Tag Archives: Snow

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


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

Come In From The Cold! Rocking Dog Creative Huddle,Thursday.

Rocking Dog Haberdashery,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Haberdashery

It’s time to come in from the cold and join Rocking Dog at the kennel for February’s creative huddle. Well that’s not strictly true because we’ll have landed in March! I am cooking with some lovely Young Carer’s on Wednesday so instead we’re meeting on Thursday 7-9pm. Please come along to talk gentle talk and eat delicious Rocking Dog cake. Get those fingers busy sewing, knitting, crocheting- whatever you fancy.

Donations into the big jolly teapot for Fine Cell Work, encouraging and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

Rocking Dog would love to see you on Thursday and hope that the snow drifts aren’t so big that huddlers can’t get to the creative hub!

Have a great week and stay cosy.

Love Rocking Dog x

Rocking Dog’s Lost Week

It Snowed!,Rocking Dog

It Snowed!

I am the bear that hibernated for a week, no posts, no words, no thoughts for posts. Unlike a growly wintry soporific bear I was not sleeping in a cosy den, but I was feeling quiet. I let myself forget about words and painted. Ceiling, walls & skirting boards felt dashes of Wevet, bog standard white and Charleston Gray. The changes are insignificant, yet constructive.

I sewed for me and with my lovely brave friend. Sewing is so therapeutic, I can truly recommend it, I just wish it burnt of calories like a dose of Zumba! I cooked for friends, dishes included Delia’s golden rosti capped Fish Pie and Rick Stein’s Almond Tart. Comfort food to warm the cockles! I also allowed myself time to transcribe a few more recipes from my beloved 1846 handwritten cook book. There were recipes for potting shrimps, stewing cheese, making gooseberry vinegar and a recipe for making potato yeast when common yeast was scarce. How I love my little book, I should set myself the challenge of cooking all the recipes a la Julia & Julia!

Plans on how to do the final touches to our little place in Umbria occupied me as did planning for Christmas! No not THAT Christmas, the one that is happening on Saturday to mark Burn’s Night. Yes I know its late…. but.. This year I wanted a ski chalet theme so we are paying homage to Wham’s “Last Christmas”. So .. there is turkey and all the trimmings, Christmas pud’, mince pies (groan!), trifle and retro cocktails. I suppose as it’s belated Burn’s there ought to be haggis too. The tree is going up… again, there’ll be crackers, “Rockpipes” and mistletoe… yes, I am totally mad! However… on a serious front any cash donations will be put to providing “Christmas in a Box” for Young Carer’s families in particular need when the real Christmas comes around again. It will come around sooner than we know it.

It was so lovely to see snow last week, alas only a small dusting. It never seems to snow like it did when we were children. Depressing that it’s probably all to do with global warming… and YES Mr dumb arse Trump there really is such a thing! Pretty please can I order some snow for Saturday it would make my “Last Christmas” dreams come true!

No snow today, but a wonderful restorative walk close to the Severn with one of the Rocking Dog Huddlers. Lambs, winter sunshine, good conversation (thank you Karen) and six miles of mud later I was ready to stop hibernating and to get back to some words.

Thank you for your patience. Love Rocking Dog x

PS You may just ask where Andyman was during my brief hibernation… skiing in the same resort as the Geordie Shore lot were being filmed! Hmmmm, classy!

Snowy Dessert,Rocking Dog

Snowy Dessert

Snow Sprinkled Tart,Rocking Dog

Snow Sprinkled Tart

Promise Of Warmth,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Warmth

Paint Job,Rocking Dog

Paint Job

Therapeutic Sewing,Rocking Dog

Therapeutic Sewing

Ongoing Transcribing,Rocking Dog

Ongoing Transcribing

Planning For Italy,Rocking Dog

Planning For Italy

....Ditto!,Rocking Dog


& Planning Christmas!,Rocking Dog

& Planning Christmas!

Restorative Walk,Rocking Dog

Restorative Walk

Aahhh! Baby Lambs,Rocking Dog

Aahhh! Baby Lambs

...& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!,Rocking Dog

…& God Damned Tired Real Live Rocking Dog!

Rocking Dog Still Pickling and Jellying!

Getting Pickled!, Rocking Dog

Getting Pickled!

Rocking Dog is making the most of the crab apple harvest. Organically grown crab apples have been cooked with cider vinegar and rosemary. The pulp is now being allowed to drip slowly, slowly, slowly through a jelly bag. Juice extracted, the mixture will be returned to the pan and sugar will be added. Voila – jelly will be produced. I think it’s going to be a glorious colour. The jelly would be wonderful served with lamb and a great alternative to mint sauce.

