It may not surprise you, but certain Scottish 'specialities' are not readily available in France.
So, another of my Amazon follies is this 6 pack of tinned Haggis, which has just arrived (I still had one tin in store).
I know that the very name 'Haggis' brings a shiver to many a sassenach's taste buds, but let me assure you that this stuff is absolutely bloody delicious.
Imagine a slightly spiced, coarsely ground, peppery, Paté. Cut into 2 cm slices, and fried for about 6 mins, so that each side is very slightly crispy; this is heaven, and anyone who says otherwise is either crazy, or is lying about having tasted it.
I have never understood why people can have such phobias about Haggis. I shall say no more.
One good thing about Winter is that the horses are not driven crazy by flies.
There are, of course, various methods for keeping flies at bay. There are sprays, dangly things, and total face-masks. Personally I favour the dangly things that hang from a band above the eyes. A quick shake of the head and the flies disperse.
However, flies apart, this isn't a good season for horses. It's cold, it's often wet, and there is very little grass. They tend to lose weight, and become grubby with all the mud. I often wonder which season they prefer; the heat and flies of Summer, or the fly-less cold and damp of winter. At the moment we buy cheap bags of Carrots for them.
Bok is quite good friends with these two above, they are on affectionate nose-touching terms. All in all (like us) they seem to be coping reasonably well with Winter.
p.s. Later in the day two escaped, and I had to round them up and attempt (badly) to repair fences. I'm not over-keen on horses. When I was small, my sister's horse held a grudge against me, and I've been a bit wary ever since. Never a dull moment, eh?
No, not Dubai; it's in Oz. It looks like something out of a Sci-Fi movie, with some great distant metropolis on the brink of disaster. Huge robots are on the march.
Gold Coast is a modern city, just a short walk down the beach from where Wills and Kellogg live. It appears to have grown overnight, with nothing looking much more than about 20 years old; a concept quite alien to us Brits, where towns develop slowly over centuries.
This is where The Commonwealth Games will take place in April.
Wills and Kellogg enjoy their time there, and have recently been busy refurbishing their two homes. But both have itchy feet and talk is now of buying another place in Zurich.
You can just about see the top of baby Micha's head with his Mum. Sorry about the awful photo.
It's Kellogg's big day today. HAPPY BIRTHDAY my dear! xx
I'm not one of those Royalists who have pictures of The Queen, or commemorative plates, all over the house, I simply accept them as stable figureheads; a permanent part of my life.
I have great respect for many Royal Family members; including those who are only there by marriage.
The Queen herself has been a remarkable figurehead. Throughout her reign she has worked incredibly hard, and hasn't put a foot wrong. She has been as perfect a queen as one could ask for.
Her oldest son, Prince Charles, and I have almost grown-up together; he is just a couple of years younger than me. I have always seen him as 'heir to the throne' regardless of his detractors. Charles is yet another very hard working royal; often with several engagements every day, on top of all his administrative work. His sister, I believe, works even harder.
However, I'm not all praise. There have been a few bad apples in recent times. The late Princess Diana was limelight obsessed (and a bit eccentric), the multi-talented Fergie thinks of nothing but money and her past royalty connection, and some of the 'minor' Princesses should butt out of the picture altogether and get themselves paid employment.
Two of those who currently demand special respect are The Duchess of Cambridge (Kate), and The Countess of Wessex (Sophie). Both perform their duties well, neither try to upstage their husbands, and both are cautiously diplomatic when meeting and greeting. They accept their roles as royals graciously, and are admired by all who meet them. Neither demand to appear on the front pages of international 'fanzines'; in fact the less we know about them, and their home interiors, the more I like them.
The royal family plays an important role in the running of Great Britain and the Commonwealth, and god forbid that the UK ever becomes a republic. As Ral Donner said in his 1961 song 'You don't know what you've got, until you lose it'.
I have to admit that my nearby tiny town has always been a bit lacklustre in what it had on offer.
Despite being a very beautiful 13th C Bastide town, it has refused to be overrun by tourists, and keeps itself very much to itself.
However, there is young blood afoot, and there is change in the air. The tiny Saturday market remains much the same (eggs, wine, veg', bread), but its commercial life is beginning to come alive.
