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.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Not so quickly.
A chill start to the day but the sun is soon out and the mercury rising. Bob spends the morning with his nose and paws out of the front door. His serious ' I'm not asleep. I'm guarding the house with my eyes closed ' look. Sophie digs up the lawn looking for moles.
Fewer pilgrims now. The few that do wander past are greeted with enthusiasm, if not panache, by the PON's.
What has gone on in the kennels is a matter of conjecture but Bob has lost three pounds and Sophie has gained two. We have our suspicions. At dinner time Sophie wolfs down her food then lets out her ear splitting ' there's a cat out there ' yelp. Bob stops eating and rushes to the door. Sophie moves to her brothers bowl and starts to devour his kibbles. The intervention of a human saying ' not so quickly sister ' stops her. Bob, happy and innocent as ever, returns to his dinner, oblivious to his sisters tricks.
Monday, September 29, 2014
A universal truth.
'The font' is on an astronomy course. It's a nine to five schedule. But not the nine to five you might imagine. This comes as a surprise to all concerned.
In a museum a formal family portrait of a Victorian family. In the foreground a scruffy terrier. The out of focus dog has shaken its head just as the photographer says 'cheese'. Victorian dog photographers and modern day ones united by subjects that never sit still.
Each morning a gentleman with a motability scooter takes up position outside Starbucks. Beside him a small black dog on a fluffy cushion. Every ten minutes or so the dog stands on its back legs, rotates through 360 degrees , then settles down again. Strangers come up and chat to the old man. After two hours the dog is loaded into the wicker basket on the front of the scooter and off they go for lunch. Proof that your never far from a conversation when you have a dog in tow.
Back here Bob and Sophie ensure the garden is safe and then settle down to sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
If this happiness could be packaged or bottled I'd make a fortune.
Bob is looking svelte. Sophie less so.
Back. Bob and Sophie to be collected at nine.
Back at midnight from a sunny England. Gatwick airport on a Saturday night reminiscent of Dante's description of the seventh circle of hell. Saturday night is when Italian teenagers travel en masse. The concept of queueing something that is quite alien to them. Bob and Sophie to be collected when the kennels open in an hour. Angus is dressed in thick, enthusiasm proof, dog collecting clothes.
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
The lady at the fish shop is preparing some smoked salmon. She trims the skin and throws it into a bucket at the side of the counter. Today the salmon skin misses the bucket and lands at Bobs feet. Quick as a flash he picks it up and then stands there. His feet want to move, his tail wants to wag, his mouth wants to chew but they can't. He's suffering from joy overload. All he can do is snort. Finally he circles round, head down, doing a peculiar soft shoe shuffle while enjoying the heaven sent delicacy.The tail goes into overdrive. His sister is not impressed.
Sophie's day gets worse. There's a long queue outside the fancy bakers. No choux pastry crumbs for her. We head back to the car and then, after a walk along the top of the ridge, home.
Bob got cheese yesterday and salmon skin today. There was nothing from the bakers to lighten Sophie's despair. What's a girl to do ?
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
For there is no friend like a sister, in calm or stormy weather, to cheer one on the tedious way, to fetch one if one goes astray, to lift one if one totters down.
A diagonal band of clouds stretches to the horizon. The first time in a month there's been anything other than blue skies. Guess that's pretty much a textbook definition of an Indian Summer.
It's a balmy seventy five degrees. Today, for the first time since April, the Moroccan gentleman at the cafe under the arcades is wearing his blue knitted woolen hat. '' Cold '' he says, in what could be either a greeting or an explanation, before settling down with a pile of lottery scratch cards. The Moroccan gentleman never seems to order anything. Nor, come to that, does he ever seem to be lucky with his scratch cards.
Sophie heads off for a power walk round the lake. Bob comes with me to the cheese lady. He has some slivers of Pont-l'Eveque. Back home in the kitchen Sophie smells her brothers breath. She's not happy. Not happy at all. There is nothing in nature like a sister robbed of a sliver of Pont- l'Eveque.
Monday, September 22, 2014
An autumnal feel to our mornings. It's staying dark now until seven thirty. Bob and Sophie stand at the courtyard gate watching the school buses pick up their charges. Three worldly wise teenagers slouch on the town hall steps. Two 'bad' boys smoke a cigarette, furtively, behind the gazebo. The little ones stand with their mothers by the war memorial. They've been back at school for three weeks but some of the five year olds still have the forlorn look of convicts being shipped off to Devils Island.
The young fireman who plays left wing for the local rugby club comes barreling out of Flagrant Desire, the improbably named local jewellery store, and runs straight into 'The Font'. He's paid off the final instalment on the engagement ring and is steeling himself for the important task ahead. '' Do you think she'll like it ? " he says opening up a small red velvet box. '' It's zirconium and diamond ". 'The Font' looks at the ring and after a moments pause says ' It's quite something. She'll be the happiest girl in the world '. The young fireman's face lights up. As he heads off on his motor bike he stops, lifts his visor and shouts back ' Thank You '. One of life's truisms : Never stint on encouragement.
