Sunday, 9 August 2020

The early scrumper catches the Pear.



I have two Pear trees, both of which are pretty hopeless. The trees themselves simply refuse to grow, they look scabby, stunted, and their measly crops are usually bug infested. I think I will replace both with more predictable Apples or Plums.

Billy and I took a different route on our early morning walk yesterday, which, just by chance, went past a Pear tree that was already dropping fruit. I think it is probably a 'Conference' Pear; which I know fall from the tree when ripe. The ground was covered, I may take that same route again in a few days time, but with a plastic bag. 

I'd hate to see all that delicious fruit go to waste. 

On the other hand, this is the third such wheelbarrow load I've taken to the compost. Windfall unripe Bramleys, and Hornet attracting grapes.


Saturday, 8 August 2020

The fruit of my labour.


My oldest grandson, Harvey J, was born on 25th April 2006, and to celebrate his arrival I planted him a Plum tree on the afternoon of his birth.

The photo below was taken on 12th August 2014, when his tree produced it's very first really heavy crop. Lady Magnon, of course, made him a Plum Tarte Tatin.


This year we have another healthy bumper crop; almost similar to that of 2014. Sadly 'Suave Harve' isn't here to enjoy another Tatin, so we'll fill the freezer instead.


The Plums are smaller this year (no rain), but I'll get quite a few bags into the freezer.


And here's a Tatin that he's missing. Lady M secretly made this one whilst I was processing the fruit for next year's tarts.

Eat yer heart out Harv'.

A Move to the Country.



British online Estate Agents 'Purplebricks', along with 'Rightmove', have announced a definite trend to move from inner cities out into the countryside. They claim a 125% increase in moves.

They claim that COVID is mostly responsible for the transition, but I suspect there is more to it that just a fear of illness.

So many UK cities and towns are far too overcrowded. I haven't visited the UK myself for quite some while, but the first thing I always noticed after leaving the ferry at either Dover or Newhaven was the amount of traffic on the roads. One of the things I enjoy about living where I do, is that we have very little traffic. I can drive the 20 Kms to my preferred supermarket and encounter just one or two cars en route.

My oldest son, Kimbo, has recently moved from chic and expensive Kensington, to a very attractive village north-east of London. Now with a small garden, his quality of life instantly became better, and he is still only 30 miles from Trafalgar Square. His village contains beautiful old Pubs, good quality traditional shops, and a number of excellent restaurants of various ethnicities. He also already knows a number of his new neighbours. In other words his quality of life has improved many fold.

I have said many times that London still has a pull for me, but to live there I'd have to insist on certain things. First is that small Mews House in S Kensington (something similar to my illustration), with its own parking space or garage. Also I would definitely need a small country cottage in Sussex, where I could escape when London life became too overpowering. My only problem is that I don't have the few million smackers to buy into this type of lifestyle.

If anyone knows Mr Bezos, maybe you could mention my name.

Friday, 7 August 2020

Oh no!



Really, this is too much. 40 C again today; that's above human melting temperature. Yesterday's 35 C was bad enough.

I'm a Summer baby, so I should be used to warm weather, but anything over about 30 C I find energy sapping. My preferred temperature is around 25 C.

So, this is where we'll spend most of the day, in the cool of our auvent; handy for the Summer Fridge. We'll drink lots of cold water, cold beer rather than wine, and sit in the shade reading tales of Nanook of the North.


Our lawns have already turned beige and crunchy. Nothing is growing. We are desperate for rain; I can't remember the last time we had any.

So, if you don't hear from me, and a small pile of dry bones are found nearby, you'll know what has happened.

Thursday, 6 August 2020

A Simple Cure?



As far as I can see, most Hand Sanitisers contain just three very basic ingredients.

Isopropyl alcohol or Ethanol, Aloe Vera gel, and a dash of some pleasant smelling Essential Oil (mine above contains Green Tea). That's it.

Surely, if that's all it takes to destroy any Coronavirus on our hands externally, then it shouldn't be that difficult to destroy any internally as well.

The answer (obviously ) is to drink plenty of alcohol, chew Aloe Vera leaves, and dab essence of Green Tea behind your ears.  

There; that didn't take much working-out, did it!


Wednesday, 5 August 2020

Tomatoes.



My own crop of Tomatoes has been a disaster, so I was extremely happy when my lovely neighbour, L, said to fill my boots from her huge crop; she said I could take as many as I liked.

I took my big blue bucket, and filled it. I hardly touched the surface. Her crop is enormous, and her bushes filled from top to bottom. 

