Thursday 28 February 2013

The holidays are over; in fact, they're deleted.

Last August I posted a photo of my grandson, Ollie, wearing nothing but his father's gum-boots. I have now deleted this posting.

I went back to it recently, as it appeared on my 'others you may like' widget, and I was disgusted to find two, relatively recent, anonymous comments, both of an unbelievably obscene nature.

OK, maybe I was a bit naive posting a photo of a small naked boy, even though he was facing away from the camera, but I never expected the amount of FILTH that I received from Messrs Anonymous.

Tom (aka Hippo) was recently up before the beak having clocked some idiot who was attacking his wife. Well let me say, in no uncertain terms, that if I knew who these perverts were, I'd take a rusty blade to their testicles in an instant, and happily face the beak as a result.

Mess with my grandsons and you mess with me, and THAT I wouldn't wish on anyone! I'm not nice when I'm angry.

Nota Bene: I've been relatively free from idiots on this blog, but none of us is immune. I do have one nutter, however, who is slightly worrying. His name is Colm Brennan (sounds a tad Irish), and he occasionally leaves expletive-filled comments about me personally.

I like to think I respect everyone's opinions, and I hope that mine are respected in return. I've looked at a short video on this particular character's Google + profile, and he obviously has either 'learning difficulties' (which is no excuse), or a drug problem, so it wouldn't be fair to attack him nastily. I don't want to block him, as it might be better for him to vent his anger on line rather than in the street. But I do wish he'd be a little more articulate. All 'F's' and 'C's' don't make for interesting reading.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Glove Weather.

It's been freezing here lately, and we've even had our second load of snow; albeit very little.

So it's been out with the scarf and gloves again, only I have a problem. My gloves (above) don't seem to make any difference to the warmth of my hands. I suspect they're made of some synthetic material (probably a horse derivative), that does not have any insulation properties.

But it's not only in the glove department where such things happen. I once bought a hammer who's head came off on its very first nail-whack, I was once given a cheap 'slinky' that didn't 'slink', and I've had a series of stone drill-bits with 'Tungsten' tips that just melted away. There have been plenty of other examples.

So it makes me wonder why certain manufacturers (probably mostly in China or Taiwan) even bother to make such things. Wouldn't it be so much simpler to do the job properly, charge a bit more for the product, and avoid all the bloody client anger.

Of course it's also up to the buyer; a bargain is not always what it seems, especially when it comes to gloves.

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Tuesday 26 February 2013

BB and the Beau.

Seeing as I'm out of action for a couple of days... I got to reminiscing!

In 1966 I was dealing in antiques in London's Chelsea. My partnership with Justin de Villeneuve (Nigel Davies) had just ended, and I'd set-up on my own dealing in early European polychromed wood carvings; mostly ancient religious artefacts. Justin was just too busy establishing little Twiggy as a model, to bother with antiques. 

It was late Summer, and Brigitte Bardot had just recently married Gunter Sachs. Unbeknown to me, and probably to everyone else, they were spending part of their honeymoon in London.

I remember looking around and seeing her holding some rather nice piece, and saying something like 'zees iz booty-fool';... and that was the extent of our encounter.

But more interesting (at least, it was to me), was that Herr Sachs was wandering about by himself, totally indifferent to his new bride, whilst BB herself was accompanied, VERY attentively, by her magnificently attired chauffeur.

BB, of course, looked stunning, but her chauffeur stole the show. He was tall, very tanned, extremely handsome, and kitted-out in a black uniform with gold buttons. Black chauffeur's hat, jacket buttoned to the neck, jodhpurs, and knee length leather boots; all impeccable and very impressive; I'm sure you can picture the style. 

Had someone asked me which (between the two men) was her 'beau', I would have definitely picked the chauffeur.  

Her marriage to Sachs only lasted a couple of years.... I wonder why?

Monday 25 February 2013

No Spring Chicken!!!

The problem with having the mind of a 21 year old, and the body of a 121 year old, is that occasionally they clash, and end-up saying 'enough is enough'.

I've never shirked from doing work that any younger, or stronger, man would take in his stride. I shin up trees, saw mountains of logs (admittedly with my Husqvarna), and clean Augean Stables on a daily basis.

At the moment I have three main areas of work; the children's tree house, preparing Haddock's for Spring planting, and general work around the barn. I usually plan which job I will prioritise for the day, and attack with full force. It's only at the end of the day when I realise that my bones, muscles, and energy levels, are lacking in their previously unquestioned vigour.

