Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Where are they?


Do you know where your children are at all times? No, nor do I, not that mine are really 'children' any more.

My oldest is on business in Singapore. Facebook informs me that he is at Raffles, enjoying a few Gin Slings.

Well, someone has to keep them busy!


Have fun Kimbo!




Monday, 20 November 2017

Paquador vs England


To celebrate that People's Favourite 'Brighton and Hove Albion' are now at No 8 in the Premiership league table (ahem), I am offering this genuine video for all true Football fans to enjoy.

Paquador v England.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

A Sunday rant.



FORTY-BLOODY-FIVE years I've lived in my tiny hamlet; forty three of which were spent in perfect peace, quiet, and harmony. I've owned two different houses here, (and another a few miles away), but when I started to make our present one livable-in, we were assured by neighbours that our tranquility was GUARANTEED; local by-laws totally forbade anyone from building new homes here.

At the time I had just two lots of neighbours. Immediately next door (100 yards away) were a pair of Parisian, Zen Buddhist, Lesbians, who were a total delight. And the other house (another 100 yards further away) was owned by a man and his elderly mother who spent just a couple of weeks a year here.

Since then all of my original neighbours have died off, and I am left surrounded by those who have arrived since; I feel like the last of an era. I bought, and restored, my ruined cottage for it's simplicity, beauty, and tranquility, but even though we try to live a quiet life, there are always those who try to see that we don't.

Over recent years we have faced some really bizarre behaviour, but now we are facing possibly the worst of the lot. We are to have a holiday village plonked right on our bloody doorstep, and we are supposed to be grateful.

27 (probably rowdy) holidaymakers will soon be disturbing our Summer's peace and quiet; 27 of a type who are prepared to holiday in buried shipping containers, whoever that might be.

In the photo above you might just be able to see the roof of a barn. My youngest son owns the barn next to it (slightly further to the right) so you can imagine his proximity to the holiday camp. The huge mounds of earth show where the old shipping containers will be semi-buried.

The 'newcomer' who wishes to start this holiday camp is surprised (angry even) that all the surrounding residents are against his plans. He doesn't seem to understand that once our treasured tranquility has gone; it will be gone for ever.

We bought our homes for the peaceful bucolic ambiance they afforded; he bought his with the surreptitious intention of bringing in loads of effing holidaymakers. I can hardly explain how bloody mad I am. He arranged an explanatory meeting recently; I couldn't even face seeing him.

The most recent newcomer to our tiny hamlet (a Brit) bought his small converted barn just a year or so ago, and now finds that he is to have a semi-underground trailer park right behind his house. He is understandably furious. No-one had said a word to him about it as he was completing his purchase. I feel more sorry for him than I do for any of the others; including myself.

The would-be holiday camp owner has already fitted several inappropriate fittings to his beautiful ancient home, including an awful 1950's door, and a striped awning; one can only imagine what more horrors are to come. I do wish he would just bugger off, buy himself a more suitable secluded property, and leave us all in the peace that we so covet.

Some people just couldn't give an effing damn about their neighbours! Money is god!




Saturday, 18 November 2017

Mouse Season.


                             

Regularly at this time of year, Lady Magnon becomes obsessed by Mice. She imagines that every Mouse within a 20 Km radius is heading for the house, in order to spend the Winter with us in relative comfort.

I am instructed to set traps, plug holes, and gather gallons of Cat urine to discourage their ambitions.

She had a dream recently about a group of laughing Mice on top of our kitchen cupboards; I was of course blamed for their Morpheus induced incursion.

Freddie catches quite a few, but we've already had one in the house recently; luckily he was soon dispatched.

Mice have the whole of France to play in; be warned, WE DON'T WANT YOU IN THE HOUSE.

Now, where's that Mousetrap and some Peanut Butter? I'm told that Peanut Butter is irresistible to Mice.



Friday, 17 November 2017

Doppelganger No 3,557.



One is a genuine Balenciaga Menswear fashion show; the other isn't.

Can you tell which is which?




Thursday, 16 November 2017

Yesterday in S W France.


Outdoors.


Indoors.


Autumn/Winter has really taken hold, and potatoes are now regularly being baked in the ash pan of the sitting room wood-burner.


