Category Archives: Home And Garden

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


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


Siblings,Rocking Dog


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!

Christmas Has Entered The Building!

Snow Time!,Rocking Dog

Snow Time!

The Kennel has had its festive magic wand waved over it. There is snow, there are carrots, doughnuts and gherkins. There are Putz houses, concertina paper trees that incidentally have seen much better days, a legless half century old fairy and baubles a plenty.

It seems such a short time ago that Christmas last tumbled down from the attic, and then I vaguely remember we did a second Christmas in February! No wonder my enthusiasm for ornamentation, embellishing and frou’ing is slightly lack lustre this Christmastime. I need a magic wand waved over me to get topped up on Christmas spirit ( and not of the yummy G & T variety that I quaffed whilst making my second batch of mince pies ). Maybe I need to just overdose on YOU KNOW WHO for a while!

There are few “new” decorations to report and just a rejigging of the “old”. There are hundreds and thousands sprinkled doughnuts and glittery glass gherkins suspended above the dining table and THOSE carrots have arrived back in the kitchen. There is my £5 Ikea plastic tree, unusually for me a themed affair with animals. Charity shop zoo and farm animals were put through the dishwasher before finding hiding places amongst the branches. There are animal baubles and felt Wire Fox Terriers. A tree for little Doug’. Meanwhile there is an old French bottle dryer which has been hung with a plethora of brightly coloured vintage baubles and a string of fairy lights. Voila indeed!

The real tree was bought from Frenchay Forestry (the small Hambrook out-post) who know I love a lame duck! I like to save a tree that was destined for a bonfire (a rogue branch, no show branch, a lack of symmetry etc..). This years is a beaut’, thank you to the lovely Mancunian father and son team who spend long cold nights for three weeks or so in a rather basic caravan. Hot mince Pies winging their way to you this morning to warm your cockles!

In between frou’ing I have been making preserves for my Pop Up on Sunday. I have also been making some rather strange cushions. Inspired by Andyman’s sporran I have made some tartan cushions with leather sporrans … strange but true! They are my “Our Friends From The North” range.

Cards posted tick, house decorated tick, presents bought & wrapped partial tick. As for the food that’s a completely different matter! How are your preparations going?

Festive greetings to one and all x

PS Message for Gina my mince pie count currently stands at 11 dozen and i’m not fed up just yet, though I do smell like a mince pie!


Bauble Boxes,Rocking Dog

Bauble Boxes

Bottle Drier Dec's,Rocking Dog

Bottle Drier Dec’s

Old Bulbs,Rocking Dog

Old Bulbs

Tree Frou,Rocking Dog

Tree Frou

Legless Fairy,Rocking Dog

Legless Fairy

Doug's Tree,Rocking Dog

Doug’s Tree

The Carrots Are Back!,Rocking Dog

The Carrots Are Back!

Sewing &....,Rocking Dog

Sewing &….

...Mince Pie Making!,Rocking Dog

…Mince Pie Making!

Rocking Dog Despises Dusting!

Life Really Is Too Short!,Rocking Dog

Life Really Is Too Short!

Despicable dusting! Rocking Dog thought it was time to have a little bit of a winter clean before Christmas tumbled down from the attic! Snow will blow onto surfaces, there will be bowls of vintage baubles, childhood treasures, garlands, mistletoe, holly, ivy, spruce and bling….hmmm! and I told everyone I was going to simplify everything this year!

I did clean, but didn’t get very far. It was too tempting to reacquaint myself with favourite precious things, re-appreciating glazes, patina, rust, script, and imperfection. I did draw the line at dusting the old postal shelves with their eclectic mix of found and given flotsam and jetsam. Life really is too short!

Logs were lugged to their hole in the inglenook, and the old castle was adorned with a string of sparkly lights. Material Mountain was given a little bit of a sort, and plans were made for Rocking Dog creations as linens and ginghams, velvets and silks were bundled and folded.

Bronze head man will change his Russian sailors hat for something a little more festive very soon and the window seat antlers will make way for a tree. All is calm and all is white, but in a few days festive mayhem will descend!

Stay cosy. Love bad tempered Rocking Dog and her duster x

Precious Things,Rocking Dog

Precious Things

Prickly Seat,Rocking Dog

Prickly Seat

Lugging The Logs,Rocking Dog

Lugging The Logs

Calm & White,Rocking Dog

Calm & White

Sparkly Castle,Rocking Dog

Sparkly Castle

Where's Your Christmas Hat?,Rocking Dog

Where’s Your Christmas Hat?

