Friday, December 16, 2011

La Tempete - Heavy storms!!!!!!

Calm after the storm - or is it the in the eye????

Carnage!……..Two days of raging winds and unrelenting rain. Trees down, flooded land and surrounding areas, spur and driveway and water entering all windows and doors at front of the house through the ferocity of the winds….but the lake is filling up!....Good case of careful what you wish for!
Various areas around Bandouille where trees have been lost!

Last night (Thursday)…I think the winds picked up again around 7pm and even now as I type at4.30 Friday afernoon the winds have hardly slowed (except for half an hour or so to take the rainbow pic).  My greatest and saddest losses are the Magnolia tree and the wonderful fir (but we did expect that to go at some point given that the last storm had already weakened its roots and it had started to lean precariously) that we had in the front garden and my wiggly willow on the lake.  So now what….we wait till its dry enough to cut down and cut up the fallen trees and store them for another winter 2 years down the line.  So not all lost then!

Apologies for the break between postings, but this is due to life outside the computuer going on, as it does.   And since the last post I have visited England to go to some art events to promote our Art Holidays ( and of couse to see my lovely children too. 

Kieko Tanabe
Great news!!!!!    We have  taken onboard Keiko Tanabe ( as a fantastic guest tutor from California and hope to be announcing some other familiar names in the near future…So keep popping in to find out more. Keiko will be running a workshop April 15th – 21st and I am really excitied with the prospect of painting with her…Come and join us! For more information visit our website on her page - click here

Pattern repeat block
Not really painted much since Buttermouse, but in saying that have done two Robins for Christmas and have zentagled lots designing a birthday card from my daughter Holly….Got a bit messy in the end as complicated it a lot…..but fun nonetheless.

In November I was thrilled to discover that I was one of three winners of the Sunflower competition on and am now awainting my prize of 3 books that I selected to a value of £30.00….and also during November I was shocked to find that I had won 2nd and 3rd place in a photography competition for our AVF group depicting Parthenay – a local medieval town.  AVF. (Accueil Ville Francaise) – the group I belong to.  Amazing…So the prizes from that were two days out – one to Puy de Fou (an incredible medieval attraction park) and the Japanese gardens not so very far away…..Happy?  You bet!

Parthenay - 2nd prize
Parthenay - 3rd prize

So a couple of painting ideas formulating in my head but have some other things to sort first.

The refectory….It has now been tiled and is lovely and warm..We have yet to furnish it and move in for the winter, but so far it has not been cold enough (I am not wishing anything……) to do so.  This we will do slowly after Christmas….But looking good! And Drew can't wait to move in there with the telly!!!!!

In the meantime my blogging friends and visitors I wish you the very best that this season brings and Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and please feel free to leave a comment on any of the postings!

Bix and Drew x

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Refectory Renovation - Complete!

This is our beautiful Refectory (a place where the monks gathered to eat)…..It was beautiful before, but now that it is practically in domestic use even ,better.

We started renovating this just over two months ago starting with sandblasting the walls, which was a mammouth task and extremley dusty..Although we covered every window and doorway and sealed every crook and cranny we thought exisited the dust still found its way through the house leaving behind its gritty residue…and this with 3 days to spare before our September guests arrived for their Art holiday…..PANIC!!!!!!

After our guests left we then had to deal with the Refectory floor. Although it already had a covering of concrete on it (done by the previous owner) it needed to be levelled ready to have the pipe system laid ontop  in preparation for the Heat Exchanger system.  (A machine that takes the heat from the air – like a fridge in reverse) Which heats up water which is then pumped through the pipes on the floor.   This took about three days to dry and then the workforce arrived to lay the pipes.  As you can see this was quite an intricate job but the boys seemed to know what they were doing…A few days after this the top layer of concrete was piped through a large tube and levelled out and then the Refectory was sealed for just over a week, when it was then firm enough to walk on but now had to be ventilated after the curing process.

We are now at the point that the Heat exhange machine has been connected to the outside of the Refectory (and at a later stage will have a wooden box covering it, so its more pleasing for the artists to paint) and a huge water tank has been installed in the “little room” ready to pump the warm water around the system.  We are hoping that the pipes and the system will extend as far as our living room as we have left space under the floor to implement this technology.  So we are nearly there.  This room will act as our “warm den” for the winter months and as a communal area for our guest throughout the summer months.  So watch this space to see how we tile it in the next few weeks and then furnish it too…..Oh what fun! 

13th November and the thermometer says 20 degrees...madness, but oh so lovely.  The colours of our changing trees are glorious and the light is wonderful for taking lots of photos - like this little fairy village of toadstools...aren't they wonderful and there are even more poking their heads through the ground ready to erupt in colour.....


