Tag Archives: Walk

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

Gosh! It’s Been A While.

Setting The Scene,Rocking Dog

Setting The Scene

Gosh! It REALLY has been a while since Rocking Dog blogged. We have been fortunate in having the opportunity to spend an extended break in Umbria. The beauty of having super quick wifi is that work things can be dealt with across the miles.

We started our trip with visiting more cemeteries for The Remember Me Project. By the end of our break a total of 38 poppies had been laid in near enough the same amount of cemeteries across France and Belgium. This figure includes the cemeteries visited in October last year. A dedicated post regarding my latest poppy laying trip will pop up on the Rocking Dog site in the next few days.

Eventually we left the Somme and headed close to the Swiss border for an overnight stop. The spectacular trip through Switzerland followed and finally after a bit of white knuckle driving through northern Italy we reached Umbria. The sun doesn’t always shine in Italy. We had rain, we had wind, there was the cold and the odd luxurious sunny day. Most nights we were grateful for the newly installed wood burning stove. With temperatures hitting in excess of 40 degrees in the summer affecting grape and olive harvests the Umbrian folk have now had to endure an uncharacteristically cold winter. Thick snow and temperatures dropping well into the minus’s, they have needed their famous down filled puffa jackets!

In November we had grass seed sown but unfortunately it has shown no desire to germinate and grow. The sowing will be repeated next week and hopefully with the warmth of an Italian spring we will soon have verdant green pasture. Fingers crossed! It is too early to tell whether there will be a good harvest of olives late October, but we are ever hopeful. We love the whole process of producing olive oil from our trees. There were weather weary shrubs to replace and new herbs to dig in, there were 15 barrow loads of pruning to put on the bonfire and jolly geraniums to pot up. Constructive time spent outside.

I was sad to have lost a very lovely friend somewhat unexpectedly and did lots of contemplative walking and lots of contemplative sewing. It’s taken so much of my life to realise that sewing really does soothe my sad soul. Beloved Bernina really is truly therapeutic. Can I ask what soothes your soul?

Flying back to Bristol for my friends Celebration of Life service, Andy was left to host ancestors of the farmhouse we now own a tiny part of. From New York, they were apparently lovely and really enthusiastic about the area and their kinfolks former home. We hope they’ll return and stop for longer next time. I’m sure they are going to be pretty busy as they have sold their home and are converting an old yellow school bus for a unique mobile home.

As ever there was gorgeous food to eat, starry skies to be amazed by and the odd Aperol Spritz to partake in by the lake. It is often the most simple things that give the most pleasure. I love the ancient olive tree just outside one of our bedroom windows. As dawn arrives, the tree fills with chirpy and busy little birds. They enjoy the olives which escaped the rakes of the late autumn harvesting. Such a perfect view and I absolutely know that we are truly lucky.

Back in UK there are sewing projects to finish, ongoing research for The Remember Me Project and a job to apply for. The garden of the damp woodland variety needs to be tackled and the dusty, crumbly house needs to be dealt with. Friends need to be loved and cared for, and the nest got ready for another little grandchild. Volunteering for Young Carer’s will restart and yes, there are really lovely things to come home for … just not the dusting!

Hope you have a good week. Love Rocking Dog x

PS Many thanks to Cliff at the British Legion, Frampton Cotterell for the box of poppy crosses. The box is sadly empty- each cross represented one young local soldier who fell or who died of wounds during the Great War.

Roman Rugby,Rocking Dog

Roman Rugby

Letting In The Sun,Rocking Dog

Letting In The Sun

Contemplative Walking,Rocking Dog

Contemplative Walking

Choppy Lake,Rocking Dog

Choppy Lake

Calm Lake,Rocking Dog

Calm Lake

Social Lake,Rocking Dog

Social Lake

Cake,Rocking Dog

Cake

Pasta....,Rocking Dog

Pasta….

& Projects,Rocking Dog

& Projects

 

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!

Blowing Away Some Big Cobwebs!

The Fabulous Dig Haushizzle,Rocking Dog

The Fabulous Dig Haushizzle

After the culinary savagery of the weekend there was still washing up to do on Tuesday. However I decided to throw in the towel and walk! Lovely calm friend and I decided to ditch ideas of a doggy muddy hike and to do something a little more gentle.

We didn’t have very much of a plan, but by the end of our foray I thought our trail was worthy of a blog post. Fellow Bristolian’s or visitors alike would find much to enjoy about our cunning plan. Calm Karen and I can promise walkers good coffee, lovely food, some extraordinary buildings, the historic docks and some quirky independent shops.

