samedi 29 septembre 2012

Any excuse to go back to Venice..

As if I ever need an excuse to fuel my addiction for Venice!! I have just discovered this press piece.

Oooooooooooh la la!  The Cafe Florian has a room I haven`t sen yet!

Italy's oldest coffee house has opened the doors to one of its most opulent halls once again after restoring it to its former glory.
Caffe Florian first opened on San Marco Square in Venice in 1720 as a place for Venetians to taste hot chocolate, a symbol of wealth, against a backdrop of exquisite murals. 
However, after nearly three centuries of being open to the elements, the coffee house closed the doors to one of its rooms, the Hall of the Illustrious Men, for restoration.
The Hall of the Illustrious Men at the Caffe Florian on San Marco Square in Venice, Italy, has reopened after an extensive restoration
The Hall of the Illustrious Men at the Caffe Florian on San Marco Square in Venice, Italy, has reopened after an extensive restoration

The coffee house first opened in 1720 and has welcomed famous visitors including Charles Dickens, Casanova and Lord Byron
The coffee house first opened in 1720 and has welcomed famous visitors including Charles Dickens, Casanova and Lord Byron
The hall is named after influential Venetian figures who are portrayed in the oil paintings.
Caffe Florian also has a number of other magnificent rooms.
The Room of Season or of Mirrors is often called 'The Restaurant' because it served as the coffee house's dining room in the 1930s.
The Oriental Room and the Chinese Room both feature oriental motifs and the Senate Room depicts scenes from the arts and sciences.
The Liberty Room is elegantly decorated with hand-painted mirrors.
    Caffe Florian became a popular coffee house in the 1800s where people met to discuss politics and culture.
    Over the years it has hosted many famous visitors including Charles Dickens and Lord Byron. 
    Caffe Florian also became Casanova's hunting ground because it was the only coffee house to admit women at the time.
    The Hall of the Illustrious Men is one of a number of rooms at the coffee house that is still open to the public
    The Hall of the Illustrious Men is one of a number of rooms at the coffee house that is still open to the public
    A portrait of Doge Pietro Orseolo, pictured left, is on display at the Hall of the Illustrious Men
     A view of the ceiling of the Sala degli Uomini Illustri (Hall of the Illustrious Men) in the Caffe Florian
    A portrait of Doge Pietro Orseolo, pictured left, is on display at the Hall of the Illustrious Men at Caffe Florian

    Checking the flights as we speak!!

    A demain mes belles

    vendredi 28 septembre 2012

    A few brocante treats........

    Just a few of the treats truffled this week!!

    Zinc panels from a chateau roof.

    A huge handworked Toile quilt.

    A zinc chateau roof finial.

    Old Paris department store chenille cottons.
    Divine mother of pearl rosaries.
    Ormolu cartouche.

    An ormolu rose embellished frame ...just delicieux!

    Scrumptious pure silk threads on old wooden spools.

    Just a little peek at a little corner of the haul mes belles!!

    As we speak there is a man in the garden with a plastic bucket collecting snails for his supper. I won`t be joining him on that one!!

    Bon weekend mes belles


    jeudi 27 septembre 2012

    You`ll have to carry on without me.............

    Mes belles,

    We left at 4am yesterday morning for a huge brocante......................and got back at 11pm last night in a crumpled heap!! 

    But, the car is packed to exploding with the most divine treasures. It was just " one of those good ones" where I fell over treasures all day.

    At the end of the day as we were carrying the last few bags of textiles back to the car we stopped for a last truffle at someones stand.

     We put our bags on the floor and the tiniest Chinese man you have ever seen dived in them and started sorting through what we had bought! He didn`t speak any French or English and we have no Chinese so we couldn`t communicate as he started pulling things out and making a pile by his feet. 

    As he was so small I did consider lifting him into the bag and zipping him inside. He was wearing the thickest spectacles you have ever seen - almost like the bottoms of coca cola bottles - so I could have just breathed on them and run! 

    Much to everyone`s amusement we managed eventually to gesticulate that they were "our" purchases and were not part of the stand holder`s stock.

    What is the Chinese for " Go truffle your own treasures Shorty!!"  ?

