Monthly Archives: August 2016

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Gone To Check On the Olives

Olive Groves, Rocking Dog

Olive Groves

Italy bound for a short while.

Meanwhile there is lots going on here while we are away.

Our boy heads out to Rio with the Paralympians on Tuesday. Despite all the negative publicity regarding financial shortfalls etc.. the British athletes are looking forward to the games immensely. Working in Communications for British Athletics, Alex has had the immense privilege to witness first hand the incredible efforts these particular athletes in put in to strive for gold. Good Luck to you all.

Sorrel and Pete celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary whilst we are away. I couldn’t ask for a lovelier and more caring son in law. Sorrel’s not so bad either!! Many congratulations lovely folk.

I can’t leave out little Liv‘, she has been working on Christmas 2016 from just after Christmas 2015. A copywriter for Harrods, the Christmas department is just about to happen. Oh no it isn’t, Oh yes it is!! I loved my gift of fig baubles last year…. i’m not expecting…but…I do NEED a few more decorations!!

Another member of the family to mention. Real Live Rocking Dog is going to be 9 while we are away. Maybe Dougie will allow you a piece of his precious Pek if you are not TOO grumpy!

My lovely niece Iona opens her GCSE results today. Hope you are happy with what’s printed on the paper Iona. Exciting times for the three nieces. We love you all.

Finally, I don’t like being away from my gorgeous friend who has had a monumental challenge to face. You are doing so well, and I am truly in awe of you. Your gorgeous family are… well… frankly gorgeous. I will be back soon with hopefully new things to chatter about and items for you to look at and hold. So love you x

Much love to all Rocking Dog blog readers, thank you for hanging on in there. I really will come back soon with fresh inspiration and the impetus to sew and create. Enjoy the sun x

London 2012, Rocking Dog

London 2012

Wedding Anniversary, Rocking Dog

Wedding Anniversary

Doggy Birthday, Rocking Dog

Doggy Birthday

Cousins, Rocking Dog

Cousins

Harrods Dec's 2015, Rocking Dog

Harrods Dec’s 2015

Love To My Friend, Rocking Dog

Love To My Friend

Rocking Dog’s Dusty Secret!

Land Of Dust & Glory!, Rocking Dog

Land Of Dust & Glory!

The set of old postal shelves by the front door at the kennel are Rocking Dog’s dusty secret! This display unit is often just too difficult to contemplate when I occasionally flit around with the duster. It is the depository for everything small and vaguely attractive.

I bought the shelves on a visit to Walcot Street, Bath about 25 years ago. I purchased this piece together with an old pine cello case. No, I don’t play the cello or indeed any instrument whatsoever. They were cheap. The postal rack has probably come from a factory or office and is pretty rough and ready, but I do sort of love it.

The contents are a mixture of kitsch, throw away, macabre, twee and sentimental. I love my dad Doug’s little metal scoop which he’d made at Kelso High School about 75 years ago. How lovely that his mum carefully kept it, and then that it survived one of my Mum’s decluttering binges!

Another of my dad’s treasures is the little dice throwing cup made of painted wood and aspires to being Chinese. Meanwhile my mum is represented by a little coil pot that she possibly made at teaching college. I feel the silver monogram napkin rings also symbolise my mum. We used napkins regularly, they were bound with old bone napkin rings with appropriate monograms. Very Hyacinth!

I really don’t know how the plaster dentistry casts have survived a cull. They represent years of orthodental treatment for one of the brood, and various dentistry for Andyman. Incidentally I met him as a result of dental work- he’d broken his jaw which was uncomfortably wired. I was a nurse on the surgical ward and well … the rest is history!

Lots of little dogs hide in one of the cubby holes, a mad mix of flock, of lead, china, plastic and wood. Anything vaguely Fox Terrier ticks all the boxes for me!

