Saturday, April 30, 2022

Bye bye antibiotics.

Sophie is taken off her course of antibiotics. The vet keeps her on the 'magic' liver pills until Monday when she will have her next, and hopefully last, check up. It is agreed that she is one tough - and lucky - lady. On balance the suspicion from the 3 vets that have looked after her is that one of the local farmers has been using or disposing of organo-phosphates in places he shouldn't. Sophie has of course managed to find and consume them.

The year continues to throw off familiar delights. These wonderful 'candlestick' blooms now appearing in  the hedgerows. What would you call that colour ?

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse Sophie checks her garden for audacious C-A-T-S. We then wander across the village green to open up the church.

Was sent this by a kind and wise guy in LA  and found I agreed with most of it :

Friday, April 29, 2022


 Bonjour !

On Sophie's tour of the village we discover that Monsieur Bozo, the septic tank installer, is busy digging out the ground above the village pond. This is where the German billionaires plan to put their new yoga centre.  Monsieur Bozo is careful to avoid the reed beds where the moorhens live. Later today he plans to start knocking down the badly modernized house that used to belong to the Parisian couple. 

Long term readers will remember the great excitement when the Parisian mans suspicious wife showed up , unexpectedly, to discover her husband 'entertaining' his secretary in their village idyll. What a night that was ! The headlamps on his car were smashed, his clothes thrown out of an upstairs window onto the lane amid  cries of ' You told me you were at a marketing conference in Dijon !'.

Monsieur Bozo seems to be enjoying the demolition side of his task. However, Sophie is not particularly taken with the sound of breaking glass. We hurry home. 

On the way we bump into Anger Management Man  putting up dayglo orange  'Private Property. No Parking ' signs on the small strip of ground that faces the German billionaires builders driveway. 'The mayor should be taking a greater interest in what's going on around here' he says to me in a tone of voice that makes it clear he's not happy. I make a noncommittal yodeling noise in return. This seems to satisfy him.

This band is presumably big in America. The video production is brilliant - in every scene they're clicking their fingers at exactly the same moment. How professional is that ? :

Thursday, April 28, 2022


The German billionaires are doing work at the chateau. At first light Monsieur Bozo, the drainage engineer, rumbles through the village on a large yellow mechanical digger. It seems our neighbours are putting in a new septic tank in their planned 'yoga' centre. Sophie peers out of the front door to see what all the commotion is about. Yesterday, the family dive stood on her hind legs at the gate and barked at the post lady. That is a sure sign that she is well on the road to recovery.

Black and white C-A-T has returned to sleeping on the woodpile in the barn. On her start of day tour of the garden Sophie remains completely oblivious to the presence of this feline interloper directly above her. Perhaps it's time for the fur over her eyes to be trimmed ? Black and white C-A-T peers down at Sophie with a comingled look of disdain and boredom on its face.

They played this Swedish song on the Toulouse radio station this morning. Sophie and her companion listened to it with the volume up and the windows down en route to the bakers for curly croissant ends. It's starting to heat up - mid 20's forecast for later today :

Ancient man felt the cold .... but not as much we do:

Wednesday, April 27, 2022


It's the height of the owl mating season. The time of the year when they congregate on the The Rickety Old Farmhouses gutters for long, amorous chats. The gutter facing the lane is particularly popular. Owl courting takes place in the small hours and involves one owl shouting loudly at the other. Sometimes all the owls screech at each other at the same time. This produces a sound not unlike a saw cutting through concrete.

Angus starts his day suffering from mild owl induced sleep deprivation.  Sophie, of course, snores through it all. 'The Font' has headed back to the dentist in London for the installation of a new crown and has had a quiet and peaceful nights sleep in the super trendy hotel in the middle of town.

This morning we head off along the lane, detour to the orchid field ( it's such a wonder I've made a conscious decision to visit it twice a day ) and then dog leg through the village to open the church.

On the way back to the gate I hear a muffled ' M'Ongoose. M'Ongoose'. The Old Farmer is changing the oil in the venerable Mercedes.  His left leg has fallen asleep and he's a having difficulty pulling himself out from under the car.

