A scorching August morning. The heat rising from the ground as we trot off down the lane. The PONs sensibly head through the shade of the sunflower fields to the stream.
Angus is a feeling a little 'tired' this morning. A dinner at Castle Gloom lasted until the early hours. Some expats complain that the French never invite them into their homes. We suffer from the reverse problem. French dinners are cultural minefields.
Despite it being scorchingly hot Monsieur le Comte greets us at the door in a chunky knit cardigan fastened at the front with toggles. In the Anglo-Saxon world males give up wearing toggles as soon as they learn to walk. Here in France toggles are a big, all age, male fashion item. The Chatelaine appears. She's wearing what looks like a heavily sequined christening gown. This is voluminous at the hips and decolletage but tapers down towards her feet. In fact it's so tapered that she's forced into taking small, severely constricted steps, as if in an amateur dramatic society presentation of The Mikado. We follow this cocooned figure, slowly, into the salon.
Over dinner Angus is seated between La Chatelaine and the chatelaines best friend , a somewhat humourless lady from a station balneaire outside Dieppe . She informs me that the English must be a remarkably stupid people to have voted to leave the European Union. Things go downhill from there. Did I know that ' athletes at the London Olympics were given 150,000 condoms? In Rio the number has risen to 450,000 '. She repeats the 450,000. '' Perhaps it's got something to do with the weather ? " I comment, unsure of where this conversation might be going. The lady from Dieppe is sporting a brown silk evening dress. This is accessorized with a fox stole which has a glass eye that catches the candlelight when she turns to talk to me. This glint in its eye gives the dead fox a somewhat mischievous look.
The evening comes to a close with Monsieur le Comte telling a lengthy joke about a man who can't stand the cold. He dies, goes to heaven, complains about the temperature and is finally sent to hell for a day ( that'll soon stop him complaining says Saint Peter ) . After four days he hasn't come back so Saint Peter goes looking for him. As he opens the gates of hell the Saint hears a familiar voice cry out " Shut that door you're letting in a draught ". The Count enters into the telling of this joke with enthusiasm. He stands, paces towards the fireplace, waves his arms in the air to emulate angels wings, employs a variety of peculiar accents, and, at one stage, is so overcome with laughter that he requires Clothilde, the little serving lady in the pinny, to bring him a glass of water.
Sophie is ready to start her day at 6.30 as is..
..... her brother. No sympathy for their owners lack of energy.
At the greengrocers exotic fruits are being sold off cheaply.
However, something called Taro Dashine makes an unexpected appearance.