Category Archives: Ancestry

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

Rocking Dog Just Loves A Good Envelope!

No Boring Envelope For Rocking Dog!, Rocking Dog

No Boring Envelope For Rocking Dog!

Yes indeedy! Rocking Dog just loves a good envelope. A good envelope inevitably heralds something rather lovely inside. The grimness of finding those all too familiar window’d envelopes on the mat is somewhat depressing. It’s with the well programmed knowledge that we all know that they usually contain the post Christmas bank statement, utility bill or worse!

There is something wonderful about a handwritten envelope (although in the past I was all too petrified when I recognised the hand writing of a persistent stalker). Yesterday I made Burn’s Night invite envelopes using wonderful wrapping paper bought in Anthropologie. I was deliciously and miserly coveting it, but then thought heck what’s the use of leaving it in its cellophane bag! I used my wooden envelope template to make the stylish envelopes, and scissors and Pritt to finish the job. I deemed invites for posting needed more robust affairs, so cut bears, hatted rabbits and sun glassed tigers and pasted the eccentric creatures onto brown envelopes. Job done.

The pictures below are a catalogue of Rocking Dog envelope adventures. A journey of glue, wallpaper, old menus, material, calligraphy and thought.

The trade envelope shows that my great grandfather Robert Cresser loved an embellished envelope to send out invoices in the early 1900’s for brushes for flues, lums and pipes.

I loved the oh so pretty envelope sent this Christmas by lovely neighbours, it was as lovely as the card it contained. I read that somewhere that it really cheers postal staff to have a good envelope to sort and post.

Meanwhile I couldn’t resist a bundle of empty envelopes found in a charity shop recently. Dating from the 1950’s they are predominantly written to Lloyds Bank on the Isle of Man. Delicious postmarks and stamps see them posted from all corners of the globe. The man in the charity shop was rather apologetic about my having to pay 50 pence for each of these little treasures. One mans meat is another mans poison as my mother used to say! Someday they will find their way into a Rocking Dog collage or wrapping paper design I am quite sure.

Rocking Dog is off on a flying visit to York this weekend. It will be lovely to revisit this gorgeous city and I hope i’ll come home really inspired.

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it’s a really happy one for you. Stay cosy! Love Rocking Dog x

PS. Poor Real Live Rocking Dog is destined for a hot soapy bath this morning ready for his mini break in Wiltshire. Grrrrr! he’s not fond of the bath tub is RLRDog!

Magic Template,Rocking Dog

Magic Template

Voucher Envelope, Rocking Dog

Voucher Envelope

Save The Date, Rocking Dog

Save The Date

Jazzing Up Vouchers

Jazzing Up Vouchers

Trade Envelope, Rocking Dog

Trade Envelope

Cash Envelope, Rocking Dog

Cash Envelope

Voila!, Rocking Dog

Voila!

Oh So Pretty!,Rocking Dog

Oh So Pretty!

Charity Shop Finds,Rocking Dog

Charity Shop Finds

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 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

Q: ” How Do You Think Up Things To Blog About?’

This Rings A Chord!, Rocking Dog

This Rings A Chord!

At the Country Living Build A Business Day on Wednesday one talented “girl” having discovered I blog regularly asked me “How do you think up things to blog about?” A lovely question. In short, I thankfully rarely find it difficult to find something to spout on about!

For me, I need space to think. This brain space is normally found when I am doing the early morning walk with Real Live Rocking Dog.

I am really inspired by nature and though living only a 10 minute drive from Bristol my home is set down a wild wooded lane. The changing seasons and local flora and fauna always make regular outings on my blogs. Yesterday wild lilac bowers lined a favourite walk, the scent and colour of the blooms set me thinking. Expect a purple post soon!

As a child I used to love the school nature table. Jam-jars of tadpoles, Old Man’s Beard, Rose-hips, conkers, wild flowers and Beech masts would all make appearances throughout the year. I am a nostalgic soul and like my own seasonal nature table (no tadpoles I hasten to add!). I sometimes style a “table” for one of my blogs. Meanwhile foraging for sloes, blackberries, wild garlic and damsons provide the opportunity to make edible preserves etc..and in turn informative blogs.

