Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The noisy water beast.

Sophie joins me in the kitchen at 6.30.  I compliment her on being such a vision of loveliness. She gives me a look that makes it plain that sarcasm has its place but this isn't it.

By 7.00, after her walk, she is looking merely windswept. This is an improvement. 

I've trimmed the hair over her eyes so she can see. A diva that can see makes trips to the cafe less ' adventurous ' . 

The healthy lustre of Sophie's nose continues to be one of the canine wonders of the world. I can't help but think she's a walking advert for the benefits of 'recycling'.

The little Huguenot chapel in the next village is open.  The PONs wait outside while I look in. The air inside warm. It's only 3 degrees outside this morning.

There are fresh flowers on the table. Are they there for Halloween ?  

Back in the village a man with a battered little blue Peugeot is hard at work in the churchyard. A length of hose runs from the tap on the village green to his Karcher power washer. A cloud of spray marks his presence. The PONs hurry past this noisy water beast. I notice he has one of those hand drawn signs in the back window of his car offering it for sale for E1100. Optimism is alive and well in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Winter arrives.

A few days ago it was scorchingly hot.

Today it's cold and chilly ..... and windy. We walk quickly by the donkeys and the horses and the goat. The PONs would linger but this morning their owner is the one in a hurry. He wishes he'd put on an extra layer..... and a hat.

It seems a mere 50 passengers a day are flying each way between the little airport and Paris. This surprises me. Not the fact that so few are flying to Paris - but so many. The locals sooner go to Mars than they would to Paris. In the nine years we've been here none of our neighbours has ever been to Paris with the exception of The Old Farmer who has a 'lady' friend with an apartment in the centre near the Bourse. He's given up going there. It's too difficult to find parking for the venerable motor home.

Peruvian asparagus in the greengrocers this morning.

We opt for a Millefeuille and a tarte citron for lunch. The PONs get some slivers of choux pastry. Bobs tail does its thing.

By the time we make it home the day has brightened up.  Bob and Sophie are in the mood for some serious high velocity garden exploring. Disemboweled lamb is found under a rose bush.

How to live your life is the greatest question we all face. There is something 'right'  about this sons tribute and its story of old fashioned resilience that makes me smile: http://usnhistory.navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/10/25/john-s-mccain-iii-lessons-from-a-biased-son-on-legacy-service-sacrifice/

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Rustic ?

The clocks change. Nobody thinks to tell Bob. Instead of getting a cold wet nose in his ear at six Angus gets a cold wet nose in his ear at five.

After it gets light we head off into town for a baguette and croissants. It's All Saints Day so all the shops are selling chrysanthemums. They spill out of the arcades and onto the road.

The PONs and their master go into the bar on the square. The old farmers , who make up the clientele, treat the arrival of two shaggy mutts as if it's the most normal thing in the world. It doesn't take long before a senior gentleman in a beret wanders over and asks " What sort of dogs are those ? ". Others pluck up courage and come over to find out what the answer is. You can never be alone when you travel with dogs. Bob and Sophie get biscuits which may qualify today as the best day ever.

Back at home the PONs embark on a bout of howling at the wind. The PON howl is quite something. Where Bob leads Sophie follows.

Years ago we bought a Christmas creche and a collection of 18th century wooden saints from a shop in what was then the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic. The creche has been used every year but the saints have stayed in their box. 'The Font' finds five nails in the wall of the recently decorated back bedroom. The saints are brought out of storage and displayed. Angus thinks the stern Slovak saints are spooky. 'The Font' thinks they look rustic. They may not stay.

Sophie is in a very happy place ...

.... as is the Old Farmer who spends the day on his lawn tractor cutting and re-cutting his grass.

This is a good summary of dog ownership . ' For 21 years I've been doing this and I'd do it for 100 more ' , You'll need to turn on the sound : https://twitter.com/NATO/status/923842356989788160

Saturday, October 28, 2017

I'll be asleep.

Six in the morning. Bobs tail thwacks against the kitchen cabinets as he waits, impatiently, for me to put on my shoes. His equally impatient sister stands by his side.

I open the front door and the angelic duo head out into the garden. Sophie hurtles fearlessly into the darkness. Her brother follows on behind. Angus switches on the lights along the drive and heads of after them, black bags in one hand, a torch in the other. A dog owners routine.

The ladies of the Women's Cooperative decorating team have finally finished the drawing room. Finished, that is, apart from the woodwork on the doors. Angus is directed to move the furniture back in. The process of rehanging pictures begins.

