Monthly Archives: November 2016

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Readying The Kennel For St Andrews Night

Homage To Rudolph!, Rocking Dog

Homage To Rudolph!

Where is the tartan (love this link by the way) you may ask, and if the truth be known i’m asking myself the same question! The trouble is that I spotted these giant carrots in Paperchase on Sunday and I couldn’t resist coming up with a cunning plan for them. As you probably already know Andyman has put a complete embargo on any more Christmas decorations coming into the house (11 boxes are absolutely and utterly enough as the sermon from Andyman doth go!) I guessed that these carrots could be smuggled into the house under a non Christmas guise.

My kitchen chandelier thingy provided the perfect place to deal with these giant sparkly carrots. Despite their size and subtle blingy glamour Andyman chose not to pass comment at breakfast time. During the day further frouing occurred. There’s a handsome reindeer minus the red nose, and some twiggy pencils which have scribbled child like notes. How difficult I found it to write like a five year old! Some glowing strands have arrived and I plan to add some hanging mince pies. This is my homage to Santa Claus and Rudolph. The poor old gnomes who normally hang out on the chandelier thingy together with their spotty mushrooms are now gnomeless, oops homeless!

Rocking Dog has indeed been making the kennel look glamorous in readiness for the rapidly approaching St Andrews Night sale. Tomorrow I will make a conscious attempt to tartanise the place as I don’t want to be accused of Christmasfying rather than Andrewfying!

Wee Tam together with Toby and Mrs Mac (the present from Fleetwood) are ready and waiting on their mantlepiece perch. Bagpiping, haggis sausage rolls, ginger shortbread and a wee dram are eagerly awaited. Toby will need his drams restricted for abomomnable gout the poor fellow does have. Enough of this utter nonsense, even though i’m very fond of my toby jug talk!

Shopping, labelling, pricing, baking, making, and boo hoo cleaning will make the next couple of days busy. There is also the small matter of taking poor Real Live Rocking Dog for a haircut…poor boy, on the coldest day of the year so far. No worries he does have a splendid tartan coat ..he can be a walking, barking homage to St Andrew on Wednesday evening. Result!

Sowing The Seed, Rocking Dog

Sowing The Seed

Happy Wee Tam', Rocking Dog

Happy Wee Tam’

Festive Sewing,Rocking Dog

Festive Sewing

Flying Christmas Trees,Rocking Dog

Flying Christmas Trees

Edible Table!,Rocking Dog

Edible Table!

Rocking Dog "Let's Make..",Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog “Let’s Make..”

Suited & Booted! Rocking Dog Preserves

Exotic Limes, Rocking Dog

Exotic Limes

Yes indeed Rocking Dog has been suiting and booting her newly made batches of preserves. The  mirror sparkly jars have been given stylish fabric hats and handwritten/stamped labels.

There is a Rocking Dog preserve for every taste. Organic Sicilian oranges and lemons were brought back from our recent Umbrian foray. Spiced Oranges would pep up a meat platter or be delicious served with pates and coarse terrines. Meanwhile the lemons now newly formatted as Lemon and Ginger Marmalade is hoping to be spread sun shiningly thickly on hot buttered toast.

There are homemade mustards, pickles, chutney and jelly’s. My personal favourite is my Pear & Pomegranate jelly. Soft set, I think it would be truly delicious with the creaminess of a homemade panna-cotta.

So now that these goodies are glamorously and rustically suited and booted I hope that they will soon find appreciative homes!

Rocking Dog’s stash of preserves will be available to buy at her sales on Wednesday 30th November and Sunday 11th December. Details on my home page www.rockingdog.co.uk

Have a wonderful weekend. Love Rocking Dog x

Sicilian Oranges, Rocking Dog

Sicilian Oranges

.....& Sicilian Lemons,Rocking Dog

…..& Sicilian Lemons

Local Pears,Rocking Dog

Local Pears

Pretty Presents, Rocking Dog

Pretty Presents

Tiny Treasures, Rocking Dog

Tiny Treasures

Some Of The Stash, Rocking Dog

Some Of The Stash

Rocking Dog Has Been Getting Pickled!

