Wednesday 31 August 2016

I love a bargain.

I've been saying for the past twenty years, that I really must buy myself a pair of Jeans; but somehow it just hasn't happened.

I never know what size I am, and I hate trying-on clothes in shops.

Anyway, I saw these (above) recently in my local Leclerc's 'exclusive men's tailoring dep't', and decided to throw caution to the winds and buy a pair.

I took them home, tried them on, and they fitted. I had them washed (I never wear new clothes before they've been washed), and amazingly they still fitted.

So why, you may be thinking, is Cro going-on about a simple pair of Jeans. Well, the amazing thing is that these cost me a STAGGERING €6.35. Yes; €6.35. That's £5.40 or $7. A bargain in anyone's currency.

I was back chez Leclerc yesterday morning, and considered buying a second pair, but of course they were ALL SOLD OUT. 

Tuesday 30 August 2016


Unless you live in the Languedoc area of southern France, you will probably never come across these Bougnettes (pronounced Boon-yet). 

My friend Julie brought these with her recently, and they were consumed last night. They had spent a week in the freezer. 

So, what is a Bougnette

The original recipe involves seasoned belly pork, bread, and eggs, wrapped in crepinette (caul), but variations exist. The ones above seemed to follow the classic recipe perfectly. A peasant dish made to make the most of small amounts of meat. 

They are sliced and fried without the addition of any oil. I think you can almost imagine the flavour just by looking at the photos.

They were consumed accompanied by sautéed potatoes, steamed spinach, and red wine.

Absolutely delicious; a real treat. Thank you Julie.

Monday 29 August 2016

A Brighton Cat's Tale.

Imagine waking in the middle of the night to the sound of some bloody cat making a goddamn awful noise from with-inside a wall. 

They listened and listened, trying to work-out where the little wretch could be, then were forced to move rooms so they could get some sleep in peace. In the morning they phoned the fire brigade, who soon arrived with hammer and chisel, and cut a bloody great hole in the chimney breast.

And there it was; the little Monkey. It had gone to see what was down the chimney, and got stuck.

Here's the culprit (below). In disgrace.

So, why am I telling you about this? Well it all happened at my house in Brighton a few days ago.

The owners of the cat have promised to pay for the repairs!

Photos © Cath Gillo.

Sunday 28 August 2016

Sautéed Compost.

When my children were young this was one of their very favourite meals.

There were always plenty of vegetables in the garden or the freezer, and we used whatever was available. The recipe was never the same twice. This (above) was what I used yesterday.

I lightly boil the Potatoes and Beans in advance, then fry all the others together until nearly cooked; only then do I add the Potatoes and Beans to the rest. I season, add garlic butter, and finish off with a light sprinkling of ground Cumin powder. Everything should be slightly browned.

Often veggie meals leave me wanting some 'meat', but this one never does.

Saturday 27 August 2016

Slowly melting.

35 C in the shade..... it's hot.

But probably best to stay indoors.

Friday 26 August 2016

Open the flood gates.

Haddock's is now producing most of what we require. If we were veggies, we would be totally self-sufficient until about November. 

At last our Tomatoes are producing plenty of delicious healthy-sized fruits, so my preserving campaign will soon start again. As usual we have a surfeit of Peppers and Aubergines, so I shall preserve them in Tomato sauce. These are our staple preserves for winter, and are used in Curries, Stews, Tagines, etc.

We also have Peaches, Maize, Apples, and Figs (just starting), as well as all the leafy winter greens.

Everything seems to have come so late this year. After an early flourish, it'll be September before we have our real glut. A strange year.

Thursday 25 August 2016

Philippe sings Luis Mariano.


My friend Philippe (bottom right), is a man of many talents.

We were together last night for dinner, and in-between the main course and the cheese he decided to offer all present a powerful rendition of the song below; 'Mexico' by Luis Mariano.

It was as if Mr Mariano was in the room. If you don't know the song; here it is.

Cheers Philippe. You can all now sing-along; as did we last night.!

Wednesday 24 August 2016

Mon ami Simon.


Above is my good friend, and fellow painter, Simon Fletcher. He and his lovely wife, Julie, have just spent a few days with us at Chateau Cro.

Old friends are a treasure to be nurtured. We drank, ate, laughed, discussed, listened, swam, and criticised. We almost put the world to rights, but left just a few of the more difficult tasks for a later date.

