Thursday, 22 April 2021

The Power of Facebook.

It was the second time this dog had visited us. The first time (a few months ago) he'd eventually returned home by himself; this time he was reluctant to go.

So, Lady Magnon (being a resourceful cove) put his picture on Facebook with our phone number, and waited for the phone to ring; which it did a few hours later.

Her picture of the dog had been 'shared' several times around the village, and word eventually reached the owner who came to collect him early in the evening. The dog had already bedded-down on an outdoor sofa, and had no doubt imagined that he'd found a very comfortable bed for the night. 

He had come to play with Billy; and they'd had a great time. They really enjoyed themselves for a few hours, but we were very happy that his owner came to fetch him.

Nice dog. Lady M removed a few of his Ticks, then was pleased to see him go back home.

He lives about 3 miles away.


Wednesday, 21 April 2021

95; Not out!


Happy Birthday to Her Majesty The Queen.

With this image (above) so fresh in our minds, today will not be a day of celebration for Her Majesty. Her thoughts will no doubt be focused exclusively on the recent loss of her husband, Prince Philip. 

However, I, like so many, wish her 'Many happy returns' for her birthday, and I send her my very best wishes.

Tuesday, 20 April 2021

That reminds me...

I found this Holly bush in the woods several years ago. We didn't have one at home, so I pulled it from the ground, and brought the tiny plant back. It has now grown into a strapping bush, of over 15 ft high.

I've just noticed that it's covered in flowers. It has never born berries, so I'd always imagined that it was a male plant. However, all those flowers give me hope (not that we'll be here this Christmas).

The bush always reminds me of an event during my time spent living in Shropshire in the early 1980's.

A burley pugilistic member of the 'travelling community' had squatted on a small field at the bottom of our orchard, and without any planning permission, had begun to build a bungalow. 

We'd exchanged words, and I was extremely fortunate to have escaped unscathed.

A couple of days before Christmas that same year, I went down to the bottom of the orchard to pick a few branches of Holly for the house; it had been covered in berries, and looked splendid

When I arrived at the tree with my secateurs, I found that the WHOLE tree had been cut down at the base and taken away; I could see remnants of my tree spread all over the garden of the 20 stone thug who'd threatened to tear out my giblets and feed them to his nice dog.

My Holly was probably already being displayed in houses across the county, as I surveyed the destruction.

There was nothing I could do, other than to curse a bit. Rules don't apply to certain people in the UK, and we had one of them living very close by!

 I wonder if our bush will ever have berries; maybe those flowers are male flowers.

Monday, 19 April 2021

The New Roof.

Back on April 8th I showed our neighbour's roof having been totally removed. Their new roof is now advancing, and is looking great. I hadn't imagined that the end wall was going straight up to a point; previously it was a 'bonnet roof', but has now changed to a 'tall open gable'. It will obviously contain a few more rooms, and I think it'll look very good.

My good friend José used to refer to our tiny three house hamlet as the village's 'Riviera', on account of the fine 'original' vernacular houses, the perfect location, and its non-farming group of leisure-loving-residents.

Well, the houses have remained much the same (with one or two blunders), the location certainly hasn't altered, and none of us has yet taken to the plough. Our house is very typical of the area, the middle house has been changed into a holiday centre and reflects that, but the other house (above) is looking as if it'll now take over as 'The big house'; it'll become a little Manoire. And in a prominent, open, position too. All it needs now is a tall pigeon tower connecting the house to the barn, and we'll call it a 'Chateau'.

This is how properties evolve, and often how wealth is displayed. A tower here, or an extra wing there; that's how things work.

I now feel as if we're living in the 'gardener's cottage'; albeit a very nice one.

Sunday, 18 April 2021

The Debate Continues.


I still occasionally (very rarely) come across someone who claims to use Vegemite for some purpose other than repairing broken water pipes.

Well let me explain something to you.

Take a look at a jar of Vege-ma-thingy, and compare it to the delightful one of MARMITE.

You will instantly notice one thing on the MARMITE jar; that Royal Coat of Arms on the yellow strip connecting the top with the jar. The Coat of Arms is that of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, and it symbolises her approval (and use daily of) an exceptional product.

One must remember here that Her Majesty is Queen of the United Kingdom & Northern Ireland, as well as fifteen other Sovereign states; known as the 'Commonwealth Kingdoms'. She is also head of all fifty three Commonwealth States; including Australia.

Marmite is sold throughout her Kingdom, and her Coat of Arms gives confidence and pleasure to all her subjects. The other imitation product might be available in a few foreign hardware stores, and, of course, has no such approval.

I believe that some Aussies rub the brown paste (Vegemite) on their arms in order to fend off attack by 'Drop Beasts'; creatures not unlike Leprechauns.

