Thursday 30 September 2021

Après la Fete.

My agent wanted a studio shot of me 'hard at work', and this is what he got... without the flash, of course. My photo, below, is a photo of a photo of a photo.

I was working on a job entitled 'Après la Fete'; a rather sad painting of a young lady pulling the petals from a daisy, and musing "He loves me, he loves me not". Also in the picture is a ginger cat that we predictably named Thomas. He visited us daily, slept for most of the day, then went off again. He knew he wasn't our cat, but that didn't bother him. Our cat-flap was an invitation to a pleasant day's relaxation.

Below is the finished job. Again with a nasty flash reflection from my having photographed a photo. Thomas is happily sleeping at her feet.

I loved that studio, but through family pressure (ahem), it later became a Sitting Room (and still is).

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Do the Maths.

Q: If you employ a three person workforce at £10 per hour each, how much do you pay all three for their hour's work?

Q: If you employ just two workers at £15 per hour each, how much do you pay the duo for an hour's work?

Q: If you can only afford to pay £30 per hour for your workforce, how many of your three workers will you need to sack after having jumped their pay from £10 per hour to £15 per hour?

These may sound like very basic Lower 4th Maths exam questions, and most of us would get the answers right. However, some don't seem to grasp the indications. If you increase basic pay by 50%, prices will invariably rise, and unemployment will also rise; of that there is no doubt.

Could someone please explain this to Sir Keir and The Labour Party; or are they simply very happy to be in opposition for the foreseeable future? We all know that The Labour Party is the party of high unemployment, and high taxes; but if they're looking for votes they should be a tad more caring towards those who traditionally vote for them.

I don't wish to knock Dear Angela Rayner (Deputy Leader, and The Shadow Secretary of State for The Future of Work), but she did leave school aged 16 without any qualifications. It's beginning to show! 

Dontcha love 'em?


I love Figs, but like most fruits in the garden, we grow far too many and they go to waste.

This year seems to be exceptional. The trees are covered, and they are ripening well without splitting too much. Too much rain is their only enemy, it makes them swell and split.

At the last count I think we have 9 Fig trees; mostly ordinary ones, except for one white Fig, and one fancy one. The 'ordinary' ones are best.

The picture below is our largest tree, and it's covered. It's not easy taking photos of them as most are hidden.

I used to bottle them in an Armagnac flavoured Syrup, but no-one ate them even though they were delicious. I even find it difficult to get people to eat them fresh off the tree!

I shall encourage Lady M to make a Fig Tatin.


Tuesday 28 September 2021

End of season.

For the past few nights, I have slept UNDER the duvet rather than ON TOP of it. After several months, this was quite a novelty. I've also noticed that the butter in the butter-dish is now no longer semi-melting away; but just perfect for spreading. Change is certainly in the air.

We have still managed to swim most days, but with the water temperature now below 20 C, and not likely to rise, we are closing down earlier than usual. 

We both love swimming, and do so as often as possible; in hot weather several times a day, it's the only way to cool down. My last swim was two days ago in 19C water, and was very brief.

It's a seriously depressing activity, closing the pool, just as opening it in late May is exhilarating. Seeing its Winter cover of black plastic back in place is as bad as it gets. There's a lot to remember when one closes a pool, the cleaning and chemical process takes at least 24 hrs; and it always makes us feel 'glum'. Nothing else gets 'put away' for Winter in quite the same manner.

The water may look appealing in the photo below (that I took yesterday), but it's far too cold.

We have considered subscribing to some Country Club in order to use a heated pool, but frankly I'm not sure if it could ever replace the tranquillity of our own. The sea at Brighton, when I last looked, was at 16 C, which is totally out of the question; I think anyone swimming in that would need several flasks of hot Tea upon their exit. Certain people in Brighton swim every day of the year (without wet-suits), but they are NUTS.

It's possible that we may grab a few short 'Weekend Breaks' to warmer, more exotic, locations, where swimming would be very high on our list of priorities; but otherwise I expect we'll be spending Winter drinking Horlicks, and listening to Mrs Dale's Diary on The BBC's Home Service; whilst dreaming of opening-up again in May 2022. 

Monday 27 September 2021


I buy Toulouse sausage regularly, but I've never seen it advertised previously as being 'Fabricated in our Laboratory'.

When I showed the 'Leclerc' advert to Lady M, she simply said "YUK".

I shall buy some anyway, because they're the best sausages around; but I shall try to forget that they come from their very own Laboratory.

What a horrible advert for such a wonderful product. Heads should roll.

Tomatoes & Apples.

I suspect that in most countries of the world, the humble Tomato is the most important fruit of Summer.

Where would the Italians be without their beloved Tomato based Pasta sauces, or the Greeks without their salads, or the Brits without their Ketchup?

