Wednesday, 30 June 2021
Just like Christmas.
Tuesday, 29 June 2021
Monday, 28 June 2021
Sunday, 27 June 2021
Count Arthur Strong: Flying Lesson
Saturday, 26 June 2021
Friday, 25 June 2021
A Wise Doctor
Pretending to be a priest is another favourite, as well as ambulance driver, policeman, or teacher. Usually such choices are based on the 'power and respect' shown to the chosen profession. Very rarely, if ever, would anyone pretend to be a road sweeper or dustman.
Thursday, 24 June 2021
Wednesday, 23 June 2021
What makes good cuisine?
It is often claimed that great cuisine comes from times of hardship; people worked hard to make the best of what little they had, and as a result classic dishes were created.
In his book 'A Gentleman in Moscow', Amor Towles writes 'In a period of abundance, any half-wit with a spoon can please a palate. To truly test a chef's ingenuity, one must instead look to a period of want, and what provides better than war'. One wouldn't wish war on anyone, but in terms of cuisine, it had its rewards.
From what I've heard of Russian cooking, they were not the most inventive people; unlike the Italians or French. With flour, water, and a Tomato, the Italians could make a delicious meal; the Russians just 'boiled'. My late Father-in-Law spent several years in Moscow, and only ever ate well at foreign embassies, delegations, etc.
When I first arrived to live in France, in 1972, I was often amazed by the pure skill of local farmer's wives. They produced the most spectacular 'banquets' with whatever grew on the farm. Of course, in those days they still had Pigs, Hens, Ducks, Geese, Vines, large Veg' gardens, plenty of fruit, and the passed-down knowledge of how to turn everything into the most delicious meals imaginable. I can remember well being amazed by my lovely next-door neighbour's Confit de Canard and her Hams and Pâtés. I had never tasted such delicacies. She took such care to make everything perfect. Mostly, these skills have now disappeared; the Supermarkets have made sure of that.
The combination of Peasant Farming, and Poverty, is responsible for some of the world's classic dishes, but with the rise of moped-delivered fast foods, I suspect that (unless something drastic happens) we have seen an end to poverty-based gastronomy. The world will be a lesser place as a result.
RIP Madame D; one of the last of an era. She taught me so much, I can't thank her enough. She would NEVER have presented me a dish either topped with 'foam', or sprinkled with micro-herbs.
Tuesday, 22 June 2021
Monday, 21 June 2021
Sunday, 20 June 2021
Saturday, 19 June 2021
Think yourself lucky.
Friday, 18 June 2021
More 20 Likes.
Seeing as I updated my 20 dislikes yesterday, I thought I'd better do the same with my likes.
Thursday, 17 June 2021
More 20 Dislikes.
I was doodling in my notepad yesterday evening, trying to think of all the things I really dislike more than pink shorts. I'd written a reasonable list, when I remembered having written something similar about 6 years previously.
I searched back through my old blogs, and eventually found it. It was interesting to compare the two lists. Basically they were much the same, but there were a few notable differences. In my old list I'd included The colour Orange, ISIS, cold weather, and Jeremy Corbyn & Co. These have now been replaced.
In no particular order (other than my hated No 1), here is my short list of major dislikes.
5. Virtue Signalling/Woke-ism
7. Angelica; the green bits one occasionally finds in cakes, etc
8. Bread and Butter Pudding
9. Extremes in politics; both left and right
10. Misguided urban 'do-gooder' movements
11. Being expected to give a tip to people who don't deserve them
12. Clothes/Shoes buying
13. Cars/Machines that won't start
14. Wine that tastes like Vinegar
16. Frogspawn (the dessert, of school lunches fame)
17. Lack of Punctuality
19. Inconsiderate neighbours
20. Those awful paintings of wide-eyed Parisian street urchins (Yuk)
Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Tuesday, 15 June 2021
When I bought my original farmhouse here in France, it came with just over 2 acres of good mostly level land, plus a small plantation of Sweet Chestnuts; about 20 very-mature trees.
Dealing with the Chestnuts in Autumn was simply hard graft, tedious nightly sorting into 'large and small', and hazardous selling. The merchants, of course, always tried to knock down the price..... I learnt the hard way.
One of the first actual grown crops that I attempted was Gherkins. These are the small undeveloped fruits of the 'Ridge Cucumber', that are picked when between 2-3 inches long. They were an easy crop to grow, and the merchants came to the house every other day to collect them. I suppose we sold between 5 and 10 kilos at each occasion. They grew like crazy, and required constant picking.
