Thursday 31 March 2022

That Pork Pie.

I have now returned to Waitrose, and bought another of their lovely hand-made Pork Pies.

It's a fluted pie; not that that makes any difference to its taste, simply its visual appeal.

I did not repeat my purchase of the dreadful Bury Black Pudding!!!

I now see that they're called 'Walkers Pork Pies', and, I learn from their web page, that they are made especially for Waitrose.

I'm also very pleased to say that this second pie lived-up to the standard of the first, and can be recommended 100%. I can honestly say it's the best Pork Pie I've eaten in a very long time. Many may not notice the difference immediately, but I have a degree in Pork Pie eating; and I know what I'm talking about.

Very much a cut above all the other pies I eaten since October, and I would suggest that if you're looking for a quality pie, pop down to your nearest Waitrose, and buy a Walkers Pie from their deli counter. You won't be disappointed.

Price: £2.75p. Enough for four healthy Ascot or Henley appetites. 

Wednesday 30 March 2022

Anthony Wedgewood-Benn's 1998 Speech on Iraq.

The current Russian war made me think back to this.

I was never really a fan of Anthony Wedgwood-Benn; he wasn't known as 'The Most Dangerous Man in Britain' for nothing. However, I've always admired this speech of his, warning against his party leader Tony Blair's proposed attack on Iraq, in conjunction with the USA. A classic parliamentary speech, which others on his benches should study closely.

In 1998, a four day bombing campaign against military targets in Iraq called 'Operation Desert Fox' took place, and was to become the start of a protracted war against Iraq and Afghanistan that has so far killed anywhere up to half a million people.

This below is how Wedgwood-Benn advised voting against the war. Note wee Jeremy Corbyn in the background. Wedgie would have been horrified to know that his lap-dog would later become leader of his beloved party.

I'm still amazed that Blair hasn't faced charges of war crimes over his actions (as I trust will Putin). His constant claims that Iraq had WMD's (Weapons of Mass Destruction) were pure fabrication, and it was on these lies that his hostility was based. 

People get a life sentence (and rightly so) for one murder; we might have thought that starting an 'illegal war' that ended with the deaths of around 500,000 might have at least got him a £100 fine. But no!

I think Putin should take note of Wedgie's speech. The KGB might have referred to him as an 'unnecessary simpleton', but his wise words prove otherwise. What a wonderful speech!

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Forbidden fruit


Completely out of the blue, my Doc' phoned me last week suggesting that I take STATINS. Why he suddenly thought this was a good idea, I have no idea.

We had a short chat about them, and I explained that I HAD been advised to take them many years ago, but had been put-off by rumours of ill effects.

My Doc' said that all those rumours had now been disproved, and they were 100% safe.

I said "OK".

I picked-up my scrip a few days later (after a few hiccups from Boots), and, as normal, the Pharmacist asked me if I'd taken them before. 

I said I hadn't, so he explained that I may have headaches as a result of taking them, in which case I should consult my Doc'. He also said that on no account should I eat Grapefruit whist taking them, as this could have some very unpleasant side-effects.

So, guess what young Kimbo brought down with him from London this past weekend? Yes, you've got it.... a Grapefruit (above). I love Grapefruit.

Luckily he also brought a couple bottles of Champagne (what a good boy), some Mother's Day gifts, and some interesting looking packet noodle soups from Singapore (below) which I can't wait to try.

However, I'm not allowed to eat the Grapefruit.

Monday 28 March 2022

Haute Provence - Gueuleton

It's been a while, but here are Arthur and Vincent back on the road again; this time in beautiful Haute Provence.

Just look at that landscape at 1min 35. Not surprising that it's one of the most sought-after regions of France. At 1min 20, the gentleman with the glasses and white hair is introduced as the Mayor of the smallest commune in France (Majastres); with just 4 inhabitants. As the man said; the smallest commune with the fattest Mayor! Wouldn't you love a Mayor like him!

Lots of high jinks, eating, and drinking again, there's even a plate of Pieds et Paquets at the end; a true Provençal dish. 

Good fun food, lovely Southern accents, and all in a beautiful landscape.

Sunday 27 March 2022

Nancy Ska Jazz Orchestra-Hatcha!

I've posted this video twice before, but it's so good it's worth another outing.

Great tune, wonderful musicianship, and they all seem to be having such a good time. The composer is the 'bone player in the white cap; Youssef Essawabi.

Saturday 26 March 2022

Who runs this place?

They used to be known as Boots the Chemist, but now they're known as just plain Boots; probably for good reason.

The Boots store in central Brighton is BIG. It's on two floors, with each floor covering an area roughly the size of a Football pitch and stands.

Downstairs is given to perfumes, make-up, and over the counter first-aid and chemical things; then stuffed into the far corner is the tiny Pharmacy (below).

