Thursday, 6 October 2022

Nothing's new.


The young militant woke LGBT brigade seem to think they are avant-garde trendsetters, and that the rest of the world needs to wake up to their radical new, never seen before, life-styles.

Well let me point them to April Ashley (below). Ms Ashley was born in 1935, and had reassignment surgery in Morocco in 1960. She soon became a much sought-after model but after having been maliciously 'outed' as having had a sex change, much of her work stopped. She had been photographed by David Bailey amongst others.


She was a good friend of Dali's muse Amanda Lear, and claims that they worked together in drag bars in Paris during the late 50's. Ms Lear has always claimed (and still does) that she was born female, but evidence proves otherwise.

April became big news in the early 60's. Her story was new, such 'things' were not common knowledge back in those dark days. I do remember the headlines, but I don't remember any criticism or anti sex-change banter. It simply was what it was.

She later received an MBE for 'services to transgender equality'. Good for her!

 

Wednesday, 5 October 2022

Dustmen.

 

On Monday morning at around 7.30 am, I heard an ENORMOUS crash/explosion whilst walking with Billy. I asked a fellow dog-walker what she thought it was, but we were as baffled as each other.

Later in the day I learned that it was a dustcart that had overturned just down from the park, about 50 yards away, but out of our sight. It had been travelling downhill and turned right just where the camber of the road was against him. The inevitable happened; I imagine he was going a tad too quickly. The dustcart landed on its side and was eventually righted by a huge crane. Below is the slightly crumpled result. It looks considerably less damaged than I would have imagined.


Later that day I had a short chat with a dustman who empties the (dog poo) bins in the park. He's such a nice guy, and is very conscientious. He assured me that the driver of the dustcart was OK.

On the way to the park on Tuesday morning (the next day) I noticed a lot of rubbish in the twitten behind our garages, and made a mental note that if I could find a plastic bag I would tidy it on my way home.  Luckily I did find an escapee bag and filled it with several beer bottles and cans as well as some clear plastic containers and a few small gas canisters. Some bin men with a machine not unlike the one above had been watching what I'd been doing, and applauded me. 

How nice of them; it made my day!   

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

What makes you mad?


This is the night-time view from the balcony outside the large window in our Brighton bedroom. All very dark, and quiet, other than one building.

I'm not sure who owns the building, but it's been lit-up like this EVERY SINGLE NIGHT since we first moved here, at least 20 years ago. The building is unoccupied at night.


In these days of austerity, we try to use as little electricity as possible, as I'm sure do most people.

So, I can only imagine that this building is Council owned, as they are the only people that I can think of who couldn't give a shit care less how much of other people's money they waste. I think I mentioned previously that we have a 'Green Minority Control' Council, with a heavy presence of Labour. A classic case of 'Tax-n-Spend'.

We don't get much for our very high Brighton house taxes, but we do get plenty of weeds growing on our pavements, as well as lots of totally useless lighting.

I'm not 100% certain that it's Council owned, but I shall certainly be making enquiries. If I'm proved right I shall be having words with our so-called 'GREEN' Council; who act more like a murky brown sludge coloured council. Hypocrites.

 

Monday, 3 October 2022

A Brief Encounter.




"Are you from North of the Border?" he asked.

"No, I'm very much a Southern boy" I replied.

"I only ask because I see you've bought Haggis and Black pudding" he continued. 

He was about my age, white haired and had a big pleasant smile.

"It was the last Haggis on the shelf, so I thought I'd better buy it whilst the going was good" I said laughing. 

"There'll be plenty more" said the check-out lady. "The shelf might already be filled again" she said optimistically.

"How do you eat it?" asked the old gentleman.

"I expect the Scots would have me hanged for it, but I cut 1cm slices (it comes in a thick tube) and fry for a short while" I replied. "None of the neaps-n-tatties for me I'm afraid, I'm a rebel"

"Is it good?" he asked.

"For a commercial product it's OK. There are other ones that I prefer, but M & S is my nearest supplier, so when the urge is there I buy wherever I can".

I paid my bill, wished him a good day, and returned home for my Sunday breakfast (above). What a very pleasant couple of minutes at a check-out desk.

 

Sunday, 2 October 2022

Here we go again.


In these financially difficult times, what the country needs LEAST is being brought to a standstill by a bunch of junior layabout anarchists (The Corbyn brothers et al).


Ill-advised groups such as 'Just Stop Oil', CND, and 'Insulate Britain', have joined forces with the usual rabble, including ASLEF RMT and the Corbyn Bros, to attempt to bring central London to a standstill (as one does).

They were moaning about low wages, the cost of living, and the climate crisis, and this was how they hoped to solve it.

However, I'm not sure how disrupting life in London will help with the cost of living, nor am I sure how it would tackle the climate crisis. Perhaps they know something that the great majority of the world's population don't. Also, how pouring a bucket of mixed human faeces/urine over Sir Tom Moore's new memorial will help their cause is anyone's guess!

