Saturday 30 November 2019

Mr Tiggy Winkle again.

I last saw this chap on October 10th, I saw him again yesterday morning at 5.30 am; I presume it's the same one.

It is very reassuring to see that Hedgehogs are living here again. About a week ago I disturbed another much smaller one in a nest up at the barn, when I uncovered my big pile of kindling wood (old weatherboarding planks).

Seeing as he seems to be resident very nearby, I have now made him a nest from an old broken terracotta pot, filled and covered with leaves (above). If he finds it, it will make the perfect spot for him to hibernate for the winter. Yes, I used to watch Blue Peter!

It is now well covered again (below), and I will add more leaves as they fall. Nice-n-cosy.

Friday 29 November 2019

Singing the Praises of Beetroot.

Beetroot is my latest passion; I can't get enough of it. I've always eaten Beetroot, but now I'm obsessed.

When I recently had high blood pressure, I looked on 'the net' for naturally lowering foods, and top of every list was Beetroot.

This pre-cooked, vacuum packed, Beetroot is perfect for me. No long cooking process, it's quite cheap, and it's prepared in exactly the same way that one would at home. I open the pack, slice one or two roots, and sprinkle with sweetened Raspberry Vinegar; it's that simple. I must say, my daily lunchtime dose is awaited with genuine eagerness. It is simply delicious; and my blood pressure is remaining low.

Beetroot recipes are few and far between. I do occasionally put a lump in with my Humus, simply for the colour, but otherwise it tends to go in salads. If I was growing my own Beetroot I might roast a few, but usually it's eaten from a vacuum pack.

With the amount I've eaten recently, I've now run out of Raspberry Vinegar, so I've had to make more.

Luckily there was a small bag of Tayberries in the freezer. Mix with clear vinegar and some sugar, leave for a few hours, then strain into a bottle. Voila! Splashed on your sliced Beetroot it's a partnership made in heaven.

Thursday 28 November 2019

Keeping warm.


With fires now lit daily (evenings only), I'm back to my regular log sawing duties.

Even at my great advanced age, I don't mind getting out the chainsaw and filling a barrow or two with stove-sized logs. It's all part of the Winter experience, and the small amount of exercise it offers does me some good. Pressing a central heating button is all well and good, but my method is far more bucolic and 'natural'; even if the overall room-to-room temperature of the house is rather erratic.

We've only had our delivery of Oak wood so far (below), but we still had lots in reserve anyway. I've also ordered plenty of Chestnut. Last Winter I used Chestnut almost exclusively, and have done the same so far this year.

Our sitting room 'Godin' stove produces a lot of heat. It also allows foil-wrapped baked potatoes to be cooked below the embers, and casseroles to be cooked on the top. It's a multi-tasking machine, and it's very satisfying to sit back and watch supper cooking away by one's side.

Hats, coats, and gloves are already in use. Thermal vests and electric blankets are making an appearance. It hasn't been 'cold' yet, but I'll be sawing logs for the next 5 months.

According to our 'Meteo', we have a few days of  barely sub-zero C nights coming in about a week's time.

We ARE prepared.

Wednesday 27 November 2019



One hardly knows what one can and cannot say these days.

The latest no-no is the word 'uppity'. Someone recently used the word in connection with Meghan Markle; and was seriously lambasted in the press and on TV. An apology was demanded.

It seems that the word is RACIST; whereas personally I'd always innocently used it in relation to those who seem self-important or arrogant.

Orwell's Oceania Newspeak is no longer fiction. The Language Police are out there, and we'd all better watch our tongues.

Tuesday 26 November 2019

Cro's top 10 favourite 'foreign' foods.

As an antidote to Brexit and Bluster, here's some foodie thoughts. 10, in fact.

