Saturday, August 31, 2019


What better way to start a day ? Sophie cleans out 'The Fonts' yogurt carton. Try as she might the thing will not be goaded into refilling itself. Sophie offers to give Angus a friendly ear lick. He looks at her yogurt coated beard and declines the offer.

Loic shows up to collect grass cuttings. The PONs take great interest in what he's doing.  Leaping into freshly raked piles of grass is great fun. Scattering the freshly raked and piled grass across the lawn is even better fun. 

Today ( non-refilling yogurt pot excepted ) is shaping up to be the best day ever .... and we haven't even been for our morning croissant .

Friday, August 30, 2019

Turn to green.

Another hot and humid start to the day. The French teacher has lost her two Labradors . She installed one of those systems that passes a shock through the dogs collar when it crosses a buried wire. Whatever you may think about the ethics of giving your dog an electric shock the technology only works if the dogs are wearing the collars. If someone forgets to put them on the dogs are prone to wandering. This is what has happened. Local builders, the postmen, the school bus drivers ,the staff at the special needs home and Angus are all out looking for them. Its been 3 days now. Losing two dogs must be extremely stressful. 'The Font' double checks our old fashioned garden fence to make sure there are no gaps.

For some reason 7/8ths of the sky is cloud free but a quadrant is densely covered with contrails. There must be a wedge of super chilled air at 35000 feet.

On our way down to the bakers we stop for roadworks. A morose lad has one of those signs that he can turn to green or red. This works if the morose lad has the wherewithal to notice that a car with its engine running and two lively sheepdogs in the back has driven up to him. He is busy texting and completely oblivious to our presence.  After a while I beep the horn. He gives me the finger. Then thinking more of it gives me the finger again.  Finally, he turns the sign to green and waves me on impatiently.

Todays pastry section looks the part ...

.... but there's something about the surfeit of artificial colouring that puts us off.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Shriek of delight.

Up early to talk to men in dark suits. A typical day. The Queen suspends parliament, Iran plans a drone attack on Israel, Russia refuses visas to two US Senators and Chinese troop carriers are seen crossing into Hong Kong.

Bob starts his day with all the seriousness that a new day deserves. Sophie's too happy to be serious. She skips out of the front door before issuing a brief but heartfelt shriek of delight. This is going to be the best day ever.

The  abandoned car seats are still cluttering up the village dustbins.

We are clearly not the only ones irritated by these fly tippers. Another, unknown, villager has printed out a notice and taped it to one of the seats. The term Monsieur et Madame Grosdegueux is a French term we've not come across before.

At the greengrocers a particularly fine example of the French art of creative parking.

Barbary figs make their appearance .

This is wonderful but where would you get 350 million tree seedlings ?

This is also a good goal :


We have upstairs on the hallway wall a pre-execution picture of Charles 1st. Painted on board and acquired, together with a handkerchief soaked in his blood, by a distant Stuart supporting ancestor. No one else in the family wanted the gruesome thing so it ended up with us. The hanky dipped in the blood from the Kings severed head, so some barely discernible four century old writing on the back of the picture tells us, was thought to cure scrofula. None of us has scrofula so it must be true. British readers will understand why today of all proroguing days Angus has looked up this long dead king in an old school book. Charles 1 prorogued parliament and caused some major problems. Somethings never change and some politicians never learn. This is what the old school text book said about the King. It is strangely pertinent today :

'It was enough for him to believe that he was acting within his rights; whether, in so doing and enforcing his own will he was serving the people's interests it was for him and not for them to judge. Moreover he had the singularly unfortunate habit of forgetting that, if he wished to enforce unpopular measures, it was at least advisable to seek means of conciliation instead of accumulating causes of irritation; that if he was bent on alienating one section of the community, it would be politic to secure support in other quarters '.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Do's and dont's.

A muggy start to the day. A tongue of hot air storming up from the Sahara covers everything in a fine layer of sand. This morning our sand refracting sunrise is an implausibly deep salmon red. 

The  big market town ( if 30,000 counts as big ) is preparing for its Festival of Prunes. As we settle down for our morning croissant the PONs notice workmen unloading a truckload of concrete bollards. The bollards are painted a garish prune purple and will be used to close off the main roads. The festival will climax with the crowning of Miss Prune 2019. This is a more sophisticated title than our local market town ( population 1100 ) which ends its festivities with the award of the Miss Nut trophy. There was a discussion in the local press as to whether there should be two titles Miss Hazelnut and Miss Walnut but it was decided that one Miss Nut title was more prestigious.

