Tuesday 30 April 2019

Jesús Rafael Soto.

In around 1966, I was managing a small Art Gallery in London's Devonshire Street; twixt Harley Street and Marylebone High Street.

As such, even though we didn't deal in anything much later that 1900, I was invited to almost all the vernissages, at London's major avant garde galleries.

One of the more interesting galleries of the time was the nearby  'Signals' in Wigmore Street; a street better known for its medical supplies shops than for Art Galleries.

Signals was established as a link between artists of Latin America and those of London. London, at that time was the center of all things cultural.

The Signals exhibition that I remember best was that of Jésus Rafael Soto, a kinetic Sculptor/Painter who created stunning work that was impossible to ignore.

Most of his work involved canvases that were painted with thin vertical stripes, with other thin vertical strips of metal loosely suspended in front. Any slight movement of the hanging metal rods created eye-catching movement. At the time these were fascinating, although they must have been difficult to live with. The above is a reasonable example.

Signals' 'Private Views' were always interesting affairs regardless of the work on show. Amongst the wealthy buyers were always well-known faces from TV, famous models, and (for some bizarre reason) a few Nuns. No doubt the great Jesús himself was also there on that occasion, which could explain the presence of the Nuns; his name might have confused them.

Soto was the darling of the kinetic art world back in the mid to late 60's, but I haven't heard of him since. Fame can be very fleeting.

Monday 29 April 2019


Do you like Cider?

When my son Kimbo was here recently, not only did we crack open a few bottles of Canard Duchene, but also some good ole Breton farm cider.

I really do enjoy drinking quality cold cider. On a Summer's day, there is little more refreshing; other, of course, than my own Elderflower Champagne.

France makes a big thing of it's farm produced Cidre Bouché. It is regarded in a similar way to wine, even though there is no Cidre Grand Cru, Chateau Pomme, or great vintages. 

But the French have a right to be proud of their Cider, it's a wonderful drink, not overly alcoholic (5.5%), and follows a tradition that dates back for centuries.

The UK produces FOUR TIMES the amount of Cider than France, but it tends to be sold in big nasty plastic bottles. The main producers make no attempt to market it as a quality drink, and as a result it is held in little regard. I think this is a big mistake.

When we first moved here, local farmers used to pass fresh Cider through their wine vats after the wine had been drawn off. The mixture of the remaining wine, and the Cider, in amongst all the grape detritus made a very acceptable bonus Cider flavoured wine.

I remember, up in Normandy and Brittany, that cider used to be sold in shops without labels. The bottles were corked in the same 'Champagne style' fashion, but the maker wasn't mentioned. I rather liked this, it gave a rusticity that was authentically Breton.

Cider, like Beer, is a quality drink and really should be treated with the respect that it deserves. I love it.

Sunday 28 April 2019

One season ends; another begins.

This is the last of our winter veg'. Time has come to grub-up all the spent Cavolo Nero, PSB, Perpetual Spinach (above), and Curly Kale plants, and dig-in plenty of compost in readiness for this years crops. I now have a two section compost system, so the compost I'm spreading is two years old; much better looking than before.

As usual I'm following my four year rotation, and the section where all my winter leafy vegs have been growing will, this year, be replaced by our summer Peppers, Aubergines, Beans, and a few Butternuts.

My 2018 harvest was generally very good, except for the Tomatoes. They became diseased, and stopped producing much earlier than expected. This has prompted me to plant much later this year, and to follow some slightly different growing methods. We'll see!

I've got all the seeds I need, and the garden shops are filled with plants. It's all 'go' from now on. Let the fun commence.

Saturday 27 April 2019

What a load of rubbish.

This may not be breaking news to you; but it is to me!

Some meddling bloody bureaucrat has come-up with a really bright idea. We shall soon be issued with electronic keys (above), that open our public waste bins, and the amount of 'black bags' we put in will be counted throughout the year, so that an extra tax can be added to our already high local taxes. 

The obvious effect of this will be more fly-tipping. Why place your rubbish in a public waste bin, if you're going to be charged for the pleasure? Far easier just to chuck it to the side of the road (making sure first that you can't be identified). Of course one could simply stockpile all the black bags, open the waste bin just once at the end of the year, then pile them all in.

