If there was anywhere on earth to become the Duke and Duchess of; surely the best must be Sussex.
I cannot claim to be a native of Sussex, as was my father (I was born just over the border in Surrey), but for most of my UK residency I lived in Sussex. It is not known as 'Heaven on Earth' for nothing.
Your Graces; I would like to be amongst the first to officially invite you down to Sexy Sussex. We could put-you-up overnight in Brighton, maybe order ourselves an 'Indian', then I'll take you on a tour the following morning.
Firstly we would head for Chanctonbury Ring, which, as everyone knows, is the very centre of The Garden of Eden; and you will see why it was so perfectly chosen.
After a brisk walk, we'll go for lunch at The Shepherd and Dog in Fulking.
Having partaken of good Sussex Ale and Sausages I'll take you on a short roundabout tour of your new Duchy, to show you some of the delights that you might otherwise miss.
We'll go through Steyning, (which in times past was actually a sea port), then on to Storrington and beautiful West Chiltington (I'll show you the lovely thatched house where I used to live), then north to Horsham (pronounced Hors-am; not Hor-sham) where my father was at school.
From Horsham we'll head South again through stunning countryside back towards Lewes (the county town of E Sussex), then on to Charleston Farmhouse to look at some Bloomsbury painting and decor. Then finally on to Wilmington where we'll admire The Long Man (photo above). Here we'll have a flask of tea (Lapsang), with some of Lady Magnon's Lemon drizzle cake and Cucumber sandwiches; I'll bring a couple of tartan blankets.
May I suggest that you borrow a helicopter for the trip. Being such a beautiful and popular county, our roads tend to be quite congested; this is something you may like to look into at a later date.
Let me know when you're both available, and I'll make the necessary arrangements.
This old Tobacco Drying Barn is, once again, for sale. It was bought a few years back by a couple of architects, but problems befel them and their project fell-through. It's now back on the market.
It recently suffered quite badly from a violent storm, and a few bits fell off, but it's still just about OK.
I've often thought about buying it and making part of it into a big lofty downstairs studio, with a small apartment above. This would only take about a third of the available space, and would leave plenty of barn/storage/garage space.
The big studio windows would need to face East-ish; a tiny bit annoying if one was working in the early mornings (my studio is the same).
It isn't ideally situated. It's on the corner of two roads, it's quite close to other houses, and it's just 50 metres from the light-coloured semi derelict building on the left (above), which is directly opposite the main entrance to our super new 'HOLIDAY VILLAGE'. As I say; not an ideal location.
It comes with 4,000 square metres of slightly sloping land, and with water and electricity already in situ.
However, there's one very big problem; the asking price is a whopping €52,000. Far far too much. I might go to €3,000, but no higher.
I see it remaining unsold for a very long while; at that price it may even fall down before finding a buyer.
There is more rubbish spoken about the recipe for Bouillabaisse, than there is even for Cassoulet.
To add to all this rubbish here is the 100% authentic version; complete with the accent required to make it. I don't seem able to post the video itself, but just click on the link.... you won't be sorry!
Well, maybe not quite yet. With the water at a bone-chilling 17 C, I think it'll be a while before we take a dip.
Opening-up the pool is always fraught with danger. Will the pump work? Will all the pipes be stuffed with Toads? Will the water itself be luminous green?
Luckily all was OK. There were about four dead Toads on the bottom, but that was quickly dealt with. The water was very clear, and with a good dose of 'flocculant' all will be sparkling again in a day or so.
It's so nice to see moving water again. Yesterday evening we even returned to drinking our 'aperos' by the pool. Bok dangled his front left paw in the water, and somehow everything returned to NORMAL.
And just in time for the wedding too.
p.s. Prince Charles's offer to accompany Ms Sparkle up the aisle has changed everything. From having become a farce, it has returned to (what one hopes) will be a sophisticated ceremony...... Voila!
It seems to be popular, these days, for new wives to continue to use their maiden names; I have even heard of husbands who adopt their wife's name.
But there is, of course, official procedure and etiquette to follow in such matters. It should be noted here that in France a woman's name officially stays as she was 'registered' or 'baptised'; calling herself Madame X is just a pleasantry.
Traditionally in England the wife of Mr John Smith is Mrs John Smith. If Mrs John Smith (née Miss June Brown) later divorces her husband, she becomes Mrs June Smith. This is how we know the difference between a married woman and a divorced woman. Nuance, m'dear.
In an upcoming wedding, where a divorcee is marrying a bachelor, the officiating priest should ask "Do you Harry Windsor take Mrs Rachel Endelson as your lawful wedded wife?" The response then might be "Er; I think you've got the wrong church Matey, I'm supposed to be marrying someone called Meg".
These days certain traditions are conveniently forgotten, even in the most elevated of circles. Next they'll be telling me that a 'mother of the bride' will lead her daughter down the aisle.
