You will need to enlarge this photo to see what I'm talking about.
The tiny island of Formentera used to be one of my favourite holiday destinations. Very few people knew it existed, and it wasn't easy to reach. If I was looking for peace and quiet in a spectacular location; it was where I went.
Everyone knows of Majorca, Minorca, and Ibiza, but the tiny island of Formentera, to the south of Ibiza, remained a semi-secret.
In the days when I visited, the small bay (above) of Cala Sahona was almost deserted, and the restaurant on the right (with red roof) was no more than a shaded shack with a simple barbecue. Even in the height of summer there were rarely more than a dozen people on the beach.
Now I notice that the beach is littered with parasols, there's hardly room to move, and the small hostel where I used to stay, has since become a large fancy hotel.
The King of Spain used to moor his yacht in the bay, and swim in the crystal clear waters. But these days I expect the smell of Ambre Solaire is overwhelming, and no doubt Pedalos make swimming hazardous.
It's rather saddening to see how much it's changed and become just another package holiday destination; it used to be quite special.
On one of my trips I built quite a large tumulus (or Cairn) on the rocky cliffs overlooking the sea to the right of the picture. It took me two weeks of hard graft to build it; I wonder if it's still there?
Sometimes when I look into his eyes, nothing else in the world matters.
Trump can build his walls, Corbyn can dream of Lenin, and LePen can jump off the Eiffel Tower. I couldn't give a monkeys'.
It's easy to think of dogs as just four legs, a nose, and a bottomless stomach, but they are very complex creatures. I'm sure that Bok understands that he's not one of us humans, but he knows his job and shows utter devotion to his extended 'pack'.
I was sitting with him yesterday morning, just before I took his photo, and I could feel a really strong relationship between us; stronger even that one might have with direct family. He looks at me with total confidence, and knows that, come what may, we'll make sure he's well looked after.
He's been in heaven with the boys here; they adore him too.
It'd be interesting to know exactly what goes on inside his head; but maybe not.
Christmas comes but twice a year (or more if we feel inclined).
What's the one thing you really don't need when preparing Christmas Dinner? That's it;... a bloody power cut!
With gale force winds lashing S W France on Sunday (and yesterday) it was almost bound to happen. The electricity failed just after lunch.
Luckily we have our wonderful wood-fired cooker 'George', so at 3.30 pm I fired him up, and the day was saved.
George is more designed for casseroles than roasts as his temperature control is a bit hit-n-miss, but all was OK. I have a small wooden wedge to hold open the oven door when the temperature gets too high, and extra logs are thrown into his belly when it drops. The Turkey roasted perfectly.
We also had a pleasant St Emilion Grand Cru, some of Lady Magnon's wonderful home made Cranberry sauce, and one of Prince Charles's Plum Puddings. All very nice.
We ate by candle-light (even though the power did eventually return).
It's never wise to predict the arrival of Spring, but we have Daffs beginning to poke their heads above ground, apparently Cranes have been seen overhead, returning to their breeding grounds, and our Prunus tree buds (in this case a small red fleshed Plum) are swelling.
It's at this time of year that the Peaches also start to think about flowering, and Mother Nature can be a right bitch.
Plenty of warm daytime sunshine and they are fooled into thinking it's OK to flower, then along she comes and throws some -6 C temperatures at them; and no fruit for another year.
It's for this reason that I try to plant late flowering varieties of all our fruit trees.
C'est la vie!
p.s. With another grandchild about to arrive, my thoughts have turned to what fruit tree I will plant to mark the event; I always plant a tree on the day of arrival.
I recently bought some apples from my favourite supermarket; they were a new variety to me called Pink Kiss.
They are delicious. Medium sweet, very perfumed, a pleasant crunch, good flavour, and a fabulous colour; what more could one ask for!
I went hot-foot to my horticultural supplier, and she disappointingly informed me that they are not available. They are sold only in large numbers to commercial growers. I will have to wait several years for them to come on the market.
Having not mis-spent my youth, I know nothing about the inner workings of a motor car, other than how to clean spark plugs, where to put petrol, and how to meaningfully kick tyres.
However, I do recognise a rattling noise when I hear one.
Some time back I'd had to have some major work done to The Compact Royce; noise was coming from somewhere amongst the back wheels. There's a long metal rod inside the bit that connects the two back wheels that was making a noise on the right hand side, and it took a stonking €500 to fix.
Recently I heard a similar noise coming from the back left hand side, so I took it to my man for another €500's worth.