I decided to make just four jars of Ratatouille, and the rest plain Tomatoes. I may do another lot later on. 


It feels good to be filling the store cupboard again. Lockdown holds no fears when you have a cupboard filled with conserves.

Happy Birthday.


                                             

It's my late father's birthday today; he would have been 115 years old. My father is the smaller one on the left above, with his older brother.

So, Happy Birthday Papa. This is just to let you know that you're not forgotten.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Melbourne Ska Orchestra - The Best Things In Life Are Free


This is worth airing again. Great song, great band, and poor old Melbourne once more in the clutches of COVID.

Stay safe y'all, and enjoy the MSO.




Monday, 3 August 2020

Teaching.



I know there are several ex-teachers who read this page, and I salute them. Teaching isn't easy, and most teachers show extreme dedication to their profession.

I would never call myself a 'teacher', but I have taught in two schools and acted as visiting lecturer on a few other occasions.

My first teaching position, in a girl's private school, was a total waste of time. They wasted my time, I wasted the pupils time, and the whole department could have closed down and no-one would have noticed.

The fault lay with the head of department. A woman of retirement age, who considered cleanliness and tidiness to be far more important than quality of work. My hands were tied, and I became no more than a 'child-minder'. At the end of the year, the headmistress asked (almost begged) me to stay on, which I was prepared to do as long as the incumbent head of dep't retired, and I could totally transform it into something of which the school could be proud. The elderly spinster refused to quit; so I left.

The school was very well known, and many of the girls came from famous backgrounds; one was the daughter of the then Irish Prime Minister. It was St Trinians without the bad behaviour. Lacrosse, Hockey, and Greek dancing seemed to be the school's obsessions. There was even an outdoor amphitheater where the girls would prance about in 'ancient Greek pleated dresses' (imitating illustrations on an Etruscan vase) for the benefit of bored parents. It was all so old-fashioned, it was laughable.

My next position was a totally different affair. A co-ed Prep' school that after 'Dragon' was reputed to be the best in Britain. The whole atmosphere was one of relaxed gentility. The children were all charming, my fellow teachers all dedicated, and the all-round quality of education and extra-mural activities was without flaws. I loved being there, but my position was only for one year, to replace the regular teacher who'd taken a year off to attain the same qualifications that I already held.

During the Easter holidays I drove down through France, and bought a big old farm. My teaching career thus came to an end.

Sunday, 2 August 2020

Horta.



As an ardant vegetable grower, I have an almost endless selection of leafy greens at my disposal.

The Greek word 'Horta' has various meanings, but probably the best is just plain 'Greens' (A lady in Poros will correct me if I'm wrong). It is also one half of a semi-insulting Greek word for vegetarians, 'Hortafagos', meaning weed-eaters. Horta is in fact perfect for vegetarians, but it is also a standard dish in most Greek restaurants and households.

Originally the ingredients for this dish were collected from the wild. Unfortunately I'm not too au fait with wild greenery, so my own ingredients come from Haddock's. I could gather Nettles, Dandelions, and Sorrell, but I have better things to do.

My own version of Horta contains roughly equal amounts of Cavolo Nero, Swiss Chard, and perpetual Spinach, which are steamed together, allowed to cool, then served with fresh lemon juice and olive oil.

This may sound like wartime survival food, but believe me, it is delicious. Just add a Lamb chop, some quality sausage, or freshly grilled fish, and you have a gourmet meal.

The above was eaten last night with some fried smoked sausage and lightly spiced lentils.

Saturday, 1 August 2020

Cricket on the Lawn?



Actually he was sitting on Billy's Tennis ball launcher on our Bay tree.

We're a little too far north for that constant buzz of Cicadas; but we do have a few in the height of Summer. Otherwise we have plenty of Crickets, Grasshoppers of all sizes, Praying Mantis, and Stick insects.

The large Crickets are usually all-over green, but this one has an amazing coat of many colours. I think it may be a female which are bigger than the males.

What a lovely creature it is. Very friendly.

Friday, 31 July 2020

New and Improved!


                              

Certain jobs get put to the back of the queue, simply because they are either tiresome, or not overly urgent.

The pool gate was one such job. It started off as a piece of fencing which flew off the car roof-rack, had to be reassembled, then made to fit the hole left by the previous rotten one.

Since the above photo was taken it has been cut in two, had all its fittings attached, and given a really good coat of 'diesel oil' as a preservative. The top has also been rounded to give it a softer look.

Job done. What's next on the list?



It's hot.


                            Image may contain: food

We've having daytime temperatures around 35 C at the moment, which, frankly, is too hot for me.

