Sunday, 19 March 2017

Mosaic Monday # 32 - too much of a good thing can be wonderful

The response to my MM # 31 post on vintage French enamelware was wonderful, thank you, and I'm not at all surprised to find out that we're all chineurs one way or another.

Peugeot Freres coffee mill, circa 1900
I really enjoyed reading about all the eclectic and diverse things that appeal to you.
Whether it's ceramics, dolls, photographs, Beatrix Potter or Belleek china, tea cups or vintage linens, we do enjoy thrift/charity shops, garage sales, antique fairs and auctions.

blue and white Delft ware, always a favourite.
I particularly enjoyed these two comments:
from Jo Ann (Scene Through My Eyes) "I think my collection of friends is the best one of all" and Sallie (Full Time Life) "one of my pleasures in blogging is "meeting" new people and seeing other ways to live the good life".
So true!

vintage pitchers; an amusing Garnier triple liqueur bottle; Malicorne pitcher; framed Delft tile;
terracotta Santons; ceramic crab shaped serving dish;
Malicorne faience egg server. 
For you, my lovely friends, my mosaics today are of some quirky and delightful treasures discovered whilst bargain hunting in Normandy and Brittany.

vintage enamelware and a ceramic ashtray from a French brasserie.
Don't laugh, I packed this collection of Banania tins away when we painted the dining room about seven years ago and haven't seen them since. I can't, for love nor money, remember where I put them.
Banania is a breakfast beverage enjoyed by the French since 1914
these storage tins were from a series issued circa 1950

I found these crystal glass display pieces about 15 years ago, I think they're lovely but can never figure out the best way to use them. The only way to display flowers in them is to cut the stems very, very short and almost float the flower heads in the water.

Suggestions please.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Mosaic Monday # 31 - vintage french enamelware

Spring has definitely arrived here in Normandy but one of the things that I look forward to very much at this time of year has nothing to do with the garden or the weather.

One of my favourite pastimes at the weekend and on public holidays is to spend time wandering around vide greniers, brocante markets and antique fairs on the look out for beautiful objects to add to my collection of all things vintage French..
(When I first began to collect Quimper faience in the '90's I was lucky enough to meet Millicent Mali, a respected Quimper expert and author, at an antique fair in Brittany who kindly explained that the French word for antiquing is "chiner" and we are all  "chineurs"!)

What is a collector?
 - someone who collects objects because they are beautiful, valuable, or interesting according to the Cambridge English Dictionary.
The Merriam Webster definition is not as complimentary: a person who collects certain things as a hobby, a person whose job is to collect something (such as trash or money) !

Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so they say and what is one man's trash is another man's treasure.

My mosaics this week feature some shabby chic beautiful French enamelware that I've enjoyed here at the Presbytère before finding them new homes with other collectors.

I can still find vintage French enamelware at reasonable prices now and again but "kitchenalia" seems to have become very popular souvenir of tourists visiting Normandy and the competition is tough.
storage canister sets come in many different colours and patterns

"Enameled Kitchenware" by Pikul & Plante is a book that has helped me a lot with my research into the many different designs, styles and patterns that I come across.
It contains a wealth of information on both European and American enamelware. 

I checked and it is still available from amazon, the photographs and descriptions are excellent but I don't know if the price guide is still relevant to the marketplace.

a selection of "coffee biggins"
an 18th century French invention for brewing coffee 

utensil racks - decorative and useful

Are you a collector too, what do you collect?

Please let me know, I'd really enjoy hearing what it is that you will be searching for the next time you go out to chiner.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Mosaic Monday # 30 - changing seasons

Sending you all a bunch of spring daffodils as a big thank you for all the lovely comments and well wishes left on last week's MM post.
I'm glad to report that this week has been quite uneventful, without a hint of the drama of the previous one.
The North wind doth blow and we shall have snow
And what will poor robin do then, poor thing?
He'll sit in a barn and keep himself warm
and hide his head under his wing, poor thing.
English Nursery Rhyme.

The weather has been very changeable all week, one minute blue skies and sunshine the next hail storms and thunder.
You may remember that I recently purchased some Bach's Rescue Remedy to help M'selle Fleur cope with stress caused by loud noises, just three or four drops onto her tongue followed by a biscuit treat does seem to have helped to calm her down during a storm.
Also, I think that hunting season must have ended as we've not heard any guns for a while.

