Sunday, 23 April 2017

Mosaic Monday # 37 - normandy life snapshots

When we moved to Normandy 21 years ago my Dad, Bill, and my step mum, Joyce, were our first visitors, they came and helped us to unpack our belongings almost as soon as the removal van had driven away. He used to love to hear about our experiences as we worked hard to renovate and restore this old house and they came over, from the UK, often.
Dad often said that we should write a book about our life in Normandy a la Peter Mayle.
The last time they made the journey was in October 2007, my sister, brother in law and two nephews came too and we celebrated his 80th birthday with a Halloween themed party six months before he died.
I began writing my Normandy Life blog two weeks after he passed away, today is it's 9th Anniversary.

the village notice board always let's us know about all the exciting things happening here

This past week I've been walking around the village taking snapshots that I think reflect the way of life in rural Normandy and show why we enjoy living here so much.

the latest additions to friend Jacques' flock of sheep born this week

this week our farmer neighbour Marc brought a new herd of Holstein Friesian cows into the field opposite
the ornamental cherry tree in our front garden burst into glorious colour
M'selle Fleur always on guard
the SP enjoys a hot dog snack whilst wandering around a vide grenier
a wild flag iris growing at the side of the lane.

I wonder if we'll still be here in 2026?

Sunday, 16 April 2017

Mosaic Monday # 36 - you say Disney and I say d'Isigny!

Happy Easter everyone!


Here's a non Easter question for you....................
What might the connection be
between here


and here?


The answer is this man!


That's right, Uncle Walt's ancestry can be traced all the way back to Hugues Suhard and his son Robert who left Isigny sur Mer to fight side by side with William the Conqueror during the invasion of England in 1066.

Isigny Sainte Mer Cooperative

I always thought Isigny sur Mer was only famous for the wonderful butter, cream and cheese, produced by the Isigny Sainte Mere cooperative, using milk from Normandy's native breed of cows like these.


Our farmer neighbour, Mark, supplies the co-op and we often encounter the huge tankers, in our narrow lanes, on their way to collect the creamy stuff.
In the centre of Isigny opposite the Town Hall the Walt Disney Garden has been created.


Here you'll also find a small plaque officially recognising what  generations of children from Isigny have grown up knowing - Walt Elias Disney's ancestors were Normans!
Click here to visit the Disneyland Paris website confirming the story.

"To the youngsters of today, I say believe in the future,
the world is getting better;
there is still plenty of opportunity.
Walt E. Disney
05.12.1901 - 15.12.1966

According to Madeleine Hubert, historian of Isigny, a charter of the King of England and Duke of Normandy Henry II, written in the 12th century, reports that Hugues Suhard, "guardian and master of the port of Isigny", took the name of Hugues d'Isigny.
(His) descendants settled in England, many decided not to return to Normandy. Over the years, their name became more evocative. In 1150, the stronghold of Norton, in the center of England, belonged to a certain William of Ysini. There is also a Norton Is'ny in a charter of 1331. It was this Norton who later became Norton Disney. Several centuries later, around 1830, a distant descendant of Norton, Elias Disney, left his native Ireland for the New World.

Walt Elias Disney's ancestry can be traced back to the Irish branch of the family.





Sunday, 9 April 2017

Mosaic Monday # 35 - easy like a Sunday morning

Normandy is basking in beautiful sunshine
as I write,
with wide cloudless blue skies as far as the eye can see.

In our garden the apple, cherry, pear, lilac and ornamental cherry trees
are all fit to burst!


To quote American poet William Cullen Bryant (no relation)...................

There is no glory in star or blossom
till looked upon by a loving eye;
There is no fragrance in April breezes
till breathed with joy as they wander by.

I'm wearing flip flops and suffering just a bit with hay fever!
On Sunday morning we spent time mooching around the vide grenier
(literal translation: empty attic) in Le Molay Littry.


In the UK they call them "car boots".
I think in North America you call them yard sales?

There were about 50+ stalls,


most of them laden with second hand/pre-loved children's clothes, toys and books.


Plenty of hand tools, garden/farming implements, engine parts and such.


Not too many antiques of note but loads of junk!


And toy cars, lots and lots of toy cars.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Mosaic Monday # 34 - The Good, the Random and the Fun

I liked the idea of blogging the Good, the Random and the Fun so much last time that I've decided to share a GRF post every now and again.
Last week kicked off with Random when we walked past "Mimosa Cottage" (my name for the fixer-upper that I showed you recently, click here if you missed it) and discovered a new tenant in the garden.


I haven't a clue where he came from as the house does appear to have been left abandoned but he's made himself at home very well and is so friendly.
I love chatting with the horses that we meet on our daily walks. The SP and Fleur are used to me stopping for a chat and always walk on and leave me to it.

The Fun - chocolate!


When I called in at Super U (my local supermarche) for groceries on Wednesday I couldn't believe the amount of chocolate on display.
I'm not a chocaholic so I wasn't tempted at all but there were plenty of other shoppers adding Easter treats to their baskets.


Finally, the Good thing that happened last week was that Sean the Gardener came and dug up two of the vegetable beds in my potager leaving just one small bed for herbs, soft fruit and a few mixed salad leaves.


Now all we have to do is wait for the grass to grow, creating a quiet place enclosed on two sides by the tall laurel hedge where I can while away sunny afternoons napping, reading and sipping tea.


I'm thinking something like this would be perfect..............................

(internet image)

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Mosaic Monday # 33 - what a sight to see!

