Sunday, 31 July 2016


I don't know how many Rick Stein books I have; maybe 10.

The above two are my latest additions. Food from Spain, and from the Eastern Med'.

More than most other food writers, Stein has a genuine understanding of the social and geographical significance of both his ingredients and their usage. He loves the utter simple just as much as the multi-starred posh.

In the introduction to his 'Venice to Istanbul' he talks of the simplicity (and perfection) of a Greek salad. One is immediately reminded of those delightful beach-side island Tavernas, of Retsina and Domestica, of warm nights under the stars that one prayed would never end.

I regret that I never attempted to learn Greek; I would have loved to own a small fisherman's cottage on some tiny Cycladean island. Zorba would have danced for me, some smiling elderly grandmother would have cooked for me, and my table would have been home to fishermen farmers and wine makers (as well as Stein himself).

Recipe books, especially Stein's, are as much travelogues as descriptions of foods. A pot of Hummus from Waitrose can never invoke the memories that the above photo can muster in an instant. Stein is my kind of cook, and my kind of tourist. 

He seems to get it right every time.

Saturday, 30 July 2016


I always associate Moules/Frites with Belgium rather than France, but in recent years it has become as much a part of our summer life as lost Dutch tourists.

Last night we went to our usual lakeside 'restaurant' for our once-a-year feast. 

I must say that it was probably the best Moules we've ever eaten there. They were fat, juicy, and perfectly cooked. 

I'm just sorry my son didn't take a photo of the huge crowd, the huge pots of Moules that kept arriving, or even the mountain of detritus. 

Friday, 29 July 2016

That Pumpkin Patch.

I showed my Pumpkin Patch before; this is how it looks now.

The plants seem very happy on the old compost heap, this flower amused me as it's grown through a leaf. Plenty of Bees around.

I haven't counted how many actual Pumpkins there are, but I imagine there are quite a few. I put in two types; a huge orange one, and a slightly smaller grey one. Some of each would be good.

This one above looks as if it's going to be a whopper.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Ratatouille Season.


Suddenly we are inundated with wonderful vegetables from Haddock's.

Time to make Ratatouille.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Keeping them busy.

Trying to find new and interesting activities for the children isn't easy.

There's been Cricket, Football, Swimming, Golf, Croquet, Treasure hunting, Kayaking, TV (yes, I know), and good old fashioned walks through the woods.


A dog, several kids, and a woodland track, and all is well with the world. Long walks are best! Little Jade even took her two teddies along.

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Look what I found!

Driving through the woods on my way back from shopping yesterday morning, No 1 son and I found the above Tortoise wandering along the road.

He's (I imagine he's a he) a big boy; he must weigh over a kilo.

Goodness knows where he came from; maybe he was abandoned by a returning holiday-maker, or simply escaped from someone's garden. I don't think he's wild; they're usually found much further to the south.

I'll ring the Vet' to see if he's been reported missing. If anyone wants a huge Tortoise, you know where to come....

He's been temporarily named 'Corbyn'.

Monday, 25 July 2016


No 1 son, Kimbo, recently bought me a good quality, medium sized, Waitrose Melton Mowbray Pork Pie from London (actually he bought me two).

He knows that with a hefty wedge of Pork Pie, a good dollop of mustard, and a few gherkins, I'm in heaven.

But whilst eating the above yesterday I realised something that's been gnawing away at my gastronomic conscience for many years; and that is, that it HAS to be ENGLISH MUSTARD. Pukka Colman's made with pukka powder, and mixed by hand.

This bloody French stuff (which is perfectly OK with most things) just doesn't do the job.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Surely not!

It had to happen; I've just had a birthday, and it was a biggy.

When I was younger I used to think that I'd never make it past 50, then later I thought I'd never see the year 2000. I was wrong on both counts.

In fact I've never felt fitter, and my mind is as active as ever. The only let-down has been a few aches and pains, no doubt induced by my own stupid behaviour in my working past.

The older we get, the more we look back on our past lives; and I've found myself doing exactly that on my early morning walks with Bok. I think of my parents, my upbringing, my successes and failures, and mostly of my children and their children.

I'm lucky to be surrounded by my 3 children and their children at the moment. I look at them and try to imagine what they will become, whether, like me, they will get to live through peaceful times and if they will live a life of reasonable comfort. I do hope so.

