Tuesday 31 August 2021


Haddock's always was the Vegetable Garden for our house. We bought it about 30 years ago, to return it to its rightful ownership. It was simply a small D shaped piece of land, that was overgrown with Brambles; it took a lot of hard work to return it to a useable plot.

Over the years it has provided huge amounts of produce, and our Winter stocks were made from the excess; mostly in the form of bottled Ratatouille. There was hardly a time when we weren't eating its produce in some form or other. Below shows the plantings at the beginning of 2021.

Sadly, this year will be its last as far as vegetable growing is concerned. The light has now been totally blocked by serious growth from next door, and without light and air it has become unviable. Things simply aren't growing. By mid July I had become totally disenchanted, and I abandoned it. I still harvest the few things that are growing, and have left the rest to nature. 

I'm not sure exactly what I'll do with it, but in the meantime I shall simply mow all the grass, and keep it tidy. I shall leave the fruit trees, the soft fruits, and table grapes, but any future vegetable growing will move elsewhere. 

I shall be very sorry to say goodbye to Haddock's, but I have no alternative. It will continue to produce Plums, Grapes, Figs, Tayberries, and Artichokes; but no Veg'.

Perhaps I'll make it into a Party Venue, with Pergola, BBQ, Fire Pit, Table-n-Chairs, etc. It deserves to have a second life.


Monday 30 August 2021

Afghanistan; the Future.

There is no question that Afghanistan contains rich pickings for whoever is prepared to offer recognition, support and funding to The Taliban. They may not offer 'friendship'; but money talks!

Above is Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan, Wang Yi, in talks with The Taliban over future trade, and 'humanitarian aid'.

Bets are mostly on China to bid for expensive mining contracts. Estimates suggest that there is anywhere between £1 and £3 Trillion worth of minerals waiting to be mined.

Lithium, Copper, Coal, Gold, Iron, and Bauxite, are amongst the prizes waiting to be harvested. No doubt China will take the Lion's share. 

The Taliban might possibly build an ill-equipped hospital, a piss-poor university, and repair a few holes in the roads, but the majority of Chinese cash will go to buy military equipment, and Afghanistan will become an even more serious danger to world peace.

Mineral-rich China will then flood the world with even more High Tech gizmos, and their world domination will strengthen. The future is Chinese. 

20 years presence, $2 Trillion spent, and around 2,500 US and UK lives lost. Now we are forced out by a rag-bag army with AK47's. Possibly the worst humiliation in military history for two of the world's most powerful nations;..... and it looks as if China will go on to reap the benefits.

Sunday 29 August 2021


I've always rather liked Seagulls; but less so these days because they make a nuisance of themselves. There are far too many of them, and no-one does anything about the problem. But generally they are very attractive and atmospheric birds.

My good friend Jan says 'she has no problem spotting one of my paintings because they always contain Seagulls, or a Shotgun, or both'.

This large painting shows the waves, Brighton pier, a few Gulls, and a stormy sky. I rather like it as it reminds me of a certain period in my life, when I had a wonderful studio and was still exhibiting and selling work.

As a child going to the sea, it wasn't only seeing the sea that was exciting, but seeing and hearing the Gulls too. They were an integral part of the scene.

These days the Gulls have become a menace. They swoop on children eating Ice Creams, or old folk with their bag of chips. They nest on the roofs of houses where they hold dance-parties in the middle of the night. They poo everywhere, and (I'm certain) aim their poo at people and house windows. They are very accurate.

They also always sound angry; with us or themselves, I'm not sure.

Saturday 28 August 2021

My Theatrical Career.


I've had a few 'mute' parts in films, and was once offered a small speaking part in 'The Countess from Hong Kong' (which, sadly, I was unable to accept), but I've only acted on stage once, and that (as I suspect with most people) was at school.

The show's producer (JM) was one year senior to me. When he first asked me to take part; I categorically refused. He continued to pester me, and eventually I said 'OK', as long as it was a very small part, and required little acting talent.

The play in question was Joseph Kesselring's 'Arsenic and Old Lace'. JM gave me the part of Mortimer Brewster; my lines consisted of about half the whole bloody play.

I learned my lines in a week or so, other than one section where I was on the phone, speaking amidst others speaking. I put my script by the phone and read my lines direct. It was impossible for me to learn when to come in amongst all the other characters who, I seem to remember, were all shouting simultaneously.

I have to admit that I enjoyed my brief acting career (2 shows). I presume that JM chose me for the leading role because of my similarity to Cary Grant, who played the part in the Frank Capra's 1944 film version. Hmmmm, maybe not!

JM went on to be a producer on Broadway, but I never received another call.

Friday 27 August 2021

44 Scotland Street.

I recently heard one episode of a radio serialisation of this book, and was totally enthralled.

