Saturday, October 31, 2015

Just cheerful.

A middle aged ( and slightly grumpy ) builder shows up. No chance of a game of ' Throw the Furry Fox !' with him.

Loic the bifocaled gardener blows leaves into piles. This is much more to the PONs liking. The leaves are soon redistributed. Loic remains cheerfuly oblivious to the mayhem behind him. The PONs are just cheerful. 

Bob heads across the village green to watch the rugby with his master. His sister heads out onto the lawn with 'The Font' and a telescope for an evenings star gazing.

Just a quiet day in deepest, deepest France profonde.

And here's some entirely gratuitous music from a young band in Louisville :

Friday, October 30, 2015

Two ponies and a reburial.

On our morning walk we meet the German billionaire cycling along the lane followed by Brunhilda, the chateau dog. Bob is greatly taken with Brunhilda. Sophie isn't. She lets out a throaty 40 a day type growl. We make polite small talk and hurry along before Sophie reveals the '' this is my village'' side to her character.

In the afternoon there's much activity at the church. The body of the farmers wife is being moved from the communal vault to the family burial plot. The ground had baked solid in the July summer heat and the grave diggers weren't able to do their job. A mechanical digger was called upon but it was too wide to get through the churchyard gate. The mayor informs me, matter of factly, that '' the transfer had to wait for cooler weather ". Some statements don't need to be pursued. A new gravestone has appeared . In the centre is a picture of the farmer and his wife on their wedding day. They're cutting the cake and smiling broadly. Underneath is an inscription " Fauvette. Si tu voles autour de cette tombe chante lui ta plus douce chanson ". This is a very French touch.

There is a pause in proceedings while two ponies are shooed out of the graveyard by the mayor waving his red tartan pork pie hat. The ponies wander into the dip in the ground where the old moat used to be and munch away contentedly. The farmer reads aloud the letter his wife wrote to him from her hospital bed '' You were my lover, husband, friend ". He weeps. The villagers throw flowers in the grave. The mayor says a few inaudible words. The lady with the purple hat sings Ave Maria. Then its off to the Salle des Fetes for a vin d'honneur. Madame Bay has made vol au vents. The young mothers are still using the beer tent as a creche so the funeral party and the under fives co-mingle in a chaotic but charming ' life goes on ' way.

Bob spends his day with Furry Fox. There are no builders today to throw it for him. Loic the bifocaled gardener will be here tomorrow to blow leaves into piles.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Saturn is nibbled.

There is a thunderstorm. The window frames rattle. Every so often an almighty bang transmits itself down into the ground and then back up through the house.  Bob and Sophie are completely oblivious to the pyrotechnics around them. They do however get wet. Both are 'encouraged' inside. They feign deafness. Their master gets soaked.

A bored Bob rearranges the solar system with his nose. Saturn is pulled off the dishwasher door and nibbled.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Mental note.

The builders arrive. Then fifteen minutes later, they go.

Bob spends much of his day guarding. This serious work involves barking at the wind and chasing shadows. He seems satisfied that he's scared away whatever needs scaring away.

Late in the evening there is a 'hedgehog' moment.  Sophie displays her full on 'diva' side.  There is much sound and fury. Angus, torch in one hand, tries to pick the prickly critter up with the other hand. He won't try that again. Mental note - never go out without little black bags and a pair of ski gloves.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Too exotic.

Loic, the heavily bifocaled gardener, arrives . He blows leaves into piles. The PONs leap onto the piles, bury their heads deep in them then redistribute the leaves around the garden. Bobs tail rotates through 360 degrees. Loic is gloriously oblivious to the trail of devastation wrought by the PONs. Anyone conducting a time and motion study would despair at the inefficiency of the leaf collecting process.

The builders are here to put up shelves along a wall of the barn. Pool chemicals will soon be out of reach of the angelic duo. Bob and Sophie consider putting up shelves to be less important than engaging in a protracted game of 'Throw the Furry Fox'. The morose lads have learnt to accept that its easier - and quieter - to pander to their needs than it is to ignore them. The same time and motion people would also despair at the inefficiency of this process.

