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, October 31, 2019
Good morning from Sophie. She is up and out in search of C-A-T-S at first light.
After breakfast a day of high drama unfolds.
The departmental health and safety team are in the village.
They apply broad yellow tape to the glass doors in the Salle des Fetes. The team then move to the town hall where more broad yellow stripes are applied to the two glass doors that lead onto the terrace. The mayors secretary is unhappy about this intrusion on her workplace. She tuts .
Two gentlemen in red overalls excavate a hole in front of the church and erect a new disabled parking sign. The third in our village of 67 souls.
A third team wire up the defibrillator on the town hall terrace. There can be no doubting it's wired up. A green light on top of the defibrillator case now flashes on and off every five seconds - day and night.
The gentlemen who apply tape continue their quest for more surfaces to improve. Behind the Salle des Fetes the low ceiling beam outside the ladies lavatory soon sports a bright red and white cover.
In a final burst of activity a sign is screwed onto the terrace woodwork requesting any passing barbecuers to protect the roof before lighting a fire. Why anyone would light a barbecue under the kitchen terrace roof is something of a mystery. The letter 'M' comes off the sign but after a lengthy discussion between the mayor and the workmen the sign is put up any way.
All this activity reminds Angus that he's promised to buy The Old Farmer a 'No Publicity' sticker. This is attached to his post box while Bob looks on and provides encouragement.
So passes a day in a village which is now super healthy and safe. The PONs have followed events with great interest. For them things not only get better they also get more and more interesting. If only the workmen had brought biscuits.
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Early rising farmers busy at work as we head down the hill towards the waterfall. Still no sign of rain. Much has been promised but, bar a couple of brief mountain storms, it seems to have fallen all round us rather than on us .
The PONs ignore two large tractors, The drivers slowdown as they pass us. One of them stops just long enough to let me know he's planning to take his family to Greece next May. The other waves cheerily.
Overhead an Airbus test pilot is trying out a new A350. The plane seems to be barely moving, flaps and undercarriage down, engines roaring. Low level stall tests. It must be at 2,000 maybe 2,500 feet. I can see it's in Qatar Airways livery.
What for me is a walk down the hill is for Bob and Sophie a great adventure. No less exciting for the fact it's repeated every day. They ignore the wrens that hop in and out of the hedgerows but glare at the Kite that screeches from its perch on the telegraph pole. Best of all they hurtle tails high after something that's rustled in the long grass . They are part of this universe in a way more reserved humans are not.
The Old Farmer pops across to ask if I can buy a 'no publicity' sticker to put on his letter box. The local supermarket fills it up with fliers and he's worried that a passer by might see them and work out the place is often empty. He remains vague about the timing of his 'breakfast and dinner included' trip to Turkey.
Sophie takes a quick nap by the front door while her brother gets into the back of the car in readiness for a day of wild and visceral pleasures. First amongst these will be a curly croissant end.
There can be no doubting that the days just keep on getting better and better.
Tuesday, October 29, 2019
Lack of acknowledgement.
The PONs are still getting used to the clock change. Bright when we head off along the lane in the morning but pitch dark by seven thirty at night.
Bob waits impatiently for his sister to join him in the back of the car. He's ready for a trip to the cafe and the bakers.
Sophie is late. She can be found sitting on the lawn glaring at an owl that is perching on a beam in the barn. The owl glares back at her. This PON - owl standoff lasts some time.
We find a parking spot on the square. The florist has spread her stock of chrysanthemums onto the parking spaces by the pharmacy. It's the time of year when the locals go to visit their family graves for All Souls Day. Back in the village a constant stream of visitors parking by the church and disappearing into the churchyard with rakes and shovels. Weeds removed and gravel freshly raked. The Old Farmer informs us that he will be off to visit his wife and daughters graves on Wednesday.
This was brilliant radio : https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0009ryj
Monday, October 28, 2019
Not the best start.
What's a girl to do when her brother finds a piece of air dried tripe that she's carefully buried in the rose border ?
