Friday 31 May 2024

Gilbert and George.

I suppose Gilbert and George are one (two) of the UK's favourite, yet seldom mentioned, artists.

They came to prominence whilst still students with their singing of 'underneath the arches'; stood on a table with their faces painted in metallic paint. 

One rarely hears their names in everyday conversation, but they are always up there amongst the UK's best contemporary artists. Their work is bold, eye-catching, and designed to appeal to 'the masses'. They describe their work as being 'anti-elitist', and they believe in 'Art for All'; although I doubt if the 'all' could afford much of it.

Their images are large and strong. Much of it is autobiographical (as above).

They have lived in the same Spitalfields house, worn the same drab suits, and paid homage to their beloved East End, ever since they met as students. They are consistent if nothing else.

If you don't know their work, do have a look on Google Images. I do see it as 'Art for All'; it is non-confrontational, easy on the eye, and very pleasantly 'in your face'.

I have always been a very big fan!


Thursday 30 May 2024

Careers advice.

How do you get a job with the Met Office?

Well, you obviously don't need any sort of traditional qualifications. What you will need is to own two things; a long piece of Seaweed, and a window (possibly with a view onto a field of Cows). 

As all amateur students of Meteorology are aware, the piece of Seaweed is a foolproof weather predictor. If it's dry, the Seaweed will be dry, and if it's wet, it's either raining or it has just been.

The window is for looking outside. Not only will it tell the amateur Boffin if it's night or day, it will also tell him/her quite a bit about the current weather. And if you should see some Cows lying down, it could mean that they're tired.

Yesterday my Brighton forecast told me that we would have torrential rain all week. Now it tells me that the sun will shine for ever more. I have no idea who composes the online weather predictions, but I'm seriously wondering if he/she shouldn't invest in a new piece of Seaweed.

It's OK if you live in Manchester, Glasgow, or Auchtermuchty, where you can confidently set your weather forecast permanently to RAIN, but elsewhere on these islands things are not so certain.

As in Italy where Traffic Lights are regarded as simply a 'Suggestion', in the UK I think that the Met Office should warn readers that their forecasts are 'For Entertainment Only'.

How do they always seem to get things so terribly WRONG.

Wednesday 29 May 2024

Who owns what?


One of the few pickles I regularly buy is 'Branston', which is an excellent product.

However, I now see that the company is to be sold to an Italian conglomerate called 'Newlat Food', who are willing to pay £700 Million for the pleasure.

But this huge sum is not being paid to a UK Co, but to Mitsubishi Corp who currently own the Co that was always known as 'Princes Group'.

Does it make any difference who owns a Co? I suppose as long as the product remains the same it doesn't matter too much, but I do like to think of a traditional British Co keeping, and re-investing, their profits in the UK.

So, other than Branston Pickle; Newlat Food now own Flora Margarine, Napolina canned Tomatoes, and Batchelors Soups; to name only a few.

I also see that our dearly beloved Post Office is to be bought by some Czech businessman called Daniel Kretinsky. Good luck to him!

And, imagine my shock when I heard that MG cars are actually CHINESE. Even KitKats aren't British anymore.

It's a sign of the times that most British Co's now seem to be owned by foreign conglomerates. Even our dear old 'National Treasure' Rolls Royce, and our much loved Minis, are both owned by German car-maker BMW.

Where will it end!

Tuesday 28 May 2024

Holiday fun!


Two of the things that most of us look forward to on holiday are absorbing beach sunshine, and eating out.

Lying around, doing nothing in the sunshine is simply a question of choosing the right destination. Finding somewhere nice to eat out in the evenings is another matter altogether.

Good restaurants are becoming rarer by the day. In tourist destinations they are almost non-existent. The restaurant business has totally changed over the past few years, and most of what you are now offered is delivered to the kitchens in chilled 'bags', or frozen. You would be amazed by how many dishes are now dropped into a 'Hot Water Bath' for 10 minutes, or re-heated in a microwave, and presented as home made. Most of which is on offer these days is designed for the quick tourist trade.

The area where I live in France was always regarded as one of the great gastronomic areas of the world, and we ate like kings for very little during our first few decades living there. Superb restaurants were everywhere. However, over the past two decades things have totally changed.

