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vendredi 30 avril 2010

Maison Gosselin.....................

Maison Gosselin is a very special shop on the coast in St. Vaast La Hogue...............

It has the most wonderful delicatessen and some beautiful home embellishments............ their window displays are always so sweet.............

But best of all is their delivery van......................

Its almost worth ordering a huge pile of deli goods just to have the van arrive on the drive!
The painting of the chateau here is well under way, it`s looking a little like an iced cake! Heavens! I hope its going to be okay!

jeudi 29 avril 2010

A little 1920s amour.....................

At an recent early morning brocante I found the most wonderful set of old postcards all dated 1922 and written  between  Robert and his 'amour', Marcelle . Some were quite saucy and risque for the 1920s with divine boudoir lingerie on show!
Robert ended his messages with such beautiful words of love such as....
"soft and tender kisses for you my love"......

...."a thousand loving kisses from the one who loves you forever"......

.."your petit Robert for life".......and

....."I will be there soon and my first soft and tender kisses are for you".

I wonder how their story ended. Was it just a brief romance or did they stay together for a lifetime? Sadly we will never know..............

mercredi 28 avril 2010

A tap at the window.......................

Another blazing hot day - wonderful!  Dan and Jenny hadn't slept too well as the inflatable mattress they used in the half-renovated attic developed a hole in the middle of the night! Apparently Jenny spent most of the night gripping the edge and trying not to roll onto Dan at the centre!
A breakfast of freshly baked pain au chocolat soon put everyone right !

Jenny then took a quick bath before the builders arrived. (The scaffolding is currently placed directly outside the bathroom window and there are no blinds!) As soon as she was in and we heard her splashing around Darren climbed the scaffolding to rap the window pane to make her think the builders had arrived early! Panic ensued to say the least!! I suppose that set the tone for the rest of day  - and things only got more hysterical when Mark grabbed some work boots and had laced them up before  realising he was wearing two left feet!
But..... the builders and painters were soon in full flow - and as they got to work on the walls....

Dan was digging the footings for a new wall in the old barn with.....

Darren on wheelbarrow duty!

Our two preganant girls did not escape a little work either ... and enjoyed painting a 19th century door before collapsing on the sun loungers for the rest of the day with an excuse that they were incubating!















With all occupied outside, I remained in the cuisine to prepare lunch;  caramelised onion tarts with endless salad concoctions to feed twelve hungry workers, Digger our Jack  Russell and Charlie the Baron, our apricot-coloured kitten.
As expected, both Charlie, le Baron du Breuil, and Diggers decided to checked that the footings  were up to the building regulations in their own inimitable way!
 So  - a long hard day for all with plenty done - but then despair! We opened a tin of the specially-ordered paint to check the colour of the French grey only to find it was much too light, hardly grey at all. So early tomorrow I will have to go and buy some pigment colouring  and deepen every pot before we start. It has to be quite precise so that each pot is the same shade. But I do want it to be right!!! 
  C`est la vie!!!

mardi 27 avril 2010

All systems go......................

Well it`s all systems go now! The scaffolding arrived for the chateau painting and the higher levels are being jet washed. I had no idea that when it was cleaned the old stone would come out a soft sandy red colour. Its almost tempting to leave it just like that but the specially-ordered paint has arrived today - so it`s too late now I suppose. But the difference is very clear to see in the photograph below if you look at the 'old' colour under the chimney compared to the washed section.



The weather is glorious. A wonderful hot sun and no breeze across the marsh - perfect for the work to be carried out. I just hope this weather lasts all week. And so do the family who arrived from the UK this evening! Our son Dan and his wifeJenny and one of our daughters, Katie, has arrived with her husband, Darren. Both girls are expecting summer babies, both their first babies - and that`s a good excuse for the sun loungers to come out for the girls whilst the guys get stuck in to the renovation work! I suppose this will be the last time we will all be together before the new family additions arrive.

We had a long lazy supper at a long trestle table under the trees in the last of the day's warmth. I love the riotous banter that comes so naturally when we are all together and I laughed till I cried at the hysterically funny impression that Darren did of Louis Spence ( of recent Pineapple Sudio TV fame) as he tried to dance ( but it was actually more of a mince) around the garden doing high kicks!

But tomorrow I have it planned like a military operation! As soon as one wall is painted and the scaffolding is still in place someone will paint the window frames whilst the other fits the shutters! Sounds good in my head but will it work for real!!!

This week also sees the footings being started for the extension into the attached workers cottage which will be opened up from the main house to add a large salon with large double-arch shaped  French windows opening onto the marshes.
I will keep taking photographs as the week goes on.............

lundi 26 avril 2010

Simply-shat-on.....................

