Tuesday, 17 October 2017

With Tears in my Eyes.

The end-of-year C word seems to have been resurrected recently, so it's time to think of what will accompany our cold Turkey.

There are two main pickles I associate with our winter feasts; onions and red cabbage. As we are now less than 90 days away from the big feasting and fattening season, I have begun the preparations by starting with the pickled onions.

I cannot envisage my Boxing Day slices of cold Turkey without a few pickled onions.

The small onions were peeled (with lachrymose difficulty), put into a light brine for 24 hours, then bottled in spiced wine vinegar with some sugar. I don't bother with weights and measures when it comes to such things; I do it by eye, and memory.

The pickled red cabbage will be prepared about two weeks before the big day, otherwise it loses its freshness colour and crunch.

I'm almost beginning to feel 'festive' (no I'm not).

Monday, 16 October 2017

Spurs v Bournemouth.

I've only been to one professional Football match in my life, and that was at Brighton & Hove Albion, back in the 1960's. I can't remember who they played.

The noise was so loud that I had a headache for a week.

On Saturday, Kimbo and Ollie went to watch Spurs playing Bournemouth. I'm not a big Football fan, but I do kinda support both Chelsea and Brighton, because they're the only places I've lived that have decent teams.

Ollie was given the Spurs tickets by his school, and as you can probably see, they were way up in the gods.

The score was Spurs 1 Bournemouth 0. Predictable.

My son-in-law is in the UK at the moment, and no doubt he'll be going to watch Arsenal while he's there. He's a fan-atic! I see that they lost against Watford; so he won't be happy.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Amanita Caesarea.

Most serious mycologists will tell you that the very finest of mushrooms are the above; Amanita Caesarea, known here as the 'Orange'.

As the name suggests, it was Caesar's favourite mushroom. It has a very fine and delicate flavour, but is not common. Lady Magnon came upon these two yesterday by chance.

Known in Italy as the 'Ovolo', it is highly appreciated throughout southern Europe; with good reason!

Lucky is he, or she, who has one of these with their breakfast fried egg; as did I yesterday.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Villefranche-du-Périgord, site remarquable du goût

The first of our local Autumn Chestnut Fairs takes place this afternoon (St Caprais), when every possible use for the humble fruit is celebrated.

I've mentioned before that I live in a serious Chestnut Growing Area, the centre of which is the ancient small town of Villefranche du Perigord (founded in 1270); just 7 kms away.

It's where I go on Saturday mornings to the tiny market. It also has some pleasant cafés, shops, bakers, and restaurants.

Here is a short film praising everything that is 'Chestnut'. It also shows a small glimpse of the town itself. The small bakery at 1.00 is where we buy our Saturday bread.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Surprised again; shocked even!

My wonderful children (yes they are) continue to surprise me.

Some while back Wills (above) surprised me by speaking fluent, and what sounded like, near perfect German whilst booking an hotel room in Frankfurt. I had no idea that he could speak anything other than just English and French.

Now he has surprised me again by showing a sudden interest in Sailing. Not only is he learning all about how to make boats do what you want them to do, and go where you want them to go, he is also planning world trips in a two masted ketch; which he has yet to buy. 

I must say; I thoroughly approve of this new hobby, I just hope he invites me along as crew. Me and Boo Boo could catch and cook the fish.

I also hope he buys himself a yacht with no holes in the hull (seriously!).

Thursday, 12 October 2017

EC Regulations.

On 17th September (not even a month ago) I reported that the nice egg man at our nearby market was now following new EU regulations, and was stamping his eggs with some silly nonsense that told us where they came from, and when they were laid, etc (if we could be bothered to decipher the smudged red writing).

Well, I'm pleased to report that in true French style, the new regulations are already being ignored, and my last Saturday's purchase of eggs (above) were all STAMP FREE!

For a moment I'd imagined the French were becoming lackeys to Brussels' bureaucrats, but my faith has been restored. 

Aux armes citoyens, formez vos bataillons. Marchons, marchons. No more red stamping on local free range eggs!

If next Saturday I see him being hauled off to the Guillotine; I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Jam pots.

When Lady Magnon bottles her annual supply of Apricot and Strawberry jams, invariably she uses old 'Bonne Maman' pots; I'm sure you know the ones, they have gingham tops (see below).

