mercredi 30 mars 2011

Sooooooooooooo innocent...................NOT!!!

We managed to rescue the tiniest baby rabbit from Charles le Baron du Breuil this morning who was having a wild time chasing it around the garden. He was most disgusted that we had stopped his fun and the terrified baby escaped through a hole in the fence back to the marsh. For a three legged cat he can be so ferocious!

He disappeared up the stairs sulking and I found him fast asleep in my old wirework chair......................he looked so innocent you would never believe what he had been up to just minutes earlier.

Just Charles and Timothy having a snooze on his favourite cushion.

I managed to rescue Timothy as we had the rabbit!
Timothy went back to his family in the armoire.................
Leaving Charles to dream about what might have been.............

and hopefully the baby rabbit safe with his family too!
A la prochaine..............

lundi 28 mars 2011

La Ruche

Yesterday morning at dawn we left everyone sleeping and crept out as quietly as possible to a local brocante. As the early morning mist was just starting to lift this was the first thing I saw being lifted from a farm trailer...............
.............a divine old beehive called a "ruche" in French. Crumbling old pale green paint and a quaint zinc roof......................
...there was no way I was leaving without it!!!

Too big and heavy to post from France but I am taking it to Vintage at the village hall ( see link top right) in May.

Unless of course the bees move in first!!!
The family leave on the evening ferry........heavens it will be so quiet at the chateau!
A demain mes belles!

samedi 26 mars 2011

Chaos at the chateau!

I know I have been somewhat  AWOL-  but the family has arrived............................ 2 tiny babies just 3 months age difference apart, sons, daughters, daughters in law, sons in law, suitcases, prams , steralisers, cots, moses baskets, baby walkers, playmats,changing mats, nappies and enough baby equipment to fill a store.

If you are not in the salle de bain by 5.30 a.m. forget have missed your slot until 10am!  There always seems to be someone or a baby in the bath!!

 I am catering to feed the lot big time........Nigella who? Madame Besnier at the patisserie gave me an "ooooh la la Madame" when she had to wrap an extra big box of confections. 

But wonderful, wonderful weather has also arrived and today we all sat out at a huge table Al Fresco in the garden for lunch. The storks have arrived on the marsh,  the first swallows are diving into the barns- and we know that Winter is certainly behind us as the cows are being returned to the lush marsh grass.

The French lullaby with this blog is a cute little seven year old French girl...if you go to the bottom of this page and click the link you will see her singing. I am considering shipping her in at bedtime to sing the babies to sleep.

Normal service will be resumed early next week - provided the return ferries to the UK are working!!!

mardi 22 mars 2011

Putting on the Ritz!!

Bonsoir mes belles....................

I have a fabulous antique damask linen tablecloth from the world-famous Ritz Hotel, Paris to list in my auctions today. It is a stunning piece; fine linen embellished with The Ritz crown and crest and with divine crowns in each corner.

But could someone tell me the secret to photographing white damask?

I tried indoors using a flash and without the flash;  held it to the light; took it out in the sunlight - yet I still don`t feel I have done it justice. There must be a secret to it!
 And have you ever had tea at The Ritz?

lundi 21 mars 2011

Beaux Bijoux!

Bonjour mes belles!

I still have so much of the attic clearance to sort out and there are still many boxes I haven`t even sorted through properly. I suppose I was feeling a little "textiled" out, but, with three tempting brocantes to be truffled at yesterday morning Dimanche started at 6am.

 The night before I was thinking it would be nice to have some little mignons to mix amongst the textiles on my Ebay listings. So I suppose subconsciously had my "search for tiny treasures " eyes on and starting delving into boxes with my torch at the first brocante.

And this is just some of the delights I found.........................

That little cherub mount is simply divine and I am looking forward to getting the camera out this morning!

Lots of beaux bijoux for you this week mes belles!

mercredi 16 mars 2011

LIVRET DE FAMILLE..............

I am still working my way through all the boxes of treasures from the attic clearance and came across this old Livret de Famille that was registered in 1887. I suppose it is a kind of census book for each family of that time. It states that it must be kept safe by the head of the family.
 On opening it I realised it was a wonderful source of social history and it tells quite a tale.........................

Monsieur Jean Maire Hommet was born in the 10th arrondissiment in Paris in 1859  and he was a wine merchant.
Mademoiselle Blanche Eugenie Augot was born in 1868 at Issy and was listed as "without profession".

