Nothing is yet carved in stone, but in a post-Brexit world, Brits living in France will probably be limited to a 3 month stay each year. During the other 9 months, they will simply have to go and live elsewhere.
It is estimated that about 150,000 Brit families live in France; probably couples much like ourselves, living out in the countryside.
Not counting house expenses (water, electricity, rates, etc) each household probably spends about £1,500 per month on general living expenses; about £18,000 per annum (much as elsewhere). If one multiplies that by 150,000, it contributes a lot of 'new money' to small local communities. Take away 9 months worth of that spending, and you can imagine what effect it would have on small local economies.
Many tradesmen, service providers, and local shopkeepers, have become dependent on foreign money. They have expanded their businesses, and profited enormously from keeping newcomer Brits and Cloggies happy. The Cloggies will remain, but the big-spending Brits will either sell-up, or reduce their visits to just a few weeks each year. We know when we're not welcome, and there are plenty of other countries where we are! (Croatia?)
Both Brits and Cloggies are perfect immigrants. Both nationalities are mostly law abiding (other than a very few exceptions), we tend to restore old buildings (that might otherwise have been lost) to a high standard, and we contribute hugely to the cultural life of our communities. Mostly, however, we live on imported 'new money', which is a gift for any economy. We ask for nothing 'financial' of our hosts in return.
I have heard of villages where almost 80% of the residents are Brits (nightmare); these villages will die. They will return to how they were before their Brit restorations.
Frankly we no longer care. Our own tiny hamlet has been totally buggered by the frantic chase for tourist €uros, and we mourn the loss of its bucolic tranquility and gentility more than we do being kicked out by Macron. One has to wonder if all those €'s spent trying to attract tourists, will now fall flat.
I just hope that, in future, we'll only have to pay 25% of our local rates bills; it wouldn't be fair to charge us the full 100% if we're banned from living in our own homes for 9 months of the year, would it!
You'll be pleased to hear (I'm sure) that all is going very well with the UK's Brexit negotiations. Whilst Boris's boys smooch with Matron Merkle, et al, over in mainland Europe; back in the UK all is sweetness and light.
Let's say you went into an English Fish-n-Chip shop, and ordered Cod, chips, and peas; what would you expect to be served?
The Afro/Caribbean population are up in arms because naughty Ikea are selling 'Rice and Peas', whose 'Rice and Peas' are made with Rice and Peas, and not Rice and Kidney Beans. They are shouting 'Cultural appropriation'; the new snowflake accusation that covers all racial non-PC ills.
On the radio recently (LBC) several Afro/Caribbean complainants were asked if they knew the difference between Peas and Kidney Beans... they simply laughed. Of course they did, and if Ikea are selling Rice and Peas; that's what they mean, otherwise the trades description folk would probably go crazy. That is not to say that it's an altogether different matter if one was in Jamaica.
No-one seemed to have visited an Ikea restaurant to taste their Jerk Chicken. Personally I would have been far more concerned about the Chicken than about the Peas being Peas, and not Kidney Beans. Having eaten Rice and Peas (Kidney Beans) out in the Caribbean, I can assure you that it's really not that big a deal. The quality of a decent Jerk Chicken is far more contentious!
It was apparently The Queen herself (although I doubt it), who when asked about 'American English' (this could well have been 'Jamaican English'), replied "There are only two types of English; English, and incorrect English". People can call Rice and Kidney Beans whatever they like (even 'Rice and Peas'). I shall not be complaining.
Confused? I hope so. You really do have to have nothing better to do, than to make a fuss about bloody Rice and Peas.
May I suggest that Ikea adds the word 'Garden' in front of 'Peas'. Then the Afro/Caribbean PC brigade might not behave like spoilt children.
When I was a wee lad (post war), we ate a lot of Beef. I'm not sure, but I suspect it was cheaper than Chicken or Pork, and was considered 'every day food'; not like today.
I know that our village butcher (Mr Bryant) was always well stocked, and my father also had a 'black market' supply from some nearby based Canadian troops, who had far too much; it was sent over in huge quantities, either chilled or frozen.
Of course, one didn't only eat wonderful roasts, but there was also that miraculous residue called 'dripping'. I loved dripping on toast, with maybe some Bovril or Marmite; it was heaven on bread, and, in those days, still not regarded as unhealthy.
These days I might occasionally eat steak, but big joints of Beef are prohibitively expensive; so no pot of dripping in the fridge (I would never buy commercial pots as in the illustration).
