Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Welcomed Rain (yesterday).


After what seems like months of drought, we've now had a morning of good solid rain.

What's more, if it continues like this for a while we'll probably have mushrooms (Cèpes) in about 10 days time.

For two years running our nearby annual Chestnut and Cèpe Fair (16th-17th Oct) has been Cèpe-less, so our fingers are crossed. Nothing is certain with mushrooms.

The poor dogs are not happy. It's bloody POURING.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

I need 'Smell-o-Blog'.

We are totally addicted to this bread. Just smelling it sends us into raptures.

Every Sunday morning we drive the 10 Kms to Frayssinet le Gelat to buy two of their fabulous 800 gm Sourdough Loaves (pain au levain); one to eat at once, the other (when cool enough) to go in the freezer. Its flavour is a bit like a cross between good ordinary bread and English crumpets; delicious enough to eat by itself.

Have you ever wondered why a Boulangerie is called a Boulangerie? 

Up until the 17th Century all bread in France was baked as 'round' loaves; The Boule in Boulangerie simply suggests a round (ball) loaf.

Nowadays every shape imaginable can be bought. Is that an improvement; probably not! 

I'm pleased to say that my baker restricts himself to about 6 different loaves; some very big. I'll buy one one day to show you.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Bunny's Passport.

Right.... Bunny was born in Australia, to an English father (my son) and a Swedish/Russian mother (my daughter in law).

As for his grandparents, I am as English as you can get (even though I've lived three quarters of my life in France), and Lady Magnon is English/Swedish; leaning towards English. On his other side they are Swedish and Russian (as stated above).

Bunny's great grandparents (on our side) were mostly English. Lady Magnon's father even being a senior English diplomat (with an MBE, no less), although her mother was 100% Swedish.

Bunny's father (my son) was born in France, but has always held an English passport.

As he was born in Oz, Bunny has Australian citizenship, but with the family's proposed move back to Europe they quite naturally wanted an English passport for him, but it has been turned down.

Being slightly perplexed, they phoned Sweden to ask if he could have a Swedish passport; they said 'yes, no problem'.

Have I missed something here, or are those nice people at the UK passport office playing silly buggers? OK, he was born in Australia, but in my eyes Bunny's as English as James bloody Bond!

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The War Explained. A Sunday Special.


So, there you are. I'll be asking questions later!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

It's that time of year again; damn it!

It's not fire season quite yet, but there's now't wrong with being prepared.

It was a fine sunny day yesterday, so as Lady Magnon clipped the Leylandii hedge, I set to with my trusty Husqvarna and axe, and made a start on the huge pile of Chestnut tree trunks I bought last year. 

I think I need a humidity meter for my wood. I've seen one advertised for about €50; I wonder if it's worth it? Do you use one?

Wood simply doesn't burn properly if it contains over 20% humidity; ideally it should contain between 15 and 20% moisture to burn correctly. The above wood has been drying for about 3 or 4 years, but the interior still felt quite dampish.

I think a meter could come in handy. Any advice?

Friday, 26 September 2014



It has been claimed, disparagingly, that Vermeer utilised a Camera Obscura to facilitate his work. This may well have been the case but it doesn't alter the quality of the paintings themselves. Only certain 'purists' seem to be upset by such horrors.

I have known several 'easel painters' who use 'mechanical aids' in their work, whether it be photography, light boxes, slide projectors, or even a simple pantograph.

I knew one painter who couldn't draw for toffee, and this had a terribly debilitating effect on his work. He now works from photographs and a light box, and produces work that is good enough to make him a reasonable living.

Another painter I knew would take his half completed 'light boxed' paintings out to where he had taken the original photo, and have a snap taken of himself 'supposedly' painting al fresco in front of the subject matter.  I imagine he felt very guilty about his methods, and thought this would convince any skeptics of his talent (it probably didn't).

Personally I don't use any 'aids' in my work, as it's the physical act of drawing or painting 'from life' that is the most important part. To use a 'mechanical aid' would (for me personally) seem like cheating.

However, I do think that people who use such things should not be secretive or ashamed about it. If the resulting work is of good quality, I doubt if it would make that much difference anyway.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Some Fountain!

This beautiful old fountain has provided clean drinking water for the good people of my local small 'town' (village) since it was founded by Alphonse de Poitiers in 1270. 

Nowadays the water is no longer drinkable.

A while back, some bright bloody numbskull was building a new home uphill from the fountain, and managed to allow his Septic Tank soakaway to run directly into the spring that provided the water for the fountain.

Was he prosecuted?..... No of course not...... After nearly 750 years, they simply put a sign up saying 'Eau Non Potable' (non drinking water), and that was that.

Ain't life wonderful! 

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