Tag Archives: Real Live Rocking Dog

Yay! Well Hello May. The Year Is Simply Galloping By.

May Blooms. Douglas In Amongst The Pretty Weeds!,Rocking Dog

May Blooms. Douglas In Amongst The Pretty Weeds!

I know, my posts are evermore sporadic, whatever happened to my daily Rocking Dog blogs of times gone by?! Perhaps it’s because sometimes it’s too difficult to blog speak, a falling out of like (for I never did love) with Facebook, a busy life and well …does it really matter if I don’t blog. Nearing 450 posts is it time to hang up my blogging finger I wonder. However I am not going to be gloomy, let’s celebrate the month of May. How wonderful the blossom is this spring, skies are blue and birdsong increasingly deliciously evident.

There have been plenty of opportunities to get out and about in the last couple of weeks. Recently we hosted a German creative, Bea Winkel. Bea is on a years stay in the UK, mainly cat sitting whilst staying in peoples homes around the country. OK, we don’t have a cat but I thought it would be good to host a stranger. For four days we talked Angela Merkel, Brexit, healthcare, old age, food and lots more besides. I also showed Bea a diverse Bristol. There was the harbour with its shipping container eateries (can recommend Sholay Indian Kitchen), the SS Great Britain, and Swoon for the most divine ice cream. Less touristy, we did St Werburgh’s City Farm and Feed Bristol. There was a trip to beautiful quintessentially English Tetbury and some good walks with Real Live Rocking Dog. On one walk we dropped RLRD at Sam’s Woof Wash for a radical haircut (can heartily recommend Sam for all your… oops your dogs pampering needs). Bea also accompanied me to see my lovely neighbour who was having a spot of respite at a swish and expensive care facility. In Germany if an elderly family member can’t fund their own care their children are legally obliged to fund the care. One of the highlights of Bea’s visit was a drop in to one of my favourite houses in Hambrook, it’s like a mini stately home and has the most hospitable and gorgeous owners. Apart from the interesting chat we loved the friendly hen eating grapes on the window sill! We spent one morning discussing Bea’s colouring/recipe pages which encourage children to eat a diverse range of fruit and vegetables. It’s an interesting concept. I however feel I rather burst Bea’s balloon when I told her that the average Brit’ does not eat pumpkin. Pumpkins are for lanterns and the pulpy unloved flesh gets thrown away in most households. I then rather guiltily said that my first taste of pumpkin was when I was 40 and visiting New Zealand. It was served in roasted wedges and was rather delicious! After four days it was time for Bea to head off to her next feline stop in Leeds. It was an interesting four days and I look forward to seeing her “take” on Bristol on a future colouring page.

Beds were stripped and there was a quick turnaround with Sorrel, Pete and little Douglas coming to stay. There was time to photograph beloved boy in the sunshine and amongst the flowers. It’s true what they say, never work with children or animals, they never stay in the same place for long! Doug’ definitely wanted to remove himself from my weedy albeit pretty patch! We celebrated a first birthday with the two extended families and friends. There was cake, lots of pies, fizz, millions of cups of tea and a lovely busy little children. It was fun especially as Doug’ loves a good Mexican Wave!

The weekend came to an end, there was a mad cleaning blitz and admin’ tasks on Monday. Meanwhile Tuesday arrived spectacularly sunny. It was time to put on some walking boots and head out with a friend on a route chosen by her (we democratically take it in turns). This walk took us around the Tortworth Estate, Gloucestershire and its piece de resistance is the Tortworth Chestnut which claims to be one of the oldest trees in the country. What a lovely walk, and again so quintessentially English. There was a sweep of verdant green meadowland, trees cloaked in blossom and a church which could so easily be the setting for a Pride and Prejudice wedding. Beside the church we examined the Tortworth Chestnut. It’s not the prettiest tree I grant you, but it had the most beautiful inscribed plaque on a latched wooden gate.

This Tree supposed to be six hundred years old
1st January 1800
May Man still Guard thy Venerable Form
From the Rude Blasts and Tempestuous Storm
Still mayest thou Flourish through Succeeding Time
And Last, Long Last the Wonder of the Clime

This questionably old tree was selected in 2002 by the Tree Council as one of fifty Great British trees to commemorate the Queen’s Golden Jubilee. Tree marvelled at, we completed our walk and enjoyed lunch in the Tortworth Estate farm shop cafe. It was great to blow away the cobwebs and walk 13,000 steps! Thanks Karen.

It’s hard having been nice for two entire weeks so the remainder of the week I have been quiet. My deafness has returned and it feels as if I am in a giant zorb! It’s exhausting and frustrating to be in social situations even though I think i’ve perfected lip reading! The tv is too loud for any other human beings and i’m sure The Archers at full pelt is unbearably unpleasant! I have used this anti-social time to continue researching “my” soldiers for “The Remember Me Project” and have made good progress on the spring quilt for youngest daughter. The planning of the bathroom is still work in progress, but today we received a video of our copper bateau bath made and now awaiting polishing and its nickel lining. We may have the work done by Christmas!

Next week there’s a blind waiting to be made for a little grandchild’s room (we don’t know what variety it is) who is due to put in an appearance in the next couple of weeks. Exciting times!

So, the bank holiday weekend beckons with the promise of wonderful sunshine. Whatever you are doing I hope it’s lovely, spent with family and friends whilst eating delicious things. Monday for me will be a walk to the Winterbourne Down Village Carnival (listen out for the bagpipers and drummers) and then onto Redland May Fair. What treasures await I wonder!

