29 November 2012

Advent wreath.

The 1st of December is the beginning of  advent leading up to Christmas. This is a centuries old religious tradition, which originally started in Germany and over the centuries as with most things has greatly changed through the different religions.
The wreath was originally made from pine sprigs on which were placed three purple candles and the fourth and final one was white which symbolised Christ.
The first candle is lit on the 1st Sunday of December and each following Sunday another candle is lit, finally the last candle is lit on Christmas eve.

Now in modern times it has become a Christmas decoration of  personal taste, style and choice. but I love the idea of still keeping a tradition, even though the religious part seems to have been forgotten.

Here are a few ideas which I like and  have taken from my favourite magazine.

Have a peep, it might give you an idea and inspiration to make your own.

Something simple and rustic.

Made with pine cones and winter nuts glued to a raffia base.

This one has the candles placed on a plate
with pine cones sprinkled with glitter & scattered around 
and a few specially chosen decorations tucked in between the cones.

Shabby chic.

 A little bit of purple crept in.

( I'm still not sure about purple for Christmas !)

 This one is has a romantic feel to it.

Hope you liked the ones I have chosen and it has inspired you to make your own.

If it hadn't been raining today I would have been out foraging in the woods for all the bits of greenery needed to make my advent wreath, Oh well I still have tomorrow, at least  I've got my candles.

So fingers crossed it's not raining and come back tomorrow 
to see how my advent wreath looks.

A bientot.

Barbara Lilian

21 November 2012

Thinking about Christmas decorations.

At the moment I'm still at the thinking stage, nothing done yet. For me it's too soon.
It started  off yesterday morning after a visit to our new out of town shopping area, which opened last year and is called   Family Village - Limoges  I find it quite strange to have an English title in rural France.
All the shops were full of beautiful Christmas decorations, with areas set out in different coloured themes.
I thought back to 23 yrs ago to our first Christmas here in France. The house was still in it's very early stage of renovation and our only thoughts were of buying building materials and making bedrooms up in the grenier. When we first arrived we stored most of our furniture in the large barn, plus everything that was not immediately needed, only unpacking the essentials and everything else stayed packed in boxes. So even the thought of looking for the box labelled Christmas decorations was not on my priority list of things to do.
Then our daughter returned back home after a not so successful trip around Germany and plans to spend the winter in the ski resorts. This was like a gift from heaven to have her back home with the family and for me to share some  feminine things in life, away from sand and cement, especially for the Christmas holiday.
The week before the fete my daughter and I went with our two Labrador dogs  for a walk into our woods searching for all the seasonal greenery associated with this festive period. Our first find was a small spruce pine tree just the thing for our tree to decorate and  we were able to dig it  up and take it home. For me it was like something  out of a children's story book. being able to find all we needed to make our Christmas, all there on our own land. Then we found the Mistletoe high up at the top of an old Cherry tree. This was like the icing on the cake to end our forage in our woods. We arrived back to the house with arms full of greenery ready to make a building site look like a home ready for the Christmas celebrations.

Our son & daughter, so young.

The wood burner had just been installed, not completely finished
 but just the place to hang our Christmas stockings.

This was our Labrador Della's favourite place.
She was also decorated with a bit of red Christmas ribbon.

Looking back at our first Christmas in France.

Now I  need to think about decorations for this Christmas. 
Do I stay with my usual theme, of red, white and gold, or do I change.?
This is one of  my styles and sometimes I do  a country style,
 that's when I put every decoration I possess on the tree.

This was Christmas 2006 
when we were fortunate to have all the family together.

I've just been looking at my favourite Danish magazine Isabellas

There seems to be a lot of purple for Christmas his year.

I love these cones made out of corrugated cardboard and trimmed with fancy ribbon.
These would be nice as a table decoration with a little gift tucked inside for each person.
Or with a ribbon attached so that it could  hang from somewhere.

I think this weekend I'll have to get my box of decorations out and think about the colour theme.

 I'm beginning to like the purple, and Carol from Parisbreakfasts told me that purple is 
THE colour in Paris at the moment, & if you read her blog you will know !
 although she didn't mention it being used for Christmas decorations !! 

What about you, do you have a favourite colour theme or do you  like to change?
I'd love to hear about your preferences.

A bientot.

Barbara Lilian

12 November 2012

I've been tagged.

Now this is a very new experience for me.  So please excuse me if I stumble and make a few mistakes.

I have received an invitation from Daphne at ivyphyllisandme.blogspot.co.uk     telling me I've been tagged and would I like to join in and have a bit of fun, I thought why not, I have nothing to loose and perhaps you will get to know me a little better.

I would never  have thought that 8 months after I started my blog I'd have been tagged by any one.
If I remember without looking back my words on my very first post were 'I don't know if anyone will ever read this blog, but I'm writing this for ME and if no one ever reads it, at least it will be something my grand children can read and find out things they never knew about their 'Nana', or words similar to that.

As with most things there are a few rules.
Every tagged person will be asked to tell 11 things about themselves.
The person who tagged you will ask 11 questions which you answer.
Then you ask 11 questions to the 11 blogs you are going to tag. You should choose to tag those with less than 200 followers.
Mention the blog which tagged you but do not tag back.

