Thursday, January 17, 2019


The new cleaning lady starts work at The Rickety Old Farmhouse. She arrives at eight and parks her little old Renault on the driveway behind the dog car.

'The Font' greets her then loads the angelic duo into the back of the VW for a power walk round the lake.

Angus is on the phone to men in dark suits when he hears a loud thump.

'The Font' has reversed into the little Renault. One of those 'I knew it was there but didn't see it' moments. Considering the low speeds there is a surprising amount of damage . Both cars appear to be made of plastic. The little white Renault develops a large crack in the front passenger side wing. Bob and Sophie are delighted. They think it's all part of the days entertainment. They get out of the car.

Bob picks up a ball in his mouth and stands and watches.

His sister also finds the sudden activity to be spellbindingly interesting. She is 'encouraged' not to become intimately involved.

The new cleaning lady is reassured that everything will be repaired as new. Angus takes her car to the local garage. After two hours he gets a quote that you'd think was for a badly damaged Rolls Royce not a sixteen year old Renault.

'The Font' calculates that it's better to pay cash rather than claim on the insurance. We'd have to pay 40% of the cost ourselves and the annual premiums would go up by 35%. We'd also have to answer that question " Have you hand any accidents in the last ten years that were your fault ? "

Just another day in a small French village where nothing ever happens.

French President Macron on Brexit. A more lucid performance than could be expected from any British politician :

After that the best thing to do is listen to this :

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


We're up early talking to men in dark suits about Brexit before heading off for our walk round the village. By 7:00 am the Polish plumbers are hard at work. We say hello. They hope to have installed the hot water boiler by the close of business today. If successful they will then move their sleeping bags from the van to the warmth of the house.

By now the plumbers have met the PONs. Bob is happy to greet them. Sophie maintains a diva like aloofness. It takes more than a cheerful hello to win her heart. I tell the Polish plumbers that Jaffa cakes would make all the difference to her attitude. They laugh.

This morning the angelic duo chase invisible cats around the garden. Bob sits and daydreams-  unaware that his sister is hurtling down on him at high speed ready to pounce.

At the supermarket two sad looking dogs. 

One of the dog seems to be taking 'abandonment' relatively well. The other looks plaintive. They get an ear scratch and a word of encouragement from a passing Scotsman.

Is sunscreen worthless  ?

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Topiary giraffes

Still wet.

Bobs not bothered by the bad weather.

We're up early talking to men in dark suits. Some of them think that China's President Xi will announce a $1 trillion trade deal with the US just as the Special Counsels report is released. Others think it won't. While Angus is on the phone Bob and Sophie use the time to catch up on their sleep.

At the hardware store a dog being pushed around in a shopping trolley. The PONs wouldn't make good trolley dogs.

We're out to buy a steam cleaner for the kitchen floor. The last one gave up the ghost. The mud transferring properties of the angelic duo mean we're looking for an industrial model.

Plenty of croissants this morning.

The sort of music that can only be found in America's fly over states. This is a noteworthy example of the genre. Worth looking out for 1: the ark 2: the topiary giraffes and camels 3: the bass singers voice and 4: the shirts. The young men seem as happy as can be expected considering they're singing about wrath

Things beyond our imagining category. Not an article to be shown to Madame Bay and her ' I've seen alien visitors in the orchard' friends :

Monday, January 14, 2019

A 1960's pop star.

Cold, wet and miserable. There's a stiff wind blowing in from the Atlantic. Bob sprints along the lane in search of adventure. Sophie, oblivious to the weather, dawdles. She's in one of her sniff every blade of grass, glare at every weed moods. When told to hurry along she demonstrates sudden onset deafness coupled to clinical stubbornness.

Home for the angelic duo to be towel dried in the kitchen. Bob is suffering from a flattened hair moment. This gives him something of the air of a 1960's pop star. Beatle Boy Bob.

Artichokes from the greengrocers for lunch.

A somewhat 'standard' croissant at the cafe although the good news is that the coffee isn't burnt.

A 3 chocolats vies with a strawberry and raspberry cake for attention. 'The Font' thinks Angus should give up both wine and anything sugary for Lent. The aim is to lose 8 kilos and get into the green band on the cardiovascular chart. Lent, the angelic duo are told, is months away. Let's live a little while we can. 3 chocolats it is.

The glorious world of central Asian television. Here is the President of Turkmenistan visiting his country's athletes and demonstrating unerring accuracy when playing bowls . The ladies playing ping pong steal the show:

Sunday, January 13, 2019

A new friend.

