Thursday 30 April 2020

Happy Birthday, Sir.

Most tragedies reveal characters who might otherwise have remained unknown. COVID-19 is no exception.

Captain Tom Moore is one such. He offered to walk around his garden, with his Zimmer Frame, to raise money for the NHS (The UK's free health system).

He's raised almost £30 Million; a staggering result.

Today is Cap't Tom's birthday; he's 100.

I hear on the news this morning that he's been upgraded to 'Honorary Colonel'.

Happy birthday.

Wednesday 29 April 2020

Whenever 'Lockdown' is relaxed.

What will happen when our governments decide to relax their rules on lockdown?

Obviously people will leave their homes much more. They will go to the shops, to pubs, to restaurants, to concerts, and possibly to large sporting events. In fact they will go anywhere where people tend to gather in crowds.

The only question will be, is this the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19?

Is allowing people to mingle again socially, rather than staying at home, really the best way to halt its spread?

People are going 'stir crazy'; that is for sure. They want their liberty, and they want to get back to meeting their friends again; but if it's at a heightened chance of spreading or catching the virus, is it really worth the risk?

Gathering in crowds again is certainly NOT going to 'reduce' the risks, what one doesn't know is, if it'll increase them. Only time will tell.

So, what will I be doing when things are more relaxed? I shall continue as I am now; I shall wear a mask when around others, I shall only go shopping once every two weeks, and I shall continue to avoid as many people as possible.

Tuesday 28 April 2020

Haddock's comes alive.

Work advances at Haddock's. Most of the Tomatoes are now in, plus some Potatoes, the Aubergines and Peppers.

I've also sowed a row of Carrots and my first row of Beans. There's also a couple of rows of  Red Onions, and a few salads.

The few remaining crops from last year are still producing healthy leafy greens by the bucket load. We have Perpetual Spinach, Curly Kale, and Swiss Chard. All are now 'bolting', but still offering daily pickings of beautifully tender leaves; it'll be a shame to take them out, but they'll soon have to go.

I've also dug a new patch, specifically for Pumpkins and Butternuts. 

The whole lot has been well fed with compost, and liberally sprinkled with Horse manure pellets. It's now time to cross our fingers and wait patiently.

There is some hope around.

Monday 27 April 2020

RIP Stella 1924-2020.

My cousin Stella died yesterday from COVID-19.

She was 96, and had been in a care home, somewhere near Shrewsbury, I think.

She is the first person that I know to have died from this wretched virus. It brings it all much closer to home.

96 was a good innings; it's a shame that she had to bowled-out by this awful COVID.

Terroirs de gueuletons: Woodcock.

In France there is a 'Brotherhood' for just about everything; they dress in robes and chains, and hold extravagant ceremonies. In this case Arthur and Vincent meet-up with the Confrérie de la Bécasse à la ficelle. This roughly translates as 'A bunch of bon vivants who like to get together, drink a lot, and cook Woodcock by dangling them from lengths of string in front of an open fire'.

One would never find a simple 'Woodcock Club'; it has to involve something complicated and different to make it special. France is like that!

So, any excuse for a grande bouffe and piss-up, whilst also tucking-in to Wild Boar testicles; amongst other things.

I must say, those Bécasse do look very good. As the testicle chef says at 2.25mins 'mangez bien, buvez bien'; it's good for the heart!

Sunday 26 April 2020

He's been in demand again!

Last time I think it was a supermarket; this time I'm not too sure, but I think it's a high rise student accommodation block. I do know it's NOT a new Virus Hospital.

You really can't hold the lad down. Yes, Kimbo returns to his duties as 'ribbon cutter extraordinaire'. There were swathes of admiring crowds and photographers, as well as a red carpet. Prince Charles was obviously too busy.

Personally I've never been asked to open a tin of beans, let alone a building; but Kimbo seems to be in regular demand.

OK, I'm banging his drum, and I'm sure you're going to berate me about 'pride coming before a fall', but I AM very proud of all three of my children, whether they cut ribbons or not. And I'm not afraid to say so!

