Friday, 30 November 2018

The New Doc'.



My old doctor retired about two months ago, so when I recently visited the surgery, in mid-november, I was confronted by a new man.

I'm always a bit wary of change, especially when it comes to doctors, bank managers, or bakers.

Of course all doctors are instructed to tell their patients exactly the same things; lose weight, stop smoking, don't enjoy yourself, etc. It's written into the hippocratic oath.

Once he'd done all the usual stuff, like taking blood pressure, weighing me, and stethoscoping; whilst printing off my prescription (which is all I'd gone for) he gave me the now tedious advice.

Don't eat too much charcuterie, drink only one glass of wine per day (with one day, just water), and don't eat too much salt. He didn't bother with either the slimming or smoking because neither are applicable.

I told him that if he'd suggested I eat less sugar, I'd have been OK, because I hardly ever touch the stuff, but cutting down on salt is another matter altogether.

He told me not to add salt when cooking, but to add a tiny bit afterwards if needed.

This was a bit like telling a cow not to eat grass; I almost live on things that contain, or require, salt.

So, this morning whilst breakfasting on toast and very salty anchovies, I thought about my new doc's advice, and decided for one day at least to ignore it. 

Anyway, what self-respecting doctor would have the cheek to ask a chap to forego a pukka breakfast!



Thursday, 29 November 2018

A tad excessive.



You're going to laugh your heads off when you've read this!

I've written previously about my love of Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies. I'm quite aware that they're classified as 'convenience food'; but they're delicious, I adore them, and I will not be deprived.

As a pre-Christmas present, I decided to treat myself to a year's supply, and ordered a 6 pack through Amazon; plus 6 smaller steak and kidney Puddings, which I haven't had for decades.

By some bizarre cyber glip, my payments were picked out as 'unusual payments' by my bank's clever computer, and were declined.

I tried again... same thing. I tried yet again... same thing again.

I phoned my bank, and my (their) problem was instantly sorted. Strange, because I'd spent a very similar sum of money with Amazon just a few days before, and I'd had no problem.

What I hadn't realised was that every time I tried to re-order my pies, each order was being re-registered, and as soon as my bank's payment system was resolved, all 4 orders went through together.

I've now ended up with 3 x 6 packs of Pies (18 pies), and a 6 pack of steak and kidney Puddings; rather a lot I must admit, but I'm not complaining.

I am very fond of these, but I think I now have supplies for several years. I've checked the 'eat by' dates, and I reckon I'll just about manage to get through them all before they turn green, or explode!

OK, you can laugh now.




Wednesday, 28 November 2018

Obsessive?



I was always that student who arrived at college with the caretaker, and left when I was kicked out as they locked up for the night. It was probably this enthusiasm for my use of studio time that got me that 'first', rather than the quality of my work.

Even today, I start work at 5.30 am sharp every morning. If I didn't, it would totally put me off kilter.

I hate lateness, and I hate laziness. I also hate any lackadaisical attitude towards punctuality. Most people own a watch (I don't), so there is never any excuse for lazy time keeping. If I say 'I'll be there at eight pm'; I'm there at eight pm.

At school we were beaten for tardiness. If I was supposed to be preparing toast for some idiot at 3.30 pm, and arrived at 3.31 pm, I was punished before the toast making began. It was simply accepted that it was wiser to be a minute early than late; something I've never forgotten.

Breakfast, dog-walking, lunch, and supper, are never haphazard. Even now that I'm 'retired', and can please myself about such things, I continue to adhere to a strict timetable.

Call me obsessive if you will, but it's served me well so far; and people know that they can rely on me 100%.



Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Yule Log 2018.



I think I mentioned last year (and probably many times prior to that), that tradition dictates we should not go in search of a Yule Log, but to let the Yule Log find us!

The above log (it looks like a piece of Oak) has been looking up at me from in amongst some rubbish for the past six months or so, so I had a word with it, and it allowed me to bring it home.

I have placed it behind the woodburner to dry off thoroughly, then later it will be dressed with ribbons, holly and ivy, and a few baubles ready for its big day.

A Yule Log must be placed on the fire on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning if one finds nothing but ashes, it will be a good omen for the year ahead.

It worked last year, so I shall expect the same this year. Four weeks to go!



Monday, 26 November 2018

The Future for ex-pats?



