Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Sheepdog mentality.

The clock change has clearly left the locals confused. The little hotel remains firmly shuttered and the Tabac opens its doors forty five minutes late.

Bob does not like it when part of his flock wanders. Thankfully, there are plenty of workmen for him to round up. 

The whoosh of the sliding doors in the departure terminal should perk him up when he comes to collect me this evening. Bob takes his role as family fellow very seriously. 

Monday, March 30, 2015

A balancing act.

The two cheese ladies in the market both went into hospital on the same day for their cancer operations. Both were back at work a month later. We alternate our cheese orders between the two. Thankfully, each gives Bob and Sophie tit bits of cheese which makes this balancing act easier. This morning they have a sliver of Cantal and a small dollop of Gorgonzola. Bob gives the cheese lady a look that says ' I love you '. Later in the week the other cheese lady will get the same look.

In the afternoon we head off to the local market town. We've learnt to reverse the car right up against the car park wall. This stops well intentioned passers by from tapping on the window  and saying 'hello doggy'. Tapping on the window while waving your arms about has an 'electrifying' effect on Bob. We can vouch for the strength of the little Skodas rear window. 

An article asking what people in the future will think of us ? . http://aeon.co/magazine/philosophy/what-will-morality-look-like-100-years-hence/

Angus is off to London to speak to serious folk in dark suits. 'The Font' and the PONs remain behind to deal with the builders and fitters and electricians and plumbers and ....

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The clocks go forward.

Annual injection day. Bob, inquisitive as ever, bounds happily into the consulting room. Worldly wise Sophie has to be helped along. 'Helped along'  means being picked up and carried into the surgery. The vet chats away to them. Neither notices the injection or the kennel cough treatment. On our way home we stop at the cafe under the arcades for a restorative half croissant.

The duo sleep for three hours solid. Over excitement or the effect of the drugs ? The vet says that he's nearly lost three dogs last week due to them eating mildewed walnuts. Something he'd never seen before. The National Veterinary Centre in Lyons told him it was down to the long wet, mild winter. 

The mayor has convinced the horse farm to build a small car park on the edge of their property. In return they'll get planning permission for a new barn. The car park will hopefully remove the Belgian womans problem with vehicles blocking her gate and turning in her driveway. At the moment the proposed car park is a sea of mud.The riding school owner doesn't look very happy. Can't believe the Belgian woman is either. 

This morning the clocks have gone forward an hour. It's pitch dark when I wander downstairs  to let the angelic duo out for their morning constitutional. Sophie gives me her " Don't you know what time it is ? " look and tries to hide under a blanket. Bob, oblivious to the time,  heads across the garden at high speed in search of squirrels. Brother and sister but such different characters.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Gallic chaos.

We're down early at the cafe under the arcades for our illicit half croissant . The greengrocer is still unloading his van. We buy two punnets of strawberries. The lady in the blue dressing gown and pom-pom slippers is about to have her first sip of beer. She bids a warm welcome to Bob and Sophie oblivious to the dab of froth on the end of her nose.

We get home to find the tile restorer applying some dark brown liquid to the floors. '' This'll bring out the lustre and have them looking good as new ". He says this with what might pass for conviction. Angus is doubtful about the 'good as new' part of the statement. Angus is also doubtful about the 'restore the lustre' part too. 

After that it's Gallic chaos. The kitchen fitters arrive. They unload their truck. The kitchen designer in the red trousers returns with 'the tap'. We tell him, again, we don't want it. He mutters and disappears trailing bad grace in his wake. 

The electricians stay just long enough to say the cooker hood doesn't have a fitting for the extractor pipe. They too leave. The man who's restoring the tiles informs everyone they can't walk on them until they're dry. The plumbers walk on them. Loic the bifocaled gardener wanders upstairs and wonders if he should take the tractor and cut the lawn. 'No !' says 'The Font' emphatically. 

Bob and Sophie are told umpteen times they're not allowed in the kitchen. They feign deafness. Bob is in one of his inquisitive moods. Sophie is in one of her ' stop everything you're doing and adore me ' moods. Neither is helpful. The PONs are banished into the front garden. The plumbers can't find the right flange. 'We'll be back later' they say. After that a deep Friday afternoon silence descends on The Rickety Old Farmhouse.

Progress ?

Friday, March 27, 2015

A thing the books never mention.