    I have two pairs of divine large toile curtains still on the old rails with all the fittings, endless textiles, trims, silk door curtains, a large tapestry,frothy old parchment books, textile roses morceaux, and fripperies to die for. Including the silk bag with the reliquary locket above.

    You will have to carry on without me today as I can hardly string a sentence together and normal service will be resumed tomorrow when I shall get the camera out!!

    Why does Blogger keep putting up much larger bold text in the middle of a blog for no reason? I am not shouting honestly....i don`t have the energy today!

    Yours in a great heap totally useless for the day.....perhaps chocolate will help?


    mardi 25 septembre 2012

    Haberdashery!! haberdashery!!!

    I have just been glued to the television for first episode of the new period drama The Paradise................

    Was I glued to the plot? Well...............sort of ! But, I confess I was glued to each scene looking for the 19th century Paris ribbons, trims and fripperies I supplied to their costume and set buyers last year!!

    Now I have to watch it weekly looking at the sets and props!!

    A la prochaine mes belles

    vendredi 21 septembre 2012

    Brace yourselves mes belles..........

    Brace yourselves mes belles!  Today we are going to be ramonaged! 

    No luxury of having town gas or central heating for us marsh dwellers!!

    Log fires and huge chimneys are " de rigueur" !

    So every Autumn cometh the ramonager - the chimney sweep.

    "N'oubliez pas, Madame, d'embrasser votre ramoneur, 
    ce qui d'après la légende vous portera bonheur et chance !"

    ( Do not forget madame to embrace your chimney sweep for, according to legend, he will bring you happiness and luck)

     Monsieur Jacques is our ramoneur. He is coming to clean the immense chimney in the cuisine before we light our stove, Hercule, for winter.

    In France you are required to obtain a certificate each year to show that your chimney has been swept. If you were unfortunate enough to have a chimney fire ( heaven forbid!) and you had no certificate to show that you had been 'ramonaged', then your house insurance would be void.

    Please ,please....don`t let there be a huge whoosh of soot down the chimney into the cuisine!! Or, thinking about previous events, no birds or huge buzzing hornet nests either!

    I shall not be embracing Monsieur Jacques today even if it will bring me luck; he has the piercing eyes of a psychopath  ( or a "cycle-path" as my dear mother used to say) and the beard of a nanny goat.

    Bon weekend mes belles

    jeudi 20 septembre 2012

    I did tell you not to leave me unsupervised....

    I did tell you not to leave me unsupervised as I would start fiddling didn`t I?

    The old pig pen attached to the house is fast becoming my new duck egg blue office and stock room so it is time to look in all those boxes I have stashed away forever and a day.

    I found some scrumptious little treasures too small to list on Ebay, but, too wonderful not to do anything with so as soon as my eyes met the bon bon jar it was sorted!!

    Do you know what it looks like this menopausal old moo is having for Christmas? A hysterectomy....does that make it a Christorectomy? Believe me I would rather paint my derriere purple and stick hatpins in my ears to get out of it. Any excuses I make to the doctor not to lose what my mother called "Phillipine tubes" is falling on deaf ears. Any suggestions of how to escape it would be most welcome!

    If am trying to delay it until Christmas as at least there will be no brocantes to miss and I can recover by the log fire reading 17th century bodice rippers set in Venice.

    ( Like the one I am currently engrossed in - beautiful girl gets put in convent by family who cannot afford a dowry to marry her off - girl is hired out by corrupt nuns to aristocratic men - girl falls pregnant so she is no longer of value- girl rebels- nuns keep her in cold cell in isolation - girl stabs nun with icicle from window - girl is strapped unable to move on a board and carried to Rialto bridge where she assumes she will be thrown to her death - girl faints - wakes naked in a bath tub surrounded by 10 silent men.... .etc etc!)

    A demain mes belles

    samedi 15 septembre 2012

    And breathe out ...and slowly deflate................

    Pssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst.......phew........... so I have deflated and I am over it. I think it was the lovely comments of support and the absolutely hysterically funny ones which made me laugh till I cried!! 
    [I found the last comment (from Sal) particularly interesting; so someone at Ebay does think you can use the words "shabby chic" to describe an item - which is exactly what I've been doing since Paris macaroons were invented!]

