Tuesday, 19 April 2011

A day out

I took the Little People to Highclere Castle, near Newbury, yesterday. Everyone else was there to see where Downton Abbey was filmed, having not seen the TV series, we were there to see their Egyptian Exhibition (Highclere was the home of Lord Carnarvon, who financed Howard Carter's expedition to find Tutankhamun's Tomb). The exhibition is amazing, and the two little whirlwinds loved the house too as the stewards went out of their way to show them secret cuboards and hidden doors. They had a great time hiding in the rhododendrons as well, all in all a lovely day!

P.S While I was wondering around the gardens, I realised that my 52 photos project might just turn into a 12 photo project, so I thought I should get busy with my camera:

Friday, 15 April 2011

My Easter Tree

I've been meaning to make an Easter Tree for years, but generally time conspires against me and life races past before I have time to blink. Anyway, this year was different, I found a box of decorations, some Pussy Willow and five minutes with Little Miss - sometimes a plan just comes together.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

What you leave behind

Families are funny things. We all think we know everything there is to know about each other, but we don't, we almost know each other too well, so we don't spend time asking questions, being curious about one another (or is it just me?!). My grandpere Roger died suddenly last week, and while I helped to sort out the funeral, I found out the most incredible story that really demonstrated that he was who I knew him to be - a clever, talented, commited, honorable, hard working and determined, but very modest, man. The thing was he never mentioned it to me once. It's such a great story I think it is worth sharing...
One evening in the early 50s, while enjoying some good Bordeaux red wine, four men and Pere Matt (the priest) hatched a plan. One of these men was my great grandfather Raoul (Roger's father in law), who was by all accounts quite a character. Their plan wasn't a small one, their neighbourhood was growing fast, so the priest felt they should build a church to replace the wooden hut, in the middle of a field, that he had been using. So, they asked an architect to draw up some very ambitious plans.
This was their original plan

Work started in 1953. Every weekend the men of the community, rich and poor, Christian and non-Christian, would gather together to work on site. I have a feeling this became a bit of a hobby for them, like men who do up bikes or cars nowadays, just their project was slightly bigger! Pere Matt, it seems, was a little crafty and would start Mass at 7am every Sunday. Once that was finished everyone would start work! Obviously, wives were expected to serve lunch and entertain the children while the men worked, which didn't make the project very popular with them...

Pere Matt getting stuck in
The foundations were started with gusto. This wasn't especially expensive, so the builder volunteers  provided their own money for this.

Everyone got digging
The sense of community began to grow and there are lots of photographs of 'pauses' with the ever present wine bottles...
My grandfather is fourth on the left, glass in hand.
They began to fill the trenches with cement:
My great grandfather Raoul is on the right and a Monsieur Francisco is helping him. Look at their wooden clogs!
In November, 1953 they finished the foundations and ran out of funds, but that didn't stop them...
My grandfather Roger standing in the trench.

They had to come up with some money making schemes to fund the rest of the project. Pere Matt organised community fairs which included racing cars and a race track for the little boys, meals, one year there was a firework display. But the volunteers soon realised that they needed to do more, so they put on shows in local parishes. Here's a leaflet:
None of this was enough, their plans were too big. First they took the tall steeple out of their plans, and then they thought bigger... They decided to run a lottery, and the grand prize would be a house. Yes, you did read that right, a house. The volunteers started building it, and tickets were sold far and wide for miles around Bordeaux.
One of the lottery tickets
Looking at the pictures it seems to have taken a little while. They were worked through the winter in -12 centigrade

Wine is a well known source of warmth! My great grandfather Raoul is in the centre.

And continued on into the summer too, judging from how my grandfather Roger (left) and my great grandfather Raoul (right) were dressed here:

As time went on, the community realised they needed to sell far more tickets, so somehow (don't ask me how!), they got hold of a car, a 4CV Renault, and offered it as a prize for the person who sold the most tickets.

