Thursday 29 February 2024

Sick as a Parrot.


I suppose it's what we've always dreaded; we've been burgled.

Our home in France has been totally ransacked, and everything of value taken. The interior is a total mess. Doors have been smashed, drawers emptied on the floor, the keys taken, and the whole house desecrated.

I'm not posting the photos we've received of the devastation, as I'd prefer to think of the house as above and below.

For the moment we are in total shock, and we're feeling very 'hurt'. I've always thought of myself as a 'local' in our tiny village, I've spent 50 years of my life there, and it was my 'home'. This has deprived us of the place we've loved so much, and we now dread going back. If only I could get my hands on the little scumbag (or probably scumbags); I'd tear his fucking tripes out.

It's true that our tiny hamlet has not been the same over the past few years. Certain newcomers have changed the atmosphere totally; but we hadn't really expected this!

I do know the French have had it in for us since Brexit, but this is too much.

If you own a home in France, I'd advise you to GET OUT NOW; spend your hard earned cash where it's appreciated, and live in peace! A friend of ours who owns a house near Dieppe was also burgled a couple of days ago.

Wednesday 28 February 2024

My car.

Here is Debi (my Compact Royce Mark 2) posing at the big Sainsbury's superstore in Hove.

I noticed yesterday that I have done 2,700 miles since I bought her a couple of years ago. And since our return to Brighton last September I have only (half) filled her with petrol once. In other words she isn't used a lot. She'd done just over 32,000 miles.

She is the perfect car for me. She's French, and as I do most of my motoring in France she would be easily dealt with should she fall ill. I always drive her with the back seats down, making her into a very commodious two-seater Station Wagon. She is also what Jeremy Clarkson once called 'An OAP's shopping car'. I think he was trying to insult her, but for me that was a compliment. 

She is well designed, other than the position of the two interior front door handles. Otherwise I see no design faults. 

She is comfortable, fast enough for my requirements, has several electrical gadgets but not too many, and drives as well as any car I've owned. I do actually enjoy driving her.

I also happen to think she looks quite nice too. My previous car, an earlier model, was probably better designed, but this one will do. I'm not over keen on the silver roof rack bars, but I'll live with them.

I think Debi enjoys her trip to Sainsbury's. She always has a spring in her step as we set off, and she purrs into her usual parking spot when we arrive.

When I first bought Debi, I'd thought she had a sun roof; she didn't. I also thought she had reversing bleeps; she doesn't. And I thought she could sing 'Jerusalem' whilst doing a pirouette on Tower Bridge; she can't.

I'm sincerely hoping that she'll be my last car. In fact I'm sure she has more life left in her than I do.


Tuesday 27 February 2024


I'm not a 'dancer', not at all, but I do occasionally attempt a simple twirl at French country fetes; where no-one is expected to know any recognisable steps anyway. 

In some ways I would liked to have learned a few classic dances, simply so I wouldn't have to be a wallflower, or disgrace myself. But it was not to be.

Of all the modern dances, I have always disliked 'break-dancing' the most. I'm sure it's all very clever, and difficult, but it does nothing for me at all.

However I do rather like this spin-off JumpStyle dancing (below). It is energetic, aesthetic, and exciting; even if I'm not over keen on the music. This example below is from Russia, and the business starts at about 35 secs. I don't think I'll be learning the moves, just give me a comfy seat and I'll watch from the sidelines.

Tell me what you think.

Sunday 25 February 2024

Penny Mordaunt fires broadside

I have no idea how parliaments in other countries operate, but here in the UK things are usually quite demure. There's occasional shouting and finger pointing, but rarely do things get out of hand. We like to think of ourselves as reasonably 'civilised'. We suffer very few 'uprisings', and it's rare that we can report on any hanky-panky.

I won't bore you with details, but recently there has been some underhand dealings, after which we saw mass walkouts, and calls for resignations. What we cannot have in our parliament is a 'Party Affiliated Speaker' making dodgy-deals with the Parliamentary Leader of that same party. This is not Cricket; it's simply not done!

Penny Mordaunt, the Leader of the House, commented on the situation in her inimitable way. Some may recall that I proposed her as Prime Minister after the fall of Boris. I still think she would make a very good PM. She doesn't mince her words! She's not someone you'd wish to oppose in a debate.

Queen - Don't Stop Me Now

I was never a big Queen fan, their music always seemed too dramatic, orchestral, and over produced. 

However I heard this track again recently, and had a look at the video. Freddie Mercury certainly had stage presence, and would have been an advantage to any band. Not someone one could ignore.

It's a tad raucous, but a bit of raucous occasionally is good for the soul. What a great performer he was.

Saturday 24 February 2024

Our poor NHS.


I was born two years before the NHS was established.

Since then the NHS has become the pride of the UK, and the envy of the world. Its claim to treat all UK citizens 'from the cradle to the grave', though a simple weekly National Insurance Stamp scheme, has kept us all feeling very safe in their hands.

