Sunday, September 24, 2017

Avoiding the petanque courts.

Sunday morning with two lively PONs. Sophie wants to get the day started. Bob is just happy.

After last weeks rain the morning is bright and sunny. The Old Farmer is up and about early. He's wearing his fur trappers hat and a thick red and black check fur jacket. Sophie sniffs his zimmer frame while Bob climbs the stairs up to his terrace in search of c-a-t-s. The intrepid duo find molehills on the old mans lawn. This is a cause for great excitement. The molehills are excavated amidst much high pitched whimpering and manic digging. The moles have long gone. The PONs don't know this.

Off into town to check on the time of today's rugby match. A step up in the excitement stakes from yesterdays game between two sets of local farmers. It starts off at a sedate pace and slows from there. In a pause in proceedings ( while everyone catches their breath ) the Sapeur Pompier and the young gendarme from St.Etienne have time to wander over and chat to us. ' Bonjour M'Ongoose. Bonjour Bhub '. Bob, who has been asleep on the bleachers, observes them with a mixture of interest and caution.

The cafe on the site of the old castle has put out a sign for todays petanque tournament. Angus makes a mental note to avoid the area this afternoon. PONs are keen participants in petanque games - an enthusiasm that petanque players tend not to reciprocate.

We check the Pilgrims Menu at the cafe on the High Street.

Finally, we make it to the cafe for a coffee and a bowl of water and croissant crumbs. There is much tail wagging.

Now you don't even need to go shopping :

And never let it be said that topical American humour is dead :

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Learning the hard way.

Sophie learns the hard way that overly ripe pears are sticky and can matt your hair.

The sticky juice also 'attracts' loose leaves .

Nothing that a warm flannel and a quick run through with a brush  won't cure.

Fresh dates in the greengrocers and a warm welcome, a bowl of water and a wholemeal biscuit at the cafe on the market square. Tails wag wildly.

Today the rugby season starts again. Sophie does not get taken to rugby matches. She can find the cheering and shouting alarming. Sophie, rugby and 'diva' moments are best avoided.

Amazing fact for the day :

Friday, September 22, 2017

Another victory.

Sophie watches as her brother picks up a partially destuffed lamb that had been hidden in the laurel hedge. He heads off into the garden with it.

She is not pleased that he has it and she doesn't.

Bob feigns deafness. A necessary brotherly trait when living with Sophie.

The village looking very spruce with its freshly painted speed bumps.

On our morning walk Sophie finds that the drainage ditch by the crossroads is full of windfall pears. She likes the overly ripe ones. I fear we may see more of the overly ripe pears as the day wears on. Bob, a more fastidious eater, sniffs the pears but leaves them well alone.

In the wine shop they've got a special on Bekaa Valley Lebanese Chardonnay. The wine shop has an international selection but it is usually entirely empty.  This is based on the view that if it's not French it's not wine. Today, however, they have the six bottle of Lebanese wine and a solitary bottle of Chianti. We feel sorry for the Chianti and buy it.

The matron at Loics home phones 'The Font'. Loic is fine, relaxed, his insulin levels are under control and he's eating again. His mother is still in the hospital. He gets driven over to see her twice a day. Loic insists on taking the phone and talking to 'The Font' . He says that he'll be back to blow the leaves 'just as soon as he's better'. This is another of life's little victories.

''You see a lot of smiles".  I'm now a fan of 3D printers . Make that a BIG fan :

Thursday, September 21, 2017

City dwellers be amazed.

You know you're living in deepest France profonde ...

..... when the most exciting thing that happens is ...

..... the workmen arrive to repaint the zebra crossing and the speed bumps.

Bollards are laid out and paint applied.

Bob, sitting on his stump seat by the gate, is transfixed.

The workmen return in the afternoon to collect the bollards.

The little tike and his brother ride their bikes through the wet paint.

Sophie, exhausted by the drama unfolding outside the gate finally adopts her ' You guard. I'll sleep ' pose.

For the PONs this has undoubtedly been the best day ever.

The musicians seem to be enjoying playing this :

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Radiant dawn.

A morning for standing on the stump seat and watching the village youngsters head off to school. The builders van, sound of hip-hop on the radio audible through its open window, gets barked at. 

Then an amble along the lane to see the donkeys ....

...... and count how many new calves there are in the field by the crossroads. Two more today.

The farmer hasn't managed to cut the sunflowers before the rain set in. Nothing quite as bedraggled looking as afield of wet, past their prime, sunflowers.

At the greengrocers pumpkins and four different types of beetroot.

A motor home has parked next to us. As Bob and Sophie get into the back of the car a Bichon that's been asleep on the dashboard wakes and lets them know that it rules the roost around here. Bob ignores it. Sophie never one to let the chance for a diva moment pass her by, rises to the occasion.

This just written piece of Scottish music arrived in the e-mail yesterday. It's very calming.Perfect for christenings  :

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

We all know good people.

