Tag Archives: Frenchay Flower Show

The Week That Was, Life’s Rich Tapestry

Kaffe Fassett's Rich Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Kaffe Fassett’s Rich Tapestry

Life has been a rich tapestry of differing threads since my last post. There has been a trip to Bath and a lovely meet up with son, daughter in law and sparkling new little Freddie. Apart from the delight of a new baby to cuddle, how rewarding it is to watch your children parent. After coffee and cake and a well meaning mother in law .. “you need to rest”, (I really wasn’t asking for a Victorian six week lying in period…honest!) I took my leave. “Makery” Roman blind instructions picked up, I chanced upon Kaffe Fassett and Candace Bahouth’s exhibition “A Celebration of Flowers” at the Victoria Art Gallery. It was spectacularly colourful and temptingly tactile. There was patchwork, mad mosaic, needlepoint and painting. Eye poppingly inspirational.

I finished my second Rocking Dog patchwork quilt of the year earlier in the week and it will be shortly leaving the kennel to grace and warm another bed. The blind is indeed next in the queue and then a back up of other makes ranging from quilts, a certain wedding coat and Rocking Dog prototypes. The unused overlocker is looking forlorn and needs some dedicated time to make it feel loved and needed. It really is the elephant in the workroom!

The weekend was glorious so with Andyman away playing his flaming bagpipes on the Isle of Man a friend and I spontaneously took ourselves to The Pig near Bath. We had a relaxing afternoon in the garden eating wood fired flatbread and posh choc ice. It was one of those blissful English summer days and was completed by the inevitable meander around the delightful kitchen garden.

A large mountain of ironing, admin’ and a half hearted attempt at cleaning were the more mundane bits of the week, a domestic tapestry!

Flowers were picked for a bright 88 year old neighbour and somehow we ended up reading snake poems by DH Lawrence and Sylvia Plath. We also talked about the frustrations of age related failing faculties. Unfortunately I know you won’t be reading this Molly, but you are AMAZING! Interested and Interesting, together with being a fount of knowledge on “Time-Team”!

Stem ginger scones were baked and given. How delicious they are served with apricot conserve and clotted cream. Not much else to report on the cooking front.

I have been trying to tie up my WW1 Flower Show table for 14th July. My brain is rather full. I know i’m slightly barking as i’m signing present day forms etc.. with a 1918 date. Oops! This week I have been researching eggs and how they were collected for wounded soldiers. There was a National Campaign set up by Frederick Carl, editor of “Poultry World” who classed eggs as as a superfood for the wounded. Even pre-war many families kept a few hens, but now the campaign encouraged hen owners to donate an egg or two for ailing soldiers. Children in particular were encouraged to get involved with the egg campaign and the eggs were often collected together on school premises. In November 1914 a target of 20,000 eggs a week was set to send to the wounded in Boulogne. By August 1915 over a million eggs were received for overseas. This figure didn’t include those eggs that had been sent directly to local hospitals. In the course of the war 32 million eggs had been sent to hospitals in France and Belgium.

Many of the eggs arrived with the soldiers complete with decoration, patriotic messages and names & addresses. This sometimes led to pen pal correspondence and even a wedding! I started researching eggs because in the local parish magazines of the Great War period there were poultry husbandry meetings held at the village hall. I wanted to ascertain the relevance and importance of such meetings.

So indeed there will be a display of WW1 inspired decorated eggs on my Flower Show table.

Today I am visiting my last soldiers grave in Trealaw Cemetery the Rhondda, Wales. Driver John Noble Winter of the Royal Field Artillery died from wounds 17th April 1916. Born in Winterbourne, Gloucestershire by the 1901 census he is 19 years old and working as a coal hewer. Untangling a short life is a brain boggling investigative tapestry. Later today The Remember Me Project will have laid the last poppy on British soil and number 45 of the 53 Whiteshill Memorial names. We Will Remember Them.

I hope your weekend is filled with threads of wonderful things, creating your own rich and diverse life tapestry.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS. Our bath, yes that old chestnut, is on its way! Currently it is out in the ocean after a port of call in Kuwait. Rather like Parcel Force you can track its movements using Vessel Finder, very exotic! It will eventually head up the Suez Canal, it’s taking provenance to the extreme… but then I always love a good story!

Mad Mosaic,Rocking Dog

Mad Mosaic

Kaffe's Patches,Rocking Dog

Kaffe’s Patches

My Patches,Rocking Dog

My Patches

Food Tapestry,Rocking Dog

Food Tapestry

Posh Choc' Ice,Rocking Dog

Posh Choc’ Ice

On Its Way!,Rocking Dog

On Its Way!

