Got to the airport in a thunderstorm to discover the flight had been delayed. Worse was to follow. When we did finally board , the bus taking us onto the tarmac drew up alongside an aircraft with propellors. The jet in the schedule had gone to be replaced by what appeared to be a toy plane with engines from a Ford Pinto. What the airlines politely term 'equipment change'. I've said this before and I'll say it again. If you're going to fly over the Alps in thundery weather then you want to fly in a plane with jet engines. Getting up close and personal with a mountain range is the last thing any sane passenger wants. Full marks to the Swiss pilot who weaved through the menacing storms, lightning flashes, hail and mountain peaks and still managed to get his shaken and stirred passengers down on the ground barely an hour late. You always know when a flight is really rough - the cabin crew strap themselves in, tightly, and a strange sepulchral silence fills the cabin. No cabin service so not even a chance of a purely medicinal glass of Gods amber nectar.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
On our early morning, post coffee, walk we came across these fresh new carrots at the greengrocers - perfect for Bolognaise. We also saw the World Cup toys in the local supermarket being discounted from €10.50 to just €0.50. What a difference a week makes!
By five in the afternoon the heat of the plain and the cool air from the Pyrenees were colliding, sending huge columns of white cloud tumbling and jostling high into the sky. The antique dealers eyed the developing anvil heads, folded their umbrellas, filled their vans, and before you knew it were off. By seven it had become overcast and humid - not just humid but that thick cloying, lethargy inducing humidity that you find in Savannah and Charleston in high summer - even the frogs in the village pond fell silent in the heat. Then at ten to eight just as the church doors had been pinned open in preparation for the saints day procession the skies opened, the lightning flashed, and the thunder rolled. The remaining onlookers scattered, the organising committee raced to carry the tables and chairs for the 'feast' inside, and within five minutes all signs of the festivities had disappeared. Everyone bravely said the storm would last ten minutes but by nine, as we stood in the church porch watching the water coursing and eddying down the hill, it was clear that the bonfire, the fecund dancing and the procession would have to wait.
Sunday, June 27, 2010
Outside the village is looking at its best. The shrubs around the war memorial have been trimmed and weeded, the gravel swept, and the grass cut short. The two committees have done their work well. As I walked back across the village green to the front gate all I could hear was the frantic buzzing of the bees hard at work on the lime trees and the croaking of the frogs sunbathing on the water lilys in the pond. France profonde as it has always been.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Last night we went to a performance of a St.Saens symphony (L'Orgue) in the regional capital. The cathedral there has all the beauty of a railway terminus in upstate New York but the bland, barn like interior enjoys wonderful reverberating acoustics. Just as the symphony was reaching its climax a sudden, brief , Pyrennean thunderstorm opened up. Orchestra, organ and thunder all at the same time - spectacular.
They were supposed to be in by Easter but after umpteen delays the vets new surgery is finally finished and open. 'The font' took down a bottle of champagne to the team to celebrate the completion of the facility and to say thank you to them for looking after Digby. To our surprise they have put his photograph on the wall behind the reception desk. Seeing his photo still stings seven weeks on.
Friday, June 25, 2010
The heat has arrived. It was 31 degrees yesterday and is set to hit 35 today. That's 100 something in old money. This morning Wilf is lying on his back, taking the opportunity,while it's still cool, to air those parts that need to be aired.
On Wednesday afternoon two post office vans came to the house to deliver a parcel. Not just any parcel - but a parcel from America ! In deepest Tarn-et-Garonne this is an event of some note , hence two postal vans. Out of the blue had come the most charming gift from our friends at www.fromthehouseofedward.blogspot.com. A marvellous hand made momento box with Digby's photo on top and a Siegfried Sassoon poem on an illustrated scroll inside. For a second or two the memories of our little companion came flooding back. What a kind thing for someone to do. What a heart warming reminder of the tenderness and compassion of people one's never met. In an impersonal world it seems that dog bloggers somehow share the secret of heavens canine iconoclasts - hearts can be listened to, emotions allowed to speak and the gift of the soul never forgotten.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
One of the unanswered questions about French villages in summer is what happens to all the people ? Our little village is deserted - not just quiet - deserted. From dawn to dusk not a soul is to be seen and not a sound , apart from the crickets and the amorous serenade of the frogs in the village pond, is to be heard. Yesterday a grand total of six cars and tractors passed along the lane outside the rickety old farmhouse, and two of those were post office delivery vans. Summer torpor has arrived in deepest France profonde.