These days our only nearby traditional 'Perigordian' restaurant is a Farm Restaurant (Ferme Auberge) situated about 4 kms away. It is unreachable other than by car.

The dish above, Confit de Canard, is a classic of the area, and theirs (above) is home produced, and correctly cooked and presented. Sadly, a dish that used to be found everywhere is now almost exclusively found here at this Ferme Auberge. ('easy cook' versions are still found elsewhere). From the garden you can see their ducks in a distant field.

La Serpt is a working farm, with a very poorly decorated interior dining room, and a lovely outdoor garden; where we always eat. Below is a picture of the actual farmhouse.

I'm very much looking forward to visiting in a short while.

The full five course menu, with wine, costs about 25 Euros. If you're in the area and looking for a pukka regional restaurant, try La Serpt in Frayssinet le Gelat 46. Just say "Cro sent you".

Monday 27 May 2024

Dog Show (2nd attempt).

So, after the original Dog Show was rained-off a few weeks ago, yesterday we had another go. The weather was perfect.

Billy entered the 'Best Boy' category, but didn't win anything. So, from then-on he just watched from the sidelines as many of his chums received prizes for looking silly or wearing comical outfits. 

Below is me in the judging ring, trying to get Billy to behave himself. I don't think he's been so well stroked by so many children in all his life. Children seem naturally attracted to him.

The Lady behind me is a friend and neighbour (Gaynor), with her one-eyed dog (Byron) who won a prize under the 'rescue dog' category. It was all good fun and everyone knew everyone, and all the dogs knew each other too.

A lovely Sunday afternoon in the sunshine.

p.s. Yes I know; I'm a bit overweight!

Saturday 25 May 2024


The Compact Royce Mk 2 (Debi) was at the doctors for a check-up yesterday. She also needed a certificate to prove that she was in fine fettle.

I had no doubts about her well-being, and I was correct in my assumptions. She didn't require any medicines, transfusions, or transplants, and the senior Nurse awarded her a First Class Health Certificate. Amazingly, there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with her. She's now fit to hit the road for another year without fear of anything falling off or breaking; although there is never a guarantee. 

Debi is no Spring Chicken, but she has always been a home-loving gal, and has only travelled just over 30,000 miles. There's plenty of life in her yet.

She doesn't travel far. In the UK to Sainsbury's and back twice a week, and in France to Leclerc twice a week. She enjoys her trips, but is happy to stay at home for the rest of the week, tucked-up in her cosy garage.

I like the old gal. She answers all my requests, and occasionally goes beyond expectations. She's more of a Roger Bannister than a Usain Bolt, but she can hold her own amongst most other four-wheeled athletes; she is also reasonably cheap to run. She is sporty without being boastful, and she is pleasing on the eye. What more could a chap want?

I don't like to reveal a lady's age but Debi was born in 2012, making her a sprightly 12 years old. You really wouldn't know!

Full Service and MOT: £255. Worth every penny!


Friday 24 May 2024

Mums cakes are best.

The cake of our early years remains the cake by which all others are judged.

If my mother decided to make a cake, we insisted it was a Chocolate Cake. It always seemed as if then, just a few minutes later, there it was ready to eat. She was a magician who could produce such things out of a hat, with no fuss or mess; and it was always perfect.

But then came the best bit; the icing. I made it my job to decorate the top. Mother would 'plaster' the top with the Chocolate icing, and my job was to decorate.

It was always the same. With the back of a fork I would draw wavy lines across the icing in as perfect a pattern as possible. I possibly expended more concentration on those wavy lines than on anything else.

I haven't decorated a cake for decades, but if I did it would be exactly the same. As you can no doubt see, the one above was not decorated by me; no wavy lines!


Thursday 23 May 2024

The perfect garden.

It's Chelsea Flower Show time again, and it got me thinking about my perfect garden.

My perfect garden would be entered through an arch just like the one below.

The interior would be about an acre and walled with ancient Elizabethan brick, with four equal sections for different types of growing. There would be a flower garden, a top fruit garden, a soft fruit garden, and of course a vegetable garden. 'Old Mr Don' would make sure that everything was perfectly tended; ready for me to tinker and claim all the hard work was mine alone.