I do hope that settles the dispute once and for all. If it's good enough for The Queen, it's good enough for me (and millions of others).

p.s. I am not showing a photo of the Aussie product as it has no endorsements, it's an ugly jar, and it is of no interest whatsoever.

Saturday, 17 April 2021

So, how did last week's Pub openings go?

I didn't want to illustrate this with the usual pictures of drunken fools, showing us their knickers or exchanging punches, so here's a slightly more sedate picture.

This photo was taken last Monday night in Soho; the traditional partying area of central London. Plenty of drunkenness, plenty of social non-distancing, and of course no masks, or self-isolating beach huts.

In the UK, Friday night is party night, and reports of serious street fighting in central London, and elsewhere, are already circulating. 

The problem with opening-up Pubs, and Restaurants, etc, is that people think they can now behave as if there are no more risks. For them, Boris has declared the pandemic 'officially over'.

There WILL be a spike in cases of infection; of that there is no doubt. The only question must be 'is the new-found freedom worth a few extra deaths?'.

People have had enough of 'lockdowns'; they want their freedom back. Risk-taking has always been the reserve of the young, so enjoy yourselves; but please do continue to be aware of how virulent this virus is, you are NOT invincible. Covid-19 likes nothing more than grabbing onto humans, and it does so with great ease in crowded situations.

As Boris advises "try to show restraint". Not much 'restraint' was shown last night, I'm afraid!

Friday, 16 April 2021

'How Prince Harry can show his face in the UK, I've got no idea'.

Tomorrow is the day of Prince Philip's funeral; this is how one Aussie TV commentator (Alan Jones) sees it. I don't think he's alone. It's worth watching; all 2 mins of it.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

More Wisteria, less Vine.

Previously the façade of the house, and our covered terrace, have been covered in grape vines; and much still is.

However, Lady Magnon has been complaining about the amount of Hornets they attract in early Autumn, and she wanted them replaced by Wisteria.

So, I took out one ancient vine, and trained a branch from the 'tower' Wisteria around the corner and along the front wall. Its blooms are over now (as I'm sure you can see), but it flowered really well considering that it's only one year old. 

At the same time I planted a Wisteria sucker by the entrance to our covered terrace, which has also actually flowered well this year. It is less exposed to the sun, so is still looking good.

I'm sure Lady M was right. All the grapes always went onto the compost anyway (or went for juice), and we still had plenty if we required any. 

The main advantage will be far fewer Hornets this year; and Lady M will be happy, I hope.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Free Money.

I want you to keep this to yourselves; if too many people hear about it, not only could there be stampedes, but the value of the Pound, Dollar, and Euro, could suffer irreversibly.

Yes, I've found a way to get a regular supply of free money.

Some years ago I was given some secret numbers, and a piece of plastic, that allows me to get money from machines that one finds outside banks, inside supermarkets, and on the high street.

There's a small, well-hidden, slot on the front of these machines (you may have to ask someone to show you where it is). Into this you put the small flat piece of plastic (roughly 5 by 8 cms), which gets sucked into the machine itself. Don't panic; you'll get it back later.

Now you need a secret number. You type this in, and tell the machine how much money you need (don't be too greedy, or it may suspect something). Then you wait a while, whilst it makes strange whirring noises, and flashes lights; then out come the bank notes from a type of letter box at the front, along with the small piece of plastic you used to trick the machine (try not to dance, laugh, or scream at this point).

This is when you need to be careful. I always walk away from the machine, trying to look as innocent as possible; not to bring any attention to myself. Preferably try to look as if you haven't actually touched the machine at all.

It really is incredible. I've been using this method for years, and no-one has yet discovered my scam. These machines have paid for all my living expenses for yonks, and I've encountered no problems at all.

I'm not promising that this method will work everywhere, but if you can find the right sized piece of plastic, and find someone willing to give you a secret number (no, you can't have mine), you could find yourself with a never-ending supply of free money.... just like me!

As I said above; please keep this to yourself.

N.B. The above photo shows a machine giving me more money yesterday; PROOF if needed. I apologise for the quality of the picture, but I was trying to be as discreet as possible.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Shopping Day.


Tuesday is my shopping day. For the past year I've only gone out once a week, occasionally every two weeks, and that is to my favourite supermarket about 20 Kms away. Leclerc is a quality store, not unlike Waitrose back in the UK.

I'm usually pretty good at getting all we need for the week, but this last week we almost came to a standstill.

By yesterday we were completely out of fruit, out of salads, our bread supply was down to a bare minimum, and (shame on me) I had no onions or garlic. So, my yesterday's breakfast consisted of left over roast Lamb from Sunday night, for lunch I had to revert to soup, and luckily I had what I needed for a Cottage Pie in the evening. 

