Welcome to my blog. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you'll stay and enjoy reading about where I've been and what I've been doing!

I don't mean this to be a replacement for personal emails, but it gives me the chance to put up photos and my scrapbook layouts, so I don't block up your in-boxes, or have to send the same photos and stories to everyone separately!
Thanks, and welcome, to the followers of my blog. I'm very honoured that you enjoy it. Drop me some comments from time to time! It's good to hear what you think about the posts. Come back again soon.

Thanks also to Mary of Mary's Mixes for doing all the work on the blog's heading. You are great, Mary!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Still in France - I wish!

Next morning I woke to a bright sunny day - the first sun I had seen in it seems like months!Work on Ian's house is ongoing, and that first morning he told me I would meet Roy, who is working on the roof of the cottage next door. During the morning there had been a few people walking by and as we sat breakfasting in the kitchen with the French doors wide open, we would greet them with a "Bonjour Monsieur!" (not many Madames passing by!) and Ian would sometimes leap out to shake hands and have a bit of conversation, during which I was also introduced! Afterwards as we were getting ready to go exploring I was already out there with the camera, so when a man walked up the road towards the house, thinking I was frightfully clever, I wished him a cheery "Bonjour Monsieur!" " 'Allo!" he replied, though it sounded more like Allow! This was Roy from deepest darkest London with an accent to match! He and Ian exchanged a few words about the roof, during which the word 'ooks featured. Apparently Roy had run out of them! The terracotta roof tiles come in two different shaped pieces. First there is the canal which is about a foot long (30cm, if you prefer) and then there's the semi tubular length - can't remember its name - also about a foot long. The canals are laid in rows up the slope of the roof, overlapping each other, while the others lie one side in one canal and the other side in the next, also overlapping. These are shaped with a little notch out of the sides of one end so the next ones won't slip, but invariably some do after a while, so Roy was fixing them on with 'ooks so they wouldn't slide! (You can click on the photo to see them more clearly if you need to know the workings of French roof tiles that badly!!!!!)

We left him to it and headed off in the car to Confolens, the nearest town. Each day we took a drive out from Ian's in a different direction. It was usually late morning/early afternoon before we left, and we didn't travel too far, but what a lot there is to see on his doorstep as it were! First of all we stopped in the village for a look around and spied Mimi painting on her balcony. This is the view as seen from Mimi's and Francois' house! (We were invited in for a small pinot - glass of wine - and given the guided tour). From Ian's you enter the village on the little road passing the church. To be honest we weren't in the village very much at all so I didn't get to see the inside of the church. (Next time!) Then there was a small square on our left, the right of the photo where the trees are, with Lionel's shop/bar opposite, up a few steps to a raised pavement. Mimi and Francois live just off the main road - the house with the blue painted balcony (2nd left in the next photo) with Steve and Vicky next door to their right, in what was the old bar and function room where local dances were once held. Further down the road, the other way and almost opposite the adjacent side of the square is the "Mairie", the Mayor's offices, flying the French flag along with the European Union one. There are several other wooden-shuttered houses along the main road all of which appealed to me, so I began to get quite snap-happy, though now I couldn't tell you where each house was situated! Never really having been to France before, everything looked so different and I loved the lace curtains, the shutters, the French windows, and the pots of geraniums and verbena outside on window sills and balconies, the vines growing across the fronts of the houses...... It is all so pretty even if some of the buildings look a bit shabby, in need of a few coats of paint and a bit of TLC (tender loving care). I actually liked them that way, though a friend says it's just a romantic tourist's view! Huh!

So, off to Confolens, a very pretty town on the river Vienne at its confluence with the Goire! We parked on the opposite side of the Vienne and looked over to the town. I don't need to describe the view. See for yourself! Isn't it gorgeous - with its riverside terraces behind the old buildings!

A couple of Ian's new friends bought a house on this side of the bridge and are doing it up - to the left of the trees - and when the house with the balcony next door also became available, they bought that too to do up and let out to holiday visitors. They were working on it when we arrived but took a short break to show us round, first their own and then the guest one! Wow! The features of these old houses - huge open fireplaces, ancient great wooden lintels and beams, stone carving round doors........ to die for! The "piece de resistance" though, was the garden stretching down to the riverbank with a small 15th century tower building amongst the trees, and then the back terrace balcony, with its view across the river! Who wouldn't be charmed by it all?!
A small detour to look at the fountain just along from the old bridge then crossing the bridge itself it was only a short walk through narrow streets to the market square, with its hotel de ville (town hall) and post office, glass sided market hall, shops and cafes, and then

along the river to the cauld or weir where opposite had been an old mill.

