lundi 27 février 2012

Some of yesterdays treasures...........Adieu mon coeur!

A whole day trawling the brocantes and street markets yesterday................heaven!! I lost my heart so many times.....Adieu mon coeur!

I found this 1920s hand-painted linen boudoir doll face ............
I don`t think it has ever been used and was wrapped in old tea coloured tissue paper.
She would be perfect for a restoration project.

Delicious shabby old tin candle holders with spring clips...............

still wax covered....I wonder when it was that they last transformed a Christmas tree into a twinkling delight?
A host of trousseau monogram stamps.

Divine old school work books.

Old sepia ink documents and manuscripts dating from the 1600s with some delicious wax seals still intact.

Couronne crowns are always a wonderful find!
A scrumptious vintage Italian wedding cake box with a train label for Nice and then on to Grasse in Provence.

Regal medals with ribbons.

Divine old trousseau linens with handworked monograms.

Religious medals with their old soft blue ribbons still attached.

Old jewellers postage boxes still with red wax seals.

A host of softly coloured 19th century boudoir prints...........Grand amour at the ball.................

Mademoiselle is gently awoken by her maid..........
Le Coucher............Mademoiselle is helped to her slumber by her servants.
The suitor waits whilst his Mademoiselle is pampered.

Don`t you just adore Sundays and a host of brocantes filled with treasures?

samedi 25 février 2012

Digger cheats death at the chateau !!!!!

We have been travelling for a few days and returned to the chateau late last night to find that the new staircase that will lead up to the second floor has been installed. At the moment it is a staircase to nowhere as it leads onto a few open beams that will eventually be a floor. At the moment the beams are open slats and the floor is way below - so you can stand at the top of the stairs and look down to the rooms below.

Sir Digbert Fanshaw Brownshaw has been staying with his friend Reggie while we have been away so I have just been to collect him.

We arrived home and before I could stop him he ran up the staircase like a rocket. He couldn`t stop at the top and kept going at which point I started screaming waiting for the sickening thud as he hit the floor of the room below. But somehow he had managed to cling onto a beam and I scrambled up the staircase just managing to lean across and lift him off to safety.

Most of you know what that boy means to me!! Phew! That staircase will stay firmly locked off until there is a floor at the end of those steps.

Perhaps he was hoping to become the stunt double for Uggie of the film the Artist?

I think not!!! He is much safer being a couch potato!!!

A la prochaine mes belles.............

lundi 20 février 2012

As one door closes...............

I have severe, some might say, 'incurable brocantitis'! Unfortunately, during the winter there are very few flea markets and street brocantes here in rural Normandie. I suffer from withdrawal symptoms and often experience a very bad bout of this incurable illness!

Yesterday morning was one of the rare occasions when there actually was a street brocante advertised.  We were up at 6am and, after scraping the ice from the car, off into the darkness we went, excited with expectation of what I might truffle. We met the 'Frou Frous' on the way and  travelled in one car. Well....some of us travelled; others in the car slept! As the dawn broke the countryside looked  beautiful caked in white with thick frost.

We arrived at the town some 45 minutes later only to be met with what was the aftermath of the town's annual carnival weekend.  We initially had no idea what had been happening -  driving through roads strewn with the debris of streamers, confetti, and litter - and passing a few stragglers from the night before looking much the worse for wear.

Approaching the town square, I saw many vans parked up on both sides of the street. However, as we drew closer I noticed that they seemed to be up packing and not unloading. I then realised they were not brocanteurs at all; they were catering vans from the night before. A quick word with the locals confirmed that the brocante had been cancelled that weekend because of the carnival! I was desolate!!

Despite being one to make the best of things, even I was struggling with this one as the rising sun started to light up the town! Frou Frou just groaned, pulled her hat over her eyes, curled up again in a ball on the back seat and went back to sleep!

We had no alternative but to turn around  and return home. Driving along and still reeling with disappointment I remembered that, several years ago at a textile fair, a charming French lady had given me her card saying she might have a couple things I might like. I didn`t think she lived too far away so I truffled out the card and gave her a call not really holding out much hope. To my delight, Madame said that she would love tosee  us if we made our way over to her house. 

Stopping briefly for hot chocoalte and croissants amandes  I started feeling a little more hopeful - and we resumed our journey. 

We arrived at a tiny village and found that her shop was tucked away at the back of a delicious old borgeoise house.

The shop was brimming with small treasures and jewellery confections; things were looking up. I then spotted the stairs in the corner and made my way up into the attic.  And what I saw at the top of the stairs simply took my breath away!!!  It was full, floor to ceiling, with period textiles, trims, costumes, ribbons. might have a "COUPLE" things I might want?!!!
You can see what I mean below;  the pics. enlarge by clicking on them!

I put my head over the bannister and told everyone quite calmly, " you might want to come up here".

So..... to cut a long story short.... we spent a few hours like truffle pigs in a forest. I had my snout in every box and we filled the car to the brim.

