Monday 31 May 2021

Summer, at last.

27 C in the shade. 19 C in the water. Did I brave it? Yes, and it was bloody cold! Two lengths only; Lady M claimed more.

We eat outdoors. Simple Summer salads, and maybe a BBQ in the evening. Taboulé is back on the menu, and Shorts, T shirts, and Espadrilles are worn from morning to night.

Billy has become more interested in water. We wonder how he'll cope with the sea!

There are mushrooms in the woods, Strawberries at Haddock's, and fruit is forming on the trees. We will have a great Peach crop this year, providing all goes well.

The grass needs mowing at least once a week, and pretty girls have been spotted wearing Summer dresses.

I even have the start of my two-tone feet.

There's a lot to be said for Summer.


Sunday 30 May 2021

So, how's Brexit coming along?

They're not laughing now!

Other than the appalling fiasco over vaccines, and fishing, M Macron and Ms Merkel now have other worries.

Germany's exports to the UK between December '20 and January '21 were down by 30.5%; a loss of £1.7 Billion from their dwindling coffers.

During the same period, French exports to the UK fell by 16%; whilst their imports from the UK rose by 27%. That wouldn't have made Emmanuel very happy!

Macron has now imposed a strict 7 day isolation period for all UK residents who enter France. Whilst back in the UK, France is firmly placed on the 'Amber List' of dodgy countries to visit. If you do somehow manage to get away for a week's holiday to The Riviera, you will have to spend it locked away indoors!

By wishing to punish Great Britain, the tide seems to have turned, and the people who are suffering the most are citizens from the EU's two remaining financial powers; France and Germany.

And, whilst on the subject; whatever happened to those predicted lorry queues at Dover? Here (below) is a picture of the empty 66 acre lorry park in Ashford. It was hurriedly built, and designed to cope with a build-up of 1,700 lorries. It remains unused; I wonder who's paying the electricity bill?

As I said quite recently, a more intelligent EU would have worked WITH the UK, not AGAINST her. 

Saturday 29 May 2021



AMY WINEHOUSE - Hey Little Rich Girl (& Zalon & Ede)

I still get Goosebumps listening to this. 'Hey little rich girl' was written by The Specials lead guitarist Roddy Radiation. The message in his lyrics reminds me of Dylan's 'Like a Rolling Stone', which I posted here yesterday.

Here is Amy's version. Beautiful Amy; we miss her.

Friday 28 May 2021

Bob Dylan is 80.

Once upon a time you dressed so fine
Threw the bums a dime in your prime, didn't you?
People call say 'beware doll, you're bound to fall'
You thought they were all kidding you
You used to laugh about
Everybody that was hanging out
Now you don't talk so loud
Now you don't seem so proud
About having to be scrounging your next meal
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be without a home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone
Ahh you've gone to the finest schools, alright Miss Lonely
But you know you only used to get juiced in it
Nobody's ever taught you how to live out on the street
And now you're gonna have to get used to it
You say you never compromise
With the mystery tramp, but now you realize
He's not selling any alibis
As you stare into the vacuum of his eyes
And say do you want to make a deal?
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
A complete unknown, like a rolling stone
Ah you never turned around to see the frowns
On the jugglers and the clowns when they all did tricks for you
You never understood that it ain't no good
You shouldn't let other people get your kicks for you
You used to ride on a chrome horse with your diplomat
Who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat
Ain't it hard when you discovered that
He really wasn't where it's at
After he took from you everything he could steal
How does it feel, how does it feel?
To have on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone
Ahh princess on a steeple and all the pretty people
They're all drinking, thinking that they've got it made
Exchanging all precious gifts
But you better take your diamond ring, you better pawn it babe
You used to be so amused
At Napoleon in rags and the language that he used
Go to him he calls you, you can't refuse
When you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You're invisible now, you've got no secrets to conceal
How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone

Thursday 27 May 2021

Summer started today.

It was such a perfect day today, so we decided to open the pool.

It's always a tense moment, pulling back the winter cover to see what's underneath. We needn't have worried, it was pretty clean.

Then comes the business of turning on the pump and filter. Again no problems, it started up at once.

The only problem is the temperature of the water. It's 15 C; about 7 degrees less than our minimum swimming tolerance.

We can wait. It's just such a pleasure having it open again. Tomorrow we'll clean everywhere; it needs it.



I always buy the same wellies. I know exactly where to find them, I like their fit, and they come at the right price (about €13). Their only disadvantage is that they don't last too long; they split. This below is a classic example.

I must wear my wellies more than any other 'footwear'. Living out in the country they are essential. Our grass is wet from dew, or rain, almost every day of the year, and doesn't dry until mid-day at the earliest. I have no idea why this is, but it's something one learns to live with. Wellies make it bearable.

