What an interesting summer it has been so far! Almost four weeks after the last of three cases of Scarlet Fever in our family I think it is safe for me to proclaim jubilantly that Tristan and I have trumped this unpleasant and rather vintage illness. The sore throat Héloïse started on the day of her Baccalauréat results was the first symptom of Scarlet Fever, poor child. All is well now. Héloïse left, a week behind schedule, to start her first summer job in a splendid hotel on the island of Belle Ile en Mer and the rest of us have been relishing the tough, resilient Paradise of high summer in Touraine. There is nothing fey or delicate about blooming fists of lavender. "Yikes!" I say out loud, in a mixture of delight and confusion when I observe our fast-growing garden. Let us say that weeks of intense sunlight and rainfall have been a boon to all plant life.
I love the way the garden becomes an outside room during the summer months. Our small house grows bigger. Evenings spent with special friends, barely able to hear the trilling crickets over our shrill laughter. Candles in holders casting lacework shadows over our lichen-covered cherry tree. Another bottle of champagne? Why not! It will help us forget the latent threat of voracious mosquitos. The food we eat is simple and good. Shortcrust tarts with goat's cheese, tomato and basil. Greek salad with just enough red onion and a big fistful of dill. Luscious apricots and peaches are always piled up high in our fruit bowl. They must be gobbled up fast; the hot, humid weather spoils them quickly. My current favourite - and Tristan's too - is a tart made with peaches and a few sprigs from our lavender bush.* The secret is to mix in a few lavender flowers only.
Summer is the song everyone is humming and I, perhaps, more loudly than all. Victoria Finlay's fascinating book, Colour, has inspired me to play with the bright and vibrant this season, even more than usual. I stayed up far too late last night reading her chapter on Orange (my least favourite colour). 'Dance the orange,' the German poet Rainer Maria Rilke wrote in a wonderful waltzing poem about a fruit and a colour that pretend to be sweet but are actually rambunctious and challenging. Last night's compelling read transported me to the city of Cremona in Italy where, around 1750, the secret of how Antonio Stradivari made the orange varnish for his instruments was lost. Doubtless, I will be writing about this book again in the future.
In the meantime the pictures below testify to my love affair with summery colours and Liberty fabrics which I always purchase from this, my favourite online shop.
Angélique's dress fabric is Floral Eve, from the Spring & Summer 2013 collection. The pattern is Suzanne from the French Citronille pattern and fabric shop. Amazing, beautiful, easy patterns which can be purchased in English. I know that Soule Mama and Posie gets Cozy are huge fans too. And that beautiful floral wreath? Another success from the talented Michele from Amore Bride.
Summer has also brought a dose of magic. For those who have not read this little story over on my Madame Millefeuilles page, you will find it here.
Tomorrow is Mickaël's birthday. Tomorrow we set off for Brittany where the next chapter of our summer begins. Next week I am hoping to, finally, upgrade my mobile telephone in order to join in with the Instagram fun.
Happy August, dear friends.
* It's easy as pie to make. The usual shortcrust pastry first, and then slice a few peaches or nectarines which need to me mixed gently with 3 tablespoons of cornstarch or arrowroot powder, 100 g of sugar, I tablespoon of lavender buds, I teaspoon of vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt. Pop the tart into the oven - preheated at 180°C/375°F - for around 30 minutes after having dotted a few nobs of butter onto the peaches.