Against the walls would be espaliered Apple and Pear trees. In the orchard there would be more Apples, Pears, Plums, Peaches, and Figs. And in the veg garden there would be all those wonderful things that I used to grow at Haddock's. The soft fruits would include Gooseberries, Raspberries, Blackcurrants, and Rhubarb. Nothing would be left to chance.

At the central point, around an ancient bird bath, would be my herb garden. Not filled with exotic herbs that would never be used, but with Rosemary, Chives, Horseradish, Parsley, Oregano, French Tarragon, and Basil. 

I want my garden to be practical, with a large compost heap, a greenhouse, and a circular thatched pergola. It would have plumbed water and the occasional power outlet. 

The garden would, of course, be an area not only for relaxation, but also for entertaining. An outdoor kitchen by the Pergola would contain both a BBQ and a Pizza oven.

I would probably spend most of my time there, drinking Tea with Old Mr Don, and grilling meats in the evenings. And guess what; you would be most welcome to join me!


Wednesday 22 May 2024


Down in Provence, there is a lovely pottery in the town of Biot, run by the Augé-Laribé family.

I have been buying their dark green glazed pots and plates for about 45 years, and have quite a collection. I even commissioned them to make 12 dinner plates for me (below).


There is something immensely satisfying about eating from, and having food served on, these beautiful rustic dark green glazed plates, etc.

Had my collection of Biot ware been stolen during our recent burglary, I would have been extremely upset. Luckily, like burglars everywhere, they probably wouldn't have known what they were, and ignored them.

Here in the UK, we are all white. In France we are mostly green.

Tuesday 21 May 2024


Possibly my most useful gastronomic instruction that I received in France, was that of the preparation of Couscous, and its use in Taboulé.

Down in the South West of France, Taboulé is probably the most common accompaniment to outdoor BBQ eating. Plenty of Chicken, Pork, Lamb, and Merguez (spicy sausages) on the BBQ, accompanied by Taboulé and a simple salad; and I'm in heaven.

So, just in case it's new to you; this is how it's made.

First prepare your Couscous. Then, when cooled and fluffed, add a chopped Red Onion, a chopped Tomato, and a good handful of chopped fresh Mint. Add the juice of a Lemon, a splash of Olive Oil, and some salt. Mix together, put in Fridge until required.

Everyone loves it. It's simple and quick to make, and it accompanies all grilled meat perfectly. Just sprinkle plenty of ground Cumin on the meat before serving.

I can remember the very moment when I first tasted Taboulé, and at once I asked the lady of the house how it was made. We were at a lovely old, and very cluttered, Chateau to celebrate the upcoming wedding of a good friend, and I felt as if I'd just made a very important discovery (which I had).

We've never looked back, and on Sunday evening we ate the above with some English 'Chorizo Style Sausages' from Sainsbury's. A little Harissa added to the delight.

Minimum effort; maximum pleasure!


Monday 20 May 2024

Our next MP?

Here in the constituency of Brighton Pavilion, we've had the same MP since 2010; the fragrant Caroline Lucas; the sole (and possibly final) Green Party MP. She's hanging up her wellies at the next election, and all the new bunch of prospective replacement candidates are now vying for our support.

I have just received stuff (below) from the Labour candidate (above), Tom Gray, who I quite expect will be elected. Tom was the guitarist and singer with the band 'Gomez'. 

One way of ingratiating yourself with the voting public is by flattering them, which he does very well; although the lots of money bit must have passed me by.

He describes himself as coming from 'a working class Catholic family from Salford, with a mother whose grandparents were German Jew Holocaust survivors'. A good old mix.

Will he be any good as our next MP? Well that remains to be seen. He is enthusiastic, and will no doubt make lots of promises that he can't, or won't, keep; but they all do that anyway. I don't think the new replacement Green Party girl stands a chance, but we'll see!

As I said above, I'm expecting Tom Gray to be elected.

N.B. Eddie Izzard wanted to be nominated for Brighton Pavilion, but wisely the Labour Party turned him down. Thank goodness!


Sunday 19 May 2024

Casanova ; A Sunday Special.

This little charmer should make you chuckle; the cheeky monkey!

Saturday 18 May 2024

Sparra' grass

It's Asparagus season, and we're making the most of it.

