Everyday life in a rickety old Scottish farmhouse with a very happy Polish Lowland Sheepdog. A record of those unimportant little things that are too important to be forgotten.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Happy to desist.
The cleaning lady comes early. Sophie lingers in the hall hoping that there may be biscuits.
Bob, spotting the hoover ( otherwise known as the spawn of the devil ) takes himself outside. No way is he going to stay inside when that howling banshee is in residence.
25 degrees yesterday. That's nearly eighty for the unmetricated. This would be a perfect summers day were it not February. It's so hot Sophie gets given a bath. Bob is also due a bath but observing what's happening to his sister he dons his cloak of invisibility and disappears upstairs.
After a morning of chasing village C-A-T-S the angelic duo take up their position by the front door. Sophie falls asleep first. Bob does his best to keep his eyes open but follows his sister in dreamland shortly after.
Angus was going to cut the grass but 'The Font' has been told by The Old Farmer not to do so. Seems that all the tiny flowers that come into bloom at this time of the year are being cut back by eager grass trimmers. The bees need them to survive. Angus is only too happy to desist.
They discover something new every day : https://www.sciencealert.com/neuroscientists-say-they-ve-found-an-entirely-new-form-of-neural-communication
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
The Old Farmer is up early. He wanders over for a chat. The PONs sit on his feet. Bob faces right, Sophie left. He informs us that the last time it was this hot was in February 1943. 'Got so dry and hot that summer that there was no water. My mother had to slaughter the cattle and sell the meat to the Germans '. He uses the politically incorrect word 'Boche'. A little reminder that history and memory have long legs.
A convoy of twenty riot police vans on the motorway this morning. Returning from a night in Toulouse. The Yellow Jackets are off the front pages but there still seems to be a deep vein of rage bubbling away.
The workmen are out replacing bulbs in the street lights. Some bright spark has laid out the plastic cones so that both lanes of traffic are closed off. The two cars ahead of us don't know what to do and come to a complete halt. Our escape route round the obstacle proves to be a detour through the accountants parking lot and out via the forecourt of the tyre centre.
Bob and 'The Font' head off to the market. Sophie and Angus wander down the lane. There is nothing Bob enjoys more than heading off with 'The Font'. For a while he becomes 'Guardian in chief'. Surprisingly Sophie is happy to be with Angus who gives her ear scrunches. Her nose continues to display a remarkable lustre.
Just another French village morning when nothing happens.
They played this hauntingly beautiful song on the radio this morning.Something exotic about the harmonies. I thought it might be Georgian but it's Corsican : https://youtu.be/iv15R81gKhA?t=93
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
Ebbed a bit ?
You'd think that at the age of six the PONs enthusiasm for starting the day might have ebbed a little. Not a bit of it. A day of high adventure awaits. Bob leaps into the back of the car. His sister objects. Bob gets down. Sophie gets up. Some things never change. All of this is done at a super fast pace.
At the bakers a hard choice. A big cake or two small ones ? We opt for the big chocolaty one. There are choux pastry slivers for my shaggy companions.
The 'Angus' beef looks very fatty. Instead we opt for some fillet for dinner. The PONs are given a taste of hamburger. This is gratefully received. Bobs tail hasn't stopped wagging since he woke up. Can this be normal for a dog ?
As the sun sets after a long day the PONs take up their spots at the front door. Bob lies awake on the stoop mulling a second Brexit referendum. Sophie settles down in front of him and is soon asleep. Her sleep is interrupted by a high pitched rasping noise. The village tikes have been given a drone to keep them busy. This alternates between hovering and swooping as it makes its way from east to west across the village.
Dusk at The Rickety Old Farmhouse. Everything is quiet bar the sound of snoring coming from the family diva and the hornet like buzzing of the drone. The tikes have two weeks of school holiday in which to hone their drone flying proficiency. All is well with the world.
Monday, February 25, 2019
Pros and cons.
Bob is in one of his absent minded moods. He finds a scent on a tree, gets immersed in the excitement, realizes we've moved on and then rushes to catch up. So it goes on all the way down the lane. This morning his sister gets to the storm drain well ahead of him. She sits beside me to discuss the pros and cons of North Korean denuclearization. After thirty seconds she wanders off in search of some enticing deer poo. For the family diva World affairs take second place to instant gratification. It's the school holidays so no school bus today, or for the next two weeks. We wave at the young garagiste, two farmers in white vans and the green Toyota Land Cruiser with the Westie that stands snarling and doing cart wheels at the back window.
On our way home a lengthy - and in Sophie's case noisy - drink from the small pond by the horse field.
