Thursday, June 30, 2022


Sophie starts each day in the unshakeable belief that Angus is going to go into the kitchen and unload  the contents of the refrigerator on the floor. Each day she is disappointed. This in no way impacts on her optimism that tomorrow will see her dreams fulfilled.

This morning, as recompense,  there is a shared croissant. Angus gives it a 7.8/10 ranking. Sophie, who is an adherent to the quantity over quality school of croissant judging, gives it a 11/10. It would get 15/10 if only there was more of it.

The road through the village has opened up again. This may only be a temporary reprieve. The new mayor stops to tell me that there is subsidence in the valley and this keeps on disturbing the new fibre optic cabling. Stabilization works may be required.

On our early morning tour of the village we not only see the new mayor but we also chat to the farmer at the crossroads who is up early with a trailer to start harvesting his garlic crop. ' I'll drop some off at the gate when I'm done ' he says cheerily.

Has anyone ever seen a crosswalk flag ? I checked to make sure it wasn't April 1st :


Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Idle !

Sophie has had a mid-summer trim. I'm hoping that what it lacks in finesse it makes up for in comfort. She doesn't seem too bothered. I reassure her that ' it'll grow back again'. 

Sporting her new super 'svelte' look the family princess undertakes her start of day tour of the village. 

Goats, geese, hens and donkeys are all greeted - or to be more exact - glared at. There can be no doubting who is the chatelaine of this village ! We stop for a while by the concrete storm drain to look at the view and set the world to rights. Sophie soon gets bored with this and strides purposefully off to explore a rustling by the water hole. Life is too short to be idle !

The road through the village is due to be opened up again today. It's been closed for a couple of months so that the new fibre optic line can be installed and a subsidence problem resolved. Sophie has got used to having the lane to herself.  Soon we will be back to the rush hour bedlam of two tractors an hour rushing by. Angus is hopeful that the end of the roadworks will mean that the internet signal might be available for the whole day. There have been days when the connection has gone missing only to reappear late at night.

Tuesday, June 28, 2022


Louisiana weather. Under the clouds the heat is building and with it the humidity. Sophie and Angus have a long walk by the side of the river where the cool breezes linger. 

This morning the swan family are proudly displaying two tiny cygnets. They paddle backwards and forwards twenty yards off shore. The cygnets - two maybe three days old - are as white as snow.  Sophie stops and stares with walk pausing  incredulity. There is something at once innocent and reassuring about these new arrivals. I find myself laughing aloud and saying 'thank you' to no one in particular. One of the benefits of advancing 'maturity' is the ability to express ones gratitude  about unexpected joys without embarrassment.

Here at The Rickety Old Farmhouse we've left an area where the nettles can grow wild. The bees love it. Our numbers seem to be up  :

Monday, June 27, 2022


Our start of week call with the serious Manhattanites means we're up and about mega early. Roe v Wade and Hillary Clinton start the conversation which makes a change from Ukraine, Russia and Iran. Someone quotes a line by Mary Oliver - 'Everyone knows the great energies running amok cast terrible shadows'.  America remains a land where poetry is quoted - that used to be the case in France.

The Old Mayor and his side kick, the village Christmas decoration coordinator, have finished installing the new church door  lock. It took them four hours. For some inexplicable reason the new lock has been put in upside down. Opening it requires more concentration than you might imagine.  The key has to be inserted ' teeth up ' and then turned  counter clockwise 360 degrees - twice. This is basically the reverse of every other lock on the planet. The new lock also has a degree of  'movement' in its alignment which requires pulling the door 'firmly' towards you whilst  turning the inverted key in the hope that bolt and lock will somehow match up. This is NOT an improvement over the old lock.

Having opened the church and discovered the idiosyncratic nature of the new lock,  dog and owner head off to the modern bakers in the shopping centre. It's showery so we share our croissant in the back of the car. In a dry spell Sophie explores the grass verges, glares at pigeons and chases ( ineptly ) a pair of mallards. What a great Monday morning.

So starts a new week in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Presumably deaf

The tikes and their friends finished partying in their swimming pool at a little after half past two this morning. We know this because this is when the screaming and belly flops finished. The tikes parents are away and they are being looked after by their ( presumably clinically deaf ) grandparents.

Sophie did not find the early morning belly flopping to be conducive to a good nights rest. Every hour or so she would wake and let us know there was 'activity' in the village.

This morning she is bright and full of energy. She is certainly brighter and more full of energy than her sleep interrupted companion .

A 'so so' collection of cakes at the bakers and a 8.3/10 croissant at the cafe start our overcast and heavy Sunday morning.

The Old Mayor is up early. He and the man who is responsible for the Christmas decorations are hard at work on the church door. They plan to install a new lock to replace the current one which has a temperamental mechanism. I shall be given a new key when they're finished. The Christmas decorations man has a collection of power tools in the boot of his car. 'Get it done in no time' he says cheerily while holding a drill in his left hand.  I leave them as they discuss where they might find an electrical  socket .