For crispy skins they are cooked naked; for soft skins they are wrapped in foil. Both are wonderful; we use a variety called Mona Lisa.



Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Let's get it correct. 'Vaulting'.



I get really pissed-off. I'm constantly hearing people refer to 'Vaulted Ceilings', where they really mean 'Beamed Ceilings'. 

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vault_(architecture)

I first noticed this on a TV country-house finding programme; much loved by Lady Magnon. Every bloody house that had nice old beams was referred to as having 'vaulted ceilings'. It drove me nuts!

I've even heard architects (who OUGHT TO know better) wrongly talking of 'vaulted ceilings'.

So, let's get things right. The above illustration is of a vault; either built in stone, concrete, or brick, they are constructed over a template with considerable weight being added to the top to hold it all together once the template is removed.

A beamed ceiling is constructed of wooden beams that hold either an upper floor, or a roof.

Amazingly, when I was looking for a good illustration, I referred to Google Images and found almost nothing but photos of beamed ceilings. The rot has set-in even further than I'd imagined.

I don't know why this should annoy me as much as it does; the problem is, there are far too many people who claim to be experts, but who obviously aren't. Just look in any Estate Agent's window for proof.






Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Rat's Teeth.



These are pretty much the last of the year's mushrooms. 

Known in the UK as Hedgehog Mushrooms, in these parts they translate as Rat's Teeth, Deer's Feet, or Sheep's Feet. Personally I prefer 'Rat's Teeth' as it describes perfectly the underside of the mushroom.

In past times (40 years ago) I would take a large wooden crate into the woods, which would be filled within an hour or so. I would often return several times during the day. The resulting haul would be sold to merchants who went from farm to farm. I was told at the time that the mushrooms were used in the pharmaceutical industry; but I suspect most went to be eaten. Today's forager would find such quantities almost impossible to collect; the few above took me over an hour to find.

Rat's Teeth are very delicate creatures. They are mostly 'brushed' clean, but they often require rinsing under water. They also break very easily. When cooking, the water used for cleaning floods out, and has to be boiled away before they actually begin to fry. 

So, to the most important thing; what do they taste like?

When eaten alone, they have a delicate mushroom flavour, but when cooked with chicken or lamb they take on the flavour of the meat. Mixed with chicken, not only is the colour much the same, but the quantity of the meat appears to multiply; as if my magic. 

An easy mushroom to identify; those underneath teeth are a give-away. Look in November amongst mixed Pine/Chestnut trees.

Monday, 13 November 2017

How to Make Hummus.


My method of making Hummus is not exactly the same as this, but the ingredients are much the same (I never add curry powder).

I use a free-standing 'dedicated' machine to do the hard work, and add ground Sumac, Olive oil, and a few chick peas, to garnish.

So easy, so delicious, and so satisfying to make. I love it.



And here is my version (below). Even the bowl is similar.


This was eaten yesterday for lunch, accompanied by some delicious Chorizo baguette. 

Does life get any better?




Sunday, 12 November 2017

The Sunday Book. San Michele.


                                                      The Story of San Michele.jpg

I believe that the bible is still one of the world's best selling books, and this must be another. The popularity of both mystify me.

Swede Axel Munthe's book about the island of Capri has been continuously printed for over 7 decades, and must be one of the world's most extraordinary publishing miracles.

In 1874, at the age of 17, Munthe arrived on the island of Capri, and (like so many) walked the long path up to the village of Anacapri (see book illustration). En route he discovered a ruined chapel, and decided at once that he would restore it, and the nearby ruined villa. The book tells of the restoration of the two buildings, and his life as a doctor in Italy and France.

If you have read the book (and many of you must have) you might agree with me that it is decidedly unremarkable. Factually interesting at most, but not a work of great literature; yet it continues to be a great favourite.

I wouldn't buy a copy, but if your local library or charity shop has it, it's worth giving it a go!




Saturday, 11 November 2017

Dried fruit season.



When I was small, Christmas was never complete without Satsumas, Brazil nuts, and (best of all); long decorative boxes of sticky Dates.

The other things I loved were those packs of dried Figs, squashed together into homogeneous blocks.

