Sunday, May 31, 2015


Even though it's a Saturday the builders show up and continue work on the terrace. One of the morose lads has found a 1995 VW Golf convertible and is working as hard as he can in order to put down a deposit on it. 

'Furry Fox' has made a reappearance. The morose lads are reminded by Bob that life shouldn't be all work and no play. Every hour or so dogs and builders traipse onto the lawn for a fox throwing interlude. Angus thinks this is a less than efficient arrangement. The PONs disagree.

An absent minded workman has left the water running overnight. The lower garden has turned into a swamp and the well is completely dry. The pump, having run all night drawing air, has blown a fuse.

A large pile of fresh sand is delivered. The morose lads start mixing up render. Sophie claims the pile of sand as her very own. She digs in it, rolls in it and then turns on her back and lies in it. Sand and PON fur are not an ideal combination.

The pile of sand is placed off limits. The sand on the end of Sophie's nose at lunchtime ....

 ...... and again in the evening hints that 'off limits' is an concept she doesn't understand.

After dinner there is goats cheese with a hint of white fig compote eaten off 'The Fonts' fingers. The PONs go to bed happy. 

The morose lads are due again this morning. Proof that there is no inducement as powerful as a boys first car. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

A variation.

A day for watching the builders and barking at the eight year old boy who mimics Bobs 'woof woof woof' as he walks past the front gate on his way to catch the seven fifteen school bus. Today the eight year old boy has a stick which he drags across the metal bars on the gate. The clink-clink-clink variation to the daily routine drives the angelic duo into a frenzy of barking. From the way the eight year old boy skips away down the lane we can assume he's satisfied with the cacophony of sound he's generated.

Two nights away and the garden looks as though it's suffered through a prolonged drought. The large irrigation hose is brought out of the garage. For animals who abhor water Bob and Sophie take a great interest in anything to do with the irrigation system.

The roof eaves suddenly home to swallow and sparrow nests. No less than five sparrow nests outside the bedroom window. They keep up a chirruping noise until nightfall. The swallows are altogether quieter. This morning the sparrows start their 'I'm hungry ' song just after five. Sophie joins in. We are now officially on our get up early summer routine. 

Friday, May 29, 2015

Diva moments.

Off-season Toulouse sunny and not too hot. Restaurants three quarters empty despite the presence in town of a large group of Delta Airlines staff  taking delivery of a new jet. Dogs romping in fountains intrigue the angelic duo.

Bob remains amiable throughout. Sophie is prone to ' diva moments '. Diva moments invariably coincide with her passing a restaurant / cafe / butchers / bakers / poulterers / kebab stall. A late night at a table on the Square watching the stars come out . Roast chicken and rice served in ceramic dishes. Water bowls replenished every half an hour. Much contented sighing from underneath the table.

Home to find The Rickety Old Farmhouse is still standing. Beams safely in place. Bob takes up his position on the stump seat to monitor passing pilgrims. Sophie, exhausted after her trip to Toulouse, has fallen into a coma on the front doorstep.  

Normal service has been resumed. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


Bob and Sophie are in fine form. They want to get involved in everything the builders are doing. This includes 'helping' with lifting into place the 300 kilo roof beams. Faced with what appears to be mayhem in the courtyard 'The Font' suggests that it might be a good idea if we disappear to a hotel for a night or two until the heavy structural work is done. This way dogs, owners and builders will be safer and happier.

We'll return on Friday morning by which time Bob and Sophie will have discovered the delights of Toulouse. This may or may not be less stressful than keeping the little darlings at home.


The storm that's been loitering in the Bay of Biscay finally drifts ashore.  It threatens to rain but doesn't . Chilly by human standards but enlivening weather for PONs. The wheat showing the first signs of turning from green to gold.

Bob comes with me to the barbers. It's early. The four old farmers who usually put the world to rights on the faded leather sofa by the front door haven't arrived yet. The barber puts on his white three quarter length coat with its high, Mao style, collar. Bob moves to his usual position under the sickly aspidistra and is soon asleep. From time to time he passes wind.

The row of 13th century houses facing the church continue to deteriorate. The shutters hanging half open, half closed. French towns are becoming like doughnuts. The centre hollowed out ( who wants the hassle of an old historic house ? ) to be surrounded by a ring of identikit bungalows and shopping malls.

Sophie has stayed at home with 'The Font' . Sophie prefers a more leisurely start to her day. She can drink from buckets , sniff inside the builders dustbins and roll in brick dust without having to bother with her oaf of a brother. Nine builders here yesterday. The same number and a crane expected today. The PONs think this is wonderful.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Another holiday.

The fourth public holiday this month. May Day, Victory Day, Ascension Day and now Pentecost. The village, quiet at the best of times, is sepulchral. Or it would be had a cat not decided to saunter across the lawn at the very moment the PONs emerged for their morning constitutional. The cat sensibly disappeared over the wall. It took a further ten minutes of high volume activity before Bob and Sophie paused in their allotted task. Sophie is finally lifted, complaining, into the back of the car.