Angus pops in to the grocery store to buy some ice cream. He finds a French brand he's not seen before. A fortune could be made by someone shipping the product off to the US. It would be a spring break marketing classic.

Mirabelles in the greengrocers. We buy a kilo for a crumble.

Angus goes to buy a new shower attachment to replace the one that squirted water all over the walls during the dogs bathing experience. The hardware store has a 'growing floral wall' in pride of place in the fabulous bathrooms section. There can only be a limited audience for this level of chicness in our quiet corner of deepest, deepest France profonde. The floral wall has a very long list of do's and don'ts attached to it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

A late start.

The PONs head out on their tour of the village. We've been on the phone to men in dark suits and the suns up and it's already getting warm. The last of the bats are flying back to roost in The Rickety Old Farmhouses eaves. Sophie starts to sprint as she turns the corner by the village pond. She's hoping to catch the water birds unawares. The Coots hear her coming and are well hidden in the foliage by the time she's made it to the edge of the pond. I suggest that throwing her head back and howling with excitement may not be a classic bird stalking technique.

We chat to the mayor. He's out early with a watering can tending to the plants in the churchyard. His wife is soldiering on but her fifth ( and latest ) hip replacement is causing her pain. He tells me this while rigging up an old tractor to a pump. The water table has fallen due to the drought and he's trying to find a way of keeping the irrigation system going.

Plums and peches de vignes in the greengrocers. The peaches are only in season for three or so weeks at the end of the summer. They have a taste which is a combination of white peaches and wild strawberries.

A belated poem for international dog day :

These are amazing :

Monday, August 26, 2019

Never again.

We set up a new bath time system. A 30 metre length of hose attached at one end to a shower unit in a downstairs bathroom and at the other to a spray attachment. The hose snakes across the floor and out of the house towards the PONs paddling pool which has been placed outside by the French doors. The theory is that the PONs will somehow be happy clambering into the paddling pool and can then be thoroughly washed and shampooed in an atmosphere of fresh air and bucolic calm.

The PONs have of course worked out that this is a demonic, borderline satanic, bath time trap. 1):They refuse to leave the house 2): When they do leave the house there is a large garden to hide in 3): When cornered they turn on their backs and become lead weights 4): Placed in the paddling pool they promptly hop out again 5): The attachment that fixes the hose to the shower attachment springs a leak and jets water all over the bathroom walls 6): 'The Font' helpfully wonders if this is an improvement on the old bath and wellington boots system 7): Mid shampoo Sophie escapes and heads , dripping, into the house and heads upstairs 8) : See 1) above and repeat.

The Coot chicks are getting full grown. No sign of them this morning but the very second Angus puts the i-Phone away out they come and parade across the Water Lilly leaves on the village pond. By this stage Sophie has skipped off in search of fresh adventures. Maybe we'll get the ornithological photo of the year tomorrow ?

Pumpkins make a colourful appearance in the greengrocers.

A better display in the bakers. The PONs enjoy their croissant. They both look remarkably clean. Angus wonders if he's reached that age in life where bathing the dogs justifies a breakfast time drink of something '' nerve steadying ''. Angus also ponders what multiple of their body weight a PONs fur can hold in water. What would happen if we never bathed the dogs again ?

Yesterday a convoy of sixty cars comes through the village. A local wedding. Bob sits on his stump seat. Every single car beeps its horn. The effect of this on the PONs karma is electric.

So starts a new week in deepest, deepest France profonde with two shaggy (and sweet smelling ) laughter generators..

This is interesting / unanswerable :

Not sure I've seen this happening :

Sunday, August 25, 2019

Day break, day glo militants.

The world intrudes on our little corner of paradise. A group of six tricycles pass the gate. Bob is out and on his stump seat as soon as he hears them. All the cyclists are in day glo yellow. Yellow helmets, yellow jackets and yellow shorts. A riot of colour. Each bike has a large French flag attached to its rear fender . We can only assume these are yellow jackets on their way to an anti-Macron demonstration in the local market town.  From their laughter it seems they're very happy protesters. Day break, day glo militants.

After the tricyclists have gone Bob dismounts from his stump seat and joins his sister in a careful nose down examination of the garden. This morning, thankfully, there is no sign of the eight kittens and their mother so no kerfuffle. No need for the neighbours to start sticking pins in their wax effigies of us.