Then on to the old entrance to the town, near where the Goire meets the Vienne, through more narrow streets, and past old and interesting buildings,

till we finally reached the old bridge again.
Our day still wasn't over though. We took a drive alongside the Vienne to the hamlet of St Germain to look at a ruined castle on the top of the hill, dominating the houses and river below. It must have been an enormous castle in its day, but the two towers here and the wing connecting them, are the best preserved parts. There would have been a large square courtyard with a tower at each corner, and buildings connecting each along the four sides.

Now if this was in Britain, the National Trust or some similar institution would have taken it over, have signs all over the place to tell what was what and where, and would charge the earth to enter and look around! Not here! You just walk right in and explore - for nothing. Free! Gratuit! It was quite hard to imagine how this wing would have been laid out so a notice or two wouldn't have gone amiss, but hey, imagination is a wonderful thing!

By this time it was quite late in the afternoon and the sun was low so with one more photo taken we left to head home.

Now let me tell you that these are only a few of the pics I shot that day!!!!! See what Ian means when he says I could take photos for Scotland!

The next few days were just as interesting, and it is a hard job to choose which photos go in and what are missed out!

Hope you're still with me at the end of day one and will accompany me on the next few days too!

Talk again soon!

Sunday, 28 September 2008

I'm back!

Hello again! Got home late last night after a great few days in France with my dear friend Ian.

He and I met at the age of 16 - there's only 3 weeks between us - when our respective families were holidaying at the same hotel in southwest Ireland. I remember it was not the driest of holidays, and the game of Cluedo provided us with lots of entertainment and amusement in the hotel lounge. There was a lot of laughter, and to this day, any mention of that game takes me back to that time. After we went back home, Ian to Belfast and I to Edinburgh, we kept in touch, writing long silly letters to each other, and occasionally meeting up. Eventually Ian married and moved to England where his working life kept him till the beginning of this year! His first marriage failed, but he married again and had had two children when we lost touch, goodness knows now how or why we did that! Years went by and I thought about him quite often, never expecting we would ever see or hear from each other again. 21 years later, out of the blue, from FriendsReunited, came an email - "Ian W..... is trying to contact you", with a letter that was definitely from the right Ian! "Are you the Evelyn I met on holiday in Ireland.... etc", I wrote back immediately, "It's me! It's me!" and we have been writing to each other ever since. I learned that he had a third child but that his marriage had broken down and he and his wife were each leading very separate lives. They finally parted a couple of years ago and at the beginning of this year Ian moved to France, having bought a run down property to do up! I saw lots of photos of it early on, so was really excited to be going to see the place for real, and to see what he had done. (It's looking good - very good! There is still a long way to go but it's all taking shape nicely.)
So Ian came to Poitiers airport to meet me and take me back to the village, and the hamlet he now loves to call home! As we passed the village square we stopped to look around and someone waved to him from the bar. "Shall we go and have a quick drink?" he asked me. We ended up staying there for a couple of hours, with Lionel (Lee-on-el) the owner, Francois and Mimi, two great characters from Belgium now living in the village, and an English couple called Vicky and Steve. Conversation was in French and English with a little of Mimi's Flemish thrown in for good measure. It was great fun, and a wonderful introduction to the village! Hands were shaken, lots of kissing on both cheeks - I still don't know when one kisses twice or three times, but it's the done thing, whichever!
Right at the moment I am having a very bad relationship with my computer. I'm almost tearing my hair out -it will have to go (the computer, not my hair!) - so haven't managed to upload too many photos to edit and enter here tonight. Ian laughed at me taking so many photos and told his friends that his mother could drink tea for Ireland but I could take photos for Scotland! Yes, I did take lots, but I just wanted to parcel it all up and bring it home! So over the next day or three you'll get to see some of them. However I must just let you see a pic or three of Ian's place!
Here's himself with his French bread under his arm, and that's his house in the centre of the photo, in the background. Madame Pinot lives in the white house - lovely old lady - only speaks French, so Ian is learning a lot.
We had walked the long way round from the shop and are actually on our way home here! Ian is walking backwards at this point!

