Tag Archives: Family

Feathering The Nest To Welcome The Next Generation.

Feathering The Nest,Rocking Dog

Feathering The Nest

We were indeed feathering the nest to welcome the next generation. Sorrel and Pete will meet their little one in April, and before you ask they don’t know what sort they are having! Before the pushing begins at the Birth Centre a big push was needed to try and gain some kind of order in their little London nest.

The family pulled together with paintbrushes, rollers, drills, sandpaper and organisational skills. At times it felt like one of those puzzles where you have to move squares completely out of position in order to get one square into its rightful place! By the end of the weekend ceilings had been painted and walls given further coats. Another scaffold plank shelf had been skilfully drilled into place and numerous mugs of coffee had been drunk.

My girl is SOooo like me, an absolute magpie, minimalism unfortunately does not enter our vocabulary! Wrapping up about one hundred Christmas decorations I thought aloud “Sorrel certainly doesn’t need to inherit my vast collection, she’s simply doing very well on her own!” There is also the monumental sized stash of cookery books….have you heard of online recipes by any chance Sorrel?! Joking aside the couple have some lovely things to display on those scaffold plank shelves. Gradually the boxes that currently engulf what will be nursery will be emptied and the contents distributed to their final destination.

Perhaps work can then focus on the room for the new little person. I anticipate the decoration of this will be for no shrinking violet. I look forward to seeing it develop. There could be an old pram wheel, farm animals and wool pom-poms in the mix! Thankfully in amongst the chaos the main bedroom is a relative haven and there are lovely little vignettes of vintage glamour. Cushions in florals, tapestry, and zingy velvets provide pops of colour against the dramatic backdrop of Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue.

It wasn’t all about painting and DIY, some of us headed to nearby Abbey Wood with Real Live Rocking Dog. There were the remnants of Lesnes Abbey destroyed by Henry VIII, a fantastic wooded daffodil filled walk and distant views to London’s spectacular skyline. I really adored the gated garden there, the planting looked innovative and definitely worth a revisit when the sun really starts to shine. I so love the fact that London has so many wonderful green and surprisingly wild spaces.

We left the couple filling all those shelves. Another DIY onslaught next week with different family members will hopefully see tiled splash backs and skirting boards come to fruition.

Those square puzzle pieces are beginning to find their correct order. It will be lovely, and a sweet little home for welcoming in the next generation.

Thank you to all those lovely folk who helped with the nest building. It was fun.

Wishing you a lovely week. Love Rocking Dog x

Scaffold Plank Shelf,Rocking Dog

Scaffold Plank Shelf

Cook Books Aplenty!,Rocking Dog

Cook Books Aplenty!

Parlez Vous Francais?,Rocking Dog

Parlez Vous Francais?

Vintage Glamour,Rocking Dog

Vintage Glamour

Bohemia,Rocking Dog

Bohemia

Pops Of Colour,Rocking Dog

Pops Of Colour

Tantalising Glimpse,Rocking Dog

Tantalising Glimpse

Meeting His Match!,Rocking Dog

Meeting His Match!

Distant City Skyline,Rocking Dog

Distant City Skyline

A Massive Rocking Dog Thank You!

Rocking Dog Tree, Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Tree

A massive Rocking Dog thank you to all who supported my Rocking Dog winter events. Young Carers and BUST each have a cheque winging its way to them for £132.

Very special thanks to all who came and donated so generously for munching Rocking Dog Mince Pies, Sloe Gin Rocky Road and Alex’s Billionaire’s Shortbread etc… Eating such delicious fare is such a hard job, but someone has to do it!

Massive thanks too for the boys at Hambrook House for their stash of single variety apple juices. All proceeds from their orchard crop went to the charities. Thank you Graeme and Scott.

As ever thanks to my family for stepping in to bake, brew, socialise and tot up.

