Monthly Archives: September 2017

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Cake, Crochet, Salsa and Atilla The Hun

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake.Rocking Dog

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

A small but perfectly formed huddle congregated at the kennel last night. Crochet, cross stitch and chat went on as did cutting a freshly baked Rocking Dog cake. This months bake was from my newest cookery tome “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi (yes that old chestnut!) & Helen Goh. I love the cover of the book, meanwhile there are some truly enticing recipes beyond its jam swirled cover. I surmise that some recipes would need an afternoon of completing layers, compotes, biscuit bases and delectable ornamentation. I needed something quick, there was poor old tooth extracted Real Live Rocking dog to rescue from the vet!

Lemon and poppy seed cake was chosen for the September huddle. The cake was easy to make and rather curiously included double cream in its makeup. After 40 or so minutes in the oven a lemon glaze was poured onto its golden top and it then left to cool. Simple!

As ever I didn’t do any sewing or anything creative but I did talk about my fast approaching visits to Belgian and French war cemeteries for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” project. I didn’t quite realise what a feat it was going to be to pay homage to the local WW1 heroes. There are now currently 22 French cemeteries to visit, together with 4 Belgian cemeteries. Looking for a place to “camp up” for two nights Andyman and I thought it may be convenient to stay in Lens. Looking at airbnb’s in the area we thought it rather strange that everything looked picturesquely alpine chalet. Ah yes the snow, the wooden cabins, pines and roaring fires belonged to Lens, Switzerland and not Lens, France! Back to the drawing board!

Keep Calm & Carry On Karen did come to the huddle and gave us the latest on the house renovation. There were photo’s of buckets catching rain water, tile-less rafters, dust, Atilla The Hun (garian) builder and general chaos. We are in awe of you Karen and your faith in that all will be well. We can all understand your concerns about the 1930’s pump action yacht toilet which eccentric husband has enthusiastically bought. Di’ gave us the grim news that Christmas has arrived in John Lewis, is it just me or does the Christmas frenzy get earlier each year? “Strictly”, “Bake Off”, my being expelled from a salsa class, hoarding relatives, extension plans, olive picking and the joys of being a doctor in 2017 all provided lively discussion subjects.

As for the cake, well it was rather delicious especially eaten with a spoonful of glorious Greek yoghurt. We bow to you Yotam and Helen.

Thank you huddlers you were great company on a dark and wet September night. Love Rocking Dog x

PS No October huddle due to those pesky olives! We will chattily reconvene in November for mulled wine infused creativity.

Naughty Bakery!,Rocking Dog

Naughty Bakery!

Recipe,Rocking Dog

Recipe

Loads Of Lemons,Rocking Dog

Loads Of Lemons

The Glaze,Rocking Dog

The Glaze

The C Word,Rocking Dog

The C Word

Vintage Appreciation,Rocking Dog

Vintage Appreciation

Kitchen Creativity With Lovely Young Adult Carers

Delectable Chicken Shawarma,Rocking Dog

Delectable Chicken Shawarma

Last night I was getting creative in the kitchen with a group of lovely Young Adult Carers. The group of eight cooked three healthy main courses before we sat down for a social supper. The dishes were a healthier version of Chicken & Leek Pie using scrunched up filo pastry,
Chicken Shawarma Flatbreads (including all the bits) and
Butternut Squash & Pancetta Fusilli. We had a great time in the kitchen and in just over an hour we were all sitting down to eat their dishes. Delicious!

We ended the social eating with a fruit platter and many enjoyed trying new fruits. They all left the building having eaten a good proportion of their five a day!

Many of these young adults have been coming to Young Carers for ten years or so. The centre and dedicated team have been a major support system and have provided the opportunity for youngsters to meet others with similar caring responsibilities. The nasty word funding is unfortunately never very far away.

Bravo to all, you were brilliant and it was a real privilege to share the kitchen with you.