All essential work is done in the mornings, anything not essential just has to wait. I'm on holiday. It's siesta time.

Everywhere is dry, dry, dry. Even watering does no good, the water evaporates far too quickly. We need rain.

Simple salads for lunch, and quick-n-easy dishes for supper; with plenty of 'Magnums' and swimming in between.

Tourists are everywhere, they stay up till 'all hours', shouting, laughing, and playing ghastly music.  Summer is with us, and occasionally it's all invasive.

Yesterday it was 39 C, and the air smelt as if it was about to catch fire. 39 C is the temperature at which humans melt.


Thursday, 30 July 2020

As dead as a 'Didus Ineptus'.



As I suspect with many others, my first introduction to the Dodo was via Lewis Carroll, and the illustrations of John Tenniel. Without knowing much about them, I was instantly fascinated by the their look; even if at the time I probably imagined they were fictitious. 

When much older I acquired an original 1791 edition of Oliver Goldsmith's 'History of the Earth and Animated Nature', in which Elias Martin's illustration was probably the one 'plagiarised' by Tenniel (above). I only have the one book from Goldsmith's series of eight; but I do have the most important one containing not only that illustration of the Dodo, but also of the Camelopard (at the time it was thought that the Giraffe was a cross between a Camel and a Leopard). My copy of the book is in a dreadful state, and as such is ripe for 'breaking', so as to frame the wonderful illustrations individually.

The poor Dodo's days were numbered as soon as it was first discovered. It had no natural predators, it couldn't fly, and when roasted would feed about 20 men. It didn't pay to be friendly with hungry sailors around.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Bradley Wiggins


Since 2012, when Bradley Wiggins first won a Tour de France, all subsequent tours, but one, have been won either by Brits, or in one case a member of the Brit team Sky/Ineos.

France, which is a country dedicated to cycling, is not happy; they expect a Frenchman to win. They spat at the Brit team riders, shouted nasty things at them, and even slapped them as they passed by.  The worst example of bad sportsmanship imaginable.

Normally on hot afternoons in July I tune in to watch the final 15-30 mins of each day's stage; it's a major part of my sporting year. This year the tour has been rescheduled to run from August 29th to September 20th (still not confirmed). My fingers are crossed, and I'm looking forward to it, but it won't be the same; a bit like watching a test match at Lord's over Christmas.



Sir Bradley is now retired, divorced, and going through the bankruptcy courts after having to pay his lovely ex all the rewards of his hard work.

I do hope someone will find him some paid work as a commentator.


Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Tis the season of.....



Pink Hibiscus,


and white Hibiscus....


and fabulous blood red Oleanders.

All beautiful flowers that, for me, are emblematic of the South of France. It was 37C when I took these photos yesterday afternoon; far too hot.

Monday, 27 July 2020

Somewhere to put my 2B pencils.


Buying clothes (or shoes) online, is fraught with danger. Your package could contain too small, too big, wrong colour, cheap and tacky, or just plain unlike anything you thought you'd ordered.

I needed a new 'working jacket'; something any self respecting painter could wear without feeling ashamed of him/herself.

I rather fancied a classic French Blue Workman's jacket; but in black. I couldn't find one, but I've seen them around, being worn; so they must be available somewhere.

What I did find was the below. A classic working man's jacket, made from heavy denim, and with plenty of pockets for pencils pens etc.


The jacket was originally priced online at €25, but had been reduced to about €10.50 including postage.

When it came to payment time it actually cost €7.50 including postage. A bloody bargain if ever there was one. 


I'm pleased to say, it's the perfect size, the quality is far better than I'd expected, and, look, it even has a little fancy lining inside the top.

I can still hardly believe that it turned out so well. It came from that well known French Maison de haute couture, Kiabi (ahem). It didn't say where it was made, but I have my suspicions.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

You'll like this!


This is fun for the first forty seconds.... I wouldn't bother after that!



Saturday, 25 July 2020

Haddock's, July 2020



Everything is so dry, and poor old Haddock's is suffering. I water a bit every morning, but what it really needs is a good overnight downpour. Nothing on the horizon as yet; just more temps around 30 C.


Still, it is now providing all the vegetables we need, and will continue to do so until about next March. 

Of the veg's we are currently eating, there are Onions, Carrots, Courgettes, Peppers, Aubergines, Beans, and the first few leaves of Spinach. 


Our winter leafy greens are doing very well. I have put in plenty of Cavolo Nero, Swiss Chard, and Perpetual Spinach. Pumpkins and Squashes are also doing well.

