Thursday, 23 March 2023

Covid confinement.

What to do when you have Covid?

Most importantly, regardless of how ill one feels, things have to carry-on much as usual. Billy needs his three walks each day, we need to eat, and as difficult as it might seem we need to fight-off the boredom of enforced isolation.  

Thanks to enlightening daytime TV, we will soon become antiques experts, DIY experts, and experts in the price of country property in Devon and Somerset.

Only when one has time to kill does one really understand the dire state of daytime TV. Luckily I have my crosswords to keep me busy, and I still try to write a bit each day, but these things still creep past my blinkers, and pollute.

My greatest saviour is, of course, Billy. If he spies me doing nothing, he leaps on me, and tries to gnaw my hands whilst growling and attempting to sound vicious. He's never happier than when he has one of my hands between his sharpened teeth. I always let him win!

I'm now almost able to 'think' clearly again. I'm making plenty of mistakes whilst typing, which means more time spent correcting. I'm also very weak and listless, and my taste-buds have gone on strike. Going for short isolated dog-walks can also be very tiring.

We're getting there.


Wednesday, 22 March 2023

A death in the family. The end of an era.


I was notified recently of the death of an elderly aunt. She was the widow of my late uncle, who was my mother's younger brother. My aunt died aged 97.

My sister reminded me that this is the end of a generation. We no longer have any uncles or aunts; just cousins. We ourselves have now become 'the older generation', and will be the next lot to appear amongst The Obits.

After a traumatic war experience, my uncle settled down to farming; he later went into pharmaceuticals. My aunt had been a nurse. I remember being sent to their lovely old-fashioned stone-built Welsh farm when I was about 5 or 6. For a small boy it was heaven, there was a stream to fish in, barns full of hay to climb on, and plenty of old machinery to clamber over. I had wonderful adventures, all in the company of my favourite Uncle and Aunt.

All this has now gone and I only have a few small box-Brownie photos to remind me of those wonderful times.

My uncle's farm had a delightful name. It was either Pandy at the Candy, or Candy at the Pandy; I can't remember which. Whatever it was, it was perfect; just how an old Welsh farm should be.

So, RIP my Aunty Alice. 

Tuesday, 21 March 2023


I'm not really a Football fan. I've never played the game, and have only once been to a professional match; which just happened to be Brighton and Hove Albion, back in the 60's.

However our local team are doing quite well, and have become a serious force in the top division. They also have a fabulous new out-of-town stadium. They play in the top echelons of the game, and have beaten many of the English teams that are known world-wide, including Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Everton, and West Ham.

I was in the park with Billy recently when I saw this double-decker bus going past. I don't know if it's been around for a while, but it was new to me. With a big game on Sunday afternoon, I imagine it was being used for publicity reasons.

Sunday's game was against Grimsby (a team not in the same league). We won by 5-0. Grimsby have a 'fish' as their mascot. Brighton, of course, have a 'seagull'. As everyone knows, seagulls eat fish for breakfast!!!

This, below, was goal No 4.

Brighton will now play against Manchester Utd or Fulham in the semi-finals (I think). Not quite the same push-over as with Grimsby.

Good luck boys.

Monday, 20 March 2023


At last I have confirmation. I definitely have COVID.

I'd begun to feel a bit better and was coming around to the idea that is was Flu, but my oldest brought us a new test kit, and there they were; the two red lines. Positive!

In some ways it was quite reassuring, I now know exactly what we have. Having had all the vaccines possible I don't think it'll affect us for too long. One week, maybe two at the most.

I'm still very lethargic, and my appetite is lacking. But all will be well, and we'll soon be fine. We simply have to stay away from people for a couple of weeks.

As soon as my son saw the two red lines; he fled! He's off to Florence (Italy) tomorrow, and didn't want to be contaminated He's already had it twice.

Friday, 17 March 2023


Still alive. Thank you for kind, helpful, and occasionally amusing comments yesterday. I hope to be back soon.


Thursday, 16 March 2023

Oh no!!!


What we've been dreading for the past few years looks to have arrived. 

After having felt a bit under the weather for the past few days, Lady Magnon was about to do a Covid test but found bits of the kit missing, so no definitive prognosis. 

I am also showing symptoms, but not as bad as Lady M's.

We have both been coughing, and have painful chests. I have a thumping headache, a hot pain behind my eyes, and terrible lethargy. I have also lost my appetite, I have a temperature, and have been shivering. It really is most unpleasant. Whether or not it is Covid we don't know, but I suspect as much. Last night I didn't sleep a wink; I was restless all night long, and am really tired this morning.

I found writing the above quite taxing, so please excuse me if I don't reply to comments. After I've taken Billy for his morning walk, I will probably return to my bed!

Wednesday, 15 March 2023

Riders and runners.

Billy definitely has his dislikes, not unlike the dog above.

He doesn't care for cyclists, and he dislikes joggers. But most of all he doesn't like people who suddenly appear from behind him.

