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

Saturday, December 20, 2014

A Message of Peace and Hope


The message of peace and hope can be found in unexpected places.

This week, 17 of my fellow countrymen have been held hostage in the Lindt cafe in Sydney, with 2 of them being killed during the final minutes of the siege. Unimaginable. Sickening. 
The gamut of emotions across the faces of those who have laid flowers at a make shift memorial outside the cafe is heart-wrenching - especially those of the family members of the deceased. An act like this tears at the heart of a community and can catalyse irrational responses. Concerns were expressed of the possibility of racial riots like those experienced in Cronulla, 2005; the first, and hopefully the last in beautiful, multicultural Australia.

Instead of this week's tragic event fuelling fear and hatred within the community, it has galvanised people of all faiths, backgrounds and heritages to come together to support each other, pray and offer the family of the victims their condolences and blessings. Truly heart-warming signs of peace, understanding and hope for the future............a reflection of the Christmas message.






Monday, December 8, 2014

Holding On When You Want to Let Go.


If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading. Lao Tzu

There has been a prolonged silence from Eiffel tells – nothing said since  mid September.
Dreaming of more of this and ...............

Pourqui you ask? A lot of self-reflection and soul searching has been going on here.

Too many years of multi-tasking and angst have taken their toll...... Then there is my newly acquired tinnitus as well as a few other body parts that no longer function properly, creating daily tests for my patience; nothing life threatening, but niggling enough to make me review where I am and where I would like to be at this stage of my life. 

Definitely time for a change of direction. 

After much thought, and unsolicited advice from friends who have already trodden a similar path, I've decided the best course of action would be to change from full time employment to part time, and further develop the skills I need in order to “follow my passions” .

......... and this 
As a mother and wife who has had a career, I’ve put the interests and needs of those whom I love, my friends and my employer first, leaving very little time or emotional energy for myself. Now it’s time for me – in theory, but alas not in practice.

Last month, my employer refused my request to work part time next year– an unusual response as many of my colleagues already have part-time status and most of those who applied concurrently with me to reduce their hours of work, were granted their requests. There has been no explanation for my application being refused. A compromise appears to be feasible, but it’s not to be an option – for me. I have been with my current employer for 25 years.

I haven’t the courage to resign, and to be honest, I’m not sure if it’s feasible and will not know for quite some months. What would you do if you were me – cautious, and nearing the end of your professional life with a burning desire to change direction, but lacking the knowledge or confidence to do so?


Yes, I know I am fortunate to have such a dilemma, but I am no ‘spring chicken’ and the other hens of my age have already flown coop. It’s lonely being the oldest chicken on my perch and I’m being sapped of energy just trying to hold on to the damn thing.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Une Célébration



Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories. Miller Williams

The faint sound of car horns constantly tooting is unfamiliar. Perhaps the gendarmes or pompiers alerting the traffic to make way? The cacophony grows louder before its source is revealed.  

Unexpectedly, a Citroen 2CV cabriolet, festooned in bows, appears around the 
corner of la grande rue. Its windows open and roof folded down, defying the intermittent rain. The female passenger is frantically waving to the empty street, while her male driver has his right hand simultaneously on the steering wheel and horn while making large circular motions with his left arm. Following closely behind the Citroen is a long procession of horn blowing vehicles, each with a bow and occupants who are whooping, cheering or waving. Obviously a celebration.  



The motorcade winds through the village, past the church then down Rue Jean Brugnon while, from our vantage point in the boulangerie, Mr R estimates its length - at least 1.5 kilometres. The noise trails off into the distance long after the last car disappears, leaving us to guess the reason for ces festivités. "C'est une célébration de mariage, bien sûr," explains our neighbour a few days later.


This is the France we want to experience - away from the tourist hot-spots, hotels and charms of Paris. The reason for buying My French Folly. It's the people and rhythm of daily life in les petites villages and countryside that we find truly enchanting.


Marriage brings one into fatal connection with custom and tradition, and traditions and customs are like the wind and the weather, altogether incalculable. Soren Kierkegaard

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………..