Showing posts with label French. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French. Show all posts

02 February 2017

Feeling like a Dreamer.

Although we've been officially retired for a good many years,
this year is the start of a new way of life.
No more guests to look after,
 it's just me & Mr France.
Free to do what we want, when we want.
Some people think we are mad to close the door on our home for the last 26 years
put our belongings into storage and jump in the car to start something new.
Others, especially our close family say ' good for you, go off and enjoy yourselves.'

This is the region we are staying in for three months and have started to look for our new home.

This region is classed as the 2nd warmest region in France, having a micro climate.
Also we would have the benefit of the coast, which we love.
So we have the best of both, countryside and the coast.
The biggest problem is where to choose.
 We are looking to have a ' coup de foudre'   
- to find a house we fall in love with.

In the meantime we have rented a small cottage, which is perfect.
 If you'd like to see inside, join me for a tour of our tastefully furnished cosy cottage.

A very good wood burner, which  has been doing its job of keeping the cottage nice & warm.

It's tucked away from the owners house with its own sheltered private walled garden.
We have been here now for three weeks & beginning to find our way around the area.
The first two weeks Mr France was recuperating from a lung infection, so he spent
most of his time relaxing & looking through the window at this perfect view.

It's been a blessing knowing we didn't have anything to do.

A nice slow pace of life, taking leisurely breakfasts,
discussing what we are going to do each day.

and what we would like our new house to look like.
We would like it to be a lot like this.

I must say it seems very strange not having things to do .
 after years of always looking after our paying guests,
We need to take our time and make the right choice.

Our hosts are an English couple with a family, who have lived in this area
for several years, which means they are able to give us lots of helpful information.

In the meantime we are enjoying seeing what the region has to offer. 
We've looked at several properties this week, but haven't 
seen anything I could put my mark on and feel 
this is where we could spend the rest of our years.

In the meantime we will keep on looking and enjoy the beauty this area has to offer.
I'll be back soon to show you some of the places we have seen. 
I have taken photos of the houses we have seen, if you'd like to see 
some typical Charentais houses, let me know and I can show you 
the good, the bad & some way out of our budget.
But what would life be without having a dream.
So until next time I'll leave you, 
feeling like a dreamer.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

11 July 2015

Market day

I haven't been to Piegut- Pluvier market for a long time.
It's rated as being the best market in our area and stall holders come
 from far and wide, it's always very busy especially during the summer season;
so we like to arrive early. It's about a 25 min. drive from where we live.

 Most times I go to the market with our visitors or a friend.
It's not very often Mr France comes with me, but as we were up early
 he came with me. Here he is with my straw market basket.

We started off buying lots of fruit.
The Apricots were almost as big as the peaches.

I needed to stock up on fresh garlic so searched out my favourite stall.
It's always much cheaper to buy them loose.
I only buy the platted strung garlic as gifts.
Next I wanted summer fresh vegetables.
I'll be making summer salads with the Haricot vert beans.

This is how I make a quick simple bean salad.
Top & tail the beans. bring a large pan of salted water to the boil
cook the beans just enough to still have a crunch, about 7 to 10 mins.
drain in a colander, then plunge them straight away into iced water,
this will keep them green.
Put the beans into a serving dish, and drizzle some good quality olive oil over them,
  add some thinly sliced spring onions, toss tog. season with ground black pepper.
If you make a large amount, they will keep for a few days stored
in a sealed plastic container, in the fridge.

I noticed a lot of the stalls I used to visit were not there anymore,
so I decided to look around to find a new source for good fresh veg.
I saw a queue, at a  stall I'd never seen before, this is always a good sign.
 It was all Bio vegetables, which is usually more expensive, but their prices 
were very competitive. I had a peep first and all their produce looked top quality 
so I tagged on at the end of the queue. I noticed most of the people had
crumpled brown paper bags in their hands, which I assumed were from
their last visit and they must be regular customers. 
So not only were the producers Eco friendly all their regular clients were too.
So I'll certainly be buying my vegetables from there again.

 I bought a kilo of plum tomatoes with the intention of slow roasting them,
but I made a tomato salad drizzled with olive oil & sprinkled 
with fresh basil with a crunchy baguette for lunch,
I wish I'd bought more. I'll have to buy more next week .

My last purchase were olives to have with our evening aperitif.

So many types so I left that purchase for Mr France to choose.

He chose Greek and Moroccan, black olives

 There were lots of wine stalls, we only looked this time.
maybe next week we'll try wine from another region.

 Vin Rosé seemed to be the most popular.