PS. More creativity of the sewing and cake eating variety tonight- Rocking Dog Huddle 7-9pm

For The Pie,Rocking Dog

For The Pie

This Too!,Rocking Dog

This Too!

The Golden Result,Rocking Dog

The Golden Result

Choosing Dishes,Rocking Dog

Choosing Dishes

Any Butternut Squash?,Rocking Dog

Any Butternut Squash?

Pasta Plate,Rocking Dog

Pasta Plate

Eating Together,Rocking Dog

Eating Together

5 A Day, Rocking Dog

5 A Day

Trying New Things,Rocking Dog

Trying New Things

It’s Time For The September Huddle

Rocking Dog Vintage Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Vintage Haberdashery

The nights are drawing in, there is a nip in the air and it is definitely beginning to feel more autumnal. Time then to come together for the September Rocking Dog creative huddle. A warm welcome awaits any battle scarred huddlers or indeed any brave newbies. No, really you need not be afraid, we are all relatively normal and there is always cake to gobble! It all happens on Wednesday 7-9pm and as ever donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work, encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

I am so hoping that Keep Calm & Carry On Karen comes. I’m so desperate to hear the latest on her house renovation (or should that be demolition). Hopefully Atilla the Hun (garian), yes really, will have got the roof on. We all want to know how Karen keeps SO calm! Peppermint tea, a bucket load of Rescue Remedy, a secret flotation tank, SAS survival training perhaps? Maybe this huddle she’ll let us into her secret! I would have definitely benefitted from a dose of Karens calmness over the last few days. I have been so angry ….but that’s another story and not helped by a trip to Asda at Cribbs’. Having a supermarket that size is the devils work ….breathe,breathe,breathe! I solemnly promise never ever to set foot in there ever again. I made that promise years ago about Toys R Us, that too gave me the Asda anger effect!

I promise to not be angry on Wednesday, I will be my usual glittering charming hosting self (with a bit of grumpiness thrown in for good measure). Do please come we really are normal, promise! We even manage to do a little bit of sewing or crocheting in between laughing and eating cake.

Cosy Kennel!,Rocking Dog

Cosy Kennel!

Vintage Frou,Rocking Dog

Vintage Frou

Fantastical Bird Snips,Rocking Dog

Fantastical Bird Snips

Talking Food With Lovely Young Carer’s

Neat Apple Piles,Rocking Dog

Neat Apple Piles

What could be more lovely than talking food with lovely Young Carer’s. I love my time volunteering, this time I was asked to facilitate two healthy eating sessions for 18-26 year olds. I was delighted to be asked. The sessions are part of a Wellbeing course being run over the next six weeks. I quite fancy the Yoga, mindfulness and guided walk weeks!

We had a lovely time talking nutrition, how the group shopped, and top tips for cooking on a budget. The two hours flew! Obviously every good event deserves a goody bag. Dear neighbour Jenny asked me if I would like some apples on a recent visit. Starting to plan my Young Carer’s session I rather cheekily asked if I could indeed have apples for thirteen crumbles! Jenny so kindly obliged and we had a lovely time yesterday picking apples in glorious sunshine. Oats, brown sugar, wholemeal flour and margarine were weighed rather hurriedly and put into sewn paper pockets with the recipe attached. Voila! a DIY crumble pack.

Next week we will have fun in the kitchen cooking some nutritious wintry comfort food. Sorry to the chap who suggested steak, I don’t think the budget can quite stretch to that! I do so love my time with Young Carer’s and it’s a great organisation to be involved with.

On arriving back at the kennel I cleared the somewhat chaotic kitchen. Everywhere had a generous dusting of flour, oats and sugar! I rather disconcertingly came upon one solitary bag of Flour/oats. Oops! I rather hope everyone has got a bag of crumble mix. Apple puree anyone?!

Apple Harvest,Rocking Dog

Apple Harvest

Pick Me!,Rocking Dog

Pick Me!