Love Rocking Dog aka Liz x

Frank Sinatra Hat!,Rocking Dog

Frank Sinatra Hat!

Last Year,Rocking Dog

Last Year

Cake To Celebrate,Rocking Dog

Cake To Celebrate

Brunel's Masterpiece,Rocking Dog

Brunel’s Masterpiece

Feed Bristol,Rocking Dog

Feed Bristol

Eat Pumpkin!,Rocking Dog

Eat Pumpkin!

That Old Chestnut!,Rocking Dog

That Old Chestnut!

New Blossom,Rocking Dog

New Blossom

Spring Quilt,Rocking Dog

Spring Quilt

Research Continues,Rocking Dog

Research Continues

That Old Chestnut!,Rocking Dog

That Old Chestnut!

Yay! It's Redland Fair,Rocking Dog

Yay! It’s Redland Fair

The Remember Me Project, France & Belgium 2018 Continued.

The One We Missed,Rocking Dog

The One We Missed

Day one of The Remember Me Project in France saw us visit eleven cemeteries over a couple of hundred miles. We also popped into a twelfth cemetery on behalf of my lovely neighbour Molly. Her uncle had been killed very close to the end of the war and is buried at Anneux British Cemetery. We popped into the roadside cemetery to pay our respects and lay a poppy for Sgt Arthur Walter Rich who died on 28th September 1918 aged 20years.

Driving towards our accommodation for the night there was the awful realisation that I had missed out one of the cemeteries, oops! Though over an hours drive away and adding to the already long journey to Switzerland Andy offered to retrace our footsteps in the morning. We spent the night in a place called Cagnoncles and then ventured out early the following morning to head to the missed out cemetery, Villers Bretonneux Military Cemetery. We arrived there so early I had to climb over a low gate to lay my poppy for Pte Thomas Richardson. He was serving with 2nd/5th Battalion Gloucestershire Regiment when he was killed in action on 31st March 1918. The cemetery is impressive as it also “houses” the Australian National Memorial. The cemetery and memorial is set on a hill with far reaching views over the French countryside. The cemetery and memorial were designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and incorporates some impressive entrance buildings. The cemetery and memorial were created after the Armistice when graves were brought in from small burial grounds and from the battlefields. The cemetery itself is planted with symmetrically aligned trees and a beech hedge, it felt very peaceful and the views astounding. Over 2,000 servicemen are laid to rest here including two New Zealand pilots from WW2. A new museum, The Sir John Monash Centre is due to open here very shortly.

Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit the impressive Australian Memorial. It commemorates nearly 11,000 Australian servicemen with no known grave, their names being inscribed on walls surrounding the tower. The tower can be climbed, although in windy weather entry to the tower is restricted. On 25th April each year an Anzac Day dawn service takes place by the memorial.

We then re-tracked back to our pre-planned course and headed back towards St Quentin to visit Grand-Seraucourt British Cemetery. We were here to visit the grave of Pte Henry George Harmer who served with 6th Battalion, Somerset Light Infantry. He died aged 19yrs on 21st March 1918. Originally he had been buried elsewhere but was laid to rest (identified by his identification disc) at Grand Seraucourt British Cemetery. The cemetery was set up from a country lane in view of fields and a large hay barn. Henry’s grave was planted with succulents and herbaceous plants, lots of colour to look forward to. At the entrance to the cemetery there was an impressive bank of deep pink heather.

We then journeyed for nearly 2 hours to La Ferte-sous-Jouarre 66km from Paris. We were here to visit the memorial in the town which commemorates 3,740 Officers and men who served with the British Expeditionary Force. These were men who died (many dying at the Battle of Mons) between August and October 1914 with no known grave. Sgt Charles Blair Godwin had a very short war. He left England with the 1st Battalion Royal Irish Fusiliers as part of 4th Division on August 22nd 1914 and was dead by 26th August 1914. The report of his death states Sgt Godwin’s Coy (B Coy) was heavily engaged in the Battle of Le Cateau on August 26th covering the retirement of other troops. Orders to retire themselves never reached them, and by the evening they were closely surrounded by enemy. An attempt to break through with the bayonet was made, and Godwin fell fighting in this charge. Charles Godwin lived in Frenchay with his family in a large house called Woodfield. According to the 1901 census the family employed four live in servants. Now partitioned into two homes, one of them is Lake House. Our daughter and now son in law were lucky enough to be offered the garden for their wedding reception by friends who live there now. In the 1901 census Charles is 16 and an army Student. He attended Marlborough College from 1898-1900 and the college holds much information and photographs on the ex-pupils who served and died for their country.

The La Ferte-sous-Jouarre Memorial is impressive and under extensive restoration.It was designed by George Hartley Goldsmith who was initially assistant draughtsman to Sir Edwin Lutyens before going on to be an architect in his own right. He designed 67 cemeteries including the co-design of Villers Brettoneux Military Cemetery & Memorial. Thankfully, I was able to find Sgt Godwin’s name and took photographs through the barrier. A poppy cross was left by the War Stone in his honour.

The cemetery dash was over this side of the trip. Switzerland and beyond!

