Monday 31 December 2018

Cro's Review of 2018.

As opposed to last year's frosts, 2018 began warmish, but very wet. January was epitomised by gumboots and muddy puddles; it seemed endless. Then in early February we had a little snow, and for much of the month temperatures in the minuses were not uncommon.. We were reminded of the meaning of 'Winter'.

Winter dragged on as usual, then morphed into a lot of unpleasant foggy-dampness and rain. Frankly there was nothing of interest to report until mid-April.

As we all know in mid-April the combined forces of the USA, UK, and France, attacked chemical warfare facilities in Syria. Tempers flared, insults were thrown, and WW3 very nearly started. For a while we all feared Putin, but he eventually turned out to be just 'mouth'. No doubt he feared the superior might of the combined US and UK thunder, which is not to be messed with.

From mid-May to mid-June, it rained. OK, there were Girolles to be found, but everywhere was so wet that doing essential outdoor work ground to a halt. Trump and the Fat Boy shook hands.

Summer began in earnest on June 19th, and continued to be long, hot, and unrelenting. Temperatures above 30 C lasted for weeks from June, through July, and beyond. Every year they confirm that 'it's been the hottest/driest summer since records began', and this year was no exception. Phew what a scorcher!

Other than Trump's bizarre language and behaviour, the main subject matter through the summer months, and beyond, was that of 'Brexit'. Negotiations became a mess, there were cabinet resignations, and back-stabbing became the favourite parliamentary sport. The only relief from the 'Silly Season' was that Geraint Thomas (a Welshman) won the Tour de France. Da iawn Geraint.

Our traditional mid-August storms and downpours failed to materialise, so yet again we had no Summer mushrooms. This area, and specifically this village, is renowned for its Cèpes, and the annual nearby mushroom and chestnut festivals were once again without their treasured mushrooms.

At Haddock's there were successes and failures. For the second year running, my Tomato crop came to a very early end; disease won the day. It would surprise me if I produced more than 20 Kilos. Our fruit trees were also a bit hit-n-miss. No Plums, Cherries, or Pears, but we were blessed with a small crop of eating Apples, plenty of Peaches, Figs, and Quinces. Beans were plentiful (thanks to successive sowing), as were Courgettes, Aubergines, and Peppers. We didn't have a single Butternut Squash; normally I have a barrow-full. However, our Winter greens are still doing very well.

In store we have plenty of Apricot and Tayberry jams, paté, pickled Walnuts, bottled Figs and Peaches, and about 18 Kilos of Tomato based preserves. It wasn't all bad; above is only a tiny part of it.

On August 14th, the Shipping Containers arrived for our neighbour's new 'holiday village'. I am now wondering how exactly he will advertise his 'Gulag Style' huts to prospective tourists. Would you want to spend your Summer holiday in one?

We were originally told that the containers (there are about twice the amount as shown in the picture) came fully fitted; ready to connect to the facilities. But no, they were just plain old empty 'end-of-life' containers. The work to make them 'habitable' is HUGE, but nothing can disguise their bleak unfriendly look. We shall see!

Between October 25th and November 5th we had a sudden, and unexpected, copious crop of Cèpes. Full advantage was taken with omelets and preserves a'plenty. We had feared another year of famine; but we were wrong. Several tonnes were sold at the nearby afternoon Cèpe market; and for a while everything was 'as it should be'.
Christmas seemed to leap upon us so quickly this year; no doubt a sign of age. I loved the festive season as a child, then failed to appreciate it for most of my middle years, now I really love it again. It's the season of hope and nostalgia, and as I sit by the evening fire with just a few candles burning, and Bok's head on my lap, I think back to all those wonderful Christmases past, and look forward with anticipation. 

Luckily it's been yet another really good year for us, and another perfect ending (other than poor Freddie leaving us on Nov'18th). Still healthy, still fit, and still managing to do all we wish. What more could one ask. Our only true concerns for 2019 are Brexit, and the possible rise of Jeremy Corbyn; two subjects that make my blood boil.

So, may I wish you all a very happy new year, and let's welcome 2019 with optimism. 

Very best wishes, Cro, Lady M, and Bok. xx


RIP Freddie: I really do miss him mooching around the place. Here he is in the Quince tree; where I'll remember him. He was a goodun. Goodbye, old chap.

Sunday 30 December 2018

Hunting and Hunting.

Since 2004, when hunts were banned from hunting Foxes (they now simply follow scent trails), the hunt saboteurs are at a bit of a loss about what to demonstrate against.

Their disruption of Boxing Day hunts has now become simply 'anti-toff', and another excuse to pull their anarchist masks over their faces, wave a few placards, and cause general mayhem. 

So may I suggest that they focus their attention elsewhere, where real slaughter of cute wildlife is on a horrendous scale. CATS.

Cats kill Hundreds of Millions of creatures annually; yes, Hundreds of Millions. In comparison to a few rogue hounds finding a Fox or two, this is a massive cull of the UK's wildlife.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds estimates that around 275 MILLION CREATURES are killed by cats each year; 55 Million of which are birds. Our own late cat, Freddie, did his best to reduce the numbers of mice here in France (with my approval).

