Wednesday, October 16, 2019

The perfect companion.


A near perfect autumnal day. The few spits of rain as we head off on the morning walk soon disappear and  black skies turn to scudding clouds and weak sunshine.... and a rainbow.

In the newsagents window a scale model of a DeLorean from 'Back to the Future'. Put together, we guess, from parts in one of those self assembly monthly magazines . The type that woo the unexpected in at $1 for the first three copies before suddenly rising to $20 once they have their target audience hooked. A sales pitch much adored by eleven year old males. Angus wonders how long (and at what cost) it took for the finished product to see daylight.


Later today 'The Font' and Angus are heading off to Greece. The PONs may ...


..... or may not have guessed that a trip to the K-E-N-N-E-L-S is on the cards.

Bob does his Mr.Glum act.

Sophie sits behind a hall chair and does her ' I'm a perfect companion. Take me, Leave him ' routine.



This what a lot of us feel : https://twitter.com/LBiniSmaghi/status/1183348528858456064

And a reminder when using your drivers license on US domestic flights : https://www.seatguru.com/traveltips/October-2020-Real-ID


As a foreigner I'd have to say there's only one candidate who's thought through the issues that are shaping the 21st century. Of course there's not a hope of him getting any further : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOesZJ4mHZs


Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Clattering watering cans.


Last night the first of the real winter storms. Thunder , lightning and hail. This morning the strong winds are still gusting down from the mountain passes, watering cans clattering across the courtyard. That double layer PON coat comes into its own in weather like this.


Here the beer tent that had been put up for the village fete has been disassembled. The surplus kegs of beer moved into the safety of the communal kitchen in readiness for the next rugby game. The wide screen television remains in place. Madame Bay arrives with some pigs ears for Bob and Sophie. She informs us that the aftermath of the argument  between the German billionaires wife and the man with anger management issues continues to reverberate.The telling and retelling of the story has seen the language used go from 'direct' to 'barrack room'. We find it difficult to believe that the German lady would ever have used the words attributed to her.


Some adult current affairs listening : https://soundcloud.com/theiiss/episode-22-a-new-era-of-transatlantic-affairs-and-the-evolution-of-political-culture


And, in contrast, some Tuesday morning dancing : 
https://twitter.com/communistbops/status/1183585068599709697


Sunday, October 13, 2019

It gets better and better


Our day starts, as every day starts, with the PONs wanting to know what exciting things are planned. Whatever it is they indeed to be all in.


The weekends festivities went well.

The 2 day petanque tournament was a great success. The new car park was left entirely empty. The locals adhered to their tried and tested parking routine along the grass verges .


This year the 40 somethings are taking charge of the village. The mayor, in his 80's, slowly handing over to his deputy nearly half his age. The Chair of the organizing committee doing the same thing. As the old guard bows out some things change, somethings stay the same, some new things are tried out. On Sunday morning there was a mass and the statue of the village saint was paraded round the walls. The first time this has been done in ten years. A priest is brought in from the archbishopric for the ceremony. The church full. Wars, revolutions, occupations, good times ... and bad, but the village still revolves around its traditions. The medieval bell ( hidden from the Germans who wanted to melt it down ) peels away. I remember the Very Old Farmer telling me that it rang out on Liberation Day in 1944. As a young thing he made love in the fields. 


One of the village dogs settled down under one of the recently installed parking signs for a nap. Sophie yelps at him in a ' Don't you know this is my village ?'  way. The sheepdog ignores her.  


Scotland lose in the rugby to a better side. The German billionaires wife and the man with anger management issues have not repaired their relationship.

So starts a new week in a small village in deepest, deepest France profonde.


The blue bowl

The cafe in the little market town lively  at seven in the morning. The PONs and Angus find a place inside. Angus gets a coffee and a croissant. The PONs settle under the table and get a bowl of water from the waiter. They each get rewarded with a curly croissant end. Some morning routines never change.


It is the pottery fair in the neighbouring village. 'The Font' says we have to go to show support. We agree to limit our purchases to just two items.


The first choice is a small orange box. This will soon make its way into the storage room alongside all the other things bought at pottery fairs over the last decade.


The second choice a blue bowl. This will also make its way into the storage room but has, for the moment, found a place on a coffee table.


A rather wary and somewhat aristocratic dog watches Sophie and Bob pass by.



Saturday, October 12, 2019

Move the table


The day of the village fete. Bob and Sophie sit by the front door and have a lengthy chat.

Things we discover on our first walk of the day :

The Parisian couple have had a falling out with the Polish builders who were supposed to have finished in the house by Easter. The fact that they are still at work would seem to indicate that the Parisian couple have a good case for complaint.  The Polish builders usually greet the PONs with a cheerful Dzien dobry. This morning there is glum silence - they are being made to work over the weekend.

The organizers of the village fete have put up a registration table for the petanque competition by the chateau gates. This has blocked the entrance to the drive. The German billionaires wife has asked the man with anger management issues to move the table to its usual spot outside the church. The man with anger management issues does indeed have anger management issues. These appear whenever there is stress in the air. He's told her that he doesn't take orders from Germans. The table, for the moment, remains outside the gates.

