vendredi 30 novembre 2012

A different route..................

Visiting a large trade fair recently I was enthralled with the stock of a dealer who had travelled from Italy to sell there. I was sorry that I hadn't taken my camera; his display was simply beguiling. Every item was totally delicieux; he had set out his tables swathed with heavy brocades and velvets with twinkling girondolle lamps . I wanted it all....every piece!!

His stock was so unusual. I was captivated by his collection of 18th century wooden articulated hands, dark and smooth with the passage of time. But OUCH...the prices! Even top Paris dealers who had stopped to look almost dropped them like a hot potato when they were told the price. 

I couldn`t buy one to resell and couldn`t even justify the price to buy one to keep for myself. And as for the prices of those beautiful twinkling girondolles.......they were a double "ouch" with knobs on!!!

Even though I couldn`t buy them the 'hands' must have stayed on my mind - so perhaps that is why, at the brocante last weekend, I came home with some sweet treasures with "hands" !!
A beautiful old jewellers "loupe".......and

......a divine 19th century timeworn ex- voto.

So, I suppose I did get my hands on some hands in the end!

Today I had a call from a friend to say that her grandmere was downsizing and would I like to go and see if there was anything I would like to buy. I am not good in these situations;  I always end up paying too much for items when it is a friend and I have been greeted by someone charming! 

I set off and made a promise to myself that if I saw  anything I wanted I would only pay what I would normally pay at a brocante - and not to be too generous.

But as soon as I saw a twinkling girondolle lit up in grandmeres boudoir my promise went out of the window! I offered her top price with knobs on - and she was delighted. Now I have it in my home - and I am delighted too!

So, I suppose I did get what I wanted in the end - but just by a different route!

Bon weekend mes belles

mercredi 28 novembre 2012

Oooooooooh la la.............

Ooooh la la!! Just look at Charles le Baron du sleepy on the sofa in front of the fire! I`sn't he just adorable...?

Sitting in the bustling cafe this morning with a steaming hot chocolat and 'croissant amande'  I overheard a loud "Ooooooh la la!"  - and then I realised how just many times I hear it every day. It really is a well-used French expression used for so many things! 

Being a very versatile expression, it works to greet a new born baby just as well as it does when your shopping carrier bag splits and your oignons sprawl all over the supermarche floor!!

And.......if I flip the photo of Charles upside down he looks like a vampire cat. Now that most definitely is an OOOOOOOOOOH la la!!!! Just look at those teeth!!

Bisoux mes belles

jeudi 22 novembre 2012

Paris in 1914

I absolutely adore these old photographs mes belles!!!!!

The City of Love as you have never seen it: Amazing collection of photographs from 1914 captures everyday life in Paris

  • Pictures taken from a huge collection at the Albert Kahn Museum in Paris
  • Millionaire banker Khan paid photographers to travel the world 

It is known as the City of Love, where couples flock to capture the magic of their romance.
But a set of gritty photographs almost 100-years-old captures a side of Paris that most people will never know existed.
The 1914 pictures, taken from a collection at the Albert Kahn Museum in Paris, paint a vivid picture of everyday life in the French capital.
The original version of the famous club, pictured a year before it burnt down, is part of the 1914 collection taken from the Albert Kahn Museum
Cabaret: The original version of the famous club, pictured a year before it burnt down, is part of the 1914 collection taken from the Albert Kahn Museum
A young boy pushes a cart through an open Parisian square as men in bowler hats watch on
Picturesque: A young boy pushes a cart through an open Parisian square as men in bowler hats watch on
The Moulin Rouge, now one of the city's favourite tourist destinations, is captured in its original form only a year before it was burnt down in 1915.
The picture shows the cabaret club's famous red windmill long before the venue was widely popularised in the 2001 Hollywood film starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.
Among the collection is another picture of an old Parisian cinema, the Aubert Palace.
But away from the city's bright lights, the most revealing aspect of the collection is the portrayal of life for Parisians during the early twentieth century.
A Parisian family poses for a photographer outside their home
Family Life: A Parisian family poses for a photographer outside their home
A moment of rest: A horse stops on a road under a brooding Paris sky as it carries a cart filled with rubble
A moment of rest: A horse stops on a road under a brooding Paris sky as it carries a cart filled with rubble
A young boy is photographed pushing an overloaded cart through a public square, while a family are pictured sitting outside their modest home.
In another poignant picture, a uniformed soldier with a wooden leg stands beside a cannon 
The pictures are taken from the Albert Kahn Museum in Paris. 
A desolate shopping street reveals the beautiful colours and typography on the shopfronts
Retro: A desolate shopping street reveals the beautiful colours and typography on the shopfronts
A uniformed soldier with a wooden leg looks into the distance as he stands beside a cannon
Paused for thought: A uniformed soldier with a wooden leg looks into the distance as he stands beside a cannon
Mr Kahn, a French millionaire banker and philanthropist, undertook an ambitious project in 1909 to create a vast photographic collection.
He sent a group of photographers to more than fifty countries around the world, capturing images, often from important points in their history, to be shared with others.
Kahn's love affair with colour photography was brought to an end by the Wall Street Crisis, which caused his fortunes to vanish and forced him to terminate the project in 1931.
His legacy of more than 72,000 photographs, including the early shots of his beloved Paris, are now available for people to view at the Albert Kahn Museum on the grounds of his estate in Paris. 
Kahn's photographs were the basis of a ten-part BBC documentary The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn released in 2009.
Old cinema the Aubert palace captured at night
Bright lights: Old cinema the Aubert palace captured at night
A group pose beside statues in mock Roman costume
Fancy dress: A group pose beside statues in mock Roman costume
Two shopfronts pictured as a cobbler can be seen hard at work
Contrast: Two shopfronts pictured as a cobbler can be seen hard at work

