Sunday 31 December 2023

A load of nonsense.

I never fail to be amazed by how much time, effort, and money, is spent on trying to convince people that things we all know don't actually exist; do!

From gods and devils to yetis, ghosts, mermaids, angels, pixies, goblins, and even the Loch Ness non-existent monster, people are desperate to believe in what doesn't exist. They visit fortune-tellers, read their daily horoscopes, and attend spiritualist meetings; all whilst pretending to believe in what they know in their hearts is a load of hooey.

The greatest deception of all must be 'religion'. Since the birth of science we all know that there is no such places as heaven or hell, no such thing as a god, and as for virgin birth we all know that this is not only physically impossible, but it's also an insult to women everywhere. Yet a small percentage of the population continue to cling to the myths.

Speaking of the Loch Ness non-existent monster, my youngest received unwanted attention from the national press when he bought The Coach House at Boleskine (that had once belonged to Aleistair Crowley) overlooking Loch Ness. The 'monster' this time really did raise its ugly head; and he quickly sold up, fearing being eaten alive.

I keep seeing trailers for TV ghost-hunting programmes. They always seem to be filmed in the dark, always accompanied by 'spooky music', and always based on total nonsense. Does anyone watch these shows? I suppose they must.

We claim to have guardian angels, we speak to the dead, and we see ghosts. Some even claim that crop circles are the work of aliens, others to have been whisked away into space by them; there is no end to people's imaginations.

I suppose it all keeps people amused, and in employment; but please don't pretend it's real. It's NOT.

Saturday 30 December 2023

Covid then and now.

This photo of me was taken when we all feared for our lives during the initial Covid scare. We hardly dared breathe near another human, we washed our hands relentlessly, and masks were de rigueur. 

I was snapped whilst queueing for my first UK booster jab on the outskirts of town, where we just turned-up without prior bookings. It was all very efficient, and the process took just a few minutes.

With Covid now spreading again, no-one really seems to bother. The symptoms seem to be quite mild, and in my own family we've had cases where the illness lasted for no more than a few days. We all take it in our stride. No-one self isolates any more.

Lady M has been unwell recently with a bad cough; luckily not Covid related. Now I think I may be coming down with the same thing. I dread getting Flu more than Covid, but I've had my jab.

I'm feeling OK this morning. Thank goodness.

Friday 29 December 2023

The Proclaimers - Beautiful Truth

The Proclaimers were, and still are, an enigma of the British music scene.

Two geeky brothers from North of the Border, with weird accents, very clear diction, and tidy haircuts, took the charts by storm when they wrote the 1988 song '500 miles'.

This song is less well known, but is worth listening-to. It does remind me of a song by John Lennon, but I'm sure he wouldn't have minded.

Today is Lady M's birthday, so this is for her!

Thursday 28 December 2023

Neighbours' work

If you live in the countryside, or in a small village, you probably know what all your neighbours do to earn their paltry crusts.

However, in towns this is probably not the case. Jim down the road might have a white van in his drive which says 'Jim the Plumber', and Barry on the other side of the road might run the corner shop, but otherwise folk are quite guarded about their trades or professions. I don't suppose many in my street here in Brighton know what I did for a living; but in France they all do.

For all I know I might have a neighbour who's a burglar, another who's a brain surgeon, and another who's a drag queen; we simply don't know.

I speak with neighbours almost every day but I have no idea what they do. I would never ask them as I was always taught that such a question was 'simply not on'.

So, do I wish to know what they all get up to during the daytime? No, I don't. In fact I couldn't care less. As long as they are upright citizens, who don't drop litter or listen to loud rap 'music' all night long, then I'm happy not knowing any more about them. Just passing the time of day, or discussing the weather is fine. In fact just a cheerful "good morning" as we wave at each other is all we need to stay good friends.

However (and here is the reason for writing this) I have just learned that my next door neighbour is a 'Historical and Cultural Geographer with expertise in 19th and 20th Century Travel and Exploration'.

Well, who could have guessed that!!!


Wednesday 27 December 2023


I'm not a fan of graffiti, especially of the 'squiggle' type. In fact I'm not a fan at all unless it is well crafted, and done where it has been either allowed or commissioned.

I am certainly not a fan of squiggles on ancient buildings or walls, and I detest them in, or around, the nearby churchyard.

Yesterday I was walking up this lovely old brick path on the West side of the church when I spotted something unusual on the huge stone gravestone which has been set into the path.

When I got closer I saw that some idiot had written ' Here lies Olli. RIP. He bombed the hill skateboarding'.

I suppose the idiot who wrote it thought he was being funny, or maybe he thought it looked better like that. Unfortunately he's written it in indelible ink, and it will now need to be properly cleaned.

I really don't understand the mentality of these people who go around defacing anything that takes their fancy. I really do think that, when caught, they should be made to clean away their scribbles, and then apologise to whoever was involved; in this case to Father Dominic, and the whole church congregation as well; and to me!

