Tag Archives: Spring

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

Little Hints Of Spring In The Air

Bough Of Catkins,Rocking Dog

Bough Of Catkins

Looking back at the Rocking Dog blog posts of the first month of 2017 it must seem I have been tucked up in the kennel and not ventured out much. Although highly tempting to huddle somewhere warm and cosy there is an energetic Real Live Rocking Dog to walk. Through mud, rain and wintry greyness he tackles his twice daily treks with gusto. With a new pair of unleaky sale price “Hunters” my walks are thankfully definitely more pleasurable than they have been over the last few months!

Yesterday there were tantalising little hints of spring being in the air. Boughs of citrine yellow catkins swayed in the breeze enjoying a brief window of winter sunshine and blue tinged skies. I loved the branches of pretty pink blossom and vowed that “yes” I wanted one of these early flowering shrubs in my garden. In the nook of an ancient Copper Beech  someone had carefully positioned a jar of cheerful daffodils. Whilst I walked I wondered whether the lovely floral shrine had been created to remember a much loved human or pet. I pondered a lot.

Meanwhile on the swollen river a forlorn Cormorant seemed to be waiting for a mate to swoop in. I hope St Valentine lends a helping hand.

At home the snowdrops have gallantly pushed through, poor little things they have had quite a struggle to get through a thick layer of decomposing leaves. Why oh why didn’t I get around to “closing up the garden” in the autumn! With drier days hopefully in the air I can get on out there and absolve my guilt for abandoning all plans and hard grafting during 2016.

I hope hints of Spring are beginning to spring up wherever you are in the world. Love Rocking Dog x

PS. The food just keeps a comin’! Recipe tested yesterday a Courgette, Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Gratin and a  delicious Caramelised Carrot, Red Onion and Feta Tarte Tartin. We are being truly spoilt by talented recipe developer daughter. Thank you. Slim Fast next week me thinks and some jet propelled walking in the new boots!

Pretty Pink,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pink

Blue Tinge Sky, Rocking Dog

Blue Tinge Sky

Hardy Snowdrops,Rocking Dog

Hardy Snowdrops

Looking For A Mate,Rocking Dog

Looking For A Mate

Promise Of Spring Shrine,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Spring Shrine

The Food Keeps A Comin'!,Rocking Dog

The Food Keeps A Comin’!

Rocking Dog’s Woodland Wild Flower Show

Spring Flower Show, Rocking Dog

Spring Flower Show

Yesterday was such a lovely day. The Frome Valley Walkway was resplendent with its magnificent carpet of bluebells. Wood anenomes, wild garlic, king cups, and delicate violets added to the intricate warp and weft.

The river was still, reflective and calm. I spotted a heron, it’s beady eye looking for a fishy morsel. A noise startled him, and he took to the skies. There is something so prehistoric about herons as they take flight. Meanwhile, in a nearby field lambs were gaining independence from their mothers. Every now and again they’d return to suckle and seek reassurance before returning to independent play and socialising.

The hedgerows are now in full white starry bloom, wild plum, blackthorn, damson and cherry. Taking shelter under their gnarled and thorny branches, wild primroses, cow parsley, white bells and budding summer blooms of a story yet to be told.

In the field Real Live Rocking Dog loved a roll in the lengthening grass. The white rabbits have miraculously survived the winter AND the fox who lives in the bordering orchard. Pleasingly the swallows are back from their long winter migration to sunnier climes and have begun their swooping aerobatics. They will continue to show off their flying skills when clover, wild sorrel, plantain, moon daisies and poppies return to the field. They will continue long after the grass has been cut for animal fodder. It will only be when the nights start getting shorter and when there is a chill and stillness in the air that they will think about the long perilous journey back to Africa.

But why think of autumn when delicious spring has just arrived!

