Tag Archives: Cuba

It’s A New Dawn, A New Day, The New 2017

But The Kid Is Not My Son!,Rocking Dog

But The Kid Is Not My Son!

Indeed it’s a new dawn, a new day, and the new 2017! Wishing everyone a VERY Happy New Year. I know it’s very rare for me to share a picture of me, I so stay away from camera’s, and please do tell me what a selfie is! So …this is my favourite portrait of the year, but the kid is not my son! Toby is my sons old school friend and we share the same wayward hair.

I am rather glad to be seeing 2016 out. It really has been a finger gripping twisty turny roller coaster ride, both world news-wise and for us as a family personally.

Who would have ever believed that we would be going into 2017 with Donald Trump soon to be residing in the White House? We are living in difficult and uncertain times. Somewhat unrealistically I hope that 2017 brings peace to Syria, a halt to terrorist atrocities and a real desire by worldwide leaders to utilise diplomacy, cohesiveness and wisdom.

Andyman and colleagues have had a difficult year, much too complicated to explain. However, with the rubbish of 2016 hopefully behind them, a new dawn beckons. I am so full of admiration for the group who stood up to bully boy tactics! We are gradually sleeping less fractiously and stress levels have subsided, phew!

There have been so many lovely things that have happened in 2016 and I am forever grateful for amazing friends and family. We have shared a wonderful wedding (Kylie & Alex), when the sun shone, bagpipes played, Motown band got us all dancing and the girls and I cooked for 120!

I loved my role as judge at the local flower show in July, though I did have to taste some rather unpalatable things. I hope i’ll be asked back, it was fun and made me giggle. I’m rather hoping in 2017 i’ll get to go to an together more prestigious flower show, Chelsea. Love it!

We visited lovely places both near and far. Cuba was a particular highlight, an amazing country where I had the humiliating experience of being kicked out of a Salsa class (my mother always said I had two left feet!). We enjoyed visits to Umbria culminating in buying some ancient olive trees with a little apartment close by to watch them grow. Incidentally if anyone fancies watching our olives ripen, it’s available to rent and i’ll post a link later this week. Feel very blessed.

The sewing machine has rattled through various projects (wedding coat, cushions, blinds, stockings etc..) and i’m about to start on my hollyhock quilt. I have fathomed that there are enough delicious vintage materials to make myself an heirloom quilt. How lovely that I have built up a few omnibus editions of The Archers- perfect!

Sewing this year has been a wonderful bonding and rehabilitative craft for a lovely friend who is currently in the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit at Frenchay. Her family have been truly amazing, and I have been humbled by their love, strength, energy and innovation. As for my friend I have no words to describe how brave and determined she is. 2017 there’ll be more sewing, fabric painting and the like with lovely friend. Wishing for progress and continued support and love for all.

Still on a bit of a sewing, crafty theme I really want to start a kitchen table group at the kennel- Stitch ‘n Bitch/ Knit & Natter sort of thing. Haven’t come up with a name- but one eve a month to bring a nodule of crafty stuff and to talk and eat cake, simple. I was thinking of hosting this the last Wednesday in the month 7-9pm ish. Anyone interested, please shout!

There is much to look forward to in 2017, as well as an absolute purge on the house and garden. Paint is flaking, weeds are a growing, damp needs to be kept at bay, a shed needs dismantling and the list keeps growing!  When most folk are in bed I hope to keep on blogging and hope the inspiration for posts keeps on coming.

Have a wonderful 2017, may it bring you and your families many lovely things.

Love Rocking Dog x

Alex & Kylie, Rocking Dog

Alex & Kylie

Sorrel & Pete,Rocking Dog

Sorrel & Pete

Our Liv',Rocking Dog

Our Liv’

Places We Went,Rocking Dog

Places We Went

Cuba,Rocking Dog

Cuba

& Closer To Home,Rocking Dog

& Closer To Home

Glamping....Rocking Dog

Glamping….

...Umbrian Pad,Rocking Dog

…Umbrian Pad

Flower Show Judge,Rocking Dog

Flower Show Judge

Maker Of Coats...Rocking Dog

Maker Of Coats…

..& Cushions...Rocking Dog

..& Cushions…

....Quilts...&,Rocking Dog

….Quilts…&

Helping Others To Make,Rocking Dog

Helping Others To Make

House To Spruce,Rocking Dog

House To Spruce,

& Garden To Conquer!,Rocking Dog

& Garden To Conquer!

