Saturday 30 June 2012

Two Roofs, But With a Single Aim.

1. Rank-bloody-amateur, piss-poor, trial-n-error, Oh-my-aching-back, OAP built, Pump House (chez Cro).

2. Highly-paid-and-recommended, professional, call-me-Sir, craftsman-built, Pump House (next door). 

It's worth enlarging the second picture, just to see how certain professional (cowboy) builders work.

Oh, and I think I forgot to mention; my neighbour is a Building Entrepreneur, specialising in the restoration of foreign owned holiday properties (ee speeks liddle eeengeesh). Gawd help them;... if the above was mine, I'D SUE!

I should add that my roof is certainly not perfect. It was the first time I'd attempted such a thing, and mistakes were bound to happen. But the man who built my neighbour's roof is a seasoned professional (cowboy), and really should know better!

I really must stop going on about my bloody idiot neighbour! Or maybe for just a bit longer!
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Friday 29 June 2012


France is OBSESSED by Geraniums.

This last Winter my two potted Fig trees died, so I was left with two large empty terracotta pots.

These Geraniums were bought by Lady M several years ago, and I've managed to over-winter them indoors ever since. 

My over-wintering info' I gleaned from the net, and so far the simple method seems to have worked perfectly. I took off all dead matter, and trimmed them down to a bare minimum. Then in Spring I dug them up, shook off most of the earth from around the roots, and re-potted them in specially made (and quite expensive) Geranium compost. 

For someone who is not-too-hot on flowers, I've been impressed by their longevity. I may even buy some more.

This could become an obsession!
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Thursday 28 June 2012

Happy Birthday Bok.

Bok is 18 months old today. He's not the world's most handsome dog; he's just a DOG (for full impact, do enlarge picture).

He has strange looking yellow eyes, a beautiful sheen on his coat, and he's so fast he can almost run-down a hare. He is also very adept at playing 'Cato' to Monty's 'Clouseau'.

We think he might be half Border Collie, and half Greyhound; but we're not sure. He is very affectionate and reasonably obedient. Having had three different homes, he's also very happy to have found one that is permanent, and he tells us as much.

We adore our little Bok, and so does his brother Monty. What would they do without each other!  

Happy Birthday little Bok. xxxx
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Wednesday 27 June 2012

Diamond Encrusted Candelabra.

No-one's mentioned candle sticks for some while, so.....

I've just bought this very kitsch large candelabra at a local boot sale. I'm still not sure quite what to think about it, but it will be wonderful somewhere, up at the Tobacco drying barn.

My 'design' ambition for the barn interior is for it to be very simple in a rustic/bucolic way, but with the occasional spectacular antique, sculpture, or 'object' thrown in for good measure. So this should be perfect for the kitchen, a bedside table, or even the 'bog'. 

I should add that our work, up at the barn, is not advancing at the rate we had hoped for. Our bloody JCB man (who is supposed to be laying down the concrete floor) sees time very differently to all other folk. He is very much a mañana man..... It could be years!

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Monday 25 June 2012

I wandered lonely as a cloud...


Brollies at the ready.... I think it's about to rain!

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Sunday 24 June 2012

Shock, Horror!

On warm Summer evenings (any warm evenings actually) we usually sit by the pool with our first glass of wine of the day.

Yesterday this guy suddenly turned up. He flew in, and landed by our feet amongst the sleeping dogs.

He (the females don't have the antlers) is a huge Stag Beetle. About 7 cms long, and extremely vicious looking. Isn't he wonderful!

That same evening I came across this guy; I wonder what happened to him. One minute he's crawling across some soggy mud pool; the next he's dead. Frozen in time whilst out for a stroll. 

So much for 'Attacking Toad Hall'.

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Saturday 23 June 2012

Oh Damn!

Lady Magnon has always had reasonably poor eyesight. She wore spex when I first met her, and now wears contacts.

Yesterday evening she was rubbing cream into the drying skin of her legs (women do that sort of thing), when I noticed that the cream she was using seemed to be 'foaming', and was not being absorbed properly.

I cracked an unwelcome joke about a current TV ad', where some beach-babe rubs Mayo onto her body (not having been to the right optician's).

Lady M then looked more closely at the cream's container (this time wearing glasses)..... it was SHAMPOO CONDITIONER!!

Larf? We nearly wet ourselves! 

What next for her legs, we asked; toothpaste, titanium white, or loo cleaner maybe?..... What larks. 

Friday 22 June 2012

Perfect Growing Weather.

A good combination of rain and heat means that everything is growing at an astonishing rate. In the woods we have Girolles, Cèpes, and Parasols. 