For obvious reasons, both Lady Magnon and I voted that the UK remained a member of the EU; even though we had reservations.

However, I imagined that all would probably go well as long as the government's negotiators got rid of all the bad bits of EU membership, whilst retaining all that was good.

I now learn that May's draft declaration contains a very determined clause to end 'freedom of movement'.

So, what will this mean to all those EU citizens living in the UK, and to all those UK citizens living throughout mainland Europe? Our village Mayor has already joked about us being kicked out in 2020; presumably along with the other 1.3 Million UK born citizens who live in France, Spain, Italy, etc.

Will we no longer be able to live in our own homes, other than for just a couple of months each year? Will we need a visa to visit our own homes? Will we still be obliged to pay the full 12 months house taxes, even though we are banned from full-time residency?

Will our insurance policies pay-up on burgled properties that are unoccupied? Will squatters be removable? Will the police do anything to protect the huge number of foreign owned properties?

I know of plenty of unwise ex-pats who have burnt their bridges, and have no home back in the UK. Their homes here are practically unsaleable, but even if they did find a buyer, it would hardly buy them a garage back in the UK. Will social services be finding homes for all these people?

Many will shrug their shoulders, and say 'it's their own bloody fault'.

Fortunately we do have homes back in the UK, and are solvent enough to simply lock the doors here, and walk away; never to return. As long as I could fill the car with various paintings, antiques, and essential documents, I could drive away and stick two fingers up at the whole effing lot of them, and in future spend all my money back in its country of origin; but the people I feel most sorry for are those who literally have nothing to go back to.

If this is how Brexit will end-up, I bloody despair; although I quite fancy the idea of free health care again.


Sunday, 25 November 2018

This past week's news!



Professor Philip Alston is a UN special 'Rapporteur', who has recently described the UK as being poverty stricken and lacking in human rights.

He claims that 14 million people are living in 'extreme poverty'; no doubt he's encountered them living down sewage pipes, or under piles of Autumn leaves (if they're lucky).

Another recent report claims that there are 55,000 problem school-age gamblers (11-16) in the UK. In all, 450,000 children regularly gamble; betting an average of £16 each week. And these, I imagine, are just the poverty stricken ones.

Meanwhile, chip shop owner, Philip Suhadolnik of Darlington Co Durham, cannot find anyone to work for him. Several have been offered jobs, but simply failed to turn up. They prefer to live on their generous benefits (presumably down their cosy sewer pipes) than actually go out to work.

Back to Alston and his claim of poverty. All so-called poverty is comparative. In the UK, these hundreds of thousands of 'poverty stricken' children can afford to gamble £16 a week, probably own a smart phone, a laptop, and an X box, and maybe manage to afford a few lines of Columbian marching powder at the weekends. This can hardly be called 'poverty'. In fact it is an insult to children worldwide who really DO live in poverty; by which I mean they have NOTHING, and struggle to find something to eat, like the Indian street children in the photo above..

Of course there are people in the UK who are, without question, living below an acceptable financial standard; there always will be. Austerity (or what I prefer to call 'good housekeeping') has meant that some have had their hand-outs reduced. But please, Alston, don't write silly reports to the UN saying that the UK is a country gripped in extreme poverty. You, and I, both know, it simply isn't true.

According to the IMF, the UK is the world's 5th (or some say 10th) largest economy.

p.s. I now see that Ms Denise Coates, the boss of Bet365 (a major UK on-line betting site), has an annual salary of £265 Million. And who said gambling doesn't pay?




Saturday, 24 November 2018

Fartichokes.



Jerusalem Artichokes are the perfect crop for the lazy gardener. You buy a few from your local greengrocer, plant them somewhere discreet in the garden, then come Autumn you have a wonderful crop. Leave a few tiddlers in the ground, and you'll have an even better crop the following year; and so on ad infinitum. They do not fail.

This year I have established a small dedicated plot up at Haddock's. In Spring, I planted about 6 tubers; but those I'll leave till later. These, above, grow at the base of a wall surrounding the pool, and are semi wild.

Last week I did notice some on sale at my supermarket, but they were all long and thin; rather like my little finger. Much too small, and difficult to clean. Mine above are far superior, and clean quite easily with a small nail brush.

I'm roasting a Chicken tonight, so they will roast amongst a few potatoes. Totally delicious; even if they do make you fart.



