Sunday, 19 November 2017

Mosaic Monday # 62 - sitting on a dock of the bay...................

Kalimera from Cyprus.
We've been thoroughly enjoying ourselves this week at the Athena Royal Beach, an adults only, 4 star hotel in sunny Paphos.

Our days have been filled with good books, good food and plenty of rest and relaxation.
On Saturday morning we caught the local bus down to the harbour, we strolled around looking at all the different boats, visited the Castle which deserves a post of it's own, looked around a pop up art gallery then stopped at a waterfront café to sit and enjoy a cup of coffee and watch the world go by.
Paphos was given “enhanced protection” status in November 2010 by UNESCO’s Committee for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict.
Click here to learn more about it's amazing history.

This year Paphos has something else to be proud of having won the international competition to become the European Capital of Culture for 2017 along with Aarhus in Denmark.
Although we've been to Cyprus several times before this is the first time we have been based in Paphos. On previous visits we toured the island with private guides stopping at museums, archaeological sites, wineries and monasteries.

This vacation has been much more low key but we still have a few days left to see more of the city before we leave, that is if we run out of books.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Mosaic Monday # 61 - leaving on a jet plane

By the time most of you start checking in for Mosaic Monday this week the SP & I will be heading to the UK, via Calais & the Eurotunnel, before boarding that jet plane for a 10 day winter break in Paphos, Cyprus.
I can almost feel that warm sunshine on my face already.

Cypriot blues

Whilst we're gone M'selle Fleur will be enjoying a staycation at home with her two besties June and Leighton.
We love to travel and over the years I've collected quite an assortment of suitcases, totes and carry on bags, some have been more successful than others.
A very useful back pack which was great to have on the plane over to Florida in July became a cumbersome nightmare in WDW. Every time that I needed my camera, or iPhone, or a tissue, or just about anything out of it, down it came and our progress around the park came to a halt.
After the first half a dozen times this happened I decided that enough was enough!
A quick trip to TJ's, on the way home to our rental villa, was in order to find a replacement bag.
This is it, a Baggallini black nylon cross body bag.

It has a stylish camo pattern and turquoise lining with plenty of pockets to hold everything you need. Waterproof too, which came in handy on some of those theme park rides! The wide cross body strap allows the bag to be carried comfortably with the weight evenly distributed leaving both hands free.
When we travel by air I always check a suitcase no matter how long a trip we take, I've never been adept at packing light.
However, if that suitcase should get lost along the way to our destination I like to have certain things on the plane with me and I thought why not see if I can get everything that I'll need during the flight into the Baggallini?

My carry on bag checklist;
Both of our passports
Purse with cash & credit card. Ditto the SP's wallet
Enough meds for the entire trip.
Copy of passports and medical prescriptions.
Kindle paper white, iPhone & charger; ear buds.
Halo, (a.k.a. Angel Annie) my cherished Beanie Baby. Almost 20 years old and very well travelled she was a gift from a dear friend who is sadly no longer with us.
Jewellery, not expensive items but the memories attached to each piece are priceless.
A pair of Toms flats to slip on during the flight.
Note pad & pen to jot down ideas for potential blog topics!
Necessary liquid items, to make the flight more pleasant, go into a carry on approved see through bag.
(I always follow the 3-1-1 rule when packing liquids. Liquids must be under 3.4 ounces, fit in 1 quart-sized plastic bag, 1 bag per passenger.)
Antibacterial/antiseptic hand sanitizer gel, to take care of anything unsavoury that my hands might come into contact with.
Ayurvedic eye drops to refresh tired eyes.
Dr Bach's Rescue Remedy to comfort & reassure should things get bumpy.
L'Occitane lip balm to soothe.
Because our flight leaves very early in the morning I will probably board the plane sans makeup (shock horror), before we land I'll nip to the loo and freshen up a little. The airlines we fly with nowadays don't hand out little travel bags of useful items so I always pack a disposable toothbrush/paste. Olay's 7 Total Effects BB cream, Burts Bees "Redwood Forest" lip crayon and a light swipe of black mascara should banish any signs of fatigue.
These are the "must haves" that went into the Baggallini for this trip, no problem fitting everything inside with even room to spare for a snack or some travel sweets.

Larger items such as my iPad, holiday travel file, assorted cables & adapters plus a Longchamp Pliage Tote (in case of impulse purchases in Duty Free) will go into the Senior Partner's larger carry on bag.

