Along with my regular wood piles I also had a few hefty Oak tree trunks lying around, that have been awaiting some enthusiasm.
The one in the foreground that I'd just cut in two, weighed almost as much as a Mini, and I was obliged to use various winching methods just to release it from the ground where it'd been lying for the past few years.
This one (above) weighed more like a London bus, and took a lot of shifting.
So, as the weather was perfect, and most other outdoor work has drawn to a halt, I decided that now was the moment to tackle the beasts.
There were three very heavy tree-trunks in all, that when processed will provide logs for at least a couple of weeks.
Not to be sniffed at; although lugging sawing and splitting in 31 C heat was possibly a bit foolish. Thank goodness for the pool.
Much has been written about this man in recent times, but he warrants more.
Justin Welby is a bit of a fire-brand. The Eton and Trinity educated, ex-oil executive cleric, has recently become quite self-righteously outspoken.
He has become an open critic of the tax affairs of Amazon; forgetting that his own business (of which he's the boss) invests very heavily in the on-line company.
In my short Stock Exchange career, the company for whom I worked (as a blue button, trainee broker) was one of about four who held accounts for The Church of England Commissioners. They held HUGE portfolios, and traded vast amounts almost daily. We, as their minions, were sworn to secrecy about their trading. No mention was allowed of any deals; upon pain of death. It was taken very seriously. They were, and are, very astute investors!
The church itself pays no tax, employs people on 'zero hours contracts', and places its vast wealth where they hope it will bring the greatest returns; they are classic Capitalists. I have nothing against all that, but to then spout Socialist nonsense about others who do the same is just plain hypocrisy.
Addressing a Trades Union meeting about how nasty the system is, may bring you applause from a gathering of Marxists, but for the rest of us it simply makes him look like just another cleric who should concentrate more on his 'gods and devils' rather than economics.
Of course we should ALL criticise those huge international companies who avoid paying their fair-share of tax, but we should make sure that our own house is in order first!
p.s. The Arch-hypocrite of Canterbury has also just evicted some Syrian refugees from his palace. The family of two adults and their four small school-age children have been 'discretely moved' to another, less fashionable, part of London. Hmmmm.
Lady M: "Cro, can you give me a hand setting the combination lock on my new flight case?"
Cro: "OK, but you know what I'm like with hi-tech wizardry".
Lady M: "In which case you'd better look at the instructions".
Cro: "Looks easy enough".
At this point Cro sets required secret number, fiddles with small plastic bits, turns keys, and sits back, satisfied with a job well done.
Then, of course, the bloody thing won't re-open. We try everything, but it's locked solid, and the new combination numbers refuse to accept that they have any relationship to the wretched suitcase whatsoever. It's a bloody disaster. We stare at it in disbelief.
Cro: "I think I've got the answer. The Irish screwdriver".
Lady M: "If you must!".
A hefty blow to the lock with a heavy bolster, and it flies open. We both cheer. I saw off the locking device, paint any scuffed bits with black paint, and return it to Lady M who is perfectly satisfied that it now locks simply with a key; and no stupid combination number to worry about.
It's what any experienced airport baggage handler would have done whilst no-one was looking!
I never imagined for one moment that I would ever agree with anything proposed by Labour's Shadow Chancellor John Mcdonnell (above), but I have been proved wrong. On this occasion his wisdom is unparalleled.
He's declared that when (if) Corbyn is replaced as leader of The Labour Party, it should be by a woman.
Of course it should Johnny, and I have just the person. Yes; the fragrant, and highly capable, Diane Abbott; of course!
This would make a seamless transfer of roles, from Shadow Home Secretary to Leader of her party.
He's sold his kennel, packed his Pedigree biscuits and chews, and is heading for foreign fields.
Ever since he started travelling, he's had itchy paws. Now he's decided to take his bed, his tennis ball, his brush, and his two pets (Sue and Paul), and is heading for England, and pastures new.
I know he'll miss his native S W France, the weather, and the Chestnut woods, but he's exchanging all that for an exciting new life in Lincolnshire (that's just above the roundish sticking-out bit on the right hand side of England).