However, before Bonne Maman cornered the commercial jam market, people used purpose-made jam pots, which were coveted, and used year after year.

In my more esoteric days, I used to buy antique jam pots. I liked the idea of such things having held home-made jams over several generations. I seriously considered the age and aesthetics of such objects could only improve the quality of the contents, and in a way I think I was right.

I used to have quite a lot of them. No doubt they are still around somewhere, but gawd knows where!

Anyway, here are our current Bonne Maman pots.They're not a patch on the old ones which are very chunky and heavy; they had real jam kudos about them.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Autumn 2017.

Suddenly morning temperatures dropped to frost warning levels. I think it was simply a false alarm, and I certainly didn't rush to bring all my Butternuts inside. I'm an optimist.

It isn't light here until around 8 am, so unless I wish to take Bok for his morning walk in the dark, I just have to wait. This is a temporary nuisance, but I expect the clocks will change quite soon.

This view (above) took my breath away yesterday. The low sun was so bright as it flooded along the little path behind the house, that my cheap camera could hardly cope with the brightness.

So, it's cool mornings, clear skies, and warm afternoons. I haven't yet lit an evening fire, but I quite expect Lady Magnon will be complaining before long.

For the moment I'm on top of all my tasks. I'll probably have a Flu' jab at the end of the month. Traps and poison have been laid for Winter-holiday-making rodents, and I have bought extra lots of flour, rice, pasta, and butter in readiness for the Winter siege. 

All early Autumn boxes are ticked.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Cro's Style Awards, No 6.

This is a one man style statement.

33 year old Kim Jong-Un has carved himself a unique place in the style stakes.

From his really bizarre hairstyle, to his unique glasses, and his even more bizarre suits, he has now taken things to further extremes with his over-wide over-long trousers.

I can't see his style being copied, but well done Kim for going it alone.

A true 'original'.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

There's no such thing as a free lunch!

Amongst Lady Magnon's Christmas presents, I usually add a year's subscription to one of her favourite magazines. Typically Elle Deco, Paris Match, or Elle à Table.

Some years back, I noticed in one of her mags an advert for a wine appreciation club called 'Expert Club'. After enlisting they would send you a free gift, then later inform you of their special offers of 'fine wines'; there was no obligation to buy anything. I happily subscribed.

They sent me the above Waiter's Friend as my free gift. I always prefer to use these rather than the standard corkscrews, and this particular one is of extremely good design and quality.

I believe the 'Expert Club' soon went bust (the name was later used by supermarket chain Intermarché), but I still regularly use my free gift. Who ever thought of sending out such 'freebies' by post must have made a very poor financial calculation.

There may be no such thing as a free lunch, but free corkscrews; yes! I can't think of any other free gift I've received that was nearly as good.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Mogg-Mania or Moggalomania (take your choice).

Following on from yesterday's page; I doubt if it will happen, but this man keeps being being touted as a future British PM.

Over the recent Summer months Rees-Mogg has gone from obscure backbencher to front page news. Ever since he named his sixth child 'Sixtus', he has been called both a 'toff from a bygone age', and the 'hope for a Greater Britain'; depending on what colour of newspaper you read. 

I'm afraid I know very little of our Jacob. He received an upper 2nd in History from Trinity Oxford, he drives a 1936 3.5 T Series Bentley, and he's a supporter of Somerset Cricket Club. He is also anti same-sex marriage, and anti abortion, which doesn't win him many friends. His superior educational credentials would also rule him out from being admired by anyone to the left of centre. 

His first foray into politics was in 1997 when he contested the Scottish constituency of Central Fife, where he carried out his canvassing accompanied by his nanny. It was said at the time that Rees-Mogg couldn't understand a single word of the local broad Scottish accents; nor could they understand him. He was not elected!

A future PM? Probably not, but he'd be a lot of fun as a future Mr Speaker!

Friday, 6 October 2017

The difference between the parties.

Thank goodness that the Political Party Conference season it now over.

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I have often said that the Socialists have one major problem; their charming supporters!

Can you imagine a Conservative supporter hanging effigies of Corbyn or Abbott beneath a bridge with the slogan 'Hang the Marxists'? Of course not.

