Saturday, October 21, 2017


Loic has made a remarkable recovery. He unexpectedly shows up at the gate in the late afternoon to start work in the garden. The first time we've seen him in nearly two months. He's having four insulin injections a day ( he does explain why but his impenetrable accent prevents me from getting the full gist of what he's saying ). He's due to go back into hospital next week for more tests. 

I fill the power blower with fuel and he heads off into the garden followed by two energetic PONs. Loic seems oblivious to the fact that his carefully constructed leaf piles are being rolled in by the canine followers. After an hour he's looking tired. I tell him to go into the kitchen and eat two mandarin oranges and then go home and rest, which he does. He'll be back next week.

Another of lifes little victories although his mother remains in hospital.

The blog produced on the Microsoft tablet this morning. The Apple phone and the Dell desk top still not talking to each other despite eight hours of downloads.

We thought we'd avoided jet lag this time round. At seven this morning a shrill bark wakes us from a deep deep sleep. Sophie is informing the world that we're running an hour behind schedule and there will be 'consequences'. An unmistakable sound. Angus is up, dressed and out in the garden with her in 36 seconds.

If you want to understand the world this chart says it all:

Friday, October 20, 2017

Technology issues.

The conversion to the i-Phone 8 that the young Apple salesman said would be 'seamless and easy', isn't. The phone is brilliant but i-Tunes is not at all keen to talk to Windows 10. Various, slow to download, fixes only make things worse.  Much worse. Todays photos were put on a memory stick and pasted into the photo function before that too had a technical nervous breakdown.

After the weekend there are two days to ourselves to explore Washingtons National Portrait Gallery. One of life's joys is having the time to look at paintings without being in a rush. Because people are always in a rush art galleries tend to be empty. We find artists we've never heard of. Above a wonderful crisp, pigment as white as snow, picture by Rockwell Kent 'Winter in the Berkshires'.

'The Recital' by Nelson Shanks. How has he been able to capture the effect of stage lighting so perfectly ?

The detail in 'Wheat' by Thomas Benton. Mundanity raised to perfection. This is a painting I'd love to own. Shadow, light, a broken stem, grass growing below. Wheat and tares the oldest symbolism.

Norman Rockwells picture of Richard Nixon. What does it tell us about the artist and the sitter ?

'The Four Justices' again by Nelson Shanks. Probably  formulaic but where else would you see Sandra Day O'Connor, Ruth Baden Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotamayer together ?

'Stag at Echo Rock' painted by an unknown 19th century artist who hid a grumpy owl and absent minded squirrel in the picture. Bet the artist never expected it to have such a following.

'John Brown' of mouldering body fame by Hansen Bailing. Is there madness in the eyes or is it vision? A run of the mill portrait with a hint of genius .

Sylvia Plaths Girl Scout uniform from 1943.

The happy loquacious flower arranging ladies at Washington cathedral . What richness can be found in the little things.

Angus notices that the prayer cushion has a labrador theme. This presence of mischief amidst formality makes him smile. A very Episcopalian touch.

Tomorrow, or there abouts Bob and Sophie, who are well, will reappear; i-Phone 8 willing. Angus can only assume this whole process of downloading pictures would be easier if we had Apple desk tops instead of Dells.

Here's some relaxing October music :
Does anyone else hear hints of this in it ? :

Thursday, October 19, 2017


300 kmh tail winds all the way so we get back an hour and a half early. London airport doesn't open until six so we circle for an hour.

After an emotional reunion the PONs settle down for a restorative nap. Their owners will soon be joining them.

At the Apple store in Georgetown the staff open the doors and cheer and clap the waiting customers inside. Angus buys a new i-phone 8. Loading pictures requires new software. Why is upgrading technology never simple ?

This is interesting sign of the times:

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Back next week.

The PONs spend an idyllic Sunday lazing in the sun, having the small rugby ball kicked for them ( always more interesting when it's kicked rather than thrown ) and barking at passing pilgrims.

At six they're shipped off to the k-e-n-n-e-l-s for a week. Angus explains that sometimes the human part of the family also needs attention. Bob is unimpressed. He layers on his '' And I thought you loved me " routine.

The PONs owners face a night at the airport hotel. We'll be back from the States early next week.

Here's some happy music : 

A multi-coloured swirl.

Out as the sun is rising. PON owners aren't allowed to sleep in on a Sunday. Bob pokes a cold wet nose in my ear at five fifty to let me know it's going to be the best day ever.

