20 years. 

For once the sun shone and the sky was transformed by unusual colourful objects such as a flying octopus, a teddy bear and even a pair of dangling legs!

We took the dog for a walk, and stopped at our favourite beach side cafe for a coffee and to watch the kites. There were many families on the beach flying their kites, unfortunately one blew across the road and got tangled in old street lamp, it was quite a job getting it down!

A team from Holland flew their kites synchronised to music, it was a wonderful sight and I marvelled at their expertise. We have never been very good at flying kites, the children had a few over the years, but they never seem to stay in the air for very long!

The swing boats are so colourful, I had to include this picture!

Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite

And send it soaring

Up through the atmosphere

Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite!

Written by Robert B. Sherman

 I hope you have a good weekend and found some sunshine too!
Welcome and hello to my new follower Filipa.


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