Tuesday, June 19, 2012

A visit to Guernsey of the Channel Islands

Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands or as they are called in French Les Isles Anglo-Normands, in not, according to Wikipedia, part of the U.K. It is a crown dependency and a Bailiwick.

I knew very little about the Channel Islands of Europe, except that they had cows, before I read the novel The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. Ever since reading that book several years ago, I have wanted to visit Guernsey. I hadn’t been able to make the trip in our many visits to Normandy before this, so I decided I was going to go this year in June, whether Jim went with me or not. He decided to go, so that made it easier and more fun for me.

It takes about 5 hours to get to Guernsey from here. It would be easier to get to Jersey, but there were a couple reasons I wanted to go to Guernsey. It’s a drive of 1 hr 50 min. to get to St. Malo; the ferry takes about 1 hr 50 mins as well, and then there is the time in between. We arrived in Saint Peter Port about 1:00 pm.  We then picked up a rental car.  That was made more difficult, by the sobbing children surrounding the rental car desk.  There were some 50 inconsolable children making quite a racket.  I was reminded of the evacuation of children from the island in 1940, but this wasn’t an evacuation. I think it was French children going home after an exchange program.  They apparently had enjoyed their time on the island and developed close relationships with host families. Next time we go to Guernsey we won’t rent a car, not because of the children, but because of the roads on Guernsey.

The roads are very narrow and lined by walls or hedges on both sides with no shoulder.  Here is a road we walked on. This one is a bit wider than some of the ones we drove on. You can also see the Guernsey flag in this photo. Most of the roads were two-way, many too narrow for two cars, so one car would have to back up to a wider spot to let the other get by. At other times both cars had to squeeze very close to the walls in order to pass each other. Since they drive on the left, I was riding on the left and the walls going by so close to my left shoulder were really scary. Jim was driving a stick with the shift on the left and driving on the left on these very narrow roads.  For those reasons, on Saturday we took a bus into Saint Peter Port. The busses on Guernsey are great, so that’s what we would do next time. That was probably the only time we have ever had 2 rental cars and ridden a bus.



Guernsey has lots of flowers.  We see lots of flowers here in Normandy, but there were even more on Guernsey. Here is a photo of some large stalks of blue flowers that we saw in many places on the island. I don’t know what these flowers are called.

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And here is a photo of me standing on the west coast of the island.

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This photo was taken from above the town, looking out toward the port.

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For more of my photos of flowers and the Guernsey coastline, see this page.  And here is a second page of photos of Saint Peter Port.

Guernsey is also the home of Martine of the iMake blog and podcast, which was the main reason I wanted to go to Guernsey.


Martine had graciously invited us to tea at the Old Government House Hotel and tearoom. We sat in the garden, which was lovely. The tea was delicious, as I think you can see from the photo.  There were little sandwiches, scones with Guernsey butter and jam and mini desserts. I’ve been listening to Martine for about a year and hers is one of my favorite podcasts, so I was delighted to get a chance to meet her in person.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Use what you have decorating

This should be the last attic post.  I’ll try to get more travel pictures in the next few posts. We are leaving tomorrow for Le Havre, Etretat, Honfleur, Houlgate, Dives sur Mer, etc. We’ll be back Tuesday or Wednesday. It’s a short trip.

But yesterday we bought a few things for this room , so I did a little arranging today.  This room was a blank slate.  I figured I could do whatever I wanted here, but really didn’t want to spend much money on it and wanted to use the furniture we had.  That consisted of three items that were black metal—a bed, a futon bench and a clothes organizer.  So we started by moving those three items into the room. After much scanning images on the internet, I decided I wanted a brown and turquoise color scheme. I wanted a brown futon with turquoise accent pillows and lamps.

We came home with a black futon, because brown wasn’t available.  I also couldn’t find any turquoise lamp shades for the little lamps we have, but I did find two turquoise pillows (3 Euros each).  We also planned to get a couple light fixtures, but that was confusing and I didn’t see anything I liked well enough to pay the price on it.  So we came home with a temporary solution—two paper shades.

And once home I realized that the afghan in the living room was perfect for the futon and pillows, so it went up to that room.  Here are the pictures. 

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I put the sofa here, because it faces the window, which doesn’t show in the photo. If you sit in the futon you can see out the window.  If we make it up as a bed, we would move it to the far wall.

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We may figure out how to drop the lamp shade lower some day. The afghan is one my mother crocheted, which Marta brought over in October.

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The funny little end tables were in the second bedroom. They are made of wood slats, fabric and cardboard. They might weigh 2 or 3 pounds each.  If we could get some nice plywood cut to the size of the tops, we could make them flat and somewhat usable. The little lamps are too small, but they were here too, so they ended up in this room for now. I’m not sure if they’ll stay.

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The other side of the room.  That little lamp was removed. I was going to put the shades on that one and its twin, but then decided to go with the other two. I have 4 lamps and 3 shades. They are all pretty small.

I had some matching bedding for the twin bed and some towels in turquoise, so put them on the shelves here. I think that organizer will work well for guests. There is room to hang a few things and the shelves and that’s about all most travelers want. If the guest or guests are using the futon as a bed, this bed would work fine to hold suitcases.

And now, for the people who have been here and seen the ugly hallway outside the door, look at what it looks like now!

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The carpet here was tan and stained. Strangely, the workmen put the laminate right on top of the carpet. I don’t know if that was a good idea, but it seems fine.

The bathroom door is just to the right in this photo. The tiles in there are turquoise.

I would sound a lot smarter if I said I used the afghan to plan my color scheme around, knowing that it would coordinate with the aqua tiles in the bathroom. Yeah, that’s what I did—exactly.


Well hopefully I’ll have more travel pictures to share soon.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Attic renovation complete

I cleaned up the beams, stained them and Jim helped me with the priming and painting this week. We cleaned up today and took some pictures.

