Tuesday, October 29, 2019


Clocks have gone back. Evenings drawing in. Kitchen log burner back in action. Winter looms. Autumn colours abound. Trees are turning from greens to yellows, oranges, reds and browns. Rich colours. Up in the woods it's getting damper. And mistier. Carpeted with brown leaves. And out in the fields up Sprocket Hill I look up at the skies for a glimpse of cranes heading south. Haven't spotted any yet, but they're there, somewhere. Keep forgetting to take my camera. Always take my mobile phone though. Keep forgetting to switch it on. Comes in handy for taking snaps. Not as good as a camera, but better than nowt. Trouble is, when I spot something worth snapping, like a deer or a shaft of sunlight, it's gone by the time the mobile gets switched on, loaded up and turned to camera setting. Most annoying. Fine for doing leafy trees though. Well, when I say fine, I really mean verging on adequate. Colours need a bit of fiddling with computery jiggery pokery to add a bit of sparkle. Cheating maybe, but I call it artistic license. Fun and games. Keeps moi amused.


It's that fungi time of year. The local chemist has dug out the dusty old window display showing which fungi are edible and which are not. Personally, I find it hard to tell the differences, apart from those red ones which even I know are rubbish.

After that dry summer the rains have finally arrived which has led to all sorts of fungi appearing up in the woods and around the fields and roadside verges. Many of them have sprouted up in circles - well, not really circles, more sort of arcs. Very interesting. Others are on their own and flat topped while others have shot up looking like..., how can I put this politely..., er, big willies, and others resemble puff balls or those big radar domes on the North Yorkshire moors, but I don't think they're there any more so it's a bad example. Ho hum.

I understand our Creuse region is a top fungi area producing whopping cepes which are often sent up to fancy Parisienne restaurants to be added to their menus at ridiculously high prices. But I could be wrong. Has been known. And neighbour Christian often collects edible fungi which Isabelle cooks up but, like all country lads, Christian never reveals where he digs up his bounty. Top secret.

Me, I'm just a happy fungi spotter.


Thursday, September 12, 2019

73 Bally Erics

(Continued from '73 Formentera' and '73 Ibiza' postings - see below.) This is the third category of happy snaps snapped on our holiday jaunt in Four Men Terror in the Bally Erics. Herein are various grub related piccys:

And now for some snappettes wot ain't exactly art gallery standard. The first two were Georgie's attempt to operate the phone camera after she'd downed a couple of sniffs of vino. Third time lucky shows myself (as a chumette gleefully pointed out) in the classic final Death In Venice pose, but minus the hair dye. The fourth piccy needs no further description. It's a beauty.

73 Formentera

(Continued from '73 Ibiza' posting below.) Ferry docked at Formentera mid-afternoon Sunday. Immediately attacked the dockside ice cream parlour where Georgie and Don had a double and I had a single, then fancied a coffee so went to the caff further along (it's less busy and frenetic than the one by the ferry arrivals) next to the Jap restaurant. Then picked up the rental car - a woefully underpowered Fiat Panda that couldn't pull the skin off a rice pudding, but it's perfectly adequate for getting around this lazy, scooter infested isle.

Stopped off at the supermarket to get grub, water and vino, then boogied on to the self catering shack. First time we came here a few years back, we couldn't find the place. Spent hours searching for the right track with no success. Eventually found it down some dusty trail that wasn't signposted. This time we went straight there. Bliss. Two weeks here. A four minute stroll from the sea. Ideally situated on the gorgeous Playa de Migjorn beach. Forget the telly and computer, just do nowt.

Amazing how two weeks just flashes by when you're on holiday. Looking back, it was just a blur. Which isn't to say we did things at breakneck speed - far from it. We were busy doing nothing, apart from lounging around, swimming, driving to places we knew, driving to places we didn't know, visiting beach bars, meandering along beachside walkways in the midday sun, visiting more beachside bars, getting irate at not being able to find parking spaces (busy time of year for this increasingly popular holiday destination), being nosey and listening out for English accents (not so many this year - I blame the fall of the pound), being surprised at the number of nattering Italians (especially the many gangs of women standing waist deep in the clear blue sea). Almost forgot - apparently it hasn't rained in Formentera all summer. But, sure enough, it bucketed down on one night and day during a thunderstorm with excellent midnight lightning.

Formentera's changed. Inevitably I suppose. When I first came here way back in the '70s it was quite hippyish and underdeveloped, lazing largely undiscovered in the shadow of Ibiza. Now it's been discovered by the masses, which, in many ways, is the kiss of death. Great shame really. But, hopefully, the powers that be will stop further development by moneyed financiers and property speculators and the like, but as we all know money doesnt talk, it swears. Hopefully this wonderful little isle will resist further change. If not, I fear for its future.

Our little beach bar is scruffy. I love it. It's a friendly place to sit with damp swimming trunks and a cool beer or vin rosè while ogling the distant horizon across the sea. And it serves a cracking paella too. But, on the other hand, there's a flashy new beach bar further east, past the Blue Bar, that I visited for the first time on this jaunt. Wandered in just as the staff were preparing for the evening diners. Asked for a vin rosado. Wish I hadn't. Place was a restaurant not really a bar. Catered for this new breed of rich tourist. Felt like an unwelcome stranger. As I said, Formentera's changing.

Had some great swims in the clear sea. Fave spots are at Es Pujols (just to the right of the main beach - good bar there too), Es Calo (tiny beach below the caff with an easily accessed snorkelling bit), another good beach to the west of Es Pujols and, of course, our fab Migjorn beach. A bit further down (east) from our shack is the brilliant Sa Platgeta restaurant where we noshed my birthday evening grub. Visited it for the first time on this trip. Have every intention of visiting it again if we're lucky enough to head to the Bally Erics in the not too distant future.

On our last day Georgie and Don had a final morning swim while I sat in the beach bar waiting for it to open. The sea was mirror calm. Amazing. Then packed up, dropped the car off, ferried back to Ibiza, slobbed around in a couple of cafés, killed some more time, noshed a tortilla, fed bread to some pigeons then caught the bus to the airport (taxis are for lazy sods), faffed about, flew back to Lyon, arrived at midnightish, collapsed in the airport hotel, picked up the car, drove to Aubusson, collected Hamish and went home to a big pile of wood. Geo and Don spent a week stacking - I lent a hand but back pain restricted movement. Then we drove Don to Clermont Ferrand (see view photo) airport and she flew home to Londres. Hols over.