Category Archives: Home And Garden

Yay! Well Hello May. The Year Is Simply Galloping By.

May Blooms. Douglas In Amongst The Pretty Weeds!,Rocking Dog

May Blooms. Douglas In Amongst The Pretty Weeds!

I know, my posts are evermore sporadic, whatever happened to my daily Rocking Dog blogs of times gone by?! Perhaps it’s because sometimes it’s too difficult to blog speak, a falling out of like (for I never did love) with Facebook, a busy life and well …does it really matter if I don’t blog. Nearing 450 posts is it time to hang up my blogging finger I wonder. However I am not going to be gloomy, let’s celebrate the month of May. How wonderful the blossom is this spring, skies are blue and birdsong increasingly deliciously evident.

There have been plenty of opportunities to get out and about in the last couple of weeks. Recently we hosted a German creative, Bea Winkel. Bea is on a years stay in the UK, mainly cat sitting whilst staying in peoples homes around the country. OK, we don’t have a cat but I thought it would be good to host a stranger. For four days we talked Angela Merkel, Brexit, healthcare, old age, food and lots more besides. I also showed Bea a diverse Bristol. There was the harbour with its shipping container eateries (can recommend Sholay Indian Kitchen), the SS Great Britain, and Swoon for the most divine ice cream. Less touristy, we did St Werburgh’s City Farm and Feed Bristol. There was a trip to beautiful quintessentially English Tetbury and some good walks with Real Live Rocking Dog. On one walk we dropped RLRD at Sam’s Woof Wash for a radical haircut (can heartily recommend Sam for all your… oops your dogs pampering needs). Bea also accompanied me to see my lovely neighbour who was having a spot of respite at a swish and expensive care facility. In Germany if an elderly family member can’t fund their own care their children are legally obliged to fund the care. One of the highlights of Bea’s visit was a drop in to one of my favourite houses in Hambrook, it’s like a mini stately home and has the most hospitable and gorgeous owners. Apart from the interesting chat we loved the friendly hen eating grapes on the window sill! We spent one morning discussing Bea’s colouring/recipe pages which encourage children to eat a diverse range of fruit and vegetables. It’s an interesting concept. I however feel I rather burst Bea’s balloon when I told her that the average Brit’ does not eat pumpkin. Pumpkins are for lanterns and the pulpy unloved flesh gets thrown away in most households. I then rather guiltily said that my first taste of pumpkin was when I was 40 and visiting New Zealand. It was served in roasted wedges and was rather delicious! After four days it was time for Bea to head off to her next feline stop in Leeds. It was an interesting four days and I look forward to seeing her “take” on Bristol on a future colouring page.

Beds were stripped and there was a quick turnaround with Sorrel, Pete and little Douglas coming to stay. There was time to photograph beloved boy in the sunshine and amongst the flowers. It’s true what they say, never work with children or animals, they never stay in the same place for long! Doug’ definitely wanted to remove himself from my weedy albeit pretty patch! We celebrated a first birthday with the two extended families and friends. There was cake, lots of pies, fizz, millions of cups of tea and a lovely busy little children. It was fun especially as Doug’ loves a good Mexican Wave!

The weekend came to an end, there was a mad cleaning blitz and admin’ tasks on Monday. Meanwhile Tuesday arrived spectacularly sunny. It was time to put on some walking boots and head out with a friend on a route chosen by her (we democratically take it in turns). This walk took us around the Tortworth Estate, Gloucestershire and its piece de resistance is the Tortworth Chestnut which claims to be one of the oldest trees in the country. What a lovely walk, and again so quintessentially English. There was a sweep of verdant green meadowland, trees cloaked in blossom and a church which could so easily be the setting for a Pride and Prejudice wedding. Beside the church we examined the Tortworth Chestnut. It’s not the prettiest tree I grant you, but it had the most beautiful inscribed plaque on a latched wooden gate.

