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.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Without Question, The Very Best Pub In The World.


If you take the A26 from Crowborough towards Tunbridge Wells (in god's own county of Sussex), after about a couple of miles, on the right, you'll come across a classic old Pub set back from the road called The Boars Head.

From the outside you can see at once that this is no ordinary boozer. It's low doors, tile hung facade, and huge chimney stack, tells you that you are about to enter a beer drinker's Jerusalem.

At this time of year, there is always a fire slowly burning in the huge 17th century inglenook; no enclosed wood-burner here, just flames and a wisp of smoke.

The beer is courtesy of the wonderful Harvey's in Lewes, and your pork pie, ploughman's, or pack of pork scratchings will be served to you by a beautiful Sussex wench with a welcoming smile. What could be better?

OK, I've lived less than half my life in England (and about 14 of those years were pre-beer), but I've still managed to assess the standards of many a Pub, and I can assure you that this is THE VERY BEST.

(Don't believe anything anyone might mention to the contrary)

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Preacher Man.

We had the bloody Jehovah's Witnesses around again recently. No matter how rude I am to them, they always come back for more.

I'm pleased to say that this time one of them recognised me, and he immediately apologised for their visit.

This video made me laugh; sorry, but the sound quality is awful.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Hand it over!

I was recently going through an old photo album, and came across some amusing letters.

One of my late father-in-law's postings was to Nepal. Much of his work involved 'pressing the flesh', partying, getting naughty Brits out of prison, holding banquets for visiting dignitaries, etc. All typical diplomatic stuff.

He also received invitations to most major events; one of which was the above. The marriage of his friend the Maharaja's son to the eldest Princess daughter of His Majesty the King of Nepal in 1948.

Sadly not all invitations were what they seemed, and attending weddings was out of the question. It was accepted that having a person 'outside the faith' attend a Nepalese wedding was (in those days) totally verboten, and in recompense a 'bag of money' was sent to those who were unable to witness the ceremony in person.

Of course the FO has rules, and any gifts given to diplomats over a certain value become the property of The Crown, and have to be handed over.

I wonder what the FO does with all its 'gifts'? Maybe there's some big basement somewhere in Whitehall, filled with bags of money, fancy clocks, and ceremonial swords, etc.

Even a simple old invitation from the late 40's has a story.

Sunday, 14 January 2018


I've just finished reading my good friend John Masouri's fabulous book 'Simmer Down' The Early Wailers' Story.

I lived in London between 64 and 69, just when Jamaican Ska, Rocksteady, and Reggae music was first making its presence known in the UK. I was saying to John recently that the very first graffiti I remember seeing was in the underground, somewhere around West Ken or Barons Court, and it consisted of the single word TOOTS. After that first viewing, the word TOOTS started to appear everywhere; graffiti has 'advanced' a lot since then.

Anyway, this is what all that fuss was about (many years later).

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