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My 400th Rocking Dog Post

Exquisite Setting,Rocking Dog

Exquisite Setting

Sorry that there is no Rocking Dog gingerbread house or cake with the number 400 on it. Life has been busy shopping and preparing for a lovely wedding at the end of the week. Rocking Dog is going to be pulling out all the stops! The atmospheric photo heading this post is taken in the garden where there’ll be a marquee, an undoubtedly very glamorous bride and groom and a melee of equally gorgeous guests. I am slightly worried that my own outfit is all together rather Handmaid’s Tale – I’m just needing the bonnet! The garden this morning was young, fresh, verdant and with the happy sound of little children enjoying the first day of the summer holidays, yay! The borders are looking wonderful with Bears Breeches, Agapanthus, Hosta’s and other botanical loveliness. The old warm brick walls which formerly would have had lean-to green housing for the growing of lemons, pineapples and other “showy” edibles now hosts wisteria with its scented mauve chandelier blooms. There really is nothing like an English garden and this one is truly, yes absolutely truly lovely.

It has taken Rocking Dog 7 months to leap from 350 to 400 posts. There have been times where writing has not come easily. In fact reading doesn’t always come very easily either. I am ashamed to say that in June I read my first book in two years and that felt quite an achievement. The brain is such a difficult organ to fathom.

Importantly, there has been a new grandchild this spring and in turn the nurturing of new parents. The name Biddy (as in old) is becoming a term of endearment I really love. I haven’t given up leopard print or silver wedge shoes and yes, I know I will love him unconditionally even when he’s a grunting spotty teenager!

The seven months have seen Christmas glitzily come and go, and in fact come back again! Indeed, we hosted “Christmas in February” at the kennel and raised £550 (plus GiftAid) for Young Carer’s. We can do “Christmas in a Box” for families in need Christmas 2017. Wee Tam’, Old gout ridden Toby and Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) are busy conjuring up the theme for next years Burn’s Night…watch this space!

There has been lots of walking to be done with Real Live Rocking Dog with a myriad of wildlife- deer, kingfishers, weasels, buzzards, swallows and even a Russian Waxwing! The white rabbits still seem to be multiplying in the field and I never cease to think that it’s some weird scene from Teletubbies! Real Live Rocking Dog also got to walk in France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Germany and finally Italy this Spring. Like us he likes the Umbrian way of life and he is particularly partial to the sausages stocked in the village shop!

Rocking Dog has continued to make food, sew, gallantly endeavoured to tackle two unruly gardens, volunteer, homemake, care for friends & family and always tried to be cheery (for a half empty glass gal’ I acknowledge I am).

Seven months in a nutshell! Somewhat alarmingly the next fifty posts should take me to Christmas 2017! There’ll have been Young Carer’s Christmas Boxes to pack, a charity pop up restaurant night under our belts, an olive harvest to bring in (fingers crossed), Real Live Rocking Dog having walked in the snow again and lots of happy times spent with friends and family.

Love to all those who follow my blog, I appreciate you hanging in there with me

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. Yes, another phenomenon of the 7 months is the Rocking Dog Creative Huddle. There is a Huddle this Wednesday (26th). Homemade cake (fingers crossed) creative stuff, friendly chat and you’d be very welcome 7-9pm. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work inspiring and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

Winter Walks,Rocking Dog

Winter Walks

Mrs Mac & Wee Tam,Rocking Dog

Mrs Mac & Wee Tam

Christmas In Feb',Rocking Dog

Christmas In Feb’

Marmalade Making,Rocking Dog

Marmalade Making

Cushion Making,Rocking Dog

Cushion Making

Creative Huddling,Rocking Dog

Creative Huddling

Field Full Of Flowers,Rocking Dog

Field Full Of Flowers

Chelsea Flowers,Rocking Dog

Chelsea Flowers

Quilted Flowers,Rocking Dog

Quilted Flowers

English Wedding,Rocking Dog

English Wedding

Spring In Umbria,Rocking Dog

Spring In Umbria

Swim In Umbria!,Rocking Dog

Swim In Umbria!