He's much better now with the cyclists and joggers, and he simply gives them a withering look, but if someone suddenly comes running-up from behind us, he'll probably try to snap at his or her heels. I keep him on a very short lead in such situations to avoid being sued.

All this only happens when he's on his lead. When running free he is much more tolerant. There is something about a lead that spells 'territory'. When he meets other dogs in the park they play together, no questions asked. But if he meets one on a lead, and he's on his lead too, then they always growl at each other. Again I imagine it's territorial, or maybe he's simply defending his owner.

Generally he's very well behaved, but there are certain behaviours that seem to be built-in to the canine mind, and there's little point trying to remove them. One simply needs to be aware.


Tuesday, 14 March 2023

The big trek.

I always used to drive non-stop down from Dieppe (or Calais) to our cottage, but I was younger then, and a 700 km trip was no big deal.

These days I do what I'm told and we stop about half way down in a reasonably-priced, dog-friendly, hotel that we've now got to know quite well. It's the Ibis at Nord Saran.

It's a well-known chain hotel on the outskirts of Orléans which suits us fine. It's not easy to reach, but I'm getting to know the route thanks to Google Maps; I don't have Sat Nav. It isn't conveniently situated by the side of a main road like most large hotels; but hidden away down complicated side roads. As you can see by the photo, it's not the prettiest of buildings.

The rooms are comfortable, Billy settles down happily in his bed, and the staff are always pleasant. But it does have one major fault.

The so-called 'Restaurant' is absolutely dreadful. The meals are bought-in from some awful factory, re-heated, and served in red-hot dishes. I had one 'roast chicken with new potatoes' dish that was edible, but I've had others that I wouldn't give to the dog. The last meal I had there was 'fish with fresh season's vegs'; it was almost inedible. At the same time Lady M had a pizza which was totally bizarre.

However, their breakfasts are very good. Plenty of choice, and you can eat as much as you like to set you up for the day's drive ahead.

For this year's trip I've taken note of a few local eateries that we might visit, but I have a feeling that we will simply relax with some sandwiches and a bottle of wine, and dine al fresco (al hotel-roomo).

I only have a few strict criteria for hotels in which I stay. The bed must be comfortable, have an ensuite bathroom/loo, be reasonably priced, and have a well-stocked breakfast bar. This one does all of that, and is dog-friendly too. It's just such a shame that their evening meals are so dreadful. I'm not interested in the interior or exterior aesthetics of such over-night stopping places, I just want a bed, a drink, and something in my belly to start the next day.

Strangely I have begun to look forward to our visits to Orléans. It's become a part of the whole travel experience, and I now no longer bother to look for more suitable alternatives.

Monday, 13 March 2023

Alphonse's origins.


Alphonse sits right in front of me, leaning against the wall behind my laptop. I often find myself looking at him, and thinking of his origins.

The annual Red Cross Ball, which is held in some swanky Park Lane hotel, has been taking place for decades. As far as I know my mother only went once which was when she found/bought Alphonse.

These events are mostly for fund-raising, and the guests are chosen from amongst the rich and famous; who have plenty of 'funds' available. How, or why, my parents ended-up attending one I have no idea. My mother was a Red Cross Nurse during the war, but I have no idea if there was any connection, I somehow presume there must have been. My people were 'comfortable', but they certainly weren't amongst the glitzy rich.

Money is raised for the Red Cross from the sale of tickets and an auction of donated items. Alphonse was amongst the auction lots when my mother was there. She made a bid, and was successful.

All I know about him is that he is supposedly dressed as a British Prisoner of War under the Japanese, with a straw hat and straw shoes. I imagine money was being raised to send-out food parcels to our men there.

Alphonse must have been purchased in about 1943 or 4. I was born in 1946 and he was given to me. This makes Alphonse almost 80 years old. The Poppy was my own addition.

I do hope someone looks after him when I'm gone.

Sunday, 12 March 2023

What I'm dreaming of.

The UK has been suffering some awful Winter weather.  

It was wet-n-windy here for a couple of days, horrible, and I believe there were even a few millimetres of snow on the other side of The South Downs (i.e. what we call 'Up North'), so I began day-dreaming again; it's what I do best. Photo from 3 days ago.

In less than three months time, we shall decamp to France for the Summer. We shall stay there for June, July, and August, and do all those things we've been missing over Winter; like constantly mowing all the acres of bloody grass up at the barn and around the cottage, and generally trying to keep the place from becoming totally overgrown.

We shall swim several times a day, spend far too much time trying (in vain) to keep the pool clean, and curse at any sign of developing algae. Such is the life of a pool-owner; it ain't all fun and frolics. Below is how I would like it to be; permanently.

I shall go mushrooming. I'm almost certain to find Girolles, but whether or not we'll have a crop of Cèpes (below) is never guaranteed. They are without doubt the world's best mushrooms, so my fingers are crossed. August can be a very good Cèpe month; it depends on the amount of rain.

But, I suppose what we're looking forward to most is that wonderful peace and quiet of open countryside that our home offers. I wake every morning to this scene, and never tire of it. We may not have Sunflowers this year, but the open landscape is always spectacular.