These above are new to me. They are small, individual, dried 'MINI FIGS', that come from Spain. For some reason, they have a slight dusting of Rice flour.


New products usually spread around the world quite quickly, so wherever you are, I expect these will turn-up on your supermarket's shelves for Christmas.

If you see them; try them. They're delicious, and not too sweet. 



Friday, 10 November 2017

Scrumpalicious.



We've already had one slight frost, so opportunities for scrumping are now very limited.

However, one abandoned nearby ancient tree always produces fruit that stays on the ground well into the new year, mostly without any ill effects.


Our own stored Apples have now either gone soft, are riddled with bugs, or are rotting; none of the better known varieties seem to 'keep' any more.

This particular Apple (above) should be in everyone's orchard. It's sweet, with a very pleasant flavour, and is probably one of the best 'keepers' I know. One can but wonder why it isn't available at garden centres everywhere.

No-one seems to know its name, or why it fell out of fashion. I shall take a few cuttings next year, and see if I can continue its line before it's lost for ever.



Thursday, 9 November 2017

I know, I know, I know.....



Our lovely friend Joan sent the recipe, and Lady M set to work at once.

The mixture bubbled (as it should), and after a couple of hours was set to cook in some (improvised) Crumpet rings.

They took longer to cook than suggested, but that was probably on account of Lady M's fear of too high a temperature.


And here is the very first of her finished products; slathered with butter.

Verdict: 9/10. Very slightly under salted, but otherwise just as they should be. We will certainly be making Crumpets again; in fact I shall buy a set of special rings.

Thanks Joan. Well done Lady M.




Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The Lee Thompson Ska Orchestra "Bangarang" ft Dawn Penn.


Lee Thompson was the Sax player with Madness, and the lovely Dawn Penn is a Jamaican Ska singer from the late 1960's. Driving through London to a bit of Ska; what's not to like?





Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Spot the 'tower'.



Almost hidden from view under its foliage, our little 'tower' is due for a haircut. 

I shan't bother until all the leaves have dropped, but then it'll have some serious pruning. My original intention was to totally clothe it in foliage, but it's gone a little over-the-top. 

It's so covered in Wisteria, that I can hardly see it any more.

Just how I like it!


Monday, 6 November 2017

Cruffins?



I may not have found any Crumpets, but I have found these very nice Muffins.

Not at all the same thing as Crumpets, but they are treated in much the same way.  Ours were halved, toasted, and covered with thick butter and the world's very best Tayberry Jam (my own).

Now, if only I could get M Epid'OR to try his hand at Crumpets; I'd be a very happy Cro.


I shall now not mention Crumpets again; unless, of course, my prayers are answered



Sunday, 5 November 2017

Kickin' leaves.


This was filmed a couple of years ago, but it's just the same today.





Saturday, 4 November 2017

Little Miss Cake.



We share the chores in this house; I cook everything that involves salt and spices, and Lady Magnon cooks everything that involves flour and sugar.

Now that she's 37½ years old, she's managed to achieve that wonderful kitchen confidence where she can make brilliant cakes, almost with her eyes closed. 

She doesn't have a huge armoury of different cake recipes, but her Lemon Drizzle, Chocolate, and Walnut cakes are perfection every time. 

I'm not really supposed to eat such things, but when I smell the aroma of cake-baking, I can't resist a small piece with my afternoon cup of Lapsang.

What I now need, is for her to master the making of Crumpets, Squashed Fly Biscuits, and Battenburg. 

I seem to be thinking a lot about food again recently; it must be the approach of Christmas.




Friday, 3 November 2017

Dancing lessons.


                                  Image may contain: drawing

I never had dancing lessons, we were simply expected to know what to do; but we didn't!

Lady Magnon, on the other hand, did have some instruction.

When we 'rough dance' in the kitchen she often takes the male rôle (as shown above). She attended an all girls school and during her dance lessons half the girls had to pretend to be boys; she was one such.

She never got over it.



Thursday, 2 November 2017

UK, please note!


                      Résultat de recherche d'images pour "crumpets"

There are certain 'National Speciality Foods' that we find regularly in all our supermarkets.

France exports wines, cheese, dried sausages, salt, and expensive water.

