Friday, 31 December 2010
If you are unaware of the Charleston dynasties; Virginia is Quentin Bell's daughter; and Quentin was the son of Clive and Vanessa. Sadly QB died the year before the book was published; hence Virginia's kind dedication.
However, it's rare for both of them to join me, and all the more pleasant. We keep saying that we should have another dog of our own, but with such canine buddies around there's hardly much point.
Come on boys... Fetch!
Thursday, 30 December 2010
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
Tuesday, 28 December 2010
Monday, 27 December 2010
I'm off to Toulouse today to pick-up Lady Magnon at the airport.
I just hope there'll be enough room in The Compact Royce to accomodate all her 2-day-late prezzies (probably mostly for Freddie)!!
Now, where did I tie-up that fatted calf?
Friday, 24 December 2010
Cro (in France) and Lady Magnon (snow-bound in Blighty) would like to wish all our blogger friends good health, reasonable wealth, a well roasted turkey, not too much plum pudding, and, most importantly, all for yourself that you wished for others whilst you were feeling generous.
We hope that all your projects prove fruitful, your daily work satisfying, your chores not too arduous, and your dreams achievable. May 2011 prove to be the very best year of your life.
Nos meilleurs voeux pour Noel, et la nouvelle année.
Thursday, 23 December 2010
WARNING: If you have a weak bladder; don't watch this video! Probably the funniest ever Christmas film (just wait till the present opening in Part 3). It comes in 4 separate parts, so do try to watch ALL of them in order; it takes about 30 mins in all.
If you have the time, you won't regret it! Enjoy.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Can you please bring me a panacea for my bad knee, my aching back, my diabetes, and insomnia.
I would also welcome a powerful potion that stops the bloody weeds from growing up at Haddock's, keeps the deer off, and deals with all those troublesome insects.
In Lady Magnon's absence, may I request a large bag of self-clearing-up flour (her present variety seems to get everywhere when she does any baking!). She'd also like replacement temperature gauges for both of our ovens (very important against 'cordon noir').
If you have something that makes teeth perfect again, replaces lost hair, and would make me feel like a spring-chicken (without having to put it up my nose), it would be highly appreciated.
I promise to leave a bottle of Scotch and 2 mince pies for you on the big day.
Yours in anticipation. Your faithful devotee, Cro. xx
Tuesday, 21 December 2010
Monday, 20 December 2010
I do hope that, wherever you live in the world, your national TV has shown the wonderful comedy series 'The Vicar of Dibley'.
The above is just a tiny fragment, but gives a good idea of what to expect. I'm just sorry it doesn't show the bridesmaids who, if I remember, were all dressed as Tellytubbies.
Sunday, 19 December 2010
Re-booking is never easy in these circumstances, and the next available flight is on Boxing day.
So, looks like another Christmas all by myself. I shall watch 'It's a Wonderful life', and 'Love Actually' on TV, maybe roast myself a small duck, and settle down to pull a lone cracker.
Occasionally life deals a bummer. I suppose it's my turn.
Saturday, 18 December 2010
I'm currently feeding some friends' cat whilst they're away galavanting in Blighty. And, this morning on my way home (as I 'trudged' through half a centimeter of snow), I was reminded of two of my absolute favourite childhood books. I wonder WHY?
Above is Pookie; the rabbit with wings. I used to cry every time my mother read this one to me, and no doubt I still would if I had to read it to my grandchildren.
I still have the books, but I'm afraid they're both in a pretty poor state from far too much use. I'm sure that much of my enjoyment of them was on account of their beautiful illustrations.
Friday, 17 December 2010
Yes, this really is my 400th posting, so please allow me to indulge...
There are many different versions of the old adage '99% observation; 1% application'. But for the moment, 1% application suits me well; especially in this wretched weather.
In both of these landscapes I've spent days, if not weeks (because I know the locations so well), studying what constitutes their fascination for me. I have made no attempt at 'prettiness', 'design', or 'skill'. I have simply recorded what I think makes the two locations special.
Sometimes I wonder!..... Doubts, and more doubts.
Thursday, 16 December 2010
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
I recently saw a 'trailer' for a series of programmes about someone called Kerry Katona. KK is an ex lap-dancer, glamour model, so-called singer, reality TV celeb', surgically re-modelled, coke snorting, wa-hey the lads, brainless, author (ghostwritten), Bimbo. (you're too kind, Cro)
Who the hell cares about this woman? Who the hell watches these programmes? Surely there must be a check-out girl, short-hand typist, or even a Madame Pipi (I'll explain that later) with more to say than KK. How much further dumbed-down, can gutter TV go? So folks, this is her; a STAR if ever I saw one!
Give her the money!........ NURSE!!!
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
Monday, 13 December 2010
When we first arrived in France in September 1972, Madame D took us in hand. She showed Lady M how to make Ham, Sausage, Paté etc, how to kill and prepare chickens, and how to do just about everything that any local girl would have mastered by the age of 12.
Madame D was a treasure; it was pure fortune that I bought the adjacent farmhouse, and we became neighbours. She was the archetypal French farmer's wife; a true 'paysanne'. What she didn't know about growing, preserving, and cooking, wasn't worth knowing. She always had a smile on her face, and nothing was ever too much for her. Even up to quite recently I used to phone her about the finer details of certain local recipes (which she never knew, as she did everything by sight and memory).