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Did any witless fool try to disturb Corbyn's speech at Brighton? Of course not.

There's no doubt about it, Socialism boasts of its juvenile pranks, just as it boasts of its equally juvenile policies. The Tories are somewhat better behaved, and, thankfully, far more responsible.

Maybe that's because at their conference they mostly looked like very old age pensioners.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Neil Young - Harvest Moon

Today there was, is, or will be, a Harvest Moon. Here is Neil Young with his beautiful song celebrating the event.

I just love this song; and its funny video.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Act in haste...

There was panic in the Magnon household; my favourite old potato peeler had gone missing, and Lady M needed to peel Apples. 

She took to her iPad, whilst I took to the compost bucket.

Lady M ordered a replacement industrial pack of peelers, whilst I rummaged amongst a pile of potato peelings and worse.

My spirits were raised when I found my old friend at the bottom of the bucket, but too late; Lady M had already confirmed her order to Amazon and there was no going back.

Her hastily ordered 3-pack arrived yesterday, and although they may at first sight look similar, they are in fact total rubbish imitations.

My treasured old one is made of wood, string and stainless steel. The modern equivalent is plastic and poor quality steel.

Now that my faithful 65 year old peeler has been found, the new ones will be confined to the back of the 'rarely used' cupboard; just in case. Somehow I fear they may NEVER be used.

I may even bury them in the garden. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Thames and Hudson.

When I was a wee lad of just 14, you may be surprised to learn that I became a Latin Scholar. Somehow in my school entrance exam I'd managed to score the highest marks in the Latin paper of my entry year; a staggering 90%.

My Prep' School Classics master was amazed, I was amazed, and just about everyone I knew was amazed.

Attached to the kudos of being a Latin Scholar was an annual bursary of 13 guineas which had to be spent on books. It was also part of the deal that I wrote an annual letter to the bursary committee about which books had been chosen, along with a reasonable critique; about 1000 words was enough.

My Latin studies didn't last for too long. My new teacher was tedious, and made the study of Latin a total bore rather than a pleasure. However my bursary continued for my full 4 years at school.

There was never a question in my mind as to what type of books I would purchase; they HAD to be books about Painting or Sculpture, and the best bet for someone like myself (at that time) were the Thames and Hudson 'World of Art' paperback publications that were very popular, and cheap.

It must be said that the illustrations were very poor, but they gave a general idea.

I have no idea how many books I bought over the four years, but the bookshelf in my study became stuffed with them; friends borrowed them at such a rate that I was obliged to use a Lending Library style system to keep track of who had what.

I only have a dozen or so here in France, the others are in boxes back in England. I still look at them occasionally, although with Google now at my fingertips, referring to them has become rare.

I would never get rid of them. They are like old friends!

Monday, 2 October 2017


I must admit that I was not over enthusiastic about having an Olive tree, but now that it's there, I'm determined to process the fruits.

The tree is young, and the crop small, but I have consulted Signor Google (Olé) and he has given me a simple process to follow. This year is just an experiment, but even so I hope he's right.

Each individual Olive was given a whack with a kitchen hammer to break the skins (I'm sure people in Spain or Greece have a simple machine for this) then I put them all into a jar of cold water. This water must be changed every day for a week, and the glass jar thoroughly cleaned at each change. This, apparently takes away all the bitter juices.

The Olives will then be put into in a brine, consisting of water, salt and vinegar, and stored away somewhere cool.

I will let you know later how things went. Signor Google says it's all very easy; we'll see!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Injury Scare.

About two months ago I awoke with a nasty pain in my upper right arm, up by my shoulder.

I imagine that I must have pulled or torn a muscle during the night, so I rested said arm for about three weeks, hoping it would heal.

Then our wood arrived, and I helped unload it without any problem; the arm seemed to have healed quite well, although I was still in some pain.

Rather stupidly, after my neighbours had left, I covered the wood with a tarpaulin, and moved a huge lump of tree trunk to hold it down at one end. As I was shifting the lump of wood I suddenly felt the most horrible tearing in my upper arm, and realised at once that I'd just undone the three weeks of healing. I was rightly furious with myself!