Our journey home saw us visit the very last of our Whiteshill Memorial WW1 names, (at least the ones in France and Belgium). Before departing for the Euro Tunnel we headed to Ypres. We needed to find Edward Lewis’s name in amongst the 55,000 inscriptions on the Menin Gate. William (Edward) was born on 20th December 1895 in Winterbourne. In the 1911 census Edward is 15yrs and an assistant gardener. He is living with his mother Annie and stepfather Edwin together with six siblings/step siblings. A mere 4 years later Edward has been killed whilst serving with the North Somerset Yeomanry. We found his name high up on a panel on the memorial. He was watching down on the cobbled road which cars now rattle through. It is likely that Edward would have marched the same road out onto the battlefields. It is an incredibly moving monument and one evidently well visited. Poppy wreath’s covered steps and staircases. Wreaths from schools, universities, regiments, countries, industries and individuals each regaling how these servicemen will never be forgotten.

Between October 1914 and September 1918 hundreds of thousands of troops marched through the Menin Gate and the town of Ypres to the battlefields of Flanders. The Menin Gate Memorial is one of four memorials to the missing in Flanders. It was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield and based on a concept of Triumphal Arch and central hall. It was built between 1923-27 and includes the inscription written by Rudyard Kipling “To the Armies of the British Empire who stood here from 1914-1918 and to those of their dead who have no known grave”

After placing a poppy for Edward at the bottom of the panel (Bay 5 Stone L) where he is commemorated I had a little stroll in Ypres. It is difficult to comprehend that most of the town is less than 100 years old. It was completely destroyed in WW1 and much thought was given to leave the town as it was to signify the destruction of war and act as a poignant memorial. However in the event it was decided to completely rebuild the town exactly as it was. Therefore the Cathedral, Cloth Hall and other important buildings were built to look identical to their shelled predecessors. Cobbled roads and railway tracks were relaid. A place of pilgrimage from the earliest post war days, Ypres is buzzy and offers cafe’s, places to stay, shops and historic tours. I definitely would love to return to Ypres and I want to be there to hear the Last Post which is bugled every evening at 8pm at the Menin Gate. The Last Post has been sounded there since 1928 and only in WW2 was this nightly ceremony interrupted. For the duration The Last Post was played at Brookwood Military Cemetery, Surrey. Ypres was occupied by the Germans from 20th May 1940 until 6th September 1944 and the evening the Allies took back the city was the night that The Last Post sounded again despite heavy fighting outside the city boundaries.

So, with Pte Edward Lewis’s poppy finally laid, my pilgrimage to France and Belgium was complete. 38 poppies laid in/at 32 cemeteries/memorials over approximately 5 days. It has been an amazing privilege to pay homage to these local heroes, many of them teenagers. I have been in awe of the beauty and individuality of the cemeteries and memorials I visited. They each had a very special unique feel and most enjoyed the beauty of life going on outside the boundaries of cemetery walls and hedges. I particularly loved the cemeteries with working farms, allotments and busy little towns going on around them. Without exception the cemeteries were beautifully kept with thoughtful seasonal planting, trees and with a nod to nature. I will always remember the New Zealanders’ lament at Hooge and the noisy cockerel at Ribecourt.

Special thanks must go to Andy for driving hundreds of miles to facilitate this project. Sometimes the atmosphere was fraught with wrong turns, mud, traffic, an inaccurate sat’-nav’ and even more inaccurate and perfectly hopeless navigator! I really appreciate you helping me with this journey, and I know for a fact you’d rather be following your team around Europe rather than following WW1 ghosts. Thank you from the bottom of my rusty old heart! Thanks too to Real Live Rocking Dog for being Sooo patient. PS. I just daren’t bring up the subject of all those WW2 names on the memorial.

So. The big question now is what to do with all this information, research, photographs etc.. I am keen to do something really meaningful for the community with it. We will indeed Remember Them.

……………………………..

As the weekend stretches out in front of us I am thinking of servicemen and women who are currently serving for our country in somewhat uncertain times.

Thanks for getting to the end of this rather long post.

Liz aka Rocking Dog x

Australian Memorial,Rocking Dog

Australian Memorial

Striking Entrance,Rocking Dog

Striking Entrance

Poppy For Henry,Rocking Dog

Poppy For Henry

La Ferte sous Jouarre,Rocking Dog

La Ferte sous Jouarre

Charles Blair Godwin,Rocking Dog

Charles Blair Godwin

Poppy For Sgt Godwin,Rocking Dog

Poppy For Sgt Godwin

Menin Gate, Ypres,Rocking Dog

Menin Gate, Ypres

54,000 Names,Rocking Dog

54,000 Names

Not Forgotten,Rocking Dog

Not Forgotten

8pm Invite,Rocking Dog

8pm Invite

Life Continues, Ypres,Rocking Dog

Life Continues, Ypres

Sign, Ypres. Rocking Dog

Sign, Ypres.

Snow, Cake, Siena & Unexpected DNA!

Gilded Siena,Rocking Dog

Gilded Siena

Sorry it’s been so long since Rocking Dog signed on. A week of coughing and the lack of sleep that came with that didn’t really make me feel much like talking either verbally or in the form of written words. At one point I looked across at Real Live Rocking Dog and thought “boy, your breathing’s a bit laboured” however after a while I realised it was indeed me that was the one breathing heavily!

