Saturday 31 July 2021

Unnecessary things on my desk.

I don't collect rubbish; it simply accumulates.

I have just noticed these few things that, over the past few weeks, have managed to become part of my everyday life. They look at me, and I look back at them. I leave them where they are for fear of upsetting some natural evolution of random objects. 

They include a roll of that thin plastic stuff that plumbers use, a large metal washer (that arrived yesterday, thanks to Lady M), three elastic bands, a black plastic paper clip, a small metal washer, a wire tie that secured the battery recharger wire for my new camera, a ball of cheap string, a long thin screw, an ancient piece of green glazed pot from the garden, and a plant tag.

The only one of these that I actually use is the string; with which I tie my Tomato plants.

Also on the desk are my beret (not worn in Summer), two Bluetooth speakers, three cameras, a box of coloured felt-tip pens, my thesaurus, calculator, address book, and lots of used pages torn from my notebook.

I also have a large mug which contains all sorts of essentials, including four penknives, a pair of scissors, an online banking security number pad, a 2B pencil, a torch, and a miniature antique 'level'.

I almost forgot. There is also an unpleasant blue plastic fly swat. Essential in Summer.

Friday 30 July 2021


Landscape Architect, Sarah Ewbank, has recently shown pictures (below) of how she imagines Stonehenge might once have looked. She pictures a wooden roof structure resting on the stone pillars, which might then have been covered in thatch.

All sorts of theories about Stonehenge have been put forward over the centuries, but her idea that it was simply a large meeting house is one of the more sensible. Its uses could have been various; a parliament, court, temple, crematorium, show ground, wedding centre, or general meeting house. Who knows! 

Ms Ewbank claims that academics refuse to discuss her theory, and that doesn't surprise me.  Complex 'astronomical calculator' theories are far more the realm of Oxbridge professors. Those who had worked hard for their MA's or PhD's would never admit that it had simply been an early version of London's Greenwich O2 arena. 

Occasionally life IS simple, and as hard as one might try to look for complex answers to simple questions, it's always best to investigate all aspects, from the very basic to the most compounded. One should always ask 'What would those people, all those years ago, really have wanted, or needed?'.

I have a funny feeling that Ms Ewbank is right. Some of the more 'scientific' or 'mumbo-jumbo' theories really are far-fetched.

Stonehenge is estimated to have been built around 5,000 years ago. This possibly similar structure, (below), in my nearby village, was built in 1270. Stone supports, wooden roof structure, tiles instead of thatch, and used for all purposes. It does sound very similar.

There are, of course, plenty of unanswered questions about Stonehenge, but I'm sure Ms Ewbank has many of them right.


Thursday 29 July 2021

Genius or Gibberish?

I have only read snippets of Gertrude Stein. Her work is not easy to read, and it is claimed that her exceptionally long major opus 'The Making of Americans' has only been read cover-to-cover by about half a dozen people.

Stein's popularity, like the length of women's skirts, rises and falls in phases. At present she's probably not over popular.

The one piece of work that always fascinated me was her libretto to Virgil Thomson's 1928 opera 'Four Saints in Three Acts'. A pure Dada, possibly Bauhaus influenced, stream of consciousness work, that accompanied Thomson's music, rather than enhanced it.

I can't remember when or where I first encountered this particular 'poem'; maybe at Art College, or more likely through the ICA (of which I was a member in the late 60's, when Concrete Poetry was at its most popular).

Anyway, here below is the most well known aria (poem), which appealed to me all those years ago. What I see in it now is another question!

Pigeons on the grass alas

Pigeons on the grass alas. Short longer grass short longer longer shorter yellow grass. Pigeons large pigeons on the shorter longer yellow grass alas pigeons on the grass.

If they were not pigeons what were they

If they were not pigeons on the grass alas what were they. He had heard of a third and he asked about it it was a magpie in the sky

If a magpie in the sky on the sky cannot cry if the pigeon on the grass alas can alas and to pass the pigeon on the grass alas and the magpie in the sky on the sky and to try alas on the grass alas the pigeon on the grass the pigeon on the grass and alas

They might be very well they might be very well very well they might be

Let Lucy Lily Lily Lucy Lucy let Lucy Lucy Lily Lily Lily Lily Lily let Lily Lucy Lucy let Lily. Let Lucy Lily

(me) I hope I've managed to type all that correctly. Enjoy (if you can).

Wednesday 28 July 2021

Best Days of your Life.

Of course one's school days bring back great memories, but I would suggest that for most people the title above relates more to their University/College days.

