Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Biological Male Wins Beauty Pageant (The Life of Brian)


I'm throwing in the towel, burying my head in the sand, and in compliance with Pascal's Wager, I might as well simply become a liberal lefty wokey nut-job, and accept that I must 'move forward', and not live in the dark ages.

Has it really come to this? Has wokery gone uber-wuber-wokey-pokey-tastic? Sadly there are people actually being 'CANCELLED' for speaking-out AGAINST such nonsense as this.

I fear there's no going back now unless wokery itself sees its folly, and don't say I haven't been warning them!

And please (you know who you are) don't leave comments telling me that all this is OK and I'm being an old fogey. THIS IS ONLY JUST THE BEGINNING, and it's the fault of all those little dungaree-wearing woke Parrots who will do anything to damage normal society!


Tuesday, 29 November 2022

A tale of two homes. Dreaming.


It was the best of times, and it was the best of times. Of course I love England, but there's a lot of France I love too. Both countries have their own version of 'best of times'.

With the bloody awful weather we're having at present, I find myself day-dreaming of France quite often.

Of course it would have to be in Summer, sunny, and with the pool water at around 26 C. I would be sipping a glass of P├ętrus in the early evening with the prospect of throwing a big slab of Lamb on the BBQ a little later. 

We will, of course, eat outside under our covered auvent, where, after dark, I will turn on the 'fairy lights' that make it all so magical. Laughter and bonhomie fill the air, and the sound of Cicadas complete a picture of total contentment. 


However; here we are back in reality, stuck in the house for most of the day, only occasionally venturing out in the pouring rain to empty the dog, or visit a nearby shop to buy some essential ingredient.

We peer out of the front bay to watch the foolhardy battling to control their brollies or forcing themselves against the wind. We watch bits of tiresome Football games on TV in which we have no interest. We have both Lemon Drizzle cake AND a slice of Stollen with our afternoon cup of Lapsang, making us put on those inevitable 'lazy' extra pounds.

What a difference to last year when the sun shone almost every day, we had no rain, and the temperature remained above zero throughout the whole Winter.

I have just looked at the weather forecast, and it is predicting rain until Dec' 8th (it only goes that far ahead). I think I shall have to return to day-dreaming!

Monday, 28 November 2022

Dragon tattoo full back by Trung Tadashi Artist.


Amazing talent, but I still wouldn't have one!


Sunday, 27 November 2022

The Votes are In.


Yes, the votes have been counted, and we have a winner.

Votes for The World Cup's Silliest Haircut goes to.....

Welsh Captain GARETH BALE

Well done Gareth. Your country is proud of you!


 

Friday, 25 November 2022

Godparents.


Have Godparents become a thing of the past?

With so few churchgoers, and so few babies being Christened/Baptised, it does seem that Godparents are no longer required. No more plunging babies into cold water, no more promises to make sure that he/she behaves like a saint, and no more guaranties to make sure the poor thing believes in gods, devils, and pixies.

Only once have I been asked to be a Godfather. It was someone I hardly knew, he was a Catholic, and I had never met the infant daughter concerned. Why he chose me is something of a mystery. Anyway, I said 'no', and explained that I wouldn't be a very good example to a young French maiden. Of course, I could have given her a few Francs every birthday, but that didn't seem a good enough reason to go against all my principles.

I myself had a Godfather; he was the husband of my mother's older sister, known to all as Sir James. Unfortunately, he went mad and ended up in a 'home'. As my dutiful Godfather, he had left me a tidy sum in his will, but by the time he died his own sister had bled him dry. My father had been his executor and revealed the sorry state of affairs after his demise. I really wasn't fussed.

That was my only experience of Godfathers, and I'm not sorry to see the 'position' fading into obscurity. I think we can all happily live without them; and I for one can certainly live without having been one.


Thursday, 24 November 2022

Filthy weather.


The weather has been absolutely foul recently. Wet, wild, and windy. Just what we don't want.

So, what to do?

Any outdoor fun is out of the question, other than dog-walking, so we have to find things to do indoors.

I find myself looking forward to my Lunchtime soup, then looking forward to Crumpets for Tea, then looking forward to something a bit more substantial for Supper. The day becomes ruled by, and divided by, mealtimes.

