Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Hat Trick!!!

The nearest sizeable town to Giverny is Vernon, which lies along the banks of the Seine . Full of lovely old buildings and also home to Chateau de Bizy . The Chateau is surrounded by lovely parklands But what really caught my eye was this

Up !!

And Down !!

This view could be seen from the front terrace of the house, through the windows , across the inner courtyard and through the archway in the stable block - all in a completely straight line!!!

The Chateau is privately owned and, according to our guide, suffered a lot of damage during WWII and is still being renovated - that has to be a labour of love!!!

I really think that's it for today folks, time to turn my thoughts towards the more mundane like cooking dinner !!!

Back on Track!

Just to show that I am still in the game, four blocks finished today

First three are all from the Love Letters book

Top : Awful Tragedy & Numerous Excuses
Btm : Privilege of Communication

The next block is from the Civil War Diaries book, and is only here because a very special lady made my wish come true !!

Old Abe Lincoln!

Thank You Kathie !! You have been very, very generous !!!

Monet's Gardens

I don't quite know how to begin describing the visit to Giverny!! It was a wonderful experience and everything lived up to our expectations ! Warm sunny weather, great lodgings at the 17th century water mill, good food (and wine!!) and genial company and then the gardens!!! There is no way to adequately describe the explosion of colours that appeared around each turn of the paths so I think I'll just let the photos tell their own story! These are just a few of over 200 that I took - what did we do before digital cameras!! I really have to make an effort and put the rest of them and those from the Chateau de Versailles onto a Picasso album - but that's for another day!!

View of the gardens from Monet's bedroom window - the water garden is behind the hedges.

Then there was THE Bridge!

and the house !

No photos were allowed inside the house which is a great shame as the rooms were as colourful as the gardens. ( As you can see, almost impossible to get any photos without someone else in the frame!!) We were actually quite lucky as we got to the gardens early in the morning and missed most of the coach loads of tourists that were arriving by the minute!! But how could you not want to share this with the whole world!! One thing is certain - I will be back in June next year to see the roses bloom, but after almost 4 hours of walking the gardens I started to feel like this I must admit!!!

Didn't find him in Giverny but quite nearby - but isn't he just so cute !!

Back to reality now, and on with the sewing!!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Two posts in one day !! Well - I almost forgot the other reason I went into the garden this afternoon was to take this photo - finished at last!!!

Not the best photo in the world, but as the quilt turned out bigger than I expected and this was the only way to fit the whole thing in !! It isn't quite flat as I didn't want to get it dirty - obviously had I thought things through properly (!!) I should have put a sheet under it - ah well, never too old to learn !!

I found the pattern here, and really liked the alternative layout at the bottom of the page. I didn't imagine that all those browns and tans that somehow kept on getting pushed to the back of the drawer would end up looking like this - I am quite pleased with it!!

Spring !Spring !!Spring !!!

Yes - it rather looks as though Spring may have arrived here in Brittany at last (well at least for a few days !!!) Yesterday and today we have been treated to blue skies and glorious sunshine - I just hope it holds up for another few days for our trip to Normandy tomorrow!!

Mother Nature must certainly think that it is well overdue also, as she has suddenly put on a lovely show of spring flowers in our garden!! The recent heavy rains and low temperatures haven't deterred these little beauties !!
Bluebells & Lillies of the Valley

Primulas & Cowslips
Forget-Me-Not (DH's favourites!!)
Anemone and Monkshood

And last but not least - even some Cherry Blossom !!
What a difference a little bit of sunshine makes to everyone's life !!!

Monday, 21 April 2008

Quilt Blocks Galore!!!!

You know, I didn't realise how many CWD & LL blocks I have actually made and it came as quite a shock when I put them all together to take a photo as suggested by Kathie yesterday.

You can see that there are a LOT of them even if the photo isn't very good!! The light is so bad that you'd think it was evening time (!) that's because it is a grey dismal day here in Brittany - in fact our 'delightful' weather is back with a vengence, it hasn't stopped raining all week!!!!!