One day last week, on our way home from walking Fleur in the woods at Cerisy, we stopped off at the Local Tourist Board office to look at the new displays and to pick up some brochures of nearby places of interest that we like to take our visitors to.


The Château de Balleroy has always been # 1 on our must see list, click here to visit their website in English.
It's been almost six years since we met English blogger Jackie there (you can read about her visit by clicking here) and I was interested to find out if there was anything new there to see.


Things you might like to know about the Château.
Built in 1631 for Jean de Choisy by architect Francois Mansard it is still owned by the family of the late Malcolm Forbes (US newspaper magnate) who bought the Château in 1970.
The French formal gardens were designed by Henri Duchene at the beginning of the 20th century.
Dotted around the English style park are benches and picnic tables for visitors to enjoy and some of the outbuildings now house a tea room, balloon museum and gift shop.
The Abbaye Cerisy La Foret dedicated to Saint Vigor, Bishop of Bayeux, was founded in 1032 by Duke Robert the Magnificent (you might have heard of his son William the Conqueror, 1066 and all that).
A jewel of Roman architecture the apse is on 3 levels with 15 windows and the abbey archives are housed on the Room of Justice.
Here's a link to their website (in French).
Both the Château de Balleroy and Cerisy Abbey will open their doors to the public on 1st April.

The Château de Colombières, a XIVth century Historic Monument, is what I call our "local" château as it only takes 5 minutes to drive there from home.
It may be local but it contains one thousand years of secrets, intrigue and passion inside it's fortified walls.
You can visit the Château's website  here then click on the tabs to learn about it's fascinating history.


The fourth and final brochure that I collected that day was for a sightseeing tour on board La Rosée du Soleil through the Parc des Marais du Contentin  (Park and Marshes of the Contentin Penisula). Our village in situated on the edge of the Marais and so this is a trip has been on my to do list for many years, perhaps 2017 will be the year it happens?



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Mosaic Monday # 32 - too much of a good thing can be wonderful

The response to my MM # 31 post on vintage French enamelware was wonderful, thank you, and I'm not at all surprised to find out that we're all chineurs one way or another.

Peugeot Freres coffee mill, circa 1900
I really enjoyed reading about all the eclectic and diverse things that appeal to you.
Whether it's ceramics, dolls, photographs, Beatrix Potter or Belleek china, tea cups or vintage linens, we do enjoy thrift/charity shops, garage sales, antique fairs and auctions.

blue and white Delft ware, always a favourite.
I particularly enjoyed these two comments:
from Jo Ann (Scene Through My Eyes) "I think my collection of friends is the best one of all" and Sallie (Full Time Life) "one of my pleasures in blogging is "meeting" new people and seeing other ways to live the good life".
So true!


vintage pitchers; an amusing Garnier triple liqueur bottle; Malicorne pitcher; framed Delft tile;
terracotta Santons; ceramic crab shaped serving dish;
Malicorne faience egg server. 
For you, my lovely friends, my mosaics today are of some quirky and delightful treasures discovered whilst bargain hunting in Normandy and Brittany.

vintage enamelware and a ceramic ashtray from a French brasserie.
Don't laugh, I packed this collection of Banania tins away when we painted the dining room about seven years ago and haven't seen them since. I can't, for love nor money, remember where I put them.
Banania is a breakfast beverage enjoyed by the French since 1914
these storage tins were from a series issued circa 1950

I found these crystal glass display pieces about 15 years ago, I think they're lovely but can never figure out the best way to use them. The only way to display flowers in them is to cut the stems very, very short and almost float the flower heads in the water.


Suggestions please.





Sunday, 12 March 2017

Mosaic Monday # 31 - vintage french enamelware


Spring has definitely arrived here in Normandy but one of the things that I look forward to very much at this time of year has nothing to do with the garden or the weather.


One of my favourite pastimes at the weekend and on public holidays is to spend time wandering around vide greniers, brocante markets and antique fairs on the look out for beautiful objects to add to my collection of all things vintage French..
(When I first began to collect Quimper faience in the '90's I was lucky enough to meet Millicent Mali, a respected Quimper expert and author, at an antique fair in Brittany who kindly explained that the French word for antiquing is "chiner" and we are all  "chineurs"!)


What is a collector?
 - someone who collects objects because they are beautiful, valuable, or interesting according to the Cambridge English Dictionary.
The Merriam Webster definition is not as complimentary: a person who collects certain things as a hobby, a person whose job is to collect something (such as trash or money) !


Well, beauty is in the eye of the beholder so they say and what is one man's trash is another man's treasure.


My mosaics this week feature some shabby chic beautiful French enamelware that I've enjoyed here at the Presbytère before finding them new homes with other collectors.

I can still find vintage French enamelware at reasonable prices now and again but "kitchenalia" seems to have become very popular souvenir of tourists visiting Normandy and the competition is tough.
storage canister sets come in many different colours and patterns

"Enameled Kitchenware" by Pikul & Plante is a book that has helped me a lot with my research into the many different designs, styles and patterns that I come across.
It contains a wealth of information on both European and American enamelware. 



I checked and it is still available from amazon, the photographs and descriptions are excellent but I don't know if the price guide is still relevant to the marketplace.

a selection of "coffee biggins"
an 18th century French invention for brewing coffee 


utensil racks - decorative and useful

Are you a collector too, what do you collect?


Please let me know, I'd really enjoy hearing what it is that you will be searching for the next time you go out to chiner.