Tuesday 31 January 2023

“Walk Between the Raindrops”

This superb Donald Fagan (ex Steely Dan) classic is by a so-called 'Tribute Band'. 

I'm afraid I don't know who the band are, but they do a really great job. The guitarist in the hat (Mark Baldwin) who seems to be permanently searching for something, had lost his music; they apparently added his 'strumming' post-production. 

If you know the song and wish to join in, I've added the lyrics below! If you don't know the song, play it a few times; you'll be hooked.

A shadow crossed the blue Miami skyAs we hit the causeway by the big hotelsWe fought, now I can't remember whyAfter all the words were said and tears were goneWe vowed we'd never say goodbyeWhen we kissed, we could hear the sound of thunderAs we watched the regulars rush the big hotelsWe kissed again as the showers swept the Florida shoreYou opened your umbrellaBut we walked between the raindrops back to your doorWe walked between the raindrops back to your doorOh, Miami
In my dreams, I can hear the sound of thunderI can see the causeway by the big hotelsThat happy day, we'll find each other on that Florida shoreYou'll open your umbrellaAnd we'll walk between the raindrops back to your doorWe'll walk between the raindropsBetween the raindropsWalk between the raindrops back to your door

Monday 30 January 2023


I just came across this photo, and it brought back some very good memories.

I'm not someone who regularly buys bespoke. I have been known to use a tailor, and a shirtmaker, but other than that, hardly anything.

However, shortly into my French adventure I came across the wonderful rustic dark green glazed pottery of Biot, in Provence.

I had begun to collect a few antique (or old) pieces, then had the wonderful idea of ordering some Dinner Plates. I asked for their catalogue, which arrived almost the following day. It was illustrated with drawings rather than photos, and all the prices were hand written in ink. It must have taken hours for a 'work experience' person to prepare.

I found what I wanted, and sent off my order.

It took quite a while for the plates to arrive, and I remember well unpacking them from all the straw-like packing material. I had ordered 10 plates, and they all arrived unbroken or damaged. I really should have ordered 10 small side-plates at the same time; but no.

The above photo was taken just after I'd unpacked them. I was like a kid in a sweet shop; I was so excited.

Here is an antique (old) oval Biot plate in action, with the dinner plates also in use. They really do make food more appetising.

Our potter in Biot is M Augé-Laribé, and the name of the pottery is La Poterie Provençale.

If you're down that way you should pop in; just say Cro sent you!


Sunday 29 January 2023

Blood Test

I don't suppose many people enjoy needles being stuck into them, and I'm no exception. So when I recently received a phone call asking me to go for a Blood Test I almost considered saying that I would be abroad.

Anyway, I did go, and it wasn't too bad. The nurse was pretty (v important), the jab didn't hurt too much, and it was all over within about five minutes or so.

My other objection to having Blood Tests is that they're bound to find something wrong with me, call me in for more tests, then prescribe all sorts of stuff that makes my feet swell or my hair turn green. It's rarely a simple matter.

As promised, my results came back a couple of days later to my phone, and I opened the page very warily.

You can imagine my elation when I found that I was NORMAL; yes NORMAL. I have no idea what all this bilirubin, globulin, or albumin is, but as long as it's as it should be; I'm not complaining. So, no lectures about eating less salt, or fat, or Pork pies. I don't even have to go back to see the quack.

It's official. My liver function is NORMAL. Yipee!

You cannot imagine how happy I am.


Saturday 28 January 2023

Viva Ferdinand VII


This lovely Spanish Majolica jug is a well-loved antique from my small collection. It was made to celebrate the coronation of Ferdinand VII in 1808. And as you can probably see by its condition, it's in a terrible state. I have always imagined that some anti-Royal threw it against a wall in disgust! Luckily someone saved the bits, and glued them together again. I acquired it back in about 1967.

I am not learned enough to know whether he was a good king or not, but all kings have both their supporters and detractors.

I do know that he had four wives, most of whom were immediate family members. Firstly he married his 1st Cousin Maria Antonia, then his Niece Maria Isabel, then he ignored family and married Josepha Amelia, then finally another Niece by whom he had two daughters. It all sounds rather shocking these days but maybe 'keeping it in the family' was more important in those days.

