Posts tagged “French countryside

Washing muddy horses.

The big problem with draft horses roaming free in the pastures is that they get very dirty in winter. and of course they hate being closed up. Living on hills don’t make it any easier. So we keep them in a smaller camp, both for their own sake and for the fields’ sake. But with the many rains and the muddy slopes and everything just awfully dirty and wet, it stays a challenge to give them some excercise and keep them clean! and groomed.

Today we washed them a little bit and mon chéri had eager little hands to help. Afterwards, with  a cup of warm “chocolat chaud” and contentment with their good work written all over their dirty faces, they looked muddier than the horses, which meant THEY then  needed a wash!

…Washing Dumela…

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 .. à bientôt..

Ronelle


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 garden in the making

I love a garden. I love gardening, no question about that. But starting a new garden from scratch…on raw farmland, on slopes, on rocksolid ground makes me re ask the question…do I really…I mean reaallly love gardening. To my own detriment…sigh…unfortunately, yes I do. I do love a garden and I do love gardening. With all its backaches and dirt and broken nails and sunburnt skin. I’m so crazy, I love even that too! and while I complain with utter self pity at night about my aching back and aching elbow, I think of the smell of fresh earth, of the fragrance of fennel and lavenders, the beauty of white Iceberg roses against the dark soil, the chickens digging just as hard as me to reach the abundance of earth worms in the fertile soil. I think of the infusion of camomile tea directly from the garden, the succulent veggies from our potager…and I complain even harder but wit a wide smile, because tomorrow I’ll be out there again, seeking again the sun, the soil, the fragrances and this pain for all the indescribable pleasure it gives me.

..stairs lading to future water feature with potager at the left and garden to the right – 2012..

garden in 2012 large

1..view on the “four à pain” – 2010..

The garden is far from finished and it will change completely again next season. But this is what happens to a garden, at least to mine..all of my gardens I first have to live in it for a while, before I really know what it asks for.

1..view on the “four à pain” – 2012..

2..view on the house2010..

2..view on the house -2012..

3..the very first diggings of the potager – 2010..

3..changing the potager  – 2011..

3..potager – 2012..

..view on the garden from the potager – 2012..

..white dahlias in the garden – 2012..

..star dahlia among the echinops..

..dahlias, echinops and Gubi..

..white marguerites around the cherry tree..

..whites, greens and greys for the garden, with touches of blue – 2012..

..the work horse for mowing the lawns  on our difficult terrain..

..the work horse for making new beds on farm land..

It will probably..no, not probably, definitely still take some time before we can move into our home and before we will be done with mud and stones and dust, but in the meantime, I can at least pick a rose or two for the house and get my daily dose of exercise by daily digging up the magnitude of weeds that takes over the garden the minute I turn my back. I suppose it is just a normal part of this garden in the making at Coin Perdu.


An impossible balcony, ancient Egyptian way.

We have a come quite a way since we started restoring 3 years ago.But unfortunately, we still have a way to go too. everything happens in its own time. Mon cheri believes patience will finally finish our house. I believe him, but every now and then I let my impatience kick him in the butt a little …just enough to speed up his patience a bit! I am careful not to push too hard though… he is the one doing all the work after all!

Up to now, we have knocked down walls, inside and out. We have opened up large windows and doors. We have put in a second floor for our bedroom. We  have put in a temporary plastic pool for cooling down during the hot Correzien summers. We have had the real pool dug out. We started building terraces. All this was of course mostly done by mon cheri. He is a Camel man. With patience. And a hat. But I have done my share too. The garden is taking shape nicely.  .By my hand. As is the potager with all those healthy vegetables.  The tomatoes are sweet, the salads bountiful. Bulbs are flowering, shrubs are blooming… except for twelve!! 2-year old lavender bushes which were carelessly dug out by a poor soul named William.. I wasn’t angry. I was only foaming a little at the mouth with boiling rage…

And now we have built a balcony.

…before…

We had Phillippe’s help, or rather “Fif” as everybody knows him.Aa tall,  willowy shoot of a man. He can swing a hammer just as well as rigging a chain saw. And he’s funny. He of course thinks we are funny too…the way we do things and the off beat ideas we have for our farm house. But he does them anyway, shrugging the shoulders, while a limp cigarette is hanging from a quirky smile.

So the day arrived to get those rustic solid oak beams into place. Fifi lifted one end of a beam and shook his head. “Comment on va arriver..c’est pas possible..on est que deux? He couldn’t’ see only two men lifting these heavy beams up straight into place…it is just not possible. The French love the expression: “C’est pas possible”. It is not possible.

But in the end, it got done with a little heaving and hooing. ancient Egytian style with ropes and pulleys, counterweights and muscle. Add my muscle to that too.

..and the first pillar goes up..

..it stands steadfast..

