Being neither 'mad', nor an Englishman, he stays indoors during the extreme midday sun.
We have established that he doesn't like the heat. He finds a nice spot somewhere on an ancient stone slab, and sleeps until it's cooler.
He loves the early mornings, and equally the cooler evenings, but in between times he's been settling down to snooze in front of Wimbledon or The Tour until things calm down a bit. I really ought to do the same.
On yesterday morning's early walk he saw a baby Fox and a Deer. I'm pleased to say that he did half-heartedly chase the Deer, but soon gave up.
Of course, like all dogs, Billy has his very favourite toy; and for the Summer it's an old towel that we used on his bed. As bedding he didn't think much of it, but as a toy he'll play with it for hours; dragging it around the garden.
I have just heard the appalling news that one of my favourite Brighton Boozers is about to close. The Battle of Trafalgar is one of about three Pubs near to our home that we frequented.
So, Boris, if you should become Britain's next PM, forget about all this bloody Brexit, and USA diplomacy, nonsense, and face-up to far more serious matters.
I am, of course talking about the disastrous closure of so many Pubs. I believe that between 12 and 20 Pubs are closing every week. This is a disaster for the UK, as the Pub is the very foundation of good community life; whether it be in central London, or the tiniest hamlet in darkest Shropshire.
Tax on Beer needs to be seriously reduced. A pint of bitter should never cost more than £1.
Business Rates should also be drastically cut for Public Houses. I recently heard a Publican saying that his rates were around £120,000 pa; THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS! How on earth can we expect our Pubs to stay open if they're having to pay such crazy sums.
Make this a priority policy, and the Tories may even get re-elected. Fail to act; and you'd stand no chance!
Following the unfortunate hacking of Sir Kim's mail, and the subsequent publishing of his thoughts, we were recently discussing how very quaint and old fashioned the British diplomatic service can be, and I remembered that somewhere I had the perfect example.
We've all heard the expression 'Diplomatic Bag', well, if you've never seen one, this is one above.
When a diplomat wishes to take top secret papers from his country of posting, back to the FO in Whitehall, he takes them in a simple canvas bag with a drawstring. No fancy lock and chain, no 'this package will self destruct, etc, no obligatory Aston Martin to avoid thieving enemy spies. Just an open canvas bag in which anything can be carried. A Diplomatic Bag is considered 'territory' of its Embassy, and cannot be violated.
The one above was used by my late Father-in-Law when in both Moscow and Washington. One can only imagine what dastardly secrets (or objects?) it contained! Hmmmm.
Guests love to see all the sights; I don't do 'tourism'. They love to lie by the pool; we never do that. They want to visit as many good restaurants as possible; yes, we do enjoy that, but my purse takes a battering.
Guests like to take life easy, to get up late, swim, eat breakfast at 11 am, swim, lunch at 4 pm, swim, dine at midnight, before a final floodlit swim, and bed.
In between times, we eat snails, and other delicacies,
whilst enjoying evenings out at our village Marché des Producteurs.
Then occasionally we find little gems that they leave behind, to say goodbye.
After all this I'm exhausted. I need to do nothing for a week (at least).
I haven't bothered growing my own Beetroot for several years, preferring to buy them vacuum packed, ready prepared, in threes; and for next to nothing.
I can't imagine that there's a great deal of difference between home and farm produced. Both are grown outdoors, both are prepared in much the same way, and both taste very similar; I really wouldn't know the difference in a blind taste test.
However, this year I did put in a row at Haddock's, and they have done very well. I harvested the first few yesterday.
I love the earthy flavour of Beetroot, I believe they're very good for you too; most red things are!
The next time I prepare some, I'll do twice the amount. It goes so quickly.
This photo was taken at 6.15 am on Tuesday morning, and I became quite excited.
For a while it looked promising. The sky became dark, there were one or two flashes of lightning, and the occasional sound of very distant thunder.
There was even the hint of a rainbow. Then at 8 am it began; just a few drops, then a few more. I became even more excited.
