Friday 31 December 2021

Cro's Review of 2021.


January 2021 in France was all about minus-zero temperatures, learning how Brexit would evolve, and of course the spread of Covid-19. 

The jealous bully-boy (and girl) leaders of the EU were soon looking for ever more devious ways to punish the UK over Brexit; especially over fishing, Ireland, and Covid-19 vaccines. They continued to meddle in the UK's affairs by breaking contracts, and 'stealing' around 5 million AZ vaccine doses that were en route from Holland to the UK.

Also in January, over in the USA, Trump retired to Mar-a-Lago and the change-over from 45 to 46 went ahead reasonably smoothly (other than the storming of the Capitol), leaving the elderly Biden in charge. Trump now plays golf, and continues to moan.... I'm not quite sure what Biden and his sidekick are doing.

March saw the infamous Harry, Meghan, Oprah, TV interview. As with Diana Spencer's disastrous 1995 interview with Bashir, such things do no favours for the interviewees. In both examples half-truths were soon uncovered, and accusations made. It doesn't pay to invent tales in front of the world's press, who are only too eager to delve into the dustiest of corners. 

Harry and Meghan's search for privacy took a nose-dive, much like their popularity. If this was how they'd planned their new reclusive lifestyle; it ain't working. La Markle is doing her best to trash The Royal Family, and is milking every penny from her marriage to a real live BRITISH PRINCE. I love the above photo; Meghan is centre stage, with Oprah and Harry very much in the background. Yup, that's about it.

After all Macron's anti-British vaccine nonsense, amazingly we received our first jabs on April 7th. They were (of course) of the delicious (stolen) Astra Zeneca variety, and were administered at our local pharmacy. We received our second on June 23rd; we were now both fully jabbed, and invincible.

On the afternoon of April 17th, Prince Philip's funeral took place at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The British, and others, said a final farewell to one of the most respected members of The Royal Family. As was befitting someone of his stature, the ceremony was perfection, and was a faultless tribute to The Queen's husband of 73 years. RIP Prince Philip.

As per usual we opened the pool at the end of May, and the water soon reached a 'swimmable' temperature. One of our few 'lockdown' pleasures.

In July, the barn came one step closer to being finished. The new exterior wooden cladding was completed, and general consensus agrees that it looks very good; Merci Olivier. Now all we need is the second bathroom to be completed, and a few 1st floor doors made.

The beginning of July saw an amazing crop of mushrooms There were more Cepes and Girolles than we have seen in decades. Freezers were filled, appetites were satisfied, and for those who sell them, pockets were overflowing. I doubt if we'll ever see another crop like it.

Sports-wise in 2021, Novak Djokovic won the men's Wimbledon title yet again, Italy beat England in the Euro's final, Slovenia's Tadej Pogačar won the Tour de France, Emma Radacanu won the Ladies' US open tennis, and all sorts of people won medals in Tokyo.

We returned to Blighty in early October, and instantly fell in love with the friendliness, the intelligence, and the culture that our wonderful coastal town has to offer. What a difference!

Even with all the problems that 2021 brought to us, it hasn't been all bad. On a personal level, our tiny French hamlet has become a more pleasant place to live now that some spiteful trouble-makers have moved away, and their house sold to some very pleasant newcomers. The atmosphere has changed 99% for the better, and much of the peace and quiet that we'd enjoyed for 48 years has returned. 

There's no place in a tiny hamlet for people who don't know how to behave. I hate conflict, but some seem to thrive on it. When I once mentioned about this to someone of importance in the village, the reply was "Oh, the whole village knows all about him". We shall continue to keep to ourselves.

We end the year with more Covid problems, with Prince Harry and wife totally out of control, and with Russia and China forever taking advantage of the woolly thinking from The West.

So, I wish a happy New Year to you all. In these troubled times, I wish you, above all, prolonged GOOD HEALTH, and a certain amount of financial solvency. What more could you ask for. Cro x

Thursday 30 December 2021


The route towards our Booster Jabs has been filled with promises, rocky roads, and incompetence.

Everyone has been shouting at us to "GET BOOSTED". Boris has bawled it, the NHS has bellowed it, and even countless TV ad's with Chris Whitty have gently pleaded with us (above). Our problem was that we desperately wanted it, but those at the 'sharp end' didn't want us to have it. 

Because we were both double-jabbed in France, they simply said "No" (non). What a bunch of idiots.

When we returned to Blighty in October, the authorities quite rightly demanded to see proof of our being double-jabbed. That proof was accepted without question by the government, and we travelled as planned. Since then, that same proof seems to have caused a problem for the NHS. Frankly we were getting extremely pissed off by their reluctance to vaccinate two vulnerable natives (with ALL the required paperwork).