Italy sells us pasta, bottled sauces, parma ham, olive oil, and parmesan cheese.

The US sends us their tomato ketchup, cornflakes, peanut butter, orange juice, and Uncle Ben's rice.

Switzerland exports chocolate, more chocolate, and even more chocolate.

Most of these things are to be found the world over.

I would like to suggest just a few things that the UK should be exporting to the whole world; Marmite, Lea and Perrins sauce, and Branston pickle, are probably available in most countries, but PORK PIES, and CRUMPETS are not!

People in the UK don't realise how lucky they are to have permanent access to Pork Pies and Crumpets.

If you are a maker of either really good Melton Mowbray Pork Pies, or Crumpets, would you please have a word with M Leclerc; one of his clients would be extremely grateful.



Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Halloween Bonfire Night.



Last night two of my neighbours Tracey and Karine had the brilliant idea of combining Halloween with Bonfire Night.

I am not really a fan of Halloween, but having been brought-up in the Surrey Village of Lingfield, I'm very much a big Bonfire Night person.

November 5th was, without question, Lingfield's biggest day of the year. We had a huge flaming torchlight procession through the village, an enormous fire was lit, fireworks decorated the sky, and it was our very own gardener, Fuller, who always made the splendid Guy.

Last night's fire was not as big as Lingfield's, and one wouldn't expect it to be so, but the atmosphere was very much the same. There's something very primitive about gathering around a big fire.

I'm now wondering if we couldn't slowly abandon Halloween, and replace it with Bonfire Night; but I doubt if the French would understand.

I'm hoping this will become an annual event; so much better than going from house to house for sweets!



Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Gap Years. Essential?


The Gap Year has now become standard, coming of age, practice.

In my day there was really no choice. You either went directly to University, or directly to work; I chose the latter.

These days no self respecting school-leaver would dream of doing either. They're off to India, on to Oz, buy a van, pick some fruit, get arrested, pick more fruit, on to Thailand, phone home for money; and when they realise that 5 years have somehow flitted-by, make one final grasp at freedom by staying in a squat in Paris. Then, and only then, when the Euros have completely run dry (and parents refuse to cough-up any more), will they finally make for home.

All three of my children took time off to travel, and all three returned wiser, more independent, and focused.

Above is Junior Magnon (the last to travel) with his lovely Swedish/Russian girlfriend (now my daughter-in-law), Kellogg, photographing themselves somewhere (in their van) in Oz.

I have only one gripe with the Gap Year ethos; it tends to teach children that the only time to contact parents is when you're BROKE.

N.B. I originally posted this in 2010.


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Monday, 30 October 2017

Errrr; I'm not buying those!



It was quite refreshing to see this recent ad' in a local supermarket's weekly bumf, but somehow I see it as no more than lip-service to what should be genuine national, and international, concern.

Ugly (moches) fruit and veg' should of course be sold and not thrown away, but this seems to be no more than a two week publicity stunt rather than a permanent solution.

It's all well and good to sell tinned wonky Salsify, and Carrots, or odd shaped Apples and Potatoes just for a short period; but they should be on offer 365 days a year. 

5 Kilos of ugly Potatoes for €1 is pretty tempting, especially for those on meagre incomes, but let's have them on offer permanently.  I might even buy some myself.

N.B. I suspect there may be some cheating at the Trelawnyd Show.




Sunday, 29 October 2017

Pre-Attenborough.


                                  Michaela en Armand Denis (1962).jpg                 

I adore David Attenborough, but my love of nature (both above and below the waterline) came long before he arrived on the TV scene.

My introduction to exotic wildlife came from Armand and Michaela Denis (above), their African jungle adventures kept the young Cro totally spellbound for years.

Under water it was Hans and Lotte Hass who introduced us to the strange alien world of aquatic life. Later it was Cousteau and his crew who finally cemented my love of everything sub-aqua.

When I look at the photo above, I see a wonderful couple whose names will be unknown to the majority, but they were pioneers in the field of nature filming. He with his strange guttural Belgian accent, and she with her beauty and elegance; they made it seem perfectly natural to be amongst all those wild animals.

I feel privileged that part of my early education was tutored by these wonderful people, and not by some hand-held toy where you score points for killing imaginary enemies!

