Category Archives: Interest

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

Singing The Night Away Near Hinkley Point

Beautiful Britain, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Britain

The weekend was spent singing the night away near Hinkley Point in Somerset. Friends of ours invited Andyman and I to join them on a camping jolly. So Friday night we took to the road on the run to the sun!

We camped on a wonderful site not a million miles away from Hinkley Point. Run by a lovely young family Moorhouse Farm & Campsite is situated at the foot of the picturesque Quantock Hills. A working arable farm, we were met by a menagerie of hens, ducks and other colourful feathered fowl. There were also a lovely collection of old ploughs, threshing machines and tractors. The charm continued with wooden mushrooms, a characterful BBQ den, fire pits, handsome trees and hedges. Barns on the farm provide the space to make
“Mad Apple Cider”.

Our friends arrived with their new “baby” – a T@b. Larger and more practical than our Pod, it is still head-turningly cute! I really envied the fact that our friends could put on their jeans standing up. We need to shimmy into ours lying on our backs!

In the evening we walked to a local pub for a meal. We were all somewhat bemused when the landlord asked us to order any desserts super quickly as the chef wanted to go home. It was 9pm …. only in England!!

On Saturday we headed off to Kilve beach with the dogs. The day was perfect, warm, with stunningly blue skies and magical scenery. We were walking in the footsteps of Wordsworth and Coleridge. I loved the brick retort with its shrubby “smoke” which was built in the 1920’s. It was discovered that oil could be extracted from shale. This has more than a whiff of fracking about it! In time the scheme was abandoned before the whole area was laid to waste. I wonder how the locals feel about the decision to go ahead with the new Hinkley C power station.

The walk took us from stunning coastline, through freshly ploughed fields and onto paths lined with brambles, sloes and cobnuts. There were also pretty settlements. Cream windowed cottages with rustic porches, allotment style gardens, duck ponds and picket gate fences. Idilic.

In East Quantoxhead we chanced upon morning teas and a village produce sale at the village hall. It felt as if we had stepped back in time. Tea and coffees were served in vintage cups and saucers, not because it was trendy, but that’s because the way it’s always been done. Coffee drunk and bacon floury bap eaten, we picked up some chicken skewers and headed back on the steep climb to the campsite. The September sun was delicious and meant that a spot of deckchair sunbathing proved irresistible!

Kebabs cooked on a disposable barbecue and served with rice and salad we enjoyed some rather generous glasses of Italian wine, local beers and Prosecco. Us girls embarked on an impromptu red wine fuelled sing song. We chose to select groups/singers alphabetically and to sing an iconic song.So there were The Osmond’s Crazy Horses, Whitney Houston Run To You, etc… The boys were very exasperated… but there really is NOTHING like a good sing.

I suspect this  just may be the last camping foray of the year. I so love spending time with friends, the landscape and the elements.

 

 

Farm Transport, Rocking Dog

Farm Transport

Agricultural Metal, Rocking Dog

Agricultural Metal

Hen House, Rocking Dog

Hen House

Our Baby, Rocking Dog

Our Baby

Their Baby, Rocking Dog

Their Baby

Massive Mushrooms, Rocking Dog

Massive Mushrooms

BBQ Den, Rocking Dog

BBQ Den

Alternative Energy, Rocking Dog

Alternative Energy

That View Again, Rocking Dog

That View Again

A Lovely Weekend In September

September Beech Wood, Rocking Dog

September Beech Wood

The weekend was full of lovely impromptu things. A wettish Saturday was spent travelling to Dorset with a friend. Somewhat fortuitously Di’s Sat-nav took us on a little bit of an unconventional journey. It meant that we couldn’t resist having a peek into Antiques Bazaar near Crewkerne. We both loved a circus trapeze bar and various pieces of quirky furniture. There were lots of toby jugs, but I managed to resist! I did however buy a large and pretty curtain which will more than likely form the backing for my future hollyhock quilt.