Just in case Tesco, Leclerc, or Waitrose are unaware; I AM AVAILABLE.

And before you moan about 'social distancing'; I'm assured that this took place about 6 weeks ago.... he just didn't tell me.

Saturday 25 April 2020

From Depression to Elation in 1½ hrs.

Yesterday morning began with dark clouds, and a feeling of doom. If it's not one thing it's another. First Brexit, then Covid, then a burst bloody pipe! As they say, bad things arrive in threes.

Just to make matters worse, the burst was about a metre underground, somewhere between the meter on the lawn (where our plumber is, above), and the interior on/off tap. We'd imagined diggers, piles of earth, and mess mess and more mess.

Jean-Pierre (our plumber) is a bloody genius. Rather than dig up the whole garden, he passed a new pipe inside the burst one, connected it up, and Bob's your uncle. Of course it was a tad more complicated than that, but basically that's it.... invisible, painless, mending.

He's a wonderful chap our Jean-Pierre, he's the plumbing equivalent of one of those small country car mechanics who can fix anything with a good kick and a length of wire. 

We are so lucky to have him. Thank you, thank you, thank you. You cannot imagine the feelings of relief we felt! 

"The hills are alive, with the sound of running water, tra la la....."

Friday 24 April 2020

No 10 décor.

This, above, is what the UK's daily televised COVID-19 briefings look like. Dominic Raab is standing-in for the recovering Boris.

I'm not here to analyse the content of Raab's words, but simply to look at the theatre.

I have never before seen British politicians addressing the nation in front of two flags. I associate this type of window-dressing with 'Judge Judy', or more nationalistic countries such as France or the USA, where flags are draped over everything imaginable; whenever possible.

So, why has the UK suddenly changed her attitude?  Are they trying to imitate the USA?

Also that dreadful sign in front of the podium reminds me of something you'd find on the back of a lorry, saying 'Wide Load', or 'Motorway Services'. I can appreciate the message, but the medium is a bit tacky. It is perfectly acceptable as a warning behind a pantechnicon, but not in an elegant political drawing room.

The broadcast comes from within No 10 Downing Street, where one can see the beautiful wood panelling in the background. Does one really need all that glitz to accompany a public message? I though we Brits were above that! 

I should add that I am not against the patriotic raising of flags for great events, such as World Cup finals, winning wars in the South Atlantic, or Her Majesty's birthday.

I shall be having a word with Boris.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Rabbits v Hares.

We have Hares in our vicinity, but no Rabbits.

I've seen a couple of Hares recently; they truly are majestic creatures.

People mention Rabbits and Hares in the same context, as if they are almost the same thing; but they are different in many ways.

Rabbits live below ground in burrows; Hares live above ground on 'forms', which are open sloping bare patches of earth, the size of the animal itself. Hares also give birth to fully furred, seeing, young, that fend for themselves almost at once. Baby Rabbits are blind and less furry, and remain with their mothers underground for several weeks.

Hares are perhaps a third larger than Rabbits, they have longer ears, and black markings on the tail.

As far as gastronomy is concerned, they both make very good eating, but I would prefer to eat Rabbits as they are more of a pest than Hares; and far more numerous The one above was caught for me by our late Labrador Monty, and it became a classic Civet de Lievre. Anyone who has 'prepared' a Hare will know that this an unpleasant job; skinning and emptying a Rabbit is child's play in comparison.

Our larger local wildlife consists of Red and Roe Deer, Wild Boar, Foxes, Badgers, Hares, and some Coypus (Lady M saw one yesterday). Not a huge selection, but all lovely animals (except the Coypus).

The culling, and eating, of Roe Deer and Wild Boar is essential in the countryside. Both can over-breed, and both can be quite destructive. But let's leave the Red Deer, Badgers, Foxes, and Hares alone. They seem to control their own numbers, and are too rare and beautiful to be hunted.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Confirmation; if needed.