I soon fancied myself as a proper farmer, and decided that I needed to grow a pukka 'agricultural crop' on my land. My first attempt at 'agriculture' was Maize; one of the easiest crops to grow.
I borrowed my neighbour's small Massey Ferguson 35 tractor, and was given a five minute lesson on ploughing. I must say that my effort was pretty good, and when later rotovated, the field looked as good as anyone's. My crop did well, but on account of my reluctance to spray with herbicides, the final harvested crop came with a lot of unwanted seeds, and went to feeding our, and a friend's, Hens.
The following year I had a go at Wheat. Again I ploughed and harrowed, then hand broadcast the seed in old fashioned style (as in Millet's painting above). In my area, it was normal for growers to exchange their Wheat crop with local bakers for bread. Unfortunately my crop was again full of unwanted wild seeds, and the baker turned it down. Again it was used as Chicken feed; most of the crop being sold to a local organic farmer, who didn't mind a bit of grass seed amongst the grains.
After my second attempt at playing Jolly Farmers, I decided to quit, and I devoted my land to the much easier production of hay, which I was happy to give to my neighbour.
I left farming to the professionals.
Monday, 14 June 2021
So, well done Kimbo. 58 is a pretty good knock;.... one to be proud of!
N.B. He did point out to me that his score was higher than any of the England players v NZ over the weekend; so maybe there'll be an opening for a new England player?
Well done darling! Papa xx
Sunday, 13 June 2021
Never a dull moment.
Saturday, 12 June 2021
Friday, 11 June 2021
More Macron Malarkey.
On January 1st 2022, Emmanuel Macron will take over the Presidency of the EU for a 'rotational' six month term in office.
He has announced that his first action will be to change the official language of the EU from the current dreaded English, to French. It's good to know where his priorities lie.
This was attempted once before by Jacques Toubon. Known as the 'Loi Toubon' it was designed to insist that French was used whenever possible (in France). Toubon himself instantly became known as Jack Allgood, and the use of English throughout France seemed to increase dramatically.
People will always veer towards a language that works best in whatever situation. If the use of the word 'Cornflakes' sells your product better than Flocons de Maize, then that is what you will use.
We were amused recently, when stopped at a temporary traffic light, to see that the car in front of us was a Citroen 'Cottage'. Good luck to Macron if he tries to stop future Citroen cars being named 'Bungalow', or 'Apartment over the Chip Shop', etc.
English is the language of Diplomacy, the Air, and the Sea. It is also the world's preferred second language. We all know Dutch, or Danish, or Swedish people who speak English better than most English natives; and they are very proud to do so.
Today, English is still the world's most spoken language. There are 1 Billion, 348 Million speakers of English as a first language; of French there are just 267 Million.
If 'Teacher's Pet' Macron thinks he's going the change all that; then good luck to him.
Thursday, 10 June 2021
Oradour-sur-Glane, et al.
Oradour is back in the news again, via a recent book on the subject; 'Silent Village' by Robert Pike.
I imagine that most people know the appalling story of Oradour-sur-Glane; a village about 2 hrs to the North of where I live.
Exactly 77 years ago on the 10th of June 1944, soldiers entered the town of Oradour-sur-Glane, ordered all the inhabitants to gather in the village square, then separated the men from the women and children.
The men were all 'machine-gunned', and the women and children forced into the church, and burned alive. The soldiers left the village with not a single building unscathed. All 642 innocent villagers were brutally murdered, and the buildings, etc, in respect, have hardly been touched since (see Wiki). The village apparently had had no resistance workers (Maquis).
It was the Brits who, later joined by the Americans, saved Europe from this type of barbarism, the Concentration Camps, and from semi-compliant occupation. The UK lost 450,000 citizens whilst assuring France's liberty, so one might have imagined that the French would be a tad grateful!
Charles de Gaulle ran from France, and spent much of WW2 safely within the walls of a pleasant home in Hertfordshire, England. Those of us later seeing those photos of him proudly leading his men down the Champs-Elysées on August 24th 1944 (above) to celebrate the end of German occupation, are 'slightly bemused'; to say the least.
Back in France, on July 4th of 1940, de Gaulle was tried as a 'deserter' and was sentenced to 4 years in prison, in absentia, and his French nationality was withdrawn. Then on August 2nd 1940 he was again tried, and was awarded the death penalty, as well as military degradation, his loss of nationality, and the confiscation of all his property. Four years later he amazingly returned to France as a 'General', and was treated as a hero.
