Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Not this morning.

We're up late watching the debate . A  nerve jarring way to pass some time. On the bright side you'd have to say it gave a good insight into the characters of the two men. In that sense it did what it was supposed to do.  After the excitement Angus sleeps in and our walk round the village is twenty minutes delayed . There is much for Sophie and Angus to talk about at the storm drain.  By the time we return home from the morning walk the post lady is at the front gate with a parcel from America. Three bottles of Zymox. A must have for owners of long eared dogs. French customs have chosen to add $30 per bottle import tax on something that should retail for $7 or $8  -  presumably to safeguard the French domestic dog ear cleaner industry. 

The good news is that Sophie doesn't have her ears cleaned this morning. She is not a fan of ear cleaning.

Great excitement in the village yesterday. The municipal  painting team arrive for their annual 'refurbishment' of the villages three speed bumps. One is outside The Rickety Old Farmhouse, one outside the chateau and a double one in front of the war memorial. The speed bumps do not seem to deter French drivers who view them as a challenge to be slalomed over at high  speed.

Sophie spends her afternoon guarding the house against possible intrusions by the gentlemen of the speed bump painting team. A PON girls life is one of high adventure and constant vigilance

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Dry underfoot.

Up early to talk to men in dark suits. What surprises will October bring ? Will Iran do something wild ? Will Kim test a missile ? Will Putin agree to an unexpected arms control deal ? 

Sunshine and warmth on our morning walk.  It's dry underfoot so we head off through the village, down the hill and then along the old Roman Road.

The cows that have been happily doing nothing get on their feet as we approach. Sophie lowers her head and doubles her pace. We trot by at hyper speed. Sophie is a great believer in the view that if you don't look at cows they'll go away.

After that excitement a side trip to the stream. You'd have thought that after the torrential rain over the weekend it might be in full spate but it's flowing away quietly. I can only assume the ground has been so parched by the long summer drought that it's simply soaked up the water.

Loic the heavily bifocaled gardener shows up to blow leaves. He usually comes on a Wednesday and Friday but Monday works just fine for us. Sophie follows him round burrowing in the leaf piles.

The Volvo garage phones to say the metallic cold porridge coloured car has arrived. 'Can I transfer the balance owing ?' In the UK this would be easy. In France it requires a couple of phone calls ,a 'secure message' to the bank, a 'secure message' back and a scanned copy of the transaction receipt to the garage together with 3 utility bills as proof of identity. 


Monday, September 28, 2020

A squeal.

Wet and cloudy. With the number of Covid cases in France still rising we decide to alter our morning routine. We skip the cafe and opt for the drive through bakers instead. This is the first time we've done this.

Dog and master enjoy our morning croissant in the car park. Angus moves to the passenger seat and Sophie sits on the tarmac by the side of the car. We chat happily away although to passers by we must appear a bizarre sight. Angus pulls a muscle in his neck while trying to take a photo of the croissant and cup of coffee. The older you get the fewer things you can do in a car without straining something. Sophie finds the car park to be a place of great interest. She think's she sees a rat under a bush. This is a cause for a head back, tail high squeal. Before this can be confirmed Sophie is attached to her lead and 'encouraged' back to the Volvo. The croissant is a lackluster 6/10. Although far from flakey it still manages to produce crumbs that cover the seat and the carpet.

A quick detour to the fancy greengrocers. We're the first in and the first out. Angus notices lemon flavoured yogurts. They don't seem to be selling.

The greengrocers shelves have that first thing on a Monday morning empty look. There are however masses of radishes.

Back in the village 'The Font' has found four rather sad looking sunflowers. The breakfast table enlivened by what are truly the last of the summer crop.

So starts a Monday morning amid the strange routines of a pandemic. Sophie of course is ignorant of human concerns - she's just determined to get on and enjoy life.

Sunday, September 27, 2020

A longer walk.

What a difference a week makes. Warm summer nights suddenly replaced by non-stop downpours and temperatures that would make any Hebridean feel at home. The central heating is switched on. It makes a banging noise not unlike the noise made by the AMC Pacer that Angus and 'The Font' attempted to drive across America in when they were impoverished students. The noise soon stops.

Into the newsagent to buy the local paper. The shop is quiet. As I get to the counter to pay three hunters, without masks, come and stand behind me. They are in the midst of a lengthy and loud conversation. As I turn to see what the noise is one of the men has a coughing fit. He doesn't think to cover his mouth. A reminder that there are a lot of folks out there who just don't get it. No wonder case numbers here in France are soaring. French hunters, it has to be said, are a particularly arrogant breed. Angus is incensed enough to say something. They look surprised but unrepentant. ' We don't need to wear masks. We live here'.  The inference being that I'm not local.