Some of the dusty treasures have been bought back from our travels. There’s a bisque bride and groom which would have graced a French Wedding Cake in the 1930’s perhaps. I bought the handsome marital pair in the beautiful coastal town of Honfleur. Then there’s the sweet little old black rag doll. I love her beautifully hand stitched clothes and painted toothy grin. I bought her in Seattle when we did a holiday house exchange. She came with the wooden watermelon wedge but I don’t know if they have always been paired.

The 1930’s napkin creatures are made from bakelite and bought from a jumble sale. I haven’t used them for neatly rolled napkins… but maybe one day!

There are Venetian glass sweets, pots and vases, brightly coloured lemon squeezers, miniature bottles, packets and tins. There’s a boot hook, paperweight, farm animals, Russian sequinned bauble and a whole host of dusty flotsam & jetsam!

Kids feel free to brush it all into a bin bag when i’m dead and buried…don’t feel burdened by the nonsense of all my clutter!

Puppy Love, Rocking Dog

Puppy Love

Napkin Creatures, Rocking Dog

Napkin Creatures

Dad's Metalwork, Rocking Dog

Dad’s Metalwork

Plaster Casts, Rocking Dog

Plaster Casts

Roll The Dice!, Rocking Dog

Roll The Dice!

3 Brown Bottles, Rocking Dog

3 Brown Bottles

Silver Monogram, Rocking Dog

Silver Monogram

French Bisque, Rocking Dog

French Bisque

Wooden Watermelon, Rocking Dog

Wooden Watermelon

Iconic Packaging, Rocking Dog

Iconic Packaging

Oh! The Clutter, Rocking Dog

Oh! The Clutter

....And There's More, Rocking Dog

….And There’s More

A Sunny Week Beckons

A Sunny Week Beckons, Rocking Dog

A Sunny Week Beckons

After the rain of the last few days it’s lovely to see the sunshine returning this week. My leaky wellies are decidedly uncomfortable and “Wicked” umbrella everso slightly embarrassing!

Hope you have a wonderfully sunny week wherever you are.

PS. Can I just absolutely clarify I am not a fan of Wicked

Gold Stars For The Young Carers

Star Baker!, Rocking Dog

Star Baker!

Yes, definitely gold stars for the Young Carers. I had a lovely time in the kitchen with eight young budding culinary maestro’s yesterday. One trio made Chicken fajitas with a home made tomato and chilli salsa, together with wholemeal tortillas. Meanwhile another trio made some tasty Toulouse pork shortcut meatballs with roast sweet potato wedges. Finally, a very enthusiastic pair baked a peach filo pie in a very appropriate star shaped dish. Then chefs, staff and volunteers all came together to eat the feast. It was stupendous Young Carers- thank you.

The washing up fairy swished her magic wand and with goody bags in hand (containing all the ingredients for making a sugar free tomato sauce) the YC’s whisked themselves away to practice all they’d learnt.

Volunteering for over a year for Young Carers I can see just how vital the services are for these young folk and their families. The staff are so committed and the young ones benefit from knowing that they are absolutely not alone.

Gold stars to one and all!

Competition For Nando's, Rocking Dog

Competition For Nando’s

Sweet Potato Wedges, Rocking Dog

Sweet Potato Wedges

Shortcut Meatballs, Rocking Dog

Shortcut Meatballs

Mosaic…I’m Trying To Make A Start!

Drying In The Sun, Rocking Dog

Drying In The Sun

Somehow life is like a mosaic… it’s lots of little pieces of this and that, and lots of unexpected patterns and cracks! My plans to get going with decorating an ugly concrete wall in the garden is going slowly.

I have however managed to retrieve a shed load of broken china from the… shed! There are more beautiful shards to archeologically uncover but i’m a bit of a scaredy cat. There are some rather large moths and who knows what else to spook me in the said shed.

Three trays worth of china has been washed and dried in readiness for prettifying the wall. Isn’t it a good job human beings are so clumsy. The loveliest breakages have come from a lovely lady who gave me a cache of broken pots to Charleston-fy my garden. I love the porcelain with vibrant green dragons. It must have looked truly amazing in it’s unbroken format.

