Wednesday, July 31, 2013

To know the road ahead ask those coming back.

It's going to be hot. First light and the air is already heavy with the mix of lavender, honeysuckle and rose . The smell of France in summer. 

While I open up the pool Bob and Sophie hare off to check the garden. Sophie finds an old toy in the laurel hedge. This keeps her quiet and  happy for ten minutes. Bob returns , his face alight with joy. He sticks out his tongue. '' I has found a slug. It was delicious ". Dog owners will know that this particular look is invariably followed by an enthusiastic face lick .

Local melons in the greengrocers. €3.50 each. Last year they were €2.00 . The impact of this years heavy rain.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Endurance pierces marble.

Bob does a bit of herding, has a doze then shreds a roll of kitchen paper that has been left in the back of the car.

Sophie does a bit of herding, has a doze then digs down deep to discover a crack in the sewage outflow pipe.

There was a time when we thought Sophie might be less boisterous than her brother . 

Monday, July 29, 2013

When you show the moon to a child , it sees only your finger.

Holiday season. The local restaurant unveils its ' menu touristique '.  They're offering Lamprey a la Bordelaise. An unusual addition to any menu . It's said Henry I loved Lamprey's so much he died after eating too many of them.

Bob and Sophie in fine form. Their mornings spent organizing the household. Their afternoons spent dozing in the shade . Late evenings spent under the garden dining table hoping that  someone will drop a plate of food. Continued amazement over the unruly antics of their enlarged flock.

On the front page of the local newspaper a story about a kangaroo that escaped from its enclosure and roamed round a neighbouring village . It took the fire brigade an hour to recapture it. The early morning baguette buyers ' happily entertained ' by the unusual sight. 

The excitement of summertime life in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

A fault denied is twice committed

The swimming pool cover repairmen drop off the missing screws in the post box. Why they would drive all this way and not fix them in place is a further mystery of French after sales service.

The builder phones at ten on Saturday night. Could he just 'pop by' on Sunday afternoon ?  In other words can he bring over his bill and could I have the cheque book open and ready ?

'Work' has started afresh on the 16th century pottery kiln. Quite how it's going to be made ready by next weekend remains to be seen. Sophie demonstrates her community spirit by christening it.

The baker has a new line in 'chilled' cakes. He describes these at length to a client on the other end of  the phone. The baker is completely oblivious to the large queue of would be baguette buyers that has built up behind him.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

An old rat is a brave rat.

A full throttle day. An unruly flock to herd. Meals to be supervised. Sticks to be retrieved. A garden to be guarded . Lavender to be chewed. A sunset to be watched. The crowded swimming pool to be marvelled at - but avoided. Everything to be participated in . Barely a moment to sit back and relax. This morning , when I come downstairs , Bob and Sophie are still asleep. A first .

The 'bad farmer' comes to take away the two cows from the field across the lane . For four years they've suffered periods of abject neglect interspersed with (briefer) moments of good stewardship. We've watered them in summer and shooed them off the roses in Spring. Now the wide eyed sisters are coaxed onto a crowded truck to be driven to Italy to be fattened up. A thousand mile journey in searing heat. A vignette of village life too inconsequential to be noted in a diary but recorded on this blog because it won't be recorded anywhere else. The rhythm of life in deepest France profonde.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Patience will achieve more than force

High summer. The rickety old farmhouse is suddenly full. A noisy dinner on the terrace finishes at well past midnight. This morning two happy but exhausted sheepdogs join me in my office. Bob brings in a Timberland boot to chew on.  They've discovered that their flock has suddenly got larger. ''We'll get some peace and quiet in here Sophie".  Sophie promptly falls asleep. Both are discovering that flocks can be unruly,exhausting, things.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

One minute of patience, ten years of peace.

The cafe's beer and absinthe crowd usually cluster together in the shade of the arcades .This morning they're sitting round a table on the pavement , sunbathing  and enjoying their second glass of pre-breakfast Pelforth . A cheerful '' Bonjour M'Ongoose ! ". The face of the little old lady in the blue dressing gown and pink pom-pom slippers has turned a ferocious lobster red. A moral lesson : Beer, absinthe chasers and direct sun a less than ideal mix . Today , thankfully , she has remembered to do up most of her dressing gown toggles.

