Monday, 22 October 2018

The Cranes are Flying.



There are few more emotional sights in nature than Cranes flying South for Winter. The above was last Saturday.

They fly very high and very slowly. Their soulful cries announce their passing, and as soon as we hear them, we look up and wave goodbye.

Just a few days ago I also saw a small group of Storks flying over. They fly much faster, and remain quiet.

So, they've had enough of Europe for another year. They go down to Morocco, or further South, then return in Spring as the weather begins to warm. 

It won't be long before we start lighting fires; our version of 'flying South'.



Sunday, 21 October 2018

Joe Brown-I'll See You In My Dreams.


Here is the 'Chirpy Cockney', Joe Brown, singing 'I'll see you in my dreams'. I think you'll like this. Nothing special, but good to see that the old boy's still going strong. This was always the closing number at his concerts.

I've only seen him once, and that was way back in the late 60's in the West End play 'Charlie Girl'; he was excellent.





Saturday, 20 October 2018

Simply Come Tedium.



I can understand that some people like to watch celebs and pros dancing together, but this TV show is about much more than just a quick twirl around the dance floor.

Firstly, each couple is shown practicing, falling over, the celeb splitting trousers, etc.

Next is the two minute result of their hard work. Clap clap clap.

Then we see a big blonde woman saying how wonderful they were, and a bunch of lovies fawn over their prowess; there's also a Mr Nasty who always says how awful they were.

Now they skip upstairs to Ms Winkleman (daughter of Eve Pollard; dark heavy fringe) who fawns again.

And we end-up seeing what dismal scores the lovies award to the celebs.

The following day one dire couple will be voted off the show, and it goes on, and on, and on, until there's no-one left.

As Lady M enjoys all this nonsense, I have to admit to having watched some of it myself. But after about 5 minutes my insides begin to complain, and I have to leave the room.

I still think my idea of 'Celebrity Bomb Disposal' would make for far better viewing on Saturday evenings. BBC; please note!



Friday, 19 October 2018

More on 'favourite walls'.


I mentioned in passing yesterday that I have a 'favourite wall' in my own garden.

It's a very roughly constructed retaining wall, where the tops of protruding stones have become covered with moss.

                          

All sorts of creatures live amongst its nooks and crannies; it must be a wonderful place to live. Prime animal real estate!

And here (below) are a few Parasols, just to show that we're not starving, as far as mushrooms are concerned! We ate them for lunch.





Have you a Favourite Wall?



I've been regularly driving to and from our local airport for years, and have kept meaning to stop and photograph this old semi-ruined building en route.

It contains the remnants of one of the most interesting walls I've seen in decades. It seems to have been made from a combination of old roof and floor tiles, laid in lines. I have a feeling that I've seen a nearby sign pointing to an old tileworks, so the connection is obvious.


It's such a beautiful wall, obviously built by a thrifty amateur; I hope they look after it.

Do enlarge!


Thursday, 18 October 2018

Byrrh.



Anyone driving through France will have seen these old painted adverts for Byrrh, they were as common as the ones for Dubonnet, and St Raphael.

Not many of these lovely old painted signs still exist, and I have always wondered what exactly it was. I knew it was an apéritif, but of what ilk I had no idea. So, yesterday I bought a bottle.


Byrrh is a 'vermouth' made from red wine, aromatics, and essentially; Quinine. Now owned by the Pernod-Ricard group it is known as a 'tonic wine'; also as a good hangover cure (presumably as long as the hangover was not due to over indulgence of Byrrh).

Like most people we have an interesting array of apéritif wines in our collection. Some are rarely sampled, but this one I think will go quite quickly.

A bit sweet for my own personal taste, but delicious even so. A perfect combination of aged wine, spices, and the oakiness of old barrels. The perfect cold Summer apéritif.


Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Rethinking Christmas (only 70 days to go).



There is no question that Christmas is the most expensive, wasteful, and appallingly polluting, one day festival in the world.

It's annual 24 hr effect on the environment must be equivalent to several months at other times of the year.

