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!


Sunday 19 November 2023

Dragons' Den spoof by Harry Enfield and Paul Whitehouse

'Dragons Den' was originally a Japanese TV programme, which was later very successfully adopted by the BBC. This spoof version by Enfield and Whitehouse is a classic, and (having worked in The City myself) is not as far-fetched as you might think.

The 'Dragons Den' characters in the video may not mean much if you haven't seen the BBC version.

Saturday 18 November 2023

A wall built of cake.

I'm not sure if I've shown this picture before; if I have I apologise.

I was recently sent this photo which brings back great memories. I think I must have been going through my Strachey period.

I had not long moved to France (Sept 1973) and had met an NZ woman who was living nearby; she later became a very good friend, and still is. She asked me if I would help to build a small wall, with flower bed, in one corner of her terrace. It was to be built of stone with a tiled top; an easy enough job which she wanted to be in keeping with the surrounding walls (i.e. rustic).

At one stage the daughter of the house brought me some Tea and Carrot cake. I had never even heard of Carrot cake, and found it as inedible as it sounded. I took a large lump and built it into the wall. My action was not appreciated.

I don't know if that's why I'm looking so miserable. I would have been about 25 at the time.


Friday 17 November 2023

A change of mind?

Pre-Brexit life was very different. We lived our quiet bucolic lives tucked away in a small cottage deep in the Southern French countryside. We harmed no-one, and no-one harmed us. It was a simple and peaceful life that suited us perfectly.

Then, regardless of us voting 'no', we were forced to leave the EU, and therefore our right to live freely in any one of the 27 EU countries. We are now only allowed to stay in our own home for 90 days (unless we become resident or apply for an extension visa; neither of which we wish to do).

OK, we're not that fussed about it, as we'd made sure we had property back in the UK; where we are presently living. We're reasonably happy to live a two-location life.

Of course we miss a lot about our life in France. The fact that we had hundreds of acres of woodland on our doorstep, a very pleasant climate, a lovely 300 year old home, and some wonderful friends. We also had enough land for plenty of fruit trees and a veg' garden (Haddock's below).

However, it now seems as if both the French and the Spaniards are having a change of mind over the 90 day limit. They propose that home-owners would simply have to carry proof of home ownership to be able to stay as long as they like.

Macron is against the idea but many French and Spanish politicians want a change. They want second homes to be occupied, and for their (possibly) wealthy owners to spend plenty of money.

The EU's current rules amount to shooting themselves in the foot simply to be nasty about a rich member-country leaving their club. Both France and Spain claim that the 90 day rule is damaging their economies (I did warn them).

It may all come to nothing, but at least it proves that there are some people on the other side of La Manche who have some amount of common sense. 


Thursday 16 November 2023

What I want of a Dog.

I've only 'owned' four Dogs; Hamlet, Monty, Bok, and Billy (all featured on my side bar).

In many ways they were all quite similar. They were playful, faithful, and appreciative of the love and care they received.

I've noticed that many people smile when they see Billy (below) approaching. There's something about Border Collies that triggers a deep-seated emotion. Perhaps it's the idea of a Sheepdog being so far from the Welsh mountains that amuses them.

Anyway, what do I want of a Dog? 

He (always a he) should be medium, or slightly above medium, sized. No Yorkies or Chihuahuas for me. I want a Dog with legs longer than the depth of a shallow puddle. 

He should preferably be black and white, or black (I made an exception with Monty), and should be capable of running long distances. He should not be afraid of the woods, or of other Dogs.

Preferably he should not be tempted to roll in stinking carcasses; but I expect that's a wish too far!

He should be friendly, and perhaps a tad 'admiring' (looking up into my eyes as if to say 'I adore you Daddy'). Occasionally he should lie down by my feet, or rest his head on my lap.

He should not suffer from car sickness.

He should be trainable, and learn simple commands such as 'away' and 'come by'. 

He should wag his tail vigorously when I come in from shopping or from the Pub'. He should always be pleased to see me (as I am with him). 