Thank you to everyone from the bottom of my creaky old heart for your generosity, support, love and friendship x

In The Pink, Rocking Dog

In The Pink

Kitchen Stars,Rocking Dog

Kitchen Stars

New Shoots,Rocking Dog

New Shoots

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

Nellie’s Diary Entry. Remembering VE Day.

The Ages Of Nellie, Rocking Dog

The Ages Of Nellie

I have been thinking about the 70th anniversary of VE Day. I have also remembered my Grandmother Nellie’s diary entry for 8th May 1945. It simply read “War Over. Blackened fireplace.” I love the statement, you’d somehow expect something a little more euphoric after five and a half years of war. It is difficult to fathom her apparent lack of elation considering the family lived on the Essex coast. My Mum recalled witnessing the red glow of London ablaze, terrifying Doodlebugs and the constant drone of aircraft. There were frequent air raids and Mum hated the smell of the rubber gas masks. I remember her telling me that she felt particularly sorry for babies encased in the specially designed Mickey Mouse masks. I don’t think we can appreciate just how simply terrifying it all must have been. Together with the impact of rationing, worrying about loved ones, sleep deprivation, housing and transport difficulties life must have been fraught for the nation.

So…. my Grandmother felt the compelling need to blacken the fireplace on VE day. Nellie’s diary unfortunately was not one of those diaries worthy of inclusion in a museum to demonstrate the plight of those on the home front. Indeed entries were sparse but there were monthly “Red Letter Day” entries. Nellie’s husband Newsome was employed in a reserved occupation and thus at home. Pregnancy could have been a definite and inconvenient wartime possibility.

Wartime rationing left Nellie with a compelling need to hoard food and when she died in 1975 there was much to deal with! I remember numerous jars of Heinz Sandwich Spread, Marmite and Shipphams paste. There were tinned peas, packets of Typhoo tea and bags and bags of sugar. Most disturbingly there was a large bucket of eggs which had been preserved in Isinglass. Isinglass is a substance obtained from the dried air bladders of fish, and it was used to preserve eggs during WW2. The Isinglass would be dissolved in a bucket of water and then the eggs would be submerged in the solution. It would preserve the eggs for between 6 months and a year. We take eggs so much for granted today but during the war the standard weekly ration for a person was 1 egg or a packet of dried egg which equated to twelve eggs. Vegetarians were allocated two eggs. My late Dad recalled loving omelettes made from dried eggs.

Nellie’s 1975 eggs had a grey furry appearance and looked decidedly unappetising, especially in the eyes of three squeamish teenagers! As my mother had also grown up with a wartime “waste not” mentality the eggs in their bucket lurked for a month or two in our house. Eventually, even Mum realised she couldn’t quite bring herself to use the egg hoard.

I include photo’s of family, especially of my Dad who loved his time at sea during WW2. War for Doug strangely provided a wonderful opportunity to see the world, and he sent numerous letters detailing his travels. A stash of letters sent to his aunt and uncle survive and describe in detail stops in Malta, Egypt, the Far East and Australasia. I find it fascinating that my Dad could write, whilst serving in the QARANC in Germany my Mum was always the one who wrote. Very occasionally Dad would add his name and a kiss, and I appreciated that.

Doug’s Certificate of Service has helped me pinpoint where he was in the world at particular points in the war. Indeed I discovered that his ship HMS Belfast, took part in the Scharnhorst Action in the Arctic Circle. The German Battleship “Scharnhorst” was destroyed with the loss of 1,932 men (36 survivors) on 26th December 1943. A few years ago whilst on a cruise up to The North Cape I found it very poignant that I was sailing in the same waters that my Dad was sending and receiving coded messages deep in the bowels of The Belfast. Furthermore, I thought of all those from both sides who had perished at sea, and I shed a tear for them.

I am grateful that my Dad’s letters have miraculously survived, together with a touching archive of naval photo’s, documents and medals.

We as a generation have witnessed the passing of the last veterans of WW1 and now are likely to witness the sad demise of the last veterans of WW2. I feel it is vital to try and gain first hand accounts of war and the home front whilst we still can.

