Monday, 31 January 2011
Sunday, 30 January 2011
The peacocks are, at present, to be found (heavily guarded) in a hotel lobby in Macau, Hong Kong.
My son-in-law has made pieces for members of the royal family, and is well known amongst certain of London's most exclusive jewellers, who are commissioned to make such things.
So, if you're looking for a coronation crown, a diamond covered ipod, or just a special gold mascot for the front of your Royce... I'll put you in touch!
Saturday, 29 January 2011
I shall tread very very carefully from now on, and would ask you to stop all children (and adults)from partaking in any form of hopscotch, skipping, high jumping, or anything else that involves landing with a thump!.... Better safe than in Hell.
Friday, 28 January 2011
5.30 am. Wake-up, get-up, dress, stagger downstairs, listen to BBC radio 4 news.
5.31 am. Make coffee, burn toast, boot-up laptop, yawn just once, stretch.
5.45 am. Check Emails, reply to urgent ones only, read favourite blogs, post something fascinating, feed cat, let dog out.
9.00 am. No sign of Lady Magnon, make second cup of coffee, return to studio, wander aimlessly, search for lost dog.
10.00 am. Lady M spotted poking fire.
10.30 am. Ensure that we have the necessary for lunch, walk however many dogs turn-up for dog-walking, bring in logs, stoke fires.
12.00 am. Serve gourmet lunch, make amusing comment about Lady M's night-attire, receive thunderous looks.
12.30 pm. Snooze for 10 mins whilst not-watching some soporific TV show (Judge Judy a favourite).
1.00 pm. Search house for Lady M's lost reading glasses & handbag, fill chainsaw with oil and petrol, saw mountains of logs, separate fighting dogs.
5.00 pm. Prepare dinner, select most appropriate wines, help look for Lady M's lost hairbrush and other essentials, reply to non-urgent Emails, walk various dogs (some previously unseen), first glass of wine.
7.00 pm. Serve gourmet dinner, avoid Eastenders, write various lists, doodle, make sure Lady M has comfy pillows, snooze until bedtime (11.00 pm).
5.30 am. Wake-up...........
p.s. If you should see me sporting 2 black eyes, it's because I walked into a door; honest!
Thursday, 27 January 2011
There are probably two whole months to endure before I can seriously think of getting stuck into work at Haddock's. Two whole months just to walk the dog, do a spot of painting, practice my bread making skills, etc. Two whole months before we see any vestige of new growth.
Not that I'm idle. I have plenty to do. My days are filled with chain-sawing duties, fire-lighting duties, and pretending to be Jamie Oliver. But I can't wait to start sowing some seeds, rotovate where the onions and carrots will go, and get some proper dirt under my fingernails. I always like to over-fill my days and have TOO MUCH to do.
Spring will also mean finishing off the work on the 'tower', something I've been itching to do for months. Then I shall probably start work on the 'sechoir'; the silvery-grey wooden building you can see upper left above. I'm not going to do too much; just make it more attractive, more business-like, and more fitted to our particular needs.
I also have plans to return to chicken-keeping; I want the black ones with bright red combs, if I can find any.
Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Oh the joy to be home again; he would have pissed all over me as well if his aim had been better. Little Monkey!
Tuesday, 25 January 2011
I'm beginning to think it's all down to impatience. Next time it'll be given more time to rise, and maybe more kneading time too. More anon.
Monday, 24 January 2011
I'm really not sure if the house is saveable, but it has some very good features (underneath all the ivy). Most of the openings are still in place and are all of cut stone, and there are also some rather nice stone pigeon holes. Above, one can see both the original windows and shutters still in place.
Sunday, 23 January 2011
Canine friendships are quite touching, so I like to see them get together as much as possible.
I'm trying to get them used to each other's close proximity, and it seems to be working. The warmth of the stove unites them, and they just stare at each other in a slightly cautious manner. No flying fur as yet.
Saturday, 22 January 2011
Bread is a thorny subject. But let me tell you that what you're looking at above is one of the best loaves of bread in the entire world!
It comes from a tiny bakery, in a tiny nearby village, that contains an oven which, I'm told, is an absolute bugger to control. Bakers there have come and gone, and loaves have been burned by the cart load. However, the present baker has managed to master the beast, and he now produces a bread that is the farinaceous equivalent of a perfect rib-eye steak.
Good natural organic flour, proper yeast, and a man who respects his craft, makes this bread pure nectar. (I should add that his wife is a 'Phwaaar'; another reason to buy his bread)
Bring ye not gold frankincense and myrrh; one of these loaves with some Roquefort and a wedge of Rillettes d'Oie would top just about anything.
Friday, 21 January 2011
I'm still pretending to tidy up the studio, and just found this picture.
This little Swedish number is Lady Magnon. The photo dates back to a day in September 1972; the day on which we stuffed two small children, my box of colours, and a mountain of chattles, into a hired Ford Transit van, and set off for a new life in France.
