Saturday, August 1, 2015


The Friday evening rugby match played in heavy rain. A full crowd. From the preponderance of single fathers accompanied by lively male offspring we can assume that many family holidays have got to that '' They're your sons ! You look after them ! " stage. 

The little van with the chimney is doing a roaring trade in XL Rugby Burgers. Bob looks hopeful but is told dinner will be waiting when we get home. He sighs. Another of those canine ' into every life a little rain must fall ' moments.

The French are very keen on comic books. Anglo-Saxon parents do everything they can to stop their children reading comics. Here it's considered high culture.

On the road to the rugby stadium a sign informing us that the inventor of the steam engine was French. How stupid of me to think it was James Watt.

While her brother has been out gallivanting Sophie has been in the garden. She looks dishevelled and grumpy. That unmistakable  ' And where do you think you've been ? ' face. 

'The Font' has been overseeing the downloads for the new computer. They all fail. The joys of linking state of the art technology to a fifty year old copper telephone wire.

And here's a little bit of canned happiness to start off a new month

Friday, July 31, 2015

The frou-frou lady.

It rains in a desultory ' I can't really be bothered' type way. The small army of melon pickers in the field at the crossroads seem delighted with the break in the heat. We wave. They wave back. Bob and Sophie bark.

The wrens nesting in the wisteria are also rejuvenated by the fresher weather. They chirrup happily away. Sophie sits for hours glaring at them. Bob wonders what she's glaring at.

The village fete on Sunday. The lady in the purple hat who sings the Marseillaise on Armistice Day has set out a variety of plant pots along her garden wall. The pots are colour coordinated in a rather frou-frou way.

In the afternoon the council workmen deliver crowd barriers. These are stacked up behind the war memorial. An unbiased observer might wonder if arranging for crowd barriers is wishful thinking on the organizers part. On our evening walk Bob christens them.  

Just another of those days with dogs, too uneventful for a diary but too important to be completely forgotten. 

The heat returns tomorrow. The mayor and The Old Farmer will be getting the replica 16th century pottery kiln ready for its annual firing.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The red trousered man returns.

This morning I open the shutters to find that strange half light that hints autumn's on its way. Not that this bothers Bob. He's awake and up the stairs as soon as he hears footsteps. '' I is Bob and I is here to help ". He prods me with a cold wet nose in case I'd failed to notice his presence.

While Angus checks the post Bob takes up position on his stump seat. Sophie lends encouragement from below. Both dogs exude that happy assurance that comes from knowing they contribute mightily to the smooth running of the household. Their owners may disagree with this assessment. Satisfied there are no intruders Bob clambers down, wanders into the hallway and points at his harness. Sophie saunters, hopefully, into the kitchen.

Mid-morning the red trousered kitchen designer arrives to drop off the stools we ordered two months ago. ''Just the right amount of colour. Not too much and not too little " he opines. He then, somewhat theatrically, claps his hands as if he's clanging cymbals together. 

The red trousered man has brought a sheaf of invoices, some anticipated, others not. '' Could you give me a cheque for the whole amount ? I'm closing for the holidays tomorrow and won't be back until mid-September ". Angus can't help but notice that Monsieur pantalon rouge is now driving a new very large and very shiny Mercedes van.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The turret.

Bob has one tremendously long white whisker that sticks out from the side of his muzzle. This remains steadfastly immune to being trimmed. Sophie's muzzle remains coated with mud.

There is a rugby match on Friday night. Who, in their right mind, would play in this heat ? Barring the arrival of arctic weather Bob and his master will  not be going.

We park and walk to the bakers. A chance for Bob and Sophie to savour big city life. We pass three cars, four bicycles, two delivery trucks and one of those vehicles with rotating brushes that wash the kerb. Sophie isn't taken with the latter. Bob is too busy christening a fire hydrant to be bothered.

On the corner of the street an old house, once very grand, today fast fading towards demolition. The wrought iron gates showing as much rust as paint. The tall, too thin turret looks as though it contains the tiniest of staircases; perhaps it's a survivor from the convent that stood on the site in the middle ages. Two doors down a marvellous example of 1920's shop architecture. Completely unchanged both inside and out. Prunes soaked in armagnac and coated in chocolate stored in large glass jars. At one time the lilac cladding must have raised provincial eyebrows. With more and more of the tradesmen moving to the new shopping centre on the outskirts of town the prune stores days must be numbered. The shops on either side long locked and shuttered.

