Posted by: kathandroger | December 10, 2017

Johnny, Diana and the Queen.

When we came to France, we were surprised that the news often seemed to include something about the health of Johnny Halliday. We knew a little about the French rock and roll singer, but did not appreciate how important he had become to the people of this country. A few years back he had a failed back operation and was later put in an induced coma in the USA-it was front line news, and we remarked then that he had become the nearest France had to royalty. Whatever would happen when he died? Well now we know. All media for the past few days has been saturated by his passing, and both television and radio have broadcast endless tributes. Yesterday was marked indelibly by the outpouring of genuine emotion from all classes of French society. Paris was choked by thousands upon thousands of worshipers, lining the Champs Elysees and the surrounding areas including the magnificent Madeleine Church. Hundreds of Harley Davidson riders formed a rumbling procession following the cortege; the numbers of bikes restricted by having to apply for permission via the local dealer several days beforehand. Johnny loved his Harley. Three Presidents of France were present at the ceremony, and Emmanuel Macron gave the initial address from outside the church, to the multitude lining the streets. He called for a round of applause for Johnny, which was politely acceded, but soon the chanting of “Johnny, Johnny” erupted from everywhere in the streets. The Catholic service went on for hours, but was moving and dignified, with noted academics and actors all performing with sincerity. France has lost its foremost icon, and the grieving will go on for weeks and weeks.

The nearest equivalent I can remember is the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. It was over twenty years ago, and an even more worldwide event than Johnnys’. She had also become an icon, not least because of her failed marriage and her obvious unhappiness, but also because of her beauty, elegance and her working for good causes. She was surrounded by rumours of infidelity, and her war with the rest of the Royal Family, but that only served to give her the role of underdog and therefore even more popular support. She was the most photographed lady in the world and a medias’ dream. Her premature death was surrounded by intrigue, and doubts still remain, but she was adored by millions. Her funeral, too, was an amazing event, deeply moving, and a stirring of national emotion that we have not seen since.

So what do these two events tell us about ourselves? The French are a nationalistic race as much as we Brits. They needed someone with whom they could identify and admire as the forefront of Frenchness. The fact that Johnny was born from a Belgian father, and lived mostly in Los Angeles did not make any difference. His records were produced over almost sixty years, and he brought rock and roll to France by making copies of the American songs which the locals could understand. Parental admiration was passed on through the generations. He overcame a difficult childhood, the emotions of which he has since shared with his public. His stage act embraced the movements of Elvis, and his good looks and newness entranced the country. There is no doubt that he loved his audience, and that his multiple concerts were magnificent showbiz affairs attended by huge crowds. He gave his all to his admirers, even performing when physically unfit to do so. His voice was magnificent and his stage presence enchanting. And he, too, was flawed. His flirtation with drugs, tobacco and alcohol, and his five marriages were not his best features, but he seemed to be a genuine friend to many, and untouched by his fame.

Perhaps we can see, or would like to see, something of ourselves in these two. Not from the talent or the beauty perhaps, but the fact that success can come hand in hand with failures in other parts of our lives. They both gave us hope that there are good things in life that we can admire and enjoy. They provided a distraction from the less attractive features of modern day life, and we must all have wondered what it was like to be them. For us they lived an alien life which we could never attain, but to imagine was fun.

And so to our Queen.She has devoted her life to supporting her people, and has avoided controversy almost completely. We love her for always being there, looking contented and being a seemingly willing participant in what must be for her the most mundane tasks. A true servant of the British, and for so long. But will she have the same emotion at her demise? Respect and gratitude certainly, and a profound admiration for a job well done. Her send off will be a huge affair, attended by dignitaries worldwide.
I am not sure that the emotion will be as strong as for Johnny and Diana. Could it be that a privileged upbringing and automatic elevation to the cosy life of Royalty is so far away from us that we cannot conceive of it? We can identify with the troubles of the former, and admire their victory over the various vicissitudes. They had their problems, but overcame them to become admired and loved. I guess that is what being human is all about.

Posted by: kathandroger | December 3, 2017

Swindlers’ List, Witnesses and the Telethon.

