Monday, September 1, 2014

A good laugh and a long sleep are the two best cures for anything.

Not a cloud in sight. We wander down to the old pilgrim church and sit on the steps outside listening to the organist practising for the ten o'clock mass. Sophie soon turns on her back and falls asleep. Bob keeps one eye open in case there should be passing wolves. The ever serious family fellow.

Back in the village the cycling club and the hunters association have double booked the Salle des Fetes. No one seems particularly bothered. A trestle table is set up and the hunters enjoy a convivial pre-breakfast glass of Floc. The cyclists join them. The sense of conviviality increases.

Sophie continues to guard the house against the nesting wrens and goldfinches. This has become her life's work.

Bob goes through the day with the happy air of someone who is continually and pleasantly surprised.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

An end of August poem by Margaret Atwood

Late August

This is the plum season, the nights
blue and distended, the moon
hazed, this is the season of peaches

with their lush lobed bulbs
that glow in the dusk, apples
that drop and rot
sweetly, their brown skins veined as glands

No more the shrill voices
that cried Need Need
from the cold pond, bladed and urgent as new grass

Now it is the crickets
that say Ripe Ripe
slurred in the darkness, while the plums

dripping on the lawn outside
our window, burst
with a sound like thick syrup
muffled and slow

The air is still
warm, flesh moves over
flesh, there is no


Twas ever thus, twill ever be so.

Half a dozen enormous owls screech at us as we walk across the village green on our late night walk. Squadrons of bats zoom by our ears. 100 or maybe 200 of them. They move so fast they're impossible to count. Has the warm weather brought out a feast of voles and dragonflies ?  'The font' informs me that a group of adolescent owls isn't a parliament it's a clutch.

The generally miserable summer has suddenly become cloudless and warm. A sure sign that the new school year starts this coming week. Natures revenge on eight year olds. Twas ever thus, 'twill ever be so. 

We go to the bar at the rugby club for our morning libation. The new season about to start. The coffee is undrinkable. Bob and Sophie get given their water in a silver foil baking tray. A very masculine touch that doesn't make up for the lack of a half croissant.

Sophie spends her day glaring at the wren and the goldfinch that have taken up residence in the wisteria by the front door. She is tireless in her annoyance.

Bob is too busy living life in the fast lane to notice the errant birds.

Life with two young healthy dogs is a joy.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Esoteric cheese.

Bob and Sophie race off in search of the beefsteak fungus. It's grown since we last looked. The thing's still suppurating. The more horrible something is the more the PON's seem to adore it. Sophie especially.

To the cheese lady. We buy some Coup de Corne ( with a hole in it ) , Echourgnac ( supposedly tastes nutty ) and Rond de Touraine. Bob and Sophie each receive a small slice of chevres. This culinary gift may have less to do with the cheese lady being a dog lover than an understanding that if she spoils the pooches I'll come back to buy more esoteric cheese.

The garden tractor salesman shows up in the afternoon with a new lawn tractor. He is closely watched. Not barked at. Just watched. Lawn tractors are one of those devils devices to be avoided.

Friday, August 29, 2014

He who has health has hope. And he who has hope has everything.

Fueled by an illicit half croissant the irrepressible duo are ready for fun. They find an old moss covered stick in the orchard. This is savaged for a full half an hour. It can be said that PON's at play are not quiet dogs. 

For those of you who asked here's an e-mail from Madame Bay about the Very Old Farmers recovery from his stomach cancer operation. Although he's lost a lot of weight he's getting on as well as can be expected.

" Il avait perdu beaucoup de poids, ( régime pratiquement liquide!) & venait juste d’être débranché de sa perfusion. L’opération s’est bien passée. Il parait relativement content. Il m’a dit de me servir dans son potager, avec les dernières pluies c’est la jungle! il attend avec impatience d’être transféré à l’hôpital  pour sa convalescence ".

Thursday, August 28, 2014

PON purists aghast.

The wren that has taken to living in the wisteria above the front door has been joined by a goldfinch. Sophie spends her day, head craned upwards, daring them to fly down.

The font collects all the odd socks that Bob hasn't chewed and knots them together. The PON's find this new toy alluring. '' Must be the scent " I'm told.

Sophie has her fringe trimmed. She is much more affable when she can see what's going on and isn't caught by surprise. PON purists would be aghast.

In the afternoon we settle on the terrace. Time to finish'' The Long Shadow " - a new history about how the Great War shaped our identities . During the First World War there was a three minute silence every day in South Africa to remember sons and fathers fighting in France. This was then adopted as the two minute silence ( subsequently reduced to one ) still observed in Commonwealth countries. Not an easy read but a challenging one.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Life is too unpredictable to live by a schedule.

A drink from the bowl at the front door and the irrepressible duo are ready for their morning walk. By a tree stump they stand on their hind legs, tails wagging. Sophie yelps. They've found a fungus of memorable ugliness. Blood red and sweating. Perhaps that should be seeping. Disgusting ! Time to hurry along. 

The sunflowers past their peak. At the edge of the village a last field coming into bloom. The farmer harvested wheat one day and cheekily planted sunflowers the next. By the stream a field of very young calves. Their mothers position themselves protectively. Not that they need worry. Bob and Sophie are on their leads and too busy leaping on invisible things in the grass verges to pay any attention to the newcomers.

This is Britain's most popular poem. Here the author reads it. In America it's created the 'red hat' society, which I'd never heard of but has 70,000 members. Its talk of unpredictability, gender notwithstanding, makes me think of the Very Old Farmer who remains in hospital.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A good morning.

Last nights Scottish independence debate an acrimonious, unedifying affair. Angus is on the wagon for a week but  is off it by the time the broadcast ends.

This morning we've had our coffee ( and illicit half croissant ) and are heading back to the car. It's still early enough for there to be no one around. The three of us wander down the hill and settle on the steps outside the old pilgrim church. Inside a young German organist is practising for tonight's recital. 

Sophie falls asleep, Bob lies down but keeps one eye open in case of danger. Some pilgrims, keen to be on their way before the sun rises, look at us. '' A day as beautiful as God's justice " says a tall thin man in an orange tee shirt. This is rather a profound thing to respond to ( let alone translate ) at this time in the morning so I nod and smile. On reflection the man is right. Can there be anything as beautiful as sitting on the church steps in the eight o'clock sunshine, a PON on either side , listening to this through the open door ?