Wednesday 31 August 2022

Doubters, be ashamed!

Just before leaving for France at the end of May, I fixed these two wall-mounted planters onto the patio wall of our bijou Brighton UK home. 

In them I planted four tiny 'Tumbler' tomato plants, in the hope that by the time we returned at the end of August, we would have a bounteous crop. 

We have now returned, and this is how we found them (below).

Not only are they producing plenty of lovely sweet baby Toms, but they have been doing so for the past month. Most, of course, have been eaten, but there a plenty of baby ones to come. If looked after correctly, fed and watered, I can see them continuing for quite some while.

Other crops on our extensive plantation are these Globe Artichokes (that no-one bothered to eat), and a tree-full of Apples (see both below).

It may not be Haddock's, but at least I'm still growing something.

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Sue. A battle lost.


This is my dear friend Sue. She'd been going through a very rough time recently. Following what should have been a routine back operation about a month ago, things went very wrong and she ended-up in a Johannesburg ICU with her life being seriously at risk.

We met 'way back' at Art College. Sue was the nicest, kindest, most caring person you could ever hope to meet. She had an enticing natural femininity, and a simplicity of character that very few 'beautiful people' possess. I think it can be seen in her photo.

Things had not been going well, and during an X Ray her Doctors discovered a huge tumour in her pelvic area, which they said was inoperable. It spread, and quickly became 'stage 4'. This was all devastating news for her family, her friends, and of course for myself. Procedures were tried, but soon abandoned.

Sue was a highly talented artist. Her pottery is meticulous and beautifully understated.


And her miniature Bears are totally delightful. The tiny one at the front would fit into a matchbox.

Regular reports from Johannesburg suggested that her condition remained extremely serious, on top of which she also developed Pneumonia, and suffered a 'bleed on the brain'. I moan occasionally about my own minor aches and pains, but before doing so again I shall think of poor Sue and her untimely suffering.

I am simply writing this to inform friends of hers who may visit here, that she lost her battle last Friday. A WhatsApp group had been set-up by her lovely daughter and the response has been amazing. I send my love and best wishes to her husband, her children, and her extensive family in S Africa, Barbados, and the UK.

There are certain people who one would never imagine dying before oneself; Sue was one of those. She always looked healthy, always had a smile, and was always happy. I shall really miss knowing she's no longer with us.

Sue's empty pottery wheel, with flowers.

RIP dearest Sue, the world has just lost one of its very best. I am devastated. xx

Monday 29 August 2022

Nightmare on Rouen Street.

And it was all going so well!

Then in the middle of Rouen the car came to a sudden halt. Of all the places to break down, she chose the main street running through busy Rouen. I won't go into details, but things got worse and worse. 

We had already experienced delays, an awful meal at the hotel we stayed at, and Billy being sick a couple of times.

The Breakdown man drove us (and the dead car) to Dieppe, and left us at a garage. They instantly diagnosed the problem; the timing belt had broken, and it would cost more than the car was worth to mend it. 

We gave the man the car with a full tank of petrol worth about €100. Then from Brighton my darling son, Kimbo, organised a lovely dog-friendly hotel for us, and booked himself a ferry crossing to pick us up the following day. What we would have done without him I don't know. We had a car full of 'stuff', and Billy. It was a nightmare.

To add to our misery, I went into Dieppe town to get some money from an ATM, and it chewed my card.

By this time I was thinking of throwing myself under a bus, when I heard the WORST NEWS IMAGINABLE, that a very close friend had died (more on this tomorrow). Things couldn't have got worse.

Kimbo arrived in Dieppe at about 5 am, and we were back at the garage by 8 am. We transferred everything from one car to the other, then caught the ferry back to Newhaven. We were home by 2.30 pm.

I have never felt happier to be back home than after this nightmare of a trip. 

The hero of the day, without doubt, was Kimbo. I am so blessed and privileged to have a son like him. 

