Sunday 31 July 2016

Mosaic Monday # 1

Welcome one and all to my first Mosaic Monday Linky party!

Little did I know back in September 2009 when I joined MM's host Mary @ The little Red House, with a very basic mosaic of Quimper faience items, that almost 7 years later I would taking over the reins from Judith @ Lavender Cottage.

My very first mosaic, obviously I hadn't yet learned that less is more!

Mosaic Monday has always been one of my favourite places to stop in blogland and I'm so happy to be able to be it's new host.

My second mosaic featured scenes from my beloved Hilton Head Island.
Still too crowded!

The above mosaics were created using Picasa which offers 6 mosaic templates - Picture pile; Automatic fill; Frame; Grid; Contact sheet and Multiple exposure all of them are very easy to use, perfect for a beginner.

Mosaic #3 featured even more Quimper,
the more the merrier!

By week four I had begun to take inspiration from some of the other Mosaic Monday participants and created this one using photographs taken at a local Brocante fair.

I used four large photographs and played around with frames and borders
for week 4.
Since 2009 I've added Picasa and Picmonkey apps to my repertoire although I find that I play with use Picmonkey the most.
Be warned you can waste  spend a lot of time with the Picmonkey.

I used PhotoScape to create this simple collage

then played around with it using Picmonkey

How about you, dear reader, do you have a favourite app, tips or advice you'd care to share with me and any mosaic newbies who might be thinking of joining Mosaic Monday for the first time today?

Thursday 28 July 2016

Five On Friday - Chateau des Milandes.

Five On Friday hosted by Amy @ Love Made My Home has become one of my favourite places to spend time in blogland.
This week for my five a short story about Josephine Baker, a famous African American entertainer who burst into the limelight in Paris during the 1920's, plus photographs of one of the most interesting of the Perigord's 1001 Chateaux.

Chateau des Milandes.
The romantic Chateau des Milandes was built in 1489 by Francois de Caumont, Lord of Castelnaud,  for his wife who was discontented with life buried away in the feudal fortress of the town.
It was their home until 1535 and then inherited by Jacques Nompart de Caumont, the "Duc de la Force", a trusted and loyal servant of Henri IV.
After his death the chateau was abandoned and neglected until the French Revolution of 1789.

The chateau's fortunes improved when it was purchased by a wealthy industrialist in 1900.
Mr. Claverie, the new owner, added gothic influences such as highly carved balustrades, terraces and gargoyles to the chateau's façade. He also installed a water reservoir in the square tower.
His influence extended to the surrounding gardens and following a popular trend of the time he planted magnificent magnolia trees which still flourish to this day.

After his death in 1932 the chateau was sold to a local doctor.
During a visit to the Perigord in 1937 Josephine Baker discovered the chateau and became the tenant of what she called her "Sleeping Beauty Castle" before finally purchasing it ten years later.
Before our visit to the chateau I already knew some of JB's fascinating history from a biography written by Lynn Harvey, "Naked at the Feast"  has a semi permanent place in the pile of books on my bedside table and I dip into it often.

The Labarre family, present owners of the chateau, have accumulated an amazing amount of memorabilia covering Josephine Baker's career as a Music Hall entertainer.
There are many collections on display throughout the chateau, especially in the Music Room and Grand Salon. They include sheet music, hundreds of photographs, letters, theatre programs, costumes and movie posters spanning 50 years.
Of special interest was the exhibit devoted to a different side of her character - her involvement with the French Resistance during WWII when she was recruited to the Counter Intelligence Service.
In the 1950's, in an attempt to combat racism, Josephine and her then husband Jo Bouillon created a Global Village at Milandes.
Together they adopted 12 children from different ethic backgrounds, 10 boys and 2 girls.
She called them her "Rainbow Tribe".
The children all attended the local school as well as being privately tutored in their own language at Milandes.
A bedroom on an upper floor of the chateau has been restored to show how it may have looked when her first adopted son Akio, who was originally from Korea, slept there.

I've only exterior shots of the chateau for my five as sadly cameras are not allowed inside but if you'd like to see some of the exhibits I've described click on the links to the Chateau des Milandes website included within the post.

Thursday 21 July 2016

Five on Friday - five mosaics

Last Friday morning France was waking up to a day of mourning as the nation struggled to comprehend the devastation caused to the people of Nice as they watched the Bastille Day Fireworks at the culmination of France's National Day.
For Amy's Five On Friday gathering @ Love Made My Home this week I have created 5 mosaics to share.
In September 2014 my sister Kathryn and I enjoyed several days discovering Nice and the surrounding area with other members of the Quimper Collectors Club.
Our hotel the B4 Plaza on avenue Verdun has far reaching views across the Promenade des Anglais to the sea.
The view from the roof terrace on the evening of Bastille Day must have been horrific.
I refuse to let one madman's act of terror spoil my memories of our time spent in Nice, our first trip together as adult siblings.