Big brother really has arrived. You can't do a damned thing these days without either being spied upon, or taxed. It really has become ridiculous. Apart from anything, we are already paying for rubbish collection through our local taxes. Better, I would have thought, to spend a small amount of money on re-educating the public about their rubbish, and to increase fines for ignoring the basic rules.

I get the impression that our lives are no longer under our own control, and that France's massive bureaucracy has taken over. Civil servants rule everything; even our rubbish.

Friday 26 April 2019

School uniforms.

School uniforms were designed not only for institutional recognition, but also for social equalising. When school clothing becomes a fashion parade, I imagine that concentration on classroom work fades.

I've just found the above photo of my own alma mater, a tad before my time; and looking decidedly like something out of 'Goodbye Mr Chips'. I see mortarboards, short jackets, and stiff collars; more like my father's school uniform. These days gowns of various ilks are worn, and in my day we wore boaters; which I rather liked.

Today, the hairy, drinking, smoking, scruffs, that frequent these hallowed college grounds, seem to wear sharp suits or dinner jackets; and with girls now in the mix (since 1970), I imagine fashion definitely plays a part.

The school clothing department of a well-known Knightsbridge shop, from whence our uniforms were purchased, was always an 'interesting' place. I remember lots of dreadful mothers overseeing the purchase of ill fitting jackets for their little Cedrics or Poppets (they were bought to 'grow into'). Time there was best kept to an absolute minimum.

I wonder how much longer rigorously strict school uniforms will last. I suspect not that much.


Thursday 25 April 2019

The world today.

It looks as if the weather has changed for a while. I see that on-and-off rain is forecast into May.

This means two things. The bloody grass will grow and I won't be able to cut it, and I'll be spending a lot more time indoors, which to me means boredom.

However, it also means that we won't be having any frost, and that our fruit crops will be safe. If even a fraction of the blossom develops into fruit, we'll be overwhelmed.... which is how I like it.

Elsewhere in our tiny hamlet, the wild Orchids are mostly in flower, the man building the Stalag Holiday Camp seems to have temporarily abandoned it, and one of my favourite dogs (Bok's girlfriend, Izzy) is having serious epilepsy problems, and is now half blind and sleeps 23 hrs a day. Poor gal.

We now see green everywhere, Pine pollen covers just about everything, and the Cuckoos sing all day long.

I've spread most of the compost at Haddock's, and the Courgette plants will soon go in. I shall hold back from planting-out the Tomatoes, Peppers, Aubergines, etc, until almost mid-May.

On the tedium front; Brexit has returned to haunt us, and yet again we mourn the senseless killing of those whose gods others disapprove.

N.B. PLEASE, if you're going to follow some ridiculous primitive nonsense about gods and devils, do have some respect for those who follow equally ridiculous nonsense under different names. You're all as crazy as each other, so for goodness sake, the least you could do is to shake hands and be friends in your mutual folly.

Wednesday 24 April 2019

Billy, update.

I was just reading that Border Collies don't 'grow up' until they're two years old. I do hope that IS the case, as little Billy keeps us thoroughly amused, and I'd quite like him to stay as the hooligan that he certainly is.

So, how's he doing? Well, the black spots on his pink nose seem to be growing. As in the tradition of Teddy Bears having only one eye, he has one ear bent. And he seems to be as happy standing on his two rear legs, as he is on four.

Otherwise he has a canine 'comb-over' on his back, with his fur all going in one direction. He has a lower jaw that is shorter than 'official'. He eats mountains of Cow 'manure'. And he has boundless energy.

I think that just about sums him up.

Tuesday 23 April 2019

Growth 2019.

The muck's been spread (phaw!), and Jean-Claude's out today with his big yellow Renault Tractor, turning it all brownside-up.

He's already sown his Sunflower crop, and the field above (which is just beyond our pool) will be sown with Maize.

Also in the photo are some of our excellent white grapes, and the flowers on our Bramley. Things are looking good.

