Tag Archives: Pimms

Summer Nights & Summer Food

Sorrel's Magical Meringues, Rocking Dog

Sorrel’s Magical Meringues

Beautiful summer nights, perfect for gorgeous summer food. It’s been a busy weekend for the Ferguson family with summer parties near Derby, a surprise party in the Rocking Dog garden and finally a lazy Sunday lunch.

I couldn’t resist including photo’s of Sorrel’s baking. A family party led her and Pete to Derby with the most stupendous of celebratory sausage rolls, and the prettiest of meringues, thanks for the recipe Yotam! Sorrel’s sausage rolls are by all accounts legendary, and this one was the piece de resistance with the hosts’ names written in poppy and sesame seeds. The meringues meanwhile were given a sprinkling of pistachio’s, crushed rose petals and gold leaf, very decadent.

Meanwhile in Bristol there was a surprise party afoot. The Rocking Dog garden was commandeered for our lovely neighbour Symon’s 40th. We had about two hours to hurriedly string the garden with bunting and fairy lights, to set up deck chairs, a bar, and to place tea lights. I rediscovered a beautiful old Indian wedding arch in a cupboard last week, and used it to decorate our entrance gates. It is embroidered with beautiful brightly coloured cows, elephants and a host of other creatures and Indian symbols. I’d love to find out more about it.

Symon seemed to have a thoroughly wonderful time, and the evening was positively balmy. Food, live music, happy children and cake will hopefully help to make wonderful memories. One of the guests made a lovely comment saying that the garden was really romantic. Twilight, fairy lights, bunting, soothing music and a generous glass of bubbly obviously took away from the fact that the garden is devilishly weed filled!

The weekend ended with a lazy late lunch in the garden. Skye Gingell’s Chicken salad with roast bread & sour cherries, cheese and summer fruits were followed by coffee and chocolate (in the most divine packaging). Jugs of foaming Pimms and a couple of bottles of Prosecco made the lunch feel very luxuriant and summery.

Lovely friends, lovely family and gorgeous sunshine.

I hope the week starts well for all. Love Rocking Dog x

Garden Bunting, Rocking Dog

Garden Bunting

Indian Welcome Arch, Rocking Dog

Indian Welcome Arch

Summer Nights, Rocking Dog

Summer Nights

Foaming Pimms, Rocking Dog

Foaming Pimms

Sweet Endings, Rocking Dog

Sweet Endings

Chaource & Cheddar, Rocking Dog

Chaource & Cheddar

Icing On The Cake, Rocking Dog

Icing On The Cake

Skye's Chicken Salad, Rocking Dog

Skye’s Chicken Salad

Sorrel's Stupendous Sausage Roll, Rocking Dog

Sorrel’s Stupendous Sausage Roll

Signed, Sealed & Well & Truly Delivered!

Smiles & Confetti, Rocking Dog

Smiles & Confetti

I was hoping that on Sunday i’d be compos mentis enough to construct some sort of blog post. Monday came with a day of washing up and putting away (just what do you do with 3ft high lanterns!?). I finally sat down at 9pm to watch The Great British Sewing Bee. There was little chance of me stringing a sentence together, even less stringing together a fitted stretch lace bra!! Tuesday, I am numb with tiredness but determined to write a blog to reflect the truly wonderful day we all enjoyed celebrating Alex & Kylie’s wedding day.

Cooking right up to the line, the girls and I made canape size arancini (saffron and mozzarella risotto balls), baby buttermilk scones and we chopped components for salads. There was bread to collect from Harts (thanks Pete) and a trip to the tipi 35 minutes away before we could get back to the kennel and put our glad rags and war paint on!

Finally, there really was no time left but to get ourselves to the darling little church at Bathampton. The church was full of friends and family, flowers, and a sense of anticipation. Finally it was time for Kylie to walk down the aisle and she looked stunning in a gorgeous Jessica Charleston dress with beautiful lace edged veil. Alex looked pretty dapper too in a Scottish sort of way, with Ancient Ferguson kilt and bespoke tweed jacket and waistcoat. The service was meaningful, and whilst the register was signed good friend Laura sang Etta James’s “At Last”. There were a few damp eyes in the house.

Bells were rung joyously as the couple left the church and then Kylie and guests were given the surprise of 20 or so pipers and drummers spilling into the churchyard playing “Highland Cathedral”. Rose petal confetti rained down on the couple together with happy greetings as they left the church. A short walk over the canal followed to where the Tipi awaited them.

Pimms was served in tiny milk bottles whilst guests enjoyed basking in the late May sunshine. Arancini, baby scones complete with strawberries and clotted cream, and dinky Melton Mowbray pies delighted the guests. Entertaining alfresco speeches followed. There was a lovely melt your heart speech from Kylie’s dad, heartfelt one from Alex and then one from each of the best men. Andyman based his speech on Alex’s injuries over the years and he presented Kylie with a comprehensive First Aid Kit and a baton, saying he was handing over the baton of responsibility to her now! Phil, a school friend of Alex’s completed the quartet of speeches, and I have to say it was remarkably clean!

Food followed – Italy meets England.

