Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Proudly goes.

According to the weather forecast this is likely to be the first day of the year that's going to be hot rather than warm.

It's the 20th birthday of The Old Farmers grand daughter. She lives in Toulouse. He's up at first light to buy her some flowers and then drive down to give them to her before she heads off to college. The much adored Mercedes has been lovingly waxed and polished for this special occasion. He waves at the PONs as he heads off proudly down the lane. The grand daughter has arranged lunch for her grandfather and a dozen or so of her friends. He has been looking forward to it for a week.

Workmen show up to fit the new security system. Brexit means that we can no longer use the insurance company in the UK that we've used for the last 30 years. The new insurer insists we have an updated alarm system installed. The PONs are desperately keen to help the electricians with the wiring. They are encouraged outside for a long walk - much to the relief of the man trying to put up new sensors.

This morning Bob and Angus discuss the differing ways in which Turkey, India and China have responded to tighter oil sanctions on Iran. China will do what it wants and India and Turkey will pretend to obey the rules. Bob thinks coercive diplomatic behaviour often leads to unexpected consequences. For example a treat always gets him into the back of the car whereas a firm tone can bring on clinical deafness. At this point the young garagiste races by, beeps his horn and waves. This causes master and dog to look up and lose the thread of their conversation.

A bizarre list :- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HKuN7rnKtE0

The kayak, the seal and the octopus : https://twitter.com/Huk06/status/1121122238898561024

Monday, April 29, 2019

A change in taste ?

Humans may suffer from that Monday morning feeling but not Polish Lowland Sheepdogs.

Six am and they're keen to get their day started. What wonders await ! Bob lets out a whimper of excitement.

We watch the sun rise.

Then it's time for a start of day coffee and croissant. This being France the PONs get a bowl of water.

European parliamentary elections in a months time. National Front canvassers out on the streets to catch the early to work crowd. The polls show that the Presidents party will get 20 % of the vote and the National Front 22%.

In the little local supermarket the display of Easter eggs seems to have barely been touched. This is a definite change from prior years when they used to fly off the shelves.  Is this lack of interest in chocolate animals down to austerity or a profound change in peoples tastes ? The same disinterest was shown at Christmas. 

The Sultana. America's home grown Titanic disaster . How many people have heard about it ? : http://www.mshistorynow.mdah.ms.gov/articles/319/surviving-the-worst-the-wreck-of-the-sultana

The press. Some people in the audience liked this speech - others sat arms folded :  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXllzwrh_Dc

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Only the gentle are ever really strong

Weather fronts roll in, one after the other, from the Bay of Biscay. Warm and calm one minute, cold and blustery the next. Bob likes to lie with the front door open. His head outside, his rump snugly in. We discuss why having the front door open let's all the heat out of the house. He opts to sit outside. Within a minute he's changed his mind and wants back in. This process is repeated.

The New Yorker has a great cover this week.

The changeable weather has driven the roses into hyper growth. It's not just the roses. The recently planted lavenders look as though they've been in for years. 

At the market white, green and more unusually the darkest purple asparagus stalks I've ever seen. More black than purple.

Onto the cake shops where there's been a disaster in the kitchen. The new trainee has dropped today's production on the floor. Angus is given four damaged lemon meringue tarts for nothing. Bob and Sophie get pastry slivers. We leave quickly. The baker and her side kick are hastily trying to make a fresh batch of cakes in time for the morning mass crowd.

We settle down at a side table in the cafe. The old farmers are in deep discussion. The waitress brings over a cup of coffee, a croissant and a bowl of water.Everything in the PONs universe is as it should be. This is undoubtedly the best day ever - by far.

Apologies to non-Scots ( and some Scots ) who may find this accent difficult to comprehend. Anyone who has ever met a Colour Sergeant will understand that the humour here is very dry : https://youtu.be/bHdzYWkIPuE

One of those little victories that should be recognized: https://twitter.com/FPWellman/status/1121780939263225857

Saturday, April 27, 2019

The impatient glance.

