Thursday, April 30, 2009

A la Poste

On my way to the post office - La Poste. Here's a postie - we're not far off!In goes the cheque for the vintage French lace from ebay...Then a silghtly tedious wait inside, but it's worth it to get the PIF packages sent off! La Poste is set in this square. The blue road signs are in Occitane, the original language of our area (and known to all who have read Labyrinth). Son 1 is taking an optional class in Occitane language and culture at College this year, so we rely on him for pronunciation and a bit of translation.
The excellent bookshop, 'Il etait une fois' (Once upon a time), is next to la Poste, and these amazing trees are in bloom all round the square.Looking around with a camera in my posession, I notice things I wouldn't normally see, like the brick, shutters and lamp above the bookshop.
Here are some great 'oeil de boeuf' (ox-eye) windows further down the square! And the corner of the same building has amazing detail on it.Here's the door - on the main road now, not on the square. Bricks are an ancient tradition around Toulouse, as we are built on clay. The Romans introduced brick-making technology and it was never forgotten. Therefore bricks don't look so Victorian, as they do in the UK. But this building IS 19th century, isn't it?Our town is a bastide, which means a planned medieval town built on a grid pattern. Look down the roads all around la Poste and you can see the grid still functioning...
A bit further down the other side...
But among the old buildings there's plenty of 21st century technology. 'The Green Mouse' below is an I.T. centre. Into the centre now, with the market Halle dominating the very confusing road system. It's in the centre of another square, with all the civic buildings down one side. The Hotel de Ville is connected, by this wonderful war memorial arch,
to the Mairie. As well as the French and EU flags, you can also see the Occitane cross being flown. On another side of the square they're doing up a building which had fallen into disrepair. It's going to look amazing when it's finished - look at the roof top!Opposite, with the Halle in between, is this charming row of arched buildings. Our Notaire has his office there. Yes, like the rest of France, we have two grey cars... imagine trying to find them in a car park!
A lot's going to be going on this summer in and around the Halle. I'll keep you up to date with the events - markets, Vide Greniers, concerts... It's going to be fun!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

French Style - Charity Shopping

When I first arrived in France, used to little UK high-street charity shops, I concluded that they're just weren't any charity shops in France. Then a friend pointed out I was looking in the wrong places! The Secours Cathloique and Emmaus shops aren't little stores on the street - they're big warehouses on the trading estates!
It's a bit overwhelming sometimes, but the ladies who run them pay great attention to detail, and on Friday I discovered this bijou little corner just inside Veti Relais!
A vintage wedding special!Look at this happy couple! They've included a lot of their usual stock to great effect (lace 80c a metre):
I liked this dark little corner... The rest of the store is, as usual, decorated by someone very creative - I really don't know who went to such lengths as to paint these lovely murals above the cash till. These plates are so nicely displayed.
And oh, look, a little vintage-style apron!
Some lovely ladies, up on the opposite wall... So, Vive les Maries!
I'm going to take a three-day break (Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday) from blogging, because I've got quite a lot of projects as well as French irregular verbs to learn!

I want to finish and post off my PIF gifts to Ashley and Juanita.
I need to complete this swap, which I'll be sending to Sharon, the Crafty Trundler.
And I only just signied up for this birdie swap, but I have some fantastic bird ideas and am looking forward to getting going on this one, even though I don't know who I'm paired with yet! I think you can still sign up for it - check it out here.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Sounds of Spring in Southern France

I try to give a good impression of what it's like to be here near Toulouse through my photos, but recently I've been so much enjoying the sounds of spring that I wanted to try to share some those with you too.

The sounds of a morning bike ride:

The wind in my ears
a frog in the ditch. The sounds of an evening dog walk:

Screaming boys
and cicadas on the way home.The sounds of the Veti Relais car park (my favourite charity shop):

Planes taking off from Toulouse airport
and the song of the skylark. © Arthur Grosset
Hope everyone's having a good weekend!

Friday, April 24, 2009


Last night I was reading about St George, and the way the writer (Naomi Starkey) described him made me reflect on the way that some of you are facing difficult times at the moment. I’ve copied some of Naomi’s words below, along with some photos from round our home. I’m dedicating the post to family and friends who have their own ‘dragons’ to face right now, but even if there are no dragons in your life right now, I think you’ll find the story quite interesting – I didn’t know it properly before!“George – an extraordinarily popular saint, particularly in the Eastern Church, considering how little is known about him. He is patron saint of not only England but also Canada, Ethiopia, Greece, Georgia and many other places or groups.
“Even if historical facts about his life are thin on the ground, his story has inspired generations and his flag continues to be flown whenever the England football team has another go at winning an international trophy.
“The convention is that George was born in third-century Cappadocia (part of modern-day Turkey) to Christian parents but grew up in Palestine, where he joined the Roman army.
“When the emperor Diocletian began persecuting believers, George resigned from his military post in protest. He was eventually arrested, gruesomely tortured and executed.
“George is best known for his legendary dragon-slaying. The story was first widely circulated in a 15th-century book, The Golden Legend. It presents a familiar series of events: hero comes to city besieged by monster, princess is next victim, hero deals with monster and saves princess.
“Rather than the usual ‘hero marries princess’ ending, however, George arranges for the baptism of the king and his people and builds a church where a healing spring then appears.
“As in the legend of George, we may be called on to ‘slay a dragon’. There may be a battle we are called to fight, a difficult task that we are given to do, and we can do it in the confidence that, if God has called us, he will give us the strength we need.”
“The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack.”
2 Timothy 4:18a

Thursday, April 23, 2009

I cried at the Braderie today...

Well, for those of you who don't know what a braderie is, this title is indeed as odd as it sounds. A braderie is only a hyper-organised version of a twice-yearly jumble sale (the French are in fact hyper-organised, despite stereotypes to the contrary), so what on earth could bring tears to my eyes?I'd gone along to the large but slightly down-market braderie near my Thursday lunchtime lesson, mainly in the eternal search for more trousers for Son 2 and some fabric for my stash.
Both searches were successful. Some nice linen here; much cheaper buying it this way:I also discovered the knot of vintage scarves for one euro that I'd turned down in the autumn:
The red, white and black one is smudged and ruined, but discovering that this Pierre Cardin one is a lovely silk, and in great condition, decided me... And this orange rayon one is great fun, even if it's in poor condition.For 33c each, why not?So, taking one last turn round a table I'd visited before, amongst the collected grot of the last two decades, I suddenly saw a glimpse something else:And tears prickled in my eyes! I didn't bawl, you'll be glad to know, but I was quite surprised by the strength of my emotion.
It's not very old, it's not even hand-stitched, but the pearl buttons and the cotton and the careful stitching speak of something else to me, something far away from the nylons and machine production of the rest of the braderie offerings.Even if it's not a fine example, more of a copy, I was transported from mass-production to craftsmanship.Seeing it there, unappreciated, at only one euro when everything else was going for two or more, I nearly wept for it!
But I think this little top has come to a good home now.Are there things in the fabric world that can move you to tears?