Monday, 31 January 2022

Seen on Sunday.


What a beautiful sunny day it was yesterday; so we took Billy to the beach.

En route I spotted this van; a couple of rogues, if ever I saw them!


Ice cream on a warm Sunday afternoon; what better, even if giant and fiberglass.


Something to do with Football; not sure what.


Demonstrating the power of Oak tree roots, even the ancient wall yields. It's been like that as long as I can remember.


Sunday, 30 January 2022

Not everything goes well in Shangri-La.

 


Yesterday morning, whilst walking with Billy, I experienced the first real act of aggression from both dogs, and their owners; not something one expects in our usually extremely peaceful, and friendly, 'Rest Park'.

Two men were walking with their dogs, both of which were off leads. The men were both of similar ages (around 35), and both had smallish dogs; one black, the other brown.

Suddenly I heard terrific growling and barking as the brown dog attacked the black one. The owner of the black dog kicked out at the brown one, whose owner rushed towards where they were fighting, and prized them apart.

Owner of brown dog then started shouting and swearing at the owner of the black dog for having kicked his dog. Owner of black dog shouted back 'your effing dog was attacking mine, what do you effing expect me to do'; etc, etc. I'll spare you the worst of it.

The argument escalated to where fists were proffered, and pugilistic stances adopted. Luckily a lady dog-walker stepped in, and the two men parted whilst still effing and blinding at each other as they walked away. For a moment I thought they were going to begin throwing punches; it was quite dramatic.

I witnessed all this from a distance of about 30 metres. Never a dull moment, eh?

Saturday, 29 January 2022

The work continues.


Victorian terraced houses are all very much alike. Inside the long narrow entrance hall is an arch, usually supported by two acanthus leaf corbels. The first room you come to is the sitting room, often called 'the front room' (below), behind which is a family room.

Downstairs is the kitchen and dining room, and upstairs are three or four bedrooms, bathrooms, etc. Half way down the stairs to the kitchen there is usually a door out to the 'garden'. They have high ceilings and big windows. They usually follow this pattern everywhere; or something very similar.


Now that the house we're living in has been finished, for the past couple of weeks we've been concentrating on the other bigger one.

Walls needed to be painted, holes filled, and doors fixed. Not a big job, but it all takes time. The whole house has now been painted, some repairs made, but we still have bathrooms and kitchens to replace, some new electrical wiring, and new carpets need to be laid. Give it another few weeks and it'll all be hunky-dory.  These things don't take long; just some hard work, and a few quid!!

It's a nice 'family' house, which I bought back in about 1985. I didn't get to see much of the interior of the house before I bought it, as the previous owner had let rooms to foreign students; and there were people sleeping EVERYWHERE. Still, I think my decision was good. The road is an 'owner-occupier' road (not often the case in central Brighton), and as such very community minded and friendly.

The Railway Station is a leisurely five minutes walk away (1 hr to Victoria), and the sea about ten minutes. It's a quiet road with St Nicholas Church at the South end, and all major shops within easy reach. You couldn't get more central than that!

We're not certain yet as to its future, but we have ideas. Watch this space.

Friday, 28 January 2022

This must never be forgotten.


This must never be forgotten; even by those who support the terrorist movement Hamas, or by all those who continue to attack Israel.

Yesterday was the UK's Holocaust Memorial Day, and amazingly on the eve of this important day, two Jewish shop-owners were randomly attacked in London's Stamford Hill. This vile anti-Semitism continues.


It continues on our streets, in Football clubs, and in political parties. It is something that I have never understood, nor wish to. To attack, or kill, people simply because of their religion is a heinous crime.

An 18 year old, Malaki Thorpe, has been arrested, and charged with the assault.



 

Thursday, 27 January 2022

What is Brighton?


For those who don't know, Brighton is dirty weekends by the sea, naughty postcards on the pier, kiss me quick hats, Brighton rock, students, The Grand and The Metropole hotels, wonderful small shops, mods-n-rockers, restaurants of all nationalities by the thousand, pebbles on the beach, seagulls that steal your chips, The Royal Pavilion, The Lanes, several universities, and lots of fun.