The D family, and that of my other neighbour José, have, over the years, become the closest thing we have to 'family' in France. Had they not not been there, we might well have returned to the UK.
So, farewell Madame D (may I at last call you Yvonne?). We were privileged to have known you for nearly 40 years; we loved you dearly, and shall genuinely miss you.
Saturday, 11 December 2010
Dexter Dalwood didn't win this year's Turner Prize, so I'll be eating my rice-paper hat. It was won by a Scottish woman who sings badly under bridges. I shall make no further comment.
Think Matisse, Kitaj, Hockers, and Michael Andrews. Dalwood is a real thinking painter's painter. The above is entitled 'The Liberace Museum'. Delicious painting.
Do look up his work. It deserves a viewing; even if he didn't get the dosh.
Friday, 10 December 2010
I purposefully haven't mentioned my 'tower' for a while, because we end the year with all the actual 'building' work completed.
It now remains to render the outside, plaster the inside, lay the floor tiles, and get the door made and fixed.
I've changed the coping on top of the inter-connecting gated wall; the previous stones looked too modern and 'industrial'. It's still not perfect, but it's better.
Everything is as I planned. It's been bloody hard work, and I'm really looking forward to finishing it off as soon as some decent dry spring weather allows.
My greatest memory of the build will be of Lady Magnon. She abandoned her fears, shinned up and down ladders, and said nothing when my temper became the better of me. She worked unbelievably hard, and encouraged me when my confidence occasionally flagged; I thank her profusely.
Isn't that roof sexy! Looking back on it, I can hardly believe that it was entirely done by a couple of ageing foolhardy rank amateurs!!! Proof (if needed) that building requires no more than reasonable logic, and a long piece of weighted string.
I shall not bore you with any more 'tower' stories for a while. Its next appearance on this page will be when FINISHED!
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Lady M adds Chopped Prunes and Armagnac to her mélange; giving it a slightly local flavour.
If you live somewhere where Mince Pies are NOT a Christmas tradition, then take note. Christmas just ain't Christmas without Mince Pies and Hot Punch (even on the beach in 35 degrees of sunshine). And don't forget, whilst he's delivering presents, they're Santa's favourite snack.
p.s. When the children were young Lady M used to make large slabs of Christmas mince pie that were later cut up into small squares. These were put to cool on our large kitchen table. As soon as her back was turned we'd eat the lot... she'd be furious... What larks!
Wednesday, 8 December 2010
I post the picture above because Lady Magnon and I were married in Gibraltar just after John and Yoko. The registrar said Yoko 'looked like a little rat'; but I probably shouldn't repeat that.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
I suppose this has to be the greatest Christmas song of all time, so I'm posting it before someone else does. There's not a lot to say about Shane MacGowan, and probably far too much to say about the very sad (and suspicious) demise of poor Kirsty MacColl. She had the most beautiful voice.
Monday, 6 December 2010
Sunday, 5 December 2010
One such neighbour, Jean-Claude, brought my wood this afternoon. We already have about 12 cu meters of Chestnut in storage, but about 3 days ago I burned my very last piece of Oak.
He brought 4 cu metres of 1 metre split logs which, together, we stacked by the side of the track. My picture doesn't really do it justice, but the sight of freshly stacked dry Oak is a wonderful thing.
N.B. In 2008 the same amount of Oak cost me €170. In 2009 it cost me €170. Guess how much it cost this year; yup, €170. That's the type of inflation I really like!
Saturday, 4 December 2010
Friday, 3 December 2010
Being 'country folk', we do as 'country folk' do. We make jams, chutneys, and pickles. We preserve as much as possible from Haddock's for the winter months.
Like most people who save used glass jars, I always clean them thoroughly and remove any labels, before putting them away untidily in a cluttered corner of the studio.
However, some jars have their labels SO FIRMLY GLUED, that to remove them requires something akin to nitric acid or a serious explosive. So may I make a worldwide plea to all food companies who sell their wares in glass jars; "Would you please use a simple flour paste with which to attach your labels". It would probably save me (and no doubt loads of others) several hours of wasted time each year!
Thursday, 2 December 2010
On my very last day at my first full-time Art College (before moving on to my degree course), I came across the college caretaker who was just about to set fire to a bonfire made-up of old and broken studio easels.
Being something of a spendthrift, I asked, before he lit his match, if I could take some.
I looked at the ready pile, worked out in an instant which bits were missing from which easels, and grabbed about 4 incomplete wrecks that I stuffed into my car. From what I saved, I managed to construct two new complete easels.
The caretaker was obviously having an end-of-year clear out, and, at the same time, I noticed a trolly filled with the then un-fashionable plaster casts that were used in times past in place of life models. Again I asked if I could take a few, and managed to save a 'Roman' torso, the above 'antique' head, a Corinthian capital, and some other bits and pieces. Unfortunately the head is the only remaining piece, the other bits having been used for outdoor decor, and since melted away.
Some people's junk is always another's treasure.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
Seagulls; doncha luv em?
There seems to be an international anti-seagull movement afoot at the moment; perhaps they've simply over-bred. Personally I rather like them, and now that I live in a gull-less area, I kinda miss their raucous juvenile bad-tempered behaviour.
I'm off to Toulouse (it's nearly 5 am). Lady Magnon is going Crimbo shopping in the UK for 2 weeks, and her flight is ridiculously early. Luckily this morning the compact Royce is snow free. Phew!