Sunday 30 June 2013

The Digital Age.

How incredibly lucky we are to live in the Digital Age.

Both my parents died about 30 years ago, and they knew nothing of computers, film-less cameras, or personal portable telephones.

Yet nowadays, with the use of a £60 camera, one can send images to the other side of the world in seconds.

Occasionally I look at my little Fujifilm AX200 camera (above) in amazement. It takes beautiful photos and movies (with sound), and with the simple action of inserting the SD card into my laptop, I can supply images to anyone in the world almost instantly.

One of my regrets about losing my mother when I did, is that she never got to experience Digital 'stuff'. She would have loved it, and would have looked upon it as pure MAGIC; as indeed I do!

p.s. I have 2 of these Fujifilm AX200 cameras; t'other one took the photo. 

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Saturday 29 June 2013

Are You Off Your Bleedin' Rocker, George?

Expats in France look set to lose winter fuel allowance

George-osborneEXPATS living in France are set to lose their entitlement to the winter fuel allowance after the chancellor introduced a 'temperature test' in his spending review.
George Osborne said: "From the autumn of 2015, we will link the winter fuel payment to a temperature test. People in hot countries will no longer get it. It is, after all, a payment for winter fuel."
This means all pensioners living in France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Malta, Gibraltar and Cyprus, will no longer get the benefit as they have warmer winter weather.
The list of countries was drawn up by the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, which analysed which countries were warmer on average between November and March than the south west of England - the warmest part of the UK.

I thank my friend Craig McGinty of thisfrenchlife for the above.

Regular followers of this page will have seen how very harsh our winters can be, and without central heating, we spend hours chopping wood, keeping fires lit, often whilst snowed-in and unable to replenish supplies.

I, personally, don't receive any state pension, but Lady Magnon does and her meagre annual 'winter fuel allowance' has always been extremely welcome. With winter temperatures dropping to around minus 10 C, or even at times as low as minus 15 C, we need to heat the house on a permanent basis or risk the interior walls becoming cold and difficult to re-heat. 300 year old stone houses did not come with insulation. This tiny payment to help pensioners with their fuel bills (whilst, in our case, perhaps not essential) is greatly appreciated.

So, here's an open invitation to George. Come and spend a few weeks chez nous during January or February, and see for yourself if it's bloody cold or not.

As for the idiots at the pathetic Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia; I bloody despair.

p.s. Don't even get me going about the vast amounts of money handed out to every Tom, Dick, or Mohammed, who knocks on Britain's door; maybe George should do something about them first; NOT take money from those who've actually paid in for it!

Friday 28 June 2013

Siesta Season.

When it's oppressively hot in the early afternoon, there's really only one sensible thing to do; sleep.

Just like the dogs, we find our own shady and comfortable spot, and snooze away before chucking ourselves in the pool for further essential cooling.

Personally I head for the 'tower' where I throw the window and door wide open and, with the minimum of clothing, try to sleep for an hour or so.

Lady Magnon, however, prefers the sofa on the covered terrace. With iPad in hand, and the babbling brook-like sound of the pool in her ears, she replies to hundreds of Emails, updates her Facebook page, and probably dreams of kissing frogs.

As a boy, I was always bemused by how the Spaniards retreated to their shuttered homes, just as the Brits rushed for the beach. Now of course I understand that they were the sensible ones, and we were the 'red and blistered' ones.

As Noel Coward so rightly stated...... 'the sun is much too sultry, one must avoid its ultry violet rays'.
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Thursday 27 June 2013


I've just come across this quite old, and very fuzzy, photo, tucked into my AA 'Guide to Morocco'.

I'd checked into a large reasonably priced hotel in the Guéliz area of Marrakech. My hair was cut short (back in the 70's, in Tangier, I'd been forced to cut off my shoulder length locks, so was taking no chances), my shades 'almost' hid my identity, and I wore black.

So as to blend in with the locals, Lady Magnon wore a headscarf, tied in that simple un-flattering Muslim fashion.

We dined in small back-street restaurants (the best), and spent the days either sightseeing, shopping, or drinking mint tea at relaxed pavement cafés.

When 8 days later I returned home to France, I opened an unexpected Moroccan stamped envelope to find the above photo, which had obviously been taken from some distance. The one line message on the reverse side reads 'You didn't see me; but I saw you'.

So who was this all-seeing Paparazzo with the telephoto lens?... It turned out to be none other than my agent, Charles Fenton-Savage, who spends almost as much time in Maroc as I do in France.

The cheeky bastard. He could, at least, have said 'Hi'. I might even have bought him a boiled sheep's eye.