The small town near my home in France has a population of about 700, and the Pharmacy is modern, efficient, and friendly. Brighton has a population of about 290,000 and this particular central Pharmacy (there are others) is tiny, inefficient, old fashioned and slow. Dare I say it, but the staff are mostly 'foreign' and they can also be very difficult to understand.

Whilst a huge area is given over to heavily made-up young women who are only too pleased to practice their art on passers-by (but rarely seem to find anyone willing) the area given to the Chemist's is miniscule and very old fashioned. The only thing modern about them is the 'Prescriptions' sign.

Their stock of tablets are all found on some revolving merry-go-round in the middle of their small room, and every time someone spins it, it looks as if it's about to fall to bits.

If I was the CEO of Boots, I'd be having a serious look at all my stores. Someone should do a time and motion study. Huge queues at the tiny pharmacy, no-one at the make-up dep'ts, and a huge baby dep't upstairs that is permanently empty. It doesn't take a genius to know what needs to be done!

p.s. I might add that M & S needs the same attention. 99% of the people who enter our large store head directly to the food dep't, which I think makes-up about 15% of the store's area. The clothes dep't, and home wares dep't that occupy half the ground floor, all of the first floor, and all of the second floor, are mostly empty. 


Friday 25 March 2022


Banking ain't what it used to be.

This wasn't my very first bank account, but it was the first that I'd set-up by myself, and had total control over. My salary went there, my rent was payed from there, and it allowed me to live a totally independent life in London. I must have opened this account in 1964.

Williams Deacon's had the feel of a private bank about it. My branch was in Cheapside, in The City of London. It had a commissionaire at the door, the interior was oak panelled, and there were very comfortable leather seats for clients to relax in. The tellers all wore classic City-Style dark jackets and striped trousers, and I'd actually been interviewed (interrogated) by the manager before being granted an account; they didn't want any riff-raff. It was also a 'non clearing' bank, which meant that one had an extra day or two before a cheque cleared.

When I received my first cheque book, I was very pleased, and rather amused, to see that I had become an 'Esq'. This has remained ever since, which I shall explain later. Flattery works wonders!

Sadly Williams Deacon's didn't last, and in 1970 it became Williams and Glyns. Williams and Glyn's in turn then became Royal Bank of Scotland in 1985, and since 2020 it's simply a part of the giant NatWest Group. It hasn't improved. The only thing that has outlived all the changes is that I'm still referred to as 'Esq' on my cards and cheques. Regardless of all this upheaval, I have somehow remained faithful.

My current branch has now closed. The last time I visited there was simply a reception desk, and a few small office cubicles, if one actually needed to speak to someone (and if they were available). I'm not sure where my new branch is.... they haven't told me!

In France banking is even worse than here. Add serious French arrogance to the lack of personal service, and you'll understand what I mean. You are made to feel as if YOUR money belongs to THEM, and how dare you ask for any. Even putting cash IN is a nightmare. They look down on their clients as being no more than an unnecessary inconvenience; or worse.

When I think back to Williams Deacon's it seems like a totally different age. The Commissionaire would raise his topper as he held open the door for me, the tellers all referred to me as 'Sir', and nothing was too much for them. I know such things will never return, but it would be lovely if they could.

Thursday 24 March 2022

Veggie Wednesday: Brinjal Curry.

We still stick to our weekly 'Veggie Wednesday' eating pattern. We do eat veggie on other days, but Wednesday evening is sacrosanct.

One of our real favourites is a simple Aubergine (Brinjal) curry. For this particular one I added some red pepper that was hanging around in the fridge.

Ingredients: Aubergine, a good slug of Sunflower oil (or Ghee), 2 teaspoons of Patak's Balti Spice Paste, teaspoon Garam Masala powder, salt.

Method: Chop Aubergine into bite-size pieces, fry in Sunflower oil (or Ghee) until slightly browned, add the 2 teaspoons of slightly liquified Balti Paste, sprinkle on the Garam Masala. Salt to taste. Cook until done, then leave until required. Re-heat to serve.

The curry should be quite dry with the oil having 'separated''. Serve with simple Dhal and Basmati rice. Some Brinjal pickle or Mango Chutney on the side makes it perfection.

Who wants meat when you have a 60p Aubergine in the house. Fresh fleshy Mushrooms also work well to the same recipe.

Last night's curry was particularly tasty. Lady M said THREE TIMES how much she'd enjoyed it. The boy done good! 


Wednesday 23 March 2022

Raise the Flag.

I just spotted this flag raised above a house at the end of our street.

Good for them; a simple sign of support for the Ukrainians, but very poignant. 


Most of the UK is having lovely early Spring weather. Temperatures as high as 20 C will be common for the rest of this week.

Here on the South Coast people head for the beach. They walk along the Prom', buy an Ice Cream, and just sit in the sun soaking in all those wonderful healing rays.

Most stay off the beach itself. Those pebbles are not conducive to relaxation; you need a big pillow.