So, having been 'pinged' on numerous occasions by the NHS, we decided to ignore the web sites, the 119 number, and our GP's and their non-existent help and promises, and try again. We discovered a newly established one day 'walk-in booster centre' in Hove. All we needed (they said) was proof of being double-jabbed, and our NHS number; absolutely no problem! The opening hours were clearly indicated, so off we went.

Amazingly, having queued for about an hour in the cold, fog, and drizzle (that's me with a plastic shopping bag on my head), I filled-in a form, got ushered into a small cubicle, and the job was done in minutes. All that previous bloody fuss for nothing. I am now 100% invincible. How easy was that NHS?

p.s. I read somewhere that Prof' Chris Whitty (in video) was at Windlesham House, the Sussex Prep' School where I used to teach. I wonder if I ever taught him? He looks about the right age, but I don't remember the name. Any failings in his Art or Latin skills may be my fault.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Not for Scottish Eyes (or palates)!!!

My love of good Single Malt Whisky has not gone unnoticed.

Amongst my recent Christmas gifts was a bottle that I could hardly wait to sample.

The Whisky, called Taketsuru, was everything one expects from a high quality Pure Malt; other than the fact that it is Japanese. It's a blended Malt Whisky, and is smooth, soft, and elegant (I hope I sound like an expert).

As with most things Japanese, it's presentation is faultless and perfectly crafted.

The founder of The Nikka Whisky Distilling Co, one Masataka Taketsuru (after whom this particular brew is named), was the first Japanese man to go to Scotland to study the art of Whisky making; his gained knowledge is now here for all to savour.

Don't tell any Scotsman that I said this, but Mr Taketsuru's Whisky compares extremely well to some of Scotland's finest, and is also far better than many. The 'peatiness' of many Scottish Single Malts is replaced by an almost citrussy undertone, and it has a slight chocolaty finish.

I should add that I don't 'drink' whisky; I savour it. Just half a thimble-full before bed on my tongue is a huge pleasure.

If you're looking for something a bit different? I can thoroughly recommend this. 10/10.

Tuesday 28 December 2021

A Christmas (non-cracker) Joke for your appreciation.


It is well known that Charles Dickens published many of his stories as weekly instalments, in papers or magazines.

When he wrote 'A Tale of Two Cities' he published simultaneously in The Bicester Times and The Worcester Times.... Boom Boom!

Monday 27 December 2021

Happy, then not Happy.

I was quite shocked to see these Daffs sprouting in the churchyard, as I was walking with Billy just now.

But not nearly as shocked as I was to find two female (I think) 'Goths' (complete with black lipstick, bones through their noses, and all the usual other junior accoutrements, writing on gravestones.

I approached them to ask what they thought they were doing. My question seemed to fall on deaf ears, until a rather saucy string of expletives came my way. I didn't have my phone with me, so I asked a fellow dog walker (Caspar's Mum) if I could borrow hers to take some photos. I followed them to where they were then writing, and took some good full-frontal portraits of them.

This (above) is just one example of their handiwork; there was a lot more, all over most of the ancient graves.

The uglier one of the two then informed me that I didn't have her permission to take her photo; I replied that I hadn't asked! I also told her that I was photographing the graffitied gravestones, and that she'd simply been in the way. I was half hoping that she would have taken a swing at me (I'm still capable of a good strong punch) but they sloped off into town.

I did ask Caspar's Mum to send the photo to the police, or someone in charge of the parks, but I haven't seen her since.

I'm writing this because I was furious at seeing two such childish idiots defacing a graveyard with no shame whatsoever. I hope their photos do reach the police and that some action is taken. Their faces must be known!


Neither Socks nor Gloves!

A Christmas day photo, without any sign of Christmas; or so it may appear!

The photograph does show one Christmas present, however, that we absolutely love.

Can you spot it? No, it's not Billy!

Another gift that REALLY surprised us was this box of Chocs (below), but I won't say which one was ours!

Billy had a good day; he's never been so pampered! 

Sunday 26 December 2021

The Calm before the Storm; and after.

Normally we pay homage to our Swedish links on Christmas Eve, but we were alone this year, so we didn't bother; preferring to wait for 'the big day'.

My late Mother-in-Law (Mor-Mor) was Swedish, as is Kellogg, and of course Lady Magnon is half-Swedish. Certain cultural traditions need to be  respected.

Normally our Bock (a straw, red ribbon covered, Goat) is given centre stage on the table, when we sit to eat Sill with boiled Potatoes, and drink hot Glögg (punch). But all these things are back in France.

The only thing we have here is the spinning angels candle-light, which is quite old. It belonged to my late Mother-in-law, and was always a part of her Christmas Eve celebrations.