So, goodbye Rick. It was good knowing you; if all too briefly.
On Sundays I buy our bread for the week at a bakery about 10 kms away. On the way there I take the main road, but on the way back I usually go through the woods. The view above is on the way home.
Over the past few months an elderly man has been cutting trees, splitting logs, and creating these beautiful log piles.
Looking down from the road above I could see that he was taking real pride in his work, and now that his work is finished, I decided to stop the car, and walk down to have a look.
OK, it's only a log pile, but the pride that he took in the way he stacked the logs is worthy of commendation. The lines are perfectly straight, the height perfect, and the stacking as efficient as possible.
Today (Saturday) we'd been looking forward to visiting friends at a nearby village, and witness the working of their communal bread oven, similar to the one below. Unfortunately our plans had to be changed and our visit was cancelled.
This particular oven (below) is at St Roman de Codieres , north of Montpellier, but is much the same as the one we'd planned to visit. Our first house here had its own similar huge bread oven, but we never used it. I regret that now.
The video is a bit long (5 mins); but very relaxing in its way.
Known mostly for her appearances in the Carry On films, Ms Fielding was amongst that great portfolio of British film 'character actors'; roles for whom have now been almost exclusively relegated to TV.
Back in 1971 Ms Fielding offered 'An Evening With....' performance in a small room above The William Cobbett pub' in Farnham. For someone of her calibre, it seemed a strange location for a show. There must have been about 20 people (max) in the audience. It was a very intimate affair.
Lady Magnon was heavily pregnant at the time, and we laughed so much during the show, that she was later rushed to hospital, where our oldest son soon arrived.
I can never hear her name, or see her photo, without linking those two events.
Ms Fielding died on Tuesday, aged 90.
p.s. If you believed her to have been Marty Feldman's sister (as I did for a while); she wasn't. It was just a bit of 'Fake News'.
My old mate Jock Veitch was a journalist, and at one time in his career had been a medical writer for The Star newspaper of New York. It was through this mutual role of medical correspondent that he had met, and became friends with, Kristen White (above).
I, myself, met Kristen several times at Jock's house here in France, spending wonderful evenings sitting beside her at dinner. She was a charming, attractive, and fascinating woman; the perfect guest at one of Jock's regular drawn-out gastronomic soirées. We became instant friends; she was the sort of person one warms to at once, and doesn't forget.
On the 11th of September 2001 Kristen was sitting in seat number 21C of United Airways flight No 93; her aim was to fly to San Francisco; in fact her life ended in a field in Shanksville Pennsylvania at 10.03 am, at the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists.
It is thought that the terrorists had intended to crash Flight 93 into either The Capitol or The White House. There was a scuffle on board between passengers and terrorists (I like to think that Kristin did her bit), and the terrorists decided to abandon their vile mission and simply crash.
17 years have now passed, and I continue to think of poor Kristin. Her life was not intended to end like that, nor were those of the other 3000 innocent victims who also died that day.
RIP Kristin. Our paths crossed only briefly but you left your mark, and I think of you often. Cro xx
I don't wish to criticise either this magazine or the plump model on its cover; I wish simply to reflect on its reasoning, and welcome your opinions.
Women's magazines come under various headings, there are fashion mags, home mags, and lifestyle mags; I believe that Cosmo comes under the latter.
Quite what they intended to convey by putting this lady's photo on the front cover, I don't know.
It's certainly not a fashion statement; I can't imagine anyone thinking her swimming costume looks particularly nice. I doubt if it has much to do with her tattoos (including Miss Piggy), as, frankly, they look hackneyed and bog-standard. So we must presume that Cosmo is promoting her as some type of 'style icon', to be admired and imitated. However, I quite expect she will attract more sniggers than gasps of feminine approval.
Fat people usually claim that they are very happy 'within themselves', but one thing I can guarantee is that every time this lady looks in the mirror she will be wishing she was slim. To deny that; would be to lie.
