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.

There is a near catastrophe; we have a “mechant taureau”; I tell Daniel my French joke; and we discover a chicken on the roof!

April 23, 2018

It has been a fantastic week of lovely clear skies, full on sunshine and really warm temperatures. It has almost been like summer. We were worried that only one swallow had been seen so it could not be summer properly. But by the end of the week two more swallows had arrived. Anyway, we were even able to get our shorts on (for me never before May but it was so hot it had to be done).

We were able to sit out in the garden, although it got so hot we had to find some shade. The good weather meant we were able to get out and do some outdoor jobs and get the grass cut. My keenness to cut the grass created the dramatic backdrop to the near catastrophe.

A Cat (astrophe) Petit falls asleep waiting for the Blue Tit to return!

As part of our lovely grounds we have a large hay field accessed through the bottom of the orchard. We have created a nature trail that goes right around the hay field. The field slopes down to a small winter stream and the path goes along beside the stream, through trees and open spaces. The stream is still flowing well as a result of all the rain we have had since Christmas. This has left some low-lying areas of the path as very wet and boggy. At the moment it is impossible to cut the grass in those spots with the tractor mower.

On Thursday it was a really nice day and so I decided that I would cut the grass on the nature trail path. As I was getting the tractor ready Mrs. Parish called to me saying “Be careful and avoid the boggy bits of the path”. I replied “yes, of course” and away I went singing some Bob Dylan songs to frighten off any moles that may be contemplating coming back to the garden.

I cut the path around the hay field and then went along the bottom next to the stream making sure I kept well clear of the boggy bits. I was just coming through the open area where we have the trail camera when I spotted a bit of grass that I had not cut and so spun the tractor around to catch the spot. Unfortunately, I turned the tractor too quickly and skidded onto a small slope and despite hitting the brakes the tractor just slid away down the slope and came to rest against a tree.

I jumped off to check if hitting the tree had caused any damage and was relieved to find everything intact. I got back on the tractor and tried to reverse back up the slope. But the tractor would not move the back wheels just spun around. I tried everything even pushing it but it would not shift at all. 

I was left with no alternative but to report back to Mrs. Parish and was met with some very colourful language of which imbecile is probably the only one I can repeat. I maintained my “it wasn’t my fault” defence but to no avail. Then armed with bits of wood, some hessian sacking and a door mat we returned to the scene. After trying all these aids, the tractor was not moving and the wheels were digging into the wet and now muddy slope. We were just about to give up and call for international rescue (my friend Ian) when I had a last idea. If Mrs. Parish took control of the tractor and I put all my weight on the back wheel we may get some traction.

It worked and back up the slope we came. I said to Mrs. Parish that it all came back to me, remembering watching motorbike and sidecars hill climb racing on BBC Grandstand on a Saturday afternoon in my youth. You see I said to Mrs. Parish all those hours watching TV pay off in the end. Her response has been censored!

I thought the bull in Xavier’s field behind our gite had a mean look but it is now official that he is a mechant taureau (a bull gone bad). We met Xavier’s mother Therese in the lane this morning when she was going to check the effectiveness of the electric fence. She told us that the bull had chased Xavier and that he had to run fast and jump over a barbed wire fence to get away from him. Therese reckoned that something was upsetting him and causing him to be aggressive. We said we had heard him over the past few days bellowing and grumbling, probably at another bull in a nearby field.

When good bulls go bad - Le mechant Taureau

I always thought he had a mean streak as he often gave me a hard stare across the fence. Fortunately, between us and the cattle field there is a barbed wire fence as well as the electric fence but I shall be keeping a careful eye on Monsieur Taureau in future!

This week I decided to try out my improving language skills by telling my neighbour Daniel a French joke (in French un blague). Daniel is forever telling jokes most of which involve some sort of wordplay or double meaning. The French seem to find these jokes very funny. Even when I can understand Daniel, I am not sure that the joke is that funny. I came across a joke in a French magazine in the word play style so I decided to have a go with Daniel and Giselle. The joke goes like this.

J’ai divorce dans le Sud de France (I was divorced in the South of France). Maintenant J’ai un Ex en Provence (Now I have an ex in Provence). The joke being that Aix en Provence is a town in the South of France. You see the wordplay and double meaning. Not riotously funny but amusing. Daniel and Giselle thought it a great blague and laughed a lot. I think they enjoyed the joke and were not just being kind to me!

A couple of days ago I was out in the courtyard when I heard the sound of a chicken. I looked around to see which of our hens was making the noise and then realised the sound was coming from the roof of the barn where we have the cat palace. I thought “there can’t be a chicken on the roof”, it is not possible even for our bolshie hens. I eventually tracked the chicken noise to a starling sat on the roof. This must be the mimic starling who can do a buzzard call and imitate the little owl. It is very confusing as the starling is very good and its impressions are quite accurate and convincing!

The little owls seem to be doing well and are often seen sitting on the TV aerial and out hunting in the garden in the evening. They also shout a lot, mostly at our cats and occasionally dive bomb them. They probably have some eggs in the nest and we may hear the sound of little, little owls very soon.