I've found very similar commemorative jugs on Google images, and (in perfect condition) they sell for 4 figure sums. Sadly mine is worthless, other than as what is called 'an example'.

Perhaps I should take a trip to The Repair Shop over the border at Singleton in W Sussex, and have some clever person repair it for me. Although I doubt if they would, as there is no weepy story involved.

Friday 27 January 2023



I want to mention again why I buy ORGANIC Sunflower oil.

Fields of Sunflowers, like Rapeseed, have become a common sight in the countryside in recent years, however I'm not 100% sure if my observations of them growing in France apply everywhere.

Where I live in France, the 'ripened' Sunflower heads are artificially readied for harvest. Rather than let time and sunshine prepare them, they are sprayed with what one farmer friend described as 'a derivative of Agent Orange'. In other words a very nasty chemical. This instantly kills off the plants, which in turn loosens the seeds from the heads, making for a heavier harvest when being 'combined'.

I don't know of any other oil producing seed that is treated similarly.

As soon as I heard about this chemical treatment, I stopped buying ordinary Sunflower oil, and have always bought 'organic' instead. I don't always buy organic products, but in this particular case I shall always do so, and I recommend that you do so too.

Whatever they say, some of this horrible poison must get into the oil. I'm not taking chances. Best to be on the safe side!

Thursday 26 January 2023

Reality v The dream.

This photo was taken a couple of days ago in front of our home in France.

But this (below) is how I like to think of things. I'm fed-up with this cold weather, I want it to be Summer.

Wednesday 25 January 2023

When you are old....

W B Yeats has always been one of my favourite poets (and writers), and this particular poem is amongst my best-loved. I have no idea why, but it has been going around inside in my head recently. The poem was written about his great love, the Irish activist Maud Gonne, to whom he proposed on various occasions; always being rejected. 

When you are old and grey and full of sleep

And nodding by the fire, take down this book

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes once had, and of their shadows deep.

How many loved your moments of glad grace

And loved your beauty with love false or true

But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you

And loved the sorrows of your changing face. 

And bending down beside the glowing bars

Murmur a little sadly how love fled

And paced upon the mountains overhead

And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

Meanwhile in France....

Man the barricades, take to the streets, load your shotguns. Macron has had the temerity to propose that the French retirement age should rise from 62 to 64. In the UK the age is 66, or if you were born after April 1968; 68.

Here (below) is a short video of the French venting their feelings.

The last time I saw protests of this magnitude was when Macron tried to make both youth employment, and dismissal, easier for an employer; which at the moment is a nightmare. The unemployed from the Banlieues didn't like it one bit, and rioted. Macron soon changed his mind, and most of those unemployed remain happily unemployed to this day on their €800 a month.

It was claimed that over a Million marched against the new proposed age of retirement, I suspect the age will stay at 62. 

I don't know if it's still the same but women's age of retirement in France used to be reduced by one year for every child they'd had. I can't see that happening here.

Monday 23 January 2023

Sunday morning.

As usual we go for our walk together in the park. It's nearly 8 am, and I'm a bit later than usual having had more computery things to attend to than I normally do.

It's a cool 1 C, and there is a tiny bit of frost on car roofs and on the ground. I welcome this as it means Billy won't return home with mud up to his elbows. Without a frost the ground is 'muddy', and no grass has grown since our return last September.

I can never understand why other dog owners seem to stay in bed on Sundays. Dogs have their routines, and simply because it's Sunday means nothing to them. They want their morning's walk exactly as on all other days of the week. However, the 'Peace Garden' was pleasantly empty.

Billy would probably have preferred one of his chums to play with, but there was none.

Just after I took the first photo, the sun returned and everything cheered. It was a beautiful chilly morning with crisp lung-cooling air. I wore my gloves, but wished I hadn't. Billy chased Seagulls and Magpies; he really loves to make them fly. Occasionally a Seagull will return to 'buzz' him, but he ignores their protestations.

We returned via the churchyard. The church door was open and people were singing. There's a sign inside the entrance 'porch' that says 'No Dogs Allowed'. Very small minded.

All is well with the world.

Sunday 22 January 2023

Le Mans Classic - Little Big Mans

This looks like fun. Oh how I would have loved to do this at their age! A miniature Bugatti or Morgan would have been just perfect.

