What’s happening to the French?

Just been there and before I go on about them let me say that there’s something I like a lot about the French. In fact, there are many things that I like about the French. They tend never to apologize, we are always saying sorry. They tend to think that the response to something going wrong is, of course, your fault. It may well be, but in France, it is always the case. Even when it’s not.

Another thing I like about the French is the food and their attitude to it, but here something is going terribly wrong. The French are able to cook like almost no other nationality, and they have exported their skills. We’ve learned a lot of them, and put them into practice. We’ve learned from a lot of other people, as we had no one to learn from over here. Apart from Saint Delia and that geezer wot is saving our kid’s school dinners. Elisabeth David brought us olive oil, and a load of recipes from the Med, when the prevailing wisdom here was that olive oil should inserted in the ear for an earache. Now we actually use it on salad in place of salad cream which was not cream and was not pleasant. Our salads were n’t up to much either.

One could get a decent meal almost anywhere in France, and motorway service areas served food that was passable and coffee that was so strong it would enable the sleepiest of drivers to stay awake and alert for at least 400 miles per cup. And it was served in a white china cup. Not anymore. Service areas are awash with coffee machines and if you do go and get a ‘cup’ from the counter, it will more than likely be a paper one. Whereas over here our Service Stations are better than they have ever been. The one in Gloucester, where there is no branding of any kind is a beacon of good taste and a magnet for local people searching for good food items.Take a look or call in Gloucester Services and these days one does not have to go far to search for good food in the UK. It’s everywhere. Whereas in France they have taken backward steps.

It’s time for them to learn a few of their own lessons from us. To import what they exported to us: the love of food and coffee. I am naturally hoping that their new President will be reading this and will be taking steps to improve matters quickly before it’s too late.

I’m not expecting him to apologise. They never do. That’s one thing that will never change.


 

Another feature of my trip was a meeting with a French woman who was an English teacher. She spoke superb English without the slightest Fench accent. Yet we have Frenchmen over here who’ve lived here for years, like that chef Raymond Buerre Blanc or whatever he’s called, sounds like e as joost left le bateau een Porsmoof. Now there’s a word in English that the French can never pronounce: Portsmouth. It’s torture for them. They get their own back by naming a French south western seaside town : Royan.This is a word beyond the ability of an English person to pronounce properly. So we’re even.

Au revoir. Vive La France!

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This is me in typical French holiday fashion gear, it was chucking it down.
As we say: We brought the English weather with us. Yes, I’d packed it with the
shorts I’m wearing now I’m back in England.

 

 

Just got back from the Isle of Skye…

…and still, I have my trousers.

A week’s walking with 2 Canadians 3 Americans and two Brits, my other half included and a Scottish Leader. Scottish Leader was brilliant all round and the others all very good company too. We were all there to discover the same thing, that is the delights of walking in Skye. There were two ‘elephants in the room’: Trump and May, but amazingly we all seemed to be of the same mind. This was something of a blessing.

We all had a lot to talk about and loads of walking to do. I’ll let the pictures do the talking this time and it’s back to cartoons next time, rather than “What I did on my holidays”

Can’t go without mentioning the weather: generally good, sunny in patches, windy enough to keep the midges grounded for the most part. The rest of the UK was apparently cold and very wet, but we missed it.

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This is where “Ring of Bright Water’ was written and where Gavin Maxwell lived and wrote the book.  Ring of Bright Water

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Still life with seaweed

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Beach which has seaweed that has turned to this:

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This is the graveyard where Flora Macdonald is buried along with fashion designer Alexander McQueen. I wonder if he would have liked his headstone, the location could not be beaten.

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We climbed so high it felt like we were looking down from an aircraft, the light changed every few seconds and the views were just amazing as you can see here. What you might not get from this is the huge scale of the mountains. On a clear day, you can see Japanese tourists in thin clothing and designer handbags tottering up to view the strange people in boots walking the hills in rainproof gear and waterproof gaiters and gloves, in June!


 

Three stages of artwork, is it ever finished? No.