There are fabulous Georgian crescents, one of the biggest marinas in Europe, a lively gay/lesbian scene, some of the best clubs and pubs around, Chris Eubank (the boxer) hanging around street corners, antique shops, the sea (of course), and a generous sprinkling of celebs.


It's also home to artists (too many), actors, commuters, a few fishermen, scoundrels, wide-boys, thinkers, writers, eccentrics, loonies, dope-heads, and lots and lots of extremely nice interesting people. 

We have foxes, seagulls, pigeons, crows, blackbirds, starlings, lots of dogs, robins, magpies, and no doubt a few rats.

On Sundays at 10am, the campanologists ring a peel of seven bells from the nearby tower of St Nicholas Church. Lovely.


The Pavilion is, of course, Brighton's cherry on the cake, but it really isn't our only attraction. Just walking around The Lanes or The North Laine, is an experience in itself. Never a dull moment.

We have a premier league football club (No 9 in the league), which means occasional rowdy behaviour from visiting teams' supporters, in September we have the fabulous annual Speed Trials along Madeira Drive by the sea, we have superb theatre and music venues, and we have constant ozone-filled fresh air from the channel. There's also a top class racecourse. 

Frankly, I'm surprised that the whole of the UK doesn't live here; but I'm quite happy that they don't!

Wednesday, 26 January 2022

Here they go again. The Lower IVth Form on manoeuvres


Their spelling may not be perfect, but the sentiment is fine! This, below, has suddenly appeared near to where I live.


However, not everyone agrees, and people from France, Germany, and other EU countries converged on Brussels last weekend to show how frightfully clever they are.

About 50,000 unmasked 'protestors' made their feelings known, that they didn't wish to be protected from Covid-19. Instead they wished to throw missiles, smash windows, launch grenades, mingle in large groups, and generally make themselves a bloody nuisance.


Belgium currently has an infection rate of about 60,000 cases a day; one of the worst in the EU. One might have thought it more sensible that these people stay at home, wear a mask when in crowds, and show an inkling of common sense.

Instead, this group of numpties are still behaving like naughty children, spreading the virus around, pretending to be concerned for 'freedom', and attacking the Police as if it's all their fault.

I think there should be a cold isolated island somewhere for such people, where they can live the life they preach, make and keep their own laws, and cope with the inevitable results. It would make compelling 'reality TV', and we could all snigger as we watched the chaos. They could even elect Piers Corbyn to be their King (or 'Supreme Leader of the Workers Collective Island of Nonvaxxia').

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

City 'Pocket Gardens'.


A lot of urban dwellers don't have a cat, let alone somewhere to swing it (the 'cat' being a cat-o-nine-tails, not the purring kind). 

We have two 'gardens', one with each house. Both are tiny, but both are essential to city life; not unlike a garage; of which we only have one!


Without them we would have nowhere to take our afternoon Tea and Battenberg when it's warm enough, nor would we have anywhere to hang-out the washing.

The one above is really TINY, it has just enough room for a few plants, a couple of tacky chairs, and a bird's nesting box. We have to keep pots, etc, to a minimum, otherwise the area would become completely unusable.


The 'garden' at the other house had become rather jungle-like and overgrown; very nice in its own way, but the plants/trees were occupying too much space so I've just cut it all back and it's now usable again. When the children were small, we used it a lot. We ate out there often, and I've even held BBQ's there in the rain. There is a huge Yucca plant (tree) that has ventured onto next-door's terrace, so that will need to be severely pruned.

I like this little space, it has a lovely atmosphere. It always feels comfortable. A green oasis in the centre of the city.


It's a good thing that I enjoy gardening; even on a postage stamp scale. It's just a shame that there's nowhere to plant a few Tomatoes, or some Spuds.

Monday, 24 January 2022

I am speechless.


Imagine that you are one of a pair of twins, born into a noble family, in a French chateau.

You are good-looking, intelligent, popular, and healthy; then something goes on inside your head, and you decide to change your physical appearance, not for the better but for the bizarre. Although it has to be said that they both deny having undergone any plastic surgery.