1. Chinese sweet-n-sour BBQ spare ribs.

2. Confit de Canard.

3. Parma ham.

4. Snails with Garlic butter.

5. Méchoui of Lamb.

6. Moules Marinières.

7. Couscous with a Lamb tagine.

8. Tandoori chicken.

9. Swedish Sill Matjes.

10. Sushi.

Monday 25 November 2019


                                        Keith with Toyah.

I don't have much hair these days, but what's left of it, I usually cut myself (if required). It wasn't always thus.

At school it was senior boys who simply shouted "Haircut", and a trip to one of the town's barbers was obligatory.

In my city days I used to have my hair cut on Saturdays at Harrods. This may sound very fancy, but in fact it was very cheap. I imagine it was a 'lost-leader', designed to keep husbands busy whilst their wives spent their fortunes. It was a little known gem.

Later during my London days, I let it grow (as was the fashion), and kept it to a controllable shoulder length, then one day my friend Juliet introduced me to the man in the picture above. After dinner one night he pulled out from his jacket a comb and pair of scissors. I was instructed to sit near the light. 

This was the only time in my life that I've had a 'celebrity haircut'. Keith (Wainwright) was the genius behind Smile; probably the hippest of all Knightsbridge salons in the mid-60's. Everyone who was anyone went to Smile, but on this particular occasion Smile came to me.

'Keith at Smile' wasn't really a men's crimper, but he did a good job!

Above is what he looks like today; he hasn't changed that much. Cheers Keef!

Sunday 24 November 2019

Panto Time; Oh no he didn't. OH YES HE DID!

The village of Lower-Piddling-upon-Thames is looking for actors to participate in this year's Women's Institute Panto:... Cinderella.

Only three roles remain vacant; the Two 'Unattractive' sisters and Baron Newly-Hardup.

Casting will take place at The Drowning Man pub' in Hackney; no Royals need apply.

(p.s. Those with their own amusing Panto outfits will be given priority)

Saturday 23 November 2019

Julie's Parmesan Biscuits.


I was asked recently to re-post the recipe for these amazingly delicious, cheesy, spicy, mouth-watering biscuits.


100g butter
100g flour
100g grated (genuine) parmesan cheese
1 egg yolk
chilli flakes to taste
cumin seeds to taste

Mix all ingredients in whizzing machine, until it forms a ball. Make into 3 cm diam' sausage shaped rolls, and chill until required in clingfilm. Don't add salt; the parmesan is salty enough.

Using a sharp knife, cut into 5 mm thick slices and bake on parchment for about 10 mins at 180C. Keep an eye on them, to make sure they don't burn. Leave them longer if undercooked; all ovens are different.

I think it's best to make several attempts at making these, so that you can not only get the baking time just right, but also the balance of chilli etc to your taste. Keep precise notes of what you do.

Perfect for pre-Christmas drinks parties. Make plenty; they go very quickly. It's also not a bad idea to have several copies of the recipe at the ready too.... people will ask for it!

p.s. The earliest record of this recipe seems to come from 'The Cookery Book of Lady Clark of Tillypronie', which can be found in Elizabeth David's 'Spices, Salt, and Aromatics in the English Kitchen'. Lady M's version (above) comes from our good friend Julie; the wife of artist Simon Fletcher.

Friday 22 November 2019

Looking back.

I rather enjoy looking back at photos of my old paintings, or even at the paintings themselves.

I once went to a house where the owner was desperate to show me one of my old paintings that she'd bought. When I saw it I couldn't remember it at all; I simply had no recollection whatsoever of having painted it. Some time later I did remember it, but how I'd originally forgotten it is still a complete mystery.

I've always rather liked this large painting (above) entitled 'Small War'. When it was almost finished a painter friend of mine visited my studio and accused me of 'losing the plot'. I was quite disturbed by his comment as I'd thought the total opposite. I remember that I didn't paint for weeks afterwards, and just sat in a Café, trying to reconcile myself.

Whilst going through a pile of old snaps, I came across this one of me sitting in a Café; possibly trying to reconcile myself about criticism. I think it must be the only surviving picture of me with a cigarette in my mouth. 

