Category Archives: Travel

The Umbrian Cake Trail With Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!, Rocking Dog

Sugar Rush!

What better way to restart the Rocking Dog blog than a post about cake! We finally returned home from Umbria on Monday evening after a 1,300 mile drive through Italy, Switzerland, France, Luxembourg and Belgium. The highlight was seeing Lake Como, Lugano and Lucerne by night. It was so reminiscent of an elaborate model railway layout. Truly enchanting.

In between painting No5 throughout, dismantling bunks, building a bed and reconfiguring furniture, there were small windows of opportunity to go in search of cake!

I am always curious about how people create holiday itineraries. There must be those who go in search of rare birds, those who try to select the most idilic poolside for sunbathing, and those who seek out dangerous sports for an adrenalin rush! My itinerary seems to centre around food. Markets, food festivals, local speciality shops all hold tremendous appeal. Even the humble supermarket is always more exciting far away from home. The solitary shop in the village is an Aladdin’s cave of Umbrian goodies. Locally butchered meats, local vegetables, buffalo mozzarella, Umbrian lentils, it became part of my daily routine to walk Real Live Rocking Dog there in the morning. I believe in the philosophy “use it or else lose it”

We found some spectacular cake shops in Assisi (approximately a 1 hour drive from our little place). Meringues, pastries, Pannetore, bombes and gelato it really was a sugar rush! Interestingly, although I love taking photo’s of the sweet treats I much prefer a savoury plate. Italian cheeses and salami’s are my downfall.

On my first day away from UK I realised just how much I missed Marmite. A mean 150ml jar will need to be stashed in my hand luggage when we return to Umbria in the spring.

Locally, there is always Michele’s with an amazing array of full size and amuse bouche sized cakes, desserts and pastries. My favourite has to be the aragosta (lobster tail). It is a shell shaped horn made up of thin layers of light crispy pastry which is filled with a flavoured cream. The original pastry was created in the monastery of Santa Rosa in the province of Salerno in the 17th Century. Later the recipe was acquired by a pastry chef from Naples called Pasquale Pintauro. He started selling these pastries from his shop in 1818. Michele’s aragosta’s contain a delicious rich creme patisserie. Delicious! Interestingly the girls spotted Nick Ross heading into Michele’s, I wonder what his favourite is!

Wednesday’s and Sundays it’s up to Paciano for a coffee and pastry at Lo Scoiattolo (The Squirrel). Sitting in the family kitchen you can eat delicious bread and pastries from the wood fired oven. Fausto makes a divine cappuccino whilst Lia deals with the Italian/German influenced yeasty loveliness. Our first weekend there, a local town was hosting a Saffron festival. In honour of this amazing local flower product, Lia made delicious saffron buns with a dusting of rose petals and cornflowers, much too good for Real Live Rocking Dog! Later in the week some of the Borgo degli Olivi residents went for a baking masterclass with Lia … more about that in a later post.

Now it’s time to go on the straight and narrow after three weeks of bread, cheese, charcuterie, wine and just the odd aragosta here and there!

 

Window Shopping, Rocking Dog

Window Shopping

Gilded Treats, Rocking Dog

Gilded Treats

Piped Loveliness, Rocking Dog

Piped Loveliness

Michele's Amuse Bouche, Rocking Dog

Michele’s Amuse Bouche

Take Me Home!, Rocking Dog

Take Me Home!

Too Good For RLRD!, Rocking Dog

Too Good For RLRD!

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

Gift Wrapping The Rocking Dog Way!

All Sewn Up, Rocking Dog

All Sewn Up

Another batch of gifts needed to be wrapped at the Rocking Dog Kennel. Alas no sticky tape was to be found… but no worries I dealt with the parcels in a jiffy!

Beloved Bernina, twine and glue gun sufficed in the midst of my no tape crisis. A bundle of delicious ribbons were wrapped for a very creative friend. I used a paper table mat snaffled from an alfresco eatery in Perugia. Testone serves the most delicious Torta outside the famous court room ( the Italian’s were not happy with the Amanda Knox verdict).  The eating place very obviously is a favourite hangout for students.  Torta are Umbrian flatbreads and they encase a variety of fillings, take your pick from Porchetta, Mozzarella, Prosciutto and a whole host of other Italian produce. Two generous slices of torta and two small beers whist sitting in glorious sunshine cost under £10. Apart from the food and the sun  I loved the tobacco coloured table mats, and now they are wrapping! Coarse twine, some woollen bobbles and an up-cycled label completed the package.

