mardi 30 octobre 2012

I would like to thank.............

'Madame du chateau' steps nervously on to the stage, tears streaming down her face, but takes a deep breath and finally manages to compose herself before addressing the crowded auditorium:

" I did not create that steak and onion pie for this or any other accolade. Indeed there are very many more finer cooks than me. It was purely an accident that the pie got out of hand and happened to end up in a pie dish bigger than a Paris taxi drivers wallet!  A pie so big in fact that it had to be shared with anyone unfortunate enough to call at the chateau that fateful day. So several visitors were given a fond farewell on their departure, laden with foil-wrapped parcels as heavy as a set of 'petanque' balls -  and for that I now apologise most humbly"

She falters, lets out a sob and grabs the podium to steady herself before continuing........

" But to open a parcel this morning to find this wonderful award from the Collins household is purely a wonderful honour. An award I shall sport with a ribbon at every possible occasion. 

It seems like only yesterday ( although it was 40 years ago) that I, a young Miss Fellows, was thrown out of cookery classes at  school for making soup that would not leave the bowl [which incidentally turned out to be useful in later life when it came to mixing cement!] Instead I was forced to study German. To that domestic science teacher I say today......ACHTUNG!!!  Take that, you old battleaxe!

I was even more elated to find that the Collins household had personalised my award on the reverse with a marker pen."

(She sobs again and smooths down her lace apron). 

"I should like to thank the ready made pastry company, the boucherie department in the supermarche and, finally, Antoinette - the chicken that laid the egg to glaze the top".

As she begins to leave the stage the flash of paparazzi cameras cause her to stumble on the steps and fall into the laps of Daniel Craig and Johnny Depp. 

" Hello boys.....fancy some of my home made pie?" she whispers."

A demain, mes belles

lundi 29 octobre 2012

The Monday blues..............

I seem to have had a bad case of the blues at the brocante yesterday!!

But it wasn`t anything to be miserable about!!

A demain mes belles

mercredi 24 octobre 2012

Truffling in the brouillard...............

We got into the car at the crack of dawn, locked the gates and set off for the brocante.

We had travelled less than 100 yards when we hit the "brouillard" .... very, very thick fog which then stayed with us for most of the journey. Mark had to concentrate really hard throughout the two and a half hour journey to see the road. How I managed to snore most of the way there fast asleep I will never know. I really must ask him to concentrate quieter next time!!

The brocante, as always, was  fast and furious with what seemed like many more buyers than usual. The morning turned out to be the usual 'dash'  around the ground followed by the inevitable  "bun fight" for stock - but I was really pleased with the treasures I found and managed to come away with. 

Here are just a few.

A stunning hand painted silk portiere from the 1800s.

A 'delicieux' old gesso frame and wonderful 'couronnes'

Not just one tiny crown but two and.......

..........and a chatelaine embellished with a stork and butterflies.

And then, after a break for coffee, a magnificent 'ciel de lit' bed canopy........

...and, from an old, closed down Paris bijoutier jewellers shop, I found an array of jewellery stands.

and a box brimming with gorgeous tiny silver entwined monogram initials.

A sweet children's alphabet and numbers set....

and some tiny porcelain feves of 'Marie Antoinette' style shoes.

This is  just a glimpse of the hoard but my most favourite find must be this old box with a sepia script label stuck on it, to find inside......

.... tiny hand-made doves and flowers for cake decorations.

Quite simply a 'perfect day'.

A la prochaines mes belles

lundi 22 octobre 2012

I shall ignore it.........................

I simply cannot get along with house plants! I absolutely adore them but no matter what I do to care for them they simply perish and die after a few weeks.

A week ago I bought an amaryllis as an afterthought at the supermarche check out and I have absolutely ignored it. Imagine the shock when I looked at it this morning to see two huge striped blooms. It looks as if more are on the way too.

How sad they cannot stay forever!

Perhaps ignoring house plants is the way forward for me?!!!!

As for that wonderful quirky pot in the shape of Diggers it was made by a ceramic artist I knew years ago.

Off to a huge 2000 stand brocante at the crack of dawn tomorrow.......let me at them! It can rain, snow, hurricaine, sleet, hail or rain locusts......I am STILL going!

I`ll let you see my latest treasures on Wednesday mes belles

mercredi 17 octobre 2012

All back to normal whatever that is!

