Monday 31 August 2015

Cute Kitty.

                                    Résultat de recherche d'images pour "kittens playing with yarn"

Everyone say Aaaaaaaah.

Sunday 30 August 2015

20 things that I really, really, don't like (in no particular order).

                              Résultat de recherche d'images pour "wide eyed children paintings"

1: Laziness
2: Waste
3: Lack of punctuality
4: Bread-n-butter pudding
5: Bad manners
6: The colour orange
7: Violence
8: Cold weather
9: Snobbism
10: Paintings of wide-eyed children.
11: Cars (or any machines) that don't work
12: Arrogant, insolent, neighbours
13: Very strong wind
14: Experts who aren't
15: Political correctness
16: ISIS
17: All crime
18: Snakes
19: The green bits (angelica) in mixed preserved fruit
20: and finally... The Corbyn/Lucas/Brand/Galloway/Sturgeon alliance.

Saturday 29 August 2015

Apple Season.

Our apple portfolio consists of a Bramley (for cooking), a Jonagold, and this Reine de Reinette above. Both the Bramley and the R de R are covered in fruit; the Jonagold isn't.

The tree above is in the chicken run, which means I visit it every day; this morning I declared the fruit to be RIPE.

The French compare it favourably with the English Cox, but frankly it's nowhere near as good. 

France is not really an apple country, they are far better at producing pears. Pears like the warmth, apples prefer cool.

With all those apples hanging from the tree; I suppose we'd better get eating!

Friday 28 August 2015

Ma boyz.

Since their arrival, the boys have spent much of their time in the pool (about 6 hours yesterday).

Otherwise they've been mushrooming, dining out, playing football, torturing Bok, fighting off pirates, riding the mower, and just being nice kids.

They're only here until next Wednesday, so I'm making the most of our time together.

Lovely boys, lovely dad, happy Grumpy.

Thursday 27 August 2015

The Prodigy - Keith - Firestarter.

I  was never a real fan of Punk. I liked its irreverence and noisy anti-social protestations, but that was about it.

However this record has always been my favourite of the ilk, and that nice Keith Flint does a great job on both the vocals and the dance. A classic.

And here's that nice Keith Flint, back in 2009. Even his mother would probably talk to him these days (if it wasn't for that thing dangling from his nose)!

                                        The Kerrang! Awards 2009



Wills: What are those things over there, on the wall?

Cro: They're dumbbells.

Wills: What are they for?

Cro: For making me strong ( Cro flexes biceps).

Wills: Do they work?

Cro: How else do you think I got all these rippling muscles (flexing biceps again); of course they work.

Wills: How often do you use them?

Cro: Every day; several times even.

Wills: How come they're all covered with ivy then?

Cro: Well, erm, you see, erm..... ivy grows very quickly!

Wednesday 26 August 2015

Boo Boo.

When it's hot, and one's just eaten a hearty lunch, there's nothing better than half an hour's power-snooze in the shade of a comfy stroller, then maybe a little later a cooling swim before supper time.

Life's pretty good when you're a toddler. Boo Boo (as he's known to everyone except me) is really enjoying his first Summer up at his new home. He's already good friends with Bok, he is perfectly at home with Grumpy and Grumsy, and he knows his way around all the new garden nooks and crannies.

I often look at him and wonder what sort of life he has in store. My little Russian/Swedish/French/English grandson, who I still insist on calling 'Bunny'.

He will meet an uncle and two cousins for the first time today; Kimbo, Harvey J, and Ollie fly in from London to inspect the lad.

And, I hear that Sailor Suits are back in fashion.

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Public Transport.


I'm not good on public transport.

I hardly ever fly anywhere, I don't take trains, and although I rather like the idea of buses, I rarely use them.

The last time I was on a bus was in the UK. I had to have an eye test which involved putting nasty stinging drops into my eyes, which meant I couldn't possibly drive home, so the bus was essential.

Riding around in a bus is enlightening; one sees otherwise hidden buildings, objects, and curiosities. One also goes down previously undiscovered roads

Lady Magnon always ticks me off for saying 'good morning', 'thank you', and 'that was fun' to the bus driver; apparently it's not done.

Being on a bus is also a bit like being in the audience of The Jeremy Kyle Show; all of life is there, but I suppose that's part of the adventure.

"Oy Kylie, put your fu*king pants back on... and you Wayne, give that man his wallet back"

"You goin' shopliftin' Trace?"

"Yeah; I'll see yer up McDonaws later; show yer what I nicked".

"Awe white!".

It's another world on a bus.

Monday 24 August 2015

Mostly Miserable Sunday.