Whilst at Haddock's these Brussels Sprouts plants are going great guns. They are bigger, and healthier, now than they usually are at Christmas. The small Pepper plants in front are not so vigorous, but they're always like that early on!

These Red Cabbage plants are also flourishing, and have already begun to form big solid hearts. 

And as for the Courgettes, they are now providing more than enough for our every day needs. I think there are 9 plants and they will continue feeding us well into September. They are also an essential part of my Winter Tomato based preserves.

And finally here are our Winter Squashes. I only grow 'Waltham' Butternut Squashes; they are without question the most delicious of all the Marrow/Pumpkin/Squash families, and they keep well until about April. No Winter roast is the same without a few chunks of Butternut tucked in amongst the spuds. I recommend that you roast twice the amount that you need for your meal, the remainder, cold, the following day is even better.

Behind them are my two cherry tomato plants..... what more can I say!
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Thursday 21 June 2012

Ex Alumni.

Old school friends never part, they just change continents.

Here is Lady Magnon with her old school friend W, who presently lives in Evanston Illinois (USA). Both attended the same School in Bethesda, Washington DC, way back in the 19**'s, and they were also Brownies together (Oh how I would loved to have seen that!).

W and her husband Dr P are on a quick tour of France and called in yesterday for a light lunch. I imagine the girls could have chatted for weeks about 'the good old days', but W's next destination was beckoning. They were off to visit the fabulous painted Pech Merle caves at Cabrerets, north east of Cahors.

They were such good friends all those years ago, and as far as I can see, nothing has really changed.

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Wednesday 20 June 2012

Guest writer: Monty... 'My Family'.

This is my Mum, with two of her boys; the one on the right I 'think' was me; it's hard to tell because we were all so damned handsome, and all so damned similar.  

The picture was taken whilst I was still at Miss Tadpole's Rescue Centre. 

I had four brothers, all of whom found homes as quickly as I did; and my Mum has a new home too, she'd been badly treated by her previous family. How anybody could maltreat a Labrador (especially my Mum), I really don't know. We have the kindest friendliest nature of almost any dog.

And this is a photo of me now. Perhaps I was thinking about my mother. Perhaps I was thinking about my four brothers. Actually, I expect I was just thinking how very lucky I am, and what a wonderful bloody life I have!

Do you see the family resemblance? Of course you do; we're both Labs, and we're both GORGEOUS. 

Tuesday 19 June 2012

Le Chêne Royale.

It had been my intention to plant a tree for the Queen's recent Jubilee celebrations. I had chosen the tree; an apple. I had chosen the variety; Royal Gala (what else). What I hadn't chosen, however, were the various machines, the huge piles of sand, and the mountains of concrete blocks, that were spread all over where the tree was to be planted..... in our new orchard. 

An alternative HAD to be found. It was simply not possible to allow such an historical event to pass without marking it in some form or another. 

So I've cheated (slightly) by, instead, naming the oldest and most magnificent of our wonderful Oak trees 'THE ROYAL OAK'. We shall have the official 'naming ceremony' in early August, when I anticipate that Her Majesty will be available for some ribbon cutting. 

I'll have a small brass plaque made (and one of those curtain thingies), and shall expect a Knighthood in her New Year's Honours list.

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Monday 18 June 2012


Haddock's is now providing plenty of Courgettes, Swiss Chard, Curly Kale, Cauliflowers, Onions, Salads, Radishes, and a selection of fruits including Red Currants Tayberries and Cherries.

We're still having to buy Tomatoes, but our own won't be long. 

Give it another couple of weeks and we won't be buying any more veggies until Winter.

And just look at my Cauliflower. I wish I'd noted the variety name, the pink blush is beautiful. It's almost reverting to a type of Purple Sprouting Broccoli.

Does anyone else have this colouring on their Caulis?

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Sunday 17 June 2012

Nice Day For It!

The sky is blue, the sun is out, the Chestnuts are in flower; it's going to be a hot day. So, what better morning than this for taking a wee ride in a hot air balloon.

The horses watched, the dogs watched, and I took the pix.

We have our own balloon trip booked for July/August; we can't wait. I wonder if we'll be going up in this one?

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Saturday 16 June 2012

The Great Wall of Lumberjack.

To become a professional builder you require just 3 things; a long piece of string, a stone (preferably with a hole through it), and a level. For the Vertical you require the string and stone, and for the Horizontal, the level. You'll also need to attend a 'How to Build Stuff' course; this finishes when the pub closes after day 2. N.B. It's there, in that pub, that you will also be required to learn by heart The Builder's Pledge... 'A thing of beauty is a joy for two weeks'.

So, if you adhere to all the above requirements, you (together with a few monkeys) can build something like this..... A BRIGHT ORANGE WALL.

