Monday, 30 November 2015

Meagre Pickings.

Usually we have a bigger selection of winter 'greens' at Haddock's, but this year I've been a bit amiss.

However, we do have a couple of favourites which we're tucking-into on a regular basis; Calabrese (green broccoli, above) and Curly Kale (below).

There's also a bit of Swiss Chard, but not enough to see us through.

It's a good thing the cupboards are filled with bottled Tomato products, and that we have boxes filled with Butternuts and Onions; otherwise it would be a grim winter.

Our Apples are fast disappearing. 

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Bok is 5 (November 28th 2015).

Happily unaware of the fact, Bok is 5 years old today. He's been living with us for about 4½ of those years. I know nothing of his origins, and I doubt if he does either.

I've just consulted the Pedigree (dog food) age calculation page, and for his size, breed, etc, his age in human years is about 40.

Sometimes I look at him and try to imagine his muzzle being much more grey than it is now, his legs probably aching a bit, and his sprightly step reduced to a slow heavy arthritic trudge. I quite expect he'll be like that one day (as will I), and I'd like to be there to comfort him, and reassure him that it's all OK and it's just part of life's journey.

At times I wonder which of us will go first. I do hope it's Bok for various reasons. I honestly think that he'd be lost and miserable without me; this isn't a conceited observation, it's just how things are. I think I'd cope better without him, than he would without me. I'd also like to be there to see that he gets a proper send-off when his time comes. I'm sounding a bit maudlin, aren't I.

Dog and mankind is the greatest combination of different beings co-habiting. Somehow nature designed us to be together. I would be lost without my dear Bok beside me.

Happy birthday lovely boy. May we celebrate many more together.

He's sitting at my feet looking up at me as I write; very much like in the picture, which I'd taken about an hour previously.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Untimely and unhelpful words.

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There are people who sit around all day trying to formulate logical sounding maxims, in order to confuse those who can't think for themselves.

In our present times of alert I thought this one was a perfect example.

"Not all Muslims are ISIS terrorists, but all ISIS terrorists are Muslims"

You can just hear all those in the cheap seats thoroughly agreeing, and passing-on the great words of wisdom in the pub'.

Of course the saying is totally idiotic, but it contains a twisted logic that many would find appealing, in a 'no smoke without fire' kinda way.

The 'popular' printed press (red tops) is awash with people who perpetuate such myths, and I do wish they would stop. It helps no-one, and only goes to give ammunition to those foolish radicals in our midst who thrive on such things.

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Christmas No 1.

With Wills, Kellogg, and Bunny off to Oz before too long, we're having TWO Christmases this year. Last night's was Christmas No 1.

No Turkey this time; we had a veggie dinner. A few crustaceans to start with, then stuffed peppers and nut roast with roasted vegs, then mini-Christmas puds (they were actually Rhum soaked chocolate brownies cut into rounds) with thick cream and cranberries. All very nice.

As the Beaujolais Nouveau had been released just a week ago, I though it right to make that our drink of choice; plus the Champagne, of course.

Bunny had  lots of prezzies (and tried to liberate most of the baubles on the tree) and a good time was had by all.

Now we have to wait another month before our Christmas No 2. 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


I'm a tree fanatic; I adore them; especially at this time of year. When I'm feeling that I need a boost, it's in the woods that I find it.

This small parcel of woodland (above) used to be a cultivated field. Many decades ago it was abandoned, and has now been overtaken by what I think are Beeches. In early Spring I'm assured that it's home to hefty crops of Morel mushrooms; although I have yet to find any.

The combination of the carpet of Ivy and those slim tall trunks is staggering.

About 50 metres from the trees in the top picture is this beautiful Parasol Pine. I see it almost daily as it's on one of our regular walks. It's a wild, self-sown, tree, and as its wood is of little value it's been left alone to become old, and will no doubt end its days by dying and falling down. 

And this is one of the Parasol Pines that I planted a few years back. It has already started to take shape, and should grow to become a magnificent tree. Usually I plant trees that give something back in return; but in this case I wavered.

