Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Lost and Found.



Never a dull moment.

Yesterday, whilst dog-walking, Lady Magnon found a couple of plastic cards in the churchyard; maybe it was even Billy who found them. One was a Driving Licence, the other a Santander, contactless, credit card. Both were currently valid.

My first instinct was to call the police to see if anyone had reported them either stolen or missing. I was fobbed-off by some 'clerk' who suggested that I try 'Social Media'.

The only form of 'Social Media' to which I subscribe is Facebook, so I entered the name which appeared on the Driving Licence, and up she came at once. Luckily she had an unusual name.

I sent a message, to which she instantly replied. We arranged that she would pick up her cards chez nous that afternoon. She wasn't very forthcoming about how she'd lost them, but she had cancelled the bank card. It still remains something of a mystery. Anyway, she was extremely happy to have them back.

I have only lost my wallet once. It was at Cahors railway station, and it contained not only money, but all my plastic cards and other important stuff. I was totally devastated. Two days later a 'tramp' arrived at the house with the whole lot intact. As you might imagine, I was instantly elated. I crossed his palm with silver, and thanked him profusely. He claimed to have walked the 50Kms from Cahors to return it.

p.s. Not long before the girl arrived, I was looking out from our front bay window and was shocked to see a beautiful young Fox lying down on our doorstep. 

Monday, 25 October 2021

Flint Walling.


I love Flint walls.

In her fascinating 1936 book 'Sussex Cottage', Esther Meynell briefly talks of her love for Flint walls. Having been brought-up in Sussex, they had always been something I'd taken for granted, but she made me look again at them in a new light. 

Unfortunately the book is in France, so I cannot refer to it. 'The net' is woefully short of all the intriguing names I was looking for. However, here are a few favourites that I do remember.

This very regular form of round Flint work, above, is called 'Potato Plant' (for obvious reasons). The rows of Flints are separated by a line of pointing, and the whole job looks extremely smart. It's a shame that this nearby example has been painted. 

A method reserved for high status buildings, churches, etc, is this 'Square knapped' work. You can imagine the hours of work involved 'knapping' every Flint to the same size; an art in itself. The Flints are then laid almost like bricks; a very beautiful technique.

And finally, possibly the most common method of building with Flint is known as 'Snail Creep', where halved flints are arranged in an almost haphazard way, leaving a very pleasant looking textured wall, bordered by either stone or brick.

Flint walling is not exclusively found in Sussex, examples can be found throughout East Anglia; especially in Norfolk; in fact wherever Flint is found. These three examples are from within a few metres of our own 'Flintless' home.


Sunday, 24 October 2021

It's been a week.

 

I've been back in the UK for a whole week, and I'm loving it.

At home I've been painting, decorating, and doing general DIY jobs, but outside I've been either shopping, organising, or at my local. Kimbo has forced me out to 'The Caxton', which is about 100 metres away (above).

In France our house came totally equipped. Everything from several different types of salt, a huge variety of curry pastes and powders, apples on trees, and a ready supply of Cavolo Nero growing at Haddock's; it had all that I needed at easy reach. However, returning to a house that had almost nothing except for a few basics that Kimbo had supplied, is quite an experience.

Every day I write a long list of essentials. Mustard, chilli sauce, gherkins, capers, tinned tomatoes, pasta of various shapes, rice, fatted calf, etc. For the moment I am making daily shopping trips rather than my usual once a week. 

I have managed to register with a doctor, I have my bus pass on order, and I have semi-sorted a banking dilemma. I'm not totally happy with contactless card DIY shopping; but I'll get used to it. Otherwise, everything is going according to plan.

What I hadn't expected was to receive several calls each day on our land-line from people with thick Indian accents trying to sell me things that I don't want. I had hoped to leave that side of life back in France; but they've found me!

Everything is going well, and we are having fun. We even had a Thai take-away last night; it was spectacular!!


Saturday, 23 October 2021

Possibly the best grocery store in the world.

 

There are plenty of great food shops around, but this one beats the lot.

In Brighton's main 'Western Road' shopping area, you will find M & S, Primark, Waitrose, a small Tesco (I think), and plenty of the usual suspects. It has everything. 


At the far West end of the road is Waitrose, and right opposite is 'Taj'. Taj is not only a wonderful grocery shop, it is also the most comprehensive exotic food store that I've ever visited. Just going through the front door is a delight to the senses. There is always Arabic music playing too.

One of the things I always miss in France is any homage to foods from the outside world. Yes we can buy a few English, Indian, and N African delights, but the choice is extremely limited. At Taj you can find just about anything, and a multiple choice of brands too. If they don't have it, it'll be there the following day for you to collect. Nothing is too much for the management.

They also have a lunchtime takeaway service. Home made Indian curries, N African tagines, and various veggie dishes are sold loose for you to eat at home or in the office. Delicious.

Amongst all the various things I've looking forward to doing again in Blighty, my visits to Taj have been very high on the list.

p.s. You might see in the photo that there is a crossing right outside the shop entrance. I once came out, and a tiny lady asked if I would help her across the road. She was about 5 ft tall, very frail, and looked to be well over 90. I took her arm, put my hand up to halt traffic, and we crossed the road 'leisurely' together. Once on the other side, she said 'thank you' and continued on her way without another word. It was a first for me, and was somehow extremely rewarding; I felt elated all day.

Friday, 22 October 2021

Bardot.


I wrote back in 2013 about my meeting BB in London, but seeing this photo recently took me right back to the day of our encounter. This must have been taken a few days before we 'met'.

She came into my antique shop in Chelsea in about 1966, looked around a bit, then said something like 'Zat iz bootyfool', and left. She didn't buy anything.


Bardot had just married the wealthy Gunter Sachs, and unbeknown to the world's press, part of her honeymoon was spent in London. You can imagine my surprise when she walked into my shop. But that wasn't the most interesting thing.

She came in with her chauffeur; a stunningly handsome and tanned Frenchman, dressed in classic black chauffeur's livery with long leather knee-high boots. Sachs was in the background and seemed totally disinterested in her. Maybe he didn't speak French?

I thought at the time that it would have been more understandable had the chauffeur been wearing a Saville Row suit, and Sachs the chauffeur's outfit. 

It came as no surprise that their marriage lasted only two years. I hope she did well 'financially' out of him; and I'm sure that he enjoyed dining out on having been married to BB. Cash for her; kudos for him.

 

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Hopes Dashed!


Regular readers might remember that I had been looking forward to reacquainting myself with certain English 'delicacies'.

Amongst the list were Pork Pies, vacuum packed Kippers, Battenberg Cake, Scotch eggs, and good ole British 'bangers'.


The 'bangers' came by way of Sainsbury's, and were described as Cumberland Pork Sausages. I was looking forward to them. 

They were disgusting; I would hardly give them to Billy.


So upset was I with these bangers, that I looked-up 'Cumberland Sausage' online, and found them to be not dis-similar to the French pure Pork sausages that I'm used to in France.

As you can see above, the 'meat' content was just 70% (pure├ęd, not course ground), with the other 30% being made up by additives; half of which I can't even pronounce.

What's wrong with pure coarsely ground meat? Add some salt and pepper maybe, but otherwise just leave it alone! It's that bloody simple!

 

Paolo Conte - Via Con Me


I must have originally heard this Italian song in France. Whether it reached out internationally I have no idea.

By chance I heard it again recently, but had difficulty finding it as I'd forgotten the singer's name.

If you do know the song, I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing it again. If you don't know it, I hope, like me, you find it mesmerising.


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