Monthly Archives: August 2017

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Rocking Dog Creative Huddle Tonight

Di's Perfect Poppies..Thank you,Rocking Dog

Di’s Perfect Poppies..Thank you

Yes it’s the August Rocking Dog Creative Huddle at the kennel tonight. 7-9 pm, gentle chat, cake (hopefully homemade!) and lots of creative doingness! You’d be very welcome, please come and find out about those poppies that lovely Di kindly crocheted. They’re all to do with an ambitious challenge i’ve set myself over the next year. Other poppy makers very kindly wished for. A knitter I am not- but I will sew some. I will tell all in a future post.

It would be lovely to see you this evening. As ever donations into the rather lovely Emma Bridgewater tea pot for Fine Cell Work, teaching and encouraging prison inmates to sew and embroider.

Love Rocking Dog x

Bake, Cook, Entertain, Oh, & Pull Down A Shed!

Sorry To See You Go,Rocking Dog

Sorry To See You Go

It was one of those weekends which just sort of organically evolved! On Saturday Andyman was busy piping and then rehearsing ready for the Rockpipes gig on Sunday 24th September. Are you coming? £5 a ticket or £6 on the night. It will be an experience like no other and I can’t believe I am here actually promoting it, because i’m rubbish at marketing myself! Whilst Andyman was blowing his pipes I packaged a batch bake of squidgy brownie, billionaire’s shortbread and sticky apple and pecan gingerbread. It was sent off in different directions for various sweet toothed friends. Some is being eaten on a beautiful stretch of beach in Pembrokeshire.

An impromptu supper came about and unusually I didn’t dally with Yotam! At Christmas we received a subscription for The Spicery and so every month we receive a box containing spice mixes together with a recipe. Voila! supper sorted. This box included all the spices for Tandoori lamb kebabs, samosas and chaat (a chopped salad). This gift is not for someone who wants a curry in half an hour, indeed I think it is for a loved up couple who want to bond in the kitchen for half a day! By the time I got onto make the samosas I was frankly losing the will to live and I think as a result my samosas were decidedly ugly. How i’d love to be one of those hosts who gets everything ready well before time, slides food into the hostess trolly (!) and takes herself off with a G & T for a long soak! The food was delicious so I was told, so it was worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Sunday we headed to Court House Farm Portishead for the monthly artisan market. It was such an idyllic setting for some lovely stalls. I particularly loved Emy Lou Holmes’s stall with cards, prints etc…Grandma Knitting was great too with gorgeous knits using the softest of “wools” including bamboo. Yes little Doug’, Biddy did buy you something for when the weather gets nippier. The farm is truly wonderful with the most lovely outbuildings. I took photographs of our morning spent there but only later realised there was a great greasy thumb print on the lens (possibly the illicit bacon sandwich!), rubbish! I can really recommend a little trip there.

After the glories of other peoples outbuildings we turned our attention to our own. Our shed sadly needed to be dismantled, it was rottoningly unsafe. Over the years the tiled roof had gained a living moss roof with clusters of ferns, bird nests and ivy tendrils. When I build my eco house it will have a living roof. Four tip runs and still more to go we are left with a rather sad space. I visualise it painted and given huge pots of enormous palms and ferns. However…it could always be an alfresco stage for a future Rockpipes gig!

Rocking Dogs weekend in a nutshell. I must just mention Real Live Rocking Dog who was 10 on Sunday. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea but we all love him so much. When I have spells of feeling sad he gives me the reason to get out and walk. He gives love and grumpiness unconditionally, costs us a fortune in grooming (much more than my barnet) and rather like a toddler has a habit of coming up to see us at night. Happy 10th Birthday Real Live Rocking Dog we’ll celebrate today with a trip to the vet for your rabies injection and to assess just what we can do about that breath of yours!

I hope you have had a lovely bank holiday weekend and that a good short sunny week lies ahead

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Rocking Dog Creative Huddle this Wednesday (30th). Everyone very welcome, homemade cake, drinks and chat…oops and sewing, knitting whatever tickles your fancy. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to embroider and sew.

Birthday Boy,Rocking Dog

Birthday Boy

Batch Bakes,Rocking Dog

Batch Bakes

Blood, Sweat & Tears!,Rocking Dog

Blood, Sweat & Tears!

Love Emy Lou!,Rocking Dog

Love Emy Lou!

Beaut' Bootees!Rocking Dog

Beaut’ Bootees!