I've not bought books through Amazon before, so was a little wary of buying one that was described as 'used'.

The book cost a total of €5.12 (£4.50), and I'm pleased to say that it has obviously been unread (an unwanted Christmas present perhaps?). On the back of the cover it gives its original price as £14.99; I consider that a bargain.

I bought the book for Lady Magnon, who is running out of books. I hope she enjoys it, I shall read it later.


Turning The Tatin.

Despite being a World, and Olympic, Champion Tarte Tatin maker, Lady Magnon is still scared of turning them out onto a plate.

They come from the oven Pastry side up, but need to be put onto a plate Apple side up. With lots of very hot sticky Caramel about, this can prove dangerous. So, rather than put herself at risk; she calls on Muggins Cro, for whom (she imagines) red hot Caramel can do no harm.

Over the years I've managed to master the turning-over process without scolding myself; not easy for a fumbling oldie. I don't always get it to look perfect, but I can always blame Lady M's baking skills for that.

This one below came out very neatly, but it's the flavour that counts. 

We have Bramley Apples by the barrow-load at the moment, so Tatins are on the menu for the foreseeable future.

It's the world's best Apple Pie, and accompanied by a big dollop of thick cream; it's pure heaven.


Thursday 26 August 2021

The Nameless.


                                Afghan women in 1927.

The people of Afghanistan are never far from our thoughts. As an individual, I know there's very little I can do other than offer meaningless support and sympathy. Donated money could end-up almost anywhere, and with The Taliban in charge, one wonders if 'giving' would be simply funding more outrage.

One thing about Afghanistan that really surprised me recently (about which I'd previously known nothing) was the 'Where is my Name' campaign.

I imagine that most would agree that The Taliban's attitude to women is a disgrace, but I'd had no idea that their hatred spread as far as women's names.  Not only do these poor women have to cover themselves completely, but it seems that Afghan women are also only known by their relationship to men. Daughter of Mohammed X, Sister of Mohammed X, Wife of Mohammed X, etc. Women's actual names do not appear on their death certificates, or on the birth certificates of their children. They will not appear on the invitations to their own weddings, or even on their gravestones.

There was a recent case where a woman was beaten to death by her husband because her doctor had written her actual name on a prescription form.

The recent 'runaway' President, Ashraf Ghani had promised to look into amending the regulations, but now that The Taliban are back in control, I presume nothing will change.

We who live in the civilised world should give thanks every day that by a freak of nature we were not born in Afghanistan. Those women in the above photo would have been horrified by how primitive their country has become; the photo was taken 96 years ago, and could have been taken in The Luxembourg Gardens or Hyde Park. 

With the rag-bag militia now in charge, and calling the shots, it doesn't look as if life for Afghan women will improve for quite some while, but maybe they could show some decency by allowing them to use their own names. It's not that much to ask.

Wednesday 25 August 2021

Black or Blue?

I imagine that mask wearing will be with us for a very long time to come.

Yesterday (Tuesday is my shopping day) I needed to replenish my supply, and I noticed at the supermarket checkout that they sold two types; Black or Blue. Seeing as I'd previously always bought blue, I decided to throw caution to the winds, and buy black.

Black ones cost €2.97 for 50, and the blue ones cost €1.59 for 50. Both as cheap as chips, and presumably it's just the colour that is different. Whether they do what we hope they'll do is another question.

I shall continue to wear one, even if I'm told it's not necessary. It gives me some feeling of security, but at the back of my mind I know it wouldn't protect me from an infected person 'coughing' at me.

It does say on the packet that they're for single use only, but they would say that wouldn't they! I use mine until they begin to look 'used'. I only use them once a week for 30 mins, so they last a good while.

I'm hoping that the black masks will offer better protection than the blue. At nearly twice the price, they ought to!

They are, of course, all made in China.

Tuesday 24 August 2021

Barn Conversions.

Barn conversions are very popular back in the UK, and are becoming more so here in France.

The only problem with their conversion (if indeed it is a problem), is that they don't usually have the features that one expects in old 'houses'. Barns don't have old stone windows, nor do they have old fireplaces, bread ovens, or other stone features. Here they will often have a large rounded, central, main door, but very few other features. Such things need to be installed, rather than restored.

Most old barns had no necessity for damp proofing either (even of a primitive nature), so unless the question is approached seriously, they can be permanently damp; some are almost a health hazard! Old houses here were mostly built over cellars, where some cool humidity was often welcomed for food preservation purposes.

Our own barn (above) is of wooden construction, and luckily has very solid foundations, meaning no damp problems, and not having stone walls means it was very easy to insulate, and is always cosy in Winter. 