So here’s what you see when you enter the room.

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The laminate floor will be really easy to maintain.

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The new window and lower part of the beams.  If you compare to how they looked in the previous post you’ll see the result of the cleaning I did.  Though, getting the plaster off was easy. The hard part was that they were very dirty too.

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Another view of the beams, stained. The builder put that new bit on the floor to hide the part of the iron rod that came above the floor level.

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Last shot, looking up.

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And in case attic renovation isn’t your thing:

We went to a flea market in the next town on Monday (Pentecost) and picked up these items for 10 Euros.


On Wednesday, I decided to try to figure out how to recreate a Tarte Tatin we had had in St. Ceneri. It came out pretty well.

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This morning it was nice enough to eat breakfast outside. We had put together this table we found in the garage. This part of the garden is in the sun in the morning and in the shade in the afternoon, so we keep the other table on the patio, which is in the shade most of the time except late afternoon.

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And the big rose bush has started blooming this week.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Attic project nears end

We are told they will be done today. They are making a lot of noise up there today, installing the floor.  This is the first time we’ve heard hammering and banging. They brought in more wall board yesterday, which baffled us.  Maybe they will use it to level the floor?  They also brought in pressed board, which I assume is for the subflooring.
Here are some pictures.
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The wall board is all finished now. We are going to paint it ourselves.
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The new window.
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How the window looks from outside.  I had kind of liked the old brown window,
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which I asked them to leave for us,
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but it was in pretty rough condition, especially on the outside. And it was pretty drafty. I have some plans for it.  Stay tuned.  [link to picture of window project]
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I asked Jim to stand in the dormer space to show how tall it is.
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Now for the floor and to answer anyone who might ask why didn’t we just use the floor that was there.  First of all it didn’t cover the entire space, as you can see above.
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Then it had some bad spots.
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But mainly there was this rod going across the middle of the room just waiting to trip someone.
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The rod is several inches above the floor at the outside, but close to the floor near the door.
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And here is what I have been working on the past few days.  I finished the border on the rosemaled panel I did, and we hung it in the fireplace. Again this is covering a very ugly, unusable fireplace.
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This is hole 6 on the Golf course at Laval which Jim played and I walked yesterday. It hasn’t been nice enough to get out on the weekends, so Jim worked half days last weekend and took off yesterday afternoon to play golf in the sunshine.  In this photo you can see the green and part of the fairway. The valley that you can’t see goes way down and the tee is way down below the plateau you see in the distance.  This was quite a hole. It was a pretty golf course, though with beautiful views in all directions and a few holes going along the Mayenne river.
Okay, leave me comments to let me know you are reading this. It’s not really worth my time if no one reads it or lets me know what they think.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Attic project update

Day 3 progress pictures.

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It appears they are squaring things up.  We may have some right angles up here, which we don’t have below. And we are losing some space.

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They use these metal studs instead of wood.  They take up less space and are easier to carry up the narrow stairway as they stack together.

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Close-up of the western wall.

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Looking down at the floor on the eastern wall.

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The ceiling.


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Most of the wall board is up now.

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They just have this east wall to finish. They insulated this wall as well, though on the other side is the neighbor’s house, not the outdoors.

So that’s how the project stood for the long weekend.

Here are the new pictures from yesterday.

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One guy was here doing the taping and mudding. He also added more drywall on the front wall.  We won’t be able to see the original walls, but they weren’t great looking.

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I guess he ran out before he could finish the last corner.  He brought in one more half sheet today.  I think they did a good job estimating how much they would need, though.

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Today they have removed the old window and are installing the new one.  I guess the surgery was postponed.  I didn’t hear an explanation.

I asked them to leave the window in the garage.  I have some ideas for it as a decoration.  We’ll see how well that works out.

Friday, May 18, 2012


This small village is said to be one of the most beautiful villages of France.  It’s about an hour from here, so we decided to go see it for ourselves.

It had been rainy in the morning, but as we pulled into Saint Céneri we saw people putting down their umbrellas. The weather stayed dry while we were there.

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This village was visited in 1855 by artist Jean-Baptiste Corot, who is said to have fallen in love with it. More artists followed him and the village has attracted artists ever since. As can be seen from the banner above the street this month will see another meeting of artists here.

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This view of the stone bridge over the Sarthe is a popular one with artists and photographers.

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Here is the church in the village.

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On the wall at the back of the church we found this plaque.

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Roughly translated it says: “In 898 Charles III, (the Simple) sent his army to resist the Normans who protested against his reign. The soldiers, based not far from St. Céneri, conducted themselves disrespectfully around the church and the tomb of it’s founder. Some bees attacked those who performed this sacrilege. Frightened and not knowing where to flee, they ran over the edge of the cliff and fell to their deaths. Since that time bees have continued to protect the church.”

We saw bees coming and going from that hole next to the plaque.

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The nave of the church contains some modern metal sculptures representing the stations of the cross.

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The walls of the choir are covered in frescoes, which originally date to the 12th to 14th centuries, but were restored in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. 

Next we walked to a small chapel situated in the bend of the river.

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The door to this chapel is quite small—about 6 feet high.

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Looking back toward the church in the village.

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A pathway along the river took us back to the village.

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We stopped in a restaurant for a cup of tea and delicious Tarte Tatin, which I would describe as “apple upside-down cake.”  It was served with crème fraiche.

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Then we walked down to the stone bridge.

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And here are a couple more picturesque buildings in the town.

attic-st-cereri 064_18_1 On our way home we stopped at the church where St. Fraimbault is said to be buried at St. Fraimbault-de-Lassay, and then visited the castle of Lassay-les-Châteaux. But I already have lots of photos in this post, so I’ll save those for another day.