Before Cough (BC) Andyman together with youngest daughter headed out to Umbria for a very cheeky little break. Though cold, the valley was embellished with the dazzling spectacle that is Mimosa. Birds were busily enjoying the olives that had escaped the olive oil bottle and the countryside as ever looked verdantly beautiful. The following morning Liv’ and I planned to head to Rome. We awoke to snow and the hills looked as if they had been magically dusted with icing sugar. It really was quite surreal seeing olive trees with a cloak of snow, especially with robins in residence!

Alas our train to Rome was cancelled so we decided to take the next available bus or train to destination unknown. We ended up on a bus heading to the beautiful city of Siena. The warm bus wiggled through snow covered medieval hilltop towns and past vineyards, ploughed fields and olive groves. In just over an hour we arrived at the bottom of the city. In years gone by these Italian hilltop towns would have needed an arduous and lengthy walk to reach their summits. Recently most cities have become inventive with their transport plans and there are lifts, escalators, funiculars and the like. On this occasion we used a series of steep escalators to reach the architectural delights of Siena. We had a really gorgeous time simply wandering. The Palio where the famous bareback horse races takes place annually (July 2nd and Aug 16th 2018) was joyfully devoid of the throb of summer tourists. If you are in Siena at any point the Complex of Santa Maria della Scala is worth a visit. It houses several museums and is the site of one of Europe’s first hospitals. The frescoes were wonderful and I loved the thought that patients had such amazing art to gaze at from their beds.  I particularly loved the starry ceiling in the First Aid Room.

Cake, delicious wine, pasta, wood fired pizza and friendly folk made this whistle-stop trip to Umbria and Tuscany very pleasurable.

After Cough (AC)- it’s been difficult trying to shake off this irritable ailment. Real Live Rocking Dog has not been loving the snow so like me has been enjoying curling up beside the wood-burner. Trying to do something slightly constructive I baked a cake using new season Rhubarb from the garden, delicious! There have been bathroom planning decisions to be made, and cupboards to de-hoard. I have been contemplating cutting the fabric for my new summer coat… maybe this week. Pattern matching, I can’t decide whether it’s a pleasurable challenge or acutely sadistically stressful!

There have also been soldiers to research ready for our return to the Commonwealth War Cemeteries in France later this month. This week there will be poppy crosses to collect and route planning to organise. Eighteen soldiers graves/memorials will be visited in fifteen different cemeteries over the course of two days. Our travels will take us to Dieppe and Rouen before heading up to a cluster of cemeteries on the Somme. There is a solitary cemetery to visit just East of Paris where we will pay our respects to a soldier whose family lived in a house where really good friends of ours now live. On our route home we will head to the Menin Gate Memorial at Ypres where we will lay our last poppy cross in France. Together with the cemeteries we are hoping to visit some manmade caves under a church at Bouzincourt. During a Time Team episode in 2010 some WW1 graffiti was discovered. One name belongs to a soldier, Alfred Flux who lived in our village. Alfred wrote his name and details onto into the stone in 1916. Serving with the Royal Field Artillery he was to later die in March 1918. Having no known grave he is commemorated at Pozieres. On our return home there will be the lengthy job of collating all the information and archiving photographs.

Now for the DNA news. As you may already know my girls thoughtfully bought me an Ancestry DNA kit for Christmas. In January I sent off my phial of spit and waited patiently. I received an e.mail whilst in the supermarket on Wednesday telling me my results were in. Mother in Law promptly posted home with her bags of cakes, drive home done, bags dropped on the kitchen table, computer turned on…let the show begin!  The results were given in the form of a wheel of cheese and imagine my surprise that the largest percentage of my DNA is Scandinavian! Not a whiff of the French Huegenots that I expected. Roughly a quarter of the cheese wheel was Northern English and another quarter paid homage to my Celtic roots (Irish/Welsh Scottish). I always suspected I had red and white gingham running through my veins! The only slightly sad bit of this is that because my Mum and Dad are both dead I can’t ascertain easily who was the Viking in the family. Was it my Dad who was Scottish or my Mums long line Yorkshire family? Anyway I am loving being Scandi’ and there’s even an 8% wedge of Iberian Peninsula in there for good measure!

Anyway I must away now I have got to put the Elk Casserole on and get fitted for my Scandinavian traditional costume!

Have a great week and I hope the big thaw is well underway wherever you are. Stay cosy!

Liz aka Rocking Dog x

Before The Snow,Rocking Dog

Before The Snow

First Aid Room,Rocking Dog

First Aid Room

Coffee & Cake,Rocking Dog

Coffee & Cake

Snow & Metal,Rocking Dog

Snow & Metal

Snow Patrol,Rocking Dog

Snow Patrol

Monochrome Morning,Rocking Dog

Monochrome Morning

Stockholm,Rocking Dog

Stockholm

Penchant For Gingham!, Rocking Dog

Penchant For Gingham!

Scandi' Inspired Creativity,Rocking Dog

Scandi’ Inspired Creativity

Bake A Cake,Rocking Dog

Bake A Cake

Sew A New Coat,Rocking Dog

Sew A New Coat

Next Trip,Rocking Dog

Next Trip

A Trip To Deepest Darkest Wales

The Gower, Cornwall But Without The Crowds!,Rocking Dog

The Gower, Cornwall But Without The Crowds!

