Tag Archives: Weather

Rocking Dog Despises Dusting!

Life Really Is Too Short!,Rocking Dog

Life Really Is Too Short!

Despicable dusting! Rocking Dog thought it was time to have a little bit of a winter clean before Christmas tumbled down from the attic! Snow will blow onto surfaces, there will be bowls of vintage baubles, childhood treasures, garlands, mistletoe, holly, ivy, spruce and bling….hmmm! and I told everyone I was going to simplify everything this year!

I did clean, but didn’t get very far. It was too tempting to reacquaint myself with favourite precious things, re-appreciating glazes, patina, rust, script, and imperfection. I did draw the line at dusting the old postal shelves with their eclectic mix of found and given flotsam and jetsam. Life really is too short!

Logs were lugged to their hole in the inglenook, and the old castle was adorned with a string of sparkly lights. Material Mountain was given a little bit of a sort, and plans were made for Rocking Dog creations as linens and ginghams, velvets and silks were bundled and folded.

Bronze head man will change his Russian sailors hat for something a little more festive very soon and the window seat antlers will make way for a tree. All is calm and all is white, but in a few days festive mayhem will descend!

Stay cosy. Love bad tempered Rocking Dog and her duster x

Precious Things,Rocking Dog

Precious Things

Prickly Seat,Rocking Dog

Prickly Seat

Lugging The Logs,Rocking Dog

Lugging The Logs

Calm & White,Rocking Dog

Calm & White

Sparkly Castle,Rocking Dog

Sparkly Castle

Where's Your Christmas Hat?,Rocking Dog

Where’s Your Christmas Hat?

The Olives Are Picked & Rocking Dog Is Back At The Kennel!

Before They Became Oil,Rocking Dog

Before They Became Oil

Yes indeed the olives are now picked and made into divine olive oil.The nets have been put away for another year and the 1,300 mile journey back to the kennel from Umbria has been completed.The linen has been traded in for woolly jumpers and the wood-burner has been stoked. Brrrrrrrr!

It’s good to be back with fresh verve and inspiration and I look forward to seeing friends for walking, chatting and simply being with. Watch out for new Rocking Dog posts including my trip to fifteen French and Belgian cemeteries over 2 days for the Rocking Dog “Remember Me Project” It was the most incredible and poignant experience.

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY– Rocking Dog will be selling Christmas Loveliness together with other wonderful crafty and artisanal foodie folk at the seriously fandabidosi (my Italian is really improving!) Court House Farm, Portishead on Sunday 26th November and Sunday 10th December 10-3.30.

It’s now time to shut myself away like a little elf in my workroom and create some creative and very festive magic!

Love to all, and hope you have a good week. A wine fasting Rocking Dog x

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

Rocking Dog Loves Trotting Around Tetbury

Not In The Show,Rocking Dog

Not In The Show

The Tetbury Flower Show arrived again at the weekend. Andyman was blowing his pipes with City of Bristol Pipes and Drums so I took the opportunity to enjoy seeing what the folk of Tetbury had grown, sewed, baked and bottled. The care that people take to raffia string onions, scrub potatoes and arrange summer fruits is both astounding and hearteningly lovely.

With a break from playing Amazing Grace, Scotland The Brave and Highland Cathedral etc..I left Real Live Rocking Dog with the piper and legged it into Tetbury. I wonder does anyone else notice door furniture? I love a good knocker, bell pull, letterbox and hand plate. There were some really good old examples as I headed to the high street. Many knockers were gloriously offset by paint colours such as “Pelt”, “Dix Blue” and “Cooking Apple Green”. I am SO easily pleased!

When in Tetbury I love a trot to “Domestic Science”. Five uneven floor-boarded floors are filled with vintage kitchenalia, French textiles, divine scented packages, patina’d aged furniture, carefully curated cards and a lovely watering hole to sit for a coffee or lunch. As ever there was lots I loved, but I was very restrained. I need to make money before I can spend money, I need a cunning plan to revive my coffers.

Thankfully many of Tetbury’s delicious antique shops were closed, it’s lovely that Sunday is still sacrosanct in some communities. My shopping purchases in town amounted to buying cake ingredients. After more piping, more sunshine and viewing the dog show (not competing as Real Live Rocking Dog’s days of shows and being humiliated are well and truly over!) Real Live Rocking Dog we know you are beautiful despite your raging halitosis and grumpiness, and frankly that’s all that matters. It really was time to head home and make that cake.

