Double Vision – 2 Dogs named Fred

One of my favourite blogging friends west517 and I both have a dog named Fred – we thought it might be fun to do one of our Double Vision posts – living as we do on different continents – to introduce them to each other.  Click the link above to see west’s post and read…

Five Photos, Five Stories Challenge #3

At first she thought it was a mouse scrabbling about in the attic overhead but the longer she lay there listening,the less familiar the sound became. Someone talking to themselves perhaps, the occasional exclamation, even an amused snort of laughter, but all the while accompanied by a strange scratching noise in the background. When she…

Lilac Time – Vintage version

 AS I WAS ARRANGING THE WHITE LILAC I HAD CUT FROM THE GARDEN FOR YESTERDAYS’ POST, I KEPT THINKING OF MY GRANDMOTHER AND THE BEAUTIFUL GARDEN SHE HAD WHEN I WAS A CHILD. My grandparents’ house dated from the 1920’s, a solid suburban red brick and slightly tudoresque affair, blessed with a large plot to…

Spring #3 – Lilac Time

EVER SINCE WE ARRIVED ON THE HILLSIDE 13 YEARS AGO I HAVE DREAMED OF MAKING A BEAUTIFUL GARDEN. In my imagination the lawns are mown into stripes and squares, flat and rich enough to welcome the most stringent player of bowls or croquet. The borders are full of exquisite flowering shrubs and unusual specimens arranged…

Glorious Spring

The hillside has exploded in a riot of blossom and colour this week.    I know I’m in danger of repeating myself by offering up another post with blossom as its’ subject but when I went out onto the orchard this afternoon to the glorious sight of the fruit trees abuzz with the industry of…

Rustic Beauty – The Humble Turnip

After the lovely promising spring weather of a fortnight ago we’re suddenly plunged back into the damp and chill winds of November here on the Hillside.  Our sunny moods have departed with the warmer temperatures and so my plans for more spring inspired images for this post have been moved aside to make way for an…

Spring # 2 – Fragile Blossom

In the courtyard on our French Hillside is an almond tree. It has never been exactly prolific in producing fruit but its’ show of magnificent pale white-pink blossom is always our first herald of the arrival of spring.  The tree itself is need of an expert prune as all the blossom is now bursting forth…

SPRING – Tender Tulips

Signs of Spring are appearing everywhere on the hillside now – tiny blue forget-me-nots, wild violets, the first cowslips, the early daffodils, even some very precocious iris are in full bloom seeking the warmth of the sun.   Opportunities for photographs abound and I have a score of ideas for posts for the coming days.   I…

Orchids – Strange exotic beauty

Someone gave me an orchid. I’ve never been quite sure whether I really like orchids or not. To one who loves the beautiful simplicity of daisies, they seem worryingly exotic, fleshy and organic, almost alien things.  It seems they have many symbolic connotations – strength, loyalty, luxury, virilty ( the name itself derives from the…

Winter # 3 – The Quietly Beating Heart

Here and there amidst the silver bare winter’s landscape are vibrant reminders that the pulse of life continues through even the darkest days and the longest nights.  The berries in the hedgerows and the hips of the roses are rich and blood red with the promise of Spring……..    ALL PHOTOS © JANE MORLEY  

Vintage Childhood #3 – Teddy Bears and Storybooks

I can remember as a very small child, long before my schooldays, sitting curled up on my mother’s knee as she read to me. “Read some more, read some more!” I would say as the final page was turned and she would smile and open another book and continue reading until it really was time…

Winter # 2 – Life is Sleeping

The hillside is really in the grip of Winter now. The trees are shivering in the winds from the north and the warmth of the autumn colours has been chilled  to a palette of  brittle greys.  Only the laburnams and the lime trees are still clinging to their delicate copper- coloured  seed pods as if…

Winter – Ghost Leaves

The colours on the hillside are changing now from their glowing autumn shades to the darker hues of winter. Nature’s astonishing architecture is becoming visible everywhere, in the bare branches of the trees, the hips on the rose bushes, the cones in the evergreens and in the fallen leaves which carpet the garden.  On our…

Glass, Glamour and a Vintage Dressing Table

My mother has a beautiful old dressing table. Since I was a small child I have been fascinated by it and all the shiny, glittery items that sit on top of it. A wealth of 1950’s glamour is captured in this piece of feminine furniture. A glass top to reflect the cut glass trays, jars,…

Romantic Abbey Ruins and Hideous Cement Works

Just across from the ugly out-of-town shopping centre where I reluctantly go for some of my weekly grocery shop, is one of the most hideous concrete constructions I have ever seen in my entire life.  Owned since the 1930’s by the enormous French company Lafarge, a ‘world leader in construction materials’, the monstrous site of…

Double Vision # 2 – Thankful

As the season of festivities has already begun with Thanksgiving in America, my blogging friend west517 had the excellent idea that we use the word ‘Thankful’ as our prompt for todays’ ‘Double Vision’ post.  There is no official Thansgiving holiday in England, but the traditional harvest festivals echo the same roots and customs.   In our frantic,…

Man Stuff #1 – Leather Jackets and Aviators

Some while ago in our previous life, we had a project to build a large shed at the bottom of our very tiny garden, to house Mr H’s tools, Mr H’s motorbike, Mr H’s racing bike and assorted items of Mr H’s abandoned gym equipment.  The day before we pooled our joint resources to purchase…

Double Vision # 1 – Mystery

Purely for the fun and the prospect of a little photographic adventure, one of my favourite blogger friends – west517 – and I have decided to start a new joint Friday feature which we are calling ‘Double Vision’.  With the simple format of a photographic dialogue across the Atlantic ocean – she being in the…

Little Acorns, Mighty Oaks……..

