L’Histoire de l’eMail

In Franglais this would seem to mean, an albeit somewhat short, story of email perhaps with a subsection on texting? But no, email (plural emaux) means enamel and, it transpires, is long associated with Limoges. For some reason playing second fiddle to porcelain or even gloves for which Limoges is principally famous. Apparently enamelled work has has a history back to at least the XIIth century in this area.

So what I hear you say? Well, Delia’s dad wanted to take some enamelled jewellery back to Aus so we’ve been researching enamel. We visited the Maison de l’Email in Limoges (no not a cybercafé) which had some beautiful works of art and jewellery – ranging from panels to pendants to modern artworks


A pendant in Maison d’email

much fancier arty piece












Delia had a much simpler piece I had bought for her at a local country fair so we went internauting (French for internet surfer is internaut – so much better) for local enamel workers I found two in a town not too far – no web sites but the directory said “visite sur rendez vous” so I rang them. ‘Are your Joel Taton?’… “Who wants to know?” (more or less) was the cagey answer but eventually he agreed for us to meet at his workshop. The second (”Chris”) turned out to be the actual artisan who had made Delia’s pendant and was happy to arrange a visit.

The day arrives and we three trundle off to Joel Taton’s workshop… actually his house through which we walk (greeting his wife and daughter on the way) into the garden and to his workshop. He had some wonderful work there including some small replicas inspired from an item made by him (and others) for the Limoges Musée des beaux arts.

Several artists contributed to this piece now in the Musée des beaux arts of Limoges








All in all a fascinating run through of many enamelling techniques (stretching my French understanding but I followed most and translated enough for Delia and her dad). He seemed genuinely grateful for our visit and when we asked, he had nothing for sale, all were works underway. He did tell us of a gallery in Limoges that stocked his jewellery which we later visited but his works were more than our budget would stand – high quality but up beyond 100€.

“Chris” on the other hand was much more commercially focussed and had his items for sale arrayed ready for our perusal and followed by an explanation of his skills in his workshop. We all bought some items – priced in tens rather than hundreds of euros – however the difference was marked – his jewellery was attractive whilst Joel Taton’s was art. Chris produced his by the dozen; though still involving up to ten firings, he was able to produce items at an affordable price. Tha being said he showed us some incredibly skilled and intricate panels, as well as his main love which apparently was enamelling model trolley buses and trams – of which he had working models in a model town!


Having guests (as we currently have Bill – Delia’s dad) means that we also become tourists and so we have visited and walked much more than usual. Including me and Bill on a 14km walk around the “sources of the river Dronne”; the three of us to two Beaux Villages, and to Chateau de Jumilhac.

Patio extension-1

Not that its all been touristic this fortnight… Bill helped with putting a cement mixer together and also digging out turf for gravel and a ditch for the foundation of the step/retaining wall for the patio extension. Sounds grand but its really just converting the grassy patch that gets slippery in winter to gravel matching the rest at the back of the house (also somewhere for me to tip the slurry at the end of each day of repointing – see the next few blog, bet you can’t wait for that?).


Rotisserie chicken and lime mortar

If you are following Deli’s blog you will know that we removed some of the panelling in the bathroom in the process of installing a new shower cubicle (to replace the old leaking one). Essentially we now know that our dream of cutesy stone walls in our bathroom is probably a fantasy since it seems to be clad to the ceiling in white tiles. I avoid the term ‘floor to ceiling’ since the lower few rows are a bit haphazard (see deliablog.patbell.co.uk for some pictures). Anyway, not to repeat her blog I’ll continue here in that we are still awaiting a fix for the leaking factory fitted bit of the shower pan. Poor Bill (Delia’s dad) is unlikely to have a working shower upon his arrival. On Thursday by email Planêtebain who supplied the shower said something about a replacement drain unit being sent but I can’t determine if that’s from their supplier to me or via them. Also, as far as I can see the leaky thing is glued in and since they aren’t sending me the whole shower tray I am unsure what I will do to remove the old one.

