Friday, March 24, 2023

Dog pictures.

Sophie is still keeping close tabs on me.

She trots out of the house and stands, carefully positioned by the gate, to make sure I don't make a dash for freedom.

As we head off along the track that leads to the sea she turns with an undeniable 'Just when you thought you'd got them trained they wander ' feistiness in her look.

Down on the beach a dead herring attracts her attention. This enables Angus to  wander on ahead.

The good weather brings out the students. At the good coffee cafe all the outside seats are already taken. The weather is once again in one of its well behaved wet at night sunny and dry during the day moods.

Angus wanted to go to this exhibition in the Wallace Collection on Manchester Square but he got the dates wrong :   This, for reasons that may be apparent, is my favourite :


Thursday, March 23, 2023

Mildly admonitory.


Sophie keeps a close eye on me. She wants to make sure that this errant part of her flock doesn't escape again.  Her attitude is mildly admonitory although an emotional reunion at the airport has done much to restore trust. A long walk on the beach and a trip to the bacon roll cafe will soon get the relationship back on a even keel.

Remember those charity collection displays from the 1960's ? The local airport arrivals hall has not one ... 

.... but two of them. The sheepdog nestling up to an ever so slightly squiffy  lamb is so improbable it makes me chuckle aloud. There also used to be a charity that used old sea mines, painted red and white, to collect loose change. I wonder if any still exist ?

The arrivals/departure hall has a bar at one end. I presume this is busy when the flights full of oil rig workers head off to Shetland . This morning the lady behind the counter is a solitary figure.

London was bright but gusty. 60 mph winds make both arrival and departure in the little propellor plane  'sporty'.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Momentary panic.


Angus is flying to London. With Easter and the Coronation on the horizon this is the last pre-summer chance to travel while things are calm and hotels still have rooms.

Before he goes there's time for a quick walk on the beach ....

... where an incoming wave catches Sophie off guard. There is momentary panic followed by a shriek.

Then to the bookstore to find something to read on the plane. By this stage Sophie's paws are largely dry. After a sliver of shortbread and a bowl of water at the student cafe she once again regains her composure.

The Coronation will be screened live outside the town kirk . Here, in the village, the widescreen television last used at the late Queens funeral will be set up in the village hall. Wine and sandwiches will be provided. Volunteers are sought to put up the bunting.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Vertical take off.

Village, town and beach thoroughly checked by the PONette. All, with the possible exception of the Jack Russells and the village pig , are declared to be in order. As a reward for such diligence the family diva is taken to the Jaffa Cake cafe for an early morning treat.

The two pigeons that call the front garden home have become four pigeons. They sit on the fence and watch Sophie. This insouciance drives the PONette wild. She emits the concrete shredding shriek reserved for such occasions.  Did you know pigeons can take off vertically ?

So starts a super quiet Scottish Tuesday morning with a Polish Lowland Sheepdog. 

Yesterday a super enthusiastic Sophie met an American student making a video on her beach. It's now appeared on YouTube. I wonder why she's been edited out ? 


Monday, March 20, 2023

Three swans


Sophie starts her Monday morning with a thorough tour of the village. Jack Russells are greeted, the village pig glared at and a number of startled pheasants chased - ineptly. Three swans fly, low, over us. They're the first of many heading North. The sound of their wings makes Sophie look up. Two young deer come face to face with a stone wall for the first time. Their mothers leap over it in a single, graceful, bound. The youngsters take half a dozen increasingly panicked attempts before they manage. I feel like cheering when the smaller of the two finally makes it. One of natures ' look what I can do !' moments.

The beach pretty much deserted. In fact for the first twenty minutes of our walk it is deserted.

We head off to the good coffee cafe. Twenty or so yards down the road three people are standing on the pavement watching a small but steady trickle of water cascade from a second floor bathroom window onto the ground below. An ever  changing group of hotel residents on the other side of the road pop out to see what's going on.  In a small Scottish coastal town you take your excitement where you can find it.