These are a couple of things that I have been doing in this last week. 

Hanging Basket
Zentangle was something that I discovered at the beginning of the year and got hooked on and have signed up with for regular pattern updates and ideas.  Although it looks complicated it is in actual fact very relaxing and has helped a lot with my drawing too. You too can create your own unique Zentangle design by just looking around you as repeat patterns appear everywhere...Look closer and see! Well worth a go!  
Fish Dinner

The fish I saw in a supermarket promotion ad and couldn’t resist giving them a go.  Started with watercolour and finished off with pastels which helped highlight the spots on the skin and I used salt in the background.  Great fun!

This little picture was done for the Paint my Photo November Challenge and it comes from an amazing photograph called Buttermouse from Pixelbloke who is a member...I just had to try it and test some of my theories and experiment a bit too...and I love the outcome. 

For copyright free photos to paint from visit  This site is run by Roy Simmons (who is an amazing artist using cheap materials (ordinary emulsion brushes etc) and paints in a wonderful loose style too) and has just launched his ebook - details can be found here. Take time to navigate the site for more of his paintings.

Enough for now and I will be back here again in a couple of weeks.  Have fun!


Tuesday, November 1, 2011

I can never resist taking pictures of our lovely sunrises here at Bandouille!

A week has lapsed since I wrote last and apologies for that, but with this crazy October/November weather could not really be kept indoors infront of the computer writing for the blog…Oh the irony!  I intended starting this blog because of the winter months and the cold weather and hey presto we have had between 18-21 degrees this last week…Madness!
But we made really good use of it!

Finally got our bonfires going…that to me is always a sign of the oncoming winter and burning the leaves.  We also managed to catch this little chap unwittingly in our coypu trap…Of course we let him go and he was really camera shy!  This is the third one we have caught this way, with a bit of apple to tempt him….not the usual hedgehog diet – me thinks!  Disappeared quickly enough though!  Ahh!  And the neglected veg patch that was started and will be finished. It will, it will.....  But that digging is so hard!

With this lovely bit of late sunshine my figs are getting bigger and more ripe and I was blessed by the lovely Brian with a nice bunch of rhubarb and my brain began to whirrrrrrrrrr!  Fig, Rhubarb and Ginger jam I thought – and did! Seriously yum!

So based on this recipe but reducing the sugar by 200gr so 1kg of each of figs, rhubarb and sugar and I added a good thumb of grated fresh ginger and instead of four lemons used two and two oranges, zest and juice.

The sugar I used was a JAM SUGAR or PRESERVING SUGAR which is really useful and worth the extra pence.

That this sugar not only contains citric acid (therefore reducing the need of too many fresh lemons) but also pectin too to help thicken the jam.  Check the contents to make sure this is the case on all Jam Sugars…

Note dented lid - since replaced!
This online reciped also comes with an amazing pectin stock recipe made from the waste of peeling apples.  (Wish I had know that when making all that chutney!). Check it out on the link above!

Finally cooked and jarred up (7 jars) and set to cool and couldn’t wait to taste….properly that is!  And taste I did…but was in such a rush to get the jar opened, that I dropped it and it landed on a strange angle on my toe and judging by the pain and the colour of toe, reckon I broke it….so beware  Fig, Rhubarb and ginger jam should come with a warning label!!!!!

Oh boy it does tasted good though and I reckon this could become a new favourite with scones or even drop scones! Let me know what you think and what you eat it with!

Also this week managed to paint a couple of pictures.  Two that I have wanted to do for a while.  The first was a pic from a magazine that to me showed a lovely French scene and I love the inclusion of the French flag.  The reason why I chose this was mainly to get my head around perspective, but something clicked and I used a few techniques that I knew (but didn’t often put into practice) and hey presto….I was happy with the outcome..So more buildings are going to be practised now without a doubt.

The second is (as you can see) a portrait….I really want to do portraits of my children (grownups now of course) and one of Drew’s neice too, but felt I had to practice and followed some portrait tips and techniques first before going into family images.  I chose this picture as I liked the strong contrast in the photo but unfortunately the photo was zoomed in on and I lost facial characteristics but had what I needed to work from and I like the result.  So by measuring distances between the eyes eyes to nose, nose to mouth etc placed everything proportionally where it should be and it worked…Why am I always surprised!….Lots learnt and rules followed and now feel happier to move forward with my portrait work  too.  So watch this space.

Useful tip!♠ 
In the meantime a friend of mine (Roena from sent me this little tip via email.  So for all of you fans of corn on the cob and not enough pan space to cook them for a corn feast take note!

Cooking corn in a cool box – it works…..!!!!!

