Sunday, November 23, 2014


Someone has  'tinkered' with the new electronic bell system in the church. The bells now peeling away triumphantly on the hour , every hour, twice. It's as if a royal wedding is taking place. At three in the morning the novelty of the bells has worn thin. A Sunday morning call to the mayor is on the cards. I'll go round to see the Very Old Farmer to make sure he's managed to get some sleep. We are at least 50 metres from the church. He is directly opposite. 

In the afternoon 'The font' sits at the wooden table in the garden and works on the Mandarin course. This is proving to be a difficult language to get to grips with. Bob settles down on the table and is keen to help. Having been firmly told not to chew the textbook he finally falls asleep. Not even the bells disturb him.

In the evening two attentive PONs pay close attention as dinner is prepared. We're at that happy stage where both know their daily routine . Lunch and dinner play a large part in it. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maybe next week ?

Up here on the ridge the skies are blue and it's sunny and warm. A balmy 70 degrees. Maybe opening a Haagen-Dazs store in November isn't so daft after all.

We stop off for our copy of Le Figaro. The newsagent has a new selection of postcards. The one of the leisure centre is particularly attractive.

Loic the gardener blows leaves. The PON duo leap in and out of the piles, heads buried deep, rumps in the air, tails waving. They manage to spend three hours at this before coming indoors and falling into a deep sleep. In the evening we play touch rugby. This works well until Sophie disappears with the ball. This marks the end of the game.

No sign of the electricians.  Maybe next week ? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cold radiators.

The man in the Post Office says '' You won't be seeing me again. I'm off to Peru ".  It takes a minute or two to digest this unusual greeting. It seems his wife is Peruvian and they've decided to retire there. I wish him all the best. 

The cheese lady launches into a long conversation about which types of chevres can be eaten with Burgundy. She talks and I listen. Bob and Sophie hang adoringly on every word. They get some rind. They are so still and quiet an innocent bystander might think they were angel dogs.

The scaffolding has finally come down on the new Haagen-Dazs store in the market square. Two young men with beards ( when did all young men suddenly start to sport beards ? ) can be seen inside. You'd think this would be a peculiar time of the year to open an ice cream shop. Perhaps the French are big on ice cream at Christmas .

This morning Loic the gardener is expected. He'll blow leaves into piles and Bob and Sophie will leap into them. The plumbers are also expected. They repaired and serviced the boiler last week. Ever since we've had super heated water from the shower but no heat in the radiators. 

This Englishman seems surprised about French hotels :

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A pleasant conceit ?

The mountains, freshly snow covered, turning purple as the sun rises. Last week the fields were tilled and brown. Now they're green with winter wheat. A lugubrious heron flies overhead. A dog owners rhythm of life. We head home. Bob is a brisk walker. Sophie is ethereal, forever pausing to take in the view or smell the last of the wild roses. She finds a dead squirrel and trots along with it, head held high so Bob can see how lucky she is. 

Out in the afternoon for a walk with Bob to the Belgian lady's house to hear her side of the dispute. She's happy, delighted, to have someone to chat to. For ten years she's been modernising her small house and turning what was a wilderness into a garden. All was fine until the land around her was sold to a riding school. Her idyll disturbed by cars dropping off children and using the driveway as a turning circle. The relationship with the riding school deteriorated. Tempers rose. Allegations of fences being pulled down by one side, of horse manure thrown over the hedge by the other. She unable to find a friendly ear. There's fault on both sides but the obvious solution is for the riding school to designate an area of land for car parking and for the Belgian lady to take a deep breath. The simplicity of this solution may be a pleasant conceit. Angus will need to have a chat with Monsieur Bay to see how to proceed.

Bob and Angus stop off at the cake shop on their way home. Some tasks deserve a high cholesterol reward. Bob gets some slivers of choux pastry.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Bob is reunited with the croissant bearing waitress at the cafe under the arcades. He gives her an enthusiastic lick. Sophie finishes her portion of croissant and then tries to eat her brothers. Bob stands his ground. The family diva lets out an ear splitting yelp of frustration.

On our way back to the car we come face to face with a cat. The cat very sensibly clambers up a wooden pillar. It hisses, the PON duo howl. Sophie tries climbing. This is not a success. She settles for leaping. 

A day spent in the garden. The mayor stops at the gate and asks if I'd mind having a little chat with the Belgian lady. He'd appreciate my views on her 'general state of mind '. Seems she's not only swearing at the pony club pre-teens but has taken to lopping off tree limbs and using them to block the tracks that lead to the horse farm. Angus is not entirely sure this is something he'd like to get involved in. '' We're not used to this sort of thing round here " adds the mayor.  'The font' thinks it a compliment to be thought of as someone who is used to dealing with axe swinging Belgian females.  Bob and I shall go to see her this afternoon.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

After sales service ?

The glass inside one of the round light fittings was broken by the electricians. A replacement is ordered from the fancy shop in Paris. As the post lady hands over the package the jingle of broken glass signals that all is not well. Angus e-mails and asks for another to be sent. The reply ? " We are a lighting company. The glass was sent to you in good order. If it was broken on arrival it is not our problem ". A reminder that after sales service is a concept quite alien to the French.

Anti-itch herbs arrive for Bob. We'll see if they work.

It rains. Heavily. Bob and Sophie spend their day digging. Both seem very proud of their handiwork. In the evening they find not one, but two, hedgehogs. Sophie's nose seems to get wetter and shinier with every passing day.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Not all will agree.

The Swedish Embassy in London a rather uninspiring 1950's era low rise. Being Swedish there is a plaque by the front door telling you everything there is to know about the building. As well as the Swedish flag the embassy also flies the EU flag. A rare sight in the UK.

Further down the road another plaque. Not all Americans might agree with what's written on it.

Bob soon readjusts to being back at home. After tearing round the garden he settles down on the wooden table in the garden for a nap. Sophie pretends she's not tired but her head gets heavier and heavier. Within thirty seconds she's asleep. Everyone at The Rickety Old Farmhouse is delighted that normal service has been resumed. Sophie has gained weight. Bob hasn't.