After breakfast Sophie glares at her ( and Bobs ) yogurt pots. They won't refill themselves. She yelps in irritation.
Gariguettes in the greengrocers. Amazing to see them on sale in February. A full month earlier than last year.
So starts a Monday morning with PONs. Looking like it's shaping up to be the best day ever.
A fun cookery blog : https://cookerymonster.com/
Sunday, February 24, 2019
Boom box holidays.
The heavily pregnant bakers wife is in non-communicative mood today. I'd reckon she's at the six month stage. Is it my imagination or do the cakes have a slight 'I can't be bothered with this ' appearance ?
While Angus and the PONs share a croissant they watch the French President give a speech about agriculture. He seems to say that 25% of farmland has been lost to urban development in the last 50 years. That surely can't be right.
Another day of bright sunshine. The bees and the butterflies out in force. They can't seem to come to terms with their good fortune of having summer temperatures this early in the year. Angus, being a Presbyterian, tells the PONs to enjoy the good weather while it lasts. He knows that even now a frigid blast of cold arctic air is marshalling it strength to rush down upon us and freeze unlagged pipes.
The two tikes are on school holiday. They have been given a boom box. They do wheelies over the speed bumps for much of the afternoon. The boom box hangs from the elder tike's handlebars and blares French hip hop as they cavort. The sight of two pre-teens doing wheelies coupled to the raucous noise from the boom box has the PONs barking mad. At one stage we even get the PON howl as they stand on their hind legs at the gate.
This could be Sophie. The markings are almost identical - as is the frenetic energy level : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C25iieZ8L90
We don't watch a lot of television but 'The Font' has taken to following Ride upon the Storm. A Danish story. Dark and brooding and very Nordic . Its plot, to non-Scandinavians, seems completely impenetrable. The music is good. Here are some uber kool Danes listening to a young lady sing the theme tune while they eat what appears to be a jelly bean tart : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKkY_WktsiU
Scotland lost 27-10 : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp290ZdiRXw
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Nostrils don't work all the time.
February and it's hot. Bob takes up his warm weather position at the front door. Nose out, rump in. From his spot on the stoop he can monitor anyone and anything coming along the lane. Today he mostly watches fat happy bees and dainty yellow butterflies.
The supermarket has entered into the summer spirit by putting up an enormous plastic flower display. It must be fifteen metres square. Why there should be such an emphasis on plastic flowers when the real kind are bursting out of the ground is something of a mystery.
Garden gnomes, a feature much loved by French villagers ( Madame Bay has a small army of the things ) much in evidence between the sways of artificial colour.
The surplus chocolate Santa's still lingering by the fruit and nut section. They're now 50% off and not selling. Some are looking decidedly the worse for wear. Let's hope the chocolate Easter rabbits have a better season.
This mornings croissant a delight. Not as good as 'The Fonts' Parisian breakfast offering from https://dupainetdesidees.com/historique.html but not far off it. Sophie emits the faintest squeak of delight when she's given her slightly crusty end portion.
This is why a glass of wine should always be 'sniffed' before drinking. You never know which nostril is operating and in charge : https://twitter.com/fermatslibrary/status/1097486254474702848
'The Font' thinks these two are very brave : https://saintsfunder.st-andrews.ac.uk/p/tandemafrica/
Finally, if you're in Paris and hungry you can't beat this lunch menu for E22 : http://www.amarante.paris/
Friday, February 22, 2019
What must that taste like ?
A moments hesitation and then Sophie hurtles out of the front door into the garden. She emits a high pitched shriek of delight to let the world know how happy she is. The PONs day has started.
On our morning walk the builder stops his car to provide a detailed and graphic description of his hernia operation. He speaks very quickly so much of what he says passes me by. What is understandable is quite intimate enough. The French have a less buttoned up approach to personal medical matters than Anglo-Saxons.
Loic shows up at the gate to say that he won't be here tomorrow morning but would like to come along tomorrow afternoon. I tell him that's fine. '' I'm going to a funeral " he says with a broad smile on his face. '' It's one of the nurses at the home . She won't be coming back to work ". Loic may, or may not, have understood what a funeral means. He heads off, swaying slightly, on his bike. One of Gods happy ones.
We go to the greengrocers in the little market town. The cafe under the arcades, which was part of our morning ritual for seven years, is quiet. The Vietnamese couple who bought it made it absolutely clear that the PONs weren't welcome so we no longer go. This ban applied not just to the PONs but to all dogs. A blanket dog ban. Not a recipe for success in the French countryside.
In the corner shop wine in plastic bags. Closer inspection shows it to be rose wine and grapefruit juice. Angus can't even begin to imagine what that must taste like.