This Tree supposed to be six hundred years old
1st January 1800
May Man still Guard thy Venerable Form
From the Rude Blasts and Tempestuous Storm
Still mayest thou Flourish through Succeeding Time
And Last, Long Last the Wonder of the Clime

This questionably old tree was selected in 2002 by the Tree Council as one of fifty Great British trees to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Tree marvelled at, we completed our walk and enjoyed lunch in the Tortworth Estate farm shop cafe. It was great to blow away the cobwebs and walk 13,000 steps! Thanks Karen.

It’s hard having been nice for two entire weeks so the remainder of the week I have been quiet. My deafness has returned and it feels as if I am in a giant zorb! It’s exhausting and frustrating to be in social situations even though I think i’ve perfected lip reading! The tv is too loud for any other human beings and i’m sure The Archers at full pelt is unbearably unpleasant! I have used this anti-social time to continue researching “my” soldiers for “The Remember Me Project” and have made good progress on the spring quilt for youngest daughter. The planning of the bathroom is still work in progress, but today we received a video of our copper bateau bath made and now awaiting polishing and its nickel lining. We may have the work done by Christmas!

Next week there’s a blind waiting to be made for a little grandchild’s room (we don’t know what variety it is) who is due to put in an appearance in the next couple of weeks. Exciting times!

So, the bank holiday weekend beckons with the promise of wonderful sunshine. Whatever you are doing I hope it’s lovely, spent with family and friends whilst eating delicious things. Monday for me will be a walk to the Winterbourne Down Village Carnival (listen out for the bagpipers and drummers) and then onto Redland May Fair. What treasures await I wonder!

Love Rocking Dog aka Liz x

Frank Sinatra Hat!,Rocking Dog

Frank Sinatra Hat!

Last Year,Rocking Dog

Last Year

Cake To Celebrate,Rocking Dog

Cake To Celebrate

Brunel's Masterpiece,Rocking Dog

Brunel’s Masterpiece

Feed Bristol,Rocking Dog

Feed Bristol

Eat Pumpkin!,Rocking Dog

Eat Pumpkin!

That Old Chestnut!,Rocking Dog

That Old Chestnut!

New Blossom,Rocking Dog

New Blossom

Spring Quilt,Rocking Dog

Spring Quilt

Research Continues,Rocking Dog

Research Continues

That Old Chestnut!,Rocking Dog

That Old Chestnut!

Yay! It's Redland Fair,Rocking Dog

Yay! It’s Redland Fair

Let’s Try Again! The Rocking Dog Huddle This Wednesday.

Oh You Pretty Things,Rocking Dog

Oh You Pretty Things

For many reasons including heavy snow (sorry, ANY excuse for that link!) the Rocking Dog creative Huddle has not managed to well…. huddle this year. This Wednesday come hail, blizzards and tornado’s the doors of the kennel will be open. Gentle chat, creative bimbling, cake eating and a glass of bubbly awaits huddlers old and new to celebrate the new, now old year! Arrive at 7pm and head out into the snow drifts at 9pm. As ever donations go into the jolly tea pot for “Fine Cell Work” a great charity who teach and support prison inmates to embroider and sew.

Knitting, crocheting, sewing, just bring what you fancy. How about letting out, taking in (I wish!), hemming, pinning and patching. Make do and mend by keeping the skill of darning from disappearing. How much i’d covet a piece of Celia Pym’s darned loveliness! If you come empty handed don’t despair. If you are amenable, I have a quilt in need of about 100 vintage buttons to be securely anchored to it.

I do hope you will come, I can’t promise we won’t talk politics, sex or religion, but whatever the conversation it will be fun.

Love the everso friendly Rocking Dog x

I'm Quite Friendly!,Rocking Dog

I’m Quite Friendly!

There's Always Cake,Rocking Dog

There’s Always Cake

Knit....Rocking Dog

Knit….

....Sew.....,Rocking Dog

….Sew…..

Make Do & Mend!, Rocking Dog

Make Do & Mend!

Button Volunteers Needed!,Rocking Dog

Button Volunteers Needed!

Gosh! It’s Been A While.

Setting The Scene,Rocking Dog

Setting The Scene

Gosh! It REALLY has been a while since Rocking Dog blogged. We have been fortunate in having the opportunity to spend an extended break in Umbria. The beauty of having super quick wifi is that work things can be dealt with across the miles.