Still plenty of mushrooms in the woods; this group of 7 is quite a rarity. I shall spend most of the day bottling. (I noticed that the price of Cépes dropped from €16 per Kilo yesterday, to €10 today; a sign of how many there are about!)


It was a pretty miserable day, so we went off to a boot sale at the nearby village of St Front-sur-Lémance. We needn't have bothered; total rubbish.

Otherwise the small village has its moments. The 12th C church doorway is nice.

There are filled-in medieval doorways and windows everywhere.

And plenty of interesting architecture.

It rained for most of the morning, so we stayed indoors and watched 'Pingu' with Bunny. The warm sunshine returned at about 4pm-ish.

All Sundays are equal... but some Sundays are more equal than others!

Sunday 23 August 2015


I've been out in the woods since Tuesday, expecting to find a few of these babies, but they only began to appear yesterday.

A sure sign that mushrooms (Cèpes) are up is seeing loads of cars parked by the side of the woods. Others had obviously mis-calculated, like me, as I've been seeing cars all over the place for several days.

On Friday I was in my favourite supermarket when I overheard a conversation between an elderly, wise-looking, man and a youngish woman. I tried not to look as if I was earwigging as he explained all about moon phases, rainfall, and his stiff left knee, then eventually declared that Saturday/Sunday was when they would appear. HE WAS RIGHT. Here's some more...

I shall be out in the woods a lot in the next few days..... I have bottling to do (which has new been done!).

Saturday 22 August 2015

Fig Season.

It's Fig season.

We always have lots; Figs are the one fruit that NEVER fails.

This year, however, they are fantastic. It rained just at the right time, and now they are simply perfect.

The trees (and we have about 8) are loaded, and our only problem is knowing what to do with them all.

I've suggested Fig tatin, Fig crumble, Figs in salad (nice), Figs on toast, Fig-n-chips, and curried Figs, but I know that they'll just go to waste as usual; feeding the wasps and hornets.

If anyone wants any..... pop over, and just help yourselves. 

Friday 21 August 2015

Bok; frustrated farm dog.

There's nothing Bok likes more than keeping cows, sheep, children, or even hens in their place. Here he is with next door's Blonde d'Aquitaines, making sure they don't misbehave. 

He's missed his vocation.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Nostalgia Corner.

I only have to look at the above, and I become a 6 year old again.

When we were children my mother always made our jellies in this rabbit mould. I quite expect most households with children owned something similar. Of course, nowadays very few people eat jelly (blancmange even less) so such things are confined to the ranks of 'curiosities'.

It now sits, untended, at the back of a drawer; only occasionally seeing the light of day.

Anyway, I'm very pleased that I've kept it. It represents so much.

Wednesday 19 August 2015

World population.


One of the most disturbing of all internet sites is to be found here.

It tracks (gawd knows how) the world's births, deaths, and overall population.

I suggest you have a quick look; it demonstrates perfectly what a bloody mess we're making of this beautiful planet of ours.

Tuesday 18 August 2015


                          Image search result for "cannabis"

What would you do if you were to discover that (for example) you were living next-door to a Cannabis Farm?

I'm not (heaven forbid) suggesting that I am; no, no, no, whatever put that idea into your mind! I'm just putting forward a theoretical dilemma.

Frankly my own response would be to do nothing. I'm a 'live and let live' kinda person, and as long as no-one is annoying me, I would leave well alone.

Of course there is always blackmail; does 30% sound about right?

Monday 17 August 2015


I love Pears; in fact I would say that they're certainly up there amongst my favourite fruits. There is nothing nicer than a fully ripe, juicy Pear.

They're in season here, and I've been out scrumping. My own Pears are not yet ripe so I'm taking early morning walks that just happen to go past certain trees where fallen fruit is thick on the ground. 

We have two newly planted trees; a Doyenne de Comice (below), and a Conference. Both have fruits on them, but it's always difficult knowing when they are ready for picking. People often say that Pears don't ripen on the tree, that they have to be picked then left to ripen. I really don't know if this is correct for all varieties, but catching them 'just right' is never easy.

However, the Pears in the top picture always drop when they're ready to eat, which helps. It also means, of course, that they tend to have bruises, but that doesn't alter their delicious taste.

Bok will be getting to know one particular tree very well over the next week or two!

Sunday 16 August 2015

My Dear Cousin's parents.


I have no picture of my lovely Aunt and Uncle, so the above will have to suffice.

My Aunt was quite straight-laced and sickly sweet walnut cake, my Uncle was garden shed and spotless apple trees. They lived comfortably in a terraced Shropshire town-house with a small back garden.

But they were truly 'blessed'; they had a son (my 1st cousin) of whom they were extremely, and rightly, proud; he was the centre of their universe.