At this time of year there's so much that needs to be done. We still need to mow, there are logs to be sawn, the pool needed to be thoroughly cleaned and closed-down, and Haddock's needs to be weeded dug-over and tidied. Everything seems to require the use of strong arms. I felt totally buggered, and seriously wondered if the damage would be permanent; I could hardly lift my arm.

More than a month has now passed, and I have recently managed to start the mower without further damage, and I have also managed to start the chainsaw. I still have considerable pain in my upper arm, but I'm taking things gently, and am hoping that the pain will go in time. I still feel as if someone has given me a really hard punch on my arm.

I've been feeling quite depressed about this simple injury; not being able to complete all those Autumn/Winter tasks would have been disastrous. We rely 99% on sawn logs for our heating, etc.

I'm now feeling more confident, but I'm certainly not being complacent. It's permanently at the back of my mind that the same could easily happen again, and I'm praying that I can get through winter without that happening.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Rikki Fulton.

This is mostly for the amusement of those who used to watch 'Top of the Pops' on UK TV.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Season of Quinces and smelly uselessness.

Yup, it's that time of year again. the wheelbarrow is out and being filled with Quinces to be taken to the compost heap.

Lady Magnon has made Quince jelly and Membrillo, and now the rest will be chucked. I'll keep one or two for roasting with Pork, but otherwise.....

We've had a good crop of Apples, but so far they are not keeping too well. I don't suppose we'll have any left after mid-October; they seem to be rotting as soon as they're picked.

It's been a funny old year so far.

Thursday, 28 September 2017


One of my this Summer's tasks was to get the boys to draw portraits of each other. I'm hoping this will now become an annual event.

Above is Harvey J's drawing of Ollie.

And this is Ollie's drawing of Harvey J.

I think they need to hone their drawing skills a bit, but the seeds of genius have been sown!

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Desert Island Pictures.

Imagine you are standing outside The World Art Gallery, and in the tradition of Desert Island Discs, you are invited to select just 8 paintings to take to your desert island. Every work of any merit is found inside the gallery; you must select just 8.

Here are a few favourites that come to MY mind.

1. Spencer's Self Portrait.1914
2. Matisse's Red Studio. 1911
3. Kitaj's The Red Banquet. 1960
4. Derain's Bateaux dans le Port, Collioure. 1905
5. Schmidt-Rottluff's Summer. 1913
6. Dors Carrington's Portrait of Strachey 1916
7. Jawlensky's Still Life. 1909
8. Kandinsky's Composition No 2. 1910

Kandinsky claimed to have painted the very first 'abstract' painting in around 1913, and I have decided to chose nothing pre-1900. All the above pictures I would look at (and admire) on a daily basis. Some I would admire simply for their beauty, others would remind me of a life elsewhere.

Every time I visit The Tate, I go directly to look at Spencer's portrait (illustrated).

Now, tell me some of the one's you'd take to your desert island (if indeed any).

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Guess the ailment!

What ails a boy who has his feet in a big bowl of warm watery Epson Salts?

When I was small it was a cup of hot Bovril and some bread. These days it's a fruity Yoghurt with a luxury foot spa.

So, what is he suffering from? Dropsy? The Vapours? In-growing toe nails?

No, after a long day running on the beach his sandals had rubbed sores onto his feet, and out came the healing Epsom Salts. 

Do they work? No idea, but I suppose it can't do any harm. The Yoghurt works; that I do know! 

Monday, 25 September 2017

A Sunday Walk.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day, that we decided to leave the confines of home, and take Bok off to one of his favourite haunts. 

This 'designated' walk is at nearby Lavaur, and follows an old glacial valley between reasonably high rocky escarpments. 

The area is covered in mossy mounds, all sorts of ferns, and (usually) gently flowing streams; yesterday these were mostly dry.

As usual the path was very quiet, but Bok did manage to make one new friend. He bumped into Rick; the recently acquired dog belonging to nearby neighbours Sue and Paul.

For all of you who've been cooing over Rick on Sue's page, I can assure you that he's even more beautiful in real life!

It's amazing who you bump into out in the wilds of S W France. Sue and Paul's daughter, Sarah from Oz, was also enjoying the walk with them. 