Yesterday, however, we were not alone. Kimbo, Susie, Harv' and Ollie all joined us, and that calm was quashed. We ate, we drank, and we laughed; all probably too  much.

We wondered how many households in the UK (and elsewhere) were sitting down to EXACTLY the same meal as us. No doubt millions. Turkey, Sprouts, and the now essential Pigs in Blankets, would have graced the tables of the rich, the poor, and everyone in between. Sparkling wine, still wine, and possibly fortified wine would have also been consumed as we all ate, watched the Queen, and pulled our Crackers. Glasses would have been raised, and toasts made.

Facetime allowed us to speak with family 'down under' as well as in 'the Caribbean'.

We had a wonderful day, and I trust you all did too. Now another short calm before the Covid-muted revelries of the New Year. 

I send you my continued good wishes.

Saturday 25 December 2021

The Big Day.

VERY BEST WISHES TO YOU ALL from (un-snowy) Brighton. Cro xxx

Friday 24 December 2021

Today so far.

I popped down to M & S for a few last minute vegs. Even at 8.30am it was heaving.

Our kitchen tiler arrived this morning to measure-up. He's broken his hand BOXING.

About 3 days ago I spotted a new neighbour had left her keys in the front door lock. I knocked on the door and told her. This morning I noticed that she'd done it again, so again I knocked on the door and told her. Silly gal.


I spotted this graffiti on the way back from M & S. I don't usually like this sort of thing, but I do rather like this. 

I feel it's going to be a good day. Don't forget to watch Carols from Kings at 6.25 pm on BBC2. Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without it.

Thursday 23 December 2021

Allo, Allo; what 'av we ear?

It was on this day in 1888, that the painter Vincent Van Gogh famously cut off his own ear.

The story apparently is as follows. Vincent had read somewhere that his brother Theo was engaged to be married, and out of frustration that he was about to lose his 'best and most important friend', he sliced off a good part of his left ear.

He then wrapped it in paper and went to his local brothel, where he gave it to a cleaning girl, Gabrielle. He then returned home to bed and very nearly bled to death overnight.

So, today we remember poor Vincent, and his ear; I don't suppose he did a great deal of Christmas celebrating that year.

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Happy-ish Christmas.

George Bernard Shaw famously said "Britain and the US are two countries separated by a common language".

Another thing that separates us must be this Christmas card from Mr Thomas Massie, a US Republican Congressman from Kentucky. The idea of any British politician overtly demonstrating such a bizarre obsession is unimaginable. 

Boris might possibly feature his dog Dilyn wearing a Santa hat, but his whole family toting assault rifles; never! 

I'm not in the slightest bit religious, but isn't Christmas supposed to celebrate the birth of Christ? I wonder what HE would have thought of Mr Massie's Christmas card?

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Ye Olde Longcase Clocke

I don't OWN this clock; I'm simply a custodian.

When I was 'given' it, by my Aunt in London, I was told in no uncertain terms that it wasn't mine to do with as I please, but it would simply be in my possession before passing it on to the next generation; who would need to be told the same thing. A small Oak corner cupboard came with the same instructions.

And the reason for all this? Well, the clock was made for my family, and has been passed down ever since. I've only had it 'serviced' once, and was told that the mechanism is dated 1735.

The dial is marked 'Debnam Newport'. This is one 'Charles Debnam' of Newport, Saffron Walden, which is near where my ancestors farmed. They owned a small amount of land including a part of Wicken Fen; which later became the first property owned by The National Trust.

It's not a fancy Longcase clock, in fact it's very simple and rustic. It doesn't keep very good time, as much as I try to correct it. I have to wind it every morning, and I often wonder how they regulated the time in the 'old days'. I suppose if someone came to the house with a pocket watch, it could be regulated, otherwise they would have lived by whatever inaccurate time it told. Maybe they set it to the village Church clock or bells.

I love sitting in the quiet of my sitting room with just the ticking of the clock for company. That tick has accompanied many generations of my family, and I hope it will continue for generations to come. I have turned off the chime, as it's not particularly pleasant. With a sprig of Holly and some tinsel on top it has a remarkably seasonal feel about it.

Longcase clocks are out of favour at the moment. A clock such as this can be bought for a mere £200 these days; some 40 years ago you could have added another zero. 

Monday 20 December 2021

Carols at St Nix.

Yesterday evening I did something that I haven't done for decades; I went to church.

As you can see by the above, it was the evening of our nearby church's service of 'Lessons and Carols', and this year I was determined to go.

There were lit candles around the capitals of the huge stone pillars, and we all held small lighted candles. There was a beautiful atmosphere, and the singing was fine. We sang Once in royal David's city,  Unto us a child is born, Silent night, Ding dong merrily, O come all ye faithful, and Hark the herald-angels. The others also sang one or two that I didn't know; I abstained. For a small church the quality of the singing was very good, but maybe the choir's inventive descants were a tad optimistic!