Saturday, June 25, 2022

Counter intuitive


Another hot, sunny day forecast. Dog and master are up early to enjoy a tour of the village while the air is still cool.

On the other side of the lane the first of the sunflowers is in bloom. 

This year all the fields round The Rickety Old Farmhouse have been planted with sunflowers. We shall soon , literally, be afloat in a field of gold. Sophie has discovered that the young hares shelter from the sun beneath the sunflower canopies. This provides an added sense of purpose to her morning exploration. 

Nervous readers should be reassured that the hares are in no danger of being caught by the PONette on one of her hunting forays. Impenetrable shade, thick sunflower stalks and Sophie's counter intuitive hunting technique keep the leverets completely safe.

The Old Farmer sits on his balcony and watches the world go by. Regular as clockwork he settles down on his deck chair at first light. He watches the villagers set off for work before going inside mid-morning to change out of his pyjamas and get dressed. He reappears after lunch and is there until the later afternoon when it's time to head off in the venerable Mercedes to the supermarket in the neighbouring village . He arrives at the supermarket ten minutes before it closes. It at this exact time that the 40% off stickers go on the products that have come face to face with their imminent 'sell by date'. The Old Farmer considers 'sell by dates' to be a modern frippery.

This was the piper who played outside the wee house - a link was posted earlier in the week. The sound of Scotland the Brave was a twice daily accompaniment to my recovery from Covid. Little did I know he would play at his own graduation ceremony . What a small world :

Friday, June 24, 2022


5:34 am and the morning rush hour. A small army of snails climbing over the gate and into the garden. They're in a hurry to get into the shade before the sun climbs higher and the heat builds.

Give it another four days and the sunflowers in the field opposite The Rickety Old Farmhouse will be in full bloom. They've already grown to six feet in height. Sophie finds that exploring the canyons formed by their stalks is a great  way to start her day.

This mornings croissant strives for excellence but falls short. It looks the part but the dough is 'unexceptional'. Sophie is not bothered. For her the experience of going out in the back of the car for a curly croissant end with Angus warrants an 11/10. For the family diva life is one layer of excitement piled on another. The municipal refuse  workers in day glo orange dungarees greet Sophie by name. Angus is not so honoured. 

The weather weird . Long periods of sunshine followed by suddenly grey skies and showers. Thunder grumbles away in the distance.

Sophie checks the garden for C-A-T-S, chases a squirrel and barks at the collar doves. Soon it will be time for a restorative napette. Life at The Rickety Old Farmhouse has returned to normal .... and not a moment too soon.

Thursday, June 23, 2022


There is an emotional reunion at the airport. 

This morning the family diva has had a chance to consider matters. The look on her face says it all :

1) Where do you think you've been ?

2) I hope you have a good excuse !

3) Don't think I'm letting you out of my sight - ever !

Tickles and curly croissant ends should restore her equanimity.

I've listened to this morning and afternoon for the last week - 14 times in total :

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Equity in the future.

Off home. The Wee House locked up until 'The Font' returns sometime next month. The rental car will finally be returned to the airport and the company reassured that I've not done a runner in their underpowered Peugeot.

Vignettes of a different world.

Outside the chapel a group of soon to graduate Hong Kong boys cluster together. No families to cheer them on. Most of the Hong Kong boys are kilted. A political statement ?  I sense that not all of them will be returning to Hong Kong. Their future probably different from the way they imagined it would be .

In the queue at Tail End ( the great fish and chip shop on Market Street ) a Jamaican family with their daughter in her gown and hood. The first member of the family - anywhere - to go to university. Two embarrassed younger brothers in bought for the occasion suits hop from one foot to the other. The father tongue tied with pride. The grandmother on a happiness high. In between giggles she chants 'Oh my goodness' , over and over, as if it's all a fairy tale. They're chatting to an Indian family. The grandparents arrived from the Punjab forty seven years ago to work in a factory. The father built up a newsagents. Now their tall, pencil thin, son is a doctor. Their joy infectious. When you have equity in the future everything is possible. Such is the wonder of every day hope.

Then it's time to go. The town bells are still ringing. One peel plays Chariots of Fire. The Principal, a wee lady dressed in black velvet bonnet leads her colleagues down the road. This is the third procession of the week. Another seven to go and the same number next week. She waves . Repetition doesn't seem to have dampened her happy enthusiasm.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Almost back to normal.

From the other side of the garden wall the professor from the School of Medicine informs me that the new variant is highly contagious and at its most infectious in the first 48 hours after you catch it. In other words you're spreading it before you even know you've got it. He thinks that if I wear a N-95 mask I'll be fine to travel home tomorrow. He also thinks I probably picked it up on the flight coming over . The airline made the passengers wait ,cheek by jowl, for 50 minutes in a security pen that could comfortably hold a third of the 180 passengers that were corralled in there. Even the best mask can only do so much when you're that close to lots of other people. My next door neighbour gives me a small $10 blood oxygen monitor that clips onto the end of a finger together with the advice ' If the oxygen level falls below 94 worry. If not don't '. It doesn't.

