Friday 31 January 2020

'Borrowed' socks.

I think I've posted this photo before, but not in relation to today's subject.

When I left school I remember packing away all my stuff. I had managed to acquire all sorts of things that made study-life reasonably pleasant; a comfortable wing-back chair, a toaster that actually worked, a set of Sherry glasses, etc; none of which I either wished to keep, or could possibly have transported to my home.

Only my clothes and some sporting kit went back with me, but in amongst all the other rubbish, I later discovered that I'd inadvertently added a pair of socks that weren't mine. They belonged to the small boy in the top row on the far left of the photo.

His name was B (Brian) C Ockelford, and his name tapes had been carefully sown into each of the two grey woolen socks.

They must have been very good quality socks as they lasted for many years.... not that I wore grey woolen socks that often. I'm not totally sure, but I think I eventually put them away somewhere, and may still have them.

Looking at the photo again made me smile, as it did every time I wore his socks with his name sown into them; which I'd deliberately left in situ.  

I recently read somewhere that he'd died, and I felt strangely guilty.

Thursday 30 January 2020

Volkswagen Sausages.

Did you know that Volkswagen made sausages? No, nor did I.

And yes, I do occasionally eat such sausages with Choucroute, but I never buy them with 'Originalteil' written on the casings; which I believe could translate as 'Original Spare Parts'. Whatever next!

Wednesday 29 January 2020


I really hate it when birds fly into our windows. I heard a thump yesterday, then found this little guy on the ground looking dazed.

I picked him up, looked him over, then after chatting with him for a while I put him in the Greengage tree.

He stayed there for a while in the sunshine, looking around, then after about 15 minutes he flew off; probably with a headache.

I'm not sure what variety he is; a Serin maybe. Fare ye well little guy.

Tuesday 28 January 2020

The human cost of 'food fads'.

The picture above may represent many people's idea of healthy foods, but although each element is healthy in itself; overall it seems to be causing problems.

It is now claimed that ONE IN FIVE people in the UK are suffering from gut problems; all due to their 'healthy' diets. Why, I wonder, was I not surprised by this?

Overzealous healthy eating has caused a massive emergence of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). It's mostly younger people who follow online, unqualified, 'food gurus', and their recommended trendy eating diets of 'clean ingredients', who are falling victims to this sudden outburst.

Nut milks, too many Avocados, and exotic grains beans and nuts, are all accounting for this epidemic of gut problems. 

Time now to abandon such trends, and return to the wisdom of our elders and eat a little of everything (The Great Gran Diet). Variety is the answer.

Drinking a pint of liquified Broccoli and Turmeric for breakfast every day may sound like a good idea, especially if accompanied by photos of radiant, slim, and beautiful, bikini-clad-young-women, but don't be surprised if you spend the rest of the day either in the loo, or at the doctor's. 

Beans on toast, bacon and eggs, or kedgeree once in a while, is now recommended.

Monday 27 January 2020

THAT Chair.

It was a lovely day on Saturday, so I decided to tackle that old chair I found. I'd previously thought it was made from Oak, but now I think it's Chestnut.

I stripped off all the old seating (and burnt it), glued a couple of bits that needed gluing, then found this number.

173324 is stamped onto the back.... any ideas?

Lady M said it must have been made in a factory, but I'm certain it's an amateur job. I do know that prisoners made chairs up until quite recently, so I'm wondering if that could be the answer.

I would liked to have imagined it was made on the 17th of March 1924.... but the 33 (and not 03) rules that out.

Sunday 26 January 2020

Learning to use machinery.

The photo above shows the workshop at the Art College where I did my one year 'Foundation Course', before going on to my degree course elsewhere.

I attended four different Art Colleges in all, but the one above was probably where I learned the most; and most of that was learnt in this workshop.

It was where we learned how to use dangerous heavy machinery; the sort where one wrong move, and you could lose a hand.

There were all sorts of saws, drills, welding kits (both gas and electric), sanding machines, metal benders, plastic vacuum formers; you name it, it was there. It was noisy and dirty, and even turning some of the machines on was quite intimidating to some of the more 'delicate' students.

The workshop was where we learned about 'possibilities'; how one could transform one object into another. We also learned how to do so with the least amount of danger.