The service lasted about an hour; just right. I had a pleasant chat with Fr Dominic on leaving, and we returned home to a welcoming glass of wine and a simple supper.

I'm now looking forward to 'Carols from Kings' on Christmas Eve.

I hope to go again next year; I enjoyed it.


Sunday 19 December 2021

It's Official!

Christmas season 2021 has officially started chez Cro; the red ribbon was cut two days ago.

The front bay window now sports a 'magnificent' flashing tree decked with trinkets of gold and silver, there are garlands of lights around our dining room, and the kitchen cupboards are filled with mince pies, plum puddings, and Belgian chocolates. There's no mistaking it; we're in for plenty of belt-loosening and indigestion.

I am now allowing myself to feel 'festive'. Presents have been bought, meals planned, and the wine is on order. We even go carol singing in the church tonight.

I'm looking forward to it all. But, I'm also looking forward to it being over. I love all the festivities, but I also love my peace and quiet.

Whether our intended guests will be either allowed, or wise, to join us for the Turkey-Fest on the big day remains to be seen. Things are not looking good!

Saturday 18 December 2021

Eradicating our (embarrassingly) Glorious Past!

I know I'm known to moan occasionally, but there does seem to be a lot to moan about at the moment! 

I suppose really it's 'Frustration' rather than a moan, but I know I'm not alone in feeling the way I do.

Time was, when The Empire looked like this (in red above). Now the UK is fast becoming no more than a damp bloody squib; and getting ever damper by the day; helped by a bunch of 'woke' radicals who seem to hate the 'Great' in Britain, and have no clue about what they will be losing in the process.

Republicans are continuously trashing the monarchy, and are pushing for some Anarchist/Marxist/Leninist style state. It's happening in the press, on TV, in our universities, and even in our cinemas. 

There is a feeling afoot that the tiny UK has had its moment of glory, and it's now time for others to have theirs. It's time to apologise for our past success, and we are made to feel that we must ask for forgiveness; what for is still not sure. Meanwhile The East is in the fast lane, and rubbing their hands with glee!

Britain is currently trying to punish itself for the 'mistakes' of our Imperial past. Countries that were once loyal to H M The Queen are now worshipping at the altar of China. China is slowly but surely colonising The Commonwealth. Many will have seen that Barbados is the latest willing victim; the Chinese have already moved in.

There is a sense of self-destruction about; shooting ourselves in the foot. People now hardly dare mention Britain's glorious past, and many wish to eradicate all evidence of it completely. 

The UK's greatest leaders, inventors, and adventurers, are admired the world over, but are derided at home. New villains are being 'outed' almost daily. Just recently Gladstone Rd, in Sheffield, came under a woke attack. Named after Prime Minister William Gladstone, who was thoroughly anti-slavery, it was demanded that the name be changed because his father, Sir John, was involved in the slave trade; nothing at all to do with William, who described slavery as "the foulest crime in UK history". Surely, someone to be proud of, even by the woke brigade!

I do wish they would just get over it; and concentrate on the problems of TODAY. The country is going through a period of great difficulties, whilst a bunch of unimportant junior snowflakes fuss about things over which we have absolutely no control; and is of no importance other than to a few trouble makers.

Great Britain was built on the back of swashbuckling, industry, and foreign trade. It's what all countries strived for at the time, and it just happened that Britain was better at it than most. I don't really consider that anything to be ashamed of.

Friday 17 December 2021



A 'Jobsworth' award is hereby awarded to the NHS.

Try as we will, we cannot get our booster jabs.

Everywhere you look these days, you see advice to get boosted. Adverts are everywhere, the NHS recommends it, and Chris Whitty and Boris appear regularly telling us all to get done.

We really want our boosters. We follow all instructions. We go to the booking web-page, we ring 119, we turn-up at the 'walk-in centre'; all to no avail.

The problem is that we were both double jabbed in France, and regardless of having insisted that we had both been double jabbed to enter the UK recently (which they willingly accepted), for some reason it now seems unacceptable to continue towards our boosters.

The main booster walk-in centre in Brighton is not far from our house, but regardless of being almost empty we are turned away. We need that booking appointment, which we simply can't get.

So, we now have two alternatives. Firstly to ask our doctor to intervene and book us in, or secondly to go for a first jab without mentioning that we've already been double jabbed; in which case it wouldn't be registered that we've been boostered.

Our plan Z option was to return to France to get our booster there, but the charming Macron has now scuppered that idea. What a numb-scull!

Our fingers are crossed that our Doc' will come up trumps. Very frustrating.