Once the walk is over there is plenty of material to talk about back at the Rocking Dog Kennel. A crumbly 230 year old house with a past history of having been a bakery and an overflow mortuary for the local undertakers it has characterful bones. There has been damp, old death watch beetle, walls to take down and nudey ladies to paint over. There have been battles with listings folk, chimneys to de-nest and a summer spent scaling scaffolding brushing on 90 litres of faux “Dead Salmon”. There was the electrician who informed us of his dodgy bowels, a kitchen fitter who needed a cardiac team and a slap dash plumber who left water so deep in our kitchen that we had ducks swimming across the floor. Worse were the no show painter quoters, necessitating myself and broken shouldered husband to paint a 30 foot high ceiling on a VERY wobbly scaffolding tower. Blog material a plenty!

My makes, edible and non edible make appearances regularly and I often include instructions and recipes. The main photograph on this post made me laugh. It very much sums up eating in or out.. when I shout “don’t touch ’til I photograph it!” We all need to eat, and food doesn’t need to be elaborate to blog about. Good photographs, a degree of styling and a recipe often get people liking a food post.

I really love “my” city, so will blog about markets, parks, shops and eating haunts. I love championing people who are really good at what they do. Outside of Bristol I love to blog about events and exhibitions, Chelsea Flower Show and Kaffe Fasset’s exhibition at The American Museum, Bath particularly stand out for me.

Ancestry and the history of objects are pastimes I enjoy and I sometimes use researched material in a blog. Many of these posts are personal to my family and I. I hope they are a lasting written archive of family memories, the provenance of objects and distillation of ancestry. I would like to think that these posts are enjoyable to read for non family members.

As a self confessed magpie I love items with a history and which have been well used. Yesterday morning I was looking at our lovely linen cupboard, it’s so funny that you live with things for so long that you sometimes forget to notice them anymore. I don’t know anything about the cupboard apart from that it’s made from oak, heavily carved and when we bought it 28 years or so ago it was covered in white paint. Maybe I need to do a research blog post as I did for the lovely little Gladstone bag bought last summer.

Occasions such as Christmas provide brilliant opportunities to blog on gift making, decorations, wrapping, wreath making, festive food etc…etc..Additionally there are shop windows, festive events, other peoples decorations to blog about. It’s a blogging feeding frenzy! Pop up events, Charity Burn’s Nights and Rocking Dog sales feature in my blogs as does styling work.

Travel at home or away gives the opportunity for new experiences to be reported on and photographed. On travel I like to blog, but I hope I don’t brag. Wherever I am I really like to get to know how people live, what the locals eat, how they shop and their working lives. In Cuba we spent an hour watching two young athletic men take a primary school PE lesson. These children were seemingly having so much fun just running in teams against each other along a public tree lined walkway. Simple insights like this would make suitable blog post material.

Day to day, if a present needs wrapping it doesn’t take any longer to wrap a present for a blog shoot. As regular readers know I love a good piece of wallpaper, magazine or Chinese newspaper to do a creative wrap.

Sometimes I can be serious, especially if I think there is something I feel needs saying or telling.

General points: I try to steer clear of sex, religion and politics (though Donald Trump’s name has crept into one or two of my posts-oops!). My blog I would like to think is for a little bit of escapism. Peoples’ lives are busy with many difficulties to navigate. I really am no different even though the blog may suggest a picture perfect life!

It can be demoralising to put a sizeable quantity of time to put a blog piece together and for likes to be unforthcoming. I sometimes question why I should carry on…but something and more importantly some people keep me on going. Persevere!

I sincerely hope I have answered the question, and yes I burn the candle both ends!

So here endeth my Friday post. I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Love Rocking Dog x

Nature Table, Rocking Dog

Nature Table

Home &.......,Rocking Dog

Home &…….

....Garden!, Rocking Dog

….Garden!

Alternative Wrap, Rocking Dog

Alternative Wrap

Food Eaten In ....., Rocking Dog

Food Eaten In …..

...And Out!, Rocking Dog

…And Out!

Charity Events, Rocking Dog

Charity Events

Peek In My Wardrobe!, Rocking Dog

Peek In My Wardrobe!

My City, Rocking Dog

My City

My Makes, Rocking Dog

My Makes

My Travels, Rocking Dog

My Travels

My Family, Rocking Dog

My Family

A Wee Heartwarming Scottish Tale For The Wee Bairns!

Bronze Bobby, Rocking Dog

Bronze Bobby

It’s a long time since I did a post for the little small things, so here is a wee heartwarming Scottish tale for the wee bairns.

