Wednesday, 21 January 2009


I was very lucky at Christmas to receive presents to help creativity!

My ex husband gave me a wonderful book on Jingdezhen Porcelaine, which really has to be read from cover to cover in small chunks to understand all the lessons it contains.

Nicholas has paid for my pottery lessons for the rest of the year (Jan to June), which is really very generous. Pottery is my real recreation session on Wednesday afternoons.

And Cécile gave me a hank of hand painted, hand spun wool from, which is such a work of art, I at first hung it on my wall like a painting. But then, fearful that sunlight and dust would deteriorate it, I have knitted it up into a neck warmer. Here is a photo of the skein, I'll post a photo of the neckwarmer when I've finished "finishing" it!


I never did put pictures here of the things I created for the Star swap I participated in during December. It was the first time I'd done this sort of thing, and I wasn't quite sure of the rules, what to do, how much, how much time to spend, how much money to spend, etc. Anyway, this is the "creation" bit of the parcel I sent out:

The title of the swap was "La Tête dans les Etoiles", and the person I had to create for only liked purple and black and duck egg blue! So this first photo is a knitted headband in basket weave, and I stuck a few little stars on it just to make it fit the theme! First time I'd knitted basket weave, came out rather well. The photo doesn't really show it properly.

This is a 20cmx20cm painting (acrylics on canvas) of a night sky, little gold stars, with a leafless tree, an owl, and a phantomatic figure, all with their heads in the stars. I like it, I hope the recipient did too.

And then I did a brooch in felt, which was a bit large, but OK for a first try at this sort of thing. What I really like about swaps, apart from the care taken preparing things for someone one has never met and will never meet, is the fact that one has to work to a deadline, finish what one starts, and work to a given theme. It's very salutory for both creativity and rigour.

Just before Christmas I took part in a day's course on illuminated manuscripts, but since my calligraphy is rather pathetic, I illuminated but left the manuscript bit to others! In fact, I made a rather classy Christmas star (about 30cm across), that ended up on my minute Christmas tree. If I'd bought the star in a specialist shop, I would have paid about a third of the cost of the day's course, but never mind, it was fun and I met a few people.

Friday, 2 January 2009


Doesn't time fly! Happy New Year to family and friends, may 2009 bring you health and joy. Let's hope the year is not too hard on us all, maybe we should begin to decide what is really essential in our lives and be ready to eliminate some of the rest. I've downsized drastically since 2006 and I have to say that, even if it is sometimes painful, it is also salutory and one can gain a certain satisfaction from living simply and frugally. One's conscience is then a little clearer when one looks around at what is happening to those less fortunate.

Enough philosophising (if that's what that was). I had the good fortune to have my son Nicholas with me for a whole week at Christmas, and we had a wonderful time together, getting on quietly well, eating well but not overdoing it, and not drinking too much. The weather has been very cold in France, even in Brittany, if a little less so than elsewhere, but we have still had frosty nights. The days on the other hand have been almost uniformly clear and bright. Nicholas' birthday on 21st December was on the contrary balmy, almost like Spring, with brilliant sunshine. We went out to lunch at Ste Marine, and had a table overlooking the harbour. This was my birthday present to him (as well as the cashmere scarf I knitted pictured below). The meal was good and they gave us a winey-bag to bring home the Sancerre that we didn't finish. Before eating we took a short walk on the beach to quieten Oslo down. When she knows she's by the sea (and she seems to smell it immediately), she starts to whine and complain, which is pretty unbearable. So we gave her a little walk before lunch. On the beach on the shortest day of the year without a jacket on - wonderful!

The rest of the week went by quickly, with a couple of tours of central Brittany (I had a crêpe which made me ill and prevented us from going to the restaurant we had booked that evening).
But we went a few days later, between Christmas and the New Year, so there was hardly anyone around. L'Ambroisie is said to be one of the best restaurants in Quimper. One expects something large and flashy, but not at all, it's a tiny restaurant in a tiny street, with only a few tables and a very simple décor. I was very doubtful when we walked in, the room was badly lit and the owner didn't seem that pleased to see us. But I think it was only that we arrived 20 minutes before the time we had booked for, and since we were virtually the only people to have booked, she simply wasn't ready for us. Things brightened up fast, including the owner, and the food turned out to be fantastic. We had a glass of champagne accompanied by lovely amuse-gueule. Then I had seared scallops (just seared, perfect!) with endives and orange, and Nicholas had foie gras (one of us always does!). And as a main dish we both had pigeonneau, which was the best either of us had ever tasted, meltingly tender and cooked to perfection. Cheese, dessert, coffee. A good Bordeaux. What more could you want? And we didn't come home feeling stuffed to the eyebrows, which always makes for a better night's sleep!
Nicholas left on 29th, and New Year's Eve was a bit of a come down, all alone as usual (not last year, Cécile, Aziz and Marius were here), and feeling a bit depressed. Poireau pomme de terre soup and a yoghurt and to bed well before midnight!