Saturday, 10 June 2017

Adieu Printemps - Weekend Reflections

We've just received photos of our French garden from our dear neighbours who keep a watchful eye over My French Folly. According to their report................

Spring is about to bid us farewell as the sun stretches high into the sky.

The promise of new life has been delivered.

Fledglings dessert their nests.

The breeze plants a warm kiss in the shadows

 Now, the sweetness of the air barely lingers.

Leaves discard their verdant, juvenile greens for more mature hues.

Nature's rhythms continue to invoke feelings of wonder and security.

Printemps  by Victor Hugo
Voici donc les longs jours, lumière, amour, délire!  

Voici le printemps ! mars, avril au doux sourire,  
Mai fleuri, juin brûlant, tous les beaux mois amis!  
Les peupliers, au bord des fleuves endormis,  

Se courbent mollement comme de grandes palmes;  
L’oiseau palpite au fond des bois tièdes et calmes;  
Il semble que tout rit, et que les arbres verts  
Sont joyeux d’être ensemble et se disent des vers.  

Le jour naît couronné d’une aube fraîche et tendre;  

Le soir est plein d’amour ; la nuit, on croit entendre,  
À travers l’ombre immense et sous le ciel béni,  
Quelque chose d’heureux chanter dans l’infini.

Springtime by Victor Hugo
Here are the long days, light, love, delirium!
This is the Spring! March, April with a sweet smile,
May flowery, June blazing, all the beautiful friendly months!
The poplars, asleep by the riverside,
Bow gently like great palms
The bird quivers at the far end of the calm, tepid woods
It seems that everything laughs, and that the green trees
Are joyful to be together and say verses to each other.
The day comes crowned with a fresh and tender dawn.
The evening is full of love, the night, one can almost hear
Through the immense shadow and under the sacred sky,
Something happy singing in the infinity.

Recording: Monique Palomares  

English Translation: Lisa Yannucci 

Linking to Outdoor Wednesday


Sunday, 28 May 2017

Words fail me.

The recent events in Manchester are numbing.
Words fail. 
Efforts of comfort appear incredibly hollow.

Change, like sunshine, can be a friend or a foe, a blessing or a curse, a dawn or a dusk. William Arthur Ward

There are 2 early birds in flight across this dawn sky. France 2016

Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. Rabindranath Tagore

Wild poppies growing amongst the remains of Roman built baths in north eastern France. France 2016

A sorrow's crown of sorrow is remembering happier times. Alfred Lord Tennyson

Participating in Black and White Weekend

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Just around the corner - there's a fork in the road.

"…..sometimes, when you take a great risk, life rewards you ten-fold" Heather Robinson

Champagne-Ardenne, France

Have you ever been at a fork in the road on life's journey and not known which path to take? One seems comfortable or familiar, the other foreign - perhaps challenging or fraught with difficulties; real or perceived. Which path do you tend to take? Which path is the better option? Dale Carnegie would emphatically state that "it's the road less travelled". But maybe the answer is "it depends": it depends on your "age or stage" in life, especially when  health issues are involved. 

Despite the path chosen, there should be no regrets. Continue to dream big, ask the seemingly unanswerable questions, add to your bucket list, and review the course you've taken. There is no escaping the fact that life is risky and will present us all with challenges. It is the degree of these challenges and risks and how we respond to them that sets us apart. 
As for me, I'm standing at the fork in my road..................procrastinating!

Linking with Black and White Weekends.


Saturday, 13 May 2017

Vintage French in B and W

Apologies – some of the details of the image have been reduced for the sake of its uploading speed.
Is this just me?

French + vintage  = bliss

The radiator cap of this vintage French automobile was designed to be sitting proud on top of the car's bonnet.

Linking up with Black and White Weekend

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Lavoirs - a snippet of social history for visitors of France

The village in which this washhouse (lavoir) is located, is devoid of a bakery and any shops, but it boasts a castle and a charming lavoir. The domed roof covering the spring, is particularly attractive.