Over the past few days I have gone a little overboard wanting to make good progress on certain fronts, and today I'm paying the hefty price. I've managed to tear a muscle in my right shoulder, my hands feel like bunches of swollen pulsating salamis, and my lower back is just one huge aching pain. I fear that my poor old body is trying to tell me something.

OK, I won't be able to do anything for a few days (other than saw wood; which is essential), so the ageing process has won the day.

DAMN ageing, DAMN tired muscles, and double-DAMN these wretched effects.

Sunday 24 February 2013

Those two hungry Italians.

I've never made a secret of the fact that I'm a bit of a foodie.

TV chefs come and go. Some are screaming hyperactive loonies, some are busty sex Goddesses  and some you really wouldn't want to fry an egg for you.

These two above are not really 'TV chefs'; they are more 'food enthusiasts', and their recent re-run of 'Two Hungry Italians' on the UK's BBC 2 (unfortunately at a silly time in the afternoon), was an absolute delight. Later series were called 'Two Greedy Italians', and 'Still Hungry'.

Gennaro Contaldo (left) and Antonio Carluccio (right) are Italians who have decided to make England their home, but their enthusiasm for everything Italian (especially food) remains infectious. 

The recent programmes followed them around the Italy of their childhoods, as they remembered times past through places and plates. They cooked simple country dishes, chatted with simple country folk, and reminisced (often with tears in their eyes) about all that they'd left behind.

They are both extremely likeable characters, and their love for their homeland (and each other) is touching. If their programme turns up where you live, or you should find a DVD, I recommend them wholeheartedly.

One thing did come across from their programmes, however; that you definitely get much better Italian cuisine in London or New York than you do in Italy. Rather like Indian, Chinese, and probably even French. 

Saturday 23 February 2013

Wandering aimlessly.

Being out alone with the dogs, deep in the woods, is just about my favourite part of the day. The silence is stunning, the surroundings spectacular, and just watching the boys running around is heart-warming.

But as I walk, there is always something or other going on inside my head; usually it's trying to work-out how  something should be done. What would be the best route for some electrical wiring, what timber should I use for some little project, or have I got enough sand for something or other?

Occasionally other less innocent subjects get tossed about up there. I still worry about the horrendous orange wall, I worry about the state of the world (especially the UK), and I worry about relatively unimportant health issues.

Walking in deserted woodland must be the closest thing to meditation without actually having to sit on a mat in the lotus position; but clearing my mind of unwanted thoughts seems impossible.

I need to learn some method of 'brainwashing' myself. To be able to have NOTHING going through my head; to be void of all thoughts, problems, or emotions.

Maybe no such method exists, but occasionally it would be very welcome.

Friday 22 February 2013

It's a start.....

As predicted, I was able to get the rotovator on to Haddock's yesterday afternoon. I turned over about a third of the plot, and then gave up on account of my bloody back; ouch!

Just out of picture, to the right, are my remaining purple sprouting broccolis, a few measly sprouts, and one or two curly kale plants. Nothing to write home about.

However, I did take a peek under one of my rhubarb forcing pots, and this is what I found...

Nice buds and tiny leaves. It shouldn't be too long before rhubarb crumble is back on the Magnon menu.

Otherwise, the tree house is advancing; although little Miss elf-n-safety (Lady Magnon) has BANNED me from building a third story. She says it's far too high up, and is afraid that her darling little grandsons will tumble and perish. So it's now turning into a Tree Pirate Ship instead; anyone got a spare anchor? 

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Thursday 21 February 2013

Haddock's is Flagging.

These are probably the last of the carrots and sprouts; just as the purple sprouting broccoli is about to start.

Haddock's performed very well last year, and into this. We still have plenty of bottled ratatouille, etc, as well as pickles, chutneys, and preserved fruits. My intention is always to reach the following year's harvests without having to deprive myself of anything.

Most of what I grow is eaten cooked, so not having 'fresh' is not really a problem. Of course we don't have fresh tomatoes at the moment, but then it's not salad season anyway. And the courgettes and aubergines that await, bottled in tomato sauce, would normally end up cooked even if they'd been gathered fresh; I'm getting through about 2 jars each week.

I grew no potatoes last year (nor will I this). At just a couple of Euros for a 5 kilo bag, it's hardly worth bothering.

