Friday, January 31, 2020

Never out of fashion.

Sophie yawns and inadvertently demonstrates a pair of perfect incisors. We set off towards the donkey field passing the horses, geese and goats as we go. At the junction where the track winds up to the old widows house Sophie stops for a long drink from the water filled ditch. She perches precariously on the grass bank and slurps away.

A team of workmen in  day-glo orange overalls have arrived in the village. A large white dumper truck is parked outside the church and a mechanical digger by the communal notice board.  The workmen have installed a diversion sign on the speed bump. This means we have to turn right and detour by the end of the pike pond to get to the road to the bakers. I ask them what they're doing but they don't know yet. ' We're waiting for out boss to arrive '.

En route to our morning croissant we see a billboard with the new McDonalds advertising sign. 'Never out of fashion'. Angus finds this wryly amusing.

Back at home the family princess adopts an imploring look that suggests it might be a good idea to head off to McDonald's for some early morning sustenance.

And a Scottish song as sung on all variety of family occasions :

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Indian food French style.

The family princess is up and in the back of the car in record time today. Her high activity levels can be linked to the arrival of the cleaning lady and the appearance of the Hoover. Sophie like all PONs seems to view the vacuum cleaner as a devilish device to be avoided at all costs. Must be something to do with the pitch of the motor. The cleaning lady informs me that we are due a bout of ' exceptionally warm weather'. 

This morning Angus and Sophie drive down to the cafe by the motorway pay station. The croissant is a straight out of the oven 9.5/10. Sophie also gets given two tiny pieces of flaky pastry.  She takes these from the hand of the girl behind the counter with gentle finesse.

On our way back to the car we make a detour to study the menu on the Indian fast food store that's opened up in the tin shack by the tyre repair shop. Angus wonders aloud how many Indian Naans would have beef fillings. A man changing a tyre on a little Renault looks up to see who this strange foreigner is talking to. Both Angus and Sophie are of an age where they're not bothered what people think of their morning chats.

Frequent visitors to the blog will notice that Sophie has had the hair round her eyes trimmed. She's also had some of the excess fur taken out of her muzzle. The new svelte look makes her temperament much more equable. This new calmness does not extend to the post lady who still receives a ferocious 'welcome'.

This study of the decline in disease was interesting :

And this newly restored masterpiece is very beautiful :

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Mood change.

Sophie appears in the kitchen. It's one of those mornings when every couple of minutes the weather alternates between drizzle and bright sunshine. Today, the family diva is in one of her quizzical moods . We run through the earthquake in Jamaica, the trillion buck deficit and whether there will be 'witnesses'. Sophie soon becomes bored with world events and makes it clear she has croissant on her mind.

When it comes to the state of Sophie's coat the drizzle rather than the sunshine has won. I tell her she is a vision of unalloyed loveliness. It's good that PONettes don't understand sarcasm.

New additions to the exotic food aisle. Hot Dog relish and Bar-B-Q sauce make it into the supermarket .

I hope they are more popular with the locals than the jars of Fluff and peanut butter which seem glued to the shelves and must now be getting on for three years old . Maybe like fine wine these imports will improve with age. It's a mystery that maintaining uninterrupted supplies of kitchen roll is beyond the shelf stackers but a dozen jars of 'exotic' Bar-B-Q sauce is deemed worthwhile. There might be a market for the stuff in cosmopolitan Paris but not here in deepest France profonde. The wonders of French retailing. 

While coming to terms with 'twinges' Angus is ploughing through a book a day. Yesterday it was a book from a Stanford author on Europe in the late 1940's. This proved to be surprisingly well written although 'The Fonts' interest in Albanian domestic politics might not survive a second dinner time conversation.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

What better start to a Tuesday ?

The artisanal bakers in the little market town has shut down. This was the place that made 'The Fonts' birthday cake. The owner was a sweet girl but not at all business minded. The market for delicate, expensive cakes tends to be limited in small rural farming communities. Angus was often the only person in the shop and may have been the target demographic. So sad to see dreams shattered. There again a business plan might have been a good idea. Looking through the window everything has quickly been cleaned out, counters and oven included. 