Thank you Darling; thank you, thank you, thank you! You saved the day.


Thursday 25 August 2022

A Bientot.

I'm driving back to Blighty today and tomorrow. I'll see you again on Sunday/Monday.

Vroom, vroom, vroom!

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Fruit crops.

We're just coming into our main Peach season. As you can probably see by the photo, they're not as big as they usually are; probably because of the lack of rain. Every morning I find fallen fruits that are perfect for lunch.

At the same time the Figs are starting to ripen. The last thing Figs want is rain. They swell and split, and often become tasteless. The first to ripen are all at the top of the trees where the birds gorge themselves, but there are plenty for everyone.

Elsewhere we have possibly our best ever crop of Pears. They are a wonderful variety called Doyenne de Comice, but they do have one strange characteristic; when they drop they need to be kept for about two weeks before eating. Unfortunately they are not yet dropping, although it won't be long.

We have plenty of Apples, and as usual the ground beneath the trees is covered with fallen fruit. Grapes are everywhere, but the best of the lot, a Black Hamburg, is only just beginning to ripen. We'll just miss them. 

Outside of the garden, the combines are busy harvesting the Sunflowers, and in the Chestnut woods farmers are busy preparing the ground by mowing and laying down huge nets, ready to catch the nuts.

All is well with the world.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Why Not Quit the Rat-Race?

Anyone reading Rachel's post of 20th August will have seen about a current French property invasion.

So, here's an idea. Flog your £2 Million 1950's semi in Croydon, and exchange it for a beautiful, stone-built, 18th C, French farmhouse with plenty of land and outbuildings, at a cost of about €250,000

Once here, set yourself up as a gardener (mower of lawns). As long as you have a tow bar on your Land Rover, all you would need is a decent trailer, a pair of ramps, a good quality ride-on mower, and a plastic petrol can. In time you may need to build an above ground inspection pit, to get underneath the mower. Overall cost about €5,000.

Clients will beat a path to your door; me included. You will never be short of work.

No more office, no more smart suits, plenty of fresh air, plenty of work, be your own boss; and make a reasonable amount of money.

Wine is €2 per litre here, you can grow plenty of fruit and vegs, and enjoy all the sunshine and wonderful bucolic lifestyle that Southern France has to offer. 

Just say Cro sent you.

Monday 22 August 2022

Lindsey Buckingham - Trouble

The video is a tad pretentious (they mostly are), but the song is excellent.

People who don't know the name Lindsey Buckingham may remember him as the lead guitarist with Fleetwood Mac. I think I prefer him as a solo artist.

Sunday 21 August 2022


Now that the terrible heatwave has gone, our days have still been warm, we've continued to swim, and most of our mornings now look like the misty picture below.

In fact our mornings now look like Autumn, smell like Autumn, and feel like Autumn. The Autumn aroma here is delicious. The air smells fresh, earthy, and full of promise. It will soon be September, and that is exactly how our September early mornings should be.

The Sunflower heads are slowly drying, the Maize is looking good, and no doubt the sound of gunfire from the Chasseurs, and the sight of mushroom hunters with large baskets, is not too far off also.

The trees are full of fruit. We now have mountains of Peaches, more Figs than we could ever eat, Grapes, and Apples and Pears by the barrow-load. And all that, just as we're about to leave. 

Normally I'd be bottling and freezing, but there's little point. In fact my days of preserving for the Winter are over. 

My first sight in the mornings is now of mist hanging over the distant trees. I find it quite nostalgic and invigorating. The seasons change, and another one is just beginning.

Go to church!

My village church held a mass a few Sundays ago; a very rare occurrence here. I heard that some went, simply to experience what could be a very rare event in the not too distant future.

Religion is dying in The West, and although the beautiful old buildings will still be there, the ceremonies, singing, and praying to invisible deities will not. We are all far more suspicious of superstition, and the far-fetched myths of the past are no longer acceptable. No longer can men in black put 'the fear of god' into people; even less so in Latin.