Supermarket Shopping.

For those who live outside of the UK, Waitrose is a large chain of supermarkets owned by the John Lewis partnership. This is a rather unique store, in as much as all the workers are considered to be partners; and I think all are shareholders. It claims to be an 'Employee Owned Business'.

It's also a reasonably upmarket store, where good quality is pretty well guaranteed (at a slight premium). 

I needed a few things, so before heading off I looked online to check their opening hours. On doing so, I noticed that there was a second Waitrose store in Brighton & Hove, which was far more convenient than the city centre store, as I could go by car. I'd had absolutely no idea it was there.

The store in Hove (above) used to be a Co-op, which was very poor quality, so I was extremely pleased to discover that it has now become a Waitrose. It's much closer than the Sainsbury's I usually visit for my weekly shop, and it's a nice wide open airy store, with friendly staff, and a wonderful array of foods. I went quite early and found it to be reasonably quiet, which is important at the moment.

I probably sound like an advert, but I was very happy to discover this store. Eating well is a key part of life, and I won't tolerate rubbish. Waitrose may be a tad more expensive than Sainsbury's, but you get what you pay for, and the selection of foreign foods is remarkable.

And to add to my delight; look what I found (above). It looks, and sounds, like Swedish 'Sill', which is difficult to find other than at Ikea. I haven't tasted it yet, but I'm certain it'll be as I expect. 

I've been back in England since mid-October, and it's taken all that time to discover this store. It probably sounds ridiculous, but yesterday felt like my birthday!


Thursday 16 December 2021

A Question of Size

The Plumber phoned. He had found the small fault at the other house, and was telling me about the replacement part that he needed. I asked him to let me know how much it would cost, and when he could replace it. The plumber (Pete) is new to us; we'd found him through the unusual channels.

Lady M: Did he say how much it would be?

Cro: No, he'll let me know.

Lady M: What did he sound like?

Cro: He sounded OK.

Lady M: Only OK?

Cro: Well, he sounded short.

Lady M: What?... How on earth can you tell if someone is short or not by their voice?

Cro: I don't know, but he did sound short.

Lady M: That's ridiculous!

Cro: He's coming round tomorrow, do you want to put £5 on it?

Lady M: This is open to cheating. Are you sure you've haven't met him previously?

Cro: No, honestly; we've never met!

Lady M: OK, you're on then, £5 it is; but we'll need to decide on some classification of tall or short.

Cro: For a man, I would say that under 5ft 6ins would be classified as 'Short'.

Lady M: Right; under 5ft 6ins and you win!

N.B. He came to the house yesterday. He was about 6ft 2ins, and built like a Rugby second row forward. My hunches need honing!

Wednesday 15 December 2021

Where did all those railings go?

The absence of old railings is still very noticeable in the UK.

During WW2, there was a genuine shortage of Iron and Steel and the public was asked to donate their scrap, railings, gates, and other bits of metal to help the 'war effort'. The big question is; whatever happened to all that scrap metal?

Looking around me here in Brighton, signs are still everywhere of people's willingness to donate. In the  nearby churchyard, where I go every morning, signs are all around of missing railings (below).

Bizarrely, most British Ironworks apparently reported no record of having received any deliveries of scrap.

Conspiracy theories, of course, were widespread, and most claimed that the public response was such that the government was over-run with scrap.

Some say that the stocks were so huge that they needed to be hidden away from public, out of embarrassment; others say that it was sent abroad in the form of 'ship's ballast', probably to West Africa where beautiful British railings can still be seen today outside modest housing. Another more extreme theory claims that most was dumped in The Thames Estuary or the open Sea; simply to get rid of excess stocks.

Whatever the truth of the matter, the scars are still there, and one can but wonder what towns might have looked like had people not replied with such eagerness to the demand for scrap. So much beautiful Victorian (and earlier) Cast and Wrought Iron was never replaced.


Tuesday 14 December 2021

What did the Romans ever do for us (or the Turks)?

Those Romans were pretty clever folk. Imagine being given the task of transporting water over a distance of 22 kms, that needed to fall from 680 metres above sea level, to just 50.

Well that's exactly what they did at Patara in Turkey, using thousands of individually carved stones that weighed about a ton each. We consider that building the Pyramids was a hefty task, but this aqueduct is certainly comparable.

I imagine there was some form of gasket (leather?) between the stones to act as a seal. Knowing the Romans, I doubt if there was hardly the tiniest of leaks.

There are many things in the world that make us gasp; this (for me) is one!

Monday 13 December 2021

Names, Nicknames, et al.

What connects Van Morrison, Yul Brynner, Angel Strawbridge, Cher, and Anton du Beke?

