I had a friend from Prep' School who turned-up on Blue Peter showing off a pet black Panther that he kept in his Chelsea flat. I never heard what became of either my friend or his Panther; I like to think that Belloc could have written a sympathetic Cautionary Tale about them.
There has been much wringing of hands in the press recently about the cost of renovating the rather unattractive Frogmore Cottage (£2.4 Million), the new home of Harry and Meghan; which is owned by The Queen's 'Crown Estate'. The Republicans were eager to jump on the guillotine bandwagon, and denounce the whole Royal Family as being a huge drain on national funds.
If Her Majesty is spending money on renovations to Frogmore Cottage, she is only doing so in order to keep her own property in good order.
As I understand it, The Royals have two main areas of income. The Queen's 'Crown Estate', and Charles's 'Duchy of Cornwall'. The Queen graciously hands over the entire income from her personal Estate to the Government, and receives a small percentage back (25%) for expenses, and Charles pays normal Taxes on his income from The Duchy.
The Crown Estate currently produces an annual income of approx £304 Million, with The Queen receiving up to £80 Million in return, in what is known as the 'Sovereign Grant'. A pretty good deal for the National Purse.
The Duchy of Cornwall produces an annual income for Prince Charles of around £21 Million, on which he 'voluntarily' pays income Tax of 50%. There are plenty of Footballers about, who earn the same, if not more than Charles.
Personally I couldn't care less how much they earn, as long as they are able to afford all the 'Pomp and Ceremony' that the country demands of them; and that doesn't come cheaply!
The Chestnuts are in full flower. There is an all invading aroma in the air; you can't mistake it.
The local Beekeepers have brought in their hives by the dozen, firstly to pollinate the Chestnuts, then later the Sunflowers.
Bees need water, so they make directly for the nearest supply; OUR POOL!
I'm on reasonably good terms with Bees, but we do get quite a lot of them. I lift them out of the water on my hand, when they accidently fall in. They haven't stung me yet.... well maybe only once or twice.
Devastate: Verb. 1.To destroy or ruin. 2. To cause (someone) severe and overwhelming shock or grief.
These bloody people make me sick.
Two charming female anarchists, who presumably consider themselves 'lower class' (as they are promoting something called 'Class War'), demonstrating outside Boris and his girlfriend's flat in London. They also plaster the road with nasty posters about him, and shout unpleasant expletives every time they enter or leave.
If they really do wish to 'devastate' the Avenues of the wealthy, why are they only demonstrating outside just one specific house? Other homes in the 'Avenue' probably contain just as much 'wealth'.
This, unfortunately, is how certain people behave today. They wish to bring everything down to a 'lowest common denominator'.Just imagine the rumpus there'd be if a group of Tories lead a similar protest outside Corbyn's house.
And just imagine the rumpus there'd be if the two above, or the three below, held their puerile banners outside homes in The People's Republic of Islington or Notting Hill, or outside the huge homes of wealthy Labour supporters, such as Lord Bamford (JCB), Lord Ashcroft, JK Rowling, or Bernie Ecclestone. Being told by these charming folk that they have found new homes for them in the cemetery, wouldn't go down too well.
I have nothing against those who vote blue, red, pink or green, or how rich they are; but this sort of misguided behaviour from any quarter is totally UNACCEPTABLE.
To threaten people simply because they've worked hard and become successful, is so typical of the angry, chip-on-shoulder, left.
I wonder what they consider 'wealthy' these days? Presumably, anyone who has more than they do!
p.s. The 'Lucy Parsons' to whom the top quote is attributed also famously wrote "Let every dirty, lousy tramp arm himself with a revolver or knife, and lay in wait on the steps of the palaces of the rich and stab or shoot the owners as they come out. Let us kill them without mercy, and let it be a war of extermination".
What a repulsive person; I'm not surprised she's their heroine.
We have plenty of Broad Beans, Mangetout Peas, Globe Artichokes, Courgettes, Beetroot, Spinach, Tayberries, Strawberries, Blackcurrants, and Yellow Cherries.
It's time to start making my Tayberry Jam. I shall buy new lids for my jars, then I'm ready. I really enjoy the process, it's all so quick and easy, and only involves 3 ingredients; Tayberries, Sugar, and Lemon juice.
