Thursday, December 13, 2012

End of the Year - End of the world?

Autumn at Bandouille
Autumn saw wonderful colours here at Bandouille, but my most favourite of them all were not the usual changing foliage of the trees but the fantastic display of toadstools (fly algaric) under the Birch trees by the lake.  I think you will agree they look spectacular but also deadly as far as I am aware. 

2012 is nearly at an end and according to many myths so is the end of the world.  Well today is the 13th December so we have bypassed one date comfortably (being yesterday the 12th) and now to wait and see what our 2nd deadline brings (21st)!
I think business as usual – don’t you?   

So with 2013 in mind, our calendar for art holiday bookings is open for our forthcoming workshops and standard holidays. All groups are also welcome and these can include, Yoga, golf, Zentangle, writing, photography etc in fact anything (pretty much).  Please enquire for group rates

We are very excited to announce  that Joanne Boon Thomas and Eugen Chisnicean will be joining us in 2013.  For more details on their workshops please click the appropriate links.

June 30th - July 6th -  2013 – for a Brusho/watercolour workshop - Click here for details

and Eugen Chisnicean 

August 25th - August 31st    - Watercolour workshop with Eugen Chisnicean - Click here

If you are interested please do not delay as space is limited to 8 students per workshop and we have already taken some bookings in part for both events.

We also have the opportunity of hosting a Zentangle and Colour Therapy Workshop.  If you are interested in this please contact us here

RENOVATION - Bandouille a work in progress - slowly!!!!
After having our underfloor heating installed at the end of last year and the beginning of this year, we are now cosy and warm.  But when we had that work done we still had to consider replacing the 40 year old boiler that was servicing the house as it was now deemed not to be efficient nor economical.  This has now been done after digging into the last of our savings with very little upheaval and the benefits are already apparent.

Also those that have had the pleasure in staying in the largest of our guest rooms would have noticed that the ceiling boards needed to be completed and this has now been done and the room completely redecorated too.  So nice and fresh for the the next season.

The work on the floor of the capitalaire is on hold due to all the wet weather we have had and we are not able to move waste out of there due to the wheelbarrow sinking in the soft ground.

 Our new ducks, Bianca, Coco and Blanche….- (guess what  - they are all white!!!!)  have now been with us for 6 months and although they are free to roam all day have only just discovered the lake and that they can swim.

We tried many times, with and without guests to "whoosh" them to the water but they bottled it within inches and it had not been possible till now.  And then the next day the lake froze…Confused….they certainly were!

Wherever you may be in the western part of the globe, you can be pretty certain you are not too far away from a Christmas fair or market.  This year I found myself at St. Loup (a place where I take my guests in the summer to paint) and was thrilled to be an wonderful christmassy environment in the village.  The evening was perfectly cold and frosty to add to the atmosphere and all the stalls were inspirational for crafts and ideas

So wherever you may be both Drew and I wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy new year and hope to welcome you to Bandouille one day so that you too can share the peace that we have here.


Friday, August 10, 2012

Yay! Summer has arrived......

Out and about near Chiche!

Welcome back to Bandouille everyone!

Again apologies for the delay in updating you all but we have been wonderfully busy and now that Summer has finally arrived properly getting more work done outside too!

We've had a few more art holidays between April and now and also a Yoga week here at Bandouille in July which was great fun and very exhilarating too.  Just by having different people here helped put us in a different perspecitve.  We had three lovely girls from Sweden and 3 other guest from the South of England plus their Yoga teacher Liz Warrington. The atmosphere that week was vibrating with peace and tranquility if thats possible. 

The weather although not the traditional scorchio up until now has been comfortable and pleasant for plein air trips and site seeing and overall considering have been very lucky..But looking at the Olympics at this time in London...haven't they been so lucky too!

We were also visited by two lovely American ladies who drove down from Paris and in the time that they were here in France (just over two weeks) they came with just hand luggage…We were very impressed! You can click here to see a compilation of their photos on Youtube.               

Lucy one of the ladies from Colorado even kicked me out the kitchen on the last night to cook for us some Creole Egg Plant which took her 4 hours to prepare and boy was it an interesting experience…Very tasty! And she had great fun doing it too!  Not sure due to the preparation time it will be going on my menu list though.

Having the yoga group here also encouraged me to develop a menu of Vegetarian recipes to see them through the week.  I loved doing this and working out new and exciting and colourful dishes and have now kept that as a format for another vegetarian group/week given that we are now advertising for more Yoga groups to come and visit us here at Bandouille.

