barns

Laundry day..

Whether we love it or hate it, it needs to be done. Laundry. Washing. Some of us are lucky enough to just fill the laundry basket and someone else does the washing. And the ironing. Some of us do it all ourselves. I am one of those. Partly by choice and partly by force.

Laundry isn’t one of my favorite chores..but isn’t that why they are called chores? Anyway, a chore needs doing and in our house, it comes down to me. Whenever I think back on the washing days in my Maman’s house, I remember them as fun days.  But I have come far enough in life to know that memories are tainted. Maybe Maman also did the washing simply because she had no choice either. There is little bit of a romance to doing washing in summer. Who doesn’t reach for the camera when driving through the country side and seeing washing on long lines drying in the breeze. Or laundry hanging over fences. Or even on chairs or poles. Where there is a ray of sunlight, there you’ll find washing.

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*Join me now for a  typical summer’s washing day here at Coin Perdu.

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I love the smell of fresh, natural non perfumed soaps. The Marseilles soaps are wonderful, as is the “Pierre des Landes”, an artisanal soap which works for just about everything. To soak my mother’s old doilies and all white cloths which has stains, I grate some savon de Marseille into a bowl of water, leave the pieces to soak and rise. Or I spread thickly soaped pieces out in the sun to remove the stains. It is the perfect way to remove stains without using any chemical stuff, since the sun is a natural whitener. when it has dried, I rinse the pieces in clean water and spread out to dry.

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Beware..not just any soap marked Savon de Marseille is the real thing! Le véritable Savon de Marseille needs to consist of a  minimum of  72% pure olive oil and 28% sodium carbonate.  Many other savons de marseille also have other oils as well as some animal fats added.

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We all know that feeling of getting into bed at night, sliding your body inbetween crisp linen sheets, smelling of sun and  wild herbs. Exactly the reason why I don’t iron my sheets in summer. I might iron the foldback at the top which has a monogram or lace. And the way to do it? Turn the sheet wrong side up and place a double folded towel under the monogram. Place a damp cotton fabric on the top of the monogram and iron so that the right side of the monogram sinks into the towel, seeing to a nice embossed monogram. It also prevents the iron from damaging the yarn/thread in the long run. Fold your linens ans store in a cupboard or shelf along with some cedar balls and some dried lavender if you wish. I also place pieces of soap in the corners of all our closets/armoires/ cupboards…you know, those last pieces of the soap we don’t use. I don’t like perfumed sachets.

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I don’t have a laundry room..yet…and it will be quite a while before I do have ma petite buanderie. In the image below is the barn which will be converted into a laundry room. I am already dreaming of that day…a huge farm table on which I can do my folding… a deep porcelain sink for washing and rinsing and soaking… an old armoire(cupboard) for equipment and products…a window to let in light and a large sill to set out crumbs for the birds and always have an enamel jug with flowers…drying lines across the ceiling, working with pulleys, like the olden days(for winter time), large old baskets, enamel bowls and jugs for soaking, poaring…some old bric and brac for ambiance, just because it is pretty…oh..to dream…

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Well..come to think of it…it might be that I actually enjoy doing washing. In summer. For I am doing it exactly the way Maman did! My washing needs to be neatly hung. All the socks together, pinned on the toe. The T-shirts hangs over the line at the chest and are pinned under the sleeves..no stretching from hanging from the pins. The shirts opened up and pinned at the side seams at the bottom. Dresses are hung on hangers, lingerie are pinned on the top at the sideseams. Everything has to be grouped together and hung straight..I hate loops and droops. Dish towels and pillow cases..straight, no drooping! That is how my Maman did it.

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Whenever I have a stain on a sheet or tablecloth,  I rub the stain with savon de Marseille(or whichever natural soap you use) and hang it over two lines so the sun gets to bleach out the stain..see no need for stain removers! It works, really  it does. Of course, if you use coloured linens and clothing, you have to fall back on the stain remover, for the sun will bleach spots on your fabric. Dark fabrics are hung in the shade to prevent fading. They don’t need sun, only a bit of heat..and fresh air!

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In winter, when I don’t have the beautiful blue skies as in the image below, I have my linens washed and ironed at the blanchisserie, where they are washed and ironed on large rollers.. some day I hope to visit our blanchisserie with my camera and do a post on how they treat the old linens..it is so interesting. After all, they have been doing it for centuries; taking care of the different textile; linen, or cotton or mixtures, hemp, flax.. They also take good care of the monograms and lace and hand embroideries that go along with antique linens and tablecloths, serviettes. But that is all for next winter..I am now basking in summer linens!

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Now tell me you don’t have the desire to go hang out some washing?

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à bientôt

Ronelle


A spring poulain!

