Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garlic Knights.






Six am. Bob announces that it's a beautiful day. His sister agrees. No need for an alarm clock in this household. PON timekeeping is as precise as it gets.

We've forgotten that it's the first of the annual garlic auctions. Our usual parking spot taken by a silver Mercedes with Paris number plates. The road down to the cafe under the arcades lined with local farmers peddling their 2014 harvest. Even though it's barely gone six thirty there's already a small crowd of French buying their coming years supply .

Outside the library the Knights of the Grand Confraternity of Garlic are gathering ahead of the public auction. The mornings commerce will be followed by a lunch in the market hall. For €13 there's garlic soup, garlic tart, chicken in garlic, ice cream and coffee. After the illicit half croissant Bob and Sophie linger by the open door to the town hall kitchens where the first of the lunchtime chicken and garlic is beginning to be slow roasted.


Monday, July 21, 2014

Before the croissant.







The  heat finally goes. It's replaced by scudding clouds and spots of rain that never quite turn into a shower. We sit outside late into the night with two cool and contented furry beasts snoring at our feet.

This morning the sausage man at the market lets the PON's try a slice of sausage with herbs. It's rather too early in the day for their owner to be eating charcuterie.  Bobs tail wags at metronome speed. On a scale of one to ten sausage scores an eleven; possibly a twelve. He gives the sausage man his best '' Why don't you and your sausages come to live with us ? " look.

The biscuit lady kneels down and slips each of them a small piece of flaky orange biscuit. We end up buying two hundred grammes. Sophie makes a sound that makes it absolutely clear that orange flavoured biscuits rank way up there with sausage in life's panoply of delights.

All of this before they get to the illicit half croissant at the cafe under the arcades.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A pilgrim is a wanderer with a purpose.





Completely still. Not a breath of air. A day you spend waiting for the heat to break and the rain to come. Bob and Sophie have developed a hot day routine. 10 minutes hareing round the garden at top speed savaging each other, followed by fifty minutes lying recuperating on the cool stone floor. 

From time to time the click-clack-click-clack sound of a pilgrims staff on the road outside causes them to wake and rush to the courtyard gate. Each wayfarer carefully observed. Sophie howls in frustration when they pass by without stopping to talk to her. Bob, the stern guardian, gives some pilgrims two woofs, others warrant three. There must be a PON logic to this grading system but we've yet to work out what it might be.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Life does not have to be perfect to be wonderful.





110 degrees and 100 kilometre an hour winds. The combine harvesters hard at work bringing in the crop. Chaff and dust drifting on the air. Bob is up early to bark at the farm machinery rumbling along the lane. Tractors with 'squeaky' trailers a particular source of irritation. Sophie, sensibly, continues her beauty sleep. 

In a couple of weeks time ' Planet of the Apes ' comes to the cinema in the little market town. '' It's very intellectual " says the lady at the ticket booth. 

Across the lane The Old Farmers Christmas star glows brilliantly away. He's been doing some rewiring of his 'informal' link to the salle des fetes electricity supply . He's now encountering difficulties with turning the star ( and the garland of multi-coloured lights that adorn his gutters ) off. A Texan house guests asks if the village is always this festive. 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Crushingly hot.




'' It's going to be crushingly hot " says the weather forecaster. She's right. Bob and Sophie manage a twenty minute pre-breakfast walk in the valley before heading off for a refreshing paddle in the stream. You know it's hot when dogs lie down in the water. 

At the supermarket they're selling World Cup pillows at half price. There are a lot of unsold English ones. Leave it a week and they'll be down to a € a piece. 

Bath time. Sophie accepts this tribulation in quiet resignation. She's washed, shampooed, then toweled dry without so much as a murmur. Bob hasn't read the script. He's showered but when the satanic shampoo bottle appears he's off. A sodden PON leaps out of the bath, sprints along the corridor, up the staircase and into the drawing room. This is where he shakes himself dry. '' That was a great success " says 'the font'. Bob beams. 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.

Some unlikely Edinburgh neighbours 
Who'd have thought he was still going strong ? 
 On George Street a shop selling tartan carpets for dog owners. 
The shop assistant says they're Labrador resistant. Would they be PON resistant ?
In my absence Bob has been the diligent guardian of the house.
Home for a long walk along the top of the ridge. Sophie charges through the freshly cut wheat stalks in pursuit of lizards. Bob cavorts along the road beside us. Like all PON boys he's never happier than when his flock is reunited. He's doubly happy when he can wave his large furry paws at the motion detector and open the sliding doors at the arrivals terminal . That magic 'whoosh' does it every time. He's also shared half an oatmeal biscuit with his sister in the airport cafe. It's been an awesome day. 


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Strong in my pride and free.







Bob sees my 'going away' shoes and goes into a deep funk. Sophie is too busy chasing blackbirds to notice. Called back to a Scotland swathed in rose bay willow herb. Maybe you need to be away to appreciate the sky and the lochs and the untameable landscape . 

It's bright when I arrive, then, true to form, it pours before settling into a warm, almost hot, afternoon. The sun turning the Kyles gold. The bearded young minister is accompanied by his Sheltie. The dog, now used to such occasions, curls up in the shelter of the kirk porch and sleeps. He wakes, briefly, at the sound of the pibroch. The second time in 24 hours I've heard the line '' If it be life that waits, I shall live forever unconquered. If death, I shall die at last, strong in my pride and free ". As defiantly Celtic as poetry can be. The same words on the Scots American Memorial in Edinburgh .

Crimond. A gaelic Amazing Grace. The Dark Island piped as a graveside farewell. Scottish ritual. A dram of The Macallan shared with siblings and nephews. A black sporran gathering. "My goodness Aonghus you've not changed a bit ".  Then back to Edinburgh, where even though it's late, the sun is still shining . 

Bob and Sophie will be coming to the airport today .