Saturday, April 29, 2017

World's Best

'The Font' heads off to Spain for the night to deal with Spanish bureaucracy and the aged relatives final paperwork. Angus discovers American Mac and Cheese in the supermarket.

A careful reading of the package shows that it's manufactured in a facility that processes dairy, wheat, eggs, soy, crustacea, fish and nuts. Quite how this ties in with it being 'handmade' is for more discerning shoppers to determine.

Angus isn't sure that it meets the 'World's Best ' test but Bob and Sophie seem happy enough wit the spoonful that's added to their kibbles.

Some garden furniture arrives.

From a vantage point on their grooming table Bob and Sophie carefully monitor the arrival of the truck, the unloading of the boxes and the unpacking of the furniture. Both PONs decide that empty cardboard boxes are wonderful to hide in.

What a wonderful start to a day.

Last night there was an election meeting in the village hall. A tall gentleman in an ill fitting black nylon suit comes to tell the villagers why his candidate will restore the honour of France. Twenty or so people show up.  All goes well until the visitor launches into an attack on '' Les Anglais  installes dans la campagne francaise qui sans payer les impots en France profitent des largesses et de la qualite de notre systeme de sante ". Angus feels like pointing out that as a foreigner he is required to have health insurance and pays enough tax to keep a French frigate afloat for a year but decides to keep quiet. 

Friday, April 28, 2017

A rattling start.

Bobs new toy has been liberated and thoroughly de-stuffed. He turned his back on it over breakfast and next thing he knew it had gone.

It doesn't take inspector Clouseau to work out who was responsible. Sophie does her best to look innocent.  I explain that seasoned criminals usually move quickly away from the scene of a crime. She appears unimpressed.

Cooler weather brings out the pilgrims. Bob rises to the challenge and takes up his position on the stump seat to monitor the passers by. Bob could spend all day on the stump seat. Some pilgrims warrant a 'woof', some a double 'woof' but most are greeted in silence. Very occasionally he will see a pilgrim that makes him want to get down from his perch and run from one end of the garden to the other and then back again. 

The pilgrims wave and laugh and chat to him.

Sophie patrols the garden in search of mid-morning snacks. She disappears for lengthy forays into distant corners of the orchard. Her nose continues to sport a world class lustre.

This mornings clouds make a welcome appearance. On the other side of the lane The Old Farmer is out and about on his lawn tractor. The Belgian lady is there to keep an eye on him. The horrid little tike slopes off to school rattling a stick against the bars on the gate. He also whistles. How the PONs love a whistling, stick rattling start to their day. There is no such thing as silence in a PON household.

This is how you do stealth :

Thursday, April 27, 2017


Sophie is much recovered from her run in with the fox and the thorn thicket. The vet shaved the fur around the wounds and removed pieces of wood that had worked their way into her flank. Betadine is applied twice a day. Sophie licks it off within thirty seconds .

'' She's three kilos overweight " says the vet before adding '' The additional weight's not good for her new knees ". 'The Font' patiently explains that Sophie's rations have been cut but she remains a voracious 'recycler'. ' Have you tried the spray that you put on her food ? ' he asks. 'The Font' sighs and runs through all the things we've tried including following Bob around the garden with a torch and black plastic bags first thing in the morning and last thing at night. '' Oh '' he says in amazement as the divas enthusiasm for scavenging becomes apparent.

The gardeners come to put bark down on the rose beds.

Bob monitors what they're doing closely. Sophie tries to eat the bark but is 'encouraged' indoors.

Bob brings a collection of stuffed toys over to the gardeners. The inference is clear. It takes ten minutes to put down the new bark and fifteen minutes to sate the male PONs desire for a game of throw the partially shredded tortoise.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


Sapotilles from Thailand make an appearance in the greengrocers exotic fruits section.

Beets seem to be more to the liking of the locals.

The newsagent has installed a counter that sells soft candies of a type that shout out 'tooth decay'. There is a already a queue of impatient seven year olds wanting to buy them as they wait for the school bus.

The baker has made Brioche Royale. The PONs give this 10/10. We don't buy a brioche but we do buy a raspberry tart. On our way home a stone chip flies up and creates a small but visible crack in the Volvo's windscreen. Is it my imagination or does it start to get larger ? This morning Bob and Angus will visit Car Glass. 