Really good locally grown Asparagus is in the shops at about £1.90 (Sainsbury's) to £2 (M & S) per 250 gm pack. Two packs are plenty for two people, and it's gorgeous.

I make no excuse that we tend to gorge ourselves on Asparagus when it's in season. We eat it almost every day.

About 5 minutes cooking time and a healthy squirt of good Mayo, and you have a meal fit for any King.

The season doesn't last long, so let's all enjoy ourselves whilst we can.

I can't think of anything else that makes such a good simple lunch in the merry month of May. 

Bon Appetit.

Being taught how to walk.


When I was still at school, I was sent on a Junior Officer Training Course. I think it was at Catterick, but it could have been anywhere. A coach picked us up, and dropped us off; we didn't really know where we were.

It was a short course, maybe just 4 days; I don't remember.

Much of the course involved military matters, and I will never forget being told that Line one, of Chapter one, of the 'How to win Wars' book was 'Know your enemy, go in strong, go in hard'. I still often bore people with that phrase.

However, the other thing that often comes to mind was a lecture on how to be officer-ish in front of one's men. Apparently this didn't come naturally to some, so they needed to be taught.

An officer needs to command respect from his men, even if they don't agree with him. He should walk with a straight back at all times, look ahead, and adopt an aura of authority. At the same time he should never try to be 'superior'. His men should look up to him as a person worthy of respect. 

One example we were given of the 'stiff back' approach, was when walking, and facing another approaching walker, never look away; keep your eyes focused directly ahead. It the person approaching defers his vision sideways or downwards it is a sign of submission/weakness. Whether this is true or not; I don't know.

I often think of this as I walk with Billy. The way people walk says a lot about them; especially men. I observe and wonder what impression they are trying to give; if any. I even wonder if they have given any thought to what impression their style of walk gives to others.

It's strange how certain things can stay with you throughout your life, even things as inconsequential as being taught 'how to walk'.

So, if you see an Army Officer walking straight-backed, and looking directly ahead, he probably went on the same course as me!

Friday 17 May 2024

Have we gone mad?

This woman being arrested below is 39 year old Lora Johnson. She was being arrested having been caught spraying orange paint over the revolving sign at Scotland Yard; the epicenter of British policing. This took place on October 14th 2022.

Ms Johnson has recently appeared at Southwark Crown Court where she was found NOT GUILTY of Criminal Damage.

What more proof does the judiciary require than having being caught red (orange) handed?

This woman was guilty, we all know she was guilty, and I wouldn't even be surprised if she herself had said she was guilty.

But, here we are in 21st C Britain, where such people are found 'not guilty', and we the taxpayers are left to pick-up the bill for her crimes. 

She must be laughing her head off. Have we gone totally crazy?


Thursday 16 May 2024

I think the time has come.

Ever since Victorian times young women have slowly but surely reduced the amount of clothes they wear in public. One presumes they like to be seen as 'desirable' more than anything else. It used to be called 'Women's Liberation'; and they're beginning to burn their bras in no uncertain terms.

So, now that we've come so far, why not go the whole hog, and give our young women the freedom they are ever edging towards; to walk around totally naked. They're very nearly there anyway, and it's becoming fashionable! (see below)

There are two main advantages to this idea. The first is that, if they're all stark naked, female public nudity will no longer be of any interest to the cheap press; and we'll no longer have headlines such as 'X or Y showing her ample assets', etc. I can't think of the second advantage.

So, come on girls. Throw your caution to the winds, and your bras and panties on the fire. You know you want to!


Wednesday 15 May 2024

Beware when driving in France.


When I mentioned this about a year ago, people were saying that I must be mistaken, and that I'd got the wrong end of the stick.

Well, I'll mention it again. When driving in France you will need a Crit'Air sticker on your windscreen. It doesn't cost much (£3), and it could save you a 180 Euro fine (£155). You'll find all the details online. Saying you didn't know about it is no excuse; you'll be fined!

You send the details of your car, and they send back a sticker outlining the rating of your car's pollution, which you show front/right of your windscreen (mine, above, is No 1; the least polluting). The whole process takes about 10 days, so do it now (and save your £'s).

The new rules apply to Petrol/Diesel cars only, and not Electric.

Billy's Balls.

Billy has a huge selection of balls, there are over 20 in this old cauldron by our front door.