Once upon a time a long long time ago we started our married life in deepest darkest Wales. Andyman was in the RAF and we lived in a little married quarter in St Athan. As he wasn’t an officer we didn’t have the privilege of fitted carpets but a very large carpet piece. If my memory serves me correctly the lounge “mat” was orange with lime green rings. The arm chairs were equally attractive, with stretch nylon covers in purple and green camouflage pattern! Farrow & Ball had yet to be developed and the walls were RAF issue antique gold. In spite of a very challenging colour palette Andyman and I were very happy in our first home together. After qualifying as an army nurse I then spent a year showcasing Wrangler jeans and corduroy’s in a large Cardiff department store.

In time I was accepted for midwifery training at the University Hospital of Wales. Four days or so after starting my course Andyman met me from the bus stop to tell me he was being posted to Germany, perfect timing…not! There was the dilemma as to whether to go with him to Germany or to complete my 18 month midwifery course. Sensible head told me to remain in Wales. So that’s what I did. There were frequent flights, ferry crossings and even one or two hovercraft journeys over that next year and a half. Eventually I joined Andyman in Germany and that’s where my link with Wales ended.

However… a midwife who I trained with have kept in touch. We went over to see her and lovely paediatrician husband at the weekend. We always have such a wonderful time with them and enjoy yummy food, wine and chat. There is always a great walk on the cards when we visit. This time we headed out in the car on a short car journey from their house to Llanmadoc on the north west Gower peninsula.

I can see why people say that the Gower is like Cornwall….. but without the crowds. The scenery is truly spectacular with huge sweeps of white sandy coastline, sand dunes, wooded areas, craggy outcrops and a multitude of flora & fauna. We were literally the only folk on the beach on Saturday and the skies were impossibly blue. It was widely reported that Wales and the South West experienced an earthquake on Saturday. Though walking close to the epicentre of the earthquake we felt absolutely nothing!

There were shells to find, plastic flotsam and jetsam to moan about, and hills to huff and puff up! Real Live Rocking Dog loved having the beach to himself, but i’m sure in his little heart wished for a ball to play with. We stopped briefly at a bench in Hansel and Gretel style woodland to watch the skeleton. Well done Lizzy and Laura.

Five miles of walking ended with a drink and sarnie at the characterful Britannia Inn. Next time we must taste the Salt marsh lamb which the Gower is famous for. Sheep feed on samphire, sorrel, sea lavender and thrift.

It was time to say goodbye to our buddies and to promise not to leave such a big gap before the next time. It was wonderful, truly wonderful and there really isn’t anything better than sea air and good friends. Thank you xx

Rocky Climb,Rocking Dog

Rocky Climb

Seaside Treasure,Rocking Dog

Seaside Treasure

Beach To Himself,Rocking Dog

Beach To Himself

Sand Dunes & Salty Air,Rocking Dog

Sand Dunes & Salty Air

Tall Pines,Rocking Dog

Tall Pines

Hansel & Gretel,Rocking Dog

Hansel & Gretel

Skeleton Bench,Rocking Dog

Skeleton Bench

Lone Pine,Rocking Dog

Lone Pine

Dog Tired!,Rocking Dog

Dog Tired!

Enjoying A Bit Of Baking On A Lazy Sunday Morning

Sweet Infusion,Rocking Dog

Sweet Infusion

I hope the weekend was enjoyable and that you were able to stay snug! My weekend was one filled with lots of bits and pieces. I started on a Roman blind for the kitchen (I thought it was about time I made something for myself!), I looked for a new bathroom and nipped into see a friend. There was also an afternoon tidying the garden whilst coping with a prolonged hail storm. Poor Real Live Rocking Dog decided he did NOT like hail!

However, on Sunday morning it was all about a gentle spot of baking. I cooked another recipe from “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh. The latest sugary concoction was a Chocolate tart with hazelnut, rosemary and orange. Quite unusual for me I didn’t “go off piste” and followed the recipe almost to the T. Saying that I didn’t have enough hazelnuts for the praline/brittle so made up the shortfall with almonds and pistachio’s. I also chose to make the pastry by hand rather than in the processor. I’m sorry but pastry done with light handling cannot be surpassed by a swanky machine!

Pastry made, Rosemary sprigs brushed with egg white and dusted with sugar, cream infused, it was all gently enjoyable. I loved how the praline/brittle was approached in this recipe. Praline can be notoriously difficult and you can land up with a sugar crystal’y nutty heap. This brittle was made by placing the syrups and sugar into a pan, heating until the sugar dissolved and then transferring it into a lined baking tin to bake for 7 minutes.

With all the preparation done for the tart and The Archer’s sadly at an end I headed out into the garden.

With leaves gathered, steps brushed, little wild violets marvelled at, it was time for a bath and the return to my baking.

Whilst the tart was blind baking I melted chocolate, made a sabayon (egg yolks and sugar), chopped my brittle and read my recipe! The crisp tart base was given a layer of chopped nut brittle and awaited its chocolatey cloak. The chocolate, sabayon and strained cream were folded together and spooned into the tart case and baked for 12 minutes or so.

After cooling, the tart was given a generous dusting of cocoa and embellished with shards of brittle and the crystallised rosemary sprigs. I’m sorry about the finished picture, it honestly looked better in real life.

It was DELICIOUS! I LOVE Yotam, but then I think you already know that.

I hope you have a good week and stay cosy!

Love Rocking Dog x

Read The Recipe,Rocking Dog

Read The Recipe

Handle Carefully,Rocking Dog

Handle Carefully

Blind Bake,Rocking Dog

Blind Bake

Crystallise Rosemary,Rocking Dog

Crystallise Rosemary

Praline For Idiots!,Rocking Dog

Praline For Idiots!

