Posts Tagged la manche

No Prizes For Guessing But Please Do

Everybody loves a guessing game don’t they?  I hope so as I’m looking for some enlightenment today.

French PressSometimes I find old things and I only have the vaguest idea of what they are but I buy them because they are beautiful or interesting or intriguing or cheap or some or all of those things.

So it was with this object I found the other day (although it wasn’t particularly cheap) and I don’t know what it is.  Can anybody help?

I know it is some sort of press but I can’t think for what.

Mystery Vintage Press


I know it’s not a press for vintage soda siphons but it was the nearest thing on hand to prop the bar up with. The slider bar moves up and down the grooved interior and the screw can push the bar down to a maxium of   25cm or 10 inches leaving a final squishing space of 23cm or 9 inches.

The nearest thing to it I have found on the internet is a press for playing cards.  Apparently, it was used by dealers in casinos when the decks of cards got a bit scrunched and the press would be used to straighten them out.  However, it was much smaller than this one and there were dividers in between the bar and the end so each card could slot in individually.

This one measures 56cm or 21.5 inches in length and 18cm or 7 inches wide.  It is 5cm or 2 inches deep.  The interior width,  inside the grooves where the object(s) would need to sit, is 12.6cm or  5 inches.

It is very well made and was obviously well used.  Somebody has seen fit to repair or reinforce the top corners at one time with metal but this has also been done well.

Antique French Wooden Press

Any comments, ideas, suggestions or, even better, answers would be greatly appreciated.


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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


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


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)


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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Some Girly Things

You will be pleased to know I have not found any stray dogs in the last couple of weeks – although my neighbour found a lost (and very thin!) hunting dog this morning which, of course, everybody denies all knowledge of.  I hate the hunting season – and yes, it has already started again – because, as well as not being particularly enamoured of hunting with dogs for sport, I can’t bear to see the dogs who are often treated abysmally and sometimes get left roaming about for days  in danger of being in an accident (or causing  one) or loitering around with the bell round their collars ringing through the night and keeping us all awake whilst driving our own dogs mad.  Rant over – no more shaggy dog stories – this was supposed to be a ‘girly’ post.

My latest vintage passion is these gorgeous old French fashion magazines, Le Petit Echo de la Mode,  which were produced from 1879 until 1983.  I have started amassing some as and when I come across them but my favourites are the ones from the 1920s and 30s.  Having said that, I love the 1940s ones too which came in a smaller format because of the paper shortage during the war years.
lepetitechodelamode Look at those gorgeous coats – and those waists! – and I love the Eiffel Tower in the background.  I do put these in my shop from time to time but I am going to frame up a couple of the smaller ones and some of the Art Deco period ones for my own home.   They fit so conveniently into the Ikea Ribba frames and the black version complements the header really well.  I might go with some sort of theme when choosing which issues to frame such as those featuring dogs – why aren’t you surprised?

I have now finished the little fabric tote bag from the French craft magazine I showed you a few weeks ago and I am quite pleased with it.  I made the matching coin purse too which is a fat and squidgy shape and looks as if it is full of money but isn’t, unfortunately.  I will be making some more of these – I have had requests – but I think I will add an interior pocket next time otherwise there could be lots of fruitless rummaging going on when looking for mobile phones or car keys.Fabric Bag & PurseMy sewing buddy has put me to shame and finished her ‘handbag quilt’ before me.   I love all those cottage chic florals and muted colours and I have put it in my shop.   I am still  quilting mine, which has a completely different feel as it is mostly in black, grey and cream, and will hopefully get it finished once Mlle T. the elder has gone back to Uni and stopped hogging my workroom and no longer needs my (surreptitious) overseeing on her sewing projects.
HandbagQuiltFloral (2)Speaking of which – how proud am I that, as only her 3rd ever project, she made this lovely dress from the Simplicity 1803 pattern.  I even forgive her for the fact that I bought the pattern for myself (although was going to do View C with short sleeves and this is View B) and had even bought this same fabric.  I will still make it but I have some dusty pink linen mix fabric with cream polka dots and will use the white patterned fabric for something else.  She did all the shaping, facings, gathering and zip insertion by herself so I am definitely going to get a sewing machine delivered to the U.K. as soon as she goes back as her belated birthday present because I really think she will continue sewing now she has a few successful projects under her belt.  This is a lovely pattern – it has a beautiful scooped back – but I do recommend you make a muslin first as the bodice is very fitted and, to be honest, the sizes on the pattern envelope don’t make too much sense.  We just made a muslin for the bodice, without facings or anything and it was time well spent as it came up much smaller than we wanted it.  I have seen versions where other people have pleated the skirt a little rather than gathering it, especially if the fabric is a little thick but this one was gathered, as per the pattern, and I think it works well even with this slightly heavy cotton.

