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mercredi 3 février 2016

Lettres D`Amour..........a moment in time...



When I opened these old letters from the 1920s this morning I almost felt guilty.



 Written from a soldier to his "Grand Amour" Clotille he embraces her with all his heart and sends her a million kisses.





The little flower has been between that folded letter for over 80 years.





I wonder how their lives continued?

I have listed this batch of sweet moments in time in my Etsy shop.

May you days be filled with love just as those of Clotille....

A la prochaine mes belles

xxxx

vendredi 29 janvier 2016

The case of the missing money.....



Yesterday, with our business tax payment imminent, we went off to the nearest town to transfer some funds into our French bank, Credit Agricole.

As it was lashing with rain I chose the cowards way out  -and stayed in the car whilst Mark dashed around the corner to make the deposit.

As Mark got back in the car he mentioned how the paying in process had altered and the paying in envelope was in such a different format that he had asked the assistant to help him. The assistant had obliged and even took the bank card off Mark to open  the automatic deposit flap and placed the money inside. Job done.

This morning we checked online that the money had gone in ( it normally happens within 24 hours) but the account showed that it hadn't.  We just assumed that the usual service was running slow, so we went out truffling as planned.

By lunchtime the deposit was still not showing in the account  so we went in to another branch of Credit Agricole to find out why. The clerk agreed to phone the branch we had paid in to and would make sure it was recorded.

By 4 o`clock there was still no sign of the payment in so we decided to drive to the original branch in Carentan where Mark had deposited the money to see what was happening.

As we drew up in the car opposite the bank Mark let out a groan of dismay. Well - not quite true. The air turned very blue!!






On the right in the picture is Credit Mutuel bank ( who we do not bank with);  next door is our bank  - Credit Agricole. 

Mark had suddenly realised that, in the rain and with his head down against the wind, he had gone into the Credit Mutuel bank the previous day, and had deposited the money into the wrong bank! My heart hit the floor.  French bureaucracy can be hideous and I knew that we would probably have to jump through hoops to get the money back.

What amazed me was the fact that our Credit Agricole bank card had opened the Credit Mutuel safe deposit box - and the clerk had used it to do so!

We crossed the road, walked into Credit Mutuel, explained the error to the bank clerk and he directed us to some seats to await one of his colleagues. We sat there for what seemed like a lifetime with me making my feelings known to Mark:  " Well, I am not leaving here without the money". With us not having any receipt or proof  I looked to see if there were security cameras trained on the cash dispensers so at least there might be a record of him paying the money in. To my relief I saw several.


Finally we were led to an office where a very official- looking lady explained that she had seen the envelope but had been unable to recognise the strange account number written on it. She had checked her records and , to our surprise, informed us that there was in fact someone who banked with them  who had the same surname as me - and they were thinking of simply paying the money into that account.

My heart hit the floor as I have heard of internet payments being directly transferred to wrong accounts and the money never seeing the light of day again!!

We explained that her colleague had used the card from the wrong bank to open their deposit box. She simply advised us that any card, even a French health card, would have opened it!!

We tried not to make too much of the fact that Mark had actually entered the wrong bank and had not noticed his mistake!!!

Much to our relief she produced the envelope with the money still inside it - but then asked us for some proof of identity.  Mark shot out to the car like a brocanteur at a chateau sale, returning in less than a minute with our driving licenses.

Phew! We were saved! She handed over the envelope and we sheepishly left, immediately going next door into Credit Agricole to pay the money in.

The only saving grace for Mark is that the lady who had returned the money to us admitted that she, too, had turned up at work one morning and had walked into the wrong bank!


And so the tax man will be happy after all  - but as for Mark...........................!!

A la prochaine, mes belles

xxxxx



mercredi 20 janvier 2016

Just a perfect day....



A wonderful day of truffling in the most divine attic and it may have been freezing cold but I was in heaven!!!

Lots of delicieux treasures being listed tomorrow.











We arrived home shattered and dusty to the most wonderful sunset over the marsh.



A perfect day!!

A la prochaine mes belles
xxxxx

samedi 16 janvier 2016

Au revoir my bohemian friend............

 
It has been a sad start to 2016 with the loss of Jill, my close friend.