At Haddock's, my Mangetout Peas are doing well, the Broad Beans are flourishing, and my Red Onions are about 6 ins up. I also have a row of Beetroot in, which is only just sprouting.

All our fruit trees are awash with blossom, and Boo Boo's birthday Peach tree is literally groaning with tiny Peaches. 

We now need to cross our fingers, pray to St Fiacre, and hope that nothing (frost) impedes our future harvest.

Monday 22 April 2019

Farewell boys.

They're now back in London, but there's been plenty of Croquet, Golf, Go-karting, Bike riding, Billie walking, eating, drinking, laughing, and sunshine.

The boys were also taught how to open Oysters and bottles of Champagne; essential life-skills.

The week went so quickly, but we'll see them again in August, when, no doubt, we'll do it all again. Bye!

Saturday 20 April 2019

Cro; eco-warrior?

I must, firstly, state that I am as concerned as anyone about pollution and 'global warming'. I just don't fly halfway across the world (like Dame Emma) to demonstrate about it; nor do I disturb London's traffic, or leave piles of empty plastic bottles, etc, as a reminder of where I've glued myself to a lamp post.

What I do do, however, is to treat nature with respect, and not as a dustbin. I grow a lot of what we eat in as 'eco' a way as possible. And we keep our throw-away rubbish to a minimum. I buy my wine 'loose', and I stick price labels directly onto whatever I'm buying, rather than use plastic bags.

In other words, I practice what I preach, and I don't pollute or cause chaos in order to demonstrate what a cynical, hypocritical, environmentalist, do-gooder I am. 

It's right that students complain about issues that concern them; students are professional thinkers. But, please, please, do your demonstrating in a park, don't leave the place littered with rubbish, don't park some silly pink boat in Oxford Circus, and please leave the police to do what they are there for; to fight friggin' crime.

If you do otherwise, you'll lose whatever support you might have had.


With a couple of grandsons in the house, they were amusing themselves by looking over some old photos. They particularly liked the one above.

Unfortunately it's the only photo I have of the tiny ruin that I bought back in about 1978. We were living just a couple of hundred metres away in our first farmhouse here, and every time I passed by this tumble-down cottage, I wanted it more and more. My original aim was to make it into a garconniere for my oldest.

In time I made a proposition to the owner, and he accepted.


I think you can just about tell which bit I originally bought from the position of the chimney. Everything else I've either had built, or built myself.

I suppose, to an extent, we're still working on it today. No more major building projects; other than maybe a dedicated BBQ area, although we could easily use a couple more bedrooms and a second sitting room.

If I hadn't bought it, it would have fallen down by now.

Changed a bit; ain't it.

Friday 19 April 2019


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Yesterday I had a terrific sudden urge for 'boil-in-the-bag' Kippers.

When back in the UK, I used to buy these from Waitrose. Two or three Kipper fillets came in a vacuum pack, complete with a small pat of butter, and required immersing in boiling water for about 20 mins. God they were delicious, and I imagine still are!

I'm not sure why I thought about them yesterday. I have seen proper Kippers on sale here, but I've never bought them. Maybe it's about time I did.

Thursday 18 April 2019

Ch de Lacypierre.

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In the UK, they would probably refer to it as a Manor House, but over here, anything bigger than a farmhouse is called a 'Chateau'.

I'm not really a fan of the 'High Renaissance' Chateaux of the Loire valley; I much prefer the rustic beauty of the 15th C Chateau Forts that one finds dotted around this corner of France; such as Lacypierre.

The one above is new to me, and I covet it. It is small enough to be liveable-in, and stunningly beautiful. All its outbuildings are similarly built, respecting every detail (below). 

All the roofs are covered in stone (lauzes)and there isn't a brick or concrete block in sight.
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When I was cutting stone, I worked with a young man who came from such a house. It was a classic Chateau Fort; square with a round tower at each corner. For some reason I stayed overnight there, just with his rustic father and himself.

It was quite an experience seeing the interior of such a magnificent house being lived-in like a peasant cottage; mess everywhere, amongst exquisite stone carving and painted ceilings. A true cold-comfort chateau; a wealthy farmer's fortified home.