We now have two good bakers, a couple of general stores, a sort of deli, a butcher, and a local-speciality food store. There a few cafés, a few restaurants, and a hairdresser. One can buy cigs and newspapers, and there is a seasonal antique shop.
Whereas we used to refuse to shop there, we now try to go once a week. The shopkeepers are friendly, and there is a younger feeling about town. One can buy almost everything one needs.
I shall still go once a week to my favourite supermarket, but in future we intend to be good citizens, and shop locally at weekends.
It's not yet perfect. The place is often empty, and at midday one hears nothing but the clinking of cutlery on plates; siestas last until 3 pm.
Our friend Vicky is partly responsible for the re-birth; she's in charge of all the activities and publicity. Yes, we're beginning to rather like the place again.
Laugh; we almost wet ourselves! Lady Magnon has been going through her old school magazine of 19**.
The reports of their Sports Day Swimming prizes really got us going. We noticed that international heart-throb Jane Birkin eventually passed her 'Intermediate Swimming Cert'; well done babe!
Amongst the categories for the Swimming prizes were Beginners race, Non-Swimmers race (that must have been fun), Cork scrambling (?), Nippy race, Brownies boat race, Bedtime race, and Nurse and Baby race (What.... at a strict all girls school?).
It all makes my own school-days swimming categories of 100 yards, 50 yards, and 4 yards Doggy Paddle, sound rather dull.
The Vegans are on the warpath again. How dare chefs kill Lobsters by throwing them into boiling water!
The process is actually pretty simple. Having been chilled in a fridge/freezer, to make them sleepy, they are then cooked in the most humane way possible; by being plunged into boiling water and killed in an instant. Any so-called 'screaming sounds' are caused by air escaping from beneath the carapace; and should not be translated as "HELP.... let me out".
The moaners would have a field-day with me. I'm a bastard; I occasionally eat live Oysters, and I often cook live Mussels. They'd obviously have me strung-up from the nearest Tofu tree.
Rather than talk their nonsense about Lobsters, why not divert their hatred towards the genuinely ghastly practice of Halal slaughtering. The annual Eid practice of taking Sheep out into the street, all over France and elsewhere, and cutting their throats, is an appalling act, and should be outlawed at once. But, of course, the vegans wouldn't want to upset the Muslim community; would they!
Obviously, all creatures are alive before being 'dispatched', and for those of us who eat meat, we hope that their end is as painless and swift as possible. I don't think that someone forcing the point of a knife into a Lobster's head (BEFORE plunging it into the boiling water) is going to make a great deal of difference; other than causing more pain.
Switzerland has instigated this kindness to Lobsters campaign, and there is talk of it being adopted by the EU. Personally I would have thought they had far more important matters to deal with.
I see that the left-wing Moaning Minnies have been complaining that the Winter Olympic Games are 'elitist'. Yes, 'elitist'; and they really don't like it!
They claim that it's just a bunch of Hooray Henry's and Henrietta's lording it up on the slopes at Daddy's expense. One can but wonder what these idiots will find to moan about next.
Maybe it is true that Winter's snow related sports are more to the liking of 'the middle classes', but I never hear people complaining that the Summer Games are dominated by oiks or sink-estate residents (they wouldn't dare!).
Polo players tend to be wealthy folk; do we complain?
Certain large sailing boats obviously require plenty of dosh; are we jealous?
Formula 1 racing costs an absolute bloody fortune: are we angry?.... Of course we're not!
Let's just leave people to their own sports, regardless of how rich or poor they are. The poor can amuse themselves with their Snooker, Darts, Bar Billiards, and Gurning, and the rich must be allowed to continue sailing their huge trans-Atlantic Catamarans, or Ski down mountains at breakneck speeds. What is there to be upset about?
Let's not bring political jealousy into sport; it's so bloody juvenile. Live and let live.
One of my absolute favourite types of 'Paté', are these Rillettes de Canard. As you can probably see by the label, they are pure Duck, with 25% Breast and Liver. A true gourmet's delight in any language.
Imagine my fury when I came to open the jar above, and found that the bloody lid had already been unscrewed, the vacuum released, and the contents gone mouldy; depriving me not only of the Paté itself, but also of about €6. This stuff ain't cheap!
