Saturday 30 September 2023

Oh dear!

This story has probably caused more outrage in England than any war, pandemic, or sex scandal.

During the night of the 27/28th (I think), some total idiot destroyed this iconic tree. A16 year old male has been arrested.

What went through his adolescent mind in order to cause such awful destruction, I cannot imagine.

The tree lived in the Northumberland National Park, by the side of a dip in Hadrian's Wall. It was a famous and well loved landmark, and had even (I believe) appeared in films.

It wasn't on a road, so one has to presume that the 16 year old had taken a car or quad bike up to the location. He would have needed quite a large chainsaw to fell the tree which would have been too heavy to carry.

Regular readers may remember that another idiot took an axe to one of the trees in the park where I go daily with Billy. I'm pleased to say that it is healing well and no permanent damage was done (other than a scar). In this case, however, a famous landmark has been totally destroyed. It's possible that it may sprout again from the stump, but it is doubtful.

This idiot of a boy has had his few minutes of fame, and will no doubt spend a while in prison to contemplate his folly. What makes someone do such things is a mystery, I imagine he has no aim or purpose in life and he was making a statement in the only way he knew how. However, there are other ways such lost souls can express themselves which don't involve destruction. It's a pity that no-one had pointed him in the right direction.


Friday 29 September 2023

Breakfast dilemma.

Breakfast has recently become more of a problem than it used to be. I have tried to resist the eating of bacon, fried eggs, haggis, black pudding, etc, in exchange for a more balanced diet of either toast or muesli. 

My other alternative is left-overs from the previous night's supper; curry, couscous, roasted meat, etc. These are usually blasted for 1.5 mins in the Microwave. 

Generally, I have a couple of slices of toasted seeded wholemeal bread, so my next problem is what I shall accompany it with. 

For obvious reasons I eat my breakfast alone (at 5 am), so I can't ask 'would you prefer X or Y' other than to myself. The decision making is entirely my own.

I'm not supposed to eat too much sugar or salt, so here is where the problems begin.

Whilst my toast is burning, I tend to put out all alternatives; Marmite, Honey, Marmalade, or Peanut Butter. Occasionally I add Hummus, St Agur blue cheese, or a few Anchovies. The confusion abounds.

This above is what my breakfast table looked like yesterday morning, other than two tiny Lamb Chops that I'd already eaten.

Of my two slices of toast, one was eaten with Marmite, and the other with Coopers Oxford Marmalade.

I did also bring back quite a few tins of 'sea foods' from France, but I keep them for 'special occasions'. These include Squid in Ink, Octopus in marinera sauce, and various styles of Shellfish and Sardines. All real favourites with buttered toast in the mornings.

Anyway, this morning I couldn't resist any longer and treated myself to a fried egg on toast with a couple of 'slices' of haggis. Lovely.

My breakfasts are always complicated.

Thursday 28 September 2023


I don't know what the weather is like where you live, but here it's been quite good.

I still haven't needed to wear my Barbour or gumboots, in fact I've been wearing just shorts and T shirt every day since we got back three weeks ago. We have been promised rain, and storms, but neither have materialised other than some light overnight drizzle. 

We have beautiful Roses in front of, and behind, the house, and my vine is full of grapes; whether these will ripen to become edible is anyone's guess. Most days have been sunny, and we've had our big dining room doors permanently open during daytime, as well as the new big bedroom window open at nights.

My forecaster is predicting daytime temperatures up to 20 C for the next week or so, and no rain. And people are still swimming in a reasonably warm sea (not me).

I am not delusional; I do know that some nasty weather is bound to come our way before too long, but the Winter before last was very dry and mild and I'm hoping that that will be repeated again this Winter.

Yesterday I needed to do some shopping and as usual I went in shorts and T shirt. I noticed at once that the majority of people were wrapped in Winter weather clothes. They had foolishly watched the TV weather forecast which had been 100% wrong. 

Hurricane Agnes failed to arrive, other than a stiff breeze. Never believe forecasters.


Wednesday 27 September 2023

Cute Baby Elephant

Baby Elephants must be the cutest creatures on earth. I would really like one (as long as it didn't grow-up!

Many years ago Lady M wanted a Giraffe for Christmas; but I had to put my foot down, and say 'no'.

Had she asked for a baby Elephant; who knows!

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Fire Brand.


A week ago, the Sunday papers had only one subject on their front pages; yes, it was him.  

