Thursday 31 August 2017

Jonagold; verdict.

Looks nice, doesn't it!

These are big Apples, in fact I think they're the biggest eating Apples that I've ever seen.

A cross between the American 'Jonathan' and the old favourite 'Golden Delicious', it's an Apple that can certainly hold its own. 

I'm always on the look-out for the perfect Apple tree, but this ISN'T it. It has nothing like the flavour of a Cox, although it has good texture, and a pleasant slightly acidic flavour.

I don't regret planting it for one moment, but I'd only give it 6 out of 10. I shall be interested to see how long they last in storage. By the way it looks at present, I suspect not too long.

My advice: Stick with the old favourites; Cox, Grannies, Braeburn, etc. For the birth of my latest grandson (Micha) I planted a Royal Gala; I'll have to wait a bit for its verdict.

Wednesday 30 August 2017


My hands have been good servants. They have worked hard over the decades, and have hardly once complained.

I wonder how many millions of words they've written, how many runs they've scored for me at Cricket, how many pen or pencil lines they've drawn, and how many strokes of a paintbrush they've overseen?

They've pointed, they've been shaken as fists, and sadly they've even taught a few people timely lessons. They have been powers for good as well as the occasional bad.

And these are my feet. A pretty average pair I would say (size 44).

It's difficult to estimate such things, but for most of my life they must have walked a good six miles a day. That adds up to over 155,000 miles during my lifetime; in fact I should think I've walked a lot further. 

They've kicked balls, they've peddled bikes, and they operate the stop-n-go system on my car. They take me from A to B without complaining.

Human hands and feet are very well designed. We do wonderful things with them. 

I would hereby like to 'officially' thank both my hands and my feet for the stalwart service they've offered. May our association long continue.

Tuesday 29 August 2017

God save us.....

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The new British post-Brexit National Anthem has just been revealed.

I rather like it!

Monday 28 August 2017

Pool, evolution

We built our pool back in 2004. Above was my original design. Not too far away from how it eventually became.

I've just found the above 'work in progress' photo; looking back on past projects is always interesting. Time is such a great healer!

We did, of course, get proven professionals to dig the hole, build the pool itself, and lay all the poolside flagstones. The drawing (top) was what we gave him to work on. However, I rather stupidly offered to do all the finishing work myself; walls, roofs, flower bed surrounds, rendering, and planting. There was a lot to do.

Some tasks were essential. Originally there was no way down to the Pump House door (see middle pic), so a flight of steps had to be built. Nor did the Pump House have any door, roof, or exterior rendering, so all that had to be done. It also needed roof pinnacles which had to be commissioned and installed.

It's taken all of 13 years for us to be reasonably 99% satisfied with everything (one is never 100% satisfied).

In our pre-pool days we used to drive a couple of miles to a dirty nearby lake where we'd swim; but it became tiresome. The small investment in our own water filled hole was one of our better decisions.

Now, if you'll excuse me..... it's 33 C, and I have an appointment.

Sunday 27 August 2017

Kids eh!

"Look Ollie, what I'll do is tie this end to a branch, you sit in the chair, and we'll see if it holds".

"Is is holding Harv?"

"Sort of".

"Tell me if it looks like breaking".


The rest is history, and probably best forgotten.

Saturday 26 August 2017

Bok's mate Marley.

Marley is one of Bok's newer best buddies. He's a beautiful Alsatian (as you can see), and wanders around our tiny hamlet visiting people and other dogs. He has a really lovely nature, despite his youthful exuberance. He often joins us on our walks.

Of course, not everyone likes visiting dogs, and I imagine his owner will soon be receiving a nasty Email; there's always someone who likes to complain! 

Anyway, he's perfectly welcome to come and play here with Bok. He's a very pleasant addition to the area's canine population. He never stays for too long. He just turns up, plays a while, then moves on.

I'd call him the prefect local dog, and a perfect friend for Bok.

This was he and Bok (above) a couple of days ago..

Friday 25 August 2017

Haddock's and elsewhere.

I suppose it's been a pretty average year at Haddock's. The Onions have now been harvested, we have a crazy amount of Aubergines, and a rotten crop of Tomatoes.

Our fruit trees have excelled. We have plenty of Plums, plenty of Apples, and plenty of delicious Conference Pears. My Butternuts are beginning to swell, and we have lots of 'greens' to see us through Winter.

The freezer is now home to sliced green Peppers, chopped Courgettes, and plenty of Tayberries. My dwarf French beans have performed perfectly; the 3 week successive sowing was spot-on.

I'm not preserving so much this year as I still have stocks from last year, but I have followed Ninaschen's advice about Aubergines in Olive oil, and I've also been sun-drying some Tomatoes.