Looking at the picture reminds me of one particular event. My good friend Tony needed to weld something on his motorbike. He brought the bike into the workshop, laid it down on the ground, and started to weld as petrol dripped from the tank just a foot or so away. As you might imagine there was a huge rush for the exit as we all awaited the inevitable huge explosion. 

Somehow he got away with it.

Saturday 25 January 2020


We've recently had our final delivery of the Winter; I reckon we've now got enough Oak (above) for about 3 years. 

And enough Chestnut (above) for about 2 years. There's more to the left; that's about two thirds of it.

I'm so lucky that my two pukka farming neighbours cut wood annually. I buy the Oak from one and the Chestnut from the other; always really dry wood that comes in one metre lengths.

It's a great feeling, having a stock of wood for years ahead, as well as a chainsaw that works well. With two wood-burning devices in the house; we need it!

Friday 24 January 2020

New 'Expressions' of our age.

New expressions, to be worth their salt, should be short, distinct, and instantly meaningful.

One of my previous favourites was the two word, computer-associated expression 'User Friendly'. It summed-up all one needed to know.

My current favourite is 'Virtue Signalling'. A fairly recent expression credited to Spectator writer James Bartholomew in 2015, meaning an overt conscious expression of moral values; usually by do-gooding, PC, snowflakes.

From the Extinction Rebellion folk, to Greta Thunberg, to those who constantly shout 'racism', to the current army of Vegetarians and Vegans; they all are guilty.

We are being bombarded by other people's 'holier than thou' morals, whereas once we kept things to ourselves, and quietly got on with the job of doing rather than simply espousing.

Even so, I do like the expression, as it speaks clearly of its meaning. Whether I like the attitude or not, is another matter.

Thursday 23 January 2020

L'huile de noix des bons vivants - Terroirs de gueuletons

Here we are, back in 'my neck of the woods', in Périgord Noir. Those bons vivants Arthur and Vincent visit a small nearby 12th C Walnut oil mill; eat a bit, drink a bit, and marvel at their surroundings.

Ah, que la vie est belle.

I'm sure that the giant dumpling (Mique) that was shown, must have been introduced by the Brits during the 100 years war. It's good, but sits very heavily on the stomach!! I can't imagine it having been invented by the French.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Proof; if needed.

I recently wrote about the disgusting habit 'travellers' have, of tipping rubbish all around where they stop for a while (until being kicked out).

You will notice in the above photo of me and a couple of my children, sitting in a friend's old Irish Lot wagon, that there is not a single sweet wrapper on the ground; no different to around my own home, a few metres away.

The owners of the above wagon stayed with us for about a month. Their horse 'Joe' ate our grass, and the owners helped around the place, before heading off again for the south coast where they eventually sold the whole caboodle.

When they left, the field I'd lent them was spotless, and being such tidy folk they'd found absolutely no problem finding other places to stay every night on their way down.

Not something one could say about the white van and caravan brigade!

Tuesday 21 January 2020

Auld Hemp.

This dog above is a distant relative of Billy's.

1893 was a significant year in the canine/agricultural worlds. It was the year when Auld Hemp was born, and his birth changed Sheep-farming for ever.. 

Bred by Adam Telfer in Northumberland, he was the first pukka Border Collie (Northumberland is on the 'border' between England and Scotland; hence the name). He was also the first sheepdog who followed orders precisely (or could be trained to do so).

Auld Hemp died back in May 1901 aged 7, but his progeny live on. 

Border Collies are fast becoming one of the most popular pet dogs. Previously Labs were No 1, but I've noticed over the past few years that, in adverts, Border Collies are appearing more often than Labs. Our Billy has a lot to live up to.

This was him playing in the sun yesterday. One thing he certainly hasn't learned from his glorious ancestor, is how to sit still for a bloody photograph. I despair.

Monday 20 January 2020

'Me too'.

I was reading that the UK's famous 'left-wing comedian' Frank Skinner had recently consciously avoided helping an attractive young woman at an airport who was obviously struggling with her heavy suitcase. He was worried that it could be seen as harassment, and wreck his career. It reminded me of an incident several years ago.

I was on my way (alone) shopping when I came across a car by the side of the road; a woman was standing by looking at a flat tyre. Although I didn't know her, I recognised the woman as being from my village.

Of course I stopped and offered to help, and after about 20 minutes managed to replace her wheel, and send her on her way.