This man (The self-declared 'Saviour of the Universe'; whose name I won't mention) seems to be finally getting his comeuppance, and possibly about time too.

We all know how easy it is to become 'famous' by shocking the public. One can also become famous by being outrageously foul-mouthed and radical. But once that fame has been achieved it shouldn't be 'used or abused'.

His appalling 2008 broadcast, along with sidekick Jonathan Ross, leaving obscene messages on the answerphone of actor Andrew Sachs about his granddaughter Georgina Baillie, should really have ended his career, but his junior snowflake lovie supporters somehow ensured his survival. He did resign from the BBC over the affair, but I presume others of his ilk must since have employed him. 

Now, many of the women and girls that he allegedly abused or exposed himself to in his heyday, have come forward, only this time he won't simply be allowed to 'resign', he'll more than likely end-up in court.

He, and people such as fellow self-obsessed weirdo Andrew Tate, should always expect their nastiness to catch-up with them; and it looks as if for both of them, it has.

I have written previously about this person, and regular readers might remember my feelings about him. I am not at all surprised about the current accusations.

I don't wish to be over judgemental prior to judicial findings, because I am well aware that some gullible young women do idolise 'celebs', and will often throw themselves at them, and regret later. We shall have to wait and see what happens, but if he is found guilty I hope they throw the book at him!

And, yes; this Sunday's Times newspaper continued its coverage of him and a few of his fellow nasties. They are describing them as 'A Leaderless Cult', which is exactly what they are. It's time it was dismantled.

This particular member of the cult has made a career out of being very nasty, sexually provocative, and politically naïve; if he does get his comeuppance, I shall shed no tears.

Monday 25 September 2023

Prior Crauden.

The chapel you see below is in fact two chapels. At ground floor is The Undercroft Chapel, and up a very narrow winding stone staircase is Prior Crauden's Chapel.

The long building to the left is 'the oldest inhabited residential building in Europe', it was built around 970 AD. It is where I spent four years at school. You can understand why the chapels were so omnipresent in the young Cro's early life. They were directly opposite my 'front door'.

Prior Crauden's Chapel (below) is one of the most beautiful and serene places on earth. It is very small, beautifully decorated with carved stone niches and remains of vaulting, and with an ancient tiled floor depicting Adam and Eve under the altar area.

When I was at school I would often take a book up there and sit for hours in one of the niches, reading. I was almost guaranteed to be alone, and it made the most perfect 'reading room'; far quieter than our library.

The chapel was built in 1320 by Prior John de Crauden, and I shall remain eternally grateful to him.


Sunday 24 September 2023

Far too early!

Yes, it had to happen and it's not even October.

Mince pies are in the shops. I have also seen Christmas Puddings, and Christmas Cakes. It won't be long before the aisles are filled with tinsel, tree baubles, and cheap gaudy Santa suits.

By the time we get to Dec 25th, we'll all be fed-up with Christmas, and only too pleased to see the back of it.

And, NO, I didn't buy any, but I did buy some Crumpets!

Saturday 23 September 2023


We don't have many books here, those we do have are probably hidden away in the loft. Most of our books are in France, and I have no intention of filling the car with them to bring them back here.

So, a new book is something of a novelty. Lady M bought this one recently and we are both reading it at the same time; we simply have two different book marks. When she puts it down, I take it up, and we read alternatively.

I'd not previously heard of Ms Strout, but I believe she is a highly regarded writer. I do like her slightly 'stream of consciousness' style of writing, and in a similar way to W B Yates I also like the fact that she will always use a single small word instead of trying to impress with several larger ones. It is written almost as a diary, I also like the way she divides the pages.

The story itself is about a woman who leaves New York to escape the ravages of Covid, her relationship with her ex-husband, and all sorts of other bits and pieces in between. It's a surprisingly good read, filled with highs and lows; not a lot happens.

I shall have to visit some Charity Shops soon to buy some more books; I really don't like being without something to read, even if I don't actually read it.

I'm currently reading Alan Bennett's 'Lady in the Van'; a very short book that should take me about ten minutes to finish; and I now have. A bit like a starter, but without any main course.

I've just begun another of Ms Strout's novels, 'Olive Kitteridge'.

Friday 22 September 2023

The Icon of the Seas.

If your idea of a fun holiday is to board some sort of floating Benidorm, then this if for you!

