Friday, August 31, 2018

'' I loves the lovelies "

Noses wet. Eyes bright. The angelic duo are up and ready for the off. This morning their master has his shirt sleeves rolled down. It's not cold but it's not exactly warm either. The first gentle hint that the year is steadily ploughing its course towards autumn.

The village is quiet.The Old Farmer has polished the veritable Ford Transit motor home and is taking the Belgian lady to the coast near Biarritz. 'Near' is a subjective term. It transpires that near Biarritz actually means a camping site inland and close to the airport. The Belgian lady has bought our neighbour a black leather waist coat.  This gives him something of a retired Hells Angel look. The trappers hat with ear flaps may not be the perfect accompaniment.

There was a time not so long ago when the avocados in the greengrocers came from the US. Now they're mostly from Latin America. The Brazilian ones huge round things - more like green grapefruits . Today Kenyan avocados make an appearance. The first time a non-Francophone African product has been seen.

Fresh dates also appear .

Big disappointment at the bakers. Either we're early or they're late in getting ready but the cake offering is decidedly sub-par. Croissant slivers, ear tickles and a bowl of water go a long way to making up for the PONs disappointment. Bob gives the young lady who brings him the croissant slivers his '' I loves you and I loves the lovelies " look.  Sophie is too busy licking the floor to take the time to thank anyone.

A trip to the site of the first nuclear explosion.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Guess what ?

Thursday morning at 6:35 am. The universe is once again in balance. Bob has appeared at the front door with the indestructible day-glo yellow toy with multiple squeakers. It's looking a little the worse for wear but nothing that a little TLC won't cure. From the soil covering I'm guessing it was in the rose bed.  Sophie has yet to notice.

Some karma restoring mornings are truly memorable. It can't be long before Sophie gives full voice to her '' The lost has been found " delight. How she will liberate it from her brothers clutches is yet to be determined.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Well done.

Bob greets me in the kitchen. ' Rough night ? ' I ask.

Despite an almighty pre-dawn thunderstorm his sister arrives looking remarkably composed.

That time of year when parents feel guilty that their little ones will soon be back at school.  At first light the gardener comes to repair the wisteria that suffered in the last big storm. His wife and three little ones wait in the truck while he trims and ties up the wayward plant. He's off for three days to Disney World in Paris. They're all going in the truck.

The popular ecology minister surprised everyone by resigning, live, on the morning radio. He had been to a meeting in the Elysee and was shocked to find that in order to win the country vote the government was willing to expand the list of birds that can be shot by hunters to 64 as opposed to the 14 threshold which most other countries use. The lobbyist pushing for the expansion was in the meeting. The new list includes the chaffinch and the greylag goose. On behalf of our local chaffinches '' Well done M.Hulot ". Let's hope someone listens.

The sunflowers in the field next door covered in bees. The flowers are just starting to pass their best. How can it possibly be August 29th ?  Whatever happened to May, June and July ?

Sophie has new 'bar bell' toy that she refuses to let her brother near. It has a squeaker but one that is only mildly annoying.

Our morning is made memorable by a cat that sits on the wine cellar window and purrs. The PONs don't know where the cat is but they do know it's near. They maintain a spirited conversation with the cat to let it know that it had better not come any closer. The cat is quite unmoved.

The best advert for New Zealand - ever :

The Scots are notable by their absence or does the US census consider them to be 'English' ? :

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

The fog is starting to lift.

The two tykes have returned from visiting their grandparents in St Etienne.  They spend their morning doing wheelies on the gravel outside the village hall. In the afternoon they grapple with the intricacies of the 'C' scale on their trombones.

A long and jolly chat with an old friend at Stanford. He observes that ' Some people used to ask what's the point of studying history ? Now the fog is starting to lift '. As good a comment on our times as I've heard. He makes a slightly less upbeat point when he observes that ' after four years of expansionary budgets the 2020 election is one that no one will wish to win '.

We've always had happy dogs but there's something about these two that's different. It's as though they've inherited a kind of mischief to the power ten. The two of them hare down the track to the little lake.  They holler with delight. PONs are not quiet dogs. The Celt in me can't help but think that humans could never be as immersed in the wonder of the  moment as these two are.