Starter: tree trunk boards with a selection of salami’s and Lonza from Italy, Pecorino, Fresh pesto, aged balsamic, “our” olive oil, sun blush tomatoes, olives and buffalo mozzarella. Hart’s sourdough with olives, and raisins & fennel.

Main: Chicken Cacciatore (Hunter’s Chicken), Farro salad with roast Mediterranean veg and fresh herbs, Panzanella (Tuscan tomato & bread salad), Jersey Royal baby potato salad with fresh asparagus and peas with creme fraiche and fried shallots.

Woodland dessert table: Black Forest Gateaux, Salted caramel and chocolate ganache mini kilner jars, Baroque meringues with gold leaf and crystallised violets, Lime and ginger cheesecakes, vanilla panna cotta’s in porcelain cups, white & dark chocolate brownie, Billionaire bars, British strawberries, rhubarb in dessert wine.

Coffee: Coffee & Tea table with soft sour cherry amaretti, Italian nougat and ricciarelli

The lovely Commonwealth long jumper medallist Jazmin Sawyers sang and played guitar whilst we ate. That girl is truly multi talented!

Food eaten, evening guests arrived, cake cut (Fruit tier, Carrot cake tier and Lime and Pistachio all encased in a zingy lemon buttercream) it was now time to dance the night away! The motown band (whose name currently eludes me!) were amazing and I am so pleased that Lionel didn’t turn up. However, I cannot believe that Gary Barlow did a “pop up” in Bristol’s Cabot Circus at the weekend…. I should have asked Gary!!!

The free bar and dancing continued until midnight in the atmospheric fairylit tipi. It was all very magical… but over all too quickly!

It really was a Perfect Day. Now that it is signed, sealed and truly delivered it’s time to say Enough, enough now!

Oscar Style Thank you’s.
A million thanks to all those who helped in any way before, during and after the big day. Thank you to retired vicar Canon Richard Hunt who led the marriage service and made Alex and Kylie “Mr and Mrs”. Rob, thank you for reading 1 Corinthians 13 so eloquently. Thanks to Ushers, Best Men and Bridesmaids together with Jovan, the cutest of kilted page boys who carried out their roles so beautifully. Further thanks to all those who sang, played or did both so brilliantly at the service, in the churchyard, and in the tipi. Music really does help to make wedding memories, together with wearing out shoe leather on the dance floor!

Special thanks to Dom, Jess and Lorraine, you were all simply amazing. More thanks go to the gorgeous waiting and bar staff, and all those folk who helped set up, and more depressingly clear up. Steve’s special recipe burgers certainly helped with the “final push”!

Thank you to suppliers who dealt with Kylie and Alex. Buffalo Tipis were brilliant – friendly, flexible and accommodating as were the staff at The King Edward’s Pavilion. Thank you. Prestige, Alex particularly appreciated the cutlery… the cutlery-phobe that he is! Hart’s, all the individual Umbrian producers, Bristol Fruit and Vegetable market and the lovely Keith at Costco thank you for your delicious produce. Thanks for the fig and vine leaves reaped from your walled garden Graeme and Scott- those little details made all the difference!

My girls Sorrel and Liv’, were culinary mega-stars, as was my lovely friend Sian. How civilised Sian to encourage us to take regular tea breaks and a proper lunch break! We whipped, whisked, chopped, roasted, simmered and planned the food for the 120 guests. It was quite a feat.

There are more who helped with the gorgeous table plan, invitations and a range of other wedding paraphernalia, thank you so much for your creativity. The florist who traded flower power for hair do’s did a great job, getting up in amongst those tipi posts must have been somewhat ladder teetering! Thank you to my friend Steph who lent me her dressmakers dummy, I felt you at my shoulder willing me on with the baffling task of coat making. I love you. Talking of creativity, thank you to Paige Courtney who took over 2,000 photo’s so unobtrusively throughout the wedding day and evening. How lovely not to have had a two hour photo session before muscling in on the canapes! You were great!

Thank you to guests who came to celebrate the nuptials and enjoy the after party. Weddings are expensive to attend, especially where long journeys, hen and stag do’s (!) and accommodation (together with a pair of Manolo’s) are involved. We appreciate your being there for Kylie and Alex.

Big thanks go to Debi and Steve who really moved heaven and earth to realise the couples vision for their wedding and post ceremony party. Enjoy your well deserved holiday in the knowledge that we all did good!!

As all those teary Oscar style thank you’s go, i’m sorry if i’ve left anyone out… it’s certainly not intentional. Lastly, the final thank you has got to go to the sun….you were truly warm and amazing… your glowing brilliant outfit was definitely the red carpet showstopper! X

Flower Boys! The Ushers, Rocking Dog

Flower Boys! The Ushers

Bridal Party, Rocking Dog

Bridal Party

Cute Kilted Page, Rocking Dog

Cute Kilted Page

Surprise Pipes & Drums, Rocking Dog

Surprise Pipes & Drums

The Speeches, Rocking Dog

The Speeches

Antipasti, Rocking Dog


Woodland Cake Table, Rocking Dog

Woodland Cake Table

Happy Times, Rocking Dog

Happy Times

On The Dance Floor, Rocking Dog

On The Dance Floor

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

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