Thursday, January 27, 2022

Be governed not by the tyranny of the urgent but by the elevation of the important

Last night Sophie had hake for dinner. Today, she will also have hake for breakfast . The fish was bought for dinner last night but after checking it 'The Font' decides that it's alright, but not great. A word will be had with the fishmonger. The fishmonger is  a man in the next village who has a cousin with a boat in Arcachon. He visits his cousin  twice and week and sells whatever has been landed that morning. Usually the fish is pretty good - his cod and langoustine are trawler fresh  - but hake might not be his thing.

The weather forecast indicates that this will be the last of our perfect mornings for a week or so. A rain bearing front is due in from the Atlantic. The freezing temperatures will be a thing of the past with the temperature set to rise back into double digits. Strong winds are also forecast.

After a long walk across country Sophie discovers there is nowhere quite as warm and comfortable as the back of the car with the tailgate up and the morning sun streaming in. The perfect place to dose.

There again the tartan bed ( toys determinedly discarded to make space )  is the perfect spot for a serious nap. As all PONettes know ' Be governed not by the  tyranny of the urgent but by the elevation of the important'.

French song of the day - listened to while collecting the breakfast baguette. Don't think this will be in the US charts anytime soon :

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


Another 500,000 cases reported overnight. France now the second country to reach that daily level. The pandemic means we continue to live in a world of small horizons. Shaggy dog and early rising owner can be found out and about as the sun rises. This early in the morning the sky is still shrouded in mist and the grass coated in a layer of frost. By the time we've made it to the cows field the sun has burnt off the mist and the frost. For the first time in 2022 the sun is warm on my face. We've already spoken to some serious folks in Delhi. Angus suggests they read this brief note on Ukraine by the Wilson Center:

From the Roman Road we can look up and see the mound where the first legionaries  in the region set up camp. Today the fort they built is covered in trees and two millennia of weathering has rounded its contours and smoothed its slopes . This doesn't stop intrepid urbanites from venturing out at weekends in search of treasure. Very occasionally , like once every five years, a lucky metal detector operator will find a coin or a piece of pottery. 

Roll on Spring. Warmer weather will bring with it a major trim of the family divas coat . A saunter through the mud to the waterfall makes a matted coat a mud caked coat. Sophie is very comfortable with this look.

Even more plane tree seeds have fallen overnight. They line the lane and cling to the family divas paws. A good ten minutes has to be spent removing them and some, if not all, of the mud.

Played on radio NRJ as we head off in the car for breakfast croissants. This could only be a French song :

Tuesday, January 25, 2022


1:16 am. The phone pings to let me know I've got a message. Must be important to be sent at that time in the morning. Turns out it's the phone company with the news there's an 'exciting new range of payment plans coming your way'. I have somewhat uncharitable thoughts about the phone company and its exciting new payment plans while trying to get back to sleep again.

The recent frost has caused the seed pods on the plane trees to burst . As we head off on our morning walk the verges on either side of the lane are thick with seedlings. It goes without saying that Sophie's fur attracts plane tree seedlings like a magnet attracts iron filings. Perhaps this happens every January but I've never noticed it before.

To avoid Sophie becoming completely covered in the things we head off to the seed free atmosphere beside the river.

Both pontoons have now been retrieved and towed back into place although there's no sign of the small yacht that had run aground on the sandbank midstream. Sophie chases after a leaf that blows across the concrete dock. This requires the PONettes close attention and some deft footwork. Apart from a young black Labrador and an adventurous Yorkie there is no one to be seen. Sophie's absolute favourite pastime is her walk down by the river. Doubly so when there's frost underfoot and exotic 'scents' are suspended in ice and waiting to be discovered. 

All our previous PONs were tail less. Sophie's tail, it has to be said, is an architectural thing that has a life of its own.

After an hours walk in the fresh air we head back home in the car. I suggest that Sophie joins me in the garden for some yard work. She opens one eye and imparts  a diva look that makes it 100% plain that beauty sleep is her priority.

This is one way of looking at things :

Monday, January 24, 2022

Morning slapstick.

Six am. It's dark and bone chillingly cold.  Neither of these factors dissuade Sophie from wanting to get her day started. Angus has already been up for an hour talking to Manhattanites about Russias ever shriller rhetoric and Americas decision to withdraw its diplomats from Kiev. Not the most light hearted of ways to start a day. Sophie, who is unconcerned about such things, hurtles off into the darkness in inelegant pursuit of something only she can see. The sound of a PON hurtling through, rather than around, a laurel hedge is unmistakable.

Today, serious conversations over, we head off to the drive thru bakers.  Dog and dogs companion share a rather uninspiring croissant in the back of the car. There is then time to chase the mallards and explore the waste paper bins outside the new gastropub before the workers arrive and the car park fills up. Sophie would be happy spending all day exploring the bins ( a cold burger patty is in there somewhere ) but is 'encouraged' back to the car.

