Sunday 30 June 2024

Please Play by the Rules.


Sir Kier Starmer (leader of UK's Socialists, and probably our next PM) seems to be guilty of hypocrisy.

Having recently talked of sending illegal immigrants back to Bangladesh, he seems to have forgotten his disgraceful involvement with a 2022 flight to Jamaica, which was sending 50 deported ex-prisoners back to their native country.

All 50 Jamaicans had served prison sentences, and all understood that they were later to be deported.

However, Sir Keir along with a rag-bag of do-gooders and minor celebs went to court and had their deportations overturned. They were then free to stay in the UK. Starmer also suggested that all the offenders received state-funded Mobile Phones to make their lives in the UK easier.

One went on to commit a second murder, along with his son (thank you Starmer). Others simply returned to their normal criminal activities of drug-dealing, burglary, etc. Sir Keir had insisted that these criminals remain in the UK, with all the consequences that that involved. No doubt he considered it their 'Human Right'.

I really don't mind who wins the upcoming election as long as they play with a straight bat, and have some consistency. We need some common sense policies when dealing with situations that involve foreign criminals, and safety on our streets. We can't have our leaders saying, one minute, that criminals should be returned to Bangladesh, but not to Jamaica. If Starmer & Co get it right, then they'll have my support, but as things are looking I don't see that happening.

If criminals have deportation attached to their prison sentence, then that's how it should be. The courts have decided; Full Stop! There should be no 'lovie' interference.

The Labour Party have constantly voted against all attempts to control illegal immigration. They really must make up their minds. This is a MAJOR issue, and I hear that the queues at Calais are growing ever bigger, awaiting Starmer's installation at No 10.

It must be said that the Tory's record on immigration has been anything but perfect, but at least they were consistent.

Man tries to rob nail salon but gets ignored.

If only all robberies were like this one!

Saturday 29 June 2024

Cricket Ball.

I keep this old Cricket Ball in my sitting room. It lives on the Coffee table in front of my sofa.

Every so often I pick it up, roll it around my fingers, and enjoy the feel of its well-worn leather. It has a wonderful feel to it.

It reminds me of just about everything that is good about England. It reminds me of my youth, of my native Surrey village, about Kimbo who still plays Cricket regularly, and it also reminds me of what we in England call 'Fair Play'.

Those who were brought-up playing Cricket possibly have a different outlook on life compared to those who weren't. It teaches patience, skill, and most importantly that 'the umpire's decision is final'. A quick comparison between a Cricket audience and a Football audience makes that quite clear.

Cricket originates from the game of Stoolball (which is still played in parts of Sussex). Stickball soon followed, then the 'stick' became broader, and Cricket was born. Stickball and Rounders later became Baseball; the first ever mention of which can be found in Jane Austin's 1818 novel 'Northanger Abbey'.

I was never a good Cricketer. I was a 'feared' fast bowler, but my batting skills were sorely lacking. Above shows a game at my alma mater, and even looking at the photograph brings back wonderful memories. It was always the one moment of the Trinity term when one could totally relax (if one wasn't actually playing).

I don't know when my old ball was last used in anger, but it must have been at least 30 years ago. Every so often I wax it, and give it a good shine. The ball itself weighs nearly 6 Oz, and has a beautiful, almost antique, colour; not unlike an old leather sofa at Boodles (I imagine).

It's my English version of 'worry beads'.

Friday 28 June 2024

Veggie week.

I rather enjoy eating 'veggie', as long as it satisfies all my needs. It must be tasty, reasonably filling, and (most importantly) not leave me desperate for some meat.

Our amusingly entitled dish 'Compost Fry-up' does all of the above. I always make it with the following vegs. Aubergine, Courgette, Potato, Green Beans, and Red Pepper. The Potatoes, Courgettes, and Beans are all cooked previously, but all the rest fried 'live', with the rest added later. I fry in Garlic Butter and Olive Oil, and right at the end I add a good teaspoon of Cumin Powder and S & P. You need a BIG frying pan. I suppose this must be our favourite veggie dish.