This cruise ship (to be launched next year) will be the world's biggest. It will have 5,610 passengers, 2,350 crew members, 19 floors, 20 different styles of restaurant, 40 bars, 7 swimming pools, 9 hot tubs, and is 5 times the size of The Titanic. I believe it also has a huge waterfall. What fun people will have.

Just looking at the above photo makes me feel ill. It appears to be a cross between The Costa del Sol, Disney Land, and Barby's bathroom; could it be any worse?

If Gustave Doré's vision of Hell is not Hellish enough for you, just look at the above photo for a while. 

Will I be booking a trip? ABSOLUTELY NOT.


Thursday 21 September 2023

Safe and Found.

It was actually my friend Eve who found the safe; she is the owner of 'Two Balls Bob'. It was tucked behind a gravestone in the graveyard.

I just happened to be passing by as she was looking through the innards in order to find some clue as to ownership.

We found some chequebooks which gave the owners name as a nearby Dental Co, so I popped down to their offices and explained where the safe could be found; it was too heavy to carry down; especially with Billy in tow.

The lady at the Dental Co didn't seem in a rush to retrieve it, but was quite happy to know where it was. I did ask when it had gone missing, and she simply said 'last night'.

You never know what you're going to find around Brighton. Amongst other things I've found a man's holdall with it's wallet missing, a woman's handbag complete with her passport wallet and credit cards, a single credit card, and now a safe. Each one (other than the safe) has been reunited with the owner, but not necessarily with all contents. 

I have no idea if anything was taken from the safe; I have to presume it was.

I noticed this morning that the safe is still in the churchyard. I would have to presume that they couldn't give a damn about its theft.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

France v UK.

Certain differences are immediately noticeable between France and the UK; the most obvious being the price of wine.

For our everyday throwing wine, I tend to buy it in boxes. There are two main advantages to this, firstly the wine stays fresh for well over a week (if it lasts that long), and secondly I don't end-up with piles of empty glass bottles. The wine itself is also perfectly acceptable.

However, the price is very different on either side of the Channel. In France I buy 5 litre boxes at just under €10 (about £7.30), and here I buy 3 bottle boxes (2.25 Litres) for £13.50.

Yes, 5 litres for £7.30 in France, and 2.25 litres for £13.50 here in the UK. WHY? Less that half the quantity in the UK for around twice the price!

It's exactly the same product, there is no shortage, and its transport is no different to anything else.

Well the answer is very simple; it's tax. In the UK the greedy tax folk take 14.5% tax and another 20% VAT on all wine over 11 degrees. This excessive, and you can guarantee that it will rise again with every budget.

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Another Sunday Pub' Lunch.


'The Caxton' is my local. It is a leisurely 200 metre walk away from my front door.

Its interior is exactly what a small Pub' should be like. Scrubbed Pine tables, an assortment of old Pine chairs, an open fire, a creaky wooden floor, attractive barmaids, and a few well-behaved dogs lying by their owners feet. There are plenty of books on the shelves, and a large pile of boxed 'games' for clients to amuse themselves with. The beer is pretty good too.

On Sundays they add a few 'specials' to their usual daily menu. Traditional roasts abound. As with so many Pubs these days, good food is as important as good beer for their long-term financial survival. I plumped for a huge slab of slow roasted Belly Pork, with numerous trimmings.

Last Sunday we went out into the Sussex countryside for our Sunday Lunch, this week we stayed closer to home. Both meals were excellent, and both were surprisingly similar. We shall go again. 

I could get used to this!

Monday 18 September 2023

Dog Party

Saturday was supposed to have been the last of our warm sunny days for a while (we shall see), so a 'Dog Party' was hurriedly arranged for the early evening.

We don't always have time to chat to the other dog walkers, so it was a very pleasant occasion to get to know some of them a bit better. 

I couldn't get a photo that showed the true number of people who attended, but I would estimate about three or four times the number shown above; plus, of course, their dogs.

Everyone took their own preferred drinks. We took wine, others took beer. It was a very jolly affair; we should do it more often.

They're a very nice bunch of people, and it says a lot about them that they could organise such a gathering in such a short time. All dogs were very well behaved; including Billy. Lady M actually heard about the party from a fellow dog-walker down on the beach after lunch. Word travels very fast amongst the dog-owning community.


Sunday 17 September 2023

A bit of this, and a bit of that.