Tea Towel Recipe,Rocking Dog

Tea Towel Recipe

DIY Crumble Pack,Rocking Dog

DIY Crumble Pack

Crumble In A Teacup,Rocking Dog

Crumble In A Teacup

Apples To Decorate,Rocking Dog

Apples To Decorate

The Rocking Dog Remember Me Project

Remember Me,Rocking Dog

Remember Me

Real Live Rocking Dog and I have been walking together for a glorious ten years now. Many of our walks have taken us close to the war memorial on Whiteshill Common, Hambrook. I have often stopped and looked at the names on the edifice, many of the surnames have seemed very familiar to me. Having been brought up in a village close by I have more than likely rubbed shoulders in years gone by with the sons, nephews, grandsons and maiden aunts etc.. of those commemorated on the memorial.

For a while now I have been wanting to research those 53 WW1 names on the memorial to link in with next years Armistice centenary. Then my plans became more bold, I decided I wanted to visit the graves/memorials of these fallen soldiers. The challenge has begun.

As we are heading through France and Belgium next month I have started to research the resting places of all those inscribed names. I am ashamed to say I was incredibly naive to think that the majority of these servicemen would be in a couple of cemeteries. Thus far I will need to visit 18 French cemeteries and 2 in Belgium. There are some Commonwealth graves in local churchyards and one that I will visit in the Rhondda, Wales. Others are off limits due to their location or security risk (Iraq (formerly Mesopotamia), Azerbajan, Israel, Gallipoli and Greece). The biggest of the cemeteries I need to visit is the Thiepval Memorial with over 72,000 casualties. Meanwhile other cemeteries to visit have only 100 or so casualties. I am wondering which I am going to be most moved by, the enormity of Thiepval or the intimacy of the smaller cemeteries. Thiepval is the largest Commonwealth Memorial to the missing in the world. Most of those commemorated there died during the Somme Offensive of 1916.

I have been using Ancestry.co.uk, the Commonwealth Graves Commission site and local archives (including Frenchay Museum) to conduct my research. The research has led me to war memorial plaques at Marlborough College and the Australian War Memorial. It has also uncovered stories of the near blind villager who knitted a large quantity of woollen mittens and socks for those in the trenches at Gallipoli. There are stories of a villager housing many Belgian refugees and other locals who were instrumental in organising & sending out Christmas parcels to the soldiers of the villages. These parcels were an amazing morale boost for the men at the front. Others nursed at a temporary hospital tending the wounded, whilst others managed poultry to lay eggs for the patients.

As 2018 beckons I want to start compiling A4 sheets (which will be laminated) of the lives and deaths of these soldiers. With the current householders’ permissions I hope to attach one of these “Remember Me” sheets to a door or gate where the soldier was bought up, schooled, worshipped or worked. I will hopefully be able to track down photo’s and personalise each history. These soldiers will simply not be allowed to be just a name on a war memorial. Thank you to kind friends who are knitting poppies to attach to the histories. Pretty please sometime later I would love to buddy up with anyone who has a super duper laminator!

I am hoping that the culmination of all this will be a vintage tea next November. The icing on the cake would be if ancestors of those commemorated came to pay tribute to their relative, and of course to eat Rocking Dog cake.

I include photo’s of my Great Aunt Susan who was called up to be a nurse with the Expeditionary Force in the first few days of the war. Another photo shows my two great uncles, one of whom (David Cresser) served in Gallipoli with the Anzacs. He also had the honour of raising the Union Flag in German occupied Samoa. Finally another photo shows my Grandfather John Warrington Scott (top right, bit of a lad!) He served with Royal Engineers and was very badly gassed in the trenches. Thankfully all these relatives returned home to Scotland and New Zealand.

Have you got relatives who served in WW1? As the 2018 centenary beckons let us Remember Them.