The clothing and shoe dep't at my supermarket is now open again, so on Tuesday I was able to buy a new pair of wellies. I was amused to see that they are 100% recyclable. Lady M is the recycling guru in this house and religiously sorts everything into separate piles before taking them off to the allotted bins. She will be taking my old pair with her when she next goes; although I don't know what category they'll come under.

Why does no-one sell a 'Wellie Repair Kit'?

Wednesday 26 May 2021


Green has always been my favourite colour. It also happens to be one of the preferred colours of our local potters for their glazes; both now and previously.

It's a particular green; not brash or obtrusive, but a green that is relaxing and comfortable.

I am constantly finding bits of broken plates, cups, or bowls which have this green glaze. Just looking at the soil opposite the house I found this small piece yesterday, above. It is the same basic glaze as that on the large flower pot (left), and the tall ancient pinnacle (right) that live on our terrace wall. 

I believe the colour comes from a small percentage of Copper Oxide, although I am not a potter. It must have been an easily obtained additive, as it seems to be used by 'rustic potters' the world over.

I have quite a collection of Biot pottery (both modern and antique) from Provence. They use this colour extensively, and produce beautiful work. 

It's a colour that always makes me happy. 


Tuesday 25 May 2021

Quizzes, quizzes, and more quizzes.

Covid-19 is not only responsible for deaths, illnesses, neuroses, paranoia, and boredom; it is also responsible for countless tedious audience-free quiz programmes on TV. One or two quiz programmes that tax the brain to a reasonable level are fine, but every time I turn on the TV they seem to be announcing yet another banal low-IQ show.

Is a Spaniel a type of.... a. Spanish sandwich? b. Wrench for screwing or unscrewing bolts? c. Dog? etc, etc. 

Personally I would rather be given the option of watching classics from the past. Ian McShane as Lovejoy. Martin Clunes as Doc Martin. Martin Clunes again in Men Behaving Badly. Dawn French in The vicar of Dibley. Ab Fab with Lumley and Saunders. All Creatures Great & Small. Blackadder. I could go on; there are so many wonderful classic programmes to chose from.

I should add that none of the above contains violence, car crashes, expletives, mass murder, or explosions.

Of course, if they did have better programmes, I might be tempted to turn on, and waste time when I should be doing more important things. I know that the BBC is always being accused of showing repeats, but if they're good ones; why not?

Monday 24 May 2021

Schoolboy memories.

I must thank JayCee, who has just reminded me of this.

What is your most revisited memory from your schooldays?

Mine must be this small two-tiered chapel (on the right) that was situated directly opposite our Dining Room (with the two windows and drainpipe).

Below was 'The Undercroft Chapel', and above, reached by a very small winding stone staircase, was 'Prior Crauden's Chapel'.

I spent many hours upstairs in Prior Crauden's; reading whilst sitting in one of the uncomfortable stone niches. The chapel was always empty, and peace and quiet was assured.

I have never been a religious person, least of all during my school days, but as a senior boy I officiated over Complin in Prior Crauden's on a few occasions, with a handful of attendees. It was almost expected that we would take turns to read prayers, and in a strange way I really enjoyed it. The feeling of being part of history was overwhelming; even though, to me, it was no more than 'theatre'.

It was a set (10 min) service with the same script read nightly, which gave me an inkling into the superiority that priests/vicars must feel, whilst in control of a large congregation. Hmmm.

Sunday 23 May 2021

Progress report.

I'm reasonably happy with Haddock's. Most things are looking OK, even if they're not growing as well as I'd hoped. The wet weather plays havoc with growth.

My Peppers and Aubergines are much the same size as when I planted them several weeks ago. I've sown two rows of French Beans, both of which have 'melted' in the soil; I shall sow again when it's warmer. My Courgettes are only just beginning to sprout new leaves.

Otherwise, the Onions, Strawberries, Spinach, and Tomatoes are all doing very well. The Artichokes (behind the incinerator) are all eaten, and I now await the secondary growth.

I have just recently planted out the Cavolo Nero and Swiss Chard plants, and the slugs are being kept at bay.

All the Grape Vines at Haddock's are looking good, but that can change (as it did last year).

Haddock's also has Plums, Currants, Raspberries, Apples, Figs and Cherries.

It may seem strange when living out in the country that I am growing my Toms in pots, but with a nasty Tomato disease in the soil at Haddock's, I'm obliged to grow them elsewhere. Being in big pots means I can decide exactly what they're planted in, I can keep the watering under control, and I can keep a constant lookout for any problems. I'm pleased to say they're looking very good, have no disease, and have plenty of flowers. I'm expecting a good crop.