The amount of shitty plastic, tape, string, and paper used must be horrendous, and in these more aware times we continue to fell trees and pump oil just to continue this ridiculous over indulgent tradition.

I have nothing against a mid-winter festival were we sing traditional songs, eat the best we can afford, and spend more time with our families, but the extent to which commercialisation has taken over is no less than shocking, and a disgrace; as well as doing unquestioned harm to the planet.

So, what should we all do to improve matters?

Hopefully people will now be more aware of the terrible plastic pollution around the world, and they will avoid buying those ghastly multi-coloured plastic toys, etc.

Every year, as we unwrap our gifts, we end-up with huge piles of torn printed Christmas wrapping paper; this is never considered as pollution, but of course it is, and it must be reduced.

Let's all buy just enough food for a pleasant Christmas lunch/dinner, and not morph into blind siege mentality at the very mention of festive eating. I still hear of people 'binning' the remains of their HUGE Turkeys after the big day; this horrifies me.

And on the question of expense, why don't we all spend sensibly, and refuse to go into debt just so little Johnny can have the latest X Box, or iPhone.

Most of all, let's enjoy the holiday season by singing carols, exchanging small gifts with loved ones, and eating 'reasonably' well; and NOT by leaving the planet on its knees.

We've done enough damage as it is!



Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Dress to Impress.



It has just been announced that a group of over 600 UK Charity shops have recently got together to help the unemployed find work.

They have promised to clothe a job-seeker appropriately, for any interview he or she might attend, for just £10. A laudable initiative.

So, to add my own bit of encouragement to those who are looking for work, I would like to offer these few handy tips for that dreaded interview.

1. Don't chew gum.

2. Don't have tattoos that come either above the collar, or beyond the sleeves.

3. Don't wear a 'hoodie'; go to Oxfam instead, they'll help. On no account wear clothes with Adidas or Nike written all over them.

4. Remember that the verb 'to go', does not mean 'to say'.

5. And try not to litter every sentence with the word 'like'.

6. Have a wash before you go.

7. Don't swear.

8. Don't write predictable clichées all over your CV. None of that 'I'm punctual, hard working, and a team player' type of rubbish; and do use spellcheck.

9. Don't fart.

10. Treat your interviewer with some respect; but not overly so. No arse-licking.


Of course, if you are applying for a job as a professional Football player, or to be on some TV reality show, you can ignore all of the above!



Monday, 15 October 2018

Doppelganger No 666.



1: Four delightful old traditional holiday Gites in beautiful Périgord.


2: Not so delightful modern holiday Gite in once beautiful Périgord.

Gawd 'elp us.




Sunday, 14 October 2018

Curly Kale.



I am growing three types of Winter greenery; Curly Kale, Perpetual Spinach, and Cavolo Nero. I also have some Purple Sprouting Broccoli, but that's more for next Spring.

The Kale has to be a favourite. Like Cavolo Nero (also a Kale), one simply picks the lower leaves, and works upwards as desired. With luck they should still be producing well into Spring, when they also begin to make sproutings from the stem. They are a wonderful Veg'.


My plants are remarkably bug, and disease, free this year. I simply inspect the back of each leaf, strip the curly leafy bit from the stem, and steam very quickly in salted water. A bit of Garlic Butter completes the job.

Kale also complies with my insistence of 'Meat and one Veg'. A small chop or steak with a serving of Kale, and that's all one needs.

Thank gawd I eats me greens; just eating this stuff makes me feel rejuvenated!

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Odds and Sods.



With Lady Magnon away for a few days shopping in London, it's been just me and the boys at home.

She's had a busy time; poor soul. Her driving licence needed updating, she needed some new reading glasses, and she had to see the quack about a nasty bruise she received after tripping over by the pool. She didn't even have time to attend a certain wedding in Windsor.

Over here, after some recent rain, the ground has been dampish, so I decided to light the huge bonfire that had accumulated in the field. It didn't take long for the enormous pile to burn down to nothing. It was quite spectacular; and a wee bit scary.

