Monday, August 31, 2015

School starts on Tuesday.

To avoid a repetition of yesterdays 'excitement' we head away from the village pond down into the valley. Forty minutes of mayhem amongst the haystacks. Bob chases egrets, Sophie busies herself looking for desiccated voles.

The duo retain just enough energy to whimper loudly when tied to the lamp post outside the bakers. The bakers wife brings out a handful of flaky pastry. Bobs tail goes into metronome mode. 

As we walk back to the car we hear this wafting through the open door of the old Abbey. Why do snatches of unexpected music make you smile ?

In the afternoon swarms of pilgrims saunter through the village enjoying the sunshine. Schools start on Tuesday so this really is the end of summer . Bob dutifully barks at them.

Sophie yelps.

Unintimidated, the end of season pilgrims laugh and wave.

Sunday, August 30, 2015


The village pond is surrounded by a low brick wall. Every day Bob stands, back paws on the ground, front paws on the wall, staring at the fat frogs sunbathing on the water lilies. He looks. They chirrup.

This morning he does the same. I laugh. The pleasures of a dogs daily routine. No sooner have I turned to head home than there is a loud splash followed by thrashing sounds rather like a hippopotamus wallowing in mud. 

Today, Bob has decided to show the frogs who's boss.

Bob chases the frogs with a half leaping, half swimming motion. Mud and algae float, profusely, to the surface.

Having made it into the pond dog does not want to leave. The pond is not deep, but it's deep enough. The bottom is also uneven .... and slippery .... and smelly. After several attempts dog is eventually grabbed by his harness and lifted onto dry land. Dog learns some choice Anglo-Saxon vocabulary.

Safely home, dog has a look on his face that says ' did you have as much fun as I did ? '. 

Dogs sister, never one to let a crisis pass without a diva moment, yelps.

7:30 am and the dogs owner is already showering and changing clothes for the second time today. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

One of those days.

On our way home from the morning walk we find the The Very Old Farmer by his front gate. The district nurse has parked him there while the cleaning lady makes his bed and prepares lunch. His voice is now thin and high pitched but he greets the PONs like long lost friends. Bobs hair is stroked. Sophie remains steadfastly aloof but bustles into the kitchen in search of food or mischief. This causes much laughter although the cleaning lady is less amused. We stay until the district nurse decides it's time for his nap.

After this excitement Sophie opts to spend her day on the cool kitchen floor.

Bob takes up his hot weather position. Nose outside. Rump inside in the cool.

August. That strange month when the English come to France and the French disappear. The neighbouring village completely deserted. It's as if a neutron bomb had hit it. Even the cats are hiding from the heat.

Over the valley a few clouds make an appearance. By lunchtime they''re gone. The heat builds and builds.

One of those 'too hot to do anything' days in deepest,deepest France profonde.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Nothing wrong mechanically.

The 4x4 is showing its age. Nothing wrong mechanically but seven years of accumulated PON hair give it a certain 'lived in' feel - that black carpet and white fur look. 'The Font' thinks a Swedish car might make a good replacement. Something substantial with lots of air bags as an antidote to French driving habits. We go to the Volvo garage. A very attractive young sales lady (wearing a skirt memorable for its brevity ) looks for the keys for the demonstrator but can't find them. She suggests I 'return tomorrow or the day after'. 

There are a set of 'solar system' fridge magnets on the door of the downstairs dishwasher. Where we got them or why they're there a mystery. Every morning after breakfast Bob rearranges them with his nose. This morning Saturn receives a particularly enthusiastic shove. Sophie ignores the fridge magnets. They're not edible .

One of those little routines with dogs - too unimportant for a diary but recorded here because it makes me laugh.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A drunken cicada.

One of those late summer mornings when the sky is an impossible blue and the lazy heat builds up and lingers.

On our way to the bakers we pass a number of open doors. They hint, invitingly, of brewing coffee and jam and croissants. The duo are keen to explore but are 'encouraged' along . Not everyone would be keen to have enthusiastic PONs join them for breakfast.

On our way home a quick sprint through the sunflower fields. The farmers have just started harvesting them; a sure sign that the year is about to turn a page. By the waterfall we startle a late returning Nightjar which rises into the air and then circles over us making a long trilling song like a drunken cicada. I stand and stare at this rare sight, Bob and Sophie are too busy following scents to notice.

Mid-morning, The Old Farmer heads off again. He has packed a two wheeled trailer with wine, a collection of foam pillows and enough Toulouse sausage to feed an army. 'The Font' thinks that his lady friend from Paris may be joining him on the delayed excursion across the Napoleonic battlefields of Europe.

Would you let  your dog travel on this ? :

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


With all the visitors gone the angelic duo are adjusting to a less frenetic pace of life . Sophie has exorcised the memory of the youthful interlopers by barking loudly in each of the, now empty, guest bedrooms. 

At his usual bed time Bob picks up his favourite toy and wanders out into the garden. He's of the opinion that it might be a good idea to play throw the furry fox by starlight and go belly flopping in the pool .

The family fellow has to be informed that the sight of Angus belly flopping in the pool, at any time of day or night, would be lacking in gravitas. In return Bob gives me a look that indicates in PONland such behaviour would merely be considered jejeune. 

The Old Farmer is somewhat coy about the reasons for his early return. '' I'm back to make the motor home more 'comfortable'. 'Comfortable' in this case means plastering a bewildering variety of signs and posters across its back. New net curtains have also been installed to replace the faded and torn chintz ones. 

Our neighbour shows these additions to 'The Font ' who observes that they're " Quite remarkable ". The Old Farmer takes this as a compliment. He plans to set off again tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Sophie emerges after breakfast with yogurt stuck to her chin. This gives her the look of a canine version of Lenin. One of our recent visitors mistakenly called her Sweet Pea for the better part of a week. Looking at her Angus can't help but think that Sweet Pea is an improbable name for this vision of yogurt matted horror. 