What I do know however, is that if either Jeremy or his conspiracy theorist brother Piers Corbyn are leading some silly march, then it's bound to be nonsensical and/or illogical. 


N.B. Just as a matter of interest, the marching lovies might like to know that a standard 42 Gallon barrel of crude oil creates not only about 20 Gallons of petrol, but a 22 Gallon residue that goes towards products as diverse as car tyres, deodorant, paint, insect repellent, guitar strings, telephones, golf balls, and even heart valves. Let them tell me that they never use any of these. The hypocrites!

Oh, and by the way Jeremy; that big plastic banner you're holding is an oil by-product. Tut tut!

It kinda makes their silly marching look rather uninformed and irresponsible.

 

Saturday, 1 October 2022

The new car.

 

She has finally been delivered. The new 'Compact Royce' has landed, and I've never seen a car as spotlessly clean.

I've stuck with my old favourite manufacturer, as (for me) having a French made car is the wise option. Our previous car was described by Jeremy Clarkson as 'An OAP's shopping car'; which is exactly what I wanted. This one is simply a newer model. As an 'Estate' she has plenty of room, and as we always have the back seats permanently down, it leaves an even bigger usable space. 

                                         

She does about 50 MPG, and will reach 120 MPH if encouraged. She also has gangster-tinted windows and a sliding roof. She even beeps if I'm about to hit someone whilst travelling at speed in reverse. At the same time she does NOT have too many confusing buttons, knobs, etc; although it'll take me a while to discover exactly what's what. 

                                                     

She has travelled very few miles, the annual insurance costs just under £270, and Road Tax is £165. We don't have Road Tax in France, but with the combined costs it isn't much above what I was paying overall in France per annum. Of course, here in the UK we have an MOT test every year, whereas in France it was once every two years.

I will have to get used to right-hand-drive again. I haven't driven one for about 50 years.  I've also noticed that the petrol filler cap is now on the other side.

Aesthetically she is very pleasing, she is comfortable, and drives perfectly. All in all I'm very happy, and I just pray that I'll stay that way. I really don't want to have to buy another one.

Lady M has given me a good talking-to about keeping the inside clean; the last one was like a farmyard.


Friday, 30 September 2022

Leigh Bowery (1961-94) at Harrods


I'd always thought that Leigh Bowery was English (he sounds English) but in fact he was born in Melbourne Oz.

He moved to London as a student, and soon established his famous performance art and club scene. 

Just in case Bowery has passed you by, here he is at Harrods, in some of his iconic outfits.


Thursday, 29 September 2022

How Green is your Pavement?


Living in Brighton certainly has its advantages, but sadly it also has one or two serious disadvantages.

We have three MP's; two Labour and one Green. The city council is under 'Green Minority Control'. How much worse could it get!

I don't know too much about Green Party policies other than a few years ago their manifesto promised to stop children having pet Rabbits, and to reduce the length of Artists copyright on their work. You can imagine what I thought about both of these.


One of their current policies has been to stop weed-killing. They have banned the use of Glyphosate on the streets of Brighton and Hove, and promised to employ an extra 20-ish 'gardeners' to cope with all the appalling growth of weeds everywhere. This hasn't happened, I quite expect they're too busy teaching 'gender reassignment policies' to our Primary School children. 

Personally I take care of my own weeds and keep them to a minimum with proprietary brand weedkillers (non-Glyphosate), and our front and back are weed-free.

Elsewhere people are not so fastidious, and as you can see above, weeds are left to run amok, and spread where they will.

I'm sure dear Ms Lucas and her bunch of Green do-gooder dungaree wearing woke lovies are all very happy with their super environmental policies, but it does leave our streets looking a right bloody mess!

Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Cheese


France proudly claims to make a cheese for every day of the year, the UK makes about twice that many.

I have often said it, but the amount of those French cheeses that are worth eating, you can count on one hand. Mostly they are bland, of poor texture, and overhyped.

However, the good ones are very good. Camembert, St Agur, Brie, Vieux Cantal, and good Goat's cheese are amongst the very best.


We don't buy much Italian cheese. Parmesan, of course, and recently I've returned to Gorgonzola.

Here in England we are very impressed by Sainsbury's English Brie, it melts beautifully. Otherwise, we indulge in various Mature Cheddars (Ye olde something-or-other), English Feta, and often the wonderful French St Agur.

Cheese buying is a bit like wine buying, there are so many to choose from, and not all are worth their money. I find myself sticking to the old favourites. Even so, I did recently buy some 'Extra Mature Cheddar' that was like eating a bar of soap.

Tuesday, 27 September 2022

Things seen in Brighton.


It was a sunny but chilly Sunday, so we went early down to the beach. At about 9 am the prom' boasted just a few Joggers and Dog-walkers, otherwise we had it to ourselves. The 'revellers' were all still in bed!


Billy had a swim (paddle), and a few local stalwarts braved the water as well; they didn't stay in too long. 