When I think of how I spent about 40 years with packets of untipped Gauloises in my pocket, it makes me shudder (I quit about 20 years ago). It's a bloody miracle that I don't have breathing or other tobacco related problems; untipped Gauloises are some of the strongest fags around.

N.B. The above is re-posted from 2014.

Thursday 21 November 2019

This is exactly what we've all been waiting for!


The UK's 'University and College Union' (UCU) has recently spoken (in tongues, I expect).

They want everyone to be able to 'self-identify' as whatever colour, gender, or with whatever sexual orientation, or even disability, they wish.

You're getting excited; I can see!

So, if you were born a black, female, 4 ft, one armed, lesbian, you could now be a tall white hetrosexual male, who is able bodied. Hooray for that!

One advantage of this otherwise seemingly bizarre idea, is that Companies, or their Boards of Directors, who are accused of being too white, Christian, and male oriented, can now instruct half their employees to become female, white, Muslims..... Problem sorted.

As for me, I've reluctantly decided to continue as a tall, white, male, but (please) with the added good looks of a young Adonis. However, I'm told the Adonis bit is a bit far fetched, even for the UCU.

N.B. Just in case you were wondering, in the photo above, those are two black males holding the banner, accompanied by a Wheelchair bound Asian female coffee drinker.

Aren't students wonderful.

Wednesday 20 November 2019

The bloody cheek!

Last night, Corbyn proved my point. The UK Marxists (Labour) think that, during their election campaign, if they shout something loud enough, and for long enough, that somehow people will believe them. This is their attitude towards privatisation of the NHS; they don't stop saying that the Tories will sell to Trump. What bloody nonsense.

It might be worth reminding those merry Marxists that under Gordon (son of the Manse) Brown, and his 'Private Finance Initiative' (PFI), the UK was left with debts of £300 Billion, after privatising projects to a value of £55 Billion. His PFI projects for the NHS alone cost over £80 Billion for projects costing just £11 Billion. Not only were these privatisation projects extremely costly, but they also came with enormous interest payments, and strings attached for 'facilities maintenance'.

There are many examples of these attached 'strings', where only specific named contractors were allowed to change light bulbs etc, one being of a job that cost the NHS £52,000, which would normally only have cost £750. The examples are endless, and continue to this day. Looking for NHS privatisation and wastage? Look no further than Brown.

One of the major private finance Co's who built NHS hospitals under the PFI scheme is Innisfree, who are responsible for building almost 20 hospitals, including London's famous 'Bart's' (above).

So, Corbyn, look to your own camp when talking about privatising the NHS; and don't try to tar the Tories with your own disastrous brushes. I think that you might also find that the NHS could negotiate far better deals with non-EU pharmaceutical Co's, than they are currently doing with our German 'partners', etc.

Tuesday 19 November 2019


This time I think she's gone seriously over the top with her pre-seasonal preparations.

Lady Magnon has not only begun buying Christmas presents, but she's already churning out tray after tray of MP's (Mince Pies). I did notice her wandering off into the kitchen recently with a bottle of Armagnac, and I had my concerns; but I soon realised that she'd begun making her copious amounts of Mincemeat, which are heavily laced with alcohol.

"Cuppa and an MP Cro?"

"Oh, go on then; maybe I'll have two".

I can't resist Mince Pies, and I get a wish too.

She and Boo Boo will probably be elbow deep in Christmas Cake mix before long. I can't resist that either. "Just a small slice, please".

Monday 18 November 2019


I'm sure I've mentioned here before, that I am a huge fan of tinned Sardines.

At a recent local market, I was advised by a good friend to buy some sardines from a producer who'd come all the way from St Gilles-Croix-de-Vie (85), to the North of La Rochelle. These are Atlantic Sardines rather than the more common Mediterranean ones.