At present there is plenty of international Football to watch on TV, but that's only OK if one is a fan. I shall watch the England games, but Western Bosnia v Outer Mongolia is not my bag.


I always re-read The Sunday Times, where Dominic Lawson, Camilla Long, and Jeremy Clarkson keep me amused up until about Thursday. I do a crossword or two (try to), or spend a few mins writing this blog. The only book awaiting my attention is Proust's 'A la recherche....' (Vol 1), but as anyone who has attempted to read it will understand, it conveniently gets put aside for later. 

I could pop down to the library and spend a few hours reading in the warmth, filling-in all the 'o's' of a who-done-it, or leaving amusing notes between pages. But it's having to sit beside all those tramps and winos that puts me off. Or I could do what many do and use my bus-pass to ride around the countryside in a double-decker on a circular route that would bring me home again four hours later. No, I don't think so.

Luckily there are a couple of TV programmes on at the moment that I enjoy. One is a sewing competition that I find strangely appealing, probably because I find the whole process totally baffling (and no, I don't sew), and directly afterwards is the other, which is an Antiques appraisal and auction selling programme which is always interesting.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to Christmas, looking forward to Spring, and looking forward to next Summer. I really do not like this time of year.
 

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Yeast v Beef.


I expect most post-war 'bulge babies' (such as myself) will have been raised on these two products; Marmite and Bovril.

Marmite is a Yeast product, and Bovril comes from Beef. Both brands are owned by Unilever.

I just happened to spot a jar of Bovril whilst shopping last Saturday, and was tempted enough to invest.


Bovril fell out of favour in the late 1980's, after a shocking outbreak of highly contagious BSE (Mad Cow Disease). Panic was everywhere, and sadly 4.4 million cattle were slaughtered. There were also almost 200 human fatalities.

My own memories of Bovril date back to when I was a small child. When it was cold, or if I was ill, a large steaming cup of hot Bovril drink (sometimes known as Beef Tea) was just about the most comforting thing on earth. 

So, not having tasted Bovril for well over 50 years, how was it?

Verdict: Not quite as I remember it, but still good. 7/10. (Marmite, of course, still receives a 10/10)

Tuesday, 22 November 2022

Words

 

I'm not a great wordsmith, I have never been someone to throw around obscure words in order to impress. It is not something that impresses me, and I've always imagined that others would feel the same.

However some quite ordinary words have managed to pass me by. Even with my extensive education, certain words that should have been part of my everyday vocabulary have simply managed to escape.

I remember well when I first saw the word 'ampersand' written somewhere, I could hardly believe that I'd got to adulthood without ever having either seen or heard it somewhere or other. It seemed a word that I should have known; and would have been pleased to know.

I've now found another. It may not be a word for daily use, but there it was on the front page of this weekend's Sunday Times, and it stood out like a sore thumb. Talking of Football (well they had to didn't they) someone mentioned waving a flag aloft 'like a holy gonfalon'.

Now, I don't know if you know what a 'gonfalon' is; but I didn't, so let me tell you. It seems that it's a type of flag or banner held from a crossbar; not unlike those Trades union banners one sees on marches, with streamers or tails.

I don't suppose it's a word that I shall be employing too often, apart from anything I don't like the sound of it. But at least if someone sidles up to me and asks "Would you like to see my gonfalon?", I won't have to slap his/her face. A simple 'no thank you' will suffice.

Monday, 21 November 2022

Daily life. A pot-pourri


It's been about 6 weeks since I bought my new black Compact Royce Mk2. She's much the same as her silver predecessor but a newer model and altogether much nicer. She's also a tad wider, so squeezing her into our bijou garage is just that tiny bit trickier.

She's done a smidgin over 30,000 miles, which I consider just about 'run-in', and as you might see from the dash I have personally driven her only 68.3 miles.


I haven't owned a right hand drive car for many years, and I still find myself reaching down to the right to change gear. Otherwise I'm pretty well used to the slight differences from my last one.

I do my main shopping once a week on Saturday mornings at 7.30 am, and I have begun to really look forward to the short drive. Often I go with Kimbo, so that's a treat in itself, but even if I'm alone I love it. This is where those 68 miles have been clocked.