We came home via The Pavilion, outside of which was this nice clear sign (below). 

                                    

Whilst passing a well known Italian Restaurant I decided to look at their menu. The Italian chef had just arrived and was unlocking the door when he said 'Buongiorno'. We then had a 15 min conversation with him about everything Italian, and his wonderful new £40,000 pasta making machine. Life is never dull in Brighton.

Whilst in the Pavilion Gardens a desperate young lady came running up to me and asked for a Dog Poo Bag. Luckily Lady M had one, and the lady's embarrassment was saved. Naughty Pooch, and even naughtier young lady for not having a bag.

Just another Brighton morning. We met people we knew, we sat on the Prom', and we enjoyed the ambiance.

Monday, 26 September 2022

Basket case.


My oldest has a finely honed sense of humour.

Imagine the fun we had when he recently presented me with 'chips in a basket', exactly like the method I'd previously complained about at my favourite restaurant in France. 

Laugh; I almost spilt my Pécharmant.


The steak was a Rib Eye and was so tender it almost fell apart by just looking at it. Fab!

This (below) was the original that I had moaned about, and caused such amusement!


Sunday, 25 September 2022

What's the least fun you've ever had?

 

After my recent posing about 'best fun', I suppose it's obligatory to ask the opposite.

With this question I really didn't have to think for more than a split second. Without question it was my time spent on The London Stock Exchange.

I had turned down an offer to study Architecture, and on that final day at school I really didn't know what to do. It was a couple of good school-friends who suggested I join them in The City, and I soon secured myself a position with one of the oldest firms of Stockbrokers in London. I was to become a 'Blue Button', a trainee stockbroker. (I tried to find an image of a Blue Button on Google Images, but such images from the mid-60's seem not to exist)


Things did not get off to a good start, and on my very first day I was sent home for not wearing the correct city clothing. My suit was too light coloured, and I was given the day off to collect my new pin-striped dark grey suit from my father's tailor. I was made to feel like a naughty schoolboy. 

Part of my job was to visit The Bank of England with Bearer Bonds, etc, for which I needed to wear a Silk Hat as above. The firm's commissionaire would brush it for me before I left the office, with all sorts of expletives, instructions, and warnings. He considered it a personal insult if it was to be damaged in any way and reminded me constantly.

Work was hard and every two weeks would continue late into the night when the firm's accounting was completed. No consideration was given to my returning by train to the South Coast where I still lived. I had absolutely no time for myself, and I didn't seem to be appreciated. I really hated it.

Then after my first full year we all received a surprise 'bonus'. Mine was twice my meagre salary and I felt like a millionaire. I handed in my notice and flew to Paris. It was the best thing I ever did.

I have not worked in an office environment since. I don't consider my teaching days as being confined to an office. That office in the city was airless and stank. It was the one place I didn't want to be. I spent as much time as possible on the floor of the house, at The Bank, or in the Pub'. Returning to my Gresham Street office was always a nightmare. 


Saturday, 24 September 2022

The Mitford Gals.




If you have lots of daughters, just think yourself lucky that you didn't have this bunch.

The Mitford sisters were born into an aristocratic family, their father being the 2nd Baron Redesdale. I'm not sure what influences fashioned their lives, but they certainly didn't behave as expected from their ilk.

Diana was a Fascist. She was wife No 2 of the infamous Oswald Mosley.

Unity was famous for being a great supporter and friend of Hitler.

Nancy was a novelist. I do remember reading 'Noblesse Oblige' when I was at school.

Deborah was always known as The Duchess. 

Pamela was 'An Unobtrusive Poultry Connoisseur'. It was claimed that after her divorce from Derek Jackson she became a 'shirt-n-tie-job'.

And Jessica was a Communist and 'singer'. Here is Jessica singing the Beatles song Maxwell's Silver Hammer. A fine rendition.

In the above photo Jessica is the one on the extreme left, and Deborah is the one missing.


Friday, 23 September 2022

The Specials AKA feat Rico - Jungle Music


Rico Rodriguez is now long gone, but here he is with The Specials doing what he did best, playing his 'bone' and singing with his mates.

The next Tory PM?

 

The Tory Party has already elected three female Prime Ministers, but whether or not they are ready for a person of colour I'm not yet sure. The 'Shires' can hide some very conservative Conservatives.

However, as I personally have no such hang-ups, I am putting forward Kwasi Kwarteng's name as a prospective future leader. He fits the bill pretty well and claims many of the better attributes of previous PM Boris Johnson.


He has an impeccable education record, Eton where he was a King's Scholar (as was BJ), and Trinity Cambridge where he studied Classics and History, receiving a 1st in both subjects. He also studied at Harvard, and later received a PhD in Economic History from Cambridge.

He was a columnist with The Daily Telegraph (as was BJ), a Financial Analyst with J P Morgan, and eventually became an MP for the Spelthorne district of the UK's finest county, Surrey. He certainly knows what makes the country tick!

