Saturday 31 October 2020

Soup Season.

Probably like most people, I'm a creature of habit; salads in Summer, soup in Winter.

It's not yet cold here; a bit miserable on occasions, but not cold. When Winter really begins, a bowl of hot vegetable soup is extremely comforting. We only eat soup at lunchtime, followed by a small amount of charcuterie, cheese, and fruit.

Lunch here is known as La Soupe, and the tradition will be adhered to until about April. It saves having to think about what to eat at mid-day!

I should add that my soup is always eaten with a good drizzle of Olive Oil and either a sprinkling of pepper or cumin. This takes your soup into the arms of the angels.

Writing about soup makes me think of poor Weaver in hospital with her broken hip. Just in case she should read this, I send her my very best wishes.

The 3 C's.

I suppose I must admit to being quite a nostalgic person. It's all a very long time ago, but I often think back to my old headmaster's obsession for his 'Three C's'; Christianity, Classics, and Cricket.

Having been a teacher myself, albeit briefly, I am only too aware that teachers can have a lasting effect on a child's future, and teachers need to be aware of this fact at all times.

I was never too keen on the Christianity bit, but I did enjoy the singing. My school also happened to be in close proximity to a lovely old cathedral (above).

As for Classics, I had a wonderful teacher at my Prep' school, and somehow managed to achieve the highest mark in my intake year's Latin entrance exam paper, and, to everyone's amazement (including mine), I became the year's 'Classics Scholar'. I later abandoned my study of Latin (the result of dire teaching), concentrated more on Art, and later won the senior school Art Prize. My headmaster wasn't amused.

Cricket has probably always been my game of choice, so I was very happy to take part in this third of my headmaster's obsessions, although I never got chosen to play above the 2nd XI. I'm pleased to say that my oldest, Kimbo, shares my love for the game, and has continued to play quality Club Cricket since his Oxford days. He still plays, and regularly puts on a good show! Cricket teaches us so much more than just how to bat or bowl, it teaches us to take defeat with dignity, to praise the better man, and that the Umpire's decision is always final. Not bad maxim's by which to live.

Some people show no lasting influence from their schooldays; mine still play an important part in my life. As Ignatius of Loyola was 'reputed' to have said "Give me the child for the first seven years (in my case a bit more), and I'll give you the man". I have a friend who was educated by the Jesuits, and he always describes them as the most evil bastards imaginable. Not, I'm sure, what St Ignatius had intended; unless he was a psychopath.

Friday 30 October 2020

Crash Victim.

Sadly we have all sorts of avian crash victims here, the result of having some large plate glass windows.

Lady Magnon cut out some warning bird shapes to fix to the windows on the front of the house, and they seemed to have worked well; until just now.

This female Greater Spotted Woodpecker (I think) crash landed into the studio window, then took about 15 minutes to recover. Poor thing. At least it flew off again OK.

We gave it a good talking-to.

More target practice required!

Here he is, the little darling who killed three people in Nice on Thursday.

His name is Brahim Aoussaoui. He's a 21 year old Tunisian who came to France just one month ago, to find a better life; at the same time as being a fanatical Muslim Jihadist, hell-bent on murder.

The police managed to put 14 bullets in him, but none did the intended job. He was patched-up by caring ambulance crew; demonstrating (I suppose) the difference between 'them and us'.

He will now be prosecuted, sentenced to a few years in prison, then probably let out early for being such a good boy, who has promised not to do it again. Same old story.

And to make matters worse for a late October Thursday, we hear that little Jeremy Corbyn has been suspended from the Labour Party. How I didn't wet myself is a miracle.



I would like to thank all party-goers, revellers, boozers, demonstrators, wedding guests, cheap meal diners, Piers Corbyn supporters; in fact everyone who has blatantly gathered in excessively large groups over the past few months. Thank you!

Thank you for spreading the COVID-19 virus around so bloody much that there is now a really serious threat to lives almost everywhere.