Rocking Dog Post Number 300 With Love

Not Meat & Two Veg'!, Rocking Dog

Not Meat & Two Veg’!

Indeed this morning’s post is number 300 out of the kennel! I can hardly believe that over 4 months have passed since the 250th milestone blog post. So much has happened in that four months, much of it lovely, including our long awaited trip to Cuba and THE wedding. However, life is incredibly unpredictable. Things have arisen recently that have been so damned heartbreaking and unfair. I never cease to be amazed by the strength fellow human beings find to deal with complex situations, that rallying positive spirit which cajoles others to keep optimistic. It really is working. Therefore, it has been a real privilege to witness such constant love, devotion and care. I am in awe of you all, including all the lovely medical staff.

My 300th post is a food related one, four days of Rocking Dog food.

Thursday evening starts my four day food odyssey. Friends for supper and I shopped and cooked in a three hour time frame. It was a guinea pig meal (i.e… recipes I had stashed but not tried and tested before) We ate Moroccan Salmon baked in foil and served with minted yogurt, pita and a chopped salad. The recipe advocated that the salmon be put foil parcelled on a barbecue, my oven seemed to do the job perfectly adequately. Incidentally have you ever heard the tale of being able to cook a whole salmon in a dishwasher set on a medium programme?! Pudding came in the form of a tart, this time a Coconut, mango and lime tart. I made my own shortcrust pastry using lime zest and juice, but a shop bought pastry would be a perfect shortcut. The meal got the thumbs up, so the recipes got filed in tried and tested!

Friday evening, Meals on Wheels! A meal taken to friends and then enjoyed with them. Another Persian inspired meal. Ottolenghi’s Lamb Shawarma, which involved marinating a leg of lamb in a spicy aromatic rub overnight. Cooked for 4 hours the thickly sliced lamb was accompanied by a chopped salad (tomatoes, diced cucumber, spring onions, lemon juice), and a red cabbage salad (red cabbage, pomegranate, fresh herbs, pomegranate molasses). Pita stuffed with a tomatoey harissa paste, homemade hummus (Ottolenghi’s recipe, naturally) and saffron roasted Charlotte potatoes completed the feast. Pudding was more French than Persian – a tart case filled with creme patisserie and glazed raspberries. As you already know I love Ottolenghi and am particularly fond of his “Jerusalem’ book.

Saturday evening, a party to go to in a lovely garden. A pudding to take…. ah..what shall i do? 8oz Victoria sponge mix. Cakes baked, sponges sliced through. Cakes sprinkled with strong black coffee and Tia Maria and then layered up with grated chocolate and whipped double cream/Mascarpone. Cake cling filmed and refrigerated overnight. Getting dressed up for the party it was given a generous coating of the Mascarpone/cream mixture dusted with cocoa, finely ground coffee, and grated chocolate. Final embellishing was a broken Easter egg and some gold stars. Voila! you will go to the ball!

Sunday evening, three hours of ironing and about the same of gardening I wasn’t keen to spend much time slaving in the kitchen. I rustled up a simple but pretty salad, Red cabbage and gorgonzola salad with blackberry balsamic dressing. It was meant to have viola flowers in the mix, not having any trusty little pansy flowers I picked some dramatic royal blue flowers from the garden. I did give Andyman a health warning not to eat the said flowers as i’d forgotten what the species was! I think the jury’s out on this salad, and I don’t know whether the recipe will make the cut for the Rocking Dog recipe file.

There are some foodie events on the horizon for Rocking Dog this week. Wednesday sees me doing a session for Rangeworthy and Bagstone WI. I am going to be whizzing up some simple savoury and sweet canapés. I am sure these ladies will pass on some of their culinary wizardry and I look forward to meeting them.

Saturday sees me help with judging the food and drink entries at Frenchay Flower Show. Yikes! what a responsibility. I don’t want to be a hunted woman, I know just how competitive these shows get. I hope I won’t have to try anything too disgusting, cloudy wines, eggy quiches and trifle would be nightmare scenario’s. I have obviously come of age, and so it must be the time to don a tweed suit, sensible shoes and a string of pearls….. or perhaps not!

