Monday, December 11, 2017


Sunday night. An unexpected mountain storm scatters the watering cans and buckets stored in the barn. Bob and Angus go out to set matters straight. Bob is amazed, as he's always amazed, that the security lights come on. Sophie opts to stay inside and guard the house.

When we get home from our Monday morning walk ' The Font' informs me that a bird has flown into the upstairs kitchen. Sure enough there's a robin sitting patiently on the cooker hood. It watches as I open the windows. Then, without going through the manic wall and window banging antics trapped birds usually follow, he's gone. The first thing it does is fly back to the terrace doors it just came in. I'd like to know more about robins and their bravado. 

To the market for some Baron d'Agneau with young garlic

and some namesake steak for Angus.

We order our Christmas Turkey. Bob and Sophie get given some roast potatoes. This marks today out as definitely the best day ever.

The heating remains broken. Angus sets up a shopping trip for 'The Font' to London. Cold showers in mid winter are not everyones idea of fun. The plumber says he'll be here on Wednesday. ' It's an emergency " I say. ' It always is ' he replies. Heavy snow and strong winds in London make the departure of the Monday lunchtime flight from Toulouse to Heathrow improbable. I tell 'The Font' cold showers are character forming. ' Only two more mornings before it gets fixed' I add cheerfully. This is met with a stoic '' I'll survive ".

Did these people make our Christmas tree ? :

Sunday, December 10, 2017

O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing!

Rainy and windy through the night. Shutters bang, down pipes gurgle, window frames rattle. The heating breaks down. Sophie arrives in the kitchen to tell me what a time  she's had. I sympathize.

The gale has passed through by the time we head off down the lane. At the storm drain on the top of the ridge we pause for a chat and a chance for dog and master to put the world to rights. The male PON is told, as he's told every morning, that this is Bobs country. Sophie goes ferreting for odoriferous excitement in the drainage ditch. We wave at the garagiste and the old farmer with the excitable Westie in his green Toyota Land Cruiser. They wave at us.

On our way to the bakers we detour via the petrol station on the motorway.

You know it's a French motorway service station because they're selling duck giblets and have Galette des Rois at the cash till.

At the outside tables Bob and Sophie are given a bowl of water and some Galette crumbs by a young cashier. She tells Sophie she's ' adorable' or in French - ah-door-ah-ble.  To their surprise the PONs share their bowl of water with a gentle but thirsty Golden Retriever and his non-sighted master. Sophie whimpers when she is told to return to the car and leave her new friend. PONs are great socialites outside their own territory.

Thanks to France Musique for this Sunday morning  'O hush the noise, ye men of strife, And hear the angels sing!'

Saturday, December 9, 2017


A dog owners morning routine. Bob has his harness put on and is told to go outside. He opts for lying in the doorway so that cold air can sweep through the house. Sophie flips on her back for a quick nap on the gravel in the courtyard.

There is a brief but intense moment of panic while both PONs look for Furry Fox. Non-dog owners won't understand the relief that sweeps through the cosmos when the angelic duo and Furry Fox are reunited.

Finally, we're all in our allotted places in the car. This morning the greengrocer has Jicamas from Mexico. We look at them but haven't got the faintest idea whether they're savoury or sweet or neither.

Longanes from Vietnam also make an appearance. The label says that they're related to lychees.

The delicatessen has a foreign cheese week. There is one British cheese - Old Leicester. Red Leicester I'd heard of but Old Leicester is a surprise. It proves to be dry and unappetizing. In this case it really is old Leicester. Now we know where British cheese goes to die. Bob and Sophie think it's delicious.

Back at The Rickety Old Farmhouse the not quite two metres artificial Christmas tree with 600 integral lights continues to glow away like Coney Island at Thanksgiving. It doesn't just glow. The Shenzen Christmas Tree Factory #5 has programmed it so that it periodically performs a light show. It switches itself off, then 50 lights at a time it comes back to life. When all 600 lights are on they flash orgiastically . '' Goodness '' says ' The Font' when observing this for the first time. Sophie is of the view that the artificial Christmas tree is related to the vacuum cleaner. She believes both of them to be Spawns of the Devil ! Best left well alone. Bob has discovered the seasonal joy of biffing the decorations with his nose.

St.Cecilias Day coming up. Here's a group of Swedish children with lots of naked lights. Being Swedish they are quite unimpressed by the singers black nail varnish :

Good to see Jack the Dog centre stage :

Friday, December 8, 2017

Borderline psychotic ?

The Old Farmer and the Belgian lady head off in the venerable Mercedes to do some Christmas shopping in Toulouse.  The car 'purrs' along the road at 30 km/h. This a decorous speed for a gentleman with a lady passenger. The PONs watch them go.

Bob and Sophie also set off in the car. Who would believe that a year ago this young lady was having a second titanium knee operation ?

We head off for a walk down to the waterfall. One side of the ridge is bathed in sunshine. The other layered in cloud. A sure sign that a change in the weather is coming. 'The Font' calls to ask if it would be a good idea to pick up the Christmas cards from the printers in London. This was something Angus was asked to arrange in September. It's still on the things to do list. Angus suggests that trip to the printers might be a wasted journey.

