Sunday, January 31, 2021

The enormous condescension of posterity.

We walk down the hill to the waterfall.  Overnight it's rained so heavily that the water level has risen a good foot.

Sophie approaches the stream cautiously.  She decides that it's too risky to clamber down the slippery bank . She turns and retraces her steps to terra firma. She has a lengthy, and  satisfying, drink from a drainage ditch. A prudent PONette.

The moorhens are enjoying the wet weather. Three of them on the village pond this morning. They head into the undergrowth on the waters edge with an irritated squawk.

By the time we've made it back home a  strong wind has sprung up. This gives the family princess as 'windswept' look.

Scotland. A bridge and a train :-

This book review contains the line -  'He rescues moments such as the WWII government run daycare centers that allowed women to work, or the use of the power of the federal state to force through the integration of Southern hospitals, from the enormous condescension of posterity '.

Saturday, January 30, 2021


Up early talking to men in dark suits. Angus wears a blue shirt and suit jacket. Out of Zoom sight his ensemble consists of a pair of CC #3's discarded cargo pants and a pair of worn but comfortable tartan slippers. Also out of Zoom sight is a Polish Lowland Sheepdog lady asleep under my desk.

The Manhattanites have had a busy week. Something to do with Reddit and Robin hood that I don't completely understand. This morning we rattle through a quick check list of international hot spots . Will the Chinese seize Quemoy from Taiwan in an early test of the new administration ? What's going on in the Machiavellian Italian political crisis ? ( although you have to wonder when  Italy is not having a political crisis ) . We move onto the EU's failure to source enough vaccines. ' Good to know we Americans can do something right !' says a waggish guy from New Jersey. We finish off with some speculation on why Jim Jordan won't stand for the vacant Ohio Senate seat in 2022.

Sophie's silence  is rewarded with a trip to the river. It might not be the Mississippi but where the Tarn and the Garonne flow together it's probably as wide as any river north of the Pyrenees. Sophie eyes up a family of ducks that are paddling towards a yacht moored mid-stream. She weighs up the pleasure of giving chase against the downside of getting wet . Sophie opts not to give chase. I congratulate her on a wise decision. Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse she practises her yodelling.

 Whoever knew pizza was such a thing in Tokyo ? Why is Prosciutto translated as 'Rowham'? :

Quarantining groceries is going too far :

Friday, January 29, 2021

Walk briskly by.

The end of another week. Is it my imagination or are these lockdown days running seamlessly into one another ? Sophie discovers  a tree trunk in the stream, This is a cause for some uncertainty.

The pool men have gone and we don't have a date for when they will return. This uncertainty is down to the need to order the grey liner. 

The matron of Loics home phones to say that the weather is going to be good  - bright and sunny. Could Loic and some of his friends come over and work in the garden ?

We've heard nothing from Volvo. They aren't replying to the lawyers letters. This is after sales service of the ' ignore them ' variety. We are somewhat at a loss as what to do next. Costs are mounting, we've been without a dog care for 9 weeks and there seems to be zero progress. What do you do when a company ignores you ?  

Angus and Sophie head off to the drive through bakers. The young lady behind the window gives us two croissants. Sophie's tail bangs against the metal dog grille.

We sit in the carpark with the tailgate up. Sophie has her curly croissant ends then drinks from a puddle on the tarmac. Early morning staff arriving at the retail park look at a foreigner and his shaggy companion deep in conversation and walk briskly by. 

The ups and downs of pandemic life in deepest , deepest France profonde. For Sophie the biggest 'down' is that the yogurt carton still refuses to refill itself.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Lockdown coming ?

A day spent on Zoom talking to men in dark suits. The Italian government has fallen. There are riots in the Netherlands over lockdown. Stirrings of discontent about the slow vaccine roll out  in the EU are becoming evident - everywhere. The probability is that the French government will impose a further lockdown tonight.  Sophie settles down under the desk in what she considers to be silence. Silence for a PONette is a series of yawns, quiet snorts and occasional yodels. She grooms her paws.

The pool men come in the morning to pour cement for the new steps. One of the workmen asks what colour liner we want. I told his boss last week  that we wanted grey . It goes without saying that it hasn't been ordered. 