Loic, the gardener, arrives to blow leaves. He is now on a routine of one injection a day. The departmental hospital has called him for three more days of tests on his diabetes. They've checked his arms, legs, eyes and feet and are now going to check out the rest of him.  Loic likes going to the hospital. '' I have my own room and the food is really good ". Loic, being one of Gods special children, is the only person I've ever heard say hospital food is good. He then informs me that they're going to put a tube down his throat but adds brightly " Don't worry. I'll be asleep !"  What price innocence ?

Loic blows leaves into piles. When we return from our walk the PONs will joyfully demolish his handiwork. Loic will look at them, heads deep in the leaves and laugh.

Just another day in deepest, deepest France profonde with two happy sheepdogs.

Friday, October 27, 2017

The chateau gardeners dog.

The end of October and it's blazingly hot. More like August weather. Autumn is going out in style. Sophie catches up on her beauty sleep in the shade of the courtyard.

The Old Farmer spends his morning stringing up multi-coloured Christmas lights round his gutters. Broken bulbs are carefully replaced - but not necessarily with the original colour. He has bought a job lot of greeny blue replacement bulbs at the discount store. I'd guesstimate that this years lighting will have a 35% 'blue' theme.

At dawn the PONs meet their first hedgehog of the winter behind the barn. This is a 'vocal' experience.

Angus checks out Bobs nose and wonders aloud why he never learns. Bob looks back as if to say " Because I'm a dog and I enjoy life ".

After the excitement of his pre-breakfast adventure Bob settles on the doorstep and joins his sister in a nap.

A walk down to the stream under cloudless skies. Kingfishers, fireflies, swarms of lady birds and large flocks of argumentative bull finches out and about this morning. Angus likes the bull finches. They have a bravado to them that makes it clear this is their home.The presence of a human and two scurrying PONs does nothing to disturb their grubbing.

On our return the chateau gardeners dog comes to chat to Bob and Sophie.

She then disappears back up the hill to join her master at work on the topiary in the side garden. The German billionaire came out and shook my hand on Wednesday morning. He was wearing a red boiler suit and a bilious pea green polo shirt. 'The Font' thinks this might be a hugely expensive style statement. Angus thinks it more likely he's been restoring one of his, ever expanding, collection of vintage cars.

Who knew that this song was sung outside Scotland ? In Washington a group of very old sailors have gathered ( for the last time as one of them tells me ) to remember their companions from the Pacific war.

The piper plays. The old fellows don't quite remember all the words but they know the chorus - ' Better loved you cannot be '. Not a bad choice of song for old comrades in arms.  For a few minutes they're teenagers again. How out of time to think they sang this song about Bonnie Prince Charlie in the stifling heat of Guadalcanal in 1945. Virginian and Tennessean Scots Irish. Sons and grandsons stand behind their wheel chairs. Wives, daughters and grand daughters ( and possibly some great grand daughters ) stand facing them. An honour guard salutes and pays a final debt of gratitude. The old men weep. Chinese tourists look on. Life's full circle. : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=482C-WQsk4o

Thursday, October 26, 2017


PON weather. Clear and bright with a touch of morning fog in the valleys. Looking out from the top of the ridge we can, just, see Spain on the horizon. The PONs sit by me as we discuss world affairs. Sophie, who usually wanders off in search of something to eat or bark at, is in one of her attentive moods. She leans into me as I talk. The young garagiste on his motorbike, two farmers in white vans and the man in his large green Toyota Land Cruiser with the Westie in the passenger seat pass us and wave.  Bob is told this is 'his country'.

After a walk down to the stream the PONs are loaded into the car and driven back to the village. Somewhere between the stream and the road Sophie has found something 'disagreeable' to roll in.  We return home with all the windows down.

In the village work has started on turning The Very Old Farmers vineyard into a car park. The old mans son has sold it to the village for the princely sum of $3,000.  He could have sold it for more to someone who wanted to build a house on it but that would have required some degree of industry and an element of patience. 

Why a village of 67 souls should want a car park is a mystery.

A group of pilgrims wanders by. Bob watches them from his stump seat. Sophie settles down for a doze. '' Who's bothered about pilgrims when you can have a nap ? " her motto of the day. Yesterday there was a constant stream of visitors bringing chrysanthemums to the churchyard for All Saints. More can be expected today. Bob will observe them all.

The Women's Cooperative ladies progress slowly. They should finish the drawing room today. The wallpapering of the '' snug " has been put on hold due to the discovery of a fault in the paper. New paper will need to be ordered. '' Why didn't you check it when it arrived ? " asks the lead paperer. Angus silently wonders how many people open up wallpaper rolls to look for imperfections.

