Sunday 26 March 2017

Mosaic Monday # 33 - what a sight to see!

One day last week, on our way home from walking Fleur in the woods at Cerisy, we stopped off at the Local Tourist Board office to look at the new displays and to pick up some brochures of nearby places of interest that we like to take our visitors to.

The Château de Balleroy has always been # 1 on our must see list, click here to visit their website in English.
It's been almost six years since we met English blogger Jackie there (you can read about her visit by clicking here) and I was interested to find out if there was anything new there to see.

Things you might like to know about the Château.
Built in 1631 for Jean de Choisy by architect Francois Mansard it is still owned by the family of the late Malcolm Forbes (US newspaper magnate) who bought the Château in 1970.
The French formal gardens were designed by Henri Duchene at the beginning of the 20th century.
Dotted around the English style park are benches and picnic tables for visitors to enjoy and some of the outbuildings now house a tea room, balloon museum and gift shop.
The Abbaye Cerisy La Foret dedicated to Saint Vigor, Bishop of Bayeux, was founded in 1032 by Duke Robert the Magnificent (you might have heard of his son William the Conqueror, 1066 and all that).
A jewel of Roman architecture the apse is on 3 levels with 15 windows and the abbey archives are housed on the Room of Justice.
Here's a link to their website (in French).
Both the Château de Balleroy and Cerisy Abbey will open their doors to the public on 1st April.

The Château de Colombières, a XIVth century Historic Monument, is what I call our "local" château as it only takes 5 minutes to drive there from home.
It may be local but it contains one thousand years of secrets, intrigue and passion inside it's fortified walls.
You can visit the Château's website  here then click on the tabs to learn about it's fascinating history.

The fourth and final brochure that I collected that day was for a sightseeing tour on board La Rosée du Soleil through the Parc des Marais du Contentin  (Park and Marshes of the Contentin Penisula). Our village in situated on the edge of the Marais and so this is a trip has been on my to do list for many years, perhaps 2017 will be the year it happens?

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?