I'd spent four years living in London before I decided to go to College. I'd met loads of interesting people, and a few nasty ones, in London, but it was at College where I met those who were to become my lifelong friends; and one even became my 'spouse'.

One of my best friends was T (below sparring with Cro in college days), who, back in 2001, moved to this area, then later to a nearby barn conversion in our tiny hamlet, after a life designing futuristic buildings in Dubai.

Poor T eventually became quite ill, and returned to England. Here he is (below) at his new home in Surrey, still wearing his favourite flat cap, working on collages in his model-car bedecked studio.

We met on our Foundation Course, and, along with another friend P, formed a trio of really good mates. We were all three very similar in many ways, we came from the same type of backgrounds, had received the same type of schooling, and had left our entry to Art College until we'd gained some knowledge of life post-school. Most of the student's were straight out of kindergarten, and seemed to us as if they were still wearing Pampers. 

We (of course) planned to rule the world in our own particular disciplines.

After that year, we all went off in different directions to do our degree courses, and rather lost contact. We sent Christmas greetings, very occasionally met up, but by being spread out around the world, it wasn't easy to remain close. It was therefore very exciting when T showed interest in coming to live here; eventually about 300 metres away! Sadly his illness soon overcame him.

P became the senior partner in his own London Graphic Design Co, T designed some of Dubia's most iconic buildings, and Cro painted pictures and grew vegetables in S W France.

Tuesday 27 July 2021


Once again we have a field of Sunflowers in front of the house. What could be more Summery than big waving heads of sunshine, far into the distance.

The heads are swelling, and the plants are looking past their best, it probably won't be long before they are ready to be harvested.

Years ago we used to think of Van Gogh or Provence as being intrinsically linked with Sunflowers, but now, with Global Warming, they seem to be grown everywhere. 

At local markets we see women leaving with arms-full of Sunflowers to decorate their homes. They are a very welcoming flower in the house.

There was an era (post Peter Mayle) when Sunflowers were on mugs, tablecloths, teapots, towels, and T Shirts; in fact on almost anything. Those days have now gone, but the Sunflower remains an important symbol of Summer. 

At holiday second-homes, where ladies' straw hats and long diaphanous dresses are de rigueur, there will always be huge vases filled with freshly cut Sunflowers; they are as important as the chilled glass of Rosé. 

Monday 26 July 2021

How was your Saturday evening?

Regardless of the time of day, the heat, or the inconvenience, Billy always wants to play 'Fetch the Ball'.

He can start early in the morning, and still wants to play well into the evening. Saturdays are no different for Billy than any other day of the week.

It's still hot, about 31 C. We sit in the shade of our au vent with a pre-dinner glass of wine and maybe a stuffed olive or two. We discuss the day's events, both here and elsewhere. 

Meanwhile over in London, people are protesting. They insist that they should be allowed to catch Covid-19 (and/or any of its variants); and are doing their best to do so.

Piers Corbyn was there, David Icke was there, and even dear Katie Hopkins was there, a more typical trio of anti-vaxxers would be hard to find.

If they were in France and they caught the virus, as non double-vaxxers they would be refused hospital admission!

And look (below), the grapes hanging on the front of the au vent are just beginning to ripen! They will soon all go to the compost, after some juice has been made.

Sunday 25 July 2021

Favourite Restaurant.

My nearby town has four restaurants. One is quite 'high-end', and serves local specialities. One is rather 'nouvelle cuisine', and is not really my cup of tea. Another tries very hard, but relies on 'water bath' cooking; I once ordered a Lamb knuckle dish there and was told it would take 20 minutes, a real give-away that some bag would be re-heated in a water bath. I want my food to be cooked in the restaurant kitchen, not coming from some boil-in-the-bag food-producing factory in Paris!

But the one we go to regularly serves just really well cooked, good quality, dishes; and the staff are all nice.

That was our table, bottom right below.

The restaurant's location is pretty spectacular too. It is situated under the covered arched walkway of the original 1270 bastide town, which surrounds the main square. 

Looking out from the restaurant, on the other side of the square, is the ancient Halle, which is used as market place, a weekly marché des producteurs, dance floor, and any other outdoor event that requires a roof. Keen-eyed car spotters might also notice the 'Compact Royce'.

We went this last week and had a spectacular meal. We are creatures of habit, and always eat and drink the same things. Entrecote steaks, chips, and salad, with a bottle of local Pécharmant.

Our steaks were simply stunning. Large, very tender, and delicious. Possible the best steak I've ever eaten. It makes me hungry even writing about it. If you are ever passing this way, I recommend it; it's called the 'Café de Commerce'; just say Cro sent you!