Life would be unthinkable.

We are now slowly coming to the end of the growing season. Sauces are being bottled, freezers filled, and in warmer climes the sun-drying process well underway. My own crop has yet again been questionable, but, luckily, I have a very good friend who grows huge amounts, and his generosity is legendary.

The lot above I picked yesterday. They demonstrate very well how I like to see them. Not on a perfectly green stem, with six identical, and perfectly flawless fruits. I want to see the scars of having been blown about a bit on the vine. I want to see blemishes caused by the sun. I want to see earth clinging onto their bottoms!

Similarly with Apples, I want to see flaws. We used to have a lovely neighbour who claimed he would never eat an Apple that didn't have a worm inside. He said it was by far the best indicator that the fruit hadn't been sprayed with poison. 

But most importantly, I want everything to taste 'delicious'. Those perfect fruits from the supermarket are simply rubbish in comparison to outdoor, sun-kissed, naturally grown, fruits from the garden.

A Banana will always taste like a Banana, but Tomatoes and Apples need to be good non-commercial varieties, and allowed to grow unhindered.

Sunday 26 September 2021

Insulate Britain.

Firstly I must stipulate that I am very pro-insulation. I spent many happy hours super-insulating our barn, and I can assure you that it pays!

However, I am very against these 'Insulate Britain' protestors who close motorways, and keep policemen from far more important work. The UK's police are not paid to stand around in groups wearing uniforms; they are paid to keep the peace, solve crime, and keep law-abiding citizens safe from idiots who glue themselves to motorways.

One can but wonder if the police are not being massively over-funded. If they can afford to pay dozens of cops to stand about and simply watch protestors as they disrupt daily life, then they should have their funding CUT. They should get on with what they'd paid to do, or maybe find another job. Below is a classic example.

Personally I think it would have been far better for the planet (and their PR image) if these folk spent their train/bus fares on a few rolls of Rock Wool, and offered to insulate the homes of some OAP's, free of charge.

If they did that, I might have some respect for them.


Saturday 25 September 2021

Autumn Mushrooms.

These Cèpes come from our own land. Three Boletus Aereus on plate, and one Boletus Edulis.

Usually I find my mushrooms elsewhere, but this is the first year we've harvested our own Cèpes from beneath our 'Royal Oak'.

And here they are converted into an omelette, which we have now consumed.

Possibly one of the best ever!

Caveat Emptor.

Buying stuff via Amazon, especially if it's sent direct from China, is bound occasionally to be a disappointment.

We needed some Moth Balls to put around the house; not only against Moths etc, but also to deter Mice, who hate the smell.

The shops here seem to find them too old fashioned, so I found a supplier in China who were selling 100 Moth Balls for under €10. I took the plunge and ordered them.

Yesterday a teeny-weeny package arrived by post; it measures 8 by 12 by 4 cms. I could hardly believe my eyes! With the size of Moth Balls I'm used to, I could only have fitted about 6 inside the box; and I had ordered 100. 

They certainly have the smell that I was expecting, but instead of being the size of a large Cherry, they look more like a flattened Aspirin.

All I can say is that I HOPE THEY BLOODY WORK. If they don't I won't be happy. 

They do smell pretty evil.

Friday 24 September 2021

Moving to Europe; then and now

The UK joined The Common Market in January 1973, but this had no easing effect on the complications of our moving to France in September of that same year. 

The difficulties we faced are little known about, simply because so very few people joined my example. In the area where I settled, I was just about the first Englishman since the end of The 100 Years' War.

Since the EU replaced the old Common Market, moving to any mainland European country has been made very easy. You now buy your house, and simply transfer the Euros direct from your bank account back home. No different to buying a home in Blighty. When I bought my first big old farmhouse (below), things were very different. We even had to declare all imports; furniture, car, dog, etc, on which I had to pay an instant import tax.

In 1973 there were still strict 'Exchange Controls' in place. In order to send large sums of money abroad one was obliged to buy 'Investment Dollars' through The Bank of England, then use these to buy French Francs later. Everyone took their percentage. At the same time, holidaymakers going abroad were limited to £60 spending money. It was a period of severe financial restrictions.

It was a long and costly experience; but we pulled-through; eventually signing papers one day before we would have lost our 10% deposit (and the house) after the prescribed 6 months.

I was only 25, and had left behind some good jobs, and business ventures. I had no plans, so I'd made sure I had enough in the bank back home to see me through the first 10 years; I never touched a penny of that money, and by the time I temporarily returned to the UK in 1980, it had doubled.

I started an Artists Painting Centre, which I very soon closed on account of the bizarre people it attracted; I literally feared for my wife and children. Then I worked as a Stone Cutter for a while, and although I enjoyed the creative side of the work, the actual execution was more suited to hefty Neanderthals than present day Humans. Chiselling away at huge lumps of stone, then lifting them into place, was for 'others'. 

