dimanche 27 novembre 2011

Dimanche confections.......................

Now this is why I fling myself out of bed into the dark on Dimanche matins......some of today`s finds.....

This divine boudoir cupboard has been unloved for a long long time and no one cared that it was covered in dust.

That faded roses textile and the duck egg blue drawer labels with faded gilded letters...oooooooh la la!!

These delicious Paris oyster silk shoes thrown at the bottom of a trunk......no one has cared for them for years....

Ooooooooh that old label inside...............they are almost edible!

How can such wonderful things be so uncared for?

I will enjoy finding them new deserving homes where they will be well cared for and treasured.

Dimanche treasures.....simply heaven!

Don`t you just love the  French brocantes mes belles?

vendredi 25 novembre 2011

Vendredi darns............

Don`t you just adore old darns and repairs?.

I  sometimes have to buy a piece of old textile just for the repairs & patches as they are such amazing confections and definitely not imperfections!

This printed Provencale linen is late 1700s..................I wonder who sat by candlelight to produce this petite treasure?

Bonne weekend mes belles

jeudi 24 novembre 2011

Sealed with a miss

You know my new regime every morning? Out of bed, a quick coffee then into the car and drive to the beach to walk Digbert Fanshaw Brownshaw who is on a diet ( he`s not fat just portly!)

This morning we awoke to thick dense fog but I will not be deterred by a bit of Normandie weather so off we went. 

That actually sounded quite convincing didn`t it? But I confess its the thought of the thick dense hot chocolat in the cafe afterwards that calls me - and I don`t feel quite so debauched drinking it if I have marched along the beach first.

Soooooo......amazingly when we arrived at the beach it was glorious sunshine, the sea was so still and calm that you could have heard a fish fart and it was totally glorious ......the sea that is ....not the fish fart!.

People have told me that there is a friendly seal on this particular beach and I am so desperate to see him. I search every day but nothing so far. I am getting so desperate that this morning Mark offered to don a rubber balaclava and swim out there to bob about in the water just to please me. Now thats what I call "amour" but he would be the only seal that I have ever seen sporting a moustache and wearing spectacles!

I strain my eyes so hard to see one each morning that I could become a contestant on that Noel Edmonds Tv programme " Seal or no seal"........................no thanks Mr Banker, its a wonderful offer but NO SEAL!

So...off for that gloopy thick hot chocolat in the cafe . Today there was a major queue in there as it is market day and I did consider bursting to the front of the counter to demand my drink shouting that I am chocolat dependant hypoglycemic - and that I would lapse into a stupified state unless I was served first. But, it was not worth the risk. Market day brings out all the old Normandie farmers` wives in their wrap round aprons, wellies and cardigans. They are usually all casually toting baskets of vegetables so huge that even a small donkey would struggle and collape with the weight,  so I didn`t want to risk being battered with a turnip and waited my turn.

Then that was when tragedy struck. After a 20 minute wait I sipped the chocolat to find, NO! NO! NO! it was watery, milky and sickly and not the wonderful dark gloop that I love. I asked the owner who told me that the chocolate whisking machine had broken down so they were having to offer a subsitute until it is mended. Substitute? Subsitute? I think NOT monsieur.....there is NO subsitute for Van Houten!!!

So, today I missed my hot chocolate......sniff! I need to get out more.....................then perhaps not!

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

lundi 21 novembre 2011

Regrets...............the one that got away....

You know the feeling........you walk away from something that catches your eye at a flea market or brocante and when you get home you just can`t stop thinking about it?

There is one such item that still plays on my mind five years after the event! 

The very beautiful Chateau L`Isle Marie, only a few miles down the road from our home and now a hotel, is an enchanting place....... tucked away out of view in the woods. Five years ago the local historical society  (or hysterical society as I call them!) advertised an attic clearance ("vide grenier") in the grounds of the chateau to raise funds. I just assumed it would be like any other vide-grenier;   local people emptying their garages and barns and putting their wares out to sell. However, I turned up in the early morning sunshine to find that all the buyers were actually outside the chateau's huge scrolled gates impatiently standing in a queue. "Les barrieres ouvrent  a 8.00am" I heard someone say.

 I recognised many of the dealers already in the queue and quickly  realised that it must be more than just a local sale.  After talking with a few people it became apparent that members of the hysterical society had been allowed access into the attics of the chateau to find some treasures to sell in order to help raise money for the renovation of the old chapel in the chateau's grounds..

At 8am sharp the gates did open..... and we all bustled in. Oh honestly! I didn`t know where to run first! There was a whole marquee devoted to textiles where I spotted a huge bale of the most divine 19th century florals tied up with string. I made a grab for them only to be told " Je suis desole, madame...vendu".