I went to church last Christmas. I like singing, and singing carols in an ancient church is good for that non-existent 'soul' of ours. I hope to go again this Christmas.

But don't be complacent. Churches are becoming homes, art galleries, cafés, and community centres; very few will still be used for their original purpose after the next half-century or so. Gods will give way to Goods. Creed will give way to Greed. 

I blame the church big-wigs. Had they gradually changed from mumbo-jumbo to philosophy, they might have had a future, but clinging on to virgin births, faux cannibalistic ceremonies, and all the gods and devils nonsense; they have engineered their own demise.  

If you wish to see those old fashioned ceremonies in practice; go now, or you may miss the boat.

Saturday 20 August 2022

Buying clothes.

This past Winter I discovered the pleasures of the Irish clothing store 'Primark'. 

I quite expect the Woke Bleeding Heart Brigade will accuse me of supporting far eastern sweat shops, etc, but as far as I'm concerned, along with millions of others, they offer great value for basic everyday items. Their store in Brighton is HUGE.

Over a period of several months, I equipped myself with two pairs of ratting shorts, two pairs of going-out shorts, three pairs of sunglasses, two pairs of trousers, a scarf, and a Russian style 'ushanka' hat. No single item cost me more than £13.

Everything I bought was of above average, to good, quality; except probably the £3 sunglasses. Like many people I lose, or break, sunglasses quite often, so I need a good supply. One pair broke before I left England, and my current pair are feeling dodgy. I now have only the third pair (above) in reserve.

I shall need shoes when I return to Brighton, and my first call will definitely be to Primark. I used to buy 99% of my clothes at M & S; but no more. 

I was very pleasantly surprised by Primark, they are worth a visit. Next you'll find me shopping at Aldi; actually, you won't!


Friday 19 August 2022

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier....

We have some wonderful semi-wild Plum Trees here in France. The fruits are about the size of a Damson, red, and NEVER have bugs inside them; probably on account of their acidity. I believe they are also known as Bird Plums.

We occasionally make Plum Sauce with them, but more often they go towards our Winter stock of Plum Jam; amusingly known as 'Mumsy's Plum Pip Jam'. Mumsy being the mother of our brood (Lady M)!

It would be crazily time-consuming to take out all the pips, so they stay there; and just like children we count them all afterwards.

Mine went as far as Sailor.... I didn't look to see how many Lady Magnon counted.

p.s. 2021 Jam verdict: Very good 9/10 (1 point off for the pips)

Thursday 18 August 2022

Where do you wish to be buried?

This is our village cemetery; photographed on our way back from a restaurant recently. It simply looked so beautiful.

In France cemeteries are not usually connected to the church, either physically or in terms of ownership. In fact they are usually owned by the 'commune', or Mayor's office; and a fee is paid to them to be buried there.

Our village cemetery is about 200 metres down the hill from the church, and is quite a pleasant area. It is less than 2 kms from our house.

If I should die in France this is where I shall be buried. If I die in England I shall be cremated and half my ashes will (I hope) be taken to France, and maybe the other half sprinkled into the sea.

Knowing where one would wish to be buried is not always evident. If one is lucky enough to have lived one's whole life in the same place, there is no problem. But if one has moved about a lot, a choice has to be made. 

We do have a family burial 'mausoleum' in Crawley Sussex, which is ours 'in perpetuity' (I still have the paperwork), but I can't see myself taking advantage of it. 

My preference would certainly be the cemetery above. At the last time of asking they said the cost would be about €250.


Wednesday 17 August 2022


It may sound like an odd thing for a painter to say; but I really don't enjoy painting very much.

I much prefer the drawing side of the work. The initial drawings are far more fun, and convenient.

A pencil, pen, and pad take no room, pencils and pens are clean, drawings are quickly executed, and relatively easy to master. 