Better to sit outside a Café, with a cold beer and a plate of Fish-n-Chips, and watch the world go by.

But let us not be fooled by this good weather. Mother Nature has a way of changing her mind very quickly!

Tuesday 22 March 2022


 Today is The Cherub's 5th birthday.

Happy birthday darling; I miss you.

I think he's in Miami, but I'm not certain. I'm hoping we'll meet-up again in France this Summer.

Lots of love, Grumpy xxx

Giving a bad name!

Bury, in Lancashire, is the UK's spiritual home of the Black Pudding. Why they claim it as such, I know not.

I'm quite a fan of Black Pudding, and often eat it for breakfast. My usual supply comes from M & S, in packs of four large round slices. It is delicious.

I recently bought some from Waitrose's deli counter, and I'm relieved to say that Billy really enjoyed it; I DIDN'T. It was described on the pack as Bury Black Pudding. Maybe they meant 'Bury this black pudding'.

I really think the Bury Chamber of Commerce should have a word with whoever is supplying Waitrose with this travesty of a Black Pudding. It tasted, and had the consistency of, CARDBOARD (not that I have ever eaten cardboard). It was tasteless, had a horrible texture, and was a 100% disappointment

Billy, who is less fastidious than me, enjoyed it, but he'll never have the opportunity to enjoy it again.

I think the good people of Bury should take to the streets, and protest. Nothing I can think of could give a worse reputation to the fine town of Bury, than this dreadful excuse for Black Pudding. Be warned!

p.s. At the same time as buying this dreadful sausage, I bought a large Waitrose hand-made Pork pie. I'm pleased to say that it was one of the best I've tasted.


Monday 21 March 2022

The Street.

There are 17 houses in our street. On average I would say that there are two people to each house (they're very small houses); that makes aprox 35 residents. There are no children in the street, and only two dogs. How many cats there are, I'm not sure; but I would guess about 6, along with a fox or two.

All the houses have parking, but some have more than others. Some have off street parking spaces, and others (like us) have separate garages. There is just one communal parking space for visitors, which is rarely used.

We have a communal private garden, which is situated behind the first five houses on the left (the home of the Black Car Club). This has a locked gate to which we all have a key, and is surrounded by tall hedges and fencing; it is VERY private. We hardly ever go there. We also have more formal open gardens that are looked after by a gardener. He does a good job, and they are very well kempt.

If I told you that the street runs parallel to Brighton's busiest road; you may not believe me. I took the above photo on a Saturday afternoon, in beautiful sunshine, whilst just a short distance away, great hoards of people from the London trains were coming from the station, and heading for town or beach. Our little street remained totally calm and quiet.

Our particular house has a through sitting room/dining room/kitchen, with a tiny patio at the rear, which is reached by newly installed sliding doors. Upstairs there are just two bedrooms and a bathroom. It is all very compact and bijou. Perfect for two, and the occasional visitor. Our maximum has been six.

I really like this little house, it's perfect for our 'old age'. It's a rather strange 1960's build, and not at all the type of development I would have imagined liking. All the best shops are within easy reach, London is 50 mins away by train, and Gatwick airport is about 25 miles away. The Ferry port of Newhaven is 20 minutes from our front door.

Brighton has the reputation for being a bit eccentric, and I must say that the reputation is merited. One sees more of the wackier side of life here than almost anywhere else in the UK. It is simply a part of daily life, and always has been. I suppose they are attracted by the relaxed bohemian atmosphere, and it makes Brighton a wonderful place to live. People are extremely friendly.

The bad bits? Well, such a town obviously attracts rough-sleepers, smack-heads, and all those who'd rather spend their time in a pleasant environment rather than somewhere less salubrious. And who could blame them. There is far too much traffic, occasional football hooliganism, and thieving Seagulls, but you can't have it all.

Sunday 20 March 2022

Wrong day.


As usual I was up at Owls Hooting this morning, giving me plenty of time to wrap a few presents.

When the snoring from upstairs had reduced to a mere purr, I dutifully crept up to the bedroom with an armful of prezzies.

"Happy Mother's Day" I shouted with glee, as I showered her with beautifully wrapped boxes.

"That's next Sunday" she replied in a nonchalant manner.

"Really? I thought it was today".

"Fraid not" she said insistently.

So, I gathered-up the beautifully wrapped gifts (Christmas paper still looks great in March), and took them back downstairs. 

I told her to forget all about this morning, and pretend to be surprised next Sunday. Whether she will or not remains to be seen.

I was certain it was today.


Catherine Tate: A Sunday Giggle.

I don't think one can get more non-PC offensive than this; however, I dare you not to laugh!

Saturday 19 March 2022

Good-ish Samaritan.

Not everything is perfect in Brighton; we do have our fair share of 'tea-leaves'.

I was heading off yesterday to do some shopping when I came across the below, stuffed into a corner. It appeared to be a brand new camera case, and the contents were spread all over the ground; I presumed that all the important items were missing.