Huddle Reminder,Rocking Dog

Huddle Reminder

Sad Shed,Rocking Dog

Sad Shed

Still Sad,Rocking Dog

Still Sad

Are You Coming?,Rocking Dog

Are You Coming?

After The Rain, It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It's A New Dawn, It's A New Day,Rocking Dog

It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It rained heavily here on Monday. It was really wet rain, large long wet drops that saturated everything. With Real Live Rocking Dog and a guest dog, Darling Dougie (a Labrador/Scottie Dog cross) to walk, the weather had to be simply …well..weathered!

How lovely therefore to awake yesterday to a beautiful morning. The warmth and the moisture meant that there were fairy rings of various species of fungi in the field. There was even a circlet of red mushrooms, the stuff of illustrated children’s books. Alas, the mushrooms had been blemished and disfigured by hungry creatures unknown. The field is now devoid of colour save some clover and a sprinkling of moon daisies. Hedgerows of blackberries, haws, elderberries and sloes continue to flourish and ripen. Fat wood pigeons feed and somewhat noisily and ungracefully take to the skies after their fill of natures harvest.

Down by the Frome it was quiet. There were the first characteristic smells of the impending autumn. Leaves, beech masts, conkers and wet mud all formed part of the intricate riverside carpet. This carpet was positively autumnal, but the woodland canopy punctured by blue sky was still decidedly summery.

After dog walking an adored friend and I went to Kilver Court. It was lovely to talk, drink coffee, browse and simply enjoy each others company. As we walked to the car there was the most amazing patch of wild flowers. It was such a lovely splash of colour and so much more magical than uniformly planted beds filled with low maintenance shrubs.

Natures Carpet,Rocking Dog

Natures Carpet

Mushroom Harvest,Rocking Dog

Mushroom Harvest

Woodland Canopy,Rocking Dog

Woodland Canopy

Infant Pine Cones,Rocking Dog

Infant Pine Cones

Rosy Red Apples,Rocking Dog

Rosy Red Apples

Late Summer Colour,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Colour

Life in technicolour in the kennel

Colourful Christmas Makes,Rocking Dog

Colourful Christmas Makes

I hope you have had a great weekend and that there wasn’t too much dashing in and out of the showers. Life has been colourful in the kennel with cheery bakes and a feast of colour on the table feeding friends. There have been batches of colourful sewing and colourful floral pickings from the garden.

I so love those blogs and magazine features which are awash with neutral linens, carefully curated whites and muted room schemes…..but I just can’t quite seem to do it! So somewhat ashamedly and predictably a technicolour post this is from the Rocking Dog Kennel.

There was a colourful lunch with a couple of tarts, naturally of the pastry variety! An old favourite was resurrected thanks to Tamsin Day-Lewis “The Art Of The Tart”. A homemade blind baked tart was spread with Dijon mustard and then simply laid up with slices of camembert and tomatoes. It was sprinkled with a good glug of herb infused olive oil and put into the oven for 35 minutes. Before serving it was given a further dose of herby olive. Simple and delicious. It was good to make time for lunch with very special friends. What a long way you’ve come darling girl, I will forever love you.

A colourful midweek evening feast for eight included Meatballs with broad beans & lemon, Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts & honey, Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio & mixed herbs, flatbreads and harissa. There was also meant to be three Lebanese salads, but I was far too ambitious time-wise doing those after a morning of mother in law, shopping and putting air in my tyres! However, I did get to make homemade ice cream and baklava in the three hour cooking slot. It all looked very colourful and the two Michelin star chefs gracing the Rocking Dog table were very kind to me! I do think I need to move on from my darling Ottolenghi, guests must groan… I’ll make it my mission to cook another genre! However… that might be short lived as Yotam has a new book coming out in September “Sweet”. I’m lucky enough to have it preordered as a gift. Any one fancy being a “Sweet” guinea pig?!

I have managed to sew some gorgeously colourful things with a batch of vintage fabric stockings. I just need someone to love them and stock them. I need to sit down and give myself an assertive marketing talk! More fabric awaits me with some gorgeous groovy 60’s vibe glazed cotton. I’m sure the designer must have been on magic mushrooms, there are psychedelic birds, butterflies, leopards and cats. Bought from a great vintage shop, RePsycho on Gloucester Road these stockings are going to be lined with ornate alphabet fabric bought in Flo-Jo. Also on the workbench is some 50’s Heals fabric which I have coveted for a number of years. It will make a great blind for oldest daughters house complementing concrete dining light, scaffold plank shelves and eclectic kitchenalia. She’s not limey white either!

