I recently caught the final five minutes of a radio programme about hereditary genetics, or some-such, where a very clever Oxford professor chappie explained that if one was born in England one was at least a 28th cousin to The Queen.
I've always suspected that these veins of mine looked rather blueish, and, frankly, to have this confirmation comes as no particular surprise.
However, I'm determined to remain my usual humble self.... I don't want people to bow or curtsy, and I certainly don't want to have to move to Buck House.
On the other hand, I will be making myself available for ribbon cutting, regimental inspections, gaffs about foreigners, and the occasional banquet. Otherwise I'm too busy; they'll simply have to find someone else (Cousins Liz or Chuck maybe?).
I need to go back about 35 years to ask my then neighbours Janine and Odette NOT to sell their house.
They were such cultured people. They were a Zen Buddhist lesbian couple who really cared about their environment. There was never a blade of grass out of place, never a sweet wrapper thrown carelessly on the ground, and never did they cause umbrage amongst their neighbours.
There were no old white vans parked all over the bloody place, no shutters falling off their hinges, and no piles of builder's rubble and paraphernalia everywhere, causing an eyesore. Nor were there any neglected animals.
OK, their dog did savage some of our hens, but I'd offer it a hundred more if they'd only come back.
Sadly Janine and Odette are now both in their Zen Buddhist heavens; life was very good with them around.
In my never-ending quest for labour-saving devices, I have finally given-in to the concept of robotic pool cleaning.
I wanted one that simply connects to the existing vacuum system, then would do all the work by itself. Known as 'Hydraulic Robots', they just plug in and start working as soon as the pool's circulatory pumping system starts up.
For pool aficionados only; it's a reasonably modest Zodiac T3.
It won't stay in the pool for too long, with 4 grandsons under the age of 9 turning up any day (2 arrive today), it'll be stored out of the reach of small inquiring hands. It also impinges slightly on the swimming area.
Anyway, it seems to do the job OK.
Oh, and did I not mention? The bloody thing came IN BITS, and had to be assembled... AAAAAGH.
When we first arrived to live in France, all those 42 years ago, there was an excellent family hotel and restaurant in our nearest small town. It was run by Leonard Rossiter look-alike M Fays (Fye-eeese) and his family. It was the hub of the town and was always busy; we dined there regularly.
In time M Fays and his wife retired, and the business was passed on to their daughter and son-in-law, whose prowess in 'hotel keeping' was definitely not that of Papa and Mama. The place soon closed, and was sold off to a man who 'allegedly' had a grudge against the town's authorities; he locked the doors and simply walked away, leaving the town with no hotel or restaurant.
In recent years the small bar and restaurant have re-opened, but the hotel stays closed.
For various reasons we had not been back to test its wares, but last night an opportunity arose, and we jumped at it.
The fare was simple, the view across the Place was much as it's been since 1270, and the food was homely and good.
We both chose the Entrecote with chips and salad, and drank a really delicious bottle of Pécharmant. The steak itself was one of the best I've had for years.
So, if you're in the area, it's the Hotel du Commerce in Villefranche-du-Périgord. Nice to be able to recommend somewhere; it's become something of a rarity.
I should add that other than us, the place was awash with young Dutch families with small children (plus a handful of babies); all were perfectly well-behaved (the children, I mean).
I'm beginning to wonder if I haven't caught some virulent form of 'masochism'. Putting these ridiculous things together is pure torture, but I don't seem able to stop myself.
Have you ever seen a more pathetic set of instructions!
My old BBQ is in the throws of self-destruction, so it needed to be replaced. I'm not keen on gas BBQ's, nor am I keen on anything with knobs on the front. I like charcoal, flames, and smoke, and this simple stainless steel job looked just the ticket.
It has a good sized cooking area, and I'm sure both my son and son-in-law will have a lot of fun with it when the 'Magnon Summer Meat Fest' kicks off next week.
There were only a few screws left over, but I'll find a use for them.
When things happen that often that they can no longer be classified as 'coincidence', I begin to worry.
I can't find my sunglasses, I go to rooms but when I get there have no idea why, I go shopping and leave my wallet at home.
Yesterday morning I left for my early morning dog walk holding a tube of Harissa (that I'd intended to put in the fridge). What WAS I thinking (or not thinking)?
"Lady M, what's that bloke's name from the Sunday morning TV show; Martin something, Martin Andrew, something like that, Marty Andrews maybe?".
"He's called Andrew Marr!"
"Yup, that's what I just said".
Yesterday morning when we returned from shopping Lady M couldn't find a pack of 3 soft-foam balls that she'd just bought; she must have left them at the checkout. Last week I did the same with some cheese.