Saturday 21 January 2023

What did you do in the war Daddy? (Part 2)

During my very brief period of junior Officer Training at Catterick, killing was never mentioned. Defending the nation maybe, but not killing as such. 

We were taught all sorts of 'Officer-ish' things, such as how to respect your men, how to make your men respect you, and how to 'command'. The course was more about what an Officer should be, rather than how to wage war. The only thing I do remember being taught about 'warfare' was to 'Know your enemy, go in hard, and go in strong'. Wise words that very few follow.

So, it came as a surprise to all of us who'd had any military training (of no matter what level) that an ex-Officer should discuss his number of 'kills'. I had never previously heard any present or past serving Officer talk of such things.

This ex-Officer recently wrote  "While in the heat and fog of combat, I didn't think of those 25 as people. You can't kill people if you think of them as people. You can't really harm people if you think of them as people. They were chess pieces removed from the board, Bad taken away before they could kill the Good".

The young man involved has been rightly reprimanded for his insensitivity, and there have already been international repercussions. He, of course, denies any intent to gloat or provoke; but of course he would say that, he doesn't think! He now needs to mind his back wherever he goes; probably for the rest of his life.

People of influence need to be very cautious of what they say or write in public. Jeremy Clarkson is a good example having fallen foul of his employers concerning his unpleasant words about an American actress. And we all know how poor J K Rowling has been 'cancelled' for telling basic truths about gender. 

I do hope that the young man involved has learned his lesson, and will guard his tongue (pen) in future; especially when it comes to matters about his own family.

Friday 20 January 2023

My Grandfather's Grandfather's Clock

I was made temporary custodian of this Longcase Clock back in about 1984. My Aunt in London bestowed it on me by surprise when I visited with my ailing father; her cousin. Luckily I was able to fit it in my car, and return it to Shropshire without any damage.

I am assured that the clock was made in 1735 for my family, and has been with us ever since. The family lived near Saffron Walden, and the clock was made by Charles Debnam of Newport which is just a few miles away. It has Arabic numerals, as did many early clocks from East Anglia.

The clock has a long pendulum, and a lead-weighted chain which needs to be raised every day in order to keep it wound. I recently shortened the pendulum (there's a little nut) to make the clock keep better time; which it now does.

Just beneath the middle of the clockface, is a semi-circular opening with numbers. I had never really noticed this in all the nearly 40 years I've been looking after it, so recently I looked to see if the little dial would turn easily; it did. I presumed it was to show the date, so I set it correctly and waited 24 hrs to see if it had changed; it had. So, the clock not only now tells the correct time, but the correct date too.

It's a very nice old clock. Very much a cheap country made pine case, but with a decent movement. It has a very relaxing tick, but the annoying hourly chime has been turned off.

I had a man check the workings when I was in Shropshire, and he cleaned and tinkered. It's run perfectly well ever since. It was he who told me of its date.

It will go to my oldest when I'm no longer around, and from him to his oldest; etc. It's not to everyone's taste, but I doubt if there are that many clocks of that age that have stayed in the same family since they were made. They may not be over pleased to become eventual custodians, but it must NEVER be sold; 'doom' would fall upon the family.

Thursday 19 January 2023

Everybody OUT!

As you can see by the newspaper clip, below, things are pretty much as usual in strike-bound Britain. The Union leaders are happy, The Labour party is happy, travel-deprived 'workers' are very happy to stay at home for a few days and watch daytime TV, and our schoolchildren are learning that even their revered teachers will walk out on them at the drop of a hat, leaving a parent to miss work in order to look after them. 

All we need now is for those smirking Union bosses themselves to go on strike, and most importantly for OAP's to go on strike.

As from February 1st, OAP's should no longer shout at long haired youths to "Get yer 'air cut", or "Pull yer trousers up". They should also refuse to use the expression 'It wasn't like that in my day', or 'The Police would have given us a good thrashing if we'd...... etc, etc'.

No, from Feb' 1st, they should drop litter, fart loudly in public, and go shoplifting. In other words have a few days off doing what they always do uncomplainingly, and do what everyone else does. They must make an effort to become a right bloody pain in the neck, just like their other Union comrades!