He should have 'character'. Not be sickly. Be alert. Tell me of approaching strangers, and greet friends warmly. He should be polite, well behaved, and obedient. Billy fits the bill mostly. 

Not too much to ask, is it?


Wednesday 15 November 2023

Who's in charge these days?

Palestinians are much in the news these days for obvious reasons. I was recently reminded about the only leader of theirs that I've ever known much about, and that was the delightful Yasser Arafat. Most of us will remember him; he was a well known figure on the world stage, and I'm sure he enjoyed the limelight.

He became a very wealthy man. Allegedly he had all Palestinian VAT tax receipts diverted to his private foreign bank accounts, building up a personal fortune of about $1.3 Billion. His private investment portfolio included a Coca Cola Bottling plant, A Tunisian Cell Phone Co, and various Venture Capital Funds in the USA and Cayman. The perfect capitalist, who just also happened to be the founding father of the SOCIALIST Fatah movement. Or as they say in Socialism "Do as I say, not as I do".

Sadly the Palestinian people never received any of the tax returns destined for their desperately needed infrastructure, health facilities, and social reform. The man was simply a bloody thief.

These days the leaders of Hamas, Fatah, or the PLO (if it's still operating) are no longer well known names or faces. They hide away behind schools and hospitals, probably stealing money as did Arafat; spending their spoils on weapons rather than food, utilities, or medical care. Arafat-ism is alive and well, and living in Gaza, where a healthy foreign bank account is probably as handy now as it was in Arafat's day.

Arafat ended his days in France in 2004, and I believe that the French government helped empty his Swiss bank accounts in exchange for his medical treatment. Presumably his thieving prevented the building of decent hospitals back at home, where they might have treated both him and many others. His body was later flown back to Ramallah where he was buried.

I don't know if he is still given sainthood status by the Palestinians, but if they really wish to honour an absolute scoundrel, I suppose it's their prerogative.

His wife, the fragrant Suha, also embezzled Millions, which were relieved of her after she quit The West Bank for a more luxurious life in Europe. She was well known for her extravagant shopping trips to London, Paris, and Rome, where she spent 'fortunes'. The last that was heard of her, she was broke, and living quietly in Malta (with her brother?).

The poor ordinary Palestinians deserved, and deserve, so much better.


Tuesday 14 November 2023


I hope you will be able to enlarge this picture.

For non-Europeans' information, the EU Schengen Agreement was established to allow free movement between EU member countries. The UK was not a Schengen member, and the only time it affected me was in Germany, where I had to go through purposefully unpleasant passport control etc. They were doing their best to make our lives difficult.

Schengen has worked well since its conception, but now there are problems caused by illegal immigration. Asylum seeking refugees are supposed to apply for asylum in the first EU country they enter, but countries have been passing them on simply to be rid of them. Most eventually head for the UK, Sweden, and Germany.

The whole concept of the EU was based on European unity, free trade, and freedom of movement, and without the freedom of movement it begins to crumble. It has long been predicted that the EU would eventually fail, and it looks as if this could be the beginning of its decline. If EU member countries start to control their own borders, as they did before the EU was conceived, then they will simply return to being individual countries, and the whole point of the EU would be lost. As you can see by the illustration, most countries are already taking back control of their borders.

Current high rates of illegal immigration, and the prospect of terrorism, could be responsible for the end of the great EU experiment.


Monday 13 November 2023

New laptop.


I've had to buy myself a new laptop. The old one was 'full-up' and had become listless and lazy. The new one is much faster and seems ready to perform the most difficult of tasks.

But all is not well. There are one or two oddities with the new machine. For example when I press the @ key it comes up as ". And when I press the " key it comes up as @. I don't really have a problem with this; I will learn to adapt, but why on earth did they do it?

Another thing is that all my photos from the 12th July to today have totally disappeared, and as try as I will, I have failed to find them.

I had previously given-up reading the Daily Mail, mostly on account of all those young 'celebs' showing off their 'ample assets' in the sidebar of shame. But now it has suddenly reappeared on my task bar as if by magic. I shall probably delete it again, even though its news coverage is quite good.