Personally I don't think she looks particularly attractive. She has a pleasant face and nice hair, but the rest is a disaster. Should she be paraded on the front cover of an influential magazine? I don't think so; but, of course, the magazine isn't intended for people such as me!
When I look at her picture, I find myself simply looking at her size. Was that really their intention?
It's not been a good year here for Apples; it's been far too hot, and far too dry. We have just a few Bramleys, and these ones. I'd not heard of Jonagold before I bought my tree, but it came highly recommended by my nurserywoman.
I planted our tree in March of 2013, and this year has been its first pukka fruiting year.
These are BIG apples. The flesh is quite firm, and the flavour is excellent. I think I made a good choice.
We haven't yet tried them as cooking apples, but I have a feeling they will be very good.
I need to plant another couple of Apple trees this winter/spring, one of which will probably be a Golden Delicious; not sure yet what the other will be; maybe a Braeburn.
The Sunflowers have now mostly been harvested, leaving fields of unruly stubble in their wake. I expect these will be turned brown-side-up before too long.
Elsewhere the Chestnut plantations are being mowed, ready for the major harvest of the year. The gathering of Chestnuts is hard work and lengthy. The primitive machines that now do much of the work will be receiving their annual dose of WD40 and a quick wipe with a damp rag, and the anti-Wild Boar electric fences are all in place.
The Chasseurs will be cleaning their guns, filling-up the petrol tanks of their Renault Express cars, and making sure their camouflaged jackets still fit. There has not been nearly enough rain for Cèpes, but we may find a few Parasols on our walks.
I love September. It is still warm, the sun shines, and there is expectation in the air.
Anyone thinking of coming on holiday here should certainly chose the first two weeks of September.
I don't remember the first day at my Prep' School, but I do remember the first day at my Upper School.
As 'new boys' we were ascribed a 'junior common room' rather than a study, and all 15 (or so) of us new boys assembled there; nervously shuffling in our brand new, crisp, school uniforms. None of us knew anyone else, and I found myself naturally searching-out those who, like myself, were southerners. It seemed as good a way as any to make friends, looking for others who had something in common.
There were five of us who hailed from south of Watford; Po lived in Tehran although was originally from Sussex, Nick was from Pinner, Alan was from Park Lane (very posh), Monty was from Wentworth, and I was from the south coast. These became, and remained, my closest friends.
We were extremely nervous. We'd all read Tom Brown's School Days and were expecting cruel Flashman-like seniors to be on the prowl for boys to thrash and bully.
Finding one's way around was extremely complicated, but was helped by the publication of this tiny almanack which we were obliged to carry with us at all times. This gave times of lessons, cathedral services to be attended, mealtimes, names and addresses of teachers, various societies, occasional films, sports, and weekly events. No excuse for lateness would ever be accepted.
I remember those first few weeks with real trepidation. We were all desperately trying to look as if we knew what we were doing; but didn't. We had entered a whole new world.
I feel very sorry for children who are going through the same thing this week. I just hope their experiences aren't as harrowing as mine.
And yes; I've still got my tiny almanack from all those years ago.
Our Summer vegs are still performing well, but my attention is now focused more on our winter Brassicas.
At this season I am always reminded to 'eat vegetables as soon as they're edible', and that is already the case with our two varieties of Kale. The Curly Kale, and the Italian Cavolo Nero are both edible, even though the plants are still in their infancy. If the lower leaves aren't eaten, they will simply die off and be wasted.
In the top left of the photo are the tall stems of my newly dedicated Jerusalem Artichoke patch. I haven't yet delved under the soil but I'm hoping for great things. In the foreground are my Aubergines, that are suddenly having a second flourish, and are covered in both fruits and flowers.
Still quite warm here, and still no decent rain. It's amazing that anything has grown at all, but I'm approaching winter with confidence.
I suppose that aches and pains go side by side with ageing. We can expect a certain amount of discomfort as we advance in years.
I've suffered from back pain for many years, but a recent 'flare-up' sent me for essential afternoon siestas, on the hope that lying still might prove to suppress it; it didn't. Getting off the bed again was even more painful and drawn-out. There seemed to be no escape.