If a striking train driver can't get-by on £65,000 p.a. how can they expect an OAP to manage on £10,600 p.a.?

Up with us Oldies. Support your local NUOAP's. Demand a 25% pension increase NOW!


Wednesday 18 January 2023

Lost and Found.


Once again I have found a bag that I imagine had been stolen.

Two years ago I found a bag with its contents strewn about, that had been taken from a delivery driver's van as he was delivering pharmaceuticals to Boots. I was able to find the owner quite quickly.

Last year I found a girl's handbag complete with passport, driving licence, mobile phone, and a purse full of money, cards, etc. Again I was able to return her belongings to her within an hour or so.

This lot may not be so easy. There was nothing inside to suggest an owner; or if there was, it's now gone!

The bag contains swimming gear (everything was spread around), neoprene shoes, goggles, cap, and (bizarrely) a set of Hogwarts Playing cards.

I have posted a photo on our street's WhatsApp page, and sent another to Brighton's all-year-sea-swimming club. I imagine the owner must be a sea swimmer.

It remains to be seen if I can find the owner. I'm not over hopeful.

Tuesday 17 January 2023



When we returned to Blighty last September, we were told to expect nightmare conditions.

We were to expect a Winter of empty shelves, of no electricity or gas, and of price rises so horrendous that we would be forced to sell all our possessions.

Personally I assess the state of affairs by how much my weekly shopping bill comes to, if I'm eating and drinking as well as usual, and if my bank balance is looking healthy.

Well, yes, my shopping bill did go up slightly, but that was because I had to totally re-stock my cupboards, fridge, and freezer. We're certainly eating and drinking as well as we are accustomed. And although I needed to buy a new car, my finances are still just about on the right side of 'solvent'.

I really haven't noticed much rise in prices, although I did note that my small weekly bag of liquorice sticks now costs £1.15 rather than £1 a few weeks ago.

My everyday 'throwing wine' has actually come down in price. I buy Sainsbury's own excellent 'House' wine in 3 bottle boxes which have recently fallen from £13 to £8.69. A bargain.

We were also told that several new vicious strains of Covid would be bound to find us, and if it didn't the Flu certainly would. Nothing yet! 

But I suppose the most worrying of all the Armageddon warnings was that of 'Strikes'. There would be no trains, no teachers, no doctors, nurses, or doctors. All hospitals would be closed, and dead bodies would line the streets. OK, some strikers are losing their wages, but it isn't affecting us in the slightest. 

I'm all in favour of folk being able to withhold labour, but they should understand that striking never improves anything; other, maybe, that the profiles of their Union bosses.

All in all the Labour doom-mongers have done their best, but I don't think it's affecting people too much other than the strikers themselves. 

So, the world hasn't come to an end. Gas still comes from the cooker when I turn a knob, and we are still warm. I can't predict our future in relation to Covid or Flu, but my fingers are crossed.

Monday 16 January 2023

Warfare now and then.


These days we are used to wars dragging on for years, which looks likely between Russia and her once friendly neighbours of Ukraine.

Men now fight until they are either killed, their ammo runs out, or they have nothing left to eat or drink.

But it wasn't always thus. In medieval times battles often lasted just a few hours; or less. If you were wearing a full suit of armour, it could last around 10 mins.

Armour could weigh anything up to about 30 kgs (a full bag of cement weight 25 kgs), and was more of a hinderance than benefit. A Knight could hardly see, or move, and was in effect a very clumsy target. A man without armour would have been far more agile and possibly more effective. The encumbered Knight may make a few wild slashes with his sword, then even fall off his 'steed', when he could easily be bludgeoned to death.

Even the question of mounting your 'steed' would have been complicated. At the very least a mounting block would have been required, but more often he would have needed the assistance of a squire. The idea of using a crane to winch them aloft has, I believe, been over exaggerated.

Ahead of him, Archers could launch a whole quiver-full of arrows in a very short time, then would need to run for home when all were gone. This could happen within about 5 mins.

How very different to today's warfare, but maybe the medieval version was preferable. The whole thing could have been over by Tea Time, and the spoils taken back to the winners castle to gloat over.