Water Cannon.



In 2014, when Boris was Mayor of London, he purchased 3 second hand German Water Cannon, after rioting Anarchist mobs had left parts of London severely damaged.

He paid £320,000 for their purchase and renovation, but their use was instantly banned by Theresa May, and they remained, unused, in storage.

Now that we have a Socialist Mayor of London, a certain Mr Sadiq Khan, they have been sold for scrap for just £11,025.

Personally, like Boris, I think a good soaking of unruly rioters is quite a reasonable method of crowd control; but the snowflake generation think not. Maybe there should have been a referendum on their use.

So, well done Khan; I hope the rate-payers loss of over £300,000 is coming out of your own pocket. 


Friday, 23 November 2018

The sudden cold.



It was the great Alfred Wainwright himself who said "There's no such thing as bad weather, just unsuitable clothing".

From our glorious late Autumn sunshine, we have now had several days of early morning frost. It has been down to -4 C, and that suddenly feels VERY cold.

'Suitable' clothing has definitely been brought out from its Summer quarters.


However, it's not all bad, and at the base of my old faithful scrumping Apple tree, it's still strewn with fruit. Some show signs of having been nibbled by Deer, others came complete with a Hornet or two, but there were plenty to bring home. This interesting variety appears frost-resistant, they will remain edible well into the new year. 

The fire is lit at 4 pm sharp. I'm beginning to look longingly at my unopened bottle of Winter Single Malt. And the electric blanket is back in use.

Europe's Winter has arrived!


Thursday, 22 November 2018

Black Bloody Friday.



How on earth can Europeans be so stupidly gullible?

People are so easily manipulated by commerce. Offer them €10 off a new TV, and they'll buy it even if the don't need one, or can't afford it; and all because there are advertisements, ad infinitum, telling them that it's something called BLACK FRIDAY; and they would be crazy to miss a 'bargain'. How idiotic.

Well, I for one will be staying home on Friday; I'd prefer to buy that bloody TV on SENSIBLE SATURDAY, even if it cost me £50 more.

And if this foolery wasn't bad enough, we'll now be having nothing but bloody back-to-back Christmas adverts for the next four weeks. Give me strength!


Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Iceland’s Banned TV Christmas Advert.



Just in case you haven't seen it, here is that now famous Iceland advert.

It was banned for TV because of the link to Greenpeace, which is seen as a political organisation; and therefore verboten.

Amazing the extra publicity you can achieve by having something banned! At the last count it's had over 30 Million viewers; let's make that a few more.



Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Cake.



I must say, my mother made a very good Chocolate Cake; but I suppose that all mothers do.

It was always a good day when the old-fashioned beige mixing bowl came out from the pantry. We would crowd around the big breakfast room table, desperate to put our fingers into the mix, as soon as her back was turned.

She made it look so easy. She put in a bit of this, and a bit of that, maybe some butter and Cocoa powder, then mixed it all together. 

Whilst it was in the oven (a dreadful old thing called 'Radiation New World') the icing would be prepared. It always seemed like hours before the cake was cool enough to accept its topping

I'm pretty sure that my mother only iced the top, which was always given a wavy pattern with the back of a fork. My sister and I fought over the right to do the art work.

But, of course, a cake is all about taste, and hers became the cake by which I judged all others. It seemed impossible that one of her cakes would win anything but FIRST PRIZE in the annual village WI produce show. I no longer remember if they did; possibly not.

I still like Chocolate Cake; Lady Magnon makes a very good one. I'm no longer too keen on the icing, but she always leaves part of the cake un-iced, specially for me. 

Chocolate Cake has been a life-long friend, as I'm sure it is for many!



Monday, 19 November 2018

Horses.



Photo © Lady Magnon.


Lady Magnon enjoys the company of  horses much more than I do. She used to be an avid rider, but since her quite recent rib-cracking fall, has hung-up her jodhpurs and spurs. Now she restricts herself to feeding them carrots and photographing them, rather than climbing on their backs.

The last horse I rode myself was a lovely ex-London rag-n-bone man's Horse called Joe. 

Joe was a Welsh Cob, who arrived chez nous pulling a Gypsy caravan, owned by Anthony Wedgwood-Benn's niece and her boyfriend. They stayed for about a month, then continued on down to the South coast. 