Certain guests are always a pleasure to have around, and we were genuinely sorry to see them head back to their home in L'Herault yesterday morning.

Some of Simon's work can be seen here.....

Tuesday 23 August 2016

Frankie Lymon & The Teenagers - Why Do Fools Fall In Love

Nothing much to say about this.

Poor Frankie died in 1968 at the age of 25, from a heroin overdose. The curse of fame!

Best to fast forward to 2 mins 20, there's a tedious interview before they start singing.

Monday 22 August 2016

Profile Not Available.

Occasionally I try to catch-up with pages that I haven't visited for a while (by clicking on the name of a blogger), only to be met with the message 'Profile Not Available'. Grouchy in Florida, and Maria are two examples that come to mind.

I don't know if there's a particular reason why bloggers should restrict their readership, but it must be very frustrating for them to have a limited number of followers.

May I suggest that people check their settings, and enable access to all; as advised above.

Sunday 21 August 2016

The William Cobbett.

                            The William Cobbett in Farnham

My favourite pub' when I was a student was The William Cobbett, in Farnham Surrey (above).

It was a popular evening haunt of art students; lunch times being spent in pubs within closer staggering distance, back to the college.

I have several memories of The Cobbett, some good, others rather shameful.

My friend S and I used to play a very naughty game over a few pints. We would discuss the merits of famous and obscure painters; occasionally throwing into the discussion an entirely fictional character just to see who would agree with our observations about him/her. It was surprising how often the bait was taken..... we never revealed the truth. Naughty boys.

One of my better memories was attending 'An Audience With' comedienne Fenella Fielding in an upstairs room. Lady Magnon was heavily pregnant at the time, and after laughing her way through the whole evening, went into hospital where our first son was subsequently born a couple of hours later. Thank you Ms Fielding; your assistance was appreciated.

I also remember that my favourite drink at the time was a mix of draught Guinness and Cider; something I would have difficulty drinking today.

A nice old pub.

p.s. In honour of the great man I bought (and read) Cobbett's 'Rural Rides'.... I wasn't terribly impressed.

Saturday 20 August 2016

Autumn in August?

Climatically its been a strange year. Already we have trees turning autumnal, and shedding their leaves. Above is a Pear tree that will probably be leafless within a couple of weeks. 

And this is the scene beneath my Greengage tree, and I've already swept up lots.

What happened?

Friday 19 August 2016

Canine Comfort.

                                           Afficher l'image d'origine

I've noticed for years that Bok (our dog) likes to lie on my feet when having a short snooze. I've also noticed that when outdoors he will lie on the hosepipe or a child's toy, or an old flower pot, rather than chose somewhere more classically comfortable.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't be able to sleep for one instant if I was lying in bed on top of an old shoe, so one has to presume that a dog's idea of comfort is very different to that of a human.

It makes you wonder why we go to all that trouble (and expense) to buy big, comfy, snooze-a-while, chew proof, dog baskets, and especially all those down-filled mattresses and angora blankets, to make them feel comfortable, if they'd be just as happy sleeping on a pile of angry hedgehogs (or even on a pile of books, as above).

Thursday 18 August 2016

What do you look for in a new car?

                              Résultat de recherche d'images pour "strange cars"

In general I suppose I look for aesthetics when I buy a new (s/h) car. Very rarely have I studied torques, or mpg's, or acceleration figures. For me it has to abide by certain design criteria, be an acceptable colour (not orange), and be reliable; the rest I leave to luck.

I remember my mother changing her car back in the late 1960's. I accompanied her to the Rover garage (they always bought British cars), and was amused to hear her ask the salesman for a car that would accelerate up hill.

She left with a Rover P6 3.5 litre V8 in dark metallic grey, which fulfilled all her requirements.

One old friend of mine (who I've known since we were about 5 years old) is a real petrol head. He always has several cars in his drive. Usually there are a couple of E Types, a fast runabout, and whatever muscle car that takes his fancy at the time. The last time I saw him it was a 4.5 litre TVR Cerbera; a beast of a car that he assured me was no less than a street legal Formula 1 car.