A cool box is retrieved from where it normally lives in your abode.  Is then wiped clean,  filled with the cobs of corn. Next, two kettles-full of boiling water are poured over the corn (or enough to cover) and the top closed.

Then nothing.

30 minutes later and open it, and the corn was is perfectly cooked.  I'm told that the corn will remain at the perfect level of doneness for a couple of hours.

Great tip Ro and I am sure that it will be used everywhere….what a great idea and not only space saving on the stove but also energy saving too…..

So with all this said and done…enjoy the weather (if you have weather to enjoy) and the autumn colours and pop by and see what else is in store at Bandouille.

Next time will have more information on how our Refectory is coming on to make it into a warm place to be over the winter and this will double up in the summer as a great communal area for our guests too.

See you next time!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Out in the Garden at Bandouille!

Painting from Geoff Kersey exercise

What a wonderful weekend we just had! The weather was autumly wonderful! Full of the colours you would expect at this time of year.
Foggy in the morning, warm and sunny during the day and chilly in the evening. Enough chill to warrant the woodburning stove being on enhancing the cosy quality of our farmhouse  kitchen.  I love these days!

We were working all weekend clearing the garden and all around the lake using the tractor and the chainsaw.  We had a few dead trees that needed to come down or just pulled out..  Now these have all been chopped up and loaded on the tractor and stored in the barn for two years before they can be used for our huge fireplace in the lounge.

Our chimney sweep! M. Behlas
Knowing that it is now fire burning season we thought we would call in our local chimney sweep but were unable to get hold of him…..but left a message nonetheless just for him to call us!   The next thing we know he arrives chez nous in the afternoon and offers to clean the chimney immediately…Very unusual service!….A bit befuzzled, we agreed and ½ an hour later one ready to use chimney…..Hoorah!   

So on Saturday evening -  with two large bonfires lined up to burn tomorrow. Logs stored. The lavender bushes trimmed, and some of leaves raked up and front garden mown…..all good things had to come to an end…The siton mower packed up and on waking up on Monday morning after the howling winds in the night the garden is again covered in leaves and more clearing of dead twigs and branches is required.GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR! 

And if that wasn’t enough ….its now pouring with rain……But I have to add much needed rain for our rapidly diminshing lake and very thirsty trees and plants.

Lets see what tomorrow brings! 

At least some of us are enjoying it!......Oh well.... C’est la vie!  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Simple as ABC - A Bandouille Chutney!

 A glorious morning across Bandouille Lake and the first show of frost on the ground.

Felt some cooking coming on.  Ideal plan for a cold Autumn morning and thought I had better try and relieve some of the heaving apple and pear trees in the orchard and collect some figs before the frost detroys them.

(1 hour later)
Now with all my fruits gathered am off to the kitchen to find out what I haven’t got in my larder to continue!

(2 hours later)……..

Well lucky me….all the things that I needed for completing the chutney were safely stored in my larder area.  I based it on a recipe found on the internet -       and added some star anise, cardomon seeds, chillis, oranges and celery and then  left to cook for a couple of hours. I bypassed the bit about putting everything into a processor as I like my chutney to be chunky….it all simmers down to a good pulpy mix anyway.

Hey presto!!!!! This is the result…..15 jars of very rich and dark and spicy Apple, Pear and Fig Chutney…..Yum! I doubled the quantity by the way to get 15 small/medium jars......

Last year I made some similar with Quince added and walnuts too and we ate the last jar of this a couple of weeks ago.  Beacause of the vinegar content it stores quite happily in a cool dark place.

Am now going to do some experiments with the figs……will let you know what I come up with.

Off to put some labels and lid dresses on these babies and then have to think who will get one of these at christmas!

Enough for now…see you later!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Welcome to the Bandouille Blogspot


Yay!..................Our first blogpost  has been launched.

Visit us here to find out what we are doing at Bandouille.  This may be renovations to the property or Art holiday information relating to our site, fishing information relating to our site or me just rambling on about stuff that I have found out around our local area and recipes that work.

Who knows! But its going to be fun and I do love to ramble on the internet so what better spot to do it on.

Please feel free to roam both the above sites and also visit our facebook pages (france painting holiday and france fishing carp)..and don't hold back on the"likes".....we need the "likes"!

There is loads of information on these pages including wonderful photos of people that have visited and lovely artworks that they have created and huge fish that have been caught.

If however you have any ideas on what else you would like to see on this blog (keep it clean please!) then just let us know.....this afterall is for you and not for us! And if the information is not forthcoming give us a poke......and let us know!

That said and done am now planning what to post for the initial pages and please come back to have a look on what I have decided!

A bientot (as they do say in France) and have fun! B