From having looked as you were above, you later become as below. That is the story of the Igor and Grichka Bogdanoff brothers. 

Sadly, they were also committed anti-vaxxers, who both died of Covid within a week of each other earlier this month 


I cannot pretend to understand anything at all about people's obsessive decisions to change their looks or physique by the 'knife'. Of course, theirs were their own decisions, and as such must be respected, but I can't help wondering if, on their death beds, they didn't wonder if it had been unwise.

Please don't think this is just criticism; it's not. It's just that I totally fail to understand fellow male human beings, only a few years younger than myself, thinking the way they did! They had everything most people dream of. Maybe you can enlighten me.

 

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Cafe Polski - The Romantic Card


A bit of British humour for a cold Winter Sunday morning. Enjoy.


Saturday, 22 January 2022

Very Disappointed!


I needed a couple of new kitchen knives, so I've just popped into town to buy some.

I bought two Taylor's Eye Witness kitchen knives, one a paring knife, the other a chef's knife.


So, why are you so disappointed, Cro, I hear you asking.

Well, no-one asked me if I was over 18. Frankly I was shocked!

A Question of Mud.


The below is less than a 50 yards away from our house, but I'd never noticed it before yesterday.

Boot scrapers in town are a reminder of when the roads were no more than muddy tracks. To remove all that mud from your shoes before entering the house was essential.


We had a bed delivered yesterday, and the two men who kindly took it upstairs for me both removed their shoes. Our brand new stair carpet joined me in saying 'thank you'.

Boot scrapers are a thing of the past. Not so long ago almost all homes had one outside the front door; either free standing, or fixed like the one above. At my people's Shropshire home there was a fine Victorian example, that I used regularly. 

With my Dog-walking park becoming muddier by the day, I rather wish I had one here!

I wonder if the owner of the one above ever actually uses it?

Addendum: I've just remembered that we have this integrated boot scraper (below) at the other house.



Friday, 21 January 2022

From Rock or Doc to Rev.


I'd forgotten what a very good record this was. The Communards version of the Jackson 5 song.

Two man gay band The Communards consisted of little Jimmy Somerville and Richard Coles. Somerville (previously with Bronski Beat) is the singer with the high-pitched voice, and Coles is the bespectacled keyboard player. 


After the two parted ways, Coles went on to study theology, and is now The Rev Richard Coles; Vicar and TV personality. He's come a long way since his Communards days. Somerville, I believe, is still singing.

An old friend of mine did something similar. Paul Nener was a brilliant doctor/surgeon. He was part of a team that operated on President Lyndon B Johnson during his presidency. Later he quit medicine to become The Rev Canon Paul Nener. I think he works/ed in the Liverpool area, near to where he had studied medicine alongside my cousin Stephen. They were both very much straight-A students, and both became brilliant Doctors..

I have never understood this desire to change one's profession, whether it be from musician or surgeon, to become a priest. To most of us it is plainly obvious that gods, devils, virgin births, etc, are all 'fairy stories', and for someone to suddenly alter their whole way of life, in order to perpetuate those myths is unimaginable.

However, here were two such examples.


Thursday, 20 January 2022

Wykeham Terrace

 

Brighton is best-known for The Royal Pavilion, The Palace Pier, and possibly The Lanes, but there are many lesser known delights that are worthy of a mention.

This lovely old terrace of 12 'Alms Houses' is at the bottom of the path leading down from our church, about 250 metres from chez nous.

They were reputedly built to house local 'Ladies of the Night', and at one stage were named 'St Mary's Home for Female Penitents'. The ladies were trained to become domestic servants, and of course to 'behave themselves'. These days they are extremely desirable freehold properties.


I apologise for my awful photo. In reality it's much longer in each direction than the picture suggests. The gate was closed; I couldn't take a better one!

The terrace is always beautifully maintained, which I imagine must be contracted into each house ownership. As far back as I can remember they have always been painted in grey with white detailing.

The terrace was built in 1830 in this lovely Strawberry Hill, Tudor/Gothic style; whereas most of Brighton is either Georgian Victorian or Edwardian.


