Friday, October 15, 2021

Borderline oblivious.

A sunny start to the day. While Angus checks the irrigation system Sophie guards the front door.

On our first walk of the day the young cows wander over to see us. Sophie is not overjoyed to see them. Our pace picks up.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse C-A-T is enjoying the warmth of the morning sunshine. C-A-T doesn't seemly overly alarmed by the presence of a ferocious dog in the house. In fact I'd say C-A-T was completely untroubled/ borderline oblivious to my canine companions presence. I don't have the heart to tell Sophie this news.

We're eating inside again. The weather nippy if not cold. Angus opens some wine for lunch. Opening a bottle three hours ahead of time makes all the difference. Sophie monitors me closely in the hope/belief that biscuits must surely be involved. Later this morning, and before lunch, Angus will take the dog car in for its service. I know it's time for a service because the dashboard has a doom laden message telling me how many kilometres I can go before 'attention is required'.


Thursday, October 14, 2021

30 seconds.

Angus is scheduled to go to the hospital for the quarterly check up following his wisteria pruning tumble from the ladder. As a result Sophie is up and out earlier than usual for a tour of the village and a drink from the waterfall. As we walk we chat away on the i-Phone to the Manhattanites. They are becoming worried about two things. Taiwan and the likelihood of US Presidential politics throwing up a rematch of 2020 . The two issues may become intertwined.

Angus thinks he must have been given the first appointment of the day but there are already a dozen or so folk waiting to get registered. All of them are wearing masks. They wear them so that they cover the nose. Anyone who doesn't wear them correctly is reprimanded by a stern young lady in blue scrubs.

After four tests to and a peremptory meeting with the specialist Angus is discharged. ' Your tests seem fine. Come back in six months' says the doctor with an off handedness that Anglo-Saxon ears might find brusque. He then, without looking up from his computer screen, points towards the door. This is as good a way as any of signaling that the appointment is over. 'The Font' observes that Angus should be grateful .Peremptory doctors meetings are infinitely preferable to long ones. An hours worth of tests and the thirty second  'consultation' come to the grand total of E81:71.

Back in the village an overjoyed Sophie is reunited with her master. A tour of the village ensues. The German billionaires builders are busy reroofing one of the original medieval houses. Much of the original structure seems to have 'crumbled' in the process.

No prizes for who is waiting for our return home. Sophie is again oblivious to C-A-T-S presence. Presumably her fringe prevents her from seeing anything above her . C-A-T seems to know this.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021


Sophie is asleep when I come downstairs. It's colder in the mornings now and she's more than happy to remain snuggled up on her blanket. She wakes ( or to be more precise is woken ) and has a tour of the garden. This morning the large brown fox that lives in the wild orchid field is trudging home through the orchard. There is a PONette 'moment' . Sophie hurtles, head back and howling towards the intruder. The intruder wisely makes off at high speed. The donkeys in the new mayors barn hear the commotion and make their own contribution to the pre-dawn noise.

After this adrenalin rush the family diva naps by the front door in the early morning sunshine. Her inner karma is soon restored.

Her nap is followed by a trip to the river. This morning the local Lycee's first XV are out on the rugby pitch. Sophie wanders over to see them, gets some ear scrunches, then wanders back. No one has brought biscuits which for a PONette is an unconscionable social failing.

Finally, her morning tour of the village. This morning we pass the pregnant cows. They are placid beasts and aren't nearly as frightening as the young ones we saw on yesterdays walk. Sophie strides by them with a purposeful air.

After that two delivery men drop off parcels and the garden company comes to quote on replacing lavenders, putting down new bark and laying some new turf under the palm tree. It goes without saying that the family diva shows a keen interest in everything.

So starts a new day with a Polish Lowland Sheepdog in deepest, deepest France profonde.

The 70's were a different universe :

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Rich hunting.

Sophie's day starts off well but takes a turn for the worse as a herd of boisterous young cows head towards us. All pretense at sitting on the storm drain and putting the world to rights disappears. The young cows are at that month old age where their movements are rapid, inelegant and enthusiastic. They demonstrate an uncoordinated joy for life.

We're soon past this inquisitive audience and as far as Sophie is concerned things are looking brighter. The family diva is congratulated for dipping into her reservoir of bravery.

At the cafe a good, if not outstanding, croissant. Probably an hour and a half out of the oven. I give it 8.5/10. Sophie gives it a 12. We are the only ones to venture outside onto the cafe terrace in these 10 degree temperatures.

A detour to the frozen food store for some petit pois. Today, there is a special on American snacks.

Back home to The Rickety Old Farmhouse. C-A-T is sitting on the terrace enjoying the warmth of the morning sun . I'd like to think C-A-T had formed some type of empathy with us but 'The Font' has seen a field mouse in the kitchen and I saw one scurry through the front door. C-A-T may have discovered that the environs of The Rickety Old Farmhouse are rich hunting grounds for native varieties of mouse seeking the warmth of central heating.