Haddock's looks a bit unloved at the moment, I'd like to give it a good going over with the rotovator, but I think it'll have to be aerated a bit before the blades will penetrate properly; a matter of forking and lifting (a day's work).

Up at the top end, the hens are looking happy. The sunshine has lifted their spirits, and they are laying again. I've given them the run of Haddock's recently (see above) and they've not destroyed anything; I feared they'd eat my sprouts, but they've left well alone.

Quite a while to go before the 2013 growing campaign starts in earnest, but as soon as the weather allows I'll begin to spread compost and prepare the soil. I like to see it all neat, tidy, and ready to attack.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

A Hint of Spring.

There are several signs of approaching Spring. The Daffs have been poking their heads above ground, the Peach trees are showing tiny flower/fruit buds, and (I hear that) the Cranes have started to return from their over-wintering in Morocco and elsewhere.

But chez Magnon we have our own ways.... The windows have all been cleaned (me), all the doors and windows thrown open (her), and the lawn mower (the non ride-on one) dragged from its hibernation, given a quick rub-down with a damp cloth, plug cleaned and sprayed with WD40, and miraculously started up (me again).

Now that it's warmer, our sitting room fire is only lit in the late afternoons, and for the first time this year we take our early evening glass of medicinal wine outdoors on the terrace (at that table lower left), before heading indoors.

Stews will soon become less frequent, the hot-water-bottle and electric blanket will be put away, and my thermal vests will be placed in that drawer marked 'not to be opened till next winter'.

Now where are my shorts; or am I being a tad previous?
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Tuesday 19 February 2013

I Wood; Woodn't I.

I've just struggled home; desperately overloaded with six 4 metre planks loosely tied to the top of the compact Royce. 5 by 15 by 400 cms really didn't sound that big when I ordered them, but when I went to collect them they looked HUGE.

I drove the 20 kms home at about 15 kph, with every bump and pot-hole sounding as if it would tear the 'roof rack' from its fixings. But, amazingly, all went well.

The wood is Stage One of a tree house for my grandsons. I plan to build a three story aerial adventure park, that might well become four, or even five, stories in time. The tree (an Oak) is big enough, and my imagination fertile. These planks will form the basis of the first two floors, as well as the basic staircase structures, it's now just a matter of getting a lot more wood, and getting it all nailed together.

More photo's will, of course, follow in time!

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Monday 18 February 2013

What a bloody cheek!

Our post on Saturday contained three invitations. Above, to the annual OLDIES meal up at the village (Jambon braisé)

Another to an OLDIES cybercafé (with free biscuits), where one could be taught (by condescending young geeks) how to turn on your laptop, how to buy incontinence pads on the net, and how to turn off again.

And lastly (and probably the worst) to an OLDIES Sunday afternoon Tea-Dance (with more free biscuits).

Oh my god..... they've really got my number. It won't be long before I start getting post from Coffin-u-like or Retirement homes-r-us.

I've told them a thousand times 'You're only as OLDIE as you feel, and I don't feel like a bloody OLDIE'.
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Sunday 17 February 2013

The Farce Continues.

"Well it says pork on the label".

Cartoon by the wonderful 'Mac' of The Daily Mail.

Saturday 16 February 2013

Bread and Cheese.

My oldest son, Kimbo, is a wonderful chap. He knows exactly what to bring over from Blighty for his Papa when he visits. Some tasty little tit-bit, speciality, or difficult to find ingredient, is always revealed on arrival.

On his last visit he brought cheese. Some Extra Mature Double Gloucester, some Canadian Vintage Cheddar, and another (that I can't remember) which we ate whilst he was here (all from Tesco).

I've said before that out of the (roughly) 365 cheeses that are produced here in France, very few come anywhere near the standard of a good mature English or Canadian Cheddar. 

One really would have thought that with so many wonderful cheeses just north of the Channel, that they would take advantage. But no; I have to rely on my son for the occasional treat.  

Only once have I found Cheddar in a French supermarket. It was labelled 'Seriously Tasty Cheddar', but it wasn't; it was bland. But then with a name like that, what would you expect. Sadly, if that was a Frenchman's only experience of English cheese, then it's not surprising that they're not clambering for more!

Merçi mon petit.

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Friday 15 February 2013

Stunning Sunrise.

I've seen some amazing sunrises; we all have! But this one a few days ago was simply staggering.

The whole sky was ablaze; one could almost have run for the hills in fear.

I really should buy a decent camera; but then I'd have no more excuses for my bad photos!
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Thursday 14 February 2013

The Bread Oven.

