Monthly Archives: June 2015

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Weekend Postcard From Devon

Coastal Flora, Rocking Dog

Coastal Flora

Having a grand time in Devon. Rainy trip down but would you credit it, the sun came out just as we set up camp. Very nice campsite called Karrageen. Clean facilities and helpful respectable owners. They even ordered fresh bread and pastries for our breakfast. In the evening we strolled down the mile or so to Hope Cove. We had a grand slap up meal in the Hope and Anchor and watched the sun begin to set. In the morning we headed off to see Burgh Island and it’s art deco hotel. What a posh hotel- I bet that hotel has seen a thing or two! Edward and Mrs Simpson stayed there before they got married (tut tut!) and Agatha Christie even set two of her books there. We walked up to the top of the island and saw the little ruined chapel which became the huers hut. Fishermen would “hue and cry” down to fishermen in the sea below if they saw a shoal of pilchards (reminds me of scenes in Poldark). Of course everything’s been overfished now. Oh I do love some pilchards on toast! Well we didn’t get anything to eat on the island, the miserable hotel owners have banned picnicking- it’s a travesty! Would you believe it that by the time we walked back down the hill the tide had come in. We had to roll up our trousers and paddle back. The blooming dog didn’t like the swim and tried to drink the water. I’d have loved to have gone back in the old sea tractor, but think that’s reserved for hotel guests just like the heli-pad! The sun was blazing and we headed to Salcombe, my what a busy little town and it’s not even high summer. We sat on a bench and watched all the toings and froings of the boats, and being so hot we had to sample the Salcombe ice cream, grand! Stopped in at Kingsbridge today, a pleasant little town with quaint buildings. Driving rain, so we decided to call it a day. By the time you get this we’ll be back home. Hope you are feeling a bit more chipper and that you’re getting out and about. See you for tea and a chin-wag soon.L, A and the exhausted dog x
PS. Was going to buy you clotted cream but thought it would be off before I saw you.

I tried to write this in the style of my late grandmother Nellie, leaving out all the various health issues and negativity. Actually Nellie’s postcard would have probably gone- “Having nice time, legs not playing up too much, cold much better. bit too hot for my liking. Back Friday, I hope you are remembering to water the garden. New tablets working. Grandma x”

It was a lovely weekend in a truly lovely part of England.

Sunny Hope Cove, Rocking Dog

Sunny Hope Cove

Burgh Island Hotel, Rocking Dog

Burgh Island Hotel

Deco Metalwork, Rocking Dog

Deco Metalwork

Hue & Cry, Rocking Dog

Hue & Cry

Sea Tractor, Rocking Dog

Sea Tractor

Exhausted Doggy, Rocking Dog

Exhausted Doggy

Going In Search Of Sand Dunes and Salty Air

Chair Packed!, Rocking Dog

Chair Packed!

Real Live Rocking Dog is going in search of Sand Dunes and Salty Air, Quaint little villages here and there….(Groove Armada At The River)
His very own chair is packed and seeing our little teardrop caravan on the drive today has been unsettling for him. Hamish knows that the mini home on wheels generally means sea, beaches, balls, frying sausages and snuggling up cosily in bed with his owners!

Lead me down the velvet trail, to the shingle and the sea….. (Marc Almond The Velvet Trail)

Real Live Rocking Dog simply LOVES camping!

I Love Camping!, Rocking Dog

I Love Camping!

Sand & Salty Air, Rocking Dog

Sand & Salty Air

1960's Siblings & Sand Dunes, Rocking Dog

1960’s Siblings & Sand Dunes

Cherry Time Is Here!

A Favourite Verse, Rocking Dog

A Favourite Verse

I value my garden for being full of blackbirds than of cherries, and very frankly give them fruit for their songs. Joseph Addison. An appropriate verse for this sunny cherry season.