20,223 fines have been issued in England and Wales since April, and in Scotland 3,000 illegal parties have been stopped over the past two months alone. So, a big thank you to all those selfish idiots who have managed to spread the virus around with carefree abandon. I'm sure that all the young fun-loving revellers are perfectly aware that their age groups are far less vulnerable than those of the over 50's, so this makes their behaviour even more reprehensible. I'm all right Jack, and fuck the rest of you!

Here in France we are back to total lockdown, which could well continue into the new year. I'm beginning to get really angry with people who think that the recommended restrictions are for everyone else, and not for them.  They're not that difficult to follow so PLEASE.....

Back in the UK, several owners of big businesses are asking for 'No Lockdown'. People such as Julian Metcalfe, Sir Rocco Forte, and plumber Charlie Mullins, who probably all work from nice safe offices away from the coal face, are simply worried about their lack of income. Could they care less about their workers and clients; I would suggest that they couldn't give a shit.

No-one is asking people to lock themselves away in a dungeon; just be sensible.

Lady Magnon and I have been doing our best to follow the guidelines, but it's like fighting against the bloody tide.

Thursday 29 October 2020

What one law would you change?

There used to be a very short BBC Radio programme with a title similar to mine.

It asked eminent people what law they would rescind, given the opportunity.

The edition that amused me the most was with a well-know top judge (I can't remember his name) who was so annoyed with motorcyclists tearing around with little regard for either themselves or others, that he wanted to ban the use of helmets. His logic being that without head protection they would ride their bikes much more carefully.

These days we see so many pictures like the above. Criminals wearing either crash helmets or hoodies whilst carrying-out their crimes. Personally I would take the judge's idea a bit further, and ban hoodies as well. Faces should be seen at all times. I would suggest that the only places where faces could be hidden are 'at home'. Anyone hiding their face in public would instantly be taken for a criminal, and arrested.

Of course, at the moment we all have face coverings, and it must be a nightmare for the police, but when things eventually get better, and we are allowed to breathe again in public, I would like Boris to enact this change immediately.


Wednesday 28 October 2020

Winter Tasks.

I always write myself a list of Winter tasks; it gives me something to aim for, and achieve.

For the moment my list is blank. I'm no longer undertaking any building work, and there is really little else to do. I'm up to date.

I don't know if this is a result of lethargy; I suspect it's more like being satisfied with my lot. Of course there are always the banal tasks that will need doing; log sawing, leaf raking, vine pruning, etc. But no major projects.

If I have to go actively looking for projects, then obviously they wouldn't be classified as essential; they would be artificially created tasks, and my enthusiasm would be zero.

Maybe something will crop-up. The idea of my list remaining blank worries me more than if it was over filled.

What a strange thing to worry about!

Tuesday 27 October 2020

A Breakdown in Society?

Gibbon affords the 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire' to five specific causes. Corrupt Politicians, civils wars, attacks from outsiders, a toothless army, and the empire itself becoming too large to manage.

I see many comparisons in today's world, only we also have the added disaster of COVID-19.

Firstly our politicians. We all know what is happening here. We have the crazies, the megalomaniacs, the evil, and the downright criminal. Luckily most of Europe is ruled-over by intelligent and honest people who care about their citizens.

Civil wars are still in their infancy, but they will certainly become more important; for the moment we still refer to them as 'riots'. We have those who are blatantly anti-Democracy, others who are racially motivated, and yet more who are religiously driven. Governments are currently taking such activities far too lightly, and the perpetrators are given false support from such lax response. Sweden has been a classic example of such liberalism. There's a lot going on that needs to be watched very closely.

Attacks from outsiders covers a multitude of woes, from Brexit, to cyber attacks from Russia and China, the USA's export of poor food standards, to The Muslim world; there are people everywhere who either wish us ill, or want to take us for everything they can get. Again, just look at Sweden.

Defence of the nation is a priority for any Prime Minister or President. Neglect it at your peril; and IT IS being neglected.

And finally an unwieldy Empire. Well, Great Britain's Empire was the greatest in history, and we all know what happened there. 

