Wednesday, 27 October 2021
Tuesday, 26 October 2021
Never a dull moment.
My first instinct was to call the police to see if anyone had reported them either stolen or missing. I was fobbed-off by some 'clerk' who suggested that I try 'Social Media'.
The only form of 'Social Media' to which I subscribe is Facebook, so I entered the name which appeared on the Driving Licence, and up she came at once. Luckily she had an unusual name.
I sent a message, to which she instantly replied. We arranged that she would pick up her cards chez nous that afternoon. She wasn't very forthcoming about how she'd lost them, but she had cancelled the bank card. It still remains something of a mystery. Anyway, she was extremely happy to have them back.
I have only lost my wallet once. It was at Cahors railway station, and it contained not only money, but all my plastic cards and other important stuff. I was totally devastated. Two days later a 'tramp' arrived at the house with the whole lot intact. As you might imagine, I was instantly elated. I crossed his palm with silver, and thanked him profusely. He claimed to have walked the 50Kms from Cahors to return it.
p.s. Not long before the girl arrived, I was looking out from our front bay window and was shocked to see a beautiful young Fox lying down on our doorstep.
Monday, 25 October 2021
I love Flint walls.
In her fascinating 1936 book 'Sussex Cottage', Esther Meynell briefly talks of her love for Flint walls. Having been brought-up in Sussex, they had always been something I'd taken for granted, but she made me look again at them in a new light.
Unfortunately the book is in France, so I cannot refer to it. 'The net' is woefully short of all the intriguing names I was looking for. However, here are a few favourites that I do remember.
This very regular form of round Flint work, above, is called 'Potato Plant' (for obvious reasons). The rows of Flints are separated by a line of pointing, and the whole job looks extremely smart. It's a shame that this nearby example has been painted.
A method reserved for high status buildings, churches, etc, is this 'Square knapped' work. You can imagine the hours of work involved 'knapping' every Flint to the same size; an art in itself. The Flints are then laid almost like bricks; a very beautiful technique.
And finally, possibly the most common method of building with Flint is known as 'Snail Creep', where halved flints are arranged in an almost haphazard way, leaving a very pleasant looking textured wall, bordered by either stone or brick.
Flint walling is not exclusively found in Sussex, examples can be found throughout East Anglia; especially in Norfolk; in fact wherever Flint is found. These three examples are from within a few metres of our own 'Flintless' home.
Sunday, 24 October 2021
I've been back in the UK for a whole week, and I'm loving it.
At home I've been painting, decorating, and doing general DIY jobs, but outside I've been either shopping, organising, or at my local. Kimbo has forced me out to 'The Caxton', which is about 100 metres away (above).
In France our house came totally equipped. Everything from several different types of salt, a huge variety of curry pastes and powders, apples on trees, and a ready supply of Cavolo Nero growing at Haddock's; it had all that I needed at easy reach. However, returning to a house that had almost nothing except for a few basics that Kimbo had supplied, is quite an experience.
Every day I write a long list of essentials. Mustard, chilli sauce, gherkins, capers, tinned tomatoes, pasta of various shapes, rice, fatted calf, etc. For the moment I am making daily shopping trips rather than my usual once a week.
I have managed to register with a doctor, I have my bus pass on order, and I have semi-sorted a banking dilemma. I'm not totally happy with contactless card DIY shopping; but I'll get used to it. Otherwise, everything is going according to plan.
What I hadn't expected was to receive several calls each day on our land-line from people with thick Indian accents trying to sell me things that I don't want. I had hoped to leave that side of life back in France; but they've found me!
Everything is going well, and we are having fun. We even had a Thai take-away last night; it was spectacular!!
Saturday, 23 October 2021
Friday, 22 October 2021
Thursday, 21 October 2021
Wednesday, 20 October 2021
Life, it has to be said, was previously very quiet in our tiny hamlet, but we kept busy with plenty of regular bucolic tasks.
Sadly life had also become accompanied by a few who (I imagine) are unhappy with their lot, then compensated by visiting their anger and frustration on others. I could never imagine Billy having stones thrown at him, or being kicked over here; fortunately people are more civilised than that.
We are now back in the world of pleasant reality where everything goes at a fast pace driven by energetic people of vision and verve, and where friendliness is a way of life. We have left our sleepy hamlet, for the serious hustle, bustle, and urgency of the young en masse, where people smile and randomly say "hello", eccentricity is almost obligatory, and neighbours leisurely pass the time of day as once they did back in France.
We arrived on a Saturday evening and the city was buzzing. The young (18-30-ish) were everywhere in huge numbers, and were out for a good time. Driving through the crowds wasn't easy, it was like New Year's Eve in Trafalgar Square. The bohemian atmosphere for which the city is famous, was palpable.
