Posts Tagged toulouse

I Thought It Was Sunday

Vintage Image courtesy of the Graphics Fairy

Vintage Image courtesy of the Graphics Fairy

In France, unlike the U.K., they tend to have their public holidays on the day of the actual event that they are commemorating or celebrating.  Hence, the 1st of May is a ferié (or public holiday) on the actual 1st of May which, this year happens to be a Wednesday.  Of course, if this were the U.K., the 1st May would have become the 3rd May, which is a Friday this year, so that it could be tagged on to the weekend.  With me so far?

One cause for celebration is that on the 1st May in France, it is permitted to erect a stand (or indeed, just stand) by the side of the road and sell muguets (or lily of the valley) without having to pay tax on any proceeds.  This is the one and only day that this is ever allowed and you can’t stop at a bakery or pharmacy (everything else is closed, of course, this being rural France) without seeing somebody with little posies of lily of the valley for sale.

Apparently, this is all thanks to Charles IX of France who, on May 1, 1561, was given a lily of the valley as a lucky charm.  Thereafter, each year he offered a lily of the valley to the ladies of the court and it became a custom, at the beginning of the 20th century, to give a sprig of lily of the valley, a symbol of springtime, on May 1st.

I am confused because there was a vide grenier or flea market  today.  Usually they are on sundays (or occasionally saturdays) but today is wednesday and I went to one this morning and now I can’t get my head round the days of the week.  I will probably try to watch Antiques Roadshow tonight now after cooking a roast dinner.

Anyway, this doesn’t lead on at all nicely but I’m going to tell you anyway that I went on a guided tour of  Toulouse last week.  Well, a small part of it anyway.  Usually I just go to shop or to eat or to watch a film in VO (or version originale which translates, in my case, to ‘in English’) so I thought it might be interesting to hear about some of its long and interesting history.  I don’t usually like guided tours – I think the last one I went on was at school and we went to see Stonehenge which was so long ago I think it had only just been built.  Anyway, some friends were going on it and there was a promise of a good lunch afterwards so I signed up.  I won’t bore you with the details and history – and anyway I can’t remember most of it now which is another reason I don’t normally bother going on them – but I did take a couple of photos.

Les Minimes (4)

Love these gothic carvings which were originally inside this church but were one of the only features to survive some disaster or another (see, I told you I don’t retain) and were put on the outside of the church afterward.  Of course, being France, somebody has plonked an electricity box just to the top left of it (!) but never mind, I just love these little men.  And, to think Ikea is trying to get us to ‘say no to gnomes’.

Les Minimes (5)Inside the same medieval church, were some beautiful stained glass windows by a French artist Louis Gesta in the 19th century who had his atélier in Toulouse which was the “largest stained glass window-manufacturing firm in the world” at the time.   Despite this, and building a castle for himself in Toulouse, he ended his life in poverty having ‘overextedended’ himself according to my guide.

Les Minimes (13)The shameful sight of part of the castle that Gesta had built in Toulouse in the 19th century using reclaimed friezes, moldings and other decorations and materials from medieval buildings as well as the traditional Toulouse bricks.  At one time this was occupied by a language school and they wanted to buy it but the city of  Toulouse wouldn’t let them.  The city then proceeded to leave it to fall into ruin and eventually it was taken over by squatters who set fire to the inside and gutted it.  There were beautiful paintings and other artwork inside apparently.  It has now been boarded up and has a corrugated fence surrounding it and there is talk of knocking it down.  See, I do listen.

Les Minimes (2)Oops! Got distracted.

Les Minimes (10)Another gothic arch , another graffiti ‘artist’

Les Minimes (11)However, not everything makes it on to Ebay.

On the ‘making things’  front, I have received my dressmaking patterns, having been influenced and inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee and the fact that I ‘ran up’ a couple of skirts recently in super quick time, and now await the arrival of dressmaking fabric which somehow sounds much grander than craft fabric.  I love the term ‘ran up’.  Where did it come from?  Who first coined the phrase ‘I’m just off to run up a couple of skirts’ and were they misunderstood?  Sorry, just rambling there.  Anyway, I have decided that my love of Liberty tana lawn need not stop at the ears of bunnies and the linings of storage baskets or purses.  Indeed, I have a yen for a floaty, feminine summery blouse and so I have yet another excuse to indulge my Liberty obsession as my current stash doesn’t seem to have just the ‘right’ design for a blouse.

Meanwhile, I have been getting sticky again with some cartonnage and enlisted my friend Sandra for her embroidery skills as mine are non existent and it’s one of those crafts that don’t appeal to me – too fiddly – so I probably won’t bother to learn anything more complicated than a ‘tige’ which I believe translates as a stem stitch.

purpleheartbox (2)All sorts of fancy stitches going on there – I can’t be doing with it!