We travelled onto lovely Bridport, drank coffee, ate lunch, chatted, laughed and enjoyed dipping into lots of independent shops. Unfortunately with the weather being a trifle rainy and windswept there were not many of the usual street stalls. However, it was a really great day and certainly blew away the cobwebs!

Sunday dawned bright and sunny. Andyman, Real Live Rocking Dog and I decided on a spur of the moment Bath walk. We walked on Lansdown Hill, the site of a bloody civil war battle in 1643. The views were truly breathtaking. In the distance we could pick out the old and new Severn Bridge Crossings together with Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge. It was tempting to stay sitting cherishing the views long after the picnic was finished.. but there was another four miles to muster.

The hawthorns and elders as we climbed, were covered with a profusion of berries. My mum would be saying “it’s a sign it’s going to be a hard, cold winter. It’s nature’s way of providing well for wildlife” We will have to wait and see!

At one point in the walk we had a lovely view down to the ribbon of water at Saltford. There were so many pretty sails, a gorgeous scene to ponder. We also chanced upon the sweet little church of St Martin at North Stoke. 12th century with older additions, I could easily imagine Jane Austen empire line, bonneted weddings. Unfortunately the church was locked. It apparently has a plaque inside honouring the 23 men and unknown number of farm horses who went from the village in WW1. The plaque was unveiled in 2008 by Britain’s last Tommy, Harry Patch, to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the end of WW1. Just a year later at the age 111 Harry died, his funeral service being held at Wells Cathedral.

The last part of our walk took us through a beautiful wooded area. The last glowing embers of the Sunday sunshine penetrated the beech canopy. It was glorious and so atmospheric.

So the new week now begins….

A very Happy Birthday to our lovely boy Alex who is 29 today. He is working at the Paralympics in Rio, and we hope is having the time of his life. Very wonderfully we had a glimpse of him on C4 just after Jonnie Peacock’s 100m gold medal win.

Toby Jug Treasure, Rocking Dog

Toby Jug Treasure

Back At Albion, Rocking Dog

Back At Albion

Sunday Skies, Rocking Dog

Sunday Skies

Green Hill, Rocking Dog

Green Hill

Doggy Picnic Time, Rocking Dog

Doggy Picnic Time

Pretty Sails, Rocking Dog

Pretty Sails

Peaceful Place, Rocking Dog

Peaceful Place

Carved Cherubim, Rocking Dog

Carved Cherubim

Happy Birthday Alex!, Rocking Dog

Happy Birthday Alex!

Alfresco Lunch In My City

Water's Edge, Rocking Dog

Water’s Edge

I met with a friend for an alfresco lunch in my city yesterday. Bristol was bathed in the most beautiful sunshine and the city looked glorious.

We passed through Corn Street and enjoyed looking at some of the amazing buildings in the vicinity. Corn Street is famous for its Nails. These four bronze “tables” are sited outside the Corn Exchange and were used by merchants to close a sale. Money placed on the surface of the Nail signified that a deal had been struck. This is where the saying “Paying on the Nail” comes from. The Nails are from different dates, the earliest being Elizabethan.

We decided to head to St Nicholas Market to see what took our fancy. “Ahh Toots” had its usual array of wonderful cakes dressed with gold dusted fruits, rose petals and pretzels. We managed to resist the temptation and bought a falafel and salad box at “Eat a Pitta”. Freshly cooked falafels were accompanied by a variety of salads, hummus, pickles and choice of dressing all for £5.50. Bargainous! We marvelled at the wondrous blue sky through the glass ceiling as we walked through to some green space.

Our alfresco lunch was eaten picnic style in dappled shade in Queen Square. The Square is used for many public events, but yesterday it had a sprinkling of lunchers, sunbathers and readers. The history of the square dates from 1699 when it was planned, and 1727 when it was completed. It was named after Queen Anne and was an incredibly fashionable place to live. In 1831 much of it was destroyed during the Bristol Riots. It was rebuilt, and now the majority of the buildings are offices.