    Anyway......I awoke from my shabby chic slumber in my shabby chic boudoir this morning and tripped merrily in my shabby chic chemise to my shabby chic salle de bain for a shabby chic tinkle. The shabby chic birds were singing in the shabby chic garden and the shabby chic sun was shining. 

    I skipped shabbichiccily over my lawn to hang out some washing to find it teaming with shabby chic bright green frogs for some reason! I had to be really careful where I put my feet! They were all heading back towards the marsh but where had they been? Had there been some kind of shabby chic frog party last night?

    There was nothing for to town for a shabby chic cafe and croissant amande and to sit and watch the shabby chic shoppers go by!!

    I also bought my favourite magazine..........

    No copyright problem on their front page, it seems! Perhaps it's the language change; "my shabby chic" translated into French becomes "mon shabby chic"!

    And also,  naughty as it was - a copy of the French gossip magazing showing Katherine`s boobie doos on display to see what the fuss is about back in the UK. 

    Honestly, if I had boobie doos like that I would be topless all day long. Everyone would have them shoved in their face from the postman to Monsieur Renauld at the patisserie!!! Mr Renauld starts baking at 3 am every day so if you go in there anytime after 12 noon he is like a walking zombie; he may not even notice my boobie doos on display and might think they were rum babas!

    I have decided to give myself a day off from catching up with all those lost listings and will concentrate on trying to find all the treasures I have had hidden over the past three years or so for our new salon. It is the bare bones at the moment but as we have gone from this........

    to this.................. will see why I am SO pleased. But where have I packed away all those cushions, urns and frou frou pieces?

    Talking of Frou Frou ( as in Miss Frou Frou my daughter) I am a little concerned because she has bought a hen house and an incubator and is talking rare breeds. I will look after her adorable dog "Count Kipper" when she goes overnight brocanting but I draw the line at a host of chickens............especially rare ones who cannot speak French.

    And to make this lovely day complete,  Mark recorded the New Zealand-South Africa rugby game purposely so I could get to watch the Haka.  Just love it!!

    Off brocanting very early in the morning mes belles.....coming with me?


    vendredi 14 septembre 2012

    I may explode with anger...........

    'Madame Chateau' storms onto her blogsite - furious and breathing fire!!! She kicks the chair, grinds her teeth and swears like a fish wife. The on.

    Mid-way through listing her treasures today Madame realised that more than half of her Ebay items were missing! A subsequent email received from Ebay stated that the listings have been removed because she had violated regulations, and breached a person's copyright - by using the word "Shabby Chic" in her descriptions.

    A quick search on Ebay under " shabby chic" shows in excess of 80,000 other items quite happily sitting there - and using the words "shabby chic".

    An immediate telephone call to Ebay and it transpired that the Rachel Ashwell Vero regulations team are currently on the warpath via Ebay for sellers using the words "shabby chic"; and it seems simply-chateau is their "chosen culprit" this week.  Well, whoop di doo!!!

    Madame asked if she could access the removed listings simply to alter them as it has taken her a whole week to do the photographs and wordings. But " No....sorry," they have gone" was the response. It even would have been nice to receive a warning from Ebay that listings were to be removed - but nothing so courteous as that!

    Madame was advised that if managed to obtained a letter from the Rachel Ashwell team giving her permission to use "shabby chic" then they would instantly reinstate the listings.

    Having been a loyal Ebay seller week in week out for over 12 years Madame and asked whether could they not allow her a little grace to access the listings just to alter them? ...even for 5 minutes?.....but no! They could not relist them  - but, ironically, would be able to do so if they received an 'approval' letter from the Rachel Ashwell Team.

    Madame walked away from the laptop and both her bustle and head exploded in anger.

    A little later she had adjusted her wig, tightened her corsets, re-attached her bustle and returned to her laptop to start to re-do all her listings but omitting any reference to "shabby chic".

    So if you find her subsequent  listings populated with the words  'shabbi chic'; shabee chic'; 'shabby chique'; shabee chique; shabby sheek; shabby & chic'll know why - and what she actually is trying to say!

    It has been suggested that the Vero team should stick the words of "shabby chic" up their derriere as swiftly as possible. I would not complain if they did!