As usual we have 'glut', but I am trying to be more philosophical about such things. I now look upon it as essential compost.

Oh, and did I mention that our Peach trees are overflowing?

What does one do with all this stuff!

Thursday 24 August 2017

Come on Eileen - Ala Ska ( COVER )

Dexy's classic given a new-ish Ska update. Great pub' music.

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Prize winner?

It weighs 750 gms; beat that!

I may not have had a copious crop of Tomatoes this year, but I did have a few beauties. 

In fact my Tomato crop is now almost over.....Tragedy.

Tuesday 22 August 2017


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In my short teaching career, I taught at just two schools. Firstly a girl's 'upper' school in Shropshire (13-18), and later a co-ed Prep' school in Sussex (6-13).

I'm not what you'd call a natural career teacher, but I did enjoy my time in the classroom. Naturally I taught Art and Art History, but also stood in for Latin when required.

Moreton Hall in Shropshire was a classic girl's school. Above all it taught young ladies how to behave correctly, whilst at the same time hoping that they'd pass enough exams in order to continue their studies at university level (which they mostly did).

Windlesham House (above) was a very different affair. It is the oldest UK Prep' School (founded in 1837), and was co-ed. Another classic school, it was always considered the No 2 Prep' School in the country after Dragon in Oxford, and was set in more than 60 acres of secluded and stunningly beautiful Sussex downland.

The pupils at Windlesham were a real pleasure to teach and to be around. There was a permanent atmosphere of calm and politeness, the children acted like young, well behaved, adults. The school is where swimmer Duncan Goodhew famously fell from a tree, resulting in his trade-mark baldness (nothing to do with me, honest).

Teaching in boarding schools is a very different matter to teaching elsewhere. There's no 9 to 5 working hours, one is on call almost permanently, including weekends; it's hard graft. Teachers in state schools don't know they're born!

I did enjoy it, but France beckoned, and I was obliged to answer the call.

Monday 21 August 2017

Pears not Pairs.

I love Pears, but rarely buy them. They are up there amongst my very favourite things to eat.

We have just two youngish trees; a Doyenne de Comice, and a Conference. Above are from the latter.

Conference is an especially good variety because it tells you when it's ripe; it turns yellow, and drops.

The old family joke.

Sprog: Daddy, may I have a pear?

Cro: A pair of what?

Sprog: No, an eating Pear.

Cro: Oh you mean a quarter of a pair of Pears! Yes of course you may.

Well we found it funny, and we still do!

Sunday 20 August 2017

Mr Moneypenny.

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Putin lookalike Daniel Craig is allegedly to be paid £100 Million (Yes, A HUNDRED MILLION SMACKERS) to play the part of James Bond in a new film. Personally I find that a teeny bit excessive.

I've been in a couple of films myself, and I can assure you that this acting lark ain't all it's cracked-up to be!

Films are not the same as theatre; one doesn't have to learn a whole script, or even stage instructions. Filming is done in tiny bits by tiny bits, and actors usually have just a couple of lines to remember at each take; often not even that!

The director tells them exactly what do do, how to look, what expression to use, where to walk, and when to do it all. A make-up gal will make them look presentable. They are puppets. If the director isn't satisfied with their performance he makes them do it again, and again, until they get it right; even top-notch actors rarely get things right at their first attempt.

Often their diction is atrocious, they whisper to each other, and if it wasn't for highly sensitive recording equipment, you'd hear nothing. Even from a few feet away one is hard-pressed to hear any of the actual script. Try doing that in the theatre.

For all I know Mr Craig might be a very fine actor; one would need to see him on stage to find out.

If he was to be paid £500,000 for his rôle as Bond, I would still find that excessive. But £100 Million is just plain ridiculous; no wonder that poorer paid workers become so bloody angry.

Saturday 19 August 2017

My late mother.

This is the last of my series of old photos, and a particular favourite of my late mother. 

Not too PC these days, but I like it anyway.

Friday 18 August 2017

My late Father as a boy, youth, and groom.

I'm continuing my series of old photos with a few of my own father. I'm posting these mainly for family, as there are a few they may not have seen before.

Above is my father with his older brother.

My father as a schoolboy; aged around 16 maybe? 

And here is my father on his wedding day. From left to right; my father, his older brother, my mother, paternal grandfather, paternal grandmother (the dragon), and two unknown (to me) very Victorian looking ladies.

Please forgive my indulgence, I shall not be showing any more..... Well, maybe just one more tomorrow.

Thursday 17 August 2017

My late Father-in-Law, as a boy.

Lady Magnon has just returned from Blighty with a big pack of old photos that were up in our loft. The ones that I am presently scanning etc are ones that I'm particularly interested in sharing with family members, so please indulge me for a couple of days.