Otherwise my days are filled with dog-walking, wandering aimlessly, reading, writing, and cooking/eating. With no gardening or fires to demand my attention, I am pretty well free to do what I wish. Had we been wintering in France, life would have revolved around log-sawing and keeping the fires burning, as well as all the other daily bucolic chores. Old stone houses need a lot of upkeep and heating.

With a limited income, and more than one home to pay for, we need to be cautious. No £Thousands a week Social Security payments in this household; just hard-earned savings. We may receive a £200 'cold weather payment' this winter, but, like so many, we are not using the central heating (as yet). 

This is self-imposed 'austerity'. Why the Left hate the idea of austerity so much I have no idea; they accusingly talk of it as if it's a mortal sin. If they thought of it as good 'household management' they'd see how silly they sound. It also used to be referred to as 'cutting one's coat according to one's cloth', but I suppose they'd hate that too. Mr Micawber also comes to mind.

My real problem is that I do like to eat and drink well and I won't normally compromise, so finding ways to satisfy my gourmet demands takes considerable effort. I'd love to buy a big joint of Beef for Sundays, but limited funds won't allow.


Brighton is a great place to live, I love walking about looking at everything on offer; and it's tempting to spend! As I mentioned recently my legs are a tad dodgy so I've invested in a new walking stick. It certainly helps, but I don't need it all the time. I expect it will become a good friend in time.

Sunday, 20 November 2022

"Moon River" on Piano for Sharky the Dog


I really enjoyed this; I'm sure you will too.

Saturday, 19 November 2022

Spot the Pill


Each morning I take two pills; one large-ish, and one tiny.

I always lay them out by the side of my breakfast plate, and take them once I've finished eating.


Yesterday I knew I'd put them both out but could only find one; the bigger one.

I looked on the floor, under my plate, on my lap, etc, but couldn't find it anywhere. I soon became very frustrated.

I have recreated the scene exactly as it was, and I'm sure you'll easily see my dilemma.

I blame the woman who chose the tablecloth!

 

Friday, 18 November 2022

Poverty in the UK.


The point-scoring Socialists tell us that there are millions of children living in dire poverty in the UK, and of course it's all the fault of the Tories. Well, I for one haven't seen any sign of poverty anywhere, but I suppose I'll have to believe them.

What I have seen, however, is constant proof of people receiving extremely large amounts of benefits. The couple below are typical of how generous the benefits system in the UK can be. Even our very well paid train drivers don't earn that sort of money. One can understand why so many people paddle across the sea to settle here, and why so many people don't bother to get a job. £84,000 pa for doing nothing is pretty good going. 

If our hard-working nurses get the pay rise they demand and deserve, they will go to around £46,000 pa. Still £38,000 less than this fellow (below) on his £84,000 hand-out. (Of course, he may not be typical; some may receive more, some less)


I do wish this couple had asked someone for 'advice', which I'm sure would have been given willingly.

First, they would have been advised NOT to have 35 dogs; one or two is plenty. Seven children is probably a tad too many as well. They should also have been advised to pay someone to keep their home as clean as possible, and reasonably tidy. They could certainly have afforded it.

Then we come to finance. They should have been taught the basics of home-budgeting; how to feed the family well on £1,000 a month, and save the other £6,000 a month for holidays, flash cars, and yet more tattoos.

This way they would have continued their luxurious life-style, stayed out of jail, and had plenty of cash left over for cocaine, beer, and other frivolities. What's wrong with these people!!!

DISCLAIMER: I do know that people live hand to mouth; they do everywhere. And whilst we continue to hear stories about people such as those above, it makes my blood boil.

Thursday, 17 November 2022

Football.


I've never been a Football fan. I've never played Football, and have only once attended a Pro' match. I was shanghaied into watching Brighton & Hove Albion play against some far superior team back in the mid 60's. I only remember two things about the game; firstly the terrible noise from all the shouting, and secondly Norman Wisdom leading the singing of 'Sussex by the Sea' before kick-off. I think Wisdom was Chairman of the club.


I've always been a Rugby player. I played from Prep' School through to Club Rugby, and have played against such formidable clubs as London Welsh, London Irish, and (worst of all) Croydon RFC. My Club Rugby career ended quite quickly on account of too many regular injuries.

