Sunday, 26 February 2017

Being Crafty

All my life I have been crafty.

No - that doesn't mean I crept around pinching things without being found out - my kind of craftiness is what we used to call handicrafts. I like making things - creating something unique to me.

When I came to live in France, some ten years ago, I bemoaned the lack of local shops where I could buy the wherewithal to pursue my crafts and the complete absence of classes and night schools where I could take courses to learn new skills and improve the old ones, learn with other 'crafty' people and maybe make new friends with the same interests as me.

But now I find that English people have settled here and are opening businesses that DO cater to my needs.  Not everything that I would like (they all seem to be 'ladylike' skills of sewing, knitting, crochet and so on) but at least there is something and it is getting better all the time.

Recently I went on a course using my sewing machine to make a 'Bits Bag'.  This bag sits on the table next to your machine and provides a handy receptacle for all those bits of waste material and snippets of thread. A sort of sewing dustbin for the table - or Poubelle de Table as the French would call it.

The one I made looks like this...

I used it for the first time today, as I did some free motion machine embroidery - another course I went on last week with the same tutor.

The samples I made on the course were a flower and some leaves...

My machine embroidered flower

My machine embroidered leaves

They were very basic, but I really enjoyed doing them and today decided I would practise what I learnt by embellishing a picture I had printed out on a piece of material cut from an old French sheet.

I haven't finished it yet, but here are some pictures of the progress so far.

First I 'scribbled' in the little girl's hair...

Free motion embroidery practice

...then I tried my hand with some lupins...

Lupins

It takes quite a bit of time at the moment, but I am already getting faster!  It got dark and I couldn't continue (and I would like to get some more threads) so I will continue next week, and I'll let you see what progress I've made!

Thursday, 9 February 2017

You are Only as Old as You Feel...

...and today I feel about 105!

Normally I don't feel old, although I reached my three score years and ten last year.  But inside, I still felt as if I could tackle anything with the energy of a teenager (although maybe that is an erroneous analogy because today's teenagers seem to expend most of their energy pressing buttons on their smart phones).

Last week I was gravelling the terrace at the back of my house, which involved digging into a 4-ton pile of chippings and barrowing them round the back to dump on the prepared area.  It does look lovely now, although not completely finished, and the only ill effect I had seemed to be a mild ache in the muscles of my back. Not sure any teenager could have done better!

Terrace 1

And then yesterday I drove to a morning course in a town not far from here, where I learned to sew a 'Bits Bag' to hold the detritus of my sewing (it hangs from the table next to your sewing machine, and is at hand for all those snipped off threads and tiny bits of material). Not a physically-tiring exercise, but there was some maths in it...

Bits Bag 1

Today I had a few bits of food shopping to get in Bellac and thought I would go to a little charity shop there, which is sometimes worth a look, although I didn't really anticipate buying anything.  And here is where I left the teenager analogy way behind...

I parked the car and was crossing the road to the charity shop, when the ground rose up to meet me.  A curious occurrence, but it seems accurate.  I found myself flat on the floor with a very painful knee, a slightly twisted ankle and an ache in my chest. I had forgotton that the area the car was parked on had a kerbed edge where it met the road, and, as I encountered it, my foot was in entirely the wrong position, my ankle twisted to one side and I fell like a leaf in the winter wind. Not being quite as light as that leaf, I suffered more damage than a leaf would.  In fact I often pick up pretty fallen leaves and they seem completely devoid of any damage!

Fortunately the road is not a busy one, and it was the French two-hour lunchtime, so there was no traffic.

Apart from the pain, I felt extremely foolish as I scrambled up and limped back to the car to nurse my wounds. I was pretty sure nothing was broken, and I hadn't hit my head or anything, so I wasn't unduely worried - my main concern was that someone in the apartments opposite may have seen my fall and rushed out to help this 'old lady'. My pride would have been well and truly dented if they had.😧

Where I think my feelings at that moment differed from the theoretical teenager is that I was not able to just brush this incident off and carry on to the charity shop.  My body is obviously not teenaged. I felt physically sick and, apart from the pain in my grazed knee (how can you graze a knee and not damage your jeans?) I felt trembly and cold and I really just wanted to lie down and go to sleep somewhere soft and warm.  Is that shock? I guess so. But I had to get the shopping home (some of it was frozen) and that meant a 20Km drive.  I somehow doubt a teenager would have worried about the shopping!

But I did it.  I drove home after a short rest sitting in the car, unpacked the shopping and put it away.  Then I made myself a pot of tea and had some bread and local honey - for medicinal purposes!

So - in conclusion, I think that you are as old (or young) as you feel - until something makes you feel old!


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

A Charming Apartment in France



Nothing moves fast in this part of rural France.  Except perhaps a wild boar when the hounds are after it.  But there are no hounds after Wisteria Cottage, it seems...

And now I have listed another property on Greenacres - the shop I used to have in the mediaeval town of Le Dorat - which has since been converted into a charming little apartment.

It may not be much to look at on the outside...



...but on the inside it's fresh, beautiful and very French.

There are basically three rooms (if you don't count the cellar and the attic) one on each floor, excepting the shower room and toilet - which is en suite with the bedroom on the top floor, and the separate toilet on the ground floor.