In the park where we go for our walks, there are always a few lost balls that Billy manages to find and bring home. They are usually black and stinking, so I give them a good wash, then put them with all the others.

Someone somewhere must be buying a lot of Tennis balls on a regular basis, and replacing them as soon as they are lost.

One day (nearer Christmas) I will put them all in a box and take them back to the park.


Tuesday 14 May 2024

The advent of Summer.

This last weekend was the first of the year where everyone (not me) was out in shorts and T shirts. Daytime temperatures went as high as 25 C, and the beach area was overflowing.

Kimbo brushed-down his BBQ, bought a few slabs of meat, and nearly set fire to his terrace.

We ate Gressingham Duck breasts, sausage from a local farm, grilled vegs, and a little salad. All was delicious. The sun shone, it was warm until early evening, and it really did feel like Summer.

One of the things I've been really looking forward to is eating outdoors again. In France I've converted our Fire Pit into a large BBQ, and it can now cope with far more than my previous set-up. It will be well used.

I was recently watching one of Rick Steins 'Escapes' in Morocco and Turkey, and it really made me want to be out there; leaning over the BBQ, and cooking how I love to cook. The aroma of the combination of grilled meat and ground Cumin is enough to have me swooning. Men aren't always keen to be standing over a kitchen stove, but give them a BBQ and they're in heaven.

So, thank you Kimbo and Susie.... a really lovely evening.


Monday 13 May 2024

Olly Alexander - Dizzy (LIVE) N.B. Contains sexual inuendo.

Those outside of Europe may not be aware of the big annual TV music competition called 'The European Song Contest'. The (supposedly) best of each country's singers and song-writers compete, country by country, to be voted winner of this once prestigious bash.

The competition took place this last weekend, and below is England's entry. I shall not give my opinion of the song, other than to say that it looked as if it was filmed in a men's public lavatory.

I can remember watching the programme many years ago when the likes of ABBA and Sandy Shaw sang pleasant songs to pleasant tunes. Those days have gone, my friend.

Now the singing has become shouting, the tunes have become non-existent, and the surrounding flashing lights and atmospherics have become (seemingly) more important than the song.

On Saturday evening I tried to watch some of it, but boredom soon overcame me. There is only so much tripe that one can suffer at any one time. The following morning I learned that Switzerland had won (and the singer instantly broke his trophy), and that dear Olly Alexander (above) received Nil Points from the voting public.

Other than the actual contest, there were, of course, the usual accompanying protests. Professional teenager Greta Thunberg was arrested over something silly, there was some nasty pro-Hamas boo-ing at the Israeli contestant, and the Dutch singer was expelled from the show after some shenanigans with a young production lady back stage. Just what we've come to expect.

There is no question that the show is now totally out of control. It has become political, often semi-pornographic, and doesn't represent anywhere near the best of European music. I think it's had its day, and should be scrapped.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Remains of the Day

At a recent jumble book stall, Lady M bought a few books one of which was Ishiguro's 'The Remains of the Day'.

The book was made into a film in 1993 by the wonderful Merchant/Ivory combo. Anthony Hopkins played the main role (Stevens).

Stevens is a butler, and the book concerns his adventures, his relationship with both the previous and the new owner of the grand stately home where he works, and especially his role as butler. It also concerns an important international meeting which his previous employer was hosting. He is meticulous about his work to the extent of mania. He is self-obsessed, and has devoted his life to perfecting his skills; following in his father's footsteps. He isn't a particularly pleasant character.

He refers to the importance of 'speaking with a good accent and honing one's command of language', as well as good general knowledge on all subjects including 'falconing and newt-mating'. Obviously a butler of the highest standards.

I've not seen the film version, although I'm sure I've seen tiny clips from it.

I'm enjoying the book, which I have a feeling I might have read previously. Maybe not everyone's cup of tea, but to me it certainly deserved its Booker Prize for the writing, if not the actual content.

Cro's verdict: A book that keeps your interest. 8/10


Saturday 11 May 2024

Ye olde clocke

This clock doesn't actually belong to me, I am simply its custodian. When I am no longer around it will be passed-on to my oldest son, and in turn to his oldest.