Otherwise it has proved very simple to set-up, even if it does insist on American spellings for which I cannot find any method of change.

It's always fun buying a new laptop. I must now have about 6 or 7 old ones lying in dusty boxes. I don't know why I keep them; it drives Lady M bonkers.

The new one has no makers name. It is, of course, Chinese, and is just what I wanted. It has a 15.6 inch screen, 16 GB, DDR4, 512 GB, and Windows 11. Whatever all that means.

As long as it does what I ask of it for a couple of years I shall be very happy. I bought the laptop through a well-known jungle shop; it arrived the following day!

Saturday 11 November 2023

Lest we forget.


Chaos in Madrid

I'm sure the Spanish riots are far more complicated than my simple assessment, but I believe this to be the basis of their troubles.

It is well known that the Catalan area of Spain wishes to become independent.

The weak Spanish ruling Socialist Party needs the support of various separatist-friendly parties in order to have any clout, and, if I understand correctly, they have made some form of coalition deal with them.

The far right are totally against any idea of Catalan independence, and below is their response outside the Socialist Party HQ in Madrid. This was their fourth night of rioting.

Proof, I suppose, that people are angry just about everywhere.

Friday 10 November 2023

Tis the Season.......

As soon as November comes around, the number of charity fund-raising begging-letters that drop through the letter box increases by 100-fold. They flood in.

I don't support as many charities as I'd like to, but we do have two favourites. Me, Medecins Sans Frontieres, and Lady Magnon, The Red Cross.

I have nothing against 'begging-letters' coming through the post; they mostly end up in the recycling bin. What I do object to is how they all get hold of both my home address and my Email address.

I have to presume that the charities we do sponsor are selling our details to others as a 'decent bet'; and that I really, really, don't like.

Many years ago I followed my mother's example and donated to Amnesty (later Amnesty International). One day I received a letter proudly saying that they'd sent 5 employees to somewhere in the USA to demonstrate outside a prison against some nasty murderer's death sentence. The man involved was the worst sort of torturer serial-killer and all-round nasty individual that one could possibly imagine, and had certainly sacrificed his right to life. He had murdered about 13 women, some of whom he had dismembered alive; he was a total monster.

I did a rough calculation of the cost of flights, hotel accommodation, lunches, travel, etc, and came to the conclusion that my annual gift of £100 would have had to be matched by several hundred other donors to pay for their 'jolly'; and for absolutely no logical reason. I was furious.

I wrote to the then Director (a Lord someone-or-other) and gave him a piece of my mind, as well as saying that he'd had my final donation. Such behaviour gives a bad name to other more worthy charities.

I wonder how many people are swayed by postal or TV appeals? I am not; yet they flood in by the dozen at this time of year, and []'on a daily basis. I'm sorry to say that they now go (mostly unopened) directly into the Paper Recycling Bin. 

I only have to presume that the huge cost of such campaigns is outweighed by the donations they receive.

p.s. If you're looking for a really worthy charity, why not try Orbis International. They treat eye problems worldwide. Have a look at their web page.

Thursday 9 November 2023

Brighton 1985

I bought my Brighton home in 1985. We were still flitting between S France and England at the time, but I established my studio in a perfect room in the new house. Luckily, even with 3 children, the house was big enough to allow me a good sized, airy, and light room in which to work. I did a lot of painting in those days.

The children were all at school, we lived in two great locations, and life was very good. No doubt it was this that put that smile on my face, and the spring in my step in this photo (from 1985) that I've just been sent. I do remember it as being a great time.

Of course we still had Woolworths, Freeman Hardy Willis, Policemen on the beat, cars that could reach 60 mph, and Polio in those days; and a pint of Wallop cost 6d. Troublesome Prince Harry was just one year old. 

Gosh, that was almost 40 years ago. Don't I look young!!!


Wednesday 8 November 2023

Last weekend.