Flower Gift,Rocking Dog

Flower Gift

Bakers Dozen,Rocking Dog

Bakers Dozen

Baked Gift,Rocking Dog

Baked Gift

Flower Show,Rocking Dog

Flower Show

Egg Research,Rocking Dog

Egg Research

Brain Space,Rocking Dog

Brain Space

A New Rocking Dog Quilt In The Kennel

Latest Rocking Dog Quilt,Rocking Dog

Latest Rocking Dog Quilt

I am still a deaf old bat! Holding conversations has been difficult and so I have used the opportunity to seek solace in my sewing machine. A new quilt has been started and finished in the kennel and i’m rather pleased with it!

It all started with the glorious 1930’s embroidered bolster cover bought at Bermondsey Market. For a long while I contemplated how I was going to do this embroidery justice. I started collecting together lovely floral materials and vintage linens from Material Mountain. They stayed together in a lavender scented box waiting for the day when I could give myself the time to make an heirloom quilt.

Looking at the worn bolster cover I decided to remount the fabulous flower border embroidery onto a new backing. With some intrepidation I ironed Bondaweb onto the back of the embroidery. The Bondaweb was used to help prevent fraying and to eventually adhere the embroidery to the new mounting fabric. I carefully cut around the Delphinium and Hollyhock spikes, there was simply no going back now!

I then cut squares of ticking for the central panel and a variety of floral fabrics to create my double sized quilt. I used a patchwork template, rotary cutter and cutting mat. I spent time creating my quilts layout and as in the past chose to use pattern throughout. I worry that plain fabrics can really “kill” a quilt! Some of my squares were sewn with vintage lace and embroidered coasters to add additional texture. The squares were collected up into rows and pegged together. Sewing could begin!

Rows of squares were sewn and then the resulting rows sewn together. A quilt was forming! All the seams were pressed neatly and then it was time to adhere the embroidery onto its custom made ticking panel.There followed the somewhat laborious task of hand sewing the embroidery using carefully matched threads.The quilt panel was then laid onto its “filler”. For this I used the thick interlining of a bargainous curtain I had purchased a while ago in John Lewis. I pinned the quilt to the interlining using safety pins, working from the centre outwards. I then “stitched in the ditch” sewing carefully through each seam of each square. There was a tremendous amount of fabric to feed through the machine and I found it helpful to roll the quilt to help with the manoeuvrability.

It was now time to add the backing fabric for my quilt. This time I used the actual fabric from my aforementioned Designer’s Guild bargain curtain, it continued the floral theme. Again I used the safety pins to attach the layers together. I then laid the quilt out on my dining room table and sewed vintage buttons to each corner of the patchwork squares (leaving the outer edges free of buttons). On the reverse of each button point an embroidered thread tie was knotted. I chose white and clear buttons for the ticking panel so that the beauty wasn’t taken away from the delicious embroidery. After all that button sewing I added a quote from Oscar Wilde to my quilt. On a vintage coaster I wrote in indelible ink “I have many beautiful flowers” he said “but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all” (The Selfish Giant). I Bondaweb’d and hand sewed this in place. Finally I sewed a 5/8ths line of stitching around the outer edge of my quilt before shearing away extra fabric and interlining.

I chose a deep ribbon from The Makery to provide the neat edging for my quilt. I pressed the ribbon in half along its whole length and sewed this in place with two rows of stitching. I finished each of the corners with a pretty button. Loose threads cut, remaining safety pins removed, and quilt pressed Rocking Dogs 2017 quilt was complete!

Happy footnote. I entered this and another quilt into the Frenchay Flower Show. I won first prize in the quilting class and a cup for best handicraft in show. I was quietly chuffed!

Piecing The Patches!,Rocking Dog

Piecing The Patches!

Sew The Rows,Rocking Dog

Sew The Rows

Choosing Thread,Rocking Dog

Choosing Thread

Hand Sewing,Rocking Dog

Hand Sewing

Ditch Stitching,Rocking Dog

Ditch Stitching

Fabric Roll,Rocking Dog

Fabric Roll

Pretty Backing,Rocking Dog

Pretty Backing

Button Anchors,Rocking Dog

Button Anchors

Showtime!,Rocking Dog


Best In Show- Frenchay Flower Show 2016

Flowers For The Show, Rocking Dog

Flowers For The Show

Rocking Dog was asked to help judge the food classes at Frenchay Flower Show on Saturday. It was a real experience- I do so love a good flower show. Having entered the childrens’ classes with handwriting, painting, miniature garden at this flower show half a century ago (how is that ever possible?!), it was a real honour to try my hand at judging.

Working with an experienced judge I worked my way through tasting about 25 pickles, 10 marmalades, 15 jams, fruit cakes, breads, shortbread, pastry items, and Victoria Sandwiches. If truth be known there were many pickles i’d have honestly rather not tasted…but it was all in a days work!

Predominantly it was about the flavour- definitely substance over style. It was an absolute bonus if a delicious product married with a beautifully labelled jar or pretty plate.