At 8.15 am there was proper thunder, and it looked as if we might, at last, have some serious rain. Then by 8.30 am it stopped, and we were left with just wet outdoor seats and not much else. The sky cleared, the sunshine reappeared, and it was business as usual.
At about 8 pm (mid-supper) it rained again for about 10 mins; luckily after the BBQ was finished with..
They'd promised it would rain all day, but of course it didn't. Haddock's was bone dry again the following morning.
I'll give you a clue; it's NOT a Ping Pong ball (it's smaller), or anything to do with sport.
I'll give you another clue (below).
Answer: It's the 'widget' from inside a can of Draught Guinness.
During the canning process, liquid Nitrogen is added to the beer, which, when the can is closed, vaporises and expands, and fills this small widget through a tiny hole. When the can is opened the pressure drops and this gas escapes, forming the creamy head of a classic draught Guinness. Pure genius.
So, there you are. If you already knew all this, then count yourself a brain-box. If you didn't, you can thank me for littering your head with yet another bit of totally useless information.
I've fired plenty of different sporting guns, but as part of my CCF and Officer Training courses, I was also invited to fire a variety of military weapons. Amongst others was the standard Lee Enfield .303 rifle with a kick like a horse, the Bren Gun that you fired lying down (very unpleasant), and the simple Stirling Machine Gun, which was almost toy-like.
The Stirling was by far my favourite. It sprayed bullets at quite a rate, of which about one in thirty was roughly on target. I believe the gun itself cost about 12/6d to make.
If I'd ever had to lead men into battle, it's certainly the weapon I'd have chosen. It gave a feeling that one was 'clearing a path'.
Those target men 'going down like ninepins' (at the end of the video) must have been faked. With a Sterling it would have been impossible.
With the crazy daytime temperatures we're experiencing, it's best to try to get things done as early as possible. This gives time to sleep in front of tedious Wimbledon matches in the afternoons.
Early morning temperatures are around 20 C, so it's perfect for working, dog walking, and even just breathing.
Billy and I set off at 6.30 am yesterday morning, and we encountered just one other equally sensible early morning dog walker. I imagine he was Dutch; he was about 8ft tall, and offered a "lovely weather for it" comment as we passed each other. Billy said hello to his small energetic dog, and we continued in opposite directions.
There was a slight breeze, the sky was still slightly hazy, and the Clover flowers, in front of the cottage, looked beautiful.
We saw a Hare, and two Deer, but Billy has yet to show any interest in chasing either.
I planted a few more winter greens, watered everything that looked thirsty, and despaired at my sick, and unproductive, Tomato plants. I'm now off to do a little mowing, before I have a quick swim; then lunch.
pm: More swimming (water 29 C), watched a bit of the Tour's first day.
p.s. I also managed to fit-in a flying visit to market in the early morning. I asked one stall holder if her Tomatoes were grown 'outdoors'. She said that they will be in about two weeks time, so if mine completely fail, I'll have a good alternative source.
About 45 years ago (at this time of year) we experienced one of the worst night time storms that I've ever known.
Thunder was set to Mark 11, there were about 50 flashes of lightning per second, and the rain fell in fist-sized lumps. Add 300 kph winds; and you'll get a rough idea.
Lady Magnon and I were clinging onto the bed-head, desperately hoping it would soon pass; the children were fast asleep.
At about 2 am, when the storm was at its worst, I suddenly heard the church bells start to ring. In those days they were still rung by hand, so this wasn't an electrical fault. It sounded to me like someone was calling for help.
I pulled on some clothes, ran to my old blue 2CV, and drove hot-tyre the 2 kms up to the church. I parked as close as I could to the open entry door.
Inside, tugging at a long rope, I found an elderly villager, cigarette in mouth, happily playing his one note tune.
I asked him what was the problem. 'Nothing' he replied; and explained that the sound of bells disperses any hail that might be around. He was thinking of his vines (probably having read Chevallier's 'Clochemerle').
So, with no maiden in distress, child down a well, or injuries caused by lightning, I returned home cold and sodden. Superstition had won the day, and I had learned a little more about what curiosities to expect from my new dinky little village.
