Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New camera, antique sheets...

I had a rather crazy afternoon today - something I saw in the charity shop last Thursday had been preying on my mind...

Huge antique sheets made of hemp, I rather think, although they have a really chill feel so I suppose they could be very coarse linen. Both have these initials on them.
Both are completely hand-stitched - down the middle (because the fabric was woven on a narrow loom) and also on the hems where there isn't a selvedge.
I really admired them, but wondered what on earth I would do with them - they are a bit rough, and each one weighs nearly 3kg (try weighing the average sheet - I guess it would be under 1kg)!

Then at some point yesterday I had a flash of genius - my very own Sofa that Mocks Me! The sofa that is just too long for any throw, bedspread etc... but not too long for these enormous antique sheets! So I have to get experimenting once we get back from holiday, but I think these fantastic, all natural, very strong sheets will make some suitably huge and sturdy covers for the sofa, which will then have some rather softer crochet throws over the top.

I then went and spent Real Money on New Stuff, which almost never happens. I bought a camera to replace the lost one, as we're off on holiday soon and Ben isn't prepared to have a last-minute 'we don't have a camera' panic! Sensible man. And I also bought a laptop computer for work. It's the sales ('Les Soldes')! Scary but satisfying...

Monday, July 16, 2012

A little revolutionary music, and some answers

I do hope you'll take the time to listen to this lovely song, which is from a musical about the French Revolution that's currently very big over here! It sounds quite a lot like the music we sing at church, and also seems fitting to my 14th July post about the French character... Do you want to know my two (and a half) things I've adopted since living here? Ang wasn't quite right:

I'm much better at not eating between meals. It actually is quite hard to buy a snack here anyway, which has got to be good for you. And of course I've lost weight!

Yes, as people guessed, I do put a cloth on picnic tables. A very pleasant thing to do...

And equally lovely is the polite greeting of people in shops, people who are eating, etc. Of course I do that! Very civilised.

The rest I am pretty much a failure at.

Would you like a translation of the words of the song? You can find one here.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

To be French

Today is the fête nationale, France's day of national celebration. We are happy to be celebrating, but we remain pretty British - delighted to live in France, happy with our French neighbours, friends and church - involved and contributing foreigners. We've been here seven and a half years, and we did rather think we might be fairly French by now, but a few years ago we took stock and realised that a) we were never going to be French and b) we didn't actually want to be fully French.

Here is a random, subjective list of the things I think make one French. Many of them I admire intensely, some of them I dislike, but nearly all of them are impossible to me given the British character I grew up with. Please realise that this is hardly factual - it's just the way it feels to me!

To be French I think you need to:

  • Buy food for quality rather than for economy.
  • Hold on to an ideal despite years of apparent proof to its contrary.
  • Greet anyone eating anything, anywhere, with a polite: 'Bon appetit'!
  • Be prepared to wait for hours without anything to do.
  • At best, deeply mistrust foreign cooking.
  • Prioritise meal times with the family above any other activity.
  • Accept that smoking is a valid way to keep the weight off if you are a woman.
  • Listen politely to anyone's ideas, even if you disagree with them.
  • 'Shush' your children when they talk in public.
  • Wonder if the people who complain about fois gras have actually tasted it.
  • Accept the power of the state as a given fact.
  • Greet all people politely, at all times, however rushed or stressed you are.
  • Be politely surprised and secretly horrified by the idea of eating between meals.
  • Wear clothes that make you look good, instead of whatever is fashionable/whatever you feel like.
  • Understand grammar.
  • Have a pharmacy one third-filled with products to help you loose your 'little tummy'.
  • Be confident enough of your masculinity not to have to swear, act agressively or do other macho stuff (assuming you are a man in the first place).
  • Think that urban trees look best if violently trimmed every year.
  • Wear matching underwear.
  • Accept the power of the education system to dictate your/your child's future.
  • Live with a superb health-care system (OK, I admit it, this one's easy).
  • Sit still and listen to a serious talk without expecting to be 'entertained'.
  • Wait at the garden gate to be allowed in, not at the front door.
  • Always prepare a starter.
  • Believe that Catholicism, whilst totally out-dated and disproved, is still the only way anyone should worship.
  • Think that Monica Bellucci is plump but pretty.
  • Garden by taming nature, rather than emulating it.
  • Be able to pronounce the words: 'grenouille' and 'écureuil'.
  • Be unlikely to be able to pronounce the words: 'built' and 'squirrel'.
  • Lay a table cloth on your picnic table.
  • Know what it means to have 'heavy legs', and know that the pharmacy stocks medicine for this ailment.

I hope I haven't been unfair! The list is random and totally subjective, as I said... do you want to know which two (or maybe two and a half) on that list I have actually achieved? Perhaps I'll tell you tomorrow...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lost camera

I picked it up. I put it down again. I have a memory of putting it down at just about waist-height, with my right hand. This was in the house.