So I guess my 350th post will fall when the leaves are indeed falling. I’m hoping there’ll be lots of corners turned, lots of blazing light at the end of the tunnel for friends, and the ever present wonders of just how amazing and special the people around me are. Thank you x

Fish On Thursday, Rocking Dog

Fish On Thursday

A Tart On Thursday, Rocking Dog

A Tart On Thursday

Minted Yoghurt & Pita, Rocking Dog

Minted Yoghurt & Pita

Friday's Fodder, Rocking Dog

Friday’s Fodder

Lamb Shawarma, Rocking Dog

Lamb Shawarma

Jaffa Pita Pockets, Rocking Dog

Jaffa Pita Pockets

Friday's Tart, Rocking Dog

Friday’s Tart

Saturday's Cake, Rocking Dog

Saturday’s Cake

Add Some Bling!, Rocking Dog

Add Some Bling!

Another Peek In Rocking Dog’s Wardrobe

Hello Summer!, Rocking Dog

Hello Summer!

With post wedding exhaustion in full throttle, last week I settled on carrying out simple tasks that did not require a huge amount of brain boggling thought or physical capability. One job involved bringing summer into my wardrobe. I thought you’d perhaps like another peek in Rocking Dog’s wardrobe. February 2015 was the last time I opened the doors, and unfortunately not a tremendous amount has changed!

I still have a predominantly black winter “uniform”, with a switch to white for the summer. Somewhat scruffy dog walking garb however tends to dominate my everyday clothing decisions. Needless to say brightly coloured sale price “Hunter” wellies are the all year round very practical footwear choice!

Sadly, there have been no major buying splurges to report. Last weeks sort involved moving black wool, velvet and other wintry fabrics into hibernation. How I enjoy having a spare wardrobe or two now that Andyman and I are empty nesters! With all the cuddly warm wooliness huddled into its new home I could transfer the somewhat lighter brighter garments into my wardrobe. With our recent trip to Cuba the linens had enjoyed a very brief tropical encounter, but it was now time to make the brave decision that the English summer had indeed arrived!

The cream wool Toast tunic which i’d just bought in February ’15 I am sorry to say remains unworn. The winter has simply been too mild and i’m too warm blooded! Hopefully winter 2016 will bring snow and frosts. Indeed my plethora of market bought Italian wool coats haven’t been given much of an outing either! Inpenetrable suit carriers will swathe the wools and silk velvets from the destructive chomping jaws of a fleet of moths. I will add Rocking Dog crooked hearts for further protection and hopefully my clothes will escape unscathed when Autumn and the need for warm garments returns.

Summer wardrobe installed, I surveyed my colourful closet. Linen has an awful reputation for being high maintenance and to crease easily. However, I love the feel of cotton and freshly pressed linen against my skin. Textiles which include synthetic threads can make me hot and bad tempered, flushed and murderous! I can’t ever imagine a time when I won’t want to wear linen. If and when the time comes that i’m simply too gnarled and infirm to use an iron i’ll just have to employ a butler! Many of my linen pieces have been coming out for the past six or seven years or so. East, M & S, Zara, Laura Ashley and John Lewis are worth a look, especially when they have their summer sales.

Regarding buying clothes, I still don’t like paying full price for anything. I still use my hard and fast rule that if I see a bargain I will ask myself “If money allowed, would I pay full price for the item?”. If the answer is a decisive yes i’d hurtle to the cash desk, and if no, i’d leave the bargain hanging there. I’m still not an internet shopper, I like the experience of just seeing what’s out there, to feel fabrics and look at trends. A fashionista I am absolutely not, but I adore people watching and looking to see what shoppers are trying on and buying.

Now, a quick rundown of some of the images I have included in this post. We’ve dealt with the winter wools, the velvets and the unworn jumper.

The wedding coat.. my latest item in the wardrobe, and the infamous garment I made very tentatively from Christian Lacroix curtain fabric (Ebay remnant). This was the first dress making i’d done since the 1980’s and not a shoulder pad in sight! I really enjoyed the process and could there be another coat in the offing?! The Vintage Coat has a degree of man made fabric in it’s composition, and so it does tend to make me hot and ratty on occasions! However, I like the shape and colour and it’s become a really useful wardrobe staple. I bought this coat in a favourite charity shop a few years ago for a tenner. The last coat of the trio is one my sister made for me about 35 years ago. Made from heavy linen union I have always loved it. Being floral I confidently wore it to Chelsea Flower Show last year. Thanks sis”!

Ah yes.. the itchy jacket. I love this jacket, but it is itchy. I need to have neck and wrists “lined” to wear this one. I’m sure we all have an item or two in the wardrobe that we have to brace ourselves for, be it a nose tickling angora cardi’ or skirt that mysteriously rises up for some reason!