A moment of sibling uncertainty over whether to take furry fox or demonic tweating bird in the car. Both are taken.

Bob makes it quite plain that Furry Fox is his. This doesn't stop Sophie from trying to 'liberate'' it . Brother and sister soon make up.

At 4:00 am there is the unmistakable noise of The Old Farmers venerable Ford Transit motor home returning. Despite the early hour Bob kindly lets us know, repeatedly, that there's activity outside. The Old Farmer was supposed to be gone a month. Later this morning I'll wander over and find out what has caused him to return after a week.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Can they really be related ?

After a blustery night the new day dawns bright, sunny and fair. We wander off to the waterfall. On our way Bob chases egrets, Sophie searches for unmentionable things in the long grass and their master enjoys the warm, soft air.

When it's time to come home all that needs to be said to Bob is ' Back !'.

Sophie is oblivious to all commands other than the word 'breakfast'. Only when this magic word is uttered does her deafness disappear. She immediately turns homewards at a trot. If her brother lags too far behind she barks and glares.

Can they really be from the same litter ?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Lessons in life #1 and #2.

Lessons in Life #1. Pack your suitcase on the bed not on the floor. If you do pack it on the floor do not leave it open. Failure to follow these basic rules may result in the contents being liberated, redistributed and in some instances shredded. This effect is also known as a PON moment.

College Boy Lesson in Life #2 . Good luck in explaining this to your girl friend. Do not be surprised if the line '' I bought you a present but some dogs ate it " is not well received.

A comment on the train attack and the bravery of three young Americans that made me smile  :

Saturday, August 22, 2015

On time.

The river boat cruise ( by appointment in July and August )  is supposed to go at 9:30. We arrive at 9:20 to see it casting off. The man on board shouts out " Come back in an hour " before heading, gently, upstream. We don't.

Furry Fox plays a central part in Bobs day. The family fellow is in a '' Hello ! Fancy a game ? I just happen to have a Furry Fox with me " frame of mind.

The serial killers have now been accepted by the male PON. Female PON is not to be won over that easily. The new semester starts on Monday so Sophie's time in the wilderness will soon be at an end. 

Despite the heat the PON duo's ears have been remarkably itch free. To be doubly sure three more tubs of Wendals anti-itch Herbs are ordered and arrive within 24 hours. They seem to have helped .

Over lunch the American boys teach me how to take photographs without being noticed. Hold the i-phone up, fix a rictus grin on your face as though you're taking a 'selfie' and snap away. This I'm told is a fool proof way of confounding argumentative hat ladies. It must work - the crowd at the restaurant don't so much as bat an eyelid.

The American boys are now firmly in the habit of taking an hour for lunch. Sophie wishes they were sloppier eaters.

And then, for cat lovers, there's this fine example of cue card reading :

Friday, August 21, 2015

For how long ?

One of those mornings when it's not too hot and not too chill. The sort of day when you could walk and walk and walk. And that's exactly what the PONs do.

Bob sniffs, but doesn't eat, the low hanging wild peaches and windfall plums.

Sophie has no such inhibitions and munches happily away on both. Where food is concerned she's a 'don't look a gift horse in the mouth' girl.

The oil man is delivering when we get home. Down to €0.65 a litre. Last year it was double that. We've ordered enough to get us through to next spring.  Bob finds the delivery man down on his hands and knees opening the underground tanks filler cap. Faced with an enthusiastic PON the oil delivery man doesn't stay like that for long.

Two rather prim Dutch ladies sitting outside the Le Sunbeam cafe. They try to appear indifferent to the sight of a gentleman and two shaggy dogs approaching them. Angus says ' Bonjour '. They manage a wan smile. Bob and Sophie make sure the women aren't a threat and then turn on their backs to let the sun warm the parts that rarely get warmed. Angus informs Sophie this is indecorous behaviour. The two Dutch ladies decide anyone who talks to their dogs is clearly as mad as a hatter. They finish their coffees and head off without saying 'au revoir'. Neither Bob nor Sophie bother to acknowledge their departure.

I wish I remembered where we'd bought Furry Fox. There are, or were, two of them. One has now lost all it's limbs and exists as a a sort of headless furry torso. The other drool infused example retains three limbs and a de-stuffed head, but for how long ?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

What's a girl to do ?

For Sophie it gets worse. Dinner finishes late. Then the serial killers do belly flops in the pool ! How can anyone expect a girl to sleep through all that carousing ?

There was however some illicit ice cream and some turkey. 

Bob orchestrates a game of 'throw the furry fox' by starlight. This is great fun.

At breakfast this morning Bob discovers Weetabix, which is wolfed down. Guess this makes him a cereal killer. 

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Make no sudden movements.

A change in the weather. It's markedly cooler and darker in the mornings. That turning of the page that comes after Ferragosto. Time to order heating oil and dig out the sweaters.

As we head back from the waterfall the suns rays are just gilding the folds in the hills. Today has been a day of much circling and sniffing. A hint that it's time to put the PONs on their leads. There have been sightings of Wild Boar and their piglets at the crossroads at the edge of the village. 

Sophie treats the continued presence of strangers in the house in much the same way as we might treat the presence of mass murderers in our homes. That ' be vigilant and make no sudden movements ' approach. 

Thankfully, she has a big brother to take care of her.

Big brother is quite happy dealing with the mass murderers as long as they share their breakfast bacon. He's also keen for them to get  the days first game of 'throw the furry fox' underway.

Remember Cecil the lion ? This is a positive example of how corporations can respond, and quickly, to public anger