Archive for category Life in France

What I’m Doing Instead of Zumba this Saturday Morning

**Warning: Heavy with craft photos and dog related text but all for a good cause.

This is Taz my ‘who knows what mixture of breeds?’ dog – we have had him since he was a pup.

Elderly Dog

He’s getting on now and, at eleven years old, he’s going grey, losing his hair and getting a bit grumpy.  Just like a lot of  humans really.  Much as I love him, he is a bit of a pain in his dotage.  He spends his days foraging for food, grumbling at the cats, lying across the kitchen floor in front of the fridge/cooker/cupboard/wherever you need to get to and bumping into things as his sight is going.  He spends his evenings sleeping, snoring and ‘scenting’ the air with the gaseous results of his aforementioned foraging and his nights wandering the corridor and aimlessly scraping at doors before sinking into a deep sleep.

I can only imagine then, what it must be like to care for 30 old dogs in your own home.  I don’t think I could do it but, luckily, there are people that can.  Mike and Leeanne came to France from the U.K. and have somehow found themselves dedicated to the care and comfort of elderly and disabled dogs by starting the Twilight Retirement Home for Dogs or, as we are in France, Twilight Maison de Retraite pour les chiens you can read all about them here .

Twilight Maison de Retraite

This Saturday we are holding a fundraising event for Twilight and, although I don’t do craft fairs as a rule, I’m going along with some of my wares to see if we can’t help with the food, extensive vet bills and general running costs of caring for so many ‘retired’ dogs all in one place that Mike and Leanne face.

Of course, I will have my dog collars for sale….

Hand Made Dog Collars for Fundraising

Some dog bandanas……

Dog Bandanas for Fundraising

some simple tote bags (who let the cats in?)……..

Simple Tote Bags for Fundraising

some more cats disguised as angels……

Scented Cat Hanging Decs

a couple of knitted dog coats…….

Knitted Dog Coats

a few key fobs made with the leftover dog collar materials……

Key Fobs for Fundraising

the results of my recent foray into needlecases……

Quilted Needlecases

some mini poufs that have been taking up space in my workroom for a little while…….

Hexagon Cushions

likewise some doorstops……

Fabric Doorstops

four or five padded message boards……

Padded Noticeboards

a set of coasters…..

Reindeer Coasters

a rather fetching linen handbag I made which has Eiffel Towers on the lining fabric – très chic …..

Linen Purse

and a partridge in a pear tree an owl with a Christmas tree

Bookend

I just hope there will be people looking to buy some stocking fillers and I don’t come home with all of it .  I usually do my part by buying home made cakes (especially the ginger cake and Christmas pudding as they aren’t easy to come by here and Debbie makes some scrummy ones),  the bottle tombola (the bottles are generally full of something alcoholic) , some second hand books and whatever else takes my fancy.

I can always go and fling myself around in Zumba next Saturday but I’ll leave the last words to Mike and Leeanne to explain how Twilight came about.

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We started Twilight in the summer of 2009, in memory of losing our Kizzy, and needing to find a friend for our elderly but happy retriever, Teg.
It became evident, searching the pounds and refuges, that if you were an old
dog, life was not always so good, and your ending might be premature and/or without dignity.
So now we offer limited places for elderly dogs who are lost, abandoned or bereaved of their owners.

We are not a formal refuge, just mere volunteers with the time, space and love to share our calm home with the dogs ?en famille?. Twilight, La Maison de Retraite pour Les Chiens, the old doggies home.

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I Used To Wear High Heels

As I sit here typing this short post and listening to my dogs expelling the noxious gases that have resulted from them eating all the fallen plums in the garden, I find myself reflecting on how the townie I once was could have ended up in rural France with too many dogs, cats and chickens.

You may remember the cockerel, Darth.  I included a bit about him in a previous post when I was researching humane ways to put him out of his misery as he kept falling over and having problems getting up again.  Having rejected the suggested methods, one of which was putting him in a bucket attached to the exhaust pipe of the car, I decided to let nature take its course and see what happened.  Fifteen months later he is still strutting around and making a racket – maybe somebody tipped him off to what I was thinking.