However, being in S W France we DO have plenty of Duck fat, which in many ways is quite similar, and on occasions I prefer to have Duck fat on my toast than butter, and there is never any shortage.
Yesterday morning I had a real craving; my breakfast HAD to be toast with Duck fat and Marmite. It was bloody gorgeous, and I felt 6 years old again. I don't suppose it's any more unhealthy than either dripping or butter, and it tastes wonderful.
p,s,. If you were to ask any under 18-year-olds about 'dripping', you'd probably get a blank stare!
With no chimneys that needed cleaning, we had to find alternative work for the boys.
On the south end of the pool, behind the Pump House, is a large Bramley Apple tree, that, as usual, is loaded with fruit. And seeing as the boys love Apple Crumble, Grumsy enlisted their help to process some more apple.
In between bursts of rainfall, little Mischa manhandled the wheelbarrow, whilst Boo Boo gave instructions, acted as 'controller', and gave criticism where criticism was due.
There was a lot of peeling, chopping, and boiling, and the kitchen was filled with the strong aroma of Bramley. When cool, the cooked apples were bagged-up and frozen, and placed in a drawer that also contains Blackberries (in plastic cups).
Whilst at it, Grumsy made a crumble for last night. Perfect for a slightly Autumnal evening.
Small boys seem to have a natural affinity with dogs. I imagine they see each other as equals.
Boo Boo and Billy get on very well, but for the moment they never go on walks together.
The reason for this is simple; Boo Boo doesn't wear shoes, I have no idea why. Walking any distance here involves stepping over very spiky Chestnut husks (especially at the moment), and although Billy can simply avoid them; Boo Boo can't.
I'll have to buy him some new Gumboots before Autumn; whether he'll wear them or not is another question, but if he wants to go walkies with Billy, he'll have to. And as for joining me on mushrooming searches.....they will be essential.
NB. Billy had his 'snip' last Tuesday..... He took it very well, and he's still talking to us; thank goodness!
I suppose we have become well known for leading very quiet, simple, but well-organised lives; I am amusingly known as a 'hermit'. The most animated activity around here is either mowing or log sawing; otherwise we are very disciplined people who do everything by 'routine'; probably a result of our mutual strict schooling.
Therefore, it comes as a shock to us (as it has on a couple of other recent occasions) that certain people's lives can be so thoroughly erratic and turbulent that they verge on the psychotic. Something so alien to us that it is totally incomprehensible.
I don't wish to go into details, but the person in questions' life is totally chaotic and without aim, other than controlling everyone around them by outrageous demands, threats, and even violence.
I try never to allow other people's problems to become my problems, but in a few recent cases it has been unavoidable, and amazingly (probably in most similar cases) the miscreants try to turn accusations of 'guilt' back onto us; not unlike accusing a teetotaler of being 'permanently drunk'; a very puerile tactic, only semi-believed by the very gullible.
It is extraordinary that a single disturbed life can have such an effect on so many around them. Luckily our own involvement with this person has been transitory, but for some it has been permanently life-changing, and dramatic.
The above illustration is Lady Magnon's souvenir of a recent encounter. Not pleasant, but we try not to show animosity. Mental health problems are complicated enough as they are!
Back on April 27th I wrote a piece entitled 'What a load of rubbish', outlining a new plan for robbing us blind over rubbish collection.
In future, if we throw away just one small bag of rubbish per week, we will be charged between €130 and €150 pa for simply thinking about it, then another €80 or €100 pa for actually placing our black bags in the rubbish bin itself. The bins will only open after having been accessed by a personal electronic tag, which will count our every usage.
I see several consequences of this bright idea. Vandalism (very popular in France) will be high on the list; a sharp kick to the computery bit will disable it pretty quickly, and all access with then be 'free'. Others may simply throw their black bags into a hedge from their cars; having made sure that no evidence of 'the thrower' is left inside. And a third option will be to dig a deep hole in the garden and bury all cans, bottles etc; with the rest being burned.
At present we compost all vegetable matter, we burn paper, and the rest is taken to our local recycling bins. We are reasonably conscientious; but not 100% perfect.
Any day now, a (well paid) man will call at the house to help us fill-in a complicated form (name, address, etc). Personally I think there should be fewer meddling bureaucrats, and more free rubbish collection bins; but who am I to suggest such a thing!
The crazies can now say what a raving lunatic I am!
Anyone who has given money to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), has probably done so in the presumption that it all goes towards brave men/women who help hapless sailors or swimmers in distress around our island waters. That was certainly my own impression.
