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samedi 31 juillet 2010

A little bit of treasure on the beach!

Up early this morning for a brocante on the beach! When we set off at 5.30am it was calm, humid but very dull. As we arrived at the beach we could see a host of small fishing boats having quite a rough time on the choppy sea , the wind was lashing and then the rain started! How inconsiderate?!!! It can rain after I have truffled for treasures merci!

But lots of hardy and very windblown brocanteurs had already set up so we ignored the rain and set off! I am so glad we did because I instantly found a whole batch of 1950s dresses mostly unworn and I would have been quite happy with just having found those considering the weather but then I saw a face I recognised just unloading his old battered van.

Once a year Guillaume who lives in Paris comes to his family holiday cottage by the sea for his August break. In Paris he works hard as a house and factory clearance service and saves any old items he finds to take a stall at the beach brocante. I met him many years ago at the same brocante when he had a delicious Edwardian bathing tent for sale and we had both become trapped inside copious folds of striped canvas as we tried to see if all the poles were intact! I remember he called me the "mad English lady"!

 I was a little sad after perusing his boxes that there didn`t seem to be anything for me this year, but then Guillaume recognised my face and after the obligatory four kisses on the cheeks called me to the back of the van.

 He told me that he had cleaned out an old printing factory ready for a renovation and as well as all the huge machinery he had found some wonderful old advertising pieces still boxed. Some of the larger and more important pieces he had placed in a Paris auction but many of the small items he had kept for the stand.  He produced a box of exquisite petite advertising purse mirrors and said he thought I would like them. Like them? I bought the lot there and then and then gave him two more kisses as I was so delighted!


Exit one delighted "mad English lady" leaving behind one very bemused brocanteur with quite a glint in his eye!!!
I am listing some of them in my auctions later today. Rain? what rain?!!!

A la prochaine......................

jeudi 29 juillet 2010

The mouse sized Mairie.................

Every town and village in France has its mayor, who in turn works from his/her 'mairie', or town hall. Even a small hamlet consisting of a few houses  has a mairie. The towns tend to have large, impressive flag-bedecked buildings - but here, in our small Normandie villages, we have divine little treasures.
This one is so cute and adjacent to it is the old lavoir where the women of the village would have knelt to wash their laundry every day, summer or winter, in days gone by.

I wonder if this one in a neighbouring village was was built by the same monsieur?

Just a few kilometres away and this one is slightly little larger and also has the 'tricolour' flying!

Last but not least this is our own Mairie. Tiny as it is there is the most amazing 19th century white marble fireplace inside! It is open for business every Tuesday afternoon and everyone is greeted with a kiss on each cheek by our charming lady Mayoress - before getting down to business, perhaps to hand in a new 'planning application' form or ask for a hunting licence.



I love the gentle slow pace of life here and the timeless traditions. But  more so I love that wonderful white marble fireplace!  I have just the right spot for in in our renovation project.
After all it would be staying in the village!!! So....... how do I get my hands on it?

Plan A......buy a tiara and run for Mayoress.
Plan B......get Mark to propose to the Mayoress.
Plan C......tunnel underneath the building at the dead of night and hope it falls into the tunnel.
Plan D........haven`t thought of that one yet....suggestions welcome!

mercredi 28 juillet 2010

No paparazzi please.......................

Talk to the paw `cos the face don`t wanna hear it..................................
I`m not sleeping..........................

but just lying here in the sun......thinking...............

.
about catching mice.......................

whilst at the same time, watching these amazing clouds pass by..........





It`s tough being Le Baron du Breuil.................................

lundi 26 juillet 2010

Flower pot?

Walked down to the end of the garden and crossed the stream onto the marsh..............................

Managed to get past hundreds of leaping bright green frogs without squashing any who took refuge in the amazing tiny white flowers that seem to have sprung up in the night................

I wanted to take a look at the large chimney on the left side of the chateau. We paid a small fortune to the only monsieur we could find with a long enough ladder to reach our tall pointed roof.......

We paid him the equivalent of a small armoire to climb the tiles to remove all of the plants growing from the chimney!!! I think he needs to come back!!!

Yesterday the brocante was simply divine. One of those days when you simply fall over treasures one after another. I absolutely adore this huge old hand blown glass jar filled with fluffy artichoke seeds and feathers

I`m going to keep it for a while before I list it.................my excuse is that it would be a nightmare to post.

The seeds catch the light and give a wonderful amber glow. I wonder who took the time to collect each one and place them so lovingly in that thick wavy glass?


a la prochaine mes belles.....................

vendredi 23 juillet 2010

Brocantitis!!!!

As you will see from the reply to yesterdays blog I appear to have a very bad case of BROCANTITIS..................................




