Friday, September 30, 2022


Down to London ... and back. The weather at both ends of the journey  bright and sunny. Every hotel room is taken. Americans have discovered that the £ has collapsed and are making the most of the opportunity to visit while it's ' so cheap'. There are queues of earnest visitors everywhere. There's even a long line of cheerful Minnesotan pensioners waiting to go for a tour of the Supreme Court.

Angus is surprised to see that all the Ministry buildings along Whitehall are flying the blue and yellow  Ukrainian flag as a sign of solidarity.

The military staff who organized the funeral of the late Queen are having their photograph taken on bleachers that have been set up on the parade ground .

Back at home there is an emotional reunion with Sophie. You'd think I'd been gone for a month. We sit out in the garden and watch the sun drift lower in the sky. A bottle of champagne is opened. The excuse for popping a cork is my safe return. Every so often Angus is despatched indoors to bring out another layer of clothing. By the time we're two thirds of the way through the bottle we look like eskimos. We've got to an age where the only thing we can drink a bottle of without 'repercussions' is champagne. A large flock of geese fly by, circle back and land in a hooting mass in the field by the gate. There must be two or three hundred of them.  Sophie instinctively knows that chasing geese is perhaps not the wisest thing to do. Seagulls yes, geese ( en masse ), no. With the sun reflecting off the underside of their wings the arrival of a large flock of geese is a wonderful way to end the day.

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Quiet returns.

Quite the list of do's and dont's  painted on the doorway of a shop in town.

Having collected the dry cleaning Sophie and her companion head off in the car for a coffee and a croissant. We sit outside. The waitress says ' Are you sure ?' All the tourists have gone and the place is sinking back into the quiet of the off season. Sophie enjoys the croissant but her companion is less sure.  It comes from the Scots branch of the croissant family and can best be described as a distant relation.


Tuesday, September 27, 2022


Life is never dull. This morning there is a large piece of agricultural machinery to be examined. Sophie also discovers that after a field has been ploughed the seagulls arrive 'en masse' to grub for bugs. There is nothing quite as much fun as hurtling into a flock of seagulls and seeing them fly off. This is done four times before she tires of it. After breakfast Sophie settles in her 'zen' spot by the acer to dream of brave deeds.



Blustery. We wander down to the broccoli field to observe the roofers working on the doocot and chat with the tractor drivers. The tractor drivers know Sophie by name but Angus is simply 'the man who lives down by the coast'. 

Off to the cottage hospital for our flu and Covid jabs. The woman behind the reception desk  tells us to follow the arrows to the inoculation centre. ' You can't get lost ' she says . We get lost and somehow find ourselves upstairs when we should be downstairs. It seems there are various sets of arrows and we have tried to follow them all.

We are 'redirected' by the woman at the reception desk. This time round she speaks very slowly and uses extravagant hand gestures.  After what seems an eternity off arrow following we are greeted by a sign that tells us we're in the right place. Angus observes this cartoon image of a highland cow in a nurses outfit and wonders what audience this appeals to ?  " The sort of people who get confused following arrows " says 'The Font' deplhically.


Monday, September 26, 2022

Gustatory twilight world.

Talk about good luck. This morning we get our flu and C-19 jabs at the Community Hospital. Two cancellations showed up on the website just as we logged on at midnight and we got both of them. 'The Font' had a booster in France in May, Angus hasn't had one since last November.

On Sophie's sunrise comfort break we meet the woman archaeologist who unearthed a burial chamber on the foreshore. More discoveries are appearing. She takes us to see some fallen standing stones. They're hidden in the undergrowth down by the heron pond . Most have been incorporated into the stone walls of the broccoli field but a few of the largest lie where they fell. They don't appear on any map but  seem to be part of a large stone circle that was built down on the fertile ground along the coast. Angus finds it rather reassuring that people have been walking these very paths and marveling at these coastal sunrises for the last four or so thousand years. 

Sophie is less than impressed with the fallen standing stones. She has her mind set on her start of day croissant.

Last night 'The Font' thought it might be a good idea to go out for a pre-dinner drink. Angus suggested the bar in the fancy hotel that's a four minute drive away. 'The Font' thinks that option is lacking in character. We head off instead into the little coastal village. 'It's a lovely night. Let's sit outside' . It is indeed a lovely night but the thermometer reminds Angus that we're no longer in France. The suggestion we move inside is met with ' A little cold never harmed anyone'. 