This is the business-end of one of our local bread ovens. Each farm had one, and each would take its weekly turn to fire it up. The good ladies of each farm would then take their dough to the week's designated oven, and bake their bread for the whole week.

A fire was lit inside the oven with bundles of dried wood and about a cubic metre of oak. This was kept going at a healthy blaze until the next day. The ashes were then scraped to one side, and the loaves put to bake.

This particular oven, which belongs to my friend Terry (St Theresa of The Floral Tribute), also has a small secondary oven (far right), which no doubt took lots of the hot ashes, and was used to cook stews, etc.

There was recently a government backed project to build new communal bread ovens in villages, but I've not heard of one being built. Maybe there was no enthusiasm.

No-one uses their ovens these days. Occasionally someone will hold a Pizza Party; but that's as far as it goes.

I'm thinking of building a small version up at our barn; a bit like the one in Jamie Oliver's garden (if that means anything). 

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Wednesday 13 February 2013

Confined to Barracks.

We are having some really foul, early Spring, weather at the moment. It's either freezing bloody cold, snowing, or pouring; not conducive to venturing outdoors too much. Of course the dogs aren't bothered about weather, they just want to be running around, no matter what. 

But if the boss says NO, the next best thing is to curl up by the fire, maybe watch an episode of Dog Martin on TV, or just sleep.

And the same goes for me (but not on the floor)!
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Tuesday 12 February 2013


So, old Benny's thrown in the towel. He's had enough!

His boss was so furious on hearing of his resignation, that he threw a bloody great lightning bolt at The Vatican. Oy vey!!!!

The question now is; who will replace him. The job criteria is a bit dodgy, and quite varied; the new boy mustn't be married, must pretend to believe in fairies, and be prepared to live in absolute luxury whilst 'giving succour to the poor'. 

Otherwise he should expect to undertake a lot of world travel, spend a lot of time in church, and he (and it must be a he) should show a penchant for heavily embroidered dresses (ahem). 

I do like the sound of becoming Pope Cro, but frankly I don't think I qualify on any count (I'm certainly not prepared to wear a frock!).

Monday 11 February 2013

Wanted; Wing-Back!

I've reached that age when a wing-back chair looks extremely inviting.

Usually after lunch I grab a quick 10 minute 'power nap', and I can think of no better way of enjoying this than snoozing amongst the downy cushions of an old wing-back chair; preferably Queen Anne with upholstery by Aubusson.

So, I'm on the search for my chair. It needs to be reasonably similar to the one above, in good nick, and cheap. In the UK it would simply be a matter of going to the local tip, and saying eeny, meeny, miny, moe. But not so in France.

If any nearby English family is selling-up, and clearing out all their old furniture, I'd be very willing to accept a gift of said chair. I would even take it away completely free of charge. 

I thank you. (all offers to Cro at Magnon's Meanderings)

Sunday 10 February 2013

If only.....

Susan here recently asked 'What would you be doing, if you weren't grounded by fear?'

I replied 'Living in India'.

I've not visited India, but I've always had an irrational desire to live there. It seems to me the most exotic place on earth, with wonderful architecture, and wonderful food. But it's foreign-ness (as far as living there is concerned) is overwhelming.

These old abandoned Hill Forts (above) in Rajasthan can be found all over; many have now been turned into hotels, and at one time could be bought for next to nothing. I could see myself living in rustic splendour with several servants, cooks, and wallahs, all for the cost of a week's shopping in France.

There are plenty of cheap Hill Forts still available, and for the brave they offer a wonderful life. Craftsmen are plentiful, and their restoration (and modernisation) is not a problem.

When someone invents that time machine, and I am 25 again, maybe I would throw extreme caution to the winds, and move to India.

Maharajah Cro..... Yes, I can see it now.

Saturday 9 February 2013

Merçi Monsieur Leclerc.

As an ex-pat, there are still just a few things that I miss from 'back home'.

England is justifiably proud of it's colonial past links with India, and the English have embraced Indian cuisine with open arms; curries now being on top of the English list of favourite foods.

I recently suggested to my local supermarket that they add certain Indian foods to their range of foreign foods (which they did), but the one they ignored was Brinjal Pickle.

I'm extremely happy to say that this too has now arrived, and I purchased the two jars, above, this morning. I just hope they live up to the standard of my usual brand, Patak's.  