1. Parking. We chose to park on Portland Square (pay meter parking, cash or phone). Maximum stay is 4 hours and works out £1 an hour, that’s cheap for Bristol! Do not be tempted to park on nearby Brunswick Square as their maximum time limit is 2 hours. Parking sorted… let the trail begin! Please be aware that parts of this trail would be unsuitable for wheelchairs or prams (Christmas Steps and the possibly the changes in levels around St Nicholas Market) However, St Nicholas’s Market can be visited and circumvented cunningly, whilst the centre can be reached by staying on Colston Street, thereby missing out Christmas Steps.

2. Walk through the Bear Pit, the underpass (much more savoury than it used to be) and head past Loot and then onto Marlborough Street passing the Magistrates Court (Tesco will be across the road from you). Carry on walking, past the Bristol Royal Infirmary (the old bit), without realising it you will then be on Colston Street. Here on Colston Street you will find some eclectic shops which you may want to stop and peruse. Rag Trade is a great dress agency and I have picked up some lovely clothes there over the years. Further on, Makers and Blaze are unique shops to select unusual cards and gifts. A few steps on and you can enter a bookworm’s paradise, Bloom & Curll is a delightful secondhand bookshop and I adore it’s homely and eclectic style. Doug’ and Joe will each benefit from this literary visit. Keep Calm Karen and I then went slightly off piste by crossing the road to visit Dig Haushizzle. A real favourite of mine, I was disappointed that they had sold the lampshade I so loved. It looked as if it had come through moths, flood, fire, and neglect… but it had a certain charm! I know I would have had an uphill struggle to convince Andyman, especially since it had a somewhat eye-watering price tag! Somewhere there is a horror movie-esque lamp shade being coveted….. just not at the kennel! Track back across the road whence you came from.

3. Christmas Steps. You can’t fail to notice the wonderful set of flagstone steps which are the wonderfully named Christmas Steps. They are wonderfully atmospheric and it is easy to conjure up a picture of rather seedy Victorian life. On your way down the steep and worn steps there are a few interesting individual shops. Karen told me about 20th Century Flicks which can be found towards the bottom on the left hand side. Apparently she was invited to a cinema night there with friends. You can hire out the sweet little 11 seated cinema with a vast array of films to choose from. Sounds perfect especially if there is no noisy popcorner or rattly sweet opener sitting behind you!

4. This next stage is a little complicated as the centre is a tangle of road works, cones and taped off crossings (blooming Metrobus!). How ever you manage it, you need to cross to the other side of the road entirely. Try to get yourself into Small Street. Up on the left is a great place to drink lovely coffee (thank you Karen & Joe for the recommendation), Small Street Espresso. They also do delicious cake and serve everything with a smile. After refuelling head up past the Crown Court on your right and you will find yourself on Corn Street, notice the circa 400 year old nails where lots of business transactions were done. It’s where the term “Paying on the nail” comes from. On a Wednesday the Farmers market goes on here and it started in 1998. It happens to be one of the longest running farmer’s and producers markets in the country. You need to pass through the Grade 1 listed Corn Exchange building to get to our next destination.

5. Passing through the Exchange St Nicholas’s Market has an eclectic array of permanent stalls, some good, some tat and some frankly bonkers! Incidentally in the 1960’s the Exchange was a music venue and it saw the likes of The Rolling Stones, The Yardbirds, Cream and  Spencer Davis play here. Carry on through the building and eventually you should chance upon the glorious glass arcade. Bristol was very badly bombed during WW2 and the glass roof was lost in the Blitz. Its roof was replaced in 1949 together with more recent renovation. You can eat food from across the globe here and it all feels very vibrant, fragrant and buzzy. I personally love Eat A Pitta. Close by is  Ahh Toots  a truly cakey spectacle and it sells good bread too. Flowers and fabrics, olives, cheese, lunch to go or to perch, a wheatgrass smoothie, raclette, a pie, the glass arcade is great. After picking up supper supplies head out to the back of St Nicholas Market (in line with the direction you entered the Corn Exchange building). You will probably find yourself passing through the covered market (again you will find the good, the bad and the ugly regarding stalls). You need to be heading for St Nicholas Street.

6. St Nicholas Street is where you’ll find Rag & Bone, another of my favourite haunts. If you aren’t into junk just pass on by! Directly opposite Rag & Bone there is a fabulous and rather regal water fountain set into the wall of the covered market. It looks like a very young Queen Victoria unlike the more matronly version (oops!) found near College Green, Bristol.