I mention all this because it's the first time I've miscalculated supplies. Even my stock of canned food is becoming low, my fresh green vegetables from Haddock's are finished, and have finally been grubbed up. I shall leave for my shopping trip, in about 3 hrs, with a very long list!

I may be some while.

Monday, 12 April 2021

The British boozer; the future?


The future of the Great English boozer, may well resemble the above.

With Covid-19 restrictions still in place, Pubs are now able to open again with certain provisos.

Today (April 12th) Pubs may once again open to the public, but must follow certain guidelines.

1. Drinkers must remain outside the Pub', and only table service will be allowed.

2. The 'rule of 6' will still apply, meaning only six people may sit together.

3. You will need to book your table, glass house, rug, pod, or whatever, by using the NHS Covid App.

4. When needing the bog, you will have to wear a mask (often essential in Pub' loos anyway).

The photo above shows one example of 'The 21st C Pub'; this particular one is in Gloucestershire.

Personally when I visit my 'local' I want to see a cheery barmaid over the counter, I want the warm ambiance of a 15th or 16th C interior (preferably in Sussex), and in winter I would certainly want an open log fire in a big old inglenook.

When I go for a pint of wallop, I want to lean on the counter, chat with the landlord/lady, ask advice from Jim the village garage man, exchange gardening tips with old man Fuller, and chuck a few darts with Charlie.

What I DON'T want is to be made to sit in some stark bloody greenhouse out in a field, pay a bloody fortune for a simple glass of waitress-served beer, and be made to feel like some bloody great roaming virus.

I'm not in England, but if I was, I'd buy a few cans from Waitrose, sit on my comfortable sofa at home, and sup whilst listening to Vera Lynn singing 'We'll meet again'. 

I ain't going in no glass box; so there!

Sunday, 11 April 2021

PATTI PAGE - Mockin' Bird Hill(1951)with lyrics

I think this must be the very first song I remember hearing; my mother used to sing it around the house when I was little. I would have been 5 when it was released. My mother loved it.

Patti Page later sang 'How much is that doggie in the window', which was possibly her biggest hit.

I still occasionally find myself singing 'mockin' bird hill'. The song, of course, brings back lovely memories, but I must say, the lyrics are pretty poor!

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Prince Philip. 1921-2021. RIP


A friend came to play.

Billy's girlfriend, Amie, came to spend the morning with us. Her 'mother' had to go out, and left her to play with Billy.

A few years back we always looked after a local woman's dogs when she went travelling. Our home became their 'Maison secondaire', and they alternated between the two seamlessly.

We've always enjoyed entertaining other people's dogs, whether it be for a couple of hours or a couple of weeks.

Amie is like a big cuddly Bear; she's gorgeous.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Whatever next!!!

I almost feel like a traitor. For so many years I've sung the praises of good quality artisan French bread (especially sourdough), and here I am now buying packaged, ready-sliced, wholemeal bread, from some unknown industrial source. I had a sudden urge, and let me assure you that this stuff is wonderful. A classic wholemeal 'Wonderloaf'.

Breakfast for me is always a complex meal. There are so many choices on offer; I need to think long and hard before coming to that daily decision. The fridge is filled with options, and as I take my breakfast alone, the choice is entirely mine.

As for many people, the easiest choice is 'toast', accompanied by whatever preference one has on the day. Recently I have had a penchant for Green Pesto. Lightly toasted wholemeal with plenty of thickly spread unsalted butter, and a really good dollop of Pesto, is just delicious.

I don't like to eat anything sweet, so Marmite, or Peanut butter, or Anchovy paste, are usually arranged on the table awaiting that last minute decision, but they are now joined by a jar of good quality, coarsely ground, Italian Pesto.

p.s. When I next go shopping, I intend to buy some sliced smoked bacon... this bread will be perfect for a classic BLT. I can hardly wait.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

Never a dull moment.

There are three houses in our tiny hamlet, ours being the oldest and smallest. This one (below) is the furthest away of the other two. 

It is the home of K and F, and their three grown-up children. A very nice family.

As I expect you can see, they are having the entire roof re-done. The whole roof is now off and all the old beams have gone. They will start again from scratch.

I imagine they are making some extra bedrooms in the loft space at the same time.

I'd rather them than me... I remember when we had our cottage re-tiled; it was a major upheaval. This is far more drastic.

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

A Quick Tour around our old Barn.

The downstairs of our old Séchoir (tobacco drying shed) is one big open space; I designed it to make the most of its size.

The Kitchen has a large wood-burning cooker, a large range-style gas/electric cooker, plenty of cupboard space, two big fridge/freezers, and a big pantry (out of sight). It's a pleasant place to work.

The Sitting room corner has a wonderfully comfortable L-shaped white leather sofa, a HUGE TV set, and a small wood-burning stove. The yellow square thing by the stove is a game of Snakes-n-Ladders that I made for Boo Boo.