Wednesday 17 April 2019

How was your Winter?

I spent a few of the Winter months by myself (Lady M was away in Oz, Thailand, Singapore, etc), and I was extremely happy that the weather was kind to me. Not one single day was I forced to stay indoors.

We had no snow, hardly any sub -0 C frost, very little rain, and nothing that one could really complain about. I think I lit the fire after lunch just twice, but generally I didn't bother until after 4 or 5 pm. On my daily walks, I don't think I ever felt really cold. Indoors, the house stayed quite warm.

I did have an electric blanket, and a Winter duvet on my bed, but it was hardly needed.

Throughout the whole Winter I've not once lit, 'George', our wood fired kitchen cooker; a real sign of the mildness of the season.

With The Ice Saints less than a month away, I'm reasonably confident that the better weather is with us to stay.

I'm holding back from sowing and planting too early this year; I shall wait till May.

Tuesday 16 April 2019

Assange assuaged.

Since running for cover inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, just monitoring him alone has cost £ Millions. Posting a couple of coppers at the embassy's front door doesn't come cheap. All foreign embassies already have state security, so a couple of extra men in uniform probably did nothing special. I do hope Mr Assange will be made to repay that sum.

It's been a very strange affair; 7 years locked away in a foreign embassy in central London. Enough to send anyone crazy.

We have no idea if he's guilty of the alleged rape and sexual misconduct accusations in Sweden, but we do know he's been responsible for giving air to whistleblowers around the world. Exposing political scandal and shenanigans certainly has its place; rape and groping doesn't.

He's an odd character, and, frankly, the sooner he's shipped off to Sweden or the USA the better. He may have friends in Abbott and Corbyn, but that was to be expected. The majority would like to see him face his charges; otherwise we couldn't give a damn.

Monday 15 April 2019

Billy the Umpire.

Whenever Lady M and I play ping-pong, Billy acts as umpire. He is totally fascinated by the game.

Here he is watching over the boys as they play a few games.

Later there were driving lessons on the lawn. 

After a couple of hours driving up and down, Kimbo had had enough, and hid the keys. Below was their response; etched into the Pine pollen!

Tomorrow the boys are cooking supper (Pasta), and we'll have a night-time fire up at Dangerous Fun.

I'm exhausted.

Sunday 14 April 2019

Happiness is....

Even with a half-hour delay on their flight, they still managed to arrive before I was expecting them.

First things first. Say hello to Billy, then go and give a few carrots to the horses.

All is well with the world. We can forget that bloody Brexit for a week, and simply enjoy ourselves.

Saturday 13 April 2019

This can mean only one thing...

Fun and frolics for the next week. 

Friday 12 April 2019

Brighton Police.

Up until 1967 the police in my UK home town of Brighton wore white helmets. It was one of the things that made Brighton special. You knew you were in Brighton when you saw those white helmets.

Someone, somewhere, then decided that Brighton should be like everywhere else, and wear black helmets. What a stupid decision that was.; they might as well have demolished The Royal Pavilion at the same time.

Individuality is precious. It's what makes us prefer X over Y. Nothing good comes of aiming for the lowest common denominator; even in the realm of policemen's helmets.

Thursday 11 April 2019

Portrait painting.

This new portrait of Prince Charles has just recently been unveiled. I like it; he looks relaxed and reasonably wise. It flatters just enough. I'd like to be able to paint as well as this.

The work is by Irish painter Gareth Reid, a good 'safe pair of hands' in the world of portraiture. Reid studied in Ireland, Scotland, and Italy, and now works in Glasgow. Below is another of his works, a simple charcoal sketch of a woman.

I admire hugely the work of such people, and would have liked to have studied portraiture myself. I have, of course, painted plenty of portraits, but would never consider myself a 'portrait painter'.

My own favourite portrait was of the wife of a good friend; unfortunately I have no photo of it, just of the rough preparatory sketch (below). A couple of years after the painting was delivered to the client, it was stolen and has not been seen since.