The latest Liberty buy. Whilst on my recent foray to Liberty I spotted these lovely wide legged lounge pants. Calf length and with pockets, they are far too nice to just lounge around in, I think they’ll be part of my cooling hot weather wardrobe! Uniqlo have collaborated with Liberty for this range and at £12.90 these pants are bargainous! I never discount leisure/sleep wear as something I can wear out.

Full Price Garb’. Very occasionally I do pay full price for something and this outfit was indeed one of those times. Made from Lithuanian silk this top and pantaloon trouser get up was bought in Edinburgh for a wedding & other social event five years ago. Made by Grizas I have loved wearing this. One of the best features is that it requires absolutely no ironing!

Parisian Flea. I bought this skirt a few years ago in the Montmartre district of Paris, in a secondhand clothes shop. I paid about 10 euro for it and I still love it. The draped tulip shape reminds me of the designs of Paul Poiret and harks back to enjoyable nights watching The House of Elliot! A simple black light weight jumper and quirky shoes, I can still see me wearing it in ten years time.

Poppy Love. I haven’t worn this skirt a great deal, a full length organza skirt isn’t something you can wear everyday. I bought it in Jigsaw for a commemorative event around the same time as Remembrance Sunday. I adore it, despite it being quite brown. Brown is a colour I do not enjoy wearing. Maybe it relates to the fact that I had to wear brown when I had a Saturday job at Debenham’s, and further back my mum quite often put me in brown because I had brown eyes. My sister meanwhile was dressed in the more cheery blue garments because she had blue eyes!

Back In The Box. My lovely wedding shoes. Unconventional I know, but as youngest daughter said “Mum you aren’t really Kate Middleton nude shoe material are you!”

So there it is a little whizz through the Rocking Dog wardrobe. What treasures lurk in your wardrobe and do you have any good shopping tips? Please tell all!

Hope the week is a happy one for you all. Love Rocking Dog x

Goodbye Winter!, Rocking Dog

Goodbye Winter!

Still Unworn, Rocking Dog

Still Unworn

Velvets No More!, Rocking Dog

Velvets No More!

Wedding Coat, Rocking Dog

Wedding Coat

Vintage Coat, Rocking Dog

Vintage Coat

1980's Floral Coat, Rocking Dog

1980’s Floral Coat

Itchy Jacket, Rocking Dog

Itchy Jacket

Latest Liberty Buy, Rocking Dog

Latest Liberty Buy

Full Price Garb', Rocking Dog

Full Price Garb’

Parisian Flea, Rocking Dog

Parisian Flea

Poppy Love, Rocking Dog

Poppy Love

Back In The Box, Rocking Dog

Back In The Box

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

Rocking Dog Loves A Bit Of Mosaic!

Fusterlandia Is  Fabulously Fantastical!, Rocking Dog

Fusterlandia Is Fabulously Fantastical!

Just before heading out to Cuba I chanced upon a blog “Everybody Hates A Tourist“. It featured Fusterlandia, and I knew that as a lover of mosaic I just simply had to visit.

A day after our arrival in Havana, Andyman and I found ourselves in a taxi travelling along the coast to the seaside town of Jaimanitas. Here the artist Jose Fuster has spent the last 30 years creating an enclave Casa de Fuster. Not content with the embellishment of his own abode, his art has continued onto the walls and facades of another eighty properties in this sunny little town. Fuster has somewhat appropriately been nicknamed Picasso of the Caribbean.

I loved being in this bonkers place and not since Barcelona had I seen such a run of mosaic. It was certainly a real highlight of our Cuban trip. Returning to our taxi we asked two taxi drivers whether it was correct that Fidel Castro lived in the town. We were met with dismissiveness, when I said that the information appeared in our guidebook they grudgingly whispered that it was indeed true but not to point a camera in a certain direction! All very secretive.

My first brush with mosaic, or rather, broken china was as a child. The village shop in Frenchay had a wall containing shards of china and Edwardian tiles, and my siblings and I loved it. I remember we all selected the pieces of china we each liked best. Though the shop is no more, having been turned into a private residence some years ago, the china wall reassuringly remains.

Mosaic of an altogether different quality can be found at the Duomo in Orvieto. Its gilded mosaic embellishments, positively glinted in the November sunshine and looked spectacular against the cloudless blue sky. Meanwhile still in Italy we spent a glorious morning discovering the ancient harbour city of ancient Rome- Ostia Antica. As a result of silting, the site now lies 3km inland and is incredibly well preserved. I loved some of the mosaic floors which would have graced public baths and private villas.