The young now know so little of the world around them; bring back Armand and Michaela.



Saturday, 28 October 2017

The changing face of colour.



What a lot of fuss is made over Black Face Minstrels, Gollies, Robertson jam figures, or certain Morris dancers; even a UK fundraising Carnival Float recently came under fire after depicting the Jamaican Bobsled Team from the film 'Cool Runnings'. None of these people are being discourteous to people with darker skin, just depicting something different to themselves for a bit of fun.

So I was quite surprised to hear that absolutely no fuss has been made of people who artificially try to LIGHTEN their natural skin colour. WHY NOT, one has to ask? (Think Michael Jackson, et al)

Is is simply because it's OK to complain in one tonal direction, but not in the other?

Above is just one photo from a skin lightening product advert; there were plenty of others. The net is filled will such products, all proudly claiming to whiten skin.

If it's 'racist' to 'black-up', surely it has also to be 'racist' to 'whiten-up'. Personally I think that neither is 'racist', but one can't be seen to be hypocritical. Therefore I wish to complain most vigorously about these racist 'whitening' products. I insist they must be removed from the market.

Does that sound as stupid to you, as it does to me? Good!



Friday, 27 October 2017

Learning a new language.



We occasionally idly talk of over-wintering in Blighty again some time in the future. When my arms can no longer start the chainsaw, or carry heavy logs, then we might consider the idea more seriously.

In the meantime, I thought I'd better brush-up on my English. It seems to be a very different language to when I last set foot on Albion's green and pleasant.

For example, I must remember to start every sentence with 'I mean', or 'like', and to spread as many extra 'like's' between words as possible.

I must also remember that the verb 'to say' has now officially been replaced by 'to go'; this oddity will take some getting used-to.

Example: Old Fashioned English. "Somebody recently asked me if I'd seen his lost dog, I replied no, but I was sure that I'd seen it earlier in the day'.

Modern English. " I mean, like, he goes 'anyone seen my Pit Bull?'.  I goes, 'no, but, I 'erd, like, that it'd bitten some, like, geezer, I mean, like, yeah'.

I think I'm getting there, just a few more months of practicing and, like, I'll be word perfect, innit. (did you notice my cheeky use of that other essential word 'innit'; I'm making progress).

p.s. USA readers should be aware that whereas in the UK they use the additional word 'like', it becomes 'like man' on their side of the pond.



Thursday, 26 October 2017

Drinkin'-n-Smokin'.



When I was at school, of course we smoked and drank, but it was done in private; in our studies, away from the prying eyes of anyone senior. To have been caught would have meant a whacking.

My study was rarely without a packet of fancy Sobranie cigs, as well as a bottle of very cheap and nasty British Sherry called 'English Rose'. We thought ourselves very sophisticated when we offered visitors a glass of this foul Sherry. Our only saving grace was that it was served in nice pukka Sherry glasses.

I have just come across this hazy (smokey?) photo of boys at my old school openly drinking and smoking at someone's school birthday bash, and I must say that I find it rather disappointing. 

Making such activities 'legal' (as I presume it now must be for V1th formers) takes away all the fun and subterfuge of hiding a sherry bottle in an emptied Fire Extinguisher, or burning toast to mask the smell of tobacco (as we did). 

Do today's boys no longer learn the art of deceit and circumvention? It's a disgrace.




Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Faire Chabrol.


                           Résultat de recherche d'images pour "faire chabrol"

The one local tradition that I like above all others, is to faire chabrol.

I presume the above photo is 'staged', but it illustrates the practice perfectly.

Lunchtime here is known as La Soupe, because that's normally what is consumed. Most homes will have either a vermicelli or bread-enriched soup for their lunch, and when down to the last few spoons-full, red wine is added and drunk direct from the bowl.

Voila; that is to faire chabrol. The wearing of a beret is optional; I always do!


Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Power-less People.


I've previously mentioned that a relative 'newcomer' neighbour had applied for, and was granted, permission to build a small holiday village right bang in the middle of our tiny hamlet. He wished to install 5 semi-buried converted old shipping containers.