Well that`s it.......today I change my name from simply-chateau to simply-shat-on after two swallows used me for target practise within an hour of each other! Someone told me it`s supposed to be lucky but puh-lease!!!!!!

After the 5 brocante marathon yesterday I should have changed my name to simply-shattered but when I looked at my pile of finds this morning it was definately worth it!
Here are just a few of my vintage treasures to be listed this week.............
An antique church banner............

A beautiful old spelter figure of Jeanne D`Arc......Joan of Arc......
Some old enamel plaques...........

Some stunning 19th Century Paris costume pieces.........
A  gorgeous boudoir trinket box....................

So after the weekend and looking at my latest batch of truffling treats I suppose I am simply-shatisfied!!!!

dimanche 25 avril 2010

More from the chateau............

Up at 5.30 this morning and we managed to fit in 5 brocantes that meandered around the streets of Normandie towns and villages! We stopped at noon for moules and frites.......heaven! Summer starts here!!! I found some divine pieces and the kitchen table is piled high with vintage shabby chic treasures ready to list this week. Needless to say I am now in a crumpled heap and my feet are killing me! So a very quick blog with more pictures of the gorgeous chateau from yesterday.



The ceiling in one of the salons is just divine......
Would anyone have noticed if I had slipped that gorgeous mirror and matching console table into my bag?.....................

This chandelier was huge but looked quite small in one of the enormous halls!

This charming group of strolling players were mingling with the crowd. The young man, second from the right, wore an amazing costume that had been made up in 19th century embroidered silk that was probably once a religious vestment. Needless to say I grabbed him to examine the textile closer and much to the amusement of the rest of the group he was mortified as only a teenage boy could be! Poor soul! I have probably traumatised him for life!
Bonsoir and a la prochaine.......................can you hear me snoring from there?

samedi 24 avril 2010

Journee des plantes...................

Was up very early driving into thick fog towards a vide grenier/brocante - and was delighted to truffle out some delicious shabby chic finds! By the time we returned home the fog had cleared and the sun was blazing - perfect for a visit to the  'Journee des plantes'. Once a year a local chateau holds a  plant sale over two days in the grounds. The chateau opens its doors and I always spend a fortune on plants!!!
The chateau grounds were full of visitors and there was so much to see like...... ( click on the pictures to see them larger!)
...a display of quirky moss sculptures.

The chateau looked so beautiful in the sunlight...........

Too much to choose from.....................all so tempting!

But pure delight was a stand of full architectural antiques.Now that did prove expensive to say the least!!! Perhaps it`s a good thing this event is only once a year!!!

vendredi 23 avril 2010

A little bit of heaven..................

Yesterday when I said "The restoration work here is chaos" what I should have said was " Tomorrow, I suspect it will look like an explosion in a mattress factory!".
 Well tomorrow is here - and just look at the state of my 'salle de bain' now. The bath is disconnected so I may have to go and use the trough in the neighbouring farmer's field!

But I can now see it all coming together. The 19th century marble-topped dresser has become a washstand and is such a feminine confection. A bit too " ooooh la la" for Mark - so I suppose he will have to have his own washroom!
And as for the light fitting, very over the top I know but it just had to be done!

Charles, le Baron du Breuil, had had enough of  all the banging, drilling and crashing - preferring a nap in the bath....

And as for me? Well, I am saved; a little bit of heaven! The postman has just arrived with my favourite monthy glossy interiors magazine. I am going to stuff some cotton wool in my ears, hide somewhere where no one can find me and read it from cover to cover!

jeudi 22 avril 2010

The Mad Hatter....................

Renovation. House painting. What renovation; I am in  denial! The house has been jet washed today resulting in a fine film of sand and lime flying in all directions. The cat is wearing it, the windows are wearing it - and so is the car, the kitchen floor and a biscuit I ate a few minutes ago for some reason! Okay so things have to get worse before they get better!
'Le chef' in charge of works is now becoming a little paranoid. As I am so sure of the 'look' that I want he has been calling me outdoors every 10 minutes to look at cracks and small holes to enquire whether he has to leave them or fill them! Poor man!  I am sure he thinks I am some kind of dragon , probably because there is one on the roof!

It has been very sunny here today but the wind across the marsh  hits the house directly. It's a freezing wind that feels as if it is cutting your face - similar to the Mistral in Provence. I have been keeping the workforce full of hot coffee and gateaux just in case they should freeze and stop work! Okay....so I am also a selfish dragon! But once you get a French workforce in place you will do anything to keep them on site!