So, why are the little darlings not demonstrating outside No 6 Rodent Ave, or No 10 Downing St, where Tiddles or Larry are doing their worst? Could it be that the saboteurs themselves own some of these outrageously murderous cats?

Obviously the UK's cat population doesn't dress-up in pink-coat finery, and ride around looking for victims on horseback, so it might be difficult for the demonstrators to know quite where to aim their pointed shoulder-chips; instead, they might like to lobby parliament for a bill insisting that all cats wear extremely noisy warning bells on their collars. 

Instead of trying to harm horses, these militant animal lovers might actually feel more virtuous by saving some rodents or garden birds.

p.s. I should add that, personally, I am not anti hounds, horses, well-dressed horsemen, OR even our population of delightfully murderous cats.

Saturday 29 December 2018

Thai-m for a change.

Young Boo Boo contemplating a giant Coconut drink at 'The Social' beach club.

He's in Thailand, and he'll be starting school there in the new year.

What a fun Christmas he's had, and a lot more still to come.

His father will soon be out searching for some building land. He's looking for a sandy beach, swaying Palms, and a big enough plot to build himself a nice villa. What larks! 

Friday 28 December 2018

Mor Mor's Socks.

My late Swedish Mother in Law was very keen on knitting socks.

These socks were usually handed-out at Christmas, as presents.

The socks were fine, but for some reason they always wore out at the heel extremely quickly.

After a few years of faulty sock making, she decided to quit.

She then began to make miniature socks, far too small to be worn, so far more durable. We were all offered a pair.

I think my oldest, Kimbo, used his to replace the furry dice hanging from his car's rear-view mirror.

My daughter, out in Oz, uses hers as Christmas Tree decorations (above). 

Ours, I think, are in a box of 'miscellaneous prized items' in a UK loft.

The miniature socks have had a much more varied, and longer, life than the full sized ones ever had! 

Thank you Mor Mor. x

(p.s. She once made a sock with two heels. Unfortunately she un-knitted it before we had a chance to grab it as a wonderful souvenir)

Thursday 27 December 2018

Doppelganger No 3¾

A row of charming 'shipping container' holiday chalets in beautiful sunny Périgord, S W France. 


A row of old garages back in England.

Wednesday 26 December 2018

Carols from King's 2018

Ding Dong Merrily from Carols from King's. I thought this year's service was one of the best. Plenty of classics, plus the wonderful baritone voice of Roderick Williams.

This was the last Christmas Eve extravaganza with Stephen Cleobury at the helm. He has been Director of Music with the King's College Choir since 1982, and retires in September next year (2019).  I would like to thank him personally, and of course the choristers, for a really beautiful carol service. It really was one of the best; Cleobury has always been the quiet voice of excellence, but he certainly went out with a bang!

Tuesday 25 December 2018

December 25th.

In these turbulent times, may I wish you all a relatively politics-free, and peaceful Christmas; as well as good health, a certain amount of wealth, and plenty of happiness.

My very best wishes to everyone, Cro xx

Monday 24 December 2018

The Yule Log; its big day.

So here it is, all dressed up, and only one place to go.

As is tradition (in this house), our Yule Log is dressed with Holly, Ivy, berries, and ribbons; in readiness for being placed on the fire later this evening.

It's forecast to be a reasonably warm day, but even so I'll really get the fire blazing tonight, I don't want any risk of finding lumps of unburnt wood tomorrow morning (which would detract from the good omen).

And if Santa comes by, I'm sure he'll appreciate the extra warmth. I'll leave him some Scotch and a Mince Pie too.

Carols from Kings this evening, and the big day tomorrow; I can't wait.

Sunday 23 December 2018



Chainsaws really earn their crust at this time of year, and mine recently started misbehaving.

On Friday I took it to our local Husqvarna specialist, and asked them to tinker with the settings; it needs doing every so often, and I don't trust myself with the task.

I popped over the road to do some shopping whilst the man 'tinkered', and I returned after about 15 mins to retrieve it.

The mechanic then berated me for using old oil/petrol mix. He said I should throw it out and do a new mix. I asked how long one should keep any mix, and he said "about 3 months".

I'd had no idea that the petrol mixture degraded so quickly, the canister in which I keep mine was last filled about two years ago; my saw uses very little. I still have no idea what effect old petrol has on the small motor.

There's not a lot of the old mixture left in the canister, so I think I'll use it up; then see what difference it'll make when I re-fill in a few weeks time.

Did you know that oil/petrol mix goes off? Be warned!

Saturday 22 December 2018


I like Christmas. Since having grandsons, it has reinvented itself to become as important again as it was when I was small. It's just a pity that the boys are all so spread around the globe. Thank goodness for Skype. Yes, Santa now visits by Skype!

Back in the 1960's we used to spend our Christmases in a small cottage on the Welsh/English border. If anything the cottage was smaller than our house here; two up, two down. However, my mother would always put on her annual show of excess, and everyone really loved it.

For Christmas Day there would often be the four of us, plus an aunt and uncle, plus another aunt and uncle with their three boys. The poor little house was filled to bursting.