It's an old idea that it should be the leaders of each country who should square-up to each other. I can picture Putin and Zelensky in the ring together, dancing like Butterflies and stinging like Bees. No armies would have been decimated in the process, no towns and cities levelled, and the loser (Putin) would be shot the following dawn. Sounds good to me!  

Sunday 15 January 2023

Fattened Liver.

Foie gras is a thorny subject. There are those who are avidly against, and there are those (who probably understand more about it) who are pro'.

There are several products that come from the fattening of Ducks. My favourite being Confit de Canard which are Duck legs/thighs very slowly simmered in their own fat then preserved in large earthenware jars; or in my case 'large tins'. There are the Magrets de Canard which are the Duck breasts. The necks are stuffed making the delicious Cous farcis. The fat is often sold at Christmas for the roasting of Potatoes. And finally there are the livers (the actual Foie gras), that are very gently preserved in jars such as the one below with just a pinch of salt and pepper, or made into Paté when mixed with Pork. 

Some countries have banned the sale of Foie gras, but continue to sell all the other products (which makes no sense). Other countries try to inhibit its import, but not 100% successfully.  

Personally I pop a couple of jars in the car when I head North after Summer; one for Christmas, and another for Easter.

Foie gras is a special occasion item; not something one eats too often. The one above was eaten at New Year by four aficionados amongst much ooohing and aaahing. If I describe it as eating delicious Pure Silk crossed with Angel's Breath, you will have some idea of its luxurious nature.

A lot is said about how cruel the process is, but once you've seen the Ducks queuing-up to be fed you soon realise what nonsense this is.

I shall continue to eat foie gras once or twice a year as a treat, and do so without guilt. If you can find any, I recommend you do the same. 

N.B. The very best comes from my area of S W France; Gascony.


Saturday 14 January 2023

Self portraits.

I'm not really sure why I painted this portrait, I imagine it was because I wanted some record of myself not looking too much like a scruff-bag.

It's painted in a rather 'primitive' fashion, showing no emotion. Rousseau, Magritte, or Le Facteur Cheval, might have influenced my approach. 

So, here I am aged about 36, wearing a smart suit, striped shirt, and spotted silk tie; staring directly at the painter. I remember painting it in my bedroom at my people's home in Shropshire. Unlike most of my self portraits it is 'stiff', shows no feeling, and, I must admit, is really not very well painted.

It still hangs at home. It was not easy to photograph, And is in a bad state of repair. I think it may go back in the attic, and be replaced by something else. There's plenty of choice up there!

Friday 13 January 2023

5.00 am to 8.30 am

I can't venture out much before 7.30 am because it's still simply too dark.

I've been up since 5 am and have breakfasted, posted my blog, answered all my Emails, and am starting tomorrow's blog which I'll probably finish some time later. For the moment it's Dog Emptying time.

Outside it was reasonably light, there were a few fellow dog-walkers around, and the man who empties the dog-poo-bag-bins cheerily greets me whilst whistling some non-existent tune.

About half a dozen passers-by wish me a 'Good Morning', as Billy and I follow our regular circuit around the Peace Garden, and then the Churchyard. He plays with whichever of his best pals are around, and I keep Billy off his lead for the short walk home and he behaves himself perfectly. Previously, if I'd had him on his lead and he'd met other dogs he used to growl. Now he is very relaxed.

One 'regular' on my early walks is a woman I refer to as 'The Green Lady'. She is 100% covered in green PVC, walks with a limping stoop, and has one of those 'corporate identity tags' around her neck. She is very well spoken, adores Billy, and we always have a short chat before she shuffles off on her way to goodness knows where! I would love to know more about her, but I respect her privacy. I think she really enjoys our little conversations. Whether or not she has a home, I don't know. I have never seen her face.

Another of my favourite encounters is a canine. His name is Bob, and he has two tennis balls permanently in his mouth. I've not known another like him. I always chat with Mrs Bob.

There are not a lot of people around at this hour, but I recognise most of them. Some are joggers, some rushing off to Town, and others just enjoying the early morning peace and quiet. Mostly, of course, like me they are Dog walkers. 

Once home again I go to where I am now; in front of my laptop. I finish my tomorrow's blog, look-up all those things that needed to be researched, and play one game of online Solitaire.

After all this it's still only about 8.30 am, and the rest of the day's activities are anyone's guess! This morning I'm off shopping; I have guests tomorrow evening and must buy a Leg of Lamb.


