Chaumont Garden Festival

When we went to France in the summer, because we were in the Loire Valley we visited a lot of chateaux.  Unsurprisingly, after a few days of this the kids (and I) began to get chateauitis.  So we started to find ways that DH could indulge his passion for looking round them while entertaining the kids in other ways.

At Chaumont there was a brilliant garden festival in the grounds.  The kids were a bit dubious as to the entertainment value, but they soon decided it was worth it.   The grounds were divided into several different sections, like small rooms and each had been made into an original garden by a sponsor.   The Garden Festival website has a link to each garden with an English version.

The entrance to the festival interested me especially.  It had sculptures made from rusty poles.

rust sculpture

rusty sculpture

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will not be surprised to hear that I wanted to enhance it with some fabric!

They especially liked the one sponsored by the French railway company, SNCF, called Just Move It.  It had tubs and sections on bits of railway line which you could push and pull about to rearrange it to suit the way you wanted it.

garden planters on railway tracks

Another noteworthy garden had lots of planters up in the air suspended by wires:

planters up in the air on wires

And yet another made the garden look bigger using mirrors:

garden with mirrors

They also had an interesting garden where you could move various ‘screens’ to frame the flowers planted behind.  This made me think of the use of aperture cards to find interesting portions of a design which we learnt about at City & Guilds.

garden with 'frames' in front

I also liked this garden where they had painted tree trunks blue to make a very sculptural, and rather eery set of figures…

blue tree trunk figures

They marched off across this lake as well:

sculptural blue figures across lake

They had a graffiti garden, too!

fence with graffiti

Some looms

I didn’t find much of textile interest while on holiday (except in terms of inspiration like the manhole covers). There was a silk factory which had a museum attached but I was told by the tourist office in Tours that it was closed all July and August. 🙁

However, I did find a few things, unexpectedly. We went to see a strange motley collection of … basically anything with moving parts, the Musee Maurice Dufresne. I think that M Dufresne couldn’t bear to leave any machines he found rusting in fields or anywhere; he had to rescue them and add them to his collection. Something had been found at the bottom of a lake. It was a huge combine harvester or something like that. Goodness knows how it got to the bottom of the lake or how he knew it was there and managed to get it out again. It was that sort of a collection.

Anyway, in amongst all this stuff were a few looms.

looms

I don’t know much about looms or what type they are but it was lovely to see all that pile of yarn in the midst of machinery! If anyone can enlighten me, I will add the information.

loom

loom

I think this one made braid, or ribbon.

machine for winding bobbins?

Is this a machine for winding shuttles? or warping or something? (can’t you tell I don’t know ANYTHING about weaving?! Still, I do find these kinds of things interesting and I would love to learn, so please enlighten me!)

All these looms were a drop in the ocean in the huge barn-like buildings in which they were stored. I found some sewing machines high up on a shelf later on and I felt so sorry that they were stuck up there so unappreciated.  I wanted to take them all home with me!
old sewing machine

In amongst all these were cars, farm machinery, a London bus(!) and even a guillotine which had travelled around during the French Revolution – it was mounted on a cart. Bikes, printing machines, you name it, it was there. Amazing.

Megaliths and castles!

We saw a few old structures while we were in Pembrokeshire. These were the oldest.

These were neolithic (I think) burial sites, and there are several scattered round the coast. Our chief difficulty was finding them, as neither of them were signposted!

ancient stone burial site

This was called Carn Llidi and was along the coast path in quite a lonely, stony area. Anselm provides quite a good guide to the size of the stones.

rocky area

The kids enjoyed climbing on the rocks and attacking one another.

The second was called Carreg Samson and was in the middle of a farmer’s field. Here it is in the drizzle and murk…

megalithic burial site

As you can see, it is bigger than the other one…

megalith with people...

On the last day of our trip, we went to Pembroke Castle. The kids had fun because it is pretty intact for a medieval castle, with lots of steps to towers, narrow corridors leading all over the place and walks around the walls.

medieval castle

castle

All those steps were very tiring!

three houses

I liked these little old houses outside the walls.

Ideal herb garden

Of course, this is what my herb garden ought to look like:

herb garden all enclosed by box hedges

I took this photo at the Ecomusee near Mulhouse in eastern France on holiday in 2004. Here is the whole thing. Nice.

larger view of above with lots of neat hedges and things envy envy

I’ve got one clump of box which I bought with a view to making lots of cuttings and making something like this. Huh; so far, about ten years later, I’ve got one cutting from it. All the box plant does at the moment is obscure my view from the kitchen window to the other herbs. Must try a bit of topiary on it sometime! I just looked for a photo of it but can’t find one and it is too dark to take one now. Will take one sometime. I need a gardener….