I gathered up all the bits, and took it back home before continuing towards the shops. Luckily there was a diary in it, and under his list of important phone numbers was written 'wife'. I phoned her and we took it from there.

I didn't really pry too much into the contents, but one of the things I did see was a very large bunch of keys. As soon as I saw them, I immediately felt sorry for the owner.

Luckily he was in Brighton when I phoned (he's a pharmaceutical delivery driver), and he came round to pick it up quite quickly. Nice chap. 

Sadly a lot was missing, including quite a lot of cash, but he was so pleased to have back what remained. He said it had been stolen from the front seat of his van whilst he was delivering to nearby Boots. 

It's good to be of some help in such a situation, but really infuriating that such things happen in the first place.

Bloody tea-leaves! Beware.

Friday 18 March 2022

More Breast of Lamb.

Look away Veggies!

As many seem not to be aware of this wonderful cut of meat, here is a photo of how it looks direct from the butcher (if your lucky).

I just happened to be in the world's finest food store this morning (Taj; Brighton), and noticed amongst their halal meats that they sold whole breasts of Lamb. This is how I've always bought it in France.

I've cut it into two pieces, for two meals, and put them in the freezer. The whole breast weighing just under a kilo cost me £5; a bargain in any language.

I shall make an Irish Stew, and a Kleftiko; both perfect dishes to make a small amount of cheap meat go as far as possible. And delicious too.

Look out for it at your local butcher. Bung it on the BBQ with just a little salt, and some ground cumin to finish.


Breast of Lamb.

The Breast is without doubt my favourite cut of Lamb. It is quite fatty, but the overall flavour is far superior to any other joint.

I've been quite disappointed that I couldn't find any in my usual supermarket, then this week some suddenly appeared. I bought just one joint and stuck it in the freezer. We had it roasted last Sunday. 

As this is ready boned, the price compares quite favourably with what I was paying in France. 

On my next visit I shall buy a few more joints (providing they still have them). I always like to keep a good supply in the freezer. It's a very versatile cut.

I did notice on the pack that it recommended a cooking time of 2hrs 45mins, by which time it would be almost inedible. I shall roast it for about 50mins, then leave it in the oven to rest for 10mins before serving. If Lamb is no longer 'pink' in the middle, it's not worth eating.

It's also my preferred cut for making my version of Kleftiko; roasted lumps of Lamb, potatoes, olive oil, garlic, preserved lemon, oregano, salt-n-pepper. One of my all-time-favourite dishes.

Good for Irish stew as well.

Thursday 17 March 2022

Spring Fever.

It had to happen. The warmer sunshine has given Lady Magnon 'spring fever'. Regardless of having little space for flowers in our bijou garden, she still cannot resist buying plenty of bedding plants. 

We visited our huge local Garden Centre where she bought three multi packs of Primroses and other things.

Even with our limited space she is determined to have plenty of colour around us, both in the tiny rear patio garden (below), and in the even tinier front garden beds. We are also planting in pots.

We have also decided that we cannot live without something or other growing here that we can eat. I shall install a corner mounted 'hanging basket' in which we'll plant a 'Tumbler' Tomato. 'Tumbler' are the perfect small garden Tomato, they take very little space, they are highly productive, and they taste good.

We are missing our acres, but we'll have fun here. The gardeners were at work yesterday, they do more in one day with all their machines, etc, than I usually do in a week. Our little road is now looking very spruce.

Wednesday 16 March 2022

A Sign from Above

I was coming home from shopping yesterday, when I noticed this rather nice, and unusual, reflection from the sun on a newly painted wall.

I'm not sure from whence it came but there was a motorbike parked nearby, so it might have come from its mirrors. 

It was like a sign from 'heaven'. A good one I hope!


Who would have thought....

I have three children (that I know of); two boys and one girl. They arrived boy, girl, boy, just as ordered.

The only one I see regularly (and I shall soon be seeing even more regularly) is my oldest, Kimbo. He is the one who opens Supermarkets, and flies off to Singapore on business. He is a bon viveur and is great company.

The other two are globe trotters; one a settled globe trotter.  My daughter, Tenpin, below aged about 12, has now settled in Brisbane. She has a beautiful home, a good job, two strapping teenage boys, and two dogs. As you might imagine, she is amazingly busy, and hardly has time to sleep.

My youngest, Wills, is the itchy feet member of the family. There is nothing he likes more than new horizons and opportunities. He has recently left his small Caribbean island, and is back in Miami. I believe he will head for France in a month or so, and maybe stay for some while. I hope he'll still be there when we go. He also has other homes around the world. We never know where he will settle next.

I suppose we like to ascribe future paths for our children, but rarely do they happen as imagined. They have several University degrees between them; my oldest has just the one, my daughter I think has two (Ordinary and Masters), and my youngest seems to have several. None of them work in the realms of their degrees.