I guess it must happen in most countries, but we seem to have lots of unwanted phone calls from people selling something. Most often it will change our lives and save us huge amounts of money. We usually say we are not interested and put the phone down. It must be a rotten job to have to cold call people and have the phone put down, but there is no other way to deal with the unwanted intrusion. But there are other scams which involve people coming to visit the home and report on the failings, especially in older houses. Such was one last year, when I was told the mould in our roof needed urgent treatment and that the tiled roof was likely to leak. The chap had all the measuring equipment and I was convinced it needed doing until talked out of it by my much more sensible wife. She could do it all with a paintbrush and antimould solution like we had done in the barn conversions-and for a minute fraction of the cost. And yesterday we had another visit, this time from a gentleman who measured the carbon dioxide levels in older houses. Kath, who had agreed to the visit, was suspicious when he demanded that her husband was also present and it became obvious that he was selling some device which no doubt cost thousands and with which we could not live without! He soon left. I wonder how the telephone numbers of old houses are obtained, and whether there is a list somewhere of likely victims?

On a much happier note, we braved the frost and walked the few kilometres into St Remy yesterday morning for the Old Vehicle Rally for the annual Telethon appeal. This is held to raise money for research into rare childhood diseases, and like the Resto du Coeur is a big thing in France. The local tractor club, together with the old motorbike club, joined to leave from the village and make a long, freezing journey through the back roads to a well deserved lunch in a distant venue.IMG_1068The local mayors were all in attendance, the tractors towed various trailers with hay bales, dogs and shivering children, and, as usual in France, if it is harmless fun, no regard is shown to safety or rules of the road!IMG_1084There are lots of old grey Ferguson Tractors around, and they have not yet rocketed in value as they have in the UK. Perhaps we should look out for one.IMG_1061Seeing the old bikes made me determined to get my old 1954 Mobylette into running condition, but I said the same thing last year!We walked back home up the hill and could see the procession moving ever so slowly into the distance.

Having at last reached the road near our house we noticed a car and several people milling around, carrying various books and packages. It is unusual to see more than two people at the same time, and it took a few moments for the penny to drop; the annual invasion of the Jehovas’ Witnesses. The car stopped outside our house just as we were approaching. A dilemma; should we admit to our ownership and be regaled with religion, or should we pretend we were passing on our morning stroll? We wished them a good day and walked on, casting a furtive eye behind us to see is the coast was clear and then taking a sharp turn into the sheep field and the back way to our home. I have great respect for those with such profound belief and harmless compulsion to convert others, but to be honest it is really a pain in the arse to be treated as abnormal by an evangelistic minority group. I hope, honestly, that they had a good day. We did.

Posted by: kathandroger | November 26, 2017

Gluttony.

The season of overeating has come round again-all too soon. The French love to eat, and eat well. And the French love to drink, and to drink well. We live in France, so we have to do as the locals do! I was honoured this year to receive an invitation from the local mayor to attend a Christmas dinner for the mature gentry of the commune. What it really means is that I have become a doddery old bugger who needs to be fed generously before the grim reaper arrives. I was pleased to attend yesterday, without the wife, who felt she was much too young, and anyway needed to take the dog to training classes. The dog, apparently, was a real pain in the backside, but I was very happy amongst the forty or so French elders of our village, together with the mayor and his happy team. The latter acted as waiters, and the food, contrary to my expectations, was excellent.IMG_0061The local auberge provided the meal, and whenever we have ate there we have been disappointed, but yesterday was excellent. Stuffed Quail after Fois Gras, then cheese and pud=great meal, especially with a special Bordeaux wine. I made a point of saying hello to all the people I didn’t know, and everyone was very friendly to the strange Anglais who has a metal giraffe looking over his garden wall. I found out lots about the village, and made lots of new friends, and the occasion only took the standard four hours for completion. When a French meal is over, after a brief chat, everyone seems to know that the time has come to depart, and it seems that everyone rises to leave at the same time! Strange but true; the French are the most regimented people I know.

And more eating today! Our cycle club had its annual Christmas Dinner in a local restaurant. The wife came today as well, and acted as chauffeurse, meaning I could sample the varied wines, a fresh Muscadet with the fish course and a muscular Bordeaux with the beautifully cooked beef.IMG_0068 (1)Again it was all over rapidly after four hours of chat and eating.

Eating is one of our daily pleasures. We are lucky enough to have our own vegetables, eggs, fruit and lamb, and despite Kaths’  excellent home cooking, we both love to eat out. The local restaurants have become very well known to us and make us very welcome. But how much food is enough? Both of us watch the weight, but it must be very easy to lose control, just like it is with alcohol. More and more of us are overweight and out of condition, possibly just due to our gluttony, but more likely to our lack of exercise as well. It is so easy to eat, and so difficult to get off the sofa and burn some calories. We all know which foods are likely to pile on the pounds, but they taste so good, and just one more cake won’t make a difference, will it? Obesity is one of the diseases of our time, and one so simple to confront. I used to tell people who claimed to put on weight when eating next to nothing that I wished my pigs were as good food converters as they were. I could become a millionaire by feeding them next to nothing and then sell them at the local market!

