Saturday, June 25, 2016

Wisdom and age.

Sophie is not adjusting well to our early morning starts. A vision of something other than unalloyed loveliness greets me at the front door.

Different types of tomatoes are appearing in the greengrocer nearly every day. These come from near Toulon and were too succulent to ignore.

Pomegranates also make an appearance. On a hot humid evening Angus has started to drink champagne with a smidgen of freshly squeezed pomegranate juice in the bottom of the glass. This adds hints of tartness and depth. The secret is finding pomegranates that are ripe and sweet rather than green and sour.

And so our day comes to an end. Angus has felt strangely unsettled by the unexpected referendum result. In fact both of us have. Rather like the tiredness that comes with a bereavement. Part of this may be due to the increasingly 'shrill' view of the perfidious English on French radio and television.

In a sense a revolution has taken place. Usually 20 year olds are considered as being the most likely revolutionaries. This time it's the 60 somethings who've risen up. What happens when the 20 year olds realize what has happened  (and what a difference it will make to their futures ) has yet to be seen. 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Unexpected news.

What a shock. The UK is leaving the EU.  We've been up all night. Some decisions are just too important to sleep through. Sophie and 'The Font' sit in the orchard for a cup of coffee and a bowl of water while digesting the unexpected news. Bob and Angus head off down the ridge. Barely six and the combine harvesters are already hard at work. Clouds of chaff rising from the fields as they harvest away.

The fields at the far end of the lane already harvested. The straw tightly baled. Bob loves christening the hay bales . We take a five minute detour through the field on our way home.

At the crossroads no less than seven new calves have arrived in the night. Mothers sleep, guarding aunts glare . We pass by quickly. Bob knows better than to stare. Humans have their worries and concerns but could there be a more beautiful day to enter the world ?

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Referendum Day.

Every morning at first light Bob and Angus walk along the ridge. Most days ( if it's dry ) dog and master sit on the concrete storm drain cover and chat. The PON is happy to discuss anything. Venezuelan politics, China and land reclamation in the South China Sea, Brexit. Angus talks, his companion listens. A perfect relationship. Today, we look down into the valley and watch three deer bound through the long corn. To our left a hare, going who knows where, stops - nose high, long ears back - and sniffs the air. Above us a kestrel hovers, playing the breeze, for an impossibly long time. Important things. 

The silence is broken by the early rising builder in his lilac metallic Mitsubishi pick-up. He passes and waves. The builder's followed by a farmer going the other way in his little white Renault van. He also waves. We know it's time to turn and head home when the mechanic at the Peugeot garage races by on his motorbike. He nods at us. A troubled teenager, he got a job doing what he wanted to do, working with cars, and is now the first in to work. Untroubled and happy and with his very own motorbike and the responsibility of opening up and of dealing with the first customers. A run of small victories in each 'and'. 

As the rasp of the motor bikes exhaust drifts away I scratch Bobs head. He's told, as he's told every morning, that this is Bob's Country. Routine completed, we head off along the lane at the double. While Angus thinks about the implications of todays referendum his companions thoughts have already turned to breakfast and the fun to be had savaging his sister. 

Those little dog owner routines too unimportant to be written in a diary but too important to go completely unrecorded. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Man proposes......

At the crossroads there is a barn with a corrugated metal roof. The barn is usually home to four donkeys, one grumpy male and three females. Two weeks ago one of the females gave birth. Now there are five donkeys.

Today, the donkeys manage to open the barn door and make a break for freedom. I'm alerted to the fact that something unusual is going on by the PONs. Sophie is standing on her hind legs at the gate. Her high pitched squeak has modulated upwards by an octave. Bob, on the stump seat, with Furry Fox in his mouth , has been rendered speechless.

The donkeys amble down the lane. They eat the hydrangeas at the front gate before turning their attention to the Old Farmers hanging baskets. The dahlias in the flower beds in front of the church follow. Under the watchful eyes of the swaying Jesus the male makes short shrift of the rose bushes around the war memorial.

It's hot. The donkeys opt for a dip in the village pond.  The mayor is called. His donkey herding skills are limited. Other villagers become involved. Their donkey herding is also found wanting. The dip in the cool water rekindles the male donkeys amorous spirits. Shouts and whistles cannot deter him from what he has on his mind. At this point Angus decides he's done his civic duty and slips away.