Saturdays are always my busiest day of the week. I do my main 'out-of-town' shopping for the week, leaving here at 7 am, and returning around 8 am. I take my car.

Yesterday morning the sky was filled with vapour trails mostly going in an East/West-ish direction. It's not normally like that.

Billy had already had his early morning walk, and on the return journey we went through the churchyard. I thought it looked particularly beautiful and quiet; so I took this photo.

Whilst shopping I couldn't resist a Pork Pie for lunch. This particular one is by Dickinson & Morris of Melton Mowbray itself, and was very good. The crust was especially well made.

Later I popped down to The Lanes where one of my favourite shops is based. Yum Yum is an 'Oriental Market', where you can find just about anything that comes from China or The Far East. I am particularly fond of these tinned Pickled Mustard Greens, so invested in several. One was consumed along with the Pork Pie.

We've been back in Brighton for almost two weeks, and I think I'm just about stocked-up with all the goodies I usually have at hand. Even the freezer is well stocked!

This was probably the last warm sunny day for some while, so we tried to make the most of it. There was even an evening 'Dog Party'; but more of that later!

Saturday 16 September 2023


We've had no rain since our return to Brighton on the 4th of this month, in fact we've had nothing but hot sunshine. But now it looks as if we'll have nothing but rain for the next week or so. As you can see below, we are supposed to have storms on Sunday, then rain for as long as the forecaster can predict; at least until the 24th.

I have come prepared this year. I have my 'almost full length' Barbour, my wellies, and an ill-fitting waxed rain hat that I need to replace. I am reasonably well kitted against the elements.

Even so, I don't like rain. As much as I hate snow, I would almost prefer it to rain. Of course I love the sight and sound of pukka torrential rain, especially if accompanied by thunder and lightning, it can be wonderful to watch. But the average light, wetting, relentless, stuff we usually get is tedious to say the least.

Weather forecasters are notoriously wrong most of the time, so all this predicted wet weather is not really guaranteed; we shall soon see!

Friday 15 September 2023

The Green Lady (no picture)


I call her 'The Green Lady' because she dresses head to foot in old faded green.

I know nothing about her other than she's very pleasant, she loves Billy, and she sounds quite 'educated'.

She is totally covered, so I have never seen what she looks like. Not one speck of flesh is showing. She wears a long plastic coat with a peaked hood. Her face is swathed in 'I'm not sure what', and her hands are always gloved.

She has what looks like a protruding stomach, which I think is probably a bag underneath her coat. She also walks with a slight limp.

If I was to guess her age I would say she was around 60, but really I have no idea. 

We meet quite often as her time-keeping is similar to mine, and as dependable. I always stop to chat for a while, and wonder if I'm the only person who does so. I can imagine that many would cross the road when they see her approaching. She does look very strange.

I am fascinated by this woman. Is she disfigured maybe? Is she simply very eccentric? Is she hiding from the world around her?

She wears what looks like an identity tag. Maybe she sells 'The Big Issue' on street corners. I wonder if she actually has her own home?

To most people she would simply look like a 'Bag Lady', but without any bags. But to me she is a person of interest. There is no question that she is educated, very pleasant, and fond of animals, so she ticks all the boxes for the type of person I tend to like.

Of course, she could be an eccentric millionaire who owns half of Brighton, but I expect she's just someone who's had something tragic happen in her life.

I'd love to know more about her, and to see her face, but I'm not going to pry. We'll continue to meet occasionally and chat, and that will be the extent of our 'friendship'. I expect that's how she likes it too.

Thursday 14 September 2023

Some imagination required!!!


I've seen cats who look like Hitler, cut Peppers containing the face of Jesus, but never before have I seen a pavement complete with a repair in the form of an amateur map of Great Britain.

It doesn't get stranger than that!

Well actually it does; blow me down, I then came across this icon of 'Jesus' himself lying by the side of the road. The likeness is staggering.

I was simply amazed that I didn't see a UFO on the way home, or that I wasn't whisked away by aliens.

Whatever next!

Wednesday 13 September 2023

Out with the old, in with the new.

The big double window in our bedroom was old, very heavy, and past its best. We think it was the last of its type in the street; everyone else had already changed theirs.

The men arrived at 9 am, and were finished by midday. We had already warned our neighbours that there would be some noise, but it wasn't too bad.

The previous window was metal, the new one UPVC. Looking at them you really wouldn't see that much difference.

