Thursday, 24 August 2017

Come on Eileen - Ala Ska ( COVER )

Dexy's classic given a new-ish Ska update. Great pub' music.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Prize winner?

It weighs 750 gms; beat that!

I may not have had a copious crop of Tomatoes this year, but I did have a few beauties. 

In fact my Tomato crop is now almost over.....Tragedy.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017


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In my short teaching career, I taught at just two schools. Firstly a girl's 'upper' school in Shropshire (13-18), and later a co-ed Prep' school in Sussex (6-13).

I'm not what you'd call a natural career teacher, but I did enjoy my time in the classroom. Naturally I taught Art and Art History, but also stood in for Latin when required.

Moreton Hall in Shropshire was a classic girl's school. Above all it taught young ladies how to behave correctly, whilst at the same time hoping that they'd pass enough exams in order to continue their studies at university level (which they mostly did).

Windlesham House (above) was a very different affair. It is the oldest UK Prep' School (founded in 1837), and was co-ed. Another classic school, it was always considered the No 2 Prep' School in the country after Dragon in Oxford, and was set in more than 60 acres of secluded and stunningly beautiful Sussex downland.

The pupils at Windlesham were a real pleasure to teach and to be around. There was a permanent atmosphere of calm and politeness, the children acted like young, well behaved, adults. The school is where swimmer Duncan Goodhew famously fell from a tree, resulting in his trade-mark baldness (nothing to do with me, honest).

Teaching in boarding schools is a very different matter to teaching elsewhere. There's no 9 to 5 working hours, one is on call almost permanently, including weekends; it's hard graft. Teachers in state schools don't know they're born!

I did enjoy it, but France beckoned, and I was obliged to answer the call.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Pears not Pairs.

I love Pears, but rarely buy them. They are up there amongst my very favourite things to eat.

We have just two youngish trees; a Doyenne de Comice, and a Conference. Above are from the latter.

Conference is an especially good variety because it tells you when it's ripe; it turns yellow, and drops.

The old family joke.

Sprog: Daddy, may I have a pear?

Cro: A pair of what?

Sprog: No, an eating Pear.

Cro: Oh you mean a quarter of a pair of Pears! Yes of course you may.

Well we found it funny, and we still do!

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Mr Moneypenny.

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Putin lookalike Daniel Craig is allegedly to be paid £100 Million (Yes, A HUNDRED MILLION SMACKERS) to play the part of James Bond in a new film. Personally I find that a teeny bit excessive.

I've been in a couple of films myself, and I can assure you that this acting lark ain't all it's cracked-up to be!

Films are not the same as theatre; one doesn't have to learn a whole script, or even stage instructions. Filming is done in tiny bits by tiny bits, and actors usually have just a couple of lines to remember at each take; often not even that!

The director tells them exactly what do do, how to look, what expression to use, where to walk, and when to do it all. A make-up gal will make them look presentable. They are puppets. If the director isn't satisfied with their performance he makes them do it again, and again, until they get it right; even top-notch actors rarely get things right at their first attempt.

Often their diction is atrocious, they whisper to each other, and if it wasn't for highly sensitive recording equipment, you'd hear nothing. Even from a few feet away one is hard-pressed to hear any of the actual script. Try doing that in the theatre.

For all I know Mr Craig might be a very fine actor; one would need to see him on stage to find out.

If he was to be paid £500,000 for his rôle as Bond, I would still find that excessive. But £100 Million is just plain ridiculous; no wonder that poorer paid workers become so bloody angry.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

My late mother.

This is the last of my series of old photos, and a particular favourite of my late mother. 

Not too PC these days, but I like it anyway.

Friday, 18 August 2017

My late Father as a boy, youth, and groom.

I'm continuing my series of old photos with a few of my own father. I'm posting these mainly for family, as there are a few they may not have seen before.

Above is my father with his older brother.

My father as a schoolboy; aged around 16 maybe? 

And here is my father on his wedding day. From left to right; my father, his older brother, my mother, paternal grandfather, paternal grandmother (the dragon), and two unknown (to me) very Victorian looking ladies.

Please forgive my indulgence, I shall not be showing any more..... Well, maybe just one more tomorrow.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

My late Father-in-Law, as a boy.

Lady Magnon has just returned from Blighty with a big pack of old photos that were up in our loft. The ones that I am presently scanning etc are ones that I'm particularly interested in sharing with family members, so please indulge me for a couple of days.