Some of the most beautiful of the UK's country houses are converted barns. They are often perfect for making into large open-plan living space, with wonderful roof beams and interior woodwork. No restrictive interior walls to dictate what goes where; I've seen some stunning conversions.

This particular one (below) was regarded as being so perfect that it was taken to pieces in it's native England, and shipped to New York, where it was re-assembled and made into the fabulous house you now see. I can see why they went to such trouble! 

Monday 23 August 2021

A Good Weekend for Sport.

I could hardly believe my eyes; my local UK team Brighton & Hove Albion are at No 2 in the Football Premier League. I wonder how long that'll last?

And in Cricket; no surprise, Sussex won the Hundred Trophy at Lord's on Saturday evening. My oldest, Kimbo, was there with his two boys to cheer them along, and watch all the fun.

Chubby batsman, Paul 'Slogger' Stirling scored 6x6's and his team 'Southern Brave' went on to win by 32 runs against the Brummies.

The 'Hundred Trophy' is a new concept in Cricket, and provides plenty of excitement, with hard hitting, and plenty of hard bowling. The games moves on at a great pace; not at all like 5 day Test Cricket.

If, like me, you are unfamiliar with the rules of 'Hundred Ball Cricket', here they are below. Quite different to ordinary Cricket, but designed to keep the audience happy. Each game lasts just 2½ Hours.

I can see it becoming very popular; especially if Sussex keep winning!

Sunday 22 August 2021

Be Young, Be Foolish, But Be Happy

Today's message is to follow your dreams, do all those things your mother told you not to do, and say Boo to that Goose!

Here's some happy northern Soul dancing to accompany Atlanta band The Tams and their 1968 hit. 

The opening blurry shots seem to be from some Mod-Vespa-Fest in Japan. Strange video; nice song!

Saturday 21 August 2021

Their names live on.

I remember as a small boy, my father's good friend, a certain Mr Paul, having a road named after him in our Surrey village. I'm pretty sure it was called Paul's Mead. I was mightily impressed.

Of course many great men and women have roads, squares, or boulevards named after them.

We all know of Grosvenor Square, Boulevard Haussmann, and Columbus Avenue; famous landmarks named in memory of important people.

Even the back-streets of rural France are known to honour its more important citizens. Take the above for example, in my own tiny hamlet. Le Chemin de Roger. Not a grand PlaceBoulevard, or Avenue, but a simple Chemin dedicated to a local dignitary, so that he may not be forgotten.

We all need a Chemin named after us; however unimportant our lives may be. It says 'I WAS HERE'.

I wonder who that 'Roger' person was? Hmmmm.


Peche de Vigne

As far as I'm concerned, there are only two types of Peach trees. The one's you buy, and the one's you don't.

Of course there are actually hundreds of different types of Peach, from orange fleshed, to white, to blood coloured. There are flat ones, and round ones.  There are furry ones, and there are smooth. 

The Peche de Vigne is usually grown from the pip of a good variety. Sometimes they resemble the mother plant, but more than often they don't. In many ways this doesn't really matter as the fruits are good anyway.

The trees were traditionally grown at the end of each row of vines, rather like certain Roses, to predict the onslaught of disease. If spots appeared on the leaves of the Peach trees, it was a warning for the growers to take immediate action. The fruit usually matures at the same time as the vendange so the pickers also had ready made snacks at the end of each row.

I only have one pukka grafted Peach tree; all my others are what I would call Peche de Vigne. It's always a toss-up with Peaches; one year they are loaded, the following year, nothing. They are very susceptible to weather conditions. This year our main Peche de Vigne (above) has plenty of fruit, and they are just beginning to ripen. Wonderful.

Our pukka grafted tree (Boo Boo's tree) also performed very well this year. We've been lucky.

Friday 20 August 2021


These little Wall Lizards are very much a part of our everyday lives. This particular one had been poking her head out from the fountain spout, but (of course) decided to move as soon as she saw my camera.

Lizards (from Latin Lăcerta) get everywhere. They live in the walls of the house, in watering cans, and I've even found them inside my drying swimming trunks. Nowhere is out of bounds for Lizards; they can be found anywhere at any time. I would estimate there being about 20 that live in the nooks and crannies of the front wall of the house, and countless others elsewhere. They scuttle about all the time when it's sunny.

We only have two varieties of Lizard; these common Wall Lizards, and the much bigger European Green Lizards. The Green ones are very shy, and much rarer. I occasionally see them sunbathing, but as soon as they see me; they're off. 

We do also have the rather unpleasant looking black and yellow Salamanders, but they rarely live close to humans, and only seem to come out into the open after rain.