Fellow dog-walkers become instant friends; Simon and Ziggy, Max and Rufus, a man with a red beard with a black dog, and others that came and went too quickly to remember all their names. All around there is an instant feeling of being back home, but in a totally different and friendlier world; I honestly thought I would never say such a thing.
Neighbours that we've known from way back were genuinely pleased to see us again, and welcomed us 'home'. We've already had several callers, and consumed plenty of wine and champagne together.
Amongst all this amazing energy, our little street remains peaceful and almost 'undiscovered', yet right at the epicentre of this wonderful city. The mostly Georgian/Victorian houses are well kempt and reflect their hyped values. Their owners all appear to be happy and successful.
I've only been shopping once. A new Sainsbury 'express' store has opened nearby, and my purchases were accompanied by modern rock/swing music rather than the depressing dirge that I'm used to in France. The clients were all young (except me), rather than all being old back in France.
New restaurants of all nationalities have replaced uninteresting shops, and if there are empty shelves, a lack of petrol, and a feeling of post-Brexit depression; it certainly isn't here. Do not believe the hype.
Where some nearby towns (Worthing, Eastbourne, etc) are known as 'God's Waiting Rooms', this city is alive, well, and buzzing. We already feel invigorated. It's wonderful.
Yes, our dustman have been on strike, and yes there are piles of rubbish everywhere, but they are going to remove it very soon. The Foxes, Seagulls, and even Magpies, are putting on weight, and will no doubt be very miffed when their 'pop-up restaurants' are removed.
Work on the house continues. The main work has been done, but not the finishing. We shall have workmen in dribs and drabs for a while yet. However, all is looking great, and we have no complaints.
All in all, I'm very happy with our re-location. My 'hermit's cap' has been temporarily put away, and I'm really enjoying my new-style freedom.
As long as Covid's kiss passes me by, I shall remain content, and be patient before we return South again; we have a huge amount of work to do.
We shall soon have our booster and flu jabs. I should add that the carefree folk of Brighton seem to be blissfully unaware that Covid even exists!
p.s. And yes; I'm still wearing shorts!
Tuesday, 19 October 2021
Friday, 15 October 2021
Thursday, 14 October 2021
Wednesday, 13 October 2021
Tuesday, 12 October 2021
Monday, 11 October 2021
The older one gets, the more reflective one becomes. I don't know what made me think of Dr S.
The UK's National Health Service was founded in the Summer of '48; two years after I was born.
This, of course, means that I was born in the days of private medicine. I took my first breath in a private Nursing Home in Horley Surrey, not far from our home in Lingfield.
Lingfield only had a District Nurse. Nurse Blunt was a wonderful Margaret Rutherford style woman who travelled both by bicycle and Austin 7 (?), depending on the distance to her next victim.
Our Doctor was a few miles away in East Grinstead. Dr Somerville was half Grizzly Bear, half man, he looked a little like James Robertson Justice, and bellowed at his patients. He was actually very nice, and very good at his job. He always called me 'Face-ache'.
Also in East Grinstead was our Dentist. Dr White had been a Doctor before becoming a Dentist; goodness knows why.
Either Sommerville or White (I can't remember which) had a six foot tall automaton drinking Bear in his surgery, which we all loved. Sadly I had a very unfortunate experience with Dr White (involving a broken syringe needle) and it instigated my life-long fear of Dentists.
I can remember when very young, just popping-in to see my Doctor if I felt something wasn't quite right. He was very understanding and patient with me. He probably said a few kind words, then, when I'd gone, phoned my mother to say I'd visited. I actually rather LIKED him.
The only online reference I can find to Dr Sommerville was a wartime tragedy where he was sent to attend a woman who'd been blown out of her home during a bombing raid. The poor woman was found, severely injured, in her garden, and taken to a Nursing Home where Sommerville offered his spare time. Sadly the woman died the following day.
Sunday, 10 October 2021
Saturday, 9 October 2021
Friday, 8 October 2021
Thursday, 7 October 2021
Wednesday, 6 October 2021
Tuesday, 5 October 2021
Monday, 4 October 2021
Sunday, 3 October 2021
Saturday, 2 October 2021
Certain of the UK's current problems can undoubtedly be attributed to Brexit (mostly as a result of revenge from the EU), but not as many as certain hard-core 'remainers' would have you believe. It was always predicted that there would be teething problems, and we are beginning to see where things could (should) be changed. I must declare my interest; I voted to remain.
Overall I think that Brexit will prove to be good for the future of the UK, but there will continue to be a settling-down period for some time.
I would like to suggest to Boris & Co that they look long and hard at where improvements to his leaving 'deal' could be made; not only to make post-Brexit life easier for the UK, but also for the EU who have much more to lose.