We started our trip with visiting more cemeteries for The Remember Me Project. By the end of our break a total of 38 poppies had been laid in near enough the same amount of cemeteries across France and Belgium. This figure includes the cemeteries visited in October last year. A dedicated post regarding my latest poppy laying trip will pop up on the Rocking Dog site in the next few days.

Eventually we left the Somme and headed close to the Swiss border for an overnight stop. The spectacular trip through Switzerland followed and finally after a bit of white knuckle driving through northern Italy we reached Umbria. The sun doesn’t always shine in Italy. We had rain, we had wind, there was the cold and the odd luxurious sunny day. Most nights we were grateful for the newly installed wood burning stove. With temperatures hitting in excess of 40 degrees in the summer affecting grape and olive harvests the Umbrian folk have now had to endure an uncharacteristically cold winter. Thick snow and temperatures dropping well into the minus’s, they have needed their famous down filled puffa jackets!

In November we had grass seed sown but unfortunately it has shown no desire to germinate and grow. The sowing will be repeated next week and hopefully with the warmth of an Italian spring we will soon have verdant green pasture. Fingers crossed! It is too early to tell whether there will be a good harvest of olives late October, but we are ever hopeful. We love the whole process of producing olive oil from our trees. There were weather weary shrubs to replace and new herbs to dig in, there were 15 barrow loads of pruning to put on the bonfire and jolly geraniums to pot up. Constructive time spent outside.

I was sad to have lost a very lovely friend somewhat unexpectedly and did lots of contemplative walking and lots of contemplative sewing. It’s taken so much of my life to realise that sewing really does soothe my sad soul. Beloved Bernina really is truly therapeutic. Can I ask what soothes your soul?

Flying back to Bristol for my friends Celebration of Life service, Andy was left to host ancestors of the farmhouse we now own a tiny part of. From New York, they were apparently lovely and really enthusiastic about the area and their kinfolks former home. We hope they’ll return and stop for longer next time. I’m sure they are going to be pretty busy as they have sold their home and are converting an old yellow school bus for a unique mobile home.

As ever there was gorgeous food to eat, starry skies to be amazed by and the odd Aperol Spritz to partake in by the lake. It is often the most simple things that give the most pleasure. I love the ancient olive tree just outside one of our bedroom windows. As dawn arrives, the tree fills with chirpy and busy little birds. They enjoy the olives which escaped the rakes of the late autumn harvesting. Such a perfect view and I absolutely know that we are truly lucky.

Back in UK there are sewing projects to finish, ongoing research for The Remember Me Project and a job to apply for. The garden of the damp woodland variety needs to be tackled and the dusty, crumbly house needs to be dealt with. Friends need to be loved and cared for, and the nest got ready for another little grandchild. Volunteering for Young Carer’s will restart and yes, there are really lovely things to come home for … just not the dusting!

Hope you have a good week. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Many thanks to Cliff at the British Legion, Frampton Cotterell for the box of poppy crosses. The box is sadly empty- each cross represented one young local soldier who fell or who died of wounds during the Great War.

Roman Rugby,Rocking Dog

Roman Rugby

Letting In The Sun,Rocking Dog

Letting In The Sun

Contemplative Walking,Rocking Dog

Contemplative Walking

Choppy Lake,Rocking Dog

Choppy Lake

Calm Lake,Rocking Dog

Calm Lake

Social Lake,Rocking Dog

Social Lake

Cake,Rocking Dog

Cake

Pasta....,Rocking Dog

Pasta….

& Projects,Rocking Dog

& Projects

 

Snow, Cake, Siena & Unexpected DNA!

Gilded Siena,Rocking Dog

Gilded Siena

Sorry it’s been so long since Rocking Dog signed on. A week of coughing and the lack of sleep that came with that didn’t really make me feel much like talking either verbally or in the form of written words. At one point I looked across at Real Live Rocking Dog and thought “boy, your breathing’s a bit laboured” however after a while I realised it was indeed me that was the one breathing heavily!

