Saturday 27 June 2020

Cro is away.


It's Summer, and like many people I am going on holiday; in my case to Haddock's, to the woods, to find mushrooms, or simply to sit by the pool and contemplate.

This is my 3,860th daily posting, and I'm having a short rest. Maybe I'll feel differently next week, but for now.... bye bye.

Cute puppy.

   Why do we find puppies so cute? - BBC Science Focus Magazine

Friday 26 June 2020

EEE, DEE, Bloody EFF.

We had a tiny 30 min storm last night. At midnight there was thunder, lightning, wind, and rain; and of course the bloody power went off.

It's become so predictable that we've considered buying a small generator to keep the freezers going.

One really would have thought that the EDF would have a night-time crack repair squad, who would rush to wherever some wires needed re-connecting. But NO; they wait till it's working hours, then leisurely make their way to the 'office', and after a few cups of coffee, and having read the paper, they might just go to work. 

We, meanwhile, had no lights, no electric kettle, and no internet. We simply have to wait, and pray that they don't go for an early lunch.

Anyway, we're now back to normality, and my blood pressure is slowly reducing.

Thursday 25 June 2020

New Pool Gate.

As you might be able to see in the top photo, our pool gate had seen better days; much of it is either rotten or broken, some bits are even missing. I made it from some 'fencing' that I bought at a local Garden Centre. It's had nearly 15 years good use, so I'm not really surprised that it needed replacing.

Now comes the fun bit.

I bought a new piece of 'fencing' from the same garden shop as before, strapped it to the roof rack, and proceeded to drive home; happy with my purchase. 

Unfortunately, not long after leaving the store, the whole bloody lot flew off the roof rack, and smashed into as many pieces as possible on the road behind me; there weren't two pieces left joined together. Luckily I was able to gather-up all the bits, and later put them together again (below); this time with pukka screws rather than the silly staples that some plonker in Taiwan had originally used.

The actual construction of the gates required the skill of an 10-year-old, all it took was time and effort. It was a matter of positioning the hinges correctly, and lining-up the bolts. It also required a good dose of 'preservative' before re-installing.

So, here it is in situ, ready to keep out unaccompanied children, high-jumping dogs, and any wildlife looking for a swim. As you might have spotted, I still had to saw it in half, and add the closing mechanism, but that was the easy bit.

Cost of 'fencing', €12.50. Bargain.

Wednesday 24 June 2020

Making the most of it.

It's stinking hot here, and just about to get worse; but life goes on.

Look; we've got our silly masks, enough pasta for until Christmas, there's still some of that hand gel stuff in the car, and we keep our distance from our fellow man; we'll probably/possibly survive. We survived the Brexit saga, but still have to face the possibility of being kicked out of France sometime next year. Life has its ups and downs, but we go with the flow.

I don't require much. A rain-proof roof, a decent bed, and three meagre meals a day, are my simple demands. 

We've never wanted big flash cars, a yacht moored in Monaco, or a modern Essex-style Footballer's 'Executive Home'. We lead a very busy but simple life, and over the years have managed to save enough for one or two occasional treats. We're not people who demand permanent luxury.

Some might see our pool as a luxury, but, in fact, it's just a hole filled with water, and probably cost about half the price of a new kitchen extension or conservatory; and those would never be seen as 'luxuries'.  

I do occasionally hanker after an ancient white-painted fisherman's cottage overlooking a small bay on a tiny Greek island, next door to a simple taverna (which I would definitely see as a luxury), but I think I'll now have to give that a miss. I'm getting too old for such folly.

No, I'll stay where I am, try not to be jealous of others on that Greek island, and be grateful for what we have. We're not poor, and we're certainly not rich. It's all a question of making the best of what one has, and we do that to the best of our abilities. I recommend it to others.

Tuesday 23 June 2020

Desperate measures!

I now have to accept that 99% of my Tomato plants at Haddock's are dying, so there was only one thing to do.

I've managed to find half a dozen lacklustre plants (Beefsteak), dug some holes as far away from Haddock's as possible and mixed in plenty of good compost; I'm now in the process of crossing fingers, stroking Rabbit's feet, and beseeching St Fiacre, that they grow disease free.

