Friday, October 30, 2009

A Scarf for Christmas

I have just finished this scarf which will be a Christmas present. I had intended to add a fringe but I ran out of yarn, so I crocheted two of Lucy's (Attic 24) flowers in crochet thread to add as an embellishment.

Another Christmas present just started, using Caron's Ruffle Scarf pattern (but in trebles instead of dcs)  It's pictured alongside one of my favourite books, which I read for inspiration!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


This is the entrance to one of our favourite vineyards. It is run by a lovely young couple who produce the most fantastic wines. Their Coteaux de Layon, a dessert wine, is superb.  But then, so is everything else they produce. You can sample everything, including the pure grape juice before it has been fermented - truly delicious.  Just over the road, you can see the vines from which the wine is produced - acres and acres of them. Pure bliss!

This is not a very good picture because the light was fading (and I may have sampled just a little bit too much!).

Barrels, boxes

and great big vats!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Flowers from France

These two beautiful roses were presented to me at our wonderful 'new arrivals' reception at the weekend. The photo does not do justice to the rich, almost citrus, orange of the blooms. And, yes, I know the shutter needs painting!

Crocheted Wrist-Warmers (idea pinched from Attic24:!)

I shamelessly pinched this idea from Lucy's lovely blog, Attic24. We had a horrid cold spell over the last two weeks, and my hands were freezing cold. I have fingerless gloves but I found that the individual fingers restricted my hands too much - these were perfect. Thanks, Lucy! They are by no means as brilliant as yours - for a start, I was too lazy to think about sewing in all the ends, which is why I just used two colours!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The smallest window in France?

If you look to the left of the timbers, on the same eyeline as the horizontal timber in the leaded window, you will see the tiniest window I've ever seen. Click on the photo to zoom in, scroll down a bit,  and you will see that every pane is a different colour!
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How the timbers are kept in place!

This may have been remedial work carried out at some point because these iron pieces don't go all the way along this part of the building, just the bit above the front door - perhaps it had been slammed a few times over the centuries!
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Even the meters here have shutters!

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Well, well!

A lovely little well, with its own gate.
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This shows the intriguing shutters on one of the original merchant's shops in the town. The top shutter would open upwards to form an awning, while the bottom one, when opened downwards, provided a stall for the merchant's wares. I love them - and the gorgeous door - another one I would like to see the other side of!
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I wonder what's behind this?

I love this doorway; I love the door itself, and the beautiful carved stonework, and the one next door that you can just see, and I would just love to step through it and discover what is on the other side!
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Some more lovely little houses

Typical of this part of town, these tiny little houses are still inhabited. Despite their age, the whole of Parthenay is built on granite, so the houses will probably still be standing - and lived in - in another five hundred years!

This mosaic, on the floor in front of the altar in the church, shows the colours of Parthenay. The shield is seen everywhere in the town, especially on the local works vans!

A Warm, Wonderful - if Wet - Welcome to our New Town!

Along with all the other newbies to this part of France, we were invited to a 'Programme journee d'accueil des nouveaux arrivants' - an afternoon to welcome new arrivals. We couldn't have been made more welcome. We met the local Mairie in his lovely offices, enjoyed delicious coffee, cakes - and, later, a local aperitif - and were given a fantastic guided tour of the mediaeval city of Parthenay. The place is full of history, and we took in the wonderful church, the museum, and lots of other sights. There are cobbled streets here full of half-timbered, five hundred year old houses, some of which are still lived in. This part used to be a merchants' area and pottery and fabrics, such as silk, were sold from the little shops.

It rained all afternoon, but this didn't make the afternoon any less than thoroughly enjoyable.  We were amongst a group of about a dozen new arrivals, some French, some English, and everyone was very friendly. We were made to feel very welcome.

A beautiful window in the local church

This church was built over eight hundred years ago. The columns don't quite support the roof (they're bending outwards!) so there are some cracks in the ceiling. The church is absolutely wonderful, full of beautiful dark wood and pale stonework, with Roman arches everywhere.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

Another  photo I took this morning; it's now late afternoon and it's been a really cold day, but very bright and sunny - it looks a lot warmer from this side of the window than it really is! I now just have to be brave enough to get the washing off the line!

Morning sky - again!

Life is so chaotic here that I only seem to have time to take photos of the morning sky! As the day progresses, time runs out on me but I hope things will settle down soon, and I can spend more time updating this blog.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The sky this morning

I opened the shutters this morning to be greeted by such a lovely sky (after yesterday's thick cold fog) that I couldn't wait to capture it on camera

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

More of the same!

New internal wall in progress, using steels not timbers.