On our return home, Lady M had another swim, and refused to let me close down the pool. Brrrrr again!

p.s. Silly me, I should have taken a photo of Bok and Rick together.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Final dip

With Swedish blood coursing through her tungsten veins, Lady Magnon threw caution to the nordic winds, and decided to have her final swim of 2017 in water temperature of about 20 C. Brrrrr.

Did I go in? Did I hell!

Today (Sunday) we close the pool. It's been cleaned, the cover is ready, and the water has had it pre-winter dose of Clor Choc.

I hate saying 'goodbye' to the pool, it'll now be about 8 or 9 months before we'll open up again for 2018.

She's OK. I stood Lady M in front of a heater; she soon de-frosted!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Omelettes for lunch.

One Cepe and nine Parasols; not a bad start to the mushroom season. We also have a few field mushrooms in the paddock.

The lot above (or part of them) provided us with a really delicious Omelette for lunch yesterday, and I'm hoping that upcoming forays will provide a lot more.

It's still dark as I write, but I shall be out there in a couple of hours!

Friday, 22 September 2017

Nice Aussie apartment. Mermaid Beach.

I just know that you'll all be going to The Commonwealth Games on the Aussie Gold Coast in April 2018, and you'll be looking for a nice apartment. Rentals will be as scarce as hens' teeth, so best to book well in advance (now).

This sort of thing looks good. Very comfortable, all mod-cons, security, pleasant pool, and just a three minute walk from Broadbeach's fabulous beach.

Perfect for the upcoming Games, visiting Surfer's Paradise, or even for wearing your flares at Byron Bay.

Details can be found here.....


Thursday, 21 September 2017

Tory Rory.

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With a leadership crisis possibly looming in the Conservative Party, may I propose Rory as a future replacement.

He may not have 'film star' looks, but he could be a rising star in other respects.

I am putting my reputation on the line, and am placing an imaginary Ten Euro note on Rory Stewart becoming leader of the Conservative Party (and therefore Prime Minister) some time in the future.

His educational credentials are exemplary. Dragon, Eton, Balliol (PPE), 2nd Lieutenant Black Watch, and several post grad' positions with the Foreign Service, including Indonesia, Montenegro, and S Iraq. Somewhere amongst all that, he also found time to write books about Iraq and Afghanistan, and tutor the young princes William and Harry. He is multi-lingual, and a member of The Athenaeum.

An MP since 2010, the 44 year old's present position is as Minister of State for International Development.

The Conservatives are top-heavy with responsible intellectuals, but Rory shines out. It's a pity one can't say the same about those Merry Marxists on the opposition benches; they would absolutely HATE Mr Stewart. His superior intellect and qualifications are everything they fight, and attempt to legislate, against. Never mention 'meritocracy' to a Socialist!

Don't let me down Rory; Ten Euros is a lot of money, even if it is simply in the ether.

In the meantime if an urgent replacement is needed for Mrs May I propose either Sir Michael Fallon, Philip Hammond, or just for fun why not the rebellious Jacob Rees-Mogg; that'll give Rory a few years for some essential extra experience.

Of course there's always Boris!

Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Spot the Difference.

Rotting fruit beneath a nearby Pear tree.

Absolutely nothing beneath this Walnut tree.

The effects of our late Spring frost are now being felt throughout. We have no walnuts, and very few grapes.

Normally this Walnut tree (above) would be dropping nuts by the hundreds, and as no-one gathers them there would usually be a considerable mess of crushed nuts and shells covering the road. This year the road is clear and clean.

Last Saturday I asked my Vigneron what, if any, his harvest would be, and he reckons he will produce about 35% of his usual amount.

Such is life. One never knows what's around the corner; especially in the countryside.

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Los Albertos - 'Fall From Grace'.

My very favourite 'local band' are Brighton's own Los Albertos. Named after the pub' where they used to drink, and eventually formed the band (The Albert), they are a bunch of wayward, very talented, Brightonians who play great ska, klezmer, and other up-beat music. When I was living in Brighton I would often see them at the infamous Komedia Club; there was never a dull moment.

This should get the blood flowing on a cool autumn morning. Looks like it was recorded at the Komedia too.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Aunty on the Slippery Slope?