This has been a good exercise for me for a couple of reasons. Firstly, there are a few blocks that I think I will remake either because the colours don't seem right or that the block now looks far from accurate (!!) These must be blocks put together when I have been tired (Well that's my excuse!!) Another thought is how big ? I long ago admitted to myself that I would not be able to cope with a quilt made from 121 blocks, plus sashings & borders, and that I would need to make a decision where to stop - think this time is fast approaching !! Of course, the other alternative is to keep on making blocks and end up with more than one quilt, what do you think ? I've really enjoyed this project ,with just one regret - no Abe Lincoln block, but I will keep on trying to find a way to reproduce a reasonable copy of the fabric as no way will I find it in France !!

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Miniature v Doll Quilts

Knowing next to nothing about miniature/doll quilts, what do I do - join not one but two swaps !!! Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time and 'small' quilts can't be that difficult. WRONG! The first think to throw me was to discover that there is a difference between the two, so I asked my trusty friend Google to explain and it seems that even Google can't tell the difference as I get the same info for 'miniature' as I do for 'doll'!! I am sure that somewhere there is a clear explanation of the finer points, but so far I have failed to find it - to say that I am confused is putting it mildly!!! I will certainly have to sort it out in my head before starting the quiltie due in July !

Luckily the List Mom for the first swap has kindly moved the goal post to 'anything goes' as long as it meets all other criteria such as size etc (Thank You Toni !) so I have spent all my sewing time over the last few days trying to get it done before I go into hospital. The due date isn't until 23 May, but I don't want to be worrying about deadlines after the end of the month. All is finished except for the quilting and I think it has turned out quite well. Can't post any photos yet I'm afraid its to be a surprise.

This project is a whole list of 'firsts' for me, - my first 'small' quilt: my first quilt swap: my first real test working well outside my comfort zone as far as colour goes : my first mitred corners (!!) and the first time anyone is going to be on the receiving end of my feeble attempts to machine quilt (Sorry Partner !!!).

Just a little explanation - I have failed to download the link for the Miniature Booty Swap Logo, for some reason or another Blogger keeps telling me that the photo has been removed (!!). No problem linking to ALQS at all so don't know what is wrong

So - no CWD blocks this week-end , but I have finished the binding on the Coffee & Cream quilt and it's now ready for washing - just need the rain to stop for a few days to get it dry again !!!!!!

Thursday, 17 April 2008

More Treats!

As it is more than possible I will be spending my birthday in hospital in 2 weeks time (!) we're going to squeeze in another treat before then and go and visit Monet's garden at Giverny for a couple of days next week . Again something we've been meaning to do for simply ages, but keep postponing because other things get in the way !

At the begining of the year, we decided to make more of an effort to visit all the lovely places that are just that bit too far to go there and back in a day and, as the next 4 months seem to be filling up rather quickly, with a 3 week visit to the UK and family & friends coming and going all summer - now seems like a good time to see the gardens. Hopefully all the spring flowers will be blooming, and whilst it probably won't be quite as spectacular as July/August, it will certainly be less crowded, which is always a bit of a bonus!! As it is partly my birthday treat, we have decided to spend the night here - isn't it just lovely!!!

One other treat today was the arrival of a package of fabric for my next quilt project. I haven't taken a photo, as all the fabrics are shown in the link . Don't know quite when it will get started, as I have several other bits and pieces to finish first, but at least I am ready to go!!!

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

A Rose by Any Other Name

Occasionally in Rennes we have English language films shown at the local cinemas and last week The Other Boleyn Girl, based on Phillipa Gregory's book of the same name, was advertised so off we went to see it on Saturday. We did actually cause a bit of a stir at the cinema, marching up to the cash desk , asking for tickets and being met by a blank stare ! Now I know that my French can be lacking at times, but my accent is not usually that bad !! Right on cue, the manager came bustling up and tried to help us in his lovely English learnt from watching MTV (his words not mine!!) and very apologetically assured us that the film was not showing at his cinema. With this he promptly pulled out the brochure listing all programmes to convince me of this fact, and -guess what - the the first thing I saw was a film titled 'Deux Soeurs pour Un Roi' which translates into 'Two Sisters for a King' AKA 'The Other Boleyn Girl' !! Who said there is nothing in a name !!!! Ever tried explaining English history (in French !!) to someone in the middle of a cinema vestibule - not recommended and it certainly generated the second lot of blank looks of the day !! It was an excellent programme though and well worth the hassle !!