Woodland Glade, Rocking Dog

Woodland Glade

Transient Bloom, Rocking Dog

Transient Bloom

Wild Violets, Rocking Dog

Wild Violets

Thorny Branch, Rocking Dog

Thorny Branch

Fresh As A..., Rocking Dog

Fresh As A…

Sentimental Flower, Rocking Dog

Sentimental Flower

Wild Spring Blooms, Rocking Dog

Wild Spring Blooms

Woolly Neighbours, Rocking Dog

Woolly Neighbours

Pretty Mantlepiece, Rocking Dog

Pretty Mantlepiece

An Archive Post By Default!

It's Hot Cross Bun Time!, Rocking Dog

It’s Hot Cross Bun Time!

On Saturday evening we headed out to the Souk Kitchen, Apsley Road. After parking the car I attempted to shut the car door. After three attempts I realised there could just perhaps be something preventing it closing properly. DOH! it was my camera. The irreparable damage to said camera has made me resort to archive pictures today.

So no pictures of all the delicious food we ate at The Souk i’m afraid. Lovely memories however of eating soft shell crab, flatbreads, taramasalata, Halloumi with mango, Merguez Sausage and houmous. Our party of four skipped main courses, but of course could not resist something sweet. Delicious.

Spring is still trying to desperately struggle through the cheek nipping cold. On Friday I went to blow away the cobwebs on The Downs with Real Live Rocking Dog. This green lung is Bristol’s answer to Central Park. Snow, sun and the wind buffeted me across the green frosty expanse. The views along the Avon Gorge were magnificent, and Brunel’s Clifton Suspension Bridge looked resplendent in the glinting sunshine. Large hawks soared above the gorge enjoying the warming thermals and I briskly moved on, trying to find my own warmth!

In the garden, snowdrops, hellebores and primroses are all peeping through. I am a warm weather gardener and I sadly haven’t yet been tempted to get out there digging.

The cold outside invites thoughts for warming food inside. With generous stashes of Hot Cross Buns in the shops what could be lovelier than a Bread & Butter Pudding using these seasonal buns (click on link for the Rocking Dog recipe). Of course out of season brioche slices or buns could be used, and at Christmas what could be more festive than using Panettone (perhaps with a dollop or two of mincemeat and candied peel).

Tomorrow I am on a mission to walk along part of the Frome Valley Walkway to find wild garlic. It is also known as Bear’s Garlic, Devils Garlic, Gypsy’s Onions, and Stinking Jenny (I wonder who poor Jenny was!) Oldest daughter is recipe testing for Abel & Cole and needs a supply of this pungent leaf. If my mission is successful a large bundle will be making its way by rail on Wednesday evening. The leaves of this seasonal crop are useful for making soups, pesto, and in tarts and casseroles. I can’t say i’m fond of eating it, but I adore seeing it’s pretty starry white flowers in its shaded woodland habitat.

I hope you are enjoying the first glimpses of spring whilst hopefully staying warm and cosy.

Hellebores, Rocking Dog

Hellebores

Primrose Place, Rocking Dog

Primrose Place

Snowdrops, Rocking Dog

Snowdrops

Follow Me For..., Rocking Dog

Follow Me For…

 Wild Garlic, Rocking Dog

Wild Garlic

Cobweb Blowing, Rocking Dog

Cobweb Blowing

Celebrating The Fleeting Lilac Season

Lilac Hues, Rocking Dog

Lilac Hues

How fleeting the lilac season is. Resplendent showy floral spikes in hues of mauves, pinks, deep purple, magenta and whites. To smell their sweet perfume on a warm spring evening suggests that Summer is just around the corner.

This is a post to celebrate predominantly purplish hues. I love the Rococo chocolate box, the contents were devoured long ago, but the box is a permanent decorative fixture. Laduree also execute wonderful packaging for their magical macarons, again, I can’t bear to part with the boxes. Many of these are in tranquil pistachio, pinks and lilacs, embossed with luxuriant gilded script.

In the millennium year we were lucky enough to do a holiday house exchange to Seattle. When the family requested the swap I am ashamed to say I had to reach for the map book. I had no concept of where Seattle sat on the US map, obviously I should have taken more notice of “Sleepless in Seattle” ! The swap was a great success, though I rather think Mr Seattle must have been very happy to see his super huge bed again being 6ft 5″! Back to purple….. I bought some great books in the city by Tracy PorterCarolyn Quartermaine’s “Unwrapped”. Yummy for home and food styling ideas.

