Thursday, April 17, 2014

It is better to have a permanent income than to be fascinating.

Another 80 degree plus day. More like August than April. The PON's doze in the shade by the front door. From time to time Bob chases a blackbird. Sophie looks at the bees. Hanging loose Bob and Sophie style.

Mid-morning a large group of Bavarian pilgrims come through the village. They're singing a cheerful, if atonal, marching song. Some have knotted handkerchiefs on their heads to keep off the sun. Silence reigns until the interlopers draw level with the gate. Then the PON chorus opens up. Bob lets loose with his basso profundo bark, Sophie emits a high pitched yelp. The pilgrims wave and laugh. After they've gone Bob trots over to see me with a highly satisfied " that showed them who's boss " look .

They've set out the tables in front of the church. So far no one has arrived to sit at them. Easter and its tourists can't be far off.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The wages of sin are unreported.

For some reason I've agreed to talk at a debate in Edinburgh on Scottish Independence. Time to write something down and send it off to the organizers. Bob saunters into the office and props his chin on my knee. The unmistakable 'can we play ?' look. '' I'll be out soon I've got work to do "I hear myself say.  No sooner have the words left my lips than the idiocy of the statement sinks in.Is there anything more important than a game of catch on a sunny day ?

In the afternoon 'the font' bakes a Simnel cake. Sophie stays in the kitchen to provide support. Bob and Angus go across to the Salle des Fetes for the Cherry Cooperatives annual lecture. The guest speaker is a man in a bright red shirt and black flared trousers. He settles himself at the tressle table on the stage, opens a ring file and starts reading. '' My talk today is about the danger of fruit flies ". Bob falls asleep. Dogs have all the luck. Slides or some form of visual aids might have added some zest to the speech.

The Chairman of the Cherry growers Cooperative is hopeful that there will be a bumper crop this year. 'We produced 1300 tonnes of cherries in 2011, 420 in 2012 and 681 in 2013. Let's hope for another 2011 ! ". With that rhetorical flourish the meeting comes to an end. The Old Farmer serves his home made wine from the stainless steel tea urn.

Bob and Sophie doze in the courtyard until bedtime.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Free advice is worth the price.

Bob and Sophie charge out of the house and into the orchard . Sophie can be seen standing on her back legs trying to clamber up into a tree in pursuit of a squirrel.  A wind blows up. For two minutes, three at the most, the air is filled with white blossom. Then it stops. The ground left blanketed in white.

The baker tries to interest me in an Easter Egg.  Forget  Central London prices. These must be targeted at the German billionaire or passing Russian oligarchs. We'll come back just before Easter to see if the prices have moderated.

The first of the local thick white asparagus has arrived in the greengrocers. We buy a kilo.

A typical day. Bob is on alert for passing pilgrims. Sophie savages a large plastic bag. The plastic bag wins. Angus plants hollyhocks. Sophie eats them.

For our last walk of the day I now wear a pair of ski gloves. These are used to pick up the prickly hedgehogs that keep on returning. The hedgehogs are gently dropped over the fence where inquisitive PON's with sensitive noses can't reach them. 'The font' thinks it must be deeply disturbing for the locals to see someone wandering round at sunset wearing a pair of skiing gloves. 'Psycho' meets France profonde.

Monday, April 14, 2014

He deserves Paradise who makes his companions laugh.


Sophie is up at six thirty. She sits in the garden watching the early morning rush hour - half a dozen tractors on their way to the fields in the valley. Four of the farmers wave at her.

At seven thirty we're in the barbers. Bob settles down under the sickly aspidistra. He pretends to be asleep but keeps one eye open. Sophie settles over my feet. She's not entirely sure what to make of the three retired gentlemen sitting on the moth eaten sofa by the front door. At times like this it's best for a girl to stick close to her family. In between reading the morning paper the three old farmers talk to her. Sophie pointedly ignores them. 

The barber fills me in with all the local gossip. The local primary school headmistress is having problems with her new Mazda. Serves her right for not buying a French car. The petrol station owner is moving to Nantes. Just as well. He's a miserable so and so. Comes from Marseille. Monsieur Lopez was elected to the town council but didn't even know he was on the ballot. Angus lets the gentle mood music flow over him. From time to time, to show interest, he utters a 'vraiment' of astonishment.

Earlier this year we planted a dozen or so ceanothus bushes to attract the bees. A combination of heavy rain and bright sunshine has had a miraculous effect on them. Can anything add on a metre in a month ? Perhaps I should check to see just how large they're going to grow.

Just another sunny Monday morning in deepest, deepest  France profonde.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

I think the world is run by 'C' students.

One of those days when the cool mountain air slugs it out with the warm air from the Mediterranean. Hot one minute, chill the next. By the afternoon the weather's settled on a muggy compromise. Sophie sleeps on top of the wooden garden table, Bob sensibly dozes in the shade underneath.

Our evening walk. By the village pond hundreds of frogs are basking contentedly in the sun. Sophie considers leaping into the pond to show them who's boss. Thank heavens she's on her lead. Why did I ever think a female dog would be less of a handful than a male one ?

The German billionaire flies by on his motor glider. Should one wave at him out of courtesy or ignore him in the belief that he might become distracted and fall a hundred feet to an agonizing death ? If only Miss Manners were here. I settle for looking skywards but not waving. Bob does the same. Sophie remains fixated on the frogs.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

You risk tears if you let yourself be tamed.

First light. Bob and Sophie get harnessed up. We go outside. Before I can lock the front door Bob decides to go back inside . Sophie follows. Sophie comes back outside. Bob rushes round the house looking for 'the font' . Bob is finally coaxed into the courtyard and into the back of the car. He then leaps out of the car in hot pursuit of a blackbird. The offer of a kibble and he clambers back in. Why the simple act of getting out of the house should generate so much daily excitement remains a mystery of dog ownership.

Our morning routine. To the Cafe for an illicit half croissant, a visit to the bakers, a detour to the strawberry farm for two tubs of fresh gariguettes. A walk by the stream where Bob displays his inept fishing skills. Finally, a quick tour of the village. Very Old Farmer, Old Widow,Old Farmer, municipal workman on the tractor - all greeted. By nine the little angels are exhausted.

Home. This morning the two of them decide to sleep on the creaky wooden  staircase. A previous generation of PON's did the same thing. Elder, ever watchful, brother dozing on the higher step. Younger sibling snoring, indecorously, on the step below. Can they sense that their predecessors slept in this same spot ?  Perhaps all dog owners have this sense of deja vu ?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Discretion is not the better part of biography.

'The font' heads off to London . "Would you like to come along ?  We could go to the ballet ". Angus wonders aloud what the troops would have thought if they were told that in a hundred years time their valour would be the subject of a creative dance routine. '' I'll take that as a no " says 'the font'. 

Angus choses wine for Easter lunch.  With no one to hurry him along there's plenty of time to linger over this most important of tasks. The PON duo wait behind the counter with the wine merchant while Angus gets the car and loads it up at the front door. Bob looks disappointed there are no sausages.

Madame Bay shows up. It's hot and she's draped in white chiffon. A poster girl for net curtains. There's been a power cut at the Bay residence and the saintly septuagenarian, plus two grandchildren, has popped round to make sure Angus is managing on his own. In reality she's come to watch her favourite daytime soap - Diagnosis Murder. Programme over she announces '' Well I don't have all day to hang around ". She shepherds the grandchildren into the gold metallic 'Wild Child' voiturette and vanishes.

'The font' enjoys the ballet. Angus opens a bottle of Pomerol. The PON's chase pigeons. Madame Bay has had her daily dose of Dick van Dyke. Everyone is happy.