Today will not be a mosaic day, I am leading a healthy eating day with a group of Young Carers. We will be making Chicken Faijita’s, Shortcut Meatballs, Sweet potato wedges and a Peach Filo Pie. They will be also guessing how many sugar lumps in various foods. Can you believe that there are 28 lumps of sugar in Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ?! Gulp!!

The remainder of the week the weather looks a little less favourable. Until I mix my swimming pool grout i’ll keep on being inspired by the likes of Julie Arkell, Cleo Mussi and by the memories of Cuba, the New York subway and Rome.

Last night I rustled together a tray bake supper and I couldn’t help thinking that the ingredients were a colourful Mediterranean mosaic. Smoked Cod, tiny plum tomatoes, heritage potatoes, herbs from the garden, olives and slices of lemon. A delicious quickly constructed mosaic!

Clumsy Cracks, Rocking Dog

Clumsy Cracks

The Wall, Rocking Dog

The Wall

Mosaic Stool, Rocking Dog

Mosaic Stool

Cuban Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Cuban Inspiration

Arkell Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Arkell Inspiration

NY Subway Mosaic, Rocking Dog

NY Subway Mosaic

Roman Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Roman Mosaic

Religious Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Religious Mosaic

Woolly Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Woolly Mosaic

Mussi, Rocking Dog

Mussi

More Mussi!, Rocking Dog

More Mussi!

Mosaic Meal, Rocking Dog

Mosaic Meal

Alfresco Lunch In My City

Water's Edge, Rocking Dog

Water’s Edge

I met with a friend for an alfresco lunch in my city yesterday. Bristol was bathed in the most beautiful sunshine and the city looked glorious.

We passed through Corn Street and enjoyed looking at some of the amazing buildings in the vicinity. Corn Street is famous for its Nails. These four bronze “tables” are sited outside the Corn Exchange and were used by merchants to close a sale. Money placed on the surface of the Nail signified that a deal had been struck. This is where the saying “Paying on the Nail” comes from. The Nails are from different dates, the earliest being Elizabethan.

We decided to head to St Nicholas Market to see what took our fancy. “Ahh Toots” had its usual array of wonderful cakes dressed with gold dusted fruits, rose petals and pretzels. We managed to resist the temptation and bought a falafel and salad box at “Eat a Pitta”. Freshly cooked falafels were accompanied by a variety of salads, hummus, pickles and choice of dressing all for £5.50. Bargainous! We marvelled at the wondrous blue sky through the glass ceiling as we walked through to some green space.

Our alfresco lunch was eaten picnic style in dappled shade in Queen Square. The Square is used for many public events, but yesterday it had a sprinkling of lunchers, sunbathers and readers. The history of the square dates from 1699 when it was planned, and 1727 when it was completed. It was named after Queen Anne and was an incredibly fashionable place to live. In 1831 much of it was destroyed during the Bristol Riots. It was rebuilt, and now the majority of the buildings are offices.

We left Queen Square for a coffee at the Riverstation. We enjoyed gorgeous waterside views- such a perfect summers day. On our way out we loved Edward Allen’s stonking enamelled tin basin full of succulents and slender twigs. Yummy!

Our final port of call was a photo call at the ruined church of St Peter’s in Castle Park. The area was heavily bombed during the Bristol Blitz 24th-25th November 1940. The church has been preserved as a memorial to the civilian war dead of Bristol. During the Blitz 200 Bristolians’ lost their lives whist another 689 were injured. A beautiful sensory herb garden has been planted on one side of the ruin. Five silver birches meanwhile grow to represent the beaches of the D Day Landings.

In conclusion, a lovely sun blessed afternoon with yummy food and lots of chat!

Feeding Time, Rocking Dog

Feeding Time

Delicious Dogs Dinner!, Rocking Dog

Delicious Dogs Dinner!