It was a recent post from Fabously French that had me scouring my poorly archived photos for some images of lavoirs* – sign posts of a now fragile heritage.

Adjacent to the 13th century church that sits at the bottom of a steep incline in our village, is this colourfully decorated lavoir. The flowers are voluntarily grown and nurtured by the surrounding neighbours.

The quaintness and charm of surviving lavoirs, that can still be seen in many French villages today, usually belie the often gruelling demands of laundering in bygone eras. More than just a place of work, a lavoir also provided a place where women could meet and chat while attending to an extremely time consuming, and often arduous domestic chore. 

A quaint washhouse can just be seen to the right of this stream that runs through Beaune. 

Household laundry consisted mainly  of rags, cloths and the inner garments worn close to one’s skin. Bed linen and outer garments were washed sparingly.

This lavoir is located under the private home, shown below, and is constantly fed by a spring just a few metres uphill. There was no available information about the history the building. 

Scrubbing, thrashing and wringing out the sodden fabrics involved physical strength, mental stamina and having one’s hands constantly wet - despite the ambient temperature.

Adjacent to notre maison, is a set of stone stairs that descends to the foot of our village, where there is a wash house that would have served the past inhabitants of My French Folly.  The garden is the result of the generosity of the lady who lives opposite the perennial spring on which this washhouse is built.
This stray cat can usually be seen basking in the sun on the leaver walls.

Of course there was also the task of carting the laundry to and from the lavoir on roads that were often unpaved and not necessarily flat. The 3 lavoirs in our French village are located at the bottom of the hills - on which most houses are perched - where water continuously flows from underground springs.

*Lavoirs were communal spaces - often roofed -  in which the public could wash clothes. They were commonly used throughout Europe for hundreds of years before the advent of household laundries.  

Stepping into the cool dampness of this washhouse provided a welcomed relief from the heat outside.
A private washing "sink" located in an isolated hamlet in eastern France.

There is a school of carp of varying sizes that inhabits the waters under this roof.

The 2 images above are of a washhouse in an un named hamlet nestled in the hills around Louhans. 

Each time I descend this set of steps that winds downhill from My French Folly, and pass the lavoir that sits at its feet, my mind drifts to the past inhabitants of our French home. Water and sanitation had never been connected to our house when we purchased it.  The installation of these modern amenities was a costly exercise, fraught with unforeseen complications.

Twilight as we walked past the nearest lavoir to commence our climb  home, after a delightful
apero with some local friends.


Saturday, 15 April 2017

Joyeuses Pâques

The  familiar, rich tones of church bells,blanketing our village and scattering into the surrounding fields and forests, are absent today. It's disorientating as their recurring presence signposts every quarter hour of my life in France. However, come Easter Sunday, their comforting chimes will be restored once more.  

People respond when you tell them there is a great future in front of you, you can leave your past behind. Joel Osteen

The significance and traditions of this time of year very greatly around the world, but what cobbles them together, is an atmosphere of gratitude and renewal.

For me personally, it is a time to give thanks as well as a time of love, hope, and rebirth. The traditions that I observe at this time of year, both religious and non religious, help to anchor my life. 

Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being. Morris Joseph

Joyeuses Pâques


Monday, 3 April 2017

A New Chapter Begins

A new chapter in our family history has just begun with the recent marriage of our daughter.

Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage
Lao Tzu 

May God be with you and bless you.
May you see your children's children.
May you be poor in misfortunes and rich in blessings. 
May you know nothing but happiness from this day forward.
An Irish Blessing

Sunday, 25 September 2016

French bulldog with Attitude

Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak Rachel Zoe
I don't do fashion. I am fashion. Coco Chanel
The best thing about a man is his dog. 
French proverb 

Life is an attitude ………….