Destined For Pickling,Rocking Dog

Destined For Pickling

Rocking Dog has spent a weekend or two pickling, marmalading and jelly-making. Spiced pickled organic oranges, Punjab pickled limes, Pickled Pears, Spiced apple & cider jelly, Pomegranate and pear jelly, Red grapefruit and cranberry marmalade, Sicilian organic lemon & ginger marmalade, Chilli and garlic mustard, Wholegrain mustard with honey…..and there’s more pickled deliciousness coming out of the Rocking Dog kitchen later today.

These preserves would make great gifts and will be on sale at the kennel on 30th November & 11th December (details on my home page www.rocking dog.co.uk)

Wishing you a great start to the week. Stay Cosy!

For Punjab Limes,Rocking Dog

For Punjab Limes

Add Pears,Rocking Dog

Add Pears

For Jelly,Rocking Dog

For Jelly

In The Pan,Rocking Dog

In The Pan

Figs To Pickle,Rocking Dog

Figs To Pickle

Jars & Labels,Rocking Dog

Jars & Labels

Great Little Exhibition-Parcels Of Comfort

Knitting List,Rocking Dog

Knitting List

Last week I went to a great little exhibition, “Parcels of Comfort”. Until January 8th people can visit this poignant space at Bristol Cathedral. Parcels of Comfort examines the story of the importance of parcels sent to the front during WW1. The British Army considered the delivery of letters and parcels to servicemen as vital as delivering rations and ammunition.

Parcels and letters provided an amazing boost to the morale of the troops, especially those suffering the mud, lice, cold and deprivation of life in the trenches.

This exhibition uses small room sets to create the environment where loved ones would knit and sew useful items to send out to the boys. Warm woollen socks, gloves and under-garments would undoubtedly have made the recipient more comfortable. Five local textile artists, together with GCSE textile students from a Bristol school have used hand-stitching and mixed media to cleverly recreate the atmosphere of home during WW1. The knitted items for the exhibition were created from original wartime patterns.

I loved the embroidered tea and soap packet, together with the embroidered addressed linen parcels.

I am fortunate to have my great Aunt Susan’s postcards sent to my Grandmother from France where she was serving as a nurse. Two of her cards mention the fact that the parcel of sweets hadn’t arrived. Then, another postcard thanking the family for the parcel.

Later in time, my father Doug, served in the Royal Navy during WW2. A bundle of letters written by my father to his aunt and uncle have survived. Egypt, Australia, Shanghai, my dad was obviously hopeful there’d be mail waiting for him at his next port. From all this correspondence it was evident just how much he loved hearing news from home. One letter carries a list, messages and signatures of all the guests who attended his sisters wedding in Scotland.

If you live local to Bristol I can really recommend this little exhibition. Perhaps you can tie it in with a delicious visit to the renowned Ice Cream parlour “Swoon” which is close by on Park Street.

Whilst on a war theme, I am heading to Clifton Cathedral on Friday to see the 1916 silent film The Battle of the Somme. It is accompanied by Laura Rossi’s orchestral score, performed by the newly formed Bristol Symphony Orchestra. I need to remember to take a box of “Man-size” with me.

 

Great Aunt Susan is the nurse holding the lantern. Grandfather, John Warrington Scott is the cheeky looking soldier back right.

Embroidered Wall,Rocking Dog

Embroidered Wall

Parcel Of Comfort,Rocking Dog

Parcel Of Comfort

Wool & Embroidery Silk,Rocking Dog

Wool & Embroidery Silk

Aunt Susan Person Of Comfort,Rocking Dog

Aunt Susan Person Of Comfort

WW1 Grandfather,Rocking Dog

WW1 Grandfather

WW2 Navy Dad,Rocking Dog

WW2 Navy Dad

The Love Of My Umbrian Kitchen

Sorrel's Laden Table,Rocking Dog

Sorrel’s Laden Table

With the cold and dampness of November in the West Country it’s lovely to remember the warmth of recent winter days spent in Umbria. Andyman and I were keen to put our stamp on No5 and spent four days climbing ladders to paint our bijoux apartment throughout.

We went to an amazing local paint shop for a vat of white emulsion. Sheets of gold leaf, glittery paints, floor paints, colourful paints, matt, gloss, egg shell, and we came out with bog standard white. Next time, yes next time!