Bob is convinced that he alone has prevented the house and garden from being overrun by these strange creatures.

Sophie demonstrates how brave she is by keeping close to me while I clean the pool.

Man proposes, God disposes and donkeys do pretty much what they like.

A day in the life of a French village. Recorded here because some things are too unimportant for a diary but are too life affirming to go completely unrecorded.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Without notes.

First light. I emerge from the bedroom to find a welcoming committee waiting. They are wearing their '' What's been keeping you ? " faces. Tails 'whump' against the floor. A morning sound.

Sophie has had one of those hair flattening nights .

The early sun strikes the window boxes.

Potatoes from Brittany have arrived in the greengrocers.

So have the first of the flat peaches. 

Some carrots are bought for Bob and Sophie . Since we've given up wheat based treats their 'itchy ear' allergies have almost disappeared.

Yesterday, the Speaker of the House of Commons opened the session, speaking without using notes. What could have been a maudlin affair was instead suffused from the outset with purpose. This two minute long  clip is posted , not out of sadness, but as an example of how dignified language can combat even the deepest darkness.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Dog days.

The PONs exude happiness. They start their day with a high speed tour of the garden and the orchard.

For 'The Fonts' birthday we go to lunch in a  restaurant in the little market town. A family with a new born baby comes in. The baby is parked in a corner. The family settles at a nearby table. The family Jack Russell joins them. The mother pulls out a chair and puts a jacket on it for the dog to sit on. From time to time the dog turns and looks longingly at us, or to be precise, it looks longingly at our food. It is given chicken and boiled rice. 

Finding dogs sitting on chairs in restaurants is a very French thing . It is not something we are tempted to try with the PONs.

At the covered market the young beggar has got a new dog. It is very affectionate. His last two dogs died in electrical fire and his girlfriend was hospitalized. Here's hoping this one has a long and uneventful life.

Every dog deserves his moment of glory. Here are two photographs of the dog who interrupted yesterdays wreath laying ceremony. What it must be like to wander in front of a row of serious and unamused Colonels and be oblivious to their looks.

Toulouse full of visitors for the Sweden v. Italy football match. You can tell the Swedes. They're the unshaven blonde ones with blue and yellow viking helmets. Lest anyone be unsure as to their identity they periodically burst into chants of 'Sv-er-i- yeh - Sv-er-i-yeh', sway from the hips and wave their arms in the air. Sweden lose 1-0. The Swedish contingent seem to take this setback with good grace. Would anyone recognize the Swedish national anthem from this rendition ?

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Six in the morning. Bob is the first out. His sister close behind. Sophie lets out a high pitched squeal of delight. She does this every morning. Now they're three and a half years old you'd think that the excitement of starting a new day might have begun to wear off. Not a bit of it. The PONs know that THIS is going to be the best day ever.

Into the little market town. We park by the river and walk up the High Street. Lots of lamp posts to sniff and christen. There are dark shop doorways to explore. 

Some window dresser has a sense of humour.

To the bakers. We buy half a dozen of the days specials. The PONs get given some slivers of flaky pastry. Sophie lets out her second involuntary squeak of delight.

On our way home we pass a ceremony at the War Memorial. The anniversary of General de Gaulles radio broadcast from London. A very old soldier, supported by the local member of parliament and a smart ADC, reads out the words of the broadcast.

The Song of the Partisans is sung, followed by wreath laying and then the Marseillaise. As the band strikes up the first chord of the national anthem a tramp and his dog appear. The dog, affably but unceremoniously, wanders into the middle of the ceremony. It gets glared at by the men in uniform. The tramp makes frantic whistling noises to call it back. The dog rolls on its back and ignores the uniformed men and its owner.

Bob isn't interested in this new arrival but Sophie suddenly becomes alert to another canine presence. It's a this point Angus thinks it might be a good idea to load the PONs into the back of the car. Dog owners can sense when a family diva is about to protest about being upstaged.

The weather still changeable. Sophie opts for a morning of sitting on her garden table barking at the wind.

So passes a Sunday in deepest, deepest France profonde.