Thursday, August 17, 2017


The Old Farmer and the Belgian lady have not headed off in the venerable Ford Transit motor home as planned. The Old Farmer has been worried by the weakness in his leg muscles and fears they may be wasting away. The Belgian lady has asked around and found a physiotherapist in Toulouse who is reputed to be able to work wonders.  

The Old Farmer has appointments scheduled every Thursday, Saturday and Monday for the next four weeks. He's made the appointments at 10.30 so that he and the Belgian lady can go to the supermarket cafeteria for lunch afterwards. '' Four courses for 12 Euros. We might as well make a day of it ". He's had one appointment so far and swears blind he can feel an improvement.

The mayor calls to borrow the step ladders. He wants to wash the top of the war memorial. The tree surgeon starts work then goes. Pilgrims wander through the village. The PONs greet everyone - enthusiastically. The weather's not so much hot as heavy.

The first sure sign of autumn. Pears make an appearance in the greengrocers. 

As do shelves upon shelves of orange water . A strange thing in a greengrocers. They often have bizarre 'specials'.

Here's something for a Thursday in August. The harmonica playing is something else :

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

He says nothing.

A cloudy start to the day. The sun lights up the contrails which have formed a golden # sign in the sky.

The Autan wind starts to blow. The wisteria branches over the front door jiggle as the storm builds. It's dark enough for the whipsawing stems to trigger the sensors on the security lights. Although it's late morning The Rickety Old Farmhouse is lit up like a municipal building on New Years Eve. The lights refuse to go off.

Angus gets a ladder and a pair of long handled shears. He clambers up the ladder and lops away at the wisteria. A young farmer in his white van passes along the lane, sees me and reverses back. He gets out and shouts out '' Are you alright ? ". Angus turns around and replies that all is well. The answer is clearly lost in the wind. The young farmer repeats the question very slowly. Are - you - al - right ? Angus mutters under his breath, clambers down the ladder, smiles, walks to the gate and reassures the young man that everything is just fine. The young farmer says nothing but looks at me as if to say " If everything's just fine why are you out in a storm cutting your wisteria with the whole of the front of the house floodlit ? "

When I'm back on top of the ladder the German billionaire and his house guests head off down the lane in a convoy of six identical white Volkswagen Beetle convertibles. They don't see me. The billionaire, dressed completely in vehicle matching white, stands in the passenger seat of his car and waves everyone on.

With the wisteria chopped the security lights finally turn off. Angus and the PONs have a lengthy game of throw the disembowled Panda. 

The lustre of Sophie's nose continues to amaze.

This video is beautiful :

Tuesday, August 15, 2017


Our little corner of paradise is the hottest place in France - again. The PONs are harnessed up and out for a full hours walk while the air's still cool.

Perhaps because of the heat nothing at all happens in the village. There again little happens at the best of times. Today is a national holiday so even the early risers have opted to stay in behind closed shutters.

Loic, the heavily bifocaled gardener, shows up to trim the ivy on the far gate. This is a surprise as he's not due until Friday. He, and the inhabitants of his home, are heading off for a weeks holiday to the coast. He's shown up early so that ' the garden doesn't become a jungle while I'm away'. He is very excited about his trip. Loic is always happy.

Not everyone is happy. A black Audi SUV with British license plates pulls up by the church. A couple get out. He's wearing those raspberry red trousers only Englishmen of a certain age wear. She's in a eau de nile skirt with a white cotton blouse. Both put on straw hats. They go into the church then reappear a few minutes later. I catch the sound of her voice from across the lane. '' It was your idea to come on a touring holiday ". In fact this isn't quite what she says as the sentence is embellished with an adjective before 'idea' and 'touring'. They slam the car doors and drive off. Perhaps the aircons not working.

The tree surgeon is due tomorrow.

Bob and Sophie's tails wag all day. In Bobs case his tail also wags while he's asleep .