Elsewhere, up at the barn, I notice that Boo Boo's Peach tree is covered with fruit. They are a particularly large and juicy variety, but I'm afraid he won't be here to appreciate them.

Saturday 22 May 2021

When will it end?

Self-imposed Covid-isolation is bad enough, but this relentless bad weather is making it even worse. Of course we need rain from time to time, but this is crazy.

One minute sunshine (if we're lucky), then back comes the rain.

On Thursday (20th May) we had a good dry sunny day, and I managed to mow most of the grass, but now it's back to rain again.

This scene outside our front door, above, is typical. You can probably see that there had just been some sun, but give it a couple of minutes and, BANG, down comes the rain.

We are all getting very fed-up with it.


Friday 21 May 2021

It's all in the spelling.


We've been having some really foul weather recently; bad enough to keep us indoors, watching afternoon TV with our cup of Lapsang and McVities digestive.

A favourite Tea-Time afternoon BBC programme is about buying property in the countryside, and it occasionally involves my screaming at the TV.

Previously my gripes have been about their use of the word 'vaulted', which they use willy-nilly for any ceiling that has beams; and why do they continually call stones, 'bricks'?

However, my latest annoyance comes in respect of 'equestrian properties' that contain an enclosed exercise area.

Such areas are invariably called a 'Ménage' by the presenters, when every horse-owner knows that they are a 'Manège'. 

Ménage = Household

Manège = Roundabout

I don't know why this annoys me so much; I suppose it's simply because I expect 'experts' to have some expertise. They'll soon be referring to the Kitchen as the 'en suite'.

Thursday 20 May 2021

The Charge of the Woke Brigade.

It is being claimed that the current spate of jiggery-wokery is responsible for Labour's dire results at the polls recently. I'm sure these claims are right; people are sick to death of all this silliness.

So, what is prompting all this Woke popularity amongst the juvenile 'far-left'? 

Obviously, being out of favour politically is hurtful; and Labour supporters are frustrated. But surely the best way to regain popularity is to become trusted again, and this will never happen whilst all this negativity abounds. Their current bout of disgraceful, thinly veiled, anti-Semitism, and support for the Hamas terrorists, doesn't help their cause either.

The 'Woke Generation' (how I hate that expression) are shooting themselves in the foot. They are desperate for Labour's far-left to regain power, and are demonstrating exactly how that power would be enacted; or at least how they wish it would! Of course, the Labour Party rarely shows any interest in the desires or interests of their more radical supporters; who presumably are seen as trouble-makers, just as they are outside the party.

The Labour voters' choice is now a difficult one; it's between the untrustworthy extreme left, and the more liberal 'Newer' Labour. The former fills people with horror, and the latter is seen as weak and ineffective.

Sir Keir, et al, should remember that the vast majority of the British voting public are tolerant, fair minded, and moderate people; and that Wokery has no place in any Labour manifesto. 

In desperation I now hear that Sir Keir has employed Deborah Mattinson as his 'Director of Strategy'. Ms Mattinson steered Mrs Thatcher to a couple of famous victories, so maybe there's hope for him yet.

Do not be fooled; 'Wokery' is no joke, its aims are to undermine the very culture and history of a nation. I fear it may be a while before a more sensible Labour Party is seen as electable. I, for one, hope that time comes a.s.a.p.

Personally I'm a very middle-of-the-road Conservative who would like to see a strong Labour opposition. Democracy relies on opposition, and unfortunately the 'Woke Generation' are doing their best to ensure that doesn't happen.

Wednesday 19 May 2021

Globe Artichokes.

It's Artichoke season, but other than that, there's very little yet to eat from Haddock's, apart from a few Strawberries.

They're a bit fiddly to prepare, and a bit messy to eat, but it's all worthwhile. My particular one's, above, are also VERY spikey.

I always used to buy the big round green ones, that were boiled and eaten leaf by leaf. These days I prefer the purple tinged ones that are trimmed down, cooked, and eaten whole. Maybe that's because they're the ones I grow myself.

I really need a lot more plants as each picking is quite small. Luckily Lady M is not a huge fan, so I usually get more than my fair share. Yum.

Tuesday 18 May 2021

What a wonderful surprise.

A friend, and blog reader, from nearby; Joan M has just sent me these two wonderful books. One is about Sussex villages, and the other about our UK home town of Brighton.

Both books are beautifully illustrated with line drawings by Gerald Lip and David Peacock. There is even a lovely drawing of the 14th C church at the bottom of our road; I note that they spell it St Nicolas Church, and not St Nicholas Church as it's written today.