We have finally had our telephone line repaired and re-connected thanks to a host of workmen who turned up here to replace all the cable that had caught fire! No more cake at the patisserie though - but it was a good excuse in order to use the internet connection there ..............sniff!

I have been using the 'no-internet' time to bring out  some of my hoarded treasures from past truffling and put them in their new homes. I had forgotten how much I loved some of them.

 This mirror, above,  has been moved from place to place for the last 3 years simply waiting to be hung once the new sitting room was built. It is one of a pair and I simply had to have them even though I knew when I bought  them that they would have to be stored initially. Everytime they were moved a little more gesso fell off so I wasn`t holding out too much hope for them. But today, they were unwrapped with the better of the two finally hung on the wall - and I love it! 

The other one didn`t fare so well with the moving around  and I will have a spend a good few hours of matching the host of pieces I have to fix on it. I`ll save that for the winter unless there are any volunteers!!

I had also had stashed away some divine old stucco panels which have now  been placed  around a small stained glass window which we had fitted over one of the original holes in the old barn's wall.

The lashing rain has it seems finally eased up, although the water on the flooded marsh is still right up to  bottom of our garden......and how beautiful a sight it is! Instead of opening my bedroom curtains each morning to see cows I now see two pairs of snow white swans drifting by.

As I sit here typing it sounds as if the heavens are crashing down as the old stone fireplace in what will be a bedroom is being dismantled. The fireplace built in 1838 has not been used since the 1930s and had been partially closed off by the last owners. 

The high chimney above it had been left open so it had become quite damp and we were not too sure what we would find. After some careful stone removal heaps of straw, twigs and paper  came whooshing down into the room along with thick black soot. Bags and bags of rubble are being hauled down the stairs, through the kitchen and out to the garden.I am closing my eyes and not thinking about what mess awaits up there!! 

But............this does mean we will have a beautiful renovated and decorated bedroom in time for winter. It is quite a large room with beamed ceilings and wonderful honey-coloured floor boards.

I love a blank room to start with. My decorating plan  usually starts with just one special piece that will set the style..... perhaps a large gilt mirror, a silk sofa, a faded armoire and it just seems to progress on from there! 

We stayed in a fabulous room in Venice earlier this year that had rich silk damask drapes and decadent sweeping velvets  - I loved it so much that when I close my eyes I can pocture each that might be the theme. Who knows where my imagination will take me. I certainly don't!!

A demain mes belles

dimanche 14 octobre 2012

Still incommunicardo and the water is rising......

Still no phone here so yet another visit to the patisserie to use their Wi-Fi hot not only for the connection but also their range of gateaux!!

Tough being without a phone and having to replace it with cake!! We have been promised a repair by tomorrow will be mousse au chocolat!!

Not sure if I can cope with the stress of this daily patisserie choice!!

Whilst it continues to lash down with rain and the waters rise closer to the chateau daily, I shall start the ark construction soon.
A demain mes belles

jeudi 11 octobre 2012

Any excuse for a gateau!!....................

So why am I sitting here in the local patisserie writing this blog?

Well..........this morning was the first day for several weeks that we have been promised a 'rain free' day, so I planned to photograph my toile curtains and list lots of new treasures; in other words a day to catch up on and get lots done.

Our local farmer also had the same idea ( no, he doesn`t have toile curtains as well!! but had decided to get his maize crop cut whilst the good weather held. With all his farm hands and several tractors in full flow it was going well for all of us until the maize cutter 'shot' the maize over our track, pulling down, on one side , our  electric cable and, on the other side, the phone wire to the chateau! So , all my work came to a swift standstill !!!

An urgent visit to our local mayor started the reporting process culminating in endless phone calls to endless departments - and we are now waiting to be re-connected. But, being France, it may not be a very swift event!! 

Mark was on the verge of calling out the fire brigade; a flame was burning up the electricity wire where it had been cut - and he wasn't sure whether it would carry on up the wire to the next house! I found it hysterical when I learnt that Mark had said to the mayor that our lines had been 'flambeyed'! may be just candles and a log fire for us tonight................mais tres romantique!!!

So...without electricity or phone, here I am at the patisserie where they have an Internet 'hot-spot'.

Yesterday Miss Frou Frou dragged me kicking and screaming to a Zumba exercise class. My idea of exercise is diving into a box full of old textiles and checking the monograms on a pile of linen sheets so you can see I was not too keen. I tried to feign flu, bubonic plague and said that all my leg bones had fallen out - but this message came back from Frou Frou: " Stop being such a drama queen, get your over- the-shoulder boulder-holder sports bra on... and get ready!".