So, would I do the same thing today? If I was by myself (as I had been) CERTAINLY NOT; I would drive straight past. However, if Lady Magnon was with me I might, even though doing such things these days is not as easy for me as it once was.

The 'Me too' movement has made men think again about chivalry; whereas once we would not hesitate about helping a damsel in distress, these days you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who would.

Personally I find this very sad. I'm sure the 'Me too' founders didn't foresee this, but it's a natural consequence of what they started. As we all know, accusations against innocent men for the most innocuous of actions has now become endemic; not unlike mentioning the name of a certain 'Duchess' and being instantly accused of 'racism'.

Being caring towards women is sadly something we men are no longer permitted to do (you'd do so at your peril), and most men will be sympathetic with Frank Skinner's reluctance.

A modern by-product, of an otherwise very good cause.

Welcome to the 21st Century.

Sunday 19 January 2020

The Sunday Story: Cro Meets John, and Sells Out.

In 1967 I was running a small antiques business in London's Chelsea. I dealt in rare early European wood carvings; mostly polychromed religious artifacts (that no doubt had at some time been 'rescued' from abandoned or bombed-out churches). Angels, Cherubs, Saints; all manner of imagery passed through my hands. My only criterion was that it was old, beautiful, and either French Spanish or Italian.

One lunch-time a youngish man came into the shop, gasped, gasped again, and then asked if I would kindly NOT SELL ANYTHING until he returned about an hour or so later.

I agreed to his strange request (I'd never been asked that before), and he returned as promised after about two hours.

The man was an Italianate-American, and he proceeded to buy EVERYTHING I had; it seemed as if my taste was his taste. He explained that he was working temporarily in London, and he didn't want to take money back home. He wanted to buy things... Antiques... My Antiques.

He was renting a small cottage in Chelsea, about two hundred yards from the shop. An exclusive little property in a highly desirable street. We took all his purchases back by taxi, and unloaded them into his kitchen, where, on the table I was slightly perturbed to see a Thompson Machine Gun!

I hadn't yet been paid, so I began to worry. Then a small boy entered the room (he was introduced as Nick) and asked 'Have you been shot yet daddy?'.

I became even more worried. Then the man explained that he was actually over in London making a film. I asked the obvious question, and his reply was 'The Dirty Dozen'.

He paid me in cash, and we half-heartedly arranged to meet-up for a beer in the near future (which never happened; I was too busy), and that was the last I saw of him.

I saw the film 'The Dirty Dozen' a few years later, and discovered my young Italio-American to be John Cassavetes. In my ignorance, I'd not previously heard of him.

I often wonder if he kept the antiques that I sold him, or simply cashed-in back in the US, and made a quick profit. Somehow I imagine that his son Nick still has them. I'd certainly like to think he does.

Cassavetes was a really nice guy. No airs or graces, no big movie star rubbish, just a guy who loved antique wood carvings. As for me, I had no more stock.... nothing to sell, so I quit the antiques business and went to college. I just wish I'd made time to have a few beers with him, but as he later died of cirrhosis; maybe it was good that I didn't.

I don't know the date of the photo above, but that's EXACTLY how I remember him.

Saturday 18 January 2020

Travellers fly-tipping TONS of household and building waste on Tesco car park.

I suppose there are two things that I hate almost more than anything else; cruelty to animals, and fly-tipping.

For those who are unaware, the UK has two lots of laws; one for those who live 'regular lives', and another for 'travellers'.

I don't know quite why it should be, but 'travellers' seem incapable of pitching camp on any village green, cricket ground, or supermarket car park, without leaving behind an unbelievable amount of rubbish.

They stop wherever they please, behave like pigs, and dump vast amounts of rubbish.

If I had my way, this bastard below would be strung-up by his 'nuts'.

What a disgusting individual.

Friday 17 January 2020

Labour Leadership.

I must admit to having become quite perturbed that the Socialists were going to elect a new leader who might actually have brought them back from the wilderness. For a while Sir Keir Starmer looked to be leading the list of hopefuls, and it seemed as if common sense had prevailed; not something we expect from Labour.

Luckily, dear reader, I now hear that Rebecca Long-Bailey has crept into a 5 point lead, and it's back to normal. 

