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Saturday, 29 August 2009

Green shelf

Just a quick post - I can hear the water running in the guest shower-room so our friends will be surfacing soon!





Thought you might like to see my little shelf. I had seen such shelves in various books and magazines and wanted one for a narrow wall alongside the back door in my kitchen but couldn't find anything to fit. Found the pine shelf in a charity shop for £2.50 and brought it home and got D to cut it to length and make the bar along the bottom for me..

I then painted it Tapestry Green and distressed it a little and waited to find some old hooks to put on the bottom.



Couldn't find anything at all suitable so got the idea of using doweling which D cut and fitted and I painted and distressed again - am really pleased with the finished effect and it fits perfectly.
The pleasure I get from something made do and mended is far greater than if I had been able to buy something ready made and I keep looking at it and enjoying having it on my wall. What do you think?
Hope you all have a good weekend and to those in UK hope the Bank Holiday surprises us with some good weather for a change!
Jane

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

LIFE IN FRANCE

Our friends arrive for a 10 day stay tomorrow so I will not have time to post my weekly French Idyll blog till after they leave so thought I'd do a further post on our adventures tonight. Then during the time we are busy with visitors I can just do a quick photo post perhaps and not need to take the time needed to do a French Idyll post.

FRENCH IDYLL


I left you last time as we were setting off for our new life.


The cats were very very good - I had visions of catawauling (pardon the pun) for the next 8 hours but they quickly settled down and although Thomas wet his bedding before we had left England it was no more than expected and I had brought plenty of clean old towels and bedding for just such an eventuality so was able to put the wet stuff in a bin at the services and set him up with fresh. After a few "Are we nearly there?" miaous they both settled down in their individual baskets and behaved impecably. We stopped for refreshments en route of course and when we did we let the cats out of their boxes to stretch their legs and they were happy to see what was happening outside the windows - good job it was February and not July as we couldn't have opened the windows! They had their sandwiches too of course - well not really but we did feed and water them when we stopped for our own refreshments.


We finally arrived at our house in the evening - it is a long, long way from Guildford to Limoges - and a friend was there waiting for us with the heating turned on and a casserole all ready for our supper. She had also brought along a couple of deck chairs on loan so that we could sit down!


We were exhausted, not unnaturally, and decided an early night was in order so after our lovely welcoming casserole we decided to blow up the inflatable mattress another friend had loaned us. After nearly an hour we gave up on that - seems there were 2 holes, one to let the air in and one to let it out and we should have plugged the out hole first! We laid out the old duvet we had brought for the cats to sleep on along with the other bedding - from the boot of the car in the garage left a couple of weeks earlier - and settled down. Have you ever tried to sleep on a concrete floor on a thin old duvet and sharing your "bed" with a husband and 2 cats?! I certainly wouldn't recommend it. I spent the night in one of the deckchairs instead.


The removal men arrived as promised at lunchtime the following day and I have never been so pleased to see anyone! Our bed was soon set up ready for a proper early night and the world looked better already!


So began our new life - once we had recovered from the journey it was fun to sort out our things and to decide where to put everything.




Tom surveying his domain


We decided to invite some of our friends - who we knew from our renting time - to lunch one Sunday a week or so after our arrival. All was going well till I opened the sideboard door and reached inside for the dinner plates. There was such a crash as all my china fell out onto the tiled floor. The noise it made terrified the poor cats and I stood there looking at my broken stuff all round my feet and burst into tears! It seems one of the pegs supporting the shelf was missing and this was the first time I had removed all the weight from the opposite corner causing the shelf to tip. However we were now living in the porcelain capital of France so we could surely find some more china couldn't we? Have you seen the price of the fabulous Haviland, Bernadaud, Deshouliers or Medlard de Noblat porcelain? No - well let me tell you you would need a mortgage to buy a dinner service! We did however find some nice china which has a French look about it and is indeed made in France not far from Limoges!

I tried to take a photo of our china to insert here but the light wasn't good enough



Bambi in the front garden - have you got your magnifying glass?

