I don’t know a lot about clouds but I recognise an exciting bit of texture when I see it… Further inspiration from French skies.
I don’t do a lot of cute, but these squirrels in Taunton’s splendid Vivary Park last week were pretty irresistible! Not proper Alison Uttley colouring – but actually not totally grey either.
Twenty five years ago we were contemplating buying this one. But we couldn’t really justify it and it turned out the owner had no interest in selling anyway. Now it is far too late. Someone clearly did love it once (you can just see the hand stencilled trefoils below the roof and round the windows – unusual decoration for a modest locaterie) Nothing has been done to preserve it, though a few years back the vegetation (jungle) was cleared from the front and I got excited thinking maybe it would be rescued…I make a point of walking past it several times a year but I fear the structure doesn’t have much longer. And it is by no means alone round this area. There are several abandoned farm buildings, casualties of the rural exodus, which even now nobody seems to want. Such a pity.
This building, though, is in great shape – literally! It is part of what was a medieval Guild Hall in Suffolk. It apparently became a Free Grammar School in 1577 and has now morphed into a holiday cottage where we stayed for a peaceful week in September. I spent several days trying to fathom out the original architecture – very confusing and I’m sure I failed but the exposed wood is very exciting – lots of detail, carefully preserved. One of my daughters is in Canada for a year, so I’ll make sure I send her pictures of the timber framed houses we saw all over Suffolk – it seems so weird to me to be in a country where you just can’t see any!
We timed an airport pick-up around this museum collection – and it was well worth it. Some stunning posters for anyone interested in ‘Work, Family, Fatherland’ in Vichy France – or indeed just in the history of propaganda as a weapon of war.
Some sobering, some inspiring:
Angeli was a local administrator condemned at the Liberation for having co-operated too enthusiastically with the Nazi regime. Gerlier was Archbishop of Lyon at this period. He seems to have been fearless in speaking out against Laval’s plans to deport Jews to the death camps – and, in particular, he urged Catholic priests to take the children into hiding.
There is evidence that a number of primary school teachers also took great risks to conceal their pupils. I would like to think I could have done the same – but with 5 children of my own to protect I’m not so sure….
I am certainly grateful not to have been tested in this way.
These terrible headings are getting to be a very bad habit…. enough, enough!
The last few weeks are receding fast. They did involve more music and more cathedrals – French ones this time, Rouen and Lyon:
Fabulous, despite all the construction work going on in Rouen.
But don’t let the current (building site) views from BRASSERIE PAUL put you off – even in France you could travel some distance to find a casual restaurant this good. It’s just outside the cathedral and I really recommend it.
Mixed feelings about the above rather sad photos though. When we arrived at the house we found trees down and branches snapped all over the place. The ancient oak on the left WAS an absolutely perfect shape…. and the mixed foliage on the right is typical of the weird arrangements that had been created. The house is on the northern edge of the Auvergne and there had been a freak weather event just after we left in October – 20 cm of snow overnight. The trees were still in leaf and could not take the weight…. So we spent most of our time sawing and chopping!
The lizard was fun though. I lifted a pillow and found it motionless. I took a photo because it is so hard to get close to a live one. Then I called for the Chief Corpse Remover (we do usually find something in the house) who picked it up – at which point it leapt into the air….only hibernating! Not sure who was the more shocked.
And how about that frog for camouflage?
Weather-wise, that is. From regular mid 30s to not even 15 degrees. So hard to accept that summer is over! The days we spent in Vieux Lyon were probably peak heat – over 38C. The rather sinister looking bars above were actually our window in an amazing 15th century hotel building – very lucky to stumble across this one.
You may have guessed that the big draw for me was the Textile Museum. For about 500 years Lyon was a world centre for silk production. I have been wanting to visit this museum for almost that long…. and it did not disappoint!
Back now to work, family and a much neglected Etsy shop. Internet for a couple of hours a week is not great for running an online business!
The original blueprints. One of the fun things I get up to in France. It’s more of a photographic process than actual dyeing. You need some scary-sounding chemicals (Potassium Ferricyanide and Ammonium Ferric Citrate) which turn out to be harmless if you are sensible (i.e. you don’t start inhaling or eating the stuff). I treat the fabric then add whatever plant material I have collected – oak and bracken seem to work well. I make a sandwich with an old window pane we had lying around (I’m sure some people would get glass specially cut to size) The fun part is, all this has to be done in the dark. My dining room in France has no proper windows, so it is perfect if you have the place to yourself. If there are children around, though, it’s not so great – the dining room is also a sort of corridor with doors each end and a certain amount of yelling might be necessary to prevent disaster. The last stage is simply to get the glass sandwich outside and leave it to develop in the light – this can be very quick – the French sun has real power! The plant material must be firmly kept in place – it acts as a resist. Then everything is washed and dried.
I used to be concerned that the cushions would fade – they don’t! The examples in the picture were my first attempts (hence the photographs) over five years ago. I wondered about adding cyanoprints to my Etsy shop because they are a bit different, but I’ve decided I’d rather be free to keep experimenting and not have to worry about a professional finish!
With a chance to avoid the motorways this time. The route bleue (N7) and the wine territories have a much greater appeal. It does take a lot longer – but we wandered through dozens of timeless hamlets and past some extraordinary buildings tucked away in la France Profonde. (And yes, the sat. nav. can’t always cope and I did get us just a little bit lost…)
An overnight stay in Chateaudun (a town with medieval buildings that we are always keen to revisit, although we sometimes feel we should explore more adventurously) and an early morning visit to the chateau – perfect, we were the only people in the whole place, apart from a young woman energetically hoovering the ancient stone floor of the Sainte Chapelle – what a job!
I think this is the most northerly of the Loire castles (so the first you get to driving down from Paris) and it seems to be less well known to tourists. Definitely worth a trip though. There is an interesting connection to Joan of Arc. The buildings are from the 12th to the 16th century – and too close up for me to get in a single shot!
There are tapestries and furniture:
Architectural details, linenfold and – always my favourite – FIREPLACES!
But, as usual, what really caught my eye was the play of light, angles and exciting intersections:
This one gave me a shock – no idea I had taken it, but it is my ghostly shadow sneaking its way in!