The routines of life in deepest, deepest France profonde.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
The Air France strike enters its second week. No incoming flights to disturb our morning reverie. Seven thirty. We head off to the foire aux vins at the supermarket. Once or twice a year the big chains sell off their stocks at a 20-30% discount. This is when the canny French buy their wine. Angus arrives just before the door opens. Ten minutes later, the car park is full and the aisles crowded. The early bird gets the worm or in this case four cases of Pomerol.
Bob and Sophie are decidedly unhappy that their morning trip to the cafe under the arcades has been delayed. Their owner gets a reproachful look. When we do finally arrive the beer and absinthe crowd are in their usual positions. The lady with the blue dressing gown is today wearing a new pair of curly toed orange slippers festooned with blue baubles. These would not be out of place in renaissance Florence. The illicit half croissant is mercifully still available.
The Very Old Farmer accepts the twice daily visit from the district nurse but rejects the 'meals on wheels ' and home help services as 'interfering women'. In the afternoon ' the font ' has a brief chat with him. Later he's seen on his ancient tractor careening across the village green towards his vegetable patch. His lifetime ban from driving seems to have been forgotten.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
We order an Opera and a Millefeuille from the fancy cake lady. The Opera turns out to be one of the very best I've ever had. Bob and Sophie get given slivers of choux pastry. This is enthusiastically received. Sophie wants to stay in the bakers rather than return home. She has to be ordered outside. Bob does what he's told.
On our morning walk we pass the melon pickers. Or, to be more precise they pass us. They're standing on the back of a trailer being towed by an old orange tractor . Sophie scurries behind my legs. Bob takes up his big brother position and lets out a basso profundo bark. One of the melon pickers looks. The others ignore us.
It's been so dry the well has finally stopped working. In the afternoon Bob and Sophie dig up the lawns searching for moles. At five thirty the Very Old Farmer returns home in an ambulance. Madame Bay is there to greet him.
The excitement of life in a village in deepest, deepest France profonde as summer nears its end.
Friday, September 19, 2014
Life is good.
Bob and Sophie sleep soundly. The results from the Scottish referendum insufficient reason to stay awake. From time to time Bob's tail goes thwack-thwack-thwack as he dreams of chasing squirrels. At 4.11 am the results from Falkirk come in. The result clear. Time to open a bottle of champagne . At the sound of the cork both PON's open their eyes, then close them again.
Life for this PON brother and sister is good. Their owner is now going to get some sleep.
Here's some apt Friday morning Bach http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzX42Z0McFU&list=RDy6gWg-VJ_Lw
Thursday, September 18, 2014
"Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation."
All corridors from airport terminals to airport hotels are identical. This holds true wherever you are. Can there be only one firm of architects that designs these things ? Is it a way of reassuring jet lagged travellers that they're on familiar territory ?
Angus returns home to be greeted by two enthusiastic PON's. Bob makes it clear that he's been working 24/7 and deserves a long Mano a Mano conversation. Sophie screams .
Will this be the song being played tomorrow morning ?
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Bob is up and in the back of the car eager to head off to the cafe under the arcades. His sister can be found in the kitchen watching 'the font' make toast. She is demonstrating her 'spare leg' technique of sitting while willing the toast to fall on the floor.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Sophie entertains herself by first licking, then scratching, then eating the lime plaster on the wall by the front door. She also employs this technique on the skirting board.
Banished outside she plays tug of war with her brother. She then savages him. There's time afterwards to bark at pilgrims.
For her this is all in all a very satisfying start to the day .
What every 'No' voting Scottish sheepdog fears http://www1.politicalbetting.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/justyouwait-1.png
Monday, September 15, 2014
Nothing like it in Bismarck.
Where do they get their energy from ? Bob and Sophie are out of the door before I've picked up the car keys. Sophie gives me her ' what's been keeping you ? ' look. I head off with them for the breakfast croissants.
At the market the tourists have gone and the Moroccan basket sellers are not doing a roaring trade. I keep Bob well away from the baskets just in case he has a 'christening' moment.
In the afternoon we go with the Americans to the newly opened museum of Chromo lithographic advertising. We are the only people there. It takes exactly three minutes to see the exhibits. 'The font' says it's rude to go so quickly so we go round again, twice. On our way out the curator asks if we're going so soon. '' We've got to be somewhere else but we'll be back " says American woman. American man says there's nothing like it in Bismarck, North Dakota. The curator is delighted.
And for the Scots among you here are two pieces. One serious :http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/67017a0a-390d-11e4-9526-00144feabdc0.html?siteedition=intl#axzz3D12rPErd
And one that made me laugh :
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