Tuesday, May 22, 2018


On the storm drain Bob and Angus discuss the resurgence of populism in Italian politics. 'Discuss' is perhaps too strong a word for as soon as the 5 Star Movement is mentioned Bob joins his sister in following an intriguing scent that leads them down to the donkey field. 

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse the hair around Bobs eyes and muzzle is cut. He is delighted with the outcome. Angus quietly gives thanks that dogs don't know about mirrors. Bob gives me his " Is I looking very dapper ? " look. Sophie too needs a trim but there is a limit to this dog owners energy levels.

The warm weather has arrived. Warm weather brings with it lizards. Lizards mean that the PONs are forever racing off into the garden in pursuit of things that rustle. What they would ever do if they caught a lizard is a mystery. Sophie would undoubtedly eat it, Bob would try and put as much distance between himself and the scaly thing as soon as possible. The chances of either PONs ever catching a lizard is minimal. Their rhinoceros like hunting technique is ' sub-optimal '.

A National Holiday yesterday in France. Our third this month. A lot of people, including an early rising smattering of pilgrims, are taking the whole week off. Bob stands on his stump seat guarding until the passing pilgrims are safely out of the village.  Humans may think each day has a humdrum regularity. The PONs know better -  high adventure lurks just around the corner.

After the pilgrims have gone there's time for a chance to run round the garden, chase lizards, bark at squirrels and then settle down for a long nap in the shade. The two collar doves nesting in the barn remain a source of canine irritation.

There is a research centre near here that experiments on beagles. A group of foreign ladies are trying to close it. More power to them. This form of testing is - barbarism : https://theintercept.com/2018/05/17/inside-the-barbaric-u-s-industry-of-dog-experimentation/

Monday, May 21, 2018

Our day so far ....

5:58 am. A cold wet nose in my ear indicates that it's time to get up. The cold wet nose is followed by a lick and a snort. When Bob is very happy he snorts. By this indicator today is already a very happy day.

Bob hunts in a rose border for Furry Fox. He buried it there for safety last night. This is the canine equivalent of putting the car keys in an obvious place so that you can grab them as you rush out of the door in the morning.

Sophie wanders over to help him. The lustre of her nose makes it clear she is fine health.

Try as he might Bob can't find where he buried Furry Fox in the rose border. There is much digging and scattering of soil. He remains nonplussed by the disappearance of his furry friend. He puts it down to the malicious influence of C-A-T-S. The fact his sister has already found it and is wandering over the the far side of the orchard with the disheveled toy in her mouth escapes his notice.

Before we can get harnessed up and in the car Sophie stops and stares at a possible mole hole. Staring at a mole hole takes concentration and time. I call her over to the car but this morning she's suffering from clinical deafness.

Wild asparagus in the greengrocers ....

.... and an interesting chocolate concoction in the bakers display cabinet. We're early this morning. The croissants are still in the oven. When they appear Bob and Sophie make it clear that warm croissant crumbs are light years better than cold ones. Bob snorts for a second time.

The PONs days might not be getting more efficient but they seem to be way up there on the 'Run! Don't Walk !!' enthusiasm rankings.

From the BBC's 1943 archives : https://twitter.com/BBCArchive/status/997887608330928128

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Quietly grateful.

The Old Farmer is looking tired this morning. He claims not to suffering from pain but then goes on to say he was up half the night with his sore hip. 'The Font' has brought him a five foot wooden staff back from Scotland to help him walk. It has a whistle carved from a deer's antler as a handle.  The whistle has a pitch and sound that will rouse the dead. If he falls he can blow it at any time of day or night and the PONs will hear it from across the lane. You can be sure they will then let us know. He finds this gift reassuring.

The ground on the way down to the waterfall is sodden underfoot. It will take a few more weeks of heat to dry it out. The wet weather has brought out an amazing display of wild flowers. Bob and Sophie are too busy hurtling down the hill to notice. 

Masses of poppies and the blue flowers that Angus thinks might be wild orchids but must just as easily be weeds.

A morning for talking to Indian men in dark suits about Iran. '' Unilateral withdrawal equals non-compliance with a legally binding UN Security Council resolution " says one. ' This is a rejection of the UN as the guardian of peace and security ' says another huffily. '' Goodness! Isn't the world changing quickly '' thinks Angus. 