The Dining area and Staircase are just standard. The door at the back goes through to a Bathroom and the Pantry.

The wonderful Italian wood burning cooker, and the moveable island (a table on which I put wheels).

And lastly, another view of the stairs.

From having been a 'project', it's now become a comfortable home. It's still evolving, and no doubt will go through many more changes; especially upstairs where the main Bathroom, and another Bedroom are still under construction. It will eventually have four Bedrooms, and two Bathrooms. 

It's a very pleasant house, it's just a pity that its owners are now living in a big modern Miami penthouse; so it remains empty. C'est la vie!

p.s. Just in case you missed seeing the interior of the barn before I started the work... here it is below.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

The Garden of Eden.

                                           Image associée

I originally posted this informative piece back in the Summer of 2019, but I have now seen fit to add to it slightly.

As all Sussex folk know, the very centre of the Garden of Eden was positioned at Chanctonbury Ring in Sussex; a high point so perfectly situated atop the South Downs that it looks out over the sea to the South, and towards Kent and Surrey to the North.

Adam and Eve Sussex (their correct family names are unknown, but are thought to have been Starkadder and Fuller respectively) chose their home wisely. Not only was there a good Apple orchard, but the serpents thereabouts were of the friendly variety.

However, eventually their landlord (a Mr Good) wished to evict them, and made-up some silly story about them being members of some nudist club, and he wanted nothing more to do with them.

But he was not all bad. Mr Good took pity on them, and before closing Eden's gate behind them, he loaded onto their Ford Transit Van the minimum with which they could survive, before they could find themselves another suitable home.

He gave them a tool box, a cock and six hens, paint brushes and a tube of sepia, six pencils from 2B to 4H, tobacco in a tin, a Latin primer, a selection of verse and prose by good Sussex writers, a small printing press, the basic elements of jurisprudence, a compact medicine chest, a collection of seeds, two pigs, and a large ball of twine.

On reflection, I would now advise Mr Good, that in future, any Chanctonbury residents to be evicted should also be given a No 9 Opinel pocket knife, a box of masks, hand sanitiser, a couple of Astra Zeneca jabs, a bicycle, and some machine on which to play a good selection of instrumental Ska records.

This story is true because Mr Hilaire Belloc told me so. The rest is history.

Monday, 5 April 2021

Easter Day.

The Wisteria is now in full flower. The colour of the flowers is much better than in the photo.

My Courgette seeds have sprouted. I won't plant them out for a while.

And one final job of winter/spring was to re-hang the old gate at Haddock's. It now works again; you should have seen it before!!!

Sunday (Easter) Lunch.


I don't want you to think that I'm some old skinflint, but these were so bloody expensive that I almost needed smelling salts.

Still, it was Easter Day, and we wanted to spoil ourselves a bit; and what better way to do so than with a few Scallops for lunch. 

They're exacting things to cook; one needs to pay attention. Too much and they lose their sweetness, too little and they don't develop any. They should be slightly browned on the outside, but remain transparent on the inside; not unlike cooking fresh Salmon steaks. About 3 mins on either side, + or -.

With these being worth their weight in gold, I really watched over them. They were fabulous, I would almost claim them to have been perfect.

Tomorrow I shall start saving for some more!

For supper, a simple roasted Chicken.

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Boat Race 2021.

This year, the annual Putney to Chiswick Boat Race will not be held on The Thames, but on The Great Ouse at Ely in Cambridgeshire.

The crews will be racing from the tiny hamlet of Queen Adelaide (the new Putney) to the village of Littleport (the new Chiswick), one of the best rowing stretches on the river, and perfect for racing 8's.

I personally know this water like the proverbial back of my hand, having rowed there countless times; never particularly well. We loaned part of our boathouse to Cambridge's second crew 'Goldie', and often practiced our starts against them. We struggled as they invariably pulled away from us, after the very first stroke. 

In more recent times, in 2016 Cambridge moved into a brand new boathouse in Ely, not far from our headquarters. Ely is about 20 miles from Cambridge.

I do think it's a shame that no spectators will be allowed to watch from the river bank to see Cambridge win later this afternoon, but that's life with Covid-19. We shall all have to watch from the safety of our sitting rooms; unless, of course, you just happen to be dog-walking along the tow-path!! 

Kick-off is around 4pm UK time, April 4th (Easter Afternoon).

Friday, 2 April 2021

Be Prepared (for another protest).

I do hope that none of the pupils at The Pimlico Academy in London are planning to travel abroad in the near future. They might need to apply for the UK's new Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).

It proudly displays our national flag on the front; which they might find extremely offensive.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Fruit and Veg' Growing.