I help him to his feet while Sophie looks on bemusedly. Tomorrow, The Old Farmer informs me, he's going to change the fan belt.

So starts a new day with a Polish Lowland Sheepdog in a small French village where nothing ever happens.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Finding its feet.

We're out in the garden at first light. Sophie's stomach is still unsettled with all the medication so Angus is attuned to any sounds that indicate an 'urgent' trip outside is needed. At this time in the morning the moon and Venus are gently dipping below the horizon. We stop and listen as the dawn chorus swells into a crescendo. 

Later, when the sun is up, Sophie gets given a yogurt pot to lick. She settles down in the courtyard to enjoy it .

Sophie is really much better after last weeks shock. We're back to having a morning walk together. The family diva follows me across the village green to open up the church. Today, the horses are studiously ignored.

As are the onion farmer and his wife.

We do however have a lengthy drink from the stream. This seems to please Sophie no end.

When we get home she settles into a contented sleep. There's nothing like the restoration of favoured routines to make a sheepdog girl happy.

How IKEA uses psychology to get you to buy more :

Monday, April 25, 2022


'Bonjour' from Sophie who is slowly getting back into her daily routine. This morning the garden is checked for the presence of C-A-T-S. This is done from the open door. She's taken the view that there's no point in a girl tiring herself out so early in the day.

The old mayor stops for a chat. Today he's in the ancient VW Golf without hubcaps. Sophie gets an ear scratch. President Macron was re-elected by a healthy nationwide margin. Here in the village things were different. Madame LePen won 37 votes, the incumbent just 18. For the first time ever there were abstentions. ' The world is changing' says The old mayor.

The orchid field coming into full bloom. I'd worried that the strong winds had damaged the orchid flowers but they seem to have recovered. In its timeless and never changing way the orchid field is a wonder of the world.

Angus stops off for a croissant at the modern cafe. He goes alone. Sophie is being kept at home until her next visit to the vets on Thursday. It would be an understatement to say that imprisonment ( and the lack of curly croissant ends )  is a state of affairs that the family diva  dislikes.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Home. Is there any better word ?


There is no better word in the PON vocabulary.

Thank you to everyone who has stopped by to comment. Thank you also to those who have recommended liver treatments. We have ordered some milk thistle. Other ideas gratefully received.

'We're pleased she's leaving' says the vet .  This can be taken in a number of ways but may reflect the fact that Sophie has for some time been making it audibly clear that she wants to get out of her cage. Clearly she didn't read the part of the script that says she's ill. Sophie is what the vet might describe as a ' difficult patient'. 

Today is voting day in the French Presidential election.  The weather is bad which may lower the turnout. The incumbent is likely to be returned with 55% of the vote although younger and middle aged voters are unconvinced. In the small market town his poster has had some very impolite things written on it.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

One tough lady.

Sophie was on a  drip for a second night. 

Yesterday, we spent an hour with her in the surgery. Sophie slept for much of the time but woke and howled when we made to leave. Uncanny.  The vet thinks this is a good sign. In fact he thinks this is a very good sign. She's one tough lady. 

If all has gone well overnight she will be sent home - possibly this afternoon. The vets view is that the familiar scents and faces will speed her recovery. We'll then take things one day at a time. There's something seriously amiss with her liver but the cause remains unknown.

Her return can't come a moment too soon. The Rickety Old Farmhouse is a very quiet place without the PONette.


Friday, April 22, 2022

This wasn't in the script..

Sophie doesn't want lunch. This is the first time she's ever refused food. We always used to joke that we'd know she was ill if she wouldn't eat. By five pm she's out of it, her eyes yellow, her breathing laboured. She is rushed to the vets . Although it's near closing time  he, and the team, spend an hour and a half with her.

After blood tests the prognosis is 50-50. Her TB ( Total bilirubin )  should be between 0 and 8.8. It's 147! 

She spends the night in the surgery on a drip. 

This morning more will be known about the reason(s) for the sudden deterioration. We are told 'decisions' may need to be taken. The vet understands that our agreement with her is clear and simple -  no pain. He says he can guarantee that for her but not for us.