They married in 1887 when he was 28 years of age and she was 19 years old.

I started to read about their children and then realised how tragic this little old booklet really is.

Their first child  BLANCHE AUGUSTINE was born in Paris 2 years after their wedding and all seems fine.

Their second child  ALFRED LOUIS was born 10 months later on  the 3rd Octobre 1890 later in Paris but died just 17 days later in Vitry Aux Loges in the Loire region.

Their next child  SUZANNE JOSEPHINE was born on 23rd Octobre 1892 in Paris and then their next  JEAN LOUISE HENRIETTE  was born on 16th August 1894  again in Paris.

JEAN LOUISE HENRIETTE died one month later in September 1894 followed by the death of SUZANNE JOSEPHINE aged 3 years in February 1895. Both deaths were registered at Vitry Aux Loges.

So from what I can gather at that point just one  child remains  BLANCHE AUGUSTINE.

The next birth was JEAN FRANCOIS HENRI born in Octobre 1895 followed by ANNA LOUISE in 1899.

At the age of 20 in 1915 JEAN FRANCOISE HENRI is registered as "MORT POUR LA FRANCE" Died for France he must have been a soldier.

ANNA LOUISE  died in 1983 at the age of 84 years in Yvelines.

And what happened to the parents?
JEAN MARIE died in Paris in 1930 aged 71 years and BLANCHE EUGENIE died 4 years later in 1934 in Paris aged 66.

So Anna Louise was the survivor and there is no record of what happened to the first born BLANCHE AUGUSTINE.

What I cannot understand is why each child was registered as being born in Paris yet the deaths were registered in Vitry Aux Loges which is in the Loire region near to Orleans.  Did they have another home there and  why return to Paris to register the birth of each new child?

I would love to find out more to piece the jigsaw together but where to start? How I would have loved to talk to Anna Louise to piece the mystery together.

I feel quite humbled to have turned the pages of time on this family history.

A demain mes belles........

mardi 15 mars 2011

Craquant chocolat...............

The delights at the patisserie of Madame Besnier are just too good...............

Craquant chocolat......................

but it`s rude.............................
to talk with my mouth full.............mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!

Shall I take you to Madame Besnier tomorrow so you can choose your own delights?

A demain mes belles..............................chomp!!

dimanche 13 mars 2011

The old boulangerie

When our little dolls house chateau was a much larger concern in the early 1800s there were lots of workers cottages in our hamlet of Le Breuil. Now all that remains is Le petit chateau and a farmyard and the tumble down cottages we are restoring. 
But tucked away just a step away from our garden is an old tumble down boulangerie that would have supplied the workers with their bread.
I am not even sure who it belongs to now as it sits alone at the edge of the marsh................
It is not safe to go inside but if you peer inside you can still see the gorgeous old bread oven that would have been fuelled with wood

Wouldn`t that old oven make a wonderful feature in my cuisine?

I was a little frantic as when I went over there to photograph Charles le baron du Breuil disappeared inside the oven, curled up and went to sleep!!

Miss Frou Frou has opened a petit magasin on Etsy under the name Passionatelyparis ( someone had already registered parisfroufrou!!) and here is the link courtesy of mother`s free advertising service!!!

jeudi 10 mars 2011

Tartelette, Bunny, Frou Frou and the proposterous moustache.............

When we first downloaded Skype an extravagant Skype hat was all the rage. First sported by that trendsetter Tedandbunny......................(Oh how I love that little button that captures the image of who you are chatting to!!)

But today things moved up a notch when Tartelette called from Oregon. That girl simply is not safe when there is a marker pen in her grasp! In true Paris style she was soon sporting a proposterous moustache.................
So Tartellette Skyped Frou Frou who then Skyped me...............

Is this the effect I have on people or are they all fruit loops anyway?

mardi 8 mars 2011


Bonsoir Mesdames,  Mademoisdelles...
Ce soir - c'est moi, Mark. And why have I taken over the blog site on this of all days, you may be asking yourselves? of course is Pancake Day - or to use its proper title Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday marking the first day of Lent.

The story regarding a 'race' taking place on Shrove Tuesday goes back to the folklore that, about 500 years ago in the small market town of Olney in north Buckinghamshire a housewife, whilst in the middle of making pancakes, heard the church bells ringing out for the start of the church service at 12 noon and, desperate not to be late, came out of her house in the High Street still holding her frying pan and bedecked in her apron and ran to the church.
And from that point on began a tradition,  upheld to this day in numerous towns up and down the country, of having a 'pancake' race.