Life was not always smooth. My daughter very nearly died of Peritonitis through poor medical diagnosis, my wife had baby No 3, and we had one other medical emergency. As 'foreigners', all hospital care had to be paid for with cash. No free NHS in France.

I'm happy to say that I've never sponged off either the UK or French benefit systems, I've paid all my bills on time, never been in debt, and I've never been in any trouble; I'm not that type. Nothing special about all that, you might say; but you'd be surprised by how many ex-pats cannot say the same!

It's been great fun over the past 48 years. We've had some wonderful neighbours, even though recently some have rather spoiled our peaceful atmosphere. 'Townie' newcomers often have no understanding of the previous calm and gentility of a tiny hamlet, and one has to bite one's lip and despair in silence.

Of course now the UK is no longer a member of the EU, and our status here has changed. Once again we would have to apply for a Carte de Séjour (residency permit) with all that that entails, if we wished to stay in our own home for 12 months of the year. However, with our particular situation it wouldn't be viable. I have always paid my taxes to my native country, and shall continue to do so. I am very much an Englishman. As non-EU members, I believe that all British ex-Pat 'residents' will soon be obliged to pay Taxes in France on all worldwide income, capital gains, inheritances, etc. No thank you!

p.s. I should add that entirely 'by chance' I learned that I had continued to own the 'Investment Dollars' that I'd purchased in 1973, and that they could be sold back to The Bank of England. I filled in the forms in about 1979, and received a very welcomed, and unexpected, £2,000. The value of the Investment Dollars that I'd held had more than doubled in value. A few months later they were abandoned, and I would no longer have received a penny. 

Thursday 23 September 2021

The Pianist.

In around 1985 (I can't remember exactly when) I was invited to exhibit with a British Gas touring exhibition with a few other British artists.

The painting below, 'The Pianist' (behind my elbow above), was amongst the half dozen works of mine on show.

Strangely, it was the one work that attracted the most interest, and I received several offers for it (even though nothing from the exhibition was actually for sale); I refused all approaches.

It's always good to sell work, especially when unexpected offers are made, but certain paintings don't leave home, and I'm very happy to say that I still have my 'Pianist' today.

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Unexpected Gifts

When I read of Brooklyn Sean's delightful gift to Trelawnyd's favourite son John Gray, I hardly expected anything similar turning-up chez Cro.

Monday is my 'adverts' day. Usually a bunch of supermarket, shoe-shop, garden centre, hardware store, etc, advertising bumf, turns-up in my mail box; most of which gets instantly 'sent to ground'.

However, on Monday an exceptionally large package also arrived; I was fascinated but confused. It turned out to be from my good friend Tony, in England, who had previously lived just a few hundred metres away from me before leaving unexpectedly. We were at college together (above Tony right, me left)

The package included several 'collages' that he now makes. Having designed some of Dubai's most iconic buildings, as well as part of its infamous airport, he now confines himself to the art of 'collage' back in Surrey, two of which I've already framed.  


Sadly, Tony suffers from MS, but this hasn't quelled his desire to 'create', and he now spends his days snipping and pasting. In a recent letter he compared his work in Dubai to what he does today; describing the latter as being 'just as fulfilling'. That pleases me enormously.

I love keeping in contact with old friends. We all know that our time here is limited, and we should make the most of it. Tony and I have a lot in common. We have very similar educational and family backgrounds; and we think in a similar way. Our interests are much the same, and we both refuse to suffer fools gladly. I was pleased to read that he still has an acerbic tongue for those who wronged him.

I don't think he reads this page, but I send him my thanks, and very best wishes. We need more Tonys in the world.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Day to Day.

This page (like so many others) is about daily life; often hum-drum, but occasionally dramatic.

I talk about the veg' I grow, our animals, life out in the countryside, our projects, my frustration with the Woke brigade who wish to sweep away the UK's rich and wonderful history, and even about people (who I've only ever been nice to) who shout at me at for no discernible reason. All is here, and open for all to see. I name the good, and always hide the identity of the bad.

Our lives here have been like the proverbial calm flowing stream. We were lucky to have good very neighbours, then unlucky to have a few not so good newcomers. The newcomers not realising what an impact they've had on the charm and tranquillity of such a tiny hamlet. They sadly considered it their right to cause chaos, mess, and noise.

However, living is such a tiny community, we consider it our duty to make things look as nice as possible. We mow our lawns regularly, swathe our buildings in flowering climbers, and our pool is beautifully 'landscaped' into the garden. Our cottage is certainly amongst the prettiest homes in the area, and its surrounding garden is always neat and tidy. Very 'English Home Counties', I suppose.