A couple of doors down someone has attempted to turn an old jewellers shop into a ground floor apartment. The large plate glass window replaced by a smaller wooden frame and a stone infill. With e-commerce killing the High Street converting old shops into apartments is going to be a thing. I've yet to see anyone get the proportions of the conversions right but this one ain't too bad. Street front privacy is always an issue.

Returning from our morning expedition Sophie is looking frightful. She is just the right height to collect wet grass and mud on her undercarriage.Time for a grooming. She settles down on the table in the morning sun. Within seconds she's asleep. With such a hectic lifestyle the family diva's soon oblivious to the world.

After a shared croissant could there be a better, if inelegant, way to start a Tuesday ? Sophie is a snorer.

Prague 1937. There is something very art deco about the worlds largest filing cabinet :

Another sign I've become my father. These young people seem very cool.

Monday, January 27, 2020

Ethereal indifference.

When we return from our morning walk Sophie's coat has developed that unkempt ' goodness gracious me ' look.

She is loaded into the back of the car and driven off to the market. There, the PONette discovers that the traiteur is preparing his daily specials. Today there will be tripe or snails 'Catalone' style. Angus would guess that garlic, tomato paste and snails are the ingredients in the latter. On second thoughts make that garlic and snails - in that order. Sophie is entranced by the thought of tripe but is quite willing to give the snails a go. I explain that they're as different as Bangladesh is from Ukraine but she seems undeterred.

Todays croissants look the part but don't live up to their promise. The dough is more like processed white. 6/10.

The cake display has a new addition. A kind of grey thing with piped icing. I would ask what it is but this morning the ' other worldly ' girl is serving behind the counter.  She exhibits an ethereal indifference to questions. Angus would put this down to his accent but the French seem to receive the same disconnected response. From the pace she works at I reckon she may simply be ethereal.

The butcher is making pork sausages.  They'll be cooked and ready in half an hour. Rather than wait we opt for a Roti de Poulet Farcie to take home. Sophie reluctantly agrees although she's quite willing - indeed keen - to wait for the sausages to be cooked and ready.

So starts a quiet 'off season' Monday morning in a part of France that is so remote it's rarely - if ever - ' in season' 

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Language skills needed.

An admonitory look from Sophie this morning. She wonders why Angus takes so long to get ready.

The donkeys are at the bottom of their field and ignore us. The same can't be said for the horses.

They are particularly friendly this morning . Sophie isn't overly happy to be at the receiving end of their attention. Horses can seem so big when close up. Much better to maintain some distance.

Off to the Sunday morning market to buy some flowers ...

... and some bread.

An interesting sign of the times. We see three people wearing face masks. The French radio coverage of the Corona virus outbreak has induced a state of anxiety amongst some of the locals. A case in Bordeaux has been reported. All three mask wearers have covered their mouths but not their noses. Angus wonders whether he should point out the illogicality of this but decides his French isn't up to the finer points of epidemiological transmission mechanisms. Angus and Sophie shall closely monitor how many locals are wearing face masks.

Saturday, January 25, 2020


Another grey January morning. The weather is behaving in a relatively civilized way. Wet and windy at night. Still and chill during the day. This morning the readout on the dog car dashboard incorrectly tells me it's an amazing 28 degrees . The dog car dashboard also has a less than endearing habit of randomly giving me directions to a pizza outlet in Wolfsburg. It is one of those 'last vehicle off the assembly line on a Friday' type cars.

Sophie and her master go to the bakers by the motorway pay station for a shared croissant. The cake selection today lacking in colour. The preponderance of brown may have something to do with everyone having spent all their money at Christmas and now compensating with a period of self denial.

Vin Jaune in the wine shop. Some folks swear by it. Angus thinks it tastes like hay infused water.

Sophie is in one of her ' wherever you go I shall go too ' moods.

This lasts until the family princess works out that 'The Font' is making a braised beef pie. After that there's no real competition. Angus is forsaken for the possibility of some discarded meat.

A style of singing much emulated by a younger generation of Celts.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Happy to be proved wrong.

Good morning from Sophie who starts her day looking almost respectable.

The supermarket entering into the spirit of the Chinese New Year with a display of improbably named Suzi Wan oriental products. These do not seem to be flying off the shelf. Probably something to do with the Wuhan coronavirus stories that dominate the morning radio show . The radio announcer tells us in a tone of disbelief that Wuhan has a population greater than Paris.

