Sunday, November 30, 2014

The end of English.

A front page story in the local paper saying that French will overtake English as the worlds most widely spoken language by 2050. The accompanying article is short on facts.

The papers readers also learn that the Swedish King and Queen are coming on a State visit to Paris. A multi-coloured map shows where Sweden is in relation to France. Next to it a photograph of the Swedish King looking decidedly glum. The Queen and the two Princesses are standing beside him smiling bravely in what appear to be costumes designed by Disney World. '' Bet they won't wear them in Paris " comments 'The Font'.

The fancy baker has been making use of his colourings. Angus buys four cakes and takes them home. Bob and Sophie are given slivers of shortbread. The 'religieuse violette' a talking point.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Not a bad start to a day.

A storm stirs in the mountains. At two in the morning it comes charging off the peaks and slams into The Rickety Old Farmhouse with all the finesse of a railroad car. Shutters bang, trees sway, the security lights come on. From the edge of the village I hear Max, the French teachers Golden Retriever, bark. Ten seconds later Bob joins in with a full throated 'bad weather ' alert. Sophie sleeps on. It takes more than a gale to interrupt her sleep . 

The Christmas decorations go up on the Market Square. The beer and absinthe crowd watch the council workmen in silence. Bob and Sophie are 'dissuaded' from helping. At the pasta stall the young woman has made artichoke croquettes. '' Make sure the ovens heated to a hundred and eighty and bake them for ten minutes exactly ".

Bob and Sophie get a little Parmegiano. Their tails wag. Not a bad start to a Saturday in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Sisterly misbehaviour.

Yesterday it was autumn. Today it's high summer. There's a band of dark cloud shrouding the horizon to the West but up here on the ridge it's bright and sunny. 

Bob and Sophie are in fine form. Bob chases something in a hedgerow. He thinks he's being stealthy but he makes a noise like a small rhinoceros. Whatever he's chasing quickly goes. Sophie stands by me and watches a lapis lazuli Kingfisher search for pollen in the brambles. Bob reappears. He's wearing his " nothing for you to worry about " look. I laugh. When they get home they spend half an hour savaging each other.

Sophie has finally had enough. It's time to finish the game and go inside. She signals her change of mood by grabbing the end of Bobs tail and holding on tight. Bob, who is a remarkably happy dog, accepts this sisterly misbehaviour with resigned good grace. 

This is an interesting article on dogs drinking habits:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Greetings.

Last night was a three hedgehog night. Each of them prodded with sensitive noses. You'd have thought the PON's might have learnt by now that hedgehogs are prickly. Sophie's dying diva squeals are quite something. The angelic duo send Thanksgiving Greetings. They've been up since first light telling all and sundry it's a great day.

And here, beautifully sung, is an old Dutch Thanksgiving song complete with clogs and smiling people. Wish I could explain why the choir is dressed for the 16th century while the congregation are dressed in zoot suits - but I can't : 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Autumn arrives.

Autumn arrives and with it thick mist. 'The font' heads back to London to see the thumb surgeon. Angus works in the garden planting Mahonias - the only thing that seems to thrive on this thick clay soil. Sophie looks for acorns under the oak trees. She eats them. Bob does his glum '' I've lost a sheep " routine.

Spirits pick up at lunchtime when the angelic duo smell a bacon sandwich cooking. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Swedes and the stray dog.

An ode to the power of the Swedish meatball.

Who's calling ?

A table outside the bakers with what appears to be a cake on it. Closer inspection shows that it's a very fancy loaf. '' I made a batch. They're €8.50. That's the last of them " says the baker. Why he's chosen today of all days to add fancy loaves to his repertoire goes unexplained. We settle for our usual croissants and baguette.

The plumbers arrive. They'd promised to come in the afternoon. They show up in the morning while we're out. Caroline, the unhappy cleaning lady, wears headphones while hoovering. The plumbers call us to say they can't get in. Caroline has bolted all the doors and is oblivious to their knocking and shouting. We try calling her on the land line and her mobile. No response. The plumbers leave.

The plumbers return in the afternoon. Seems the electricians disconnected the sensor that tells the radiators how cold it is. This is why they don't work. I ask the head plumber if he can reconnect it. '' I'm not an electrician "  the all too predictable reply. 

The fancy lighting company in Paris refuse to answer e-mails. When I call them the line mysteriously goes dead. This is the 'ignore the client' model of after sales service.

Bob and Sophie dig.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Multiple sounds.

