Posts Tagged france
This isn’t the post I meant to do but, the two I have in the wings need a bit of explanation and I haven’t got time today. So, as I haven’t been around for a while and I didn’t want you to think I’d perhaps had a fainting fit and been crushed by cats and kittens and then eaten by dogs, I thought I’d reassure you I’m still alive and kicking with a bit of a quickie, picture heavy post.
By the way, don’t you just love the word ‘rummage’ – it sounds so English somehow, although somebody will probably tell me it derives from some far flung corner of the world but that won’t change my mind. I also like ‘cribbage’ and ‘pillage’ but wasn’t doing either of those on Sunday morning, it was definitely a ‘rummage’.
There have been few chances this year to fouiller (the French version of rummaging which is also a good word but devilishly hard to pronounce properly). If the vide greniers (empty attics/yard sales/boot sales) so far this year have not been too far away they have been rained off or ill attended by sellers or by me as I have woken up on several Sunday mornings the worse for wear. Nothing to do with the wine.
Anyway, last Sunday, there was a vide grenier within half an hour’s drive which also had the benefit of being in the village where some good friends of ours have a holiday house and they are ‘in residence’ at the moment, so I knew there would be a cup of coffee and a loo should desperation set in. Which it did. Twice.
These are some of the things I found amongst the used bath mats, second hand baby clothes and inexplicably popular albums full of bottle caps.
Who doesn’t need a sturdy set of hand forged butcher’s hooks? I did read somewhere that these are often mistaken for something called a ‘cherche’ which was used to lower down a well to retrieve buckets lost by previous water gatherers. I’m not entirely convinced. What do you think?
A beautiful turquoise soda syphon with the glass encased in a metal grid – this one copper coloured. Very art deco. The pewter top is marked as being from a Brasserie in Amiens which is in the Somme department of France.
A nice example of an Art Nouveau pewter vase signed L. Houzeaux.
Because everyone needs at least one French cutting board.
When I was in the U.K. recently I found I was rarely given a plate to eat from in restaurants – always an oversized rectangular piece of white ceramica, a slate tile, a wooden board or a conch shell. (I lied about the last one)
You won’t be surprised, especially as I had already bought the red transferware bowl in the top photograph – who could resist those birds? – if I tell you that Mr. Tialys , who usually accompanies me in the vain hope of finding leather working tools at these things, had to go back to the car at this point in order to make room in our bags and arms for more.
Which was just as well…….
this bowl weighs about 3kg.
I couldn’t resist this foxy piece which also weighs a ton but then it is supposed to be a doorstop
I’m pretty sure this is English though being that it represents a fox and a whip.
No leather working tools were to be found but Mr. T. did buy a bayonet knife which also serves as a belt knife. I do worry sometimes but ask no questions because if, in some dystopian future, we have to retreat into the mountains and live on our wits, at least we’ll have something with which to both defend and feed ourselves. That, and the machéte he bought on a previous outing.
Should I be worried?
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.
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.
It’s actually like this.
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.
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.
This 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.
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.
Hot on the heels of pole dancing cats here’s another title to tempt you into reading but, this time, it’s for a good cause so I’ll let the dogs do the talking.
Hello! Flo here again, that’s me on the right, occasional guest blogger here.
You may know that, before I was living in the lap of luxury and spoilt to death, I was found wandering on the streets and taken to a dog shelter where the Missus and her family came to find me last New Year’s Day. That’s Stan on the left and he didn’t get as far as a dog shelter because the Missus found him running in traffic and rescued him herself after the registered owner (he was microchipped) didn’t care to have him back. Taz is our other brother and it was a similar story with him. Anyway, the Missus says she can’t possibly adopt any more animals or she will go crazy and, although I can’t begin to understand why that would be, I know she likes to help raise funds for the S.P.A. (Société Protéctrice des Animaux) in Carcassonne, France and she does this with a group called Dog Rescue Carcassonne. You can read about some of the work they do here. Just think, my picture was on there once but I was called Froggy then as they thought the way I sat with my back legs sticking out made me look like a frog. As if!
The Missus likes to sew and she thought she would make some bandanas for stylish dogs, like myself, to wear when we are out to impress. Stan is wearing a rather fetching red one above but, as you can see, I am naked because, although I am the most beautiful of the Missus’ dogs, I can’t possibly stay still long enough to be photographed properly.
So, even though Stan isn’t as gorgeous as me, he will do anything for a tennis ball and, if one is held aloft, he will sit and stare at it forever in the hope that it will eventually be thrown for him. This is what makes him a good model
These fit the sort of collars that our size of dogs wear but the Missus says she will even make them for ‘handbag dogs’ whatever that means.