However, I have recently watched some female Football, and very good it was too. I almost prefer it to male Football. It is getting very good coverage at the moment, with several international games on TV. I have noticed that they tend to play at inferior venues, and they are nowhere nearly as well paid as their male counterparts. About time this changed.

N.B. The photo above is of a nearby team in France. I'm not quite sure why they're all wearing chest-warmers, I'm sure they're not all 'trans' players.

 

Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Moving to Oz.


Australia has always been a popular place for Brits to relocate to. It offers just about everything one could ask for, and more.

Two of my children now live in Oz, along with four grandsons. My daughter moved there about 18 years ago, and even though my youngest son has owned property there for many years, I think he has now decided once and for all to settle there as well. He's lived in some wonderful locations all over the world, but has decided that Oz is best.

Both Boo Boo and The Cherub are now at school and doing well, and they are again appreciating all that Oz offers. Below shows the boys with mum Kellogg, watching a game of Cricket.


I believe he has sold his beautiful, gated community house and will soon be looking for another. The area around GoldCoast (where he lives) is not short of nice homes.

I thoroughly approve of people moving to Oz or NZ, the lifestyle it offers is generally superior to that back in the UK. Life is very much based on outdoor activities, everyone speaks English, and the whole system is familiar to an ex-pat. Even though they are about 9,500 miles away, it still feels like 'home'.

Wills has also been building a villa in Thailand for the past few years. Covid stopped the builders completing the work, but I believe they have now returned, and all will soon be finished. He's building it as a holiday rental home. This was it a few years ago (with builder's notes), but I believe it looks very different now.



Sadly I shan't be visiting. I have mobility issues (as I mentioned yesterday), and I couldn't face 14 hours in an aeroplane. Maybe Lady M will visit again, and I'll stay behind with Billy. She loves to travel; I don't.

So, does Oz have a downside? Well the answer has to be 'yes'; all their native wildlife wants to either kill or eat you! Does that put you off?.... It shouldn't.

Tuesday, 15 November 2022

Mobility.


Our personal mobility is something we take for granted, our legs are designed to walk and run just as our lungs are designed to deliver oxygen, and there's no reason why they should go wrong.

So when our mobility is questioned, it comes as a shock. Something as simple as walking is not expected to go wrong. Unfortunately, age has a way of delivering surprises, and uncooperative legs are amongst the worst.

Until about three years ago I was still striding through the woods with the dogs, looking for mushrooms, and enjoying the beauty of it all. Then suddenly I began to take shorter walks as my back and legs were becoming either tired or painful. Now I can just about manage a mile or so before I start to wish I was back home, sitting down.

The culprit seems to be Sciatica. I've looked at the symptoms, and they all point that way. Painful back, pain down legs, and tingling sensation (pins and needles) into feet.  There's no 'cure' as such, just stretching exercises to relieve the back pain. 

It's a nuisance more than anything because it has reduced my walking distance to a small radius from home. Luckily with the car and my bus-pass I can get around OK, but once at my destination I'm limited.

The one thing I've always dreaded about getting older was walking around with an old man's stoop. It looks as if I'm heading that way. The walking stick won't be long!

Self-pitying? Yes, I suppose so, but mostly I'm just annoyed with the inefficiency of my own body.


Monday, 14 November 2022

Things seen in the park, and elsewhere.


Seeing as I go to this park at least twice a day with Billy, you'd think that by now I'd seen everything.

I'm not sure why, or by whom these flowers were left here. I do like to think that some Brighton-based relative left them; but I doubt it. I can't read the inscription. It was a lovely gesture for Remembrance Sunday.


Could this be two trees that were planted too close together, or is it one tree of 'conjoined twins' who are forced to spend their lives together side by side?


This is the path on top of a row of crypts below. There are benches, a large olive tree, and plenty of shrubs. I hardly ever walk up there, I should go more often.


I'm not a great flower gardener, but I think this is a Hebe. I'm sure someone will tell me if I'm wrong.


A little later in the day I ventured down to Brighton's infamous Kensington Gardens. As you can see, it was a tad busy!!! I was forced to take an alternative route, it would have taken me forever to get past all those crowds.