At this time of year, all food production is looking good. It's the period of hope and anticipation.

All the fruit trees are filled with flowers, what vegetables are already in the ground are looking healthy, and there's not a single thing that doesn't suggest a bumper harvest for later on in the year.

However, between now and harvest time, all manner of things can go wrong. The weather, bugs, viruses, animals both wild and domestic, and goodness knows what else. Things can go haywire and we end-up with far less than we'd anticipated; or even with nothing. By then our only option is to start thinking of 2022.

For the past few years my essential Tomato harvest was ruined by Blight/Mildew. As this is a disease that can live in the ground for several years, my crop has been moved to large pots, up at the barn. Everything else remains at Haddock's.

As we intend to migrate this autumn, there is little point in my growing Squashes or Pumpkins so there will be a lot of free space. Anything left in the ground when we depart will be donated to a very nice neighbour, who, I'm sure, will appreciate them.

In the meantime, all is well.

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

The Perfect Day.

Weekly shopping in the morning. Very quiet roads. Very quiet supermarket. Filled car with petrol, €40. Perfect.

I sowed a few seeds in a seed-bed; Cavolo Nero, Flat Leafed Parsley, and Swiss Chard.

23 C all afternoon. Shorts, tee-shirt, no socks.

BBQ in the evening. Cumin flavoured Breast of Lamb (my favourite cut), with simple salads. Max Marino accordion music in the background. Red wine.

What could be better than that?

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Beurre de Cacahouète

I'd just finished a pot of Peanut Butter, and was cursing their design department for the crazy shape of the jar (which makes it almost impossible to get to the last few remaining scraps which become caught inside the bulge at the bottom) when I noticed it says on the label 'The UK's Best Tasting.....'.

Not believing that any Peanut Butter could hail from the UK, I looked-up Sun-Pat on Wiki. Yes, there it was; Sun-Pat was a UK company. I had always automatically thought that is was American.

In fact since 2012 it IS now owned by an American company called 'Hain Celestial Group', who also own Frank Copper's Oxford Marmalade, and Scottish rival 'Keiller's Marmalade', as well as Linda McCartney Foods. Previously Sun-Pat was UK owned since 1946.... Nothing is sacred.

Frank Cooper's Marmalade (other than Lady M's) is probably the best Marmalade around. Much as Sun-Pat Peanut butter is also amongst the best. Hain's are obviously discerning buyers.

I find is sad that so many UK companies are now owned by foreigners. But, ever since Kit Kat was bought by Nestlé; I've stopped caring.


Monday, 29 March 2021

Interior, chez Cro.

A couple of unwise people have asked to see the interior of our wee 300 year old cottage. Unfortunately I can't post a video, Blogger refuses to download (not enough space on 'one drive' I think), so here are some interior stills. Please excuse the mess; I've made no attempt to tidy.

This (above) is my 'office', where I do all my writing, etc. We rarely use the dining table at this time of year, so my use of it is reluctantly tolerated. As it becomes warmer, I shall move back into the studio.

Ancient pine Welsh settle with golly, door to studio, and old French dresser with part of my extensive collection of French antique white crockery, etc.

A few pictures, stone niche (carved and installed by me), a lovely old English Beech wooden dresser (which is much bigger than it looks, and unbelievably heavy), and Lady M's collection of exotic Gins. 

And finally the fireplace with unlit wood-burner, and the original old stone sink to the left. One has to remember that this was originally the 'kitchen'; they cooked on the fire, and washed-up, etc, at the stone sink. Life was hard 300 years ago. That's Lady M's sofa well positioned next to the fire!!

All sofas and chairs are covered against Billy hair. Please don't tell me I'm a messy b*gger; I know that already.

That's it. All rather confused and cluttered, but typical of an old cottage.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

What a difference a day makes...

Days have been quite monotonous recently. We keep the same hours, do roughly the same jobs, and stick to our usual meal times, etc. 

However, occasionally along comes a day that is totally different; yesterday was one such.

Planting out seedlings at Haddock's at this time of year is always hazardous, but I invariably find myself doing so; much earlier than is wise. Yesterday I planted my Tomatoes, Aubergines and Peppers.

The Tomatoes are all in large pots, against a south facing wall up at the barn; they are in excellent soil and 'goodness', and the Aubergines and Peppers are planted-out at Haddock's. 

The Toms need to be planted away from Haddock's because of wretched Tomato Blight/Mildew in the soil.

Toms are Marmande 'Hymar F1', Aubergines are 'Baluroi F1', and the Peppers are 'Lamuyo F1'. Varieties that are all new to me.

We can have frosts here until 'The Ice Saints' (11th, 12th, 13th May), so one needs to be cautious. I have placed plastic pots near each of the plants, to place over them in case any frost is forecast.