One of my other favourites from this week is Pizza. A simple recipe that uses a shop bought roll of fresh Pizza dough, with firstly some green Pesto, then sliced Tomatoes, plenty of Mozzarella, Anchovies, Olives, and a good splash of good Olive Oil. S & P. Basic fare, but Pizza as it should be (no pineapple chunks).

We have also eaten a favourite Spaghetti dish with garlic, tomato, and Capers. And we shall finish the week with a very simple Rice and Dhal with curried Aubergine chunks.

In between there have been stuffed baked Potatoes, and stuffed red Peppers with Brandade. And so as not to feel like aliens, we have also treated ourselves to some delicious extra large Fish Fingers.

If I was ever to start a Veggie Restaurant, it would have to be called 'The Compost Café', and the only thing on the menu would be my Compost Fry-up. I just know I would be over-run with customers!!!


Thursday 27 June 2024

A Cottage

When I first bought this little cottage my intentions were to tidy it up, put in a rudimentary kitchen, and live totally off-grid.

Water would come from the roof to fill a large buried tank. The kitchen would have an old fashioned water pump, and a wood fired cooker (and maybe a two ring camping gas burner), and night-time light would be provided by candles and oil lamps. There would have been a luxurious outdoor compost loo.

The cottage does still have something of the rustic charm that I'd originally envisaged, but we do now have electricity, running water, and an indoor loo. The huge open fire has been replaced by a Godin wood burner.

We also have vast amounts of clutter, and since the barn has been sold, we now have twice the amount.

Regardless of our regular visits to the municipal tip, with the car over-loaded, it doesn't seem to make any difference to the amount of STUFF we have accumulated.

Anyway, I do like the little house, even with all its problems. It always has a contented feeling. The house has a wonderful atmosphere, as if happy people have always lived here.

As far as I can ascertain, the cottage was built in the early 1700's. The much loved Louis XV (1710-1774) came to the French throne aged just 5, so the very first inhabitants would have lived here not only when he was crowned King, but probably a pre-pubescent one too.

I don't know of another house in the village that commands such a perfect position. We overlook perfectly tranquil countryside, and as we're at the end of a tiny lane, we have no passers-by, other than the occasional walker. Peace personified.

Wednesday 26 June 2024

Gateau Breton

Should you be travelling through France, and happen to wander into a Leclerc supermarket, look out for this 'Gateau Breton'.

It was a huge pleasure, recently, to discover that this 'speciality' is still around, and in exactly the same format as I remember it from decades ago. It is a little known pie/tart/cake with a prune filling called a Gateau Breton. Totally delicious. Perfect for a riverside picnic with either a cup of Tea, or even some Pink Champagne.

On the other hand, I have always thought that it would be the perfect cake/tart for Christmas, and not as filling as some of the more traditional fare. Maybe someone would care to import it into the UK in late December?

Whatever the occasion it's delicious. Do not deprive yourself.


Tuesday 25 June 2024


The Chestnuts are in flower (above), and that means that the local beekeepers bring in their hives.

We have plantations all around us, but one, about 150 metres away, now has a dozen hives amongst its ancient trees. This is an annual occurrence.

I'm very Bee-friendly, but they CAN be a nuisance. The beekeepers supply no water for the Bees, and as our pool is the nearest large supply of water, they head for chez Cro by the thousand.

I try to ignore them. I'm sure they mean me no harm. In return I leave a very large dish of water for them so that they don't go thirsty (above). I even put a few wettened stones in, so they have somewhere to sit whilst drinking. I think of everything.

It must be said that Chestnut honey is not the world's most popular. It is dark in colour and tastes rather bitter and 'earthy'. I quite like it, but most don't.

However, Bees are essential for a good Chestnut harvest. No Bees, no Chestnuts.

Personally I just sit and watch the Bees; others scream and head for the hills. I recommend the former!


Monday 24 June 2024

A Karchering (Stanleying) we will go!

Verb: to Karcher (see also, to Stanley). M. To sweat profusely whilst cleaning car, dog, or pool surround. To obey orders. To make a bad back even badder. 

Noun: Karcher (see also, Stanley). M. An object with many wires, pipes, etc. A tangle. An item of torture. An object to be avoided.

Yesterday was the big day. Get out the Karcher (the Stanley), and blast away all the winter detritus that was clinging to the surrounding flagstones.

