Monday, 28 February 2011

Of babies and car boots

Saturday evening saw the return, safe and sound (if a little bedraggled round the edges), of our very own baby from her school ski trip.  She'd had a great time, enjoying her first taste of ski school with instructor, Gunther.  She'd managed to come fourth in her end of week race, beaten only by three sixth formers!

Sunday morning was bright and sunny, so I decided to wander down to the local car boot. Here's what I came back with...

One very-grubby-but-somehow-still-charming mat...

An old print in a slightly shabby frame...

A very pretty little plate...

An eye-catching green jug...
(This is a bit of a Marmite item - I haven't yet decided if I love it or hate it!)

I quite like it from this side (above) and can imagine it on a summer table with mayonnaise or a watercress sauce in it.  But I'm less sure about this side.  It might be a grower. (It's Falcon Ware - Springtime pattern)

A very sweet French coffee cup and saucer...

A not-very-old-at-all tin...

And a pink glass dressing table set, the photo of which will not download.

Very satisfactory!

I love coming home and plonking everything I possibly can into some hot, sudsy water. The mat had a lovely aged look to it, but it did have a horrible pong too, so it is now several shades lighter and considerably sweeter smelling!

Later in the day we set off for the Dulwich area to see a new member of the family...

 Hannah Elizabeth, 11 days old,

daughter of our niece and her husband, whose wedding we so enjoyed 
the summer before last. 

She's a little beauty!

Congratulations to the clever parents on producing such a delight!

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Home-Run Booty

You may remember this lovely stove from a previous post...

Well, Mr U-t-B and I got talking about it to the nice young man who was working the season in this particular eaterie, and he happened to mention loving going to the local Brocante in Taninges.  When we drive up the mountain, we always see a yard full of bits and pieces and a Brocante sign in Taninges, but have never actually stopped - probably because we normally travel overnight, so shopping isn't part of the deal.

Anyway, our interest was piqued by this conversation and, as we were not in a tearing hurry to get home, we decided we'd stop, if it was open (which seemed unlikely as we were likely to pass through Taninges at about half twelve, and lunchtime is sacrosanct in France!)

We parked the car near the yard, and clambered out.  There was a selection of old ski-lift 'bubbles' scattered around, a beautiful old carriage and an interesting wooden, 
pagoda-like outbuilding, but also a barrier and 'Defense d'entrer'.  As we trudged away, slightly disappointed, Mr U-t-B spotted a notice saying that 'Bric & Broc' could be found down the Route de Samoens.  

So down the Route de Samoens we drove.  And this is what we found... enormous old barn surrounded front, side and back with piles of interesting paraphernalia, and filled to the gunnels to boot. There was everything imaginable, from stuffed badgers to chandeliers, old wrought-iron garden furniture to ancient ice-picks, rusty old swords to vintage linens and skates to cartwheels. 

And what's more, it was open, in spite of it being most definitely lunchtime!

There was much oohing and aahhing as we poked around.  Mr U-t-B was really keen to look at stoves (and there were several rather nice ones), but I spotted a container full of metal spindles that I thought might be good for a job he needs to do this summer.  

So it was that our luggage ended up on the back seat of the car as the boot got filled with these beauties. 

 Well, not quite yet beauties, but they will be, I'm sure!
A little bit of paint stripping should reveal their inner beauty.

We bought a three metre length of railings too, but as we didn't have the roof rack with us, we will have to go back to collect that.  So I'll be saving my pennies so I can delve amongst the linens and china when we go back!

Next stop was the hypermarket to grab a sandwich. As well as the sandwiches, 
Mr U-t-B treated me to these two lovely magazines.

The first has instructions to make various shaped fabric and embroidery covered boxes.  Most of them are not quite what I have in mind in terms of the covering, but it is the instructions and patterns for the boxes I was most interested in.  I do want to have a go at the little bird box from the front cover though! 

The step-by-step photographic instructions look easy-ish to follow...

The second magazine is full of red samplers.  
I rather like this tray cloth.

I love this rose motif - very 1930s.

All these bits are taken from one of the samplers. I think I would love the variety of different alphabets and motifs in this one.  I rarely do cross-stitch these days, but I think this sampler may get me going again.

The sampler that contains this alphabet and border is another contender.  

I like the way they divide each of the large sampler up into zones - it makes it look more achievable somehow.  

So we're back home now!  It's great to go away, but it's also lovely to be back home.

Friday, 25 February 2011


Before I mentally put away our lovely holiday, thought I'd share some snaps and information about where we like to stay when we go skiing.

Some people would probably think we are mad to keep going back to the same place for our hols, but we've found somewhere that really suits us, and there's so much to enjoy there!

Avoriaz is in the heart of the Portes du Soleil, which (with 650km of pistes) is the largest skiing area in Europe and one of the largest in the world. Stretching from Mont Blanc to Lake Geneva, it takes about an hour and a half by car to reach Avoriaz from Geneva airport, though it is also not too difficult to drive from the UK  - about a ten hour drive from Calais, with fairly generous stops.

Avoriaz is a purpose-built resort, set at an altitude of 1800m, so a good bet for snow coverage.  It has a unique architectural style, with acutely-angled and cedar-clad buildings.  From the surrounding valleys, it simply blends into the mountain scenery - no scar on the landscape.