In past posts I have mentioned my admiration of Cleo Mussi and Julie Arkell. Both are skilled in their use of broken pot. I love my Julie Arkell heart shaped brooch which features the quote “Looking at the sea drinking tea”, somewhat ironic because I hate tea!

My shed harbours a large box of china ready for a new phase of garden mosaic. Last year I got as far as buying the swimming pool grout… so this year maybe, just maybe, will be the year I create Fusterlandia!

Fantastical Fusterlandia!, Rocking Dog

Fantastical Fusterlandia!

More...., Rocking Dog

More….

...& There's More!, Rocking Dog

…& There’s More!

Orvieto Duomo, Rocking Dog

Orvieto Duomo

Roman Port  Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Roman Port Mosaic

Village Shop, Rocking Dog

Village Shop

Mussi Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Mussi Mosaic

Arkell Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Arkell Mosaic

Rocking Dog Mosaic, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Mosaic

Rocking Dog Recreates Cuban Moors And Christians

Rocking Dog's Moors & Christians With Lamb Kofte's, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog’s Moors & Christians With Lamb Kofte’s

Rocking Dog was keen to recreate Cuban Moors and Christians- how lovely it is to get cooking again! I must admit I felt incredibly guilty about the choice, quality and quantity of food on offer to me at the supermarket following our Cuban trip. A Communist country, the Cuban people are still in receipt of rationed food. The system was initially introduced by Minister of Economy, Che Guevara in 1962. Rather like Great Britain in WW2 the main householder has a ration book listing additional family members and their ages together with any dietary/special requirements (i.e… vegetarian or particular health problem). One shop (a Bodega) is allocated for a householder to pick up their rationed goods with each ration book (Libreta) lasting one year. With the average Cuban earning around $20 dollars a month the ration book allows the right to purchase basic foodstuffs for nominal prices. Prior to the Soviet Union stopping financial aid to Cuba in the 1990’s there were many more items which could be bought using the Libreta. Giving you a rough idea of the items currently on the list.. (one persons allocation per month) 5 Eggs, 1/2 lb chicken, 5lb rice, 10oz red beans, 1lb white sugar, 1lb brown sugar, I bread roll (daily), cup of cooking oil. Children until the age of seven together with the elderly are allocated 1 litre of milk a day.

These allocated rationed goods last the average individual about 10 days. To cope with the shortfall the householder needs then to buy food at significantly higher prices than the prescriptive rationed goods. There is a rife black market, especially for milk which is notoriously difficult to purchase.

Staying predominantly in Casas Particulares (a room in a private family home) the families looked after us very well. To buy food to give us for breakfast and on occasions an evening meal, hosts used their family rations together with food bought using income from hosting travellers. I presume tips would also be helpful in keeping things ticking over. Fruit, bread and omelettes commonly featured for breakfast. Evening meals eaten both in the Casa P’s and restaurants almost inevitably included rice (imported generally from China and Vietnam). The rice often included beans, Moors and Christians.

The Moors refers to the black beans whilst the Christians applies to the rice. For seven centuries the Moors and Christians fought each other in Spain and this staple of Cuban cuisine brings the harmony of these two simple ingredients together. There are various versions, some recipes where the beans and rice are bought together towards the end of the cooking and others where the beans and rice are cooked together resulting in a darker looking dish. I served my Moors and Christians with some easily prepared Yotam Ottelenghi lamb Koftes with a tahini sauce. Delicious!

Two Cuban meals really stand out for Andyman and I. On our second last day we went in search of Cafe de los Artistas which was recommended by The Guardian. It was tucked away in a shaded leafy little street in Havana and we ate a delicious bowl of tender octopus together with some roasted vegetables. The other memorable meal was one at San Cristobal, a Paladar (a private home run restaurant) in a rather rundown neighbourhood of Havana. We had been told that the Obama’s had been there a few days earlier for lunch. The surroundings were amazing with Art Nouveau wall tiles, antique clocks, eccentric pictures and posters, chandeliers, wooden toucans etc.. even the bathrooms were worthy of being photographed! We shared battered lobster with aioli, and then went on to have steak with pepper sauce and country style potateoes. Lola’s Cup followed, vanilla ice cream with creme caramel. I wonder who Lola was! The staff were truly lovely and it was a magical way to end our trip to Cuba.

