Monsier 'le builder' has his father, Bertrand, with him this week. A tiny little man but who is as strong as an ox and has a cheeky smile with sparkling eyes. It`s a little like having a hobbit skipping around the place!
Before he retired Bertrand was a master woodworker and cabinet maker who specialised in hand-making spiral staircases in the finest wood with traditional tools. From the moment he arrived he has become increasingly excited by the whole project at the chateau. Every morning he arrives with some new ideas about what he could lovingly craft for the place. As we share our morning 'cafe' he waves his arms around excitedly explaining his latest wheeze in babbling patois country French and broken English! He makes me squeal with laughter as he is like a little boy going on a school trip!
So far in his mind he has covered the whole place in 18th century panelling , crafted a few archways, added staircases and carved beams!
A couple of days ago he was so excited about wanting to make a stair rail and bannister for the new steps that I thought he would burst right there and then on the spot. I tried to explain that I simply cannot do a "NEW" wooden rail no matter how wonderfully hand-crafted it would look. But, as he walked away still waving his arms and plotting, I feared he might just carry on and make one at home -and then turn up with it as a surprise. How would I get out of that one without hurting his feelings?
I was saved, however, whilst making a trip to a local brocante where I spotted, almost hidden from view amongst a pile of old metal gates and railings, a divine 19th century cast iron " rampe d`escalier". I swiftly brought it home to see if it would fit ( or, failing that, if Bertrand and his son could "make" it fit!!).
I am saved!! It looks wonderful and this morning even Bertrand had to agree it looks as if it has always been here and it excited him enough to want to fit it immediately.
Our builder is making a wonderful job of placing the old stone either side of the doorway to the cuisine and, again, it looks as if it has been there for centuries. So you know that saying about not putting the cart before the horse? Well, we appear to have put the rail before the steps!! But why not, I say!
Talking of horses, I saw in a different brocante yesterday a small set of antique pony driving harness. Definately 19th century; stunning heavy, old black leather, but the decoration.....................oh my goodness! The blinkers had silver metal intricate scrolled monograms pressed into the leather and on either side of the cheek pieces were old silvered medallions with the same monograms. Who would be so decadent as to monogram their harness? It was very battered and I didn`t buy it. But now, I'm having second thoughts; perhaps I should go back and do so. Sometimes such unusual items just stick in my mind and refuse to go away. Perhaps I should just buy it to get my hands on the monogrammed medallions?
Bon weekend, mes belles!