..and the second pillars stand straight up..

..and the third pillar stands..

If the Egyptians could build pyramids this way, surely we can build a simple balcony…using the same physics…n’est pas Fifi? He lookedat his handiwork with an even more quirky smile. “C’est pas possible”!, he exclaimed with proud disbelief…

..c’est pas possible..!


Moving forward

A lot has happened at Coin Perdu. We’ve really moved forward in the restoration process. We’ve also fiddled a bit in the garden, established a whisper of a vegetable patch and now, in the summer of 2011, we reap the wonderful benefits of freshly picked vegetables just before our meal!

Wondering where I should start writing again, after such a long time of silence here on coin Perdu, our mountain home, I figured the vegetable garden could be a good place.

It gives me such pleasure and I worked hard, not to mention the hard work Hartman put in as well, taking breaks from the work on the house to help me move rocks and stones, dig trenches and stabilize terraces! But oh, I have to talk about my moving heavy rocks, or rather, boulders all by my own self! With the help of “the lifter”, a shovel and some heavy language, I could move a boulder at a time for my terrace walls. A lot still has to be done and with my impatient nature, I have often remind myself of Rome which took more than one day.

…a new potager at Coin Perdu…

Because it is so up and down hill, we need to make terraces for our potager. I already bought some shallots right in the beginning of the season and was impatient to plant them. This was after all, my very first vegetable garden! So we dug in an made a box early in March. I planted my shallots and waited for them to do their thing, which I’m so proud to say…today, 4 months later,  we feast on shallots every day!!

In the meantime I also got my rosemary bushes and lavenders in the ground…all still very informal and and not really worked out strictly on any kind of plan. I know it will all change again once the house is finished and then probably again after! Which is exactly what happened a few weeks later and the house is not even close to finish yet! I changed my mind about how the terraces should look and we started all over. dug up, moved, covered, raked, drank liters of water, got sunburned, dug again, weeded…and then came the nice part; sowing the seeds!

We brought the gargoyle from Montlouis sur Loire, our fountain and installed it in the potager as well. Built a stone wall, some steps going down and for now, we’ll enjoy your veggies until the fall, when we’ll do some more work in the garden. Now, the house comes first!

…some clover between the stepping stones, courgette flowers and dug up radishes…

…potager for 2011…

…and always I have company and help!!…

…only small for this year, but already healthy, all organic veggies…

…à bientôt…

Ronell


Autumn at coin Perdu

A spectacular show awaited us when we arrived at Coin Perdu to lock up for the winter. Autumn in all its splendour. Our woods next to the house were blazing with colour and the far off hills were winking to be gazed at.

We have locked up for the rest of 2010 and will start work again in spring 2011. In the near future, some posts will appear on our work done in 2010. We have done a lot of work, but not enough to have our house finished and lived in yet…it will probably take us another season to get to that point.

..à la prochaine..

Ronelle


Restoration – opening up for windows to the south.

 

The restoration process is back in full swing here at Coin Perdu. We have actually become quite the pro’s  now in the rhythm and routine of logically  advancing the process. Well, to be completely honest, I’ve stepped aside more and more and leaving my poor husband more and more to himself in the grit and grout of restoration. But he doesn’t mind, he tells me every time that I express my guilt….that comes down to almost every day. “This is just not me, I hate this dirt and dust and bruises and scrapes…after all, I am a lady…a least, I’m trying my best  to be a lady!”, is my most uttered phrase. I can see Hartman’s lips shaping each word as I say it.  But I still say it every day. And he still tells me it is OK every day. so from now on, when I say “we” , it actually means “he”. I do other stuff. A lot of other stuff.. But I’ll be sure to use “I” when I talk about that. It is important  stuff too after all.

After ripping up some floor planks, which was before we got into the rhythm of logical restoration thinking, we now started knocking out the south facing wall for large future windows to allow for plenty of light streaming in.

As Hartman knocekd out the south facing wall, taking out the stones one by one, he constructed horizontal wooden beams and pillars to hold it all up temporarily, preventing the whole lot from tumbling down at some time. The permanent beams and pillars will be constructed from concrete later on, which will be hidden by wooden lintels, beams and pillars and enduit.

Almost the whole of the southern wall will become full length windows with wooden outdoor blinds which will swivel to let in light but cut out the direct sun.

The future door of the top floor(bedroom) to the balcony outside.

In the meantime there is also a lot of going back to the plans, reconsidering, changing, rechecking.

And somewhere in between all this breaking down and dust and building beams which Hartman does, I feature also. I provide the coffee en cookies, food,  the cold water and of course, I take the pictures!


The charming atmosphere of Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne.

