30th June – Summer has arrived

It is officially hot – which as far as I’m concerned is lovely, it is also not too humid so I’m quite happy at the moment. We have had blue skies now for over a week and it does make one feel so much better.

As I mentioned two weeks ago, I was painting my full length mirror – which previously belonged to my nana – here is the final product. I’m very happy with how it looks and I think my jarrah jewellery box (a gift from my sister many years ago) really looks good and stands out sitting on the base. So on to the next project – not sure what yet, but there will be something.

I also mentioned two weeks ago that my courgette and squash plants were doing well. And I’ve picked two squash so far and I’ve got courgettes on the way. So they are doing well. My tomatoes this year are not doing quite so well. I think next year I will buy plants rather than growing these from seed. At the moment I am having to water everything in the garden due to the lack of rain. But that isn’t a problem.

We have also finally bought an umbrella for our patio area, as in the morning and at lunch we haven’t really been able to sit outside due to the sun. It has been lovely to sit out for most of the day for our meals and look down our garden. Still a lot of work to happen with the garden but hopefully by the end of this year it will be at a stage that will mean a lot less work in the coming years.

Yesterday Pat and I went off for a day trip to Aubusson with his French group. It is an interesting mix of Brits, Dutch and an American. We were going to the new Tapestry museum. Pat and I had been to the old tapestry museum years ago on one of our holiday’s, and surprisingly really enjoyed it, which is why we were happy to go back to see the new one. It was well worth the trip, we had a guided tour which explained the history of tapestry in the area and was great. We will return. Afterwards we went to have lunch – we originally had had a choice on the courses but as our numbers grew it became a set meal. Which was ok – I enjoyed the main course, but I didn’t eat the starter of pork terrine (I tried it) and the dessert was a local speciality which was with lentils in a sweet chestnut syrup and served with a type of yogurt/cream. While it tasted lovely, because of my stomach I just can’t eat many lentils and after having garlic in my main I did have to skip the dessert.

After desert we headed off to a local chateau which also has some very old tapestries and discovered when we arrived that we had been due an hour earlier. Now since the French teacher organised this and she is French (though in her 80’s), we are not quite sure what happened but we joined the tour – we had only missed a small amount, it was interesting but the guide was speaking in French, very, very quickly, our wonderful bus driver spoke to the guide and asked him to slow down as a lot of us were English speakers. Thankfully not long after that we had the English language information sheets (and dutch language information sheets) in our hands. What I found interesting was how much I could follow of the French, partly because I had the context of what was being talked about, partly because I had the information in front of me in English, but mostly because of what I had learnt in the morning at the museum. I did enjoy the tour.

Tomorrow we’re off to a picnic which should be fun. This again is with one of the groups we belong to and we do know a good number of people that are going so this should be a fun day. Pat will tell you all about it in his blog next week.

So for now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

Time flies

Summer seems to have really kicked in now, though it’s breezy today, long hot days with the occasional hail and thunderstorm to punish us. Things start happening, village fêtes and other things to do. The morning dog walk is a touchstone for passing time too. It was only a couple of month ago that the fields were short pasture that Siena would race across chasing the crows and occasional bird of prey that she never caught (thankfully). The morning walk has two particular fields that are evolving. From pasture to ploughed – tough going for Siena and only worth a romp when its something even more interesting like deer (again no chance of her catching any). Seedlings sprouting then slowly growing until almost too long to race through – the fine art of porpoising is hard work. It was at this stage that, looking out for Siena I saw a hare bounding through the wheat – I realised it wasn’t Siena at about the same time as it realised I wasn’t a tree and veered off at right angles.

I had been watching the pasture in the large field opposite our house grow into hay to suddenly be cut and baled leaving hay bales scattered over a newly shorn field that Siena could race across with glee. I decided it needed some photos, so last evening in the golden hour at sunset (about 9pm to 10pm) I was out with Siena and Delia. Siena couldn’t believe her luck and raced around like a lunatic until Delia decided to take her back since I was occupied with tripod and camera. Just as dusk started to fall I went across to the lake near us and disturbed a deer who dashed off just feet away.

Chalus, some of you may know, isn’t the tourist destination it could be. Yes there is the tower from which Richard the Lionheart was shot but which is seldom open to the public. There is a bare 17th century church. There are the ruins of the 12th century chateau but little is made of them. There is little else of interest apart from a rusting (intentionally I think) large copper sculpture of a chestnut and a fading high street bypassed by the main road racing past toward the Dordogne. However, recently there has been a lot of work renovating the central square by the Hotel du Centre. Scarcely a centre before, no seems to be showing promise, with more area for pedestrians and two new artisan/artist workshops. A porcelain worker showing his beautifully decorated Limoges porcelain and a wood worker with his varied sculptures and also welcoming guest crafts in his window. So whilst the well-thought-of butchers has closed and with him much visiting custom for the (again appreciated) Le Sax’o bar who is selling up – changes are afoot and the centre of Chalus may well be worth more than just a fleeting visit for fresh croissants.