The most competitive class is that of baking a prizewinning Victoria Sandwich. In particular a group of men from the village set themselves the task of trying to win the prestigious red certificate. The cake has to be made with a prescribed list of ingredients and baked in a particular size of tin. You would think therefore that the twenty four or so cakes would look fairly uniform. Aahh no! Some cakes were eliminated at the beginning of the judging process because they had failed to rise, were over baked or had other cakey issues. Beatrice and I were left with a core of six or seven cakes that required further investigation. They were cut, tasted and then deliberated over. I am pleased to report that two men would be cawing about their prize winning cakes in the pub that evening!

Thankfully Beatrice and I very much agreed on every prizewinning jar, cake or loaf. However, I think the sourdough and artisan breads were rather new-fangled for her, and the crusts just a little too tough. Personally I think i’d have done a little bit of certificate swapping in this section! It’s such a subjective process.

One of our last tasks left was to break open some hens eggs to determine the freshness before awarding certificates for best clutch of freshly laid eggs.

Thankfully the wines were tasted by another set of judges, not only would I have been full I would have been literally staggering out of the marquee.

It was a really enjoyable two hours, and I got to learn so much. Although I wanted to stay and buy plants, browse and soak up the sun I was feeling a little jaded. I never did find out whether the hoped for Lancaster Bomber did its fly past. I hope so, it really is such a rare and wonderful sight.

Flowers, brass band, stalls, ice creams, patchwork, bees, cream teas, tombola, and radiant sunshine, it’s a quintessential little bit of English village life. Long may it continue.

Dazzling Dahlia, Rocking Dog

Dazzling Dahlia

Scented Blooms, Rocking Dog

Scented Blooms

Fiery Flowers, Rocking Dog

Fiery Flowers

Tidy Onions, Rocking Dog

Tidy Onions

Going For The Prize, Rocking Dog

Going For The Prize

Paper Fruit & Veg', Rocking Dog

Paper Fruit & Veg’

Best In Class, Rocking Dog

Best In Class

Preserves To Taste, Rocking Dog

Preserves To Taste

Embroidered Flowers, Rocking Dog

Embroidered Flowers

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 canap├ęs. 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!

Being Quintessentially British- Flower Shows

Good Gooseberries, Rocking Dog

Good Gooseberries

How often have you been overseas and been envious about the festivities hosted by the destination you have been visiting? Snowy Christmas Markets, their air infused with the smell of Glogg, gingerbread and sweet chestnuts, Beer festivals with the swell of throaty oompah bands and the sheer spectacle of countries delighting in donning their national costumes to celebrate religious and historical events. Several years ago we spent two holidays staying at The Old Monastery in Lapta, North Cyprus. Residing opposite the little market square we were warmly invited to join the villagers for some truly lovely star lit parties. It took several parties and numerous glasses of retsina to realise that these parties were to celebrate circumcisions!

It is sometimes easy to wax lyrical about celebrations witnessed overseas whilst forgetting that we as a nation also have much to be proud of. What could be more quintessentially British than the village flower show. What a lovely site to behold- the white guy roped bunting clad marquee sited on a village green or playing field.

The Frenchay Flower Show was very much part of my childhood summer calendar as it was for my own children. A jam jar of wild flowers, handwriting, painting, four small cakes and my favourite- a miniature garden in a seed tray (instant disqualification if the garden was put in any other vessel!). My father meanwhile would enter vegetable classes and my mother the flower, baking and preserve classes. I remember the stress both as a child and as a parent of getting items organised for the Friday deadline visit to the tent to register exhibits. Saturday, it was the early start to deliver Victoria Sandwich (made to an exacting recipe and in the correct sized tins) already slightly wilted flowers, freshly scrubbed vegetables and neatly labelled jams. There were the sideways glances to check out the competition, and then banishment from the tent until the official opening of the show at 2pm. The return to the tent saw a rush of eager competitors to discover whether their entries had the red, blue or yellow prize certificates. As parents there were also the tears and disappointment to deal with (together with dealing with sibling euphoria!) All this work and all this emotional fall out for a first prize of about 40p!

Flower shows however are about much more than the serious business of prize winning rhubarb sticks, rustic breads and handicrafts. They are about brass bands, plant stalls, Morris Men (and women!), traction engines, bee keeping, WI cream teas, ice cream vans, swing boats, donkey rides and a community coming together. They are about warm summer days, Pimms, the backdrop of cricket and tennis, verdant English countryside and celebrating being quintessentially British!

Tetbury Flower Show is worth a visit and this year happens on 9th August, I hope the ferrets will be there!

Ravishing Redcurrants, Rocking Dog

Ravishing Redcurrants

Pimped Vegetable, Rocking Dog

Pimped Vegetable

Cake Table, Rocking Dog

Cake Table

Tetbury Roses 2013, Rocking Dog

Tetbury Roses 2013

Mother Of All, Rocking Dog

Mother Of All

Tarnished Prize, Rocking Dog

Tarnished Prize