Friday 31 August 2018


I keep saying to myself that we don't eat enough fish.

The silly thing is that I really like fish, but find myself ignoring it in preference for meat.

Rachel (in Lisbon) reminded me of the delights of the simple grilled Sardine, so when next at market I bought a few.

Needless to say, they were absolutely bloody delicious! 

I really must make a point of buying fresh fish at least once a week. 

I love Mackerel too.

Thursday 30 August 2018

The end is nigh.

Looking at the long term weather forecast, I see that the days of 30+ temps are now over.

It'll be September by the weekend, and although it heralds Autumn, it's always been one of my favourite months (along with June).

September brings Mushrooms, Chestnuts and Chasse; it is usually a reasonably warm, calm, month. An intermediate month between the heat of Summer, and the oncoming cold of Winter, when the angst of high Summer is replaced by the relaxation of intermediacy.

We shall have plenty more days between 25 C and 30 C, but any swimming will probably be accompanied by a small shudder.

No long trousers for a while yet, but we will certainly be checking on the whereabouts of our wellies, scarves, and gloves. No fires yet either, but suppliers of wood will be reminded that our stocks need replenishing.

I can almost smell the aroma of Bourguignon, Ragoût, and Tagines. Change is definitely in the air.

Wednesday 29 August 2018

Preserving Figs.

It's Fig season, and we are overwhelmed.

Bottling Figs is child's play. They are trimmed of their stems, pricked two or three times with the point of a knife, and dropped into boiling water for about 4 minutes.

They are then cooled in ice-cold water before being placed in their jars. Personally I use 500 gm jars, and place as many as possible in each jar (9-12). The jars are then topped-up with a syrup made from 500 mls water to 300 gms sugar, plus some lemon juice and armagnac.

When sealed, the jars are sterilised for an hour, then left to cool in the water.

This is the result. Fabulous in mid-winter with a big dollop of thick cream! The syrup is pretty good too.

All our 10 Fig  trees are dripping with fruit, and just two jars isn't going to change much, but it does make me feel very slightly less wasteful. I'll probably do some more.

Tuesday 28 August 2018


Time can be a great healer, but it can also be a great destroyer.

When I bought my first home here (in 1972, aged 25), our corner of the village was as close to perfect as one could hope. Our delightful neighbours leant over backwards to be of help (we attempted to do the same for them), and the general atmosphere was one of calm and tranquility. It was everything I had sought for my burgeoning family to grow and flourish. A bucolic haven fit for the most discerning.

This continued until just a few years ago, when a different atmosphere began to infiltrate the calm of our tiny hamlet. These were newcomers who seemed to care very little for country ways, and, in some cases, even the ways of acceptable behaviour.

It's very sad when one has to inform new neighbours that they have become personae non gratae because of their bad behaviour, but occasionally one simply has no other option.

An area can either change for the better or for the worse; but change it will, and to try to regain that calm of the past is impossible. Once lost, there's no going back. Maybe 46 years in the same place is too long.

We now have to cherish those traditions which have remained much the same. In our 46 year residency, it would be naive to think that nothing would change; maybe we should have changed with it, but, frankly, stooping down to that level has never been an option.

More and more, I find myself looking back to earlier times when our community really was a 'community'. Sadly it's now only memories. From May to September it was all go, and everyone mucked-in together to bring in the hay, or pick grapes; and later to gather chestnuts. None of this now happens. In 1972 some of our neighbours were still ploughing with Oxen.

To make matters worse, with the ghastly shipping containers having been dumped at the new 'holiday village' behind us, a slight depression temporarily blanketed our little hamlet. What was simply a project has now become reality, and yet another part of our tranquility has been taken away.

I shall remain my quiet, happy, and hermit-like self, and treat any trifling bad atmosphere as no more than an 'inconvenience'. All I have to do is to sit back and look at the beauty of my surroundings, and my spirits are instantly lifted.

Monday 27 August 2018

DOH! (forehead slapping).


A month ago we changed our pool's filter. Nothing special about that!

If you understand pool systems, you will know that after each cleaning (vacuuming) session the dirty water has to be expelled, using what is called a 'backwash'.

For some bizarre reason, after my pool man had replaced the filter (the big grey thing), he left the main evacuation pipe closed. You can see in the picture that I took at the time that the vertical pipe in the middle has its blue valve turned to Off (On is in line with the pipe; Off is at right angles).

I hadn't noticed his mistake, and for the past month I've been returning all the vacuumed dirty water straight back into the pool. My pool man is like me; getting old and forgetful.

No wonder all my hard work seemed to be of no avail.

Now corrected!

Sunday 26 August 2018

Scratched hand season.