Just look at those beauties! 5 mins boiling time, and viola! I made just 2 jars from the above. I'll need to do more almost every day. These berries grow like crazy!
Anyone who can speak more than two languages fluently has my admiration. Certain currently newsworthy political folk are impressively multi-lingual.
Boris Johnson is known for speaking Latin fluently, and he also speaks French and Italian. I also believe he SHOUTS in English.
Rory Stewart is probably the most talented. He speaks Dari (a form of Farsi), plus nine other non-specified languages.
Jeremy Hunt speaks Japanese, even though his wife is Chinese.
Corbyn speaks Spanish. Two of his three wives were Spanish speakers; one from Mexico, and one from Chili, so I suppose it was essential. His first one spoke English.
Trump, of course, struggles with just English.
The only language, other than French (and Latin) which I've attempted to learn, was Italian. I would spend hours trying to learn useful phrases, but after about ten minutes they'd evaporate. It was as if my brain refused to absorb them. However, when I learn new words in French; they usually stick without any problem.
I shan't be attempting to learn any other languages.
It looks as if next week we will all die of heatstroke. Next Wednesday Thursday and Friday we are promised temperatures of up to 39 C; far too hot for humans.
We shall, of course, spend our days in the pool holding parasols, drinking copious amounts of cold beer, and filling our hats pockets and shoes with ice cubes. Otherwise we'll stay indoors during daylight (sunlight) hours, and only venture outdoors at night.
If you don't hear from me next weekend, please don't send flowers. Generous donations to the Impoverished Artists Widow's Association (made payable to Lady Magnon) would be very welcome.
Every time I see this bucket (it holds our Badminton rackets etc) I have to chuckle.
I was in Brighton, taking a few boxes of rubbish to a nearby municipal dump. Arriving at the dump, I found a youngish rather 'well-to-do' looking man THROWING stuff from the back of his car, with angry delight. He was obviously in a very bad mood.
His ejectiles included brand new Hockey sticks, women's clothes and shoes, pictures, kitchen kit, radios, ornaments, suit cases, and the above Florist's bucket; amongst a whole lot of other brand new looking possessions.
I casually asked "Are you chucking all this stuff away?"
"Yes I fucking am" he replied, heatedly.
"Would you mind if I took the bucket?" I asked.
"Take whatever you fucking like" he replied, going ever redder by the minute.
I took the bucket, and left without saying any more.
What happened when his poor wife/girlfriend returned home; I can't imagine, but I quite expect a court case followed soon after. It didn't give me any pleasure in her misery, but the bucket has served me well for over 40 years; and she's not having it back!
I haven't posted a picture of my youngest grandson for quite some while; so here he is, the young Mischa.
Almost since he was born, the poor chap suffered with eczema, but it's now pretty well cleared up.
He and his big brother recently found three kittens in their garden, and (of course) they've adopted them. They create havoc, have their tails pulled, and are treated by Boo Boo to daily rides in the pushchair. I have a feeling they'll make Billy's life HELL too, when they visit here.
We can't wait to see them. I haven't met little Mischa yet.
The UK's Andrew Marr Show is essential Sunday morning viewing, and on last Sunday's edition he interviewed Tory PM hopeful, Rory Stewart. Many of you may have seen it.
At one point during the interview Marr 'accused' both Rory and Boris of having been at Eton and Balliol; as if this was something to be ashamed of.
Marr (Loretto and Trinity), who once described himself as a 'raving leftie', seems, like so many Socialists, to have a problem with high achievers, and success; i.e. people like himself.
I find this attitude most odd. If he would really prefer to take any Tom Dick or Harry off a dustcart, and place him in No 10; then say so. Personally I want my Prime Ministers to be as well educated as possible. I want the highest of high achievers.
Boris managed to win a scholarship to Eton, and a scholarship to Balliol; no mean feats! He was also President of the Oxford Union, and later became Mayor of London. In between time he managed to write about a dozen books.
I really do find it bizarre that there are people who would quite happily see a known Marxist and his cronies in No 10, whilst criticising someone of true intellect; but I suppose that's the state of the crazy UK these days. OK, Boris might have made a few 'interesting' observations about Burka wearers and Watermelons, but that's nothing compared to the appalling language that I hear about him, on a daily basis.
