Tuesday, February 28, 2017

On his watch.

As warm and bright as a summers day. On our way back from the pre-lunch walk we pass a couple heading to the car park. Their arms laden with daffodils. I smile at this sign of Spring.

As we turn the corner by the Salle de Fetes the source of the daffodils becomes apparent. The couple have pretty much picked all the flowers along the ditch by the gate. A few solitary specimens survive along the side wall.

Bob looks horrified that this could have happened on his watch.

Sophie is less bothered. She's aware there's salmon for lunch. 


Monday, February 27, 2017

Prescription strength.

Monday morning. Bob and Sophie make it plain they're full of energy and ready to 'mix it up'. When I explain it to them they seem relaxed over the best picture confusion at the Oscars.

We head off to the early opening garden centre. The storm has done for the orange and lemon trees on the terrace. Replacements are required. The examples we find have that curled leaf look that tells you it's a national chain where no one's responsible for looking after the products. We'll buy them from the man in the market.

A dog washing machine has been installed by the front door.

Angus reads the instructions. The thought of walking Bob up a ramp, settling him down on a stainless steel tray, tying him up and expecting him to sit still why he's washed and blow dried beggars the imagination. The probable presence of shoppers with hyper-active children makes this flight of fancy even less likely. Both dog and owner would need a prescription strength sedative if they were to try it.

Sunday, February 26, 2017


The Belgian lady stops her car at the gate. She's off to see the Old Farmer in the Nursing Home. He's proving to be a difficult patient. The food is bad, he doesn't want unknown women giving him baths and the doctor's too young and a complete idiot. His daughter has suggested he recuperate in her flat in Toulouse. He refuses with the words '' You're working all the time. I might as well be in my own home ". Current plans call for him to be released on March 6th. The Belgian lady will be at hand to nurse him to recovery.

Bob and 'The Font' head off for a power walk round the lake. Sophie has an amble with me to the crossroads. It's not far in distance terms but there and back takes us an hour. Every clump of grass is sniffed, every vista enjoyed, every animal greeted. Our progress is conducted at a glacial pace. We detour, as we do morning and evening, to check on The Old Farmers house and chase the cats from his car collection. 

Yesterday afternoon there was great excitement in the village. A bus load of pilgrims from Pamplona arrives. The bus driver knows that all French village halls have free facilities. The sixty or so pilgrims are soon forming a disorderly queue outside the WC. I notice, but thankfully can't hear, the village odd job man standing by the swaying Jesus. A group of eager Spaniards surrounds him. Angus prays that he's not selling them bottles of Holy Water from the Holy Well. One mans miracle is another mans business opportunity.

Bob, Sophie and Angus head off to the macaroon store. Some flavours seem to sell out more quickly than others.

A large wild boar, followed by three piglets and an agitated mother charge along the lane at sunset. They run in a perfect line astern formation, the tiny legged little ones keeping up with their parents. Something must have startled them into activity. This is why I keep the PONs on a lead.

Scotland beat Wales in the rugby tournament. The teams excellent field craft is a source of much delight to Angus . Is there any other anthem in which the second verse is sung unaccompanied ?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RraEqSD6-g8

A record of those little things ( with the exception of the rugby ) too unimportant for a diary but too important to go completely unrecorded.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

A doorstep discovery.

While we're out buying croissants Loic the gardener tidies up the garden. A favourite toy is found in the lavender border and placed where it can be easily found. The PONs return home and are overjoyed with this doorstep discovery.

Bob watches Loic blow leaves into piles. The family fellow then sets about 'unpiling' them. Loic is oblivious to the mayhem behind him.

Sophie engages in some pre-breakfast worm gathering from the disturbed soil around the fallen trees. Angus looks at her muddy muzzle and declines the offer of an affectionate lick. In return he gets an umistakeable '' It's your loss '' look.

Barely seven and our day has started off the PON way -  'enthusiastically' and noisily. How else would you start the best day ever ?

Friday, February 24, 2017

Happy Hour.

By seven it's light and Bob is waiting patiently for the days entertainment to begin. The builders will be here in half an hour. The electricians will also be making an unscheduled appearance. Yesterday there was a slight 'incident' involving a morose lad, a light fitting and the fuse box.

