Tuesday 31 July 2018

Village Brocante 2018.

Sunday the 29th was the day of our village Brocante (boot sale), and I returned home with just one purchase.

It's a pretty classic early ecclesiastical wooden pricket candlestick. Probably early 18th C, it is part carved and part turned, gessoed, then painted in a rather dull grey/brown colour; most of which has since come off. It reeks of age.

A nice little (50 cms tall) piece that will compliment my collection of early rustic objets. It was probably the oldest thing there!

Monday 30 July 2018

The Embarrassed Headmaster.

Above is an arial photo of my old prep' school (6 to 14). The school is now closed, but in it's hey-day was a pretty classic school of its type. Set amongst the beautiful Sussex weald, it even boasted a magnificent cricket pitch, that had been specially laid down for the visiting South African test teams.

These schools were found all over southern England and elsewhere, but especially in Surrey, Sussex, and Hampshire. The word 'Preparatory' meaning that pupils were 'prepared' for both the rigours of the dreaded 'Common Entrance' exam, that hopefully gave access to one's upper school, and also to the extremely tough life ahead, under the liberal use of canes by sadistic Flashman-style 'prefects'.

I was beaten rather a lot at The Abbey. School rules, as silly as they may seem to outsiders, were to be broken at peril, and beating was the normal punishment for even the slightest infringement. Whacker-in-chief was a Mr FRITH; joint owner of the school. He was also my classics teacher, and, I must say, a very good one. He was responsible for my later being awarded a Classics Scholarship, with a bursary worth a staggering 13 guineas a year!

At the age of about 24 I met up again with my old tormentor, by chance, whilst I myself was teaching at a Sussex Preparatory School (just before my leaving for France). The Abbey, by this time, had closed down, and FRITH had returned to being just an ordinary teacher (no different to me) at another prep' school. He had accompanied his school Cricket team to play against the one where I was teaching.

I spoke to him all too briefly, and couldn't help noticing that he was extremely uncomfortable in my presence. He looked as if he was expecting me to punch him on the nose at any moment, and he scampered away looking very sheepish.

I suppose the moral to this tale is that one should never do things that one would be ashamed of in later life. Strangely, I felt rather sorry for poor old FRITH; his world had fallen apart, and the likes of me had finally become his equal. No wonder he scuttled off so quickly with his tail between his legs.

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Sunday 29 July 2018

Pumps, Sand, and Glass.

Yesterday we changed our pool's sand filter (the big round thing above). Luckily I was able to find the exact same model as a replacement, and the idea was that our man would just take the old one out and replace it with the new.

I can hear you all shouting "Nothing is ever as easy as that, Cro"; and you'd be right.

Firstly the delivery man refused to deliver the new one because our drive is a bit narrow, and having come about 200 Kms, he immediately turned around and went home. Having been suitably reprimanded, he returned 3 days later and Lady Magnon and I carried the above box 50 metres to the house.

To all intents, the new one (below) looks no different to the old one, which had offered 14 years loyal service, but of course those clever people at Hayward make sure that there are very slight differences; just to annoy us!. Our man had to 'melt' pipes in order to absorb the slight differences in measurements. Thank you Hayward.

There was a lot of swearing, scratching of heads, and waving of arms; but eventually he installed it.

What IS different, however, are its contents. One would imagine that a sand filter was filled with sand; but no more. They are now filled with glass. 140 Kilos of it.

Large granules go into the bottom (above), then it's topped up with much finer granules (below).  

Sand lasts approximately 5 years; glass about double that, and the price reflects the extra five years usage. 

So, when you put your empty Clicquot bottles into the recycling bin, you never know; they might end-up being crushed, and put into Cro's pool filter. Recycling at its best.

Saturday 28 July 2018


I cannot claim to have had a perfect crop of Toms this year, because I've been attacked by viruses; YET AGAIN.

However, it hasn't been all bad, and here is one of those infamous Portuguese Tomatoes that I was going on about.