Have a good week and stay cosy, autumn seems to have arrived! Love Rocking Dog x

 War Memorial Rocking Dog

War Memorial,

Frenchay Church,Rocking Dog

Frenchay Church

Commonwealth Grave,Rocking Dog

Commonwealth Grave

Royal Engineer Grandfather,Rocking Dog

Royal Engineer Grandfather

My Great Uncles WW1,Rocking Dog

My Great Uncles WW1

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France,Rocking Dog

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France

Soundtrack Of A Holiday

Brando Lives On! Florence,Rocking Dog

Brando Lives On! Florence

Having just arrived back from Umbria I still haven’t been able to rid myself of the soundtrack of the holiday! Do you find that there is always a tune that is playing whenever you jiggle radio stations, or step into bars or cafes? Often these songs are slightly annoying or indeed very annoying. In years to come you hear the tune again and it immediately transports you back to the holiday destination where you couldn’t help humming or singing it at full pelt. Our soundtrack this autumn in Umbria was somewhat embarrassedly Bruno Mars’s “Versace on the Floor”! Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” takes me to my teenage French exchange trip and to a cafe with a juke box. Newquay, “I’m In Mood For Dancing” by the Nolans, and my first holiday with Andyman in Umbria (1981) Barclay James Harvest’s album “Eyes of the Universe”. There were holidays with The Proclaimers “Lord, I Want To Be a Christian”, All Saints with “Never Ever” and The Bangles “Eternal Flame”etc.. I expect it will be a few days before I lose Versace from my head. Very hopefully I won’t lose the memory of our girls dancing around the Umbrian kitchen with baby Doug’in arms!

We found our Umbrian garden incredibly parched and somewhat resembling Little House on the Prairie. We have been reassured that our “grass” will somehow green up again. The poor Italians have had a scorchingly hot year and it has had a devastating effect on the crops. Vines hung heavy with fruit which I photographed last year tell a very different story this autumn. It has been difficult for the locals to irrigate crops and many wells have completely dried up. In our garden we are lucky to have some olives to pick when the start of November comes. There was leaf clearing to do and a pomegranate and fig tree to plant. Thankfully heavy rains came on our last day and watered those tender new trees. Alas with all the botanical tidying there was no hammock swinging, no sitting in my oak leaved reading nook and no star gazing. One day!

Wonderfully there were little toes in the pool, an inflatable avocado, some luxuriating, and serious lengths done in the cool of the pool.

There were vintage linens to launder and dry in the sun, a chimney to chat about for the woodburning stove, and lovely food to eat both at home and away.

Liv’ and I ventured to Florence and we all loved the lake (Trasimeno) especially the bonfire set up for a wedding. There were delicious custard filled Aragosta’s (lobster claws) to eat, thank you Michele, and refreshing Aperol Spritz’s to drink at Bar Gallo in Panicale. There is the small matter now of working off all that delicious Vongole and Scampi Gnocchi eaten at da Massimo’s! Why is Umbrian food just SO delicious?!

It really is lovely to be back to the green of England in September, with fresh inspiration for new projects.

Have a great week Rocking Dog x

PS Happy 30th Birthday to our boy Alex’. Have a wonderful time celebrating in France. At least there is no embarrassing cake today Alex! In a year gone by (16 years ago) I was seriously inspired by a trip to Amsterdam, in particular a visit to De Taart Van M’n Tante (My Aunt’s Tart). Many of their cakes were bold and risque. What possessed me to think it was appropriate to send a boxed cake with Alex on a geography school trip which was topped by a rubber gimp doll?! Sorry Alex.

Apartment In The Sky,Rocking Dog

Apartment In The Sky

Tiny Toes,Rocking Dog

Tiny Toes

On Dry Land,Rocking Dog

On Dry Land

Vintage Laundry,Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

There Will Be Oil!,Rocking Dog

There Will Be Oil!

Chimney Chat,Rocking Dog

Chimney Chat

Down At The Lake,Rocking Dog

Down At The Lake

Cake Break,Rocking Dog

Cake Break

Planting For The Future,Rocking Dog

Planting For The Future