I can thoroughly recommend the Vin Santo trifle recipe. Taken from “Food For Friends” by Fran Warde the boozy pud’ is a concoction of biscotti, fresh figs, cherries, mascarpone and Vin Santo. Vin Santo (holy wine) is a sweet wine which is enjoyed in Italy often with biscotti for dunking… DELICIOUS! Yotam Ottolenghi has a fantastic biscotti recipe which includes dried sour cherries

A page from Mark Hearld’s Workbook, forms the backdrop for “Blackbird Worship”. Mark designs beautiful books, textiles, wallpapers and cards which depict flora and fauna. I would LOVE to have a sneaky peak into the York home he shares with designer Emily Sutton. He and Emily sell their wares through St Jude’s and Art Angels.

The cherry scarf was a recent buy in Sainsbury’s (Tu) and a great hair tidy up!

I am hoping that in the coming sunny days we will indeed be able to pick cherries. However, some very fat pigeons appear to have their beady eyes on the clumps of scarlet fruit. So much for sweet singing blackbirds!

The Blossom, Rocking Dog

The Blossom

Ripening Fruit, Rocking Dog

Ripening Fruit

Wearable Cherries, Rocking Dog

Wearable Cherries

Boozy Cherry Pud', Rocking Dog

Boozy Cherry Pud’

Cherry Refreshment, Rocking Dog

Cherry Refreshment

Blackbird Worship, Rocking Dog

Blackbird Worship

Latest Kitsch Purchase. More Worthless Crud!

Mother Of Pearl Virgin Mary, Rocking Dog

Mother Of Pearl Virgin Mary

Rocking Dog loves a bit of kitsch! This is especially true when mixing shells and Virgin Mary’s together.

The car needed a minor fix and this gave me the opportunity to do a quick trawl down Gloucester Road, Bristol. Nationally Gloucester Road is often hailed as a fantastic example of how a thriving inner city street should be. It is full of independent shops and cafe’s, with literally a butcher, a baker and candlestick maker. It also has some great charity shops. My latest Mary was found in the Heart Foundation shop for £3.49. I know it’s more crud for the kids to clear and be exasperated over when i’m dead and buried … but I will love her! She even has a shell to fill with holy water, but a Roman Catholic I am not.

I have always loved religious grotto’s (I blame Bernadette of Lourdes) and so enjoyed the amazing kindergarten pastiche in Umbria. A truly amazing un-religious grotto can be spied in the grounds of Goldney Hall, Bristol. Constructed in the 1700’s it uses shells, rock crystal, and quartz as a backdrop for atmospheric rock pools, fountains and statues. Yummy!

Our Kitchen has it’s very own sprinkling of religious devotion. When we moved to the house Mr Dursley left us his Victorian Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross depict Jesus Christ on the day of his crucifixion. They are commonly found in Roman Catholic Churches, together with places of other religious denominations. Fourteen in number they are arranged in order, and groups or individuals stop at each image and say prayers and reflections. Each Good Friday the Pope leads the Stations Of The Cross around the Colosseum in Rome. The Stations of the Cross are also known as the Via Dolorosa (Way of Sorrows). The Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem is believed to be the actual path Jesus walked. I know not where Mr D acquired our Stations of the Cross. At first glance they look like carved stone, but are in fact plaster bandages on wooden batons. There is a lovely note on the back of one of them saying that they were cleaned in the 1920’s by two gentlemen. There are three missing, so if by any chance there is someone out there with the remaining plaques…..

For a religious imagery fix I enjoy a night in with Romeo and Juliet. Of course the appropriate wine to drink would have to be Blue Nun!

Italian Kindergarten Virgin Mary, Rocking Dog

Italian Kindergarten Virgin Mary

Mary Overload, Rocking Dog

Mary Overload

Kitchen Religion, Rocking Dog

Kitchen Religion

It’s Been A While. Shame On You Rocking Dog!

Hand Washing a la Francais!, Rocking Dog

Hand Washing a la Francais!

Writer’s Block has rather taken it’s toll on me this sunny June! Thankfully I possessed enough verve to complete envelopes for some important “Save The Dates”. It was lovely to put my recently acquired calligraphy skills to use (thank you to Meticulous Ink and The Makery). Another envelope project was to pretty up a plain envelope to gift some cash. A ripped Selvedge magazine image and Mrs Beetonesque calendar cake shred did the trick in a jiffy!

