Tag Archives: Picnic

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!

Hen Party Filled Picnic Bags By Rocking Dog

Labelled & Ready To Go- Picnic Bags By Rocking Dog, Rocking Dog

Labelled & Ready To Go- Picnic Bags By Rocking Dog

Saturday saw Andyman, myself and an enthusiastic Real Live Rocking Dog driving over the bridge to the Forest of Dean to deliver picnic bags for a certain hen party!

I made individual hen food bags for each of the “hens” and then stashed them with delicious goodies. Choosing fabrics from the infamous Material Mountain, ideas for the bags began to take shape. I decided on a hen appliqué and began by finding a hen image on Google. Enlarging the image I used the computer as an ad hoc light-box, directly tracing the image from the screen onto tracing paper. I ironed a piece of Bondaweb onto my chosen hen appliqué fabric and similarly used Bondaweb for contrasting fabric for the wings. Bondaweb is great for adhering fabric to another fabric, minimising fabric movement and wrinkles.

The hens were then pressed to the centre of the main bag fabric. I used zig zag stitch to sew the hens in place and added stitched legs and button eyes. A veil was added to the bride to be’s hen. Worryingly I thought that many of the hens resembled Lisa Simpson, not my intention! Hems were sewn at the top of each bag before the seams were closed, firstly the central back seam and then the bottom seam. Turned right way out, handles of wide candy stripe ribbon were attached. Finally the bags were pressed and loose cottons snipped. Voila!

Now for the filling of the bags. Not a sweaty cheese and tomato sandwich in sight, nor warm yoghurt, grey sausage roll or wrinkled chicken drumstick! A buttery croissant filled with Pastrami and Emmental, Tyrrell’s crisps, freshly baked Rocking Dog sausage roll and a salad box inhabited each bag. The salad box contained pasta, roasted mediterranean vegetables, Mozzarella pearls, homemade pesto and toasted pine nuts.

Sweet offerings included some Rocking Dog cherry amaretti (continuing thanks Yotam Ottolenghi for the recipe), and the naughtiest ever Billionaires bars A few weeks ago whilst posting a letter, I bumped into the lovely Alison Atherton. She said “try this”, and handed me a mysterious foil package. Inside was the most amazing sweet offering. So enthused about the sweet loveliness I said to my neighbour “try this”. So said neighbour VERY hesitatingly took a small piece and loved it. She then told me she’d started a diet that morning! Oops! What a bully I am! Anyway when I came to the hen food bags I just had to try the recipe myself. It has got to be the naughtiest recipe I have ever encountered.

To counteract the chocolate naughtiness I added a clementine and strawberries into the bag. I put the strawberries into single use piping bags (£1 for 20 from Poundland) and tied them with pretty ribbon.

A can of San Pellegrino Limonata was stowed together with a pretty hen printed napkin. The bags were then tied with calligraphed and stamped name labels. Another bag gathered together, dips, crudites, clotted cream, wet wipes and rubbish bag. It was time to head to the hens!

A beautiful sunny morning in Bristol, 3/4 of an hour up the road at the hen cabin it had been snowing overnight! Picnics delivered to the lovely girls, there was time to walk Real Live Rocking Dog and there was even a flutter of snow!

Hen Template, Rocking Dog

Hen Template

Hen Applique, Rocking Dog

Hen Applique

Hen With A Veil, Rocking Dog

Hen With A Veil

Salad Box, Rocking Dog

Salad Box

Cherry Amaretti, Rocking Dog

Cherry Amaretti

Cake Bags, Rocking Dog

Cake Bags

Piping Bag Strawb's, Rocking Dog

Piping Bag Strawb’s

Luggage Labels, Rocking Dog

Luggage Labels

Hen Picnic Bound!, Rocking Dog

Hen Picnic Bound!

Wrapped Up For Summer

Picnic Packing, Rocking Dog

Picnic Packing

More ideas from Rocking Dog for creative gift wrapping. I love to give a little clue as to a packages contents, and these gifts are no different.

The picnic packing indeed contains an innovative picnic bag (John Lewis). Filled with gel it can be put in the freezer and then taken out of its icy residence when the sun is shining. Decadently filled with mini cans of Pimms, bread (The Thoughtful Bread Company perhaps), some delicious cheeses (I love the Fine Cheese Company in Bath) would be bliss. Local Cheddar strawberries and a naughty wedge of homemade cake would complete the gastronomic alfresco lunch. Don’t worry about the heat of the day, the bag will keep things perfectly chilled for twelve hours.

