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.

Four Christmas treats; three French hens; two outside cats and little owl in a dead tree; Christmas greetings from all at La Godefrere

December 17, 2017
Today it is not raining and Mrs. Parish and I are awaiting the arrival of our son, Ian and daughter in law, Emma so we can officially start Christmas. Of course, arriving with them will be two dogs. The famous three-legged Keeshond called Tommo and the Romanian orphan dog that is Kiki. I sometimes wonder why nothing seems ever ordinary about the animals in my life. The arrival of two dogs will not be welcomed by our cats who will see this as an intrusion and a restriction on their contractual rights to time indoors.

Our Christmas so far has been one of indulgent treats and we started on Friday with a Christmas meal at one of our favourite village restaurants, Le Briccius at Brece. This is one of the restaurants that provides cheap but excellent meals for a fixed price. Normally their three-course lunch (plus wine or cider and coffee) costs 12.50 Euros. On Friday we went for a special Christmas menu and had to book. The meals are so popular that there were two sittings. One at 12 noon and one at 1-30pm. Together with some of our English friends we decided to treat our good friends, Emile and Yvette in appreciation of all they do for us (cider and Calvados particularly).

The Christmas menu was 17 Euros and for that we had a superb menu cooked by the patron, Benoit who is an exceptional chef. We started with a kir (in fact we had all started at 12-30 round at Emile’s for an aperitif of his home made Pommeau (a mixture of apple juice and calvados).

The choice of starter was 

Terrine de gibier maison et sa compote d’oignons au Beaujolais or Brioche de chapon et truffe francaise (Home-made game terrine and onion compote with Beaujolais or brioche of capon and French truffle)!!

The main meal was 

Pave de veau sauce morilles, blinic de pomme de terre et sa poelee forestiere aux marrons or Saute de sanglier, sauce grand veneur aux cranberries, gratin legumes a l’emmental et sa pomme fruit au calvados (Pave of veal with morel mushrooms, blini of potato and fried forest chestnut or saute of wild boar, hunters sauce with cranberries, gratin vegetables with emmental and an apple with calvados)

Cheese

For dessert

Crème brulee a la bandiane et son speculoos or Feuilletee pailletine praline choclat et sa crème anglaise au café torrefie et marbre au chocolat (Crème brulee with star anise and a and a spiced shortcake biscuit or layered praline chocolate and custard with roast coffee and chocolate marble.)

Coffee and an orange to finish and to accompany the meal red or white wine or cider!

I had the brioche followed by the wild boar and the chocolat combination. It was a fantastic meal and incredibly good value for money. 4 courses with wine and coffee and all for 17 Euros. Around £15!!! It is also such a great atmosphere with the restaurant full with people from all walks of life together enjoying the food.

After the meal we all went back to Emile’s for another coffee but this time with some of his calvados. A great way to spend a day. Mrs Parish and I returned home late in the afternoon and spent the evening sleeping in front of a lovely log fire.

That was just the first of our treats! One of the great benefits of living in rural France is that if you make an effort and can speak some French it is easy to get to know local people and local farmers. Through our friends Sarah and Ian, we have got to know a French farmer Olivier, his wife Valerie and their children Remy and Marie. Olivier is a dairy farmer and also raises other animals and birds. Most of which he sells to big companies who process the food and sell to supermarkets etc. However, Olivier also sells some direct to customers he knows and we have a freezer full of beef, pork, veal and lamb that have come direct to us. 

This also has advantages at Christmas as we get offered special treats and usually get some cream. This year we have also been offered a duck and a capon. This seemed to be too good to decline and so we have both. Fortunately, the birds come fully plucked and drawn! Sarah acts as the organiser and we keep getting calls with the latest special offers. It is good for us but helps Olivier’s cash flow.

A couple of days ago we had a call from Sarah with the question “would you like some foie gras” as Valerie is making some and has a couple of jars spare. So now we have a jar of foie gras in our fridge and our menu for our first Christmas starts off with this and then we will have to decide on whether to have duck or capon for Christmas dinner this week. Of course, we could always have a leg of lamb. Patrique, who grazes his sheep in our paddock has just asked if we want our leg of lamb (rental payment) for Christmas!

We have ordered a chocolate log from our local bakery in Ambrieres (luckily our baker is also a chocolatier). There is still a full wine cave with plenty of bottles left over from the foire aux vins so we will be able to accompany whatever is our choice with some fine wine. And to finish we have a choice of Emile’s calvados or some very nice malt whisky.

The cats have just come in to prepare for their tea and a bit of in time. We have had to rescue a batch of sausage rolls from Archie who thought his Christmas had arrived early! No doubt there will be some scraps left over from our Christmas dinner as compensation for putting up with dogs!

Talking of which our guests will soon be here and so I had better get organised. I have already made a fish pie (one of my few specialities) for this evening but will need to go and select some wine to go with it. Once I have fed the cats.

The three French hens are all looking relieved that we have bought in our festive meat as Christmas is a nervous time for them. They seem to be back to laying eggs regularly to make sure we know that they are egg layers and not for cooking! The little owl is sat on his aerial and seems quite relaxed about Christmas.