Ahh Toots, Rocking Dog

Ahh Toots

The Glass Ceiling, Rocking Dog

The Glass Ceiling

Corn St. Nail

Corn St. Nail

Stone Angel, Rocking Dog

Stone Angel

Carved Beauty, Rocking Dog

Carved Beauty

River View, Rocking Dog

River View

Casualty Of The Blitz, Rocking Dog

Casualty Of The Blitz

Ed's Succulents, Rocking Dog

Ed’s Succulents

Sky & Spire, Rocking Dog

Sky & Spire

Plaid Bundles, Rocking Dog

Plaid Bundles

Rocking Dog Bunting To Colour In

Bunting Garb', Rocking Dog

Bunting Garb’

Good morning from the Rocking Dog kennel. I hope you have had a sunny and restful weekend. The Dog has been making bunting for some very special little ones. Six pennants of white have been sandwiched by pennants in pretty prints. The hope is that exquisite little drawings and words will adorn the plain white pennants to make jolly wall hangings.

1.I made my bunting by firstly making a template. Taking an A4 sheet of paper I folded it in half and then drew my pennant to the size I wanted. I cut my pennant, unfolded it, and then transferred it to a piece of card. A rotary cutter and metal ruler was used to cut out my final template.

2.I chose fabrics and bias binding from Material Mountain. I selected a white cotton sheet for the plain pennants. Cotton is a really good fabric when using fabric paints, fabric pens or fabric crayons.

3.Use your template to draw out your pennants. Remember if you are using pictorial print make sure you draw out your pennants with the print in the correct direction. The white pennants can be cut out economically by drawing around template with point at top of fabric and the next with point towards bottom and so on.

4.Put your pennants fabric right side to right side and sew the two long sides together. Continue to sew all your pennants.

5.Now turn your pennants right way out. Use a pencil or chopstick to poke out the point. Press all your pennants with a hot iron.

6.Use the hot iron to press your bias binding (you could also use ribbon or fabric tape) in half its whole length.

7.Start by sewing your tape approximately 10cm before adding in your pennants between the folded bias binding. Again leave 10cm at the end (these will be your ties for hanging your bunting)

8. Press, and then get the little artists decorating!

Shortcuts. Use your template to pinking shear single layer pennants, or you could cut paper pennants and glue ribbon to link them together.

I’m hoping to get all artisty this week by getting down to some mosaic in the garden. The best laid plans……

Whatever your week holds I hope it’s a good one.

Mini Bunting, Rocking Dog

Mini Bunting

1970's Bob A Job Bunting, Rocking Dog

1970’s Bob A Job Bunting

Select Fab' Fabrics, Rocking Dog

Select Fab’ Fabrics

Template Time, Rocking Dog

Template Time

Economical Cutting, Rocking Dog

Economical Cutting

Start To Stitch, Rocking Dog

Start To Stitch

Snazzy Thread, Rocking Dog

Snazzy Thread

Add Pretty Tape, Rocking Dog

Add Pretty Tape

Neat Piles, Rocking Dog

Neat Piles

Bagged Up!, Rocking Dog

Bagged Up!

Ready For The Artists, Rocking Dog

Ready For The Artists

Mosaic To Continue, Rocking Dog

Mosaic To Continue

Ottolenghi Vegetarian Feast At The Kennel

Hummus a la "Jerusalem", Rocking Dog

Hummus a la “Jerusalem”

There was an Ottolenghi Vegetarian Feast at the kennel last night. Vegetarian food really doesn’t have to mean an eggy quiche or lasagne. My culinary high priest Yotam O’ includes many fantastic vegetarian recipes in all his tomes.

Before eating we walked three dogs along the Frome and the “boys” all seemed to rub along quite well.

Inspired by the sharing feast enjoyed at the Souk Kitchen, I created a table of sharing plates for our guests. Baby spinach salad with dates & almonds, Caramelised fig, orange and feta salad, Spicy beetroot,leek & walnut salad were offered together with Hummus and Burnt aubergine with garlic, lemon & pomegranate seeds. Time unfortunately ran out to make flat breads so shop bought bread had to suffice.

Pudding was a repeat performance of the Middle Eastern tiramisu. Just to over-gild the goose we broke open a bottle of dessert wine.