Anyone who's seen the film 'Genevieve' will know all about last Sunday's annual London to Brighton 'old crocks' run, where vintage cars make the 50 mile journey south, hopefully without breaking down. Not an easy task. There were about 400 vehicles taking part, none of which, sadly, was driven by Kenneth More. So, well done to all car owners, it's a great spectacle.

I mentioned recently about pebbles being thrown-up by the stormy seas onto the Prom' in Hove; well this is what it looked like on Saturday. What a mess.

Both photos by Luisao Sanchez.


Tuesday 7 November 2023

It's that time of year.

November is already with us, it crept in almost unannounced.

November means the start of my annual Pickle Campaign. Slices of late-December cold Turkey would not be the same without pickles, so now is the time to start.

Onions are always the first to be done as they improve after a month or so. Red Cabbage comes later as it deteriorates after a few weeks. Christmas simply wouldn't be the same without both.

Usually I leave my peeled onions in brine overnight, but this year I forgot and put them directly into the vinegar/sugar mix, together with a few peppercorns. I don't suppose it'll make any difference. I shall buy one more bag of pickling onions today, and use the pre-brining method to see if I can detect any difference.

The red cabbage will be done mid-December, and will follow much the same process, although usually I dilute the vinegar a bit.

Pickles are great with the Christmas left-overs, and are wonderful with a good Pork Pie, or slices of Gammon. I'll probably buy a jar of ready-made Piccalilli; far too fiddly to make myself. I'm looking forward to it all already.


Monday 6 November 2023


I suppose the easiest way for me to know if it's cold or not, is by the 'Butter Test'.

Just recently the butter has been decidedly less easily spreadable than was the case just a few days ago. Conclusion: it must be getting colder.

We haven't yet started heating the house, it really isn't cold enough; although we do know people who have. I don't think our home is any better insulated than others (apart from double-glazing throughout), so there is no particular reason why it should remain warmer than elsewhere.

Being in a terrace, we have houses either side of us, and we rely on them to keep our mutually shared interior walls as warm as possible.

Last winter (this year) we turned off our central heating around March, and didn't feel cold at all.

I think people these days are too quick to artificially heat their homes. Having lived out in the country (in France) for the past 50 years, where big old stone houses have no central heating, insulation, or double glazing, one learns to dress correctly for the weather, and to light fires. Yes, we may have been cold on occasions, but it always seemed normal and healthy.

It's not yet 'cold' here (10 C this morning), but of course it will get colder before Christmas. We have no intention yet to turn on the heat; we'll leave that to the last moment.

We'll also save a LOT of money; heating doesn't come cheap!


Sunday 5 November 2023

Stormy weather.

It's been a bit wet and blustery here over the past two days. Luckily we haven't had the storm damage seen in Jersey or the West Country.

In fact other than having to wear my Barbour on two drizzly occasions, it really hasn't been that bad.

However, when walking the dog early in the mornings, the sound coming from the sea has been quite spectacular. It sounded like continuous thunder. Hove seafront (in photo) was firstly covered in foam, then revealed a carpet of stones that had been thrown-up by the crashing waves.

There's usually a plus-side to most meteorological phenomena, and ours has recently been beautiful skies. 

The 'Angel of Peace' monument sits on the boundary between Brighton and Hove.


Breaking my fast.

I am not going to force myself to eat Muesli every day for breakfast. Every so often I just have to eat something 'forbidden'.

This morning was my 'forbidden' day. I had the urge and it had to be fulfilled.

Two slices of M & S Black Pudding, and a fried Organic M & S Egg. A few turns of freshly ground black pepper, and that was it.

I believe that Black Pudding was the very first type of Charcuterie. It is full of natural minerals and vitamins. We are also now told that eating eggs is OK too, so I'm not chastising myself overly.

I shall allow myself such a treat at least once a week; probably on Sundays.


Saturday 4 November 2023

Jools Holland / Jamiroquai - I'm In The Mood For Love.

One of my favourite songs, by a favourite singer and band-leader. I did even spot the legendary late Rico Rodriguez (in the beret) playing Trombone in the background. Enjoy.