Is there any excuse for such behaviour? No, I don't think there is!


Tuesday 26 December 2023

Happy Boxing Day

Today's the day to take back that awful orange and brown Xmas jumper given to you by Aunty Doris, the Santa socks from Cousin Tarquin, and those silly Unicorn pyjamas from your Mother. M & S are expecting you, and will make as much fuss as possible about giving you a refund.

Christmas is over. It's cold Turkey sandwiches for the next week, and a vow that you will never drink any red wine ever again.

The presents are all put away at the back of cupboards, the best plates, glasses, and cutlery, are all washed and stored until next year. And that wretched tree that dropped most of its needles a week ago, is now put outside the back door.

That's it for another year. It'll soon be time for new year resolutions, Easter, and Summer holidays. Then before you know it, it'll be time to do it all over again next year. 


Monday 25 December 2023

Happy Christmas 2023.

I don't know in what year this photo of a snowy Brighton was taken. We may not have snow this year, but we'll have plenty of carols, feasting, and gifts.

So, may I wish you all a very happy Christmas from England's balmy south coast. May your cup be filled, and your celebrations merry. Cro xx

Sunday 24 December 2023

Chris Rea - Driving home for christmas

We all enjoy a bit of nostalgia at this time of year, so here is Chris Rea again supplying it by the bucket-load.

This always reminds me of my own family's annual trek from Sussex up to the Shropshire/Wales border, and to the hilltop cottage where we used to spend a week or so each Christmas. The cottage looked out over the rolling Welsh hills, and when covered in snow it was magical. 

It was usually chaotic. Having been left empty since the previous Christmas, often bits of the cottage would be missing (it was very windy up there), or the heating wouldn't work, or the taps would be frozen. There was always something, but we coped and loved every hectic minute. There was no proper road to the cottage, and we would often have to trudge through very deep snow.

The cottage was on the route of Offa's Dyke, and our walks through the woods (often with a local farm's Border Collie in tow) were just wonderful.

I have such fabulous memories of Christmases with my parents, as well as with a few uncles and aunts, none of whom are sadly now with us. I would like to say a huge 'thank you' to all of them (in absentia) for making those Christmases so wonderful. They were what true memories are made of, and this song brings it all back.

Saturday 23 December 2023

Dear Santa.

Dear Santa,

I can't claim to have been a good boy this year. I've said nasty things, had lots of evil thoughts, and I've cast spells on certain of my French neighbours.

I really don't know why I bother writing to you each year. As usual, you totally ignored my wishes last year, and I presume you will do so again this year.

Anyway, if you change your ways and are prepared to give me what I ask for, I had thought of asking you for a Thistle Shaped Whiskey glass, but I've just found one. Instead I would really like two new legs, two new hips, a new right knee, and a decent painless lower back. I'm sure I asked for the same things last year but because you chose to ignore me they've all got worse.

Please send tummy-tickles and a few carrots to the Reindeer, and if my wishes are granted I shall leave a glass of single malt whisky (in an ordinary tumbler), and a mince pie by the fireside on Boxing Day night (not before!).

Many thanks. Cro xx

Friday 22 December 2023

Today I have a big smile on my face!


I'm so happy.

There's something I've been looking for for ages, and yesterday I found it.

Every Winter I buy myself just one bottle of really good and expensive Single Malt Whisky. This year's bottle comes from the small distillery of Aerstone, and as I have yet to broach it, I have great hopes.

The best Whiskies require a really good glass, something that compliments it perfectly. Whisky glasses come in all shapes and sizes, but the very best must be the heavy antique Scottish crystal glasses in the form of a Thistle. They simply feel 'correct'.

I'd looked on various web sites, but nothing quite came up to scratch, or they were sold in sets. Some were wildly expensive antiques, and beyond my set limit. 

Brighton's 'Snoopers Paradise' antique market in Kensington Gardens, is awash with interesting things, as are all such shops the world over. You can imagine my delight when I spotted exactly what I'd been looking for, and at the right price; which so rarely happens.

Anyway, here it is, and on account of a very small chip, it cost me just £6. I shall treasure it, and use it, every Winter from henceforth.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Boo Boo and The Cherub.

Absent friends (grandchildren). All the family are with us this year, except for these two and their parents. 

I wonder if we'll ever manage to get everyone together again?

Here they are from a few years ago, enjoying Christmas somewhere in the Caribbean (probably Cayman). I wonder what Christmas will be like at their current location, in Thailand.

So, Hello boys... it's Grumpy here. I hope you'll have a lovely day. We will be thinking of you! xxx

And as an after-thought, just to make you gasp, here is a picture of the daffs in the churchyard yesterday morning. I had to add the photo. Very Spring-like.


Wednesday 20 December 2023

We're getting there!