Many may find this a fun and pleasant job, but with a bad back it is torture.

Anyway, it's now done and looking good, so to celebrate I threw myself into the glacial waters (20 C), I swam two lengths then headed for the kitchen and a hot cup of tea.

I'm completely Karchered.


Sunday 23 June 2024

Bad weather.

There are only a few things to do in periods of bad weather (we still don't have a TV); amongst which are to light fires, do crosswords, or go mushrooming.

Our current weather of warmth and showers is perfect for the growing of Girolles. It's a delicious mushroom; perfect for omelets. After the Cèpe, it must be France's favourite mushroom. 

A few minutes in the woods supplied the ones below.

The Girolle (unlike most mushrooms) needs to be washed under running water whilst cleaning and trimming, and all the remaining water first needs to be evaporated before the actual frying process can begin. Then just add a couple of beaten eggs, and we have our favourite lunch.

Hmmmm! Delicious

Saturday 22 June 2024

Hard boiled eggs.


I recently read some 'famous chef's' account of how to make the PERFECT hard boiled egg. So, being me, I had to give it a go.

Usually I would pop my eggs into a pan of hot water, then boil for about 10 mins, but that, I'm now told, is somewhat infra dig.

No, my new method has been scientifically researched, tested, and approved. It is the egg-boiling technique to beat all others, and is no doubt the method used at the Savoy in London, and Maxime's in Paris.

Place your egg/s in cold water and bring to the boil slowly. When you have a 'rolling boil' turn off, and place a lid over the pan. Wait for exactly 11 minutes then place egg/s in cold water for 2 mins before peeling, or whatever your intention.

Well, as I said, I had to give it a go, and it worked well. Were the eggs any better than my usual method? I don't think so.

Frankly a boiled egg is a boiled egg. Full stop!

Just Stop Oil (spray paints).


The dungaree-wearing 'Just stop oil' woke folk are missing a trick.

Instead of making everyone hate them, why not do the opposite and make people admire them?

I recently heard someone on the radio suggesting that they form a charity, and replace pensioners' draughty old windows with double glazing.

I have a better idea. Why not clean all that horrible oil-spray-paint graffiti from our inner city walls, and sign the job 'By courtesy of Just Save Oil'.

I for one would chip-in a few quid to their coffers! 

Friday 21 June 2024

Found wandering!

A pink, tousle-haired woman, who had recently been dragged through a hedge backwards, came across a lost beekeeper, and having not been able to find his owner, is now hoping to adopt him.

The young woman, who sadly lost most of her clothing in the hedge, is still looking for the previous keeper of the beekeeper, so that she can officially foster him.

"Someone must recognise him" she said, "even in his full bee kit".

The police, who are assisting the young woman (believed to be a 'dancer' from Las Vegas), say there are no suspicious circumstances, other than a case of 'Cultural appropriation'. It is believed that the beekeeper is in fact black, and is only pretending to be white.

When questioned by the police, it seems that the last time the beekeeper was employed was Christmas 2023 when he claimed to have wrapped parcels for customers.

"I'm a wrapper" he declared; then said no more.


Thursday 20 June 2024

Some favourite Mondegreens (repeat from 2022).


Perhaps I should explain the origin of the 'Mondegreen' for those who may not know. In the Scottish ballad 'The Bonny Earl of Murray' there's a line which states 'They lay'd him on the green' which was misheard as 'Lady Mondegreen'. Thus the Mondegreen was born.

I've always liked dear Jane Asher's personal example. She received a letter addressed to Mr J Nasher, which opened Dear Mr Nasher. She rather liked it, so never informed the Company of their mistake.

There is the popular school hymn which most children sing as 'Gladly my cross-eyed Bear'.

The tune 'A Merry Conceit' was often referred to as 'American Seat'.

A Scottish 'County surveyor' was once referred to as The Countess of Ayr'.

There is a story of a typist's copy being checked only to find that instead of 'juxtaposition' she had typed 'Jockstrap position'.

Imagine receiving an invitation to a 'Haddock-Stirring Committee' when you expected to have been invited to an 'ad-hoc steering committee'.

And finally I did hear that someone once called Directory Enquiries to find the phone number of London's famous 'Wig and Pen Club', only to be told that there was no Pen Club in Wigan.