A supremely musically gifted guest, i’m afraid what I know about music can be written on the back of a postage stamp! He was very kind, even when the conversation tipped into how many of my Christmas links are Michael Buble related, cringe! And wife guest, an amazing eye, amazing house and so much knowledge of dog behaviour. Thankfully Real Live Rocking Dog was not on too grumpy form, and unlike Saturday didn’t choose to roll in any wet cow pats! That’s my boy.

One of the best things about the evening? Yippee there are leftovers, I won’t have to cook tonight!

Table Set, Rocking Dog

Table Set

Vintage Table Chic, Rocking Dog

Vintage Table Chic

Napkin Ring, Rocking Dog

Napkin Ring

Caramelising Figs, Rocking Dog

Caramelising Figs

Aubergine Magic, Rocking Dog

Aubergine Magic

Ottolenghi Yumminess!, Rocking Dog

Ottolenghi Yumminess!

Distant Leeks, Rocking Dog

Distant Leeks

Spinach Salad, Rocking Dog

Spinach Salad

Repeat Performance, Rocking Dog

Repeat Performance

A Weekend In Fabulous Colour

Vases Of Cottage Flower Colour, Rocking Dog

Vases Of Cottage Flower Colour

The weekend bought with it blue skies and other fabulous colours. On Friday I bought lovely cottage garden plants from a street stall at a local town. These leafy purchases are currently residing in that rather infamous cast iron roll top bath. Six months on it is still waiting for a gang of burly youths to move it, ready for my vegetable garden planting.

On Saturday after a day of mainly domestic dross, we headed into deepest darkest Wiltshire to eat with the newlyweds. Whilst on honeymoon in Bali they took the opportunity to have a Balinese cooking lesson. Recreated for us the food was yummy, we especially loved the green beans with spiced coconut. Thank you A & K.

Sunday morning, Andyman and I headed for Frome, a 45 minute drive from the kennel. The first Sunday of the month Frome plays host to an amazing market. Flea, food, craft, plants and a plethora of other goodies, this small Somerset town throbs with people, noise, dogs and bunting. Many of Frome’s shops open their doors, whilst a number of enterprising householders also sell their wares on their oh so familiar doorsteps.

We bought a couple of old pitchforks to continue the embellishment of our fence, and a trio of rather sweet old hand painted decanters. After a coffee I sniffed out a fabulous material shop James Gaunt in Church Street. Many of his fabrics including silks were £5 per metre. Some citrus yellow striped silk proved irresistible! Material Mountain- just…..well…keeps on mounting!

Bramble & Wild offered a beautiful array of garden flower posies and Elizabeth Lee Interiors showcased her shop with a wonderful ad hoc display of vintage galvanised metal buckets and watering cans.

Frome really is the perfect place for a spot of shopping for gifts. I certainly know where i’ll be doing my Christmas shopping this year. Absolutely utterly not Michael!

Out on the streets The British Blanket Company had a wonderful stall with the softest and most colourful snugglies. However, being fiendishly warm it was rather difficult to think of cold chilblained nights when a blanket will be an absolute necessity. Plant stalls, artisan food, street food …it was all rather lovely.

A pop up beach was proving very popular with  children who were making the most of building sandcastles, whilst parents enjoyed sinking into  striped deckchairs.

I definitely recommend a visit to this 1st Sunday Frome extravaganza. Make use of the Park & Ride and definitely aim to arrive early. Yesterday it all got rather uncomfortably busy, so it was “Home James and don’t spare the horses!”

The weekend finished with eating food at the “Souk Kitchen”in Southville. It was lovely to catch up with friends who’d made the brave move to live in France. As ever we ate beautiful and colourful food. Plates of octopus, calves liver, salmon, Halloumi etc.. all with Middle Eastern twiddling were stunning. The panna cotta was also so very lovely and glorious to look at. Food and banter at the Souk was the perfect end to a very colour infused weekend.

Wishing you a very happy and productive start to the week, one hopefully with lots of colour!