Angus has tried a new technique on the doors of the book shelves in the dining room. Mix the paint with water and then use a wet brush to apply it. The battleship grey seems several shades less grey than it did before. Angus is unsure whether to paint the side of the shelves the same colour or go brighter or lighter. This is the perfect excuse for inactivity. A yogurt pot on the floor indicates that the family princess has been supervising the painting.

It's the little things in diplomacy that count. On this visit to Russia the German Chancellor gets a handshake and a bouquet of flowers: https://twitter.com/ru_rbc/status/997518533335502850

Saturday, May 19, 2018

It writes itself.

The weather channel tells me that May has been 5.3 degrees cooler than average and 45% wetter. After a week of fog and rain this morning brings cloudless skies, warmth and a glorious sunrise. A honeysuckle infused break of day. There must be twenty different bird songs in the dawn chorus all of them delivered at full volume. For the first time this year the cuckoos out in force. These are the 'heavenly' things dog owners savour while others sleep.

Kestrels swoop and pirouette over the wheat in the field on the other side of the lane. Sophie watches them. Her big brother chases blackbirds across the lawn - inelegantly and inefficiently. 25 kilos of tail wagging PON thundering noisily towards them like a miniature Rhino gives the blackbirds ample notice of the impending threat.

It's barely seven am but a cheerful bunch of pilgrims are up and underway early. Starting at dawn means they have a chance to avoid the promised heat. They wave at Sophie and tell her she's a cutie. The tin mugs tied to their rucksacks clatter as they pass. For the PONs this clattering is a source of great interest. We've started to refer to the pilgrims as the PONs 'friends in gladness'. Pilgrims and PONs both share a laughter filled zest for the new day.

This morning Sophie is accompanied by the long shadow she casts on the gate. She stares at it - transfixed - in a ' Who'd have thought it ? ' way. The Old Farmer comes over to chat to her. He hasn't brought any biscuits so she soon gets bored.

A heavenly dawn, kestrel joy and friends in gladness. Some mornings the blog just writes itself. This is undoubtedly going to be the best day ever and we haven't even mentioned yogurt or croissant crumbs or chasing C-A-T-S. Loic will be here shortly to drive the lawn tractor which will bring a further touch of anarchic excitement to the PONs day.

This American girls thoughts about the culture shock of moving from a big US city to a tiny town in Scotland to study made us smile : https://youtu.be/kmDZcFK8xfw?t=1880

Friday, May 18, 2018

Freedom is not free.

On the other side of the road a tiny house sandwiched in between two others. Barely a door wide. What must it be like inside ?

Today the last day of exams. Lots of medical students walking around wearing that oh so familiar '' We've been revising for 3 days straight without sleep " look. Those that have finished their exams having photos taken with friends. Soon they'll scatter to every corner of the globe. The town fast emptying out. Lives lived at breakneck speed.

At the wee house 'The Font' tries to understand why we have so many high speed data cables but no high speed data. 

With no furniture to be delivered until lunchtime a chance to walk through the cathedral ruins with a neighbour - a retired history professor. It's the 700th anniversary of the cathedrals consecration. Almost 704 years after Robert the Bruce rode his horse to the high altar to celebrate the victory over the English at Bannockburn. The king provided enough funds to have the building finished. The professor points out the medieval monks graves which have chalices carved on them so that they can rise on judgment day and administer the sacraments. The wee house is made of recycled stones from the cathedral which is a thrifty touch.

Dinner at the restaurant that's been taken over by a couple from Edinburgh. The staff smart and enthusiastic young Canadians working for a year to experience the 'auld country'. 'The Font' has taken The Secret Barrister to read but - now an expert on the birds - sits and watches the fulmars building their nests on the edge of the cliff by the Catholic chapel. All the other tables taken by smartly dressed American golfing couples who assume the Canadian staff are also Americans. Apart from golf only one other topic of overheard conversation - Trump. The recent comments by Bill Gates much analyzed. America it seems is as riven by its politics as Britain is by Brexit.

A paving stone sports some interesting and not altogether untimely advice.