Before Cough (BC) Andyman together with youngest daughter headed out to Umbria for a very cheeky little break. Though cold, the valley was embellished with the dazzling spectacle that is Mimosa. Birds were busily enjoying the olives that had escaped the olive oil bottle and the countryside as ever looked verdantly beautiful. The following morning Liv’ and I planned to head to Rome. We awoke to snow and the hills looked as if they had been magically dusted with icing sugar. It really was quite surreal seeing olive trees with a cloak of snow, especially with robins in residence!

Alas our train to Rome was cancelled so we decided to take the next available bus or train to destination unknown. We ended up on a bus heading to the beautiful city of Siena. The warm bus wiggled through snow covered medieval hilltop towns and past vineyards, ploughed fields and olive groves. In just over an hour we arrived at the bottom of the city. In years gone by these Italian hilltop towns would have needed an arduous and lengthy walk to reach their summits. Recently most cities have become inventive with their transport plans and there are lifts, escalators, funiculars and the like. On this occasion we used a series of steep escalators to reach the architectural delights of Siena. We had a really gorgeous time simply wandering. The Palio where the famous bareback horse races takes place annually (July 2nd and Aug 16th 2018) was joyfully devoid of the throb of summer tourists. If you are in Siena at any point the Complex of Santa Maria della Scala is worth a visit. It houses several museums and is the site of one of Europe’s first hospitals. The frescoes were wonderful and I loved the thought that patients had such amazing art to gaze at from their beds.  I particularly loved the starry ceiling in the First Aid Room.

Cake, delicious wine, pasta, wood fired pizza and friendly folk made this whistle-stop trip to Umbria and Tuscany very pleasurable.

After Cough (AC)- it’s been difficult trying to shake off this irritable ailment. Real Live Rocking Dog has not been loving the snow so like me has been enjoying curling up beside the wood-burner. Trying to do something slightly constructive I baked a cake using new season Rhubarb from the garden, delicious! There have been bathroom planning decisions to be made, and cupboards to de-hoard. I have been contemplating cutting the fabric for my new summer coat… maybe this week. Pattern matching, I can’t decide whether it’s a pleasurable challenge or acutely sadistically stressful!

There have also been soldiers to research ready for our return to the Commonwealth War Cemeteries in France later this month. This week there will be poppy crosses to collect and route planning to organise. Eighteen soldiers graves/memorials will be visited in fifteen different cemeteries over the course of two days. Our travels will take us to Dieppe and Rouen before heading up to a cluster of cemeteries on the Somme. There is a solitary cemetery to visit just East of Paris where we will pay our respects to a soldier whose family lived in a house where really good friends of ours now live. On our route home we will head to the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres where we will lay our last poppy cross in France. Together with the cemeteries we are hoping to visit some manmade caves under a church at Bouzincourt. During a Time Team episode in 2010 some WW1 graffiti was discovered. One name belongs to a soldier, Alfred Flux who lived in our village. Alfred wrote his name and details onto into the stone in 1916. Serving with the Royal Field Artillery he was to later die in March 1918. Having no known grave he is commemorated at Pozieres. On our return home there will be the lengthy job of collating all the information and archiving photographs.

Now for the DNA news. As you may already know my girls thoughtfully bought me an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas. In January I sent off my phial of spit and waited patiently. I received an e.mail whilst in the supermarket on Wednesday telling me my results were in. Mother in Law promptly posted home with her bags of cakes, drive home done, bags dropped on the kitchen table, computer turned on…let the show begin!  The results were given in the form of a wheel of cheese and imagine my surprise that the largest percentage of my DNA is Scandinavian! Not a whiff of the French Huegenots that I expected. Roughly a quarter of the cheese wheel was Northern English and another quarter paid homage to my Celtic roots (Irish/Welsh Scottish). I always suspected I had red and white gingham running through my veins! The only slightly sad bit of this is that because my Mum and Dad are both dead I can’t ascertain easily who was the Viking in the family. Was it my Dad who was Scottish or my Mums long line Yorkshire family? Anyway I am loving being Scandi’ and there’s even an 8% wedge of Iberian Peninsula in there for good measure!

Anyway I must away now I have got to put the Elk Casserole on and get fitted for my Scandinavian traditional costume!

