Good morning. You can’t imagine the number of times I have started a blog post and then run out of time to do more than greet you all.
Owning a website and not posting is the same as taking out an expensive gym membership and never getting round to attending and splashing the sweat.
So in the spirit of endless guilt I send you this.
Because this was definitely a guilty pleasure.
In the midst of all this…
I went off and spent a day with Flora basket weaving.
Just that sentence sends me off into a reverie of delight and guilt. I had planned the most thrilling day of heavy admin for the almost but not quite house move in London. And bill paying here, and trying to cajole the window builders to actually build my lovely French windows which are a thrilling shape in the stone wall but actually a temporary piece of chipboard.
And putting my office back.
But Flora needed a lift to the other side of the plateau and wouldn’t I like to learn the ancient art of vannerie?
Yes please. Admittedly I did cram in an 8am meeting with a chap who is happy to shift our rocks in front of the house (oh joy) but then it was off via the boulangerie and the petrol station to a distant hamlet.
Paul’s family has lived in this amazing part of the plateau for generations. But as if often the case, his family moved away for work (to Alsace) and only his generation came back.
And he learned how to weave.
I have never attempted anything like this before (and can’t even knit) and was amazed at how physical it actually was. My muscles are reminding me a day later.
The material we were using was the most amazing thing. I was expecting willow. Paul grows his own on his land to have enough stock.
You could quiz me for ages and I would never have guessed.
On the left – rye stalks. An ancient variety that produces tall plants which he sows each autumn on a lower terrace below the house.
On the right – brambles.
Striped of thorns, and then cut at the ends and split in two. And Paul just needed to pull deftly (it’s a skill I’m dying to perfect) and the fibrous strips appeared. More knife work to get the pulp off the bumble and then it was ready to weave.
The strength of this fibre is incredible. I’m starting to rethink my fencing options on the farm.
No time to marvel. There was no faffing about. Flora wants to add this to her skills repertoire and I wanted a day off…
So using a Breton fish net tool (what on earth was the company thinking when a landlocked Ardeche basket weaver ordered fish net needles?) we began.
While Flora was romping away I managed to create a hexagram. Wonky too.
But after a long day. Plus a delightful lunch of pumpkin soup and all the trimmings I had a dear little bowl to bring home.
I can’t believe I didn’t photograph Flora’s mighty creation.
But here is mine in a bit more detail.
Yep. The sort of bowl that gets called ‘charming’.
But I was charmed. And I had a day off!
Next up. A farmhouse office transformed.
6th November 2021 @ 8:17 am
So beautiful! But the physicality don’t surprise me – our local weaver, Marei, has palms which go so far beyond ‘horny’ that there isn’t even a word for it.
What a good influence Flora is!
6th November 2021 @ 6:50 pm
And muscles from the arm work no doubt!
6th November 2021 @ 8:18 am
Did I just type ‘don’t’ instead of ‘doesn’t’? Losing my English …
6th November 2021 @ 6:50 pm
I assumed it was a typo. Your command of English is impeccable!
6th November 2021 @ 9:29 am
What a great day! In your position, I would have gone too…
I knew about rye straw as I have had chairs re-rushed (is that the word?) using rye, but I had no idea about bramble fibre and how to turn it into something useful. The mountain of admin? After this change, you’ll get through it twice as fast, so I’d call your day off a productivity boost.
7th November 2021 @ 5:47 am
Utterly fascinating! Trust you to discover and explore yet another Ardèche treat so actively – and then take the time to document it for us. I have new respect for basket weavers and am delighted to know that the mighty bramble is useful in other ways. (How ever did humans work out how todo this?!)