Friday, April 29, 2011

The Royal Wedding

What a lovely surprise, no one was expecting William and Kate or the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge as they are now known to drive the short distance from Buckingham Palace to Clarence house like this, in a decorated Aston Martin Volante that belongs to Prince Charles a 21st Birthday gift from the Queen. I think it is definitely a sign of things to come, a more modern and relaxed monarchy.

The first glimpse of the dress, absolutely stunning and very reminiscent of Princess Graces wedding dress, I was thrilled that the rumours were true and she had chosen Sarah Burton for McQueen, I shed a tear at this point.  I loved the simplicity of the floral arrangements and the bouquet, green and white, my favourite combination, lily of the valley perfect for this time of year.

Inside Buckingham Palace, the last tweaks to the cake.

For me the Middleton family stole the show, Pippa, looked sublime and almost upstaged the bride, how gorgeous is James Middleton?  And her Father was impeccable, Kate's Mother looked fabulous in Catherine Walker, a great nod to Diana.

Two very happy people.

Kate dressed for the evening do, in another wonderful Sarah Burton for McQueen creation, the fifties theme, once again very strong.
I am looking forward to seeing the going away outfit.

London at it's very best, the atmosphere must have been amazing.

And here they are the morning after, Kate in her going away outfit, which is very understated and summery they have just left Buckingham Palace for their honeymoon by helicopter, my guess is they will be taken to an airport and leave by private jet to a warm, sunny and very private destination, there is much speculation by the media.  They have requested total privacy I hope they are left alone, we don't really need to know where they are.

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Night Before

Kate lookalike

How excited must Kate Middleton be tonight? Tomorrow she will be marrying her Prince and sealing her place in history.  I can't wait to catch the first glimpse of the dress, she will be aware that she will become a huge fashion icon after the wedding, so it's important for her to make her mark with her wedding dress.  I wonder which tiara she will choose, one borrowed from the Queens collection or will she wear the Spencer family tiara, my moneys on the latter the world will find out tomorrow.

Kate at The Goring earlier this evening with her Mother and Sister, looking happy and relaxed.

I wish them all the best for a long life of happiness and love.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

French House for Sale

Front of house and garden

Don't worry I have not turned this blog into an estate agency I am simply helping my Father out, at the tender age of 82 my Father has decided to sell his holiday home in France as he wishes to spend more time in Britain and the US.  I am helping him with the marketing of the property.

The estate agents round here charge exorbitant amounts of commission and in reality do very little work, so we have decided to self market, I am launching it on this blog first before I let it lose on the property websites.

Dad's house is only around 30 years old but it is well built and solid and it is built in traditional Bigourdan style. (Bigorre is the old name for the region that lies to the north of the Pyrenees and in the upper valleys of the Ardour River, now situated in the 65, Hautes Pyrenees department of France, which remains one of the most unspoiled and majestic of regions)

I won't say too much more about it as I really don't want to sound like an estate agent, instead I will show you round...

Front and side of house

The house is set on an acre of land, Dad has not landscaped it too much as he loves simplicity and it is his holiday home, so he wanted to keep it low maintenance, the only job that needs doing is cutting the grass, however for the adventurous the land is really fertile and the soil is rich, it is a gardeners dream, there are endless possibilities and with an acre the world is your oyster, vegetable garden, small holding, or luxurious swimming pool and terrace, it is all possible...

Back garden and view of house

Back garden view from the house

Trees that lead to...

The River Neste, a tributary of the Garonne at the bottom of the garden

A large decked sun terrace, and view from the front of the house, on a clear day you can see the mountains.

 The kitchen

The house looks deceptively small on the outside but it is actually very spacious, at present it comprises 120 sq meters of living space (1291 sq ft) this comprises three double bedrooms and two bathrooms, one with a shower and one with a bath, a sitting room, kitchen diner and hallway, every bedroom has built in wardrobes with more built in wardrobes and storage in the hallway.  There is a huge sous sol with cave (garage,basement and wine cellar) that runs underneath the the entire length and breadth of the house and a large attic space which also runs the entire length and breadth of the house made with beautiful chestnut wood floor boards and an exposed ceiling, ripe for turning into a sumptuous master suite (Dad has always said if he had been younger he would have done this!)