This old thing – 17th June 2018

No the title is not referring to myself or Pat :-). It is in reference to my full length mirror (see picture) this piece of furniture was my nana’s (on my mother’s side).

yes there is a drawer
I’ve now had it for over 20 years and it has travelled with me around the world, but I’ve finally decided that it really did need a re-paint; partly because the paint on it was chipped and scratched but also because the yellowish colour doesn’t match my other bedroom furniture. I spent yesterday sanding it down and much to my surprise discovered that there used to be other parts to this item. My mum had mentioned that she felt it was part of a bigger piece of furniture, and I think she might be right. I’ve found marks on the uprights that hold the mirror which suggest that it may have had 2 side attachments – my guess would be mirrors. I’ve also discovered the trim on the base is a different wood so assuming that was added at a later stage. So to any of my mother’s family out there; do any of you remember this item before it was modified? I doubt anyone would have photos. I unfortunately only remember this item from the Mt Hawthorn house I don’t remember it from the Darlington one (who’s got the lollie jar?) – an aside for my non-Australian readers – lollies are a catch-all term for boiled sweets/candy/bon bon’s. Anyway if anyone remembers it, I would be grateful to know more about it – one thing it definitely was a brown colour at one stage of its life.

As you know I tried a new art class last week. While I enjoyed painting in Acrylics again, I didn’t like the teacher so have decided not to continue with the classes. Which is a shame but as I’ve been striving to get more art into my week else where it may not be necessary to do the classes.

I’ve also been working in the garden, and will be doing more today (after a first coat of paint for the mirror). However both Pat and I are discovering the issues of working in the garden, I have a very itchy bite on my neck from something unknown and Pat has a tick bite – something we are keeping an eye on.

I am pleased to say that my courgette plants and squash plants are doing well – they now all have flowers on them and with hot weather forecast this week it should be good. I will also be able to move a couple of my tomato plants out of the green house this week as the weather will help. I’m still working on the patio area of the garden, but it is slowly looking better as weeds are removed and things tidied up.

So for now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia

A social whirl

It certainly looks like ‘the season’ has started. It’s a social whirl this month, already there’s been a quiz (with a meal) and my Franco Britannique Rencontre group had another meal (in the same restaurant) this week. The former is an exclusively British group with everything in English (although our French teacher did join us). The latter is a nicely mixed group and we all speak (or try to) French together. This works out well because the 5 or so French natives are trying to learn English and together we can usually communicate pretty well. That was how the meal went too, even Delia managed well with French speaking. There is another quiz in a week or so as well as an outing by my French language group. This is a group which has various levels of French abilities and are separated into 5 classes on different days. Once a year they try to organise a day trip, last year failed to materialise but this year we are going to the new Tapestry exhibition in Aubusson, then a meal, then a chateau. We had thought that Aubusson would be a nice place to go with Delia’s mum and aunt when they visit this August.

Strictly the first meal was last month, it being on 31st may but 4 meals out in the space of 30 days is more than we can afford to keep doing.

When Delia’s aunt moved back to Aus, she gave use her teak garden bench. It moved with us through various houses and finally to France. It became very “weathered” and broke in a few places on the seat and on the arm. It had been teak oiled but Yorkshire winters and English rain did it in. For the past year it had sat in the garden more or less as a “feature” that had to be moved during lawn-mowing but otherwise was not much use. So I have now totally replaced the horizontal “seat” part with new lengths of wood. Also repaired the broken side piece with metal plates. So far its only primed but it still looks good.

I know this looks pretty finished but it is only primed. My next blog I’ll hopefully have a shot of the finished article.

Delia next week and don’t forget Delia’s Fit and Fab blog.

A bottle brush in France – 2nd June 2018

We’ve had a busy week. After my journey on Monday(see http://delia-fitandfab.patbell.co.uk/ ), I was back to work on Tuesday and in the evening we headed off for a quiz. We did know it was a music quiz so we didn’t hold out much chance of winning and that was a good thing. We failed miserably but didn’t come in last – we did try hard but another team tried harder (and they had 4 team members to our 3)! The rest of the week was a normal week – I had my French class on Friday and was introduced to a new game – mille bornes – a classic French game which is easy to follow. Planning to find one to buy and those of you who visit will get to join us in a game. Friday afternoon was art class where I’ve started a new picture. Below is my previous painting – I do want to tweak it a little, but I’m very happy with it.

Flowers and the sea

Today was spent mostly in the garden. After buying my jasmine and bottle brush last week I did think it might be time to get them out and into the garden. The jasmine is in a big blue pot on the patio in front of the fence which I hope it will climb up and add to the lovely scent we can have in that part of the garden – along with the lavender and honeysuckle it should be wonderful as the evenings warm up. The bottle brush is still in its pot as I decided that weeding was a better use of my time this afternoon.

I will admit there is a part of the garden that I’ve just let run riot this year – and the poppies are loving it. I have my wonderful pink poppy back in amongst the red poppies and the weeds. My pink rose bush also loves the weather – So far I’ve had 2 vases full of roses and the bush is just dripping with more.

Next Saturday I’m planning on trying a new art class – one where I can go back and do different types of art – so oils, acrylics, pastels drawing – whatever I like. I’ve already decided I’m going to do a painting in acrylics because it has been awhile. We shall see how it goes.

So for now, à bientôt, from our wonderful part of France – Delia