The proud mama with lambs belongs to our friend and local shopkeeper, Jacques. He keeps four sheep in the field next to his store. Three of his sheep have delivered five little ones between them so far with another set of twins expected from the fourth one soon.
In March I usually start to think about the coming season and what I might grow in my potager/ vegetable garden which I can see from both the kitchen and sitting room windows.
There's something so hygge (Danish for cosy) about sitting in front of a log fire browsing garden centre catalogues and gardening books whilst the rain lashes down outside.
(click here to find out  how to add hygge to your life) 

This year though it's all change, I've regretfully come to the conclusion that growing vegetables in the potager will be too much like hard work for me from now on.
I am keeping the bed which is sheltered by the wall so that we can keep the golden raspberry canes and various herbs to be used in cooking.  
I'll keep a space free at one end for planting lettuce seedlings which I'll buy at the local market and maybe a couple of pots of tomatoes too, just so I can keep my hand in.

The other two beds will get dug over, weeded and seeded by Sean the Gardner next month to create a new lawn, shaded on two sides by the laurel hedge it will be the perfect spot to sit and enjoy afternoon tea.
Are you dreaming of warmer days and making plans for your 2017 garden, will you be making changes too?

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Mosaic Monday # 29 - did you ever have one of those days?

Did you ever have one of those days when anything that could go wrong did go wrong?
Last Thursday was such a day for the SP and me here at the Presbytère.
The TV weather forecast mentioned that Storm Doris was already battering the United Kingdom. Normandy is just a skip and a jump across the English Channel from the south coast of England so we weren't surprised that it was cold and very blustery outside.
We needed to run some errands so headed to Bayeux to shop followed by lunch at a Brasserie on the Market square.
We arrived home to find this.

We walked inside the house and it was cold.
The central heating wasn't working.

The damson tree, on the left, 10 years ago.

The plumber who had installed a new pressure control whatchamacallit to the boiler the previous day was called back.
Whilst we waited for him I checked emails only to find my Facebook profile had been hacked and my friends were receiving friend requests from some unknown hacker.
After answering emails I posted a message on FB to let everyone know not to accept any friend requests from me.
The SP lit the wood burning stoves in rooms at opposite ends of the house, between them they did a good job of keeping us warm.
Late afternoon the plumber arrived to take a look at the problem.
The boiler's pump promptly blew a gasket and sprayed very hot water all over the plumber, the SP and everything else in the laundry/store room within spraying distance, including the fuse box and internet router.
The plumber went off promising to order a replacement pump and to come back the next day.
Meanwhile. we mopped and mopped.
Then the electricity went off throughout the house, garage and store rooms but was restored after fuse boxes were checked and appliances unplugged and plugged in again.
Next we lost the internet.
At least we had hot water and log fires.
By this time we were both reeling so, after a light supper, we went to bed.
Still no internet.
Friday dawned with brilliant sunshine and blue skies.
We had the internet and hot water still, what a great start to the day.
A friend had reported the hack of my FB page to Facebook, they investigated and closed the fake page down.
I changed my FB password.
The chainsaw came out and the poor old damson tree was dispatched painlessly.
Logs were cut and stacked.

The plumber arrived in the afternoon and fitted the new pump, heating was restored.
Happy Days.
Here's a house we passed on our walk on Friday,
 another fixer-upper for you to consider.

A fairly dilapidated three room cottage, needs a lot of work to make it habitable.
Last known occupants - a family of ducks.
Comes with extensive outbuildings, big garden with large pond.
Best feature - this amazing mimosa tree positively flourishing in the courtyard in front of the house.
It's perfume, although delicate, was wonderful.

Acacia Dealbata - a native of Australia
was introduced into France in the 19th century
by wealthy English residents on the Côte d’Azur.
The Magical Mimosa Festivals of the South of France.
Click on the link above to immerse yourself in the
festivals and carnivals of the Côte d’Azur.

A different type of Mimosa altogether is a delicious cocktail to be enjoyed at anytime but which goes especially well with brunch.
Equal parts orange juice and champagne the Mimosa cocktail is said to have been invented in 1925 by one Frank Meier a bartender at the Ritz Hotel in Paris.
But did you know that a cocktail called Buck's Fizz was created four years earlier by bartender McGarry at Buck's Club a London gentleman's club still in existence today?

A Buck's Fizz also pairs orange juice and champagne together, combining two parts fizz to one part juice, some variations exchange sparkling wine for the champagne and can include gin or cherry brandy.

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Mosaic Monday # 28. Edinburgh Castle, Scotland.

Today I'd like to take you on a brief tour of Edinburgh Castle.