Those poor cats - they did find life a trial to begin with what with the china falling and terrifying them, not being allowed outside for a week or so (although they had fun exploring the sous-sol - the basement area which is common in French houses - and the pile of logs down there) and then one day Bambi was sitting looking out of the large patio doors towards the field next door which had been empty since our arrival. There was just a wire fence and a small narrow chemin (grassy lane) between us and the field and this particular day there were some Limousin cattle in the field right up by the wire fence and almost in our garden it would appear. With eyes like saucers she went to tell Thomas about these huge creatures and he sauntered in to sit by the window and see for him self. Oh my word - his eyes popped out on stalks, his ears went flat and he slunk carefully away from the window with his belly almost on the floor and shot down the stairs into the sous-sol and hid in its furthest recesses behind the log pile!! He had seen dogs before but never that big he said when I went to find him. He said his mother told him "Never mind being brave if in doubt just run away"!!


One day I was out in the garden and there was such a coccophony overhead and I looked up to see a "V" of huge birds going over. This was the migration of the cranes which fly north for the summer and return again in the autumn. Monsieur next door who was also in his garden at the time told me that the cranes flying over signals the end of winter. Those cranes must have been new to the job I think as we had lots of snow the week after and winter continued for several weeks longer! That is something I miss now that we are back in England the sight of those majestic birds with their 6 foot wingspan all flying over in their hundreds twice a year. They used to often choose just over our house to regroup and you could hear them arguing amongst themselves as they decided whose turn it was to be at the front and who could be behind where it is easier in the slipstream. Then suddenly they would reform into the fantastic V and be off again.


I will leave it there for the moment but rest assured that by then we were settled into our new home enjoying having a real log fire in the evenings and our life in France had begun.

I am sorry that I don't have more pictures of this time to illustrate the saga. You will just have to use your imaginations I am afraid!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Bits and bobs!



What's this lurking in my airing cupboard? Well you remember that lovely soft tops which I planned to spin into a fantastic rainbowed coloured yarn? I got the spinning wheel out the other day and tried to remember how it went and produced this!




"Could do better " - MUST do better I think! I can't remember how to ply the stuff whilst keeping the colours separate and not getting this wasp style yarn suitable only for a pullover for Dennis the Menace (although I think he favoured red and black didn't he?) So somewhat disheartened and it being time for tea anyway I put the wheel away and went on to the next thing as is my wont!






Yesterday I had a thought - I do occasionally you know! - and got some of the blue tops out and had a go at making some felt balls with a little more success than I had had with the spinning I must say! So the first picture is my little balls drying in the airing cupboard.




I wondered if I might use them together with the blue flower I made earlier - not yet finished off naturally - to make a corsage or bag ornament - what do they call those things you hang from your bag handle? Memory is going I'm afraid. I envisaged adding them hanging on cords or maybe a ribbon or 2. Might also felt some of the green tops to make some leaves.




At this rate there will be none left to practice spinning with will there? I enjoyed playing with it though and must have the cleanest hands in Christendom now after all that rolling of the soapy wool to get make the balls.



You can see why I never get anything done can't you? My visitors will be arriving the day after tomorrow and I am still faffing about with felt balls and nothing in the freezer nor beds made up or anything! Better go.

Jane



Later this evening::








Just finished off the bag thing-y. What do you think?

Sunday, 23 August 2009

FRENCH IDYLL

Skip this post if you are not interested in the French Idyll saga!




I think last time I left the story we were enjoying (or sometimes not!) our time in the rented cottage. Well eventually we came to the end of our stay there and left for home. I must say I was elated to be going home but it was difficult to know whether that was because I had been in rented accommodation without any thing much to do and without our 2 cats and towards the end of our stay Thomas had been hospitalised for an op on his leg and I wanted to get back to be with him but we had friends already booked to come over so couldn't leave early. Glad to say all was well with Tom who was pleased to see me again. I remember as we left the Eurotunnel on the English side I punched the air and shouted "Yesssss!" I was really glad to be back and very soon settled back to life in Surrey with all my friends.