CockerelAged 9

Mlle. Tialys the Younger phoned me when I was at my friend’s house the other day because, on one of her rare trips into the light of day, she noticed Darth was falling over again.  When I got home I had a look at him and realised his spurs had grown so long he had to perform a ridiculous high step to get one leg past the other without impaling himself on them.  I Googled.  I put on my waterproof walking trousers in case of blood or chicken poo, armed myself with a thick towel, virginal garden gloves (Mr. Tialys buys me them in the hope that I might actually do some gardening), the dogs’ nail clippers, some kitchen roll, some disinfectant and one of these –

Baked Potato

Well, my one wasn’t cut open and didn’t have butter on it but a baked potato it was.

As directed on YouTube, I stuck the overgrown spurs of my astounded cockerel into hot potatoes (I took two up with me – one for each leg), patiently waited a few minutes and then had a bit of a twist with the nail clippers.  I should have had pliers but couldn’t find them in Mr. T’s fiendishly disorganised shed.  I didn’t think anything was going to happen but then, suddenly, I felt it give and I got myself a little trophy.

Removed chicken spur

(cotton reel for scale)

This procedure exposed a couple of little bloody stumps  which I squirted with animal disinfectant and, almost immediately, he appeared much more comfortable.

If you had known me back in the day, you would never, ever have believed this was the sort of thing I would end up doing.

Ain’t life funny?

A short post (for me) as I’m off on my holiday soon and I didn’t want you to think I’d given up blogging as I gave up Facebook this week (not difficult) but that’s another story for another time.

Hasta la vista (guess where I’m going).

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Putting off Pants

I know I’m English and we call pants ‘trousers’ but I do like a touch of alliteration and I have some readers from the States so, if you thought this was going to be about  men’s knickers, sorry to disappoint.  The reality is much less exciting I’m afraid, being more concerned with knitted stuff so there you have your heads up and can leave without anybody ever knowing you were here.

Here’s a very French village photo for you.  It is my lonely stall set up outside the Mairie (town hall) a couple of weeks ago.  It does look like I’m Billy No Mates but, inside there were lots of other stalls raising money for Dog Rescue Carcassonne.  I chose to set up outside partly because it was a lovely sunny morning and partly because I had to leave early to take my Mum back to the airport so I sold a few dog collars and bandanas and said my goodbyes without creating havoc inside amongst the other stalls.

French Mairie

So, when my Mum visits, I knit to be more sociable and generally only use the computer or sew when she is catching some ‘Zs’ which is fairly often these days it has to be said.

This is my second completed humungus cable blanket.  It is a subtle, flecked duck egg blue but I couldn’t, for the life of me, get that colour to come out properly in the photograph so it looks much more like a light grey, which it isn’t.  I did try – I even turned off the ‘auto’ setting and dipped into the realms of manually setting the aperture and all that scary stuff .  Any photography tips on how to tackle this sort of problem would be gratefully received.

2ndHugeBlanketDuckEggBlue

 It’s actually like this.

james c. brett rustic aran

 (manufacturer’s photo!)

I love this blanket so much.  I’ve already ordered enough yarn to make another two which is a bit mad because, now the summer is starting to kick in, I shall probably die of heat and suffocation under more than 2kg of wool.

This light and airy baby blanket, on the other hand, is made using the same size needles – 20mm – but with only one strand of yarn rather than six strands, as used in the humungus one, so it is more ‘summer friendly’.  Having no babies any more, I had to use this bear as a model.  I could have used one of my baby mannequins but they are far too creepy – the bear looks cuter, trust me.

BabyBlanket (2)To supplement my dog collars and bandanas range, I thought I’d have a go at knitting some dog coats.  I know it is the wrong time of year but you know how quickly the year passes and soon it will be time for those who like or need to put a little jumper on their dog to do so again.

KnittedDogCoatsThis is James C. Brett Marble Chunky and it is great to knit with and comes up with some lovely colour variations.  The grey one at the top has been a little overshadowed by the lovely, rust and teal tones of the one beneath but it is still smart and for the less ‘showy’ dog about town.  My problem is, I made these two versions in a ‘medium’ size and my own dogs are larger than that and nobody I know has ‘medium’ dogs – only large or small.  I feel like taking one out and about with me and, when I see somebody with an appropriately sized dog, ask if I can put a little knitted coat on their pet and take a photo.

That way madness lies.

Anyway, Flo, having graciously tried on the grey coat but finding it a little snug, continued with her collar modelling and, although this photo was no good to show off the collar, as it wasn’t properly in focus, it’s such a gorgeous one of her I had to include it anyway.