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Spring is supposed to have arrived, but on some days? I wonder if I made a mistake with the seasons..maybe we are moving into winter? Noo..n..it is spring, surely. In spite of icy weather, we have lilacs blooming profusely, wisterias drooping low with heavy blooms, tulips swaying their hips and young ones grazing in the fields..like our adorable poulette who arrived this weekend.

On Friday night we saw that Gubi was getting restless, walking up and down, snorting, and we knew the hour would not be far. At 3:00 on Saturday morning it started. She lay herself down in the écurie and those first two feet appeared. It was cold out, raining, wet and we piled on the hay so Gubi’s new poulain could enter the world soft and warm.

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After an hour of hard work, the process was over and Gubi could take a break, while the poulain found its strength, its breath and while we could also take a breather!

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Of course the first thing we searched for…a girl or a boy..and yippeeee..a little poulette…a little girl! We called her Duméla, which is “hello” in Sotho, one of south Africa’s 11 official languages.

As tired as she was, on shaky legs, Gubi raised and took on her role as mother. From that moment on, we hear the sound we haven’t heard before..a gentle, soft  throat whinny, which is of course her mothering voice.

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Duméla just went from strength to strength and she is already taking a run on those cute long legs.

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Mon chéri is of course blooming too! He is surrounded by girls here on Coin Perdu, but does he complain..non..how can he, when he he has only excitement and challenges and happiness around him!

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Duméla is today 2 days and a few hours old and cute as a button!

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Sleeping, brushing against Maman and drinking that delicious milk freely, is her biggest happiness at the moment. And what can I say, watching them happy and healthy, is our biggest happiness!

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à bientôt!

Ronelle


A sunny 15 January

Smack in the middle of January, gorgeous sunshine exploded on us and being here at Coin Perdu, in the barn, for the winter, it was a gift from heaven. We were outside all day whole day, even though the low temperatures of -3 degr. C( about 26.6 degr F).

By the afternoon, we were still out, and doing all the things (almost) we(and all our animals)would do on a normal summers day..

..wheeling around the bed..

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…rolling in the fields…

…lighting a barbie fire at 16h30…

…while sipping a red wine and munching on a sauccisson

…and the chickens were following the sun…

…a smoke trail is a good sign…

… silhouetted against a perfect day at 18h30…


Missing the country

With winter at its worst in January and February, I find myself thinking of and longing for Coin Perdu more often than is good for me. Winters in Touraine are very grey, dark and sombre. On the odd weekend,  when  taking the drive to Coin Perdu to check that everything is still in order, we arrive at Puy d’Arnac in bright sunlight. Cold, but bright. Misty in the early morning,turing brighter during the day.  Maybe it won’t be too many years, or perhaps even months more before I can wake up on  cold January mornings with sun streaking over my bedroom floor at Coin Perdu.

I love Montlouis and our house  here by the Loire. I love our beautiful town of Tours, a mini Paris with it’s incredible architecture. I love the Loire with its wild unpredictability.

…la loire et ses oiseaux..

But the depth of my love lies at Coin Perdu, where the sunsets and clear stars  keep me outdoors early until late… Where I love the roaming cattle with their undisturbed manner, the bells clinging even somewhere at night. Where I love the buses roaming the skies, where I love listening to the the complaints of the owls in the dark of night, crying their dissatisfaction with us taking their barn…I’ve said all these things before. I will say it many more times. They are important things in my life;  the simplicity and honesty of the country side, where life isn’t always easy, but where the  comfort lies in knowing and acknowledging it. There aren’t short cuts in honesty, no shifting of boundaries. There is no playing around with honesty. Taking on a day can’t be played around with…animals can’t wait for their food, hay will be wet tomorrow if not cut today, the birth of a new calf cares not for convenience,  rain boots wait by the door for a good reason…nature dictates and man dances. It gives life its equilibrium. Keeps man humble, with his ear to the ground, his instinct awake. It keeps him alive. It gives him life.

So,  while I am waiting for March and spring to break through so we can pack and take off to Coin Perdu for the spring and summer months to resume working and restoring our mountain home, I have last year’s photos and many memories to keep me going these next two months.

But still, I can’t wait to…

…start working…

…fiddle in our barn kitchen…


…delighting in simple, delicious food…


…go for long walks…

…revel in rediscovering nature and animal life…


…paint, paint and paint…


…enjoying evening barbeques…


…enjoying breath taking sunsets…



A home in the barn.

We’ve been staying in our barn for the past five months.

After starting out with the bare essentials and wearing thick skiwear at night to keep warm in front of the wood burning stove, drinking cups of steaming chocolat chaud and cosying up around campfires, we can now say…it is fun! We have a proper home now in our barn with everything we need, NO television, which we don’t miss. We have running water, warm showers, old ladders for our towels, a coffee corner, a fully equipped kitchen where we prepare fresh and simple meals, couches for lounging, lamps for ambiance, books for drowsing,  comfy sleeping nooks, privacy by means of romantic linen drops tied with antique lace…hunted down at local brocantes. We need nothing more…except maybe exquisite sunsets.