Luckily he found that in fact the new noise was coming from the front, and replaced the offending part for under €200 (a short rod with two rubber ends).
So, I now have a bonus of €300 burning a hole in my pocket.
The echo of my huge sign of relief is still bouncing around outdoors.
Certain things from way back to my very young age now seem almost archaic.
When I first went to school, I went by bus. From Lingfield, I travelled to East Grinstead to my pre-Prep' school, then to Ashurst Wood to my Prep' school. Later from aged about 7 onwards, I boarded.
I loved those times spent on the top of a bus. There was one particular farm where I always watched out for their huge Turkeys, there was an enormous Monkey Puzzle tree on the way into East Grinstead that kept me fascinated for years, and I swear blind that I once saw King George VI standing by a bus stop somewhere en route, and for ever after looked out for him again.
Bus conductors were usually quite cheery folk. When I was very small they looked after me, and when I was a little older they watched me like a hawk.
Tickets came in long wooden clips that looked like multiple mouse traps filled with bits of printed cardboard. The destination was given and a ticket released from it's sprung clip, a small amount of money changed hands, and a hole was punched in the ticket. It was all very hands-on, simple, and civilised.
Today's children, on hearing this, might imagine that the bus was also pulled by horses, but no such luck; and we didn't wear doublets and hose either!
I'm not supposed to eat too much bread, but with our choice of wonderful bakers in the vicinity, it's difficult to deprive oneself.
Bread has been through rough times in the recent past. There was an era when 'ease of baking' was the byword, and unscrupulous manufacturers were selling oven-ready dough to small village bakers everywhere. These small bakers were only too pleased to take advantage, and the quality of bread suffered dreadfully.
I'm pleased to say that over the past 10-15 years there has been a total turn-around, and once again bakers are taking a real pride in their bread.
It used to be that just a handful of bakers within a 10 Km radius were worth visiting; now there are dozens.
At market yesterday morning, how could we resist a few sourdough baguettes, and a small lump of Duck Rillettes for lunch; as well as our usual dozen double-yolker eggs, of course.
Anyone who has been watching James Martin's French Adventure on TV might have seen the edition from this area last Friday.
I have to admit to being something of a hoarder. Certain things I just can't face throwing away.
And this is one.... My old Prep' school Rugby colours cap from about 1960. I loved Rugby, I played for my Prep' school, my upper school, and for a short while for a club on the South coast.
I can't remember a lot about my club Rugby days, as I was simply a Saturday afternoon player. I was working and living in London, and took the train down to Sussex specially for the games. I seem to remember that I played for the 2nd XV.
What I do remember, however, was that we played against teams such as London Welsh, London Irish, and Croydon (thugs); some of the toughest southern teams around at the time. We won all three games; but not without injuries.
Eventually, after noticing that I always had a limp or a black eye every Monday morning, one of the partners in the stockbroking firm for whom I worked, suggested that it might be best to stop playing; I followed his advice.
Diabetes is tedious. It's not something that makes you feel permanently unwell, it simply has to be managed properly.
Yesterday was my once-every-3-months-day. Blood test, and visit to The Quack to renew all my drugs.
I don't like having needles stuck into my flesh, nor do I like seeing all my blood being drained away into several small phials. I do appreciate that they do need to see what real quality blood looks like, but I wish they'd drain it from someone else.
As for my visit to The Doc's... The waiting room is no less than a concentration of evil germs. Coughing, spluttering, wheezing, and even a few old timers talking to their invisible best friends, it's an overheated, time wasting, nightmare.
As for The Doc' himself, he's a pleasant man who asks me how I am, tells me I'm a tad overweight, then accepts his fee with dignity. He also gives me a bit of paper which allows me to buy my expensive drugs from an attractive nearby young pharmacist; we only meet four times a year, so I don't see any future for us.
Diabetes is the fashionable ailment of our age. Almost everyone has it, and no-one really complains. We watch our diets (when we remember), take our pills, and cross our fingers that we go neither blind or gangrenous.
I've decided to take slightly more notice of my diabetes; I'd like to lose some of the post-festivities weight, and aim to change my diet to somewhere around 50/50 veggie/carnivore.
I have another 3 months in which to make my radical changes show, when my next blood test will reveal all.
We went with friends to the Scallop festival in Whitianga; a charming
seaside town in the Coromandal District.
Had a great time...5000 people, lots of wine...
3 years ago
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 is very welcome.
I was born just south of London, but for the past 44 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), a Border Collie cross called Bok, a cat called Freddie, 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!