We have also now extended our guest accommodation to the gite in the garden for 2/4 people and have installed a shower and sofa bed in the Studio for tutor accommodation so that we can now sleep around 10 people comfortably based on 4 people sharing.

The wet start to the summer sadly did not help with the development of the tomatoes and other such vegtables and this year it seems that we have little to practically no apples.  But we have been blessed with a profusion of little plums called Mirabelles.  Sweet and juicy I doubt they will get further than being eaten fresh from the tree..  Delish!   This is the first time in 5 years that we have got to even taste the fruit. 

I have not done as much painting as I normally do but I have been zentangling though which I find very relaxing to do in the evening infront of the telly.  This is one that I just completed and is my largest to date.  Larger than A3 and incorporates loads of images that say Bandouille to me…For example, tiles on the roof, apples, cherries, flowers, rushes, chains, fish, water,  bubbles and many many more.  They are all in there! What can you see?… I also managed to do a quick warm up and paint an old lock from Judiths loose group on Paintmyphoto...Click here for link

Rodders perch!
July saw Bastille night come and go and my birthday too..But I am rarely in France for my birthday but we were this year and we had some lovely friends (Rodders and Pauline) over for a couple of days and celebrated accordingly.  Rodders, a keen fisherman took great pleasure in fishing whilst he was here and was thrilled when he caught this perch.  Chuffed to bits he was!.

So with promises of regular updates - honest - we are going into a very busy period until the end of September with both Art and fishing groups.  Very much looking forward to these next few weeks. 

Now off to enjoy some more sunshine and get ready for our next guests and also to wish good luck to the remaining competitors in the future events of our surprisingly wonderful Olympics 2012 and catch up with you again in a couple of weeks.

Please feel free to comment and also visit our pages on Facebook to see all our photos

Bix x

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

April Showers!!!??? - Keiko's week

Keikos view of Bandouille

I know I know….before you all think it…It has been a long time but that’s because we have been so busy.  We were away for a couple of weeks at the very beginning of the month to recharge our batteries before our workshop with Keiko started.
Keikos Bandouille pond!

We had a fantastic week with Keiko….We had four lovely guests plus me when I could avoid kitchen duty…..and we were all blown away by Keiko’s speed and beauty in her paintings.  She produced 2 demonstrations per day which we later tried to follow and had for each roughly half a day to complete each piece.  What we learnt mainly from Keiko was her philosophy of tonal values and how they were paramount in her work and colour came as a secondary consideratoin.  This then allowed her to make her own colour choices to suit the painting.  She also taught us how not to be chained to what we saw in a photograph and be creative and see beauty even in ordinary things such as cars, traffic lights, signs etc.  Very inspiring. In this painting in Parthenay she has immortalized two of our guests.  Photos of our week can be seen on facebook  - click here 
David and Dorothea in Parthenay

Here is a link to more of her work so you can see for yourselves. She did indicate that she would love to come back again next year, so watch this space and a waiting list will be drawn up until a confirmed date is set.
Around the studio stove!

Fortunately Drew had the foresight to see that our art week was probably going to be a bit chilly and we have fitted an amazing woodburning stove (that we just happened to have lying around)  in the studio which will now provide me with more opportunities to use the space in the winter and therefore will also open the possibilities of running workshops out of season too.  If anyone is interested please let me know.
Just before this wet weather hit Drew went shopping and was able to play for a couple of days on his fantastic new toy.  What a handsome beast it is (for now) and has a grass collector on the back too.  So gone are the days where I have to rake up the cuttings and take them away.  hoorah!  Now Drew is just waiting for it to be dry enough to go back out there…before the garden turns into a jungle…which of course will be demain!
Well…..April showers! At least that was true to form but what a contrast to last April where it was hot and sunny throughout. 

With these downpours come incredible skies and here are some that I managed to catch just in time.
Bandouille Monastery courtyard
Check out the video below -  boy did it come down.
Stormy skies!

The sky has been amazing for days now with the glow from the rape fields and the contrasting shadows.  So of course I had to try and paint this too!

Gardening is going to start a bit late for me this year and my veggie patch now has zillions of weeds growing on it but I am loathe to dig it over as these are mainly poppies….so his potatoes are going to have to wait!  As

I do have a couple of raspberry bushes, a gooseberry bush and lots of courgettes, melons and tomatoes to go in.  So am excited about that, amongst two packs of wild flowers seeds, nasturtiums and lots of other seeds that I collected from last year.  