We left Queen Square for a coffee at the Riverstation. We enjoyed gorgeous waterside views- such a perfect summers day. On our way out we loved Edward Allen’s stonking enamelled tin basin full of succulents and slender twigs. Yummy!

Our final port of call was a photo call at the ruined church of St Peter’s in Castle Park. The area was heavily bombed during the Bristol Blitz 24th-25th November 1940. The church has been preserved as a memorial to the civilian war dead of Bristol. During the Blitz 200 Bristolians’ lost their lives whist another 689 were injured. A beautiful sensory herb garden has been planted on one side of the ruin. Five silver birches meanwhile grow to represent the beaches of the D Day Landings.

In conclusion, a lovely sun blessed afternoon with yummy food and lots of chat!

Feeding Time, Rocking Dog

Feeding Time

Delicious Dogs Dinner!, Rocking Dog

Delicious Dogs Dinner!

Ahh Toots, Rocking Dog

Ahh Toots

The Glass Ceiling, Rocking Dog

The Glass Ceiling

Corn St. Nail

Corn St. Nail

Stone Angel, Rocking Dog

Stone Angel

Carved Beauty, Rocking Dog

Carved Beauty

River View, Rocking Dog

River View

Casualty Of The Blitz, Rocking Dog

Casualty Of The Blitz

Ed's Succulents, Rocking Dog

Ed’s Succulents

Sky & Spire, Rocking Dog

Sky & Spire

Plaid Bundles, Rocking Dog

Plaid Bundles

A Weekend In Fabulous Colour

Vases Of Cottage Flower Colour, Rocking Dog

Vases Of Cottage Flower Colour

The weekend bought with it blue skies and other fabulous colours. On Friday I bought lovely cottage garden plants from a street stall at a local town. These leafy purchases are currently residing in that rather infamous cast iron roll top bath. Six months on it is still waiting for a gang of burly youths to move it, ready for my vegetable garden planting.

On Saturday after a day of mainly domestic dross, we headed into deepest darkest Wiltshire to eat with the newlyweds. Whilst on honeymoon in Bali they took the opportunity to have a Balinese cooking lesson. Recreated for us the food was yummy, we especially loved the green beans with spiced coconut. Thank you A & K.

Sunday morning, Andyman and I headed for Frome, a 45 minute drive from the kennel. The first Sunday of the month Frome plays host to an amazing market. Flea, food, craft, plants and a plethora of other goodies, this small Somerset town throbs with people, noise, dogs and bunting. Many of Frome’s shops open their doors, whilst a number of enterprising householders also sell their wares on their oh so familiar doorsteps.

We bought a couple of old pitchforks to continue the embellishment of our fence, and a trio of rather sweet old hand painted decanters. After a coffee I sniffed out a fabulous material shop James Gaunt in Church Street. Many of his fabrics including silks were £5 per metre. Some citrus yellow striped silk proved irresistible! Material Mountain- just…..well…keeps on mounting!

Bramble & Wild offered a beautiful array of garden flower posies and Elizabeth Lee Interiors showcased her shop with a wonderful ad hoc display of vintage galvanised metal buckets and watering cans.

Frome really is the perfect place for a spot of shopping for gifts. I certainly know where i’ll be doing my Christmas shopping this year. Absolutely utterly not Michael!

Out on the streets The British Blanket Company had a wonderful stall with the softest and most colourful snugglies. However, being fiendishly warm it was rather difficult to think of cold chilblained nights when a blanket will be an absolute necessity. Plant stalls, artisan food, street food …it was all rather lovely.

A pop up beach was proving very popular with  children who were making the most of building sandcastles, whilst parents enjoyed sinking into  striped deckchairs.

I definitely recommend a visit to this 1st Sunday Frome extravaganza. Make use of the Park & Ride and definitely aim to arrive early. Yesterday it all got rather uncomfortably busy, so it was “Home James and don’t spare the horses!”