A die-hard Corbynite (she's backed by Momentum, John McDonnell, and Diane Abbott), if elected she will follow the same crack-pot policies of her predecessor; many of which she herself devised for their last year's Party Manifesto. She might have nicer hair than Corbyn, but her crazy version of hard-left Marxism/Socialism is exactly the same.

Phew; for one nasty moment I thought they were trying to make themselves electable again.... thank heavens I was wrong!

I do hope she wins the leadership race. Don't let me down Rebecca!

Thursday 16 January 2020

Fiddling on the Roof.

Lady Magnon has been following a particular play on TV, and she was extremely annoyed when our Satellite TV failed. It looked for a while as if she would miss her final revealing episode.

There were nasty storms in the UK, and we did think it might have been related, but I asked around and others had no problem with their Sky reception.

So, we started to hunt for the problem. We started with all the connections at the back of the various boxes; nothing. We re-wired certain bits that looked as if they needed re-wiring; nothing.  Next we went up onto the roof to check that the dish hadn't moved; all looked OK.

Then Wills (my youngest) asked if there were any connectors between the dish and the Sky box; yes there were TWO. The coaxial cable was in three separate bits, connected by two lots of connectors; the first one was fine, but the second one was found to be totally corroded; we'd found the problem. We didn't have any spare connectors so Wills fiddled with the wires, twisting them together in a Heath Robinson fashion. It worked. We'll fix it properly later!

Amazing, isn't it; the very last thing that could possibly have been at fault, and there it was!

Wednesday 15 January 2020

The Repair Shop 'sic'.

Whilst taking my rubbish to the bin yesterday, I noticed a filthy wooden object lurking amongst the greenery.

As is my wont, I had a look and found it to be a very solid antique chair.

OK, it has one bit that requires some glue, the wood needs cleaning and polishing, and the seat requires some imagination (above). But that's it.

Whilst looking at it more closely I see that it is made of Oak (unusual for here), it has a bowed front, and some very pleasant simple carving at the top of the back. It's a very nice rustic chair.

I couldn't resist cleaning one little bit, just to see what was underneath all that grime. I reckon it'll come-up a treat!

No doubt it's already been replaced by some plastic tat from Chair-u-Like!

Tuesday 14 January 2020

My right hand man.

I always know when cold weather is on the way, because Lady Magnon sits by the fire with her crochet hook and balls of wool.

The subject of her ambitions, this time, was Boo Boo. She was convinced that he needed a bright green mitten.

She looked at her wool for a while, devised a plan, then didn't stop until the thing was complete.

OK, it might look a bit 'interesting', but, I'm assured, the next one (if she makes a next one) should be better.

I asked Boo Boo if he wanted the other one to be the same bright green; he said no, he wanted it to be blue. Lady M refused; she only has bright green wool.

Monday 13 January 2020

Tree planting.

As regular readers of this page will be aware, I have always planted a tree on the very day of my grandsons births (as well as on other notable occasions). It has always seemed an appropriate thing to do.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw that my départment (county) is to adopt a similar scheme, by offering a free tree to the parents of every new-born child within our area. Well done to whoever thought-up this wonderful idea (me?).

I, of course, always plant fruit trees, but, by the look of it, our départment will include all sorts.

Sunday 12 January 2020

Simple Veggie Supper.

Having a few Veggies around is good for practicing my skills. We still do try to eat Veggie at least once a week (often more), but usually it's pasta based.

I tend to stick to things I know, and last night I stuffed some peppers, aubergines, and endive (chicory), with brandade (mashed potato, salt-cod, garlic, olive oil). Above was the pre-cooking stage.

Of the three different vegetables, the peppers were unquestionably the best. They are bottled Spanish piquillos and lend themselves to the process extremely well. The aubergine and the endive were also very good, but lacked the essential tartness of the preserved peppers.

If you have Veggies coming for supper; I recommend. Simple and delicious. With our wood-fired cooker (George) on the go, it made us feel extremely virtuous.

Saturday 11 January 2020

The Firm.

Without question, a certain amount of rot has set-in amongst the minor members of our Royal Family, luckily by-passing the direct line of descendents who are really all the country either needs or desires; the Queen herself, her oldest son, her oldest grandson, and her oldest great-grandson (as in the picture above). The line of succession is assured, and all behave as one would hope and expect.