Why is it that when you're just trying to work in peace, there's always someone around who wants to surreptitiously take your photo?

Well, here I was in my temporary residence chez Kimbo, with his large Cricketing portrait in the background, supposedly minding my own business.

With my daughter, Tenpin, still in residence at our bijou home a few hundred yards away, we shall remain here until about the 27th. 

Plans are now being made for the big day. Who will peel the spuds, who will bring the extra chairs required, who will prepare the canapés, who will create this year's spectacular Turkey stuffing? How, indeed, will that perfectly cooked Turkey get from one house to the other? More decisions are needed.

Battle plans are being drawn-up, time-tables written, and menus meticulously planned. Wines need to be chosen wisely, and the very finest glasses buffed to perfection. Will any guests suddenly claim to be veggie, or will some simply claim not to be hungry? Who knows!

Why on earth do we make such a fuss about Christmas lunch? It's always chaotic, but we love it that way. My son, Kimbo, is taking charge this year. As a high-flying senior executive he's used to being super efficient and authoritative. We'll all do as we're told; especially me!

I can't wait.


Tuesday 19 December 2023


Desert Island Discs must be one of my favourite radio programmes. It fulfills most of my listening criteria; it entertains, informs, and it allows me to be critical.

The BBC's Radio 4 Extra channel has recently been airing old editions under the title of 'revisited', and they have been fascinating.

If given the opportunity to go on the show myself, I have always thought that I would be honest about my choice of music, and not try to impress. Others do the opposite; and it really shows.

So, there you are, stuck on this desert island with a wind-up gramophone and just eight records; you could be there for years. Would you really want to listen to The Laughing Policeman or Wagner's Symphony in C Major?

I recently listened to Glenda Jackson's (actress and MP) choice and thought what a very strange woman she must have been. I also recently listened to Len Goodman (dancer and dance teacher) and ended-up really liking him; and his choice of music. Given a choice of Desert Island Mates, I would certainly put Mr Goodman near the top of my list, and probably Ms Jackson near the bottom.

Maya Angelou was also on recently, and what a lovely person she seemed. Her selection of music was also very interesting.

Monday 18 December 2023


When I learned that Tenpin (my daughter) would be staying in Tokyo for a week or so, my first thought was 'Umeboshi'. "Bring some".

I had only eaten them once before, when they were given as a gift by a Japanese girl. However, their flavour has haunted me, and this was the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself.

If you have never tasted Umeboshi, or even heard of them, I shall try to give some idea of what they are.

They are small Ume Japanese plums that have been salted and flavoured with red shisho leaves, then left to dry in the sun for a few days. I believe the Ume plums are more like apricots than actual plums.

They taste salty and vinegary. Not, maybe, to everyone's taste, but they are to mine.

Umeboshi are quite expensive to buy in the UK, so next year I intend to make some myself. I won't be able to buy Ume plums, but I shall try with either Mirabelles or the semi wild small plums that we grow in France, that we call Bird plums. Maybe I'll try both. I'm not certain of success, but I shall report back on my efforts next summer.

In Japan they claim that if you eat one Umeboshi per day, you will never need to see a doctor. What better recommendation could there be! 


Sunday 17 December 2023



I am looking for eleven men, who demonstrate a good standard of Footballing skills, who would be prepared to dress as, and look like, women in order to compete in the UK's Women's Football League, and eventually (hopefully) win their league cup.

You would need to look reasonably feminine, but this isn't essential. A team of make-up artists, dressers,  and gender coaches would soon help with your 'look'. The most important quality is to be able to run rings around a 'ladies' team, and win every match (think Lia Thomas in swimming).

The rewards should be substantial. Fame, wealth, and kudos, will all come your way. You would all be able to buy large modern show-homes in Essex, own very fast cars, and have a gorgeous wife husband on your arm.

Of course there would always be a few fuddy-duddy spoil-sports who claim that trans-women shouldn't compete against 'genuine' women, but that type of transphobia will always raise its ugly head. We will simply ignore them. If we say we're a women's team, then that's what we are; end of story.

Contact Cro with your full details; preferably with a photo of yourself in drag. There are only eleven places to fill, so please be prompt.

Saturday 16 December 2023

Very Annoying.

One of the advantages of living in the street where we do, and for which we pay a premium, is the fact that there is no parking for non-residents in the street; there are double yellow lines throughout. We all have our own parking facilities, and are untroubled by the coming and going of strange vehicles.

However, some bright-spark at the Town Hall has now proposed parking bays along one side of our street. 

We are just 17 households in the street and not one has been consulted, asked for, or approved, this disastrous scheme. The peace and quiet for which the street is known will soon be gone for ever (if they get their way), and they will raise even more money from motorists to spend on all their lefty woke policies. 

I cannot tell you how annoyed I am about this. I have of course written to them declaring my objection, but I doubt if they'll listen. 