I was pleased with the fresh fruit & vegetables I bought.
 Here's my straw market basket full of all things fresh.

I hope you enjoyed joining me along with Mr France at our favourite market.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

15 June 2015

La Petite Maison

It's been awhile since my last post.
Summer is always a busy time for us.
Our summer letting started earlier this year, so as soon as we returned
home from our visit to Denmark, we were preparing

Our first visitors were on their honey moon, a couple from Belgium.
So I wanted to make it special for them.
  Our pink climbing rose is in full bloom

Naturally I picked some rose buds

and put them in a small glass vase, to pretty up the bedroom.

 and rose petals to sprinkle on the bed was a must.

Also a few extra little touches here & there.
in my style of country chic decorating to welcome them.

A little teddy resting on a selection of vintage French books.

A straw sun hat waiting to be used

A bouquet of pink roses.

I'm trying my best to catch up on all your posts, although
 I haven't had time to leave a comment, I've been reading them,

Even after a rushed quick visit of a few days to see family in the UK
everywhere in the garden is looking good.
So I'll be sharing the progress with you soon.

Hope you are all enjoying summertime in your garden.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian

11 September 2014

Around the world blog hop.

Last week I received an email from Daphne  inviting me to join the 'Around the world blog hop' 

Me ! who never links up with other bloggers, mainly because I don't know how !

I needed to think about it. It wasn't easy for me to say yes. This is going to be a big challenge, as me
and links are strangers, so please forgive me if the links don't work... here goes....

I met  Daphne in 2012 not long after we both started our blogs and that was through   I've been tagged  even then Daphne guided me through the technical bits, but I still didn't get the hang of links.
Daphnes blog has grown so much since then. She shares her delightful detailed recipes, and tells such humorous tales of her everyday happenings. I feel I know her although we've never met.
In April 2014 Daphnes blog   was featured in  'Woman's Weekly' an English magazine , I mentioned that I would love to see it, but wasn't able to get it here in France, so she sent me a copy, how thoughtful is that. She has continually  kept in contact with me through out my back problem, and I  still receive emails from her asking how I am.
I'm sure if you haven't already come across her lively blog you will be drawn in by her charm. She writes as if she is talking to you.
For those who already follow my blog, you will know that I'm not someone who posts on a regular
day, or has a certain theme for my posts. I just have to be in the right mood.

Now I'm meant to write something about me,
but if you take a look at my post I've been tagged
  you'll find out a lot about me.

I thought it was about time I introduced you to my husband who is usually in the background
and referred to as Mr France. This year in August we celebrated our 52yrs. wedding anniversary.

This year due to my back problem we haven't been out and about very much, but
  now I'm feeling much better, and last week my niece came to visit us and we
went to one of my favourite places Brantome in the Dordogne.
 Now I need to answer some questions.


Now this is easy for me to answer, as I don't have a writing process...
I just write what ever comes into my head, or make a post about something I might recently have seen or done. I never plan ahead, or have a special time or day to write my post.
I try to have my camera with me or in the glove compartment in the car.
That way, if I see something that might make an interesting post, I can take photos to work around.
However that doesn't always happen, my camera has often been left on the table in the kitchen.
 I could never class myself as a writer. When I was at school, in one end of year report my English teacher wrote 'Barbara seems to have a gift for writing, if only she would concentrate in class'
I still seem to lack concentration even now.


I wrote about this in April 2012 in my first post.
Welcome to the 1st page of my new blog

I used to walk a lot, but that went on hold for a while.
But I'm back to walking along the lanes
near my house.

Picking wild flowers on a walk.

I find writing about the things I see and sharing the photos I take in my blog
 a good way to have a record of the area and see it in a different way.
Since I've started to paint much more frequently than I used to
I now have the courage to show my paintings,
which otherwise would only ever be seen by me & Mr France.
I know I'll never be a writer or an artist.
but blogging has given me the confidence to be much more adventurous.


I think we all have our own way of writing for our blogs.
Some write very little and show lots of photos.
I don't have a particular style, so maybe that's what makes my work different.
I think it's for the reader to be the judge of that question.

As I have said before, although I live in France,  Paris is not my favourite place,
I know lots of people have Paris on their wish list to visit and that's fine by me , but you won't find me writing about it. However I do love reading blogs about Paris.


I'm working on a painting at the moment.
 Not just any painting, this is to be a gift for some friends.
It's the first time I've ever painted something for someone.
It's been very challenging, at one point I was ready to give up, and go out and buy a present.
But Mr France has encouraged me all the way through.
I always feel they are not good enough, but it's just come back from being framed
and I feel very pleased with myself.
I'm not able to show you yet, in case they read this post.

