Monday, December 5, 2016

Only one more day of the collar.

Sophies stitches are removed tomorrow. As far as she's concerned the end of the collar wearing season can't come quickly enough. Then comes the small matter of keeping one very feisty diva confined for another six weeks.

A 'black tie' window display on the shopping street makes me laugh. Black tie with a leather jacket with astrakhan collar or with a white woolen jumper are all the vogue in rural France this year.

A Christmas tree has appeared on the market square. An overnight miracle performed by the municipal workmen on triple rate overtime pay. Bob is prevented from sprinkling his seasonal greetings over the base.

We stop at the fancy bakers. Mrs.Baker is in a good mood. Teething is now safely behind her ( and the baby ) and she has rediscovered sleep. This has done wonders for her outlook on life.  We buy a raspberry sponge. Bob gets given the end of a malformed ( and therefore unsaleable )  croissant. His tail goes into overdrive.

Bob gets taken to the rugby match then has a long walk down to the little waterfall for some inept fishing. Just enough exercise and activity to take his mind off things. He watches some Sunday afternoon visitors park their cars and head across the churchyard to the swaying Jesus . The wind is blowing at 40 mph and has set up a gentle, almost imperceptible, rocking. The visitors quickly go. The Metacam the vet prescribed  for Bob on Saturday seems to be having an almost immediate effect on him and the discomfort seems to be easing.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

' Since it is denied us to live long let us do something to show we have lived '.

Saturday afternoon. A change in Bobs behaviour. A collection of little things that we'd like to ignore but which take us to the vet. A full 45 minute examination. 'Probably just an infection' but an appointment for scans at the hospital in Toulouse arranged for Thursday. Metacam prescribed. Bob, unaware of human worries about his health, remains gloriously happy.

This morning at first light it's off down the hill to the stream. Bob and Angus go slowly. Not for Bobs sake but for his master who is less sure footed in the mud. A morning to spend with the family fellow doing nothing in style.  

Overnight, leaves have clogged the little waterfall. This interferes with minnow fishing but doesn't hinder Bob from having a go. I laugh at the sight of a large furry paw waving ineptly over the surface before splashing down. 

Here, away from the wind, dragon flies flit in the reed beds. Exotic bursts of lapis lazuli against the winter foliage. A grey heron, a female deer and a red headed woodpecker watch nervously from the shelter of the trees. This year the wild roses have produced masses of bright orange hips that attract clouds of starlings. A sign of a harsh winter to come ? In the field behind us, where the farmer has deep ploughed the clay soil, scores, possibly hundreds, of blue and yellow finches are grubbing for insects. They argue as they bob up the furrow ridge and into the dip, up the ridge and into the dip. Nature at its most comical. The low sun burns off the mist in the frost hollows. As the soil dries it emits faint 'popping' sounds. 

Dog and master head back up the hill. 35 minutes down, an hour back. Bob moves ahead with purpose, sniffing the verges, rolling in the long grass and barking at invisible things. ' Since it is denied us to live long let us do something to show we have lived '; the fill every second secret of canine contentment.

Sunday morning in deepest, deepest France profonde with a family fellow.

Saturday, December 3, 2016


Trial and error has taught Sophie that a slightly lopsided position is the most comfortable way of sleeping when wearing two collars. She sleeps in one bed and wedges the collar against the high side of another. I find myself telling her aloud that there's only another four days before the stitches come out and the collar is put away. Sophie is not in the slightest bit upset by the collar or her unusual sleeping position. She's just raring to chase blackbirds.

While little sister sleeps big brother keeps watch.

Loic the heavily bifocaled gardener blows leaves into piles. Bob races around , nose down, scattering the leaves. Loic , being one of Gods 'gentler' souls is gloriously unperturbed by his four footed companions trail of destruction.

Along the lane outside The Rickety Old Farmhouse the leaves from the plane trees have fallen and filled the drainage ditches. Why aren't there any leaves on the tarmac ? 

The little routines of a winter Saturday morning with a diva and her worried brother in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Friday, December 2, 2016

The Christmas tableau.

Nature is being kind to us. Another sunny morning. Who would believe we're into December ?