They have taken-out my Appendix, removed my Tonsils, and even pulled a particularly badly-behaved Wisdom Tooth. Two of my children were born under their care, and my parents both ended their lives in NHS hospitals. In other words they have been very good to us, even though I haven't actually used their services for the past 50 years, whilst living abroad. 

These days I carry a 'UK Global Health Insurance Card' that ensures my re-imbursed health care anywhere in the world should I fall ill. 

I have always been aware that the NHS relies heavily on foreign staff, and I now hear that in fact ONE FIFTH of all NHS staff are 'foreign born'. Take away those workers and the NHS would collapse.

So, it is with huge regret that I keep seeing our young student doctors going on strike. They earn a minimum of £32,400 (plus extra for weekends and nights), until their final year when they earn about £63,000 (plus the usual extras). Once fully qualified they earn a minimum of £140,000.

What I find even more worrying than their disruptive striking, is that many say they intend to emigrate as soon as they qualify. Charming! Shouldn't they be made to stay for at least five years, to pay back some of what they've been awarded?

The NHS is now in crisis. Constant strikes are partly responsible for a huge build-up of patients awaiting treatment or surgical operations, poor quality (and expensive) management absorbs vast amounts of money that should otherwise be spent on treatment, and the government continues to pump-in a record £180 Billion to pay for it all. One can but wonder where it all goes.

So, it seems timely that we should re-think the whole concept. Keep what is good and get rid of what is bad. Give health workers a good living salary, and sack those over-paid so-called managers who fritter away money like confetti. We need our wards to be run by strict Matrons, get rid of time-wasting nurse's computer stations, and get back to doing what the NHS always did so well; looking after and caring for the sick. 

If we don't act soon, the students will be responsible for the NHS's total decline, and they will get what I suspect is their aim; Privatisation. Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown began the process with his PFI scheme, and the Union led students could finish the job for him. They would, of course, blame the Tories.

p.s. And guess what! This latest development may seem unbelievable; but it's 100% true. NHS Chief Executives are finding all the student strikes so 'stressful' that they too want a wage rise. They mostly earn £202,277 pa, but need more to cope with the extra pressure. The poor wee darlings!

Ian Lavender RIP.

Somehow I managed to miss his passing, and have only just learned of it.

Actor Ian Lavender played one of the UK's most endearing TV characters; Private Pike.

Dad's Army was amongst England's great knock-about TV comedy shows, in the tradition of the Carry On films. It concerned a war-time Home Guard unit on the south coast, and was formed from a proper ragbag of mostly elderly members. Each episode contained a watchable story, plenty of over-the-top characters, snobbery, wheeler-dealing, and plenty of laughs. Ian Lavender played the 'Silly Boy', who's mother seemed to dominate his life.

Dad's Army was certainly his most popular acting role, but he appeared in a huge amount of other TV, Stage, and Radio shows. I suspect he was never out of work.

Lavender died on 2nd February this year, but (for an unknown reason) it was only announced a few days later; he was my age. He will be greatly missed. RIP.


Friday 23 February 2024

My Mother's favourite recipe.

All families have a favourite recipe, and this was certainly one of ours. I don't know where the original recipe came from, but it was well-loved, and appeared on our table quite often. It was probably based on a Normandy version of Chicken Chasseur.

Ingredients (for 2): Two pieces of left-over roasted Chicken, half a tin of chopped Tomatoes, Calamata Olives, halved Mushrooms, and a good splash of dry Cider (I'm using white wine). Herbs, sweet Paprika, and some Olive Oil. S & P, garlic, and maybe some Chili flakes.

As with all the best recipes, it couldn't be simpler. All the ingredients are combined, and cooked for about 30 mins. It is later re-heated and served with either 'American' type Rice, or a creamy mash.

A very good stand-by recipe that would impress even your most fastidious of friends and family.

p.s. I really should have used Cider, as in my mother's recipe; the white wine gave it a very different flavour. But it was v good anyway!


Thursday 22 February 2024

Harvest time.


Those tiny plants in the pots on our doorstep were Cavolo Nero seedlings. Before heading South last year I planted a few of them on the other side of that huge Artichoke plant.

Yesterday was harvest time.

They didn't grow to anything like the size I would have liked, but they have now reached a size where the leaves were, at least, harvestable.

And this (above) is the result. Only one picking I'm afraid (that's the lot), but we really enjoyed knowing that it was all home-grown. It was also extremely tender.

I've left the stripped plants in the ground as normally they should sprout again from where I pulled the leaves; we'll see!

Wednesday 21 February 2024

June isn't that far away.

We used to have nightmares about heading South at the end of May, or early June. Our concerns were always about LONG GRASS.

Two years running we returned to metre-high grass. 'Rory', my mower, can cope with grass up to about 20 cms, but not a lot more. If I try to mow longer grass, especially if it's damp, the underneath will become clogged. Mowing dry, shortish, and regularly, is the way to go.

