Sunday, June 30, 2019

Another scorcher

Another 40 degree plus day. Bob and Sophie spend much of the afternoon on the cool tile floors downstairs. Two fans are arranged to provide a constant stream of air to their front and rears. The angelic duo are keen to get out ... and even keener to get back inside. Comfort breaks taken at high speed.

The mayor is busy delivering water to the old folk of the village. He also checks on everyone first thing in the morning and again last thing at night. The nonagenarian widow at the crossroads is asked if she'd like to be taken to the old folks home for a few days . '' It's air conditioned '' says the mayor by way of explanation. ' Most certainly not ! ' comes the reply. The Old Farmer chooses this day of all days to clamber up a ladder and repair some dislodged tiles on his garage roof. Angus is not sure that ladders, roofs and extreme heat are a good combination for an 86 year old. The Old Farmer is not deterred but he does allow Angus to hold the base of the ladder.

It gets so hot our metal gates have expanded and will only open when brute force is applied.  This Death Valley story is perhaps not so far fetched -

Tomatoes in the greengrocers but the baker is not responding well to the heat. Croissants have been made but the baguettes are still in the oven. As for cakes .... nothing !

The poor roses are literally burning up as soon as they come into bloom.

This is fun :

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Fully a third

It's expected to be a bit cooler today. 39 forecast. Still hot but  more bearable than the mid-40's. It's already in the mid 20's and humid as the PONs follow Angus round the garden checking that the irrigation system is working properly -  it isn't. The roses suffering from heat shock.

One of the enduring miracles of the little village is the lime tree on the green. For a month every year it's covered in delicate flowers and becomes the must visit destination for thousands of small bees. You'd think that the bees would only come out after the sun has fully risen but there they are at first light buzzing happily away. The sound carries as far as our garden wall - a distance of ten maybe fifteen metres. It is a sound of innocent unchanging joy. The PONs are too busy heading off towards the Coots and Moorhens to take any notice.

Usually we open the shutters to let in the cool morning air. There is no cool morning air so we remain firmly barricaded in.

'The Font' heads back to Scotland to open up the  repainted wee house for the New Texan tenants . Parking is impossible because there is a graduation procession going on outside. You can just catch a glimpse of the wee house at the 3 and 4 second mark :

These rites of passage seem to be taken more seriously by this younger generation. Perhaps in an age of acceleration it's good to remain grounded. Everyone was smiling, the sky was blue and the air warm. Proud parents, the fathers and mothers often emotional, in abundance.  Fully a third of the young men graduating were in kilts - a source of amazement to the visiting American and Japanese tourists. Standing at the front door watching the procession go by 'The Font' and a neighbour both agreed there was something magical in the air. With so many 20 somethings about perhaps the something magical was optimism ?

This is interesting :

Friday, June 28, 2019

44 degrees.

Difficult to say which was worse. Wednesday was in the high 30's but with a 50 mph wind that blew all day. Yesterday there was no wind but it hit 44 degrees in the late afternoon. This morning we're up and about at five so that the PONs can get a couple of long walks in the pre-dawn freshness. Sophie's order of business is unchanged. She is determined to glare  at the Coots and the Moorhens. She then rushes back home to monitor the wrens and sparrows nesting in the wisteria above the front door. 

Bob sits on the gravel and  guards. Today he has a small grey ( and very muddy ) companion to help him. He and Angus discuss the Democrat debate and how feisty Harris was and how reasoned Buttigieg sounded. The others not so much.

By nine it will be uncomfortably warm. By ten the tarmac will be paw scaldingly hot .

Welcome to the new climate change normal.

Angus fills up the PONs paddling pool with water. 

So starts a day of debilitating heat with two dogs who simply can't understand why their routine is out of kilter.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Quiet kindness.

The gift shop at Toulouse airport sells rugby balls. In fact it sells a variety of rugby paraphernalia including 'rugby fashion'.  Looking at the clothing on offer Angus decides these two words are a contradiction in terms.

At the gate 80% of the passengers refuse to sit. They prefer to stand in the unairconditioned heat.   Why do people do this? Nerves ? Are they bothered they'll miss the flight ? Or perhaps they're fearful  someone will take their allocated seat ? More probably they want to get on early to secure space for the wheelie bags. The airline has imposed a boarding by seat row system ( 1 - 5 ) which means those in category 5 have to stand forever. They block the gate and glare at those called on before them.

At Paddington station a group of young Lebanese have opened up a stall selling Baklavas and olives in the middle of the station forecourt.  They maintain a constant and hopeful banter with any young ladies passing by. Their sales patter tends towards the humorous but politically incorrect.