The memories of Chelsea Flower Show still casts a warm glow, and I have been busy trying to make strides with my own garden. The latest purchase has been an old roll top bath from Ebay. This is the first one of a planned four which will form raised beds for my kitchen garden. This time next year the baths will hopefully be bursting forth with salad leaves, herbs, chard and a myriad of other edibles. Not quite The Good Life…. but…!

The garden is a sea of pretty weeds, new planting, and Mr Dursley’s pesky rubble. Mole hills (Grrr!) proliferate at an alarming rate. I even glimpsed the mischievous velvety little fella doing his worst! To add to the general mayhem we are having a new run of fencing, but this has come to a grinding halt. A blackbird is sweetly, but everso slightly inconveniently nesting on the rear of one of the old panels. Work will therefore restart once the chicks have fledged, Aaaahhh! Meanwhile, confetti production continues, cherries ripen, elderflowers need picking for summery concoctions and we need rain to replenish the brook.

Sewing has recommenced with Rocking Dog making laundry bags to stash away items for hand washing. All too often a favourite woollen or silk scarf has mis-adventured into the washing machine. Has it happened to you? I guessed a drawstring bag to separate delicates could be useful. Using pretty up-cycled fabrics for the gloved hand appliqué, I then hand stamped the bags with the words “Lavage a la Main” (which I truly hope means washing by hand in French). These bags will be for sale at a future Rocking Dog event. They would be perfect for packing in a holiday suitcase.

Another laundry project has been to wash and starch some lovely 1930’s table linen. Oh decisions, which pieces can I bear to part with…. and just exactly how many tablecloths does a girl need?!

Finally we all have to eat… and how lovely to use rhubarb from the garden for a Jamie Oliver recipe. Summer on a plate!

Rocking Dog is pleased to be writing again.

Vintage Laundry, Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

Cash Envelope, Rocking Dog

Cash Envelope

Save The Date!, Rocking Dog

Save The Date!

Garden Confetti, Rocking Dog

Garden Confetti

Ebay Roll Top Bath Time, Rocking Dog

Ebay Roll Top Bath Time

Summer Cooking, Rocking Dog

Summer Cooking

Something For The Weekend- Garden Bouquet

Scented Bunch, Rocking Dog

Scented Bunch

Today I wanted to take my Octogenarian friend a gift. I didn’t want to go to the shops. I headed out to the garden with my scissors and gathered flowers for a Rocking Dog hand-tie.

For your own hand-tied bunch, cut flowers of similar lengths and create a bouquet in the palm of your hand as you go. When you feel that you have created a generous enough bunch, do a little pimping still clutching the bouquet firmly in your hand. When you are happy with the overall effect, bind the bunch with some garden string. You can do this if you are dextrous whilst still holding the bunch. However, if you are like me a bit cack-handed, lay the bouquet carefully on a surface to bind. Cut the firmly bound stems to an equal length and add a tie of ribbon or raffia if wished. Voila! A fabulous scented bouquet that has literally cost nothing to create, and invariably more lovely than shop bought flowers. See a hand-tied bunch done properly by the amazing Sarah Raven.

Give your masterpiece away if you can bear!

Our England really is beautiful at the moment, it really makes me want to burst into “Jerusalem”! We are lucky enough to have a meadow (not ours) behind our home (we’ll forget the minor detail of the thumping big motorway too). The meadow is a mass of wild sorrel, moon daisies, clover, cow parsley, red campion and a host of other species without names. We are enjoying it whilst we still can, because very soon some truly mad cows will be grazing this pasture. Until then, Real Live Rocking Dog just loves rolling in the grasses feeling the sun on his tummy!

Whatever you are doing this weekend and whichever part of the world you’re in have a lovely one.

