mardi 31 août 2010

Update on Charles le Baron du Breuil...............

Charles seems a little brighter today. When I awoke this morning he was beside me curled up on the bed purring away. After a dish of tuna he hopped across to the cuisine door and disappeared out into the sunshine........................
I stood and watched him go, he is still quite tentative and has the injured leg drawn tight up to his side to protect it. I went outside to photograph a 19th century cashmere Paisley and he soon appeared to help as he usually does......................

.....did I say help?.......I should have said hindered!!!

I hope he is on the mend!

lundi 30 août 2010

Poor Charles le Baron du Breuil....................

My day has been over taken by Charles who has ended up at the vets yet again.  He is not even one year old and he has already been through so much. When he had to have his paw amputated the vet told me he would take the whole leg from the hip. But when we collected him he had only taken the paw itself leaving the leg long.............

Although the paw is gone he manages very very well and is so agile. But as the leg is long he has tended to lean over and put it to the ground for balance which means that frequently it is raw on the end. When he remembers he withdraws it like a telescope but sometimes in play or climbing he forgets and knocks and scrapes it.
Over the last few days I have noticed he is getting quite sore again and then all through the night and this morning he was scowling in pain everytime he sat down or rolled over. It is terrible to see him in distress and I assumed it had finally become infected.
So it was off to the vets pronto and I was fully expecting that they would decide to operate again and remove the rest of the leg.
But no, they say that there is no infection as it is not swollen and (after a major scuffle in which Mark got most of the claw marks!) they have given him a pain killing injection and have sent us away with pain killing tablets for him. If there is no improvement we have to go back on Thursday and they will operate to see what is going on in there.
As soon as we got home he ate some fresh fish and went off into the garden. He has just arrived at the cuisine door with a mouse he has caught and is looking quite lively. He always comes in at night to sleep so I will be able to see better what is going on with him later.
I will keep you posted................

dimanche 29 août 2010

I`m going to live in a 'pavillon'!!

Our tiny chateau overlooks the Cotentin marsh, a large nature park that is brimming with birds and all kinds of wildlife. As the seasons change it is like living in two totally different places. In winter the marsh floods, the water reaching almost to the bottom of our garden;  it is like having a house by the sea as the winds howl across and lash the trees. Most days some hunters cross the marsh by boat and, as much as I hate it, hunting is a big part of Normandie life - and if I want to live here then it is part and parcel of what goes on and I have to accept it. Sometimes, very late at night, they cross the marsh and do not return until the next morning, often filled with a glass or two of Calvados - which can be quite a giggle as it  sometimes results in one of the hunters falling face down in the water as they get out of their small boats!

 In the summer, the change is amazing;  totally tranquil with nothing but luscious grass swaying in the warm breeze. We watch storks building their nests, herons, egrets, swans, hosts of frogs and there are various other slithery critters which I know are there but perhaps I would rather not see!!! The hunting season is closed at this time and the only people to drive down our lane to our house is the La Poste van and our visitors.

But the last few months has seen a hive of activity with tractors, four wheel drive vehicles, diggers and vans all passing our gateway on to the marsh. We have been able to see the vehicles all parked up in the distance but had no idea what was going on.

Yesterday I asked Gerard, one of the hunters,  what was happening and he told me they were renovating their "pavillon"  or hunting 'hide'. He said he would collect me and give me a tour of the hide.  We had no idea that a 'hide' had been built as the land is quite flat and no buildings could be seen, but it did explain where the hunters were when they stayed overnight in the winter. I have walked the marshes so often I thought I knew it all quite well so why hadn`t I seen it?

A few hours later I was in the garden with a bucket of hot soapy water washing down some old enamels I had bought when a large all-terrain vehicle with a row of flashlights on the roof stopped at our gate  -  and so our tour began!  I can understand why Gerard needs the four wheel drive;  my head hit the roof a few times as he sped along over the rough ground oblivious to my fear. I almost wished I had taken the bucket to wear as a crash hat!!!

He stopped in the middle of the marsh and all that was visible was a tiny metal trap door covered in  astro turf. As he unlocked the hatch I had visions of old war time air raid shelters and wished I had worn something to protect me from cobwebs and spiders. But I could not have been more wrong. We stepped down into the most luxurious, light underground apartment you have ever seen!!!! Electricity, a new fitted kitchen with an electric hob and extractor fan, a dining table set for six, electric heating and a separate chamber with six plump bunks! It is no wonder so many men disappear onto the marsh at night!!

