Friday 31 July 2015

The new barn kitchen.

When I look at all this my only thought is 'thank goodness it's not me doing it'.

Wills bought all the units from Ikea, and is now assembling them; whilst friend D fixes the rods onto which they will be secured. So far everything is going OK, and all problems soon find a solution.

By lunchtime most of the wall units were up, but we've now realised that there's still space for one more 60 cm unit on the right (below). We'll pop down to Toulouse to pick that up later; no point in wasting possible storage space.

He's also just realised that the floor-tiling needs to be done before the final positioning of all the appliances, so another panic trip. 

Still plenty to do; I'll post pictures of the finished job, as soon as possible. Never a dull moment here!

Thursday 30 July 2015

Kimbo on The Amalfi Coast.

   Photo © Mrs Kimbo (I imagine).

OK, I've almost got over the fact that Kimbo isn't holidaying here with us this year, but sending us this picture really was a bit much.

He could at least have pretended that he's having an awful time (as Rachel recently did so stalwartly), and shown himself leaning over the bog; clutching his stomach.

He looks a bit Noel Coward-ish to me (The sun is far too sultry, and one must avoid its ultry violet ray). 

The picture also looks remarkably similar to this one of his younger brother...


Ah, my two lovely boys.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

Etymology Corner.

                                   The entry of Russian troops in Paris

When on March 31st 1814 the Russians entered Paris, they quite naturally needed to eat-n-drink (fighting the French had been a hungry/thirsty business).

So, after ensuring that the white flags were correctly fluttering, the ravenous Cossacks went in search of anywhere that sold food; apparently shouting the word 'Bistro'. As they were still 'on duty' they didn't want to hang about waiting.

'Bistro' (быстро in Russian) means 'Fast'.... and so fast-food was born. The small eateries that provided the food became known as 'Bistros'.

Amazing the things you learn when you have Russians in the family.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Team Sky.

                           Image search result for "Team Sky 2015"

Well done to all of the Sky boys, especially Chris Froome.

The disgraceful behaviour by certain French 'fans' (and the French press) only goes to highlight France's frustration at not having won a Tour since 1985. They will stoop to almost anything to avert another British win.

Spitting at an exhausted cyclist, and throwing urine at him, is not the way any so-called sports fan should behave. These people do what they do specifically for our entertainment, and they deserve our admiration; not hatred. In England we are taught that 'it matters not to win or lose, but how one plays the game'. Maybe the French should learn that too.

I have no idea if Chris has taken any performance enhancing substances, and frankly I couldn't care less. It doesn't shock me that Lance Armstrong took them; he still had to beat all the others who'd probably taken the same stuff. Taking some pill isn't going to replace bloody hard work.

So, my congratulations to Froome, Forte, Thomas, Roche, and the others. You made Britain proud of you.

Arise Sir Christopher.

Monday 27 July 2015

Car-Boot Booty.

The last Sunday in July (yesterday) is the day of our annual village 'boot sale'.

Every house in France has one of these in the loft. This particular high chair was bought for Bunny; it replaces a ghastly borrowed plastic thing, that we will be very pleased to be rid of. 

My love of white plates continues. Yesterday's haul included these few bits, plus the little brown cup with the simple pattern; which is mid-19th C Dutch (so I'm assured).

The soup tureen is very heavy. The top is a bit odd (bottom left), so I think I may look out for a more attractive replacement.

Sunday 26 July 2015

My Sunday Fougasse.

The Fougasse is one of more 'exotic' breads of Southern France.

Our particular area's version involves covering the upper surface with olive oil (or pork fat) and finely minced garlic. Other areas use cheese, olives, or anchovies. 

You really have to like the taste of strong garlic to enjoy this.

We buy one every Sunday, which, at lunchtime, is usually accompanied by a large bowl of home-made Humus. Nice.

Saturday 25 July 2015


In 'ye olden tymes' it wasn't necessary to build houses further apart than the width of two oxen. This example, above, is about 300 metres from our house, and the two buildings are certainly less than 3 metres apart. 

I drive between these houses almost daily, and have to be quite careful. I live just down the road to the bottom right.

Signs of folk having tried to force wide vehicles through the narrow gap are obvious. Many of the subsequent scars are well aged.

Not so long ago, the French land army were holding serious manoeuvres in our area, and we were all warned to expect unusual goings-on (helicopter landings, white flag waving, bangs, etc). What I didn't expect to find was a huge tank wedged-tight between these two buildings.

It had become totally stuck, and decisions had to made quickly whether to cut away at the stone on the one side, or simply put the tank into reverse and hope for the best. They eventually chose the latter.

Nothing fell down. The tank had some very nasty dents and wounds, but the building just shrugged it off with the few scars that you can see, below. The soldiers parted 'red-faced'.  

N.B. There is a clause written into the deeds of the house in Picture No 2 and top left, that The State has the right to demolish part of the wall if it so desires. So far so good.

Friday 24 July 2015

Rat' Time.

It's Ratatouille time. The tomatoes are finally fulfilling expectations,

there are more peppers than we know what to do with,

and the aubergines are flourishing. 

So, what else to do that mix them all up with a few courgettes and give it a fancy sounding name. 

Ratatouille is born; and very nice too.

Thursday 23 July 2015


Lady Magnon loves making cakes.

Her recipe for Strawberry-n-Cream Sponge Cake is as follows.

