jeudi 30 juin 2011


The driveway is finally finished and I`d love a pair of stone sculptures.............................but perhaps not Froufrou and Mr Froufrou!!!!

The feline speed bump.....................

Finally our new driveway is taking shape. I went along with Mark to a local quarry carriere to make the order as I had a hidden agenda. I tagged along so I could choose the stone that has a little rose blush when wet.....well why not?....if its going to rain it can at least look girlie!!

We are using a special membrane that goes under a riding menage as Normandie is famous for its lush grazing and that grass can get through anything!!

Work is slow and the reason?.................................Charles le Baron du Breuil is obsessed with it all and hides underneath at every possible chance. There`s going to be a huge lump at the centre of the driveway if he doesn`t vanish soon!!!
Tartelette is safely back in Oregon and before she left she bought me the most delicious treasure from the Paris brocante as a gift. I am not worthy!!!! I will show you tomorrow..............

A demain mes belles!

mardi 28 juin 2011

Hope its the right choice............

As our renovation continues we had been putting off our decision on what to do about a fireplace in the new sitting room. Rustique old stone or something a little more grand? It simply had to be right as it will be the main focal point for the room. All I knew is that it had to be floor to ceiling  - and it has to look as if it has always been here.

 I have trawled through  back issues of virtually every interiors magazine I could find,  have stood and looked at the blank wall where it will be from every angle - and have looked at every fireplace in every cafe and  restaurant for miles around!!!! It was getting to the point where if a choice was not made soon the work would be held up....................but then we saw what we had been looking for !!!

Whilst out truffling recently at a brocante we found an old fireplace propped up against a wall almost hidden under a layer of dust. A huge old treasure that had been removed from a manoir some years ago. We brushed away the dust and as it revealed itself we knew that if we walked away without buying it we would regret it. How many times have I walked away from an old treasure only to still talk about it and ponder 'I wished I had bought it'!

The gesso on the fireplace we had found carries old gilded cherubs and dolphins.................
........some amazing carved and painted faces....

.....and winged cherubs on the pillars.
There is room on the back panel for a gilt mirror and perhaps lustre sconces on either side. It is going to sit against a wall with old pale lime plaster so, hopefully, it is going to blend in with the room.
Did we make the right choice? I hope so!!!

vendredi 24 juin 2011

Works halted......................well, sort of!!!

It is pretty chaotic at the chateau to say the least!!! We have the " mini pelle" digger on site pipe laying, drive clearing and all sorts. The tractor and trailer are in and out and various stone works are happening. The drive work was halted briefly by Charles, le Baron du Breuil who decided that " Mais oui.................a three legged cat can also attempt to drive some heavy machinery !!".

Work has also had to be halted on the ceiling in the renovation as a nestfull of baby swallows have hatched up in the rafters and are using the beams for flying school. When the swallows returned in April I did tell their mother that, as much as I like her, I would be grateful if she would use one of the barns as a hotel this year; but she disobeyed me and laid a nest full of eggs in the roof rafters! I have tried to photograph them but they are flying round and round so fast in there that you need a crash hat and visor as some of their flight paths are a little dubious to say the least - and getting an action picture of them on the wing is nigh-on impossible! Charles lies inside on his back looking up -  and hoping!

So, with all this going on I had told Tartelette (who had arrived in Paris from Oregon last week)  that I would not be able to catch up with her before she makes her way to Provence - but I wished her good truffling. She has phoned me thats a lie, five times daily  - and has kept me updated with her finds and her location.

Then, I had THE phone call. A call from a dealer who had emptied an old house and had kept the textiles for me to see. Now this is a man I never ignore. The last time he called I had the most divine haul of period pieces from him which I still dream of to this day!  He is a good four or five hours away so we decided to surprise Tartelette en route. Arriving late we knocked on her hotel door, Mark was ready with the camera to capture the moment. It's a wonder you couldn`t hear her screaming!! And of course she cried!!

Opposite the hotel was a small bar that was having an open air barbeque with live music so a little dancing was in order ....and after a few glasses of Bordeaux.... you didn`t know I could dance that fast, did you?