My Dad Could Write!, Rocking Dog

My Dad Could Write!

From A Boy To A Man. WW2, Rocking Dog

From A Boy To A Man. WW2

Fading Family Photo's, Rocking Dog

Fading Family Photo’s

Getting Ready For Redland Fair

Not My Brooch!, Rocking Dog

Not My Brooch!

Sewing, pricing, packing, stamping labels, frouing, Rocking Dog busy getting organised for Redland Fair on Monday. Hope you’ll be able to come and say hello. You might need to bring your brolly and sunglasses, but whatever the weather it’s always fun. To avoid the crowds come early, and bring a blanket to sit and watch the world go by!

Have a lovely weekend whatever part of the world you’re in!

Aga Saga Banner, Rocking Dog

Aga Saga Banner

For Holiday Stash!, Rocking Dog

For Holiday Stash!

Lovely Labels, Rocking Dog

Lovely Labels

Lacy Vintage Bunting, Rocking Dog

Lacy Vintage Bunting

Vintage Table Linen, Rocking Dog

Vintage Table Linen

Bakelite & Mr Morris, Rocking Dog

Bakelite & Mr Morris

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium, Rocking Dog

Postcards From The Front To The Sanitorium

When my siblings and I were growing up we were always aware that our dad Doug did not ever want to lick someone else’s ice cream or to share a glass. He couldn’t abide spitting and couldn’t understand why anyone would ever want to sip wine from the Communion Cup!

He later told us that prior to his birth, his mother Emily had been in a sanitorium at the age of 21 for the treatment of TB. She in fact had to have part of a lung removed. TB Bacilli are passed through sputum, and thus a sneeze, a cough or dribble could pass the infection on. This therefore was the reason why Doug didn’t want to share food or spit on the rugby field!

Emily’s illness can be dated by some postcards which have survived a century. These postcards were sent from her sister Susan, serving as a nurse in France and her brothers Colin, David and Walter who were serving in France and the Middle East. The postcards include images of a mosque in Cairo, a Bedouin lady, pansies, the Dead Sea and interiors of French churches. There are also autographed photographic postcards of the brothers in various uniforms. From the postcards I can certainly deduce that Susan had a very sweet tooth as two of her cards mention a parcel of sweets not having arrived and then another saying thank you for a parcel, “You evidently anticipated my wishes, for when I wrote three days ago I asked for sweets”. Brother Walter who was a sergeant major sent one card from Blackpool where he was convalescing for a war injury, a postcard from one hospital to another!

Emily’s treatment in 1915-1916 would have consisted of bed rest, a nutritious diet, surgery and possibly Creosote inhalations. Fresh air would have also been prescribed. Many hospitals incorporated new balconies where patients could be wheeled out in their beds. In inclement weather black mackintosh quilts would be provided. I was very envious of a friend who bought a bargainous sun house that swivelled around on a circular track. This was originally from a sanatorium, for the use of TB patients and it allowed the patients to “move” around with the sun.

Treatment of TB even today is very tricky and lengthy. It involves large doses of antibiotics. In 1815 one in four deaths in England was due to TB. Even 100 years later when Emily was being treated, 50% of those who went to a sanatorium, died within five years. There was quite a stigma attached to the disease as it was often linked to overcrowding, malnutrition and poverty. I am unaware of how Emily’s treatment was funded, though the family were reasonably prosperous. These of course were the days before the NHS.

Eventually, Emily did recover and she was advised to move from Edinburgh to somewhere more rural for good country air. Incidentally, Edinburgh was sometimes called Auld Reekie, translated it means Old Smokey! She moved to the border town of Kelso, and there she met John Warrington Scott (my grandfather) who had been invalided out of the Royal Engineers having been gassed in the trenches….. and the rest as we say is history!

