Monday, August 31, 2020

A concoction.

The last day of August. How can that be ? Whoever coined the phrase ' time flies' was a master of understatement. 'The Font' observes that it's coming on eight months since either of us flew anywhere. You'd need to go back fifty years to find either of us this air-phobic.

A long chat with men in dark suits. Although of different political persuasions they all seem to agree on the likely Electoral College result in the November election.

A walk along the ridge as the sun rises. Then off to the cafe for the morning croissants. Today we choose the cafe with the audacious sparrows and the large outside seating area. Sophie opts to ignore the sparrows who flutter around in front of her ( but wisely a couple of feet away ). Todays croissant has a surprising elegance which warrants a 9.2/10.

A bizarre cake which could either be a mandarin orange and strawberry combination or equally a tinned peach and strawberry concoction.

We choose a strawberry tart for lunch.

At the greengrocers they have now provided black plastic tongs to pick up the peppers. Angus notes that the older shoppers still use their hands to squeeze the produce. Today we forego buying peaches. They have been handled by at least half a dozen people before we can get to them. Is there any fruit that responds so badly to being manhandled as peaches ? They bruise if you so much as look at them.

A hotel with a dog menu. How great is that ? There again , maybe all menus are dog menus :

Sunday, August 30, 2020

Flattened hair

Someone has been asleep on her back. The flattened hair is the clue. I choose not to say anything.

Chilly this morning. For the first time in five months our morning walk round the village is delayed while I layer up.

By the crossroads a field of late planted sunflowers still in bloom. All the others have dried out and are turning brown. The year having drifted slowly into high summer has now picked up its pace and is racing towards autumn.

Todays croissant a good 9.2/10.  We are the only customers at the cafe. By the time we leave the suns rays are just developing a pleasant warmth.

Back in the village The New Mayor has opened up the town hall for a start of day marriage. At least 30 people are crammed into an office that can sensibly hold 6. Angus wonders why, amid a resurgent pandemic, TNM hasn't switched the ceremony to the village hall where there is plenty of room ? 

Interesting :

Weird but strangely kool - luv the music :

Alternative choral :

Saturday, August 29, 2020


Some mornings can simply be exhausting.

Overly attentive cows ...

 .... en masse, can ruin the start to any day.

The best thing for a girl to do is regain her composure by fishing for minnows.

Yesterday, some more wine was delivered, Loic came to blow leaves and a new television arrived from the electronics shop. Today will be spent trying to get Netflix working. In a corner of France where the internet connection is channeled along a copper wire this may prove to be 'challenging'. Our 30 minutes pre-dinner with a glass of wine and an episode of Parks and Recreation has now come to an end. We've seen every one of the seven seasons in the box set.  We've also seen all of Modern Family and have tried Portlandia and a series set in Philadelphia starring Danny de Vito. These latter two failed to entertain and were abandoned early.

Friday, August 28, 2020


At six thirty in the morning Venus hangs high in the eastern sky. I don't think I've ever seen it as bright as this. As brilliant as the Kohinoor diamond. Quite remarkable. The owls, who have been quiet for the last two, possibly three months, are back. The cooler morning air has made them talkative. 

We have managed to delay doing anything about replacing the dog car. It's too hot to be standing in a showroom discussing engine options. 'The Font' thinks we should see the Volvo salesman first. He has of course taken the whole of August off . 

The court case between the man with anger management issues and the German billionaires builder has been postponed. It was originally due to be heard mid-August but was re-scheduled for early September. With so many of the court staff having to work from home because of the  pandemic the date has been delayed again . A new date will be agreed upon shortly. The villagers are divided into two camps over this - those who do work at the chateau and those who don't. For our part we continue to adhere to the ' We no speakee the French so good ' response to the legal dispute.

After the thunderstorms a small trickle of water has re-energized the little stream in the valley. Sophie has discovered that she can now look over the lip of the waterfall. This, for a PON girl, is a task of great deering do.

We wander back along the old Roman road and then cut up through the sunflower fields to the ridge.

Friday morning things to do in Paris when life returns to normal -

Chocolates :

Always a queue :

Meringues are a thing :

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Total conviction.

Cloudy, hot and steamy. We saunter by the cows in the valley. Sophie deals with their presence by ignoring them. Or at least trying to. She prudently positions Angus between her and the cows. 

Today is a pouncing in the small pools of water and shrieking loudly day. Sophie then returns to the back of the car via  a game of hide and seek in the sunflower fields.  I make the general observation that  she looks as if she's been enjoying herself. The look I receive in return may best be described as 'disdainful'.