Sunday, 13 November 2022

Daddy, what did you do in the war?

 

I was listening to a radio version of Dad's Army recently, which questioned how Captain Mainwaring had actually become a 'Captain', and it reminded me of my own father (who slightly resembled Mainwaring).

Father didn't really talk much about his activities during the war, but I think he was in The Home Guard, and was also a Special Constable. However, towards the end of the war he (who had studied Accountancy to a certain level) was commandeered to find the source of some quite serious fraud that was going on at a couple of nearby Army transit camps.

When he was interviewed for the job, the (Surrey Light Infantry?) officer amusingly asked him what rank he thought he should be given; Private or Captain? Father suggested that being a public school man, it would give him more kudos if he was a Captain; so 'Captain' he became.

I have no idea if this was ever actually made official, or written down anywhere; I suspect NOT, as he didn't wear a uniform, but when he visited the camps to inspect the books, he was apparently told to introduce himself as Captain 'Magnon'.

He very quickly found where the fraud was taking place, and a couple of Officers were eventually court marshalled. His job was done, and father returned to being plain Mister again.

He had been a quasi-Captain for about two weeks (?). My father told me this story just a few months before he died, otherwise I would never have known. I do vaguely remember him telling me about his role in fraud-busting, but not the bit about his rank.

p.s. I have always found his story a bit baffling, but just recently I learned that BBC War Correspondents were also given the honorary rank of Captain, so I'm now convinced that his story was absolutely true. He seemed to find the episode quite comical, but maybe that was the whiskey colouring his tale. 


Saturday, 12 November 2022

Sky Portrait Artist of the Year.


I suppose I am naturally drawn to this TV programme because I've always wanted to be a BETTER portrait painter than I am.

I have only seen two episodes, but I gather that each week the programme highlights about 9 painters who are given a certain amount of time to paint a celebrity of some sort. The format gives each group of three painters one of three sitters to work on.

There is no doubt that many of the painters really know their job, and produce superb work.


Others, not unlike this chap above, CHEAT. They take photos and ignore the sitter. Some square-up their photos on paper and work from that. This is not in the spirit of portrait painting, and would normally come under the heading of 'illustration'.

I, myself, know fellow painters who work from photos, use lightboxes, and employ all sorts of devices to make their work look better. There is nothing wrong with this; it is 'picture making'.

Of course any buyer of a painting is buying an object, and it hardly matters how it was created, but with portrait painting I, personally, would prefer that it was done with skill rather than by the use of some gadget. 

Admiring the skill of a painter is half the fun, knowing that something is simply a copy of a photo takes away that fun; and maybe the original photo was better anyway.

I remember well judging an Art Club competition myself, where half the entries were paintings of D Spencer, some pop star, or a TV celeb; all painted from photos (some worse than others). I gave the prize to an elderly farmer who'd painted the view from his farmhouse on the back of an old door. 

He'd used whatever old paint pot colours (mostly green) that he'd found in his shed, and was not a particularly adept painter. However, the painting was magnificent and must have taken him ages to paint. It was a huge landscape showing all his divided fields, complete with Sheep and trees. I wasn't popular with those who'd meticulously copied photos.

 

Friday, 11 November 2022

Words fail me.


What you are seeing in this photo below is some woke, smart-arse, numpty, up on a gantry crossing the very busy M25 motorway, with over a dozen policemen standing around below, gawping at him, having stopped all flow of traffic.

The M25 is the ring-road around London, and is its major artery.


As far as I can see there are only two questions. 

1. Why should one person climbing on a gantry stop traffic? I'm sure he presents no danger to motorists whatsoever. 

2. Why are all those policemen doing nothing? Either go and bring him down, or if he refuses, just handcuff him to the gantry and get on with proper crime-solving. It ain't rocket bloody science!

Armistice Day.


On the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, we will remember them.


Photo: Alphonse wearing Poppy.

 

Thursday, 10 November 2022

Washing-up; his-n-hers.


No doubt in your household too, such sights as below are very common; ours often far worse than this!

However, in this house we have two very different solutions.


Solution 1: Squirt of soapy stuff, wash with hot water, dry, put away. Time, about 3 mins, cost 1p.