N.B.When, in September 2017, I predicted that Rory would one day become Prime Minister, he was still unknown to most people, and even I didn't think things could advance as fast as they have. I don't think his time will come this year; but give him a couple of years.....
Boo Boo's father (my youngest) has decided not to stay in Thailand whilst his villa is being built, and has taken a flat in London's Ladbroke Square, neighbouring Holland Park and Notting Hill.
His reasoning being that he needs to be living in an area where there are good, safe, quality, schools for his two boys. Boo Boo's school in Thailand turned out to be pretty hopeless.
I asked if he knew about the 'infamous' Holland Park School. He didn't.
There are plenty of good schools in central London. St Pauls, Westminster, King's College, etc; but these will cost you about £30,000 pa.
But, there is one excellent school within his catchment area that is very well known for other reasons, and it is literally just down the road from his flat.
Holland Park School (above) is known as the 'Socialist's Eton'. The next best thing to Eton in State education for aspiring Champagne Socialists. Trendy left wing parents throughout London fight for places there.
However, it isn't a foregone conclusion that little Keir, Clement, or Aneurin (or even Boo Boo) who may live next door to the school, will be offered a place. For the 240 places in each years' intake, there are about 1,900 applications.
Provided that my son stays in Ladbroke Square, Boo Boo will certainly be a priority case. But it maybe wise for BB to start reading Das Kapital, so that he can quote Marx at an interview in a few year's time; it could only improve his chances!
It'll be nice to have them all back in Europe again.
As many in the world have recently been remembering the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings, over here we have been remembering other events.
The tiny village of Frayssinet-le-Gelat is where I buy my wonderful bread.
Today it's a very quiet spot, known only for being the birthplace of the man who invented the Jubilee Clip, and the barbaric German wartime slaughter of civilians; to whom we recently paid homage .
The Germans had suspected that the village was the hideout of several resistance fighters, and rather than search for them, decided simply to make an example of the villagers themselves. It was easier, and demonstrated their vile attitude towards basic humanity.
At 5 pm on the 21st May 1944 two divisions of the SS Das Reich, en route for Oradour-sur-Glane (see Wiki), arrived in the village from nearby Villefranche du Périgord. At 6.30 pm they were joined by another division arriving from Fumel.
They assembled everyone in the center of the village, where they proceeded to hang three women, and shoot 11 men. One imagines that they enjoyed watching the women suffer.
So as to not upset the Germans, the monument in memory of those who were murdered was recently changed to say 'Barbarie Nazie' instead of 'Barbarie Allemande', but I prefer to show it as it was originally intended.
The same German troops then moved on to Oradour-sur-Glane, where on the 10th June 1944 they slaughtered 642 villagers. amongst which were 350 women and children; again, all innocent civilians.
The men were all shot in the legs, to make them immobile, then doused with petrol and set alight. One witness discovered a baby that had been 'crucified'.
The Village of Oradour has been left exactly as it was after the atrocities were committed; totally burned-out and ruined.
As it says on the base of the monument 'Souvenez vous';.... we do; and have!
p.s. Today is also the 2nd anniversary of the Grenfell fire, where 72 people died. RIP all.
Mr Stephenson has somewhat preempted this posting, but seeing as we both wrote at similar times, I'm posting my version anyway.
I am not a drug user (other than red wine), but it was almost impossible to have gone through living in London in the mid to late 60's, then having spent five years at various Art Colleges, without having tried a few of the illicit products on offer. This must have been much the same for certain politicians.
In those days, the most common, and popular, 'naughtiness' was Hashish; a compressed Cannabis resin (above) that was smoked having been crumbled into Tobacco. Unfortunately I found Hashish far too soporific, and stopped smoking it almost at once; I was missing-out on too much fun.
I wonder what happened to Hashish; its name is hardly ever mentioned these days. Even in Morocco, where it used to be sold openly in the form of government stamped slabs, it is no longer offered either in cafés or on street corners.
Other products around at the time were Acid (LSD), and very occasionally Opium. Purple Hearts were the pills of choice for 'Mod' clubbers.
