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 quiet week of rain but no repas; the cats chill out and I get henpecked and what happened on December 10th?

December 11, 2018

It has been a quiet week here at La Godefrere. We have had lots of rain and some windy weather so it has been a mostly indoor week. It has also been quiet on the eating front as there have been no repas this week. Mrs. Parish reckoned that it was a good thing as we were beginning too forget how to cook!

The cats have been keen to get in and to chill out on the sofas. They all get on reasonably well now and are happy to share the sofa. They are all ready and waiting outside the front door, first thing in the morning at 7-30am. As soon as I open the door they burst in and start crying about how hungry they are as well as cold and wet. They then harass me until I serve their breakfast. After dessert of a small amount of milk, they settle down to a couple of hours sofa time. Then they are bribed to leave with some treats.


Three cats a-sleeping

They get tea at 4pm and so they are all sat by the window looking in for some time before. Archie starts the intimidation process at around 2-30. They are fed tea outside and are allowed back in in accordance with the contract at about 7-30pm for some more sofa time before supper at 9pm. They usually have a few biscuits unless we have any left overs from our dinner. They particularly like cottage pie and fish pie.

To give them left overs requires two people. One to serve the food and one to stop the cats. If you try on your own the cats attack mob handed and while you are trying to get one cat, another is stealing from the serving bowl. It is mayhem as the cats go a bit berserk when there is special supper. Once we have the food in the cat bowls, one of us opens the door while the other carries the bowls. The cats start eating before the bowl gets to the ground and it is finished in seconds.

The hens also tend to attack mob handed when I go out in the morning to fill up the bird feeders. They try to jump into the dustbin where I keep the wild bird food. Then they follow me down to the bird feeder, attempting to run in front of me and to try and trip me over and spill the seeds. If I put a feeder down to refill it, I immediately have four hens surrounding me.

The hens have also adopted a form of torture. For some reason they have taken to pecking at our shoes. This is especially so when we have wellington boots or rubber sandals. It is really disconcerting and incredibly annoying. Some times you don’t see them coming at just suddenly notice something tapping on your boots. 


Chicken pecking torture

At times there are all four of them all tapping. It is like some form of Chinese water torture. I end up swearing at the hens. Kicking them doesn’t work and the only remedy is to run away. It is no doubt further amusement for our French neighbours to watch me running around the orchard being chased by four hens!

And talking of mob handed the cows have also taken against me and have this worrying habit of running up to the fence next to me and forming a phalanx of cattle looking over the fence, usually with the bull in the middle. They put on their aggressive faces and manage to look quite menacing. They are quite a lively bunch and after a while of staring at me they all turn tail and run off down the field. 


A phalanx of cattle

As it has been such a quiet week, I thought I would return to one of my favourite subjects, history. I wondered if anything exciting happened on 10th December (as you do). So, this is what happened on December 10 in 1792, three years after the French Revolution. It was the opening of the trial of Louis XVI, (still King of France) before the National Convention (the French Parliament).

Louis was indicted on 33 charges based upon the following – “the French Nation accuses you of having committed a multitude of crimes to establish your tyranny, in destroying her freedom”. 

The following day Louis XVI was brought before the Convention to respond to the charges. He then appeared in person on the 26th to make his defence, presented by his lawyer, Raymond Desèze (Raymond comte de Sèze).

On December 27–28 there were motions in the Convention asking that the vote on judging the King should be subject of a peoples vote by the French electors. The motion was opposed by Robespierre, who argued that "Louis must die so that the nation may live." The Convention rejected the motion for French voters to decide the King's fate. It at least spared them from the Brexit scenario!

In January the Convention declared Louis XVI (now called Louis Capet) guilty of conspiracy against public liberty by a vote of 707 to nil. How Mrs. May must wish for such a decisive Parliament! There followed on January 17 a vote which went on for twenty-one hours, 361 deputies voted for the death penalty, and 360 against (including 26 for a death penalty followed by a pardon). A single vote which changed French history. The Convention rejected a final appeal to the people.

On January 21 1793 Louis XVI was beheaded by the guillotine at 10:22 on Place de la Révolution (Now the Place de la Concorde). The commander of the execution, Antoine Joseph Santerre, ordered a drum roll to drown out his final words to the crowd. There are differing accounts of his final words (not surprising given the drums beating) but it was along these lines “"Gentlemen, I am innocent of everything of which I am accused. I hope that my blood may cement the good fortune of the French." Not terribly original or inspiring but there it is!

It did not signify the good fortune of the French as “the terror” followed and saw 12 months of bloodshed as the revolution began to devour itself. Between June 1793 and the end of July 1794, there were 16,594 official death sentences in France, of which 2,639 were in Paris and revolution leaders including Danton and Desmoulins went the guillotine before it became the turn of Robespierre himself.

Robespierre had said to the Convention “Terror is nothing more than speedy, severe and inflexible justice; it is thus an emanation of virtue; it is less a principle in itself, than a consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing needs of the Country”. So, he really got what he deserved in the end! If only the same would apply to Boris Johnson!

After that on a lighter note I need to prepare for tonight’s French lesson. We are due to have a discussion in French about Christmas and all things Christmassy. I have done some homework on the necessary vocabulary and need to refresh my memory. Mrs. Parish has made a cake for me to take with me. It has become the barter for French lessons and we also find that learning and eating cake is a good mixture.

Bonne semaine
Graham

 

Yves and the “Soiree Dansante”, the band played on; Petit becomes not so petit and we encounter a “talkie walkie”

December 4, 2018

Saturday evening saw the latest Repas. This time the venue was at the Salle des fetes in the nearby town of Ambrieres. The meal was organised by the “Comite des fetes” of the small village of Lesbois, which is near to Gorron. Lesbois is too small to have a decent size village hall and so they used the one at Ambrieres which can take the numbers who want to attend.

The Lesbois repas is always well attended as it is a “Soiree Dansante” (an evening of dancing). There is also live music by...

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I get through the big weekend; hens and the pecking order; les gilets jaune and the old rugged cross

November 27, 2018

Well, I managed to survive nearly a week on my own. The cats and the hens came through with no damage from a period under my supervision. Mrs. Parish has returned and all is back to something like normal here at La Godefrere. Mrs. Parish arrived back home late on Wednesday evening with a car laden with Christmas presents. So, a successful trip all round. The cats of course came out from their palace to greet her. I rather think that they could see the prospect of additional supper. 

While we w...

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The pressures of command as I am left in charge, the hens try to escape and we have a week of big boys and little deers

November 20, 2018
For almost the past week I have been in charge here at La Godefrere as Mrs. Parish has gone to England with a car load of French produce. I like to describe it as a humanitarian mission to take comfort and cheer for those poor Brits having to put up with Brexit. Mrs. Parish had a car full of 10 boxes of wine for the immediate family as well as presents for Christmas. The car was full. Thankfully our new French car has lots of room in the boot.

So, I have been fending for myself. Well, for some...

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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...

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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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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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