Beloved Bernina was bought into use to sew a parcel. I used some beautiful retro pages from a charity shop book and used zig zag stitch to create a bag. The gift item was neatly stashed and the final edge was sewn to create a giant ravioli . A label was then made and threaded with some jolly ribbon. I hope Beloved Bernina hasn’t felt too unhappy about sewing paper and card.

Lastly some rather bulky packages of spring bulbs were given the sack treatment. I chose some fabric from Material Mountain and whizzed up a bag with plant pot panel. Tied and labelled with an appropriate quote it was ready to give.

Who needs sticky tape?!

Retro Wrapping, Rocking Dog

Retro Wrapping

Lovely Label, Rocking Dog

Lovely Label

Heroic Beloved Bernina,Rocking Dog

Heroic Beloved Bernina

Bulbs To Stash, Rocking Dog

Bulbs To Stash

Gift Bag Info', Rocking Dog

Gift Bag Info’

Ready To Give, Rocking Dog

Ready To Give

For A Creative, Rocking Dog

For A Creative

Creatively Wrapped, Rocking Dog

Creatively Wrapped

Cupboard For Wrappers!, Rocking Dog

Cupboard For Wrappers!

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!

Our Very Own Olive Trees

Centuries Old Olives, Rocking Dog

Centuries Old Olives

Buongiorno from Rocking Dog! Anyone who knows me will know of the passion Andyman and I have for picking olives. For the last five years we have had the amazing privilege to stay with our gorgeous friends in Umbria and to help them pick their olives. They have generously shared their unctuous green and delicious olive oil, shared their friends, and shared all their favourite places with us. It’s been a truly wonderful way to see in the winter. Thank you Baz & Dee, together with Derek and kitty holding Wendy. xxxx

So….when the rare opportunity arose to buy a little property just across the path from our hosts, it was just simply too tempting! In the last sun setting days of August, Andyman and I found ourselves in the Notary’s office  in Castiglione del Lago to listen to twelve pages of deeds read in Italian, and then translated and read in English. There was even a special deed relating to the ancient pizza oven and the stone built laundry shed! We are now the excited owners of a bijoux  two bedded apartment a few minutes drive from Lake Trasimeno. Set in a small friendly village with one bar and one well stocked shop it’s not for those lusting after a noisy vibrant clubbing scene! The one bar is more likely to be the scene of a group of locals contemplating the first mushroom, the vines or the olive harvest. All these contemplations are done whilst nursing  a singular small beer over a card hand.

Andyman and I adore the peace, the starry skies, the food, local festivals, markets and the local wines. Then there is always the continuing exploration of charming sunbaked medieval hilltop towns.

Rome can be reached by train in 2 hours and Florence 1 1/2 hours. The beautiful cities of Cortona, Sienna, Arezzo and Perugia are even closer. For the athletic there is mountain biking, wake boarding, golf, a host of activities on the lake and even a  small water park for kids or those adults who simply don’t want to grow up!  Lazy days can be spent crossing the lake to one of the islands for lunch or simply staying at “home” by the pool. Gently swinging in a hammock or swing chair contemplating the views is always a blissful prospect after the bustle of a busy market trip.

I think visits to Medieval hilltop towns will have to wait for a little while, there is a large garden to tend, and living space which needs a Rocking Dog stamp put on it! There is also the small matter of the 2016 olive crop to pick, including six old trees of our own.

Andyman and I are so looking forward to sharing Number 5 with friends and family. We hope that we too can treat our guests to freshly brewed coffee and Panettone before they arise, and then to  share with them the numerous delights of Umbria and bordering Tuscany.

We are looking to do holiday lets for our little piece of paradise in 2017, so please contact us if you would like further details. lizferg@btinternet.co.uk

Stansted-Perugia (45 min drive to No 5) Bristol-Pisa (Approx 2 hours drive to No 5). Rome and other  Italian airports are also definite possibilities.

The biggest challenge lies ahead…..to learn Italian. A linguist I am not, but I really can’t get by with Ciao bella and Grazie forever!