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vendredi 16 novembre 2012

Four floors of truffling heaven......

Ever since our move to Normandie in 2005 I have been enthralled by a small drapery/tailors shop in our local small town. It opened in the early 1920s - and has remained open ever since until last year when the owner, in her eighties, could no longer run it. 

  Filled inside with clothes from the1940s and 50s, the window display of wrap-around aprons and ditsy floral dresses has always had me in fits if laughter. It is as if the fashions have stood still in time - whilst the shop has remained open .

On market days the shop was always busy, elderly ladies, their baskets brimming with produce, going in for a chat with the owner - and often ending up giggling like teenagers as they chatted away.What stories/memories they must have to recount.

I have always said that I would go in and ask madame if she had any old stock for sale but I never got round to it. I always imagined every dealer in the area would have done the same. 

The town itself saw heavy fighting in WW2 (the town was the first in France  to be liberated by  US airborne troops in the early morning of D-Day (June 6th 1944) and receives many visitors each year. The shop carried on trading as normal during the war years;  and the two photographs here show it (right of pictures) soon after the town had been liberated by the US troops.

Last year the owner sadly passed away and the blinds have been drawn ever since. It felt like the end of an era and a sad loss for the town with another piece of its history set to disappear.

Yesterday I had a phone call from a house clearer telling me that he had been given the job of emptying the four floors of shop, that he had been working through it all for four days and had thought of me! Would I like to go and see if there was anything there I wanted?  OH MY!!!!  At last........... my chance to go through those doors into the shop's inner sanctum!. I left our house pulling on my coat and shoes at the same time!!

The contents of the shop  had been mostly packed away by the time I arrived; box upon box to sort through but I truffled through what remained unpacked. The first thing I found were "black out" curtains, obviously for use at the shop windows during the war. After checking out the ground floor, I gingerly stepped on the somewhat rickety stairs which lead up to the first floor - and what I sight met my eyes.................

....row upon row, box upon box of 1940s mens suits and shirts. Mark opened an armoire to find a host of divine 1940s gentlemans overcoats all still with their original labels. Stunning to say the least - and Mark now has a wonderful vintage winter coat to wear!

Four floors of heaven is all I can say! 1920s hats, Siegell & Stockman display stands, advertising pieces, bolts of top quality wool tailors suit fabric and even all the old invoices for the shop dating back to 1919, tied with string.

Every cupboard and armoire emptied and packed, and then, opening another door to find......
..another stairway, very narrow leading up to the attic. It, too, was filled with treasures and, through the skylight.....

.......Mark took these two photographs looking down over the old tin roof. This would have been Madame`s view of the church to her left and the town square below her where intensive fighting took place on D day.

So, some of the first treasures to be unpacked and listed are....................

............these1920s cloche hats with their original labels intact.  Simply divine and I know I will never find the same again.

After spending several hours truffling I felt doing what  this Pierrot on an advertising card is doing -  jumping for joy!!

Bon weekend, mes belles

mercredi 14 novembre 2012

Truffling uninterupted...........

Show me any item that I have bought and sold, even from 30 years ago, and I can usually remember where I found it - and how much I paid for it!  It`s not a talent that will ever make me rich but it`s just something I can do! Probably because I love truffling for treasures so much!

I remember coming across this fabulous 19th century lamp very clearly. I absolutely adore it;  it's one of my favourite treasures.

At a very early morning brocante at a small local fishing port it had been a slow start and I didn`t really feel that I was going to come home with very much that day. Most of the tiny cottages along the quay are owned by Parisians for holiday homes; many were unocuupied, and it wasn`t looking very promising at all.