Every inch of the canning process is done by hand; a tradition that Conserverie Gendreau have practised ever since they started back in 1903.

Of course there's a lot of hype involved in the sale of every product, and Sardines are no exception. They claim to be the best (who doesn't), and have their cans illustrated by 'self-taught' local-born painter Suzy Ocadlik. The only difference between these and others, is that the fish are roasted for a while before being canned. They are, of course, in Olive Oil.

I recently surprised myself by making baked potatoes that were split in half, filled with a plump tinned Sardine, and with plenty of the Olive Oil poured over. It was stunningly delicious.

So, are they good? Indeed they are; there is a more pronounced flavour of grilled Sardine than in some makes. I'd give them 9/10.

The tins have a charm.

Sunday 17 November 2019

Our tiny, but increasingly populated, hamlet.

Not so long ago, things simply went along very calmly and quietly, these days we never know what to expect. Dogs are kicked, cars are parked all over the place, and strange things happen.

At the delightful, yet half built shipping-container holiday village, there is already a 'Gite' in an old converted stone barn beside the owners house; I believe it caters for a maximum of seven holiday makers. When I went by recently there were SIX visitors cars parked outside (above). Yes, six cars for one 'Gite', the one parked on the children's school bus-stop belongs to someone else.

When Lady M took Billy for his evening walk she noticed a whole gang of people standing outdoors, in the drizzly twilight. She said they were looking very suspicious. Maybe it was a stag-do, a cannabis convention, or even a funeral party. It was a sight of which we are not familiar in our quiet corner of the world.

Near where they were standing are the initial diggings of the new Holiday Camp Swimming Pool (possibly similar to the above!!). Piles of earth, etc, are appearing just beyond the entrance. No doubt yet more huge diggers and concrete mixers will soon be making even more noise than before. There is only a derelict house directly opposite the entrance to the holiday complex, but there are three homes within a hundred meters or so who will be severely affected by the inevitable future racket; and we all know what effect pools have on children's decibel levels! We are expecting to hear the noise even from down at our own home, several hundred metres away.

This is exactly why everyone voted against this whole stupid bloody project. The planning dep't bureaucrats who approved it should all be bloody ashamed of themselves.

Saturday 16 November 2019

Pickled Shallots.

I couldn't find my usual small round pickling Onions, so I bought Shallots instead.

They have been bathed in brine for 24 hrs, and have now been pickled in a sweet red wine vinegar.

I hope they compare favourably with my usual ones. If not, there's still plenty of time before they're needed to go with the cold Turkey etc.

I'm sure I pickled Shallots once before, and they weren't too good, but I've already tasted one of the above and it was fine. 

Friday 15 November 2019

Twins Seven-Seven.

The first black 'super-star' artist from Africa, must have been Twins Seven-Seven.

Originally a musician and dancer, in 1964 he enrolled on a 'painting workshop' and almost at once became one of Nigeria's foremost painters. International fame soon followed. 

Twins often refused to see other painters' works, simply because he didn't want to be influenced by them.

I remember seeing some of his work in London in the late 1960's. It was 'different', unusual, and refreshing. His subject matter was based on local mythology and culture, and at times has an Aboriginal look about it..

I've never been a big fan of 'ethnic' painting or sculpture, but in Twins' case I make an exception.

He's a painter who's well worth looking at. Google Images has plenty of examples.

The olden days!

Few people now remember, but London's ICA (Institute of Contemporary Art) used to be an artist's members club; of which I was a member.

I joined in about 1966, and remained a member until around 1968, when I left to study painting outside of London. The ICA eventually moved from its friendly premises in Dover Street, to Pall Mall where it became an 'Institution'.  The clubs magazine 'Bulletin' was published monthly, and contained interesting articles as well as info about important events. As you might see from the cover, for non-members it cost a Shilling. 

