mercredi 11 mai 2016
The Baron and Baroness du Brevands came to visit the chateau today.
Their 1930s car looked SO at home here!!
Even Charles fell in love and tried to get inside!!
I just hope he is not comfy on their back seat!!!
A la prochaine mes belles
lundi 9 mai 2016
Seven years ago we stumbled upon our Petit Chateau hidden away on the marsh. She had been sleeping quietly empty and unloved for 10 years. As we made our way through the broken gate we fell in love.
As soon as I saw George the dragon girouette weathervane on the roof I knew the house was for us!
Seven years and one long learning curve later we are still renovating, the concrete mixer is still in use and I sometimes feel we will never be finished. The day that Mark knocked a hole from the main building in to the barn next door we panicked wondering if we had done the right thing. We covered it over with a cupboard and ignored it for a while!!!
But looking at a couple of photographs I unearthed yesterday it seems we have moved on quite a lot. We have certainly been good for the local builders merchants!!!
I had to learn pretty quickly that if I wanted a certain period piece to be included I had to have it ready as it`s no use turning up with it later. Just like the 19th century iron railing on the salon steps that I arrived home with just in time!!
I had quite a stash of old doors just in case!!
And they were all used too!!
We bought the parquet floor from an old chateau chapel and hand cleaned each piece!
Now THAT was a labour of love!!
From one bedroom and no bathroom we now have three bedrooms with bathrooms, the open barn where the horse drawn plough had been parked became our living area. Even the attic has been made in to a guest room.
It was impossible to get through the brambles in the garden that led on to the marsh but now we have lawns.
The marsh tries to reclaim it quite regularly and the North wind can be too harsh for many plants but in Winter but when the marsh floods and swans swim past the bedroom window it is almost like an enchanted house on the sea.
The sunrise every morning is stunning .....
The renovation sometimes seem slow and then all of a sudden we seem to have moved on with a jolt.
Will we ever be finished I wonder?
George just looks on from the roof top.....
A la prochaine mes belles
mercredi 27 avril 2016
Not too far from our home an old chateau lay silent and closed. I could never resist the temptation of passing the big iron gates without driving in.
I loved walking around the deserted gardens where statues were hidden by the over grown foliage. I always wanted to enter the orangerie but it was locked tight.
It had the most perfect proportions and I have often wondered what it would be like to peer out from one of the oeil de boeuf zinc top windows.
In the 19th century it had been a home for an aristocratic family. I truffled a few old sepia postcards around the local brocantes and loved to see how little it had changed.
During WW2 it had been used as a headquarters for German officers.
After the war it was bequeathed to a local order of nuns and in the 1950s it had been used to give holiday breaks to needy children.
The doors closed in the 1960s and had remained firmly shuttered.
I have sat on those steps so many times in the sunshine just listening to the birds singing and it always felt like a wonderful secret hideaway.
Until, a few months ago the gates closed and a padlock and chain appeared. Soon a very elegant name plaque appeared next to the gates.
Apparently it has been purchased and renovated.
I have never seen it since. Sometimes the gates are open but I cannot bring myself to drive through the woods as my perfect dream would be shattered.
I just hope the renovation has been a kind one.
A la prochaine mes belles
vendredi 15 avril 2016
lundi 21 mars 2016
I had no idea when I opened my eyes this morning that I would be entering an international sporting event. Indeed I hadn`t even done any training.
About 11.45, having visited our accountant to sort out some particularly confusing French paperwork, we passed a small local restaurant and thought "Why not" - and so we did!
An hour later and having enjoyed a wonderful three course meal for less than £11.00 each we turned off the car park onto the road to head home. We had travelled no more than some 30 yards when a rather officious looking man wearing a yellow 'gilet' and carrying a clip board made it clear that we could not continue but had to turn around go in the opposite direction. It was clear we had been 'barriered' in!
Driving along by the side of the canal we soon fell in behind a large supermarket advertising van with an immense video board on the top listing lap numbers. Then a few lycra clad racing cyclists on very streamlined bikes zoomed past us and disappeared into the distance.
We continued on our way eventually falling in behind a small convey made up of cars and a few small trucks carrying spare bikes. We passed various camera men proudly pointing their very long extended lenses directly at us and and a few spectators, some enthusiastic enough to have brought their own seats with them - but no matter how we tried to leave the road we couldn`t do so as all the side roads were cordoned off., and we were simply waved on. I tidied my hair...paparazzi and all that you understand!
More cyclists began overtaking and then hoards of people sitting on the pavements on their folding chairs. It suddenly dawned on us that we were actually on the course of one of the legs of the Tour de Normandie cycle race taking place that afternoon. I was very tempted to wave but hid my face instead.