I never think of Brighton as a 'Seaside Resort', to me it's a residential town (city), which is full of character and characters. It also retains much of its charm from the early 1500's, with the famous 'Lanes' being its best known quarter (below).

One never stops learning about the history of a town. I was intrigued to read that the Duke of Wellington had attended St Nicholas Church. I have always wanted to attend our Christmas 'Midnight Mass', but have never yet managed to do so. We really must go one year; It would be good to have something in common with Wellington.

Just in case you haven't heard of Brighton, it's a UK south coast town with a reputation for artists, fun, fashion, youth, a big gay scene, theatre, music, two universities, the sea, fabulous international restaurants, and 'wealth'. Because of its location, it's often referred to as 'London by the Sea'. It's a wonderful place to live.

So, thank you Joan; your gift is highly appreciated. We're actually looking forward to being back there this winter!


Monday 17 May 2021

UK Units of Measurement or Comparisons.

We all tend to use comparatives to express sizes, lengths, or the heights of things that would otherwise be tricky to estimate.

Tall things tend to be compared to the height of Nelson's Column, long things to Cricket Pitches, and volumes to how many could fit inside Wembley Stadium (above).

Countries sizes are often compared to the number of Wales's that could fit into them.

Room sizes can be compared to the size of a Double Decker Bus, as can Satellites. Front Gardens are often compared to Handkerchiefs. Thickness by Planks or Bricks. Brightness by Buttons. And certain liquid quantities by how many Olympic sized swimming pools they can fill.

Width can be measured in Tennis Courts, obesity by Pigs, attractiveness by Pictures or the rear of Buses, thinness by Rakes, and the lack of hair by Coots. 

The British are an inventive lot. More please!

Sunday 16 May 2021

I recognise that!!!

I often find myself looking at interiors, just in case I should spot one of my stolen paintings on a wall. They must all be somewhere!

However, I wasn't expecting to find that my small 'Tower' window had been copied and installed in Britain's Oldest Pub; the 900 year old 'The Royal Standard of England' in Fort Green Buckinghamshire.

Viewers will easily see that there has been skulduggery afoot; they've even made TWO; one for either side of the fireplace.


EU Tourism 2021.

Brits do like their Summer beach holidays in the sun, and this is witnessed by Spain having regularly been the UK's favourite destination; as can be seen by this typically quiet beach scene, above.

Second on the list of favourite destinations is France.

Like Elephants, Brits have good memories, and I'm sure that many will not return to either Spain or France for quite some while. They will not forget the post-Brexit attitude of these countries towards Britain, and will probably prefer to spend their hard-earned holiday £'s in more friendly countries.

The UK used to send, on average, 18 Million tourists to Spain each year, and 12 Million to France; that's more than any other country, and it represented a lot of holiday dosh.

Croatia, Turkey, Morocco, Bulgaria, and Tunisia are all excellent alternative non-EU holiday destinations (and much cheaper), and, I hope, will benefit from certain nations antagonism towards Britain. Why visit a country where the President/Prime Minister spreads hatred about you, when you can easily go somewhere else where you're welcome? Even Saudi is tempting tourists away from mainland Europe. Pedro, and Emmanuel may come to regret their bad behaviour; especially now when tourist Euros would be extremely welcome.

For the moment both Spain and France are verboten as holiday destinations, and I suspect that Boris may keep it that way for a while (at least until the holiday season is over). My advice is to go somewhere a bit different for a change. You might even find a quiet beach.

Saturday 15 May 2021


I rather like the look of Mr Musk's 'Cybertruck'. It looks as if it's been designed by an Origami buff.

It looks 'home-made', it has a simple aluminium body (I think), and I'd imagined it was pretty cheap to make; by the look of it. 

The bodywork looks as if it's been stamped-out in about 4 bits, it has 4 chunky tyres, and appears to be a doddle to manufacture; Chassis, Engine, Wheels, Body; a few bolts and screws, and it's done.

I was interested enough to look online to see if I should buy one.

Firstly it's electric, and I'm not keen. I understand that the cheapest model will run for about 400 Kms before requiring a re-charge; not enough. It will reach 0-60 in 6.5 secs, but that doesn't interest me one iota. And finally it has a top speed of 175Km/h; I rarely go above 80.

Most importantly, I suppose, is the price. There are, of course different models from 'reasonable' to 'not so reasonable'. They start at about $40,000, and rise to $70,000.

I don't think I'll bother, but I still like the look of it..


Friday 14 May 2021


I'm not a great consumer of Cake; my diabetes (and my doc') disallows it.

However, Lady Magnon is very adept at certain cakes, and I reluctantly (willingly) partake. Her Christmas Cake is legendary, and her Lemon Drizzle Cake would certainly win prizes at the village WI show.