So, why did we return to such long grass? Well, it's very simple; we couldn't find anyone to mow it for us. We visited all the local 'gardeners', but they were all too busy. We did find one local man who said he'd do it, but he didn't. With all the unemployment around, one would have thought that a simple investment in a £2,000 (max) mower would have provided a young person with a job for life; but they prefer to do nothing.

Luckily we have now found someone, although, unusually, he doesn't own his own mower. He is reliable, fastidious, and honest; and this year we expect to return home with everything looking pristine. He is also looking after Rory, and makes sure he has his tyres pumped and his battery fizzy. We are not expecting any nasty surprises.

2024 will be the first year for over two decades that we return to a much smaller area of lawns. The barn has been sold, so there is only the land around the cottage to deal with. Not a big area. Haddock's also needs some attention, but again it's not big.

The interesting bit will be to see if the new owner of the barn (who I've not yet met) is keeping his extensive lawns in the same state as I used to; i.e. perfect. I can hardly wait.


Tuesday 20 February 2024

Imported/Exported Delights.

I'm slowly running out of all those things that I bring back from France each year.

My supply of Panzani Spaghetti and Vermicelli, is becoming desperately low, my stock of Haget 'Paté Piquante' (below) is down to the last two tins, and the small cans of Bean Sprouts have all gone. 

Most things can now be bought here in the UK, my favourite 'exotic foods' store 'Taj' has just about everything, but I am very particular about my Spaghetti, and, sadly, Haget Paté can't be bought outside France. I can only buy large cans of Bean Sprouts here, whereas I find the small ones so much more useful.


I always bring back plenty of tins of certain fish products. Squid in Ink, Octopus in a garlic flavoured oil, tins of Leibig 'Bisque de Homard' (Lobster Bisque), and other such delights that are not so easy to find here. I also bring several tubes of Harissa. Other imports are probably a bit more bizarre; I always bring back a certain make of dried Parsley simply because the 'bits' are so much bigger than I've found here. I also bring back dried Mint, but that is home-made.

If there's any space in the car when we reach Dieppe, I fill the gaps with boxes of wine (of course), but they don't last long.

When travelling in the other direction I take much less with me. Strangely I've recently not found any Cumin SEEDS in France, so that's on my list for 2024. Otherwise it's down to certain curry ingredients, and maybe a packet of Suet. 

Generally most things are now available on both sides of The Channel, it's just a matter of preference for particular manufacturers. The Spaghetti for example; Spaghetti is available everywhere, but I will only eat Panzani. My oldest (Kimbo) thinks I'm crazy, but I know it's the best!


Monday 19 February 2024


It's strange to think that these four boys were recently all sitting together around the table where I'm currently typing.

Of course they are a bit bigger these days, in fact two of them are well over 6 ft tall, with the other two not far behind.

Here they are on the beach at Goldcoast in Oz, with the futuristic city behind them.

They are all of roughly the same age, so they have much in common, and get on well together. When they were here together over Christmas it was as if they'd never been apart. In fact two live in Oz and two in the UK; their two other younger cousins live in Thailand.

I'm not alone in thinking that England has become somewhat toxic. A combination of unchecked immigration and oddball woke thinking, has created a broken society, and like that of Sweden's is frankly un-mendable. So, I am suggesting to my two UK grandsons, and their parents, that they head for Oz. I'm sure in the long term life will be far better 'down under' than it is up here. 

Will they go? I doubt it.


Persia then, Iran now.

When I was at school, a good friend of mine's (military) father had been posted to Tehran, and my friend spent his school holidays there. He returned each term with tales, and photos, of public hangings, extreme wealth and poverty, and time spent cavorting with the family of The Shah. One of his most bizarre tales was of being driven (by his father's chauffeur, no less!) out into the desert where the wealthy would dump their 'used' cars (there was no second-hand market for cars, for obvious reasons), and he would amuse himself by driving the cars around and even crashing them into each other. The cars all came complete with their keys and petrol; mostly they were big American models, and were never more than two or three years old.

It was a bizarre world, but it seemed to work quite well; even though the Shah's regime was tough on criminals and dissenters.

Now of course it's a very different country. Iran sponsors terrorism wherever they can find it, the Mullahs lead a highly repressive regime, and even the slightest dissent is crushed before it sees the light of day.

Possibly the worst to suffer are the Iranian women. After the brutal murder of Masha Amini in police custody in the winter of 22/23, Iran's women have led a minor revolution. They refused to be ordered to cover themselves 'from head to foot' at the whim of the Mullahs, and they took to the streets en masse. The regime's answer was to arrest over 22,000, of whom about 500 were then brutally murdered. Many others were beaten and tortured. All in the name of being forced (by men) to wear the Hijab.

The repression of women continues, and I cannot imagine what it must be like living with such brutality just around every corner. Some women do now show their hair in public (above), but permanently risk the retribution of the 'morality police'. This repression continues in every country where a large population of Muslims, and their Mosque-masters, exists. However, it does still pay to have the right father, or a hefty bank account.

