Thursday, 31 December 2020
Wednesday, 30 December 2020
We've been having some pretty wild and windy weather lately.
En route to my shopping yesterday I came across a huge tree that had fallen half across the road. Luckily I managed to squeeze through, but it was still there when I returned an hour later. Usually such things are dealt with very quickly. I expect it had gone by lunchtime.
Later, Lady M called me to look at some damage nearer to home. 'Dangerous Fun' had totally collapsed. Over the years, the trees have grown and the structure has been pulled apart; the strong wind did the rest. It's been there since 2013, so it's served us well. It'll serve us again now as firewood, unless I can find some other use for what's left.
Such is life!
Tuesday, 29 December 2020
I must admit that I'm quite happy that all the Christmas hullabaloo is now over.
We had a wonderful few days. The food was 98% good, the children really enjoyed themselves, and everyone had far too many gifts. A classic Christmas.
I'm not fussed about staying up till midnight to welcome the New Year. If there's a good line-up on Jools Holland's Hootenanny TV programme, then I might be tempted; but otherwise, no.
Actually, I have looked at Jools's 2020/21 guest list, and other than Ruby Turner, I'm not really fussed.
Our main concerns now turn to Brexit. I'm pleased to see that my E111 health card will still be valid; albeit in a new format, but the prospect of being unable to stay in our own home for more than 90 days is crazy. This really needs to be re-negotiated. Freedom of movement is a universal human right, and MUST be preserved; regardless of any Macron/Bernier puerile Brit-bashing. They lost the game; get over it!
Winter is now here. It has been cold (zero C), very wet, and icily windy; with a few sub-zero nights still to come for early January. There is little outside work to be done, so a spot of extra log sawing duties presents no problem.
Books will be read, afternoon snoozes will be enjoyed in front of the fire, and slow cooked casseroles will warm our bellies. Life isn't all shivering, we enjoy walks with Billy and the children, and we chat with friendly neighbours. I don't like winter; in an ideal world I would now be in Martinique, Guadeloupe, or the Réunion. But, frankly, I can't be bothered.
I'll just have to bloody put-up with it until things warm!
Monday, 28 December 2020
Sunday, 27 December 2020
Saturday, 26 December 2020
Friday, 25 December 2020
Thursday, 24 December 2020
Wednesday, 23 December 2020
Tuesday, 22 December 2020
Monday, 21 December 2020
Sunday, 20 December 2020
Saturday, 19 December 2020
Friday, 18 December 2020
So, what can we do about the wretched EU?
It looks as if Italy could be the next country to quit the EU. I hear that they will wait a couple of years to see how things go for the UK, then hold a referendum; which current thinking suggests would probably end in a LEAVE vote. They have been treated too badly.
Now, France and Germany are almost exclusively paying for the likes of Bulgaria, Cyprus, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, and a few other of the 20+ remaining poorer countries. No wonder they are so annoyed that the UK quit.
What I suggest is this. France and Germany should follow the UK's example, put their childish tantrums and belligerence behind them, pre-empt any future disaster, and both quit the EU in order to form a tripartite union with 'England'. All three countries are well positioned geographically, and their economies (regardless of their love/hate relationships) are the strongest in Europe. As a threesome they would make an extremely powerful (non-political) trading union. The smaller but financially secure Holland and Belgium (as they are locked by borders) would also be included.
At their next general elections, the two countries should vote for 'leave' parties. In France for the FN, and in Germany for the AfD. Both countries could then quit the EU; with more middle-of-the-road, less focused, main-stream political parties returned to power a short time later.
This would leave just 20+ EU mostly poverty-stricken member countries, hopefully including a newly independent Scotland, to do whatever they wished. Shake their fists, make impossible demands of each other, and probably run amok; start a war even.
Wouldn't that be fun! What chances do you think there are of this happening?
Yup, that's what I thought.
Thursday, 17 December 2020
Wednesday, 16 December 2020
Tuesday, 15 December 2020
So I simply think of them instead, and being quite an emotional person, I might ever shed a few private tears as well. I see no harm in this.
Monday, 14 December 2020
I've just been listening to Juliet Stevenson reading 'A House Full of Daughters' on BBC Radio 4.
The book by Juliet Nicholson is a biography of her family through the eyes of its daughters, with insights into Knole, Vita Sackville-West, and Sissinghurst.
A life of privilege, tragedy, and fame, a circle that most of us will never enter; but one that fascinates.
If such things interest you, Juliet Stevenson's reading is a delight, and the tale it reveals is fascinating.
It should be around somewhere on iPlayer or BBC Sounds.
They've been a staple diet of the Middle East and North Africa since time immemorial.
I imagine they first became popular in the UK with the arrival of Hummus; even then, I don't suppose many associated Hummus with actual Chickpeas. It was a while until tinned Chickpeas appeared on our shelves.
The more I eat them, the more I like them. Not only do I make my own Hummus (below), but otherwise they always appear in my Moroccan Tagines, and in my Chana Masala, which is one of the most common vegetarian curries in all of India; basically Chickpeas and Tomatoes with spices.