Have a great week and I hope the big thaw is well underway wherever you are. Stay cosy!

Liz aka Rocking Dog x

Before The Snow,Rocking Dog

Before The Snow

First Aid Room,Rocking Dog

First Aid Room

Coffee & Cake,Rocking Dog

Coffee & Cake

Snow & Metal,Rocking Dog

Snow & Metal

Snow Patrol,Rocking Dog

Snow Patrol

Monochrome Morning,Rocking Dog

Monochrome Morning

Stockholm,Rocking Dog

Stockholm

Penchant For Gingham!, Rocking Dog

Penchant For Gingham!

Scandi' Inspired Creativity,Rocking Dog

Scandi’ Inspired Creativity

Bake A Cake,Rocking Dog

Bake A Cake

Sew A New Coat,Rocking Dog

Sew A New Coat

Next Trip,Rocking Dog

Next Trip

Enjoying A Bit Of Baking On A Lazy Sunday Morning

Sweet Infusion,Rocking Dog

Sweet Infusion

I hope the weekend was enjoyable and that you were able to stay snug! My weekend was one filled with lots of bits and pieces. I started on a Roman blind for the kitchen (I thought it was about time I made something for myself!), I looked for a new bathroom and nipped into see a friend. There was also an afternoon tidying the garden whilst coping with a prolonged hail storm. Poor Real Live Rocking Dog decided he did NOT like hail!

However, on Sunday morning it was all about a gentle spot of baking. I cooked another recipe from “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. The latest sugary concoction was a Chocolate tart with hazelnut, rosemary and orange. Quite unusual for me I didn’t “go off piste” and followed the recipe almost to the T. Saying that I didn’t have enough hazelnuts for the praline/brittle so made up the shortfall with almonds and pistachio’s. I also chose to make the pastry by hand rather than in the processor. I’m sorry but pastry done with light handling cannot be surpassed by a swanky machine!

Pastry made, Rosemary sprigs brushed with egg white and dusted with sugar, cream infused, it was all gently enjoyable. I loved how the praline/brittle was approached in this recipe. Praline can be notoriously difficult and you can land up with a sugar crystal’y nutty heap. This brittle was made by placing the syrups and sugar into a pan, heating until the sugar dissolved and then transferring it into a lined baking tin to bake for 7 minutes.

With all the preparation done for the tart and The Archer’s sadly at an end I headed out into the garden.

With leaves gathered, steps brushed, little wild violets marvelled at, it was time for a bath and the return to my baking.

Whilst the tart was blind baking I melted chocolate, made a sabayon (egg yolks and sugar), chopped my brittle and read my recipe! The crisp tart base was given a layer of chopped nut brittle and awaited its chocolatey cloak. The chocolate, sabayon and strained cream were folded together and spooned into the tart case and baked for 12 minutes or so.

After cooling, the tart was given a generous dusting of cocoa and embellished with shards of brittle and the crystallised rosemary sprigs. I’m sorry about the finished picture, it honestly looked better in real life.

It was DELICIOUS! I LOVE Yotam, but then I think you already know that.

I hope you have a good week and stay cosy!

Love Rocking Dog x

Read The Recipe,Rocking Dog

Read The Recipe

Handle Carefully,Rocking Dog

Handle Carefully

Blind Bake,Rocking Dog

Blind Bake

Crystallise Rosemary,Rocking Dog

Crystallise Rosemary

Praline For Idiots!,Rocking Dog

Praline For Idiots!

All Dressed Up & Ready To Go!,Rocking Dog

All Dressed Up & Ready To Go!

First Rocking Dog Creative Huddle 2018

Sewing Kit,Rocking Dog

Sewing Kit

Yes, the first Rocking Dog creative huddle for 2018 reconvenes at the kennel tomorrow night ( Wednesday 31st January). Come for homemade cake, warming drinks and creative loveliness. Escape from the grey damp winter outside and perhaps complete any unfinished project. My Kaffe Fassett needlepoint which has been on its frame for the best part of 20 years still awaits me! All welcome, 7pm-9pm.

Donations into the jolly teapot for Fine Cell Work, supporting and encouraging prison inmates to sew and embroider. Please check out their fabulous website.