Gibbon wrote his oeuvre in 1776, only a few years after Cook established Botany Bay less than 250 years ago. Since then there have been two World Wars, a flu' pandemic that killed anywhere between 20 and 50 Million people, disruption in the Middle East, and a population explosion that is taxing the finances and social welfare of most first-world nations.

I don't expect the worst of this to happen until I'm long gone, but if history is anything to go by; happen, it will.

Am I worried? Well, no not really. The anti-democracy movement is slightly worrying, but they'll soon see the error of their ways when they actually experience the practical side of anarchy.

Monday 26 October 2020

Last of the Summer Vines.

Now is the time to reflect on the growing year; its successes and its failures.

Other than our leafy Winter Greens, we still have a few Peppers growing, and the final few Aubergines; everything else has been grubbed-up and dug-over. Haddock's is at last looking quite neat and tidy.

I am now looking forward to 2021, and deciding what I will grow more of, and what will be reduced. I don't see much change in my actual crops.

The green Tomatoes are ripening well, in fact we had too many all at once, so sauces were made and and are now in small freezer bags. It's sad to think that the next lot of Tomatoes we eat will probably have been grown indoors; somewhere on the other side of The Pyrenees.

And this, I'm ashamed to say, is the extent of my Pumpkins, Squashes, etc. Dismal.

Sunday 25 October 2020

Welsh Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit.

This person with Corbyn is Wales's First Minister, Mark Drakeford.

It is he, who is responsible for some of the most bizarre UK lockdown regulations. 

Previously he was known only for being an extreme left wing chum of Jezza's, who wanted to trash all the English language road signs in Wales. Obviously a man of dubious priorities.

Today his name has become synonymous with crackpot Welsh shopping regulations. You can buy however much alcohol as you wish, but you can't buy a Pumpkin, or toys, or even replace that broken electric kettle.

So, well done Drakeford; you win the 'Dingbat of the Week' award.... and very well deserved too!

I believe he will be 'reviewing' his list of banned goods very soon. I think that might be wise! 

A bit of Everything.

Spring and Autumn are quite similar; they are both unpredictable and prompt our weather forecasters to say silly things like 'changeable' or 'variable' or 'mercurial'. In other words, one needs to expect a bit of everything.

Take yesterday for example, the morning started wet, then it turned into a nasty drizzly mist, then warm but cloudy, and eventually sunny with a distant rainbow (above). Lady Magnon really didn't know whether to wear her Bikini or her Barbour.

At 5.30 pm we even discussed whether we needed an evening fire or not. We eventually decided we did, but as a result the house became too hot.

During the afternoon my friend Jean-Claude delivered a few cubic metres of Oak logs up to the barn. Whilst stacking them, he informed me that COVID-19 has reached our small nearby Town/Village. There have been several cases, which he informed me were all 'mild'. The town is just 7 Kms away.

This has shocked me, as I was living in the belief that we were reasonably immune out here in no-mans-land. I suppose it was inevitable, complacency has overcome common sense.

We, ourselves, can take all the precautions imaginable, but one can't count on the behaviour of others.  

I am now thinking that it's only a matter of time before it reaches us; unless, of course, there's a bloody miracle.

Still, the sight of a rainbow gives us hope.

Saturday 24 October 2020

A Visit from the Cherub.

He doesn't visit that often, but occasionally he turns up, bringing his big brother Boo Boo, his mother Kellogg, and Wills his Papa, with him.

They've quit Sweden; I think they'll find France more relaxing. Sweden has its well publicised problems with immigrants, and with too many bleeding-heart liberals running the country, those problems are slowly becoming overwhelming. That liberalism, for which Sweden was rightly revered, has now come back to bite them on the bum. The country is turning into a gangster's paradise, with migrant mafia clans terrorising the population, and a police force too weak to control them. Many of their major cities are now almost devoid of natives, as the criminals take control. It's a very sad situation.

They will stay here until it's OK to go to Thailand to oversee the finishing touches to their new villa.

Oz may also be on their list of visits, but it remains to be seen if they'll be allowed in. Covid-19 is responsible for so many restrictions. They have a home on the Goldcoast.

