Saturday, 3 December 2011

From Grand Designs 2011

A few interesting bits and bobs from Grand designs this year:

Nice door, made by a very talented craftsman. I like this because it will fit a standard door hole; Great idea...Lookout for this on the doors for the kids bedroom.

All sand cast in bronze and then polished by hand with an angle grinder. Apparently it takes about two weeks to polish..I can believe it! A very interesting twist on the old grandfather clock.

New VELUX roof window opens up into balcony..Brilliant.

Freek the neighbours out with this baby.

And one for Claire and Andy

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Here is a little piece I made for a lovely lady who wanted a period Victorian bracelet to go with her costume;

Central Amethyst with rose cut white topaz and rose pearls in a silver mount.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Grand Designs 2011

If you have read my blog before you will know I'm a bit of a fan of Grand Designs. I went a couple of years ago and it's where I found my beloved Esse Ironheart. This year its back and so are ESSE. When you are engaged in a project that you feel very passionate about you probably have a very clear idea about the overall feel of what you want to achieve. What you don't have is a list of all the things you need to achieve it and more importantly an infinite budget to buy them all. That I think is where shows like this are really useful in that they give you a chance to really touch and feel some of the things you think you want. You can then work out what's really important to you and your home and where your budget is best spent. The other useful thing about trade shows is that its an opportunity for motivation and inspiration. This past few months I've been working full time in the UK to help the project along and its good to keep sight of that vision.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

In bloom

Its been a while since my last post. This month I've been teaching English at a business school in Caen. I have to say its been interesting and quiet good fun, only 5 sessions for their summer school so relatively light weight.  Over the month its been middling weather wise but at least we have had some rain, and the potagere is starting to bear fruit, plenty of spinach and cabbage to go at. The house is starting to come together as well all be it slowly. Anyway summer is here and everything is pretty rosy so I thought I'd just take a quick few pictures of the house in summer. When it starts to get cold I can remind myself of what summer is like!

Started to get a bit of furniture for the kitchen, this was off This site is where all the bargains are to be had. Everybody else in the world uses ebay, well the French use leboncoin. unlike ebay its all small announcements so no bidding and because you select the department your in you generally go a look at stuff before you buy it. Why would you buy something you have never seen? Bof?

Oh yes and I've finished the plaster board in the kitchen. Just need to find some thistle multi finish! There are French ways to do it but old habits die hard!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Mr Lemur's latest ring

950 Hallmarked Platinum
Rare Petrol Blue Natural Spinel
With my own handmade mount made from individual Platinum wires welded together to produce a unique one-off piece.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Thursday, 28 April 2011

New belts hot off the forge

Check out my latest stuff

Both have solid silver hallmarked buckles and the finest leather straps money can buy. You can check them out at our etsy shop:

Sunday, 27 March 2011


Two very excited girls with our new (to us) scooter

Libby reading the "how to" scooter book. Note she has already added a few girly features like the hoody rest and box of tissues back box!

Me I've been experimenting with more stylish pimping! Mmmm Nice!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Breaking New Ground

Well its that time of year again; digging the potager. The bit we did last year was easy whereas this years extension into new ground was (is) hard, very hard. I recon its going to take about two days to properly dig an area 20 meters square. The first six inches is ok, then you hit compacted rock and clay (or concrete as the Romans called it) and from then on its all up hill. In fact if I can draw an analogy (and I think I can) its a bit like French bureaucracy; The first time you speak to them to try and get anything done its like digging new ground (hard). After repeated attempts it gets easier but really its a war of attrition!

There are always consolations of course, and despite the hard work and bureaucracy its still a lovely place to live!

And you have to love a school system that gives kids Wednesdays off so they can wander round fields generally enjoying themselves; well you wouldn't want to work too hard now would you!

Bon chance!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Japanese tsunami

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life following the earthquake in Japan. It is not without reason that the word for tsunami comes from the Japanese. The earth is and always has been a living and constantly changing place and no mater how technologically advanced we become we will always be subject to her whims and at her mercy! As we have seen this week there is no greater "superpower" than the power of nature. My the souls of the dead rest in peace. 

P.S. Please note that I have not used the word victim, because the word implies malice and the planet is neither malicious or benevolent it just is. We on the other hand are simply passengers.