I am sure they will, and I will watch them like a Hawk. I've even put a small wire fence around them in case of visiting Badgers or Deer.

Their planting is a bit late, but Tomato plants have a wonderful way of 'catching-up', and I'm hoping they'll be fruiting through Summer just like everyone else's.

Dreadful photo... another to follow in a few weeks time; I'm sure.

Monday 22 June 2020

I'll See You In My Dreams By Django Reinhardt

The inimitable Django playing one of my favourite tunes. Perfect to get you going on a Monday morning.

Sunday 21 June 2020

That big question, answered!

Lady Magnon and I have been wondering about the aims of the BLM movement for some time; now we have the official answer.

1. Abolish the Police: Everyone needs the police at some time or other, regardless of what colour your skin may be. What would black families do if they discovered a white burglar in their home at night; make him a cup of tea, and tell him not to be a naughty boy? Life without some national force of law and order would obviously end in chaos.

2. Smash Capitalism: The only political alternative to Capitalism is Communism, and if you think Internment Camps, Gulags, etc (simply for believing the wrong things), are an improvement on the way we do things in The Liberal West, then I can only think of you as totally bizarre. Capitalism creates wealth, provides employment, and develops an environment that is good for all citizens. It has also been proven to be successful; Communism has always failed.

3. Close all Prisons: I can understand all criminals wanting this, they quite naturally wish to be free to commit their crimes unhindered by police, and without the threat of internment. But would it really be in the national interest to have all our criminals wandering the streets? BLM didn't specify, but maybe they are suggesting some alternative local form of punishment such as The Stocks, or a Ball and Chain instead.

I believe that George Floyd had been imprisoned five times for his crimes, before being publically murdered by the US Cops. I can understand the call for no police and no prisons on HIS behalf, but for the rest of us I think it's preferable to retain both; as well as a strong economy.

It appears that the BLM movement (@BLMUK) has become a White-hating, Cop-hating, bunch of extreme left wing career criminals. I can see no other explanation for their manifesto. No mention is made of 'equality'.

p.s. Oh, and while I'm at it, I can assure you that Boris's answer to all three demands will be a very definite....... NO!

Saturday 20 June 2020

The rot sets in!

I cannot tell you how frustrated I am with my Tomato crop.

This is the fourth year running that my plants have suddenly contracted some nasty disease, and will no doubt die off before they have a chance to give me a decent crop. I am really not happy. Nasty black patches are appearing all over the leaves and stems, and it doesn't bode well.

There are a few plants that I think will be OK, but my main crop (above) are all suffering from Blight (or maybe Mildew). It's a disease that is difficult to eradicate, as it can live underground for years. My only solution will be, in future, to grow all my tomato plants away from Haddock's; up at the barn perhaps.

I should say that all my other veg' plants are fine. It's just those bloody Tomatoes.

And they were beginning to look so good!!!

Friday 19 June 2020


My neighbour, Karine, gave me the leftovers of her seed Potatoes. In return I gave her the leftovers of my Red Onion sets.

Her Potatoes are now bearing fruit, but it'll be a while before she benefits from my Red Onions.

Merci cherie. Perfect New Potatoes.

Pasta Pronto.

I'm not a fan of 'fast foods', but for Signor Rana I make an exception.

Just occasionally I'm just far too busy to have concocted some gourmet dinner, so I instantly resort to one of Mr Rana's delicious Tortellini packs; always either the above, or some cheese filling; never anything with meat.

These wonderful little gems take just 2 mins to cook, and accompanied by a very simple tomato sauce (not too much), they make a wonderful meal. The pack above is plenty for two.

I like Signor Rana. Not only does his factory make some of the finest pasta in Italy, but he also runs a chain of restaurants where they serve nothing but his products. It is well known that Giovanni himself eats at a different restaurant almost every day (unannounced) to ensure that the quality is perfect.

If Rana products are available near you (and I expect they are); I can recommend them. 

I'm not on commission!

Thursday 18 June 2020

Competition time. Guess the author!