In fact the difference should only be noticeable for us. The new ones are double glazed, draught-proof, and upkeep-free. At the moment we sleep with the window wide open, but in Winter we should be much warmer.

The installation was painless (other than for the wallet), and the men left everything as clean as they possibly could.

A good job lads! We now have no more windows or doors to replace; all done.


Tuesday 12 September 2023

What a difference an arch makes.

I was very disappointed when on the 1st January 2001 (1. 1. 1), no new arches were unveiled hereabouts to welcome the new millennium. 

Arches, if well designed, are simple, not over expensive, and long lasting. They are the perfect structure to commemorate important dates or events, as they always have been. From the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to the Marble Arch in London, they have always been the structure of choice to celebrate major events, whether they be very grand or very simple.

So, what did we get instead? Well, we got Norman Foster's wobbly Millennium bridge in London for a start. I can't think of much else.

This one (beautifully modelled by Billy) is the entrance to The Rest Garden where we go several times a day. It's a beautiful structure, simple yet inviting.

And this is another nearby arch, just over the road, which leads to the children's play garden (no dogs allowed). Even more simple, but it adds so much.

A few bricks, some cut stones, and a decent sized plaque, and you have a memorial that will last for centuries. What a shame that no-one thought to erect a few for the (now not so) new Millennium. 


Monday 11 September 2023

Sunday Lunch

There are many 'notorious' Pubs in England; The Tan Hill Inn in Yorkshire, The Ace of Spades on the A3 in Kingston-upon-Thames, and of course the 14th C Blackboys Inn in the Sussex village of the same name. It was at the latter where we had a surprise lunch yesterday.

In case you were wondering, the name 'Blackboys' comes from the common practice of Charcoal Burning in the area.

The building itself is spectacular, a real old Coaching Inn turned into the most welcoming Pub' you could imagine. The place was packed, but even so we managed to find a secluded spot out of the glaring sunshine. 

Lunch was excellent, and was washed-down with a couple of pints of 'Harvey's' bitter, from nearby Lewes. The girls drank pink wine, and later ate sticky toffee puddings. 

On returning home, Kimbo and Susie went down for a swim. A really lovely day out. 


Sunday 10 September 2023

Four quid!

When we went away it was £3.50; now it's £4.

The only newspaper I buy is The Sunday Times. It consists of a main newspaper, a sport section, a homes section, a financial section, plus usually three separate magazines; one for TV, one for women's fashion, and another for general interest subjects.

The amount of advertising throughout all the sections is unbelievable. The amount of actual 'journalism' is almost nothing in comparison.

Of course I read the actual news pages, and I also read the editorial pages. I read the letters page, and one or two of the better feature writers. The amount I actually read would probably fit on two or three pages of a broadsheet. We also play our weekly game of choosing a house on page 3 of the homes section. The rest, frankly, is of no interest.

With all the advertising, I often feel as if they should be paying me to read their wretched paper. Why should I have to pay to avoid looking at adverts?

So, has there been 50p's worth of improvement over the three months that we've been away? The answer has to be a definite NO.


One of my favourite jokes; The Irish Porch.

In the pretty little village of Ticklemedo in County Cork, Ireland, the widow O'Kennedy wanted to have her new porch creosoted.

She telephoned the local man who specialised in such things to ask him for a quote.

Paddy O'Biden made some calculations on the back of his betting-slip, then diligently sent off his estimate to Mrs O'Kennedy. The figure was approved, and he promised to come the following week.

Paddy O'Biden arrived around lunchtime, and after a sandwich, a bottle of Guinness, and a short nap, he immediately set to work.

When all was finished he knocked on the kitchen door where he was offered a cup of tea and a slice of buttered Soda Bread.

"Oh, and before I go" he said to the widow O'Kennedy, as he rose to leave, "that isn't a Porsche you've got there, it's a Volkswagen.

Boom boom.


Saturday 9 September 2023

So many things come in 3's.


When I was up at my senior school, my headmaster had an oft'-used mantra that was known as his 3 C's.

He never missed an opportunity to tell us the importance of Christianity, Classics, and Cricket. To him these were the three things that would see us through life on a clear and open path. I always embraced No's 2 and 3, but No 1 never really appealed. Amazingly I had been my intake year's Classics Scholar.

Also at school, my Music Appreciation tutor stressed the importance of Stravinsky, Schoenberg, and Stockhausen. His 3 S's.