Harness on time is a high spot of the day. Way up there alongside mealtimes. Great excitement ensues. Great excitement is a dog owners way of describing chaos. You'd think that after four years the angelic duo might temper their enthusiasm and stand still while the harnesses are put on.

'The Font' is of the opinion the Angus has got to an age where he should dress more 'brightly'. In the rugby store ( where Angus buys much of his clothing ) they are selling trousers in red, white or blue. 'The Font' wonders if Angus should buy a pair of the red ones for our upcoming trip to California. Angus is of the opinion that he's happy to stick with blue - a colour that works well at any age. The red trousers are the sort of thing a Happy Hour crooner in a Palm Desert cocktail lounge might wear. Not even the inducement of 50% off tempts this Scotsman.

Nothing need be added : https://aeon.co/ideas/our-universe-is-too-vast-for-even-the-most-imaginative-sci-fi

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Taking the unexpected in your stride.

One of the morose lads leaves a roll of kitchen paper on the floor. Sophie finds it. By the time I track her down some of the kitchen roll has been gummed, some swallowed, some regurgitated and the majority shredded. Angus muses out loud on the joys of having a low maintenance dog in the family.

Little did we know when we got up on Monday that within 48 hours 'The Font' would have flown back to Malaga, hastily arranged a cremation, collected an urn full of ashes and returned home. Things get done very quickly in Spain.The PONs are overjoyed at the flocks reunion. Little do they know how close they were to a visit to the k-e-n-n-e-l-s. 

'The Font' wonders why the joiners have installed the basin and the basin unit before the builders have taken out the old paneling behind. 

The basin has been designed by someone who doesn't shave.  It's a metre wide broad but extremely shallow. Not deep enough to scoop up water to wash away shaving foam. The other bathrooms will be 'rethought' to make them more shaver focused.

Old photo of a dog and a cat in Paris : http://retro-vintage-photography.blogspot.fr/2011/09/annick-gerardin.html

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Early rising.

An early start to the day. The builders and plumbers are back.

Bob and Sophie are delighted when workmen visit. Bob can pester the morose lads into throwing Furry Fox. Sophie can charm the morose lads into sharing their mid-morning snacks. 'Charm' in the Sophie sense means sitting and staring ( unblinking ) at them until they get the message.

Aude, the bipolar decaratrice, is due to show up to do some painting. She calls to say she won't be here until Monday. This is fine by us. One of the morose lads drops a new basin on the floor. The floor survives but the shock has opened up a crack in the plaster on the wall. Aude can fill it in and paint over it.

This dog must have a sore head : https://twitter.com/PDChina/status/834087482048311296

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter

The plumbers show up at seven thirty to start work on updating the bathrooms. It would have been nice if they'd called to say they were coming.Three vans and half a dozen overall wearing figures appear. The PONs are delighted.

The morose lads trample the daffodils around the well. The well is the morose lads favourite spot for cigarette breaks. The house reverberates to the sound of banging and sawing. There are slivers of croissant at the bakers for the PONs. For them this is turning out to be a quite simply marvellous day.

The wine shop is a canine free zone. The angelic duo have to wait outside. I'm gone for all of three minutes. This is long enough for Bob to do his ' I haven't seen you in weeks ' routine when I return. PONs are not a breed to hide their emotions. Sophie is more interested in whether I've brought anything for her to eat.

Sophie is keen to skip and jump everywhere. I do my best to restrain her from putting too much weight on 'that' leg.

Freshly dug worms provide solace.

Monday, February 20, 2017

You're standing on the verge of the rest of your life

When it's a sunny start to the day

and the butcher's given you some raw lamb to taste

and your sister's finally well enough to be savaged

and you've found Furry Fox under a hedge

How can you be anything other than happy ? 

So begins the best day ever in a PON boys life.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Inexplicable dignity.