My late father-in-law in classic Sailor Suit, driving his rather chic peddle car.

With his people; he's the small boy on the right with the dreadlocks ringlets. Who could have thought what his life held in store; his older brother (behind him) became a Colonel in the Indian Army.

How times have changed.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Sun-dried Tomatoes.

Encouraged by my near neighbour, Sue, I have thrown caution to the winds and have attempted to sun-dry some (Roma) Tomatoes.

This was simply an experiment, which is why I did so few. If all goes well, I'll do a lot more in about a week's time when we're expecting a longer period of good weather.

I cut them in half, removed the pips and mush, salted them slightly, then put them out to dry in the sunshine.

I didn't have any problem drying them; but the interesting bit will be seeing how they taste.

Here they are after their 3 days drying, and having been packed away in Olive oil with some dried Oregano and coarse-ground pepper (above). The colour is amazing; nothing at all like the commercial ones. 

I have now tasted one. Really delicious, but slightly under-salted. I suppose they should be salted much as one would for eating them fresh.

p.s. Why is it that most recipes on Google for 'Sun-Dried Tomatoes' involve using an OVEN? Surely the whole point of SUN-DRIED means they're dried by the SUN. We live in strange times.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Kate and Sydney.

My oldest son, Kimbo, knows my tastes well. Other than a selection of wonderful cheeses, some superb bacon, and a couple of luxury Pork pies, this year he arrived with two of the above.

For anyone who is unaware, these are 'ready to cook' pies, that simply require a tin opener and an oven.

They were, and probably still are, a life-line to many students, who might otherwise exist exclusively on Beer and Pork scratchings. The thought of a Fray Bentos pie on a Sunday was heaven on earth.

The last one I ate was in 2013. I eat them alone because Lady Magnon doesn't approve. More fool her!

Bloody delicious.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Cheese or Soap?

I don't feel satisfied unless I come away from a Boot Sale with something in my swag-bag.

These two little pierced pots are a good example. The yellowish one I bought some while ago, and the white one I bought yesterday at a local sale. I have always imagined them to be Cheese drainers. Pop your Goat's milk curds into the pots, and in the morning they'll be nicely set Cheese (Cabécou).

However, my friend L thinks that my latest purchase is for soap..... Please tell me that she's wrong!

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Le Vin du Midi; a panacea.

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This wonderful piece of wine propaganda begins with Louis Pasteur's wise words "Wine is the most healthy and hygienic of drinks".

It advises giving diluted Wine to children from the age of 4, and suggests that adults should consume between 75 cl and 200 cl (yes, 2 litres!!) with meals. I can actually remember, in the 1960's, adverts in the Paris Metro advising people not to drink more than two litres of wine a day!

It also advises that so-called 'pure' water (Perrier et al) is no more than poison because of added chemicals, and that between meals one should only drink Grape Juice.

As someone who enjoys drinking a couple of glasses of wine each day (sadly, not nearly as much as recommended), I do find the above a tad ambitious, but the principles still holds fast.

Saturday, 12 August 2017



Where is The North?

Some cheeky wags at have worked out where THE NORTH is by calculating how many Greggs pie shops there are per capita of population. Of course they are wrong, as you can see by their silly map (above), which looks more like a dividing line between the North West, and the South East.

As someone who was born in leafy stockbroker Surrey, I have always believed that THE NORTH began at Croydon, but I have now done considerable research into the matter, and I present my map which illustrates where it REALLY starts (below).

As you can see, The South is all that area below a line between the Bristol Channel in the West, to the southern banks of The Thames estuary in the East, including London (which is The South's major city).

The Midlands is everything in between The South and The North; excluding Wales and East Anglia, which are independent regnums.

The NORTH is everywhere above a line between Liverpool in The West, and The Wash in The East. It ends at a place called Scotland (which is an area where Whisky is made).

Other islands off the coast are simply known by their names, and do not require geographical pin-pointing.

I hope this quells any continued confusion. 

Friday, 11 August 2017


I'm not big on tattoos (I don't have any, as you might imagine), but I do rather like this one above.

When I was young it was quite common for those who'd done their National Service to return home with a Swallow, or a heart with a girl's name, or, if they'd been in the navy, an anchor, on their forearm; Popeye fashion.  