Lady Magnon has a semi-tame Lizard that lives under the windowsill outside the bedroom. They spend ages just looking at each other. I think she named him Marmaduke, or maybe Gerald, or he could even be Boris.... Actually, I think he's called Norman, or maybe it's Harold.



Never before have I bought vacuum wrapped steaks in a packet, but there's always a first time. I'd noticed that they were on 'special offer', so I took the plunge. I felt strangely 'guilty'.

Inside the pack there was a double tray of 2 x 130gm, vacuum packed, ready seasoned, steaks. The pack said they were guaranteed to be tender. 

I gave them about 4 minutes in a very hot oiled pan, and they certainly looked good. I served them with chips and a small salad; the way that we always eat our steaks.

So, how were they? They were certainly tender, the seasoning didn't seem terribly natural (3 different pepper corns), and they tasted very slightly sweet. At 130gms each they were not as big as I would have liked. Otherwise we both agreed that they were very good value for money, at about €3.20 for two.

Would I buy them again? Possibly yes. Another time I would certainly add my own seasoning (salt, pepper, garlic), but I would be happy to have some either in the fridge or freezer.

The company 'Charal' is usually associated with good quality; I would give them 7/10. I wouldn't buy a similar product from an unknown company.

That's one more thing off the bucket list!


Thursday 19 August 2021

Singing the Blues.

Our native small European Blue Butterflies have fascinated me ever since I was small.

This one was 'fluttering' about by our re-sprouting Astra Zeneca plant (don't know it's real name), presumably to take either moisture or certain nutrients from the soil. It was patient enough to allow me to take photos.

As far as I can tell, it's the 'Common Blue', but to me none of them is common. They seem to be plentiful around here, suggesting that nature is doing just fine. Living out in the country we notice the increase and decline in all things 'natural', and I'm pleased to say that the Butterfly populations are doing OK.

We tend to take butterflies for granted, but they are really lovely creatures; and often very friendly. Our local 'Scarce Swallowtails' often land on our arms or heads. They must know that we mean them no harm.

On a slightly different subject, last year I saw very few Praying Mantis, and no Stick Insects, so I'm on the lookout. I do hope both species are still around.


Wednesday 18 August 2021


Lady Magnon bought this climbing rose last Autumn. It was planted in amongst a bed of Day Lilies, and became rather swamped.

It has only recently emerged from all the foliage, and has decided to flower. It has a beautiful blood red colour, the flowers themselves are small, open, and have curled petals. It's a stunner.

Unfortunately I can't tell you its name, because we failed to keep the label; although I have a feeling it was called 'Zephyr'. I've looked on the net, but can't find it. 

My photo does no justice to the actual colour.

I'm hoping it'll climb all over the front of our auvent; so far things are looking good.


Tuesday 17 August 2021

Trade marks.

A couple of years ago, I was in the supermarket checkout queue behind a man with scars on his arms. Just to make conversation, I asked him if he was a Chef.

He, of course, replied 'yes', and we both laughed about how easy it was to tell his trade.

Being the main cook of the family, I am known to have oven scars on my forearms; not quite as many as the gentleman above, but occasionally a few.

I have never understood why ovens should be so low down on the floor. Even on the UK's TV show 'The Great British Bake-off', the contestants are always on their knees looking in through the glass fronts. 

Surely if there's one piece of kitchen equipment that should be at eye level; it's the oven. It might even put an end to 'Chef's Tattoos'.

Monday 16 August 2021

Who should care for the 'Mentally Ill'.


All those who've heard of 'Incel' put your hands up. Just as I thought; almost no-one, including me.

The word has recently come to light following the killing of five innocents by 22 year old Jake Davison (below). He shot his own mother, a 3 year old girl, and three others. Davison then turned the gun on himself.

Incel is short for 'involuntarily celibate'. It is mainly a male group, but there are female adherents. They basically feel that the world is against them because they can't find girl/boy friends.

Davison looks to be an ordinary bloke; nothing either unusual or special about him. I believe he was training to be a crane operator. But he had mental issues.

The online Incel movement was obviously known to the Police, who should have been monitoring it's members. Davison's own mother had tried to get help for him; but failed. The Police even returned his shotgun to him after a period of confiscation. Bad decision making and failure all round.

The decline in mental health facilities began in 1960, when 'Care in the Community' became the byword for handling people with serious mental problems. Rather than look after such people in safe conditions, they were simply put out onto the street and forgotten. I can remember, myself, suddenly seeing people wandering around doing strange things; these people should obviously have been cared for. 

The only times the closure of mental health institutions is mentioned these days, is when it's too late, such as happened recently in Plymouth at the hands of Davison. Sadly six people lost their lives.

Turning up the Heat.

It was 34 C in the shade yesterday, so Lady Magnon decided to do some baking!