Yep! I love the flower and I love purple! Yes I was a Donny Osmond fan a century ago!

Have a lovely weekend.

Scented White Lilac, Rocking Dog

Scented White Lilac

Our Lilac Bower, Rocking Dog

Our Lilac Bower

Room Fragrance, Rocking Dog

Room Fragrance

Tracy Porter Frou, Rocking Dog

Tracy Porter Frou

Perfect Pink, Rocking Dog

Perfect Pink

Purple Hue, Rocking Dog

Purple Hue

Spring Along The Frome Valley Walkway

Fleeting Blueness, Rocking Dog

Fleeting Blueness

Nothing is so beautiful as Spring
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;

Extract from Spring. Gerard Manley Hopkins

We are truly fortunate to live literally on the Frome Valley Walkway. The walkway stretches for 29km and runs from the centre of Bristol through to the base of the Cotswold Hills.

I love walking various stretches of it everyday with Real Live Rocking Dog. Each season brings with it an amazing variety of flora and fauna. Spring has come bursting in with a carpet of pungent wild garlic and Bluebells. Ferns are slowly unfurling with the warmth of dappled sunlight, and vibrant Kingcups enjoy their drying bogland. Inevitably the change in season will bring with it Himalayan Balsam and Wild Foxgloves and Cow Parsley.

I came upon a truly spectacular fungi yesterday. It was quietly growing on a fallen tree, with some of it’s rust coloured discs the size of dinner plates. It was so perfect.

Wildlife includes frequent sightings of the surreally lapis blue Kingfisher, Squirrels, Damsel flies, Moorhens and Coots. Less frequently we have been delighted to spot Herons, Deer, Freshwater crayfish and recently a weasel.

Most mysteriously for the last three years there has been a large white rabbit in a field close to the walkway. It all feels a bit Alice in Wonderland … but I celebrate the fact that he (she) continues to survive despite a serious lack of camouflage!

Walk This Way, Rocking Dog

Walk This Way

Blubell'd Glade, Rocking Dog

Blubell’d Glade

Wild Garlic, Rocking Dog

Wild Garlic

Magnificent Fungi, Rocking Dog

Magnificent Fungi

Dunking Ducks, Rocking Dog

Dunking Ducks

Wild Cherry, Rocking Dog

Wild Cherry

Belated Anniversary Lunch With Andyman

Sunbathed "Pig", Rocking Dog

Sunbathed “Pig”

Andyman and I enjoyed a belated anniversary lunch date at “The Pig” near Bath yesterday. It was lovely to return to the hotel for delicious food, gorgeous interiors, wonderful kitchen garden… and the extensive wine list! So a really quick run through what we ate (Food crit’s are SO boring!) Garden herb infused oil with sourdough, Venison carpaccio, Lyme Bay potted crab with egg mayonnaise soldiers, Roast Beef and trimmings x2, Apple crumble with thyme ice cream, Lemon and verbena mascarpone terrine with candied beetroot and beetroot syrup, coffee. It was all truly yummy. Conversation unsurprisingly centred around our lovely brood and the wonderful spring day beyond our table.

The date ended with the now inevitable wander around the kitchen garden. Greenhouses beckoned to be peeked into, blossoms cried out to be smelt, and plant labels begged to be scrutinised. I truly love the fork to plate ethos. We ended our stroll with watching the eggs being collected from The Pig hens. Palest blue, nut brown, speckled and rust these freshly laid ouef’s were worthy of being given spectacular names on a Farrow and Ball paint chart!

It was a lovely afternoon, Thank you Mr F!

Unctuous Oil, Rocking Dog

Unctuous Oil

Good Pud', Rocking Dog

Good Pud’

Pig Footwear, Rocking Dog

Pig Footwear

Springtime Thrones,Rocking Dog

Springtime Thrones

Pig Hens, Rocking Dog

Pig Hens

Hen To Plate, Rocking Dog

Hen To Plate