Solution 2: Load everything into expensive Washing-up machine, put-in some sort of very expensive tablet thingy, reach for makers' instruction pamphlet, find the right buttons to press, choose length of time between 2 hrs and 2 days, select 'start', then leave for foreign holiday until it's finished its full cycle. Time, anything up to a week, cost, soon to be anywhere up to £100 per wash. 

So which solution do you follow? I shan't say which is mine; but it isn't No 2.

 

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Illegal Immigration, an idle suggestion.

 

When I return to my native land, I need to show my valid passport stating that I have 'right of abode' in the UK. If I was to try to enter without any papers I'd probably be thrown in the slammer and put on bread and water.

So, when people land on the beach in their own craft (rather than taking the much cheaper, safer, legal, and more comfortable ferry) they should go through the exact same process as I do. If they can present passports and proof of residency in an EU country, or possess some sort of genuine visa, they would be given a three month permit to stay, and allowed to go on their way; just like everyone else. If they wished to apply for asylum at a later date they could do so.

If, however, they have no papers they should be treated like any other illegal immigrant. All I wish to see is EQUALITY, and basic abidance of the law.

Of course it'll never happen; nor probably should it. But someone has to come to a realistic solution. We cannot continue to have hordes of Albanians (other nationalities are available) being let loose on our high streets (currently the number of Albanians in UK prisons is costing us £57 Million p.a. Many of these people come with criminal intent, or to escape criminal proceedings back at home. They are certainly not wanted here.

I cannot understand why (yet again) there is one rule for law-abiding citizens, and another for the law breakers. And why the law breakers should be treated to hotel rooms, free handouts, and pampering, baffles me. I suppose (yet again) it's their so-called 'Human Rights'.

Of course, Sir Kier Starmer (Lab) continues to moan about the situation, and moan about every proposed solution; but he would.

Some hard-line action HAS to be taken, even if it is slightly distasteful. The whole business has become ridiculous, and out of hand!

N.B. Just in case news of such UK illegal immigration has not reached wherever you live, the photo above shows what has become a daily occurrence on South Coast beaches around Dover. About 40,000 have arrived in small rubber boats so far this year; mostly men, and I believe mostly from Albania.

Tuesday, 8 November 2022

Around Town.


We've been having some pretty awful on & off weather over the past few days. However, after Sunday lunch our guests took Billy down to the sea, and my son, Kimbo, took this beautiful photo.

I think Billy must have been caught unawares by the waves; he doesn't usually venture in much above his elbows!


Closer to home, these roses are directly opposite our front door, and are beautiful.

                               

Not quite so beautiful is this new tent that has just appeared in Billy's exercise park. I wouldn't want to be in their shoes, it must be miserable camping in the weather we've been having. I wish them well.
 

Tuesday morning: I'm just back from my early morning walk with Billy, and I see that the above tent is now flattened and flapping about in the wind. No doubt, like visitors to Glastonbury, the owners are wealthy enough to buy a new tent each time they venture out. I'm no camper, but personally I wouldn't just abandon a tent after a few days use!

Monday, 7 November 2022

The Pub' with no Bitter


I met my son and daughter-in-law at the boozer, and was informed that there was no 'bitter'.

This, as you can imagine, sent shock waves through the clientele. They were banging their heads against the wall, cutting at their wrists with jagged pieces of pork scratchings, and some were even praying to Dionysus in a last desperate attempt to re-fill the pumps. 

Luckily Cro has a card up his sleeve on such rare occasions, and he reverts to drinking draught Guinness. I do occasionally drink draught Guinness in France too, but that (bizarrely) comes from a can.

Here's the old chap halfway through his second pint, beginning to feel mellow. I do love an evening at the Pub'. The old rogue!


 

Sunday, 6 November 2022

Pure Genius.

 


One can learn a lot from the radio, even from radio comedy programmes. One such, on BBC Radio 4 Extra, even calls itself 'Genius', and proposes genius ideas from members of the public which are later voted on, to find the day's winner.

One such recent genius idea was aimed at the simple Parking Meter, an object that we all hate so much.


Instead of Parking Meters, it was proposed that we would have Parking Meter Fruit Machines. Pop your £1 in the slot, pull the arm, and wait for the result. You might lose your £1, you might just get an hour's parking, you might get anything from one to five hours parking, or you might win a jackpot, with coins flooding-out from a slot at the bottom.

