Thursday, 29 November 2012

Are you sitting comfortably?

then we'll begin.  Try to pay attention Geordie dear you might find this interesting - no I haven't been on a guided tour of the dog food factory again.

Yesterday my rendez vous with the mangle found me in Loches with time to kill and my trusty Pentax at the ready.  If you're hoping for sewing today you're out of luck but for those of you with more eclectic tastes (wider interests Mary-Sue) we'll press on.
Ah! the fairy tale citadel of Loches.  Think Joan of Arc, think Mary Queen of Scots, think George Sands - think what you like really, it was drizzling and definately taters.  (For my non-Cockney followers thats "taters (potatoes) in the mould = cold" - get it?  Oh well, never mind.)  I wonder how my Japanese friends cope with all this?

My visit coincided with market day - damn and blast - so parking was tricky as I don't much like reversing the van at the best of times.  What do you think of our tasteful decorations - we know how to celebrate here and no mistake.  Bet it looks even more naf at night.
This old dear, yes, the trendy one with the hat, looks like she's just spotted something unpleasant crawl out of the lettuces.  But there again she's French so she'll probably eat it if it has horns and a shell.  Ooh la la c'est formidable!
Talking of eating things, I'm away home now for a nice cup of tea and a cake.  Guess which one I chose - the biggest of course.
Looks like they're all packing up now any way and I don't blame them.  Thought for the day:  How many Maltesers can you get in your mouth in one go?  I was up to 8 when the phone rang and I nearly swallowed the lot in my haste to answer it.  Children under 12 remember to make sure you have a responsible adult with you if you wish to take up the challenge but, hang on a minute, what exactly are you precocious little brats doing reading my blog in the first place.  Whatever next - is nothing sacred.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

And did those feet?

Yes, I'm afraid they did all over the Axminster.  What's more there's another three possibly even worse than this one.

I only popped out this morning to post a couple of orders and pick up some vital supplies during which time my darling Good God decided to occupy himself in the persuit of his latest hobby - open cast mining.  Somebody pass the towel roll quick!

You're right Angela I haven't made any progress at all on The Token because I've been much too excited to sew.  Not only have we had 1340 hits now but like mushrooms you seem to multiply in the night while I sleep.  There are now 21 of you wonderful ladies, sorry Sebastian no offence intended, and I've left the best bit till last, we now have six titled tiaras!  They've been talking of nothing else at Harvey Nicks.  On a sad note however I had to bar young Sarah Ferguson  - it's for the best as I think she'd only be a bad influence on the rest of you , she's way too frivolous.


Goodness, I didn't mean to show you this.  It's a happy snap of some of those SAS lads I told you about the other day who are on manoeuvres in the woods behind my house.  My apologies, I'm quite red faced,  Cover yourself up boys I'll put the kettle on later.
"Pub" in France means all these wonderful brochures, especially this time of year, full of tempting goodies.  They get delivered by the factrice.  Why am I showing you all this? beause it's today's advertising feature.  See all those names - Super U, Leader Price, E Leclerc should be worth a few bonus points on my loyalty cards don't you think.
Tomorrow it's breast scan day so I shall be otherwise occupied but I'm sure you'll find something to do with yourselves in the meantime.

OK lads, you can come out now.  They've gone.  I thought I should never get rid of them.  Now then Tarquin what can I offer you .......

Monday, 26 November 2012

Thank you ma'am.

Yes Mary-Sue I'm speaking to Camilla so don't you go forgetting to curtsey now.  She's put the word out amongst her friends and another anonymous "titled tiara" has joined our gang of followers.  Exciting isn't it?  We're into double figures at last!

I'm currently working on this little beauty.  I find stitching at night in a bad light often produces some interesting results but it's not something I would widely recommend unless, like me, you like to live life on the edge.