Dear Shirley
It is not madness or indeed old age, it is in fact Brocantitis. A little known disease discovered by Dr.Herbert dim. With very little warning it hits antique dealers after around 25 years of trading, and is particularly virulent after several years of selling on ebay. Dr.Dims paper published by the G.M.C in 1971, symptomizes the truffling in old dowry chests filled with vintage French fabrics, delving into boxes of ormolu bronze fittings and grabbing Gustavian grey pediments often distressed with the passing of time. He goes on to warn of the dire consequences of haberdashering, the collecting of passementerie, buttons, trims and lace. Dim claims this all confuses the brain and eventually forces a shutdown, unless, while there is still a glimmer of hope, a period of abstinence from buying is enforced and a holiday taken for at least two weeks.

If there is no cure other than missing the brocantes then I am afraid I will have to suffer it and if it is infectious then I may be a " carrier" !!!!
 
But just look at this divine 19th century silk and organza corset........................

If this is the results of brocantitis then I`ll keep it .....merci!!!

jeudi 22 juillet 2010

Whoops.....................pyjamas are compulsory.............

Thats it.....I have definitely now been living here long enough to be losing control of the English language! Sometimes I simply cannot remember the English word I need and can only remember the French instead. Whilst in the UK last week I wanted to say something was not compulsory but hard as I tried could only remember the French equivalent of "Obligatoire" which seems to flow off the tongue more easily!

When I do remember the English words they are the wrong ones. Today in the supermarche I asked Mark in the fruit and vegetable section to get me a bunch of pyjamas. He must also be losing the plot because he did in fact come back with bananas and last week he told me it was so hot he was going to go "berlingo" under his shorts.......he actually meant commando!

 Heaven knows what I`ll be like when I do finally lose the plot ! My grandmother was quite early to lose her memory which was so difficult as she lived to a grand old age of 96! My mother was even younger , was totally unaware and was as happy as a lark! She would have eaten ice cream cones all day if we had let her as she couldn`t remember how many she had already scoffed!!! One morning we took her fishing to a carp lake in Dorset , sat her down with a rod and a picnic and she caught the hugest carp you have ever seen that put all us other anglers to shame!!! Later that night we asked if she was proud of her catch to which she replied "what fish?.....I have never been fishing in my life"!!!!!

What worries me is that I may already have gone and do not know I have gone , I may be bizarre already and everyone is afraid to tell me!!!!  Show me the ice creams I say!



But my purchase of this divine cherub at an early morning brocante was not an act of madness. I was delighted when I found him and due to his condition and old glass eyes I paid quite a large sum for my treasure.


 A little later and a few stands further along I saw another and then as the day progressed a larger one and then an even larger one! So, he is the latest reproduction to hit the market and any antique dealer that tells you they never make mistakes is telling a huge one! After 25 years of dealing in decorative antiques I am still gullible!!! Fortunately I love him but it is a good kick up the derriere to remind me to be very careful.

Until tomorrow............or is that until tomato?

mercredi 21 juillet 2010

25 years just washed away in an instant......................

I`ve had my two stone pigs for 25 years. They have moved with me to each new house we bought in the UK and finally crossed the channel with us 5 years ago. It has taken 25 years for the stone to weather and age to a wonderful mottled grey and I am very proud of them. Or perhaps that should be  I "was" proud of them!

We have had someone doing a little building work here and he rushed into the kitchen to say he was finished and was overjoyed to tell me had had managed to clean up one of my pigs like new with his pressure wash hose. He asked if I would like to just nip outside to see the difference between the dirty pig and the clean one.............................................



I wonder if I would be arrested for jet washing someone to within an inch of their life? Tempting...................soooooooooooooooo tempting!!!!!

mardi 20 juillet 2010

Bonjour mes belles......................................

Bonjour mes belles! I am now back at home yet my feet have hardly touched the ground since I arrived! 
Firstly the mystery chair......and most of you thought it might be a birthing chair and I suppose, in one way or another, that the activities on it might have led to that!!! I happened to be watching a most interesting TV documentary about Queen Victoria's eldest son, Edward [who later became King Edward VII) when the story turned to his extra-marital activities. The story goes that this chair was specially commissioned by Prince Bertie (as he was known) as a love seat to be placed in his favourite Paris brothel so that he could enjoy the delights of more than one mademoiselle at a time!  Here is a link giving the Prince's shinannigins in more detail..................

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1259670/A-love-seat-fit-king-The-antique-chair-gives-eye-popping-insight-Edward-VIIs-debauched-youth.html



And now on a more innocent note, and the most important news of all. Here is our new darling grand-daughter, Jessica Elizabeth, born last week and just two days old in the picture.

Yes......... of course I cried!!!! She is just so beautiful.

