lundi 30 décembre 2013



I can feel a whole new years worth of truffling for treasures coming on!!

Oh deep joy!!

A la prochaine mes belles

dimanche 29 décembre 2013

Dimanche is for indulgence......

The storm forecast for today never arrived. Instead we had a watery sunshine that captured the faceted pampille lustres on my wall sconces throwing delicieux twinkling stars around the walls.

I have spent the day slowly sorting through the first boxes from the old Paris house.........treasures large and small, all untouched for a hundred years or so.

Batches of fine sequinned tulles as light as a whisper. I always think of Lynn from Sea Angels when I see this as it reminds me of her amazing fairy creations!

Batches of lace from warm cream to deep old tea colour.........all fine and so tactile.

Hand worked wedding dress panels...

Old wedding couronnes of pink silk apple blossoms with the note "Couronne Mariee a maman".

A wedding veil still with its wax and silver wire tiara.

An amazing lavender silk petticoat morceau overlaid with an exquisite lace frill. I can see this reworked into a boudoir lampshade!

And these are just the first three boxes.
Charles le Baron du Breuil tried to get into the act but was quickly ejected much to his disgust!

A la prochaine mes belles

samedi 28 décembre 2013

Itchy fingers and a secret.....


                          “If you want to keep a secret, you must also hide it from yourself.”
George Orwell, 1984

The Christmas break has been wonderful! The company of good friends, too much food  of course - and still New Years Eve to look forward to.

But today my itchy fingers have started and I am thinking about all of those boxes of house clearance linens, lace and costume that I bundled through the door just before the Christmas festivities began. I didn`t get the chance to look inside some of the boxes. I knew that if I took even one peek I would be away and nothing would get done!

Now my mind has started imagining all kinds of things and I am now itching to get them all out and see exactly what there is. I know I saw some divine lace cuffs, some 1930s pink silk chemises and a box of pale pink wedding head dress silk buds.

We had our final aperitifs with a few old friends here today, a relaxing few hours hours by the roaring log fire with Sir Digbert being fed far too many titbits as he did the rounds with his appealing face on!

Apparently lashing rain and gales are forecast to return tomorrow so I cannot think of a better way to hide indoors than to get into those treasures.

A demain mes belles


vendredi 27 décembre 2013

La Chapelle Saint Simeon

Tucked away in the tiny winding lanes here on the Cherbourg Peninsula is the tiniest 12th century chapel. You may think that the photograph above is  La Chapelle Saint Simeon but it is not; it is simply the stone sculpture on the entrance post to the actual chapel itself.

This tiny chapel is such a tiny treasure...

A large sailing boat hangs above the altar and once a year there is a pilgrimage by local sailors to pray for their safety on the sea.

I wonder if it is used at any other times? It is spotlessly clean and there were candles alight. The doors were open but I almost felt as if I was trespassing.

A silent tiny hideaway....

A la prochaine mes belles


mardi 24 décembre 2013

Too much mulled wine?

Despite the forecast gale we had a wonderful evening entertaining our friends last night. Before we eventually sloped off to bed with the wind still howling around the house, we checked that the attic roof was still intact! Fortunately it was - but poor old George the dragon girouette weather vane was continually groaning under the pressure of the wind lashing across the marsh.

We woke earlier than normal and went downstairs for a coffee and to check for any damage. We had been lucky; everything was in place so we went back to bed!

That second sleep is the time when I always seem to have a dream - and today's was SO vivid and so bizarre!

I dreamt I had sold a piece of toile to a local person and went to deliver it myself. I arrived at the buyer's house,  a medieval building that had been converted into a busy restaurant which was filled with diners. I asked for the owner and when he appeared and went to take  my parcel I was sure I knew him  - but could not place where or why. He asked me to follow him and I kept staring at his face trying to remember who he was.

We made our way through the tables of diners until we came to a huge leather-covered studded doorway. He led me through the door into a large passageway lined with toile-covered walls illuminated from behind to make them glow. The Chinoiserie design was so vivid I can remember every detail!

The mystery man told me to follow him and we walked through rooms of Lyons silk, ticking and toiles. At one point I stopped to tell him that a certain toile was called "The return of the prodigal son",  but he waved me along saying he already knew that. More long passages and rooms all filled with chateau tassels, trims and roll upon roll of the most stunning old textiles I had ever seen.