You learn something new every day. Did you know that some London railings are in fact re-used stretchers from the Blitz ? There's even a Facebook page devoted to the subject.

Monday, August 14, 2017

I fear nothing.

Sophie is in one of her '' This is my world and I fear nothing " moods. I make a mental note not to take her with me to the greengrocers. When Sophie is in one of these moods 'interactions' happen.

An unusual sight. A group of twenty or so Arab ladies and gentlemen park their cars and congregate outside the Salle de Fetes. They then head off down the ox track towards the stream. The men wear tracksuits and lace caps. The women wear headscarves and what, for lack of the correct term, I'll call sparkly sari trousers. Orange and turquoise are popular colours. The men walk ahead, the women walk behind. The women's shoes are covered in sequins and look very dainty. I feel like shouting after them to say that the path is muddy but they've set off down the hill at a cracking pace.

The venerable Ford Transit motor home has returned. The Old Farmer has driven overnight to avoid the heat. He parks it at the side of the house in the shade. There were problems with the engine cooling system in Grenobles. '' I'll get the parts tomorrow. It'll be a simple job to replace the fan and we'll be on the road again on Tuesday ".  The Belgian lady makes a quick appearance. Rather disappointingly her long Lady Godiva tresses have gone and she's reverted back to having short auburn hair. She informs me she plans to redecorate the inside of the motor home. Angus thinks sanitize might be a better word than redecorate but opts to say nothing. '' We grilled sausages every night " she adds.

At the market Angus and Bob buy a box of old variety tomatoes. '' You've got a dozen types in there " says the greengrocer. Getting the box of tomatoes back to the car while holding Bobs lead is easier said than done. 

We go to the lamprey restaurant. There is a fish tank at the front door with live lampreys swimming around in it. 'The Font' claims they were delicious. The sole was so-so.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Shipped off.

To avoid the heat the niece of the little lady with the purple hat is up early working on the flower border round the war memorial. She's pulling out the last of the dead box hedge. Keeping the war memorial tidy is one of those small village duties done in memory of great events. Not just history but deep history. Her great great uncles names the seventh and twelfth on the marble plinth. We exchange pleasantries. '' I've heard eleven different bird songs this morning " she says brightly. As if on cue the cuckoos in the valley start to sing. 'Guess that makes twelve' I reply. We laugh. Sophie has her ears scratched.

The PONs sprint along the lane in the early sunshine. The sun gently warms their fur.  

Sophie hunts, inelegantly, for 'things' in the long grass. She stands, head down, eyes focused, one paw held high in readiness. Every so often she pounces, inelegantly, on something invisible. The pouncing is followed by manic digging. Both paws feverishly working away. She is completely lost to the world outside.

While Sophie digs Bob and Angus sit side by side on the storm drain. Bob is told that this is 'his country'. We discuss world affairs. Last week who had heard of Charlotesville? Our conversation is interrupted by the Senegalese melon pickers driving by in a convoy of small Renaults and Peugeots. At the end of the season these old 'bangers' will be transported to Dakar in west Africa. Their owners pride and joy. The melon pickers beep their horns and wave. Faces press against the window. They're probably discussing the madman that sits talking to his dogs on the storm drain.

At the greengrocers Black Crimean Tomatoes.

So starts a quiet Sunday with two extremely happy and healthy PONs. A reminder that away from the newspaper headlines all is well with the world. What more needs to be said ?

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Feathers make the bird beautiful.

Sophie sleeps downstairs. Bob sleeps upstairs. Why this should be is something of a mystery. Bob has to be near us. Sophie being altogether more independent doesn't.

This morning, while Angus turns on the lights, Bob heads down the stairs to let his sister know that it's time to get up.

Sophie feigns deafness but finally condescends to join her brother in some pre-breakfast savaging. A PON house is by definition not a quiet house.

After a long walk across country we detour to the fancy little cafe by the canal.

The fancy cafe is run by a young Parisian couple escaping the rat race with their toddlers.