The Bodega, Rocking Dog

The Bodega

Bodega Price List, Rocking Dog

Bodega Price List

Crocodillo's, Rocking Dog

Crocodillo’s

Cuban Snack, Rocking Dog

Cuban Snack

Stairway To Eat, Rocking Dog

Stairway To Eat

Delicious Dish, Rocking Dog

Delicious Dish

Obama's Haunt, Rocking Dog

Obama’s Haunt

San C' Dining, Rocking Dog

San C’ Dining

Lobster To Share, Rocking Dog

Lobster To Share

Rocking Dog’s Amazing Cuban Odyssey!

Backstreet Che, Rocking Dog

Backstreet Che

Yes, Rocking Dog has buzzed on back having been on an amazing Cuban Odyssey! I am somewhat jet lagged, but relieved to be back from the heat and 86% humidity levels. I just wanted to post a few photo’s to give a flavour of this amazing country. I’d love to do a few posts to give more detail of this complicated country, but in short hand I was expelled from a Salsa lesson, had a gecko adhered to my face in a busy restaurant, Andyman fell in love with ALL the classic American cars and we shared a B&B with some live crocodiles! Oh, and did I mention that we went to the historical Rolling Stones concert. Those boys despite being able to draw their pensions rocked the audience almost non stop for 2 & 1/2 hours in the Havanian night heat…amazing! I have to report that a large number of Cubans had no idea who the Rolling Stones were.

The food i’m afraid will not require numerous blog posts. In fact there was a great deal of Imodium passing hands between the group we travelled with. It’s funny but unlike an American group who were coming to blows on their bus about US politics (I wonder why!) we were very reserved about politics, sex and religion. On the other hand our ablutions were completely another matter! Love to all the fellow Explore travellers who came from all walks of life and ranged through from twenty somethings, to adventurous baby boomers. It was a real pleasure to rub along together ( and very literally, in the Russian truck!) and to share a Mojito with you.

Thank you so much to Explore for a wonderful trip and thank you to Wendy Dowe at Dorchester Travel who valiantly wriggled us out of a posh hotel and all inclusive resort (phew!). Experiencing and seeing the real Cuba with Explore was a true privilege. Thank you also to the Tropicana Penthouse for accommodating us either side of the trek, the sunrises and sunsets on the roof terrace overlooking the sea and Havana were breathtaking.

A bed without a shiny satin cover and lace pillowcases looks seriously appealing, as does a night without cockerels cawing at 1 am onwards!

I hope you’ll allow me to share a few more photo’s over the next couple of days.

Grazias for tuning back in.

Love a cooler (heat-wise) and seriously inspired Rocking Dog x

Cruising Che, Rocking Dog

Cruising Che

Sunrise Over Havana, Rocking Dog

Sunrise Over Havana

Breakfast In A Basket, Rocking Dog

Breakfast In A Basket

One Man's Madness, Rocking Dog

One Man’s Madness

Daily Dose Band, Rocking Dog

Daily Dose Band

Farming Cuban Style, Rocking Dog

Farming Cuban Style

Obama Woz 'Ere!, Rocking Dog

Obama Woz ‘Ere!

Deity, Rocking Dog

Deity

Can You Salsa?!, Rocking Dog

Can You Salsa?!

B&B Crocodile!, Rocking Dog

B&B Crocodile!

The Butchers, Rocking Dog

The Butchers

Banana Bloom, Rocking Dog

Banana Bloom

Fly Me To The Moon- Travel Bags

Made With Love By Rocking Dog, Rocking Dog

Made With Love By Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog is once again busy sewing. The latest project is a delicious pile of lined travel bags, made from dog tooth gingham and appliqué plane patches. Hellicopter’s will soon join the fleet! These little bags would be great for stowing toys and treats for a voyage. Of course it wouldn’t need to be a plane journey, but personally I rather fancy a flight to Cuba before it changes forever!

When the Ferguson brood were little we used to do some endlessly long car journey’s to Scotland. Part of the packing preparation was given to wrapping distraction parcels to break the journey. Of course there were the games too, the picnic and the music. How I remember us all belting out “Proclaimers” songs as we headed through the Cairngorms and beyond. It was definitely “I will drive 500 miles” rather than “I will walk 500 miles”!

What would you fill your Rocking Dog travel bag with? My dream bag would contain some Cowshed or L’Occitane travel products, a World of Interiors magazine, a bottle of Purdey’s, my Moleskine to write notes, lipstick and a BIG bar of Cadbury’s Fruit & Nut!

Plane Sewing, Rocking Dog

Plane Sewing

Choosing Buttons, Rocking Dog

Choosing Buttons

Chocks Away!, Rocking Dog

Chocks Away!