Cottage Garden Loveliness, Rocking Dog

Cottage Garden Loveliness

Flower Filled Meadow, Rocking Dog

Flower Filled Meadow

Wanting To Play, Rocking Dog

Wanting To Play

2015 -It’s A Good Year For The Roses!

Rambling Rose, Rocking Dog

Rambling Rose

The Roses are blooming! Despite their terrible start with two weeks spent in the cellar and then the desperate digging in with snow on the ground…they are positively thriving. 2015 – It’s a good year for the roses!

With so many blooms Rocking Dog is utilising the scented petals for confetti. The dining table is therefore laden with racks lined with absorbent paper- and sprinkled with rose petals of various hues. Honeysuckle adds another scent, colour and texture. The smell throughout the house is simply intoxicating.

Flowers are best picked in the morning after any dew has evaporated. This will maximise the scent.

Dried for a few days, they will then be stored in large airtight jars until needed. Beautiful scented bio-degradable confetti for free.

Alternatively petals can be brushed with egg white and dusted with caster sugar, dried overnight and used to decorate cakes. Of course fresh roses can be used to decorate cakes for dramatic effect. Sweet memories of Umbria and Michele & Co!

Scented Confetti, Rocking Dog

Scented Confetti

Honeysuckle, Rocking Dog

Honeysuckle

There's Always Cake!, Rocking Dog

There’s Always Cake!

Celebrate The Bountiful Asparagus Season

Pimp The Plate, Rocking Dog

Pimp The Plate

Asparagus, you timely shoot,
You portent of the spring,
Volley through the golden dew,
Pierce your purple blazing sting;
Spear the cloying mud and grass,
Burst them with your mast,
Break into the waking summer,
Brave until the last.

Taken from Ode to Asparagus by Thomas Ironmonger.

Let’s celebrate the sadly short British asparagus season. Last night we feasted on Cod caught off Alderney by a fanatical fishing friend. We roasted the fish in the oven with flavoursome cherry tomatoes left on the vine, black olives, seasoning and a drizzle of olive oil. Asparagus briefly cooked, together with ciabatta (to mop up all the luscious juices) accompanied the fishy dish. Simple and simply delicious!

Spear Plate, Rocking Dog

Spear Plate

Asparagus Crown, Rocking Dog

Asparagus Crown

Cook Me!, Rocking Dog

Cook Me!

Fine Cheese- Home & Away

Cheese At Home, Rocking Dog

Cheese At Home

I nipped into Bath for supplies of Calligraphy nibs at Meticulous Ink on Walcot Street yesterday. I couldn’t resist taking refuge from the rain and dipped into The Fine Cheese Company for coffee and a cheese plate. Delicious!

With the sun beckoning I left the cafe for the array of cheeses and delicious deli’ goodies next door. Black olives the size of small pebbles, biscuits, a slither of Wyfe of Bath and round of St Marcellin packaged, I took my leave.

I love Walcot Street it still retains an aura of scruffiness and realness. There are picture framers, charity shops, junk shops and cafe’s. Farrow & Ball, a wedding couturier (Jessica Charleston), Meticulous Ink and The Fine Cheese Company also sit comfortably on the street. The Saturday flea market also adds to the ambience of this long quirky street.

How appropriate to dig out a French plate at home with the Saint Marcellin goat. The twelve plates were found in a Normandy brocante over a decade ago. Each feature different French cheese varieties with ewe, cow and goat illustrations. My home cheese plate features my daughter Sorrel’s Jewelled Membrillo (quince paste)

The cheese wedding cake was one I put together for a friend in 2012. It fed the guests resplendently in between the evenings’ dancing and frivolity!

Pit Stop, Bath, Rocking Dog

Pit Stop, Bath

Fine Cheese Plate, Rocking Dog

Fine Cheese Plate

Enticing Sign, Rocking Dog

Enticing Sign

Appropriate Tableware, Rocking Dog

Appropriate Tableware

Cheese & ......, Rocking Dog

Cheese & ……

Cheesy Wedding Cake, Rocking Dog

Cheesy Wedding Cake