Reid's charcoal sketch reminded me of my 'difficult' sitter. I wonder where her portrait is now?

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Billy's (and my) mornings.


Billy and I get up at about 5.15 am.

Once downstairs, I turn on the outside light (it's still dark) and let Billy out for his first pee of the day (I often join him).

Back indoors, I make myself a cup of Nescafé instant coffee, and prepare a small bowl of powdered Puppy milk for the hooligan.

It's now about 5.30 am, and I sit in front of my laptop replying to Emails, answering enquiries, and writing some wisdom for my blog page (as I am doing at this very moment).

Computery stuff takes about 90 mins, and at about 7 am I eat my meagre breakfast, then, once again, release the miniature wild beast, and take him for a walk.

Walking with Billy always makes me smile. He is such a comical little guy. Even the way he walks and runs makes me smile. Yesterday he stopped on a small mound looking down on the fields where the horses were grazing, stuck out his front legs, raised his head, and gave a very arrogant look that said 'One day all of this will be mine!'.

He's getting used to all the different walks I used to take with Bok; about 10 in all. I avoid the one that passes Cruella's house, where poor Bok was threatened last Summer. She can threaten others from now on!

He's also getting used to new sounds; Owls, Foxes, Deer, Tractors, Chainsaws, Rory, Jet Fighters, etc.

Most importantly, he's learning about gentlemanly behaviour. When asked he now sits, lies down, goes to his bed, comes when you call, and pees and poops outdoors.

He still chews our hands, feet, shoes, table legs, etc, but we'll deal with that when he's a tiny bit older.

Above he's with his friend Marley, and, below, was at the Vet's yesterday, just about to have his jab.

He now weighs-in at 7.45 Kilos. Growing fast.

Tuesday 9 April 2019

Mar v Vege

It's a question as old as the hills; Marmite or Vegemite? I have both.

Of course, there is only one answer; it HAS to be Marmite.

Vegemite tastes as if it's been made with burnt dust, mixed with chocolate waste and sump oil. It has an unpleasant texture, and an even more unpleasant dull colour. Its flavour (if indeed that word is even applicable) is akin to 'gastronomic failure'; an experiment that went horribly wrong, and was instantly abandoned; other than as a filler for cracked septic tanks. And as for its 'aroma', it is not dissimilar to something found under shoes.

Marmite on the other hand, is Ambrosia, that infamous food of the Gods. Angels are credited with the original recipe, and Her Majesty herself has given it her seal of approval. It is the food that develops intelligence, strength, and willpower. It has won wars and conquered the world. It was the very foundation of the Empire. 

As for its taste, Marmite has been described as 'elixir'. A mythical creation that calls men from the wild to worship at the altar of toast. A breakfast flavour so powerful that fortunes have been made simply on recalling its lingering aroma.

Marmite moments from history: The England team ate marmite before their 1966 World Cup match, making them invincible. Ian Botham famously kept a jar in his pocket, and would dip his finger into the nectar before sending Viv Richards back to the pavilion. Tim Berners-Lee was never without several jars whilst developing his WWW. Cap't Webb rubbed his body with the miracle paste before diving into the channel. Buzz Aldrin took it to the moon. Stanley Matthews used it to replace dubbin on his boots. Etc, etc.

If you still wish to know why Vegemite was banished to the other side of the world, it was because Rolf Harris was reared on it!

Monday 8 April 2019

God bothering.

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When I temporarily lived in Shropshire, it was very often said about vicars/priests/ministers of the church, that they held their bibles in one hand, and their pri*ks in the other. Their reputations preceded them.

Last night on the radio I was listening to a discussion about the Sultan of Brunei's recent Sharia pronouncements. One caller was an avid God botherer. Everything he declared involved God's writings in the bible (I didn't know that God wrote the bible!). He could hardly utter a word without crediting his God. It soon became quite ridiculous, and he was cut off.

Recently I met-up with a friend (C) who is also a big-time God person, but what a difference. She is one of the most pleasant and caring people you could ever hope to meet. OK, she sprinkles her conversation with vague references to her beliefs, but without ever being pushy. Her standard words of 'God bless you' when we part, never seem out of place. Other than being a good egg all round, she is also a tireless campaigner for charity.