Hurrah; we SHALL eat Blackberry and Apple Crumbles this Winter.

It's been very dry (as if you didn't know), so they are a bit small so far, but the Blackberry season has now started. We shall make weekly trips to the 'picking fields'; we need a lot more yet.

Saturday 25 August 2018

Yet More Vatican disgrace.

I have never held back from my criticism of the Catholic church and their protection of wayward priests; and I shan't here!

Revelations continue, and a court in Pennsylvania (USA) has recently condemned 300 Catholic priests over the sexual abuse of 'possibly' thousands of children, both male and female.

This abuse, as elsewhere, has been systematically covered-up by the church's hierarchy, and one can but wonder if details of the appalling world-wide abuse have not been officially hushed-up by the Pope himself (the buck always stops in the Vatican). Chilean authorities have been trying for years to get information from the Vatican about nine Catholic priests who allegedly abused 38 children; it's like trying to get blood from a stone!

It's hard to believe that this despicable sexual abuse of children continues to be practised by men who act in the name of some ridiculous non-existent deity.

So, who is to blame? Well, the Catholic church's job description for priests includes being male and a 'confirmed bachelor'; not a good idea.

Also to blame are all those who regularly give money to the church; without money to move people around, and pay bribes, the abuses would have been far less extensive.

With such behaviour so entrenched in the lives of Catholic priests, it would be difficult to find a disciplinary committee who would have insisted on expulsions.

Plying children with alcohol, raping them, making porn' films, and forcing them into oral sex, is just the tip of the iceberg. Dig a little deeper, and I'm certain one might find even more serious crimes.

Dressing up in black frocks should no longer be a sign of authority and piety; it should be seen as part of an evil and corrupt institution.

There is still so little done to bring these horrible people to justice, in years to come this will be seen as one of the age's most disgraceful omissions.

Friday 24 August 2018

Knowing your Onions.

Meagre rations for the Magnons this winter.

Above are all the Onions we have, there are no Butternuts, and not a Pumpkin in sight. 

It's been a funny old year.

On the plus side, we shall probably be living off Jam and Ratatouille; and I still have my Paté to make. We also have an excellent future crop of Walnuts; and my fingers are crossed for Autumn Mushrooms. 

Cave dwelling isn't all it's cracked up to be!

Thursday 23 August 2018

Wednesday 22 August 2018

The sconce ensconced.

Well here it is, in situ, up at the barn. I'm happy with it.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Being fat is an expensive, and dangerous, luxury.

                               No automatic alt text available.

I have always enjoyed eating; it's a miracle I don't weigh 200 kilos, rather than just under 100.

Obesity is a serious first world problem. Both the UK and the US lead the world in fat people.

What I cannot understand is how it's usually the 'poor' who get fat on their expensive diets of junk-food, takeaways, and supermarket ready meals. Personally I couldn't afford to live like that; nor would I want to.

I have just looked-up the UK prices for Kentucky Fried Chicken. 6 bits cost £10.50, 10 bits cost £13.50, and 14 bits cost £16.50.This is obviously not cheap, when a whole ordinary chicken from Sainsbury's Online costs between £5 and £7.

I don't even wish to consult Mr McDonald's price list.

Jamie Oliver had the right idea, but maybe he should have pestered the Ministry of Education rather than the schools themselves. It is now URGENT to teach children about nutrition, obesity, and the medical consequences of no exercise combined with a bad and expensive diet.

It has recently been announced that childhood Type 2 Diabetes is massively on the rise, and that it might eventually prove the downfall of the NHS. Kids aren't even allowed to play team sports any more, since some clever-dick decided that being 'winners or losers' wasn't PC. Now they walk down to the chippie instead, and end-up as fat diabetics.

Monday 20 August 2018

Cazals Aug' 19 2018.

The nearby village of Cazals holds one of the biggest and best annual boot sales; this years' (yesterday) didn't disappoint.

I bought this quite heavy 1920's (?) wall sconce. The picture doesn't show it very clearly, but it has signs of having originally been gilded. It had been converted to electricity, but I shall convert it back again to candles (already done!).

And how could I resist this little 'pillow' to hang on the door when I'm working at Haddock's. The elderly lady who was selling it said she'd made it herself when she was young, but now has no garden. I was happy to give her ONE EURO for it.


This old tractor wasn't for sale!

Sunday 19 August 2018

Such Talent.

Summer is, of course, the season of outdoor dining. Good friends, good wine, and plenty to eat. 

Occasionally we are quite numerous, but at this recent gathering we were just seven.

                           Starry Night

Amongst our guests was our good friend Jan (wearing sunglasses, above); we've known each other for over 45 years (even though she tells me she's only 37).

