Tag Archives: Venice

Dealing With Domesticities In The Rocking Dog Kennel

Hanging Washing Umbrian Style, Rocking Dog

Hanging Washing Umbrian Style

The sun has been shining and I have been dealing with domesticities in the Rocking Dog Kennel! One of my great pleasures in life is to hang out washing, and believe it or not there are a few of us about! I think there is always the promise of sweet smelling wrinkle free laundry after a day on the line. I also love the sound of the pegs clanking into the enamel pail. Where this bucket came from has been lost in the mists of time. Most probably it was picked up at the flea market in the beautiful city of Nijmegen when we were living just over the border in Germany 30 years ago. Dating from the early 1900’s its original purpose was as a vegetable bucket. No fridges, plastic boxes pre-cut, pre-peeled cellophane’d bags for these hardy Dutch folk.

I even like photographing washing on lines whenever I travel. How bizarre to see laundry hung against the mellow walls of an ancient water lapped Venetian palazzo or strung against a brightly coloured fisherman’s house in Burano. I loved the washing hung between gnarled olive trees in the garden at the agriturismo in Orvieto two Novembers ago. Hanging washing in Hambrook doesn’t feel quite so romantic by comparison.

Though I love hanging washing, and get great joy from folding washing I am not the greatest fan of ironing. The paper on our bedroom wall pays homage to ironing, and every morning for the last fifteen years or so I have loved waking up to the domestic images. A can of starch and a good tv drama make the task of ironing somewhat more bearable.

On Friday I had a wonderful man here to sort Beloved Bernina, she certainly wasn’t sewing her best. I can really recommend Mark of Cathedral Sewing Machines. Apparently despite the popularity of sewing there are so few sewing machine service/repair engineers left. We discussed The Great British Sewing Bee and how the programme effects his business. Suddenly people remember a long forgotten Singer treadle machine in the attic, and need it sorted to zig zag, hem, baste and smock. Thankfully beloved Bernina is back on best form and ready to deal with table runners, waiters aprons, wigwam and …. THE wedding coat! There are also some Christmas projects to complete for a pitch. Thank you Mark for weaving your sewing machine magic. Busy times ahead!

Friday night I cooked a simple curry for house guests. I was very indecisive regarding a pudding so I arranged strawberries, blueberries, chocolate covered figs, cantucci, cream and crushed praline meringues on a board. I just said “Dive in” and people did… a dessert in moments. What a lazy cook I am becoming!

Whatever the week brings for you I hope there’s the sun and inclination to hang out a little bit of laundry!

The Venetian Way, Rocking Dog

The Venetian Way

Laundry In Burano...Rocking Dog

Laundry In Burano…

..& In Hambrook!, Rocking Dog

..& In Hambrook!

Vintage Laundry, Rocking Dog

Vintage Laundry

Peg Bucket, Rocking Dog

Peg Bucket

Wash Day Wallpaper

Wash Day Wallpaper

Pretty Ironing Pile, Rocking Dog

Pretty Ironing Pile

Beloved Bernina!, Rocking Dog

Beloved Bernina!

Throw Together Pud'!, Rocking Dog

Throw Together Pud’!

A Quote To Ponder Upon

A Quote To Ponder Upon, Rocking Dog

A Quote To Ponder Upon

With the terrible events of the last few days in Paris and Beirut, a simple and poignant quote.

Marble bench by Jenny Holzer 2003. Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice.

Italy On A Great Big Delicious Plate!

Treasures Of The Sea, Rialto Market, Rocking Dog

Treasures Of The Sea, Rialto Market

I couldn’t resist a scrawl to eulogise the wonders of Italian food! Yes the scenery is stunning, the art treasures legendary and the skies blue…. but the food…truly sublime!

Where some love the prospect of an empty sun lounger I love having access to a cooker! I adore visiting food markets, local shops and even supermarkets abroad. Cooking with the freshest and at times, unfamiliar ingredients is a true pleasure for both me and the rest of the Ferguson clan.

Whilst visiting a fruit store in Umbria, we were told of a German potter and her Italian husband baking and selling bread from their family kitchen two days a week. One Sunday we ventured up to the nearby Medieval hilltop town and visited this artisan bakery. I was so charmed by this entrepreneurial enterprise. A delicious selection of breads was duly purchased and then we were invited to drink coffee at the semi-chaotic family table. So there we were, drinking espresso’s and eating divine freshly baked prune and ginger rye rolls. Bliss! A bread maker I am not, but I did wonder whether there would be a call for freshly baked cakes from my oven ….something sweet for the weekend.

In Volterra I spotted meringues so fungi like, and chocolate salami so…. salami like! Meanwhile in Umbria we ventured into a magical Christmas bedecked Michele & Co with cakes simply too pretty to eat.

