Thursday, September 30, 2021


Root canal treatment done Angus is instructed to go to a shop in search of garden trugs. The shop can't ship to France but suggest I contact the manufacturer direct. Our trugs must be at least thirty years old and have finally succumbed to wear and tear. Communicating with novocaine jaw while also wearing a mask is a skill set that requires some getting used to.

Then to the wallpaper shop. They too won't ship to France . The post Brexit requirement to fill out customs forms is something that many ( most ) retailers won't do. "You'll have to arrange your own courier to France" the standard , but entirely useless response. 

The fish and chip shop off Marylebone High Street has been closed for a while but has reopened with new tables and chairs. All the restaurants are not just busy but humming. With the weather getting cooler there is a migration of diners from outside into the warmth. The hotel claims to be full but on checkout the girl behind the counter lets slip that only 30% of the staff are working and that most of the rooms are closed for 'refurbishment'. 

A man on the plane back coughs and sneezes constantly. He seems unaware of the looks from his fellow passengers. Thankfully, he's across the aisle and there are two empty seats between me and him but I turn on the air vents to maximum and point them in his direction to channel away any droplets that might float over. What would Miss Manners have done ?

Back at Toulouse airport there is  an 'emotional' reunion with the family sheepdog. At the Rickety Old Farmhouse I am led indoors with a determination and purpose that makes it clear I'm not going to be allowed to wander free any time soon.


Wednesday, September 29, 2021

What lies in store ?

On the cards for today ? A trip to the airport for some curly croissant ends, a chance to marvel at the sliding doors in the arrivals terminal and an emotional reunion with a wayward sheep. A PONettes life is never dull.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Resume again.

A day spent looking for an errant sheep. The village green is checked and rechecked but there's no sign of him.

After a nap the search will resume again.


Monday, September 27, 2021


A little later this morning we'll head off to the airport. BA are still on one flight a day . Before the pandemic there were  three of four to chose from. I'm guessing, as the flight is completely full, that  things are getting slowly back to normal at Airbus and that their staff are beginning to travel again.

This morning at the shopping centre we stop to admire a sign advertising mini pancakes. These are purported to be ' Oh so British '. Anything less British would be hard to imagine.

Dog and master share a croissant, note that a window in the Orange mobile phone store has been smashed and observe the mallards pacing backwards and forwards on the electrical outlets forecourt. Sophie would love to chase the mallards but this morning we only have time for a quick march around the car park.

Monday. Another hotel e-mail. This time it's Boston. Are hotels opening up every day ?  Maybe there's a backlog due to Covid ? :

Sunday, September 26, 2021

The store room.

One of the farmers stops in his white Peugeot van. A man in his mid fifties. I don't know his name although we've waved at each other for a decade. He's got used to seeing this foreigner sitting on the concrete storm drain conversing with a shaggy dog.  This morning he gets out of his van and tells me he's going into hospital for an operation. Quite a major one.

Sophie is happy being around some people and howls at others. The farmer is clearly a dog person so he is ignored. She settles down by my side as he describes the intricacy of the operation. Angus remains surprised by the way the French will happily provide the most intimate of details about any and everything medical.

Another of those perfect mornings. We stop by the river to look at the swans and admire two house  boats. Sophie has a lengthy and noisy drink.

Angus is off to London tomorrow to talk to the Manhattanites and have some root canal work. The Manhattanites have an outside dining room on the top floor of their building in London. This is where we will meet. They seem to be as prudent about the Delta variant as they were three months ago.

In a couple of weeks time the regulations will change and there will be no need for a pre-flight Covid test if you're double jabbed. As it stands Angus has to phone the pharmacist to have a test for tomorrows trip. I'm early for the appointment. The lady behind the counter opens up the side door by the zimmer frame display and shows me into a stockroom full of surgical stockings. This is where my test is done. Within ten minutes I have the results on my phone and on the desk top. The efficiency of this continues to amaze me.

New hotel e-mail of the day. A Greek hotel in Spain :

Live better, longer. A start up aiming to produce life enhancing pharmaceuticals for mans best friend :,as%20we%20can%20give%20them.