Great catch guys!- Bandouille April 2012
We have already had a couple of groups here this month and what a result they all have had.  The first group caught over 20 unique fish between two of them and the second over 35 between 5 of them and they were all biguns.  We look forward to receiving more fishermen during the year to see who will hold the lake record for 2012 so keep an eye on our Facebook Page or if you would like to book the lake then please contact us through on the contact page.

Cafe des Art - Thouars
In true Bandouille tradition…the ducks have been laying but in very random places.  So we have had to rescue the eggs and now one of our very broody chickens who was sitting on 13 unfertilised eggs (we have no cockerel) is sitting on 5 duck eggs that are due to hatch around the 5th May…so that is always fun to watch.  Will keep you posted!

I have an art holiday week coming up this weekend so will be busy all next week and will post the results of that at a future date.

That’s pretty much it for now.  Will try and be more regular in future and do little and often, rather than these lengthy posts .

A bientot!!!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Sheep, snow and love!!!!!

I know that for many the snow was a pain, but it was very beautiful with everything covered in white…But sad when the thaw sets in and everything then looks dead and burnt.  But now room for our spring flowers to bloom...and I hope they will after being fooled before la neige arrived into thinking it was their time....

Tried as much as I could to take piccys whilst I was out and about but my camera gave up  in the end as it could not cope with the cold which reached -16 at its coldest….Be warned! The instructions (now that I have read that bit) say do not use outside the limits of 0-40 degrees....Now it tells me!  Not practical if you want to photograph snow though! Ouch! And I really loved my little camera.........

Came across these little sweethearts when I was out and about and they were having fun and came bounding up to me as if they had always known me….Early for the lambing season I thought, but that’s maybe because I was taught that they only arrive at Easter! Apparently not!


Yoga fans******* take note ........

Liz Warrington - qualified and experienced Yoga teacher will be running a Yoga week with us here in July. 

The week includes full board ensuite  accommodation, yoga instruction and visits to local sites.  Vegetarian/vegan menus catered for.

It promises to be a very relaxing and inspirational week and if you want to join us and need more information click here


A reminder to those that Keiko Tanabe and Matthew Palmer will be visiting us for tutored workshops in watercolour in April..(and Matthew is back with us in June too)..For more information on either one of these artists please click on their names.  We still have spaces available but hurry as time is getting on!
Standard art holidays and fishing holidays are also available....check websites  and

Sketching and Art Journalling 
Bandouille Lake
Gary's sheep - PMP
Conch sketch
My lovely son Toby gave me a wonderful sketching journal at Christmas as I promised myself that I would get into sketching more and try and be more disciplined....So chicken as I am I started sketching outside the book to get some practice. (It has to look right!!!!!)  I intend to take it with me when I go out and about and travel.  In the meantime here are three sketches that took approx 20 mins and are all A5 size and certainly learnt alot by working within a set time limit.

On the subject of art journalling have found another lovely site which shows lovely journal pages and plenty of links within this site and also wonderful little tutorials on lots of arty stuff.  Well worth a visit!  Or just type in Art Journals in google and click images....A pretty huge collection!  Youtube is also a great way to view these and there are loads of instructional videos on how to make your own sketchbooks too.....Great fun!

Valentines day 
This was my painting for Valentines day to all those that I love - and I called it "Unlock my heart".

Its a handmade padlock that I found in our local medieval town Parthenay a few years ago and loved it and knew that one day I would paint it and now I have....

This little scene would have been perfect, but behind this perfect front was a blue plastic bucket support by a green nylon rope....Hence me not including those!!!!!!

 I also included this in this months I draw and paint watercolour challenge and there is still time to participate..We already have had some wonderful entries!

Next week now that the weather is a bit warmer and brighter I will be oing out checking out painting sites for our future guest tutors and their students …so that should be fun. Hoping to find something new and different.  The only way to really do that is just to get lost on the labyrinth of country roads around here.  Its amazing what you do find that way!  Will let you know what I discover.

So that for the moment is it!  Remember to log into facebook on our France Painting Holiday pages for more photos past and present and that these can be used as painting reference if you wish.

Looking forward to any comments you may have or suggestions of what you may like to see and in the meantime 

.......a bientot mes amis! B and Drew x

watercolour painting holidays
painting holiday
watercolour holiday
watercolor painting holiday

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Happy New Year - Year of the Dragon

Bandouille lake                      St. Loup Sur Thouet                    Bandouille Terrace

Happy new year everyone…I know, I know...alot of time has passed since the 1st so this is Happy Chinese New Year - all the good intentions I had to do this more regularly has gone by the wayside…surprise!.  Although this is not due to laziness just due to life getting in the way…I have even not had time to paint, which for me is desperately tragic!.