I was then tapped on the shoulder by a local brocante owner who said, " I hope I've  done the right thing but I've bought that bale for you". Phew..............saved!  I have kept many of those wonderful pieces for my own collection as I simply cannot bear to part with them......all very, very special. Rumour has it that one of the old Count's wives was a great interior designer - and if those textiles are anything to go by then she had fabulous taste.

There was so much to rush round to look at; stands of books, tools, cuisine items and we soon were loaded to the hilt .........................and I think that is probably why I walked away from something wonderful.

Tucked away in the trees was a stand which had some old luggage, some items from the stables and some rugs. Standing at the back was the most amazing huge leather trunk on which was the Count's crown emblem and a large gilded monogram. One of the buckles was missing and I walked away from it. Why? Why did I do that?

It was the most delicious thing  and it was not at all expensive. I've asked myself then same question so many times since.
Did it sell?....should I go back under the cover of darkness in a balaclava to see if its still there?

I still think about it to this day. I had never seen anything like it and I know I never will again....so why did I walk away from it? Who knows?  It was definitely the one that got away, that's for sure!!

I have been sorting through my armoires and I suppose that is what got me thinking about that trunk! After a bit of a sort out I am having a little dabble on Etsy this week and here is the link

dimanche 20 novembre 2011

Perfect persiennes.......

I have been looking for months and months for matching sets of shutters to use in the renovation here at the chateau. But...not for outside, they are to go inside the windows in the new salon. Today I found just what I was looking for.....

Narrow old folding shutters called "Persiennes".....................

All the old fittings.....................

..............and all divine!! I am going to strip them ( no that`s a lie.... I am going to take them to Monsieur Bertrand!) and leave them just as they come out of the stripping tank with little touches of the old paint still visible.

There were a few extra too and I had to bring them home as I can feel a few being joined together and a folding screen coming on!

They fit so well that I couldn`t have had any custom made that would do a better job.

I am so glad I waited until they came along as patience is not really one of my virtues! I am the kind of person who starts a sentence with " Can you just help me to".....and finishes it with " its okay - forget it...I`ve done it" !!

A demain mes belles!

jeudi 17 novembre 2011

Trapped in a vicious circle................

The weather here is pretty bizarre at the moment and the flowers that have usually been long gone by November are still blooming in our garden!

So, when our veterinaire said that Sir Digbert Fanshaw Brownshaw is a little too portly for his own good it has been very easy to walk him each morning on the local beach. As usual not a soul in sight!!

Out of desperation to find any morceaux of food available Diggers does try to see if any beach huts have visitors cooking breakfast and I have had to extract him from someones doorway more than once this week!
My favourite is the tiny one in the middle!

Isn`t it amazing what a Jack Russell can do?

We have a good brisk walk........................
 and then poor Digs has to stay in the car whilst we finish off with a gloopy chocolat chaud from the local cafe..............

Of course this chocolat means we will have to walk off the extra calories again tomorrow so I am trapped in a vicious circle of walking and hot chocolat!

Inside me, There's a thin woman trying to get out........but I can usually shut the old sow up with chocolate."

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

mardi 15 novembre 2011

Actually it wasn`t a hoot at all !!!

Well ........that`ll teach me to moan won`t it?!!! You know that old theory - that pleasure has to be evened out with a bit of pain? So.. if I enjoyed having a good old moan on Saturday then the events of the next day most definitely evened it out!

We got up early on Sunday morning for the flea market and drove off in the pitch black. Just a few lanes away from the house there was a sudden thud on the windscreen, something white splatted the front of the car, hit the front winscreen, bounced up onto the roof and into the darkness.  After the initial shock of the thud all I could think was "NOOOOOOOOOOOOO..... not an owl............ please!!!!".

We stopped the car and looked in the road and along by the hedges but could see nothing, so we started back on our journey feeling very downhearted at what had happened.

10 miles down the road we stopped in the nearest town at the 'distributeur' (cash point). Whilst Mark began to take out some cash I decided to get out of the car to take my coat off. I glanced at the roof and almost jumped out of my skin! There twisted over the luggage rail on the roof was a large barn owl. It was quite obviously dead so Mark managed to untangle it and left it in the bushes by the bank for nature to take its course and we sadly got back in the car to finish our journey. As we pulled away the feathers ruffled in the breeze - and I was absolutely bereft that this wonderful bird's life had ended in the manner it had. 

The flea market was a good one -  and I found some really pretty old treasures but I still felt quite downhearted by what had happened. We met up with Frou Frou and Mr Frou Frou who, after they had heard the tale, went off and bought me a present;  an owl paperweight presumably to torment me and to make me feel even more guilty...............as daughters' do!