Dame Flora Robson lived there, and I do remember saying a regular 'mornin squire' to Sir Roy Strong when he was in residence. I've also been told that singer Adam Faith lived there, but there's no plaque to confirm. I haven't yet seen a familiar face there since our return.

Very 'grown-up' accommodation. They don't come on the market very often, but who would blame someone quitting Central London, and swapping it for one of these.

Below is how it looked in 1850; complete with part of St Nicholas churchyard.


Wednesday, 19 January 2022

Product Test... POT NOODLES.


Pot noodles are a thing of legend, not unlike Turkey Twizzlers, or deep-fried Mars bars. I had never eaten one, and I must say, this was not something I was particularly looking forward to.

However, I do buy those packets of Chinese Ramon noodles which come with flavourings etc, so I imagined this wouldn't be too different. But, with the one's I buy I never follow the instructions; I always use a good chicken stock, and use my own spices, etc. I only use the noodles; in France they cost about €1.50 for five packs. Very cheap.

With this product, I decided to follow the instructions to the letter; and I did. Pull-back the foil top, remove the 'flavour sachet' (Soy), fill with boiling water, replace lid, and wait for 2 mins before adding the contents of the sachet. I was then told to wait another 2 mins before enjoying 'my wildest dreams' Chicken and Mushroom flavoured noodles. 

Verdict: Totally INEDIBLE. 100% nauseating. Unpleasant in all respects. Only fit for the dustbin. My 'wildest nightmare' came true.

If students really do survive on eating these things almost exclusively, it doesn't say much for the gastronomical taste of our current stock of 'bright young things'.

Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Do I really need a Car?



Whilst we still have the luxury (burden) of homes in two different countries (one friendly; one antagonistic), I suppose the realistic answer to my question is 'yes'. 

However, if my gallivanting days were to be over, and I was restricted to life only in the UK, I think that answer would be very different.

One of the first 'administrative' things I did on my return to England last October, was to apply for a Bus Pass. I had to wait for several weeks before it came through, but arrive it did. I also registered to vote.

Since receiving my card, I have only used it twice (which surprises me), but I certainly intend to use it a lot more. Free travel is a real bonus for those who wish to spread their wings; especially with my dodgy legs!

Realistically I have no need for a car. Everything I need here is either within easy walking distance, or a free bus ride away. When I wish to spend time in France I can fly from Gatwick to Bergerac, pick-up a hire car, and have no need for a car of my own. It would save a lot of time and money, and be one less thing to worry about.

I had my first car (white VW Beetle EBP323) when I was a student, and have not been without a car since. It would be a new experience not to have one; and to know that the garage was empty.

Actually, I find the idea rather appealing.

Monday, 17 January 2022

It was worth the wait.


A bijou Brighton home, demands a bijou Brighton kitchen, which is exactly what we now have. It may be very small, but it is fully equipped, tiled, and newly floored. We are happy.

As the cook of the family, I have never demanded a huge kitchen with various cookers, acres of work surfaces, Aga, islands, etc. That style of kitchen I entrust to those who never actually cook anything. 


The most basic kitchens I have ever seen were in France. Even in the grandest of homes, one still finds two ring portable gas cookers, ancient pressure cookers, and old free-standing ovens. The French cook will produce miracles on the most basic of kit!

We do have two 'luxuries'. One is a very good quality black Toshiba microwave oven, and the other a superb Haier fridge/freezer. Otherwise the rest of the kitchen is just of a good basic standard.


The tiler has now been and gone. His work was impeccable, and the tiles we chose have lived-up to our expectations. 

He left no mess, but he did leave the fronts of two double wall plugs hanging off. He couldn't put them back as the tile cement wasn't dry enough. First I had to buy four extra long screws (two for each), then spent about four hours trying to screw the bloody things back together again. Not easy, especially where they were positioned.

There is an old Greek proverb that says 'One minute of patience, ten years of peace'. We certainly needed to be patient with the workers, but the end was worth it.

So, with all work now finished, we let the Champagne flow, and toasted to our finally-completed kitchen. CHEERS.

 

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Round and About Yesterday Morning.


I had to pop into town for some special screws yesterday morning. En route I saw the following.