The location of the cottage was spectacular. It was set on the very top of the first hill that looked out from England over to the rolling hills of North Wales to the West. When it snowed the view was like something out of a Disney film; with the red of the rising and setting sun, it would become one huge pink extravaganza. Above is the view, without the snow; watercolour by Lady Magnon.

There was always a huge tree, a fire in the hearth (coal), and more than enough uber-rich food. We all had far too many presents (nothing extravagant), and the supply of drink never ran out. I don't think we had a TV there.

The cottage was situated on Offa's Dyke, and the long peaceful walks it offered were wonderful, usually with some friendly local farm dog in tow

They were probably some of my best ever Christmases. Location, family, and good food... what more could you ask for.

I just hope that your own early Christmases created such memories.

Friday 21 December 2018

Dear Santa.

My daughter's letter to 'Farther Cristmas' when she was about 4 (?).

All essential at that age I think. A doll with a pram, and some high-heeled shoes in 'Fence' size 36, or English size 3 (I have no idea if she was right about the sizes).

I quite expect Santa brought her the doll and pram; but not so sure about the chavvy sounding shoes.

Thursday 20 December 2018


I was at Haddock's picking a few Curly Kale leaves for my supper, when I noticed the amazing colour on one or two of my PSB plants.

Most veg' gardeners would agree that the arrival of Purple Sprouting Broccoli in Spring is the highlight of the past year's plantings, and a gigantic smile for the year's crops to come. 

Each of my Winter 'greens' plants will throw-out sproutings in Spring, but the very best are those of the PSB. Those pre-flowering tips of bright purple, along with their tender leaves, are one of the highlights of the year. Mine had been planted way back in May of 2018, and we wait almost 10 months before harvest.  

Aren't those colours amazing.

Wednesday 19 December 2018

Come along children, we're going to see Santa.

They got the clothes right, but not the seasonal spirit (actually, it looks like too much 'seasonal spirit').

Tuesday 18 December 2018

How just one ex-pat can cause so much upset.

I can tell this story because the person involved is now deceased. The man in question told me the details himself, and seemed to think he was totally in the right, and deserved support. See what you think.

As ex-pats, our reputations can be severely damaged by the bad behaviour of one of our own nationality. If a Brit, Dutchman, or even an Algerian (for example) is involved in some theft or skullduggery, it can easily rub-off on all of his or her fellow nationals. All become tarred with the same brush.

The story is this. Hereabouts, when farmers fell trees for either heating or timber, they usually stack it by the side of the road, as near to its source as possible. It is accepted that up to a depth of a couple of metres, one can leave felled wood temporarily by the roadside until collected.

The elderly man involved in this tale found a pile of metre-long Oak logs neatly stacked on the edge of 'HIS LAND', and was furious that no-one had asked his 'permission'. He decided to treat the wood as a 'gift', and moved the entire pile to his barn.

It wasn't long before the woman whose wood it was, noticed that it was missing, and informed the police.

The police visited the man (an elderly Brit' retiree), and he admitted that he'd removed the wood 'to the safety and shelter of his barn'. He made some childish excuse about keeping it dry for the lady, but no-one believed him. In fact he was just another common tea-leaf; there are plenty about.

They 'cautioned' him, and he immediately returned the wood to its roadside location. He also visited the woman, whose wood it was, and as a half-hearted apology, offered her a bottle of Champagne; as if he thought that this would heal wounds!  Of course it didn't.

As with any local dishonesty, it didn't take long for the story to spread around the area, and the stupid man later spent his time trying to summon support by telling people that he'd been in the right (he even tried it on me; the idiot).

All thieving is crime, and as an ex-pat he should have known that his own reputation as 'a light fingered Brit' could easily have been heaped upon others of his nationality ("They're all a bunch of crooks" etc). His reputation as a thief never left him, and he sold-up. He found no support whatsoever with fellow Brits, and no-one was sad to see him go.

Monday 17 December 2018

Chelsea Fans Abuse Raheem Sterling

I'm not really a Football fan (Rugby is my game), but I've lived in two places that have rather good teams; Chelsea and Brighton. As such I've been a half-hearted supporter of both.

Just about everyone in the UK will have seen this very short video clip (below), and I expect everyone has been as horrified as I am.

I am disgusted that Chelsea fans, if only a few, should behave in such a way. I believe they now all face lifetime bans.

There is no place at any Football ground for such appalling behaviour. I'll leave you to imagine what was being shouted!

I should add that at Twickenham (the home of Rugby), we applaud ALL good play. Of course we like to see our own side win, but far more important is seeing a good game from BOTH sides.

I no longer support Chelsea!

Sunday 16 December 2018


The Scottish Parliament has decided that festive 'Gingerbread men' will no longer be available in their hallowed Coffee Shop. Instead, they will now sell 'Gingerbread persons'. Those bloody sexist male biscuits have been condemned to antiquity (where they obviously belong).

At the moment, Scots politicians have very little on the agenda, so plenty of time to debate much more important questions such as biscuits. Well done all those Scottish MSP's; och aye, hoots mon, and tuck a wee one in yer sporran for Hogmanay!

Saturday 15 December 2018

How to ruin London.