Mark and I had just to moved to France some eleven years ago and we were standing in the queue at the post office when someone said "Are you Simply Chateau?" It was Jill who was also in the queue. I had written on my blog of our move to Normandy, she saw us both laden with parcels and guessed ( correctly) who I was. From that day we became firm friends and saw each other every few days or so.

Having a unique and wonderful creative spirit for painting and drawing , she was also an amazing textile artist. She taught me that art is a personal thing and you create it purely for yourself and no one else.

 I would occasionally try to fish out some delicious creation that she had discarded into her waste bin, unhappy with her work. On those occasions when she was persuaded to exhibit some of her creations, she was always genuinely surprised if someone asked the price of an item with the intention of buying it, which was not uncommon as her work was stunning! She was so talented but, at the same time, was very humble - and I am quite sure she had no idea how fabulous her creations were.

Her studio is a haven of absolute heaven, filled with period textiles, trims and paints with drawers full of vintage paste jewellery pieces, beads and corsage flowers. The walls are lined with prints, paintings, books and treasures that Jill had collected over many years. The room is purely " Jill", and it was here that I would often find her totally absorbed in her latest project, oblivious of the time and sometimes forgetting to eat. I spent many hours sitting opposite her simply watching as she worked whilst we caught up with each other's news.

She was an absolute inspiration to me. We laughed together, cried together, made mad plans together, swapped velvet and linen clothes - and often put the world to rights!

She did everything with style and panache and no more so than one early morning when, whilst  walking through an antique fair, her skirt slipped down around her ankles. Unperturbed she simply stepped out of it, picked it up  and carried on walking as if nothing has happened!

She was a voracious reader and made me read books I would never have chosen for myself . But I am so glad she did; they were the kind of books that, once I had started reading,  I simply could not put them down!

I feel privileged to have listened to her talk of her own life experiences. From being a teenager in London in the swinging 60s and her very first job being an usherette at the Royal Opera House, Convent Garden to her travels and the people she had met. She had been a photographic model and had rubbed shoulders with many famous people of the time. When I began to call her my Bohemian friend she immediately looked up the word "Bohemian" just in case it was a name she would was not entitled to!!!

She told me in minute detail of the time she had lived in India on a houseboat on Lake Kashmiri - and her recollections were so vivid that, when I closed my eyes, I could almost feel the warm breeze on my face, hear the water lapping against the wooden hull and see tiny glimpses of silver as tiny fish darted between the reeds.

There was recently a fascinating TV documentary about the oldest and most famous hotel in Mumbai - "The Taj Mahal Palace". As I started to tell her about it I was amazed when she interrupted me by saying "When I stayed there in the 70s I asked a maid to arrange the dry cleaning of my beautiful fine silk dress and later, as I looked out of the window, I saw the maid beating it against a stone in the river to wash it!"  If I had known that she had stayed there I would have watched that documentary with even more interest!!!!

 As her illness progressed and she became weaker we talked of what wings we would have in heaven. We decided that mine would probably  be made of carved wood, shabbily painted and with bits of wood missing and harbouring woodworm! Jill`s wings on the other hand would be made from rich silk patchwork in Kingfisher blues and deep purple and embroidered with her own signature dragon flies.

To Tony, her family and friends who sat with Jill to watch over her twenty four hours a day,  I can only say that no one  could have cared for her better; you were all amazing.

And the next time you catch a glimpse of a Kingfisher across the water you know who it will be !!

                With the fondest of memories
                                  xxxxx




vendredi 8 janvier 2016

Filling up the shop....

I have so many boxes of small treasures from a recent manoir attic clearance that I am going to spend the weekend filling up my Etsy shop. The link is opposite...bear with me!!

Bone Weekend mes belles
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

mardi 29 décembre 2015

An 18th century find.....



Distressed and timeworn this tiny trinket box or patch box is such a sweet confection.

I have left it just as I found it.

The lid carries a petite vignette under glass of a man declaring his love for his sweetheart " I promise to love you and never leave you...."

Hidden away inside is another vignette under glass that shows the mademoiselle in later years alone with three sad children and the message "Bacchus is a violent God, we avenge him by loving".



Inside the lid is a small distressed mirror with a twinkling of mercury within the silvering.