Black and White Dog

You’re probably past caring by now but, just in case you were wondering about the title, I no longer have any excuse not to get started on a pair of trousers (pants!) for my daughter.  I have the pattern, I have the fabric, I have the zip.  It’s just that I’ve never made trousers before and my daughter is not a ‘standard’ size and I suspect I might be better at procrastination than pants making.

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Bird Calls

 I love the winter days when the sky is blue, the air is crisp and you can see snow but it’s not right on your doorstep.

Pyrenees in January

   The skiers are complaining as there’s not enough snow but that’s fine by me.  I find skiing too much of a faff – far too much equipment to grapple with, too many clothes to get on and off, the roads are slippy and dangerous leading up to the slopes and it’s too cold for my liking.  Those mountain tops are a half hour’s drive away and I’m satisfied with just looking.  I wish the French would bury their wires though 😦  I could have got a view without the wires from higher up in my garden but I was in my bedroom, the camera was to hand and, anyway, this is the reality.

Still, with all that on my doorstep, I do get homesick from time to time so I have inflicted this reminder on the local wildlife.

British Telephone Box for Birds

It was a toss up between this one and Dr. Who’s Tardis.  Maybe I should have gone for that as it would probably have been bigger on the inside 😉

Can anyone explain why the birds are leaving those fat balls alone in favour of the sunflower seeds yet, at other times, it seems to be the other way round?   We get blue tits, nuthatches, robins, coal tits and finches mostly.  If it’s very cold the occasional blackbird and dove fly up on to the balcony.   Unsurprisingly, we get lots of sunflowers springing up under the balcony in the summer.

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A Very French Affair

Not that sort of affair – as if I’d tell – but one where I have made a dress from a French indie designer and will be wearing it – weather permitting – to the biggest flea market in the whole of France this weekend and eating copious amounts of moules frites.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress (2)

 Lille was only known to me before as a train station where one would change trains if travelling to Disneyland Paris from the U.K. on the Eurostar but it is also host, on the first weekend of September every year, to a huge, ginormous flea market which usually sees between 2 and 3 million visitors thronging the streets in search of interesting antiques,  retro home decor, vintage clothing and everything in between.  The streets are closed to traffic and there are all sorts of vendors there from people clearing out their houses to big antique dealers.  It is the largest in France and there will be around 10,000 stalls – should keep us busy.

Braderie Lille

I’ve fancied going there since I heard about it a few years ago and now I have a willing accomplice who is coming with me.  We are actually flying up as we are in the south of France and have already started panicking about the luggage allowance –  2kg in the hold and a 55x40x20cm cabin bag allowance – how will we manage when we just know we are going to want to bring back much more?  The alternative would have been to drive up but that would take around 10 hours and add another day on to either side of our trip so we abandoned that idea.  The hotels fill up really quickly but we found an apartment to stay in  which is right in the centre of the activity – – the owner is fleeing the place for the duration!

Mussel Mountain Lille

Apparently moules frites must be eaten and the restaurants have a competition to see who can build the biggest mussel shell mountain outside of their establishment.

We will arrive on the Friday and settle in ready for the onslaught on Saturday.  Apparently, making use of the streets being closed to traffic, a half marathon is run through the city on the Saturday morning – we won’t be participating in this needless to say as I haven’t got any room in my case for unnecessary things like running shoes and lycra shorts.  Shame, but there you are.    The market goes through the night and all through Sunday and I expect to be thoroughly exhausted by the time we arrive back on Monday afternoon not least because my friend who is coming with me is French and takes no prisoners with the speed of her speech so I will be suffering from French Language Overload a condition none the less real just because I’ve made it up.

Thinking ahead about treading the streets of a city shoulder to shoulder with a couple of million other people, I have chosen my armoury.

Comfy shoes – 3 pairs

I have heard much about these Swedish cloggy things and understand that they are very comfortable and made for people who are on their feet all day.  We will see.  I hope it is true as I’ve bought two  pairs – the other pair has higher heels and a completely wooden sole.  They are not my ‘go to’ style of choice if I’m honest but, on the day, comfort will be paramount.  I will also put my beat up pair of Birkenstocks in as they are very light and I can carry them around in case I need to change halfway through the day.