7. After dipping into R & B let’s head to the water! You’ll probably find a set of stone steps to head on down to Baldwin Street. You need to use the crossing to cross to the other side of the road. There are choices to be made here. You can walk on through to Queen’s Square and beyond OR you can walk along the cobbled street which is Welsh Back. Unfortunately due to buildings placed at the edge of the river there aren’t any great views along this stretch of water, just the odd glimpse. Eventually which ever way you choose to walk you will end up on a road called The Grove. Turn right along here there are some good places to eat (I love sitting out on the decking with a glass of wine and a platter at the River Station). Unfortunately over the years the Mud Dock has been rather inconsistent with its foodie offerings. Head on down to the bottom of the road (the Arnolfini will be directly in front of you on the opposite side of the road) and take a left turn. A bridge is coming up.

8. The newly renovated Prince Street Bridge will take you over the river Avon. Take a right turn onto the quayside and you cannot fail to notice the massive industrial cranes which make the harbour so iconic. Head past the M Shed  (if you wish you can while away some time learning about Bristols industrial past here). Bristols links with slavery is sadly not very pretty. Very Soon you will become aware of an area on your left which is very new to the harbourside. Wapping wharf is a development of shops and eateries. There are also a number of places to eat and buy art etc.. housed in shipping containers (how apt being a port city). We could have chosen to eat Spanish, noodles, fish, and any number of delicious foodie offerings but decided to carry on walking.

9. Journey’s end! We ate a bacon “doorstep” overlooking the grey water at “Brunel’s Buttery”. Unpretentious, it has been serving up delicious butties since 1980. Delicious!

10. If there was time you could follow the quay along to the SS Great Britain or you could hop on a ferry boat (either to cross to the other side of the Avon or for a leisurely pleasure cruise) Remember your 4 hour parking slot!

11. Our way back. In short, we headed back over Prince Street Bridge and took  a cobbled left then right, taking us past the front of the Arnolfini. Through the centre, through Broadmead shopping centre and into Cabot Circus (new shopping centre). We eventually arrived at House of Fraser (second level of shopping centre needed). Emerge by crossing to take you across the A4044 (Newfoundland Road). Directly across from you is Pritchard Street which will magically take you back to Portland Square and your car (hopefully minus a parking ticket!)

This might not make any sense at all, and I apologise in advance. My map reading has always been a little below par especially when I mistook a river for a road whilst on a journey with Andyman! Please let me know how you get on if you decide to walk this trail and i’d be grateful if you could share with any Bristol walkers, foodies or junkophiles!

It was a really lovely walk and many thanks to Karen for taking all the cobbled twists and turns with me. It certainly blew away the cobwebs.

More Dig Haushizzle!,Rocking Dog

More Dig Haushizzle!

Bookworm Paradise,Rocking Dog

Bookworm Paradise

Christmas Steps,Rocking Dog

Christmas Steps

St Nick's,Rocking Dog

St Nick’s

Pretty Cakes &...,Rocking Dog

Pretty Cakes &…

...Pretty Flowers!,Rocking Dog

…Pretty Flowers!

Regal Fountain,Rocking Dog

Regal Fountain

Love R & B!,Rocking Dog

Love R & B!

A Favourite View,Rocking Dog

A Favourite View

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

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

Bake, Cook, Entertain, Oh, & Pull Down A Shed!

Sorry To See You Go,Rocking Dog

Sorry To See You Go

It was one of those weekends which just sort of organically evolved! On Saturday Andyman was busy piping and then rehearsing ready for the Rockpipes gig on Sunday 24th September. Are you coming? £5 a ticket or £6 on the night. It will be an experience like no other and I can’t believe I am here actually promoting it, because i’m rubbish at marketing myself! Whilst Andyman was blowing his pipes I packaged a batch bake of squidgy brownie, billionaire’s shortbread and sticky apple and pecan gingerbread. It was sent off in different directions for various sweet toothed friends. Some is being eaten on a beautiful stretch of beach in Pembrokeshire.

An impromptu supper came about and unusually I didn’t dally with Yotam! At Christmas we received a subscription for The Spicery and so every month we receive a box containing spice mixes together with a recipe. Voila! supper sorted. This box included all the spices for Tandoori lamb kebabs, samosas and chaat (a chopped salad). This gift is not for someone who wants a curry in half an hour, indeed I think it is for a loved up couple who want to bond in the kitchen for half a day! By the time I got onto make the samosas I was frankly losing the will to live and I think as a result my samosas were decidedly ugly. How i’d love to be one of those hosts who gets everything ready well before time, slides food into the hostess trolly (!) and takes herself off with a G & T for a long soak! The food was delicious so I was told, so it was worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Sunday we headed to Court House Farm Portishead for the monthly artisan market. It was such an idyllic setting for some lovely stalls. I particularly loved Emy Lou Holmes’s stall with cards, prints etc…Grandma Knitting was great too with gorgeous knits using the softest of “wools” including bamboo. Yes little Doug’, Biddy did buy you something for when the weather gets nippier. The farm is truly wonderful with the most lovely outbuildings. I took photographs of our morning spent there but only later realised there was a great greasy thumb print on the lens (possibly the illicit bacon sandwich!), rubbish! I can really recommend a little trip there.