Drug culture has become the norm these days, with the most unlikely of people regularly consuming a few lines of Cocaine at the weekend (Gove?). Everyone from wealthy City traders to sink-estate no-hopers enjoy (if that is the right word) their regular snorts. Convicted Drug-Drivers have now overtaken the number of Drink-Drivers. Synthetic drugs are everywhere, and they become more inventive and numerous by the day.
There are those who wish to legalise the whole drug arena; they suggest it would rid the country of dealers. Others wish to take a much harder line, and throw both dealers and users into prison indefinitely. In either case the use of drugs has become an openly everyday occurrence, and is having a profound effect on the world's criminality, mental health, and economy.
Much of our present day drug/crime/sex/corruption parallels can be compared to the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and one can but wonder what modern day Odoacer will replace a latter day Romulus when Gibbon's opus is rewritten.
Personally I think the decline is already well advanced. Everything seems to be going wrong, and the strict morals of yesterday have become the new liberalism of today. Much of that is OK (desired even), but there are too many unwelcome side issues that will probably bring us all down; drugs being one!
As Jezza goes from crazy to crazier, it has recently been revealed that he was very much in awe of an earlier Labour leader (1932-1935) with similarly dubious 'pacifist' aspirations.
Dear George Lansbury was a man of close political ideals to our Jezza. Just before the second German war, he went around Europe, meeting and greeting the likes of Hitler and Mussolini (not unlike Jezza meeting Hamas and Hezbollah), then suggesting that the UK would be better off unilaterally disarming; and explained as much to the sitting Conservative government.
Capitulation is an interesting idea, as is holding aloft a white flag just as serious hostilities are about to begin. What he would have made of the resulting indiscriminate German slaughter of certain sections of the UK's society (I'm sure you know what I mean), he didn't say.
Jezza does have some very bizarre heros.
p.s. George Lansbury's daughter 'Angela' became an actress of some note.
So, what's our Dave been up to since he quit politics after his disastrous Brexit referendum? Well it looks as if he's found himself yet another 'nice little earner'. An advisory seat around a table of chums.
He has been offered the position of Chairman of the advisory board of Afiniti, a US AI company based in Washington DC.
The advisory board of Afiniti is extremely interesting to say the least. As well as ex-UK-Prime Minister Dave, it also contains my old school friend Lord (John) Browne the ex (disgraced) CEO of BP, Francois Fillon the ineffective ex-Prime Minister of France, Elisabeth Murdoch child of Rupert, and the fragrant Princess Beatrice granddaughter of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.
A fascinating company board, crowded with so many heavyweight upper-crust celebs. I wonder what the point is? As if one needed to ask!
I have no idea what qualities either Ms Murdock or Beatrice possess, but their presence would certainly be impressive. The only top business brain amongst the lot of them belongs to my old chum Browne; although Dave himself is no lightweight intellectually.
Anyone dealing with this Afiniti bunch wouldn't stand a chance. The big guns are out, and there'd be no way to escape with either your money or your custom.
I've always liked Annigoni's 1955 portrait of The Queen; reproductions of which are still to be seen in British Embassies, and Consulates throughout the world. It shows her as a powerful, yet caring young woman, who, as an accident of birth, was unwittingly thrown into one of the most demanding jobs on earth. I believe The Queen herself particularly likes it too.
She has always taken her position extremely seriously, she has never interfered in the workings of government, and she has never put a foot wrong when it came to international affairs of state. In fact (unlike her husband's) her career has been amazingly without incident, and her presence is always welcome wherever she goes. She is loved by millions, if not billions, the world over.
A 'figurehead' should be looked-up-to, admired, and respected. Elizabeth II has achieved all that. She never demeaned herself by appearing in 'common' TV games, or by giving scandalous interviews to presenters of documentary shows. For her entire reign she has kept an air of kindliness, grace, and decorum.
Of course she has her rather pathetic detractors; usually left-wingers, whose attitudes say far more about themselves, than about The Queen. These are people who would have the likes of Corbyn as head of state, which tells you even more about them.
Today is not The Queen's actual birthday (21st April); it's her 'Official Birthday'. The day when countries throughout the world (especially The Commonwealth) celebrate her reign.