This may seem petty to some, but we all see it as another nail in our collective coffin.


Friday 15 December 2023

Wilders v Amin

I have no idea how far Wilders will be able to go with his extreme policies in Holland. I have only known of one other politician who held such radical views; and that was Uganda's Idi Amin.

In 1972 Amin expropriated property and businesses from all British passport holding Asians living in Uganda, then expelled them. My Aunt Nina was working as a missionary there at the time, and ran an ex-pat health centre; she was also kicked out. As a result the UK received about 60,000 Asians, most of whom probably went on to establish very successful businesses and professions, whereas the expropriated businesses, farms, etc, which were given to Amin's supporters, mostly failed very quickly.

If Wilders does achieve his aim to expel all Muslims from Holland, where will he expect them to go?  Presumably he'll try to send them back to the Muslim countries of their origin, or maybe he'll send them to Rwanda. Who knows!

I can't see it happening. He may expel a few fanatics and criminals; but the whole population? No, it won't happen. He might be extreme, but he's nowhere as crazy as Amin. Thank goodness!!! 

Thursday 14 December 2023

Fame or anonymity?

Whenever was there a worse time than now to be well known, upper class, or rich?

If you're a member of a royal family, a politician, an actor, a singer, a celeb, or just plain old rich, your life will be made unbearable at certain times by people who supposedly 'hate' you, and might even kill you (Jill Dando). Of course they are really simply envious of what they probably see as 'advantage', but that doesn't bother them.

The 'hatred' is usually based on jealousy, envy, political difference, etc. It is illogical and destructive, and people can become totally obsessed, and it can dominate their lives.

Online trolls are everywhere, disgruntled ex-royals can't wait to dig their own graves, and every female news-reader will at some time be severely criticised for her dress-sense or hair-style. It doesn't stop.

I suppose one of the most bizarre of all current obsessions must be the Harry/Meghan skin-tone debate. I would think that almost every household on earth had wondered if the first escapee royal child would be dark skinned; that is perfectly normal, and nothing wrong with that. I'm told that black families were the most curious. But to attack senior members of the Royal family specifically seems very nasty and destructive. Why not simply attack everyone?

Some time back I spent a few months in Grand Cayman where families tend to be of all colours from the darkest brown to very light, and many families have ancient Scottish names; meaning that there had, at one time, been some white blood in the family. It was simply a fact of life, and no-one thought anything about it!

Blog-land is full of people who love to be contrary. Often, one imagines, this is fueled by alcohol and a general dissatisfaction with life and society. Political leanings can often be a major factor, with certain factions feeling downtrodden and left behind.

Personally I think there is a place for everyone in society. The rich, the poor, the famous and the anonymous. No-one should need to feel inferior, or see others as superior. Why can't we all just be nice to each other!

What chance of that?..... None!

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Another week. Good morning!

Gosh, time is flying by; in 3 weeks we'll be in 2024. 

With grandsons everywhere, and people on the move from country to country, I hardly have time to sit and ponder. They are all so energetic, yet unhurried. They eat in restaurants, go to the gym, boogie all night, and take everything in their stride. It makes me dizzy even thinking about it.

Anyway, after a family emergency yesterday, it's great to wake-up every morning, and what better way to do so than with this song.

Tuesday 12 December 2023

To your door

Here in the UK we've all heard of Uber Eats, Deliveroo, Just Eat, etc, etc. Young people, with big square boxes on the backs of their electric bikes, whizz around town at all hours delivering take-away meals for those who either can't be bothered to cook at home, or haven't the time. 

However, this (above) is new to me. You can now just click on a QR code and your dope of preference will be delivered to your door in no time.

Deliver-dope, Uber Smoke, or Just fix, will send a delivery person to wherever you are, and no doubt you can pay through Pay Pal too. No different from ordering a Chicken Korma, Sweet-n-Sour Pork, or a McD's triple cheese burger.

Ain't life wonderful, and all so convenient. 

I shall NOT be using their services.


Monday 11 December 2023

Me and Po.

Coincidence really does exist. I came across this photo yesterday morning, and in the afternoon Rachel told me about a Netflix programme that involved the chap on the left. The other one is me.

Po and I were 'best mates' at school. When we left we both went on to work in The City (Stock Exchange), then Po went on to study 'Film Technique' (I think), whereas I went on to study Fine Art.

Po designed record covers for most of his career some of which have become icons of the métier. Most people will know this one (below) from Pink Floyd's 'Atom Heart Mother' album. Others of his are equally famous.

Whilst on the subject of coincidence, I learned a few years back that Po and I have a great love for the same small island; Formentera. He has a home there, whereas I always used to stay in a lovely small hostel on a private beach. If I'd known he had a house there I would have sponged a room.  

Po is Aubrey Powell. Me, I'm still just Cro.