Hello little small things, very soon I want you to sit very comfortably whilst you listen to this tale. If you are very clever you will be reading this yourself. However, I must first warn you that this is definitely not a story for those of you who like fluffy white rabbits, twinkly princesses or cuddly purring pussy-cats!

So are you sitting extraordinarily comfortably? So we’ll begin… please remember to click the links as the story goes on.

Once upon a time, because of course that’s how all good stories begin, there was a man called John Gray. He lived a VERY long time ago, not quite at a time when dinosaurs roamed the planet, but still a very long time ago. John lived in Scotland, as you are very clever you will know that Scotland is famous for the Loch Ness Monster, noisy bagpipes, kilts and haggis. John worked as a gardener and was very poor, so he together with his wife Jess and son John decided to seek their fortune in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is a very big city with a castle and a craggy hill called Arthur’s Seat. The cobbled streets in John’s time would have been noisy with people selling things, street performers, pedlars, horses and carts, beggars and children playing.

Poor John could not find a job, he was worried that his little family would end up in the workhouse. The workhouse was a really horrid place to be, with horrible food, itchy uniforms and no time to play. In time he was pleased to get a job working as a night watchman, helping the Edinburgh City Police. His job involved walking the streets of the city, making sure that there were no burglars about, and that everyone was safely tucked up in their beds. He would walk the dark streets in snow, fog and rain.

John was accompanied in his lonely job by his little dog Bobby. They loved each other very much and the people of the city used to love to see John and his faithful dog walking the cobbled streets together. John became very ill and there was nothing that could be done to help him, so sadly he died. Bobby followed Johns coffin into the kirkyard (churchyard) at Greyfriars and refused to leave his masters grave.

How long do you think that Bobby stayed by the grave? Have a guess. The little dog stayed there for fourteen years! He only left the kirkyard to go and have food. Each day the castle would fire a large gun at 1 o’clock and when he heard the gun Bobby would scamper off for lunch. After eating he would return to the kirkyard and that’s where he’d stay until the castle’s gun went off again the following day.

At first the graveyard caretaker would try to shoo Bobby away, but in time he realised just how devoted the little dog was to his owner. The caretaker kindly put some sacking between two gravestones to give Bobby shelter from the rain, snow and sun. I wonder if Bobby ever got frightened because the kirkyard is very creepy with lots of carved skulls, tombstones and angels. I certainly wouldn’t like to spend a night there!

In time The Lord Provost, similar to a Lord Mayor, was so touched by Bobby’s devotion that he presented him with a collar (If you are ever in Edinburgh you can see Bobby’s collar in the Museum of Edinburgh). Bobby became a little bit of a celebrity, with people coming especially to see him. I wonder if my great grandfather was one of those people who visited Bobby, because he lived and worked very close by.

Bobby got to be a very old dog, but eventually died in 1872 at the age of sixteen which is VERY old in doggy years! He was buried in a grave very close to his master, just inside the gates of the Greyfriars kirkyard, and I expect everyone was very very sad.

A year after Bobby died a very rich English lady who had heard the story of Bobby asked the council if they would allow her to pay for a water fountain in memory of the little dog. If you go to Candlemaker Row you can see Bobby’s fountain. Bobby is cast from a metal called bronze. Can you see in the photo how gold his nose is from people stroking it? If you are thirsty I don’t think you should drink from the fountain, the water looks very dirty.

In 1981 which isn’t ALL that long ago, a red granite headstone was placed on Bobby’s grave. People come from all over the world to see his grave and sometimes they leave sticks (because dogs simply LOVE running after sticks!), toys and flowers.

Maybe one day you’ll be able to go and stroke Bobby’s nose and see Edinburgh for yourself.

Bobby, Rocking Dog

Bobby

Welcome To Edinburgh, Rocking Dog

Welcome To Edinburgh

Bobby In Print, Rocking Dog

Bobby In Print

Edinburgh Ancestors, Rocking Dog

Edinburgh Ancestors

Creepy Graveyard, Rocking Dog

Creepy Graveyard

Bobby's Grave, Rocking Dog

Bobby’s Grave

250th Blog – Thank you For Being On The Journey!

Celebrating 250 Posts With Cake, Rocking Dog

Celebrating 250 Posts With Cake

250 blogs- thank you from the bottom of my heart for being on the journey with me.