They really are a wonderful fruit. They are big, solid, and delicious. They are slicing Tomatoes, perfect for that simple lunch, al fresco, under the shade of a big old Linden tree (or our auvent). 

Sliced Toms, finely diced onion, Feta cheese, a few good olives, a very simple vinaigrette, and Bob's your uncle.

Friday 27 July 2018

July 27th. Belloc Night.

Tonight (July 27th) is Belloc Night; that wonderful night when all good Sussex folk, as well as those who value humorous poetry, read a few verses from the great man's repertoire, whilst eating bread cheese and pickles.

This year I shall be regaling our guests with Belloc's 'Henry King'.

The Chief Defect of Henry King
Was chewing little bits of String.
At last he swallowed some which tied
Itself in ugly Knots inside.

Physicians of the Utmost Fame
Were called at once; but when they came
They answered, as they took their Fees,
``There is no Cure for this Disease.

``Henry will very soon be dead.
His Parents stood about his Bed
Lamenting his Untimely Death,
When Henry, with his Latest Breath,

Cried, ``Oh, my Friends, be warned by me,
That Breakfast, Dinner, Lunch, and Tea
Are all the Human Frame requires...
With that the wretched child expires.

Thursday 26 July 2018

Jeremy Corbyn praises Venezuela.

Venezuela's inflation is set to rise to 1,000,000% by the end of this year ("a different and a better way of doing things" according to Corbyn). Venezuela's version of extreme socialism, and the 'allegedly' anti-semitic Chavez, were both held in high regard by the wonderful Jeremy Corbyn.

Beware UK. Elect this clown and exactly the same could (will) happen to you!

Here he is, explaining why Chavez was such a wonderful chap.

Wednesday 25 July 2018


I have several of these plants. This particular one, above, which I believe is one of the most common, is possibly the best of the lot.

This white one with the red centre is good, it always flowers really well.

This one tends to stay 'furled', only a few open-up completely. No idea why.


A few years ago, I admired a double white one in a friend's garden. She saved some seeds for me, but they always reverted to single. Later she gave me a plant, but that too turned out to be a single (above). We both gave up!

A surprisingly easy plant to grow. Some call them Hibiscus; I shall continue to call them Althéa.

Tuesday 24 July 2018



It's a bit of a mixed bag this year. We have hardly any eating Apples, only a few scabby Pears, and our Plums are almost non-existent; other than the Greengages.

However, we have Figs by the thousand, Grapes by the million, and our usual ridiculous crop of Quinces. We have plenty of Bramleys, our Peaches are doing well (above), and we have a reasonable crop of Jonagold Apples (below).

Our Cherries were a dead loss.

One has to be philosophical; there's always next year!

Monday 23 July 2018

What All Boys (9-13ish) Need.

Firstly a boy needs a dog. It should be of an indistinguishable breed; but with a good percentage of Terrier.

A boy also needs a bike. This should possess all sorts of gadgets that do nothing, but look good. The more gadgets the better. No mudguards, of course.


What boy could exist without a fishing rod. Going fishing is an essential part of every boy's education; far more important than maths or history. (above is my grandson Finn)

A boy also needs a father who can bowl (as in Cricket). A non-bowling father, frankly, is totally useless.

He also needs a secret box, where he keep his Opinel, bits of string, semi-nude pictures of Kylie Minogue, animal skeletons, and dried frogs (this is Harvey J's box above).

                                          Image associée

He needs gumboots, plenty of old clothes, and (preferably) a Chelsea football shirt.

That's it really. Give him something to eat occasionally, and a flask of squash, and he'll grow-up all by himself.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Cubs, Scouts, Girl Guides.

Above is my youngest's (Wills) self portrait 'sculpture' as a Cub in Uniform (aged 8).

Lady Magnon was a Girl Guide in Washington DC, and, somewhere, we still have her badge covered sash.