More colour has arrived back in the house with the re-emergence of those Rocking Dog frou’d wedding dessert boxes. Some will be going to Young Carers families later in the year as part of “Christmas in A Box”.

Finally there were gifts to colourfully wrap and muffins to top with vibrant apricot compote, the end of a colourful week in the Rocking Dog kennel!

Hope you too will have a lovely colourful week, Love Rocking Dog x

PS I will endeavour to do a lime washed white post this week

Colourful Characters,Rocking Dog

Colourful Characters

On My Workbench,Rocking Dog

On My Workbench

Groovy Future Make,Rocking Dog

Groovy Future Make

Colourful Gifts,Rocking Dog

Colourful Gifts

Food For Friends,Rocking Dog

Food For Friends

Test Bake,Rocking Dog

Test Bake

Windowsill Colour,Rocking Dog

Windowsill Colour

The Boxes Are Back!,Rocking Dog

The Boxes Are Back!

Technicolour Tart,Rocking Dog

Technicolour Tart

Rocking Dog Loves Trotting Around Tetbury

Not In The Show,Rocking Dog

Not In The Show

The Tetbury Flower Show arrived again at the weekend. Andyman was blowing his pipes with City of Bristol Pipes and Drums so I took the opportunity to enjoy seeing what the folk of Tetbury had grown, sewed, baked and bottled. The care that people take to raffia string onions, scrub potatoes and arrange summer fruits is both astounding and hearteningly lovely.

With a break from playing Amazing Grace, Scotland The Brave and Highland Cathedral etc..I left Real Live Rocking Dog with the piper and legged it into Tetbury. I wonder does anyone else notice door furniture? I love a good knocker, bell pull, letterbox and hand plate. There were some really good old examples as I headed to the high street. Many knockers were gloriously offset by paint colours such as “Pelt”, “Dix Blue” and “Cooking Apple Green”. I am SO easily pleased!

When in Tetbury I love a trot to “Domestic Science”. Five uneven floor-boarded floors are filled with vintage kitchenalia, French textiles, divine scented packages, patina’d aged furniture, carefully curated cards and a lovely watering hole to sit for a coffee or lunch. As ever there was lots I loved, but I was very restrained. I need to make money before I can spend money, I need a cunning plan to revive my coffers.

Thankfully many of Tetbury’s delicious antique shops were closed, it’s lovely that Sunday is still sacrosanct in some communities. My shopping purchases in town amounted to buying cake ingredients. After more piping, more sunshine and viewing the dog show (not competing as Real Live Rocking Dog’s days of shows and being humiliated are well and truly over!) Real Live Rocking Dog we know you are beautiful despite your raging halitosis and grumpiness, and frankly that’s all that matters. It really was time to head home and make that cake.

I loosely based it on Delia’s Coconut Layer Cake and topped it off with a spiky pineapple top, vanilla pods and fairy lights for a very special lady.

Hope you all have a lovely week.
Love Rocking Dog x

Tetbury Letterbox..,Rocking Dog

Tetbury Letterbox..

Tetbury Knocker..,Rocking Dog

Tetbury Knocker..

...And Another,Rocking Dog

…And Another

Delightful Dahlia,Rocking Dog

Delightful Dahlia

Dashing Dahlia,Rocking Dog

Dashing Dahlia

Know Your Onions!,Rocking Dog

Know Your Onions!

Domestic Science Vintage,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Vintage

Domestic Science Linen,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Linen

Domestic Science Scented,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Scented

A Week Of Bits & Pieces

Noddy Ready To Embellish,Rocking Dog

Noddy Ready To Embellish

Rocking Dogs week has been one of bits and pieces. I have been sewing Vintage fabric Christmas stockings. Jolly 1960’s Noddy material has been joined by small check gingham and woolly ric-rac. The stockings will be given hanging loops and some jingly bells. I made another stocking from a vintage tablecloth printed with the words and pictures for “Waltzing Matilda”. I lined the stocking with silk embroidered with images of broom. A mustard coloured fringe finishes the stocking. So now it is looking for an Aussie friendly house this Christmastime.