This, I hope, will be my final posting about the Floyd/BLM affair. I'm not only extremely bored by the whole business, but I'm also disgusted by the behaviour of just about everyone involved. I quite expect most people feel the same.

Anyway, let's have some fun this morning. I am prompted by London actress Ms Imarn Ayton, a figurehead in the BLM movement, who has stated unequivocally that "A monument to anyone who has made racist comments is offensive and MUST be removed"

So, here's an interesting little question, for these interesting times; who was the nasty man who said these three horrible things about Immigrants and Jews?

1. "Russian immigrants either teach us to how to live on garlic and oil, or introduce The Black Death".

2. "Immigrants are a batch of men sent from their homes into our midst for the purpose of bringing us down, if possible to their level. They have filthy habits".

3. "Wherever there is trouble in Europe you may be sure that a hook-nosed Rothschild is at his games somewhere in the region".

I'm sure you'll agree that this type of vile racism towards Russian immigrants, and Jews, cannot be tolerated. Ms Ayton certainly agrees with me.

So, who said these things? Yup; none other than the darling of the left Mr Keir Hardie himself (after whom Sir Keir Starmer was proudly named). Keir Hardie was the creator, and erstwhile leader, of The Labour Party.

At the heart of the BLM movement, should be EQUALITY and FAIRNESS in all matters. With that in mind, I think it's about time Hardie's bust in parliament be removed.

So, I'm with you Ayton, there should be no place for the busts of overt racists in the corridors of Westminster. Let's do the decent thing, and rid parliament of this vile racist's image.

N.B. I didn't start all this nonsense; I'm simply trying to lead it to its natural conclusion.

Wednesday 17 June 2020

Corners of the Garden.

The entrance to house and garden. 

Back wall of 'tower'

Outside the bathroom window,

Recycling boxes. Not much in them.

Pot with annuals.


More pots with more annuals.

Part of my mowing duties.

More of my mowing duties, with Billy and dark clouds.

And finally, a single, beautifully coloured, self-sown Poppy; I shall save the seeds. 

Note there was very little sunshine when I took the photos.

Tuesday 16 June 2020

Gifts from the woods.

We've had a few Girolles in the woods for a while, but yesterday morning was the first day that they've been dry, clean, and plentiful.

I've also found a couple of beautiful young Cepes, but I think they'd become confused by the weather. No-one else seems to have found any.

Girolle omelets are on the menu at lunchtimes, and a few find their way into various dishes in the evening. It is said that Girolles contain a natural 'antibiotic', so probably not a bad thing to eat with all the illness about; not that I've heard anyone suggest they can cure COVID-19. 

A Novelty.


The area where I live used to grow just about everything from Tobacco to Wheat. Farms all had a few Pigs, plenty of Hens and Ducks, and of course a Vineyard.

These days Sunflowers and Maize are just about the only crops. Gone are the farmyard fowl, and gone are the vineyards. Agriculturally, it's a very different place to how it was 47 years ago when I first moved here.

Yesterday I noticed the above field as I was whizzing by in the Compact Royce, and as I couldn't quite figure what the crop was; I just had to stop to investigate.

The area planted is made-up of three fields, probably making about 8 hectares; and the crop turned out to be TOMATOES. That's a lot of Tomatoes.

I've never seen Tomatoes grown like this before in our region. I imagine they are the Italian 'Roma' variety for making purée, or passata, or maybe even for canning whole. I didn't even know there was a Tomato processing factory in the area; maybe it's brand new! It'll be interesting to see how they're harvested; all at one go, or by hand individually.

I wonder if we'll start to see others in the area following suite? I told my neighbour José about it, it'll be interesting to see if he grows them next year; he's usually at the forefront of innovation. We'll see.

I shall report on this again at a later date.

Monday 15 June 2020

Scum, glorious scum.


Every boy or girl brought up in the countryside will have experienced this. And every maker of jam will know all about scum.

When your Mother (or Father) made her (or his) Raspberry or Strawberry Jam, they would always skim off a certain amount of 'scum' from the boiling jam, and place it in a small bowl, or on a saucer.