After the glories of other peoples outbuildings we turned our attention to our own. Our shed sadly needed to be dismantled, it was rottoningly unsafe. Over the years the tiled roof had gained a living moss roof with clusters of ferns, bird nests and ivy tendrils. When I build my eco house it will have a living roof. Four tip runs and still more to go we are left with a rather sad space. I visualise it painted and given huge pots of enormous palms and ferns. However…it could always be an alfresco stage for a future Rockpipes gig!

Rocking Dogs weekend in a nutshell. I must just mention Real Live Rocking Dog who was 10 on Sunday. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea but we all love him so much. When I have spells of feeling sad he gives me the reason to get out and walk. He gives love and grumpiness unconditionally, costs us a fortune in grooming (much more than my barnet) and rather like a toddler has a habit of coming up to see us at night. Happy 10th Birthday Real Live Rocking Dog we’ll celebrate today with a trip to the vet for your rabies injection and to assess just what we can do about that breath of yours!

I hope you have had a lovely bank holiday weekend and that a good short sunny week lies ahead

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Rocking Dog Creative Huddle this Wednesday (30th). Everyone very welcome, homemade cake, drinks and chat…oops and sewing, knitting whatever tickles your fancy. Donations into the teapot for Fine Cell Work, teaching and supporting prison inmates to embroider and sew.

Birthday Boy,Rocking Dog

Birthday Boy

Batch Bakes,Rocking Dog

Batch Bakes

Blood, Sweat & Tears!,Rocking Dog

Blood, Sweat & Tears!

Love Emy Lou!,Rocking Dog

Love Emy Lou!

Beaut' Bootees!Rocking Dog

Beaut’ Bootees!

Huddle Reminder,Rocking Dog

Huddle Reminder

Sad Shed,Rocking Dog

Sad Shed

Still Sad,Rocking Dog

Still Sad

Are You Coming?,Rocking Dog

Are You Coming?

After The Rain, It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It's A New Dawn, It's A New Day,Rocking Dog

It’s A New Dawn, It’s A New Day

It rained heavily here on Monday. It was really wet rain, large long wet drops that saturated everything. With Real Live Rocking Dog and a guest dog, Darling Dougie (a Labrador/Scottie Dog cross) to walk, the weather had to be simply …well..weathered!

How lovely therefore to awake yesterday to a beautiful morning. The warmth and the moisture meant that there were fairy rings of various species of fungi in the field. There was even a circlet of red mushrooms, the stuff of illustrated children’s books. Alas, the mushrooms had been blemished and disfigured by hungry creatures unknown. The field is now devoid of colour save some clover and a sprinkling of moon daisies. Hedgerows of blackberries, haws, elderberries and sloes continue to flourish and ripen. Fat wood pigeons feed and somewhat noisily and ungracefully take to the skies after their fill of natures harvest.

Down by the Frome it was quiet. There were the first characteristic smells of the impending autumn. Leaves, beech masts, conkers and wet mud all formed part of the intricate riverside carpet. This carpet was positively autumnal, but the woodland canopy punctured by blue sky was still decidedly summery.

After dog walking an adored friend and I went to Kilver Court. It was lovely to talk, drink coffee, browse and simply enjoy each others company. As we walked to the car there was the most amazing patch of wild flowers. It was such a lovely splash of colour and so much more magical than uniformly planted beds filled with low maintenance shrubs.

Natures Carpet,Rocking Dog

Natures Carpet

Mushroom Harvest,Rocking Dog

Mushroom Harvest

Woodland Canopy,Rocking Dog

Woodland Canopy

Infant Pine Cones,Rocking Dog

Infant Pine Cones

Rosy Red Apples,Rocking Dog

Rosy Red Apples

Late Summer Colour,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Colour

The Ripening Hambrook Harvest

From Little Acorns....,Rocking Dog

From Little Acorns….