Thursday 12 January 2023

That annoying man.

WARNING: If this man annoys you more than he annoys me; I advise that you read no further.

I quite expect that most people, like me, are beginning to change their attitudes towards the person previously known as Prince Harry. 

Most probably thought of him just as a gullible fool; someone who was being badly influenced, and dragged along by a ring through his nose (on his finger). A useful stooge for his social-climbing wife to gain fame and fortune. But with all the pathetic nonsense that he's now spouting, I, for one, am beginning to almost pity him, and fear for his mental health.

He now comes across as a severely psychologically damaged person, whose paranoia is overwhelming. He was the younger of two brothers, an unpopular boy at boarding school (where his older brother shunned him), the son of a philandering mother, a drug taking adolescent and adult, a foolish party-goer, a bragging soldier, and probably most importantly a very unwise judge of women. He cannot blame his family for all that; other than his mother of course.

His most recent and shameful outburst against his stepmother, Camilla, is proof that something has gone seriously wrong. He constantly repeats his own mother's 'conveniently forgetful' mantra from her Bashir interview, that 'There were three of us in this marriage'. We all know that there were A LOT MORE than THREE. His mother had a string of NINE lovers, before tragically dying in the company of No 9; Dodi Fayed. 

This must have been difficult and embarrassing for a 12-year-old son to accept, especially at school where boys can be very cruel, but to insult his new stepmother as a result of his mother's behaviour is neither fair, nor a solution.

Stepmothers often have a hard time, and mothers are not always saints. Harry's father should never have married Ms Spencer, and Harry should never have married Ms Markle. Two very obvious blunders by both a father and his son.

His other favourite gripe is against the media/press. Those very same people upon whom he now relies for his income, and the distribution of all his nonsense. 

He tells us that he is waiting for his family to 'reconcile'. Well, dear boy, you'll be waiting a very long time. Best now for you to go away, and shut up. Become that independent Harry Windsor you were desperate to become.

I quite expect, like me, you are getting thoroughly fed-up with this silly saga, it's about time it ended. But no doubt there will be more newspaper columns, more books, more documentaries, and even more interviews as long as people are stupid enough to pay him money for what he (and she) will spout. 

Could you imagine yourself speaking about your own family like this? And to the world's media too!

Meanwhile, The Royal Family retain their silent composure; as, of course, they always have.

Wednesday 11 January 2023

Graves, Daffs, and a guardian Seagull.

The Daffs in The Churchyard have survived Christmas and the New Year, and I'm pleased to say that none has been picked. They are now poking their heads up everywhere.

Luckily they grow in a part of the graveyard where people tend not to walk, and they are guarded by a very well-fed, plump-n-proud Seagull. Try to pick them and he'd probably have your eye out!

Tuesday 10 January 2023

I think she does it on purpose!

Lady Magnon has replaced the easy-clean-oil-cloth on our dining room table. She has exchanged the previous jungle pattern for a more relaxing pale green with small white spots.

Those 'small spots' just happen to be the same size as my morning pill, and, like before, are very easily camouflaged.

Do YOU think she does it on purpose? She could easily have chosen black spots, or green triangles, or even plain navy, but no, she had to choose small, white, pill-sized, dots just to make my life more adventurous.

I'm thinking of running away to the circus.


Monday 9 January 2023

Aldi Experiment.

I needed to visit an out-of-town shop called 'Halfords'; they sell car and bike related things, and I needed some special cream that hides scratches on cars.

Whilst there I noticed that in the same commercial complex was a large Aldi store. I've always been a tad sceptical about the cheaper end of the supermarket spectrum, but threw caution to the winds, donned my mask, and entered.

My first impression was that the actual layout seemed haphazard, with aisles of rummaged junk in between the actual food aisles. It looked as if people had been fighting over something.

I didn't really need anything, but thought that popping a couple of Cod Fishcakes in the freezer could do no harm. We ate them last Friday, and they were genuinely delicious.

Continuing my journey around the store, I came across the Meat section. I very rarely buy joints of Beef; in fact NEVER on account of its price. But I've been hankering after a nice Sunday Roast Beef joint for some time.