First she made some of her wonderful Parmesan biscuits, then, as it's Plum season, she made a delicious Plum Tatin.

We're ostensibly on our annual Summer diet, so biscuits and pies are normally verboten, but we do make exceptions. A slice of Plum Tatin with a dollop of Ice Cream makes the perfect desert after a light meal.

Unfortunately the kitchen remained at 45 C for the rest of the day!

p.s. They look like Figs in the photo, but I can assure you they were Plums!

Sunday 15 August 2021

Afghanistan Special!


When I did my Officer Training, the very first thing we learned was to 'KNOW YOUR ENEMY, GO IN HARD, GO IN STRONG. This was at the very heart of military strategy.

I watch film of the Taliban entering Kabul, and what do I see. Not a single pro-government citizen carrying a gun (above yesterday), whilst every member of the Taliban is carrying an AK47 or Rocket Launcher.

What the hell have these people been thinking? What have the UK and USA forces been thinking? Every single man, woman, and child should have been armed. The idea of the Taliban simply walking into a city and saying "Surrender" is crazy. This small advancing rag-bag of an army should have been slaughtered. They represent a very small percentage of the population, and could easily have been defeated had the citizens been armed.

They knew exactly what was coming, yet they welcomed them with open arms. Personally I would have welcomed them with GUNFIRE. These people are primitive scumbags, and should be wiped out.

Why was this not done?


On an important recent archaeological dig on the outskirts of Glasgow, in amongst the ancient bottles of Buckfast, and the rusting cans of Irn-Bru, the dig team (from an Unheard-of-University in Poland) discovered this alien skull (below).

Prof Gull-Ibble PhD. UFO. (of an Unheard-of-University in Poland) declared that this was definitive proof that aliens had visited Scotland. Carbon dating has put the find at (aprox) 1998 AD, and it is thought that the skull belonged to a member of the alien 'Bleechite' species (from Planet Bleech). 

The find will be taken to The Gull-Ibble Foundation of Krakow in Poland (in his front room), where it will be restored and preserved.

A rare, and very important, archaeological find!


Saturday 14 August 2021

All of Me - Gypsy Jazz Cover

Turn this on, plug in the kettle, make your Tea or Coffee, and by the time the music is over you'll be feeling in a wonderful mood. Now, play it one more time.

I really know nothing about this guy. His name is Justin Dalisay, but that's all I know; other than he plays beautifully. His 'walking finger-work' is superb.

Friday 13 August 2021

Al Fresco Dining.

At this time of year, we make a point of eating out as often as possible, and what better than to eat outdoors in some pleasant cool environment.

This somewhat ramshackle restaurant reminds me of Greece, Spain, or even the Caribbean, where food, wine, and ambiance, are far more important than waiters wearing bow ties, or eating off expensive fine china.

I really don't mind white plastic chairs as long as the view of the sea (or in our case the lake), or some beautiful ancient building, is just an Olive pip's throw away.

This lakeside restaurant started life as a bar in a shed, and has now become a fully fledged eatery, specialising in Moules/Frites every Friday. Our recent visit was on Wednesday, when we ate Duck breasts with a mountain of chips, and a small salad. Perfect for a warm evening. We even bumped into my very good friend, Margaret, who'd had the same idea.

Such places may seem a bit rough-n-ready, but that's all part of the charm.

Small children swimming in the lake, a waterside table for two (top picture), dogs (including Billy) sleeping under tables, a very pleasant waitress (in mask above), and not a TV in sight. What more could you want. 

N.B. We had to show our proof of double vaccination. Lady M's is on her iPad, and it didn't work. Mine's on paper, and it did! Hooray for low-technology.

Thursday 12 August 2021

Nearly there.

The heads of the Sunflowers are becoming heavy, and with the extra weight they are all facing downwards towards the ground. Most are already about 1ft in diameter, and they are full of seeds.

The male plants have now been removed, and the female seeds are almost ready for harvesting. They will then be stored, and sold for sowing next year; maybe some will grow near you.

The male plants represent about a 10th of the crop, and are essential for fertilising the female plants, but at this time of year they are all destroyed. I still fail to see why the seeds are not harvested separately; the females for seed, and the males for oil. It does seem that by destroying all the male heads, they are not taking full advantage of the crop. Parrot food even!

The male plants are in separate rows so they can be easily destroyed (below). As male seeds are needed, I imagine there are other farmers elsewhere who specialise in growing the male seeds. Perhaps someone could enlighten me!

The plants will soon be 'treated' to make them die-off, then the combine-harvesters will come in to shake all the seeds out. 

Soon the Chestnuts will be ready to be harvested, and it'll be another growing year over.

Wednesday 11 August 2021

At Last!!!

