Thursday, April 30, 2015

There's nowhere like home.

Sophie flies out of the pen and into the back of the car at the speed of light. Her feet barely touch the ground. Ever affable Bob carefully says farewell to each of the other dogs before he too joins us. '' It's only polite to say goodbye". Eyes bright, fur silky. So much for any worries that they might not be well looked after.

The PON duo spend their day staring into mid air. That mind in neutral state dogs get into when they're exhausted but too excited to go to sleep.

Bob communes with nature. Not even the wrens that are nesting in the wisteria goad him into action.

The eagle eyed will discern that Miss Sophie has not lost weight in the kennels. In fact she seems to have gained about 5 lbs. The reasons for this are best not dwelt on. Bob by contrast looks super svelte.

The family princess spends much of the evening trying to catch butterflies in her mouth. Coordinated she ain't. The butterflies have nothing to fear. Sophie is delighted with her ferocious face.

A day for re balancing.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Off to the kennels.

Back from the States. Bob and Sophie will be liberated from incarceration as soon as the bags are out of the back of the car.

Normal, post jet lag, service will resume tomorrow.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Quickly disabused.

No wall lights and only one ceiling light but the door handles have been fitted and the dishwashers working. The radiator the morose lads sat on has been boxed in. '' We'll  be back on Monday " say the fitters as they leave. We quickly disabuse them of that idea.

Six pm. Off to the kennels with the angelic duo. No need to worry about Bob. Mr.Affable leaps out of the car. He's keen to meet the other dogs. Sophie, the more sensitive one, has to be 'coaxed' along. Bob is oblivious to our departure.

We agree to travel 'light'. As he loads the bags in the back of the car Angus wonders what part of 'light' The Font didn't understand. Now it's out turn to head off for the first flight of the new day. We'll be back in a little over a week. Until then here's some cheerful travelling music.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Smiling all day long.

The kitchen fitters are hard at work. They were supposed to be finished today but are running a little behind schedule. Bob and Sophie take a close interest in their comings and goings.

The workmen will be back tomorrow. '' Don't worry. Everything will be in place for the weekend " says the florid man in red trousers. Why are we not convinced ?

Neither Bob nor Sophie have the faintest idea that a trip to the k-e-n-n-e-l-s awaits them. I tell ' The Font', with what might pass as conviction, that they will enjoy themselves. '' We'll be back before they notice we've gone ".

In readiness for our trip here's an old commercial which shows that everyone in America smiles all day long. This includes the lady at the 2.15 mark :

Thursday, April 16, 2015

An alien intimacy.

There's a breeze this morning. A welcome change from the recent heat. Every so often there's a sudden gust, more a polite cough, of air that sends the hawthorn blossom whirling off the trees and up into the air. Sophie stands and watches this summer blizzard in silence. Bob, focused on the scent of rabbits, is oblivious to it.

At the end of the lane the road side irises are coming into bloom. Something you'd rarely, if ever, see in Scotland but common here.

The Old Farmer heads past us in the ancient Mercedes. He stops and gets out. Bob has his head patted, Sophie backs away and positions herself behind my legs. Nine years since the Old Farmers wife, youngest daughter and two German Shepherds were killed in a car crash. Today he's going to drive over to a hillside that overlooks the scene. Something he does every year. '' I love her as much now and I did then ' he says with an intimacy alien to Anglo-Saxons. With that he gets back in the car and drives away.

The hidden and unexpected dramas of a small village in deepest, deepest France profonde .

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Heaven only knows.

Sophie greets me with her ' my brothers an oaf ' look. Bob has woken early and liberated her doo-doo. He's also disembowled it. 

A shaven headed young man with a large neck tattoo arrives to repair the extractor fan in the new kitchen. The tattoo is of a swallow framed in a horseshoe. The name Claudille is outlined in red on a length of fabric held in the swallows beak. The design is presumably a classic of its genre. Let's hope Claudille was impressed. Angus does his best not to pre-judge the repair mans competence.

The extractor fan is supposed to have three speeds but has left the factory with an inability to extract. Instead it blows at one speed; ferociously.

Mr.Tattoo borrows a pair of step ladders. He climbs up and peers into the inner workings of the extractor fan. He swears. Then he swears some more. Finally he comes down the ladder and demands '' Who fitted it ? ". This said in a judgement laden tone of voice that suggests the malfunctioning appliance is somehow my fault. 

A part will need to be ordered from the factory. '' We'll call you when it arrives " says the young man. This does not instill confidence .

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The job of a citizen is to keep his mouth open - Gunter Grass

Bob has gained possession of Sophie's 'doo-doo'. He trots proudly round the garden with it. Sophie protests. Bob feigns deafness. He greets passing pilgrims like this. Ferocity personified ?

The kitchen fitter shows up. He apologizes for not having been here last week. One of his labradors broke a leg, went into hospital for an operation and while there broke the other leg. The poor thing had to be put down. His four year old twins have been 'distraught'. 

The kitchen 'team' will be here on Thursday to install the ceiling lights, fit the dishwasher and build the cabinet around the radiator.  '' Everything will be ready by the weekend " he says. The Easter deadline has clearly been forgotten

The fancy builder with the big Mercedes comes to look at the damage done to the terrace when the morose lads dropped the cast iron cooker down the steps. He wants to start work on Monday. I explain we're away. He suggests they start anyway. '' You can give me the front door key and we'll let ourselves in ". 'The Font' vetoes this idea.  He'll start work in mid-May. '' Maybe I should do your new septic tanks at the same time ? " he volunteers brightly.