It wouldn't only be car owners who would feed money into these machines, passers-by might just have a quick flutter on the chance of winning, school children might gamble their lunch money, or OAP's might risk some of their pension in the hope of making a few quid. It would be FUN FOR ALL.

I must say, just like the audience members on the show, I too thought this a genius idea and I would encourage the 'Minister of Parking and Nastiness' to consider the idea very seriously. 

Saturday, 5 November 2022

Cranes.

 


Our good friend Craig, back in France, posted this wonderful photo on his Facebook page recently.


There are very few things in nature that create such emotion.

The annual leaving and returning of the Cranes is probably the best example. Every year we would see them above our cottage, high in the air calling to each other, and occasionally circling to reform the group.

We would wave as they went by, and shout 'Farewell' as they made their perilous journey South. It was almost tear inducing. When they returned the following year it was with a huge sigh of relief that we shouted 'Welcome home', accompanied by more waving and more emotion. 

I cannot think of any other wild-life event that has the same effect on us. 

Friday, 4 November 2022

Wishful Thinking.

 

When we returned to Blighty for Winter 2021/2022 we were met by daily sunshine, no sub-zero temperatures, and hardly any rain. We felt as if 'Global Warming' was very much on our side, and we did begin to hope that it might last. 

This year has already been very different. My new Barbour Stockman coat has already had plenty of use, I regret not bringing back my wellies, and according to the forecast we are in for plenty more foul weather; and we've only been back for two months.

I don't dislike wind, in fact I rather like a stiff breeze, what I don't like is wind when it gets to tile-removing force, and even less so if it's combined with horizontal rain, snow, or hail.

I don't even dislike some mild frost; anything up to minus 5C is reluctantly accepted.

I recently bought a waxed rain hat to accompany my new coat, but it is useless. The rim is too thin and it flops down over my eyes so that I can't see. I shall have to buy another.

My youngest invited us to spend the Winter with him down in Oz, where, of course, they are having a lovely Summer. But the idea of spending 20 hours in an aeroplane is totally out of the question. I wouldn't mind spending the Winter in Martinique or Guadeloupe which would involve a 6 or 7 hour flight, but since Brexit, all French Dom/Toms are as interdit as the mainland.  

So, we'll hunker down, make sure we have tent-like seriously waterproof clothing by the back door, and prepare for a wet and cold Winter. My gloves are at the ready, and yesterday I bought a new woolly scarf.

We shall survive, but oh how I wish it was like last year. Yesterday was really foul!

Thursday, 3 November 2022

Some Naughty Royals.

 

The reign of Queen Elizabeth II was almost faultless but it did have its moments; just nowhere near as many as Netflix would have us believe.

I suppose we have to start with The Queen's younger sister, Margaret, who was, in any other situation, a perfectly normal fun-loving gal. Sadly her penchant for riding around on motor bikes, getting squiffy in restaurants, and leading young men astray, was not seen as befitting a Princess.

Then we had Fergie... Dear old Fergie, the first 'royal consort' to demonstrate how best to be a 'commoner' by going on a rubbish TV game show. It brought the alure of the Royals down to rock bottom, and we all groaned as she and a few other young Royals made idiots of themselves. After five years of marriage to Prince Andrew she became bored with his constant absence (his duty as a Naval Officer naturally took priority over his being at home) and Fergie began to 'look elsewhere'. Amazingly it was Princess Margaret who wrote to her saying "You have done more to bring shame on the family than could ever have been imagined".

After, and running parallel to, Fergie came the still much-admired Ms Spencer. After two years of marriage her roaming eye very quickly led to a string of 9 different lovers, whilst new husband Prince Charles cosied-up to his one true love and waited for a divorce after which he would re-ignite his relationship and marry the much more suitable Camilla. Diana's constant search for privacy led to an army of paparazzi following her every move and naming her every new beau. It was whilst trying to escape the press and hide her relationship with Dodi Fayad that it ended badly.

