Photographs by Elizabeth, unless otherwise stated. Do not reproduce without permission, please.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Truffle Hunter

The corner of Guillaume's workshop
Guillaume is the quintessential Frenchman. Charming with a commitment to la bonne vie and a quick sense of humour.  He is well versed in many and varied topics and quite handsome.

Guillaume is also a stonemason par excellence: an old school artisan with skills that are sadly disappearing in France. His work can be found in all manner of ancient buildings across the country, including a few famous cathedrals and chateaux ……….and now in My French Folly.

An invitation to his meticulously restored maison revealed an enormous hand-built wood fired oven in the kitchen, a productive orchard and potager and a decent sized cellar systematically packed to the ceiling with wonderful French wines, (all reds) according to their origin. 

The subterranean cellar air was noticeably crisp and held a faint aroma of ripened fruits. Standing in the centre of this vast cave was a refractory table on which sat enormous, old glass and earthenware bottles of home made brandy and jars of preserved Tuber uncinatums –  truffles………. the size of tennis balls! 

Conversation quickly turned to cooking and truffle hunting.
Courtesy of wikipedia.org.

Yes Guillaume truffle hunts in the surrounding forests. No, he doesn’t forage with others, nor does he use a truffle pig or hound. And no, the truffles aren’t always located in the same area. The obvious question had to be asked, “How do you find them?’
Courtesy of wikipedia.org.


His eyes glinted as he gently tapped his nose and replied “mon nez”! A joke? Apparently not, according to his wife. Guillaume is so attuned to le terroir that he has no need for aids to root out his prized culinary gems.……..l'art de vivre à la français.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Weekend Reflections - Paris

Paris is always a good idea.  Audrey Hepburn
Establishments showcasing the understated elegance of contemporary French design can be found scattered amongst the superb antique shops of the 7th arrondissement. The artisans in the shop (above) specialise in the gilding of all types of objects - from ancient to modern. A stroll through this area of Paris offers a feast for the eyes and food for the imagination………..as well as luscious temptations for your taste buds when you your feet need a rest. 


 Visit Weekend Reflections for some interesting reflections from other bloggers.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Realise Your French Dream- House for sale

In the heart of France, midway between Paris and Zurich, within easy access to the rest of Europe is a "ready to move into holiday home in a glorious, rural location".  

If you are a lover of fine food, wine, sking, other outdoor pursuits, history or architecture, this region of 
France has it all on its door step. 

As well as the tiny asking price, 60 000 euros the current owners/ residents  are happy to act as your personal,  multi lingual (French, English and German) caretakers to watch over your French dream if required, and manage holiday lets if you want to make some money when it's not in use. 

On a personal note, during the last 12 months the vendors of this house have helped us turn our French nightmare back into our French dream. My French Folly is getting a new lease on life and starting to look loved.
Visit this website for further pictures and details. 


Saturday, May 24, 2014

French + Vintage….yes please

The bleak skies, strong winds and intermittent rain had me perplexed when Mr. R, ensuring that I was warmly clothed with a brolly in hand, unexpectedly bundled me into the car one Saturday morning. Destination unknown.
As we navigated our way past beachside cafes and through the vibrant inner city precincts, the favourite haunts of this weekend flâneur were being rapidly eliminated as possible places for our journey’s end.
My mental guessing game stopped abruptly while crossing the Westgate bridge. I was flummoxed. The mystery further deepened when the car halted at the water's edge in Williamstown and Mr. R produced my camera, which he had carefully hidden.

A short walk and le voilà - a vintage French car show staged in a shipping yard. .…. shear ecstasy for a husband who loves tinkering with motors and bliss for this lover of French vintage - well almost bliss. The crowds proved to be a definite challenge for taking 'that perfect shot'! Despite this test of my patience, I was one very happy francofilly.


For more black and white photography please top by The Weekend in Black and White,  and if you appreciate images of reflections  reflections you may wish to visit Weekend Reflections. 


Monday, April 21, 2014

Scart House, Ireland

All photographs in this post are courtesy of C & K Bohm

Have you an eye for beauty, a sense of romance, a love of history, and a desire to step away from the pressures of urban living – your own private, idyllic retreat for weekends, holidays or perhaps even permanently?


Do you desire a place with spectacular ocean and mountain views that is only metres from waves kissing a pristine, deserted beachMaybe you need a break from the public spotlight?

I'm home a lot. 
Because I live in Ireland, we can live under the celebrity radar. 
I might go missing for a whole year.
Bono

Then my friends' rare, lovingly restored, Georgian, 6 bedroom residence in South Kerry,Ireland, may be just the perfect place for you. 


Claire and Karlheinz Bohm purchased Scart House with a vision of turning it into their permanent, family home. 



Over a 10-year period Claire and Karlheinz had been meticulously bringing this Georgian gem back to life using Karlheinz’s professional stonemason’s skills as well as the skills of local craftsmen. 

However, life has unpredictably changed direction for the Bohm family. They no longer can be the custodians of Scart House so it has been put up for sale (at a relatively small price for this Georgian piece of history). Scart House, now in structurally pristine condition, is waiting for someone with a passion for decorating to make make it the glorious home it could be. 

For more images, information and benefits about Scart house you can contact Claire and Karlheinz directly, drop by the Scart House website or visit it in person. 

Irelands loss of this delightful family has been France's gain as the Bohm family now reside "just down the road" from My French Folly where they now look after a dependent elderly family member. 

If you haven't yet visited the above links to Scart house, you can see it by clicking here.