For my part I have just been on a small vacation to good old blighty. A few matters to attend to including taking the Fiat to Gray's of Warwick to have a look at the Doblo. Fiat in Milan will then decide if they wish to "help" with the cost of the replacement ECU. I'm hoping after 3 new Fiats and a lifetime of Fiat ownership they will. Don't get me wrong I do understand cars go wrong and would normally cough up without a fight. This time however a big lump of bosch electronics should last longer than 3years and 3 months. If they do i'll be happy as Larry, if not? That said despite the outcome Grays have been great; helpful and supportive, even though I now live in France. If you really fancy that Fiat 500 in white with the Italian flag up the side you could do a lot worse than give them a visit; top guys! Thanks!

We didn't really have much time, other than to visit my and Julia's parents and then go to the jewellery quarter in Birmingham for supplies. This of course was not helped by the fact that we were travelling back on a Friday; Each time I visit I am astounded  by the volume of traffic on British roads and to my mind something radical has to happen: I reckon if you looked at the time cost and fuel cost not to mention stress etc caused by the overcrowding on British roads it would not make pretty reading.

The other sad thing I noticed was that after decades of trying the government have finally managed to kill off the English country pub. In the last year 7 out of the 9 pubs closest to my mums house have closed! These are pubs that are upwards of 100 years old now all but closed. To be fair they probably did well to last as long as they did; Cheap supermarket alcohol, drink driving legislation, the smoking ban, petrol prices have all played there part, but killed them they have. When I was young we used to take an evening drive out and meet up with a few friends for a drink and social (someone used to volunteer to not drink). Now kids to day stock-up at Tesco's with enough beer to sink a ship and go round to someone's house to "hang". It's cheaper and they can chat and talk crap on Facebook at the same time. That's progress I guess and I'm sure it has its pros and cons. The thing I think is a shame is that country (not town) pubs were really the heart of the community, they were the place where people gathered to be a community. In France it was never like that, pubs have never really existed, but the village hall has and to this day that is where the heart of the community resides alive and well. People meet, socialise, sing, dance and get a bit pissed from children (no they don't drink even in France) to pensioners all together, and I think for a community that's healthy. By contrast I don't know where the heart of the English country community is and I'm pretty sure that's not healthy. I do know there is the country fete (a French word) once a year and these are probably the closest, but that's ONCE a year. Is that enough to give people a sense of community? I did however note that my mum now receives a "Staffordshire Magazine" full of articles about fine upstanding people all over Staffordshire designed to make her feel like she is part of a community, pity she will never meet any of them! Go on bring back into use the village hall!!!!!

Well were back in France and working on the next stage of our plan for world domination. I'll let you know how it pans out!

Sunday, 6 March 2011


Today I was contemplating the nature of freedom. On the one hand we feel it is the ability to do what we want because we are able. On the other hand I would suggest that true freedom is the courage to do what we want despite any physical restraints.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Moving Pictures

Well its been 14 months and Libby decided she would like to spend her Christmas money on a TV. Now to begin with I'm really glad the Girls have had a year without the telly, they have read more books than you can imagine for a start! Also they have played like proper children, like I used to and my parents used to. Space to play and be proper children, without us worrying if they are safe or not. But life goes on and since its French television it will help them with their French. So Yes I've relented and last week Libby when out and bought herself a nice little 15" flat screen job.  All the other stuff to set the telly up you get when you take out an internet and phone subscription with orange (whether you like it or not). So last week me and MrG spent a quiet morning setting up the satellite disk on the side of the shed. There were a few small glitches like the dish had no bracket but this was soon remedied with a little impromptu fabrication using some bits of metal I had lying around. Other than that it all went very smoothly, it helped of course having MrSat1995-2011 on board and guiding the installation. Now not only do we have "the nicest shed in Basse-Normandy" but we also have "the only shed in Basse-Normandy with its own satellite downlink!" Check it out!

 Check out the super strong bracketry. Billet aluminium and galvanised steel no less....Nice
So there we are dragged kicking back into the 20th century, but only in the shed. The house on the other hand is still very much unspoiled 18th century retro chic, as it should be.

Ps. The first time Libby watched her new telly all she could do was sit transfixed with her mouth wide open, occasionally muttering the odd "Oooh" or " Arrrrr"....Bless.

