Friday, May 31, 2019

The heat rising.

Our day starts with a whoop and a scream. There are Jackdaws on the lawn .

Down to the valley floor for a paddle in the stream then back across the fields for breakfast. No doubting that the chill wet weather has finally gone. It's already warm. The sunflowers that were planted out last week have taken root. Give them a month and they'll be three feet high and provide a magical forest for the angelic duo to play hide and seek in.

A strawberry tart with four macaroons placed on top catches our eye.

After all the start of day excitement Bob settles down at the front door to guard ... with his eyes closed.

Wonderful bagpipe music in France. A very Scottish tune 'Scots Wha Hae' said to have been played by Robert the Bruce at Bannockburn. The drums just after the minute mark are quite something and in this case a very gallic touch. The words '' Tyrants fall in every foe,  Liberty's in every blow, Let us do or dee " fitting for a military funeral  :

Thursday, May 30, 2019

One careful owner.

First thing in the morning and I'm reminded that Sophie needs an hour on the grooming table. Not that an hours grooming will do much good. Give her five minutes and she'll be rolling on her back in the long grass and getting up close and personal with mole hills. By contrast big brother has fur that's easily manageable.

Our departure on the morning walk is delayed while Sophie barks at a particularly annoying collar dove that sits chirruping away happily in a cypress tree. She goes out onto the balcony to make sure it has no plans to stay there. The collar dove seem oblivious to this eighteen inch bundle of barking fury.

A croissant malformation means that we get one normal croissant and one malformed one. 'No point in wasting it ' says the bakers wife looking first at Angus then at Bob. In return Bob gives her his ' I love you. I really do '' look.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse the Old Farmer is deep in conversation with 'The Font'. His Mercedes is 32 years old and has just done 500,000 kilometres. He's written a letter to the manufacturer and they've sent back a letter saying the mileage is testament to the quality of the product and the skill and proficiency of the owner. They've also sent him a little plaque to go on the back of the car ' 500k and still going strong'. He is very happy with the letters contents.

On Thursday morning a little antidote  :

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Well received ?

It's rained , again, overnight. By the time the PONs are awake, harnessed up and ready for their morning walk it's dry and the sun is peeping out from behind the clouds. This has been the coolest, wettest May in the decade we've been here. The farmers three weeks behind with their harvesting. Some Indian men in dark suits phone to say their government intends to buy oil from Iran. They wonder if anyone will notice. It's a quick call so the PONs routine isn't hijacked.

Bob has had a problem with the right hand side of his jaw ever since the stroke / Bells Palsy episode a couple of years ago.  This means that he  takes considerably longer to eat his breakfast than his sister. Sophie. who gulps rather than eats, waits impatiently.

This morning in the greengrocers no less than six varieties of strawberries.

Plans to build a large solar power plant in the countryside are not being well received.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Amuse bouche.

The PONs and Angus are up early. Angus talks to Japanese men in dark suits. Bob and Sophie  doze under the desk. Bob snores gently. The men in Tokyo think a cold wind may blow out of Pyongyang before the year is out. Bob takes this as a cue to snore more loudly.

At this time of the morning the air is crisp and clear. Bob clambers onto his stump seat. Sophie glares at the audacious wrens fluttering in and out of the wisteria above the front door. The wrens seem oblivious to the glares they are receiving.

In the field by the crossroads three new calves. One mother is awake keeping a watchful eye on them. The two other mothers are asleep on their sides recovering from their eventful night. A reassuring daily ritual which signals all is well with the world. Sophie finds a small dead mole which serves as a pre-breakfast amuse bouche.

On the ceanothus by the bird feeder hundreds, possibly thousands of small bees already busily working away. The sound of their early morning activity carries for all of three meters before it's dissolved in silence.

Tweet of the day. Fred the dog and stubborn positivity :

Monday, May 27, 2019

Pleased with the result.

I ask Sophie if she's having a fur malfunction morning. She seems to think it's nothing a croissant end won't cure.

In the market the traiteurs specials of the day are Souris of lamb and  Beef a la Flamande. The PONs nostrils tell them that this is indeed heaven.

A couple of Mothers Day cakes left over from yesterday.

The bakers new baby must be settling in or at least letting them get some sleep. The cake display starting to once again appear enticing.

On our way back the mayor waves and signals we should stop the car. ' There's something you should see in the church ' he tells me.

Three years ago we bought  a circular brass and glass light fitting to replace the hideous frosted glass bathroom light  in the church porch. It has finally been installed. This new one has three arms. '' Now we have  Father, Son and Holy Ghost ' says the major cheerfully. On Sunday, while the European Parliament elections were underway, the light was put up. The locals also took out the old wood wormed internal doors and replaced them with an iron grille. Floodlights and a new wall mounted switch were installed to pick out the recently restored  frescoes. The mayor is very happy with the work. He can leave the churches outer doors unlocked so passing pilgrims can peer inside.

Twitter feed of the week :

Sunday, May 26, 2019

More tail wagging.

For the humans in The Rickety Old Farmhouse it's another Sunday morning. For the PONs it's the best Sunday morning ever. They race to the front door, paws tripping over paws, in the excitement of getting a new day started. In fact between tripping paws, waving tails and twitching noses the angelic duo are in symphony in motion. Excitement colliding with happiness.