Then just before lunch, a lazy delivery driver phoned to say he'd left a parcel for me at the tobacconist's at my nearby town; 7 kms away. He couldn't be bothered to deliver it to my front door, as was expected of him. First thing in the afternoon, I hot-tyred it into town to collect.

I had ordered this 'fire pit' (above) online. It's a good size (almost a metre in diameter), reasonably attractive, portable, and very solid. It will be ideal for summer evenings spent outdoors, when the warmth of the day begins to fade. If anyone is looking for something similar I will give details; so many fire pits are over-fancy and ugly; this one is 'simple'.

Of course it had to be assembled, but in this case with just a few screws that fixed the three folding legs.

A busy and productive day all round.

Saturday, 27 March 2021

Iain Dale's comment on the EU's vaccine behaviour.

This is my attempt to resolve complexity; if you find Brussels as confusing as I do, this may help.

I have made my own comment about this affair, but here is LBC's Iain Dale saying much the same.

Iain says it far more succinctly than I can. So this is the EU vaccine saga in a nutshell.

He is 100% right in everything he says.

Friday, 26 March 2021

More from Chez Cro; looking south. The tour continues.

Looking away from the cottage; this is what we see. I adore this view from outside my front door. Just fields, woods, and silence. This is my dog-walking, mushrooming, and psychiatrist's-chair country. It's where I feel alive, where any problems dissolve, and where I feel at one with nature.

I know every spot for the very best mushrooms, I know where there are abandoned apple trees, and I know where the Badgers and Foxes live. This has been my intimate stomping ground for the past 47 years.

A lot of people might find this far too isolated, but for me it's just perfect. 


Thursday, 25 March 2021

Keeping time.

Neither here in France, nor in my home town of Brighton in the UK, have I needed the assistance of a watch. 

Here our village church is just two kilometres from us, and the bell chimes the hour and half-hour.

Back in Brighton this Clock Tower is just a couple of hundred yards from our front door. It was built in 1888 to celebrate Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, and in many ways is the central point of Brighton. The Clock Tower doesn't chime, but the original old mid-14th Century St Nicholas church, which is even nearer to us, does. Time follows us around.

Our Brighton house is in a very quiet little street which is positioned just off one of the busiest streets in town, which connects the railway station with the town centre. On occasions the crowds can be a nightmare, but our little street seems almost unknown, and remains a haven of peace and quiet.

The town clock has a rising and descending sphere on top, which takes one hour to perform its ritual. Not long after the clock was built, the sphere was abandoned, as it made too much noise. I believe it now performs again; maybe they have also removed the noise.

Anyone interested in Clocks, or even the history of fabulous Brighton, will find more here....

 Clock Tower, Brighton - Wikipedia

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

A tour around chez Cro; my 2021 holiday destination.

I've owned big houses, bigger houses, and tiny houses; our present house is one of the latter.

When I say a 'tiny' house; I mean it. Here is our little home; still leafless, but in glorious warm sunshine.

Not much of it, is there? However, of all the homes I've owned, it's proved to be by far the most pleasant! Size isn't everything.

My detailed guided tour takes all of 34 seconds; join me!


Tuesday, 23 March 2021


'Staycation' really is a horrible word. Whoever coined it should be burned at the stake!

However, holidaying in one's own country is 2021's biggest new trend, as foreign trips are now illegal (other than for specific business, or political, reasons).

So, here are few ideas for that week or two away from home. There's Eastnor Castle at £57,540 a week, or Glin Castle at £41,925 a week, or Carlton Towers at £62,200, or for even much better value why not try Kirtlington Park at a mere £28,000 a week. All (I'm sure you'll agree) are lovely locations.

Yes, of course staying at home is going to prove a tad more expensive than visiting a Costa or the Maldives, but there ARE advantages. British rain is delightful in Summer, and sea, river, or pond water is extremely bracing. Most towns have plenty of Charity shops to visit, park benches are often totally free of charge, and the UK has the best fish-n-chips in the world. 

Have a great Summer; but don't forget your masks and hand sanitiser. I still can't decide which of the above I'll go for!


Monday, 22 March 2021

The 1st of Spring.

You'd almost think that yesterday was the 1st of April, not the 1st day of Spring; it would certainly be more befitting of the bizarre behaviour we're witnessing from the EU bigwigs (bigheads).

Macron, Merkel, and von der Leyen, have got together in an attempt to collectively punish the UK for their efficiency over its vaccine programme. Their bitterness is overwhelming. 

The French Pasteur Institute's attempt at a vaccine was a total flop and was abandoned, whilst that of the Anglo/Swedish Astra-Zeneca went ahead as planned and has proved extremely effective. Macron's immediate response to this was to say it was dangerous, didn't work, and caused 'blood clots'. 

