Thursday, January 18, 2018

Always choose the ' formule '.

Can Bob be slowly turning grey ? There is a decided 'lightening' at the temples.

There again maybe it's just the early morning sunshine.

By the far gate into the garden a sudden burst of colour.

Scores of these bright flowers have taken root and started to flower. A surprising sight in January and something that wasn't there last year. 

Have they lain dormant for a decade waiting for this mild wet winter ? Or have they been brought here by birds or little things that scurry along the bottom of the drainage ditch ? The photo doesn't show them clearly but they stretch for at least twenty yards along the road. The PONs are singularly uninterested.

The mayors wife drives by in her car. Despite having had a number of hip replacements ( the mayor says five but surely he must mean three ? ) and being in great pain she always smiles and stops to say hello. Today she informs me that the day for the annual village '' best garden and best kept house " awards will be in the Salle des Fetes in two weeks time. Winners ( everyone in the village is a winner whether they enter or not ) receives one of her dried root vegetable arrangements.

Into the little market town with Bob. Sophie remains at home  in the kitchen.

We look at the menu for the day. For $10 not bad. The secret to eating reasonably in France is to always choose the '' Formule " rather than go a la carte. Bob sniffs the air with authoritative interest as if to say '' The Magret de Canard is good today ''.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Not a moment too soon.

50 mph winds coupled to torrential rain. The PONs seem oblivious to the elements. Faced with manic power shower weather you'd expect them to sprint down the road then turn round and sprint back again into the dry. Not a bit of it. Today is a day to linger over every scent and in Bobs case christen every tree. There are a lot of trees lining the lane. Admonitions to '' Hurry up ! " fall on deaf ears. At the end of the ridge Sophie stops to take in the rain sodden view. She holds her head high in a '' Isn't this wonderful ? ' way.

Despite wearing enough rain wear for a trip to Patagonia Angus gets soaked to the skin and has to change into dry clothes. '' You had a long walk " says ' The Font ' cheerily and unhelpfully on our return. It seems that global warming has increased Scottish rainfall by 20% over the last forty years. The same must be happening in deepest France profonde. 

The angelic duo are towelled dry and then sit on the kitchen floor waiting to go out again.

Sophie takes her yogurt pot into the library where she spends considerable time and effort trying to convince it to refill itself. Finally, with a 'humph' that is mixture of irritation and impatience, she discards it.

In a break in the rain the angelic duo are loaded in the car and drive to the supermarket. 

Mimosa makes a seasonal appearance.

A record of those ' things ' about life with dogs that are too unimportant to make it into the diary.

For those who hate going to the dentist this can't happen a moment too soon :

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Not every day.

It's getting lighter in the mornings. At seven thirty the dawn is wrapping itself round the merest hint of a crescent moon.  Something untameably optimistic about this time of the year. Spring is whispering its arrival. This is an early rising dog owners secret.

Bob watches the six donkeys. Further along the lane the family fellow jumps out of his skin when he looks up and sees the two horses by the crossroads. This happens nearly every morning when he passes the horses. Bobs mind tends to wander. Today he and his sister find some wild boar droppings, These are rolled in and in Sophie's case, eaten. Angus informs his shaggy companions that they are a walking advert for cat ownership.

The angelic duo return home to explore the barn for threats.

Mid-morning Bob arrives to tell me he's happy. He is wearing his patented ' I is an happy ' face. He places a front paw on my foot to add conviction to his story.

So passes a day in which absolutely nothing happens in the village. For the PONs it has undoubtedly been the best day ever. Its not every day you get to roll in wild boar droppings.

Food rules for France. Angus breaks the one about bacon and croissants  :

Monday, January 15, 2018

The argument.

Brighter and warmer.

The PONs are fighting fit and game for anything.

A mix up at the Salle des Fetes. A local granny is being given a 'surprise' 85th birthday lunch by her family. A quiet decorous affair.

The local hunters haven't bothered to check whether the village hall has been booked. At 2.30 they show up with three deer carcasses which they unload in the middle of the village green. The hunters expect to be able to use the kitchens to dismember them. The granny's family soon disabuse them of this notion. Angus is amazed at the virulence of the language. It would make even an inhabitant of the White House blush. When the French want to be rude to each other they take it to a level that Anglo-Saxons simply can't emulate. There is a 'heated exchange'. The grandmothers daughters give as good as they get.

The hunters finally pick up the carcasses and head off in convoy. They have the air of a group of mad as hell men who've just been out to vote for Roy Moore. They are not happy which perversely puts a smile on Angus's face.