The yellow carnations in the window of the house facing the cinema lasted a full three weeks. This morning they've been replaced by some bright orange roses. The term papers on the table inside the house don't seem to have been touched in a month... or possibly since we arrived.

The cafe that was the centre of the Netflix filming is once again fully open. Power has been restored after the fuse box incident. A freshly painted sign in the window says ' Where Kate met Will ' . It has now had a second ,qualifying, line added to it - ' For Coffee'.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


The central heating boiler breaks down . 'The Font' is in the shower when it happens. The water temperature drops - suddenly. Angus is called. Getting a heating engineer on a Saturday morning is well nigh impossible. Thankfully, a friend at the the University knows a man who knows a man who shows up 30 minutes after I get through. The man is the sort of Scot who is 'not a ray of sunshine'. He is also extremely, borderline clinically,  taciturn. He works on the boiler for much of the morning emitting half whispered guttural deprecations as he does so . He grunts with irritation when he arrives and grunts with irritation when he goes. ' Who serviced this boiler ? ' he asks in a tone of voice that suggests a crime has been committed. The good news is that he leaves with the heating gurgling happily away. In the two and a half hours he's here his face remains unburdened by even a hint of a smile. As he gets into his van he says ' You were lucky to get me. Young people don't want to work weekends'. I'm betting the bill, when it arrives, will be equivalent to the GDP of a small African country. He is thanked profusely. A good boiler repair man, taciturn or not, is worth his weight in gold.

After a walk on the beach Sophie and Angus have a leisurely stroll back into town. How quiet it seems after last weeks excitement. The wee cafe that had briefly turned into a pizzeria ( together with Chianti bottles on the tables ) has reverted to being a wee cafe. It's not fully open yet. The staff are busy cleaning the window ledges. ' You can't believe how much dust they left' says the owners daughter. Despite the dust and the fact the power has been cut off ( due to a Netflix induced mishap in the kitchen ) Sophie gets a sliver of shortbread.

A miniature Schnauzer has been drinking from the dog bowl at the student cafe. Sophie sniffs it and decides to give it a pass. Sophie is very particular about water. She ignores the water bowls at home much preferring water from a puddle. A bowl that has already been used by a Schnauzer is beyond the pale. 

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Bold deer.

The weather 'changeable'. At one stage yesterday it was a comfortable 14 degrees under a cloudless sky. Two hours later it was wet and chill. All being well, in another three weeks the weather will be warm enough for the PONette to have a major summer fur trim.

Town is back to normal. The last of the camera crew were due to leave yesterday morning but somehow everything dragged on until the evening. Down by the golf course there's an entire field of 1990 era cars being loaded onto transporters. They've been used in filming and are now being taken back down south. After our tour of the beach  we think of going to the trendy cafe in the middle of town but it's already full of students. 

Back at the last house before Denmark the sun comes out. Sophie wanders down the track to the waters edge. She's looking for the Jack Russells but they're long gone. There's a definite change in the seasons taking place. Soon we'll be in the time when it's light from four in the morning to midnight.  In the last three days there have been subtle changes in our little corner of paradise. The fallow field has given itself over to birdsong which starts at 5:39 and carries on for the better part of an hour. The deer are getting much bolder. 'The Font' finds two of them contentedly grazing on a flowering currant in the field behind the garage. 

This will give you a feel for the dislocation that has hit this small town of 18,000 souls.

Friday, March 17, 2023


Good morning from Sophie who has now reached a stage in life where segueing into the new day takes a little longer than it used to. Her nocturnal wanderings have seen her end up in the hallway by the porch door. Waking up here seems to surprise her.