Both of them learnt how to light fires, remove stones from Horses hooves, and be good citizens.

Girl Guiding in the UK has recently turned a corner. No longer will girls receive badges for being a good Hostess, Knitting, or Cooking, they have now turned their attention to Festival going, Cocktail mixing, Protesting, Media criticising, and Human rights. No doubt the girls will also be required to be card-holding members of a Guides Trade Union, aa well as the Labour Party.

Maybe The WI will no longer make Jam, and The Mother's Union will, quite naturally, become the Indeterminate Sex Parent Union. Nothing is beyond the clutches of the PC brigade.

And don't even mention Rudyard Kipling's poetry!

Saturday 21 July 2018

Wild grapes.

Several years ago I found a vine on the edge of some nearby woodland; I imagine it was the remnant of some ancient, long-lost, vineyard.

The vine itself was totally disease free, and its white grapes were delicious even though they were filled with pips. The leaves were much thicker and bigger than 'ordinary' vines, so I took some cuttings, and the results, above, now grow on the perimeter wall of the pool.

The flavour of the grapes is very unusual. I remember a neighbour giving me some many years ago, whilst we were wine-making, and explaining to me that they were a banned variety. I've never forgotten the taste, and these ones are the same as his. His vineyard is now long-gone too, and I imagine that the grape variety is in danger of disappearing.

The grapes have a taste of Ether, and their inclusion in with other wine-making varieties was halted quite a long time ago. Unfortunately I am unable to find the name of the variety; it seems to have been deleted from history.

I take a few cutting every year, and give them to whoever wants them. They grow like crazy, and are amazingly productive! If you want a plant; pop round!

Friday 20 July 2018

Men Behaving Badly - Barbeque

It's BBQ season; I had one last night.

I know I've showed this clip before, but it makes me laugh every time. Enjoy.

Thursday 19 July 2018

'Hobbit Homes'.

Kris Harbour was a London based Engineer who yearned for freedom.

He ditched his £400,000 mortgage, ditched his job, and bought himself an 18 acre plot in Wales, where he built this house for £4,000.

There has been a huge rise in the whole concept of what are referred to as 'Hobbit Homes', mostly they are legally built, but often they are not and are eventually pulled down.

I have always been in awe of people who build their own homes from either the materials found around them, or from what they find on Ebay or at the local dump or junk yard.
I don't know if my village owns any spare land, but I would love to see a few hundred acres being offered to people who wish to build self-sufficient, sustainable, alternative homes. I'm sure it could only benefit the village, and would bring in a bunch of very interesting and inventive people.

M le Maire, please take note.

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Lady Magnon: addict.

Ever since she first tasted this, she's been hooked.

If she could have it on her morning cornflakes, she would. If she could fill the pool with it, I think she'd do so. If she could have it as a flavoured toothpaste, there's no question that she would brush her teeth 20 times a day.

It's a little too sweet for me, but even so it's very pleasant. Your Hot Dogs would never be the same again.

Oh, I didn't say, did I...... it's mustard with honey.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

Out with the old; in with the new.

When Mr Brandt sold us this oven, he guaranteed it for one year.

It broke after one year and four days, and when asked if they would ignore the four days, the bastards said 'NO'.

Since then we have had to find inventive ways of using it. We've done all sorts of oven dances, dial twiddles, and switch flickings, and until recently we'd managed to roast the fatted calf without too much difficulty.

However, the in-built 'annoyance programme' has recently totally taken over, and I haven't been able to use it for about a month, so it had to go.

The 'DARTY' men arrived, and instantly threatened to dump the new oven at the end of the drive, because our access is a bit narrow. Then after having refused to install it, because of some minor technicality, they unceremoniously dumped it in the 'Tower'. 

When they'd gone I phoned Bertrand (our electrician), and he promised to come a.s.a.p.

