Sunday, 22 April 2018

Mosaic Monday # 82 - a surprising few days

The biggest surprise here this past week has been the scorching weather we've been experiencing since Tuesday, making this the hottest April in Normandy since records began.
It was lovely to sit outside midmorning Wednesday with a cup of coffee browsing through a gardening magazine and planning which herbs to grow.
In the afternoon the SP surprised me with these sweet treats.
Thursday brought another lovely surprise, the cows came back to their summer home in the field next door.
The house martins which take up residence in the nests that previous families have made, in the rafters over the garage, arrived too making Thursday extra special.
They fly so fast and the nests are so up high that it's impossible for me to photograph them.
image courtesy RSPB

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Website
On Saturday morning we enjoyed petit dejeuner outside before heading off to a vide grenier in a nearby town, in the afternoon the temperature climbed to 28 C that's over 82 F!
I didn't uncover any hidden gems at the vide grenier but there were lots of pots and rusty old tools to be had if I'd needed any.
Early evening brought a terrific downpour followed by thunder and lightening and more rain.
Sunday was cooler so we decided to take a trip to the beach for our walk, there were quite a few tourists about taking advantage of the beautiful weather, the forecast for the coming week however is for temperatures closer to those which we normally expect in April.

Look how green everything is.....................

Wishing you a week full of blue skies and sunshine.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Mosaic Monday # 81 - saturday


Although Saturday got off to a cold and dreary start by the afternoon the sun was out and there were blue skies up above. Perfect weather for wandering around the garden, iPhone in hand, to capture some spring flowers.
The early daffodils have now gone over, been deadheaded but not tied back, the leaves left to continue to store energy into the bulbs before dying back in about six weeks time.
It's a different story with the "Cornish" daffodils however.
This delightful daffodil is
 "Cheerfullness"
Seven years ago the SP and I visited The Lost Gardens of Heligan (click on the link to read a post about our visit which features both shopping and a Cornish Cream Tea!)) and I bought a good number of different daffodil species in the shop there.
The Cornish daffs  flower at least a month later than the earlies extending our daffodil season from December to April/May and brightening Normandy's cold and dark winter days.

damson blossom
Also bringing beauty into the garden this week are the blossoming fruit trees, damson; cherry; pear and apple are all doing their very best to outshine each other. As I walked around taking photographs I could hear bumble bees buzzing above my head but couldn't get a single one of them to sit still long enough for me to take a snap.

espaliered pear tree growing against the garden wall
P.S.
Thank you for all your comments on the ballerina's tale last week, so many of us have the same dilemma it seems when it comes to disposing of our once loved treasures. The good news is that my ballerinas may have found a way to brighten up someone else's life in the future as a UK cousin, who deals in antiques and collectibles, has shown some interest.
All he has to do is come and collect them!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Mosaic Monday # 80 - a ballerina's tale.....................

To quote William Morris
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” 
I can't remember when I first heard that quote but I know it was many years and several homes ago. 
I like to think that I've pretty much managed to follow this "rule" when deciding how best to make our home attractive, welcoming and comfortable.
Over the years I've gathered together quite an eclectic mix of furnishings and collectibles and when browsing through blogland I know that I'm not alone!
That's why I'd like to ask you something.
What do you do with the things that no longer suit your style or taste? If there's a possible home downsizing in the not too distant future, what then?
Are you ruthless and drop them off at the dump, donate to the local charity shop, sell them on eBay, or simply give them away to someone else to love?
I bought my first Lladro Nao ballerina whilst on vacation on the island of Lanzarote in 1982 in fact we liked them so much that we bought three.

Others soon followed and we began to receive Nao figurines as Christmas gifts from my family.
I loved to display them on a sideboard in our small English cottage.
When we went to live in Bavaria they suited the modern interior of our chalet style home, they even made it to Normandy when we moved to France in the mid '90's and that's when I fell out of love with them.
They are too modern, too 1980's and just don't go in this ancient house.
I took them out of the box to make my mosaic but they've been packed away again, to languish in a dark corner of the attic, until I've checked eBay to see if I'm sitting on a fortune! I'll let you know.



Sunday, 1 April 2018

Mosaic Monday # 79 - apple blossom clematis

Picture the scene if you will - it's late Spring 2017 and I'm wandering around my local garden centre looking for new plants to replace two climbing roses which didn't make it through the winter.
Removing them had left large spaces on the front wall of the house and they needed to be covered over.
I came across a selection of clematis plants that I, in my ignorance, thought might be just the thing and bought two.
They were quite expensive but worth it, I thought, as they would quickly clamber up the Virginia creeper and cover the exposed surface.
All summer long I pined waited for them to flower, nothing, nada, rien!
Plenty of foliage although not enough to fill the empty spaces completely.
During the snowy days of February the clematis by the kitchen door had a bad attack of frost bite and sadly had to be severely cut back.
But now it's Spring 2018 and if you haven't already guessed from seeing my new blog header the apple blossom clematis by the front door has entwined itself around the sturdy branches of the Virginia creeper producing beautifully delicate pink flowers with pale yellow stamens and a delicious scent of vanilla.
The perfect clematis to grow in Normandy, the apple growing region of France.