In the supermarket the arrival of  Artificial Flowers  signals that All Saints Day is close.

Cold coffee or coffee yogurts ? A new Starbucks line appears in the 'exotic foods' section. Angus can't decide whether they're coffees to be heated in the microwave or some form of milk based snack. Is this bewilderment another sign of advancing years ? They don't seem to be selling. Starbucks Latte's evidently too 'exotic' for the citizens of deepest France profonde.

Today the worlds population of pigeons is ( apparently ) around 260 million. This article in Harpers Magazine highlights an era a hundred and fifty years ago when flocks of 2 billion passenger pigeons used to fly across the US. When they roosted tree branches would break under their weight. The last one - Martha-  died on September 1st 1914.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The word 'exasperation' comes to mind.

Worming tablet morning. Sophie swallows hers like an angel. Bob spits his out no less than five times. The word 'exasperation' comes to mind. 'The Font' finds small pieces of chewed worming tablet in the library and the hallway.  It can safely be said that we now have one fully wormed PON and one that is partially wormed.

The PONs sit on the garden table and watch the workmen. Someone cuts a power cable. The electricity in the house goes off. Bob and Sophie monitor the ensuing comings and goings with great interest.

The wrens that nest in the wisteria have taken to perching on one of the olive trees by the front door. This impertinence drives Sophie wild. The olive tree , faced with the onslaught of a female PON in pursuit of recalcitrant wrens, has now developed a list.  A house with PONs will always have that 'lived in' look. 

Early morning dog walkers won't want to miss this.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The clocks change.

The clocks change overnight. In high summer we're out before six. Now we wait until it's getting light at seven. This morning there's a fiery sky on either side of the ridge. 

An hour later we're at the bakers in the little market town. The residents of the old folks home are celebrating their 'special' day.

A group of pre-teen musicians in orange tee-shirts escort the senior citizens down the street. The pre-teens are extremely enthusiastic musicians. They play unburdened by the standard conventions of timing or rhythm.

There is a procession . The priest is wearing a fake beard. Bob finds this presence somewhat alarming. He makes his ' I'm not sure about this ' noise in the back of his throat. Sophie moves behind my legs.

At the back of the cavalcade the more senior old folks have been loaded onto a horse drawn buggy. From the looks on their faces none of them seems to be particularly keen to be on the back of a buggy or to be up and about so early.

Back in the village there is a light on in The Very Old Farmers kitchen. He waves. We are invited in. Bob sits by me. He gets a tickle behind the ears. Sophie disappears behind the spin dryer. She emerges with something in her mouth. By the time I've noticed and attempted to remove it, she's swallowed whatever it was.

In the early evening Bob joins me in the Salle des Fetes to watch the rugby. The local farmers have been drinking since lunchtime. They sing along with the South African anthem. '' The most beautiful music in the world M'Ongoose''. Four year old farmers perform the Haka with verve. We leave  at the end of the game. Bob tells an overly familiar Jack Russell where to go. More kegs of beer arrive.

Just another unremarkable day in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Is this the only trilingual national anthem ?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Glorious tastelessness.

Halloween costumes suddenly appear in the supermarket.  

A new bottle of rose on the wine shelves.  A retro 1940's style - ' Ginger. Tasty and Spicy'. Angus chuckles aloud at the glorious tastelessness. The few shoppers out and about at this early hour glance at him nervously.

For the PONs a day for dozing at the front door. Bob, made drowsy by the autumn sun adopts his  '' I wasn't really asleep. I was merely closing my eyes  " persona. 

Two, unseasonably late, Belgian pilgrims wander along the lane. The click-clack of walking sticks on the tarmac alerts the PONs to their presence. Bob clambers onto his stump seat - Furry Fox in mouth. Sophie stands on her hind legs. The Belgian pilgrims don't seem to realize they're being observed by two ferocious beasts. They smile and wave. 

Friday, October 23, 2015

Lost composure.

We start the day enthusiastically. It goes on from there .