I was recently preparing another batch of 'preserved Lemons', and had a couple of darlings left over. Lady M commandeered them, and produced the above.

She has now totally mastered the art of fine Lemon Drizzle Cake making. This particular example was light, fluffy, Lemony, and not too sweet; perfect. I do tend to like my cake slightly more cooked than recipes would suggest; I like the edges and bottom to be almost burned, but she refuses. She assures me that Mary Berry would have me shot.

We don't have a WI in Brighton, but were we to over-winter in a small English village, she would be a serious contender in the annual show's Lemon Drizzle Cake category. 

I should add that she kindly gave a couple of slices to our builder, Olivier, who may have described it to his wife as a Gateau au Bruine de Citron. He loved it.

Thursday 13 May 2021

Macron; another Napoleon wannabe?

There is no question that Napoleon was an important military leader, but his greatest defeat was at the hands of those very annoying English.

His invasion of Russia ended with almost 600,000 pointless French deaths, and at the Battle of Leipzig he lost another 100,000. His ability to maximise French losses was on a par with his occasional success.

Even following Napoleon's defeat by Wellington, his reputation amongst the French is still far greater than that of Wellington's is with the English. Maybe heroes have different standards on opposite sides of the channel.

The English famously sent Napoleon to St Helena where eventually, in 1821, he died. His body was returned to France some 20 years later, where he is still idolised; especially by 'teacher's pet' Macron. It's not surprising that certain Frenchmen hate the English.

Meanwhile back in the UK, some of our finest military leaders are now being 'cancelled' by the junior-thinking Woke brigade. In France, rather than having his name and images removed, as would have been the case had he been English; Napoleon remains a god. His restoration of Slavery in 1802, which led to the infamous 'Haitian Revolution', would have had the UK's Snowflakes taking to the barricades; but not over here, where not even his support for slavery can besmirch his deity status.

And as for slave owner George Washington, who personally owned 123 slaves, and was an extremely cruel taskmaster. How he has (so far) managed to escape the American BLM's loathing is a total mystery! 

N.B. The word 'macron' means long (maybe too long) in time. It is also the name of that little line over a vowel encouraging the reader stretch the sound, as in Māori.

Wednesday 12 May 2021


We've been having some heavy, stormy, rain recently, and we're about to have another week of it. I can't think why, but it set me thinking about BROLLIES.

Other than my cheap schoolboy brollies, my first pukka 'brolly' was bought in order to equip myself correctly before taking up my first ever post-school job; as a 'blue button' (trainee broker) on the London Stock Exchange.

I should never have mentioned anything to my aesthete school friend Monty, but he insisted that I visit Swaine Adeney Brigg in Piccadilly; where, he assured me, all gentlemen bought their umbrellas.

I followed his advice, and found myself spending a bloody fortune on a brolly that I hardly ever used, and eventually lost on the train.

I was then told by another friend to visit the lost property office at Victoria Station, to give them the details of a train and time (but to be vague about the day) when I had lost my brolly, and I would be shown a good selection from which to choose my next 'free' brolly. I did as advised, put on quite a convincing act, chose an expensive looking model from a vast selection, and replaced my lost item with a very good alternative.

Since those city days I have had an extensive collection of cheap brollies, most of which either instantly turned inside-out, or finished with spokes penetrating the covering. I'm sure you recognise the ilk.

My latest model (see the 2 pix above) is very much on a par with my original Swaine Adeney one. It was expensive, is well made, and I hope will see me through. Just look at all those spokes; very solid, and quite heavy too. It's a pukka job.

Bring on the rain.

Tuesday 11 May 2021

Boo Boo (a.k.a. Fangio) in the US of A.

He seems to be settling in well to life in Florida; I even noticed the slight twinge of an accent in one particular word when speaking to him recently.

His reading is now superb, no more problems with long words, and he is enjoying the company of other children of his own age. His school (Riviera Miami) has an excellent reputation.

Lady Magnon spent about 7 or 8 years at school in Washington DC, and came to no serious harm. When she was eventually sent to an English upper school (on the Isle of Wight), she arrived there with an American accent, which her new Headmistress would not tolerate. She was made to attend elocution lessons at once, and the problem was soon solved. Her English is now spoken with an English accent.

My daughter who has lived in Oz for about 15 years (presently in Brisbane) shows no sign of an Aussie accent; which I know can be very easily adopted; I can't say the same for her two boys. 

I, myself, have lived in France for nearly 50 years, and other than throwing my arms around erratically, and regularly peeing outdoors, I offer not a hint of a Gallic accent; although I believe I do speak French with a south western twang.