Imagine checking into a hotel for a medical conference and find that they're singing this in the lobby : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y49Omj1onuI
The North Pole is moving to Siberia : https://www.ncei.noaa.gov/news/world-magnetic-model-out-cycle-release
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Not a success
First light. Bob springs into action mode. Sophie takes a little longer to 'get with it'.
'The Fonts' visa was supposed to be ready by four. The courier got held up and it didn't get delivered until seven. Not a problem if you live in Paris but too late for country dwellers to rebook onto one of the last flights back to Toulouse.
Angus made a six egg omelette. This wasn't a success. It came out more like a pancake. Bob and Sophie had half of it. They both thought it was W-O-N-D-E-R-F-U-L. They licked and licked and licked their bowls until they dish washer shone. They then sat and bombarded me with PON ESP to suggest that I make another.
This morning we walk in convoy through the village and greet the goats, the horses and the donkeys. Our daily touch of Enid Blyton. Bob and Angus sit on the storm drain and discuss the CNN report that the Mueller report is nearly ready. Bob thinks it might be, Angus is less sure. Sophie turns on her back and falls innocently asleep in the long grass.
So starts another day with dogs in deepest, deepest France profonde.
Thursday morning music : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-hUC0z2VDE
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Every day just keeps on getting better ...
The moon is spectacular. We watched it rise last night and this morning we're up early to see it drift gently down towards the horizon. All the little hill towns to the west glow chalk white in its light. At this time of the morning the garden and orchard are home to all sorts of things that scratch and scurry. Leaves rustle, branches sigh. An irate owl flies out of a Bay Tree screeching as it goes. The PONs , who are quite candidly unballetic in their movements, leap from mole hill to mole hill. Angus enjoys himself. The PONs have a whale of a time.
Both PONs have a yogurt with their kibbles. Their chins have to be washed.
While Angus talks to men in dark suits the PONs savage Furry Fox.
Exploring by the light of the moon, yogurt with kibbles and the excitement of a game of throw the Furry Fox. Soon it will be croissant time. It's true. The days really do keep on getting better and better.
Some Wednesday morning Bruch : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYJolQ7rBWI
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
It will be wonderful
First light. We wave goodbye to 'The Font' who is heading off to Paris in pursuit of a Chinese visa. As the car heads down the drive Bob and Sophie develop that ' who's making dinner ? ' look.
'The Font' is joining me in a trip to Beijing. I know this is a good idea because 'The Font' has told me repeatedly that ' it will be wonderful'. Angus is less sure. The Park Hyatt with its international restaurant, air conditioned bar and ESPN has been rejected in favour of a hotel with 'more local flavour'. There are vague promises to travel 'light' but these only highlight the elasticity of meaning surrounding the word.
Today, at the cafe, an unexciting croissant that has that processed bread taste and texture. Bob and Sophie think it's wonderful.
A quick run to the supermarket. We're nearly out of rice cakes. Since we stopped giving the PONs anything other than rice cakes and carrots as treats their 'itchy ear' allergies have disappeared.
Could you pass the test ? : https://woodrow.org/news/one-state-pass-us-citizenship-exam/
British expats will get this :-
Monday, February 18, 2019
Our usual morning pandemonium. Bob sits in Sophie's spot in the back of the car. Sophie shrieks. Bob gets out. Sophie gets in. Bob joins her. Sophie harrumphs. Can chaos become routine ?
The water hole by the horse field is the PONs favourite place to drink from. If the water in their bowls at home isn't changed three times a day they complain. No complaints about week older puddle water. A lingering 'essence of horse' clearly is worth waiting for. There is also mud which is a big PON positive.
There was a village council meeting last night. 'The Font' took the minutes. The high point the review of the remedial building works on the Swaying Jesus .
After the repairs the 'Sway' has morphed into a less noteworthy 'Tilt'. For some unexplained reason - humidity being the most likely culprit - the statue has begun to develop orangey/ red stains - the result of some lichen that has started to grown on its flanks. The village odd job man thinks this highly amusing. ' Two miracles for the price of one '. He suggests opening up a beer tent for passing pilgrims. The little lady in the purple hat thinks his comments are in sacrilegious bad taste. She tells him so. He tells her where to go.The odd job man lightens the atmosphere by telling a joke about miracles . ''I took my wife to Lourdes hoping for a miracle. I didn't get one. She came back with me ''. The little lady in the purple hat is now amused. She tuts. After two hours of everyone talking at the same time the mayor calls the proceedings to a halt.
'The Font' chuckles and thinks it best that the minutes of the meeting be heavily redacted.
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