The outer is worn and the basketwork over card is peeling, I can just see a few words on the paper layers so old documents must have been used below the straw.





It is little treasures like this that capture my heart and fuel my imagination.

May 2016 be filled with more truffling for beautiful finds like this.

Happy New year and Bonne Annee mes belles.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

mercredi 9 décembre 2015

A divine hideaway.......



Even after 12 years of living here on the beautiful Cherbourg Peninsula we still find new places hiding away!!

Today we saw a sign we had never seen before so of course we had to follow the trail.....





A long winding road through the forest led to the most beautiful chateau.......





So now I have to investigate more to see why they would have signs pointing towards it.




Is it now a hotel I wonder?


I shall keep you posted mes belles...

xxxxx

vendredi 4 décembre 2015

What will the future hold............



Many many years ago when I had just started my truffling through France I was told by a fortune teller that if I ever found any old tarot cards she would be interested in them. But she was very adamant that I could only buy them if I had no idea who had been the previous owner. This was something she repeated to me at least 3 times before I left. There was to be no indication whatsoever of the cards previous user.



I am not particularly superstitious but It is something that has always stayed in my mind. 



 Truffling by torchlight at the Paris flea market  I saw this wonderful set on a house clearers stand that was piled high with brocante so I figured it would be safe!!!



They are timeworn and simply beautiful, each card is so detailed and the scenes are charming. I have yet to do some research to find their date.



At the moment I am reading a period novel set in Venice ( no surprise there with my Venice addiction!). The main character sits in her silk brocade bedecked room by the Grand Canal for hours and hours turning the tarot cards to read her future.



And just looks at these cards ....each one is marked where a thumb would have dealt them time and time again. 



I know I am not supposed to know who they belonged to but I can still imagine!!!

Bon weekend mes belles

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

mercredi 25 novembre 2015

`Allo......`Allo....





I just love this 1920s glove puppet I found at the weekend.





He SO reminds me of Officer Crabtree!!!







In the words of Officer Crabtree "Good moaning I have a massage for you...................."

He is being added to my site tonight. Bon moustache Monsieur!!

A la prochaine mes belles

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

jeudi 12 novembre 2015

Ooooh la la mes belles..............!!!

A Downton Abbey car boot sale! Stately home owners put 300 years of aristocratic bric-a-brac worth £1MILLION – including Queen Victoria's stockings - up for auction 

  • Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury wanted to declutter Hooton Pagnell Hall so they could redesign the interior
  • The impressive stately home was crammed full of old relics, so much so that some rooms couldn't be used
  • Over 2,000 items including paintings, furniture, jewellery, tribal weapons and stuffed animals are being auctioned
Most homeowners' clearouts end with a few bags for charity or a car boot sale but one couple stand to make £1million after a major de-clutter.
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury found a mass of family treasures and possessions that had been accumulated over 300 years by their ancestors after they inherited Hooton Pagnell Hall.
The impressive stately home, compared to a Downton Abbey style house, was crammed full of old relics, so much so that most of the rooms on the second floor couldn't be used.
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury found a mass of family treasures and possessions that had been accumulated over 300 years by their ancestors after they inherited Hooton Pagnell Hall. This image shows a room that was an Aladdin's cave of silver
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury found a mass of family treasures and possessions that had been accumulated over 300 years by their ancestors after they inherited Hooton Pagnell Hall. This image shows a room that was an Aladdin's cave of silver
This room at Hooton Pagnell Hall was full of an incredible collection of items including old drums, stuffed animals and even a dinosaur head
This room at Hooton Pagnell Hall was full of an incredible collection of items including old drums, stuffed animals and even a dinosaur head
The impressive stately home, compared to a Downton Abbey style house, was crammed full of old relics, so much so that most of the rooms on the second floor couldn't be used
The impressive stately home, compared to a Downton Abbey style house, was crammed full of old relics, so much so that most of the rooms on the second floor couldn't be used
A painting of Windsor Castle from the Thames with figures in the foreground by Paul Sandby, signed and dated 'P Sandby 1802', is being sold off by the Warde-Norburys and is thought to be worth £60,000
A painting of Windsor Castle from the Thames with figures in the foreground by Paul Sandby, signed and dated 'P Sandby 1802', is being sold off by the Warde-Norburys and is thought to be worth £60,000
Their decision to take a 'less is more' approach to interior design has resulted in a sale of about 2,000 items including paintings, furniture, jewellery, silverware, Victorian toys, tribal weapons and stuffed animals.
Some of the more odd items include a Queen Victoria stocking, 18th century cook books and a bloodied blanket from when the house was used as a First World War hospital.
In the library the couple found a moving letter written by former estate manager Bernard Wilson to his younger brother Dr Edward Wilson, who died alongside Captain Scott on his doomed expedition to the South Pole in 1911.
The elder sibling wrote: 'Goodbye old chap & take care of yourself. God help you.' The letter is valued at £3,000.
The sale includes many important paintings including a large watercolour of Windsor Castle by Paul Sandby painted in 1802 which was bought by the family in about 1890 for £1. It is now worth £60,000. Pictured is the Badsworth Hounds meet at the hall in 1934
The sale includes many important paintings including a large watercolour of Windsor Castle by Paul Sandby painted in 1802 which was bought by the family in about 1890 for £1. It is now worth £60,000. Pictured is the Badsworth Hounds meet at the hall in 1934
Hooton Pagnell drawing room was used as a auxiliary military hospital during WWI
Hooton Pagnell drawing room was used as a auxiliary military hospital during WWI
Also in the library was a rare copy of the Nuremberg Chronicle, or Liber Chronicarum as it is known to Latin scholars, which is an illustrated biblical paraphrase and world history and was written by Hartmann Schedel in 1493. It has an estimated value of £30,000.
The sale includes many important paintings including a large watercolour of Windsor Castle by Paul Sandby painted in 1802 which was bought by the family in about 1890 for £1. It is now worth £60,000.
A pair of flintlock duelling pistols made by HW Mortimer, the King's gunmaker, in about 1800, are expected to fetch £8,000 and a rare mid-18th century English wooden doll, which was found propped up on a chair in the nursery, could make up to £15,000.
On the floor of the safe the Warde-Norburys uncovered a valuable silver candlestick and cutlery that had been buried for years under four inches of dust.
Hooton Pagnell Hall in Yorkshire has been in the Warde family since 1681 when it became the home of Sir Patience Warde, a Whig politician and former Lord mayor of London who began restoring the grand property.
During the First World War it was used as an auxiliary military hospital for injured servicemen and the sale includes items from then. There is also a letter from nursing heroine Florence Nightingale.
Mr Warde-Norbury, 53, said: 'When we inherited the estate we quickly discovered there were areas of the house that had not been looked at and sorted through for many years, decades.
The sale includes this cased pair of 22-Bore Flintlock Duelling Pistols by H.W. Mortimer & Co., London, that date back to 1800 and are thought to be worth £8,000
The sale includes this cased pair of 22-Bore Flintlock Duelling Pistols by H.W. Mortimer & Co., London, that date back to 1800 and are thought to be worth £8,000
A document signed by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was unearthed by the Warde-Norbury family during their huge decluttering operation
A document signed by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, was unearthed by the Warde-Norbury family during their huge decluttering operation