Sophie is particularly dreamy on our cross country walk. What should take forty minutes takes an hour. Deer poo, badger poo, fox poo, desiccated vole. So many delicacies to divert a girls attention. 

By the time Sophie and Angus make it home Bob is already up in the back of the car waiting to head off to the bakers. Bob and Angus discuss the G7 meeting in Biarritz. The French radio thinks that President Macron scored a major coup by arranging an unscheduled bridge building welcome lunch with the US President. Angus is less sure that things will go swimmingly. Bob, sensibly, keeps his opinion on affairs of state to himself. He has croissants on his mind.

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Benefit from its presence.

Our morning starts with what looks and sounds like one of those 'alternative' productions of Macbeth.

The PONs find the eight kittens and the cat asleep on the garden chairs.

There follows a witches brew of activity. Kittens go flying everywhere. Two rush into the barn. Some rush through the lavender beds. Others clamber up trees. Yet others hurtle across the lawn. The angelic duo howl. The kittens are soon safely out of sight but not out of mind.

The sturm und drang lasts for all of ten frenetic minutes.

We set of along the lane for a post excitement walk passing the Senegalese melon pickers as we go. The PONs rush over to see them and then, unhappy that the melon pickers have no biscuits to offer, rush back.

Lines of fire engines and riot police coaches heading along the motorway in the direction of Bordeaux. Reinforcements for the G7 meeting in Biarritz. Angus is much more interested in a mobile wine bar that is heading in the same direction. The heads of state would probably benefit from its presence. 

Gwyneth Paltrows book curator speaks. Thatcher Wine - celebrity bibliophile. And to think that book shelves used to be for books you'd read :

Friday, August 23, 2019

The boom box interlude.

The two tykes have returned from their summer holidays with their grandparents in Ste.Etienne.  We know they're back because they spend the afternoon doing wheelies on the freshly laid gravel outside the church porch. They have a boom box that one of them balances, precariously, on his handle bars.  'The Font' notes that school starts again on September 2nd so they only have a fortnight in which to drive the village insane.

Bob is having a bad hair day. It is what Angus terms the electrocuted Ringo look. It gets like this when Bob's been sleeping on his back . He is soon put to rights.

The Old Farmer returns to collect his post. All mention of the trip to Belarus has gone. We assume that the pleasure of having someone cook three meals a day and laugh at all his jokes is keeping his mind closer to home.

The eight kittens spent the night in the garden. They sit safely in the branches of the Holm Oak and look down on two shaggy dogs hurtling round the garden following C-A-T scents.  The shaggy dogs have no idea where the kittens are.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Just the heat ?

The year moving on at a hectic pace. It's much darker in the mornings now. We don't head off along the lane until the sun is starting to rise at six thirty. The PONs wait by his desk with a semblance of patience while Angus talks on the phone to a group of men in dark suits about Denmark, dual loyalty and Jay Inslee. There is to be a speech in Warsaw on the 80th anniversary of the start of World War 2 on September 1st.  Will it pass off without inflaming transatlantic relations ? Probably not.

Later, Sophie licks clean Angus's yogurt pot. The yogurt clings to her beard and gives her an unmistakable Lenin look. Big brother has also cleaned out a yogurt pot but starts his day looking somewhat more sophisticated.

The cakes at the bakers indicating that the latest addition to the bakers family is causing them sleepless nights. Or maybe it's just the heat ?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The away day.

To London for the day. The weather perfect. Sunny, a light breeze ands no humidity. Angus walks to his meetings.  This gives him a chance to look at some bronze penguins in an art gallery ...

... and an interesting collection of rose wine in a wine merchants window. The Domaine d'Ott an absolute favourite.

The Swedish Embassy has moved to a 1930's era primary school building. The building has had a thorough renovation but to this observers eye still looks like a 1930's era primary school.

We buy some Pistachio Baklava to take back to France ...

.... but regret doing so when we see the cakes for sale in a bakers along the road.

The blueberry and lime cheesecake looks wonderful but there's no room left in Angus's bag.

Back at Toulouse airport it's pure unadulterated chaos. Four  Jumbos bringing pilgrims back from the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca have landed before the British Airways flight. 

It takes an hour to get through immigration.The presence of a gaggle of riot Police doesn't help. The fun really starts at customs which is completely seized up.

The only solution is the perma-smile, the cheerful ' Excusez moi ', an occasional '' Oh la la " and all the determination of a head down rugby winger in full charge. After 20 minutes of deft footwork and trolley weaving I'm through.