He had always been an exemplary child, everything he did he did well. He sang in the church choir, he rang the church bells, he passed all his exams with ease, he was accepted into his university of choice with open arms, he was good-looking, he even had a pilot's licence; his achievements seemed endless.

My cousin also had that rare characteristic of being liked by everyone he met, and was regarded by women as being 'highly eligible'.

At my Aunt and Uncle's house there were pictures of him everywhere. Receiving his medical degree, dressed in jet fighter pilot's gear, receiving tennis trophies, etc. Every success had its photo, and every photo was displayed with pride.

Then in 1977 it happened; their wonderful son was murdered.

I didn't see my Aunt and Uncle much after that, I was away in France and they were back in the UK. I would have liked to have been there in the months after the tragedy, but it was not to be.  I wrote letters, of course, but they pretty much suffered their loss by themselves. 1977 was pre-Skype, Email, etc; and at that time we didn't even have a phone; no-one here did.

I saw them a few times in the early 1980's, and we were able to talk, but somehow it felt too late.

Years later they both went to live in a home for the elderly, but I don't know if anyone visited them or not; maybe some did. All I know is that I didn't, and it troubles me to this day. I don't even know when they died.

RIP Agnes and Gib; such lovely people. Life treated them very well, then suddenly it gave them an almighty slap in the face, from which they never really recovered.

Saturday 15 August 2015

Julian 'effing' Assange.

                                  Image search result for "julian assange embassy"

I'm really not interested in the legal 'ins and outs' of the Assange farce, what does annoy me is the ridiculous cost of 'watching' him.

Now that certain previous charges against him are beyond Sweden's statute of limitations, I read that it is STILL costing a staggering £10,000 a day to police the Ecuadorian Embassy where he's been given asylum. As a UK tax payer, I really object to my money being so overtly wasted.

Apparently (according to certain newspapers) there are three 'elite uniformed officers' on duty every day outside the embassy. This makes them each earning a staggering £3,333 per day; roughly £1,100,000 per plod per annum; albeit an 'elite' plod (certain newspapers obviously don't do the same calculations as I do).

And there was me thinking that it was only footballers and human rights lawyers who earned that sort of dosh.

Wouldn't it be easier simply to abandon all this policing, and let him do whatever he wants; after all, it's not really the UK's (or the Ecuadorian's) affair, is it? Personally I'd throw him to the effing lions.

Oh, and it should be noted that ALL foreign embassies in the UK receive round-the-clock policing, as normal practice.... so where's the need for more?

Friday 14 August 2015

Human Rights; where we stand today!

                               Image search result for "Karenzi Karake"

This charming person is Rwanda's 'Head of Security' Karenzi Karaki. He recently landed at Heathrow airport (June 20th) and was immediately arrested. There was a European Arrest Warrant issued for his extradition to Spain for genocide; but luckily help was at hand.

Champion of all things evil, Cheerie Blair (wife of Tony), was there to defend his human rights. For a SERIOUS amount of money she has managed to avoid his extradition to Spain, and he will soon be happily on his way back to the safety of his beloved Rwanda. Well; a chap does have rights, you know.

Oh, and I don't know if there's any relevance in this, but husband Tony did have the use of two of the Rwandan president's private jets (organised by Karaki), when recently on a charitable tour of Africa. Well, they do say 'One good deed deserves another'.

Look, just because a chap is accused of mass genocide, it doesn't mean he's guilty. I think Cheerie was quite right to act on his behalf (for a HUGE undisclosed sum); after all, there is a minuscule possibility that it's all a question of mistaken identity.

Yeah, a bit like Tony's understandable mistake about Iraq's WMD's.

Ain't life grand... another million in the coffers. What larks!

Thursday 13 August 2015

Plan B.


Plus this...

Becomes this...

We sometimes learn a lot from blogging. I recently noticed in a picture of a fellow blogger's garden (Jacqueline's 9th June), that she had planted this rather ordinary (but very hardy) succulent plant in an old rusty antique cast-iron urn. It looked just perfect, so I'm brazenly copying her. 

I've been wondering what to do with my scraggy old 'succulent' plant for years; it's been sitting in a horrid plastic pot doing nothing since the last millenium; now it may actually thrive.

I think it looks rather nice; certainly a lot better than my lazy stones. 

Plan A was OK, Plan B will be better. Time will tell; thanks Jacqueline!

p.s. if anyone knows what it is.....

Wednesday 12 August 2015

The morning walk.

It's about 7am, and the sun's not yet properly up. I've finished all my computer work (blog, emails, notifications, and other laptop stuff), and it's time to take Bok for his early morning emptying.