If only C could meet-up with that silly Sultan of Brunei, and explain to him that we are all different; and that 'difference' should NOT be equated to being criminal; nor should our Gods be used as excuses for state violence.

The Sultan has unimaginable riches; nothing is beyond his financial reach. Is he going to tell the world that he has never paid for some 'sin', that he himself would see as punishable with amputation or imprisonment? Come off it Sult!

Sunday 7 April 2019

An Open Letter to Penny Mordaunt.

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Dear Ms Mordaunt.

I am writing to you in your guise as Secretary of State for International Development.

We have just read that your annual budget is now greater than that of the UK Police Force. I am well aware that your purse is based on 0.7% of the UK's GNI, so, naturally, we have to see the increase in funding as the result of Britain's current economic success; maybe we should be grateful.

Your government role (of which I do not entirely approve) appears to be based on handing out Taxpayers money to foreign countries in the hope that we might eventually gain something from our generosity. At least that is what one presumes; I can't imagine it being otherwise.

Some good may come from this benefaction, but in many cases I doubt it (fleets of White Merc's for one's chums, or funding Ethiopian Girl Bands, come to mind).

I would like to suggest that there are stricter rules linked to the billions that are handed out under your control.

As is well known, England is the only country in the world where animals are treated half-decently. There are Poodle-Parlours on every High Street, and foie gras flavoured Michelin starred ready-meals are delivered to Tiddles or Tyson on a daily basis. We value and pamper our pets like no others.

So, how about linking animal treatment to hand-outs? Any country which wishes to continue receiving annual payments must first demonstrate that their welfare standards are almost up to those of England. No Bears in tiny cages, no Dogs sold for meat in markets, and no Davy Crockett hats made from skinned Cats. No animals should spend their entire lives chained to a wall, or fighting each other for the amusement of humans. No Donkeys should be whipped, Elephants made to perform, or Monkies forced to ride bikes.

I'm sure you could find volunteer inspectors who would report back to your office before any cheques were signed. This would be neither expensive, nor complicated.

No animal welfare = no filthy lucre. How about it?

Most sincerely, Cro (animal lover) x

Saturday 6 April 2019

One man went to mow....

I don't know how much land we have. It's not a huge amount; less than two acres anyway.

Of course most of this has to be mowed. We have a couple of  mowers but I tend to use Rory (our first one) as he is the quicker of the two, and easier to use. The other one, Mick, has a big rear grass collector which tends to get blocked, and is far more complex.

Today I timed myself. To do the whole lot, excluding Haddock's, took me just over one hour. Not too bad. At this time of year it needs to be mowed about once a week. I do it on almost every occasion when the grass is really dry; whether it needs it or not, just in case!

On looking at our forecast, I see we are in for some rain. This means I never know when I'll next be able to mow, so fingers are crossed. April + Rain means fast growing grass which always needs attention. I can almost see it growing as I write (even though it's still dark!)

Friday 5 April 2019

That Corbyn Target.

My first thought on seeing the above picture was that those elite-force Paras must be very poor shots.

I know they were only firing wax pellets at the picture of Jezza, but with those rapid-fire pistols one might have thought they'd hit the target more than just occasionally!

Quite a fuss has been made about their choice of target. How dare a member of Her Majesty's armed forces shoot pellets at a Marxist MP. Had they chosen a photo of either May, Mogg, or Boris, those same (ahem) complainants would probably have cheered and raised strings of bunting.

Of course targeting politicians of any political colour is in very poor taste, and is not to be encouraged.

Seeing the above reminded me of Harold Wilson, a distant Socialist Prime Minister. Back in December of 1966, Wilson met the then Rhodesian (Zimbabwean) Prime Minister, Ian Smith, on board the HMS Tiger off Gibraltar. Smith had recently declared UDI after the UK's insistence that white majority rule be scrapped, and Wilson wanted to have words with him.

When the talks were over, Wilson honoured every member of Tiger's crew with a signed photograph of himself.