Rocking Dog is pretty good tempered (most of the time), is eager to please and does not bite!

Look forward to seeing you. Love Liz aka Rocking Dog x

Food For Friends – Ottolenghi Style.

Ottolenghi's Sweet Offering, Rocking Dog

Ottolenghi’s Sweet Offering

After cooking for 160 Haggis eating folk last weekend it was lovely cook for friends this weekend. How very wonderful it was to have my lovely friend sitting at our table, at last able to eat and enjoy food. Her journey is truly remarkable.

On Saturday evening there were decisions to be made as to just what to cook for our guests. I’m afraid dear old Ottolenghi’s tomes came out…. but I did try some new recipes as well as some old favourites.

There was hummus from “Jerusalem” together with Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio’s & mixed herbs. I substituted currants and goji berries for the barberries and totally forgot to put the pistachio’s in! I also did a Spicy beetroot, leek and walnut salad from “Jerusalem”. Very delicious.

Ottolenghi’s first recipe book (“The Cookbook”) supplied me with the main event, Harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad. There was also a citrus’y sauce to go with the chicken. Time didn’t allow me to make flatbreads, so shop bought versions were given a flash in the oven.

Dessert was Pistachio roulade with raspberries and white chocolate and this recipe came from Ottolenghi’s latest book “Sweet” which he co-wrote with Helen Goh.

All food for this lunch was easy to prepare and cook…. and tasted yummy! If you haven’t tried the hummus, it really is the best i’ve ever tasted and can be tweaked with addition of fresh herbs, a topping of crisply fried onions or toasted pine-nuts.

We drank a lovely red and delighted in the warmth of the wood-burner. However more than anything it was so lovely to share food with amazing friends.

Hallelujah Burn’s Night is over for another year! Andyman has been busy piping and being vocal with the Selkirk Grace over a number of evenings this week. I haven’t done my usual little bit of silliness with the Toby jug folk, so I hope you’ll allow me now to be just a little bit nutty to bring Burn’s celebrations to a close. If you haven’t already met my Toby jug folk there’s tankard swigging Toby who’s just a little bit grumpy and gouty. Then there is Mrs Mac who REALLY is a present from Fleetwood. Toby and Mrs Mac were bought on the same day in different charity shops. Their joining was simply meant to be. Living a peaceful and happy life with no doubt some shenanigan’s when the lights went out there was a fateful day when Wee Tam’ came to join them on THEIR mantlepiece. Mrs Mac is really superciliously fickle and shamelessly has a soft spot for a man in a wee kilt… a menage a trois has developed. What goes on after dark is anybodies guess, but we need to remember Real Live Rocking Dog slumbers there as does Luminous Mary! Enough of this super-silly twaddle, all that 36 kg haggis has gone to my brain!

Have a lovely week.

Love Rocking Dog x

The Rocking Dog Creative Huddle reconvenes this Wednesday 7pm-9pm, all welcome. Over £100 was raised last year for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider. Thank you. Donations into the teapot to carry on the work of this amazing charity. Homemade cake, warming drinks, gentle chat and maybe a bit of sewing etc… going on!

The Best Hummus,Rocking Dog

The Best Hummus

Gift Wrap Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Gift Wrap Beetroot

Unwrapped Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Unwrapped Beetroot

Pomegranate Garnish, Rocking Dog

Pomegranate Garnish

Gorgeous Grains,Rocking Dog

Gorgeous Grains

The Main Event,Rocking Dog

The Main Event

Something Sweet On The Lips!,Rocking Dog

Something Sweet On The Lips!

Nuts For Dessert,Rocking Dog

Nuts For Dessert

Goodbye Burn's Night!,Rocking Dog

Goodbye Burn’s Night!

Gosh It’s Been A While. Happy New Year!

 

Come & Sit At The Table,Rocking Dog

Come & Sit At The Table

It’s been a long old time since Rocking Dog signed in. Christmas has hurtled in and whistled out. New Year was celebrated very merrily on foreign shores and now 2018 has begun in earnest. So where do I begin as the famous song goes?!