However one of the friends we had made during our sojourn e-mailed in the summer to invite us to stay as it was her husband's 70th birthday and they wanted us to attend the party. Whilst we were with them we were passing an estate agent's one day and stopped to look in the window as you do. Before you could say "knife" our friend was in there making an appointment for us to view a couple of properties! To cut a long story short the seed was sown and although we didn't like either of those properties the idea of moving to a home of our own - this time in or near a town so that we would have facilites on our doorstep - re-surfaced and we went back later to have a proper look. After looking at about 30 properties all told - including during our period of renting - we came upon the one we bought and just fell in love with it.




It was a sunny September afternoon when we first visited the house and when we went inside and saw the view from the back where a new extension had been added with huge patio doors opening onto a terrace and this amazing view we just had to have it!




Actually these photos were taken after we moved in and at the time we viewed the shutters were painted white and the view was slightly obscurred by several pine trees but even so we could see that from the back we had no houses between us and the 8 km distant little town of Oradour sur Glane. To one side we had a field of Limousin cattle and at the front was this garden space fronting onto a little chemin (grassy lane) off the road to the village. Blissfully peaceful but with neighbours to one side and in the village.




Buying a house in France is not quite like here and once our offer had been accepted we had to meet with the vendor - a very nice widow in her 50s - at the estate agents and we both had to sign numerous papers in which we promised to buy and she promised to sell. We then had a 7 day cooling off period and then the agreement would be binding on both sides! The French rarely have surveys done and as the house was only 25 years old and not a tumble down wreck we decided not to either!

We went home and put our house in Surrey on the market and luckily we got a buyer with nothing to sell and all went smoothly there. I can't really remember the details now but it was quite stressful what with the sale in UK and the purchase in France but eventually we got the money sorted and transferred to France and we went over to sign the papers which we were given to understand had to be done in person. We drove over with a car loaded up with items for our first night - the rest of our stuff was to be dealt with our removal company and we hoped to fly back to finish off in UK and to leave the car loaded with our belongings in the garage of what would by then - we thought - be our house. We had organised a bridging loan so that we didn't have to vacate our UK house until a week or so later when the sale on that was finalised.

Well... of course we should have known some spanner would be thrown into the works and so it was. The estate agent informed us that our money was stuck in the notaire's account in Paris and so the signing could not actually take place until it was with the local notaire. So the house was not ours yet. Luckily the vendor had already moved out and was agreeable to our leaving the car in what was legally still her house. We flew back exhausted and frustrated having given the estate agent power of attourney to sign on our behalf. So why couldn't we have done that in the first place I wonder?!!

The papers were signed the following day when the money came through and all was well. Now all we had to overcome was the actual removal from UK to France.

Of course all was further complicated by the fact that it was by now Christmas time and solicitors were not available till after the new year! Still we were able to kill 2 birds with one stone and before all our stuff was packed we had a Goodbye/Christmas/New Year party for all our friends. We had a brilliant firm of removers who although not cheap were so professional and kept me from going completely barmy by knowing just how to sooth the troubled breast or whatever!!

Cats were all set with their passports by now, baskets at the ready and the house was emptied of all but a double bed we had sold to our buyers and a garden bench. We spent our last night in our old home camping out but we were so tired we slept like logs ready for our early start the following day. It was sad to say goodbye to our daughter who by this time had moved out and was living in a house share not far away so she came round on that last evening.

Moving day arrived bright and clear and we set off.....

To be continued

LONDON - AGAIN

Just a quick post today as I intend to do another of my French Idyll postings later but for those of you who are not interested in France here are a few pictures of our day out yesterday.
We decided to take advantage of the special offer during August again and went to London once more. This time we went to the Museum of Brands and Packaging - www.museumofbrands.com which I had read about on one of the blogs I follow. It was most interesting and is housed in a little mews building in Notting Hill. We did enjoy it but how scary it is these days that so much of what we see in museums we can remember using! I have no pictures of the museum as there was a notice forbidding taking of photos without special permission which I didn't seek!
After our time in the museum we wandered back to the station at Notting Hill Gate wondering what it might be like to live in some of the lovely homes along the way. Lunch in a good Italian restaurant with a window seat watching people passing by and then to Oxford Street and tea and scone in John Lewis.
On our way back to the station I remembered my camera! Here are some pictures taken as we crossed the bridge to Waterloo.