Saturday, September 25, 2021

Toxic clouds

Our morning walk completed in record time.  This morning the cows and their calves are standing right by the roadside fence.  They stare at us in the hope we might be bringing a bale of hay. Under their watchful eyes Sophie quickens her pace and positively sprints along the lane.

Back at the car she fixes me with a look that says ' Do you not know how risky that was ?'

From the top of the ridge we can see clouds building up over the frontier with Spain. Perhaps later today , or tomorrow, we shall have rain. With the exception of some still to be harvested sunflower fields the countryside is now being tidied up in readiness for winter.

Yesterdays paper warned us that a cloud of volcanic ash was heading up from the eruption on the Canary Isles.

So far there is no sign of the 'toxic clouds' that were forecast.


Friday, September 24, 2021

The beauty of life.

A glorious September morning. One of those perfect days when both dog and owner, in their own ways, are simply amazed at the beauty of life . Sophie searches for mud and badgers poo. Her companion enjoys the warmth of the breeze and watches a pair of falcons swooping over the corn stubble. We wave at two farmers who pass us in their white Peugeot vans. One of them stops to say the roses at the war memorial have started to bloom again. The young garagiste slows down when he sees us, then accelerates away with a rasp of his old BMW's exhaust.

The dog ramp, bought to avoid 'twinges' , has proven to be a wonderful addition to our morning routine. Sophie now trots up and down the ramp as if it's the most natural thing in the world.

When we get home we find that the chimney sweep is there. He and his mate are gone within ten minutes. There's almost no ash to be removed from the stove or the up pipe. ' You must have been using well dried wood ' he says while I write out a cheque. There may be something to this. How quickly and seamlessly the seasons roll around in a small French village . 

 A new and very French hotel opening in Houston :

Thursday, September 23, 2021

A billion in a month.

A walk down by the river. Usually we go clockwise out of the car park, along the river and then cut across the fields home. Today we do it in an anti-clockwise direction. Sophie finds the novelty of this enthralling.

Two more bus loads of red jacketed pilgrims show up in the village. They stand on the ox track outside The Rickety Old Farmhouse before heading off across country to the Holy Well. The pilgrims are noisy and, for the most part, jovial. The department is arranging ' get out and walk' days for senior citizens after 18 months of lock down. We have become a feature 'halt' on these pilgrim tours. The Holy Well may be the official reason for the stop overs but the village hall lavatories may be a more compelling feature of our inclusion on this  itinerary.

Anti-clockwise walks and hordes of red jacketed pilgrims. Sophie can only wonder at the  warp and weave of life. From a PONettes perspective life is rich, varied and exciting. The prospect of curly croissant ends add further warp to the weave.

 A billion people vaccinated in a month. Now that's good news :

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The return of the pilgrims.

Two busloads of pilgrims arrive at first light. A total of sixty or so cheerful visitors. All are wearing identical bright red waterproofs. They disappear down the ox track to the Holy Oak. The village hasn't had this many visitors in at least two years. Sophie and her companion stand outside the church and watch them go. The bus drivers snatch a quick cigarette in the church porch. Angus notes that the buses are owned by the Bla Bla Bus Company.

The weather changeable. In fact highly changeable. At the cafe there have been showers and the bakers wife has been busy trying to dry the chairs. The French all sit inside. Sophie and her master brave the 16 degree temperatures outside. Angus leaves the door ever so slightly ajar. An inch max.  One of the interior patrons comes and slams it shut . The word  ' Idiot !' is used.  This mornings croissant an acceptable, if lacklustre, 7.6/10.

The summer wine that was ordered six weeks ago is delivered. Apparently Europe has a delivery driver problem.  It's getting a bit late in the year to be drinking rose but it will be gone ere long and certainly by Christmas. A dozen pink ceramic bottles are an unexpected part of the shipment. Apart from being a truly dreadful colour Angus wonders why so few wines come in non-glass bottles. Is it cost or fragility ?