Saturday 24 July 2021


Lady Magnon is the Queen of Recycling in this house. She religiously cleans all the tins, bottles, and plastic yoghurt tubs, before putting them in their appropriate boxes, and taking them off to the recycling 'receptacles'.

She also recycles more everyday items, including birthday cards.

This is the fourth year running that I've received the one above, and I'm hoping it won't be the last.

Thank you m'dear!


Friday 23 July 2021

New Camera.

I've just had to replace my old, and well loved, Fujifilm AX280 camera. The centre of the lens had become blurred, and for some reason the SD Card wouldn't stay down in its position.

I'm not a Photo-Phreak, and have no desire for a £1,000 Nikon. The new €80 Chinese-made job (above), with no discernible maker's name on the body or instruction booklet, is all I need; and Amazon supplied within two days.

Considering that it cost a lot less than my week's shopping, it's a remarkable bit of kit. Small, light, and full of gizmos, it really is a miracle of modern technology. It takes very clear pictures, and combined with the laptop on which I'm writing, I can have a good quality photo anywhere in the world within seconds.

I expect most of us remember the days when we took our 35mm film to Boots, waited for a week or more, then threw away about 80% of the snaps that came back. What a difference to today's instant photography.

My Fuji had a more solid feeling (it had a metal casing), and all its actions felt crisper, but the new one is very light (plastic casing), has better quality pictures, and is re-chargeable from my laptop (no more AA batteries). All photos on this page will now be taken with it.

Thursday 22 July 2021

Villefranche du Périgord - Villages du Périgord

This is a very short film (with annoying music) about our nearby village/town. It doesn't show a lot, but does give some idea of the age of the buildings.

One of our favourite restaurants is beneath the hotel shown at 28 secs, it is situated on the other side of the road from the wonderful stone-pillared covered market place. I'm sure we'll be eating there quite often over the next couple of months. Eating in the shade of its beautiful exterior ancient arches is a delight; and the food's good too. The town was established in 1261.

Wednesday 21 July 2021


Yet again it's a strange Summer. No children making a racket in the pool, no inflatable Crocodiles left lying around, no clothes shoes or towels strewn on the lawn, and no constantly trying to find things for people to do to keep them busy. It is very quiet.

There are a few tourists about. The converted Pigsty next door has been regularly booked, the Metal Container homes have had one or two visitors, and some of the nearby Gites have just started their bookings. 

We see strangers wandering around the woodland footpaths, there are plenty of NL registered cars in the car parks, and we notice people sitting at bars wearing 'holiday clothes' and sunglasses.

For the moment the temperature is around 30 C, meaning that we may start taking post-lunch siestas before too long.

Talking of 'lunch' we try, as much as possible, to eat from Haddock's and the Orchard. Plenty of green vegs are now available, and Peaches are on the trees (above). My good friend J has offered us as many Tomatoes as we like (mine are hopeless again), and we shall go this evening to pick a few Beans. 

Our oldest nearby farming friends (the one's we've known for 47 years) are wonderful; they are generous, friendly, and always have time for a long chat. If only some of the newcomers were thus!

I like Summer; it's definitely MY season. I was born in July, so it's in the blood.

Tuesday 20 July 2021


I would suggest that the humble Apple is the National Fruit of England; the Bramley and the Cox being the two main favourites.

Where would we be without Apple pie, Apple turnovers, Apple sauce, or even baked Apples?

Pears and Plums come a close second in the popularity stakes, but, also as a very big Cider drinking country, it has to be the Apple at No 1.

One of the first things I did with both our own house, and the barn, was to plant fruit trees; mostly Apples. There is nothing nicer than walking through an orchard at the bottom of the garden, with the trees full of fruit. 

Back in the UK, at my people's home in Shropshire, they had a 44 tree orchard; mostly of very rare varieties. Sadly, the plonker I sold the house to had racehorses and a helicopter, and the first thing he did was to pull the whole bloody lot out!!!! I wouldn't have sold to him had I known his intentions.

Lady Magnon is a World Champion Tarte Tatin maker (well she would be if they held a competition), so the growing, preserving, and eating of Apples is quite important to us. We have 6 Apple trees, all of different varieties; from the tastiest to the bland. All have their uses, and I wouldn't wish to be without any single of them.

Paté 2021; the verdict.

I wasn't really intending to broach my January batch of Paté until we had family with us, but as this may not happen this year, I couldn't resist.

It contains more foie gras than my usual recipe, which doesn't really show in the photo.