 Would you enjoy this ? :  

Beeswax candles that burn without oily smoke are increasingly hard to find :

Monday, October 11, 2021

A friendlier tone.

A walk across the car park to the greengrocers. New  - rather stylish - parking spots for families have been installed. Sophie stops to briefly see what the strange white markings are. The radio tells us there may be a gas shortage this winter but not to worry as prices are frozen until May ( this not surprisingly is a month after the Presidential elections ). The Russian ambassador is also on the radio saying that the 'gas problem' could soon be resolved if the EU adopted a 'friendlier' tone with Russia. Hmmmm.

Papayas make an appearance. One has been sliced in two and each half tightly wrapped in cellophane. Is this to show the locals what a papaya looks like inside ? Or is one papaya sacrificed for potential customers who might not want a whole one ? More probably one has been bruised and they want to sell it quickly.  The two slices of lime are an exotic addition.

French retailing is an art. Grapes are laid out on beds of straw. No  plastic cartons here. Seedless grapes are also something that the French seem not to care for.

The weather warmer than last week. Sophie looks vaguely ( the emphasis being on vaguely ) like a PON. Experience and observation prove that humidity is the trigger for bad hair days.

We are observed from the courtyard wall. C-A-T watches Sophie follow me round the garden. Sophie remains happily ignorant of this visitors presence.

This video of the Japanese puffer fish is simply  amazing  :

Another hotel re-opens. This one close to the Wee House :

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Too focused to notice.

A cloudy Sunday morning in France profonde. Sophie and Angus do an early morning tour of the village. As we walk Angus talks to his companion about the resignation of the Austrian Chancellor on corruption allegations. We then move on to the Polish Supreme Courts ruling that some aspects of the EU treaty are at odds with the Polish Constitution. Sophie listens intently to both issues but I have a suspicion she's more interested in the tantalizing scents that have appeared on the verges overnight.

Back at home Sophie waits for 'The Font' to finish with the glass yogurt pot. Then she's loaded into the back of the car en route to the good bakers. This morning we have to wait for the croissants to come out of the oven. When the bakers wife brings them to our table they're so hot that Sophie has to sit and wait for them to cool down. Patience , when it comes to waiting for croissant ends, is not something that comes naturally to my shaggy companion. She shuffles from one side to the other and emits barely perceptible bleating noises.

The bakers wife might be pregnant again. I base this observation purely on the fact that the display cabinet is suddenly full of rather mundane chocolate products that look as though they might be there to meet a 'craving'.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse no need to guess who is in the process of making themselves comfortable . Sophie is too focused on rushing indoors to see if the yogurt pot has refilled itself to notice.

 This seems a very sensible way of post pandemic eating. Dining as it will be ? :

Saturday, October 9, 2021


The last of the sunflower fields waiting to be harvested.  They look rather forlorn after last weeks rain. Let's hope the ground dries out so that the combines can come in and clear them out. Despite the early hour flocks of starlings are happily feasting on the seed heads. All the trans-Atlantic flights seem to be arriving in parallel this morning - which is unusual. No less than five of them pass by, in a straight line,  as we wander down to the waterfall in the valley.

After half an hour we head off in the dog car to the greengrocers. On the outskirts of the village we get stuck behind the grass cutting tractor.  The donkey and the mule don't seem to notice the noxious smoke it's churning out. The tractor driver is completely oblivious to our presence which makes progress slow.

At the modern ' American ' style bakers the morning croissant looks the part but certainly doesn't have the taste or texture to be a contender. 6.5/10.  Sophie gets a tour of the shopping centre car park  which she considers to be the height of sophistication.  The family diva chases the Mallards outside the electrical store and is disappointed to find that a discarded burger box is completely empty. Not even a slice of cold pickle has been left.

Last week there were no apples to be found in the greengrocers. Today, there's nothing but. All local. Granny Smiths with their tartness make a welcome reappearance.

Scroll down . You'll know the picture that made Angus laugh when you see it :

Hotel e-mail du jour. Very New England :

Friday, October 8, 2021


Today is not a lie in bed day. It is a ' You must get up now ! ' morning. Sophie hears a C-A-T in the garden and shrieks enthusiastically at 5:59 am. Angus is up at six. By six thirty he's done a tour of the garden with the family diva, has showered, dressed and engaged in a brief phone call with three late to bed Manhattanites. Submarines are once again a topic of conversation.

One particularly audacious cow presents a challenge on our post breakfast morning walk. The cow is standing on one side of the drainage ditch. Sophie is on the other. It's not actually on the lane but it might as well be. Stress levels rise.

For a  moment or two Sophie is frozen to the spot in horror.