PPs. A but like she did when she saw a flushing toilet for the first time in 8 months!

Monday, 28 February 2011

Medici: Poison Ring

Medici: Poison Ring, my latest creation. Labradorite and silver with a spring catch. This is proper medieval stuff. At home in any of the great houses of Europe in the middle age to renaissance period.

As per normal available at our cheekylemur shop on Etsy

Saturday, 19 February 2011


One of the reasons we moved to France was to escape some of the complexity of modern life. By a large extent this has worked, we live a very simple life; Get up in a morning, take kids to school, chop wood for fire, light fire, make jewellery, cook dinner, etc. etc. But nevertheless I'm still amazed at just how complicated it can be made..... Take my car for example its packed full of electronics. Each function of the car is controlled by its own computer system and each one requires its own bit of software to access it. In the old days I could take a car apart with a reasonably basic tool kit and put it back together, now its altogether different. Its a brilliant example of how technology can be abused. Take the service light for example, on the last model of my car the service light came on to remind you that you need a service and could easily be reset, my car oh no...Now- only the main dealer can reset it! Its up-selling in all its glory, Fiat know that the closer they can lock you in to the main dealer, the more money they make! Now to my mind its my car, I should be able to maintain the car if I so wish, Fiat on the other hand know its more beneficial for them to tie me in to a lifetime of main dealer servicing. My farther (who never went near a garage in his life) would turn in his grave, and I don't like it one bit either! But I'm afraid this is the way the world is going; cars, software, any where you look companies are adding in complexity as a means to lock you into their way of life. Microsoft as a service, another good example. "don't you worry about putting up your own servers, its really hard, just give us all your money and we'll make it all go away..there.. there...that's better. That said if you look at all the really successful applications in recent years they are not the Microsoft way of life type applications. No not windows X or sharepoint way of life 3 but actually the simple stand alone innovative ones. Blogs, facebook, google, twitter, flickr etc. Now the one thing all these apps have in common it that they are all single purpose and they all have a really simple interface. You don't need a three day training course to drive twitter, nor should you need to (Microsoft.. look and learn).

And of course there is hope on the horizon, never thought id say it but god bless those hard working Chinese. If you look at the products coming out of China at the moment you will see 40year old perfectly good simple designs for scooters, quad bikes and motorcycles. Air cooled, carbs etc etc.  When those boys get their head around car production god help Fiat! A nice simple car, robust, economical, no electronics and 2/3 the price of a Fiat..... All with the same standard engine so you can buy bits of any street corner. It will happen but its still 5 years away. When it does there will of course be the most almighty repercussions for jobs and the likes of Fiat, Renault, Peugeot etc. If the car manufacturers were smart of course they join forces and head this off at the pass... Common engines between manufacturers standard open interfaces to electronics etc but unfortunately they are too wrapped up in their own self interest to do so. Think about it; I could go out and buy one of 10 different cars with a 1.9TD engine that does around 45-50mpg and gives out around 100+BHP. Each car would have a different engine; WHY! When the Chinese make a scooter there is one engine with two variations that is used in 30 different scooters by a bunch of different manufacturers, brilliant!

So the world is changing, but as a good friend of mine say's; "May all that you wish for be what you really want".

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Thank God it's February

January is always one of my least favourite months. It's long cold and dark, and I'm more of a summer kind of guy. This year has been no exception. Added to this the fiat broke down on the 3rd of Jan and was in the garage for 6 weeks!! Thankfully we have some very good friends who lent us one of their cars; after cheekylemur lost the keys to the loan car from the garage, but the less said about that the better.

The house has taken a bit of a back seat as I've been mostly chopping wood for the fire and making jewellery. Somehow while its been sooooo cold its seemed a lot more productive to get some jewellery done!

As ever with jewellery its a matter of personal taste but hey if at the end of the day you make what you would like than chances are other people will too!

Next on the house front is to do the floor in the kitchen and finish off the electrics and lights and stuff. As the weather warms up a bit I'll start to tackle a few of the smaller jobs. The good news is that this last few days the weather has really perked up a bit and there has been a really hint of the first signs of spring. Starting with the crocuses outside the front door! yipee