I was just looking at a few of my old 'Bulletins', and was reminded of the hierarchy. Our President was Sir Herbert Read, the Hon Director Sir Roland Penrose, and the director Dr Desmond Morris. All were often present at lectures, exhibitions, or in the bar.

I also notice that our Phone No was Grosvenor 6616....... those were the days!

The Gallery and The Library were exhibition areas. The Gallery was reserved for prestigious exhibitions and concerts, and The Library for us lesser mortals. I exhibited one piece, once, in The Library.

Of course I no longer live in London, but I miss the old ICA anyway. It lost most of its appeal as an artists club when it moved, but in Pall Mall it did become one of the very best exhibition venues.

Thursday 14 November 2019

The Cranes are leaving.

I've just been out for a walk with Billy and Boo Boo, and we saw hundreds of these Cranes flying over, heading off for Spain or North Africa. These ones (below) were filmed on Sunday, and come from our local newspaper.

They make a beautiful sound as they circle, then head-off in their desired direction; usually in a perfect V formation.

We always wave to them, and wish them well. Then when they return in Spring we'll wave again, and welcome them back.

A truly wonderful sight.

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Who Really Loves You?

An interesting question!

Lady Magnon just about 'tolerates' me. She tolerates the holes in my shoes, socks, trousers, pants, T shirts, and sweatshirts. She tolerates my unusual sense of tidiness. And she tolerates my intolerance.

My three children have now accepted that I'm the only father they'll ever have. Having drawn life's short straw, they humour me, pretend to laugh at my jokes, and pat me on the head when I demonstrate my dire lack of technical knowledge (and knowledge in general). 

My grandsons know no better. I'm just their 'Grumpy' who supplies them with adventures, danger, and occasionally sweets. 

However, there is one who loves me above all else; my lovely Billy. He follows me around biting my hands and legs, he settles on my lap when I watch TV, staring permanently up into my eyes. In his own special way, he has told me that he would lay down his life for me. 

He is devoted to me to the extent of being 'intrusive'. He has become my very shadow.  

I make no comparisons, but George V had a dog who loved him so much that it would faint every time they met. At their very last meeting, the dog passed out, and remained 'unconscious' for the entire hour of their encounter.

Billy has yet to follow this fine example, but I'm expecting it at any minute.

And, of course, his daddy loves him too!

N.B. I originally wrote the above about Bok in 2013, but it is just as appropriate about Billy today.

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Premature Crimbo.

                         Résultat de recherche d'images pour "christmas adverts 2019"

I think almost all of us must be pissed-off by the constant Christmas hype that has now overtaken most TV and press advertising. I have even seen newspaper articles comparing the quality of this year's Xmas ad's.... Giving them 'ratings'.... As if we bloody care!

If there's one sure way of making people anti-Christmas, it's by bombarding us with commercial rubbish over a month and a half in advance.

Yes, of course I will decorate a tree, eat Roast Turkey, and exchange small gifts with Lady Magnon, but this crazy annual hype really does get on my nerves.

re: The above advert. I do not associate Christmas with Lidl one little bit. In fact now that I've used their ad' as my illustration, I shall make specially sure not to go anywhere near them.

Luckily I am unlikely to see an advert for Leclerc, but would avoid their Christmas section anyway!

Monday 11 November 2019

Cy Twombly

I haven't written about favourite painters for a while.

Cy Twombly was born in 1928 in Virginia USA, he died aged 83 in Rome.

His painting is very much in the tradition of Japanese Calligraphy; which is probably one of the main reasons that I like it so much. 

He lived and worked in the era of Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns; at one time even sharing a studio with the former.

His work has been a great influence on many younger painters, including myself. The lower illustration is a good example of how the scale and forcefulness of his work dominates any given space.

Even if his work doesn't have immediate appeal for you, if you see that his work is on show somewhere nearby, I recommend you go. Like the large scale work of Larry Poons in the 60's, you leave feeling that your life has changed for the better.