So we will continue to eat the local treats, but counter the extra calories with less meals at other times, and more biking, swimming and walking the dog. Poor little thing will be complaining to the local Animal Rescue!

 

 

Posted by: kathandroger | November 19, 2017

French Multi Tasking.

I love the French. Here in the rural areas the attitude to life seems so more laid back than the bustle of UK. We don’t seem to care if we have the latest car model (although we have!), and there is always time to stop for a chat, even if it means holding people up in the queue behind us. Timetables are not always to be obeyed. I went to a meeting of the local Red Cross yesterday, because a French friend had just given me a pheasant, and he asked me to attend as he ran the show! It was supposed to start at 11am, but knowing the local timekeeping I turned up at 11.45 to find it was just underway. How the French love their speeches! I still don’t know what the meeting was about, other than for the local mayor to tell the Red Cross what a super job they are doing, and then for countless more speakers to say the same thing. The crowds in attendance were obviously there for the midday drinks and eats, but the endless talking went on for so long that I had to leave. But my face must have been seen, so the job was done!

On the way home I took this snap of a local sign.IMG_0053The track leads down to the local village, and I have always wondered, since no cars or motorcycles are allowed, why the two tonne prohibition is enforced. No heavy wheelbarrows perhaps. It was only this week on our club walk that a clever chap reckoned it must be for tractors, but there is nowhere to go down there on a tractor! Never mind, it is the French way and it must be respected; I only hope they will put a sign at the top of our little road to prevent the wayward juggernaut getting stuck.

The French in general are a very capable bunch, able to perform multiple tasks. Home improvements figure highly on the DIY list, as witnessed by the huge number of relevant stores in the area, like Bricomarche, Brico Depot, Bricorama, Mr Bricolage, and Bricocatastrophe. OK, I made the last one up, but that is just the B’s. And in addition very many locals produce their own vegetables and fruit, and blast their own meat out of our surrounding fields, with local pheasant,duck and partridge, deer and the local wild boar.So it was no surprise to me to see a local store which has really diversified;IMG_0056The little shop owned by Mr Vachon, deals in presents, is a general store, sells ironmongery, but rather surprisingly also arranged funerals! On further inspection, it can be seen that the premises are next door to the local church, so full marks to him for his opportunism.

The heavy Dachshund has been finished and given a good coat of paint. It makes the little one look a bit shabby now, so I will have to do some refurbishing. Polly thinks it is all a bit silly, and they don’t even have backsides to sniff!IMG_0058And I know the ears are much too long, but I had a bit of spare aluminium, and it seemed a pity to not use it all!

 

Posted by: kathandroger | November 12, 2017

Marvelous Machines.

The autumn has been kind to the local farmers. A long dry and warm period to enable the maize harvest to be collected. Acres and acres of the stuff, and machines in perpetual motion from dawn to dusk-except for lunch of course! Our environment changes completely; no more hidden turns in the road, no more watering jets to avoid on the bicycle, and bland deserts where there was once a two metre crop. To be fair, the fields are prepared and reseeded within days, and the oil seed rape and winter wheat are already showing their brave shoots in the face of the colder days. But what about those machines which enable the maize to be harvested so efficiently? Man is such a clever chap..yes I know girls are clever too, but not many have been involved in designing combine harvesters to my knowledge. I often marvel at our old and unused winnowing machine, which on the turn of a handle produces a breeze to blow the chaff from the wheat whilst moving racks sort the seed and direct it into a shute and then to the bucket.IMG_3872But that is nothing compared to the motorised giants that rumble over the fields.IMG_3868The great grinding giants effortlessly convert the fields of green into a wasteland to be prepared for the next crop. How this hulking beast can shred the cobs off the plant, then shred the seeds off the cob, then sort the grains to be powered into a waiting trailer is a source of wonderment to me.IMG_3870All this lot is then left to put nutrients back into the soil. Very clever. But as with all clever things, rarely are they perfect. It seems that a good proportion of the waste product must be distributed over our roads- a reminder perhaps of how much work the farmers are doing!IMG_3869

