Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Don't forget to look up..

Sometimes we tend to forget to look upwards instead of straight ahead all the time. I raise my gaze alot more since I have lived in France to see what architecture I can feast my eyes on. I just spotted this modern creation out of the corner of my eye in Nantes.
Loved the fact someone thought of doing it. Am surre it is not the only one in FranceQuirky hey?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

What a difference 3 days makes - an update...

Well, what a difference 3 intense days can make with my newly renamed...
Wow, she is amazing and I have learned so much.

Long days, one was 10 hrs, one forgets the time when on a mission and it does not get dark ‘til late. Lots of tea, lots of work and stiff to our bones each night hobbling out of the van and into a bath was the daily routine!!

She built some fab steps out of tree trunks, ( see pic, does not do the work justice really - trust me they are genius) never expected this wonderful creation would be formed. A shrubbery area was organised and planted, rockery formed, I was taught how to plant properly, a mountain ash tree was relocated, and loads more besides. My confidence is now increased and I feel more able to manage the space and my inspiration has returned.
She even brought across sunflowers and sweetpeas in her hand luggage and this luggage was all that she had and it was the smallest bag I have ever seen anyone travel with. How thoughtful. If only she was here all the time but she has her own garden to attend to back in the UK but she
will be back.
Next time I will sit her down with a cocktail overlooking the river as she so deserves some R and R time rather than working like a Trojan but she said, "Well you know me, I won’t be able to resist getting my fork out and digging,",,, oh well, I may just have to give in to that!! .
Thank you my friend you are a total Star! I owe you big time!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

'Gardening Angel'

I have been very lucky with advice and plant donations by some people I know here who are far more experienced in the Titchmarsh/Dimmock/ Percy Thrower world of Brittany flora and fauna. I have been taking the gardening books to bed though!
Monday looms and I am not wishing the days away but my Guardian Angel of which I believe there now must be one just for this moment, is sending me my own ‘ Gardening Angel’ straight from the skies, arriving at Rennes airport . A dear friend and a demon in her terrain who loves a project ( let’s face it she has got one with our place!) is coming to boost my limited gardening knowledge with hands on help. I will be so relieved to have her angel wings fluttering round the landscape. ( think it will more like a dog with a bone, won't let go until it is finished! I really cannot quite believe she will soon be here!


"Angel therapies are a type of New Age Therapy based on the overwhelming knowledge that communicating with angels is a major key to healing"

Well this Angel from the heavens of Guildford will be assisting me on my way to healing my frustrations and helping me make the ‘broken house’ (as a friends daughter calls it), start to get re-established outside regardless of what is going on inside. Watch this space for before and after shots, maybe just pre and post blistered hands but am sure I can post a pic of my freshly planted cider barrels if nothing else!!!!!!1

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Moulin de Sebrevet - local flour mill

We are so lucky to have a working flour mill 300 metres from our new place. It is run by the grandaughter of the lady who used to live in our house.
In fact hubby has headed south with 2 x 25 kilo bags of a mix of types of flour for some people we know that run a creperie in Beziers.
There is a wonderful choice of flour and it is well known in the area and stocked at the local supermarkets.
I took a bag to a friend who in turn gave it to La Table Bretonne owner who in turned used it at his restaurant and his diners were most impressed hence the delivery in larger quantities!

I am ashamed to say that I have yet to make a single thing from this local supplier. Totally unforgiveable but I have been busy working on making a kitchen so I can cook with the flour eventually! There is an old bread oven in the little house, (chaumiere) nicknamed the pizza oven. I close my eyes and can imagine that wonderful dough cooking and filling the walls with that always comforting aroma!

Here is some flour and bread info........

According to a joke, French law bans walking more than seven paces from a boulangerie without pinching and tasting a just-bought baguette. The joke states that the penalty for this offense is unknown, because it is a law no one has ever been able to break.

During the 19th century Brittany was producing 50 percent of the buckwheat flour but at the end of 19th Century potatoes and new types of cereals were grown instead. In the 80’s and 90’s Brittany had to import flour from Russia or China

French bread is required by law to avoid preservatives, ( get this wrong in translation and oops – preservatives means condoms in French!) and as a result bread goes stale in under 24 hours, thus baking baguettes is a daily routine.

French food 'police' also define that bread as a product should only contain only the following four ingredients: water, flour, yeast, and common salt. The addition of any other ingredient to the basic recipe requires the baker to use a different name for the final product. As a result, the traditional baguette is made from a very lean dough, made from bread flour, with an average protein content of 11.5 percent. I not so sure about that. I bought a baguette from the supermarket the other day and there were 7 ingredients in it. Perhaps those from a supermarket come under different regulations??

Buckwheat, originally brought to France from Asia during the Crusades, began to be cultivated in Brittany in the late XVth century. This type of grain came to be an essential crop The original galettes, made with buckwheat flour, were peasant food, the bread of the people. At this time, regular wheat flour, which did not grow well in Brittany’s soils, was expensive and hard to come by, thus reserved for the nobility! No change there then!

Flour comes in grades. The grades are based on the amount of flour which has been extracted from the grain of wheat. This ranges from 70% of the grain for white flour, type 45, up to 95% for wholegrain flour - type 150. The browner the flour, the more husk is in it, and more husk means more herbicides, insecticides etc are found in the flour, unless you choose organic. Type 45 flour is for pastries, 55 is used for white bread, and types 65, 80, 110 and 150 are for various kinds of brown bread. The higher the type, the browner the bread.

Enough facts for today but I will leave with you this...... the baguette is said to be originally from Austria,, tell that to the French - not!

Monday, 4 May 2009

Spring flora

It is so wonderful to watch the seasons come and go. The blooming of flowers always seems to inspire.

There are bluebells everywhere and this carpet of the delicate flowers greets me each time I enter the drive to my temporary accommodation and sends me on my way with a smile when on my way out.

Friday, 1 May 2009

How to repoint a stone wall- see instructions!

Voila! Yours truly – re-pointing one of the ground floor walls that will have the stairs going up beside it. It is the end wall of the big room where the dining area will be. It is important it gets done before other walls in the property are made pretty so the stairs can go in after the concrete floor is poured and, therefore, we have a very remote chance of moving into the place however basic and believe you me it will be basic!! Many love to put up plaster board walls for a number of reasons. It is a quicker end result, it is convenient for hiding pipe and cables behind, provides insulation. Personally I feel it is sacrilege to cover up these walls made years ago but they do take time and interior walls are better to do than exterior due to heating issues.

It is a slow process, especially for a perfectionist like me (a job worth doing and all that) but worth it in the end. I have never done it before but am enjoying seeing the fruits of my labour and learning something new. I have chosen a particular colour mix to compliment the original wall and am happy with my hunch on that score.

The list of jobs goes on and I hope to keep up my ‘terrier’ type drive to quote my husband whos’ stamina never ceases to amaze me. He is enviably fit ( fitter than me and he is 12 yrs older) and he is the crème de la crème of terriers himself! Woof !

How to repoint a wall the facts!..................
1 part enthusiasm, 2 parts listen to the boss, 3 parts ( very important this one) ensure plenty of tea and coffee is forthcoming, take time to stand back and look at your progress and pat yourself on the back.

Easy! You have a perfect mix for a renovated stone wall!!