Very rarely do I go anywhere without my pen and pad, but mostly, these days I take photos with my phone. However, occasionally only a quick drawing will suffice.

Ever since I drastically pruned this Fig tree, and revealed its trunks, I'd wanted to draw it. I got a bit lost whilst mid drawing but it hardly mattered, it was the meditative quality of drawing that mattered.


Tuesday 16 August 2022

The trials of Billy.

With fewer friends to play with, Billy now often sits crossed-legged outside looking extremely bored.

There are no grandsons here any more to play Ping Pong with, so he wanders around with nothing to do other than bark at any unwary holiday makers who may pass-by.

But he won't have to wait long to see his friends again as we're off to Blighty in a couple of weeks. 

In the meantime he'll need his Passport stamped with proof of de-worming, anti Rabies jab, inside leg measurement, declaration of income, etc.

At least his Passport photo actually looks like him, which is more that I can say for mine. Even I don't recognise myself in my Passport. 

Monday 15 August 2022


Q. What do Nuns do on their day off?

A. Well of course they go to museums, and take selfies.

The cheeky minxes!

Sunday 14 August 2022

Essential Kit.

This clever little device is a miracle of Chinese engineering.

It is a battery operated fan/cooling spray. You fill the bottom half with cold water, pop an AA battery into a slot in the back, and pull trigger. A fine cooling spray of water can then be directed at whatever part of the body (or dog, or pony) that requires cooling. 

I like the way the Chinese always mark their products as being made in the PRC, which I always thought referred to some type of Pony Racing Club.

It does work, and I would recommend it to people with small children/babies on the beach. It works on me too. With our afternoon temperatures around 38 C, we need these things. They should be supplied by the state; I'll have a word with Macron.

After an afternoon swim just now, I was visited by about 50 Swallows all swooping down over the pool for a drink; what an amazing sight. I think all this extreme heat may be coming to an end; we had one clap of thunder, three flashes of lightning, and seven drops of rain last night. It's all been a bit too much!

Saturday 13 August 2022

Decline and Fall. E Waugh


I couldn't tell you how many times I've read this book, all I knew was it was time for yet another perusal. The excessive heat of the past few weeks has meant that several old favourites have again seen the light of day.

Decline and Fall is one of the funniest books I've ever read. It follows the exploits of Paul Pennyfeather who, after being sent down from Oxford, takes a position in a rather unruly Welsh Prep' School. He becomes involved with various characters from various social classes and of various levels of honesty.

Paul falls in love with a very wealthy aristocratic lady, which leads to his downfall and imprisonment.

D & F is a book of two halves; the first deals with his life at the school (Llanabba Castle), and the second with his life in and after prison. The first half is very funny, the second rather tedious. I think I might almost recommend that you only read the first half.

It must be noted that the book was written way before 'Political Correctness' was conceived, and some might be shocked by certain passages (even I am).

My 1937 copy of the Penguin paperback is falling to bits (above), which is testament to how well loved the book has been. I remember that I even had it at school with me. No doubt some time in the future I shall read it again; and laugh as much as I did a couple of days ago.

Friday 12 August 2022

La Grande Bouffe


When family visit for just two weeks, it's difficult trying to fit everything into the tight schedule.

They want to eat, drink, make merry, have fun, do a spot of tourism (maybe), and most of all to 'relax'.

We tend to eat together only in the evenings. The boys don't eat breakfast; or if they do, it'll be at 2 pm. Lunch we always eat alone. Then Dinner is when we all get together, and enjoy the best of what S W France has to offer.

We BBQ huge steaks, we roast wonderful legs of Lamb, we visit our favourite restaurant (above), eat at the village weekly marché des producteurs, and go to a fun lake-side evening of moules frites. The tricky bit is planning the schedule. This year I think we've just about managed to fulfil all our desires and expectations. 