Perhaps it’s just best to firstly wish all who are reading this a very, very happy 2018. I hope this shiny bright year brings lots of joys, challenges, good health and wonderful times spent with friends and family. Having just spent eleven days or so with friends in Umbria there isn’t anything quite so lovely as having nurturing friends who enjoy caring for each other, noticing when a glass needs topping up (!) and sharing wonderful plates of food and lively conversation. Andy and I feel very blessed.

It has been amazing how many folk have said to me how quickly 2017 came and went. So how do we make a year feel as if it actually lasts twelve months? Perhaps not allowing Christmas to filtrate shops in September might be a positive start! Setting goals and learning new things, visiting new places, and rather than saying “we must get together sometime”, just let’s do it, perhaps they’ll all help extend our perception of a year well spent.

I have one or two things penned on the calendar which I am looking forward to and perhaps one that fills me with apprehension! There are 24 massive Haggi to tussle with a week on Saturday. I am using my long drive brain tactics… if I don’t think about the drive- or in this case the 160 mouths to feed I am ok! Breathe, breathe, breathe Rocking Dog! After hopefully coming through the Rockpipes Burn’s Night in one piece I can then look forward to a workshop with a hero (sadly it’s a bit un-PC to say heroine) of mine. The artist Julie Arkell is running a sewing workshop and i’m debating whether to wear ALL my papier mache brooches and the watch made by her! I think i’ll leave off the one that alas has been the victim of a vicious wash cycle on two occasions. Sooooo sad.

Rather conveniently I have put to the back of my mind a social media day next week. I’m going to be queen of the tweets, retweets and insta’s by all accounts! I have felt a sense of inertia about blogging recently, apparently instagram is the way to go. I post a photo of scaffolding and get “followed” by a construction worker from Tehran, it’s a whole new world. Umbria saw me post one photo a day on instagram. It was rather liberating not thinking about what to write for a blog and just to seize the moment with a snap of a nativity, stunning view, plate of spaghetti etc… However, here I am writing.. and then I remember that I write so much of the time for myself. A few years ago I had a fairly crippling bout of depression which left me pretty much incapable of holding a pen, let alone writing. Many of you will know that if I can write I am doing just fine.

It seems a bit late to look back on the year that was. It was certainly a bit of a roller coaster! Lovely bits were the arrival of Doug’ and what a privilege it was to be in the delivery room to see my new grandson emerge. It has been gorgeous to witness Doug’s doting parents nurture him. I just wish I could take away some of their tiredness! There is another little baby due in May and i’m sure Alex and Kylie will be fabulous parents too. Exciting times.

We have had great times in Umbria in 2017 and have enjoyed sharing our tiny piece of paradise with friends, family and rental folk. Olives have been picked, hill top towns scaled, wood burner installed, stars gazed at, the cool of the pool gloried and the peace truly adored. I really do pinch myself, so very lucky.

Also on a positive note Andyman’s corporate legal case finally came to a conclusion. Basta, basta adesso! (Enough, enough now!) It’s all been pretty tedious, long winded and rubbish. Where’s Judge Rinder when you need him?!

Lastly I have immense admiration for so many friends and family who are travelling very unpredictable roads regarding health, relationships and difficult work situations. You are all SO amazing and thanks must go to the wonderful NHS staff, carers, and charity organisations together with the support of unstinting friends and family members.  Wishing all who have mountains to climb and rivers to cross a very fruitful and happy 2018. You know where we are, and I hope you’ll come and eat at our table very soon.

Globally, blogs generally may be read less, with likes, comments, re-posts dropping off the radar but I do hope i’ll hang on in there during 2018. I’m sure there’ll be interesting things to say, lovely pic’s and creative inspiration, together with lots of moans and groans from someone who would like to be thirty again!

Wishing you all a truly wonderful 2018 and thank you for being with me on the Rocking Dog adventure!

Have a great weekend.

Liz x

 

Field Full Of Flowers,Rocking Dog

Field Full Of Flowers

Paradiso,Rocking Dog

Paradiso

Siblings,Rocking Dog

Siblings

Sporrans At The Ready!,Rocking Dog

Sporrans At The Ready!