Bob and Sophie will drink from anything. Stagnant green ponds, muddy puddles, drainage ditches with a thin film of something unidentifiable dusting the surface. The more polluted the water, the better. If their owners emit a 'yeugh' sound and call them back they know they're in canine heaven.

However, if their bowl at home isn't kept topped up with crystal clear water they'll refuse to go near it. That guilt inducing stare that says " This waters three hours old ". 

Herein lies an aspect of dog behaviour the 'books' never mention.

Why ?

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The merest trace of a sigh.

7.30 am. The oil delivery man arrives in the courtyard. 'I was passing and wondered if you needed a top up ?' We take 1000 litres on the principle you should never look a gift horse in the mouth.

7.35 am. The builders show up. They’ve come to demolish what’s left of the barn wall after Loic, the heavily bi-focaled gardener,  drove the lawn tractor into it. "The whole thing could come crashing down at any time " says the foreman . 

8.03 am. Caroline , the bad tempered cleaning lady, drives through the gates. She's working twice this week before heading off to see her family in Cannes for Easter. “ My sister has a lovely Mercedes “ she informs me by way of greeting before adding, bizarrely, ‘ I’ll be washing the chair legs in the dining room today‘.

Caroline is in Women's Cooperative summer wear. Cargo shorts, black tee shirt, black Timberland boots. She’s had a fresh buzz cut.  One of the builders shouts out ‘ Ca va ma jolie ? ‘. This is not well received.

The sound of the argument between Caroline and the builder carries into the downstairs kitchen. ‘’ I wonder how many people have such a an exciting start to their day ? “asks ‘The Font’ with only the merest trace of a sigh.

Bob and Sophie observe the comings and goings with great interest.

Everyone, red trousered kitchen designer included, promises to be here tomorrow. Having so many people - electricians. plumbers, fitters, builders - in such a small space should be either interesting or challenging. The PONs will of course wish to be intimately involved in everything.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Where have all the tradesmen gone ?

Sophie at 8.00 am.

Sophie at 9.00 am. The windswept look has taken hold.

Bob spends much of his day on the stump seat waiting for the builders. He's disappointed.

Maybe we'll see them or the kitchen fitters today ? 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Channeled mischief.

Another grey day. No sign of the kitchen fitters. Instead, we are joined by Caroline, the unhappy cleaning lady. Today she is in one of her stomping, slamming and muttering moods. This is the cue for Angus to head off with the PONs to the stream. While I get ready, the PONs very sensibly, wait outside on their 'perch'.

After an hour of ferreting in hedgerows Sophie ends up looking frightful. Her appearance isn't improved by a 'robust' game of tug-of-war with her brother.

In the afternoon the family princess heads off in the car with 'The Font'. She returns to find Bob standing at the front door with HER toy in his mouth. Sophie expresses her displeasure - forcefully.

That wonderful age where both dogs and owners know their respective roles. You could call it living with 'channeled mischief '. Or, perhaps that should be ' partially channeled mischief '. 

Monday, March 23, 2015

Life is a little rosier.

A wet March Sunday. It rains for much of the day. 

The PON's are loaded into the back of the car and taken to the upmarket cafe by the canal. The first motor boats have arrived. They've been given moorings facing the communal cemetery. Clearly some official is not happy that he's had to start issuing permits this far in advance of  Easter.

The mayor shows up at the front gate. The boundary feud between the Belgian lady and the riding school has flared up again. The Belgian lady has got into the habit of giving her neighbours ' the finger ' whenever they drive by. This morning the riding school owners wife was passing and saw what the Belgian lady was doing. She slammed on her brakes, got out of the car and stormed into the Belgian woman's garden. The Belgian woman pulled out her mobile phone to call the Police. The neighbour grabbed the phone and threw it into the duck pond. The mayor is at his wits end. We give him a glass of a rather nice Pomerol. This makes him feel better. He has a second. Life is a little rosier when he leaves.

The French teacher has been trying to sell her house. She wants to move into a new build with a larger garden for the dogs. A Parisian couple came to see her house, twice. They said they wanted to buy it and  made a verbal offer. The Parisian couple were supposed to show up on Saturday to formalize the paperwork. They didn't show. They don't reply to e-mails or answer their mobile. The French teacher is distraught. She too gets a glass of Pomerol.