Howls alert us to the fact that someone is coming along the lane. It's a young woman with bright red hair pulling a two wheeled cart piled high with black plastic bin bags. She's accompanied by a pit bull and a pointy eared mutt . Both dogs christen the new fence around the war memorial. After that she, and they, are quickly gone. The PONs relax.

A van with British number plates has been parked outside the church for three days. The new owners of the house by the Pond have found Polish plumbers to install water and heating. The Polish plumbers are based in England but hire a van whenever they get a job on the other side of the channel. They sleep and eat in the van. Their boss is a thin faced man called Piotr who chain smokes. He is very affable and speaks an approximation of English. ' Good day to you mister. I come from Poland. My French is not so good. Perhaps you help me with France ? '  He bows at the waist as he says this. Angus says he'll be delighted to help him with France. The plumbing team have been working every night, overnight; the lights in the house blazing away, doors and windows wide open. '' Other peoples say it  takes six weeks. We do in three !" . By working round the clock they can get the job done quickly and cut back on the van rental costs. 

Piotr explains their mode of operation. While two of the plumbers work the other two sleep in the van. After eight hours they change shift. If heavy duty lifting is called for all four of them pitch in. Piotr thinks that two more years of doing jobs like this and he can pay off his mortgage and get a job near his wife and little boys in Poland. Once a day one of the plumbers heads off to the local supermarket for beer, cigarettes and a variety of canned products. How the local girl behind the cash desk communicates with any of them is a mystery. How they survive on a diet of cigarettes, beer and canned sausages an equal mystery.  Angus can only hope that their first priority is installing a shower . The second priority ensuring the shower is connected to hot water.

I'm sure the red haired girl with the cart and all the Polish plumbers have life stories that would amaze. History would have us believe in the greatness of some lives and the smallness of others. Life in a quiet French village teaches that all lives are intertwined in ways none of us comprehend.

After that exciting start to the day the PONs are fired up and ready for the off.

Which are more memorable ? Some of the faces or the music ? :

Revelation of the day :

Saturday, January 12, 2019


One of those days where the PONs are attached to my ankles.

They follow me through the house as I open up the shutters. They watch with silent intensity. Figure that out. The PONs never do anything silently. Angus talks to them about Tulsi Gabbard. As political commentators they seem completely unmoved.

Shutters open we head off for the morning croissant. Loic the heavily bifocaled gardener arrives as Bob and Sophie are getting in the back of the car. They get out and welcome Loic - noisily. They then get back in. Our departure is delayed while Sophie informs Bob that he's taking up too much space. Today's croissant warrants a 9.8/10. Warm from the oven. 

The PONs also get some Galette de Rois slivers from the baker. This clearly makes it not just any day but the best day ever.

What fun. They played this on Radio France this morning :

Congo has had a chaotic and disputed election. Who knew this about Kinshasa ? :

Friday, January 11, 2019


Best day ever. Bob and Sophie's 6th birthday. They celebrate by excavating mole hills.

We first decided on PONs as family dogs more than thirty years ago. A steamed up Polski Fiat 125 taxi was taking us to Warsaw's Okencie airport to catch the once a day British European Airways flight to London. The roads carpeted with thick snow. A time when the Berlin Wall was still in place and trilby wearing SB men in little blue cars would 'monitor' foreigners.  By the Soviet War Memorial, where Ryczinka Street broadens out, the cab stops at a red light. 'The Font' winds down the window to let some air in and the drivers cigarette smoke out. On the other side of the road a man in a fur hat walking his shaggy dog. They pause for the lights to change. Just then the snow slides silently off an adjacent roof. The avalanche misses the man but completely covers the dog. After ten seconds there is a stirring in the pile of snow and out pops the comical mutts head. Unperturbed and happy. It looks at its master adoringly. They bustle across the road - the dog shaking snow off its fur as it goes. We ask the cab driver what sort of dog that was. And so the decision to search for Polish Lowland Sheepdogs was made.

Wilful, stubborn, generators of mischief, lovers of mayhem, loathers of silence, devotees of mud, abhorrers of order. Our canine companions also happen to have been unfailingly enthusiastic, tireless with children, fearless as guardians, attentive as companions and determined that each and every day be more joyous than the last. Our experience has been that life with PONs is a life filled with constant laughter. Natures antidote to men in dark suits.Can there be any better 6th birthday greeting ?

This is also joyous :