First thing to do is shriek.
When that fails it's best to settle down, look glum and wait for him to get distracted.
Bob briefly looks at her as if to say ' You're totally unequipped to handle the genius of your great brother '. He then gets back to chewing. Sophie sighs.
En route to the bakers we pass one of those travelling circuses that the French love. Camels, Yaks, Zebras all pacing around in a field by the roundabout. Angus is not a fan of wild animals in circuses. He's even less keen on what would happen to the wild animals if the remaining circuses were closed. A Monday morning moral dilemma.
The young artisanal baker is getting into the Halloween mood. She is very proud of the faux bloody hand prints in her display cabinet. This is an unusual topic of conversation before breakfast.
Sunday, October 27, 2019
The clocks change overnight. This morning the word 'Frightful' the best way of describing Sophie's coat.
She lies in the sun on the doorstep to 'compose' herself and adjust to the new routine. After ten minutes she's improved her look from frightful to merely ungroomed.
Bob who has been born with a more 'manageable' coat is keen to get the day started.
After our morning walk there's a trip in the car to the cafe for a curly croissant end and a bowl of water. Sophie 's day is rapidly improving. All that's needed now is for Madame Bay to drop off a bag of her crispy pigs ears. Now, that would be a red letter day !
I'd never heard of Crullers before. Seemingly a deep fried pastry that's a doughnut alternative. This store in NYC makes them :
But of course nothing can match these : https://www.dominiqueansel.com/technique-and-recipes/
And this is excellent for anyone watching replays of the rugby :https://gardenandgun.com/recipe/the-pooles-diner-mac-and-cheese-recipe/
Saturday, October 26, 2019
In the groove.
Life with two lively Polish Lowland Sheepdogs gets back into its usual rhythm.
The day starts with two tail waving companions making it clear they'd like to head off along the lane.
Sophie stands on the storm drain and glares at the donkeys in the field below. The young garagiste passes in his small souped up Citroen with the raspy exhaust. Shortly after the farmer in the green metallic Toyota, with the manic Westie standing by the back window, passes going in the other direction. Bob and Angus sit and discuss Amazon and Microsoft and what Bill Taylor's testimony really means. For our mutual sanity we avoid any mention of Brexit.
Shortly after Sophie discovers that her brother has headed off in search of tantalizing scents.
She follows on behind. When he gets too far ahead she stops and howls in frustration. Sophie is of the determinist behavioural school that believes that screaming is the best way of asserting control over your surroundings .... or your brother. Bob looks up briefly to see what all the fuss is about then carries on with his olfactory investigations.
The Old Farmer has returned to check on the house. He's won a weeks holiday in Turkey. Seems that he entered a phone competition, answered three questions correctly and voila ! he and his lady friend have an all expenses paid holiday for two in off season Anatolia. He mentions the name of the resort but my knowledge of Turkish beach resorts is limited. ' We'll be flying direct from Toulouse ' he says before adding ' Breakfast and dinner are included '.
So starts what is quite likely to be the best day ever .... by far.
Who knows ? Later this morning there may be some of Madame Bays air dried tripe.
Friday, October 25, 2019
Flock found !
The pilot tells us we'll be flying from the farthest reaches of Europe back to London. This Anglo-centric statement makes it sound as if we've been to an unexplored region of the Amazon. Angus wonders what Greek pilots tell their passengers ?
The Rickety Old Farmhouse still standing despite a ferocious overnight mountain storm.
There is a noisy reunion. Bob is simply delighted that HE has found his flock. I tell him this required great skill. He seems happy with this. Sophie is a little more standoffish. She adopts her " And I thought you loved me ? ' routine before moving in for a lengthy tickle. The grumpy look is classic Sophie.
A very Yale question : https://theconversation.com/how-steak-became-manly-and-salads-became-feminine-124147
Thursday, October 24, 2019
A final dinner at a roof terrace restaurant before heading home. Warm until eight and then Angus has to return to the hotel to pick up jackets and coats to stave off the bitter breeze from the caldera. Despite the hordes of Chinese tourists in the street below we are the only diners.
