Monthly Archive for April, 2016


A couple of cyclists came over the hill through the village this morning, scattering the cats and creating a mild sensation. Only the postie and the occasional tradesman ever penetrate as far us; all through traffic passes in front of the church a couple of hundred yards further down. Recently, on a Sunday morning, half a dozen pony trekkers came by. At the other side of the square the grandson paused in his attempt to beat an engine into submission with a hammer to stare open mouthed, and the rest of us peered through our shutters and net curtains.
An insurance company asked me to prove that I had held a driving licence since 1963. I found evidence of an endorsement in 1974 but couldn’t go back that far. I eventually told them that it was extremely bad manners to doubt the word of a gentleman, which satisfied them.


The dogs here split a Lidl tray of meaty stuff each day. This is sold in two consistencies – pate and ragout. The ragout leads to gravy all over ears and muzzles, so only the pate, chopped into bite-size chunks, is ever bought. But very often when one visits one of their stores, only ragout in great quantities is available, all the pate being gone. So when you see the pate, you buy as much as possible. Last week I came across an important-looking employee with a computer counting up the dog food section. I showed him that only ragout was left, as was often the case.  ‘I know,’ he said.  ‘Then why don’t you offer more pate or less ragout?’  ‘I can’t. It comes like that.’  ‘Can’t you suggest a change?’  He gave me a pitying smile. ‘No.’

The 7-foot high laurel hedge surrounding this patch has a blight of some kind, leaves turning yellow and black and dropping off. This is not good because the hedge gives us privacy and it’s already a bit see-through. If it fails to perk up, I shall be faced with the need for a fence to keep the village at bay. Green shoots are showing, so I live in hope.


A fierce run of thunderstorms rumbled through on Friday evening. Feeling smug I disconnected from the internet to preserve the router from evil and hooked up again the following morning. Except I couldn’t. It transpired that the exchange had been taken out and this seemed beyond the power of Orange to repair. Three nearby villages as well as ourselves were left without service and the maire has been huffing and puffing at them ever since. The latest information is that we should be back on air this evening, but I’m not holding my breath. I am embarrassingly bereft without it and am reduced to sitting on the lawn removing thistles and dandelions for want of anything more productive to do. I even took out a few daisies, but that will leave nothing but bare earth, so I desisted. This has been posted courtesy of MacDo’s car park.

We are told that the sorciere is on the way out. There is mild excitement amongst her kin because that will release her fortune to her descendants. This may be the reason why her grandson appears to be spending money on cars. She has been zonked with drugs the last couple of times we’ve called by and it may be that she will be helped on her journey. I hope so because life has been very miserable for her since she was incarcerated in her jerry home.

The bone man turned up and cleared the contents of some of the tombs in the cemetery since there was no room for the current generation. One old biddy is being inserted in her last resting place this afternoon and the sorciere’s impressive family vault has been given an anticipatory dusting down.


The first nightingales, the first cuckoo, probably imaginary, and the first days when I’d be more comfortable in short trousers. Also the first mozzies, which is horribly early. Over at the chateau I chopped down some ivy that obscured our view of the kestrels’ nest and am pleased to see that this did not disturb them.

We have a run of visitors coming up and started to get in the mood last week with a 4.30am run to the airport. The cab drivers were having another Uber hate-in by blocking the access roads. They were more organised than last time with smart marquees dispensing coffee and buns. You have to keep your face expressionless as you weave between them for fear of receiving a brick through the windscreen. The departure drop off zone has been closed for fear of mad bombers. One wonders whether it will ever be thought safe to re-open it, or will all airports need to be redesigned.

A mild sensation in the village when the wife of a recent house buyer from Lille was seen to be sunbathing in very little on her terrace. Aside from holiday makers nobody sunbathes here; one’s exposed flesh browns up without trying over the summer and anything unexposed is of no business to anyone but one’s nearest and dearest and thus it’s colour immaterial.

Boiler suit

I passed the time of day with an ancient boiler-suited native whom I surprised peering through the car window to examine the dogs. I’m used to the local twang but this chap sounded almost Germanic. I’ve noticed this before amongst the really old people and, provided their teeth fit, they’re often easier to understand than their juniors who lack the same precision in diction.

Last year it took a dozen emails to my smart Paris accountant for my tax form to be filled in correctly. He’d obviously farmed out my return to an underling who could not get it right and, rather than check it himself, he left it to his minion to make the same mistake again and again. Since he is not cheap and my affairs are not complicated, I have decided to attempt it myself this time. The form arrived yesterday and my heart did quail at the sight of it but I can always go back to him if I get stuck. Money is like sewage disposal, important for health and well-being but it does not enrich the soul to have to think about it.

The filter on this site has intercepted more than 600,000 spam comments. I feel faintly sorry for the bots that waste their time by posting them


The commune must make a list of every premise that has any hens or ducks and register it with the local authority. This is to allow the authorities to swoop in the event of an outbreak of bird flu and slaughter them all. There are plenty here, but we also have pigeons and pigeon lofts and these are not covered. It sounds a bit like a work creation scheme for underemployed public servants.

A friend has an ancient deaf neighbour. She is in goodish nick otherwise and has a phone by her side but can’t hear it ring, so in order to gain her attention, one must enter her house, find her and tap her on the shoulder – whereupon she jumps. Her house is in the middle of a village and is nothing to look at from the outside but her family have lived in it for a couple of centuries and it is stuffed with treasures. In this village is a smartish bungalow and its owner accumulates farms from his forebears. Some he sells and some he lets. The only way one knows he’s come into more money is when the cement mixer starts up and he remodels his terraces out the back where passers by can’t see them. The more the countryside empties, the more money accumulates to those who stay behind. Conspicuous consumption and showing off to one’s neighbours is not something that happens here and so it is impossible to tell who is very rich, merely rich or peasant-poor. Most people are short and ill-dressed. I fit in well as I, too, am ill-dressed even though long.

The hoopoes are back; the green woodpecker is drumming on its favourite sheet of corrugated iron over at the chateau and the kestrels are noisily copulating near the nest hole they occupied last year. We seem to have an extra pair of hen harriers around. Bird life is not so different from that in the UK with some exotic and sometimes surprising additions.