The wind whipping the water out of the gutters. What a morning. Angus gets soaked. While he changes his shoes and trousers Sophie, who has been towelled dry,  makes it plain she's ready to head off for a longer walk.

 Who'd have thought it ? :

Who'd have thought it (2) ? :

Who'd have thought it (3) ? :

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Barks and whimpers.

No mistaking the PONettes ' Get a move on ' look. The temperatures this week now down into the high teens. What a change from just a week ago when summer still lingered on. The central heating man will be here on Monday and the chimney sweep some time later in the week. I'm less confident about the chimney sweep showing up - ' I'm very busy but I'll be there by Friday'.

As Angus laces up his shoes Sophie positions herself to make it clear that tardiness in getting out of the front door is not an option. Non dog people sometimes hold the opinion that dogs only communicate via barks and whimpers. How wrong they are.

A real red sky in the morning start to the day.  Village goats, donkeys , chickens and horses all greeted. Time for a lengthy drink from a puddle in the road in front of  the house at the crossroads.

Another must read book arrives in the morning post.  New Blogger opts to insert this photo of it upside down which must be some sort of reminder that technology has its whimsical side. The story of the UK's previous ambassador to the US and his dismissal from office for a somewhat  'candid' view of our closest ally. Interestingly, despite being brought up in social housing, and from a troubled home he moved seamlessly to the top of the diplomatic corps. His subsequent treatment reflects badly on his political masters .

 Wooly mammoths in Herefordshire. Thank heavens for things like this :

A golden oldie translated into French :

Friday, September 25, 2020

Those two words.

A fresh bowl of water to start the day. The leaves falling thick and fast. It's decidedly raw and chill this morning. The time of the year when those two dreaded words spring to mind - ' central heating'.

Angus can't help but observe that this morning  the family diva is sporting a rather 'wild' look.

We stop on the storm drain and put the world to rights. Sophie leans into me and has her chin tickled. She squeals with delight and leans in closer to make sure I don't stop. The locals passing on their way to work have got used to the sight of a strange foreigner sitting with his legs dangling over the storm drain talking away to a furry companion. This may explain why 'The Font' is treated with great sympathy by all the locals.

Angus has been ordering more wine. He views this as practical preparation for a long winter lockdown. Three cases are delivered just fine. Three others have liquid stains underneath - a sure sign something is awry. I refuse to accept them. The  young lady courier driver  says ' I'd refuse them too '.  That makes life much easier. Let the courier company deal with the hassle of explaining the breakages. Angus estimates that ordering wine online costs 20% less than buying from the wine merchant . 

Shortly after the wine delivery woman goes the post lady arrives. She looks at the wine but says nothing.  Perhaps she thinks I talk to Sophie on the storm drain then return home for a breakfast bottle of Burgundy ?

This is a book I've heard good things about and will start reading today.

The young garagiste has become a father. We've seen him graduate from motorcycle to motorbike then to sporty little Citroen with a raspy exhaust. Now he has a practical if ageing BMW four door saloon with a baby seat in the back. This music blasts out as he passes and waves. A tune that can be heard everywhere in France :

This is a question I'd never considered :

 'The Font' informs me about this over breakfast.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Still not smooth.

Angus and New Blogger are still having settling in disagreements. The tech version of the human ' Why can't you put the cap back on the toothpaste tube ?'  type disagreement. This morning all the photos are downloaded from our morning walk. They then disappear completely and irretrievably.  Here instead is a photo of an impatient Sophie sitting in the back of the car and waiting to head off for some curly  croissant ends. The way the Covid numbers are rising we shall have to give serious thought as to whether the morning trip to the cafe should be discontinued. It's not an issue while the outside terraces are open but will become so when the weather forces us indoors. Perhaps French cafes might start to invest in those large outside gas heaters ?

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Six feet high

The builder glides past in his large, new, shiny, all electric Mercedes van. He stops to say he's not forgotten us.  ' I'll be along in October M'Ongoose to finish off the work ' . ' Finish off ' is a glorious  and imprecise understatement. What he really means to say is ' I'll be along next month to put up the pergola that I promised to have completed in April '. M'Ongoose bites his tongue. Better late than never. 

Towels are laid in the hall for Sophie to lie on. She ignores the towels and opts to position herself at the front door, nose out, rump in. Soon, as the temperatures fall, she'll be ushered inside but for the time being this is her favourite spot. 

The old mayors grand daughter comes to the front gate to borrow two sets of stepladders. She slings a plank between them and is soon six feet off the ground trimming the ancient yew in the churchyard. You'd think there might be health and safety issues involved with a solitary young woman working six feet in the air , in the rain while trimming a yew with power shears. If there are she's oblivious to them. She waves as we pass on our morning walk. Sophie is delighted to discover that after the overnight rains the little stream is once again gurgling gently.