As my winter bottling mostly resembles different forms of Ratatouille, I will soon have to buy several kilos of Tomatoes. Mine have yet again been a total disaster.

The weeds are mostly under control.

Friday, 24 July 2020

What's for supper?



I never mention what I'm preparing for supper, I simply try to cook a variety of dishes that I know we both like.

However, at some point in the late afternoon Lady Magnon invariably asks "What's for supper?"

And here is the fun bit. I never reply 'Beans on toast', or 'Sausage-n-mash', but attempt to make whatever we're having sound as exotic and appetising as possible.

Take last night for example. Following her standard question, I replied "Tonight we are visiting the Mediterranean shores of Italy; somewhere just south of Rome, where the local gaily dressed fishermen are singing traditional old sea shanties as they land their night's catch. Meanwhile, on the fertile inland wheat-growing plains, grand-mamas are busily hand-forging the finest flour into a delicious accompaniment. All to be served with a very pleasant, expertly matured, Merlot from the Languedoc". 

"Something like sardines on toast?" she asked.

"No dear, we're having spaghetti with a delicious creamy seafood sauce". I reply grumpily.

This happens every single day in this house. I'm not kidding, it really does!

Thursday, 23 July 2020

Lost s/p; re-found.




I was sent this picture yesterday, as a birthday card. I hadn't seen it for decades.

How young I look, and how neat-n-tidy; not at all like me these days. And where's that scruffy beard?

Yes folks, I was once almost respectable looking. I'm not sure quite what exercise I was setting myself, but I still have the tie.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Happy Birthday


Today is my birthday; when I look at the new number, it makes me feel very, very, old. I'm not sure if I'll do anything special later, I may just try to forget about it. HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me!

Perhaps I'll treat Lady Magnon to Steak, Chips, and a bottle of P├ęcharmant, at my favourite local restaurant. I'll have to celebrate somehow.



Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Oh So Slow.



Over the past couple of weeks, my laptop had become unbelievably slow; it was almost like going back to the days of 'Dial-up'. Lady M (who had become increasingly bored with my constant moaning) suggested that it was because so many holidaymakers had come here with their laptops, iPads, etc, and that as we are at the end of the line, it was inevitable.

I was neither convinced, nor happy.

Rather than call on my tech-wizard friend Craig, I thought I'd throw caution to the winds and have a look 'inside' by myself.

I found all sorts of rubbish, which I uninstalled, and 'Lappy' is now back to 'normal' speed. 

For reference this is what I did: First I opened 'Settings', then clicked on 'Apps, uninstall etc', then searched through all the unwanted stuff that seems to have installed automatically over the past 6 months or so. Some of them, such as 'Candy Crush Something' contained hundreds of Mb's and were blocking the system. I cleared out loads of stuff. You simply click on the App, then click on uninstall.

Of course you can't just delete any old thing, just stuff that you know isn't essential to the running of your machine. If you can't differentiate, it's probably best to have someone with you who knows what's what.

Now my laptop is a pleasure to use again. I had become so frustrated, that I'd seriously considered buying a whole new machine, so I've saved myself a few hundred quid!

It's probably not a bad idea to see what's lurking, even if your machine is working OK.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Car Tyres.



I'm not at all a 'petrol head', but I was shocked to see the size of the tyres on my son Kimbo's car. They are massive.

Having just last week changed all four tyres on my own car (The Compact Royce), I thought I'd have a butchers' online to see how much HIS would cost.

For decent tyres (Michelin) they cost €249.64 EACH. That's well over €1,000 for the four when you include fitting, etc; possibly even as much as €1,500.


Mine, however, cost just €129.68 for the FOUR tyres themselves, and a bit more for fitting etc, making a total of  €212.52. All four fitted, balanced, etc, for less than the price of ONE of his.

I am perfectly aware that the two cars hardly compare, but over a 'grand' just to replace the tyres does seem a tad excessive. I hope he looks after them!

Sunday, 19 July 2020

Whose chubby little fingers are these?



                                                             
Clues.

1. He's a household name.

2. His Mum is very famous too.

3. He's my 28th or 29th cousin (apparently).

4. His wife's son writes about cookery.

5. He is a great advocate of bio culture.

6. His favourite meat is Welsh Lamb.

7. He insists on having his morning eggs boiled for exactly 7 minutes.

8. He runs his cars on Bio-Fuels made from English wine.

9. He has two well known sons.

10. And lastly, he has fingers that look like a pound of cheap Pork Sausages.

Who is he?..... Too easy, I know!

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