The Old Farmer appears at the gate asking if the charger for his movie camera has arrived yet. I reassure him that it's been ordered but that it typically takes more than 24 hours for an order to be placed, filled and despatched. 

It will be his 89th birthday on February 5th. There are plans for a great celebration. We are invited. He's wonders if the village hall will be available for letting by then ?  'I'm sure it will be ' I reply with near total conviction.

Just another sleepy day in a small village in France in high summer.

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

High summer.

We pause by the pike pond to stare at the frogs. Sophie considers giving chase but decides its just too hot. The frogs remain unperturbed.

The Old Farmer wanders over to the front gate. He's holding a 30 year old movie camera. His lady friend has lost the charger unit and he wonders if I could get on that ' internet ' thing and order him a replacement.  Angus says he'll be only too happy to oblige. When was the last time you saw a movie camera ? A real blast from the past.

A quick chat with men in dark suits. We discover that the latest term for the  trajectory of the American economy is a 'K' shaped recovery. It's 'K' shaped because one arms is bouncing back quickly while the other arm is in free fall.

3 twitter links :

Why would you want to swim this close to a shark this big ? :

Best advert for a hotel, ever ? :

Gratuitous dog stuff :

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


One of those French village days in high summer when the sun beats down, the sunflowers droop, dogs doze in the shade and little else happens.

The Old Mayor and the Old Deputy Mayor hold their atelier on scarecrow design in the Salle de Fetes. This is an excuse for the two of them to open a bottle of wine and sit out on the petanque court under the shade of a plane tree. They read the local newspaper aloud to each other. The scarecrow design element of their day seems to have been forgotten. In the afternoon Monsieur Bay and his friends from the retired gendarmes association join them.  More wine is consumed and more memories of their national service in Algeria during the ' late unpleasantness' resurface. An accordion appears and they venture into song. As the afternoon progresses the melodies slow to reflect a wistful mix of memories, old age and slightly more wine more than is prudent . Visits to the village hall WC are frequent. They disperse when wives/ daughters/ grand daughters arrive to tell them it's dinner time.

The New Mayor has set up a directory of ' Nouveaux acteurs economiques'. This is a list of all the village tradespeople and a description of what they can do. A useful tool for those who don't want to venture into the market town during the pandemic. The lady at the crossroads has set herself up as a 'Coiffure a domicile' while the man who empties septic tanks will also do floor and kitchen tiling during these ' conditions particulieres'. The New Mayor informs me that he's decided that there won't be an increase in property taxes this year. As the Chateau and The Rickety Old Farmhouse seem to bear the brunt of local taxes I'm delighted with this news.

Sophie and Angus take a walk down the hill to the waterfall first thing in the morning ... and last thing at night. By the time we get home from our evening walk it's getting dark. Autumn is almost knocking at the door.

We used to have a flat in Edinburgh next to the Castle. It's good to know the Festival is still going on - albeit virtually :

Monday, August 24, 2020

Car hunting

Last week there were on average 2 cases of the virus recorded  in our deeply unfashionable departement. Over the weekend the numbers have risen to 30 a day. A reminder that the virus should be treated with  respect. 

The recent thunderstorms have replenished the little stream. They've also made the path down the hill decidedly guttery. Sophie's 4 wheel drive gets her through the slippery mud rather more rapidly than her master. Every so often she turns to urge her companion to keep up.

By this stage of the year the blog should have been full of visits to far away places to see family and friends. 2 trips to DC and visits to Edinburgh and Tokyo all delayed. Instead life  has fallen into a gentle routine of walks, shared croissants and 'put the world to rights'  conversations on the storm drain.

On Thursday the little VW, which has always suffered from some sort of electronic demon, decided to go to a new level of electronic weirdness. We've got used to the sat nav giving us directions to pizza parlors in Wolfsburg. Now, the safety systems have taken to  randomly signalling the arrival of the apocalypse. Buzzers buzz and bells go tring-a ling at unexpected moments. 'The Font' finds this disconcerting. So does Angus. 'The Font' thinks we should get a small Volvo to go with the big one. Angus thinks this may be a rather Swedo-centric view of car purchasing. 

Angus explains the situation to Sophie. Today we're sharing our morning croissant in the cafe with the audacious sparrows. The croissant is unedifyingly dull - 6.6/10 - but todays cake selection hints at better days to come. Angus is not so sure about the strawberry and plum combination so we leave without making a purchase. Sophie thinks this is lunacy. 