I recently found a stunning batch of early faceted crystal candle bulb covers that look like tiny chandeliers so I had to give Madame a couple towards her truffling fund. The next morning she walked into the busy hotel breakfast room wearing one on her head as a crown!! Its okay; I never have to go to that hotel again!!!

So, the drive to the man who had kept the textiles for me was as good as I expected and the car was crammed with hoards of stunning 19th century treasures. Lots of faded roses curtains, morceaux of silks and linens, ribbons, hats with corsages, lace, tassles and much more...........

But then, on my return home, photobucket kicked off - and the bulk uploader for my photographs will not work. Apparently I am not the only one with this problem.  2 emails to their support team and 2 very slow replies later and I am still stranded. Perhaps Auctiva is looking inviting?
So................all at a standstill until tomorrow at least!!
Have a wonderful weekend mes belles!!!

samedi 18 juin 2011

Betty Ford brocanting...........

Rain....rain and then more rain. Will it ever stop? No brocante today and I am now getting withdrawal symptoms! Do you think that The Betty Ford Clinic deals with a brocante addiction?

This sweet little mill has just come up for sale closeby................

Do you think you could get three floors in there? Ground floor a kitchen, middle floor a sitting room, top floor a bedroom but where would the bathroom go? Perhaps that tent would have to stay!!

I am hoping for just a little break in the rain for some Sunday treasure truffling.

vendredi 17 juin 2011

French market.......

Up early today for my local market. I wanted to get there before the rain set in again. Work on the ark has commenced just in case the chateau should float away down the you think I should go for a toile interior or are arks more minimalist this year?!!

Dominique in his traditional Normandie indigo linen and hemp chemise always does a roaring trade with the tourists as he proudly offers a "degustation" of his home produced Calva.......

Who can resist these strawberries?.......actually I think it`s those little wooden punnets I like most!!

These cherries had the most divine smell!

I always think artichokes look exciting but I am never quite sure what you do with them...........

How many more colours of oignons are there?!!!

The fromage stand is definately a little "whifferama" but wonderful to say the least!!!!

I would bring home even more flowers................
if I could guarantee results like this...................
If you do not want to cook there are always some pretty interesting takeaway options.............

This is my last little haven of peace for a week for as we speak Tartelette is mid flight from Oregon on her way to Paris. Heavens!................ that will be the end of any peace and quiet!!

I wonder if I should send out some kind of alert to save any poor Parisians she may flatten in her rush to the brocante?

The "tranquillite" is about to be shattered - and I shall report when the eagle has landed!!!!

lundi 13 juin 2011

Wrecked, but not ruined !!

Oh please............. no more rain!!! Honestly I am going to start building an ark this afternoon if it carries on! And it must be bad as Charles le Baron du Breuil is curled up in a chair, refusing to go out hunting;  as  you know, that cat will swim the marsh in winter in commando gear with a snorkel for the possibility  finding a mouse!

 It has been a bank holiday weekend here so there were many brocantes on the horizon. Saturday morning started okay................ and I found some gorgeous little morceaux, coming home with a delicious, shabby sea captains chest and some nice unusual finds. I looked forward to a long Sunday and  today is a bank holiday (Whit Monday) to continue severe truffling for which there is no cure! But lashing rain  this morning put a stop to that plan.

We went to bed fairly early on Saturday night ready for an early start on Sunday. However, halfway through the night, I was woken by Mark trying to push me out of bed. He was still asleep so I realised he was just dreaming and settled down again. A few minutes later he started again and by this point he was well into whatever he was dreaming about  - and I was one leg on the floor hanging on to my pillows for dear life! In the end I had to wake him up because as much as I like the old floorboards in the bedroom I didn`t want to sleep on them. He mumbled something about the Ark Royal and went back to sleep.
When the alarm went off at 5.30 am ( ouch!) it became apparent he had been re-living his Naval officer career in his sleep. He had been dreaming that the Ark Royal (one of the ships he served on in the late 1970s-  ) was about to be sold (which, funnily enough, is true for the more current HMS Ark Royal) and that he and some of the crew had to push it up the street on some sort of long trailer for it to be taken away!
Excuse me?.....................was that man calling me an old battleship or a ship wreck?!!!!