King Malcolm III brought his second wife Queen Margaret,
kinswoman of King Edward the Confessor of England,
to live there in 1074.
(Detail from a frieze in the entrance hall of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh, photographed by uploader, CC BY-SA 3.0 Wikipedia)
Here's what I found about Malcolm from wikipedia.
He was the eldest son of Duncan I who became King of Scotland in 1034.
Duncan's reign was cut short when he was murdered by Macbeth in 1040.
Macbeth ruled for 17 years until he was killed in 1057 by Malcolm.
Macbeth's stepson Lulach was crowned King and was murdered by Malcolm in 1058.
Malcolm was crowned King in 1058 and ruled until his death in 1093
when he was succeeded by his eldest son, by his first wife, Duncan II.

I found a good overview of William Shakespeare's play

Saint Margaret's Chapel, 12th Century.
The oldest building in the Castle built by King David (1124-53)
and dedicated to his Mother who died here in 1093.
She was created a Saint in 1251.
There are many wonderful things to see within the Castle grounds, click here for more info.

From the Edinburgh Castle website:
The Crown Jewels.
The crown jewels of Scotland are a breathtaking sight.
Known as The Honours of Scotland they are displayed in the Crown Room and are surrounded by a special exhibition.
The sceptre was presented to James IV by Pope Alexander VI in 1494 while the crown was first worn for the coronation of James V’s wife Mary of Guise in 1540.
They were first used together for the coronation of Mary Queen of Scots in 1543.
Their past has been turbulent. They were removed and hidden from 1651-60 to keep them from Cromwell’s Parliamentarian army.
In 1707 they were locked in a chest and sealed away after the Treaty of Union between England and Scotland.
In 1818 they were rediscovered by the novelist Sir Walter Scott, and with them a mysterious silver wand.
Sadly we didn't have enough time to see the Crown Jewels when we visited in September 2014 but we did enjoy the Regimental Museum of The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards. 

Cornet James Irving of the 1st Bengal Light Cavalry

Officer of The Black Watch Regiment

"The Thin Red Line"
Robert Gibb
depicts the 93rd Highlanders at the Battle of Balaclava, 1854.

At 1pm every day (except Sundays, Christmas Day and Good Friday) the One o'clock gun is fired and is a great draw for visitors to the Castle.
Dating back to 1861 it's original purpose was to allow ships sailing in the Firth of Forth
(just visible in the background of my photo) 
to set the Maritime clocks by which they navigated the worlds oceans.

More from the Edinburgh Castle website:
Standing on its great rock, Edinburgh castle dominates Scotland’s capital.
Great events have taken place within its wall and it has witnessed many sieges.
To control the castle was to hold the keys to the kingdom.
Iron Age warriors understood the rock’s military potential and built a hill fort here. Our oldest poetry tells of a war band which feasted here for a year before riding to death in battle.
During the Wars of Independence the castle changed hands many times. In 1314 it was retaken from the English in a daring night raid by Thomas Randolph, nephew of Robert the Bruce.
The castle was home to kings and queens. Queen Margaret (later St Margaret) died here in 1093, and Mary Queen of Scots, gave birth to James VI in the royal palace in 1566.
Her great-great-great grandson Charles Edward Stuart - Bonnie Prince Charlie - captured Edinburgh but couldn’t take the castle during the 1745-6 Jacobite rising.
In 1996, the Stone of Destiny, on which kings were enthroned for centuries, was returned to Scotland and is displayed in the Crown Room.
From the 1600s onwards the castle was a military base with a large garrison.
Later it also held prisoners of war.
Parts are still a military base, but the castle is now a world-famous visitor attraction and a key element of the Edinburgh World Heritage Site.  
When you stand on the battlements you are treated to a fantastic view
over the city across to the Firth of Forth in the distance.

There are visual aids here and there along the battlements
 indicating various parts of the city.

We're keen to go back and experience some more
of what the city has to offer, one day.
 Perhaps arranging our next visit to coincide
with the Edinburgh Film Festival or Edinburgh Fringe.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Five on Friday - feeling Pink.

Recently I've been getting FB requests to post a heart on my FB page
to support Breast Cancer awareness which I thought was strange
since October is Breast Cancer awareness month.

Still it doesn't hurt to spread the word about being vigilant about checking the ladies
so here's a reminder from me.

Eating cake always puts me in the pink so here are two for us to share.

Something else to put smiles on our faces.

 They may be expensive but well worth it for the cheeriness factor.
Joining two lovely hosts this week with my 5 pretty pinks
Amy @ Love Made My Home for Five on Friday
for Pink Saturday.