Most activities have their ups and downs, and Fruit and Veg' growing is no exception.
At the very beginning of the season, all looked well; and a bumper crop seemed inevitable. However, things can change very quickly depending on weather, etc.
One of the crops to which I was really looking forward was my recently planted Black Hamburg grape; it was covered in wonderful flowering tresses, that have now turned into shriveled musty twigs. Only a few bunches have grapes on them, all the others have suffered from some nasty disease. Frankly, I'm pissed off. All my other rubbish grapes are fine.
Over the past two years my maincrop Tomatoes have died-off prematurely, and I've already noticed my current crop of plants are showing signs of disease; the lower leaves are beginning to curl and turn yellow. I took extra care of my plants this year, giving them a dose of copper sulphate and a really thick mulch of organic compost. I'm suspecting that the disease is well entrenched in the soil.
The major problem is with my large salad Tomatoes. I planted a variety simply called 'Beefsteak'. My other varieties, 'Roma', and various Cherry Toms, are all looking OK, and seem disease resistant. The 'Portuguese' variety that I planted in pots, up at the barn, are also looking OK.
Otherwise, half my Mangetout Peas died early, my Broad Beans were nowhere near as productive as I'd hoped, and my two Butternuts are refusing to grow. My French Beans are very slow.
On the plus side my Courgettes are really producing well, the Aubergines are looking spectacular, and all my leafy 'greens' are looking very luxurient. My Pepper plants remain small, but are covered in flowers and a few early fruits. The Beetroot plants are looking healthy, but I have yet to dig any. Red Onions are ready to harvest. Tayberries have been going crazy; I've made jam every day for the past week or more.
In the orchard, many small peaches have dropped from their trees, as have many Pears. The Apples are looking very good, and we have plenty of Plums and Greengages. My Yellow Cherry is almost ready, and I have placed the ladder against the tree in anticipation.
I suppose it's the same every year, but one forgets.
Golf is a game where before you hit the ball you know exactly where it's going; once hit it has a mind of its own. Veg' gardening is quite similar. When you plant, or sow, you instantly imagine healthy highly productive plants, but in reality they often fail. The successes are uplifting; the failures depressing.
Since growing Tayberries, I've become quite a keen amateur jam maker. I'm not interested in making other jams; just Tayberry (I know how to do it, and it's easy). Fruit, jam sugar, lemon juice.
The lot I've just made, from the above, was 800 gms fruit, 600 gms sugar, and the juice of about half a lemon.
It also reminds me of my mother, who, without fail, used to make our annual supply of Raspberry jam. My favourite bit was eating the removed 'scum' on thick slices of bread and butter; probably a memory mutual to most children brought up in the country.
Tayberries have a short growing season, maybe two weeks; and produce so much fruit daily that one needs to process them regularly. I've already made about 12 jars, and will probably make just a few more. You might notice (above) that I've made just one jar of Blackcurrant jelly.
And finally let me assure you that this jam is absolutely bloody delicious.
When we first moved to our village, one of the regular summer entertainments was a travelling show which pitted teams of young men from local villages to a variety of 'Bullfighting Games' known as Courses Landaises.
No Bulls were injured during the games, but plenty of foolhardy young men were tossed about, and bruised a bit.
Mostly the games involved grabbing a rosette from a Bull's horn, attempting to leap over the Bull as he charged at you, or twisting sideways just in time to avoid being trampled.
These games died a natural death, and haven't been played for over 30 years or more. I only went once; it was extremely hot, and, frankly, rather boring.
Below gives a rough idea of what it was all about, although I don't remember the Bull being attached to any rope.
I had a friend from Prep' School who turned-up on Blue Peter showing off a pet black Panther that he kept in his Chelsea flat. I never heard what became of either my friend or his Panther; I like to think that Belloc could have written a sympathetic Cautionary Tale about them.