I loosely based it on Delia’s Coconut Layer Cake and topped it off with a spiky pineapple top, vanilla pods and fairy lights for a very special lady.

Hope you all have a lovely week.
Love Rocking Dog x

Tetbury Letterbox..,Rocking Dog

Tetbury Letterbox..

Tetbury Knocker..,Rocking Dog

Tetbury Knocker..

...And Another,Rocking Dog

…And Another

Delightful Dahlia,Rocking Dog

Delightful Dahlia

Dashing Dahlia,Rocking Dog

Dashing Dahlia

Know Your Onions!,Rocking Dog

Know Your Onions!

Domestic Science Vintage,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Vintage

Domestic Science Linen,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Linen

Domestic Science Scented,Rocking Dog

Domestic Science Scented

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

6.30am Leopard Footing It Down To Bristol Fruit Market

And She's Off!,Rocking Dog

And She’s Off!

Yes Rocking Dog put on her leopard “flats” and went out at 6.30 am in search of tomatoes.I have a love hate relationship with Bristol Fruit Market. I love witnessing the buzz of seeing fruit, vegetables, flowers and plants being selected and purchased for restaurants, hotels and shops. However, it is a bit of a mans world down there. In amongst the chest beating alpha males there are thankfully a few nice friendly teddy bears! Beautiful tomatoes found, aubergines, lemons, peppers, cucumbers and herbs I was pleased with my boot full of booty!

Wedding cooking continues and I am happy with the progress I have made. Brownie, meringues, salad bases, chocolate salami all made. Lists re-jigged, shopping lists redrawn and Friday and Saturday plans penned in. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes!

Lovely friend Sian has arrived from deepest darkest Wales to keep me in check and to encourage breaks (she is so right that they are a good thing) Thank you Sian for coming to cook and dance in the kitchen with me. What a kitchen hoedown we’ll have when Beth’ and Liv arrive! Diolch x

I’m going to sign off now and will see you out the other side of the weekends festivities. Have a truly wonderful wedding day and life together Josh & Ella.

Have a great weekend whatever you are doing, and I hope that the sun shines for us all

Love Rocking Dog x

Thank you in advance to the wonderful team who are serving the bubbly, carving the seven legs of lamb (!), clearing, coffee making and walking many grassy miles!

It's A Mans' World!,Rocking Dog

It’s A Mans’ World!

Tomato Treasure!,Rocking Dog

Tomato Treasure!

Boot Booty!,Rocking Dog

Boot Booty!

Roasted,Rocking Dog

Roasted

Chargrilled,Rocking Dog

Chargrilled

Pan Toasted,Rocking Dog

Pan Toasted

More Meringues,Rocking Dog

More Meringues

Cunning Plan!,Rocking Dog

Cunning Plan!

A Momentary Breather,Rocking Dog

A Momentary Breather

Rocking Dog Is All Washed Up!

Plentiful Pretty Plates,Rocking Dog

Plentiful Pretty Plates

Wet day, sore ear, it was the perfect day to hole myself up quietly in the kitchen and wash all the china for our family friends Boho’ wedding next weekend. I’m so glad that the nuptials aren’t this weekend, we’ll take our chances on there being sunshine pretty please for next Saturday.

I was up and down the cellar stairs today with boxes of dinner plates, plates for mezze, bread and pud’. There were cups, saucers, butter plates, jugs and sugar bowls all needing suds! There were flowers, geometrics, sentimental scenes, royal transfers, gilding and crests all to rediscover. My boxes of charity shop, auction and family treasures are a boxed 100 year history of domestic tableware.

China sorted, counted and re-boxed. It will gleam and look characterful on the lime washed tables together with flowers, Babycham glasses and polished cutlery. For me, catering for weddings is an exciting creative performance, showtime!

Well done Rocking Dog with the days worth of washing up under my belt that’s another job ticked off the mighty long list!

Kitsch Tableware,Rocking Dog

Kitsch Tableware

All Era's,Rocking Dog

All Era’s

Pretty Pourers,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pourers

Chocolate Roulade For The Rocking Dog Huddlers

A Taste Of Summer,Rocking Dog

A Taste Of Summer

A small but perfectly formed huddle gathered last night. We talked travel, home & abroad heat and stories of the young and of the old. Crochet was learned, calligraphy practiced, a needlepoint made to feel loved again and a wedding shopping list formulated. I also brought out my John Lewis sale buys for Christmas wrapping 2017 (I feel a Val Doonican knitted theme coming on!)