Six am. Sophie demonstrates her impatient ' let's get this show on the road ' flick of the ear.

A bowl of kibbles and cabbage is a great start to the day. This is followed by a long walk and a good half an hour chasing round the garden. Then it's time for a quick nap. In a hectic routine a girl has to find time for herself. 

By September the grass in the garden and the surrounding fields is usually brown and and parched. This year it's emerald green. No one in the village can remember this happening before. Another sign of climate change ?

After three days of rain and chill temperatures it's time to close the pool. The Old Farmers aquatic lunge exercises come to a seasonal end. The solar powered pool cover doesn't work. I have to wind it closed by hand. The PONs would like to get involved but settle for watching. The pool noodles are stored away.

For the pool closure Sophie sports her worldly wise look.

It is Beers of the World week in the supermarket. On closer inspection all the beers turn out to be Belgian.

Monsieur Bay and the mayor are busy. Loic lives in a village 10 kilometres from here and his care home is 3 kilometres beyond that. There is much organizing to be done. The matron of the care home, who didn't know Loic had been released from hospital, has to find specialized medical help. This isn't as easy as it sounds. The mayor of Loics village has to be informed of what's happening. The local doctor needs to sign forms. The department has to authorize payment. Calls have to be made. No one complains. I'm reminded that we all know good people.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Tomorrow is never promised.

It pours with rain. Heavy rain. 

The PONs having got soaked to the skin on a pre-breakfast tour of the garden are toweled dry.

They come to the kitchen with that 'what are you going to do to entertain us' look. 

At the greengrocers a delivery of girolles.

They come from Russia. This is the first time there's ever been a Russian product in the greengrocers.

Late on Sunday night the farmer in the grey Audi 4x4 rings the bell at the front gate. From what I can understand ( his accent is impenetrable ) Loics mother remains in hospital. It seems Loic is diabetic ( something we didn't know ) has collapsed, been in a ward for a night and has now been driven home. Instead of taking him to the sheltered housing the ambulance men have bizarrely taken him to his mothers empty house. The farmer adds '' You have such great vitality. You'll know what to do ". Angus has no idea what the French mean when they say 'you have great vitality' but is pretty sure this is a polite way of saying ' you deal with it '. Calls are made to Monsieur Bay and the mayor. They can navigate their way round the French social safety net more efficiently than foreigners ever could. A complicated situation becomes more complicated. 

Here's some violin music by a little know composer :

Sunday, September 17, 2017


A vision of loveliness greets me at the front door.

Mental note : Sophie needs a thorough grooming.

It's the Foires aux Vins at the supermarket. The twice a year sale when the French buy wines at sensible prices. Our local supermarket has 2010 Pomerols at a quarter of the price we'd pay in Edinburgh.

After lunch Bob joins me for a trip to the departmental agricultural show.

We observe a stand selling front gates with flower motifs. '' It's as if you're looking through them into a field on the other side " says the salesman with gushing certainty. Angus can't help but think that if this was real life the poppy's would be twenty feet tall. There is something strangely funereal about views of fields with giant poppy's and gathering clouds. Bob is prevented from christening the hinges. We promise ( untruthfully ) to think about buying a pair. 

Some hugely overpriced, and stale, Breton pastries at the food hall. Angus takes two mouthfuls. Bob gets the rest. The man at the stall informs me 'Kouign' is pronounced 'Queen'. As in the Queen of England. We decline the chance to buy a bottle of genuine Breton mead for 45 euros.

Dog and master examine a canary yellow three wheel cross country bike. Angus marvels at its impracticality. Where would you put the shopping or the dog ? Yet another sign he's turned into his father. The target audience are probably of an age where practicality is not an attribute that's high on their list of must haves.

By the tractor park we pass a Swiss restaurant. The menu appears to be a more upmarket version of KFC. What's Swiss about it ? Bob is encouraged home before he visits the kitchen.

Loic is still at his mothers bedside. Madame Bay informs us that 'time is moving along'.

The post baby boomer young will probably make a better job of running the world than their elders.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Amorous cats.

There were amorous cats in the garden at 1:29 am. I know this because the PONs helpfully informed me of their presence. Helpfully in this context means loudly. 

This morning they seem none the worse for having had their sleep interrupted.

Bob and Angus sit on the storm drain and discuss world affairs. Sophie demonstrates a new found enthusiasm for eating acorns. The young garagiste on his motor bike and the farmer in his large green Toyota with a Westie in the passenger seat wave as they drive by. 

Off to the greengrocers. With these PONs we've pretty much stopped giving them dog treats. Instead they get carrots, cut length ways into quarters and stored in the chiller. Sometimes they get rice cakes. Kibbles are supplemented with broccoli, cabbage, beans or spinach. This lower protein approach means that we're spared much of the yeast build-up and ear scratching that previous generations of PONs suffered from.