We sit on the storm drain and Bob and Angus discuss the Australian elections - probably one of the most important elections of the century because the Queensland electorate rejected the proof of climate change. We also discuss Mrs.Mays doomed attempt to exclude 48% of the UK electorate from the decision making process. At this point the green Toyota Land Cruiser with the manic Westie goes by and our train of thought is broken.

Off to the bakers. On the other side of the road an old lady has managed to lock herself out on the balcony of her apartment. The firemen are trying to ascertain whether they will have to knock down her front door or whether it might be easier to winch her down and call a locksmith.

We go to the biscuit shop. This is an occasion for more tail wagging. The PONs are asked by the man behind the counter to taste a freshly baked orange butter biscuit. They willingly oblige.

No less than fourteen different types of tomatoes on sale in the greengrocers. Angus thinks this may be a record for the number of varieties on offer.

A dog hospice :

Cool mural :

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Rotating machinery.

A quiet day. Loic the heavily bifocaled gardener arrives to weed the lavender borders. He regales me with a long and unintelligible story which seems to involve a sack of fertilizer and a piece of rotating machinery. I smile, nod and say ' Mon Dieu ' at pauses in the lengthy tale. Before he goes Loic's allowed a spin on the lawn tractor. This has him laughing away. The PONs are sent indoors when Loic gets behind the wheel.

The post lady delivers the electoral communications for Sundays European parliamentary elections.  We've already voted by post in Scotland so the leaflets are wasted on us.  This year the Yellow Jackets have a political party. We know this because one of the candidates in the photo is wearing a yellow jacket. Everyone in this years elections seems to be keen on the suitably vague constructs of reinventing France and making Europe work for the people.

A simpler political agenda is espoused by the Esperanto Party. They are annoyed by the predominance of English in EU communications and their manifesto is singular in its aim. Out with English, in with Esperanto ! Angus can't help but think that French or German could be more viable alternative languages. The problem is they can't be mangled and still be understood like English. For all its faults the language of Shakespeare is a remarkably forgiving language to non native speakers.

Down to the farm for breakfast strawberries. Bob and Sophie charge along the valleys formed by the poly tunnels. They consider this to be high adventure. Earlier in the week the strawberry lady was hopeful that she still had a couple of weeks harvesting ahead of her. She now thinks that she'll have to close up shop on Monday as the Senegalese pickers are needed in the melon fields.

Political dogs :

Friday, May 24, 2019


Sophie slept for much of yesterday.  Apart from an unscheduled and unexpected early morning ' comfort break ' the passage of time has worked wonders. The chicken is behind her and she is as bright as rain again this morning.

Her affable big brother simply cannot imagine that his sister could be so mischievous.

On our morning walk Sophie takes a great interest in a tractor that is spraying a field with weed killer. She is harnessed up and encouraged home.

At a book store in London. The ' book of the week ' is described concisely. Can irony be wry ? 

Have heard great things about this and am looking forward to starting it.

The Chelsea Flower Show now underway. Many of the businesses along the Kings Road decorated with floral displays.

The front of this pub literally covered with fresh blooms ( and bees ) .

Unusual knowledge of the day. Goats :

Thursday, May 23, 2019


Here are two pictures of Bob.

There are no pictures of Sophie this morning. The family princess is in the dog house.

'The Font' had prepared a roast chicken. Brined, air dried overnight and then roasted in readiness for lunch. Placed , high, on a kitchen counter to cool. 

Quite how Sophie got up onto the kitchen counter is a mystery. ' The Font' claims to have gone out to answer the phone and was gone three minutes, four max. It is presumed Sophie somehow clambered onto a stool then onto the kitchen table before leaping onto the marble counter. Each link in this assumed chain of events is impossible for any dog to accomplish let alone one with two metal knee joints.

The word 'diable'  is being muttered. Sophie has done what any family diva would do and tail waggingly brazened it out. '' I cannot tell a lie. It was my brother that ate it ". Her position on the counter, the remains of the chicken and a greasy muzzle are ignored.

She has been lifted down and we now wait to see what the impact of three quarters of a roast chicken will have on the passage of her day ahead.

Music to get the day started :

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Let's get the day started.

Garden checked for C-A-T-S. Village goats/horses/donkeys all greeted. Breakfast devoured.  The PONs are ready to head off and collect their master. They do their very best to hide their impatience. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Why not ?

Angus is heading off to talk to men ( and two women ) in dark suits. There's time for a walk along the ridge and a chat on the storm drain before he has to get changed. Bob gives me his '' Why ? " look. Sophie has even more of a judgmental air. There will be people who tell you that dogs can't communicate displeasure. They're wrong.

A detour for a bowl of water and a slightly burnt espresso at the modern cafe.  The PONs each get a curly croissant end and a shared mignardise.  This, in some small way, compensates for the interruption to a carefully crafted routine.

Piotr, the head Polish plumber, sees us as we head back across the village green. ' Two bedroom bathroom done. Two more bedroom bathroom to do ' he announces triumphantly. I ask if the owners of the house will be able to move in before the school holidays. '' I am seeing no reason why not " he replies with studied imprecision.

Two more election posters have arrived on the village notice board.  A rather jaunty one of smiling people for the Presidents party. They are promising 'rebirth' - another popular but difficult to pin down word from the political lexicon.

There is also a rather less smiley poster for a party with a hammer and sickle. The party of workers against big business. They appear to be vying for the same vote as Ian the Communist candidate.

Does the architecture of this bookstore intimidate ? :