We have looked everywhere at just about-waist height. We have looked in the places where things might get knocked, or fall, from somewhere of the right height. We have looked in all the usual places. We have looked in some unusual places.

We have not yet found the camera. Blog posts are going to be a little uneventful for now!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Thrill of What You Already Have - July picture

Here it is - another unfeasibly sunny Scottish beach!
The colours are cheerful and sunny, but what inspires me is that little white-sailed boat. How I wish I already had a little white boat... But without one, we'll just have to see what comes up! Please let me know if you join in - the instructions can be found by clicking on the image in my sidebar.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A week away from blogging - and those tins!

Thanks for your encouraging comments about my new blog header and background, and also about my blogging break. I don't know if you ever find that you feel a bit out-of-sorts, and that the internet is becoming a prop which attempts (and fails) to improve how you feel? When I get like that, I know it's time for a week's break. Here is the story of this last week:
Shortly after I signed off, Son 1 and I decided to pop into the Troc Shop on our way past. They are usually pretty short of vintage stuff, normally veering between useful modern stuff, modern tat and antiques, so I was stunned to see this wonderful set of canisters there for 25€.
Far more than I would usually pay to add to my collection, but far more beautiful (and also more complete) than anything else I own. I was given 25€ for my birthday, so the canisters are now mine, and have inspired my first ever change of blog design, too!
On Saturday night we had an unexpected gift – the boys were invited to sleep over with a friend, so I booked (by executive decision) a table at the best restaurant in our town. As Ben loves good food and I usually book cheaper places, I knew this would be well received!
He and I spent the afternoon doing coupley-type things, choosing new glasses for him, buying some kit for our forthcoming camping trip, and trying on, but failing to buy, sandals. We dashed back from the optician’s to get changed and walked out, through the Coulée Verte, to the restaurant. Having been warned there was a wedding party I was anxious that we might not get a seat outside, in the old open barn, but the wedding party had checked the forecast and decided to go indoors! Ben and I therefore celebrated both my birthday (late) and our 22nd wedding anniversary (early) by eating a fantastic meal, drinking velvety wine, and not getting wet despite the flash thunder-storm. The wedding party was small and very sweet – an older man (very dashing) was marrying a woman a little younger (extremely tasteful lace dress) and their children and a few grandchildren made up the party. Other diners included one of Ben’s bosses!
After we’d finished our leisurely meal we strolled back through the town, as the Coulée Verte was too wet underfoot for a return journey in decent shoes. This gave us the opportunity of passing through the town’s youth music festival, which was actually well-attended by adults too. We spent most of our time (in the light rain) looking at le train d’enfer, a wonderfully old-fashioned fairground side-attraction, the aim being to push the skeletal train model up a steep track into the flaming mouth of hell… This and a few other old-French-style attractions were presented by exquisite young adults in black and white stripes, berets, skull carnival masks and other stunningly stylish accoutrements. Their every move was like something from a silent film, and the overall presentation was so different to a modern fairground. One game was a variation on what the Brits call ‘Bash the Rat’, but this time, children had to stab a speeding saucisse with a fork as it came down the tube! We watched one child win his saucisse, and then decided to head for home.

Sunday was quite a different day, with Ben heading off to the Netherlands with the aforementioned boss, and the boys coming home rather on the tired and ratty side… I did pop out to the weekly Vide Grenier that calls itself a Marché de Puces, and came home with some lovely bargains – usually, prices are quite steep there, but everyone seemed to be clearing out granny’s attic this week! I’ll post pictures when I’ve taken them… but immediately after coming home, I lost the camera! I know I only put it down briefly, but can we find it...?
Hello blogging friends - I'm back and you can tell I've been busy! I'm still tweaking the new blog look (my first ever change to a look I loved) and it may get further tweaked over the next few days. However, now off to the cinema with Son 2, while Son 1 does an archaelogy training day...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Made for France

How I can tell my new rucksack has been made for French shoppers:
It has two French bread holders on either side! So practical...

I'm going to be taking a blogging and Facebook break for a week - we're not going away but I need to clear my head a bit, I think, ready for the holidays! Have a great week, friends.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


Last weekend Son 1 turned 15 - pretty quietly, as he was revising for his Brevet exams. It was only marked on my blog, for example, by a change of his age in my profile...
However, this Friday evening his exams were over and we baked (yet another) birthday treacle tart as requested, and set up the tent in the garden. His friend (who'll be starting an apprenticeship in September) came over and helped me and Son 2 to decorate the treacle tart with candles from the candle tub - they gleefully used some little train candle-holders that last graced Son 1's fifth birthday cake! The candle light glinted on the golden tart as we carried it to the darkened table under the silver birch trees. It was a beautiful, relaxed celebration.