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Onto Russia !

A ' What is it you want ?' start to the day look from Sophie who is enjoying the cool air after last nights mountain storm.  Female PONs leave you in no doubt as to what they're thinking. No doubt at all. 

As we head out along the lane we meet The Old Farmer. His lady friend is still asleep. Seems that three days on the open road, in the heat, in the motorhome was just about enough. For his most recent adventure The Old Farmer had embellished  the rear of the venerable Ford Transit motorhome with signs outlining his plans to take  his lady friend on a tour of Napoleons battle fields. Wherever and whenever they stopped strangers would chat about what he's doing , where he's going and what route he was planning to take. After 72 hours the lady friend tired of hearing him repeat the story for the umpteenth time. The Old Farmer seems oblivious to the fact that his passion for history - and a trip across France to Belgium on a battlefield pilgrimage -  might not be shared. Angus has to quietly think this is quite an audacious undertaking for an almost 88 year old. Equally so for his 85 year old lady friend.

Our croissant this morning a 7.9/10. 

We consider buying a cake for lunch but the sight of Kiwi fruit as a topping puts Angus off. 

Had never heard of Electric Screen Syndrome  - until now :


Saturday, August 22, 2020

Too hot to write.

Hot again. We're out at six thirty in what should be the cool morning air. Sophie follows along at her own pace. At this time of the day the path is still full of fresh deer and fox scents which Sophie needs to savour. Our progress is leisurely.

It's far from cool. the sun barely up and its already 26 degrees and claggy. When we get down into the valley we find that the stream and waterfall have finally given up the ghost. Sophie gives me that unmistakable ' Do something !' look. This is the same look she gives me when the yogurt pot refuses to refill itself. 

We wander, slowly, back up the ox track to The Rickety Old Farmhouse.  Sophie gets a frozen strawberry yogurt cube and has a drink that goes on forever. Soon we'll put all the windows down in the little car and head off for our morning croissant.

So starts at scorching Saturday in deepest, deepest France profonde. A day when it's too hot to think.... or blog.

Great pictures of dogs in todays WaPo :

I'm sure this will be a best seller and spawn a 4 program series on PBS .Harvards top astronomer thinks aliens have coming visiting.  :

Croissant lovers will wish to go here when travel is once again easy. In the meantime click on the patisserie button and marvel at the 'framboise and lait d'amandes'  :

Friday, August 21, 2020

A strong wind blowing.

'Good morning' from Sophie who is keen to get her day started. In fact she's super keen to get her day started. There's a strong wind blowing which gives her that 'fluffed up' look.

The morning uneventful. A few pilgrims wander through on horseback. They clip clop past the gate and then head off to the WC at the village hall.

The cafe croissant served in a paper bag. The little wicker trays in storage until the pandemic is over. 4800 new cases reported yesterday. This is a shock and takes us back to levels seen in March. The school kids have been told that mask wearing in class will be obligatory for those who are eleven or older. 

Todays croissant gets a 9/10 . The council dustbin men say goodbye to Sophie but she's too busy searching under the table looking for crumbs to talk to them . From the enthusiastic way she's crumb hunting  I reckon my fluffy companions scored this mornings  offering a 15/10. 

While its still cool we have a second quick walk through the sunflower fields.  Angus was supposed to go to the dentist this morning but he's put off aerosol procedures for a while. This second wave won't change our routines much but we will treat the virus with distant respect.This afternoon ' The Font' has an appointment with the specialist in Toulouse. We briefly consider cancelling but will simply be very careful. Toulouse alongside Paris and Lyon is designated a 'red spot.

A tough woman :

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Flicked a switch.

For the last three months there have been no contrails in the sky. This morning it's as if someone's flicked a switch. The horizon crisscrossed with aircraft from all corners of the compass. Is everyone back at work ? Or, has there been a sudden departure from the beaches of Spain and Greece ?

The Old Farmer shows up while Sophie is out on her first walk of the day. By the time we get back home the venerable Ford Transit motorhome, complete with 1945 era trailer,  is parked by his front door. There is no sign of either The Old Farmer or his lady friend.  We will have to wait to hear the story of their travels and her frequent changes of wardrobe.

After our walk its off in the car with the windows down. Todays croissant looks unexciting, and is. 6.3/10. Sophie gives me a look that says ' If you don't like it I'll have it'.

The choice of cakes puts the hum back into humdrum.

A mystery solved ? :