It’s hard to believe that when I did my very first blog on October 12th 2014 I had sleepless nights worrying about embracing technology. My lovely and very patient sister put me on the path of blogging. She sat with me and VERY painfully watched my first tentative steps dealing with WordPress. Exhausted and exasperated she left me sheaths of handwritten instructions to refer to. There were phone calls to her when things went wrong and there was lots of family support to keep me going when I felt overwhelmed. Steadily I made slow progress.

A one finger keyboard bod’ I still am, but posts are put together more quickly even if it’s sometimes 1am when I start a post! I have found blogging tremendously useful for the equalibrium of my mental health. At various points in my life I have suffered from depression. One particularly tough patch about seven years ago rendered communicating incredibly difficult. It was physically and mentally painful to talk. Furthermore, I found it almost impossible to write, physically holding a pen and using a computer keyboard were so indescribably difficult. Even signing a card was sometimes beyond me, and creative writing was unthinkable. With a consistently supportive GP, appropriate medication and online counselling together with support from fantastic family and friends the year long fog gradually lifted. Having to walk Real Life Rocking Dog twice a day was also so vital in my recovery.

Blogging acts like a safety mechanism. If I can write I am well. It gives me a focus, and of course if people are enjoying my mutterings that is an absolute bonus. So now that I have rather bared my soul, perhaps i’ll share the posts that I have enjoyed writing over the last 18 months or so. Please share with me the ones you have liked.

Opening my almost daily post must be rather like opening a box of chocolates- you never quite know what you’ll get. It’s a bit of an eclectic mix. I often conjure up topics to write about whilst i’m out walking RLR Dog. I always carry my camera, a Smart Phone hasn’t quite entered my world yet. The posts that I treasure are generally the ones that are very personal to me. I have the hope that they are records of ancestry or moments in history that my children and their offspring can retrieve in cyberspace forever more. To this end, The Day I Met A Holocaust Survivor (Jan 28th 2015) is probably one of the posts of which I am most proud, as I finally made time to write about a never to be forgotten meeting. Before very long there will be no Holocaust survivors left (or for that matter their captors). It is vital therefore to capitalise on first hand accounts to pass down to future generations.

Another poignant post special to me is Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium (April 15th 2015). I wrote this post as a result of reading a batch of WW1 postcards from my great uncles and aunt serving in France and Gallipoli to their young sister. My grandmother Emily was in a Scottish sanitorium suffering from TB.

On a lighter note Rocking Dog food posts seem to have been popular, Iced Fabulous Flamingo’s Strutting Their Stuff (May 8th 2015) certainly tested my sugar craft skills! There have been lots of sewing makes along the way, quilts, crooked hearts, stockings etc.. etc.. I always love a Something From Nothing (July 3rd 2015) project be it sewing or wrapping a present, Rocking Dog Loves Manuscript Paper (Nov 16th 2015)

Travels have bought great excuses to share the experience. Sometimes you do not need to travel far to appreciate a new landscape and new micro-culture. If You’re Fond Of Sand Dunes…(April 27th 2015) and Weekend Postcard From Devon (June 29th 2015) were really enjoyable breaks. Further afield, my favourite ever blog photo’s have to be the ones posted for Arriverderci Italy- Missing You Too Much Already (Nov 12th 2015). Sometimes a day trip can feel like a holiday and this was certainly the case when I headed to my first ever Chelsea Flower Show (May 22nd 2015). I ADORED It.

Christmas always gives me plenty to gas about and there are a whole host of posts to chose from, perhaps this one sums me up…A Little Reminder From Toby & Mrs Mac

It’s great to daydream about a move to a lobster shack by the sea (and yes there really was an idyllic one to buy), but I do love My Bristol- Honest It’s A Great City (March 30th 2015) and I do love my crumbly old house –Rocking Dog Home Making Tips (March 5th 2015). So a year from now i’ll probably still be muttering on, still one finger typing and the Russian Velvet walls won’t have changed.

I still don’t quite “get” inviting friends, or sharing or retweeting or encouraging followers etc.. so I sincerely hope I haven’t made anyone feel abandoned. A blogging entrepreneur I will never be, but hopefully a semi-sane blogger with fingers crossed something interesting to chatter on about.