The bar has a limited wine list. There are two wines that can be served by the glass. The barman suggests a cheeky little Romanian number. ' You can get it in both red and white '. The alternative is a super sweet Portugese desert wine. Angus settles, unhappily, on the cheeky little Romanian. He hopes that he didn't let slip an audible ' Oh my God ! ' of despair when faced with these choices. 'The Font' asks if they do non-alcoholic cocktails . 'Leave it to me ' says our host with a momentary hesitancy which suggests he's never made one before. Angus intuitively knows we are about to enter a gustatory twilight world . The non-alcoholic cocktail turns out to be raspberry syrup, tonic and crushed ice with a couple of  raspberries placed on top. Even 'The Fonts' determination to find something positive in every situation is tested by this.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The private beach.

Sunday morning. There isn't even a moments hesitation over which way we're going to go. Sophie heads out of the gate and inland to the potato farm and the village doocot. There are brief detours into the fields in search of tantalizing scents.  At the potato barn two Jack Russells come out to see who's passing. They immediately start barking. Sophie looks at them with all the hauteur  a ten year old grande dame can summon. This doesn't deter the Jack Russells who maintain their loud 'What do you think you're doing ?' alert.

The two noisy hooligans are ignored. They don't even warrant a friendly sniff. Sophie turns right and follows the farm track down to the sea. We've found a small sandy beach hidden among the rocks on the foreshore. It's barely twenty yards long but is sheltered from all but the north easterly winds. Our own private Caribbean. This is a spot where Sophie can sit on the grass and watch the sea without running the risk of getting her paws wet. Sophie finds the sea ( and the seals ) intriguing but her DNA tells her she's a landlubber and should resolutely avoid any contact with water.

On our way home we meet an uncommunicative man who grunts in reply to our 'good morning', two builders who are here to start putting the slates on the roof of the doocot ( they are 'volunteers' which explains why they're working on a Sunday ) and a newly retired doctor who lives in a house near the village hall. His grandchildren are visiting so he's decided to go on a long sanity restoring walk. He joins us on the path that leads back towards home but cuts away by the old pillbox  to see the herons on the salt lake. The doctor plans to stay out for an hour by which time the little ones should be dressed and have had their breakfast. He has a well behaved Spaniel that walks amiably alongside Sophie as if they're old friends. Sophie seems to have recognized that this is her home and that these are her neighbours.

The bales of hay in the water edge fields now waiting to be collected. The first of the fields were ploughed yesterday. Soon the landscape will turn from gold to freshly tilled brown. 

On our return we find someone has closed the farm gate on the path . Sophie makes it clear that I need to do something.

After that the family diva retires to her zen patch under the acer for a brief nap. So starts a bright Sunday morning with a fiercely independent and self evidently happy Polish Lowland Sheepdog lady.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Continental sophistication.

A hearty 'Good morning' from Sophie who starts her day by savaging an old French friend that she's found in the porch. Both squeakers in the old French friend are still working which is a cause for great PONette satisfaction .

'Savaging' completed we head off to the 'click and collect' for a coffee and a croissant. Sophie gets a bowl of water and enthusiastically devours the croissant ends. The barrista has again made the coffee so that there's literally a thin film of liquid in the bottom of the small paper cup. Two millimetres at most.  Barely enough to taste let alone swallow. The woman tells me this is ' a real espresso ' . I bite my tongue and ask for some hot water to be added to it. This is done with great reluctance. It's clear she thinks I'm a stranger to continental sophistication.  I walk back to join my fluffy companion nursing a centimetre of warm liquid . The click and collect will not be a daily port of call.

Off to the cheese shop . Sophie has to sit, reluctantly, in the doorway. She eyes up the tantalizing cheeses from the entrance with a ' why do you torture a poor maiden so ?' look on her face.

After the disaster of the first espresso we stop off at a cafe in the old Post Office for a second. Despite the early hour the umbrellas are up and the sun is debating whether it's going to make an appearance or hide behind the clouds. Angus is ignored by the waitress but Sophie is fussed over and given an oatmeal biscuit.

Back at home the family diva opts to recharge her batteries in the 'zen' spot by the acer. She is soon snoring.

Friday, September 23, 2022

Howl at the heavens.