I've heard about idiots going round shops taking the tops off jars. It really is a stupid, pointless, exercise, and should be severely dealt with.
In the same ilk, I have personally seen people opening sweet packets, taking one out, and eating it; another appalling crime.
I'd really been looking forward to my luxury Rillettes, only for them to end-up in the bin.
I heard a most disturbing fact recently; that there is a definite link between literacy and longevity.
It seems that if you are male and hail from Stockton-on-Tees (County Durham, N E England), you have a good chance of being illiterate; you also face the possibility of living for 26 years less that a male born in North Oxford, where literacy is at it highest.
If you are female and born in literacy-challenged Burnley (Lancashire), you can expect to live 21 years less than a similar woman from Mayfield, E Sussex.
Just imagine; you sacrifice over 20 years of your life simply because you can't read or write (or at least not too well).
I found this the most appalling indictment of how location/education can affect one's life.
So, the moral must be; make sure your children READ, presumably it will give them a longer life!
If you find this as unbelievable as I did? Have a look here.
I have repeated many times. My two basic essentials for child-rearing are a good story at night, and sitting around a table together for meals. Get these right, and you'll have well balanced, literate, long-lived, children.
I have to admit to being an addict; I'm addicted to Pork Scratchings.
They have to be those big fatty ones; the ones that are really bad for you.
Duck Scratchings are available here (Grattons de Canard), but they are small and often feathery, and not at all what I'm after.
I blame Amazon. Now that one can buy just about anything at the click of a button, I cannot stop myself from ordering wonderful 'Mr Scratchings' multi-packs. They arrive just a couple of days later in packs of 12.
I also ordered myself two dozen 200gm tins of Ma Ling Pickled Cabbage. It's a type of Chinese Kimchi, to which I am also addicted. Fermented cabbage is very good for you, so I'm hoping that the benefits of the one will counteract the detriments of the other. Yin and Yang, etc.
When god was handing out 'taste buds', he must have given me a very special set!
p.s. I used to be addicted to Maynard's Wine Gums, but I went to re-hab.
Even though for the majority of the time I feel like singing hallelujah; there are occasions (especially in Winter) when I feel quite 'down'.
We all have our sadnesses, they are an essential part of living. A well-loved pet dies, our parents desert us, our children leave home and concentrate on their own lives. Life is peppered with events that leave us feeling empty. None of us is immune.
That overused old adage 'Life is not a dress rehearsal', has been at the back of my mind ever since I was quite small, and I have heeded its message attentively. But now that I'm slowing down somewhat, I am pleased to be able to ignore it. I have time to look back over the decades, and see them more clearly. I'm also over all the urgency, the panic, and the responsibilities. I can now sit back, relax, and watch as others make their own mistakes (just as I did).
In John Donne's poem (of my title) he reminds us not to ask 'for whom the bell tolls', because as we all know, it will eventually toll for us.
Could we have done more? Of course we could.
Could we have been kinder to our fellow man? Of course we could.
Could we eventually have left the world a much better place? Yes again.
It's cold, we've had some snow, it's damp, and Winter is really getting on my nerves!
I head off to the tiny village of Frayssinet-le-Gelat, where a wonderful small bakery produces some of the best bread in the area. Yesterday throughout my entire 20 Km allez/retour journey, I didn't see another single vehicle (I just add that for info').
I always buy a Sourdough loaf, and yesterday I also bought a Garlic bread, known as a Fougasse.
The Fougasse needs to be eaten at once; it doesn't keep. It is very garlicky, so you need to eat it amongst friends. It is delicious served with good quality paté, or houmous.
We're lucky to have such good small bakers in the area. They are a real treasure.
The baker's lovely wife, Sandrine, always addresses me as 'tu', she also refers to me as 'jeune homme'; which makes me feel old, You can't have everything!
Certain things only seem to happen to ex-pats. I cannot imagine this tale ever having happened back in Blighty.
Since living in France, I have been 'warned-off' associating with two different people. Someone I knew, who was 'well connected', had access to info about 'undesirables'. He consulted the records of those who bought houses nearby, if (to him) they looked in the slightest bit 'dodgy'.
One of these 'undesirables' was a very pleasant Dutch guy, who was probably best described as 'a lovable rogue'; I imagine he had been involved in the selling of drugs back in Holland, but I don't really know.