At last we came to another leather studded door and as he opened it I realised he was Stephen the husband of my long time textile dealer friend Suzy! "She is in there" he said and pushed me into a huge Baronial hall so vast that it echoed.  The ceiling was so high you could hardly see it.

At the centre of the room was a large cherry picker type metal lift and standing on the platform high in the roof was Suzy!! She was wearing beautiful pink diamante Stilettos with red soles.  I thought to myself 'how can she be up there in Laboutins'

Suzy was pulling panels of silk brocade from the ceiling and throwing them to the ground. "We will restore them and then replace them" she shouted down from the heavens!

She then slowly lowered the cherry picker until she was on the ground and made me a coffee. The conversation we had is still so vivid right down to the last detail as we chatted about all those years ago when we stood antique fairs together.

We laughed about the times when our stands were bursting with the most amazing chateau textiles which at the time we could buy with ease.....[that is actually SO true, as I can remember 15 years ago or more when our stands were totally decadent, overloaded with silks and tapestries and Suzy`s amazing hand made cushions were made with textiles you'll never find and only dream of these days! ]

But back to the dream............ and Suzy began to make her way through another studded doorway. I followed her but she then simply disappeared and I was left standing in the busy restaurant again with all the diners staring at me. I handed my empty coffee cup to a waiter and made my way outside.

At which point I woke up, still convinced I was in the street in front of the old building!!

So.....analyse that one!! Where on earth did that come from?

Perhaps Mark`s secret recipe mulled wine was a little too strong this year!!

A la prochaine mes belles

lundi 23 décembre 2013

Mulled wine and mince pies...

Every year we like to host a mulled wine and mince pie evening. Mark`s secret recipe mulled wine can be slightly lethal but goes down very easily!!

Normandie is in the grips of a huge storm this evening so as we got ready I was a little worried no one would brave the drive to the middle of nowhere to the chateau!

The storm is so bad that the Christmas lights lining the driveway have been threatening to take flight!
Then 10 minutes before everyone was due to arrive the lights in the chateau flickered and my heart stopped. No please....not a power cut now! Another flicker and then "click" we were  plunged into darkness.We rushed to light the candles and waited nervously. We were lucky the lights came back on just in time and we were ready for the guests.

Soon everyone arrived having braved the lashing wind and rain ...

It`s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas.

A la prochaine mes belles

samedi 21 décembre 2013

Now I HAVE seen it all!!

When we set off this morning in the car we passed the postman at the top of the lane. He was standing facing his van. I stopped the car and asked him if he had any letters for us, as it would save him coming all the way down the lane to the chateau. It was at that point that I suddenly realised what he was holding.......... he was having a wee!!! A mortifyingly long wait whilst he finished his chore and now I cannot look him in the eye again!

We continued our journey to see our beautiful 'girls' and to deliver their Christmas carrots. Madame Edith and The Dowager Lady Docile are in retirement and live a life of luxury, pampered by the wonderful Ed and Penny on their farm.

Both girls are Cob Normands, the French equivalent of an English shire horse. When we arrived they had clearly been rolling in the mud in the orchard. Both weigh upwards of six hundred kilos of girliness . When they both came hurtling to the gate to greet us the earth shook!


On the way home was another sight to behold. Coming towards us sitting in a horse and cart was none other than................

.....Pere Noel himself!!  Christmas has definitely arrived here in Normandie.

A la prochaine mes belles

vendredi 20 décembre 2013

Simply amazing........................

The beds are made up, but this abandoned mansion has not had an occupant sleeping in its grand rooms for years,

The tenants at the Round Mansion in western Belgium are long gone, but the bedrooms are still occupied by expensive furniture and ornaments.

These eerie photographs were captured by London urban explorer Andre Govia, 37, after he decided to start documenting his love of abandoned buildings.

Spooky: With an abandoned tricycle sitting in an empty corridor, this derelict but once grand mansion could be the setting for The Shining

Silence: Piles of clothes lie abandoned on a chair in one of the many bedrooms alongside papers and even a wine glass

'This mansion was an amazing place to visit,' said Mr Govia.