I picked our first few beans a few days ago; they were eaten the way I prefer, tepid with Mayo. They are a bit later than usual this year... not such a bad thing, as our summer guests arrive in just 2 weeks.
Also on the menu are courgettes, chard, onions, peppers, calabrese, and a variety of salads.
We also have slowly swelling green tomatoes, but I think it'll be at least a week before they ripen.
It's all so hot and dry; we really could use some rain. There's nothing on the horizon, so, as a last resort, I shall probably have to install the sprinkler.
It's been a week since Monty was stung by something, and he's almost over it.
We'd been discussing the odd behaviour of an acquaintance of ours, when Lady Magnon stated "I think I prefer most dogs to some of the bizarre human riff-raff around" (or something to that effect).
Most dogs are basically pleasant creatures; those that aren't have usually been taught their nastiness by idiot humans.
Take our two, for example. They're friendly (Bok overly so), they're loving (Bok overly so), and they're a pleasure to have around, and be around. They never leave us wishing we could give them a good slapping (as do some humans).
They are not moody, foul mouthed, or insolent. They demonstrate their gratitude on a permanent basis, they acknowledge our 'pack-leadership', and they seem to be happy to be a part of our little world.
Of course they do have total freedom in wonderful countryside, they have plenty of good quality food, and they have dry comfortable bedding. They also have each other which, if they could speak, would probably be top of their 'life's-best-bits' list.
I have to agree with Lady M; dogs never exasperate me the way that certain humans do!
With both The Tour de France and Wimbledon fresh in our minds, we quite naturally think of that most desired of Summer delights; the Strawberry.
These above are a variety called 'Gariguette', and they are probably the most Strawberry-ish tasting Strawberries that I've ever encountered. They are long, slightly flattish, and have an upward-pointing protruding green crown where they have been separated from the plant. Their flavour is not unlike a perfectly ripe wild strawberry, and their aroma is intoxicating.
How fortunate that the 'Gariguette' comes from France's South West corner; which is just where I happen to live! If you have a local grower, they're well worth buying.
Whilst they're in season, Lady Magnon takes advantage of the glut (cheaper fruits) to make her Strawberry Jam for our summer visitors. She's already made several jars of Apricot Jam for their morning croissants.
I forgot to check what variety she uses for the jam, but it's certainly NOT 'Gariguette'.
I recently claimed that we would no longer be buying veg's until about October/November; I lied.
When I saw these 'perfectly ripe' avocados, a couple of weeks ago, I just simply had to have them. I eat very few each year, but when I do they have to be perfect. I've chucked more unripe avocados on the compost than I care to remember.
They have, of course, already been eaten, and, as promised on the packet, they were perfect.
BUT, I notice that they came all the bloody way from PERU.
'Food miles' has been an issue of mine for a very long time, and I normally refuse to buy anything that has travelled for more than just a few miles. But I console myself by saying that (just like caviar, or bananas, or even peanuts) certain favourite foods just ain't grown next door, and a slight waver from my principals on occasions is bound to happen.
So, I must thank the Peruvian farmers for their perfectly ripe Haas avocados; they were truly delicious!
Poor old Monty; he seems to amble from one disaster to another!
Now he's gone and got himself STUNG, TWICE, by some bee or wasp or horsefly. And what's the only remedy in a dog's first-aid kit? That's it... to scratch until it's all scratched away.
He was very agitated early yesterday morning; his back looked very sore, and was covered in blood, so it was off to the Vet with him, where they confirmed our diagnosis. He's now been shaved, had a jab, and has some antibiotics and ointment to take for the next few days.
Poor old boy, it's been so hot that he's been hiding away indoors. Fried liver will be back on the menu to help the healing process. There's only one thing that really helps take him mind off his ailments, and that's FOOD.
The difference between an optimist and a pessimist, is that the optimist enjoys himself whilst waiting for the inevitable! I AM that optimist!
This is a daily, optimistic, 'photos and comments' blog. I make no judgements (only occasionally), just notes. If you wish to comment in any way at all, please feel free. Everything and everyone (except the obdurate and dictatorial) is very welcome.
I was born just south of London, but for the past 46 years I've lived in S W France. I am a painter by profession, and writer by desire. Lady Magnon and I live in an ancient cottage, in a tiny village, in perfectly tranquil countryside. We have a vegetable garden called 'Haddock's' (this may crop up from time to time), plenty of fruit trees, and a view that takes the breath away. I try to treat our planet with respect, and encourage others to do likewise (without preaching).
Contentment is a glass of red, a plate of charcuterie, and a slice of good country bread. Perfect!