We got on very well together. We didn't meet that often, and I certainly never saw a nasty side of him.
He had bought a group of ruins, and converted the pigsties into a small but comfortable home. He lived with his very beautiful girlfriend and they followed a quiet life travelling between Holland and France. One of his greatest pleasures was sitting outdoors on summer evenings and shooting Rats as they came out from one of the ruins. As I say; he lived a simple life.
Then, one day I was warned-off. I was told in no uncertain terms that a law-abiding person (such as myself) should have nothing to do with him, and I reluctantly heeded the advice. Not long after, there were stories of an escaped Dutch prisoner arriving at his home, a resulting gunfight, and all the ensuing police palaver that one might imagine. I was very relieved to have cut my ties when I did.
I tend to take people as I find them. Dutch Pete was an interesting and fun person. Maybe he did have some minor criminal past, and had I known about it I might simply have tucked it away at the back of my mind, but it certainly wouldn't have made me shun him. It was only when I was given my serious warning that I took note. I only write about him now because Dutch Pete is long dead.
The second of the two warnings I originally ignored. I came to my own conclusions later on, but not at all because of my friend's remonstrations.
At the time I was quite shocked by these 'warnings', and frankly I am still quite shocked that they were ever made at all. I can't imagine a similar scenario in England.
I know I go on a bit about 'breakfast', but it's the only meal of the day that I get to eat alone, and it gives me time to contemplate. I'm now sitting down to the above (No 1 on my list) and, whilst I think about it, writing down a further nine favourites.
I feel so sorry for children these days, who are presented at breakfast with a multi-coloured cardboard box filled with some ghastly industrially made, sugar coated, Disney endorsed, airy fairy nonsense. Imagine being faced with that rubbish each morning before being sent off to school.
Any of the below are far preferable.
1: Toast and Marmalade (it doesn't have to be Fortnum's)
2: Soft boiled eggs (preferably served in a pleasant antique egg cup)
4: Fried egg and bacon
5: Nairn's Oatcakes with Stilton (other blue cheeses, and other oatcakes are available)
7: Last night's curry, reheated
8: Fried haggis (Grant's, tinned)
9: Fried Tomatoes on toast (when in season; the Tomatoes, not the toast)
10: Patum Peperium on lightly toasted sourdough (possibly Lord Snooty's favourite).
Nothing that requires any Michelin stars to prepare, not a Disney character to be seen, and all designed to set you up for the day ahead (or at least until lunchtime).
Bread appears in 7 out of 10 of my breakfasts; my own preference is for a good sourdough, but any non-industrial bread would do.
I have purposely omitted beans on toast, sausages, and black pudding; I'm saving them for another occasion.
I have just learned that the average price of a wedding in the UK, now stands at a staggering £27,500. That's an awful lot of money for a one day bash; plus the honeymoon.
My own wedding was a slightly less expensive affair.
We could have been married in St Paul's, but we liked the idea of Paris. However, the embassy there informed us that we would have to be resident for a minimum of two weeks. That wasn't part of the plan.
The nice man suggested Gibraltar, where with the use of a 'special licence', we could be married almost the same day. Our overall itinerary included Morocco, so Gibraltar sounded like fun; we would simply have to have the honeymoon before the wedding.
Our stay in Tangiers was 'interesting'. Having been forced to have my flowing locks cut off before being allowed to enter their glorious country, we stayed in a multi-occupancy hotel room with three Americans (bizarre to say the least). We took full advantage of all that Morocco offered (ahem), then eventually sailed across the Straights, over to Little England by the Med'.
We were married just after John and Yoko; the registrar telling us that Y looked like a drowned Rat (but please don't repeat that). I had managed to poison myself by eating Moroccan street food, so much of the ceremony was spent with me rushing to the bog.
Call me frugal if you wish, but I seem to remember that the wedding itself cost £10; a slight SAVING of £27,490.
Many people won't know what this thing is, but let me assure you that it is an object of MAJOR importance to many a school boy or girl.
For those unlucky enough to be sent off to some sadistic educational establishment miles away from home, the 'tuck box' is a refuge to which one turns in times of despair.