If you happen to be in any of the locations for this show (above); I can recommend it. My good friend John Masouri (below) will be offering his considerable knowledge about Marley and Co, and anyone even slightly interested in Reggae would be crazy to miss it.
John will be in conversation with Roger Steffens, another world authority on Reggae music, divulging their intimate tales of frontrunners 'Bob Marley and The Wailers'; accompanied by rare footage of the band.
Once you get over the fact that 'My Uncles pen is NOT on my Aunt's desk' (and is never likely to be) the task of learning 'useful' Non-O-Level-School-French can begin.
Personally I arrived in France with reasonably good vocabulary, but without the ability to string much of it together into coherent sentences. Occasions to explain that 'My pen knife was in my brother's pocket' were few and far between, and I soon found that I had much more need to say 'My septic tank stinks', or 'I have leaking roof', or 'My beans are covered in aphids'.
French anomalies are everywhere, laid like traps for the unwary foreigner; here are a couple of amusing favourites.
Nouns in French are either boys or girls; yes, they have a sex. A window (La fenetre) is female, and a carpet (Le tapis) is male. But just to confuse the unwary foreigner, a man's beard is female (La barbe), and a lady's handbag (Le sac a main) is of course male. Well it would be, wouldn't it.
And whilst I'm on the subject, I was reminded recently of an ancient popular French 'bonbon' known as Sucre brulé, which was translated by some English linguistic clever-clogs as 'Sugar Barley' (or Barley Sugar). Visiting Frenchmen to England then re-discovered this British delicacy, and it was re-exported back to France as Sucre d'orge. This simple sweet contains not the tiniest trace of Barley, but is now named on both sides of La Manche as if its Barley content was unquestionable!
We foreigners hardly stand a chance.
p.s. I've had 45 years in which to get to grips with Français, and (I'm pleased to say) my usage is now 'acceptable'.
Being measured for the noose. He's taking it very bravely.
At every wedding I've ever attended, one is asked "Bride or Groom?", then shown to the appropriate side of the aisle. If this is the case with 'Arry and Megs, there won't be many sitting on the Bride's side; four or five maybe?
As Megs is a divorcee, traditionally she will NOT be wearing white meringue. With only a week to go, newspaper fashion editors can't wait to see how her 'frock' will be.
Things to look out for at Saturday's ceremony: Facial expressions from Beatrice and Eugenie. Lip-reading Phil the Greek. Megs forgetting 'Arry's name. Yawns. Boredom. Children being sick.
They tell me that there will be street parties, with bunting, and jellies; well I hope it doesn't rain for them. It's bad enough having to drink Orange squash, or Robinson's barley water, whilst pretending to be enjoying yourself; let alone being excited for some couple you've never met.
Possibly the most important change has been the erecting of the Wooly Mammoth-proof fencing, although it was surprising how little they actually ate. The fencing has also given me somewhere to drape a few over-productive vines.
The layout and size of the plot have both changed considerably since 2011, but the amount of veg' I produce has stayed much the same; more economic use of space.
I have also added a Plum tree, a Fig, an Apricot, a Peach, and a Cherry; as well as quite a lot of soft fruit bushes.
On the right hand side (out of sight) is a stone wall running the length of the plot. In an ideal world I would have preferred a stone wall instead of the Wooly Mammoth-proof wire, but that'll have to wait until I win the Lottery!
Haddock's is an important part of my little world; life wouldn't be the same without it. I'm thinking of building a small 'pergola' there, where I can sit, and dream, and watch the world go by (not that much does).
No pool worth its salt would be complete without a couple of swaying Palm Trees under which to lounge. We have two around ours, one tall one shorter, and although I love to see them, at this time of year they are a right pain in the rectum.
Those flowers, if left, produce thousands of seeds which later drop all over the bloody place; especially into the pool itself. They have to be removed.
So, like a Monkey, up the ladder I go, with secateurs in hand, getting scratched all over by the nasty spikes on the leaf stems. It's a charming job.
Anyway, job now done, not too much blood, and hopefully no seeds in the pool for 2018.
The weather, as usual in Spring, has been erratic; one minute almost 30 C, the next it's back to gloves and scarf.
When the 'Meteo' warns us of violent storms, it is invariably hot; and when temperatures are predicted to exceed 25 C, there is heavy rain. Spring is like that here!
However, this see-saw climate seems to suit most of what we grow. At Haddock's the vegetables are romping, and in the garden our flowers are probably better than ever. Most of the fruit trees look OK (except our main Apple tree), and everything promises a reasonable crop.
The grass is growing furiously, and the Wisteria already needs to be pruned. It's difficult keeping-up.
Above is the standard 'gentleman's' knot; simple, nothing fancy, learnt at Nanny's knee. This would be spotted at Boodle's, the Member's stand at Lords, and at Smith's Lawn.
This knot is more triangular, and is called the 'Windsor' knot. Favoured by young men who consider themselves stylish and cool; it will be seen on junior bank clerks, aspiring estate agents, and others of that ilk (often worn with 'swept away' collars).