We arrived home late on Friday and went straight into making preparations for my birthday garden party the following day.
 This year's theme was the 'Mad Hatters Tea Party' - but we changed "tea" to "aperitif" party as I am sure our friends ( knowing them as well as I do!!) would not have been happy with just tea! The only rule of entry was that everyone had to  wear a mad hat, and heavens did we get some amazing creations!

Diggers was on 'meet and greet' duty as usual at the gate wearing his bright red bow tie. That dog certainly knows how to work a party. He spent the night standing next to whoever was eating, looking at them with sad eyes doing the guilt thing. He ate so many 'hand-downs' that I thought he would explode!!!
 At one point I saw him cross the garden with a huge piece of garlic breaded chicken and start to bury it on the other side! As he was a rescued dog I think that the fear of starvation has never left him and he has to stockpile provisions just in case he should ever go hungry again. Judging by the size of his derriere I don`t think that`s likely...do you?


 The weather was good to us and we had a wonderful long, relaxing evening in the company of our many good friends. We stayed up so late in fact that we didn`t clear up after the party at all but went straight to bed.
And so to the next morning,Sunday, which was an early start as normal. Ignoring the chaos of glasses and plates still scattered on the table under the marquee we set off brocanting.
We found more gorgeous treasures which I shall be listing over the coming weeks, then came home pretty well shattered due to the heat of the morning only to face the cleaning up. By then I really wished we had cleaned up the night before!!!!
So now I am trying to catch up with packaging parcels, photographing  and listing my latest finds whilst, at the same time, answering all my emails.
On reflection, I wouldn`t have it any other way!!!

mercredi 14 juillet 2010

A new arrival.........................

Off to the Uk for a short dash to see our new grand-daughter Jessica Elizabeth who was born on the 12th July. We did try to arrange her arrival for the 13th on my birthday but she just couldn`t wait!!! I`m looking forward to taking some pictures for the blog!
Whilst I am away I will leave you with a guessing game......................................


What was this extravagant chair used for?

mardi 13 juillet 2010

50................ish........!!!!!

Just one of the messages I received this morning.........................




Happy birthday to you ....happy birthday to you..... happy birthday dear muppet ,lush.hussy tarte face Shirley.....................HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!!!!

What can I say?...............she knows me too well!!!!

dimanche 11 juillet 2010

Sunday treasures..............

Had a wonderful day brocanting, even though there was a little fine rain at times. I simply had to show you this gorgeous old menu card I found this morning.....................


It has never been used so sadly we will never know what special event it was printed for. I am definitely going to photocopy it to use at one of our own dinner parties!
I have some divine old treasures to list this week !

samedi 10 juillet 2010

Time........................





Had a wonderful, lazy day yesterday at the beach. I deliberately left my watch at home - and it was wonderful not to be keeping an eye on the time or watching my email inbox! The beach was completely deserted to the left....................

and to the right.........................

 The sun was scorching hot but there was also a very gentle breeze blowing in off the sea. Perfect! We enjoyed a delicious 'pique-nique' before laying back on the sand to read a little, snooze a little - and then gather a few seashells!!!

vendredi 9 juillet 2010

On one shoulder..............

Still here sitting at the old patisserie counter in the cuisine......

Angel on one shoulder saying....you need to get that attic done today!!!

Little red devil on the other.....beach.....white sand.....picnic...good book!!!

But then..........

Mark has just read my last blog and said "But sweetheart.....we don`t need to paint it today!"..........................................guess what...........................

Good intentions.........................perhaps not!

I have been planning all week to leave today free to start painting the newly plastered attic bedroom -ooooooooooooooooh - but.................. the sun is blazing down here and the swallows are swooping around the garden.

It really does need to be done because Tartlette lands in Paris from Oregon next week and although she is planning to visit Provence she may just get on the train and come and stay for a day or so -ooooooooohhhhhhhh - but ................the beach is very close  and those long,  flat pale golden sand beaches are always empty ....and we have a new picnic basket!

I am going to paint the walls  creamy vintage white to make it as light as possible. I have the paint and brushes ready but................ it will be very hot up there in the pointed roof of our little dolls house chateau.

Today IS the day to do it before the weekend brocantes start tomorrow - but.......... that missing bat I know is still in the house somewhere and may be hiding up there waiting for me.

If it was raining there would be no question .....I`d be up there now painting away but..................the winter has been so long and hard  that the summer sunshine is  precious - and I feel guilty for not making the most of it. What if it starts to rain tomorrow and the rest of the summer is cold and rain lashed?

I`ll get started and then get into the swing of it but  I know that if someone visits for coffee today then whatever I start will be over  - and then I will be forced to sit out in the wonderful sunshine with guests with a long cool drink (that's a tough one) but.......... then my brush will go hard.

I need more excuses....please help!!!!

jeudi 8 juillet 2010

Flying school begins...............................

Monsieur and Madam Swallow have used the cellar under our petite chateau to raise their brood again this year. The nest was full to bursting with hungry little beaks...................

They have worked tirelessly to keep them all fed until they were large enough to leave the nest........

and even then the never ending feeding continued...............but now flying school has started in earnest ready for the long journey back to hotter weather at the end of the summer................

Monsieur and Madame S wait patiently on the phone wires for their brood to join them tentatively one by one.......

Monsieur Swallow then takes them one at a time for a lap around the garden whilst Madame Swallow takes care of the brood. Some are already wonderful flyers and can zip twist and turn and some are a little slow.....especially the one that continues to enter via the cuisine door on his way back to the phone wire!
I shall miss them so much when they all line up ready to leave.......that means winter will follow!

mercredi 7 juillet 2010

A little Paris romance................

Blissfully unaware of the romance behind him the street seller leans on his old cart and smokes his Gitaine!





I found this wonderful old photograph at a brocante recently. It must be Paris in the 1940s....there is even a highly coiffed poodle!!!
That dress..... corsage...those shoes....those gloves and tumbling curls................no wonder he has given her a posy bouquet and is planting a huge bizou on her cheek!
I wonder if they stayed together?

lundi 5 juillet 2010

I can`t......I just can`t!

I can`t resist an old French corsage flower...............................I HAVE to have them and then can`t bear to sell them!!!

Silk, velvet or organza....................I cannot resist them..........foxed, worn, crumpled or half moth eaten......it really doesn`t matter!! soft pinks I adore.... and if they still have their old Paris labels then so much the better.

I wear them, use them in my photographs, display them and then hide them away in my textile boxes. But sell them?........I can`t, I just can`t!!!
What is it that you can`t bear to part with?

dimanche 4 juillet 2010

A stunning batch of reliquary hearts.............

This is what I found yesterday that made me absolutely delighted........................

Tucked away on a table in the corner of the brocante.....a batch of stunning 19th century reliquary heart lockets in amazing condition..............

Each one opens to reveal a little chamber where a hand written prayer would have been placed.............

The bejewelled one is an amazing confection and has started to verdi gris with age..............

Each has a small hanging ring at the back for wall hanging or a chain, the smaller ones are very wearable as a locket pendant. They would also make stunning picture hangers if used with a ribbon.

Finding just one is amazing but to find six in simply incredible! The lady who had set up her stand had nothing else old at all.....nothing.....not even a book or two. It was all modern and shiny. I bought them without haggling ( yes..... now you know I was in shock!!) and walked calmly away. Then I went around the nearest corner did 17 somersaults, three cartwheels, a full olympic gymnastic floor display with ribbons and sang the French national anthem!
When it happens like this I always want to quiz the seller......where have they come from?.......................where have they been for all these years to be in such wonderful condition?......who owned them? But, it`s not always a good thing to ask as too much excitement can make a seller change their mind and decide to keep them. Then I would have been totally desolate as seeing them and then having them taken away would have been torture. That happened to me years ago when I was asking a man about a very pretty piece of toile he was just about to sell me, his wife stood and listened to my questions, took it from him, put it back in the car and said she had decided to keep it!

I shall keep one for myself and list the others in my auctions this week.

samedi 3 juillet 2010

Samedi matin............brocante!!!!

Up at 5.30am for a wonderful brocante on a village square.....it was fairly busy even at that time of the morning.....................
I found something SO divine it made my day, my weekend and my week! I will keep you guessing until tomorrow when I can photograph them for you!!

Right at the centre of the brocante was Monsieur Saussison himself!!!! His stock not as old as most of the stands but very well cured instead!!

See anything you want?

After cafe and croissants....of course my favourite Croissant armande...we left for home but found ourselves crawling along at a snail pace behind a typical beret clad monsieur on his bicyclette...........

But I must say "merci" to him because if we hadn`t have been moving so slowly we wouldn`t have spotted this sign outside a small old house for a house clearance........

The charming couple were selling the house left to them by an old relative and had opened the doors and everything inside had a price tag! I always find it such a giggle wandering from room to room around someone else`s house when even the toilet roll holder has a price tag!!
We finished off the morning with a visit to one of my favourite shops...................
Oh how I would love that old car!!!

Madame who owns this superb shop inherited the business from her father who had inherited it from his father - so antiques are a long tradition in their family. She had saved me a couple of delicious morceaux of 19th century textile and I found a couple more treasures in their courtyard store at the back of the shop.
Same again tomorrow? Please be up and ready by 5am!!