At last, it looks as if our Summer has started. Like so many in Europe, we've had terrible weather over the past month or so. I do hope the Meteo people know what they're talking about; a max of 33 C sounds fine, and just look at the 10 day forecast below!

Being optimistic, I took them at their word, and purchased that essential of all hot Summers; a Water Melon.

Cold Water Melon on a hot day, is perfect. It doesn't have too much flavour, it's 99.9% water, and it's the most refreshing thing imaginable.

This one below should last us several days.


Tuesday 10 August 2021

In Memoriam.

Most of us are lucky if we receive a couple of lines in the local rag, others are memorialised in stone, bronze, or (in this case) glass.

This beautiful Stained Glass Window (sorry about the awful photo), in St Mawgan and St Nicholas church in Mawgan-in-Pydar Cornwall, is dedicated to Sampson LeWarne and his wife Nancy LeWarne who died on December 11th 1858, and 14th December 1858 respectively; just a few days apart. 

The window was funded by their oldest grandchild. 

The LeWarnes in question are direct ancestors of Lady Magnon. Posh or what!!

My oldest will be spending a week in Cornwall looking at all such things; gravestones, old houses, and even stained glass windows.

Monday 9 August 2021

Japan, The Olympics, and Sue Perkins.

The jumps have been jumped, the races run, and the dives dived. It's all over, the equipment stored away, and the athletes back in their native countries to great acclaim.

I'm not a huge fan of the Olympic Games, but I do enjoy watching 'excellence' of any sort. For example, on Saturday afternoon, as it poured, we watched some of the Gymnastics involving hoops and balls (I don't know what it's called), and it was spellbinding. I was seriously impressed. 

There seemed to be less 'well known' athletes around this time. We Brits all know Tom Daley (the diver), but not many of the others. In many ways they are a species apart; well known in their own circles, but not so much elsewhere.

I was pleased to see that little GB came 4th in the medals table; I think we even have one more gold than shown above. GB was the highest placed amongst the European countries, which no doubt will infuriate Macron, von der Leyen, and Merkel. Expect some sporting retribution.

People outside of the UK may not know of Sue Perkins, but she is a comedienne and TV presenter. One of the most interesting spin-offs from the games was a tour of Tokyo by Ms Perkins, where she delved into the general life of the city. She (of course) visited clothes shops, and was amazed to see that women's shops all seemed to sell what looked like children's clothes. The fashion being for young women to look like schoolgirls...... Interesting!

There seemed to be only one day of serious rain, plenty of days of heat-n-humidity, no real disasters, and a very well run show. Well done Japan, and well done to everyone who took part; whether they gained medals or not.

Sunday 8 August 2021

The Vasa.

I can remember clearly watching on TV as the Mary Rose was lifted from the sea bed in 1982.

She had been Henry VIII's gunship. Built in 1510, she survived many battles before being sunk in the Solent. There's not a huge amount of her left, but the basic bones of her hull, and part of the port side, are now for all to see in her home town of Portsmouth.

The Swedish ship The Vasa was built about a century later in 1627. She was a magnificent three masted galleon, and was the finest ship of her type ever to have been built. Her stern (below) was awash with carving, which was originally painted in polychrome. It is hardly believable, these days, to think of such attention to detail. She must have been a magnificent sight when launched.

Sadly she sank after just one mile at sea on her maiden voyage, and managed to remain intact beneath the waves until 1961, when she was raised and carefully restored.

She had been poorly designed and was top-heavy, a sudden gust of wind had caught her sails, and she tipped to one side and sunk. She is on view in Stockholm, and as one of Sweden's major National Treasures, she attracts huge amounts of visitors.

98% of the ship now on view is original. The sinking, the raising, the preservation, and the ship itself, are all quite extraordinary. I haven't been to see her myself (I haven't even visited Sweden), but I recommend anyone going to Stockholm to visit. She must be an amazing sight; just looking at the above photo fills me with admiration.

The Mary Rose may be Britain's equivalent of The Vasa, but there is very little aesthetic similarity.

Saturday 7 August 2021

Tenpin's Dogs.

Not Miss Daisy, or Missing Daisy, but Missy and Daisy.

These are my daughters' (Tenpin) two dogs in Brisbane Oz. Other than us, she is the only member of the family to have dogs. Neither my oldest, nor my youngest, have any interest in dogs whatsoever.

If Billy were to go before me (which is unlikely), I wouldn't have another dog. I might have a cat around the house, but a dog requires so much attention and exercise.

My daughter has two boys, both of whom do their share of walks, etc. I really believe that for a boy to have a dog is a very important part of his education. It teaches how to care for others without questioning, and to understand that they rely on us 100%; and we need to be there whenever required. I hope I'm not being sexist if I say that empathy and caring usually come naturally to girls.