Sitting room

Sitting room

Bedroom one

Bedroom two

Bedroom three

Outside the drive looking right

Outside the drive looking left

What more can I say, the house is ready to move into but also has a huge amount of potential (I am really worried now that I sound like an estate agent but it is true!) all the windows and doors are double glazed (tastefully) complete with wooden shutters, he wants to sell it 'as is' with all furniture, fixtures and fittings, gardening tools and sit upon lawn mower included, he even wanted to throw in his car and motor bike, yes my Dad even in his eighties still tears around on the country roads on a motor bike, I think he will sell  those separately, the asking price is 230,000 Euros, (legal and notary fees not included), what do you think?
Interested?  You can find my e mail on my profile page.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The French Countryside

Even when the sun is not shining the French countryside is beautiful at this time of year, whilst running an errand the other day, I took a wrong turn and got lost, after living here for nearly nine years, I still get lost and constantly discover new and beautiful things. Down here in deepest France the countryside is a labyrinth of windy country lanes and narrow tracks which often lead to small villages and hamlets.

This is my favourite time of year, the cycle has begun again and everything is coming back to life it is like witnessing the greening of the earth.  Whilst getting lost I discovered a whole new landscape, although only a few miles away from where we live this landscape is totally different, as you have seen from previous posts our landscape is breathtaking and dramatic, this landscape is a lot softer, gentle rolling hills, hedgerows and green, green fields.

If you are coming to France this year, get off the auto routes and take the D roads and if you get lost, enjoy it!

Whilst I was lost I found this very unusual and romantic, abandoned farmhouse in a tiny hamlet, I am intrigued by it, you don't often see farmhouses with turrets!  I wonder what the story is, I am going to have to find out more about it.

Back to our garden we have lots of gorgeous white blooms in flower at the moment.


Clematis Montana

Pyracantha (Firethorn, it has masses of bright red berries in the autumn)

Wishing you all a wonderful and happy Easter.

Monday, April 18, 2011


Dolores Del Rio 1935

I love this outfit, pure sybaritic splendour!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Designs on the Garden!

Been doing an awful lot of gardening over the past few days we have got it looking quite elegant now...

However there is a problem area...

We built the steps a few years ago, we have fed electric lines down but have never been quite sure what to do with it, MG started on a gravel path which you can hardly see now as it is obscured by weeds, even the weeds have weeds, it's been a wild flower meadow and there was talk of a pretty vegetable/salad garden with raised beds and gravel with a seating area, now it is sadly neglected and used as a garden dumping ground, we really need to get down there and strim the whole lot and then tackle the giant weeds but after working in the top garden we are often too tired.  Frankly I am at the stage where I would get a bulldozer in to clear and level it, and then...well I had something like this in mind...

Friday, April 15, 2011

Veiled Ladies

Louise Dahl-Wolfe

La Pudicizia Velata, Antonio Corrandini

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend

Thursday, April 14, 2011

How Discerning Are You?

This was originally going to be a post about a hotel that I have always wanted to stay in, however whilst doing research for the post I happened upon trip advisor and to be honest there were far too many genuinely negative reviews for me to possibly write about it on this blog, granted, the hotel in question also had many positive reviews but the amount of negatives for the cost, starting price for a room per night £300 rising to £620 per night and that is with no extras had me aghast.  What really shocked me was the owner/management response to the complaints on trip advisor, they said it all really, customers had already complained about the arrogant and defensive manner in which the owners/management had dealt with complaints sadly this was backed up by their responses to the complaints on trip advisor and I read all of them!

What really rankles is the fact that whoever the guest; the discerning, well travelled or someone who has scrimped and saved for an extra special treat, the hospitality in a hotel who's starting price is £300 should be second to none.  I am not naive there will always be complainers and the person looking to beat the price down, no matter how good or bad the service is but the important thing is not what the complaint is but how the recipient deals with it, no one should put up with aggression or downright rudeness, there is a way to complain and a way to deal with it.  The customer is always right, if he delivers his complaint in the correct manner then the recipient should return the courtesy by dealing with the complaint in the correct manner and many hearts have been won by the way an establishment deals with a complaint or a tricky issue.  Word of mouth is the best form of advertising, these days word of mouth is rife on the internet so it's even more important to get it right, get it wrong and you run the risk of losing hundreds of potential customers.

Apologies for quoting a cliché but 'people do buy people first' good training and education stands for a lot, the art of teaching perception and being able to deal with people in the correct manner even if they are rude or arrogant is still of paramount importance, call me old fashioned but I believe that these values should still be upheld, no matter what the value of the business.