Thank You To The Rocking Dog Huddlers

Chaotic Creativity,Rocking Dog

Chaotic Creativity

Poor Rocking Dog had to steady herself with a G&T last night. She wasn’t sure if anyone was going to come to the first Rocking Dog Huddle. She needn’t have worried a steady stream of lovely ladies crossed over the the kennel threshold. Thank you to all those who came. Sometimes it is all too tempting to settle in a comfy chair at home and not brave the near zero temperatures outside.

Cranberry zinger, hot chocolate and tea was drunk as we tackled projects. There was beautiful knitted bunting, a gorgeous crocheted blanket, stuffed rabbit and knitted top being crafted.There were also boring but necessary hems to be turned up and sewn. Other huddlers chose to make lavender crooked hearts.

A group largely made up of random strangers to each other, it was an evening of amazing coincidences. There were folk who had been growing up in the same Kent town and a neighbour who had been treated in the same German hospital that I had worked. Later in the evening I was talking about the dusting room at school. Yes, a room where GIRLS learnt how to dust, make a bed, lay up a tray for an invalid, arrange flowers etc.. grrrrrrr!!! It transpired that another of the huddlers remembered that same dusting room and in fact was in the same class as me at school! 1978 was the last time I saw her and here Diane was, very probably realising that me and dusting was a lost cause! It was so lovely to meet you again.

Your Abel & Cole recipe for haggis sausage rolls was appreciated by us all Sorrel. Thank you. Nigella’s cake was crumbly, chocolatey and calorific! The jury’s out on that one.

Thank you again to all who came last night and a special someone who attempted to make it but unfortunately had a little bit of a car bump. Look forward to seeing you next time.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) has returned to old Toby. Does this mean she saw what was under Wee Tam’s Kilt?!

Cranberry Zinger,Rocking Dog

Cranberry Zinger

Sew, Chat, Eat,Rocking Dog

Sew, Chat, Eat

Crumbly Cake,Rocking Dog

Crumbly Cake

Crooked Hearts,Rocking Dog

Crooked Hearts

Who Ate All The Pies?!,Rocking Dog

Who Ate All The Pies?!

Mrs M Back In Her Rightful Place,Rocking Dog

Mrs M Back In Her Rightful Place

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

Yay! Haggis Sausage Rolls For Burn’s Night

Straight From The Oven,Rocking Dog

Straight From The Oven

Oops! slight oversight I forgot Burn’s Night! Married to a Scot (oops sorry Andyman not your team!) and being half Scottish myself that’s slightly unforgivable. I spotted a MacSween Haggis in a butchers window and that’s when the penny dropped.

So, the Rocking Dog Huddlers will be offered haggis sausage rolls this evening. I made these golden beauties using an Abel& Cole recipe,credit to my lovely girl Sorrel. However I cheated a little by using ready made Taste The Difference all butter puff pastry. There’s a delicious vegetarian haggis version too for anyone feeling slightly queasy about the offal and entrails involved in the art of haggis making.

Burn’s Night always gives me the opportunity to talk about my Toby Jug folk and to be just a little bit silly… so here goes! Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) has waddled across the mantlepiece, unable to resist the kilted charms of Wee Tam. Poor Toby, his beer swigging ways are not going down well with Mrs Mack (she is a convent girl after all). Toby’s Gout, flatulance, swarthy complexion, beer belly and moobs, she really wants to move on and find out just what Wee Tam wears beneath his kilt. Is he really so wee?!! For The time being she’s just enjoying his ticklin’ and Sean Connery accent. Ooh she’s a wee flirt!

Anyway enough of this nonsense, have a very happy Burn’s Night one and all!

Stop Your Ticklin' Tam!,Rocking Dog

Stop Your Ticklin’ Tam!

Time To Cook The Haggis- It’s Burns’ Night!

Wee Tam' Waiting For His Haggis Supper!, Rocking Dog

Wee Tam’ Waiting For His Haggis Supper!