Down on the beach someone is walking alongside an elderly relative in a four wheel electric motability chair. Sophie has never seen a motability chair and heads off to find out what manner of thing it is. The ( very ) elderly lady passenger is  is delighted to meet the PONette. In some inexplicable way Sophie seems to know that this is a conversation not to be hurried. The accompanying niece tells us the old lady is moving from her home of 47 years into 'sheltered accommodation'. She has asked to be taken out onto the sand. There is much left unspoken in this brief interchange . 

We try to stop off at the good coffee cafe but it's not to be. Our usual parking space is filled with Netflix crew filming 'filler' shots . For the forthcoming episode the New Picture House has rather mundanely been renamed ' Cinema'. An extremely old fire engine has been parked outside to provide 'period' flavour. Today marks the end of a week of Hollywood glitter. Actors, directors and production crew are all set to move back to the bright lights of London. The hotel and restaurant owners will miss them. 

We head off to the new espresso bar facing the auld kirk. It's the first time we've been here. It's very small.  The coffee here also proves to remarkably good.  It starts to pour. 

When we leave the rain has stopped. A group of ducks wanders across the road ahead of us, through the arch and into a college cloister. Sophie would give chase but settles for a frustrated 'shriek'. The ducks are unimpressed.

Maine hotels enter the 21st century :


Thursday, March 16, 2023

City girl.

We have the beach completely to ourselves this morning. Hail, a biting wind and temperatures on the wrong side of  freezing keep sensible folk indoors. There is not a soul to be seen. 

Sophie displays a perverse enthusiasm for these conditions. My suggestion that we hurry along is met with surprise. Why race when you can dawdle ?

PON fur can quickly absorb its own body weight in water. 20 kilos of PONette can turn into a dripping 40 kilo fluff ball. In the car park Sophie is towelled dry and then wrapped in a blanket. She sits in the back of the Volvo looking pleased with herself. She gives me her ' Let's do this again .... soon ' look.

Filming continues in town. The sheer scale of the operation is amazing. Netflix has a budget that most studios can only dream of and 'The Crown' is their most popular and profitable series. There must be at least a thousand people involved - actors, camera men, security guards, drivers, odd job men and five hundred folks in the crowd scenes. Today it's the turn of the stretch of the road in front of the Wee House to be closed off for the day. The Waco tenants are in for a surprise. Let's hope the weather improves.

The Falcon cooker which was supposed to take four months to get here has arrived . From placing the order to delivery has taken exactly eleven days. The supplier agrees to keep it in their store room until the builder starts work on the new kitchen in May. June is set aside for the bathroom team and the conservatory and summer house will, hopefully, be put up in July. What could go wrong ? We shall move back into town for the summer during which time Sophie will revert to being a city girl.

Not a paper I usually read but this link shows what's been going on. Long time readers will recognize the cinema opposite the good coffee cafe and the window with the ever changing vase of flowers :

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Blue crimplene.

The two village ladies are heading off for their cameo appearance as 'charwomen'. For the shoot they will wear blue crimplene work coats , smoke cigarettes and  have a 'knowing' look. The one who used to teach medieval French poetry at Oxford shows me her idea of what a 'knowing' look is. ' They'll think you're in agony' says the other. We all laugh. This morning the two ladies have seen an eighth deer. 

It's light by six now. Sophie and her companion are on the beach not long after. We see three runners. One of them says hello to Sophie the two others are too far away .

The Jaffa Cake cafe has flowers on every table. Lit by the rising sun it looks almost continental. We are the first customers although within five minutes a procession of town dogs and bleary eyed owners start to wander by. I observe to Sophie that there are appear to be no C-A-T-S here. Or, if there are, I've never seen one.

The delicatessen is also looking remarkably 'Spring' like. Perhaps Netflix are going to film a scene of the heir to the throne going in for a pint of milk and a packet of Garibaldi biscuits ?

We'd been told there would be new tables ' a la Paris' outside the cafe near the 'Wee House'.  From the look of things the entire place is being given a make over - inside and out. A group of set designers are busy taking the cafe sign down and putting up a new one for the 'Pizzeria St.Andrea'. Two chunks of plaster have been knocked off the wall in the process. An orange vested security guard glares at us. Perhaps he thinks we're going to steal a ladder ?