Out of the door as the sun is rising. Sophie is off like a rocket. A large flock of ducks are contentedly feeding among the stalks in the wheat field nearest to the gate. Sophie sniffs the air then transitions into her head back, howl at the heavens, hunting mode. She disappears over the crest of the hill, ears flying. Shortly after a hundred ducks rise, complaining, into the air. Sophie returns  with a 'thrill of the chase' spring in her step. After that excitement she wolfs down breakfast then stops on the lawn to recharge her batteries in readiness for the days next adventures.

A small cottage has found a way of keeping the North Sea wind at bay. Rowans have been trained as buttresses up the walls and between the windows. 15" of natural wall insulation. Don't think I've ever seen this before. It must require a lot of patience to keep it neat and tidy.

The lady behind the bakery counter looks up as I come in. " You're early " she says by way of greeting. Today, the baker has been busy with strawberries. We settle for a wholemeal loaf and a butterscotch finger which the lady behind the counter says is ' to die for '.

Gingerbread also much in evidence. Seems Friday is a day when young mothers are more likely to buy their Toddlers a treat. When was the last time you saw a gingerbread man in the bakers ?

We pass the Indian restaurant. It has an exotic looking mannequin in the window . There would have been a time when this would have seemed incongruous in a small sleepy Scottish coastal town. 

Today Sophie will be supervising the plumbers, the architect, and the team that are coming to quote on a new kitchen. Waiting lists before any work gets done seems to be in the 6 - 9 months range. Let's see if that timeframe comes back as interest rates rise and the economy slows.

Thursday, September 22, 2022

Risk assess

A perfect morning. We head south to the wee fishing town and park on the street next to a Swedish registered Volvo that is rather the worse for wear. How do you do that to a car ? 

Sophie is full of the joys of life and leads the way, happily, down to the harbour. We have found a  place that cooks lobster to order. It's the same place that does the dressed crab for the grocer. Demand is high and supply dependent on the weather and the tides so you need to get your orders in early for a six pm pick up. 

We stop to read the town notice board. The minutes of town meetings, anywhere in the world,  are always intriguing. Seems that here car parking continues to be a particular challenge. So, it would seem, is speeding. One civic minded resident has volunteered and  is being trained on community speed watch. The problem is that 3 residents are needed to form a team - one volunteer to capture the speed, a second to note down the registration number and a third to 'watch overall'.  Angus wonders how you risk assess a 'speed watcher'.

We find a wee cafe that opens at sunrise and serves coffee. It has a cosy terrace that's sheltered and overlooks the harbour. Sophie, who is looking more presentable this morning, is greeted like a long lost friend. She is fed part of the proprietresses bacon roll. Forget croissants ! Beat a bacon roll if you can ! It goes without saying that Sophie's human companion is ignored.

Political correctness is alive and well. The first graders school is flying a flag that is half Ukrainian, half Union Jack. I don't think I've ever seen this combination before . Perhaps flying the UK and Ukrainian flags side by side might be a better solution ? I'm guessing that the locals have taken in a number of Ukrainian refugees and that this is a gesture of welcome to the littlest ones. From the number of Ukrainian flags that are flying in local front gardens it would seem that events to the East are followed closely.


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Beauty is the eye of the beholder

We have a leak. 'The Font' notices, and points out, a small lake on the floor of the 'snug'. I blame the puddle on Sophie's water drenched muzzle. Angus  is a believer in procrastination as a cure for all things. At this point the leak introduces itself. It starts to drip slowly but then accelerates into one of those three drips every five seconds type leaks that signals a household crisis. The pipe from the shower outlet to the drain has been eaten by field mice. 

None of the local tradesmen are answering their phones. I call the Secretary of the Golf Club. We're not related but share the same surname. 'Don't worry. I'll ask someone to pop by' he says in a tone of voice that implies getting a plumber at short notice is easily done. An hour later a team of young plumbers arrive. Cheerful, positive, polite and efficient. They stop the leak. They phone their boss. Major work is required. A shower unit has to be removed, a wall taken down and the floorboards 'lifted'. The field mice have been having a whale of a time in what was, for six months, an empty house. Nothing as tempting for a hungry field mouse as plastic drainage pipes and insulation. ' Aye, we see it all the time' says the most chatty of the team. The plumbers will come back later in the week. In the meantime we will use another bathroom. I send a glowing e-mail to the Golf Club thanking the secretary and praising the plumbers to high heaven. This should score brownie points with the local tradesmen who might start to show up on time. We now have to hastily plan for a bathroom refurbishment.