My thought process went as follows. 'If I can leave any food shop having spent less that £20, then I'm behaving myself'.

I noticed this well matured Aberdeen Angus joint, and decided to invest. 

We've now eaten most of the joint. It was really excellent (but maybe not quite as tender as I'd hoped), and there are a few slices left over for sandwiches. The less than £13 was very well spent. 

Will I be returning to Aldi? Well it's not really on my way to anywhere, so probably not. But from that one-off experience I almost wish it was much closer to home. In fact I don't know why they don't open a major store in the town centre.

Aldi Fishcakes: 10/10. Aldi Beef: 8/10.


Sunday 8 January 2023

Gilbert O'Sullivan - Alone Again (Naturally)

He always looked a bit of a plonker in his schoolboy outfit, but he wrote some very good songs. Here's one that most will remember.

I've posted the lyrics below, so you can sing along.

In a little while from nowIf I'm not feeling any less sourI promise myself to treat myselfAnd visit a nearby towerAnd climbing to the topWill throw myself offIn an effort toMake it clear to whoeverWants to know what it's like when you're shattered
Left standing in the lurch at a churchWere people saying, My God, that's toughShe stood him upNo point in us remainingWe may as well go homeAs I did on my ownAlone again, naturally
To think that only yesterdayI was cheerful, bright and gayLooking forward to who wouldn't doThe role I was about to playBut as if to knock me downReality came aroundAnd without so much as a mere touchCut me into little pieces
Leaving me to doubtTalk about, God in His mercyOh, if he really does existWhy did he desert meIn my hour of needI truly am indeedAlone again, naturally
It seems to me thatThere are more hearts broken in the worldThat can't be mendedLeft unattendedWhat do we doWhat do we do
Alone again, naturally
Looking back over the yearsAnd whatever else that appearsI remember I cried when my father diedNever wishing to hide the tearsAnd at sixty-five years oldMy mother, God rest her soulCouldn't understand why the only manShe had ever loved had been takenLeaving her to startWith a heart so badly brokenDespite encouragement from meNo words were ever spokenAnd when she passed awayI cried and cried all dayAlone again, naturallyAlone again, naturally

Saturday 7 January 2023

People and Dogs.

I am more inclined to get-on with people who like animals, than with those who don't.

I've said it before, but I often prefer Dogs to certain humans.

These, below, are my daughter's two Dogs, weekending on Bribie Island, Qld, Oz.

They look like really fun Dogs. I've always liked Dogs that like water and these two obviously do. Billy goes-in up to his knees, any further is a mistake.

They look as if they ought to be siblings, but they're not. They also look like a very determined pair.

I'm very pleased that my daughter has Dogs; my two boys aren't interested at all. Not that I love them any less for it.

As George Elliot so wisely observed, "Dogs are such agreeable friends. They ask no questions, and make no criticisms". Although I must say that Billy often gives me very critical looks.

Friday 6 January 2023

Adonis of the future.

I have only one 'resolution' this year; and that is to lose weight. I wonder how many people are saying exactly the same thing?

I start the year at 6ft 1in and16 Stone, and intend to reach my fighting weight of 15 Stone before Easter, maybe even sooner. I'm hoping my height will remain the same.

It won't be easy giving up my Pork Pies, Scotch eggs, and Haggis, but if it goes towards getting rid of some excess weight, then I'm prepared to pay the price. However; bacon remains sacred.

No doubt my extra weight is causing pressure on my legs, so I may see some improvement in my walking abilities, although I'm not over-hopeful. I don't think I LOOK fat, so I'm not worried about aesthetics; I am not intending some Adonis-like transformation. 

I've always felt 'comfortable' at 15 Stone, so that's where I wish to be. Any lighter will be a bonus.

I'll let you know.

Thursday 5 January 2023

The other Harry.


I've shown Harry's passport previously. Harry is my youngest son's (Wills) bear, and as he travelled extensively with us, he needed his own passport, which Wills made. It's a dead-ringer for a real one.

What I haven't shown before is Harry himself. So here he is (below), looking exactly like his passport photo; unlike most of us.

Harry's getting old these days, so doesn't travel as much. In fact he stays in England when we go to France, and Wills stays in Oz.

Wednesday 4 January 2023

Look what I found.