I've been reading Dylan Thomas, and occasionally watching Rick Stein eating his way through this part of France (Rick Stein's French Odyssey). Of course I already adore our local gastronomy, but when seen through the eyes of a visitor, it makes me even more aware of why I live where I do.

With morning temperatures now quite pleasant, and afternoons not too hot, one has the whole day to devote to outdoor activities; even to mowing. On days like these it's a real pleasure to be out in the styx; walking leisurely through the woods with Bok is pure bliss.

p.s. I've just received an Email saying that Lady M has changed her return flight, and will be returning sooner than anticipated.... she simply missed me too much (or maybe she's missing Bok)!



Friday, 12 October 2018

Whelks.



There are not many things that either Lady Magnon, or I, won't eat. Lady M won't go near a Whelk, and I won't touch Bread and Butter pudding. Lady M also has a disgusting habit (learned in her Washington DC days) of putting both Peanut Butter and Jam onto the same piece of toast. Quite disgusting, but that's for another day

I love a plateful of Whelks. I dip them in peppered red wine vinegar, and savour their chewy, rubbery, deliciousness. I know they're not to everyone's taste, but they are to mine.

Whelks are plentiful in European waters, and should be enjoyed more than they are. They are high in protein and vitamin B12. They used to be almost a staple food in Victorian times, but these days they are mostly exported to the Far East. Britain's loss.

When Lady M is away (usually shopping in London) I treat myself to a few for lunch. Well, I can't buy a Pork Pie; can I.




Thursday, 11 October 2018

That time of year.



Chestnut season is in full swing. The sound of motorised gathering machines can be heard all around.

Whilst shopping this morning I noticed they were on sale for €5.90 a kilo. Who on earth would buy them at that price, I cannot imagine; they are everywhere. You simply fill your pockets.

We have already eaten our yearly quota of about a dozen each, boiled then roasted; first with a Pork joint, and yesterday with a roast Chicken.

I have also bought a jar of dry, ready peeled, conserved Chestnuts for Christmas. If you intend buying some for yourself, don't buy them in water, or vacuum packed into blocks, the dry loose bottled one's are by far the best.


The first of the Walnuts are also dropping. They need to be dried in the sun before being put away for winter. Looks like a small crop this year; above were just the first few from one of our trees.

I should add that this year's Chestnut and Walnut crops are both a bit of a disaster. The long hot dry summer has wreaked havoc.


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

William Roberts.



In around 1965 or 66, I was managing a small West End gallery called The Fine Art Gallery in Devonshire Street W1.

One afternoon a man arrived with a large roll of paper. He explained that it was one of six large drawings that he wished to sell, and that they were by Mark Gertler.

He unravelled the drawing (it was about 4 by 6 ft). It was of a naked man, in the 'Vorticism' style, and was drawn in terracotta pastel.

At once I could see that his attribution to Gertler was incorrect, but asked him how much he wanted for them. I think he was asking £50 for the six, and I said I'd buy them. He promised to return with all six drawings within a few days.

On the day he arrived with the drawings I was out, and my boss Miklos Vilag bought them in my stead. When I returned I saw them in the front room of the gallery, and went to give Miklos the £50; he declined my money and said that he'd bought them for himself. As you might imagine, I wasn't happy, and we had quite a heated argument.

I grabbed my things, and instantly resigned.

I had recently attended a William Roberts exhibition at The Tate, and had recognised the drawing I'd seen as being a sketch for one of his larger paintings. These were valuable drawings, and I'd been deprived of their ownership. I suppose as the Gallery owner Miklos had a right to buy them, but I was understandably bloody angry. In fact; I still am.

I have just seen that a Roberts painting was recently sold at Sotheby's for over £1 Million. I wonder what the drawings are now worth?



Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Giuseppina Part 2.


This short film counts amongst my all time favourites.

Giuseppina is a young girl who wants her father to take her to the fair. He doesn't have the time, and tries to convince his daughter that all of life can be seen by just looking around her, at his petrol station.

Unfortunately on YouTube it comes in three separate parts, and I am showing No 2. If you enjoy it, you could always go to YouTube, and look at the other two.

It was made in 1959 as a film for TV colour testing. I think I must have first seen it at that time.