....& Ancient Oak, Rocking Dog

….& Ancient Oak

Bijoux Upstairs Pad!, Rocking Dog

Bijoux Upstairs Pad!

Before Renovation, Rocking Dog

Before Renovation

Table For Two, Rocking Dog

Table For Two

Twilight Dip, Rocking Dog

Twilight Dip

Poolside View, Rocking Dog

Poolside View

Room With A View, Rocking Dog

Room With A View

Vintage Laundry, Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

Village Shop....., Rocking Dog

Village Shop…..

& Village Bar, Rocking Dog

& Village Bar

Local Hilltop Town, Rocking Dog

Local Hilltop Town

Lovely Lake, Rocking Dog

Lovely Lake

Local Crop, Rocking Dog

Local Crop

For The Athletic, Rocking Dog

For The Athletic

....& The Passionate Cake Eater!, Rocking Dog

….& The Passionate Cake Eater!

Gone To Check On the Olives

Olive Groves, Rocking Dog

Olive Groves

Italy bound for a short while.

Meanwhile there is lots going on here while we are away.

Our boy heads out to Rio with the Paralympians on Tuesday. Despite all the negative publicity regarding financial shortfalls etc.. the British athletes are looking forward to the games immensely. Working in Communications for British Athletics, Alex has had the immense privilege to witness first hand the incredible efforts these particular athletes in put in to strive for gold. Good Luck to you all.

Sorrel and Pete celebrate their 5th wedding anniversary whilst we are away. I couldn’t ask for a lovelier and more caring son in law. Sorrel’s not so bad either!! Many congratulations lovely folk.

I can’t leave out little Liv‘, she has been working on Christmas 2016 from just after Christmas 2015. A copywriter for Harrods, the Christmas department is just about to happen. Oh no it isn’t, Oh yes it is!! I loved my gift of fig baubles last year…. i’m not expecting…but…I do NEED a few more decorations!!

Another member of the family to mention. Real Live Rocking Dog is going to be 9 while we are away. Maybe Dougie will allow you a piece of his precious Pek if you are not TOO grumpy!

My lovely niece Iona opens her GCSE results today. Hope you are happy with what’s printed on the paper Iona. Exciting times for the three nieces. We love you all.

Finally, I don’t like being away from my gorgeous friend who has had a monumental challenge to face. You are doing so well, and I am truly in awe of you. Your gorgeous family are… well… frankly gorgeous. I will be back soon with hopefully new things to chatter about and items for you to look at and hold. So love you x

Much love to all Rocking Dog blog readers, thank you for hanging on in there. I really will come back soon with fresh inspiration and the impetus to sew and create. Enjoy the sun x

London 2012, Rocking Dog

London 2012

Wedding Anniversary, Rocking Dog

Wedding Anniversary

Doggy Birthday, Rocking Dog

Doggy Birthday

Cousins, Rocking Dog

Cousins

Harrods Dec's 2015, Rocking Dog

Harrods Dec’s 2015

Love To My Friend, Rocking Dog

Love To My Friend

Rocking Dog’s Dusty Secret!

Land Of Dust & Glory!, Rocking Dog

Land Of Dust & Glory!

The set of old postal shelves by the front door at the kennel are Rocking Dog’s dusty secret! This display unit is often just too difficult to contemplate when I occasionally flit around with the duster. It is the depository for everything small and vaguely attractive.

I bought the shelves on a visit to Walcot Street, Bath about 25 years ago. I purchased this piece together with an old pine cello case. No, I don’t play the cello or indeed any instrument whatsoever. They were cheap. The postal rack has probably come from a factory or office and is pretty rough and ready, but I do sort of love it.

The contents are a mixture of kitsch, throw away, macabre, twee and sentimental. I love my dad Doug’s little metal scoop which he’d made at Kelso High School about 75 years ago. How lovely that his mum carefully kept it, and then that it survived one of my Mum’s decluttering binges!

Another of my dad’s treasures is the little dice throwing cup made of painted wood and aspires to being Chinese. Meanwhile my mum is represented by a little coil pot that she possibly made at teaching college. I feel the silver monogram napkin rings also symbolise my mum. We used napkins regularly, they were bound with old bone napkin rings with appropriate monograms. Very Hyacinth!