There are two major issues; The Single Market, and Freedom of Movement. Both must be addressed as soon as possible. There is no reason why the UK's leaving the EU should have such a punishing effect on both sides; the UK should apply to re-join The Single Market as soon as is possible.
The Single Market is not dissimilar to The Common Market that the UK joined back in 1973. It guarantees free movement of goods, services, capital, and people. It enabled all citizens to study, live, shop, work, and even retire, in any member country. Nothing nasty about that.
Freedom of Movement within member countries was known as 'The Schengen Agreement', which also included non-member countries such as Norway, Iceland, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Most of this is already covered by The Single Market.
Re-applying to join The Single Market, and to renew European Freedom of movement, would not be seen as backing down, just relaxing rules that are creating difficulties on both sides of the Channel.
I would like to see Boris opening-up negotiations as soon as possible when the Covid crisis calms. It would be good for everyone, and would not affect the UK's (so-called) 'regained sovereignty'.
Friday, 1 October 2021
I am not pro the death penalty, but there are certain crimes so vile that the perpetrator should willingly accept to surrender his or her life.
The very idea that a Police Officer should ostensibly arrest someone, put them in handcuffs, then drive them 50 miles only to be raped and murdered, is beyond imagination. Such pre-meditated evil should be given the ultimate of sentences, and should be accepted by the guilty party.
This is not a demand to bring back the noose, as crimes such as the above are rare, but just occasionally such people as Wayne Couzens, who murdered 33 year old Sarah Everard, should be 'dispatched' as quickly as possible; and spoken of no more!
Couzens has now been sentenced, and will spend his whole life in prison; no question of parole.
I will not even show his image.
Thursday, 30 September 2021
Wednesday, 29 September 2021
Q: If you employ a three person workforce at £10 per hour each, how much do you pay all three for their hour's work?
Q: If you employ just two workers at £15 per hour each, how much do you pay the duo for an hour's work?
Q: If you can only afford to pay £30 per hour for your workforce, how many of your three workers will you need to sack after having jumped their pay from £10 per hour to £15 per hour?
These may sound like very basic Lower 4th Maths exam questions, and most of us would get the answers right. However, some don't seem to grasp the indications. If you increase basic pay by 50%, prices will invariably rise, and unemployment will also rise; of that there is no doubt.
Could someone please explain this to Sir Keir and The Labour Party; or are they simply very happy to be in opposition for the foreseeable future? We all know that The Labour Party is the party of high unemployment, and high taxes; but if they're looking for votes they should be a tad more caring towards those who traditionally vote for them.
I don't wish to knock Dear Angela Rayner (Deputy Leader, and The Shadow Secretary of State for The Future of Work), but she did leave school aged 16 without any qualifications. It's beginning to show!
Dontcha love 'em?
Tuesday, 28 September 2021
Monday, 27 September 2021
Sunday, 26 September 2021
Saturday, 25 September 2021
Friday, 24 September 2021
The UK joined The Common Market in January 1973, but this had no easing effect on the complications of our moving to France in September of that same year.
The difficulties we faced are little known about, simply because so very few people joined my example. In the area where I settled, I was just about the first Englishman since the end of The 100 Years' War.
Since the EU replaced the old Common Market, moving to any mainland European country has been made very easy. You now buy your house, and simply transfer the Euros direct from your bank account back home. No different to buying a home in Blighty. When I bought my first big old farmhouse (below), things were very different. We even had to declare all imports; furniture, car, dog, etc, on which I had to pay an instant import tax.
In 1973 there were still strict 'Exchange Controls' in place. In order to send large sums of money abroad one was obliged to buy 'Investment Dollars' through The Bank of England, then use these to buy French Francs later. Everyone took their percentage. At the same time, holidaymakers going abroad were limited to £60 spending money. It was a period of severe financial restrictions.
It was a long and costly experience; but we pulled-through; eventually signing papers one day before we would have lost our 10% deposit (and the house) after the prescribed 6 months.
I was only 25, and had left behind some good jobs, and business ventures. I had no plans, so I'd made sure I had enough in the bank back home to see me through the first 10 years; I never touched a penny of that money, and by the time I temporarily returned to the UK in 1980, it had doubled.
I started an Artists Painting Centre, which I very soon closed on account of the bizarre people it attracted; I literally feared for my wife and children. Then I worked as a Stone Cutter for a while, and although I enjoyed the creative side of the work, the actual execution was more suited to hefty Neanderthals than present day Humans. Chiselling away at huge lumps of stone, then lifting them into place, was for 'others'.
Life was not always smooth. My daughter very nearly died of Peritonitis through poor medical diagnosis, my wife had baby No 3, and we had one other medical emergency. As 'foreigners', all hospital care had to be paid for with cash. No free NHS in France.