Meanwhile the Mullahs fund every terrorist group imaginable, and threaten the US, the UK, as well as just about every other democratic non-Muslim country.

p.s. It has just been announced that Safa Aeli, the uncle of murdered Mahsa Amini, has been sentenced to over 5 years in prison for having criticised the Iranian government over the murder of his niece. Such is life in Iran. 

Sunday 18 February 2024

Left-over Breakfasts.

When we first moved to France back in '73, we used to make a weekly visit to a wonderful street market in the small nearby town of Monsempron-Libos (known simply as Libos). It was by far the biggest and best market for miles around.

The small town was situated very close to a huge metal foundry that had cast part of The Statue of Liberty. Many of the workers at the foundry had come from Algeria and Morocco, but by '73 most were sadly unemployed.

En route for the market we regularly passed a restaurant that always sported a sign saying 'Aujourd'hui Couscous, demain Morue' (Today Couscous, tomorrow Salt Cod). We never visited the restaurant, but I now really regret that we didn't, as it's no longer there.

The market itself was always a very colourful place, and it sold very colourful products. The buyers and sellers were a combination of French and N African. Djellabas were common, as were the tattooed foreheads of the N African women. It had a wonderful mid-Mediterranean feeling. 

The only time I'd previously come across Couscous was on our honeymoon in Morocco in '71, and I'd loved it. It was still unknown back in the UK.

These days Couscous appears on our menu at least once a week. I usually make a simple Chicken Tagine, but occasionally that becomes Lamb. The meat and vegetables are liberally flavoured with Ground Cumin and Cinnamon. Essential vegetables are Chick Peas, Aubergine, Courgette, red Pepper, and some Potato; all chunkily cubed. 

I always make too much, so the left-overs play a regular part in my left-over breakfasts, the others being left-over curry, and occasionally left-over Lasagna. Yesterday morning's was Couscous (above), but without any Chicken; we'd eaten all that the previous night.

90 seconds in the microwave, and Bingo! 


Saturday 17 February 2024

R I P 'Two Balls Bob'.

One of the real characters of our dog-walking community has always been 'Two Balls Bob'.

Bob never went anywhere without his two Tennis Balls. His owner told me he'd had a rough life in London before she rescued him, but he settled into a really lovely boy. 

So, Bob left us yesterday. He's gone to that great kennel in the sky. I wouldn't normally write about the passing of just any local dog, but Bob was special.

I'll really miss him, as I'm sure will all those who knew him. xx


A morning walk by the sea.

It was still reasonably quiet when we got down to the beach yesterday morning. A few fellow dog-walkers joined us by the sea, and Billy ran around with some of his chums from the park. It was a lovely bright sunny day, and the beach was the destination of choice.

Billy only goes in the water up to his elbows. He's not a fully-fledged swimmer, but he does like to chase the waves.

Signs of the recent strong winds are still to be seen along the prom'. Plenty of pebbles still needing to be swept-up and returned to their proper home on the other side of the railings.

And finally here is beautiful Brunswick Terrace, with Billy posing. We drank coffee at a small Café with the Terrace behind us, we sunned ourselves on the beach, and were home again in time for lunch.


Friday 16 February 2024


From the age of about 16, I smoked very strong French cigarettes. My Art Master at school smoked Disque Blue and I would occasionally half-inch one from his pack whilst he wasn't looking. I became a fan quite early on. 

Otherwise, in my study we would smoke very expensive Sobranie Balkan cigs; they were small and oval with a gold tip, and came in a very attractive white pack. Why we were so keen on these I don't know, it was probably my 'aesthete' friend Monty who started the trend; he was that type! 

At the same time we would drink unbelievably cheap and nasty 'British' Sherry (called English Rose), which was awful. On reflection, we would have been better off drinking good quality Sherry, and buying less expensive cigs. However, we did think ourselves as being very sophisticated when we offered study-visitors a glass of this dreadful stuff; but always in a nice s/h Sherry glass.

As soon as I left school I began smoking unfiltered Gauloises; possibly some of the strongest cigarettes around. I was never a big smoker, but I enjoyed a few each day.

I continued smoking Gauloises until about 1998, when I suddenly stopped. I woke one morning and thought how silly it was to continue smoking, and bought no more cigs. It was as simple as that. I felt no withdrawal symptoms, nor did I start to crave sweets, etc. It was a seamless divide between smoker and non-smoker.

They do say that one's lungs completely repair themselves after 7 years of non-smoking, so I think mine must be OK by now.

Maybe I'll take-up my Gauloises again;...... NO, I WON'T.


Thursday 15 February 2024

Mistaken identity.

I thought I was buying a tub of Rollmops, but when I got home I found I'd bought Dill Marinated Herring instead.