I'm not over-keen on this type of 'trashy graffiti', but I will make yet another exception for this one. If it was no more that 6ft square, I'd happily have it on my wall.

I imagine it's the result of years of overlaid scribblings.


This fence and gate caught my eye. Someone must have a pencil fetish.


And lastly, I couldn't resist this wonderful Pork Pie. It's home-made, hand-made, and desirable enough to make a grown man cry. It comes from a small artisanal shop down in The North Laine area of Brighton (The Brighton Sausage Co), which also sells a wonderful variety of sausages. A thing of beauty is a joy until after lunch!


Just look at that, they don't make better in Melton Mowbray itself. Need I tell you; it was superb. 

Saturday, 15 January 2022

Petrol.

 

I've been back in England since mid-October, and yesterday was the first time I'd put petrol in the car since my return.

Back in France I suppose I put-in about €50 every two weeks; and it seemed as if I hardly drove anywhere. Here I have just put-in £20 after THREE MONTHS, which means that my inner-city life style has saved me about £280 so far; equivalent to roughly the cost of three weeks shopping.

My wine bill has gone up, but the cost of bringing it home has reduced dramatically. Otherwise I haven't really noticed much difference in the cost of living between the two countries. If anything it's a little cheaper here, but that has nothing to do with petrol.


Friday, 14 January 2022

Muesli for Breakfast.


I'm really a fried egg and bacon sort of guy, but when I'm feeling virtuous I always revert to Muesli. That virtuosity has now returned, as a few extra post-Christmas pounds have recently been discovered.

When my first son was born we bought Dr Max Bircher-Benner's small book on child nutrition, and discovered the wonders of Oats; and of course his famous Muesli.

Look-up almost any grain, fruit, or vegetable, and you will find fanciful lists of health benefits; 'Helps prevent Heart problems and/or Cancer, reduces Cholesterol, and prevents Diabetes' being some of the most popular. Maybe they all do, but having read more about Oats than I care to admit, I am convinced that they are the world's No 1 healing food. It isn't for nothing that folk in the Scottish highlands survive almost exclusively on them (ahem).

Personally I like 'traditional' Muesli. I like to see what I'm eating, and I don't want anything to be messed with or made into clusters, and I certainly don't want added sugar. I buy the best supermarket Muesli I can find, then mix it 50/50 with extra plain rolled Oats (as above).

I can't claim that Muesli is as satisfying as a good fry-up, but it does make me feel virtuous. I'm convinced that, after a bowl-full, I can hear my body saying "Thank You".

With so many New Year resolutions about, I can see Muesli becoming my regular breakfast. I can almost feel those pounds falling off!

Thursday, 13 January 2022

A Nice Plate.


I was driving past a Sussex country Antique Shop near Pulborough, back in the late 1960's, and noticed that the forecourt was empty; so I stopped the car and went inside.

The first thing to catch my eye was this turquoise glazed platter. It looked back at me and said "Buy me, buy me". I did as ordered.


On the underside is stamped EYNSFORD inside a lozenge shaped surround. There are some potters 'ID squiggles' scratched into the clay, as well as the number 5 C


Unfortunately I can't find any reference to a studio pottery in Eynsford; which is near Sevenoaks in Kent. It's a shame because I'd love to know more about it; it's a stunningly beautiful plate.

Sadly it suffered slightly during the firing process, with a crack showing both front and back. This isn't a 'breakage'; just a firing fault. These things happen. I'd love to know when it was made, and by whom. I would roughly estimate it coming from the 1930's, but who knows!

It's good to be reunited with it again. It's now used mostly for keys, my TV-watching glasses, and other things that have no other natural home.

Wednesday, 12 January 2022

Tales from The Crypt.


I could write forever about the small park/churchyard where I go early each morning with Billy. It has become my 'away from home, home'.

Along the North perimeter are these '14 burial vaults', one has a wooden door and is used as a room for keeping gardening equipment, but the rest are sealed and (I presume) still contain the remains of the wealthy departed who could afford such luxury. 


Like most of Brighton, they are built of rubble (called Bungaroosh), and later cement rendered. With the passage of time they have seriously deteriorated, and the cheap construction methods are now laid bare for all to see.