I've chosen Part 2 as it contains some 'amusing' English tourists in their Morris Traveller.

Have a look, and see what you think. No 3 is worth watching too.








Monday, 8 October 2018

Quandary.



Imagine you are a non-English speaking Arabic tourist, visiting London for the first time. Before you leave, to return to your native Saudi Arabia, you visit Camden Market and buy a souvenir in the form of a poster saying 'KEEP CALM AND CARRY ON'; although you, yourself, have no idea what it says.

You return home, find a suitable frame for your souvenir, then hang it upside down.

Well, that is a bit how I feel about the above. I bought it many moons ago and it has been hanging-up ever since, but I've never known which way up it should hang. I imagine that the 'squiggles' in the middle do actually say something; possibly of religious significance.

I have no idea of its origin, but imagine it is either Indian or Arabic. So, if you are an Indian or Arab scholar, and have the answer, I'd love to hear it. If you have no idea at all, yet have a humorous suggestion, I'd also like to hear that too.

Answers on a postcard please....



Sunday, 7 October 2018

Toast.




If you are fortunate enough to own a toaster with settings that say 'Underdone, Perfect, and Burnt'; think yourself lucky. Ours is far more complicated.

Our trusty (un-trusty) machine has a timer that goes from 1 to 7; 1 to 7 of 'what' I'm not sure. It also has three buttons which say réchaufer (reheat), décongeler (defrost), and stop. I've never used the first two, but the stop button is handy when black smoke comes from the inside.

Lady Magnon loves her toaster. She also loves our kitchen smoke alarm, which she uses as her own private toast-timer.

Personally I like my toast to be more 'well heated bread' rather than 'thin black slices of charcoal', and I always leave them to cool before applying their thick slices of butter.

These days I also find myself putting out a large selection of toppings whilst waiting for the bread to be cooked. I can never make my mind up until the last moment, so there is usually Marmite, Peanut butter, Anchovy paste, red pesto, different types of sausage and paté, cheese, and ham, in front of me. This was indeed what I faced yesterday morning, and I eventually plumped for the Peanut butter.

Only afterwards did I remember that I had kept some of last night's pasta leftovers which I'd planned to eat for my breakfast.

Life can be so difficult.


Saturday, 6 October 2018

New european fuel names.



Like all politicians everywhere, the bloody EU bureaucrats just cannot leave things alone.

Their latest interfering concerns petrol. From October 12th we are to have new and confusing names.

I'm not totally sure yet, but I think that what was Unleaded 95, now becomes E5. And the old unleaded 98, is to be E10.

The figures 5 and 10 relate to the percentage of biofuel it contains.

Unfortunately I hear that the addition of biofuel makes the petrol deteriorate quite quickly, and after just one month it can already begin to 'gum-up' your carburetor.

It is recommended to empty both mowers and chainsaws before putting them away for winter; otherwise, come spring, you might have a nasty surprise (of course, this may be internet 'fake news').

Thanks Brussels!



Friday, 5 October 2018

The Sussexs visit beautiful Sussex.



I had hoped to give the guided tour myself, but I was in France and had to leave it to others.

I had also hoped to post a photo of Harry and Meghan standing outside the Brighton Pavilion, but no-one seems to have thought of taking such a picture.


So here are two separate pictures; one of the happy couple, and one of the Brighton Pavilion. Just imagine, if you can, that the one is superimposed on the other. Thank you.

p.s. After their visit, they might be looking for a suitable Brighton home, like George IV; I'll let you know!



Thursday, 4 October 2018

Closing down for winter.



It seems that most of our friends who have private pools have experienced problems this year. The weather has encouraged algae and cloudiness, and both have been difficult to remove.

We've tried almost everything to clear the water; Ph Plus, anti-Algae, Floculant, Lady M's prayers, and various other methods that came recommended. It didn't stop us swimming, but the water was permanently slightly opaque..

With the strange mix of chemicals, eventually our pale blue liner began to turn 'brownish' beneath the water line, and we started to panic.

Luckily, I have an excellent solution for this discolouration; Vitamin C. Yes, Vitamin C.