So..... to Sunday morning and the minute we get into the car it starts to rain. But as we are already up we decide to try the brocantes to see who has braved the elements. The first brocante we arrived at was a wash-out, the sellers still sitting in their loaded cars waiting to see if the rain would stop. One old man did decide-  to brave the elements so I was quick to the back of his van to see what treasures lurked inside his old Citroen...and what did I find?.........

The term " Money for old rope" comes to mind!!

Eight, (yes, 8!) brocantes later, cold and wet , we started our journey back home with a nice haul of treasures which is really quite surprising given the appalling weather! I think the few sellers who had braved the elements were eager to sell so we struck some good deals.
My favourite find of the day was this tiny Napoleon III silk photo frame  -  very shabby chic with distressed silk roses around the edge..........

My lucky find of the day was meeting an old lady who had worked in Paris for a lampshade maker many years ago and who had the most divine ribbons and trims................
All still pristine and top quality old passementerie with gold and silver wirework weaves......I almost kissed her!
Just as we decided to call it a day I found this little old book in English that I bought and hid away as a cadeau for Mark.......

Very Apt I thought!!!! As for the music here on my blog you remember that old tv series?

A la prochaine mes Belles - and may all your umbrellas be big antique paisley....with passementerie bobble trim.....with silver handles in the shape of winged cherubs with bows. And may your raincoats be 18th century silk brocade with monogrammed buttons and Chantilly lace cuffs!!

mercredi 8 juin 2011

This little piggy went to market......................

Ce petit cochon est allé au marché,
Ce petit cochon à la maison est resté,
Ce petit cochon a eu du rôti,
Ce petit cochon n'en a pas eu mie,
Et ce petit cochon n'eut plus, pete-petit,
Qu'à s'en retourner chez lui.

I love this 1907 postcard with the message..........A million kisses!
a la prochaine mes belles.........

dimanche 5 juin 2011

More 40s fun in Ste Mere Eglise...........

More photographs from the D Day celebrations in Ste Mere Eglise last night.....this fab couple could really jitterbug!

Possibly the most elegant couple of the night!
lots of dancing to Glen Miller ....

The night ended with a stunning firework display

and the celebrations continue today.....

samedi 4 juin 2011

D-Day celebrations in Normandie

It`s going to be a crazy few days here as the D Day anniversary celebrations begin. For the last few weeks there have been an increasing number of old WWII jeeps and classic cars on the local roads - and numerous ceremonies and celebrations have been arranged. 

 Last night started with a fabulous party at a friends chambres d`hote. Frou Frou got the chance to wear  vintage along with Nev who was the oldest evacuee in town!!
There were some fabulous costumes.  I simply adored Officer Crabtree and Michelle of the "resistance" from the 'Allo Allo' TV programme.

It was quite a fun-filled evening to say the least!!
All I am going to say about my costume is that I looked like a cross between Hilda Baker and my own grandmother - and this is all I will show you!!
I may have looked hideous but at least my outfit was all genuine 1940s!!

We were also very privileged, and humbled, to meet Milt, a Normandy veteran from Missouri who had returned to France this year for the very first time since he had landed on the beaches in 1944. He was charming,  very unassuming  - and had all his faculties, including a good sense of humour. Wonderful for a man who celebrated his 92nd birthday two days ago! Here he is, sitting on the right in the picture.

Today there is an event in Coutances called "Jazz sous les pommiers" ( jazz under the apple trees). Sometime ago when Mark saw the advertisements he told me Jamie Cullum was performing here in Normandie. I told him it could not be THE Jamie Cullum, but it is! Am really looking forward to it ,so this afternoon we are off to the concert and then will rush home to get into our 40s clothes for the large D-Day party being held on the square at Ste Mere Eglise tonight.

I will try and photograph more 40s costume in the mayhem tonight!!