The PONs get loaded into the back of the car. Bob plants his good morning kiss on his sister. She is not impressed. Why does he do it ? Filial devotion ? A reminder to her that he's boss ( if so she still hasn't got the message ) or a check on whether she's had anything wonderful to eat ? Sophie's reaction to this sibling attention is written loud and clear on her face.

A moment of high drama as the black cat that's been asleep on the terrace wakes up and finds that two Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are hurtling towards it. The cat is up and off at the speed of light followed by its two braying pursuers. Despite her metal legs Sophie can just about match her brother in speed. Neither can match the cats.

On our morning walk Sophie pauses to give me a chance to catch up. There is an element of impatience in her over the shoulder glance.

Yesterday the workmen came to cut the grass verges. They arrived in a small but efficient convoy. A white van with yellow roof lights led the way followed by a large green tractor with a cutting blade'. Another tractor followed along behind bailing up the grass. The PONs watched all of this from the far gate. They were spellbound. The workmen whistled which added an additional layer of excitement. Life just keeps on getting more interesting.

The bakers has a window display of children's Easter drawings. This was put up yesterday afternoon. Another example of peculiar French timing. I'm betting the pictures will stay up for  month.

So starts a weekend in a French village where nothing ever happens.

Uplifting : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY-Za0_ZtTA&feature=youtu.be

Not the perfect pet :

Friday, April 26, 2019

Glum PON.

Another day, another storm. The wind rips off the last flowers on the wisteria by the front door. April is certainly turning out to be a month of sunshine and showers. Sophie doesn't mind storms but she draws the line at hail. She gives us her 'glum' performance. 

The sun comes out. The PONs catch up on time wasted indoors. The mayor is also out early. The replacement trestle tables for the salle des fetes arrive in a large white van. Bob dethreats the left rear tyre. Sophie wanders inside to see if there's any food in the communal kitchen. The mayor despite being well into his eighties has unloaded the tables. He is always hard at work and cheerful. An uncomplaining salt of the earth type man. 

This mornings croissant tastes better than it looks. The PONs each get given a small sugary pastry choquette by the bakers wife. This makes today rank as one of the best days ever. Bob lingers and tries to explain to her that if he was given a second choquette it would be the best day ever. He fails in his task. There's always tomorrow.

We go to the supermarket to pick up a paper from the centre libraire. A young man is sitting at  table in the entrance . An unglamorous - but practical - new Citroen on one side and a bed and bedside table on the other. Is he selling both ? The demure mannequin adds to the confusion.

Can Europe and New England really have been malarial until 1900 ?

Link here : https://ourworldindata.org/uploads/2019/04/Previous-prevalence-of-malaria-world-map.png

Take out life insurance and you'll get a discount if you give up cigarettes or move to vapping. The insurance company ? Phillip Morris : https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/23/tobacco-company-philip-morris-launches-life-insurance-company-reviti.html

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Everything's alright.

A wet and windy night. Tempestuous in the literal sense of the word. Amid the howling Sophie has opted to sleep behind an arm chair in the hallway. A great position when it's stormy. This morning she gives me  her '' is it alright ? ' look before we head out.

No hesitancy once she's out and underway. The hunt for badger poo can put a spring in a girls step.

At the supermarket we discover it's almost Ramadan. The cheerful Algerian family in front of me buy six packs of dates. Then they send their children back to pick up another six. There are only four left. The cashier phones the stock room to see if they have any. They don't. A lengthy discussion ensues as to whether ten packs are enough. Angus moves to another check out line. When he pays and goes the discussion over dates is still ongoing.

Angus picks up strawberries ...

 ... and green asparagus.

The PONs join me for a coffee at the trendy American burger cafe. This week they're doing a Spring Break burger. Angus wonders how many Spring Breakers would go for a burger with Coppa, asparagus, and fried egg.