The Warde-Norbury's treasure trove includes a first edition of The Nuremberg Chronicle, which is the most extensively-illustrated book published in the 15th century. It's said to be worth a staggering £30,000
The Warde-Norbury's treasure trove includes a first edition of The Nuremberg Chronicle, which is the most extensively-illustrated book published in the 15th century. It's said to be worth a staggering £30,000
This painting of The Molo in Venice by Italian painter Luca Carlevarijs, which was found in Hooton Pagnell Hall, is thought to be worth £28,000
This painting of The Molo in Venice by Italian painter Luca Carlevarijs, which was found in Hooton Pagnell Hall, is thought to be worth £28,000
'It was quite a daunting task and it's taken us two years to get to where we are, and we're still keeping an awful lot of stuff.
'Some of the rooms were over-furnished and needed decluttering. But there were so many things stuffed in drawers and boxes that we didn't know about.'
The couple even let their children Isobel, 15, and William, 12, decide what should be kept or sold.
Mr Warde-Norbury said: 'It's been a very emotional experience to sift through everything.
'We basically put a list together of things we weren't sure about and went through item by item.
'When we went through the silver safe it was so full we couldn't get into it. We had to take everything out and clean it to see what there was.
'We found lots of interesting stuff in the archway room, a storeroom that took us a day and a half to go through.
'Victorian toys to a Middle Eastern water bottle to antique daggers - it was a real eclectic mix.
'We even found a blood-stained blanket in a cupboard from when the hall was a military hospital. It just shows in those days no-one threw anything out.'
The clearout brought a letter from Florence Nightingale to light
It was signed 'in great haste yours truly Florence Nightingale'
The clearout brought a letter from Florence Nightingale to light. It was addressed to 'Madam', informing her that Mrs Eyre's 'little operation is over quite successfully' and that 'she took chloroform which prevented her from feeling any pain'. It was signed 'in great haste yours truly Florence Nightingale'
A 19th century iron mantrap with eighteen inch jaws and a tilting footplate is one of the items being auctioned by the Warde-Norburys
A 19th century iron mantrap with eighteen inch jaws and a tilting footplate is one of the items being auctioned by the Warde-Norburys
An Italian 17th century ebony, pietra dura and specimen marble cabinet from the manor house, estimated to be worth £30,000 is being sold by Bonhams
An Italian 17th century ebony, pietra dura and specimen marble cabinet from the manor house, estimated to be worth £30,000 is being sold by Bonhams
This English doll is worth around £15,000
A painting by Richard Gibson of Sir Patience Warde
Hooton Pagnell Hall horde: This English doll (left) is worth around £15,000 and will go under the hammer, while a painting by Richard Gibson of Sir Patience Warde (right) is also up for sale
As well as Mr Wilson's letter to his Antarctic explorer brother, there was also a letter sent by Mr Warde-Norbury's great-great-grandmother Julia Warde-Aldam to him.
The lady of the house wrote: 'I do hope it won't be very long now before you are back home again.'
The Florence Nightingale letter that informs 'Madam' of a successful operation is valued at £600 and there's a warrant signed by the Duke of Wellington authorising a payment of £1,888 - a substantial amount of money in 1809 - to an army corps that is worth £300.
Charlie Thomas from auctioneers Bonhams, said: 'There hasn't been a clearout at the house for over 300 years and the second floor, which were the old servants' bedrooms, we couldn't get into. They were so packed full of Grand Tour souvenirs all stacked up on top of each other.
'Everything had just been left untouched for years.
'The great thing about this sale is it's a real English country house sale. There are great academic pieces, like the Paul Sandby painting, to quirky things like one of Queen Victoria's stockings, which we found stuffed in the attic.
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury decided to adopt a 'less is more' approach to their interior design - and their decluttering has revealed a real treasure trove
Mark and Lucianne Warde-Norbury decided to adopt a 'less is more' approach to their interior design - and their decluttering has revealed a real treasure trove
Charlie Thomas from auctioneers Bonhams, said: 'The great thing about this sale is it's a real English country house sale.' Pictured is the living room of Hooton Hall
Charlie Thomas from auctioneers Bonhams, said: 'The great thing about this sale is it's a real English country house sale.' Pictured is the living room of Hooton Hall
The 559-lot collection, which totals about 2,000 items, includes pistols, paintings, furniture, jewellery, Victorian toys, tribal weapons and taxidermy from almost every room in the house
The 559-lot collection, which totals about 2,000 items, includes pistols, paintings, furniture, jewellery, Victorian toys, tribal weapons and taxidermy from almost every room in the house
'As soon as I walked in the house I got a Downton Abbey feel about it. When we found these amazing handwritten cookery books from the 18th century I could imagine a Mrs Patmore type writing down all her recipes for things like rabbit pie.
'The house even has an oubliette, a sort of holding cell that was used in the 14th and 15th centuries to hold criminals on the way to Doncaster magistrates.
'In there we found 18th century padlocks and a mantrap - which was used to catch poachers. In this day it's just an incredible thing to find.
'What makes it so interesting is these items haven't been seen on the market for up to 300 years and it's all in original condition, which is hugely appealing to collectors.
'A country house sale like this is a rare beast, you don't get them very often.'
The Hooton Pagnell Hall collection will be sold by Bonhams in Knightsbridge on December 1.