At the beginning of each new term, it is packed with sweets, photos of one's dog (or parents), jars of Marmite, biscuits, cakes, and if one was not afraid of being bullied, maybe even a favourite teddy bear.
A good strong lock (or two) was essential on your tuck box, otherwise it would soon be emptied by some bastard latter day Bunter.
The only reason I'm writing this is that I saw one very similar to the above being auctioned on TV recently, where it was described as a 'small antique chest'. Not too sure about that; maybe I'm older than I think.
I don't know what happened to my own beloved tuck box; I would rather liked to have kept it.
I know that it's fashionable to moan about plastic; but with good reason.
Not only do cattle eat it in our fields, and fish either eat it or get tangled in it in our seas, but it is possibly also affecting the very essence of humanity.
Those Millenials who wouldn't go anywhere without their smartphone, Costa coffee container, and plastic bottles of water, are slowly destroying everything around them. Their cast-offs are clogging our beaches, killing our wildlife, and even (unknowingly) poisoning themselves.
Plastic is a very handy material; it has certainly changed the way we live. But it contains very nasty chemicals that slowly leach from its source. BPA (Bisphenol A) and Phthalates leave whatever plastic they have been used in, and become absorbed by whatever they are surrounding (sandwiches, meat, water, etc).
On a recent urine study of several hundred students, over 80% showed dangerouslyly high levels of BPA. Students were used for the survey because, more than most, they tend to live on plastic wrapped 'convenience foods'. Some of the side effects of BPA are as follows.
Could trigger Type 2 Diabetes
Fetal brain developement
Breast and Prostate cancer
Of course almost everything one touches these days comes with its attendent scares, including many from the above list. So, regardless of any genuine dangers, we should all be very cautious about what we buy, eat, and throw away. However, avoiding plastic 100% is also almost impossible.
I don't wish to suggest that we eat nothing but Bio oats direct from plant in the field, and drink nothing but spring water direct from the ground, but simply to be aware of what we buy, and its effects on us, our children/grandchildren, and the planet.
It's up to us; each and every one of us. Inactivity is no longer an option, no more heads-in-sand. Full stop!
It seems as if every major political party in the UK, is dissatisfied with its current leadership. OK, Brexit times are difficult, but some unanimity would be very welcome. The Conservatives, Labour, and even UKIP are in turmoil; I'm not so sure about the Lib Dims or Greenies as they are of no importance.
One who may soon be wooing for Tory leadership is lovable Boris (above).
CV: After Ashdown House, he was awarded a King's Scholarship to Eton. Later he was awarded a further Scholarship to Balliol, from where he graduated with an upper 2nd class degree in Literae Humaniores. Whilst at Oxford he also became President of the Oxford Union. No mean feats.
Post-Oxford he worked for The Times, and The Telegraph, before becoming editor of The Spectator. He was elected MP for Henley in 2001, then Mayor of London between 2008 and 2016. In between time, Boris has written 12 books; amongst which was his highly acclaimed biography of Churchill. He returned to parliament in 2015 and is at present the UK's Foreign Secretary.
Some journalists like to refer to him as a 'bumbling old fool', but take a look into those hacks' own CV's, and you might find evil green eyed monsters lurking between very sparse achievement pages. Personally I would be extremely proud to have accomplished just a fraction of what Boris has!
I've not met mop-haired Boris, but I'm always hearing that he is an extremely likeable funny and intelligent person. Not at all the pompous nincompoop that the left will have us believe.
In the UK there is widespread hatred of the high achiever, as well as the well educated. There is also hatred of the fortunate. Combine these qualities into one Boris, and you have the perfect target for Corbyn's angry 'chip on shoulder' brigade. If there's one thing the left hate above all else it's any hint of success from a Tory, his/her party, or their policies.
There are two natural contenders for any future leadership of The Conservative Party; Rees-Mogg (I've already written about R-M), and Boris. Both unequalled in the 'house' as intellectuals, and both very determined politicians. Neither takes prisoners, or suffers their fools gladly; so beware!
Gawd knows who I'd choose to replace May (when the time eventually comes), but even a golfer's divot would be better than leaving a void for Comrade Corbyn, Abbott, et al.