I escaped the kitchen and ALL that china for a brief while yesterday. I was surely succumbing to cabin fever or should that be soapy sud kitchen fever! Real Live Rocking Dog provides the perfect excuse to drop the tea towel and  get out on the Frome Valley walkways which hug our fortunate doorstep.

How lovely to walk in sunshine and have blue fluffy cloud skies as a gorgeous last day in July canopy. Along the walk there were burgeoning and ripening crops of sloes, bullace, elderberries and blackberries. I spied a particularly luscious crop of blackberries over a pennant stone wall. Alas, they were unattainable with the river a watery barrier. A host of birds and other wildlife will have a veritable feast with no humans able to access and pick this precarious crop. Other bird food is ripening ready for the colder less plentiful days of late autumn and winter. Haws, rosehip and holly will serve them well.

Family folklore suggests that my fathers maternal family may have been Huguenots. Have you ever witnessed how  many French folk behave on a beach, they are not sunbathing, they are not swimming .. they are foraging! They have pails and spades, nets and lines and going in search of lunch or to find bait to catch lunch! Mussels, whelks, coastal plants, shrimp and crab are simply not safe. I see ripening elderberries and think of their addition in a summer pudding, an apple pie or crumble, ice cube or stew. Sloes and bullace again are destined in my mind to immersion in vodka or gin. I love to use the bloated alcohol soaked berries in rocky road and in ice creams, sorbets and warming winter stews. Just maybe, yes maybe I indeed do have French foraging blood flowing in my veins!

I love the way the Italians celebrate and give thanks to every crop they harvest and every animal they hunt. There are ancient walled hilltop towns close to where we live in Umbria which annually celebrate the bread, the oil, the wine, the saffron, the wild boar, the sweet chestnut, and so on! In the spring we were treated to the most wonderful feast at the little village hall in “our” village. The valley was vibrantly yellow with Mimosa trees and so this tree was celebrated along with World Women’s Day. The men (with undoubtedly some help of the female kind in the background!) of the village cooked for the women. We sat down to plates of crostini followed by two pasta courses (one with a pork ragu sauce and the other a tomato sauce). Lamb, steak and locally produced sausages cooked on a wood fired brazier together with a delicious dressed salad came next. Finally a specially baked mimosa coloured iced cake was proudly bought out and served with Grappa. Throughout the meal we had bottles of very quaffable locally produced red wine and then it was time to dance. Bad dancing translates and is understood in whatever language you speak! The Macarena danced for the final time it was time to wearily and bloatedly stumble home. Each woman was presented with a branch of Mimosa as she left together with hugs and hearty “buona notte’s”. It was such a lovely multi generational community event and we couldn’t have been made to feel more welcome. We do not celebrate anything enough in this country and unfortunately unlike the Italians many British would not embrace a party encompassing all generations.

Back to walking along my favourite Hambrook walk (nicknamed “Mr Badger walk” because of an old sett along its route) the earth was littered with crops that hadn’t quite made it. Amongst the carpet of last years autumnal leaf fall there were conkers, beech masts and cobnuts lying like jewels. They had simply dropped before their time or had been slain by squirrels not willing to wait!

At the stile there was a solitary doe eyed cow with Bully the blooming big bull. I couldn’t help thinking “poor cow!” Perhaps she’ll have her very own harvest in the spring.

Very soon it was time to return to THAT china … but I felt so much better after a brief but wonderful nature filled sojourn.

 

Future Harvest,Rocking Dog

Future Harvest

Ditto!,Rocking Dog

Ditto!

Unattainable Harvest,Rocking Dog

Unattainable Harvest

Too Early....,Rocking Dog

Too Early….

...Too Late!,Rocking Dog

…Too Late!

One For The Pan,Rocking Dog

One For The Pan

Late Summer Harvest,Rocking Dog

Late Summer Harvest

Christmas Harvest,Rocking Dog

Christmas Harvest

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow,Rocking Dog

Spring Harvest? Poor Cow

Gone For A Cooling Dip!

Cooling Pool,Rocking Dog

Cooling Pool

Signing off for a really wee while to go for a cooling dip. I will hopefully be signing back in soon with a batch of creative Rocking Dog bloggery!

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Next Rocking Dog creative huddle Weds 28th June. Please come for chat, cakery and makery!

Checking Our Olives,Rocking Dog

Checking Our Olives

Lunch Alfresco,Rocking Dog

Lunch Alfresco

Detour To The Shop,Rocking Dog

Detour To The Shop

Rocking Dog Antipasti,Rocking Dog

Rocking Dog Antipasti

Salami To Buy,Rocking Dog

Salami To Buy

Sunset,Rocking Dog

Sunset