                              ULEZ will cover central London from 2019, but under the new plans will be extended massively to all of inner London two years later

London's wonderful Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has great plans for the city.

On top of the crippling 'Congestion charge', Khan will now introduce an 'Ultra-low emission zone', where drivers of older cars will be charged £12,50 per day within Greater London; bringing between £700 Million and £1.5 Billion extra funds, per annum, into the coffers of Transport for London (TFL).

Mr Khan needs to be careful that the cost of living in central London doesn't become prohibitive. I can see a time when people will begin to leave in their droves. London is already far too expensive, driving is nearly impossible (it'll soon be much worse), and all the fun of living in one of the world's most exciting cities, has become a total nightmare. On top of which, street crime and overt drug use is now a genuine concern for almost everyone.

If The City suffers after Brexit, I can see real problems ahead. Businesses will close, high streets will decline (as they have outside London), and inner London could begin to look like a third world country.

I would almost recommend anyone with a high value property, to get out now while there are still people with enough silly money to buy.


Friday 14 December 2018

Two fingers to Paris (or possibly, Brussels).

Anyone who regularly reads this page (a handful) may remember two examples I gave recently of changes to everyday French life.


One was a government ruling that all eggs sold at local small markets should be stamped with a 'traceability' marking, and the other was that the different petrols and diesels sold at the pumps would have their descriptions changed to something that no-one understood.


Well, I am pleased to say that both are now being totally ignored!

Common sense does occasionally prevail.

Thursday 13 December 2018


At my great age one begins to think more about personal health issues. Am I consuming too much fat, too many carbs, overdoing the wine a bit?

For the past month, or so, I've actually cut down on all the above, and have even (temporarily) stopped eating cooked breakfasts. Those bacon sandwiches, or fried eggs on toast, have been put aside in favour of Muesli; the miracle food of Dr Maximilian Bircher-Benner. I am also trying to stick to just a simple bowl of soup for lunch; no more cheese, sausage, paté, etc. I must be consuming at least 500 Calories a day less than previously.

It's not that I think that fatty fried foods are bad for me, it's just that I wish to see what effect sticking to a reasonably rigid diet will have on my three-monthly blood test. (The Christmas period may not be the best time to try this)

I could just buy a selection of dried fruit and nuts, and mix them in with some rolled Oats, but I prefer to buy a pack of sugar-free 100% natural Alpen, and do a 50/50 mixing with some plain natural Oats. It also tastes really good.

I'm expecting my cholesterol to be lower, my glycemic index to be more balanced, and of course to lose a bit of weight. I've already lost 5 Kilos.

I'll let you know.

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Becoming an Orphan.

I suppose I've been pretty lucky. My people died at roughly the ages when one expects such things, but many are far less fortunate. One such was my old school friend J.

We were at Prep' School together (Roughly 8 -13). J's mother had already died when he was younger, and it had caused him huge pain. Then at the age of about 12 he received the devastating news that his father had also died. He had gone to hospital for a routine knee operation, and through unrelated complications (for which he'd received further treatment) lost his life.

Private schools in the UK don't come cheaply, and poor J had not only lost both parents, but also the means to attend one of England's top schools, to which he'd aspired. He was eventually sent to a local Grammar school. Everything had gone wrong, and his life had suddenly taken a nosedive. He felt totally lost and abandoned; even a tentative approach to 'God' provided no solace.

I cannot begin to imagine how that felt for him. After one particular Email, a few years ago, he thanked me, and another friend M, for our kindness through the worst of it; although I think he exaggerated any part we'd played in helping him with the pain he must have felt.

J is the only person I know to have experienced such cruel life-changing circumstances, but, of course, he is just the tip of an enormous iceberg. Children the world over experience all sorts of horrors, all the time.

Life will never be 'fair'. Some will sail through with ease, whilst others struggle to survive.

I'm pleased to say that J now lives a happy and fulfilled life in NZ, and has a loving family of his own. He continues to be high on my Christmas card list, and at this time of year I'm always reminded of his appalling bad luck (for that is what it was).

Luckily he was a survivor; others are not so fortunate.

p.s. J is a keen fisherman, hence the illustration. I imagine it gives him the peace he needs to reflect on the terrible tragedy he faced at such a young age. I send him my love.

Tuesday 11 December 2018

Gunga Din.

Most schoolboys know this poem. It was taught to us as an example of British colonial rule, our courageous English soldiers, and the ultimate bravery of a servant. It was also a timely reminder never to forget that the underdog who you admonished on a daily basis, might well be the one who eventually saves your life.

Kipling was the ultimate hero to us boys. Nowadays if his bust appeared in an Oxford college niche, there would probably be riots. Sadly any reference these days to the Empire is frowned upon; regardless of how one views it.

Here is his beautiful poem in praise of  'Gunga Din'.

You may talk o' gin and beer
When you're quartered safe out 'ere,
An' you're sent to penny-fights an' Aldershot it;
But when it comes to slaughter
You will do your work on water,
An' you'll lick the bloomin' boots of 'im that's got it.
Now in Injia's sunny clime,
Where I used to spend my time
A-servin' of 'Er Majesty the Queen,
Of all them black-faced crew
The finest man I knew
Was our regimental bhisti, Gunga Din.
He was "Din! Din! Din!
You limping lump o' brick-dust, Gunga Din!
Hi! slippery hitherao!
Water, get it! Panee lao!
You squigy-nosed old idol, Gunga Din."