Let me walk you through them...

You come in from the street, which is in the centre of the town.  From the front door, if you look left you are looking towards the Place Charles de Gaulle, which has cafĂ©s, restaurants, shops and the cinema...






video

...and if you look right you are looking along the road towards La Poste (the Post Office)...


...which is on the same side as the apartment.



But I promised you a walk-through of the rooms, so here it is.

On the Ground Floor is the Kitchen/Dining Room which is fitted with a run of bright and modern kitchen units including an electric oven with an electric hob for cooking and a modern stainless steel sink.



At the back of this room is a downstairs toilet, which is a boon in a house with three floors up to the bathroom!

The stairs up to the first floor are at the back of the kitchen/dining room and lead up to the Living Room.



Two large windows make this a lovely light room which feels spacious and relaxing with its pale walls and white beamed ceiling.

Stairs lead up to the bedroom on the second floor...



...and the en-suite shower room and toilet.



Loft and Cellar

The loft is a small roof space, but dry thanks to a new roof.  There is plenty of storage space up there and sufficient headroom to be able to stand up on the party wall side. There is an electric strip-light and two small windows which are not glazed, but allow air to circulate in the loft.  They are covered with fibreglass loft insulation on the inside, to prevent the cold and small birds coming in.
A ceiling hatch hides a drop-down loft ladder providing access.

The cellar also has an electric strip-light and a set of wooden stairs down.  It covers half the area of the room above, but still provides useful storage for items - such as your wine bottles! A trap door in the kitchen provides access to the cellar.

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Wisteria Cottage - For Sale...

So, I've finally taken the plunge and put the La Tache House on an Internet site.

I've chosen Green-Acres.com because they seem to be well-known and I've heard of people who have actually made a sale through them.

This is what the advert looks like:

Wisteria Cottage

...and this is the website address:

http://www.green-acres.com/en/properties/73464.htm

I hope it generates some interest and a sale!


Thursday, 15 September 2016

Hanging Around...

The bunting is (I DID promise you some pictures)and so am I, as my car has been off the road for three weeks now!

I have been stuck in the house with no transport for what seems like forever, but at least I was able to get on with the bunting.

I have made two lots so far.

The first was a pastel colour mixture...



...and the second a simple pink and white combination...



Each heart has a bead at the tip to help it hang well and they are stiffened with a watered-down PVA mixture to stop them from curling.

As you can see from the first picture, taken in my garden, the weather here has been extremely dry.  Until yesterday we had not had rain since the last week in June!  Then, on Monday night there was a violent storm with high winds, followed by a day of rain - though fairly light.

In other areas the storm caused a lot of damage and one of the casualties here is my Internet connection.  At least, I think that is what's wrong. Now I can only access a handful of sites - those that load quickly - and with many others I just wait and wait and then get a message that the site 'Timed Out'.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed at some point and, when I get the car back, I'll at least be able to get Wi-Fi in a cafĂ©...

Incidentally, if you normally click on my pictures to enlarge them, you may not be able to for this post as I couldn't link them to Flickr as normal, because of that slow Internet :-(

Meanwhile I am on my third set of heart bunting in a mixture of 'sea and sand' colours...




Sunday, 4 September 2016

I Heart Bunting

Golly - almost 2 months have gone by since I last blogged here!  I have posted on my other blog, Chez Penny, in between, as I have done a lot of renovation work there. Which is why I haven't had much time to post here, or do any craft work lately.

After the renovations on the Chez Penny apartment were finished, I did 10 days house-sitting for a friend, looking after her dog, cats, fish in the pond, and watering the garden.  That was a new experience for me, and was good.  I had the chance to do lots of crafting, although it was mainly crocheting.

I made several doileys from this pattern, and added beads to some of them so they could be used as jug covers.

doileys

I must explain that the weather here in France has been extremely hot, for several weeks, and the fly population seems to be loving it and increasing exponentially.

When I got a bit tired of the doileys I made some lavender hearts from Lucy(of Attic24) 's pattern...

lavender hearts

Though I used my own flower pattern and added a bead on some, to help them hang better. I thought these would be good hung on a clothes hanger under blouses etc in my wardrobe.

I'm currently working on some heart bunting, using the same pattern - each heart with a bead for weight, and I will also stiffen them with watered-down PVA adhesive once they are all strung together.


Saturday, 9 July 2016

Annie Sloan Workshop

Well, today dawned cold and misty but the sun soon burned off that mist and it turned into a real scorcher! Fortunately, I was indoors most of the time, doing a workshop with Jay at Mon Chic Cottage.  It was all about Annie Sloan products and was a fascinating day.

This is what I made, learning lots of techniques...

Workshop result

We learnt how to découpage a paper napkin and paint a stencil...

stencil, découpage and craquelure

...how to transfer images in a couple of different ways...

image transfer and craquelure

...and how to apply metal leaf - the loose leaf sort and a transfer one which was attached to paper on one side, making it MUCH easier to handle...

Metal leaf

Then we learned to wax with both clear and dark wax and finish off with a craquelure glaze for an 'aged' look...

Craquelure finish

Now I just have to find the time to practise the techniques...