The blood of our ancestors remains on French soil, but now that we've left their expensive and inefficient European club, they wish to ignore all that, and are doing their best to punish us.
The French will never forget Oradour. RIP.
Wednesday, 9 June 2021
The Bear Necessities.
Tuesday, 8 June 2021
Neither a lender nor a borrower be.
I cannot count the amount of times I've lent books, records, objects, and even DIY tools, to 'friends' who have never returned them.
I used to keep a small 'who had what' book, to remind myself of where things were, but I felt rather mean-spirited, and decided to be more trusting; that trust has not been reciprocated.
Some of the books I've lost were real favourites that I'd stupidly recommended to a borrower; very annoying. Several old records, even though I no longer have a machine on which to play them, have never been returned. I once even lent a whole portfolio of drawings to someone for her interview at The Slade. She was accepted; I never got my drawings back! I could go on.
I once sold a Richard Hamilton print (Adonis in Y Fronts) to a 'friend'. I was never paid. That print is now worth around £25,000. But that had nothing to do with 'lending'.
Some while back we reluctantly lent an extra-large old hand made Union Flag to someone; at the same time as 'giving' them some modern Union Flag Bunting, which we were happy to do. The large flag, however, was an heirloom, it had been in my family for yonks and I treasured it; the person involved was told that I wanted it back. When Lady M asked if it could be returned, she was insulted, and told 'not to always blame others'; whatever that was supposed to mean!
It's a petty matter, and we've now accepted that the person involved will always be this way; and my treasured flag has gone for ever. When certain people know they're in the wrong, they instantly revert to lies and insults; it seems to work!
I'm now very wary about lending anything to anyone; which rather saddens me. Having always been kind to people, it has been their dishonesty which now makes me feel the way I do.
Polonius was right.
Monday, 7 June 2021
Lady, lady, quite contray-ree.
how does your garden grow?
With Salad plants, and Angels' chants,
And lots of bloody weeds all in a bloody row.
Lady Magnon is fed-up with my lack of Salad production at Haddock's. I tend not to grow them because they all mature at once, and most are wasted. So, she's decided to grow her own.
She's found a vacant plot, sown a mix of red and green salads, and it won't be long before we start to harvest them. This is her first attempt at Salads, and she's rightfully very proud of herself.
We shall start eating them next week. Well done m'dear.
Sunday, 6 June 2021
The Aperitif of France.
Saturday, 5 June 2021
Friday, 4 June 2021
Thursday, 3 June 2021
Little and Large.
Wednesday, 2 June 2021
My late mother had a quiver-full of wise observations that she would drop into conversation unexpectedly. Quite why I remember some of them, I really don't know. This one was a classic....
"You can always tell a drug addict by his dirty finger nails"
On the wisdom of going to a particular cinema on the South Coast, she told me....
"If you go in there, you'll catch Foot and Mouth disease"
Some of her wisdom was quite sound....
"Never do anything that you would later be ashamed of"
Or when I was very small....
"Never do anything you wouldn't do in front of Jesus" (she wasn't religious, but I expect she thought this a more powerful message)
Her most common advice was....
"If you can't be easy, be as easy as you can" (I like this one)
And her most optimistic advice, although I'm not sure it's correct, was....
"Everything happens for the best".
What wise advice did your mother give to you?
Tuesday, 1 June 2021
On mainland France, there have been no cases of Rabies since 1924. The last person to die of Rabies in France was a 10 year old boy who had been bitten by a dog in Sri Lanka; not here.
The UK has been Rabies free since about 1900.
So why am I having to subject poor Billy to a Rabies jab?
For a dog (even Billy) to enter the UK from France, he has to be chipped, have his Rabies jab at least 21 days before travel, have his own passport, and have been given a Tapeworm pill between 1 and 5 days before travel.
We are having him vaccinated now (above, yesterday afternoon) because he needs to be tested afterwards to see if the antibodies are there. If not, it will have to be re-done. This makes sure he is 'protected' well in time.
Seeing that any risk of Rabies is even less than 'minimal', I really find the whole procedure a total waste of time and money; not to mention the stress put onto the dog.
I am perfectly aware that Rabies is a very nasty, often fatal, disease; but seeing that there is no discernible chance of a dog either carrying it, or catching it, either in France or England, I think it's about time someone reassessed these outdated travel regulations.
I'm pleased to say the Billy didn't try to bite the Vet', nor did he piss all over the floor; he was as good as gold. He also now has a nice new French passport.