Most importantly we ate cake! This months confectionery was a tried and tested favourite, Chocolate and Raspberry Roulade. The recipe comes from a book called 100 Great Desserts by Mandy Wagstaff. I bought it in the 90’s from a cut price book shop, only later did I find that many but not all of the pages were written in German!

This is a great recipe for gluten free guests and a truly simple bake (promise!)

175g plain chocolate
5 eggs separated
175g caster sugar
2 tbsp brandy

Preheat oven 180 degrees (lower for fan oven). Line a 33x23cm swiss roll tin with baking paper.
Melt dark chocolate in microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering hot water.
Beat egg yolks and sugar until thick and pale. Add the brandy.
Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks and then stir in a tbsp chocolate mix to loosen it. Fold in the remaining chocolate.
Pour mixture into the prepared tin and use a spatula to evenly spread the batter.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until springy to the touch. Remove from oven and cover with a slightly damp tea towel.

For the filling I used a small carton of double cream whisked together with a small tub of mascarpone and a little icing sugar.

Turn your Roulade out onto a surface prepared with a large sheet of baking paper. Remove the backing paper.
Spread your roulade liberally with good quality raspberry conserve. Spread cream mix evenly and sprinkle over fresh raspberries.
With the aid of the paper, roll the roulade as tightly and evenly as you can. At this point you can wrap it up in the greaseproof sheet rather like an old fashioned sweetie and chill. if you can’t wait to launch into the deliciousness move the roulade to a pretty plate and dredge with icing sugar and white chocolate shards. Voila!

(I used 1&1/2x the mixture to fill a larger swiss roll tin. Cherries and kirsch or cherry brandy would be a great alternative)

Thank you girls for the donations for Fine Cell Work inspiring and supporting prison inmates to sew and embroider.

The Whole Deal!,Rocking Dog

The Whole Deal!

June Frou,Rocking Dog

June Frou

Little Black Books,Rocking Dog

Little Black Books

Travel,Rocking Dog

Travel

The Heat,Rocking Dog

The Heat

Calligraphy,Rocking Dog

Calligraphy

Christmas Stash,Rocking Dog

Christmas Stash

The Old & The..,Rocking Dog

The Old & The..

Young,Rocking Dog

Young

Glitter Shoed Gardening In Umbria

Hanging The Hammock,Rocking Dog

Hanging The Hammock

Good morning from Rocking Dog. I had good intentions of continuing to garden at 5.30 am on my return to the kennel, but alas….! To escape the piercing heat of the Umbrian sun I did indeed choose to garden as dawn arrived in the garden. I was awoken by my own dawn chorus of naughty chattering birds flitting busily on the ancient olive tree outside our bedroom window. I gardened in linen nightie and glittery sandals and as a result my legs are in a scratched and sorry state! The Italian version of Sticky Willy is coarse, barbed and unforgiving.

Umbria has had no rain for a few weeks now and the land is parched. It has been unusual to have such high temperatures so early in the summer season and there are real concerns for this years olive crop. The little olives have had no chance to develop before being hit by temperatures nearing 40 degrees. For those of us who pick olives as a pleasurable hobby a poor crop is sad but not an economic disaster. Meanwhile for those who depend on the crop for their livelihood a poor harvest is a severe body blow. Of course a poor crop trickles down to whole communities (pickers,olive oil pressing facilities, bottle & can suppliers,retailers etc…) Olive oil really is a way of life in Italy.

It is not only olives which have been affected, we witnessed vineyards blackened by fire and food crops struggling in the earth for moisture. A huge field of sunflowers have been planted over the garden fence and we hope that in a months time there will be a blaze of yellow on the horizon. Sunflowers are a rotational crop, so it may be a few years before the cheery yellow field reappears so close by.

Our grass resembles cattle driving prairie land. We hope rain will come soon. It was too hot to plant anything new, so leaf clearing and tidying was the order of the day. Planting will be done in October when we will assess what needs replacing after the sweltering summer.