There has been much wringing of hands in the press recently about the cost of renovating the rather unattractive Frogmore Cottage (£2.4 Million), the new home of Harry and Meghan; which is owned by The Queen's 'Crown Estate'. The Republicans were eager to jump on the guillotine bandwagon, and denounce the whole Royal Family as being a huge drain on national funds.
If Her Majesty is spending money on renovations to Frogmore Cottage, she is only doing so in order to keep her own property in good order.
As I understand it, The Royals have two main areas of income. The Queen's 'Crown Estate', and Charles's 'Duchy of Cornwall'. The Queen graciously hands over the entire income from her personal Estate to the Government, and receives a small percentage back (25%) for expenses, and Charles pays normal Taxes on his income from The Duchy.
The Crown Estate currently produces an annual income of approx £304 Million, with The Queen receiving up to £80 Million in return, in what is known as the 'Sovereign Grant'. A pretty good deal for the National Purse.
The Duchy of Cornwall produces an annual income for Prince Charles of around £21 Million, on which he 'voluntarily' pays income Tax of 50%. There are plenty of Footballers about, who earn the same, if not more than Charles.
Personally I couldn't care less how much they earn, as long as they are able to afford all the 'Pomp and Ceremony' that the country demands of them; and that doesn't come cheaply!
The Chestnuts are in full flower. There is an all invading aroma in the air; you can't mistake it.
The local Beekeepers have brought in their hives by the dozen, firstly to pollinate the Chestnuts, then later the Sunflowers.
Bees need water, so they make directly for the nearest supply; OUR POOL!
I'm on reasonably good terms with Bees, but we do get quite a lot of them. I lift them out of the water on my hand, when they accidently fall in. They haven't stung me yet.... well maybe only once or twice.
Devastate: Verb. 1.To destroy or ruin. 2. To cause (someone) severe and overwhelming shock or grief.
These bloody people make me sick.
Two charming female anarchists, who presumably consider themselves 'lower class' (as they are promoting something called 'Class War'), demonstrating outside Boris and his girlfriend's flat in London. They also plaster the road with nasty posters about him, and shout unpleasant expletives every time they enter or leave.
If they really do wish to 'devastate' the Avenues of the wealthy, why are they only demonstrating outside just one specific house? Other homes in the 'Avenue' probably contain just as much 'wealth'.
This, unfortunately, is how certain people behave today. They wish to bring everything down to a 'lowest common denominator'.Just imagine the rumpus there'd be if a group of Tories lead a similar protest outside Corbyn's house.
And just imagine the rumpus there'd be if the two above, or the three below, held their puerile banners outside homes in The People's Republic of Islington or Notting Hill, or outside the huge homes of wealthy Labour supporters, such as Lord Bamford (JCB), Lord Ashcroft, JK Rowling, or Bernie Ecclestone. Being told by these charming folk that they have found new homes for them in the cemetery, wouldn't go down too well.
I have nothing against those who vote blue, red, pink or green, or how rich they are; but this sort of misguided behaviour from any quarter is totally UNACCEPTABLE.
To threaten people simply because they've worked hard and become successful, is so typical of the angry, chip-on-shoulder, left.
I wonder what they consider 'wealthy' these days? Presumably, anyone who has more than they do!
p.s. The 'Lucy Parsons' to whom the top quote is attributed also famously wrote "Let every dirty, lousy tramp arm himself with a revolver or knife, and lay in wait on the steps of the palaces of the rich and stab or shoot the owners as they come out. Let us kill them without mercy, and let it be a war of extermination".
What a repulsive person; I'm not surprised she's their heroine.
We have plenty of Broad Beans, Mangetout Peas, Globe Artichokes, Courgettes, Beetroot, Spinach, Tayberries, Strawberries, Blackcurrants, and Yellow Cherries.
It's time to start making my Tayberry Jam. I shall buy new lids for my jars, then I'm ready. I really enjoy the process, it's all so quick and easy, and only involves 3 ingredients; Tayberries, Sugar, and Lemon juice.
Just look at those beauties! 5 mins boiling time, and viola! I made just 2 jars from the above. I'll need to do more almost every day. These berries grow like crazy!