I still think in terms of 3's. When driving to the shops in France, if I have encountered two cars coming my way, I always expect to meet a third, and pay careful attention (our roads are very narrow). It's amazing how often it happens.

I recently wrote of 'Three Memorable Encounters'; another example of how things in 3's just seem to happen naturally. I also have 3 children.

The 'Rule of Three' applies to the planting of trees. It is the number of Cricket stumps. Goldilocks met three Bears. How many coins in a fountain? The 'tricolore'. The Three wise Monkeys. Three French Hens. And finally The Three Graces. 

Three is a very useful, and oft'-used number. It makes an aesthetic 'group'. And it is an important member of my theory that 12 is a far more useful number than 10.

Friday 8 September 2023


I took this photo of our pool gate and the pump house, just before we set off for Blighty recently. It was a lovely morning, and it all looked so beautiful.

For the past 3 months I've been swimming about 300 metres every day. The pool reached just over 30 C for a few days, but mostly stayed around 25 C. Building the pool was one of our more sensible decisions. It is not artificially heated; sun only.

In June of this year a new pool was opened here in Brighton. It's on the beach, it's Olympic size, and they say that the sea water is permanently 'heated' to between 15-19 C which is warmer than the usual sea temperature. I must say that photos of the pool do look very appealing, but the water temperature doesn't.

I had thought that I'd give it a go but my enthusiasm has waned. I wouldn't swim in my own pool at that temperature.

Last night Lady M received an invitation from one of her friends to go swimming in the sea; she accepted. I've just checked the sea water temperature and it's between 18 and 19 C; she might survive.

p.s. Lady M did actually go swimming yesterday afternoon, and loved it. She's going again today!

Thursday 7 September 2023

School of Saatchi on Harry Hill's TV Burp

It's always good to poke fun at the Art World, and here is Harry's view of Contemporary Art.

Wednesday 6 September 2023


A good night's sleep can depend on many things. Finding exactly the right bed is probably amongst the most important factors.

Personally I like quite a firm bed. I also like to sleep without sheets and blankets; provided that it's warm enough. In Summer I also like to have the windows wide open so that there is always a good flow of fresh air (with Mosquito netting, of course).

In Winter I creep under a thin duvet, but I continue to like the fresh air. 

Unfortunately none of this has yet allowed me to sleep for more than about 4 hours per night. I haven't slept a whole night's sleep for maybe 40 years, and I'm beginning to get a bit miffed. I refuse to take sleeping pills, or follow some mumbo-jumbo magic, but I would like to find a simple formula that would give me just a couple more hours. I'd be quite happy with 6 hours non-interrupted sleep.

In the meantime, I wake very early, listen to a load of political tripe on LBC Radio, then get-up to have my first cup of coffee at 5 am. It is now 5.25 am and I'm up and about.


Tuesday 5 September 2023

A different world.


We're back in Brighton. A town (city) of culture, youth, beach-life, hen party crowds, occasional noisy football supporters, students, restaurants, and a wonderful multi-cultural (and diverse) population.

At the cultural centre-point of town is the Royal Pavilion (above). Behind it is Kemp Town, and to the front are gardens where people gather, and the wonderful Theatre Royal. 

I do love the simplicity of life in Southern France, but I also love the buzz of our more fast-paced existence in Southern England. The two locations couldn't be more different. When you have a building such as The Brighton Pavilion as an urban centre point, you just know you're somewhere quite special.

Within easy walking distance we have every convenience imaginable. The train station is only a five minute leisurely walk away, central London being just a 50 min ride. All the best stores are nearby; M & S, Waitrose, Sainsbury's, Tesco, etc, are all handy, and yet we live in a remarkably quiet street. Billy is catered for with two dog-friendly gardens where he meets his friends on a daily basis.

All locations have their pros and cons, but I can't think of any cons in Brighton; I'm sounding like an Estate Agent.

We'll miss the peace and quiet of the countryside, but we'll embrace the friendliness and buzz of town. Lady M will be reunited with all her 'gin club' friends, Billy will be stroked by numerous people on his way to the park, and I will again be greeted by school children, the strange Green Lady, and every type and age of character in between. 

When I see the vicar from the nearby church, I always hail him with a hearty "Good morning Father", and he replies in a similar fashion. We shall see urban Foxes, the occasional junkie, and a few rough-sleepers. No-one is aggressive, and there is a mutual respect that is adhered-to by all. 