I suppose it all started with Edward VII and Mrs Simpson. A pushy American divorcee was too much for sedate Britain. He abdicated, and they eventually fled to live in Paris.

Many years later Ferguson and Spencer both threw petrol on the fire, and in recent times Andrew hasn't exactly helped matters. The saga of Harry and Meghan is simply another demonstration of this inability to behave correctly. 

Harry and Edward have much in common. Neither was blessed with great intellect, both married American divorcees, and both demonstrated an incapacity to cope with their lofty birthright positions.

As I predicted at the time of their marriage, Harry and Meghan will soon be off to live in some erstwhile glitzy 'Hollywood', where their talents will be more appreciated. She will possibly return to soap opera TV, and poor Harry will have to find his true place in society, either constantly appearing on chat shows, or maybe even 'finding a job'! 

Personally I don't think Meghan ever had any intention of staying in the UK. She's married her Prince, ensured her position in life, and will now settle down to the status she's always coveted, back in the USA.

I don't think they'll be greatly missed. Liz, Charlie, Wills, and little George, will look after the firm's affairs perfectly well without them.

Friday 10 January 2020

Bugger, bugger, bugger!

I've always had a horror of becoming one of those old men with a bent back and walking stick; it always looks so undignified.     

One doesn't like to complain, but I fear I may now be heading that way. Bad backs (like bad knees) are notoriously difficult to mend, and there's little point consulting a doc'. You take a painkiller (if you can be bothered), and hope for the best.

I'm pretty sure that my problem was self-inflicted through bravado. If you are known for having played Rugby, and Rowing 8's, you can never be seen to be weak; and you end-up doing silly things. I was always lifting weights well above the 'elf-n-safety' regs.

So, now it's payback time, and I have permanent pain in my lower back. No doubt certain vertebrae are rubbing together and causing jip. I have the beginnings of a 'stoop', simply because to stand up straight is far too painful.

Living out in The Styx, most of what I do involves heavy physical work, which doesn't help matters. Carrying any reasonable weight is pain inducing. Recently, I've not even looked forward to my morning walks with Billy; something unimaginable only a few months ago.  

Occasionally a push button, couch-potato world seems quite inviting; but I ain't giving-up just yet.

Having said all that, I've recently had a short period of slightly painless days. I wish I knew how the change from pain to no pain occurs; if it's a matter of avoiding certain movements, I'd love to know!

Thursday 9 January 2020

Heating old stone.

Old stone houses, with thick walls, are not easy to heat. They are not designed to be plumbed for central heating; they were built to be heated by fire.

Our cottage is a good example. It would have been impossible to install hot-water radiators throughout, unless one didn't mind seeing the bare-bones copper piping running all over the walls; which I wasn't.

So, we needed to look at how people coped 300 years ago when the house was built, then adapt to today's kit.

The fire in the sitting room speaks for itself, but we have changed from an open spark-spitting fire to an enclosed wood-burner (Gilbert) simply for safety reasons, although I must say I did prefer the way it used to be. I usually light Gilbert at about 4.30 pm.

In the kitchen we have 'George'; our wood-fired cooker. He often stays alight through the night, and I simply have to throw another log on when I get up (as I did yesterday morning). When lit, we use the oven as much as possible. George is very efficient, he produces a lot of heat for comparatively little wood.


I rise quite early each morning, usually at 5.30 am, and in winter I simply light a small oil-filled heater to bring the temperature quickly up to 'acceptable'. It's quick, convenient, and efficient; if not particularly attractive. The above is brand new.

Then upstairs we heat with electricity. A couple of oil-filled electric heaters are connected to simple plug-in timers, and turn on and off as desired, automatically; we also have a wonderful new electric blanket on the bed which is pure luxury.

We've already had a couple of nights of -2 C; still not really cold, but enough to light George. February is usually our coldest month, and heating will be at full blast for about a month. As long as we have enough wood, and there are no serious power cuts, we should be OK.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

The world on fire!

This shocking aerial photograph shows the extent of the fires in Australia;

and here is another map showing further current fires throughout the world.

Across huge swathes of Africa, South America, and many other countries, it seems as if almost everywhere is on fire.

No doubt 'Global Warming' is to blame (amongst a mixture of causes); but whether the world can do anything to halt it, I'm not so sure.