For obvious reasons we're now thinking Leylandii, Virginia Creeper, Privet, Wisteria, Graffiti Tags, Small Bomb, Large Bomb, Any Sized Bomb.

Mushroom connoisseurs may be amused by my oh-so-funny juxtaposition below; especially as it's 'Girolle' season here; maybe that's where their 'inspiration' came from.

Ooh look, there's another bloody car and trailer, digging ruts into our land again. Yippee!

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Friday 15 June 2012


As far as I can see, there are only two good things about rain. Firstly, it gives us water to drink, and, secondly, it helps grow the food we eat.

Otherwise it's a complete pain in the rectum.

The finished 'look' of my recent building project was always very reliant on greenery, and I'm pleased to say that our current period of 'pain in the rectum' rain has been doing it's job extremely well, and everything's flourishing.

Once again we have been sleeping out in the 'tower', and, other than Freddie jumping all over me at night, it is probably the most relaxing place to sleep; anywhere. The sound of the rain, the rustling of the leaves, and the occasional flash of lightning, makes it all into a beautiful experience.

p.s. Our weather has now improved, and we're back to Summer.
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Thursday 14 June 2012

What a bummer!

This charming creature is known as Vanity Wonder. I read that she has spent $15,000 on injecting Lard into her buttocks, in order to make them that size.

I don't know if Ms Wonder has either a husband or boyfriend (somehow I doubt it), but can you imagine her ever asking that essential of all female questions "Does my bum look big in this?".

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Wednesday 13 June 2012

Shah's Cars?

Fellow blogger, Mr Tom Stephenson, recently reminded me of this odd, and slightly worrying, tale from the distant past.

Back in the 60's a very good school friend of mine spent several years living in Iran. His father (a senior RAF officer) had been sent to Tehran under some secret skulduggery between governments; passing on sensitive RAF radar know-how, in exchange for something much more sinister. I am not allowed to say more.

My friend's family became very friendly with the Shah, his wife, and their extensive family. They skied together in the mountains, and picnicked together on the beach; they were on intimate terms.

But my tale does not concern the Shah, it concerns the society he had inadvertently created; one of extreme rich and poor, and nothing in between.

My friend had noticed that the few cars that cruised around Tehran were all very big, very new, and very expensive. At that time there were no older cars being driven around, nor were there any second-hand dealerships. So, what (my friend asked) happened to all the 1 or 2 year old cars?

The answer was provided by the family's chauffeur, who took my friend out into the desert where hundreds of cars had simply been dumped. Almost brand new cars, still with fuel in their tanks, and keys in the starter; they had all been driven well away from the city, and abandoned, simply to be replaced by the latest model.

To a young man of my friend's persuasion, this was heaven. He drove them around, crashed them into one another, and sped across the dunes until they became ensconced knee-deep in soft sand. There were no bounds to his destructive invention. It was evil wastage on a ridiculous scale, and no-one could give a damn. He proudly brought back photos as proof of his endeavours.

Elsewhere in Tehran at that time, there were regular public hangings (some things never change), imprisoning and torture of political opponents, endemic fear of authority, and of course massive corruption. And as we all know, the Shah's reign ended only to be replaced by an even worse regime of religious fanaticism that continues today in the same style.

I was lucky to meet several charming ex-pat Iranians when I lived in London's Bayswater during this same period. Most of them were students, and they lived under constant surveillance. One amongst them even suggested that there were probably as many Iranian Secret Service men in London as there were students, and it was impossible to tell which was which. What was their fate on returning home, one can but imagine. I quite expect it's the same today.

Tuesday 12 June 2012

The Lovely (alive and well) June Whitfield.

Dear June Whitfield; she has accompanied me through life like a proverbial well fitting overcoat.

I first discovered her at the age of about 6 or 7, when she played the part of Eth Glum in the radio comedy 'Take it from Here' with Jimmy Edwards (I thought this was hilarious); since then she's appeared in the most amazing variety of shows on stage, screen, and radio. 

She's worked with Tony Hancock, Dixon of Dock Green, Arthur Askey, Benny Hill, Steptoe and Son, Frankie Howerd, and appeared in several 'Carry On' films. She was also in Terry and June (obviously), It Ain't Half Hot Mum, Minder, The News Huddlines, Midsomer Murders, Last of the Summer Wine, Coronation Street, Dr Who, and, of course, Absolutely Fabulous.

I've missed out loads I'm sure, but for those of us brought up on a diet of English Radio and TV, there can be no other actress to compare with our National Treasure, June.

Ms Whitfield is now 86, and still working. Look out for her in 'special editions' of Ab Fab; there's plenty of life in the old gal yet!

