23 April 2014

Having fun with watercolour / aquarelle painting .

Before I went into hospital, I knew there would be times 
when I would be twiddling my thumbs,
so got myself some new sketching books,
and a few brightly coloured Faber Castell Pitt artist pens.
Then selected  a few of my Micron pigma pens 
 along with my Daler - Rowney Artists pencils.
I thought I'd try something new and what fun I had.
My friends have just come back from a trip to India
and brought me a lovely gift, a sketch book of handmade paper.
It has lots of raised little bits of wood and was certainly a challenge.
This is the lovely book.
It folds together with both curved edges just touching
 fastened with hand rolled silky cord and lovely buttons.
I love the way the paper easily tears from the binding.
 I'm sure I'll be finding lots of new ideas to use this paper .
On the way to the hospital we drove down an avenue of trees
 full of beautiful pink blossom. I knew I would love to paint this.
I didn't have my camera as I had other things on my mind !
But I didn't need it, it was imprinted in my mind,
just the thing for the hand made paper.
I wasn't sure how to tackle this quite flimsy paper,
so I tore a page out and jumped in with both feet.  
I kept it loose with not too much water
and was greatly surprised at my first attempt.

Recently I signed up to follow Polka dot April challenge 

This was my funky effort.
 I had great fun doing it.
But I haven't had the courage to send it !
One of the many blogs I follow is
Sharon Chapman at Wildflowerhouse
She has just become the proud owner of two of the most gorgeous
 fluffy cream coloured pups you could ever see.
   Pop over and have a look.
Her posts are varied and she paints lovely flower sketches.
 Recently she showed
Which really inspired me to try something completely different.
 I'm always doodling when I talk on the phone.
so thought this would be fun and it was.
At first I didn't know where to start
and then all of a sudden I found I'd run out of paper.
I'll certainly do some more.

Also I've been wanting to start a sketchbook journal for ages
and  read that lots of  people  who keep journals
 always recommend to buy one of good quality.
Naturally  : Moleskine 
so I treated myself to a 21x13 cm. Carnet aquarelle .
Which are not available locally where I live in France.
What would we do without Amazon. 
Also  Stillman and Birn Beta series seemed to be popular.
I thought that while I was dropping things into my Amazon basket
I'd get one of each.
This is the front page in the Stillman and Birn journal.
I'll show you some of the inside pages later.

I think I'll be using the Moleskine more for landscapes.
Hope you like the very varied sketches I achieved
in between my treatment while I was in hospital.
Now I'm back home still unable to do any gardening.
So I'm painting like mad.
I've also done some  Annie Sloan Chalk painting.
That's for later.
So for now I'll say
à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

21 April 2014

Leaving my garden to look after itself.

Not done intentionally , but sometimes things have to happen that way.
I'm back after my stay in hospital, having treatment on my back.
Although not completely sorted due to a little hiccough with my blood pressure,
which on the last day of my treatment decided to shoot sky high,
which meant I was unable to complete the full treatment,
 and will have to go back in a months time.
It is greatly improved, but I still can't do any gardening for awhile.
Fortunately his basket was planted up some time ago
so we did have a few nice things to see
 Tete a Tete daffodils
So regretfully I'll have to leave things to Mr France.
Gardening is not his thing.
 Not so very long ago he couldn't tell a weed from a cherished plant.
He does all the hard ground work and I do the planting.
I'll be giving advice and asking him just to do the most important things.
My big new flower bed will not happen this year.

At the moment it's looking like this.
But it's not important.
I'm thinking when the soil is levelled off, I'll just lightly rake in some seeds
which were gathered last year and hope for the best.
This is what they looked like last year when my niece collected them for me,
 it's where we go on one our favourite walks.


Our communes have been sowing wild flower seeds en-mass in certain areas for the past few years.  
They're left to grow on their own amongst the grass with no attention what so ever .
 but look so pretty, and as my garden is on the rustic side in places
I think they should fit in quite nicely.
This is the view from the front of our house.

Shall we start with the potting bench, where most of the preparation  begins.
Trailing Fuchsias which we over wintered indoors, coming along nicely
 Something I could do was watch & nurture
some of the cuttings growing, that I took back in September.

So what's been happening around the garden, naturally and unassisted?
I'll take you on a tour showing the good the bad & the ugly.

Work in progress, hopefully this will get finished.
Mr France loves to build rustic stone walls,
 using the stones left over from the renovation he did when we bought this old ruin 20 yrs. ago.

These Tete a Tete miniature daffodils are new
 they were planted last year in the work in progress new bank area.
Muscari  bulbs in bloom planted last year.
Two different varieties. 
and the ones in the trough appear every year
a little on the small side due to neglect, put a pretty blue.
These big blousey Tulips were planted here by my Danish daughter in law
over 15 years ago. They come up every year, but this year I think this is the best they have looked.
Maybe they put on a special show for me, to cheer me up for when I came home.


No seeds have been sown this year, I will be buying trays of plants this summer.  

Some trays of summer plants already bought for the window boxes & baskets.
This year not as many as usual.
Could be a sitting down job next week.