…Beaulieu-sur -Dordogne is a beautiful medieval town on the banks of the Dordogne river, situated in la vallée de la Dordogne in Corréze…

Even though we fall under the commune of Puy d’Arnac here at Coin Perdu, our mountain home,  Beaulieu sur Dordogne is the village where we do our shopping…the marché, a morning cafe créme with croissants. It is also where Hartman regularly stops at Point P with his remorque to fill up on building material. Les Monsieurs just take out the book, have him sign and off he goes, back to Coin Perdu where the work is waiting. I might linger longer…have a coffee at Les voyageurs, chat with Cecile, walk around with my sketchbook and camera, buy strawberries and salad at the marché and pop in at the Antiquités.

…hôtel de ville…


…baron de Marbot Marcellin…

…une boulangerie et une boucherie – two places no french town can do without…

…la place du marché…

where the Antiquités draws me in every time with its beautiful things of yesteryear…

…la bôite a lettre et l’eau portable – for those thirsty moments and the ever important letter or postcard  to post…

…if’ like me, you love anything architectural, all these beautiful old lintels above the doors will keep you spell bounded, in awe of the craftsmanship and detail…

…and still more…

…few things can be as fascinating as watching people, making up stories about them, wondering about their hopes and dreams and then turn around to wonder about our own…

… never a dull moment when it comes to a little humor and interest…

…and beauty is always present…

…in the charm of old stone and wood, pretty lace and an unpretentious flower…

If ever you might be passing through our special area of Corréze, turn off at Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne, give me a call and drop in for un petit noir at our Coin Perdu, only 10 minutes away… where the world really comes to a standstill and like Peter Pan, we live extracts of life we never thought possible.

…à  la prochaine…!


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…



Mechanical transport – vintage models

Some vintage models still frequently in use for everyday living, especially in the country side. Although, the Citroën 2CV is now quickly becoming “trendy” with the status conscious, middle aged section of the population. Could it be midlife crisis?

…cuteness with an enjin…

citroen 2cv

…pedal the enjin…

cycles

An entry for sundaystills.


My world on a Wednesday.

Wednesday is a day like any other day. My world on a Wednesday is nothing special. so why my world on a Wednesday? I don’t know. No spesific reason. It came into my head. When something comes into my head, I must live it.  Voici my world on a Wednesday!

Cleaned uo the garden after coming from from 5 months at Coin Perdu. Met my old friends and new friends among the plants and weeds…famous for their presence in eurpoean gardens.

What did you do on this Wednesday? Nothing? Then create something to do on a Wednesday; go for a walk and pick leaves and go look them up at home; try a new recipe; buy a magazine you have never bought before and read it front to back; arrange one drawer; plant a tiny plant every Wednesday,take a photo of nature every Wednesday,  learn 5 words in a foreign language every Wednesday; choose any topic and read up on it for 10 minutes every Wednesday(an animal, a culture, a culture, a country’s history…)…there is a lot to do on a Wednesday, simple things that can be fun and can take only 5 minutes. so. What didyou do on this Wednesday? Do show and tell.

Je vous présente:

…Araneus diadematus(European garden spider)-female…

Araneus diadematus(european garden spider)

…fleeing…

Europeangarden spider (Araneus diadematus)


Ripping out the first floorplanks’

After knocking down all the interior walls, we were so anxious to see the double volume which we were planning into our  house that we thought we would just rip out one floorplank and one ceiling plank to have  a clean view from top to bottom. Did it stay by only one plank?  No. Of course not! The opening was too small to really see and we are far too greedy. Our excitement got the better of us. One plank became two, and then three and before we knew it, several planks were ripped out in the floor and the ceiling and there we stood like stargazers on a dark cloudless night; staring upwards.

…ripping up floorplanks…

ripping up floorplanks 3not light work!

It was great seeing the double volume! Still hight on excitement, we ran right down to the cellar(where we carried out so much dirt!) and once again bent our necks backwards to be impressed by the height of the double volume. We were impressed. Wonderfully high! Open and spacious. Streams of light filtering in through the roof windows.

…looking through to the beams into the opened up attic in the roof…

opening up to the roof 1

…view from the cellar and looking through (which was) the first floor into the roof…

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…standing down below in the cellar, which will become the ground floor living area…

under the ripped up floorplanks(in the old cellar)

I could envision life when it will all be done. Until I bent my neck back into normal position and my brain switched on again, pushing reality to the fore, focusing my eyes on the chaos still waiting. Not one for extravagant optimism, I removed myself from the reality staring me in the face and drove off in our Peugeot bleu for a coffee in town, cruelly leaving the rest of the team-my husband and our two daughters- to deal with reality… It helped.

And to end this episode, like every day here At Coin Perdu: never does a day end without a moment of beauty or inspiration somewhere, making us realize again that all the sweat and hard work is worth it.

…inspiration…

Graphosoma lineatum-Pentatome rayeeMellicta athalia butterfly 1