It is very good, but with the same firm texture that all my Patés seem to have; I would like to make some with a more open 'spreadable' texture, but it eludes me. Flavour 10/10, texture 5/10.

I'm not equipped in Brighton for Paté making; and I don't suppose I could buy fresh foie gras anyway, so this could have been my last production for some while. Maybe we'll stay here anyway. 

This (below) was part of the production process in January, showing the ratio between Pork and foie gras.

Monday 19 July 2021

New Fr Covid-19 regulations.


Covid rules change as regularly as clockwork. Today in the UK (July 19th) they are relaxing the rules, whilst South of The Channel some are being strengthened.

Here, they are concentrating on those who are double-vaccinated, and those who are not.

Forget such trivialities as holiday destinations, or forced 10 day isolations, as from July 21st we will need to have proof of having been double-vaccinated in order to enter places of leisure, or any cultural gatherings where there will be more than 50 people.

And from the beginning of August the same rules will apply to Cafés, Restaurants, Shopping centres (does that mean the big supermarkets?), Planes, Trains, Busses, and HOSPITALS.

Anti-vaxxers will not be happy, they will hardly be able to move from their homes. And as for getting ill; no point even thinking of turning-up at hospital without your 'Passport Vaccinal' proof of having been vaxxed. 

Some might think that this is a direct attack against the anti-vaxxer community, and I think they'd be right.

Of course, last Saturday, demonstrations were seen all over France as the muesli-knitting, non-masked, anti-vaxxers made their feelings known, whilst (presumably) doing a good job of spreading the virus amongst themselves. I'm pleased to say that they were, at least, very peaceful.

We are, of course, both double-vaccinated. Lady Magnon has her proof on our phone, whilst mine (being an old codger) is on a piece of paper! 

Sunday 18 July 2021

Old Photos

I've been going through some bags of old photos, and came across these few. However, I couldn't find the ones I was looking for. Maybe I've posted these before; I don't remember.

This elegant man (below) is me, not long after I'd bought my first old Farmhouse in France. I was 25, footloose and fancy free; and as dapper as ever! I haven't changed.

Below is my father with his older brother. Rather than my uncle looking-out for his younger brother, it was always my father who saw to the welfare of his older brother; who was a bit of a playboy. I think one can almost see, from the photo, how it would pan-out.

And this is my mother in what today would be considered a somewhat non-PC photo. In days gone by it was perfectly normal to have one's photo taken with a Chimp' or a Lion cub. Not so today.

I love this picture; smart suit, jaunty hat, leather gloves, and a Chimp'..... she was so taken by the Chimp', that she later had me!..... TROUBLE.

Saturday 17 July 2021

France: Protesters clash with police in Bastille Day rally against new health regulations.

July 14th was Bastille Day; France's national holiday, which commemorates the storming of The Bastille in 1789, and the end of monarchy.

This year it was celebrated (in traditional style) by some half-hearted dustbin upturning, litter distribution, and general poor quality rioting. They claimed it was against the new regulations concerning certification of vaccination, but any excuse will suffice.

 As from July 21st proof of full double vaccination will be required for entry to places of leisure, and cultural gatherings of more than 50 participants. From the beginning of August similar proof of vaccination will be required to enter Cafés, Restaurants, Shopping Centres, Planes, Trains, Busses, or other places of Mass Gathering.

It is interesting to note, in the video, that many of the 'rioting' anti-vaxxers, seem to be wearing masks. However, I suspect that their mask-wearing has more to do with making themselves unrecognisable, rather than keeping themselves or others, safe from Covid-19.

Friday 16 July 2021

Is this the end of the traditional British Picnic?


New long awaited legislation has just been announced about the carrying of knives, knuckle-dusters, machetes, etc. As of July 14th 2021, miscreants will now be liable up to 6 months in prison, or a fine, or both. 

Something certainly needed to be done about the drug gangs endlessly stabbing and killing each other on the streets of London. The BLM movement wants to stop the police powers of 'Stop and Search', as well as defunding the police. In reality, the police need to extend their powers of 'Stop and Search' (which I imagine they now will), and they also need increased funding. 

It is also in the new legislation that if knives listed in the prohibited list of weapons are found inside someone's home, the owners will be equally guilty as if found outdoors.

I, myself, keep a small No 8 Opinel in the car, I eat with a No 9 Opinel, and, at this time of year I usually have a No 8 (or a specific mushrooming knife) in my pocket. I'm not yet sure how this would be seen in the UK; I may be clapped in irons if caught.

