Living a double life. Or, me and room service (again)

img_20160601_130032So, a few weeks ago it was warm enough to sit outside in Limoux, in the autumn sushine sipping cold rosé  wine and  eating cod poached in  Blanquette and finished with crème fraîche. Followed by a  coffee/toffee ice cream in a chocolate/caramel shell.

Yes, those combos worked well.img_20160725_125643

Zoom forward a few days and I am stuck in a UK hotel hundreds of miles drive from my home base in UK  for four days with the day job. It’s a zillion  degrees colder here.This hotel is more acceptable than some I’ve booked blind. Stained glass windows, cotton & linen bedding, French prints on the walls, acceptable curtains, solid wood furniture, view of boats, even an illuminated magnifying mirror so the Mad Old Bag can put her slap on with a degree of symmetry. I’m a foot from the fire, mainlining tea and extra shot lattes to keep warm


The point is, I’m torn in two with these wildly separate French and UK lives I am obliged to lead. Just move to France , you say. Now.

And how, pray? The one pays for the other.


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Cold feet – and why just a few square metres of flooring is giving me another hovel related headache

571ea2893b094aab4e712134f7234d1bWhy do these small decisions choke up the narrative on these projects? The biggest decision is what property to buy, everything else after is relatively less onerous ; Right?

Wrong! – and I am still “sweating the small stuff” here. Latest quandary , small area of floor deliberately left free around and under cooking area and sink when we laid new wood floor in kitchen.

I have this problem; sometimes I see something that I desperately love and desperately want in our house. Then I have to work out where it fits

I love these old chequerboard black and dirty white floors. above left- I can’t fit one into the French house. End off. Kiss that idea a sad goodbye….

Other options are-

small travertine tiles (mmm, maybe)

brick in herringbone pattern (not that Aude-ish)5cbb4054dc4743a8bb43a8b9f4117055

reclaimed tomettes to echo the bit we still have between kitchen and salon (stupid money these days)


8_Travertine_Walnut_Natural_Stone_Kitchen_Bathroom_Floor_Tiles_terre cuite









I like cement in some application too, why not? It’s been used for centuries and the idea-below- to set it into old plank floors is quite cool


Something Else? suggestions welcome






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Eric Ravilious and 20th century British Art

img_20161128_085926I found this painting in a junk shop in Birmingham. It was filthy; but oil paintings are tough and almost always clean up well.

Even in that condition I could see the strong composition, colour & form.

It’s unsigned (unusual if it’s by an “amateur”) An unsigned work is more often that of an artist who is working prolifically, but is not of celebrity status and so doesn’t have to think about provenance later down the line!

This is by someone who understands classical painting and has been classically taught ( it’s sketched out in Prussian blue, and quite right too, my old Art tutors would have lynched the class of 71-74 for using the colour black ANYWHERE!)

My junk shop painting here has the colours, the look and the feel of  1920’s-30’s British Art, a taste of which is currently celebrated at the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings UK.

At that exhibition, the artist Eric Ravilious is justly celebrated. Often dismissed as “just” a designer, ceramicist & illustrater (the “Art world” is soaked in snobbery, secrecy and sycophancy and bathed in bitching and bathos, awash on a sea of fashion and cult; OK rant over…………..)

He was also a war artist and chronicler of rural life, landscapes, buildings and cottage interiors on the South Downs,his paintings epitomise the period he lived in; cut tragically short in 1942 when he died in a plane crash somewhere remote in Iceland. Study his paintings and you will note the strong diagonal lines in the composition , the treatment of shapes, the subtle and slightly unsettling manipulation of perspective in parts.

Those evocative colours,  the graphic treatment of shade and distance by using repetitive lines and small shapes in a painterly version of classic “cross hatching” techniques usually found in pen or pencil drawings. See below and here



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Friday French Fix- Old and Bold spaces – Chambres anciennes et audacieuses

e6ce6d58b0b2df693540e6165c8d1a4aWhen engaged in old French property rescue, we should be bold and daring

Yes? Let’s be Aude-acious in the Aude!










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More Friday French Property P**n- How to hang

2c91494cd099d3102b2a9925bfba7cb0I have around 100 pictures, paintings, prints & mirrors to hang at the French village house. Not all are huge, though some are almost wall-filling…..

So I think about how to group and where to hang these a lot.

To me, getting all that art up in the right spot is as critical as decorating  and furnishing these spaces. Really. Some excellent ideas here-


There won’t be acres of wall with only one modest picture anywhere. My head is a gallery. Always has been. Always will be.

Sources- See my Pinterest for above-the rest -links below6761e2ae505f1ec0f47e28c4fd52374d

Stumbling Upon ….




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Qui n’avance pas, recule

img_20160629_101557I think we have bitten off more than we can chew. Photo by permission of The Grandson

Is that a proverb? an idiom? an adage? weigh it up right here-

Anyway, my French neighbour V has decided that she will improve my language skills and my appreciation and understanding of French vocabulary, culture, attitudes & history by teaching me some classic French sayings.

I found two of them listed as a Top Ten here-

V says that “Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid”  applies perfectly to our slow  and considered progress on the village house project. It does, and my blog-buddy, the elegant Ellen A also refers to this saying at-

The short, pithy and pertinent “ Qui n’avance pas, recule” chimes with me too.

“Qui n’avance pas, recule” is a truth that none can counter. It is translated as, “Who does not move forward, recedes”. There can be no standstill in life, only evolution or devolution. Either one evolves, or one devolves. To be stagnant is the same as to recede. “Expect poison from stagnant water,” the English poet William Wordsworth once wrote. This proverb can be used as encouragement in the need to persevere. It may be persistently employed, given its truth content”.

Maxim? aphorism? Debate and discuss if that’s your bag. Meanwhile, we are putting the “petit a petit” quote on the front of the house……..Yes, really.

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Les couleurs pâles, poussiéreuses et fanées- Pale, Dusty, Faded

img_20161113_120748These subtle colours, in French they’re called Les couleurs pâles, poussiéreuses et fanées”.

My favourite shades, that faded, dirty, dusty,”washed “palette. Greyed pastels, warmed neutrals.

They work so well Chez Nous

img_20161113_120943img_20161113_121016The word “couleur” is feminine in French, suprisingly, I thought I had this gender thing sussed but not in this case. This recently restored antique oak foot stool with original “Berlinwork” needlepoint upholstery showcases these period shades.41eea2f961346332a31fe2151b23919b

Our latest piece, now up for sale and a true treasure.

I found this 1920’s colour chart on Pinterest-

1920 Colour Combinations

Photo by Daily Bungalow on Flickr

Some excellent colour options here for Old French Houses of any vintage….and very reminiscent of all those expensive, fashionable, historical shades out there from certain well known paint manufacturers.

There is nothing new under the sun………………..

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