Sunday 10 December 2023

Salvare copil din fantana - Segarcea - 13.04.2013

I'm sure you all know about this heroic young Romanian boy, but I think it's worth reminding ourselves of his bravery. 

The 13 year old (or 15 year old, depending on source) Christian Becheanu offered to go down a narrow pipe to save the small child who had fallen into it. What a wonderful act of selfless bravery by one so young and seemingly fearless. He is awarded 'The Cro Medal for Gallantry'.

This was in 2013; he must be about 24 by now.

Saturday 9 December 2023


I noticed this morning on my facebook page that on this day last year I had posted a photo of emerging daffs in the churchyard.

So, when passing by I had a look to see if anything similar was there this year, and there they were; just popping their heads above ground level.

It doesn't feel very spring-like, but the daffs obviously have other ideas.


Boris Johnson struggles with umbrella.

At least when Boris was around we all had a good laugh. He's been in the news again recently as a witness for The Covid Enquiry; causing trouble of course. 

Here he is having been given the joke umbrella and the seat with the whoopie cushion. Charles eventually sees the joke, which I suspect was engineered by the fragrant Priti Patel (in black hat). The Minx!

Friday 8 December 2023

Double take!


When I saw the above, I immediately thought how strange it was for all those leaves to fall as they had; covering each step perfectly.

When I looked more closely I could see that it wasn't leaves at all, but wood chips.

So, here is the question. Why would anyone cover all those steps with wood chips?

Is it insulation against frost?

Is it a cheap form of cushioning?

Is it an art installation by some wag at the Art College?

Or maybe it's a new Wokey-Jokey protest against tree felling.

Whatever it is, it looks very strange.

All sensible (or not so sensible) suggestions would be welcome.

Thursday 7 December 2023

New Fireplace.

I've owned a home in Brighton since about 1985, but this was the first time I'd ever lit a fire here.

When we were living in this house I often spoke about opening-up the old bricked-up basement fireplace. 

Being lower than the outside pavement, the room does tend to be a tad cooler than the rest of the house; regardless of the huge radiators. The basement was originally servant's quarters, and I'm sure the two fireplaces were originally filled with old cast-iron cooking and water-heating ranges.

Kimbo recently took the plunge and there is now a very pleasant wood-burning stove in the newly reinstated fireplace.

Yesterday evening I was there alone, so I lit it. The stove is very similar to a small one we had at our barn in France. It lights easily, and gives out very good heat in little time. The perfect urban stove.

I turned on the TV (The Repair Shop) and spent a very pleasant couple of hours prodding and feeding the stove. It was almost like being back in France.

I just wondered why I hadn't installed something similar myself all those years ago. But at least I did install this one (below) which was in my studio directly above the new one; but I never lit it.

The surround was allegedly made from reclaimed timber, and the cast-iron insert a copy of a Victorian one.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Covid again.


We had really been looking forward to having our daughter and the boys with us, and in fact we've already had a lot of fun.

Like after any long distance flight, passengers usually feel a bit off-colour for a few days, and we thought that they were no different.

But (just to be safe) my daughter, Tenpin, did a Covid test and they all tested POSITIVE; although they don't seem to be suffering too much.

So, seeing as I've been in close proximity to them over the past couple of days, I would not be surprised to learn that I too have picked-up the infection. We'll see.

For the moment I feel fine, but if you don't hear from me you'll know what's what. Watch this space!

N.B. Lady M is currently doing Jury Service, and very annoyingly refuses to tell me anything about it. I'm knitting a black square cap for her head; just in case she needs it.

Tuesday 5 December 2023

The Wireless

My people were quite late to adopt Television; not that they couldn't afford one, they simply didn't see the need.

Instead we had a large wooden boxed wireless that sat in a corner of the dining room by the side of the fire.

It might have been made by Ferguson, or even Echo, and was quite a classy machine. I remember two particular qualities that it contained. Firstly the 'Magic Eye', a fine tuning light in the middle at the bottom of where the channels were displayed. Secondly was 'Hilversum', a name that seemed to appear on all radios that claimed they could reach far and wide. I never knew what Hilversum was or even where it was; it simply sounded so exotic.

My mother (of course) listened to The Archers and Mrs Dale's Diary, and on Sundays we would all listen to Archie Andrews, Two way family favourites, and Wilfred and Mabel Pickles handing out money on a quiz show. We also listened to radio plays; often creepy stories or mysteries for which the lights would be dimmed. I loved it.

I listen to the radio at nights through an earpiece wedged into my left ear, but we never listen during daytime. I think a radio in the sitting room would be a good idea, we're missing out on so much. I haven't listened to The Archers since the days of Walter Gabriel.

Maybe I could even tune in to Hilversum to see what they're up to.


Monday 4 December 2023


Well, someone had to explain it to them.

Will they listen? Of course not; truth hurts, especially to the woke-brigade!

Sunday 3 December 2023

The Last Supper.


