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.

A sad but very French farewell to Emile - while back chez nous - Owlie is back; we have new neighbours and the hens live dangerously!

November 12, 2018

We said farewell to Emile on Saturday at the Catholic church in Gorron. It was full and we estimated that there were over 300 people in attendance, a fitting tribute to the love and respect that so many had for Emile.

The funerals in France are arranged very quickly and in typical French style done in accordance with tradition. This makes things tough for the surviving spouse. Emile died on Tuesday and so for the rest of the week his body was laid out in the funeral home for friends and family to go and pay their respects. This meant that poor Yvette had to be there all day and evening to receive the mourners. On Friday there is then a formal ceremony of fixing down the lid of the coffin.

On Saturday Yvette had to be at the funeral home to collect the coffin and escort it to the church for a 10am funeral service which lasted an hour. After the service all those at the church were invited for brioche and coffee or wine. This was at the village hall of Brece, close to Gorron.

As close friends of Emile, Mrs. Parish and I with another English couple and two French couples had the job of organising this part of the day. We had been asked to do this to take the pressure off the family. So, we had to wait until the end of the service and then pay our respects to the coffin before rushing to our car to get to Brece and get everything prepared in time for the mourners to arrive. We just about got everything done before the first arrived. Thankfully all 300 did not come back as the hall was quite tiny!

Then the family all had to go off to Mayenne for the cremation at 1pm. This being France everything revolves around eating so the family were coming back for a meal in the same hall. This meant that we had to prise away the other mourners from their wine and brioche to get them to go so we could completely reorganise things and get 60 tables and chairs out so we could lay up for the family meal, open bottles of wine and cider and get ready to serve the meal. Fortunately, the restaurant in Brece was supplying the food.

It was a bit of a rush but we managed to do it effectively and we were also invited to eat with the family. This was a special privilege as we all looked upon Emile as part of our family. After the meal the family then all had to go back to the crematorium to collect the ashes and then back to the church in Gorron to lay the ashes to rest. Each stage involving some form of ceremony.

We cleared up and got home physically and emotionally drained at about 5pm. Poor Yvette must have been totally exhausted. Mrs. Parish and I are hoping to call in and see her on Tuesday.

We are getting back to normal after a quieter week here at La Godefrere and a chance to catch up on a few jobs around the house and gardens. The weather has turned a bit cooler but still we have sunny days and very little rain until the weekend when it rained and now it won’t stop! 

No repas this week, although we were very excited to receive our invitation to the Commune meal for “Les cheveux blancs”. This is the meal provided by the Commune Council for all over 65s in the area. It is on 25th November and we are looking forward to it. In the past two years the meal has been superb and the wine flows liberally. We make sure we walk to the village hall rather than take a car!

Our little owl has returned! In the Spring the little owls were using a hole in the roof of the gite as a nest. Indeed, for the previous two years they had successfully raised a family. This year something went wrong and the owls abandoned the nest site. They also went missing from their perching posts, either on the gite TV aerial or on the chimney of an outbuilding next door.

We did not see much of the owls over the summer, although we still heard them calling at night. Worse was to come as a couple of pigeons began squatting in the hole. They made a lot of noise and a lot of mess and once they had raised a couple of babies, we chased them off. Mrs. Parish went up into the bedrooms and banged on the ceiling. In a twin assault I raced around the courtyard shouting and waving my arms about. Those mad English people!

Anyway, our tactics were effective and the pigeons left and we have not seen them for a month or so. We noticed the little owl was back on the chimney on a regular basis and we have spotted the owl using the nest hole in the gite for roosting. Hopefully, the owl will now stay around and try to nest next spring. I just wish they could be a little less noisy at night. They can be a bit screechy and occasionally they sit on our roof and make a noise, still it is good news that they are back and interested in the nest.

The grass in our garden and orchard is beginning to improve and to return to a lush green colour. The grass had gone quite brown over the hot summer with its lack of rain. In recent weeks we have had a bit of rain and a heavy dew first thing in the morning. As a result, the grass has improved no end. Of course, the downside is that it still needs cutting. Although it is getting a bit colder so may be not too many more times.

The grass in our paddocks and in the field next to the gite has also started to grow. Our friend, Patrique had taken away the sheep to let it recover. Last weekend he was here with three ewes to stay with us for a while.

In the field Xavier had taken most of the cattle away at the beginning of September. Just leaving four cows as the grass was so poor. It has grown and now he has brought into the equation a great big bull. We suddenly noticed a fifth cow in the field and wondered where it had come from. We looked bit closer and realised it was a very large bull. He came over to introduce himself and made clear he was not to be messed with. He came up very close to our wire fence and out stared me as it was me who took a step backwards!


Our new neighbour

The hens continue to be manic and charge all over the garden. They have been helping Mrs. Parish dig over the vegetable garden and keep very close to her fork as they want to get the best worms and to grab them before one of the other hens gets there first. This is a dangerous game as on more than one occasion Mrs. Parish’s fork came close to skewering a chicken. Not content with garden fork dodging the hens then spotted that I was up a ladder cutting back a dead tree in the orchard. The hens arrived full tilt and proceeded to peck the ground all around my ladder. Now they were in danger of heavy branches falling on them or me tripping over them as I came down the ladder.



The hens also have an annoying habit of surrounding you and then pecking at your shoes or wellington boots. Risking tripping me up or me falling over as I adjust to avoid standing on a hen. Anyway, we must be doing something right as they continue to lay eggs and on average, we get at least three eggs per day. Much better than Daniel and Giselle’s whose hens came in the same batch but have not laid anything like as well. Giselle reckons that Daniel does not give them enough food and she has to chuck out some more hen food when Daniel is not looking.