The uniform 'e wore
Was nothin' much before,
An' rather less than 'arf o' that be'ind,
For a piece o' twisty rag
An' a goatskin water-bag
Was all the field-equipment e' could find.
When the sweatin' troop-train lay
In a sidin' through the day,
Where the 'eat would make your bloomin' eyebrows crawl,
We shouted "Harry By!"
Till our throats were bricky-dry,
Then we wopped 'im 'cause 'e couldn't serve us all.
It was "Din! Din! Din!
You 'eathen, where the mischief 'ave you been?
You put some juldee in it
Or I'll marrow you this minute
If you don't fill up my helmet, Gunga Din!

'E would dot an' carry one
Till the longest day was done
An' 'e didn't seem to know the use o' fear.
If we charged or broke or cut,
You could bet your bloomin' nut,
'E'd be waitin' fifty paces right flank rear.
With 'is mussick on 'is back,
'E would skip with our attack,
An' watch us till the bugles made "Retire,"
An' for all 'is dirty 'ide
'E was white, clear white, inside
When 'e went to tend the wounded under fire!
It was "Din! Din! Din!"
With the bullets kickin' dust-spots on the green.
When the cartridges ran out,
You could hear the front-files shout,
"Hi! ammunition-mules an' Gunga Din!"

I sha'n't forgit the night
When I dropped be'ind the fight
With a bullet where my belt plate should 'a' been.
I was chokin' mad with thirst,
An' the man that spied me first
Was our good old grinnin', gruntin' Gunga Din.
'E lifted up my 'ead,
An' he plugged me where I bled,
An' 'e guv me 'arf-a-pint o' water-green:
It was crawlin' and it stunk,
But of all the drinks I've drunk,
I'm gratefullest to one from Gunga Din.
It was "Din! Din! Din!"
'Ere's a beggar with a bullet through 'is spleen;
'E's chawin' up the ground,
An' 'e's kickin' all around:
For Gawd's sake git the water, Gunga Din!

'E carried me away
To where a dooli lay,
An' a bullet come an' drilled the beggar clean.
'E put me safe inside,
An' just before 'e died:
"I 'ope you liked your drink," sez Gunga Din.
So I'll meet 'im later on
At the place where 'e is gone—
Where it's always double drill and no canteen;
'E'll be squattin' on the coals,
Givin' drink to poor damned souls,
An' I'll get a swig in hell from Gunga Din!
Yes, Din! Din! Din!
You Lazarushian-leather Gunga Din!
Though I've belted you and flayed you,
By the living Gawd that made you,
You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Monday 10 December 2018

Siege mentality.

I think I may have overdone things a tad this Winter. 

OK, I know that all these pies were a bit crazy, but I was only partly to blame.

This is most of my home preserved vegetables, fruits, pickles, jams, etc.

Then there are all my tinned things. Mostly vegetable (pulses etc), fish, confit, rices, and other miscellaneous items.

And this is my this year's paté with foie gras (as yet un-broached).

On top of all the above we have two freezers that are filled with meats, vegetables from Haddock's, prepared apples, sauces, berries, and a small amount of bread.

All we need now are a couple of AK47's, several thousand rounds of ammo, and some camauflaged 'onesies', and we could join the real Armageddon loonies. I reckon we could hold out for six months!

Sunday 9 December 2018

The Sunday 'Gotcha'.

There has been huge controversy about Police knocking criminals off their stolen mopeds as they speed around London with hammers or machetes, attacking folk, and grabbing their mobile phones, handbags, etc. It seems that the snowflakes are concerned about their scuffed knees; poor dears.

Well, here's an often-watched version of much the same thing with a criminal cyclist from June 2017. The Police don't discriminate between motorised or non-motorised two wheelers; thank goodness!

Saturday 8 December 2018


The only two writers who have had me pulling out my hair, have been Gertrude Stein and James Joyce. Maybe I should also add Virginia Woolf as a close runner-up.

I've attempted to read both Stein and Joyce on several occasions, and failed. I have, however, forced myself to finish reading various Woolf novels; under duress.

I can accept 'Stream of Consciousness' in painting, but not in writing. It confuses me.

Stein and Toklas (above) were an odd couple. An essential part of the early 20th Century Paris art scene. They knew, and hosted parties for, just about everyone of importance. Stein was also a great collector of paintings.

On her death Stein left most of her hugely valuable art collection to her 'wife' Toklas. Stein's family were not happy, and during her absence, entered her home and took everything away, leaving Toklas almost penniless. I still don't understand how this was possible; it has never been explained.

It is interesting to note that it was Gertrude Stein who coined the word 'Gay' for homosexuality. I think she would have been amused by its world-wide adoption.

I might try again with Stein. 

Friday 7 December 2018

The path ahead?

Like most people, I am presuming that Theresa May will lose the vote on her Brexit plan next week, and I'm wondering what will happen next. I imagine that it will be something like the following.

