Sigh, at Mottisfont

Today’s Flowers on Friday is a single photo post, and one from back in 2017. It was taken at NT Mottisfont, which is an absolute delight of a place.

If truth be known I was at a bit of a loss for what to share today. I found myself browsing through old photos and stumbled across photos from our trip here, which was a stop off on our way back from a week in Swanage. At the time we weren’t sure about making the trip, but once we had we wondered why we’d not been before. Finding those photos again, I’m thinking we should go back, but I’m not quite sure when.

At mottisfont.jpg

This is a slightly unusual Flowers on Friday post, as I’m not sure what the plant is. And of course there’s a window. But there’s a timeless ease to the photo which just shouts calm, if anything can shout calm. So yes, sigh, one day we’ll be back to see more of Mottisfont I’m sure.

Through the windows at Chenonceau

Today I thought it'd be fun to look out the windows of Chateau de Chenonceau and in doing so make the most of it's unique selling point, which is of course that it's a chateau that spans the river. Which makes for some unusual and unexpected views. On our visit it was an overcast day and light rain had just started as we locked up our bikes. It held off, but just imagine how spectacular the views over the River Cher would have been on a gloriously sunny day, and equally how they might be on days much worse than when we visited.

Looking over the River Cher

There are windows on every level, even in the kitchen which is on the lowest levels. The windows do get more fancy, as you'd expect, as the rooms get grander. The simple window above gives a great view over the river, but the patterned window below is much prettier to look at.

leaded windows at chateau de chenonceau
a close up of the leaded lights at Chenonceau

In the Gallery the windows are much more grand. And arched into alcoves. I like how the panes here pick up the pattern of the classic black and white marble floor. Simple but very effective and demonstrates how repeating patterns just works.

An arched window in The Gallery

As we entered the chateau, I'd spotted people standing on a small balcony above the front door and made a mental note to find our way there. And that happened just as we finished walking through and admiring Katherine Briçonnet's hall, and from the small balcony you can look down to the entrance and over to the Marques tower. The forecourt in front of the tower traces the medieval fortress.

Standing above the front door

Katherine Briçonnet was the wife of Thomas Bohier, who in the 16th century demolished the fortified castle in order to build the chateau. The fortress belonged to the Marques family and all that they left was the keep, the Marques tower, which they renovated in Renaissance style.

Looking towards the Marques Tower

From other parts of the chateau there are great views of Catherine's garden on the left, and Diane's garden on the right.





And before we leave, there's just one more window to show you. Remember that grand front door? Well above it is an arched stained glass window, which as we left we got a great view of

The impressive stained glass above the impressive front door at Chenonceau

So plenty of windows, with great views and lots of detail. I hope you've enjoyed a closer look at this pretty chateau.

A chemical free fortnight with e-cloth

When e-cloth got in touch and challenged me to take part in a chemical free fortnight I was interested. I'm the person that finds walking down the cleaning aisle in the supermarkets overpowering and tend to agree that we're over reliant on using chemicals for cleaning, where often some old-fashioned elbow grease could work equally well. Don't get me wrong we use chemical cleaners here because often they're easier but I do wonder if we need to, all of the time.

So after reading that a Norwegian professor - Jan Vilhelm Bakke - confirmed that research had found that chemical cleaning sprays were harmful to health, I thought we'd give it a go.  Note the use of we'd there, as MOH does the majority, but not all of the cleaning here - yes, I know, I'm lucky.

Bakke even went as far as to say that chemicals designed to effectively clean dirty surfaces, should not be breathed in. And as someone that struggles to breathe in the supermarket cleaning aisle, I can see his point. So we were in.



The multi-pack of e-cloths, one for every occasion it seemed, plus a mop for cleaning the floor arrived. There were cloths for the bathroom, the kitchen, a hob & oven cloth, a stainless steel cloth, one for windows, another for use on glass & polishing as well as a traditional yellow duster. Thankfully, each one was labelled.