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he! As a result, the French are now very suspicious of any vaccine; especially the Astra-Zeneca one. Some surveys say that 70% of the French will refuse to be vaccinated.

In amongst all their jealousy, and foot-stamping, they now say they won't allow the UK to receive their June 2020 order of 19 Million doses from their factory in Belgium, and they now wish to keep everything for themselves..... and boy, do they need it. A 3rd wave of Covid-19 has become rampant throughout Europe; possibly as a result of their dire vaccination and lockdown programmes.

So, surely, the question must be this, if the Astra-Zeneca vaccine is so flawed and dangerous, why on earth would they wish to keep it away from the rightful owners, then use it themselves to put their own citizens in such awful danger?

When Brussels next asks the UK for the £20 Billion EU divorce payment, I sincerely hope that Boris tells them to eff-off.

Macron, Merkel, and von der Leyen, even give 'knavery' a bad name. What scoundrels!

We can personally confirm that the vaccination programme, here in France, is a total disaster.

Sunday, 21 March 2021

The Sunday Larf: Trump golf ball hits Biden on plane stairs

Occasionally these concocted videos are very funny; this is one such. 

No comments needed, methinks!

Saturday, 20 March 2021


With all the freezing cold winds we've been experiencing lately, I'm rather surprised that the Wisteria is beginning to flower.

Going outdoors recently has been unpleasant. We've had the sort of cold weather that gets inside your chest, and gives you headaches. However, I notice that the Wisteria has ignored all the weather signs, and is about to burst into flower.

I'm sure I didn't buy this plant; I more than likely pulled-up a 'runner' somewhere, and I planted it against the wall of our 'tower'. Unfortunately it has proved to be a light blue coloured flower, whereas I would have preferred either a darker blue or even a white.

Still, it was free so I can't really complain. It grows very fast and I'm obliged to prune back quite hard at least twice a year, otherwise it'd be under the tiles in no time.

Every home should have a Wisteria, and we have about four; including a white one elsewhere.

Friday, 19 March 2021

Spot the difference; surfeit v shortage.

I don't expect you to watch this video through to the end, but do watch the first 2 mins. Turn your sound down too.

I believe that the folk in the stopped vehicle were suspected Shoplifters. In the UK, as long as what you've taken is valued at less than £20, then it's no longer treated as a crime. Over in the USA it warrants about 15 cop cars, several motorcycle cops, loads of guns, and at least one police dog. You would certainly be taken off to jail.

Back in the UK, when some little Toad kicks-in your front door, threatens to cut essential bits off you, then runs off with your wife's diamonds; if you're lucky the police will give you a Crime Number (for your insurance Co), and that's it. They certainly wouldn't want to upset the little darling who robbed you. That would be against his 'human rights'.

I hope whatever those people in the white car stole (if indeed they did) was worth all that time, effort, and cost, of all those cops. Somehow I doubt it. I've never seen so many cops just to stop a car, and get the occupants out.

The US cops seem very heavy-handed, and the UK cops are far too lenient. How totally different life is on opposite sides of The Pond. Something in between is needed.

Thursday, 18 March 2021

Unexpected delights

Walking around the property yesterday, I was pleased to see the following.

At this time of year plants are popping up all over the place, this one below has suddenly appeared on the side of a stony bank. When it flowers, it throws up a 4 ft high stem with rather uninteresting yellow flowers. Beautiful at this stage; less so later. I don't know what it's called.

This one below has white flowers on long stems; they crop up all over the place. Occasionally they have purple flowers.

And lastly this is a self-sown Foxglove that re-appears every year. It's a real survivor, with beautiful pink flowers. I'm very pleased to see it back with us again. I'm very fond of Foxgloves.


Wednesday, 17 March 2021

PC becomes curiouser and curiouser .

 "We're also banning 'wiggling', 'jiggling', and 'wriggling', just to be on the safe side".

Cartoon by Paul Thomas, The Daily Mail.


Tuesday, 16 March 2021


I am known, occasionally, to criticise kids who spend all day killing virtual-enemies on their phones or iPads, but I have to admit; I'm also a 'gamer'.

Not blasting aliens, crashing cars, or shooting-up baddies for me, but I do play 'Patience' on my laptop.

'Patience', is a pleasant one-person card game that takes about two minutes to play, and only requires a reasonable amount of eye/hand/brain co-ordination. A game that confirms that one's brain is still working; albeit not too exactingly.

The online version I play has a scoring system that makes it slightly competitive, but scores are of little importance other than telling you how fast you've completed the task.

Recently I decided to play a game with actual cards, and found it far less compelling than the online version; even though my original introduction to the game was obviously with a physical pack of cards.

I don't play that often, but I enjoy it; and if I can achieve a score of over 5,000, even more so.

