Friday, 17 December 2010

Christmas in Stitches

For me, Christmas is about people rather than presents, but it always shows you care if you can give someone you love - or even like a lot - something you've made rather than bought. And there is still time! A friend of mine has given me a pair of wrist warmers in the softest, warmest cashmere which she insists only took her a couple of evenings to make. Stylish, useful and every time I wear them, I think of her. I just love them!

And I, myself, recently managed to knit this little stripy hat for a friend's newborn; it really did take me less than a week sitting and knitting in front of the TV! And trust me, I'm not the world's fastest or most competent knitter.

So if you're knitting skills are basic, average or even excellent, beat a path through those hellish West End streets and head for Patricia Roberts shop in Knigthsbridge (which is itself a joy to behold) where she is offering Les Soeurs Anglaises' followers a 10% discount on any of her gorgeous yarns bought before the Big Day. Just take along a print-out of her page on our website and be inspired by the wools and colours and patterns. And if you just can't think of anything to knit for your beloveds, why not give them some of Patricia's yummy yarn and a pair of needles and they, too, can be inspired to make something for themselves once the festivities are over.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Cooking and Booking

If you've visited our new website you will know that we are hosting, in April of next year, the first cooking workshop in our brilliant, new, purpose-built, hi-tech kitchen in l'Espace.

It took quite some time for us to decide who to ask to lead this workshop and we finally chose The Jewels of New York, a great young, fabulously talented (and stylish) American duo who have worked with both the great and the beautiful on the other side of the Big Pond, and are now ready to conquer Europe - well, France anyway.

A terrific Christmas present for someone you love .... who loves to cook!

We will be keeping the workshop number small so that Lisa and Diana can give as much attention as possible to each individual whilst sharing their knowledge, skill and excitement about the possibilities of French cuisine from this part of the world, with a special emphasis on Spring's bounty.

So, if you're interested in fresh ingredients, cutting edge cooking equipment and top class teaching, this could be the workshop for you. You can book online or email us directly and we'll send you an application form.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

and, of course, thanks to......

We are so thrilled with our new website and brochure (sorry to sound smug) that we felt it only fair to thank all those who gave their time and effort and allowed us to use some of their beautiful illustrations and photographs. It's been amazing working with such talented people - most of them local - and it goes without saying that we couldn't have done it without them!

Monoprints and Brochure Design, Emma Whigham

Illustrative Photographs, Rebecka Ryberg Skott

Interior and Exterior Photographs, Giles Stokoe

Interior and Exterior Photographs, Achim Deimerling

Food Photographs, Jewels of New York

and last but not least, our fab Website Designer, Ben Anstey

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Found Things -Foundlings

At school we had to create objects of beauty from "found materials". These materials could be washing up bottles, toilet rolls, card, yogurt pots shiny paper, etc.. Well we made what we made!!

Jacqui Temple-Smees, loves making interesting and unique items of jewellery from vintage and discarded objects. has found loads of vintage stuff at charity shops, car boot sales, vide greniers and of course our favourite, secret, rummaging ground down here in South West France, has created some beautiful pieces.

vintage glass flower necklace

As a great believer in serendipity, she enjoys nothing more than
exploring old tins and boxes,and like some of us, even buys the
old tin and box, takes it home and creates!

rose pendant

Influenced by collage artists (such as Joseph Cornell), Mucha and
Art Nouveau, Vintage Ephemera, Victoriana, Surrealism and
'50's graphic design. To see more of her work go to

Fairy brooch

One of her designs, a foundling necklace, was inspired by the eclectic tokens left at the Foundling Hospital in London, in the 18th Century. These tokens included buttons, thimbles, a swatch of fabric- telling a story. All can be seen at 'Threads of Feelings' Exhibition at the Foundling Museum.

Who would have thought that a tiny token left with a baby would
tell the story of heartbroken mothers who had to abandon their children.

Foundling necklace

It's such a priviledge to find ourselves amongst such creative people, and to live in such a beautiful area. That's it I'm off to rummage and make!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Wild Colours in the Woods

Not only have we enjoyed all the obvious benefits of an unseasonably warm autumn, but as the days get shorter (and with the turning back of the clocks), mother nature has decided it surely must be time for trees to drop their leaves and at least prepare for the possibility of a colder season ahead.

The result has been the most fabulous autumn colours in this part of France that I have experienced. Something to share and inspire n'est pas?

We always assume here at Les Soeurs Anglaises that people wishing to attend one of our workshops want to be here during the warmer months when they can utilise the swimming pool and we throw open the windows 24/7. But after the last few months we have had to reassess and, in future, will extend our workshop period to include April and October. L'Espace is to be insulated and heated throughout and whilst admittedly one might need to wear a few more layers of clothing, there are all the added ingredients here of a wood fire, long walks in the almost pyschedelically coloured woods around here a chance to enjoy some of the more wintery local produce, like the famous Dordogne truffes noires.

We'll be announcing our new website and emailing our November newsletter with more information very soon, but to literally whet your appetite just look at the amazing colours and textures of The Jewels of NY's food! How exciting that they will be opening our 2011 season with a five day workshop in April. Personally, I can't wait....

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

A Note on Murder

I have procrastinated long enough. It is time for me to say something about books, authors, fiction, fact or fantasy. What has glavanised me is one of the Grand Designs programmes, in which a young couple, and the presenter, were saying how much they enjoyed seeing books on display as part of the décor of a room. I agree. I harbour a suspicion, possibly erroneously, that many of us hope that the books we display will illicite admiration in others. Do they say something about our taste or lack thereof, our intelligence or ignorance? I suspect that like the art and artifacts that are on show in our homes, what we preceive about others’ choice in books influence our preceptions about that person. Book clubs are a good insight into the sensitivities we harbour about ourselves. You only have to hear a glowing report on some book you thought was diabolical to look askance at your friend and wonder about them. Or is this just my reaction?

