Monday, May 31, 2021


A new week brings with it protests in Brazil and the possibility of a change of government in Israel. Not so much a 'Good Morning' as a 'Get a move on !' from Sophie who is keen to get her day under way.

The moorhen mother and three chicks are happily sunbathing on the water lilys . By the time I get out the i-Phone they've scurried into safety. How do they know I'm  coming ? Sound, scent or something else ?

Round by the other pond a hard base has been laid where the line of trees used to stand. Workmen have been here on Sunday which must denote double ( triple? quadruple ? ) time.  Angus would love to know what is planned but doesn't want to seem too eager to find out.

Sophie is now waiting for 'The Font ' to appear so that we can head off to the fancy bakery. She is allowed morning trips in the car  as long as the thermometer is below 16. Soon the heat will rise and Sophie will be confined to quarters. This alteration to the routine will not be well received.

The British Prime Minster was married ( again ) on Saturday. The venue the Catholic cathedral in Westminster. Angus, being a dour Presbyterian, finds the architecture too 'exotic' for his taste. In another of those strange acts of serendipity he is sent a book about the cathedrals stone floors. Even though it's an English church it has a Scottish chapel built with Scottish granite . The marble is from Iona and is unusual for being almost white. It was chosen because there are wee specks of green in it like seaweed and churning surf. An ideal choice as Scotlands patron saint ,Andrew,  was a fisherman:

Sunday, May 30, 2021

The river meadows

Up early for a Zoom call. Unrest in Colombia, Egypts importance in Gaza,  America's 1/6 Commission  ( or lack of it ) and what will happen to the Tokyo Olympics are the topics of the day. One of the participants, a Hoover Institute type,  says America is going through a period of re-inventing itself , root and branch, while Europe and China are stagnating. There may be something to this although what sort of country will emerge - socially, politically and in terms of the economy - is left ( deliberately ?) vague.

The black and white C-A-T that looks like Hannibal Lecter is sitting on the lawn. Sophie rushes out, head back, ears flying. Hannibal Lecter C-A-T goes right. Sophie goes left. The start of day howling lasts for a full five minutes. How the villagers must love us.

This morning we head off for a walk through the communal forest. Now the days are getting warmer the forest is a good place to start the day. Twenty or so minutes through the woodland and we come to the river meadows. Hidden from sight by the trees but cultivated for as long as humans have inhabited these lands. The river meadows are special places. There is a sense of history and continuity to them that transcends war and plagues. These fertile fields can always be counted on. 

Sophie charges through the tracks made by the farmers tractor. Canyons of wheat.  Finally, she finds a way down to the stream and has a long cold drink. Then she glares at the dragon flies that flit around her. Life for an eight year old PON lady is simply wonderful.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse The Font is preparing a roast chicken for lunch. This is as far as Sophie intends to go for the rest of the day .... or at least until she has some roast chicken.

Is there no end to human ingenuity ? This is quite possible the oddest thing I've seen all year .... and it's been a pretty odd year. Schedule an appointment at a  mountain of mannequin parts. You will need to scroll down and read what's on offer :

Saturday, May 29, 2021


Some mornings you can just tell it's going to be a scorcher. The family diva heads off into the far reaches of the garden in search of C-A-T-S. Her master reapplies another coat of sealant to the new stone around the pool.

Sophie comes to join me in the kitchen. Her paws indicate she's been digging up the mole hills. You can be 100% sure the moles were not in the slightest bit perturbed.

The last of the Gariguettes. The strawberry lady has been through the polytunnels and collected four punnets for us. ' Make sure you make the time to enjoy them' she says. The soaring heat means that this is definitely the end of the season   :

The moorhen mother shepherds her three chicks into the safety of the shrubs that line the village pond. We manage to grab a quick snap of her. Mother and chicks seem to be thriving.

More trees down. Heavy excavators at work levelling the ground. A team of men laying a hard core foundation. The 'improvement' squad are hard at work. Oddly, a stand of bamboo is left completely untouched.

 Another day. Another e-mail advertising a new hotel opening. Europe seems to be a continent of new hotel openings :

Friday, May 28, 2021

17 months.

It's going to be a hot one today. This morning , while it's still cool, Angus applies sealant to the new stone that's been laid  around the pool. A litre of sealant costs E67. How could it possibly costs so much ? The stone man says I'll need at least six litres. We settle on eight. Sophie watches me with growing impatience.

Down by the river the family diva demonstrates her high speed, head down, approach to life. Why walk when you can run ?  Today we have a lengthy drink from the water by the boat dock. This is where all sorts of detritus collects. Without a doubt the dirtiest, and evidently best, place to have a drink. 