The folks at the high tech company are very young.  They work in what appears to be an enormous Starbucks filled with wooden tables and sofas. Not a desk to be seen. The young women are all in brightly coloured dresses, white socks and running shoes. The young men all have trousers that stop three inches above the ankle. Angus feels like telling them they'll catch a chill if they don't dress properly.  The young men sport beards. Angus is of a generation that thinks beards should only be worn by submariners returning after a long patrol at sea. Two of the young women are breast feeding - to the evident disinterest of everyone else. The babies are very small. The delivery to desk period can only be a couple of weeks. There is a sort of creche where toddlers are cared for. From time to time a toddler, or a group of them, will escape before being picked up and returned to the creche. Angus makes the mistake of thinking 1) the audience will be bored 2) disinterested and 3) probably have a superficial understanding of world affairs. He is wrong on 2) and 3) and they are polite enough to hide signs of 1). I expect to be asked about Iran and Taiwan but spend most of the time talking about human rights and climate change ( not subjects men in dark suits usually wish to linger over ).

The tech crowd are all polite, thoughtful, devoid of any ism's and demonstrate a quiet kindness that makes me optimistic for the future. 

On my bedroom wall in the hotel a minimalist puppy etching. Most hotel art is dire. This has a quiet appeal.

First thing in the morning back off to Heathrow for the flight to Toulouse. Coffee at a cafe which has its door covered in fresh flowers. This seems to be a thing in London.

In the airline lounge a man brings out a small electric fan. He clips it to the handle of his bag then plugs it into a wall socket. You have to wonder why anyone would pack an electric fan in their luggage but then you realize he's cool and the rest of us are suffering in an unairconditioned airline lounge in a muggy London summer. 

On being reunited Bob exudes happiness. The quiet all consuming satisfaction of a family fellow who has found a wandering sheep.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Sartorial crisis.

Angus is off to speak at a tech company gathering in London. Agreeing to go must have appeared a good idea at the time but on a sweltering June morning it's difficult to imagine why.

The organizers have suggested that a suit and tie are overly formal. '' It's a young crowd ''.This causes a ten minute period of sartorial panic. The PONs watch their masters wardrobe changes ( and listen to 'The Fonts' comments )  from the safety of the stairs. Suit and tie is a no brainer, smart casual a nightmare.

Time for a hurried walk along the ridge and a trip to the bakers for a croissant. It's barely gone six but already hot. Our car journey completed with all the windows down . The PONs will be allowed in the garden until noon and then brought indoors. This enforced incarceration will be a cause for Bob and Sophie to complain frequently and loudly. 

This was interesting :

Monday, June 24, 2019

Dumpy wee thing.

Sophie is up first. She watches me unravel the hosepipe to start topping up the pool. The wind and heat have evaporated off a good three inches.

Bob soon joins her. He dutifully checks the garden for C-A-T-S.

Satisfied that everything is safe and secure he retreats to his shady spot on the stoop to better oversee the days events.

As we turn the corner by the pond the Coots and Moorhens are already scurrying for the safety of the thick brambles that overhang the water. 

This morning we stop to look at the strange little church by the station. All out of proportion. The steeple too tall for such a dumpy wee thing. The building in front has been wrapped around it on two sides even though this makes the shopfront implausibly narrow. The stonework looks old but the brickwork on the tower suggests the 1920's. Maybe its a travel for rail travellers ?

Some days you don't need to be told

Some mornings you don't need to be told the best day ever lies ahead.

The perfect day speaks for itself.

There may be mischief later.

More dogs than people ? :

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Dark goings on.

Sophie watches me get out the hosepipe and fill up the pool. The water level is a couple of inches lower than it should be. Do we have a leak ? Or has the water level fallen due to evaporation ?

Bob is not keen on getting up close and personal with water so he opts to stay on the stoop and manage affairs from there.

The Old Farmer was right to warn us that a hot spell is on the way. The PONs will be limited to early morning walks and confined to the shade of the garden from Wednesday 'til Sunday. There will be complaints.

Angus is sometimes tempted to think what's the point of spending  a quarter of an hour every morning writing a blog . Can anything new and interesting ever happen in a community of 67 souls ? True to form serendipity provides an answer. The village newsletter hints at dark goings on. The new plants around the car park have all died. Mysteriously stricken with weed killer. I stop the mayor and ask him what the back story to this is. Seems we have a villager who grows wild beetroots of a variety that have never cross fertilized with modern varieties. To ensure they remain pristine he goes around in the small hours of the morning and kills off any pollinating plants with weedkiller ( I may have lost some of the technical beetrooty details in translation ). No proof, only supposition. This is truly weird. The dead plants cost E2,000. The mayor shrugs his shoulders as if having a manic plant killer in the village is the most natural thing in the world.