Another little corner of the house is gradually coming together - the old door to the new bedroom in the attic has been painted (but not the final coat, yet) and the walls have been newly-plastered, but deliberately not to a smooth finish. The best bits of original stone have been left exposed. They will be highlighted with something I've forgotten the name of, and the plastered bits will be painted white. The rest of this landing is in the process of being plaster-boarded. In one of the photos you can see how the internal walls are constructed using steels instead of timbers.

A man makes a mess!

This is the man responsible for all the mess and noise that is currently disturbing my usual peace and quiet! This is what he does for a living - I would never have taken the house on if I didn't think he could work on it!

A 'new' door!

This is the door to the attic bedroom. Previously, we had a curtain hung up in the doorway. We found the door in the barn-of-many-surprises-and-lots-of-rubbish (along with five more the same), but, because the entrance to the room is low, it had to be cut down. It has so far been lightly sanded and hung; Husband had to make up a frame for it, then plaster round the frame to fill in the gaps, and then we'll decide on how to finish it. There's a lot of wood - beams and so on - here, so, although I'd love to just stain and wax the door to show the lovely grain (the wood is pitch pine) we'll probably paint it white - we just can't really make our minds up yet! Fortunately, this is the only door that Husband has to stoop to get through - he's 6'3". When we were house-hunting here, we found lots of lovely old houses but many of them had low beams and door frames throughout, and Husband got fed up with having to avoid them, so we had to make sure the house we chose had as few dangers as possible! The door and landing will, I'm assured, look lovely when finished!

Found in our barn - needs TLC!

Despite its age, all the tiles are intact; the top needs wire-brushing and a coat of Hammerite, and the rail needs re-chroming, but I just know it will be worth it.

Another view with all the little doors and drawers open. Looking at the feet, I think it was made in the Art Deco period.

A little

The previous owners of our house left a lot of rubbish here; we still haven't got rid of it all but have taken several trailer-loads to the local 'dechetterie' (rubbish tip). Now and again we come across something that we are quite grateful that they left behind. One of them is this lovely little range. It's around 1920s, all the tiles are intact, the rail needs re-chroming and the cast iron top and door frames need wire-brushing and a coat of Hammerite, but it will make a lovely feature when the house is finished. It needed emptying of ash and coke (as well as, believe it or not, old socks that I presume the last person to use it was trying to dry!), which was a really filthy job - mine, of course! I don't think we'll ever use it but it's lovely to look at. I shall take another photo when it's fully restored.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


This was the beautiful sunrise that met me as I opened the shutters one morning a week or so ago

French cows!

We live next to a farm. The farmer breeds these beautiful cows (vache, in French) local to the area, called Parthenaise. They are very gentle creatures, only making a noise when they are let out of their barns in the mornings and, in the evenings, if the farmer is late putting them back in again. During the warmest months of the year, they are outside all the time. They are bred purely for meat but they have the most wonderful life before they make their final journey. There is no pollution here, it's quiet and peaceful, and nothing threatens them - apart from me and my camera! They do seem to like posing, though.

Sunrise and sunsets in my corner of France

This about half way round the lake. There are plenty of benches to sit on and lots of fishermen quietly dozing in the sun.

This about half way round the lake. There are plenty of benches to sit on and lots of fishermen quietly dozing in the sun.

Verruyes, France

This just has to be one of my favourite places. Only twelve or so miles from us, it's the perfect place to take the family. It's primarily a fishing resort but there's enough here to keep all age groups entertained, whether fishing or not. Part of the lake has been sectioned off for swimming, with a man-made beach, a diving board and a lifeguard. Behind the beach is a play park with lots of activities. Another part of the lake has pedalloes and kayaks for hire. There is a restaurant, a bar, a camp site, plenty of picnic areas with tables and chairs set up, toilets (not the finest in France and the ladies has no lock on the door!), and you can walk around the entire lake on the winding footpath, where you'll see families set up for the whole day. It's a lovely friendly place, and the only thing you have to pay for is entrance to the beach area - and that's only €8 for the day! You don't even pay for parking!

Wish I'd taken a photo!

I wish I'd taken a photo of the car park here - there is an archeological dig in progress and they've unearthed some steps. I don't know anything about it yet but will definitely make sure I take some photos next time we visit.

Little Venice

This is view of one of the canals here. They are lovely and lined with various houses and other buildings.

Where to find that wonderful French coffee!

Places I like

Niort, S W France

This is a beautiful town about half an hour's drive from here. It's known locally as 'little Venice'. It's a really lively cosmopolitan town, with lots of lovely (expensive!) shops, and some wonderful cafes. Stopping for just one cup of delicious coffee is not enough - we recently took some friends on a cafe-crawl here! I can't wait to see it all lit up at Christmas. The little canals have lots of ducks, and plenty of places to sit and watch the world go by.