Now we look to the grandsons; of which we have six. Kimbo's two are in the process of planning their futures, seemingly quite wisely. Tenpin's two are probably also planning careers, but we have no information, and Wills's two, Boo Boo and The Cherub, will of course become World Leaders.

We still dream. The one thing I shall miss about leaving this life will be not knowing how things unfold for them all. One thing I do hope, however, is that they'll all be successful in their choices of career, solvent, kind, and happy. But that, of course, is entirely up to them.


Tuesday 15 March 2022

Well done Russia! Well done Putin!

This (below) is how they left Grozny in Chechnya. 

This is how they recently left Aleppo in Syria.

And this is how they are already dealing with Kiev in Ukraine.

So, well done. What brave little soldiers you are, bombing domestic buildings, hospitals, and schools; in fact anywhere you know that innocent citizens are residing. What, I wonder do you plan to do with these bombed-out buildings when eventually you stop the shelling? Oh, of course, you'll go home and leave them like you left Grozny and Aleppo.

It is so easy to sit in an armoured tank, and fire shells at buildings miles away. I hope it makes you all feel like big strong men to be able to destroy the lives of your neighbours so easily. Your own mothers must be so proud of you; unlike those mothers and grandmothers you are slaughtering. 

If you're bored between firing shells at people's homes, have a good look at the above photos. You can see how successful you've been. Vlad might even give you a medal.

I wonder where you next have in mind; Warsaw? Budapest? Prague?

Monday 14 March 2022

Labour unable to define ‘woman’

Labour are in trouble again.

Why on earth is it that The Labour Party's leader Sir Keir Starmer, Yvette Cooper, and shadow Minister for Equality Anneliese Dodds, are all unable to define what is a 'Woman'?

One might have thought this was a simple enough question; one that most school children studying basic Biology could answer without even thinking.

They would inform Starmer, Dodds, Cooper, and Co, that a woman is someone born with XX Chromosomes, as opposed to men who are born with XY Chromosomes. It's as simple as that. There are incredibly rare cases where this becomes confused, but they are far too rare to even become a statistic.

Ms Dodds, as you will have seen above (if you could've been bothered), is even prepared to be 'misleading' in parliament, to avoid giving an answer. I wonder why?

Wouldn't it be better for all involved if, like J K Rowling, we all simply told the TRUTH about such things. 

Why is it that the Woke Brigade find it so difficult to tell the basic TRUTH.

Only when they understand that dressing-up in the attire of another sex is fine by us all, and doesn't have to be seen as having 'changed gender' (which is impossible); then, and only then, can we advance on this very simple subject.

I could dress as a woman tomorrow, and go around calling myself Mrs or Miss, and people would generally accept it. What they would NOT accept is if I claimed to be a 'genuine' woman.

It's all well and good for Labour 'lovies' to cow-tow to the Woke Brigade, but they would be far wiser to respect the rights of genuine women, who are understandably beginning to feel extremely angry.

Sunday 13 March 2022

Art Students.

Everyone dislikes Art Students.

Art students have a pretty rough, but probably warranted, reputation. They are scruffy, long-haired, dirty, dissolute, drunkards; and that's just the girls.

They make any town look untidy, they probably smell, and they must be the greatest purveyor of STD's on the planet. They protest about anything going, listen to loud raucous music in their squats until all-hours, and smoke dope endlessly.

However, almost EVERY SINGLE man made object has been designed by them, or at least once they've graduated. Your knives and forks, the perfume advert in your magazine, your car, and even the label on your baked beans tin, has been designed by an ex-art student.

I was reminded of this recently whilst looking at the wonderful variety of manhole covers in my local roads. The one I wanted to photograph was unfortunately in the middle of a busy road, so it remained un-recorded. It featured a Leopard skin pattern, not unlike the one above; just slightly more exotic.

It's worth remembering that those scruffy individuals go on to make our world a more interesting place in which to live, even down to the design of our manhole covers; making everyday objects as pleasant as possible. 

They either do that, or they form rock bands! 

Saturday 12 March 2022

Totally Pointless.

I believe that the BBC's afternoon quiz programme called 'Pointless', is H M The Queen's favourite.

It's a mid-intelligence game; no complex high-IQ questions, no trickery, just general knowledge (or guessing) on a variety of subjects. 

Recently (9th March), there was such a SHOCK in the Magnon household at one particular crass answer, that we almost spilt our cups of Lapsang. A couple (one of whom was a doctor), thought that NORTH KOREA was a member of THE COMMONWEALTH.

The question had been to name a country who took part in the 2014 Commonwealth Games; the answer given, North bloody Korea!!!

I do hope that H M wasn't watching that particular episode (I wish I hadn't myself). To think that some doctor sitting in his surgery might know nothing of N Korea, is really quite shocking.

