Saturday, April 30, 2016


The weather has turned warmer. By seven there's a mass of fat bees humming contentedly in the wisteria. Bob sits outside and guards nothing in particular.

Shortly after nine the actress is loaded in the car and driven to the airport. The stay has been entertaining.

From a rather younger American co-star she has learnt the improbable bad-boy phrase '' that was spit-take worthy ". This, apparently, is a street cred way of saying that something is so funny you would spit out your coffee when hearing it. Perhaps it sounds more convincing with an American 'hood' accent.

Her director uses the word 'flexponsive'. As in 'I want us all to be flexible and responsive to the scene' . This new addition to the English language may also sound better with an American accent.

The asparagus gets cheaper. Italian green and Greek white now down to $3 a kilo.

High gariguette season.

For Bob and Sophie an afternoon spent doing all those things that dogs do.

Bob nibbles the shrubs but soon opts for a doze. Sophie glares at pigeons.

Finally it's time for the male PON to sit on the stump seat and watch the world go by. His sister falls asleep at his feet. There isn't much passing traffic today so there's not much to watch .

France profonde is slowing down for the summer.

Friday, April 29, 2016


Bob fixes me with his 'what are we going to do today ? ' face.

Sophie emerges a little later to let me know that the yogurt pots ( hers and her brothers ) have not refilled themselves. I get a ' What are you going to do about it ? ' look.

Such different personalities.

After checking the garden for intruders ....

..... the PONs settle down. This period of calm lasts until it's time for their morning walk. Pandemonium ensues. Bob and Sophie view the morning walk as an occasion to run through their repertoire of peculiar noises.

Down in the valley a farmer is spraying his crop. So much for the belief that this as a 'bio' farming area.

By the time we return from the supermarket the Grande Dame has surfaced. She has already spoken to the mayor , who has stopped by to bid her welcome. Culture is treated very seriously in France. She is now having a conversation with the Algerian courier. She seems oblivious to the deafening Arab house music ( with the bass turned up ) emanating from the cab of his white van. The courier driver is stunned into silence by being greeted with an enthusiastic ' Un colis. Magnifique. Magnifique. Vraiment magnifique '. He spins his wheels in a hurry to escape. 

A PON owner must have written this. Rather more accurate than 'they make ideal pets for apartment owners' analysis

This Trump article by Peggy Noonan in todays Journal makes interesting reading :

Thursday, April 28, 2016

La signora Inglese.

For humans it's 6:45 am. For Bob it's time for a game of 'Throw the Furry Fox'.

He plonks Furry Fox at my feet. Then he pokes me with his nose to make sure the penny's dropped.

Workmen are putting up a new electricity pylon in the pasture beyond the crossroads. We go and say hello to them. Sophie leads the way.

The Grande Dame of the theatre arrives for a brief visit. '' I'm filming in Rome and you're on my way home ". The Rome to Toulouse flight is with Easy Jet. Angus isn't sure if the GD understands that a low cost carrier doesn't do first class.

We find her in the arrivals hall talking animatedly to a gentleman. ' Oh ! You're here ' she says as if she's been waiting for hours. ' This adorable young man volunteered to help me with my bags '. We turn to look at her companion. He's 55ish, clearly enjoys his pasta and is wearing jeans and a maroon tee shirt with the name of a hardware store in Pisa written across the front in large yellow letters. 'Adorable', 'young' and 'volunteered' are all words that are subjective . He has the harried look of someone who has just been co-opted into carrying luggage for a signora inglese.

Bob and Sophie have only met the GD once. Bob gives her his 'Blimey!' look. Sophie recognizes a kindred spirit. Wilf and Digby were always enthusiastic about her visits. This may have something to do with the fact that the GD is a keen believer in feeding dogs from the table.

The bees are back. They seem to be nesting underneath the PONs wooden garden table. A call to the bee man is made.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Neither asked for nor received.

This morning the PONs find a hedgehog in the garden. The hedgehog is either early in rising or late in retiring. Sophie howls. Bob tries to pick it up in his jaws.

Angus puts on a pair of thick gardening gloves, picks up the hedgehog, places him in a brown cardboard box , carries the box into the wheat field and lets him go. From the other side of the fence Bob follows my actions in stoic silence. Sophie lets the village know what's happening.

Finally ( oh how easily that word is written ) the PONs are loaded in the back of the car.

Bob sits on the right which enables Sophie to take her rightful position on the left.

This morning we head off to the strawberry farm. Bob and Sophie like going to the strawberry farm. It's not that they like strawberries but the farmer always takes the time to talk to them.

We pay for four punnets. We get given a fifth of 'ugly' berries. " Can't sell them looking like that but they taste the best " I'm told.

The Belgian lady is having a breeze block wall built along the lane facing the horse farm. The latest escalation in the long simmering feud between neighbours. Two men are busy with a cement mixer laying foundations. I'm quite sure she hasn't asked for, or received, planning permission.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

What else matters ?

The blue haired cleaning lady is no longer employed at The Rickety Old Farmhouse. She was never the most conscientious of attendees but while we were away the house was ignored. We were presented with a bill for a daily visit for the fortnight we were gone. The security system told a different story. Neither the front nor the back doors had been opened nor had the alarm been switched off. A 'tricky' diplomatic conversation ensues.