Love yer June baby!.

Monday 11 June 2012

Summer Delights. No 1, Sardines.

Sardines are one of my absolute favourite Summer treats. I'm sure they're available all year round, but for me it has to be June/July/August.

They are so delicate, that trying to take a half-decent photo of them cooked is almost impossible; they always look messy. However, that doesn't alter the exquisite taste.

Normally I dust them in seasoned flour before frying in olive oil, but last night I went native, and cooked them as nature intended (beach style). Flouring first would probably made for a more appealing picture.

I had intended keeping one for Freddie (the cat), but gluttony got the better of me!  
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Sunday 10 June 2012

Green Lizard.

I apologise in advance for the picture, this was the best of about 3 I took, after which he was gone.

These lovely creatures are becoming rarer by the hour. We used to see them all the time, basking in the sun; this one was warming himself on a log by our washing line. I had to drop the clothes pegs, dash indoors and out again, before snapping away. He wasn't amused.

From tip to toe they are about 30 cms long, and the blue of their throats is stunning.

I also saw a Hoopoe yesterday. He (I imagine it was a he) was singing with just two 'hoos' instead of the usual three. i.e. Hoo hoo; not hoo hoo hoo! The Hoopoe is arguably Europe's most beautiful bird; wonderful to have one in the garden, I hope he comes back.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Beam Me Up Scotty.

I've always claimed to be a mild-mannered and quiet soul. I rise happy each morning, usually at about 5.30am, I get on with my day's work without complaining or annoying anyone, and as long as no 'superior bullshitters' cross my busy path, I retire equally happy at about 11pm. It's a simple existence, but it suits me fine.

I keep myself to myself; to the extent of being accused of being a hermit. I have no need for the company of pseudo friends; I'm not a clique person; I'm very selective, and know some wonderful people.

But for the moment I seem to be surrounded by idiots. One neighbour is currently trying to make our new field into a replica of the Somme, another is nit-picking about one of our dogs (after US having looked after TWO of THEIRS for more time than I care to remember), and yet another has a kleptomaniac child.

The problem with being 'a loner' is that it gives others someone to complain about behind their back. An absent person cannot rebuke petty character assassination, and one becomes an easy target for all sorts of nonsense. I won't go into details but I am from a background that attracts both envy and venom.... so I'm used to it.

Occasionally it all becomes overbearing, and I slip into a mild depression. I hide it reasonably well, but it burrows deep. Sometimes I wish I could just step into some modern transporter and get Scotty to 'beam me up'..... not quite sure where to, but anywhere away from thieving children, adults who behave like sniffy school prefects, and arrogant Parisians who don't have the fucking courtesy to ask permission before fucking-up our fucking property.

The illustration is there simply because it gives me some pleasure. A rarity at the moment.

Friday 8 June 2012

Lake be-gone-with-you.

I am an insomniac, and at night I often lie in bed, with an earphone stuck in one ear, listening to the radio via my satellite TV.

I listen to various stations, but one of my favourites is BBC's Radio 4 Extra. They broadcast old comedy shows, as well as some pretty good classic serials.

In recent times I've turned on, and found myself listening to a show called 'Garrison Keillor's Radio Show'; a bizarre American concoction of aimless chatter and dreary Country and Western wailing.

Am I supposed to laugh somewhere? Is it supposed to be serious? Have I missed some important point? I'm baffled!

Has anyone else come across this strange programme? There are often bizarre reciprocal arrangements between international TV and Radio stations, so I imagine the BBC were forced to take this one in exchange for one of theirs. Even so, I can't understand why it's on Radio 4 Extra; it doesn't seem to belong there (or anywhere, really).

Enlightenment maybe?

Thursday 7 June 2012

Coming along nicely....

I planted my Courgettes on the 19th of May; just about 20 days ago, and already I have flowers and tiny fruits. A few more days and I shall be eating the first of the crop. I've also made a resolution to eat the flowers this year; usually they end up on the compost.... my laziness.

Everything else is looking OK. The Red Cabbages are really doing well, as are the Red Onions, Carrots, Sprouts, etc.  I've put in a few Giant Pumpkins this year (I usually don't bother with such frippery), and they are already looking as if they might produce champion fruits.

The Tomatoes are all in flower, there's 'some' fruit on the trees, and elsewhere I've been gathering a reasonable amount of Girolles (and two small Cèpes). 

Hoeing, for the moment, is still rewarding, but things tend to change towards Summer when weeds become ignored. However, with a currently tidy Haddock's, and very few bugs about, things are looking as good as can be expected.

And look what I've just found. I was doing a little hand-weeding, when I discovered THIS (there are about 3 this size)..... I'm amazed!

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