Wednesday, 28 January 2015


I recently visited a nearby Bio Store to buy the above pink lentils. There was a self-service counter, and I filled my paper bag with about 1.3 kilos (all that you can see above).

The charming lady who runs the shop is very chatty, and over recent times we've got to know each other quite well.

When she weighed my bag, she asked me for €3.20. I was about to hand over the money when I thought it didn't seem quite right; I had not long ago bought a similar sized bag of lentils in a Villeneuve sur Lot superstore, and it had cost over €10.

"Are you sure that's right?" I asked her. She looked at me oddly and asked if I thought it too much.

"No" I replied "Too little".

She weighed my bag a second time, and confirmed that the price was right. We then had a long conversation about how people view the value of the Euro and the Franc so very differently. I capitulated, paid my €3.20, and left feeling content. I should add that she has a strange accounting system which involves a weighing machine and a small calculator.

Once back in the Compact Royce, I recounted the tale to Lady Magnon who seemed as confused as myself. It still didn't seem right.

At home I weighed my bag and confirmed that it was indeed 1.3 kilos. I think the nice lady charged me for .3 kilos, and ignored the other 1 kilo. The filled bag should probably have cost me about €12.

So, do I go back again and set things right, or do I sit back, knowing that I tried to correct her, and count myself lucky? I have never been untruthful about such things, and therefore have a natural instinct to do the former. I'm uncertain.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Open Road.

Look what I discovered yesterday, just a few hundred metres from our house!

I can't tell you how I felt when I spotted it. My dream was being acted-out by some lucky devil who had taken matters into his own hands, and just got on with it.

A wagon like this has everything one needs. A bed, a table, and a small stove. And just like with my friends who came to stay all those years ago, this wagon had two hens, a dog, and an old nag.

Keeping things to 'essentials' only, is essential in a Gypsy Caravan. A saw, a washing line, a bottle opener, and a good supply of buckets is important, but other than that; not much else.

I've mentioned previously my thoughts on seeing a wisp of blue smoke coming from a tiny cottage chimney, you can just imagine my thoughts on seeing this. 


Monday, 26 January 2015

Home Cured Bacon (Pancetta).

Making our own bacon is child's play; anyone can do it, anywhere. This simple process ensures that no nasty chemicals make their way into our daily rashers; nor that any water has been introduced to bump-up the weight.

The above piece of Belly Pork is from the thin end; the end without the bones. It probably weighs about 3 kilos; I'm not sure exactly because I bought a whole 7+ kilo Pork Belly, the rest of which is in the freezer. After processing it will probably end-up weighing less than 2.5 Kilos.

How?.... In a bowl mix 2 parts coarse sea salt to one part brown sugar, maybe with some crushed pepper and a pinch of dried herbs. Place a 1cm sprinkling on the bottom of a plastic container, place the Belly on top, then rub on another layer all over. A kilo of the mix should be more than enough.

Leave overnight, then pour off any liquid that has seeped-out from the meat. Rub on any remaining cure mix, then repeat once more over the following 4 or 5 days. After the 5th day, wash off the salt and dry thoroughly with kitchen paper. When perfectly dry I usually cover the whole thing with crushed peppercorns.

Now pierce a corner of the Belly's skin, thread with string, and hang in a cool airy place; leave suspended for a minimum of 2 weeks, after which you could COLD smoke for 24 hours (unfortunately I don't have a cold smoker).

It's probably best to wrap the meat in loose fitting muslin in case of flies. When checking your bacon, you will also notice that it slowly becomes considerably firmer.

That's all there is to it. Slice thinly, and you have your very own streaky bacon/pancetta for breakfast.

N.B. Here in France fresh Belly Pork costs about €2.50 a kilo; cured Bacon costs about €10. 

It should be noted that this dry cure method can produce a particularly hard rind, which is probably best either cut away from the bacon before slicing, or totally removed in one piece; not easy, but worthwhile.

Getting the 'saltiness' correct is a matter of practice.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Familiar faces. A Sunday Special.

Many (most) actors/actresses have very familiar 'faces', but other than that we often know very little about them.

Esma (often wrongly called Esme) Cannon is a good example.


