Friday, July 28, 2023

Juillet '23

Time flies. Almost at the end of July already. Been a good month. Long days, sunshine, and of course the Tour de France. It passed our way this year. Straight through Felletin and up the back of our hamlet across the valley. Drove up to a road junction on the Crocq road to watch the 'caravanne' pass through. Bit of a crowd there. Some locals put a table and chairs outside their roadside house. Out came the coffees and vin rosé. Not for us though. We had quiche and water. After a long wait the publicity vehicles, preceding the riders, eventually came and went. People grabbed their freebies, mostly teeshirts and hats. Then a couple of helicopters buzzed overhead. Then the riders whooshed by, followed by their support cars. Then they were gone. That was it. Went home and watched them climb to the finish line at the Puy de Dome, just outside Clermont Ferrand.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023


Garden's looking good. Loadsa poppies. Had a downpour the other day and a hailstorm. Battered the poppies to smithereens. But nae bother, new ones exploded into flower. When the sun's shining on them they look luminous red. A brilliant colour. Or is it vermillion? Interestingly, red in nature means danger, keep away, but I don't think poppies can harm. Or maybe they can through cocaine. Does cocaine come from poppies? Here I am, old as the hills, and I'm still not sure where cocaine comes from. Shall have to check. Anyways..., as I said, garden's looking good.

Monday, June 5, 2023


Living out here deep in the misty backwoods we're surrounded by fields where deer roam freely and cattle and sheep munch on the succulent grass. This being cattle country, the local farmers are kept busy with making sure their land is in top condition for their herds of beasts. One becomes aware of the farmers' hard work while strolling about on dogwalks, especially up at Sprocket Hill, which is where one particular field has seen a lot of change over the last couple of years. After being ploughed, it was re-seeded, then the grass (or was it barley or wheat or something?) grew to a height of about three feet and, recently, it was cut and baled. Now the field is back to being just grassy, but it's growing again. Went up there a couple of evenings ago and the farmer's gang were busy doing more baling and wrapping with black plastic. Had a quick word with the farmer, asked if the plastic rolls were expensive. "Oui" he said, "très chère". Had a torrential downpour the next day so the plastic did its job in keeping the hay dry. I guess some other farmers unfortunately didn't get around to wrapping their bales so they now have to dry out before storing. Noticed a few hawks circling above, looking for fieldmice which are easier to spot when the grass has been cut. Saw a hare running across another field. Unfortunately, so did Hamish, so he went off in hot pursuit. No chance of catching the hare, but it kept him busy for ten minutes, then twenty, then half an hour. An hour and a half later Hamish re-appeared, hot, panting, and covered in ticks. Picked the few visible ones off him, but there were probably others hidden in his fur. Pulled a few others of these blood-sucking nasties off him over the following days. Went up there a bit later. Hamish immediately whizzed off in hunting mode again. Another ninety minute-wait for his reluctant return. Another search for ticks. Ah, the busy routine of life out here in the backwoods.

Nothing much

I regret to say, once again, that I haven't added to this blog for ages. This is probably due to being lazy, or unsure if anyone's interested in the nothing much that goes on up here in the backwoods. Anyways..., despite nothing much happening, apart from dogwalks, I thought I'd post a few sort of recent photos which, hopefully, will be more interesting than my boring scribings.


Thursday, September 22, 2022

1996 Jaguar XJ6 3.2

We have a twenty year old 1.6 Ford Fiesta. It's practical, fairly economical and suits our needs. But, being a bit of a petrolhead, I often fancy something with a bit more poke. Which is why I occasionally wander off into the Leboncoin site (French website for buying and selling all sorts of stuff) and dribble over cars for sale at under €10k (about £9.5k). Current fave is a one owner 1996 Jaaag XJ6 3.2 with just 85000kms (about 50000miles) for €7900 (about £7250). The '94-'97 XJ6 3.2 models are widely regarded as being 'top notch' as they were produced just after Ford invested £millions into Jaguar which dramatically improved quality. However, très magnifique that it is, it's not exactly practical - too thirsty, too big, too difficult to park in little local streets, etc., but it'd be great on the open roads around these here parts! Ahem, other tasty morsels I spotted include a bright red Alfa 159 3.2 v6, a bright red Alfa 166 with a glorious 2.5 v6 Busso engine, and a 'hewn from granite' 1994 Mercedes E200 2.0 produced when the Stuttgart company was ruled by proper engineers, just before the penny-pinching economists took over and quality inevitably suffered. Ah well, think I'll stick with the Fiesta.