Though Andyman’s Italian is progressing at an impressive rate it didn’t quite manage the technicalities of paint “speak”. In hindsight we rather think that the colossal vat of white was supposed to mixed with a significant quantity of water. No worries, the paint went on like PVA glue. I suddenly became a very unsplattered painter and the coverage was superb, no second coat required!

The boring bits done, we could get on and add pops of colour. As planned, the wardrobe was moved into the kitchen and transformed into a larder cupboard. Oak shelves, paint, handles and  wallpaper remnant all played their part in this up-cycle. I estimate the makeover cost just over £100 as opposed to £1,500 upwards for a JL or M&S version. In time it will have a blackboard, some hanging hooks and other larderesque refinements. Meanwhile a little bedroom table acquired with the apartment was reassigned for use as a kitchen workspace. Paint and a new handle was all that was required. Voila! my kitchen was evolving and growing.

Before leaving for Italy we commissioned  a local metalworker to make up two simple curtain poles and a batterie de cuisine (approximately £60 for the three items). Utensildom sorted!

The lovely timeworn rusty lanterns did not “make the cut” for the trip, the choice was to take the lanterns or Real Live Rocking Dog! In the event we decided on a local Italian chef/boffin to create a bespoke twisted copper light source for our living space. The lanterns do not need to look forlorn, they will be “plumbed” into Rock House at some point.

Finally the lovely frouing bits kept me busy. How often have you stayed in a holiday let with four forks between six of you, a chopping board that has seen better days or chipped plates galore? No5 therefore is definitely going to be a cooks kitchen.

We have rarely as a family done a hotel holiday, in part it’s because we all like to cook. I well remember, staying in a hotel overnight in readiness for an early morning flight and our youngest on walking into the family room asking “mummy where is the kitchen?!” Then there was the year we had a last minute deal to Madeira and by day three I was crawling the walls wanting to get my hands on a knife (a cook’s one obviously!). With a market brimming with fish and local fruit and vegetables I was desperate to whizz something up! This utter desperation may also have been slightly influenced by the retro 70’s pudding buffet on offer at the hotel. I had never witnessed such a display of wibbly blancmange, jellies, bavarois, creme caramel and other rather nasty gelatinous delicacies. Frustratingly there were banana’s growing everywhere on the island, but seemingly not one to be had in the hotel.

In our kitchen there are knives, matched china and glassware, cutlery (and yes cutlery phobic son there is some “Dragon” cutlery in the drawer) baking tins, scales, serving dishes etc..etc.. I tested the oven by baking a cake and made a little list of kitchenalia yet to buy. Cooking generally leads to eating, and so at times with the nights getting shorter and more nippy we ate inside (Sorrel and Liv’s laden table was a seasonal, locally produced highlight), but there were sunny warm opportunities where eating outside was simply perfect.

There are still bits to do. The kitchen table has had its legs painted in jolly “Mister David” and it awaits equally cheery chairs to join it in the spring. I loved some ladder back inspiration in Lerici. Andyman and I went to relive our youth there momentarily. It was 35 years since we were last in the pretty coastal town, back then we camped, ate frozen calamari, drank Lambrusco, sweltered in the scorching heat and got bitten alive by mosi’s!

Last night at the kennel I could not find the can opener for love nor money. Somewhat frustratingly I know a drawer in a far off land where I have two!

 

 

Paint Those Chairs, Rocking Dog

Paint Those Chairs

Ladder-back Inspiration!,Rocking Dog

Ladder-back Inspiration!

Let's Think,Rocking Dog

Let’s Think

Little Black Book,Rocking Dog

Little Black Book

Workspace,Rocking Dog

Workspace

Wardrobe To Larder,Rocking Dog

Wardrobe To Larder

Utensildom!,Rocking Dog

Utensildom!

Kitchen View,Rocking Dog

Kitchen View

Breakfast Spot,Rocking Dog

Breakfast Spot

l

Rocking Dog Winter Events 2016

Winter Wonder,Rocking Dog

Winter Wonder

Oh Yay! Oh Yay! Rocking Dog diary dates hot off the press. The Dog is hosting two events at the kennel in the next few weeks. I am humbled when people say that their Christmas really feels to be gloriously starting after coming to one of my festive jaunts. Indeed I hope visitors to the kennel this year will go away with a warming inspired festive glow.