I'm happy to say that I've never sponged off either the UK or French benefit systems, I've paid all my bills on time, never been in debt, and I've never been in any trouble; I'm not that type. Nothing special about all that, you might say; but you'd be surprised by how many ex-pats cannot say the same!
It's been great fun over the past 48 years. We've had some wonderful neighbours, even though recently some have rather spoiled our peaceful atmosphere. 'Townie' newcomers often have no understanding of the previous calm and gentility of a tiny hamlet, and one has to bite one's lip and despair in silence.
Of course now the UK is no longer a member of the EU, and our status here has changed. Once again we would have to apply for a Carte de Séjour (residency permit) with all that that entails, if we wished to stay in our own home for 12 months of the year. However, with our particular situation it wouldn't be viable. I have always paid my taxes to my native country, and shall continue to do so. I am very much an Englishman. As non-EU members, I believe that all British ex-Pat 'residents' will soon be obliged to pay Taxes in France on all worldwide income, capital gains, inheritances, etc. No thank you!
p.s. I should add that entirely 'by chance' I learned that I had continued to own the 'Investment Dollars' that I'd purchased in 1973, and that they could be sold back to The Bank of England. I filled in the forms in about 1979, and received a very welcomed, and unexpected, £2,000. The value of the Investment Dollars that I'd held had more than doubled in value. A few months later they were abandoned, and I would no longer have received a penny.
Thursday, 23 September 2021
Wednesday, 22 September 2021
When I read of Brooklyn Sean's delightful gift to Trelawnyd's favourite son John Gray, I hardly expected anything similar turning-up chez Cro.
Monday is my 'adverts' day. Usually a bunch of supermarket, shoe-shop, garden centre, hardware store, etc, advertising bumf, turns-up in my mail box; most of which gets instantly 'sent to ground'.
However, on Monday an exceptionally large package also arrived; I was fascinated but confused. It turned out to be from my good friend Tony, in England, who had previously lived just a few hundred metres away from me before leaving unexpectedly. We were at college together (above Tony right, me left)The package included several 'collages' that he now makes. Having designed some of Dubai's most iconic buildings, as well as part of its infamous airport, he now confines himself to the art of 'collage' back in Surrey, two of which I've already framed.
Sadly, Tony suffers from MS, but this hasn't quelled his desire to 'create', and he now spends his days snipping and pasting. In a recent letter he compared his work in Dubai to what he does today; describing the latter as being 'just as fulfilling'. That pleases me enormously.
I love keeping in contact with old friends. We all know that our time here is limited, and we should make the most of it. Tony and I have a lot in common. We have very similar educational and family backgrounds; and we think in a similar way. Our interests are much the same, and we both refuse to suffer fools gladly. I was pleased to read that he still has an acerbic tongue for those who wronged him.
I don't think he reads this page, but I send him my thanks, and very best wishes. We need more Tonys in the world.
Tuesday, 21 September 2021
This page (like so many others) is about daily life; often hum-drum, but occasionally dramatic.
I talk about the veg' I grow, our animals, life out in the countryside, our projects, my frustration with the Woke brigade who wish to sweep away the UK's rich and wonderful history, and even about people (who I've only ever been nice to) who shout at me at for no discernible reason. All is here, and open for all to see. I name the good, and always hide the identity of the bad.
Our lives here have been like the proverbial calm flowing stream. We were lucky to have good very neighbours, then unlucky to have a few not so good newcomers. The newcomers not realising what an impact they've had on the charm and tranquillity of such a tiny hamlet. They sadly considered it their right to cause chaos, mess, and noise.
However, living is such a tiny community, we consider it our duty to make things look as nice as possible. We mow our lawns regularly, swathe our buildings in flowering climbers, and our pool is beautifully 'landscaped' into the garden. Our cottage is certainly amongst the prettiest homes in the area, and its surrounding garden is always neat and tidy. Very 'English Home Counties', I suppose.
It is partly this which has prompted our horror at seeing the Water Co happily tearing up our trees, and digging holes in the lawn. It is soul destroying seeing the damage they cause without a care in the world. Had they kept detailed plans of where everything was buried, none of this would have been necessary.
Unfortunately, we have also recently had several nights of very heavy rain, and this has made matters even worse by washing away much of their in-fill work. Previously the track above was Tarmacked and useable; it's going to take some serious repair work to put everything back as it was. The road will now have to be totally re-Tarmacked to avoid it all being washed away again. They turned-up again yesterday, only to dig more holes. It really is unbelievable.
All this may seem inconsequential to many, but to us it's very important. Gardens do not appear overnight; they evolve slowly, and are treasured.
We are extremely busy at the moment, and have little time for dealing with mess and incompetence.