Happy mothers and calves in the field at the crossroads.

A woman out jogging with a pony overtakes us. This is unusual in a '' I'll just take the pony for a run '' type way. After she's safely passed Bob barks . His  '' No need to worry. I'm on top of things '' bark.

So starts another summer Sunday in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Stumbled, by accident, across this. Where dogs and finance meet :

And one of my favourite twitter feeds ( and a must read fo those interested in Brexit ) which today has a canine  touch :

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Lunatic warp and weft

Loic, the heavily bifocaled gardener ( and one of Gods happy creatures ) tells me there was a big thunderstorm last night. In case I don't understand he goes Boom Boom and then delighted with the sound he's made repeats it not once but twice.

On the other side of the road The Old Farmer appears on his balcony. 'The Font' has sent him a post card with all six of the D-Day commemorative stamps on it. They're so large they cover most of the card barring the space for the address. He is very pleased with the stamps. He also informs us that a hot weather warning has been issued. The cold wet spell is about to give way to 40 degree plus temperatures as a wave of hot air from the Sahara moves north into France on Tuesday.

Bob sits in the back of the car and  listens to these interactions with the studied seriousness of a family fellow.

On our morning walk a heart rending sight. A young male deer with a broken leg drags itself slowly and painfully across the lane ahead of us. I have time to harness my two companions up before they get scent of its presence and give chase The deer disappears into the long wheat and is soon invisible. No natural predators but an unsure future ahead.

Sophie continues to glare at the Coots and Moorhens in the algae covered pond . In the other pond we pass the heron, his mate and a large youngster with white speckled wings. Even Bob ( who is usually oblivious to birds ) watches in stunned silence as they float majestically away.

It is 'The Fonts' birthday. Angus has ordered a cake from the entrepreneurial young woman in the small market town. She's been away on a camping holiday in St.Tropez with her boyfriend and the chances of her remembering the order are probably 50/50.

When I get to the bakers she's there, the shop is open and the cake is ready.  No need to have worried.

One tiny problem. Instead of the classical white iced, rose covered design I'd ordered she's made a lime green tower cake with farmyard animals.

I toy with the idea of refusing it but the alternative is no cake at all.

'The Font' is delighted. Life is made memorable by such lunatic warp and weft.

Commas matter :

Friday, June 21, 2019

Longest day.

Bob, who is usually an affable long suffering soul, finally lets his sister know that it's time to head off on our morning walk. His sister, who is in one of her sniff every flower moods,  seems surprised.

At the crossroads we pause to say hello to the cows. Bob once made the mistake of wandering into the field to see them. He was surprised how big they were close up. He has never left the safety of the path since.

The new born calves are at the back of the nursery field carefully watched over by a group of protective aunts. Near us a group of soon to be mothers graze contentedly away. Some look up briefly as we pass.

No prizes for Angus in the wildlife photography category. The i-Phone is slow in focusing. A Coot and a Moorhen can just be seen striding at great speed across the water lily leaves. The little ones are already safely hidden in a thicket of brambles. Sophie glares at them as they go.

So starts a cloudy Saturday morning in deepest France profonde.

And what a day this is at Stonehenge :

A Cat-Fox :

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A record.

The sun beats down. The 67 inhabitants of the little village stay indoors. For much of the day nothing stirs. That peculiar Marie Celeste silence that you only find in French villages.

On the horizon, over the wheat field, a small solitary cloud. Bob and his master wonder what meteorological miracle allowed it to develop in an ocean of cloudlesness.

Sophie has no time for such idle fripperies. She's off to glare at the Coots in the pond. She is having one of her '' I can't do a thing with it '' hair days.

On our way back from our morning constitutional we meet the mayor who is up early watering the newly planted roses by the church. He has high hopes that we will do well in the Village Fleuri judging next month.

I ask about the strange contraption on the tree by the ox track. It's a bat protector. Seems we have a rare type of bat that nests in tree boles. He's made this weird and wonderful concoction to protect them from the village cats.

He also informs me that not only do we have Coots in the pond but also 3 newly hatched Moorhens ( Poulet d'eau ).  By the Pike pond on the other side of the village he's seen a heron nest. If that's not news enough no less than six calves were born overnight and are asleep in the field by the crossroads. A record. An event that has made the mayor very happy.

So starts a new day for a French village and its inhabitants - human and otherwise. All in their own ways cared for.