Sunday 30 September 2018

Beautiful Venice.

Never book a Gondola ride right after Sunday lunch!

Saturday 29 September 2018

Yellow peril.

As usual we're dumping them by the barrow load.

We ate one last weekend, quartered and roasted with a joint of Pork, and I expect we'll eat another one in a week's time. Otherwise it's off to the compost with them!

This was the third barrow-full, and there's at least another to come.

Friday 28 September 2018

Late September Lunch.

Like most people (I suspect), I buy things, put them away, and forget about them.

I've just rediscovered this small oval plate (above left), covered in dust, at the back of a cupboard. I imagine I'd bought it at some local boot sale many years ago.

It pleases me on two counts; it's oval (I particularly like oval plates), and it sports that decorative edging style known as 'Moustiers'; as indeed does the soup bowl.

We've now returned to our autumn/winter lunches of soup, but with just a hint of salad to accompany. The mid-day weather is still warm, and we are still swimming daily, but signs of approaching autumn are everywhere. We've had our annual delivery of Oak logs, and Lady M has already booked her pre-Christmas (sorry about that) shopping trip to London.

Brexit may be getting on everyone's nerves, but I found some respite in rediscovering the little oval plate; even Lady M remarked about how nice it is. 

Just perfect for a small egg and tomato salad.

p.s. As you might imagine; very little happens here.

Thursday 27 September 2018

The silly (conference) season.

It's political party conference season in the UK. The Lib Dims started off, holding their major bash in a caravan, in some car park (whereabouts unknown).

At the moment it's the turn of the Socialists in Liverpool, and next week the Tories hold their bash in Birmingham.

I never really take much notice of conference resolutions, as they tend to be spread like confetti for the sole benefit of journalists.

However, the Socialists seem desperate to frighten people, by putting out some of the most dangerously irresponsible proposals for years.

There were threats to lynch 'bankers and speculators', 'the elite', and 'the establishment'. There was talk of re-nationalising just about everything, and insistence that all 'anti trade union laws' should be scrapped. All companies with more than 250 employees will be made to give 10% of the company shares to the workers; and so it continued in this overtly Marxist fashion; even Arch-hypocrite Welby was praised for his Communist credentials, and some young female MP called for a general strike. Clenched fists were everywhere; even from the Islington Champagne Socialists.

Now we await the Tory conference, and the mish-mash that is known as 'Brexit'. There will be fighting, back stabbing, and a possible coup or two. May will attempt to convince the blue rinse brigade of her successes against unemployment, her highest ever financial support for the NHS, and how nasty the Brussels bunch are. There will be cheering to equal that for Corbyn in Liverpool. No doubt they will also sing 'Jerusalem' (which, of course, Corbyn would totally ban).

Bored with it all? So am I.

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Let's all attack the 'haves'.

A certain jobless anarchist, Ian Bone, and his mates, have recently been shouting obscenities at a Conservative MP, and telling his small children that their father is 'hated', and is a 'totally horrible person'. Unacceptable behaviour that would only emanate from one of his ilk; and, of course, totally opposite to the truth.

This particular man, as well as certain uncontrollable trolls, seems to think that everyone should live in the same discomfort and poverty as themselves, just to assuage their extreme left wing leanings.

How we spend our lives is a matter of choice. Some chose to go out stealing, some wear hoodies and sit around on public benches dealing drugs, some even spend their days writing vile foul-mouthed insults about bloggers; whilst others enjoy the cut-n-thrust of a hard day's work. Some even work with their brains rather than their brawn. It takes all sorts.

Where we decide to live is also a matter of choice. I chose where I live because it offers a pleasant life-style. Of my three children, one lives in London, and the other two in Australia. But if one chooses to live in Glasgow, Grimethorpe, or Grimsby; so be it.

It is the easiest thing in the world to sit on your fat arse, live off state handouts, and blame everyone who has a decent standard of living for your oh-so-hard-done-by life. Chips-on-shoulders and the politics-of-envy poison the lives of the inert, and their self-destructive anger is used as a blunt instrument against life's successful businessmen and entrepreneurs. No-one who makes difficult choices in their working lives does so without considerable stress and financial risk, and they should be lauded rather than derided.

