Friday, August 26, 2016

Startled owls.

Angus sleeps badly. The Barn Owls decide to have a midnight gathering on the drawing room window ledge. When the owls flap their wings the security lights come on. Every time the lights come on the startled owls fly off - screeching. After the fifth episode Angus comes to the view that causality is a concept alien to Barn Owls.

At 3:41 the fire alarm downstairs has a 'moment'.  It emits a high pitched ( and extremely annoying ) trilling noise. The PONs decide to howl just in case I've slept through the ear deafening trilling.

Angus comes downstairs, stands on a chair, unscrews the fire alarm cover and removes the battery. The trilling stops. A number of phrases that shouldn't be heard by children punctuate the process. The PONs think this is great fun.

Come 7.35 Monsieur Bozo arrives, unannounced,  at the front gate to ask if everything is alright with the new septic tanks. '' By the way M'Ongoose. I had an additional bill from the water board for the work I did. Could I drop it off tomorrow ? ". I tell him tomorrow will be fine.

Next to arrive is The Old Farmer . He hopes to head off with the Belgian lady to Belarus next Wednesday. The Old Farmer chats away to Bob and Sophie. He lost his German Shepherd in the same car accident that killed his wife and youngest daughter. Sometimes I think he comes over not so much to talk but for some canine madness.

No sooner has he gone than the French teacher rings the bell.  She's brought some green plums and some cherry tomatoes. Bob and Sophie like the French teacher but they don't like her bike.

Finally, the mayor 'pops round' to tell me that he's shutting up the town hall early. Why he should tell me this is a mystery. '' There's nothing to do today " he says breezily. The town hall is theoretically open for 2 hours on a Tuesday morning and 2 hours on a Thursday morning. Quite what it does while its open is unclear.

The PONs love visitors. Due to the heat Bob has changed his guarding routine. Instead of standing on his stump seat in the direct sunlight he now stands under the shade of the little Skodas tailgate and looks ferocious. I'm not sure he succeeds in this. His sister has given up guarding until it's cooler. She dozes in front of a fan.

So passes another day when nothing, absolutely nothing, happens. Bob and Sophie find it all highly exciting.

If you suffer from vertigo don't watch the last 90 seconds of this :

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Deaf ears.

It's hot. By noon the readout on the little Skoda's dashboard shows its 39 degrees.

The seven seat Volvo comes into its own. 'The Font' heads off to the high mountains with the Americans. Up there amidst the snow it promises to be cooler.

There was some discussion about taking Bob and Sophie but the thought of a long drive in a full car, in the heat, with two lively Sheepdogs only had one possible outcome. Experience counts. The PONs and Angus stay behind.

Sophie, who initially greeted the newcomers as if they were mass murderers, has now decided that they have their uses. They can be cajoled into Throwing the Furry Fox at all hours. She is decidedly unhappy to see them go. Bob wonders who will play touch rugby with him after midnight.

From the top of the ridge Bob and Angus can just make out the Pyrenees peaking out from the heat haze. Sophie is too busy exploring in ditches to have time to look out for mountain peaks. She finds a pigeon skull which she crunches with self evident satisfaction. Angus says ' No ! ' to deaf ears.

The village is taking on that late summer look. The grass parched, the leaves on the plane trees turning brown. Two tractors roll down the lane in the morning and a small convoy of cars holding itinerant Spanish melon pickers rolls the other way in the afternoon. Sophie spends much of her afternoon lying in front of a fan, snoring.

So passes a quiet , high summers day in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


PONs have two sorts of days. Happy Days and Exceptionally Happy Days. Otherwise known as HD's and EHD's. 

Today is clearly an EHD.

Sophie gets groomed. Sophie  enjoys being groomed . For a full twenty minutes she, and she alone, is the centre of attention.

Her wet nose continues to rank as one of the seven wonders of the world.

After wards a tour of the village.

Then with the Americans to the cheese shop.

The Americans want to know whether it's correct to eat the rind on the cheese or to cut it off.

The cheesemongers answer to this question is neither clear cut nor brief. The answer may best be summarized as ' With some you do. With others you don't '.

Mid afternoon three women in shell suits arrive at the garden gate. A brief discussion is had with 'The Font '. The youngest is getting married in the town hall on Saturday and wants to use our garden for aperitifs afterwards. This would be fine by us were it not for the fact that we've never seen any of them before and they seem to view the use of The Rickety Old Farmhouse as an inalienable right . The bride to be informs ' The Font ' that '' There shouldn't be more than eighty or so guests and we should be gone by six ". The words ' may we ? ' or ' would it be possible ? ' are not used. The three women are despatched with a very Lutheran and definitive 'Non !'. This is a bizarre example of the effrontery of strangers. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Ten days.