As we set off I asked Mark to drive back past the hedges at the bank so we could at least pick him up and give him a decent burial in our garden. We arrived back at the bank only to  find this huge owl standing motionless right by the cash point!!! Mark said someone must have propped him up there for a joke.  I walked very cautiously over to look for myself - and then saw that his chest was moving!!!

Terrified of handling him we left him and drove straight to the vets...which, it being a Sunday, was closed of course and no emergency numbers readily to hand. The gendarmerie (police) and pompiers (fire) stations were our next call but, again, both were closed and shuttered. We rushed home and I managed to find the number for a bird sanctuary - which happened to be more than 40 miles away!

The  owner said that he was away attending a bird of prey exhibition  but if I could get the owl into a box and deliver it to him on Monday he would do what he could. He said I could, in the short term, give him some raw chicken meat if I managed to catch him.

So............ back to the cash point with a huge box and thick leather gloves to hand. We found him even perkier, trying to walk and flapping one wing! We managed to box him up and brought him home and placed him in the barns overnight - and safe, of course, from Charles le Baron du Breuil!

I fully expected to find him dead the next morning but no; there he was .......very perky, just able to hop on one leg, but clearly unable to fly.

So we have made the 100 mile round trip and he is now recovering from a broken wing in very experienced hands.

So pleasure........................................

followed by pain...............................

...........followed by relief!!

samedi 12 novembre 2011

Oh heavens...the soap box is out again!

I had an email yesterday from a lady who I have never met or had any dealings with.  In essence, she suggested that, after buying a batch of antique textiles, it would be much better if I washed, pressed, starched and hand repaired them all before listing them to sell - and she scolded me for not doing it!

With that in mind I suppose this is her idea as to how my day would pan out.....................

I woke up gently at 11am to find a cup of steaming coffee and a freshly baked croissant amande at my bedside. I took a long luxurious bubble bath, took my time to choose what I would wear, fixed my hair and make up and made my way downstairs.

 Waiting for me in the salon were two people carrying bags full of wonderful 18th and 19th century textiles and treasures to sell to me. They had already laid them out for me to examine so I simply walked along the line and made my choice.

After they had gone I took a stroll in the garden with Sir Digbert Fanshaw Brownshaw and Charles Le Baron du Breuil . Oh... how we laughed and skipped through the rose beds in the warm sunshine.

 Two more sellers arrived a little later in the day, again with divine treasures for me to gently sort through - and then my buying was done for the day. 

I spent the rest of the afternoon being cooled by two servants holding huge ostrich-plumed fans whilst Mark relaxed playing the harpsicord and violin. Around me a team of servants washed, repaired and pressed my purchases. 

 I was carried to supper in a gilded sedan chair and then went to bed by candle light, but not before checking into the office to ensure that my two assistants were busy photographing my new purchases and preparing my Ebay listings for the following morning. What a divine dreamy day it had been.

This is really what happened.......................................

The alarm went off at 4.30am and I dragged myself from  under the covers. Digbert Fanshaw Brownshaw didn`t even open his eyes as I stumbled to the bathroom climbing into my jeans and loafers as I went. I brushed my teeth with my eyes still closed, threw a comb through my hair ( well the front anyway!) and went down into the cold kitchen.

Throwing on my coat,I grabbed the car keys , a torch and my 'buying' bag. I stepped out into the freezing cold and walked down the drive towards the car, flinching to avoid the bats which were still flying around. I realised as soon as got into the car that I had my sweater on back to front - but there was no time to sort it out now! I drove 50 miles or so through pitch black lanes and  badly-lit roads until I reached  the flea market where I spent  the next two hours walking amongst the stalls, searching by torchlight and fighting with the other dealers to see what could be found.

 I spotted an old trunk being thrown down to the ground from the back of a lorry. Half open, I could see it contained some old textiles - so I began to rummage through whilst holding my torch under my arm. I came out of that trunk much dirtier than I went in but I was clutching a couple of finds.  It was after 8 before I went into the local cafe for my first coffee of the day - but  I couldn't stay long as I had to get back on the road towards  my way to the next flea market  - and repeat the whole process again.

I got home after noon looking like I had slept the previous night at the back of a supermarche amongst the bins. Once the car was unloaded I immediately went into 'listing' mode - and spent the entire afternoon photographing and describing my finds.

So,....  Madame Wells now can climb onto her shabby chic Gustavian grey soap box and, to that rather ignorant lady, say the following.........

"No, Madam - excuse me. But I simply do not have the time to do as you suggest. I always sell my treasures just as they come through the door and, what's more, that`s how my buyers like them!"

At which point Madame Wells got down from her soap box mounted her ostrich and rode away into the sunset.............. 

(after which she had 120 macaroons and an eclair whilst being fanned by Johnny Depp in his passementerie- trimmed thong!)

A demain mes belles!!!