Tag Archives: Winter

Little Hints Of Spring In The Air

Bough Of Catkins,Rocking Dog

Bough Of Catkins

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pretty Pink,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pink

Blue Tinge Sky, Rocking Dog

Blue Tinge Sky

Hardy Snowdrops,Rocking Dog

Hardy Snowdrops

Looking For A Mate,Rocking Dog

Looking For A Mate

Promise Of Spring Shrine,Rocking Dog

Promise Of Spring Shrine

The Food Keeps A Comin'!,Rocking Dog

The Food Keeps A Comin’!

Thank You To The Rocking Dog Huddlers

Chaotic Creativity,Rocking Dog

Chaotic Creativity

Poor Rocking Dog had to steady herself with a G&T last night. She wasn’t sure if anyone was going to come to the first Rocking Dog Huddle. She needn’t have worried a steady stream of lovely ladies crossed over the the kennel threshold. Thank you to all those who came. Sometimes it is all too tempting to settle in a comfy chair at home and not brave the near zero temperatures outside.

Cranberry zinger, hot chocolate and tea was drunk as we tackled projects. There was beautiful knitted bunting, a gorgeous crocheted blanket, stuffed rabbit and knitted top being crafted.There were also boring but necessary hems to be turned up and sewn. Other huddlers chose to make lavender crooked hearts.

A group largely made up of random strangers to each other, it was an evening of amazing coincidences. There were folk who had been growing up in the same Kent town and a neighbour who had been treated in the same German hospital that I had worked. Later in the evening I was talking about the dusting room at school. Yes, a room where GIRLS learnt how to dust, make a bed, lay up a tray for an invalid, arrange flowers etc.. grrrrrrr!!! It transpired that another of the huddlers remembered that same dusting room and in fact was in the same class as me at school! 1978 was the last time I saw her and here Diane was, very probably realising that me and dusting was a lost cause! It was so lovely to meet you again.

Your Abel & Cole recipe for haggis sausage rolls was appreciated by us all Sorrel. Thank you. Nigella’s cake was crumbly, chocolatey and calorific! The jury’s out on that one.

Thank you again to all who came last night and a special someone who attempted to make it but unfortunately had a little bit of a car bump. Look forward to seeing you next time.

Love Rocking Dog x

PS Mrs Mack (the present from Fleetwood) has returned to old Toby. Does this mean she saw what was under Wee Tam’s Kilt?!

Cranberry Zinger,Rocking Dog

Cranberry Zinger

Sew, Chat, Eat,Rocking Dog

Sew, Chat, Eat

Crumbly Cake,Rocking Dog

Crumbly Cake

Crooked Hearts,Rocking Dog

Crooked Hearts

Who Ate All The Pies?!,Rocking Dog

Who Ate All The Pies?!

Mrs M Back In Her Rightful Place,Rocking Dog

Mrs M Back In Her Rightful Place

Cheery Projects To Cast Off Winter Gloom

Winter Mood Board,Rocking Dog

Winter Mood Board

Rocking Dog has been doing cheery projects to cast off winter gloom. No frosts, no snow, no cold but lots of grey, damp and mud!

In between all the usual domestic dross I have been striving to complete some more constructive and pleasurable tasks. Yesterday morning I made Christmas cakes, “Oh no you didn’t, Oh yes I did!” An 80’s Christmas themed charity Burn’s Night is on the cards next month. I am going to hone my spiky snow scene icing and have plastic robin , snowman and cake frill at the ready! Incidentally there’ll be turkey and all the trimmings together with Christmas pud’s and retro’ cocktails. I’m nursing our Christmas tree carefully in the hope I can put it back up. Sad but true!

Christmas cakes baked, I moved to Beloved Berlina to creatively sew. Sewing makes me happy, especially with two or three omnibus editions of “The Archers” in the bag!

Despite the mud and greyness Real Live Rocking Dog is always up for a walk. No matter the weather it always feels great to be out. The change of seasons brings a myriad of different foliage, wildlife, noise and smells. Mossy twigs and ferns placed in a large majolica jug beautifully brings the outside in.

Very cheerily Seville oranges have started to trickle into the shops. I feel a therapeutic marmalade making session coming on!