The first date is a St Andrews Day Celebration. Wednesday 30th November 6.30-8.30pm.

Andyman is Scottish and I am half Scottish -so any excuse to cook up an event with a decidedly Scottish flavour! There’ll be fires burning in the hearths, candles, Mr and Mrs Mack together with Wee Tam and lovely things to eat and drink. There’ll be the opportunity to buy Rocking Dog makes and to chat with friends. The resident bagpiper will hopefully blow his pipes and i’m hoping that the toby jug folk don’t reel off the mantlepiece!

Winter Wonderland at the Kennel happens on Sunday 11th December 11am-2pm.

Rocking Dog LOVES Christmas decorations (Andyman has banned anymore coming into the house…boo hiss!!!) Come and witness Winter Wonderland Rocking Dog style. There’ll be lovely things to buy including Italian treats and Rocking Dog preserves (by popular request). Sit eating and drinking delicious things around my kitchen table and celebrate the forthcoming festive season. Many apologies for that very indulgent link-fave Christmas video of all time!

Profits from refreshments for both events will go to Young Carers (Bristol & South Gloucestershire) and BUST, such worthy and amazing local charities. Thank you to all who gave SO generously last year.

I hope you can grace us with your presents oops! presence. Love Rocking Dog x

PS  Thank you to friends and family who have given Andy and I such amazing support recently.

In The Pan, Rocking Dog

In The Pan

Heavenly Sweet Stash, Rocking Dog

Heavenly Sweet Stash

Rocking Dog Sewing, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Sewing

RD Winter Wonderland,Rocking Dog

RD Winter Wonderland

Marmalade Fruit,Rocking Dog

Marmalade Fruit

Gnome Hangout!,Rocking Dog

Gnome Hangout!

Bag For Haggis!,Rocking Dog

Bag For Haggis!

Famous Pies,Rocking Dog

Famous Pies

Warm Welcome!,Rocking Dog

Warm Welcome!

Stocking Tops!,Rocking Dog

Stocking Tops!

Christmas Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Christmas Inspiration

Italian Food Parcel, Rocking Dog

Italian Food Parcel

The 11th Hour Of The 11th Day Of The 11th Month

Poignant Somme Symbolism, Rocking Dog

Poignant Somme Symbolism

Armistice Day has been commemorated for the last 98 years on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. It marks the day when the Armistice was signed at Compiegne, France between the allies of WW1 and Germany. It brought about the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.

Beginning in 1939 the two minute silence was moved to the closest Sunday to 11th November. This decision was taken so as not to disrupt wartime munition production if 11th November fell on a weekday. After WW2 this Sunday was named Remembrance Day or Remembrance Sunday.

The Poppy worn in the lead up to, and on Remembrance Sunday itself came about as a result of the famous poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lt. Colonel John McCrae. A Canadian doctor, he was inspired to write the poem in 1915 after losing a friend at Ypres. The bleak battle torn ground was barren, but he witnessed resilient scarlet poppies struggling through the churned and barbed fields. Later an American academic Moina Michael, started making silk poppies which were brought over to England by a French woman Anna Guerin. In 1921 the British Legion was founded, and the organisation that year ordered 9 million poppies. The sale of these poppies raised a staggering £106,000, helping veterans with housing and employment.

Yesterday I went to College Green in Bristol to see the installation of “Shrouds of the Somme”. I witnessed servicemen meticulously laying out 19,240 12inch shrouded figures. The number represents the allied servicemen who died on the very first day of the Battle of the Somme. Somerset artist Rob Heard made the figures and personally wrapped and bound each figure with a hand stitched shroud. Studying a list from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission he systematically worked through the 19,240 fatalities, crossing off each name as a figurine had been given its shroud. Though I didn’t witness the exhibit in its entirety, it was truly poignant. The “Shrouds of the Somme” remains in Bristol until the 18th November.

Driving away from College Green I happened to notice that poor old Queen Victoria sited outside The Bristol Royal Marriot Hotel had been given a rubber gas mask by some joker. From experience she’s the butt of many a prank, for a student city we are!!