Jan is a painter and designer, and has recently produced a range of furniture and textiles under the banner of 'Bairiki Beach'. Here are a couple of bits of her work.


I love this chair. She is such a talented gal. If you'd like to look at other examples of her beautiful work, you can see more here...

Saturday 18 August 2018

Eating out.

We don't eat out that often; maybe once every couple of weeks. At this time of year a bit more.

The other night I decided at the last minute that we would go to a favourite nearby restaurant. I didn't book, as I considered it unnecessary.

When we arrived we were told that it was closed.

Not wanting to spoil my little surprise, I drove up to another restaurant where we hadn't eaten for years; it was now run by a Dutch couple.

Being the cook of the family, I know all the little tricks of the restaurant trade, and this place was full of them. The first indication was that I was told that my selection of 'Lamb shank in red wine sauce' would take an extra 20 mins (just the time it would take to heat-it-up in a hot water bath). I should have changed my choice there and then.

In fact the Lamb was quite pleasant, but Michel Guérard's vegetable supplier must have just visited, and it was served with a silly selection of half cooked, and unseasoned, colourful baby vegs. Lady Magnon wisely chose a small steak, which was accompanied by the same array of vegs.

We then ate a selection of cheeses which, frankly, wasn't even enough to feed a starving mouse. The fact that huge lorries were thundering past at just a few metres from our plates, didn't make the experience much better.

On the plus side, I'd ordered a good Pécharmant which was 'correct'.

Living in an area of renowned gastronomy, it seems to be getting rarer and rarer to eat well in local hostelries. Too many 'chefs' are jumping on too many bandwagons, and are producing poor imitations of TV chef's decorative nouvelle cuisine fare. Even Michel Guérard himself would have turned up his nose at this place.

Good cooking is not about cutting corners, it's about the love of one's craft; and there doesn't seem to be a great deal of love about any more.

p.s. The staff were very attentive!

Friday 17 August 2018

Caveat Emptor.

Some time ago, a friend of mine bought himself a new pocket camera from a Leclerc Supermarket.

When he got home he discovered that the box was empty, it was one of many that had been used as part of a display.

He returned to the supermarket, and laughed as he explained their silly mistake, and he asked that they exchange it for a box with an actual camera inside.

Well, nothing of this sort is easy in France. Regardless of normal EU rules and regulations, they refused to give him the camera he'd paid for, or even refund his money. As you can imagine, my friend wasn't happy. He'd bought a camera, and they'd given him an empty box.

He told them he wasn't moving until they gave him what he'd paid for, he grabbed a chair, and refused to budge; of course they became irate. I'm not sure if they didn't even threaten to call the Gendarmes.

At one stage in the proceedings he took a box of cereal from a shelf, and spread the contents all over the floor.

Eventually they got fed-up with him, and gave him his camera.

Amazing the lengths you have to go to sometimes, just to be given what you've actually paid for.

Thursday 16 August 2018

Me and Monsieur B.

Yesterday I visited my mechanic.

I was bloody angry, I'd managed to hit a lump of concrete with the underneath of the Compact Royce, and she was making a very nasty growling noise.

Monsieur B told me to come at 9.30 am; I arrived at 9.00. With his Heath-Robinson ageing contraption he lifted her into the air, and together we looked at the spot which was causing the trouble. Where the manifold meets the exhaust system, it had been severely bashed and come slightly apart.

He dismantled the two pipes, and made his prognosis. He would have to heat it, and bash it. We pulled the oxy/acetylene kit into position beneath the engine, and lit up. Once the piece of bent metal was red hot, I held the flaming torch as he bashed the offending joint with a hammer until it was roughly back to its original shape, put it all back together again, and Voila; the growl had gone.

Mechanics like Monsieur B are fast disappearing, in fact he is officially retired. He still does bits for me because we are old friends. Had I gone to a pukka Peugeot garage, they would have sold me a whole new expensive manifold system, at a very hefty price. As it was I crossed Monsieur B's palm with €30, and stayed-on for an extra half hour's chat.

Whilst there he told me that he had bought a Peugeot like mine, and was converting it to run on Ethanol (I think). With a cheap (€250) adaptor, he would then run the car for half the price of petrol. I said I'd pop in to see him in a month's time to see how it was going.

Young car owners of the future will never know the likes of Monsieur B; a dying breed.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Happy Holidays.

Come and spend your summer holidays in beautiful Périgord!

The jewel in the crown of French holiday destinations, with its stunning countryside, envious gastronomy, and exquisite vernacular architecture.