Safe travels Huw and Selina.xx

Bathfull of Colour, Rocking Dog

Bathfull of Colour

Blue Skies In Frome, Rocking Dog

Blue Skies In Frome

Deckchair Stripes, Rocking Dog

Deckchair Stripes

Rainbow Blankets, Rocking Dog

Rainbow Blankets

Mary, Mary...., Rocking Dog

Mary, Mary….

Green Door, Rocking Dog

Green Door

Monochrome, Rocking Dog

Monochrome

Citrus Silk, Rocking Dog

Citrus Silk

Souk Colour, Rocking Dog

Souk Colour

Escaping To Bath…..Bliss!

Bath Reflections, Rocking Dog

Bath Reflections

It was a day of escaping to Bath yesterday. I was keen to visit The Victoria Art Gallery to see “A Room of Their Own- Lost Bloomsbury Interiors 1914-30”

The exhibition recreates as far as possible several lost interior schemes by Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It reunites objects and paintings from both public and private collections, items which haven’t been seen together for fifty years.

I have loved all things Bloomsbury for three decades. It started in earnest when Laura Ashley launched their Bloomsbury collection of fabrics etc.. in 1987. The company had acquired the rights to a rare selection of Charleston House patterns. Grapes and Queen Mary are designs which stand out for me. In 2013 a range of the fabrics/wallpapers were relaunched in celebration of Laura Ashley’s 60th year. Since 1987 none of the houses we have lived in have been without Bloomsbury fabric somewhere in the mix.

In time I went to see Charleston, near Lewes and it is truly lovely. It is a real home with every surface painted and embellished by one or other of the inhabitants, or indeed guests just passing through.

The garden is equally beautiful and a book has just been published to celebrate its creative country charm.

The exhibition in Bath was bijoux but lovely. It has made me want to get my paintbrush out, and to pull out a stash of unused 1987 fabric. Watch this space! In a new house we once lived in, my brother in law kindly recreated the hermaphrodites which grace the studio at Charleston onto a bare wall. I’d love him to do a repeat performance!

After culture, I had a little bit of a mooch. I loved the reflections of the Georgian and not so Georgian buildings in the windows of Anthropologie. I stopped at The Whole Bagel for a.. bagel! Delicious, I couldn’t help but choose the filling I always select, Pear, brie, walnut and Parma ham.

I wandered down Walcot Street and it was alarming to witness the amount of empty shops. Rates are notoriously high in Bath. I bought ink and nib supplies at Meticulous Ink, such a lovely shop. Further on I headed to Owl in the Ivy, with its beautiful collection of old items to buy. However my heart was taken with the owners’ gorgeous Wire Haired Dachschund. Puppies are planned….,tempting, but I don’t think Real Live Rocking Dog would like a new puppy on his territory, he’s getting much too old and grumpy!

A reviving Americano and piece of Tunisian orange cake was enjoyed at an outside table at The Fine Cheese Company. It was great to watch the world go by, and to glance along to a building I love. The Corn Market building is so tall and narrow, it reaches to the sky with its elongated persona. However, that is not the whole story it extends behind a long, long way.

I loved taking time out in Bath, it was wonderful to get an aesthetic “fix”. I feel very inspired, but think the guilt of a mountainous ironing pile will make me abandon plans for Bloomsbury style painting for at least a little while.

Have a lovely weekend how ever you intend spending it. Love Rocking Dog x

Reaching To The Sky, Rocking Dog

Reaching To The Sky

Patriotic Door, Rocking Dog

Patriotic Door

How Much Is That Doggy?, Rocking Dog

How Much Is That Doggy?

Scrummy Bagel, Rocking Dog

Scrummy Bagel

Whole Bagel, Rocking Dog

Whole Bagel

Meticulous Ink Supplies, Rocking Dog

Meticulous Ink Supplies

Coffee & Cake, Rocking Dog

Coffee & Cake

Bloomsbury Style, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Style

Bloomsbury Grapes, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Grapes