They are built of bits of old brick, roughly rendered with a very grainy mix of fine pebbles from the beach mixed with some cement. The finish is a finer mix with plenty of decorative extras. Even in the state they're in, I think they look beautiful; maybe even more so than when they were first built in the 1840's. 


This picture above shows the pebble mortar mix used beneath the finished fa├žade (middle right in the second photo).


On the Southern perimeter are all the simpler gravestones (above), removed from their original positions and replanted in a long line along the boundary. This now makes the 'rest park' more accessible to dog walkers, picnickers, or sun worshippers, who appreciate the large open space of the lawns.

Lovely sunshine yesterday, but look how muddy everything's become over the past month or so. YUK!

Tuesday, 11 January 2022

Tony Benn’s 1998 speech on Iraq


I was never a great fan of Anthony Wedgwood-Benn; he wasn't known as 'The most dangerous man in Britain' for nothing.

However, he was a great 'parliamentarian', a great speech maker, and a man of enormous principle (not always in tune with forward thinking).

With Tony Blair's proposed knighthood still very much in the news, and over a million signatures already on a petition against it, I am posting this wonderful speech of Benn's from 1998, when the UK parliament was about to vote in support (or not) of Blair's disastrous attack on Iraq. 

Probably his best speech ever! Well worth listening to, and only 2 mins.


Monday, 10 January 2022

Trying to decide.



Shall we have the blue ones or the green ones? Or should we just go for white?

The pale green ones are nice, and would blend-in with the whole downstairs; a paler version of the back of Olive tree leaves. Maybe also with a hint of blue; or would that make it feel cold?


No, I think we should stick with the original decision, and go for the 'Paradise surf', but if they have it very slightly paler, and with a hint of creaminess, that would be perfect.

What about a green marble? No, we're not having that!

When's he coming? Tomorrow. Has his broken hand mended? Yes, I think so. Will he be able to work properly? It's only a two day job. I'll tell him 'no more boxing' until he's finished. OK.

So, have we decided?

I think so. Let's plump for 'Connemara mist'. I thought we'd ruled-out the Connemara. OK, we'll have 'Lady Marshbank' then. I'd thought we'd ruled that one out ages ago too. 

Why don't we simply write the names of all our favourites on bits of bloody paper, and put the whole bloody lot in a bloody hat? We could ask Billy to pick one.

Let's just decide on 'Paradise surf'; it's a nice name too!

Oh, all right then.

 

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Kimchi


I was saying to Lady Magnon "I cannot possibly die without having eaten some Kimchi".

Kimchi must have been the trendiest food of 2020/21. Here in Brighton there are Kimchi restaurants all over the place, and even my nearby small Sainsbury's now sells it in tins.

As far as I have always understood, it is a Korean delicacy made from Chinese Cabbage mixed with Radish, which is sliced, salted and laced with Chilli. It is then buried in huge pots and left to ferment. Sounds inviting doesn't it!


The one above is the Sainsbury's one. It was reasonably spicy hot, very red, and very tasty.

Lady Magnon didn't like it, but she only tasted a tiny amount; I shall insist that she tries some more. To me it tasted of wilted Chinese Cabbage, in a thin Harissa sauce. I rather liked it. In fact I shall go back to Sainsbury's to buy several more tins. Rather like the Chinese Mustard Greens in fragrant soy sauce that I mentioned previously, it will be good to have a plentiful stock of these in case of emergencies. I give it 9/10.


This (above) is what my conserves cupboard contains now (amongst many other exotic delights).

Another tick on the bucket list.
 

Saturday, 8 January 2022

What? Did I hear that correctly?

 

                           The Guilty are No Longer Guilty.
 

I love my native country, and like most born and bred Englishmen I am proud to call myself 'English'. But the poor old UK does have its really crazy moments.

I find life here very frustrating on occasions. Her widely-admired liberalism often goes beyond even what the most liberal of liberals would expect. We have witnessed three such examples this past week.