The PONs are frazzled. They can smell the deer blood and hear the raised voices and the braying of the hunting dogs in the back of the hunters vans. I've never seen Bob and Sophie so agitated. Both of them seem to be able to sense violence. They remain on tenterhooks all afternoon. I call them in - they want out. When out - they want in. So it goes.

'The Font' returns. Bob and Sophie immediately shuck off the days worries. There is an 'emotional' reunion. Sophie is asleep by 9.00. Her brother does a last check of the house and then also heads off to bed. After we turn in he heads downstairs to be near his sister. His tail thwack-thwack-thwacks against the furniture as he goes.  Normal service has been resumed.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought

Angus sleeps in. Angus rarely sleeps in but this morning the sound of Sophie singing wakes him. At first he thinks the family diva is engaged in her ' I'm bored. Let me annoy my brother by making atonal whines ' act. It's only when he glances at the bedside clock and sees we're running forty minutes behind schedule does he recognize the song for what it is. It's the ' Better get up soon. There are certain urgent things a lady must do ' routine. Angus is up, dressed and out in three minutes. 

A chill morning. Close to freezing but not quite there. The wind raw on the skin. While Bob chases blackbirds Sophie has a lengthy drink from the zinc bath by the pottery kiln. Angus finds himself walking along the lane behind the PONs giving silent thanks to no one in particular for the little things – warmth, a roof over my head, the beauty of the frost touched trees, the mad cap antics of the goldfinches, the knowledge 'The Font' will be back for dinner. The bedside clock. Perhaps gratitude grows with age ?  So does the importance of 'little' things.

Where the trees give way to fields we stop and look out over the hills towards the mountains. At this time of the morning the peaks shimmer pink and orange in the weak sun. Bob has his ears scratched and is told, as he's told every morning, that this is ' his country '. Sophie roots for invisible things under the brambles. Angus ponders that this has been another week where politics have been graceless and vulgar. He smiles and whistles this tune

The Old Farmer has disconnected the multi coloured lights that run around the bottom of his gutters. He has left the star, the white lights that run round the top of the gutters and the red and orange lights that hang in swathes off his garage door in place. Before, the night time sky throbbed with energy. Now it merely glows.

The 'Stud et Coiff ' hairdressers in the shopping centre must be a hip place. It has a cosmopolitan sign painted on its window in English '' Happy New Year and Merry Christmas ". This is an unusual sequence. The interior is quiet barring a young lady with red hair washing the hair of a septuagenarian granny who has settled in for a long 'chat'. 

What could be a rather arid academic article is enlivened by pages 3 and 4 :

And on a lighter note - Surfers heaven in Massachusetts :

Saturday, January 13, 2018


The Font' is due back tomorrow. This can't come a moment too soon for the PONs who have noticed that a diet of plain kibble and burnt chicken casserole is not the height of canine gastronomy.

We stand and watch the carrousel on the market square being disassembled. Bob is keen to christen a pink flying elephant but is hurried into the cafe for a bowl of water and a shared half croissant .

Sophie looks like she's in need of a thorough grooming. Bob doesn't look too bad. Bob has one of those coats that always looks vaguely cared for. Sophie has a coat that's a bit like memory foam. It takes the squiffy form of whatever she's been lying against most recently. 

Today, in the car, the PONs face a different way from the way they've faced every other day of their lives. I ask them why ? They look at me .

This is interesting :

But this is out of this world :

French television shows the installation of the new archbishop of Paris. A truly medieval scene and a chance to hear the Notre Dame organ in full spate. I wouldn't want to watch the whole video but the light (for a minute or two) at the 20:30 mark in full screen is remarkable: 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Life is so exciting.

It's bitterly cold. At the end of the ridge where the trees peter out the wind hits us full in the face. Bob and Sophie find this invigorating. They roll on their backs, chase invisible things in the drainage ditch and gaze at the eagles hovering over the apple orchards in the valley. They would happily spend all morning in these frigid conditions, tails high, noses twitching, eyes wide. Their master 'encourages ' them home. Bob has one last theatrical 'pounce' on something only he can see.

Back at home Sophie finds her empty yogurt carton and glares at it. One day it will learn to refill itself.

We go to the cafe. The PONs view a trip in the car as a great adventure. Sophie , being the family diva, takes up 65% of the floor space. Bob sits in what's left and and looks out of the back window. 

Christmas is officially over. The mayors secretary takes down the two garlands from the yew trees by the war memorial. The length of silver glitter and the two red baubles that she'd attached to the cypress tree blew away in the gales. What took two minutes to put up takes a minute to take down.

When you live in a community of 67 souls it's amazing what there is to record. Bob and Sophie monitor it all. Life is so exciting.

Wonderful television.Why this series was dropped in the US is a mystery to Angus :