I really don’t know how the plaster dentistry casts have survived a cull. They represent years of orthodental treatment for one of the brood, and various dentistry for Andyman. Incidentally I met him as a result of dental work- he’d broken his jaw which was uncomfortably wired. I was a nurse on the surgical ward and well … the rest is history!

Lots of little dogs hide in one of the cubby holes, a mad mix of flock, of lead, china, plastic and wood. Anything vaguely Fox Terrier ticks all the boxes for me!

Some of the dusty treasures have been bought back from our travels. There’s a bisque bride and groom which would have graced a French Wedding Cake in the 1930’s perhaps. I bought the handsome marital pair in the beautiful coastal town of Honfleur. Then there’s the sweet little old black rag doll. I love her beautifully hand stitched clothes and painted toothy grin. I bought her in Seattle when we did a holiday house exchange. She came with the wooden watermelon wedge but I don’t know if they have always been paired.

The 1930’s napkin creatures are made from bakelite and bought from a jumble sale. I haven’t used them for neatly rolled napkins… but maybe one day!

There are Venetian glass sweets, pots and vases, brightly coloured lemon squeezers, miniature bottles, packets and tins. There’s a boot hook, paperweight, farm animals, Russian sequinned bauble and a whole host of dusty flotsam & jetsam!

Kids feel free to brush it all into a bin bag when i’m dead and buried…don’t feel burdened by the nonsense of all my clutter!

Puppy Love, Rocking Dog

Puppy Love

Napkin Creatures, Rocking Dog

Napkin Creatures

Dad's Metalwork, Rocking Dog

Dad’s Metalwork

Plaster Casts, Rocking Dog

Plaster Casts

Roll The Dice!, Rocking Dog

Roll The Dice!

3 Brown Bottles, Rocking Dog

3 Brown Bottles

Silver Monogram, Rocking Dog

Silver Monogram

French Bisque, Rocking Dog

French Bisque

Wooden Watermelon, Rocking Dog

Wooden Watermelon

Iconic Packaging, Rocking Dog

Iconic Packaging

Oh! The Clutter, Rocking Dog

Oh! The Clutter

....And There's More, Rocking Dog

….And There’s More

Mosaic…I’m Trying To Make A Start!

Drying In The Sun, Rocking Dog

Drying In The Sun

Somehow life is like a mosaic… it’s lots of little pieces of this and that, and lots of unexpected patterns and cracks! My plans to get going with decorating an ugly concrete wall in the garden is going slowly.

I have however managed to retrieve a shed load of broken china from the… shed! There are more beautiful shards to archeologically uncover but i’m a bit of a scaredy cat. There are some rather large moths and who knows what else to spook me in the said shed.

Three trays worth of china has been washed and dried in readiness for prettifying the wall. Isn’t it a good job human beings are so clumsy. The loveliest breakages have come from a lovely lady who gave me a cache of broken pots to Charleston-fy my garden. I love the porcelain with vibrant green dragons. It must have looked truly amazing in it’s unbroken format.

Today will not be a mosaic day, I am leading a healthy eating day with a group of Young Carers. We will be making Chicken Faijita’s, Shortcut Meatballs, Sweet potato wedges and a Peach Filo Pie. They will be also guessing how many sugar lumps in various foods. Can you believe that there are 28 lumps of sugar in Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food ?! Gulp!!

The remainder of the week the weather looks a little less favourable. Until I mix my swimming pool grout i’ll keep on being inspired by the likes of Julie Arkell, Cleo Mussi and by the memories of Cuba, the New York subway and Rome.

Last night I rustled together a tray bake supper and I couldn’t help thinking that the ingredients were a colourful Mediterranean mosaic. Smoked Cod, tiny plum tomatoes, heritage potatoes, herbs from the garden, olives and slices of lemon. A delicious quickly constructed mosaic!

Clumsy Cracks, Rocking Dog

Clumsy Cracks

The Wall, Rocking Dog

The Wall

Mosaic Stool, Rocking Dog

Mosaic Stool

Cuban Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Cuban Inspiration

Arkell Inspiration, Rocking Dog

Arkell Inspiration

NY Subway Mosaic, Rocking Dog

NY Subway Mosaic

Roman Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Roman Mosaic

Religious Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Religious Mosaic

Woolly Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Woolly Mosaic

Mussi, Rocking Dog

Mussi

More Mussi!, Rocking Dog

More Mussi!

