Saturday, June 30, 2018

He's really sensitive and loves literature

Bob has had a really late night eating pizza, cavorting and playing touch rugby. This morning he's having a lie in. At some point during the night his sister has headed downstairs to sleep on the cold floor tiles by the front door. Her brothers snoring might also have had something to do with her decision to move.

Seems there has been a C-A-T in the garden. Our morning walk is delayed while the PONs check to make sure everything is safe. They accompany their high speed security check with basso profondo barks ( Bob ) and high pitched yelps ( Sophie ).

The jet lagged Texan tenants have been given the keys and a tour of the house. Little Hank and Melody will be enrolled at the local primary school. They seem happy.

In Scotland Graduation ceremonies, morning and afternoon, disrupt the traffic flows. This goes on all week. Processions of academics intermingle with Russian language tours and block the road outside the sma' house. Parking is a nightmare. The restaurants full of proud parents and their offspring. 'The Font' hears one young lady say to her mother ( when her new boyfriend tires of polite conversation and wanders off to watch England play Belgium on the television in the bar ) ' Oh Mummy you don't know him - he's really very sensitive and loves literature '. A line that's eternal in its optimism.

No doubting you're in Scotland. Even though it's a lowland town kilts much in evidence after a morning ceremony

Friday, June 29, 2018

Something deeply reassuring.

The local farmers use the village hall to catch up on the latest World Cup matches. A good place to take a break in between ploughing and spraying. Tractors arrive, then go. France is still in the tournament so conversations turn to the chances of exotic teams from from far away places like South Korea or Costa Rica or England. Germany is out of the tournament which is put down to them 'not having the pace and style for the modern game '. Farmers wives show up to collect their offspring from the afternoon school bus and then disappear into the village hall kitchen to make sandwiches and open bottles of wine. A boom box plays music that the little ones dance to. The farmers watch replays of matches on the borrowed television and  seem oblivious to the three year olds prancing around them.

The lime tree that stands on the village green is covered in small flowers. These attract bees. In fact the lime flowers seem to act on bees the same way a magnet works on iron filings. There must be thousands of them working away. As we leave the front gate for our six am walk the music from the bees carries into the The Rickety Old Farmhouse. Something deeply reassuring about the sound of bees at work. A sign that all is well with the world.

This morning Bob is accompanied on his morning walk by Lamb on a Rope.  Sometimes a day is so perfect you want to share it with an old friend. Taking Lamb on a Rope on the morning walk has the added advantage of driving his sister wild with jealousy. We proceed slowly. Bob has a habit of dropping Lamb while he sniffs the hedgerows and then has to remember where he left him.

And, if this is anything to go by, the weather in Scotland remains glorious :

Thursday, June 28, 2018


The start to the greatest day ever. Yesterday was pretty good but the PON's know today's going to be even better.

At 5:32 am Bob wanders into the bedroom and sticks a cold wet nose in my ear to appraise me of this fact. Any hope of getting back to sleep is dispelled by his tail thwacking against the bedside table.

So starts a hot summers day with two lively sheepdogs. Today, we are likely to be the first customers at the bakers.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The wee house.

'The Font' heads back to Scotland. Lots of little last minute preparations before the Texan tenants arrive on Friday. This time 'The Font' tries the connecting flight through Belgium with Brussels Air. Supposedly 4 hours and 50 minutes from Toulouse to Edinburgh inclusive of the plane change at Zaventem. An hour quicker than the best connection with BA. Both flights are late - something to do with the French Air Traffic Controllers being on strike. The second flight lands just in time to catch the Edinburgh evening rush hour.

The cleaning company who employ wives from the local army base have been in. The place is spotless and 'regimented'. Everything is exceedingly right angular , magazines carefully stacked, books aligned as if on parade.

There is a moment of horror when 'The Font' finds and reads a letter sent by the university. The second night the Texans will be in the house is the night of the Graduation Ball. In our day you graduated, partied until midnight and then went home. These days the Graduation Ball is major part of the social calendar with a bevy of bands starting at midnight and going on until the sun rises ( and then some ). The tone of the letter - 'I would like to give you our assurances that we have taken all measures possible to ensure that noise levels ... are kept within reason ' suggests that the sound levels will be memorable.  Hopefully, the Texans and their wee ones will be so jet lagged they won't notice the bedlam going on outside.

The laburnum trees coming into full bloom.

There is a 'wee house' by the town gate. This used to be the public lavatory but has been bought, converted and named by someone with a sense of humour. We shall have to rename the wee house the sma' house.