Winter Walk,Rocking Dog

Winter Walk

Winter Vase,Rocking Dog

Winter Vase

Winter Fuel,Rocking Dog

Winter Fuel

Sugar & Spice,Rocking Dog

Sugar & Spice

Eggs To Crack,Rocking Dog

Eggs To Crack

Happy Bake,Rocking Dog

Happy Bake

Comfort Food,Rocking Dog

Comfort Food

Time To Sew,Rocking Dog

Time To Sew

The Sevilles' Are In Town!,Rocking Dog

The Sevilles’ Are In Town!

The Rocking Dog Huddle, Wed 25th January

Sew On A Button, Rocking Dog

Sew On A Button

I have felt slightly overwhelmed by January greyness and sadness, so the time has come to plot some positive things onto the new calendar. I have had a good response for starting an informal sew/knit/etc.. group and therefore will be hosting the first get together on Wednesday 25th January 7-9pm at the kennel. I still haven’t come up with a name for the gathering, so for the time being it’s the Rocking Dog Huddle. I intend to host the huddle on a monthly basis, the last Wednesday of the month.

Anyone contemplating coming please do not feel shy or intimidated, you will be made to feel very welcome. You may have a garment that needs a button sewing on, or hems that need altered. It may be a piece of needlepoint or quilting that needs finishing or indeed knitting that needs to finally leave the needles! Don’t worry if you arrive empty handed I have a shelf full of books and templates, small fabric remnants and cottons etc.. to inspire and utilise. We will have fun.

My hope is that in time we can learn new skills from each other. If there is somebody who can rid me of my zip insertion phobia that would be simply perfect!

Of course the chat, the homemade cake and warming drinks will be just as important, and I hope we’ll laugh a lot! A donations teapot will be in situ to cover cost of refreshments, materials and to help support Fine Cell Work, an amazing social enterprise that teaches needlework to prison inmates and sells their products.

If anyone would like any further information or needs directions (I am based in Hambrook, Bristol) please get in touch with me lizferg@btinternet.com.

I really hope you can come! Love Rocking Dog x

Coffee....,Rocking Dog

Coffee….

& Cake,Rocking Dog

& Cake

Share Beloved Bernina,Rocking Dog

Share Beloved Bernina

My Stash,Rocking Dog

My Stash

Haberdashery Stash,Rocking Dog

Haberdashery Stash

Choose A Project,Rocking Dog

Choose A Project

Ribbons....,Rocking Dog

Ribbons….

& Lace,Rocking Dog

& Lace

Make New Friends,Rocking Dog

Make New Friends

Rocking Dog 350th Blog Celebration

Piggy Pud', Rocking Dog

Piggy Pud’

Rocking Dog enjoyed a lazy afternoon at The Pig near Bath yesterday. What better way to celebrate this, my 350th Rocking Dog Blog post! After a hectic few weeks it was lovely to venture out for lunch with my longest standing friend. I have known Teri since 10th March 1980. I can be certain of the auspicious date, for it was the day we met on a train travelling to Aldershot. We were somewhat nervously about to embark on our Army Basic Training. I remember her wearing an enamel Roxy Music badge. I expect she remembers the fact that I had far too much luggage!

We started this visit to The Pig with a wander around the kitchen garden. I loved the beautiful wreath’s on the doors of The Apple Shed, treatment huts and even the chicken coop. The gardeners were busily planting cabbage plants into the damp cold soil. Kale, chard, onions, sprouts adorned the large walled plot, winters’ jewels.

A Virgin Bloody Mary and Raspberry cocktail were sipped by a roaring open fire whilst we perused the menu. We nibbled on pork crackling infused popcorn. It all felt very decadent!

We ate in the lovely conservatory and enjoyed truly yummy things and reminisced about 36 years of friendship. We ended the meal with a mint infusion taken by another roaring open fire. Perfect.

The sun was descending, and we glimpsed a transient amber-pink ribbon of sky through bare ancient beeches. Such a lovely afternoon.

I cannot believe that there have been 349 blog posts before this one. I am sometimes all too ready to throw in the towel…but here I am, still blogging for all my sins! I hope that there are posts that you are inspired by and hope you’ll keep hanging in on there for the ride! Thank you x

Teri and I decided that this is to be an annual pre Christmas meet up. It’s all too easy to get overly caught up in the mayhem that is Christmas. Breathe. Breathe and eat pork crackling infused popcorn!