Anyone who can speak more than two languages fluently has my admiration. Certain currently newsworthy political folk are impressively multi-lingual.
Boris Johnson is known for speaking Latin fluently, and he also speaks French and Italian. I also believe he SHOUTS in English.
Rory Stewart is probably the most talented. He speaks Dari (a form of Farsi), plus nine other non-specified languages.
Jeremy Hunt speaks Japanese, even though his wife is Chinese.
Corbyn speaks Spanish. Two of his three wives were Spanish speakers; one from Mexico, and one from Chili, so I suppose it was essential. His first one spoke English.
Trump, of course, struggles with just English.
The only language, other than French (and Latin) which I've attempted to learn, was Italian. I would spend hours trying to learn useful phrases, but after about ten minutes they'd evaporate. It was as if my brain refused to absorb them. However, when I learn new words in French; they usually stick without any problem.
I shan't be attempting to learn any other languages.
It looks as if next week we will all die of heatstroke. Next Wednesday Thursday and Friday we are promised temperatures of up to 39 C; far too hot for humans.
We shall, of course, spend our days in the pool holding parasols, drinking copious amounts of cold beer, and filling our hats pockets and shoes with ice cubes. Otherwise we'll stay indoors during daylight (sunlight) hours, and only venture outdoors at night.
If you don't hear from me next weekend, please don't send flowers. Generous donations to the Impoverished Artists Widow's Association (made payable to Lady Magnon) would be very welcome.
Every time I see this bucket (it holds our Badminton rackets etc) I have to chuckle.
I was in Brighton, taking a few boxes of rubbish to a nearby municipal dump. Arriving at the dump, I found a youngish rather 'well-to-do' looking man THROWING stuff from the back of his car, with angry delight. He was obviously in a very bad mood.
His ejectiles included brand new Hockey sticks, women's clothes and shoes, pictures, kitchen kit, radios, ornaments, suit cases, and the above Florist's bucket; amongst a whole lot of other brand new looking possessions.
I casually asked "Are you chucking all this stuff away?"
"Yes I fucking am" he replied, heatedly.
"Would you mind if I took the bucket?" I asked.
"Take whatever you fucking like" he replied, going ever redder by the minute.
I took the bucket, and left without saying any more.
What happened when his poor wife/girlfriend returned home; I can't imagine, but I quite expect a court case followed soon after. It didn't give me any pleasure in her misery, but the bucket has served me well for over 40 years; and she's not having it back!
I haven't posted a picture of my youngest grandson for quite some while; so here he is, the young Mischa.
Almost since he was born, the poor chap suffered with eczema, but it's now pretty well cleared up.
He and his big brother recently found three kittens in their garden, and (of course) they've adopted them. They create havoc, have their tails pulled, and are treated by Boo Boo to daily rides in the pushchair. I have a feeling they'll make Billy's life HELL too, when they visit here.
We can't wait to see them. I haven't met little Mischa yet.
The UK's Andrew Marr Show is essential Sunday morning viewing, and on last Sunday's edition he interviewed Tory PM hopeful, Rory Stewart. Many of you may have seen it.
At one point during the interview Marr 'accused' both Rory and Boris of having been at Eton and Balliol; as if this was something to be ashamed of.
Marr (Loretto and Trinity), who once described himself as a 'raving leftie', seems, like so many Socialists, to have a problem with high achievers, and success; i.e. people like himself.
I find this attitude most odd. If he would really prefer to take any Tom Dick or Harry off a dustcart, and place him in No 10; then say so. Personally I want my Prime Ministers to be as well educated as possible. I want the highest of high achievers.
Boris managed to win a scholarship to Eton, and a scholarship to Balliol; no mean feats! He was also President of the Oxford Union, and later became Mayor of London. In between time he managed to write about a dozen books.
I really do find it bizarre that there are people who would quite happily see a known Marxist and his cronies in No 10, whilst criticising someone of true intellect; but I suppose that's the state of the crazy UK these days. OK, Boris might have made a few 'interesting' observations about Burka wearers and Watermelons, but that's nothing compared to the appalling language that I hear about him, on a daily basis.