Her Majesty has been on the throne since I was about 6 years old. She is 20 years older than me (that's a tad indiscreet Cro!), so we've grown-up together. Her oldest son, Prince Charles, is a good natural successor, who I've always viewed as our King in Waiting.
I'm not one of those crazy obsessed royalists who have her portrait around the house, and commemorative mugs on the mantelpiece. No, I simply see the royal family as constant figureheads on whom one can always depend. The Queen is our collective mouthpiece in times of disaster, and always leads by example. Her recent greeting of Trump can be viewed as a good example of her wise command of diplomacy; I hope he will have learned from it.
So, Ma'am, I wish you a very happy 'official' birthday, and may you celebrate many more. Time to put your feet up a bit more methinks; I'm certain that Charles, when he takes over, will prove to be a safe pair of hands.
This last winter I didn't once light our kitchen wood-fired cooker (George). In late Autumn last year, I gave him his serious pre-winter cleaning, but his services were never required. I only light him either if it's very cold, or if I'm making bread or long slow-cooked casseroles.
Our sitting room wood-burning stove also had less use than usual this last winter. Not once did I light-up in the morning and keep him going all day. In fact I only lit him a couple of times in early afternoons, preferring to wait until about 4 or 5 pm before lighting. The house managed to retain much of its heat, so just a few hours fire in the early evenings was adequate. Even so, I've managed to burn over 3 cubic metres of Chestnut wood, which will need replacing. I hardly touched our Oak pile.
In general I would say that this past winter was 'bearable'; we had no snow, and very few hard frosts. Not once did I feel really cold, I suffered no illness, and my wood sawing tasks never seemed tedious. It was what I would call a 'good winter'.
Now we are well into spring, and everything is looking good. The fruit trees are already heavy with apples, pears, plums, and peaches, and at Haddock's we're already harvesting a few early vegs. In the woods the Girolles are appearing in droves.
The above two photos made up part of our yesterday's simple lunch.
I've always heard that Broad (Fava) Beans were edible whole, when young, but I'd never thought to actually try them.
My Broad Beans are at the perfect size to experiment with (they need to be no longer than your index finger), so I fried just a few in Olive oil, butter, and garlic; as one would.
We found them quite DULL, with a DARKISH slightly BITTER flavour, and I certainly won't bother doing them like this again. I only have a few plants, so I need to make the most of them, we'll have the rest as pukka 'beans'.
My Mangetout Peas are now in flower, so I shall soon be following exactly the same process with them too. I believe that they'll be a lot tastier. More classic. I'll let you know.
One could easily be forgiven for viewing Britain's Climate Change activists (Extinction Rebellion) as a bunch of middle class, white, snowflake, self-righteous, polluting, dungaree-wearing, vegan, anti-capitalists, who all live off benefits. Some of this is certainly true from what I've observed, but other than 'hypocrisy' they also have other fine qualities.
They are also capable of putting innocent lives at risk, in order to promote their particular form of eco-terrorism. I am not against peaceful protest; but threatening the very lives of innocent air-passengers is irresponsible to say the least.
There is not a single person in the world who would not like cleaner air, and increased longevity for our planet and our descendents, but there are much more efficient ways to achieve this than flying drones over Heathrow.
The UK has one of the best possible records in reducing pollution, with The USA and China amongst the worst. If closing down Heathrow for 11 days has any advantage whatsoever, it will be to stop the unpleasant Emma Thompson flying in from Los Angeles to preach to us. Maybe if her flight is cancelled, she can stay at home and have a chat with Trump (unless, of course, he's having afternoon tea with Elizabeth II).
Well he's doing very well, thank you. Now when he jumps up and bites me, he only takes small lumps of flesh from my hands, and he only rips the lining out of his bed in the mornings, afternoons, and evenings. His baby teeth have now mostly been replaced (naturally) thank goodness.
Otherwise we've taught him to eat and drink, to run, to leave muddy paw-prints half way up our glazed doors, and to sleep; all of which he's learnt very quickly. We've also taught him to swim (ahem).
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), plenty of fruit trees, and a view that takes the breath away; we also have a Border Collie called Billy. 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!