Saturday, July 31, 2021


A quick break of dawn tour of the garden fails to find any intruders. Four Magpies fly from the lawn onto a tree branch and watch Sophie race, nose down, towards the walnut trees. The Magpies seem unperturbed . Perhaps they've understood that Sophie is oblivious to their presence.

The flags have now been on the war memorial for seventeen days. Taking them down after Bastille Day seems to have been forgotten.

At the modern cafe Sophie has a bowl of water brought out to her. We observe a gentleman at another table talking away happily, and animatedly, to a dozen or so crumb seeking sparrows. I guess this is no different from a man talking happily, and animatedly, to a shaggy sheepdog.

This mornings croissant looks better than it tastes. We settle on a score of 6.7/10. Sophie also gets the mignardise which is received with enthusiasm.

So starts a day with a Polish Lowland Sheepdog in a quiet French village made even quieter by a pandemic and the advent of the peak summer holiday season.




Friday, July 30, 2021

Not amused.

The shriek that wakes the village has nothing to do with C-A-T-S. This young hedgehog has the affrontery to be sauntering slowly across the courtyard gravel. Sophie is unamused. She is even less amused when her nose comes into contact with the sharp spines on the young hedgehogs back . Our visitor is carefully picked up and deposited, gently, in the long grass that leads down to the wild flower meadow. This brings an end to the morning' theatricality '.

Down on the valley floor our pace picks up when we pass the field with the cows and their calves. Sophie may be the ruler of all she surveys but prudence is a valuable tool in her armory.

The vaccination centre doing a roaring trade. 12 -18 year olds can now get the jab. This means they will be allowed into cafes and restaurants as of August 1st. The fact the car park is overflowing at seven am indicates that a lot of mothers have applied 'pressure' on their offspring to conform. For some reason there are five gendarmes, four firemen and two corpulent gentlemen from the municipal Police standing guard .

The picture framer has made a new surround for our Fauvist painting.  The framer wears a mask but is of the 'position it under the nose' school of mask wearing. I tell him he doesn't need to take it out of the bubble wrap. Dog and owner are in and out in four minutes. Sophie's good behaviour is rewarded with a shared croissant and a bowl of ice cold water. She also gets an ear scrunch from the young lady who serves us. Not a bad start to the day.

The flags that went up on the war memorial on July 14th are still out. Will they come down in the next week ? In many small ways the village, under this new mayor, is a very different place.  

Thursday, July 29, 2021


Most mornings we turn right out of the gate on our first walk of the day. This morning we are forced into going in the other direction by a large combine harvester that is blocking the lane and spewing out chaff. The wheat field on the other side of the lane is about to be harvested. A number of farmers stand around watching. They are too engrossed in what's going on  to notice us.

Dog and master do a full circuit of the village walls. The moorhens are all well as are the goats, geese, cows, horses and donkeys. Today,  the Anger Management Mans chickens  have escaped from his garden and have to be shooed back in. Sophie treats her duties as village guardian with studied seriousness.

The Manhattanites manage to reach me as I'm sitting with Sophie on the storm drain. We talk about masks, the new Chinese ambassador in Washington and the never ending saga of the infrastructure bill. While I talk Sophie maintains a watchful eye out for dragonflies.

Soon it's time for us to head home. Outside The Old Farmers house a white van. It seems our  neighbour has invested in a new television. The electrical store in the small market town has shown up at seven thirty to install it. ' I thought we'd come while it was still cool' says the driver who has been ringing the door bell to no avail. Our old neighbour has segued into 'unusual' sleeping patterns. He has dinner, then dozes until the small hours , then falls into a deep sleep. This morning I bang on his shutters to wake him. He finally emerges onto his balcony in a thick red plush dressing gown. A little later I see the old television being carried out. It is a venerable thing in a faux wood Formica case.  The replacement is a thin widescreen. I quietly wish the installers the best of luck with teaching him how to use the controls. I shall expect a call later in the day asking how to turn it on so he can watch the Olympics.

Morning routines in a quiet village made all the more quiet by a pandemic and the onset of the holiday season.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


High summer in the village. Not a soul about apart from the residents of The Rickety Old Farmhouse, the Belgian Lady and The Old Farmer. The Anger Management Man sets off at crack of dawn to his cottage near the sea. He winds down his window and tells us he'll be back in mid-August. ' I'm setting off early to avoid the traffic ' he adds with a tone of voice that hints this is something we might never think of doing. The German Billionaires Builder headed away for a month on Saturday. You think they might have staggered their holidays.

Team Great Britain beat the USA in the Olympic Rugby Sevens. They were down 21 points and then managed to come back . Angus tells Sophie all about the fast and furious game but she displays studied indifference. There are grass verges to be explored. We wave at a couple of farmers in their white vans then head off from the storm drain and head across country.

Some of the paths through the sunflower fields have turned into canyons. The taller plants now reaching seven or eight feet into the sky. Wayward sunflowers are reclaiming the boundary gaps between the fields. 