Happy Easter from Normandy

We went to the beach this morning with M'selle Fleur after a two week break, as it's Easter weekend there were many others out enjoying the lovely day.
This weekend marks the start of the tourist season here in Normandy when holiday makers take over from locals, who enjoy walking their dogs on the beach, so we might not be going back for a while.
Which is why I was absolutely delighted to see that the town council of Colleville sur Mer have installed this large collection box by the footpath leading down to the beach.
This Tide Tray is available to collect Waste from the Beach
It is part of an initiative to get visitors helping to keep the beaches clean by picking up garbage from the shore line and dumping it in the box!
So hopefully, whilst I'm gone from the beach during the summer, other willing hands will be looking after Omaha Beach instead.
what goes in the box and what doesn't                                                           the collection so far 

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Mosaic Monday # 78 - a visit to Worcester Cathedral

Whenever we go back "home" to England we like to include spending some time in an area or county that we've not been to before. Renting a vacation cottage enables us to "self cater" and come and go as we please. We chose the Perry Shed because of its rural location set in a small hamlet ideally situated in the "Heart of England", close to Droitwich Spa and the City of Worcester.
A visit to Worcester Cathedral was on our "must see" list and in order to learn more of its history we booked a tour with one of the Cathedrals volunteer docents.
Volunteer docent Andrew recounting the History of King Johns Tomb in the Quire
Andrew, 86 years of age, has been leading tours of the Cathedral for 15 years, his knowledge of the subject is boundless.
We joined two other couples for an hour long tour, but it wasn't until almost  two hours later that we said a reluctant goodbye to Andrew and the group before heading to the Cathedral cafĂ© for lunch.
Benedictine Cloisters
Here are seven things I learned about Worcester Cathedral that I didn't know before.
If you'd like to learn more about the 7 things I didn't know there'll be links to follow at the bottom of this post.
A Church was founded in Worcester in 680 and Bosel was consecrated as Bishop.
In 983 Oswald founded a Benedictine Monastery within the Cathedral.
Wulfstan was Bishop of the Cathedral when the Normans invaded in 1066 and was allowed to remain. He decided to demolish most of Oswalds church and to build a Cathedral on the site, beginning with the crypt. Wulfstan was Canonised as a Saint in 1203.
The Crypt
King John, the younger brother of Richard the Lionheart, began his reign in 1199 and is mostly remembered as the Monarch who agreed to the signing of the Magna Carta.
The tomb of King John
Before he died in 1216 he requested that he be buried in Worcester Cathedral, his tomb made of dark Purbeck marble is situated in the Quire.
The Quire
Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales, the eldest son of King Henry VII and older brother of Henry (who later became Henry VIII), was formally betrothed to Catherine of Aragon when he was 3 years old.
The marriage took place in 1501, he died 6 months later and is buried in the Chantry Chapel of the Cathedral.
Chantry Chapel, Arthur Tudors final resting place.
The following year, 1502, Catherine of Aragon became the first wife of Henry VIII.
During the English Civil War the City of Worcester was loyal to King Charles and paid a high price for it. After defeating the Royalists in battle the Parliamentarian troops occupied the Cathedral which they looted and vandalised, riding their horses up and down the nave and destroying anything that they, as Puritans, considered represented Popery within the Cathedral.
Restoration of the Cathedral has been ongoing throughout the ages, the Victorians being responsible for a lot of the exterior stonework which isn't very attractive.

Inside many of the original furnishings have long disappeared, the stained glass windows, ceilings and floors are Victorian.



Sunday, 18 March 2018

Mosaic Monday # 77 - Harvington Hall, an Elizabethan Manor House.

Here I am warmly ensconced in the sitting room of a small cottage in Worcestershire looking out of the large window at the snow laying gently on the garden. There's a wonderful log fire burning brightly in the super modern high tech stove across the room. The Senior Partner is in the kitchen preparing a typical English Sunday lunch of roast beef, Yorkshire puddings & gravy, roast potatoes with a medley of vegetables and it certainly does feel like home!
But more about our home from home later, first I want to tell you about a wonderful place which we visited yesterday afternoon.

Harvington Hall is a restored Tudor Manor House surrounded by a beautiful moat and gardens.


It's origins date back to the 1580's when it was built for Humphrey Pakington and his family.


They were devout Catholics during the reign of Protestant Queen Elizabeth I and therefore Humphrey had many hidden Priest hides included throughout the building.


Click here to find out more about the largest surviving collection of Priest hides in England @ Harvington.


They really are fascinating to see and the tales of the lengths the priests and the host family went to in order to avoid detection, or in some cases didn't avoid, are incredible.


Harvington Hall is simply steeped in History with a capital H and the very informative and chatty docent, dressed as an Elizabethan female servant, brought it all to life for us.
I couldn't possibly cover five centuries of history in a single blog post but if you're keen to know more then do visit their website, you'll be in for a real treat if you do.
Before we left the 16th century behind we stopped at the Moat Side Tea Room for a pot of tea, toasted teacake and cream tea, well it would have been rude not to.


(The cream tea debate of Devon versus Cornwall has raged for decades in the UK. Do you put cream or jam on your scone first? Well, it would seem that HRH Queen Elizabeth II has finally settled things once and for all. She (like me) prefers the Cornish method of jam first with cream on top not jam followed by cream as they do in Devon).


As we left the tea room we saw that during our tour of Harvington snow had begun to fall but by the time we arrived back at The Perry Shed it had blown over.
During the night it blew back again and this how things looked this morning.