This was the second time in recent weeks that I've bought the wrong product on account of the packaging being similar. Previously it was a jar of Nescafé, where I confused a jar of 'expresso' with one of ordinary granules. Both jars were identical.

This time it was with a marinated fish product. At my favourite Sainsbury's store they sell two different products in almost identical pots, they are also side by side on the shelf. I had wanted some Rollmops but managed to grab the other one instead.

However, this time I was very happy to have done so as the Herrings you see above are totally delicious. They are half way between Swedish Sill, and the bog standard Rollmops. They are sweet but still with a hint of acidity. 

I shall certainly buy these again, and make sure I read the label first; otherwise I might come home with Rollmops.

I should add that Swedish Lady Magnon, who was raised on Sill and Meatballs, refused to taste them. More for me!

If your local Sainsbury's sells them, I can recommend.


Wednesday 14 February 2024

Bad Press.

It's true that Seagulls receive a lot of bad press. They are accused of stealing chips, of pooing on us, and even of holding rock concerts on the roofs of our houses.

However, what would the coast be like without the sight and sound of gulls? You would know instantly that something wasn't right. 

I've always rather liked their raucous screaming, and their brazen cheek. I like to see them posing on whatever podium is handy, looking down their beaks at us mere humans.

Billy doesn't like them. When he finds them on the ground he chases them into the air, and often they swoop back down on him in pretend anger. I have a feeling that they have an understanding between them.

Coastal life wouldn't be the same without seagulls. Just look how beautiful they are in the photo.


Tuesday 13 February 2024

Gazans Speaking Out Against Hamas

I have reminded myself on many occasions of the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat's, theft of $1.3 Billion from his own people. Truly disgusting behaviour by someone who courted the rich, famous, and powerful in order 'ostensibly' to help his fellow man; but instead funded his own lavish lifestyle.

Well it seems that as Palestinian leaders go, he was not alone. It has now been confirmed that the current crop of leaders are also stealing much of the international aid that arrives in Gaza. They hijack the lorries, and steal the contents. As a result, like Arafat before them, they are living luxurious lives with huge fancy apartments and fat foreign bank accounts. They buy their children fast cars and jeeps, and their wives are seen shopping in London, Paris, and Rome; not unlike Arafat's wife Suha.  

None of this is new. What is new, however, is that the residents of Gaza have had enough, and are beginning to show their anger (see video above). They want what has been given specifically to aid the people, and not watch it stolen to fund Hamas's war chest, or life style.

Hamas's disgusting behaviour has caused all this bloodshed, and now they're even stealing the very food and medicine that has been sent to help repair all the damage they've caused. 

So, do the right thing Hamas; return the hostages and give your citizens what the world has sent to help them.

Watch this space. The people's anger can only get stronger.

And when did you last see your father?

There are many paintings that most people would instantly recognise, even if they didn't know the painter's name. Da Vinci's Mona Lisa, Van Gogh's Sunflowers, Botticelli's Birth of Venus, and this painting by William Frederick Yeames.

I've always liked the idea of 'story telling' in painting. A vase of flowers is all well and good, but this picture tells a story that never fails to fascinate.

Yeames's 1878 painting 'And when did you last see your father' is a classic. The small boy has been brought before a group of interrogating Parliamentarians, who are asking him about the whereabouts of his Royalist father. The boy's sister is next in line for questioning.

Yeames was born in Russia in 1835, and died in Devon UK in 1918. I believe he based the boy in the painting on Gainsborough's 'Blue Boy', who is similarly dressed.

If you wish to see the painting, you need to visit The Walker in Liverpool.


Monday 12 February 2024

I really shouldn't laugh

Daily dog walking duties.

7.30 am Me.

10.30 am Lady M.

1.45 pm Me.

4. 30 pm Lady M.

As in most of the UK, we've been having a spot of intermittent light rain recently. Nothing drastic but you never really know when it's going to start, or finish.

For some bizarre reason (maybe the gods are smiling at me), when I take Billy out it tends to be dry, then as soon as Lady M takes him, it pours.

This hasn't happened just once, it happens quite regularly.

I'm just waiting for her to say "From now on I'll do 7.30 am and 1.45 pm, and you can do the wetter 10.30 am and 4.30 pm.

I shall, of course, refuse. I have this agreement with the weather gods, that if they don't piss on me, I won't piss on them. I'm sticking to my part of the bargain.

Sunday 11 February 2024

RIP My Mother.

Today is my mother's birthday; Feb 11th.

Apparently it was my mother's older sister (my Aunty Matt), who wrote to her saying that there was a highly eligible, and prosperous young bachelor in her Surrey village who she wanted her to meet 'at once'.

Mother came down from Shropshire, had a good look at this bachelor, and they eventually married.

We had a very pleasant childhood in our Surrey village. Nice homes, good education, and parents who lived by certain standards. There was always good food on the table, a fire in the grate, and warm comfortable beds. 

Mother took us off to (what was in those days) exotic locations for holidays. We had a wonderful circle of friends in the village, and both Mother and Father were respected citizens. Life was good.