I, personally, had my first dog when I was about 21/22. Hamlet was a small-medium sized, black-n-tan, mutt, who had cost the original owner about 50p at Leeds Market. He was the most delightful dog imaginable.

We become slaves to our dogs, and often treat them better that we treat ourselves; but I, for one, am quite happy with that, and am grateful for all the pleasure they bring. I often prefer them to many humans.

Tenpin's dogs are not related. It's just by chance that the latest pup rather resembles the older one. They adore each other!


Friday 6 August 2021

French Police CLASH With Anti-Covid Pass Protesters in Paris

There is no let-up from angry anti-vaxxers here in France. I believe such demonstrations are taking place in many countries.

The interesting things about this short video are not anti-vaxx related, but 1. CRS using flame throwers against the protesters at 6 secs, and 2. The CRS man squaring up to a protester Ali-style at 24 secs; float like a Butterfly, sting like a Bee. He even invites the protester to 'square-up'. Not behaviour one would really expect from a Law Agent.

We should remind ourselves, whilst watching these people, that there have been over 200 Million cases of Covid-19 worldwide, with 4.25 Million deaths.

If they really do object about being vaccinated, why don't they just stay at home to protect both themselves and others. Instead of which, they go out en masse to complain.

Thursday 5 August 2021

Happy Birthday.

Today is my late father's birthday; I think he would have been 117 years old.

He was a classic, stiff-upper-lip type of man. Not a lot of open affection, but a very solid person.

Many of his standards have become my own, and they have always stood me in good stead.

Thank you for everything!


High Summer.

It's been an odd Summer so far. We think of June, July, and August, as the peak period for good weather, but this year it's been all over the place. I can't remember the last time I had a swim, and the pool's water is now below 20 C. We feel rather sorry for those holiday-makers who are paying a fortune for Gites with pools.

Yesterday morning I awoke to rain; in fact it had started just after 2 am, and didn't stop. I don't dislike rain, but when it continues like this, day after day, I am prevented from doing any necessary outdoor work. Haddock's is already awash with weeds, so I'm simply leaving it that way. Billy needs at least two long walks a day, and walking in the rain is not my bag.

Long dark damp days are depressing. We've watched some weightlifting, and even some 'speed climbing' on TV, but one ends-up thinking 'what on earth am I doing watching this rubbish!'.

Temperatures may rise above 25 C again in about a week's time, but by then we will already be a third of the way through August.

A couple of weeks ago I was getting up in the mornings to beautiful warm weather; then, barefooted and with just a pair of shorts, I was out there before breakfast cleaning the pool ready for the day's use. It felt wonderful.

At my age I want to feel as if I'm on permanent holiday, with just a few daily tasks thrown in, instead of which I feel like I'm in prison. Sunshine makes one forget about Covid; rain does nothing but remind us.

Having said all the above, I'm hoping to go to an al fresco restaurant tonight; so my fingers are crossed for a pleasant, warm, and dry, evening.


Wednesday 4 August 2021

Faux Sill Matjes.


I think I mentioned quite recently that my late Mother-in-Law used to give me a few tins of Swedish Sill for Christmas (above). She knew I loved them, and she had a kind heart.

I tried to buy some recently, but drew a blank. The net failed to provide them, and Ikea don't sell by mail order. I was stumped. However, I looked online for alternatives and found a 'cheats' recipe.

I bought a jar of my favourite Rollmops, emptied out half the vinegar, and added about a third of a cup of Brown Sugar, one Star Anise (it said 'Dill' but I didn't have any), then topped-up with Tawny Port. I left it for about a week.

This is the second jar I've done, and the result is pretty good. It doesn't have the same texture as the real thing, but the flavour isn't a long way off.

If there are any Sill fans out there who can't get to Ikea, this is not a bad method to try.

To those who have no idea what I'm talking about.... I apologise.

Tuesday 3 August 2021

More Wokery-Pokery.


Just to keep you up to date with the UK's charming PC, Woke, Snowflake, Junior band of Dungaree-wearing 'Liberal', vegan, left-wing students (have I left anyone out?); they are now attacking the very core of English Literature. 

1. There is much concern amongst the literati about the University of East Anglia's dep't of 'Literature and Creative Writing'. They have declared that ENGLISH is the 'Language of the Colonialiser', and they now insist that the University 'Decolonialises it's courses'..... Well, they would wouldn't they!

These charming 'pinkie' profs and undergrads are even questioning the study of Shakespeare, as, apparently, he represents 'White Cisgendered Privileged Male Authors', as well as other writers who represent the 'Privileged White Male Experience'.

I'm sorry if all this sounds like jumbled rubbish, but I am using their exact words.