I can hardly believe the age I am, it seems to have rushed upon me without my being aware. I have to accept it; I have no choice, but I won't let it slow me down, become less irreverent, or less raucous. I shall never suffer fools gladly, never be told what to do by petty authoritarians, and never take notice of killjoy dietitians. If it says 'Don't walk on the grass', I more than likely will!

So, I'm wishing myself good health, steady ladders, and plenty more years of hedonism. Let no-one say that I didn't enjoy myself, and make plenty of mischief.

Here's to the next ten or even twenty years; Cheers.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Hot weather lunch.

Salad leaves, red and yellow Tomatoes, Melon, black Olives, Feta.

Chorizo, Rosette.

Ice cold diluted Lemon juice.

And loads of people.

Thursday, 21 July 2016


The change from Prime Minister Cameron to Prime Minister May went pretty smoothly.

Cameron took over a country on the brink of bankruptcy. Years of Blair/Brown Labour mismanagement  had left the UK close to disaster, and Cameron's cautious policy of some austerity combined with more careful management of the exchequer soon created increased employment, and its naturally following revived economy. At the end of his term he left the country with an unemployment rate of around 5%; (much the same as the USA) compared to France's over 10%, and Germany's 6.5%. The UK can now boast 74% employment; the highest since 1971.

He also left his term in office with the UK having the fifth strongest economy in the world, and the second strongest in the EU.

Theresa May has a difficult act to follow, but I'm sure she's up to the job. She's already surrounded herself with some very bright people (there's no shortage in the Conservative party). I wish her luck.

At her first PMQ's, yesterday, she performed extremely well. Like Cameron she managed to make poor Corbyn look like an inexperienced schoolboy. I though there was quite a hint of Maggie in her.

So, to say a final goodbye to Dave, I offer the following.....

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Laurier Rose.


No flower is more evocative of Summer for me, than the Oleander.

It comes in various colours; white, pink, and red, but for my garden it has to be red.

My one (above) is badly planted in a rather shady spot, and has only just started to flower; even so I can't pass it without smiling.

It should be noted that almost every aspect of the Oleander is highly POISONOUS. Take note children!

Tuesday, 19 July 2016



I prefer.....

Dylan to Jagger

Silver to Gold

Salmon to Cod

Kenwood to Kitchen Aid

Peugeot to Porsche

Blondes to Brunettes

Rugby to Football

Savoury to Sweet

Stone to Brick

Hot to Cold

Real to Fake

Slow to Fast

Quiet to Noise

Red to White (wine)

Country to Town

Home-grown to Shop-bought

Casual to Formal

and finally, My Village to Anywhere else in the world.

Monday, 18 July 2016


What can you do when it's so HOT.

Get up early (I always do anyway), try to get all tasks completed before about 9 am, have a swim, maybe have some slices of cold melon and a peach for lunch, siesta, swim again, watch The Tour de France, swim again, at 6 pm have a glass of wine and a few olives by the pool, swim again, throw something on the BBQ, relax as it cools slightly, bed. 

Oh;..... and Lady Magnon wears espadrilles.

Sunday, 17 July 2016


What went through the minds of the boffins at the 'Signal' factory, when they invented this stuff: I cannot imagine.

There was no mention on the packet that it was dark blue, and that your mouth would end up filled with navy coloured foam. 

The very first time I used it, I was quite shocked and imagined there must have been some technical fault at the factory (maybe there was).

I persevered for a while; I had paid a couple of Euros for it after all. But I've now decided that dark blue is not for me, and I've reinvested in some good old 'Colgate' white stuff.

At least, I presume it's white.

p.s. I've just used it, it's pale-bloody-BLUE.

Saturday, 16 July 2016

Summer Love (a refreshingly non-depressing posting).

In recent times they've taken to keeping each other company, outdoors.

They occasionally touch noses, but otherwise they know their places.

It's how it should be. 

Friday, 15 July 2016

Another black day.


As I write, it is estimated that there are 80 dead, and a further 100 injured.

I really don't know what more can be said.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016



Lady M: Cro, come quickly.

Cro: Can't; I'm busy.

Lady M: You have to, I've just seen a huge Rat.

Cro: That's nice, where was it?

Lady M: At the back of the barn.

Cro: I'll go up later.

Lady M: No, no, you have to come NOW!