The weekend finished with eating food at the “Souk Kitchen”in Southville. It was lovely to catch up with friends who’d made the brave move to live in France. As ever we ate beautiful and colourful food. Plates of octopus, calves liver, salmon, Halloumi etc.. all with Middle Eastern twiddling were stunning. The panna cotta was also so very lovely and glorious to look at. Food and banter at the Souk was the perfect end to a very colour infused weekend.

Wishing you a very happy and productive start to the week, one hopefully with lots of colour!

Safe travels Huw and Selina.xx

Bathfull of Colour, Rocking Dog

Bathfull of Colour

Blue Skies In Frome, Rocking Dog

Blue Skies In Frome

Deckchair Stripes, Rocking Dog

Deckchair Stripes

Rainbow Blankets, Rocking Dog

Rainbow Blankets

Mary, Mary...., Rocking Dog

Mary, Mary….

Green Door, Rocking Dog

Green Door

Monochrome, Rocking Dog

Monochrome

Citrus Silk, Rocking Dog

Citrus Silk

Souk Colour, Rocking Dog

Souk Colour

Escaping To Bath…..Bliss!

Bath Reflections, Rocking Dog

Bath Reflections

It was a day of escaping to Bath yesterday. I was keen to visit The Victoria Art Gallery to see “A Room of Their Own- Lost Bloomsbury Interiors 1914-30”

The exhibition recreates as far as possible several lost interior schemes by Roger Fry, Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. It reunites objects and paintings from both public and private collections, items which haven’t been seen together for fifty years.

I have loved all things Bloomsbury for three decades. It started in earnest when Laura Ashley launched their Bloomsbury collection of fabrics etc.. in 1987. The company had acquired the rights to a rare selection of Charleston House patterns. Grapes and Queen Mary are designs which stand out for me. In 2013 a range of the fabrics/wallpapers were relaunched in celebration of Laura Ashley’s 60th year. Since 1987 none of the houses we have lived in have been without Bloomsbury fabric somewhere in the mix.

In time I went to see Charleston, near Lewes and it is truly lovely. It is a real home with every surface painted and embellished by one or other of the inhabitants, or indeed guests just passing through.

The garden is equally beautiful and a book has just been published to celebrate its creative country charm.

The exhibition in Bath was bijoux but lovely. It has made me want to get my paintbrush out, and to pull out a stash of unused 1987 fabric. Watch this space! In a new house we once lived in, my brother in law kindly recreated the hermaphrodites which grace the studio at Charleston onto a bare wall. I’d love him to do a repeat performance!

After culture, I had a little bit of a mooch. I loved the reflections of the Georgian and not so Georgian buildings in the windows of Anthropologie. I stopped at The Whole Bagel for a.. bagel! Delicious, I couldn’t help but choose the filling I always select, Pear, brie, walnut and Parma ham.

I wandered down Walcot Street and it was alarming to witness the amount of empty shops. Rates are notoriously high in Bath. I bought ink and nib supplies at Meticulous Ink, such a lovely shop. Further on I headed to Owl in the Ivy, with its beautiful collection of old items to buy. However my heart was taken with the owners’ gorgeous Wire Haired Dachschund. Puppies are planned….,tempting, but I don’t think Real Live Rocking Dog would like a new puppy on his territory, he’s getting much too old and grumpy!

A reviving Americano and piece of Tunisian orange cake was enjoyed at an outside table at The Fine Cheese Company. It was great to watch the world go by, and to glance along to a building I love. The Corn Market building is so tall and narrow, it reaches to the sky with its elongated persona. However, that is not the whole story it extends behind a long, long way.

I loved taking time out in Bath, it was wonderful to get an aesthetic “fix”. I feel very inspired, but think the guilt of a mountainous ironing pile will make me abandon plans for Bloomsbury style painting for at least a little while.

Have a lovely weekend how ever you intend spending it. Love Rocking Dog x

Reaching To The Sky, Rocking Dog

Reaching To The Sky

Patriotic Door, Rocking Dog

Patriotic Door

How Much Is That Doggy?, Rocking Dog

How Much Is That Doggy?

