Everyday life in a rickety old Scottish farmhouse with a very happy Polish Lowland Sheepdog. A record of those unimportant little things that are too important to be forgotten.
Saturday, May 31, 2014
You can go a long way with bad legs and a good head.
Bob and Sophie watch as fifty or so septuagenarian farmers, kitted out in day-glo orange hats and jackets, arrive for their quarterly '' hunting breakfast ". A bibulous affair. Large quantities of Floc and a chunk of baguette. Doleful looking hunting dogs run up and down outside the village hall howling in frustration. Bob and Sophie howl back. '' Please Lord let them not be hunting anywhere near us " says 'the font'. 10:23 am : a convoy of battered white vans, hunting dogs on board, head off, slowly, very slowly, down the hill. From the driving we can assume that the old farmers are not in a state to do much damage.
This morning the chocolate gateau is rejected and we opt instead for a light orange sponge. While it's being wrapped the bakers wife gives each of the PON's a handful of croissant crumbs. Bob's tail goes into overdrive.
Sophie has been eating carrots and windfall cherries ( a lot of them ). She lies, on the wooden garden table, sunning herself. She snores. She also passes wind. PON heaven.
This is a bit 6th grade but could you name the biggest object in the universe ?
Friday, May 30, 2014
We have been taught to believe that negative equals realistic and positive equals unrealistic.
A visit to the cheese lady. This morning we're adventurous. Some Fleuron d'Aquitaine and a Swiss cheese, Le Poya. Each harder in texture and saltier than our usual choices. Bob and Sophie have no problem with the taste or the texture - both meet with their approval. Bob stares at the cheese lady in the hope that she might give him the large piece of cheese on the counter rather than the tiny sliver that's proffered.
At the fishmonger a fresh delivery. We opt for a large Saint Pierre. There's Limande on the counter but it's certainly not Sole Limande which we think, but no one seems to know, is the French for Lemon Sole. Perhaps it's a fish you only find in Scotland ? What is it called in the US ? Flounder ?
Rather than throw it out, 'the font' has had the Idahoans old bed linen laundered and posted back from London. Pillow cases, knotted at either end, are perfect for tug of war. They're supposed to be played with indoors but they're quickly dragged out into the garden.
Thursday, May 29, 2014
Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud.
No clambering on the furniture. Bob's pretty much got the idea. You can make up your own mind about Sophie.
We stop off at the Ascension Day market. The greengrocer's wife is setting out a tray of Sweet Potatoes . Here in deepest France profonde you rarely see anything American for sale. She's written out a sign 'Patate Douce des USA'. What the locals will think of this exotic import remains to be seen. At the equivalent of $2.90 a pound she's had no takers. I'm not sure it's a good idea to slice them in half. Bob and Sophie each get given a green bean. An act of kindness too unimportant to be recorded in a diary but too important to be completely forgotten.
Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The snacks you can eat between meals without ruining your appetite.
A gardening day. Sophie wanders over to the vegetable plot, digs up a carrot, licks it clean and then devours it. After the carrot she turns her attention to the strawberry patch. Eating a strawberry without uprooting the plant requires a gentle touch. Sophie has it. Bob doesn't. The strawberry patch picked clean, or in Bob's case trampled on, the intrepid duo head off to the cherry orchard in search of windfalls. Vegan PON's.
It's surprising how much soil a PON can displace when digging up a carrot.
Just one of those ' isn't the world wonderful ? 'days with two healthy young dogs.
Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Variety is the soul of pleasure.
Sophie wanders in from the cherry orchard looking disheveled. A bad hair day. Bob follows her in. He rests his chin on my knee and gives me that '' What are we going to do now ? " look . We play touch rugby.
Eagle eyed observers will note the lump missing from the fur on Sophie's chest. She was enjoying a gentle hair trim when a group of pilgrims, wooden staffs click-click-clicking on the tarmac, walked by. Sophie exploded off the table, clippers flying after her. End result - a less than even haircut.
Sophie's brilliantly shiny nose, like Bob's ever wagging tail, one of the seven canine wonders of the world.
Until last night I'd never heard this played. -http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cxlf-ZmE8JI
Monday, May 26, 2014
Put a touch of glory in your life.
For Bob a day spent savaging his sister, chasing blackbirds, watching pilgrims and dozing on the doorstep. Villagers on their way to the polling booth are greeted by a shaggy dog standing on a chair. Its tail wags madly .
Filets de loup a citronelle for lunch, milk braised pork with fennel for dinner. Bowls licked until they sparkle.
Humans may have good days and bad days. For sixteen month old PON's every day is simply glorious.
Sunday, May 25, 2014
A foreign country is not designed to make you feel comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.
For Bob and Sophie there's no such thing as 'just another quiet Sunday'. At first light they're out of the door and hurtling round the garden with an enthusiasm that says '' This is the best day. EVER". Later on there's an illicit half croissant to be shared at the cafe under the arcades.
Today is polling day for the elections to the European Parliament. An exercise in democracy that has failed to enthuse the 67 inhabitants of our little village. At 7.30 the blinds on the Mairie are raised. We know it's an important day because in addition to his red chequered pork pie hat the mayor is wearing his tricoleur sash. On the terrace outside the mayors wife has set up a tressle table . She is whistling as she sets out a large pile of her trademark honey filled croissants. Bob and Sophie are greatly taken with the idea of honey filled croissants.
There are now eight election posters up in front of the town hall. The established party candidates all have forced smiles on their photographs. The happy couple on the Ecology Party poster have clearly not been told to look serious. The lady from the Europe Citoyenne party '' Vote for You " may , or may not, have had her hair done for her photograph.
The Old Farmers Christmas Star came on , as planned, at ten last night. It presumably went off at two.
Saturday, May 24, 2014
When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.
The Old Farmer is off to Belarus to visit his fathers grave. The ancient motor home waxed and sparkling. We're to keep an eye on the house while he's away. To deter burglars the Old Farmer has wired up the Christmas star so that it comes on between ten at night and two in the morning. He has also put up a line of coloured lights along his gutters and attached them to a motion sensor. '' You'll know someones snooping around if they light up " .
For the journey he's wearing a Canadian fur trappers hat with ear flaps, a red check shirt and a pair of dungarees. Open toed sandals complete the ensemble. Strasbourg tonight, Warsaw tomorrow and Grodno on Monday. 'The font' gives him a pre-paid mobile phone ( and instructions on how to use it ) so he can call us if he gets into trouble. We stand in the road and wave him goodbye.
Friday, May 23, 2014
The brain is a wonderful organ. It starts the moment you get up and does not stop until you get into the office.
It pours with rain. The little angels are kept indoors. 'The font' knots an old pillow case and gives it to them to play tug-of-war with. Sophie hasn't quite got the hang of tug-of-war. She grabs the pillow case and disappears with it . Bob accepts this antisocial behaviour in stoical silence. However, when Bob gets the pillow case Sophie goes into her crazed diva routine. '' My life is ruined. Do something about it !!! ". We end up rug surfing in the long corridor upstairs.
Bob and Sophie have a long walk along the valley by the river. There are lots of badgers and their cubs about so the PON posse are kept on their leads. The plumber arrives at eight. He abseils down the well. Bob and Sophie are keen to become actively involved in the replacement of the water pipes. Their enthusiasm is not welcomed. They get banished indoors. The morose lads pick cherries in the orchard.
The European parliamentary elections on Sunday. The first poster appears on the notice board outside the town hall. A rather stern looking man glares out over an untranslatable slogan that says 'liste antiremplaciste'. Closer scrutiny seems to suggest that the stern man is against everything. His website is succinctly captioned '' le-non.fr ". No. Short, sweet and nihilist.
Thursday, May 22, 2014
Enjoy present pleasures in such a way as not to injure future ones.
Gales overnight. A months worth of rain in an hour. This morning the cafe closed and shuttered. The PON duo try the front door but return to the car - crestfallen. Sophie lets it be known that all is not well with the world.
Home to find the plumber examining the cracked water pipe. ( Pleading does work ). Three shaven headed 'lads' are standing looking bored in the flower beds, smoking. Bob and Sophie keep a watchful eye on the morose trio. The plumber says he'll be back tomorrow to repair the pipe. '' I'll put on a harness and clamber down the well. It's only twenty or so metres ". This said with uncharacteristic ( and presumably expensive ) enthusiasm. Angus phones the insurance company to see if the household policy covers workmen drowning in the well. It does.
And here is a little 'Scotch' number to start your day.
Wednesday, May 21, 2014
The thermonuclear device and the banshee scream.
A strong Saharan wind blows all day.100 km/h gusts. The soil turned to clay, the standard roses bent at alarming angles. Time to switch on the irrigation system. I push the switch. The blue contraption in the basement, which looks like a thermonuclear device but is in fact a water pump, emits a banshee scream. Seconds later the cast iron pipe that draws the water up from the well cracks. The sudden surge of pressure sending a jet of water ten metres into the air. Quite spectacular in the way that only expensive household disasters can be. Bob and Sophie certainly think so. They rush in and out of the plume of water like toddlers at a funfair. That irrepressible ' isn't this fun ? ' sense of adventure. Toweled dry they both sleep for an hour.
The plumber says he'll be along in the next week or so. '' Can you give me a rough indication of when that might be ? " I ask. ' Non ' comes the reply.
Here's an interesting dog article from yesterdays WP.
Tuesday, May 20, 2014
He that can have patience can have what he will.
Free advice for French bank managers. When asked why the bank is sponsoring a hunting association that allows dog beating - use your Public Relations training. Pretend to be interested and say : 'I'm horrified. I shall look into it straight away and come back to you ". The foreign mad person across the desk will then be satisfied that something is being done and go. Job finished.
However, do not under any circumstances use the following responses :
- "No one else seems to have noticed"
- "These photographs could be of anything. You're not a very good photographer"
- "It's really not something that's important enough to spend more time on"
- "Write to whoever you want. It'll make no difference. It's my decision and it's final ".
- "If you don't like our ( the French ) way of doing things perhaps you should move".
This morning 'the font' is buying ten shares in a French bank. This is enough to ask questions at the next annual general meeting. A hand written letter is being sent to the Chairman. 'The font' thinks that no one ever writes by hand these days so it may, just, get onto his desk. Getting head office involved may not stop the dog beaters but they might think twice, or at least look over their shoulders, before doing it again.
Bob and Sophie spend a pleasant day noisily savaging one another. Sophie discovers the windfall cherries.
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