Some words of encouragement and the inducement of a carrot sliver and she's soon left the interlopers behind. Ear tickles are dispensed. Sophie positions herself so that Angus is between her and these enormous beasts. From a distance of thirty yards she turns and glares at them. They may as well know who's in charge of this valley. The cows seem unperturbed .

This, rather surprising, piece of music is played on the radio this morning. Not what you'd expect to hear in the depths of the French countryside. Ideal for listening to with the windows down and the PONettes ears flying up in the wind :

The 'Wee house' is once again occupied :

Wave of the future ? Chef is a robot :

Thursday, October 7, 2021


Another chilly, clear skied, start to the day. The PONette uses her tried and tested ' If I ignore him he'll go away' ruse . She is 'cajoled' into getting up. I put her harness on. She returns to her bed. Stubbornness is a PON trait. Sophie has it in spades. She sighs theatrically, in fact very theatrically, as she settles down again. No wonder she is known as the family diva.

In the valley we enjoy the fresh breeze blowing in from the mountains. Angus marvels at the sun rise and watches the morning wave of widebodies reaching land after their long haul across the Atlantic. Another hour and they'll be disgorging their passengers in Munich and Vienna and Milan. Sophie is much more interested in a group of deer that are standing doing nothing in a neighbouring field. We discuss the proposed virtual meeting between Xi and Biden before moving onto the shenanigans over the US national debt. Sophie finds something 'wonderful' in a grass verge.

Back home via the village green. There's a hint of smoke in the air. The Anger Management Man has a wood fire going in his kitchen stove. Last night we turned on the heating for the first time since April. The year rolls gently on.

Outside The Rickety Old Farmhouse there is a quick check to make sure there are no C-A-T-S lurking in the flower beds.

The daily routine of a sheepdog and her family in deepest ( and I mean deepest ) France profonde.

This mornings 'blast from the past' courtesy of the local radio station :

Cuba is opening up to tourists. The style is very different  :

Wednesday, October 6, 2021

Non existent

Wet and windy outside. Sophie, who is usually up by six, opts to sleep in a little later. She keeps her eyes firmly closed in the belief that if she can't see me I don't exist.

By the time we get back from the river The Old Farmer is up and about. Today, despite the rain, is a day for working on the venerable Ford Transit motor home. The brake pads are checked and the engine turned over. He informs me that he's taking it for a spin to the supermarket in the market town. ' The open road will soon blow the cobwebs away '. Angus can't help but think that blowing the cobwebs away from the motor homes interior might be a good idea. This however is probably not what is meant. 

I've noticed of late that our neighbour seems to have developed strange hours. Last night his house was completely dark until ten when , suddenly, every light was switched on. 'The Font' thinks he dozes off in front of his new widescreen television  and then wakes up and makes something to eat. This is a routine that is repeated through the night.  Yesterday morning he had the lights on in his garage , and the Mercedes up on a ramp at five thirty. 

After our chat with The Old Farmer Sophie heads off to the zinc bath under the pomegranate tree for a lengthy drink.

Windows down song of the day :

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

The stoic PONette.

Good morning from Sophie who is full of beans and ready to get her day started.  Today, for the first time there's a hint of winter, rather than autumn,  in the morning air. By the end of the week the heating will be on . For a PON this is perfect weather. The Old Mayor stops to say that he set the first fire of the year in his kitchen grate so we're not alone in noting this turn in the weather.

No less than three e-mails this morning suggesting I place Christmas orders now to avoid possible 'shortages'. Whoever would have thought that supply chains would become a topic of conversation to rival the weather ? Post Brexit Britain is a place of surprises.

After a trot along the valley floor we climb back up the ox track to The Rickety Old Farmhouse. Sophie is in need of a grooming. Mud is removed from paw pads and long hair plucked from ears. This later procedure is the cause of much stoic sighing and irritated squirming. Dogs like children, are unhappy recipients of that time worn phrase ' It's for your own good'.

After her grooming it's time to head off for a visit to the frozen food store. Today we marvel at frozen frogs legs and frozen Mochis.

Rather mundanely we restrict our purchases to a bag of frozen peas.

By now the tepid sun is out and it's 10 degrees. Once again dog and master are the only ones who will venture outdoors onto the cafe patio. This mornings croissant a more than adequate 8.8/10 although it seems to have suffered in its post oven treatment and is rather battered. Sophie scores it 12/10 but wonders why croissant ends seem to be so skimpy.

Black and white C-A-T is having a nap in a flower border by the front door. Sophie is oblivious to its presence. Black and white C-A-T has taken to giving me a ' You might at least bring out a saucer of milk' look.

So starts another day of high adventure with a Polish Lowland Sheepdog in a part of the world where nothing, but nothing, ever happens.

Our journey along the motorway is accompanied by this 1950's classic on Radio Nostalgie :