Now it's time to introduce you to three very talented ladies who I have invited to take part in the 'Around the world blog hop.'
They will be showing their post next Monday the 15th September
so don't forget to pop over and see what they write about.

First is Debbie from Ohio.

I have been following Debbie
enjoying her lovely paintings here for quite a long time.

We both love spending our time outdoors pottering about in our gardens.
She is a fantastic Watercolour Artist, and shows some beautiful  sketches
 she  paints in her journal, in such a lovely delicate style of painting.
If like me you enjoy gardening and /or watercolour painting
you will really enjoy reading and seeing her blog.

Next is  Sharon Chapman from  Washington.

                                      Wildflowerhouse By Sharon Chapman
Sharon paints wonderful cards which she sells through her 'Wildflowerhouse Shoppe' 
She also shares her beautiful journals which she makes herself,
 full of such a varied array of subjects she sketches and paints.
Quite recently she became the proud owner of two adorable puppies, Max & Cooper.
She has shown a few lovely short video clips of the progress
they have made  since they first arrived at her home a few months ago.
Sharons love for the flowers she has in her beautiful garden
 can be seen here through her cards & journals.
My 3rd invitee is Shane who lives in New Zealand.
I met Shane early this year when we both joined Grow your blog party. 
and she was the winner of  my Give away gift.
Since then she has continued to correspond with me by email.
I'm sure you will really enjoy seeing her lovely blog & sharing her posts.
Shane is a self confessed Francophile and loves France, especially when she can get  to see her grandchildren, who live in France. I've yet to find out if its anywhere near where I live. She collects pretty china, loves embroidery & old lace and makes beautiful collage cards from antique lace and vintage photo cards. Shane shares the same interests in flowers and gardening as my  two other guests. Shane shows fantastic photos of flowers which she has taken herself.

So Thank you to Daphne for inviting me.
and also
and Shane
for being my guests.
I hope I've done my linking correctly ( you've no idea how long it took me ) !!!
if I got it right it's thanks to  Daphne for giving me the link to Karen  showing me what to do.
I'm a late developer and just like Daphne I need to see how to do things
especially in the world of internet jargon.

I do hope you enjoyed your 'Around the world blog hop'
from my little corner of France.
à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

01 September 2014

Summers still here in France.

Although our summer has not been glorious sunshine everyday
and I was not able to give our garden the care it needed
we still have some plants giving us lots of colour.
These  Echinacea  have flowered all summer
 and it looks like they will for a lot longer.
 They will definitely have to be moved to the new flower bed,
as they have taken over this small area smothering the smaller plants
which are now hidden underneath, fighting for a bit of light.

I bet you're wondering why I'm showing these Lobelia growing in the gravel ?
Every year I used to sow Trailing Lobelia seeds in trays,
they would germinate,  start to grow, then shrivel up !
Now I go to the nearest garden centre and buy them fully grown in small pots.
Then every year half way through the summer they pop up in the gravel,
from seeds which must have fallen from the previous year.
I pull them out and put them into my hanging baskets.
They must like the cold moist gravel during the winter.
So much for my tender loving care I give to the seeds I sow.

Iceland Poppy
Last year I acquired two Iceland poppy plants.
They were on the shelf in a little shop and looked like they were almost dead.
 As I had bought a few other plants, I thought I'd ask if I could have the two for the price of one.
It must have been my lucky day, he put them in a bag
and said it was a petite cadeaux / a little gift.

They flowered for quite sometime, then completely disappeared.
Then this summer after thinking they had died
they must have been slowly growing without me knowing what they were,
and now summer is almost over they've decided to flower.
I need to mark there place so that I'll remember for next year.

This is another annual plant that I found growing in the gravel from a fallen seed,
 I pulled it up and popped it into this blue glazed pot so that I can move it about  
and now it adds some bright colour to an other wise dull spot.

Blue Campanula - carpatica
I did plant some white ones, but they don't seem to have survived the wet winter.

 I rescued this on one of my walks from a compost heap.
Perhaps someone had been thinning out their flower bed. I took them home,
not sure what they were until they flowered, then I knew... Osteospernum
I've put them in pots until I'm able to get the proposed flower bed dug out.
 They have flowered on & on all summer.
Being white I need to be put them somewhere that needs lightening up.

Such a pretty flower.
Hibiscus - Adonicus pink.
I've kept this in it's original pot and it's been flowering profusely   
since my stay in hospital. It was a gift from a friend.

It still has lots of buds.