I believe it was made for my family in 1735, and, amazingly for a clock, it has remained in the family ever since. It was handed to me back in the mid 80's by an Aunt in London. It works well, but needs to be 'wound' daily. The 'winding' is done by carefully lifting a large and heavy lead weight.

The mechanism is of reasonable quality, but the wooden case is really very simple. It is made from cheap pine, and roughly painted/stained to resemble a more expensive timber. It has had just one 'service' since it's been in my hands. There is some illegible pencil writing inside.

I do like the old thing. It has quite a loud tick, which accompanied all my ancestors, just as it does now with me. As I wind it each morning I think of all those who performed the exact same action for all those years.


Friday 10 May 2024

The Sun has got his hat on, hip hip hip hooray!

OK, we all knew this, but for those few conspiracy theorists in 'Pudding country' or Auchtermuchty, here is the proof. Yes, Brighton really is the sunniest place in the UK with an average of 5 hours sunshine per day.

We all like to think we live in the best place on earth, and that we all have a super-micro-climate, but in fact there's only one place that really does. Need I say more!

I had always thought that somewhere in Norfolk had the most sunshine, even though 'Sunny Worthing' has always claimed the title. Maybe not everywhere has a machine accurate enough to detect the amount of sunshine they receive. Little Dribbling by the Sea may have more than Brighton, but possibly there's been no-one around to measure.

There's also the question of Sun 'quality'. Are they measuring full-on, blue-sky, skin-burning sunshine, or are they including misty, filtered, cold Loch Ness evening twilight sun as well?

As a nation, we do like sunshine. To make sure we have enough of it we rush off en masse to awful places like Benidorm or Torremolinos where they have it by the bucket-full.

I think I'll stay in France/Brighton.


Thursday 9 May 2024


I must admit that if bacon was suddenly to disappear, I would probably cry myself to sleep every night for a whole year.

Occasionally I do buy nice neat rashers of 'back bacon', but more often I buy large packs of 'offcuts' from Sainsbury's that cost £1 for a large bag. The bacon is exactly the same, but the presentation isn't.

I can't think of any other product that is sold in the same way. They did try selling wonky vegetables for a while, but that soon faded. I don't mind if my bacon looks a bit scruffy (below).

I'm all for buying misshapen vegs. Back in France my neighbour grew Asparagus (he doesn't now), and we would buy large bundles of wonderful green spears that weren't quite straight enough for his merchant. We would eat like Kings for almost nothing. I wish he still grew it.

There was also a time when we bought odd shaped Gherkins (cornichons) from another neighbour, but then I started growing them myself, saving the wonky ones for making our own conserves.

What I really want to see are wonky half-price joints of Beef, wonky red wine, and wonky Gorgonzola. Some hope!


Wednesday 8 May 2024

Another problem; as if we haven't enough!

I'm really not all that interested in British politics at the moment. We've had the same government for the past 14 years, and people are simply bored and want a change; and frankly, they don't mind who they get in exchange. They'd vote for a Monkey as long as it wasn't a Tory.

Personally I'm quite middle-of-the-road. There are things I like from all political parties, and things I don't. I have yet to find a party that I feel 100% happy with. Back in the 50's my father was head-hunted by Geoffrey Johnson-Smith to stand as a Conservative MP. Father refused, saying he would only stand as an Independent Conservative, as there were many Tory policies he didn't agree with. Johnson-Smith wasn't happy, and they had a bit of a barney. I admired my father for his stance. No more was ever spoken about it.

One thing I'm certainly not happy with is the new UK trend for 'Sectarian Politics'. In the recent local elections, candidates have openly canvassed about their support for Hamas, with dozens being elected in Muslim areas as a result. 

International politics are not the business of local Town Halls, it is the business of Parliament. If council debates concerning foreign conflicts are to become a regular feature of local politics, then we are in big trouble.

This is the first time that shouts of "Allahu Akbar" have been heard coming from newly elected councilors. And with so many other recently imported traditions, it is likely to become a regular occurrence. I'm wondering how this will develop into the upcoming General Election. The Muslim population are very anti Socialist, and we could see some strange results.

This might sound old-fashioned, but people should be electing their councilors (and MP's) to look after local matters of concern; not for who they support in a distant conflict. Sadly, as we all now know, certain communities are told who to vote for at their weekly gatherings; and they do as they're told.