On the domestic front, in the 1950's my mother discovered the cookery writer Elizabeth David which was a revelation to most English cooks and totally changed how the English thought about eating. When abroad Mother would always bring back strange delights that were unavailable at home, so we became used to eating interesting or unusual things, and I thank her for that.

I think Mother was born in 1914, which would have made her a theoretical 110 years old today. She was with me when I drew my very first breath, and I was with her when she drew her last. I miss her.

Happy Birthday (if that's possible)!


Saturday 10 February 2024

Daffs or a Mars Bar?


The, so called, 'Mars Bar Standard' records the cumulative value of the £Sterling (and probably the $US) since the 2nd German war.

Since 1940 the annual starting salary of a graduate joining a 'serious' company has gone from around £275 to around £28,000 today. In terms of Mars bars that graduate's salary could have bought him 33,000 bars in 1940, whereas today his salary would buy him 38,000.

Had that graduate wished to buy a small car, a Morris 8 for example, it would have cost him the equivalent of 19,200 Mars bars, whereas a Mini today would cost him 19,333 bars.

Some MB Standards have even slipped over the years. For example, a train ticket from London to Oxford in 1940 cost the equivalent of 50 bars, whereas today it would cost just 35 bars.

I only mention all this because as usual at this time of year, we always have a vase of Daffs on our dining table. For as long as I can remember I have always bought small bunches of Daffs at M & S for £1 per bunch. Two bunches fills my vase (see pic), and I change them roughly every week. They are still sold for £1 per unopened bunch.

How this relates to the cost of Mars bars I don't know, but if anyone can do a Daff calculation from between about 1940 and now, I'd be most grateful.

Friday 9 February 2024

That wee dram

Each Winter I treat myself to ONE bottle of good Single Malt Whisky, preferably made by some small independent distillery, hidden away amongst the highlands of Scotland.

This year I had even bought myself a beautiful Thistle shaped glass from which to savour the 'Nectar from the North'. I eventually found myself a bottle of Aerstone 10 year old Whisky, and could hardly wait to taste it.

I had my first taste just before Christmas, and frankly I was shocked. The bottle didn't come cheap, yet it was almost undrinkable; IT TASTES OF TAR.

No doubt this all invasive flavour comes from the barrel in which it was aged, but surely they taste each barrel before sending it to be bottled. If I had been in charge of bottling, this barrel would have been tipped down the drain. What a disappointment. There is a beautiful background flavour, but the top-taste of tar is all invasive.

Luckily my son, Kimbo, had bought me another bottle for Christmas, and it is wonderful. Even more expensive than my own purchase (almost twice the price) it is exactly what one hopes from a good Single Malt. 

'The Balvenie' 14 year old Whisky is perfect. As you can can see from the bottles, I have made good headroad into his bottle, but not into mine; even though I keep sampling it just to remind myself of how awful it is. 

I usually keep my Single Malt for the colder weather, when a wee dram before bed is very comforting, but this year we have yet to experience any real cold. I'm sure it will come, and I shall sip at my Thistle shaped glass with real pleasure. 

So, in anticipation; Slàinte Mhath.


Thursday 8 February 2024

The TWO subjects that should NEVER be broached?

We are often told that we should never discuss either Politics or Religion, our opinions should be kept to ourselves.

However, they are probably the two subjects I find the most fascinating, and the two subjects that are currently at the forefront of all the world's problems. Everyone seems to hate everyone else for reasons that involve either politics and religion; or both. They are the subjects that are somehow behind all the bad things we see happening daily.

The UK is probably amongst the last few really liberal countries in the world. Once we were proud of that liberalism, but sadly, along with so many other European countries, it has come back to bite us on the bum; yet we continue to cling to our freedom-loving ideology!

Our daily TV news broadcasts and newspapers are filled with endless tales of stabbings, crime, and sexual assaults from those to whom we gave refuge/asylum. Many older UK natives now hardly recognise their own country. The problems have become the daily fodder of both the right-leaning press, and the left-leaning TV broadcasters; so this is not biased reporting as some might cynically suggest, it is simply factual journalism.

The latest atrocity to shock Britain was a chemical attack on a young woman and her two small children. Abdul Shokoor Ezedi arrived in the UK hidden in the back of a lorry. He applied for asylum and was refused, he applied again and was refused again (why wasn't he sent home?). Then he committed some sexual assault and was sentenced to prison for a few weeks, which was suspended for two years. He had also been 'exposing himself' for which he was also made to stand on the naughty step for ten minutes. Then a miracle happened, and he managed to convince some idiot of a priest that he had become a Christian, as a result of which he was granted divine asylum. It was after this that he threw some corrosive alkaline solution over the woman and her children, causing life-altering injuries. Why are we so tolerant of these people? His example is not uncommon.

