I'm a happily married mum of two boys, aged 17 and 19, and as a family we moved to France eleven years ago. My husband works for a French company, I teach English to French people aged 6 - 60, and English reading and writing to the English-speaking children of the area. We are part of an English speaking church in Lyon. I love to shop for French vintage lace, fabric and household items, and to combine them with my British and global treasures in interesting ways.
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I am not a perfect mother or housewife. There is dog hair under the sofa and the boys eat with their elbows on the table, however much they're nagged. I just assume you'd rather see the pretty stuff!
You may know St Julien - he features quite often in blog posts about our town! This weekend is his fête, although to be honest I've looked him up in calendars of saints etc and found out absolutely nothing to link any of the Saint Julians to this time of year - perhaps it's just an excuse for a party, and why not? j So Ben and I went to the special Mass at the local church, instead of driving into Toulouse for our normal Protestant worship. It was good to be praying with, and for, the people of our town. The local oom-pah band was there, being very restrained with their oom-pahs whilst in church. They were still pretty loud, though! After the service the veteran flag-bearers marched with the band,
along with the mayor and opposition leader, and others, to lay wreaths on the military graves in our cemetery.
But the other side of the fête was always visible...
I didn't take my camera yesterday evening, when we took the boys and one of their friends to the fête foraine (funfair), so this is one of the photos from last year's post.
We had a great time, and got the boys home around midnight! Lazy day today...
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Tragically (sigh) I had to have a good go through my buttons after finding new purposes for the tins they'd been stored in. It really was rather wonderful to give them new homes - mainly in my small collection of vintage fabric-covered boxes. Above are the flowery buttons - a lot of them came from my mother and grandmother, and are hand-painted.
These are just the ordinary, everyday buttons, but they do look good in the fabric box, don't they?
Rather more interesting miscellaneous buttons have ended up in this incredible purple silk-lined box. I wonder what catches your eye in there?
Ah, swoon, my Mother of Pearl collection.
And below them in the box from a Paris department store are glass (and plastic) buttons on one side and sweet little cloth ones on the other. Do you ever find 'mangled' cloth ones on old clothes? They must have been particularly vulnerable to the mangle.
I remember my grandpa with the mangle...
I think this box has become a real treasure chest.
I suspect I will just open the drawers and lid when I go past, to have a peep at my treasures.
It's been all about tins, recently - I sold one to the lovely Nina, of Temps Perdu, a lunch tin to the marvelous Alex, of Pink Feather Paradise, and a third one today, to a buyer who should remain nameless as I believe it may be for a swap (ooh, how exciting!). So I was a bit astonished to see four quite large vintage tins in my usual Troc shop today, as that's not their normal kind of stock. None of the tins was perfect (for condition, or for my style) but they were large. j
I have actually been looking for storage for patio shelves, but it was clear that battered old vintage tins weren't going to survive out of doors, even if sheltered... But I did some lateral thinking and realised that the nasty '90s IKEA shelves upstairs had some zinc tins on them, which could go outside, and which might just be replaced with these new vintage ones... Voila! Shall we break it down..?
The shelf above houses all our glues, sellotapes, fixings and fastenings - we had two of the zinc tins housing everything before and things got lost and muddled quite often. I've kept a list of what's in where, never fear! j
The tin below is one of the new ones, which I've entitled 'Lady Patronising Cottagers'. My list tells me that it now contains 'stickers and misc'.
This tiny little tin is one of my older possessions - when I started teaching in 1991, in a tiny village school in Cumbria, the new head teacher and I went through all the old drawers. In one of them was this tin - it had a sticker over it and had been holding pins, I think.
I was raving about it and the head teacher was clearly thinking me nuts, and suggesting I bin it. "But it's lovely!" I wailed. "It was lovely once," replied my boss. An early education in Shabby Chic.
Moving swiftly on, here is the one I bought last year, entitled something like: "Unconvincing 1930s people in 18th century Versailles," in my own head.
Did you spot the Little Grey Rabbit tin I owned in my teens? It is perhaps worrying that I owned LGR tins at that age. There are now paperclips in that one, to go with the biro grafitti.
On the other shelves, here's a faux vintage tin I bought last year and the second of my new buys, below it.
"Kid with fish". I've not titled this one imaginatively, because I actually quite like it. I seem to save all my imagination for the ones I don't like. I'm beginning to worry...
Below the main display is my Troc 'n' Broc Vintage Shop shelf. Yes, ladies, you too could own something from this shelf!
The tin at the bottom of the pile below is the most stunning newbie. Don't you think it's kind of Egyptian? Unfortunately, on top, it features, "Girl you were most likely to scratch at school", so I've covered it up with the lovely Swallows and Amazons tin which is for sale.
I'm being mean, arent't I? I just don't like chocolate box images on top of my Egyptiana.
This one's just dull on top - I haven't even given it a mental name. (Hmm, mental name meaning name in my head, or the other..?) But it is interesting that it looks like a British coaching inn on a French tin.
And so we end with 'Crinolined Lady', whom I love despite her dress, as Serenata and Lululiz both own her too. Perhaps she can walk between her different images, like the portraits in Harry Potter? Maybe she could chat to my blogging friends?
Definitely overloaded today. In my defence, I've been clearing these shelves in 36°C temperatures...
This is the campsite we stayed on... This is the farmhouse door on the campsite we stayed on.
This is the dog who guards the farmhouse door on the campsite we stayed on.This is where the owners relax with their dog, who guards the door of the farmhouse on the campsite we stayed on.
This is the wash block (hot and cold running water, two toilets, two showers) on the campsite we stayed on. Here is the dog (called 'Yes'), not guarding the farmhouse door of the campsite we stayed on.
This is the vineyard hut, which houses the fridge and table, but is not the wash block, as Sarah wondered, next to the wash block but far from the farm, on the campsite we stayed on.
This is the barbeque outside the vineyard hut and the wash block, burning sticks from the woodland of the farm of the campsite we stayed on.
This is the Coleman tent, which houses us all, on a field by that woodland, far from the loo block, far from the hut, and far from the dog (Yes) on the campsite we stayed on.
On Saturday we took the boys for a walk around the hills and valleys of the Tarn, starting from our campsite. We were well-prepared, with sunhats, walking shoes and lots and lots of water - Madame the Farmer had warned us that a very hot day had been forecast!
We picked blackberries and (rather high) wild plums as we went.
We saw an enormous number of butterflies (and we had the Butterfly Book with us!).
We stopped to eat lunch in a shady woodland, sitting on some abandoned wine press stones.
But it was hot.
And getting hotter.
We had rationed our water carefully and had a full bottle left for the last part of the walk, but it was a case of sipping the lukewarm stuff sparingly...
when suddenly Son 2 yelled: "TAP!"
We got the dog to the water first (even though she'd been the one paddling in a stream not long before) and then we drank our fill. Then we soaked our hats and splashed our hands and faces. Then we refilled the bottles and drank again! Then we splashed again!
"This is magical!" exclaimed Son 2, with the icy water running off his arms and a huge grin on his face.
I knew what he meant, and I realised with new respect why springs and fountains have always been seen as holy or magical. The chilled water on top of a hill on a baking dry day felt like a gift from God - and earlier people must have felt the same way, as this was just across the road from the tap:
So with that gift, from God, from the people of the past, and from the modern mayoral team who had seen fit to update the spring with a push-button tap, we set off refreshed.