Sophie leads the way into this area of dark shadows and intriguing rustlings. I think the hares must spend their days hidden in here. Sophie darts in and out of the stalks but makes sure I'm close. A girl can never be too careful when there are 'rustlings' about. Prudent bravery is her motto.

After a lengthy drink from the waterfall and a hurried sprint past the cow fields it's time to head off for some  curly croissant ends . Today a somewhat lacklustre 6.5/10.  There is also a mignardise that the PONette thinks warrants a score of 20/10. Her tail waves at hyper-speed .

This man has gone to Londons latest tourist attraction and written about it on Twitter. Bassed on this review I don't think I'll go :

Todays new hotel e-mail offering :

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

A small piece of plyboard.

After a slow start the Olympics is providing some riveting viewing. All those corporate sponsors who withdrew their support may now be regretting being so hasty. The Rugby Sevens are great fun - quick with lots of points being scored. The Fijian team were spectacular. The skateboarding is watched in bemusement that soon gives way to amazement. Whoever knew you could do things like that with a small piece of plyboard and four wheels ? Being in your teens helps.

The black and white C-A-T is back again this morning. It looks at me as I open the shutters on the upstairs balcony.  Of all the places it could start its day it has to choose The Rickety Old Farmhouse. The fact that it's here every morning would indicate the black and white C-A-T  doesn't  feel threatened by the presence of a Polish Lowland Sheepdog in the house. This is a thought best kept from Sophie who is inordinately proud of her guarding skills.

My shaggy companion is oblivious to the presence of this feline intruder on the terrace. She has her mind set on curly croissant ends. She exudes a sense of ' Do get on with it !' impatience .

After our start of morning outing to the cafe we head on down to the valley for a walk  to the lake. There are ducks paddling around affably. This provides an excuse for the PONette to shriek in frustration. The ducks, safe on the water,  ignore her.

By the time we get home The Old Farmer is up and about. He's tied a rope to the back bumper of the venerable Mercedes and is pulling out the even more venerable Peugeot from the garage. The Peugeot has been in there, idle,  for the last eighteen months and is now in  need of a tune and a lube. I quietly wonder how many 91 year olds would start their days with this level of activity. 


Monday, July 26, 2021

Olympian satisfaction.

One picture might say a thousand words but it can't capture the noise that erupts from the family diva when she spots this miscreant in the garden. The sheer audacity of it ! 

After five minutes Sophie returns with a ball that she's found hidden under a walnut tree. Hidden treasures recovered and a intruder told in no uncertain terms who's boss around here. Not a bad start to a Monday morning. The PONette exudes Olympian satisfaction.

Another unseasonably cloudy day. The mayor might have been right when he said that ' if it rains on Bastille Day it will rain for 40 days thereafter'. The  cloud cover means that the sunflowers are all a kilter not knowing where to turn. Also out of kilter are the flags on the war memorial. They went up on the 14th and are still there. The new mayor certainly adopts a more relaxed approach to these things than his predecessor.

Redcurrants and rhubarb make an appearance in the greengrocers. I'd consider buying some rhubarb for a crumble but it's too hot and humid.

A plaster lamb shows up in the cheese shop. Do small ceramic animals still have a place in advertising budgets anywhere else in the world ? I think things like this disappeared in Scotland fifty years ago but will be happy to be proven wrong.

Why you would invest in one of these is beyond me. It seems to collate data from the Internet of Things. This in turn enables the owner to access and mine some form of Bitcoin. I'll put my reticence and ignorance  down to being generationally challenged. :

Smectite clays. Discovery of the day. This video is worth watching. In fact the whole of this Indian gentlemans Twitter link is worth looking at :

Sunday, July 25, 2021


The camera on the new i-Phone is better, much better, than the old one. However, it is still hard pressed to capture the family diva in high speed pursuit of a C-A-T that has been asleep by  the pool. The C-A-T goes left. Sophie continues in a straight line. This photo also speaks volumes to the quality of Sophie's twin titanium knees.

An uninspiring croissant from the bakers at the shopping centre. We sit at a table outside by what must be the worlds noisiest air conditioning unit. Angus is surprised to see that if you spend E30 on bakery products you can choose to receive either a place mat or a hat as a gift. This is the first time I've ever seen a hat as promotional give away.

Back in the village Sophie sits with me on the storm drain. The donkeys are down at the end of the field. Sophie can smell them but can't see them. There is much nose twitching.

Games of hide and seek in the sunflower fields have one major drawback : Bugs. Sophie is enticed into the bath for a rubdown with a medicated shampoo. Somehow, despite our very best efforts at subterfuge, she knows what is being planned. The family diva settles on her passive resistance approach to being bathed. This entails flopping on the floor and becoming a dead weight. The 'I shall not be moved' approach to water. She is 'encouraged' under the shower. After an hour , several rub downs and a walk to the war memorial she looks merely bedraggled. A reminder that a PONettes fur can absorb at least twice its body weight in moisture.

During the bathing process the bell at the gate rings to announce -  1) the onion seller - 2) the French teacher delivering some magazines ( the village residents recirculate their subscriptions ) - 3) The Old Farmer to tell us his television isn't working and 4) the  delivery man to tell us he's going away on holiday for two weeks ' but don't worry they'll have a replacement driver while I'm away'. This stream of visitors doesn't make the bathing process any easier.