So the packaging… I used my old favourite, wallpaper. This is a lovely bold extra wide paper by Marimekko, found in the bargain bin at John Lewis. I teamed it with ribbon, a paper plate and some wooden cutlery, together with a floral Marimekko paper napkin (John Lewis). The remainder of the napkin pack went in with the picnic bag!

The Travelling gift was for a lovely friend who is travelling a stretch of the Rhine next month. A document wallet and a small stash of euro’s for tea and kuchen were the contents. Meanwhile the wrap was a slightly damaged (and therefore reduced) sheet of map wrapping paper to which I added some black and white boat pictures (I decided against using a Titanic style sinking ship!). Coarse garden string and a shop bought tag were added to complete the gifts frouing.

Presently, my brain is in full throttle coming up with ideas for a large cake I have been commissioned to do for delivery on Friday. I rather think it will have flamingo’s in tutu’s cavorting on it… I find celebration cakes Soooooo stressful and need to confidently utter the words NO!

Travelling Gift, Rocking Dog

Travelling Gift

Wrap Detail, Rocking Dog

Wrap Detail

The Night Before Christmas…….

diamond star, rocking dog

Diamond Star

Can you believe just how quickly Christmas comes and goes after all the weeks of present shopping, supermarket trawls, card writing etc… etc..?! I hope your days of festivities have been enjoyable and that you have loved spending time with friends and family, together with vegging in front of “Call the Midwife” and “Downton Abbey”!

This post celebrates an all together different occasion. Our son Alex’ is now a fiancee. On Christmas Eve he proposed to Kylie at Ashton Court and we are delighted she said yes! For the last month I have been biting my lip knowing that a proposal was imminent, and if I say so myself my level of discretion surprised even me! Though I do have to apologise to random strangers (mostly shop staff) that I imparted the news to, and I thank them for nodding politely.

Alex like Black Adder’s Baldrick came up with a cunning plan, and needed a little bit of help to execute it. One of the priorities was to involve Kylie’s very lovely dog, a big chocolate labrador. Alex ordered a glass star for Cass’ to wear around her neck with THE ring. First rule Alex get your tape measure out, for the star did indeed arrive but was of a weight and size that would have strangled Kylie’s faithful canine companion. The plan had to be quickly rethought. Alex decided Ashton Court would make a lovely place to propose and a good ruse was to get out walking with Cass’ and Real Live Rocking Dog.

Sorry for all the white lies Kylie. The car mysteriously needed to be collected from the garage on the 23rd December and Alex was needed to go and helpfully collect it with Andyman. The actual mission was to do a quick recognisance mission to choose a spot for a proposal and a picnic.

My allocated mission was to try and make the spot just a little bit romantic- we are talking grey winter in Bristol and not Venetian Gondola’s or palm tree’d silver sand beach! Ikea… the list… lanterns, tea lights, chairs, Christmas tree panels, throws, and M & S….. the list….chocolates, strawberries, antipasti..Percy Pigs (!)…

There followed a secretive strategic planning offensive to sort out the detail of carrying out Code -name Diamond Star! Although I wanted to set up the picnic etc.. for Alex I absolutely did not want to be caught there… the pushy prospective Mother in Law and all that!

Thankfully on the afternoon itself I had recruited a willing infantryman -my lovely neighbour Symon to help with carrying and frou’ing, (frou’ing is my word for styling). Symon and I are good frou’ers! In between texts from Alex we had a VERY short time to set up and we didn’t even have time to put up the lovely 6ft Christmas Tree panels – but then the aged brick wall was rather gorgeous. We legged it up to near the house itself, spying from a distance and just wanted to ensure that Alex and Kylie arrived there rather than an opportunist wanting to steal a ring suspended in a glass, moss lined star! We didn’t see the boy and girl but we did see the two dogs snaffling mince pies and olive ciabatta! It was our cue to sneak away and leave the couple to their wintry picnic and their words of commitment to each other.

Congratulations Kylie and Alex. You are truly loved by your family and friends.

slightly Narnia, rocking dog

Slightly Narnia!

champagne picnic, rocking dog

Champagne Picnic

lantern light, rocking dog

Lantern Light