Thursday 31 August 2023
Wednesday 30 August 2023
Tuesday 29 August 2023
Monday 28 August 2023
Saturday 26 August 2023
Friday 25 August 2023
We now have just over a week left of our stay in France, and we have so much to do. With daytime temperatures of 40 C, working outdoors after about 9 am, and before 8 pm, is almost impossible.
Our guests leave at the weekend, and we've been obliged to shorten our own stay by one day due to our hotel being fully booked for the day on which we wished to travel. This has also meant that we've had to change our channel crossing time. Things are ganging-up on us.
Preparing the house for over-wintering is always stressful. As we shall be away for the next 9 months, nothing must be overlooked. The pool must be closed down correctly, all the excess garden growth cut back, and all the grass cut. Indoors everything needs to be dust-covered, services closed-off, and everything secured. The whole house will also need to be cleaned. The house is never in a better state than on the day we leave! It doesn't sound like much, but it all takes time.
Thursday 24 August 2023
Wednesday 23 August 2023
Tuesday 22 August 2023
Monday 21 August 2023
Sunday 20 August 2023
Well, I hear that it's not really going too well at the moment. It's the 'Silly Season' and folk are hot under the collar and discontented.
We are constantly hearing that many children are not bothering to go to school any more. Since the Covid lockdown hanging around at home, or on the streets, is preferable to actually learning anything, or looking to any future careers. Many of them even make good money by selling things (ahem!!!) As long as you have a Smart Phone, you can get by quite well. No-one harasses you; not even the police.
Of course many of these absconding, or even expelled, children spend much of their time looking at such online sites as TikTok, where incitement to mass disobedience is common. A recent call to go shoplifting en masse in Oxford Street is a good example (below). Only 9 people were arrested, but the police say they are 'looking for more'; oh yeah! All much more fun, and profitable than going to school; unless you're unfortunate enough to be amongst the arrestees; like the young lad below (wasn't me gov; honest!). I now hear that Oxford Street, which used to be the jewel in the crown of London shopping, has almost become a crime, and rough sleeping no-go area.
And another thing, do make sure you don't get ill in the UK at the moment. You never know if there'll be any working doctors around. They're on strike again adding to the massive build-up of patients waiting for treatment and/or operations; the very thing they're complaining about. The little darlings say their £140,000 pa salary simply isn't enough and they want a further £35,000. Even the student doctors want more than their current pay of £33.000. I'm not sure who else is on strike at the moment, but state school teachers (only in term-time, of course), train drivers, and others are all jumping on the political bandwagon.
PM Rishi Sunak keeps going on about how desperately he wants to stop the boats bringing illegal immigrants from France over to England, but without too much success. The UK has already given France over £200 Million to help stop the crossings, but France (of course) doesn't want them either. If the Border Control folk keep picking them up mid-channel, and bringing them over, there's not much chance of stopping them; is there Rishi!
Of course once in England they need to be housed, fed, given spending money, and offered access to doctors (if they can find any who aren't on strike), and lawyers, etc; exactly as happens in France. Some were to be housed in a huge floating hotel in Portland Dorset; the craft had been specially refurbished for the illegal immigrants (nice comfy carpets, new restaurant, doctor's surgery, citizen's advice centre, etc).
Many of the new arrivals said they really didn't want to stay there; they preferred a 5 star land based hotel. On hearing this one government minister (Lee Anderson) said 'if they don't like it they can f*ck off back to France'. The lovie supporters of the illegals didn't like this one bit; but 99.99% of the population of course agreed with him. We now hear that they've conveniently found 'Legionnaire's Disease' on board, so I imagine the whole project has been put on hold until they've poured a bottle of Dettol down the sink.
With calm Summer water in the channel we can expect many more boats arriving daily on our shores.
Food prices are rising, rents are rising, mortgage rates are rising, blood-pressures are rising, and I quite expect the price of tattoos is also rising. Meanwhile more and more people are desperate to get to the UK, one way or another.
It is reported that the UK has come 3rd in the 'European pothole stakes'. Only Ireland and Italy have worse roads than England. There are simply far too many people using far too many vehicles, and no-one is repairing the damage.
It all sounds a bit chaotic. However, I expect when we return we'll find everything to be 'normal'. People do love to exaggerate. But who knows; we may all soon be eating grass and nettles, and camping outside Waitrose.