In between calls Sophie and her master head down to the water park. After the heavy rains the two rivers that have their junction there are in full spate. Sophie stands and watches tree trunks rush by,

Despite the six o'clock curfew the pool men return at seven in the evening to do something to the steps they laid in the morning. They work by the light of their trucks head lamps. This , both Angus and 'The Font' agree is diligent but unusual behaviour. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


The pool restoration team show up at first light. Sophie stands at the front door and announces their arrival. She then wanders over to inquire what they've brought for lunch.

No sooner have the pool men started work than Loic makes an appearance. You're never quite sure which day of the week Loic is going to turn up. Sometimes he comes once a week, sometimes twice, sometimes not at all. In summer when conditions are perfect for driving the lawn tractor he'd be here 24/7 if he could. Today he blows leaves. Loic likes blowing leaves. I think it may have something to do with the noise the power blower makes. He shows me his ' curfew form' still safely and proudly encased in its clear plastic folder.

Roll on the summer and warmer temperatures. Sophie is in need of a deep clean and the mother of all haircuts. This is priority #1 when the mercury gets up into the 20's. Today it's windy. Sophie's fur is equally unkempt on both right and left sides. Symmetrically shaggy,

'The Font' has pretty much given up going to the local 8 a 8 store. It has a remarkably good selection of products but the octogenarian ladies of the village like to get there early for a 'chat' by the cash desk.  Chats and masks are mutually incompatible so the masks are disposed of. The staff at the butchers counter are also of the mask loathing minority which dims the allure of their pork chops. Instead alternate day use is made of the Click and Collect half an hour away. Once a week we get a 'Click and Collect' gift as appreciation for our custom. Last week it was a pack of 5 Starbucks Coffee capsules. Today it's a pack containing two of what must be the worlds smallest pancakes. 

Tuesday morning  and some musicians having fun. Do you hear 'All things bright and beautiful' in the first few bars ?  :

This is a rarity - an online menu you actually want to read -

Monday, January 25, 2021


Sophie starts yodelling as we turn into the bird sanctuary car park .  This is the sound she makes when excitement and happiness get all mixed up together. The sanctuary attracts throngs of pigeons who settle on the grass in Biblical numbers. PONette task #1 of the day :- Chase the pigeons . 

On the far side of the car park there's a group of fifteen or so retired folk gathering for a start of day walk. They're clustered together, laughing and chatting away. Only one of them is wearing a mask and that is covering her mouth, not her nose. Presumably, they think that being outdoors keeps them safe. The Calvinist in Angus wonders whether he should point out that it's best to keep a metre apart, preferably two. Instead I opt to follow Sophie as she pursues the pigeons.

By the time I catch up with my companion she is eyeing the swans on the river. There is something in her look that tells me she's weighing up whether it would be a good idea to leap in the water and give chase. My arrival interrupts her chain of thought and we head off towards the boat dock.

The trees in the little market town have been pruned into a rather stylish shape. The town hall is housed in a castle that was built by Richard the Lion Heart. Much of it was re-modelled in a more livable style just before the French revolution. What remains of the old building are four tall, thin corner towers. They are unlike anything else I've ever seen in France. They'd be more at home in San Gimignano.

The Monday morning hunters gatherings have started up again. A dozen or so cars parked on the village green , another dozen at the back of the village hall. Through the plate glass windows I can see forty or fifty hunters mingling  together enjoying a morning glass of Cognac. They are all wearing identical orange outfits. Not one of them is wearing a mask. Time to start preparing for France to go into a major lockdown.

 Monday morning 'wake me up' music :

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Picking up.


The UK managed nearly half a million vaccinations yesterday. That's nearly 300 every minute, day and night. If that rate can be maintained then 75% of the population should be done by the end of April. The British government seem to have  developed a belated understanding of how important it is to get this under control. Here in France things are picking up a little - they did 45,000 jabs yesterday - but there's still no sense of urgency. The dual problem seems to be a shortage of vaccine and effectively storing it at super low temperatures .

A postman I've never seen before shows up at the gate. The cover of Private Eye this week quietly prescient. The postman wears a mask, as do I. An escalation in the C19 psychology that started during the week. Before then delivery drivers and the post people were notably mask less.

It's rained heavily overnight. The water in the little stream was crystal clear yesterday afternoon but this morning is cloudy with stirred up mud. Sophie isn't entirely sure about the noise the waterfall is making. She looks behind to make sure I'm there to rescue her should there be any 'unpleasantness' when she has her drink. You can never be too sure with water.