I note that the man in the photo is holding a long knife (with which I imagine he sliced that melon), as from the 14th this is now a crime, and his picnic could cost him 6 months in the slammer. Woe is he!

Thursday 15 July 2021

Best of fruits.

Mid July is when the first of our Orchard fruits begin to mature, and in particular the Peaches.

What nicer fruit is there to pluck from a tree on a warm summer's day, than a ripe juicy Peach.

The tree above is Boo Boo's birthday tree; planted on the very day he was born. It is the best of our Peach trees, and on a good year (such as this) will provide a huge amount of perfect fruits.

The best, of course, is to eat them whilst passing by; grab one, take a huge bite, and allow the juice to trickle down one's chin. What better way is there to enjoy them.

We never do anything else with them other than to eat them as they come. I've looked online at 'things to do with peaches', but nothing really takes my fancy. 

Our only problem is trying to keep the wretched birds off them; they seem to enjoy them as much as we do!

Wednesday 14 July 2021

Getting away from it all.


There are so many reasons why someone should wish to 'get away from it all', but I suppose it was seeing all that hooliganism surrounding Sunday's Football match at Wembley that finally prompted our conversation about where we should escape to. A lot of humanity seems to be out of control, and we need tranquillity.

'Where' was our first concern. We considered most of the world, then eventually plumped for a small Caribbean island. It would need to have about 50 acres, one or two beautiful beaches, a natural safe harbour, and no nasty wildlife. 

We would not be going alone; this would be a collective move. With us would come a carpenter, a farmer, a fisherman, a nurse (with comprehensive first-aid kit), and maybe some sort of 'technician'. All would be experts in their fields, but more importantly they would need to be 'stable'; no hang-ups, phobias, or hidden angry spouses. It's those people that we'd be getting away from.

Ideally our island (called Arcadia Island) would have 'seasons'; nothing below about 10 C in Winter, and not too much above 30 C in Summer. It would be fertile, its surrounding waters filled with easily caught self-sacrificing fish and shellfish, and its interior rich in Wild Boar, Chickens, Goats, and Rabbits. It would also need a fresh water spring.

No electricity would be allowed on Arcadia Island, no radios or TVs, no newspapers or mobile phones, no religions or party politics. There will be no hand sanitiser, face masks, or social distancing; everyone would have been triple-checked for viruses.

No motorised transport of any sort would be allowed, just bicycles on shore, or rowing boats at sea. There will be no money, tokens, IOU's, debentures, or banks.

Even though our mantra would be 'Peace, Love, and Understanding', we would still need to be armed. Any takeover attempt of our island, by nasty, virus-bearing, anti-vaxxer, woke liberals, would be met by very long wooden poles to repel landing. The one thing we would not tolerate would be that which instigated our move.

Applications are now being invited. Name, address, and initial fee of £100k (towards expenses) must be lodged on this page before December 25th.

Tuesday 13 July 2021

The OTHER Tour de France.

If you are watching The Tour de France on TV, you will not be seeing what is a major part of every day's stage; the Caravane.

Before each days race goes by, there is a huge parade of publicity vehicles. These represent everything from Sweet manufacturers, to Olive oil makers, Insurance Co's, Car makers, and almost everything else you could think of. As their publicity vehicles go by, they throw out free samples of their wares to the roadside public. You come home with so many hats, key rings, and assorted sachets, that you have plenty for years to come. It is Huge Fun.

Then, of course, the real purpose of the day arrives and it's all over in a flash as they speed by, and you return home with all your goodies. This video is a bit long, but it'll give you an idea of what goes on.  If you stand roadside, you see all the razzmatazz for anywhere between 30 and 60 minutes, then just a couple seconds of racing. If you watch on TV you can see the whole day's stage, but no razzmatazz. The choice is yours!

Monday 12 July 2021

Ron Manager: The Modern Game

Well done lads; you did your best.

Sunday 11 July 2021

Andrea Motis feat. by WDR BIG BAND - Brisa

My word; hasn't she grown!

Anyone who has followed the career of Andrea Motis, will probably remember her as being the 'child genius' under the tutorage of Joan Chamorro, and his Sant Andreu Jazz Band in Barcelona. 

The multi-talented Ms Motis is now 26, and goes from strength to strength. This is one of her own compositions called 'Brisa'. 

I don't know the WDR BIG BAND, but they contain some superb musicians.

Saturday 10 July 2021

Le Séchoir. Then and Now.

Back in 2010, we bought an old, extremely dilapidated, tobacco drying barn. It had an earth floor, asbestos roofing, and the dried dusty skeletal remains of numerous dead Rats, from it's previous post-tobacco days as a Goose rearing barn. Above are Wills and Kellogg thinking "What the hell have they bought?"

