Sunday, July 31, 2022


This morning 'The Font' has all the shutters open in an attempt to get some of the post dawn cool air into the house. Faced with all this activity Sophie opts for a start of day napette . A girl must retain her equilibrium when all around are losing theirs.

The process of downsizing now well and truly underway. Angus is responsible for dealing with furniture. 'The Font' will deal with everything else. Thank you to those who offered advice on how to cope with the trauma of moving.  We have decided to go full steam ahead with getting the larger pieces out of the house so that we can then do the rest at a less stressful pace. Next week the two French left hand drive cars will be sold and a right hand drive one acquired. All of this of course assumes that we will head to Scotland rather than Sweden. The next week should make everything clear or at least clearer.

Somewhere along the road we became collectors of ornaments. This was not intentional. 

Yesterday, an auctioneer arrived from Toulouse to whisk away some furniture and what he quaintly describes as 'trappings'. Three men are there to pack and load the van. One man does nothing, one man reads lists and the third man does everything. The third man manages to carry out an old Swedish grandfather clock on his back. This workload division seems to me unfair but I content myself by telling the auction house that in 'Pierre' ( not his real name ) they have a worker to be proud of. The others are left unmentioned.

I found this story intriguing.  Make sure you have an enclosed garage if you want to live in Nashville. So much for the US being an easy going place if you're a home owner  :

Saturday, July 30, 2022

More heat coming.

A wonderfully architectural cloud above the sunflower fields this morning as we head out of the gate. I tell Sophie it looks like a 'pain au raisin' but she's oblivious to everything other than a hare that's darting along the lane ahead of her.

Both dog and master are enjoying the cool air. The morning weather forecast has told us to prepare for another heatwave. Our third this year. Starting on Wednesday the mercury will be north of 40 again.

There's a distant growl of thunder rolling down from the mountains. Evidence of the hot air from the Sahara battling the colder air from the Atlantic. I guess we already know who's going to win this next bout. It must be getting on for two months since we last had any rain. This I have to say is unusual as we usually get a shower once a week.

After our morning trip to the bakers ( and a detour to the builders merchant for some paint ) Sophie settles down for a start of day nap . This soon morphs into deep, untroubled sleep. Sophie, like all our PONs, emits a very contented snoring sound when she's in her happy place. From time to time she twitches and her tail wags which tells me she's replaying the bravery of her hare chasing moment. Angus wonders if the hare even knew it was being chased. Sophie's hunting technique remains big on bluster but low on directional acuity. I decide to keep this thought to myself.

This Edinburgh restaurant has Turkish Delight Cheesecake. Something I never knew existed but now so so want to try :

A lengthy introduction from the radio presenter but then our day gets off to a foot tapping start with this Radio France broadcast :

Scottish croissants seem to be getting better :

Friday, July 29, 2022

When, where and how ?

An unusual name on a French truck as we pass through the autoroute pay station this morning. We're off to pick up 'The Font' from the airport. A bid has been put on the small sea side cottage. Now we wait to see what happens. The sellers will refuse the first offer. We'll come back in with something higher. With a recession looming it won't be what the sellers would like/expect but both sides will hopefully be happy.

While waiting in the back of the car Sophie runs through her gamut of facial expressions.

These range from 'What's keeping you ?' ..... to 'I've been in the back of this car for hours ' ....

to the unmistakable ' There won't be any croissants left in the bakers if you dawdle any longer '.

In The Rickety Old Farmhouse furniture to be sent to the auction house is being set aside. When and where and how did we ever collect so much stuff ? Angus prints out labels and collates a list of what's to go and what's to stay. Sophie dozes. Downsizing is going to be a long and complicated process. Things do not easily fall into the two apparently simple categories of 'keep' or 'go'.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Poetry and water

The pilgrims are drifting back. We really haven't seen many in the two and a half years since the pandemic struck. Last night a young man in his mid-twenties stops at  the near gate. He's wearing one of those Australian hats with corks hanging from the brim. Sophie emits the PON howl to alert me to the fact that something untoward is happening. I wander over to see him.  ' Is your water chlorinated ?' he asks. It takes me a second or two to translate this unusual conversation opener. He passes a small plastic bottle through the bars and asks me to fill it. He then takes three sips and announces that it's chlorine free before passing an empty litre bottle and asking me to fill that. All the while Sophie maintains an unhelpful full on alarm bark.

The man thanks me and is last seen wandering slowly past the war memorial as the sun was setting. Where will he sleep. Is he walking at night to avoid the heat during the day ? Maybe he has a car ?

The poetry snippets that were posted around the village last year have returned. A selection of haikus can be found among the posters on the village notice board. The German billionaires wife has started up her yoga retreat again so the haikus may have something to do with that.