We are currently re-considering our future residency in France. My youngest has put his newly converted barn on the market (top; he's in no rush to sell) and we are toying with the idea of doing the same within the next few years. Property abroad needs to be lived-in, looked-after, and up-kept. Nothing has yet been decided, but sadly Brexit has rather mucked-up our long-term future there. However, it also has to be said that our tiny hamlet is not what it was, so we won't be too heartbroken to say 'goodbye', if or when we sell. We've had 50 great years there. In future we shall travel to other more exotic destinations, but for the moment we'll be very happy to spend time there again.

Anyone who's thinking of moving to France, and buying a beautiful home (with the financially advantageous letting potential of an additional small cottage and pool) needs look no further. All of the above could be yours for the price of a bed-sit in S Ken; and you'd never need to go out to work again.

I might even divulge my best mushroom locations.


Saturday, 11 March 2023

Happy Birthday.

Today is my eldest son's (Kimbo) birthday; March 11th.

This is a photo of him with Lady Magnon. I expect he was about 1 year old.

It's one of my better photos, when I still processed and printed my own B & W photos.


Sunak, Macron, and those boats.


PM Rishi Sunak has promised that (this time) he really WILL do something about the illegal immigrant problem, and stop those small rubber boats arriving in droves on our shores.

We have already paid the French £63Million to help with their side of the problem (which of course they pocketed and ignored). It's not in their interest to keep 'undesirables' in France, they would much prefer to help them get to England; not prevent them from getting there.  

Rishi has again spoken with Macron, and this time has offered a staggering £500Million. However, Macron has said that in no way could the UK be able to return the so called 'refugees' to France, and he ain't having none of it. But I expect he'll accept the £500Million anyway. He'd be fou not to.

The answer to this is obvious.... they must never reach our shores!

The problem is easily resolved if the UK had the 'gumption'. The UK Border Control boats, which are out in The Channel permanently, could simply catch them mid-Channel, perform a few confusing circles, then tow them back to France. They could even assure them that where they were heading for England, and they'd all rush ashore with smiles on their faces; claiming asylum.

There are procedures in place for arriving in the UK legally, and generally they are cheaper than buying a place on an illegal boat. But many won't go through the correct procedures on account of their criminal past (or present). Their only chance of arriving at Eldorado is a place on a boat, and as much as I want to believe Rishi, I can't see a reduction in arrivals happening. Let's wait and see what the figures are like this time next year!!!

And Pur-leeeeze; let's not be sending these people all around the world at huge expense to us the taxpayers. They must go back from whence they came; not to Rwanda.

Friday, 10 March 2023


I was never much good at Chess, in fact I was probably better at Snakes and Ladders.

However, I did teach my children to play, and I once ran a Chess Club at a local Primary School. I introduced them to the basics, and showed them a few tricks of the trade.

I don't think I have the right type of brain for Chess. I can think a few moves ahead, but no more than 'a few', when I should be thinking in terms of much more.

Anyway, we keep a nice set in the house, and I'm pleased to see that my oldest has taught his boys to play. 

I'm just waiting for them to start beating their father. Ha ha.


Thursday, 9 March 2023

Nothing really.

If I'm short of a blog subject (not too often the case) I usually revert to pictures of my locality.

Seeing as I pass through this churchyard at least twice a day, it's a handy subject for a snap.

Amazingly we've had Daffs since well before Christmas, but at the moment they're at their best.

The red door is the entrance to The Bell Tower. The ringers practice on three Monday evenings each month, and play at least two peels on Sunday mornings starting at about 9.45 am. There is a flat tombstone right opposite the door, where Billy and I often sit and listen to the bells. Nothing could be more 'English'.

On the far side of the church is a large grassy 2 acre 'field', where dog walkers exercise their pooches. Much like the 'Peace Garden' where I take Billy for his first walk of the day, the churchyard is filled with friendly folk who greet us warmly. As I was taking the above photo, two very attractive young ladies shouted "Good Morning" at me. They were both dressed in Gym kit, so we had an amusing short Gym-related conversation before they continued on their way 'giggling'.

This is why I love Brighton so much. There is a genuine sense of community here. I don't know if it exists throughout the city, but in our little 'village' area it's palpable.  

Tuesday, 7 March 2023


The problem with many UK doors is that the trees are felled in the morning, sawn into planks by lunchtime, then made into doors before teatime. 

The still-dripping-wet wood itself is probably some cheap knotty Pine, and the actual door-making process industrialised and shoddy.

Almost everyone I know who still has old fashioned wooden doors, has problems with them. With the UK's dampish climate they shrink or swell, and split or stick (depending on the season). They can be a right pain in the neck. We have already had to have a carpenter to see to two of our outside doors this winter.

So, up the road, my son Kimbo has decided to do something about the problem, and has installed a new 'state of the art' non-wood door. This isn't the standard composite door, but a new very solid 21st C version. 