We actually drove quite close to our friends Viv and Mike`s house and were desperately hoping they had turned out to watch the spectacle as I wanted to give them the Queen`s wave and watch the shock on their faces!!!
We started to head back towards the town and came to a traffic island surrounded by gendarmes and more 'yellow' men. We assumed that we would be moved off the course but, again, we were simply waved on. Did they think we were an official vehicle and perhaps Mark was a timekeeper or medic?
WE had already passed the sign arrive (start/ finish) 3 kms - and then we passed the 2 km. sign. It then became very obvious from the growing number of people standing at the side of the road that we were almost at the start point - and were destined to do another lap! I was very tempted to do just that as, by this point, I was getting very competitive and wanted to win!
At the next side road Mark managed to make a quick swerve, mounted the pavement and managed to squeeze past the barriers before the 'yellow coats' could stop us.
Let it never be said that life in this quiet backwater called Normandy is ever without excitement!
A la prochaine mes belles
dimanche 20 mars 2016
samedi 12 mars 2016
Amy - otherwise known as Mademoiselle Tartelette from Oregon has been staying here with us at the chateau for a truffling trip.
She began her trip down in the South of France where she spent a week of truffling before starting the long haul drive to us here in the North, in Normandie. She had intended to stop over in Paris mid-journey before carrying on the next day, but as she was still wide awake after the expresso café stops en route she called us to say that she had decided to carry on and would reach us about midnight.
When she was about an hour away she called again to say that her fuel was getting low in her hire car and was getting a little worried as she did not know where the nearest service stations were. We re-assured her that she only had a little way to go before she found a petrol stop and that she should have sufficient fuel in her tank to make it in time.
She called us about 45 minutes later to say that she had arrived at the service station, would top her tank up and be with us very shortly. However some five minutes later she called again to report that her hire car was refusing to start.
She was only about five miles away so we jumped in our car and set off to rescue her, wondering what had happened to cause her car not to start. When we arrived at the service station she appeared in high spirits, sitting in the all night café stop and causing great hilarity among a group of truck drivers wearing yellow coats, trying to explain in her broken French that they looked like a gang of Minions!!
A few calls to her insurance company and it was not long before a truck arrived to transport her car to the nearest garage. And the reason it wouldn't start? Tartellete had put petrol into her tank instead of diesel!With her car safely locked away in the garage for the rest of the night [it was about 2.00am by then!]we packed her along with the treasures she had bought and her suitcases into our car and headed home.
The next morning we went to collect her vehicle, having been duly drained and re-filled with the correct fuel and our truffling began in earnest.
I take her to brocantes and dealers off the beaten track and I have threatened to blindfold her a couple of times as some of my truffling spots are in well-guarded 'simply chateau' secret locations!! Some old dealers with amazing hauls and collections have supplied me for well over 30 years now.
Tartelette has a very serious case of incurable 'brocantitis' but, teamed with a very good eye, that makes for a whole hoard of delicieux treasures for her to pack up and take to La Poste.
We have had half the salon brimming with boxes, bubble wrap , rolls of tape, baskets, books, zinc finials with the other half full of her purchases: old chocolat boxes, rustique farmhouse linens and cuisine items,18th century giltwood fripperies, old boxes of candles, frames,18th century engravings, salon chairs and tables, and bed canopies - and that is to name just a few!!!
And so, with parcels packed and labelled, it's off to the post office.
This is just a small peek at her haul; and there is more to be shipped back to the States, including not only the two chairs she bought on this occasion but also two others which have been decorating our lounge for the last 18 months or so!
She leaves tomorrow, returning to Paris for the last few days of extra truffling, but under strict instructions to buy "small" as anything else would have to go in her suitcases. I shall be amazed if she manages to do that as she usually finds the temptations of the Paris flea too much to resist.
Of course I came home with a haul of confections myself so after a day of recovery tomorrow I shall be back to listing my own treasures on Monday including..............
....... a beautiful timeworn chateau Lit Polonaise
Plumply upholstered with horsehair and traditional batting inside it will be an easy project to re-upholster.
A la prochaine mes belles and "Au Revoir and Bon Voyage" to Mademoiselle Tartelette; have a safe journey home.
Oooh la la...... it seems so quiet here now.
vendredi 4 mars 2016
samedi 13 février 2016
The constant rain has caused the marsh to be higher than ever. Our garden has never filled with water but it has come close a couple of times.
Our little chateau is built up and has stood here since 1838 so I don`t think a little more rain will worry her!!
But, the local roads seem to be disappearing fast!
The best part of the day for me is standing at an upstairs window watching the pairs of swans gliding past and storks wading around the edges.
Have a wonderful and hopefully "dry" weekend mes belles!
I have a truffling trip followed by a couple of days in Venice next week................oooh la la!!!
A la pochaine.