What has education come to? Too busy with gender studies and Wokery I suppose. If our teachers can find the time to tell children that they must no longer refer to their parents as Mum and Dad, but as 'the people who care for me', then surely they can find time to explain that N Korea is an evil Communist State, and NOT a member of The glorious Commonwealth.

Friday 11 March 2022



I had a bit of a scare.

I wasn't feeling too good. Headache, sore-ish throat, flu-like feelings, all the signs that well-vaxxed folk often have.

I was quite nervous doing my test; I had a horrible feeling that my turn had come. Luckily only one red stripe appeared on my test strip, which meant I was OK. Two red stripes and you're infected.

I live to fight another day.

Finding the right Charity

I have two favourite charities, and rarely give to any others.

Firstly is Orbis. A wonderful organisation who fly volunteer eye surgeons around the world to correct sight problems. Donations go for medical equipment and the upkeep of their planes, which also double as operating theatres. The surgeons and nurses all offer their services free of charge.

The second is Médecins sans Frontières (MSF). Now a worldwide organisation, they send doctors and nurses to wherever in the world they are needed. They do wonderful work, often in the face of grave danger. For me, in this disastrous time, they have priority over Orbis.

With so many people wondering what they can do to help those poor people of Ukraine, may I suggest that MSF could use as much help as possible.

I have 100% confidence in them, and I trust that my small donation will be of some help.

Lady Magnon has preferred to place her trust in The Red Cross. Both charities desperately need whatever we can offer.

Thursday 10 March 2022

The Barbarossa Factor.

History is there to teach us, but some choose to ignore it.

In June of 1941, the Germans invaded Russia, with whom they had both political and economic pacts. As they crossed the Western borders, the Russian people were actually pleased to see them, and I believe they even waved welcoming flags. They were eager to be rid of the oppressive Russian regime, and saw the Germans as their saviours.

So, how did the Germans react to this friendliness? In typical German fashion; they shot them!

They ended-up slaughtering Millions of civilians, as well as 3.3 Million Russian prisoners of war. After the shock, the Russians soon organised themselves, and the Germans were made to retreat.

In present day Russia, the civilians are deprived of reliable news, and refuse to believe that their own troops (sons) would go into Ukraine to bomb and kill. They proudly declare that 'the Ukrainians are our friends and neighbours, and Putin would NEVER do that'. I wonder if the Germans said the same about Hitler in 1941?

If one wishes to win 'hearts and minds' it's better to be nice to whoever you are invading; not slaughter them. Had the Russians recently entered Ukraine with parcels of Vodka, food, and warm clothing, people might have welcomed them. They might even have tolerated a change of government had it promised investment, stability, and prosperity. 

The best way to alienate people is to mimic the German Unternehmen Barbarossa, and destroy and slaughter everything in your path.

The Russians, more than anyone, should have realised that!

Wednesday 9 March 2022

Getting things just right.

I like to think of myself as a 'modern man'. I shop, I cook, I occasionally clean, I do my own washing if I can understand how the machine works, and, yes, I even do my own simple sewing repairs.

I've always been a little fastidious about trousers; Lady M might say obsessive. I'm prepared to wear them of any style, any material, and any colour, as long as the bottoms measure 14 ins.

At school we wore regulation dark grey pin-striped suits, and the trouser bottoms always annoyed me; they measured about 18ins, and, in my eyes, always required tapering. Not a lot, but enough to stop them flapping about. 

My friend Bill (his son is now an MP, so I'd better not give his full name) had a grandmother who was happy to do some simple sewing for a few quid, and after having worked on my first pair, more work came flooding in from other boys who saw how much better they looked. She ended-up doing a roaring trade.

I still do my own sewing when I can. As long as it's simple, involves straight lines, and can be hidden from sight, I'll always give it a go. I'm talking of hand-sewing; I couldn't cope with a machine!

I've recently bought a few pairs of new trousers, and, of course, they needed work. 

Lady M was highly amused by my rustic technique, but all went well, and I now have the trousers with the width of bottoms that I require.

It may sound strange that a man of my great age should be tapering his own trousers, but that's how I like it.  I shan't be appearing on The Great British Sewing Bee, but I quite enjoy getting my fingers pricked occasionally!

Tuesday 8 March 2022

Tuesday Morning.

This morning it was a very chilly 2 C here in Brighton. Luckily I was warmly dressed with hat scarf and gloves, and I'm certainly not complaining.

I thought of those poor people in Ukraine, where overnight it was -4 C, and lightly snowing. 

Carrying all their possessions in a few bags, looking after children and pets, with very little food and water, and homeless. Often they are poorly dressed with no insulated coats, no woolly hats, and very few gloves. They carry with them just a few essentials. All they can hope for is that some kind country will allow them to stay, and give them food and shelter. They leave behind some crazy despot who is destroying everything they owned; and doing his best to destroy them as well.