The PONs stop to stare at two ladies painting the windows of the supermarket with seasonal scenes.

The rugby club has put up a poster for next weekends match. There will be an evening to judge ' the most beautiful Christmas pullover'. Angus silently wonders how the French have managed to acquire a reputation as being the most sophisticated nation on earth. There is something about the photo of the not quite as young as they were farmers  that suggests that speed is not the home teams forte.

At the hardware store a Father Christmas has been set up in the lobby. He's wearing one wellington boot and has a paunch. Is this French humour or is one of the employees borderline psychotic ? The 'Fifty Shades of Grey'  glasses suggests the latter.

So starts  Friday morning in deepest France profonde.

Norways most famous Christmas tune ? :

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Safety downstairs.

'The Font' heads off at first light for the airport. Round two of the cracked tooth and the dentists chair beckons.

Sophie deals with her separation anxiety by digging.

Loic arrives, unexpectedly, to blow leaves. He does this for an hour then heads home. The PONs take great delight in leaping in and out of the leaf piles. It seems Loics mother is being allowed out of hospital for Christmas. Loic will be leaving the home for a while to be with her. Over the holidays meals will be provided and a carer / nurse will come three times a day. Not a level of service you'd expect to find in the UK.

At the hardware store we see a two metre artificial Christmas tree. The packaging says ' as good as a real one but with six hundred integral lights'. How cool is that ? We haul it off to the cash desk. Back at home we find the instructions are in Mandarin. After some initial problems of the 'surely it's not meant to look like that ?' variety Angus finally assembles it. Then with the aid of a bottle of 2010 Pomerol he decorates it. It doesn't seem two metres tall but the lights are very bright. In fact they're so bright Angus finds himself exclaiming aloud '' Goodness !". 

Sophie looks at the Christmas tree lights and heads to the safety of her bed downstairs. Bob sticks close to me.

The weather forecast for the UK seems about right for this time of the year.

Looks like an arctic chill is heading to our little corner of France profonde on Friday. Time to get those logs chopped.

Never believe the reviews. This made me laugh :

Day 7 of Advent and the cellist has moved to the top of a mountain :

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Walnut collectors.

The fog this morning as thick as pea soup. A real Scottish Haar. Somewhere out in the gloom there are wild boar. They must be close by. I can hear the Sows snorting as they forage along the lane. The piglets squeal. Every dog for miles around can hear them too. There is a communal howling. 

The PONs have never been known to forego a good howling. They join in, heads back, eyes closed. The full PON wolf howl. Angus has no idea whether the gates would stop an irate two tonne wild boar so the angelic duo are encouraged back inside. In return I get given the 'spoilsport' look.

The tree surgeon has cut the fallen oak into logs that are slightly too large to go into the stove. We have a barn stacked to the rafters with logs that are 5 centimetres too long. As the fog lifts the PONs are loaded into the back of the car and we head off for our morning cafe trip and a visit to the hardware store.

Angus looks at a variety of electric log cutters. The cheaper ones appear to be made of tin. I reckon they'd last all of twenty minutes. Some have what seem to be unshielded groin height rotating blades. The only sensible one costs $1400. I'll go on line and see if I can find a travelling wood cutter who'll come to the house and trim the logs. It's unlikely to be cheap but should be cheaper and safer than buying one of these monstrosities.

The hardware store have a special on walnut collectors. Oval shaped, rotating wire cages. You push them across the grass and the shells get caught in the wire. We buy one. The vet has phoned to tell me to watch out for decomposing walnuts. The warm weather has caused the walnut shells to turn black and rot. As they ferment they emit an enzyme that's highly poisonous to dogs. Another consequence of global warming.

Hmmmm . The diva in Sophie would love the disco ball dancing. ....

How to politely disagree with your best friend. You cannot imagine how much time went into drafting this tweet :

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Well I never.

The telephone repairman shows up to determine why the internet connection is so slow. He clambers into the attic and after a suitable pause clambers down again. Twenty minutes are spent plugging a small electronic device into various wall sockets. The phrase '' Well I never " is frequently repeated. He goes. The line remains agonizingly slow.

Two car loads of visitors show up on the village green. The passengers get out and walk into the churchyard where they stand around the swaying Jesus. They look at it expectantly. It's a calm wind free morning so there is little swaying going on. The visitors leave. The PONs monitor this in silence.

The tykes whistle, rattle sticks across the bars of the gate and shout out woof-woof as they head off to school. Bob leaps on his stump seat at the gate and glares. Sophie stands on her hind legs and barks. This morning the family diva utilizes her deep throaty bark. This sounds as though she has a lifelong eighty a day high tar habit. 

After our shared croissant we detour into the little market town to see the the new restaurant that's opened. '' A French take on the vibrant success of the San Francisco Thai food truck scene " says the menu at the front door. How this will go down in deepest, deepest France profonde remains to be seen.

The gentleman's clothier on the high street has a new display of seasonal party gear.The black leather edged dinner jacket, black shirt and black bow tie a look that might perhaps suit a less conservative clientele. 

What a catchy tune :