We knew it was dodgy asking to have it installed on Friday 13th; the 16th proved a much better bet, and all is now well. Bertrand did the job in a matter of minutes.

I should add that the 'DARTY' company delivery men have always been exemplary in the past; which is why we use them. These two last Friday were a bloody disgrace. I shall be writing!

p.s. Whilst looking for our replacement, we were amazed to see how many ovens don't have an interior light. I would have thought they were as essential as the ones inside a fridge.

Monday 16 July 2018

Our illustrious EU leader.

It was just about the most important NATO summit of recent times. One might have hoped that dear Juncker (His Excellency Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission) would have resisted that third bottle of publicly-funded Pétrus for breakfast.

What a bloody disgrace he is, and in front of all the world's most powerful leaders.

I can almost lip-read Mrs May at 30 secs, saying "Pissed as a fart!"

Sunday 15 July 2018


You cannot imagine the pleasure this photo gives me.

To see these two lying side by side like this is wonderful; it's taken me about 6 years of 'training' to get this far.

My dream is to have them snuggling up together on Winter nights.....but that may be just a tad too far-fetched. Fred is 13, so not a lot more 'training' time available.

Still; I'm working on it.

Saturday 14 July 2018

Theresa May and the Holy Grail

She's doing her best, but the people aren't happy. Never has the UK been more divided. Here is Mrs May taking some of the stick!

Friday 13 July 2018

Village Picnic (Marché des Producteurs).

This was the second 'picnic' of 2018; last week's was a bit of a wash-out, and we didn't go.

As usual, our own village event is probably the most popular within a good radius, it wasn't exactly packed, but I would think there were at least 400 people present.

We went with several friends. Margaret (top in white), who lives nearby, and some others from the UK. I love spending time with our old friend Margaret; we turned up in this area at about the same time all those years ago, and have been good friends ever since. Her book 'Tropical and Subtropical Trees' remains the world authority to this day. She is a mine of information of all things horticultural.

On offer last night. BBQ'd Duck breasts, Confit, simple salads, and SNAILS. I was in heaven.

Sandrine, our Boulangère, was also present, so it saved a Sunday 20 Km round trip to her bakery.

Thursday 12 July 2018

The Greengage.

The Greengage (Reine Claude) is a strange fruit. One minute it is green and unripe, the next it is yellow-ish and so sweet that it's almost impossible to eat. Catching them 'just right' is a cat-n-mouse game that takes considerable guile.

This year our tree is surprisingly loaded and bug free. Normally almost every fruit is inhabited by some bucolic vilain that leaves a transparent dribble from its temporary home.

2018 will be a good year. We will freeze plenty, as well as having occasional pies. We will also consume plenty in situ; the best way.

It's a pity my ordinary Plums aren't doing as well.

Wednesday 11 July 2018


Normally, through the night, I listen to London based radio station LBC, but recently I've been so incensed by one particular extreme left wing, republican, misogynistic, Scottish, uber opinionated, Corbyn loving, sun hating, football hating, Mrs May obsessed, snowflake, presenter, that I've changed my early morning allegiance to the BBC's World Service.

The other morning I came across a short 10 minute item called 'More or Less'; a programme dedicated to numbers.

The proposition was Carl Sagan's 'There are more stars in the universe than grains of sand on all the world's beaches'.

Well, impressive calculations were made, and huge figures bandied about, and the conclusion was that Sagan's statement was correct.

In fact they even came up with an estimation for the number of stars in the sky as being....


That's a 1, followed by 22 zeros. About one zero above the calculation for the grains of sand.

p.s. If the programme is on iPlayer; I recommend.

Tuesday 10 July 2018

Portsmouth Sinfonia : "Also sprach Zarathustra"

Portsmouth Sinfonia is comprised of a few professional musicians, mixed with a bunch of complete amateurs. The results are STUNNING.


Monday 9 July 2018

Summer feet.

The effects of Espadrilles.

Two-tone feet.