Then it's off with 'The Font' to the cafe that does the good croissants. Even though there's still a lockdown for another two weeks  some semblance of the old daily  routine is re-emerging. Having the cafes and restaurants re-open has been a big change on the road back to normality. On Sunday we may try the open air market for the first time in a year. There are still no flights to London so the visit to the dentist remains on hold.  To make things even more complicated ,France, in an attempt to stop the spread of the Indian variant, has imposed a quarantine  on anyone visiting from the UK. It is now 17 months since either of us has visited London.


Thursday, May 27, 2021

Wheat fields

'Good morning' from Sophie. She uses her non-verbal communication techniques  to make it abundantly plain  that it's a beautiful day outside and that Angus should get his skates on. The conversation with men in dark suits has gone on quite long enough !

We drive down to the valley for a long walk along the old Roman road while it's still cool. After a chill start to the year the heat is slowly starting to build. The presence of badger and fox canapes in the long grass keeps Sophie in an 'inquisitive' mood.
A farmer in a white van stops to say hello. He also solves the mystery of those circles in the sky we saw last week. According to his daughter, who works at the Airbus plant in Toulouse, the first test pilot for the company died at the age of 94 . For the duration of the funeral an Airbus plane circled over the ceremony as a tribute. Hence the circular contrails.

Something remarkable about the full moon last night. One of the joys of this part of France is the light that comes as the moon rises and the sun sets . For the briefest of moments the dying sun turns the  wheat field gold against the darkening sky. This is also the cue for the owls that perch in the plane trees along the lane to start their hooting.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021


Down to the river. Sophie barks at some anglers. Then off en famille to the good bakers. Todays offering a 9.5/10 - buttery, flaky and light.  Sophie is rendered completely silent with joy which indicates she's giving it at least 15/10.

Our wealthy neighbour has cut down a line of beautiful old chestnut trees to build another garage. Is my grumpy reaction NIMBYism or justifiable irritation ? 

The old farmer shows up in the venerable Mercedes. I can see a change in him. He's moving more slowly and his voice has developed a definite advancing years  'hoarseness' .

We have a long chat. He's well as is his 'lady friend'. His second jab caused him no problems. Plans for a trip to see his fathers grave in Belarus are deflected with a judicious ' I'm leaving the drive until next year. Getting a visa is too difficult right now'. Sophie sees that there's a C-A-T standing on the drive. She howls. He laughs.

I go back to The Rickety Old Farmhouse and bring over a bottle of Gris de Gris as a gift for his lady friend. The temperatures are supposed to soar into the mid-30's next week. There's nothing like a super chilled glass of a good rose on a hot and muggy evening to end the day on a high note. Doubly so when you're ninety.

He's brought a fold up chair with him. He takes the bottle, thanks me, opens up the boot, pulls out the chair and then sits and carefully reads the label. In the process he drifts off for fifteen minutes of well deserved rest.

 A few years ago, on a trip to Chennai in India, we stumbled across the supposed site of St.Thomas' martyrdom. It's now the site of a huge, wedding cake style cathedral of highly dubious architectural taste. I'd assumed the Saints presence in India was an old folk tale. However, recent research shows that two thousand years ago there was a lively flow of trade across the Indian Ocean from the mid-East to India :

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

The electric van.

Today, we take the little Volvo down to Toulouse to find out why the aircon isn't working. Yesterday was the first hot, muggy day we've had since we bought the thing and the first time we've needed the aircon. Goes without saying it didn't work - as in 'stone cold dead' didn't work. Not even a puff of restorative cold air. The relationship with a certain Swedish car manufacturer is not proving to be a happy one.

Before I head off there's time for a quick tour of the village with Sophie. The village is quiet at six am . We are surprised to find that the second builder ( tasked with laying the stone around the pool ) is up and about in his large electric van .  What is it with builders and crack of dawn working hours ? He parks outside the gate which is an improvement over yesterdays builder who left his truck and trailer in the courtyard all day. Sophie stops and stares at two morose lads who emerge onto the lane and stand and do nothing. She eyes them warily as they light up their first cigarette of the day. She is encouraged along before she makes her displeasure known.

With two sets of builders around the family  diva has a  day of intense home guarding ahead of her. Best to settle down at the front door for a quick nap.

Vegan burgers have gone mainstream in London. They are much in demand from the 20 somethings at the little AI company :    I'm told ( but don't believe ) they taste almost like the real thing.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Early rising.

Lots to talk about to the men in dark suits . The hijacking of an EU airliner  on an internal EU flight is number one on the list.  Never a good thing when countries, or people, start disobeying the rules so blatantly. We are all in agreement that the EU will make noises but can do nothing about it.