On our way home we pass the last of the combines unloading its crop of wheat. The countryside dotted with bales of hay . From the top of the ridge the view of the Pyrenees obscured by a thick heat haze. France profonde slowing down for a long sun kissed  August. 

Home to find there's a cat in the garden . Bob and Sophie hurtle round, noses down, searching for the intruder. The cat, unconcernedly, ambles across the lawn before leaping onto the garden wall. By the time Bob and Sophie have given up their quest the cat is long gone. Bob has that look on his face that says '' Nothing  escapes my attention ". No point in disillusioning him.

It's Bob's turn for a walk round the village. Yesterday Sophie sat placidly for ten minutes watching the horses in the field by the village pond.  Bob takes a different tack. He wants to clamber over the ditch and join them .

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

If ignorance is bliss, why be otherwise ?

Hot and cloudy. One of those mornings when it seems like someones taken a woollen blanket, soaked it in hot water, then wrapped it round your shoulders. The road repair gang must agree. They started work at six o'clock. Bob was soon at the garden gate to welcome them. 37 degrees forecast for this afternoon.

The garlic festivities into a second day. Outside the little market towns 1 star hotel a bevy of fancy cars with Paris plates. The  great and the good of the garlic world here en masse. We pass a solitary old farmer sitting at a table in the market hall to escape the heat . Tonight the chairs will be filled for a  festive dinner and the award of the 'Miss Garlic 2013' title. 

Bob and Sophie are each given a small 50 cent Chevre batonette from the stall selling garlic sausage.They sit by me at the cafe under the arcades and chew contentedly on this delicacy. A previous generation of PON's used to enjoy a similar seasonal treat.  The waitress brings them the mandatory, shared, half croissant. She laughs. The beer and absinthe crowd laugh. A table of four Belgian tourists laugh. A happy circle of continuity.

'The font' takes Bob off for an hours worth of shopping and socializing . Sophie heads off with me for a walk round the village. At the horse field we stop. Sophie sits, entranced, at the sight of two horses happily eating the mallow hedge. Ten minutes of amazement. The village pottery festival now a mere week and a half away. No sign, yet, of the promised repair to the pottery kiln.

So starts a summer Wednesday in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

When you are chased by a wolf you call the boar your uncle.

Time for a quick drink from the hosepipe before we set off into town. Bob sticks his head right under the jet , gulping down the water . His head soon soaked . Sophie does her best to drink without getting wet.

The annual garlic auction. Three days when the worlds garlic aficionado's descend on our little patch of paradise. Most of the action taking place in a large steel shed on the outskirts of town.  Ever eager to catch a stray tourist  a variety of stalls selling 'decorated' garlic have appeared on the road that leads to the church.  Business this morning is slow. A poster informing us that the world garlic peeling contest will be held under the market hall roof this evening. We buy two twists of fresh garlic, one of white the other  purple. Bob and Sophie find the whole thing fascinating. Their favourite part ? The garlic sausage stall.

Monday, July 22, 2013

No answer is also an answer.

The morning croissant run. Young foals penned with their mothers on the rich grass down by the stream . Some sleeping, some grazing. All legs and innocence. 

In the little market town another 'antiques' market. What time must these people get up ?  It's barely gone seven and already trestle tables are beginning to line the street. A coachload of Belgian tourists doing some pre-breakfast bargain hunting. The term ' antique ' once again proving to have a different meaning in France. Bob eyes up a rather frightening doll that looks as though it's had a long career in  'C' list horror movies. We move on. A hat stall with a large pile of black berets. '' Very popular " says the owner clearly hoping Angus might buy one.

Midnight. Sophie gives us a scare. Bob barks. Not his usual ' let's party ' bark. A ' you'd better get down here quickly ' bark. Sophie's not well. She can't stand,has become separated from her dinner, and is trembling. A quick dash to the vet. She's eaten a poisonous toad. Two injections. One to deal with the venom, another to deal with the shock. This morning she's as right as rain. Has anyone else noticed how dogs are always taken ill late at night, at weekends, or on national holidays ? Once again we're thankful for the kindness and dedication of a slightly bleary eyed vet.