Another of those perfect mornings. We tour the village in the half light. Bob stops to christen the four corners of the box hedge that surrounds the war memorial. He then christens the fire hydrant. This unchanging PON ritual presumably 'dethreats' the village. Sophie delicately sniffs the fresh pigeon guano at the foot of the church belfry.

Off to the greengrocers with the Americans. Half a dozen varieties of peaches this morning. We opt for a kilo of yellow and a kilo of the peche de vigne with their blood orange coloured flesh.

Never enough oranges for breakfast when there are twenty somethings around.

Being an all male shopping expedition we stop and look at a large green vegetable / fruit ? This is picked up and examined closely. Opinion is divided as to whether the vegetable / fruit is mega cool or gross. There is also some uncertainty as to what it might be. 

Despite the added responsibility that comes with having to herd a large, noisy and hyperactive flock Bob manages to find a few moments to close his eyes and re balance his inner karma. This is best done with his nose out of the front door and his rump firmly in the shade.

Just another quiet day in deepest France profonde. There is some good news. The Old Farmer wanders over to let us know that the Belgian Lady's passport has been found by the Belarusian Embassy. It had been delivered to an office next door. The journey should start in ten days.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Strike with wonder.

Sometimes you wonder if there's a point in blogging. Nothing new to add to what's been said time and time before. Just another perfect Monday morning with two playful sheepdogs. 

Then you turn out of the house onto the lane and feel the warmth of the sun and the freshness of the mountain breeze against your cheek. The beauty of the Queen Annes Lace in the Walnut grove.

The last of the deer hurrying home through the sunflowers to the safety of the forest.

The enthusiasm of the dogs not just for the new day but to be immersed in the new day.

And then you realize that an early morning walk with a dog is the key to a world beyond language. It's  a voyage into a canine world of wonder, amazement and inexpressible delight.

A world where words like dazzle, flabbergast, awe, miraculous and marvel only tell part of the story.

So starts a dog owners Monday morning in deepest, deepest France profonde. 

Truly, the best day ever and worth recording.

............................................................................................... The Radio France Breakfast Programme  informs its listeners that the 'highly acclaimed' French team finished seventh in the Olympics medal table behind the 'cash rich' American team. This way of phrasing things avoids mention being made of the fact that a neighbouring country finished second in the tables.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Twinkling lights.

After yesterdays heavy rain a perfect Sunday morning. Low humidity and bright sunshine. The PONs are keen to get out and about and make up for a day spent largely indoors. A few weeks ago we were up and out before six. Now we wait until six thirty and the first promise of light in the sky.

Sophie is in a feisty 'let's chase wild boar' mood. She is kept on her harness.

The donkeys continue to close crop the fallow field by the crossroads. Bob watches them with the confidence of a PON boy who has the situation under control. 

There's a full moon this morning. By the time we pass the donkey field it's losing the battle with the morning sun. 

Here in the village all is peace. At night the blue and green Christmas lights on the railings above the town hall twinkle away. The Old Farmers star provides guidance to flights arriving into Toulouse from the West. The swaying Jesus in the churchyard has settled into a sustainable 6 degree slant. Best of all the horrid eight year old boy who finds it amusing to annoy the PONs by ringing the bell at the front gate is still staying with his grand parents in Saint-Etienne. Sophie is coming to terms with the fact that the house guests spend much of their day in the pool ( what sort of animal does that ? ). Bob guards and stays up late chatting with his new friends.

So passes another  high summer day in deepest, deepest France profonde.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


Human furniture is strictly out of bounds to PONs. Something we thought was clearly understood.

On returning from the airport we find that a sofa in the drawing room is showing signs of having been slept on.  It has a Sophie shaped indentation and strands of 'diva' matching white hair on the fabric. 'Someone' has curled up and made themselves comfortable.

When confronted with the evidence Sophie feigns complete innocence.

Bob looks mortified.

Today the PONs are coming to terms with migrating American college boys. There are few college boys who can withstand Sophie's guilt inducing dinner time stare. '' I hope that you're enjoying that ". Sophie is told that being fed from the table is not allowed. This is another rule she's seeking to change.... or simply ignore.

Bob lives for his daily routine. Sophie constantly seeks ways to remind us that there are a host of 'improvements' that she would make to the housekeeping service.

The story on the right hand side of this ever wonderful Laphams Quarterly blog - 1931 - will make any dog owner smile :