It is partly this which has prompted our horror at seeing the Water Co happily tearing up our trees, and digging holes in the lawn. It is soul destroying seeing the damage they cause without a care in the world. Had they kept detailed plans of where everything was buried, none of this would have been necessary. 

Unfortunately, we have also recently had several nights of very heavy rain, and this has made matters even worse by washing away much of their in-fill work. Previously the track above was Tarmacked and useable; it's going to take some serious repair work to put everything back as it was. The road will now have to be totally re-Tarmacked to avoid it all being washed away again. They turned-up again yesterday, only to dig more holes. It really is unbelievable.

All this may seem inconsequential to many, but to us it's very important. Gardens do not appear overnight; they evolve slowly, and are treasured. 

We are extremely busy at the moment, and have little time for dealing with mess and incompetence.

The Naughty Prince?

It rumbles on. Has he been served with papers? Or, has he not? Will he co-operate with the US courts? Or, will he not?

I'm no fan of Prince Andrew (nor of his ex wife). To me he is a totally irrelevant part of The Royal Family, I simply ignore him.

However, 'Randy Andy' is rarely out of the press these days, due to some fleeting sexual relationship he may, or may not, have had with some 17 year old American girl, called Virginia Roberts. Such casual 'flings' are normally no big deal; even in regal circles. Take Princess Diana for example, she had seven 'lovers' during her marriage, and no-one even mentions it! 

I've tried to read as much as possible about this bizarre case, and I can only base my conclusions on what info' is out there; court papers, Wiki, etc. Most of us rather like the idea of Andrew ending-up in 'the slammer', but the evidence simply isn't there. I'm not even sure exactly what he's supposed to have done wrong!

As far as I understand Andrew and Roberts met in London through Ghislaine Maxwell. They danced together at some nightclub, then having returned to Maxwell's Mayfair home, and according to Roberts herself, she was 'asked' by Maxwell to 'do for him what you do for Jefferey Epstein'. And she possibly did as requested; although Andrew denies it. She could always have refused; but she does look very happy in the photo above.

At 17 years old, coming on to a 'Prince of the Realm' is no crime in the UK. Power hungry young women do this all the time with aristos, wealthy celebs, footballers, etc. As long as they are over 16, there is no wrongdoing on either side unless coercion was involved; which doesn't sound to be the case with Andrew. If anything, it sounds as if any coercion came directly from Ghislaine Maxwell. If Roberts had seduced Andrew in the USA aged just 17, that would be a different matter.

Of course, one doesn't expect The Queen's son to be cavorting with members of the late Epstein's hareem, but at the same time he was single and open for a bit of (sexual) fun, which doesn't represent any crime. On the other hand, putting himself into a position where he could be either blackmailed or sued shows his naiveté. 

It's not always easy trying to analyse what's going on in such cases, but there is information out there. Please don't think I'm offering support to Prince Andrew; because I'm not. Nor am I offering support to Roberts. I understand she has already been handsomely compensated by Epstein in 2009 (said to be several millions), and has received yet more from Ms Maxwell, for 'defamation', in 2015. She certainly likes the idea of receiving lots of money for her previous 'services', and no doubt there'll soon be a book and a film.

Lawyers, over The Pond, are seeing nothing but Dollar Bills, and I hope more than anything else, that they are thwarted.

Maybe when Anne Sacoolas (who killed Harry Dunn in the UK two years ago) is handed over to the UK authorities, the UK/US authorities might start talking about Andrew.

Killing someone is generally seen as more serious in the UK, than having a night's rumpy-pumpy.

I repeat; I'm on nobody's side in this debacle. Just trying to look at the hard facts. It's possible you may view those facts entirely differently.

Monday 20 September 2021

Chestnuts 2021.

We're just past mid-September, and the Chestnut season is here again.

All the nets are now spread under the trees, ready to catch the nuts. and people everywhere are busy in their plantations.

The spikey husks are swelling beautifully, and it looks as if the farmers will have a good crop. They've had plenty of rain.

And here are some of the first nuts to fall, they will get bigger and better in a few days time. Billy isn't interested in Chestnuts. Monty made me peel them for him. He couldn't resist them; but Labradors can't resist many things.


Another Shot to the Foot.

He's even beginning to look like Napoleon.

One really has to wonder how much more this mini despot can bungle, before the people of France throw him out.

The latest result of his hostility towards the British, has cost him (France) dearly. In fact to the extent of between £30 and 60 Billion.

His offer to build a fleet of old-fashioned Diesel powered Submarines for Australia has been scuppered, and the Aussies will now buy a more advanced fleet of Nuclear Powered Subs made by a consortium of American and British makers. Macron is FURIOUS.