Dried Chickpeas will last for years. When reconstituted and cooked they make a highly nourishing meal; add some unleavened bread and you have all you need.
Sunday, 13 December 2020
Saturday, 12 December 2020
Friday, 11 December 2020
Thursday, 10 December 2020
Wednesday, 9 December 2020
We've noticed over recent weeks/months, that Billy's large sack of (very expensive) dry food has been 'interfered with'.
We keep his food in the studio. It's in a 10 kg bag, which we've occasionally found knocked over, clawed at, and generally mauled. It's been obvious that some creature has been helping itself.
This morning I found it dragged about a foot away from where I'd left it, claw marks all over it, and a good handful of 'croquettes' over the floor. I eliminated all previous possible culprits, and turned my attention to the cat flap, and one renowned local wild cat.
I've now locked the cat flap, and also secured it from both inside and outside with metal grills and a heavy flower pot. If the devil can get past all that, then good luck to him.
Monday, 7 December 2020
Sunday, 6 December 2020
Billy is a fun dog, but he has his eccentricities.
I really enjoy taking him for his early morning walk each day. He so obviously enjoys himself that every day he makes me smile. He has a beautiful spring in his legs that simply oozes 'fun'. No Deer is safe from a good chasing.
However, he does occasionally show strange behaviour. Every time I attach his lead he curls into a ball as if he's about to be beaten; I have no idea why he does this. He also hates being brushed, and will often snap at us; we have to reassure him that it's all OK.
He has never been abused by us, but occasionally his behaviour suggests that he has; and that he's frightened of us. He quite often shows signs of fear. We did have a couple of neighbours who HAVE been nasty to him, throwing stones, kicking, and hitting him with a stick, etc; so maybe it has left a mark.
Luckily the worst of these people has now moved away. It's strange that whenever we met these people's own dogs they have always come to say 'hello'. If one is kind to animals, usually they reciprocate the kindness. We've always had a lot of canine visitors; they didn't.
Generally he's a lovely dog to be with. He has boundless energy. He'll chase, and bring back, Tennis balls all day long. He's also madly in love at the moment, the object of his passion being a beautiful German Shephard called Amie.
It is claimed that a dog covers about 10 times the distance of his/her owner whilst out walking. In Billy's case I would raise that figure to 50 times!
I should add that his pink nose is now almost all filled-in with black. Another few months and he'll be the most handsome Border Collie in France (well, actually, he already is).
Out in the country the change of seasons is more poignant than in town, and our meals follow suite. Many town dwellers would see no difference between their July Big Mac, and a January Big Mac, but if we were to eat a Greek Salad at Christmas, or a Lancashire Hot Pot in August, it would seem very odd.
Saturday, 5 December 2020
Friday, 4 December 2020
It is often claimed that the best sign of fresh clean air is that of Lichens growing on trees; the more Lichens, the purer the air quality.
Presuming that this observation is correct, I must be living in one of the best air-quality areas in the whole world. Some of our trees are so covered in Lichens, that one can no longer see any bark. The above is a branch of the Greengage tree just outside our front door.
It is also claimed that the first 'plants' to suffer as a result of polluted air are mushrooms; and in particular Girolles and the jet black Trompette de la Mort; both of which are particularly at risk.
2020 has been a bad year here for mushrooms. In spring we had just one meagre picking of Girolles, we had no Cèpes to speak of. Now in November we are finding very few Hedgehog Mushrooms, and not a single Trompette.
Of course, mushroom growth is dependent on the right amount of rainfall and warmth at the right time, and this is more likely the cause of their rarity this year rather than pollution. Rainfall is certainly a problem, with lakes and rivers being much lower than a decade or so ago.
When we first moved to the village, at this season I would go out looking for Hedgehog Mushrooms with a huge basket. It was always quickly filled, and I would go out again as soon as I'd unloaded them. The merchant came to the house every other day, and he never left without several kilos. I have just returned from the woods with nothing.
Thursday, 3 December 2020
These days you are as likely to find a French bistro menu, as a Thai menu. The choice of ethnicity in today's pubs is endless.
The one thing you're probably least likely to find is an old fashioned pub where people gather around the bar with a pint and bag of scratchings. Pubs are now more likely to be restaurants than boozers.
For me, 'a pub' should be synonymous with 'a local', where you go in the evening for a pint, a chat, and conviviality. I don't want my local to become simply a convenient restaurant for passing motorists.
Sadly the old fashioned local pub is fast disappearing, as landlords desperately need the sale of food to survive. Sell food or fold. Things change, and I suppose we have to accept it.
In a post-Covid world, where 10,000 pubs are predicted never to re-open, the traditional non-food-serving pubs (now known as 'wet pubs') will probably be the first to go.
What a shame.
Wednesday, 2 December 2020
However, to mention this might cause another 100 years war.
Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Softly, softly, catchee monkey.