Monday, July 31, 2017

Very keen.

It's decidedly darker in the mornings now. When I come downstairs and turn on the lights Sophie is still asleep in a cool spot on the library floor. She gives me her slightly surprised ' is it that time already ? ' look.

A group of pilgrims on bicycles arrived late last night and set up a large blue tent on the village green. This morning they can be seen running backwards and forwards to the loo in the Salle de Fetes. There seem to be a surprising number of pilgrims in the tent. Bob and Sophie are very keen to say hello. Very keen. Despite, or perhaps because of, the PONs suspicion that their may be food they are encouraged in the opposite direction. The pilgrims don't know how lucky they are to have been spared an early morning 'hello' from two enthusiastic sheepdogs.

The lane heading towards the crossroads mercifully free of anyone and anything that the angelic duo may wish to share their enthusiasm with.

Off to the bakers. The roads quiet. Everyone is taking their two week holiday at the same time. Angus orders a strawberry cake. The baker wanders out from the kitchen and informs me I've made an excellent choice. Bob and Sophie share some choux pastry slivers.

Back at home the cake looks decidedly bigger than it did in the bakers. It has sliced apple on top. 'The Font' tries the sliced apple but is less certain about the cake. Angus is reminded that just because it's a strawberry cake it doesn't count as one of his five a day.

So starts a Monday morning in deepest, deepest France profonde. Later this morning we may take some bottled water over to the pilgrims.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A quiet Sunday.

It's going to be a hot one. The air already heavy and humid as Angus sets off with Sophie down the old ox track to the stream. There have been wild boar about in the night. The soil scuffed and rutted. Sophie stops to sniff their scent and savour something they've left behind. She fishes, inelegantly, for minnows by the waterfall. Every so often she lunges into the water, generating a bow wave, getting herself wet and leaving the minnows unperturbed. She shrieks, presumably with happiness but possibly in frustration, or a combination of the two, then repeats the process. Refraction like perspective a concept that takes some getting used to.

On the way home Sophie positively bounds up the hill that leads to The Rickety Old Farmhouse's kitchen door. Every so often she stops, looks back and waits for her owner to catch up. She exhibits studied impatience.

At the top of the hill, before heading indoors, Angus sits and takes in the view.

The sunflowers at their best. The perfect reason for a brief pause. 

Sophie is keen to get home and have breakfast. Her brother who has been for a power walk round the lake joins her.

This poem is very beautiful :

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Doing their job.

Sophie comes a long, leg strengthening walk across the fields. She clambers up hills and down hills for a full forty five minutes. Those titanium joints are doing their job. On the top of the ridge we sit side by side on the grass and watch the sun flood the valley. This most independent of ladies puts her chin on my knee and has her head scratched. Angus talks to her about Anthony Scaramucci but she's fallen,briefly, asleep. Just as well. There are some things a young lady shouldn't hear. 

After a power walk round the lake Bob has been given a chilled half carrot by 'The Font'. He sits in the back of the car enjoying it. One eye is kept open for the return of his sister.

When Sophie returns she knows that 'goodies' have been had. Bob feigns ignorance. Complete ignorance. Diplomat Bob.

In the little market town the cupcake store has closed.

As has the general store. The cupcake store had a business plan that lasted two years. The general store had been there since 1953. Meanwhile the out of town shopping centre expands.

Same day. Two Tweets by different US Senators :

And in terms of dogs doing their job this piece from yesterdays WaPo :

Friday, July 28, 2017


Getting into the back of the car is a relatively smooth and orderly process. Bob gets up first and sits on 'his' side of the car. Sophie gets up next and does several 360 degree turns before settling down satisfied that all is in order.

We drive down to the valley and park so that the angelic duo can go for a paddle in the stream and a run through the sunflowers.

Off to the market for flowers for the dining table. In Scotland the flowers are scentless things grown in some Dutch or Kenyan greenhouse and air freighted to purchasers in the frigid north.  Here they're the product of someones back garden and sold, bugs and all, for 3 euros a bunch.