Sometimes when the renovations here get me down and I feel the need to escape to a little less noise and dust I might just wander over there and warn a few ducks that the hunters are on their way. I might not be the " plat du jour" with the hunters - but I may save a few ducks from becoming just that!
The brocantes this morning were a little threadbare but still some divine trouvailles. I will photograph the hoard in the morning but above is my favourite find of the day................ooooooooooooooh la la!
A demain mes belles.................

samedi 28 août 2010

Sometimes you just have to hoard a little.................

This is the boulangerie clock I found a couple of weeks ago that I just cannot bear to sell. Deliciously timeworn as it had sat in the same old shop for many many years. It only has one hand but the look is divine and absolutely unique. It has ticked away from the minute I hung it on the old shutters in the cuisine. I will find another hand  and a key!!
This is another divine little treasure that I have to add to my collection. Last week at the brocante, a house clearer that I know well told me he had something for me that was beautiful but broken. I went with him to his van expecting something "shot to pieces" - but out of the newspaper came this 19th century candle lamp. The glass is broken but who cares?!!!

I think perhaps someone put a candle too high against the glass and caused it to crack. But like may of the treasures I have truffled out over the years it is timeworn and well loved. I think many a brocanteuse like me must have a home filled with cracked, chipped and damaged pieces that they all love too.
I will let you know what I find early tomorrow. There is a 300 stand local vide grenier and I just hope the rain holds off.
A la prochaine mes belles.........................

mercredi 25 août 2010

Pere Noel arrives in August..........................

I awoke this morning to find that the French father Christmas "Pere Noel" had arrived and had left me three cows in the garden! They had somehow managed to leave the marsh and find their way onto the lawn. At first I thought they must be the special Normandie catapulting cows who can leap over hedges or perhaps they were part of the Olympic French cow vaulting team. Then I saw that someone had left the marsh gates open, all of the cows had entered the lane and  three had wandered up our driveway! They stayed there quite happily until the farmer and his dog came to herd them away!
But then the yellow La Poste van arrived amid the chaos with two huge parcels for me.

 I had no idea what they were as I wasn`t expecting anything. I thought that Charles le Baron du Breuil had been up to his tricks internet shopping again.........................
But dear friend Tartelette had sent me some special treasures..... just for me........Pere Noel had most definately arrived............

Two boxes brimming with divine trouvailles..........

And thats just a snippet of the treasures that lay within! At the bottom of the box was the most amazing Rachael Ashwell bathmat with a crown...I forbid anyone to stand on it!!! As for the three blouses she had chosen for me....wooooooooooooo .....she knows me too well...divine just divine!!!!
Tartelette was my very first Ebay customer over ten years ago. We got to know each other so well she is now part of the family! She first came to stay and shop a couple of years ago and I arranged to meet her from the train in Carentan. The Paris train arrived but no sign of her. We ran up and down the platform and scanned the carraiges just in case she had fallen asleep on the journey but no sign of her. When I called her mobile she told me she was inside the station on the other side of the track. Instead of getting off the train on the platform side she had got down onto the tracks with her bags, crossed the tracks and hauled herself up onto the opposite platform!!! If the fast train to Cherbourg had arrived at that time heaven knows what would have become of her!!
She is such a wonderful person with a wicked sense of humour but wow does she have a good eye for finding treasures! It`s a good job she lives in the States as we would be fighting at the brocantes for the same things!!!
Merci our preciousTartelette....we look forward to your visit in November....must get your attic bedroom finished by then!!!

dimanche 22 août 2010

Brocante etiquette.................

There is, I believe, an unspoken 'etiquette' amongst most dealers who go out early morning brocanting. Picture the scene.You have spotted something you want and realise that you can`t live without it and simply have to have it. But........ it is being held by another dealer while they ask the price; or even worse, they decide to hold it and have a full blown conversation about the weather, the high price of hay and even next door's dog before they ask the price. So, what do you do? You have to stand as close as possible but must not show any interest at all, but instead pretend you are interested in another item. Why? Because if you show that you want the item being held by someone else it is always a sure fire way to make them buy it! But if you wait for them to discard it the minute it leaves their fingers, then it is fair game  - and can be yours!!!!

