Life's Little Details: Knitting, Sewing, Green Living, Frugal Living and Cooking In A Little Corner of Southern French Countryside.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Life On the Inside

In my last post, I showed you the quaint little cabin ("gîte" in French) that we stayed in on our recent vacation. For those of you not aware of this, gîtes are available for rent all over the country. The types of amenities, the architecture, as well as the type of location can vary greatly, but they're a wonderful way to get away from home for vacation while still having a slight sense of feeling at home. They may not all have a washing machine and dishwasher (as this one did), but they are all equipped with little kitchens with pots and pans, and at least a place to sleep and eat to give you a sense of feeling at home. You don't get the daily maid service you'd have in a hotel room (and you have to leave the place clean), but you do have a certain amount of independence and private comfort you may not get in a hotel. Another perk is that these cabins are often in off-the-beaten-path kinds of places.

So, let's take a little tour, shall we? First off, we have a picture of the hearth. As I mentioned earlier, this was a poor farmer's house. I'm sure you've seen in period films that the lady of the home was often to be found at the hearth, tending to a large pot that sat over an open flame. What you don't see in those movies is the enormous hole in the ceiling above this fire to allow the smoke to escape. Not a bad idea, really. That's the kind of thing you want to let out of the house. In renovating the cabin, the owners were careful to maintain the beauty of the original hearth, though they did plug the hole. Another smart idea, really, considering we're now in the age of space heaters, heating coils in the floor and wood-burning stoves.

This second shot is a little closer look at what's behind the hearth. I just about fell over with excitement when I saw this. You know I love to make my own bread. We've talked about that here before. Well, right here, in the very cabin we stayed in, was a real, live (well, not really, because it can't be used anymore with that hole plugged) bread oven. Back in the day, they would have stoked this baby with a good fire and baked their breads in there. Beautiful, and certainly something I aspire to own someday (though on a smaller scale and outdoors).

Now, in this next photo, we've turned in the direction of the stairs (which lead up to the bedrooms, which would have once been a loft probably used to hold hay). Just at the entrance to the staircase is a funny little alcove that is currently used as a knick-knack spot (and this cabin was full of goofy knick-knacks). That alcove would have originally had more than just an ornamental purpose, though. It would have held a large (most likely copper) basin equipped with a sort of spout that would have served as the family's wash tub. Going outside and around the house confirmed that there was, indeed, a small hole that had been plugged. This hole would have allowed for the evacuation of used water. If it had occurred to me, I would have snapped a little shot of one of these basins, as there is one hanging on the wall in my husband's grandmother's livingroom. Very impressive object.

Now on to the goofy knick-knacks. They were truly everywhere. At one moment in our stay, I turned to my husband and asked him to select what he believed to be the kitchiest thing in the house. We disagreed, but I decided to snap a shot of each to let you decide which was worse. I found the funky, beadish watchamacallit hanging from the stairs to be by far the weirdest object in the place.

My husband, on the other hand, was really put off by the fake candle chandellier. Notice how the lightbulbs are supposed to look like candles. I think I've seen plenty of these in my lifetime, so it seemed much less out-of-place.

And, as one last little thought before I set the table for lunch, I leave you with a photo that expresses the kind of inspiration that a cabin in the-middle-of-nowhere can provide.

Lambchop #1 was given the task of painting a picture for her great aunt as a thank you for a very nice gift she was given. This beautiful painting of a flower was the result. I would gladly have kept it and framed it. That's how much I love this painting, but I couldn't, so I at least took a picture of it for posterity.