Saturday, July 24, 2021


We watch a little of the Olympics opening ceremony. Maybe it's the lack of crowds, maybe its the acoustics of an empty stadium but after twenty minutes I find we're getting bored. Sophie is more than  happy to get up and go and sit outside by the pool. Why be indoors watching television when you can be outside keeping an eye open for C-A-T-S ?

This morning the lingering humidity and a lengthy detour through the sunflower fields combine to give Sophies coat a 'carefree' air. 

At the crossroads sunflower fields to the left, right and straight ahead. Peak sunflower season is upon us.

This morning there's a young horse in a head shroud at the next door neighbours farm. Although it can't see it trots over towards us. I'm sure there's a good reason for the head shroud but it's a rather sad thing to see on a summers morning.

After a drink from the waterfall and a paddle in the stream dog and master head off to the bakers.

A  'Religieuse' and a coffee eclair our choices this morning. Sophie hopes that the bakers wife will go back into the kitchen for some choux pastry but she's disappointed. I also buy a slice of peach pie. This is for The Old Farmer who has returned to living in the village full time. The heat and pandemic have put paid to the relationship with his 'lady friend' . ' I needed some space ' he informs me. This morning I shall help him get his house in order . 


Friday, July 23, 2021

Sensible thing to do.

Our day starts with a trailer load of cow dung being towed through the village. It will be spread on the field by the crossroads. Sophie thinks this is the Chanel No.5 of mornings. Angus is less sure.

We stop to admire The Old Mayors recent flower plantings. The concrete trough on top of the village well now looking resplendent in a multi-coloured display of begonias and pansies. The  committee that awards points in the ' Best Floral Village' competition are due any day. Whether their tastes and those of The Old Mayor are in synch is yet to be seen.

Mother and three baby moorhens scatter as we approach. They seem to have moved their nest from the shrubs that line the edges of the pond to the water lily leaves in the centre. In this heat that's an entirely sensible thing to do. The chicks have grown from ping pong ball sized to double that in the space of three days. They spend their time paddling contentedly around the pond under the ever watchful eye of their mother.

On our way home there's time for a quick game of hide and seek in the sunflower fields . 

Then it's down to the bakers for a lunch time desert. Today we opt for a small Brasilia which looks right for these hundred degree plus temperatures.


Thursday, July 22, 2021

Massed ponies

Hot and humid this morning. A layer of cloud keeping yesterdays heat from escaping. As we head out the church and the lime tree on the village green are lit by the morning sun. This seems to be a cue for the bees to start humming. I note that the flags on the war memorial are still up despite it being more than a week since Bastille Day. The new mayor has a more 'relaxed' approach about putting them up and taking them down. Perhaps he tried to borrow our ladder but we were out ?

Sophie is of a mind to get as much mischief into her day as she can before it gets even hotter. High 30's forecast for this afternoon. This is not PON weather. She observes a C-A-T asleep under the lime tree. The bucolic peace of the village comes to an abrupt head back, tail waving end.

The horse lady is also up early.The ponies in the field at the crossroads are enjoying their breakfast and are much too busy to pay much attention to Sophie.

My companion picks up her pace and doesn't slow down until we've safely passed this intimidating group. Positioning herself carefully behind me she gives them a cursory glare then heads off to the safety of home. 

After that there's the consolation of some curly croissant ends. Well deserved rewards for outstanding bravery in the face of massed ponies.

In a French village everyone waves at their neighbours as they drive by. This can be a little confusing if you don't know what cars your fellow villagers drive.  We've taken to waving at every vehicle we see. This means we can never appear 'aloof ' or partisan ( important during the current court case ). Today , we greet three white farmers vans, the young Garagiste and the lady who helps out with cleaning the chateau in high season. We also wave at a man in a large white flatbed truck who may, or may not, be a villager. The Dutch vacationers , being non-residents, get a nod of the head and a smile.

A company that makes good quality external paint that can withstand a French summer :

Wednesday, July 21, 2021


Our morning walk takes us out along the ridge, down through the donkey field and along the valley floor. A Dutch couple are renting the cottage by the crossroads for the summer. The husband waves at us as he heads off for their morning croissants from the bakers in the small market town. He's clearly understood that in this heat early rising is a necessity. By mid-morning the only sensible thing to do is shelter indoors or hang out by the pool.  

Sophie in particularly fine fettle. She's raring to go. My companion plays hide and seek in the shade of the sunflower stalks. She emerges on to the path looking 'disheveled'. Charging through sunflower fields will do that to a girl.

Coming back through the village we manage to avoid the Anger Management Man and by the skin of our teeth the German Billionaires Builder. The sooner this court case is over and done with the better. 

The final leg of our morning walk takes us across the village green and past the front of the church. Sophie bounds on ahead. She has picked up the scent of a C-A-T.  A girl can never find a moment to relax with those critters around. 

New style travel writing :

Travel e-mail of the day :