Friday, 16 September 2016

Autumn in France - a new experience

1 September. North-east France
From my bed, the morning sky is noticeably different – nature has removed the familiar, saturated hues from the sky. Dull, white and grey clouds fuse together to obliterate the insipid blue backdrop.  There’s a "nip in the air": a different coldness to that of a cool summer’s day. It appears that while I was sleeping, a deity has flicked the weather-switch from “l'été”  to “l'automne”. 
The hollow sounds of my foot steps on the stairs linger a little longer than usual as I descend the wooden 
spiral to commence my daily routine: open shutters; a cup of tea; bathroom rituals; boulangerie; a croissant and coffee on the terrace. 

But today I falter as the tatty, internal shutters of the sitting room are flung aside: familiar village roof tops are revealed, but strikingly with unfamiliar thin wisps of smoke hanging above their chimney stacks. No movement - just perfectly still. 
Something else is awry – the feathered acrobats that keep us entertained each morning and evening are missing. Squinting, I can just make out their motionless silhouettes across the valley – a row of small dots along the spine of the church roof. 
Opening the terrace door I investigate further: no familiar morning kiss from a timid dawn breeze.  The air is paralysed - devoid of any movement or sound; its chill has mingled with the herbaceous scents of damp foliage, proclaiming “summer’s over”.  I stand transfixed by the canvas before me. Such a dramatic change. So sudden. So unfamiliar. The motionless smoke continues to play statues. I stare, “perhaps I’ll catch it out?” I stare further.  No. 
Time stops. I feel at one with the world; utterly content; incredibly grateful. first autumn in France.


Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Melbourne’s Autumn brings Back a French Summer

The start of autumn this week has seen the return of summer heat to Melbourne, with skies and light reminiscent of our summers in north-east France. A recent discussion during dinner had us recalling the first July we spent at our house in France - an unforgettable event.

Late July: our first French Summer

Plaster dust, spider webs – old and new, airborne grime generated by decades of neglect, and reconstituted glue from soggy pieces of wallpaper, manage to amalgamate with perspiration generated by the summer heat, to form a sticky coating on our skin.

Empty glasses and water bottles litter the deep, buckled windowsill. Actions are laboured, but spurred on by the limited time available to renovate this minuscule room – a task that appeared to be straight forward and quick, but is now proving otherwise.

There is no movement in the village. Lunchtime has extended into a siesta as patches of bitumen on the road start to resemble tacky molasses. Charlie and Kenzo, our neighbour’s cats, lie splayed in the cool under the lone conifer that stands like a sentinel to the cluster of houses in our ancient ruelle (lane).

Unexpectedly the faint sounds of plodding hooves pierce the silence, echoing as they rise from the street that sits in the valley below. Inquisitively I poke my head out of the second storey window while straddling its sill – a precarious move.  Nothing new in the landscape to report.

As the sounds grow louder, the shouting of children becomes faintly audible. Peering left through the breaks in the tree-tops, I get a brief glimpse of the scene below just before a parade of tired, hot bodies becomes fully visible.

A young boy, perhaps 10 or 11 years old, leads a pony on a slackened reign. Like his 2 friends trailing him, he’s abandoned his saddle. A fourth pony, head drooping and strapped into a cart harness, slowly edges into the picture.
The poor animal is pulling a tatty canvas covered wagon, reminiscent of those of the Wild West, albeit smaller and in proportion to the creature’s size. 

My pity for this equine slave soon gives way to warm amusement as the rear of the cart and source of the high pitched voices, come into view. Pushing the wooden structure up the road’s steep incline, and almost parallel to the ground themselves, are 2 small lads, shirtless and gasping for breath amidst their encouraging shouts to their hoofed companion up front..........The doors to my childhood memories are prised gently open.

My husband now joins me at the window.  “How stupid to be riding in this heat, but what a great adventure” I mutter. “Oh to be young again.” “ But we are young, and a touch foolish – look what we’re doing!” he chortles as he deposits a sticky kiss on my damp, grime-encrusted face......
Life alters quickly when one’s perspective changes!

One clean and painted room - small, but mighty significant
for us.