Here are just a tiny few of the treasures I bought home.  I didn`t really get to look at Frou Frous finds as her boxes were already filled to the brim and in the boot by the time I got back to the car!

No street brocante? Who cares?!!! This place has been literally under my nose for all these years and it had never been truffled!! it has!

A la prochaine mes belles...........

samedi 18 février 2012

I really am sorry, Billy................

Setting the scene........

I rustle up the red carpet in a long tafetta dress (wearing magic "hold it all in knickers" underneath) and I am blinded by the flashlights of the paparazzi ( who have mistaken me for one of "the before" pictures at a weightwatchers conference); eventually,  I take the stage.

I would like to thank Carrad of the wonderful blog  'FADED REVERIE'   for awarding me the "Versatile Blogger" Award and, in line with that, I shall tell you the required 7 things about myself that you do not know ( or I hope you didn't know until now!!)

1. As a child ( in the 60s) there was an old air raid shelter in the garden made with corrugated iron and held together with bolts. My brother, Alan, used to sit me on top and I used to spend hours sliding down off the roof - great fun! One day I tried to slide off after Alan had gone home - but, to my dismay, I stopped almost as soon as I had begun to slide; the elastic of my knickers had got caught on one of the bolts. I hung there for what seemed like a lifetime as I was too small to hoist myself back up. Eventually my mother came looking for me - and saved me. Hence my aversion to wearing knickers - and I have very rarely worn them since!

2. This really links to the last item - again concerning knickers. When I was 18 years of age I caught the 8.15 bus into work every morning. I was very much into 'fifties' clothing at the time and was wearing a dress with a very full skirt. I always went and sat upstairs on the bus and on arriving near my stop one morning I began to make my way down the stairs. Unfortunately, the driver had opened the folding doors earlier than normal - and it just happened to be quite a windy day. As I reached the bottom of the stairs the wind caught my dress - and it blew right up over my head. The man coming down the stairs behind me wasn't watching what he was doing and promptly trod on my dress which was at my shoulder level, trapping it under his foot and covering my face. For what seemed like a lifetime I stood in full view of all those people who had chosen to sit downsatirs - obviously the "ringside seats" for this early morning spectacle!! I can tell you that I spent the rest of my office career walking to work, whatever the weather!!

3. I told everyone here today that I was going outside in the garden to "motograph my fannekin"!!  Worryingly. they all said 'okay' like I had said nothing wrong and were used to me mixing my worms up all the time!

4. I very rarely drink alcohol. When I do, it only takes two glasses of wine to tell my brain that I can do a very good Shirley Bassey impression if there is a feather boa to hand;  and I have also been known to attempt to do the odd Michael Flatley Riverdance steps after a few glasses too.

5. I am not proud of this one. When I was two I inherited my brothers old red tin pedal car. I apparently used "Billy" the family pet tortoise as a ramp - and he did not fare too well after that - becoming an ex-tortoise. I have heard that, after death, you always come back as something you have mis-treated in your lifetime - so I know that in my next life I will have a shell and a wrinkly neck ( It seems I've already starting getting one of those already - where's the anti-wrinkle cream?)

6.I have always seen, or try to see, the funny side of everything - and I know that I sometimes laugh when I shouldn`t. I can remember my Grandma being so frustrated with me laughing that she shouted " YOU ,young lady,would laugh if your head caught fire!!" Needless to say I found this hysterical and, to my utter disgust, I was sent to my bedroom.

7. I was one month late going into labour with Frou Frou and was eventually called in to be induced. Honestly, I felt no pain whatsoever, it was over in 2 hours and I never felt a thing. I did apparently get through 2 bottles of gas and air which was divine and probably had something to do with it!  If I could buy it at the supermarche I would have some linked up to my desk!

I was so "out of it" I never even asked if I had given birth to a boy or girl but simply asked " Is that it? Have I done it?".

I had one of those special maternity nightgowns with slits in the front for breastfeeding and I can vaguely remember my father-in-law being first into the visiting room just after the birth when I had it all my bits on display - and didn't give a figgy pudding! Not sure whether he ever recovered though!

and so...... finally.......

7.5 ( 7.5 because I got the numbering wrong further up when I check-read through!!) I once went to a brocante with a friend and we decided as we entered that we would split up; one of us would go off to the right and the other would head left, arranging to meet at the far end of the shop and discover who had found the best item. I saw a full-size stuffed stag  with enormous antlers and decided, for a joke, that I would pick it up and reveal it to my friend  saying " I have chosen..............I have chosen". Unfortunately I only realised after starting to lift it up, that its legs were filled with wood - and I simply couldn`t hold the weight. I toppled backwards and my friend turned to see what the commotion as - her eyes resting on me lying on my back and pinned to the floor by a huge stag! She laughed so much that she couldn't offer any help to me at all; instead she simply collapsed on a sofa in fits of screaming laughter leaving me pinned on the floor - and that was how the  shop owner found us. Like the bus, I never went back!