I've never doubted the wisdom of living out in the country. I understand that it's a lifestyle that isn't open, or suited, to everyone, but for those to whom it is; it's wonderful.

When I moved from my house on the Welsh borders, it was to provide a home that was suitable to raise my (then) two small children. I needed a large-ish house, plenty of barns and other outbuildings, and a couple of acres of land. A decent sized property.

My quest stopped outside the tall stone gate posts that led into the courtyard of an old farmhouse, and surrounding barns. The house had been unoccupied for a few years, but after a quick clean was livable in at once. I bought it.

I had been looking for a home where my children could play safely, and have open fields and woodland as their extended playroom. I wanted them to breathe pure fresh air, and to have the advantage of home produced fruit and vegetables. I wanted them run with our dog (Hamlet) wherever they wished, and to have daily adventures. This property seemed to offer everything I'd wished for; and it was affordable.

All this was over 45 years ago, and I think the children had the very best childhood I could have offered them; and as a bonus they both later learned to speak French at the local school.

These days I look at my decision anew. We are no longer in that original farmhouse, but just a couple of hundred metres away in a tiny, but very pleasant, little cottage (above) with unbroken views over open countryside; and not a coronavirus in sight.

The two children who came with us on our adventure both now live in big cities; one in London, the other in Brisbane. Our third child, who arrived a little later, is presently living in Amsterdam.

I'm still very happy to be living away from the madding crowd; away from pollution, away from crime, and away from all the hussle and bussle. It remains to be seen, of course, but hopefully we will remain away from illness as well.

However, not all is as it was here in our little corner of paradis, as there are some around us who we'd prefer lived elsewhere. Threats have been made, and we've suspiciously lost two dogs to possible poisoning. The natural friendliness of genuine country folk has been, in part, exchanged for the ways of urban newcomers. Change is not always for the better, so we continue to keep ourselves mostly to ourselves.

I've recently been talking to neighbours that I've known since we first moved here, and they still believe (as I do) that we are in as safe a place as anywhere. Our only problem would come from town dwellers heading for their second homes in the country, and bringing viruses with them (even though I believe such travel is outlawed).

The weather isn't always perfect, the red wine doesn't always taste like Pétrus, and one can't expect ALL one's neighbours to be 'couth'; but I'm still extremely happy living where I do.

I'm just praying that the virus stays well away.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Yesterday. To the shops!

It's been a couple of weeks since I've crossed the threshold chez Leclerc; my nearby (20 kms away) quality supermarket.

Having existed on two weeks worth of store-cupboard meals tends to concentrate the mind. What, if anything, had I really missed?

Firstly we were out of fruit, and a day without either a banana, orange, or apple, is painful.

Although I had a reasonable stock of both frozen and canned meats, I didn't have any Lamb or Pork chops; so they were next on the list. We'd also run-out of Dijon mustard, so a few jars of that went into my basket. Yoghurts, butter, and cheese were grabbed. The rest was more prosaic, such as tea, coffee, soap, and eggs.


As you can see by the photos, there were no shortages, and very few people. That's my trolly, bottom left.

But mostly, my yesterday's aim was to buy plants for Haddock's. I always buy my Aubergine, Tomato, and Pepper plants; however, all our Winter leafy green vegetables I sow myself. Our local Gamme Vert horticultural store supplied most of what I wanted; I'll go back in a couple of weeks for the few missing bits and pieces. I need a couple of round, red, cherry tomato plants; essential.

Nothing much had changed. Some wore masks, others didn't. No mad rush, no fighting in the aisles, and no shortages. In fact everything was much as usual; other than the noticeable lack of people about.

Unlike me, they must have been staying at home; unless of course they do their shopping later in the day.

I should add that we didn't enjoy our morning's sortee at all.

Monday 20 April 2020


As an ex-stone cutter myself (mostly of domestic openings), I am always attracted to similar work that was done by the generations before me; especially bits and pieces around the immediate area where I live.