Whilst here, I used Joe to pull our old farm two-wheeler trap, and also for a bit of bareback riding. As an ex-rag-n-bone Horse, he did everything by word of mouth. You didn't even have to hold the reins to give orders. He was the perfect ride for someone like me!

I've always been a bit wary of horses, ever since my sister's horse, Misty, used to eject me on a regular basis. However, it's always me who has to catch escapee horses and return them to their fields; which occasionally includes the one above. 

We don't have enough land to keep horses, but if we did I'd quite like a big Shire or Percheron. As long as it was big, slow, and had shaggy feet; I'd ride it. 

No frisky thoroughbreds, thank you.




Sunday, 18 November 2018

RIP Freddie; aged 14.


                             

He'd not been eating for several days, just hanging around his water bowl. Not a good sign.

Poor old Fred just faded away. No fuss, no last requests; he simply wanted to die peacefully. He wished to die as I suspect all Cats wish to die, at home in the place he loved, and by the side of those who loved him.

So, goodbye Fred. I'll bury you alongside your old friend Monty, at Haddock's. I'll put a few Cat treats in with you, and maybe your broken black clockwork Mouse (that you never played with).

The local Mice/Voles will now rejoice, that nasty Cat next door will no longer spit flames when he sees you, and in future I will sleep without that furry scarf beneath my chin.

I'll miss you terribly. Your favourite perch in the Quince tree (above) will now remain empty. Life will never be the same again.

Cheerio old friend. xx


Saturday, 17 November 2018

Sale room practices.



For a while in the mid-60's I was the manager of a small Art Gallery in Devonshire Street W1.

My boss, Miklos, had been to view a nearby sale, and I'd been given the job of going to bid for several lots he'd earmarked; one of which was a large portfolio of early (or old) etchings.

I bought the portfolio well under his maximum price, and returned to the gallery, complete with another couple of lots.

Miklos immediately started to search through the portfolio, becoming angrier and angrier as he realised that the one etching he'd wanted was missing. It had been placed amongst a load of more ordinary prints to attract bidders; then carefully removed. Such practices, sadly, were commonplace in those days.

However, in amongst the less interesting prints he discovered a very small black and white print that attracted his attention. It was about 4 by 5 inches in size (the image even smaller), and quite amateurishly etched. It illustrated a battle, with two 'cherubs' holding a swag depicting the location and date. It was not particularly inspiring.

I'm afraid I've forgotten the exact details, but it illustrated a skirmish from the American civil war, and looked to be very rare. It might even have been a sole surviving example.

I was instructed to take it to The Parker Gallery in Albemarle Street, and to ask for £500 (a lot of money in those days). The Parker Gallery was (and probably still is) one of those lovely old-fashioned Oak-panelled galleries that only dealt in the finest and rarest.

They looked at it under a magnifying glass, held it to the light, passed it around, then asked how much I wanted for it. I was almost embarrassed to ask for the £500, but I did so. They didn't flinch!

To my amazement they wrote me a cheque and the deal was done. I came out feeling that, had I asked for £1,000 they would probably have paid it. It must have been an extremely rare print.

Its sale made the missing etching from the portfolio seem unimportant; and we still had about another 100 etchings to sell.

p.s. I'm afraid the illustration above is nothing like the etching, but I couldn't find anything more suitable.


Friday, 16 November 2018

Egrets.



After shopping, recently, we passed a field of Cows with a few Egrets standing by.

There seems to be a lot more of these lovely birds around than I remember.

I immediately said to Lady Magnon "I wish some of them would come to live around us".

That same afternoon we saw five Egrets down with the Horses. It was almost as if they'd heard my request. We've never seen them here before.

Since then I've counted about ten. I disturbed them up in a tree recently whilst walking the dog.

They really are the most elegant and beautiful birds. I know they're not rare, but having them settle in our tiny hamlet is wonderful. 

I hope they stay and multiply.



Thursday, 15 November 2018

Hornets.



I rather stupidly left some grapes on the vines, over the entrance to our covered terrace, simply because I couldn't easily reach them.

Of course the Hornets have recently found them, and we've been inundated by hundreds of the wretched things.

I always hang these simple traps for them; some beer, some jam, and maybe some wine, and they can't resist.

I had quickly filled the first two large jars with them, and this morning tipped the victims away. I refilled with beer and jam, and by about mid-day, I had already caught the dozens above.