SImplicity 1803Stan looks on admiringly and shows off his film star smile.

Another two weeks of the summer holidays left so I am making the most of her being here and not moaning about my projects going very slowly or my vintage shop being neglected because, once she returns to Uni, I’ll probably have my workroom to myself until December and I’ll be able to do what I want but it won’t be as much fun!

p.s. I do have another Mlle Tialys – and I’m not deliberately leaving her out in my blog posts – but she has as much interest in sewing as I have in Manga or Screamo bands so, until her tastes change or,  in a more unlikely scenario, mine do, she will not be found in my workroom unless it is to bring me a cup of tea.

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The Mad Bird Lady

Do you remember when you were very young, there would always be a bit of an odd woman who lived in your street and would get a bit obsessed with feeding the wild birds.  According to my daughter, I have now become such a woman.  In this snow we are having at the moment, I get really stressed seeing all the birds frantically searching for food and even the birds that are usually ground feeders are desperate enough to come up on to the balcony to see if they can hold on to the fat ball feeder.  Usually I have the feeders hanging on my balcony, safe from the cats, but as there are so many birds at the moment, I have hung a couple in the tree in the front garden.  I’ve run out of containers so am having to improvise and turned to some of my, as yet unlisted, vintage stock.   A beautiful, enamelled vintage French ladle anyone…….

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Do Your Research!

I found some rusty old tins in a dark, dingy corner of an even darker, dingier junk shop.  I didn’t know what they were exactly but I thought they looked interesting so I bought them, took them home and started my research.  My main clue was the brand name ‘La Perpetuelle’ and what came up was a French site who had one for sale and explained that these were used by ‘Les Poilus’ in the trenches in the First World War to keep their rations in. 

And I was off!

I asked Madamoiselle Tialys’s French boyfriend why the French soldiers were called ‘les poilus’ and he said it was because they couldn’t shave very easily in the trenches and became hairy (poilu).  How interesting!  I photographed the tins with a photograph of Mr Tialys’s grandfather who did fight in the trenches but was English although he may well have become ‘poilu’ too.  You should have read the  description in my draft listing for my shop – it was soooo fascinating.

Then, I was going to do a blog post about the item PLUS the story of how Grandpa Tialys was bayoneted  in the fighting and was so afraid that the German soldiers would finish him off, he lay pretending to be dead for several days, presumably without sustenance and in terrible pain.  Then, when they did find him and realised he was alive, they took him to hospital and treated him better than he could have imagined!  By all accounts, he was a miserable old sod but then, expriencing life in the trenches, who wouldn’t be?

Anyway, Mr. Tialys and I were rather troubled by the method of getting into the glass jar inside the tin.  Where would you find a screwdriver in the trenches?  It looked rather fiddly for men up to their knees in mud and desperate for something to eat.  So I had another look around the internet and found somebody else claiming that these are old conserve jars dating from the 19th century which makes more sense to me and so that’s what I’m going to go with even though it’s not as exciting.   

Unless you know different………………

Grandpa Tialys still got his day on my blog though!



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The Bells, The Bells….

I’ve just returned from taking my parents to the airport after their week-long Christmas visit.

My dad’s a fidgety type.  He is never happier than when he is fiddling about with something mechanical – I should say ‘fixing’ rather than ‘fiddling about’ but he tends not to have a 100% success rate and, as he’s not listening……..    

I always worry he will get bored when he visits.  My mum is fine – we catch up on the gossip, she brings her knitting, she reads, she gets waited on hand and foot, as is her right,  but my dad always looks as if he is missing his own armchair and his man shed back in the U.K.