This view always amazes me and I am reminded of a poem I once read
London Bridge
This is London Bridge
the river subdued
by stone.
Gaining Hungerford Bridge
from Victoria Embankment
And here's the bridge;
the black, endemoned road below
has given way to sky
and firm embanked
and deep and steady in its course
the curvilinear Thames flows to the gaze.
Take in this long horizon
let noise and pollution ebb
for the free-form, water world of boats
orderly as they give or gather way
or go about to land precise as toys.
A train rolls in,
its passengers breathe 'London'.
To the east, financial towers,
Canary Wharf, St Paul's,
stand, as do the living,
shrouded in traffic fog.

Or of the quote by Samuel in which he says that "when a man is tired of London he is tired of life". How could one get tired of London with all its variety? The London Eye shown here gives another dimension to the view - we didn't go on it yesterday but I have done so and the views are amazing!
This lady was "painting" a pavement masterpiece. Can you imagine all that effort to be washed away in the next shower of rain?!



And so to Waterloo - which is full of memories for me and I love it. I remember it in the days of steam trains when it was a dirty bustling place but now it is clean and light and still bustling with throngs of people of every nationality speaking in so many languages. It is what London is all about really - coming and going, mixed races all together, poverty and wealth, a real melting pot and its all MINE - that was one of the things I missed in France and the fact that I was an immigrant and none of it belonged to me!!


Have just had breakfast in our conservatory and even though I loved some of the lovely houses we saw in Notting Hill and even though I enjoyed the hussle and bussle of London with all the things there are to do - we could never see it all however long we lived - I know that I would miss this view each morning! I am so lucky that I can have it both aren't I?!!
Hope you are having a good weekend
Jane



Friday, 21 August 2009

Wooly thoughts

IN THE POST!

The postman arrived today with this sack addressed to me. He said "You've got the sack! LOL!
What was inside? I hear you ask - well it was some merino tops for spinning. You see since I have been blogging I have become more motivated to do the crafts I love and my poor spinning wheel has been sitting idle for years so I thought I would bring it out of retirement and have a go.
How lovely and soft the wool is I can already see it ready for knitting up into a scarf.
Don't you just love the colours in this autumn selection?
And in the blue/green mix?
Will I still remember how to do it? Will I end up with a skein of kharki string where I have mixed the yarns together? Or spun it too tightly? Or might I just have a skein of something lovely, soft and rainbow coloured? Only time will tell. More on this later.
A couple of other pictures for you:
My patchwork effort from yesterday. Another cushion cover I think and not a design I will be repeating as it was long winded to cut out and I have to say not worth the effort to produce - this was 4 hours labour!
And another cat - I know you love cats from your comments.
Here is a photo of the "silver medalist" in the boys' relaxation class - a neighbour's cat who often visits our garden and seems to enjoy taking his nap on our garden chairs - maybe he knows how well his ginger coat goes with the blue paintwork? I must say I think Thomas (gold medalist) knows a thing or two about comfort as this hard slatted seat doesn't look that comfortable to me but Ginger seemed to think it was OK. Maybe he is a youngster and doesn't need the softness our pampered pair demand?
Have a good weekend
Jane

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Simple things

Hello there - firstly thank you all so much for your lovely comments - I cannot believe that I have been blogging for just 2 weeks and have already so many wonderful supportive friends out there. Isn't modern technology wonderful?!!
I am glad to say that my grey blanket has lifted somewhat and although this morning we woke to rain yet again and to find that the badgers had paid us a visit and churned up the lawn I am feeling more cheerful!
My little friend here - gold medalist in relaxation - certainly knows all about the peaceful life and he could teach me a thing or two about acceptance, taking life as it comes, being happy etc and I am sure his motto is "Don't worry!" He is so good for me.

Don't worry about the specks of mud I have brought in on my wet paws...

.... I love you too but please let a chap get a bit of shut-eye won't you?!!