They have freshly baked langue de chat. The PONs each get not one, but two, langue de chat. Bob also gets a long slow scratch on the top of his head.

Best day ever ?

In the little market town one of those 1950's era stores.

This one has a sign informing us that birds and women are made more beautiful by feathers.

Through the window I catch sight of a hidden world of French provincial couture.

For those who enjoyed yesterdays video by our two local wine bar owners here's another treat. The two bibulous Frenchmen meet an American lady who cooks them lunch. She lives about twenty minutes from here. No Anglo-Saxon male would/could behave like this in the kitchen . PARENTAL ADVISORY : A lot of wine is consumed in the making of this video:

Friday, August 11, 2017

Enthusiasm undimmed.

5:51 am. Bob comes to wake me up and tell me its rained overnight. A cold wet nose is positioned in my ear. Satisfied I'm awake he retreats from the ( strictly out of bounds ) bedroom and settles down on a rug in the hallway. His tail thwack-thwack-thwacks against the floor tiles. This morning, for no apparent reason, he also emits an almost inaudible high pitched whistle. When I venture out of the door he stands up, does his soft shoe shuffle, trips over his legs and falls over with excitement. All our dogs have been happy dogs but Bob is something special. Can't be all bad to be four and a half years old and start each day in the sure and certain knowledge that it's going to be the best day ever. Enthusiasm undimmed.

After a high speed tour of the garden in search of c-a-t-s or s-q-u-i-r-r-e-l-s there's time for a brief pause in the days excitement. Sophie glares at the collared doves who have the audacity to treat the garden as if they own it.

On Sunday we are going to a restaurant that serves lampreys. They are a specialty of the region and 'The Font' is keen to try them. Angus will have the trout. These locals catch them in the river :

Thursday, August 10, 2017


The old oak trees in the garden, planted at the time of the revolution and not touched since, have broad low hanging branches. At this time of the year the boughs weighed down to the ground with acorns. Perfect shelter from the scorching summer sun for both dogs and owners . Unfortunately, the low branches are at the perfect height for passing deer to leave 'ticks' on the leaves. Mid-morning 'The Font' notices an annoying small insect bite. '' I must have been bitten by a spider ". By dinner time the small bite has turned into an angry red circle. Time for a rushed trip to the hospital for a mega dose of antibiotics. Lyme disease is alive and well in deepest SW France. The emergency room are completely unperturbed. '' We see a dozen cases a week ".  It used to be restricted to spring and autumn but this year the seasons been extended by the damp weather. The trick is diagnosing it early enough .

This morning Bob and Sophie are firmly on guard. They may not know what's wrong but they know that herders vigilance is required. Wherever 'The Font' goes two joined at the hip sheepdogs follow. The famous stereophonic PON stare.

A touch of mid-summer excitement.

The French philosopher has now turned his attention to the subject of old friends :

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Wax coated cheese.

There was an almighty mountain storm last night. Angus was woken at three thirty by a crack of thunder that sounded like an express train was coming down the chimney. Hail clattered against the gutters, shutters banged, watering cans blew across the courtyard. The PONs and 'The Font' were happily oblivious to the meteorological apocalypse.

A sleep deprived Angus heads off across the lane with Bob and Sophie. The decorations from the weekend wedding still haven't been taken down. The storm has shredded the bunting. Soggy pom-poms hang from the trees. Bob and Sophie wander slowly, noses down, across the petanque court in search of canape remnants. Sophie finds a piece of cocktail sausage. Bob a slice of cheese.

The PONs get in the back of the car. Bob is promptly sick. Both PONs are encouraged out of the car. The car is cleaned and sprayed with air freshener. Angus discovers that Bob has eaten one of those small wax wrapped cheeses. Bob gets back in the car but sits on Sophies side. Sophie objects. Bob gets out of the car. Sophie gets in. All is finally well with the world. Bob stages a complete recovery.