    But I do say good luck to this person who is clearly not going to take it lying down....(press link below)

    Bon weekend mes belles

    lundi 10 septembre 2012

    Grande Maison de Blanc.............

    I found this wonderful old Paris advertisement today for the GRANDE MAISON DE BLANC....

    Dowry linens and trousseaux linens woven to order. If only they were still open today!!! 

    I would order sheets , tablecloths and matching table napkins all embroidered with a scrolled SC !

    What would you order mes belles?


    jeudi 6 septembre 2012

    Sweet dreams...................

    At the end of the day what's better than a long, lazy hot bath with your favourite soap housed in a beautiful soap dish............... that is a maquette of Marie Antoinette`s  own baignoire at Versailles!

    Then.............slip into the finest of linens - a frou frou frilled chemise with ruffles and lace trim.

    And finally light the candle to see your way to bed.........................

    Close the shutters, untie the ribbons from the embroidered drapes in your boudoir................

 your petite, vellum-covered book until your eyes become heavy and you fall soundly asleep...........

    to dream the sweetest of dreams!!

    Just a few of my latest treasures!!

    A la prochaine mes belles

    lundi 3 septembre 2012

    Still beating myself up......................

    In July at a huge antiques trade fair I stumbled over ( literally!) a huge Aubusson carpet rolled at the back of a dealers stand. I have not missed this fair for over 15 years, so I know he is not a regular dealer at this brocante and I had never seen him before. 

    He told me that he had come to unload old stock to raise some cash for the forthcoming traditional French month long vacance in August.  He wanted to disappear to Cannes and toast himself for 4 weeks. He eagerly began to unroll the carpet for me to see and I was thinking "Ouch! ....this is going to be into the thousands!"

    He unrolled and unrolled and it became clear that the Aubusson was at least 30 feet square. It filled his stand and splayed over the next dealers stand too!

     Much too big for me and also much too heavy for even three  or four of us to lift and man handle ( and woman handle!)  to our car. Plus when we got to the car it would never have gone inside!

    However, It was very very beautiful, soft muted shades and in good condition. But, I declined without asking the price due to the size. As I walked away he shouted after me " Madam.. 300 euros if you want it". ($380 or 

    That should have stopped me in my tracks but....guess what? Like a idiot I declined again and carried on walking!

    Four weeks later I am still beating myself up as I realise it would have fit our bedroom almost perfectly ( the room next on the decorating list). What on earth was I thinking?!!! I could have found a way to get it home.

    So having this wonderful carpet on my mind day and night, I remembered I did have an old rug that I loved tucked away in the barns. I went to find it knowing that it would have been a good home for a passing mouse or two but was dusty but all intact.

    I spent the next hour with the jet wash and shampoo giving it a blast and it is now out drying in the sun.

    Not really a consolation for the Aubusson but it will have to do!!!

    Any dealer who tells you they never make a mistake is  not being truthful! We all make mistakes and will continue to do so! It`s all part of the learning process!

    Another kick to myself...........thud!.....take that you idiot!!!

    A demain mes  belles

    p.s The "A" word is banned until I have recovered!!

    dimanche 2 septembre 2012

    Tiny eyes...............

    I don`t know what it is with me some days brocanting! Sometimes I will get home to unload my treasures to discover I have had my "green eyes" or my " blue eyes"  on and eveything has the same hue.

     It`s obviously something hiding in my subconsciousness  ( or is that ....unconsciousness at such an early hour?!!)

    Back at home after a 5am start this morning, I now realise that today I had on my "tiny eyes" and I must have homed in on the smallest of treasures all morning! 

    Petite gilded perfume bottle stoppers.

    Tiny monogrammed brooches.

    Republique Francaise medallions.

    My bags were certainly not heavy to carry this morning and here is my favourite tiny treasure!!

    An adorable and minute antique charm that has a tiny thimble, an etui that actually opens and a pair of scissors.

    But you do know what this means don`t you? No two weeks are ever the same .Next week I will have my " huge eyes" on and will come home with an armoire strapped to my back......perhaps I should stay "chez nous" next week!!! 

    Bonne Dimanche mes belles