Scrummy Bagel, Rocking Dog

Scrummy Bagel

Whole Bagel, Rocking Dog

Whole Bagel

Meticulous Ink Supplies, Rocking Dog

Meticulous Ink Supplies

Coffee & Cake, Rocking Dog

Coffee & Cake

Bloomsbury Style, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Style

Bloomsbury Grapes, Rocking Dog

Bloomsbury Grapes

Money Through The Letterbox Please!

Wheelbarrow Fruits, Rocking Dog

Wheelbarrow Fruits

Last week I took a friend for tea in the beautiful Wiltshire village of Lacock. This picturesque little place is well renowned for being the perfect place to film a good drama. Therefore the film crews of Cranford, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Downton Abbey, and Harry Potter have all rolled into town at one point or other.

Lacock was mentioned in the Domesday Book and its famous Abbey was established in 1232. In the Middle Ages it had a thriving wooden industry. The dissolution of the monasteries in Henry VIII’s reign had a serious effect on the village. In 1944 the Abbey and the village almost in its entirety were bequeathed to the National Trust.

Unlike many English villages struggling to keep its village pub, shop, post office or bus service Lacock is thriving. Many tourists flock to the village because of its film connections. There is a village shop, a pottery, a jeweller, pubs, tea rooms, bakery and NT shop amongst other commercial interests.

Even more quaint is the entrepreneurial spirit of the villagers. Plants, books, meringues, courgettes, summer fruits, lavender were all to be bought from flagstoned doorsteps. There were bags kindly supplied for customers booty and instructions for payment.

I loved the wheelbarrow with its punnet’s of freshly picked soft fruits. Most mornings I enjoy seasonal fruit to eat with granola or bircher muesli. Berries chosen, it was time to push coins through a very snappy little letterbox. I could get used to this sort of shopping!

Is this wheelbarrow selling a very British phenomenon I wonder.

There was time for tea in the very beautiful garden at King John’s Hunting Lodge and then a further stroll. The last pitstop was at Sue Stokes Decorative Antiques in West Street. Sue has a truly beautiful little shop with such unusual stock, a tiny leather child’s glove, silver milagro’s, religious figurines, even a straw bra! I will be back.

Lacock is delightful and of course there is always Corsham, a short drive away. There has been much excitement in the town because scenes for the recent Poldark series have been filmed there…..not Cornwall at all!

Wheelbarrow Stall, Rocking Dog

Wheelbarrow Stall

Courgette Glut, Rocking Dog

Courgette Glut

Lacock Letterbox, Rocking Dog

Lacock Letterbox

Plant Sale, Rocking Dog

Plant Sale

Money Plant, Rocking Dog

Money Plant

Any Flowers For Sale?, Rocking Dog

Any Flowers For Sale?

Scented Sell, Rocking Dog

Scented Sell

For Bookworms, Rocking Dog

For Bookworms

Time For Tea, Rocking Dog

Time For Tea

Hollyhocks & Criminal Ladies

Profusion Of Hollyhocks and Criminals!, Rocking Dog

Profusion Of Hollyhocks and Criminals!

Good morning from Rocking Dog, I hope you have had a good weekend. I was in London over the weekend attending the Anniversary Games at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The stadium now has its new livery of maroon and sky blue, West Ham FC now in residence. Although it was great to see Usain Bolt run, a world record being won (Kendra Harrison USA 100m hurdles) and a host of paralympic events (Please Watch this amazing link), the weekend wasn’t all about athletics.