With the lengthening of the days and the now inclement weather, a chap has a good excuse to retreat into his workshop and play with his tools. I wanted to make a bigger metal Dachshund from another old fire extinguisher, and so, with an old car exhaust, a metal drainpipe and the bracket from a TV receiver, work has begun. I had second thoughts about setting off the old extinguisher, but it was many years out of date, and probably would not have worked in an emergency. Oh yes it would! After pulling the pin on the very heavy cylinder the power of the emerging jet swung me round and nearly threw me over. The gravel of the courtyard was quickly covered with carbon dioxide foam and the dog looked on, amazed. Emerging gas quickly cools the kit, including my hands and the dogs nose, and the noise even scared the roaming chickens, but what boys fun! IMG_3871The head is proving a bit difficult, and the ears have yet to be fashioned, and then the paint job will have to be considered, but I bet the manufacturers of the extinguisher would not have guessed that it would eventually end up as a dog in a courtyard!

Posted by: kathandroger | November 5, 2017

A House from a Hovel.

When we bought the barn over the road, it was part of a larger plot sold to a young local man. Francois has since been converting what was once a complete wreck into what will be a lovely house. Before we came to the agreement that we would not bid against him in the auction for the buildings, we had planned to buy the property ourselves, if only to protect us from some undesirable development. In fact as the buildings were in such bad condition, I had planned to pull most of them down and sell on what materials could be salvaged. The plot remaining could then be used for building a new house at some time in the future. But Francois had other ideas, and the youth, enthusiasm and drive to put his ideas into action. Over the past few months we have seen what was a hovel slowly show its potential to become a pretty family home with lots of imaginative features. IMG_3866He has been helped by a weekend team of his mates and a couple of Portuguese bricklayers who do not know how to stop working. Except that is for lunch! The old barbecue that I donated has been used diligently to cook various meats during the only break from work in the day, and the wafting smells have been a joy to me in the garden. Much laughing and drinking but then back to several more hours of hard graft. All the family seem to have been involved, with Dad delivering sand during the week, and Granddad passing his experienced eye over developments. The huge tree in front of the main house was cut down by Francois with his ageing Granddad sitting on a chair behind the direction of fall of the main trunk, instructing his Grandson in which direction to hammer in the wedges which controlled the fall of the huge lump of timber. It was lovely to watch and landed exactly as planned. Having been through all the developments of a renovation project with our own barns, we can appreciate how much effort is needed, and how initially everything seems to be just rubble and holes everywhere. That stage is certainly what he has at present, but the new openings for windows and doors have revealed the potential of the finished project. The pretty round opening in the top of one barn wall was cut from a concrete reservoir which was found in the garden!IMG_3863 It accentuates the height of the inside and will show off the old beams well. It is a pleasure to see the rebirth of a property and especially one done by a Frenchman. So often it is only the Brits who seem to feel the financial demands are worth the effort in renovating an old French property. Bon Courage Francois!

Back in our house the animals, as usual, are ruling the roost. Dennis the cat has decided that he can only drink running water now, and demands to have a drip feed from the tap turned on for him to satisfy his thirst!IMG_3861 (2) We don’t really mind that, but hope that he will soon desist from peeing in the bath upstairs when he can’t be bothered to go outside!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 29, 2017

26 on the 26th.

Our season ended a couple of weeks ago with some fairly average weather. Since then we have been blessed with soaring temperatures and windless conditions. Lovely. On the 26th of October in was 26 degrees in our courtyard, enough to thoroughly dry the squash and to sit outside for lunch in the shade-the sun was too hot!IMG_0997It is difficult to know what to do when the weather is hot. Fishing seemed a good idea, not because I catch much, but because the river is so pretty at this time of the year, and anyway the dog had not been in the two man canoe as yet. She seems to be scared of nothing, so I reckoned a little paddle up and down the river would be no problem. She loves the water now, but only when she is not out of her depth. Lugging the boat to the river edge was a game, but once on the water my new passenger seemed to enjoy the experience.IMG_0048The problems of balance in a narrow craft had not entered her head though, and leaning over the side to put a paw in the water was met with fierce commands of “sit down”-not always obeyed. I did a bit of fishing as well, casting a lure for the pike and perch in the margins. She could not understand this little fish like thing that kept arriving at the boat only to be chucked out again, and thought it all a bit silly. I guess she was right, and we both settled down to enjoy the trip.IMG_0051We are so lucky to have this lovely river so close to us, and there are lots of fish in it. I stopped at a bridge on the recent club bikeride to see literally thousands of fish, all about a foot in length shoaling together and making their way effortlessly upstream. After humping the kayak back up to the car a charming couple who are refurbishing a bankside house invited me to see the fruits of their labours and to have a cup of coffee with them. Nice place, nice people.