The outrage expressed on the news that Tony Blair is to receive a knighthood has been overwhelming; I myself could hardly believe it. I have no idea who recommended this odious man for such an honour, but they should be ashamed of themselves. He should be facing a war crimes tribunal, not being dubbed by Her Majesty. A Total disgrace. I have a feeling that he may decline the honour!

Others who did actually have their time in court this week were those who were caught and filmed tearing down a statue in Bristol. A group of four 'activists' were accused of criminal damage (which we all witnessed), yet were found to be not guilty. If this isn't a charter for criminal behaviour; I don't know what is! Had the judge found them 'guilty', given them a £1 fine, and told them to behave themselves in future, everyone would have been happy; but a 'not guilty' verdict was just plain wrong.

There is no question that these four 'activists' were guilty of pulling down a public statue, and ditching it in the sea. I don't think that any of them would deny that guilt. So, how the hell are they found not guilty? Occasionally the law really is an super-ass. Maybe the DPP will review matters, and we'll see them back in court; we cannot have one rule for the Woke Snowflakes, and another for the rest of us. 

And, as if that wasn't enough, we hear that the government is to follow the disastrous agricultural policy of the EU, and pay farmers to do nothing. They are to be offered nearly a £Billion to 're-wild' productive land, so that even more poor quality fruit and veg' can be imported from abroad. 

What the government SHOULD be doing, is to pay farmers a premium for producing more good quality home-grown food, in order to reduce unnecessary imports.

Let me explain a few things. Firstly the British public know what sort a man Blair is; and they don't want him knighted. The people also know when they see the law acting as a complete ass. They prefer to see the obviously guilty found 'guilty'. And lastly, urban Westminster bureaucrats should keep their grubby noses out of rural affairs; farmers know best about what to grow, how to grow it, and how to preserve good wildlife and reduce quantities of the bad. 

Back in France, right in front of our house, is a roughly two hectare, previously very productive, field that now grows nothing but Brambles for which the owner is handsomely paid. If that's what they really want over here, and to have to pay for it, then bloody good luck to them.

I'm well known for my occasional desperation. I despair yet again!

Friday, 7 January 2022

Anyone for Cocktails?


Do you drink Cocktails?

My oldest, Kimbo, has a travelling 'drinks cabinet' (a type of soft suitcase) in which he has everything required to make the most delicious cocktails. When visiting his dear Papa, he, of course, brings this 'cabinet' with him. 

Other than strange concoctions, juices, and mixers, it always contains several bottles of Champagne, various different Liqueurs, and a bag of Limes; as well as his late grandfather's silver cocktail shaker. He come's fully equipped.


When he asks something like "Have you any Angostura Bitters?", I know immediately that his latest discovery is on its way.

Personally I've never bothered with cocktails; I'm lazy, and like my tipples to come ready made. Pulling a cork is more my style, and, anyway, I don't possess all the paraphernalia. However, if one is prepared specially for me, I'm usually extremely happy; and K does prepare some stonkers.

We've had several different cocktails over the festive period. I usually ask what they're called, and never seem to get an answer. So, invariably they're called a Camel's bottom, or a Shag on the Beach, or even a Cro's Credential. Name's are hardly important, but inventing them is fun.

I now look forward to seeing his 'cabinet of curiosities' being taken from the boot of his car. I always know something interesting is inside just waiting to break out. He should be here this evening.
 
Maybe a 'Pink Pussy' or a 'Smack in the Eye, or even a 'Kimbo's Kaboodle'. They're all good, and they all have a kick; I tread carefully. 
 

Thursday, 6 January 2022

Hummus (Houmous).


I always make my own Houmous (Hummus), and I make it quite often; at least once a week. 

Unfortunately my handy little Moulinex liquidiser is in France, so I've had to revert to a stick blender and glass jar, which really doesn't work very well. 


I really needed my little Moulinex, so yesterday afternoon I visited Amazon. Without leaving the comfort of my chair, I was able to buy exactly what I wanted within about 3 mins, and the liquidiser arrived after less than 24 hrs (in an Amazon bag rather than box). It is the perfect size 'whizzer' to deal with a normal 400 gm can of Chick Peas. I feel fully-kitted again.