I hope no one was in it at the time : https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-23/philippines-earthquake-waterfall-skyscraper-rooftop-pool/11036414

Thursday morning musing on the need for absolute clarity in PowerPoint  presentations: https://mcdreeamiemusings.com/new-blog/2019/4/13/gsux1h6bnt8lqjd7w2t2mtvfg81uhx

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Truly important

Another day of strong winds sweeping in from the Bay of Biscay. The weather forecast says the gusts are going to reach 90 km/h with heavy rain and lightning interspersed with hail. That should put paid to the last of the wisteria blossom. So far it's been remarkably calm up here on top of the ridge. The woodpeckers are busy working away - their manic tap tap taping ricocheting up from the valley. No one seems to have told them of the impending downpour. 

As guardian of his flock Bob takes up a proprietorial position half in and half out of the front door.

He remains firmly fixed to his spot, unmoved by passing Senegalese farm workers, a variety of tractors or late running staff heading off for the shift change at the old folks home. His paws evaded the recent trimming but will need to be seen to. They give him something of the look of a 70's era flares wearing hipster.

The sound of shrieking from inside The Rickety Old Farmhouse  indicates that the male PONs peace is about to be shattered. He repairs to the back of the car.

Where he is soon joined by the source of the shrieking.  One very bad tempered lady who is furious with the yogurt pots for not having refilled themselves.

The rest of the world may be wondering whether Jo Biden is too old to run or whether London's traffic will become impossible during a US Presidents State visit. Here Sophie is focused on what's truly important - yogurt .

And something classical for a Wednesday morning : https://youtu.be/Sa8LvdlIDyI?t=26

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Officially ready.

Bob has his haircut. Angus has to use subterfuge and speed. A tempting  carrot also helps. Before Bob knows it he's been hoisted up on the grooming table and trimmed. Uniform it ain't but my goodness twenty swipes with the clippers and a carrier bag of fur is taken of his haunches and chest. He is now officially ready for summer.

Both dog and master agree that if you're going to have a haircut speed is of the essence. Bob looks rather pleased with the result.

Bob joins has equally shorn sister for a long walk down to the waterfall.  This morning we follow the path made by the tractor through the wheat. The PONs find this to be the height of excitement.

In the supermarket Arizona Strawberry Lemonade. Do Arizona folks drink this ?

The chocolate Easter eggs look as though they've barely been touched. Piles and piles of unsold chocolate rabbits. The same thing happened at Christmas. Perhaps there's a change in buying patterns.

At the cafe we are able to retrace our steps before we meet another dog . Sophie is an unknown quantity when it comes to waiting in line with an early morning croissant competitor.

Just another Tuesday morning with two very happy sheepdogs.

Monday, April 22, 2019

The vantage point.

Bob is up on the grooming table early.  Later today he is going to have a hair cut. The heat is slowly starting to build and that long thick luxuriant coat will soon be a hindrance.

Bob rather likes lying out on the grooming table. A great vantage point. This morning he can peer through the fence as a convoy of agricultural workers drive along the lane. The first of the season. Three beat up old Renaults and two Peugeot 308's that have seen better days. The Senegalese seasonal workers slog away on the local melon and apricot farms through the summer heat. They buy cars that no self respecting Frenchmen would be see driving. These are then lovingly restored, resprayed in 'exotic' colours and shipped  back to Dakar. Quite how they get the cars there is something of a mystery. 

We head off en famille to the market. Time to buy replacements for the fast fading petunias. We need plants that can survive direct sun and thick clay. Anything blue seems to work whereas paler colours wither. Perhaps blue plants are more heat tolerant and water retentive ?

We pass the stall with an unusual array of legs and torsos.

The Tunisian basket sellers are back with their new season range of Tunisian baskets. Next week we may buy one. It's not that we need a new laundry basket but the poor Tunisians never seem to have any customers.

The chocolate Easter egg was wonderful. The young lady had decorated it with butterflies and filled the inside with little red fruit flavoured chocolate drops. 'The Font' who is not a chocolate fan ( and most certainly not a milk chocolate fan ) was  complimentary.