In more recent times the antics of 'Randy Andy', and 'Ginger and Whinger' have been grabbing the headlines. Both Andy and Harry have now been stripped of certain titles and duties, and Harry's wife has dug a huge hole for herself into which she has willingly leapt. Of course for Netflix it's the bastards at Buck House who are all to blame.

I don't see any 'bad eggs' waiting in the wings, so King Charles's reign starts well. The current junior Royals now seem like a good bunch, but of course they are young, and it remains to be seen how they develop. Little Prince George does have a look of Henry VIII about him, so maybe a few future heads will roll.

Overall, it was a calm reign for Her Majesty. Just an errant sister, three errant consorts, one errant son, and an errant grandson wasn't a bad record. Let's now hope that the 'person' her aides named as the 'Narcissistic Sociopath', and her lap-dog husband, just shut-up, and go away. 

As far as 'they' are concerned, if the only way you can earn mega-money is by being nasty about your esteemed family in TV interviews, fictitious documentaries, and in silly so-called biographies, then it's time to take a long hard look in the mirror. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2022

Pease Pudding/Dahl. An Update.


I wrote recently about Mushy Peas and Pease Pudding. My resolve was to try to convert Pease Pudding into Dahl. The ingredients were perfect, no reason why I shouldn't cut a corner and make wonderful Dahl.


I procured a 6 pack from Amazon (beware, some packs were twice the price of others), I paid a not-unreasonable £11.79. The first can was opened yesterday.

I diluted it slightly whilst re-heating, I added all my favourite spices and curry pastes, and seasoned with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. But the TEXTURE was all wrong. It tasted good, but it was 'gloopy', and had the consistency of thick Wallpaper Glue. 

So, my verdict as 'Dahl' is a generous 5/10. However, Pease Pudding has its own place in life, and with another 5 tins in the store cupboard I will have to find other uses. Soup comes to mind, but the most popular seems to be as an accompaniment for a few handsome slices of boiled Ham, with the newest potatoes from Norfolk or Lincs, and of course a flagon of Claret wine from Gaul; which is what I shall try next.

It's an interesting product, but not for everyone. As for Dahl I shall continue to make my own from ordinary pink Lentils.

 

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

ELMS. Food v Weeds.

 

Paying farmers to 'do nothing' happens across mainland Europe, just as it does here. I have to look out daily (in France) over a huge field of Brambles as proof. I can understand these young farmers' (below) reluctance to lose their 'money for nothing', but I, for one, hope they do.

The rather pompous sounding Government's 'Environmental Land Management Scheme' is simply another way of saying 'leave your land permanently fallow and we'll pay you good money to watch the weeds grow'.

These days we really need our farmers to grow things; preferably edible ones. Our need for fruit, veg', meat, milk, eggs, and grains, will only get greater. As a nation we must import less, and produce more. The last time we were in a similar situation was during, and after, WW2 when 'Dig for Victory' became the byword. There has to be a new 'Return to the Land', and we must make sure that those who do are well remunerated.


Most farmers have the kit required for preparing soil, sowing, or planting. All they need is the incentive. Farmers have always been concerned for the environment without having to be paid, and they will again. It's in their interest to look after their own land. Paying people not to do what they do best is pure irresponsibility. I did note that the protesters above all seem quite young. I imagine they're all looking for a quiet life on Daddy's farm once they leave the RAC Cirencester

As an example, I recently bought a jar of Gherkins that hailed from Poland; why are these not grown and bottled in the UK? Nothing is easier to grow and process; I used to grow them commercially in France myself! This is outrageous. Whilst the government is paying our farmers to sit at home and (I imagine) listen to The Archers, we are supporting Polish farmers who are actually prepared to grow what other countries need.

A government report into the continuity of these unnecessary ELMS payments is about to be published any day, and I for one hope that they see sense, and are stopped. Would the Ministry of Art and Culture (?) have paid me not to paint? Of course not, nor should they pay farmers not to farm.

Let's make sure our farmers are well paid to produce what the country needs, and not to sit around watching the weeds grow. We grubbed-up acres and acres of Apple orchards to placate the EU, now is the time to accept what folly that was, and get planting again.

The UK is a 'green and pleasant land', and there isn't a lot we can't grow here (other than the obvious). Time to roll up those sleeves, and get out on the land. Your Country Needs You.

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