I must admit that my son, my grandsons, and I, are a bunch of traditional male meat-eaters (with a couple of more refined female meat-eaters watching from the side lines), there's nothing we enjoy more than a nice meal with a couple of bottles of wine thrown in. It makes life so much more pleasant if one appreciates good food and wine.

The house has been very full for the past two weeks, but we've loved every minute of it.

Unfortunately we've also put-on a few ounces, so diets begin next week.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Inbuilt obsolescence.


I've had to throw away two outdoor Teak garden folding chairs this year; and mend a third.

The two were beyond repair, and the third only required a couple of new pieces. Another poolside lounger had the leg extension bit fall to bits after someone sat on it, but it has remained usable without the broken bit.

I don't really remember how long we've had them all, but it must be quite a while; over ten years at least. I suppose they've done quite well, and we should expect them to start decaying. It's just that they're all decaying at once. No doubt a classic case of in-built obsolescence.

Now they shall all have to be replaced. Looking on, I'm amazed to see how expensive outdoor chairs are these days. Even boring little plastic chairs cost a fortune.

I've found a set of 6 (very similar teak chairs to the ones we had) on Amazon. I think I'll go for them. If they last as long as the previous lot, they should see me out. 

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Giuseppina Part 2 - Colour Trade Test Tranmission Film 1960's

Giuseppina is bored with life at her father's rural Italian garage. Here, in Part 2, there is a village wedding that doesn't start-off too well, plus the arrival of a very 'stiff upper lip' English family. 

If you haven't already seen Parts 1 and 3, they're worth watching too. Short film making at its best.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Spontaneous combustion?

I came across this car yesterday morning. The fire had spread to about 50 metres all around, even over the road into a recently harvested wheat field. It was a terrible mess. Thank goodness they'd managed to put it out before it spread even further. 

There's usually a black Mercedes parked where we found it, but I don't know if this is it. The poor old car will need a serious re-spray.

Fire is a real worry at this time of year. Down in the south they have annual fires that they suspect are often started deliberately. Here we've had one or two scares, but nothing the Pompiers couldn't handle. I hate waking to the smell of smoke; you never know where it's coming from.

Last year we saw the skeleton of a Tractor and Baler that had caught fire. Sometimes it feels as if the whole world is about to burn; we desperately need some rain.

Monday 8 August 2022

Early Mornings.

I'm an early riser; I get-up every morning at 5 am.

First thing (after making my coffee) is to do all my laptop related bits and pieces. Post blog, read blogs, write comments, etc. I then see to my Emails, look briefly at Facebook, and go quickly through my online newspaper. By 6.45 am I'm ready for breakfast.

Then comes one of my favourite parts of the day. Whilst it's still cool I see to the pool. I check the tabs, empty any leaves/creatures from the skimmers, top-up the water level (if it needs it) and try to tidy the previous day's untidiness.

I sweep all around the pool. There are always dead flower-heads, a few coins, empty champagne bottles, etc, to clear. I water all the potted plants, as well as those that suffer from heat, then by about 7.30 am all is clean and tidy, and I can start thinking about the day ahead; my own personal free time.

The sun is now up, and already the temperature is rising (to just 33 C yesterday); as usual I don't bother with too many clothes. I decide what we'll have for lunch and dinner, finish my crossword, and read a book. If The Commonwealth Games are still on I might take my siesta in front of the TV.

With no rain or decrease in temperature on the horizon it's swimming, eating, and relaxing yet again. It's almost like being on holiday!

Sunday 7 August 2022

Brighton Pride.

Anyone who is in the Brighton area, and who is keen on such things, the Brighton Pride weekend is in full swing, and would be worth a visit.

I've never actually been in Brighton for the event, but looking at the poster it looks like a lot of fun.

It's a HUGE event; one of the biggest around. A Gay-Fest par excellence as one might expect of Brighton. Paloma Faith headlining this evening. 


Happy memories.

I think, and I hope, that my children all have wonderful memories of their upbringings in rural France.

