Welcome to my Blog. This is my attempt to make sense of Kate and I living in France, the lifestyle,the french, my home and animals and anything else that seems amusing to me. Sorry I have a strange sense of humour!! Please feel free to comment on any of my posts. See below or go to my new facebook page La Godefrere

I plan to update this with weekly news of my adventures and those of my animals at La Godefrere.  You can now look us up on our new facebook page - La Godefrere.

Cat in a hot chicken house: the effect of swearing at hens; Spring watch comes to La Godefrere and the last day of the French elections

June 18, 2017
The weather has finally decided that it is summer and this past week we have had wall to wall sunshine. Today is a gloriously sunny day with clear blue skies and it is hot. So, I am here sat under one of the trees in the orchard trying to get some shade while I write up the blog. The hot weather is going to last all week and it is likely to get even hotter as the week goes on. Fortunately, there is a light breeze which is helping to maintain a bit of coolness. If not we revert to the ice creams!

Not surprisingly the cats are nowhere to be seen. It is a bit too hot for them and they have disappeared to find a quiet shady spot for a long sleep. But they will be here right on time for their tea. They appear as if by magic. This week’s blog has as usual a heavy emphasis on the animals here at la Godefrere and it has been an interesting and at times frustrating week as you will see!

A couple of days ago I was looking for the hens as we need to keep a check on them as Emmeline continues to make escape attempts. As part of the search protocol it is always a good idea to check the chicken coop. There have been several occasions where we think we have lost a chicken only to find them in their house in the process of laying an egg! So, I go to check the house and find on the nest, not a chicken but a small cat curled up and fast asleep on the straw. In the nest next to Moggie was a warm egg so the hen must have been on the nest and laying an egg while accompanied by a sleeping cat.

Moggie pretends to be a hen!

The hen house is usually parked under a tree so the hens get some shade so it was quite a good for a quiet kip and certainly Moggie was not likely to be disturbed unless two chickens wanted to lay eggs and there would have been some moaning from the hens. I suppose that the hen would have tried to sit on Moggie to lay her egg. A recipe for disaster. As the sun was moving around the hen house got too hot for Moggie and he had to go and find somewhere cooler.

I mention that Emmeline is a problem at the moment and is regularly escaping over the gates and into our lane. Often, she just flies up and sits on the top of the gate as if to say, “look at me, shall I jump over?” .She is taking the micky right now as I type this by jumping up twice while I have been writing this sentence. Mrs. Parish has been dispatched with her most strict tones to dissuade her.  If we go over and tell her off she jumps back into the garden. If we don’t catch her she will jump into the lane and wander off finding things to eat. This is annoying as we have to go out into the lane and chase her back in. This is an interruption but usually Emmeline goes back through the gate with little trouble.

On Wednesday, I was working on making a bench out of an old wooden beam and was out by the side of the gite. I looked up to find that Emmeline had somehow got over the fence and was in the cattle field next door. Now, this posed more of a problem as the barrier between us and the cattle is a long fence of barbed wire with on the other side an electric wire that gives the cattle a small electric shock. In order to keep the chickens out of this field we put a wire grill all the way along. This meant that a) I cannot get into the field to chase her back and b) she would not be able to jump up as the electric fence was in the way. (Mrs. Parish has just had to go out into the lane to retrieve the chicken!)

A tricky logistical problem. Either, I would have to go out and down the road to find the cattle entrance and persuade Emmeline to come home, the long way. This would involve trying to turn off the electric fence without touching the wire (something I have failed to accomplish previously!). It may have also involved meeting the cows face to face if they decided to see what all the fuss was about.  The, apparently easier option was to go down to our hay field and try to get Emmeline to come through the fence there (as it is outside our garden there is no wire grill to stop her getting through. So, I get a handful of corn to bribe her. I managed to entice her to come right down to the fence and just as I was about to congratulate myself she decided that she did not want to come through the fence and turned back. 