I like our vet.


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Tideless seas.

A scudding clouds start to the day. Sophie carefully checks the garden for C-A-T-S. 

Anger Management Man is up and about early. He wanders along the lane having an animated conversation with himself. From what I hear on the village grapevine relations with the German billionaires builder seem to be worsening - again. Over the Easter weekend there has been some form of 'misunderstanding' . Easter Sunday visitors to the builder have parked their Hyundai 4x4 on Anger Management Mans lawn. A Krakatoa like eruption of passion ensued. It seems the volcano is still bubbling away. 

On our way down the hill we pass a sea of dandelions bursting into seed. Sophie discovers that if she charges through the field at high speed, head down,  seeds will parachute upwards. How cool is that ?

By the time we make it to the river the family diva is in power on mode. She turns to find out why her companion is so slow. Angus gets the full on ' Hurry up ! There's a world out there  ' look. For me it's just another morning walk. For her there are endless fields of soft grass , tideless seas and Olympian scents to explore.  There is nothing like a dog for putting the world into the right perspective.


Wednesday, April 20, 2022

A divas burden.

Sophie is asleep when I come downstairs. She snores quietly while I talk to Manhattanites in dark suits about Palestine and Sri Lanka and .. bizarrely .. the Solomon Islands. Ukraine is now baked into our morning conversations although it still seems unreal that people are being murdered and lives upended two hours flying time from here.

Conversations finished Sophie is harnessed up. She sits outside the front door and waits impatiently for me to bring the car up from the barn. The wisteria is now in bloom. The wrens who make it their home flit around Sophie's ears. Flitting wrens are a divas burden. She sighs.

This mornings croissant a lacklustre 5.2/10. The stand in baker has produced something that tastes like a white supermarket loaf and has the consistency to go with it. Sophie, it goes without saying, thinks it warrants at least a 12/10.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022


A five thirty tour of the garden with an early waking Sophie. The early start may have something to do with a spoonful of lamb curry as a garnish to last nights kibbles.

A little later, post breakfast, Sophie discovers there are new visitors in the  field by the church.

One of the visitors is very friendly. Sophie makes the executive decision to head off along the lane at super high speed. She's not at all sure about these new acquaintances. 

 Would you buy one ? :

Monday, April 18, 2022


Easter Monday. A national holiday here in France. This morning, our usual cafe closed, we head off to the modern bakery in the shopping centre.

Sophie has the car park to herself. She is on the look out for the mallards that usually can be found parading in front of the electrical store. This morning they are nowhere to be seen. We sit in the back of the little Volvo with the tail gate up and share a croissant.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse all is quiet apart from the sound of the frogs in the village pond, the chirruping of the hyper active sparrows ( scores of them ) that nest in the eaves, and the industrious buzzing of the bees on the wisteria and the alliums. The bees are far too busy to notice humans or the PONette. I used to think the village is a quiet place. It isn't. It positively thrums with the sound of activity. 

Sophie positions herself by the front door so that she can hurtle off towards the barn if any passing C-A-T dare show itself. It may be a national holiday but a sheepdog never stops guarding - even for a second.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Wonderful...absolutely wonderful.


Hearty Easter greetings from Sophie who has been up since five thirty  and has already chased black and white C-A-T off the woodpile and out of the barn.

At the cafe we are given not one but two croissants. The young lady behind the counter practices her well meaning but execrable English on me . ' Good mourninghs mayteeh. How is weees tuesday ?'.  I smile. Sophie is a big fan of two croissant days.

A quick detour to the river to glare at cormorants and have a drink.

Then a sprint home along the valley floor before it gets too warm. When you're a nine year old PONette life is wonderful.... absolutely wonderful. This morning will be spent in the kitchen watching a leg of lamb being prepared - an event that ranks right up there among the years high points alongside the Christmas turkey. There may be gravy tonight !

Last night we dine, virtually, on Scotlands remote west coast :

They have found interesting things when excavating Notre Dame :

And here's some ' Oh so English' Easter music :