But no; it seems that much of the donated money is sent abroad whilst currently 135 British RNLI lifesavers are being given the sack back at home, through lack of funds.
The charity's chief executive, Mark Dowie (£189,000 pa salary) hands out £3.3 million to some strange foreign causes. He pays for 'burkinis' for Muslim girls in Tanzania (above), free creche places for small children in Bangladesh, and training for foreign countries on how not to upset illegal immigrants.
And all this whilst demands for RNLI services at home are at an all-time high.
I couldn't count the amount of times I've plunged into a river or the sea in my ordinary everyday clothes. I would have thought that girls in Tanzania are just as capable of such things; they'd dry-off much quicker too in Tanzania. Do these girls really require special outfits, paid for out of our RNLI donations?
Yesterday's date was chosen for our wine-making on account of the amount of Wasps and Hornets that were around. If we'd left it any longer they would have been everywhere.
I'm not sure how many buckets we filled, but it felt like hundreds.
In the absence of a grape mangle, or clean feet, I opted to crush the grapes by hand; a distinctly satisfying task.
And this, above, is our Cuve. A converted plastic dustbin with plastic tap. Everything went inside.
Will it work? Well the principle is the same as in times gone by, so we can but wait and see. If it does work, we should have some wine in about two weeks. What it will taste like is an altogether different matter.
Poor Iain Dale; the uber doom-monger hardly knew what to say when presented with 'facts' from a sharp end caller. He looks genuinely upset, I love the way he eventually tries to pass the buck to the fragrant Emily Thornberry.
Iain, and other fair-weather-critics, sit back listening to No Deal 'worst case scenarios' (of which they have no first-hand knowledge), as the people who do the actual job simply carry on, and get things done.
"There might be a shortage of Cheddar at Carrefour, but there won't be a shortage of Brie at Tesco" Spread the word Iain!!.... and Pigs will fly.
There are certain properties that I covet; and this is one.
Possibly the most beautiful home I know (and have stayed in) is the above Sussex farmhouse called Humphrey's Homestead. I just wish I could have found a better picture for you. It's a stunning property.
HH is situated on a very quiet country lane, a few miles from Arundel in West Sussex, and is a classic large early stone and flint built farmhouse, with a wavy peg-tiled roof and ancient interior beams. A couple of similarly constructed outbuildings have been converted into houses for family members. It has become a fabulous 'family community'.
It was the home of Wilfrid Meynell and his wife the poet Alice Meynell. Of their eight children two were Viola and Francis Meynell; both writers/poets in their own rights (see Wiki).
The house is a treasure trove of objects and memories. Paintings by Bloomsbury members nonchalantly hang in unexpected places, a portrait drawing of Alice by J S Sargent hangs in the smoky atmosphere of the huge sitting room inglenook. Much of the old antique furniture has been painted-on by visiting artists. I believe that Lawrence wrote his 'England my England' whilst staying there. The ambiance is thick with cultured indifference.
I presume that my friends, who are Meynell family members, still own this lovely house (I cannot imagine them ever selling it); I've hardly seen them since I was an usher at their Arundel Cathedral wedding back in the late 60's. To me the house is perfection in every way. Their Bonfire Night parties were unforgettable.
I've just found another picture; probably as equally bad as the first.
It's surprising how little there is to do in September. OK, I could pick more Apples, etc, or IF it had rained enough there would be mushrooms to be gathered.
The grass isn't growing, nor are the weeds; in fact there is very little that needs my attention. All I can remember from yesterday (other than taking Billy to the Vet's) was repairing the mechanism that lifts our pedal bin. Hardly a fulfilling day.
There are small children who require entertaining; Boo Boo and Lady M made chocolate brownies together yesterday. There is Billy to take for walks; but one can only walk so far each day. And there are general 'groundsman' duties that need to be seen-to; raking leaves, etc. Otherwise I pop up to Haddock's several times a day to see if anything has grown, and moan about the constant noise from neighbours' ongoing projects.
The pool temperature might rise over the next few days, so there'll be swimming to do; otherwise it's just a matter of thumb-twiddling, cooking, eating, and drinking. It's a hard life.
Billy is a member of an exclusive VIP canine treatment club, and actually has private consultations. In fact it's a money saving scheme, with certain benefits. It wouldn't surprise me if he'll receive a birthday card too. I'm sure you get the idea.
Here is just after we'd arrived for his yesterday's consultation; trying to escape.