Half an hour after the wine merchant has delivered the rose the Amazon courier shows up at the gate. Sophie alerts us to his arrival. Red Roulette is among the books. This months must read .

 A French company opens a new Italian restaurant in London. OTT or what ? :

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

HUGELY untoward.

This morning starts with Sophie alerting the universe to the fact that something HUGELY untoward is afoot. To do this she employs the three tools in her armory -  the PON stare, body language and a high pitched and concrete shredding yelp. The young farm dog on the other side of the gate, who is the cause of this turmoil,  seems completely oblivious to the family divas protestations. The young dog is much more interested in a squirrel that's clambering up the Old Farmers oak tree. Faced with not being the centre of attention Sophie redoubles her efforts. 

The village wakes early. Young dog wanders off to his home in the farm beyond the crossroads unaware of the chaos he's created.

Monday, September 20, 2021


The village quiet. Madame Bay stops by on her way to the health centre for an eight am appointment to check on her blood pressure. She thinks the judge has told both parties in the dispute to be adult and maintain a 10 metre distance from each other. This is difficult as their houses , although set back, face each other across the lane. Under the interim judgement the Anger Management Man isn't supposed to stop on the road outside the German Billionaires Builder and vice versa. Madame Bay says a full, formal, ruling is expected next week. There is a 'walking on eggshells' feel to this interim ruling. Both parties to the dispute are maintaining a low profile but you have the feeling they're peering out from behind their shutters to see who is speaking to the 'enemy'.

The weather has moved from rain to 'changeable'. It's dry(ish) as we set off along the valley floor but starts to chuck it down as soon as we're out of sight of the car. Sophie finds a squashed toad on the road which makes her day. Her companion is less happy about her find.

We are now in the season when the back of the dog car is amply stocked with water absorbent mats and a supply of towels. Sophie is soon dry and looking fit for a trip to the drive thru bakers.

At the greengrocers the first of the local pomegranates....

 ...... and winter squashes. The year just keeps rolling along.

Sometimes I miss London and its eclectic food shops. Good to see this one opening up again :

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Three layers.

It's drizzling and the air is decidedly 'fresh'. Soon, very soon, it will be time to put on three layers before venturing out. In Sophie's mind this is the perfect weather for a long leisurely stroll by the river. Her companion is less sure. By the end of this week the heating will be on. A month after that and it'll be time to light a fire. Angus shivers and makes a mental note to arrange for the chimney to be swept.

This morning the family diva carefully maintains a prudent distance from the waters edge. However, on the way back to the car she detours to walk through a large puddle. This is a text book example of canine logic. River water bad, puddle water good. Go figure.

Back at home she's toweled, vigorously, dry. Not that you'd notice.

There follows the PON ' What are we going to do now ? ' look. Our cue to head off en famille to the drive thru bakers. This will be  followed by a tour of the shopping centre car park and a trip to the green grocer for carrots and peach yoghurts ( a Sophie favourite - the glass jars make a wonderful noise on the tile floors ) .  Taste and noise - what better combination could there be ?

If approved this would be the worlds largest building :

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Unexpected discovery

We haven't been down to the little waterfall in a couple of weeks. It dried up in the  August drought and there hasn't been much rain since. This morning, after an overnight squall, there's a small trickle of water working its way to the sea. The ground on either side of the stream is churned up and covered in animal tracks. I'm guessing that pre-dawn wild boar and deer have been here in large numbers. Sophie has a drink then spends a full ten minutes exploring this treasure trove of scents. She seems remarkably pleased with this unexpected discovery.

Then it's off, tail high, for a walk along the valley floor. Being a Saturday it's even quieter than usual. Nothing passes us. This is just fine by me. A late working ( and now double vaccinated ) Manhattanite phones to confirm arrangements for a meeting in London in ten days. We shoot the breeze which is a pleasant thing to do on a Saturday morning.

By the time Sophie's loaded in the back of the car in readiness for a trip to the bakers her hair has taken on a gravity defying look. This is really quite remarkable.

Todays croissant looks good but is getting ever so slightly stale. I'd reckon it came out of the oven a couple of hours ago.