I'm sure you have your favourites, so let's hear a few more (not from songs please)!    



Frankly my growing days here are finished. Haddock's is no longer viable, and will be planted with extra Peach trees (if I can find some at this season). Most of the other fruit trees bare fruit after we return to Blighty.

However, there is one fruit that never fails us during our three month stay, and that is these small red Plums (above), that some call 'Bird Plums'. They are always plentiful, and always bug-free. There are THOUSANDS of them; we have three very large trees.

Lady Magnon makes her infamous 'Mumsy's Plum Pip Jam' with them, which we take back to Brighton. It is so-called because she leaves the pips in the jam. We don't find this a problem as we enjoy counting the pips in the traditional 'Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Sailor...... etc' fashion, as we did as children.

As for me, I'm determined, this year, to make a form of Umeboshi, Japanese-style, salted Plums. I have no idea if it will work, but I will give it my best.

The plums will be salted for about a week, then washed, and dried in the sun for 3 or 4 days until they shrivel. I am a big fan of Umeboshi, so if they come anywhere near that taste I shall be very happy. Only time will tell.

Otherwise we shall eat a few of them 'stewed', and grab a few others direct from the trees.

Wednesday 19 June 2024


I've read some appallingly bad books recently. I can't even remember their authors or titles, other than the one that Lady M bought for me (at a charity shop) to read on the Ferry. It was by Peter Mayle, and was about some nonsensical building scheme in Marseilles. One of the others I do remember reading contained the line 'As she edged ever closer to him she could feel her heart pounding'. Even so I managed to read it to the end, but I may never be the same again.

HOWEVER, I am now reading a book from our upstairs library by Kazuo Ishiguro, called 'When we were Orphans'. He wrote 'The remains of the Day, which I also read quite recently.

How good to read intelligent and coherent writing again. I had intended to read some Dickens through the Summer, but I have now found all sorts of delights that I'd forgotten about. Some I shall be re-reading; others for the first time.

For the moment Mr Ishiguro is keeping me handsomely entertained. I'm only reading a short amount each day, hopefully extending my pleasure.

At the same time as buying the Mayle book, Lady M also bought a Jilly Cooper 'romp novel', which she's considering reading. However, I don't think she has the stomach for it; I shall say no more!

Tuesday 18 June 2024

Cause and Effect.

Here in France the 'Right' are becoming a serious problem for the 'Left'. They are incensed by their new popularity so they too have taken to the barricades (below). They don't do things by halves here in France.

It's an age old tradition. The Union leaders and the 'Extreme Left' dungaree-wearing lovies are marching the streets of Paris and elsewhere, against the advance of the jackbooted 'Extreme Right'.

The question, of course, is why are the 'Right' so angry, and are gathering in strength and popularity?

Well, as in many European countries, the 'Extreme Left' French Woke lovies wanted to allow as many illegal immigrants into the country as possible, and, as in the UK, they paraded with banners saying 'Les Immigrants Bienvenus'. And in they came.... in their droves!

Now that the consequences of their misguided 'welcome' is being seen everywhere, they are demonstrating against the demonstrators who are demonstrating against their original folly. If you see what I mean!

Matters will only be sorted after the next general election; when just about everyone will take to the streets. This IS France after all.

Bring out the guillotine: AUX ARMES CITOYENS!


Monday 17 June 2024

Birthday Boy.

Back in February of 2016 I reported that Kimbo had bought cases of wine for each of his two sons, from the years of their births. The wines were laid down, and were not to be opened until their 18th birthdays.

Harv was given a case of Chateau Grandis, an Haut-Médoc wine from 2006.

Here he is looking very happy with his father's choice.

Now that Suave-Harv' has reached his 18th, it was time to broach the first of the bottles.

So, down to imaginary cellar they went, brushed away the imaginary cobwebs, then brought-up the dust covered bottles. The wooden case was prized open, and here he is (disguised) with the first of many, that was consumed with many an 'Oooh' and 'Aaah'.

Sadly I was here in France, so unable to enjoy the occasion with him.

Happy Birthday dear boy!

Sunday 16 June 2024

Pool opening 2024.