It was an interesting project, which has kept us busy on-n-off for quite some while. I took on most of the interior tasks myself; building walls, insulating, plastering, and doing all the design work. 

The roof has been replaced, the interior completely gutted and rebuilt, very eco-friendly solar heating systems etc installed, and now the exterior has also been completely re-boarded. We have just one more bathroom to finish, and a couple of doors to install.

The interior is simple, open-plan, fully-kitted, and comfortable. The outside is laid out as orchard (with Apples, Cherries, Peaches and Figs) and lawns. There are two very large, beautiful, Oak trees. The largest one being 'The Royal Oak, and the slightly smaller one being 'Dangerous Fun'.

It's taken 12 years of unhurried work to arrive at where we are. The transformation has been 'total', and the finished product has become a very comfortable and spacious home. I love it!

I must thank our village Charpentier, Olivier, who has just finished all the exterior cladding. Its warm mahogany colour is much admired, and the finish is perfect. What a change!

Friday 9 July 2021

Excited Jack Russells.

This is why I so often prefer dogs to humans. Enjoy!

Thursday 8 July 2021

Half-read books.

Weaver recently recounted that she'd only managed to read 350 pages of a 900 page novel. The book itself was heavy (uncomfortable to hold), and the print was small, requiring a magnifier. The book 'The Count of Monte Cristo' by Alexandre Dumas had been selected by her group 'book club'. I know exactly how she felt.

My own major problem, when reading, is with names; mostly Russian names.

I've always enjoyed the stark drama of the great Russian novels, and have attempted to read The Brothers Karamazov, War and Peace, Zhivago, Anna Karenina, Crime and Punishment, etc, but I always manage to get bogged-down by the names. I even used to make my own list of characters so that I could keep up with who was who, but even that failed. The novels I did manage to read through to the end probably skipped through many of the characters, simply because I couldn't be bothered.

Why I should be confused by Semyonov or Plotnikov, and not Rutherford or Braithwaite, I have no idea, but somewhere between my eye and my brain an uncontrollable confusion takes over.

I recently read a novel (about Russia, rather than by a Russian) which I found a total pleasure. Amor Towles uses his characters sparingly, and one can easily keep-up with who's who. I read the book almost like a book of short stories, picking it up for a few chapters at a time, and still the characters remained easily identifiable. 

Having received a 'visual education', one might have thought that I would see names much like pictures, but that doesn't happen. I see Russian names as 'a confusion of letters', often with far too many consonants.

This doesn't happen with other nationality names, only with Russians. 

Wednesday 7 July 2021

1st Tom.

At last, our first Tomato. We've been having such bad luck with our Toms in recent years; disease, drought, and disaster have meant we've produced almost nothing.

This year my plants are all in large pots, with Mole-hill soil, Horse manure, and home-made Compost to feed them. Even so the plants have not been perfect. At one point I thought I was going to lose them.

Since then, they've had a good dose of Copper Sulphate (the one chemical allowed with Bio growers), and careful control of their watering. 

I can't say my plants are perfect; the fruits are all now forming at the top of very tall, spindly, plants, but this doesn't really worry me as long as the fruits are developing OK. 

What a pleasure it is to have one's own Tomatoes again. The one above renewed my faith in home-grown.


Which Vaccine?

If you want to see why the EU is SO ANGRY with the Brits, just look at the chart below. The vaccine developed in Oxford by Prof Sarah Gilbert and Prof Andrew Pollard, is by far the world's most popular, and as far as I believe; effective!

The Vaccine they tried so hard to rubbish (Macron called it 'Quasi-ineffective'), is the most popular word-wide, and even the EU folk themselves are desperate to get hold of more. They even took A-Z to court over it; and LOST. 

As I have said previously; far better that the EU works WITH the UK, rather than AGAINST her, otherwise a lot of egg will be found on a lot of faces; and egg tends to stick!

Tuesday 6 July 2021



There is a sense of gaiety in the camaraderie of country folk. Collective effort creates bonds that otherwise would be absent. How many marriages have been initiated by the collective (mixed-sex) heaving of wheat sheaves, or the gathering of grapes. How many small farms have been expanded by the linking of families, and the joining of lands.

But, when the sharing of tasks is no longer there, and neighbours no longer pool their resources to bring in the crops, that feeling of community is lost, and people become insular. They no longer 'hammer-out' their problems; they discuss within families and their accusing fingers always point at others. Feuds can easily split close neighbours, and rivalry takes precedence over where once there was friendship.