And thirdly, this rather unpleasant FAT knot fashioned at the very end of the tie (often much lower than above) is exclusively used by 14 year old rebellious schoolboys, or (if the tie is white) by Bridegrooms at their charming Chavdom weddings.
There are, of course, other knots, but it's worth knowing what secrets these three particularly common ones are telling you about their wearer.
Yesterday saw the first of the BIG local boot sales, in the small nearby village of Cuzorn; the home of my tile maker.
I bought four old soup bowls, with four matching dinner plates, ten small teaspoons, six desert spoons, and a small glass that would hold about half a sip of Eau de Vie.
The plates/bowls were made in Rouen, by someone with illegible writing. It could be NBL, or JVBL, or even ABL. I can't find anything about them.
The little glass is of the type that one reserves for Uncle Dyspepsia, when he comes for his tipple on Boxing day. It looks as if you have filled it to the brim, but in fact it's mostly glass. 50 centimes. I seem to remember that Mr Stephenson once called them 'Toastmaster glasses'.
We will certainly use the plates and soup bowls; not quite so sure about the spoons as (by the colour) they seem to have a high lead content. I'll clean them, and see.
A good wash, and the plates were already in use by lunchtime!
Do Wonky Vegetables taste differently to non-Wonky Vegetables?
The obvious answer is no, but I'm sure you could find some 'purists' who would say yes.
My nearby Asparagus-growing neighbour, Madame D, mostly sells perfect bundles of thick white Asparagus, but yesterday she also had a box-full of green allsorts. Seeing as these were considerably cheaper than had they been perfect, I bought 500gms, which we ate for yesterday's lunch.
I'm not too proud to eat a rag-bag selection of wonky spears, in fact I almost get greater pleasure in knowing that they were a bargain.
I have just seen this letter from Meghan's half brother. Thomas Markle jnr, obviously knows his sister far better than most, but I don't think most of us would describe your fiancé as 'a jaded, shallow, and conceited woman'.
She has a pleasant smile, and that is quite important; but, is it really enough on which to base a marriage?
Small time actresses are notably self-centred, and you will have to restrain her from becoming the classic 'Pushy Princess'. The Queen Mother warned your mother about this, and as we all know (to her disadvantage) she ignored the advice.
Do try to stop Meghan from appearing in magazines, grabbing the limelight, or becoming a patron of spurious charities; these things turn susceptible heads, and can only hasten ill feeling from 'her adoring public' (if she has one).
If the press ever start describing her as 'The most beautiful woman in the world' (as they so often did with your late mother), then you really will have cause for concern. I don't wish to comment on the 'attractiveness' of either your mother or Ms Markle, but I'm sure you understand how well-intentioned exaggeration can easily have adverse effects.
Many thanks for the invite; don't get too pissed on your Stag Night. I'll be in touch!
Other than the obvious fact that some silly girl has taken her clothes off for money; it doesn't offend me in the slightest.
Yet two volunteer RNLI Whitby Lifeboat Men have been sacked for using them (they were given as 'amusing' Secret Santa presents), and 4 (maybe even more) of their colleagues have also now resigned in protest.
It seems that their frightfully PC female boss was frightfully upset at seeing the frightfully erotic pictures on the mugs, and, having revived herself with smelling salts, sacked the evil bastards for their unacceptably sexist attitudes.
I'm sick to death with all this bloody nonsense. In my book it's the female boss who should have been sacked; not these guys who've served for 15 years as lifeboat men, risking their lives to save others!
Amber Rudd (Mrs A A Gill) has been hounded out of office over her department's illegal-immigrant policy, and the UK now has a new Home Secretary in the form of Sajid Javid. Sajid is already receiving racist jibes from the Socialists; they've been referring to him as a 'coconut' or 'Uncle Tom'. They really are charming.
There is no question that Ms Rudd was an efficient and hardworking minister. Unfortunately she made a few silly mistakes over her department's policy. I really don't think she should have resigned over it; but who could blame her. When Socialist (or Russian) knives are out.....
It should not be forgotten, however, that Corbyn's alternative to a Conservative Home Secretary is the charming Ms Abbott, who, as usual, doesn't seem to have an effing clue about anything. Here she is describing the alternative Socialist illegal-immigrant policy.
What a frightening prospect; this is no longer a joke. Heaven bloody help us!
I never learnt to ride a motorbike (I couldn't get the hang of changing gear), but if I had, I would ride something like this mean looking bogger above.
My bike would have to have a polished aluminium tank, no fairing, a simple (yet comfortable) seat, and all the mechanical gubbins easily accessible. It would probably be no heftier than 500cc. I would also remove the headlight, speedo, and front mudguard. Stripped to basics.
Mostly, of course, it would have to have 'Norton' written on the tank. This particular model is a 1974 Commando; and would do me fine!
Yes, I can see myself going shopping on this baby; it's either that or an old shaggy-footed heavy horse, with saddle bags.
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
9 months 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 45 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!