However, there are the odd dealers who do not respect this unwritten rule!!! On one occasion I had asked for and been told the price of a delicious lamp - and I kept it in my hands whilst I looked to see if there was anything else on the same stand that I wanted so I could negotiate a better price for the two or three items. Unbeknown to me whilst I was doing this,  a Parisian lady dealer ( I use the term "lady" loosely for this 'madame'!) had overheard the price I was given and within a moment had handed over the money to the vendor and simply snatched the item out of my grasp and promptly walked away with it without so much as a "merci"!. HUH! Technically I hadn`t paid for it..... but madam.....etiquette please!!! How I wish my French was a little better to deal with such occasions - but I suppose what I would have wanted to say would not have been taught to me in school lessons in any event!

Sometimes, albeit on rare occasions, a dealer will even snatch something from your hands whilst you are still looking at it. Fortunately these dealers are few and far between and if they do it to a French colleague a huge fracas usually breaks out and brings the brocante to a stand still. Again  I have always wished my French was up to it on such occasions.  But I always think that if someone is THAT desperate to have an item that  they behave in such a cut throat manner then, heavens,let them have it I say. I really enjoy brocanting - and if it came to me having to be that avaricious then that would be the time for me to retire!

There is sometimes a time when I am unsure exactly what the etiquette should be. Yesterday morning a man arrived at the brocante with a whole host of stunning things from his attic and, needless to say, he was swamped immediately by buyers crowding around his stand. I managed to lean over in the crush to look at some old linen feedsacks thrown out on the pavement - only to feel a head pop through my legs! I peered down to find a strange man on all fours behind me with his head between my knees looking at some old militaria! SO...what was I to do? Should I have said "Bonjour"? Should I have slapped him and shouted "How very dares you, Monsieur"? Or should I have simply grabbed his ears, sat down and ridden him like a racing pig up the street?

Who knows - but I bought the sacks anyway!!!!

And then, finally,my pet hate. The backpack brigade! Many dealers go out early morning carrying a huge backpack in which to place their finds. Okay, so I can see it leaves your hands free to pick up items; but, why oh why do they always seem to forget what they have one on their back when they turn around in front of you and smack you in the face with it? I have been back-packed at dawn so many times this weekend that I am going to carry a pair of scissors and cut the shoulder straps off the next person's backpack who bashes me!!! What if, as they hit me, I was to swing on it from behind to see whether they would end up floundering on their back like an upturned turtle? tempting!

I could never say my weekends are boring!!!!

I have found some adorable treasures over the last two days and shall be listing them this week. I didn`t however buy these geese!!!! They would have been fun to pack and post!
a la prochaine mes belles.....................

vendredi 20 août 2010

Yes....I am slightly AWOL.....................

Yes!!!! I know I am slightly`s all systems go here!
The attic is well under way.....hope you can at last see a slight difference in the before and after pictures!!! ( If you click on the pictures it will enlarge them!)

And today sees the arrival of my long-awaited Victorian cast iron spiral staircase to finish the job a treat!
A bientot...........

lundi 16 août 2010

Even Gaston gave up!

We arrived at the brocante and the skies were ominous......................It had just started to drizzle.

But undeterred we set off and so did Gaston in his battered black beret that I think must be welded to his head as I have never seen him without it.......................

Gaston stopped to buy some Fresh melons for his dear wife Gabriella and we continued ahead.

It looked as if it was going to be a wonderful morning with lots of treasures already out on display.

 We found a divine little carriage clock in its original case and a superb old boulangerie clock......( this boulangerie treasure has since mysteriously gone missing from the pile of things to be photographed and listed on my auction site.....probably because I want to keep it!)

After seeing this stunning 19th century carved pillar we stood for ages trying to decide if we could fit it into our renovation project here. But sadly we had to walk away as it is much too tall. I hope it finds a good home worthy of its status!

The rain started to get heavy, well actually that is an understatement............the clouds burst!!! Everyone ran for cover, but not Gaston, he`s made of tougher stuff......he kept going...............................

We ended up trapped in the cafe tent for well over an hour and I drank so much caffeine I had eyes like a startled rabbit!

But Gaston kept going even though most of the stands were now covered over with plastic sheeting.
But then it rained so hard that Noah ordered some wood and started to build another ark......and even Gaston gave up and came for cafe!

Oh well................we can`t have gorgeous brocanting weather every weekend can we!!!

samedi 14 août 2010

Button box........................