Well, of course, they've all shortened their given names. Van was Ivan, Yul was Yuliy, Angel was Angela, Cher was Cherilyn, and Anton was Anthony. I'm sure they no doubt all had good reasons for the slight changes. They probably all thought they either sounded better, or it suited their characters more.

Most people have nicknames of some sort during their lives. My own three children have always been known by names that they weren't given, although I don't think they had nicknames at school; as nor did I.

Some of my friends at school were called Smiley, Monty, Sparks, and Po. Po has continued with the name throughout his life, and is still famously known as Po today.

When we selected names for our children, one of the criteria was that they couldn't be shortened or changed into something 'rude'. We also needed names that we could SHOUT (not unlike a dog's name).

Choosing names is important, but shouldn't be fretted over; nor should they be overly-crazy in some desperate search for originality. One can only feel sorry for 'The person previously known as Prince', or X Æ A-Xii, or even Toadie.

We have friends named after M1 Service Stations, and after the seasons, but it's probably far better to choose a name that one could use either as a road-sweeper or a brain surgeon. A certain amount of social equality/mobility would probably be wise. 

What it comes down to is having a name that one can go through life with, without having to cringe every time you repeat it, or, even worse, having people laugh.

So, To Wowie Bowie, who changed his name to Duncan Jones, I say "Well done".

Sunday 12 December 2021

Happy Birthday Billy

Today is Billy's birthday. He is THREE. 

What was inside his present? A very smart new brown leather collar. Nothing fancy; just good quality. He hasn't worn it yet, so I can't say if he approves or not!


Saturday 11 December 2021

St Nicholas of Myra.

I've always loved early architecture; Churches and Cathedrals in particular.

This is the church at the bottom of our road (complete with Seagull). The Church of St Nicholas of Myra was mentioned in The Doomsday Book, but the building's current form is mid 14th Century. The tower on the left contains a wonderful peal of ten bells that entertains us on most Sunday mornings.

The church is built of flint, with carved stone openings. It's an attractive building, and was the original Parish Church of old Brighton.

On the left of the photo you will see a 'column'. During the big storm of October 1987, many of the churchyard's big trees came down. One branch fell on the top of the column, and broke off bits of pinnacles, it's a miracle that it's still standing. I'm not sure what the column commemorates; it doesn't say.

On the right, the gravestone surrounded by railings is that of Phoebe Hessel.  She was a remarkable woman who disguised herself as a man to follow the man she loved into the army. She managed to serve 17 years, and her gender was only discovered after having been wounded. She's worth looking-up on Google if you have a minute.

On the inside of the church there's a Norman font (above). It is reputed to date from around 1170, and is carved from a single block of French stone. Its origin is something of a mystery.

I'm not a religious person, but I do like having the church on my doorstep. Billy enjoys the use of the churchyard too!

I'm hoping to go to a midnight Carol Service there this year; if I can stay awake.

Friday 10 December 2021

Fed up already?

I'm not really feeling 'Christmassy'; I think it's the effect of having been bombarded with Christmas ad's, trees, shop windows, street lights, mince pies, etc, ever since mid-November.

The two week build-up to that wretched 'Black Friday' has become no more than a transparently commercial path towards Dec' 25th. And I fear it's getting worse.

I probably say the same thing every year; Christmas should remain traditional, and we should stick to the twelve days, six either side of the big day. Twelve days of decorations and festivities are long enough.

Thursday 9 December 2021

My, how time flies!

Both my parents died in the early 80's; around 40 years ago.

During those 40 years, so much has changed of which they would have been astounded; as often am I.

They never got to see the computer revolution. Laptops, digital cameras, mobile phones, etc, all had yet to be invented, and my mother, I'm sure, would have loved them all. Father would probably have found it all 'soppy nonsense'.

It's amazing how much we now take for granted. In my mother's day, had she wanted to send a photograph to Australia, she would have had to first take the photo, take the roll of film to Boots, wait for a week for it to be developed and printed, put the picture into an envelope, buy the stamp, post it, and wait another week or more for it to be delivered to Oz. From photo to delivery would have taken a minimum of two weeks, if not a lot more.

Now I can do the whole operation in a matter of seconds. Not only has the whole process quickened, but the quality of the photo has also improved dramatically.

No longer do I have a pile of reference books by my side (other than a Thesaurus and a Latin dictionary), as Google will supply almost any information I require. I no longer go everywhere with a lumpy 35mm camera. And letters are hardly ever written; not even Christmas cards.

Cheques have almost disappeared; as has physical money! Banks are closing by the dozen, and we have all become our own cyber Bank Managers.

My people did, of course, manage to avoid the disastrous foreign policies of Bush/Blair and all the ensuing slaughter and fleeing of refugees, the crazy rise in the price of UK property, and the current panic surrounding Covid-19 et al.  They also missed Trump, Jeffery Epstein, and Brexit, so not all has been bad.