So unhappy in fact, is he, that after stamping his feet he has withdrawn his ambassadors to the USA and Oz. They must be quivering. 

I repeat what I've said several times before. If Macron had worked WITH the UK rather than AGAINST her after Brexit, he might have been offered some minor role in the production of the new Subs. As it is, he's been left behind at his desk in Paris, issuing nowt but hot air.

One can but wonder what he will do next to ruin France's economy. 


Sunday 19 September 2021

Man with his Head in the Clouds, and his Feet amongst Lizards.

It was dancer Margot Fonteyn who said "Always take your work seriously, but never take yourself seriously. The former is essential, and the latter a disaster". She was right, we should never take ourselves too seriously, or we risk becoming boring old farts.

In this 'Self-Portrait' (with the above title) I'm having a bit of a dig at myself, and my lifestyle. 

Of course I'm a bit of a bonviveur; I'm known for it, but mine is a very low-key version. I wouldn't be living where I do if I didn't enjoy some of the finer things in life. Head in the clouds? Maybe to a certain extent, but I do have my feet very firmly on the ground. I'm more staid than flighty.

And so to the Lizards which are part of everyday life here. When it's warm they scuttle about everywhere. They give the place an 'animated' feeling. It is a firm visual difference between my native Surrey/Sussex, and here.

That's it, a very readable painting that tells a simple story.

Saturday 18 September 2021

RIP Sir Clive Sinclair.


Sir Clive was a great man; for a start he invented the electronic calculator, that puts him amongst the true 'worthies'. He's up there alongside John Logie Baird and Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

My first experience of him came via the young daughter of a good friend. I was visiting him when she grabbed me, and insisted on showing me something. On her funny little machine (ZX Spectrum?) she had written 'Hello, what is your name?' I then had to type in 'Cro'. Then I pressed a button and the message came up 'Hello Cro, welcome to our house'. And that was it. High-Technology had arrived; even small children had begun to programme computers!

I soon noticed that most of Sinclair's genius was being used to keep kids in their bedrooms, playing games (they still do). I didn't really like this idea, so, when Wills (my youngest) asked me for something similar I refused, but bought an Amstrad PCW 8256 instead.

Rather than playing games, I encouraged him to design his own; it didn't take much encouragement. He'd always been an intelligent boy, and he saw the whole concept of learning a computer language as just another task. The above is a quick sketch of him hard at work; totally unaware that I was drawing him.

This was in about 1985/6 (maybe later?), when word-processors/computers were still at an early stage of development, the Amstrad was a classic example of this. Green screen, very slow, etc.

Wills set to, and created his first game 'Cavern Capers'. This very soon became outdated, and he created 'Cavern Capers 2'. Versions 3, 4, 5, and maybe even 6, soon followed and his friends used to turn-up regularly to play them.

I do know that Amstrad was Alan Sugar's Co, but the development of the PCW 8256 probably could not have happened without Sinclair. To this day I continue to use a hand held calculator, and am grateful to Sir Clive for all the innovations that followed in his footsteps. 

So, farewell Sir Clive, and I promise not to talk about the C5.

Friday 17 September 2021

Epic moment! Kid joins breakaway at Tour of Britain 2021

My son Kimbo recently sent me this short video. If you haven't seen it, it's worth watching.

Under 12 champion silver medallist, Xander Graham, decided to join the Tour of Britain Cycle race recently. Wearing very impressive full kit, he pulled away from the leaders for a short while. When the group caught-up with him, Dutch rider Pascal Eenkhoorn, of team Jumbo/Visma, gave him his water bottle as a souvenir.

Nice gesture Pascal, and well done Xander.

Thursday 16 September 2021

Polite Robbery

All crime, petty or otherwise, is always worthy of utter contempt, but one can almost feel pity for this criminal, who even promises to pay back the money when he gets back on his financial feet.

Desperation at its most civilised! 

Wednesday 15 September 2021

Je suis au jardin.

I bought this small embroidered 'cushion' from amongst the few small items of an elderly lady's boot sale stall. She had made it when she was small, had used it all her life, then told me that she had no further use for it.

In the country it's traditional to hang messages on the front door saying where one is; this one simply said she was in the garden.

Its naiveté is charming. A short message, a few flowers, and a butterfly; none of which is particularly well executed.

Children no longer make such things. They no longer embroider 'samplers', or messages such as the above. Boys no longer make pipe racks for their fathers in woodwork classes. Such things are from a bygone age.

When I bought the above (for a few centimes) the elderly lady looked quite sad. It was as if part of her life had ended. I told her that I would look after it, and use it when required. In fact it hangs by our fireplace in the sitting room. Our visitors pass Haddock's before getting to the house, so they would see me if I was there; making its use unnecessary.

