samedi 28 avril 2012

Frothy, feathery,old tea colour, foxed & fantastique!!!

I absolutely adore old timeworn French books. I love them piled high on a shelf or table. Gorgeous tied with a ribbon or old hemp string.

But then.................I also adore them like this.............

I have found this tutorial on "youtube" that explains how to make is the link. ( press on arrow to start).

For years I have walked past the batches at brocantes  as I thought they were not " full books". What was I thinking? I have a huge pile from an attic clearance and I now I realise what I have been missing!!

Now then..................have you seen my glue?

A demain mes belles!!


lundi 23 avril 2012

Monsieur Escargot..............

It may still be raining but...........

You are still not coming in! Use your own maison Monsieur Escargot!!!

A demain mes belles


dimanche 22 avril 2012

Truffling in the rain...........

Off to the brocante at 6am this morning but the rain was so bad we almost turned back halfway. When we finally arrived I was pleased to see that some hardy brocanters had unloaded their treasures.
We managed to run from stand to stand sheltering under their large parasols as we went.
Cold and lashing rain but who cares when there are shabby chic delights to be truffled!!!

Who cares if the rain makes old iron even more rusty? This chair had a divine look!

This wonderful old broken barometer was showing "Beau temps" .....
I was certainly having a "beau temps" ......up to my neck in brocante!!

The rain did stop very briefly....
and I met and fell in love................with a wonderful monsieur!!! Look at that wet nose!!

Some mademoiselles can still look divine truffling in the rain...( note the man bag of her beau!!)

Just as we were about to give up the sun broke through.....

So like this other gorgeous monsieur we shook ourselves off and started again!!!

A la prochaine mes belles

mercredi 18 avril 2012

Bamboo , the bad boy and the poor Baron du Breuil.............

As we speak I am feeling pretty guilty! I had a phone call last week from a friend Tom who lives in the UK who mentioned he would be coming over soon to blitz his garden.  He wanted to try and thin out the huge bamboo plants that have grown at his holiday home here for many years.

That was music to my ears as I have always admired those huge wonderful 14 foot high shimmering plants and I know that they are hardy enough to withstand the wind lashing across the marsh here in the Winter.  I had read that they will even survive in Alaska so the Normandie marsh should be simple!

Tom said he was more than happy for me to take away as much as I wanted.  I really haven`t been so excited since I was 12 years old and got on the boy scouts coach by mistake at the girl scouts outing!

We arrived at Toms cottage and there was no reply at the door. We shouted but no reply again and found our way to the garden where we found him slumped on the lawn as white as a ghost with his hand bleeding profusely.

We gathered him up and took him inside the cottage to dress his hand and he explained that he had managed to cut some bamboo short leaving just the strong shards at the bottom and as the roots were so strong he had hacked down into the soil with his pick axe. His hand had slipped and two shards had pierced his palm and the back of his fingers at the same time.

We soon realised that a little home first aid wasn`t going to be enough so we wrapped his hand and then spent a long few hours at the local hospital whilst he was stitched and tidied.

I did however come home with my bamboo which is now all happily planted and Tom went back to the UK all bandaged up!!

The next problem is Charles Le Baron du Breuil. We are so remote here that he has never seen another cat and he thinks he is a dog. But a few weeks ago we saw a huge fluffy black stray cat in the garden late at night. It ran away as soon as it saw us and we haven`t seen it since. But ever since then Charles has started to rub his face frantically on the stone of the house and all around the garden. So much so that the skin in front of both his ears is becoming red raw.

 Any suggestions? A crash helmet?

Finally at the local market this morning the madame that sells the fresh veg was delighted to try out her new English words on us.

 As I handed over my euros she said " Thank you good girl" and as we made our way through the crowds she shouted after Mark at the top of her voice "Goodbye bad boy! ". Bad boy? That makes me giggle and you know I am going to use that at every opportunity!!

Its been a long, long Winter here and I am so glad the brocantes are coming back now. Frou Frou has gone into cup cake making overdrive......what is she on? Every day she is baking like a lunatic. Mostly pink icing and decorated to the hilt. Save us! No more please!!!

A demain mes belles

dimanche 15 avril 2012

As smooth as the lagoon.....

Bonjour mes belles!! I have not been kidnapped as several of you have asked! I have been distracted ( or is that driven to distraction?) sourcing old haberdashery items for a period drama set in the late 1800s that is to be screened on TV in the UK next year.