Emmeline keeping her distance from me

It was at this point that I was able to test my question about the effect of swearing on a chicken. The answer is absolutely none at all! I shouted at her and used up all my extensive repertoire of foul and abusive language. I even threw sticks at her but all to no avail as she now totally ignored me and went back up the field   So, I walked all the way back up to the shed to get some more corn and this time put it in a scoop which makes a nice noise when shaken and usually results in hens coming from all directions. I shook the scoop at Emmeline and nothing. I threatened her that I didn’t care if the fox got her. I even threatened to put her in the pot and eat her (of course she knew I would have to catch her first!)

In the end, I had to call in the shock troops, that is Mrs. Parish who is all calm and professional. She just lays a trail of corn from the edge of the field and through the fence and wouldn’t you know it Emmeline follows the trail and is back on our side. I swear, she smirked at me as she came under the fence!

So, now I attempt to get back to the bench making and find that in my absence a baby sparrow has fallen out of a nest in the gite roof and is flapping about in the grass next to my bench. So, I have to go and get some gloves so that I can pick up the baby and put it somewhere safe from marauding cats.

That done I am again about to start work when Moggie comes out of the flower bed and walks towards me. Just as I start up a conversation with Moggie around the corner of the gite comes a little owl who dive bombs Moggie and causes me to duck out of the way. I have then to find a safe place for Moggie before finally starting work!

It is starting to be a bit like Springwatch here and I keep expecting Chris Packham to turn up. We have two little owl chicks (on cue the owl is sat in a tree on the other side of the garden and has started shouting at the cats). They are quietly eating their tea. The parent owls are very active at dusk and dawn feeding the two little ones. During the day, they are sat on various vantage points, the TV aerial, the gite roof, and the perching tree. We also have starlings, blackbirds and sparrows with young to feed and they all seem to have someone to shout at. The owls started up at 5am this morning, followed by the blackbirds. Nature is anything but quiet.

In order to explore the extent of wildlife here at La Godefrere, I have bought myself a trail camera. This is a camera that is triggered by a PIR whenever anything crosses its path. The camera can be tied to a tree and will take picture both day and night. So far, we have had lots of pictures of hands and knees as we put up or take down the camera. However, we also have pictures and video of a roe deer coming across the nature trail at the bottom of the big field and also a hare coming along the trail itself.

Roe deer on the nature trail

Amidst all this animal stuff the real world has been chugging along and today sees the final round of the French Assembly elections when the top two candidates in each constituency go before the voters. It seems from all the opinion polls that M. Macron’s party will win a significant majority. The problem is that his party is a new one and no one is quite sure what it stands for as it is not a traditional left or right party. Certainly, Macron brings a new freshness to French politics but it will be interesting to see what develops.

I mention politics and I need a drink so, I think I can safely get to the cave without being attacked by nesting birds and get a little something for an aperitif and some wine to go with supper. Given how hot it is a cold beer might be in order followed by a nicely chilled Cabernet d’Anjou rose from the Loire Valley.

Bonne santé


Election surprises here and there; silence of the lambs; watching the grass grow; the happy time returns

June 11, 2017
Well, another week has gone by and this time it has been mostly sunny. With that in mind I head out to the garden to continue my innovative approach to writing the blog in the garden. The sun appears to have disappeared and there is a cooling breeze. So, instead of using the wisteria for shade I am now using it as a windbreak! Instead of a nice chilled glass of wine I have a mug of tea to keep my hands warm enough to type the blog.

The weather has certainly been changeable this week. This morn...

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An artistic change; Requiem for a Magpie; The silence of the hens; fox crossing; we build a Sitootery and listen for whom the bell tolls

June 4, 2017
There has been a radical change to my usual Sunday habit of disappearing for several hours indoors to write up the weekly blog. Mrs. Parish refers to my writer’s garret and warns that I will become pale and thin after shutting myself away in pursuit of writer’s inspiration. So this week I decide to take my laptop out into the garden so that I can be inspired by the sights and sounds of La Godefrere.

I discover that sitting at our garden table in the shade of the wisteria has a certain arti...