Antler Wreath, Rocking Dog

Antler Wreath

Fork To Plate,Rocking Dog

Fork To Plate

Fireside Drinks,Rocking Dog

Fireside Drinks

Stockholm Gingerbread,Rocking Dog

Stockholm Gingerbread

Pig Gingerbread,Rocking Dog

Pig Gingerbread

Pretty Eggs,Rocking Dog

Pretty Eggs

Pretty Pear,Rocking Dog

Pretty Pear

Twinkly Pig,Rocking Dog

Twinkly Pig

Sunset At The Pig,Rocking Dog

Sunset At The Pig

Umbria’s Spectacular Floral Cloak

Poppies In The Olive Grove, Rocking Dog

Poppies In The Olive Grove

We literally gasped when we saw Umbria’s spectacular floral cloak. Drifts of wild poppies adorned the hedgerows together with other spring flowers with names that sadly allude me. Blue skies, soothing warmth, butterflies and birdsong completed this gorgeous picture.

In November there are yellows and rusts, mists, the distant barks of hunting dogs and of course …the olives. Winter brings a very different landscape, with different smells and a particular hazy stillness.

In our hosts’ garden the Wisteria with its gnarled branches was showing off it’s spectacular aromatic blooms. Soon the flowers will be no longer, in their place a plethora of limey green fronds. The pergola’s leafy canopy will soon provide dappled shade to those seeking respite from the heat of the day.

The welcome spring sunshine saw lizards lithely scuttle up sun baked walls and into the dark mysterious crevices of the dry stone walls. Meanwhile the olive trees were given a brutal pruning, all of us debating whether there was enough time to get olives growing on their branches.

A trip to a talented home baker to buy fresh breads from the wood fired oven, and then on to buy eggs from an owner who knows all her hens by name, all help to make this place feel simply idyllic.

As ever there was the inevitable trip to a market to buy vintage textiles. I left behind the beautifully embroidered piece which in German read “I am not worthy to have you under my roof”! Pleased with my stash these embroidered pieces are currently being laundered and will be sold at a later date. The market also supplied me with sun blush tomatoes, Pecorino (Ewes milk cheese) and salamis for the boys’ wedding. I SO wanted to bring home artichokes, wild asparagus and other perishable market treats.

Prosecco was quaffed and cicci little morsels were gobbled at Michele’s and very sadly the weekend came to an end.

Short, sweet, but oh so lovely to witness the spectacular arrival of spring in the Umbrian olive groves. Grow little olives, please grow!

Olives, Rocking Dog

Olives

Wisteria Pergola, Rocking Dog

Wisteria Pergola

Tulip Festival, Rocking Dog

Tulip Festival

Market Tomatoes, Rocking Dog

Market Tomatoes

.....Salami, Rocking Dog

…..Salami

......& Artichokes, Rocking Dog

……& Artichokes

Arancini, Rocking Dog

Arancini

Turmeric Bread, Rocking Dog

Turmeric Bread

.....& then Cake!, Rocking Dog

…..& then Cake!

Bringing In The Spring To The Kennel!

Spring Things!, Rocking Dog

Spring Things!

Though it’s nippy outside i’m bringing in the spring to the kennel! Daffodils and tulips can be purchased really inexpensively to make a room come alive and instantly feel more cheery. I love the fact that at this time of year I can use my tulip vase for its correct purpose, to provide a watering hole for, well….tulips! Bought in the clearance section of TK Maxx a few years ago I enjoy filling it with these fleeting blooms. Oh how I would simply love a towering antique Delftware tulip vase! Originally made in the 17th century the Dutch blue and white vases were painted with Chinese decoration to imitate the decoration found on Chinese porcelain. The pots were generally made in a number of sections, if made in one piece they would often collapse during firing. Ironically, just as the Dutch had copied Chinese decoration for their wares, the Chinese went onto copy the Delft tulip vases! These were then imported into Europe by the Dutch East India Company together with silk, cotton and exotic spices. Tulips themselves were introduced to Britain at the end of the 16th century and were incredibly rare and expensive. “Girl With The Pearl Earring” is a good film to view to gain an idea of what life was like in the Netherlands in the 17th century. At the height of the popularity of the film my girls and I went to see the painting of “Girl With The Pearl Earring” by Johannes Vermeer at the Mauritshuis in The Hague, anything to escape the misery of a wet campsite! The painting was much smaller than I had expected, was very beautiful and the girls gaze seemed to mystically follow you. Being a Bristol girl I need to mention Banksy’s 2014 artwork entitled “Girl With a Pierced Eardrum “. A massive Banksy creation it can be found on Bristol’s harbourside. Vermeer’s girl is recreated by our most famous Bristol artist, with her iconic pearl earring being replaced with a strategically placed alarm box!