Cro: Oh for god's sake; I'm in pain.

Lady M: Bring the Rat trap, I'll get some cheese.

Cro: (a few mins later up at barn): Right where is the cheeky chappie?

Lady M: There. There it is, still in the same place!

Cro: Where?

Lady M: There, there, there, can't you see the bloody thing?

Cro: All I can see is the screw top from a gas bottle; is that what you mean?

Lady M: Is that what it is? I thought it was a Rat.

Cro: You'll have to get new glasses dear. Can I go now?

Lady M: No, set the trap anyway.

Cro: Why, are you hoping to stop the gas bottle top from chewing the carpets ?

(Sets trap; says nothing).

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

The Evidence.

Yesterday morning I decided to climb my step ladder to pick the few remaining yellow Cherries at Haddock's; I should have stayed at home knitting.

I knew the ladder wasn't particularly steady; but climbed regardless.

As I was standing on the small platform, and stretching to pick a couple of Cherries, it toppled; and I toppled with it.

I landed on my left hip, and right knee; I'm still not quite sure how this happened. Anyway it was one hell of a smack onto hard ground, and I am amazed that I have no broken bones.

What I do have is a lot of pain and stiffness (I can hardly walk) which I imagine will be with me for quite a few days.

My own stupid fault, and I'm now paying the price; all for a handful of Cherries.

Thank goodness for Ibuprofen!

Monday, 11 July 2016

Summer essentials.

I used to buy these old fashioned food covers at UK Jumble Sales or Boot Sales, they were sold for almost nothing. I'd buy every one I saw; I imagine they are from the 1950's.

These days they would probably be classified as 'Kitchenalia' and have crazy price tickets.

They've just been given a refreshing coat of 'Wimbledon Green' spray paint, and are ready for use again.

No Wasps on my Ham Sandwiches, or my slice of Battenburg Cake; thank you very much!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Haddock's so far, 2016.

With Haddock's having been reduced in size this year, I was short of space for all my Pumpkins and Squashes, so I've commandeered an old compost heap. It seems to be doing the trick, better even than I'd imagined.

The first load of Peppers are full sized and waiting to change colour; I'll probably eat most of them green.

The first Tomatoes are already fist size, although these will definitely be left to turn red.

Plenty of flowers on the Aubergines. It's amazing how quickly they grow once they've flowered. I can see us being inundated.

And the Red Onions are already being harvested, but I'll leave most of them to harden-off to be kept for winter.

All going according to plan.

Saturday, 9 July 2016



Kellogg and Bunny; somewhere on the high seas between Oz and Singapore.

Bunny seems to be an old hand at Cruising; and using a knife and fork too!

Friday, 8 July 2016

Teflon Tony.

                              Résultat de recherche d'images pour "tony blair and gaddafi"

I am stunned by the news that Tony Blair will not be prosecuted over his Iraq warmongering.

The International Criminal Court say they cannot prosecute Blair for having 'Launched a Conflict', but they may well prosecute certain British soldiers for carrying out his commands.

My dislike for Blair has always been assuaged by the thought that he would eventually get his comeuppance, this has now been dashed.

There really is no fairness in the world. By direct way of his lies about WMD's, Blair caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands, he quit No 10 when things looked tricky, left the UK economy in tatters, then went off to make millions; and as parents of  our killed servicemen tend the graves of their fallen sons, Blair still has the bloody cheek to say that he'd do it all again.

The Socialists love to hate all private school and Oxford educated 'toffs', but the grinning Fettes and Oxford educated Tony could do no wrong. Nowadays you'd be hard pressed to find anyone who'd admit to having voted for him (as they will in the future with Corbyn).

You've heard it before, and it's true; the law is a bloody ass. And guess who's wife has helped make it that way!

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Bzzzzzz. Bzzzzzz.

Summer has now begun in earnest. Temperatures are pleasantly idling around 27/30 C; just warm enough to bring out the evil Horse Flies, mischievous Mosquitoes, and a host of other annoying insects. The big question is whether to leave all the doors and windows open, or to close-up in an attempt to keep them out. 

Personally I favour opening-up to let them fly in and fly out again; Lady Magnon prefers the Fort Knox approach. I suspect my way is better (but I would say that, wouldn't I).