Once elected as an MP he held various junior/senior ministerial positions and is currently Chancellor of the Exchequer under PM Liz Truss.

I do understand that looking for a future PM just as a new one has been installed could be seen as a tad pessimistic, but it's always good to look forwards and I enjoy making predictions; even if they're mostly wrong.

I suggest that Kwasi Kwarteng is someone worth following. He is a highly intelligent man and would certainly have my vote in a few years' time. If you don't know who Kwarteng is, he'll be announcing a 'mini budget' today at Westminster. He should be worth watching.

p.s. I recently championed Penny Mordaunt for the position of Prime Minister, but this wasn't to be. However, many will have seen her performing her duties as Lord President of the Council of Great Britain during the proclamation ceremony for the new King. She has received widespread praise for her performance. I still think she would have made a more interesting PM than Ms Truss.

Thursday, 22 September 2022

Reality Bloody Shows.


First it was the Great British Bake off; cake making. Then we had The Great British sewing show, then jewellery, then singing, then dancing, then cookery, then so-called 'celebrity' versions of all these shows.

Now I see that we have a new Great British Furniture making show, and one can but wonder where it will end.

Some while ago I did suggest a 'Celebrity Bomb Disposal' show which I'm sure would have attracted huge audiences. Just imagine the tension as Diane Abbott or Ms Markle defuse huge bombs with shaking hands and sweaty brows. At home the TV audience would be heard shouting "Cut the red one" or "Cut the blue one" depending on how soon they wish to see them blown to pieces. Audience numbers would be through the roof.

Wednesday, 21 September 2022

Russian Hi-tech.


I was amused to see President Putin on the lunchtime news programme today, sitting by the side of his hot-line telephones. As usual he was plotting to kill us all. It seems that the war against Ukraine is all our fault.


Anyway, I'm pleased to see that Russia is catching-up with modern communication technology.

If you wish to emulate Putin, I found a similar telephone on Ebay for £23 (below). It is described as 'Post Office Vintage'. If it's good enough for Putin, it's good enough for Corbyn everyone.


 

My Morning Toast.


I often find breakfasts problematical. I actually spend time before getting-up in the mornings thinking/worrying about what I should have. In an ideal world I would eat fried egg and bacon every morning, but I do try to limit myself.

Whilst shopping yesterday I forgot to buy my usual week's supply of bacon; possibly because I was distracted by a jar of Sandwich Spread beckoning to me from a distant shelf. 


The last time I bought Sandwich Spread was in France about three years ago. It was very yellow, and had tasted 'not quite right'. I noticed on the label that it had been made in Holland, so I don't think that Heinz had given them the correct recipe.

My liking (I almost wrote love) for this product dates back to my days at Prep' School where SS sandwiches were brought out to hungry young cricket or tennis players at teatime; they were very soon consumed. I didn't then encounter the product again for several decades.

I eat my morning toast with all sorts of toppings. Marmite, Marmalade, Anchovies, green Pesto, St Agur, etc, I have no firm favourite. I certainly prefer savoury to sweet, but after that it's anyone's guess.

So, this morning it was the turn of Heinz Sandwich Spread. It fits the bill well. It's savoury, tastes quite nice (to my palate), and is quick and easy. As you might see from the above photo, it was accompanied by a mug of coffee (Nescafé), and a glass of Beetroot Juice which for the past year or so has replaced some awful pills (Amlodipine) that made my legs and feet swell-up.

I'm not sure if I would recommend Sandwich Spread for your breakfast, or indeed for anything else. It's an acquired taste and many might find it a bizarre choice. À chacun son goût.

N.B. Last year when I ordered a repeat prescription from my Doctor, I told him that I didn't want any more Amlodipine tabs; he asked why. I explained about my legs and told him that a Witch Doctor in Norfolk had told me to drink Beetroot juice instead. He laughed and said that I had a very wise Witch Doctor. Doctors are not always right, but he was on this occasion!  

 

Tuesday, 20 September 2022

A Favourite Tree.


I have several very favourite trees, and this is one.


I don't actually know what variety it is, but it's a magnificent specimen.

It stands very close to our nearby church front door, forming a wonderful umbrella shape over a perfectly positioned bench.

In the Summer it gives shade, and in Autumn/Winter it protects from rain. I have myself sheltered under its branches, and I can assure that it does a very good job.

Unfortunately, I was unable to take a photo that shows its protective qualities. It's a big tree and spreads its thick foliage to protect a large area. 

Its leaves are the shape of a Chestnut's, but it isn't one. Maybe someone with a good knowledge of British trees can have a close look and make a suggestion.

On the morning of 16th October 1987, after an uninterrupted sleep, I woke to find that the churchyard was awash with huge fallen trees. The 'Great Storm' had felled some of the biggest trees by the church and elsewhere. Luckily this one remained upright. I had slept through the whole disaster.