Conversation over, dog and master head out along the lane. The young calves are unsure about Sophie. For that matter Sophie is unsure about the calves. Both go their separate ways in silence. The mothers aren't bothered - they stare , untroubled, at these weird and wonderful creatures walking past .

Just after six the builder shows up with a trailer full of sand, some bags of concrete and a cement mixer. He parks his Land Rover a whispers breadth away from the little Volvo. I would happily have moved the car if he'd let me know what his plans were. The builders schedule remains a mystery. Long periods of absence interspersed with brief moments of early morning  hyper activity. When I see him I shall ask why he's chosen to use the gate furthest away from the pool to make his deliveries.

Sophie and Angus head off to the drive thru bakers - we use the far gate to make our exit. Today the croissant is excellent. a 8.5/10. The variability of the bakers output  is truly amazing. I can only assume some bakers knead the dough and others don't. 

At this time in the morning the shopping centre car park is deserted. Dog and owner do a full twenty minute tour .

Sophie is greatly taken with the variety and frequency of the scents she passes en route.  The joys of urban chic - bollards, street lights and shop doorways. This eight year old country girl has a spring in her step. Life is wonderful !

 Who ever thought a chair could generate so much comment ? :

Sunday, May 23, 2021


So far this month the weather has been unseasonably cold and wet. This has been good for the strawberry lady who manages to pick and sell Gariguettes well beyond her usual season. This morning we buy four punnets. She thinks the growing season, and the cooler weather, will come to an end this week.

Sophie finds that the walk by the river is unusually busy. Early rising yachters and anglers making good use of the better weather. Not one of them has Jaffa Cakes !

On our way home we stop off to buy some ice cream to go with the strawberries. It's Italian fortnight at the frozen food store. We consider  some truffle coated Mozarella but think better of it.

Italian fortnight brings with it  fancy new ice cream flavours . Apple and walnut or gingerbread. These are too exotic for Angus's Presbyterian tastes. The lady at the till goes to find some vanilla from the store room. The frozen food store is a franchise run by an independent lady who set it up after her family flew the nest. To begin with the pandemic hit her bottom line but quite quickly the downturn in her revenues reversed and now she reckons are up 40% from where they were at this time in pre-pandemic 2019.

 New York is having an architectural renaissance :

Finally get round to reading this link :   and then out of the blue this lands in the inbox :   Our dentist in London installed UV lighting a year ago. At the time I thought it was a bit OTT but he should be congratulated on his prescience.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

The interloper.

Saturday morning. Life in the real world emerging from lockdown. The radio in the office tells me that 55% of French are now, in part, vaccinated. Across Europe the number of flights has grown by 25% in the last three days. The commentator is hopeful that holiday makers are set to return. 

Out of the corner of my eye I see some movement by the window .

The village C-A-T-S are becoming ever more audacious. This one, perched  precariously on the window sill,  is intrigued by what I'm doing. It also appears to be fearless.

Sophie, has retired to the library for a peaceful nap. This is a surprise. Sophie can emit a universe shredding howl if a C-A-T so much as comes within a hundred metres of the house. For some reason the presence of this mornings feline intruder generates no response. Perhaps Sophie feels she can doze on because Angus is already up and about ? I turn the lights on and tell her what's happened but she just snores gently away. Excitement can wait until later.

Weather on Jupiter :

Who'd have thought it ? Medical science discovers something new :

Friday, May 21, 2021

The truck.


The council refuse workers are just taking their seats on the cafe terrace as we arrive. This morning the cafe lady is in a more customer friendly mode. After six months of lockdown the staff that used to work the cafe side of the bakery have all gone,  leaving her to do everything. She's now found a replacement who will start work at ten. Until then she's serving and making coffees and working the till. Sophie listens to this is silence.

After curly croissant ends we head home for a long walk along the ox track. The grass still covered in morning dew which ensures that Sophie maintains a brisk pace.

Overhead circular contrails. It's as if  a large aircraft has been going round and round  overhead. It seems to have done at least four 360 degree turns above us - possibly five. It must be something to do with a test flight out of the Airbus plant in Toulouse.

The old mayor was of the ' put out the flags and bring them in next day' variety. With four bank holidays in May this kept us much in demand for our extendable ladder . The new mayor is of the ' put out the flags and leave them up all month' sort. He has a more laissez faire, hands off, attitude to his duties.

An enormous truck and trailer comes hurtling along the lane. We rush out to see what the noise is. I'm not saying a year of pandemic restrictions has made us parochial but a large truck going over the speed bump is the stuff of high drama for a illage dweller in this corner of deepest. deepest France profonde.