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. 

Friday 12 March 2021

Winter tasks.

Most winter tasks have been completed, but just a couple remained.

I had a small building job to do; the top of a wall needed re-working. A 30 min job (now completed!).

The only other task was burning all the leaves from 'The Royal Oak'. I presume that the Hedgehogs have finished with them, so time for a bonfire. We found no creatures beneath the piles.

I'm sure most people enjoy lighting fires, there is something very satisfying about getting a fire going really well, and nothing worse than struggling to get it lit at all.

This one was titillated with a good splash of White Spirit. The dry leaves roared away, then burned to ashes in about 10 mins. Job done.

Everyone who lights garden bonfires knows that this is one of the most wonderful aromas. Lovely.

Thursday 11 March 2021

Air Miles Markle.

We all know how hard it's been, being locked away in our own homes for the past year.

No-one knows more about such hardship than Ms Markle; as she explained in a recent interview. 

The poor soul even told us that she'd had her passport, driver's licence, and keys 'confiscated', and was literally imprisoned at 'the palace'.  That must have been devastating for her.

Of course, as we all know, Ms Markle's view of the truth is somewhat different to that of the rest of the world, and when WE say we've hardly been out of the house, it's not the same as when SHE says the same thing.

In her case, we are now informed that between 2016 and 2019, she made 13 trips to foreign locations, for which she needed her passport (see above), and countless other domestic trips. One has to feel sorry for the poor dear, it's a hard life being a 'prisoner'.

I only go out once a week, and that's just a 20 Km trip to do my shopping. I'm thinking of contacting Oprah; I'm sure she'd sympathise.


St Kimbo's Day.

Today, March 11th, is my oldest son's birthday. He is 50. How can that have happened?

When I spoke to him recently he asked "Does it make you feel old?". I replied "Not really, it worries me more that you're catching-up with me.

When he was about one, I was over twenty times his age; now at 50 I'm a lot less than twice his age.

He's always been a good boy. When travelling the world on his pre-Oxford Gap Year, not once did he phone home for cash. He's never been out of work. At present he's an executive in European Asset Management (whatever that is), and he's a dab-hand at opening Supermarkets, high rise buildings, etc.

I don't wish to over-bang his drum, but he's always made us very proud of his achievements.

He's also a 2020 Covid-19 survivor.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY darling. Lots of love from Papa xxx

Wednesday 10 March 2021

Almost Easter.

I'd noticed that I was watching the TV lunchtime news alone, and at the same time could hear unusual noises coming from the kitchen; something was afoot.

I should have known; in fact Lady M was having a 'practise run' at her Hot Cross Buns. I've just had one toasted for my breakfast, and can confirm that they are very good; as usual.

HCB's are another thing that one can add to that list of goodies that Brits take for granted. Pork pies, Mince pies, a fish-n-chip shop on every corner, kebab shops, pale-pink sausages, Indian takeaways, M & S, helpful policemen, and Marmite. My future over-wintering back in Blighty again, is beginning to sound rather pleasant.


Where in the world...?

No prizes for this competition, but HUGE kudos for anyone who knows the answer.

What is the name of this town?

Tuesday 9 March 2021

Farage speaks to the nation (and the world).

Protocol prevents The Royal Family making comments about Harry and Meghan, so here is Uncle Nigel instead. It's worth watching in its entirety.

Work kit.

I hadn't stopped to look at my work kit for quite some while. I simply use it when required, semi-clean it, and add it to the pile until the next job.

Just yesterday I was working on a small job, and suddenly realised that ALL my brushes were no more than worn-out rubbish. Frankly I was somewhat embarrassed by my own lack of 'care'.

'Professional' painters are far more slap-dash than their 'Amateur' cousins. Whereas the Amateur will buy sets of colours, sets of brushes, nice wooden palettes, and ready made canvasses, the Pro' will often make do with whatever is handy at the time; I once had a friend who used toothpaste instead of white paint; what his work looked like after a few years, I can't imagine. Winsor and Newton's clientele, are far more likely to be members of an Art Club, than to have graduated from the RCA.

Looking at my kit, above, I've realised that a visit to my nearest supplier is definitely on the cards. If someone was to ask to borrow a brush, I'd have to refuse.... they are disgusting.

I once visited Francis Bacon's mews studio in South Ken; it was way far filthier than mine, his piles of brushes were left uncleaned, and there were tubes of paint all over the floor. I'm not yet that bad.

Monday 8 March 2021

World's Oldest Athletes

We're coming into 'Athletics' season again, and it reminds me of this. I'd previously had no idea that this competition existed. 

These runners are between 90 and 95 years old; there's hope for me yet! Aren't they amazing!

Sunday 7 March 2021

Popular names.