Please note that I do not stand to benefit from the sale of Scat House and I am not a real estate agent. I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you some Irish beauty (and perhaps be a catalyst for someone else's dream become a reality). 
Claire's direct contact details are: cblakebohm@gmail.com
May the sun shine, all day long,

everything go right, and nothing wrong.

May those you love bring love back to you,

and may all the wishes you wish come true!
An Irish blessing




Friday, April 4, 2014

Making Connections & Harleys


Not only does blogging enable connections to be made between similar spirited people from around the globe, it also enables established friends to connect in new and different ways. 

Debbie is a close friend whom I often see during the week. She is a botanical artist who shares my passion for photography and the creative arts. Despite the hours spent together and our many conversations, Debbie was unaware of my love for taking pictures of bikes, (people powered, or motorised, but especially Harleys), until she read one of my recent blog posts.

Apparently her brother-in-law, a privately educated fellow who works in the
business end of town, swaps his suit for his Harley leathers to ride to and from work (Harley fanatic meets Clark Kent mode) and lives to go cruising on his beast in the weekends. 

Uncannily, I've snapped one of his Harleys when I spotted a closet of bikers parked outside a pub …..it was parked nearby this very mean machine.   

Life is full of co-incidences ………..


Bon week-end.



Saturday, March 29, 2014

Man on the Ground = A Rat up a Drain Pipe

Before local friends came to our rescue.
Thank you to those of you who have contacted me for an update about the situation with our house in France. 

The renovations to My French Folly have been a farce. My Man on the Ground, an Englishman, and his "company" resemble something from a slap stick Laurel and Hardy movie, instead of the slick professional crew that they claim to be. Unfortunately I'm not laughing.

It appears that this husband and wife team exploit the fact that many overseas buyers of property in France aren't on site, can't effectively speak the language or don't understand the French building rules and regulations. Their ability to look clients in the eye and repeatedly lie without flinching, is deserving of an Academy Award. 

Embarrassingly, I am one of many people who have been taken for a ride.  After the damage was done to My French Folly at the hands of this charlatan and his wife, I read that he was taken to court, but suffered no loss for his wrong doings, as the rogue had arranged his finances so he was penniless.  Despite the court proceedings, inexplicably in a country renowned for its officialdom, this English couple are still running the same business,  flouting the law and managing to scramble up the proverbial drainpipe with well orchestrated, emotive excuses when their clients become suspicious. 
Work is now in progress. Mr R is making our 
shutters and a French stonemason (one of our 
local guardian angels) has commenced 
repairing the stone work. The new external 
stairs were a welcomed surprise when we 
arrived last summer. 
Since our renovation debacle, I have learnt a lot about siret numbers, the French building system and French law -   and my language skills relating to renovation and legal matters have improved quickly.
Stairs being rebuilt last year by one of our friends - a true French artisan.

With generous support  from the local community, we are now working with talented French artisans to rectify the myriad of problems à ma maison,  albeit slowly. 
There has been a temporary lull in my quest to make this couple of scoundrels accountable for their actions due to the unfortunate events of 2013, but the chase is not over………..

Friday, March 21, 2014

Weekend Reflections - Lac de Charmes, France

I always say that the times in my life when I've been happiest are the times when I've seen, like, a sunset. Chris Evans
SUNSET, LAC DE CHARMES, Haute Marne, France
When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator. Mahatma Gandhi
SUNSET, LAC DE CHARMES
Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add colour to my sunset sky. Rabindranath Tagore 
ONSET OF SUNSET LAC DE CHARMES
Lost yesterday, somewhere between sunrise and sunset, 2 golden hours, each with 60 diamond minutes. No reward is offered because they are gone forever. Horace Mann

Another weekend when I'm joining  Weekend Reflections. Drop by Jame's blog  for some visual treats.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Reflections: Chateau d'Azay - le - Rideau

Do not worry if you have built castles in the air. They are where they should be. Now put the foundations under them. David Henry Thoreau
Once again, I am joining Weekend Reflections. Click here to see the reflections of others.

CHATEAU D’AZAY-LE-RIDEAU - Loire Valley, France

While meandering through the grounds of Chateau Azay-le-Rideau, absorbing the tranquil beauty of its gardens, a reflection of this charming renaissance castle framed by foliage, came into view. 


Built between 1521 and 1523, during the reign of Francoise 1, Chateau Azay-le-Rideau is considered to be the "jewel of the French Renaissance". Its interior  is dominated by the ornately  embellished grand staircase on which the influence of Italian architecture is clearly evident. Chateau Azay-le-Rideau may be a comparatively small chateau on the Loire valley landscape, but it is definitely worth a visit.

                         Click here to view all participants of Weekend Reflections. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Panama-mania in Provence …….Weekend Reflections

Panama-mania at my favourite provençal market.
Our Panama hats, purchased at this market hat stall in Provence, have finally gone into hibernation until our winter solstice, when they will be retrieved and whisked off to France to enjoy the summer sun. 

Although renown for creating and exporting distinctive, refined fashion since the the seventeenth century, the French also have "an eye" for spotting items of elegance, style and superb craftsmanship  from other cultures.  Fashion that is now entrenched in the French culture, such as Panama hats and bright provençal fabrics, have their origins far from the azure seas of France. 

The exhibition of the toquilla hat at the 1855 World Fair in Paris by the Frenchman Philippe Raimond, a resident of Panama, is credited for making this finely woven Ecuadorian hat - "the Panama", a chic, obligatory fashion accessory of the rich and famous. 

P.S. This is not my elbows in the mirror, but that of a person trying on a hat.  I have used a zoom and I am way off to the left of this image.