A dead fox under a tree at the side of the road. It’s sitting upright on its haunches, head resting on the tree trunk. Eyes closed as if it's just fallen asleep. No sign of blood so it was probably given a glancing blow by a speeding car and somehow made it here. The coat still bright so it must have happened recently.  I’m worried what the PONs will do but they stand and observe it quietly, almost reverentially. Across generations of PONs I’ve noted this inexplicable dignity in the presence of death. A kind of canine salute to a fellow traveler ?

We walk for forty five minutes. Sabbath traffic. No cars. No motorbikes. No people. Bob races ahead. Sophie sticks by my side. City folk think the countryside is quiet but this morning woodpeckers, Jays, Owls, Redstarts, a variety of Finches and a thousand lowly Sparrows sing, screech and peck away.

The fancy bakers seems to have got himself into a spiral of raising prices and then seeing his custom decline. Eclairs which used to be the equivalent of $2.20 have now risen to $3.50. This seems steep to me. He's pricing himself out of business. The variety of products slowly shrinking.

Outside, by the covered market , we detour past two sleeping dogs. They belong to the beggar who opens the door in return for a fifty cent coin. Bob is keen to rush over and say hello but is 'encouraged' back to the car.

Over the valley a strange sight.  A weirdly shaped cloud with strands that hang like udders from the sky. Contrails or the effect of high level winds ? Perhaps a combination of the two ?

A Sunday morning in deepest France profonde. Things too little and uneventful for a diary but too real to go completely unrecorded.

If only all banks were as subtle in their advertising : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fj6r3-sQr58

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Bird song and sunshine.

A morning of birdsong and sunshine. The dogs and their master walk to the crossroads. On our way we pass the five donkeys, the two retired race horses and the three goats that share a paddock with the Shetland Pony. The three of us sit on the storm drain and watch the sun rise above the oaks on the next ridge. The young garagiste races by on his motorbike. He waves. So does the farmer with the Westie in his big Toyota 4x4. The Westie leaps from the front passenger seat into the back. He stands, barking, on his hind legs , front paws pressed against the rear window. This is something he does every morning. He clearly believes he is an intimidating sight. Fury unleashed. The PONs are oblivious to him as his face disappears - yapping - down the lane.

Bob has had a haircut.

By the pond the blossom is coming out. The trees covered in butterflies and bees. The scent of summer filling the air.

Bob and Sophie play - noisily. Or to be more precise Bob plays silently while his sister howls in delight. After six months of immobility her zest for life is ferocious. This simple change makes me glad.

For dogs and humans as near perfect a start to a day as it can get. Sophie goes with 'The Font' to the fishmongers. Sophie's celestial tether is strained by the excitement of a delivery of fresh fish. The fish monger gives her some salmon skin. There's sea bass for dinner. Can it get any better ? 

To top it all here's a chart that adds to the beauty of a sunny February Saturday: https://twitter.com/BillGates/status/832336758356455424

Friday, February 17, 2017

A little better.

The swaying Jesus has survived the 100 km/h + winds. It leans a little more but was sheltered from the damaging gusts by the body of the church. The fact it hasn't fallen and killed somebody is, in its own way, a miracle. The trees on the village green weren't so lucky. Municipal workmen are up and about early chopping up the felled giants. This activity gives Bob and Sophie something to watch. Bob sits on his stump seat and guards in stern silence. Sophie stands on her hind legs and peers through the gate to see what's going on. I try to dissuade her from doing this ( it can't be good for those metal inserts ) but the more she's dissuaded the more she does it. In the afternoon a man in a white van comes to repair the church clock. The PONs also find his arrival interesting.

Bob has unearthed an old Panda under the recently trimmed hedge. He and Panda have become inseparable.

Bob is looking very svelte. Sophie isn't.

'The Font' returns mid afternoon. Bob is overjoyed. He has one of his 'soft shoe shuffle' moments. An emotional reunion follows. Sophie wants to know what might be edible in the suitcase. The PONs are delighted the standard of cuisine  will be restored.

The Belgian lady informs us that The Old Farmer is a little better. His temperature is slowly coming down and the infection seems to be under control. The Belgian lady is worried that his cats have been getting into the garage and doing unmentionable things on the back seat of the venerable silver Mercedes. The cats very sensibly find the back seat of the Mercedes to be an enticingly warm and untroubled spot.