I now wonder what the next 40 years will bring. I won't speculate, just pray that it will be healthy and peaceful. The world desperately needs a period of calm, and some better leaders; but I suppose that's up to us.

Wednesday 8 December 2021

The 50's Kitchen.

Not too long ago these white enamel metal dishes, with the dark blue stripe, were regarded as far too 'common' to be found in the kitchens of chefs, foodies, or the chattering classes. 

These days it's all change, and I see them being used by 'celebrity chefs' (including Jamie), and even in smart restaurants.

They do have a primitive appeal in a 'lets all play country yokels' kinda way, but I can't see them gracing Her Majesty's table. Far too 50's.

Anyway, I found this example at the back of a cupboard, and thought it ideal for a rustic Cottage Pie. I've never used one before, but I can be trendy when I try!

A nice cast-iron Le Creuset Tian dish would certainly have looked nicer, but this had a different appeal; I shall certainly use it again. I don't think my mother ever used one, but I'm sure we had them at school.

Tuesday 7 December 2021


There was I, enjoying a delicious lunchtime slice of Melton Mowbray Pork Pie, when I noticed the rather strange label on my jar of Pickled Onions.

They are described as Pickled TRADITIONAL ONIONS. Not (as one might imagine) Traditional PICKLED ONIONS.

What on earth are 'traditional onions'? Are there non-traditional onions?

I think we should be told!

Monday 6 December 2021

French Cemeteries.

French cemeteries never seem to have much age. They contain plenty of graves and 'mausoleums' (sometimes inside a form of greenhouse), but they never seem to be much earlier than about 1800. I have no idea why that should be.

Most are surrounded by a high wall, over which private grave-tenders tend to throw anything unwanted. If you wish to spend an interesting half hour, walk around the outside of any country French graveyard wall; with a trowel.

I didn't make a practice of this, but on the few occasions I have, I've found everything from old bottles, glasses, urns, beaded garlands, crosses, photos of the deceased, etc; nothing was beyond the scope of the mourners as they tidied around the graves. Over the wall meant out of sight, out of mind.

My favourite discovery has to be this rather tatty Corinthian Capital. I think the sculptor must have become bored with his task as it's only half carved, and what is carved is very simplified.

Still, I took it home, cleaned it up, and turned it into a Lamp Base. 

I does look vaguely like an archaeological find from ancient Greece, but in fact it's just a broken piece of French grave. Thank you; whoever abandoned it! 

Sunday 5 December 2021

Cauli Season.

From early Autumn to late Spring, we always eat soup for lunch, usually followed by some cheese, charcuterie, etc; and fruit. It doesn't need thinking about, and is quick, easy, cheap, and delicious.

How lucky we are in the UK to have wonderful vegetables on offer, and at crazy low prices.

I recently bought a 2.5 kilo bag of Potatoes for under £1, and both a Cauliflower and a Savoy Cabbage for just over 50p each. If farmers are having difficulty finding 'pickers'; it certainly doesn't show in the shops.

As long as one has a good Chicken stock from the Sunday Roast, you have all the ingredients for a weeks' really tasty, and nourishing soup for just a few £'s. A few store-cupboard herbs and spices are always on hand to enhance the flavour, if needed.

I am shocked to hear people say they can't afford to eat healthily, so they are forced to visit McThingy, or Greggs, or the Chippy.

These people don't need more money, they need re-educating. Even the preparation of food can be fun if approached correctly. It's certainly far less expensive to make healthy foods than to eat Fish-n-Chips or Burgers every night. 

Saturday 4 December 2021

Winter Warming.

There's a lot to be said for the cosiness of a log fire (below, being enjoyed by Monty and Bok). 

Monty and Bok not only adored sleeping in front of the fire, but they also adored each other. Bok (the black one) was given to us by a neighbour because he spent all his time with Monty; she thought it was better to let them live together.

This was a typical stance, with Monty using Bok as a pillow. They would often also share a bed rather than use their own.

Both are now gone and we miss them. With a good fire in the Wood-burner, and the boys snuggling-up together, it made Winter evenings into a real pleasure. Billy has now taken their places in front of the fire, but here in Brighton we have no fire for him to enjoy.

I don't know if Dogs prefer to sleep in front of a fire, or beside a radiator, but I know which I prefer. Billy's bed is beside a radiator, but he sleeps on Lady M's sofa.

Friday 3 December 2021

Sound Advice.

In much the same way as I always recommend that people buy unpainted stone or brick houses that are situated on high ground, I also recommend people not to park their cars under trees.

Especially if you live by the sea where there are plenty of Seagulls; or (even worse) Albatrosses!