Saturday 19 August 2023
Friday 18 August 2023
So, here is the new French 'obligatory' anti-pollution sticker gizmo in situ. It arrived with yesterday's post.
Thursday 17 August 2023
Wednesday 16 August 2023
Tuesday 15 August 2023
I should have known that Kimbo would bring me something special from Blighty; and he did.
I'm a simple lad, with simple tastes. A bag of Maynards Wine Gums, a pot of Colmans Mustard Powder, or a pukka Melton Mowbray Pork Pie (especially a large one), has my eternal gratitude. It's all well and good knowing that Pork Pies will soon be within easy shopping range, but after nearly three months away from England, one's yearnings become almost overpowering.
Monday 14 August 2023
Sunday 13 August 2023
Saturday 12 August 2023
Bramleys are the world's best cooking apple. They have a flavour like no other. Unfortunately they are also huge croppers, and the waste is terrible. There is nothing to compare with a blackberry-n-apple crumble made with Bramleys.
Friday 11 August 2023
Thursday 10 August 2023
Wednesday 9 August 2023
Tuesday 8 August 2023
I'm not obsessed with cars, I just happen to have posted a few car-related topics recently. When I recently mentioned my 'car knife', it made me wonder what else is in there. I went to look.
I knew about most things, but was surprised by others. These are just from my door compartment; I didn't look in the actual 'glove box' itself, although I do know there's a bog-roll in there, a tiny Teddy Bear, a pack of 'wet-wipes', and a first-aid kit.
Monday 7 August 2023
Sunday 6 August 2023
Saturday 5 August 2023
Other than Christmas day, and my own birthday, the day I never forget is that of my father's birthday; August 5th.
Friday 4 August 2023
Thursday 3 August 2023
Wednesday 2 August 2023
I was on my way home from the supermarket the other morning, and thought to myself that driving slowly through the peaceful French countryside, windows down, sunlight breaking through the trees, and with the temperature just beginning to rise above 20 C, was just about the most luxurious thing I could imagine doing. The car was filled with delicious things I'd just bought, the distinctive aroma of the French countryside was wafting through the car, and everything seemed perfect.
Previously at the store, in the queue for the check-out, I'd had a conversation with a woman about pool chemicals, and thought to myself how satisfying it is to be able to speak two very different languages fluently.
Like most men in Summer, I love to cook on the BBQ. I suppose it makes us feel like a cave-man back from the hunt; slapping lumps of Mammoth meat on an open fire, which I did last night (it was actually Lamb). Very satisfying.
Another thing that I find hugely enjoyable out here in France is mushroom hunting. Heading off to the woods early in the morning, with the anticipation of a good haul, is such a pleasure. Finding that haul is even more so. It's one of the things I really look forward to when we return to our little home. It was pouring yesterday morning (below), so another crop of Girolles is almost assured; maybe even a few Cèpes in 10 days time.
But amongst all pleasures there are often disappointments. Eating out in France used to be wonderful. Almost every restaurant one visited was excellent; they dared not offer poor quality cooking; they wouldn't have lasted a week. These days things are very different, and finding a really good traditional restaurant isn't easy. However, we do still have one nearby and we frequent it as often as possible. We went for my recent birthday.
I'm not one for smothering myself in oils and lying in the sun. I prefer to be busy, or swimming, or taking Billy for a walk. Billy is another thing to add to my list of pleasures. I've loved all my dogs, and they've all had very different characters. Billy is slightly aloof, very independent, and not really very interested in food. I've been trying to train him to come to me when I call him, but without any interest in 'treats', it's not working too well. At the moment when we call him he runs in the opposite direction. I suppose I'll just have to accept him as he is. He's a lovely boy, regardless.
I really enjoy shopping in France. I go twice a week; more for the pleasure than necessity; but I like to buy 'fresh'. The deli counter in my big nearby Leclerc is superb, the fish counter is wonderful, and the fruit and veg' section has absolutely everything I could possibly want. The foreign food shelves are perhaps a little lacking, but in the UK we're so spoilt for choice that it makes the Leclerc lacklustre offerings seem quite grim; however, they do sell Patak's Mango chutney. Good quality wine is just under €10 for 5 litres. You can imagine why I enjoy it so much.
But most of all what I enjoy is the silence of our ancient, 300 year old, home. Being by ourselves in the cottage, out for a walk, or even pottering about in the garden is what we enjoy the most. This is not to say that we don't enjoy the company of others, we do; but I suppose we simply love peace and quiet.