These days you have to book well in advance to see Leonardo da Vinci's 'Last Supper' which is situated in the refectory at the convent of St Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Maybe this was always the case, but as I've not been there myself, I wasn't aware.

Here is Kimbo admiring the painting yesterday. He took his younger son, Ollie, to see it as a birthday present.

My daughter and two grandsons are now with us, and we've moved over to Kimbo's house. He'll soon return to a house full of old-fogies who will no doubt disrupt his life. My daughter & Co go to Paris for a while before Christmas, the boys want to see the sights. We might even move back home for a few days; we'll see.

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Stay warm; it's freezing here, and we're expecting a week of rain!

Saturday 2 December 2023


Continuing the theme of pedagogy from yesterday, rather than teaching children how to go about changing their gender, maybe our schools should take some time to mention (in passing) that one should NOT DROP LITTER.

Litter is a blight on society, along with most graffiti. Neither would have been tolerated a couple of generations ago. When I was young (and still today) the idea of dropping a sweet wrapper, or an empty pop-bottle, on the ground was simply unheard of. We were taught that it was unacceptable behaviour. 

I hate seeing other people's litter everywhere; especially in our nearby churchyard. There used to be litter bins there, but some bright spark decided to remove them, so I suppose the blame can partly be placed on whoever made that decision.

These days I keep a large bag in my pocket and dispose of the detritus myself. I don't enjoy doing it, but find it almost impossible not to.

I just wish I didn't have to, but the litter-bugs leave me no alternative.


Friday 1 December 2023

Learning to cook.

Most Cardiologists would deny that 'the way to a man's heart is though his stomach'.

However (disregarding know-all surgeons), when I first met the future Lady Magnon she invited me for supper, and produced a staggeringly delicious Estofat de Boeuf (Catalan beef stew) served with ribbon noodles, and a Tarte Tatin for dessert. I was putty in her hands.

With two of my grandsons recently taking cooking lessons in Tokyo (above), I was thinking that the art of cooking is probably fading fast, other than for those who wish to work as chefs; or maybe for those who are serious gourmets.

It always used to be said that if you had one or two really spectacular recipes under your belt that it would serve you very well, and I'm sure that still applies today.

George and Finn are joining us for Christmas, along with their mother, Tenpin (my daughter). I'm hoping that they'll wish to impress their Grumpy with some stunning recently-learned Japanese dishes.

I like to see young people interested in what they eat and drink; it makes their lives so much more fulfilling. Maybe 'Gastronomy' should be added to schools curriculums; and replace 'Domestic Science'; which made it all sound so horribly clinical.

Thursday 30 November 2023

The Winter Ice Rink.

We seem to be in Winter already. Every Winter (in recent times) Brighton opens an Ice Rink at The Royal Pavilion. 

This year The Pavilion seems to be lit-up in pink. Those 'glass houses' surrounding the rink are home to bars, cafés, and bistros. A great place to enjoy an evening out whilst watching the skaters.

I have only attempted skating once in my life, and it didn't end well. I would certainly be in a café rather than on the ice.

I don't know who took this photo, but it's a belter! I believe it was taken from a 'plane as it came in to land at Gatwick. Anyway, here is an aerial photo of 'Brighton by Night'.


Wednesday 29 November 2023

PAVAROTTI Nessun Dorma

I quite often post music videos on this page, but I thought it was about time I posted possibly the greatest combination of singer, orchestra, and composer of all time; that of Pavarotti singing Nessun Dorma from Puccini's Turandot, accompanied by The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Kurt Herbert Adler.

This is possibly the world's favourite operatic aria, and it's certainly worthy of its popularity.

Can anything ever get better than this?

Chalk and Cheese.

After all the relentless publicity given to the violent and nasty anti-Semitic mobs in London and elsewhere, how very refreshing to hear of a rally AGAINST anti-Semitism this last weekend, that passed-off without a nasty word, or a stone thrown. I do believe that Tommy Robinson was taken away by police for precautionary reasons, but that's no bad thing.

When one compares the two factions there is no question who I, and most peace-loving people, would support.


Tuesday 28 November 2023

The Grand Hotel.

    Photo by Luisao Sanchez.

The Grand (above) is one of several large hotels on Brighton's seafront, overlooking The English Channel.

Sadly most people remember it as being the location of the IRA's 1984 attempt to assassinate our then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher. A 'time bomb' was planted under the bath of a room previously rented by the IRA's Patrick Magee, which then exploded the day before The Conservative Party Conference.

He killed five people, and injured a further 34. Mrs Thatcher was unscathed, and her popularity rose even more sharply as a result.

The bomb was planted to the left (in picture) of the middle; where the flagpole is, and destroyed about five floors. Much of the replacement rooftop features are now made of Fiberglass. These days you wouldn't ever have known that anything had happened.

Magee was rightly sentenced to eight life sentences, with a minimum fixed duration of 35 years. He was released after just 14. I think he's still alive and probably enjoying life.


