Friday, December 13, 2013
Madame Mayor and the ladies decorate the box trees around the village green. The end effect quite underwhelming. ' Perhaps it's radical minimalism ' suggests 'the font' determined to find something, anything, positive to say.
While the ladies decorate the village green, the mayor sets up the crib in the church. We are invited in to look at it. It is literally a crib with a straw covered doll in it. The church is then locked and will remain locked until after the New Year. '' We've always done it " says Madame Mayor. Angus can't help but think that setting up a crib in locked and empty church is something that only Stephen King could dream up.
The builders are still hard at work on the gatehouse of the chateau. So much for it being ready in time for the holidays. The builders have a rather affable hunting dog called Emile. Emile is all ears. He also adores Sophie. Sadly, for Emile, Sophie considers him to be a brute and makes a variety of growling noises to show it. Emile backs away.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
For Bob and Sophie a day for paddling in the stream, playing with sticks and dreaming of croissants. For the Old Farmer a day for arranging a system of ropes and pulleys to hoist the Christmas star into place.
Eight thirty at night. The repainted, rewired, re-bulbed star is ready and in place. The switch is pulled and what seems like a million megawatts of light fills the sky. Bob and Sophie sit quietly in the courtyard, heads craned upwards, watching . There is something about seeing sheepdogs and stars together - a combination that says all will be well with the world.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
The lady who sells ducks and geese at the local market says the only way to cook a duck is pop it into an oven at 170 degrees for an hour and forty minutes. " No need for any preparation; just baste every ten or fifteen minutes while it's cooking ". This simple, although labour intensive, approach seems to work. The duck fat free and as tender as a chicken. While it's cooking Bob and Sophie steadfastly refuse to move from the downstairs kitchen. Bob is now 23 kilos. Sophie, appetite fully restored is back up to 20.
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Much clattering of tools and whistling. The Old Farmer still at work on the restoration of the Christmas Star. Pilots landing at Toulouse airport will soon have a bright new navigational feature to guide them. From time to time our old neighbour wanders across the lane and asks to borrow a tool. We learn a little more about his trip. His fathers gravestone safely erected on top of a mound said to contain the graves of seven French soldiers. The local villagers only to happy to help this strange Frenchman in his ancient motor home. As the war entered its final phase the prison camps were evacuated and the prisoners force marched westwards. Those who fell behind through illness or exhaustion were shot.
Some glass cookie jars are taken down and washed. Bob goes absolutely wild. He sees one in 'the fonts' hands and goes into panic mode. He hides behind a chair, tail down, letting out squeals of fear. Sophie is quite unfazed. What could ever have given him a phobia about glass cookie jars ?
Monday, December 9, 2013
The meringues have gone from the bakers window. They've been replaced by a seasonal display of polar animals. Incongruously, a small yellow and brown bird livens up the foreground. Is this tiny burst of colour artistic license or a sign of an iconoclastic spirit at work ?
The Old Farmer spends his day working outside. The Christmas Star is being refurbished, its framework stripped down to the bare metal, rusty patches sanded down and repainted. By dusk three rows of multi-coloured flashing lights have been strung across the front of his balcony between the tobacco plants. The reconditioned star, replete with sixty new lightbulbs, will rise on Wednesday.
Bob and Sophie spend their day barking at pilgrims. Bob displays his terrifying ( he hopes ) overbite. The pilgrims laugh. Some stop to ask what sort of dog he is. A reminder that you can never be alone in France when you have canine companions.
Sunday, December 8, 2013
Blue skies and sunshine after two weeks of freezing fog. At the cafe under the arcades a group of Belgian tourists. A most unusual sight at this time of the year. To the amazement of the beer and absinthe set the tourists cluster together at an outside table. Their cheerful laughter a stark contrast to the silence of deepest France profonde on a Sunday morning.Bob and Sophie ignore them as they eat their illicit half croissant.
Inside the church we find the mayor. The plaster of Paris saints have been moved to enable the fresco restorers to complete their work. Somehow, Joan of Arc has taken a fall and lost an arm. The mayor wonders if one tube of superglue will be enough to restore her. '' It's the arm that holds her lance " he says somewhat gnomically.
Saturday night is the village pre-pre-Christmas get together. The Beautiful Bye ways Committee and the Floral Village Committee have failed to coordinate their diaries. As a result the village will be celebrating Christmas twice. This is the Floral Village event.The entertainment provided by a group of four middle aged gentlemen in red silk shirts, black trousers and aquamarine cummerbunds. Sentimental ballads their speciality. Madame Bay, the little lady in the purple hat and the Very Old Farmer sing and sway unselfconsciously along, hankies dabbing their eyes in unison.
For a flavour of a village Saturday night you can't beat this link.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Eleven months old. The PON duo celebrate with half an hours freestyle digging. Of the forty new roses that went in two weeks ago thirty four survive. The others have been shredded. In the evening Bob eats Sophie's favourite soft toy. He deftly removes the stuffing and squeakers then swallows the rest. We are waiting anxiously for its reappearance.
The mechanical Santa in the supermarket lobby has broken down. The tableau frozen at a point where a small bear is launching itself into the saintly figures beard. Management, determined to maintain the festive spirit, have arranged for a real Santa to replace the mechanical one. The replacement, a thin, morose man, sits quietly talking to himself. Mothers take one look at this alarming figure and hurry by.
There is a singer in this cheerful little video that reminds me of those beatific pictures of Jesus you used to find in children's Bibles fifty or so years ago. Is the city behind LA or Las Vegas ?