As long as the world exists (and has existed) there will be periods of extreme heat and extreme cold. The last Ice Age (The Last Glacial Maximum) was as recently as 22,000 years ago.

There have been 5 documented Ice Ages during the 4.6 Billion years since the Earth was formed. Being aware of world pollution levels might help slow our present phase of warming a tiny bit; but it certainly won't halt it.

As Canute so wisely demonstrated; secular power is helpless in the face of the supreme power of nature (God).

Tuesday 7 January 2020

It's all very worrying.

I am no expert on the 'war crimes' of Mr Soleimani who was recently killed by the Americans, but I have to accept what I read, and am certain that he was NOT a pleasant man.

So I was extremely saddened by the sight of so many, who fled their Middle Eastern countries to live a better/safer life in the UK, gathering in Maida Vale, London, in order to mourn his passing. The Imam claimed Soleimani to be a 'martyr', and someone whose aims were to 'aspire to'. No doubt such gatherings were held at numerous other centres across the country.

Many from the Middle East had fled to the UK specifically to escape the likes of Soleimani & Co, and, now, to see those same people mourn his passing, and threaten the US, is something of an anomaly.

Under my recent title of 'New Year Resolutions for 2020' I was going to add my hopes for an end to the hatred that exists in the 'them and us' culture that is spreading across the UK and mainland Europe, but this just demonstrates how far we have to go.

Such rapprochement cannot simply be one-sided. We need compromise, understanding, and friendship on both sides. The prisons of Iran are filled with innocent young men and women who face daily torture, rape, and eventual execution as a result of Soleimani's brutal regime. Maybe those who now mourn his death should be grateful that they managed to find refuge in a more liberal UK.

Regardless of the rights or wrongs of killing Soleimani, his death can only help create a greater divide; if not eventually a full-blown war!

Having seen the attitude (on either side) towards his death, it is not impossible to imagine revenge spreading to the streets of Europe.

Boris, Macron, and Merkel, have all asked for calm..... let's hope Trump is listening. We all remember the legacy of Bush and Blair.

Addendum: This morning I hear that the Maida Vale centre is to be 'investigated'.

Monday 6 January 2020

Forbidden fruit.

I'm sure we've all had Liqueur Chocolates in our times, but I'd never before come across these.

Young Wills recently gave these to Lady Magnon, and they are quite superb.

Beautifully presented, they are made from really good quality dark Chocolate, with a genuinely delicious 'Williams' Pear Liqueur filling; not at all like those horrid things, with crystallised sugar inside, that were handed out in the 50's and 60's.

Such things tend only to appear at Christmas, so I shall hunt around and (if I find them) buy a good supply. It would be worth it; one of these a day would be perfect.

Any port in a (sunny) storm.

This is a strange place. We never know what we're going to find in the garden. Occasionally you look out from your front door, and there's some bloke sitting down outside, enjoying the sunshine with his dog.

I'm not sure why, but he had decided to sit down for a while on our terrace, and admire the view.

I do know who he is; he's our erstwhile 'neighbour' Maurice. He's quite a character. He used to live in a caravan inside an old tobacco barn, but he's recently gone up in the world, and has bought himself a plastic cottage (a sort of large plastic Wendy House), that used to be on a nearby holiday camp. 

We get on very well, but he must have had a stroke at some time, and his speech has been affected quite badly; he's very difficult to understand. I tend to do all the talking when we're together, otherwise I keep having to ask him to repeat himself.

His dog is a beautiful big German Shepherd.

I left him alone; I was busy, and didn't really want to spend half an hour chatting. He seemed very happy by himself. About 20 mins later I noticed that he'd upped and gone.

He's always very welcome to sit here a while. I think he likes the view; it's one of the best in the village!.

Sunday 5 January 2020

Sir Edward Lear.

Lear is probably best known for his 'Nonsense Poems', but he was also a very fine draughtsman and painter.

In the mid-60's I managed an Art Gallery in London's Devonshire Street, and amongst our small stock of Lear's drawings and watercolours were several plain pencil sketches, from the mid-1800's, such as the above.

In those days Lear's drawings fetched far more if coloured than in plain pencil or pen, and most of ours were sent down to a man in Dorking Surrey (Bob someone) who would add muted watercolour highlights to otherwise planer work. 