Since the elections, the pro-Hamas group 'Muslim Vote' has given Sir Keir Starmer a list of 18 demands that he must fulfill if he is to have their support. They're acting like a radical Trade Union gone religious.

You can find the silly 18 point list online; it's not worthy of being repeated here.

Tuesday 7 May 2024

One man and his dog.

He's not the most affectionate dog, but he has his moments. He has an afternoon ritual of jumping on my stomach when I'm trying to watch the One-O-Clock news; growling and biting my hands. If you didn't know he was playing you'd think I was being mauled to death.

He hasn't put his arms on my shoulders from behind (as in photo) for several years; I used to like that.

Billy has several daily rituals. They begin with helping me with my socks and shoes before we go for our early morning walk. I always play along, and it has now become a very special time between the two of us. Next, and more annoyingly, he barks every time I leave the sitting room. He rushes to the door and becomes quite irate. Nothing we do will stop him.

He loves our guests, but he also hates them leaving. He barks and barks when people leave the house. I cannot imagine what's going on in that little head of his. Maybe he thinks he's being abandoned.

One of his best qualities is that he makes people smile. I think it's because he's a Border Collie, and people see him as amusing. You would hardly believe how many people stop to stroke him on a daily basis. He loves the attention. 

It was supposed to be our local church 'Dog Show' yesterday, but in the morning it rained so it was cancelled. However, the indoor cake stalls, bric-a-brac stalls, and plant stalls still took place, and attracted both humans and dogs. Lady M bought a few books whilst a local children's brass band entertained us.

Billy was very disappointed not to have taken part in The Egg and Spoon Race.

Monday 6 May 2024

I do!

This weekend saw the Wedding of the Year (so far). A £20 Million bash in the south of France for British businessman Umar Kamani, and his lovely bride, model Nada Adelle.

I must admit that, apart from some of the guests, it looked a very classy event. Both bride and groom were beautifully dressed in the traditional Indian attire of their family origins, and the location and setting were both perfect.

However, such things come at a price; in this case £20 Million, which does seem an awful lot of money for a wedding.

When I was married myself, in god's own outpost of Gibraltar, it didn't cost even a fraction of that. In fact it cost the price of the 'licence'. 

We didn't have a famous singer to perform, or hundreds of B-list tattooed celebs, but we did have the same Mediterranean sunshine and a very nice hotel. I didn't have the resources of Kamani, but even if I had, I wouldn't have spent as much as they did on a wedding.

I must say, they do look like a very nice couple, and I wish them a long and happy marriage.


Sunday 5 May 2024


I came across this photo recently in a newspaper article about 'best places to live in the UK'. I didn't bother to read the article.

I was instantly re-enthralled by the beauty and size of this magnificent cathedral; what you see in the photo is about half of it. It's HUGE.

The cathedral is in the city of Ely in the UK's very flat region of East Anglia; that round bit that sticks out on the right hand side as you look at the map of England. When you approach Ely, from whatever direction, the cathedral stands out like a sore thumb, and can be seen from miles away; even more so than France's Chartres.

I was fortunate to spend four years living in the shadow of the cathedral, and visited it every day. It became an all-enveloping leviathan that made one feel both comfortable and safe. It was the mother-ship, the guardian angel, the everlasting monolith. I must say that it invigorated me on a daily basis.

These days when I look at pictures of the cathedral, I see it in a very different light. As someone who worked for a short while cutting stone, I now see it as one enormous medieval building site, with hundreds of stonemasons chiseling away at lumps of stone, one by one, for decades. A jigsaw puzzle of the most complicated type, that required enormous skill, strength, and (I imagine) a lot of patience. It took about 300 years to build; and every single stone had to be perfect!  

Such cathedrals, or any other giant structures, will never be built again. If you're lucky such buildings could be made of brick, such as at Guildford, or Albi in France; or more likely from poured concrete as in London's Barbican. Cutting stones in such vast quantities is no longer viable.

The cathedral was built between 1083 and 1375. Actual building began over three hundred years AFTER the adjacent monastic school was founded in 672.

If you're in the area do pay a visit, you won't be disappointed. Just say Cro sent you!