Friday 3 November 2023

Two emotional days in July 1964.

Those two days in '64  continue to haunt me, and I still have regular 'flash-backs'. Maybe writing about them will finally lay them to rest.

It was the last day of term, and my last day as a schoolboy.

The headmaster had invited me and about four other 'worthies' to tea in his study at 3pm sharp. It was served in dainty bone china cups by his diminutive and long-suffering wife.

As we sipped at our cups, he explained that a new phase of our lives was just beginning, the world was our Oyster, and that we should grasp all opportunities with both hands. He rambled on about duty, kindness, ambition, and being 'humble'. It was a tedious lecture, and we all would have preferred to be elsewhere.

Then he came to the most important part of his well rehearsed moralistic banter (we knew it was coming). He bored us with a short lecture about alcohol, and the opposite sex. We all wondered why we hadn't collectively turned-down his kind invitation and gone to the Pub' instead.

That night I was alone; everyone else had gone home. The dining hall was closed, so I ate no supper. The ancient rooms and corridors where I'd spent the previous four years were empty and strangely silent. I had never witnessed them like that before. I walked around in eerie silence, visiting rooms that I'd not previously entered. I was saying a permanent goodbye to a former life that I'd loved. 

In the early morning I tidied-up and packed my small suitcase (my trunk and box had gone in advance). As I had about a couple of hours to wait, I made a final quick 'contemplation visit' to the cathedral before heading for the railway station.

I felt as if I was cutting an invisible umbilical cord. I unscrewed the very battered brass door knobs from my study door, put them in my bag, and left (I still have the door knobs). The building's interior was to be totally gutted and refurbished during that Summer holiday, so I was probably the last boy to see it in its old state, and I had saved a souvenir from certain death. The building itself was said to be the oldest residential building in Europe (built circa 970 AD).

As I passed under the great college archway (The Porta, above, circa 1400), I felt as if a huge and important part of my life had suddenly been taken from me. A very strong sense of 'belonging' had gone forever. I felt very lonely as I walked by myself down the hill to the station.

On the train to London, I remember feeling uneasy. My boater, crisp suit, and new 'old boys tie', confirmed that I was somehow still a 'schoolboy', but in my mind I had suddenly become an adult.

At Victoria Station I dumped my bag at the Left-Luggage, and met-up with three school-friends who'd left the previous day. We then had one final meal together at a nearby Italian restaurant that we'd visited at every beginning and end of term for the past three years. When we explained to the waiter that this was our final visit, the manager came out with a complimentary bottle of Chianti, and said how much he would miss our visits. He had no idea that two amongst us would become household names. 

It was all very emotional; I knew that I would miss those meals far more than he would miss us.

Bizarrely, I had not given much thought to what I might do now that I was no longer at school. I'd turned-down an offer to study Architecture (don't ask), and was at something of a loss. A friend suggested that we both offer our services to The London Stock Exchange; so that is what we did. We both hated it, and some time later went into business together in antiques; it was only then that my adult life really began. I breathed a huge sigh of relief, until college beckoned.

Thursday 2 November 2023

Muppets - Kermit - Its not easy being green.

Life can often be complicated, and difficult, but there is always the opportunity to turn adversity into hope. Kermit explains it better than me.

Wednesday 1 November 2023


Our dining table is from Habitat, as were the four uncomfortable chairs that accompanied it.

Over the years the chairs have died, but the table lives on. We like the table very much, it is much wider than the average table (which I particularly like). It will sit six very comfortably, and eight at a stretch.

We'd been looking for replacement chairs for quite some while, then Kimbo found the above.

There are four chairs and two carvers. The design is a little passé, but they're made from good solid, and attractive, wood. They have a nice country feel about them, and go perfectly with the table, and our glasses cabinet.

I suppose the best thing about the chairs is that they cost just £40 for the six. I imagine that new they would cost more than that each.

We all love a bargain, and this was certainly one. If only life was always thus.


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