Sunday 10 November 2019

A bit of a Health Scare.

I recently had to visit the Doc' to renew my prescription; I had run out of certain pills, and hadn't taken them for quite a while.

I really hate having to visit the Doc', and combined with a few other things I was feeling very stressed.

The Doc' I saw was new to me. Firstly she made me remove my T Shirt and shoes, my previous Doc' never asked this of me. When she took my blood pressure she gasped and made me immediately take some tiny pill. My BP was abnormally high and I was given instructions to take readings twice a day for three days; noting three readings at each attempt. I don't think she expected me to last the day.

Later whilst at the pharmacy collecting my pills, I bought a new BP meter (above) which is very simple and efficient, and also cost peanuts. When demonstrating how to use it, the pharmacist saw my high readings, and even suggested I didn't drive home alone!

I'm pleased to say that my BP has now dropped dramatically; probably due to the combination of pill-taking, and less stress.

Anyway, as a result of my scare, I looked on the net for foods to reduce high blood pressure, and I immediately began an improved regime. I have naturally strong willpower, and will have no problem in giving up certain things that are obviously bad for me.

IN are one glass of wine in the evening instead of three, good quality dark chocolate, beetroot, bananas, oats, garlic, choucroute, lentils, yoghurt, and plenty of greens. Luckily all are to my taste, so no deprivation . 

OUT go salt, coffee, cheese, and too much fatty meat and charcuterie.

It's amazing what those pills and a sensible diet actually do. Back to normal again.

Saturday 9 November 2019

Inclement weather.

What does one do when it's raining all, and every, day? Pop down to see Grumsy, of course.

Boo Boo: Can we make some, erm, cakes?

Grumsy: What sort of cakes would you like?

Boo Boo: Biscuit cake.

Grumsy: Biscuits or Cake?

Boo Boo: Erm, gingerbread biscuits.

Grumsy: Gingerbread men or gingerbread women?

Boo Boo: Gingerbread birds.

So, they made gingerbread birds, men, stars, houses, unidentifiable objects, teddy bears, and fish. Some had chocolate buttons for eyes, and they all tasted very good.

Then he went back up to the barn very happy; clutching his bag of Biscuit cake.

Friday 8 November 2019

Oh no!

Decent wild mushrooms have been in short supply this year, especially our Cèpes which simply refused to grow (in this area). Omelets such as the above will NOT be appearing on our lunchtime tables this Autumn; unless there's a miracle.

I've recently found quite a few young Parasol Mushrooms (below), and have seen a handful of ordinary Field Mushrooms, but the more gourmet specimens have remained elusive.

If anyone tells you that Parasols can be confused with other mushrooms, this one is a classic example. There is no other wild mushroom that grows to this size, this one was 40 cms tall, and the cap 25 cms wide. A really delicious mushroom. Don't bother eating the stem.

Our area is best known for the Périgord Truffle, but it's the Cèpe that has the most influence on our local gastronomy, and a whole year of forced abstinence is akin to torture.

Of course, wise gourmets (such as ourselves) will have bottled plenty last year just in case of such a shortage, but nothing can replace that early morning trip to the woods with the anticipation of finding a good haul of fresh young Cèpes.

A few other favourites have recently popped up. Lady Magnon is our resident 'Oronge' finder, and yesterday she returned with just this one, above; we had it for our lunch. Amanita Caesarea was Caesar's favourite mushroom (as its name suggests) He was right, it is probably the finest of all. Sadly not too common.

As far as the Cèpes go, there's always next year!

Thursday 7 November 2019

Moving to London.


I would like to suggest that all UK school leavers, or graduates, go to live in London for a few years. Not Croydon or Pinner, but central London, where it all happens.

Personally I spent 6 months commuting before moving up to town. Those post-school six months of early trains and very late nights were debilitating. Once I'd found my first bed-sit (in Bayswater) my life changed dramatically, and in many ways I was obliged to become an 'adult'.

