Saturday 28 September 2019

A Glorious Garden

On our recent holiday in France we came across a wonderful garden in a small village and enjoyed our visit there so much that we resolved to bring the big and small gorgeous grandsons there when they came to visit.

The "Jardin du Coq" starts as a series of small rooms, the boudoir had a dressing table and chair with this striking blue mirror above it.

Propped up outside the trellis of the boudoir was this equally striking blue bike.

Beyond the rooms (and a child size maze, which our grandson loved and I forgot to take a photo of!) the garden opens out into a set of themed gardens. The "Dame Blanche" garden above was laid out like a chequers/drafts board with card suit ironwork in the surrounding path.

When we first visited the lavender had not been cut and visitors were invited to cut their own bunches. Sadly we had not come prepared and on our second visit with the grandsons the lavender stalks had disappeared :( The scent on the warm, sunny day of our first visit with the lavender in bloom was glorious! Next year we will go prepared.

 Our favourite part of the garden and the one that we were keen to show the gorgeous grandsons, was the wild wood. To enter we had to tiptoe past the sleeping crocodile,

 and introduce ourselves, very gingerly, to the woodland dragon! Our grandson was not too sure about him at first :)

 He loved counting the magic hoops

 was reassured by the Samurai warrior guarding the Dragon

 and had great fun finding and counting the faces hidden amongst the trees!
The adults had fun reading the messages written on roof tiles scattered around the paths

 and treating themselves to a couple of bottles of Rose and Lavender water distilled from the bushes in the garden :). The Lavender tea from those bushes was delicious too, although my DH was not so keen.

 In the tiny museum above the entrance to the garden  I came across this sewing machine and, of course, had to share the photo!

We had two lovely afternoons here and even though it was at the end of what has been a long, dry summer in France, the garden was still beautiful and we cannot wait to visit again in the Spring.

If you have visited somewhere New to You this month too link it up to this month's New to Me link party. I am always on the lookout for recommendations!

Wednesday 25 September 2019

Feathers and Faded Grandeur

Have you tried anything out for the first time this month? If you have, you are in the right place to share your triumphs (or tribulations!) as another New to Me link party opens for submissions today.

My New to Me's in September are a bit of a mixed bag, but aren't they always :)

I used a New to Me "fabric" - cereal packet inner - to provide "crinkle" for my ribbon tag toy for the smaller gorgeous grandson.

I had a go at creating a hat for the bigger gorgeous grandson to go with the woodcutter's outfit I also made, but as you can see whilst it sort of fits it wasn't exactly what I had hoped for, so that one might have to be revisited!

A while ago I came across this tutorial from Pillar Box Blue for making denim feathers and finally found a chance to have a go this month.

The tutorial uses Jute twine for the spine of the feather and thanks to our trip to Dundee and the Verdant Works earlier in the year, I had the exact supplies needed on hand :) Another New to Me too, as this was the first time that I had used Jute twine, and as you can see I have enough twine to make a an entire pillow of denim feathers :)

I found the tutorial really easy to follow and as I have a whole stack of used denim waiting to be upcycled I am sure that I will be making more of these soon.

My final New to Me was my first visit to the once magnificent Chateau de la Mercerie above. The Chateau, which was originally a 19th Century hunting lodge, came into the possession of two bachelor brothers, Raymond and Alphonse Rethore, in 1925. The wealthy brothers then set about extending the original building, to the grand structure that you can see in the photos. According to the guides, however, the brothers were notorious for becoming bored with projects so many of the planned developments were never fully completed. The structure to the right of the terrace, for example, is just a facade, albeit a fairly spectacular one!

After their deaths in the 1980's the Chateau changed hands a couple of times and eventually fell into disrepair, whereupon the local Mayor negotiated a deal to lease the Chateau for a nominal sum for the local community. Work to restore the Chateau and grounds is now undertaken by volunteers, who have themselves become experts in the crafts that they employ to repair and restore the building and interiors.


 The tiled paintings above adorn the entrance hall and are apparently unique in France. They are up to 6m in height and were made in Portugal and then shipped to the Chateau before being reconstructed in their final location in the Chateau. There are over 30 of these painted panels in the house and gallery, although they are not all of the same quality as some of the smaller panels were fabricated in France in the style of the original Portugese tiles. 

The Chateau was an extraordinary place to visit and a project it will be interesting to follow in the coming years. 

So, that's my New to Me's this month now it is your turn to share your trips (successful or not) 0into the uncharted territory of new places or experiences in September. As always, the link party will remain open until the end of the month and please visit your fellow linkers to encourage them in their endeavours! I would love it if you mentioned the link party in your post too :)

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Sunday 22 September 2019


As well as stitching up some soft toys for the littler grandson I have been having some fun stitching up some play outfits for his big brother.

We have a castle shaped playhouse for the boys to play in so what else could I make but a knight's tunic and helmet? I was lucky enough to come across a fabric shop with bolts of felt when we stopped in Rouen, so snapped up enough to make this tabard.

I used this book again for the pattern, although I changed it about a little. When I had cut out the tabard, I felt that the gap for the head was a bit neat, and our grandson is not a big fan of squeezing clothes over his head at the best of times! So I opened up the shoulders and added tabs to create a wider gap which, hopefully, he will be able to pull on and off without feeling smothered! There are Velcro tabs at each side which should make a speedy change easy too :)

Then I decided that with all the trees around us the ideal outfit for playtime was a woodcutter's costume. I "persuaded" my DH to surrender a t-shirt and proceeded to hack away at the hem and sleeves :)

I found this scarf brooch in amongst my costume jewellery and commandeered it for the belt buckle, with a belt made from some brown cotton fabric that was lurking in my stash.

Finally, I had a go at a hat, but I think there is more work needed on that!

Didn't stop the gorgeous grandson having fun "chopping" trees down though :)

Friday 20 September 2019

Toys for a Boy

Our gorgeous grandsons joined us for the last week of our recent holiday in France, so I stitched up some toys for their amusement whilst they were there.

First up a ribbon taggy for the littlest grandson, I thought that the Babar fabric was very appropriate for the location :) The ribbons were bought in the local market so there was a distinctly French flavour to this taggy.

Can you spot the deliberate mistake? Sadly I didn't realise until I had stitched the opening closed (twice!) that the gap between the yellow and green ribbons on the right hand side was because the orange ribbon that was there is still on the inside!! I am sure that the tiny grandson will not notice :)

Next up some soft blocks for the same little man. I didn't have a lot of fabric to hand so used as many bright coloured fabrics as I could and added bits of the leftover ribbon from the taggy blanket.

I wanted to add some different textures to the blocks so this square was made from a scrap of fleece that I had on hand.

This square crackles when squeezed

because both it and the taggy blanket are backed with some of this, the inner bag from a cereal packet! I was trying to find a way to make the block and taggy "noisy" when I came across this post that mentioned using a washed cereal bag and realised that it was the ideal solution.

I am pleased to report that both were well used on the holiday!
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