Liberal thinking has caused the problems, but liberal thinking will never solve them. We have to accept that things have now permanently changed (for the worse), and all we can do is try to educate and avoid confrontation. Sending them home (or even to Rwanda) has become impossible; the woke brigade simply won't allow it, and our prisons are full.

Personally I feel very depressed about the situation; not for myself, but for my grandsons who will inherit the mess. We have open religious and political battles on our streets. Certain religious groups preach nothing but hatred against the country that welcomed them. And even a senior staff member (Dawn Las Quevas-Allen) at BBC3 openly offers disgraceful insults towards white English natives in general, as well as posting the most vile antisemitic comments imaginable online. She has now been sacked from the BBC. What on earth has gone wrong?

I read today that the USA has a regular monthly influx of 'illegals' of around 300,000 (the population of Pittsburgh); so this isn't just a European problem.

So, what to do? I think it's time we took our gloves off, and discussed these two subjects openly, and try to find proper solutions to the problems they've caused. We can't go on like this by skirting around the subject, religion and politics have made the UK into a gangsters paradise, and it's getting worse by the day.

The woke brigade insist that everyone has 'human rights', but those who behave badly or wrongly must be prepared to surrender those rights.

We can only find a solution if we are prepared to analise and discuss!

Wednesday 7 February 2024

The night-time is the right time.

It's still not quite light when I take Billy for his, and my, first walk of the day.

Movement activated lights still go on as I pass by houses that have them, Joggers still jog, litter-louts still litter, rough-sleepers still sleep, and illegally parked cars remain illegally parked for a short while before the traffic wardens start work. It is a pleasant time of day before the routine of daily life has properly begun.

Towns and cities are very different places when everything is closed and the people are mostly still in bed. It can be eerie, and it can be dangerous, but the rewards of exploration can be very generous.

When I lived in London back in the late 60's, I had one particular flat that was just up from Marble Arch; very central. I managed to acquire an old bike, and at strange hours would often cycle down Oxford Street, turn into Regent Street, along Piccadilly to Hyde Park Corner, then up Park Lane and home again. At anywhere between 3 am and 5 am, all was quiet and deserted, and I felt as if I had the whole of London to myself. Of course there were always a few cars, taxis, and pedestrians around, but possibly only about 5% of daytime traffic. I would recommend the activity to everyone.

City centers become totally transformed when they are quiet, and sadly they are only quiet at night. London is a great place for night-time cyclists, it's reasonably level, and there is so much to see. During ordinary daytime travels one really hasn't the time or the possibility to look around; one is too busy trying to avoid other pedestrians. But at night on a bike one can take one's time, stop where one wishes, and ride safely along otherwise far too busy streets.

I'm just sorry I can't do it again. Neither do I live in London, nor does my dodgy knee allow cycling. But I do still dream of it.

Tuesday 6 February 2024

Guess the painter!

No cheating! 

YP has informed me that by clicking here and there one can get all the info required.

But play fair, and see if you can guess the artist.


Monday 5 February 2024

Sense of Continuity.

re-Printed from November 2011.

I want to fall asleep in front of an open fire that warmed the feet of my grandfather and my grandfather's father. I want to sit back in the comfort of an old wing-backed chair, and snore the contentment of ages past. I want to be accompanied by a faithful old dog, recumbent on the threadbare, once fine, fireside rug, just as it has always been.

I want to look in the mirror and see something of the smile of my long-departed mother's mother. I want to hear the lonely tick of the antique longcase clock, as I take my meals at the table that had been passed through generations.

I want to peruse the faded sepia photos of distant unknown uncles and aunts, buckled behind thick leather covers. I want to admire the same paintings that they admired; portraits, landscapes, carefully arranged flowers.

I want to pick up the small framed photo of my first ever dog, and stroke his image. I want to feel the track of a tear on my cheek as I remember my mother singing a favourite night-time song.

I want to sit quietly in my warm, dimly lit room, and remember those that I once loved; those that probably would no longer remember me. I want to dream of special times, that only I would now consider special.

I want to be aware of my past, in order that it becomes part of my future. I want to feel that I belong to a place to which I was destined to belong.

I want to pick fruit from trees that were planted by men who bore the same name as me, and grow crops in the same soil that they tilled. I want to smell the same roses, cook with the same herbs, and trim the same hedges. I want to tread the same garden path as those that held my hand; and kept me from falling.

I want to be part of continuity, both past and future, and I want my children, and my children's children to be the same.

Chimp Champs Are No Chumps (1949)

Chimp Tea Parties at London Zoo used to be regular events. People would go to watch them, and laugh.

These days such things are seen as 'politically incorrect', and no longer take place. This example from 1949 is all rather well behaved, but they weren't always so. Young Chimps were seen as naughty children, and naughty children were taken to see them.

Here is a blast from the past.

Sunday 4 February 2024

I love Saturdays.

I might sound like a sad old git, but Saturdays are by far my favourite days of each week; for various reasons.