But - for me, the Olney pancake race is the 'original' article - and I say that because I happened to not only have been born in the very same High Street from where the story originated, but then lived in the town for the next 20 years.
It was in the 1950s I believe that the then vicar of Olney [Canon Collins, who I knew very well not only because he happened to live next door to us in the vicarage but also christened, confirmed and  married me!]  decided to put the pancake race story, and Olney in particular, on the map. He contacted the local church in Olney, Maryland, USA - and invited the housewives of that town to take part in what was to become an annual race between the housewives of the two Olneys.
I recall as a youngster being let out of school early in order to watch the race; I remember music prior to the race being played by an American USAF band invited over as US guests specially for the day;  I  of course remember eating pancakes which were made by the townsfolk in the Church Hall - and I of course remember the race itself - one year being particularly memorable when a  TV crew knocked at our door asking whether they could set up their cameras in my bedroom, its window providing a superb vantage point above the crowds as the housewives  came running around the corner from the market square en route for the church.

There were only a few eligibility rules for the runners. Minimum age 18 and one must have lived in the town for a specified period of time. Regarding the race itself the pancake, as far as I can recall, had to be tossed no less than 3 times during the course of the race. [I do recall one particular year when, at the word go, a young lady immediately tossed her pancake three times whilst standing at the start line - and then took off along the 400 yards or so to the finish line, beating all to become the winner. It subsequently came out that she was still at school and was their 400 yard hurdling champion!] Anyway, pancake day wasn't complete without the traditional 'party' which took place in the
Church Hall that same evening. Mingling with the runners and townsfolk ( all the shopkeepers in the town, as far as can recall, each provided a prize for the raffle), there was a feeling of excitement and anticipation.  Canon Collins was waiting for the telephone call from the USA to see whether the runner from Olney, Maryland had beaten the time of the runner from Olney, UK that year. I don't know what the aggregate score between the two countries is now - but I am sure that the traditional race and the festivities surrounding it are as much a part of the town's culture today as they were when I lived there some 50 years ago.
And to celebrate the occasion - I made pancakes for Shirley and myself today!
And you may be wondering about the choice of music. Well......Canon Collins was also immensely proud of Olney's links with William Cowper (the poet) who lived on the Market square ( his house is now a museum) and his friend John Newton ( the former slave trader who, after being ship-wrecked "saw the light", became reformed, spoke out against the slave trade and eventually became a curate). Newton often visited Cowper - the pulpit which he sometimes preached from when visiting Cowper is still in the church - but he is probably best remembered for the words he wrote about the "amazing grace of God" after surviving the shipwreck. Canon Collins would always ensure that 'Amazing Grace' was on the hymn list on special occasions - and the Shrove Tuesday shriving service was no exception. Having been a chorister in the church choir for many  years, I think I know the words of the whole hymn off by heart!
...a la prochaine.

lundi 7 mars 2011

Kittens in mittens!!

Sunday morning at 6am and we were up, dressed and off brocanting in the freezing cold. We came home with some divine old treasures so the cold was well worth it. One very astute dealer had brought with him a box of old shop stock of 1950s knitted mittens which were selling tres vite! For some reason the word "mittens" stuck in my brain and I spent the whole morning trying to remember the words to the nursery rhyme " Three little kittens have lost their mittens" ! I will not tell you the rest of the verse; I will let it torment you as it did me !! Can you remember it?

On the way home we passed this wonderful old crumbling ruin and of course had to trespass and take some photographs! It looks as if this divine old place is now just used by someone to store their farm machinery but there was no farmhouse in sight. It must have been part of a very very grand estate judging by the size of the pidgeonaire. The brickwork is so ornate and I desperately wanted to open that door and peer in.
I could just see the nesting holes inside in the latttice inner brickwork. Now there`s a door I would have loved to have brought home! Can you imagine such a decadent confection just to house your doves?

The other building was very grandiose! Look at those arches where the carriages would have been stored. Either side are old stables with beautiful old iron grilles.
And that little stone oeil de boeuf window? Fantastique!

Looking around the land at those crumbling walls, all dressed stone and built by master craftsmen hundreds of years ago, it must have been a large manoir or perhaps even a chateau here originally.

Some places here just seem to sit and quietly crumble. Nature reclaims the land and no one seems to care or look back at the history. I can feel a metal detector coming on as a birthday present!!!

Three little kittens...........