You all know of my passion for Venice and its amazing history - and recently, in my odd quiet moment, I have escaped work to read "The Glassblower of Murano" by Marina Fiorat.  It`s the kind of book that  I cannot bear to put down;  but then I cannot bear to read it either as it will be over too quickly! I hope you know what I mean.

When we took the vaporetto ( water-bus) from Venice to the Island of Murano in Venice last year I hated the brash-looking glass shops which now line the one main street.  But  I could still feel the underlying, immensely enchanting history of the place as we wandered through the old crumbling buildings. I wanted to know more - and this book certainly fuels my passions, and meets that need.

In the 1200s the Council of Ten that ruled Venice banished all of the glass production to the island of Murano because of the fire hazard to a city built predominantly of wood.

 The glassmakers  were literally kept as prisoners on Murano for the fear that other countries would discover the 'secrets' of their glass creations. The artists, known as "maestri",  were forbidden to practise their craft in any other place.  To ensure that the maestris' secrets were never revealed, harsh sentences were meted out to individuals who leaked secrets to foreigners or left Venice without official permission.

The best maestri produced glass daggers for the Council of Tens assassins - daggers with deadly points that could enter the skin with no effort at all. Each was designed so that the shaft handle would snap off after the fatal wound had been delivered and hardly a mark would remain.
Such intrigue and danger!!!

Venetian mercury mirrors of the 17th and 18th centuries were highly prized and it was said that the best mirrors were as smooth and as still as the Venice lagoon at midnight. The meastri creators of these mercury mirrors were highly guarded and many of them went to early graves, their glass-making secrets still with them,  as the mercury they used to silver the looking glasses entered their lungs and they died young.

In the 17th century King Louis of France, wanted to decorate his palace at Versailles with the most extravagant splendour, demanding only the very best glass for the amazing Hall of Mirrors.

In order to maintain the integrity of his philosophy which required that all items used in the decoration of Versailles be made in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert enticed several Venetian glass makers to move to France and make mirrors at the 'Manufacture Royale de Glaces de Miroirs'. According to legend the government of the Venetian Republic, in order to keep its monopoly on its glass making traditions, sent agents to France to poison the workers whom Colbert had brought to France. More intrigue...............

It is rare that I find genuine old mercury glass pieces truffling around the brocantes. But this morning I did happen to stumble on this amazing 19th century mercury- glass Vierge figure.

Reproduction mercury glass, with its harsh,cold light, is in plentiful supply, but this figurine is a geuine period piece. It has a warm, deep twinkling reflection, the mercury having gently distressed and worn with age smooth as the lagoon at midnight!

Is this my subconcious at work - or is Venice calling me again?

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

samedi 7 avril 2012

Les Pâques heureux................Happy Easter

The water has slowly receded on the marsh at the bottom of our garden and I know that Spring is here as the farmer has returned a few cows to graze.

....................can you spot.........................

....the odd one out?

The storks are back and they are huge!! Some of them stand taller than the baby heffers!
I had a feeling they had returned as Mark told me that there were some enormous "herrings" ( he meant herons!) flying over our chimney.

I wonder if they lay "chocolat" eggs for Easter?

Happy Easter or Bonne fetes de Paques !

mercredi 4 avril 2012

A little bit of England in Paris......................

I am working my way through a small attic clearance of wonderful items that belonged to a very chic Mademoiselle. She had stashed away some amazing shop leaflets.

This brochure dating from the early 1900s made me laugh so much!

If you were in Paris in the late 1800s and early 1900s but couldn`t live without your English essentials there was a wonderful store called "OLD ENGLAND" on the Boulevard Des Cappucines.

They stocked a whole array of typical Victorian English supplies. Their grocery department stocked everything ..........mock turtle soup, Bath biscuits,pear drops, potted shrimps, Worcestershire sauce,Piccalili,Cadburys chocolate and the list goes on.

If you were an English gentleman who couldn`t live without your dumb bells ,chest expander, cricket equipment,  boxing gloves and walking cane the whole array was on offer...............

Fine English leather Luggage........

Ladies hats that were much more reserved in style than the Paris confections....................

Cycling items.................

English oil lamps............

But most of all I love .......

"THE ECLIPSE SAFETY CAR"....................

Did it come with a young English boy to pull it along too?

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