To catch up….ART

These beautiful paintings were painted by Keiko Tanabe - our guest tutor in April - click here for her page on our website detailing the holiday.  We have also just signed on Matthew Palmer, from SAA fame and we are excited about this start to our year.  Matthew is the ideal artist to learn watercolours from as his methods of teaching are step by step which enables the student to gain confidence and learn new techniques. Click here for his details on our website. 

Matthew Palmer
As for my painting...have not really had the time recently to get the paints out much but dabbled a bit with this little dachs "Billy" and he was fun to try and have done a couple sketchy nudes Degas style which is the subject that I launched on IDP for this month.  Pop by and have a look. Also on the 23rd January it was the Chinese New year and this year is the Year of the Dragon! Had to be done!

We have now recovered from all those storms that we had before and during Christmas - just!
These started in November and we had about 3 good blows over here which brought down, as mentioned before, many trees.  That though is not the dangerous time…..Those that are left still standings possibly have had their foundations rocked and roots loosened and it is these that are so dangerous as one kiss of the wind, then they come down.  So one morning…this is what we found on one of our barns. 

It punched a hole into the roof, but that seemed to be the only damage… to remove the tree from the top of the roof.  Poor Drew…Dressed in his lumberjack gear and climbed the damaged fir tree and started to chainsaw through the offending trunk..Unfortunately the tree moved against itself and against the chainsaw got stuck…(I hope his mother is not watching) It would not go at all…So Drew had to get a handsaw to cut the chainsaw out…est voila!  TIMBER!  and remarkable without too much damage on landing either. Then for the clearing up....but lots of firewood for next year!

We have had many visitors in the creature department in the last month.  The deer are still very elusive but make their marks both in our lawn and by what they nibble and leave behind.  Mr. Kingfisher is still a regular visitor fishing for what he can as are the cormorants and the herons and egrets..We are hoping for the swans to visit us again. If you missed the Kingfisher( video here is the link).

Miss White - Coypu
The coypu are still a regular pest to us as they cause so much damage to the edge of the lake and we have had to lay traps again as they breed so fast.  And then she came along!!!!...She wasn't quite pure albino as she was slightly cream, but had red eyes...Her grandma tho was pure white!
Pretty when they are like this, but not when they attack you!

 As for the rest of the garden, what is the weather doing???? My bluebells are all poking their noses through the earth, but my snowdrops and crocuses are no-where to be seen. Still experiencing such a mild winter, but not really complaining.  The levels of our lake are now full to brimming so the fish (and Drew) are happy!.

Empty living room!

Underfloor heating extended to the living room.

Update on the underfloor heating project.  As you are aware we completed the refectory before Christmas and its incredible how warm it is in there without the boiler running or a logfire.  Because of Drews foresight, he bought a larger heat exchanger pump that would handle this increase in volume and we managed to extend the flexi pipes under the floor (in the trench that we built under the tiles a few years ago) that would eventually carry the water around the system. This with Drew’s tenacity was achieved with not too much of pulling out of hair. Then the task of lifting the chipboard flooring took place, numbering each section to reveal the 18 inch drop below with the network of breeze blocks in place ready for a future event like this one.  We then had to build 180 boxes like these to support the polystyrene where the pipes would be laid and then covered in cement.
  So 180 boxes made…(mostly by Drew as in the middle of the project (that I was thoroughly enjoying) I fell down a silly step and twisted my foot badly enough that it had to be rested in an elevated position for a few days)

Yesterday 23rd Jan, the pipes were laid without too much hassle…..and today the cement is in the process of being placed ontop of the pipes.  Then I think we have to wait a week or so for the cement to go off.  Floor back on and then we shall see…..will let you know!


Check these out...Some recent links that I have discovered.

If you love making things, craft, cooking, recycling, furniture renovation this site is for you and there is zillions more.  (They also have a facebook page)...Initially found them by looking for recycling furniture ideas (look under Topics and Thrift) and then the craft and then the kitchen  - I could go on..take a look but don't just put 5 minutes aside....
This though (painted  towns) is amazing and I am astonished that I had not ever seen reference to these before...!

This site I found around 2009 and was hooked but like everything forgot about it till recently as I didn't know then you could log in and get emailed when blogs were updated...

Degas Nude - Bix  She has a wonderful way of sketching and comes to France alot too and has lovely sketches of Paris etc.  

This was an article I saw in the Mail online the other day and was reminded how important sketching artists were before the camera took over...interesting!

In future I will try and post stories as they happen as these are starting to get a bit long and with fear of boring you……So till next time have fun and catch up then.  Please feel free to leave a comment.