Thursday, September 15, 2022


Must have been around '84 when I was working in Covent Garden. I bought a brand new Yamaha RD350LC YPVS. Rode it to work, parked in a quiet alley, clicked the headlock on and went to work. Finished grafting, grabbed helmet and jacket, pottered back to the bike. Wasn't there. Nicked. This was in the days before bike nicking became rampant. Bit pissed off, to say the least. Luckily the insurance paid up, not full value but enough to think about buying another Yam. Returned to the Guildford Yamaha dealership (Portman?). Told 'em about having my lovely, brand spanking new Yam nicked and asked about buying another RD350. Interestingly, they said they were about to get a couple of the new RD500 models. Would I like to order one and pay a deposit? Would I?!! Collected the bike a couple of weeks later and rode it back to Southfields, keeping the revs low (running in). Parked it in the hallway with a chain lock. Didn't ride it to work, just at week-ends. Fab bike. Brilliant! Was sort of marketed as a road-going version of Kenny Roberts' V4 racer. Hero. I was there at Silverstone in '79 and saw that epic Roberts/Sheene race. Couldn't see who won 'cos I was in the stand at Stow, miles away from the finish line. Vids of the race are on YouTube. Well worth a look.


Wednesday, March 30, 2022


Regret to say I haven't posted here for ages. Been posting on Facebook. Mainly anti-Johnson, anti-Tory stuff. Lost a few buddies due to my rants. Didn't realise so many of them are Tory Brexiteers. Strange, because I always thought they were quite bright. I was wrong.

Anyway..., I recently posted a couple of photos of young Ukranian ladies going off to fight the war armed with guns and carrying rucksacks. Brave ladies. I presume they're just ordinary working citizens who've signed up to fight the Ruskies. Ordinary secretaries, hairdressers, business people, etc. I added the caption 'Brave Ukranian ladies off to war'. Then my sister (who I love dearly) commented "You’ve always had such scorn for our armed forces. Now you’re praising them! Make up your mind, our amazing guys and gals are so amazing." I responded with "Not entirely true. I never liked the way Dad was overlooked for promotion, presumably because he was a Territorial rather than a Regular soldier. I may be incorrect in that assumption, but that's the way I saw it. Also, he was basically a working-class lad in a profession which favoured upper-class, ex public school, officer types. That, as you rightly imply, did indeed annoy moi. Again, I may be wrong in this, but ç'est la vie. He did well to eventually become a Major when he should really have been a Colonel or Brigadier. And..., I was praising the Ukranian women soldiers, ordinary hairdressers, secretaries, business owners etc. - not the Brits who, as far as I know, haven't yet seen action out there."

 This exchange got me thinking. Yes, she has a point about my er, lack of respect for the armed forces while she, being an ex-RAF officer, naturally supports them. Another point of difference: to put it simply, she likes England and I don't. Or, more accurately, I don't like what it's become under the recent twelve years of Tory rule. It's changed (and how!). But there are some people out there who still haven't moved on since England won the World Cup in '66, and who still retain a blinkered, Little England, island mentality, despite the disasters of Brexit and the years of corrupt Tory rule.

So..., when did I start feeling this way? Interestingly, my lack of admiration for the armed forces may have been triggered by, as I mentioned, my father's slow promotion, which I'm almost certain was due to his working-class background and his enlisting in the army (1939?)  as a Territorial rather than a Regular (there is a difference). This almost certainly instilled in me a dislike for authority that remains with me to this day. Probably happened when I was about fifteen and about to leave school. At the time I was set to follow in Dad's footsteps and join the army, possibly via Welbeck and Sandhurst. Didn't happen. Didn't like the idea of saying yessir, no sir, three bags full sir, to some toffee-nosed twat. Went to art school instead. One extreme to t'other.