We then passed a tiny cottage just set back from the road with an empty table set up on the pavement outside the front gate. As we walked by the door opened and a very chic lady came out carrying this lamp. I stopped dead in my tracks. I  couldn`t decide whether to smile sweetly or rugby tackle her! Needless to say it never actually got to be displayed on her table.

She told me that her grandmother was Italian and had bought the cottage as a family holiday home in the early 1900s and although grandmother was long gone she loved to come up from Paris and stay for a short holiday once a year. This year she had decided on doing a bit of a revamp - and had decided that this lamp had to go. And "go" it did!  We haggled over price ( as of course you do!) and the lamp was mine.

Heavyweight bronze with the most delicieux hand- worked silk and lace shade. The icing on the macaroon is the wonderful Parisian maker`s mark!

As we continue moving along the other stands we were stopped by three separate dealers who all wanted to buy the lamp off me! In the end we took it back to the car so we could continue truffling uninterupted.

It never fails to surprise me what treasures are still hiding in the old houses over here....and long may it continue so!

A demain mes belles

vendredi 9 novembre 2012

LEST WE FORGET.................

As Mark meets up today with former shipmates from the Falklands War of 1982 and marches with fellow members of the South Atlantic Medal Association past the Cenotaph, Central London at today's Service of Remembrance, we should not forget those who made the ultimate sacrifice and died in the service of their country.

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them."

"When you go home tell them of us and say -
For your tomorrow we gave our today."

jeudi 8 novembre 2012

An oeil de boeuf at last.................

I have been searching for a zinc ''oeil de boeuf surround for the attic window for over three years - and today one fell into my lap.

Actually that isn`t quite true.....I fell into the 'oeil's' lap!!

Wandering around an architectural antiques brocante yard I turned a corner and tripped over the surround that was lying on the ground. As I lay there floundering like a haddock on the ground a very chic couple came around the corner to find me in an entangled heap. I did consider flipping onto my knees to give the impression that I was examining it very closely but it was too late; they must have heard the crash and hurried over to investigate.

Mark carried the oeil de boeuf over to the office to barter a good price and I followed behind, my face glowing with embarrassment. But I soon recovered when  'le proprietaire'  produced a large scrolled and curled cartouche that fitted on the top section; it simply had to be soldered in place. 

We managed to fit it into the car - just -  dropping off the curl at the blacksmith`s atelier on the way home to be repaired.

Soooooooooo....we now just have to talk someone into climbing up to the rooftop to see how it fits. The last time we tried to find somone to go up on the roof to repair the weather vane all the local roofers said it was too high and would only do so with a full scaffolding in place!!

I could do with a visit from someone who can do the Indian rope trick! Any offers?

Diggers update 

The antibiotics seem to be working and he is alot less red and itchy. He has finally left his bed and has had a wander in the garden...............phew!
A demain mes belles

lundi 5 novembre 2012

Le petit ballon rouge........

Poor Sir Digbert Fanshaw Brownshaw, my beloved boy, has an allergy;  an allergy that is so itchy he's made himself almost bright red with scratching. 

 His inner ears, his mouth and lips, his nose, stomach and eyes are all aglow and he is SO miserable he has taken to his bed. (Well, no real surprise there then!) I have had to lock the bathroom door as he finds the seagrass matting very inviting for scratching by rolling on it - which simply makes him more pink.

The vet has taken swabs to try and investigate the cause. In the meantime he is on a course of antibiotics, has had an anti-cortizone injection and we have some cream for his inner ears.

Even freshly cooked chicken will not coax him from his bed. He is in a major sulk.

He looks like a little angry balloon!!

A demain mes belles.

vendredi 2 novembre 2012

Paris Amour............

A long drive to endure -  but the thought of truffling at the 'flea' market in Paris makes the miles go quicker for Mademoiselle Frou Frou.

Such an early start in the morning................

...............but the dealers were up long before, and have already started to set up. No time for an expresso and croissant!
Aren't those little leather boots just adorable?

And look at those little pink fripperies....I`ll get a batch together and try to barter for a good deal.

"Merci madame" .....a wonderful little haul of truffles!

Keep moving........ still so much to see. Oh heavens! A stand full of vintage clothes...............
...........followed by a vintage textile stand!

Smile monsieur!! The sun is out, this is Paris and it`s a brocante! What`s not to like?

A wonderful day truffling for treasures then off to find Mr Frou Frou for supper. Is that him? Hope not!!

Is this him? If it is, he has been doing some body building!

I`ll just check behind here.

Voila!!   Oooooooooh la la!! I have found him. 

A little Paris amour!! What a perfect end to a fabulous day.