Next week my Mosaic Monday post will, hopefully, be coming to you from a cabana by the beach, watch this space............

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Mosaic Monday # 60 - vides greniers/empty attics

You might recall that we recently had a visit from our brother-in-law and nephew, they came across from the UK to help us clear out some attics and to work in the garden clearing and tidying ready for winter.
At the beginning of October BIL completed the '54321 Challenge'.

12 months 

5 marathons
4 half marathons
3 triathlons
2 duathlons
1 ultramarathon
zero beer - alcohol
and so far has raised £3690 for Macmillan Cancer Support.

When they arrived early Sunday evening, after driving all day, it was good to sit and enjoy a well earned beer and watch football on TV until dinner was ready.

Early next day the "boys" went to collect the rental van, and 20 large sacks of pine bark to distribute between the flower beds.
Next on my "honey do" list was to empty the loft over the garage of unwanted items and take it all to the recycling depot/ dechetterie.
That little chore took care of the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday was spent emptying and cleaning an attic, the contents included two unwanted divan beds and a sofa.
With even more junk from the loft added to the load the van was full once more.
As the dechetterie isn't open on Tuesdays they spent the rest of the day cleaning the garage loft and raking leaves and conkers, again.
Wednesday morning soon came around and the next chore on my list was dismantling and clearing the builders scaffolding which we had been using as storage shelves in the garage (more junk).
The items we wanted to keep or donate to the charity shop got moved into the now clean and practically empty loft above.
No before photo of the loft because I was too ashamed to show it to you! Can you see those half empty paint tins stacked up so tidily on the shelving unit on the wall at the end? They didn't make it to the dechetterie this time but I live in hope.

Another two trips to the dechetterie in the afternoon and we were ready to call it "a job well done"!
We were so grateful for all their help and support, they certainly worked hard and achieved so much that would have been beyond this pair of oldies.

watching all the activity from her chair
was too much for Fleur
During dinner that evening BIL remarked that despite his aching legs and back he was already planning to come over again to work with us next October. Result!
Thursday morning, after an early breakfast, the two of them headed off to the Eurotunnel in Calais, they made good time and were able to catch an earlier than scheduled train.
Unfortunately their homeward journey from Folkestone was beset by delays and took twice as long to complete as it should have done.

Thanks guys!

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Mosaic Monday # 59 - black and white images

A friend recently invited me to take part in a Facebook meme -

"Seven days.
Seven B&W photos.
No people.
No explanation.
Challenge a new person everyday".

provence; crete; uk.

I get quite a few of these invites and requests "to share", I imagine you do too.

I usually don't participate but this one piqued my interest so I joined in.

a black and white house in a black and white Cotswold village.

Kissimmee, Orlando Fl.

Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

Seven photographs that perhaps hadn't been "good" enough to be included in a previous blog post or feature in one of my scrapbook layouts.
Playing with various Picmonkey editing tools and changing the look of them was great fun and very easy to do.
Jill @ lifeimagesbyjill  (another FB friend, is an award winning published photographer with a down to earth, easy, friendly style of writing) who shared information on street photography on Mosaic Monday last week.
In her post she included some wonderful urban black and white images which increased my interest in this style of photography.
However, since the rural tranquility of green and bucolic Normandy doesn't lend itself too easily to that gritty urban style I looked through the photographs taken on our trip to Budapest last year to find a couple of images to play with.

As you can see an ordinary shopping street in central Pest, on the east side of the Danube, has quite a different look once I cropped the image and applied picmonkey's super b/w effect.

lunchtime in Budapest

If like me your looking to improve your photography skills then I really recommend popping over to Jill's blog.
I know that I'm going to be looking out for more street images to capture next time we go travelling.

Sunday, 22 October 2017

Mosaic Monday # 58 - fall foliage, fungi & family

Looking back through October posts from previous years I noticed a theme...............conkers/horse chestnuts; leaves and mushrooms.

October in Normandy is special to us because that's the month, 21 years ago, that we moved into this old house.

early June 2017

The Virginia creeper that covers the front of the house is green no longer.
It seems that almost overnight the leaves have turned a million shades of red and gold, they remind me of how the house looked the day we drove up with the removal van close behind.

The horse chestnut tree in the back garden has once again, true to form, literally covered the grass with fallen leaves and conkers.

I brought some indoors to display in an antique pewter dish on the hall table.