An appellation I've never seen before on a wine label  Pays de Mediterranee.  That leaves a fairly wide geographic area for the grapes to come from.

The greengrocers looking particularly exotic this morning. It seems Thai cuisine is becoming a big thing here in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Trailers as a % of the housing stock. Montana and Wyoming seem high considering the climate. Why ?  :

Monday, August 27, 2018


Monday morning. Still no sign of Sophie's day-glo yellow friend.

Bob is kept on his lead for our morning walk. There are foxes in the sunflower fields.

Filet of horse at the butcher. Thankfully, not as common a sight as it used to be. The French are oblivious to Anglo-Saxon disapproval of eating horse.

The local council has put up an enormous 20 foot high flower display by the war memorial. It's white and red with just a smattering of blue. You have to search for the blue. 

A stop at the greengrocers before heading off for our morning coffee and croissant slivers. This morning Sophie is being decidedly vocal - no barks  - just those strange high pitched modulations that are indicators of extreme happiness.  We take a table on the far corner of the bakers terrace just in case anyone mistakenly wonders if she's in pain. Sophie's songs are delivered at full volume.

Just another Monday French  morning with two happy sheepdogs. A record of those little things too unimportant for a diary .

And a reminder of old fashioned graciousness :

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dogs in politics.

Bob and Angus sit at the side of the lake and discuss Australian politics. Angus thinks five prime ministers in as many years is going some. Bob listens, leans against me and is soon asleep. Sophie trots up proudly holding a dead shrew in her mouth and drops it on the ground so that I can see how clever she's been. The wee animal looks as though it's just fallen asleep. Not a mark to be seen. She then digs a hole under a willow tree and hides it .

Off to the market town. We think about sitting in the shade but as the sun is only just up and it's still cool we opt to sit outside. The PONs slump under the table, share some of their masters croissant and lightly snooze.

Not a good idea.  Shaggy dogs attract children ...

.... and other dogs. Thankfully, the long haired dachs wanders past before Sophie has a chance to challenge him.

Onto the butchers for a rack of lamb

... and then to the little bakers stall in the covered market for bread and croissants.

The first time I've seen a political campaign using dogs. A canine march on parliament :

This is a new type of rucksack that claims to literally take the weight off your back. Hs anyone ever see one ?

Saturday, August 25, 2018

What luxury !

Sophie stays at home to supervise 'The Font' preparing lunchtime langoustine. Bob flies into the back of the car. He has the whole space to himself. What luxury !

We're off on a mano a mano trip to the bakers.

The family fellow is given a carrot stick. He thinks this gives him a Churchillian air.  I suggest that the yogurt under his chin detracts from the image he'd like to project.

On our way back we stop just long enough for a quick dash down to the waterfall through the sunflower fields ..... and quickly back. Men in dark suits in Beijing call to wonder if it's unusual for a Secretary of State to be instructed on their travel plans by Tweet.  Angus has to say that a new normal has supplanted the old.

Can't seem to get behind the paywall on this although it's probably the best cover The New Yorker's done in years. The MAGA sticker and the shotgun on the Ford contrast brilliantly with the family putting on life jackets ( the little fellow getting a prudent double knot ) to go canoeing. I've never framed a New Yorker cover before but this one says so much about the world :

Friday, August 24, 2018

Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.

The Old Farmer is up and about early washing the little canary yellow car that belonged to his wife.The motion detectors on his balcony have been connected to the forest of Christmas lights that trail along his gutters and which blaze merrily away . " I'm washing the car " he shouts out as Angus and the PONs head off on our first walk of the day. I think of saying something witty but opt for a non-committal wave. Our neighbour is wearing his voluminous 1950's military issue khaki shorts, wellington boots and his green and black plaid fur trappers hat.

On our return Sophie discovers ' Fat Lamb ' in the rosemary border. It went missing in April. She spends much of her morning destuffing her find. ' Fat Lamb' is not indestructible. Thankfully, ' Fat Lambs' high pitched squeaker is one of the first things to be disemboweled and discarded.