This is really just another of my devious advertising tricks and today it's a triple whammee.  Giant blue scissors by some manufacturer in Finland of all places but we'll pass over that because most Fins can't understand what I'm on about half the time.  Beautiful thread from Gentle Art and our featured Long Dog Design is, of course, The Token - still currently available and a "must have" for that Christmas stocking or last minute impulse purchase.


 How can anyone work in this chaos?  Quite easily because when the desk gets too overcrowded things just fall on the floor and the problem solves itself.  This weekend our much-loved, friendly little blog reached another milestone.  Even as I slept the hit counter topped the 1000 mark.  But let's not rest here on our laurels I need you to keep notching up the hits and forcing friends to become followers if necessary because what would be nice is some kind of an award in 2013.  Camilla's up for it so why not you?

Alas the fridge door is now so full of magnets that it might fall from it's hinges at any moment so I've granted myself special planning permission to start colonising the bathroom towel rail.  If you're interested in getting this special photographic effect at home simply stand in your own light and click away.  The technical term for this is "amateur".

Here's a big chunk of grey love for you.  Originally I stood it on a piece of towel roll while the paint dried and now the two have become inseperable.  Who know's it may catch on. 
Let's end here with today's hot tip (gained from bitter experience):  Even if you have only half a load of washing don't be tempted to economise and top it up with a dog blanket.  I now have several "mohair" bra's and some very uncomfortable knickers. 

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Life gets better .....

... and for why?  because my followers are almost into double figures!  At this rate we'll have enough of you for a give-away by 2014.  Stroke me and I respond - here's a picture for you.

What can I say - don't try this at home I'm not convinced that it worked.  Shabby - yes, it's the chic aspect that needs a little more work.  Perhaps blue raffia instead of parcel string.  I musn't be so cheapskate.

This is definately the last lavender bag this year - I really can't be arsed to make any more they're so fiddly so it's into the compost for all the rest of those smelly little flowers.  They seem to go everywhere even if you're very careful and use a spoon.  Well what do you use then Mary-Sue , a corn scoop?  Once again it's only the back view as the recipient prefers to remain anonymous - like some of my latest followers I might add.  I wonder who you are - perhaps it's the Dutchess of Cornwall in cross stitch mode. "By Royal Appointment" has a nice ring to it don't you think.  Enough daydreaming .....

No - not an advert for Whirlpool fridges (perhaps I could look into that later) but two little fridge magnets I made out of scraps using motifs from the Long Dog Sampler design called St Flovier (now that was an ad of the "in your face" variety rather than the "subliminal" which is something else I should look into - how to brainwash your followers.  Have I enough yet for mass hypnotism?)

Let your minds go blank (Mary-Sue you can skip this stage), stare into the centre of my Gentle Art stash (another missed advertising oportunity) and picture yourself entering your local mercerie (needlework shop) hell bent on buying up every single Long Dog in the place.  3-2-1 you're back in the room.  I must keep an eye on the sales figures for next month and see if this new sales ploy is a go'er.

Well that's enough excitement for one day and I have a chicken in need of trussing.  Just a quick breath of fresh air, and as you can see there's plenty of it out the back of Chez-Moi, before I put what's left of the parcel string to better use on this chook.

Thought for the day - do you think the SAS could manage to creep up on me without being seen because I thought I saw something flash over in the woods!

Friday, 23 November 2012

Reasons to rejoice ......

.... which makes a very welcome change and, what's more, there are two of them!  But first a picture for my readers with short attention spans.