For the children of the house this was a real treat. A thick slice of fresh bread liberally spread with butter, and a good dollop of warm scum, was heaven on a plate. It was the Jam makers audience's treat.

I asked Lady Magnon recently if she'd like some scum. After rolling her eyes, and looking at me with suspicion, I explained what it was and she eventually tried some.

Her verdict? She loved it, after all it's just freshly made jam without the pips; although mine had some actual jam it in, leftover from the filled jars.

Sunday 14 June 2020

Topple, topple, topple.


Whilst the BLM protagonists are demanding the toppling of scores of statues, here's another cause that they might like to champion. The Guardian (a left wing UK newspaper) was founded on slave money, and should also be toppled.

The newspaper's founder, Mr John Edward Taylor (above), made his fortune in the cotton trade, on the backs of black slaves who worked in the US southern cotton fields.

Taylor was totally opposed to the ending of slavery. He supported the southern confederate troops during the US civil war, and he used his newspaper as a mouthpiece.

He also referred to President Lincoln's anti-slavery stand as 'abhorrent'.

If the BLM folk continue to demand that Winston Churchill's statue is to be removed, then logically The Guardian should certainly be closed too. Churchill wasn't involved in slavery; Taylor was!

It should be noted that 'Winston' has always been a firm favourite boy's name in Jamaica, which could become something of a problem.

I would suggest than many top politicians, big industrialists, and even today's oligarchs, have a few skeletons in their cupboards, but does this really mean we have to hide all mention of their existence; past or present?

If the BLM people become over politically selective, and demonise those they see as right wingers, whilst ignoring those who are left wingers (such as Taylor), then it can only be seen as hypocrisy.

What's good for the goose.... (as I so often say).

Saturday 13 June 2020

Fleur de sel & bons vivants - Terroirs de gueuletons

It had to happen, our pair of bons vivants Arthur and Vincent learn all about Salt. Yes, salt.

They visit the Atlantic island of Noirmoutier; famed for its salt, potatoes, oysters, and salicorne. The 'farmers' produce two types of salt; Gros sel (scraped from the bottom), and Fleur de sel (carefully lifted from the surface). They explain the difference that an East or West wind can make to the salt; apparently an East wind produces a drier salt!

I buy the greyish damp Gros sel for cooking, and the drier white Fleur de sel salt for sprinkling, I should add that I always keep about 5 or 6 different types of salt in the house; each has its use.

Friday 12 June 2020

J K Rowling.

I must admit that I have never read a Harry Potter book, nor have I seen any of his films; frankly it's not my bag.

However, the author of such works has suddenly been brought to my attention, simply because having told a basic truth, she has come under attack from the loony brigade.

Ms Rowling has stated that only women who are women, are women. You can dress as a woman, but that doesn't make you a woman. I could dress as a Lion, but that certainly doesn't make me a Lion.

One's gender doesn't depend on whether one shops at either H & M or Burton's; it depends on ones Chromosomes, and internal organs. It's as simple as that.

I don't applaud Ms Rowling for having stated the obvious; but I am obliged to condemn the loonies for having condemned her for telling it how it is. 

What the hell has our world come to if one can't accept that women are women, and men are men; even if they prefer to dress differently. 

Please, please, let us allow people to dress as they wish, but don't try to pretend that they have changed their sex; they HAVEN'T; they have simply changed the way they wish to be seen by others, and to feel better about themselves, and there's absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Those who attack Ms Rowling have become superfluous, and extremely tedious.

Thursday 11 June 2020

Raspberry Vinegar.

Ingredients: Raspberries, white Vinegar, Sugar.

Method: Combine ingredients, leave for 24 hrs, strain, bottle.

Yup, that's it.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Igor Stravinsky - The Owl and the Pussycat (1966)

I was very privileged to meet Stravinsky back in '66, and spend about 10 minutes chatting with him at the Art Gallery where I worked in London's West End.

I had become quite a fan of his whilst at school, where I'd been introduced to both his and Arnold Shoenberg's very distinctive music.