Little owl on TV aerial

So, all is well here at La Godefrere. My son and daughter in law with two friends arrive next Saturday for a week staying in our gite. It promises to be great fun and we already have plans for a great lamb feast when they arrive with the leg of lamb from last year. The visit will involve a lot of eating and drinking and it may result in some disruption to the writing of the blog. Hopefully it will be ready for next Monday. I must get in some practice so I had better have a glass of wine.

Bonne semaine


More signs of Spring as we hear the Hoopoe; lambs arrive in our paddock; the garden furniture is oiled and we win a giant TV!

April 16, 2018
I was beginning to worry about this week’s blog. No technological problems but we were invited round to Giselle and Daniel’s house for a coffee. Being invited for a coffee by the French can be a bit of a lottery as you cannot be sure what you will get. It is also an invitation that cannot be refused unless there is a death in the family! Anyway, we duly arrived to be welcomed with kisses as usual and then the wine glasses appeared, so not a quick coffee!

A bottle of a sweet white wine appe...

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We meet a virtual assistant; Spring has finally arrived; the swallows have turned up; birds appear at the window; the grass gets cut and we learn some rude French words!

April 11, 2018

The blog is a few days late. My apologies but I have been faced with technological problems. The Microsoft Word that I use to type in the blog suddenly decided to be difficult. I had a message come up telling me there was an error which meant that word would have to close down. The message then helpfully offered to repair the problem. All I had to was click on an icon which said “repair.”

So, I optimistically clicked on the repair icon and I could access my word document. However, after ty...

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Spring delayed and its indoor play at La Godefrere; the cats go crazy and things to do on a wet bank holiday afternoon

April 2, 2018

Last week I was full of excitement about the arrival of Spring, the prospect of swallows and how lovely La Godefrere was looking. I had thought to go out with my camera and take lots of pictures to grace this week’s blog. It turns out to have been a thoroughly miserable week. It has got a lot colder and we have also had lots of rain. So, no chance to get out with the camera.

The swallows must have taken fright and stayed in the warm South of France. The bramblings I thought had gone are back...

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Cats galore this week as Petit seems to have completely settled in and we then see cats in black and white; a French madness descends

March 26, 2018
After last week’s cat free offering it was inevitable that the cats would hit back and force themselves back into the limelight. Petit appears to have fully settled into his new home and the other two have accepted the fact that the new one is here to stay and so they had better reconcile him to the regime and show him a few tricks.

The first rule seems to be that cats come first and so as soon they are let in to the house for an evening warm up they head for a comfy spot to warm up and have...

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This week a cat free zone and birds take centre stage as we get back to routine and the gite is ready for the new season

March 19, 2018
After a few weeks of excitement with new animals arriving and visitors forcing us to go out for restaurant meals and Emile and Yvette tempting us to village repas we finally get back to what serves as normal here in rural France.

As I finished the blog last week I had just had a visit from Emile and Yvette to sort out arrangements for a meal to celebrate both Yvette’s and my birthday. Yvette’s is on the 10th March and mine on the 11th. We had arranged to go to Brece on 13th but for a varie...

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This week, we have a duck feast; buy a 10-year-old coat; become a CDE (Cat Dominated Environment); experience air wars and the ants awaken!

March 12, 2018

I am pleased to report that there were no duck related incidents and accordingly the duck was successfully defrosted, prepared, cooked and delivered to table without any disasters. The duck was huge, weighing in at 3.5 kilos and Mrs. Parish had some problems squeezing it into the roasting pan but it went into the oven eventually. Mrs. Parish can be quite forceful!

Mrs. Parish had never roasted a whole duck before and needed some information so used the internet to take some advice and find a r...

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The long and complicated tale of Monsieur Petit; Little Owl goes a-courting; the boars now make 5 and we prepare a duck feast.

March 5, 2018
So, the cat has decided that we are OK and that maybe he will adopt us after a successful two-week trial period. It did however get quite complicated at times. When new cat first arrived, we put an announcement on Facebook and in the local bar that we had found this stray. After a few days we were contacted by an English couple who own a property about half a mile away across the fields at the bottom of our big field.

Apparently, they had found a small kitten in October last year and they thou...

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A week of shocks, the cat has a sex change; I have a mouse nibbling my fat balls and we have a large visitation during the night.

February 26, 2018
The more astute amongst my readers will have noticed that the writing of the blog has moved from Sunday to Monday. This is mainly to do with Sundays now being very busy. It is normally the day when I have my French lessons and this takes up 2 to 3 hours of intensive study, we are a small group of 4 and get very excited about this terms story book which we have to read out loud and then translate. The book is one of a series about Ratus the green rat and his chums Marou and Mina who are cats. ...

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A tornado hits La Godefrere (a small and furry one); we have a stressed Moggie and Archie keeps a stiff upper lip; and we visit Gourmand Bagnoles

February 19, 2018

There we were, Mrs. Parish and I, relaxing and thinking we had got this living in France all sorted. The weather had improved and we had some nice sunny days and we were able to get out and do some tidying up jobs in the garden, some fence replacing and rehanging of gates and coppicing of some of our trees. Mrs. Parish tells me that I was mistaken last week and that it was hazel that we use for bean poles and not hawthorn as I reported. They both begin with H I say, but Mrs. Parish gives one ...

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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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