We have flowers at The Rickety Old Farmhouse, or to be more precise we have roses. Lots and lots of roses.The thick clay soil ( gelatinous in the rain and baked solid in the summer ) is something that roses like. Blue things like Ceanothus also like it. Everything else seems to die - sometimes immediately, usually after soldiering on for three months.

PONs and master stop for a cup of coffee and a bowl of water at a small cafe. We've never been there before but the waitress greets us like long lost friends. To be more precise she treats Bob and Sophie like long lost friends and takes Angus's coffee order in silence. The chef brings out biscuits. Sophie drops the 'diva' persona and replaces it with her 'orphan that's never been fed ' act.

Without the Financial Times  Angus would not be au courant with fashion trends. If you thought romper suits were for two year olds - think again. The accompanying video is clearly aimed at a younger less conservative audience. Even more amazing is that the '' Splatter Print Cotton " has already sold out .

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Dogs have ears.

The PONs head out of the front door. Today is a day for howling. Yesterday was a pretty good day but today is going to be a hundred times better. Bob throws his head back and starts which is the cue for his sister to join in. The famous ululating PON howl. How the villagers must love us.

Both PONs have now had their second summer buzz cut.

There was a retired farmer on the island where Angus was brought up. A tall, gentle, cultivated man who knew the tides and could read the sky. An expert on Scotlands ancient vitrified hill forts. Mysterious structures made from granite blocks that had been melted and turned to glass ( in a process long lost and today technologically impossible ). After his wife died his daily routine changed. He would visit the pub for a wee dram or two then walk the clifftops accompanied by his trusty black Labrador. Whatever the weather he and the dog would sit and stare out to sea oblivious to everything bar each others alongside warmth. The old man spoke with that soft whispering island accent bordering on the Icelandic. He told an eight year old Angus to never forget that dogs have ears ' that can hear the flowers sing as they open '.  The knowledge of the Gael. Sophie is the sort of dog that lives in that magical place. She'll sit for hours, lost in her own world, following invisible things in the sky and listening to sounds no human ear could ever hope to capture. She revels in natures greenness. Bob by contrast is not prone to reflection. He guards 24/7 or 6/7 when adjusted for naps, walks, tickles and meals. Brother and sister but such different characters

The Judas tree on the village green now out in full bloom.

At the market the colourfully dressed gentleman from Togo wonders if I'd be interested in a turquoise hat . '' It suit you very much Mister ! " he says before adding " Make you look younger !! ". Angus ignores the inference and promises to think about it. Sophie wonders if it might be edible.

Point #5 is intriguing but I don't think I've ever seen, let alone been in, a Cracker Barrel Old Country Store :

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


The owls have been out late. They're still screeching and fluttering in the plane trees as we head off  for our morning walk. Three cars go by on the lane - one after the other. This is a most unusual occurrence. The PONs watch this automotive cavalcade with tail waving interest. Sophie stands on her hind legs at the gate ( I wish she wouldn't do that ) and squeaks with excitement.

The two young horses in the field by the stream have now got used to seeing Bob and Sophie. As we approach they trot over to the strand of wire that functions as a fence . Bob ignores them. Sophie who has run ahead suddenly realizes how big the horses are and how exposed she is and comes hurrying back. What looks small at a distance can look so different close up. Perspective can be such a difficult thing.

On our return Angus sets about topping up the swimming pool. Despite having freshly filled water bowls both PONs take delight in drinking from the leaking hosepipe valve . In fact they'll only drink from the leaking hosepipe valve . Bob drinks silently. Sophie makes loud slurping noises. She then walks back into the house - water dripping from her chin.

This morning an early trip to the wine merchants for some Pomerol. Bob and Sophie are in two minds about the wine store. The attractive and knowledgeable young lady behind the counter chats to them and tickles their chins. This is good. Sadly, however, she has nothing to offer in the way of baked goods. This is bad. Sophie gives her a grumpy stare.