There is no hope for me and a minimalist lifestyle! Another Toby jug has appeared on the mantlepiece. So old Toby and Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) have been joined by Wee Tam. Poor old Toby with his gout and ale supping ailments cannot compete with the handsome Tam! A fine figure of a kilted man, resplendent in his gilded sporran, tartan sash and Tam’o Shanter, he is ready to nimbly sword dance with the blushing Mrs Mack!

Enough of this nonsense, indeed it is Burns’ Night when folk across the world celebrate the Scottish poet Robert Burns. A good excuse then to cook some haggis, neeps (swede) and tatties and wash it all down with a wee dram of whisky. Even better to be eating and drinking to the sound of Andyman and his pipes.

The decision needs to be made as to whether Wee Tam will be filled with whisky or Gravy. Let me see now what makes less mess when he’s doing his nocturnal Highland Reels with Mrs Mack!

Happy Burn’s Night to one and all.

PS. If you haven’t ever tried Haggis before it really is delicious. If you find the thought of the meat version a little stomach churning try the vegetarian haggis which is also very tasty and doesn’t involve any offal!

Rivalry For Mrs Macks Attention!!, Rocking Dog

Rivalry For Mrs Macks Attention!

What’s Going On On Your Mantlepiece?

Muddled Mantlepiece, Rocking Dog

Muddled Mantlepiece

A few years ago The Guardian asked readers to describe and send in images of their mantlepieces. It really got me thinking of the strange things that accumulate on mantlepieces, well certainly mine. They aren’t styled, rather more they come about as a natural dusty evolvement. Christmas usually sparks changes with the addition of putz houses, tatty decorations and Christmas cards, otherwise, my mantlepieces remain pretty constant. I do however love a jug of garden flowers or a gorgeous scented candle to ring the changes.

The photo above is of the mantlepiece in my sewing room and has simply come about. The dogs are a pair I bought as a present for Andyman (you know one of those gifts you buy by proxy!) and were on the scene long before Real Live Rocking Dog was a twinkle in his Daddy’s eye (incidentally his Dad’s name had the Pedigree name “Stand and Deliver”). An advent calendar, postcards, a graceful 1930’s bust, knitted asparagus and lots of other frou vie for space and until I write something like this I don’t really think of the cornucopia of tat that I live with.

The mantlepiece adorned with tulips, is a pretty grand fireplace for this humble cottage. It is a large ornate cast iron affair which took a lot of stripping to rid it of the green and yellow marbling effect which the previous owner had favoured. Eventually I need to inject a little more colour into the room, but the tulips give a welcome but temporary colour pop. I love the photo on the mantlepiece of the little Russian baby and its mother, both dressed in fur and finery. It gives me a Dr Zhivago moment every time I dust!

My wooden mantlepiece has obviously seen the new arrival of Toby jug, Mrs Mack and Sailor Dog (bought from the lovely Jayne Soule) but everything else is years of knick knackery! The old clock face was rescued from underneath a carpet in the house, used to stop floorboards creaking!

One Sunday when our son arrived home to be fed and have his washing done, he reluctantly watched Antiques Roadshow with me. One item featured was valued at about £6,000, that got son…… thinking! He was studiously looking around the lounge before asking me whether we had anything that could be worth that. I somewhat incredulously exclaimed “no”, but he then decided to interrogate me further. He pointed up to the clock on the mantlepiece and said “what about that then”? We are talking about a crudely made clock (possibly American) with crude mechanism and a Robertson’s “Golly” on it’s little glass door. Try again Alex!

Lastly my bedroom mantlepiece which is strangely for me, colour coordinated. I don’t have many photo’s up in the house but this is where most find their secure long term place. I love my bedroom wallpaper which has been with us for about 15 years. We could only afford to do one wall, but every morning it makes me smile, I don’t think a B&Q paper could have done that!

What’s going on on your mantlepiece right now?

Colour Pop, Rocking Dog

Colour Pop

What's it Worth? Rocking Dog

What’s it Worth?

Colour Coordinated, Rocking Dog

Colour Coordinated

:)