A suitably blurry image of the back view of a little lavender bag I made for my new friend.  To show the front would give the game and the identity away and I don't want to do either.  What a little tease I am.  However I will reveal my first reason to rejoice - this morning at first light a flat bed lorry rocked up at my door disgorging not only two ouvriers (French workmen) but equipment which looked like the industrial version of something gynaecological - it was the dredded ramoneurs!  They'd come to sweep my chimney and there was no escape.  I feel another picture coming on.
Well done Mary-Sue of Wyoming, it's a vintage coat hanger and quite a posh one at that.  Nicked no doubt by a distant relative in the late 1930's.  And what am I going to do with it?  Nothing illegal or that would bring tears to your eyes.  I'm going to festoon it with little home-made hearts to brighten up an otherwise dull corner of my bathroom and turn these grotty pipes into a must-have statement of chavvy-chic.  It's an Essex thing. 
Back with the ramoneurs - in France it's obligatory to have the chimney swept every year otherwise the household insurance is not valid.  While the dogs and I cowered in the bedroom they stomped all over the roof and made noises up the flue that I'd prefer to leave to the imagination then after relieving me of a cheque for 65 euros they vanished into the morning mist.  Quick roll on the drums, fanfare of trumpet,and a huge sigh of relief - they left the place spotless. 
Here's one I made earlier and the first of many little "heartlets" I intend making today.  The clapped out old box thing behind I found at our local tip.  I must stop going there as I always end up coming home with more old nonesense than I took.  Reason two - hot on the heels of the sweeps I had a return visit of the heating engineers with the final radiator - and about bloody time too!
I came across this the other day while rummaging in a dark corner (no, they can't touch you for it) and decided to give it a bit of an airing.  It's a Long Dog freebie from 2006 and before you ask, I can't even find my copy of the chart.
The demon twosome managed to fit the radiator, a task which involved even more drilling of holes in walls, and get everything done and tidied away before lunch without so much as even a slight dredging of dust.  I'm feeling a little faint.  I'll just sit down for a moment while you try and guess which Long Dog design this snippet comes from:
While my luck seems to be holding I think I shall nip down to the tabac in the village and buy a couple of scratch cards and in the meantime I want more of you lot to become my followers and friends.  No Mary-Sue of Wyoming to the ends of the earth won't be necessary.  How can I possibly plan exciting give-aways, freebie downloads or competitions for just five of you - oh come on, you can do the maths.  It's like talking to myself so just think on.  Now where did I put those van keys?


Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The lavender's dry ....

.... and it looks like we're in for a storm,

 so it's time to settle down and put all those odds and ends of cotton and bits of material, that just might come in handy one day, to good use at last. Let the lavender bagging begin.

Here's one I made earlier - much earlier.  Patchwork templates come in very handy for drawing out the shapes but pastry cutters or a small plate would do just as well.  In fact anything that's handy and takes your fancy really.

Some of this year's hatchlings still in their nest.  Yes, I do know it's 2012 but somehow 2013 appeared when I wasn't concentrating.  I'm waiting for the fairy helpers to come and sew these all together overnight for me - that's the bit I don't like doing - but they seem to be off partying in town.

I must have a word with the cleaner, just look at the dust on poor old Buddah, people will talk!  Don't attempt the heart shape unless you're sober and have plenty of patience, this one gave me quite a run for my money and flew across the room a couple of times before it was finished.

Well, that's it for today and nothing but cross stitch for a change however the temptation to tell you about the resulting chaos yesterday when the workmen disturbed a hornets nest that had been hiding in the kitchen chimney was almost too much for me to bear.  I haven't seen men shift so fast since the Olympics. 

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

"Don't worry" they said .....

...."we won't be making any mess."  Heating Engineers, much like Ratcatchers, also come in two's but their van's aren't quite so conspicuous and their overalls are blue.  What both also have in common is a tendancy towards understatement.

Before you could cry "Cover the food" or, indeed "Where are the dust sheets" a veritable tidal wave of fine white powder and grit swept the kitchen through a hole which had only seconds ago appeared in the outside wall.

Minutes later the entire ground floor had morphed into a war zone and I was half expecting a front-line, flack-jacketed news reporter, clutching a microphone to step out from behind the bookcase and begin doing a piece to camera.
"Sod this for a game of soldiers" I thought using a phrase which stems from my childhood.  Heat pump installation can seriously ruin a girl's day.  Nice tool by the way.
Keep your eye on things here Geordie, I'm off down the garden to eat worms and should anyone call just tell them all invitations to dine chez-moi this week have been put on hold!  I promise to do something cross-stitchey soon.