Up early . Stavros has to shuttle back and forwards to the airport for connecting flights.
Outside two characterful island residents.
When I said in a recent post that island dogs didn't chase island cats I was wrong . These two hurtle down the narrow main street, howling, whenever a C-A-T appears. They do not stop, or divert, for humans.
A farewell to the hotel. The room was minimalist in the extreme. The Font thinks this is very Greek. Angus thinks it's like sleeping in a rock tomb.
Later today, assuming we survive Stavros and his driving technique, Bob and Sophie will be reunited with their humans.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
You'd think that the little Greek island would be as quiet as a churchyard by the end of October. Not a bit of it.
The place is thronged with honeymoon couples. There is no doubting that they're honeymoon couples. The brides parade up and down the narrow main street in their wedding gowns. The grooms look slightly embarrassed and check their phones for messages. Whenever they find a suitable backdrop they stop, adopt a suitable pose and then, when the photographer is satisfied, charge off again.
Having your photo taken in diaphanous white bridal attire seems to be a big thing for 1) Chinese 2) Japanese and 3) Russian bridal parties. There are scores of them. They arrive at first light and the last of them only disappear after sunset. Steep cobbled steps and high heels are no obstacle to their progress.
Woe betide any innocent visitor who stands in the way of these determined ladies and their entourage as they hurtle, hems held high, from one scenic vista to another. Sharp elbows soon shove aside any slow moving tourists. The innocent soon learn that a determined Chinese newly wed in a gown is not to be trifled with.
The portly island Labrador finds a Chinese wedding party eating noodles at the aptly named Beijing Palace. The mother of the bride, dressed in lucky scarlet, throws prawn crackers at the deserving animal. The Labrador settles down to enjoy his good fortune. A canine heaven where noodles and prawn crackers fall from the sky.
Looking at the Labrador a line from Dostoevsky comes to mind 'Love the animals. God has given them the rudiments of thought and joy untroubled'.
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Brief but severe turbulence over the Alps causes the copilots windscreen to shatter. This means a return to London and a night in an airport hotel followed by an entertaining saga of non-existent connections and lost luggage.
The island, when we get here, is full of sleepy dogs.
They would chase equally sleepy island cats but can't be bothered to.
There is a bookstore.
Which has an unusual collection of English language volumes.
'The Font' has arranged for a local driver to shepherd the family around in a mini van. His name is Stavros. Stavros is of indeterminate age, has a beard that an owl could nest in and considers himself to be Gods gift to womankind. We know this because whenever we pass a female of any age, shape or creed he leans out of the window, shouts out things in Greek and gesticulates wildly and passionately. Oncoming traffic, bends in the road and lane discipline all forgotten in his selfless pursuit of love. 'The Font' describes Stavros as a bon viveur. Angus thinks a shorter way of saying this is 'alcoholic'.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
The perfect companion.
In the newsagents window a scale model of a DeLorean from 'Back to the Future'. Put together, we guess, from parts in one of those self assembly monthly magazines . The type that woo the unexpected in at $1 for the first three copies before suddenly rising to $20 once they have their target audience hooked. A sales pitch much adored by eleven year old males. Angus wonders how long (and at what cost) it took for the finished product to see daylight.
Later today 'The Font' and Angus are heading off to Greece. The PONs may ...
..... or may not have guessed that a trip to the K-E-N-N-E-L-S is on the cards.
Bob does his Mr.Glum act.
Sophie sits behind a hall chair and does her ' I'm a perfect companion. Take me, Leave him ' routine.
This what a lot of us feel : https://twitter.com/LBiniSmaghi/status/1183348528858456064
And a reminder when using your drivers license on US domestic flights : https://www.seatguru.com/traveltips/October-2020-Real-ID
As a foreigner I'd have to say there's only one candidate who's thought through the issues that are shaping the 21st century. Of course there's not a hope of him getting any further : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOesZJ4mHZs
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