Their constant globe trotting makes me dizzy; personally I'm very happy to be glued to my nice little cottage, although even that may not be permanent with Brexit looming. Our home in Brighton (UK) may well soon be calling to us.


Friday 23 October 2020

Vinyl Albums.

This is becoming a nostalgia page.

I'm not quite sure why I have these records (above) in France, because we've never had a record player here.

You can probably tell as much about someone's character from the vinyl albums he/she owns, as by the books in his/her library.

Having been an Art Student for 5 years in the late 60's/early 70's, my taste in music is definitely representative of that age and probably also of my occupation.

Above is a selection of some favourites that were listened to, probably amongst clouds of strange smelling smoke, whilst also probably sitting crossed-legged on the floor.

The Incredible String Band was essential listening, East of Eden and The Third Ear Band were more suited to acid-induced listening and were definitely 'underground', The Beach Boys were simply fun, Kraftwerk was tedious, and my favourite band of the time, was the Dutch jazz-rock band; Focus.

Focus was a 'musicians band', and possibly the only album (Focus 3) in my collection that I would listen to regularly again; if I had a record player.

Back then, we listened to a lot of pretentious rubbish, but in amongst it all were a few real gems.

Thursday 22 October 2020

The Dark Ages.

When we received our current Phone Book, we were told that it would be the last; the end of an era.

From now on, if you don't know someone personally, there is little hope of phoning them, or even finding their address; unless of course they are advertising themselves on the side of a bus.

I'm of an age when (if we were lucky) we had a large black telephone, with a round finger-hole dial, on a table in the hall (the hall table). The 'phone was in its own little sanctuary, and was used very sparingly; mostly for incoming calls. Such 'phones were rarely found in the drawing room, or elsewhere. There was something very comforting about its positioning; the radio was in the drawing room (maybe with a TV), and the 'phone was in the hall. That's how it was; almost by government decree.

Another antique is my old Nokia. Even if I could find someone's mobile number, my old (and only) mobile could no longer call it. I haven't used it for decades, and it's hardly worth re-activating. I don't own a smartphone.

I tend to keep all this old stuff, as I do all my old laptops etc. However, I'm tempted to chuck out all my video tapes that are stored in a UK loft. They are worthless and I no longer have a video player. I also have boxes filled with cassette tapes; which are also destined for the dustbin. 

How quickly things change.

Wednesday 21 October 2020


It hasn't been a good year here for Apples.

Our standard eating Apple, the Reine de Renette, failed miserably; not a single Apple, whereas last year the ground beneath was knee deep. Also, our Jonagold provided just about four fruits. All the other trees were equally hopeless.

So, it was down to our cooking Apple, the ever faithful Bramley, to save the day. As usual it was loaded; most of which went to the compost. We are now coming to the final few. 

There are plenty of cooked Apples in the freezer (along with the necessary Blackberries for crumbles), but no whole fresh ones in reserve. The few in the photo are our last remaining.

Lady M (a renowned world expert) prides herself on her Tartes Tatin, and has recently been producing at least one a week. Yesterday she informed me that it took just 10 mins to make the tart before popping it in the oven. She could almost make them with her eyes closed and one arm tied behind her back. Believe me; they are delicious!

If you intend making a Tatin, use Bramleys. No other Apple can compare.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

Background music et al.

Just as background music can be more interesting than whatever is fronting it, I often find the backgrounds of cartoons, much more interesting than the action.

The first newspaper cartoonist I ever followed was Giles, who appeared in The Daily Express; his Christmas albums were essential in our house. He put so much more into his work than just the subject matter. His backgrounds were wonderful. I met him in the mid-60's, and was able to tell him what pleasure he'd given me.

Spitting Image is another case in point. Trump's bedside light, No10's cabinet office portraits, and best of all Harry and Megalomaniac's tasteful house interiors.

Her background portrait (above) is a classic example. Don't you just love it. Hilarious.

15 C here this morning, and VERY windy.

Monday 19 October 2020

As if I haven't enough to do.

I hadn't even finished drawing the Hitler moustache on a front page picture of St Tony of Blair when Lady Magnon summoned me to the kitchen.

Being a kindly soul, she'd planned my entire day for me, from setting Mouse traps at the barn, and washing the car, to re-potting some Geraniums for next Summer. Of course, I already had a full day's work ahead, and had little time for her extras.

I'm often reminded of that song 'Busy doing nothing', because that's how my life has become. When Lady M asks me what I'm doing, more than likely I reply 'wandering aimlessly'. It seems to satisfy her, and fits well with her view of me as someone who needs to be found more time-consuming work; to 'keep me out of trouble'.

The cows came up to visit us yesterday. They are Blonde d'Aquitaines; a local breed. I love looking out on them, they are very inquisitive creatures; and very friendly.

What made me mad yesterday? Well it had to be the regular sight of Piers Corbyn and his gang of fellow plonkers, marching around London, mask free, spreading the COVID virus; just as the number of daily deaths goes to 150, an increase of 85% from the time of his last weekend's demo'.  Where DO they find these bloody loonies (below)?

Even the Socialists can't agree. On one hand we have Piers Corbyn telling us that it's all a hoax, on the other Sir Keir Starmer saying that it is so serious that we should have a 100% national lockdown. Boris, meanwhile, is sitting on the fence whilst trying to save the economy (a bit), and being reasonably cautious about the virus. As ghastly as the prospect may seem, I fear Sir Keir may be right this time. Quot homines, tot sententiæ.

Best bit of the day. It was cloudless, and the sun became warm enough to dry the grass, and for me to mow everywhere. That should now be the final mowing of 2020; fingers crossed.

Yesterday, I woke to 2 C. Almost glove weather!

Sunday 18 October 2020

A Sunday Special: ShBoom

It still needs a little refining, but here are those schoolboy KingsBarbers with their version of ShBoom.

Saturday 17 October 2020

The Cost of Cars.


The most I've ever paid for a car was €5,000, and the least was £3.

I would never buy a brand new car, the mark-down once out of the showroom is crazy. I prefer to let others take that loss.

My first car, a white VW Beetle, cost £300, which in around 1968 was possibly quite a lot. I loved that car, and it eventually came with me to France.

The £3 car was fun. I was running an antiques business in London, and we'd heard of a particularly interesting country house sale down in Wiltshire. We went to Stockwell (a rough area of London) and managed to buy a beaten-up Ford Anglia van, with no papers, for THREE QUID. We drove down to Wiltshire, bought a few things at the sale, then later that evening when back in Chelsea, we dumped the car in some quiet back street. I remember that we did rather well on the day's work.

Later in life I bought my wife a blue (ex British Gas) mini van. After a while the gearbox dropped, and I was obliged to hack away at the metal bodywork so that we could get the car into second and fourth gears. I covered over everything with thick carpeting before selling it to some naïve lads for £75.

I've owned a crazy dangerously over-powered Rover 3.5 litre SDI, a rather underpowered but pretty Triumph TR7, a VW Golf rust-bucket, a blue 2CV, a few Italian unmentionables, and my present car the glorious 'Compact Royce', which was the one that cost €5,000; and has probably been my best car ever (see photo).

The 'Compact Royce' is quite naturally French, and was once described by the fragrant Jeremy Clarkson (of Top Gear) as being a shopping car for OAP's. Well that's exactly what she is, and she does the job bloody well!

I do hope that my darling 'Compact Royce' will see me out. It has just passed its tyre-kicking road worthiness test, and is good till Oct 2022. 

If the virus passes me by, I shall continue to worship at the altar of Peugeot.

I am NOT a petrol-head.

Friday 16 October 2020

Much ado about next to nothing.

The weather has been foul recently, and we've been stuck indoors for much of the past few days.

Yesterday afternoon I had to visit my Doc' to have my prescription renewed. Over the past four months I've been allowed to bypass the Doc' and they've left my prescription with the receptionist. Not this time; they needed to see my face, and feel my cash.

Lady Magnon is one of those very annoying readers who, when she finds an amusing passage in a book, will read it aloud to me; which usually (because she mumbles) I can't hear anyway.

She's just finished reading Sasha Swire's 'Diary of an MP's Wife', and it's been passed over to me. I didn't think I'd enjoy it; I was told as much. In fact I find it quite amusing. Hugo Swire's wife kept a 'political diary' from 2010 onwards, and holds no punches. It'll keep me amused whilst it's raining.

I am now wearing long trousers. Mid-October has always been my change-over date, and this year was no exception. Evening fires are also now quite regular.

The last of the Bramleys are now falling, and as I write there is an aroma of Apple-cooking coming from the kitchen; meaning either a crumble or Tatin for this evening; I didn't ask.

At 10 am this morning, we will attend the funeral of a friend. RIP Bernard.

My green Tomatoes seem to be slowly ripening, and I've decided to bring in the final few from Haddock's, to join the others indoors. 

p.s. It was a Tatin; I was roped-in to turn it out from it's baking dish comme d'habitude. Always a hazardous manoeuvre. 

Thursday 15 October 2020


My youngest son, who currently lives in Sweden, is building a villa in Thailand. Things move slowly in Thailand, but at last there seems to have been some advance. I believe he will pop out there quite soon to inspect and make any alterations he seems fit. I see that some of his previous modifications have been seen to.

The pool seems quite small to me, but it is an infinity pool which is nice.

I like to see rough wooden scaffolding around a building. Any builder who can run about on such a ramshackle construction, must be worth his weight in gold.

Anyway, it's coming along well, and all looks OK.


Wednesday 14 October 2020

Le cochon fermier - Gueuleton

Those happy bonvivants Vincent and Arthur visit a Pig farm. I expect that Pork is the most widely eaten meat here in France, much of which is sadly 'factory' reared. Sourcing good quality Pork (and all other meats) is essential. This farm seems to go overboard!

Just looks at those 'chops'.

Tuesday 13 October 2020

Billy and Amie.

It must be said that Billy's day is not complete if he hasn't played with his girlfriend, Amie. They adore each other.

Dogs enjoy the company of their 'keepers', but quite naturally they much prefer the company of fellow canines. Billy is never as happy as when he's playing with Amie.

Their games take a regular pattern. Amie finds something (above a Lily leaf) and taunts Billy with her 'trophy'.  Billy then (of course) tries to take it from her. They can play this game for ever.


Monday 12 October 2020

Cough-up Xi.

I get very annoyed by all the irresponsible reporting that circulates about COVID. I read countless daily criticisms of Trump and Boris. The Democrats in the USA, and the Socialists in the UK, would almost have us believe that between them they'd developed COVID-19 in some back room, and released it in order to kill-off as many of their own citizens as possible. 

As bad as the pandemic has been, this is clearly nonsense. Had Hillary been elected in the US, and Corbyn in the UK, they would no doubt have handled the situation in exactly the same way; and suffered the same criticisms.

The only name that doesn't appear amongst such critiques, is that of Xi Jinping. If anyone should be pilloried in this pandemic; it's him. Even now the Chinese refuse to give details of how, and why, this virus managed to escape.

Conspiracy theories abound; most of which are pure fantasy. China's ruling 'politburo' keeps a tight hold both on it's citizens, and on the information it reveals, so I don't expect we'll ever know the truth, although many China-escapees are suggesting that this was a Laboratory Developed Bio-Weapon that found its way out. 

What we are certain about, however, it that the resulting global economic disaster will take years, if not decades, to remedy, and maybe China should be made to cough-up!

Can Xi seriously allow such a disaster to happen, killing over a million people, and not be held responsible?

Sunday 11 October 2020

Bake-off again.

I enjoy Bake off, but it's far too long, and it's also becoming too 'jokey'; with very poor jokes. I watch the repeat on Saturdays at mid-day.