My late father-in-law in classic Sailor Suit, driving his rather chic peddle car.

With his people; he's the small boy on the right with the dreadlocks ringlets. Who could have thought what his life held in store; his older brother (behind him) became a Colonel in the Indian Army.

How times have changed.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Sun-dried Tomatoes.

Encouraged by my near neighbour, Sue, I have thrown caution to the winds and have attempted to sun-dry some (Roma) Tomatoes.

This was simply an experiment, which is why I did so few. If all goes well, I'll do a lot more in about a week's time when we're expecting a longer period of good weather.

I cut them in half, removed the pips and mush, salted them slightly, then put them out to dry in the sunshine.

I didn't have any problem drying them; but the interesting bit will be seeing how they taste.

Here they are after their 3 days drying, and having been packed away in Olive oil with some dried Oregano and coarse-ground pepper (above). The colour is amazing; nothing at all like the commercial ones. 

I have now tasted one. Really delicious, but slightly under-salted. I suppose they should be salted much as one would for eating them fresh.

p.s. Why is it that most recipes on Google for 'Sun-Dried Tomatoes' involve using an OVEN? Surely the whole point of SUN-DRIED means they're dried by the SUN. We live in strange times.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Kate and Sydney.

My oldest son, Kimbo, knows my tastes well. Other than a selection of wonderful cheeses, some superb bacon, and a couple of luxury Pork pies, this year he arrived with two of the above.

For anyone who is unaware, these are 'ready to cook' pies, that simply require a tin opener and an oven.

They were, and probably still are, a life-line to many students, who might otherwise exist exclusively on Beer and Pork scratchings. The thought of a Fray Bentos pie on a Sunday was heaven on earth.

The last one I ate was in 2013. I eat them alone because Lady Magnon doesn't approve. More fool her!

Bloody delicious.

Monday 14 August 2017

Cheese or Soap?

I don't feel satisfied unless I come away from a Boot Sale with something in my swag-bag.

These two little pierced pots are a good example. The yellowish one I bought some while ago, and the white one I bought yesterday at a local sale. I have always imagined them to be Cheese drainers. Pop your Goat's milk curds into the pots, and in the morning they'll be nicely set Cheese (Cabécou).

However, my friend L thinks that my latest purchase is for soap..... Please tell me that she's wrong!

Sunday 13 August 2017

Le Vin du Midi; a panacea.

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This wonderful piece of wine propaganda begins with Louis Pasteur's wise words "Wine is the most healthy and hygienic of drinks".

It advises giving diluted Wine to children from the age of 4, and suggests that adults should consume between 75 cl and 200 cl (yes, 2 litres!!) with meals. I can actually remember, in the 1960's, adverts in the Paris Metro advising people not to drink more than two litres of wine a day!

It also advises that so-called 'pure' water (Perrier et al) is no more than poison because of added chemicals, and that between meals one should only drink Grape Juice.

As someone who enjoys drinking a couple of glasses of wine each day (sadly, not nearly as much as recommended), I do find the above a tad ambitious, but the principles still holds fast.

Saturday 12 August 2017



Where is The North?

Some cheeky wags at have worked out where THE NORTH is by calculating how many Greggs pie shops there are per capita of population. Of course they are wrong, as you can see by their silly map (above), which looks more like a dividing line between the North West, and the South East.

As someone who was born in leafy stockbroker Surrey, I have always believed that THE NORTH began at Croydon, but I have now done considerable research into the matter, and I present my map which illustrates where it REALLY starts (below).

As you can see, The South is all that area below a line between the Bristol Channel in the West, to the southern banks of The Thames estuary in the East, including London (which is The South's major city).

The Midlands is everything in between The South and The North; excluding Wales and East Anglia, which are independent regnums.

The NORTH is everywhere above a line between Liverpool in The West, and The Wash in The East. It ends at a place called Scotland (which is an area where Whisky is made).

Other islands off the coast are simply known by their names, and do not require geographical pin-pointing.

I hope this quells any continued confusion. 

Friday 11 August 2017


I'm not big on tattoos (I don't have any, as you might imagine), but I do rather like this one above.

When I was young it was quite common for those who'd done their National Service to return home with a Swallow, or a heart with a girl's name, or, if they'd been in the navy, an anchor, on their forearm; Popeye fashion.  

It was usually the souvenir of a drunken night in some foreign port; probably later regretted.

The current 'fashion' for minor celebs (and those who idolise them) to cover themselves with acres of unidentifiable inkings, is to me horrific. Every time I see some poor girl with drawings all over her legs, arms, and chest, I see nothing but future regret.

