Thursday, 18 December 2014

An Open Letter to Russell Brand.


For those of you who have never heard of Russell Brand (above), he is a foul-mouthed British 'comedian', ex-junkie, and extreme left wing rabble rouser.

Brand has in recent times become the darling of the left with his 'let's bash the rich' puerile diatribe. Certain people just love to hear his type of bile, his amusing way of garbling the English language, and his almost incomprehensible gutter accent; but analyse his words and one finds nothing but anarchistic Marxism.

His current fixation is 'The City'; London's, and the world's, financial center. One of England's greatest success stories.

Brand's other fixation is Nigel Farage; ex-City commodities trader and leader of UKip (a new UK political party dedicated to pulling out of the EU).

His two fixations sit conveniently together.

So, Mr Brand, let me explain something to you..... and I'll try to make it simple.

In 2013 The City made a record trade surplus of £61 Billion; yes Mr Brand SIXTY ONE BILLION QUID. And is on target to increase that for 2014.

It is estimated that each and every worker in the financial sector contributes £83,000 to the economy, compared with £46,000 for other sectors. See here for details.

Just in case your knowledge of maths is similar to that of the English language, let me give a simple example for you to understand what this means. A hospital costs roughly £500,000,000 to build; the City's contribution to the economy could therefore build over 100 such hospitals per annum. Is your junior idealism really worth throwing all that away?

Mr Brand, let me tell you another thing. The financial sector employs 2 Million workers; two thirds of whom are based outside of The City of London. Your silly hatred of the financial world is an insult to ALL those workers.

Rant all you will Mr Brand, but don't forget to read up on the facts before opening your big mouth. Your idiotic adversarial (not 'adversal', Russell) remarks may well get you on Radio and TV, but there's a real world out there, and it needs to be respected; not attacked and belittled.

And do remember, if your beloved Socialists ever get elected again; they'll probably be very grateful for that SIXTY ONE BILLION QUID in the coffers.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Our Christmas Fizz.

I don't know about you, but I very rarely drink pukka Champagne. Frankly I find it overpriced and over-hyped

No, for Cro it's either a Crémant de Bourgogne, a Crémant d'Alsace, or even a dry Italian Prosecco. 

I do, of course, keep a couple of bottles of Mumm in the fridge just in case Wills and Kate should pop by, but it's something we would hardly ever open just for ourselves.

My most recent favourite fizz is this l'Altissime (foreground). It has no appellation d'origine on the label, but is extremely good. The other one in the photo is a good Crémant d'Alsace.

This may sound like heresy, but the important things to me about fizz are its taste, the appearance of the bottle (v important), and the cost. A bottle of l'Altissime costs me about €6 (under £5) and when chilled is perfectly delicious. Unfortunately a bottle of very ordinary Champagne would set me back at least 3 times that, and would probably be unremarkable.

We might have a bottle of Mumm for Christmas Day, but otherwise I'll stick to the Crémants.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

I name this tree.... CRIMBO.

It's official; Christmas has arrived chez Cro, and Minnie/Mickey Mouse (not quite sure which) has been blessed with the most important role of the season (last year we honoured our 'antique' knitted Golly).

We've started a little early this year as our youngest son, Wills, is on a flying pre-Christmas visit from Oz. Unfortunately Kellogg and Bunny have had to stay behind to hold the Mullumbimby fort.

So, we're having a veggie run-up to the big Turkey Fest'; not a bad idea, methinks.

And this is the tree itself. 

As you can probably guess, there is now a big gap in our Leylandii hedge; it'll grow!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Game Season.

It's the season for Pheasant, Grouse, Partridge, et al; all fowl that are sadly unavailable here (well, they probably are somewhere).

So to assuage our desire for a slightly 'gamier' bird than our usual Chicken for our Sunday roast we plumped for a Guinea-fowl.

Many years ago I bought about a dozen Guinea-fowl chicks to run alongside our Chickens. Sadly the local wildlife also had a desire for such delights, and they soon fell victim to overnight attacks. I've not bothered since.

If you haven't tasted Guinea-fowl, I would recommend you do so. In many ways it's similar to a really good quality Chicken, but with a slightly gamier edge. The flesh on the birds themselves is also much more moist (fattier) than a Chicken.


Yesterday I roasted the one above with Potatoes, Butternuts, Sprouts, and preserved Lemon; and it was served with Lady Magnon's fabulous homemade Cranberry Sauce.... Almost Christmassy! 

Sunday, 14 December 2014

Education, again. A Sunday Special.

Back in 2011 I wrote a piece Here about classroom disturbance in the UK's secondary schools, and the effect it had on those pupils who wished to learn and advance.

My thoughts were, and still are, that a two-road system is so much better. Academic schools for those who are desirous and capable of taking and passing exams, and more trade/skills based schools for those who wish to find employment on leaving school.

Pre Harold Wilson (a 1960's left-wing English Prime Minister) this was indeed the case. Secondary Modern schools taught the majority of children, and Grammar Schools fast-tracked those who wished to go on to college or university. It was a system which worked well.

Wilson changed all this and dumped all children of differing talents together; high achievers and low achievers all in the same classroom. (On his plus side I must add that Wilson did establish The Open University; at least he got one thing right!)

OK, this may sound all very PC and Socialist, but those who wished to learn were often held back by those who wished to just fool about and cause disruption. It is estimated that brighter children are losing an average of an hour a day's teaching through classroom disturbance.

I'm pleased to see that a recent Ofsted report has now come to the same conclusion as myself. Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) is the UK's non-ministerial Government Department for all things educational.

So, now that they've woken up at long last, what will they do about it. Probably nothing; a return to pre-Wilson days will take decades, meanwhile thousands of children who showed huge promise at their Primary Schools are now being failed by their Secondary Schools.... and all because of some ridiculous left-wing social experiment.

I am probably not the best person to lecture government big-wigs, but I think it's ALWAYS better to aim for the Highest Common Denominator rather than the Lowest. They've tried 'dumbing down'; it didn't work. Social experiment is all well and good, but playing with children's futures is not.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

With a Wish and a Prayer!

I'd taken the dogs on a walk through the woods to see the ancient Borie (top left), when we came across this wonderful Heath Robinson machine. 

Take one hydraulic ram, an RSJ, and a few bits of assorted metal, and Bingo; you have a home-made log splitter.

Someone's obviously been busy. There were several sawn Oak tree trunks nearby, and the remnants of log splitting.

I have no knowledge at all of engineering or heavy metalwork, which is probably why I admire this sort of machine. It's operated by an ancient looking tractor drive shaft, and no doubt has provided decades of service.

My congratulations to whoever made it.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Winter Scrumping.

Most apples have long gone, but this particular variety lingers on.

It's the only apple I know that resists frost, snow, hail, and pestilence. I have no idea what variety it is, but I am very grateful that it exists. It belongs to a neighbour, and lives about 100 metres downhill from us. No-one else takes them.

Up until late November it was bland and almost unpleasant to eat, but now it has aged and had a slight frost on its back it becomes delicious.

I've just been down to half-inch a few for Lady Magnon's latest lot of Mincemeat, and I noticed that there are plenty; maybe I'll go down again and fill-up a whole box,... they last through until about March.

If anyone recognises the variety I'd love to know what it is. Otherwise I suppose I could always take a cutting. As you can see the apples are yellow with reddish spots. The tree is very big, and very old.

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