But the dog is not the only clever animal we have. Moins Dix, the goat, had been noting how the dog has progressed in her training, and wanted to show some of his own tricks. After some several hours of coaching he can now stand on three legs when commanded. and we hope he will soon be doing handstands.IMG_0999

The tomatoes and peppers have all been pulled up from the garden now, and the remaining bean plants fed to the sheep. The soil is still very dry with the lack of rain and so I attempted to overcome my previous failed attempts at ploughing the land. IMG_3858The single furrow machine has always been too difficult to control, throwing me about like a can on a car exhaust, but I was not going to let it beat me.IMG_3859 OK, the furrows are not as straight as a dye, but the soil is turned over and it has saved an awful lot of digging. I will leave the frost to kill the weeds and rotivate in the springtime. Good job done!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 22, 2017

Mist, Maggots, Dog and Smells.

The weather has been particularly beautiful this past week. Our gentle journey into Autumn has been soothed by soft misty and moist mornings then increasing warmth and sunshine during the day.IMG_3849This is the view from our bedroom window; normally the hills in the distance are very clear to see, but the shrouding mist has hidden them for several days. It is a lovely time to walk the dog with the sun just coming up and banishing the gloom for another day. The walks have been somewhat damp, and both of us come back needing a good toweling down, but only the dog gets one. Speaking of whom, she has now discovered the wheelbarrow and it is difficult to use the thing without the animal jumping in for a ride!IMG_3853She has also taken to the quad bike and will no doubt be driving it on her own soon!

The kitchen has been cursed by the smell of rotting flesh for the past couple of weeks. It seemed to be coming from the extractor vent above the cooker, where the birds had nested in the summer. The stench was horrible, and Kath was convinced another corpse was responsible. Dismantling the thing is an awkward job, and I was not pleased to find that the duct was as clean as a whistle, and much cussing was done with the reassembly. Strangely the smells seem to come from differing parts of the room, and a systematic removal of cupboards and bumbling about in various areas high and low did not explain the cause. Turning things over in my mind one night I realised that the vent pipe from our septic tank had been covered by the Boston Ivy growing up the house; the smells could be coming from the hole I had made in the drain pipe in the kitchen in order to unblock the sink channel. IMG_3851 Out with the long ladder again and after cutting down a hundredweight of foliage things were no better! We reckon something must have died in the space above the ceiling and that the odours have been falling from above through the lighting holes. It seems to be getting a bit better now so the corpse must be desiccating nicely!

My wife is very good about most repugnant things. Except rats, worms and maggots. We have been getting all the outside equipment dried and stored this past week, and among the games was the giant outside chess set. This was a cheap purchase which was too light, in that the pieces tended to fall off the board in the slightest breeze. To counter the problem we had weighted the chessmen through a hole in the base. Kath decided to empty the pieces to clean them properly, but soon came trembling and asking for assistance as she could go no further; they had become full of maggots, and she just could not look at them without retching. Summoned from the ladder, in helpful mood, I thought it a bit strange, but any maggots would be useful for fishing trips. Close inspection however revealed an error of identification. The maggots had not changed into flies, were not moving, and each seemed strangely smooth. IMG_3854We then remembered that we had weighted some of the chessmen with old rice!

Posted by: kathandroger | October 15, 2017

Elephant in a Jam jar.

We live just outside a very small hamlet in very rural France. Our road beside the house is narrow and used, usually, only by the locals. There is a kink in the route just up the hill from us where two houses have been built, many years ago, close together. The chicane serves us well in slowing down what little traffic there is and enables us the time to get the dog up when she is sleeping in the middle of the tarmac. I like the road, as the drivers are usually known to us and often stop for a chat or a general nose around to see what has been built or what has fallen down. It is all a bit old fashioned, slow and traditional. But life for the driver has changed over the past few years. We now have this wondrous device called Satellite Navigation, enabling us to pick the best routes, often by the shortest distance. We haven’t got one in Kaths’ 2CV or in my old banger, and we still seem to find our way home again, but then we don’t do enormous distances either. The nice lady who speaks to us on the Satnav in our new car is always very polite and sure of herself and often gets the route correct, except through Paris that is. Anyway, big lorries have Satnavs now, and it has caused some problems along our little road. The shortest distance for a trip is not always the best, as a very nice lorry driver found out a couple of days ago. We heard some repeated roaring of a big engine, and assumed it must be something to do with the harvest, until we looked outside.IMG_0976It really was like trying to get an Elephant into a jam jar. The poor driver could not reverse up the lane for a kilometre along such a small road, and jumped out of his cab very many times to see how he could progress. We both thought it an impossible task, at least without taking bits of the houses off, but each to his own trade, and after about twenty minutes of puffing and panting from the engine, and puffing and panting from the driver, he made it through, even stopping again to chat to us about his fun! We have been in touch with our local mayor to ask him to put in a sign at the top and bottom of the road, with the accompanying photos, but this is France, and something may be done after Brexit!