It was just after 7.30am, and I walked back towards home thinking of all those stalwart Ukrainians. Billy had enjoyed his morning walk, I had already eaten breakfast, and I knew that my home would be warm and welcoming. I have water on tap, my central heating works perfectly, I have radio and TV, and I have a full store cupboard, full fridge, and full freezers. In fact I have absolutely nothing to complain about.

Life is never going to be fair and equal, nor should it be ruled by the strong over the weak. Sadly those with well equipped armies will always flex their muscles against the peaceful. Only when the rest of the world says 'enough is enough' will those war lords be brought to book. It happened to Adolph Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, and others.  I am quietly confident that it will also happen to Vladimir Putin as well.   

No, I'm not complaining, in fact I feel both extremely fortunate and humbled. 

Monday 7 March 2022

Deaf man is moved to tears when his neighbourhood learned sign language ...

This is such a good story; I just had to share it with you. People got together to 'speak' to a deaf man through sign language, without his knowing what was going on. It was all secretly filmed in Istanbul, and this video is the result.

Well done to all those who took part. With so many around us who try to upset our lives, it's good to see kind-hearted people who make an effort to do the opposite. Get your Kleenex ready.

Sunday 6 March 2022

A Different Life.


Before returning to Blighty last October, one of my final major tasks was to return Haddock's to its former state as 'grassland'. Hopefully this Summer I will build a pagoda of some sort, and maybe plant another fruit tree. I notice in the above photo that there was still an Apricot tree there, that eventually died. Maybe I'll replace it. Anyway, Haddock's will no longer be a veg' garden, but a BBQ/party area instead.

All the raised beds have now gone, the ground raked and levelled, and, after having widened the gate to allow the mower in, everything was mowed. I shall continue the mowing, hopefully to make something that resembles a lawn.

We will probably go to France for three months in Summer. We'll open the pool, and make sure all is working OK. Our arrival will be too late to plant anything, and we'll certainly be there for too short a time to harvest. Over here we have nowhere to grow any veg', other than perhaps some Toms in hanging baskets. Maybe I will plant some, and keep my fingers crossed that they survive until our return. But generally we will be at odds with growing seasons; moving around at precisely the wrong times.

This will be the first year for decades that I haven't been currently planning my year's crops. The fruit trees will fruit, but not all during our sojourn. We may have Peaches, but Apples, Pears, Plums, Figs, etc will all ripen after our departure. I'm also hoping that we'll have some Globe Artichokes. I just hope that Boo Boo and The Cherub will take full advantage of what's on offer after we leave (provided that they're there!).

I shall really miss my veg' gardening. It has always been a major part of my spare time activities. I can hardly imagine life without soil under my nails. 

I shall simply have to live differently.

Saturday 5 March 2022

Addictive Personality.

My very first real addiction was for Maynard's Wine Gums. Terrible things go on at The London Stock Exchange, one of which was an inter-firm Wine Gum tasting competition. I represented my firm, Sheppards & Co.

After several evening pints at Slaters Bar in Throgmorton Street, the representatives of various firms (all blue-buttons) would be blindfolded, and made to guess the flavour of a series of different Wine Gums. It was all good humoured fun, and I don't remember any winners. 

Unfortunately whilst going through rigorous training, I became seriously addicted to Wine Gums, and I'm ashamed to say that at my worst I was eating about 1lb a day. Luckily my natural morphology rejected any damaging weight gain, and I eventually weaned myself off them by the  'Cold Turkey' method.

These days I suppose I am addicted to Red Wine. I don't drink a lot, but my evening meal would be sorely lacking without a glass or two.

However, my most recent addiction is for Kimchi, the fashionable food which I believe the South Koreans eat every single day. I cannot get enough of it. I don't know what it is about the flavour, but every day I find myself wanting more. 

Kimchi in the UK is quite expensive, so I'm seriously considering making my own. It doesn't look difficult, one simply needs to be kitted-out with a few basic items. A bucket, large glass jar, Gochujang paste, salt, etc.

Watch this space.

Friday 4 March 2022

Flyysoulja - I'm An Island Boy ft. Kodiyakredd (Official Music Video)

Three and a half minutes of the sensational 'Island Boys', singing their latest chart-topping, super-sound, global hit, 'I'm an Island Boy'; great tune guys, you make Jedward look like total amateurs.

As internet influencers, I shall certainly be trying to imitate their cool style and look. The only thing I shan't copy is their criminal record; it wouldn't suite me!

I've booked into my local Tattoo Parlour for a whole two months, I'm having my trousers altered so that they no longer recognise a waist, and of course I'm having a 'Coon Island' (Rupert Bear) wig made for when I venture outdoors. I shall also be permanently poolside, and shall invite any local girls who own a tiny bikini to come and wiggle their bottoms at me.

I shall walk with a limp (I already do), hold wads of cash in my hands, and wear lots of cheap gold-coloured necklaces. I'm also hoping to make a bloody fortune by singing an up-tempo, rap version, of The White Cliffs of Dover. My future looks extremely rosy!