I have a feeling that the next time I see Boo Boo, he'll be encouraging me to 'have a nice day', wanting to play Rounders, and talking about 'Football'; but not the proper kind.


Monday 10 May 2021

Dr Stephen Francis Lester Lowe M.B. CH.B M.R.C.P (UK) F.R.C.P (C) et al.


I think of my dear cousin every day of the year (the photo below lives in a prominent position in my sitting room), but especially on this day May 10th; the day on which he was murdered, in 1977.

My cousin Stephen was not just a 'doctor'; he was an exceptional one. His diagnostic abilities for 'internal medicine' were second to none. 

As a young 'houseman' at Liverpool's Royal University Hospital, he was head-hunted by the Australian Health Service as a 'Flying Doctor'. His possession of a pilot's licence made him highly sought-after.

Regardless, he decided to go to Canada, and it was there where his life sadly came to a sudden end at the hands of some young scumbag next-door neighbour who was looking for drugs (I believe). 

He'd been an advisor to the Canadian Government, as well as having his services often sought by the Canadian Mounties. He was a lovely man, and had been a huge asset to society.

He died aged 35, leaving a wife and three young daughters; one of whom witnessed his murder.

He should have had at least another 30 years to offer to the world of medicine. What a terrible waste of a precious life.

RIP Stephen. It pains me, knowing that he's no longer here. xx

Sunday 9 May 2021

Oh dear; The Labour Party (UK)

It's been a whole year, now, since Sir Keir 'Brylcreem' Starmer took over from Corbyn as Leader of The UK's Labour Party, supposedly giving them slightly more 'electability' than under wee Jeremy. 

But the poor guy, Sir Keir already seems to be stuck in the mire. He's been caught visiting a church with very dubious anti-gay procedures, he's been photographed on one knee in submission to something or other, and he's still refusing to apologise for Corbyn's crazy term in office, and/or Labour's anti-Semitic stance. He doesn't seem to have any policies either; whacky or otherwise.

Not only all this, but in the recent parliamentary, and local council elections, Labour have hit rock-bottom. They've even just lost Hartlepool; a Labour 'jewel in the crown' seat, that hadn't seen a Tory win for half a century. Even up there they're getting the message.

Starmer obviously has sharper skills as a speaker than his predecessor; he is, after all, a reasonably well-honed Barrister. But typical of a Barrister turned Politician, he's continually nit-picking from the past rather than proposing policies for the future. Assembling a case from past events might work in court, but not in parliament, giving him the well-earned sobriquet of 'Captain Hindsight'. 

At the weekly Wednesday PMQ's it makes him very easy picking for Boris Johnson's superior debating and political abilities; Sir Keir simply sits there blinking, hoping to hit a nerve, whilst looking confused and downhearted. His recent attempt to tar Boris with accusations of 'sleaze' has only made Boris's popularity increase. He can't win.

His novelty value is now waning, and his popularity has fallen drastically. He was originally seen as a latter day, quasi-Tory, 'son of Blair', but without the dewy-eyed appeal; Sir Keir has a somewhat manic and perplexed look. He is also seen as too weak and too right-wing for the more radical members of both his Parliamentary Party, and the all-powerful Trades Unions.

I can't see him leading Labour into the next general election, unless he changes his 'Blairite' political stance. More radical Labour MP's would desperately like to see a woman leading their party, it might give them more kudos (the Conservatives have had two female PM's, so why don't Labour have a female leader?). I suggest that either the fragrant Jess Phillips, Angela Rayner, or even Rebecca Long-Bailey might well be in line for the job. 

Some still talk of Labour as being the party of 'The Working Man', but let me explain something; it's a strong economy those 'working men' need, not Labour. You only get growth and high employment with the Conservatives. Labour have NEVER left a term in office without an increase in unemployment; hardly pro those 'working men'.

One doesn't wish to gloat over Labour's demise, but it's their crazy policies! No-one wants a government that would wreck the economy; like the last time they were in power. Those days are over; it's time to think again.

The Labour Parliamentary Party will need to 'pretend' that they believe in more sensible policies, and maybe even start agreeing with the Tories; only that way will they stand any chance of regaining power.

Michael Foot's election manifesto of 1983 was called 'The longest suicide note in history'..... nothing much has changed. 

Saturday 8 May 2021


Builders seem to be everywhere at the moment; even chez nous.

We're having the exterior weather-boarding replaced at the barn. The old wood was tired, split, and brittle, and had served its purpose. I think the barn was built in 1976, so it's lasted quite well.

Our builder has only just started (the brown area, bottom left), and I shall show more as he advances. 

It's a slow business, but our man is a perfectionist; and that's how we like it. This morning it looks like this (below).