A 'Blah' day was followed by two 'Yeugh!' days, followed by two more 'Blah' days. The 'Blah' days felt like the flu. The 'Yeugh' days felt like I'd drunk a full bottle of Gods ambre nectar - on an empty stomach. Deliveroo , organized by 'The Font' , proved to be a Godsend. All in all not a bad experience but not one I'd want to repeat. 

This morning my energy levels are back to normal and I'm waiting for the green light to travel. What I found was that LemSip and Strepsils worked pretty well. I lived on peach yogurt and San Pellegrino. My sense of smell remained intact throughout.

From the 'Wee House' I watch the twice daily University procession pass by on its way to the graduation ceremonies. Every morning at eleven and again in the afternoon at two all the town bells ring out and the pipers play. I'd have to say the young pipers are not merely good - they're excellent. Brightly gowned teaching staff follow along behind. This is going to carry on for another two weeks as the classes of 2020 and 2021 belatedly get their graduation ceremonies. Everyone seems determined to celebrate this small rite of passage. There are smiles and laughter everywhere.  The sun plays its part and battles its way through the clouds for every ceremony.  What are the chances of that ? 

 If all goes well Sophie will be reunited with the rest of her flock tomorrow.

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Self isolating

Despite best efforts at remaining Covid free, Angus is now self-isolating in Scotland.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Time and effort

Sophie is aware that a part of her flock has 'wandered'. Much time and effort is spent trying to find her errant charge but with no success. 

In Scotland the errant charge is trying to mate a Microsoft laptop to the Apple i-phone app. This is not as easy as someone imagined it would be.


Monday, June 13, 2022


Q: Who in their right mind is up and about at 5:30 am on a Monday morning ? A: Local farmers and a foreigner with his long haired dog. Farmers and foreigner wave at each other. The dog demonstrates a cold wet nose that is a wonder of the canine world. Dog and owner sit on the concrete storm drain and put the world to rights. A 'rustling' in the bushes causes dog to head off in search of adventure.

It's going to hit 40+ today. Although it's early the temperature in the mid-20's and claggy. A heat haze is already rising from the valley.

We go to the modern cafe with the windswept car park. This morning the car park isn't windswept. The tarmac just quietly steams away , radiating heat. The croissant one of those schizoid affairs. Looks like a croissant but tastes like processed supermarket loaf. Sophie thinks it's wonderful. A 5.3/10.

Later today Angus is heading back to Scotland. He has been instructed to a) dispense with the services of a cleaning lady who is frequently absent b) interview a replacement c) deal with a variety of tradesmen who need to repair doors, install new fires and replace the electrical fittings that the tenants decided to 'repair'. There may, or may not , be a blog depending on whether the French laptop recognizes the Scottish wireless provider. The Scottish weather forecast promises a week of no sun and a high of 17 degrees. Here, the forecast is for nothing but sun and a high of 42.

Some very French music accompanies our windows down trip to the bakers for the breakfast croissants. All French songs sound just like this :

This was played of France Musique :

And in a mad world a reminder that kindness is not only alive and well but thriving :

Sunday, June 12, 2022

The new date.

The village has been 'cut off' by roadworks for a month. To get here you have to make a long dog leg via the water tower. The works were supposed to be completed by June 9th but this morning the roadworks sign has been changed. The date of completion has now been moved from June 11th  to  June 24th. The Anger Management Man thinks the road closure is something to do with the installation of fibre optic cables. The German Billionaires Builder thinks it is to do with subsidence after the heavy rains in March. I would ask the New Mayor but he doesn't seem to have returned from his early June holiday.

Sophie waits with evident impatience while I chat to the Anger Management Man. Sophie, it must be said, is not good at hiding her impatience. Croissants await !

 Last night we dine, virtually, in Scotland :

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Shady canyons.

A hearty 'Bonjour' to one and all from Sophie.

This morning the family diva watches me top up the water in the pool. She  then heads off across the lane into the sunflower field. The sunflowers are now five feet tall and growing by the minute. For a PONette few things can match the excitement of charging through the shady canyons of the sunflower fields on a summer morning.

In search of cool air we go to the little 2 star restaurant by the side of the canal. It's  too early for croissants but the barrista digs out some oatmeal and date cookies. Sophie discovers that oatmeal and date cookies are to die for.

There is a houseboat on the canal. Someone inside is cooking bacon and eggs . Turns out to be a woman from Vancouver . She and her husband do twenty or so kilometres every day, stop off at some cafe or restaurant for lunch and then dock near a Michelin restaurant every night.  We are the first English speakers they've come across in the five days they've been here. Sophie gets given a Jacobs Cream Cracker. This is gratefully received .

 Street dogs :