Quite naturally all the surrounding neighbours complained; we were horrified at such an idea. No-one had been consulted, or informed, and the first we knew of the project was when he began digging huge holes in his field.

We consulted a lawyer. Letters were written to the Mayor, and to the planning authorities.


We have now just received their reply (above) which states that everything is in order, and the planning permission stands. But that was hardly the point; they have totally ignored the wishes of the neighbours, or even the devious ways in which matters were handled.

                                           

Above is a rough idea of how the neighbours surround the proposed holiday park. Our house is under the toy car (bottom right). Where is says Parc de Loisir Proposé is the area where he intends to install the 5 old shipping containers; these will house a maximum of 20 holiday makers. He also has a Gite which houses another 7.

What was once a haven of architectural beauty, and bucolic tranquility (the reason why we all bought our homes here), is soon to become a noisy holiday camp.

In the above letter it states that the containers must be buried, covered with 'vegetation', and any bits left showing must be disguised with wooden cladding. The whole area must also be surrounded by hedging. In other words the authorities perfectly understand how pig-ugly it will be, and he must do his best to hide them from the rest of us. That's as far as their recommendations go.

No consideration has been given to the fact that our tiny hamlet is composed of very beautiful ancient vernacular stone-built houses. As far as we are all concerned, his project is an eyesore. OK, we may have lost Round 1, but we ain't finished!

Personally I have gone overboard to ensure that all my building work is in harmony with local style, and that materials used are sourced from locals artisans. Then along comes someone who totally ignores such things. It makes me wonder why I bloody bothered.

As usual I mention no names in such circumstances, but I am very tempted to do so. We are all fucking annoyed!



Monday, 23 October 2017

Sunday lunch.



I quite expect this was our last 'fresh' Cèpe omelet of the year. Our anticipated Autumn crop didn't materialise, other than just one or two stragglers.

From now on our mushroom omelets will be made with conserves; not that different, but they lack the thrill of the hunt.

There's always next year!



Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Skatalites - Dynamite


Go on; roll yourself a dodgy cigarette, and enjoy some relaxing Ska time with the Skatalites.

I'm not sure quite why it ends so abruptly!





Saturday, 21 October 2017

BUTTER.



There is a butter shortage in France. Where once was a butter mountain, there is now a butter black hole.

Not a single pack of butter in the shops yesterday!

So, what has happened? Well it seems as if there are two reasons. Firstly, like most of my farming neighbours, none of them can be bothered to produce milk only to make a loss, and secondly it seems as if China has suddenly found a taste for French butter, and the big dairies are cashing-in.

No butter rich croissants at the bakers, Lady Magnon will no longer make crumbles, and even our Christmas cake had been put on hold.

Obviously I blame young Macron, and if things don't change by Monday I shall take matters into my own hands. 

To the barricades mes amis!




Friday, 20 October 2017

Oxy-morons? A peaceful walk in the countryside with 100 others.



I have never understood the desire to go 'Collective Rambling', especially of the type where people carry ski sticks.

Surely a walk in the country should be relaxed, taken at one's own pace, and in reasonable meditational solitude.

This lot above (there were many more behind) passed by our house recently. They all looked miserable as they 'marched' at a military pace, all looking straight ahead as if desperate to reach their destination as quickly as possible. They seemed to take no pleasure from being out in the peace and quiet of the countryside.

I usually go for a couple of walks every day; weather permitting. Bok joins me, and we go where our noses lead us. We take our time, and are as happy to walk 5 kms, as we are to walk 20.

There was a sense of determination about the people above. They were there to take sensible outdoor exercise, and to follow a prescribed route; not to be seen to be enjoying themselves. For them, walking was not for enjoyment, but for achievement. I quite expect they all wore pedometers, stopwatches, and heart monitors. They will no doubt all return to their urban homes to record in their efficient 'log-books' where they went, how far it was, and what rotten bloody sandwiches they ate for lunch. Not one of them will have noticed any fauna or flora, or even what the weather was like.

They might, of course, consider my style of walking as ramshackle and aimless, but that's how I think it should be.



Thursday, 19 October 2017

The throw of a dice.



Some things are best decided by the throw of a dice, or the spin of a coin. Personally I prefer my home-made dice.