I took pills when the pain became severe; they didn't work. I went on even longer walks than usual, hoping that exercise might help; it didn't. I swam twice my usual number of lengths, hoping that cold water might numb the pain; no luck there either.
So, I just have to accept that I'll probably be in some pain for the rest of my life. Hopefully it will be of the mild variety, but no doubt sprinkled with occasional bouts of severe.
My problems are of no importance in comparison with many, and I really shouldn't complain, but it has become something that I really wasn't expecting to accompany my dotage, and I find it more depressing than debilitating!
In my case it's all probably my own bloody fault. All those years of 'bravado', lifting ridiculously heavy stones (when I worked as a stone cutter) have taken their toll.
I'm so pissed off by all the brexit in-fighting and back-stabbing that I've devised my own 'white paper'.
Right Mrs May, let's have no more mucking about; go and tell those overpaid Brussels bullies that all negotiations are now over. Finito.
No handing over our tens of billions, no trade agreements, and no customs union. From today we are finished with them, and if they wish to continue selling all their cars, washing machines, and beer to the UK, they had better hot-foot to Westminster and start reciprocal negotiations pretty bloody quick, otherwise we'll all be driving Cadillacs, drinking Budweiser, swapping Airbus for Boeing, and wearing Ralph Lauren T Shirts.
And by the way, all that money we've paid in since 1973 to build those fancy EU buildings in Brussels and elsewhere, we'll now be selling back our share of them to the rest of you, and we'll want paying 'pronto'. Everything else we've paid-for, for the use of the EU big-wigs, will be sold-off later.
Mrs M, I seem to remember you once saying "brexit means brexit", so come on; pull your bloody finger out! We're becoming extremely bored with the whole wretched process. Brexit shouldn't mean limp, drawn out, cow-towing, brexit. It should mean strong, tell 'em what's-what brexit. Take control!
I believe that the EU exports a staggering £341 Billion worth of goods to the UK annually; 53% of all UK imports. Now if that ain't the finest thumb-screw to negotiate with, I don't know what is!
Make them come to you; not you go cap-in-hand to them. Enough is enough.
Looking at the long term weather forecast, I see that the days of 30+ temps are now over.
It'll be September by the weekend, and although it heralds Autumn, it's always been one of my favourite months (along with June).
September brings Mushrooms, Chestnuts and Chasse; it is usually a reasonably warm, calm, month. An intermediate month between the heat of Summer, and the oncoming cold of Winter, when the angst of high Summer is replaced by the relaxation of intermediacy.
We shall have plenty more days between 25 C and 30 C, but any swimming will probably be accompanied by a small shudder.
No long trousers for a while yet, but we will certainly be checking on the whereabouts of our wellies, scarves, and gloves. No fires yet either, but suppliers of wood will be reminded that our stocks need replenishing.
I can almost smell the aroma of Bourguignon, Ragoût, and Tagines. Change is definitely in the air.
Bottling Figs is child's play. They are trimmed of their stems, pricked two or three times with the point of a knife, and dropped into boiling water for about 4 minutes.
They are then cooled in ice-cold water before being placed in their jars. Personally I use 500 gm jars, and place as many as possible in each jar (9-12). The jars are then topped-up with a syrup made from 500 mls water to 300 gms sugar, plus some lemon juice and armagnac.
When sealed, the jars are sterilised for an hour, then left to cool in the water.
This is the result. Fabulous in mid-winter with a big dollop of thick cream! The syrup is pretty good too.
All our 10 Fig trees are dripping with fruit, and just two jars isn't going to change much, but it does make me feel very slightly less wasteful. I'll probably do some more.
Time can be a great healer, but it can also be a great destroyer.
When I bought my first home here (in 1972, aged 25), our corner of the village was as close to perfect as one could hope. Our delightful neighbours leant over backwards to be of help (we attempted to do the same for them), and the general atmosphere was one of calm and tranquility. It was everything I had sought for my burgeoning family to grow and flourish. A bucolic haven fit for the most discerning.