Notice what's missing?


Avoriaz is car-free. You drive up to the arrival point, unload your bags and park in one of the car parks, or you can park down near Morzine (this is free at the moment) and take the cable car up.  You can then either lug your bags to your accommodation yourself, with the help of one of the wooden cratey-sledgey things, or ask for a 'transport'.  During the daytime and early evening this normally means one of these...

A tinkly, clippy-cloppy horse-drawn sleigh!

(At other times it's a 'navette chenillée' - a pod on caterpillar tracks.  if you're lucky, the driver will do a 360 degree handbrake turn as they arrive to pick you up!)

There are a few chalets, though not of the traditional Savoyard design...

... and one hotel, the HÔTEL DES DROMONTS ***  

which used to be a really trendy destination in the 1960s and 70s - 

the 'Saint Tropez de Neige '.  

But most of the accommodation is in self-catered apartments.

Ski-in, ski-out is the order of the day in Avoriaz - no buses to run to in ski-boots, lugging skis and poles; no cramped cable cars to reach the slopes.

There's the renowned Annie Famose Children's Village (where Miss U-t-B wants to work when she's a bit older), lots of fun for children of three and up as they get confident with skis and have lots of fun in the snow.  

There are pistes to suit most skiers, from the easy greens and blues of the Super-Morzine 

area, to the blues and reds down to the Lindarets area, and the reds and blacks of the 

Fornets and Haut-Forts areas.  

You can quite easily ski to the slopes of nearby Châtel or over to Les Crosets, Morgins or Champéry in Switzerland.  

If you want a challenge, the world-famous 'Swiss Wall' is a two-lift ride away from the 
centre of the resort - but DON'T expect to find me there!

There's quite a lot of building going on in Avoriaz at the moment.  The work has mostly stopped for the winter months and all the works in progress are adorned with enormous, brightly coloured teddy bears in various poses!

Made me smile!

I think the development is probably part of the Annecy bid for the Winter Olympics in 2018, which, if won, will see the women's downhill in Avoriaz (so Mr U-t-B tells me). 

 There's going to be a huge water park built too - Aquariaz, it is to be called. According to the stuff I've read, the aqua centre will feature large tropical swimming pools, a lazy river, water slides and a climbing wall. It will be about 2000m² and built in a conservatory-style structure, allowing swimmers to enjoy mountain views from inside a tropical paradise. 

So that's Avoriaz!  And no, I'm not being paid by their Tourist Office!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Snowy, sew-y days

Mr You-Know-Who says I should be shot for that title, but it does sum up today rather well!

We woke up this morning to find that it had been gently snowing for quite some time -  about three inches had fallen and it was still coming down, oh-so softly.  Mr U-t-B went to fetch some fresh bread and 'pain aux raisins' for breakfast, then we wrapped up warmly and set off to try to take advantage of the new covering of snow.  

Luckily, most people seemed to have been put off coming out early, so we were the first up several lifts,and the first to make tracks in the powder.  This is what my dear husband lives for. 

Unfortunately, though, I do not seem to be designed for what most skiers consider to be great conditions, and I found myself disorientated in the poor visibility, and hating the fact that I couldn't tell where the contours of the slope lay.  Although we do go skiing each year, it has actually been ages since I've skied in conditions like this, so after a morning of trying to be positive about it, I wimped out and headed back to the apartment to do something a little less fraught -SEW!

I've been working on some more felt cottages, as they are the perfect portable project.
Two of these are heading for Austria!

I am enjoying these all the more since I learnt to do French Knots properly!

I am trying to remember to mix different coloured strands of thread for some of the stitching as I think it makes it more interesting.

I did venture out again in the afternoon, but only really for a last glass of that 
white vin chaud, and to say goodbye to the nice people in the mountain hut 
where they serve it! 

 So tomorrow we head back home.  I have had a lovely break (I can even mention that word now the borrowed skis have gone back!) and have been spoiled rotten.  I could really get used to this!

Sunny Days

Yesterday the sun shone and we had another carefree day on the slopes.  We were out for most of the day, catching the first lift and returning with the crowds around half past four.

The consequence of all this skiing is that my thigh muscles are most definitely waving the white flag of surrender and I can barely move now!  Serves me right for a distinct lack of physical exercise the rest of the year...

Once again our day consisted of quick blasts of downhill activity, punctuated by stops at mountainside eateries.

My skiing continues to improve, all thanks to the borrowed skis.  I don't think I am quite ready for Olympic trials yet, and it is still the case that whenever I reach the bottom of a slope, Mr U-t-B has already got his slippers on and is smoking a pipe, but, you know, I'm feeling rather chuffed with myself! (Only joking about the pipe!)

There were no stuffed goats for me to take photos of today (thank goodness, I hear you say!) It was more a day of breathtaking views. 

We returned to 'L'Alpage du Crot' for another white vin chaud this afternoon.

 This poster on the wall had the title 'Le Bonheur est simple'.

For this old couple, it seems that coffee, croissants and companionship (plus cows!) are the key to happiness.  We're keeping it simple here too, and it makes for a very happy break.