The reason for his visit was to have a thorough health-check, and to arrange a date for his 'snip'.
Poor boy, his family jewels will be removed on Tuesday 17th. I haven't had the heart to mention it to him!
I have a feeling he may make life difficult for them.
I can't show you a photo of my magnificent Melrose crop from Mischa's tree, because there was only one tiny apple; I've had to borrow a picture from Mr Google instead.
However, I did get to taste it, and it was probably the best of all our different 'eating' varieties.
It was crisp, tasty, and with very slightly creamy/yellowish flesh.
My Reine de Reinette apple (above; which has the reputation of being France's best) have performed well, and I just hope they keep better than in previous years. My Jonagolds are HUGE again, and will be harvested later. We also have plenty of Bramleys; of course.
This winter I am determined to find (and plant) a Cox's Orange Pippin; which is probably the world's best apple. I did have one here years ago, but it succumbed to Honey Fungus; and died.
I shall also try to find a Victoria Plum tree. I had one back in England, and it was magnificent. There is nothing to compare over here.
Our mornings are now cool, currently around 6 C; rising to above 25 C in the late afternoon. The pool's temperature indicator, is leaning towards 'unswimmable'. Autumn is very much on its way.
The orchard is covered with fallen Apples, Peaches, and Figs; and our Quinces are being thrown by the children for Billy to retrieve. Wasps and Hornets will soon be with us as the Grapes ripen and become sweet.
We are desperate for rain. Molehills have become large piles of fine dust. Nothing is growing. Watering Haddock's doesn't help. If we don't have a good downpour quite soon, we'll have no more Aubergines, Peppers, or Courgettes, and the few late Cauli's I planted will shrivel and die. But most importantly the Chestnuts will refuse to swell, and we'll have no Mushrooms.
On the plus side, most of the tourists have returned home, the lawns have hardly needed mowing for weeks, and our evenings are still warm enough not to warrant a fire. I continue to sleep on top of the duvet, rather than under it.
I'm now looking forward to finding Choucroute in the shops, to eating buttered baked Potatoes, and preparing wine-rich casseroles of Beef, Chicken, or Rabbit.
Lady M has filled countless freezer bags with cooked Bramley Apple, and I, in turn, have supplied plenty of Blackberries. I have prepared a decidedly small amount of Tomato based preserves; but luckily we still have a good supply from last year, so we should be OK.
It won't be long before trailer loads of Chestnut and Oak logs are added to our dwindled piles, and we'll be ready for the cold.
I shall continue to wear shorts for a while; returning to longs is defeatism. It may be Autumn, but my legs are unaware.
To have a brother who was Prime Minister, regardless of differing political opinions, would normally engender some filial pride; and even loyalty.
But, when on the same benches, even if your political stance remains slightly apart one would have thought it best simply to say nothing and argue in private.
Boris's brother Jo Johnson has now quit the cabinet, as well as his Orpington seat (a 'leave' constituency), where I hear he has hardly ever been seen other than at his original election in 2010, and his re-election in 2015. There will be no love lost between him and his constituents (a staunch Tory bunch).
It will be interesting to see if he follows his close friend George Osborne back into journalism; either with The Standard, or at his old job on the FT's Lex column.
Time to put the knives away, boys; or Daddy will smack your bottoms!
I'm not in favour of old Olive trees being torn from their native Italian hillsides, and transplanted into chic bourgeois homes in The Cotswolds, Périgord, and elsewhere. However, a certain person from my family did buy one, and I now have to accept it as part of our garden.
OK; it's now there, and as it produces fruit, then they need to be preserved, and the person to ask about such things is our Greco/Kiwi friend from http://local-kiwi-alien.blogspot.com/ who knows all about such things.
I followed her advice, and above is a part of the result of our last year's crop (which we ate last night).
They are OK; no more. They could have been a tad saltier, much bigger (I can't do much about that), and more flavoursome. However, they are pleasant, moreish, and (most importantly) home made.
I was looking forward to a second crop this year, but our tree is fruitless. Next year!
I may not live in England, but it has always been high on my list of favourite places; probably because I was born there.
The England of my youth was Surrey, Cambridgeshire, and London. I was once mugged in London (Bayswater); an unexpected sucker-punch from one of three Irishmen put me on the floor before they took everything of value from me, but otherwise my life has always been quiet and untroubled. Today I fear I would be constantly looking over my shoulder, in case of a random attack by 'point-scoring' gang members.
But this is not what worries most English people; it is of course the crazy fallout from effing Brexit. A situation that has arisen over the past few years that was previously totally and utterly unimaginable.