I have found the perfect solution.  I find and buy all the non-working vintage clocks in a 50 mile radius, give him free access to Mr. Tialys’ shed and the can of WD40 and he’s like a pig in the proverbial poo.  Then, if he manages to fix any of them, I can put them in my shop.  Everyone’s a winner!

Well, actually, Mr. Tialys, my Mum and the two Madamoiselles Tialys might not consider themselves winners as they have had to listen to the sound of very loud alarm bells going off all week as the clocks have been on test.  My Dad, of course, is almost stone deaf so this has not been a bother to him.

Still, it was Christmas and you need bells at Christmas.  I hope you had a Christmas with bells on too.

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Hidden Treasures

 Today I had a meeting at my youngest daughter’s school which, for reasons I won’t bore you with, I wasn’t looking forward to.  Unusually for me, I arrived early so went into a local dépot vente (loosely translated, junk shop) to kill some time.  Look what I found!

Some gorgeous, wicker and jute wrapped old demijohns.  Apparently, the big old glass bottles were used to transport wine, olive oil and other liquid produce and the wicker wrapping protected the glass inside.

I must admit, I’d never given a thought to the beautiful old glass inside before but, when I started to research them, I found some  photographs where they have used the ones from which the wicker covering has perished to make eyecatching displays.

I can see that a couple of mine are a beautiful turquoise blue colour but the wicker covering is in such good condition I don’t want to remove it so I’ll wait and see if I can find a more knackered one that I don’t mind stripping down.

If you want to know more about these old bottles which are becoming beloved of home designers, just click on the image above and it will take you to a page from Antique  Bottle  and Glass Collector Magazine (who knew?) and an interesting article  which goes into more  detail. 

I might put a couple in my vintage shop – as there is a limit to how many of my finds Mr. Tialys will countenance me keeping, as you know.  I’ll have to check on shipping but I guess the wicker will protect them very well as they used to bump along in carts on unmade roads and below decks in stormy seas at one time without coming to any harm.


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Another Keeper

I know I say I’m often tempted to keep my vintage finds, rather than put them in the shop, but the gorgeous vintage pillow case in this collage had my name on it (or my monogram anyway) so, of course, it’s definitely a keeper. 

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A Vintage Christmas

You can indulge your love of antiques, vintage and retro right over the holiday season and I’ve found some goodies here to prove it.

‘The Ghost of Christmas Past’ by LaManche

Vintage items for the festive season.

A Pink Pear..Luscious Old Sp…

Vintage (12) Twelve Days of …

Vintage Clear Glass Insulato…

VIntage Shiny Brite Glass Ch…

Snazzy Rhinestone Reindeer P…

vintage doll SANTA CLAUS jum…

Vintage Brass Deer

Vintage Sweater Vest Deer/El…

small wooden cow push puppet…

Vintage trio of Angel bell w…

Vintage 1940’s Shiny Bri…

Silver Strapless Cocktail Dr…

Vintage Holiday CHRISTMAS Ca…

Vintage santa card holder

vintage HOLLY RED bow flats….

Beautiful vintage deer porce…

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Sunday’s Vintage Haul


Enamelware Coffee Pot or a Vase

I’m making the most of the vide greniers on Sundays to stock up on my vintage items because, soon, they will stop until next May time.  Yesterday was an absolutely beautiful, warm October day here and the vide grenier was in a tiny village in the valley so we browsed the items people had supposedly emptied out of their attics (which is what ‘vide grenier’ means) next to fields of pasture with the cow bells clanging loudly around us.  When I say ‘us’ I made Mr. Tialys come with me because he’s quite useful for carrying heavy things and spotting faults on things that I don’t always notice.  However, the disadvantage is he is sometimess too sensible.  I saw a vintage typewriter which would have either been useful for my friend Ann (aka Mentalembellisher)’s jewellery making or as a prop in my photos.  I tried to get Ann on the phone but she wasn’t home so I left it because he said I had enough ‘props’.  It was only 8 euros!! Needless to say, Ann has told me off this morning and said I mustn’t take him next time.  Anyway, here are some of the things I did get.

Gorgeous Enamelled Coffee Pots


Cendrier from Parisian Restaurant 'Au Boeuf Couronné'


Musical Carousel

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