Whilst in the Dordogne recently the Senior Partner and I visited Le Temple-sur-Lot, where in 1875 Monsieur Latour-Marliac established a water lily nursery.
(All water lily photographs courtesy of the SP.)

From the guide book -"He developed a sophisticated method  of creating colourful hardy water lily hybrids".

In 1889 he took his creations to the World's Fair in Paris where they caused a sensation.

Impressionist painter Claude Monet came across them in the gardens of the Trocadero and the rest (as they say) is history.................................................


On Monday 1st August I shall begin hosting Mosaic Monday here @ Normandy Life.
A weekly meme for bloggers who enjoy creating photo mosaics and collages Mosaic Monday has been very popular for many years and I'm so happy to be carrying the MM baton passed on from Judith @ Lavender Cottage and her predecessor, Mary @ The Little Red House
On my sidebar you'll find a Mosaic Monday info page and a MM button, I'd love it if you'd come and join in with us.

Mosaic Monday
August 1st 2016

Friday 15 July 2016

Mosaic Monday - a new button for Mosaic Monday

Good morning to all fans of Mosaic Monday and any other bloggers out there who would like to join in with our weekly meme when Mosaic Monday launches here @ Normandy Life on Monday 1st August.
A new button for your sidebar

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

more info coming soon!

Thursday 14 July 2016

There's no place like home - Five On Friday

As Mother Goose once said "home again, home again, jiggity jig".
We are home in Normandy again after 10 days of being tourists in the Dordogne, it's sooooo good to be back.
We did enjoy touring Chateaux Duras, Milandes and Bridoire and the markets of Eymet, Issigeac and Duras.
I'm planning on sharing them soon but for this week's Five On Friday, hosted by Amy @ Love Made My Home I've chosen five topics closer to my heart and my home.
Inspired by the many beautiful antique shops and interior decorating boutiques we came across last week I spent a few pleasant hours "shopping the home" and "fluffing my nest" rearranging things on window sills, tabletops and dressers.

a collection of French enamel jugs and a wicker picnic basket
a mix of pictures, china, pottery and a hurricane lamp standing on a vintage book


I ordered Mediterranean vegetable terrine as a starter at our hotel in Poitiers
and decided to make one myself on Wednesday.
Pretty good, if I do say so myself!
After 10 days of neglect the potager was looking very overgrown so the Senior Partner got to work with the strimmer yesterday, despite it being Bastille Day.

At midnight on the eve of Bastille Day we could hear fireworks going off in a nearby village, M'Selle Fleur is not a fan of loud noises and so came to sleep on the bedroom floor, next to my side of the bed, until they were over.
Not sure who was looking after who but I did enjoy her company.

Thursday 7 July 2016

Five on Friday ...walking in Eymet

I had planned to have a different blog post today about a visit we made earlier this week to the Chateau Milandes but to be honest it's been so nice to just kick back in the sunshine, read books, watch some tennis from Wimbledon (go Federer) mooch about the town stopping for a glass of wine or a quick espresso and generally being on holiday (!) that I didn't get it written yet.
Instead, for Amy's Five On Friday meme, come and take a little walk down Eymet's narrow streets with me and let's explore together.

almost every street has a small brocante
the owners tempt you to enter into the dark, cavernous interiors
by placing whimsical items on the pavement outside
designed to make you stop and linger
a quick trip to the weekly outdoor market for provisions
before heading back up to our top floor apartment
@ Maison 20
(red shutters!)
bunches of gorgeous flowers, on a corner of the market square, call out to passing shoppers
"stop and buy me, take me home with you"


this notice taped to the door of an antique shop on the square
shows just what the residents of Eymet think about Brexit.

and finally


I couldn't resist another shot of blue shutters - this time a whole house front covered in them.
10 windows, double front doors and a garage door!