I may give it a hug this morning, as I've just noticed that it's a tad (extremely) frosty outdoors.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

No Comment.

Lady M finds this funny; I don't.

Frosty morning (yesterday).

Looking to the East.

To the South.

And to the West.

You'd almost think it was snow.... It was - 2 C.

Monday, 23 November 2015

More Barn Progress.

I haven't mentioned the barn for a while, but even in the greyness and drizzle of Autumn, work continues.

The end part of the barn (which will stay as barn) is the last bit to be re-clad.

All the old boards were taken off, insulation materials installed, and sheets of plywood screwed in place (the beige area on the left, above). 

Special sheets of waterproof but breathable membrane were attached, then the final new wooden boards. We had to use new boards as the old ones were all totally knackered. 

Even Lady Magnon got stuck-in yesterday; painting boards.

Sunday, 22 November 2015


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Why do people make such a bloody fuss about Christmas? I'm not a bah-humbug person, BUT.....

Let's face it, it's NOT Christ's birthday, although when his birthday actually was no-one seems to have a clue. Maybe he never had one. Maybe the imaginary virgin birth produced an imaginary child.

So why do we seem to go mad just because of some trumped-up date in the middle of Winter?

Personally I think that the Pagans should reclaim Saturnalia as our major celebration of Winter, and return December 25th to being a date that everyone can celebrate, regardless of race or religion.

I agree that it's nice to have a fixed day to look forward to each year. Decorations and special foods are always fun, and communal festivities bring people together.

But the crazy commercialisation of Christmas has the effect of blackmailing the poorest and most gullible of society. Those who can least afford it (percentage-wise of income) become the ones who spend the most.

Small token gifts are fine, as is a reasonably priced Turkey that will last a family for several days, but many are made to feel guilty if they don't spend a bloody fortune on Aunty Maud, Uncle Bill, and little Wayne and Chelsee.

And PLEASE, can we not start talking of nothing else until December 20th at the very earliest; it's bad enough having to see all those bloody rows of Santa-covered boxes of chocolates on sale at the supermarket.

Having said all that, we shall be celebrating Christmas next Wednesday (November 25th). We are having a Veggie Banquet before Wills, Kellogg, and Bunny head off for their winter sojourn in Surfer's Paradise, Oz.

Happy something or other.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Gardening (Parisian style).

Gardeners are hard to come by, so Parisians tend to employ a man with a bloody great JCB (fitted with a slashing device) to take his place; and why not! 

It makes short work of lightly trimming the Hazel Nut trees,

And even shorter work of gently pruning the Fig trees.

OK, so he's a wee bit messy, but the muggins next-door neighbour will clear up everything that falls (or is ejected) over into his vegetable garden (Haddock's). And the rest? Well, that can just bloody well stay there until it disappears naturally.

Voila! Parisian Pre-Winter gardening complete in just over a couple of hours.

I leave the house for half the fucking morning, and return to find all this. I fucking despair!

(It's much worse than it looks in the pictures)

Friday, 20 November 2015

We live in crazy times.

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What is it about political leaders, or prospective political leaders?

In the USA they've got tyrannical Trump, in the UK they've got comical Corbyn, in North Korea they have fat boy Kim Jong-Un, the Russians have Putin, the Syrians have Assad, and Zimbabwee-wee has Mugabe. I could go on, but I expect you get my drift. There are weird and dangerous people everywhere, and they all have one thing in common; they wish to dictate how we all should live.

On the understanding that prospective political leaders are all either megalomaniacs or just plain despots, isn't it about time that the world abandoned individual 'leaders' as such, and gave back the power to collective citizenship?

In this age of computers it would be very simple to have a small non-partisan committee who formulated important political and social questions; these could be posted on the net once a month, and the citizens would simply need to vote yes or no. Voting would take no more than a few minutes per month; and should even be made obligatory. Here is an example of the type of question that could be asked.