When Sophie wanders off to chase a collar dove Bob moves in on the abandoned toy. He ends up in possession not only of 'Fat Lamb' but also of a heavily weathered  ''Lamb on a Rope'' that has been buried in the laurel hedge. Bob does a triumphant tour of the garden, head high, with both these trophies clasped firmly between his jaws. This is canine multi-tasking par excellence or in this case PONcellence.

His sister in incandescent with rage / jealousy / frustration and voices her displeasure.

Calm is restored with a trip to the bakers. Nothing like croissant slivers to help a family diva forget her brothers oafishness.

There is no sign of the day-glo yellow toy that Bob liberated earlier in the week.

This blog author continues to be amazed at the PONs ' Why walk when you can run ? ' zest for life.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Sunflowers at dawn.

We leave the front door at 6:18 and head off down the lane. It's not quite light but it's no longer completely dark.

The rising sun is just brushing the sunflower fields. For a moment they shimmer red, then brown then burst into a riot of yellows and orange. Only dog owners and early rising farmers are aware of this morning miracle.

By the time we've said hello to the goats, welcomed the new calves that have arrived overnight and waved at the young garagiste in his little black Citroen with the raspy exhaust note, the ridge is bathed in light.

The PONs are loaded into the back of the car. Monsieur Bay and his retired gendarme colleagues are holding a ceremony in the little market town  to commemorate the regions liberation in WW2. The village wasn't actually liberated - great events just flowed around it - but it's the idea that counts. A woman in white trousers (who is the spitting image of the British Prime Minister but shorter) is ordering people around. From time to time she raises a black walking stick and waves it menacingly. It's unclear as to whether she's about to whack someone with it or is merely using it to point out the direction they're supposed to march towards. 

At the bakers a strange green mound lurks towards the back of the display cabinet. It's the sort of 'particular' colour an upper east side interior designer might use.

Fruit, other than strawberries, makes an appearance.

A song about walls. Best listened to with the volume up and the car windows down. The PONs love it. Thursday morning sounds :

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Noisy extremities.

Sophie has a new toy which claims to be both indestructible and 'glow in the dark'. It also has a variety of annoying squeakers woven into its extremities. 

Sophie was greatly taken with the new companion and spent last night happily chewing it. 

This morning Bob liberated his sisters prize possession and disappeared into the garden with the day glo yellow companion clenched between his jaws. It has not been seen since. Big brother has hidden it away for a special occasion. This is a strategy that works if you remember where  you put it. It's less of a good idea if you forget. Sophie is making her displeasure evident. Bob is feigning deafness.

The little book store has a small ( make that very small ) collection of CD's.  They have one by Hans Rott - a composer I've never heard of. Madame Bay has taken to hanging old CD's from the branches of the pear trees in her orchard. A kind of flower power type thing.  I haven't asked her why she's doing this in case it's something to do with warding off the aliens who ( she believes ) land there at night.

'The Font'' has dealt with the problems at the 'wee house' and is on the 5:55 am flight home. Soon the PONs will be loaded into the back of the car for a trip to the airport. Bob will wave his large shaggy paws under the arrival terminals motion sensors and be amazed at what happens. Sophie will sit and stare at the airport cafeteria.

30 North Street

Small town Canada :

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

A better class of passenger.

'The Font' heads back to Scotland. At the airport the Brussels Airlines gate agent says '' You've been moved from the emergency exit row to the back. A better class of passenger wanted your seat ". 'The Font' thanks the young man for his candour. He looks back 'blankly'.

Off with the PONs into the little market town.  A coffee at the bar that was written up in the New York Times as the '' Best cafe in France ''. The author clearly never tried the coffee.

An Italian film coming to the local cinema. We'll Google the movie to see if it's worth seeing. There something slightly depressing about the poster that hints at cinema noir.

Bright and clear when we arrive ....

..... but strangely cloudy when we go.

On our way back to the car we detour via the band stand. Bob christens it. Sophie races round it chasing something invisible that only she can see. She does three complete circuits.

This is a definite 'win' :