Explore ancient caves, and magnificent chateaux, or go wine tasting in the numerous world-famous vineyards. 

Stay in a tiny hamlet where the centuries old houses are gathered together in cosy communities. Experience the calm and beauty of life in the slow lane. Visit the magnificent medieval towns of Monpazier, Sarlat, and St Cirq Lapopie.

Book your Shipping Container Holiday NOW!

go to: 

Tuesday 14 August 2018

Me, Boris, them.

I know this post will be received with shouts of "Racist", but I couldn't give a Monkey's.

Boris recently defended those Muslim women who wish to wear clothing that he claimed made them look like Letter boxes or Bank robbers. I would not have been so kind.

Forget the Letter boxes nonsense, etc, it's the covering of one's face in public that worries most of us. It makes people anxious, frightens children, and whatever they say, it looks to me like the worst type of third-world female repression.

Whilst at it, I would also ban the wearing of hoodies and all types of face masks, and I would ban those ugly white smiling masks that Anarchists wear when rioting; as well as the Niqab of course.

I have nothing against people wearing such clothing in the privacy of their own homes, but NOT when in public. If Niqab wearers wish to demonstrate devotion to their faith; do it at home or in a mosque, but keep the garb packed away whilst in the bank, at the airport, or on the High Street.

We need to see people's faces, it's an important part of being 'human'; even motorcyclists are asked to remove their helmets when buying petrol, and do so willingly.

The left tried to make Boris's outburst into a party-political matter, but I believe that these concerns cover all political colours. Personally I cannot see this as being anything more than social concern.

If these Niqab wearing women really think of themselves as being so desirable that men would die in the rush for even a glance, then they are mistaken. Of course men like to see a pretty face (I certainly do), but we are mostly blessed with self control. If on the other hand they think it's just Muslim men who cannot control themselves; then their problem is 'internal'.

Monday 13 August 2018

Character in précis form.


I was amused recently when someone was describing a friend of hers as 'a bitter, and sour-faced old hag'.

"I think I know exactly who you're talking about" I said; and I was spot-on!

It doesn't take many words to describe some of our better known 'celebs'. I'm sure you'll know instantly who I'm talking about below.

Etonian, Bullingdon, buffoon.

Gilded, combover, clown.

Marxist, anti semitic, windbag.

Wee Kranky; the Caledonian.

Fat boy.

The Russian Rambo. I could go on....

We live in an age of such celebrity, when certain people are also simply known by their given names. Donald, Boris, OJ, Amy, Jools, Oprah, etc. There must be thousands of Donalds in the world, but we only think of one (other than the Duck).

As for me, I'm that 'balding, bearded, hermit'.

And you.......?

Saturday 11 August 2018

What All Girls (9-13ish) Need.

Following on from my similar posting about Boys, here are my recommendations for Girls.


Firstly Girls need a good education. Preferably in a convent.

Where they need to learn the folly of covering themselves with tattoos (the girl above obviously didn't attend a convent).

They need to stand in front of a mirror, and shout 'NO' until they can say it with real authority. This will prove essential in later life.

Having personally been seduced by a pretty girl who could cook a wonderful Estofat de Boeuf and a Tarte Tatin, I will be a tad sexist and suggest that they also need to learn how to cook (as do boys)! 

Otherwise they need to learn a second (minimum) language, to ride a horse, to pluck a chicken, give orders to a maid, to avoid learning shorthand, to draw, to speak without using the word 'like', to look elegant in gumboots, to use make-up invisibly, and be kind to animals.

They also need a caring father, preferably several big strong brothers, and a 'best friend'.

I think that's about it.

I despair.

I was quite surprised to find these two plastic wrapped packs of three sponges, inside an outer plastic wrapper for six; but more than anything, I was very disappointed.

These six sponges needn't have anything more around them other than a small strip of paper, just to hold them together. To wrap them in so much plastic, especially in these more aware times, is frankly irresponsible.

One really would think that manufacturers would make some effort to keep up with public opinion, but alas.....

The one exterior wrapper I might have accepted as necessary. How loud does one have to shout?

Friday 10 August 2018


It is well known that there is a close genetic similarity (DNA) between Yeast and Human beings, albeit from a common ancestry that dates back over a billion years.

Therefore, I'm wondering how Marmite can claim to be 100% Vegetarian.

Aren't we eating a product made from our own distant ancestors?

What could be LESS Veggie than that!

Thursday 9 August 2018

More space needed.

We've had several minor mishaps this summer, one of which was having Rory (our ride-on mower) throwing off his drive belt.

We can't risk being without a mower, we have plenty to mow, and different grass areas require different mowers.

We have an ordinary motor-mower for the lawn in front of the house, and (now) 2 ride-ons for the other areas.

Rory had started to show his age and had been complaining by throwing off his main drive belt. He's now had a total service, and is back to A1 condition, but we thought it time to find him a younger brother.

So here is 'The Red One' (as yet unnamed) who we hope will cope with the job. He has a big rear bag for collecting all the cuttings; Rory just chucks it out at the side. 

They seem to be getting on OK. Only time will tell.

Wednesday 8 August 2018

Klaus Nomi - Lightning Strikes

Nomi always reminds me of Oskar Schlemmer's 'Ballet Triadique' designs; which is where I expect he got his inspiration. He doesn't make me think of much else.

Enjoy; if you can. I shall.

Tuesday 7 August 2018


Lady Magnon is very partial to ice cold Cranberry juice; especially at this time of year.

We are told that Cranberry is a 'Superfruit', and this particular Company (Pressade) also claims that their product contains no added sugars (a bonus).

But being an inveterate reader of 'ingredients', I had a butchers at the back of her recent purchase, and found the following...

Apple juice 52.1%
Cranberry juice 16.4%
White grape juice 15.6%
Water and Elderberry juice 1.2%
plus some natural aromas, and Vitamin C.

Now, I don't know about you (or even the EC Trades description folk), but to me that is APPLE JUICE; not Cranberry juice. Surely if a product contains more than 50% of a certain product, then it should be named after that product. Otherwise the law is an ass.

This is APPLE JUICE with a small amount of Cranberry flavouring!

If a sausage contains over 50% Pork, and just 15% Poodle, could you honestly call it a 'Poodle Sausage'?


Sunday 5 August 2018

Birthday boy.


August 5th is my late father's birthday. He would have been 113 today.

He was a good man, and he deserves to be remembered. Many, many, people benefited from his generosity.

So, Happy Birthday Papa. x

Saturday 4 August 2018

Compost Fry-up.

August is not only my bottling month, it's also the month when we return to eating 'Compost Fry-up'.

Last night's (not the above; my last night's photo was rubbish) comprised of Potatoes, Beans, Long Peppers, Aubergines, Peppers, and a few baby Tomatoes.

I cook the Potatoes and Beans beforehand, then the rest is chopped and fried in Olive Oil and Garlic Butter, with the Potatoes and Beans added later. Just before it looks well cooked I add a teaspoon or so of ground Cumin; and that's it.

I'm no saintly Vegetarian, but I could eat this several times a week. It was so good!

Friday 3 August 2018

Summer Croquet.

We don't play Croquet as much as we used to. Maybe we're not as good at cheating as we were.

Back in the day, we'd have serious Summer competitions with medals, prizes, and championship titles.

Above in 1993, the teams comprised of two boys (The Wimpos), two mothers (The Mumblers), and two fathers (The Grand Cru). The Grand Cru won The Cup; of course.

It's a frustrating game (especially here), with tantrums, outrageous cheating, and losers who do nothing but complain.

The Croquet Lawn is ready, but whether or not it'll get any use this year is still being debated. I don't know how we'd get the hoops in the rock-hard ground anyway.

Thursday 2 August 2018

Trelawnyd Male Voice Choir-Bring Him Home

Someone says he's going to leave all this. I don't believe him.

If you wish to sing along, the lyrics are below. You might also hear JG in the background. Tissues at the ready.

God on high
Hear my prayer
In my need
You have always been there

He is young
He's afraid
Let him rest
Heaven blessed.
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

He's like the son I might have known
If God had granted me a son.
The summers die
One by one
How soon they fly
On and on
And I am old
And will be gone.

Bring him peace
Bring him joy
He is young
He is only a boy

You can take
You can give
Let him be
Let him live
If I die, let me die
Let him live
Bring him home
Bring him home
Bring him home.

Wednesday 1 August 2018


Happy Lammas!

It's that time of year again. There's a surfeit of vegetables at Haddock's, and it all needs attention. The first thing to make is Ratatouille.

Now, this is NOT the classic way of making 'Rat', but let me assure you that you really wouldn't know the difference.

I chop-up all my Toms, Peppers, Aubergines, and Courgettes, into 1-2 cm pieces, season a bit, and cook down until all is softened. 

I fill 500 gm jars, fix the capsules and lids, then sterilise for an hour.

Take out, tighten lids, and leave to cool. The following morning I take off the lids, clean and dry the capsules, and write on them what is inside (checking that the capsules are firmly sealed).

It's a simple process; one that I shall be repeating several times over the next few weeks.

Life without home-bottled 'Rat' in the winter would be unthinkable. These were simply the first six jars; plenty more to do!

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