The gardeners return to finish off the laurel hedge along the lane. Much of this was trimmed on Saturday but for some reason the final 10% had to be left until this morning. M'Ongoose again bites his tongue.

'The Font' heads off to the local charity dog pound with old towels, poo bags, treats for the canine inhabitants and a cheque . These are all gratefully received. The cheque is particularly welcome. It is for the amount we've saved by not dining out over the last six weeks. A pandemic bonus.  'The Font' is better at going to the dog pound than Angus who would invite all the inhabitants  home. 16.000 dogs are abandoned every year in the UK. In France that number is close to 200,000. The dog pound ladies are saints.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Ironic humour

Rain has been promised for the last three days. It seems to have passed us by although the sky towards Bordeaux has looked dark and stormy..

This morning the anvil heads are building up and the sound of distant thunder punctuates our walk round the village. Although it's barely light it's already heavy and humid.  Sophie chases the village C-A-T-S and hunts for badgers poo in the long grass. The moorhens scatter into the safety of the overhanging shrubbery as we approach. It goes without saying that despite the blue sky overhead it starts to rain just as our walk reaches the furthest point from the front gate.

Both Angus ...

.... and his furry companion get soaked. Sopphie is towelled dry which ends up with her looking rather 'electric'.

This mornings FT says this is THE definitive version of this song :  . 

Should this be a surprise ? :

Monday, September 21, 2020

A new philosophy

Something about the light that tells you summer is coming to an end. The shadows longer, the colours softer. Sophie charges along the leaf filled drainage ditches - she loves the crunching noise they make when she ploughs through them.

On our morning walk we discover that not one but two tombstones had been vandalized. The stone mason has repaired one, the other still lies in two halves. In fact it lies in three parts. The base and body in the churchyard , the cross twenty metres down the lane on the other side of the churchyard wall. The churchyard is full. Angus wonders if this bout of vandalism is some scheme to free up space ?

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse Sophie takes up her position by the front door. This is the archetypical PON position. Nose out, rump in. From here she can monitor the passage of village life.

Most folks will be allowed to pass The Rickety Old Farmhouse unimpeded. Every so often an unsuspecting villager will saunter by only to be confronted by a vocal sheepdog standing on her hind legs at the front gate. Whistling or having shoes that make a 'click-clack' sound are dead certs to trigger this 'ferocious' guarding gene.

 From the BBC. The sound of dogs. Let's hope the link works. You'll need to click on at the 22 minute 15 second mark and keep listening for a minute or so.  Angus and New Blogger are still at the ' we speak different languages' stage of the relationship so this may not work :

 This tweet and the subsequent thread are true philosophy for the lockdown era :

Sunday, September 20, 2020


The heat of the past week has gone. Replaced by cloudy skies and a gentle  breeze. Late summer has segued into early autumn. Although it's seven am on a Sunday morning the local stonemason is sitting on the war memorial steps. He's  working on the stone cross that was broken off the tombstone in last weeks accident or act of vandalism. In a French village the churchyard is sacrosanct.

The cooler weather has brought out a motorcycle club. 30 of them congregate on the village green. They are all wearing helmets, apart from one man who seems to be some sort of organizer. Helmets are probably even better than masks as a Covid prophylactic.

Down in the valley the swallows are out in force. Hundreds of them. They dart backwards and forwards around Sophie. Swallows and House Martins used to do this to prior generations of PONs in Scotland. This is truly an amazing (and amusing) example of cross species communication. When they get tired the swallows sit on the telegraph wires while contentedly looking down at their furry playmate. All is well with the world.


Saturday, September 19, 2020

2020 ! What a year.

No trip to the bakers for us today. After our morning walk down to the, by now, arid stream bed we return to The Rickety Old Farmhouse to discover the gardeners are here en masse. It would have been nice of them to let us know they were coming..

Sophie is disheartened to find that mone of them has brought biscuits. Not a single one !

Four of the gardeners trim the cypress trees which continue to add a foot of height a year. We lost some of them in the strong Spring gales, so a haircut ahead of the winter storms is a good idea. Another team of gardeners start work on trimming the laurel hedge that runs for a hundred metres or so along the lane.

Sophie manages to get a quick second walk while the gardeners stop for a cup of coffee. Sophie is not greatly enamoured with a garden that echoes to the sound of half a dozen chain saws. She and her master head off to the calm of the Holy Well.  On our walk we discuss the Supreme Court. Who would believe 2020 could hold any more surprises ?