It can be anything as simple as which route to take for my morning walk, or if I should prepare Pork rather than Chicken for supper. If I can't make my mind up about something; the dice will do it for me.

Last Friday, for example, I was undecided about visiting a particular distant town; between 1 and 3 was 'yes', and between 4 and 6 was 'no'. I threw a 5, so we stayed at home. It was a lovely day, and we took full advantage.

However, yesterday we did go to the town in question, but by determination rather than 'chance'. Each method has its moments.



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Holiday Souvenirs.


Both my immediate neighbours are off on their holidays; one lot to London, the others to Marrakech.

I've never bought a Straw Donkey from Spain, nor a foam Stetson from the US, but I have returned home from holidays with some quite interesting stuff.

I once returned from the US with a man in front of me on the 'plane wearing about 10 foam Stetsons piled one on top of the other! What a plonker.

We always used to buy strange, interesting looking, foods. I remember once buying small tins of Thrushes in sauce, which were not terribly nice (or PC), and I also remember my mother getting very excited over the purchase of a big, very decorative, 5 litre can of expensive Greek Olive Oil, which turned out to contain big fat green olives in brine. Her knowledge of Greek was zero; but the tin, and the olives were nice anyway!


These rustic dishes (above) come from the tiny Balearic Island of Formentera. I would have bought more but I didn't trust the baggage handlers. I've now had them for over 40 years, and we still use them daily.

                            

And these Olive wood stacking Egg Cups from the Italian Riviera seemed like a very good idea at the time, but don't get used too often. Even so, they haven't joined all those donkeys and stetsons at the tip, and remain prospectively useful. I wouldn't encourage people to buy tinned Thrushes, but there are plenty of other tinned delights awaiting you.

I've bought Argan and Patchouli Oils in Morocco, strange small 'stamped' metal depictions of ears, noses, and eyes, from Greece, and some wonderful 17th C wood carvings from Palma (which went directly to Sotheby's, and paid for the trip many times over).

Part of the fun of travel is what one brings back.

It's very nice to go trav'ling
to Paris London or Rome
Bla bla bla
But it's so much nicer to come home (with some half-decent souvenirs).


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

With Tears in my Eyes.



The end-of-year C word seems to have been resurrected recently, so it's time to think of what will accompany our cold Turkey.

There are two main pickles I associate with our winter feasts; onions and red cabbage. As we are now less than 90 days away from the big feasting and fattening season, I have begun the preparations by starting with the pickled onions.

I cannot envisage my Boxing Day slices of cold Turkey without a few pickled onions.

The small onions were peeled (with lachrymose difficulty), put into a light brine for 24 hours, then bottled in spiced wine vinegar with some sugar. I don't bother with weights and measures when it comes to such things; I do it by eye, and memory.

The pickled red cabbage will be prepared about two weeks before the big day, otherwise it loses its freshness colour and crunch.

I'm almost beginning to feel 'festive' (no I'm not).



Monday, 16 October 2017

Spurs v Bournemouth.



I've only been to one professional Football match in my life, and that was at Brighton & Hove Albion, back in the 1960's. I can't remember who they played.

The noise was so loud that I had a headache for a week.

On Saturday, Kimbo and Ollie went to watch Spurs playing Bournemouth. I'm not a big Football fan, but I do kinda support both Chelsea and Brighton, because they're the only places I've lived that have decent teams.

Ollie was given the Spurs tickets by his school, and as you can probably see, they were way up in the gods.

The score was Spurs 1 Bournemouth 0. Predictable.

My son-in-law is in the UK at the moment, and no doubt he'll be going to watch Arsenal while he's there. He's a fan-atic! I see that they lost against Watford; so he won't be happy.




Sunday, 15 October 2017

Amanita Caesarea.



Most serious mycologists will tell you that the very finest of mushrooms are the above; Amanita Caesarea, known here as the 'Orange'.

As the name suggests, it was Caesar's favourite mushroom. It has a very fine and delicate flavour, but is not common. Lady Magnon came upon these two yesterday by chance.

Known in Italy as the 'Ovolo', it is highly appreciated throughout southern Europe; with good reason!


Lucky is he, or she, who has one of these with their breakfast fried egg; as did I yesterday.