We 've a couple additions to our equine family - Megan has aquired 2 yearlings to share the pasture with her and Wraneze for the next couple of weeks - and she is NOT amused!!! This normally placid & laid-back mare has suddenly gone mental and turned into a snarling, teeth gnashing (and biting!) nightmare !! I should mention though it is only when the ponies invade her personnal space and particulary at feeding times , but what a revelation !!! But then , perhaps she is not too unlike any of us more mature ladies (!) when we have teenagers bugging us - I certainly have to admit to some teeth gnashing on a few occassions, but haven't yet started to try and take a bite out of the offender!!!

Ooops!! Almost forgot - the blocks! Just 4 this time and all from the Love Letters book.

Top: Healthful Region & A Lonesome Place

Btm: Funeral Procession & Queen of the West

Friday, 11 April 2008

Dawn Patrol

I think I have already mentioned that the area around Megan's pasture is a maze of little lanes or chemins ? Now that the mornings have 'recovered' from the hour changeover to Summer time in terms of when it gets light, I like to go check on the mare first thing every morning, which at the moment means around 7.30am. This is a lovely time of the day when everything is just waking up and at the moment with Spring trying really hard to get a grip on the countryside it is even more fresh and unspoiled! In spite of the very cold morning temperatures for this time of the year (currently -4 degrees!) ,there are signs of new greenery on the trees, catkins here and there and even the wild cherry trees are sporting the odd blossom not to mention the banks of primroses !! One other thing that is great is the 'wild life' that shows up in the early hours before the tractors take over their world. France is a country that has a great hunting tradition so there is not a profusion of wild life unfortunately, and this makes my experiences even more special ! In the last few days I have come across what I think is a water rat or vole swimming in the stream. It is quite a big animal, around the size of a cat or so it appears, but I couldn't get close enough to it to identify it properly - but boy, could it swim!!! Then yesterday there was this great, wonderful hare that came leaping out of the field onto the track, stopped dead, saw me and there shot away at a rate of knots. I thought it was a small fox for a moment as it crossed the field, then I saw the ears when it sat up and realised what it was. Two green woodpeckers were also abroad yesterday and today to complete my week, a small deer and a pair of ducks - the drake was so colourful and really outshone his mate!! So you see - the early bird does have more fun than just catching the worm!!!

Nothing to show on the sewing side of things I'm afraid. Yesterday kind of disappeared with cardiology checkups for DH, which I have to attend as 'official interpreter' (!), and happily all was well, and then the weekly shopping round finished off the day. I have almost completed the quilting of my brown scrappy quilt AT LAST - this top seems to have been jinxed as every time I've tried to get on with it, something has stopped me! Just one small section to quilt and then the binding, so who knows perhaps I will have one less UFO before too long !!! I have been very adventurous - I have joined 2 small quilt swaps!! This is something new for me and as usual I wonder if I have done the right thing (!!), but hey!! - what's to loose, rather more to gain I think, as I am sure it will bring me more pleasure than grief and hopefully some new cyber friends!!!

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Quick Fix !

I know! I know!! I said no more for the time being, but its easier said than done as these little blocks just won't be ignored, so just a quick fix to feed my habit!!!

CWD : Visit to Town : Guerilla Warfare
Southern Cause

LL: Single Thrashing
Forgotten the Word Defeat : A Sad Bereavement
Do not ask me why the second photo is upsidedown (!) obviously I have done something stupid AGAIN - but I don't have time to change it now!!!
How's this for a bank of primroses !!