The Old Farmer and the Belgian lady head off early in the venerable Ford Transit motor home. They're going to the Pont du Gard in Provence for a few days. '' I've changed the brake linings' volunteers The Old Farmer. Some of the recent fibre glass 'improvements' to the motor homes body work remain unpainted. As they disappear along the lane I note that new curtains in a jolly multi-coloured swirl pattern have been fitted. A feminine touch.

Walk over, the angelic duo sit waiting, with barely concealed impatience, for their morning trip into town for a bowl of water and an illicit 'bakery' tasting.

The drawing room ceiling is now almost finished. The awful yellow replaced by a calm white. The walls are ready for their first layer of undercoat. The ladies of the Women's Cooperative tidy up and go. They are hosting a workshop on spinning and won't be back for two weeks. This works out quite well as we have to go off to the States for a few days and the thought of them in the house unattended sends a shiver down my spine.

The lawn mover has died. Angus buys a new one. Bob tries, unsuccessfully, to get into the back of the car to check it out.

The thickness of the berries on the trees is really quite remarkable.

Some Sunday morning music:

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Then and Now.

Then and now. October 6th 2016 and October 6th 2017.

What a difference a year makes. Sophie is one feisty lady.

There is probably a little 'more' of her now despite our best efforts at restricting her calorie intake. 'Recycling' and a gourmands delight in owl dropped voles and windfall pears make strict diet control impossible.

Her brother still has a slight problem with the droopy left side of his jaw....

.... but nothing that interferes with a mischief filled day.

Sometimes all the justification a blog needs is as a reminder of why and how dogs become such an integral part of the family. Their  ' I know you'll make it better ' trust is absolute. In return they dispense 24/7 laughter.

A Saturday morning hum along Scottish song :

Friday, October 6, 2017

Quasi illicit.

Another Friday. Where did the week go ? On our pre dawn walk we see Neptune, Mars and Venus all glinting in a line above the horizon. Venus sparkles like a diamond.  Over on the other side of the valley the fat jovial harvest moon ( and what a moon ) merges with the dawn.  Owner and dogs, in their different ways, recognize this is going to be a great day. The Old Farmer is standing on his balcony in his pyjama bottoms looking at the sky. '' C'est magnifique " he says as we pass.

The PONs hurtle down the hill towards the stream. They'll be five in January. You'd think that their energy levels might have eased off by now but not a bit of it. Zest is what it's all about. Squeezing as much into life as they can.

Zest is not a word I'd associate with the ladies from the Womens Cooperative. The drawing room isn't finished but two of them have mysteriously started work on the end bedroom. They inform me in a somewhat peremptory tone that the bed and a wardrobe need to be shifted. A hallway full of furniture means there's no scope for rug surfing or touch rugby. There is some good news. Bob has taken to curling up and spending his nights asleep on rolled up rugs. This is both comfortable and quasi illicit. What could be better ?

A truck and a man on a mechanical digger roll past the house. The PONs watch from behind the safety of the gate. The mechanical digger excavates three holes. We cannot possibly imagine what they're for. Bob and Sophie make it plain that they'd like to be involved.

Such is the the excitement of life in a French village.

'Tasted the sweet perfume of the mountain grass'. There is something rather innocent and out of time about this. Springsteenesque music :

Thursday, October 5, 2017

El sueno de la razon produce monstruos.

Dry and warm. Bob demonstrates his enthusiasm for life by racing along the lane. His sister opts to walk alongside her master at a more measured pace.

This morning Sophie finds some over ripe windfall quinces in the bottom of a drainage ditch. These are tasted but fail to generate the same degree of enthusiasm she's shown for over ripe windfall pears.

Bob sits by me on the storm drain. We talk about the British Prime Ministers coughing fit. Angus feels sorry for the poor woman. Bob leans into me as we discuss why some people are angry that the Spanish King didn't say a few words of Catalan in his speech to the nation. 'El Sueno de la razon produce monstruos' says Angus using a line made famous by Goya. Bob wanders off to see what his sister is doing. Bob, it seems, is not keen on quinces.

A group of thirty or so pilgrims wander down the ox track at the side of The Rickety Old Farmhouse. They sing as they go. The singing elicits a response from the PONs. The pilgrims sing more loudly. The PONs up their game.

The ladies from the Women's Cooperative work away. The sound of Aude, the bi-polar decaratrice, chatting away happily to herself drifts onto the lane through two open windows. Why the other windows in the drawing room aren't opened is presumably something to do with the light. Progress remains steady but glacial. There is another late morning break for chanting.

Singing pilgrims and chanting painters. No wonder the PONs think it's been the best day ever.

The perils of free samples :