Every time I look at it, I'm reminded of her kind wrinkled face, her traditional widow's weeds, and her natural warmth and charm. I suspect she'd been 'selling-up' in preparation for her next great adventure.


Tuesday 14 September 2021


We were eating at a favourite restaurant on Saturday, when we suddenly noticed that our sleepy town had become totally over-run with parked cars; mostly double-parked. I was sitting with my back to the scene, and hadn't been aware of the chaos.

Double parking of this sort is more associated with carefree Italy or Greece, where all road signs are simply 'advisory'; not with rural France. I had never seen this before here.

So, what on earth was going on? They can't have all been in church, even though the doors were open. No, it looked as if they were all in the 'Foyer' playing Belote; a very popular card game hereabouts.

Belote competitions are always hotly contested; enough to even make our good local townspeople leave their cars all over the place. Thank goodness I parked my car elsewhere.

In case my photo is unclear, that should be a single line of cars parked in front of the Halle; but not having either Gendarmes or Parking Wardens in the village, caution was happily thrown to the winds. 

re my meal: Yet another gorgeous 'Steak-n-Chips. I could eat there every night! 

Monday 13 September 2021

Me and Bridget Riley

I'm sorry to say that I have absolutely no connection with Brigitte Riley whatsoever.

However, I do have a penchant for her beautifully designed plasters; and I usually need several each day.

When I did my Foundation Course, I had a lecturer called Dave 'makes your eyes go funny' Mills (who was younger than me), who had worked on her paintings for a small sum. He was at Chelsea at the time, and she gave him a few shillings in exchange for his eyesight. She was no fool; she got others to actually paint her work.

I still have a few of Dave's works, but they'll never reach the dizzy prices of Ms Riley's paintings; which he probably painted anyway!

Sunday 12 September 2021

The UK's North/South divide.

For those who don't know about England's division of areas, she is divided into two parts; The North and The South.

'The North' is a large area situated to the north of London, that reaches as far as the Scottish border. The South includes London, and everything south of London

This video shows the natural reaction of a Southerner, when a Northerner comes south. 

Saturday 11 September 2021

In Memoriam. Olga Kristin White.

It was 20 years ago, on September 11th 2001, that my friend Olga Kristin White died.

She was sitting in seat No 21C of United Airways flight 93 when her life came to an untimely end.

Her plane crashed into a field in Shanksville Pennsylvania at 10.03.

She was one of 3,000 innocents who died that day, at the hands of Islamic terrorists.

I met her through my friend Jock Veitch, who'd been a fellow Journalist working alongside Kristin in New York. We met several times here in France, and we became very good friends. She was a lovely lady.

My sincere condolences go out to all family and friends of those who died on that terrible day. I shall certainly never forget Kristin, just as thousands of others will never forget the ones they lost.

RIP all.

Friday 10 September 2021

Non-Human Family Members.

Occasionally I get quite 'emotional' about my animals, past and present.

Just recently I posted the Lotte Lenya song 'September Song', and whilst listening to it I was looking at the first three pictures (below) on my sidebar. Freddie our handsome Tabby, Bok who was given to us so that he could be with his best friend Monty, and Monty himself who may possibly have been poisoned, and died very young.

If you visit this page often, you will be familiar with these three, as I keep their photos permanently in front of me. 

It's a huge responsibility looking after animals. We try to make them as comfortable as we can, we feed them good quality food, we look to their general well-being, health, etc, and we show them as much love as possible. Having done all that we can only hope that they are happy, and enjoy living with us.

When Bok died, I was totally distraught. I'd been here by myself for a few weeks, and his sudden prognosis and death came as a shock, and hit me really hard. I'd thought he was simply overweight, but in fact he'd had a huge internal tumour. He had given no signs that he was unwell; I wonder if he even knew? I swore I'd never have another Dog; the pain of losing him was too distressing.

But then, along came Billy, a scruffy looking, very young, mutt in a shoebox. In fact it was a Border Collie Puppy given as a present by my son Kimbo. Just when I thought we'd never have another Dog, here was Billy and he was gorgeous. He grew to be the proverbial Swan.

I often wonder if he likes us, if he's happy, and if he misses his own Dog family. I'm pretty sure he likes it here, I think it offers everything any Dog would wish for; he also has a very good friend nearby, Amie, a big female German Shepherd who he plays with almost daily.

p.s. Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a huge increase in demand for pets; especially Dogs. This has also led to an increase in theft of both Dogs and Cats. Such thefts are often for ransom, but mostly they are to sell on for very large amounts of money. With this in mind, new laws have appeared in the UK treating both Dogs and Cats as 'sentient creatures', and as from mid-September (I think), animal thieves could receive custodial sentences of between 2 and 5 years. GOOD!