Having put 4 Bonio biscuits into my pocket, we head-off down past Jean-Claude's maize field where we recently had a slightly worrying encounter with a big male wild boar.

Along past the bit of woodland (and its crumbling old pigsty) that I've been trying to buy for the past few years. A bit of woodland is the one thing we still need, and this hectare or so is filled with enough dead chestnut to keep us all going, without ever having to fell a single living tree.

Then on past my friend Laurence's sunflowers that are almost ready for harvesting. Her work is all done, and from now on it's the people for whom she grows the crop, who take total control over all the actual combining etc.

And on past my oak that waiting to be delivered (not all of it). I think I ordered 8 cu metres; half for me; half for Wills.

Then home again, where I grab a couple of peaches and some figs for my breakfast.

It's still not yet 8am, and both me and Bok are ready to face the world.

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Garden Snippets.

My garden needs to be overgrown, yet tidy.  It needs hidden corners, and half-hidden objects. It needs to be comfortable, but not in a lazy/holiday way. At this time of year it needs to offer shade.

It also needs to contain plants that invoke memories. This purple thing is one such.

Some things in the garden have long since failed to operate; my fountain being a good example. The spout has now been home to wasps for several years.

And some pots grow stones, instead of flowers!

Monday 10 August 2015

Rain,et al.

We're never really satisfied, are we! When it's sweltering hot, we dream of rain, then when it rains we moan about it.

We've had a very long spell of hot and dry weather, and were desperate for rain. Now we've had that downpour that we were longing for (that ruined our village music festival on Saturday), and already the grass is looking greener and the trees looking happier. The level of the water in our pool is over an inch higher than two days ago.

In 10 days time we might have some Cèpes (mushrooms), August Cèpes are reputed to be the best. I still have some preserves from last year, so we are not yet being deprived.

Regardless of all this rain, Summer Sundays are still the best. Time to get together for mass barn lunches with neighbours. Even the rain didn't dampen yesterday's little fête. We started at midday, and finished at... errr... gawd knows what time.

Bunny was the youngest there, and I'm not sure who was the oldest. We were about 40-ish at table; the gathering was held at my first house in the village which is about 200 metres from where we now live.

I do like rain, but it has to be proper rain... real lumps of water that clatter onto the Velux windows at night; lovely..... Damp thin drizzle (like yesterday's) is a pain..

Sunday 9 August 2015

Hidden splendours.

I spent four years 'literally' living in the shadow of this glorious building. 

I was obliged to visit it every day, as well as visiting on countless other occasions simply for the pure pleasure.

Looking at this picture (which I was sent recently), I now realise that there are so many bits of it that I failed to visit; most noticeably the west tower (on the left).

As you can see, the tower is huge and presumably contains several impressive 'rooms'; I wonder what's in them? The top section of the tower has four huge stained glass windows; pointless unless viewed from inside. I imagine, therefore, that there must be a wonderful room hidden away inside; it can't have been just for bells, surely.

If anyone just happens to be passing by this lovely building, perhaps you could pop in and ask someone what's up there; just say Cro sent you!.

Saturday 8 August 2015

Tom Time.

Ain't it always the same; you wait for the No 10 bus (or tomatoes) to come along, then three (or several tonnes) come along all at once!

I'm flat-out preserving at the moment. As you can see above, today is the turn of Courgettes in Tomato sauce.

And this is my bounty so far.... 

The two jars on the right are all's that's left from last year; both plain tomato sauce. I'll do some more of those tomorrow.

Friday 7 August 2015

A question of colour.

Here in France, if you see something like the above in your rear-view mirror, you slow down PRONTO.

Yesterday Wills drove 200 Kms north to buy loads of building materials, and discovered that this is annoyingly true.

The problem with owning a deep blue Renault Trafic van is that everyone thinks that you are Les Gendarmes, and the flow of traffic suddenly slows to an escargot's pace.

I did suggest that he buys a blue flashing light for the top, then other drivers might simply give way and let him overtake at a normal speed. Until then it looks like he's going to have to become an exemplary driver; of course he could always issue a few hefty 'on the spot' fines to those who are not.

He recently bought the vehicle in Berlin, imported it here, and it now has a French number plate.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Strange Nights.

                              Image search result for "Secretary"

Between school and college I had three jobs. Trainee Stockbroker (blue button), Art Gallery Manager, and Antiques Dealer. For some bizarre reason, two nights ago I dreamt about the gallery.

The Fine Art Gallery was situated in Devonshire Street W1, next door to Odin's restaurant (of Peter Langan fame). I originally went in to see if the owner would be interested in buying some of my dreadful 'impressionist style' paintings (which I had knocked-up at school).

