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.

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 arrived with a specialised cutting machine and an army of about five huge tractors and trailers all of which came down our narrow lane and in between our barn and Giselle’s house next door. There was barely enough room to get the trailer through and as a result there was the inevitable accident.

One of the tractor/trailers hit the guttering on the corner of Giselle’s house and bent it completely out of shape. Unfortunately, the driver did not notice and it was Daniel who spotted the damage after the tractors had all gone. This resulted in a lane meeting of the occupants of the hamlet to inspect the damage and naturally to discuss it at great length. So, there was Giselle and Daniel; myself and Mrs. Parish and our close neighbours Lis and John (we also had some English friends around for the evening and they came to look as well). 

Giselle was very angry at the damage and because no-one had owned up. Xavier had also run over some of Giselle’s plants and so the air was full of loud French and English voices with lots of swearing and shrugging of shoulders and waving of arms. Then we all went and had a drink at our house to make up for the upset. Xavier was informed and duly arrived the next morning to apologise and over coffee agreed to put things right! All is calm once again.

The actual cutting of the maize is an amazing sight with the cutting machine ploughing through the maize and shooting the cut remains into the trailers pulled alongside the machine by the tractor drivers. As soon as one is full the next tractor pulls into receive the maize. And so it goes on continuously until all the maize is cut. It is all for winter cattle feed and the tractors take the maize to a farmyard where there are great mountains of maize covered eventually with black plastic sheeting held down with huge great tractor tyres.


Dance of the maize!

There is a lot of bird activity at the moment as the summer visitors all disappear and the winter stayers are all looking for feeding opportunities and roosting sites. We have quite a few starlings who roost in the gite roof and the roofs of the barns. Just below the starling roost is our dead cherry tree, preserved as a bird perching tree. Used all summer by the little owls and occasionally now by a kestrel. In the week a Great Spotted Woodpecker arrived and decided that there was some food to be had and so started pecking madly at the tree. It is a wonder that they don’t get terrible headaches! They also make a lot of noise and this clearly woke up the starlings who took exception to the woodpecker and about half a dozen starlings arrived at the tree to try to frighten off the woodpecker. However, with a beak that is pointed and tough, woodpeckers don’t scare easily and for a while there was a standoff before the woodpecker moved on.

Woodpecker and starling stand off

The chickens have been given a new job by Mrs. Parish. She has signed them up as apprentices to help with digging over the vegetable garden (potager). Having spent all spring and summer keeping them out she has now let them in to help dig over the soil. The hens are very good at raking the soil with their claws as they look for worms and insects. They seemed to be doing quite a good job. The hens are moulting their feathers at the moment so don’t seem quite so ready to fly over the gate to escape. I am keeping a close eye on them as I don’t fully trust them and this may just be lulling tactics.


Potager poules and Mrs. Parish

The potager has maintained a good level of production this year and we are still eating raspberries. There are plenty of potatoes and other veg. Mrs. Parish has also been growing pumpkins (citrouilles in French). In part this has been to provide pumpkins to an organisation we belong to “Euro Mayenne”. They are responsible for welcoming Europeans who come to settle in Mayenne. They have an annual fair at the end of the month and want loads of pumpkins to decorate the hall. So, Mrs. Parish likes a challenge and has grown half a dozen. The advantage is that we get them back after and can make pumpkin soup. A great favourite in France.


Mrs. Parish's pumpkins

Despite the late summer weather, we have been thinking about the winter which is just around the corner! I may have mentioned the “Foire aux Vins” and the fact that I now have a fully stocked wine cellar. We also have a full wood shed with logs for our wood burner and while we are reluctant to start burning quite yet we do have a good supply to last us through the winter. This week we also managed to fill our freezer with a consignment of beef from our farmer friend Olivier. We already have a supply of pork and the previous week, half a lamb. Now we have the beef, essential for a lovely “Pot au Feu”. A slow cooked beef stew and for boeuf bourguignon as well as a few steaks and joints to roast.

So, we have food, heat and wine so bring on the winter. There seem to be lots of acorns around this year and someone said that this portends a cold winter. We shall see but whatever the weather we will be warm and well provisioned.

Talking of being well provisioned our neighbours Lis and John go back to the UK tomorrow and John has visited the “Foire aux Vins” and has a car full. Luckily, he has too many bottles to take home and so he has invited us round this evening to help him tidy up his wine and whisky shelves. We are always ready to help our neighbours in their hour of need!

Bon Dimanche
Graham

 

Backgammon from the brink; the delights of rural France; strange things in Super U car park; bizarre shopping and we ignore strays and buy a big bird!

