Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Inside the Elephant Box - Part 1

There are two layers in my elephant box!
The box was given to my mother and grandmother by friends whose Victorian grandmother had been quite a collector...
As many of you guessed, it contains a lot of sewing equipment (no buttons, Betty, so you can read on!), including this quirky little pin cushion designed like a domino.
The domino pin cusion was in a compartment on the left, and, lifting the little lid above it, I found this leather needle case, the large 'needle' and the two amber rods... even after years of treating this box as my 'rainy day' box, to share with my grandmother, I really don't know everything that's in it!
Juanita makes a key point- not only is the box's inlay ivory, but the needle case seems to have snake skin on it and the 'needle' is almost certainly tortoise shell. My mother taught me to be horrified by the killing, but to respect these antique artefacts - I wonder what the rest of you think?
Just to add to my ethical issues over the ancient massacres of endangered animals, here is a collection of carved ivory bangles my mother bought in charity shops and (one of) my grandmother's crocodile-skin handbags. My mother bought the ivory bracelets because she couldn't bear to see something which represented so much life and work (obviously mainly on the part of the elephant) being sold as if it were plastic. She never wore them.  My grandmother bought the handbag because that was just what you did in those days... what do we do with it all now, I wonder?

Monday, October 29, 2012

Here is a box...

Here is a box,
an elephant box!

Opened and ready to play.
But this box can hide many secrets inside...

Can you guess what is in it today?

Friday, October 26, 2012

You say eiderdown, I say édredon...

...or at least, I do now!
So, I promised a friend I'd pop into the charity shop today, to look out for an old duvet for her dog's kennel...
Amongst the duvets (and I bought one for you and one for me, Jane!) were two bags labelled: 'édredon'. Can that mean what I think it means, I wondered?
Well, yes, it pretty much does!
You can see my mum's piece of eiderdown fabric, at the top of this photo, and the two French ones (probably the same period - do you think 1930s?) below. The French fabric isn't glossy - it's fairly coarse, in fact, but I do rather think they're going to go together well. French édredons are small and square, I was told. I think they will fit well on the end of the bed in the winter, though, for pulling up over shoulders when it gets really cold... And I think I'll use the down duvet I bought for myself as an innard for the eiderdown fabric I found in my mum's drawer...

The lady from the charity shop suggests a trip to the huge washers and driers at the laundrette down the road - what do you think, friends? Will they all survive the wash and dry (plus balle de tennis, of course)?
There was some very 'me' fabric at the charity shop too - it might be fun as a table cloth?
And finally, two bark cloth bed covers - I only bought this one, as the other one, trendy bark cloth or not, just made me want to cringe... some big, dark flowered patterns do that to me.

The holidays are nearly here! The trip to the charity shop took place thanks to a cancelled English lesson, and I have two more lessons to teach (one maths, please don't laugh if you know my ability, and one English) and then the holidays begin! I still have some work, but plenty of time with the boys too, and, I hope plenty of time to share some more of our modern vintage life in France with you! Thanks for holding on in there, friends - your comments were very kind when I was so busy. So, see you after the weekend!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Those heady days...

... when there was time to blog...

Ah yes, I remember them well!

I haven't forgotten you, friends, and I'm aiming to do some posts in the autumn holidays, which start on Oct 29th!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Cats and Conkers, Churches and Chapels...

I think I'll start with the cats!
The village where we visited the science festival on Saturday is about 20 minutes' drive from our own small town. It seems to have a thriving population of picturesque cats.
I only caught these two on the camera, but there were others!
Two donkeys were also present as part of the science event - they were doing a guided tour around the stands at one point, although we never caught up with them!
The village itself is a lovely example of the architecture to the west of Toulouse - this is the church wall, on the left, and it's built in typical style of field pebbles in a herring-bone pattern between layers of thin, Toulousain brick (see yesterday's post for a close-up). And isn't the half-timbered house at the end fantastic?
The church has a brick bell-tower and is surrounded by this ring of houses (the last photo was from inside the ring). This is quite traditional in our area, and I assume was done for defensive purposes in the Middle Ages - the houses are basically built-up into a solid wall surrounding the centre of the village.
Now that defences are no longer needed, the covered market hall and the plane-lined boulodrome have become the focus...
This door belongs to a chapel just behind the church.
Its curved wall is very Roman in style - architecture didn't really change much here with the fall of the Roman Empire. We still had the material and the skills to make bricks, and even modern houses look a little bit like Roman villas.
And finally, the conkers! Surprisingly, there were as many horse chestnut trees as plane trees around the church. One side was particularly fertile, producing enormous conkers like the one in Son 1's right hand... it can't have been the graveyard, can it???

Monday, October 8, 2012

Backwater Science...

On Saturday, various science teams decided to bring their entertaining and educational science workshops from the city to the countryside.
The boys and I, plus friend, headed off to the incredibly pretty village where the groups had set up their stands.
The three boys were probably the only teenagers there - a smattering of smaller children and their families also attended but I think that advertising could have been better.
The three photos above are our boys experimenting with sound and water.
Which is better - the photo of the mini-whirlpool Friend 1 created, or the fantastic church wall behind it?
There was an even better location around the corner, for a chap who was demonstrating sundials!
The boys all found it fantastic - they are variously studious/trendy/easily distractable, so capturing the interest of all three was a real coup for the science teams! Next post: architecture in the village, conkers and cats...

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

October has begun...

... and the work-load hasn't gone down in the slightest!
I'm not complaining - I am doing what I love (teaching a huge variety of people), in hours that suit me, often from home, which suits the boys, and getting paid for it!
However blogging, and also painting our half-completed front door, are really taking a back seat!
Just so you realise that I'm not suffering at all, I've given you three photos from our camping trip in late September, and here are five things I'm really grateful for at the moment:

  • Being at home almost every morning, with Ben and the boys as they get ready and leave for school and work.
  • The moon in the sky when I head outside to let the hens out each morning.
  • Many warm, sunny days to dry my washing on the line.
  • Pupils and students who enjoy sharing the learning experience with me.
  • Chillis, peppers, grapes and a few tomatoes from the garden.

Monday, October 1, 2012

The Thrill of What You Already Have - October's Inspiration

Observant friends have noticed that I didn't post a picture from my calendar for August and September - oops! Many apologies... but here is October's calendar poster, nice and on time for you:
If you want to know more about how to join in, click on the link in my sidebar and leave a comment when you've done your post - have fun, and remember that you can be inspired in any way - clothes, crafts, displays - anything based on things you already own!