Just as in England where one finds a lot of Smiths and Browns, and in Wales plenty of Joneses and Evanses, the USA seems to be awash with Bros, Dudes, and Mans.

Unlike most countries, in the USA it's just plain Bro, Dude, or Man. To Europeans it does tend to sound a tad 'familiar', especially when being addressed by a 'cop', but that's how they like it.

Also in the USA, black female babies are given the most wonderfully exotic 'invented' names. It's almost a competition to find the most extravagant names possible. No black girl would ever be named Veronica or Penelope (go on, tell me you know plenty); it has to be ShaNeekar-la, or Da'Quandé, or even Ka'Likatirfrianiqua (yes, really). Boys of course are all called Dude or Bro.

I always enjoy reading the UK's annual list of the year's most popular names. Last year saw Sophia the most favoured girl's name, and Muhammad the most popular for boys. The trend for girls names to end in ie or y has now been replaced by ia.

Of course, many children are named after reality-show celebs, TV presenters, or actors. Names associated with intellectuals have never been popular; I doubt if we'll see a surfeit of Borises or Jacobs.

My sister and I were named after characters from Swallows and Amazons, and no doubt if I'd had a younger sister she would have been named Titty (saved by the bell).

Certain Nordic countries stick to a very limited official list of available 'given names'; Iceland being amongst the most strict. No Icelandic boy is ever called Elvis.

I'm sure you recognise the man in my photo (Elon Musk). You really have to pity that poor baby whose name is X Æ A-12.

Saturday 6 March 2021

Unnecessary change!

I've never liked change for change's sake. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

As long as I've been drinking instant coffee (60 years?), the tops of the Nescafé jars have always been dark 'coffee brown'. Now, for some bizarre reason, some spotty youf in their design dep't has decided that they should be RED.

They even warned on the jar, that because the tops had changed colour, it didn't mean that the contents had changed.

This may sound obsessive, but I am that annoyed by this unnecessary change that each time a pot of instant coffee is emptied, I now change the tops; always keeping the brown one.

I don't know about you, but personally I don't think that the red tops look right; and, anyway, what on earth was the point on changing the colour. Was it just to annoy old Cro down in Southern France?

You may find it strange that I'm writing about the colour of the tops on instant coffee jars, but for some reason this really, really, annoys me!

Have a good day!


Friday 5 March 2021

The Saga Continues.

It's a strange thing that The Royal Family were getting along quite well before Meghan arrived on the scene. One really has to wonder what changed all that.

Yes, they're still in the bloody news.

I know I'm not alone in wishing that Mr and Mrs Sussex (or whatever they now call themselves) would simply settle down, shut-up, go and make themselves lots of money, and do what they'd originally told us they wished to do; which was to live a quiet life away from their Royal duties, and away from the horrid, horrid, beastly, UK press.

Harry has been enjoying his new-found privacy by riding around in an open-top Hollywood bus (mentioning Netflix 3 times), and jointly spilling beans to Oprah in a 2 hour 'primetime special'. Obviously keeping themselves out of the limelight.

Meghan, unfortunately, has been making exactly the same mistake as Harry's late mother, seeing herself as the headline, rather than the support act. She, also, like Harry's mother should have understood that she was simply a consort and not the 'big banana'. 

Harry claims that he is able to cope with his separation from the Royal Family because he has Meghan by his side; and claims that his mother had had no such support, and had "gone through the process by herself". I think they've been keeping a few details from you dear boy!

It's far too late for advice now. Pre her wedding she was very popular in the UK,  but after the wedding she should have stayed in the background, perhaps adopted a couple of good causes, maybe continued with her acting career, and left Harry to be the star of the show, then none of this nonsense would have happened. 

People were bemused by her inviting so many Hollywood stars to her very expensive wedding. Most she had never met; others only briefly. It's this constantly searching for the limelight that has made her unpopular; people don't like that in England. England is not Hollywood. It's simply not 'British'.

She got what she wanted. She married her Prince, returned to Hollywood, and has her heir and spare (almost). The one thing they both now owe to HM The Queen, is some respect; and possibly to Markle's own family as well. Is there anyone she hasn't yet upset?

Her Majesty has behaved impeccably throughout her life. She's never dressed in Nazi costumes, never wandered around naked at Las Vegas parties, and, above all, she is Harry's grandmother. So would you now both behave yourselves, and shut-up!

Meghan comes from a pretty ordinary background, she was a divorcee, a bit-part actress in a cheap soap, and frankly knew absolutely nothing of the duties and expectations of The Royal Family. Why she thinks she can now admonish them for not behaving correctly, is a mystery. Obviously she thinks she knows best.