Bob, who is experiencing a joy overload at 'The Fonts' return, goes off for a power walk round the lake. 

Sophie is left alone with Angus. Angus closes the front door thinking Sophie is inside. She isn't. Sophie doesn't do alone. She certainly doesn't do alone quietly. The door is soon reopened.

Sophie is loaded into the back of the car. By the time we arrive at the bakers she's regained some of her lost composure.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Where do they get their energy ?

A cold start to the day. As we head along the ridge the sun rises slowly into the sky. At this early hour there's no warmth in it.  On the grass just the hint of a frost. Two young male deer leap out of the Very Old Farmers ( now largely overgrown ) cabbage patch as we pass. Bob and Sophie are too busy to notice. The PONs are in their element -  chilly Polish Lowland Sheepdog weather. Something in their DNA kicks in when the mercury falls. Bob doesn't so much run down the lane as bounce his way along. His sister zigzags at high speed from one malodorous discovery to the next. They start their day at a peak of enthusiastic happiness you'd think they couldn't maintain.                          

How wrong you'd be. Bob parades proudly round the orchard with his Furry Fox.

Sophie, carefully stewards her Furry Fox and watches in case her brother tries to 'liberate' it.

There was chicken casserole for dinner last night. 'The Font' left instructions on how to cook it that even Angus could understand. This morning the angelic duos breakfast is spiced up with cold chicken, potatoes and carrots.  Today, it is agreed, is the best day ever.

Just one of those 'dog' mornings. Too unimportant to be recorded in a diary but too happy not to be remembered ... and shared. Where do they get their energy ?

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The George Washington look.

The farmers beer tent is still in place. The village mothers , faced with a two week school holiday, have requisitioned it as a play area for the toddlers.  There is a rota. Three mothers look after the feral mass while the others head back home to catch up on their sleep. This idea has been dreamt up by the lady with the unexpected triplets. Bob and Sophie are greeted enthusiastically by the five year olds.

'The Font' heads back to London for a six monthly dental check-up. Both PONs seem to recognize that the standard of cuisine will take a sudden turn for the worse.

To compensate they dig.

Bobs nose hints at malfeasance.

Sophie's paws spell it out.

When presented with the incriminating evidence  Sophie gives me her  George Washington '' I cannot tell a lie it was all Bobs idea '' look. The new gravel floor in the barn is now pitted with 18" deep holes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The missing flags and the atonal whistler.

Each check out desk in the supermarket is decorated with a flag from one of the participating countries in the Rugby World Cup. There are two countries missing. America is one of them. The other is geographically much closer to France and isn't Scotland or Wales or Ireland. Can you guess which it might be ?

We stop off to buy some Cyclamens from the nursery. Bob has to be encouraged back into the car before he christens the Chrysanthemums in the polytunnel. 

Sophie's fixation with her Furry Fox continues. Wherever Sophie goes her Furry Fox goes too.

One of the mysteries of the French educational system is that the children get a two week mid-term holiday before Halloween. The eight year old boy is once again rattling a stick against the bars on the gates. He is clearly very bored.There is nothing designed to irritate a PON like an eight year old boy rattling a stick against their gate. He also whistles, atonaly and shrilly, which only makes matters worse.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Have you ever tasted Cheddar ?

Sunday morning. First stop the bakers. There are croissant crumbs for the angelic duo.

Then the cheesemongers. Some tiny slivers of alluring St. Nectaire. Bob does his soft shoe shuffle routine.

The cheesemonger has some of that most exotic of imports - Cheddar. He asks me if I've ever tried it.

Angus would spend longer in the wine merchants but Bob and Sophie consider it to be the dullest part of the Sunday morning shopping expedition. They fidget.

Back at home Bob is ready for whatever the day holds in store.

His sister is keen to get into the kitchen and watch lunch being prepared.

In the afternoon Bob and his master join the local farmers in the newly erected beer tent to watch Scotland against Australia. The game starts well. Sadly, the emphasis is on the word ''starts'. Bob chews contentedly on a piece of rope gifted by the man with the green Combine Harvester.