I remember thinking at the time that this was some sort of sacrilege, but my boss insisted.

I do wish I'd bought some of them, but I think the same about many of the works that passed through my hands. I should have thought about it at the time; too late now.

p.s. This same Bob in Dorking would 'paint out' Cows from Victorian landscapes for us; they just weren't fashionable. He was very good at it too.

Saturday 4 January 2020

New Year Resolution for 2020.

This resolution is not for me, but for certain others!

I am sick to death of those who are permanently looking for people to HATE. Hatred really is no answer to lack of financial, social, or political advancement in life (or whatever their hang-up may be). The only solution for failure, is either blind acceptance, or a determination to succeed.

The UK is particularly guilty of 'blame culture'; always blame everyone else for your own shortcomings, never yourself.

So to the hate merchants, may I suggest you try doing totally the opposite. Try helping an elderly lady across the road, or walking a dog for someone who's incapacitated, or even simply doing some shopping for the housebound instead. You'd find it much more satisfying; and people might even begin to like you!

Let's make 2020 the year of reality-checks, when people begin to accept that the only person to blame for their situation is themselves; and not the 'rich', 'royalty', the 'Tories', the 'middle classes', the 'bankers', the 'educated', or the imaginary 'Bilderberg-billionaires who control the world'.

Such overt hatred is a relatively new phenomenon, and if not checked will destroy the lives of the very purveyors themselves; if not the whole country.

p.s. I should add, that the love of hatred and conflict is not exclusive to the UK; but it does seem to be more concentrated there!

Friday 3 January 2020

RIP's of 2019.

For me personally, the most important death of 2019 was that of my dog Bok, and I make no apology in mentioning him yet again

I have no idea if he'd been in pain or discomfort, but he showed no sign of either. On the morning of the day he died, he had wet his bedding, and I remember him looking at me as if to ask forgiveness; of course I'd happily let him wet his bed every day if he'd come back to me. RIP my lovely Bok.

My annual list can never be complete, but throughout the year I do note down the names of certain passings that grab my attention. Here are a few of those who left us this last year.

Actors Doris Day, Albert Finney, William Simons (Ventress), and Freddie Jones,

Luminaries Jonathan Miller, Clive James, David Bellamy, and Brian Walden.

Musicians Ginger Baker, and Keith Flint.

Also worthy of note are chef Gary Rhodes, annoying pundit John McCririck, car driver Niki Lauda, and politician Jacques Chirac.

I would also like to remember the tragic London Bridge killings of Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt. Two deaths that should have been avoided.

Finally, from my favourite Cricket era (the early 80's) we say goodbye to England captain Bob Willis.

All deaths are important, but we tend only to notice the 'celebs'. So, RIP to all those who departed this last year, whoever they were.

Thursday 2 January 2020

Winter Vegs.

I'd almost given up all hope of my late-planted Cauli's bearing offspring, but here is the first of my winter crop.

It may be small but it's perfect. I've had a good delve beneath their leaves, and the other plants (about 7) all contain lovely crisp white heads too. 

The above was put into our yesterday's lunchtime soup, and because it was probably too young to harvest, it became amazingly tender (too much so). I'll now have to think of different things to do with the rest.

Wednesday 1 January 2020

What all Grandparents need.

Grandparents, of course, need Grandchildren who are pleasant to have around; otherwise the rest of this can be ignored.

Grandparents needs to be patient and generous, not only with money, but with time. They need to be amusing, encouraging, and, probably most importantly, flattering.

They need wisdom and fine pedagogical skills. They need to allow freedom as well as instill discipline.

All Grandchildren need to feel important, and this is an essential job for Grandparents; their actual parents often don't have the time; or simply forget.

A Grandfather needs to be bold, courageous, and dashing; he must never show fear. A Grandmother should be slightly rounded, warm, and cuddly; someone you run to when things aren't going too well.

HE should show his Grandchildren how to sharpen a stick, release a fish from a hook, and shoot a can off a fence. SHE should teach them all about weights and measures, as they watch how to bake cakes, mince pies, and biscuits.

A Grandfather should spell danger; a Grandmother at the ready with plasters and Dettol.

Both should be prepared to send the little darlings home when tiredness sets in (after about an hour).

That's it; in a nutshell. Simple!

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