Monday, 5 November 2012

Rats - the continuing story

You'll be safe in my kitchen so park your bum, admire my tangerines, and I will regale you with The Ratcatcher's Tale (nearly put "tail").

It was the van cruising by which first caught the eye with rather fetching artwork proclaiming the French equivalent of "Death to all Rodents"  which left any curious neighbour in no two minds as to what was going on.  The doors slid open and out they sprang (yes - they come in twos) and hastily donned their bio-hazard suits.
Nice jugs by the way.
It turned out to be an ageing husband and wife team, she bearing an uncanny resemblance to Mo Harris in Eastenders - I must remember to check the silver.  They made their way upstairs as fast as their arthritic knees would allow and after a series of Oo la la's and a couple of slightly more sinister Ho lo los they announced that I had not only rats but a huge infestation of mice and evidence of "loire".  Yes, I'm away to Google that one a bit smartish.
Help - we're trapped in the bookcase - sorry, I digress.
They duly laid various types of bait some of which involved crawling inside cupboards on their hands and, yes - you got it, arthritic knees.  Then with a hasty glance at their watches, the flourish of a hefty bill and a firm shaking of hands all round (remind me to wash mine) they leapt into their Ratmobile and screeched off for the sacred two-hour French lunch having promised to return in quinze jours (2 weeks to you and me).
  Spot the Emma Bridgewater.
The answers to yesterday's Turd Recognition Quiz are (a) rat, (b) loire and the jury is still out on the teeth marks.  Tomorrow promises to be fun as the men are coming to fit a heat pump.  What could possible go wrong?
And finally, for those amongst you who like a bit of old tat - I picked this up at the brocante last week for a song.  Knowing my luck it'll probably turn out to be infested with something unpleasant!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Noises from on high!

You know how it goes, pitch black, middle of the night, middle of the country, neighbours away and you wake to noises from above and we've already just had Halloween.  I quickly dismissed the thought that it could be  my late husband David trying to contact me from the other side and then the dogs both began growling, their hackles rose and I knew I had no choice but to investigate.

Summoning what cheerful cockney spirit I could muster and with my old dressing gown wrapped about me to keep out the cold I paused briefly to add the final touch of a pair of bicycle clips, that just happened to be handy, to the bottoms of my pyjamas.  We're very chic in France even in a crisis

Why I felt the need to creep up the stairs to the grenier which runs the full length of the house I can't really explain but I crept.  And why I used a torch instead of putting the lights on is another unfathomable.  I pushed up the trapdoor and not so tiny feet scampered everywhere and the smell that hit me I'm far too polite a blogger to describe but it certainly made my eyes water.  Just look at the hole the critters have gnawed in the big oak door.  Does nothing hold them back?
What's more turds everywhere.  This is where I turn to the naturalists amongst you for help with identification of the culprits.  The smart money's on rats.  I think the recent cold spell may have driven them in off the fields around the house.  Discretion being the better part of valour I beat a hasty retreat downstairs to regroup or whatever lone operators do in such circumstances.

Morning finally dawns only to reveal the full extent of the damage.  All my clothes (which had been temporarily stored upstairs during David's illness to allow more room for hospital type equipment and a continuous stream of medical personnel to move about freely) have been contaminated, not to mention bedding, towels, soft furnishings and, of course, the beds themselves.  It must have been like Gremlins at the cinema.  But worst of all the rotten little gits have been in my Long Dog stock which will now all need to be replaced.  Those whom the gods wish to destroy they must first send mad - this quotation now begins to make sense.
Enough about "crottes" as we call them, there's even a goats cheese of the same name over here and you'd immediately know why should you ever come across one.  How do you think my orchids are looking and can you spot the fake one I slipped in for a joke?  It's the spotty one on the far right.
The rat catcher cometh - Monday afternoon to be precise so stay tuned.