Originally from Australia, Ms Cannon is mostly known for her comedic acting; especially in the 'Carry on' films, where she usually played the part of a confused diminutive spinster.

She was what one might call a jobbing actress; not at all a 'lovie'. In fact, it was her dislike of the limelight that prevented news of her death (back in 1972) being widespread, even those who had been closest to her weren't informed.

Not much is known of Esma, so I'm really posting this short piece for her name and face to be seen once again.

She was one of those little treasures of English cinema. Did you know her name?

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Of things to come.


I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but, when my time comes, I shan't be sad to leave this crazy world behind.

What an awful bloody mess our so-called 'leaders' have created; not only those in The West, but more so in The Middle East, where young men are executed for keeping pigeons, homosexuals thrown from rooftops, and women beheaded in the streets.

I suppose the worst case scenario, and probably the most likely, is another World (Holy) War, with eager combatants already liberally spread worldwide, waiting for the flag to drop. For someone who is an eternal optimist, I find it very disturbing that I should be witnessing this sad state of affairs, about which we can do absolutely nothing.

Make no mistake; what is happening worldwide will soon affect ALL of us, whilst those who triggered the crisis sit back in bullet-proof luxury (yes, them).

Sorry to be such a pessimist, but someone has to tell it like it is!

I shall now find a nice quiet darkened room, and SCREAM until I cry.

Friday, 23 January 2015

The Elitism of Mr Bryant?


Ignorant Labour MP Chris Bryant has recently been denouncing 'The Arts' as being elitist. He seems to think that you can only advance in either Theatre, Music, or Painting, if you have been to Eton and Oxford. What bloody TOSH.

Frankly I couldn't give a f*ck what school or university an actor or painter attended, even if I do prefer them to be able to speak clearly, and possess a reasonable standard of education. Personally, I would never watch EastEnders or Coronation Street simply because the extreme dumbing down makes me feel ill; apart from which the quality of both the storylines, and the acting, is atrocious.

I quite expect that David Hockney and Damien Hurst are amongst Britain's wealthiest artists. I may be wrong, but I don't think either of them are Old Etonians, nor have they ever set foot inside an Oxford college (other than to give lectures maybe).

What I think Bryant should be looking at is the very obvious, and disgraceful, class barrier in the UK's HIGHEST PAID PROFESSION; FOOTBALL.

Professional Footballers are paid ridiculous amounts of money (far more than those bankers who Bryant loves to hate), but I have yet to find an Old Etonian or Oxford graduate amongst them.

Are the privately educated excluded from Soccer? Is there an unwritten rule than no Football club should ever employ anyone with an Oxford degree? Is being able to conjugate L┼źdere correctly, a No-No in 'the beautiful game'?

I think we should be told (maybe by Mr Bryant).

N.B. Before Rachel takes me to task; I am perfectly aware that the Wanderers (Forest Football Club, above) won the FA cup in 1871 and 72, the Old Etonians won in 1878 and 81, and the Old Carthusians won in 1880. But all that was about 140 years ago when Football was still 'a gentleman's game played by gentlemen'. Nowadays it seems as if 'gentlemen' are routinely banned. Maybe that's why they've all migrated towards 'The Arts' instead.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Not a-bloody-gain.

I'm thinking of having a tattoo. It'll be in big letters on my forehead, and it'll say 'DON'T SELL THIS MAN ANYTHING THAT NEEDS TO BE HOME-ASSEMBLED'.

Lady Magnon has this crazy idea that she can beat me at Ping Pong (table tennis), so to prove the point she's bought a new table and is taunting me with puerile jests.

Her first ploy, however, was to make me angry, and what better way than by buying a bloody table that comes in bloody BITS. She knows what affect this has on my otherwise placid nature, and sees this as part of her pre-victory plans.

Much sweat has been shed, expletives have been bandied, and bits put-on upside down. What should have taken ten minutes has taken a whole bloody day (when doesn't it?), and I'm in a pretty foul mood.

I shall now wait until I'm feeling a bit more relaxed before giving her a damn good bloody Ping Pong thrashing.

N.B. And don't even ask about the delivery of the wretched 100 kg (yes, 100 kg)  'package'. That's another whole bloody story which raised my blood pressure beyond previously known heights. .

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