I have occasionally myself been tempted by sports cars, but have only ever owned one; a Triumph TR7 that was about as fast as a Renault 4. It was a very pretty car, but had no oomph; I eventually sold it to a man from my village who was leaving his wife. The deal was all very clandestine, and the car stayed in my drive until the time was right for him to steal away in the middle of the night, and head for Germany. It was all very 'cloak and dagger'.

My present car (The Compact Royce) is a 'break' version of a very classic French car. I shall keep her until she dies; hopefully well into the distant future. Not exactly 'keeping up with the Jones's', but frankly there are no Jones's here up with whom one would wish to keep.

How do you chose your cars?

Wednesday 17 August 2016

Lilliput Living.

I must say, I'm not very au fait with camping equipment; in fact I'm simply not a camping 'type'; full stop.

However I must admit to being very impressed with this small sink-come-cooking-ring that Wills has recently installed in his Renault Trafic. What a superb bit of small area design; it almost makes me want to take to the road.

The cook would need to be pretty adept, but the sink is very handy.

And this is just a part of the wiring for the solar panel and its resulting electrical storage system. I'm pleased to say that it all works too. Gawd; all that wiring!

Now he's starting on all the interior 'furniture'... what larks!

Tuesday 16 August 2016

Irish Olympic Sailing commentary.

Even if you've been bored stiff by the Olympics; you'll enjoy this!

Monday 15 August 2016

We're having a heatwave.

Miss Piggy says it far more beautifully than I ever could.....

Sunday 14 August 2016

More on Moules.

This is a shot of the Moules/Frites 'restaurant' that I failed to show you previously, just so you can see what I was talking about.

Wooden shacks, plastic tables, plastic chairs, and plastic plates; but wonderful Moules (more than we could eat), a perfect lakeside location, excellent waiters, and a very pleasant atmosphere. All in all, a very relaxing evening.

I'm not good at estimating numbers, but there must have been about 300 people there on Friday night, including several friends.

Kellogg, Boo Boo, and Wills are in the foreground of the top photo.

Leftovers were plentiful.

Saturday 13 August 2016


Slightly cooler mornings with beautiful hot sunny days. It's Summertime, and the livin' is easy.

Friday 12 August 2016

3 Ingredients, plus spices.

Ingredients: One finely sliced onion, one chopped (bite sized) chicken breast, half a dozen long thin green peppers (not hot).

The Spices: A teaspoon of medium curry paste, a teaspoon of garam masala, a few chilli flakes, a bit of chicken stock cube, water, S & P.

The true taste of India; earthy, stimulating, delicious. 

A bit of Bangra in the background, a warm evening, some Basmati, pleasant company, and a cool beer; what more could you want! Feeds two.

N.B. The above photo was actually of a curry from last year. Yesterday's one was exactly the same, but my photo was rubbish.

Thursday 11 August 2016

Peter Andre and Jordan (Auto tune removed)

Auto Tune has been the saviour of many a so-called singer.

Irritating 'national treasure' Katie Price (aka Jordan) appreciates it's miracles more than most.

She starts 'singing' at 1.10. Enjoy.

If you're in the slightest bit interested in how Auto Tune corrected her, it can be found on YouTube.

It's worth remembering that almost all singers now use Auto Tune; you don't have to be able to sing, to sing.

Wednesday 10 August 2016

Rio Dive pool 2016.

Look what happened to the diving pool in Rio.

It happens to the best of us.


I think ours was a nicer colour!

Tuesday 9 August 2016

Burns Night.

There was a man in my supermarket checkout queue recently, who had an arm very similar, but much worse, to the above.

I wanted to ask him if he was a chef, but he rushed off. I'm certain he was.

Chefs wear their arm burns with pride; just a hazard of the job.

Mine above are the result of a recent Pizza night; getting the blighters in and out of the oven is perilous.

Sunday 7 August 2016

Breaking EU News.

                               Résultat de recherche d'images pour "jean-claude juncker"

Jean-Claude Juncker has just announced that, as a direct result of the UK's 'Brexit' vote, the European Union is to reduce the average human body temperature from 36.8 C to 35.6 C; reducing the usage of winter heating products; and thus lowering Europe's imports of far eastern oil.

Reactions to Juncker's plans have been swift.

The UK's Prime Minister, Theresa May, said "36.8 C has served Europe well ever since it was first introduced; I don't see why anyone should wish to change it now".

Matron Merkel said "I am much in favour of zis move; it vill help ze immigrants from varmer countries to settle into ze cooler German climates".