Monday, 19 September 2022

Goodbye Ma'am.


This is our final goodbye, and I for one will really miss you. 

You may be gone, but you'll never be forgotten. The end of an amazing era. 



Sunday, 18 September 2022

What a lovely surprise.



We've not lived within stone-throwing distance of our children since they flew the nest in their late teens. They've been all over the world rather than within a short distance of chez nous.


But recently that has changed and we now have my oldest living just a few hundred yards away. 

I hope you can imagine my pleasure when recently, at about 7.30am, I came out of the park after my early morning Billy-emptying walk, and bumped into a panting Kimbo half way through his morning jog.

"Hello" a voice had said behind me. Yes it was he! What a lovely surprise. I suddenly had a warm fuzzy feeling that we were 'at home'.

Saturday, 17 September 2022

Shock Horror!

 

I suppose I've been drinking alcohol since I was about 15; probably even earlier. Even my study at school was rarely without a bottle of cheap British Sherry.

After school I drank beer; mostly at lunchtimes. 

On moving to France, I, of course, drank red wine. Our evening meals have not been served without red wine for 50 years. I'm not a big drinker, but I always thought of wine as being as important as the Lamb chop, Steak, or Pasta that accompanied it.

However, quite recently I decided to give-up my alcohol drinking (I'm on week 3). I have one or two minor health issues and I'd wondered if they might be being worsened by my evening consumption of wine. Having stopped, the only difference I've noticed is that my blood pressure has definitely dropped, which I suppose is a good thing.

I've always been a strong-willed person, so stopping after all these years has not been difficult. There is a slight feeling of 'what do I do now' when the clock strikes six-o-clock, but I always find something.

My abstinence is not 100%, I shall drink one or two glasses with my Sunday Roast; not to do so would be irreverent, but other than that, nothing.

For the moment I see no return to Pétrus or Ch' Cheval Blanc on a regular basis. I'm perfectly happy with Lemon juice or even a diet Coke. And, with the economies we'll all soon have to face, I shall probably save myself about £40 a week at my wine merchant.

Other than losing the pleasure that wine drinking brought, I can only see my move as a win/win situation.

I've just seen an advert on TV advising folk to 'Go Sober this October'; I simply started a month in advance.


Friday, 16 September 2022

My first Dog.


We didn't name him; he came second-hand.

Hamlet was bought by some students at Leeds market for 5 Shillings. Firstly he went to live in London but the family were out all day and he ate their shoes.

Next he went down to their country house in Surrey where they had several other dogs. He didn't seem to fit in with the others too well and they ate all his food. It was at this stage of his life that our paths crossed. It was mentioned that he was up for adoption. I told them I was interested.


I took him for a long walk to see how he felt about me, we seemed to get along fine. I was unable to take him with me, so arranged to pick him up the following day.

Unfortunately, as I was driving away Hamlet ran under my car and he suffered a broken leg. It was a nasty break which required a metal plate. Unfortunately again, there was a postal strike on at the time, and the Vet' couldn't get the right sized plate, so used a bigger one.

All went well, but Hamlet's front right leg forever pointed sideways a bit. Still, he was OK. My bank balance suffered to the tune of about £100; a fortune for a penniless Art Student in about 1970, but he was worth it.

In 1973 Hamlet moved with us to France. He had the run of the countryside, children to play with, and everything a 25p black-n-tan mutt could desire. He was in heaven.

Sadly he also had 'desires' and occasionally he would disappear in search of a Chienne; often joining a group of other males on the same quest. This led to his downfall; after one vicious fight he limped home with his throat seriously damaged; after a second fight years later he did not recover. I'd been called away to England at the time and had left him with a friend. I returned too late for his burial, so had been unable to say adieu.

Hamlet was a lovely Dog; one I'll never forget. He was funny looking, full of fun, and as loving as a Dog could be. Above is a drawing of him asleep on the floor. I keep it on my desk.

Thursday, 15 September 2022

Cars.

 

Whilst currently in the market for a new (s/h) car, I was thinking hard about what my preference would be if I had plenty of money, as well as easy access to a garage that could service it on a regular basis.

I finally came up with the classic Land Rover Defender. That rugged four-wheel drive metal box that conquered the world.


I have never actually driven one, but I've been a passenger many times. They are uncomfortable, noisy, and thirsty; and they are not actually particularly reliable.

However, they have spawned more copies than I could mention; they were a world leader of their type. Almost every manufacturer worldwide now makes its own version of the Land Rover, from Dacia to Porsche. A big chunky 4 by 4 is now an essential part of every carmaker's stable. In fact most manufacturers are now making a superior model to the Defender meaning that Land Rover themselves ditched the model a few years back, and concentrated on the more reliable 'Sport', 'Evoque', models, etc.

Our late Queen was a fan, police services the world over used them, and they were the vehicle of choice for most armed forces. Farmers, of course, would never have been seen without one, coupled to a Rice trailer.