As the evenings are getting darker and colder, the cats have invoked the Winter clause in their contract. This allows them an extra hour or so indoors before their supper at 9pm. Archie as the senior cat and shop steward ensures that the cats get their due and he is always the first at the window ready to come in. Petit is a bit more chaotic as he is not really used to the La Godefrere regime. In the evenings he is often too busy to arrive for food at the right time. In the week he was too busy climbing the owl perching tree to bother with his tea. He then of course demands his tea when he is ready.

The trail camera is now fully working and we are keeping an eye on what is about. We regularly see deer coming to the glade to look for food. In addition, there are often two hares that we see several times during the night. We see a fox and occasionally a badger. So far, we have had no sign of the wild boar either on film or any signs of boar damage. Hopefully, the boars will stay away.


Brock the badger

Bonne semaine
Graham

 

Au revoir, mon ami Emile et merci

November 6, 2018
It is with great sadness that I have to report that early this morning our dear friend Emile passed away, peacefully in his sleep after a short stay in hospital. He was cheerful and alert, with his customary good humour until the end.

In recent years Emile had had a triple heart bypass, then a pacemaker and finally a stent. In the end at the age of 86 his heart was worn out.

We first got to know Emile immediately after we bought our French house 6 years ago. I think it was the day after we had ...

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Brexit blues and bureaucracy; Hen harassment; Euro Mayenne meets El Barbie and we visit the giant cheese van

October 30, 2018

The weather has definitely turned a lot colder and we have had to light up the wood burner after a long run of fine weather. The air is now coming from the North and has brought heavy snow to the mountains of France. We have just got a cold strong wind which makes it very cold outside. With the change in wind and temperature we are also seeing a difference in the birds visiting the garden and the local area.

We have large numbers of greenfinches now coming to the bird feeders as well as sparro...

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The repas season opens; we hear of the accursed geese and read about the accursed kings of France

October 23, 2018
The village repas season has started and we had two to go to over the weekend. On Saturday we went to Oisseau, at their village hall. It was fantastic value. For 15 Euros we had an aperitif of Kir (white wine with blackcurrant liqueur) of which there was a second glass. For starters we had a chicken soup and then the main meal a quarter of a chicken in a white wine sauce, with rice. There were huge portions. Red wine was included in the price and on finishing a bottle another suddenly appeare...

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Birthday treats; the frightener of the bell tower; buzzards and deer; Renault Clio conundrums

October 15, 2018

It has been an unseasonal warm week here in France. Mrs. Parish and I have been working outside in tee shirts and could even have gone back to wearing shorts! The temperature has remained at a steady 18 degrees throughout the week. Of course, this doesn’t come without some negatives!

The warm weather has encouraged a whole load of flies to breed in the gite roof and we made the mistake of leaving the door open when we were cleaning up. The consequence has been a week-long battle with the fli...

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The Vauboreau slate quarries; eating out; the Oisseau fete communale; trail camera; tractor trapeze

October 9, 2018
The weather is a bit curious just at the moment. We thought that autumn had arrived as the weather turned cold and we even had some heavy rain. But over the weekend, yesterday and today we have had clear skies and full on sun. It was really hot today.

For much of the past week we have been helping our friends, Ian and Sarah with the job of removing the roof of their very large barn. The roof was in a poor state and the slates needed to be replaced. This meant stripping all the slates off one s...

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The swallows fly away; cold winds arrive; crazy people come and go almost taking Archie with them; the cats now rule and we get a new French car

October 2, 2018
It is now October and all the swallows have gone. Off on their long flight to Africa for the winter and a bit of sunshine. We will not now see them until the end of March. It is now definitely Autumn and the weather has turned much colder. All thought of wearing shorts and t shirts has been consigned to history. We have even had to put on the convector heater this evening.

We have a cold wind that has been blowing all day and even a bit of rain this afternoon. It seems an age ago to last week ...

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The hens take centre stage; football and the Flunch fiasco; France defeats the USA; the visit ends with near disaster and embarrassment!

September 25, 2018

Autumn has definitely arrived and the mornings have become much colder. We have been typically English and have stubbornly remained in shorts and t-shirts in the hope that this will keep the summer going. It seems doomed to failure. At least we had a bit of rain this week to bring some relief to the garden. It may be too late for some of Mrs. Parish’s plants. However, she is of the Stoic school of philosophy and is firmly of the view that next year will be a perfect year for the garden!

The ...

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Curse of the vampire midges; Autumn arrives; a visit to Giselle’s rural French house; the games continue

September 18, 2018

Many of my reports in this blog concern my ongoing battle with nature and the struggles to survive here in the wilds of rural France. Whether it be forests of viciously thorned brambles, hornets’ nests, apples that need picking off the floor or rampantly invasive moles, marauding wild boars. Nature manages to make life really difficult. It is not as if I have ever done anything to upset nature at least as far as I know. But it seems to have it in for me.

One area where I have managed to stay...

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The return of the hens; we lose our connection; we retain the trans-atlantic petanque trophy but are level at eating and drinking

September 11, 2018

A major event in the annals of La Godefrere. Hens have returned. When I say this, I don’t mean the three suffragette hens have returned from the grave. I mean we have new hens and this time we have four of them.


Our new hens

Near to us is a chicken business which keeps around 4,000 hens for egg laying purposes. They live in sheds but have a huge grassy area where they can roam free and feed up. They return to the shed in the evening and an automatic door comes down to keep them safe. Their gr...

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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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