The mayors wife is unhappy. One of the young mothers has taken her dried vegetable tableaux and stored them in a cupboard overnight. The mayors wife says they've been squashed. The young mother says they haven't. ''I put them away for safe keeping. Anyway, how can you squash dried pumpkins ? " There is an 'atmosphere' . 



Later today Wally the DJ will arrive to test his sound system. An afternoon punctuated by snippets of sounds of the 70's, awaits. The PONs will be in seventh heaven. People, noise and the smell of Madame Bays duck sausages wafting across the village green. What could be better ?

We heard this at a concert last night. Quite remarkable : https://youtu.be/DMXKc9m3rVo?t=137


Friday, October 11, 2019

Shooed out.


Sunrise. The ladies of the Beautiful Bye ways Committee are at the Salle des Fetes at first light. Hectic preparations are underway for this weekends village fete. Coloured paper streamers are being strung from the rafters. Trestle tables are being brought out from the storeroom. A couple of 30 something farmers are standing by the bar chatting and watching rugby replays on the wide screen television. Their wives ignore them and they their wives. Toddlers wander backwards and forwards. Early day mayhem. The PONs head to the communal kitchen ( and the smell of Madame Bays duck sausages ) and are shooed out by the matron of the Old Folks home.


At the supermarket the Sushi counter has a Halloween special. That's quite a cultural mix.


Last years Christmas trees are still on sale. Will they be replaced before this years festivities or do they have a multi-year shelf life ? French retailing is a world of its own.


This is unusual . Some of the comments were spot on : https://twitter.com/HelenYoung16/status/1182275038134915072


City dogs : https://www.city-journal.org/pet-ownership-over-children-cities


Thursday, October 10, 2019

Too mush.


Six thirty. It may be dark outside but this doesn't hold back the angelic duo. They know beyond any doubt that today is going to be the best day ever ..... by far.

We turn out of the gate and head along the lane. Sophie soon finds something that once had a tail in the drainage ditch. It's in a fairly advanced stage of decomposition. She trots along with it between her jaws. Her brother can only marvel at her good fortune.


The local burger restaurant has come up with its new monthly special. Burger, parma ham , mushrooms, apple, red onion and  cream cheese. This comes in two sizes. Classic and big.


We return home to watch the rugby from Japan. Sophie digs up a hidden piece of Madame Bays air dried tripe and settles down in the courtyard while her brother and Angus are otherwise engaged. Fermented vole and now air dried tripe ! Has ever a girls day begun so well ?



This made Angus v happy : https://www.rugbyworldcup.com/video/507317

And I'm convinced these kids sing with a Scots accent : https://www.bbc.com/sport/av/rugby-union/49932935

Canine communication : 
https://www.wired.com/story/the-tech-helping-dogs-learn-to-communicate-with-humans


Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Petanque, rugby and a glitter ball.


It's the village fete this weekend. There will be petanque contests during the day and a midnight  Ball and Discotheque on Saturday. Madame Bay is busy making duck sausages for the pre-dance get together dinner. The  music will be supplied by DJ Wally and the strong thighed ladies of his Saturday Night Fever Magic backing group. They do dance routines in time ( almost ) to the music.  Wally, the DJ,  is the depressive local physiotherapist. At weekends he battles his demons and dons orange velvet flares, a purple ruffed shirt and gets his glitter ball swinging. The locals think this is the height of 'hip'.

The neighbouring farmers have discovered that the French rugby team will be in the World Championship finals . There's a chance they might win.  A wide screen television and bar are being set up in the Salle Communale as we pass by on our morning walk. The PONs investigate but are 'encouraged' along.



The electricity men are also there. A number of non-authorized feeds from the village junction box ( think of The Old Farmers year round Christmas lights )  are being removed.


Beautiful mid-20's weather. Warm and with a hint of a breeze. Sadly, the little stream and waterfall have disappeared in the long running drought and we're still waiting for rain to replenish them.


After a walk, a shared croissant and another tour of the village Bob repairs to his bed by the front door. Bob can look  mighty comfortable when he wants to. Sophie , in her great and unmatched wisdom, heads off to her spot in the kitchen to wait for 'The Font' to have some form of mental/muscular food dropping episode.


Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Intractable problems.


Sophie glares at the yogurt pot. It refuses to refill itself.

She carries it into the library and glares at it some more. Still no luck.

She then glares at her master. He doesn't get the hint. The yogurt pot remains empty. Where is Mike Pompeo when you need him ?

Maybe the intractable problem with the yogurt pot will sort itself out tomorrow ? In the meantime there are squirrels to chase.



Just when you think you've seen it all along comes a wool avocado ripener : https://www.thegrommet.com/products/the-avocado-sock-wool-avocado-ripener?

Monday, October 7, 2019

That time already ?


A stiff wind rattles the shutters. Sophie, who is warm and cosy, does her best to ignore the fact that her master and her brother are up and about.Seeing me put my shoes on she's finally raring to go. The family princess races out of the front door with a whoop of excitement followed by a holler of delight.  At the storm drain we stop. Bob sits on my right and leans into me. Sophie sits on the left, nose high sniffing the air. We discuss the British Prime Ministers plans for Brexit . Sophie is of the opinion that a house built on sand is lucky to survive a storm.  Before we can explore this delphic view she's up and off chasing something small and furry. 