…welcome in our barn…

the living room

When renovating, restoring a house, the concept of  “home” changes, even whenstill staying in your home while it is being renovated. It becomes a construction site; the ladders and scaffoldings take the place of comfy couches.  The dusty smells of sand and cement take the place of potpourri. The crunching of debris underneath boots make you long for the soft touch of carpet and barefoot. The days are long and hard, dinners become quick and simple, sleep welcome and deep, mornings early and refreshed…or is early and aching?

The upside of renovating is the anticipation. Much like waiting for that last schoolday before summer, last week before Christmas, the night before your birthday … The road to getting  your home back is a daring crusade.  It is the anticipation that  keeps us going, working through the frustrations, stepping over the irritations, redoing the miscalculations, band-aiding the wounds, kneading the aching muscles. So we need that little corner to unwind at the end of the day. That little restplace where you put side the images of ladders and cement mixers and wallow in soft comfort. That place where you keep the anticipation alive with dreams in warm beds.

…a clear view through our barn…

front door

…full of nothingness…

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…a first bite and a first night in a barn home…

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ayiani investigatinga frist nights sleep

…always place for some romance…

my place is on the bed

When Hartman suggested living in the barn while working on the house, my apprehension knew no boundaries. At the time I was snuggly cuddled up in front of the fireplace in our comfortable and lovely home in Touraine, listening to music, sipping a glass of red wine, reading “Dark Star safari by Paul Theroux, while  the rain and cold and wind were safely locked outside.

Hearing things like: ” cleaning out the all the hay and tools and owls from the barn…dusting… repairing floorboards… moving in some sort of bed… firing up the wooden stove for a hot meal, fixing the doors, find a solution for bathroom facilities…” well, it simply made my hair stand on end and I felt the cold of wind from outside creeping indoors. I took a big sip of red wine, nesteled my derriére deeper into the cushions and faked enthusiastic listening, all the while lifting my one eyebrow higher and higher.

But here I am. Here we are. The days are long and hard. We’re living in the barn. Cleaned out the hay, fired up the wooden stove. We shower in a tin tub found in the barn. I use the pedometer to measure the distance to the longdrop at the far end of the garden. We eat colourful and healthy dinners by candlelight, while sipping on full bodied red wines.

My husband knows me far too well…once I grab onto an idea, which may sometimes take some time…it’s sailing off into the sunset. I finally got carried away with our camping in the barn and it was like being a little girl again in my growing up years, building and constructing interesting tee pees and tree houses and tenthouses, furnishing them with what I could find around the neighbourhood, always filling up a flass with flowers for my “centre table”. Nothing had changed, except that myconstruction is now a barn and my glass is filled with flowers from our own land.

…something of everything…

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…relax and offload…

cushions and curtainsview on the shower corner

…brushing teeth and then off to bed…

the teeth-brush-cornera lamp and a window in the bedroom

…old wine barrel rim, a tin tub, a new shower curtain, chains and bit of elbow grease and voilà…a perfect shower…

time to get cleana perfect shower

…kitchen corner…

a barn kitchen

…washing up, hanging tools on an old chicken coop door, and of course a coffee corner with it s cups and plates and nick-nacks…

rinsing and hangingwashing the dishestime for coffeeplates and bowls

…let’s see what’s in the pantry…

preparation corner

le petit coin

done!

reworked, revamped, a new sanitary systems, modern comfort in an old setting…

Modernizing the longdropLongdrop at coin Perdu

…switch off the light and don’t forget to wash hands…

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Brushes – Macromonday

I started cleaning our barn this morning and stopped with a brush in my hand, thinking it could make for quite a nice photo…the brush I mean, not me…

I use a lot of different brushes when cleaning and I love natural bristles. They don’t scratch and at the end of their days, they make me feel good – seeing how derelict they look in old age, I feel comforted that I at least still look a bit better and last a bit longer…after the same amount of work!

…young and healthy…

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…ready and able…

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…firm and willing…

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…soft and gentle…

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All photos with Nikon D70s camera and AF micro nikkor lens 60 mm

An entry for macromonday


Lizard (Lacerta vivipara) – Macromonday

While taking a break from loading gravel yesterday, this  little baby lizard came into our circle of relaxation. It amused us for quite a while with its typical child like behavior and I could’ve sworn it loved the attention!

Photos taken with Nikon D70 camera and AF micro nikkor lens, 60mm,1:2.8D

…looking to see if we’re looking…

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…stopping by Macdonalds…

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…playing shy…

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…finally  a smiling pose…

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An entry for Macromonday.