This is the part of the house you can see in the above photo, and here's Ian giving the shrubs a bit of a drink of water. These will be planted alongside the wall to form a sort of hedge! Through the open door is the kitchen, while to the left, down three wooden steps is the sitting room, an odd shaped room, but with an old traditional fireplace and a woodburning stove. Very cosy. Above the kitchen is Ian's room the bathroom is to the left and round the corner is the guest room - mine for the few days - over the sitting room. I reckon this has been two houses at some time, with the French doors into the sitting room being the original front door of the one house and the kitchen doors the front door of the second.

Moving over to the right, and tucked round the corner, is the oldest part of the house. This would originally have been the back of a small cottage in a row behind the main house. I'll show you them in a moment. Downstairs Ian is planning to have his dining room, while upstairs is his den with computer and photography gear, books, CDs....... It leads to the balcony which gets the sun in the afternoon and evening. There's a wooden bench table on the small patio too. Lovely!

So, going down past the sitting room and around the corner, turn right and you find yourself looking up the lane at this lovely old row of 19th century houses. I'd have thought they were older than that, but no matter! The house below the chimney pot in the centre is the other side of what will be Ian's dining room, with the wee window being his den! He has also bought the house on the right to do up for guests, either friends or self-caterers on holiday, and is in negotiations for the one on his other side for the same purpose! There's an old water pump and a plinth with a cross in the foreground.
So that's a little introduction to Ian's place - so interesting, and really fascinating! We tallked about different ideas for the house improvements, and both came up with ideas for our respective homes as a result! Just got to start doing the work on them both now!
Anyway, all for now. I must get this up and running, before I fall asleep over the keyboard! I just had to get this started! Lots more to come, but this is it for tonight!
Talk again soon.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Better weather?

The river wasn't as high as I expected it to be the day after my last blog with all that rain! It was a very grey day - dreich, as we'd say up here. That's pronounced dreech (ch as in loch)! It means grey, damp, dull kind of weather, so it really wasn't worth taking photos! Anyway, I doubt if I'll have time to do any blogging over the weekend as I will be preparing for my trip to France. I leave on Monday morning for London, then have lots of hanging around waiting for my flight to France, getting there about teatime!

So between now and then, if it's not getting things ready for packing, it will be tidying up at home. Moosie hamster needs a clean out too as she is going up to Edinburgh to Linda's while I am away! I'm taking her up there tomorrow!

So! I shouldn't imagine I'll be able to blog from Ian's place in France as he says his internet connection is worse than useless! He can manage emails but not much else!!! It could well be next weekend - Sunday - before I get back here! So, in the meantime, take care.

Talk again soon.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

A wee jaunt

With work during the day, Celeste and Tina hadn't had a chance to look around Glasgow, but being on the road to Loch Lomond it seemed a shame for them not to at least have a look at IT! After their presentation on the day I had been to the CRM house, we drove out along the A82, leaving the city behind, Tina singing "You take the high road and I'll take the low road and I'll be in Scotland afo-o-re ye.....", till at last we passed Duck Bay marina at the south end of the loch. That's where we found some brambles for the girls to taste! Brambles are brambles in Scotland and blackberries elsewhere!! A few miles further on we reached the turn off for the village of Luss, a very picturesque village with rather unusual houses, right on the edge of the loch. This was our destination. Since the Scottish soap on TV, "Take the High Road", the village has become even more popular than before. A huge carpark at the edge of the village at least ensures the inhabitants of the village get SOME peace, but I think they MUST get fed up with all the summer visitors peering into all the nooks and crannies. Talk about living in a fish bowl!!!

Looking back up the village. There's quite a reek coming from a dirty lum up the top there!

There weren't many visitors around late on a September Monday afternoon, but the tourist shops were still open as we walked down through the villge towards the loch shore. Along the way the tiny strip of flowerbed in front of each cottage was still blooming with roses and bright coloured annuals, and hedges abounded with wild roses, the last stragglers of the season, before giving way to the large rose hips or seed pods.

At the end of the road is the pier with its sign for visitors arriving by water, announcing that this is LUSS. It's probably a Gaelic word but I don't think anyone knows for sure.

