Tuesday, 23 January 2018

What a Shame!



'Marty's' in Cuzorn (quite near here) was a huge maker of wooden Parquet Flooring, it employed between 200 and 300 people. In fact it was one of the biggest companies/employers around. Its buildings must have covered several hectares, and its output was huge. Most of its wood was bought from local landowners/farmers, and played a major part in the local economy.

Just a few years ago it went to the wall, and they tried to find a new buyer; no-one came forward. Now the place is being dismantled, and the resulting metal is being sold off for scrap.

                          

I drive past Marty's a couple of times each week, and I've been following its slow demolition. I took this rather poor photo yesterday; it's so sad to see what was once a thriving business being reduced to piles of twisted metal.

Why? I believe that Parquet Flooring was being imported from China, and elsewhere, at far more inviting prices, so the end was almost inevitable; as with so much in Europe.

Dare I say it, but don't price yourselves out of the market; unions please note! Adieu Marty, RIP.


Monday, 22 January 2018

Sir William Connor (Cassandra) 1909-1967.



I was delving amongst the dustier volumes of our extensive library, when I came across the above.

I was somewhat surprised at finding it, and remarked as much to Lady Magnon; who was equally bemused.

Cassandra is a poignant name from my past, but where this book came from neither of us has any idea. On the inside page I see that it was priced at £1.25 (in pencil); having been initially sold at five bob.

Connor was a sketch writer for The Mirror newspaper; and a very fine one. He always wrote with clarity, humour, and some stubbornness. I would liken his eloquence to that of Yeats, and his venom to that of Ken Tynon. His regular column, as well as that of J B Morton's  'Beachcomber' in The Express, was essential reading for the young schoolboy Cro; although where both The Express and The Mirror came from, I can't imagine (our Junior Common Room members took some very odd papers; I took The Telegraph).

His writing for The Mirror stopped briefly during The Second German war, whilst he was away doing his bit between '42 and '46. When he returned to Fleet Street his opening words were 'As I was saying when I was interrupted, it is a powerful hard thing to please all the people all the time'.

Should you be fortunate enough to find a copy of his 'CASSANDRA, at his Finest and Funniest' in your local charity shop; I recommend it.  The book is a compendium of very short (2 page max), beautifully crafted and observed sketches, and is the perfect book for anyone who likes to pop in and out of a good thought-provoking read.



Macaroni Cheese


I believe that John Gray has been looking for a recipe for low fat Macaroni Cheese; a pebble told me.





Sunday, 21 January 2018

A wet cold day



What a dreadful day it was yesterday, it rained all bloody day long; weather that we've not known for years. In fact I only ventured outdoors for half an hour in the early morning to take Bok for a walk. The rest of the day I stayed INDOORS.

In frustration, I stoked-up George our wood-fired cooker, Lady Magnon made a 'Narna Cake, and Polly put kettle on t'boil. Eeee, it were a right good day fer staying indoers. Later I roasted a Chicken, wi taters, one of them foreign yella pepper thingies, some Squash, an' some greens; it were grand. Sorry, the weather's suddenly made me go all northern.


When weather is that bad, I like to revert to older methods; maybe even light our way with candles; it is comforting. With a good fire raging in the stove, there's no point using the electric kettle. Luckily for us such ways are done not through necessity, but simply because we enjoy it. Of course in a case of emergency we live in the knowledge that we are perfectly equipped; I wouldn't want to be one of those who rely entirely on electricity.

I hope this wretched weather isn't going to last.



Saturday, 20 January 2018

Brown Betty, and the question of Tea.


                                    R├ęsultat de recherche d'images pour "kettle with seive on spout"

In my opinion there is only one pukka type of Teapot; the traditional Brown Betty.

There are a million different fancy Teapots around. They come in all colours, all shapes, and with all types of ghastly patterns, but none compares to the plain brown standard design; usually with a blue interior.

One of my late mother's prized possessions was her extra large Brown Betty that was always known as her 'WI Teapot'. Goodness knows how many cups of Tea it contained; it was huge..

A good Teapot shouldn't dribble, it should be light enough to be maneuvered with skill, and it should be unobtrusive, so as not to take one's mind off the matter at hand; the pouring of Tea.

What one serves with one's Brown-Betty-made afternoon Tea, is another question. Personally I suggest one centimetre thick slices of Battenberg, or a couple of McVities dark chocolate Digestives, or even a slice of Lady Magnon's excellent Lemon Drizzle Cake. The choice is yours.

One thing is certain, however, the Brown Betty makes the BEST cup of Tea.

N.B. The milk in first, or after, question will never be resolved; it's all a question of 'upbringing'. And as for the time of day for the drinking of Tea.... I shall make no comment.



Friday, 19 January 2018

Winter evenings.



Just another ordinary winter evening.

With no nightclubs, pubs, theatres, or michelin starred restaurants to tempt us out at night, we hunker down and read trashy novels, or fill-in crosswords.

Bok just sleeps, Freddie watches the world go by, and Lady Magnon kicks off her slippers. The only sound is that of the washing-up machine whirring away in the kitchen.

We discuss the day's news, commiserate with those who are digging themselves out from six foot snow drifts, and we sip our glasses of warmed red wine. 

There is little on TV that appeals, so I head off early to bed and listen to some ancient comedy show on Radio 4 extra.

Yup, it's a hard busy old life, but winter is like that; you take it as you find it.




Thursday, 18 January 2018

The cost of Living.



In July 2001, a very good friend from my college days, T, quit Dubai, where he'd been designing some of those iconic buildings, and came to live here in France.

Not long after his arrival, he asked me a searching question "How much are your weekly outgoings?".

Well, the answer was very simple. At the time I spent on average €50 per week, which included wine and petrol; but not house taxes, water, or electricity (those were paid by direct debit, and still are). He seemed quite surprised that it was so little.

We ate well, drank well, and travelled about quite a lot. We didn't deprive ourselves of anything, and ate out quite often.

T is sadly no longer living here, but if he asked me that same question again today, the answer would be very different.

I now find myself robbing the ATM machine of €300, at least three times a month.

I use the car as little as possible, only frequent restaurants in the summer, and we eat a lot less expensive meats than we used to. There is no question that since 2001, the cost of living has more than quadrupled.

Of course, in those 16 years there was bound to have been inflation, but it does seem to have been excessively high over the past 5 years or so.

Those Euro notes don't seem to be worth very much these days, and putting €20 into the Compact Royce's petrol tank just about gets me home. I suppose I should be grateful that I still have a few of them left.




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