This is what our pool always looks like after winter. Green, toad-filled, and slimy. It has about a foot of leaf-filled water on top of the black plastic cover which needs to be emptied; hence the semi-submerged pump.

Once all the water and 'gunge' has been emptied, we can remove the black plastic cover. Then the pool's water level must be raised by hose-pipe; it was particularly low this year. When at the correct level, the pump can be switched on, the chemicals added, and the water circulation started. Hopefully then the water will become crystal clear.

When all that is done, it looks something like this... The process takes about 3 days.

It poured with rain half way through yesterday's work and we both got soaked. Now all we have to do is wait for the water temperature to rise beyond about 20 C and we'll be splashing about like naughty ducklings.

What a difference it makes to having that nasty black plastic cover to look at. 

It's a hard life!


Saturday 15 June 2024

The end of an Institution.

I turn my back on Brighton for just a few days, and already they're doing their best to dismantle it.

This shop (below) has been a Brighton institution for over 100 years. Nowhere in the world would you find a better hardware store. They simply had everything.

Many a time I've gone there with simply a silly drawing on the back of an envelope of some tiny object that I needed. One of the staff would disappear into the back, or up into the loft, and return with exactly what I was after. They NEVER failed me. It was a remarkable store.

Now I hear that it will close. It took me years to get over the closing of a nearby shellfish shop called 'Alan John's' (Alanjohns?), now I shall probably suffer even more by knowing that Dockerills is no longer there.

Where will I now go to find all those essential bits and pieces? Where will I find another Ginger Tom permanently asleep on the counter? Where will I go to find brown-coated staff for whom nothing was ever too much effort?

I wonder what will become of the property? I hope not another Charity Shop! I think there is already one on either side.

So, RIP Dockerills. I will miss you, as I'm sure will all residents of central Brighton. I can't believe this is happening.


Friday 14 June 2024

There's always something!!!

Yesterday morning, at 6.15 am, there was a small 'bang', and all the lights went out. After some trial and error fiddling with the fuses (I'm not a great electrician), I discovered that it was our water heater (immersion heater) that had blown-up.

Luckily we have a wonderful Plumber (J-P) who came to our rescue almost at once.

This below is a picture of all the sludge that was inside the old heater, as well as the furred-up element itself. It had been installed in 1989, so had given good service.

We now have a nice new shiny new one, which I hope will last as long as the old one.

We have a very nice, new-ish, Dutch neighbour, and Billy and his dog have become firm friends. 

They are learning to box, and occasionally surprise each other with an uppercut, or straight right jab. I don't know where this idea came from; maybe they've been watching boxing on TV. I've never seen dogs do this before.

Billy's other friend, a very big female German Shepherd called Amie, is currently in Holland. I think Billy wonders where she is.


Thursday 13 June 2024

Sadly, all this was predicted back in '68.

Oh dear! I've warned about all this in the past, and now coming South of The Channel, it's the main topic of conversation everywhere.

If 'middle-of-the-road' political parties don't deal with important national problems as they arise, along will come a bunch of fanatics to sort out the problem for them.  

I am now seeing that this is the case across Europe, and probably further afield; and one hears far more about it on this side of the channel, than one does in Blighty. 

The last thing we need are far right, or far left parties gaining power. Sadly it does now look as if this could happen. It's already happened in Holland with Geert Wilders, and it could very easily happen in Sweden (where it is said that there are 62,000 immigrants in Mafia style gangs), Germany, France (above), Spain, Italy, and Greece. 

And now it has happened in the recent EU elections. It really has become very serious.

We all know what people are worried about, but their concerns have come far too late. One minute the dungaree-wearing lovies were all welcoming illegal immigrants with open arms, but now that they have realised their huge mistake, they've become rather quiet.

No, it wasn't Nostradamus, but Enoch Powell who possibly over-egged his warnings back in 1968 when the UK's net-immigration was still only 5,000 pa (last year net-immigration was 685,000), but the reality has far overtaken his original concerns. Back in '68 people thought Powell was a nasty racist; even though a poll at the time suggested that 74% of the British public agreed with him. Now we all accept that he massively-under-estimated what has become a genuine problem.