Never have they been so free, so happy, and so healthy, as when they bathed in those long hot Summer days, ran bare-footed through the fields with Hamlet their dog, and had numerous hay barns and outbuildings to play in. Life was really good and problems were still unknown.

Here are a young Kimbo, Tenpin, and their good friend Nelly, under the shade of a vine on the terrace. It looks as if it was hot. I expect Wills was yet to be born, or was a tiny baby elsewhere.

Very few young families do such things these days. New Brexit rules have made it more difficult, although it was bloody difficult when I moved South in pre-EU days; I don't think the will is there either. Certainly in the EU, non-EU citizens are not looked upon kindly.

Back in the late 70's when the above was taken, there was still a healthy exodus to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, but I think this has now all but dried-up, or at least has been made far more difficult.

In my particular case, I am certain that my children loved the long hot Summers, the freedom of open countryside, and of course the fact that they all ended-up being bi-lingual. I'm sure they'd all say the same. One of them is with me now, and his French is as good as ever.


Saturday 6 August 2022

Saturday market.

Our tiny local Saturday market is not the best. There are a few vegetable stalls, some fruit, and a few hippy-ish folk who sell home-made biscuits, honey, nuts, wholemeal loaves, etc.

However, it's a very friendly market. Everyone knows who you are if you've visited them more than once. And the products are always extremely fresh; often picked early that morning.

All the traders are nice people, but one is a cut above the others. He is pitched by the church door and sells fruit-n-veg. I always buy beans from him, and my weekly purchase always turns into a long chat between seemingly old friends. He has a very nice smile, and has the look of an educated professional, rather than a very small market trader (yes, I'm sure lots of small traders have Oxford degrees, etc).

I forgot, yet again, to take my phone with me. I'll do so next Saturday and post some better pictures.


Sporting Billy

We used to play Ping Pong indoors up at the barn, but when the interior became more civilised we were kicked out, and the table remained folded-up amongst the mowers and all the building materials in the end that remained 'barn'.

Now with two grandsons in the house we have moved it outside to a shady spot in anticipation that they might play; so far it has only been us (and Billy).

Billy is totally obsessed with Ping Pong. He always puts his feet up by the net, and acts as umpire. Even when the table was no longer inside the barn he would do the same with the dining table that replaced it. 

He doesn't try to bite the ball, or run off with it, he just watches and enjoys.

I'm afraid our little game didn't last too long; it was far too hot even in the shade. We returned to refresh ourselves in the pool.

Friday 5 August 2022


It's too bloody hot. I believe it's the same throughout the Northern Hemisphere, we're all looking for welcoming shade, some water to throw ourselves into, and a long cold glass of Beer or Pastis.

We eat later than usual, the BBQ is working overtime, salads are popular, and clothes are kept to an absolute minimum. We have enforced laziness, and we don't care. Everyone is in shorts and espadrilles; and accordion music is playing in the background. We lock ourselves away in darkened rooms waiting for the worst to subside.

I love it. "Who would like an icy cold beer? We all would".

Happy Birthday

Today is my late father's birthday; he's the one on the left, with his older brother Reginald.

I find it strange that I always remember my father's birthday, but if you asked me the date of my mother's birthday I'd be grasping at straws.

He was a typical early 20th C father. Slightly distant, stiff upper lip, and traditional. We didn't have a great deal to do with each other, just the occasional "cheerio old chap" as I left for school, and maybe a "hello old chap" as I returned some months later. He never wrote to me whilst I was away.

When I first started work in The City he allowed me to use his tailor, for which I was extremely grateful. When I later received my first class hons degree he asked if it came with a piece of paper. When I said it did, he simply said "Jolly good, jolly good". 

I have great respect for him. He was much loved in the community, was always extremely generous to all those who worked for him, etc. He could always be relied upon 'to do the right thing'. 

So, Happy Birthday father. You would have been 117 today, and would no doubt have celebrated in much the same style as I will this evening; with a glass of good red wine. CHEERS!