The Defender was classless, tireless, and faithful. I can remember once going to a cattle auction in North Shropshire where the entire car park was filled with the Land Rover/Rice horse box combination. It was almost as if it was a meeting of enthusiasts.

I shan't be buying one as, other than for my weekly shopping trips, I need to make a 700-mile journey twice a year, and in a Defender my buttocks might fall off. 100 miles in a Defender is probably as much as any human backside could stand!

It should be noted that here in Brighton every other car is either a newer Land Rover or Range Rover; it is the social-climbing car of choice. Locals seem to think that they are the ideal urban runabout. NO they're not; they should all be driving Minis.

N.B. Actually you can still buy a brand new Defender in the guise of an Ineos Grenadier, which is an exact copy of the Land Rover; produced I imagine under some design agreement.

Tuesday, 13 September 2022

Rationing?


Now that we are told that we must tighten our belts this Winter, I am already trying to spend less and budget more. I have scanned the pages of my well-worn WI Wartime Cookery Book for economical recipes and am already prepared for a Winter of powdered eggs, thin gruel, and stale bread (if we can find any).

Regular readers will know that I am a big fan of Breast of Lamb. It must be the tastiest cut of Lamb, and it is also probably the cheapest. Yesterday I bought this whole (halal) Breast below, which cost just £3.99 from my favourite shop 'Taj'.


I have already cut it into three pieces, and they are now in the freezer. Within the next few weeks we shall eat an Irish Stew, a Lamb Tajine with Couscous, and probably BBQ some as 'chops' with a few Merguez sausages. 

Each dish will be reliant on plenty of vegs, appropriate spices, and a desire to make something delicious out of very few cheap ingredients. All proof that with some care one can eat very well for very little.

It's just over two weeks since we returned to England, and my freezer is already well stocked. We shall not starve.

Monday, 12 September 2022

An honest salesman/woman.


I spent this past week in permanent pain. It started with a stiff neck and became a really nasty migraine. The only thing I could think of was PILLS, and more pills. I couldn't move my head, and sleeping was impossible.

I had taken the last of my Super-Dooper-Neurofen tabs, and was desperate for more, so I went at once to Boots (a large UK pharmacy chain). 


I asked the nice lady for a big pack of her finest Mega-Fast-Acting-Neurofen and was quoted a price of about £15 for a pack of 32. When I gasped with shock/horror she advised me that instead I should buy their own label Ibuprofen tabs which were on offer at 45p for 16. If I bought two packs for less than £1, she assured me that it would produce EXACTLY the same result as having bought one large pack of Neurofen. She said they contained EXACTLY the same thing. She also advised me NEVER to buy such branded products.

It's very refreshing to find a salesperson who was so honest, and I told her how much I appreciated her advice. If you are a shareholder in Neurofen I make no apologies; I shall never buy them again.

So, I had saved myself £14. I then needed to do a small amount of shopping at M & S which came to just under £10 which I considered to have been FREE, with another £4 remaining in my pocket for later.

The pain has now subsided thank goodness. I have no idea what it was, or what brought it on. I have no idea either if the pain killers helped, but at least there was some placebo effect.

N.B. Boots Ibuprofen tabs (above) modelled by Alphonse!

 

Sunday, 11 September 2022

A slice of home.




Before leaving for Blighty, Lady M gathered a few Bramley apples. We had a huge crop this year, and it seemed silly not to bring a few back.

I think I've mentioned before that Lady M has an Olympic gold medal in Tarte Tatin making, and the one above would probably have also been mentioned in despatches.

Any pie-makers out there who have not yet made a Tarte Tatin should do so immediately; it is by far the very best apple pie there is. Once eaten, never forgotten. Just be careful when you turn it over... which is why Lady M always asks me to do it. Hot syrup burns.

Go for the standard original recipe; it's the best and cannot be improved.

 

Saturday, 10 September 2022

Nothing changes.


Yesterday morning it was raining, so I grabbed some long trousers and my almost unused Barbour for my early wet sortie with Billy

The only pair of long trousers I have here probably haven't been worn for about five years, and I was amused to find that they came fully equipped with handkerchief and ancient shopping list. I love lists, and it was the list that amused me mostly because it could almost have been one from yesterday; my habits obviously don't change that much. The trousers went into the wash on my return from the park.

On top of the list Lady M demanded Finish Dishwasher Tabs, the rest was all mine. Chilli sauce, a couple of bags of frozen McCain Oven Chips, some Paté, and things for making Pizza; a readymade base, and some Mozzarella.


Then onto the meat dep't where I wanted strips of Belly Pork, Chorizo, and Merguez for the BBQ, and Bacon for my breakfast. It must have been Summer.

We must also have had a good crop of Raspberries at the time as it's only then when I buy Jam Sugar. 

'Green Bog' refers to that stuff one squirts into the loo, and Lemon refers to unsweetened Lemon Juice which I drink diluted with my lunch.