I love fishing, but usually catch very little, in terms of quantity as well as quality. Last week friend Michel and I at last made good our promised trip onto the river at Descartes in his little boat. We had chosen a perfect day, with very little wind and some warm intermittent sunshine. Orders had been taken for the fish supper that night, so failure to catch was not even considered. Carnassiers (fish eating fish) were on the menu, so we anchored under the bridge to catch some tiddlers to use as live bait for the pike, perch and Zander we were about to catch. All went well, and in a few minutes we had some little bleak swimming around in the aerated container and made our way to the island where the monsters live. Well I don’t know what went wrong from then on, but we did not see a fish or have a bite for hours and hours. It was good company though, and after a couple of beers the disappointment of the fishing was eased. I had been trying with a lure, casting endlessly into the water without any success, but just as we were packing up I saw a little fish jump out near the bank, presumably being chased by a bigger fish. To my astonishment when I chucked the lure in it was immediately grabbed by something bigger than a tiddler. Et Voila, a lovely plump Perch to end the day on a high note.IMG_0046The boat we were fishing from is really enormous, and that is why the fish looks small! I wanted to put it back into the river, but Michel, being French, insisted that it must be eaten,  so it made its way to his kitchen instead. Fishing is a bit like skiing, in that the actual catching of fish is only part of the action; the surroundings are a great part of the pleasure, but I have to admit that the thrill of catching a wild creature on an artificial lump of wood and plastic was the highlight of the day. I hope it tasted good.

Posted by: kathandroger | October 8, 2017

Badger bother and the Gourmet Goat.

To our surprise, the local badger did not eat all our sweetcorn this year. In fact I thought he may have gone to pastures new, as the rear gate had not been dug under for several months. I was wrong. On a gentle review of the maturing crops in the garden I was alarmed to find that our nearly ready autumn cauliflowers had been vandalised.IMG_3845 (2)The leaves surrounding the flower had all been eaten away to display the flowers, now being attacked by the weather and starting to deteriorate. The footprints in the ground gave the clue to the culprit. Moins Dix, the castrated goat, had managed to get in and had feasted on his favourite crop. He had been in the adjacent garden once before this year, a young guest asking whether it was OK for the goat to be on the lawn! He had managed to jump over the fence on that occasion, and a extra layer of barbed wire seemed to have prevented any recurrence of the problem. So how could the wayward animal have entered? A brief inspection brought the answer. The fence had been completely destroyed in one corner.IMG_3844It had been upended from beneath, by some great force, way beyond that of our wayward goat. Brock the Badger had been up to his hooligan ways again. He had dug under that corner before, and I had, I thought, reinforced the sheep wire enough to prevent any recurrence. Not so. All three posts had been forced out of the ground, and his track was plain to see. I am not sure where he was going, as the sweetcorn remnants were still intact, but it underlined the impossibility of stopping a determined badger by feeble fencing. I have rebuilt the corner but left a badger size hole at the bottom, and the remaining cauliflowers now have black plastic bags over them until they are large enough to eat.

Polly the dog is making excellent progress. She has even made peace with the chickens and will calmly share scraps with them.IMG_3846We attended the local dog training class again yesterday, always an entertaining event, and it is fair to say that she was one of the star performers. There were fifteen dogs, all of different breeds and sizes, and all of differing intents. Some intent on fighting the others, some wanting to go home, and some just happy to have a snooze until it was their turn to  perform. Polly just wanted to play, and was a bit bored with the lack of pace of events. For me the best part of the afternoon was when the dog was held on a long lead by the trainer, the owner walked fifty metres away and the dog was then called. Some made their way leisurely towards the owner, some more rapidly. Our lovely trainer, Sabrina, is a very, very sturdy lady, well endowed above waist level, and very calm and authoritative with the dogs. One powerful Alsatian was very keen to reach its owner, and the long lead which Sabrina held was not long enough! The sight of our buxom boss being dragged across the turf with all parts rhythmically rippling was a sight for sore eyes. To her credit, she saw the funny side too.

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