Through it all Bob maintains a watchful guard on the house and its occupants. This is undoubtedly shaping up to be a day of high adventure. Quite possibly the best day ever. Sophie may not agree. The pungent aftermath of her roll in the silage means that she will be getting a long and thorough B-A-T-H.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Less cheerful ?

The ladies from the Women's Cooperative are in a surly mood. The uneven eighteenth century walls of The Rickety Old Farmhouse do not lend themselves to the hanging of striped wallpaper.

From his office down below Angus hears language that is decidedly not lady like. The PONs race up and down the stairs to investigate and help. Their presence amidst the buckets of paste does nothing to improve the situation.

The lady with the Rosie the Riveter head wear informs me that it was stupid to order stripes. '' When you have flawed walls you need swirls to divert the eye ". Until this moment in time Angus was unaware he had flawed walls. You live and learn.

Aude and the tobacco chewing lady, sensing the paperers unhappiness, head off to start on the end bedroom. Unbidden, they move the furniture into the hallway. Both ends of the hallway are now clogged with furniture. This gives the house the feel of something between the Adams Family home and a place that an OCD bric a brac collector might live in. The PONs find the mattress that's been laid on the floor excellent for bouncing up and down on.  

Is it my imagination or is the chanting at the 11.00 am meditation session less cheerful than usual ?

I saw this in Walgreens. How cool would it be to have a light show projected on the outside of the house. Or, as the box says ' Showcase you home with Full Color Holiday Slides ! '. Angus is sorely tempted to '' Buy 2 or more for spectacular results ! '. Imagine the reaction of the villagers. People would come from far and wide to marvel.  Why does 'The Font' seem so disinterested in acquiring such a great invention. 

We discover a new word. This fast food restaurant in DC sells '' concretes ". How could we not have tasted a concrete ? 

The ladies of the Women's Cooperative are now a day behind schedule. Not bad considering this will be their third day here. Glacial progress continues. Bob and Sophie love having visitors. Their owners not so much.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Without a/c.

The Women's Cooperative decorating team have brought a floor sander with them. Sophie doesn't like the floor sander or to be more precise she doesn't like the high pitched grating noise it makes. She positions herself behind a chair in the downstairs hallway and waits for it to go away.

A working relationship, of sorts, has been established with the new i-Phone. It will download quite happily onto the little Microsoft tablet. I can then transfer the photos from there to the DELL. For some reason the photos can't be viewed in full size so choosing which ones to post and which to junk is something of a hit and miss affair. 

In a shop a young lady tries to interest Angus in a humidor in the shape of the US Capitol. Angus doesn't smoke so he is uninterested. Someone, somewhere, will buy it, get it home and wonder why they spent so much money on it.

Woodrow Wilson's house in a leafy part of DC. It opens at ten and we're there at 9:59. The bemused staff give us a private tour of the '' don't get many folk here before eleven" variety.

His bedroom, rather smaller than I'd thought it would be. How could anyone survive a Washington summer in a house with heavy furnishings and no a/c ?

Mrs.Wilson had a kind face.

Bob continues to monitor the Women's Cooperative decorating team.

The book everyone is talking about. An excuse to start eating butter and chocolate ?  ( Not that Angus ever stopped ). There is a butter shortage in France. The shelves in the supermarket completely bare of both salted and unsalted.  : https://www.amazon.com/Bad-Food-Bible-How-Sinfully/dp/0544952561/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508683988&sr=1-1&keywords=bad+food+bible/marginalrevol-20

Monday, October 23, 2017


After a two week absence the ladies of the Women's Cooperative return to paint and paper the drawing room. During their fortnight away they have hosted a course in alpaca wool spinning.

It was a very successful course says the tallest of them enthusiastically. 'Successful' in this sense means that seven ladies from all corners of France have spent a week being shown the technical intricacies of weaving natural pashminas on a hand loom. 

Bob and Sophie watch as Aude, the bipolar decaratrice, unloads ladders from the roof of the van. She chats away to herself. The three other boiler suited ladies put up scaffolding.

None of the ladies from the Womens Cooperative can be counted as dog people. It would never enter their minds to bring Jaffa Cakes for Bob and Sophie. In this regard the window cleaners are considered better visitors.

Monday morning music : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXoWg08pwiQ

A must view for dog owners : http://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-europe-41717804/macron-s-dog-interrupts-meeting