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samedi 31 mars 2012

Light the fire monsieur...............



Has the world gone mad or is it me? Two words to sum up today..............gullible and bizarre.

Just after we had got out of bed and sat in the cuisine having a cafe there was a loud knock at the door. A very stocky , muscle bound man stood there and said he was collecting funds for the circus. Quoi? Did I hear correctly? "Oh oui Madam!". He barged in and began his speech.

He went on to say that he was fund raising for the local circus. Throughout winter and Spring the circus can`t  perform but they have to continue to pay to vaccinate and feed the animals so he was in the region raising funds.

Right..................okay.................he then pulled from his pocket a tin of boiled sweets. The type we see in the supermarche here for 3 euros and said that they were a special edition tin. He would charge 40 euros for it and the funds would feed the animals.

Firstly had he known my feelings about captive wild animals and forcing animals to perform he perhaps would not have come to our door. Secondly....even if that tin was a collectable why would I want one?!! Thirdly, if I did want one I would buy one in the supermarche!!

We conversed a little in our best French and told him we didn`t want his tin but to get him out of the house we gave him a 10 euro donation "for the animals" and showed him the door. As he left he gave me a battered postcard of a performing horse ( no circus name or anything official to be seen) and off he went.

Had he visited the other houses in the village? Had he just called to the remotest house he could find to chance his luck? Did he just think that the "Anglaise" at Le petit Chateau would be a soft touch or was he genuinely from the circus and this is the done thing here in France?

Oh well, I might have fed a lion or on the other hand I might have bought him a few glasses of Bordeaux in the local bar .... the man that is...not the lion!!

As he left with my 10 euros in his hand I thought perhaps I should get GULLIBLE tattoed on my forehead?


And so the day continues. We visited the local supermarche ( not for a tin of boiled sweets I might add!) and on the private announcements at the exit was a photograph of an old shop fitting with lots of drawers for sale. No price was quoted just a telephone number.


 The drawers would have been good for my new office and I thought that at 200 or so euros they would have been a good buy. It looked a little battered but with a coat of Gustavian grey paint it would have worked.

We telephoned the number from the card and an old lady answered and knew nothing about any furniture at all. I redialled just incase I had pressed a wrong number but no, the same lady who knew nothing!  We went to the local brasserie for a cafe and as we left Mark tried the number and an old man answered who knew all about the furniture for sale ( apparently he had not told his wife!!) and we arranged to visit on the way home.

We were met by a tiny little man who told us he had been an upholsterer before he retired some 20 years ago and he is now 85 years old. The drawers were in his garage where he had stored his tools and he led the way.

 I must say that the photograph was wonderful because the drawers most certainly were not!! They had been hand made very solidly about 50 years ago by someone who did not possess a measure and it was very higgeldy piggeldy and filled with woodworm.

I asked the price and monsieur said "2000 euros or I will burn it! "

 We made our excuses and left.

Light the fire monsieur...............light the fire!!!!



Brocantes tomorrow...hopefully a more normal day too!!

A la prochaine mes belles!!

vendredi 30 mars 2012

Let the jigsaw commence!!


We have been pondering for some time about what flooring we should use in the new extension to our tiny chateau. It has to be in keeping but still needs to be serviceable and stylish.

I saw some wonderful old reclaimed floorboards that were so expensive that had we bought them we would have been sitting on deckchairs for the next 20 years....we would have had the floor but nothing else!!!

But our problem has been solved and it a very unexpected way! I recently met a wonderful couple when they bought a magnificent period toile panel from me for their home. As they were so local we decided to deliver it and had quite a shock when we arrived. A long winding driveway.....

that went of forever!!

Finally we reached their home.................


An amazing chateau that makes our tiny chateau seem like a ch......... or in fact a Shhhhhhhhhhhh.....!!!!

We stayed for coffee and had a tour of their home which is totally breathtaking.  We reached their tiny private chapel hidden away in the woods that is currently being restored.





Stained glass windows with crowns....does it get any better than that?!!

The flooring being used is the most divine antique mahogony parquet. The colour is warm and rich and it looks perfect.....





We were told that they had bought a huge amount of this flooring many years ago. They had put what they would need for the chapel in the building immediately with the excess blocks being stored in an old barn. Two years ago when the heavy snows arrived here in Normandie the old barn roof had collapsed  and they hadn`t really tried  to get in there since.  They said that if we could dig it out they would be very happy to sell it to us.

So yesterday in the brilliant sunshine we approached the tumbledown barn with its mangled roof hoping that we could save the parquet. We were amazed to find it still on the pallets but it was very well buried!

The digger went in to lift the roof and we nervously teetered inside to take a first peek..............amazing each pallet was still wrapped and safe!!




We managed to drag them out and just got them lifted into the van as the pallets below crumbled.

We arrived home with a van brimming with wonderful flooring and spent the next few hours moving it by hand and stacking it ready for use.

Anyone good at jigsaw puzzles?

Have a wonderful weekend mes belles!

lundi 26 mars 2012

Delicieux finds and a grand amour.....




This weekends brocantes were wonderful and I came home laden with treasures.

A beatiful old album or journal that had never been used but was a cherished keepsake packed away in old tissue paper. Each page has a beautiful cherub vignette .....








 Old advertising match strikers that would have sat on the bar of a cafe brasserie...............





Adorable nursery wallpapers from the 1920s...



At the bottom of an old box under someones stand I truffled out a batch of old handwritten letters from the 1940s. I initially bought them because I adore the old sepia ink and the Republique Francais stamps.
When I got home and looked through them each one had a letter still tucked inside...........



I sat enthralled as I read them. All dated in the 1940s and all from Marcel to his petite femme Germaine.....





A touching batch of letters from a couple who were separated perhaps still from the war. All signed with tender kisses and warm embraces. I felt a little guilty entering their private world.



I wonder if they were reunited?

A demain mes belles.

samedi 24 mars 2012

Petite usine de gaz.......................



This morning I was mortified in our favourite brasserie cafe bar and here is the reason why!

The weather here is glorious and after all my health "hoo hars" I am now feeling wonderful and Mark and I have started walking again each morning with Sir Digbert happily skipping in front.

I have to get fit as when Mademoiselle Tartelette arrives in a month or so we are travelling to a wonderful brocante that continues for a whole weekend with thousands of stands that  run for 5 kilometres.

 This is how it goes....at dawn you run the stands trying to catch the early treasures as they are unpacked. Then you speed walk the whole length back to see what was unpacked after you had passed on the way up!

Then you walk it again taking your time to search properly and walk it back doing the same. You then either collapse in a heap or like me be an idiot and crawl it on hands and knees again in case you have missed anything and by the time you reach the end wish you hadn`t and demand to be airlifted back to the hotel!

Last year I lay on the hotel bed with two cold wet face towels on my feet unable to move!!

So back to this morning, after our brisk walk through the forest we decided to drive to the nearest small town to collect a baguette and to have a cafe sat out in the morning sunshine to watch the world go by.

We arrived at the cafe to find that everyone had the same idea and the outside tables were full - so we found oursleves a spot inside with Diggers as usual making himself comfy below the table.

At the next table were three very very elegantly dressed madames meeting for cafe, all perfectly haute couture and perfectly coiffed. ( Note to self...must put face on before going to the forest!)

Suddenly the most hideous smell arose from below the table and we realised Sir Digbert was feeling a little windy.

We tried to ignore it but it became SO strong that the faces of the three elegant Madames started to melt and one held her gloved hand over her nose! It got stronger and stronger and it really was EVIL!

Mark quickly marched Digbert back to the car and the three Madames looked accusingly at me! I had to say something so I apologised for Diggers and the ladies broke into hytserics. One said " That`s fine I thought it was my friend here" causing much mirth on their table!

I replied with " Oh ...I thought it was my husband!" and unsuspecting Mark returned to find us all collaped in fits of giggles.

As they gathered their designer bags and tottered out one of them told me that although Sir Digbert is "mignon" he is also a "usine de gaz".........................a gas factory!!!!



Brocantes in the morning mes belles.......early bed and early start...........let me at them!!!

jeudi 22 mars 2012

Amazing old chateau heirlooms with a tinge of sadness...........



A stunning array of treasures all started to be sold by auction in Paris today. All from the beautiful Chateau de Bigoine .

Stunning is not the right word...breathtaking......heart stopping.....beguiling......

Have a leaf through the sales catalogue here..................( give it a little time for each page to load)

https://asp.zone-secure.net/v2/index.jsp?id=2637/5211/22090&lng=fr

136 pages of heaven! 

I didn`t attend, I couldn`t bear the disappointment of not being able to win anything and also the sadness of seeing all those wonderful items scattered around the globe as the international bids flew in by telephone and over the internet.

What would you have liked to take away with you?

mardi 20 mars 2012

No excuses.......chateau silk!

I make no excuses for showing you this delicous 19th century French handworked chateau silk hanging that I have in my Ebay listings!







It is one of the most stunning pieces I have ever found in 28 years of truffling!!

Here is the link

A demain mes belles!!

samedi 17 mars 2012

Scented Saturday.................



It was raining, cold, dark and miserable as I walked around the few brave sellers at the brocante early this morning.

There was not much to see but as I peered in the back of one dealers van my heart lifted when I spotted the battered old pages of a scrapbook that must have been the treasured possession of some mademoiselle in the early 1900s.

Charles Beaudelaire said...............................

''My soul travels on the smell of perfume like the souls of other men on music"

Who needs the perfume Monsieur Beaudelaire?

Just look at the delicous perfume and soap labels that are glued to the battered old pages.............they certainly lift my soul on a rainy day!
















If I had been that Mademoiselle back then I would have bought every one of these bottles and boxes just for the labels alone!!

vendredi 16 mars 2012

Moss.....................what moss?!!!

I have spent the last 2 years painting these stone griffins with natural yoghurt and has the green moss arrived? Has it figgy pudding!!!

 What am I doing wrong?

I was watched very closely by the cows that have arrived back on the marsh now that Spring is with us.


I thought that they might be planning to slap a writ on me for mis-use of milk products!

So what is "de rigeur" this year in cow fashions? A middle parting?


                        ...................  or long sweeping lashes and a Marie Antoinette "bouffant coiff" ??






Have a wonderful weekend mes belles!

mercredi 14 mars 2012

Faded memories...........

I found this wonderful old family photograph album at the brocante....................

I cannot resist old photograph collections. Special days in someones life captured ...full of silent memories. I always think it is quite poignant that those memories should end up for sale.

The old photographs all date from the late 1800s and run through to the early 1900s. Over 100  in all and such a wonderful glimpse of a more elegant era.

Just a few of my favourites............











I have listed the album in my auctions today. I so hope it finds a good home!

Bonsoir mes belles.......