The other day - when I was down in the dumps - I went to a charity shop and discovered a pile of old Country Living magazines for sale at 20p each so I bought 5 of them (all last year's when I was living in France so didn't have access to British magazines that often). Brought them home and later that day I sat down with them, cup of tea to hand and having given myself a good talking to I resolved to enjoy my five mineute peace and quiet. I dare say many of you will be familiar with these pictures already but I just love the photography in CL magazines s don't you?


Autumn - not far away now I feel and aren't these rosehips just so beautiful and evocative of country walks well wrapped up in wooly scarves and jumpers?

Indeed it is the simple things that mean so much and this picture says it all doesn't it? Just a simple sprig of flowers in an odd teacup - who needs exotic flowers flown in from foreign climes arranged in magnificent cut glass vases?

I could almost smell the perfume of these lilac blooms. By the time I had finished my tea and browsed my way through a couple of my new/old magazines my world was already looking brighter.

Along with the magazines I also picked up this pretty tablecloth which I hope to do something with - cushion covers, bags, coat hanger covers - any ideas?

I wonder who embroidered it - what stories of tea times long past it might tell.

I am off to my patchwork lesson this afternoon - this is the result of the last session. I think I will make it into a cushion cover rather than make sufficient blocks for a full quilt - I am rapidly coming to think that this isn't really my metier!!

All for now.

Jane

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Blue


I am not at all inspired to post at the moment - I have been in one of my "under a grey blanket" moods lately - take no notice of me it will pass as always but just at present although I know I have so much to be glad about and how lucky I am I don't feel that in my heart. So for today a brief post only in case it is contagious!
I finished off the orange flower last night with a couple of leaves and a pin on the back. I also made a blue one - see above - and a tweedy one which didn't come out on the photos.
This morning I walked into town and noticed not for the first time how beautiful buddleia flowers are - see each tiny floret has a fabulous orange centre. No wonder the butterflies love them!
I had a lucky find this morning when I went into M&S and found a white T-shirt exactly like the one I managed to get tomato sauce on when wearing it for the first time at the weekend! As they were only £4 I felt I could afford to buy another to replace it. Imagine my feelings then when the lady at the cash desk told me it was in the sale and priced at £2 now and of course with the reduction in VAT that meant I only paid £1.96!!


This afternoon I went to the yarn shop and bought these cotton yarns in the sale - I have an idea to use them to make some tiny flowers and to make a ...? Ha you must wait and see.
Hope to be feeling in the pink next time I post. Thank you for all you comments too.
Jane

Sunday, 16 August 2009

This and that

My sister-in-law went home yesterday afternoon having brought me a bag of odds and ends of wool and other yarns so I sat down last night and had a go at making some crochet flowers. I must have been tired - indeed I did sleep for 9 hours last night!) but I just couldn't get my head round some of the patterns. Not helped by the fact that some were American and some English!! Anyway I did finally managae this little orange gem which I am quite pleased with.


Not sure whether to add some leaves and whether or not to put something in the centre. Probably depends on whether I intend to use it as a corsage or to make more and decorate something with them (another bag perhaps?!)

Amongst the yarns in my bag I found this lovely pink mohair so had a go at the same pattern in that. I did think I might felt it but now I think I would probably end up with just a felted blob!


Decided that this one might be improved with a button centre so got out my button box and found these beauties.

The small plain brass one perhaps?



Or the black woven silk one?


Or maybe this fancy metal one? What do you think?

Whilst searching for the button box I came across a couple of bags which had been missed in my bag lady post recently and thought you might like to see these too.
This one is made using some felt I had a go at making some time ago.



Here it is in close up.
This one was done as part of my City and Guilds Creative Textile course donkey's years ago. The bag was woven on a piece of soft board and the flowers on the loom whilst the strap is made of tablet weaving. The whole thing was woven from Wilton Carpet wool which you used to be able to buy at the factory in Wilton - sadly now it seems to be a factory outlet centre!

Here is a close up of the flowers and leaves etc.

And another!
Enough of all that - I must stop now and go and enjoy the sunshine. My washing should be dry now too!
Enjoy the remainder of the weekend.
Jane