'It was very cold and creepy, heavy damp air and noises from the wind made it seem so chilling.

'The most interesting part for me was the sheer size of the mansion.

'I couldn't believe the nine bedrooms and large rooms were used by just the one family who lived here.

Mr Govia explains: 'When people see these photographs they think that it's a waste of a building and history. I like this reaction as I always try to capture the ambiance and textures of the location so people can feel what it's like inside'

'The most interesting part for me was the sheer size of the mansion. I couldn't believe the nine bedrooms and large rooms were used by just the one family who lived here,' said Mr Govia

'This mansion was an amazing place to visit,' said Mr Govia. 'It was very cold and creepy, heavy damp air and noises from the wind made it seem so chilling'

Project: These eerie photographs were captured by London urban explorer Andre Govia, 37, after he decided to start documenting his love of abandoned buildings.

With everything from worn slippers to books and old clothes, this old mansion has apparently lay abandoned since the early 1990s.

Mr Govia explains: 'When people see these photographs they think that it's a waste of a building and history.

'I like this reaction as I always try to capture the ambiance and textures of the location so people can feel what it's like inside.

'I try to create images that will place people with me on my visits and see what I feel and see.

'This particular building made me feel on edge and so there was no time to relax when I was inside

Simply amazing

A la prochaine mes belles

mercredi 18 décembre 2013

Merci Pere Noel...

I don`t think I can have been all "that" good this year because Pere Noel didn`t bring much from my Christmas wish list but ohhhh ......what I did get is wonderful!! I did see the sleigh but Santa looked a little different this year.

The brocante was a trade only affair which means it was fast and furious. As well as every dealer you can think of in France there were buyers from Spain, Denmark, Belgium, England, Japan, Usa, Canada and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. That means if you see something you like you cannot ponder and go back after a think. If you see it you buy it quick because give it 10 minutes and it will be gone! It`s a little like a shark feeding frenzy but with sharper teeth!

Miss Frou Frou had sharpened her teeth especially for the occasion and was ready for the off in the freezing early light.

I was still full of the giggles as just before leaving the hotel Mark had almost brushed his teeth with painkiller muscle rub Gel instead of toothpaste!

As usual there was the most amazing array of pieces from the sublime..... the ridiculous!!

No dealer is allowed to open their vehicle and unpack before 8am and as the organiser of this fair is a fierce pipe smoking lady ( believe me she is!!) no one disobeys.

At 8am sharp all hell lets loose and every vehicle bursts open . At this point I always feel I am in the wrong place. Should I be indoors, outdoors, at the top field or at the bottom? Should I be with dealers I have bought from for years or should I be looking at the dealers I have never seen before as who knows what they may stock?


As it was still quite dark I decided to start indoors but didn`t find anything I liked. Trying to quell the rising panic I suggested we went outdoors and walked right into a pile of textiles. The  dealer told me he had cleared a house and I could see that was the truth. All lovingly packed into the original boxes with handwritten notes such as " The wedding couronne of maman".

I started to gather a huge pile leaving Mark to guard whilst I truffled as already a Japanese textile dealer had started to rummage through the huge pile now on the floor. I could have floored her with a swift karate move but she was so demure and polite and had a huge smile. As tempting as it was to stuff a pair of Victorian bloomers over her head so that she couldn't see I restrained myself.

I saw another textile dealer hot footing it our way so I just grabbed as much as I could and bought the lot. I have the wonderful pleasure of truffling through all those boxes today as I still have no clear idea of what I have.

After 5 hours of truffalissimenting.....truffleament....trufflerating....truffalusion......trufflingtons we we "The Truffelarati" ** were totally shattered, but the car was loaded and we made our way home.

** Triffelearati...a bit like The Glitterati but more dishevelled covered in fluff with red eyes from lack of sleep.

But the truffelarisation didn`t stop there. Two brocante shops later....


then this wonderful frame packed the car to bursting point!!

I have nowhere to put it at all but I couldn`t leave it behind.

I shall start listing my new treasures on my Ebay site on Monday 23rd and over the next few days I
will give you a peek of what is in the boxes as I have no idea myself yet!!

A demain mes belles