May 19, 2016

A TALE OF TWO CAKE STANDS AND CATCH UP.

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So where did the month of April go?  Not to mention more than half of May?  With the spring equinox a distant memory and the summer solstice only a few weeks away the year is passing at an alarming rate.  We have been very busy, crossing the channel and back again, dealing with workmen (roofers), mending things (as always, we are tired of mending things now), reorganising the upstairs to accommodate new furniture and a guest, getting the garden in shape for the summer and, of course, living – the normal day to day stuff that you have to do regardless of whatever else is also going on as well.

More about all that later but just for now I couldn’t resist telling the tale of the two cake stands.

When we first looked at the little house at the foot of the château in Le Grand-Pressigny, the agent said that he thought the owner would want to leave all the contents.  We said that we sincerely hoped not as we wouldn’t want any of it – but I did rather like the cake stand that was on the table.

When we looked at the little house for the second time, just three days later, the agent offered me the cake stand.  I declined, as it wasn’t his to give away and taking it would have felt like stealing.  We made an offer on the house and the process of buying was put in motion.

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When we finally got the keys to the house it was completely empty,thankfully.  whilst some of the furniture and contents might have come in handy we would have had to spend a great deal of time getting rid of most of it, and we wouldn’t have known where to start.  Everything was gone, including light fittings, shower curtain, in fact everything that could be removed without trashing the house.  Including the cake stand.

We thought that the old lady had probably got a firm of house clearance people in to get it all out and it occurred to me that one day some of it might turn up at a local brocante or vide-grenier, possibly even the cake stand.

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May is the first big month for such events and there are several every weekend.  My brother had just arrived for his holiday with us on Saturday so on Sunday we set off to do a tour of some of the brocantes.  First call was to the one in Loches.

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It was a nice one, not too big but big enough to be worth going.  Plenty of quality items for sale at affordable prices, not just expensive dealer stuff or useless household junk.  With the sun shining and the bars and cafés open, we were having a nice time.

Then I saw it.  The cake stand.

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I recognised it immediately and swooped.  I was pretty sure it was the same one and when back home I looked through the old photo files that we took when house hunting to be sure I was right – and I was.  It had only taken me nine years to find it!

Of course it might not be precisely the one from our house, there must have been others around although I have never seen any.  Mind you, the day after my amazing find a friend showed me her cake plate – an identical top without a foot so a plate not a stand – and hers came from M&S many years ago!

April 9, 2016

A MYSTERY BOWL

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Now that Nick has found the alternative Live Writer – don’t ask me how he did it, I have no idea – I can forge ahead with a backlog of posts that were in the pipeline at the point where the old Live Writer would no longer publish to Blogger, or when I scurried back to the UK to look after my dad with only my tablet for company.

My dad is fine now, back up to where he was before he got shingles in January.  Well not entirely.  Let’s say there have been complications with a lasting effect that he is learning to live with.  But for 87 years old he’s in good shape.

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This post hasn’t been in the pipeline for all that long, but I’m keen to get it posted because it includes a mystery. 

We bought the three items on the table at a brocante a couple of weeks ago.  The metal wine carrier will be used to carry a bottle of wine and a bottle of water to our picnic shelter when we start using it again……we’re waiting for the better weather, which is late this year.  Much better than having them wobble about on a tray as we step up and down over the decking and the uneven grass.

The long bread basket thing is, we think, a proving basket used to leave the dough to rise during bread making.  I have no idea why it should be so long but it’s not so much useful as decorative.  It now resides on display in our humongous bread oven.

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The interesting piece is this metal bowl.  I looked at it on the stall and the lady said it was for serving dried fruits.  I can believe that, as it has sections just the right size for things like dried figs, prunes and other fruits. 

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The curious thing is that I have never, ever seen one before and it doesn’t really look very French to me.  It’s quite heavy.  It looks like it should be made of tin or a similar cheap metal, but it’s too heavy for that.  I’m not sure that it’s silver or a mixture of silver and something else.  There are no markings on it suggesting silver although it does look like it would benefit from periodic cleaning with Brasso or Silvo.  It does feel heavy enough to be made of brass but it’s the wrong colour.

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It has three nice legs which are firmly welded to the base, making it very sturdy and level.

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It’s about 20cm dia. and the markings remind me of a wall plate I used to have that came from Morocco.  I bought it for the princely sum of 3€ and it looked great with little Easter eggs in it on the table.  A bargain but also a mystery.

 

Any ideas? 

Bon weekend !!

Live Writer restored at last

I hope…..

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I have been struggling without Windows Live Writer since the beginning of the year.  The old Live Writer simply wouldn’t publish to Blogger so I was having to do a copy and paste job, which was long winded and fraught with all the whims of Blogger itself, which would randomly respace my pictures and so on.

Nick has found an alternative.  This is a test post to see if it works.  Fingers crossed……..

April 3, 2016

CAPTIONS INVITED

Daisy has recently discovered the joys of climbing on the furniture, beams and curtain poles in the living room. 
I wonder what she was thinking as Nick took this photo. Suggestions welcome!

April 1, 2016

JUST CHECKING IN


I spotted this picture in my Picasa album recently. It's a view of the river that has gone forever. The trees nearest the river have been chopped down and the bank itself reshaped.
I like the old view of the river and feel sad that I'll never see it like this again.