Back at home Sophie watches me water the garden and air the house. She can soon be found in that unusual dog place half way between wakefulness and sleep.

When she tires of that the family diva wanders indoors for a professional nap. She walks with an air of purpose that makes it abundantly clear a girls work in NEVER done.


Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Almost, glitch free.

The notaire must have a bit of a health thing because he cleans his keyboard four times with an antiseptic wipe while we wait for the buyers lawyers to come on line. Each time he disposes of the old wipe in a waste paper basket at the far end of the room before opening a drawer in his desk and pulling out a new wipe.  This must be borderline OCD. Thankfully, gone are the days of face to face meetings and forms to be signed umpteen times over. Technology , in the form of video conferencing, has arrived in deepest France profonde . The whole procedure was , almost, glitch free. 

After all is agreed 'The Font' and Angus head off for a croissant. Sophie loves it when the whole family go off for a coffee. She's worked out that it means double croissant ends. That alone means that this mornings offerings are scored at 20/10.

After a trip to the airport it's home to check out the village. Sophie is insistent on heading across the parched fields to the Holy Oak. En route she gets covered in dried foliage.

From time to time she stops to make sure I'm keeping up. At the storm drain we pause and enjoy the breeze that's blowing down from the mountains.

Serendipity continues. 'The Font' is heading back to Scotland to see a small house in a coastal village. According to the last census the village has a population of 80.  The property that's for sale is part of a farm and outbuildings that have been subdivided into four units . It's small but surrounded by water on three sides and  fields on the other. The family that have farmed there for 300+ years live in one of the houses and have left several acres of wild lupins which we are told look spectacular in summer.  The problem , if it is a problem, is that the house is a mile down an unpaved road in a 'suburb' of the village . We - or more precisely - 'The Font' will see what can be made of it. A hundred yards from the front door there are deserted sand beaches and seals - which have always been the backdrop to the lives of our other PONs. There is a hotel with a good restaurant a half mile away beyond a stream, a stone circle and an abandoned lifeboat station. 

This, as an art form, is very clever :

When it comes to downsizing the first call is to the auctioneer :

Tuesday, July 26, 2022


Things are looking up. This morning we wake to cloudy skies, coolish temperatures and a hint of a breeze. A good enough combination to justify heading off with the PONette to see the donkeys in their field.

On our way back Sophie detours into a drainage ditch in search of something 'delectable. . The ditch is rather deeper and narrower than she'd anticipated so there is a slight delay while she extricates herself, inelegantly, from it. Once again Angus quietly marvels at the resiliency of her titanium knees.

This mornings croissant still warm. Out of the oven for two, maybe three, minutes.  I'd give it a 9.4/10. Sophie gives it a tail waving 15.

By the time we're back home the solid layer of cloud is burning off to be replaced by some bubbly clouds that hold out the promise of thunder. I take a case of Badoit across to The Old Farmer. He's not been out in his car these last three days . I'm worried he's not eating but he claims to have a freezer stocked to the hilt. He's also getting meals delivered by the meals on wheels service but he considers these to be 'inedible' and the woman who delivers them ' as bossy as Hitler'. The Old Mayor has taken to looking in on him in the evenings. 

A blast from the past. This morning Sophie and Angus headed off for their morning croissant singing, windows down, to this on Radio Nostalgie :

This made me smile although boat owners might not be so pleased :

Later today we shall be going to the notaires to sign the first stage of paperwork needed to sell the house. It is time to get back in the saddle and seek out new and even greater adventures. 

Monday, July 25, 2022

Like 1988.

It's cooler than it has been but the late afternoon temperatures are still in the high 30's. This morning as we set off across the parched village green it's a refreshing, but humid, 23. The old mayors attempts to keep the grass alive through frequent watering have failed. By the war memorial we meet Monsieur Bay who has been to the boulangerie for the breakfast baguettes. ' It was hot like this in 1988 but only for two days, not three weeks'.

These super dry conditions are a nightmare for PONs and their owners. Dried seed heads are attracted towards Sophie's coat  like iron filings to a magnet . A full ten minutes has to be spent on the grooming table in an attempt to remove some of them. There's a type of small sharp grass seed that works  its way through the fur and into the skin.  After ten minutes of grooming and ever increasing squirming we agree , by mutual consent, to continue the process later.

After a trip to the bakers for some curly croissant ends and a drink of water Sophie decides that the optimal use of her time is a quick nap at the front door.

 So starts a Monday morning in a small and sleepy village in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Summer living.

The little stream has just about dried out in the heat. Barely enough flow to provide Sophie with her morning drink. The mud on either side of the stream bed freshly churned up by recent visitors - deer, civet and wild boar tracks aplenty. Sophie is lost in a reverie of scents.