Thank You again, and I hope you’ll continue dipping in and out of Rocking Dog in the months ahead

Love Liz x

Heartfelt, Rocking Dog

Heartfelt

Therapeutic Dog, Rocking Dog

Therapeutic Dog

My Bristol, Rocking Dog

My Bristol

It's A Wrap!, Rocking Dog

It’s A Wrap!

Chelsea Holiday, Rocking Dog

Chelsea Holiday

Home & Away, Rocking Dog

Home & Away

Home Making, Rocking Dog

Home Making

Christmas Stash, Rocking Dog

Christmas Stash

Fave Photo, Rocking Dog

Fave Photo

Gatecrashing A Lads Trip To Auld Reekie!

Edinburgh Airport Giant Thistle, Rocking Dog

Edinburgh Airport Giant Thistle

I took the early morning flight yesterday to Auld Reekie with Andyman and the boy, what a gatecrasher I am! Auld Reekie is of course an affectionate name for the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Thankfully, with the Clean Air Act the city no longer really deserves the Auld Reekie title. It literally means “Old Smokey” and harks back to a time when the population of Edinburgh were tightly crammed into a dense area lining the Royal Mile. Fires for heating and cooking would create a choking smog. The Reekie could also pertain to the habit of buckets of human excrement/dirty water being thrown out of windows and doors. The foul effluent would run down the street and into N’or Loch (North Lake). On a warm day the pungent fumes would rise up and add to the smokey smog. This open sewer would in addition sometimes be used for the practice of witch dunking. In the 16th & 17th century suspected witches would be tried by dunking them in water. If innocent they would sink and if guilty, float!

Anyway enough of this unpleasantness! I had a wonderful time in Edinburgh and the weather was by all accounts much more affable than Tuesday in Bristol. The boys travelled north for a final fitting of kilt jackets and waistcoats for the wedding. Very smart. Scottish dress allows so much choice that it ends up feeling like a very bloated Chinese restaurant menu! Tartans, sock colour, tie colour, sporran type, etc… etc… So many brain boggling decisions to make.

After an hour or two of talking tartan and ties I decided to go off piste and let the boys try and figure things out. I headed for my favourite haunt “Ragamuffin”. Lovely clothes, wools, and accessories. The colours and textures are almost edible. I came out with a bag containing a dress which could be a wedding contender. I better get on and make my coat… time is rattling away.

I then headed to Victoria Street, where my Great Grandfather, Robert Cresser had a brush shop. Now very much a boys toys emporium, it still has some of the original fittings which graced the shop when it was established in 1873. My dad used to go and watch the brushes being made upstairs in the shop. I feel so nostalgic about my Scottish heritage and this beautiful historic street.

From No 40, Victoria Street I headed off to reacquaint myself with Greyfriars Bobby, but that’s a story for another day! I had a great stroll around the Greyfriars Kirkyard close by. Truly amazing tombs and inscriptions. I certainly wouldn’t like to be there when darkness falls, i’m sure it would be incredibly eerie.

I did a little browsing in Princes Street and parallel roads before meeting the boys. The sparkly new and efficient tram took us to the airport. It was time to say goodbye to this glorious city, sometimes known as the Athens of the North.

If you haven’t ever been to Edinburgh here in a nutshell is some of it’s great credentials. It has the trams to take you directly from the airport to the centre of town in 1/2 an hour (£8 return). If travelling by train, Waverley station is located literally on Princes Street. It is a city of amazing buildings, statues, galleries, eateries and shops. There is also the famous castle and of course in August the city hosts its amazing Tattoo and Festival. And….contrary to common belief it doesn’t always rain in Scotland!

I enjoyed gatecrashing, but so wish the gatecrashing had lasted longer.

Favourite Haunt!, Rocking Dog

Favourite Haunt!

Linens & Silks, Rocking Dog

Linens & Silks

Embellished Wall, Rocking Dog

Embellished Wall

The Fair City, Rocking Dog

The Fair City

Gt Grandfather's Footsteps, Rocking Dog

Gt Grandfather’s Footsteps

Gt Grandfather Cresser, Rocking Dog

Gt Grandfather Cresser

Curiosity Cabinet, Rocking Dog

Curiosity Cabinet

Then......, Rocking Dog

Then…….

& Now, Rocking Dog

& Now

Hold On- Burn Your Food But Not Your Recipes!