The natural urge to help one's neighbours was what helped keep small rural communities together. X helped Y, then in turn Y helped X; it was always thus.

Life was like this 47 years ago when I first moved to my small village. As soon as the hay was baled we all met in the fields, and it was brought inside before nightfall; this could never have been done alone. When the grapes were ripe, we all arrived with our baskets, and without prompt, we got on with the job. Once the juice was all inside the huge oak vats, Madame Farmer provided a generous meal at the end of a hard day's work.

Since those days Tractors have taken over much of the work; where once the was a 'Pony' (top photo), now there is a monster (below). No man with a pitchfork can lift one of today's big round bales onto a trailer.

Tractors naturally increased in size, their costs became exorbitant, and hay is now cut and baled by machines that cost a fortune, rather than by a few neighbours who gathered to do the work amidst laughter and friendship. 

Many fields now remain dormant; occasionally being mowed by those huge tractors for the sake of tidiness. Who needs to grow crops, when they can be delivered from Spain at half the price?

Now I see once busy farmers wandering around their farms, with little to do but check that their 'Single Farm Payment' has arrived from Brussels. The huge tractors remain unused, but still need to be paid for. The more attractive farmhouses become holiday homes for rich Parisians, and the land used for ponies, golf courses, or simply for admiring. The camaraderie has all but gone.

The children of small farmers no longer wish to follow the plough, they were brought-up on a diet of Hollywood films, documentaries from exotic locations, and the promise of urban wealth and glamour. Why would they wish to remain at home and watch all around them deteriorate; big cities beckon, and the arrivals are mostly young, expectant, wide-eyed, country folk.

Life has dealt a serious blow to country people, and country practices. Young 'liberals' are now more likely to discuss the rights of trans-sexuals, than to care about where the wheat is grown for their burger bun. Our priorities seem to have become muddled, and life is no better for it.

I have just been watching my neighbour Claude, down in the valley, driving his long trailer to where his big round hay bales are, unlink the trailer, collect the bales with the two spikes on the front of his tractor, place them all carefully on the trailer, and drive back home again; all done alone. If he'd still had the much smaller rectangular bales, I'd have been down there at once. A very sad sight.

Monday 5 July 2021


We may still be swimming every day, but the weather here otherwise has been very erratic. Perfect for mushrooms.

I think it's been three years since we ate a fresh Cèpe, so to find a few 'edible' ones was a real pleasure. I'd found a few about a week ago, but they were old and rotten.

With both Girolles and a Cèpe in the fridge, I decided to make a mixed omelette. It's the best use for such things. Just add a couple of beaten eggs!

It is not exaggerating to say that mushrooms play a very important part in our local gastronomy. Without mushrooms and La Chasse, people would have nothing to do or talk about.

There are two main varieties of Cèpe; Boletus edulis and Boletus aereus. The latter having almost black caps, and are known as the Tête noire. They are regarded as slightly better in flavour. 

Yesterday we found a large group of Tête noire mushrooms beneath our large Oak tree (The Royal Oak). We have never found them there before, and were quite surprised; they are all now cooked and frozen for future omelettes. 

I have just returned from another sortie, and brought back another full bag of beautiful fresh young mushrooms. Like London buses, you wait for years then suddenly they all turn up at once!

Above: Left Boletus edulis. Right Boletus aereus.

The Cèpes in the top photo are Boletus edulis.



Just a few days ago, on, I believe, July 1st, three statues were toppled in Canada. One of Queen Victoria, another of Queen Elizabeth II, and a third of Captain James Cook.

Between 1860 and 1970, around 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and sent to boarding schools, in order to educate and assimilate. The scheme was run by both Christian Churches, and the Canadian government; nothing at all to do with UK royalty past or present, or even great navigators. About 600 of these children are thought to have died within these institutions; from what, I have no idea.

No-one would sanction such programmes these days, and there is general consensus that such institutions were ill-advised

There is a trend to topple statues at the moment; almost regardless of why or wherefore. Angry adolescents aim their venom at whatever 'authority' is to hand, rather than looking for the true culprits. 

In this particular case, why were Catholic/Protestant churches not targeted; or why were government buildings not daubed with paint? THEY were the guilty ones! The British monarchy is non-political.

No forces of order seemed to be in attendance whilst the vandalism took place.

I just hope that when these people achieve their aim of anarchy, that they find the result better than what they destroyed. Somehow I think that they'll create a system that is far less liberal, than that which allowed them to destroy.