I am currently trying out the rotisserie gizmo in our new oven (not massively innovative, since Delia says she had had one but never thought to use it). Its looking good at the moment though I needed Delia to figure out how to get it rotating by actually looking at the pictures on the oven door rather just than reading the manual. I guess that why men need wives… to point out the bleeding obvious? Oh and perhaps also to point out when we’re being d##kheads. I’m not too sure what the benefit to wives is because it certainly isn’t to receive a confident answer to their dreaded “does my bum look big in this?” question.

This is the following day no and the chicken was good, its going to be my go to way of roasting now though it does impede roasting potatoes since they either block the top element or the chicken rotation.

I’ve been preparing for the repointing project – finding the bits to rake the mortar don’t fit my machine and that the readymix recommended by our near neighbour contains cement which is a big no-no for lime mortar (it won’t breathe apparently). So looking at mixing it ourselves we decided to buy a low cost mixer and probably sell it after (along with the scaffolding) even so its still a lot less expensive than having it done though its also damned hard work (not a bad thing, although thanks to the hard work doing the kitchen I am already 4kg lighter than when our last visitors left – obviously we entertain our guests too well – either that or I eat all the leftovers).

So, tomorrow is Monday and hopefully the shower replacement part will arrive. In any case we will be off to Angouléme to pick up Bill from the station, hopefully he’ll have recovered from his Masters water polo tournament from which he is disappointed to have won bronze apparently. I hope he’s fit enough to assist with putting up the shower, some repointing and possibly some garden path laying. Come to think of it, I hope I am.

No picture this fortnight but here’s one I took earlier last month of the Millau Bridge, oops Ive already put this in before… here’s a shot I just took this morning … the lake nearby but from the opposite side (with the help of wellies)

the other side



Kitchen finished, now the shower leaks!

So the kitchen is finished? Some rehanging of doors, spray painting the doors so they are more stain proof, re-oiling the worktops but otherwise an opportunity to catch up on paperwork and actual work. The plan was a week of deskwork then up with the scaffolding and on with the re-pointing especially since it is cooler at the moment, and the mortar wouldn’t dry too fast… No such luck though, dripping through the kitchen ceiling gave us a new word – xxxxx for leak. It seems to be the shower drainage plumbing somewhere. The problem is that to get at that bit of the plumbing seems to require total dismantling of the shower cubicle and base. We had scheduled a revamp of the bathroom next year and we certainly don’t want to disable the bathroom just when Delia’s dad is due to spend a couple of weeks with us. So we are currently looking to divide the bathroom project so we replace the shower first (the existing cubicle is an upright coffin). I’d hoped to get on with the re-pointing but I guess it doesn’t have to be all done in one summer… It being August (when France is closed) getting hold of a shower cabinet at short notice is a bit difficult… Watch this space.

Siena has been being a bit adolescent lately, demanding we play with her more often than we do. Evenings, where we want to relax and read or watch tv, turn into arguments where dog brings toy and barks until we either play or shut her in the kitchen. She is also barking more at noises outside. She does look so cute when she drop her rope toy at your feet and cocks her head at you though. So we currently have an ultrasonic beeper to distract her when she barks. However this has coincided with a long planned intention of taking Siena for a run with our bikes, this intention finally crystallising yesterday just around the hamlet and today with a lovely 6km cycle to and along the Voie Verte (a re-purposed old railway – literally translated as Green Way). For the first three or so kilometres I had an engine of a dog pulling me up hills. The last 2km though she was flagging a bit and I had to slow down and sometimes just walk with her. The upshot of this was that she was pretty knackered for the rest of the day and so we’ve not really had a good try with the ultrasonic beeper.

This afternoon I had invited our neighbours in for coffee (and Delia’s delicious blueberry muffins) and to show them the new kitchen – and show them what all the noise had been about (or show it off) . Conversation with them has been getting a bit more relaxed as our French gradually improves. Siena was much calmer than she might have been too (being flaked out on her bed).

She was a bit low key this morning when I took her out on the bike again, guess I’ll let her recover a bit more.

So until next fortnight, that’s all folks.

No pictures from me this time so I thought I’d include the two Delia had framed recently ofr the local art group exhibition.