Sunday 8 July 2018

England mot Sverige, Fotboll.

What happens when you have a Swede and an Englishman watching an important England versus Sweden football match together?

Well, of course, we fight, we get completely pissed, and later we pass-out at the tattoo parlour whilst having rude words inked onto our foreheads. We're traditionalists at heart.

The next morning, suffering from unbelieveable hangovers, we ask who won. One of us cheers, whilst the other goes to lie down in a darkened room.

It was meatballs and glogg at one end of the table, and beer and pork scratchings at the other. Harmony reigned.

England 2 Sweden 0.

Friday 6 July 2018

Rough Sketching.

Having seen some of Rachel's recent townscapes, I thought I'd re-post this page from 2011.

All trained painters treat their drawings differently; our training gives us the confidence to scribble away as we like, without paying too much attention to the final look of the work.

I love going out with just a pen, brush, and sketch pad, and recording things in my own particular (peculiar) way. I never worry about drawings being 'good', or even necessarily accurate. It's just being there, looking at something, and jotting it down, which is fun.

These three sketches of a nearby town were done over a period of several weeks, I think I drew almost every inch of the place......

..... including the little back streets. Nothing special about them, but in this one I remember that I rather liked the old 2CV van, probably more so than the buildings.

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Lady Magnon recently accused me of wearing a swimming costume that was so faded, it was almost impossible to tell what had been its original colour. It had in fact started life (about 15 years ago) as red, but is now a very flattering faded pink. I told her that it clearly demonstrates that I'm not a 'tourist'. 

I know it's stereotyping, but the above photo does represent classic 'tourists'; you can spot them a mile off.

Going on holiday for many means buying a large selection of brand new gaudy 'seaside' clothes, and they wonder why they get mugged. Walk along the prom' in that stuff, and you're asking for trouble.

Most well-known Spanish (other countries are available) sea resorts are awash with pickpockets, con-men, immigrant gangs, and other general criminals, all of whom are just looking for gullible tourists.

So take my advice, when on holiday try to look like a local; old clothes, no flashy cameras, no studying of tourist guides in pavement cafés. And don't forget, when travelling, take HALF the amount of clothes you think you'll need, and TWICE the amount of money.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday 5 July 2018


When we see these machines in the fields, we grab the animals, close all the doors and windows, and hold our collective breaths.

In the case above it was spraying the Sunflowers. I have no idea what chemicals are being used, but it's probably best not to breathe it in!

Hidden off to the left are about a dozen Beehives that were brought in firstly for the Chestnuts, and secondly for the Sunflowers. It does seem strange to spray with insecticides just when they're about to do their job. 

Bring 'em in; kill 'em off.

Wednesday 4 July 2018

Favourite veg'?

Trying to think of a favourite vegetable, is like choosing a favourite child, or colour, or landscape. It's probably best not contemplated.

At this time of year we are awash with Courgettes, French Beans, and these long Peppers; all of which come high on my list. But having to plump for just one, it'll have to be the Peppers.

These are not hot Peppers. When they have been lightly fried in Olive oil, with a slight sprinkling of gros sel, they are left to become tepid, and are simply delicious as an accompanying snack with a salad lunch.

Here they are known as Piments, Doux long des Landes, but no doubt this name changes from country to country. 

I'm now just off to tuck into the ones above! Need I mention the word 'delicious'.

Tuesday 3 July 2018

The 'Au vent'.

It's been hot all over Europe, and, apart from a handful of bikinied sun-worshipers, we've all been desperately looking for SHADE.

I have always claimed that the most important room in any local house, is the 'au vent'. A covered outdoor room where one can eat, snooze, read, and enjoy alfresco living without the risk of sunburn or rain.

If, like me, you enjoy the son et lumiere of Summer storms, then your au vent is the perfect spot to sit and admire.

In the above photo it was 30 C in the shade, and goodness knows what, out in the sun.

Believe me; our little au vent is essential.

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