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Sausage Spaghetti Anyone?

It would be great if you didn’t burn your food either.. but hang onto your recipes! My plea follows a conversation with my octogenarian neighbour who happened to mention that she put all her recipes on a bonfire a long time ago. Now she truly regrets her pyrotechnic moment of madness. She realises that gone are the recipes of her Kent childhood, recipes that made food stretch that little bit further during the years of rationing and recipes that she used to feed her own three strapping lads.

Teaching Food Technology in a secondary school was an eye opener for me to find that books and magazines weren’t trawled for recipes. The internet was the place of choice to retrieve inspiration, You Tube instruction and ingredient shopping lists. It was all rather Sci-Fi to me, old dinosaur that I am! I remember thinking how sad it was that in years to come there would be no paper trail. So no food splattered magazine cuttings, no scribbled recipes on used envelopes, no ancestoral handwriting, in short no written culinary legacy.

Anyone who has been a long suffering reader of my blog will know that one of my ongoing projects is the task of deciphering a recipe book, beautifully handwritten in 1846. It is one of those things i’d want to save in a fire. It is not a piece of my own families social history, indeed it was a lucky find in a charity shop. It gives the reader a wonderful glimpse of recipes cooked up in early Victorian England. There are many secrets that I feel are yet to be unlocked as I transcribe the 141 pages. This is a cook in a well to do household whilst it is poignant to ponder on the fact that the Great Irish Famine and Highland Potato Famine were happening. The lucky would escape starvation and start new lives in America whilst many of those left behind would face a life of abject poverty, disease and death.

My 1846 recipe scriber wrote neatly in ink, whilst another recipe book I more recently acquired (£3 at a church sale in Bridport) is much less legible. Written quite erratically in pencil, the writer obviously had a sweet tooth. Daily Pudding, Caramel Walnuts, Almond Rock and Marzipan all feature. I have no idea how old this little black book is, but there may be clue. The writer obviously wanted to buy a book, and the title is scribbled in her best scribble! A Little Book Of Sweetmeat Making For Pleasure And Profit by Dora Luck which was published in 1907. Perhaps I have a confectioners recipe book, can’t you just visualise the glass jars filled with sugary toffee teacakes, humbugs, bon-bons and wrapped caramels! Paper poke bags, crisp white aproned shop staff, polished counter and brass cash register complete the scene.

Lastly I have “borrowed” my Mother in Law’s recipe collection. Tucked into a Lofty Peak Flour recipe book there are type written recipes for Cherry & Ginger Loaf, Banana Bread and Fruit Cake. Alas, there is not much reverence shown to these poor recipes for there are handwritten scribbles for letters to be written, bills to be paid and phone numbers to ring. There are hand written recipes for scones, mince beef loaf and a rather bizarre recipe for Chinese Salad.

This Chinese Salad involves putting some chopped onions and cooking apples in a casserole dish. Then comes a sprinkling of sugar. A layer of tomatoes (tinned or fresh I do not know) sausage meat, cheese and finally breadcrumbs. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes. Yum! I have no idea what the Chinese connection is, and while we are about it there’s nothing salady about it either, maybe i’m missing something! Interestingly the same writer (not my mother in law’s writing I must add) also writes a delicious (!) Sausage Spaghetti recipe. Sausages, tinned spaghetti and tomatoes are put in a casserole dish before beaten egg is poured on top to give an omlette’y layer! Worryingly there are two recipes for this sausage spaghetti. Perhaps mother in law mislaid first recipe and asked for a replacement from the culinary genius friend!

This week I have given my recipe file a good cull and sort. It’s not pretty like the 1846 book, but is functional and I am very pleased to say there are absolutely no recipes for Sausage Spaghetti!

Remember to ask elderly relatives for their recipes before they bin them. As ready meals, meals on wheels, Wiltshire Farm Foods and the like beckon they may not feel the need to hold onto recipes or ancient recipe books. A bit of family social history lost forever.

Wishing you a lovely weekend and I hope your stove will be busy cooking up something warming and delicious.

PS Kids, Granny doesn’t know I have borrowed her recipe trove. Shhh! Mum’s the word!

Culled & Sorted, Rocking Dog

Culled & Sorted

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!, Rocking Dog

Ongoing 1846 Deciphering!

Culinary Hieroglyphics, Rocking Dog

Culinary Hieroglyphics