Tuesday, March 14, 2023


Spring is well and truly here. Wild bluebells are shooting up everywhere. The golf course covered in them.

A particularly large gull sitting on the roof of  a car gets the full on glare treatment from Sophie. The gull is not concerned. It receives the first 'shriek' of the day.

Down on the beach a friendly hyper active mutt runs rings around the family diva  . Sophie tries to give chase but wet sand and two metal knees work against her. The hyper active mutt disappears - at high speed - in pursuit of its master.

The growths ( not one but three - one on the muzzle, one behind an ear and one on her back  ) aren't malignant. The vet says that removing them will need a general anesthetic. Sophie doesn't seem bothered by them. We'll keep an eye on things but don't really want her to face surgery unless she has to. She's already had quite enough for one lifetime.

Yesterdays Netflix filming was in front of the house where Prince William used to live. A grand 7 bedroom affair in a Georgian terrace, Today filming will be in front of the Wee House in town. The Texan tenants will find that the pavement outside the front door will be 'busy'. 

Monday, March 13, 2023

Slippery path.


Monday daybreak. A flotilla of vans and minibuses lined up against the Abbey wall tells us that filming has started again. 

A group of men wearing colour coordinated Aran sweaters and matching woolen hats are standing around on the quayside looking like lobster fishermen. The director is shouting at them. He wants the lobster creels to be stacked to chest height. They, I'm told,  are getting £250 for their cameo roles ... plus breakfast. The locals seem to be thoroughly enjoying this touch of creel stacking  glamour  although the throng of technicians, security guards and busy young California women with i-pads seem less than happy being up and about before seven am.

Sophie and Angus head back to the beach cafe  that makes exceptionally good bacon rolls. The cafe opens early to cater to the staff and students  in the marine laboratory. This morning we're the first (and  only customers )  so we have to wait for the bacon to brown . Sophie sits beside me and shuffles with impatience. From here we can just make out a huge drone flying up and down the pier. It's filming close ups of the actor who is playing Prince William. In real life it is highly improbable that the heir to the throne would have been allowed to go running on the uneven and slippery pier wall at this, or indeed any, time of the morning. 

After that we have the place pretty much to ourselves.

Sophie has developed a half inch long growth on her muzzle. It doesn't seem to bother her but looks alarming. It seems to have come from nowhere and grown to its current size all within the last three weeks. A quick trip to the v-e-t-s is scheduled for this afternoon.

Sunday, March 12, 2023

The film crew

We go into town for a pre-dinner drink but all our usual watering holes are full of fashionably dressed but bored Valley girls. From the snippets of conversation we catch it seems they'd be much happier back on Mulholland rather than facing an incoming Scottish snow storm. The Netflix folk have had two days of bright sunshine. The outlook for next week when the filming gets into full swing is less propitious. I'd assumed the crew would arrive, do a couple of days filming and then go. In fact they'll be here for the better part of two weeks. This will make the hotels and restaurants very happy.

Down on the shoreline a tiny wader scurrying back and forth. I think it's a Sanderling. They are very comical. The Sanderling ( if that's what it is ) remains unbothered by Sophie who has discovered a healthy respect for waves.

A black spaniel , accompanied by three warmly dressed humans, attracts Sophie's attention. The black spaniel is only interested in a tennis ball a young man is holding and gives the family diva the cold shoulder treatment.  Sophie backs away with what I could swear to be a look of incredulity on her face.

Just as we make it back home the long promised snow storm bears in from the sea. The Valley girls will not be happy. They have taken over the biggest 5 star hotel in town so I'm guessing the spa will be working overtime.The film crew numbers must run into the hundreds. Seemingly 'The Crown' is a mega big budget series with production values to match.