The pier office at the end of the pier

Strangely I never thought to walk out onto the pier to take photographs, but instead headed down onto the rough sandy beach where I took a photo of the girls with Ben Lomond in the background. Then we walked along the beach for a short way, and had a close encounter with a swan that came wandering up the beach looking for food! It wasn't too happy not to find any so hissed at Celeste!

Across the loch Ben Lomond hid its head in the mist, but the view all the same was a fine one. It is a good number of years since I climbed to the top of the Ben. It was in mist at the top that day too, so we hardly had any views to gasp over!

Slowly we wandered back into the village and turned left past the Coach House tearoom - closed - to look at the church. There are some fairly old tombstones in the churchyard, covered in moss, but some still readable, well, bits were readable! Then, instead of continuing round past the Manse to circle back to the carpark we retraced our steps to return the way we had come. We were getting hungry by now so decided it was time to head back to Glasgow to meet up with another of the girls' colleagues - who would have come with us but for being ready for a sleep instead - and have dinner! If ever you are around the Byres Road and feel a trifle peckish, look for the Bothy Restaurant, tucked into a lane not that far from the Great Western Road! That was a great meal we had! I left my car on the terrace outside C&T's hotel, having finally worked out the round about way to reach it, and walked the short way to my own hotel. The previous night had been quite warm, but with the unaccustomed noise from the road, I hadn't want to keep my window open too far. I don't think the traffic stopped all night! I slept fitfully and was aware of the traffic when I woke through the night, but after my day out I slept well and woke ready for my next little onslaught on the city - the city tour in the open top bus! My pictures yesterday showed you some of the views from the bus, and I still have one or two I forgot to add, so that's where I will leave you for now!
Left, Doulton fountain and the former Templeton's carpet factory on Glasgow Green

below, Glasgow University buildings

Goodness knows where I'll get to next! I may even be back in Glasgow soon because when I came home I had an email from Sally to say she and Andrew have settled in a flat near the Byres Road, and they've invited me to dinner! It will have to be after my trip to France next week though! That's come galloping along quickly too! Looking forward to that! I envisage sunshine and blue skies maybe with the odd fluffy white cloud. Well, we'll see! It's pouring down with rain here tonight, so tomorrow the river will be high and fast! If I can walk along the bank without getting soaked tomorrow, I'll take photos!

So, talk again soon.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

An award!

Hey! Look what I got today from my scrapbooking buddy pkdoll! An award! PK, I am thrilled! Thank you so much! I'll follow the rules here and award it to some more folk! They aren't all scrapbooking folk, so I hope that doesn't matter!

Now the rules are:

1. The winner gets to put the award on his/her blog.
2. You must link back to the one that sent it to you.
3. You need to forward this to 7 people whose blogs you love and put a link on your blog to theirs.
4. Leave a comment on the blogs of the folks you picked letting them know where to pick it up.

That's all you have to do.

I haven't had a chance to do much with the last of the Glasgow blogs, but it's coming soon! It's all about a little jaunt that the girls and I took! Meanwhile I am going to decide just who is to get my vote for the "I love your blog" award!

Mary, my good friend and faithful supporter, you get one, most definitely! I just love your scrapbooking designs and layouts. Your mini kits are wonderful and one of these days I am going to start scrapbooking again and use them!
creativeflairchick, whose All Things Bright and Beautiful blog is so inspiring! As she says, if colour's your thing, then you'll love this blog!
jill pilotte for her great photos at Smallstump
kim broedelet for the way she meets life head-on! She is so full of life, so enthusiastic about all she does - and she does lots! Her blog cracks me up, and her scrapbooking designs and kits are just fantastic. I'll repeat what I said above for Mary - One of these days......
Alan Williams gets my vote for his travel blog in search of garlic soup! I really enjoy following his exploits - and I'd like to try some garlic soup.
Mardean for her beautiful photos of her native birdlife and her Random Thoughts.
Boo for her lovely scrapbooking blog and freebies! Another repeat of One of these days.....

There we are then! Don't forget to pass the award on! Just right click and save the picture for your own use!