All Dressed Up & Ready To Go!,Rocking Dog

All Dressed Up & Ready To Go!

Food For Friends – Ottolenghi Style.

Ottolenghi's Sweet Offering, Rocking Dog

Ottolenghi’s Sweet Offering

After cooking for 160 Haggis eating folk last weekend it was lovely cook for friends this weekend. How very wonderful it was to have my lovely friend sitting at our table, at last able to eat and enjoy food. Her journey is truly remarkable.

On Saturday evening there were decisions to be made as to just what to cook for our guests. I’m afraid dear old Ottolenghi’s tomes came out…. but I did try some new recipes as well as some old favourites.

There was hummus from “Jerusalem” together with Saffron rice with barberries, pistachio’s & mixed herbs. I substituted currants and goji berries for the barberries and totally forgot to put the pistachio’s in! I also did a Spicy beetroot, leek and walnut salad from “Jerusalem”. Very delicious.

Ottolenghi’s first recipe book (“The Cookbook”) supplied me with the main event, Harissa-marinated chicken with red grapefruit salad. There was also a citrus’y sauce to go with the chicken. Time didn’t allow me to make flatbreads, so shop bought versions were given a flash in the oven.

Dessert was Pistachio roulade with raspberries and white chocolate and this recipe came from Ottolenghi’s latest book “Sweet” which he co-wrote with Helen Goh.

All food for this lunch was easy to prepare and cook…. and tasted yummy! If you haven’t tried the hummus, it really is the best i’ve ever tasted and can be tweaked with addition of fresh herbs, a topping of crisply fried onions or toasted pine-nuts.

We drank a lovely red and delighted in the warmth of the wood-burner. However more than anything it was so lovely to share food with amazing friends.

Hallelujah Burn’s Night is over for another year! Andyman has been busy piping and being vocal with the Selkirk Grace over a number of evenings this week. I haven’t done my usual little bit of silliness with the Toby jug folk, so I hope you’ll allow me now to be just a little bit nutty to bring Burn’s celebrations to a close. If you haven’t already met my Toby jug folk there’s tankard swigging Toby who’s just a little bit grumpy and gouty. Then there is Mrs Mac who REALLY is a present from Fleetwood. Toby and Mrs Mac were bought on the same day in different charity shops. Their joining was simply meant to be. Living a peaceful and happy life with no doubt some shenanigan’s when the lights went out there was a fateful day when Wee Tam’ came to join them on THEIR mantlepiece. Mrs Mac is really superciliously fickle and shamelessly has a soft spot for a man in a wee kilt… a menage a trois has developed. What goes on after dark is anybodies guess, but we need to remember Real Live Rocking Dog slumbers there as does Luminous Mary! Enough of this super-silly twaddle, all that 36 kg haggis has gone to my brain!

Have a lovely week.

Love Rocking Dog x

The Rocking Dog Creative Huddle reconvenes this Wednesday 7pm-9pm, all welcome. Over £100 was raised last year for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider. Thank you. Donations into the teapot to carry on the work of this amazing charity. Homemade cake, warming drinks, gentle chat and maybe a bit of sewing etc… going on!

The Best Hummus,Rocking Dog

The Best Hummus

Gift Wrap Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Gift Wrap Beetroot

Unwrapped Beetroot,Rocking Dog

Unwrapped Beetroot

Pomegranate Garnish, Rocking Dog

Pomegranate Garnish

Gorgeous Grains,Rocking Dog

Gorgeous Grains

The Main Event,Rocking Dog

The Main Event

Something Sweet On The Lips!,Rocking Dog

Something Sweet On The Lips!

Nuts For Dessert,Rocking Dog

Nuts For Dessert

Goodbye Burn's Night!,Rocking Dog

Goodbye Burn’s Night!

Rocking Dog Holiday Snaps

Salami In Spello,Rocking Dog

Salami In Spello

A while ago I promised a white post. It seems really on trend to produce beautiful faded pearlescent blogs. Rocking Dog loves colour but I challenged myself to do a post using less eye poppingly colourful snaps! With temperatures in Umbria hot enough to want to whip off the pool cover, there was certainly no shortage of colour. Skies were lapiz blue, ploughed farmland rich terracotta and trees were clinging onto their beautiful yellow and rust cloaks.

In my collection there are many photo’s of gaudily lovely geraniums, harvests of rosy apples, pomegranates, sun dappled buildings and of course THE olives! Yet this post shows off timeworn hand painted ceiling friezes, ancient stone masonry, Umbrian autumn mists and delectable Umbrian produce.  Also included in my white post is the pristine white marble
Flying Services Memorial at Arras, France.

In this post I think I should have included our poor garden. With the intense heat of the summer the “grass” resembled Texan buffalo herding scrubland. Soon it will be seeded with a coarse and very hardy Argentinian grass. We are hopeful it will look green and verdant when spring arrives.

During our stay we used the chainsaw, electric hedge trimmer, branch lopper, wheelbarrow and rake. Alas the hammock remained unused and the telescope never got to view twinkling constellations. One day!

Number 5 now has a beautiful wood-burning stove (thank you to Firebox, St Werburgh’s for supplying our Mendip Woodland, it looks great). The stove installation necessitated  the building of a new chimney. I couldn’t help thinking that the style of chimney probably hadn’t changed since Roman times. Testing the stove for the first time, felt like watching for the smoke from the Vatican when choosing a new pope!