(I think I must have been sitting outside the large Café on the west side of the Place Jeema el Fna; he never did say!)

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Hey, it's ViZion - Summer Time feat. Nebula868

Just listen to that Bajan accent. Uncle Cro's Barbados based 'nephew', ViZion, is at it again.

Not really my kinda music, but I do like to 'spread the word'. Maybe the younger members of your entourage might like a listen. Good lookin' boy! (that's him at the bottom, in the shades)

Where's my cup, man.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Some Poolside Frippery.

A quick poolside tour of pots, ducks, pixies, junior chairs, lanterns, flowers, and lions heads. 

And who told you two that you could sit there!

You're supposed to be vicious Guard-Dogs, not a couple of prima donnas, smooching around by the pool all day. Dogs eh!

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Tuesday 25 June 2013

Holiday Jobs.

Every young man needs a holiday job, and last year Harvey J's was to gather the eggs each morning.

With 4 grandsons coming this Summer, I'm trying to think of daily tasks (useful or not) to ascribe to each small boy

They need to be completed in about 5/10 mins, be easy enough for a 6/7 year old to do well, and be something of which they can be proud.

Any (non chimney related) suggestions would be gratefully received.

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Monday 24 June 2013

F****oo* and F****oo*


I read recently that many young people divide their lives into just two distinct departments; what they eat and how they inter-react.

I  wrote the title (above) as such, simply because I was intrigued to see how similar these two words could be made to appear.

It doesn't take much to work-out that the two incomplete words are Fastfood and Facebook.

My circle of teens is limited, but they certainly do eat on the hoof, and they certainly do converse by 'social media'. It must be a bizarre era in which to be a teen.

Of course things could be made easier for teenagers; Chelsee and Dawayne could combine their two major obsessions and concentrate all their time on just one. How about 'Fastbook' or 'Facefood'; personally I'd go for the latter.

Facefood innit.

Sunday 23 June 2013

Tower's Flowers.

Planting against the 'tower's' walls only began two-ish years ago, and already they are doing what has been asked of them.

I chose two good 'doer' Clematis for the least sunny walls, an evergreen climbing Hydrangea for the most shady, and a bog-standard Wisteria for the sunniest.

All are doing well.

And this is how the 'tower' looks today with all it's greenery in situ. I'm very happy with the result so far.

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Saturday 22 June 2013

Don't you hate 'anonymous' drivel.


'I loved as much as you will obtain performed right here. The sketch is attractive, your authored material

stylish. nonetheless, you command get bought an impatience

over that you would like be handing over the following. sick indisputably come further until now again

since precisely the same just about a lot frequently within case you shield this increase'.

Above is an example of the gobbledygook we all experience from time to time. I've removed its silly 'link', as I refuse to give its author any publicity.
Google, I believe, is at last going to do something about some of the nastier porn on its pages, so why can't they also stop these very stupid anonymous comments that occasionally appear. 

If you're going to butt-in to someone's comment page, at least do it so that it's comprehensible, and relevant. This sort of garbled tripe, above, is just pointless. 

I have, of course, now disabled all 'anonymous' comments!

Friday 21 June 2013

Girolle Season 2013.

We've been having some serious rain recently, and, for me, that means just one thing; Girolles.

Our late spring/early summer lunchtime Girolle Omelets are an essential part of our lives, as will be our Cèpe Omelets later in the year.


Half an hour in the woods with the dogs, then back home past the hen house, and we have a meal fit for a King (and/or the more lowly Magnons).

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Thursday 20 June 2013



It's possible that you have, unwittingly, seen me in various films; but always as some anonymous 'extra talent'.

The one I probably enjoyed making the most was 'The Duallists'. It was directed by Ridley Scott, and starred Keith Carradine, Harvey Keitel, plus a few other famous 'also-ran' names.

But it wasn't the acting side of things that appealed to me so much; it was the history, the fabulous uniforms, and the whole bravado-business of fighting duels.

Dressed, as I was, in full Napoleonic-era officer's kit, with my moustache waxed in a jaunty fashion, I could easily have seen myself duelling over some fair maiden's honour. At the time I even imagined myself being run through with a sword and dying on some frosty meadow in the bloom of my youth, and strangely the idea seemed quite appealing.

This wasn't some odd-ball death wish, more a romantic vision of life and death; at the time it seemed a far better option than croaking in some dirty geriatric ward in Barnsley or Wigan (not that I've visited either town).

Maybe they should bring back duelling; for the elderly, of course.

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Blooming Haddock's.

This Lavatera, which has just started to flower, makes the perfect entrance to Haddock's. I may even plant one on the other side of the gate to make an arch.