I poured about a kilo of Vit' C powder into the path of the water jets, and in no time the colour changed back to a sparkling blue. Almost a miracle.

My today's job is/was to close down for winter. Our last swim was made in water of 23 C, and I can't see it rising. It's been a great swimming year, but it's now time to say goodbye until about June 2019.


You cannot imagine how I hate looking out on this!



Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Carry on Juncker.


                                

Darling of the cocktail bar, Jean-Claude Juncker, has once again made himself a laughing stock.

At a recent meeting in Freiburg (Germany), the self-important Juncker claimed that after Brexit, British planes will no longer be allowed to land on mainland European soil.

I hope he's told Lufthansa, Air France, Air Europa, TAP, etc, that they'll no longer be allowed to fly to the UK. They may not be happy!

He's also recommended that Brussels would impose a four day quarantine for pets; both arriving and leaving mainland Europe.

Has he not heard that great British expression 'What's good for the Goose, is good for the Gander'? Be very careful what you wish for Mr Juncker!

Meanwhile in Germany (where he made these profound statements) the ever-growing neo-Nazi group 'Revolution Chemnitz' has been rioting, attacking immigrants, and threatening to kill politicians and civil servants. Sadly this is not exclusive to Germany; although they have more experience of such behaviour than most European countries.

That, Jean-Claude, is the reality of what your wonderful European policies have given birth to, and they have nothing to do with either British tourism or family pets.

I wonder if dear Juncker ever discusses his more bizarre ideas with fellow Brussels Bureaucrats; I imagine NOT.

It's hard to believe that clowns such as Juncker are running the EU. It's no wonder that Theresa May has such trouble dealing with them.

Yes, ha ha ha; you may laugh Mr Juncker. But I'm afraid the joke is YOU.




Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Car business.


Yesterday the Compact Royce went to receive two new front tyres. I had stupidly accepted an appointment for 8 am; it was hardly light, and it was almost too cold for shorts.


Anyway, the two new tyres were eventually positioned (€106.66). The process took about 15 mins, which gave me enough spare time afterwards to shop for a few essentials before her next important appointment.

This was with M Bressou at 9.30 am, for the car to have her biannual road-worthiness (ahem) test; luckily the wretched tyre kicking ceremony was completed before I'd even finished reading my magazine.


My lovely mechanic, M Bressou (Very large black beret, big Gallic moustache), made quite a fuss over choosing a copy of Paris Match for me (from within the huge pile above) to read whilst I was waiting. It contained, he told me, an interesting article about Mrs Meghan Sussex. I suppose it kept me amused for a while.

The old gal passed her test, and M Bressou was awarded €70. She's now good for the next two years.

p.s. I should mention that after my two new front tyres were fitted, and whilst she was still up in the air, the pleasant tyre fitter checked and adjusted the air pressures in both back tyres, and the spare (which was at near zero). Gratis. I've never known them do that before. What service; he received a well-deserved  pourboire

It's the little things that count.



Monday, 1 October 2018

What work will your grandchildren do?


Image associée

Being a painter (or as some might say, an 'artist') is a funny old business.

It's not something you'd normally choose as a career; it's something you just have to do.

As I've stated here before, I've had more work stolen throughout my career than I've actually sold (one was even stolen from a client!). I do have work in some good collections, but having chosen to avoid galleries as such, I've sold far less work that I would have, had I tolerated some of the appalling gallery owners I've encountered.

But being a painter is not only about painting. The horizon is far wider if one wishes it to be, and I have worked as a teacher, a graphic designer, even a garden designer. One of the strangest jobs I was offered was to paint the exteriors of large medieval tents, for a company that promoted jousting exhibitions. I declined.

Otherwise, I've cut stone, and built walls; and have always managed to live off earned remuneration, rather than any savings made from profitable investments, which I always saw as my pension.

However, as a career choice for the future, it may not be such a bad thing. With the advent of robot-forced unemployment, it may become one career that will survive. Someone with above average artistic skills, and a head for good design, should always find work.

Or, at least, I hope they will.





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