Anyway, it’s not Sunday, it’s Wednesday so I am off to do some more work and, just in case you are wondering whether I actually bought anything at the flea market this morning, I did.  This is one of my favourites –

DSC_0001or Puss in Boots.

DSC_0005This seems to be some sort of pop-up version of the Great British Sewing Bee.  Make a costume for a cat in less than one hour.  The tailor on the left seems to have lost part of his head so he won’t be back for another week!

DSC_0002Aaah, the nostalgia.  Not that I was a particularly gifted tot who could read French  but you know what I mean.

DSC_0004and, as in all the best fairy tales, it ends happily ever after – although I don’t know where the cat is at this point.  I hope he didn’t get run over by the coach.

Anyway, this seems to have been an, even more than usual, rambling and meandering post but, you know, I thought it was Sunday.

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Personal Shopper

Yesterday I took my eldest daughter to Toulouse for a bit of retail therapy.  It was supposed to be just us two for a bit of mother/daughter bonding but, as they do, she invited a friend.  Basically, I was tolerated for two reasons, because I was the driver and because I was paying for everything.   I went with them into the first shop where they spent about two hours – I went off and came back again and they were still trying things on.  I put an obscene amount of money on my credit card, gave her some cash and took myself off for my solitary mooch around the city but not before I bought us all an expensive lunch which my daughter toyed with and her friend, who could wear my wedding ring as a belt, moved a chicken leg from one side of the plate to the other and felt full.


Anyway, my youngest daughter is not interested in clothes or, at least, going shopping for them so if I want her to wear anything other than battered jeans and a t-shirt (which is, in any case, the uniform of the French student) I have to buy her clothes for her.  This is fine by me.   One of my dream jobs would be to wander round clothes shops or interior design shops and impose my taste on other people whilst they pay me handsomely for doing something I love doing anyway.  However, shopping for a 15 year old, in her absence, is a bit tricky.  We are about the same height and wear roughly the same size so, once I have sated my own desires in, say Zara, I go to the back where they have their section devoted to the ‘youth’.  I try to ignore the sympathetic stares as I hold up little ra-ra skirts against myself to check the length, admire  t-shirts with Betty Boop on them and check out jeans with more holes than denim.  I want to say, ‘I’m shopping for my daughter’ but think that would probably mark me out as even more of a weirdo.  I try to dress ultra-sophisticated (for me anyway) when I do this type of shopping so that it is totally obvious that it’s not for me.

Mutton Dressed as Lamb - Not Me!

As it turned out, she liked everything I bought her – though I took the precaution of checking with my other daughter first so that, if it didn’t fit the shopaphobe, the shopaholic could wear it instead.  I don’t fancy going back to Toulouse just yet to change anything.

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Big Buttons!!

I like covering buttons – I find it therapeutic.  Call me strange.  I have been amusing myself today by covering some  huge buttons with gorgeous fabric and then thinking of ways to use them. 

Cheer up a Handbag!

Cheer up a Handbag!

New Shoes?

New Shoes?

When I went to Toulouse last week, I went into La Droguerie which is a fantastic little shop hidden away in one of the many back streets of Toulouse and which I only ever find again by accident.  This was the first time I have ever been into the shop and actually managed to get served.  The problem is that they sell all different little, teeny things like buttons, ribbons, embellishments, beads, charm, jewellery findings and yarn that they have to make into skeins while you wait so each person takes an age to be served and those that are waiting (usually me) lose the will to live and leave with nothing but bitter memories.  Not last week though!  We got in very late as we were going to have dinner there and so only caught the last 40 minutes or so of the shops.  I went in and there were sales staff to spare.  I sent my husband off to the nearest bar as, unaccountably, he doesn’t seem to be interested in beads and buttons, and went all unnecessary as I tried to grasp the fact that I was actually going to be served and desperately tried to think of all the things I could possibly need and want which, of course, is not the same thing at all.  I knew I wanted some maribu feathers to make angel wings – don’t ask! – but what else?  Anyway, I spotted these huge buttons and they’d covered them in some gorgeous Libertys of London fabric.  Had to have them – well, actually, they were charging a fortune so had to make them.  They didn’t sell the blank buttons but I fell in love with the fabric with teeny, tiny cars on it and paid a fortune for a small piece  and, I’m ashamed to admit,  I lied to my husband about the price.   He wouldn’t understand.
How Gorgeous is This Fabric?

How Gorgeous is This Fabric?

Now, I must stop playing and get on with something more serious – not as serious as ironing or housework of course, but I’ve only got 10 blank buttons and I don’t want to use up all the fun at once.

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