Nigel Farage said "As long as Fucker-Juncker doesn't try to mess with the temperature of British beer, he can do what he fuckin' well likes; we're well shot of him".

Jeremy Corbyn said "I've received an Email about this matter from a Doris Ramsbottom of Cleethorpes. I have no idea what she was on about; maybe we should all go on strike".

More reaction is still flooding in.

Trafic control.

My youngest son, Wills, originally bought his big blue Renault Trafic for carrying building materials to the barn. Now that most of that work is finished, he has other ideas for it.

Eventually he will make a camper van out of it, and his first action has been to install this Solar panel on the roof, to run a fridge. 

My oldest, Kimbo, is taking a villa in Tuscany for a couple of weeks, so Wills will test out the practicalities of camper life by joining him for a few days. Cold beers will be essential.

I shall be interested to see how it all works out; maybe he could install a few panels for me here. I wouldn't say no to some free electricity!

Saturday 6 August 2016

All is well.

I've not grown this Red Kale before, it looks stunning, but I'm sure it'll taste exactly like the green one.

The Cavolo Nero is looking good; a useful winter stand-by.

Our Tomatoes are just delicious, they really make us realise what rubbish we've been eating over winter.

It's not a good year for top fruit, even so we have a few Apples.

And a few Plums.

And no winter storage cupboard would be complete without a good stock of Onions, and I'm pleased to say that ours are now harvested, and are OK.

We should survive.

Friday 5 August 2016

Birthday Boy.


August 5th. Today is my late father's birthday; he would have been 111 years old.

I never thanked him for all his wisdom and generosity, nor did I show much gratitude for his choice of schooling for me; although I did appreciate it more than he could have ever known.

I hope I behaved in a way that caused him no upsets, and I hope that he was reasonably OK with my career choices; I know he approved of my business acumen.

He must have been quite relieved that I was never in trouble with the police, never joined a biker gang, and didn't cover myself with inkings of naked ladies. He would not have appreciated a wayward son.

So, here's a belated 'Thank You'; I should have said this to you before, but when you were alive it never seemed necessary.

Thursday 4 August 2016

Hello Duckie!

This over-sized rubber duck lives by our pool. He is more of a style statement than a toy.

The design of the classic rubber duck was patented in the 1940's by Russian/American sculptor Peter Ganine.  It is estimated that he sold about 50,000,000 of them.

I suppose my first encounter with the cheeky chappie was at travelling fairgrounds where one tried to fish them out of a circulating river with a primitive fishing rod.

Since those days, the rubber duck has spread his wings. One of the biggest rubber duck occasions is the annual Freestore Foodbank Rubber Duck Regatta in Cincinnati Ohio (US), there is also the huge annual Aspen Ducky Derby (US), and the Knoxville Rubber Duck Race (US). The Americans are obviously crazy about rubber ducks.

Such events also take place in the UK and in Australia.

The rubber duck, rather like the rubber chicken, has become a design classic, and can be found in museums and art galleries the world over.

I would like to thank Mr Ganine for his duck; it makes my life just that little bit more pleasant each and every day.


Wednesday 3 August 2016

Preparing for Winter.

Haddock's is once again over producing, and it's a race against the clock to preserve everything.

I have started off with Ratatouille; a mixture of Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines and Courgettes. Probably the most useful of all my preserves.

For the moment I am freezing. Small 400gm bags are slowly filling any available space. When there is no more room I will start to bottle.

Above shows both stages; the gathering, and the finished jar. The jar above is my final one from 2015, and was just Tomato and Courgette (TG).

I shall be busy again all day, and probably tomorrow too.

Tuesday 2 August 2016

The World's Most Controversial Question.

Putin and Obama have argued about it, as have The Pope and Elton John, and The Queen and Prince Philip. It's the question on everyone's lips.

Which is better; Marmite or Vegemite?

As someone who lives in a country where there are no fixed allegiances, I think I can give an honest and independent assessment.

Of course it's MARMITE. Vegemite doesn't even come a close second; but don't mention that to an Aussie.

Even so, I do rather like Vegemite, and have recently received the above tube as a present..

Monday 1 August 2016

When it's HOT.

When it's really hot there's little to compare to a big fat slice of ice cold water melon.

Summer wouldn't be Summer without cold sticky melon juice running down your chin.

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