This last week's programme was all about 'Bread'. They baked Soda Bread, sickly-looking multi coloured Bagels, and personalised Harvest Loaves; most of which were dreadful.

Being the age I am, I am used to the more traditional Harvest Loaf (above). In the UK at Harvest Festival, every baker had a very beautiful Wheatsheaf loaf in their front window, to demonstrate their skills. 

I expect they're still made, but probably nowadays stamped out of a mould. I can't imagine that many bakers would go to the extent of making them by hand these days. I may be wrong.

I have always wanted to buy one, not to eat, but to allow it to dry out completely, then varnish to preserve it. I would hang it on my wall somewhere. For a few pounds one would have a magnificent 'sculpture' to admire all year round.

The one above would be perfect.


Saturday 10 October 2020

Bull gets sweet revenge.

Very rarely do I wish ill on anyone, but in this case I will make an exception. I'm just amazed that the Bull didn't finish what he'd started!

Friday 9 October 2020

That time of Year.

Fellow country folk will recognise the scene. Green Tomatoes brought in from the garden in the hope that they'll ripen on a windowsill, in the airing cupboard, or elsewhere.  

Some will ripen, but most won't. In the past I've made chutney, that no-one ate. This year I've made  short term pickles (they only keep for a month). Slices of Green Tomato in vinegar, water, sugar, salt, and black peppercorns. I have tasted them, and they're good.

I may hang some loaded tresses from a beam somewhere, and hope they ripen like that. We'll see.

Thursday 8 October 2020

Cai Thomas sings Suo Gan

This MUST be the most perfect version of Suo Gan. The young Cai Thomas does a wonderful job.

Stuffed Green Peppers.

I suddenly have a glut of Green Peppers. They have little chance of turning red, so I'm finding uses for them as often as possible. 

Normally for this recipe I use bottled whole Red Peppers, but it's the perfect opportunity to use a few home grown ones.

I stuff the raw Peppers with Brandade, which is a mix of Potato, salt Cod, Olive oil, and garlic. These are placed in a small cast iron 'tian' dish, drizzled with white wine and more olive Oil, then roasted for about 40 mins.

This dish is more typical of Spain than France, but its popularity crosses The Pyrenees. 

My photo doesn't do justice to the finished dish; I forgot to take a snap of it direct from the oven. Anyway, it was cheap, simple, and delicious; what more could one want.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

How to make tomato passata | Pasta Grannies

Being a preserver of Tomato products myself, I have to admire these wonderful 'Pasta Grannies' on their efficiency, and the quantities they deal with. My own method is very similar, only on a much smaller scale.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Did it work?

Regular readers may remember that I experimented with a new plant 'rooting system' (above) back in early August; I used a compost-filled Tennis Ball rather than an expensive purpose-made black plastic job. 

My target was a red flowering Oleander, and I followed the instructions exactly.

The prescribed two months have now passed, so I opened up to see if it had worked.

Nothing, nix, nowt, nada, rien de tout, niente. Not a single hint of a root. Bloody useless. Total waste of time!

Monday 5 October 2020


I fear we may not be having any Cèpes this year, we'll see; but these wonderful Parasols are growing well everywhere.

They are unquestionably one of our favourite mushrooms. Simply fried in Olive Oil and a pinch of salt (no garlic), they are a really special treat.

These will be my tomorrow's (this morning's) breakfast.


Sunday 4 October 2020

It's Back. Spitting Image, Official Trailer.

It was one of the funniest satirical shows of the mid-1980's, and now it's back again. As rude and irreverent as ever, I look forward to some classic episodes.

Expect to see The Sussex's, Putin, Trump, Boris, Kanye West and wife, and even dear Greta thingy.

Here's a taster.

Saturday 3 October 2020


I now hear that 'Bake off' is the most popular show on ITV. I shall watch the repeat today at lunchtime. Hmmmm!

The mornings are becoming far too dark; this interferes with my day.

US politics is becoming like a Tweety and Sylvester cartoon. Tweety manages to survive, whilst the scheming Sylvester does his best to defeat him. Now Sylvester has had the tables turned.