Then she says she will give the profits to the Dog Rescue Carcassonne to help other dogs find homes and also so that the dogs can be sterilized in order to prevent more unwanted dogs being abandoned and ending up playing with the traffic.
I must say that Stan looks almost handsome and he can’t lose his bandana because his collar threads right through it and, if he rolls in fox poo or goes swimming in the river, the Missus can just wash it in the machine.
That is Stan laughing at the suggestion he might roll in fox poo but I know it’s true because I’ve seen him do it .
I quite fancy that cute one with the deer and owl and kitten so I hope one of those is for me. I don’t know who that is in the photo – perhaps it’s one of those handbag dogs.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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……..
The 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.
Despite 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.
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.
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
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
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.
In 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.
Mlle 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.
The sun is shining finally and the garden is looking lush – don’t you just love that word – ‘lush’ and ‘haberdashery’ are my favourites – but I digress. Had to get the camera out and bore you with some photos.
My favourite one
and – yuk alert
I hope the sun is shining on you.
A couple of weekends ago Madamoiselle Tialys the elder fulfilled a long held wish to attend a rock festival. Complete with short shorts, a fringed top, a floppy hat and some wellies, she set off for a two night camping experience. Even though this was France and not the U.K., the wellies were still required and they got sniffed for drugs. Well, the german shepherd sniffer dog apparently took a shine to her feet and she spent an embarassing couple of minutes whilst the dog tried to decide whether she’d concealed hallucinatory substances between her toes.
Some bands I had heard of, some I hadn’t, some I actually like – well, I know The Specials have been around for yonks but then so have I – but she enjoyed herself anyway.
I found it amusing that they were searched for any glass items on the way in to the site which, in the U.K., would have resulted in lots of beer bottles being discovered. Instead, there was a huge pile of confiscated glass jars of paté! A culture difference which, I feel, reflects better on the French.
Anyway, having long ago passed the urge to spend two nights in a muddy field in a small tent with the next tent about 6 inches away and, by all accounts, being woken in the night by a forlorn Frenchman wandering around shaking all the tents and shouting ‘Julie!’ (with a soft ‘J’ of course) having apparently lost his girlfriend to a Spaniard called Raoul in the fray, I am now a vicarious festival goer only and am content with milder entertainment on a Saturday night.
Speaking of which, we were invited to a Thai Buffet, complete with a guitarist and violinist to serenade us in a lovely spot just down the road from here. Thai food is by no means as easy to come by here in rural France as it is in the U.K. so any opportunity must be snapped up. Whoever owns the property – it was a friend of a friend of a friend’s uncle or somebody so I can’t be specific – had made the garden beautiful. They had used split canes or bamboo to make an arch above each table, which they then wrapped branches of honeysuckle around and hung little glass jars (probably used to hold paté!) with tealights from the canes. When it grew dark, they came round and lit the tealights and, in the barn, huge paper lanterns were hung for lighting and some of the guests indulged in a little country type dancing to the violin. Not me and Mr. Tialys although, if we had, we probably would not have looked unlike these two.
Some imaginative scarecrows on the way in
Lots of little pathways and tempting views I wanted to explore
and little ‘tableaux’
and nooks and crannies – just love this ladder
p.s. Sorry about the photo quality but I only took my small digital camera and the settings had been messed with by the festival goer and I forgot to check them before I started, still, you get the idea.
My friend Maureen housesits for people when they go away. She looks after the dogs or cats or chickens (whatever!) and makes sure the house stays ‘lived in’ and warm and safe. She might even, if you are really lucky, cook a homemade meal for you on your return.
She has just been housesitting for some people near Montpellier and, as I’d never been to that area of France and it’s not too far from me, I decided to visit her there. The house is, literally, in the middle of nowhere, and used to be a shepherd’s hut with the sheep living in what is now the living room and him living in what is now the master bedroom.
What a great job! Trouble is you’d have to be able to leave your own life behind which is no good if you’ve got a partner, kids, dogs, cats and chickens of your own – still, when I grow up………..
Not that I’m obsessed with absinthe or anything – haven’t even tasted it! – but I decided to compile an Etsy treasury around it. Well, it’s such a gorgeous colour.
Last month, France officially lifted the ban on Absinthe. Will there be outpourings of creativity or outbreaks of madness, or both?
Bar Absinthe sign in Aluminu…
French Milled Absinthe Scent…
LA FEE VERTE Absinthe Green …
Green Fairy Absinthe Mini To…
The green hour, a peridot gr…
Green corset silk brocade ov…
Vintage Absinthe Alcohol Fre…
Large Absinthe Spoon Antiqu…
Absinthe Mermaid gothic fair…
HUGE ABSINTHE steampunk ste…
Brilliant Olivine Green Swar…
Absinthe (makes the heart gr…
Vintage Absinthe Label Belt…
Absinthe Bottle Pendant