This Fuchsia has such a beautiful flower. Unfortunately I don't know the name.
 I managed to over winter it from a hanging basket I'd bought last year.
It's struggled a bit, but it's now showing some lovely blooms.
 now that summer is nearly over. 
I see from several of my blogger friends gardens that Autumn is certainly here.
I hope some of you can manage to hold on to summer a bit longer, If not,
maybe you have some plants in pots that are still flowering that you can bring indoors.
What ever your weather enjoy your garden.
I know my posts have been few and far between these past few months,
but I'm almost back to my old self.
I have greatly appreciated all the kind get well wishes from so many of you.
I'll be back soon, as  I have something I want to share with you.
à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

18 June 2014

Looking back.

It's now early June and I'm resting after my surgery
I've only planted up a few hanging baskets and
I've just had a phone call from 'Le Mairie' ( our local town hall)
It was strange to hear an English voice and also one I recognised,
 informing me that she was now the person in charge of the 'floral committee'
and would I be entering the floral competition as usual this year,
as I had not sent in my application form.
How things have changed since I first arrived to live in my tiny village
 take a look here
During the time  I've lived in France I've always had pots of flowers
on the window sills and by the front door, even when we were renovating our house.
 I felt a little sad having to say NO I would not be entering this year.
If you'd like to look back with me at one of my previous posts  
here  are some of the flowers which have won me prizes.

Little by little I'm getting better.
I'm still having to rest a lot and not allowed to go out in the car yet.
Fortunately we have glorious sunshine so I've been sitting on our terrace
I've done a little sketching, but really not 100% back into it.
Hopefully I'll get my enthusiasm back soon.

 I hope you'll enjoy seeing some of my older posts.
when the pots & baskets where at their best.

Since I've been absent,  I've gained some new followers
I hope you will come back even though my posting will be sporadic
for a little while.
Also thank you so much to those of you who have sent me get well wishes.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

24 April 2014

Having fun with watercolour / aquarelle painting .

Before I went into hospital, I knew there would be times 
when I would be twiddling my thumbs,
so got myself some new sketching books,
and a few brightly coloured Faber Castell Pitt artist pens.
Then selected  a few of my Micron pigma pens 
 along with my Daler - Rowney Artists pencils.
I thought I'd try something new and what fun I had.
My friends have just come back from a trip to India
and brought me a lovely gift, a sketch book of handmade paper.
It has lots of raised little bits of wood and was certainly a challenge.
This is the lovely book.
It folds together with both curved edges just touching
 fastened with hand rolled silky cord and lovely buttons.
I love the way the paper easily tears from the binding.
 I'm sure I'll be finding lots of new ideas to use this paper .
On the way to the hospital we drove down an avenue of trees
 full of beautiful pink blossom. I knew I would love to paint this.
I didn't have my camera as I had other things on my mind !
But I didn't need it, it was imprinted in my mind,
just the thing for the hand made paper.
I wasn't sure how to tackle this quite flimsy paper,
so I tore a page out and jumped in with both feet.  
I kept it loose with not too much water
and was greatly surprised at my first attempt.
Here it is finished which later I carefully  stuck in my sketch book.

Recently I signed up to follow Polka dot April challenge 

This was my funky effort.
 I had great fun doing it.
But I haven't had the courage to send it !
One of the many blogs I follow is
Sharon Chapman at Wildflowerhouse
She has just become the proud owner of two of the most gorgeous
 fluffy cream coloured pups you could ever see.
   Pop over and have a look.
Her posts are varied and she paints lovely flower sketches.
 Recently she showed
Which really inspired me to try something completely different.
 I'm always doodling when I talk on the phone.
so thought this would be fun and it was.
At first I didn't know where to start
and then all of a sudden I found I'd run out of paper.
I'll certainly do some more.

Also I've been wanting to start a sketchbook journal for ages
and  read that lots of  people  who keep journals
 always recommend to buy one of good quality.
Naturally  : Moleskine 
so I treated myself to a 21x13 cm. Carnet aquarelle .
Which are not available locally where I live in France.
What would we do without Amazon. 
Also  Stillman and Birn Beta series seemed to be popular.
I thought that while I was dropping things into my Amazon basket
I'd get one of each.
This is the front page in the Stillman and Birn journal.
I'll show you some of the inside pages later.

I think I'll be using the Moleskine more for landscapes.
Hope you like the very varied sketches I achieved
in between my treatment while I was in hospital.
Now I'm back home still unable to do any gardening.
So I'm painting like mad.
I've also done some  Annie Sloan Chalk painting.
That's for later too.
So for now I'll say
à bientôt
Barbara Lilian