Three French Hens


Two outside cats


And a Little Owl in a dead tree

So, Christmas has started here at La Godefrere. There will not be a blog next week due to the fact that we will be too busy eating and drinking. The blog will resume on New Year’s Day. No doubt there will be lots to report on the crazy world here at La Godefrere.

From all of us here at La Godefrere 

Have a very merry Christmas

Bonnes fetes de fin d’annee
Graham

 

Le jour quand la musique est morte, en France; Madame Meteo does the weather in style; Ambrieres has its Christmas market

December 10, 2017

The whole of France has been in mourning this week after the death on Tuesday night of its most famous rock star, Johnny Hallyday. For the past three nights the news has been devoted to stories about him and his life.


Johnny Hallyday

He was born to a Belgian father in Paris as Jean-Philippe Léo Smet (15 June 1943 – 6 December 2017). He was better known by his stage name Johnny Hallyday which he took from a cousin-in-law from Oklahoma who performed as Lee Halliday. The latter called Smet "Joh...

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Snow and the hens go crazy; the cats turn the screw; the tale of the sheep whisperer and I meet the subjunctive and turn to whisky

December 3, 2017
This week the weather has turned distinctly colder and on Friday we had a light fall of snow. Enough to cover the grass in the orchard. The wind chill factor meant it felt a good deal colder and we immediately lit the wood burner after breakfast. Up until then we had been able to wait until the afternoon.

The arrival of snow caused the hens to go a bit crazy. Usually Mrs. Parish is expected to open up the hens’ house at first light and the hens burst out and start their quest for food. They ...

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I survive a week alone; can I survive conjugation of French verbs? We have rubbish cats; Archie has a “rhume” and it is “Soiree dansante” time

November 27, 2017

Well, all is now well with the world as Mrs. Parish has returned from her visit to the UK. I managed to survive the week and keep the cats and the hens in order. The hens have now started laying again and I think the prospect of the change back to proper management has encouraged them. I have to thank my good friends Ian and Sarah who fed me for a week. Well actually it was Sarah who did the cooking but Ian kindly offered the late-night taxi service to get me home after dinner.

The cats were ...

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Home alone and I meet up with old friends and new friends here at La Godefrere and encounter the mystery of the hens that won’t lay

November 19, 2017
 
Well, here I am on a Sunday afternoon and I find myself in charge at La Godefere as Mrs. Parish has gone to Britain to visit her mother and other members of the family. Mrs. Parish left on Thursday evening with a car laden down with 60 bottles of French wine and an array of Christmas gifts for the family. She will be away for a week and returns on Thursday morning.

When I say that I am in charge that depends upon whose view you take. The cats clearly believe that they are in charge and consta...

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All quiet on the western front, we join the French on Remembrance Day; the cats take the moral high ground and we are loyal eaters at the Lion d’or

November 12, 2017
Yesterday was Armistice Day in France. Unlike Britain, France marks the remembrance of its war dead by a public holiday. So, the remembrance ceremony always takes place on 11th November.

But this is France and they have their own way of doing things as I have often pointed out. In each of the 36,681 Communes in France there is a ceremony conducted by the local Mayor and representatives of veterans’ organisations. In each commune there is the same message from the President which is read out ...

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Where the wild things are. Autumn Watch comes to La Godefrere and we are amazed at the results!

November 5, 2017
The weather has changed again and this week the fine weather turned colder and wetter as the wind came from north. The north wind brought new arrivals and we had our first flock of fieldfares arrive in the garden to feast on the fallen poire pears at the bottom of the orchard. In fact, after a quiet few months there is now great activity on all our bird feeders.

There seem to be greenfinches everywhere in the garden and particularly at our bird feeder tree where the black sunflower seeds are v...

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End of the season; New neighbours arrive; the cats have time on their hands; the hens too; we approach Toussaints and hear of a wine shortage!!.

October 29, 2017

For us, this is the end of the gite season as we close up the gite for the winter. Our last booking left on Friday and with the advent of colder weather we won’t take any more bookings. While the gite is very cosy it has no central heating and it can get quite nippy at this time of year. We only have electric convector heaters and these are OK, but to a point and of course it adds to the cost. 

We are happy to let the gite from February to the beginning of November and this year we have had ...

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The cats settle in for a quiet week; we have a double repas weekend; the adventures of Tintin and the student of French

October 22, 2017
It has been a bit of a quiet week with intermittent weather, which has gone from cold and rainy to warm and sunny, with blustery conditions as we catch the end of storm Brian. It is difficult to take seriously a storm called Brian. Monty Python might say: “It’s not a storm, it is just a naughty wind!” It is clearly a very British storm and therefore we continentals can safely ignore it and by the time it reaches us, it will in the spirit of Brexit have faded away.

The cats, however, take...

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The dance of the maize harvest; Woody wakes the starlings; potager poules and pumpkin pie and we are ready for winter!

October 15, 2017
This week we had a respite from the autumn with the tail of hurricane Ophelia bringing bright sunny days and plenty of warmth. Yesterday Mrs. Parish reverted to her shorts and we were able to sit out in the garden until quite late. A glass of wine tastes so much better sat in a sunny garden and of course we also get a beautiful sunset.

This week, our farmer neighbour, Xavier came to cut his maize field which is at the bottom of our lane and we have a view from behind the gite of the field. He ...

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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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