Despite it being a holiday one of the builders shows up to put in the stone window lintels. 'Furry Fox' has been hidden somewhere so secret that Bob has forgotten its whereabouts. Instead he tries to entice the builder into a game of 'throw the partially chewed laundry bag'. The builder has brought sandwiches wrapped in silver foil. He eats under the watchful eye of two Polish Lowland Sheepdogs.

Still no sign of the Very Old Farmer. The district nurses car is outside when we pass on our evening walk. We take this as a good sign. I'll try and catch her when she visits him later this morning . 

Monday, May 25, 2015

Langues des chats

At the fancy little restaurant by the canal Bob and Sophie each get given a langue de chat. The chef comes out to see whether they've enjoyed it. Sophie turns on her back, kicks her legs in the air and squeals. This,presumably, makes it quite clear she could spend her entire day savouring les langues des chats artisinales. The air of sophistication is dispelled when the chef asks us if we like the new sculpture garden. Two flower pot figures and a flower pot dog. '' Quite remarkable " I reply , honestly, while secretly wondering how the French have managed to convince the Anglo-Saxon world that they are the sophisticated ones.

Home to doze amid the builders detritus and wait for the rain which never arrives.

In the pile of debris on the wooden decking Sophie discovers a tupperware container belonging to the builders. It's full of cigarettes, tobacco and roll your own paper. She carefully prises it open using a combination of jaws and paws. We catch her as she disappears off with the roll your own wrappers. What neat tobacco might have done to her digestion and temperament has thankfully gone untested.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Too much stone.

Another chilly start to the day. The cold front over the Bay of Biscay slowly inching its way towards us. A smattering of clouds over the mountains heralding rain. The neighbouring farmer has been hard at work sowing the field at the crossroads with young sunflower plants.

Time for a quick drink, a mad dash round the garden and then off in the car to the cafe under the arcades for an illicit half croissant. When we arrive the beer and absinthe crowd are happily devouring their first pre-breakfast libation. The man with the maroon metallic motability scooter and the lady with the blue dressing gown and red pom-pom slippers are enthusiastically sharing an alcoholic Solero.

Bob spends much of his afternoon sitting on his stump seat watching passing pilgrims. Two thirds are observed  in manly silence. The others get the highly vocal 'this is my village and I've got my eye on you ' woof. All the pilgrims, irrespective of the greeting they receive, wave at him.

Sophie runs backwards and forwards in the brick dust yelping at the builders who have, mysteriously, opted to work on a Saturday. They are using far too much stone and far too little brick in the rebuilt walls. Three facades of The Rickety Old Farmhouse are made of stone but the side they're working on is made almost entirely of brick. '' We can always grow roses up it " says 'The Font' with only a hint of resignation. 

Saturday, May 23, 2015


The sun just rising as we go out. It's fresher this morning. A cold front hovering out in the Bay of Biscay. Not that the PONs notice. Bob waits patiently on the village green while his sister forages for something indescribable in the Old Farmers ditch.

We walk out along the ridge. The little river with its waterfall on one side, the track down to the lake on the other.Bob forges ahead. His sister dawdles behind. He wants to explore. She has to sniff everything.  This morning Bob opts for a detour down to the lake. 

The builders and PONs have settled into a routine. Bob barks at them when they arrive. He then ignores them for the rest of the day. Sophie yelps at them, constantly. This it must be said is not a defensive yelp but a '' why aren't you paying me more attention ? " yelp.

The morose lads have now been trained to throw the furry fox before they head off for lunch and again in the evening. Bob is satisfied.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A joy.

Out for our early morning walk past the village pond. The air fresh but the low sun already warm. The young heron takes fright as we approach and flies off towards the mountains. One effortless flap of the wings and he's airborne. 

No signs of life at the Very Old Farmers house . He usually waves at us from his kitchen window but today the curtains are drawn. I'll stop by later, when the district nurse is there, to make sure everything is fine. The nurse is visiting him three, sometimes four times a day now.

At the edge of the village the German billionaires new garage has been beautified with the addition of four blue ceramic pots. Against the stark bunker like architecture they're fighting a losing battle.The recently installed grey automatic doors compound the ugliness. 

The satellite box has gone wrong. Amazingly the repair man is here at seven thirty to fit a new one. '' You were on the way to my first appointment ". He's parked in the builders spot which is a problem ....

.... as they have to reverse through the small gates to drop off some wooden beams for the terrace roof. After much waving of arms and shouting  they get the van and trailer in . Each of the beams weighs 300 kilos so all the morose lads are called on to lift them off. The angelic duo are banished indoors.

In the afternoon Sophie liberates Bobs furry fox. She braces herself in readiness for being attacked by 25 hurtling kilos of irate brother.

Having two happy dogs is a joy. Having builders around less so. Perhaps dogs are natures antidote for having work done on the house ?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Scoring things out of 10.

Investigating the noise a cement mixer makes : 10/10

Drinking from containers full of mucky water or paste : 10/10

Putting your paws in a pile of wet cement -repeatedly : 10/10

Shredding an unattended laundry bag : 10/10

Getting ready for a game of 'throw the furry fox' : 11/10.

Discovering a pile of rubble : 12/10.

Can life get any better ?

This article gives the owners side to life with PONs :