I just wish that those who spend their time attacking the well-educated and successful would sort out their own lives before attacking those who have had the guts to risk all.

These are the people who create wealth, and if certain dullards ever got their fat arses off the park bench, they might also find that they are the people who might eventually pay their weekly wages.

So, you want me to 'Hug a Hoodie' Mr Cameron? Well no thank you! I'd much rather shake the hand of a hard working businessman.

As for Ian Bone, I'm amazed he's not in prison. I thought that type of harassment was illegal; but maybe it's only so if the victim is 'foreign'.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

In between times.

This season seems to me like 'limbo land'; neither one thing nor another.

The mornings are cool, and the afternoons still warm enough for swimming. One could easily wear long trousers in the mornings before swapping them for shorts at lunchtime.

In the Chestnut plantations they are busy gathering the early falling nuts by hand; this will later be replaced by noisy machines when they start falling in earnest.

Baying hunting dogs, and occasional shots, can be heard coming from the woods, as the troublesome Boar and Deer population are reduced in numbers.

Vegetable gardens are being cleared of their depleted Summer crops.

We are halfheartedly preparing for winter, with fingers crossed that it will be mild. We are also praying for rain so that we will have mushrooms. The local vignerons will soon be seeing to their 2018 vintage, as the process of this year's wine making begins. Most field crops are already harvested.

The grass (what there is of it) hasn't needed mowing for well over a month; in fact I can't remember when I last mowed properly. No rain, no grass.

We still sleep at night with all windows wide open, and on top of the duvet rather than beneath it.

This is the period where I begin to find myself 'waiting'. Waiting for April or May when the busy cycle begins all over again. In the meantime we have about six months when little happens other than lighting fires, keeping warm, and surviving. Pleasant in its own way, but not my favourite time of year.

Monday 24 September 2018


Tesco, one of the leading UK supermarkets, has just opened the first of a new chain of discount stores called Jack's.

The idea, I believe, is to compete with Aldi and Lidl.

I am pleased to see that 80% of all products sold at Jack's will be 'British', and I have a feeling that this will prove extremely popular with their shoppers.

In a post-Brexit Britain we will need a lot more Jack's, and a lot less Aldi and Lidl.

Well done Tesco (OK, I'm a shareholder).

Tree trunks.

Along with my regular wood piles I also had a few hefty Oak tree trunks lying around, that have been awaiting some enthusiasm.

The one in the foreground that I'd just cut in two, weighed almost as much as a Mini, and I was obliged to use various winching methods just to release it from the ground where it'd been lying for the past few years.

This one (above) weighed more like a London bus, and took a lot of shifting. 

So, as the weather was perfect, and most other outdoor work has drawn to a halt, I decided that now was the moment to tackle the beasts.

There were three very heavy tree-trunks in all, that when processed will provide logs for at least a couple of weeks.

Not to be sniffed at; although lugging sawing and splitting in 31 C heat was possibly a bit foolish. Thank goodness for the pool.

Sunday 23 September 2018

C of E (Labour Party; Canterbury Branch). A Sunday Special.

Much has been written about this man in recent times, but he warrants more.

Justin Welby is a bit of a fire-brand. The Eton and Trinity educated, ex-oil executive cleric, has recently become quite self-righteously outspoken.

He has become an open critic of the tax affairs of Amazon; forgetting that his own business (of which he's the boss) invests very heavily in the on-line company.

In my short Stock Exchange career, the company for whom I worked (as a blue button, trainee broker) was one of about four who held accounts for The Church of England Commissioners. They held HUGE portfolios, and traded vast amounts almost daily. We, as their minions, were sworn to secrecy about their trading. No mention was allowed of any deals; upon pain of death. It was taken very seriously. They were, and are, very astute investors!

The church itself pays no tax, employs people on 'zero hours contracts', and places its vast wealth where they hope it will bring the greatest returns; they are classic Capitalists. I have nothing against all that, but to then spout Socialist nonsense about others who do the same is just plain hypocrisy.

Addressing a Trades Union meeting about how nasty the system is, may bring you applause from a gathering of Marxists, but for the rest of us it simply makes him look like just another cleric who should concentrate more on his 'gods and devils' rather than economics.

Of course we should ALL criticise those huge international companies who avoid paying their fair-share of tax, but we should make sure that our own house is in order first!

p.s. The Arch-hypocrite of Canterbury has also just evicted some Syrian refugees from his palace. The family of two adults and their four small school-age children have been 'discretely moved' to another, less fashionable, part of London. Hmmmm.

Saturday 22 September 2018


Lady M: "Cro, can you give me a hand setting the combination lock on my new flight case?"

Cro: "OK, but you know what I'm like with hi-tech wizardry".

Lady M: "In which case you'd better look at the instructions".

Cro: "Looks easy enough".

At this point Cro sets required secret number, fiddles with small plastic bits, turns keys, and sits back, satisfied with a job well done. 

Then, of course, the bloody thing won't re-open. We try everything, but it's locked solid, and the new combination numbers refuse to accept that they have any relationship to the wretched suitcase whatsoever. It's a bloody disaster. We stare at it in disbelief.

Cro: "I think I've got the answer. The Irish screwdriver".

Lady M: "If you must!".

A hefty blow to the lock with a heavy bolster, and it flies open. We both cheer. I saw off the locking device, paint any scuffed bits with black paint, and return it to Lady M who is perfectly satisfied that it now locks simply with a key; and no stupid combination number to worry about.

It's what any experienced airport baggage handler would have done whilst no-one was looking!

Friday 21 September 2018

Lamb & Potatoes with Lemon.

This is my own version of Rick Stein's very typical Mediterranean dish (as in title). Some might call it a poor man's Greek Kleftiko.

Ingredients: Red/green Peppers, Potatoes, Breast of Lamb, preserved Lemon, Oregano, Rosemary, Garlic, Olive oil, and salt. One hour in oven 200C. Cost, about €5/£5; feeds 4.

OK, the food stylist was absent when I took the second photo, but it's the taste that counts. This was simply delicious. And people say they can't cook!!! Child's play.

I shall be eating the leftovers for my breakfast!

Thursday 20 September 2018

Shock; horror!

I never imagined for one moment that I would ever agree with anything proposed by Labour's Shadow Chancellor John Mcdonnell (above), but I have been proved wrong. On this occasion his wisdom is unparalleled.

He's declared that when (if) Corbyn is replaced as leader of The Labour Party, it should be by a woman.

Of course it should Johnny, and I have just the person. Yes; the fragrant, and highly capable, Diane Abbott; of course!

This would make a seamless transfer of roles, from Shadow Home Secretary to Leader of her party.

She's PERFECT for the job. She has my vote!

Wednesday 19 September 2018


We're losing a well-loved nearby neighbour.

He's sold his kennel, packed his Pedigree biscuits and chews, and is heading for foreign fields.

Ever since he started travelling, he's had itchy paws. Now he's decided to take his bed, his tennis ball, his brush, and his two pets (Sue and Paul), and is heading for England, and pastures new.

I know he'll miss his native S W France, the weather, and the Chestnut woods, but he's exchanging all that for an exciting new life in Lincolnshire (that's just above the roundish sticking-out bit on the right hand side of England).

So, goodbye Rick. It was good knowing you; if all too briefly.

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Pride in his work.

On Sundays I buy our bread for the week at a bakery about 10 kms away. On the way there I take the main road, but on the way back I usually go through the woods. The view above is on the way home.

Over the past few months an elderly man has been cutting trees, splitting logs, and creating these beautiful log piles.

Looking down from the road above I could see that he was taking real pride in his work, and now that his work is finished, I decided to stop the car, and walk down to have a look. 

OK, it's only a log pile, but the pride that he took in the way he stacked the logs is worthy of commendation. The lines are perfectly straight, the height perfect, and the stacking as efficient as possible. 

His attention to detail was exemplary.

Well done that man!

Monday 17 September 2018


Figs are a crop that never fail. The only enemy of the Fig is too much rain when ripening; they become swollen, watery, and tasteless.

At the last count I have about 9 or 10 trees; some very big. Far too many, but I love them.


A few years back I bottled some in an Armagnac flavoured syrup. They were absolutely delicious, but I couldn't find much enthusiasm for them.


This year I shall be bottling more, regardless, and I shall make sure the enthusiasm is there. I can assure you that a few of those with a big dollop of thick cream is about as good as it gets!

And here they are. I only did a few; just in case.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Everyday life.

Cro: "I've cooked some minced Beef for Bok. I'll put it to cool in the microwave until his supper time; will you make sure you remember that it's there?".

Lady Magnon: "Can you remind me".

Cro: "What; you want me to remind you, to remember that it's there?".

Lady Magnon: "Yes".

Cro: "Why don't you remind me, to remind you, to remember that it's there".

Lady Magnon: "Now you're being silly".

Cro: "I am silly".

Lady Magnon: So, will you remind me?".

Cro: "No; you'll have to remind yourself".

Saturday 15 September 2018


Today (Saturday) we'd been looking forward to visiting friends at a nearby village, and witness the working of their communal bread oven, similar to the one below. Unfortunately our plans had to be changed and our visit was cancelled.

This particular oven (below) is at St Roman de Codieres , north of Montpellier, but is much the same as the one we'd planned to visit. Our first house here had its own similar huge bread oven, but we never used it. I regret that now.

The video is a bit long (5 mins); but very relaxing in its way.

Friday 14 September 2018

POTUS 2020.

All sorts of folk are wishing to replace Trumpo as POTUS. Hats are being thrown into the ring at an alarming rate, and an interesting bunch they are too.

So far we have.....

Oscar de la Hoya

Boris Johnson (maybe)

Kanye West

Oprah Winfrey

Ronald McDonald

Someone called 'The Rock' ?

Katy Perry

Will Smith

Tom Hanks

and (one presumes) Alfred E Neuman et al.

Good luck to them all!

Thursday 13 September 2018

RIP Fenella Fielding.

Known mostly for her appearances in the Carry On films, Ms Fielding was amongst that great portfolio of British film 'character actors'; roles for whom have now been almost exclusively relegated to TV.

Back in 1971 Ms Fielding offered 'An Evening With....' performance in a small room above The William Cobbett pub' in Farnham. For someone of her calibre, it seemed a strange location for a show. There must have been about 20 people (max) in the audience. It was a very intimate affair.

Lady Magnon was heavily pregnant at the time, and we laughed so much during the show, that she was later rushed to hospital, where our oldest son soon arrived. 

I can never hear her name, or see her photo, without linking those two events.

Ms Fielding died on Tuesday, aged 90.

p.s. If you believed her to have been Marty Feldman's sister (as I did for a while); she wasn't. It was just a bit of 'Fake News'.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

To all veg' growers.

For the past few decades I have grown a variety of Haricot Vert called 'Contender'. It's a tried and tested variety that is easy to grow and produces well.

However, I have recently been informed about 'Crockett', and have already bought my pack of seeds for 2019.

I'm told there is no comparison to other varieties, both in flavour and overall quality.

A friend who grew them this year (a famed horticulturist), told me she would never grow any other variety ever again. That's as good a recommendation as I need.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

RIP Olga Kristin White.

I originally posted this in 2011.

My old mate Jock Veitch was a journalist, and at one time in his career had been a medical writer for The Star newspaper of New York. It was through this mutual role of medical correspondent that he had met, and became friends with, Kristen White (above).

I, myself, met Kristen several times at Jock's house here in France, spending wonderful evenings sitting beside her at dinner. She was a charming, attractive, and fascinating woman; the perfect guest at one of Jock's regular drawn-out gastronomic soirées. We became instant friends; she was the sort of person one warms to at once, and doesn't forget.

On the 11th of September 2001 Kristen was sitting in seat number 21C of United Airways flight No 93; her aim was to fly to San Francisco; in fact her life ended in a field in Shanksville Pennsylvania at 10.03 am, at the hands of al-Qaeda terrorists.

It is thought that the terrorists had intended to crash Flight 93 into either The Capitol or The White House. There was a scuffle on board between passengers and terrorists (I like to think that Kristin did her bit), and the terrorists decided to abandon their vile mission and simply crash.

17 years have now passed, and I continue to think of poor Kristin. Her life was not intended to end like that, nor were those of the other 3000 innocent victims who also died that day.

RIP Kristin. Our paths crossed only briefly but you left your mark, and I think of you often. Cro xx

Monday 10 September 2018


I don't wish to criticise either this magazine or the plump model on its cover; I wish simply to reflect on its reasoning, and welcome your opinions.

Women's magazines come under various headings, there are fashion mags, home mags, and lifestyle mags; I believe that Cosmo comes under the latter.

Quite what they intended to convey by putting this lady's photo on the front cover, I don't know.

It's certainly not a fashion statement; I can't imagine anyone thinking her swimming costume looks particularly nice. I doubt if it has much to do with her tattoos (including Miss Piggy), as, frankly, they look hackneyed and bog-standard. So we must presume that Cosmo is promoting her as some type of 'style icon', to be admired and imitated. However, I quite expect she will attract more sniggers than gasps of feminine approval.

Fat people usually claim that they are very happy 'within themselves', but one thing I can guarantee is that every time this lady looks in the mirror she will be wishing she was slim. To deny that; would be to lie. 

Personally I don't think she looks particularly attractive. She has a pleasant face and nice hair, but the rest is a disaster. Should she be paraded on the front cover of an influential magazine? I don't think so; but, of course, the magazine isn't intended for people such as me!

When I look at her picture, I find myself simply looking at her size. Was that really their intention?

Sunday 9 September 2018


It's not been a good year here for Apples; it's been far too hot, and far too dry. We have just a few Bramleys, and these ones. I'd not heard of Jonagold before I bought my tree, but it came highly recommended by my nurserywoman.

I planted our tree in March of 2013, and this year has been its first pukka fruiting year.

These are BIG apples. The flesh is quite firm, and the flavour is excellent. I think I made a good choice.

We haven't yet tried them as cooking apples, but I have a feeling they will be very good.

I need to plant another couple of Apple trees this winter/spring, one of which will probably be a Golden Delicious; not sure yet what the other will be; maybe a Braeburn.

Saturday 8 September 2018


The Sunflowers have now mostly been harvested, leaving fields of unruly stubble in their wake. I expect these will be turned brown-side-up before too long.

Elsewhere the Chestnut plantations are being mowed, ready for the major harvest of the year. The gathering of Chestnuts is hard work and lengthy. The primitive machines that now do much of the work will be receiving their annual dose of WD40 and a quick wipe with a damp rag, and the anti-Wild Boar electric fences are all in place. 

The Chasseurs will be cleaning their guns, filling-up the petrol tanks of their Renault Express cars, and making sure their camouflaged jackets still fit. There has not been nearly enough rain for Cèpes, but we may find a few Parasols on our walks.

I love September. It is still warm, the sun shines, and there is expectation in the air.

Anyone thinking of coming on holiday here should certainly chose the first two weeks of September.

Friday 7 September 2018

Back to School.

It's that time of year again.

I don't remember the first day at my Prep' School, but I do remember the first day at my Upper School.

As 'new boys' we were ascribed a 'junior common room' rather than a study, and all 15 (or so) of us new boys assembled there; nervously shuffling in our brand new, crisp, school uniforms. None of us knew anyone else, and I found myself naturally searching-out those who, like myself, were southerners. It seemed as good a way as any to make friends, looking for others who had something in common.

There were five of us who hailed from south of Watford; Po lived in Tehran although was originally from Sussex, Nick was from Pinner, Alan was from Park Lane (very posh), Monty was from Wentworth, and I was from the south coast. These became, and remained, my closest friends.

We were extremely nervous. We'd all read Tom Brown's School Days and were expecting cruel Flashman-like seniors to be on the prowl for boys to thrash and bully.

Finding one's way around was extremely complicated, but was helped by the publication of this tiny almanack which we were obliged to carry with us at all times. This gave times of lessons, cathedral services to be attended, mealtimes, names and addresses of teachers, various societies, occasional films, sports, and weekly events. No excuse for lateness would ever be accepted.

I remember those first few weeks with real trepidation. We were all desperately trying to look as if we knew what we were doing; but didn't. We had entered a whole new world.

I feel very sorry for children who are going through the same thing this week. I just hope their experiences aren't as harrowing as mine.

And yes; I've still got my tiny almanack from all those years ago.

Thursday 6 September 2018

A terrible, terrible, waste.

There's waste, and waste. I can happily walk past a pile of half rotten windfall Bramleys, but walking past my absent neighbour's groaning Peach tree is altogether another matter.

The ground is becoming thick with fallen fruit, so what should a caring neighbour do?

Rescue a few, of course.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Wait here!


Someone, somewhere, must have thought our local children were a tad dim, so they planted this sign to remind them where their school bus picked them up (as if they'd forgotten).

I have to say that the unnecessary sign annoyed me every time I passed by. It is about 200 metres from our house, and was a permanent reminder of bureaucracy and waste.

But, I now see that the authorities have moved said sign to a new spot on the 'main road'; about 150 metres up the hill.

The new position is opposite a semi derelict house, by the entrance to the exciting new Shipping Container Holiday Village; a spot where, I must admit, it is much less of an eyesore.

At last some common sense has ruled; not something that can be said too often hereabouts when it comes to official decision making!

Tuesday 4 September 2018

The state of Haddock's.

Our Summer vegs are still performing well, but my attention is now focused more on our winter Brassicas.

At this season I am always reminded to 'eat vegetables as soon as they're edible', and that is already the case with our two varieties of Kale. The Curly Kale, and the Italian Cavolo Nero are both edible, even though the plants are still in their infancy. If the lower leaves aren't eaten, they will simply die off and be wasted.

In the top left of the photo are the tall stems of my newly dedicated Jerusalem Artichoke patch. I haven't yet delved under the soil but I'm hoping for great things. In the foreground are my Aubergines, that are suddenly having a second flourish, and are covered in both fruits and flowers.

Still quite warm here, and still no decent rain. It's amazing that anything has grown at all, but I'm approaching winter with confidence.

Monday 3 September 2018

Living with discomfort.

I suppose that aches and pains go side by side with ageing. We can expect a certain amount of discomfort as we advance in years.

I've suffered from back pain for many years, but a recent 'flare-up' sent me for essential afternoon siestas, on the hope that lying still might prove to suppress it; it didn't. Getting off the bed again was even more painful and drawn-out. There seemed to be no escape.

I took pills when the pain became severe; they didn't work. I went on even longer walks than usual, hoping that exercise might help; it didn't. I swam twice my usual number of lengths, hoping that cold water might numb the pain; no luck there either.

So, I just have to accept that I'll probably be in some pain for the rest of my life. Hopefully it will be of the mild variety, but no doubt sprinkled with occasional bouts of severe.

My problems are of no importance in comparison with many, and I really shouldn't complain, but it has become something that I really wasn't expecting to accompany my dotage, and I find it more depressing than debilitating!

In my case it's all probably my own bloody fault. All those years of 'bravado', lifting ridiculously heavy stones (when I worked as a stone cutter) have taken their toll.

"Pain is no laughing matter".

Sunday 2 September 2018


Ever wondered what to do with your Mum's old curtains?

Well, here's an idea. Send them to the BBC, and with any luck they'll make them into a frock for one of their news presenters.

Nice, eh?

Saturday 1 September 2018

The Magnon Plan.


I'm so pissed off by all the brexit in-fighting and back-stabbing that I've devised my own 'white paper'.

Right Mrs May, let's have no more mucking about; go and tell those overpaid Brussels bullies that all negotiations are now over. Finito.

No handing over our tens of billions, no trade agreements, and no customs union. From today we are finished with them, and if they wish to continue selling all their cars, washing machines, and beer to the UK, they had better hot-foot to Westminster and start reciprocal negotiations pretty bloody quick, otherwise we'll all be driving Cadillacs, drinking Budweiser, swapping Airbus for Boeing, and wearing Ralph Lauren T Shirts.

And by the way, all that money we've paid in since 1973 to build those fancy EU buildings in Brussels and elsewhere, we'll now be selling back our share of them to the rest of you, and we'll want paying 'pronto'. Everything else we've paid-for, for the use of the EU big-wigs, will be sold-off later.

Mrs M, I seem to remember you once saying "brexit means brexit", so come on; pull your bloody finger out! We're becoming extremely bored with the whole wretched process. Brexit shouldn't mean limp, drawn out, cow-towing, brexit. It should mean strong, tell 'em what's-what brexit. Take control!

I believe that the EU exports a staggering £341 Billion worth of goods to the UK annually; 53% of all UK imports. Now if that ain't the finest thumb-screw to negotiate with, I don't know what is!

Make them come to you; not you go cap-in-hand to them. Enough is enough.

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