Should the annual salary of Essex Council's chief executive be fixed at......
a. £50,000
b. £65,000
c. £289,143

With the touch of a button, the people could then decide.

Thursday, 19 November 2015



I'm particularly enjoying my seasonalal doses of Choucroute (sauerkraut) this year. In previous years I've become rather tired of it after just a couple of meals; this year not so.

There are two types of Choucroute sold here in Autumn/Winter, raw and cooked; big piles of both are now found at all supermarket deli counters. I always buy the cooked which is slightly more expensive but tastier. The 600gms above cost a mere quid.

Traditional accompaniments range from smoked sausages, to cooked ham; always Pork based preserved meats. I usually add knackis, thick cut bacon, smoked sausage and sausisse de morteau, etc, as well as a few small boiled potatoes.

The Choucroute itself is simply re-heated in white wine.

So much for not eating too many smoked Pork products! Delicious.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

I'll have a Lightly Boiled Egg please.

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Delia Smith's aunt would sing three verses of 'Onward Christian Soldiers' to time her soft boiled eggs. Woodrow Wyatt would time his for exactly four and a quarter minutes. Me, I have a nasty little plastic timer (now broken) that I used to set for about three minutes, then leave the eggs in the boiling water for a little while longer.

I have it on good authority that after a hard day's huntin', Prince Charles likes nothing better than a perfectly boiled egg. It is said that his valet always boils 7 eggs for him; each one boiled for slightly longer than the other. Charles then cracks the first one and if it's not quite perfect will move on to the second, etc, until he finds the one that is absolutely perfect.

The 1882 composer of The Boiled Eggs Polka (a certain Mr Hardtberg of Berlin) suggested putting your eggs in boiling water, playing his Polka 'allegro moderato' from beginning to end, then removing the eggs as soon as the piece was finished.

Even Einstein had his say about boiled eggs. He always claimed that his second greatest discovery was to boil his eggs in with his soup, this way it saved on the washing up. One just hopes they were cleaner than the ones that my hens lay.

What a wonderful thing is the boiled egg. Seeing as my valet is away, my timer broken, and I don't possess a copy of The Boiled Eggs Polka, I shall now have to learn the words to Onward Christian Soldiers (boiled eggs with soldiers?).

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Blair Legacy

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When making a point in blog-land, one risks the wrath of the left, the right, atheists, Christians, or any others who hold rigid beliefs. But what the fuck; occasionally one has to tell it how it is, and today I am still very very angry, saddened, and frustrated. So much so that I haven't previously been able to express my thoughts about the recent events in Paris.

Forget Tony's New effing Labour, how about Tony's New Bellicosity? Since leaving party politics in 2007, Fettes and Oxford 'toff' Tony Blair has left the world in an extremely dangerous state; whilst in the meantime, lining his own pockets extremely efficiently to an estimation of about £100 million.

Tony will always be remembered for these 4 things.

1. He opened the floodgates for uncontrolled UK immigration.

2. When people started to ask difficult questions, he quit his Prime Ministerial post and dropped poor inept Brown into the shit (having shredded all his own official papers)

3. Some joker made him a Middle Eastern 'peace envoy' (if that doesn't make you laugh, I don't know what bloody would)

4. He (along with his chum Bush) began what will more than likely end in another quasi World War.

What an amazing legacy for just one Labour PM!

The knock-on effects of the Bush/Blair Iraq war can now be seen almost everywhere; the most recent example having just been witnessed in Paris.

Fanaticism is everywhere; hardly any 'democratic country' is unaffected, whether it be by a few individuals hidden amongst the floods of nameless immigrants, or their final acts of terrorism. Comfortable European (and other) residents are running off to fight for ISIS by the score (already an estimated 800 from the UK, and 2000 from France), then many returning as hardened Jihadis to continue their atrocities in the countries that generously gave them (or their parents) refuge.

In Germany where Matron Merkel had invited an unlimited amount of immigrants into 'her' country, there has been an appalling rise in far right anti-Muslim vigilante groups; sadly I can only see this getting worse. In France I read that Marine Le Pen's nasty NF party are busy planning equally unpleasant reprisals.