What seems like a bit of harmless fun when you're 18, can easily become a nightmare when you're 25. I remember seeing a 'mature' woman on the beach in Ibiza who looked as if she was covered in bruises; on closer inspection (not too close) I realised that they were ancient tattoos that had grappled with time. 

Not nice!

Thursday 10 August 2017

Dream a little dream of me .

Some more from the lovely and talented Andrea Motis; you'll like this one, even if you don't like jazz. Love that tempo change at 1.40.

Wednesday 9 August 2017


Some call them Hibiscus, but here we call them Altea.

I've always liked Alteas, they're easy to grow and continue flowering for months; just my cup of tea. Also, if left to their own devices they grow into very large bushes.

This white one (above) is an offspring of a beautiful 'double flowered' example from a friend's garden. I was given seeds on several occasions,  but they always reverted to 'singles'. They are beautiful anyway.

I think I have five different colours; all nice in their own way. I couldn't photograph the blue one, it was too high-up.

I'd like to find a deep red one (I have an obsession with deep red flowers), but I'm not sure if such a thing exists.

I might go on an Altea hunt.

Tuesday 8 August 2017

Bye boys, I miss you.

Kimbo and the boys' eating knives have now been put away until their next visit. Only mine remains in use (right).  Lady Magnon is much more sophisticated; she uses a pukka table knife.

For the moment enemy pop bottles will go unshot, water pistols will stay in the pump house and not in the skimmers, and the boys bikes will no longer lean against the Greengage tree. Everything's been stored away at Dangerous Fun Headquarters until their return.

It's all very, very, quiet.

Monday 7 August 2017

Dr Cro Dolittle.

Yesterday morning was filled with wildlife moments. Early on I was pestered by a Squirrel who seemed to want to come indoors to use the laptop. He was knocking on the big studio window right by my left hand side; I should have taken his photo.

Then later this baby female Blackbird appeared. I was leaning over by our outdoor tap, and she flew onto my back. She stayed there for quite a while until I simply had to stand up.

Later I fed her with some Brioche soaked in milk.

I think she's adopted me as her Dad. Later in the day, she joined us for supper.

I think I may have started something!

Sunday 6 August 2017


The above pot is by Trentham de Leliva, my one-time pottery tutor, and friend.

Trent (as he was known) was something of an enigma. Just to look at him you knew he was a man to be reckoned with.

He was tall and slim with a very 'lived-in' face. Otherwise I knew very little of him.

His home was in one of Brighton's most prestigious non-sea-facing crescents, and he always drove classic cars.

The last time we met was at a Garden Centre up by Brighton's Racecourse, where he was wandering aimlessly between the rows of plants. We had a short chat, talked of old times, and that was it. He'd seemed very pleased that I'd approached him.

Trent died not long afterwards in 2012, and the only thing I can now find about him (on the net) is this one rather uninteresting jug. Back in Oct' 2015 one of his pots had been offered on Ebay, but it received no bids.

A highly talented potter who has simply disappeared.

Just in case you own a pot with a capital T inside a circle stamped into the base, it would be by my old friend Trentham de Leliva; you should treasure it.

Saturday 5 August 2017

Birthday boy.

My late father was born on this day in 1905. 

I keep his picture on my wall to remind myself of what a generous man he was; I try to follow his example, not always successfully..

Friday 4 August 2017

My green bedroom.

During the pukka Summer months we de-camp to our outdoor room.

It's a little like going on holiday (without the inconvenience of travel).

Yes, there really is a room somewhere under all that foliage; we almost need a machete.


Thursday 3 August 2017

Andrea Motis singing and playing L.O.V.E.

The remarkably talented, and lovely, Ms Motis. I think she was just 17 when this was recorded.

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Plans change.

It's always the same; I make loads of plans for summer, then everything goes awry.

Prior to the annual holidays I fill the freezer with legs of Lamb, plenty of Fish Fingers, joints of Pork, Sausages, and at least one Turkey. Then nothing goes according to plan.

Restaurants are booked, BBQ's planned, our village 'Marché des Producteurs' is visited (above), various invitations to parties arrive, then there's no time left for my well studied agenda.

Ollie is about to declare that he's a veggie, neither of the boys eat very much meat, I refuse to eat anything that comes in a multi-coloured packet, and Lady Magnon has a stinking cold. In other words, it's the same as most other years.

I'm seriously considering becoming a Teetotal Veggie, just as soon as we've eaten all the meat in the freezer, and I've emptied everything that holds wine, which may take some time.

Actually we've come to a sensible arrangement. When we're out the boys will eat Pizza, and brown-n-white sugary Food-Ex in pots, whilst Lady M, Kimbo, and I eat big Steaks, smelly Cheese, and fresh Fruit.

Forget the plans; chacun son gout!

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