Still onto books read and enjoyed over the last six months. I have come across the author Mark Billington, whose detective novels have Thorne his irascible ‘hero’ fighting his own personality as much as that of the ‘villians’. My reservations such as they are is of an over reliance on “serial killers” and making his closest “mate” (the pathologist) unbelieveably eccentric. Otherwise enjoyable reads.

Another writer I have liked, is Kate Grenville introduced to me by my good friend, Sue Irving (we are always swapping names of recently discovered authors) and thoroughly enjoyed her The Lieutenant, and also The Secret River . Books I probably would never have picked up in the library from just reading the blurb on the back.

Have bought Hare with Amber Eyes on the recommendation of sister Katie, who raved about it and am looking forward to spending a few happy hours engrossed in a world far removed from my own.

Gosh so many books to read and not enough time. I find as I grow older that night time is not the right time for reading but early daylight is. A chapter or two first thing in the morning really sets one up for the day. As a card I found in Canada said “You’re never alone with a book”. Happy reading. Susie

Saturday, 23 October 2010

For Those Items you Simply Can't Make Yourself

Have just come across a seriously fab website that all you style-concious ladies should visit to keep au fait and current. It's full of entertaining observations as well so check it out.....

What do you say to a Briancon catwalk next year?

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Not Quite But Almost......

In case you wondered what we got up to at Briançon during those long wintery months when we aren't running workshops, take a look at our sister blog:

where you will find a video of our latest event, i.e Jive/Rock'n'Roll lessons!

We had an absolute hoot of a time with great teachers Simon and Elliot from Jive Nation UK who came over specifically for the weekend workshops. Work on insulating the barn will start after the second duo of lessons in the middle of November, after which we hope to run the classes and freestyle as a regular event.

If you haven't tried the Jive, then I seriously suggest you find classes close to home to keep you warm and super-fit over the cold season - beats jogging any day AND it's social!

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Space for Thought

It been a long time coming, but at last another blog! We all lead such busy lives so no excuses - however I have been waiting for photographs of the new workshop space, l'Espace, that show it off properly and here at last they are.

Giles Stokoe, a remarkable young photographer who just happens to be living not far from Les Soeurs Anglaises (and whom we are delighted to say will be leading a DSLR photographic workshop with us next September) took the photographs one sultry afternoon last week and we are delighted that finally there is some indication of the amazing workshop space which, of course, doubles up in the summer when the huge doors are open onto the terrace.

We are organising a set of four Rock'n'Roll evenings in l'Espace over the next couple of months and will be posting photographs to keep you amused.

Because of the magnificent and prolonged Indian Summer that we are experiencing here in South West France (sorry folks), we have had a bumper late crop of vegetables. Apart from the discovery of a new variety of small, sweet, yellow tomatoes we have been experimenting with radicchios and the fabulous Italian aubergines (a form of Violetta Di Firenze grown from seed from the Italian Seed Company) to find the best flavours for next year's workshop menus.

Align Left

Check out the sort of negative effect at the top of the aubergines where the sun hasn't reached the plant to turn it.... well, aubergine. Wonder if Giles could do something with the plant's photo-sensitivity.... They are absolutely delicious, by the way, and we have quite a few new recipes for Les Soeurs Anglaises cookbook which should be available for discerning cooks by the time of our first workshop in May 2011.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

VIde Grenier!

Some you you may recognise this village brocante. Held on the first Sunday of every month, last weekend's was one of the best so far.
After a slow start (I was there at 8.30am to beat the crowds), the sun came out as did the stall holder late-comers, and suddenly there was a plethora of books and toys and vintage linen,

though you did sometimes need to root around a fair bit of rubbish to get to the good stuff

Still, there were bargains to be had by those whose French was sufficiently proficient to haggle.
A lick of paint, a spot of polish or even a good wash was all many things needed to start a new lease of life in a new home.

Back at at the ranch rehearsals were going on for a evening of jamming at l'Espace where the accoustics are proving to be even better than anticipated.

Friday, 27 August 2010


If any of you are wondering what we get up to at Les Soeurs Anglaises in between work and meals, here are some photos to give you glimpse. Amongst other things we have a secret brocante where we always spend a morning during the workshops; it is full to bursting with everything from old quills to 1930s vegetable catalogues to laundered linen coulottes, and there's generally a bit of a bun fight over the odd antique tea towel. It is usually followed with a show and tell of treasures found back at l'Espace. Past participants might recognise the establishment......

We also try to spend at least one evening at a local restaurant, and for our last workshop we chose Le Chateau de Mas de Montet (where, aparantly, Mitterand used to helicopter in for weekends with his mistress - oo la la). The hotel has recently passed into new ownership and the service and food have greatly improved since our last visit. We chose a beautiful evening and had a whole room to ourselves.

There was even an opportunity for a game of chess with a familiar face.

But then it was straight back to work the next morning, and whilst the sun had gone in for a few moments it was still plenty warm enough to have our fabulous new doors open with inspirational views of the valley below.

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Bookbinding etc.

It's been a while since I've had time to add anything to this blog, but Rachel Hazell's workshop has just finished and I couldn't resist showing a few of my personal favourite "Extraordinary Expandable Sketchbook Journals" produced by both Rachel and her students over the five day workshop she led here.

More to follow in the next week or so in our August newsletter......