I must have been 25 at the time, and Lady M just 12 (if her present age is to be believed).
I don't remember being at all anxious about moving to a new country, and, by the look on Lady M's face; nor did she.
'Throw caution to the winds', I used to tell myself; and we did. I've lived by that maxim ever since!
Thursday, 20 January 2011
Claude's also been taking advantage of the quiet season to cut wood. This lot above will probably be responsible for roasting our chickens, slow cooking our winter stews, and baking Lady M's cakes in about 2014/15. We already have about 20 cubic metres of wood in stock, but one can NEVER have enough.
Wednesday, 19 January 2011
Capt Willett attended my old school in England; albeit a few years before my time.
I was recently reading an inventory of his possessions, at the time of his death (don't ask why). Everything was noted meticulously, down to the tiniest detail; socks, shoes, underwear, et al.
Amongst the items listed was '58 oz of outlandish money'.
It doesn't take much to know what was meant by the use of this word 'outlandish', but being a failed student of etymology, I had to look it up..... Yes, it simply means (or did mean) OF FOREIGN ORIGIN.
Tuesday, 18 January 2011
It's almost 8.30 am, and this is the view from my studio window, as I look out directly in front of me towards the East. Our village church, of which you can just see the spire, is exactly 2 kms away.
There is total silence and total peace, and, if I didn't read papers or listen to the news on TV, I could almost imagine that it was the same throughout the world. Sadly I know differently.
Monday, 17 January 2011
Sunday, 16 January 2011
Saturday, 15 January 2011
The whole complex is constructed in amongst a pile of very large old tree stumps, and, I imagine, involves a formidable system of underground rooms and passage-ways. The piles of excavated earth are huge.
Recently some hunters arrived and put down dogs. I believe they shot a couple as they tried to flee; then just went away. If this was done in the name of 'sport', then it wasn't very sportsmanlike. If it was done to rid the area of Badgers; then it was inefficient, incompetent, and stupid.
Why not just leave them alone. I'm sure we can live side by side without reverting to pointless slaughter.
Friday, 14 January 2011
Thursday, 13 January 2011
walk out of England's jail divine. (with huge apologies to Bill Blake)
People who break society's rules are usually locked away. But in England this often means spending a short while in an 'open' prison, where everyday luxuries (as well as one's freedom) are part of the 'punishment'.
One such prison is Hollesley Bay (a.k.a. Holiday Bay) in Suffolk. In recent times about 250 inmates decided they didn't like it there; and walked off. I believe that quite a number are still at large.
So what do the authorities do in order to round up these dangerous law-breaking criminals? Well they refuse to name them, or to issue their photos, because this would be against their 'right to privacy' under England's wonderful Freedom of Information Act.
So, if you're a criminal (or intending to become one), come to England's green and pleasant lands. Life here's great; even if you get caught!
Tuesday, 11 January 2011
I love this room; it has three main purposes. It's my studio, my office, and my DIY workshop. Unfortunately it's also Lady Magnon's junk room, but that's another story.
Ahead I look out onto the winter-covered pool, and to my right is our roofed terrace with unadulterated landscape beyond. There are deer in the fields, buzzards in the sky, and calm all around. It's also raining like crazy.
At this time of year I heat the room with a small oil filled stove. Just before 6ish each morning I turn-on the laptop, light the stove, and before my first coffee of the day is made (blue mug bottom right), the room is warm, the machine booted, and I'm ready for action.
Then, of course, comes the tricky bit! What inconsequential nonsense will attract my meanderings today?
Monday, 10 January 2011
I am very pleased to announce (banging my own very small drum) that since posting the above, back on 16th Dec, the painting is now in the possession of the Serge Philippe Collection.
M Serge Philippe and his wife have, over the past few years, acquired some wonderful paintings (including two of mine); Hoorah!
I have 3 pocket knives in daily use.
The 'Laguiole' (bottom) has a horn handle, and stainless blade. This is an indoor, all-purpose knife, that is used for general cutting, nail cleaning, and assorted DIY tasks. I'd rather bite the neck off a wine bottle than use that corkscrew.
The No 8 'Opinel' (center) has a beechwood handle and steel blade. This is in my pocket at all times. It's the knife I use outdoors; mostly when working up at Haddock's. It has no fears.
My latest acquisition, however, is the very new looking No 9 'Opinel' (top) which again has a plain beechwood handle, but this time with a stainless steel blade. This is the knife with which I now EAT.
It's possibly a dying tradition, but here in France, when dining out with country folk, one was always offered a plate, fork, and spoon, but rarely a knife; one supplied one's own. It's a tradition I've always rather liked, and still adhere to.
I'd never imagined myself buying a stainless steel bladed 'Opinel' (heaven forbid), or even a size 9. But, having thrown all caution to the winds, it's proved to be an excellent decision.
Sunday, 9 January 2011
I was going to buy a faithful replica made by an English company named Teal Cars, but I think they've folded. Maybe I'll still find one somewhere.