Mrs May is an honest and dedicated politician, but she lacks 'fight' and 'direction'. I just hope that whoever takes over from her will be both tough (on Europe), and a far, far, better 'tub thumper'.
If you are lucky enough to visit Sussex, may I suggest that you take the A22 from Uckfield to East Grinstead, then roughly midway make a slight detour to the tiny village of Coleman's Hatch in the middle of Ashdown Forest.
Here you will find yet another of Blighty's low-key, but spectacular, watering holes.
Built in 1430, the Pub' is a classic vernacular Sussex building with white painted weatherboarding covering its upper half (in Sussex this is either wood or tile). It has a big fat chimney stack suggesting a large inglenook fireplace, and plenty of low head-cracking interior oak beams.
Beer is by Harvey's of Lewes, and I believe that all food ingredients are sourced locally.
My father used to take us to this Pub' when we were small. I remember that in one of the bars it had old seats from a dead charabanc; all very exotic.
Today it has caught up with the 21st century, offering everything you could possibly want from an ancient village Pub'. Good beer, good food, and a wonderful atmosphere.
Just say 'Cro sent you'.
p.s. On my last visit to The Hatch, I just happened to mention to a thirsty looking cyclist 'what a nice bike he had'. Oh my god; what a mistake. I was then treated to half an hour's lecture about what weight were certain spokes, how many sprogs were on what gimlet, and the history of every bit from the saddle to the bloody tyres! It was exhausting, and I couldn't escape! My first and last BIKE-BORE.
Should you visit The Hatch, don't speak to cyclists.
I'm not a bird-watcher in the classic 'anorak' sense, but we do have bird feeders hanging from the Quince tree outside our kitchen, and we do like to watch the birds as they join us for lunch.
Generally we see Tits, Sparrows, Robins, a few different Finches, Blackbirds, Thrushes, and other common garden birds, but recently we've had a visitor that I've never seen before; a HAWFINCH.
My own photo (above) isn't too good, so I've borrowed a clearer one from Mr Google (below). This was the third time we've seen them in the garden. Yesterday there were two males together feeding on last year's Greengage stones. Stunningly beautiful birds.
They are much bigger than most Finches; somewhere in between the size of a Blackbird and a large Sparrow. They have very pronounced, serious looking, beaks, which are used for getting into fruit stones.
The ones in the garden were slightly differently coloured; their heads were a bit redder, and their breasts slightly greener. I believe this is seasonal.
Why they've suddenly turned up here, I have no idea; but I'm very pleased they have. I can't tell you how exciting it is to see them. They seem quite unperturbed by humans too.
Another bird ticked-off in my I-Spy book of Birds. I do hope they stay around.
I bought a couple of Tielles recently. I've been looking at them for years wondering what they were, and if I'd like them (there isn't much I don't like).
And then, last Sunday, I was watching a TV programme about Corsica and Southern France, when all my questions were answered, and last Monday morning I plunged.
So what is a Tielle? The outside pie crust is made from an ordinary bread dough with added olive oil and white wine, and the filling is chopped Octopus/Squid in a thick spicy tomato sauce. They are usually eaten either cold or tepid; I chose the latter.
Having never visited an artisan maker of Tielles in the town of Séte itself, my opinion can only be based on these supermarket bought pies; even though they were made in Séte.
I would say that they were pleasant without being remarkable. With the absence of a decent beef, chicken, or pork pie in France, they would make a good picnic alternative for a hot summers' day; preferably washed down with cold white wine.
Sometimes we find him staring at the wall, other times he follows me up to Haddock's and tries his hand at gardening.
Yesterday Lady M called out "Come and look at Freddie; quickly".
There he was, friggin' about again, doing his own thing, trying to attract our attention.
I just ignore him. If he wants to go mountaineering; well let him. Churchill famously said "Cats look down on you, Dogs look up to you, and Pigs treat you as equals". Well, I know very little of Pigs, but as far as the other two are concerned, it looks as if Winston knew what he was talking about.
As was always said; "If you fall off there and break your legs, don't come running to me!"
CATKINS, CATS and QUIET ..........
*I'm at a bit of a loss as to what to write about. January is nearly always
a quiet month. I have been doing all of the usual mundane, everyday things
1 day 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 (except the obdurate and dictatorial) 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!