My first consideration was what to wear? After watching the contestants on TV's Strictly Come Dancing last week I know that wearing anything covered in long dangling beads looks as if you are moving more than you actually are.......but I thought that might be just a little over the top for our tiny village hall! So, I settled for a  t-shirt with a waterfall hem that looked quite convincing since, with just a tiny move, it was set in full swirling motion!

We arrived at the village hall and joined the queue awaiting Jean Pierre, the mayor, to arrive with the key. He arrived and opened the doors and we all lined up to start.Then to my horror Monsieur le Mayor stripped off to his shorts and came and stood beside me to take part in the class along with the 21 dames! Now there is a brave monsieur!!!

It was quite a full-on, fast class. I did consider trying to climb out of the window at one stage, but I kept going and to be honest I thoroughly enjoyed it and will go back next week. 

So now, (thanks to the farmer) I have undone all of that good work sitting here with a large piece of gateau as I type. Which gateau would you choose?

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

A la prochaine mes belles

mardi 9 octobre 2012

Mantiques.......okay..... I give in!!

About two years ago, whilst truffling at an early morning brocante, Mark picked up a dirty silver-plated goblet with an inscription in English. I told him I didn`t really want it because not only was it only silver plate but the inscription was dated in the 1950s. I was also just heading into a bag of scrummy textiles and couldn`t even get slightly excited by his " mantique".

But when we got back to the car there it was. He had bought it - and was quite proud of it. (He's never really got the hang of old textiles!) Unloading at home I stashed it away in an armoire - and that is where it has stayed until very recently.  When I have opened the armoire it has waved at me a couple of times asking to be photographed and listed, but I have always told it not to be so stupid and to sit down and get to the back of the shelf!

With the new studio and office finally completed and decorated I have been trying to get into some kind of order - not easy when I get distracted by every bag or box I open. But when the goblet jumped up at me again I decided enough was enough; the time had come for him to go  as he certainly wasn`t going to make it into the new building.

I took him downstairs and started to polish him. He cleaned very easily......too easily in fact, I thought, for old silver plate. So, I cleaned a little more, tasted it with the tip of my tongue - ( yes, I know what you're thinking, but you can tell the difference between silver and silver plate by taste....well I can anyway!) - and I decided it must actually be silver. He certainly looked superb when all the black had gone!

I searched all over with my eyeglass and I could see nothing - no mark anywhere to be seen. But I was convinced it was silver and wondered that if perhaps the synagogue members ( referred to on the inscription)  had had the goblet made in some foreign shores then there would perhaps not be a hallmark anyway.

So I have listed it as silver but asked my good friend Tony, also a 'brocanteur' and author to give it the once over to see if he thought it was silver too. He glanced at it and instantly remarked,  "yes it is.... date around 1860 and made in London". I asked if he had ESP but he laughed and pointed out a large full English hallmark right at the top of the goblet within the design! was I to know it would be so prominent when I was looking for secret markings!! Even the maker`s mark was clear to see.

Sooooooooo............. Mark,  mon cheri, mon amour, mon lapin chaud,  I promise to pay more attention to your truffling finds in future. 

Perhaps I should stay in bed on brocante mornings and send you truffling alone with the encouragement , "Go.....find me beautiful things" and then I could turn over and go back to sleep?

But perhaps not..........I will leave you with this quote...

I love being married.  It's so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.  ~Rita Rudner

dimanche 7 octobre 2012

Mooooooooove me now please!!

Did I awake to the gentle sound of bird song this morning? No! It was frantic mooing!!

The waters of the marsh rose dramatically overnight with all the torrential rain we have been having. I looked out of my window to see the cows looking as shocked as I did!

They are all marooned on one island of grass now. If it gets any higher they will be in my garden ( again!!). I am hoping this afternoon will bring a convoy of cattle lorries to take them to higher ground.

Otherwise I am going to have to put them all in the attic until the water subsides!

A la prochaine mes belles

jeudi 4 octobre 2012

Happiness is.................

Happiness is....................

Finally moving into my newly renovated studio ( which was the chateau pig pen!!) and getting to truffle through my own treasures instead of other peoples for a change!!

I wonder how long it will all stay so neatly folded?!!

A la prochaine mes belles