I must have killed hundreds of them; more than usual. Their nest (I haven't found it yet) must be completely empty.

Even though I respect all 'wildlife', I don't regret my actions; but I do feel some guilt.



Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Happy Birthday.



Prince Charles is 70 today.

Charles and I have grown up together. Ever since my mother first bought me National Savings stamps featuring his portrait, I have lived in parallel to him; without us ever meeting.

To me he has simply been the 'heir to the throne'; a role adopted by accident of birth, that cannot have been his natural choice.

He, along with his sister, are possibly the hardest working members of the royal family. He has several appointments every day, several changes of dress, and often works well into the night on official matters.

He has managed to avoid repeating the unfortunate gaffs of his father, yet has inherited the regal bearing of his mother. He has learnt the job without complaining; at least, not in public.

His legendary love of nature, and tireless campaigning against all things polluting, brought him much criticism and ridicule from his urban detractors, but most now understand the importance of his life-long concern, and even campaign alongside. 

I like Charles. A friend of mine who was at school with him always described him as 'charming', as do those I know, who have met him briefly on official duties. I don't think there is any question that he will make an excellent head of state.

So, I wish you a very Happy Birthday Your Royal Highness, and may you enjoy many more. Cro x


Tuesday, 13 November 2018

Winter Sun.



At this time of year one expects to be cold, so sunny days are even more welcome than waking up to the hot and sunny days of high Summer. Eating outdoors at mid-day in November is a real bonus.

I was putting away my 'evening' shorts recently, and, when emptying the back pocket, came across €170 in banknotes that I'd totally forgotten about. The pleasure I received was very similar to experiencing our warm sunshine at the moment. It is the unexpected which gives far more pleasure than the expected.

On so many occasions I've been invited out specially to meet someone who I would 'love and find totally fascinating', only to be bored to bloody death. On other evenings, that I've dreaded, I've discovered someone genuinely fascinating, who was the saviour of the day.

I've been to numerous hyped-up restaurants, and eaten badly, and to greasy-spoon dives where I've eaten like a king.

I've also been to fancy expensive concerts of all sorts, and been disappointed; yet listened to street buskers who were magnificent.

So, I'm enjoying our Indian Summer, and am taking full advantage. My Vitamin D tank is slowly filling for 'slow-release' over Winter.


Monday, 12 November 2018

To buy bread.



The house just behind my baker.


The road on the way home.


The bread.

My regular Sunday morning activity; to buy bread for the week.



Sunday, 11 November 2018

Remembrance Day: Lest we forget.



Today is Remembrance Sunday. Exactly 100 years since the end of WW1, and at 11 am we shall remember the dead by holding a two minute silence. Of course there now remain no more ex-combatants. 

Now we tend to remember the 'old soldiers' from World War 11, where there were so many outrages committed, that it is difficult to highlight just one.

However, one that is very little known is that of Budapest, where Jewish women were taken by the Germans to the edge of the Danube, told to remove their shoes, and were callously shot. Their bodies falling into the river below. Around 20,000 women were murdered this way.

Artists Can Togay and Gyula Pauer have created this memorial (above), consisting of 60 pairs of cast-iron shoes, so that those poor tragic Hungarian women are never forgotten.

On 'Remembrance Day' we tend to think mostly of the British and Commonwealth soldiers who died during the two world wars, but there were countless more victims from other nations who also deserve to be in our thoughts.

Those poor innocent women are just one such group; victims of appalling, and senseless, German barbarity. 


Let those victims (and their perpetrators) never be forgotten. RIP.



Saturday, 10 November 2018

Favourite clothes.



We were discussing our choice of clothes last night.

I've never really had favourite clothes, but I did remember a favourite 'designer' shirt (Rocha) that I'd bought way back in the 1980's.

I loved that shirt. It had cost me a small fortune, and it was admired by all (ahem).

I named it my 'Nosebleed Shirt', but I have no idea what happened to it. The well known designer commands considerable respect these days, and I'm sorry it's not still hanging in my wardrobe.

Lady Magnon seems to think it was worn until threadbare, and probably became a designer duster.

It was quite similar to the shirt above, but with a BIGGER pattern.

Oh my lovely Nosebleed Shirt!



Friday, 9 November 2018

All in a day's work..