On 29th March 2019, the UK will officially leave the EU, then adhere to the trading regulations of the WTO; of which it has been a member since January 1995 (as have all other EU member states).

                               Résultat de recherche d'images pour "who are members of the wto"

On the Map: Countries shown in Green are members of the WTO. Countries shown in Blue are members represented by the EU. Yellow and Red are either not members, or 'observers'.

The £19,000,000,000 currently being paid annually to the EU by the UK, will then be used to smooth over the initial full transfer period from one organisation to the other; and I presume to pay some WTO membership fees. As the EU (as a unit) is also a member, there will be no trade restrictions between the UK and the EU; they will simply be carried out under WTO regulations, rather than those of the EU. It should be noted that the WTO controls 96.4% of world global trade, and 96.7% of world global GDP. Hardly a poor cousin.

By trying to 'punish' the UK, Brussels has shot itself in the foot. Next year it will have to face the fact that the UK's HUGE annual fee will no longer be forthcoming; they will then have to pay for their federal ambitions with a much smaller purse.

With France, Germany, Spain, Italy, and Greece (the wealthier EU countries) in some turmoil, the EU was desperate for Britain's contributions to keep the show on the road. Sorry Juncker; but as of April Fool's Day next year, the UK's cash will be staying in the UK!

Of course none of this might happen, and we might see Farage heading for Brussels, to have a fist-fight with Herman Van Rumpy-Pumpy, and Rees-Mogg swearing at Donald Tusk, in Latin. Anything is possible.

We'll all have to wait and see, but the above is 'a possibility'

Thursday 6 December 2018

Sikhism, Amritsar, and the Golden temple.

Sikhism, along with Buddhism, has always seemed like a very sensible and acceptable religion, in a world where so many other beliefs cause nothing but mayhem.

I'm not about to start wearing a turban, but I can readily appreciate their religion's philosophy.  

The Sikh God is described as Shapeless, Timeless, and Invisible; I can go along with that. Their philosophy includes Selfless Service, Moral Order, Justice for all, Righteousness, and Forgiveness. Sikhism is also totally non-sexist; I can go along with all of that too.

The amazing Golden Temple at Amritsar welcomes all people of all nationalities and religions; it does not discriminate. It also feeds all visitors (who require it) totally free of charge.


Can you imagine visiting an almost empty British Cathedral, and being given a free meal? Some bloody hope! At The Golden Temple they welcome on average 100,000 visitors every day, and serve free food to about 50,000. A remarkable feat, where all the preparation and service is performed by volunteers.

It really isn't surprising that the uber-wealthy Church of England is on its last legs. Where is THEIR charity? Something tells me it stays in the vaults of  Coutts & Co.

Yes, I could adopt Sikhism, but perhaps it would be best to emulate their ways, rather than begin to wear a Turban.

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Man the barricades, mes amis.

We are used to riots here in France. The French don't muck about when it comes to telling their political leaders what they think; and Macron has been told!

It must be said that the CRS don't muck about either when faced with rioting mobs. A poor innocent woman was accidently killed, recently, by a tear gas canister as she closed the shutters from inside her Marseilles apartment. I believe there have been four deaths in all.

I don't approve of wanton destruction and violence, but I have to agree with the concerns of the demonstrators.

The main problem with politicians ignoring their citizens, is that it gives rise to extremism. Marine Le Pen must be rubbing her hands with glee.

Expect more this weekend.

Tuesday 4 December 2018

The old 'problem'.

These days it's an everyday occurance to have Veggies mixed with Carnivores around the table. The only problem (if that's the right word) is the extra work involved for the cook.

Over the years I've toyed with vegetarianism myself, and my youngest son, Wills, is a long term committed Veggie. When he joins us for supper I find no problem at all in preparing, and consuming, Veggie meals. I take it in my stride, and enjoy Veggie meals as much as anyone.

I remember a dinner party I held many years ago. I'd invited an eclectic mix of guests, and took particular care over the menu and it's preparation; which was 100% Veggie. At the end of the meal I asked my guests if they'd noticed anything particular about the meal, and they all instantly replied that there'd been 'no meat'. Somehow I'd thought that they wouldn't have noticed. When I then asked if they'd missed the meat, they all said 'no'.

A lot of veggies are happy to eat fish and shellfish, which makes matters easier; it's those hard-core vegans that cause the most difficulty. Everything has to be just so, and they are never afraid to ask if something contains butter, or nitrites, or non-Bio oil, etc.

When we were at college, Lady Magnon shared a house with some quite extreme Veggies. They lived entirely on steamed mixed vegetables, and unleavened wholemeal bread. OK, it might have been healthy, but a more miserable bunch of people, you'd be hard to find. 

I'm very happy with Vegetarianism, but please be sensible about it. The occasional egg or fish isn't going to kill you; you may even enjoy it.

Monday 3 December 2018

The world's most controversial song?

Are you amazed by this nonsensical PC controversy? Me too.

Sunday 2 December 2018

Pear shaped!

   Britain's fishermen making their feelings known.

If I remember correctly, when asked to vote on Brexit we put our X against a choice of two very succinct scenarios.

1: Remain a member of the European Union, or 2: Leave the European Union.