Another batch or two of pickles will be cooked up and then it really will be time to Frou the kennel. Thankfully we don’t need to go far to buy a tree and mistletoe. How nostalgic it would be to pull the tree through the snow on a sledge. I know i’m a sentimental old fool!

There will be some wonderful apple juice for sale on Sunday. Produced by the boys with the gorgeous Mr McGregor style vegetable patch, the juice is made from old apple varieties. Buy some for Christmas for those souls who are driving. They will certainly not feel shortchanged.

Crab Apple Harvest,Rocking Dog

Crab Apple Harvest

Jolly Lids,Rocking Dog

Jolly Lids

Rocking Dog Looks After The Birds

Feed Me!, Rocking Dog

Feed Me!

With the current mild weather it doesn’t seem of paramount importance to feed the birds. However, whilst I went in search of red and tan shoe polishes I came across an empty coconut shell. Does anyone else have a rather eclectic under-sink cupboard? I had a slight light bulb moment. I could use the shell plus the seeds and nuts I had set aside (they were past their best before date) to make a seedy bird cake.

To make your own seedy bird cake-

1. Drill a hole in your coconut half and thread with a loop of string.
2. Plug the string hole with a little piece of crumpled greaseproof paper (this stops the fat melted leaking)
3. Melt approximately 150g lard or white vegetable fat in a pan over a low heat. Cool slightly.
4. Stir in pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and nuts- whatever you have to hand.
5. Place coconut shell in a bowl which supports it whilst the melted fat sets.
6. Pour the nut/fat mix into the coconut shell. Cool, before transferring to the fridge to set.
7. After about an hour your filled shell should be set and ready to hang from a branch or bird table.

After my making moment, I did get around to using the red and tan shoe polishes. I love brightly coloured shoes, and recently discovered that I didn’t have any dark shoes to wear to a funeral. I sheepishly slunk into the pew wearing scarlet leather brogues. The only thing that made it feel ok, was knowing that the lady we were all remembering loved clothes and colour. Black shoes have a depression inducing effect on me, strange when black clothes are a wardrobe staple.

Later, I made food for my own boy chick, pudding being homemade windfall apple pie with homemade custard. I hope he and lovely fiancee thought it was worth the drive over!

Here’s hoping you have a great weekend ahead of you and that things aren’t too frenetically busy. One thing’s for certain we haven’t got a white Christmas (link- May The Force Be With You!!) to look forward to. BAH HUMBUG!

The Components, Rocking Dog

The Components

Fat, Nuts & Seeds, Rocking Dog

Fat, Nuts & Seeds

Coconut Mould, Rocking Dog

Coconut Mould

Fridge Fodder, Rocking Dog

Fridge Fodder

Come & Get Me!, Rocking Dog

Come & Get Me!

Food For My Chick, Rocking Dog

Food For My Chick

I’m Dreaming Of a White Christmas!

snowy real live rocking dog, rocking dog

Snowy Real Live Rocking Dog

Yes, Real Live Rocking Dog is dreaming of a white Christmas. However, the lovely Carol Kirkwood doesn’t think it’s going to be, that’s unless you are hiking on some godforsaken Scottish peak. RLR Dog comes over a bit silly when there’s been a snowfall- he doesn’t quite know whether to eat the snow, roll in it or dash around in mad circles!

Two of the photo’s here were taken in the mid sixties when snow somehow seemed deeper, whiter, crisper, gathered in huge drifts and seemingly hung around for the entire winter! My dad Doug, adored the snow, or rather sledging, and would be so excited to bring out the sledge for its first voyage on unchartered freshly fallen snow. Our infamous childhood sledge was constructed by Doug, and consisted of basically a door on huge copper tubing runners, you could seat about four on it. How it didn’t seriously maim anyone heaven’s knows! We sledged on Frenchay Moor a.k.a. The Hilly Fields and we’d keep on going until we could not feel our fingers or toes any more! Heinz Tomato Soup would revive feeling to our extremities and then we’d possibly head out into the garden to build a snowman to get cold all over again!

The Putz House folk have snow already, lucky things. I love the old 60’s kitsch village buildings, but this one is a contemporary version from Rachel Ashwell’s shop in NY. It came back with me a few years ago in my hand luggage.

Well, if snow doesn’t look likely we can  spray snow 1970’s Dickensian style into the corners of the window panes. The thought of washing windows so early in the new year  (in fact anytime!) really does make that idea so completely and utterly unappealing! I really am no domestic goddess.

Have a truly wonderful weekend- it will soon be the time to scrabble around for the last Brussels Sprout on the shelf, perish the thought!

doug clearing snow 1960's, rocking dog

Doug Clearing Snow 1960’s

snowman building 1967 isn, rocking dog

Snowman Building 1967 ish

smug putz house folk, rocking dog

Smug Putz House Folk