Fiona Alderman: A Touch of Spring

a touch of spring sm

Blogging from Salignac in Rural France

After a long period of cold weather here and the continuing Covid pandemic, we sense a hint of Spring in the air and the flowers are now blossoming to cheer us up.

Preparations for the season starting in May are underway and the family Starkmann are busy at the Chateau. They will reopen after a tentative trial last year. However, they were rewarded with a great deal of interest and attracted nearly 7000 visitors. Monsieur Starkmann, with the help of his son who is an engineer, have been busy renovating the staircase leading up to the second floor. A massive task, recreating stairways and ancient floors and even a spacious bathroom.

Speaking to Madame Starkmann, I found out that they will be taking on extra help this year to maintain the extra administration and publicity and employing a young woman to supervise.  She happens to be a Scout and has been my next door neighbour for 6 months. I have just introduced myself and she is charming. They plan to have goats in an enclosed part of the hill, to graze and keep the ground tidy around the Chateau . They are also planning to have a medieval theme using the park at the foot of the hill to stage jousting and other events.


It all sounds marvellous and I shall be surely visiting.

Watching Escape to the Chateau on the tv the other night, which is hugely popular, and shows Dick and Angel with their children living la Belle Vie in France renovating their Chateau – the latest show showed them repairing the roof with thousands of tiles. No chance here for our Chateau which has the roof only  partially done with expensive “lauze ” A gigantic task. It isn’t leaking though luckily, which would spoil all their new work.

Ines de La Fressange

ines de la fressange

ines de la fressange – nicogenin, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

I remember always being interested in fashion, especially French and Italian clothes, which seemed to me to be the epitome of style and elegance.

One French model that inspired me was Ines de La Fressange, a very tall and slender woman who was the muse of the couturier Karl Lagerfeld. She was the very first model to sign an exclusive contract to Chanel, and therefore work for no-one else. In 1983 this was the era of the Super Models, who would earn fantastic amounts of money, she started modelling at just 17 years old and is still going strong and looking marvellous at 62. She was known within the media as “the talking mannequin” because she had such strong views on fashion and her own very individual style of dress. Similarities were drawn to both the look and the character of another great couturier, Coco Chanel.

I remember she designed a whole wardrobe that she called the Capsule, comprising everything to wear in basic colours that could mix and match , from a plain white t shirt and beautiful white crisp shirt worn with dark navy loose trousers or a timeless black dress, teamed with a tailored jacket. Easy to wear with endless choices and just basic items to create an elegant look.

She created her own brand of merchandise, from clothes, perfumes to home furnishings. Her Boutique was launched in 1991 in Paris in the area where her grandfather had lived. It is still there and is where she lives.

Her business grew and grew and success came internationally too. She has written books on how Parisian women maintain their glamour “La Parisienne”and Parisien Decor” giving tips and advice to live with grace and with French charm.

La Vache!

Yes, normally it means a cow in French. When we say it like this with an exclamation it means Gosh! Or Wow!

Normalement is another word that is funny and doesn’t mean normally either.  Often they say Il va faire beau demain, normalement? Not sure if the weather will be fine or not. A question?

Le gratin is the name of both a baked cheese dish, but also a name for high society. The cream of the cream. I continue with delight my appreciation and understanding of the French language.

Keep safe and well in these difficult times.

Fifi’s stories from rural France.
February 2022.

Glasgow Society of Women Artists, Lillie Gallery Spring 2022
Rura at Celtic Connections 2022

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France, Pat's Home Page Blog

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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