I believe the below was written not long after our meeting, and was possibly one of the last things he wrote.  I only came across it recently. His use of dodecaphony, the Twelve Tone Technique, seems to divide voice and piano rather than harmonise, and makes it difficult to listen to. I suppose I'm too used to instruments complimenting a voice.

To my dismelodiac ear, he was also doing a disservice to Lear's wonderful poem.

I actually feel sorry for the singer. Am I alone?

p.s. I have written previously about my meeting with Stravinsky, but I have recently made new discoveries, about which I will write soon. Watch this space!

Tuesday 9 June 2020

Threatening skies.

Of course I love clear blue skies, and sunshine, but my next favourite sky must be the above.

Sunshine from one quarter, and dark threatening clouds from another. It is the most dramatic of skies, and one never quite knows what's coming next.

In this case, yesterday afternoon, it was a short burst of thunder, then light rain for several hours.

We have to keep reminding ourselves that this type of weather is almost predictable. A wonderful early summer in May; swimming, BBQ's, espadrilles. Then just when you expect the temperature to rise by a few degrees, it all falls apart.

Still, it does make for beautiful skies!

Monday 8 June 2020

Monty biting the hand that feeds him!

I was reminded of this tiny video after I'd given a biscuit to a local dog recently.

It's been over five years since we lost poor Monty. Like all Labs, he had an insatiable appetite, and that included a taste for my hand. We miss him.

Sunday 7 June 2020

What's going on?

                          What Does Black Lives Matter Want? Amid Dallas, Police Killings ...

We all know that the 'black community' are more susceptible to COVID-19 than most others, yet they are allowed to demonstrate en masse on the streets of New York, London, and elsewhere. No social distancing, no masks, no concern for their own or others' safety.

Why is this not outlawed, for their own good, and everyone else's? One thing you can guarantee, is that if a spike does occur as a result of ignoring the rules about mass demonstrations, the blame will be placed at Trump or Boris's door; regardless of their very firm advice.

Do continue to be cautious; a second virus wave will certainly now happen. Too many people are becoming stir-crazy, and are taking terrible risks; not necessarily only for themselves, but for their extended families and friends.

People seem to be saying "what the hell, I've had enough"; a death wish if ever there was one. Of course economies need to be rekindled, but at the risk of more lives being lost, it does sound rather callous.

I don't know of a single person who doesn't support the sentiment of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, or even 'All Lives Matter', but there are better ways of making our voices heard than by irresponsible mass demonstrations and rioting.

10 policemen were seriously injured in London yesterday.

Saturday 6 June 2020

Compost fry-up, 2020.

This is a bit of a cheat, but Lady Magnon insisted that we ate a 'Compost Fry-up'.

We still tentatively stick to our 'Veggie Wednesdays', and Lady M just couldn't wait for Haddock's to provide all we needed for our traditional Summer Compost Fry-ups. Most of the above had been bought, or was either lingering in the fridge, or the freezer. 

This really is one of our favourite summer meals. A simple mix of whatever vegs are available, fried in Olive oil, garlic, and butter, and flavoured at the final minute with lots of ground cumin.

If I remember correctly, this particular Fry-up contained Potatoes, French Beans, Red Pepper, Courgettes, and Broad Beans. Delicious.

If you don't believe me; try it.

Friday 5 June 2020

Dolphin Asks Diver For Help.

Occasionally a small bit of film can renew one's faith not only in humanity, but also in our relationship with wildlife.

Thursday 4 June 2020

Bay, Grapes, Oleander, Daylilies.

I like the garden at the moment. There are quite a few flowers around, and all the foliage is looking very lush and healthy.

The local wildlife seems happy. The birds sing, the Deer bring their newborns up towards the house, and our lone Hen Harrier has been visiting.

My Mock Orange bush, by Haddock's gate, is in full flower and smelling wonderful, and all the Chestnut trees are also in flower giving-off their distinctive powerful earthy aroma.

We have recently had some decent rain (more to come soon) so my vegetable plants, and seedlings, have revived and are growing again. My fingers are permanently crossed for my Tomato crop; after three years of disease and failure, I'm hoping for a change this year. So far they're looking good.