Thursday 9 September 2021

Nor any drop to drink.

Once upon a time some nice Water Co' people dug lots of trenches, into which they laid big black plastic pipes. They filled in the holes and went away.

Then they came back again, dug more holes, and attached a few cast-iron bits and pieces that sat on the surface. Again they filled in the holes.

The following day they came back again, dug more holes, placed a huge round concrete inspection hole thing in one of them, cemented it in, filled around the new hole, and went away yet again. 

The following day they were back again. They dug up the concrete inspection thingy, dug another hole by its side, put it all back, and filled in again.

Yes, you're right. They were back again the following day to dig up their original hole by the red/white barriers (top of photo), and seemed happy with their work. This was yesterday; Wednesday.

Overnight we had a storm with plenty of thunder, lightning, and rain. The rain has, of course, swept away much of their hole fillings, and the track between Haddock's and Haddock's Paddock has all but disappeared. 

Two men have just arrived this morning. They looked at all the mess, despaired, then threatened to dig another hole in our lawn again, as they did back in July.

I have just phoned a local 'councillor', and with any luck he'll be here this afternoon to see what's going on. I feel as if I'm on Candid Camera.


Is That All There Is? Peggy Lee.

Very few songs are written about disillusion, this one being possibly the most poignant and beautiful. Bizarrely, it is also a song about optimism.

The singer describes watching her house burn down, visiting a circus, and falling in love; none of which live up to her expectations. Instead she suggests to accept what comes, break out the booze, and have a good time. In other words 'carry on dancing'.

A great song, sung by a great singer.

Wednesday 8 September 2021

'Avin a Larf.

I'm sure we've all met them; joker tradesmen who quote crazy prices in the hope that someone, some day, will accept.

We're having some re-modelling work done to our UK home, amongst which is a new bathroom. It's a small room, and we're replacing the loo, hand basin, and bath/shower. A very easy job for even the least experienced of plumbers. You take one out and replace it with another. With all the modern flexible plastic piping around; it's child's play.

The plumber we had in mind asked for £4,000; yes £4,000 for a one day job!

If this plumber works a five day week, and takes a two week annual holiday, at that rate he would be hoping to earn anywhere up to £1 Million pa.

You're 'avin a larf mate!

Tuesday 7 September 2021

US troops destroy military equipment before leaving Afghanistan

This is nothing new.

Back in about 1966/7, I was managing a small West End Art Gallery. We dealt in early English watercolours and topographical prints (etchings).

We had one particular client who came back time and time again to buy large Piranesi prints of Rome.

He was a young American naval officer, and was based at the old US Embassy in Grosvenor Square. (Who would have thought there was an American naval base in central London?) 

He was a very pleasant person, and he became not only a very good client, but a good friend too. He even used to sell me large bottles of Jim Beam bourbon for a few shillings. Something to do with having two PX token books.

One day he said he'd better be getting back to Grosvenor Square, as it was their day to smash equipment.

When I asked what he was talking about, he said that every year they needed to INCREASE their funding, and the only way to do this was by replacing equipment. This equipment needed to be broken-up by using hammers etc; not unlike in the video above. Failure to replace equipment meant a possible decrease in funding.

The most remarkable thing about this story is that everything broken was classified as 'LOST AT SEA', which was the only reason for replacement.

If you are a US citizen, and you wondered where part of your taxes went; it went to replace smashed-up, perfectly good kit in a London boat-less, sea-less, naval base.

Monday 6 September 2021

They're still here....

It looked as if they'd finished. I had a word with the boss of bosses this morning and showed him exactly how I wanted them to leave it... which they did very nicely.

Then just before lunch I noticed that they'd dug another large hole, into which they are now lowering some big concrete inspection hole thing; cutting away certain bits so that the pipes will fit. I suppose this means we'll have a big round cast iron cover in the path.

It's stinking hot here. They must be slowly melting under all that Day-Glo plastic work-wear.  

I'm going for a swim.

Cro's Style Awards No 54.

I was recently looking at some film of the 1970's phenomenon known as 'Northern Soul'.  I had left the UK in 1972, so had totally missed-out on this trend of both dress and dance. I expect the London 'Punk' movement of the same era also helped thwart its travel south.

The first thing one notices in all Northern dance film from this era are the men's trousers, which were a tad short, extremely baggy, and probably made at home. They also wore figure-hugging T shirts and Jumpers that were adorned with round badges!

This picture (below) shows several young men wearing such trousers. These were not 'flares'; they were quite different.

Back in the 1920's, such trousers had also been popular. Known as 'Oxford Bags' they were particularly popular with the upper class 'bright young things' of the Mayfair party circuit. 

This gentleman (below) is wearing a particularly extreme version of the fashion, and obviously causing much amusement.