Monday 27 November 2023

What use is an Art Education?


I studied at various Art Colleges for about 5 years; all that ended in my receiving a 1st Class Hons degree in Fine Art (painting).

But what did Art College actually teach me, rather than me teaching myself? I would suggest almost nothing.

I had a few very good tutors in my early days, but on my degree course they were frankly pretty piss-poor. If I hadn't been a determined person I might not have learned anything at all; and there were a few students around who didn't. They were mostly booted out.

There was very little actual teaching. Most lecturers sat in their study chatting to each other; drinking tea. Very few projects were set, very little criticism was offered, and almost no actual hands-on practical teaching was given. In fact I wonder why some of our tutors were there at all.

I have been an Art Teacher myself, but sadly never in an Art College. I sometimes wish that I had been. One of the things I certainly would have taught is 'Professionalism'; how to prepare one's work ready to be shown and hopefully sold. This was never mentioned when I was a student, but really is of major importance. It's all well and good being a talented artist, but if your work isn't presented correctly you stand no chance of making a living.

Of course an Art College education is not all about becoming 'an artist', most chose related occupations, and maybe continue painting on the side. Probably the most successful ex-Art Students have been those who went on to form bands. The Stones, The Beatles, The Who, U2, Pink Floyd, The Cure, Coldplay; the list is endless. Very few become successful painters or sculptors.

So what to do? Well I think they should carry on as they are at present. They do a good job, but not in the way they think. They provide the country with free-thinkers, musicians, a few painters, and plenty of people who make the world a better place. That can't be all bad.


Sunday 26 November 2023

That 90 day rule.


When I recently wrote about the 90 day rule, I forgot to mention that if I was a Frenchman wishing to visit the UK for 6 months, I would need to have a valid passport, an active Email address, and either a debit or credit card to pay a small fee to extend the 90 day rule to 180. One would apply online, the visa would be delivered within 72 hrs, and sent to the applicant's Email address. What could be simpler?

However, if an Englishman wishes to spend a similar 6 months in France, the process is very different.

Firstly it cannot be done online. One needs to make a long trip to the Embassy/Consulate in London, where lengthy forms would need to be filled, 2 ID photos provided, fingerprints taken, and just about every other inconvenience imaginable forced upon us. That's if you find the place open, or the right person just happens to be there. Having lived in France for the past 50 years, I can assure you that if a French bureaucrat can make your life difficult; he/she WILL. And woe betide you if one of the documents isn't exactly what they want; and that's not just for Brits. You go back to stage one, and start all over again.

I mentioned here recently that there is a move afoot in both France and Spain to relax the present rules a bit, but maybe if they don't, the UK should mirror the French rules, and insist on a 90 day rule for all Europeans; with the same sort of complicated rigmarole if they wish to stay any longer. May I suggest a specially installed visa office on the remote Scottish isle of O'Lang-sein; which would HAVE to be attended on two successive Saturdays.

What's good for the European Goose, must surely be good for the British Gander.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Afternoon Tea.

I wonder how many people still have Afternoon Tea, in proper cups with proper cake on proper plates?

We do still have a cup of Lapsang each afternoon, but not in these cups. We should use them more often; I don't know why we don't. Instead we use plain white mugs, and the cake (if Lady M has made any) is served on plain white plates.

How many families, I wonder, have a similar Tea set that is kept for 'special occasions' only. Well over half of us I'm sure. We should use them daily, and if one or two get chipped or broken; then so be it.

The above photo was taken last year when I'd been really looking forward to a slice of Battenburg, after a cake-less three months in France. It looked lovely, but I really didn't enjoy it. It was far too sweet and sickly.

Lady M's Lemon drizzle would have been far better.


Friday 24 November 2023

Sparks will fly.

As I'm sure you already know, this is Geert Wilders, he will become the new Prime Minister of The Netherlands (Holland), as long as he can find some coalition partners.

Not only has he promised to hold a referendum on EU membership, but is also threating to ban the wearing of certain religious head coverings in all government buildings, and probably elsewhere. He has apparently ditched the idea of banning the Koran, but has promised to stop the 'tsunami' of asylum seekers. He's just about as far to the right as is possible.

Back in 2009 Wilders was banned from entering the UK on account of his extreme political views; He was described by the immigration folk as an 'undesirable person'. He defied the ban and flew to Britain with a film crew; he was instantly arrested and sent home. He later called Gordon Brown (then the UK's Socialist Prime Minister) a coward.

The EU bigwigs must be shaking in their boots. Just imagine if Marine Le Pen became the next President of France too!

Wilders is known as 'Captain Peroxide', on account of his penchant for dyed hair.

Holland was always one of our fellow most liberal European countries, along with Sweden etc, but it looks as if their policies have gone too far, and they too have had enough of liberalism (and what it has delivered).