Before dinner Bob, Sophie and Angus spend a good half an hour rug surfing. There is also time for ten minutes of touch rugby. It would have gone on longer but Sophie disappears downstairs with the rugby ball. This, much to Bobs annoyance, signals the end of the game. Angus finishes off what's left of the bottle of Pomerol.

A quiet tale of village life in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

2 speed dogs.

A day when nothing happens. No builders, No electricians. No Emmenthal crisps.

Bob and Sophie make their own entertainment. Enthusiastically.

Finally, it's time for a nap. Sophie turns on her back and snores. Bob clambers onto his table.

Last year we tried standard roses at the front door. This year we're trying standard olives.

Within an hour of planting them out the wind's already blown one of them over.

A day that makes you wonder where the time went. Bob and Sophie, with their full on / full off switch,  have no such worries. 2 speed dogs.

Scotland play Ireland and lose..... again . A BBC commentator says it 'was a tournament played by four rugby playing nations plus the the Scots and Italians'. Sigh. This is the last time I'll hear this for another year  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BSTa9a77Lp0

Saturday, March 21, 2015


Aude finishes painting the kitchen.She takes down the scaffolding.Bob explores the empty space.He is unimpressed.

The fishmonger has just had a delivery of fresh lampreys. They're still breathing. She wonders if we want any. We politely decline.

The first local strawberries of the season. Four days later than last year. Something about the Gariguettes that makes them stand out. A slight savoury flavour that complements the sweetness. For the next three months they will be a twice a day staple.

No builders, no electricians, no plumbers, no kitchen fitters. Perhaps next week ? The electricians emmenthal flavoured crisps missed. Although there's no wind Bob and Sophie manage to end their day looking windswept. In fact Sophie ends up looking as though she's walked through a typhoon. That's what ferreting for moles will do to a girls hair.

Friday, March 20, 2015

In time for Easter ?

Aude , the bi-polar decaratrice, spends her morning sanding the ceiling beams. Then she paints them grey. French Radio is on strike so she listens to the BBC.

The electrician knocks holes in the recently plastered and painted walls. He wanders downstairs to tell me the ceramic hot plate requires 11 kw of power. He then makes a whistling noise and shrugs his shoulders. Taking a cue from his body language I ask if this is a problem. '' That's more than my house is wired for ". Angus is unsure whether this is French humour or an early indication of 'electrical'' problems.

Madame Bay is thinking of going to Chicago and now McDonalds is having a Chicago ' special ' . This appears to be a Big Mac with Worcester sauce. For French palates this must be the dictionary definition of 'exotic'. We order coffees. The PONs sit outside on the terrace by the Ronald McDonald play room and share a biscuit. 

Bob and Sophie continue to enjoy life. And why not ? The weathers still cool enough for trips in the car, there are builders to bark at and the electrician lets them taste his emmenthal flavoured crisps.

No sign of the red trousered kitchen designer. This doesn't auger well for the supposed fitting of the new units in time for Easter.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

"You do it love".

Angus is up early. A full hour early. The barn owls have decided to sit on the bedroom window ledge to welcome in the new day. Bob, who usually exudes enthusiasm, is still asleep. The hooting owls don't bother him.

At 6.15 Sophie deigns to join us . She adopts her " do you know what time it is ? " look. A quick dash round the garden in pursuit of blackbirds and then they're loaded into the car. The cafe under the arcades isn't open when we get there so no illicit half croissant this morning. This breech of the daily routine is not well received.

The builders cut holes in the ceilings to install new lights. The dust falls on Aude's freshly painted walls. Aude complains. The builders come down from the attic and mutter. They smoke a cigarette in the flower beds then disappear for lunch at 11.00 am. They don't return for four hours. The builders replace the broken glass in the windows. There is a disagreement over who should paint the window frame. Their '' you're a painter love. You do it " versus Aude's 'you're the idiots that broke it. You do it ' schools of thought. The window remains unpainted.

Out with Bob for an afternoon walk. The Very Old Farmer calls to us from the graveyard. He's wandered over to have a chat with his wife. He used to do it every day. Now he does it when spirit and body are in sync. Twice, maybe, three times a week. There's a chill wind blowing in from the Atlantic and after sitting for an hour on the cold granite he's lost the feeling in his limbs. We lift him up and walk him slowly back to his front door. Bob leads the way.

One of those days too uneventful for a diary but too important to go completely unrecorded.