So my today's award goes to the wearers of Oxford Bags, both in the 1920's and the 1970's. Not really my cup of tea, but worthy of recognition.

p.s. Previous Style Awards can be viewed by typing 'Cro's Style Awards' into the search strip, top left.

Sunday 5 September 2021

Not again!

It wasn't that long ago (July 1st) that these same people were digging up our lawn and making an awful mess, now they're back again and making even more mess, deeper holes, and they've pretty much blocked our exit. They arrived with three big CAT diggers, four workmen, two fat controllers, and one boss of bosses with clipboard.

When they restart work on Monday we will have our access totally closed, and we shall have to drive over open fields in order to leave home.

One good thing this time is that they seem to be taking more care over how they leave things. They are also quite happy to do a few things that I request, whilst their big machines are here.

On Thursday evening they stopped work early because they'd found a large Asian Hornet's nest amongst the fencing at Haddock's, so they phoned the village Hornet killer, and he sprayed them. We also asked him to deal with a Wasp's nest amongst the stones at the rear of the house, which he did. Two birds; one stone.

Such work is occasionally essential, so we don't moan about them being here. I just hope they won't leave too much mess. Poor Haddock's looks very forlorn.


Saturday 4 September 2021


I have shown this portrait previously, but the photo was so bad, you could hardly see what was going on. 

The painting is of my daughter, Tenpin, and shows her with her bear Mrs Pins, and her two baby bears. Mrs Pins was looking a bit tattered with holes at her elbows, etc.

Ten' was a very patient model, and sat impeccably for about an hour or so; not easy for a small child.

It is, of course, a 'souvenir painting' and was never for sale. I'm proud to say, that it looked exactly like her too! 


Friday 3 September 2021

September Song

September has begun strangely here. The Water people have been digging-up our garden again, then they found an Asian Hornet nest; so they downed tools until the Asian Hornet Destroyer Man came. 

Overnight we've had thunder lightning and rain, but they'll no doubt be digging again today. With holes all along the road we are blocked in. We're out tomorrow evening, so we'll have to drive across open fields.

Oh well; Lotte Lenya will keep me company today.

Thursday 2 September 2021

Flying the Flag.

After my late Father-in-Law left his initial FO posting to the Embassy in Ankara, he was sent to our fledgling Consulate in Kathmandu, Nepal.

His immediate remit was to create ties with Nepal's Royal Family and leading politicians.  

As in so many consulates around the world, work mostly consisted of getting wayward Brits out of prison, getting them medical attention, or loaning them money to return home. There wasn't a lot more to do.

Lady Magnon should have been born in Kathmandu, but a sudden outbreak of either Cholera or Yellow Fever (not sure which) forced her mother to return to England, and she was eventually born in 'leafy Surrey' (as was I).

After four years, when my Father-in-Law handed over the reins to the new incoming Consul, he took with him his small Union Flag, above, made by Shaw Bros of Calcutta in 1941. It's not a particularly old flag, nor is it valuable, but it's a highly prized memento. It was this flag (his own), which was raised over the consulate during his time there. 

After Kathmandu he then went on to Moscow with all the difficulties that that entailed. A very different scene to that of Nepal. The future Lady Magnon spent her first four years in Moscow.

My own family owned a particularly nice Union Flag, that had been passed down through many generations. It was bigger, and much older than the one above, and was also a very prized possession. 

It would have been used by family members to celebrate the end of two world wars, as well as during the reigns of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, George V, Edward VIII (briefly), George VI, and our present Queen Elizabeth II. Sadly it was loaned to someone and not returned. I would liked to have flown it to welcome King Charles III (if I'm still around), and pass it on, but that will not now happen.

I would never, ever, loan the one above to anyone; in fact I might even frame it. If that one was stolen, we would be even less happy than we are about losing my own bigger family one! 

Wednesday 1 September 2021


If it looks like Autumn, feels like Autumn, and smells like Autumn, then it probably is Autumn.

All we need now is the sound of distant hunters' gunfire, and the sight of wood-smoke coming from cottage chimneys, and it'll be confirmed.

We've already had one morning of a chilly 10C, and although we're still swimming every day, it doesn't look too good for the coming month. 

Acorns are dropping from the Oak trees, the grass has stopped growing, and Blackberries are everywhere. It won't be long before Chocolate Santas are in the shops, and the upcoming crazy Black Friday (are we allowed to call it that?) will cause people to temporarily loose their minds.

I sense the end of Summer. Temperatures will now struggle to reach 25C. 

In fact I love the month of September, it's the month when we all calm down, relax, and enjoy the lower temperatures and more reliable weather. Tourists will go home, Cafés and Restaurants will be quieter, and the roads will be even emptier than they already are.


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