Firstly, having taken Billy for his first walk of the day, I head off in the car to the Hove hinterland, and Sainsbury's big supermarket in particular. I always park in the same spot, and genuinely experience a feeling of excitement when I go through the big welcoming automatic doors. I get the same feeling when I enter my big Leclercb supermarket in France.

On Saturday mornings the roads are quiet, there are no school-children or students crowding around every crossing, and fellow drivers are courteous and polite. It's a pleasure to drive.

The shopping itself takes about 20 minutes. The shelves are well stacked, and they have everything both on and off my carefully drawn-up list that I desire. The little old white-haired lady (probably of my age) is regularly there on the check-out desk. She is always pleased to see me, and we chat like old friends.

Back in town if it's a warm sunny weekend, the road from the train station to the sea is always packed with fleeing Londoners. I Take Billy for his walk where it's quiet, to avoid them.

The dog-park is always filled with people I know on Saturdays. Those who are unable to walk their dogs mid-week are always there at weekends. Doing my usual 15 min weekday park circuit, now takes an hour or more. 

I don't dislike crowds (as long as they behave normally), so a walk down to the sea in the afternoon is always a pleasure. I throw a few stones at the water, drink coffee at one of the small cafés, and let Billy bite at the foaming waves as they roll in. 

Yesterday I was by myself for most of the day. Lady Magnon was in town for shopping, a meal, and the theatre (The King and I at The Dominion Theatre, TCR); a Girl's Club outing. I watched some Rugby in the afternoon, where England gave Italy a sound thrashing; score Eng 27, Italy 24. (phew)

Today, of course is Sunday; a very different day. I buy The Sunday Times, and lounge about reading bits and pieces, and doing very little other than playing with Billy. If I had a time machine I would return to yesterday, and live my Saturday all over again.


Saturday 3 February 2024

The Cure - Friday I'm In Love

This is one of The Cure's flagship songs, and possibly their best video. There's not much in the world that doesn't feature in this short film. Pop videos are usually pretty dire, but this one is well crafted; it almost outshines the song.

I always rather liked The Cure. Their front man Robert Smith was, and still is, one of the worst dressed people in the world of music. I think he made it his trademark.

I meant to post this yesterday (Friday) but I forgot.

Friday 2 February 2024


This is a photo of my first ever dog; Hamlet, known to all as Hammy. He was a Heinz Allsorts Black-n-Tan medium-sized Terrier.

I was in my final year at college when someone told us of a really nice dog that was available, free of charge.

We went to their house, and took Hamlet out for a walk. He seemed to bond with us immediately, and we said we'd have him. We also said we'd pick him up the following day. As I was driving away, Hamlet became over-excited and ran in front of my car. His front right leg broke, and we took him at once to the Vet'.

Just our luck, there was a postal strike on at the time, and the Vet' was unable to order the exact sized metal plate required, so he was obliged to use a slightly larger one instead. Hammy's right foot forever pointed slightly outwards. He had already cost me £100.

Hamlet had originally been bought at Leeds Market for 50p, and taken to London by the two sisters who'd spotted him; it was them who named him Hamlet. The girls were both out at work every day, and Hammy ate their shoes, so they took him down to their large country house near Farnham, where I was at college. There were already a number of much bigger dogs at the country house, and poor Hammy was deprived of food and was often bullied. They needed to find him a new home fast. This is how I learned about him.

Hamlet lived with us in Farnham, in Shropshire, and in Wales, before emigrating with us to S W France in 1973. He adored the freedom he enjoyed at our lovely big farmhouse, and soon got to know all the other local dogs. He even made a regular pilgrimage to one local farm to steal an egg every morning; I was only told about this years after he'd died.

In the late 70's I was obliged to visit the UK occasionally, and Hamlet stayed with a good friend. Sadly he was attacked by a gang of dogs (on a rutting trip), and he suffered severe injuries to his neck. He died soon afterwards.

Hamlet was the most lovely dog imaginable. He was everything a dog should be; and he looked cute too.

I don't know his date of birth, or the date when he died. I don't know even know where he's buried. I still miss him.

Thursday 1 February 2024

What the Dickens.....?

The Manchester Guardian's infamous Cricket commentator, Neville Cardus, said that anyone who dismisses the works of Charles Dickens should be avoided. I think he was right.

I was trying to think of how many Dickens novels I've actually read myself; probably not that many. We have a whole set of his books in France (the long row of brown books, above), and occasionally I will read one, but usually one of the more well known ones. I now intend to read the more obscure ones.

Maybe I'll start with 'The Haunted Man', or 'The mystery of Edwin Drood', neither of which I know anything about. 'Edwin Drood' was Dickens's final, and unfinished, novel; so perhaps the more interesting. 

Dickens probably offers us the finest incursion into Victorian life, with George Cruikshank's wonderful original illustrations bringing it all to life perfectly. 

He wrote about 15 novels, of which I've only read about 7 or 8. Sorely lacking Cro!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...