When we drove into Brighton at about midnight last light, it was still buzzing. We saw groups of clantilly dressed barefooted girls (what DO they do with their shoes?), a gang of Drag Queens, lots of people enjoying late night drinking outside bars, and a Fox. It felt very good to be back!

Sunday 3 September 2023

Goodbye France


Our 3 months are up; it'll be another 9 months before we return to our little home in France. In the meantime the fire will stay unlit, the rooms will be cold and lifeless, and the front door will stay securely locked. We have a gardener coming in to keep things tidy, otherwise all will be still.

There'll be no more games around the pool, our Lutyens bench will remain un-sat-upon, and the dull black plastic winter pool cover will hide all vestige of this year's Summer fun.

When we return next June (god willing) there will be a new man living up at the barn. We shall continue to maintain the garden until the 'completion date', then it'll be all his. We're looking forward to meeting him.

Ahead of us is the 700 Km drive North, a stop-over in Orléans, and a 4 hr overnight ferry ride from Dieppe to Newhaven. Billy tolerates the trip quite well, but I know he'll be very happy to get home. I do hope he's not sick!!!

Our phone/internet cables are still lying on the ground. We have the new pole, but no-one has come to connect the wires to it (am I surprised?). Our neighbour's temporary electricity connection is still also lying on the ground behind our house. His six month maximum legal-limit connection has turned into more than FOUR YEARS, with one person lucky not to have been killed after 'mowing' over it. I wonder if it'll take another FOUR YEARS before he has a permanent connection made? No-one seems to give a sh*t. 

I can almost guarantee that both our phone cables, and the neighbour's temporary electricity connections, will still be lying all over the ground next June (watch this space).

So, goodbye France. My fingers are crossed for an uneventful trip. See yer back in Blighty, with all the 
hussle and bussle of Brighton! Gosh, the past three months have gone by so quickly. But we've had a really great time. We should be home on Tuesday morning.

Saturday 2 September 2023

The Plantation.

Before leaving France there is always one place that I have to visit; my friend José's biggest Chestnut plantation, which is just two hundred metres from our front door. I remember when he planted it, and I've watched it grow ever since.

I went quite early because I wanted to catch the sunrise coming through the trees. I'm afraid my cheap phone camera does not do the scene justice, but it gives an idea. The plantation runs for another 100 metres behind where I took the photo.

José and his daughter are one of the major Chestnut growers in the village, and what he doesn't know about them ain't worth knowing. I imagine that Chestnuts are now his major crop.

The nuts haven't yet started falling, but they won't be far off. I always love to see, and hear, their old machine (the diabolique) gathering the nuts. It makes a very particular sound, which sadly we won't hear this year.

I shall be taking a small jar of ready peeled and cooked local Chestnuts back with me for Christmas. So much more convenient than fresh.


Friday 1 September 2023

One final mow.

We have been instructed by our selling agent that the barn must be handed-over to the new owner with the gardens maintained, and the interior clean. I'm not sure if she though that we would have done anything less, but we did feel as if she was talking-down to a pair of dim-wit four year olds.

So, I have now completed my final mowing. I also swept-out the barn part which is now beautifully clean. Everything is ship-shape, sparkling, and ready to go. If the lawns need more mowing before 'completion date' then the gardener will pop up and give it a trim. As you can see by the sorry state of the grass, it's been very hot and dry. I was kicking-up dust clouds with the mower.

It's been quite an emotional few days. Not only are we returning to our Winter quarters in a couple of day's time (with all the work that that entails), but we are also saying goodbye to a home that I personally spent a couple of years creating; and many more maintaining. It's also hard saying goodbye to the orchard I planted, with all the children's birth-day trees. I cannot imagine how I will feel when we return next year to find a complete stranger living there.

I've been wandering around the now bare interior looking at all the details of my 'hard graft'. The spot where I hit my thumb with a hammer, where I hit my head on a beam and had red stuff gushing down my neck, and where we had a big fluffy black cat hiding under the kitchen cupboards for four days. Lots of memories.

Of course our best memories are of Boo Boo and The Cherub in their Elves suits at Christmas, building huge Lego towers in the garden, and of 'Grumsy' cooking Cheesy Pasta for them at lunch times (their favourite).

I'm not quite sure how I'm going to feel next June, when we return. Only time will tell.

This afternoon I close the pool.

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