Whilst I sewed, tree surgeons took down three 50ft conifers in our back garden. We started life at the kennel with about 20 conifers (the work of the devil!) Shortly after we moved in, Andyman came home to find i’d sawed down about twelve of them and was in the process of chopping them up. Over the years we have removed more, and now there are just three left to go! With the tree surgeons having packed up their chain saws for the time being, we can concentrate on planning and planting a kitchen garden. There are going to be espalier fruit trees and old cast iron baths for raised beds amongst other features. I loved the beans growing in a little community allotment that I spotted whilst walking Real Live Rocking Dog. I also enjoyed eating the most voluptuous and delicious figs grown by our lovely neighbours. Definitely food for thought for our garden.

Beautiful flowers arrived through the door (thank you Ella and Josh) whist I bought a remnant heavily embroidered with flowers (thank you to The Boys That Sew at Whittaker Wells). In an ideal world i’d put it with an amazing copper bath, basin and is there such a thing as a copper loo? I’d add dramatic lighting, amazing flooring, mirrors stop,…..stop!

When not sewing I have been planning some forthcoming cooking sessions with Young Adult Carers. I have also set myself the challenge of researching all the names on the local War Memorial. I am looking for any knitters or crocheters who would kindly make me some poppies for this project. Thank you.

We have been enjoying the World Athletics Championships and last weekend saw Bolt run his last solo race. I think everyone expected him to go out in a blaze of golden glory – but alas it wasn’t to be. It was all rather flat but we did have the funny memory of a streaker ripping his trousers off Full Monty style and running down the track. He was eventually tackled to the ground by a tangle of security staff!

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it will be relaxing, sunny and happy.

Love Rocking Dog x

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Summer Blooms,Rocking Dog

Summer Blooms

Embroidered Blooms,Rocking Dog

Embroidered Blooms

Garden Planning,Rocking Dog

Garden Planning

Magic Beans,Rocking Dog

Magic Beans

Fabulous Figs,Rocking Dog

Fabulous Figs

World Athletics,Rocking Dog

World Athletics

WW1 Research,Rocking Dog

WW1 Research

Baking,Rocking Dog

Baking

Rocking Dog Loves Simple Garden Blooms

Milk Bottle Flowers,Rocking Dog

Milk Bottle Flowers

With the kennel a little more ship-shape I loved bringing some garden flowers through the door yesterday. Just eight stems were required to fill eight simple glass milk bottles (large from Ikea and the small from Ampulla). Phlox, teasel, tansy, sprig of rosemary, borage, evening primrose, crocosmia and one unknown! My simple arrangements were given a spot on a sunny windowsill. Voila! I love flowers plucked from a garden or field. I am a gal of simple tastes!

After flower arranging (hardly!) I then turned my attention to the table close to the sunny window, regrouping ceramic treasures. One or two are contemporary potters seconds others gorgeous gifts. The brown glazed pot is sentimental and loved. It was made by my late mum whilst at teacher training collage in the early 1950’s. A simple coil pot, when I smooth its interior I feel my mums fingers working the clay. There is also a glazed bowl which was so thoughtfully gifted to me by the Holburne Museum, Bath. I used to cater for events there, cooking in their minuscule kitchen. I remember remarking to a member of staff that their slop bowl for used tea bags was just too lovely for that purpose. A year or two went by, no doubt with the bowl seeing its daily fill of tea bag detritus and it was time to do a Heaven’s Cake farewell picnic. The Holburne was closing for a considerable length of time for the building of its dramatic new extension. After a delicious picnic on a lovely sunblessed day the empty hampers came back to me. Within one of the baskets wrapped in white tissue and tied with a bow was the beloved tea bag slop bowl. I was so moved that someone had remembered my jokey comment. I know it’s not every ones cup of tea (!) but I truly love it.

The latest ceramic purchase are two large silvered ceramic lamp bases. I bought them at Redland Fair for a bargainous £20 the pair. They have some age, and had the tiniest round pin plugs. I kept “watching” the prohibitively expensive shades in the hope they’d go into the sale and fortuitously they did. Lamps complete. Thank you to electrician/fisherman Phil for checking their wiring.

Pots jiggled I questioned myself why I hang onto SO much stuff. I keep promising the kids that I am going to become a minimalist, but my minimalist brainwashing therapy hasn’t yet begun!

Originally the table was Andyman’s desk, that was until he’d knocked his shins on the antler base just one too many times. Result! Moved downstairs it now sees various collections of objet d’art throughout the year. Christmas sees it covered in snow, putz houses, vintage baubles etc.. which leads me neatly onto the fact I am sewing some Christmas stockings today! Bah Humbug!