Lotta of Stockholm Soft Sole Clogs

Bag on Wheels 

Oh look it matches the shoes.  I hope this isn’t too far down the road towards an old lady bag in tartan with a rigid handle but it’s a cabin bag that I can also use as a flea market shopping bag.  It was designed specially to fit Ryanair’s cabin bag size restrictions and, although I’m not flying with them, it suits the other economy carriers too.  I like the way the manufacturers have printed the dimensions on the front of the bag as if to say  ‘so there!’ to the check-in staff.   The plan is to carry it around the market over my shoulder until I can bear the weight no longer and then wheel it.

DSC_0053

which brings me to

Portable Weighing Scales

To weigh any prospective purchase if it looks like it  might take up too much of my allowance, and to ensure my suitcase, which will be stuffed to the gills, doesn’t go over 20 kilos.

Bum Bag (or Fanny Bag *snigger, snigger* for those of you across the pond)

To keep the thieving buggers, who are bound to be there preying on the crowds, out of my cash.  This, after my mother had her shoulder bag split open from behind and her purse stolen whilst alone in a Spanish market – she’s 82, have they no shame?  (Just a mini rant there, sorry).

To save space in my case on the way out (it will be packed with bubble wrap), I will wear jeans and just take a couple of tops.  However, if we venture out for our banquet of Moules Frites in the evening, and it is warm, I will wear my new dress that I finished yesterday.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress 1

This is the Deer and Doe Reglisse dress.  Deer and Doe are a French indie design company so it was good to be able to buy ‘local’ and get free postage -a rare thing in France unless you first spend gazillions of euros.

As you know, I will do anything to avoid buttons, zips and other fiddling about but, in order to do so, I generally have to cut on the bias and buy multi metres of fabric – this dress takes around 3 metres – but I love the resulting swishy skirt.   I made the dress according to the pattern without any alterations.   I’d already made a blouse from the pattern using a hack from another blogger so I knew what size to make.  However, the pattern calls for cotton chambray or similar and I thought it would look good in a drapier fabric so, instead of putting bias binding round the hem I did a rolled hem on the overlocker to avoid it looking too ‘weighted down’.  Apart from that, no changes.

Deer and Doe Reglisse Dress 3

I think this is a dress I will get a lot of wear out of.  It’s comfortable and can be dressed up or down (usually down in my case!) and I think it will be ideal for taking this weekend as my one and only ‘frock’ as, if the sun doesn’t shine, it will look fine with a thin jacket or cardi over the top.

A bientôt .

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A Rant, Another Knitting Dilemma and More Mannequin Madness

Warning:  Sensitive cyclists do not read on.

Disclaimer:  Some of my best friends are cyclists.  True.  One such madwoman friend is cycling from Paris to where I live in the South of France which is almost 800 km – a distance I consider fit only for an aircraft.

Vintage French Cycling Postcard

They love cycling in France and it appears to take priority over other traffic be it pedestrian, car or ambulance.   I don’t love cycling.  I’m not talking about cycling down to the bakery to get your croissants or zipping round to see your friend on the other side of town or gently trundling along taking in some beautiful scenery.  I’m talking about vast armies of cyclists, five or six abreast, steaming down country roads, grimly determined and in my way.  I don’t like the hideous lycra they wear or the way they hog more than one lane.  I can’t understand the attraction of standing by the side of the road watching streams of bikes going by in a blur or parking your vehicle on a bend to watch so that cars can’t get past you for 10 minutes in case they knock over one of the oncoming cyclists.   If  it had been suggested,  some years ago, that  men (as they mostly seem to be) put on skin tight body stockings and wore them in public the idea would have been laughed out of town.     It is particularly unappealing when they stop by the side of the road and, without bothering to conceal themselves in the trees, face the oncoming  traffic that is already being forced to go at a snail’s pace and take a pee –  although that is something observed regularly here in France even when there is not a bike race going on or lycra to contend with.  I can barely wait for the Tour de France next month.

They made me late for my yoga class this morning but I’m not bitter.

no cycling

Anyway, rant over (until the next time) and here is a sneak peak of my dress for the Outfit Along which, to be honest, I haven’t really been ‘alonging’ with but I’ve made it and it will be photographed and entered.  I have recently learnt – too recently for this dress – that you should make the size of dress or top  for your upper bust measurement, not your full bust because that will make the shoulders and neckline too big for you, and then you do a full bust adjustment.  Oops!  So that’s where I’ve been going wrong.  My last couple of dresses that have had fitted bodices have indeed been too big on the shoulders.  Next time……..