On our return she moves from her spot in the middle of the hall to a spot by the front door to continue her nap.


Bob is the first up into the back of the car. Sophie lets it be known that Bob is in her place . Bob dismounts. Sophie clambers up. After his sister settles he rejoins her. You could never expect a fast get away if you have PONs in a house.


Today, the artisinal bakery heavy on chocolate and pear combinations. Not a pairing that appeals.


A writer who is being rediscovered :
https://bittersoutherner.com/the-sum-of-life-zora-neale-hurston

Elderberries back in favour ? : https://thebulletin.org/2019/10/a-food-to-farm-as-climate-changes-elderberries/






Sunday, October 6, 2019

Good taste or bad ?


Angus presses the wrong button on the keyboard and wipes out the blog. After much effort it is recovered - all bar the last months posts. In trauma terms this ranks up there with the time Angus wiped out his gmail accounts.

Bob watches and listens .

Outside he gives his sister her morning kiss. She accepts this in pained silence.


We head to the little market town for our morning croissant. Despite it being autumn the newsagent still has his post card selection out on display. Angus wonders how many tourists buy a card during the year. Ten ? Twenty ? The selection never seems to change and some have started to yellow. This goes well with their curling edges. There are rugby replays on the television in the bar. Angus and the PONs linger to watch replays of England v Argentina. The barman brings over a second croissant. The PONs know that this is definitely the very best day ever.


Jacques Chirac the old President has passed away. Citroen the car company has a full page ad in the weekend supplements wishing him a good trip. We are unsure whether this commercialization  is charmingly good taste or abhorrently bad.


Paris Match informs us that Meghan is not conforming to the rigid rules of the British royal family. It seems that some British newspapers have taken an arch dislike to her. She seems like a breath of fresh air. The French are fixated on all things to do with the royal family in a way few Brits are.




This piano playing is really rather wonderful : 
https://youtu.be/qygbuCneTxk?t=1310

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

A welcome home gesture.


The last of the sunflowers cut and put out on the breakfast table. Despite the early hour bees, en masse, arrive and start collecting pollen. The deputy mayor walks slowly past the gate. We haven't seen him for two weeks  and discover from a brief chat that he's returned from hospital after surgery for lung cancer. He's been told to walk for an hour - twice a day. I wish him Bon courage. At the war memorial each of the teenage boys waiting for the school bus shake his hand in a 'welcome home' gesture. Somethings about France you have to love.

A colourful display of cakes at the bakers this morning. The eldest child has started play school. The other two seem to have increased their level of hyperactivity to compensate.


The Polish builders are back. They were supposed to have finished the work in the house by the village pond in time for Easter. They did indeed finish but have now returned to put in the bannister on the staircase and tile the hallway. 'Good day Mister Angus ' says Gregor the chain smoking team leader before adding  'We drive from Nowy Sancz overnight '.  Angus has no idea where Nowy Sancz might be but makes a low pitched whistle of amazement. This seems to please Gregor who adds ' Yes! It is very far but our van flies '.


The weather now much cooler. Ten degrees this morning. A thin layer of low cloud hangs over the valley.

Sophie is taken to the vet for some harvest mite shampoo.


For her trip to the vet Sophie has adopted her abandoned and abused dog look. Bob simply looks squiffy. Why is it dogs can never look groomed when you need them to ?



Dog dementia - https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2019-09-08/dog-dementia-more-common-as-pets-live-longer/11481852

British pragmatism. The law has always been an issue for politicians. Some choose to abide by it - others ....
https://twitter.com/i/status/1170715746240012289

Awesome - in the literal sense of the word :

Monday, September 9, 2019

Stoic calmness.


A trip to the vets is on the cards for Sophie. She gets Frontline tablets every month. These are supposed to deal with worms and fleas but she's managed to get some sort of mite infestation. This is the downside to being an accomplished badger poo hunter and venturing into all sorts of inaccessible places.

At the storm drain I sit and explain the cause of Sophie's scratching to Bob. He absorbs the news with stoic calmness. The school bus driver and the farmers in their little white vans all wave at this strange foreigner who is sitting at the roadside chatting merrily away to his two shaggy companions. Today we also deal with the timing of the next summit between America and North Korea. Secretary Pompeo 'hopes' it will take place in weeks. Bob thinks 'hope' is a good basis on which to run foreign policy. Angus is less sure.


The cafe is closed. The owners has put up a sign saying she gets irritable and that to deal with it she's taking a few days off. She's always taking a few days off .


We go into the bank to pick up new cash line cards but make a sudden and determined retreat. Sophie has noticed there's already a canine customer there. Neither she nor the canine customer take their chance meeting in silence.


We detour to the busy cafe on the square. A croissant and a bowl of water restore the PONs equanimity.



Music for the best Monday morning ... ever : https://youtu.be/C3nxOF8wnMk?t=759