It was usually the souvenir of a drunken night in some foreign port; probably later regretted.

The current 'fashion' for minor celebs (and those who idolise them) to cover themselves with acres of unidentifiable inkings, is to me horrific. Every time I see some poor girl with drawings all over her legs, arms, and chest, I see nothing but future regret.

What seems like a bit of harmless fun when you're 18, can easily become a nightmare when you're 25. I remember seeing a 'mature' woman on the beach in Ibiza who looked as if she was covered in bruises; on closer inspection (not too close) I realised that they were ancient tattoos that had grappled with time. 

Not nice!

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Dream a little dream of me .

Some more from the lovely and talented Andrea Motis; you'll like this one, even if you don't like jazz. Love that tempo change at 1.40.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017


Some call them Hibiscus, but here we call them Altea.

I've always liked Alteas, they're easy to grow and continue flowering for months; just my cup of tea. Also, if left to their own devices they grow into very large bushes.

This white one (above) is an offspring of a beautiful 'double flowered' example from a friend's garden. I was given seeds on several occasions,  but they always reverted to 'singles'. They are beautiful anyway.

I think I have five different colours; all nice in their own way. I couldn't photograph the blue one, it was too high-up.

I'd like to find a deep red one (I have an obsession with deep red flowers), but I'm not sure if such a thing exists.

I might go on an Altea hunt.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Bye boys, I miss you.

Kimbo and the boys' eating knives have now been put away until their next visit. Only mine remains in use (right).  Lady Magnon is much more sophisticated; she uses a pukka table knife.

For the moment enemy pop bottles will go unshot, water pistols will stay in the pump house and not in the skimmers, and the boys bikes will no longer lean against the Greengage tree. Everything's been stored away at Dangerous Fun Headquarters until their return.

It's all very, very, quiet.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Dr Cro Dolittle.

Yesterday morning was filled with wildlife moments. Early on I was pestered by a Squirrel who seemed to want to come indoors to use the laptop. He was knocking on the big studio window right by my left hand side; I should have taken his photo.

Then later this baby female Blackbird appeared. I was leaning over by our outdoor tap, and she flew onto my back. She stayed there for quite a while until I simply had to stand up.

Later I fed her with some Brioche soaked in milk.

I think she's adopted me as her Dad. Later in the day, she joined us for supper.

I think I may have started something!

Sunday, 6 August 2017


The above pot is by Trentham de Leliva, my one-time pottery tutor, and friend.

Trent (as he was known) was something of an enigma. Just to look at him you knew he was a man to be reckoned with.

He was tall and slim with a very 'lived-in' face. Otherwise I knew very little of him.

His home was in one of Brighton's most prestigious non-sea-facing crescents, and he always drove classic cars.

The last time we met was at a Garden Centre up by Brighton's Racecourse, where he was wandering aimlessly between the rows of plants. We had a short chat, talked of old times, and that was it. He'd seemed very pleased that I'd approached him.

Trent died not long afterwards in 2012, and the only thing I can now find about him (on the net) is this one rather uninteresting jug. Back in Oct' 2015 one of his pots had been offered on Ebay, but it received no bids.

A highly talented potter who has simply disappeared.

Just in case you own a pot with a capital T inside a circle stamped into the base, it would be by my old friend Trentham de Leliva; you should treasure it.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Birthday boy.

My late father was born on this day in 1905. 

I keep his picture on my wall to remind myself of what a generous man he was; I try to follow his example, not always successfully..

Friday, 4 August 2017

My green bedroom.

During the pukka Summer months we de-camp to our outdoor room.

It's a little like going on holiday (without the inconvenience of travel).

Yes, there really is a room somewhere under all that foliage; we almost need a machete.


Thursday, 3 August 2017

Andrea Motis singing and playing L.O.V.E.

The remarkably talented, and lovely, Ms Motis. I think she was just 17 when this was recorded.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Plans change.

It's always the same; I make loads of plans for summer, then everything goes awry.

Prior to the annual holidays I fill the freezer with legs of Lamb, plenty of Fish Fingers, joints of Pork, Sausages, and at least one Turkey. Then nothing goes according to plan.

Restaurants are booked, BBQ's planned, our village 'Marché des Producteurs' is visited (above), various invitations to parties arrive, then there's no time left for my well studied agenda.