In between heavy duty gardening and olive picking there were opportunities to explore “new” hilltop towns, to take part in the bread & oil festival and to come together for the village halloween party. There was also the small matter of partaking in a number of wine tasting evenings in preparation for an Umbrian wedding (the daughter of good friends). It was such a good excuse to sample Umbrian grapes in a glass.

Friends and family came to pick and to ultimately taste the new olive oil. It was lovely to share the sun and spend time enjoying autumn in Umbria. Real Live Rocking Dog very quickly realised that he could gather extra food rations if he hovered under baby Douglas’s high chair!

We had a truly lovely time and the village couldn’t have made us feel more welcome. It really is time to learn the language. Ciao!

 

Arras Memorial,Rocking Dog

Arras Memorial

Fortress, Cortona,Rocking Dog

Fortress, Cortona

Morning Walk,Rocking Dog

Morning Walk

Lovely Lighting,Rocking Dog

Lovely Lighting

Timeworn Numero,Rocking Dog

Timeworn Numero

Ceiling Whimsy,Rocking Dog

Ceiling Whimsy

Cheese,Rocking Dog

Cheese

Gelato,Rocking Dog

Gelato

...& Aragosta!,Rocking Dog

…& Aragosta!

The Gentle Week That Was

Bringing Autumn In,Rocking Dog

Bringing Autumn In

I hope you have had a good weekend, that there were good places to go, lovely things to eat and the enjoyment of the new season. A week has passed and a gentle week “that was” is now gathering pace.

Too boring to discuss Rocking Dog has not been feeling chipper and now after super charged doses of anti-inflammatories i’m wagging my tail again and ready to play ball! I haven’t been able to let the week pass in a completely nothing’y fug. I have managed to bake and sew, but everything has taken sooooo much longer! There were 70’s zoo print stockings lovingly sewn (and now awaiting whizzy embellishments), a pie for rockstars, and cakes to deliver to neighbours from the cake fairy.

There was even a Sunday roast yesterday and it was lovely to cook for friends and family. I just gently did it. The table looked autumnal with cones, nuts and antique jug filled with rose-hips, seed heads, leaves and twigs. I love a good table!

As ever Real Live Rocking Dog always needs a walk, but last week everything was done at a slower pace. On Friday the autumnal colours were truly beautiful and I revelled in spotting the flash of a Kingfisher and a little further up river a Heron doing some early morning fishing.

There has been planning too for the trip later this week to the cemeteries in Belgium and France for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” Project. Cemetery plans have been studied and details of grave & memorials plotted. Worryingly for me an understanding of Roman numerals has been required. Route planning, accommodation, shuttle, etc… Andyman and I have finally had to buckle down! Thank you to the lovely Eddie Jones of the British Legion at Frampton Cotterell who boxed up forty little wooden crosses for me. The contents of that box made me feel really sad, the representation of so many young lives cut short.

Today there is the small matter of packing and rather like the well publicised shopping list that was circulating last week our car will have a rather eclectic haul. 1 wood-burning stove, 2 sections of flue pipe, various stove bits, a high chair, a chain saw, a child’s circus tent, umbrellas, insect repellant etc..etc..

After stops in France and Switzerland we will be in place to start the olive harvest.

Have a great week. Love Rocking Dog x

Condiments,Rocking Dog

Condiments

Dishing Up, Rocking Dog

Dishing Up

Red Cabbage & More,Rocking Dog

Red Cabbage & More

Ready To Embellish,Rocking Dog

Ready To Embellish

Cake Fairy Packages,Rocking Dog

Cake Fairy Packages

Pie For Rockstars!,Rocking Dog

Pie For Rockstars!

"Remember Me" Trip Planning,Rocking Dog

“Remember Me” Trip Planning

Autumn Leaves &...,Rocking Dog

Autumn Leaves &…

....Autumn Fruits,Rocking Dog

….Autumn Fruits

Cake, Crochet, Salsa and Atilla The Hun

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake.Rocking Dog

NT Lemon & Poppy Seed Cake

A small but perfectly formed huddle congregated at the kennel last night. Crochet, cross stitch and chat went on as did cutting a freshly baked Rocking Dog cake. This months bake was from my newest cookery tome “Sweet” by Yotam Ottolenghi (yes that old chestnut!) & Helen Goh. I love the cover of the book, meanwhile there are some truly enticing recipes beyond its jam swirled cover. I surmise that some recipes would need an afternoon of completing layers, compotes, biscuit bases and delectable ornamentation. I needed something quick, there was poor old tooth extracted Real Live Rocking dog to rescue from the vet!

Lemon and poppy seed cake was chosen for the September huddle. The cake was easy to make and rather curiously included double cream in its makeup. After 40 or so minutes in the oven a lemon glaze was poured onto its golden top and it then left to cool. Simple!

As ever I didn’t do any sewing or anything creative but I did talk about my fast approaching visits to Belgian and French war cemeteries for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me” project. I didn’t quite realise what a feat it was going to be to pay homage to the local WW1 heroes. There are now currently 22 French cemeteries to visit, together with 4 Belgian cemeteries. Looking for a place to “camp up” for two nights Andyman and I thought it may be convenient to stay in Lens. Looking at airbnb’s in the area we thought it rather strange that everything looked picturesquely alpine chalet. Ah yes the snow, the wooden cabins, pines and roaring fires belonged to Lens, Switzerland and not Lens, France! Back to the drawing board!