This small opening above is curious. I imagine it started life as a bigger lump of stone with a complete hole, and at some time it broke. Some inventive stone cutter then came along and cut an amusing small lintel for it, and it's useful life was extended. Personally I would have completed the circle in the new lintel, but I do find his solution quite fun.

This one is in a side wall at my baker's. A very decorative small opening with (like the one above) a square modern window set in behind it. I can't help thinking that it was a shame that a larger piece of plain glass wasn't set into the interior wall to take better advantage of the light.

The two small openings are opposite each other in a tiny side street.

I wonder what people in centuries to come will be saying about stuff that I cut?

Sunday 19 April 2020


A few good (anonymous) ladies from my village have been busy sewing 'free' facemasks for every resident.; all 240 of us!

I missed the lady who'd popped ours into the letter box yesterday, I just saw the back of her car as it disappeared; I would liked to have spoken to her to thank her. I suppose she was 'social distancing'.

In the accompanying letter it states that they have been made by volunteers, and delivered by our elected representatives.

Instructions for washing says that they should be washed at 60 C for 30 mins after each use. Further general advice is given about hand washing, etc.

So, thank you, whoever you all are. Your handiwork is very much appreciated. xx

Saturday 18 April 2020

Things my people never knew.

My parents both died in the early 1980's, and during the intervening 35-plus years, so much has happened that they would have found almost 'unbelievable'.

Most importantly, life has changed drastically since Babbage allowed us all have laptops at home. The days when we all referred to the Encyclopedia Britannica or the local Reference Library for our information have long gone. These days the click of a mouse brings forth more information than we could ever have imagined; on any subject.

We no longer take our exposed rolls of 35mm camera film to Boots; the digital age means that the photographic department of the nearby Chemist is now defunct, and the processing of our holiday snaps takes place in that same all-powerful laptop.

Furthermore, that telephone in the hall is now hardly ever used, as everyone (except me) carries a small hand-held mobile device that does just about everything. We can even speak to, and see, each other across the world for FREE.

TV's are now flat, and you can change channels without having to leave the sofa!

If I'd told them that their lovely thatched Sussex house, that they bought back in the late 60's, is now worth a bloody fortune; they would have laughed in my face.

Cars now drive themselves (without petrol). Houses create their own electricity through roof-mounted solar panels. Woolworth's no longer exists. Big Ben no longer rings, due to lengthy renovations. Having joined The Common Market in 1973, we then quit the EU in 2020. Some people now live on takeaways of beefburgers and cola, which are consumed whilst watching TV. Millions of Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants now live in England, and have created their own communities. And I am still living in France.

Your 3 grandchildren have all done well. One lives in London, one in Oz, and one presently in Holland. You also now have 6 great-grandsons, but no granddaughters; each of your grandchildren has two boys.

Not all has been good since you left. There have been several unnecessary wars in Iraq and Syria, and the USA currently has a bizarre orange-faced TV personality and property owner as its President (no comment).

We are also currently in the midst of an extremely nasty worldwide pandemic known as COVID-19.

Otherwise, my sister and I are both well. We both live adequate lives; both still in our chosen countries, and we have both also followed in the family tradition of becoming diabetics.

I know you would have loved modern communication; mostly for Email and chatting on Skype, and I'm pretty sure you'd have joined the millions who buy stuff 'online' from a Co called Amazon.

The world is quite different now, and I think, mostly, you would have enjoyed it. I'm just sorry you aren't both here to see for yourselves.

Friday 17 April 2020

Ely Cathedral lit.

England is very lucky to have so many splendid ancient cathedrals; some in unlikely places, such as the above.

This cathedral, in its current form, was established in 970; the same date as its accompanying school.

It is built with stone imported from Barnack in Northamptonshire. The quarry was owned by Peterborough Abbey, to whom the builders paid 8,000 Eels per annum. (Ely was named after its waterways filled with Eels; now mostly fished to extinction)

It's a very large cathedral, and its octagonal Lantern Tower (lit in blue) is a miracle of medieval building. As spectacular from the exterior as the interior, its illogical method of construction is still something of a mystery to today's architects.