Talk again soon

Sunday, 14 September 2008

House for an Art Lover

Having spent a lot of time in the city, doing the tour on the bus and on foot, I decided I really had to see Charles Rennie Mackintosh's House for an Art Lover on the south side of the river Clyde. There are so many websites about the man himself that I won't go too far into talking about him, but I'll just say that he came from Glasgow - born in 1868 - studied architecture, art and design and became one of the forerunners in architectural design of the Art Nouveau era. He was really innovative in his style which in my mind obviously led on to and inspired the Art Deco period of the 1930s. His most famous creations are the Glasgow School of Art, Hill House in Helensburgh, which he designed and furnished in his inimitable style, and the Willow Tearooms in Sauchiehall Street, but there are so many other examples of his work around the country, and today pottery, jewellery, towels, bookmarks and masses of other souvenirs are made using his symbolic flowers and designs. So many of today's designs are "based on" the originals and are often referred to as Mockintosh! CRM must be well known now throughout the western world and perhaps beyond. His style mainly consists of natural forms, with light and texture taking up a big part, and the interior designs incorporate stylised trees and flowers, in particular the rose which has come to be known as the Glasgow Rose.

The Glasgow Rose in the glass panel
of the Music Room doors

In 1901 Mackintosh entered a competition in a German magazine to design a house for an art lover. He and his wife Margaret MacDonald collaborated to come up with plans and drawings of exterior elevations as well as water colour paintings of how the rooms would look. It is interesting to note that CRM was disqualified because of a late submission, but that no first prize was subsequently given. Instead, several entries were awarded equal prizes and Mackintosh also was awarded a sum of money as a recognition of his excellent plans - “their pronounced personal quality, their novel and austere form and the uniform configuration of interior and exterior.” Would he have won the competition if he had submitted his entry in time? I think from the details given that he would have!!!

The house however was never built, but in the 1980s during restoration work on Craigie House, and on a music room by CRM, Graham Roxburgh, a consulting engineer, came across a portfolio of designs during his research at the Hunterian Museum that turned out to be of the house for an art lover. The dream of creating reality from the portfolio of plans, drawings and paintings stemmed from that time. Much research was carried out to ascertain just how it could be made to happen, and how Mackintosh himself would have achieved his aims, but at last the house began to take shape - not without a few problems, not least the recession of the 90s, that meant funding was not readily available and work had to stop for a while, but today it stands proud in Bellahouston Park, open for public viewing and also as a working extension of the Glasgow School of Art.

I just adored the house on sight! The lines of the exterior are wonderful, and from the moment I stepped from the tiny front vestibule into the glorious front hall - a great hall in CRM's castle - I was hooked! The hall is big and dark with tall pillars along one long side supporting the upstairs landing as a gallery and opposite are the tall windows that let plenty of light into the room. Beneath the gallery is the hall fireplace, midway between two doors that open onto the white painted Music Room with its beautiful rounded French windows onto the balcony. The dining room opens off one end of the hall while opposite at the other end is the staircase that turns up to a windowed half landing, then doubles back on itself to lead upwards to the main landing and the passage along the gallery. Unfortunately - well that depends how you look at it - the upstairs rooms of the house are used by the Art School, so no bedrooms are displayed, but the rooms downstairs are enough to keep my attention at least, for quite some time. Audio phones guide you through the rooms explaining the story of building the house, how they sourced materials and the reasons behind certain decisions, and talk you through the design of the interior fittings which were embellished with designs by Mrs Mackintosh, Mary MacDonald.

The dining room is quite dark too, with a lot of dark wood used for the furnishings of the room. Stencils have been used on the fireplace wall, and gesso panels designed and made in the way Margaret would have done them appear right round the room above head height.

The Music Room is in complete contrast to the dark hall, Here everything is white, bright, light and soothing! At one end of the room is a fireplace while at the opposite end is a piano in an elaborate casing more suitable I think to being an adornment for a bedroom.

These two pictures of close up detail show the designs of styised trees and flowers, and the oval that CRM seems to enjoy using.

Here's another close-up, of the table and chairs this time. They also sport little leaves and floral decoration.

Then, looking through the piano decor there again are the doors to the hall.

Next door is the Oval room, the ladies withdrawing room! It is quite small with a fireplace, a built in cabinet and cupboards behind the panels of the oval walls. At either side of the window are little "hideaway" seats, for private reading or perhaps for an unseen after dinner snooze?

The fireplace is very small and basic in this room but the panel behind it is tiled with very small tiles that had to be individually mitred before they were put in place.

You have to visit this house yourself next time you're in Glasgow - bus routes 3, 9 and 54 from the city centre! Hopefully some of these photos from my visit to The House for an Art Lover will inspire you.

Talk again soon.