Someone knocked the cuisine door to tell me in broken English that part my bush would have to be cut away, said bush being my pride and joy of the bay tree by the kitchen window. The joke I made (about not having my bush bandied about willy nilly!!) was lost on French ears ( perhaps,fortunately, as it`s not good to be smutty as well as a dragon?) The rest of the bush will need to be pulled away from the wall and tethered with ropes. Visions of the cat climbing it and a catapult come to mind!

So , although still in denial.....tell me. This hat.....a divine 1940s Paris confection of silk velvet and silk ribbon. How should it have been worn? The lady who found it for me was adamant it should be worn high on the top of the head towards the back but it just seems so bizarre! Perhaps with a 40s hairstyle and a roll of curls high at the front of the head it might have worked. What do you think?

I might wear it all day tomorrow just to shock the builders!

mercredi 21 avril 2010

A new coat for Spring.............................

As the weather is fine work has started early on the repainting of our tiny chateau. This place is such a wonderful little treasure hidden here on the Normandie marshes. It was built in 1838 as a hunting lodge for the Lord of the manor whilst his servants and hunting staff lived in the now crumbling buildings around the courtyard.

 It was built in the grounds of a much larger ancient chateau which has now long gone and all that remains is our little mignon. I adore the old zinc chateau emblem girouette on the roof....a dragons head and we call him George!

The day we signed for the house the notaire gave us the keys telling me I am now the new chatelaine of the chateau which was quite scary!  I have since been very conscious that we have to restore as sympathetically as possible and try to keep it all as original as possible as I feel responsible for the old girl......yes definately a female!  We have tried to replace old with old and as brocanting is my passion that hasn`t been too tough!!!

So the dilemma has been the exterior which hasn`t seen any paint for over 60 years. There is a practise in Normandie to reveal the old stone below and to point the gaps all very tidily. But that is so wrong for the old girl even though the old stone below looks beautiful. She should have the crepi" covering. Then we had to find someone who would be gentle with her and not blast off all the old crepi then replace it with a perfectly smooth finish like a new house. We have found a superb monsieur who is working with old lime fillings and understands just what she should look like, tidier but still old and full of charcter. I have told him to treat her like a lady!
SO the next dilemma was what colour? We have sat and pondered the old girl from all angles...........

And we have finally decided on very pale French grey with white window frames and white shutters.
But then on the other side to the photograph above is a matching door with wonderful old iron balustrades......do we do the doors and ironwork white too or will that be too much?
SO whilst we await the delivery of the scaffolding she is getting a jet wash and the lower damage filled with a lime and sand mix.

It`s too late to change my mind on the colour now as the special paint is ordered and is on the way. I just hope we do the old girl justice!
I will keep you posted and if I have made a mistake can I come and live with you please?

mardi 20 avril 2010

Beware....man-eater on the loose !!

A really busy day today! The sun was shining,  there was no breeze across the marsh and the garden was really inviting - but it was  to be a whole morning spent packaging up my Ebay parcels ready to take to 'La Poste' after lunch. Despite living here for nearly six years I still find the traditional French two-hour lunch gap a tad inconvenient!  Packaging was finished by 12 noon but then we had to wait for things to start moving again. Everything closes for the long lunch break except the Patisserie of course which is always available!

So, we were ready and waiting outside La Poste with our bag of parcels at 2 o`clock sharp - and then it was off to visit a whole host of builders merchants and tool hire companies in preparartion  for next Tuesday.

 I am SO excited because we will starting work on the exterior of our petit chateau that day and  the walls will get their first coat of paint in 60 years! After changing our minds constantly we settled on a pale ash grey colour, leaving the windows and shutters white,;  hopefully a classy choice!

The tall chimneys on the house are so tall that we have had to hire scaffolding which is high enough to get the work done whilst at the same time ensuring that our workforce remains safe and secure. I am praying that the weather will  be dry and calm as rain and gusts of wind will put a stop to the work and we will have then hired equipment for nothing.

As you will see below we came across a very rare man-eating digger on the loose in a car park at one of the builders yards visited today - a digger which we decided not to hire in the circumstances!!

lundi 19 avril 2010

Les marronniers................

I simply adore this old house in a local town that is being restored................
It has a gorgeous "marquise" above the door...something I am desperate to find for out tiny chateau.....

I love the old stone that was used to build it all those years ago. Each stone is a different size giving it a quirky higgledy piggledy kind of look. The old coach house attached is so pretty.

Its quite a grand house with the original stone pillars with their cast iron urn tops still in place. The old enamel sign is still on one of the pillars...........


The chestnut trees.............I wonder if the chestnut trees are still in the gardens...............