However, I wouldn't be at all surprised if I came back with a lot more than just the above; I usually do.

 

Friday, 9 September 2022

H M The Queen


I was just a slip of a lad when Her Majesty the Queen succeeded to the throne in June of 1953. She has been my Queen and matriarch ever since.

I've never had the pleasure of meeting her in person, but I have seen her several times from a short distance. Mostly she has been that image on stamps or bank notes; a permanent figurehead who always appeared on special occasions, and on whom one could depend to represent her country and subjects with impeccable dignity and decorum. She was the one Head of State that Leaders the world over wished to meet. 


Her Majesty has always been non-political and neutral on all subjects. She has been the one important figurehead on whom one could always rely. Charles will now need to follow her example, and keep his more controversial opinions to himself, regardless of how sensible they may be. His eco-warrior credentials must from now on be kept under wraps.

70 years of unfailing service and duty to her country, and her subjects, is a record that will never be bettered, and I thank her for that service. I feel honoured to have been here throughout her reign, and to have also been around during the reigns of both King George VI her father, and the future King Charles III her son.

Her reign was sadly marred by a wayward son and a couple of wayward consorts, but she herself caused not a single upset, and a new reign can begin without an iota of past embarrassment or scandal. A remarkable legacy.

The Queen is dead, Long live The King.

 

Thursday, 8 September 2022

Mid-day, 7. 9. 22.

 

Today (yesterday) is a pivotal day in UK politics. It represents the transition from Johnson to Truss, and today is her first real test as new Prime Minister.

Every Wednesday at noon the leader of the opposition (and a few others) has about 30 minutes to ask questions directly to the PM. Known as PMQ's, it is the weekly sparring between Conservatism and Marxism, and is the showcase for the policies of both sides.

It must be said that Liz Truss is slightly lacklustre; she has little of Boris's forceful character, wit, or even knowledge. She is a politician above all and will answer her questioning logically, but without much humour. On the opposite bench Sir Kier Starmer is bland, uninspiring, and totally out of touch with what makes UK Plc tick. He isn't a difficult opponent.

I watched with great interest. We all knew that it was at this moment when Truss needed to set-out her policy for the next year or two. It was also at this very moment when her, and the Conservative party's, future would be decided. She needed to be honest, tough, and inspiring.

She was OK; that's as far as I'd go. She falters in her delivery and doesn't seem to be able think far enough ahead. As is usual for every Tory PM, she did try to teach the opposition about the folly of 'Tax and Spend', but they never listen. Every Labour government has ended a term in office with very high unemployment and the country's finances in an awful mess; you'd think they'd try to learn. 

Liz needs to be cautious. She has sacked all Rishi's supporters from their previously held positions and could well be building an enemy camp on the back benches. Her first speech on Tuesday afternoon outside No 10 was uninspiring but to the point. That morning Boris had made his farewell speech from the same podium with entertainment humour and gusto; a very different performance to that of Truss. She desperately needs lessons in public speaking!

Liz was president of the Oxford University Lib-Dem club whilst at Merton, but we'll try to forget about that! I couldn't help thinking that she has replaced a formidable leader and will need to make a lot more effort. If her own party treated Boris as they did, I can only imagine what they'll do with Truss if she shows weakness. 

Wednesday, 7 September 2022

What's the most fun you've ever had?


Like most young men, I've done some pretty whacky things in my time. Being an Art Student for five years certainly helped.

I started thinking about my 'best times' a few days ago, and several things went through my mind. Encounters with famous people, last minute decisions to fly off to Paris and elsewhere, and my (unsuccessful) rowing exploits being amongst the favourites.

But I was looking for something that I'd classify as the MOST fun, AND the most memorable. 

In about1985, my oldest (Kimbo) and I went off to Kos for a 2-week beach holiday. We stayed in a quiet, rather eccentric 'hotel', and ate at beachside tavernas; exactly what one does on small Greek islands. Sea, Sun, and Squid during the daytimes, and Moussaka, Retsina and Sleep in the evenings. The perfect way to unwind away from the tedium of everyday life elsewhere.

One evening we took a private boat ride out to a tiny island for a BBQ; I think there were about 8 of us in all. We swam in crystal clear waters, dined on roasted Lamb, and returned to the 'mainland' in pitch dark and choppy waters. A rather attractive young lady clung on to my knee throughout the return journey; she explained that there was nothing else for her to hold on to (ahem). 

It was one of those magical evenings that can never be repeated. I've been to plenty of wonderful evening village dances, BBQs, and parties, but nothing compares to that very special (and almost exclusive) evening spent on an exquisite sandy cove on a miniscule island in the Aegean Sea. The scenery, the swimming, the food, the slight danger, and the cool scented night air, were the making of a totally memorable evening.

I don't suppose I'll do anything like that again. A dodgy back, dodgy hips, dodgy legs, and a dodgy knee, all suggest that my pleasures will, in future, be taken closer to home. 