When we really needed the rain, it stayed away. Now that we no longer need it, it pours for days on end.

Beyond the studio, I now look out on black plastic sheeting. The water looked so inviting as we closed the pool on Wednesday. Nine months before we open up again.

I have a good stock of sawn logs, we have plenty of oil for the emergency oil heater, and the Autumn duvet is back on the bed. I'm still wearing shorts.

I 'sort-of' approved of Sir Keir Starmer when he took over from Corbyn, but he's already beginning to get on my nerves. Labour are 3 points ahead of the Conservatives in the polls; but I don't see this affecting another Tory win. Labour are too irresponsible, and offer nothing more than a whinge from the side-lines. A political party is not only about its leader, one also has to consider all the plonkers in the back room.

Having 'mothballed' the pool, it leaves me with about an extra hour of free time every day. I shall use this for painting, drawing, etc.

I wish I could find a book that really keeps me enthralled. I seem to read too many books that are lacklustre, and fail to inspire. 

With this sudden change in the weather, we are now into Choucroute season, and we shall have some this evening.

That's all I can think about this morning.

Friday 2 October 2020

Damned if he does, damned if he doesn't.

Poor old Boris, I really wouldn't like to have his job at the moment. He moved into No 10 expecting to organise the UK's post-Brexit world, and immediately found himself facing the worst pandemic since 1918.

I genuinely think he is doing his best, but his best is an easy target for critics. Would lack-lustre Corbyn have done a better job? I very much doubt it. Labour will, of course, attack any weakness, and revel in doing so, that's their job at the moment; to oppose. A Labour front-bencher recently stated that the pandemic was "A good crisis which they intend to exploit".

Contradictions are everywhere. Drinkers have to be out of the pubs by 10 pm, but partying continues into the early hours with shop-bought booze. Students were warned about the risks they'd face if they returned to college. Huge numbers took no notice, and the rate of infections amongst them has surged; yet they still hold illegal mass raves.

The virus is spread as a result of the public's irresponsibility; not because of government warnings or incompetence. The world in is an unknown arena, and politicians in all countries are dealing with it as best they can. No-one has yet found a fool proof solution, and it looks as if any 100% effective vaccination is still a long way off. World deaths are now over a million.

Criticism is part of the job for a PM or POTUS; they know that before they take the job, but politicians are not medics, and we shouldn't expect them to be so. However one cannot help COVID becoming politicised; we now hear that Jeremy Corbyn has been caught breaking the 'rule of six' at a dinner party, his loony brother Piers refuses to even accept that COVID exists, and Boris's own dad has been caught not wearing his mask whilst out shopping. Naughty boys.

My own way of coping involves sticking to the rules about travel, masks, gatherings, etc; then simply using common sense. Luckily we are able to do this quite easily as we are rural dwellers. Urbanites need to be much more cautious.

Thank goodness I'm not a student in these virus-crazy days. The urge to go out, have fun, drink, go rutting, etc, was all embracing in my 20's. Luckily I'm now in my dotage, and am happy with a good book, a cup of tea, and a McVitie's chocolate digestive. I expect Boris wishes he could join me!

Thursday 1 October 2020

Breakfast is always a complicated meal for me, mostly because no decisions are made in advance of entering the kitchen at about 7 am. I need to think about both how I feel, and what's available.

The choice is huge, and I've previously written about many of my choices; from Caviar on toast, to a slice or two of haggis, or, if there is any, some left-over curry.

At this time of year we usually have several giant Marmande type Tomatoes hanging around, which need to be eaten. There was a half eaten one in the fridge

I take a couple of thick slices of the Tomato, toast a nice big slice of Sourdough, and in no time I have one of the most delicious breakfasts on earth. Fried Tomatoes on Toast.

This wouldn't work with tasteless shop-bought Toms; they really do need to be the real thing. The flavour is incomparable.

Good Olive oil for frying, plenty of butter on the toast, and some freshly ground pepper, complete the picture.

This was so good; one forgets such simple things. I may even have the same again this morning!

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