He has now also installed the black and gold house number on the borrowed-light above, and it looks very 'chic'.

I went by yesterday morning to inspect the work, and it looks superb. The door doesn't look that different to the last one, but it's really solid, and will remain un-swelled for decades to come; if not centuries. Well done Kimbo!

p.s. Looking at the photo, I'm wondering if those wires up the wall are actually doing anything. They look to me like the old GPO wiring, where they took whatever was the most direct route, regardless of aesthetics. Horrible; I shall make enquiries.


Monday, 6 March 2023

Sunday Fun.

I only buy one newspaper per week; The Sunday Times.

On Page 3 of the 'Home' section, there is a half page of houses for sale. Mostly nice homes from around the country, at a various selection of prices.

Every week we look through the houses, assess which one we would buy (as if we were in the market), and see if everyone else thinks alike.

I'm very pleased to be able to tell you that 99.9% of the time, we all choose the same house.

This week's was a relatively cheap house in Kent. At under £900,000 (the cheapest on offer) it was an old farmhouse with an Oast-house, and outbuildings. In the photo it is the second one up from the bottom on the right. I'm pleased to say that all four of us (with Kimbo and Susie) chose the same one.

We don't go for the most impressive or exclusive, we always think in terms of where we'd like to live.

If you take The Sunday Times, and you are more than one in the house, then I recommend that you play this wonderfully intellectual and rewarding game; and, like us, get huge enjoyment from knowing that one's impeccable taste is shared by all.


Sunday, 5 March 2023

My boys.

Boo Boo and The Cherub are now well installed into Aussie life.

They love their school, and they have begun to play Tennis, and are learning Judo. 

This, below, shows them celebrating their mother's (Kellogg) birthday. I believe they had chosen a seafood restaurant where they ate a never-ending supply of giant Lobsters, etc; they loved it.

The boys live in Gold Coast on the East coast of Australia, to the South of Brisbane. It's an extremely pleasant place to live, with a fabulous beach, and just about every amenity you could wish for. A place where one could very easily become a part-time beach-bum, eat BBQ'd Prawns all day, and surf forever on perfect waves.  

We miss our boys terribly. Lady M especially loved cooking for, and with, them; which they adored. Her 'Cheesy Pasta' was, and remains, an absolute favourite. I wouldn't be surprised if she jets-off to see them sometime soon, with cheese and pasta in hand.

I'm not sure when I'll see them again, but we speak via WhatsApp quite regularly.

They seem to be growing-up quite well without me. I wonder what they will become?

Saturday, 4 March 2023

Constance Marten and Mark Gordon charged with manslaughter of baby

The only people to have been grabbing more news space than Harry and Meghan recently, have been the bizarre couple Constance Marten and Mark Gordon.

People outside of the UK will probably not have heard about them. Ms Marten comes from an aristocratic family. Her home (below) came with several thousand acres, and a privileged lifestyle second to none.

Then she met convicted rapist, and jailbird, Mark Gordon, and 'ran away' with him. He had previously served 20 years in a US prison for the rape and assault of a Florida woman when he was 14 years old. 

They slept in tents, moved around constantly, and lived the lives of clandestine escapees. During this time, Ms Marten had a baby, which was said to have been born in a car, and later died. The circumstances of the death are being investigated.

I suppose the only real question would have to be 'why on earth did she chose this type of life above any other?' 

They could have taken a flat together in London, moved to Paris, or travelled around N Africa on a camel; her choices were endless. Even tough Ms Marten was a wealthy young woman, she preferred to live the life of a tramp. They had committed no crime (that I know of), so there was no reason to hide. No doubt all will be revealed in time, but for the moment they were arrested here in Brighton, and are to face a magistrates court, in Crawley, over the alleged 'manslaughter' of their child.

Here, below, is how Sky News saw the affair.

Friday, 3 March 2023


Thomas was an enigma. He would turn-up in the mornings, settle down on his preferred sofa, and snooze the day away in the comfort of our home.

Where he came from, we had no idea. If he was someone's beloved pet, we also had no idea. Maybe he was a homeless alley cat; we really didn't know. All we knew was that he had discovered our cat flap (we had no cat at the time), and used our house as a free daytime hotel.

We called him Thomas, rather predictably, because he was ginger and male. He was quite friendly (when awake), and presumably preferred us to his actual owners (if indeed he had any).

As he was a good sitter (sleeper) he was fun to draw and paint, and he appeared in several paintings and drawings. Here he is (below) in my painting 'Après la Fête', whilst it was still being worked on in my studio.


I have always liked cats, and was brought-up with them rather than dogs. We always had a cat around. They looked after the mouse and rat population that lived around our chicken, bantam, and duck runs at the far end of the garden.

We only ever had two types of cat; black and tabby. The black ones were always called 'blackie' (whilst such names were still allowed), and the tabbies were always called 'tiddles'. Not unlike my aunt who lived nearby, who's dogs were all called 'rover'. Not bothering with new names seemed to run in the family.

