dimanche 30 octobre 2016

Diverting a tantrum....

I stumbled upon the old man`s stand quite late at the brocante. He was well into his eighties had been a dealer for many years. I can remember seeing him selling in various places over the last 30 years or so.  Everything had huge paper labels with his prices scrawled in black ink . The prices were very low to ensure he went home with an empty van  and was just getting what he could for the items he had been hoarding. His last outing before retirement.

Most of the items were distressed and damaged but my heart leapt as I saw two full sized plaster altar angels that must have come from a church or chapel. They were placed right at the back of his stand covered in dust.  One with a missing hand and the other with damage to the base but they were simply stunning. His stand was a jumble of stock, other dealers,old boxes and packing blankets he had used to wrap his treasures en route. It was a little like an assault course!

  Just as I got to the angels he took their price labels off whilst taking some money from a lady I recognised as a Paris dealer. They may have been chipped and timeworn but they were absolutely divine and they had been sold for next to nothing. My heart hit the floor especially when I saw that she only handed over 40 euros for the pair. I asked if she wanted to sell them on and make a quick profit but it was a firm thank-you but no thank-you. She swiftly wrapped them in a blanket and they were gone.

You know that thing that two year olds do when they can`t get their own way? The moment they throw themselves face down on the floor kicking and screaming.....I was close I can tell you...so close! Apparently when a toddler does this you have to divert them, so I decided to divert myself with more truffling.

With a stand like this there had to be something hiding....a sleeper....waiting for me to truffle it out. I started to look through every box and blanket and came up with a few little treasures including some engravings and a pretty 1920s print. He was happy to take my cash and they were so little money I didn`t even barter.  

Yes I can hear you now thinking "she didn`t barter? She`s losing her touch!!" But if I am happy with a price I always remember that the seller has to make a profit too and with prices that cheap I was happy to help him empty his workshop and retire.

 Do antique dealers ever retire? Will I still be truffling in my eighties from a wicker bath chair? Will I demand to be pushed here and there at dawn by some long suffering family member?  Probably.

This morning I finally got round the photographing the prints and discovered one is actually an original signed drawing and watercolour by George Barbier quite a famous Art Deco artist who was also responsible for designing costumes for the Folies Begere.

I have contacted an auction house for their next Art Deco sale as I believe his works do quite well.

Well that`s one tantrum well diverted!

A la prochaine mes belles and I will keep you posted on the results.


mardi 12 juillet 2016

The writing`s on the wall..............

I have never been a fan of graffiti but today I changed my mind!! Visiting a local church I was shocked to see so much graffiti etched in to the stone around the altar. 

But then amongst the newer carvings I found these wonderful names etched in the stone with old dates too. 

So timeless and evocative that I had to run my fingers over the stones. I wonder who and why?

Will someone like me way in the future find today`s names as charming?

A la prochaine mes belles


vendredi 10 juin 2016

The artist at the cafe......

Engrossed in his work at the cafe....

This young monsieur asked us in broken French if we could look after his bag and equipment whilst he went to order a drink.

When we realised we all spoke the same language we started to chat and he told us that he was travelling by bicycle and drawing as he went.

I was enthralled by the old chocolate tin brimming with the tools of his trade.

We exchanged cards and we left him engrossed.

When I got home I searched his name.....

Micheal James Monaghan

I came up with his Instagram page and this superb self portrait....

and this stunning portrait....

I hope he found inspiration in here in Normandie. I must have passed by that pink building a hundred times and never paid it any attention! 

I wonder what it would be like to look through the eyes of an artist?

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” 
― Francis of Assisi

lundi 30 mai 2016

Off with their heads...................

This beautiful old church statue stands in the wood of a good friend where we had lunch yesterday in the sunshine. The head is missing and the moss is now taking over and the look is simply divine.

And then this morning this little monsieur tumbled in to my life!

 It looks like he befell the same tragic event as Marie Antoinette!! But he can be restored as the neck disc is all intact.

He is in my Ebay shop listings tonight.

A la prochaine mes belles


mercredi 11 mai 2016

Charles takes the back seat.....

The Baron and Baroness du Brevands came to visit the chateau today.

Their 1930s car looked SO at home here!!

Even Charles fell in love and tried to get inside!!

I just hope he is not comfy on their back seat!!!

A la prochaine mes belles


lundi 9 mai 2016

Still building.............

Seven years ago we stumbled upon our Petit Chateau hidden away on the marsh. She had been sleeping quietly empty and unloved for 10 years. As we made our way through the broken gate we fell in love. 

As soon as I saw George the dragon girouette weathervane on the roof I knew the house was for us!

Seven years and one long learning curve later we are still renovating, the concrete mixer is still in use and I sometimes feel we will never be finished. The day that Mark knocked a hole from the main building in to the barn next door we panicked wondering if we had done the right thing. We covered it over with a cupboard and ignored it for a while!!!

But looking at a couple of photographs I unearthed yesterday it seems we have moved on quite a lot. We have certainly been good for the local builders merchants!!!

I had to learn pretty quickly that if I wanted a certain period piece to be included I had to have it ready as it`s no use turning up with it later. Just like the 19th century iron railing on the salon steps that I arrived home with just in time!!

I had quite a stash of old doors just in case!!

And they were all used too!!

We bought the parquet floor from an old chateau chapel and hand cleaned each piece!

Now THAT was a labour of love!!

From one bedroom and no bathroom we now have three bedrooms with bathrooms, the open barn where the horse drawn plough had been parked became our living area.  Even the attic has been made in to a guest room.

It was impossible to get through the brambles in the garden that led on to the marsh but now we have lawns. 
The marsh tries to reclaim it quite regularly and the North wind can be too harsh for many plants but in Winter but when the marsh floods and swans swim past the bedroom window it is almost like an enchanted house on the sea. 

The sunrise every morning is stunning .....

The renovation sometimes seem slow and then all of a sudden we seem to have moved on with a jolt. 

Will we ever be finished I wonder? 

George just looks on from the roof top.....

A la prochaine mes belles


mercredi 27 avril 2016

An old friend lost..............

Not too far from our home an old chateau lay silent and closed. I could never resist the temptation of passing the big iron gates without driving in. 

I loved walking around the deserted gardens where statues were hidden by the over grown foliage. I always wanted to enter the orangerie but it was locked tight.

It had the most perfect proportions and I have often wondered what it would be like to peer out from one of the oeil de boeuf zinc top windows.

In the 19th century it had been a home for an aristocratic family. I truffled a few old sepia postcards around the local brocantes and loved to see how little it had changed.

During WW2 it had been used as a headquarters for German officers.

After the war it was bequeathed to a local order of nuns and in the 1950s it had been used to give holiday breaks to needy children.

The doors closed in the 1960s and had remained firmly shuttered.

I have sat on those steps so many times in the sunshine just listening to the birds singing and it always felt like a  wonderful secret hideaway.

Until,  a few months ago the gates closed and a padlock and chain appeared. Soon a very elegant name plaque appeared next to the gates.

Apparently it has been purchased and renovated.

I have never seen it since. Sometimes the gates are open but I cannot bring myself to drive through the woods as my perfect dream would be shattered.

I just hope the renovation has been a kind one.

A la prochaine mes belles


vendredi 15 avril 2016

A guessing game....

A little competition and the winner will receive a simply-chateau brocante bundle of treasures!!

The best caption for the photograph will be the winner.

I will leave it to run until next Tuesday and Bonne weekend!!