It's the one building that has influenced my life more than any other. I look at the above image in awe. 

If you're passing nearby, pop in; it's well worth a visit.

Thursday 16 April 2020

The question you've always (or never) asked; who was St Pancras?

St Pancras is (I think) the only Saint to be named after a Railway Station.

Poor chap; he didn't have much luck in life. His mother died in childbirth, and his father died when he was just 8 years old.

The young Pancras then went to live in Rome with an uncle, and (bizarrely) turned to Christianity.

Because he refused to renounce his new faith, he was beheaded on 12th May 303 at the age of 14; and was later declared to be a 'Saint'.

I don't think he performed any miracles, or changed peoples lives particularly; he was simply punished for his beliefs, and that was enough for sainthood.

Eurostar users remember him regularly; the rest of us remember him each May 12th.

Not much of a life really.

Wednesday 15 April 2020

Lockdown Lunch.

Our lunches are always much the same; soup, salad, cheese, and fruit. Simple, nutritious, and usually quite pleasant.

But without access to fresh fruit and vegs, inventiveness is needed. Our soups are made from whatever is around; a few spuds, some cauli, half a courgette, and a leek maybe? The salads are more tricky; yesterday's was a few lettuce leaves from Haddock's, some bottled artichokes, and some sardines. Cheese needs no explanation; nor does the fruit.

One tends to forget how handy it is having a car, and access to local shops. When necessity rules over convenience, one needs to be creative. The only thing I really lack is colour; and we all know that food needs to look appetising.

There is a wonderful Greek salad dish which comprises of mostly mixed wild greens, wilted and dressed with olive oil and lemon juice. I try to mimic such things with what greenery remains at Haddock's. But that is now becoming in short supply.

I'm now dreaming of fresh fat sliced tomatoes, plump aubergines, and fleshy green peppers; all warm and sun-kissed from Haddock's. My courgettes should be the first of this year's crops to ripen, and I can hardly wait to have plates of sliced young fruits fried in garlic butter. It won't be long either for our artichokes to start producing; they're fiddly to prepare, but worth the effort. 

All I need now is to get those plants in, and wait for them to grow!

Tuesday 14 April 2020

Mid April 2020.


Our recent weather has been wonderful. I've been wearing shorts every day, and the fire hasn't been lit for a week or so. Our temperatures are hovering around 20-25 C.

Having Billy means that I regularly take my wonderfully peaceful early morning walks. On most days I see Deer, and I recently watched a big male Fox crossing a ploughed field. The superb early morning birdsong cheers me along my way.

As I walk I can hardly believe what is going on elsewhere in the world. Not only is COVID-19 doing its best to decimate the population, but horrendous fighting continues (unreported) in many countries. If the virus doesn't get us, our fellow man will.

All the Archbishops, Popes, and Presidents, can say what they like, but no-one pays attention to whatever wisdom they deliver. I suppose we must deduce that we humans are a rough bunch, and probably don't deserve the wonderful planet we've been offered.

Still, as I walk across fields and along our small woodland paths, I, for one, am extremely grateful to Mother Nature. I try to see beauty in everything, and continue to smile.

The leaves are now appearing, blossom is everywhere, and the sun is shining. I refuse to be downhearted.

Monday 13 April 2020

Say 'cheese'.

Our nearby small town runs an annual gourmet food market; regular readers may remember my purchase of Sardines.

One of the regular exhibitors is the producer of the above cheese, and he and my lovely farmer neighbour L have become friends.

Recently, she sent me an Email asking if I'd like to buy a whole 2 Kg cheese; of course my reply was 'Yes'. During the lockdown, the producer is having difficulty selling his cheeses, so L promised to help-out.