Simplicity 1803The cardigan part of the outfit has also had its problems.  I didn’t like the way I had picked up the stitches for the sleeves so I have frogged both of them and then I realised that I had cast off the stitches of the body too tightly and there was no way that ribbing was going to stretch round my waist.  So I, very carefully and with much trepidation, undid the cast off and redid it using Jenys Stretchy Bind Off.   Now it will!  Just got to do those sleeves again now.

Myrna CardiganDespite sharing my life with quite a few vintage French mannequins,   one of which I sent off to Canada a couple of weeks ago in a box big enough for a coffin, I decided I needed an adjustable mannequin to help me in my dressmaking endeavours.  My friend had a Lady Valet and I thought it looked good as well as being useful so I treated myself.

lady valet dress form

 Handsome aren’t they?

However, I had to buy the small size (the one on the right) for all my measurements including the chest but, though  I don’t like to brag,  that girl has got nothing on me in the bust department.  So, what to do?  I googled it, as I do most things I don’t know about, and found that you must not only adjust a dress form to your measurements but pad it a bit to make it feel more like flesh and, if need be, put one of your bras on it and pad to the desired fullness.  Then you must cover the whole thing in a body stocking of sorts – should have nabbed one of those cyclists this morning – or use, as I did, a sort of body shaping slip that I sometimes wear if I have a very fitted dress and don’t want lines of underwear showing.  So now, instead of my beautiful, clean looking mannequin on her lovely wooden stand, I have this.
DSC_0011 Note the chest cracked open as if for heart surgery as I struggled to make a doppelganger of myself.  I must neither gain nor lose weight as I don’t want to go through that process again and my plans for noting down the measurements of the Tialys madamoiselles and altering the dress form to suit when I’m making something for them will also not be implemented any time soon.

On the subject of mannequins, you may recall that I bought a baby sized one recently in order to get better photographs of the baby clothes I’m making.  Just to remind you here it is

Baby Mannequin

Well, guess what, it’s too big.  So now, having got the idea in my head, I’ve had to find another, smaller one.  No matter, this one can go in my shop – it’s from Paris dontchaknow.  Unfortunately, despite these tiny ones giving me the creeps and being grateful it had no face the one winging its way to me as we speak actually does have a head.  Plus, and I don’t know whether this makes matters better or worse, you can remove  it.  I feel a nightmare coming on.

I am no longer ‘waiting for the wadding’ as mentioned in my last post.   It is sandwiched between the front and back layers of my quilt and basted with curvy safety pins.  Off to start quilting it as it’s taking up my workroom floor and I won’t be able to get anything else done until it is at least de-masking taped from the floorboards.

 

* Post not sponsored by Lycra

 

 

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Early Birds

Today it is (yet another) public holiday here in France.  We got up early because, we both need to drive to the airport this afternoon, one of us to leave for a few days and the other to pick up Mlle Tialys the elder who is visiting  home for the rest of the month to get her breath back after the endless parties and general student goings on studying of the past university year.  But first we wanted to go to a plant and brocante market and the village which holds this annual event also has its usual market day on Monday mornings so it gets absolutely packed and it is difficult to park, walk or breathe if you leave it too late.  Ask me how I know.  Also it is really  hot at the moment and it is better to get these things done in the relative cool of the morning.

Garden Gargoyle

Not a photo of me this morning – though quite close.  Do you think he looks prettier for having a rose growing behind his ear?  This had happened by accident, not design, which is why I took the photo.

We went to the market with the intention of buying a plant or tree to go over the final resting place of our old German Shepherd, Phoebe, who died last year and was buried (with much exertion and dedication – she weighed 45kg) on one of the higher terraces in our garden.  At the moment she is covered in Iris flowers but we wanted something more permanent.  However, it was mostly herbaceous plants for sale so we ended up with a plumbago for the terrace

plumbago

and a bignone for somewhere else in the garden but we don’t know where yet.

bignone

Of course the brocante part was not neglected and I found this lovely brass cherub holding aloft a diamond cut glass coupe surrounded by flying birds.  Over the top?  Mais, non!  Well, a bit I suppose but it is very Paris Appartment as I like to call this style (or Hollywood Glamour if you prefer)

DSC_0009

I have an obsession with old French cutting boards at the moment. I love that they were probably made by the man of the house and used to death for years and years.  I love the primitive way they have been fashioned, the visible marks of years of use and the grain and texture of the wood.   Most of them I find are in an unloved state but I give them a light sanding and a coat or two of food safe oil and this usually brings the grain up to its former glory.  These old cutting boards are made in very primitive fashion, practically hewn out of the trunk – I’ve had some still with the bark on before.  They are generally really thick and chunky and lopsided, covered in knife cuts and with deep depressions where food has been chopped or bread sliced for many years.  They are gorgeous.