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I hear that the BBC will no longer be asking for details of 'qualifications' on a job-applicant's CV. The Socialist-heavy corporation has decided that it has too many well qualified, ex-Oxbridge intellectuals, and it needs to dumb-down and diversify.

There is, of course, good argument for employing those who are simply good at their job, but to purposefully exclude those who are also 'well educated' seems to me like cutting off one's own feet.

I have no personal knowledge of the interior workings of the BBC, but I do know that I actively prefer meritocracy to purposeful dumbing-down. Could you imagine the words 'Ivy League alumni need not apply' attached to a top-job advert in the US? Of course not!

The only person I know who worked for 'Aunty' was my old school friend AY. At school he was mostly interested in drama and the plastic arts, then went on to receive a poor degree (a Desmond) in Law from a non-Oxbridge university. He later became the Creative Director of the BBC and presented their 'Arena' arts programme. I am trying to imagine a less knowledgeable (or even a better qualified) person than A doing the job; I can't. He fitted-in into his role perfectly, and his non-Oxbridge education played little part in his obvious success.

However, finding the very best person for any job should always be the aim. Ideally people aspiring to fill the country's top positions will be well educated (at Oxbridge if needs be), have a bucket-full of common sense, and will know his/her subject inside-out.

I hope that never changes. If it does; we're lost.

The old Yorkshire ruse of shouting down a mine shaft, saying that the first eleven men up will be playing cricket for The County on Saturday, may have worked in theory; but best not try it.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Is nothing sacred?

As usual on a Saturday morning, yesterday I went to our tiny local market to buy wine, eggs, and bread (I showed the above picture a while back).

On delivery of my half dozen eggs, the nice man explained to me that as from today (yesterday) a new law says that each egg has to be stamped.

As far as I can see it says 1FRdou01. What this means is that they are free range (1), they come from France (FR), they come from this location (dou), and this is the number of the hen house they live in (01, I imagine my man only has one hen house).

It rather saddens me to see these red ink letters all over my free range, locally produced, eggs. Why can't these meddling bloody bureaucrats just leave things alone. 

It may be just another minor liberty taken away from the small producer and his client; but the meddling EU 'politicians' (I use the word cautiously) will soon make sure that no-one, and no activity, escapes their bloody clutches.

I much preferred my eggs un-inked.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

All change.

Lady Magnon has been moving pictures around. She has decided that a couple of my old self portraits should come out from the depths. You may have seen both of these before.

Student portrait circa 1970.


Grumpy old git (unfinished) portrait circa 2004 (complete with cobwebs).

I wonder how long it'll take for her to get fed up with these two; no doubt they'll be back amongst the Spiders before too long.

Friday, 15 September 2017

Harvest 2017.

Oy; you missed one!

Thursday, 14 September 2017

More scribbling.

Unusually for me, I've been asked to show some of my own work after yesterday's posting, to illustrate what I meant by 'understanding the calligraphic nature of Ms Mehretu's work'.

I don't like to use this platform as a gallery, although I have sold one job having shown a photo (which was nice).

No, I'm just putting these two up as an illustration of that calligraphic quality I spoke of yesterday. That's all.

Think Chinese calligraphy. Think zen. Think minimalism. Think time. Think energy. Think direct manhandled frenzy.

Sorry about the quality of the pix. The lower has now been sold, the upper one still awaits a considerable donation from a discerning connoisseur.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Julie Mehretu

I love this work, I love the scale, and I love the process.

I feel as if I have a tiny something in common with Ms Mehretu; the calligraphic quality of her work is something I understand, although in my own case I work on a very different scale. It's a tad like speaking the same language. Her painting above measures 27 by 32 feet.

Ms Mehretu is an American of Ethiopian origin. This painting, that she is seen working on above, is one of two that are apparently the worlds largest. I think they're entitled HOWL, eon (1 and 2).

If you happen to be in San Francisco, you can now see both works at the Museum of Modern Art. Otherwise you could consult Google Images; an example below.

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Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Season's offerings.

The Chestnuts have just started falling. With hardly any rain over the past month or so, I expect the crop will be smaller than usual, but still enough to have a few roasted over the fire on a cold night. 