Simple Blooms,Rocking Dog

Simple Blooms

Wedding Blooms,Rocking Dog

Wedding Blooms

Sarah R's Blooms,Rocking Dog

Sarah R’s Blooms

Spring Clean Ceramics,Rocking Dog

Spring Clean Ceramics

Same Table, Another Time,Rocking Dog

Same Table, Another Time

On The Workbench,Rocking Dog

On The Workbench

The Ripening Hambrook Harvest

From Little Acorns....,Rocking Dog

From Little Acorns….

I escaped the kitchen and ALL that china for a brief while yesterday. I was surely succumbing to cabin fever or should that be soapy sud kitchen fever! Real Live Rocking Dog provides the perfect excuse to drop the tea towel and  get out on the Frome Valley walkways which hug our fortunate doorstep.

How lovely to walk in sunshine and have blue fluffy cloud skies as a gorgeous last day in July canopy. Along the walk there were burgeoning and ripening crops of sloes, bullace, elderberries and blackberries. I spied a particularly luscious crop of blackberries over a pennant stone wall. Alas, they were unattainable with the river a watery barrier. A host of birds and other wildlife will have a veritable feast with no humans able to access and pick this precarious crop. Other bird food is ripening ready for the colder less plentiful days of late autumn and winter. Haws, rosehip and holly will serve them well.

Family folklore suggests that my fathers maternal family may have been Huguenots. Have you ever witnessed how  many French folk behave on a beach, they are not sunbathing, they are not swimming .. they are foraging! They have pails and spades, nets and lines and going in search of lunch or to find bait to catch lunch! Mussels, whelks, coastal plants, shrimp and crab are simply not safe. I see ripening elderberries and think of their addition in a summer pudding, an apple pie or crumble, ice cube or stew. Sloes and bullace again are destined in my mind to immersion in vodka or gin. I love to use the bloated alcohol soaked berries in rocky road and in ice creams, sorbets and warming winter stews. Just maybe, yes maybe I indeed do have French foraging blood flowing in my veins!

I love the way the Italians celebrate and give thanks to every crop they harvest and every animal they hunt. There are ancient walled hilltop towns close to where we live in Umbria which annually celebrate the bread, the oil, the wine, the saffron, the wild boar, the sweet chestnut, and so on! In the spring we were treated to the most wonderful feast at the little village hall in “our” village. The valley was vibrantly yellow with Mimosa trees and so this tree was celebrated along with World Women’s Day. The men (with undoubtedly some help of the female kind in the background!) of the village cooked for the women. We sat down to plates of crostini followed by two pasta courses (one with a pork ragu sauce and the other a tomato sauce). Lamb, steak and locally produced sausages cooked on a wood fired brazier together with a delicious dressed salad came next. Finally a specially baked mimosa coloured iced cake was proudly bought out and served with Grappa. Throughout the meal we had bottles of very quaffable locally produced red wine and then it was time to dance. Bad dancing translates and is understood in whatever language you speak! The Macarena danced for the final time it was time to wearily and bloatedly stumble home. Each woman was presented with a branch of Mimosa as she left together with hugs and hearty “buona notte’s”. It was such a lovely multi generational community event and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. We do not celebrate anything enough in this country and unfortunately unlike the Italians many British would not embrace a party encompassing all generations.

Back to walking along my favourite Hambrook walk (nicknamed “Mr Badger walk” because of an old sett along its route) the earth was littered with crops that hadn’t quite made it. Amongst the carpet of last years autumnal leaf fall there were conkers, beech masts and cobnuts lying like jewels. They had simply dropped before their time or had been slain by squirrels not willing to wait!

At the stile there was a solitary doe eyed cow with Bully the blooming big bull. I couldn’t help thinking “poor cow!” Perhaps she’ll have her very own harvest in the spring.

Very soon it was time to return to THAT china … but I felt so much better after a brief but wonderful nature filled sojourn.

 

Future Harvest,Rocking Dog

Future Harvest

Ditto!,Rocking Dog

Ditto!

Unattainable Harvest,Rocking Dog

Unattainable Harvest

Too Early....,Rocking Dog

Too Early….

...Too Late!,Rocking Dog

…Too Late!

One For The Pan,Rocking Dog

One For The Pan

Late Summer Harvest,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Harvest

Christmas Harvest,Rocking Dog

Christmas Harvest

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow,Rocking Dog

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow