Tuesday 31 December 2019

Cro's review of 2019.

2019 didn't begin well. It had only just started when our lovely Bok left us. It all happened so suddenly, and hit me very hard. The Vet' found a massive tumour on his Spleen, which sadly had spread to all his other vital organs; there was no hope. 

I'd taken him for his usual walk in the early morning and he seemed fine, then by late afternoon he was gone. It took me weeks to recover from the shock, and much longer to accept that he's no longer here; RIP my darling boy. Our local 'Cruella' who'd recently threatened to kill him must have been rubbing her hands with glee. I buried him at Haddock's alongside Monty and Freddie.

It's amazing the positive effect a dog has on one's life and well-being, and how devastating it can be when they're gone. With Lady Magnon away in Australia I suddenly felt very alone, and admit to having shed the occasional tear whilst out walking.

Towards the end of the month we also said farewell to two very good 'human' friends who we'd known for over 47 years; since we first came to live in our village. Mme P was a close neighbour, and Mme H our local chatelaine. We'll miss them both hugely; both almost became surrogate family after our move into the unknown, and I thank them profoundly in absentia for their tolerance and wonderful friendship.

On less important matters, the opening months of 2019 were dominated (for us Brits) by the whole bloody Brexit business. Just when you thought a mess couldn't get messier; it did, and at times it almost looked like civil war.

In mid-Feb, my son Kimbo arrived with a cardboard box filled with trouble; an 8 week old Border Collie pup that we named Billy. The last 10 months have been filled with fun, laughter, and countless mops and buckets. Luckily, with a young puppy in the house, good weather was a real bonus, and house training was able to start quite early. He soon understood what's what. He's turned into a lovely dog; the children all adore him.

July was stinking hot, whilst back in the UK they witnessed the resignation of Theresa, and her replacement by Boris as PM.

In August, just as the weather cooled to a more acceptable 25 C-ish, our guests arrived in droves, and chaos ruled. Billy was ecstatic, Lady Magnon was in heaven, and we all had a really great time. 'Family' became the most important thing for a while, and we had plenty of very special times. With the boys growing fast, such a 'cousin camp' may not happen again.

On the 'Good News' front, England won the Cricket World Cup, and two members of the English 'Ineos' (Sky) cycle team members, Bernal and Thomas, came first and second respectively in the Tour de France. Meanwhile in Summer's classic battle between England and Oz for The Ashes, the result was 'a draw' (actually, not a bad result). And out in Japan, England's Rugby squad came away with the very respectable Silver Medal in the World Cup, having been beaten in the final by S Africa.

Our 2019 growing season was a bit hit-n-miss. With the extreme heat and drought of summer, only perennials with deep roots performed well. Apples, Pears, Tayberries, etc, all excelled; whereas our Tomatoes, Aubergines, Peppers, Beans, and Courgettes, eventually just gave-up regardless of my daily watering. Luckily we have plenty of leafy 'greens' which have been seeing us through winter.

My 2019 attempt at wine vinegar making went exceptionally well, and I awarded my Vinaigre Cro an impressive 10/10. Ne'er mind!

All in all 2019 was a good year for the Magnons. Sadly our tiny hamlet is changing very fast, and has now passed the point of no return; what a shame. Someone once said that 'you can ruin anything by making it popular', and that person was right. We now feel as if we're living in some awful suburb, surrounded by constant building noise, and some very unpleasant people who think nothing of throwing stones at, or kicking, poor Billy. Very sad. We are probably the least affected by all the changes, but when we think back to how things were......


However, Billy has survived, and grown well. He's a very active dog, and the children all adore him.

So, we now look forward to 2020. We've promised ourselves that we shall return to over-wintering back in Blighty this coming year. We'll see.

We wish you all a very happy New Year. May all your projects be successful, your larder be full, and your bank statement be always written in black. Cro xx

p.s. In case you hadn't heard, Boris won a landslide victory in the General Election (thank goodness), but Brexit has yet to be finalised.

Monday 30 December 2019


I received some lovely presents this Christmas, amongst which was a really good quality Umbrella (my last one broke in two), a very swish hamper of goodies, and the above.

Roku is a streaming device which transfers WiFi info from your Modem direct to the TV. I don't suppose that I shall ever use all its facilities, but the one which interests me most is YouTube. Rather than watching certain shows/movies on my small laptop screen, I can now watch them much bigger, and without the interference of adverts, on our TV.

Ain't teknolergy wonderful.

Jeremy Corbyn behaving like a petulant child.

Does anyone remember Jeremy Corbyn?

And to think that some people actually wanted this man to be The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Thank goodness that such misguided notions were restricted to so few, and 'The Nasty Party' is now where it belongs; just a faded memory!

Sunday 29 December 2019

Some Female Magnons, past and present.

I'm not 100% certain, but I think this is my Great Grandmother Magnon.

Grandmother Magnon.

My mother.

Lady Magnon.

And Tenpin Magnon, my daughter (in colour).

Friday 27 December 2019

Cro's Style Awards No 77.

This dapper gent' above is Andrew Ridgeley, one half of Wham; the other half being the late George Michael.

Ridgeley is always impeccably dressed. I would vote him a serious contender for 'Britain's Best Dressed Man' (we'll pretend we didn't see the man-bag).

Well done Andy.... keep it up.

Thursday 26 December 2019

How'd it go, Cro?

The older I get, the more easily tired I get, and my ability to consume alcohol becomes less and less. I can almost see the day when I shall do little but sleep, having signed several pledges.

However, Christmas is special, and I throw ALL cautions to the winds; especially with Wills, Kellogg, and the boys (elves) with us.

Opening presents is always the best bit, and the boys had two lots of presents under two different trees. Far too many, of course.

As in all households, the giving of gifts is all important on the 25th; and here is no exception. They flowed thick and fast and included a wonderful Harrods hamper for us (very posh), and an Egg incubator for the whole family. I think Wills sees his future as a midwife/husband to baby chicks.

The Turkey was moist and tasty, the nut roast met with approval, and the Bio Crémant was given the thumbs up! 

Still a few days of festivities to go, and we're both coping OK. I probably sound like an old Scrooge, but I'm rather looking forward to the quieter beginning of January.

It was a truly beautiful day here yesterday. Sunshine from morning to night, with a temperature around 12C. T Shirt weather. But for us, the best bit was having Wills's lovely family with us.

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Happy Christmas.

Our own Yule Log has burned all night, and is now no more than ashes (sigh!).

I wish you all a very happy Christmas. Cro xx

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Yule Log 2019.

As I say each Christmas, a Yule Log must find YOU; not you find the log.

Throughout the year certain bits of feral wood make their presence known to you, by making themselves 'obvious'. This year I have noticed several, and it was a difficult choice bringing just one home; but the choice had to be made. It's not as big as I'd imagined when still half covered with leaves (actually it's chunkier than it looks); but 'size isn't everything'. It's a nice dense lump of Oak.

Tradition says that the log must be placed on the fire on Christmas Eve, and if the following morning it is burnt through to ash, it's a sign of good luck for the following year; so do make sure your log is DRY.

I brought my 2019 log home some weeks ago (above), and it's now been sitting behind the woodburner for a month, to make sure it really dried out well.

I've already dressed it in Ribbon, Holly, and Ivy, and tonight, with a toast of Whisky and Cake, it will be placed on the fire before we retire.

Extra Whisky and Cake will also be left out for Santa; not to do so would be unthinkable!

Enjoy your Christmas Eve.

Monday 23 December 2019

A Canine Christmas.

In my opinion, most reasonable sized dogs would prefer to sleep in a box of fresh straw in a barn, rather than in a dogzy-wogzy fur lined, tinsel covered, plastic bed, with paw prints all over the wretched thing.

                                Résultat de recherche d'images pour "presents for dogs at christmas"

Dogs (or even cats) are not really interested in Christmas, and they don't understand why their humans dress them in silly red suits. They don't want flashing red bow ties, nor do they want mince pie flavoured bone-shaped biscuits, or Christmas McDoggets. What they really want, is for it to be like any other day.... dogs like routine.

Popular presents this year are velcro fastened fluffy Lion Mane collars, Reindeer antlers (yes, we had one for Monty), squeezy rubber beef burgers, Dugg Boots, and the ever popular dog bowls with Bonzo or Rover written all over them.

Of course all dogs want their slice of Turkey or Tofurkey (for veggie dogs), and they never say no to a Parson's Nose, but otherwise they like Christmas day to be just like any other!

"Now, come here Billy.... and pull this cracker!"

Sunday 22 December 2019


I don't think I would ever go as far as saying that I enjoy Winter, but I'm slowly beginning to see some of its advantages. (The above picture was taken a couple of years ago)

Our little home is very 'cosy'; being inside it is rather like being given one huge hug. It is built of honey-coloured stone, and is about 300 years old.

In Winter, and especially approaching Christmas, the cottage really comes alive. The tree comes indoors, and, with help from the children, it is covered with some very old, and a few new, baubles, etc. The ancient beams are hung with gaudy sparkly garlands, and even more giant baubles.


At a certain age I think we all become reflective (for obvious reasons), occasionally I sit here alone (if Lady M is baby sitting up at the barn), and I stare quietly into the fire. I love to sit by candlelight with a black-n-white dog snoozing at my feet (above is another earlier photo with Bok). The silence and the feeling of 'emotional warmth' is all embracing. I'm a naturally quiet person, and I enjoy my solitude; time to sit back, be grateful for our blessings, and contemplate what a wonderful time we've had since moving South of the channel.

Sadly, in recent years, we have encountered one or two whose behaviour has been less than exemplary, and we've had to cut them loose; but generally our lives for the past 47 years have been uneventful and wonderful. Unfortunately bad neighbours exist everywhere, and one simply has to avoid them; we can't stop people from moving here.

I've only owned about six houses in my life, some big, some small, but where I am at the moment is by far the most pleasant. The uninterrupted view from the front, my garden at Haddock's, and everything that the house now offers, are all that I could have hoped for, and when reflected upon in front of the fire, makes me very happy. It may be the smallest house I've ever owned, and probably the cheapest, but it's by far the nicest.

I've never asked for much, but I do have standards; especially where manners and politeness are concerned. My standards may be very different to those of others, and that's possibly why I keep to myself as much as possible; I can't stand bad behaviour and oafishness. Sitting by my fire with Billy at my feet in this lovely old cottage, and Christmas just a few days away, is (for me) as good as it gets.

Saturday 21 December 2019

Hospital bound.

This illustration is from about 100 years ago, and shows a London Hospital at Christmas, where 'clowns' are entertaining children who are sadly too ill to be at home. 

I've never spent a Christmas in hospital, nor (if I remember correctly) have I ever been ill over Christmas.

So, especially this year, I'm thinking of all those children, the world over, who are ill, injured, or disabled, and are unable to spend Christmas at home with their families.

I do know it's impossible, but, via the airwaves, I send them all my love and very best wishes. xx

Friday 20 December 2019

This year's Fizz.

With so many good alternatives to Champagne around, I now very rarely drink the real thing; I find it overpriced, and the quality often lacking. 

This year I've bought a case of Rebmann Crémant d'Alsace. Only on unpacking it from it's box did I notice that it is a Vin Biologique. It cost just under €6 per bottle.

I presume that no chemicals have been used during its vinification, and no nasties sprayed onto the vines themselves. I also presume that no evil weed killers have been used on the soil. All that makes me reasonably happy.

It's a quality Vin mousseux, not some cheap white wine injected with bubbles. I've just opened a bottle to make sure that it's worthy of our Christmas celebrations, and it merits a very respectable 9/10.

Good sparkling wines are made all over France (and elsewhere), and whilst I always associate Burgundy with red wine, I have also bought a case of this Crémant de Bourgogne from the cellars of the Widow Ambal. Like its cousins in Champagne, it has rested for several years in its bottle, and frankly is no different from an Epernay wine. It was a tad more expensive at about €8. Again I give it 9/10. 

And, just in case we run-out, I picked up a couple of bottles of Wolfberger; another very pleasant Crémant d'Alsace that always goes down well. I can't remember the price of this one, but probably much as the top one.  8/10 for this one.

As you might imagine, all wines are BRUT.

Thursday 19 December 2019

All set.

The Babycham is already on ice, the Sprouts are cooking (they need a good week), and the Turkey Nuggets are defrosting. Uncle Henry has been pissed since Easter, Great Aunt Phoebe has taken to her bed with shingles, the cat has been sick in the kitchen, and the dog has eaten half the Plum Pudding.  

Everything is in place for another rip-roaring Xmas. Sadly Big Jim won't be with us again for the sixth year running; this year he punched the church choirmaster when they came carol singing, and he'll be spending Christmas in prison.

Otherwise, nephew 'Tall-Trevor' has just shown us his new Christmas Tattoo (disgusting), Aunty Pat has wet herself on the sofa, and cousin Andy has phoned to say he's stuck in Torremolinos due 'unknown circumstances' and will spending Christmas with a lady called Flo who runs The New Churchill Bar on the beach.

We're all planning our TV schedules, including the Christmas edition of 'Stenders', Dad's got some rude videos from his mate Bert, Grandma says she doesn't want anything to do with Christmas other than watching The Queen, and I've just spotted Aunty Phil dusting off the packet of Chocolates with the hard toffee centres (that I gave her last year) to give to her sister Judy.

And bloody hell; the wretched tree has fallen over again. I'll kill that bloody cat!

All is normal. Only a week to go; Happy Xmas.


Wednesday 18 December 2019

Christmas is for children.

They all gathered around the tree to attach the baubles and tinsel. There was cheering, fighting, and quite a lot of excited screaming! Billy, of course, joined the fun.

Golly drew the short straw, and became this year's 'fairy'.

Here they are a bit later; waiting for the lights to be turned on..

They've met Santa, they've decorated the tree, and they've helped make Mince Pies and the Christmas Cake. Now, comes the worst bit, waiting 'patiently' for the big day.

Only a week or so to go, and everything, and everyone, is ready (almost). There are plenty of presents under the two trees, lots of Clementines ready for their stockings, and special Christmas pyjamas for that long sleep after too much pudding. Little Mischa (the Cherub) just can't wait.

It's going to be the best Christmas ever.

Tuesday 17 December 2019

Fromage Salat Tradition - Terroirs de gueuletons

One final pre-Christmas trip with our favourite Bons Vivants Arthur and Vincent, as they visit the Cantal region of central France, meet some Cows, and learn all about the making of the delicious 'Salers' cheese.

'Salers' is a mature, farmhouse, version of Cantal cheese; almost as good as a mature Cheddar.

Monday 16 December 2019

Cèpes & bons vivants

Arthur and Vincent go Cèpe hunting, eat some of them raw, make an Ostrich omelet, and, as usual, drink plenty of red wine. Regular life here in the South West (apart from the Ostrich egg).

This will give some indication about why we are all obsessed with Cèpes over here. I don't think you need to be a French speaker to enjoy this.

Sunday 15 December 2019

L'alambic des bons vivants - Terroirs de gueuletons

Here are two typical Périgordians, Arthur and Vincent (les gueuletons), enjoying a day out, distilling alcohol with some rustic locals. The scene is very typical of this area; much more so than all those fairytale Chateaux that one sees.

If you don't speak any French, just turn the sound off; it's just as good 'mute'.

Making Eau de Vie is very simple. In Autumn you fill a plastic drum with plums, apples, and maybe some raspberries (hence the red colour), then a few months later you take it to someone who has an illicit still (such as the one in the video), and he will distill the resulting liquid for you. The end result is LETHAL.

I have two bottles of Eau de Vie in the house; one is Plum and the other Pear. They have sat untouched for years!

The downfall of 'Labour'.

Hardly in the history of British politics has Labour been given such a drubbing at the polls.

Not since Michael Foot's 'Longest suicide note in history' party manifesto, have the extreme left made themselves so unpopular.

The fault lies with just a few men. Jon Lansman (founder of Momentum), Len McCluskey (leader of the Unite union), John McDonnell (Labour's shadow Chancellor), and of course arch-Marxist himself Jeremy Corbyn (leader of the Labour Party).

Between them, these four men frightened their own staunchly faithful electorate so much, that after a lifetime of dedication to Socialism, most of them voted Tory to save their jobs, the NHS, and the entire economy.

All democracies require a good solid opposition, but Labour has failed. It is now time for them to return to the center-left (much as the Conservatives represent the center-right), and try to regain the trust of the 'working man'.

It'll take time. No knee-jerk election of some popular Blair-Babe, but a well considered, educated, politician, of either sex, who can bring the party back together again.

So, I would like to thank the four mentioned above for ensuring a Conservative victory. If they wish to see their party continue in whatever form, maybe they should in future keep well out of politics, and their mouths tightly closed.

Saturday 14 December 2019

Sandy Powell.

I've just found this video (below).

I worked with Sandy Powell when I was a student. I took a holiday job as an ASM with an 'End-of-the-Pier' show in Worthing. Sandy was the star of the show.

He wasn't an easy man to work with. He was grumpy, often sozzled, and he did whatever he wanted to. Getting him on stage in time was often a nightmare.

On one occasion he was watching some Football game on TV in his dressing room, and simply refused to go on stage. I had to rearrange the running order within seconds; no easy task.

Anyway, here's the old buffer doing some of his classic 'Magic'. His lovely wife Kaye was behind the curtain.

Friday 13 December 2019


I don't usually buy tresses of Garlic, they seem touristy and expensive.

Normally I go for the loose, purple skinned variety that a nice lady sells at our small Saturday market.

However, this time I threw caution to the winds and plumped for the above. Bizarrely, it was kilo for kilo cheaper than the loose bulbs, and the cloves themselves looked beautifully plump.

I recently separated the cloves from an entire bulb, left the outer skins on, and roasted them with a Chicken and some spuds. Nothing special about that.

They were spectacular; the outer skins came away easily, and the big fat interior Garlic cloves popped out perfectly, and were absolutely delicious. I don't know what variety they are, but they are quite different to my usual ones.

Not a lot gets cooked around here without Garlic, so we use quite a lot. I shall definitely be buying these again.

They also keep Witches and Socialism away!

Thursday 12 December 2019

Happy Birthday Billy.


December 12th, and Billy is ONE year old today.

He arrived as a tiny bundle of fun, and has grown into a bigger bundle of fun. His fur is now thick and luscious, and he has all the attributes of a pukka Border Collie. All he lacks are the Sheep.

It's been a busy first year for him. He's eaten Lady M's cakes, slippers, and his own bedding; he's been kicked and had stones thrown at him. He's made a great new girlfriend 'Amie'. He's also punctured several balls, lost even more, and chewed a huge hole in a carpet...... A normal pup.

Recently he came across a very young Deer who was eating apples behind our pool's Pump House. They looked each other in the eyes, then went off to play together in the large field beyond. It was quite a sight. I imagined that like in some Disney film, the Deer would return daily and they would eventually become great friends, but no such luck. I was expecting too much, but their temporary antics will remain one of my best memories of his first year.

The children adore him, and little Mischa orders him around with great authority. They get on so well. He's a very typical Border Collie, and enjoys being told what to do!

Also during the last 12 months, he's had the 'snip', and been declared 100% fit.

So, it looks as if he's here to stay. There'll be some Beef for lunch today, followed by a long walk this afternoon. I hope he's happy with us; at least it's better than being with some of the nasty people around here.

Here he is playing with little Mischa yesterday.


Wednesday 11 December 2019

Chef Boo Boo.

They'd told me they were making this year's Christmas Cake, but they changed their minds.

Instead they made a Chocolate Cake, which Boo Boo thought was a much better idea, as he could have some with his Tea.

He's no fool our Boo Boo.

As all good chefs know, tasting is an important part of the process.

And when it was ready, the cake disappeared; Boo Boo took it home, and only left one tiny slice for me!

I shall be having words with him. (I believe The Christmas Cake will be made later today)

Tuesday 10 December 2019

'Our Lowest Ever Prices'

I've noticed recently that several UK supermarkets are trying to attract Christmas shoppers by advertising 'Lowest ever prices'. I heard one (I think it was the Co-op) offering 1 lb of Sausages and a bag of frozen chips for £2.50.

To me this spells cheap food, rubbish food, food you really wouldn't want to eat. This is not celebratory fare. A tube of 'mechanically recovered meat' mixed with powdered skin and breadcrumbs, plus plenty of E numbers, isn't my idea of a sausage; and Potatoes cost nothing..

Am I alone in wanting quality over price? If they were offering the finest quality, at the correct price, I might be tempted (actually I wouldn't), but simply trying to attract the poorest in society by offering everything 'cheap' seems thoroughly wrong.

My own supermarket occasionally offers fruit and vegetables at 'Cost Price', but even then I only buy if it's already on my list; I'm never tempted by price alone.

Christmas should not be about spending lots of money, nor should it be about buying cheap rubbish. In my opinion it should be about families, and enjoying being together. The exchanging of small gifts and the enjoyment of special foods should not be at the expense of either quality or debt.

Have nothing to do with 'Lowest ever prices', they mean that farmers are probably being swindled, and the public are being fed trash.

Monday 9 December 2019

Freemasonry? No thanks!

I've never had any desire to become a Rotarian or a Freemason, but I have unwittingly mixed in both circles.

During my brief stay in Shropshire in the early 80's, I was invited to Rotary Club, and Masonic, events on quite a regular basis. I was even asked to speak at a Rotary Club dinner.

I was once told by a senior Mason that people are never invited to become members; they have to 'make approaches' to an existing member. I have no idea if this is still correct, but I definitely felt as if I was being 'head-hunted'. 

'Quasi-secret-societies' such as the Masons, Buffaloes, Rotarians, Druids, etc, have been around since time began. At my old school we had 'The Confessors Club' a Masonic style secret society named after old-boy Edward (I was not a member), and centuries later, alumni at 'Windsor Grammer' created their own version called 'Pop'; personified by the wearing of garish waistcoats (above). Such societies are not uncommon. In the USA I believe they all have various Greek letters as names, and indulge in bizarre initiation ceremonies.

These clubs are invariably male; women being far too sensible for such nonsense.

I wrote recently about being a member of the ICA, but I was also once a member of a political club; mostly for their cheap beer and the use of a very good Snooker room. Otherwise such focused clubs have never interested me. I suppose I'm simply not a club person. 

p.s. Please tell me I'm wrong, but isn't that 'Pop' member above (on left) wearing patched trousers? Surely not!  

Sunday 8 December 2019

Rat's Teeth.

Lady Magnon managed to find these whilst out walking with Billy yesterday. She said they were half-hidden beneath moss.

They are Hedgehog Mushrooms; known here in France as Dents de Rat, Pied de Mouton, or Langue de Chat/Vache, and here in Périgord as Barbissou.

They are very distinctive with the underside having tiny teeth-like 'stalactites' instead of gills or pores.

Fried with butter garlic and parsley, they go with almost anything. If cooked with Chicken they take on its flavour giving the impression of having twice the amount of Chicken. They're a good 'all-purpose' mushroom.

They are one of Lady M's favourites... I still haven't found any myself this year, and, of course, she keeps reminding me of the fact!

We ate the above last night with some Pork chops and baked potatoes; delicious.

Saturday 7 December 2019

Posh, or what!

Look; this isn't a joke, really it isn't, I'm not making this up, I promise! This is absolutely true.

You might have heard of Victoria Beckham, wife of ex-footballer David Beckham, sometimes known as Posh Spice on account of her having been part of a girl band.

Well, some time back she started a clothes shop at 36 Dover Street, just off Piccadilly. Unfortunately it's not doing too well, and loses lots of money.

However, fashionistas now have the chance (you'd have to be quick) to buy this simple black SECONDHAND tee-shirt (in good condition) designed by Victoria herself, for only €400; a reduction of 33% from its original price of €600. An absolute bloody bargain.

If my wardrobe wasn't already overrun with black tee-shirts I'd have bought it myself!

Friday 6 December 2019

Turner Prize 2019.

Frankly I think they might as well cancel the whole ridiculous Turner Prize farce, once and for all..

This years finalists, Helen Cammock, Oscar Murillo, Tai Shani, and Lawrence Abu Hamdan, decided to make a political statement (whilst holding a 'Tories Out' sign), and asked the Turner Prize committee to award them all a joint prize, in some protest about the government. For some bizarre reason the committee capitulated, and they now all share the prize.

I have never heard of contestants in any competition actually telling the judges to whom they should award their prize.

As for the work itself, above is Helen Cammock's offering (The Long Note). The other three were almost as hapless. 

Above is my own version of Ms Cammock's oeuvre (The Longer Note). Prizeworthy?

So, I am advising the committee to give up now, before you make even bigger fools of yourselves in 2020. The Turner Prize has run its course.

Good riddance!

Thursday 5 December 2019

Who to vote for (UK General Election 2019).

One week to go, and rather than blindly believing electoral hype (party manifestos), it is always far better to look at previous performance. 

What have the different parties done in the past? 
How have they left the economy after a period in office? 
How did they perform on unemployment?
How many of their electoral promises were fulfilled?

On this basis, one can eliminate The Greens, The Brexit party, Independents, Ukip, etc, as they can promise whatever they like in the knowledge that their promises will never be challenged, and therefore mean nothing. 

The only parties to be taken at all seriously are The Tories, The Socialists, and The Libs.

Let's start with the weakest. The Libs are homely and cute, they are the party you'd want to run a small village WI, or your local Post Office; their policies are that of a Parish Council. However, they are the sole party firmly committed to 'Remain' in the EU, and that will attract tactical voters from both the Tories and Socialists. They like to attract youthful voters by offering free University education (rather like Corbyn). Their party leader 'Jo' is a busy Mum with two young children and may appeal to those of a similar ilk.

Who votes Lib? Those who like to be seen as young, trendy, and adventurous. They are all members of their local 'Ramblers Association', and ride bikes to work.

Next come The Socialists. This lot spells serious DANGER. The Jewish Chronicle, Blunkett, Lummers, Blair, the Chief Rabbi, and even many of their present MP's, have declared Comrade Corbyn to be totally unfit for office. Vote Socialist and you vote for strikes, increased unemployment, increased taxes for the poor, and business closures. The Left are in the pay of the powerful Unions, and when McCluskey says jump, they jump. Never in their long and glorious history have the Socialists ever left power with either increased employment, or a better economy. It has always been thus, but their supporters couldn't give a fig. It has been estimated that Corbyn's election promises would cost £1.2 Trillion; that's £43,000 for every man woman and child in the UK (this may now have increased). Gargantuan irresponsibility on an unparalleled scale; not to mention McDonnell's recent promise of FREE fast fibre broadband for every home and business in the UK, costing an estimated further £100 Billion. I believe this could put 600 non-BT 'internet providers' (and all their employees) out of business. The loss of 'private initiative' jobs would be massive. Think 'Winter of Discontent', but much worse!

Who votes Socialist? Those who want something for nothing (obviously). They like to make placards, wear hoodies and masks, and throw bricks at anything that represents authority.

Lastly The Tories. They are generally regarded as the 'safe pair of hands' of British politics. We may not like their austere Good Housekeeping policies, but in the long term the whole country benefits from their prudent handling of the economy (as at present). It's true that they've made a total Pig's arse of Brexit, but they are not alone in that! If you want increased employment figures, and a strong economy; you are obliged to vote Tory. Having previously been considered an ogre, it seems as if Boris is once again in favour.

Who votes Tory? People with traditional values who live outside of London, in the countryside. The women wear headscarves, and the men wear tweed. 

Who to vote for if you want.....

Brexit......... Tories.
Don't know. Socialists.
Remain....... Libs.

N B. Whilst we're in flesh-pressing, and baby-kissing, mode, wouldn't it be good to see a new law which insists on EVERYTHING contained in a party's manifesto being legally binding if elected, and any failures to enact policies within their term in office would be an imprisonable offence. Only that way will we begin to inject some credibility into electioneering.

p.s. Just for the record, my prediction is this. There will be a hung parliament, the Tories will do a deal with the Lib's, on condition that another referendum will be held. The people will then vote to 'remain' in the EU, I will have won €5, and Boris will continue as PM... I may be 100% wrong; we'll see.

Wednesday 4 December 2019


Picasso must be the most famous 20th C painter; his 'blue period' paintings such as 'Femme nue II' and 'Boy with pipe', are amongst the world's most popular cheap reproductions. 

Like him, or loathe him, there is hardly a single person in the western world who hasn't heard his name. 

The photo above was taken in 1964, and the works that surround him are typical of that time. I went to an exhibition of his 'current works' at the ICA a few years later; the works above might well have been included in the show.

What I saw was an exhibition of slap-dash work, on very badly stretched canvases, that looked to me as if he was simply filling his coffers on the backs of a gullible public who were willing to pay a king's ransom for one of his inferior works. The whole gallery smelt of fresh oil paint.

There is no question that he was a ground-breaking painter, and his reputation is well deserved, but there came a time when he was producing nothing more than pot-boilers, and no longer 'agonised' about what he was doing.

It might have been better had he stopped working back in the 60's.

Tuesday 3 December 2019


This photo taken in 1910 shows how the Parisian rubbish collectors disposed of their rubbish; it was tipped directly into the Seine. Luckily such activities no longer happen, and the Seine is once again clean.

Our new system of rubbish collection is due to start in January 2021, and we have recently been made to fill in pointless forms, telling the authorities all about ourselves, our habits, hat size, etc. In future, disposing of all those bits of plastic, kindly given to us by the supermarkets etc, will cost us dearly.

Luckily we have very little rubbish. We burn most of the paper, we compost our vegetable waste, and any tins bottles etc go to recycling.

However, we'll still have to pay for the new service regardless of how often we use it. It's not a fortune, but it was previously added to our annual 'rates', and we took it for granted. In future we will receive a separate charge; about €180 in all, per annum.

The old system seemed perfectly good to me, but there's nothing that bureaucrats love more than changing things!

Monday 2 December 2019


Look, these are nice boys OK? They all go to their local Mosque every week, they read their Korans, and they work hard to try to integrate into life in their adopted country.

Sadly they did all plot to kill people, but they didn't mean to actually carry it out. No, they were doing it for research purposes only, so they could warn others about the dangers of crime.

Unfortunately the stupid legal system saw things differently and sentenced them to prison. 

Whilst inside they killed no-one, nor did they plot to destroy any London buildings. In fact they were perfect inmates, and really deserved to be let out much earlier than expected; especially after promising to be very good boys in future. Their causes were rightly championed by some important 'prison reform' Labour MP's.

So, along with another 200 or so like-minded thinkers, they are now all happily back at home with their families (except for a couple who still had important projects to finish), and are all following their hobbies like knitting, pottery, cake-baking, and weaving; I hear that one is even about to establish a rescue centre for kittens. They are once again perfect citizens, and if any racist killjoy says anything different; don't take any notice.

To serve a quarter of one's sentence is plenty; in fact I would suggest far less. They are all now reformed characters..... I know because they told us so.

Mr Corbyn agrees with me. He said recently "Letting them free is the correct thing to do if they have been rehabilitated (which of course they have), but they must serve some of their sentence".

I mean; you can tell they're nice boys just by looking at them.

p.s. It must be said that Usman Khan (the nasty bastard missing from the above photos) must have forgotten that (in Corbyn's words) he had been 'rehabilitated'.


For such a quiet and heavily wooded area, we have surprisingly few interesting birds.

At this time of year I start to fill our bird-feeders with mixed seeds, and am usually disappointed to see that 99% of the takers are Great Tits, with just a few Blue Tits, a couple of Robins, and a handful of Sparrows joining in. All very bog-standard.

However we do have a few interesting visitors. Black Caps (above) always turn-up, a family of Doves cautiously watch affairs from a safe distance, and Nuthatches regularly scamper up and down the Quince tree where our feeder hangs.

In Summer we often hear Hoopoes calling (but tend not to see them), we have a regular visit from a Hen Harrier, and to witness the migrating Cranes is always a delight.

Recently we have been 'invaded' by Egrets who peck around beneath the foraging cattle. The skies are always dotted with Buzzards, and several groups (maybe the same group) of Red Kites have been spotted circling above the house.

I love to see plenty of birds about, and to hear the Blackbirds singing in early Spring is one of the year's true avian pleasures. Serious birdwatchers might find our area a bit dull, but if quantity is anything to go by, we are blessed.

Sunday 1 December 2019

Wine Gums.

NB. When I say 'Wine Gums', I mean 'MAYNARDS Wine Gums'; nothing else is worthy of the name.

There was a time when I was totally addicted to Wine Gums. I could eat 1 lb a day, easily. I had to hold myself back.

When I was working on the London Stock Exchange, there was an inter-firm Wine Gum tasting competition, and I represented my firm (Sheppards & Co). The idea was this; after a few pints at a favourite hostelry in Throgmorton Street, each firm's representative would be blindfolded in turn, and asked to identify the flavour of several Wine Gums. Usually about 5.

I don't really remember if anyone actually won or lost, but I did consider myself to be a champion of sorts. My main rival was an old school friend (fellow blue-button NL; who worked for Panmure Gordon & Co) and we locked horns on a regular basis; there was company pride involved. The main purpose of these evenings was the drinking of beer to celebrate the end of the working day; not the eating of Wine Gums.

I don't eat too many Wine Gums these days as they're not sold here, but if any member of the family really wants to be in my 'good books', then a pack of Maynards at Christmas always does the job.

On the question of sweets, I do very occasionally buy myself a packet of 'fizzy' Haribo Coke bottles, or even some Licorice wheels; but I have to do so in secret, otherwise Lady M would get the rolling pin out!

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