For the moment he has just taken off all the old wood from the East facing façade (the entrance), revealing all my insulation from when I built the interior walls. On the other side of the silver stuff is about 15 cms of Rock Wool behind the brick and plaster. It's extremely well insulated.

There's a lot to do; it's a big building. When done, the work will be almost finished. There is still one bathroom that needs attention, plus a small room, and a few doors.

Maybe all will be done before the end of the year. I do hope so. Maybe we will then be able to relax.

Friday 7 May 2021

People I would like to thank.

Mr Marmite: Thank you for your product, it has enlivened my morning toast for over 70 years.

Santa Claus: What can I say. You made my childhood wonderful, and you are still doing the same today.

Dairy Farmers: What would life have been like without Cheese, Yoghurt, and Milk for my cuppa.

Nicolaus Otto: Thank you for your 1876 invention of the Internal Combustion Engine. Having my first car changed my life completely, and driving still allows me the freedom to live 'out of town'.

Henri Matisse, Kitaj, Derain, et al: The pleasure these and so many other painters have given me is immeasurable.

Vignerons worldwide: A noble profession. Without wine at our tables, our lives would be so dull!

Poultry Farmers, Shepherds, Pig Farmers. and Cereal Growers: Bread, Toast, Eggs, Bacon, Shepherd's Pie, Roast Lamb. Need I say more?

Ted Heath (reluctantly): Ted oversaw the UK's entry into 'The Common Market' in 1973, allowing me to live unhindered in France for the past 47 years. All that has now sadly come to an end.

Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli: Certain music grabs you from the very first second you hear it. These two did just that.

Yeats, Woodhouse, Waugh, S Gibbons, Hardy, et al: I'm not a huge reader, but I'm rarely without a book on the go. So, thanks to all those who've written my favourites.

Logie Baird, Marconi, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, and maybe Jeff Bezos: Some of the greatest inventors and innovators of all time. Without them you wouldn't be reading this, and I wouldn't have my laptop on which I'm writing it.

The Abbey, King's, and the West Surrey College of Art and Design: They moulded me, and made me what I am today.

And finally, my Family: Thank you for putting-up with me.

Thursday 6 May 2021

It's all in the Name.

Back in the UK, we are often encouraged to buy Georgian style light switches, Regency style kettles, or Victorian style TV's. Why not a Medieval style Smart-Phone?

I have heard of a Scottish railway Co that boasts a 'Jacobean Steam-Train', and I've even seen an advert for a 'Tudor style' electric door bell; what on earth was that?

Some avoid all this nonsense by referring to 'Heirloom style', or 'English Country style'.

But it does become a little far-fetched when an American home, for sale, was described as 'Queen Anne Tudor style'.

Our own small 1960's Brighton mews type house (above), was, of course, sold as 'Georgian style', simply because they had added a faux-Georgian portico and bay window to the façade. Otherwise there's not a scrap of Georgian about it.

Are the 'Trades Descriptions' chappies not concerned about such things?

Wednesday 5 May 2021

One Man went to Mow...

I do like it when everywhere is mowed; it makes the scruffy bits look as if they're supposed to look like that!

I've got my mowing patterns pretty well organised. I never do all at once, I take it a third at a time. Each of the three sections takes about 30 mins, so provided that the weather is good (and the grass dry) I can take my time and enjoy the ride.

I'm growing all my Tomatoes in pots this year (below). They are filled with a combination of horse manure, compost, and mole hill soil. I have just 7 plants, 3 Supersteak, 3 Coeur de Boeuf, and just one round red Cherry Tomato.

If I don't get a good crop; I'll spit nails.

Down at Haddock's things are going well. I'm managing to keep the weeds under control, and our first Strawberries, and Artichokes are almost ready for eating.

In the foreground there are Strawberries, Red Onions, Aubergines, and Peppers. All are looking good. In the background there are 5 Courgettes that I'd just planted out; I've given them plenty of space.

Still to go in are all our Winter Greens; Swiss Chard, and Cavolo Nero. These are still in the seed bed, and need another week or so.

All we need now is some proper rain! It's raining this morning.

Tuesday 4 May 2021

Imagine our surprise!

We don't expect old friends to suddenly appear on TV, but on Sunday night (May 2nd) one did.

The daughter of our old friends Gray and Tineke appeared on a World War 2 edition of the BBC's Antiques Roadshow, with a few treasured souvenirs from her mother's time in a Japanese prison camp.

Tineke never really spoke about her time as a prisoner. I knew that she'd been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and that she'd been very badly treated, but I never asked for details.

I now learn from the programme, that she'd been in Indonesia with her parents, and that after the fall of Singapore, the Japanese came and took them away. They entered her home whilst they were having dinner, and ordered them to 'pack a bag'. It was as simple as that.