I can remember as a child spending hours looking through my Grandmother`s button box. I could be totally absorbed trying to make matching sets or just making patterns with the treasures inside. It never failed to fascinate me and I could always find some little treasure I had never seen before.
This is my button box..................

An 18th century marriage chest. Soft Provencal blue with monograms. Faded, worm filled and just divine! I bought it at a French house auction many years ago and could never bring myself to sell it.

I am still the same and can spend a good hour sorting through it just for the fun of it! It instantly takes me back to Grandma`s on the mat in front of the open fire that roared in her old cast iron blackened grate. 
Anything I bring home that is filled with little morceaux for sewing gets emptied in there. As well as buttons there are old buckles, hatpins, bits of lace and ribbons. So much so, that you usually get a pin in your finger somewhere along the way!

Surely.....I cannot be the only one who adores a button box............................


                                                                  Everyone has one?

jeudi 12 août 2010


I am spending the day photographing and listing my latest finds. The sun is glorious and if only I could see my pc screen outdoors I would be basking in it now!
Charles le Baron du Breuil is supervising although he is slightly disgusted that I should have a sign with the word "chien" on it! You really would never know there is no paw on that back leg as he is as agile as the four paw variety and had to be rescued from a tree earlier today!!

Mark is knocking down a wall in the barn and peace reigns! Well almost except for the crashing of falling stones! Are you sure this is going to be my hallway and salon?

I have discovered that the best way to get my listings done is to have `youtube` playing music on my laptop whilst I get on with it. I do tend to add the odd word of a song in with my descriptions though, so if they are a little bizarre now you know why!

Earlier today I went to the village pharmacie and saw their latest items on display. Cellulite shoes! Okay, so we all have it, all of us, and if you haven`t then get off my blog immediately I don`t want to talk to you. Go away and come back when you have eaten copious amounts of chocolate and have legs like a toasted crumpet!

But I have a new theory......lots of super models who don`t have cellulite obviously cannot grow it. I intend to start a cellulite farm to supply those poor girls in need. Admittedly I am little overstocked at the moment but I am sure the orders will come in soon. If I was the pharmacist I`d have called them Crumpet shoes! ( or is that les chaussures de crumpettes?!).
 I am the only woman who can go to the local swimming pool ( that by the way is called Aqua Dick....stop it ...don`t) and I can leave the changing room and be in the water before anyone has seen my thighs. Have you ever seen a heat seeking missile in a swimming costume?
Anyway.....................I love crumpets.

There is a 550 stand brocante at La Chapelle Ure this Sunday.......shall I?....I think so, its a huge one in a field, its going to be scorching hot and perhaps I`ll walk off a little of my crumpets.
a la prochaine.....................

mardi 10 août 2010

Just a little too pink for me!

I adore pink but this pink bed at a recent brocante was just a little too much for me!!!

All I can say is WHY???!!!!!!!

lundi 9 août 2010

Bonne Pour les Filles......a little saucy!

I have been addicted to old French medals and anything that carries the motif of Republique Francais ever since I saw a fabulous Paris catwalk display of military style winter coats all bearing old medals and epaulettes. I always keep an eye open for them at the brocantes and yesterday I found a divine batch of old ribbon rosettes and brooches. As I photograhed the Bonne Pour Les Filles brooches I reaslied that some are just a little saucy!
We have vignettes with one little minx in her corsets.................

and then we have a naked soldier being measured for his uniform..............

Francais Replublique......................the little sauce pots!

dimanche 8 août 2010

Red feet and raindrops....................

What a weekend! So many street brocantes - so little time!! Starting at 5am yesterday morning we trawled two large brocantes in the fine drizzling rain. My new red loafers got totally soaked and dyed my feet bright red! 
 When we got home absolutely shattered we realised there was another advertised as a "Nocturnal brocante" starting at 4pm and finishing at midnight. So we unloaded our finds and set off again. Excuse me.....what is nocturnal about 4pm?

 We arrived at 3pm so we would be early and found it in full flow and it apparently had been going strong since noon!! But, we did find a few extra treasures to top up the Samedi hoard!

Today we set off at dawn again for two large brocantes quite close to each other and now I cannot type any more as my leg bones have fallen out ! I have lost the will to live but......................the table is piled high with gorgeous shabby treasures to list this week.
 I am going to put my bright red feet up and relax!