There is no question that the EU has changed from being a trading partnership (The Common Market), to an interfering political group, hell-bent on becoming a single state, and folk are not happy.
Irrational 'No Deal' scare tactics have become ridiculous, with the 'remainers' claiming that half the population is going to die through lack of medicines, and the other half through lack of food. The 'leavers', however, claim that most people won't notice any difference whatsoever after the UK's exit. If anything, things will get better.
What we will notice, however, is the continuing rumpus between the leavers and remainers. Whichever way it eventually falls, there will be roughly 50% of the population who will continue to be angry; and this will NOT go away. It could last for generations.
Even with my serious EU reservations, I continue to be a 'remainer' for obvious reasons; and I have still not given up hope. However, if England was to quit Europe I cannot see my life changing one iota. My Pound may be exchanged for a few less Euros at the ATM, but that won't affect my weekly outgoings or life-style. I also quite expect to see Oxford Marmalade, McVities biscuits, and Cheddar cheese continuing to be sold at my favourite supermarket here; and if you genuinely think that Perrier water, Citroens, Brie, and Tintin books are going to disappear from the UK, then think again! And as for those medicines (isotopes et al), the lorries carrying them are marked, and are given priority clearance at their port of entry.
The Brexit process has gone from being 'troublesome', to being akin to a Monty Python comedy show (The Ministry of Silly Talks), with our pathetic politicians playing the major roles.
But one thing I can assure everyone who lives in GB, is that any temporary fallout from Brexit would be NOTHING in comparison to having Corbyn, Watson, McDonnell, and Abbott in No 10. The poor would become poorer, unemployment would rise dramatically, and the rich would simply move South. It has always been thus; and would be thus yet again!
These two above are 'Artist's Model' Billie Despard, and her new husband, the Sculptor Hilary Stratton, on their wedding day at Chelsea Old Church in 1937.
Billie's aunt was a well-known Suffragette, and Hilary was an excellent sculptor, who also worked with/for Eric Gill.
Before applying for my Foundation course, I did evening classes at Chelsea, then enrolled at the tiny Horsham School of Art; just to get some work in my portfolio. I needn't really have bothered as I had no problem being accepted onto my course.
However, Hilary Stratton had been a part time sculpture tutor at Horsham, and during my time there I was just about his only serious student. He was an extremely pleasant man, and we got on very well together; he even invited me back to his home on a couple of occasions where I met the lovely Billie.
The web is very short on information about both Hilary and Billie; he was quite an influence on my early college life. The web is filled with tales of Eric Gill, mostly on account of his bizarre philandering, but his sidekick, Stratton, hardly gets a mention.
This, below, is the only work of his of which I can find a picture. It's a war memorial near Chichester in Sussex, and is attributed to Gill; even though Stratton actually carved it.
Well, Hilary, I'm doing my bit to have you better known. What a nice man you were; a real goodun!
My good friend Margaret recommended these beans to me last autumn. She assured me that they were the 'best ever'.
Well I'm pleased to confirm that she was right. They are called CROCKETT, and are dark, delicious, and the plants not too tall.
Unfortunately our crop has been a tad meagre this year, but what I have harvested has been very good. I still have some young plants coming-along for later, so if we have some rain, I expect they'll do well.
If you can find the seeds; I thoroughly recommend.
Our next door neighbour at the first home I bought in around 1970 (in Wales) was an elderly lady. Her first experience of travelling was about 10 miles away on her honeymoon; since then she'd hardly ventured more than about 5 miles from her village, to her local market town probably once a month. She was what one might call 'not very well travelled'. (This is not actually her, above)
Last night we were five at table, and amongst the countries we'd lived in were The UK, Barbados, S Africa, Russia, France, Venezuela, Canada, USA, Puerto Rico, and possibly one or two others that I may have forgotten.
Today, it's no big deal for our children to move from country to country; looking for that ideal spot. In the days of my Welsh neighbour, just 10 miles away probably seemed very exotic. Things have certainly changed, and we take it for granted.
There is much to be said for both ways of life. The idea of being rooted to a spot, with all one's family living just down the road, is very appealing, but for most of us life without travel would be very tedious.
Personally I'm not particularly well travelled. I've not ventured much beyond Europe; other than a couple of months in the Caribbean, and I do rather like to stay at home. Lady Magnon, however, thinks nothing of swanning around the world on long extended trips.
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; we also have a Border Collie called Billy. 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!