Ollie is about to declare that he's a veggie, neither of the boys eat very much meat, I refuse to eat anything that comes in a multi-coloured packet, and Lady Magnon has a stinking cold. In other words, it's the same as most other years.

I'm seriously considering becoming a Teetotal Veggie, just as soon as we've eaten all the meat in the freezer, and I've emptied everything that holds wine, which may take some time.

Actually we've come to a sensible arrangement. When we're out the boys will eat Pizza, and brown-n-white sugary Food-Ex in pots, whilst Lady M, Kimbo, and I eat big Steaks, smelly Cheese, and fresh Fruit.

Forget the plans; chacun son gout!

Monday, 31 July 2017

Let's all Boycott TMS.

With Cricketer Kimbo in residence, our afternoons are occasionally peppered with short bursts of Test Match Special.

Test Cricket no longer appears on BBC TV, so instead we have to listen on radio. I should add that the last time I watched international Test Cricket on TV was in the days of Botham, Richards, Marsh, Gower, etc; when Cricket was in its heyday.

One compensation of the BBC's radio coverage are the wise words of Geoffrey Boycott, for whom nothing is ever of any acceptable standard.

It should be noted here that Boycott was one of the most tedious, slowest, and best, of all England batsmen, and his down-to-earth commentaries (filled with Yorkshire wisdom) are pure pleasure. He rubbishes just about everything that ever stepped-out onto hallowed turf (except for himself, of course).

It'll be a sad day when Mr Boycott no longer offers his opinions. An even sadder day if Aunty was to stop her TMS broadcasts.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Camilla Parker-Bowles Goes Shopping

Just in case anyone doesn't know; Bowles is married to Prince Charles, and Ullman is an English comedienne.

Saturday, 29 July 2017

1st bottling of 2017.

I've been busy, and slightly neglecting Haddock's, and I suddenly have a surfeit of Aubergines, Peppers, Courgettes, and to a lesser extent Tomatoes.

So, nothing for it but to prepare Ratatouille for the winter.

I thought I'd done enough for 5 jars, but once cooked-down there was only enough for 3; plus a bit left over to eat cold.

I still have plenty in reserve from 2016, so I won't do quite so much this year. With my Tomatoes looking a bit sad, the freezer will have to cope with most of my 2017 excesses.

Friday, 28 July 2017

1st dinner party.

The boys held their first ever dinner party yesterday, and what a dinner party is was; we even had personalised place names (with minor spelling mistake).

The BBQ was lit, the fire pit was lit, 'artisan' crisps were handed around to all present; it started well, and continued that way.

We ate BBQ'd strips of belly pork, giant 'luxury' knacki sausages, and inch-thick beefburgers, all served with a potato salad, and tomatoes. Nothing was burned, all was perfectly cooked. Everything was delicious

For dessert we ate strawberry tart, and the evening was rounded off with roasted marshmallows over the fire pit.

For a first go at entertaining, the boys did a fabulous job. They are now thinking of opening a chain of  Dangerous Fun Resterants;..... I think they'll do well.  

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Boys will be boys!

You're enjoying a pleasant evening in a fancy restaurant, and what happens? One of those present rips his trousers apart; and, just by chance, on the very evening when he'd decided to 'go commando'.

It's never a dull moment with these two about, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tonight they have invited us to a BBQ at Dangerous Fun headquarters. I can't wait!

Proposed Menu: 

Entrée... Sweets.

Main...  Sweets with Marshmallow sauce.

Dessert... Ice Cream with Sweets, or with toasted Marshmallows.

Drinks... Ch Orangina, Ch Pepsi.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017


I seem to have got it right this year, we have a regular supply of beans, which should continue well into September.

Lady Magnon always gives me strict instructions to 'grow plenty of beans',  I do my best but they are often far too early, or far too late, or simply not enough.

This year I have sown four rows at 3 weekly intervals (as recommended on the box), and it seems to be working. We are having a colander-full every two days; more than enough.

They are that good old favourite variety called 'Contender'. Lovely.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

La Reine-Claude.

The Greengage is a strange fruit, I really don't know why I bother to keep the tree in front of the house. The trunk is rotting, and clearing up all the mess from the dropping fruit is an annual nuisance.

Either they have worms inside them, or they are so sweet that they make your hair curl.

The only way to eat them is to catch them semi-ripe, open them in half (to check for lodgers), and consume them directly underneath the tree. I probably eat a maximum of 20 each year. Like that they are delicious, but hardly worth all the hassle of clearing-up the mess they produce.