The PONs are oblivious to the vagueries of human existence.

There are walks...

.... and there are tickles. Not ,of course, forgetting beans and pork for dinner.

What else matters ?

Monday, April 25, 2016

Why be stealthy when you can shriek ?

Sophie is up early. From time to time I catch sight of her as she chases blackbirds across the lawn. The blackbirds are in no danger of being caught unawares. Sophie is not a stealthy hunter. Why be quiet when you can shriek ?.

There are wild boar about. We are under strict instructions from the vet to keep our wits about us and the dogs on a lead. The PONs have taken to this new routine as well as can be expected. As we turn out of the house half a dozen deer walk across the lane ahead of us and head off through the high corn. In single file they follow the canyon made by the tractors wheels. We are downwind so they appear oblivious to our presence . Not even Sophie's yelps of excitement causes them to pick up speed.

Sophie has the mud cleaned from her paws and then we head off to the bakers. Angus asks for a Tarte Tatin but is told in no uncertain way that it's a winter dish. ' At this time of the year you should be eating a Fraisier' says the bakers wife with a sleep deprived abruptness that indicates that the latest child is teething.

The Fraisier proves to be delicious. The sponge soaked in strawberry juice, the marzipan thin, the berries fresh. We've bought the smallest of the batch but it'll be big enough to last us until Tuesday. There are rumours that the bakers isn't doing well and that they're thinking of closing. Slowly but surely many of the small firms that make life in France so special are going out of business. Supermarkets and the fact that both parents work is now catching up with the old relaxed routines.

Despite the bakers wife's surliness Bob and Sophie get given some croissant crumbs.

All is well with the world.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

We are ignored.

Another wet and blustery start to the day.

Not that it's a day without excitement.

The mayor shows up at the front gate to borrow a ladder. He's putting out the flags again. Something to do with the Algerian war.

No sooner has he returned the ladder and gone home than a 1960's car club detours through the village to see the miraculous 'talking statue'.

They park in a higgledy piggledy manner and then walk up to the churchyard. The lead driver, a man in a shiny blue track suit,  takes it upon himself to 'bless' the cars. Angus can't help but think this is ever so slightly sacrilegious.

On their return a 1960 Panhard- Levassor ( it's in concourse condition the owner tells me ) refuses to start. It is pushed onto the grass by the war memorial. Everyone scratches their heads. Angus thinks of saying something helpful, but doesn't.

Bob and his master watch the proceedings unfold with great interest. We are ignored.

This is an interesting article :

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Call yourself a dog owner !

Last week the weather was hot and sunny. This week it's chill and wet. We put the heating back on. At least the wisteria by the front door seems to be enjoying the change.

The ground has become waterlogged with the constant rain. Bob likes waterlogged ground. He can drink from the drainage ditches on our morning walk. He will not, however, walk along the road that leads to the old widows house. The new grit that is being laid hurts his paws.

I spend ten minutes writing the morning blog. Sophie comes to join me. She brings with her a yogurt pot. This she throws at my feet three times. I stop and explain to her that the carton won't refill itself. She gives me an accusatory look that says '' Call yourself a dog owner ! ".

Finally, they are saddled up and loaded into the back of the car. Bob takes up position on 'his' side so there are no diva like outbursts from his sister.

7.30 am and I've already laughed aloud half a dozen times. That, in its essence, is what dog ownership is all about.

This also made me chuckle. Being driven by the 95 year old husband of the Queen of England must be one of the most unexpected risks an American President can face :

Friday, April 22, 2016


In the garden store the unusual sight of  dog being wheeled around the aisles on a trolley. The dog seems very content. 

It rains heavily. The PONs see this as the perfect reason to spend the day in the garden. Physics lesson #1 : A PON can absorb its own body weight in water. 

The floor of the hallway disappears under a mass of water absorbing towels and blankets. The angelic duo are 'invited' into the kitchen.

Bob follows the preparation of chicken curry with great interest. His sister is toweled dry and finally loses the water logged look.

The Old Farmer Returns from his trip to Avignon. He brings us a kilo of tripe. 'The Font' expresses what ( to the uninitiated ) might pass for delight. 

And I hope I'm still speaking French this well if I make it to 90 :

Thursday, April 21, 2016

It goes without saying.

A day for the PONs monthly ear plucking and cleaning. Sophie pretends to object but relishes being the centre of attention. Bob suffers in stoic big brotherly silence. Afterwards they get given a slice of carrot as recompense.

The weather has changed. From hot and cloudless to windy and overcast. In fact very windy. The swarming bees have disappeared. The PONs chase blackbirds. It goes without saying the blackbirds are untroubled.

During the night the wild boar have been digging up the grass verges along the lane with their tusks. Bob is kept on his harness for his mid-morning walk. Too many local dogs have taken on the wild boars and lost.

White asparagus at $6.50 a kilo now cheaper than the green asparagus at $7.00

Fresh peas make an appearance. A pain to shuck but the taste is worth it. Sophie adores fresh peas. Bob thinks they're a lot of bother.

Another quiet day in deepest, deepest France profonde.

And here a reminder that Scottish island life requires multi-tasking :