11 Things about ME.

  1. Home to me is where I'm living at that time.
  2. I love to have the house full of family and friends.
  3. I'm good at making a house into a home as soon as I move in.
  4. I can make a meal out of whats in the fridge & feed any amount of unexpected visitors.
  5. I'm not a materialistic person.
  6. I am always going on a diet.
  7. I don't need to have somewhere to go to put on my favourite outfit.I wear it anytime. 
  8. I love my garden.
  9. What ever I am drinking I like it to be in the correct glass or cup.
  10. I'm small in stature, but true to my birth sign I can be feisty  so my other half says. 
  11. I love surprises.

These are the answers to the 11 things I was asked.

Who is your favourite author?

I don't one favourite. but for humerous light reading I like Miriam Keyes.
Because she can always make me laugh.

What is your favourite food?

I have lots, but I prefer FISH to MEAT.

Are you an outdoor or indoor person ?

Out door any day.

Which do you prefer, sunshine or snow ?

I'm definitely a sunshine girl.

What do you dislike?

Bad manners.

What is your favourite colour ?

I like red to brighten up my black outfits.

Do you enjoy comedy or drama ?

Comedy programmes, especially the old ones.

If you could choose anyone past or present to dine with 
who would you choose ?

Ooh! that's a hard one !! I'll choose George Clooney, then I would be able to find out if he's as interesting as he's good looking

If you had to live on a desert island for a year
what would you take ?

If I had an IPad I'd take that,
but I haven't  so it would be my camera, to capture  everything I saw.

What is the name of your pet ?

I don't have one now, but  my favourite was Suzie my black Labrador,
who was always by my side.

What was the name of your first teacher ?

Miss Biddolf. I remember  her so well, she had hairs on her chin
and  I told my mother she had a beard.

These are my 11 questions to the ones  I've tagged.

  1. What do you prefer to wear, skirts or trousers ?
  2. Who is your favourite male singer ?
  3. Which do you prefer cats or dogs ?
  4. What is your favourite flower ?
  5. Which season do you prefer, winter or summer ?
  6. If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be ?
  7. Which chocolate do you prefer, dark or milk flavour ?
  8. For a holiday which do you prefer town or country ?
  9. Which wine is your favourite red or white ?
  10. What is your favourite sport ?
  11. Are you a night or day person ?

I have tagged these blogs. I hope you will join in the fun.

I'll catch up with you later.


11 November 2012

A Time to Remember..

If you are a follower of me, you will know that I don't usually write another post so soon.

However this morning during a lovely drive through our country lanes we approached one of the nearby  villages and saw a large gathering of people, well large for the size of this tiny village. There was old and young,  all congregated together in front of the small Cafe/Bar which is opposite the church, where they had probably just been for a service and now were ready to celebrate together with an aperitif  at the bar.
We stopped the car and I took these few photos. Later after I'd returned home it made me sit back and think, how lucky I am. I'm the youngest in my family and when my Mother used to tell me about my childhood  she often referred to me as being a war baby, as I was born in 1940. When she talked  about the war, it didn't seem very important to me then. But thinking about it now, life must have been really hard. 
I'd like you to remember with me, all those brave men and women, young and old who gave their lives to defend their countries for us and our families.

The small village at the cross roads.

M. Le Maire  and the local people of this tiny village in France.

Chrysanthemum flowers outside of the church
which are known so well in France
in remembrance of the dead.

Who ever and  where ever you are, we all need to remember,
all those brave men and women who gave up their lives for us.

It's not very often I get sentimental, but seeing this ceremony in this tiny village which I pass through so often,  made me realise the importance of the future for our children and their children.

It made me think,
 How about you ?

 A bientot 

Barbara Lilian

Ma Maison Fleurie.

Do you remember when I told you about the very first time I met the floral judging committee which to me seemed to made up from anyone who liked flowers regardless of their knowledge. That was 20yrs ago. It has come a long way since then for rural France.
The competition judging is done at the beginning of July. That period this year was not very good weather wise, We'd had a lot of rain & not very much sun, so the flowers well behind in blooming due to lack of sun. So consequently all the hanging baskets & troughs were at there best when the jury had been & gone.

At the beginning of last week I received my invitation from M. Le Mayor to attend the diploma presentation  which was to be held in 'La Salle de Fete' in my commune.  This year chairs were set out in rows & a screen was in place up on the stage with a projector for a photo slide show of all the entrants gardens or fronts of houses. I thought wow! our little commune has certainly come into the 20th c. what progress since 20yr. ago. The Mayor welcomed everybody & explained about the slide show. Then he started to give out the diplomas for the different categories & clicked onto the laptop to show the photo of the winners garden or house. Somewhere along the way the photos seemed to be out of synchronisation with the receiver of the diploma, as the little old who was sitting next to me said 'Why is M. Charbonnier collecting a diploma that's not his house it's mine' after 23 yrs. my understanding & communicating has greatly improved, although I still make the odd 'faux pas'  Apparently right from the beginning of the presentation the photos were not the house of the diploma receiver, but nobody had said anything. Oh well ! maybe next year they will get it right, nobody seemed to mind, all the entrants seemed to enjoy looking at every one else's gardens or window boxes and every entrant was given a diploma even if it was just for making the effort of planting a few flowering plants and each one of  went away with a Camellia shrub to help them add a little more colour to their garden. 
Then the aperitifs were served, which always goes down well, delicious canapes made by the local boulanger and a glass of wine, followed by plenty of refills. Everyone then mingled and chatted about their gardening success 's or the failures due the bad weather early in the year, hopefully going away with encouragement  for 2013.
My categorie is for Terraces & balconies & this year I received a 'Diplome d'Honneur avec mention special.