Thank you so much M Leclerc.... Now, how about some really good Melton Mowbray pork pies?
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Thursday 7 February 2013

And so to beds...

This one, above, is a simple single bed. Known as 'Tenpin's bed', it was my daughter's when she was small.

This one is known as 'Cathy's bed', after a friend who was the first to sleep in it (since our ownership).

And this one is simply a small child's bed. Now, sadly, almost too small for any of our grandsons. It is missing the fancy central arm which originally held-up a mosquito net. I'm still looking for a replacement. 

These very basic, but quite elegant, French peasant beds used to be found on rubbish tips everywhere. Nowadays they are sold for high prices at antique fairs. 

Moral: never throw anything out!

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Wednesday 6 February 2013


This junior quad bike has been abandoned by the side of a nearby woodland track for the last week or two. It belongs to the 18/19 year old daughter of my near (orange wall) neighbour.

a. Has is simply run out of petrol, and she's waiting for daddy to buy a new one (with a filled tank)?

b. Did it have a 'Free to good home' sticker on it, which has disappeared in a gust of wind?

c. Now that she has a boyfriend, does she perhaps look upon it a past 'My little quad' girly toy?

d. Is it maybe fitted with an explosive device which would be detonated by sitting on the saddle?

e. Is 'black and white' too 2012?

f. Has it been placed there for the dogs, to make up for the lack of rural lamp-posts?

g. Could it be the first foreign 'Boris Quad'?

h. (or probably the most likely) She's simply forgotten where she left it; or even owned one!
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Tuesday 5 February 2013

Reigning Cats-n-Dogs.

Freddie (the cat) has always been a bit wary of the dogs. He knows he was here first, and considers their arrival as newcomer-intrusion.

So, over the last few months, I've been 'training' him to accept them as fellow-four-footers.

Monty now licks him vigorously, and Bok just sniffs his bum. They are, at last, coming to some sort of truce.

If I introduced a kitten into the fold, I'm certain it would end up sleeping amongst the dogs, but as Freddie is the oldest, he just does his own thing and avoids them!

I shall continue with my 'training' until they are all perfectly comfortable in each other's company..... that may take some time, but I'm confident that I'll get there.
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Monday 4 February 2013

Well Loved Hats.

After the dog ate my 'ratting' beret (see here) I was forced to employ alternatives.

I first started wearing berets way back when I was about 18. I seem to remember that my first one was grey, and I originally considered them less likely to blow away in strong winds than a 'peaked' or 'brimmed' hat; I was probably wrong.

I have experimented with other forms of head-gear, and did once own a wonderful brown Harris Tweed peaked cap. But I stupidly lent it to a pretty Parisian girl and that was the last I saw of it; a bereavement of sorts. Proof that a pretty face can bring Cro to his knees!

When Bok ate my beret I was almost in shock. A hat that one wears EVERY DAY becomes a part of you; it becomes that 'old friend'.

So, on finding the remains, I was forced to revert to my slightly smarter weekday beret, and my Sunday best beret. Above is the Sunday; my weekday must have been otherwise engaged. The portrait photo, above, is by Charles Fenton-Savage; it makes me look ancient, but I rather like it.

Of course I can't speak of berets without mentioning my all-time-hero beard/beret combo wearer; the wonderful Abbé Pierre (below).

I think this must have been his Sunday beret too!

I draw NO comparisons between Cro and the Abbé Pierre, other than our penchant for floppy hats.

Nota Bene: Anyone who does not know of L'Abbé Pierre might read his 1954 'Uprising of kindness' speech. It's well worth 2 minutes of anyone's time.

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Sunday 3 February 2013

Picky Pony.

Dobbin refuses to eat his crusts; he just goes for the best bits, in the soft tasty interior.

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Saturday 2 February 2013

Very Expensive Piss.

Dontcha just love Tamara Ecclestone!

An evening out at Mayfair's Aura Club, with a few friends, ends up with them collectively pissing away £30,676.25p.

Of course, (daddy's) money is nothing to arch-bimbo Tamara, but wouldn't it have been wiser to have spent just the £76.25p on booze, and given the other £30,600 to some worthy cause. One might even have thought kindly of the poor dear, rather than thinking what a complete plonker she is!

Just an idea, but she could have had the booze delivered to her newly purchased £78 million 'Fleur de Lys' mansion in LA, invited her chums around, and probably still had change from a $1,000 note.

But then, she may not even know how to find her 'Fleur de Lys' mansion.

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