Well-meaning liberals are still inviting unlimited amounts of anonymous immigrants into our midst, whether this be in Europe, Australia, or the US. So let me repeat what I've said before; 'Be very, very, wary of what you wish for''. We have no idea who these people are, or what are their intentions. Most are genuine refugees, but hidden amongst them are people with very different agendas.

Blair certainly has to take a hefty responsibility for what is happening. That initial trumped-up claim about non-existent WMD's has resulted in between 500,000 and a million deaths in Iraq alone since 2003. I hate to imagine how many others have lost their lives in Syria, Libya, Pakistan, Afghanistan, etc. The bloodshed has been horrific.

A lot of people voted for Blair and supported his Middle Eastern aggression; I am very proud to say that I was NOT amongst them.

The Chilcot inquiry into the Iraq war will eventually be published in July 2016, after which I shall expect Blair to be prosecuted for war crimes at The Hague. If not; there's no bloody justice in this world.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Who is (the now banned) Mia More?

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Many of you will know the name Mia More; many of you will have witnessed her bile. So who is this person?

Ms More is an enigma; one minute she writes in 'broken English', then occasionally she uses sophisticated language worthy of an average English O Level student. Is the faux-foreignness simply a red herring?

She claims to be German, but who knows. She claims to have children, but I can't imagine anyone with children being so bloody impatient and contrary.

Does she have a job? Does she have a husband? Does she really live in Berlin? Who knows; perhaps we'll never know.

Trolls guard their privacy, they are super-secretive. It is quite possible that Ms More is a man, living in Barnsley, and is a 25 stone professional darts player.

Put-up at piece about cute kittens, and Mia will find something nasty to say about them; she/he's that kind of person. Look at her 'profile', and you will find nothing.

But in her defence, imagine yourself in her uncomfortable clothes. Everything you see in the world is black, everything invokes anger, everything induces argument; it can't be easy being Mia More. 'Angry of Tunbridge Wells' has nothing on this very sad woman.

I recently posted an innocent piece about my vegetable garden (Haddock's), and even this she tried to turn into a political argument. I'm getting very tired of her.

So, should we be kind or cruel? I've made my own decision about Ms More, and that is to ban any further comments. Her verbal diarrhoea has become too much . May I suggest we all do the same; she might then simply fade away, and find some other targets.

The Doorway to Gateway.


Back in my London days, I spent several months living in a small flat (large broom cupboard) in Chelsea's Bramerton Street. I worked just around the corner, and although very convenient the flat wasn't particularly memorable.

Just recently I was looking-up Nancy Spain on Wiki and discovered that she, and her partner, frequented a famous Chelsea Lesbian Club called The Gateways Club.

The Gateways Club (above) was on the corner of Bramerton Street and King's Road. I remember the building well, but had no idea what was behind it's mysterious single door; or even that it was a club.

Amazing the things one learns by accident. I wish I'd known this at the time; although I don't quite know what difference it would have made!

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Chiffchaff (and Pheasant).

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It's not that often that I see small birds that I don't recognise, so, when I do, it comes as a surprise.

I was sitting under the now leafless Quince tree when a gang of tiny birds turned-up and started rushing around amongst the branches just above my head. They looked rather like Robins, but without the colour.

They had small pointed beaks, and their movements were somewhat like Wrens. I had to consult several books before I was certain of what they were; they're not easy to identify.

Chiffchaffs apparently are Autumnal visitors, but coming from where I know not.

Not a spectacular bird in any sense, but an amusing one. Their frenetic scavenging behaviour reminded my of the Long Tailed Tits who also turn-up in gangs and flit from tree to tree in search of bugs. Those I haven't seen this year, but then one can't witness everything.

Later that day, I spotted 'our' Pheasant just in front of the house. I'm very pleased to see that he's still alive and well.


Saturday, 14 November 2015

Haddock's; late autumn 2015.