Thursday 4 August 2022

Living in Brighton & Hove

A friend recently sent me this Wintery video of Brighton. It even includes my favourite shop, TAJ (1 min 26), although it doesn't show much of it.

If you don't know my dinky UK city, or you only know it by name, I think this gives a reasonable idea of what it's like. Note how 'young' everyone is, it makes me feel like an imposter. Enjoy.

Wednesday 3 August 2022

My Life in 60 seconds.

As I mentioned recently, I have just 'celebrated' my 76th Birthday, and as usual I become contemplative. Those 76 years can be summed-up as follows.

Summer 1946; born Lingfield Surrey England. Nice home, nice parents.

My first playschool-kindergarten was in an old Gypsy caravan in the woods by Hobbs Army Barracks in Felbridge, Surrey; it was run by a young lady who I think may have been called Phoebe. We played with Plasticine and she read stories; it was like living in a real life fairy tale.  It's been all downhill ever since.

Pre-Prep' School East Grinstead Sussex. Prep' School Ashurst Wood Sussex. Upper School Cambridgeshire (Latin Scholar).

1964 moved to London. 'Blue Button' Stock Exchange, Gallery manager, Antiques dealer. Man about town.

1968-ish Horsham School of Art (to assemble portfolio of work). West Sussex College of Art. West Surrey College of Art (1st Class Hons degree). Offer of place at the RCA which I ignored. Married blonde Swedish beauty (three lovely children Kimbo, Tenpin, Wills).

Teaching Moreton Hall, Shropshire, and Windlesham House, Sussex.

1973 Moved to France.

1981-1984 temporarily returned to England to care for dying parents. 1982 visiting lecturer in Caribbean. 1984 moved to Brighton. Live in France 9 months of the year. Slowly return to France full time.

2021 Brexit regulations are enforced, and am restricted to 3 months in France. Return to Brighton for 9.

May 2022 return to France for the prescribed 3 months, which is where I am writing this. What the future will hold remains to be seen!

That's it. My whole life in a few typed lines. Of course one or two other things did happen in between the major events, but they're of no real interest (as probably is none of the above).

Tuesday 2 August 2022

21st C holiday.

Holiday check list; suntan cream, silly hat, inflatable crocodile, Hawaiian T shirt, Covid testing kit, Marmite, and iPhone.

The most important, of course, being the Covid testing kit. Here are the boys testing themselves. The one in the silly hat had had a dose of Covid before leaving England; but had tested negative on the day of departure. Here they are just making sure that all is OK. It was!

Monday 1 August 2022


If you head North East from Brighton towards Lewes, then turn right along the A27, you will come to a small village called Firle. It is here, down a long drive, where you will find one of Sussex's real treasures; Charleston Farmhouse.

It was to here in 1916 that painters Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell moved to set-up their studios. They painted the walls rather than buy wallpaper, and decorated cheap second-hand furniture bought from local junk shops. It was this 'frugality' and desire to decorate that has made Charleston the house it is today.

We were discussing Charleston, the Bloomsbury group, and other related matters over dinner last night, and of course out came my treasured book about the house. The book was co-written by Quentin Bell and his daughter Virginia Nicholson. Sadly Bell died shortly before the book was published, and in her 1998 dedication to me she writes 'from one of the authors, and in memory of the other, best wishes etc'. 

The photo below shows Cro, yesterday evening, reading her letter to me.

The house has a fascinating history, everyone of artistic importance of the early 20th C visited, including Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, etc.

For me the best bit is the interior's painted furniture. One of the few bits not to be painted are Roger Fry's six Omega Workshop dining chairs. However, the table that they surround is painted; I suspect by Grant.

If you're in the area, the house is well worth a visit. It's not exactly Blenheim or Chatsworth, but if you're a Bloomsbury fan; your visit is essential. Check for opening hours.


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