One thing we do agree on is simple salad lunches taken in the shade of the Quince tree. A few vegs from the garden, a slice of melon, some Goat's cheese maybe,; that's all we need.

And in the late afternoon (after a leisurely swim), half an hour with Cav, Chris, and the Sky boys makes the day complete.

Aaaah; I love Summer.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

The Jam Factory.

Yesterday was Lady Magnon's Jam making day.

Every year she makes plenty of Strawberry Jam, and plenty of Apricot Jam.

Of course when it comes to my writing the labels she tends to forget what they're called.

"What's this one?" I asked.

"Get out of my kitchen" she replied.

"And this one?"

"Take that bloody dog out!"

Eh voila!

Tuesday, 5 July 2016


This isn't actually Spinach; it's Perpetual Spinach, which is a type of Chard. Even so I always refer to it as Spinach, and I grow lots.

Unlike the 'real thing', this gorgeous leafy vegetable has a substantial consistency somewhere between real Spinach and Swiss Chard. One still requires quite a large picking for a meal.

For me it has three great virtues. It is very good for you, it tastes wonderful, and (best of all) it is rather like eating green vegetable SILK.

I wash, take off the longer stems, and steam for about 8 mins.The perfect accompaniment for a simple Pork chop. What could be easier!


Monday, 4 July 2016

Laurel Aitken & The Skatalites - Mood for Ska

Over the years I've posted several versions of 'I'm in the mood for love'; this version 'I'm in the mood for Ska' by Laural Aitkin and The Skatalites is amongst the best.

Put down your scrubbing brush, pen, or garden fork, and turn up the volume....

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Yellow Cherries.

I really don't know why I planted a Yellow Cherry tree, other than I was told that birds are less inclined to eat them, thinking that they are unripe. This, of course, is nonsense.

As far as taste is concerned, they don't seem to be quite as sweet as red Cherries. This may be visual trickery, but I have eaten them with my eyes closed, and it does appear to be so. 

The tree was planted on the birth day of my grandson GHG (George Henry Günnar). He'll be here towards the end of July, and I'd like to make something tasty with the crop especially for him.

I can't imagine them making good jam (unless I add a few Red Currants for colour maybe), and I don't particularly want to freeze them. 

Any ideas would be extremely welcome. They are RIPE now.

Saturday, 2 July 2016


                                        Résultat de recherche d'images pour "dennis skinner"

The new Labour Party leadership has just been announced to great all-round enthusiasm (even from the Tories).

The No 1 contender, Dennis Skinner 84 (above) is to become the new, young, middle-of-the-road, unifying, Leader of the Party. A true Statesman and a breath of fresh air; I'm sure you'd agree.

Skinner said "I am trilled to have been chosen as the new leader of my party; I shall inject a new vitality and youthfulness into the role. When at No 10 I will make all the poor rich, and all the rich poor; then continue until everyone is poor; or do I mean rich? Anyway, Britain will be great again".


Diane Abbot is to become Shadow Foreign Secretary, as well as the party's Tzar for Private Education.

The Eagle twins (Angela and Maria) are to become joint Shadow Secretaries in charge of twins.

Lord Blair of Iraq is to become Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer (a safe pair of hands with large sums of money, if ever there was one).

Lord 'Billy' Bragg of Dysmelodia will become Shadowy Minister for 'Music'.

And little Jeremy Corbyn is to return to the front bench as Shado Minista for joined-up riting and midal-skool lerning.

Others posts are yet to be announced.

I'm sure you'd all like to join me in wishing them 'jolly good luck' for the future.

Enzo Enzo - Juste quelqu'un de bien - Live dans les années bonheur

Enzo singing live in front of an audience of fellow celebs. Nice song.

Friday, 1 July 2016

Compost fry-up.

When the children were small we ate 'veggie' much more often than we do now, and this particular dish became a firm family favourite.

At this time of year I go to Haddock's and pick whatever is ready to be eaten. After being cleaned and prepared they are lightly cooked until just 'done'.

The whole lot is then fried in Olive oil, Garlic, Parsley, and some Butter, then when nearly ready it is given a good sprinkling of Cumin, a squeeze of Lemon juice, and salt-n-pepper. I sometimes also add a tiny tin of red Kidney Beans (as below).

This is 'virtuous' food, feel good food, food that you could give to a Buddhist Monk.

It also happens to be de-bloody-licious.

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