We hung the hammock, added pretty lights and watered the thirsty geraniums. I found the most exquisite little nest on the path. It was truly an architectural masterpiece with grasses and soft pulpy seed heads. It was so soft, so delicate and tear jerkingly beautiful. I didn’t get to sit in my oak tree’d reading nook, nor use my telescope, the swinging chair remained un-sat in .. but getting close to unfamiliar plants was enjoyable.

And Suddenly it’s Evening by Salvatore Quasimodo

Everyone is alone on the heart of the earth
Pierced by a ray of sun:
and suddenly it’s evening.

It wasn’t all about work in the garden, we managed to fire up the ancient pizza oven after some remedial internal grouting. Of course the pool provided delicious respite from the unrelenting heat, and Michele’s provided the perfect escape for Prosecci and cake!

So, it’s back to verdant woodland management back at the kennel and I think wellies may be rather more sensible than glittery shoes!

Have a good week and at least the rain is on the way here.

Love Rocking Dog x

Watering The Geraniums,Rocking Dog

Watering The Geraniums

Garden Treasure,Rocking Dog

Garden Treasure

Unpromising Crop,Rocking Dog

Unpromising Crop

Lighting to Hang,Rocking Dog

Lighting to Hang

View To The Village,Rocking Dog

View To The Village

Early Morning Dip,Rocking Dog

Early Morning Dip

Escape For Cake,Rocking Dog

Escape For Cake

Fire Up The Oven,Rocking Dog

Fire Up The Oven

Back To Woodland Gardening,Rocking Dog

Back To Woodland Gardening

A Field Full Of Flowers & Sunshine

Flowers In May,Rocking Dog

Flowers In May

Many of you will know about my love of the fields which lie behind the kennel. They were the perfect place to do an impromptu photo shoot with little Douglas. On the 10th May we ran out of the kennel whilst the sun was shining and the little babe contented. He was surrounded by sun kissed buttercups, clover, dandelion clocks, plantain and gently swaying grasses. How much more lovely to be photographed in this natural environment than a stark and expensive photographic studio! The weeks have since rolled on, the little chaps skin has plumply filled out, smiles have arrived, and newborn clothes have been neatly parcelled up. In time we will run through the grasses, hide, eat picnics, chat, sing, tell stories, do hand stands (!), dance, read, build snowmen, and play games in the field.

With the arrival of June the field shows off new swathes of flowers and grasses. The colourful honeyed smell of spring has given way to less showy moon daisies, wild sorrel, hawkweed, birds foot trefoil and a myriad of tall whispering grasses. Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper butterflies flutter in amongst the sun baked vegetation whilst bumble bees enjoy the sweet dying embers of the pink and white clovers. Large metallic lapiz blue dragonflies skim across the field on their way to the wetness of the Frome. Hedgerows burgeon with bramble blooms, sloes, wild briar rose and elderflower. It is simply too hot for the rabbits to graze, they will emerge from their damp clay burrows when twilight brings the coolness of the days end.

A pair of swallows have returned to the field, the late afternoons bring them joyfully and skilfully utilising their mesmerizing acrobatics. They swoop and dive over the high desiccating grasses, mere flashes of inky black forked tail and iconic aerodynamic wings. The buzzard, deer, wood pigeons and the rabbit loving fox who lives in the orchard put in appearances and makes every walk unique. The seasons leech into each other, days shorten and lengthen, rain, cold, wind, sun, grey, mud, frost, sun parched, the field perpetually changes.

Real Live Rocking Dog loves the field it means chasing his current deflated ball. We are lucky that the cows haven’t yet arrived. Until then it is Real Live Rocking Dogs field. It is a place for thinking, contemplating (despite the constant hum of the motorway), revelling in nature, enjoying the seasons and for planning the next photo shoot with the sooooo sweet wee nipper!

Do You Like Butter?,Rocking Dog

Do You Like Butter?

Flowers In June,Rocking Dog

Flowers In June

Nature Table,Rocking Dog

Nature Table

Brambles In Flower,Rocking Dog

Brambles In Flower

Ripening Sloes,Rocking Dog

Ripening Sloes

Where's My Ball?,Rocking Dog

Where’s My Ball?

Watery Walk,Rocking Dog

Watery Walk

Marshmallow Skies,Rocking Dog

Marshmallow Skies

May Blossom & Friends,Rocking Dog

May Blossom & Friends