For more of Eymet's Blue Shutters click here

Wednesday 6 July 2016

Blue shutters

As I walk around the beautiful medieval Bastide town of Eymet I'm entranced by the blue shutters adorning many of the ancient houses, I can't get enough of them!
It doesn't seem to matter whether the paint is old and shabby or new and pristine.
It seems that any shade will do as long as they're blue.
Here are just some of those that appealed to me, I wonder if you'll have a favourite?

once painted a very dark blue
these ancient shutters  now appear almost black

down a narrow side street this townhouse has shutters that are now
a whiter shade of pale rather than blue

above the Café de Paris
(a favourite watering hole of British residents of Eymet)

situated on the market square this three storey building
houses a chic ladies dress shop under the arches

a tiny cottage down yet another narrow street
with side by side shutters taking up almost the front of the home

this pretty building has been lovingly restored by it's English owners
and is now a B & B,
ready to check in yet?

the smallest cottage I've seen to far
just one window on both floors
I hope you've enjoyed wandering around town with me today, next time  - a visit to Chateau des Milandes, former home of legendary performer Josephine Baker, plus a boat trip down the Dordogne river.

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Lost in the Perigord.

Yesterday afternoon the Senior Partner and I arrived in the Bastide town of Eymet, in the Perigord region of the Dordogne.
As we drove along the dusty roads through small villages and towns I was reminded of a book that I reviewed on my "justbooks" blog back in 2012.
The book is titled "The Matchmaker of Perigord" and my review was written for the "food for thought" meme hosted by jain.
Sadly this meme no longer exists and my book blog has been neglected ever since but I thought this post might benefit from another airing so am reposting it here on Normandy Life as an intro piece to other posts that will be appearing this week during our time here in the Dordogne.
All the photos in the post were taken either in our home or in my potager,I hope you enjoy it!

The Matchmaker of Perigord"  my personal review.

"Amour-sur-Belle, a village situated in South-West France, so ugly that even the English refuse to live there."

When Guillaume Ladoucette, the only barber in Amour-sur-Belle, realises that his business is not doing as well as it used to, he puts it down to the march of time.
His clients are all either going bald or have, to quote Shakespeare's Hamlet, "shuffled off this mortal coil".
What he doesn't know is that quite a few of the men from the village have defected to a barber in a nearby town who knows all the latest styles, including one rather strange one “that looks suspiciously like a pine cone”.
When the matchmaker is left in charge of the village patisserie havoc ensues when he gives all the little cakes away
Although he himself has never married, his first and only love Emilie Fraisse was lost to him many years before, Guillaume Ladoucette decides to give up his barbering business and set himself up as Amour-sur-Belle’s first matchmaker.
The exploits of Guillaume and the men and women that he “matches” had me laughing out loud at times, I really enjoyed this book.
That may be because I'm an English woman, living in a not very pretty village, in rural France.
When "the man from the council" arrives to tell the villagers about the water restrictions that are about to come into force, I could picture the scene, and populate it with characters I have known!
Like many of us living in rural France Guillame Ladoucette grows vegetables in a potager.

My potager, my pride and joy

"A high priest of the cult of lunar gardening, he undertook no task in the potager, no matter how small, unless the moon was passing in front of the correct zodiacal constellation"

"the optimal time to concern oneself with leaf crops such as lettuce and spinach was when it was passing in front of Cancer, Pisces or Scorpio".

"He naturally endorsed the teaching that there were four days a month when only a fool would work in his potager"

The Matchmaker of Perigord is something of a gourmand, despite having a cassoulet simmering on top of his stove which his mother began over thirty-one years before.
“Love is like a good cassoulet, it needs time, and determination. Some bits are delicious, while others might be a bit rancid and make you wince”.

The Senior Partner and I are not lovers of cassoulet but I thought I’d prepare one for this review.
I consulted several recipes, all of which included tomatoes in the list of ingredients.
Whether or not to add this particular ingredient is the cause of much hilarity in the book, I was perplexed.
What should I do?
In the end I cheated.

I bought a large can of the famous "Cassoulet de Castelnaudary au canard" and added a small can of Italian (!) plum tomatoes.
The result was much better than either of us anticipated, in fact SP cleared his plate, quelle surprise!

"He rinsed the salad and tomatoes thoroughly. Arranging them in  a bowl, he placed it on a tray along with a fork, a small blue jug of dressing and a white napkin with his initials.
He then added a glass of disappointing Bergerac, which he had vowed never to buy again, but which he might as well finish. Next to it he placed a packet of his favourite Cabecou goat's cheese."
One foodie treat that we do enjoy, and have in common with the Matchmaker, is goat’s cheese.
Slices of warm goat’s cheese on a bed of mixed salad leaves, with a few toasted walnuts sprinkled over and a light mustardy vinaigrette, is something we often have for supper.

Add a glass or two of red wine, a thinly sliced baguette and we are content.
bon appétit.