Here are some I’ve had in the past all with their own characters and now in new homes for an even more extended useful (or decorative) life.

Old French Chopping Board

It doesn’t matter if they are split, scratched and holey.

Large French Chopping Board

This handle has worn smooth with use and has a deep depression in the centre where most of the chopping and cutting went on.

Primitive French Chopping BoardI’m not sure how much wine had been consumed when this one was made – look at the handle and the remains of bark.

Old French Bread Board with Knot

A lovely big knot in this one.

Usually, I am persuaded(!) that we cannot keep more than one cutting board – although I have kept a gorgeous small version which is easily concealed – but today I found one that I won’t be parting with.

It weighs nearly 3kg (around 6.6lbs)

antique french chopping boardit is 46cm (18 inches) long and 8cm (3 inches) thick in places

Antique French Bread Boardand whoever made it carved his initials into the handle

French Chopping Board with Initials

what’s not to love?

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Come In While It’s Tidy

I just realised, whilst going back over some old posts, that I didn’t update you on our little bit of building work that turned into a bigger bit of building work.

Do you remember this?

fireplacerenovsept13

Well, now it’s more like this (and has been for a couple of months now but I got distracted).

fireplacerenovspet133 (2)

If you click on the photo you get a nice big image but try not to notice the dust or the dog making the place look untidy.

Just thought I’d let you know as some of you expressed an interest in seeing the finished project.

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Gourds, Sunflowers and a Dire Warning

( very photo heavy post – just saying)

 

I thought I’d wandered into a kind of French South Park episode at the weekend when we decided to go to a nearby village and see ‘Le Jardin Enchanté’  (the enchanted garden) which is only rarely open to the public and saw this sign.

French Warning SIgnTranslation:   Supervise your Children – Stay with them.

Yes, there was a river with quite a few rocks around and the French aren’t ones to install safety barriers around things but I’m not sure the illustration needed to be quite so graphic.

RiverOr maybe it wasn’t graphic enough as this little tot’s father was actively encouraging a bit of extreme river and rock playtime.

The idea of the day – if I understood the blurb correctly and it’s possible I didn’t –  was to combine art with agriculture and there were some interesting examples.   Being the beginning of September, gourds and sunflowers were mostly the objets d’art of choice.

Decorated Gourd

Bath or Shower

Love the sunflower shower head.

Decorated Tree

and the dressed to kill tree

Clay Decoration

Not sure about the unfortunate swelling on the front there!

Gourd in Knickers

Marks and Spencer trying to save money on lingerie models?

gourd

Moving away from the primitive art, there were some gorgeous end of summer colours.  The sunflowers in our garden only grew due to the cast off seeds which dropped off the birdfeeder in the winter so we can’t take credit for those and we are a bit high up to grow some of the other plants so I was a bit envious.

 Sunflower Heads

Somebody’s been busy with flowerheads – these are floating in the river

DSC_0100

Late Summer Flowers

stones

Lots of time and effort (and stones) must have gone into some of these little structures

Stone Man

Straw Girl

Some quite subtle installations and (back to the primitive art)

Coal Scuttle Face

some not!

French Sign

It was a lovely place  with a very ‘hippy’ feel to it with brightly coloured baggy trousers, piercings and dreadlocks in abundance  – some spots along the river had incense sticks burning amongst the stones and flowers –  definitely different from the more traditional garden open day in the U.K.   Some of the ‘spectacles’ were a bit weird and very French.  One appeared to consist of a grown woman playing with a doll made out of straw in exactly the sort of way my daughters used to play with Barbies,  apparently for the entertainment of the crowd.   On this evidence we decided not to stay for the spectacles due to take place later in the day even though it was all free.   A good excuse for a family afternoon out  before college and University start again though and an opportunity to take some silly photos like Mlle. T the elder (in her recently finished handmade dress, please note!) pretending to use a gourd as a punch bag – as you do.