December Comes In With A Flurry

Celebrating The 2017 Oil, Rocking Dog

Celebrating The 2017 Oil

With the advent of frosty mornings it’s hard to think that we were harvesting the olives in sub-tropical (well almost) temperatures a month ago. November saw us making the trip home with our precious olive oil cargo. Snow had fallen on some of the Swiss mountain peaks and there was a misty late autumnal stillness hanging heavily over the slate grey lakes. Travelling through Switzerland always makes me feel as if I am part of some spectacular railway set. Truly beautiful.

November has been busy. There have been some good things and some pretty rotten things. I’m always thinking of friends and family who have had very difficult situations to withstand. Some corners have been turned, whilst for others, corners still need turning. I hope the roads straighten out very soon for all those travelling somewhat perilous journeys. X

The good bits in November were a lovely trip to London to see Future Islands at the Brixton Academy. LOVED! I also managed to squeeze in lots of Biddy (as in old) cuddles with little Douglas, because put simply grandchildren are for cuddling! Sorrel, Doug’ and I also managed to squeeze a visit to the V&A. I wanted to see the Woman’s Hour Craft Prize exhibition. The prize was brought about to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour in collaboration with the V&A and The Craft Council. I was particularly keen to see the winning exhibit by Phoebe Cummings who had made a botanical fountain from raw clay. As the exhibit has not been glazed or fired the water will gradually dissolve the clay, the fountain will therefore be ever-changing. Anyone expecting the water spout at Chatsworth or the fountains at Versailles may be slightly disappointed. On this visit I was fortunate enough to witness the once daily 2 minute water feature. Hmmmmm! it’s a watery dribble, however the clay work is truly exquisite.

There were 1,500 applicants for the £10,000 prize, and the exhibition showcases the twelve finalists. I particularly loved Celia Pym’s darning exhibit. Over the last ten years she has darned other peoples clothing and feels a real compulsion to try a jumper on that has been placed on the back of a chair! On January 6th you can go to the V&A for a free workshop with Celia to discuss how to tackle a hole in a favourite garment.

Romilly Saumarez Smiths work also caught my attention. I loved the cabinet of her treasures. The artist is fascinated by stories contained within found objects. Suffering from a neurological disease, she is unable to use her own hands and works alongside a trio of jewellers to translate her ideas. Smith uses precious metals and other materials to sensitively work in with items such as Roman pins, medieval thimbles and coral. Her exhibit was like being in a rather good sweet shop and being unable to choose one piece, you wanted the lot!

November saw Rocking Dog sew a batch of 2017 “Cabin in the Wood” advent calendars and stockings utilising vintage hand embroidered festive table linen. Beloved Bernina has been busy with other sewing projects and has been joined on the workbench by a snazzy overlocker. I will sit down and embrace its neat and clever functions.

There was a sale at Court House Farm, Portishead. What a beautiful event but just why oh why do I get so anxious selling?  On the buying front I desperately tried to resist buying more vintage baubles but alas my decoration addiction got the better of me!

There has been a Rocking Dog huddle, lots of chat, a little crochet and the first batch of Rocking Dog mince pies. Thank you to all those who came and dropped money into the jolly tea pot for Fine Cell Work.

The last day of November saw us sharing a special deal lunch at The Pig at Bath with friends. The food was lovely and I was particularly intrigued by some pickled Chinese artichokes. They looked alarmingly like caterpillar chrysalis’s, but were delicious. A walk around the walled kitchen garden with the sun fading was quiet and inspirational.

So December has indeed come in with a flurry, and SO the festive madness begins!

Hoping you all have a wonderful weekend. Wrap up warmly and stay cosy! Love Rocking Dog x

PS Alright Michael it is time!

Umbrian November,Rocking Dog

Umbrian November

Umbrian Moon..,Rocking Dog

Umbrian Moon..

Hambrook Moon,Rocking Dog

Hambrook Moon

Making Calendars,Rocking Dog

Making Calendars

& Stockings,Rocking Dog

& Stockings

Court House Farm,Rocking Dog

Court House Farm

Delightful Darn,Rocking Dog

Delightful Darn

Dissolving Clay,Rocking Dog

Dissolving Clay

Little Boxes,Rocking Dog

Little Boxes

The V&A Cafe,Rocking Dog

The V&A Cafe

Biddy's Boy!,Rocking Dog

Biddy’s Boy!

Go Girl!,Rocking Dog

Go Girl!

Pigging Out,Rocking Dog

Pigging Out

Legendary Mince Pie, Rocking Dog

Legendary Mince Pie

Let The Madness Begin!,Rocking Dog

Let The Madness Begin!