A love letter to France from a Leaver

What a joy to get to the Dordogne and escape back-biting south London

Real Life

14 Jul 2016

Bonjour mes amis! Cydney spaniel ici, en France! Well, the Eurotunnel was very nice, although the dog departure lounge could have been grassier. I’m not a fan of AstroTurf. Doesn’t hold a scent very well. No one checked my passport either. Mummy passed it through the window with hers and his as we went through, but the French police laughed and said they didn’t want it. What a cheek. Mummy was cross because it cost over a hundred pounds. Hopefully they will check it on the way back so we can get our money’s worth.

The other passengers were friendly. There were a few dachshunds and a Hungarian vizsla in the dog-agility area, stretching their legs before departure. No sarcastic growls about Brexit. Apart from an Italian spinone who wouldn’t take no for an answer, everyone was perfectly civil.

What a relief to get away from the backbiting in south London, where everyone seems to be perfectly hysterical. The Greek rescue dogs on Tooting Common keep asking whether they are going to be sent back where they came from. I told one of them to give it a rest the other day. Of course he will be allowed to stay. But he said: ‘You don’t understand. I don’t want to stay. I want to be sent back. I was only minding my own business, tied up outside a supermarket in Crete, waiting for my owner to buy some washing powder, when this British lady comes along and says, “Oh, you poor dear thing! Abandoned by your owner, another casualty of the eurozone crisis!” And she unties me and takes me away and before I know what’s happening I’m on a boat, then I’m in England walking in this blasted, miserable park in the cold and rain three times a day. And the food! It’s atrocious. Completely tasteless.’ Moan, moan, moan. I had to walk away in the end.

Thank goodness for les vacances. France is great fun, even if it is too hot. The main thing is, you can eat snails here. Snails! I’ve been trying to eat snails in the back garden for years and she always screams, ‘Ah! Lungworm!’ and sticks her hand in my mouth and pulls them back out again. Here you can eat as many as you like. And you can eat frogs. And horses, apparently. The mind boggles. I’ve had horse hoof before — I always clear up the leftovers after the farrier’s been — but a whole horse? That would last me two or three meals at least, I reckon.

The locals have all been welcoming. I met a young Jack Russell type on the first night at our stop-over hotel in Angers. He wouldn’t leave me alone. Wanted me to make all sorts of commitments but I told him I couldn’t promise anything. We might pass by there again on the way back, who knows? I’m keeping my options open. When we got to the farmhouse where we are staying inDor-Dog-Ne there were two very handsome setters, both very keen. I’m playing it cool by snarling then grabbing them by the throat every time they say hello. We’ll see…

Their humans made a big fuss of me. The man said, ‘C’est un grand voyage pour une petite bébé.’ But I’m not a baby, I’m a grown dog. I’m going to have to stop answering to her silly pet names, it’s embarrassing.

I can’t quite get the hang of this temperature. I try to lie in the shade under her sunlounger while she’s toasting herself, but there are so many interesting smells that I can’t resist running round sniffing, burrowing myself into hedges, and so I get all hot and start panting, but I’m not getting in that pool, no way. There’s a sea monster in there, lurking along the bottom. They call it the ‘pool hoover’. I’ve pounced at it a few times to see whether I can frighten it but it’s not backing off so I’m not taking any chances.

The food is terrific. Boy, these Frenchies can cook. And they allow dogs to sit at the table everywhere. None of that dreadful canine discrimination that Britain is rife with. We had steak-frites followed by ice cream the first night. Superb, although I could have done with them passing me down more of that Chantilly whipped cream. The next night we had duck, then more ice cream and cream. Felt a bit sick after that, to be honest. Had to scoff a load of grass. I’m having French dog food tonight by the looks of it. She bought tins from the supermarché. Probably best. As long as I get some of those snails before we leave I’ll be happy. Off for a walk now. French birds to chase. A bientôt!


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