We stop for a coffee on the Square. The waiter, unbidden, brings a bowl of iced water and places it on the floor. Bob settles down under the table. Sophie keeps a wary eye on a gentleman in a beret selling potatoes. Clearly a trouble maker. The waiter returns with two small biscuits. The PONs immediately look angelic.

And so we spend another quiet, sunny day in deepest France profonde. A record of those little mundanities that make up life and can be so easily forgotten.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Beat that for exoticism !

Hot and humid. Sophie doesn't do humidity well...

... nor does Bob.

A detour to McDonald's for a bowl of iced water. The girl behind the counter brings out a croissant, a coffee, a large jug of iced water and a stainless steel bowl. She pours the water into the bowl and stands and watches as the ends of the croissant are torn off and distributed to the PONs. She laughs as their tails go into overdrive. Bob gives her his ' we'll be back to this establishment' look.

Less humid in the afternoon. The PONs are happy. A dollop of coconut ice cream to cool them down.

Affectionate observers of France can sometimes be amazed by the number of strikes the French are willing to put up with. Air traffic controllers, ferry operators, train drivers. Today it's the farmers. Something to do with export sales being down and the government not supplying enough subsidies. A further €600 million described by a radio spokesman as ' a joke '. To get their point across they've blocked the motorways with tractors. In the little market town they've tipped twenty tractor loads of cow dung in front of the supermarket. Not surprisingly the aisles are quiet. In the exotic foods section Heinz Baked Beans and cans of Dr.Peppers make an appearance. Beans on toast washed down with a glass of Dr.Peppers . Beat that for exoticism !

And here's a fuller explanation :

Monday, July 27, 2015

Nothing short of miraculous.

The man at the local computer store comes up with a solution for the defunct DELL. He tinkers with an old computer, pulls out the video card and sells it to us for €39. 'Take the old one out and just slide this new one in ". We leave unconvinced but after much installing it works. 'The Font' considers this to be nothing short of miraculous. It should be noted that the desktop now makes a deep burbling noise as it works.

We buy some fresh macaroons. The PONs put on their 'we're starving routine' but the young lady behind the counter is clearly not a dog person. Sophie lets out a yelp of annoyance and is reprimanded. As I close the tail gate there is no doubting the family diva is in a frump. Bob, as always, is happy.

The German billionaire has house guests. They wear shorts the same colour as the macaroons we've just bought. The man in Framboise, the woman Pistachio.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

The jury is out.

A hot Sunday morning.A pre-breakfast walk down the hill and across the fields to the waterfall. Bob charges ahead overcome with excitement. Sophie, distracted by something that might be edible, lags behind. Finding she's been left alone the family diva lets out a loud yelp and rushes to catch up. Master and brother receive a ' Don't you know it's rude to ignore a lady ? ' frown. Then she's off again. Lured away by some dried deer poo. Very lady like. Fifty yards on there's another yelp, another mad rush to catch up and another frown. 

The whee lhoo whee call of the suddenly everywhere Orioles; a Nuthatch, invisible on the ground, soars out of the stubble, gold and blue feathers caught in the rising sun. Is there any greater luxury in life than to be out early with two healthy dogs ? The things you see, the sounds you hear, the excitement you share. I clamber back up the hill laughing. Sophie follows on, frowning.

The desktop still broken. The laptop, despite its claims to speed and competence, painfully slow at downloading pictures. It has an aversion to blogging. Unbidden, the nice young lady at DELL e-mails to say she's run a diagnostic scan on the old machine and the problem is the video card. '' Perhaps you might find a replacement on Amazon ? " A new computer with Windows 10 and a QWERTY keyboard ( as well as a French keyboard which is obligatory in France whether you want it or not ) will arrive sometime in the next two weeks.

'The Font' finds a field mouse peering out ,affably, from the cupboard under the sink in the downstairs kitchen. It looks up, then clambers down and rushes out of the door that leads onto the terrace. Has it just wandered in ? Has the repointing  done anything to stop them building their nests in the walls ? Does another year of finding stashes of berries and nuts carefully hidden in shoes and slippers lie ahead ? The jury is out. Naturally, neither PON is aware of the presence of this four legged creature yards away from them.