Some of the most important advice about vegetable gardening (which I usually ignore), is to eat your crops as soon as they are edible (we ate the above last night).

I don't always follow this advice because I'm usually expecting things to grow bigger and better; what I actually get later-on is either diseased or bug-covered, and I kick myself.

The other advantage of eating those 'just ready' crops is that they leave space which can then be re-planted. 

I like my courgettes to be quite small; about 4 inches maximum, and with 8 plants this is essential. To leave them to get bigger would mean instant glut.

Lady Magnon is always criticising my bean production. She wants a large supply just when our summer guests are here, and it's not always easy to provide. I do my best.

Onions just look after themselves. I've put in a double row this year, and they're yellowish rather than my usual 'Baron' reds. I shall soon be eating some of these as spring onions.

Tomatoes are like weeds here. Just spit a few pips at the ground, and in a few weeks we have a red carpet.

I've also been instructed to grow plenty of salad this year. With this variety we just grab a few leaves every day, and they re-grow; much more practical that the tight headed ones where one is obliged to cut the whole plant (ignore the weeds, please).

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Tuesday 18 June 2013

Gimme, gimme.

                                  Alex Holland's shed in Machynlleth Powys, which has been awarded winner of the Unique Shed category for this Boat Roofed shed

In a recent Cuprinol 'Shed of the Year' competition in the UK, this one above was amongst the worthy winners.

It's in Machynlleth in North Wales, and (provided that there are no nuclear power stations either to the left or right of the picture) it looks just about perfect for one of my numerous mini-homes.

I wouldn't mind betting the owner, Mr Alex Holland, has had a few offers since he won; just look at that view. They say, on a clear day, you can even see as far as Trelawnyd.

Monday 17 June 2013

Boot Sale Season.

I really wanted to buy this old children's fairground motorbike, but at €650 it was way beyond my reach.

We're well into boot sale season here, and there'll be at least one each weekend (within easy reach) for the next few months. Today's was at Frayssinet-le-Gelat; the home of my wonderful baker.


As well as a couple of loaves, the only other thing I bought was this old zinc pinnacle; a bargain at €50 (Lady Magnon wasn't convinced).

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Sunday 16 June 2013

I Was Warned! (contains disturbing image)

You know those signs you see, that say 'Hazardous Chemicals'. Well, just occasionally, they mean what they say.

Swimming pool hygiene is a reasonably precise art. One needs to have the Chlorine and pH levels just right, or risk the water turning green; just as ours had, on opening the pool recently.

A few years back I'd removed my T shirt to clean the pool, and managed to get some neat pH+ liquid on my sides. They turned red, blistered, and itched like crazy. This year I've managed to do something similar, and my two forearms are covered in red scars and nasty blisters (it's actually much worse than it appears to be in the photo).

I'm usually quite cautious about handling chemicals, but something went amiss somewhere and I'm now paying the price.

On the good side, the water temperature has risen and Lady Magnon has had her first swim (not me yet). As is the tradition in Sweden, I offered to give her a good thrashing with some Birch twigs, but she very sensibly declined.

p.s. As pH (sodium carbonate) is an acid, Lady M has insisted that I spread Calcium-rich Yoghurt all over my arms. So, if you should see some scruffy old codger with his arms covered in Yoghurt, don't point at him and laugh; it could be me... Anything for a quiet life!

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Saturday 15 June 2013

Cro's Style Awards: No 2.

I hate to be disrespectful to these good ladies above, but I really do find their outfits quite sexy, which I expect is the exact opposite of what was originally intended.

Above is another example of rigid compliance with the norm. Braces, brown shoes, and pudding basin haircuts. I wonder how many of these guys stand in front of a mirror (if they are allowed such things) and think they look 'cool'? I think they do.

So my second award goes to the Amish community. Well done fellas.

Friday 14 June 2013

New this, new that...

I love the arrival of the first cherries, the first asparagus, and the first courgettes. There's something really exciting about a new year's crop just beginning; and they always taste the best. These few courgettes we shall have tonight, simply cooked in garlicky butter with a pinch of salt.

And so to the bloody mower. I went straight out this morning to buy a replacement; the old one will be given a good thrashing before being taken to the mower-hospital. Maybe they can mend it; maybe not. We shall see; it's not very old.

The new one is a McCullock, Briggs engined, black job. I hope it works.

Whilst out, I also bought this bunch of $100 notes. I have no idea what the 'real' ones look like, but these'll keep the children amused.  Now I have to think of something to do with them. 100  $100 notes cost me €3; can't be bad!

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