The Chinese aisles may be empty but there's a group of ladies carefully examining a large display of bags for hanging your ham haunches out to dry. Must be pig slaughtering time.

Two workmen are installing a new display cabinet near the exotic foods aisle. Waters of the World. You can now wash down your peanut butter or Polish gherkins with a bottle of Norwegian water at E5.90 for 3/4 litre. In a land where Evian is king I'm betting this will be a retail disaster but am happy to be proved wrong.

And a pitch perfect Scots song for tomorrows Burns night.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

An eternal verity.

The morning press does its best to make the Impeachment Trial seem exciting but distance adds perspective and everything seems pre-ordained. Sophie takes the view that the center is vanishing. She would talk about Cory Gardner but at this time of the morning has more pressing issues on her mind.

The Old Farmer didn't get as far with his newly acquired trailer as he'd hoped. It sits abandoned in front of his garage. He has returned to the market town twenty miles away and his new lady friend. He may reappear next week. The trailer is unlikely to be stolen.

A near trauma at the cafe. They've run out of croissants. The waitress tells Sophie that she's got to wait two minutes while a new batch comes out of the oven.  The same message is repeated for Angus.

The waitress returns five minutes later with not one but two piping hot croissants. ' They've got burnt ends ' she adds by way of explanation. Sophie has to wait a little longer for her curly ends to cool down. I explain to her that patience is a virtue. She seems unimpressed with this eternal verity preferring the instant gratification approach to life.

Back in the village the three tree stump Christmas reindeer are still in place on the village green. Perhaps they will become a permanent feature ?

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

The hotel.

Sophie joins me in the office and fixes me with her patented ' Let's not dawdle inside when we could be out in the cold chasing C-A-T-S ' look.

The Old Farmer has re-appeared. Today, he will be repairing the axle on a trailer that he's picked up at auction. He will rejoin his lady friend tonight after ensuring the Christmas lights around his gutters are working. He's recently wired them to a motion detector so that they ( and the Christmas star on a pole ) light up if anyone tries to climb the steps to the balcony. The flaw in this plan is the presence of the local cats who use the terrace as a love nest. They trigger the sensor each time they clamber up the stairs. In the wee hours the village can be as bright as Coney Island on Labor Day ..... and as noisy.

Angus and Sophie are shown how our neighbour plans to replace a flange, put on a new tyre and then take the recently purchased trailer off for a quick respray. '' It will fetch a good price with a little bit of work done on it ''. Angus and Sophie look at the rust on the trailer and what appears to be a gaping hole in its side and admire his optimism. The Old Farmer intends to use the proceeds from the sale to take his lady friend to Marseilles for a weekend in May. ' We'll stay in a hotel' he adds . This is clearly going to be an almost no expense spared trip away. The choice of a hotel may indicate that the venerable Ford Transit motor home is no longer functioning. It is equally possible that his lady friend has declared it a health hazard.

After all this excitement Sophie spends much of the morning catching up on her beauty sleep outside the front door.

Just another day in a little French village where nothing ever happens apart from those things that make life, life.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

' Come to the place for which our fathers sighed '.

Cold this morning. Minus two according to the readout on the dashboard of the dog car. Sophie is indifferent to the chilly start to the day. A C-A-T has been spotted on one of the benches by the swimming pool. She hares off after it.

When the weather warms up the family diva is set for a major trim. Her hair has developed the thickness and texture of that faux asbestos wool used to insulate roof spaces. We would consider sending her to a groomer but the only time she went was not a success . Sophie is of that ' You think you're going to come near me with that blow drier ? Think again !!!! ' type of dog.  The groomer would phone us and say that our little angel was 'lively'. 'Lively' is groomer talk for 'snarling fiend'. 

Loic comes to blow leaves. Loic wanders round happily with Sophie following on behind redistributing his handiwork. Both Loic and Sophie are, in their own ways, happy with this modus vivendi. Efficiency is not a byproduct of their arrangement.

Sophie and her master head off to the greengrocers.  Fortune Cookies are on sale today. What the denizens of deepest deepest France profonde will make of Fortune Cookies beggars belief. Angus tells Sophie that this must be peak globalization.

Martin Luther King day music. This is ( I think ) only sung in America  but has the rather wonderful line ' Come to the place for which our fathers sighed ' - as good a one line description of the human condition as any you'll find.