There is mounting trouble everywhere. People are dissatisfied and angry, and they want to take back control of their countries. Possibly the biggest subject at the current UK Hustings, is that of immigration.

In France the extremists are creeping ever closer to defeating Macron. With the state of French society being as it is, they're bound to increase their popularity. Marine Le Pen and her radical right wing party are making huge strides. A lot of my farming neighbours, who are not at all political fanatics, see her as France's only hope.

What they imagine they could do to stem the problems, I have no idea. They might be able to control future immigration, but they can't reduce the problems that already exist. Once immigrants have settled, have children at school, and are claiming benefits, there is very little one can legally do to remove them. 

I, like so many others, have given-up trying to figure a way out. The world has already changed, and as one of Powell's constituents feared back in '68, "in 15 to 20 years time immigrants will have the upper hand"; actually, after 50 years, they now have.

If  anyone is interested in reading Powell's ACTUAL speech, and not the mischievously interpreted versions, you can read it in full here. enoch-powell_speech.pdf ( (it's quite long)

In his speech Powell made reference to Virgil's Aeneid, with 'The river Tiber foaming with much blood'. It was this short reference that caused him so much trouble. I don't think even Powell himself could ever have dreamt how serious the situation would have become after the subsequent 56 years. Knife and Machete killings, as well as shootings, have become almost a daily event in London and elsewhere; it's a sorry state. 

Anyone who was incensed by Powell's speech back in 1968 should take a long look at how his predictions developed! 

Wednesday 12 June 2024


The annual Appleby Fair is now over, and all the Gypsies have gone to wherever they go (I almost wrote 'gone home').

It has to be said that their reputation for being messy, and often light-fingered, has yet again proved to be correct. I imagine they like it that way.

I remember when I was very much younger seeing an interview by the inimitable Fyfe Robertson with some Gypsies at Appleby. He asked them if it was true that they left rubbish everywhere, one Gypsy said "Yes, we do do that", then he asked if they also stole Chickens from the local farms, the Gypsy replied "Yes, we do that too". And do you break down fences in order to get your wagons onto private land? asked Robertson, "Yes, I must admit that we do that as well". Interview over. There was nothing more to ask! At least he was honest.

I wish I could find the interview on YouTube, but it's not there.


Tuesday 11 June 2024

Humour in Football.

Football isn't all about fighting outside pubs, rushing the gates, throwing empty bottles at opposition players, or even about half-time meat pies. Occasionally some humour enters into the realm of the 'beautiful game'.  

For example, this made me laugh. A German Football team hadn't scored a goal for 5 straight games, so their fans decided to remind them where the goal was! Brilliant.

Monday 10 June 2024

Swifties v Gallaghooligans?

Whilst millions of 'Swifties' were up in Edinburgh, even more millions were enjoying Oasis at London's O2.

This is my daughter-in-Law Susie looking down on the heaving crowds, with little Liam Gallagher singing to the best of his ability, way in the distance.

So, I hear you ask, why was she (and Kimbo) so far from the stage?

Well, they were guests of someone who had a very exclusive 'box'; the O2 call them 'Encore Suites'. They were there to natter and drink fizzy wine, all to the backdrop of some well-attended concert.

And, if (like me) you wish to know what it costs to be so far from the action, I looked it up. These very exclusive 'Encore Suites' cost £195,000 plus VAT per annum.

Worth every penny!

Sunday 9 June 2024

Living off the land (partly).

There's no guessing what today's light lunch will be.

A very small Girolle omelet, and a few home-grown Artichokes.

We were promised a good downpour last night, but nothing materialised. It's the combination of rain and warmth that brings out the mushrooms, so I shall have to wait a bit longer.

I had thought that all my Artichoke plants had died, but there are a few survivors, and the flowers are ready to eat. We will have the lot today.

Otherwise there are plenty of Apples, Peaches, small Plums, and of course Figs. It'll be a while before we harvest much of it, but in the meantime there should be more mushrooms, and both wild and cultivated berries. Yesterday I stopped to chat with my lovely neighbour 'L'. She gave me a big bag-full of Cherries, and I later bought Strawberries and Asparagus from a favourite roadside seller that I always visit.