Keep Calm & Carry On Karen did come to the huddle and gave us the latest on the house renovation. There were photo’s of buckets catching rain water, tile-less rafters, dust, Atilla The Hun (garian) builder and general chaos. We are in awe of you Karen and your faith in that all will be well. We can all understand your concerns about the 1930’s pump action yacht toilet which eccentric husband has enthusiastically bought. Di’ gave us the grim news that Christmas has arrived in John Lewis, is it just me or does the Christmas frenzy get earlier each year? “Strictly”, “Bake Off”, my being expelled from a salsa class, hoarding relatives, extension plans, olive picking and the joys of being a doctor in 2017 all provided lively discussion subjects.

As for the cake, well it was rather delicious especially eaten with a spoonful of glorious Greek yoghurt. We bow to you Yotam and Helen.

Thank you huddlers you were great company on a dark and wet September night. Love Rocking Dog x

PS No October huddle due to those pesky olives! We will chattily reconvene in November for mulled wine infused creativity.

Naughty Bakery!,Rocking Dog

Naughty Bakery!

Recipe,Rocking Dog

Recipe

Loads Of Lemons,Rocking Dog

Loads Of Lemons

The Glaze,Rocking Dog

The Glaze

The C Word,Rocking Dog

The C Word

Vintage Appreciation,Rocking Dog

Vintage Appreciation

The Rocking Dog Remember Me Project

Remember Me,Rocking Dog

Remember Me

Real Live Rocking Dog and I have been walking together for a glorious ten years now. Many of our walks have taken us close to the war memorial on Whiteshill Common, Hambrook. I have often stopped and looked at the names on the edifice, many of the surnames have seemed very familiar to me. Having been brought up in a village close by I have more than likely rubbed shoulders in years gone by with the sons, nephews, grandsons and maiden aunts etc.. of those commemorated on the memorial.

For a while now I have been wanting to research those 53 WW1 names on the memorial to link in with next years Armistice centenary. Then my plans became more bold, I decided I wanted to visit the graves/memorials of these fallen soldiers. The challenge has begun.

As we are heading through France and Belgium next month I have started to research the resting places of all those inscribed names. I am ashamed to say I was incredibly naive to think that the majority of these servicemen would be in a couple of cemeteries. Thus far I will need to visit 18 French cemeteries and 2 in Belgium. There are some Commonwealth graves in local churchyards and one that I will visit in the Rhondda, Wales. Others are off limits due to their location or security risk (Iraq (formerly Mesopotamia), Azerbajan, Israel, Gallipoli and Greece). The biggest of the cemeteries I need to visit is the Thiepval Memorial with over 72,000 casualties. Meanwhile other cemeteries to visit have only 100 or so casualties. I am wondering which I am going to be most moved by, the enormity of Thiepval or the intimacy of the smaller cemeteries. Thiepval is the largest Commonwealth Memorial to the missing in the world. Most of those commemorated there died during the Somme Offensive of 1916.

I have been using Ancestry.co.uk, the Commonwealth Graves Commission site and local archives (including Frenchay Museum) to conduct my research. The research has led me to war memorial plaques at Marlborough College and the Australian War Memorial. It has also uncovered stories of the near blind villager who knitted a large quantity of woollen mittens and socks for those in the trenches at Gallipoli. There are stories of a villager housing many Belgian refugees and other locals who were instrumental in organising & sending out Christmas parcels to the soldiers of the villages. These parcels were an amazing morale boost for the men at the front. Others nursed at a temporary hospital tending the wounded, whilst others managed poultry to lay eggs for the patients.

As 2018 beckons I want to start compiling A4 sheets (which will be laminated) of the lives and deaths of these soldiers. With the current householders’ permissions I hope to attach one of these “Remember Me” sheets to a door or gate where the soldier was bought up, schooled, worshipped or worked. I will hopefully be able to track down photo’s and personalise each history. These soldiers will simply not be allowed to be just a name on a war memorial. Thank you to kind friends who are knitting poppies to attach to the histories. Pretty please sometime later I would love to buddy up with anyone who has a super duper laminator!

I am hoping that the culmination of all this will be a vintage tea next November. The icing on the cake would be if ancestors of those commemorated came to pay tribute to their relative, and of course to eat Rocking Dog cake.

I include photo’s of my Great Aunt Susan who was called up to be a nurse with the Expeditionary Force in the first few days of the war. Another photo shows my two great uncles, one of whom (David Cresser) served in Gallipoli with the Anzacs. He also had the honour of raising the Union Flag in German occupied Samoa. Finally another photo shows my Grandfather John Warrington Scott (top right, bit of a lad!) He served with Royal Engineers and was very badly gassed in the trenches. Thankfully all these relatives returned home to Scotland and New Zealand.

Have you got relatives who served in WW1? As the 2018 centenary beckons let us Remember Them.

Have a good week and stay cosy, autumn seems to have arrived! Love Rocking Dog x

 War Memorial Rocking Dog

War Memorial,

Frenchay Church,Rocking Dog

Frenchay Church

Commonwealth Grave,Rocking Dog

Commonwealth Grave

Royal Engineer Grandfather,Rocking Dog

Royal Engineer Grandfather

My Great Uncles WW1,Rocking Dog

My Great Uncles WW1

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France,Rocking Dog

Gt Aunt Susan WW1, France