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The mystery of the French poubelle; Batman returns; the smart Ant City; don’t forget the moles and the nature trail develops

May 28, 2017

Everyone who comes to France is, I suspect, like me amused and intrigued at the French name for a dustbin as a “Poubelle”.  It has connotations of the word poo. Perhaps it means “beautiful smell”. In fact, it is not a translatable word as the humble French dustbin is named after the civil servant who first introduced the idea of a container to collect household rubbish. It was named after Eugene Poubelle.

Poubelle was born in Caen. He studied to become a lawyer and obtained a PhD. He t...

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The story of French cock; the owl starling; cycling gadgets and circling buzzards; tax deductible lunch.

May 21, 2017
This morning next door’s cockerel Victor was in full voice. It may be that Giselle and Daniel
Have invested in some new chickens. This usually produces some extra effort from Victor and he usually starts early in the morning and he goes through a full repertoire of crowing.

Of course, it is relevant to remember that the cock is a French national symbol and this led me to seeking an explanation as to how a humble chicken got to such an elevated position. The Latin word Gallus means both "roost...

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Macron, President; The beast of La Godefrere; donkey drama; a chicken stroller; gite special offer; cat thieves

May 14, 2017
Well, in the end it was a clear victory for Emmanuel Macron who won with 66% share of the vote compared to Le Pen who got 34%. What is in many ways more significant is the number of abstentions and what in France are called “votes blanc” (literally a white vote as the voter puts a plain white slip of paper into their voting envelope to signify that they have voted but not voted for either candidate). There were 12 million abstentions by people who stayed away and did not vote. There were ...

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More culture starts with a mad monk; French election insults; on guard owls, casual cows and lamb’s legs and ends at afro – fusion with Mad Lenoir

May 7, 2017
We continued our French culture theme with our friends from the North. We felt it only right to carry on our missionary work with Sandy and Kathy, from up North. So, on Tuesday we went to see an art exhibition by Bernard Chardon. 

The artist is a priest and the museum housing his work is situated in an old chapel which is part of a large nunnery come old people’s home just outside Lassay-les-Chateaux. Being a religious artist of course I always refer to him as that mad monk artist and have ...

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Our friends from the North arrive and are culturally enhanced; whisky is tidied and we are visited by 14 buzzards and then the lamb feast

May 1, 2017
This week we have our friends Sandy and Kathy here to stay. They are from Yorkshire in the north of England and therefore from an area culturally deprived. Therefore, we felt it would be a good plan to spend the weekend introducing them to the cultural magnificence of France. Our immediate thought was wine! On Friday, we took them to one of our local supermarkets which just happened to have a Spring wine sale with plenty of special offers. This ended up with us buying a trolley full of wine, ...

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Election special; Roget’s repas; notes from a ropeman; Juliet is given a seeing to; and a hoopoe comes calling

April 23, 2017
As I write the blog we are awaiting the first-round election results. You will remember from last week just how close the French Presidential election results will be with the top two coming from a range of four candidates. The final opinion polls show it is too close to call. Voting is taking place as we speak and the polls close in rural areas at 7pm and in urban areas at 8pm. In France the counting takes place at individual polling stations with the results reported in to a central office....

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The trials of running a gite; French elections, “au coude a coude”, a tiring week with concrete and trees; but at least we have happy hens

April 16, 2017
This week we have our first paying guests staying in the gite. For the first time, we have a French family here on holiday. They are a lovely family from Rennes with two young children aged 2 and 6. They wanted a nice gite with large grounds for the kids and a chance for some quiet but good family time. They are enjoying themselves and have had a barbecue this lunchtime despite it being a bit chilly, but at least the sun is shining!

The arrival of guests coincided with an interesting report in...

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About Me

Graham Parish Graham Parish is a former UNISON Trade Union official who retired to France with Kate (a previous self employed gardener and now resident gardener here) to start a new life of wine, cheese, french bread and a vegetable garden on a large rural french farm with holiday gite, and associated animals.


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