After a couple of days of back breaking raking and wheel barrowing the Senior Partner and I called it a day because today our brother in law and nephew are travelling from the UK to help us get the garden sorted before winter arrives.
Hopefully the weather will be kind to us as we'll need to have a garden bonfire before they leave.
There are also plans to empty one or two attics of unwanted possessions junk, the garage space will be getting an overhaul too, if time allows.

A large white van has been rented, they'll collect it in the morning, to take everything to the dechetterie (recycling).
We're also expecting deliveries of gravel for the driveway and pine bark mulch for the flower beds.
It's going to be a very busy week, hopefully I'll have some photos to share next time.

A selection of fungi found growing at the bases of trees, in the grass and also on the compost heap this week.
Although they look pretty harmless some of them might not be so the closest I got was to capture them with my iPhone, they will not be making an appearance in the kitchen!

Wish we had a sweet chestnut and not a horse chestnut tree in the garden, at least then we'd be able to eat them.

À bientôt.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Mosaic Monday # 57 - discovering Quimper pottery with friends

Fall is the season of the year that collectors of French faience who are members of the Quimper Club International enjoy the most because that's when they hold their annual meeting.
Although I'm no longer an active member of the Club myself I am still close to many of the friends that I made whilst attending meetings.
During the years that I was a member I travelled to Nice, France; Philadelphia, PA; Chicago, IL;  and Washington, DC to name a few.
We visited museums; cathedrals; pottery factories and art galleries, one year we even toured a Plantation in Georgia!
Wherever we went there were amazing collections of Quimper pottery to see when fellow collectors graciously opened their homes to us.

You can see some of the posts about those trips by clicking here for Savannah, 2010 and Dallas, 2009 here

In 2017 the venue for the annual meeting was a little out of the ordinary when members were invited to join an 11 day cruise, sailing from Montreal/Quebec City to Boston/New York, with post cruise visits to view collections in Connecticut and New York.

The meeting ended just yesterday and what an incredible trip that must have been, I'm so looking forward to hearing all about it from my friends.

If you'd like to know more about Quimper pottery you can visit the blog lovequimper which I managed for several years but which has sadly now closed or visit the QCI web page.

Last week we toured the Maison du Biscuit together and I teased you with a giveaway for this lovely torchon recette de macarons.

Just 10 names went into the draw and the winner is Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti
please let me have your address, Pat,
so that I can get this little sweetie off to you as soon as possible.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Mosaic Monday # 56 - La Maison du Biscuit

On Tuesday, as the weather was fine the Senior Partner and I decided to ditch the idea of working in the garden and go visit La Maison du Biscuit  which is situated about an hours drive north from us on the Contentin Peninsula in the small hamlet of Sortosville-en-Beaumont.
Our friend, Sean the Gardener, had raved about this unique one of a kind café and food emporium when he was over here working last month.
He said he knew it was the kind of place that I would love.
A House of Biscuits, really, what's not to love?

As you approach the building the eye is drawn to the beautifully crafted façade which resembles a street of small independent shops as they might have appeared at the turn of the 20th century.

However, the construction is not as old as it first appears.
Although generations of the Burnouf Family have been in business in Normandy as bakers and patissiers since 1903 La Maison du Biscuit was established in 1990 by descendants of the original baker, Paul Burnouf.

Click here to read the family's full history.

Once inside the visitor is free to wander through the various downstairs rooms which are filled to bursting with delicacies of every sort.
It isn't possible to tour the production kitchens due to health and safety regulations but everywhere you turn you can see the results of their endeavours.

Caramel cookies using caramel d'Isigny the birthplace of Walt Disney's ancestors!

The décor is amazing, it's as if the eclectic furniture and ephemera of several turn of the century homes has been gathered together to furnish the spaces, creating lovely vignettes and displaying the goods for sale "the old fashioned way".

I really enjoyed showing you around the Maison du Biscuit today, hope all the photographs didn't exhaust you?

Tell you what let's head to the tearoom for some tea and biscuits whilst I tell you about a little giveaway attached to this post.......................................

One of my collages today is of three recipes, handwritten in chalk on black slate.
If you mention in your comment what those three recipes are I'll put your name into the draw for this pretty "torchon recette de macaron" (tea towel printed with a recipe for macaroons) which came home with me after our visit.

The winner's name will be announced in next weeks MM post.
Bon chance!