Tuesday, 6 September 2022

We Worried


We worried about the price of wine, but we have not deprived ourselves, nor suffered financial hardship. Our small nightly consumption has remained the same, and possibly even improved in standard.

We worried about catching (and dying of) Covid, but this hasn't happened. Our neighbours on both sides have been ill, but somehow the virus has not traversed the walls. We still hear of the occasional case but in general, although we hear of the rising number of cases, the panic seems to be over.

We worried about Billy acclimatising to life again in England, but without cause. He loves it here and has become a well loved member of the Canine Community. Everywhere we go people shout 'Hello Billy'.

We worried about not being in easy reach of open spaces, but we have rediscovered plenty. Other than the two nearby parks, we also often head for the early morning calm of the beach. Even in a bustling city there is room for quiet contemplation somewhere or other. Having a dog makes one explore!

We worried about whether our old friends would remember us, but of course they did.

We worried about losing access to our favourite charcuterie, and with reason. There is no question that the charcuterie counter at my supermarket in France knocks spots off anything here. As far as I can see, Bacon and Pork Pies are the only regularly bought preserved Pork products. Imported slices of ham in vacuum packs do not, in my mind, constitute 'charcuterie'.  

Methinks we did worry too much.

Monday, 5 September 2022

Donatello's.

 

It is no exaggeration to say that Donatello's is a major Brighton Institution.


Opened back in 1987, it has increased in size and reputation ever since. When we went this last Saturday evening it was heaving with eager clients. Even though we had booked a table we were obliged to wait for about 15 minutes for that table to become available. It was a beautiful warm evening and 'The Lanes' was buzzing.

The restaurant itself is on three floors. I believe it seats about 300 diners and has a staff of over 100. On a busy night (like Saturday) each table probably has three successive lots of diners and continues well into the night. Tables also spill outside onto the small busy square beyond.

We ate and drank liberally, and everything was of an extremely high standard. We started with a simple Tomato bruschetta, and a couple of plates of Calamaris. Our main courses were the reason for going, they offer Mussels in a creamy white wine sauce (Cozze marinara) as a starter, but my son (Kimbo) being a man of impeccable taste ordered it as a main course for each of us, the servings having been trebled in size. It was really delicious. A variety of decadent deserts finished off a superb meal. We drank both pink and red wines.

Rarely have I visited a restaurant where the staff work so hard and efficiently. Everything was perfect.

When you next visit Brighton (which I presume you will very soon) it is worth remembering the name Donatello's. Mid-week you might possibly get a table without booking, but at the weekend no chance.

For four hungry and appreciative diners the cost was under £150. No complaints there.

Verdict: 10/10. I should mention that whilst mid-meal someone somewhere started singing 'Happy Birthday', and the whole 300 diners joined in.... it was a superb moment.

Sunday, 4 September 2022

A few ideas for Sunday Lunch. Bons vivants à Saint-Chinian


Vincent and Arthur never fail to surprise me. 

Here they are accompanied by some Argentinians or Mexicans (not sure which) a little to the South of chez Cro, 'snacking' on a whole Tuna, a whole Lamb, and what looks like several Piglets, I'm sure I only counted a dozen guests; just don't show this video to any Veggie friends.

Mon Dieu!


Saturday, 3 September 2022

TV.

 

I'm not very keen on TV. I would never watch Love Island, Coronation St, EastEnders, etc. In fact my choice of viewing is very limited.

However, I do have a plug-in device that has all sorts of quite interesting programmes/films/etc downloaded onto it, and over recent weeks I've watched all the different series of Rick Stein's culinary travels, and had just begun to watch the Two Greedy Italians series, with Carluccio and Contaldo. There's something about the combination of life-style, history, travel, and food, that really appeals to me.

I say I've 'watched' these programmes, but in fact I've probably more 'snoozed' through most of them than paid attention. I tend to turn-on the TV after lunch to accompany my siesta. I don't watch much else.

Carluccio and Contaldo are a very amusing couple of 'cooks'. If you like Italy, like Italian food, and like a good laugh; then this series could be for you. You also learn quite a bit about Italian history en route.


Friday, 2 September 2022

Vitamin Transfusion?


My son Kimbo mentioned this 'business' recently, and I could hardly believe what he was telling me. So as proof he sent me this photo.


I can't actually read what it says on the poster, so I was obliged to visit their web site.

They offer two different services to the weary shopper. Firstly simple vitamin injections at a paltry £30 to £60, and secondly intravenous drips which are a tad more expensive.

For £225 you can have an IV 'anti-ageing' drip, or for the same amount of money a 'fitness' drip, or for a staggering £850 you can be IV fed with just about every vitamin known to mankind.

Whether or not these non-medical drips do any good is a matter of conjecture, but the very idea of a shopping centre offering quasi-medical procedures to increase your well-being is bizarre. The above was photographed at Westfield in London.  

'More money than sense' comes to mind. Whatever next!

 

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