Outside the church the the mayor can be seen operating a large green caterpillar tractor with an extendable arm. On the other end of the extendable arm is the man in the yellow day-glo jacket. He's being lifted onto the roof by the belfry. Angus decides to keep well away. Come five it's clear that this attempt to deal with the errant church bells has failed. They're still ringing merrily away . 

A change in the weather. A strong wind blows up. Branches litter the lawn. Bob and Sophie spend their evening savaging twigs. This is something they are happy to do for hours on end. PON's it must be said are not a quiet breed. This is particularly true of Sophie. She can simultaneously yelp, growl and squeal while twig savaging. 

And here's a Finnish Golden Retriever in an obedience competition. Guess he doesn't win.

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Someone has  'tinkered' with the new electronic bell system in the church. The bells now peeling away triumphantly on the hour , every hour, twice. It's as if a royal wedding is taking place. At three in the morning the novelty of the bells has worn thin. A Sunday morning call to the mayor is on the cards. I'll go round to see the Very Old Farmer to make sure he's managed to get some sleep. We are at least 50 metres from the church. He is directly opposite. 

In the afternoon 'The font' sits at the wooden table in the garden and works on the Mandarin course. This is proving to be a difficult language to get to grips with. Bob settles down on the table and is keen to help. Having been firmly told not to chew the textbook he finally falls asleep. Not even the bells disturb him.

In the evening two attentive PONs pay close attention as dinner is prepared. We're at that happy stage where both know their daily routine . Lunch and dinner play a large part in it. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Maybe next week ?

Up here on the ridge the skies are blue and it's sunny and warm. A balmy 70 degrees. Maybe opening a Haagen-Dazs store in November isn't so daft after all.

We stop off for our copy of Le Figaro. The newsagent has a new selection of postcards. The one of the leisure centre is particularly attractive.

Loic the gardener blows leaves. The PON duo leap in and out of the piles, heads buried deep, rumps in the air, tails waving. They manage to spend three hours at this before coming indoors and falling into a deep sleep. In the evening we play touch rugby. This works well until Sophie disappears with the ball. This marks the end of the game.

No sign of the electricians.  Maybe next week ? 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Cold radiators.

The man in the Post Office says '' You won't be seeing me again. I'm off to Peru ".  It takes a minute or two to digest this unusual greeting. It seems his wife is Peruvian and they've decided to retire there. I wish him all the best. 

The cheese lady launches into a long conversation about which types of chevres can be eaten with Burgundy. She talks and I listen. Bob and Sophie hang adoringly on every word. They get some rind. They are so still and quiet an innocent bystander might think they were angel dogs.

The scaffolding has finally come down on the new Haagen-Dazs store in the market square. Two young men with beards ( when did all young men suddenly start to sport beards ? ) can be seen inside. You'd think this would be a peculiar time of the year to open an ice cream shop. Perhaps the French are big on ice cream at Christmas .

This morning Loic the gardener is expected. He'll blow leaves into piles and Bob and Sophie will leap into them. The plumbers are also expected. They repaired and serviced the boiler last week. Ever since we've had super heated water from the shower but no heat in the radiators. 

This Englishman seems surprised about French hotels :

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A pleasant conceit ?

The mountains, freshly snow covered, turning purple as the sun rises. Last week the fields were tilled and brown. Now they're green with winter wheat. A lugubrious heron flies overhead. A dog owners rhythm of life. We head home. Bob is a brisk walker. Sophie is ethereal, forever pausing to take in the view or smell the last of the wild roses. She finds a dead squirrel and trots along with it, head held high so Bob can see how lucky she is. 

Out in the afternoon for a walk with Bob to the Belgian lady's house to hear her side of the dispute. She's happy, delighted, to have someone to chat to. For ten years she's been modernising her small house and turning what was a wilderness into a garden. All was fine until the land around her was sold to a riding school. Her idyll disturbed by cars dropping off children and using the driveway as a turning circle. The relationship with the riding school deteriorated. Tempers rose. Allegations of fences being pulled down by one side, of horse manure thrown over the hedge by the other. She unable to find a friendly ear. There's fault on both sides but the obvious solution is for the riding school to designate an area of land for car parking and for the Belgian lady to take a deep breath. The simplicity of this solution may be a pleasant conceit. Angus will need to have a chat with Monsieur Bay to see how to proceed.

Bob and Angus stop off at the cake shop on their way home. Some tasks deserve a high cholesterol reward. Bob gets some slivers of choux pastry.