Off To New Places, Rocking Dog

Off To New Places

Arkell Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Arkell Inspiration

Happy Christmas One & All

A little Piece Of Calm In A Mad World!,Rocking Dog

A little Piece Of Calm In A Mad World!

Sorry I have been quiet. In real life I have been anything but! It’s been like racing around on a super charged Scalextric set. What a race it’s been, with 30 dozen mince pies baked, collected and delivered. A festive Rocking Dog Pop Up whizzed quickly in and out of the kennel, many thanks to all who came (an amazing £200 was raised for Young Carer’s). There have been presents to wrap, covert projects to complete, a shed load of shopping, and frankly little time to breathe. I want to slumber in a sparkly castle for 100 years!

There has been a phone lost and re-found, a friends brand new car reversed into, (oops and sorry) and lots of in-house mislaid items. Grrrr!

Ten “Christmas in a Box” boxes, together with 10 treat boxes (recycled from a summer wedding) have been shopped for, made up and delivered for Young Carer’s on Friday. Many many thanks to all those friends who contributed so generously this year to my “Christmas in a Box”. Your help and support has been truly appreciated by Andy and I.

Many apologies for any cards that weren’t written or delivered. Also apologies for squidged in visits to friends, and no shows at one or two parties. I really have been finding it difficult to get off that Scalextric track!

Vegetables have been prepped, Bailey’s has been drunk, a vaguely Christmassy table has been laid, and now it is time to say “Enough, enough now”, rest your head in that sparkly castle!

Wishing you all an incredibly Happy Christmas. Love Rocking Dog x

Presents Are Wrapped,Rocking Dog

Presents Are Wrapped

Rat a Tat Tat Tat!,Rocking Dog

Rat a Tat Tat Tat!

Hampers Delivered,Rocking Dog

Hampers Delivered

Surfaces Snow Dusted,Rocking Dog

Surfaces Snow Dusted

Stocking Hung,Rocking Dog

Stocking Hung

Off To Bed For 100 Year Slumber!,Rocking Dog

Off To Bed For 100 Year Slumber!

Do Not Disturb! Baking All Day.

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!,Rocking Dog

Trying To Make Sense Of It All!

Yes indeedy, Rocking Dog is cooking all day and possibly into the night baking loveliness for tomorrows Festive Pop Up at the kennel.

Billionaires shortbread (absolutely zilch for Mr blooming Trump), Sloe gin rocky road and chocolate brownie feature on my baking list as do some Lemon & poppy seed loaves. I’m not going to tell you all my baking secrets but there will be the somewhat legendary mince pies straight out of the oven tomorrow morning.

Lovely Rocking Dog preserves have been labelled and will make divine Christmas presents for foodie friends. Make up a breakfast bag with box of granola, croissants and a jar of the Dog’s marmalade. An assortment of cheeses can be embellished with a jar of Citrus Thyme Jelly, whilst Punjab Limes can be gifted with Indian spices and airline tickets for an exotic destination! Yum, Christmas sorted!

Well folks the kitchen awaits me. Vibrant cranberry juice is dripping through a jelly bag to be made into Cranberry & Claret jelly… and there is ALL that baking. Just hope some good humoured elves turn up!

11am -1pm tomorrow. Lovely Rocking Dog edible and non edible things to buy. Mulled drinks and Rocking Dog cake to gobble around the kitchen table, and beyond. Profits from refreshments for Young Carer’s “Christmas in A Box”. I need to buy ten turkeys urgently! You will be warmly welcomed and let’s get Christmas off to a sparkling un-grinchy start.

Much love from Rocking Dog x

PS I apologise in advance if I smell like a mince pie tomorrow!

Rocking Dog Frou'd!,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Frou’d!

Labels For Limes,Rocking Dog

Labels For Limes

Jolly Jelly!,Rocking Dog

Jolly Jelly!

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies,Rocking Dog

Legendary Rocking Dog Mince Pies

Our Friends Up North Cushions!,Rocking Dog

Our Friends Up North Cushions!

Don't Be Glum Chum!,Rocking Dog

Don’t Be Glum Chum!