Thursday, May 31, 2012

Carving out a name for themselves...

There are some quite creative municipal workers around our town.
I'm not sure if it was planned or if they just got a bit chain-saw-happy last time they were sent down to the Coulée Verte to sort out the fallen trees,
but our walks with Raja around the local stream are now enlivened by a trunk-bench
and a chair.
Or model toilet, if you prefer! Whatever it is the lizard likes it...

Thanks for all your crazy comments on my Flossgate post! I am still kind of wishing I never followed Ang's link...

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Sounds kind of interesting, doesn't it?
I've been trying to imagine what 'Flossgate' would mean in media terms.
Perhaps it would be the discovery that I am not, in fact, a 42-year old British mother of two living in France,
but am in fact an elderly Chinese man blogging from San Fransisco,
with designs upon world domination, or your savings, or something...
But actually, all that the title means is that our gate was functional but covered in rust and lichen, so Ben sanded it, and I painted it, a bit at a time, and now...
THIS is Flossgate!

(With matching letterbox...)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Scottish Wild Flower Mix

Four or five years ago my dad gave me some money to buy the boys a present from Scotland - along with a bit of shortbread I found them a packet of Scottish Wild Flower Seeds and well, that was a present which lasted!
We scattered them along Ben's rustic, 'dog-proof'' fence which separates Raja (in theory) from the veg garden, and one thing is sure, they've grown up so thickly each year that this is one part of the fence that she never breaks through (in her quest for cucumbers, in case you were wondering). This year the fennel is being kept company by a massive burst of foxgloves. I've even been able to transplant one little plant to the hedge in the front garden, and it seems to be happy there so far. If it manages to seed itself, we can expect another little patch of Scotland in two years' time!

We had a lovely long weekend (Pentecost gave us another holiday yesterday). How is your week going? Is it becoming steadily more red, white and blue?

Friday, May 25, 2012

Finding Fun - Dressing Up!

I have no photos to go with my story for Finding Fun this week, but I hope you will enjoy the first rose (and some anemones) as much as we have!
Carolyn suggested that we think about the fun of dressing up this week, and after missing a few of the series due to little things like car crashes and bank holidays, I was keen to get involved again - and it was the idea of paper dolls that really sounded fun to me!
I folded up some beige card strips and cut out chains of little people holding hands - one set with a crinolone-style skirt, another doing a bit of basic ballet, and one 'man-shaped' ordinary set. Then I got to thinking how much my little pupil had enjoyed the pirate map a few weeks ago, and I decided to share the fun of the cut-out dolls with her! I coloured my crinolined ladies rather roughly, and wrote on a piece of paper this classic (and frankly NOT very fun) exercise:

Pam has got a red skirt and a green top.
Lin has got a pink top and an orange skirt.
Sam has got a blue skirt and a yellow top.
Jan has got a purple top and a black skirt.

(Jan was the most stylish, in my opinion!)

The paper was delivered by a sheep toy (don't ask) and my usually reluctant pupil threw herself into the clues, sounding everything out phonetically (which she usually refuses to try) and labelling each 'princess' as she deciphered the clues. She then had to give each princess a hat, according to further instructions.

What this is showing me is that French-style, taking it all seriously, education, has affected even me. I was trying to push this reluctant little reader into the kind of formal exercises she'll experience in school, and she was pushing back, really hard! Well done her, really. We are now having a lot of fun, thanks to Carolyn and Finding Fun, and, lo and behold, my little individualist is beginning to learn again. Hurray for sheep, princesses and fun!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thrilling Side-Efffects!

The Thrill of What You Already Have is one of the blogging events which has had a wider effect on me this month. Once I'd worked out that the blue vase I was looking for to match the May picture was in the kitchen, I had one of those embarassing epiphanies - the kind that would be obvious to anyone else but take me ages!
The thing about my kitchen is that it was one of the first rooms I sorted out in the house. Our first few years were a whirl of 'just-coping' and we really under-played the charm of our home. The kitchen had any old stuff in it, and I never thought of colours, but it began to dawn on me that I could play up the cute little blue and white tiles by introducing blue decorations, and sticking to blue hand towels and such, as well. It worked! And so whenever you see a blog photo of my kitchen, it will always be blue.
Up until now! I also saw a pretty Scandinavian kitchen in a magazine this month, and the realisation that a) I can take blue things out of the kitchen and b) I can judiciously add non-blue things TO the kitchen, dawned upon me.
Hurray! Actually, I really like the blue in there, but why not change it around every now and then?
The poor old kitchen units are dreadful, so playing round with the changeable stuff is part of the fun.
It's been a bit of a revalation to realise that I can bring my rosey enamelware in here!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why I'll be celebrating the Jubilee - Part 3