Out on the storm drain Bob and Angus discuss the trials and tribulations of Jeff Sessions. Angus points out that New Zealand, Australia, Canada and now the UK all have female Chief Justices.  As well as having a woman heading the judiciary the UK also has a female Head of State and a female Head of Government.

Everyhting you needed to know about the Georgia Peach :

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Tuesday morning moments.

Sophie is in an affectionate mood. Having found and digested something pungent she is intent on giving Angus a kiss. This is declined.

Bob is worried that I've forgotten the car keys.

Finally, the PONs are loaded into the back of the 'Loonj'.  Bob gets in first and sits on the wrong side. This causes a diva moment. '' You oaf ! That's my place " . Bob gets out. Sophie gets in. Bob follows. The universe is back in balance. Silence, or near silence, reigns.

The church clock has gone wrong again. It is stuck at five to four. The mayor thinks the pigeons have built a nest on the ( supposedly pigeon proof ) mechanism. From time to time it emits a frustrated half clunk, half boing.

On our way to the market a 'cardiac' moment. Two pint sized dogs object to Bob and Sophie walking by.

The butcher is displaying  a calf head. This is somewhat off putting. Angus wonders who would buy it. Sophie is  intrigued.

Two portions of Flan de Grand Mere aux oeufs frais for lunch. The PONs get a little baguette crust.

Today is going to be the best day ever.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Not conducive.

Sophie is having one of her 'mornings'. Chasing a shrew ( unsuccessfully ) in a drainage ditch is not conducive to a good hair day.

Bob sits on his stump seat looking through the gate and guarding. Sophie guards inwards. The tike and his brother head off early on their rasping motorbikes. Their mother must be delighted they're out of the house. 

Is it me or does Bobs new summer buzz cut make him look like a Wookie in Star Wars ?

Pineapple coated in chocolate sponge in the bakers. Not a great idea at seven am. We pass.

Some horrid Quinoa snacks at the supermarket. This is the sort of thing 'The Font' will enjoy.

The Monday morning flower market. Bob joins me. Sophie can be overwrought by the sights and sounds so stays at home. Hundreds, probably thousands, of acres of sunflowers all around but in town they're being sold as table decorations.

A boat from Germany arrives in the canal. It has window boxes.

It's early but on our way home the Toulouse stations play this three times  :

Sunday, July 23, 2017

A French Larkin family.

Cool and overcast. A perfect morning for opening up the shutters and getting rid of the heat inside the house.

Bob lies at the open front door to make sure no c-a-t-s try to sneek inside. He snores gently as he does so.

The eight year old tike ( the one who whistles while rattling the bars on the gate with a stick on his way to school ) and his big brother are up and about early on their rasping little motorbikes. It's probably illegal for them to be out on the public highway at their age and it's certainly illegal for them to be out without helmets but their parents have a care free attitude bordering on nonchalance when it comes to their offspring. Last night we saw the children sitting on their fathers tractor as it made its way along the lane. The three year old twin girls were hanging off the back, laughing hysterically, ruddy cheeked faces covered in mud and straw. The four, five and seven year old boys were sitting precariously on the rear mudguards. All the children seem robustly healthy and deliriously happy. The parents have that French country 'there'll be another where this one came from' attitude to family safety. We think there are seven offspring but as they're constantly in motion it's hard to be any more precise. They are a French version of the Larkin family. Quite how the father makes a living is something of a mystery but the tractor and the goats that roam their garden suggests it may be something vaguely agricultural. He drives a twenty year old Ford Mondeo with lowered suspension , heavily tinted windows and an air horn that plays the first bar of Yankee Doodle.

Pineapple tomatoes make an appearance in the greengrocers ....

... as do an exotic selection of aubergines.

Croissant crumbs at the bakers make up for what has been for the PONs an unexciting morning although Bob has barked at the tike and his brother.

Some thoughts by the philosopher Alain de Botton that made me smile: