Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wolves don't lose sleep over the opinion of sheep.

Something I've never seen before. Crayfish crossing the old roman road. They're three quarters of the way between the stream and one of the little lakes the local farmer uses to irrigate the sunflower fields. The crayfish wave their claws at us as we pass. The PONs, who find this intriguing, are grabbed by their harnesses and ' helped along '. A  precaution in case sensitive noses and hard pincers meet in an 'educative' moment.

The builders are already hard at work when we return . The morose lads carrying lengths of zinc down pipe through the flowerbeds. At eleven they all mysteriously disappear. Bob and Sophie watch two white vans and two fork lift trucks roll out of the gates. 'The font' surmises that another household has read them the pre-holiday riot act. Something along the lines of '' If you don't get this finished today you'll not get another penny out of me ". The builders return at four. No explanation for their absence is forthcoming. At six they leave; cheque in hand. They've also left a mallet on a corner of the roof.

Bob and Sophie have had a great day. They would be only too happy if the builders were here every day. Of course it would be even better if the builders brought Jaffa Cakes.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Live, travel, adventure, bless and don't be sorry.

The builders show up ( unannounced ) to repair the downpipes and guttering damaged in the storm. A pleasant surprise. The head honcho suggests I may wish to pay in advance. His kind suggestion is ignored. 

Bob and Sophie are amazed by the feverish activity. Morose youths, made suddenly unmorose by the thought of a pay cheque, are hoisted skywards to clean the gutters. Figures can be seen scurrying across the roof replacing broken tiles. Two fork lifts cross the courtyard making high pitched beeping noises . Bob barks from behind the large box tree to let them know who's boss. Sophie insists on supervising the putting up of the scaffolding. Both PON's help excavate ditches.

The workmen will be back this morning to complete the job. After that they head off for a month. The PON duo will be delighted to have a second day of excitement.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cats !!!!

The Old Farmer has taken to feeding the local cats. This morning three of them cavort on his doorstep. They seem to know that Sophie can't get to them. Bob watches on silently from his stump seat. Sophie stands and squeals in high pitched frustration. The cats are completely untroubled.

The butchers, the cafe, the newsagents, the greengrocers, the two cheese ladies, the sausage man and the traiteur all closed for their annual August holidays. The town full of visitors with nowhere to spend their money. The fancy bakers remains open. I'm urged me to buy one of their 'new' coffee and praline cakes. This looks light and fluffy. Carrying it to the car it suddenly dawns on me that it remarkably heavy. In fact leaden might be a better description. 

At the local supermarket they have installed a Sushi stand. Two oriental gentlemen in red head bands are doing their best to attract custom. The locals look on with ill disguised suspicion. The inhabitants of deepest France profonde are reticent about the thought of raw fish, especially foreign raw fish.

Who would believe Americans have stopped buying breakfast cereal ?

Monday, July 28, 2014

Non-verbal communication.

Muggy when we set off, even muggier as the day progresses. The low clouds holding in the heat. A large scorpion - all of four inches long - crosses the old roman road in front of us. Sophie is particularly keen to get up close and personal with it. Thank heavens the two of them are on their leads.

We go to the cafe in the little market town on the other side of the valley. Bob and Sophie only get a bowl of water here but there are new faces to see and new scents to follow. Two Dutch families are having breakfast at an outside table. Each of the children is drinking Pepsi from a bottle. The parents drink beer. They ask for cheese with their croissants. The waiter looks at them in that way only French waiters can. Non-verbal communication.

And here's a thought provoking Monday morning piece from Stanford :

Sunday, July 27, 2014

All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite.

The bee man knocks a two foot hole in the kitchen wall. Three hours later the bees are smoked out and taken off in the back of a van. They fill four cardboard boxes. '' You'll see them again. They always return to a place they like " says the bee man matter of factly. Neither 'the font' nor Angus are sure whether they share the bee mans enthusiasm for this apian homing instinct.

Bob and Sophie were completely untroubled by the thunder and lightening. A benefit of spending the first three month of their lives on a mountain farm where thunder was a daily occurrence. The high humidity does not suit Sophie. Her fur frizzes into an unkempt perm. Not so much a bad hair day as a frightful hair day.

Have you all seen this video of a dog fainting from unbridled joy ? Seems a grand daughter came to visit after 2 years and the Schnauzer overdosed on happiness . 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

We could all learn from the weather. It pays no attention to criticism.

The day the Tour de France comes through the neighbouring departement. Naturally it rains. Not just any rain but Newfoundland rain - heavy, constant, and unrelenting. The skies so black the solar lights come on. By nine the thunder has started shaking The Rickety Old Farmhouse to its foundations. Bob and Sophie being farm dogs are completely oblivious to it.  A little before ten three fire trucks rush along the lane - a modern house at the other end of the village has been hit by lightening and set on fire. At lunchtime the French teacher phones to tell us that she and her husband were asleep in bed when three roof tiles came through the ceiling .