After his trip into town with me Wilf has settled himself down on the cool grass in the shade of the oak trees. Last night he scratched at the door at one thirty am to be let out - a sign that this latest stomach upset was a bad one. This morning , the problem passed, he is as bright and as happy as a dog can be. He was even allowed to get a piece of fresh croissant from the girl behind the bakery counter. Bliss can be seen on a dogs face.
Have to rush off to the airport to go and give a speech to a group of men in suits. Back on a six am flight tomorrow. Did you know that if the Chinese continue to buy cars at the current rate then with thirty years all the worlds oil production will be needed just to keep the motorists of Beijing and Shanghai on the road ? What interesting times we live in.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
This morning he is fully restored and was at the front door, basking in the morning sunshine and ready for the trip in the car to the light industrial park to christen the fire hydrants. I really wonder who enjoyed this return to normality more - Wilf or me?
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
We didn't think that there was much more that could surprise us about life in our sleepy little village. That is until this morning. Madame Bay, who is still very taken with the new locum : - "Il est vachement bandant!" - arrived with a spring in her step and a smile on her lips. She was collecting for the 'antique' ie 'bric a brac' stall for Saturdays saint day festivities. I gladly scouted around for some pieces that she could take away with her. Then she dropped the bombshell. 'Had we made reservations for the dinner on Saturday night?'.
It seems that every year the two mutually loathing village committees hold a 'feast' after the yard sale and at the end of the religious ceremonies. At six in the evening the statue of the local saint is paraded around the village ( yes, that's right past all eight houses ) to scare away evil spirits. Then after the hard work is done everyone from the village and the outlying farms ( a grand total of 67 including yours truly and 'the font' ) repairs to the village hall for a night of festivating. At midnight, which by my reckoning is at least five and a half hours after the armagnac and floc have been opened there is a 'feu de la St.Jean'.
The sight of the slightest tremble on the fonts lower lip told me that we were both sharing the same tear inducing vision of a chiffoned Madame Bay dancing and hopping around the village bonfire in a solstace frenzied druidic fertility dance. A French Boadicea. What have we done? Where have we come to? Would the young locum be there? Would the knee problem disappear as suddenly as it arrived? Welcome to the world of John Updike.
Monday, June 21, 2010
zest for life. As soon as he heard me putting on my shoes he was downstairs at the front door ready to get outside and chase squirrels.
The dry weather also means that we can segue back into our morning routine. After a walk round the light industrial park we settled down at the cafe for our morning cup of coffee and bowl of water. Then it was off to the butchers for some chops . The butchers shop is Wilfs absolute favourite venue and one that even puts the cake shop in the shade. He sits transfixed, staring in serendipitous delight at the sausages and salamis - dog heaven. Then it was off to the spice shop for a bottle of vinegar and a bottle of walnut oil.
Madame Bay is supposed to come in to clean on Tuesday and Friday mornings. In practice this means that she pops in whenever the spirit moves her. This morning , her moving spirit was working overtime, and she arrived just as we were finishing breakfast to announce the she was on her way to the doctors. As Madame Bay has a constitution that would put an ox to shame this was rather surprising and alarming news. 'Nothing serious I hope ?' said 'the font' only to be met with a girlish giggle and the announcement that there is a handsome new locum here for the summer while the old doctor is away. " Il est ravissant!". I'll wager that the poor man manages to last at most two weeks before scurrying back to Toulouse. Nothing, but nothing in his previous medical training could have prepared him for our libidinous septaguenarian and the sudden, and inexplicable, problems with her sore knees.