May we prosper in 2020

I have been flying under the radar since I last posted (before Christmas). If that seems a long time ago, it's probably because it is. And starting a new year turns the previous year into ancient history. You buy a new calendar and throw the old one away. On the whole I was glad to…

Keep on strumming

I am an enthusiastic, if very limited, musician. I don't even think of myself as a musician - and neither does anyone else! I've never been able to read music properly, I've never had a lesson and I am certainly no virtuoso on any instrument. But music means a lot to me, and not just…

La Brexoire

I didn't post in August - not once. Not because I am dead, or anything like that, but because I and my blog were on holiday in France (La BrĂ©choire, Charente) for the whole month... the whole blessed month! I was so busy doing nothing that I lost the will to blog. Once you stop…

So… back in August 1990

Anne and I were in France. It was the first time I'd been on holiday in France (apart from a week in Montmartre, 12 years earlier, dossing down in a friend's garret) although I was 35! Put that down to all those years studying Spanish and Portuguese. We were on our honeymoon (aw!) in Brittany.…

Freedom to travel

Watching the D-Day 75 Commemorations on TV has made me think, and not for the first time, how exceptionally fortunate I am, and how easy it is to take such good fortune for granted. It's obvious, when listening to British veterans of 6 June 1944 talking about their experiences, that they recall the events of…

The Cockleshell Heroes II

Last week I briefly mentioned the events that followed Operation Frankton, promising to set them in the context of rural Charente. Put briefly, Operation Frankton was a commando raid on the port of Bordeaux in early December 1942, carried out by a small unit of Royal Marines. Six folding kayaks were transported to the Gironde…

The Cockleshell Heroes I

Many people will have seen the film about this daring Royal Marine Commando raid on German naval vessels in the Gironde in 1942. Of the dozen brave men who took part in Operation Frankton only two escaped with their lives (eventually making their way home via Spain and Gibraltar). It so happens that they passed…

Je ne regrette rien

That Anne and I have had a holiday home in Charente for nearly 20 years is no secret. It is a source of constant, ineffable smugness. I wonder if we would have had the guts to do it today. With Brexit looming (I have avoided mentioning it in this blog until now), we would almost…