Tineke had just had a new dress made, and refused to leave it behind. She stuffed it into a sleeping bag, and somehow it survived. The other remarkable souvenir is a patchwork made in the camp by her friends as a birthday present. Both are in the photo above. Tineke left the camp weighing 3.5 Stones.

Tineke was a lovely person; and I remember her daughter very well. It was so good to see her again after so many years.

What a wonderful surprise. 


Monday 3 May 2021


When Lady Magnon recently needed to send flowers, rather than buy a cheap bunch at the nearest petrol station, she bought a variety of cut flowers, plus a couple of potted plants to cut and add, in order to create her own unique 'bouquet'.

This above is all that's left over. Not only are they stunningly beautiful, but they also have a very pronounced perfume. They are currently living in the Kitchen, which now smells like a florist's boudoir.

I like all Lilies, but this one is superb. I've noticed that at the base of the cut stems, there is already some small growth appearing. If anyone has any advice about how we could keep them to flower again next year, I'd be most grateful.

Could they be planted out even?


Sunday 2 May 2021

Life can be cruel; especially in the country.


I can't remember the year, but I can remember the circumstances perfectly.

It must have been about 25 years ago, I could hear horrible 'screeching' sounds coming from a field about 300 metres away. I'd imagined it was a Buzzard in difficulty, but when I went to investigate I found a Roe Deer lying on the ground, and in pain. I imagine the poor animal had been shot, but not accurately enough to kill. It had escaped only to end-up unable to walk, and in obvious discomfort.

I returned to the house, put my small handgun and two bullets in my pocket, and returned to deal with the poor creature. First I apologised to him for what I was about to do, explained to him that it was for the best, and put him out of his misery. Not a pleasant experience.

On another occasion I found a Badger hanging from a wire snare half way up a steep nearby bank. In its attempt to escape, it had scratched away at all the earth around it, making its escape even less possible. Badgers are vicious beasts, and although I am very fond of them, there was no way I could liberate him; he was in a bad way. Again I returned home, fetched my 'priest', and disposed of him.

Yesterday, we (Billy) found an injured young Roe Deer. It looked as if it may have been hit by a car, and was having difficulty walking. Each time I stroked it, it screamed in that piercing dog-like barking voice of theirs. After a while I managed to get it up on its feet, and it slowly walked away. It didn't look too good.

I went with Billy to see if it was still there this morning; it wasn't. So, either it has regained some strength, or it has died. We'll never know.

Beatrix Potter would have us believe that all wild animals die in a comfortable subterranean home, in the warmth of a quilt covered bed, surrounded by weeping young offspring, but of course this isn't the case. Most animals die of disease, wounds from fights, or by being killed by bigger animals. Old Foxes killed by a pack of hounds were often far luckier than those who were died in the wild (but don't tell the anti-hunt folk that).

What goes on deep in the woods is not always as described in Fairy Stories; occasionally it's pretty dire.

Saturday 1 May 2021

Filthy Lucre. Dosh. Bread-n-Honey.

It has never interested me what other people are 'worth'; I'm much more interested in their talents, actions, or opinions. 

However, it did interest me recently to read that the average Brit' (?) is worth £172,000, which I imagine is based on property prices. 

I also read that 9% of Brits have no savings at all, a third of Brits have less than £600, and yet the average Brit' (whoever these average people are?) has savings of £6,757 (Building Societies, Banks, etc).

Low income families apparently have average savings of £95, and high income families of £62,885.

I do find these types of statistics a little puzzling. Who these 'average' people are, I'm not sure.

It is said that an economist/statistician is someone who believes that if you have one foot in boiling water, and the other in a bucket of ice, you should feel perfectly comfortable.

Still, I suppose that someone needs these figures, and someone has to produce them. Whether we're interested in them or not is another question. I'm hardly going to walk down the street wondering if the people around me have average savings of £6,757. Or perhaps now I will.

7 Generations of Male Magnons, past and present (repeat).

I'm re-posting this from Dec' 2019, simply because, once again, I saw my Great Grandfather's face looking back at me from my mirror, whilst I was recently combing my lack of hair. If we met in the street, I think he might recognise me as his Great Grandson.

Great Grandfather Magnon.

Grandfather Magnon.

My father.

Cro (the first scruffy Magnon).

'Kimbo' Magnon (No 1 son).

Harvey J and Ollie Magnon (London grandsons; now very grown-up). 

And finally, little Mischa, the most recent Magnon (The Cherub). The gent' in the top photo, with the big bushy beard, is his great great great grandfather! I have a feeling that they would have got on just fine!

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