Our 2020 fruit crops will be very hit-n-miss. Very few Apples, hardly any Pears, a few Plums, no Black Hamburg eating grapes, plenty of Figs, a few Cherries, and of course a tree overflowing with Quinces.

Great Expectations? No; more like, be patient, wait, and see! What larks.

Wednesday 3 June 2020

New glasses.

I'm not good at 'selfies'. I'm no good at pouting, or excessive make-up, nor am I much to look at either.

Anyway this isn't about Narcissism, it's about glasses. My new glasses.

I seem to have been having a lot of new glasses recently; the result of both a boisterous young dog, and my penchant for cheap easily-broken off-the-shelf reading glasses. 

About a month or so ago, I was in my local pharmacy when I noticed an area devoted to reading glasses, and I spotted a pair that looked not only very solid, but also to my taste. They also happened to be of the strength I require; +3.

Anyway, I bought them, and they work well, so I looked for more. I couldn't find any. Eventually I found them online, on the maker's (Loubsol) web site, and tried to order another couple of pairs. I came a cropper right at the final stage of ordering, something wasn't right; so I gave-up.

I then thought I would ask my lovely son in London to order them for me, I've done this before and it always works. I sent him a cheque, and the glasses arrived a few days later. He's much better at ordering stuff online, and has all the required numbers, etc. I can order things through Amazon, but smaller Co's make life difficult for me.

Anyway, I'm very pleased with my new spex. I now have three pairs of them. They are chunky and solid, and look as if they'll last a while.

Amazingly, they were advertised as being for WOMEN. I cannot think of anything less feminine.

No-one's given me a funny look so far! I like them.

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Bloody Pentecost.

Having been property-bound for the past two weeks (other than a short trip to buy bread), I'd been looking forward to getting out and about and seeing people other than the dear Lady Magnon.

Off I trot, then find that my bloody supermarket was closed on account of 'Pentecost' (whatever that is).

I do know that it's some religious festival, but it's hardly Christmas or Easter, and why they think it's necessary to close the shops; I really don't know.

This is the THIRD year running that I've gone shopping on the day of Pentecost, and the THIRD time I've found everything closed. I do wish that someone would say "Cro, it's Pentecost on Monday, and everything will be closed", but they wouldn't dream of it.

It's about 25 Kms to my local Leclerc (not the one above), which means a 50 km round trip of wasted time and petrol. I was not happy.

I shall return this morning.

Monday 1 June 2020

Time (and lives) wasted on hatred.

After yesterday's posting (which I've now deleted on account of the amount of venom) This subject seems to be apt.

Hatred of others is such a debilitating waste of time. There have been several notable cases recently of 'celebs' wishing that Boris had died from his COVID-19 illness. I can think of no nastier desires from those on the left than to wish someone dead, simply because they see things differently, and are usually more successful.

I've known people myself whose whole lives are dedicated to hatred and conflict; they are simply not happy unless they have someone to hate, and people to annoy (usually their neighbours). It's a strange trait, because it ends with them, themselves, being disliked by everyone around them. Hatred breeds hatred.

Such hatred is usually accompanied by invented stories. I suppose in recent times Mrs Thatcher must have been the recipient of more lies and hatred than almost any other person. Mrs T was a very determined woman, and would stand no nonsense. Her sole aim was to bring the UK back from the financial ruin of the previous Labour government; which she did. Along the way she encountered Luddites of the worst sort, and as the economy soon returned to 'boom', she became the perfect target for the left, and they didn't hold back. They still don't!

Boris is now receiving similar venom over his handling of COVID. Every armchair scientist has an opinion, and 'opposition parties' in particular all demand the opposite of whatever's being recommended; simply to be contrary. They have been fighting on the streets of Spain, Germany, and even Hong Kong, and their ilk have been holding demonstrations on the streets of London; including Corbyn's own darling brother, Piers. It's almost as if they are desperate to spread the virus.

Why can't people simply be nice to each other. It costs nothing, it creates calm, and, I'm certain, improves one's mental health. A certain blog Troll comes to mind.

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