A hot afternoon. Sophie sleeps indoors. Bob helps me in the garden. Helping in this sense means sitting in the shade. This is otherwise known as 'supervising'.

As darkness falls Bob maintains watch over The Rickety Old Farmhouse from his vantage point on the wooden garden table. He's eventually ordered inside when he starts to bark at the owls in the plane trees on the other side of the lane.

For him , and his sister it's been a brilliant day.

Here's an interesting dog link :

Monday, April 13, 2015

Peace like a river.

The wisteria just starting to come into bloom. Spring arrived late but is quickly turning to summer.

Both PONs enjoy their illicit half croissant at the cafe under the arcades. Bob gives the waitress one of his  'I just want to say I love you ' licks of gratitude. This is a bracing start to her day.

At the garden centre what appears to be a hammock bed shrouded in a zip up mosquito net. There's barely any room for the bed to swing so can it really be a hammock ? 

Sophie remains attached to her latest doo-doo. The two previous toy lambs have been carefully hidden in the garden. So carefully hidden that Sophie can't find them again. This one she's determined to keep by her side at all times.

Sophie won't let Bob anywhere near her lamb. This doesn't stop Bob trying. In the evening we have a long game of touch rugby / savage my brother in the upstairs hallway. Finally, they fall asleep. Peace settles over The Rickety Old Farmhouse. 

Another day with two Polish Sheepdogs in robust good health and boundless energy.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Rug surfing mood.

To the cheese lady for some Chevres. Bob and Sophie wholeheartedly approve.

Sophie has more fur trimmed off. She looks less like a cube on legs. Not exactly svelte but decidedly less 'podgy'.

A five year old village girl somehow manages to put her four year old brother in the pit under the weigh bridge on the village green. She then leaves him there. The mayor is called upon to retrieve him. Angus is asked to clamber down into the pit and hoist the wee fellow out. Getting in is easy, getting out less so. 

In the evening Sophie rug surfs with her doo-doo. She is in a rug surfing mood. By the end of the evening the hallway looks like a bombs hit it.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

More strikes.

Downstairs to find Bob sleeping . Late last night the cat that pees in the woodpile had the brazen audacity to make an appearance outside the front door. The PONs gave chase. The cat rocketed up into an acacia tree. The angelic duo patrolled the garden for more than twenty minutes before being coaxed indoors. They were completely oblivious to the fact the cat was up a tree.

To the barbers. He cuts my hair with a cut throat razor while maintaining a lively conversation with the three ancient farmers perched on the old leather sofa. Angus sits very still. Bob snores contentedly away from his spot under the sickly aspidistra by the cash register.

In the market square a mass of pilgrims. You can tell they're pilgrims. They eat sandwiches, drink soup from thermos flasks and murmur piously. There is a noise that only pilgrims en masse make. The sound of tempered contentment.

Bob and Sophie are in fine form. They spend their day digging, barking, guarding and chasing. Blackbirds, squirrels and cats require constant vigilance. A PONs work is never done.

The French air traffic controllers are planning more two day strikes. The next strike scheduled for the day we're off to the States. One of those times when we have to get away. Last week no British Airways flights made it to Toulouse on Thursday and only one late at night on Wednesday. Should we drive back to London and pick up our flight there ? To make matters worse another strike is scheduled to start on the day we return .

Friday, April 10, 2015

PON and Whippet.

An article in the morning paper saying that they're considering chopping down the plane trees that line the local roads. Too many teenage farm boys are crashing into them after binge drinking on a Friday night. Twenty year old BMW's, the boy racers favourite, are no match for a hundred year old tree.

A mystery unfolds in the skies overhead. A plane makes an abrupt 180 degree turn. Sharp enough for anyone on board to notice. The contrails sketching a huge 'U' in the blue sky. Can't remember ever having seen an aircraft do such a volte face like that before.

The weather changing. Some clouds appear in mid-afternoon. By early evening there's a breeze blowing. Bob positions himself at the front door. Rear quarters in the warm, nose in the fresh air. Being big brother he keeps one eye open while he sleeps.

Can it be that Bob's legs are still growing ? He seems to be towering over his sister. She's pure PON. We're beginning to have doubts about his pedigree. The worlds longest legged PON. Could it be there are Whippet genes in there ?

Thursday, April 9, 2015


Radio France enters week four of its strike. Not to be outdone the air traffic controllers have also downed tools. 50% of all flights in and across France cancelled. This happens every year just as families are trying to get home for the start of the new school term. Coincidence ?

This morning the mountains hidden by haze. I go to get the car from the barn. By the time I get back Bob and Sophie are waiting outside the front door with their ' what kept you ? ' look. PON patience.

Definitely getting warmer. Time for the PONs to have a hiarcut before their trip to the kennels.

Sophie looks better ( and svelter ) after a trim.

Bob, despite having lost a mass of hair, doesn't look any different.

At least they should be cooler. Perhaps we'll repeat the process tomorrow.

No sign of the kitchen fitters.