The blurb on the box says that by using these cloths you'll 

  • save time
  • save money
  • get better results and 
  • be kind to your family and the environment.


But did they work?

Well I had plenty of places to test these cloths, let's start with the induction hob. This is my area of expertise - I'm expert at making it messy, usually just by cooking dinner and am quite particular about how it's cleaned. I can't cook on it when it's dirty or if it's been cleaned by MOH and left smeary, so I have plenty of experience (and views) about how this should be cleaned. 


The cleaner than I'd found most effective had recently run out and so I was looking for something to take its place. Wiping the hob with a damp cloth removes the grime - I knew that - but where I was struggling was to get a smear-free finish.

So up came the glass & polishing cloth. It worked really well and left me with the streak-free finish I was after.

cleaning the hob

Next up was the sink - definitely one for MOH, he cleans the sink way better than me and he too gave the stainless steel cloth the thumbs up. Once again the glass & polishing cloth was used to give the tap an extra bit of shine.

cleaning the tap

I used the kitchen cloth to clean the worktops - you wet the cloth, wring it out, form it into a pad and off you go. We've a quartz worktop and while it was damp using the glass & polishing cloth to dry it off and bring out the shine worked really well.

Already I was impressed with that glass & polishing cloth - I suspect many people are as there were two of them in my pack.

Spurred on by the results I set off to find more things to test these cloths on - most unlike me! I also persuaded MOH to use them to clean his pride and joy, the shower. He took some convincing, but more on that later as I'd remembered our bedroom windows needed a clean.

The frames had been attracting dirt and dust from the busy street outside and fluff from the curtain lining, and it was building up. So it was time to try the window cloth, which the pack said removes dirt and grime from windows and frames.

dirty windows

My windows gave this cloth a good workout and the results were good. Just with a wet cloth - and my already trusty glass & polishing cloth - I got fantastic results. I was tempted to carry on and clean the windows in the rest of the house (which aren't as dirty as these) but managed to curb my enthusiasm and went to check to see how MOH was getting on cleaning the shower without chemicals.

clean window
along the window sill

He was convinced the cloths wouldn't give as good a clean - or shine - as with the chemicals he usually uses, but reluctantly agreed to give it a go. He couldn't see how one glass cloth would stay dry enough to cope with our large shower screen.  

cleaning the shower

Well even the doubter was impressed. The bathroom cloth worked well, but once again it was the glass & polishing cloth that exceeded expectations. And tellingly one of the glass cloths now has a permanent home in the bathroom, alongside the bathroom cloth - I think that tells you what you need to know.

The technical bits

The e-cloths have 480,000 fibres per square centimetre. By combining their unique fibre technology with water they break up and hold grease, dirt and bacteria which normal cloths leave behind.

To clean the cloths the advice is that a warm rinse is usually enough in day-to-day use and regularly machine wash at temperatures between 30-60 degrees, with a small amount of detergent. The cloths will, it says, benefit from an occasional hot wash at 90 degrees. 

I haven't washed the cloths yet, but once I've finished cleaning the windows in the house that cloth will be the first I wash - and while I haven't tested it, I fully expect the manufacturer's claims to stand up.

The best bit

Well other than my favourite cloth - which I think you'll've worked out by now. The next best bit is how each cloth is labelled with its intended use. This is a handy reminder but even better than that I can see it putting a stop to those frustrating conversations we seem to have all too often where MOH asks which cloth he can use to clean this, despite us having quite lengthy discussions about which cloth should be used where on what seems a regular basis.



So going chemical free was much easier than I expected and MOH was impressed with them too, which I didn't think I'd be writing. Infact we're so impressed with the glass & polishing cloth that we'll be buying a couple more. One will stay in the bathroom, we'll keep another solely for use in the kitchen and we'll have one to use on our new glass table which we're already regularly cleaning our fingerprints from!


This is a collaborative post and I was provided with these cloths for the purposes of this challenge, however all views and opinions are my own.