No Grand Theft Auto, Fortnite, or Super Mario for me; but Patience yes.

I recommend. I even got Boo Boo hooked; I wonder if he's still playing over in Mexico.

Monday, 15 March 2021

Building with stone (old style).


I've been watching this small farmhouse slowly disintegrate over the past 45 years. When I first knew it, it was just an abandoned isolated ruined house with attached barn, pigsties, and other small outbuildings. Then the roof gave-in. Today there is very little left.

I recently noticed another newly collapsed wall, and saw that it was the perfect illustration for how these houses were originally built.

The stones came either from the fields, or from a nearby communal village quarry. The 'mortar' was no more than earth, and the trees for the roof structure, etc, came from the surrounding woods. The roof tiles must have been the main expense, as they needed to be purchased.

All that was then needed was a piece of string with an attached pebble (plumb-line), a few tools, and a level.

They may sound flimsy, but as long as the walls were kept dry (a good roof), they remained solid for centuries. Just stones, earth, and wood. Our house is built like this, and it's lasted 300 years so far.

Sunday, 14 March 2021

H M The Queen. A Sunday Special.

H M The Queen is under attack, not only from within, but from an ever increasing group of left-wing 'woke' activists elsewhere; not least of which is the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. She is often spoken of as an unnecessary appendage to the British economy and taxpayer; which of course is rubbish.

I am posting this simply for the benefit of some 'foreigners' who may have been fed (or are being fed) a totally false picture of Her Majesty. 

Queen Elizabeth II has been on the throne since the age of 25; nearly 70 years, and has never put a foot wrong. She has been an exemplary monarch, and a perfect example of 'regal behaviour'.

Last year she performed 296 official engagements, and welcomed 139,000 guests to Royal residences for banquets, etc. As Head of the Commonwealth she also spent an inordinate amount of time on foreign affairs. She's one busy gal.

Anti-Royalists often claim that she lives a life of luxury on the backs of British taxpayers; the truth is quite different. In fact, many of the usual Moaning-Minnie anti-royals are more than likely actually living off the back of The Queen.

The Queen's private income is known as The Crown Estate; ALL of which is handed over to the government, in the form of an 'exchange'. In recent times this has amounted to around £300 Million. In return she is awarded a living allowance, known as The Sovereign Grant; roughly 25% of her estate. Recently this has been around £80 Million.

The Sovereign Grant is managed by the Keeper (and Deputy Keeper) of the Privy Purse, and goes to pay for everything from her stamp collection, her clothing, running her private properties, her page boys, Royal Ascot, and just about everything else that Her Majesty owns, buys, employs, or controls. She may be asked to approve of the spending, but she does not administer it.

The UK's coffers benefit to the tune of about £220 Million annually. Hardly a drain on the anti-royal taxpayers, as some would have you believe!

I must admit that I haven't seen one minute of 'The Crown' TV soap, but I've heard that it presents a very twisted view of the Royal Family. I was 7 years old at the time of Elizabeth II's coronation, so she has been My Queen for most of my life. It saddens me hugely that a young naïve 'foreigner' now sees fit to criticise her, and insult the historic institution she represents.

She should just be grateful that Henry VIII isn't still around.

I don't wish to see a President Corbyn replacing the monarchy. The present system has worked extremely well, so let's celebrate the fact that the UK has one of the most admired Royal houses in the world, and repel those republicans who wish to bring it down. The world is in enough turmoil as it is, let's not add to it.

And, although one may not believe it after Charlie Hebdo's current edition; Her Majesty is much loved here in France too.

Saturday, 13 March 2021

Making Soy Sauce the Traditional Way

My favourite 'sauce' has to be Lea & Perrins, but coming a close second is Soy; of all makes and types.

The difference between traditionally made Soy, and big scale industrial (Suzi Wan style) Soy, is like chalk and cheese.

I would never be without the standard Kikkoman or Suzi Wan, but nor would I be without an expensive Soy that lifts Oriental foods to a different level.

My armoury of Chinese dishes (or 'ersatz' Chinese dishes) is very limited. In fact I limit myself to just one well-loved sweet-n-sour Chicken, bean sprout, and red pepper dish, served with rice. It's a pleasant dish, but I would never serve it to anyone from the Orient.

Oriental bottled sauces are a minefield; one could very easily end-up with dozens of bottles of strange concoctions; never to be used. I limit myself to Soy (various qualities), sweet chilli sauce, toasted sesame oil, and fish sauce (Nuoc Mâm). With these I make all my sweet-n-sour type sauces that are used for various purposes.

Soy is a little like Balsamic vinegar; there are cheap versions that are fine for everyday use, but there are also extremely expensive ones for special occasions. I could happily buy more varieties of Soy, but I limit myself to the above few; none of which is anything like Mr Yamamoto's production above. 

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