This person was obviously not able to benefit from my sound advice, and will be in for bit of a shock when he or she returns. 

Off to the carwash with you!

Thursday 2 December 2021

Who do you put your faith in?

When my car breaks down, I go to my nearby garage.

When I need medical assistance, I go to my Doctor.

If I had financial problems (which I don't), I would go to the bank.

So, why is it when the world is suffering from one of the worst ever pandemics, that so many people go to 'social media' for their information?

Of course no-one has a fool-proof answer to this global problem; this is exercising even the brainiest of brains. However, we are getting there; vaccines have been created, and advice given. Yet some think it best to scroll through Facebook in order to find some crank who supports their loony ideas, rather than accepting the words of experts.   

I don't know any more about Covid than others around me, but I listen to those who do and try to follow their advice. I wear a mask when amongst crowds or in shops, I wash my hands on returning home, and I keep hand-sanitising gel in the car and at home. I also try to avoid places where there are crowds, and stay aware of danger situations. I'm not obsessive, but I do try to keep myself safe.

I honestly think that the most dangerous part of this whole nasty illness are the idiots who claim that it doesn't exist, and are doing their utmost to spread it around. My oldest son's partner has some very good friends who were staunch anti-vaxxers. The husband died of Covid last week, and the wife is now advising all who think as they did, to change their minds and get vaccinated a.s.a.p. It's too late for her poor husband, but at least his widow has now seen the folly of her ways. 

Some are saying that Omicron is the most virulent strain yet of Covid; others say it is the least. Whoever is right, it's always best to take your own personal precautions. Don't let it rule your life, but do your damnest to avoid catching it. The fewer people who catch Covid, the less chance it has of spreading. 

Stifle the virus, and it will die of 'unpopularity'.

Stay safe.

Wednesday 1 December 2021

What a lot of Balls!

Travelling by car between France and England meant that there was very little room for frivolities. With all the essentials for a six month stay, there wasn't a lot of space left for much else.

Billy's essentials included his bed, his bowls, one Tennis ball, and a launcher. All his little heart desired.

However, since being back, and taking daily walks in the nearby churchyard, I keep finding lost balls all over the place. Occasionally I just leave them in a prominent place to be found by the owner Dog, otherwise I bring them home and give them a good wash. As you can see by the above photo, I now have 11; only one of which was originally Billy's.

One day soon I'll put them all in a box and take them to where the daily afternoon 'Dog Club' members congregate. I'm sure they'll find a use for them; until (of course) they're lost again!


Tuesday 30 November 2021

A Load of Rubbish.

For decades I've used plain black rubbish bags; nothing wrong with them, but they were very dull. Those have now been replaced by a totally better class of bag; M & S's 'citrus grove' perfumed white bags. I feel 'classier' already. I may even be offered a knighthood for 'services to pong reduction'.

Back in France rubbish had become politicised. In our 'Department' (County) we now have to pay to put rubbish into a large 'receptacle'; we pay an annual fee, then even have to use a card to open the wretched thing so that they can charge per visit. It's a huge 'con'. We refuse to play ball.

With this in mind, and being something of a spendthrift, I have been taking what small amounts of rubbish we had across the border to the adjoining Department where such things are still free. It's on my weekly shopping route, so very convenient. Lady Magnon continued to use our own local service for recycling, which for some reason remained free.  

Here in Brighton we have several large rubbish containers, and recycling containers, on most streets, ours is only a few metres away (well hidden), and they are emptied daily. A very good service. The recent strike is now over, and all is back to normal.

Rubbish is a problem in towns. We still recycle as much as possible, we visit the municipal dump every so often with lumpier objects, and we try to take home as few plastics as possible. In France we burn most of the paper, all vegetable peeling, etc, goes to the compost, and whatever can be recycled; is. It's not easy being green in town.

My new M & S 'Citrus grove' bags are very pleasant, but may I suggest 'Gardenia' or 'Patchouli' for the future. One might as well be choosy. 

Monday 29 November 2021

What's in The Sunday Times?

What do you get for your money, when you buy your weekly Sunday Times?

Pages 2 and 3: Two full page adverts for Rolex watches.

Page 8: Full page advert for Chaumet, Paris.

Page 10 Full page advert for P & O Cruises.

Page 14: Full page advert for Tesco.

Page 16; Full page advert for Facebook.

Page 26: Full page advert for 'The Times and Sunday Times'.

Page 40: Full back-page advert for Dior Sauvage.

Plus; 11 half page adverts for a variety of things; and various other quarter page ad's. The magazine's are at least 75% adverts, and the Sport and Travel and Home sections probably contain even more.

Still, Sunday wouldn't be Sunday without all that advertising all over the sitting room floor!

I love it.

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