We haven't had a cat since Freddie died back in 2018, and I can't see us having another one. I miss having one around. I like their haughty 'holier than thou' attitude towards humans. Another one like Thomas would be good. He'd come to see us, then go home again at night. Perfect. 

Thursday, 2 March 2023

Three Brighton Boozers.

There are, apparently, 900 pubs in Brighton, but sadly I don't have the time to tell you about all of them. Anyway, I'll start with my own local boozer The Caxton; it's a very cosy and friendly pub. 

It's not old. It was built in 1862, then reconstructed in 1928. The interior is book-lined with plenty of photos of things of local interest. It is also a dog-friendly pub, where Billy is well known. This is my pub of choice, especially as it's only about 200 yards away. They also do wonderful Sunday lunches.

The Cricketers, in The Lanes, is Brighton's oldest pub. It dates from 1547, and is a very lively boozer. Its position in the centre of the old town means that it is always very busy and noisy. A lovely old pub, but not my cup of tea these days. I want somewhere quieter, Billy would hate it.

Adjacent to The Cricketers is The Black Lion. A 500 year old boozer that looks like an old Sail Loft. Again a lovely pub, but far too busy for me and Billy to enjoy a quiet evening pint together. It is part built of flint, with the upper part tile-hung. The road in which it sits is called Black Lion Street; I'm not surprised.

I frequent the Caxton, the other two I pass-by and admire. I may write about the other 897 pubs at a later date!

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Those Shortages.


On my recent weekly shopping trip to the nearby Sainsbury's Superstore, I noticed that the Eggs section was empty; apart from a few broken Eggs in one tray, and a half dozen White Eggs in another. 

I very nearly bought the White eggs until I saw the price of them. They were Organic, Free range, Eton and Oxford educated, and no doubt had come from the gold-plated Chicken run at Buck House. They were about £3.50 for the 6.

I'm not paying that.

So, yesterday morning I popped down to Waitrose (bus pass), which seemed to be very well stocked with everything, and I bought a half dozen Free range White Eggs for £1.25. On returning home I showed them to Lady M, and she made a face similar to mine when anyone mentions Bread and Butter Pudding.

I don't know why people have such an aversion to White Eggs. We all know that they're exactly the same as Brown ones, but as Lady M said "they look less wholesome". 

One day soon, I shall make her an omelette and ask if it tastes 'less wholesome'.

On the question of 'shortages', I was able to buy everything I needed at Waitrose. I saw no empty shelves, and I even managed to find my essential packs of Beetroot Juice. I bought two just in case.

I was very pleased to see that Fruit and vegs were all in abundance, and looking of excellent quality.

Tuesday, 28 February 2023


Jeeeze, I really hate heavy traffic.

Yesterday I went shopping at about 7.30 am. I went early to avoid angry crowds fighting over the unavailability of fruit and vegs, but when I was done, and on my way home, it just happened to be rush-hour on the roads, and they were packed. My supermarket is only a short drive away, but yesterday it took me about 10 mins getting there and about 60 mins getting back.

One of the things I really love about France is doing much the same type of weekly shopping trip, but over the 20-ish kms each way drive I hardly ever encounter another vehicle; one or two at the most.

Of course it's my own fault going out when everyone is office-bound, but as a busy person, if I waited until 10 am to avoid them, it would have eaten too much into my day.

The traffic in GB is dreadful. It's always the first thing we notice when disembarking at Newhaven. Over the channel at Dieppe things are reasonably calm, then on this side it's a bloody nightmare.

I'm a kindly driver. I always let people into the flow of traffic from side roads, and I'm never in a rush. But others behave like Pigs, and are always wanting to shave a few seconds off their daily trips. In fact those attempts to save a few seconds often cause accidents, and definitely cause blood pressures to rise. Most 'road rage' is caused by bad behaviour from a small number of impatient drivers; and I expect they come as a result of our over-crowded roads.

p.s. Whilst at Sainsbury's, I did notice a few empty shelves. There were no Eggs, and no Beetroot juice. I shall pop down to Waitrose later this morning to see if it's the same there.

Monday, 27 February 2023

I have a genuine problem.

I was watching the Wales/England match on Saturday, and really didn't know who I should have been  supporting.

Luckily it was a superb game, so it was good to watch whoever won.

I think of myself as English, but having recently learned through (my sister's) DNA that we're 44% Welsh, it rather changes things. I've always felt a bit Welsh, and (if it's at all possible) I think I look a bit Welsh too.

On top of all that I'm only 27% English; the other bits I'd rather not talk about.

To make matters worse, I've spent more than half my life living in France (I don't feel French).

In case you missed the match, England won by 20 points to 10. I was very happy with the outcome, but I would have been just as happy if Wales had won.


Sunday, 26 February 2023

Jamie Oliver In Aquitaine.

Save this for a cold wet afternoon (which might be where you are today!). It's 48 mins long but is very watchable to the end. Put it on full screen too.

Jamie is Chez Moi in France, and is either cooking or showing many of my favourite things that have kept me living there for the past 50 years.

He starts his trip at Cahors market, and as far as I can see, he stays in the region throughout the show. Why it's called 'In the Pyrenees' I'm not quite sure; it's basically in Aquitaine, and most of the places are known to me personally.

He talks of Confit, Tarte Tatin (Lady M will be having words with him about his version of a Tatin), Truffles, Roquefort, Wild Boar, good country Bread, and several other local delights.

It is here in this very region where I've lived since 1973, and I've loved every minute of it. Everything Jamie says is true, it really is a wonderful area with superb gastronomy based on poverty, home grown produce, and attention to detail.

If you have the time do watch the whole programme, and if the area delights you as much as it does me, you might even find yourself driving down for a quick holiday. It's only 700 Kms due South from Dieppe.

After the Wild Boar hunt, during the gathering, you might notice a man (at 36.09) with a big moustache wearing a beret. He is the man who has given my car its biannual MOT test (controle technique) for the past 40 or so years. A lovely man who oozes Gallic charm.

Saturday, 25 February 2023

Change of Plan.


My quest to shed a stone before Easter has, frankly, not been going too well. I've already given-up fried breakfasts, Pork pies, and most charcuterie, but it doesn't seem to have worked.

So, I'm resorting to Muesli; that sawdust-like food so loved by 1960's hippies.

I don't like nuts in my muesli, so I buy one bag of 'fruity' muesli and another of plain rolled oats which I mix together 50/50. Dr Bircher-Benner may not approve, but it's not him who's eating it.

I must say that I DO like muesli. Not only should it help with my weight loss aim, but oats are one of the more serious 'super-foods'; they promise to give you a good hug in the mornings, and keep you away from the quack.

Amongst their benefits other than helping with weight loss are that they promise to lower blood sugar levels, and reduce the risk of heart attacks, so, I'm relying on them to sort me out. Although I must say that if you look-up the health benefits of almost any natural foods, it always says the same things.

I shall continue to eat muesli until either I reach my weight loss goal, or I can't resist bacon any longer. Somehow I suspect the latter might win.

Friday, 24 February 2023


For me a car is a comfortable chair inside a waterproof box, with wheels and an engine. It's principal activity is to get me from A to B reliably, safely, and as economically as possible. 

But for many people a car is an altogether different beast. It is above all a status symbol.

Living, as I do, in a reasonably wealthy small city, big fat cars are everywhere. Not only of the Range Rover 4 by 4 variety, but also big noisy supercars. If you can't actually see them, you can certainly hear them. Occasionally it's like being outside Harrods in August.

Possibly the most noticeable are the big white Mercedes cars, driven by bottle-blonde women of around 35-40 years old. For me the other most noticeable cars are Teslas; again they seem to be everywhere. I imagine there must be a major dealership in town.

Back in the good-ole Thatcher years when 'Loads of Money' was flashing his dosh, young tradesmen all drove Porsches. These days those same type of people drive big 4 by 4s, etc. Why they need them, I really don't know. I imagine they would be ashamed to be seen in anything that looks like my own 'Compact Royce Mk 2'.

Choosing a car for it's kerb-appeal is totally alien to me. All my cars have been basic workhorses (other than one Triumph sports job), and all have been bought second-hand (probably 6th hand). I have never bought a new car; nor would I.

I'm hoping that the one above will be my last. It has done very few miles, and should have a few more years service under her timing belt. As she's still in good condition, I'm considering having her regularly serviced. Something I've never done before! 


Thursday, 23 February 2023

They've had enough!

I recently read an article in The Guardian about people in Liverpool who were demonstrating against the behaviour of a gang of migrants who were housed in the commandeered Suites Hotel, in Knowsley.

The demonstrators were immediately branded as being 'Far Right' (The Guardian is a little-read Far Left newspaper), and I immediately wondered how they had come to this conclusion.

It's never easy knowing what leads to a mass outpouring of anger, but it certainly had nothing to do with these people being 'migrants', or the demonstrators being xenophobes. Liverpool is filled with migrants; they were the very foundation of the city. 

No, as far as I understand, it had more to do with some of these men's unacceptable behaviour towards young women (not an excuse for rioting), which has nothing to do with being 'Far Right'.

The UK is a very tolerant and welcoming country, and has always proved to be a safe haven for oppressed people coming from war-torn, or religiously intolerant, countries. It is also generous in as much as it makes sure that newcomers have a decent standard of living. What we are not tolerant of is people abusing that generosity; which is what seems to have been the case in Liverpool. People rightly become angry.

Of course after the so-called 'Far Right' demonstration came the opposing 'Woke Liberal Socialist' backlash, where Corbyn spoke of how welcome all these people were; regardless of their crime or crimes. When one hears that Corbyn is supporting some cause, one's suspicion becomes instantly aroused.

I, myself, live in a multicultural city; diversity is a major part of our make-up. We simply don't think of 'foreigners' as any different to natives. But the UK is going through a major crisis with boat loads of illegal immigrants arriving almost daily along the South Coast. Initially these people were held at the Manston compound near Dover, from where they were being processed, but the process was slow and it had become over-crowded.

As a result of opposition parliamentary pressure, the centre was forced to distribute the immigrants en masse without the processing being completed, and hotels were commandeered (just like the Suites Hotel in Knowsley), to house them. One such was here in Brighton where I believe over 200 unaccompanied children have been sent. 

Many of these children have now gone missing (they haven't given details of how many), and it is suspected that they have been abducted and shipped around as slave labour. Many of the older immigrants run drug-dealing, shop-lifting, and people-trafficking gangs. The missing children will probably end-up as domestic servants, organ-harvesting victims, workers in sweat-shops, or of course as sex workers. 

What a disgrace that they weren't all processed correctly, and sent to safe homes. OK, it might have taken slightly longer than hoped, but this knee jerk reaction has proved disastrous. Arriving in the land of milk-n-honey, then having to wait a few days to be processed was no big deal. I hope the 'let them all loose' do-gooders are happy with their bleating. 

These children came to this country for safety, and they have been thoroughly let down. The others who came simply to take advantage of our generosity and our liberal legal system should have been sent home. It is quite possible than most of these children will now never be found.

All this is no excuse for rioting, it should be handled by the proper authorities

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

The Stork has visited!


We have a new baby girl next door.

Our little street was created in the 1960's. There are 17 bijou houses built in a faux Regency/Georgian style, that are probably more suited to middle-aged, or retired, people than younger newly-weds.

From what I have heard, and observed, this is possibly the first baby ever to have been born in the street. I have no way of confirming this, but it does seem likely.

Little 'Rae' was born on Sunday 12th February, and I met her just a couple of days ago when I delivered a 'welcome home' Teddy Bear. She is a real cutie, and, I'm told, behaves herself impeccably.

On the subject of Teddy Bears, I had real difficulty finding one. Many of the shops that sell soft toys sell Japanese 'dolls'. They are really not nice, almost horrific; with crazed eyes and vicious teeth in open mouths. Not at all suitable for a small baby. Eventually I did find one that was almost what I was looking for, but it wasn't perfect. Anyway, I just hope she likes it when she's older. At least it is an actual Bear, it's soft and fluffy, and has a pleasant face.

So, welcome to our street Little Rae. I'm sure Lady M won't be able to resist offering her baby-sitting services, and the ooh-ing and coo-ing, when she begins to go for her 'pram' walks, will be stentorian.

Tuesday, 21 February 2023

Thank goodness.


Yes, she's gone.

Nicola Sturgeon, that scourge of the English, has finally decided to quit. Proof, if anything, that politicians do occasionally 'do the decent thing'.

During her term in office as Scotland's First Minister, she has been totally obsessed by Scottish Independence. She wished to leave the horrid UK and especially those foul English, apply to join the EU, adopt the €uro, and forego all the generous financial assistance that comes from Westminster. 

Whether or not Scotland's financial criteria would have met that required for membership of the EU is still a matter of conjecture. I know the EU are very exacting. Scotland might well have found herself out on a limb if membership had been refused. The England/Scotland border would have been closed, and they would really have been in the poo.

It is little known that her party (the SNP) recently raised £600,000, exclusively to meet the costs of a future second Independence Referendum. It seems that now, just two years later, that only £100,000 remains. Where (asks an enquiry) has the other £500,000 gone? Peter Murrell, the chief executive, and controller, of the SNP's purse strings, will need to provide answers. In case you didn't know, Mr Murrell is married to Ms Sturgeon. How embarrassing; one can but wonder if this had anything to do with her resignation!

Not only was she totally wrong about independence (her 2014 referendum told her as much), but she has also joined with her Woke Liberal chums in wanting men to go to women's prisons if they'd been naughty; especially if they'd committed multiple rapes. Common sense should have told her that this was not a good idea.

People will remember when Adam Graham was found guilty of two rapes, after his sentencing he suddenly became Isla Bryson and (as a full-bodied male) demanded to be sent to a female prison; which Sturgeon supported. He was later returned to an all male prison where he should have been in the first place. It doesn't take much to pull the wool over the blinkered eyes of these woke-folk.

Sturgeon, not unlike Sir Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner, has always found it tricky to describe what is a 'woman'; even though she is one. Come on; it's really not that difficult! Do you want me to draw a picture?

Oh Nicola, you really have been a misguided wee lassie. You have allowed Scotland's hatred of the English to bypass your political wisdom. You will now have time to reflect on your feelings about we English, and your outdated policies, and hopefully allow someone more politically liberal to take your place.

I'm quite pleased to see the back of wee Jimmy Sturgeon. She was a Political Rottweiler, who allowed her misguided ideology to come before the welfare of her fellow Scots. 

Scotland deserves someone more 'people focussed'. 

May I suggest Rory Stewart as the next First Minister. Please, please, not Ian Blackford!!!

Monday, 20 February 2023

A Sunday morning walk by the sea.

I really look forward to a Sunday morning walks by the sea with Billy. What I don't look forward to is seeing all the detritus left by the young party-goers who spill out of the sea-side pubs and clubs the night before.

I always take a bag with me when I go to the beach. I know there will be rubbish to collect.

The young assure us that they are all eco-aware, but in fact they are worst culprits for leaving rubbish. They simply couldn't care less, and leave it people like me to clear-up after them. In fact yesterday the beach area wasn't too bad, just some broken glass to dodge with Billy. It was on returning home through the churchyard where it really started. It was everywhere.

Well, thank you. Yet again I've cleared-up your broken beer bottles, gas canisters, fag packets, and half-eaten burgers. I don't object to doing it, and I ask for no reward. I simply don't like my town to look like an effing emptied litter bin.


Sunday, 19 February 2023

Pig killing in Slovakia.

Just as it used to be in France, in Slovakia the annual Pig Killing and preparation of by-products is a family affair. Everyone mucks-in.

Here is No 1 son, Kimbo, preparing meat for sausages, pâté, etc, at the family home of his wife Suzie.

I haven't studied the photo too closely, but I'm impressed with his chef's whites, and his delicate touch with the 'poking knife'.

I remember well doing much the same in France when our neighbours killed their Pig. It was a day of 'celebration' (not for the Pig), and by the end of the day everything would have been either bottled, salted, frozen, made into sausages, and/or eaten at the big evening banquet. There would have been enough preserved meat for the whole year.

These days (in France) farmers no longer have a domestic Pig, and I have a feeling that Pig Killing on the farm is no longer allowed either. I also suspect that housewives have mostly forgotten the art of home charcuterie. However, I'm pleased to see that the tradition continues in Slovakia.

I wonder if he'll bring back some home-made Pâté?


Saturday, 18 February 2023

Killing each other.


I have just read that worldwide we spend an annual $1,960 Billion on killing, preparing to kill, trying not to be killed, and all that that involves. Humans killing each other is a very expensive business.

A Russian T-14 tank, such as the one above, costs about $4 Million; with added extras up, to $7 Million. These can easily be destroyed by a small drone-released bomb. I would have thought it was better to keep them at home, rather than waste all that cash so willingly, and in such quantities by attacking Ukraine. So far, about 2,000 of these tanks have been destroyed in Ukraine, along with 270,000 Russian soldiers.

But as a race we blindly continue. Putin seems to want more destruction and more deaths; he sees no limit to his evil. Just imagine what could be done with all those nearly 2,000 Billion military dollars. We might even be able to make our Earth a better place to live. We could certainly house people better than we do presently, and world health programmes could be really well funded. 

Humans are a strange bunch. I myself have been trained to use a variety of military weapons, trained as a soldier, and have always thought of our militia as a normal part of society. 

I wish to establish 'The Magnon Forum' where leaders of all nations would put their hands in the air, and promise not to kill their neighbours, to scrap all their weapons, and to be 'NICE'. Some bloody hope!

Friday, 17 February 2023

A question of Colour.

When I returned to Blighty last September, I realised that I needed to buy myself a new scarf. Travelling between countries in a smallish car with both a passenger and a dog didn't leave much space for my extensive selection of scarves. We 'travel light' so no room for frippery.

It was quite cool pre-Christmas, so I bought this one below. A bog standard black scarf with tassels, which soon began to bore me. I looked around for a red one, but couldn't find one anywhere. 

I went to Amazon.

Amazon was very prompt. I have now furnished myself with the required red one, and I'm very happy with it. I find it surprising the difference it makes to the spring in my step. I feel altogether more sprightly and cheerful.

To acclimatise myself to a future colourful scarf, I recently wore my wife's oversized pink scarf when taking Billy for his early walk. An unknown woman smiled as she saw me walking towards her and said "Oooh, I love your scarf".  I immediately knew it would attract the wrong sort of attention.

I'm hoping the red one doesn't have the same effect.

Maybe they'll just think I'm an antique dealer!!!!

Thursday, 16 February 2023

Billy's universe.

I don't know if you can see, but under our dining table is where Billy lives. You might just see his face.

Lady M does put a 'dog-duvet' on her sofa at nights for him, so that he can feel like a human, and most mornings I do find him there.

Otherwise he lives under the table in his XL Cosy-Canine (professional) Super bed.

If for some reason we need to move his bed, he won't lie in it in any other place. He waits for its return to its proper spot before he'll lie down in it again. I think in many ways I agree with him, if my bed was moved around I wouldn't be very happy about it either.

Our two previous dogs, Monty and Bok, used to squeeze themselves together into a similar size bed, regardless of the discomfort. They loved each other so much.

As you can see, they were also both bigger boys than Billy. I used to love seeing them like this, it was so good to know that they were really happy together.

I would hate to be without a dog. I was speaking with a woman yesterday who'd been living in Brighton for four years. She said it was only after recently getting her rescue dog that she started meeting people; it got her out of the house, and other dog owners were always chatty. There's no escaping the fact; dog owners are friendly folk, and her life changed completely.

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