I'm still trying to work-out where Mrs May's negotiations sit between those two. Her current deal seems neither one thing nor the other. It may be that her proposal would eventually work-out very well for UK plc, but as the country was split almost 50/50, it does appear that she's trying to please all-comers; and we know where 'compromise' leads!

Surely we voted either to stay, or to get out; there wasn't a third box suggesting some mish-mash pick-n-mix. I don't think the UK public has ever been fed such conflicting arguments on a subject, and somehow I'm beginning not to believe any of them; but at the same time I don't disbelieve them either.

The worst bit of the whole Brexit business, is that Marxist Corbyn could eventually benefit from all the chaos, and then the whole country really would be buggered.

Saturday 1 December 2018

It just HAD to happen!

You may have to enlarge the picture to see, but a sign on the wall of our local Rowing Club claimed that on November 27th, a new McDonald's was to open in my nearby small town. I have no idea where it will be situated; it didn't say.

Now, I have nothing against McDonald's as such (I've never actually eaten there), but the massive globalisation of any fast-food eaterie worries me.

Périgord is known worldwide for its gastronomy. Foie gras, Paté, Confit, Truffes, etc, all have warranted reputations. 

An area can very soon lose its identity if it ignores either its vernacular architecture, or its local gastronomy. When people order a McCoffee and McCroissant, rather than preparing the same at home, then you have to start to worry. 

OK, have a McBurger as an emergency, but not all the time (as many do), and not to the detriment of those dishes your Grandmother used to make.

Long live home made, slow cooked, grub. I shall NOT be visiting Mr McDonald!

p.s. I've just been past the sign again, and now it says 'OUVERT'. I've even spotted where the 'restaurant' is located!

Friday 30 November 2018

The New Doc'.

My old doctor retired about two months ago, so when I recently visited the surgery, in mid-november, I was confronted by a new man.

I'm always a bit wary of change, especially when it comes to doctors, bank managers, or bakers.

Of course all doctors are instructed to tell their patients exactly the same things; lose weight, stop smoking, don't enjoy yourself, etc. It's written into the hippocratic oath.

Once he'd done all the usual stuff, like taking blood pressure, weighing me, and stethoscoping; whilst printing off my prescription (which is all I'd gone for) he gave me the now tedious advice.

Don't eat too much charcuterie, drink only one glass of wine per day (with one day, just water), and don't eat too much salt. He didn't bother with either the slimming or smoking because neither are applicable.

I told him that if he'd suggested I eat less sugar, I'd have been OK, because I hardly ever touch the stuff, but cutting down on salt is another matter altogether.

He told me not to add salt when cooking, but to add a tiny bit afterwards if needed.

This was a bit like telling a cow not to eat grass; I almost live on things that contain, or require, salt.

So, this morning whilst breakfasting on toast and very salty anchovies, I thought about my new doc's advice, and decided for one day at least to ignore it. 

Anyway, what self-respecting doctor would have the cheek to ask a chap to forego a pukka breakfast!

Thursday 29 November 2018

A tad excessive.

You're going to laugh your heads off when you've read this!

I've written previously about my love of Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies. I'm quite aware that they're classified as 'convenience food'; but they're delicious, I adore them, and I will not be deprived.

As a pre-Christmas present, I decided to treat myself to a year's supply, and ordered a 6 pack through Amazon; plus 6 smaller steak and kidney Puddings, which I haven't had for decades.

By some bizarre cyber glip, my payments were picked out as 'unusual payments' by my bank's clever computer, and were declined.

I tried again... same thing. I tried yet again... same thing again.

I phoned my bank, and my (their) problem was instantly sorted. Strange, because I'd spent a very similar sum of money with Amazon just a few days before, and I'd had no problem.

What I hadn't realised was that every time I tried to re-order my pies, each order was being re-registered, and as soon as my bank's payment system was resolved, all 4 orders went through together.

I've now ended up with 3 x 6 packs of Pies (18 pies), and a 6 pack of steak and kidney Puddings; rather a lot I must admit, but I'm not complaining.

I am very fond of these, but I think I now have supplies for several years. I've checked the 'eat by' dates, and I reckon I'll just about manage to get through them all before they turn green, or explode!

OK, you can laugh now.

Wednesday 28 November 2018


I was always that student who arrived at college with the caretaker, and left when I was kicked out as they locked up for the night. It was probably this enthusiasm for my use of studio time that got me that 'first', rather than the quality of my work.

Even today, I start work at 5.30 am sharp every morning. If I didn't, it would totally put me off kilter.

I hate lateness, and I hate laziness. I also hate any lackadaisical attitude towards punctuality. Most people own a watch (I don't), so there is never any excuse for lazy time keeping. If I say 'I'll be there at eight pm'; I'm there at eight pm.

At school we were beaten for tardiness. If I was supposed to be preparing toast for some idiot at 3.30 pm, and arrived at 3.31 pm, I was punished before the toast making began. It was simply accepted that it was wiser to be a minute early than late; something I've never forgotten.

Breakfast, dog-walking, lunch, and supper, are never haphazard. Even now that I'm 'retired', and can please myself about such things, I continue to adhere to a strict timetable.