It's been a very long time since I drank any Retsina. Mostly people turn their noses up at the very mention of the word 'Retsina', but I rather like it; it takes me back to my few wonderful weeks spent on Kos back in the early 80's.

We had guests for New Year's day, so Lady M decided to make a big Moussaka. A classic one pot meal that usually pleases all. I decided that the bottle of Retsina should accompany it, along with other wines for those whose noses had gone skywards.

I love Moussaka. It's something I very rarely make myself because of the time and number of ingredients involved; however, Lady M is more patient and made a beauty.  

The one phrase I learned in Greek was 'A bottle of Retsina please', and I can still remember it. That shows how much I valued it.

The only disappointing part of the meal was the Retsina, it tasted simply like white wine; that distinctive resin flavour was totally missing.

Never mind, I shall have to return to Greece if I want to taste the real thing again.


Tuesday 3 January 2023

Throw Away Society.

I'm not a scavenger in the true sense, but when I spot something discarded, either of beauty or usefulness, I go to the rescue.

Over the years I've found some real treasures. Last year, just around the corner from our house, I found a large brand new traditional wood and metal Wine Rack, complete with TWO bottles of good wine. Why on earth would anyone throw away such things! 

Just yesterday, in the same spot, there was a slightly worn black faux-leather office chair. Nothing wrong with it at all, but not my cup of tea (not that I need one anyway). Someone had a bargain.

At the same time I spotted the above, a perfectly usable, as yet uncleaned, galvanised bucket (with no holes). I was on my way out with Billy, and said to myself that if it was still there on my return, I'd have it. It was!

Again, why would anyone throw away a perfectly good bucket? It makes no sense.

The black lamp in the background was also a 'find'. It has a bulb inside the faux-candle, and works from some type of battery. It needed a slight clean, but was actually working when I found it.

There are parts of the world where people have nothing. They are lucky to own a ragged T Shirt and a broken plastic cup, yet WE treat our possessions with total disrespect. I find this so frustrating. 

I hate waste. Go to any large municipal tip, and see what people are throwing away; you'd be shocked.

Monday 2 January 2023

Happy New Year in Paris, the immigrants are taking down the city

People often have a very particular view of foreign countries. I'm not sure where this person comes from; Japan, China, maybe? He is picking his subjects very selectively, and is careful to illustrate with shocking images, but not all of Europe is like this.

However, he does make some honest points; points that we cannot ignore. Much of Europe (and especially France) is in a right bloody mess, and can no longer mend itself; it's simply impossible. The West has given in to irresponsible Wokey PC demands, and, as predicted, it has all gone, or is going, very wrong. 

The much maligned Enoch Powell once made an apocalyptic reference to what might happen. The words 'Rivers of Blood' didn't actually appear in his famous 'Birmingham speech', but he did make reference to Virgil, when he quoted "as I look ahead I am filled with foreboding, like the Roman I seem to see The River Tiber with much blood". People will remember that Powell was vilified!

Many of the more 'exotic' communities around Paris celebrate the New Year (and any other event) by destroying and burning cars. People await patiently for the tally to see if the number of burnt-out cars exceeds that of the previous year. It is their way of saying "Thank you" for the asylum they were granted.

If they win Football they burn, if they loose Football they burn, if it's a Sunday they burn, if it's their birthday they burn, if Macron says something sensible; of course, they burn again. It has become their raison d'etre. Maybe it reminds them of 'home'.

I haven't yet seen the recent figures for New Year burnings, but with all the anger (and elation) about, I quite expect they will be HIGH. This (below) was their practice run at Christmas.

France was a very very different place when I first moved there in 1973. A few years later other nationalities moved there in their droves to find safety and prosperity, but now they bite the hand that feeds them. It's a funny old world!

Sunday 1 January 2023

RIP's of 2022.

My annual review of the year's losses will be very brief this time, as there were only two deaths that had any serious significance for me.

Firstly, of course, is that of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. A giant amongst us, whose like will never be seen again. 

And secondly is my good friend Sue who died unexpectedly at far too young an age. She was quiet, unassuming, hugely talented, and beautiful. A very rare combination.

May they both now rest in peace in the knowledge that they were greatly loved, and will continue to be greatly missed by all who knew them.

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