2. On more Wokery; I've just been listening to some 'Linguistics Professor' who claims that it is insulting to imitate regional or class accents. He gave all sorts of 'liberal-Wokery' reasoning and examples, and even suggested that the characters in 'The Archers' all used stereotypical class/intelligence/occupational accents; and this (he insists) must stop. I suppose we'll have to have everyone in Ambridge all speaking with the same 'received' accents. He would have had Walter Gabriel saying "I say chaps, would you mind frightfully giving me a hand with my muck-spreading....".  Oh dear!

3. Not to be outdone, Leeds City Council are looking into the Yorkshire speciality 'Parkin' (a type of cake). It seems that they are very concerned by it being made with Ginger, Treacle, and Sugar, which are (of course) all products of British Colonial Expansion; and therefore EVIL. You really couldn't make it up!

4. And five trustees have recently quit the Vegan Society, because (yes, you've guessed it), it is 'institutionally racist'. It appears that 'Veganism' is 'cultural appropriation'. This British institution, founded by a British man, apparently uses foods and traditions from Africa and Asia. Personally I think the society should be closed down immediately; we cannot allow food racism, can we!

To quote that evil colonial-racist, Shakespeare, 'Cry God for Harry (the other one), England, and St George'..... Oh, and by the way, I shall be continuing to eat meat; which I suppose proves that I'm not institutionally racist, nor do I go in for cultural appropriation!

Monday 2 August 2021

Boris Johnson struggles with umbrella

Oh dear; someone gave Boris a whoopie cushion, and the joke umbrella! I suspect it was Priti Patel; by the way she was laughing (she's the one with the black pill-box hat).


I like cats. I've lived with cats since I was very small. At my native home in Surrey (below), we were hardly ever without a cat; but always just one at a time. I think I understand cats.

We only ever had two types; black or tabbies. The black ones were invariably called Blackie, and the Tabbies were always Tiddles. This one above in the arms of my French friend Didier, was no doubt a 'Tiddles'. This idea of sticking with the same names probably came from my aunt who lived down the road. She had a series of Highland Terriers (?) who were all called Rover.

We don't have a cat at present. Freddie (above) was our last one, who we lost at the end of 2018, and here he is, relaxing by the pool.

Like all cats he was an enigma. He was often very annoying, but also had a very friendly side to him. I would often awake in the night to find him curled-up sleeping under my chin. He often brought live mice into the bedroom, and at night would often demand to be let indoors from the roof's sky light.

As I hope you can see by the photo, he was a very beautiful boy, and like all cats had that wonderful look of arrogance and distain. He really did think we were his inferiors.

Shakespeare wrote 'I have studied many philosophers, and many cats. The wisdom of cats is infinitely superior'. 


Sunday 1 August 2021


Q. What's the connection between a pizza or kebab, beer, hunting rifles, school scholarships, or a $100 supermarket credit card?

A. They are just some of the international bribes to 18-30 year olds to get vaccination jabs; if they can tear themselves away from their X Boxes or iPhones, of course!

Taken for a Mug!

After I was first diagnosed with having Type 2 Diabetes, I would always take my small 3-monthly prescription to a Pharmacy that was very near to my doctor's surgery. They were reasonably efficient, but certainly lacked bedside (pharmacy-side) manner. They were often very offhand, and unfriendly; not only with me, but with everyone.

Now, since we have a brand new Pharmacy nearer to home, I have changed my allegiance, and am more than happy to have done so.

Recently I noticed that my current prescription, which involves about twice the amount of pills than back in 2015, costs about half the price. €52.34 now; as compared with €113.76 back in 2015.

Maybe pharmaceuticals prices have dropped drastically over the past 7 years.... but somehow I doubt it. I think my previous Pharmacy simply doubled the price, and hoped I wouldn't notice! I had no knowledge of the price of pills, and as I didn't hold a French health card (Carte Vitale) they could charge me whatever they wanted, without any Insurance Co asking questions.

Last night we discussed what, if anything, I should do about it. If they were overcharging me, then they were certainly overcharging others, and they should be stopped.

We eventually decided that, as in so many circumstances, it would be better to do nothing. People have a way in France of never taking responsibility for their own actions, and turn the blame on the innocent.

Frankly I don't care any more, I shall simply have to accept the fact that I was being grossly overcharged for years, and keep on smiling.

p.s. I would like to add that when at my new Pharmacy to get my recent prescription, the 'boss' was being very attentive to an elderly lady who was also collecting her medication. He sat down with her for some while, helped her to her feet when she left, and made sure that everything was OK. It was the perfect demonstration of kindness, which one would never have seen at the old Pharmacy; he's an extremely nice man. We (of course) all waited patiently until he had made sure she was safe, and on her way.

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