Today I will be remembering my grandfather John Warrington Scott (Royal Engineers) who was badly gassed in the trenches during WW1. As a consequence of the gas he died from stomach cancer aged 46 on Armistice Day 1941. Also remembering my lovely mum who died 31 years ago today. On a happier note Happy Birthday to lovely niece Iona who slipped out into the world on the bathroom floor 17 years ago today!

Shrouds Of The Somme, Rocking Dog

Shrouds Of The Somme

3 Of The 19,240, Rocking Dog

3 Of The 19,240

Gas Masked Royal, Rocking Dog

Gas Masked Royal

Grandfather John W. Scott, Rocking Dog

Grandfather John W. Scott

My Mum, Rocking Dog

My Mum

Niece Iona, Rocking Dog

Niece Iona

The Umbrian Cake Trail With Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!, Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!

What better way to restart the Rocking Dog blog than a post about cake! We finally returned home from Umbria on Monday evening after a 1,300 mile drive through Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium. The highlight was seeing Lake Como, Lugano and Lucerne by night. It was so reminiscent of an elaborate model railway layout. Truly enchanting.

In between painting No5 throughout, dismantling bunks, building a bed and reconfiguring furniture, there were small windows of opportunity to go in search of cake!

I am always curious about how people create holiday itineraries. There must be those who go in search of rare birds, those who try to select the most idilic poolside for sunbathing, and those who seek out dangerous sports for an adrenalin rush! My itinerary seems to centre around food. Markets, food festivals, local speciality shops all hold tremendous appeal. Even the humble supermarket is always more exciting far away from home. The solitary shop in the village is an Aladdin’s cave of Umbrian goodies. Locally butchered meats, local vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, Umbrian lentils, it became part of my daily routine to walk Real Live Rocking Dog there in the morning. I believe in the philosophy “use it or else lose it”

We found some spectacular cake shops in Assisi (approximately a 1 hour drive from our little place). Meringues, pastries, Pannetore, bombes and gelato it really was a sugar rush! Interestingly, although I love taking photo’s of the sweet treats I much prefer a savoury plate. Italian cheeses and salami’s are my downfall.

On my first day away from UK I realised just how much I missed Marmite. A mean 150ml jar will need to be stashed in my hand luggage when we return to Umbria in the spring.

Locally, there is always Michele’s with an amazing array of full size and amuse bouche sized cakes, desserts and pastries. My favourite has to be the aragosta (lobster tail). It is a shell shaped horn made up of thin layers of light crispy pastry which is filled with a flavoured cream. The original pastry was created in the monastery of Santa Rosa in the province of Salerno in the 17th Century. Later the recipe was acquired by a pastry chef from Naples called Pasquale Pintauro. He started selling these pastries from his shop in 1818. Michele’s aragosta’s contain a delicious rich creme patisserie. Delicious! Interestingly the girls spotted Nick Ross heading into Michele’s, I wonder what his favourite is!

Wednesday’s and Sundays it’s up to Paciano for a coffee and pastry at Lo Scoiattolo (The Squirrel). Sitting in the family kitchen you can eat delicious bread and pastries from the wood fired oven. Fausto makes a divine cappuccino whilst Lia deals with the Italian/German influenced yeasty loveliness. Our first weekend there, a local town was hosting a Saffron festival. In honour of this amazing local flower product, Lia made delicious saffron buns with a dusting of rose petals and cornflowers, much too good for Real Live Rocking Dog! Later in the week some of the Borgo degli Olivi residents went for a baking masterclass with Lia … more about that in a later post.

Now it’s time to go on the straight and narrow after three weeks of bread, cheese, charcuterie, wine and just the odd aragosta here and there!

 

Window Shopping, Rocking Dog

Window Shopping

Gilded Treats, Rocking Dog

Gilded Treats

Piped Loveliness, Rocking Dog

Piped Loveliness

Michele's Amuse Bouche, Rocking Dog

Michele’s Amuse Bouche

Take Me Home!, Rocking Dog

Take Me Home!

Too Good For RLRD!, Rocking Dog

Too Good For RLRD!