2 small lighter-than-air sponge cakes (Mary Berry recipe)
4 kilos thick Cream (at least)
4 kilos Strawberries (at least).... Then assemble as required.

That's it. It was my birthday yesterday, and this was the cake.

Garden Design à la Cro.

I'm basically a vegetable gardener; not a flower gardener. But I do like my non-vegetable garden to be reasonably attractive.

To me foliage is more important than flowers. Simplicity is more important than 'busy'. A garden should hold surprises.

One single well-positioned pot says far more than a dozen in the wrong place. My garden has no place for anything 'white'.

Contrast is essential. A perfectly clipped shrub sits comfortably besides a chaotic mix of cottage flowers.

There must be areas of shade, areas of sun, and areas for play. There must be grass, but not so much that it becomes overly time-consuming. There should be trees of all sizes, from huge to tiny. There must be fruit trees, foliage trees, and shade trees. There must also be a vegetable garden; however large, small, or productive.

In a perfect world there would be naturally moving water (sadly I have to make-do with the pool), and there would be an abundance of wild life.

There also has to be a washing line. No garden is complete without a bloody washing line, however ugly it may seem.

And under the category of 'Ain't Nature Wonderful', I like to leave certain wild plants in peace, such as the one below.

That's it; Cro's essential garden.

Wednesday 22 July 2015

Abba Sill.

When anyone arrives from Sweden, or even if they are going to Ikea, there is always one thing I ask people to buy for me; Abba Sill. Abba is the best maker of Sill. (Kellogg's mother brought these over from Sweden with her)

In case you are a stranger to Sill, it is marinated herring; usually in a sweet and sour Dill-flavoured sauce. Sweden's greatest delicacy.

Anyway, I want to tell you my funny Sill related story.

I was in Waitrose (a UK supermarket) in Brighton when I spotted what looked to me like Sill on the Deli counter. I asked the man behind the counter if it was in fact Sill.

"No Sir" replied the man "We don't sell Seal here".

"Not SEAL" I said.... "SILL".

"No Seal is sold in this shop Sir" he replied again "It's a banned product".

"I don't want to buy any wretched Seal" I said, becoming somewhat frustrated with the man "I just wanted to know if this is SILL.... ESS EYE ELL ELL".

"No Sir, I've already told you; we don't sell Seal here".

"Oh forget it" I muttered as I walked away. Behind me I could hear him telling his fellow workers that he'd just had some nutcase wanting to buy Seal meat.

Tuesday 21 July 2015

Just look at that face!

Kant rightly said that 'you can tell the heart of a man by his treatment of animals'.

Cro says 'you can tell the spirit of a man by his attitude towards swimming'.

I love to see children swimming; even at Bunny's age. Children have such a wonderful relationship with water; they throw themselves into it with such gusto, splashing around with unbridled joy. They dive-bomb, and try to drown each other; they forget all their worries (if indeed they have any), and they become totally liberated.

I am so pleased to see that Bunny loves water. I've recently encountered one or two children who wouldn't go near a pool, and it worries me; rather like when I see a child who's afraid of dogs. It just ain't right.

Anyway, here's Bunny and Kellogg enjoying their yesterday afternoon's swim.

Seriously good photo.  © Cro Magnon!!!

Monday 20 July 2015

Salon de Thé; Bonaguil 47.


Decent restaurants, out here, are becoming as rare as hen's teeth; but I've recently found a little treasure.

Not a restaurant in the wider sense, but an eaterie car même.

The little Salon de Thé in Bonaguil is a gem. It sits within the garden of a tiny cottage at the bottom of the long climb up to the famous chateau. The cottage itself is used as an exhibition gallery for Madame's pottery, whilst the garden is used by Monsieur for his charming Café/Restaurant.

We went on a very hot day, and the Wisteria, which roofs the entire garden, afforded perfect shade; flowers from its tumbling tresses fell onto our plates as we chatted. It was totally charming.

A Tabby sat on my lap, there were huge ancient flower-filled pots all around, and the condiments tray included truffle oil and black volcanic salt.

These people are aesthetes. Perfect décor, perfect ambience, and a perfect meal for the occasion.

My friend Wheeze and I both chose the same simple but delicious salad. Thinly sliced smoked duck magret, a selection of local cheeses, figs, melon, and a mixed green salad; followed by a coffee served in one of Madame's hand-made cups, with a delicious small chocolate cake.

I forgot my camera, so my description will have to do. The perfect meal for two cost just €25; merçi cherie.

The picture above has nothing to do with the restaurant, but gives some idea of the rustic garden ambiance.

I recommend.

Sunday 19 July 2015

National Amy sings 'Teach Me Tonight' with Jools in 2005.

Amy looking good and singing beautifully, accompanied by Jools and Co; what a star she was! This is from 2005, before her 'problems' became more serious. A rare singer who totally understood the word 'phrasing' (as in music).

Saturday 18 July 2015

Gone but not forgotten.

There are certain cars that should NEVER have gone out of production, and would be as popular today as they were at the time.

Here are just a few.

                              Image search result for "mehari"

                              Résultat de recherche d'images pour "morris 1000"

                              Image search result for "2CV"

                              Image search result for "VW Beetle"

                              Image search result for "renault 4"

All these cars have one thing in common; they are very simple, and can usually be repaired with a piece of string and some chewing gum.

I've owned 3 of the above, and LOVED each of them.

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