Saturday 4 May 2024

Man who fly-tipped 20 tonnes of waste in Newham jailed for 8 months

In my continuing quest to became 'Good Egg of the Year', yesterday morning on my Billy walk, I picked-up a plastic bottle, three beer cans, and an assortment of packaging from burgers, sweets, etc. The result of sloppy uneducated behaviour, but something I was able to cope with without ruffling any feathers.

Littering comes in all shapes and sizes; some far worse than others.

What on earth this guy in the video thought he was doing, I just don't know. Surely he knew that dumping a whole 20 Tonne truckload of hardcore onto a public road was neither wise nor legal.

I see he received 8 months in prison. Personally I'd have made that two years, crushed his truck, and made him pay for the clearing up. I might also have made him work as a street-sweeper for 6 months; unpaid.

Friday 3 May 2024

Damn and Blast.


Ask any UK motorist what his/her greatest concerns are, and he/she will more than likely reply "Potholes".

A few days ago I backed The Compact Royce Mk 2 out from my garage, pointed her towards the road, and heard the most horrible metallic 'clanking' noise from the back right hand side. It didn't seem to affect the car's ability to drive, so I continued my trip amongst dreadful noises, then called my garage man on my return.

A week or so previously I had inadvertently hit a very deep pothole not 50 yards from home, and the shock went right through the car. I now know what had happened.

The rear right hand side coil spring had snapped in two, and my man recommended that he change both left and right at the same time; which he did.

I notice that the pothole has since been filled-in, so there must have been a lot of complaints. The evidence has gone.

British roads are a disgrace. Not only are they thoroughly overcrowded but potholes are everywhere. When driving one doesn't only need to be wary of other cars and pedestrians, one also has to look out for huge regular potholes as well.

The one I drove over cost me 300 smackers! Thank you Brighton Council.

p.s. No, I shan't be asking for compensation; they wouldn't pay!

Thursday 2 May 2024

This modern world

Our next door neighbour has been having some leaks through his roof recently, and his roofers suggested that it was coming from our side. They said the water was travelling sideways about 3 ft. Frankly it didn't sound too plausible to me!

So, after his concerns, we got our own roofer to come and have a look. He went up into next door's loft, into our loft, then reached for his trusty DRONE (below mid-picture).

Up it went behind our houses, and over next door's roof, sounding like a swarm of Bees. The Seagulls didn't like it, and tried to frighten it off. 

Luckily our man was able to see exactly what was wrong, and he was able to show our neighbour photos of where the problem was. It's a relief to know that his problem is nothing to do with us.

It's amazing that they now use a drone to discover such things. Ain't modern life wonderful.


Wednesday 1 May 2024

Good reasons for 'stop and search'

It goes without saying that those who are anti-Police, and therefore anti 'stop and search', are those who have the most to lose. Personally I would have nothing against being 'stopped and searched', as I have nothing to feel guilty about.

This young man, Hamza Haddadi (in the video), is a classic example. A simple search on one of London's tube stations, during which he tried to escape, revealed a huge machete beneath his coat, as well as a smaller switchblade knife in his pocket.

In parts of London, and elsewhere, this is not uncommon. Certain communities seem to have different values to the rest of us. Street fights are everyday occurrences, and immigrant gangs prowl around with impunity; armed to the teeth. I quite expect this chap got a good ticking-off, but not a lot more.

One doesn't like to tar them all with the same brush, but I prefer to tell the truth rather than hide behind trendy platitudes. Cultural integration isn't all it's cracked-up to be. 

People might say that this was an isolated incident, but sadly that isn't the case. It happens daily.

Some may remember that I spoke of a young man who was knifed to death back on Oct 5th last year, about 100 yards from our house here in Brighton. 

It has since been revealed that the victim teenager, 17 year old Mustafa Momand, owed £20,000 to his drug dealer, and paid the price. Stories circulated at the time that he was a totally innocent 'bystander'; in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we all knew better. Such stabbings usually involve gang-related drug dealing and owed money, and tend to remain within their own community. But it's shocking to know that so many of these people walk around fully armed. 

MM also had previous charges against him of drug crimes, and of carrying weapons himself; so he was no stranger to the world of crime. Sadly he paid the ultimate price, as so many do.

'Stop and Search' is essential. Don't listen to the woke brigade who will try to tell you that it's 'against their human rights'. It's actually pro the human rights of the rest of us!

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