London is a great city, and being a part of it is an education in itself. I was lucky to have lived there in the mid to late 60's when 'Swinging London' was at its peak, but everyone's experience of London is wonderful, whenever they live there.

I met fascinating people, did amazing things, and experienced so much that would otherwise have passed me by. Not everything was 'positive'; I was mugged, given rubber cheques, and encountered some horrendous landlords, but generally life was good. Some of my greatest memories are of Sundays, when I would either cycle around town, take busses, or simply walk along the embankment.

Of my three children, just the two boys have lived in town. My oldest currently in Kensington, and my youngest recently in Holland Park. My daughter decided that Oz was more to her taste, and intends to remain there.

Education comes in two parts. Firstly it's all about Ox bow lakes, Latin verbs, and Pythagoras. Then later (and I think more importantly) it's all about LIFE; and learning about LIFE cannot be better accomplished than in that great institution called London.

Wednesday 6 November 2019

The great quandary.

                           Résultat de recherche d'images pour "boris johnson"

The increasingly popular Boris wanted a General Election; and he's eventually got it (Dec 12th). His Conservative Party will probably win; not necessarily because people love Boris, but because they detest Corbyn and his menacing Marxists.

Only those who like the idea of the UK becoming a latter day Venezuela will put their X anywhere near the Socialists.

However, this election really shouldn't be taking place without a prior 'deciding referendum' about bloody Brexit.

I never thought I'd say this, but, as an alternative I rather like Keir Starmer's proposal; which sadly would depend on a disastrous Labour Party election win. Starmer would re-negotiate Brexit terms with Brussels, hold a second referendum, then as a committed 'remainer'; vote against it. Corbyn,of course, would vote to for it. YOU work it out!

Personally I would like to see a 'remain' party win the election, but not at the expense of Socialism's mismanagement. Just imagine what the two major 'remain' parties would do to the poor UK's economy. It hardly bears thinking about.

Brexit really should have been SETTLED FIRST; and don't say I didn't tell you!

A Sylvan Encounter.

I was in the woods recently when I came across a portly Frenchman with a Gallic moustache, a very wide beret, and an even wider basket containing just two greeny-orange mushrooms.

"Any luck?" I asked.

"Too dry!" he replied knowingly.

"Yes, we could do with some rain" I said, even though I knew we'd had plenty in the past few days.

"Seen any of these about?" he asked me, holding one aloft.

"There's quite a patch of them down there" I said, pointing to a semi-overgrown path behind him.

He looked at me with an air of superiority, in that way that certain natives have of looking at aliens. Again he lifted one of the mushrooms from his basket, "What do you call these?" he asked, in a sneering fashion; obviously expecting me to shrug my shoulders and say "Dunno".

"Well" I began "Back in my own country they're known as Saffron Milk Caps (my translation may not have been 100% perfect), but personally I always call them 'Lactaires', after the Latin name of Lactarius deliciosus".

He looked at me with even more suspicion, and without saying another word, sloped off grumpily towards the path I'd indicated.

Hunters and mushroom gatherers mostly think they know more than anyone else about absolutely everything; this type of arrogance isn't restricted to Parisians; it's everywhere.

It was a good thing that I knew the mushroom's Latin name, otherwise he'd be dining-out on having met some idiot Englishman in the woods who knew nothing about edible mushrooms; which, here, is a mortal sin.

p.s. 'Lactaires' are nothing special, Lady M doesn't like then, so I never bother to pick any. He was welcome to them.

Tuesday 5 November 2019


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Mimi was (and probably still is) a right character!

Before finding himself back in his native Sud Ouest village, Mimi had worked in Paris at the infamous Alcazar Restaurant and Cabaret (above), where I believe he'd acted as both a server and drag act.

Mimi was as camp as a row of pink winceyette tents. He was tall, quite masculine looking, but with the mannerisms of Frankie Howerd.