Also in season are the Quinces. This year Lady Magnon has made both Membrillo and Quince Jelly. It remains to be seen if either will be eaten. I bought a Basque version of Manchego cheese, specially so we could experience the classic combination of the cheese with Membrillo. Not bad!

Of course early Autumn wouldn't be complete without plenty of Figs. This is our daily lunchtime quota.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Preparing for winter

This is our Oak. The darker half (on the right) is what has just been delivered.

As opposed to our usual Oak, this is Red Oak. It was planted in rows, then thinned; ours are the first thinnings that were cut about 4 years ago. I'm told it burns even better than the other non-planted wild Oak. We'll see.

And this is our Chestnut. I think you can see where yesterday's delivery starts. It was sawn and split just before delivery.

I always feel happy when our wood stocks are newly replenished. We should have enough for about two years or more. In all we have about 12 Cubic Metres of good dry wood.

All that remains now is to saw it into thirds, fill the wheelbarrow, and stuff it into the burner; but not for a while yet.

I do hope we don't have too cold a winter; I really don't like the cold. I'm a sunshine boy!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

21st C Luddite?

I'm a great believer in NOT buying expensive gifts for children, especially when they stamp their feet as they demand them.

I was reading a 'social worker's' report recently about delivering presents to 'needy' children last Christmas. She claimed there was never any shortage of hi-tech games, fags, bottles of Vodka, or giant TV sets in their chaotic homes, and the kindly offered simple gifts were mostly thrown onto a pile in a corner.

The above Cricket bat is a good example of my attitude. When my oldest showed interest in playing the game (aged about 8), I took a lump of wood and made a bat for him. The words Botham Power Driver, Test Special, and Boundary Searcher (on the back), were added for authenticity! All these years later we still use the bat, which has become something of an institution. (N.B. He nows plays for his town's club, and has had a series of very expensive bats)

When my youngest was also about 8 he wanted computer games. Instead I bought him a pretty basic computer (Amstrad) and encouraged him to design and create his own games, which he did very successfully. He actually preferred the act of creating the games to playing them; a good lesson was learned. (N.B. His work is now computer based)

I rather despair at all the technology bestowed upon children. A bat ball and tree stump, a skipping rope, or an old bike, are far better presents for children. I'm sure they give them not only more fun, but also an increased sense of values. This isn't frugality, as some might imagine, but a way of getting children to use their imaginations; which can only be a GOOD thing.

Somehow I suspect that things could go very wrong for post-millennials if we're not careful.

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Money, money, money.

In preparation for taking my youngest son's car in for it's bi-annual roadworthiness test on Monday, I thought I'd clean out the storage boxes in the front doors.

Other than bits of half eaten biscuit, unopened sachets of Tomato ketchup, several torches, a broken Slinky, and a whole sack-full of disgusting bits of waste paper, I found the above.

Yes, I've counted most of it (not the brown shrapnel), and it came to a staggering €50+. Also in the collection were several Aussie Dollars, some Swedish Kronas, a couple of Singapore coins of unknown value, and a few items of indistinguishable origin.

I am guilty myself of discarding small value brown coins (we probably all are), but never anything above 20 Centimes. For goodness sake, 1€ or 2€ pieces are actual spending money!

I'm going to have to have a serious talk with that boy; his attitude towards 'cash' will have to change!

(some time later) Lady Magnon did some further cleaning, and found another €5 on the floor, bringing the total to above €55. Unbelievable.

Friday, 8 September 2017

DIY Medic.

I have been hearing in Mono for the past month or so; my left ear has been non-functioning.

So, what to do? I bought myself some expensive drops, and found a syringe that was left-over from some dog medication, and sorted the problem myself.

Several days of oiling the inner workings, then some warm water injected into into the depths, and Bob's your uncle; I hear again. Needless to say, there was quite a bit of muck inside.

I did wonder if a blast of WD40 wouldn't have done the same job as my expensive Cérulyse. WD40 is based on fish oil, whereas the stuff I bought is Lavender and Almond.

Being deaf is very unnerving, it's like living in a parallel universe of exclusion. I feel sorry for those who have to endure a whole life of deafness. Luckily mine was temporary, and I was able to return to my normal state through a very simple procedure.

If only all medical issues were as easy to rectify.

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