And one more thing. Would you please now stop calling yourselves the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. I don't suppose you've ever been to god's playground, and Meghan probably doesn't even know where Sussex is.


Thursday 4 March 2021

Town planning.

I quite expect we all have tales to tell of town planning departments. I myself spoke at a meeting of the Brighton & Hove Council about the blatant misuse of municipal funds, and the eventual pocketing of half a million quid by one of the councillors. It was a total disgrace.

I got nowhere, but I hadn't expected heads to roll. I'd simply wanted the meeting's minutes to record that the scam hadn't gone unnoticed! Especially by me!

Not many planning approvals are as ridiculous as the one illustrated in the short video above, they usually involve refusals, then the subsequent approval to a friend of the planning officer. I suspect that 'greased palms' must be more common in town planning offices than anywhere else.

In Spain they are quite happy to give planning permission, later change their minds, pull down newly built occupied houses, and confiscate the land. This mostly happens to foreign owned properties, where the proprietors have little recourse.

On two occasions my own parents applied for planning permission on excess land (they simply wanted the outline planning permission to sell along with the house). On both occasions it was refused, but after selling the homes, suddenly permission was mysteriously given.

Back in the UK, housing is in short supply, and developers are constantly applying for permission to build on 'brown field sites' . Such developments come with strict stipulations that they include a good percentage of 'affordable homes'. Such homes, if let to tenants, must be at 20% less rent than similar nearby properties, and if sold to new homeowners, must be sold at 20% under local values.

I do remember (back in the 80's I think), the town of Telford in Shropshire was building a large new landscaped estate on the outskirts of town. It was specified that all the individual developers were not allowed to build their houses within 6 of another one of their own built houses, and no two houses similar; therefore creating a good diversity of building styles and methods, and not some monotone development. I think someone should have suggested that to the Turkish planning folk above.

Wednesday 3 March 2021

More tree planting.

There are several trees that are essential to any orchard, a Bramley cooking Apple, a Victoria Plum tree, and a Cox's Orange Pippin.

The French have always been 'funny' about English Apples and Plums. They much prefer their own varieties and hate to admit that anything from north of the channel could be better.

We already have a Bramley down by the pool, and we have had a Cox previously which sadly died from Honey Fungus, but I have yet to find a Victoria plum over here, so we have the next best French variety, which is a very poor cousin. Both the Bramley and the Cox were secretly imported from Blighty.

I was quite surprised to find this tree yesterday, and 'snapped it up'. It's been about 20 years since our last one died, and we've really missed it. Cox's do not appear on supermarket shelves.

England is a great country for both Apples and Plums, and France is probably the best for Pears; and let no-one tell you differently.

Give it a few years and we'll be eating Cox's again.... or at least Boo Boo and The Cherub will.

Tuesday 2 March 2021


I like Prof Van-Tam. He's a highly qualified, no nonsense, epidemiologist, and is one of the three Deputy Chief Medical officers for England; currently advising the government on Covid-19.

What he doesn't know about the present pandemic, isn't worth knowing. Talking of the proposed relaxation of the UK's current restrictions, he said......

"Don't wreck this now, it's too early to relax".

He is, of course, absolutely right. If the virus continues to spread it is only because far too many people continue to behave in an irresponsible manner. Always listen to those who know what they're talking about. Van-Tam does!

This frustration doesn't end here. Mr Ken Marsh, who is the Chairman of the UK's Metropolitan Police Federation recently said "Police don't want to police this. We have had enough of this. It's not policeable. It's not manageable". They can no longer cope with the amount of people hell-bent on spreading the virus. They prefer to catch burglars.

And on the subject of vaccines, I've just heard this morning that France will start giving the British Astra-Zeneca jab. Just be grateful you don't have Macron in charge of your country.  What a plonker!

Monday 1 March 2021


I was recently looking at the online details of a rather nice big old Normandy Manor House that's for sale. It was a spectacular building with plenty of outbuildings and land, and of course a wonderful half-timbered exterior. Like all such homes, it was also very cheap.

However, the one thing that attracted my attention was the kitchen (that small yellowy corner above).

On rainy afternoons we often watch a TV house finding programme, where, almost without exception, the wife wants an EXTRA-LARGE KITCHEN-DINER in which to re-heat her Sainsbury's ready-meal.

So often this same wife (excuse my sexism) will visit vast kitchens and declare them FAR TOO SMALL; which I always see as a sign that she obviously doesn't cook.

The kitchen of the beautiful Normandy home (above) is like so many that one finds in France; very basic and tiny, but perfectly adequate to provide wonderful meals at the drop of a hat.

The kitchen in our village Chateau was even more basic, and my friend L who lived there was a wonderful cook; proving I suppose that it's not size that matters, but skill.

But you knew that; didn't you!


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