It rains. Soft, gentle, warm rain. The PONs charge round the garden in search of freshly watered scents. Sophie goes hunting for pheasants. The pheasants in the long grass have nothing to fear. She howls with delight.

The rain is followed by bright sunshine. The plants around the well seem to shoot up in front of our eyes. This year it seems we shall be following the flower beds as jungle approach to gardening. Bob guards his house and flock from the front door step.

So starts a quiet Wednesday morning in deepest, deepest France profonde.

A European v US map of life expectancy :

Dog owners might find this story of a move to Oregon interesting . Sophie would seem to have a soul mate :

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A conversation opener.

Sophie chases a fox into a thorn thicket. The fox disappears unscathed. Sophie manages to get herself entangled. Completely entangled. Angus has to untangle her. She emerges with thorns and twigs embedded in her skin. The family diva makes it plain that she should not be in the care of a family that lets such things happen to her. Anyone in the village who thought they would sleep late is going to be disappointed. Sophie it must be said is not a 'quiet' dog.

While Sophie and 'The Font' head to the vets for some antiseptic skin wash , Bob and his master watch a family of hares bound down the freshly ploughed field towards the trees in the valley. A change coming in the weather. In the direction of Bordeaux and the Atlantic a bank of clouds stretching across the horizon. 

Sophie returns home. Surprisingly, she has been a perfect patient.

Spanish week in the supermarket.

To make sure we know its Spanish week they've set out not just one bull...

.... but two . 

An out of proportion matador is thrown in for good measure. On television matadors wear sparkly heavily sequined outfits. This is a budget version in black and white. On closer inspection the matador turns out to be the supermarkets all purpose mannequin. It is bare footed .

A sign the year is moving onwards. Easter eggs now 50% off.

In the wine section '666 - Secret of the Devils ' makes a jarring appearance . A bottle of Devils Secrets at the dinner table would be a conversation opener .... or stopper.

What a stylish hotel for such a remote location :

Monday, April 24, 2017

No surprises.

The first round of the election is over but the state of emergency continues. Outside the museum in the little market town two fresh faced soldiers stand on guard. Three ladies heading towards morning mass on their bicycles, the sort with wicker baskets over the handlebars, cycle slowly past them. The ladies ( tweed skirts and knitted berets and of a certain age ) dismount. They turn and walk their bicycles up to the boys and thank them for '' keeping us safe ". One little lady stands on tip toe and gives the shorter of the soldiers a chaste kiss. 'The Font' notices his attempts to look stern but he quietly wipes tears from his eyes. France is different.

The first round of the election results as expected. For once the pollsters have got it right. The PONs are blissfully unaware of the electoral drama that might have been. In the village a council truck comes and takes away nine of the eleven billboards. Two are left for the second round in two weeks time.

After our morning constitutional Bob lies soaking up the early sun. A PON in clover.

We choose a light Strawberry mousse cake for lunch.

White asparagus from the greengrocers.

A trip to the frozen food store that sells excellent ( made in the UK ) Naans to go with the dinner time curry. Dogs are not allowed in the frozen food store so the PONs wait impatiently in the back of the car.

Back at home a long walk down the hill to the stream and the waterfall. There is a PON attempt at fishing.

So starts our Monday morning.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Phew ! The mayor delivers the results.

Election day.

Dogs and master are up early. Another startlingly bright but chilly morning. The sky the perfect blue only seen in estate agents photographs. On our morning constitutional we pass the mayor opening up the town hall. His wife is  whistling while setting out a plate of honey croissants on the trestle table at the front door. Bob and Sophie are keen to say hello to the mayors wife and her honey croissants but are hurried along. The little lady with the purple hat is also there trying to open a thermos of coffee. She will be manning the 'security' table. Bees buzz, frogs croak and roosters crow. The sounds of a French Sunday morning. As we pass the mayor shouts out from the terrace '' I hope we don't vote for Frexit ! ". I laugh politely.

Amazingly, all eleven election posters have survived unscathed. The horrid little tike and his brother have resisted the temptation to draw horns and moustaches on them. There again even the tikes have understood that in a village of eighty seven souls it wouldn't take long to work out who the culprits were.

On our way home a small silver car drives slowly along the lane. Such is the peace of a Sunday morning this unexpected visitor is worthy of comment. In twenty minutes the combine harvesters carrying the young farmers will start to draw up on the village green in readiness for the opening of the Mairie and the start of the voting.

And here's a relaxing sound to start the day :