The plumbers go. The electricians arrive ... on schedule. They too are efficient and cheerful. Sockets are replaced and light fittings removed. The decorators don't show. The joiner does show up, but is dour beyond belief ( as in Scots undertaker type dour ) and recommends all sorts of work that seems ' secondary '. We want bookcases built. He wants to replace window frames. I'll find another joiner. 

Sophie is confined to the 'snug' so that the tradesmen can work unhindered. She protests that she hasn't been allowed to supervise.

After a trip to the foreshore where Sophie snacks on seaweed we return home. I observe that she looks quite unlike any dog on earth.

Sophie is unconcerned. As any PON knows ' Beauty is in the eye of the beholder' . A little mud ... and kelp .... and badger poo can't detract from that. Her inner beauty shines through ... almost.

An old NY seafront hotel reborn. I'd like to stay here  :


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

No guarantee of intelligence.

Today is a day for chasing workmen. The electrician and joiner have promised faithfully to show up this afternoon. We shall see. The plumber and the decorator aren't answering their phones or replying to e-mails. Later this morning 'The Font' will head off to check out a promising curtain maker. We have the feeling that thick curtains are going to be a necessity on this exposed coast as the year wears on.

Sophie greets the two young doocot builders who are already hard at work. Over the long weekend they've installed the new pigeon entrance. It looks very grand and is a faithful replica of the 16th century original. A developer had planned to knock the doocot down and build a 'Mac' mansion but the villagers raised the cash and bought the plot of land themselves. A picnic area has already been set up and native trees planted. All of these small coastal communities have a ferocious civic pride.

Sophie is taken into town for a croissant and for a walk on the beach. She finds a group of students barbecuing. They greet her warmly but make no attempt to share their sausages. They are glared at but still don't get the message. I explain to her that being a student doesn't guarantee intelligence. She then tries her luck with a Jack Russell with a dead fish. The Jack Russell proves to be remarkably relaxed about a bundle of fluff wanting to share his treasured possession. He deals with the situation by heading into the dunes at high speed. He then disappears - with his dead fish.  Sophie is left behind to marvel at his incivility.

A heron sits patiently on a fishing boat. It's there when we arrive. It's there when we go. It hasn't moved.

Back at home Sophie heads off to the shore to check on the seals. En route she disturbs the geese who honk noisily and  fly off . The daily routine of a Polish Lowland Sheepdog lady of a certain age is sprinkled with adventure.

 Tuesday morning wonder :

Monday, September 19, 2022

Victoria sponge.

The day of the Queens funeral dawns mild and dry. There's a wonderful sunrise. Supermarkets closed but the restaurants and bars in town will be operating as usual . 

The doors of the village hall already open. A large television is being carried in by two of the farmers sons. They both greet Sophie who seems to have been christened ' Miss Fluffy '. From the number of seats being set out it looks as though many of our neighbours will choose to view the ceremony 'communally'. The order of service has been printed out and placed on each chair. Part of the music will be the mysterious 'My soul there is a country far beyond the stars ' : . After the funeral the catering committee will provide sandwiches, Victoria sponge and the last of the strawberry farmers crop. Most towns and villages will gather in their local church to watch the ceremony but here the village church has been sold to a Dutch couple who have converted it ( well and sensitively and expensively ) into a bijou residence . 

Angus has brought back from France a particularly good bottle of champagne   - we will probably stay at home to watch the event and then join the villagers a little later. 

The BBC's live feed to the lying in state finally finished. The last mourners have been and gone. I thought a live feed showing people filing past a coffin would be way over the top but watching reactions has been mesmerizing. Some bow, some curtsy, some cross themselves, some do nothing. Some look bored, others are caught up in the moment. Younger folk blow kisses, others mouth 'thank you'. Farewells are as unique as finger prints.

The farm shop and 'Click and Collect' are open until nine. Angus notes a most peculiar flavour of chocolate on the shelves. This may be a taste 'too far'.

This morning we again opt for a pain au raisin to go with our coffee. I've ordered a single espresso but have to ask for it to be done again. The first cup comes out with barely enough liquid to cover the base of the cup. 'It's supposed to be like that ' says the young lady behind the counter. 

The pumpkin patch enjoying the sunshine.

Tweet of the day :