Having finished writing this, eaten a simple breakfast of Parasol mushrooms on toast, and taken the dog for a long walk, I shall take my trusty Husqvarna to the wood pile, and cut a wheelbarrow load of logs for the evening fire. Luckily it's not raining.

I shall then head for the woods; not to look for mushrooms this time, but to try to re-find a spot where I'd noticed a superb landscape just crying out to be painted. I'm pretty sure I can find it again. If successful, I'll return with my kit in a few days time, to complete the actual job.


I'm still extracting those tiny bloody pink Oxalis bulbs from Haddock's. They really are the most annoying and persistent of all my garden weeds. I do a small patch each day, and try to find every single bit (some hope). This will employ me for about 15 mins; I become very easily bored with the task.

I shall then make Vermicelli soup for lunch.

A friend has no Walnuts, so I shall go to gather a couple of Kilos for her. There are loads about. I'll probably gather a few Apples for us at the same time; Lady M has promised a Tatin.


'George', our kitchen wood-fired cooker hasn't been used for about 8 months, We'll probably want to fire him up again before long, so I'll take it to bits for a thorough cleaning. It doesn't take long, but it's a dirty old job; the chimney pipe is the worst bit! 

I have a small paint job to do on the 'tower' ceiling; that will take a max of 10 mins.

By then it'll be time to think about supper. I'm thinking either Italy or India.... not sure yet, but more likely Italy.

Fred is purring like a steam train.... how am I supposed to think!!!



Thursday, 8 November 2018

The net.



Sir Tim Berners-Lee developed his WWW in 1989, and since that date has seen his genius invention become one of the world's most controversial.

The dark web (whatever that is), extreme porn, social media, fake news, on-line grooming of minors, hate speech, and horrific terrorist videos, are just a few of the web's more evil attributes that Sir Tim could never have predicted.

Inventions can never be uninvented. We are now stuck with it. Personally, I find all my own uses for the net to be extremely handy (Email, blogging, on-line newspaper, Picasa 3, etc). The sites that cause so much controversy don't interest me. I do use 'facebook', and since my recent drastic thinning of several so-called 'friends' (mostly selfie addicts), it is now simply a vehicle for the exchanging of news, and photos; with real friends and family.

Sir Tim, I believe, gave his invention to the world, with no patent or royalties attached; others, of course, have made huge fortunes from his gift to the world. His only regret seems to have been the use of the two forward slashes, which he now says he would have changed.

Tim's latest project is to establish an international 'Contract for the Web'. This will invite both Governments and Internet Companies to adopt a set of ethical standards. Sounds a little like closing the stable door, after the horse has bolted, but good luck.

Only time will tell.




Wednesday, 7 November 2018

What could it be?



Go to any UK Sunday Boot Sale, and you're bound to see one of these on sale, probably for 50p.

They are as common as glass Lemon Squeezers, or unused Pasta machines.

If you don't know what it's for, please have a guess.

If you DO know what it's for, please don't divulge, as it would spoil the fun.



Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Southern France in Autumn.



Every season, everywhere, has its high points; although I'm still trying to find some for our Winters.

We are still having quite pleasant weather, but the mornings are cool. The leaves are beginning to change colour, and they are beginning to fall. 

This morning I went to see my wine makers to fill-up a couple of 5 litre plastic containers, and as is their wont, they presented me with a free 1.5 litre sample of their new wine. 

On returning home I went to find a few more mushrooms, and picked the above. I also put a few straggler Chestnuts into my pocket.

On the menu tonight will be a Cèpe omelet, followed by a few roasted Chestnuts, all washed down with some of the delicious new wine. Of course.


Autumn is also time for Paté making. I'm no longer making ordinary Paté (I can buy better than I can make). I'm now concentrating on my more luxurious Paté, with a big lump of foie gras in the middle. Just ten 350 gm jars for the moment. I may do a few more later. The jars are being sterilised as I write. Three hours at a rolling boil. Above is the finished job.

Does life get any better?



Monday, 5 November 2018

How's she doing so far?



Yes, Meggers is preggers. It didn't take long.

She appears to be enjoying her role as 'The Duchess of beautiful Sussex', and her adoring global fan base loves her. The Markle Sparkle seems to be doing reasonably well.