N.B. With the US obituary pages filled with the names of one-hit-wonder rappers, if I was these two I'd watch my back. I can see people becoming extremely annoyed by them!

We used to worry about Covid-19; but that was over a week ago.


Putin has now warned Kyiv civilians to "Leave or Die".

Under the Geneva Convention (rules of war), it specifically states that one should never target those who do not take part in hostilities; i.e. civilians. Women and children in particular. Sadly Putin has joined that long line of evil despots who rule by fear, and he's not afraid to demonstrate as much by widespread slaughter. To warn those very civilians that they must 'leave or die', is in itself a declaration that he intends to commit such war crimes. Those of us who thought that Europe would never see another Hitler have had to think again. Putin is on the rampage, killing, destroying, and even imprisoning children.

We already know that Putin's forces have targeted residential apartment blocks; the evidence is there for all to see. The bodies of innocent civilians are lying on the streets of Kyiv and elsewhere. 

He must not succeed in this evil. He must be made to pay, this is too outrageous a crime for him to receive anything less than the ultimate penalty.

It would also be good to hear apologies from Putin's disgusting supporters. Countries such as Cuba, Venezuela, N Korea, China, etc, should be ashamed of themselves, along with those who support their evil regimes; especially those on the opposition benches at Westminster.

NATO and other friendly countries who are against what Russia (Putin) is doing, are still being over-cautious. Hitting their financial markets may affect Russian citizens, but it will hardly halt a blood-thirsty maniac.

When Argentina attacked the defenceless Falkland Islands, Mrs T sent a 'Task Force', and gave them a bloodied nose. Isn't about time NATO and her allies did something similar with mainland Russia?

Why is it that the Communist countries are always the ones who are at odds with the peaceful world? Maybe a few bombs on Moscow's finest buildings might make Putin think again! It's what HE'S doing elsewhere, so he could hardly complain!

Thursday 3 March 2022

I've been up in the loft again.

I've been rummaging through a big box of old photos. I think this one (below) must have been taken not long after I bought our first farmhouse in France. I'm afraid they're a bit dog-eared.

(Left to Right) Me, my lovely dog Hamlet, my father-in-law, mini-Kimbo, my mother-in-law, and Lady M.

We are sitting on the steps up to the house, and no doubt my in-laws had come to see what a disastrous purchase I'd made.

Here is another one (below) showing the barns, etc, and the 'fledgling' vegetable patch, with me putting up a rickety structure to hold the ancient vines I'd just discovered amongst the brambles. I suppose, it must have been taken in Spring 1973. Our first Spring in France

It was all such fun. Everything was new, my French was very limited, yet we were really enjoying ourselves. It was quite a big property, with plenty of outbuildings and land. Just what I'd been looking for! What happy days they were, and lots of hard work.

And here is Cro (below) driving a horse and trap just outside the entrance to the house. The horse was Joe, and the dog d'Artagnon (Dart). It also looks as if the road had yet to be tarmacked. We did have a car as well.

I love rummaging through boxes of old photos!

Wednesday 2 March 2022


I've never taken photography particularly seriously, but as an Art Student it was part of the curriculum that one knew one end of a camera from the other.

We learned how to use a decent camera, process film, and print the final photographs. I quite enjoyed the process, but it was never a skill that I intended to continue with, other than as a souvenir pastime.

Luckily my learning era coincided with when the children were small, so I do have quite a few good home-produced pictures of their early years. 

This photograph, above, is a particular favourite. It shows Lady Magnon with a one-year-old Kimbo. It is, of course, a photo of a photo, so much of the sharpness has been lost en route, but it still shows some of the quality of a 35mm camera and good lens.

My old enlarger and developing trays were still hanging around until a few years ago. They have now all gone to the skip. With the advent of digital photography, such things have become outdated and clumsy. It was such a long process, whereas today's photography is fast and (if one has photoshop) totally controllable. 

I still have my old light-meter, and now look at it as an antique. 'Digital' has been a great leap forward.

Tuesday 1 March 2022

Unhappy again.


If there's one thing I detest, almost as much as I detest Putin; it's people who dump rubbish. 

This is a classic example of totally unacceptable behaviour, dumping a pile of rubbish by the side of a large empty bin.

A Badminton racquet, several CD's, wicker baskets, creams, and assorted other bits-n-pieces, all thrown on the ground right beside a large bin.

I know the bin was mostly empty, because I'd just put my own small bag of rubbish in it.

What makes people do such things? It is no more difficult to put stuff IN the bin, than by its side.

Jeeeze, it makes me bloody annoyed! 

And whilst I'm on the subject. 99.9% of all Dog owners here are very proud of their cleanliness. It's almost a 'badge of honour' to be seen depositing your dog's poo bag in the special receptacles. However, some idiots go to all the trouble to clear up their dog's poo; then leave the bloody bag on a bench, a gravestone, or a wall.

Lord, give me strength!!!

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