Trumpet of Death mushrooms in the greengrocers. We pass them by. Further along the aisles fresh oranges from Spain. I guess they're fresh as they still have the leaves attached.

To the hardware store for some grease for the garden gate. The Christmas tableau at the checkout is of the Psycho House of Horrors variety. You know it's a Christmas tableau because someone has attached a gold and silver bow to a petrol powered leaf blower. The mannequin is not the sort of thing you'd want to meet on a dark night. 

On our Way home we pass a group of farmers at the side of the road. Two or three times a week a group of them gather and head off slowly, line abreast, down the motorway towing trailers full of old tyres and fresh cow dung. At the turn off for the airport they stop, unload their cargo, set fire to the tyres and spread the ordure across the motorway. We think it's something to do with milk subsidies... or the lack of them.The French travelling public seems to take this disruption in their stride.

Sophie continues to make great progress. She gets taken on lots of little walks - front door to the front gate to look at the school bus - to build up her strength. The marvellous two handled harness means that her rear end is always supported so that there's no weight on the recovering leg. The best part of her day, apart from meal times, is watching the play schoolers head off. Nothing like a chorus of '' Bonjour Sophie " to perk a girl up.

Bob, as can be seen from his chin, remains drooly but happy.

So starts another Friday in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Beggars belief.

Second day without the cast. Not one but two soft collars stop Miss Sophie from biting her stitches. The irritation is clearly driving her crazy. An antiseptic lotion rubbed in morning and evening is supposed to help - but doesn't. She can now do all those things that need to be done - unaided. Hallelujah!

Activity in the village . The beautiful weather has brought out a group of visitors who carefully park their cars and wander across the village green to look at the swaying Jesus. They leave after three minutes. Perhaps they expected the statue to sway to order.

Bob has long walks, trips into town in the car , lengthy Mano a Mano's and a fishing expedition to the waterfall.

His sister dozes.

On one of our outings to the hardware store dog and master stop to read the menu in the new pizza restaurant .What the French can do to pizza beggars belief. Angus is rather taken with the Cannibale - ham , chicken, duck and minced meat. Bobs tastes run more to the Indienne - topped with chicken curry, creme fraiche and cheese.

Coincidence. The FT leads with a story that the new Treasury Secretary is to be Steve Mnuchin. Five minutes later an e-mail pops into the inbox from the Mnuchin Gallery in NYC

What are the chances of that ?

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One look says it all.

Sophie heads down to the vets to have her cast removed. The adhesive on the plaster tears her skin when it comes off. The family diva accepts this indignity in pained silence. The leg is however very itchy. She's nibbling at the stitches within 30 seconds of leaving the surgery. The large soft collar goes on in the back of the car.

Her opinion of this development is clear from the less than happy look on her face.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse Bob takes one look at his sister and decides this is one young lady who is best given a wide berth.

To salvage the day there will be some roast chicken with tonights kibbles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

An unusual destination for a holiday ?

You wouldn't know it from this pre-breakfast photograph but Sophie is making great progress. She's finished her course of antibiotics. The vet has prescribed some soothing lotion to ease her discomfort which makes life ( for both dog and family ) much easier - and quieter. The difficulty will be keeping her calm until the bone surgery heals. She is already displaying signs of wanting to chase the cats that wander into the garden.

Bob can't fathom out what's happened to his sister. This second leg is having more of an impact on his well being than the first.

Pilgrims are observed and , if they get too close to the gate, barked at.

Across the lane The Old Farmers Christmas Star, a feature of life in the village, has developed problems. He's taken it down in order to install new bulbs. In doing so he's discovered that the stars metal frame is rusting through. There is talk of 'welding'.

The Old Farmer informs me that he's thinking of taking a winter break in the Ivory Coast. There has been no indication of any interest in, or relationship to, the Ivory Coast in previous conversations. For an Anglo-Saxon this part of Africa an unusual destination for a holiday. Angus wants to ask if the Belgian lady would be accompanying him but thinks better of it.

And here's something very beautiful performed in the Ecole Militaire in Paris and conducted by a man who clearly loves what he's doing. A good start to a Tuesday morning :