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This is the first rough, or the idea stage for one of my drawings for a coming exhibition here in Cheltenham in August, that I published here some months ago. Here are some links to refresh your memory:

More on my Pont project

Pont: Graham Laidler, and the British Character

A lot of the drawings are about ” The British Character” and are loosley based on the works of a cartoonist from the 1930’s called “Pont” but who’s real name was Graham Laidler. I’ve been helped by the Cartoon Museum to try and contact his descendents so that they can come along to the show sometime, but although they have forwarded my details to some surviving cousins, they have sadly not been in touch.

Anyhow, just to illustrate how these things are coming together, here’s the drawing above in progress, this next image being the next stage from that above, with the tools of the trade: Pentel sign pen, a thicker marker, some of Dr Ph Martin’s Bleedproof white to pick out highlights and correct some of the errors, and some soft grey pastels to get the half tone for the final, plus some erasers to correct the half tone here and there. There is much washing after this stage to get the pastels off where I’ve rubbed the drawing and pastel has transferred to my hands or my face. Fixative makes sure it stays mainly on the paper. The drawings are done on layout paper and glued to card with studio gum before the pastels and amendments are made. No pencils are harmed in the preparation of this artwork! I like pencils but hardly ever use them.

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Then below here is the final stage. This is the image after it has been photographed and made into a digital file for any last minute alterations and faffing. This is one of quite a few drawings that will soon be available as prints from my other site: My other site

I’ll keep everyone informed on progress towards the exhibition and will be publishing more in the series as we get closer to the August deadline.

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A prediliction for visiting the houses of the gentry
THE BRITISH CHARACTER

 

No such thing as a Greek postcode?

I’ve had a break from blogging as we took a trip to Spetses in Greece to visit a long standing friend and fine printmaker/artist. It’s a long trip that’s worth it. Flight to Athens and a night at Piraeus, the nearby port, before departure the next morning on the ferry. The joy of dropping in on a couple of other islands on the way including Hydra, where Leonard Cohen found himslef in the 60’s. What was he so bloody miserable about? I was in Manchester where one had the rain to be miserable about, and his bloody records did not help.

I was apparently studying art and design, though this was not always apparent to anyone else,  Ros was there too and already showed talent. I remember being very impressed with her stylish haircut, an odd east London accent, and the fact that she’d been on “Ready Steady Go”, one of the orginal pop programmes that was on ITV in those days, as well has her artistic abilities of course!

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Are artists like jackdaws? Can’t resist collectiong bits and bobs, this is the wall outside Ros’s place, you’ll never find it, there’s no postcode, but at least you get to see it. For the real deal go to her website: Ros’s site  It’s well worth a click. 


We were on our way to see her and her hubby, as well as to get in some walking. It was February when we set off and I’d packed nice warm clothes. Some never came out of the suitcase. Or accommodation was in sniffing distance of the bakery and in the old town, recommend staying there, though take a sense of direction with you, only a couple of streets have names. Apparently you find places by knowing the names of who lives there.I was looking forward to seeing a postman with a look of total confusion, but it appears that Ros’s post is just delivered to a bar in town where they know she and hubby pop into regularly.

What we found on Spetses was wondefuly scenery, very friendly people and weather to match their sunny dispositions, we were lucky in some respects that we’d caught a good week. I shall blog some more about the place over the coming week with tales of dogs on bikes ( really ) and some unusual community singing, but for the time being take a look at this little video, the result of a walk to the top of the island. No road noise, there are no cars apart from the odd taxi on Spetses. In the distance the Peloponese mountains of the mainline with a dusting of snow on the peaks and a bird in the background. Anyone know what it is?

You may also hear a bee landing on me at the finale to the video. It too was friendly.

 

 

 

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Finely balanced with good quality socks.

We British know how to holiday, get yourself a half decent camera and a strong strap to hang it around your sunburnt neck, decent back pack with spares for the camera and a sausage roll to keep your energy level at the max and venture forth. Strong sturdy sun hat that you’ve had for several summers and has seen action on cricket grounds around the country and then get out there. Oh and don’t forget the regulation black socks to go with a decent pair of brogues, it might be hot out there but that’s no excuse for shoddy footwear.