Trips outdoors are brief and carefully planned. My lovely convertible has its roof shut and the air conditioning on. When Poppy and I walk, we choose a short, shady stretch.
Poppy has had to put up with short toddles from the bridge car park up to the village of Serres, because that side of the valley is still in relative shade in the early morning.
This means, of course, negotiating the prolific four-legged population of Serres. On our way up this morning we came across the two extremely unpleasant, yapping pugs, who lunged towards Poppy, beside themselves with fury. Their owner sensibly keeps these unattractive animals on their leads.
Once at Margaret’s house, I met Poppy’s bosom pal in Serres, a long-haired dachshund called Gaston. Owned by a nice (gay) couple who have a weekend house here, Gaston is friendly, playful, and as obsessed as Poppy by rubber balls or, in his case, bones. This morning he went after Poppy’s ball while she, as usual, played the submissive I’m-the-bottom-of-the-pack role, and watched on. Whereupon Gaston amazingly pushed the ball over to her, recognising it was for sharing. Gaston’s owners, Marcelle (the wheelchair-bound neighbour in her nineties), Margaret and I spent a happy quarter of an hour laughing at the two dogs’ antics.
That is, when we were not sharing a moment of disapproval at the people who park their cars in the allocated disabled space near Marcelle’s house. “Inadmissible,” said one of Gaston’s owners. We all know that one of the offenders is the sole member of the council who lives in Serres. Like so many of the breaches of rules here – such as the abandoned old cars taking up parking spaces, or the eyesore of dozen or so trucks and cars in the most visible location in the valley, a car business in blatant disregard of the planning restrictions – nothing is done. The maire likes the quiet life.
On the way back down to the car, we have to pass the house with the two fierce cats. These sit on the wall, staring malignantly at Poppy and one has in the past actually attacked her. Both Margaret and I have had to use a stick to beat it off Poppy. She now knows to walk briskly straight past the house, looking straight ahead, hoping somehow that she is invisible.
This morning I came across another cat who looked equally hostile. It leapt back through the hole in this door and then popped her head out, growling menacingly, daring Poppy to come up the steps. Poppy very wisely declined. She loves chasing cats who run away from her, but has learnt that if they hold their ground they are best avoided.