Back to a much more humble installation, my kitchen window is a profusion of pink at the moment. A £2.50 hyacinth tub from M&S and vase of pink blooms make for a pretty and fragrant washing up session. The heavy stems with their waxy blooms also go some way in screening a garden that needs some serious digging and cultivating!

Paper pompoms and fan garland decorations also provide a bit of spring-like cheer in the house. I don’t need a party or indeed any excuse whatsoever to do a little transient decorative frou’ing!

Outside in the Rocking Dog garden there are branches of showy japonica blossom, hellebores, wild violets, snowdrops and daffodils. Create little posies for thoughtful gifts, remember it’s Mothering Sunday coming up this weekend.

Hope this is the start of a good week for you. Love Rocking Dog x

Hyacinth Profusion, Rocking Dog

Hyacinth Profusion

The Humble Daff', Rocking Dog

The Humble Daff’

Tulip Vase, Rocking Dog

Tulip Vase

Pretty Paper, Rocking Dog

Pretty Paper

Paper Pompom, Rocking Dog

Paper Pompom

Flowers To Give, Rocking Dog

Flowers To Give

Wrapping Up For Spring

Spring Bloom Wrap, Rocking Dog

Spring Bloom Wrap

Walking yesterday in the warming transient sunshine, it felt as if a welcome waft of spring had arrived. Though the lilac is far from flowering, and the Magnolia isn’t yet tempted to burst forth, there were hopeful signs of less grey and less wet! Inspired by the shows of Daffodils, Croci, Wild Violets and Snowdrops I thought i’d share my Wrapping Up For Spring.

M & S have excelled themselves in a particularly beautiful paper edition “Adventures In Spring” (pick up a free copy in the food department of any M&S). There were pages of Spring florals, perfect for wrapping a Birthday present and dressing a pot of Hyacinths. Non flowery pages did not go to waste, and were used for wrapping another couple of gifts.

I complemented the floral loveliness with some artificial pansies (which cleverly disguised some wording), thin gingham ribbon and a luggage tag. I am a big fan of Lamy fountain pens and am adoring the exciting colours of their new ink cartridges. For this label I used violet ink, but i’m desperate to try out the orange and lime green. Oh, i’m all together SO fickle!

Today i’m preparing for a belated Burn’s Night which is happening over the weekend. Pipes, drums, addressing the haggis, a quaich of whiskey or two, food with an Italian slant, i’m sure Rabbie will hear us toasting his poetry prowess!

Whatever you are doing this weekend I hope it’s going to be enjoyable, and not as ear shatteringly noisy or whiskey laden as mine!

Love Rocking Dog x

Now for getting Real Live Rocking Dog into the bath!

It's A Wrap!, Rocking Dog

It’s A Wrap!

Tied With A Bow, Rocking Dog

Tied With A Bow

Hyacinth Frou'ing, Rocking Dog

Hyacinth Frou’ing

Spring Collection, Rocking Dog

Spring Collection

Vintage Violets, Rocking Dog

Vintage Violets

The Real Thing, Rocking Dog

The Real Thing

The Lightning Strike, Get Me Connected!

Calm After The Storm, Rocking Dog

Calm After The Storm

Sorry I have been away so long. We had a lightning strike about ten days ago and it has taken out our internet. I really have missed doing my Rocking Dog blog, and normal service has yet to resume. Come on BT I need to be connected!

Thankfully I have been busy with various projects so haven’t had too many blogging withdrawal symptoms. Beloved Bernina has been busy making a dog bed for Real Live Rocking Dog and there are the beginnings of a Roman blind. Unfortunately the blind project has come to a bit of a grinding halt as it requires some mathematically challenging calculations. I strongly believe I have dyscalculia… sounds tragically painful, but is numeracy dyslexia. I want to campaign to have symbols on cashpoint machines rather than numbers (i.e., duck, ball, heart etc…). Every time I go to a cash machine I am sent into a blind panic regarding whether I will have remembered my number or not. I’d rather not remember the fact that my bedroom walls were plastered with gigantium times table posters for years in the faint hope i’d remember at least my 2x table! So… back to the blind, it remains in pieces until I give myself the space to work through the figures!