I've now reduced the size of the growing area at Haddock's. Although smaller, I am convinced that I can make it more productive.

The small opening is for my Rotavator. I should be able to cope with weeds a bit easier too.

At the moment we have just 3 edibles; Curly Kale, Calabrese (very soon), and Swiss Chard. There are some Sprouts in, but they're for a bit later.

The surrounding anti-Deer fencing now has vines all the way round. Next year should see several hundred bunches of non-eating, decorative, juice-making, grapes, I hope the horses like grapes!

Whilst on the subject; I've just bought a single grafted Black Hamburgh grape vine. I'll find a home for it at Haddock's, and expect a good crop of delicious pukka grapes in the near future.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Kimbo opens a new Co-op.

Opening supermarkets indeed! The boy has many talents, but this one is new to me.

He is also available for weddings, funerals, and bar-mitzvahs.

Oh shut up!

Friday 13th: GOTCHA.

                                Image search result for "jihadi john"

Not yet 100% confirmed, but it looks as if this nasty piece of work has finally got his comeuppance.

Unlucky for some!


Thursday, 12 November 2015

An Ode to Man-Flu.

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Sneeze, splutter, cough, pills,

aching muscles, shivering chills.

Tablets, potions, aching bones,

panaceas, rugs, and desperate moans.

Bed, and books, and tissue packs,

snot, and phlegm, and coughing hacks.

Soup, and toast, and calves-foot jelly,

Radio four; vapour rub smelly.

© Cro Magnon, 2015.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

November 11th.

It's Remembrance Day, and as with most other European cities towns and villages, remembrance ceremonies are held here around a central monument.

One of the more poignant of our local monuments is the one above in our tiny nearby village of Frayssinet le Gelat; the village where I go on Sundays to buy my bread.

The monument chronicles the deaths of 15 villagers on the 21st of May 1944. An SS officer had been shot by the French resistance, and in retaliation the Germans took hostages; 10 young men and 5 young women, all from single child families.

All 15 were then shot; the punishment being that the families' lines of descent would come to an end. 

You might notice that the words Barbarie Nazie are written on a separate piece of blueish stone, screwed onto the monument. Underneath, it originally said Barbarie Allemande but in the name of International rapprochement the wording has recently been changed (diplomatically).

As you can see, the 15 martyrs are not forgotten.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

It usually seems longer.

No-one enjoys waiting at traffic lights (especially temporary traffic lights), but this idea at least gives one hope.

I have no idea if these 'second counting' lights exist everywhere, but here they've become reasonably common. I came across this one yesterday.

They have a calming effect. A good invention methinks. Do they have them where you are?

Monday, 9 November 2015

My Life in 15 pointers.

1. Born

2. Uncontrollable junior hooligan

3. Prep' School; noisy and rough

4. Senior School; lazy

5. Stock Exchange: horrific but eventually profitable

6. Antique Dealing: hardly profitable but fun

7. Art College: 1st Class Hons degree

8. Teaching

9. France

10. Stone Cutting; a few legacies

11. Painting; a few exhibitions

12. Building things

13. Nothing

14. Nothing

15. Nothing; old age

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Electric drum; wooden sticks.

We've quite recently bought a new washing machine, the last one was leaking and when the men came to replace it, we discovered that it was simply a matter of a small hole in a hidden rubber pipe. We could have saved about €300 had we known; but such is life!

Anyway, we now have a nice new (almost identical) machine, with just one problem; every time Lady Magnon goes to open or close it she receives a nasty electric shock.

Being resourceful, she now uses two wooden spoons when opening or closing the drum.

Does anyone have a solution to static electricity in washing machines? Any handy hints that don't involve wooden spoons would be most welcomed. I've heard that putting a ball of aluminium foil in the drum can help; has anyone else heard about that?

Saturday, 7 November 2015


I like Salmon, and I often buy these frozen whole fish when they appear at my local supermarket (Leclerc).