I always look forward to their arrival, then wish I hadn't. Bok eats a few.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Day 1: The fun begins.

Other than having a break-down near Brive, their journey went according to plan (ahem!).

The big German car is now at a specialist garage having its gearbox looked-at, and Kimbo is driving a courtesy Renault Clio. He's not happy with it, although to me it looks perfect. 

Above, Harvey J helping Uncle Claude.

The Fire Brigade made an appearance.

Unwanted boarders were given fair warning.

And so to lunch.....

Yup, it's all aboard HMS Dangerous Fun for the next two weeks.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Doppelganger No 7¾.


Picasso portrait of Jacqueline 1962.

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2000 year old Egyptian portrait of a woman.

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Dangerous Fun.

New for the boys this year is the Dangerous Fun Caravan (Pirate's Lair), complete with their original (now tattered) flag, which has been framed. I have also built a simple outdoor fire pit for cooking sausages, marshmallows, etc.

The caravan now has two 'beds' and two comfortable mattresses, so I'm hoping they'll spend at least a couple of nights in there.

There's a picnic table and benches, a couple of bikes with flat tyres, a frying pan, and not much else.

Let the Dangerous Fun commence!

Thursday, 20 July 2017


Given my time again, I would have done more building. It's a very satisfying amateur occupation.

You don't need a diploma to throw up walls in either stone, brick or concrete blocks; it's not difficult. It requires a radio (to relieve brain-numbing boredom), a string with a weight tied to one end, and a £2 level.

The fun bit is trying to make whatever one is building, blend in with what's around it. My Pump House certainly wouldn't have been the same without its cut stone window, hand thrown pinnacles, and greenery.

Much of the appeal of the area in which I live, are its ancient buildings. Many of our towns date from the late 13th century; the era of The Hundred Years War. Beautiful old arched shaded walkways, wood or stone pillared central market places, and decorative carved stonework openings, are commonplace. 

It must be said that traditionally the most conscientious restorers of our local buildings have always been the Brits or the Dutch. They tend to have a natural respect for the integrity of an ancient building; far more than the natives. Not always the case, but in general this is so.

Inappropriate industrial roofing tiles are now very common. Bizarrely shaped window openings and plastic doors are incorporated into otherwise beautiful old stone-built cottages. No horror is too far-fetched.  There seem to be few restrictions when it comes to modernising ancient farmhouses or cottages.

Nowadays 'buildings' come in various unusual forms. One of our neighbours (and friend) is building a Holiday Village. He already has a 7 person 'Gite', and has been given permission to install several ready-to-go Shipping Containers which will be semi-buried beneath the ground in his field. I hear that the containers come complete with kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, etc, and apparently all they need is to be positioned, made as invisible as possible, then have the pipes and wires connected. That's it.

Both Lady Magnon and myself have surprised ourselves by our joint lack of concern about the project; there's no holding back progress!  Anyway, it would have been hypocritical of us to think otherwise, in light of the conversion of our Séchoir. 

The entrance to his new 'Village' will be opposite an empty semi-ruined house on the 'main' road, so none of us will be directly affected.

Another friend who previously lived in a fabulous Yurt wanted to install several more as holiday accommodation, but was refused permission, which we've never really understood. I can't see why they would say 'yes' to Shipping Containers, yet 'no' to Yurts; there doesn't seem to be a great deal of logic in the authority's choice of holiday housing.

C'est la vie. Hey ho!

The months ahead.

I love Summer, Sunshine, and Sunflowers.

At this time of year, I get up at 5.30 am (as I do every day of the year), pull on a T shirt, a pair of shorts, and my old pumps, and I'm ready to face the day.

As we approach full-on Summer, we have suddenly realised that our diary is much fuller than we'd anticipated. 

Kimbo and the boys arrive any day, we have a big wedding to attend, and we have more parties and dinner-parties on the horizon than is decent.

On top of all that there are village fêtes, boot sales, and al-fresco meals to be attended; not to mention several other visitors.

We also plan to visit various restaurants that we have ignored for the past few years, although when we'll get time to do so, I'm not sure.

We have a field of Sunflowers in front of the house this year, so the above is now what we look out upon. It looks like the next couple of months will be non-stop misery.

Now, where are my swimming things?

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