Houmous is not only extremely easy to make (especially if you have a small Liquidiser), but it also has certain health benefits. It contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, and is a very good source of protein for veggies, vegans, etc. It also has a low glycaemic index, which helps control blood sugar levels.  


Ingredients are simple: Can of Chick peas (plus some of the juice), Spoon of Tahini, clove of Garlic, Olive oil, salt, Lemon juice, and a pinch of Cumin powder. Whizz until of required consistency and taste.

I can still remember the day I first ate Hummus, probably in the early 80's; my life changed forever. I can also remember the day I first tasted Cumin; what a revelation that was! 

Hummus is such a simple concoction, but oh so good! The perfect lunchtime snack.

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

FACE MASK FASHION.


I'm sure we've all had the same experience; you're out at Sainsbury's or Walmart, when you spot some really ridiculous mask wearing styles whilst attempting to avoid the crowds.


Sadly, I have to admit that the major culprits are the 'over fifties'. What they think they're doing with their masks under their noses, or under their chins, or even on their foreheads; I really don't know!

OK, we all know that mask wearing is not a panacea against catching, or spreading, Covid, but some take stupidity to another level. I've even seen a double masker; one on the top half of his face, and another on the lower half. Over-kill par excellence. I expect he was just trying to be a smart-arse.

Back in France I was horrified when a shop-worker lifted her mask in order to have a good sneeze in my direction.... I ran!

I suppose the most common silly-style is the mask worn loosely at mouth level beneath the nose, in 'foodbag' style (above), thus making it totally useless. What do these people think they doing? I'd rather see someone without a mask at all than behaving like a complete plonker!

Tuesday, 4 January 2022

Not exactly Kew Gardens.


My little road has communal gardens that are looked after by gardeners who work for our 'gardens committee'. It involves a small amount of mowing and tidying each year which costs us each a notional amount; nothing to upset the bank balance.

We have a communal 'front lawn' surrounded by nice shrubs and flowering trees, a small private lawn with high hedges for which we all have a precious key, and other bits of mixed borders in front of the houses. It's all quite pleasant and well-kempt.

Right in front of our bijou faux-Regency house are two apple trees. I think we're the only people who ever take the fruit from them. In recent times we've had a few apples from one of the trees, and I noticed yesterday that there was just one remaining apple on the other. I picked it (below).


People have always said that it's a Bramley, but it ain't. Bramleys mostly fall in late September and have a very distinctive shape, we are now in January and this one apple was still hanging-on. It looks like a Golden Delicious.

Right in front of our bijou house I planted a Black Hamburg grape, and a pair of Globe Artichoke plants. I can't resist growing things that give something back. We have never been in residence at the right season to benefit from either.

I'm not 100% sure, but I think there's a Fox living beneath a very thick shrub just a few metres from our front door. If I was an urban Fox, I'd certainly look at it as a prospective home. Otherwise our local wildlife consists of Seagulls, Pigeons, Crows, Blackbirds, and the occasional Robin, who all enjoy the gardens as much as I do.

Not quite the bucolic environment of our cottage in France, but nice anyway.

p.s. The Apple was awful. Goodness knows what variety it is!

Monday, 3 January 2022

Grave Twitcher.


I find old, and decorative, graves fascinating. They are a sign of mortality, and a permanent reminder that 'life is not a dress rehearsal'. I am lucky at the moment to spend quite some time in two particularly pleasant graveyards, whilst walking with my dog Billy.

I don't know if it is usual throughout the UK, but here in Sussex it's not uncommon to find 'Coffin shaped' gravestones at ground level.



Like this one above they are often quite simple with very basic decorative carving. I adore this particular one, and would rather like something similar myself (when the time comes). The lettering around the sides is in Lead, but sadly much is now missing.


This very sad example (above) is by the entrance to our nearby church, and is presumably the grave of a child. The stone is about 3ft 6 ins long, and lies flush with the surrounding brick path. It has no inscription. A very poignant little grave. I think I'll put some flowers on it one day, just to show that he or she hasn't been forgotten.

This one below is very near the small one; maybe they are related.


They are everywhere. Here (below) in another one. Again, no inscription.


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