At the cafe under the arcades the beer and absinthe set are glum.  Noses pressed against the window. Outside, under the arcades, a foreigner sits reading the paper. At his feet two fluffy, croissant eating, dogs. The local paper has a full page story about a German pilgrim ( Klaus ) whose horse ( Arkan ) has careened through the streets of a local town. Life here moves at a different tempo.

Later the sun comes out, the rain evaporates and we settle down for an evening of heat and humidity. From winter in Newfoundland to summer in Louisiana all in one day. Bob and Sophie remain uniformly enthusiastic.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A joy that's shared is a joy made double.

We set off down the ox track towards the stream. By the time we get there the sun is slowly rising above the sunflower fields. The PON's are kept on their leads. For me it's just another walk. For them it's a huge adventure. This morning there's the scent of deer and fox and hare and mouse and vole and badger and who knows what else. Olfactory drama. As we climb back up the hill Bob and Sophie leap inelegantly at swarms of butterflies. The butterflies scatter, safely, in all directions. Bob and Sophie don't care about being inelegant. On a sunny morning like this pure happiness makes young dogs feel as light as air. 

Back for a drink from the bee mans bucket. Water from a bucket always tastes better than water from a bowl. The duo then clamber in the back of the car for the next part of the daily routine - the illicit half croissant at the cafe under the arcades. Can it get any better ? At the market Square Bob hurries his sister and his owner along. 

Those daily routines too inconsequential to be written in a diary but too important to a dog owner to go totally unrecorded. That slow cementing of absolute trust. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The bees knees.

Sophie keeps an eye on passers by. In the afternoon she savages her four legged starfish. Bob's starfish has lost all its legs and there is nothing he would like more than getting hold of Sophie's toy. In this he has limited success. 

Our previous problems with bees can be read here : . 'The font' steadfastly refuses the use of insecticides. ' They're honey bees '. So it is we spend our day trying to find a bee friendly way of dealing with the ever expanding apian hoarde.

The old beekeeper has retired. He has a nephew . '' I've taught him everything I know. Don't you worry M'Ongoose. I'll call him ". It seems the nephew is a man of leisure. He shows up at the gate within two hours. The afternoon is spent watching a man in a white one piece jump suit (with matching head gear) wandering round the garden peering into bushes. He promises to return today with all the right equipment. 

The village pottery fair now less than two weeks away. A poster appears advertising the lunchtime menu. After last years disappointment with the paella the villagers are staying with the safety and practicality of grilled sausage.

And here's an article of interest for dog lovers from this mornings Scotsman :

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies.

Second day of the garlic fair. An onion stall has been set up where the man with the motability scooter usually parks. The pre-breakfast beer and absinthe crowd are not happy at this change to their routine. Bob and Sophie are too busy savouring their illicit half croissant to notice  the dark looks being cast in the direction of the onion sellers. 

On the market square a stall selling 'luxury' strings of garlic. 'Luxury' relates to the bright ribbons that tie the cloves together. You pay €15 for the 'luxury' option or €7 for a monotone string. A line of eager Parisians has already formed.

Home to find that the bees have returned. A thousand or so swarming around a light fitting on the terrace. A quick search on Google and we discover that honey bees like direct sun. These initial settlers get things ready then the Queen and another forty thousand follow on behind. 'The font' asks Angus what he intends to do about it.

The Tour de France is getting closer. Big signs at the motorway pay toll advising travellers to avoid coming to work on July 25th . This is todays section.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Garlic Knights.

Six am. Bob announces that it's a beautiful day. His sister agrees. No need for an alarm clock in this household. PON timekeeping is as precise as it gets.

We've forgotten that it's the first of the annual garlic auctions. Our usual parking spot taken by a silver Mercedes with Paris number plates. The road down to the cafe under the arcades lined with local farmers peddling their 2014 harvest. Even though it's barely gone six thirty there's already a small crowd of French buying their coming years supply .

Outside the library the Knights of the Grand Confraternity of Garlic are gathering ahead of the public auction. The mornings commerce will be followed by a lunch in the market hall. For €13 there's garlic soup, garlic tart, chicken in garlic, ice cream and coffee. After the illicit half croissant Bob and Sophie linger by the open door to the town hall kitchens where the first of the lunchtime chicken and garlic is beginning to be slow roasted.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Before the croissant.

The  heat finally goes. It's replaced by scudding clouds and spots of rain that never quite turn into a shower. We sit outside late into the night with two cool and contented furry beasts snoring at our feet.

This morning the sausage man at the market lets the PON's try a slice of sausage with herbs. It's rather too early in the day for their owner to be eating charcuterie.  Bobs tail wags at metronome speed. On a scale of one to ten sausage scores an eleven; possibly a twelve. He gives the sausage man his best '' Why don't you and your sausages come to live with us ? " look.

The biscuit lady kneels down and slips each of them a small piece of flaky orange biscuit. We end up buying two hundred grammes. Sophie makes a sound that makes it absolutely clear that orange flavoured biscuits rank way up there with sausage in life's panoply of delights.

All of this before they get to the illicit half croissant at the cafe under the arcades.