Hopefully, slow but sure I'll be back to my old self soon
doing what I love best
 pottering about in my garden.
Before I went into hospital I bought myself a new Stillman & Birn Beta sketchbook.
so while I was passing the hours in hospital I did some water colour sketches.
I'll show you some I did later in the week.
and maybe work in my garden will have progressed.
Thank you to all my friends who have sent me their kind wishes for my speedy recovery.
Some of you are also suffering with back problems, so I hope things are improving for you too.
 Even if I didn't leave comments on the usual blogs I follow I've loved reading your posts,
 keeping up to date with some of the things you've all been doing.

à bientôt

Barbara Lilian


30 March 2014

Scavenger hunt

My  photos for March.
I've had to do a lot of digging in my photo files to submit this time,
as I'm still not  well  and I'm now waiting to go into hospital for some treatment.
So please excuse my effort.

M. for mushroom.
This is a field mushroom which we often collect during Sept and Oct,
 it's the first time I've seen one as big as this.
I made cream of mushroom soup with it.

Mr France found this in September in the farmers field which is next to our boundary.

Our guests table set  for breakfast  in La Petite Maison.

Some Holly berries on the trees near our house.

This was taken in the late evening last summer
 of the Monastery in Rocamadour lit up.


This grate is our French 'Godin' wood-burner. with the door open.

Mr France working on the deck he built this time last year.

The chimney breast, which we built in our guest house .
 The bricks where from inside the old bread oven which unfortunately
 we were unable to save, it was too badly damaged.

Some antique cutlery I found at a Brocante
 when we first arrived in France 24yrs ago.

Some troughs and a hanging basket
 with Surfinas and trailing Geraniums
 on our summer balcony.

A cold  crisp morning ,
showing the frost on the ground and white on the tiles of our well.

A souvenir from our visit to the Basque  region in France, which borders Spain.
This was my ticket from our ride on Le Petite Train up the mountain.
The views were fantastic.

It's difficult to find a coloured door in my region of France.
Most of the properties are old stone cottages and have heavy oak doors ,
which are usually protected with a stain and not paint.

So this is my painted door.

I hope you liked seeing my contribution.

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian



05 March 2014

I suddenly realised it's March which means it's nearly Spring.

Usually I've been out in my garden 
 peeping in all the areas I know something should be showing signs of Spring.
But not feeling like or being able to do any work in the garden as
we had some nice sunshine today I took a stroll around and I wasn't disappointed.
 I found quite a few flowers.
These Pansies have been in flower all winter,
not as healthy looking as they should be.
also it looks like my Lavender cuttings are looking OK
strange as they don't like to be wet.
These Primula are always the first to flower.
just a few popping up here & there in the grass.

I didn't see any Crocus that were in the same area last year,
maybe they've rotted with all the rain we've had this winter.
  I know we have Voles that burrow under the surface of the ground
So I'd prefer it if they'd been eaten by them, it must be hard finding food.

This is another pot that I'd forgotten about, with more Pansies.
This will get moved around to brighten up an area that needs a bit of colour.

A large shrub of  Japonica.
Which flowers before the leaves appear.
It really should have had a good pruning.
I always bring a piece into the house to open up before they do on the shrub.

I hope these few flowers I found in my garden
brought Spring a little nearer to all my friends who are still getting snow. 
à bientôt
Barbara Lilian

28 February 2014

Scavenger Hunt - February

This is my 1st contribution joining in the February 

organised by

and already I'm having to apologise to you all !
Due to not feeling well,
not all of my photos have been taken in February.

I hope I'll be let of the hook this time. !
These are the photos I've chosen to show you for my 
February  Scavenger Hunt 


Feathered   family, proud father with his gorgeous friend
 their fluffed up chicks.

At 3 pm 

 when the sun is shining, this is where I sit to admire my garden


there's lots of different grains in this pile of wood.

The Lamp 
that lights up our terrace.


 to see this clock in Rocamadour France
You need to take 'Les Chemins de St Jacques de Compostelle'

 Honey from a local producer.

My Devon pottery honey pot brought with me to France .


If you were to go shopping at 'Galeries Lafayette' in Limoges
you could have lunch at one of the many restaurants
in  'Place de la République' and  see this beautiful fountain .

Something round

A garland I left  hanging from Christmas.
I've seen the birds coming to take the dried moss for their nests.


Lots of shadows from the low winter sun.


I know it's a flock of birds.
but the cranes flew over yesterday going back up north 
so I thought I'd use this for my photo of a group.
I have to tell you I only heard them,
I couldn't see them.
as it was pouring with rain and the sky was so grey 
 so this is an old photo.

Re purpose

This is my vintage wheelbarrow,
which I use to show off what ever flowers I have in bloom.
At the moment it's pansies and pine cones in vintage egg baskets.

This is what our sky has looked like for a long time

I've enjoyed taking these photographs
If you like to use your camera to capture a moment why don't you pop over to
green thumb Made with love

and see what the selection is for the month of March
and join in

à bientôt
Barbara Lilian