Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Top Fruit.

I reckon we're about to have a bumper fruit harvest. The Pears are looking wonderful, this one above is a Doyenne de Comice; one of the best. I also have a very young Conference which also has several fruits. 

Our main Plum is a Quetsche d'Alsace; a sort of French version of the English Victoria. It's also the Plum that is used for making our local Pruneaux d'Agen.

The Bramley never fails, but our other Apples are a bit hit-n-miss. This one above is a Reine de Reinette, a classic French 'doer', a bit like a Cox. This year it is excelling.

These babies never fail, even after a plague of locusts the one crop you'd be certain of is Figs. 

And then there are the grapes..... bloody grapes; we have mountains of them.

My only real disappointment this year has been the Peaches. They all looked so good in Spring; now they're looking rather pathetic...... Ah well, there's always next year.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Summer Holls; Times Past.

Ah, summer holidays by the sea.

Ice creams, silly hats, crunchy sand sandwiches, an end of the pier show, rain, crazy golf, knickerbocker glories, more rain, more ice creams, then home again.

I've no idea where the above photo was taken, but I'm sure we had lots of fun. It was taken years before the obligatory 2 week cheap Spanish beach holidays were even thought of.

Our aspirations were lower; we didn't complain about soggy chips or lumpy beds, we just 'went with the flow' and made the most of it.

I honestly can't remember much about these early holidays, but I can recall small snippets. Times were good.

p.s. I presume my mother took the photo with her ancient Box Brownie; the woman peering from behind my sister was possibly an aunt.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

July 27th: Belloc Night, and the tale of Jim.

Tonight is 'Belloc Night' (a more comprehensible version of 'Burns Night' for fastidious Sussex folk, and all others who speak The Queen's English).

On this night (27th July) we eat Bread, Cheese, and Pickle, and read verses of Belloc; in my case from his most famous tome 'Cautionary Tales for Children'.

If, like me, you intend to celebrate the life and work of Hilaire Belloc tonight (as I'm sure you will), may I suggest that you read 'Jim' to your assembled party; kids love it too!


    There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
    His Friends were very good to him.
    They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
    And slices of delicious Ham,
    And Chocolate with pink inside
    And little Tricycles to ride,
    And read him Stories through and through,
    And even took him to the Zoo--
    But there it was the dreadful Fate
    Befell him, which I now relate.
    You know--or at least you ought to know,
    For I have often told you so--
    That Children never are allowed
    To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
    Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
    He ran away when he was able,
    And on this inauspicious day
    He slipped his hand and ran away!
    He hadn't gone a yard when--Bang!
    With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
    And hungrily began to eat
    The Boy: beginning at his feet.
    Now, just imagine how it feels
    When first your toes and then your heels,
    And then by gradual degrees,
    Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
    Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
    No wonder Jim detested it!
    No wonder that he shouted ``Hi!''
    The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
    Though very fat he almost ran
    To help the little gentleman.
    ``Ponto!'' he ordered as he came
    (For Ponto was the Lion's name),
    ``Ponto!'' he cried, with angry Frown,
    ``Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!''
    The Lion made a sudden stop,
    He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
    And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
    Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
    But when he bent him over Jim,
    The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
    The Lion having reached his Head,
    The Miserable Boy was dead!
    When Nurse informed his Parents, they
    Were more Concerned than I can say:--
    His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
    Said, ``Well--it gives me no surprise,
    He would not do as he was told!''
    His Father, who was self-controlled,
    Bade all the children round attend
    To James's miserable end,
    And always keep a-hold of Nurse
    For fear of finding something worse.

    As you settle down to your bread cheese and pickles, it is worth noting that in Belloc's book 'The Four Men', he reminds us that in Sussex, cheese is not given silly fancy pompous names (such as 'Bishop's armpit', or 'Nun's nasty'), but is simply known as CHEESE.

'In Sussex, let me tell you, we have but one cheese, the name of which is CHEESE.  It is One, and undivided, though divided into a thousand fragments, and unchanging, though changing in place and consumption.  There is in Sussex no Cheese but Cheese, and it is the same cheese from the head of the Eastern Rother to Harting Hill, and from the sea-beach to that part of Surrey which we gat from the Marches with sword and bow.  In colour it is yellow. It is neither young nor old.  Its taste is that of Cheese and nothing more'. 

p.s. I am privileged to own a couple of drawings by BTB (Basil Temple Blackwood) who illustrated Belloc's Cautionary Tales (see Jim and the Lion, above). Poor old Blackers was killed in action at Ypres, aged 46. 

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Cro's Catwalk.

This year's long-awaited T Shirts (modelled by Harvey J and Ollie).

The 'twenty four' refers to the number attributed to our department (county, state, region).

The 'je t'adore' simply means that they rather like it here.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Damn, damn, and more bloody damn!


Dear Lady Magnon is a magnet for viruses. She only has to go within a mile of some contaminated bloody schoolboy, and it's as if she shouts "Come hither and infect me".

Every single time she goes to the bloody UK, she comes back with a bloody cold.

Usually my fine physique puts up serious resistance to such invasions, but occasionally (just occasionally) I let my shield slip, and a bloody virus or two attacks.

Recently, when I picked her up at Bergerac airport, I noticed at once that she was holding a box of Kleenex (nothing unusual in that), then once in the Compact Royce she started bloody sneezing.

I am trying to ignore the fact that I now have a running bloody nose, a sore bloody throat, and a raging bloody temperature; however, I am determined to enjoy the summer that I've been anticipating for so long.

I'm off to chew garlic for two weeks.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Summer Lunch.

Simple lunch, courtesy of Richard, Haddock's, and Oooh my aching back. 

OK, this may not be up to the standard of Maxim's in Gay Paree, but I just love eating meals that consist entirely of my own home produced goodies. 
Pukka Summer lunches have now arrived. This one was red cabbage with mayo, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and some lightly curried picked cauli.

And it's all FREE (other than having a few less vertebrae than I was born with) .

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Gentlemen prefer Blondes.

With so many farmers going out of milk production, the countryside is beginning to look so much more interesting.

I've never liked either Holsteins or Friesians (the bog-standard black-n-white milkers), I much prefer to see regional cattle, living where they belong.

Now that my neighbour Claude has stopped milking, he too has gone native and now has a small herd of my favourite cow, the Blonde d'Aquitaine. Here they are just beyond my garden.

However, I did spot a couple of foreigners in amongst them. There's one Montbeliard, and one Holstein.

The Blondes are all youngsters, so maybe the two adult cows are there to give them a thick-ear if they misbehave.

Aren't they beautiful!

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