Tag Archives: Walk

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

Feathering The Nest To Welcome The Next Generation.

Feathering The Nest,Rocking Dog

Feathering The Nest

We were indeed feathering the nest to welcome the next generation. Sorrel and Pete will meet their little one in April, and before you ask they don’t know what sort they are having! Before the pushing begins at the Birth Centre a big push was needed to try and gain some kind of order in their little London nest.

The family pulled together with paintbrushes, rollers, drills, sandpaper and organisational skills. At times it felt like one of those puzzles where you have to move squares completely out of position in order to get one square into its rightful place! By the end of the weekend ceilings had been painted and walls given further coats. Another scaffold plank shelf had been skilfully drilled into place and numerous mugs of coffee had been drunk.

My girl is SOooo like me, an absolute magpie, minimalism unfortunately does not enter our vocabulary! Wrapping up about one hundred Christmas decorations I thought aloud “Sorrel certainly doesn’t need to inherit my vast collection, she’s simply doing very well on her own!” There is also the monumental sized stash of cookery books….have you heard of online recipes by any chance Sorrel?! Joking aside the couple have some lovely things to display on those scaffold plank shelves. Gradually the boxes that currently engulf what will be nursery will be emptied and the contents distributed to their final destination.

Perhaps work can then focus on the room for the new little person. I anticipate the decoration of this will be for no shrinking violet. I look forward to seeing it develop. There could be an old pram wheel, farm animals and wool pom-poms in the mix! Thankfully in amongst the chaos the main bedroom is a relative haven and there are lovely little vignettes of vintage glamour. Cushions in florals, tapestry, and zingy velvets provide pops of colour against the dramatic backdrop of Farrow & Ball’s Inchyra Blue.

It wasn’t all about painting and DIY, some of us headed to nearby Abbey Wood with Real Live Rocking Dog. There were the remnants of Lesnes Abbey destroyed by Henry VIII, a fantastic wooded daffodil filled walk and distant views to London’s spectacular skyline. I really adored the gated garden there, the planting looked innovative and definitely worth a revisit when the sun really starts to shine. I so love the fact that London has so many wonderful green and surprisingly wild spaces.

We left the couple filling all those shelves. Another DIY onslaught next week with different family members will hopefully see tiled splash backs and skirting boards come to fruition.

Those square puzzle pieces are beginning to find their correct order. It will be lovely, and a sweet little home for welcoming in the next generation.

Thank you to all those lovely folk who helped with the nest building. It was fun.

Wishing you a lovely week. Love Rocking Dog x

Scaffold Plank Shelf,Rocking Dog

Scaffold Plank Shelf

Cook Books Aplenty!,Rocking Dog

Cook Books Aplenty!

Parlez Vous Francais?,Rocking Dog

Parlez Vous Francais?

Vintage Glamour,Rocking Dog

Vintage Glamour

Bohemia,Rocking Dog

Bohemia

Pops Of Colour,Rocking Dog

Pops Of Colour

Tantalising Glimpse,Rocking Dog

Tantalising Glimpse

Meeting His Match!,Rocking Dog

Meeting His Match!

Distant City Skyline,Rocking Dog

Distant City Skyline

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

….Ditto!

& 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!