Various wedding projects have kept me on my toes, addressing envelopes, sewing 130 cutlery pockets and de-Christmas’ing some huge lanterns. The lanterns bought for £13 each in TK Maxx have gone from festive red to chalky Annie Sloan white. Result! Unfortunately, I have also had my first sleepless night worrying about the enormity of doing the wedding food for 120 guests. It really will be fine. It’s just that i’m not very good at rationalising anything when it’s pitch black and i’m wanting sleep. It will be more than fine it will be AMAZING… and i’m hopeful that i’ll even remember to pull off my pinny before heading into the church. It’s a while off yet … so I hope sleep mode will kick in without any more thoughts of serving platters, refrigeration, sourcing ingredients, logistics etc…!

Post- storm I found myself back in Weston Super Mare again. It was a fabulous day with clear blue skies and welcome sunshine. Following the high stormy tides, swathes of flotsam and jetsam littered the beach. How I love beach foraging, and my trove included shells, peach stones, pebbles and abandoned toys. Dried out, the treasures are housed in a glass jar waiting to be used for some future project.

Another walk took me to the Ashton Court Estate. Nipping winds and dramatic grey skies dominated this walk, but Real Live Rocking Dog didn’t seem to mind. I loved the huge balls of mistletoe swaying in the wind smugly. They had mystically escaped the 2015 Christmas cull.

With various celebrations to wrap for, I loved picking up the latest edition of M&S Adventures (Spring) freebie paper. It prettily and stylishly wrapped birthday and Valentine’s gifts for free.

My Stanley tool bag so thoughtfully bought for me by Andyman has come into its own this week. I finally adorned the dressing table with the agate handles and mended the cooker (ooh …. my language!!) On the subject of homemaking, I am LOVING The Great Interior Design Challenge (BBC2) at the moment.

The most boring achievement of the week has to be the fact that I have clean kitchen cupboards. No more plastic tubs tumbling out to cause the most terrible of expletives, and now some great stock control in place. Yippee, it’s amazing how clean cupboards makes your brain feel somehow less cluttered. I can report that unlike my Mother in law’s recent clean out there were no ancient tins of Toast Toppers to report!

I do hope I can sign on again soon, I have missed my banter with the world!

I hope this finds you all well, and that you are enjoying the fact that we are hurtling towards another weekend.

Love Rocking Dog x

Not Mistletoe Season!, Rocking Dog

Not Mistletoe Season!

New Bed, Rocking Dog

New Bed

Starting The Blind, Rocking Dog

Starting The Blind

Agate Handles, Rocking Dog

Agate Handles

Beach Treasure, Rocking Dog

Beach Treasure

Wrapping For Free, Rocking Dog

Wrapping For Free

Matrimonial Painting..., Rocking Dog

Matrimonial Painting…

 ...Stitching, Rocking Dog

…Stitching

... & Scribing, Rocking Dog

… & Scribing

I Miss My Festive Gnomes!

Pretty In Pink!, Rocking Dog

Pretty In Pink!

This week has been seen through a blurry Lemsip haze. Thankfully I am on the mend, though I am sporting a rattling cough which is truly attractive, and reminiscent of a ghastly Dickensian workhouse scene! Tasks have therefore been small, dog walks laboured, domesticities minimal and sleep unsettled.

Today I decided to bring some spring indoors to cheer me up. I have missed my kitchen gnomes since they were boxed up and garrisoned in the attic. I organised wired mini milk bottles with spring blooms, Rocking Dog crooked hearts, some pink pom-poms and one or two other spring bits to deck the gilded kitchen circlet.

Yes, it certainly has bought pretty spring cheer to the kitchen and now I don’t miss the gnomes as much!

Whatever you are doing this weekend have a lovely one. Love from Rocking Dog x

 Gnome Place Like Home!, Rocking Dog

Gnome Place Like Home!

Attic Fodder, Rocking Dog

Attic Fodder

Pretty Things, Rocking Dog

Pretty Things

Spring Positivity, Rocking Dog

Spring Positivity

Spring Blooms, Rocking Dog

Spring Blooms

Anyone Seen The Tea Strainer?!, Rocking Dog

Anyone Seen The Tea Strainer?!