Billy has settled in well. He remembers everything and just changed countries as if it was part of everyday life. The garden is perfect, plenty of flowers and the birds are singing beautifully. It was 28 C yesterday. 


Friday 7 June 2024

Back home again.

Driving down through France is always a pleasure. We found our Hotel quite easily, we managed to fill-up the car with petrol when needed, and apart from a few 'road works' that sent us down country lanes, we found our way without any glitches.

Our halfway-down Hotel is in Orléans. The Northern half of France is, frankly, not that interesting other than a few nice cathedrals. It's once one get's well into the Southern half that things change hugely. On the A20 'Occitane' motorway one finds the town of Brive la Gaillard. As one descends into the town one has a wonderful almost 180 degree view of the most magnificant landscape all around. It is as if one is descending from the peak of a very high hill. Beyond Brive one crosses the Dordogne Valley, then for us we turn off towards Gourdon, and then on to home.

The sun shone, it was warm, and Billy didn't complain once.

One thing we did notice when we turned off the A20 was that a lot of village signs were turned upside down. We imagined that some gang of cheeky wags must have been out on the sherbet, but there were so many of them that I think it must have been orchestrated. In fact I now know that it is a France-wide protest by French Young Farmers about the state of play. Good for them; Brussels has made an awful mess of European Agricultural policy.

The house is in a bad state, more was stolen than I'd imagined, and everything has a damp feeling about it. Goodness knows what the burglar had been doing here, he's been through everything. Luckily, certain things (that I won't mention) are still where I hid them. I was extremely relieved.

So, the fire has been lit, there is some wine in the house, and our water heater is working. I'll go shopping in the morning, and things will soon get back to normal.

For the moment, we're exhausted, hungry, and thirsty. Bon nuit!


Thursday 6 June 2024

Off on my Holls.

I've really been looking forward to spending some time in France. I like everything about France, except maybe some of my new neighbours who have yet to understand the importance of camaraderie in country life.

What I'm not looking forward to is the drive down. My hips, right knee, and sciatica make long journeys quite painful; but we'll see how it goes. I'm hoping that lots of Ibuprofen will help.

We need to re-vamp the bathroom this year, and we also need to build a shed for 'Rory' the mower. Lots to do, and lots to spend.

I'm going to remove the Wisteria that is against the 'tower'. It grows so fast, and sends shoots up onto the roof and under the tiles. It has to go; nine months annual absence can do a lot of damage. We will still have one plant near the pool, so we won't be totally Wisteria-less. I shall let vines grow where a gap is left, which are easier to control. I do like plenty of foliage.

The house is still in a poor state. Lady M and Kimbo didn't have time to clear-up all the mess from February's break-in, so that'll be our first task. I've never locked the house or my car, other than when we went away for a long period, so in 50 years to have had only one break-in is a good record. Unfortunately it represents the lawlessness that has overtaken France and Europe over the past few years. Empty second homes are an easy target. 

Once the house is tidied, and the pool up and running, we will be more relaxed. But there's no rush; I shall soon have time to concentrate on developing my annual 'two tone feet'.

I shall be trundling down France's A 20 (l'Occitane) for a while; so, hopefully, I'll see you again in a few days time. 


Wednesday 5 June 2024


I bought my first Bhangra album back in the early 80's. I was enthralled by the music's energy and enthusiasm. I didn't know at the time that there was a specific dance that accompanied it.

Those who have watched Rick Stein's Indian cookery videos will have seen a group of Bhangra dancing boys in the opening credits. They have such a feeling of joy about them, it's hard not to become enthralled.

Here are some rather older dancers, in everyday outfits, showing us how to do it. Fixed smiles, plenty of energy, and their arms in the air; what's not to like? Bhangra would make great exercise music.

Tuesday 4 June 2024

The garden

When we return to France for the Summer, we will find our garden 'Ship-Shape'. Our new gardener has been doing a grand job, and we will find everything in pristine condition.

Every time he goes, he takes photos which he sends to us, so we know it is all looking splendid.

For the past two years we've being trying to get someone to mow, but either they couldn't be bothered, or were too busy. Now, at last, we have someone.

There is nothing worse than arriving back at a home that we left looking impeccable nine months previously, to find the grass over a metre high. My mower does a good job, but not with grass that high.