This one above, bought yesterday, without the guts and head weighed just over one kilo, and cost €4.27  (£3), whereas a whole fresh fish of the same size would be at least €20.

OK, it's not fresh Salmon, but it's very reasonably priced and its flavour is very good. The only really noticeable difference is in its texture when cooked; which is somewhat firmer than if fresh.

I saw them in half, then later fillet each half making enough for the two of us. In all this makes four good meals. I'm a bit conservative when it comes to cooking fish, and the 'steaks' are usually fried in olive oil/butter, and served with a hollandaise sauce (and possibly some chips).

Every year I make a resolution to eat more fish (mostly because I like it), but end up buying the same old Salmon, fish fingers, Mussels and Whelks. I really MUST become more piscatorialy adventurous.

Friday, 6 November 2015

10 Things I am very proud never to have eaten.

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1. Anything (everything) from McDonalds

2.Turkey twizzlers (don't ask)

3. Ready made supermarket Pizzas.

4. Quinoa

5. Horse

6. Cornetto

7. Tofu

8. Quorn (veggie imitation minced meat)

9. Pot noodles

10. Kinder chocolate eggs

......... and I don't intend to start.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Cricket Courtesy.

                                King's Ely

Above; Cricket being played at my old school.

There are two irrefutable maxims that always accompany the game of Cricket; firstly 'It matters not to win or lose, but how one plays the game', and perhaps more importantly 'The umpire's decision is final'.

The game of Cricket teaches us various things; on various levels. Patience, courtesy, appreciation of others' skills, strategy, fair play, team spirit, and comradeship, amongst others.

Cricket is played in many countries; India possibly being the most fanatical. In international terms the most pointed rivalry is between England and Australia; the current state of affairs being 32 Test Match wins apiece (I think).

I would like to suggest that every school in every country in the world should teach its children to play Cricket. If Cricket had been played throughout Iraq and Syria, would we now be seeing the current barbarity?

The playing of Cricket could be the answer to many of the world's problems. I can even think of a few internet trolls who might have benefited.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Work, spend, work, spend, work, spend.

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I was listening to a radio programme recently where someone described modern life as 'working eight hours a day (or more) in order to earn enough money to buy things you really don't need'. I think he had it just about right.

Of course, there are those who are working equally hard trying to sell us all those things we don't need. And loads of others who advertise the misconception that we all desperately do need what we don't need.

I have nothing against those who buy unnecessary trinkets; I myself buy antiques and paintings that often get put away in cupboards and forgotten. But too many people are out there working their butts off just to buy the latest watch, the latest car, or the latest pair of 'trainers'. Fashion victims. Madness.

So, are frugal people happier? Possibly not; but they may have more in the virtual bank than the excessive spenders. They certainly have more upstairs in their heads.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Kickin' leaves.

Bok taking me for a walk on a warm windy autumn afternoon.

Monday, 2 November 2015

More fruit trees.

I'm a little obsessed with the planting of fruit trees; in my practical mind, very few trees are worth planting unless they give you something to eat in return.

I'm reducing the size of the veg' growing area at Haddock's; in future I will grow fewer but better. I intend to pay more attention to the general health of my plants. I do know how to do this, but have previously been a bit lax. My father used to say that he (the gardener) grew 25% for the wildlife and 75% for us; I intend to make that 100% for us!

The new layout has now given me a small strip of land on which to plant a couple of extra fruit trees. They will need to be kept pruned, but still have plenty of space. They will take some sunlight in the early morning, but not enough to affect my vegs.

The nearest one (in the above photo) is an Apricot 'Rouge de Roussillon', and the rear one is a Plum 'd'Este'. 

I've not bothered trying to grow Apricots before on account of their early flowering and our occasional late frosts, but I keep hearing of bumper crops elsewhere in the area, so.....

Otherwise, I only have one other pukka Plum, so a second one is a good idea. Safety in numbers, etc. I'd really like a Victoria, but they're not available here.

Now all I have to do is wait. The Plum will certainly bear fruit, but the Apricot; who knows!

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