A very balmy Thursday evening was spent on the roof terrace of my brother in law’s workplace. We enjoyed cocktails and fabulous views across the Thames to St Paul’s and beyond. It is such a beautiful cityscape, though we spent some time discussing what Christopher Wren would make of his city. Friday morning, me, my girls and nieces headed to Bermondsey market. Sorrel and I, ever eagle eyed spotted some truly yummy embroidery. The owner obviously loved it and told us that she’d put an inflated price on it in an attempt never to find a buyer for it. Evidently she was genuinely keen to hang onto it. I adored the bold stitchery of the hollyhocks, delphinium spire, pansies, marigolds, phlox and billy-button daisies. I went to sit on a bench to deliberate and cogitate! Sorrel and one niece then went off to seal the asking price deal. The stall holder was somewhat shocked and crestfallen when she saw them approach, cash in hand. She asked if she could have an hour to come to terms with selling it, but eventually agreed on a 10 minute stalling period. If you are reading this blog piece Mrs stall holder……thank you so much for begrudgingly parting with it! It will be Sooooooo truly loved!

I think the piece probably dates from the 1930’s and is currently a slip cover for a large bolster style cushion. After careful consideration, in Rocking Dog’s hands it will more than likely become an exquisite central panel for a quilt. I propose surrounding it with vintage floral fabrics together with 20’s-30 embroidered pieces and fabulous vintage braids. As you probably know Rocking Dog has a penchant for embroidery, and loves a tray cloth, tablecloth or serviette to reconfigure. I will steadily accumulate materials to work towards starting this project. I want to find beautiful cottons and the like which help to celebrate the central panel.

Maybe some of the pieces I will use in the quilt will be iconic 20’s /30’s Crinoline lady embroidery. Between the wars cheerful embroidery was undertaken, sometimes using iron on transfers. Crinoline ladies, flowers and garden subjects were all popular at the time. In addition a whole variety of housewares were available with images of crinoline ladies from table linen, paper and foil crafts, china to early plastics. In our household crinoline ladies have always been called criminal ladies. Sorrel as a child misheard what these vintage ladies were called, so criminal they have remained.

Cumbersome, with steel or whale bone hooped cages the Victorian crinoline was a hazard to wear. Women died or were left badly burnt if they happened to brush against a fire or if a hot ember landed on the multi layers of fabric. In addition, their dresses could get caught in factory machinery or the wheels of a carriage. One woman in 1885 however luckily survived as a result of her crinoline. Sarah Ann Henley, a barmaid working in a public house in Ashton, Bristol had her engagement broken off, in despair she decided to throw herself off the Clifton Suspension Bridge. She survived the 246ft (75 metres) drop because her crinoline acted as a parachute. Sarah went onto marry and lived to the ripe old age of 85yrs. Another interesting fact is that the little Unitarian Chapel in Frenchay, Bristol has a crinoline door. The doorway is wider at the bottom than the top, so as to allow crinoline wearing church goers to pass into the chapel easily.

The hollyhocks part of this post is a bargainous curtain I bought yesterday in John Lewis, Westfield. A display curtain I have several metres of fabric for little more than the cost of a metre. The fabric is “Hollyhocks” by Sanderson and is based on a documented design from 1937. I have a cunning plan that I would like to make a fabulously flamboyant floral coat to attend Chelsea Flower Show 2017. I love Kaffe Fassett’s tapestry hollyhocks (sadly REALLY financially out of my league!) but am very fond of Julie Penney’s reworked vintage piece with it’s cheery hollyhocks and stitchery.

Tyeing crinoline ladies and hollyhocks together, very often these embroidered bonneted ladies are to be found tending spires of brightly coloured hollyhocks.

Now then just where is my bonnet .. so I can go and tend my unruly plot!

Have a great start to the week.

Yummy Embroidery , Rocking Dog

Yummy Embroidery

Sanderson Hollyhocks, Rocking Dog

Sanderson Hollyhocks

Criminal Ladies, Rocking Dog

Criminal Ladies

Floribunda, Rocking Dog

Floribunda

Julie's Flowers, Rocking Dog

Julie’s Flowers

China Can, Rocking Dog

China Can

Edwardian Gardener, Rocking Dog

Edwardian Gardener

Kaffe's Hollyhocks, Rocking Dog

Kaffe’s Hollyhocks

Crinoline Doorway, Rocking Dog

Crinoline Doorway

It’s Another Good Year For The Roses!