Rhubarb appears in the greengrocers. I'm briefly tempted but who wants rhubarb crumble in August ?

Some smoked Daurade  and some Peche de Vigne for lunch .

Having slept the uninterrupted sleep of the innocents Bob and Sophie are ready for a lengthy game of throw the Furry Fox.

So starts a summers day with dogs when nothing happens.

This is PON music :

Tuesday, August 8, 2017


One of those hot, humid, airless French summer days when nothing stirs. The younger village residents have headed off to the coast with their families while the older ones have closed their shutters against the sun.  A fleet of large white shiny Mercedes cars are parked, baking, under the sun on the road up to the chateau. The German billionaires must have visitors but if the silence is anything to go by they are late risers.

Sophie rouses herself and sets off on a mid-morning tour of the village. A chance to make sure no c-a-t-s have taken up residence. The village tour is followed by a long drink from the old zinc bath that doubles as a water trough. She slurps noisily. Water always tastes better from an old zinc bath. 

Then home and a beeline for the kitchen where it's cool and there's the possibility of roast salmon.

After that time for a long restorative nap .

Sophie's August routine.

This seasonal ditty is playing on on Radio Nostalgie this morning :

Monday, August 7, 2017

The spirit takes us.

Monday morning. The Old Farmer sees we're up and about. Or, to be more precise, he is alerted to the fact that we're up and about by the PONs rushing enthusiastically around in the garden searching for c-a-t-s. The old gentleman rings the bell at the gate. To celebrate his eighty fifth and a half birthday he's decided ( accompanied by the Belgian lady ) to go off in the Venerable Ford Transit motor home for a weeks touring holiday. '' No point in waiting around here for the results of the scan ". I ask him where he's planning to go. '' Where the spirit takes us " he says jovially before adding " I've fitted a new fan belt. The old one was slack ". Angus makes an appreciative 'harrumphing' sound which seems a suitable response in the circumstances.  

For the journey The Old Farmer is wearing grey track suit bottoms, open toed sandals and his green lumberjack hat with ear flaps. He is shirtless. The Belgian lady seems to be wearing a short blue nylon house coat and little else. She is however sporting luxuriant long blond locks that cascade down her back in the style of Lady Godiva. Even though it's early and the light is poor the colour of her golden tresses borders on the memorable. It is presumably a wig as last week her hair was short and auburn. 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

A wedding ?

Cool this morning after last weeks heat and humidity. What a relief. We're out at that 'dog owners' moment as the sun is just tingeing the sky orange and the birds are saying thank you for a new day. A small herd of deer head off down the lane. The heron on the village pond looks at the PONs and decides with a leisurely flap of its wings to drift slowly into the air. After we pass he circles overhead before drifting slowly back onto the water. A lugubrious bird .

There is going to be a marriage in the village. I assume it's a wedding as a brown hessian sign saying '' Our future starts here " has been tied onto the pergola with twine. The words are highlighted with glued on sequins. As we start across the village green a group of men in tee shirts and shorts are setting up a straw amphitheatre on the grass to the side of the church. While they unload the straw bales another group of men assemble a marquee between the village green and the war memorial. The presence of the marquee a sign that a society event is about to unfold ? Doubtless, all will be revealed as the day progresses. 

The PONs are greatly taken with the straw bales that form the amphitheatre. We, or to be more precise Bob and Sophie, spend a full thirty minutes sniffing them. This could be described as a static morning walk. The PONs will not be moved. At the centre of the amphitheatre two gentlemen string a line of glass Christmas decorations between two trees. Presumably this is where the ceremony will occur. The men ignore Bob and Sophie. Sophie yelps at them.

The PONs are loaded into the car and we head off to the market. This morning a laughing lady is selling Tomme with Cummin, Tomme with peppers and Tomme 'Italian' style. The PONs settle for some standard Tomme. Their tails go into hyper mode.

This is a cheerful, colourful start to a Sunday :