Thursday, August 24, 2017
A quick trip to a humid and overcast London.
On Tower Bridge a Chinese couple having wedding photos taken in the midst of the morning rush hour. The young couple are happily oblivious to the traffic. The commuters having to navigate around this unusual scene less so.
While Angus waits to see men in dark suits he explores one of the City's many churches. This, he can't help but recognize , is the sort of edifying thing his father would have done to pass the time constructively.
In a niche in the little courtyard a relief done by Jacob Epstein.
In an art gallery next door a humorous picture of man and dog catches his eye.
On the way back to the airport Angus is instructed to try out some new Scandinavian dining chairs in the Swedish furniture shop. Before ordering them 'The Font' wants to make sure Angus doesn't find the chairs are uncomfortable or designed for someone either two feet or twelve feet tall.
An attractive young Japanese lady speaks to me in Swedish. Her English is non-existent. Her Swedish with Japanese pronunciation 'challenging'. By a combination of linguistic guesswork and sign language Angus finds a chair that is comfortable.
At the airport a hologram instructing passengers on which train goes to which terminal. The hologram is annoyingly happy in that effervescent way that might incite air rage.
Although its the busiest travel time of the year the airport is strangely quiet. '' You're lucky Love. You've found a quiet time " . The check in lady then informs me that travel from the US to the UK is up 28% this year. '' It's all because of that Brexit " she adds with studied illogicality.
At the airport Bob is contentedly 'christening' tyres in the car park.
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Schools start in a couple of weeks. The newsagent selling pens and notepads in readiness.
The home help for Loics mother will do gardening, laundry and also cook and share meals. The cooking and sharing of meals is a particularly French gesture.
A fine old house by the road junction. It's seen better days but must have been quite the thing in its time.
On a side wall a window with a roller blind. The window is five feet above the ground. What would it have been used for ? Why does it have a roller blind ? I stand and examine it but can think of no reason why it should be there or what its purpose was.
Back at home Bob opts for a doze in the now cooler sunshine.
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Decidedly nippy this morning. Angus ventures out and then returns for a sweater to put over his shirt. A foretaste of autumn. Above us the sky already covered with a warp and weave of contrails - aircraft heading due south taking sun starved northern Europeans to the beaches of Spain and Portugal. Crossing them at right angles a dozen early arriving trans-Atlantic flights. They roll in , one after the other, thirty seconds apart.
The farmer next door has started to look after horses while their owners go away on holiday. Three new vacationers contentedly chew away on the lush grass while watching Bob and Angus saunter past.
Bob and Sophie munch on Damsons.
Both PONs are in a good place.
Sunday, August 20, 2017
The year is rolling right along. Something beautiful about the countryside as late summer segues into autumn. A calmness and contentedness at natures job well done.
The hay harvested and bailed. The sunflowers now waiting to dry out before being cut.
The hedgerows thick with rose hips. In Scotland a sure sign that a cold winter lies ahead.
The fields of Queen Anne's lace now beginning to wilt in the heat. The Rosebay willow herb largely gone. Only a few wild orchids left in the bottom of the valleys.
It is coming up to year since Sophie broke her first leg. The second would follow soon after. Looking at her it's difficult to believe there was ever a problem.
Digging under the box tree .....
....... and finding the Furry Fox that was given as a Christmas present in 2015 and then immediately 'lost' .
After being buried for 20 months it has a special taste.
Vintage Furry Fox.
Bob isn't allowed near it.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Loic sets off to Narbonne Plage. Angus and the PONs are up early to wave him and the other residents off. Getting everyone on the coach is a lengthy process. The staff are keen that those that need pre-journey 'pit stops' take them. Such is the excitement that several passengers need multiple ' pit stops' . They get on the bus and then off again. Loic gets 50 Euros for ice creams and 'treats' and reassurance that everything will be alright. For the journey Loic is wearing beach attire - a striped tee shirt, shorts that stop between the ankle and the knee, sandals and a sun hat. Monsieur Bay and the Mayor have come up trumps. They've arranged a weeks home help and visits from the district nurse for his mother.
By the time we come back from waving farewell to Loic the decorator is waiting outside the church. He's planning to start work on the porch on Monday and wants to see the paint and paper we've bought. The decorator looks at the church porch, looks at the wallpaper and announces that it's far too damp to paper. Angus says he'll order more paint. ' I'll be here at two ' says the decorator with what the innocent might interpret as finality.
Bob and Sophie enjoy a long walk across the fields. Another three weeks and it's the start of the hunting season.
When the hunters are about the PONs are kept on their leads.
In the cheese mongers a thick creamy cheese filled with rich creamy cheese mousse infused with red fruits. Just looking at it blocks up the arteries.
To celebrate getting home Bob does several laps of the garden with disemboweled Panda.
Friday, August 18, 2017
The tree surgeon is due at eight. He shows up at ten past nine. He's supposed to be on holiday but two weeks at home with three little ones is a good reason to get out of the house.
Loic the heavily bifocaled gardener also shows up. He's due to go on holiday tomorrow with the other residents in his sheltered housing. Loic is never glum but today he is. It seems that his mother drank a large glass of iced water in Wednesdays extreme heat, had a 'turn' , fell over and bruised her ribs. He had to tell me this story three times before I understood what he was saying. I've never heard of anyone keeling over after drinking iced water in the heat. Loic doesn't want to leave her alone. The doctor barely acknowledges his presence. Time for a phone call to Monsieur Bay who, as an ex-gendarme, can determine the situation and can call on his local 'contacts' to make things happen. If we have anything to do with it Loic will get to see the sea.
The mayor stops by to discuss what the village should do to commemorate the centenary of the end of the Great War in November next year. He admires a group of black stemmed ruby rose bushes planted by the terrace. '' A rose garden would be a wonderful idea " he says breezily. I tell him about Loic. He promises to call the local doctor and see what he can do about arranging a home help for Loics mother.
Bob and Sophie have had a wonderful day greeting visitors. Life in a French village is never dull.
As French as it gets ? : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGvq9zbPGkk
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 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TIS0shC8u5I
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
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.
This video is beautiful : http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/08/rare-white-moose-sweden-video-spd/
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 .