Call me obsessive if you will, but it's served me well so far; and people know that they can rely on me 100%.

Tuesday 27 November 2018

Yule Log 2018.

I think I mentioned last year (and probably many times prior to that), that tradition dictates we should not go in search of a Yule Log, but to let the Yule Log find us!

The above log (it looks like a piece of Oak) has been looking up at me from in amongst some rubbish for the past six months or so, so I had a word with it, and it allowed me to bring it home.

I have placed it behind the woodburner to dry off thoroughly, then later it will be dressed with ribbons, holly and ivy, and a few baubles ready for its big day.

A Yule Log must be placed on the fire on Christmas Eve, and on Christmas morning if one finds nothing but ashes, it will be a good omen for the year ahead.

It worked last year, so I shall expect the same this year. Four weeks to go!

Monday 26 November 2018

The Future for ex-pats?

For obvious reasons, both Lady Magnon and I voted that the UK remained a member of the EU; even though we had reservations.

However, I imagined that all would probably go well as long as the government's negotiators got rid of all the bad bits of EU membership, whilst retaining all that was good.

I now learn that May's draft declaration contains a very determined clause to end 'freedom of movement'.

So, what will this mean to all those EU citizens living in the UK, and to all those UK citizens living throughout mainland Europe? Our village Mayor has already joked about us being kicked out in 2020; presumably along with the other 1.3 Million UK born citizens who live in France, Spain, Italy, etc.

Will we no longer be able to live in our own homes, other than for just a couple of months each year? Will we need a visa to visit our own homes? Will we still be obliged to pay the full 12 months house taxes, even though we are banned from full-time residency?

Will our insurance policies pay-up on burgled properties that are unoccupied? Will squatters be removable? Will the police do anything to protect the huge number of foreign owned properties?

I know of plenty of unwise ex-pats who have burnt their bridges, and have no home back in the UK. Their homes here are practically unsaleable, but even if they did find a buyer, it would hardly buy them a garage back in the UK. Will social services be finding homes for all these people?

Many will shrug their shoulders, and say 'it's their own bloody fault'.

Fortunately we do have homes back in the UK, and are solvent enough to simply lock the doors here, and walk away; never to return. As long as I could fill the car with various paintings, antiques, and essential documents, I could drive away and stick two fingers up at the whole effing lot of them, and in future spend all my money back in its country of origin; but the people I feel most sorry for are those who literally have nothing to go back to.

If this is how Brexit will end-up, I bloody despair; although I quite fancy the idea of free health care again.

Sunday 25 November 2018

This past week's news!

Professor Philip Alston is a UN special 'Rapporteur', who has recently described the UK as being poverty stricken and lacking in human rights.

He claims that 14 million people are living in 'extreme poverty'; no doubt he's encountered them living down sewage pipes, or under piles of Autumn leaves (if they're lucky).

Another recent report claims that there are 55,000 problem school-age gamblers (11-16) in the UK. In all, 450,000 children regularly gamble; betting an average of £16 each week. And these, I imagine, are just the poverty stricken ones.

Meanwhile, chip shop owner, Philip Suhadolnik of Darlington Co Durham, cannot find anyone to work for him. Several have been offered jobs, but simply failed to turn up. They prefer to live on their generous benefits (presumably down their cosy sewer pipes) than actually go out to work.

Back to Alston and his claim of poverty. All so-called poverty is comparative. In the UK, these hundreds of thousands of 'poverty stricken' children can afford to gamble £16 a week, probably own a smart phone, a laptop, and an X box, and maybe manage to afford a few lines of Columbian marching powder at the weekends. This can hardly be called 'poverty'. In fact it is an insult to children worldwide who really DO live in poverty; by which I mean they have NOTHING, and struggle to find something to eat, like the Indian street children in the photo above..

Of course there are people in the UK who are, without question, living below an acceptable financial standard; there always will be. Austerity (or what I prefer to call 'good housekeeping') has meant that some have had their hand-outs reduced. But please, Alston, don't write silly reports to the UN saying that the UK is a country gripped in extreme poverty. You, and I, both know, it simply isn't true.

According to the IMF, the UK is the world's 5th (or some say 10th) largest economy.

p.s. I now see that Ms Denise Coates, the boss of Bet365 (a major UK on-line betting site), has an annual salary of £265 Million. And who said gambling doesn't pay?

Saturday 24 November 2018


Jerusalem Artichokes are the perfect crop for the lazy gardener. You buy a few from your local greengrocer, plant them somewhere discreet in the garden, then come Autumn you have a wonderful crop. Leave a few tiddlers in the ground, and you'll have an even better crop the following year; and so on ad infinitum. They do not fail.

This year I have established a small dedicated plot up at Haddock's. In Spring, I planted about 6 tubers; but those I'll leave till later. These, above, grow at the base of a wall surrounding the pool, and are semi wild.

Last week I did notice some on sale at my supermarket, but they were all long and thin; rather like my little finger. Much too small, and difficult to clean. Mine above are far superior, and clean quite easily with a small nail brush.

I'm roasting a Chicken tonight, so they will roast amongst a few potatoes. Totally delicious; even if they do make you fart.

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