Mosaic Meal, Rocking Dog

Mosaic Meal

Feeling The Heat In Umbria

Umbrian Sunset, Rocking Dog

Umbrian Sunset

We certainly did feel the heat in Umbria over the weekend. With temperatures in the high 30’s and tipping into the 40’s, it was meltingly hot! I certainly feel more in control of my complex heat regulatory system in the spring or early winter in Umbria. A siesta is an essential part of Italian life, shutters close, shops close up, streets empty, market stallholders pack up, and the nation sleeps or eats, converses or rests.

After a truly delicious lunch under a leafy sun dappled pergola with our hosts, we sought refuge from the searing midday sun. Lloyd Loom chairs in a cool stone portico allowed us to stay outside, but inside. Incidentally, the lunch platter was amazing and included grilled lemon leaf wrapped Scormoza (a smoked mozzarella style cheese). Tomatoes, Parma ham, Ligurian olives, melon, figs and other Italian yumminess made the 4.30am dash to Bristol Airport absolutely worthwhile.

The landscape of Umbria in summer is so very different from that of the beloved olive picking season (late October/early November). The noise of happy and busy Cicada’s fills the air from the time the sun climbs into the sky until the air cools after dusk. Umbrian gardens’ are filled with fragrant lavender, Oleanders, Jasmine and showy Agapanthus. Meanwhile, fields are burgeoning with crops of towering Sunflowers, maize and wheat. Vegetable crops depend on lavish and frequent watering, and tomato plants do not require the protection of glass houses. Swallows swoop down over the pool refreshing their busy sculptural wings. Lizards bask in the sunshine, enjoying the warmth of the thyme frilled paving. Any interruption, and they dart into cool dark crevices seeking solace and protection.

Olives are tiny, they have four long months to plump up, blacken and ripen. The promise of a plentiful harvest is the hope of the entire nation. Nets will be unrolled and laid out, rakes and crates will be gathered, and the camaraderie of another olive picking season will begin.

Monday and Tuesday bought unrelenting heat. The only tangiable escape was to stay in the pool… or to retreat to the house.

A late afternoon stroll in the local hill top town of Panicale took us through shaded winding streets. I loved the tiled orange Madonna and child gracing one of the towns’ houses, its colours seemed to echo the heat of the day. Aperol Spritz’s were enjoyed in the town square- Umbrian sunshine in a glass!

Monday evening and with temperatures gently dwindling, we ventured out to a Lakeside caff’for food. Knowledge of the ordering system was preferable, if not essential. Pull ticket, await number call, hurriedly select food from a large covered glass cabinet. Steak, Calimari, battered vegetables, torte and non battered vegetables chosen, most were given a fiery baptism over charred wood. Another counter, another function, order and collect wine. Other counters, other functions, puddings, cheese, gelato. Pay. Head out to a Pine canopied lake view, tear your own tablecloth from banqueting roll. Eat, chat and watch the sun go down. Total cost about 45 euro’s for the four of us! Sunset truly beautiful and priceless, no digital retouching whatsoever required.

Fleeting visit, hospitable friends, lovely food and gorgeous scenery, molten temperatures and heat filled lethargy!

Welcome Lunch, Rocking Dog

Welcome Lunch

Seeking Shade, Rocking Dog

Seeking Shade

A Dip Perhaps?, Rocking Dog

A Dip Perhaps?

Orange Madonna, Rocking Dog

Orange Madonna

Orange Drink, Rocking Dog

Orange Drink

Busy Bees!, Rocking Dog

Busy Bees!

Lakeside Transport Caf', Rocking Dog

Lakeside Transport Caf’

Golden Veg', Rocking Dog

Golden Veg’

Moonlight Dip Anyone?, Rocking Dog

Moonlight Dip Anyone?

A Showery But Lovely Weekend By The Sea

Anonymous Landscape Artist, Rocking Dog

Anonymous Landscape Artist

Friday, we decided to cut and run! We decided on a showery but lovely weekend by the sea. Why is it always so cossetingly attractive to keep returning to familiar well worn paths? Hence we found ourselves Bridport bound once again, eventually landing up at Highlands End, Eype with our darling Pod.

Real Live Rocking Dog became deliriously happy, well in a grumpy Fox Terrier sort of way when The Pod arrived on the driveway. He jumped in through its door and refused to budge! You almost sensed that he was thinking “Are we there yet?” before we’d even got on the road.