On the way home we stop off at a motor way service area. The weather is beautiful so why not squeeze in an extra walk ? French motorway service stations are a delight - arguably the best in the world - and light years ahead of their miserable British namesakes. This one has a road that winds up into the hills for a good kilometre. The view from up high is worth the climb. Sophie enjoyed the shopping centre car park but the service station scents are of an altogether different calibre. They send her into olfactory raptures.

Back in the village we catch a glimpse of seven moorhens.  There is the thinnest layer of ice on the pond. As the moorhens scurry into the safety of the foliage they slip on the ice. Pandemonium ensues. I laugh at this morning slapstick routine.

So starts a quiet Monday morning in a village in deepest, deepest France profonde. 

Unusual story of the day :


Sunday, January 23, 2022



The sort of winter weather that could have come straight out of a Disney fairy tale. Blue skies, carpets of white frost and a Cecil B DeMille sunrise. Sophie is born for weather like this - which explains why she ( and her human companion ) can be found out and about at six thirty on a Sunday morning.

Yesterday, a large bus deposited sixty or so pensioners in the village. The inhabitants of an old folks home in Toulouse. They had a picnic on the village green and spent the afternoon wandering backwards and forwards along the lane. All of them were kitted out in identical bright red windcheaters - a practical touch in case any decided to wander off. Sophie , standing on her hind legs at the gate, greeted each and every passer by 'enthusiastically'. The visitors were just as happy to stand and say hello to her. This is the third or fourth time we've seen a group like this arrive in the village. Town dwellers keen to get out into the fresh air and enjoy simple pleasures after a long spell in lockdown. The fact the village hall has easily accessible public lavatories may also be a factor in why we're becoming a venue for day trippers.

This morning something rustling in the frost attracts my companions attention. Everything stops while this is explored.

Further up the hill an enticing scent gets the full 360 turn treatment.

Finally, a small pile of leaves at the road side has to be carefully studied. This is a job that cannot be hurried.

So starts a quiet Sunday with a Polish Lowland Sheepdog  in deepest, deepest France profonde .

Remarkable :

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Going slowly ?

A beautiful morning down by the river -  but boy is it cold.

Sophie paddles in the river, gets her muzzle dirty in the mud , finds a single pigeon wing with the feathers still on it ( what joy !) and spends a good five minutes staring at the swans. 

After that it's off to pick up the breakfast croissants. We've also been tasked with buying some flowers which means a quick detour to the supermarket shopping precinct.

None of the assistants in the florists are wearing masks. Angus scoops up a dozen or so bunches of flowers from the buckets at the front door. Apart from tulips and roses most bunches seem to only have three stems in them. The young woman behind the till has the annoying habit of shouting out each purchase ' One bunch of roses - five euros ninety. One bunch of tulips - two euros thirty '.  Having run through the purchases she then asks if I have a frequent shopper card. I don't.  She then wants to know if I want one. She then regales me with all the benefits of having one. I put on a second mask. This action brings the conversation to an end. She has clearly decided I'm a bad tempered loon with no interest in saving money. The concept of aerosol transmission is, it seems,  not universally shared.

How can it be Saturday ? You'd think time would go by slowly in a close to home pandemic . The strange thing about pandemic living is that the days seem to run seamlessly into one another. Is this because there are no trips to the big city to break them up ?


Friday, January 21, 2022

One to take away.

So much for the electrician showing up at four. He arrives at quarter to six. Angus was just opening a bottle of wine to let it breath before dinner when he arrives in the kitchen.  I could grumble but the man has clearly made an effort to see us before clocking off for the day. He also wears his mask - mouth and nose covered -  without being asked. As he goes he is thanked profusely.

Friday dawns grey and damp. There's a biting wind blowing in from the Bay of Biscay. On our morning walk the weather can't decide whether it wants to rain or sleet. We do our tour of the village briskly in an attempt to keep warm. It goes without saying that the family diva relishes these conditions. She is keen to explore the flashing Christmas lights strung between the wooden reindeers but is harnessed up and  'encouraged' home. Will the decorations come down this week or will they still be flashing away in February ?

We go to the drive through bakers. The young lady behind the window informs me they have a special on Galette des Rois.  We order one to take away. Sophie and her companion sit in the car park, watch the electrical store staff arrive for work and share a croissant. This is hardly the chic French lifestyle that most people dream about but it works for us on a dreech pandemic Friday morning in January.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse the wind has picked up and the palm tree outside the front door is shaking its fronds like a thing possessed. Sophie takes an executive decision. She settles down in her bed and is soon sound asleep with her harness still on.