A while ago on one of our walks, Freddie the Labrador and I collected some splendid acorns and oak leaves. I fully  intended to snap a few pics while they were still fresh and colourful but haven’t somehow got round to doing it.  Today I was going to throw them all away as they’ve dried…

Indian Spice and all things nice

It has been noted before on this blog – please see any of the numerous posts involving food! – that we are lucky enough to have our very own Masterchef here on the Hillside.  I wish that I could claim that title for myself but I confess to being much more at home pointing my…

Clocks, watches and timepieces # 1

Along with maps, globes and antiquarian books,  I have always had a particular fascination for clocks, and other timepieces.  Even in our modern world, these things remain symbols of great mystery for me – constant reminders of man’s attempt to make sense of the unknowable world and to impose some human order upon nature’s own…

A Summer’s day in a tiny flower…..

Autumn is really showing its’ beautiful glowing colours here on the hillside and already throwing some surprises into the meteorological mix. Yesterday afternoon was a busy one in the boutique and all my Sunday afternoon visitors were completely unprepared, after the mild morning, for the fierce downpour and hailstorm which turned up around 4.00pm and…

The Reluctant Model – Portraits in Black & White

Since we arrived in France almost exactly thirteen years ago there have been many magical moments here on our beautiful hillside.  One of the most life changing for me in many ways was the suggestion four years ago that we should play host to the local theatre company for their summer outdoor ‘spectacle’ – a…

The Colour Purple & Red Onions

This week I was instructed by my very own Masterchef Mr H, to purchase some red onions on my weekly supermarket trip.  Yes there are indeed penalties to pay for having one’s own gourmet chef – the eternal washing up, frequent cleaning of kitchen and dreaded supermarket run to name but three. I was however…

Motorcycles, Engines and Bandits

Anyone who has read my blog posts thus far will perhaps have gathered that I have a quirky ancestry of mad people and genius inventors.  One of these,  my greatgrandfather,  was involved in the creation of the very earliest Rolls Royce cars and  it is therefore perhaps not so strange that I have a particular…

French Essence # 3 – Macaroons à la Française

I have always thought of macaroons  (macarons)  as a particularly French delicacy, a delightfully diminutive  round cake, crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle made from ground almonds, sugar and egg whites.  Endless varieties of flavouring and delicate pastel colours can be found in tempting tower displays in the finest French patisseries.  …

French Essence #2 – Wine

A few years ago  we worked for a while with a French estate agent helping to select properties we thought might appeal to potential English buyers.  Given most people’s romantic notion of the perfect French dreamhouse, it was not difficult to dismiss the ranks of ugly concrete shoe boxes and Spanish style haciendas which sadly…

Sweets to the Sweet – BonBons and Marshmallows

For anyone with a sweet tooth France is probably the closest you can get to confection heaven.   Bonbons, dragées, macaroons, sweet cakes, patisseries, brioche, chocolate truffles, nougat, meringues – the list of sugary delights is long and enticing.  I have personally always had rather more of a weakness for savoury rather than sugary but…

French Essence #1 – Garlic

If asked to sum up the essence of French culture the average Francophile would probably come up with an impressive list, amongst which would undoubtably feature haute couture, Hermès, Coco Chanel, Dior, an array of philosophers, playwrights Voltaire, Molière, great novelists Victor Hugo,  cinema,  Brigitte Bardot, Gerard Dépardieu, Bordeaux wines, cognac, champagne, Paris, Versailles, Marie…

Kings, Queens, Knaves and Aces High

There is something exceedingly mystical about a pack of playing cards.  The notion of kings and queens, jokers and knaves, aces and hearts, spades and diamonds, even the language of cards is exotic and enticing, hinting at the medieval world of courtly love and ancient fairytales.  Somehow all of life is here in symbolic form…

Gold, Copper, Chestnut, Conkers – Hello Autumn!

I had a very different idea in mind for today’s post but as I strolled along the path through the wood after lunch with Freddie the labrador, we stumbled across some exciting treasures which simply demanded to be photographed.  Freddie was delighted to have found a fox poo and a badger burrow plus a few…

Sunset Colours and Autumn Vines

Every day of September here on the hillside, has been warm, balmy and beautiful; the evenings noticeably cooler as the Autumn approaches but full of astonishing light and colours. I decided the other evening to take a walk down the hill towards the poplar wood where the sheep live, passing en route the tiny vineyard…

Doors Part 3 – Jonzac – Seven Doors and a Window

Now that the summer is over and we return to our normal opening hours here on the hillside (5 days a week instead of 7) we are able, on rare occasions, to indulge in the odd visit to pastures new, to wallow in some slightly different scenery and recharge our batteries. Usually our ‘grand days…

Vintage Childhood #2 – Dinkys, Corgis & Lesneys

A small homage to the vintage childhood when imagination was more valued than the microchip. Once long ago , before the invention of iPods and iPads and SuperMario Game Boys and Nintendos, my younger brother received for his birthday a very fine model garage.  It’s most distinguished attribute was a state of the art toy…

Chopin, Nocturnes,Sheet Music Part 2 – The Power of Memory

In which we pursue our dream of mastering the piano without the aid of the Brownies and without a piano Family legend has it that one of my great uncles – inevitably on my father’s side, for it was my paternal grandmother who boasted the mad inventor father and 13 siblings – was so talented a…

Vintage Childhood #1 – Monopoly

PLAYING Games My family ancestors have always been a rather competitive bunch even when at play.  My mother relates wonderful stories of Friday evenings spent with my father’s family in the 1950’s  surrounded by the numerous aunts and uncles (all 13 of them plus assorted spouses)  engaged in the serious business of a game of…