Emily and Brother Colin, Rocking Dog

Emily And Brother Colin

Century Old Postcards, Rocking Dog

Century Old Postcards

Handsome Siblings, Rocking Dog

Handsome Siblings

Doug And The Legendary Lie Detector

Guardian Of The Little Black Box, Rocking Dog

Guardian Of The Little Black Box

This sombrero’d piece of 60’s kitsch now resides in my sewing room. Originally it lived in my childhood home and never really saw the light of day. Instead, this tourist treasure stood sentinel over my Dad Doug’s little black box. Housed on the top shelf of his wardrobe it shared space with Doug’s Homburg hat (remember everyone but everyone wore a hat to a funeral),and life’s inevitable flotsam and jetsam. There was also more than likely a secretive stash of chocolate. Poor Dad it became ever more problematic to hide Fry’s Chocolate Cream bars, Raspberry Ruffle’s, Crunchie’s and Mars bars from the tentacles of three human gannets! How jubilant were we if we found one of these confectionary hideouts- the garage was a favourite. Dad then had to go back to the drawing board to plot an evermore inventive hidey-hole.

Back to the wardrobe, the little black box was a slightly scary enigma when we were growing up. This was Dad’s Lie Detector. When none of us would own up to a wrong doing, the threat of the little black box being brought out was enough for the felon to come forward! I vividly remember an occasion when I sprayed an exterior porch wall with gold spray paint. I would not own up…so..the little black box was threatened. As per usual the threat did the trick and no doubt I got a smacked bottom!

So what was the little black box? Dad served in the Royal Navy telegraphist in WW2 sending and receiving important Morse Code messages, perhaps this was a relic from his naval days ? Certainly not, for this was a simple door bell box cover! I remember the three of us precariously balancing on a chair on tiptoes trying to reach the little back box, desperately trying to dispel the mystique!

Even little pottery Mexican man had a degree of mystery, full of loose change I always thought he was a Chinaman. Only recently did I really carefully look at him and begin suspecting he was brought back from a 1960’s Spanish package holiday together with some Flamenco dancer postcards.

My Dad Doug, Rocking Dog

My Dad Doug

Hola! Rocking Dog

Hola!

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!

The Dog Concocts A Tipple For Fashionista’s !

Raw Ingredients, Rocking Dog

Raw Ingredients

This won’t be ready to serve up to front row London Fashion Week goers, but in 40 days time this Vin D’Orange will be ready to quaff!

I couldn’t resist the very last of the season’s Seville oranges, especially as they were reduced. With enough Marmalade to see us through the year, these oranges are for a blush coloured tipple and a robust Orange and Apricot Chutney.

I haven’t tried Vin D’Orange before, so it’s a little bit of an experiment. Very easy to make I hope it will taste simply divine. Perhaps when it’s been filtered and bottled i’ll serve it up with little fragments of gold leaf in sparkling antique cocktail glasses, put the gramophone on and attempt the Charleston ….or not!

This post harks back to the heady days of the 1930’s when life was a blast as long as you weren’t affected by the Great Depression. The Savoy Cocktail Book was printed in 1930 and an exciting find in my Mother in Law’s garage. It was originally destined for the bin, and now resides in a cabinet with other coveted historical food books. I love its wonderful Art Deco illustrations and unlike my contemporary cookery books this one is perfect with no splashes or splats!

As for the tablecloth, I bought that from a shop in Clifton Arcade and it’s an original Deco cloth which I in fact usually wear as a scarf. Meanwhile the photo of the wonderful bathing beauties are of Andyman’s Grandmother Nancy, and relative Chrissie. Probably taken on a shiveringly cold Scottish beach the 1930’s image exudes the era with parasols, modest swimsuits and swim hats. The clock is powered electrically, and with its jade green and cream colour it is typical of the period. Unfortunately I couldn’t lay my hands on my Deco cocktail shakers, no doubt they are bundled up very unceremoniously in my stupendously untidy cellar!

Lets hope these oranges do their magic over the next month and that we find something lovely to toast.

Cocktail Time!, Rocking Dog

Cocktail Time!

Golden Days, Rocking Dog

Golden Days

Seville Orange Magic, Rocking Dog

Seville Orange Magic