Grandmother Emily's Tea Set, Rocking Dog

Grandmother Emily’s Tea Set

With a mixture of delicious sunshine and refreshing rain it’s another good year for the roses. A few years ago I was given a little bit of money, I spent it taking out some life sapping and towering conifers which came with the house. How I hated them. In due course the mammoth culling process was completed, and the trees were replaced with rustic posts and wires in preparation for roses. Days were spent deliberating just which roses to choose and finally the order was made. December came, and with it a box of David Austin bare root rambling roses. Certainly they were unimpressive, little more than twigs. With the precious delivery the snow also came. Planting was postponed and the roses assigned to the cold but frost free cellar. Christmas over, and with the snow having melted, the ground remained so frost bitten. The roses could not stay in the cellar indefinitely, so warmly wrapped I headed out to dig seven massive holes! Rooting powder, mushroom compost, roses, together with determination and energy the plants were in! I remember not having high hopes for them. Last year there were beautiful blooms and the beginning of some privacy for the garden. This year the roses are rambling on, and with SO many showy scented blooms. I wish the conifers had gone long ago!

There is fossil evidence that suggests that roses have been around for 35 million years. The production of rosewater, scented oils and perfumes from wild roses can be traced back in Iraq to 2000BC. Meanwhile in Greek Mythology legend has it that Aphrodite the Goddess of Love created the rose from her tears and the blood from her lover Adonis. In Egypt, Cleopatra covered the floors of her palace to the depth of half a metre with fresh rose petals. Meanwhile the sails of her sailing ships were drenched with rosewater. Indeed rosehip wreaths have been discovered in Egyption tombs. In Rome, emperors filled swimming pools and fountains with rosewater. Such was the demand for roses by the wealthy, that Roman peasants were forced to grow roses instead of food. At one lavish feast hosted by Emperor Nero, a guest was smothered to death by rose petals which cascaded down from an open ceiling. Cultivation of roses was well underway by 500BC in China.

I love my Grandmother Emily’s tea service by Spode. It is decorated with pink roses and I loved it as a child, and still do. It tends to sit on open shelving in the kitchen and i’m rather too afraid to use it. I really don’t like tea anyway!

The paper rose was made and given to me by a friend very recently… I feel a bit of Marie coming on!

The Edwardian Rose is attributed to the Edwardian photo album. A “not in my tree” collection. The photo’s show the lives of an upper middle class family at the turn of the 20th century. Many photo’s are of their beautiful house and garden near Tunbridge Wells. There are photo’s of the gardener, very elderly distinguished lady, a wedding, interiors and with the onset of WW1, members of the family in uniform and a munitions unit. Fascinating.

Other rosy “bits” collected from around the kennel include a vintage fabric bucket bag made by The Dog, and cushions bought, not made by me. The tiara is one bought for the youngest and includes pink paper roses and pearls. She wore it for a fairy party which was filmed at the house for a local TV station about 15 years ago. I demonstrated making a cone shaped cake which I covered with homemade baby meringues and sugar frosted rosebuds. Lastly my Meissen “pot”, lots of lovely flowers including roses. and painted insects. It’s suffered during its lifetime but I simply love it.

There’s another rose to be planted, Olivia Rose (thank you Sorrel and Liv’) and thankfully this time no frost to contend with.

Rambling Roses, Rocking Dog

Rambling Roses

Beautiful Bloom, Rocking Dog

Beautiful Bloom

Paper Roses, Rocking Dog

Paper Roses

Rosy Loveliness, Rocking Dog

Rosy Loveliness

Edwardian Rose, Rocking Dog

Edwardian Rose

Roses To Sit On, Rocking Dog

Roses To Sit On

Fairy Rose Tiara, Rocking Dog

Fairy Rose Tiara

Meissen Roses, Rocking Dog

Meissen Roses

Rocking Dog Roses, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Roses

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