I believe that my phone/internet cable is still lying on the ground, and that my distant neighbour's temporary electricity connection is still coming from the back of our house, and is lying across a foot path. Such connections are allowed for a maximum of six months; his has been there for FIVE YEARS. I really must do something about it!!!

So, I'm looking forward to having a proper garden again, rather than just a few square meters of concrete and some climbing roses. I think Billy's looking forward to it too.


Monday 3 June 2024

That Whisky!

This is the strange tasting Whisky that I bought before Christmas; the one that tasted of Tar.

I've written previously about how I trained myself to like Pastis (you can't not like Pastis, living in France), and I was eventually successful.

Recently I've been trying to train myself to like this strange tar-tasting 'Aerstone' Whisky, and I think I'm almost getting there. I'm beginning to 'tolerate' it.

I certainly wasn't going to throw it away, and the tar flavour rules-out using it in cooking, so I simply had to drink it. I am now getting used to the flavour, although I can't really claim to like it. It has one heck of a bite.

Just a tiny drop each evening before bed, and I shall probably finish it before investing in my next Winter bottle of Single Malt, next December.

I shan't buy Aerstone again; I shall stick with the more well-known brands, they're probably less expensive too.


Sunday 2 June 2024

Sod's Law.

This lovely Globe Artichoke plant is situated just outside our front Bay Window. It is big, luscious, and full of junior Artichokes.

But, just to annoy me, the plant has decided that the Artichokes won't be ready to eat until after we've left for France. As you can probably see below, there are lots of them, but all as yet far too small.

I've had a word with my neighbour, and with Kimbo, to take them as soon as they're ready (in two weeks maybe), and not let them go to waste.

However, I'll put 50p on, that the dried-up flower heads will still be there in September. Why are people so afraid of them? I know they are fiddly to prepare, but they are delicious; and they're FREE.


House Painting Season.

Scaffolding seems to be appearing everywhere, especially in our small street. Above is the back of our houses by the garages. Scaffolding always makes the place look scruffy; as soon as it goes up, I can't wait for it to come down again.

Now that warm dry weather is more predictable, out come the paint pots and brushes. We're even hoping to do our own when we return in September.

The gentleman who owns the house in the middle of the picture is painting his own. The scaffolding cost him about £1,000, and the paint about £30.

I mentioned to him that we'd been quoted over £5,000 for a much smaller job than his (we are mid-terrace, and don't have a gable end wall), and I suggested that, like him, we book the scaffold, and do the job ourselves. I'm sure that Kimbo would lend a hand. A saving of about £4,000 at the moment would be very welcome.

The facades of our houses are half brick, and half white-painted rendering. Traditionally the white part is the bottom half with the exposed brickwork showing above, but for some reason, with our houses, they did the opposite; making it necessary to have scaffolding, or a very long ladder, to paint the top half.

I'm not sure yet if we'll try to do ours ourselves, or just hope to win the lottery and allow others to do it for us.

Anyone got a coin?


Saturday 1 June 2024

The 'feel-good' factor.

For a country boy, born just South of London in leafy Surrey, there is nothing more beautiful in Spring that fresh new leaves.

I'm a big fan of greenery, but that particular green of new leaves makes me smile and inhale deeply. I'm certain the leaves produce therapeutic gases that hugely benefit humans; Oxygen, Carbon dioxide, Nitric oxide, Nitrous oxide, etc, all change our mood. I know that when I walk through the woods, or just through the churchyard, at this time of year, it lifts my spirits instantly.

When King Charles was no more than a lowly Prince, he famously hugged trees and promoted everything to do with organic food and preserving nature. At the time he was often ridiculed for his love of nature, but these days you'd be hard-pushed to find anyone (even a woke climate-hooligan) who doesn't agree with him. He was simply ahead of his time.

At this time of year you often see people lying on the grass. I'm sure it's a natural beneficial instinct to breathe healing gasses that come from the earth; not unlike people heading for the coast to breathe ozone.

Soon that fresh new green settles into a more sedate mature green that no longer has the same effect. By Autumn we are happy to see the old leaves fall and await the new crop again.

But for the moment I'm inhaling deeply and benefitting from all that magic that comes with Spring.


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