I was well satisfied with my award, but it was not as rewarding for me as the one I received 2yrs ago. That year I won the 1st prize for the whole of the department, not just the commune. But who ever it was who won it this year, I'm sure they will feel as proud as I did and who ever you are I say congratulations.

My Diplome d'Honneur

The balcony with hanging baskets and troughs.


Close up of the Surfinias in the trough.

One of the many window boxes.

A half wall basket.

Hanging basket in front of the holiday cottage.

More Surfinias.

On the steps leading to the pool.

A metal ware container from Denmark.
This is a glimpse of some of the flowers that helped me win my Diplome d'Honneur.
Hope you enjoyed sharing my flowers.
A bientot 
Barbara Lilian.

17 October 2012

Look what I saw sitting on my door mat.

As I've previously mentioned I live in rural France and the land around our house has an abundance of deer and wild boar so  I'm able to see all sorts of wild life, when I'm out walking in the Forrest's.
But take a peep at these photos taken at this time last year from inside my house, looking through a small window.

I couldn't move or make a noise as I knew it would run away.

 It lay down on the doormat & stayed here for about half an hour.
If you're like me I can hear you saying aaahhh!!!

We were told that the mother must have deserted it, as young deer are not usually on their own. I hope it's mother hadn't been shot by 'Le Chasseur' like in the film 'Bambi'. I often wonder if it managed to find it's mother or it managed to survive on it's own.

Hope you enjoyed sharing a bit of my country life.

A bientot.

Barbara Lilian

14 October 2012

Chateaux on my doorstep.

Are you in love with France and  Chateaux ?
If so, spend a little of your time with me and share some of the Chateaux I could pass by just popping to the Boulangerie to buy a baguette, or our Sunday morning croissants. and one on the way to my hairderssers.
Our lovely visitors have just left after their 17th year of staying in our holiday home. While we talking about where they had been on their many outings around our picturesque countryside, it made me think how much I take for granted the beauty of where we live and it's all on our door step. Which ever direction I take, I could pass a chateaux. My nearest neighbours are the owners of Chateaux de Brie
All of the Chateaux are on the route of King Richard the Lion Heart. King Richard spent many years in France where he was shot by an arrow and as a result from this injury he died in 1199  at  Chateaux de Chalus - Chabrol X1c - XV11c

This is approaching my neighbours at Chateau de Brie from our house.

Just a little inside info..
When we bought our first house in France and where with the Notaire signing the documents, we were informed that the owners of the Chateau kept their horses on some of the land that came with the property we were buying and he asked us 'did we mind' !  Only ever having lived in houses with what we thought had a large garden, we had no idea of how much land he was talking about. We were taken by the Immobilier to see the land which had been mentioned, he then  pointed to the right & the left and said 'as far as you can see in both directions is yours'. Well ! looking at the amount of land which was about to become ours and not having horses we were very pleased that the Chateau owners would be putting their horses on our land.

This is a photo of Chateau de Brie taken by my husband during a flying trip he went on.


I love this picture of Chateau de Montbrun
taken on a frosty morning during a really cold winter.

Chateau de Montbrun is lived in and privately owned.

Approaching  Chateau de Jumilhac.
Such a lovely view we sat here to eat our pic-nic. This is a small but very picturesque town where most of the old houses bordering the chateau have been tastefully renovated.
 Imagine this view from your kitchen window !!!

Chateau de Jumilhac 

 This is my favourite Chateau,  because it has so many towers.

 Chateau de Nexon and Parc. 
This chateaux is set in 40 hectares of landscaped park, which was created in the late 19th c.
Since the municipality acquired the sight, it became the Mairie (town hall ) 
which is now open to the public free of charge all year round.


I thought you might like this sign. Those who are travellers in France will be familiar to seeing these yellow signs used in France. This one directs you to use a quieter and more touristic route to Paris.
As I'm not a city girl and fortunately neither is my other half,  we usualy take these routes.
 We find we see so much more.

Chateau de Rochechouart X111c Renaissance style.
Now has a contemporary art museum on the top floor.


We are now at the end of the Chateau tour at Chateau de Chalus. which is now an historic monument situated at the cross roads of the 'Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostelle'
The historical route of the Plantagenet's.
It was here Richard Coeur de Lion ended his life.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of some of the Chateaux near where I live.

Enjoy your week-end.

A bientot.

Barbara Lilian