Nicholas (Miklos) Vilag (an Einstein doppelgänger) said 'no thank you', but asked me if I'd be interested in a job; I replied 'yes please'. On hearing this he went to the top of the back room stairs and shouted down in his stentorian Hungarian voice "Richard... you're fired". I hadn't even started my new job, and already I felt bad. This poor young man came up from the storage room, gave me a withering look, grabbed his coat, and departed.

My workload soon became too much, and I asked Nicholas to hire me a secretary. He chose an unattractive wire-haired Swiss woman of about 25, called Arianne, who I soon discovered to be totally useless. He sacked her and replaced her with a slightly older woman who was 99% MAD. She spent all her spare time attaching feathers to the strings of her baby grand piano, so that it made a horrible noise. She was also totally useless as a secretary, and we soon got rid of her too.

I stayed at the gallery for about a year, in which time I met Stravinsky, became friendly with Paul McCartney, and had my photo taken by Nicholas with a naked 'high class call girl' on my lap. Life in the back room of the gallery was never dull.

The dreadful Arianne was the subject of my dream (nightmare?) two nights ago; goodness knows why she should suddenly invade my night-time peace! I hadn't thought about her for over 40 years.

I woke up remembering all the horrors about having had an inept secretary; something I've never had to deal with since, and certainly will never have to again;..... thank gawd!

LATER: This must be a record, because I've just had another strange dream (unusual for me). I was sitting in a pub next to an attractive woman of a certain age. She started to make 'advances' (nothing unusual in that), and was pressing her face gently against mine. The strange bit was that I could actually feel the softness of her skin, and could actually smell her sweet powdery perfume. I don't remember ever dreaming aromas before; it was all rather pleasant.

Wednesday 5 August 2015

Windows 10.

Why am I always tempted by updates? On the well loved principle of 'if it ain't broke, etc' these things are probably best avoided.

Anyway I've now downloaded the new Windows 10, and all seems to be going well. I don't like the new weather forecast graphics as much as the old ones, the new Email is probably simpler to use, and Picasa 3 (which does my photo processing) is a tad more complicated (to which, no doubt, I shall become accustomed in time). 

Windows 10 opens up with 'inspirational' photos of jellyfish, mountains, seascapes, etc, which is quite pleasant. So I'm quite happy with it; but then I was perfectly happy with Windows 8.  

Have you made the leap? If so, how do you find it?

p.s. I was amused by the above on-screen message. I managed to take breakfast, a walk with Bok, and a spot of log sawing, all whilst 'it wasn't taking long'.

Tuesday 4 August 2015


My friend Margaret gave me one of these last Autumn. She also gave me strict instructions to save some of the seeds for sowing this Spring; which I did. 

It's called 'Delicata', and is probably the finest Squash I've tasted to date.

I usually grow Butternut Squashes, which I've always considered to be the very best of the Squash family, but since tasting Delicata I've changed my mind.

Last night I roasted a chicken, with which I also roasted a few spuds and the Squash above. I peeled (not necessary), quartered, and de-seeded it, then tucked it in and around the chicken. It was really delicious; a little like eating savoury thick clotted cream.

I recommend that all gardeners should buy one, save the seeds, and do as I did. Of course you may already have done exactly that, in which case I'd like to know why you didn't tell me about it!

These are just a couple, still growing at Haddock's.

Monday 3 August 2015

More boot-sale stuff.

Don't ask me why, but I've always wanted one of these gigot holding devices (with the bone handle), it always seems a very sophisticated accessory for a roasted leg of Lamb. I shall buy a gigot, specially, when I next go to my butcher. 

Otherwise, I bought a heavy silver plated soup ladle, and a nice big preserving pan for sterilising my jars of vegs and paté. 

Not a bad morning's work.

p.s. I negotiated a price of €8 for the big preserving pan. I gave the lady a €20 note and she gave me €14 change..... I walked away as quickly as was decent. Naughty Cro.

Sunday 2 August 2015

Preserving for winter.

It's mess, I know; but dear old Haddock's has been feeding us for quite some while, and is producing in such quantities that I have now started my 2015 bottling campaign.

For the moment I shall mostly do 500 gm bottles of 'TCP' (Tomatoes, Courgettes, and Peppers), I find these the most useful during the winter months. A good stock of TCP is essential.

Damn it; I only had 4 capsules (the special tops for Le Parfait bottles), so I ended up with a smaller production than I'd intended. I shall buy two packs on Monday, and do a load more.

Anyway, here are the four bottles that I did manage to do. The capsules are underneath the screw tops.

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