N.B.When, in September 2017, I predicted that Rory would one day become Prime Minister, he was still unknown to most people, and even I didn't think things could advance as fast as they have. I don't think his time will come this year; but give him a couple of years.....
Boo Boo's father (my youngest) has decided not to stay in Thailand whilst his villa is being built, and has taken a flat in London's Ladbroke Square, neighbouring Holland Park and Notting Hill.
His reasoning being that he needs to be living in an area where there are good, safe, quality, schools for his two boys. Boo Boo's school in Thailand turned out to be pretty hopeless.
I asked if he knew about the 'infamous' Holland Park School. He didn't.
There are plenty of good schools in central London. St Pauls, Westminster, King's College, etc; but these will cost you about £30,000 pa.
But, there is one excellent school within his catchment area that is very well known for other reasons, and it is literally just down the road from his flat.
Holland Park School (above) is known as the 'Socialist's Eton'. The next best thing to Eton in State education for aspiring Champagne Socialists. Trendy left wing parents throughout London fight for places there.
However, it isn't a foregone conclusion that little Keir, Clement, or Aneurin (or even Boo Boo) who may live next door to the school, will be offered a place. For the 240 places in each years' intake, there are about 1,900 applications.
Provided that my son stays in Ladbroke Square, Boo Boo will certainly be a priority case. But it maybe wise for BB to start reading Das Kapital, so that he can quote Marx at an interview in a few year's time; it could only improve his chances!
It'll be nice to have them all back in Europe again.
As many in the world have recently been remembering the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings, over here we have been remembering other events.
The tiny village of Frayssinet-le-Gelat is where I buy my wonderful bread.
Today it's a very quiet spot, known only for being the birthplace of the man who invented the Jubilee Clip, and the barbaric German wartime slaughter of civilians; to whom we recently paid homage .
The Germans had suspected that the village was the hideout of several resistance fighters, and rather than search for them, decided simply to make an example of the villagers themselves. It was easier, and demonstrated their vile attitude towards basic humanity.
At 5 pm on the 21st May 1944 two divisions of the SS Das Reich, en route for Oradour-sur-Glane (see Wiki), arrived in the village from nearby Villefranche du Périgord. At 6.30 pm they were joined by another division arriving from Fumel.
They assembled everyone in the center of the village, where they proceeded to hang three women, and shoot 11 men. One imagines that they enjoyed watching the women suffer.
So as to not upset the Germans, the monument in memory of those who were murdered was recently changed to say 'Barbarie Nazie' instead of 'Barbarie Allemande', but I prefer to show it as it was originally intended.
The same German troops then moved on to Oradour-sur-Glane, where on the 10th June 1944 they slaughtered 642 villagers. amongst which were 350 women and children; again, all innocent civilians.
The men were all shot in the legs, to make them immobile, then doused with petrol and set alight. One witness discovered a baby that had been 'crucified'.
The Village of Oradour has been left exactly as it was after the atrocities were committed; totally burned-out and ruined.
As it says on the base of the monument 'Souvenez vous';.... we do; and have!
p.s. Today is also the 2nd anniversary of the Grenfell fire, where 72 people died. RIP all.
The difference between an optimist and a pessimist, is that the optimist enjoys himself whilst waiting for the inevitable! I AM that optimist!
This is a daily, optimistic, 'photos and comments' blog. I make no judgements (only occasionally), just notes. If you wish to comment in any way at all, please feel free. Everything and everyone (except the obdurate and dictatorial) is very welcome.
I was born just south of London, but for the past 46 years I've lived in S W France. I am a painter by profession, and writer by desire. Lady Magnon and I live in an ancient cottage, in a tiny village, in perfectly tranquil countryside. We have a vegetable garden called 'Haddock's' (this may crop up from time to time), plenty of fruit trees, and a view that takes the breath away. I try to treat our planet with respect, and encourage others to do likewise (without preaching).
Contentment is a glass of red, a plate of charcuterie, and a slice of good country bread. Perfect!