Saturday, 14 October 2017

Villefranche-du-Périgord, site remarquable du goût


The first of our local Autumn Chestnut Fairs takes place this afternoon (St Caprais), when every possible use for the humble fruit is celebrated.

I've mentioned before that I live in a serious Chestnut Growing Area, the centre of which is the ancient small town of Villefranche du Perigord (founded in 1270); just 7 kms away.

It's where I go on Saturday mornings to the tiny market. It also has some pleasant cafés, shops, bakers, and restaurants.

Here is a short film praising everything that is 'Chestnut'. It also shows a small glimpse of the town itself. The small bakery at 1.00 is where we buy our Saturday bread.





Friday, 13 October 2017

Surprised again; shocked even!



My wonderful children (yes they are) continue to surprise me.

Some while back Wills (above) surprised me by speaking fluent, and what sounded like, near perfect German whilst booking an hotel room in Frankfurt. I had no idea that he could speak anything other than just English and French.

Now he has surprised me again by showing a sudden interest in Sailing. Not only is he learning all about how to make boats do what you want them to do, and go where you want them to go, he is also planning world trips in a two masted ketch; which he has yet to buy. 

I must say; I thoroughly approve of this new hobby, I just hope he invites me along as crew. Me and Boo Boo could catch and cook the fish.

I also hope he buys himself a yacht with no holes in the hull (seriously!).



Thursday, 12 October 2017

EC Regulations.



On 17th September (not even a month ago) I reported that the nice egg man at our nearby market was now following new EU regulations, and was stamping his eggs with some silly nonsense that told us where they came from, and when they were laid, etc (if we could be bothered to decipher the smudged red writing).

Well, I'm pleased to report that in true French style, the new regulations are already being ignored, and my last Saturday's purchase of eggs (above) were all STAMP FREE!

For a moment I'd imagined the French were becoming lackeys to Brussels' bureaucrats, but my faith has been restored. 

Aux armes citoyens, formez vos bataillons. Marchons, marchons. No more red stamping on local free range eggs!

If next Saturday I see him being hauled off to the Guillotine; I'll let you know.



Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Jam pots.



When Lady Magnon bottles her annual supply of Apricot and Strawberry jams, invariably she uses old 'Bonne Maman' pots; I'm sure you know the ones, they have gingham tops (see below).

However, before Bonne Maman cornered the commercial jam market, people used purpose-made jam pots, which were coveted, and used year after year.

In my more esoteric days, I used to buy antique jam pots. I liked the idea of such things having held home-made jams over several generations. I seriously considered the age and aesthetics of such objects could only improve the quality of the contents, and in a way I think I was right.


I used to have quite a lot of them. No doubt they are still around somewhere, but gawd knows where!

Anyway, here are our current Bonne Maman pots.They're not a patch on the old ones which are very chunky and heavy; they had real jam kudos about them.



Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Autumn 2017.



Suddenly morning temperatures dropped to frost warning levels. I think it was simply a false alarm, and I certainly didn't rush to bring all my Butternuts inside. I'm an optimist.

It isn't light here until around 8 am, so unless I wish to take Bok for his morning walk in the dark, I just have to wait. This is a temporary nuisance, but I expect the clocks will change quite soon.

This view (above) took my breath away yesterday. The low sun was so bright as it flooded along the little path behind the house, that my cheap camera could hardly cope with the brightness.

So, it's cool mornings, clear skies, and warm afternoons. I haven't yet lit an evening fire, but I quite expect Lady Magnon will be complaining before long.

For the moment I'm on top of all my tasks. I'll probably have a Flu' jab at the end of the month. Traps and poison have been laid for Winter-holiday-making rodents, and I have bought extra lots of flour, rice, pasta, and butter in readiness for the Winter siege. 

All early Autumn boxes are ticked.



Monday, 9 October 2017

Cro's Style Awards, No 6.



This is a one man style statement.

33 year old Kim Jong-Un has carved himself a unique place in the style stakes.

From his really bizarre hairstyle, to his unique glasses, and his even more bizarre suits, he has now taken things to further extremes with his over-wide over-long trousers.

I can't see his style being copied, but well done Kim for going it alone.

A true 'original'.




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