Something French to start the day . In fact every day should start with a song like this : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9GCM9DZUJo

Just imagine you got on the Toronto flight and found this happening to you : http://www.businessinsider.fr/us/british-airways-royal-wedding-flight-to-only-carry-crew-named-meghan-harry-2018-5?utm_source=feedly&utm_medium=webfeeds

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A reflective PON.

A morning spent on the phone to men in dark suits. Mr. Kushners two-state plan for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is due to be announced at the end of June. Angus suggests some delay may be anticipated. Bob listens as I talk, puts his head on my foot and falls asleep. Sophie prowls the house in search of yogurt pots.

There is progress in Scotland. Parcels are delivered. There is only one breakage - a small table. Mid-morning we discover the replacement sofa is stranded in Malmo. The department store in Stockholm is called. It's pointed out that it's now more than six months since the order was placed. '' You could make a baby in that time " says 'The Font' employing a piece of Swedish logic that might have gained , or lost, something in translation. It seems to work.  The sofa will be shipped from Malmo to Goteborg today for delivery on Friday. A miracle if it happens

The television aerial men arrive. They are what 'The Font' describes as a '' Cheery bunch". This doesn't auger well. They mistakenly take down our neighbours aerial and replace it with a new one. They only discover the mistake when the reception in the wee house is tested. There is none.  The neighbour is delighted and offers to pay. '' My pictures absolutely perfect ". We can hardly expect an old retired academic lady to pay for our mistake. The aerial company are unhelpful.

The roses are looking battered by the weather. All  of them are supposed to be pink but three have reverted to white. When I speak to the fancy English rose company about this they tell me '' You must be mistaken ". Angus could argue but having spent the last month talking to furniture companies he doesn't have the energy to open up another battleground.

Some strange alien things have started to sprout on the lawn. There are three of them. They certainly haven't been planted by us. Has the long wet spell woken them from dormancy ? I shall make sure Loic steers well clear of them when he drives the lawn tractor. They look exotic but could just as easily be a weed. They have that look that says they may grow into something really tall.

Wet weather means mud. Mud means mucky PON jaws. Sophie's beard is matted in a stylish Lenin like tuft.

Bobs nose and muzzle hint that there may have been some mole digging.

Across the generations we've always had one PON who sits alone listening to things that human ears can't hear and watching things no human eye can see. With this generation it's Sophie. She sits alone on the gravel , lost in thought, until the light fades and its time to come in. Two dogs , such different characters. Guess this makes Sophie a reflective PON.

Who knew making an airline map could be so difficult  ?:https://somethingaboutmaps.wordpress.com/2018/05/15/on-airline-mapping/

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Pause, howl then leap.

It rains heavily all day apart from lengthy periods when the rain forms downpours of biblical proportions. On the lane the area between the two sleeping policemen fills with water - a phenomenon the PONs find compellingly interesting. Sophie runs backwards and forwards through the newly formed lake discovering she can create a bow wave. 

The village green looking very ..... green. The four standard roses that have been planted round the war memorial doing their best to bloom but the wind and rain keep tearing off the petals.

The swaying Jesus is not leaning as badly as the conversation with the mayor might have suggested. The problem comes when it tilts forward and the upright beam presses against the brickwork. The stone capping's have been displaced by the movement and the back wall is starting to bulge. An emergency village council meeting will be arranged.

Sophie hunts for toads - dead or alive - round the village pond.

She can be a highly entertaining companion. Her hunting technique - pause, howl then leap - may not be optimal but it makes me laugh aloud , frequently.

'The Font' arrives at the wee house in the late afternoon to find that Phil the joiner is finishing the wardrobe. He has done a good job . Phil spends twenty minutes describing where the ash trees were growing and how he cut down and then seasoned and shaped the wood. The wardrobe door when opened fully presses against the security bolt on a bedroom window. Some thought will need to be given to this but it is not mentioned to Phil. The priority is to get him finished and away.

After dinner 'The Font' is torn between a performance of Guys and Dolls at the local theatre or a series of presentations by post graduate students about their research. 'The Font' spends an hour listening to a young man explain the breeding habits of fulmars. A subject that remarkably little is known about as these most secretive of birds live far out at sea for most of the year.