Monday, 7 April 2008

Chateau de Versailles

Well - The visit certainly lived up to all expectations and was well worth the 4 hour drive to get there! The Chateau itself is magnificent, I really can't find enough adjectives to describe it! The presentation was superb and you can only imagine the amount of work that has gone into restoring it to its present state! The time spent tracking down furniture and other objects that were removed during the Revolution must run into millions of man hours, but the results speak for themselves,each room was a delight !!!

We were luck to have made the trip during the low season as it meant no big queues for tickets or entry. It also meant that we could take our time enjoying all there was to see without being hustled along , and believe me there is plenty to see!!

The parklands and gardens surrounding the Chateau are beautiful , and the views from some the courtyards make you catch your breathe as they tumble away from you ! Fountains, lakes, statues , avenues, groves of trees with even more treasures hidden away - I do believe that you could spend a week exploring and still not discovery everything! We hired a 'golf cart' type of vehicle to get to the furthest points and still didn't managed all of it!!!

My favourite though has to be Petit Trianon and Marie-Antoinette's farm! Even though the house itself is closed for major restoration work, the gardens and parkland surrounding it are just so lovely! Not as manicured as the Chateau gardens, but full of meandering paths leading to hidden temples and grottoes, and the most lovely old trees - bare at the moment, but I am sure they will be magnificent a little later on! Of course, it may not have been so lovely had the weather not been very kind to us and, except for a bit of a cold wind, we had sunshine and blue skies for all of the visit!

The shock came yesterday though when we woke up at home to temperatures of -4 degrees ( a bit of a drop from 17 the day before!!!), snow and hail storms - thankfully the sun came out very late in the afternoon and it did melt away!!!

Needless to say that I have HUNDREDS of photos and it is going to take forever to sort them out, some of them taken inside are a bit disappointing but all the outside shots worked very well.

These are just a few of my favourites, still needing to be edited I'm afraid, but I am sure you'll enjoy them just the same!

Petit Trianon and the Temple of Love
We found this beauty lurking in the grounds of Petit Trianon - I think from the bark & its height that it might be a giant redwood (but don't quote me!), it was certainly tall enough, couldn't get it all in the photo - just see how the lower branches have attached themselves to the ground!Unfortunately none of the specimen trees were labelled . The Magnolias in the background are just starting to pop open.

The Royal Avenue (Tapis Vert) which dates back to the reign of Louis XIII during the 1630s. In the foreground is the Fountain of Latona (mother of Diana & Apollo) protecting her children from the Lycian peasants. This leads you down to the Fountain of Apollo and the Grand Canal, in total more than 3.5 kilometres of uninterrupted view from the window of the King's bedroom !! These are times when I wish I had a better camera!!! (Hint to DH for my birthday perhaps !!!)Couldn't get quite central either as there were so many bodies in the way!!

Back to reality today though, catching up on the washing, ironing etc and , I guess, some sewing (what a chore !!) but at least the sun is shining even if it is rather nippy outside still!!!!

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

More Blocks

Well, everything is in place for a few days in Paris at the Chateau de Versailles http://www.chateauversailles.fr/ (there is an English translation available on the site). Megs and William have been catered for so we can go off without feeling too guilty about leaving them (!!) and I have to say that I am really looking forward to the break !! With a little bit of luck, as the weather forecast so far is 'fair', we might even get to go around the gardens too!

I decided to leave the CWD & LL blocks for a few days and get on with the Pioneer Sampler Quilt blocks - these are now finished, but I am not too happy with the colours of the block representing Louisiana (3rd photo bottom right) as the whole thing seems a bit wishy- washy in comparison to the other blocks. Not that it is easy
to compare with these photos, for some reason they have come out
really dark!!! What wouldn't I give for enough room to have a design wall !!!

Until I make my mind up about 'Lousiana' I am getting on with my other long term project, the Scrappy Log Cabin. I need 120 blocks and so far have made 43. It is a SLOW process as the strips are 5/8" finished width and there seems to be an enormous amount of pressing to do!!! These are just a sample of the blocks so far !

As we will be off at the crack of dawn on Thursday morning, this will probably be my last post until the weekend, but I am sure I will have lots to tell you all and hopefully some great photos!!!