In San Francisco this is apparently unusual. Elsewhere it would be called a gastropub :

This has gone largely unnoticed but shows that things do get better. To appoint an Ulster policeman is a sign of just how mature and world class Irish politics has become. It's also one of those quiet events that we may look back on later and say ' that's when it started ':

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Suite a l'episode que nous avons connu.

This morning Bob sits with me on the storm drain. I dangle my legs over the edge. Bob leans into me and is told that this is 'his country'.  His sister forages for dead voles in the weed strewn ditch that leads down to the donkey field. She'll emerge covered in burrs. The young garagiste races by in his souped up Citroen C1 with tinted windows. He slows to wave then accelerates away. The exhaust makes a testosterone filled gurgle as he disappears down the lane. Angus tells Bob about John Bolton's trip to Russia. What will Putin get in return for turning a blind eye to Iran ? A blind eye to Ukraine ? Bob is  rather more interested in a cat that has emerged from a hedge at the side of the field. Affairs of state can wait until tomorrow. 

Bob may not be interested in diplomacy but he does have a comical face.

A rather rich chocolate layer cake at the bakers. Angus thinks the croissant rather 'stodgy'. The PONs disagree.

The village newsletter arrives. The Departmental gardening judges will be visiting the village on July 6th. Any villagers who want to enter a photo of their home or garden into the best kept house competition are welcome to do so. All entrants will receive a certificate and one of the mayors wife's dried vegetable arrangements. The land behind the village hall  that used to belong to the Very Old Farmer has been acquired. It will be turned into a car park. Work will start in July. 'The Font' unhelpfully wonders who is going to park there. The newsletter is supposed to be monthly but news is not exactly a big thing here so we may, or may not, see another issue before Christmas.

Angus finishes the biography of President McKinley. A surprisingly easy read. The first President to understand that America's wealth would lie in trading. As Presidents go he was lucky ( barring his unfortunate run in with an assassin), professional and decidedly uncharismatic. His wife had epilepsy.

Pandora's Box also finished. Undoubtedly brilliant but one of those two facts per sentence books that leaves you feeling drained and in need of a glass of Pomerol after reading half a chapter. President Wilson although not greatly admired in America today, emerges as one of the lights of the 1917-1918 world. Seen by both sides as an honest and fair man. His failure to lead a bitterly divided and angry US into a just peace treaty was one of the tragedies of the century and quite possibly beyond.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Do something !

Nothing more irritating ...

... than starting the week with some tickly grass stuck on the end of your nose.

When all else fails ....

... tell your owner to ' Do something ! ' .

Big brother is of no help whatsoever.

Monday morning, still not six thirty and already The Rickety Old Farmhouse echoes to the sound  of laughter.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

What a day.

Bob has an early morning  bath. Sophie has a muzzle trim. After this battle of the wills Angus feels like going back to bed - for a fortnight.

Hundreds of Cabbage Whites on the lavender. Every time I try to take a photo they flutter away. This happens a dozen times so we can safely say Cabbage Whites are camera shy. A cloud of dancing Cabbage Whites is a truly wondrous sight.

Same can also be said of the little bee flies with their long proboscis that dart between the lavender and the rosemary flowers. They look like small humming birds.

On our morning walk the village church glows orange and welcoming in the dawn sunshine. Last night there was the second village film evening. The movie projected against the graveyard wall. The first film night was a slapstick comedy involving bank robbers hiding out in a convent and pretending to be nuns. Last nights was a tear jerker of the little boy orphaned when his parents fall into the combine harvester variety. Madame Bay, her daughters, her friend Rene and the old lady from the house at the crossroads all weep copiously and unembarrassedly. The men folk watch replays of the football and rugby on the almost wide screen television in the village hall. The Old Farmer serves wine from his stainless steel Burco boiler. The village dogs wander round. Sophie tries to stay aristocratically aloof but succumbs to a game of tug of war with a Jack Russell. 

High summer in deepest, deepest France profonde. The PONs know the best day ever lies ahead.

This is a happy dog :

Saturday, June 23, 2018

World Cup Fever.

The garlic pickers hard at work as we head off after our morning walk to the waterfall .

A strawberry tart, a lemon meringue pie or something chocolaty the sum total of the bakers offerings this morning. We are unimpressed. The PONs get their croissant slivers and, for the second day in a row, a water bowl with ice cubes. Bobs excitement at finding ice cubes floating in his water has not  diminished from yesterday

Popcorn. Sweet Chilli Cheese with Tabasco or Sweet Chilli BBQ with Tabasco. Too early in the morning to consider how awful these might be.