Yesterday she arrived at the house with our cheese. 2 kgs of wonderful farm-produced St Nectaire. It's a big cheese, so three seperate quarters have gone to the freezer (I'm assured this is fine); we kept just one quarter for eating now. I believe she has found homes for 20 whole cheeses; what a good gal she is.


St Nectaire is an unpasteurised, farm-produced, Cow's milk cheese, which comes from the mountainous region of Cantal and Puy-de-Dome (The Auvergne). It has a thin mould covered crust, and inside is pliable, creamy, and slightly nutty in flavour. Delicious.

A classic example of farmer helping farmer. Well done L.

Sunday 12 April 2020

Happy Easter/Passover.

I can't say that I really bother too much about Easter, but I do like Hot Cross Buns, and of course Roast Lamb for supper on the biggish day.

Hot Cross Buns don't exist over here, so Lady Magnon makes ours; and very good they are too.

So, enjoy your Easter, Chag Sameach, and may your buns be as good as Lady M's!

Saturday 11 April 2020

A change in UK politics.

Whilst the nation's press and TV have been concentrating on other matters, in a smoke filled room (somewhere in Islington) the Labour Party have just elected a new 'leader'.

In a country where there is now only one viable political party, one tends to forget the 'also rans'. Can anyone name the leader of the Lib Dems, or UKIP, or the Social Democrats, or even the Greens? Probably not.

However, in amongst all these smaller parties is the Labour Party (remember them?), who have recently exchanged their Marxist leader for a North London, Champagne Socialist, of the Blair ilk.

His name is Sir Keir Starmer; this Knight of the Realm is an ex human rights Lawyer/Barrister. (photo: Starmer right, Corbyn left)

Of course, as is normal with the Labour Party, some are not happy that their strict Marxist credentials look like being camouflaged in order to make the party more electable, and there will no doubt be many casualties as Starmer clears his benches of the more radical voices.

On the other hand he has promised the Corbynite Rebecca Long-Bailey the job as Shadow Education Secretary, and dear old Ed Miliband the job of Shadow Business Secretary (remember him?), David Lammy gets the Justice job (heaven help us), Lisa Nandy becomes Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry becomes Shadow Secretary for International Trade, and Valerie Vaz (sister of naughty Keith) becomes the Shadow Leader of the House. It must be said that poor old Starmer has a rough bunch to choose from for his Shadow Cabinet.

It all makes Boris look like an intellectual God amongst a congregation of angry school children.

Strangely, the only opposition Leader with any clout whatsoever is the highly unpleasant Scottish Nationalist Party's representative Ian Blackford. He may be misguided in his politics, but he's often a worthy opponent, and he speaks coherently.

When Parliament returns to its intended form, it'll be interesting to see how Starmer acts. As an ex-Barrister he should be used to logical debate, and hopefully we'll have no more letters from Doris of Darlington, or from Clarice of Cleethorpes; he'll be far more likely to fire from the hip.

Friday 10 April 2020

Handy tips for Lockdown.

The net is not short of handy tips to make one's life bearable during 'lockdown'. Everything from how to make your own mask from that old duster under the sink, to tasty recipes made from a single carrot and an old pack of aspirins. 

Inventiveness is coming out of the woodwork like Vesuvius erupting. 

My favourite comes from some 'Celebrity Hair Stylist' (barber), who offers this demonstration of how to cut your own fringe without visiting his amazingly expensive Mayfair 'salon'.

It's almost unbelievable.... who would have known. All it involves is hair, scissors, and a mirror. 

First decide where you wish your fringe to be, then cut horizontally in straight line.

If I had a fringe I would certainly try this. OK it does look complicated, but I'd be willing to take a chance. 

Thursday 9 April 2020

Surrounding Fields.

We'd being trying to guess what crops my neighbour Jean-Claude would be growing in the large field beyond our pool and pump-house.

As far as we were concerned, it was a toss-up between Maize and Sunflowers. Our preference being Maize as it offers several free meals in the height of Summer.

Unfortunately, we've now discovered that he's growing GRASS. There's no profit in Maize growing, and it seems as if the recent fashion for Sunflower growing is possibly coming to an end. The Sunflowers were always grown as a share crop, with too much of the profit going to the contractors. 

Jean-Claude does have a few Cows, so Grass growing is logical, but it does seem a shame not to be growing something that the French consumer could consume. 

My attitude may sound old-fashioned, but then I suppose it is. Local farmers used to grow 'consumer crops'; I myself grew a crop of Wheat one year. 

Here's a picture of Billy, surveying his realm. He'd just been digging holes in the recently sown grass; round the corner, top left. Naughty boy.

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Peter Skellern You're A Lady 1972 Stereo

I was listening to Peter Skellern on the radio last night (an old recording), and it reminded me of this song.

Peter Skellern was an excellent song writer. Maybe not a typical 'pop star', he used Colliery Brass Bands and Angelic Church Choirs as backing tracks, and there was always a nostalgic, romantically old fashioned, feeling to his songs.

'You're a Lady' was probably his biggest success; the song was later covered by Brigitte Bardot, Davy Jones, Johnny Mathis, and several others. In 2017 Skellern became seriously ill with a brain tumour, and as a final wish became ordained by special faculty from the Archbishop of Canterbury. He became both a Deacon and Priest in the Church of England. He died just a few weeks later.

A bizarre find.

Lady Magnon has been Spring Cleaning; not at home dusting books and pictures, but up at the barn, in the section that has remained simply 'barn'.

It's a mess up there. There are two ride-on mowers, several bikes, a big standing circular saw for the logs, piles of cement bags and concrete blocks, a pair of identical washing machines, lots of timber, a ping-pong table, the children's old high-chair cots etc, and just about everything else you might imagine. Lady M wanted it organised and clean.... an almost impossible task.

Personally I growled and snorted when asked to move heavy objects, so was reluctantly allowed to go off to mow the estate, and she continued alone; happily reorganising and sweeping.

One old cardboard box she found was filled with 'Miscellaneous Objects', one of which was an old dusty single glove. As she was about to toss it into the rubbish bag, she felt something inside.

It turned out to be a ring, which looked like a wedding ring (see above).

It is made of plain silver, and inside is engraved TAMERZA 3. 10. 05. Well, I do know that Tamerza is in Tunisia, but I can't imagine why the ring should be here, why it is dated, or even who might have lost it. All very strange.

I shan't continue to wear it, one ring is enough (mine is the Maltese cross); although it does fit perfectly. 

Any theories about its discovery?

Tuesday 7 April 2020

A different atmosphere.

Exactly like a week ago, yesterday I went early to do my 'two weeks' shopping.  I was queueing outside their door at 8.30 am.

Normally I enjoy my trips out in the car, but yesterday the atmosphere seemed to have changed. There was a feeling of depression in the air, and the roads were even more empty than usual.

As you can see by the trolly park, no-one was there. The car park was almost empty, and what few people were about were either masked or looked miserable. I should add that there have still been no instances of COVID-19 in the area. 

There was no shortage of anything (other than hand sanitiser), and people avoided being close to each other, as if they stank of BO.

On a normal Monday morning, the place would have been buzzing, but people are really becoming scared, and are staying home. I shall now do the same for the next two weeks; other than maybe a quick visit to our tiny local market on Saturday, for bread.

Suddenly Coronavirus has become extremely serious.

Monday 6 April 2020

Lockdown Special.

So simple, so good, and it uses up all those things you have either in the freezer, fridge, or cupboard.

I discovered a small pack of Pork sausage meat in the freezer, in the past, for this type of recipe, I've always used Beef.

For two people.

200 grams of coarse ground Pork (sausage meat)
About three quarters of a tin of Italian chopped Tomato
A squirt of Tomato paste
A teaspoon of Capres
6 quartered black stoneless Olives
Splash of red wine
Salt, pepper, dried herbs, and a few chilli flakes
Spaghetti or other favourite Pasta

Make small meatballs, fry in plenty of Olive oil for about 5 mins, add all other ingredients, season, cook for about ten mins until it looks 'right', then serve with pasta and grated Parmesan. Yum.

Of course this isn't my recipe, it's a classic favourite from Italy called Spaghetti con salsiccia (I think). I'm assured that it's every Italian child's favourite meal.

Bloody delish!

Sunday 5 April 2020

Saturday Market.

Our nearby Saturday market is never a big affair.

Yesterday, I'd ordered three loaves from our favourite local baker, I needed some meat, and also a few Leeks for our lunchtime soups.

Our bread was ready and waiting for us, but I had to join a queue of two outside the butcher.

There were only two stalls in the market itself; the veg' lady, and the wine man. I was very disappointed to see that the plant man wasn't there.

As you might see from the photo, there were only a few shoppers; even so there was a barrier in front of the stall to make us keep our distance, tapes on the ground to make us keep 2 metres from each other, and a man in red trousers giving everyone a squirt of hand disinfectant as we took our turns in the two-man queue.

Frankly I found the whole scenario rather surreal, but if it saves us all from getting ill; then I suppose it was worth it.

Saturday 4 April 2020

Wandering aimlessly.

Recently I've found myself with absolutely nothing to do. OK, I make myself breakfast, and produce five star gourmet lunches and dinners for two; but other than that I just potter.

With all my Winter tasks complete, I have literally been wandering around looking for inconsequential things to fill my time. Trimming the grass around the trunks of trees, re-levelling certain garden flagstones, sweeping the treehouse, etc.

I have sawn mountains of logs, and chopped so many piles of kindling wood that there is literally no more room. I did even consider sawing yet more logs, but the idea of having nothing to do in a couple of weeks time is even more daunting. It's a fine balance between doing too much now, and having nothing to do in the future.

Of course there are books to be read, TV to avoid, and new dog-walks to be discovered, but having lived by a routine of two shopping trips per week for the past 40-odd years, I'm beginning to understand the term 'stir crazy'.

Luckily, at the same time, I do enjoy my solitude (if you can call it that). I'm not someone who searches out the multitudes; I am as perfectly happy by myself, as I am with a few others (not big crowds).

It's just that for the next month or so (after which I'll begin to work on Haddock's) I have very little to do; and I prefer to be busy busy busy.

Friday 3 April 2020

Carving a niche.

When I first bought our tiny cottage, it was no more than a ruin.

As you entered via the remains of the 'front door', immediately around to the left was the ancient stone sink, on the left hand wall was a huge open fireplace, and on the wall opposite was a very large, 40 cms deep, integral cupboard, with a single rotten door hanging off its hinge.

The sink and fireplace were both intact, and simply required cleaning and patching. But the huge cupboard occupied almost all of one whole wall and obviously required alteration.

It was a question of either filling-in the whole thing, or reducing its size dramatically. I chose the latter.

I had a few bits of stone hanging around, so I gave them some chamfered edges, and made what I thought, at the time, was how it might have looked had they done the same thing 300 years previously. It was easy to cut, and easy to install. It also now looks as if it might have been 'original'.

It's strange to think that all those years ago, all the family's glasses, bowls, plates, and cooking utensils would have been kept on those shelves. These days it's home to a mouse, a few bottles and glasses, and some old decanters. 

Other than making a more solid cupboard, it has left plenty of space either side for hanging paintings. The initial shelf-room has been reduced by about 80%. 

It's better than it was, and you'd never know it was new.

Thursday 2 April 2020

The Shepherd of Wilmington.

I've recently received another picture of a painting I haven't seen for many years. I think it's title is as above. Again 4 ft by 4 ft.  

That's it.... no more.

Wednesday 1 April 2020

That'sa ma boy!

My oldest son, Kimbo, takes his visits to Tesco very seriously.

Where he lives, in Kensington in central London, it's the epicenter of the UK's COVID-19 epidemic.

Best to take all precautions; n'est-ce pas? Stay safe darling boy!

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