In Venice, shops were stocked with heavily iced and sweet jewelled horses. On 11th November Venice celebrates the Festival of St Martino. The story goes that Martin, a soldier of the Roman Empire was riding with his soldiers near the city of Amiens when he spotted a poor freezing beggar. He cut his cloak in half and shared it with the beggar. The moment he gave the man his cloak the sun came out and this phenomenon is known in Italy as the Estate di San Martin (a short period of time in November when the weather is relatively warm). Martin was made a saint for his great humility and generosity. The festival is special for children as they go about Venice banging on pots and pans and are given money and candy. The shortbread horses are baked and decorated and signify St Martin on his horse.

Again in Venice, we ventured out early to go to the famous Rialto Market. Fruit and vegetable stalls together with the most amazing choice of fish made this an eye popping experience. We bought clams for Spaghetti Alle Vongole and spotted the gorgeous Francesco da Mosto… almost good enough to eat!

Good wines, good food, good weather…Saluti!

Have a great weekend and hope you enjoy gorgeous things to eat.

Globe Artichokes, Rocking Dog

Globe Artichokes

Edible Flowers, Rocking Dog

Edible Flowers

Polpi, Rocking Dog


Fritto Misto, Rocking Dog

Fritto Misto

Bottled Yumminess!, Rocking Dog

Bottled Yumminess!

Artisan Breads, Rocking Dog

Artisan Breads

Meringue Mushrooms, Rocking Dog

Meringue Mushrooms

Michele Magic, Rocking Dog

Michele Magic

Equine Icing, Rocking Dog

Equine Icing

Arrivederci Italy- Missing You Too Much Already!

Tribute To Canaletto, Rocking Dog

Tribute To Canaletto

Indeed Arriverderci Italy- Missing You Too Much Already! The sunny alfresco meals, the cooling Aperol Spritz’s, ancient terracotta buildings bathed in winter sunshine and the tremendous olive harvest are alas a luxuriant memory. In the space of two short weeks England has emerged damp, leaf fallen and on the gigantic treadmill that is Christmas

Italy as ever was truly wonderful and the weather blissful- how I love November holidays! A few days spent in eye shot of San Gimignano was followed by days harvesting olives at our friends house near Castiglione del Lago. Finally we ended up in Venice, with our lovely girls flying in to enjoy our stylish yet bijoux Airbnb. Their trip started with getting a Harrod’s Christmas pudding (a gift for our Venetian host) swabbed for narcotics at the airport!

The Umbrian olive harvest was amazing this year. The garden last year yielded no olives whatsoever, in fact there was very little oil to be had anywhere in Italy. A very small enthusiastic group of us picked for four days in a seriously blue skied grove. We harvested 550kg of olives of various hues which were taken to be lovingly processed into the most wonderful organic single estate olive oil. It is truly sublime on lightly toasted bread, smeared with a garlic clove, a drizzle of THE oil and a pinch of sea salt.

Olive picking was interspersed with alfresco meals, trips to Medieval hill top towns (both Andyman and I will have the topic as our Mastermind subject!), markets and generally soaking up Italian life. We bade arrivederci to our gorgeous Umbrian hosts and travelled onto Venice in our hired Fiat Cinquencento.

Andyman and I had our first ever holiday in Italy, travelling in an ancient Volkswagen Fastback which had lain idle in his parents garden for years. We drove through Germany, over the Alps and wended our way down the Italian Riviera. We camped in a two man tent, feasted on frozen Calamari and drank copious amounts of Lambrusco! Homeward bound we headed for Venice. The drive leading to the city was very flat and industrialised and I must admit I didn’t have huge expectations. We camped up and then took a water taxi out onto the Grand Canal at dusk. I remember being totally in awe of the twinkling lights, bridges, gondola’s and water lapped eating places- truly magical.

I have a photograph of me dressed in a white pirate inspired pantaloon suit (we are talking the age of the New Romantics) sat at the gondola station with the gondoliers clad in their iconic striped tops and straw boaters. We certainly didn’t have the money to take a trip out in a gondola, so a photograph was the best we could muster! After a couple of days we eventually headed back into Germany where I was based. We had to drive VERY slowly to make the petrol last as we had not a single pfennig to our name! Eventually back at the base we found a kind soul to buy us a drink in the NAAFI. Sweet memories of the summer of 1981!

Venice 2015 equally lovely and so special to spend sunny moments with our girls.

Room With A View, Rocking Dog

Room With A View

Blue Skies In Umbria, Rocking Dog

Blue Skies In Umbria

Olives To Pick, Rocking Dog

Olives To Pick

What A Workhorse!, Rocking Dog

What A Workhorse!

 Good To Be Back- Venice, Rocking Dog

Good To Be Back- Venice

Laundry, Venetian Style!, Rocking Dog

Laundry, Venetian Style!

My Girl & Fritto Misto, Rocking Dog

My Girl & Fritto Misto

Other Girl, Alfresco Nap!, Rocking Dog

Other Girl, Alfresco Nap!

Venetian Mist, Rocking Dog

Venetian Mist