Back in the village the heat seems to have finished off the carp in the fish pond. A dozen or so dead carcasses float listlessly on the surface. The high temperatures have taken the oxygen out of the water.  Nearer to home the bigger, moorhen, pond also seems to be suffering. The water level the lowest I've ever seen it. The frogs , noisily abundant three weeks ago, have all gone. This water shortage is becoming an issue for wildlife as well as humans.

After that a quick detour to the bakers for a croissant and something for lunch. Today we opt for a chocolate covered 'Artisan'. 

The pace of summer living in heat drenched France profonde is slow.

 Whoever knew making mobile homes was so complicated ? :

Saturday, July 23, 2022

PONder anew.

Having the church door open through this heatwave has allowed the warm air to finally dry out the water marks on the tiled floor.

Sophie spends the first three hours of her day - from five thirty to eight thirty - either having breakfast, checking that the village is ship shape or PONdering at the front door. She rather enjoys PONdering  with her nose out and rump in.

This morning she wanders over the see the gentleman who has had open heart surgery and has been told to walk ten miles a day. He breaks his journey in the village and sits on the green bench to check his e-mails. Sophie leaves him when it's clear that he's not carrying any biscuits.

The Tour de France was a non-event. Everyone gathered at the expected time to see the riders pass. However, there was some form of demonstration by disgruntled farmers and the whole thing was delayed. Most of the villagers, ourselves included, drifted away in the heat leaving the two gendarmes and a German family with folding deck chairs and a primus stove to watch the pack eventually race by.

This morning Sophie spends some considerable time sniffing the tyres of the municipal refuse truck. I try to hurry her along but she will not be moved. There's nothing quite like the garbage trucks tyres to grab a girls attention. By the time we've finished our croissant ( a 8.9/10 ) the refuse workers and their vehicle have gone.

 A virtual ( and more affordable ) dinner in Brooklyn :

Friday, July 22, 2022

The great day arrives

The Tour de France came through the village in 1983. An event still spoken about by some of the older villagers. This time it's passing by on the outskirts. Two neighbouring villages to the north will, briefly,  be at the centre of national attention. 

In The Rickety Old Farmhouse letter box we find a one page ' information bulletin '. This informs us that this will be the last of the village information bulletins. In future there will be a new communal internet site  to present village news and 'activites de l'intercommunalite'. The new site is currently ' en fin d'elaboration'. Angus wonders how many villagers have a computer. He also wonders just how long ' en fin d'elaboration ' means.

The electricians come to service the pump that draws up water from the well. Sophie soon discovers the electricians aren't bearing gifts of Jaffa Cakes. She ignores them and opts for a napette at the front door surrounded by irrigation paraphenalia.

This morning we stop to explore the village solar light. A mute testament to the power of ' we have money left in the budget'. It stands in splendid isolation and sheds its light over the patched parcel of grass next door to the village hall lavatories.

Then there's time for a quick chat with the old mayor before we head off for our morning croissant. Todays offering a 9.2/10. Light, fluffy, ever so slightly buttery and with a satisfying crunch to the texture of the crust. The municipal refuse workers once again greet Sophie by name but ignore her human adjunct.

Last night we dine, virtually, in Rome. Angus can't help but think that prices have been adjusted for the strong US dollar :

Thursday, July 21, 2022

No uncertain terms.

Cooler this morning but still no sign of the forecast, and much needed, rain. Sophie is much happier facing temperatures in the mid-20's rather than high 30's.

Yesterday was a day of high drama. There's no sign of the Old Farmer on his balcony when we head off for our start of the day walk. Still no sign of him at six, or seven. Highly unusual. I wait until ten then bang on his door. No reply. I call his mobile. From outside you can hear it ringing. He has one of those phones with large buttons and a super strong ring tone. I call his daughter and the old mayor. They too try banging on the door. The sapeur pompiers are summoned. It takes them twenty minutes to arrive. Their numbers have been pared by the latest Covid variant that is sweeping across France and we have to wait for them to assemble a crew.

The firemen break the glass doors that lead onto our neighbours terrace. They find him lying on the bed. The paramedic discovers that he's breathing like a baby. Somehow he's managed to sleep through everyones efforts to wake him. He's taken off to hospital for checks.

In the evening he's back at home sitting on his terrace. He's pretty much lost his hearing, is not eating properly and isn't sleeping well due to the heat. The hospital wants to keep him in. He's not having it. He wants to be home. His daughter is told in no uncertain terms to come and collect him. After what she tells me is a ferocious argument she agrees.

As the sun sets Sophie and her companion do a tour of the village. We stop to the the German billionaire about all the excitement.