Large Gourd

Back to the sewing table next time and some tips on what to do with fabric covered in Dr. Who’s tardis – how I tempt you.

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Dog Days

Apparently, according to an internet source,  the dog days of summer are not a good time  “the Sea boiled, the Wine turned sour, Dogs grew mad, and all other creatures became languid; causing to man, among other diseases, burning fevers, hysterics, and phrensies.” Brady’s Clavis Calendaria, 1813.   Whilst dogs were involved and I did have a few hysterical and frenzied moments, I didn’t go near the sea and  never leave my wine long enough for it to become sour,  but it seemed like an appropriate title for the past few hot summer days.

Firstly, on Friday evening this little chap appeared at my front door.  I had guests over at the time and, each time one of them left, I discovered him still there, occasionally engaged in trying to mate with next door’s (male) Briard, a tricky exercise but one he seemed determined to master.

Lost Dog 1In the end, he found a way through into our garden through a side gate, made himself known (in many and various ways) to my two dogs and showed no signs of leaving.  I put him in the conservatory overnight which only served to freak out my cats, who usually sleep in there, and to make him howl and bark until Mlle Tialys the younger got up at 4.30 a.m. to keep him company.  I was fairly certain he was lost rather than abandoned – just look at his recently trimmed fringe – so, on Saturday morning we put up posters around the village and thought we’d phone round the local vets on Monday with his tattoo number.   On Saturday night, to avoid the howling, he slept in with Mlle T and was obviously used to such home comforts – although, personally,  I hesitate before  going in her room it has to be said.  Anyway, on Sunday, somebody had posted – almost directly opposite our Found Dog posters  – Lost Dog posters.  We took the number, phoned her and he was reunited with a tearful owner who has promised to think about getting him ‘done’ as the reason he escaped was to search out a certain local lady dog – hence his inappropriate behaviour with any dog he could find.  It was lucky for Kaya – as he is apparently called although he ignored us so totally we thought he was deaf  – that he took the route up to our house and not down to the busy main road. A happy ending for him but perhaps not so for the little bundle of matted, dusty dreadlocks who is lost dog number 2.

Lost Dog 2Mlle Tialys the elder had a friend over from University to stay with us for a week.  I was set to take her back to the airport yesterday but, before leaving, I wanted to give her a good lunch – no mean feat considering that she has recently discovered she might be a coeliac and therefore could eat none of the usual basics like bread, pastry, pasta, biscuits, cakes, etc. and every label had to be scrutinised to within an inch of its life to ensure no gluten lurked within but, I digress.  I thought I’d zip to the nearest SuperU and buy the ingredients for a stir fry but my plans were thwarted when I saw this little dog wandering aimlessly round, across and over the big, busy roundabout.  There was another woman trying to stop her from getting run over and I parked the car and managed to get her to safety on the pavement.  Then, of course, there was no end of people politely interested (though even more that weren’t) but not wanting to get involved so guess who ended up back at home with a dog instead of stir fry ingredients.

Anyway, to cut a long story a bit shorter, we kept her overnight as I got a glimpse of the police kennels and couldn’t bear for her to stay there.  We clipped some of the felted mass that used to be hair away from her feet, ears and eyes and, this morning, I gave her a bath.  I was tempted to keep her but she is totally blind and our house and garden are large with steps everywhere and I don’t think she would ever get used to the space.  It’s sad as I would guess she’s around 11 or 12 years old and has probably been a loved pet and I don’t like to think of her spending her last days in a rescue centre but, in the end, I took her back to the police who would be taking her straight to the centre in their van.  Her last act at our house was to pee on my Persian rug so I felt a little vindicated although I don’t believe she knew whether she was inside or outside, not being used to the space.

The policeman told me that, if you take a dog to the rescue centre  yourself,  you are considered to be the one who abandons the dog and will have to pay a fee.  The vet who checked her for a microchip said the same thing.  Can it be true?  It’s not surprising that lost and abandoned dogs are a common sight here when they make it so difficult to hand them in that people would rather leave them running about in the road rather than get involved and potentially get stuck with the dog or even incur fees.

Full marks to my boys, Stan and Taz, both once rescued themselves from the mean streets of France, who behaved impeccably whilst being hit on by a randy little ball of white fur and being kind to a matted old lady who kept bumping into them.

Taz

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