A very sad day for the reputation of Canada, and even more so for those who wilfully destroyed the three beautiful statues. What on earth are those orange-clad children thinking?


Sunday 4 July 2021

Your Name? | A Bit Of Fry And Laurie

A bit of classic English comedy to help brighten your Sunday! 

Saturday 3 July 2021


The first proper parties I attended were in London in the mid-60's. They were often 'themed'; the most popular being 'Surf Parties', where we all wore surfing gear, carried surf boards, and listened to The Beach Boys. Even in Winter!

Then, predictably, came Art College parties. Lewd, hormonal affairs, where copious amounts of hair was let down.

Later, in the adult world, parties were usually linked to events. Birthdays, New Year, Celebrations of all sorts. These were probably amongst the best. Here are a youthful couple at my Brighton home (where did that picture suddenly appear from?), about to go to a Gangsters and Molls party. I had made the cardboard Tommy Gun and Cigar specially for the occasion. I think Lady M had mistaken our invitation for a Buck House Garden Party. 

My people used to hold good parties. Father being a 'pillar of society', was a very popular man, and his guest list usually involved all the good and the great from the immediate area. Black Sobranie cigarettes were offered (but rarely smoked), 'nibbles' were pierced by tooth-picks and handed around, and alcohol flowed freely. These gatherings often became lively, but I don't recall any drunkenness.

Here in France we have held some memorable parties, one or two of which are still recalled by attendees today; my 50th being a case in point where we roasted a whole Lamb, and fed a cast of thousands (probably about 100). Sadly those days have gone. Real characters are no longer around, and it just ain't the same.

We still talk of holding just one more extravaganza, but we would need Kimbo to be here to help, and, thanks to Matron Merkel & Co, I fear that is now out of the question. We shall probably hold a good bash in Brighton over Christmas (if we go); at least over there, there's never a shortage of interesting guests to chose from.


Friday 2 July 2021

To Mask, or not to Mask?

Government edicts change as regularly as our weather, but I hear today that Boris will lift the UK's obligation to wear Masks as from July 19th. So, will you be lifting your Mask?

For me, personally; probably not. I'm sure it does little to save me from any viral infection, but like wearing belt or braces, it gives one a certain feeling of security.

Masks, and Mask wearing, have become something of a fashion statement. From Rees-Mogg and his Union Flag Mask, to those who barely cover their chins, each has chosen either a style of Mask, or the style in which it is worn.

I am not a follower of fashion, nor am I a social climber, and I'm certainly not a noisy exhibitionist, so I stick with the plain, bog-standard, non-committal, 90 cents for 10, product from China (where else!), and I shall continue to wear these until such time as I feel 'safe' (mine are blue).

Should I return to England for the Winter, I will probably remove my Mask to breathe the sea's ozone-rich air, or, up on The Downs, to fill my lungs with the sweet Sussex breeze. But, in doing so, I shall make sure that I am 'Socially Distanced' by at least the length of a Cricket Pitch.

Thursday 1 July 2021

What a Day!!!


It was like Piccadilly Circus here yesterday. Firstly the man who mows the footpaths, mowed a new neighbour's temporary electrical connection behind our house. His cable, which had been lying on the surface of the path for almost a year (not recommended), was half hidden by the long grass, and the tractor driver drove right over it; tearing the cable from the electrical box connection, and shredding it.

Thank goodness the cable was torn from the connecting box before he chewed it up. He might not be with us now had he mowed from the other direction. I had told the man, who's connection it is, that it would have been better to put the cable up on the bank where it could do no harm, but advice can only be given; not enforced. Hopefully he'll listen next time.

They managed to have the power re-established before evening, so all is now well. And, yes, he's now put the cable where I had originally suggested.

Then I found our nice Water Board man in the paddock, leaning over some buried stopcock, which was issuing forth water. He explained that there was a leak somewhere up by the church, about 2 Kms to the East of us, and he was opening all the stopcocks between us and there; I have no idea why. This time it may not be quite so easy to repair, and the water may be running for some while. Luckily we're not paying for it. It is still running, and it'll be a while before it can be mended (a week?).

Totally unrelated to the water man and his stopcocks, we then found that our own water meter up at the barn was slightly leaking. There was a plumber working nearby, who promised to have a look. He fixed the leak with a couple of turns of a large spanner, and all was done free of charge.

Then, as if all that wasn't enough, our Charpentier turned up for the first time for over a week. He had his second vaccine jab on the same day as us (June 23rd), and has been suffering ever since. We had Astra-Zeneca with no problems; he had Moderna, and felt like death for a week. He should be back at work today; I hope so.

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