In due course we did arrive in beautiful lush and green Dorset and parked up with a sea view and drizzle. We ate in drizzle, drank a lovely bottle of red in drizzle, and chattered in drizzle…. but we really frankly did not drizzly care!

Saturday dawned bright, and got hotter by the hour. Breakfast for Real Live Rocking Dog when we are camping always means sausages and he couldn’t be happier!

One of the big attractions of being in Bridport is its lovely street market, so after RLR Dog had licked the last sausagey morsel from his lips, it was time for some alfresco retail. I bought a beautiful old sign “Quest Antiquities”, I simply loved the script. Further along we picked up some old wooden handled hoes to decorate the back fence. We passed the lovely Electric Palace theatre, which is so sweet. A few years ago Andyman and I enjoyed seeing The Proclaimers and Billy Bragg there (I’m ashamed to say we are Proclaimer groupies!) Outside the Arts Centre I spied The Flowerfield stall. Beautiful country flowers, lupins, scented sweet peas, poppies and other floral loveliness, all grown on a one acre patch in Ottery St Mary, Devon. I love the whole philosophy of the slow flower movement, sustainable flowers without all the flower miles. A beautiful website Claire, truly florally yummy! Onto West Street I bought mightily healthy cottage garden plants from Charlotte Pitman’s stall. Into the newly dug border they will go this week, and who knows I may be cutting flowers from my disorderly patch later this summer!

After a coffee, Andyman had endured enough retail therapy (or misery!) and decided to take Real Live Rocking Dog on a coastal walk to West Bay and over the cliffs to Eype. I meanwhile rediscovered Butterfly Boho who do a mix of good quality pre-owned clothes and a range of new linen pieces. Lovely. Back to the old, I headed to Old Albion, which is a treasure trove of eclectic pieces- fairground sideshows, old wash tubs, neon signs and other kitschness! I just think I may have found my dog friendly vintage flooring there….. now just where is my tape measure?!

The afternoon was spent with young blood. I popped into see Charlie, a schoolfriend of Sorrel’s who has created a truly vibrant home for her family in Bridport. She is able to create wonderful montages, tableau’s, shelves and walls with not a lot of money but with an imaginative and inventive brain. I loved her blackboard walls, but wondered whether I could get away with scribing “Reminder: flea & worming treatment” attractively in chalk! In with all this creativity and motherly love, Charlie is a trainee midwife, a good one i’m sure. Hugs, chat and tea drunk, it was time to bid adieu and to rejoin the exhausted man and his dog!

A less drizzly meal was eaten before heading onto the beach at Eype. I loved the anonymous pebble artwork. It reminded me of the numerous pebble piles that we spotted when we were at the top of Norway. The cliffs were beautiful with a gentle cloak of mauvey-pink Saxifrage, Red Campion, swathes of grasses and yellow flag Iris’s. Rabbits were enjoying the burgeoning vegetation and were far too quick for Real Live Rocking Dog’s attempts to “play”.

Snuggled up, it rained torrentially seemingly the whole night long. How I love the sound of rain splashing on a caravan roof. It reminds me of our childhood caravan sited at Brean. I remember the sleeping bags, the gas lights with net mantles and the rain noisily plopping whilst we were snugly tucked up.

So the first camping trip of the year now done, it is time to look to pastures new…. Dungeness, Lewes, Arundel, the Mumbles … but there again I can hear Dorset calling us back!

PS. Message for little Devon, hope you are feeling so much better x

Are We There Yet?, Rocking Dog

Are We There Yet?

Sail Away, Rocking Dog

Sail Away

Andyman's Best Friend, Rocking Dog

Andyman’s Best Friend

Bridport Market, Rocking Dog

Bridport Market

Plant Life, Rocking Dog

Plant Life

Butterfly Boho Linens, Rocking Dog

Butterfly Boho Linens

The Flowerfield, Rocking Dog

The Flowerfield

Electric Palace, Rocking Dog

Electric Palace

Old Albion, Rocking Dog

Old Albion

Charlie's Minimalist Life, Rocking Dog

Charlie’s Minimalist Life

Lovely Charlie Shelves, Rocking Dog

Lovely Charlie Shelves

Bristol Bound Boo Hoo!,  Rocking Dog

Bristol Bound Boo Hoo!