After that it's a brisk cross country walk back to The Rickety Old Farmhouse to enjoy the warmth of the kitchen and some of 'The Fonts' muesli with yogurt. All in all not a bad start to the day.

And a Scots song for Burns Night tomorrow. Usually played as the first dance at a wedding but none the worse for that :

And maybe something like this to keep out the cold ? :

Definitely not Scotland. A restaurant with a view :

Something topical and inspiring :

And this :

Saturday, January 23, 2021


A car goes through the village at ten to six in the evening. 'They'll have to hurry home before the curfew' says 'The Font'. Of such mundanities are pandemic  conversations made as we drift towards our second year of lockdown.

All the Christmas decorations are now down. Angus is up in the wee hours of the night with a 'twinge'. Looking out of the drawing room window the new mayor can be seen wandering around on the village green. He has one of those wannabe coal miner type lights strapped around his head and a log reindeer under either arm. He heads off with them into the village hall. After a few minutes the orange and purple Christmas lights that have been strung across  the front of the village hall are switched on .... then off. Presumably our nocturnal mayor has decided to take them down too.

The delivery driver with the pony tail arrives with the replacement desk top. Delivery drivers are showing up at The Rickety Old Farmhouse twice a day at the moment. Parcels from the UK sometimes get through ... but rarely. Most UK retailers have woken up to the fact that French customs are now slapping surcharges on items coming from across the Channel.  The installation of the new computer proves to be a lengthy but remarkably smooth process.

Sophie, who has watched the downloading of the new software with barely concealed irritation, is taken for a long walk. It's dry, blustery and bitterly cold. Sophie thinks conditions couldn't be any better. When she gets in the back of the car she practices her yodelling.

 Poetry is in vogue this week. Here is a beyond beautiful modern poem that is perhaps worth spending 5 minutes reading while nursing a cup of coffee. Every day needs to start with a little poetry. This poet has the rare gift of giving whimsy to challenging issues :

Friday, January 22, 2021

Tech savvy.

We were expecting the swimming pool men to return. Mid-morning they call to say that the grey pool liner is out of stock and will need to be ordered. They'll be back ' sometime soon to fit it ' .  Angus asks when 'sometime soon ' might be. ' Probably next week ' comes the gloriously imprecise reply.

In the meantime we're left with a large hole in the garden. Sophie is disappointed . She was hoping that her new friends would show up bringing baguettes with them.

Rumours in the local paper that another , stricter, lockdown is coming. Ski resorts are closed ( a big employer here in the South ) and Disney Land in Paris has put off its re-opening from February 13th to April 2nd. The good news is that the weather is warmer , the days brighter and it's light until seven at night.

Having a PONette in the house means that the strict pandemic routine is strictly adhered to. Up early, chase C-A-T-S, drink from the stream, return home and keep a wary eye open for  more C-A-T-S, have a well deserved restorative nap. Repeat.

The blog is still being posted on the small Microsoft  laptop. The desktop has proven to be allergic to the data backup. A new desktop has been ordered. The transfer of the backup data will have to wait for the arrival of someone more tech savvy.


Thursday, January 21, 2021

No unpleasantness.

An early start to our day. This is not intentional but two C-A-T-S decide to sit and have a conversation on the doorstep at 5:41 am.

5:41:01 Sophie decides to let the inhabitants of The Rickety Old Farmhouse know that there are two C-A-T-S on the doorstep.

5:41:10 'The Font' observes how wonderful is is to have a dog that's always on the alert for C-A-T-S ( that's not quite what was said but you get the drift ).

5:41:15 'The Font', who is not a morning person, slides under the duvet. Angus gets up.

5:44. Sophie is let out into the garden. C-A-T-S scatter. The village awakes to the joyful howls of the PONette.

The pool men arrived yesterday. The pool is rather a sad affair. We should really have it enlarged but the cost is enormous. Instead we'll have a  grey liner and new steps . 

For Sophie this is a day of high adventure. The pool is drained, the old liner removed and a start made on taking up the old stone surround. The workmen have a thermos of hot soup. The family diva has no interest in the soup but is greatly taken with the baguettes that one of the workmen has brought with him. Nothing like a baguette end to win a girls heart.