Anyway, I'm in the UK helping my dad to get back to normal but my laptop is in France, due to the limited amount of stuff I wanted to carry with me. The journey back to Derbyshire involved a two hour drive to the airport and a one and a half hour flight, followed by three different buses to get home. Even so, I got back five hours sooner than by driving all the way, but I'm not sure which mode of transport I prefer. They both have their merits and are equally stressful for different reasons. The thought of lugging an extra bag containing my laptop on all those buses was just too much so I left it chez nous.

The point is, having only my mini iPad to play with, new blog posts are a pain to write. What with the tiny screen, the frustrations of predictive text and the sheer awkwardness of fiddling with photos and the annoying way that Blogger won't let me space things how I like, new posts will have to wait for me and my laptop to be reunited.
I'll be back soon, I hope.

March 19, 2016

ON HOLD

It's barely a year since we installed the new kitchen and we already decided to replace the worktop on the island unit with what we should have had in the first place - an oak one that's in one piece.



The other worktops look like oak but in fact they're laminate. We chose them because we like the look of oak but thought laminate would be easier to look after. The side worktops worked out beautifully but the island one was a nightmare to fit. The strip of worktop that was supplied needed to be cut into two lengths of the right width. Then these lengths had to be joined together down the middle, the corners rounded off to match the shape of the cabinets underneath, and the edging strip fitted.

The struggle began when we asked the carpenter to cut the lengths of worktop for us. He made a great job of the side pieces, which fitted and joined together perfectly. When it came to the island piece he completely messed it up by cutting one of the lengths in the wrong place. This meant that we had two joins down the length of the worktop instead of one. I think the words he uttered in French would roughly translate in English as "oops"!

Making the two joins was a struggle. Without the help of our friend Tim B, we would not have managed it at all. Fitting the edging strip to make it look neat was another struggle. The result was ok but very much a "nobody will notice" effect that we were not thrilled about but were prepared to put up with.

Then, late last summer, on a hot and very humid evening, disaster struck. I had been very careful to wipe up any spillages on the island unit, and to clean it carefully, not leaving pools of liquid that might seep into the joins. On that evening, we had invited friends round for a bbq and they brought with them one if the truly delicious desserts from the boulangerie in the village. These arrive frozen and take about two hours to thaw for serving. The dessert was placed on a plate, under a mesh cover to keep insects (and Daisy) off it, on the worktop. As we partied outdoors, drops of condensation gathered on the plate due to the humidity in the air and slowly, relentlessly, dripped into the joins in the worktop, bubbling it in two places.

We anguished over how much this mattered. It looked horrible but could be ignored, especially if I left a large plate or chopping board over the damage to hide it from view. But, in the end, we couldn't live with a lovely new kitchen that was let down by what should have been the jewel in the crown, the island unit. So we bit the bullet, placed the order, attached the trailer to the car and set off back to the UK to fetch a new worktop.

Nick returned chez nous last weekend with the worktop, which just fitted in the floor of the trailer, along with a mountain of other stuff - stuff that has been kicking around since we downsized in the UK, waiting to be gradually transported to France.  He retrieved Daisy from the cattery and got on with fitting the replacement worktop with Alex's help. Looking at the photos, it looks beautiful, exactly right and exactly what we should have got in the first place.




I'm staying back in the UK for a while, to keep an eye on my dad who's been quite poorly. He's on the mend now. Nick sent me this photo to show how much they all miss me. I can't wait to get back.
The blog will be on hold for a little while.

March 5, 2016

A WINTER WALK

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It certainly has been a soggy late winter in our corner of France.  A week ago we donned our macs and boots and took Lulu for a nice long walk, one of our favourites.  From the track that runs high up behind the château ruins at Etableau we could see exactly how soggy everything was.

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Lulu was enjoying every minute.  Her walks for the last month have been not much fun for any of us.  She hates getting her feet wet and we hate dealing with muddy paws so the walks have often been rather short.  In fact we have taken it in turns to walk her by ourselves, thinking it was a chore that had to be done rather than the pleasure it should be.  No point in both of us getting wet if it was not much fun.

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All around there was the feeling that something was about to happen.  You could almost feel the trees wanting to get on with it, to get winter out of the way and get going into spring.  This is almost the worst time of year for me.  Thoroughly fed up with being cold and wet, with the dark nights, the mud and the decaying vegetation all around, by now I am desperate for some proper sunshine and warmth, to see the flowers and the leaves on the trees.  Enough is enough.

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We walked for well over an hour and for a time the sun came out.  What a difference it made.  The fields looked so bright and lush.  The sun on the trees made them glow and it even had a little warmth in it.  What torment – to feel just a little warmth to give us hope that spring is just around the corner than have it snatched away moments later as the sky clouded over and the trees took on their skeletal form again.

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We console ourselves with the thought that spring surely can’t be far off now and in the meantime we can go home to a nice log fire, a hot shower and a roof that doesn’t leak any more.  Well not much anyway, not as much as this time last year.

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Daisy was of course the sensible one.  Not for her this wistful rubbish.  If it’s cold and wet outside the best thing is to find a comfy place indoors to snooze until the sun comes out properly.  Then it will be time to go out.