Tuesday, 19 November 2019

MP's



This time I think she's gone seriously over the top with her pre-seasonal preparations.

Lady Magnon has not only begun buying Christmas presents, but she's already churning out tray after tray of MP's (Mince Pies). I did notice her wandering off into the kitchen recently with a bottle of Armagnac, and I had my concerns; but I soon realised that she'd begun making her copious amounts of Mincemeat, which are heavily laced with alcohol.

"Cuppa and an MP Cro?"

"Oh, go on then; maybe I'll have two".

I can't resist Mince Pies, and I get a wish too.

She and Boo Boo will probably be elbow deep in Christmas Cake mix before long. I can't resist that either. "Just a small slice, please".

Monday, 18 November 2019

Sardines.



I'm sure I've mentioned here before, that I am a huge fan of tinned Sardines.

At a recent local market, I was advised by a good friend to buy some sardines from a producer who'd come all the way from St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (85), to the North of La Rochelle. These are Atlantic Sardines rather than the more common Mediterranean ones.

Every inch of the canning process is done by hand; a tradition that Conserverie Gendreau have practised ever since they started back in 1903.

Of course there's a lot of hype involved in the sale of every product, and Sardines are no exception. They claim to be the best (who doesn't), and have their cans illustrated by 'self-taught' local-born painter Suzy Ocadlik. The only difference between these and others, is that the fish are roasted for a while before being canned. They are, of course, in Olive Oil.

I recently surprised myself by making baked potatoes that were split in half, filled with a plump tinned Sardine, and with plenty of the Olive Oil poured over. It was stunningly delicious.

So, are they good? Indeed they are; there is a more pronounced flavour of grilled Sardine than in some makes. I'd give them 9/10.

The tins have a charm.


Sunday, 17 November 2019

Our tiny, but increasingly populated, hamlet.



Not so long ago, things simply went along very calmly and quietly, these days we never know what to expect. Dogs are kicked, cars are parked all over the place, and strange things happen.

At the delightful, yet half built shipping-container holiday village, there is already a 'Gite' in an old converted stone barn beside the owners house; I believe it caters for a maximum of seven holiday makers. When I went by recently there were SIX visitors cars parked outside (above). Yes, six cars for one 'Gite', the one parked on the children's school bus-stop belongs to someone else.

When Lady M took Billy for his evening walk she noticed a whole gang of people standing outdoors, in the drizzly twilight. She said they were looking very suspicious. Maybe it was a stag-do, a cannabis convention, or even a funeral party. It was a sight of which we are not familiar in our quiet corner of the world.


Near where they were standing are the initial diggings of the new Holiday Camp Swimming Pool (possibly similar to the above!!). Piles of earth, etc, are appearing just beyond the entrance. No doubt yet more huge diggers and concrete mixers will soon be making even more noise than before. There is only a derelict house directly opposite the entrance to the holiday complex, but there are three homes within a hundred meters or so who will be severely affected by the inevitable future racket; and we all know what effect pools have on children's decibel levels! We are expecting to hear the noise even from down at our own home, several hundred metres away.

This is exactly why everyone voted against this whole stupid bloody project. The planning dep't bureaucrats who approved it should all be bloody ashamed of themselves.



Saturday, 16 November 2019

Pickled Shallots.



I couldn't find my usual small round pickling Onions, so I bought Shallots instead.

They have been bathed in brine for 24 hrs, and have now been pickled in a sweet red wine vinegar.

I hope they compare favourably with my usual ones. If not, there's still plenty of time before they're needed to go with the cold Turkey etc.


I'm sure I pickled Shallots once before, and they weren't too good, but I've already tasted one of the above and it was fine. 



Friday, 15 November 2019

Twins Seven-Seven.


The first black 'super-star' artist from Africa, must have been Twins Seven-Seven.

Originally a musician and dancer, in 1964 he enrolled on a 'painting workshop' and almost at once became one of Nigeria's foremost painters. International fame soon followed. 


Twins often refused to see other painters' works, simply because he didn't want to be influenced by them.

I remember seeing some of his work in London in the late 1960's. It was 'different', unusual, and refreshing. His subject matter was based on local mythology and culture, and at times has an Aboriginal look about it..


I've never been a big fan of 'ethnic' painting or sculpture, but in Twins' case I make an exception.

He's a painter who's well worth looking at. Google Images has plenty of examples.

The olden days!



Few people now remember, but London's ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) used to be an artist's members club; of which I was a member.

I joined in about 1966, and remained a member until around 1968, when I left to study painting outside of London. The ICA eventually moved from its friendly premises in Dover Street, to Pall Mall where it became an 'Institution'.  The clubs magazine 'Bulletin' was published monthly, and contained interesting articles as well as info about important events. As you might see from the cover, for non-members it cost a Shilling. 

I was just looking at a few of my old 'Bulletins', and was reminded of the hierarchy. Our President was Sir Herbert Read, the Hon Director Sir Roland Penrose, and the director Dr Desmond Morris. All were often present at lectures, exhibitions, or in the bar.

I also notice that our Phone No was Grosvenor 6616....... those were the days!


The Gallery and The Library were exhibition areas. The Gallery was reserved for prestigious exhibitions and concerts, and The Library for us lesser mortals. I exhibited one piece, once, in The Library.

Of course I no longer live in London, but I miss the old ICA anyway. It lost most of its appeal as an artists club when it moved, but in Pall Mall it did become one of the very best exhibition venues.



Thursday, 14 November 2019

The Cranes are leaving.


I've just been out for a walk with Billy and Boo Boo, and we saw hundreds of these Cranes flying over, heading off for Spain or North Africa. These ones (below) were filmed on Sunday, and come from our local newspaper.



They make a beautiful sound as they circle, then head-off in their desired direction; usually in a perfect V formation.

We always wave to them, and wish them well. Then when they return in Spring we'll wave again, and welcome them back.

A truly wonderful sight.


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