As Wilson walked down the gangplank to leave ship, he could see beneath him dozens of his signed photos floating on the water. The whole crew had simply tossed them overboard!

No record was made of Wilson's reaction; unlike Corbyn and his target photo.

Thursday 4 April 2019


There seems to have been a lot of discussion about Seagulls recently, and as you might imagine, with homes in Brighton, we are well aware of these beasts.

Many homes in Georgian/Victorian Brighton have parapets, and ours are no exception. At this time of year the Gulls make their nests in the gullies between the parapet and the bottom of the roof; often disturbing the flow of water in the lead-lined gully itself, when it rains.

It is forbidden to touch their nests in the breeding season (the little darlings are protected), so any removal of their detritus needs to be done at other times.

We have recently been undertaking necessary exterior decor work, and whilst atop their ladders, the workmen have removed vast amounts of nest material; in one case several black rubbish bags were filled.

I don't dislike Seagulls, I just don't want them doing the Hokey-Cokey on my roof at night, or stealing chips from my paper cone. Every creature has a rightful home, and the Seagull belongs on rugged shoreline cliffs, where he/she should feed off fish and other sea-creatures from the beach. The sight of them following the plough hundreds of miles inland may have its appeal on rustic calendars, but it's not what they should be doing. 

With our towns now filled with both Foxes and Gulls, it's probably about time that the authorities reconsidered their irrational protection; not defending their breeding grounds. There are far too many of both!

Wednesday 3 April 2019

Le Pain Rustique : boulanger de la Ruche de Lavalette

I never tire of seeing artisan bakers at work; or of tasting their wonderful wares.

Last Saturday, at our tiny nearby market, I bought our usual bread and wine. We have a new man at one of the two village bakeries, and he's producing some excellent bread, including a Baguette Tradition which is stunningly good. I bought two (below).

It looks, and tastes like the very best Sourdough, but he assures me it's a Yeast bread. Wonderful with good Paté or Rillettes. 

This discovery has come at a poignant time, as I've been shocked to hear that our regular, but more distant baker in Frayssinet-le Gelat, is selling-up; and goodness knows if the new owner will know how to bake decent bread. I hope they leave him their recipe book! 

I know that the Frayssinet oven has proved difficult to master. Over the past 46 years, several bakers have done nothing but burn loaves and eventually given-up, which is why we were so happy with the current man.

So, goodbye to the lovely tanned Sandrine, and her baker husband with a Greek name; at least I now have an alternative; and much nearer to home too.

Tuesday 2 April 2019

R I P Cousin Robert.

I have just learned that my cousin Robert died 20 years ago. I'd had no idea.

Robert graduated from Agricultural College (Aberystwyth I think), probably back in the late 70's. He had specialised in livestock rearing, rather than arable.

One of his first jobs, in the early 80's was to establish and run a large 'dairy farm' out in Saudi Arabia. The desert 'facility' was all under shady roofing, and was cooled by constantly running fans. All feed and water was brought in from elsewhere.

His job was to get milk production under way, and to train locals to take over at the end of his contract. The staff he was given all dressed in traditional spotless white robes, were lazy, and more than often didn't turn-up for work. He was totally frustrated.

Eventually when he left to return to the UK, with everything running as smoothly as he could manage, he feared that, as no-one was prepared to get their hands dirty, the project would die a natural death. I have no idea what happened.

My cousin must have been about 10 years younger than me. His father was my mother's younger brother. His exploits out in the Middle East made him something of a hero of mine; I admired his tenacious dedication to performing an almost-impossible task.

I may have some of the details (above) slightly wrong, but the scenario is 95% correct.

We lost contact years ago, and I miss knowing that he's no longer there.

Monday 1 April 2019

Favourite toys.

I do know that King George V's favourite toy, as a small boy, was a simple piece of wood, but Billy has far more refined taste. 

He has two absolute favourite toys, the cardboard box he arrived in, and the remains of Bok's half eaten Football.  In just a couple of months, he's already eaten half the cardboard box, and the poor Football has become reduced to a shadow of its former self.

Maybe this is why he's grown so fast.... too much protein.

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