It's very interesting, reading your comments on my last two posts. I can see that Americans really don't have anything comparable - well, of course, nothing royal, but I also think that 4th July (and here in France, 14th July) are not much like a Jubilee, in that they happen every year, and celebrate the nation, not an individual.
I can see that we Brits are a bit ambivalent about the whole thing - Ang indicated how she felt about the Charles and Diana divorce (go on, read the comments, both sets are worth it!) and Betty thinks the Royal Family costs the nation too much. This is pretty much why I was not in celebratory mood last Jubilee, I suppose.
But Mags and Carol put their finger on why I've changed my mind quite a bit - firstly we moved away, and I'm really jolly proud to be British, and secondly we have now seen a republic first-hand, and whilst I love France (vive la république!) I am NOT convinced by the whole presidential thing (lol, Carol). A benign, relatively powerless monarch is a whole lot better than a powerful, politically-motivated president, I am now sure. And yes, like most commenters, I think Queen Elizabeth is an incredible woman and a brave leader, too. That's not all - it wouldn't actually be enough for me to go all out on the red, white and blue, so I can see that there is going to be a Part 4 of this series, if you can bear it!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Why I'll be celebrating the Jubilee - Part 2

It's been fun to read your comments on my first Jubilee post - like Vicki, I celebrated with the Armed Forces in 1977, like Autumn Mist I waited for the Queen in my Browine Uniform that year, like Dormouse, I watched Charles and Diana's wedding (and made a great scrapbook of all the cuttings, too!) and like Polkadot Petticoat I have celebrated July 4th - in the Bicentennial year, in fact! I love thinking of us all celebrating in our own ways but joining up here on the net to remember it all.
However, I was not in the mood at all for celebrations in 2002, the year of the Golden Jubilee. I felt quite unconvinced by the role of the Royal Family in a modern Britain. As you can see, our boys made up for my lack of enthusiasm! And I did let them dress up and wave flags, of course I did...
Ben's mum gave the boys a commemorative mug each, and I really wondered why on earth anyone would want one. Son 1 got a commemorative resin teddy figure with the 50 years crown on its chest - a gift from school. He quite quickly scratched the crown sticker off the bear, and I felt that summed it up - what was the point?
I think I'll leave you on this cliffhanger for now - how did I return from unconvinced nearly-Republican to cheerful flag-waver over the last 10 years? But if you have any similar experiences, or totally different ones, do share...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Why I'll be celebrating the Jubilee - Part 1

Well, look at me - I've been doing it all my life, evidently!
This must actually be autumn 1972, so it wasn't a Jubilee year, (probably the Silver Wedding Anniversary, Google informs me) but as you can see, I was also there in 1977:
And am doing my bit for 2012 as well! However, the full story is a bit more complicated than that, and that's why this is only Part 1. What's your history with royal celebrations?

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ooh la!

Hello! Now, I know we all think the French say 'Ooh-la-la!' all the time, but I've noticed that the two 'la's are usually reserved for very dramatic, and usually slightly humourous, occasions. You can add more if you like: 'Ooh la la la LA!' being saved for real surprise. However, the one 'la', as in the title, often comes out as an expression of surprised concern. So I think that sums us up over the last seven days.
You know about the car accident - we walked away fine, although I had an aching arm and back checked by the doctor to confirm it wasn't whiplash. I was really tired and reclusive over the weekend - OK, that was the delayed stress. All in hand, all getting better, and then: 'Ooh la!'
Son 1 climbed a small heap of earth in the garden, slid off it, and ended up at the doctor last night with a suspected broken thumb. Three hours later the doctor confirmed he had similar fears, so this morning we were off to the X-ray centre in the town next door. It turns out that there (almost certainly) isn't any break there, it's just very sprained. But the boy who's just got back to cycling and table tennis following months of immobilisation after an operation is now unable to do either sport due to no grip in his right hand! He can still type, so he's OK for school. But, sigh: 'Ooh la!'

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Thrill of What You Already Have - May

We've all been slightly suspicious of the azure-blue 'sea' in this month's picture of  the Clyde holiday resort, Dunoon.
Those who have been there deny that it ever looks like this:
But the inspiration is fantastic - I knew I had something with that incredible glossy blue, and it took me a while to work out what it was. That's the excitement of  this challenge, I think - the pictures trigger something, and it may take a while to work out what is lurking on shelves and in boxes... and this time it turned out to be on top of a kitchen cupboard...
It's this blue-glazed vase. I bought it from the stall-holders next to us when we had a stall at the school Vide Grenier, years ago. I got it very cheap, as they'd manage to chip the rim as they were transporting it (sound familiar?). It's been sitting on top of various kitchen cupboards ever since, because I like to keep a blue theme in the kitchen.
It's been really fun to take it off the top shelf, give it a thorough wipe, and find another home for it!
I have to admit I cheated with the Cornish-ware style bowl below it - I only bought it on Saturday at a Vide Grenier (four of them for 50c). It does look good, and reflects the architectural lines of the resort building at Donoon!
The yellow plate below it came from Leclerc (the big hypermarket) when several of our Denbyware plates broke in The Great Collapse of 2007 (it was a shelf-collapse, but deserves capitals and a place in family history). The yellow supermarket plates turned out to be woefully inadequate in terms of staying power - I really don't mind a few chips on vintage china, but I do object to new stuff chipping as soon as you use it. Give me modern Denby-quality or vintage toughness any day!