The wonderful pineapples from La Reunion finished. They've become a breakfast staple.This morning we have a choice of pineapples from Benin, Ghana or Costa Rica. We buy two of the Benin variety but are prepared for them not being the same.

World Cup fever has hit France. The village hall has a wide screen television set up ( in fact it's the largish set owned by the old widow at the crossroads and pressed into communal service by her grandson  ) so that the farmers and their offspring can watch Les Bleus proceed to victory. In the supermarket you can buy a German, Brazilian, Italian or Portuguese tee shirt. Hard luck if you're a local supporter. If you want flip flops then you can buy them in both French and English colours although the English team has the Union Jack rather than the Flag of St.George on them. You need to be a Scot to appreciate the difference.

If you only read one thing this week or month - read this. Stick with it through the opening paragraphs. On his way to school he helped his mother clean the lavatories in the hotel she worked in :

Friday, June 22, 2018


The PONs know only a simple world of given love and returned loyalty. Bob sits by me on the concrete storm drain. He has his hair tousled, is told this is 'his country' and listens to a few words of Chaucer.

'Welcome the wanderer
Make home for those yn neede
Acknowledge sharid fragilitye
These are the bravest deedes'

On our way to the bakers we draw up behind an old farmer who is chatting away animatedly to his companion. At first we think it's his wife. When he stops at the roundabout we get a better view of the droopy eared passenger.

'The Fonts' birthday. We go for lunch to a new restaurant 12 kilometres away. It's in the midst of flax fields and is approached along a single track road that fords two streams and bisects a horse farm. We're the only guests. A Parisian has sold his company and invested a small fortune rebuilding a small hameau as luxury rentals. The food sophisticatedly delicious. A first for me - Orgeat sorbet. What a taste ! We can't decide what Orgeat is in English. We settle on Barley water. Barley water sorbet flavoured with almond and orange blossom - who'd expect to find it in deepest, deepest France profonde ? Seems it's a Lebanese recipe although we've never seen it in the mid-east :

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Kept inside.

Bob jumps into the back of the car with his slice of carrot. Nothing like a slice of chilled carrot to get the day off to a good start. His sister is incandescent with rage that he has something to eat and she doesn't. She's already wolfed her treat down in one gulp inside the house. She is not mollified when the concept of 'patience' is explained to her. Faced with an irate diva Bob eats his carrot very slowly.

16 degrees on Monday. Forecast to be in the 30's today. The water boiling out of the ground with the heat. We head off to the bakers with the windows down. PON ears fly in the breeze. Iced water is brought in a bowl by the young lady behind the counter. The concept of iced water is a new - and intriguing one - for the PONs. Ice cubes are fished out and chewed witn intense concentration. Bob has one of his '' Blimey ! Who'd have thought it ? ' moments.

Some dinner time filet from the butcher.

There is nearly a 'moment' when another sheepdog arrives. Thankfully, the PONs are on their way out when the new 'friend' shows up. The owner is quite relaxed about the enthusiastic greeting.

The angelic duo are adjusting to their hot weather routine. Up early for walks, in the garden until the heat builds, then inside until five when it cools down again. Bob doesn't understand why he should be kept inside at all.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Travel plans ?

Summer has arrived. Barely six and it's already warm. The municipal workers start cutting the grass on the village green. Dog owner, dogs and workmen all take the time to greet each other. '' You're up early today M'Ongoose ".  ' I was about to say the same to you '.

On our return we see the Old Italian Farmer sitting in his wheelchair in the churchyard. The nurse has taken the opportunity offered by the sunshine to get him out of the house. After a month of being cooped up indoors he and the house need a good long airing. The old fellow has had his hair brushed and a blanket wrapped around his shoulders. He's been placed facing his wife's grave and is chatting away in his high pitched voice as if she's on the other side of the breakfast table. Perhaps there comes a natural stage in life when travel plans need to be discussed ? The Old Italian Farmer sees Sophie and his eyes light up. She charges over to him hopeful he might have a biscuit. Sophie has her ears tickled and is spoken to in a soft voice.  He informs me that he has been having problems with a discharge from his nose. He goes into great detail. Angus is thankful he catches barely one word in two. The old gents cheeks are unnaturally flushed. Perhaps his blood pressure is high ? 

In the garden a blue flower is coming into bloom.

It looks a like a deployed airbag which is quite amazing.

An uninspiring choice at the bakers. Croissant crumbs are received with enthusiastic canine thanks. Bobs tail wags all the time. Sophie's doesn't but my goodness when it does , it does. This morning it does.

This is awesome :