As for Holland's Schengen agreement, it looks like it might soon be Schen-gone!


Thursday 23 November 2023

No Thank You.

Talking recently about Carrot Cake made me think that I like cake, and I like carrots (in certain situations) but the combination seems totally wrong.

Another of my pet gastronomic hates is Bread and Butter Pudding; I like bread, I like butter, I like eggs, and I like currants (I'm not sure what else it in it), but the combination of these things literally makes me want to vomit.

Another strange thing is Porridge. I like Oats, I like milk (to a certain extent) but mixed together and boiled, produces something that would never pass my lips.

I do like Fruit Cake, but PLEASE don't put those green bits of Angelica in it. No, no, no!

I also like Muesli, but not with NUTS. Another no-no.

Lady M lived her early childhood in Washington DC where she learned the appalling habit of mixing Peanut Butter with Jam on her morning toast. I like both Peanut Butter and Jam, but TOGETHER; absolutely not.

Back to the Carrots. I suppose I do like them but only in either a Beef or Lamb stew/hotpot/casserole. Who on earth thought of putting them in Cake???

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Some trees.

Now that the leaves are mostly down, we can once again see the structure of the trees.

I do love trees, I see them as our companions, and have probably drawn more of them than I have humans. These particular ones are home to Squirrels, Pigeons, and a good variety of small birds, and are to be found in my nearby churchyard.

This one below gives shade to the grave of one of Brighton's great characters from the past. Martha Gunn. If you're interested you can read about her here: Martha Gunn - Wikipedia

And lastly a tree that Billy and his chums run around on a daily basis; often four of five of them together. It is the central point of the 'Rest Garden' where he goes four times a day.

Nice aren't they.


Tuesday 21 November 2023

The C word.


We shall be NINE for Christmas this year. My oldest and his wife with the two boys, my daughter and her two boys over from Oz, plus Lady M and myself. Sadly Boo Boo and The Cherub will not be joining us; they will spend the holiday at their new home in Thailand. I don't think their Elves suits would fit any more anyway!

Nine may not sound a lot, but in our bijou home, with a bijou table that seats six, we are going to need some jiggling.

On the food-n-drink side there's no problem, but as far as fitting everyone in, it'll be a bit of a squeeze. 

Prezzies are a real problem for me... what on earth does one buy for teenagers these days, when their only real interests are based inside their 'phones. Really, what does one buy for anyone? 

In fact I have actually started buying presents; nothing excessively expensive, but I hope 'thoughtful'.

My aim is always to buy things that will soon disappear; chocks, gourmet treats, theatre tickets; in fact anything that will be eaten or quickly used, leaving no trace. I try not to give people 'things'; they usually either don't want them, they dislike them, or they don't fit. A box of good quality chocks is always welcome, and soon shows no trace of ever having existed.

As for Christmas cheer; my 'champagne' will come from Italy, my reds probably from Argentina, and the port from an English producer in Portugal. I already have a good stock.

My designated Christmas cupboard is already home to Chestnuts, Cranberry sauce, various Pickles, Mincemeat, Crackers, festive Serviettes, and all sorts of other Nonsense. I suppose with my daughter coming from Oz, it's all getting very exciting. I'm really looking forward to Christmas this year. 

I'm now trying to forget about it for a month.

Monday 20 November 2023


Why is it that when Muslims flee their own oppressive countries they always head for Christian countries, and not to fellow Muslim countries? 

Once installed in their newly adopted 'friendly, liberal, generous, and tolerant' Western countries, why do they then try to insist on establishing Sharia law, support all Muslim causes, and demonstrate their habitual antisemitism?

Well, the reason actually is quite simple. Muslims are told what to do, when to do it, and not to ask questions. Muslims cannot 'leave' their religion; 'Apostasy' is still punishable by death; in some cases of their whole families. You don't mess with Islam!

Surely the one rule of immigration must be to assimilate; to grasp the new opportunities offered with open arms.

Sweden must be the saddest example of what we were all warned could go wrong with excessive immigration, but even here in England we have areas, and whole towns, that are more like the Middle East than the West. 

We've recently had massive Muslim-led Nazi-style antisemitic demonstrations on the streets of London, and we have regular gigantic Friday prayers actually on our streets blocking the flow of traffic. And all this in our lovely England that so kindly welcomed them. Do the police move them on? No! You try doing the same!

We Brits have always been proud of our immigration policy (and still are), and have welcomed people from the world over who've made huge contributions to our lives. But this is not what the 'Refugees welcome' folk (above) promised us; the worst and most overt racism is coming from our recent 'refugees'. Something they forgot to mention on their banners.

The UK is probably one of the best countries to live in, in the whole world. We are kind to the oppressed, we are liberal with those who oppose, and we are openly democratic; even to the extent of our own detriment.

After recent events, I hope those two people with the banner are now ashamed of their puerile slogan!


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