The flowers are from the garden - the large blue ones are new this year, and the others are staples of Ben's 'flower meadow' area - I pick them (and love them) every year!

Let me know when you do your 'Thrill' posts and I'll link to them in my sidebar - I'm looking forward to them!

Friday, May 11, 2012

French Red and White

Thanks for your supportive and kind comments on my post below. I'm relaxing and enjoying a little bit of French red and white (although only the white of the alcoholic variety) tonight!
I bought two of these items at last weekend's Vide Grenier in our town. The other two came from events last year - I only noticed how good they looked together when I ironed the chequered cloth (which has spent the winter under our coffee machine) and then the new shelf-edging, and draped them together over the balcony to air!
What a great combination! The shelf-edging fabric may be new - I really can't tell if it's something made by the excellent reproduction company, Comptoir de Famille, or one of the originals!
The platter with red-stencilled flowers was my other find from the weekend. It would have been a bit pricey, but the vendor had chipped it on the way to the sale, so I got it (admittedly for display purposes only) for 30c.
The red-stencilled plates were bought in reasonable quantity at a brocante sale last year. I love them - they're cheery and vintage and go through the dishwasher on a daily basis - best of all worlds!

Son 1 and I are both doing fine after our accident yesterday. At various points we've felt pretty confused/dazed/out of sorts, but have had some time to sit down together in the shade with a cold drink after school, and chat about how it's going. We're both staggeringly glad it's the weekend! And next week brings another round of holidays - Thursday off for Assomption (I think - I loose track) and the Friday off for the whole family too. Hurray for the May holidays!

Quick update

Phew! Son 1 and I escaped unharmed when a lorry shunted a car into the back of ours yesterday evening. We were pretty shaken and the car will have to be scrapped - two passengers in the middle car were hurt but not, I think, too badly. Everyone (road users, police, pompiers, garagistes) was wonderful.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Thrill of What You Already Have - May picture

Whatever the weather may be like in Europe at the moment, it's looking pretty good for Dunoon in the 1960s:
I'm thrilled by the seaside colours and stylish architecture of this holiday scene, and I've been drifting past my calendar trying to get inspiration for this month's collection. I haven't actually come up with anything yet, but I look forward to all your ideas and to sharing some of my own once I get organised!

Holidays (but not the seaside variety) are very much the theme here in May - this week the First was a holiday, and the children had Monday 30th off school too. Next week the eighth is a holiday - the boys will be in school on the seventh, but Ben is taking the day off to paint the very rusty front gate. I'll post some pictures (before, during and after) so that you can get an idea of the palatial gates we go in for in this part of France...

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Going for a walk

Life is in its most busy, yet enjoyable stage - all the May bank holidays are giving us lots of family and party time (more on that later, perhaps!) and forcing me to cram five days of work into three, as much as is possible. But this is not a hardship, just an explanation of why blogging is a bit slow at the moment. However, I wanted to annouce that the weather has improved down here, and we have finally Gone For A Walk, as suggested by Carolyn for Finding Fun. And this is the Fun we Found:

Son 1 had an appointment at the Physio this evening, to get his poor old knee back into shape. Son 2 and I loaded Raja into the car to accompany him, and then went for a walk in a part of our town that we never usually head towards. It's mainly sprawling residential roads, but we found an area (typical of France) where a road had been laid out but the land remained undeveloped and full of old oak trees, long grasses and vetch. We had a lot of fun bounding through the long grass with Raja, and then found the best fun of the evening - a detective's dream of clues. There was a burnt patch on the tarmac of one of the undeveloped driveways. This is what we worked out from the clues:
  1. A car had been half-parked on the empty driveway.
  2. It had four doors.
  3. One of its doors had been open.
  4. It had burst into flames and completely burnt up.
  5. Its number plate included the number 30 and the letters K and E. (We found the imprint in the tarmac - cool!)
We also deduced the following:
  1. It probably happened at night.
  2. The inhabitants of the houses at the end of the road were probably woken up by explosions and flames.
  3. We could probably find a report on this in the local paper.
Now, it's quite possible that this doesn't sound like fun to you, but we sure enjoyed it!