We watch the inauguration. Lady Gaga is wonderful, there is no 'unpleasantness' and the major problem seems to have been an unforgiving wind that blows the hats off the honour guard.  Sophie is encouraged to leave the workmen alone and come inside to watch it.

This morning the French breakfast television interviews a Republican Congressman from California saying the new Presidents inaugural address was  'ok I guess'. He goes on, somewhat churlishly to say ' but he'll be judged on his actions not his words ' . That spirit of unity didn't last long. The Congressman has a black eye patch which matches his black mask. This gives him an ever so slightly colour coordinated pandemic look.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

A birthday present.


The Old Farmer is back in the village. He's got an appointment at the local health centre for the first dose of the Pfizer jab . Our neighbour will be 89 in a couple of weeks so he is on the priority list. The vaccination is scheduled for 9.00 am but he has to have a brief medical exam and a chat with a doctor before it's administered. He is then expected to wait for half an hour to make sure there are no contra indications. The Old Farmers lady friend is only 87 so she has to wait for another three weeks before she's eligible. I suggest he wear a mask. He doesn't have one so Sophie and her master return to The Rickety Old Farmhouse to get him one.

Out across the fields  for a brisk walk. Someone is cutting down a diseased elm with a power saw. The sound echoes for miles around. When it finally falls the tree trunk splinters with a sound not dissimilar to that of a fusillade of rifle shots. Sophie stops in her tracks and listens.

We seem to be getting nowhere with Volvo. Having already invested something close to 5% of the purchase price of the car in legal fees we're now faced with the escalation of a court case and unspecified further costs.  Common sense says that it's time to agree to take back the car which has  finally returned to the original dealer after 53 days in the repair shop. We'd driven it for 50 days before it went wrong so it's been off the road more than it's been on it. I think of writing a letter to the Chairman of Volvo but you know full well someone in the PR department will be told to reply with the standard ' We acknowledge receipt of your letter and are sorry to hear of your experience' reply. US and UK legal codes are both based on the common law model, the French one on the altogether less familiar and less predictable Napoleonic code. The light carpets in the big car will be given a thorough wash when alternative PON transport is available. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The form.

Tuesday morning.

Time for a girl to  catch up with some beauty sleep and get reacquainted with Wooly Mammoth. 

Inside The Rickety Old Farmhouse there is consternation when Angus discovers that the France Telecom team tasked with retrieving the non-functioning e-mail function have miraculously wiped everything off the desktop.  That's everything as in 'everything'. This mornings blog is sent from 'The Fonts' Dell. Task of the day will be spent working out how to download the backed up data.

Amid this mild chaos Loic arrives to blow leaves and drive the lawn tractor. He has brought a form with him which requires my signature. He is very proud of the form as he's never knowingly had one before. It says that he's a key worker and is allowed out during curfew hours to attend his place of work. The matron has given it to him , presumably by mistake, or to cover all bureaucratic eventualities. The curfew is from six at night until six in the morning  so the chances of him coming to blow leaves at midnight is highly unlikely. I sign it and tell him it's a very important document that he must keep safe. I give him a clear plastic cover to keep it free from dirt. He is greatly impressed with this.


Monday, January 18, 2021


Sophie starts off her day looking vaguely like a mud and twig free PON. She was groomed last night and a days collection of detritus removed from her fur. 

Before clambering into the back of the car she checks the village green. The local C-A-T-S eye her warily from their gathering spot on the churchyard wall.  We detect signs that the new, nocturnal, mayor has been at work. Overnight the decorations that were hanging from the antlers of the log reindeer have been removed. The strands of tinsel that were draped across the yew trees at the corners of the war memorial have also gone. However, the ornament free reindeer are still there as is the scarecrow dressed as Father Christmas and the Swedish Christmas wreaths the local think are 'dour'. Will they all be cleared away in the wee hours of tomorrow morning or will they still be there in February?

By the time the family diva's been for a walk down by the river, checked the verges for things to eat and chased pigeons along the towpath she's looking less groomed and altogether more feral. That PONette dragged through a hedge backwards look.

It's the paws that usually give the game away although the muzzle is also a pretty good indicator of 'adventures'.

Lockdown music .Bologna and its Duomo in the rain with a 69 year old air guitar rocker. This is the most Italian thing I've ever seen :