October 8, 2017
I left last week’s blog on a gloomy note with me facing an ignominious defeat in the backgammon tournament with friends from the UK, Alan and Debi. In a three-day round robin tournament, I was ending last Sunday at the bottom of the table, or so it seemed but in a late-night drama I clawed back points with a sensational victory against Alan. His luck seemed to have deserted him. I put this down to a planned visit to the pilgrimage site at nearby Pontmain and a tour round the basilica. This ...

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October arrives and we have a full cave; visitors arrive for the Michelin experience; the hunt arrives in force and we have a biker cat!

October 1, 2017
We have visitors and are therefore busy eating and drinking, so it will be a fairly brief blog this week.

It is the first of October and autumn marches on. The last of the swallows have now departed and flown South along with their following hobbies. They will be back in late March next year. Earlier in the week we had lots of sun but it has now turned to a rainy weekend. 

Here at La Godefrere we are getting ready for the colder weather and the winter. Our wood store is full of wood and we have...

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It’s all a bit autumnal; Course des canards in Mayenne; an apple presser, par excellence; and garden art

September 24, 2017

Friday 22nd September saw the official start of Autumn in France. We have noticed that the weather has become very autumnal. The mornings have become quite misty and the temperature a little chilly, at times almost frosty and certainly the grass is very wet. The evenings are closing in and it is getting darker earlier and it is a little colder.

The good side is that we have had some lovely bright, sunny autumn days and we have been tempted to get the shorts out once again. Autumn brings change...

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“Yond Emmeline has a lean and hungry look”; “a cat of a different coat”; the weather is wet so somehow tidying up becomes attractive!

September 17, 2017

The hens are up to something! Every morning this week, just after they have been let out of the hen house, they have been seen in a conspiratorial huddle in the courtyard. Normally they go for likely food options, usually they head for the bird feeders. This morning their huddle became just a bit more sinister as it was misty.

It could be because they are moulting and losing feathers at a rate. Emmeline has not been flying over gates in the past week. So, it may be that idle wings make the dev...

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The girl who strimmed the hornets’ nest; A bird on a wire; August in France and amazing maize

September 10, 2017
Sunday has come around once again and looking back at the week it has been mostly rainy and starting now to get chilly. Proper autumnal and it is time to say goodbye to the tee shirt and shorts that have been de rigeur throughout the summer.

We did have a lively start to the week when we were doing some tidying up work along the nature trail here at La Godefrere. Mrs. Parish is in charge of the strimmer and was togged up with all her gear, including helmet and ear defenders and a face guard re...

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A bit autumnal as we move into September; we have hen saboteurs; a hen surprise; the cats settle in and we meet a slippery customer.+

September 3, 2017

So, we have arrived in September! Where did the summer go? It has turned a bit autumnal here at La Godefrere. After some very hot days the weather has returned to what is a bit more normal. It is now a bit chilly first thing in the morning and the nights are drawing in as it is now starting to get dark at around 9pm. At least one advantage of this is that the chickens go to bed before us! The hens tend to return to the hen house as it gets dark and then Mrs. Parish goes down and shuts them up...

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La Godefrere on tour; forest encounters; Chateaux formidable; meals “gastronomique”; toilets bizarre and I get bitten

August 28, 2017
This past week has been one of anniversaries. It has been 5 years since we arrived to live in France and it is 45 years since Mrs. Parish and I got married. We never imagined in 1972 that one day we would be living in France. So, to celebrate these two anniversaries we decided to have a few days away on a little holiday. Luckily my daughter Jo was here with some friends and they looked after the cats and chickens.

We decided to stay near Chartres which is only a few miles from Paris. This fact...

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Peace and calm return to La Godefrere; Ice cream calva; the amazing cardboard man and sheep sagas

August 20, 2017
All is calm once again here at La Godefrere after a challenging week. This morning Mrs. Parish and I took mother in law back to Rennes airport to catch the plane back to Exeter. She had been with us for a week, although at times it seemed longer! My brother in law John had accompanied her.

Mother in law is going well for a woman of 86 and she can certainly eat and drink! She polished off a full menu of food and even did justice to a full-on French meal at our favourite restaurant, La Marjolain...

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The strange world of firewood including steres and cords; Lord of the flies, the resurrection flies of Mayenne;

August 14, 2017
It is a bit fraught here at La Godefrere as we are experiencing a visit from my dear mother in law. She is now well into her 80’s and can be a disruption to the normal routines here. Hence the blog is a day late as we had to drive down to Rennes airport yesterday to collect her and my brother in law, John.

Like most mother in laws she abhors a vacuum and so tends to fill any space by talking. The 90-minute drive back from the airport was therefore challenging as there was no escape! When we ...

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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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