Our first meeting was at a pop-up restaurant he started in an old barn, not too far from us. The food was average, he boasted of a resident poet in his kitchen, and egg throwing was a nightly sport. It was slightly unusual to say the least, and we returned quite often. He had a wonderful way of putting all the children at their own table and sitting down with them; cutting-up their meat, etc. Have you ever been to a restaurant like that? I think the Mayor of the village eventually kicked him out.

His second restaurant was quite different; we only went twice (twice was enough). We were served stinking Paté, Ecrevisses that were devoid of any flesh, and other courses that were equally disastrous. He also had some sort of ramshackle club in the cellar where, after we'd finished eating, he would perform outrageous drag acts; often falling over after too much wine. It was a total disaster, but he always had a group of followers; mostly unsavoury looking.

Poor Mimi, someone later burned his house down, and I think he moved away. I rather liked him, he was always brave and daring; and he considered that nothing was beyond his abilities (even if it was).

We may not have eaten terribly well Chez Mimi, but there was never a dull moment; and somehow that was far more important.

Monday 4 November 2019

A strange Sunday.

Yesterday we lit our first fire of winter 2019; even though it was still quite warm.

Why, you ask? Well, we had no power from 6 am to 5.30 pm.

I have no idea what caused the cut; probably a couple of wires that had come astray, and the bastard EDF failed to repair it for A WHOLE BLOODY DAY. So we lit the fire, and a dozen candles, just for the fun of it; and to amuse the children.

Also, it was a really foul day. Wind, Rain, and plague of Locusts; we had the lot.

Billy was a bit wary of the fire, and retreated to his bed in the kitchen. Come pukka Winter I expect he'll be curling-up in front of it. Time will tell.

The sitting room was sweltering; we had to open the door! 

More foul weather forecast for today, but my fingers are crossed that our electricity will remain ON.

Sunday 3 November 2019


Canvassing has already begun for the upcoming December 12th General Election.

This was filmed in Barnsley yesterday, as Labour try to quosh fears about their destructive policies.

Lady Quintella Thornsbury-Tiddle-Wynke was just out of shot, canvassing for the Tories.

Saturday 2 November 2019

MASH-UP: Trump’s al-Baghdadi Speech & Obama’s Bin Laden Speech

Even if you've already seen this, never mind; it's worth watching again.

Friday 1 November 2019

Oh dear; poor Billy.

Poor old boy, he's had a few strange days.

Firstly he was given a Penicillin pill instead of his Tick/Flea treatment pill; by mistake. He survived!

After that, his obsession with Cake resurfaced. This time he ate half a large Carrot Cake. Naughty.

Then recently Lady M was walking with him on his lead, when he went to say hello to a dog friend; a little dog we looked after for many years whenever his owner was away. The 'person' he was with, then kicked Billy; quite hard. Recently he was throwing stones at him, now it's kicking. After their death threats to poor old Bok, we've come to expect almost anything.

Billy shrugged off the attack, and we're being diplomatic about his attacker; these people need pity, not anger. I'm pleased to report that Billy's OK.

I repeat Kant's observation. 'You can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals'.

Proof (if needed).

It was a warm, dampish, dark evening, and distant Owls were being particularly vocal.

Suddenly we heard a slight rustle beyond the tower, then an eerie sound. We shivered and had a deep desire to bolt for the house and lock the door behind us, but we were welded to the ground with fear.  

The noise became louder, and soon we could see two terrifying figures emerge from the darkness. We clung together; shaking with fear. Death had come to life, and two unhappy souls now came slowly towards us.

"Don't harm us" I shouted. "I'm Type 2 Diabetic, and my wife has a Tarte Tatin in the oven".

"We wish you no harm" came the reply, in a voice that came directly from the underground. "In fact we've simply come for a slice of Pie".

"Oh you wags" I said, recognising a voice. "You had us completely fooled".

Boo Boo, you naughty boy!

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