 Monsieur Ossières, a Talence grocer, seller of the most tickets in front of his prize.
A soldier won the house. Although, he did cause a scandal throughout the neighbourhood by not inviting any of the volunteers, who had built the house, in for a drink or 'un coup'. Let's just say that, 50 years on, people still mention it!

The soldier who won the house is in the centre, Raoul is on the left and Pere Matt is on the right. The house behind them is the prize house.

Now the community were able to use the money to get back to building the church:

Finally, the frame was finished. I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to stand up there!

 In 1957 it snowed in Bordeaux.

By 1959, the Chapelle de la Sainte Famille was finished. The story of the church and the names of all the people, who had helped build the church over the previous 6 years, were written down and placed in a corner stone:

My great grandfather Raoul with the list of volunteers.

The corner stone.

The community commissioned the windows from regional artists. Because the church was so modern in style, they decided to have them made in a new material - perspex. It was finished.

And my great grandfather made everyone involved in the building of the church a wrought iron cross:

Pere Matt died in a car accident in 1984, and most of the people involved have gone now too. As I sat in the church last week looking up at the perspex stained glass windows, at my grandfather's funeral, I admired what those men had done 50 years before, marvelled at their spirit and their tenacity, and realised that although he too had gone, my grandfather had not only had a huge influence on his family, but also on the community he lived in.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Hello again...

I am somewhat ashamed of not having posted since January. This is partly because I haven't done any crafting at all, and partly because life has been on fast forward. Things are going to change though, I've joined a crafty group at work and we've started to meet once a week, so watch this space....

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

An Award!

Right, I've finished wallowing in self pity, thank you for your kind messages, they made me smile and I managed to gain some perspective!

I have been a very lucky person, Michelle from Frecklepuss (isn't that the best blog name?!) has awarded me with this:
I am so flattered, thank you so much Michelle!

The rules are that I have to write seven things about me, and then I get to award the award to some deserving (and stylish!) blogs. It's taken me a while to think of everything, so apologies to Frecklepuss for having to wait so long for my post...

I've decided to do this in two posts, so here's part 1:

Seven random things about me:

I have a dangerous weakness for Cadbury's Creme Eggs

I've lived in America and China

My happiest moments are spent dancing madly round the house, with my two Little People, to very loud music (I'm not admitting to what music, that would be a step too far!)

I'm bilingual in English and French

I loathe crysanthemums

I met my husband when we were both rowing (on a river)

I am spotting grey hairs on a daily basis now, but can't decide whether to colour them or not!

Now who do I pass the award on to? Watch this space...

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

52 Photos week 3

What I love about writing my blog is that I can go back and look back at moments in our lives that I would have completely forgotten. So I've cheated a bit this week and slipped in two photos for the price of one. This might not be the most riveting post ever, but next year, when I look back and Little Man and Little Miss are even bigger than they are now, I'll cherish this post and remember this first time Little Miss took her new bike out for a spin (and the fact that she fell off her bike spectacularly just moments after this picture was taken!)

Saturday, 8 January 2011

2nd of 52 Photos

This is a bit of a strange one, but this is all that is left of our snowman. It made me smile when I saw it this morning, and reminded me of the snow ball fights we had with our neighbours only a few weeks ago...

Thursday, 6 January 2011


I read this blog post tonight, and thought that having a word for 2011 might be a good idea, but what could it be? Some people have come up with words like 'radiant', 'better', 'effulgent' (no, I hadn't heard of that one either), but none of them seemed to fit for me. Then I looked around and realised that perhaps the word I should adopt this year is 'complete'. The reason becomes pretty clear when you see all the projects I started in 2010 and haven't finished:

Hopefully, I'll post a photo of completed projects at the end of 2011!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

The first of 52

Today was the first day of Little Miss's fifth year, so this had to be the first of this year's 52 photos. She'd just seen all her birthday presents under the Christmas tree, including a fully wrapped pink and white bicycle...