This continued until just a few years ago, when a different atmosphere began to infiltrate the calm of our tiny hamlet. These were newcomers who seemed to care very little for country ways, and, in some cases, even the ways of acceptable behaviour.
It's very sad when one has to inform new neighbours that they have become personae non gratae because of their bad behaviour, but occasionally one simply has no other option.
An area can either change for the better or for the worse; but change it will, and to try to regain that calm of the past is impossible. Once lost, there's no going back. Maybe 46 years in the same place is too long.
We now have to cherish those traditions which have remained much the same. In our 46 year residency, it would be naive to think that nothing would change; maybe we should have changed with it, but, frankly, stooping down to that level has never been an option.
More and more, I find myself looking back to earlier times when our community really was a 'community'. Sadly it's now only memories. From May to September it was all go, and everyone mucked-in together to bring in the hay, or pick grapes; and later to gather chestnuts. None of this now happens. In 1972 some of our neighbours were still ploughing with Oxen.
To make matters worse, with the ghastly shipping containers having been dumped at the new 'holiday village' behind us, a slight depression temporarily blanketed our little hamlet. What was simply a project has now become reality, and yet another part of our tranquility has been taken away.
I shall remain my quiet, happy, and hermit-like self, and treat any trifling bad atmosphere as no more than an 'inconvenience'. All I have to do is to sit back and look at the beauty of my surroundings, and my spirits are instantly lifted.
A month ago we changed our pool's filter. Nothing special about that!
If you understand pool systems, you will know that after each cleaning (vacuuming) session the dirty water has to be expelled, using what is called a 'backwash'.
For some bizarre reason, after my pool man had replaced the filter (the big grey thing), he left the main evacuation pipe closed. You can see in the picture that I took at the time that the vertical pipe in the middle has its blue valve turned to Off (On is in line with the pipe; Off is at right angles).
I hadn't noticed his mistake, and for the past month I've been returning all the vacuumed dirty water straight back into the pool. My pool man is like me; getting old and forgetful.
No wonder all my hard work seemed to be of no avail.
I have never held back from my criticism of the Catholic church and their protection of wayward priests; and I shan't here!
Revelations continue, and a court in Pennsylvania (USA) has recently condemned 300 Catholic priests over the sexual abuse of 'possibly' thousands of children, both male and female.
This abuse, as elsewhere, has been systematically covered-up by the church's hierarchy, and one can but wonder if details of the appalling world-wide abuse have not been officially hushed-up by the Pope himself (the buck always stops in the Vatican). Chilean authorities have been trying for years to get information from the Vatican about nine Catholic priests who allegedly abused 38 children; it's like trying to get blood from a stone!
It's hard to believe that this despicable sexual abuse of children continues to be practised by men who act in the name of some ridiculous non-existent deity.
So, who is to blame? Well, the Catholic church's job description for priests includes being male and a 'confirmed bachelor'; not a good idea.
Also to blame are all those who regularly give money to the church; without money to move people around, and pay bribes, the abuses would have been far less extensive.
With such behaviour so entrenched in the lives of Catholic priests, it would be difficult to find a disciplinary committee who would have insisted on expulsions.
Plying children with alcohol, raping them, making porn' films, and forcing them into oral sex, is just the tip of the iceberg. Dig a little deeper, and I'm certain one might find even more serious crimes.
Dressing up in black frocks should no longer be a sign of authority and piety; it should be seen as part of an evil and corrupt institution.
There is still so little done to bring these horrible people to justice, in years to come this will be seen as one of the age's most disgraceful omissions.
Total Eclipse of the Blog
Hello, dear readers! Are you in the path of the eclipse? Did you buy the
special glasses? I am sort of in the path and bought glasses . . . however
1 year 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 46 years I've lived in S W France. I am a painter by profession, and writer by desire. Lady Magnon and I live in an ancient cottage, in a tiny village, in perfectly tranquil countryside. We have a vegetable garden called 'Haddock's' (this may crop up from time to time), a Border Collie/Black Lab' 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!