So thats a little of me....nothing out of the ordinary.  I suppose I could have told you about "wobbly nun" but I may be struck down by time perhaps?

 Now who to pass this award to? Who do I want to know 7 facts about? Brace yourselves mes belles!!

jeudi 16 février 2012

I want those doors and I want them NOW!!!

I apologise for the lack of blogging but now that the freezing cold spell of weather is over the chateau renovations are off again at a great pace.

There are floors being laid, walls being plastered, a staircase being erected and endless lorries arriving with building materials.

It is all at that stage where you can really see things taking shape and as the rooms evolve I am constantly out there having new ideas ( I can hear them all groaning when I do) , changing my mind ( womans perogative) and just standing and looking (poking my nose)  trying to imagine the finished thing.

Sometimes at dusk when everyone has gone I go and stand amongst the rubble and think " Oh heavens...............what have we taken on?"!

I really wanted to add these old town doors to the end of the sitting room. With their cast iron grilles and old tinkling door bell like a bicycle bell they are simply divine.

Pierre the builder thought they would not look right................

But I refused to crumble so in they went.......................

and now the plasterboards are up and I can see what it will be like when the room is plastered  I know that they are perfect.

A visiting friend asked if I am going to have them stripped and painted like new. When I told her I am just going to wax them to retain the old paint finish she looked at me like I had lost my head!!

I actually think I will be 93 years old before we get to start on the old cottage at the end of the garden!! I am just hoping it doesn`t crumble before we get to it!!

I am no nearer solving the Caroline Endres mystery box from my last blog. All I have managed to discover is that her father was of German origin and his name was Otto Endres and he migrated to New York in the late 1800s.

So..............whilst I am so preoccupied here is the link to Frou Frou`s newly plump Etsy shop.....

She is definitely a chip off the old block, tassel off the old curtain, monogram off the old sheet or whatever you like to call it!!

Whoa.....the girl did good!!!

vendredi 10 février 2012

A mystery of Titanic proportions !!!

So ... mes belles....get your thinking chapeaux on. How do we proceed with this?

A few weeks ago I bought this old 1900s carved trinket box mainly for the little bisque sailor doll which was inside it.

As I walked away the vendor told me that the name on the box was that of lady who had been on the ill-fated Titanic". I just thought it was a sales tactic and really didn`t think anymore about.

Later that day, out of curiosity more than anything else, I typed the name Caroline Endres into an internet search - and what came up did make me sit up and pay attention!!!

                                                                   Caroline Endres

Caroline Endres was indeed a 'Titanic' survivor. I discovered that she had been the private nurse to one of the richest ladies on the Titanic, Mrs Madeleine Astor - wife of the American John Astor lV, one of the most famous and well-known businessmen of the time.  I learned that Miss Endres had boarded at Cherbourg, her 1st class passenger ticket, number 17757,  costing  £247 10s 6d and paid for by the newly wed Mrs and Mrs Astor who had been travelling on their honeymoon.

                                                             The Astors

She got in lifeboat No. 4 together with Mrs Astor and they survived;  sadly Mr Astor and his Valet perished.

                                                                         Mademoiselle Bidois

Caroline Endres was unmarried (as was the requirement at the time for nurses and maids to be so).  Also in the party travelling with Mrs Astor was her French maid Mademoiselle Roasalie Bidois  - who also managed to climb into lifeboat 4 and survived.
So, on reading all this,  it suddenly all became very interesting. I managed to track down the vendor again who told me that he had found the box in his grandfather's attic when he was clearing out his house after his death.

He has no idea why the box was there and told me he knows nothing on his  side of the family. I asked him how he had tied the box to the Titanic and he replied saying that there had been an old newspaper in the box about the disaster  - but he had thrown it away thinking it was not important!!

And there on the red silk inside the box are the small fragments of an old newspaper;    but I cannot make out any words!

I have also discovered that Caroline Endres had returned to New York on the 'CARPATHIA' with Mrs Astor and other survivors and stayed for a short while in the employment of Mrs Astor. After then the trail goes cold, although I have found out she never married so there are no relatives to help with the story.

I have found an old news story dated 1912 which comments on the brother of Caroline being overjoyed when he heard that she was safe, adding  that it had been her seventh trip across the Atlantic.

I have also read that the Astors planned their long honeymoon travelling to  Egypt and back via Europe and  it was during this trip that the new Mrs Astor had became pregnant and had employed Caroline as her private nurse. As they wanted the baby to be born in America they travelled up through France stopping in Paris and then on to Cherbourg to go home in style on the new luxury, 'unsinkable' Titanic.

So..............I need to try to find whether there is a link between this box and the Caroline Endres who survived the 'Titanic' disaster. If it is her box why was it still here in France? Did she leave it behind or did she obtain it at a later date, if she ever returned to France? Was it a present bought for her by Mrs Astor which, for some reason or another, was left in France? .........................where to go next?

I have a sinking feeling that we may never solve the mystery.