Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, OUT & ABOUT

Weekly Photo Challenge Green Autumn Color and Texture Tarn South West France

How Green – How Green this walk has been! Such a lot of green moss on the trees – I have no idea why – OK, the time of year is November, in the depths of Autumn here in South West France, but not particularly wet. In fact when we went on this local walk, we had bright blue skies and a temperature of 19 degrees.

OK, I know the photo challenge is green, but I couldn’t resist adding a little red – just as important during this autumn time – and so complimentary to the color green!

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, OUT & ABOUT

Fresco Paintings — Nicolaus Greschny

Nicolaus GreschnySome years ago, we were lucky enough to view a tiny Chapel, lost deep in the less-frequented regions of the Tarn.

Its exact location is best forgotten  as one of our party of three had wheedled the key from whomever it was who held it (not me I might add).

It isn’t normally open to the public. However, by those in the ‘know’, it’s renown for its splendid frescoes by Estonian painter Nicolaus Greschny.

He has painted well over 80 paintings, the majority of which adorn the walls of churches in the South of France. A year or two later, we enjoyed a guided tour of a larger church on the outskirts of Villefrance de Rouergue, in the Aveyron, again to view more frescoes by the same artist.

fresco detail01

So what is Fresco?

Should it happens to be asked when facing both the question-master and the ten million watching public, during your attempt to win the jackpot on “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire”, then just choose the option that has the following KEY Words — FRESH WET LIME PLASTER – MURALS – WATER BASED PIGMENTS – WALL PAINTING and the money’s yours!

fresco detail03fresco detail04 fresco icon paintingfresco icon paintingfresco icon paintingfresco icon painting

Posted in Blog, Color Shape Space, DÉCORATION, Inspirations, OUT & ABOUT

“Les nomads du silence” — exhibition by Sculptor, Jephan de Villiers

During our afternoon walk near Ginals earlier this year, we stopped off at the Abbaye de Beaulieu to view the exhibition there by the Belgian sculptor, Jephan de Villiers. It added an extra hour to the walk but there was no rush, the weather was warm, and we got more wonderful photos!

Jephan de VilliersAs a young boy, Jephan spent long hours in his grandmother’s garden near Versailles, collecting twigs, leaves and bits of bark to construct vast yet intricate model villages. He has since enjoyed a successful life as a sculptor of international acclaim. Here are some images of work from one of his recent exhibitions, his delightful and whimsical “Nomads of Silence” – magical miniature figures reborn from the dead and decaying detritus of the forest floor.

les nomads

sad eyed lady of the lowlands



egg and nest

figure on wire

Posted in Blog, DIY Hints & Tips, House Renovation, Tools & Materials, TUTORIALS

Our Old Flagstones get a New Home

…. from a pile of slabs……. to a classy stone floor ….here’s how…

opus romain patternslabs laid out in the courtyard
We laid these flagstones in an “Opus Romain” pattern — laying the flags in regular rows,  but varying the row-width across adjacent rows.

You need to decide beforehand on which widths you are going to use. Commercially available flooring in this pattern usually come in 3 widths; for example, 60cm, 45cm and 30cm. The lengths of the individual slabs will vary so that each width will have say a couple of rectangular sizes and maybe a square size.

“Sounds complicated?” “Not really, once you see a picture or two of how the pattern works, it all pretty obvious.”

Opus Romain stone flooring

…….so onto a few ‘Tips & Tricks’…….

  • Sizing  the Flagstones : This is perhaps the trickiest part of the job! There are no hard and fast rules—you need to assess what you have to work with and try and work out the best width options to choose—to achieve a pleasing pattern without undue waste.
  • Essential Tools — Angle Grinder (preferably with a diamond/carbide disc), club hammer and bolster cold chisel, eye protectors, ear protectors and face mask, tape measure, T-square and marking chalk or pencil.
  • Cutting stone with the grinder – make the straight cuts with the grinder steadily and evenly, letting the machine cut gradually to its maximum depth, around a few cms or so. It isn’t necessary to cut a stone “all-the-way-through.” Then with the bolster chisel inserted around the middle of the cut, give it a few sharp blows with the club hammer—and it should split away cleanly and easily.
  • As you can see in one of the images above, I’ve angled the grinder slightly “off-vertical” — undercutting the edge. This is a little trick to make it easier to lay the cut edges of the flags closer to each other, avoiding the chances of odd lumpy bits left after breaking stopping the close fitting of two adjacent flags.
  • Then carefully and gently tap along the top of the cut edges with the club hammer, chipping little fragments away to leave a more natural looking stone
  • Finally, should it be necessary to remove some stone from the underside of a particularly thick slab, make a series of close parallel cuts, and repeat again at 90°, and then chip these away carefully with the hammer and chisel. (A great way, incidentally, to make your own stone dice!).

"Opus Romain" style of laying paving
You may then decide whether to grout the spaces between the stone with a lime mortar — or simply brush in some sand or fine gravel. Depends on what look you’re after.

And if the floor is exposed to light and rain, then you’ll need to weed the cracks from time to time if they haven’t been grouted.

So give it a try and “Bonne Chance!”