But I do worry that, like Harry's Mum, she already seems a little over-keen on the limelight, it's the actress in her; although it must be said that Harry alone would hardly draw the same crowds, which is why he always used to hang around with his big brother.

I wait now to see how things go when the new royal sprog arrives in Spring. Hello, and OK Magazines (other trashy magazines are available), are probably planning a '200 page Special Edition' to welcome the enfant. The baby (I hear it will be called Prince OJ if a boy, and Princess Ja-Ka'neasha if a girl) will predictably be paraded in front of all the world's press. We will hear its shoe size, its IQ, what expensive couturier it frequents, what schools it will attend, who are to be its numerous fading-pop-star-godparents, where it will live, what are its favourite nappies, prams, baby grows, chocolates, ice cream, etc, etc.

May I respectfully suggest that Meggers takes a slightly more discreet role as befits a consort. The papers are already filled with photos of her (as they sadly were of Harry's Mum). They never tire of telling us what she's wearing, and how many times she changes her outfits each day, how much they cost, how big her 'bump' is; and even how her pregnancy is coming along. We are even informed that her gumboots cost £120; who cares! I imagine some overpaid secretary is commanded to issue numerous daily 'Press Statements' with all the details, none of which are of any interest to anyone but themselves.

One doesn't wish to be critical of the poor girl, but I am getting a feeling of Markle 'overkill'.

And, as if all that wasn't enough, she has to cope with her awful warring family back in Redneck Hillbilly land. Where did she find them! They get worse and worse.

So, 'royal performance' rating 8/10.


Sunday, 4 November 2018

Scruffy Barnet.



Great Yarmouth has been in the news, for reasons other than Rachel's house hunting.

The headmaster of a Great Yarmouth school (Great Yarmouth Charter Academy) has ensured his place in the annals of haircut-history, by coining the name 'The meet me at McDonald's haircut' for the style adopted by these boys above.

This enlightened headmaster, a Mr Smith, finds the hairstyle so offensive that he has banned it from the classroom.

No-one is certain quite how the name came about, but it is thought that the wearers were likely to say to each other "Meet me at McDonald's". 

My own hairstyle could be known as 'Red Sea Special'..... a parting of the waves, with a dry, and bare, passageway through the middle.



Saturday, 3 November 2018

Tears before bedtime.



I knew it had been the 1st November, because I remembered to say White Rabbit (twice), but somehow I'd forgotten that the next time I would say White Rabbit (twice) it would be December; and December means cold roast Turkey, pickled onions, and pickled red cabbage.

I can't face Christm*s without pickled onions; it just wouldn't be right. There are certain things like sprouts, chestnuts, and roast spuds, that make the great day's feasting what it is, and pickled onions are amongst those essentials.

After 24 hrs in brine, they are bathed in sweetened, spiced, vinegar, then left to mature for a few weeks before broaching.

N.B. The pickled red cabbage is prepared about two weeks (or less) before the big day; any sooner and it begins to lose its crispness. 



Friday, 2 November 2018

Lowry.



Whilst preparing our ghoulish outfits etc for Halloween, we were, at the same time, half watching a UK antiques programme on TV.

At one point my attention was directed towards a rather poor painting of a 'Stately Home', that the programme's presenter, Paul Martin, described as a work of genius.

The painting was by L S Lowry, who Martin went on to describe as 'One of England's Greatest Artists'.

Lowry studied at the Manchester School of Art under Pierre Adolphe Valette, and his work can often be mistaken for that of Valette; making it as close to plagiarism as is legally allowable.

Personally I have always thought of Lowry as a 'novelty painter', in the same ilk as Beryl Cook, or Alfred Wallis. I would never describe him as a 'Great Artist'; nor would I Cook or Wallis.

I welcome your opinions about Lowry; have I missed something? Was Martin right?



Thursday, 1 November 2018

Drink Pink?



Whilst topping-up with rouge recently, I noticed a strange looking pump, whirring away outside the vineyard's chai.

Being an inquisitive cove, I asked Madame what it was doing. 'Cooling the pink wine', she told me.

Now, I'd never heard of pink wine having to be cooled (other than before drinking), but it seems that the process of making red and pink are quite different.

For pink, the juice must not be allowed to rise above 17 C, so a giant cooling system is lowered into the fermenting juice, through which cold water is constantly circulated. At least, that's how my vigneron does it.

There you are; you learn something every day!


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