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.

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 Marjolaine.  As I said in last week’s blog my mother in law likes to talk and consequently she doesn’t always listen and hence, problems arise. As last week’s question about my dead mother’s health showed!

This week she decided that our young male cat, Moggie was in fact a female and despite diplomatic attempts to correct her she was still saying she and her at the end of the week, and I had given up correcting her. Poor Moggie was quite confused but did use the attention to his advantage by grabbing bed space with MIL in the mornings.

On another occasion, the family who have been staying in the gite kindly offered us some cake the mum had made to bring on holiday. It was a porter cake made to an Irish recipe using Guinness to soak the fruit. Well, cake is always welcome in our house and so I gratefully accepted 4 large slices of cake and brought them back with the story of the cake’s origin. A few minutes later MIL suddenly says “So, the family in the gite are Irish, are they?” I explain that the cake is Irish but the family are very much English. Later MIL asked, “where in Ireland are they from?” I reached for the wine and I chanced my arm by explaining that the fact we were drinking French wine did not make us French. Mrs. Parish gave me a hard stare!

We went to La Marjolaine for lunch with our good friends Ian and Sarah who had with them Ian’s sister and brother in law. At the end of the meal we were all chatting generally and in a lull in conversation, Ian, who has a tendency to put his foot in it, said to MIL, “You look very well for a woman in her nineties.” A stony silence followed. Ian, realising he had made a faux pas, turned to me and made matters worse by saying to me “You told me she was 96!” It did have the effect of temporarily silencing MIL!

Still, she had a great time on her holiday and now Mrs. Parish and I are relaxed once again. However, there is now a great big hole where my wines were stored and I am going to have to restock! I did remark to Mrs. Parish on the way back from the airport, that I reckoned that Edvard Munch must have painted the scream during a long visit from his mother in law!

The scream by Edvard Munch, painted during a visit from his mother in law!

On Tuesday, which was a public holiday in France, we went to the nearby village of St. Fraimbault where they were holding their annual festival “Les flories d’antan” which is a festival of rural traditions. It is a great day out and there are street stalls selling local produce and crafts. In the afternoon, there are demonstrations of rural crafts and machinery showing how they harvested wheat and straw using steam driven machines. They also have a parade of vintage cars.

Of course, because we live in France, food forms an important part of any event. So, we had saucisse frites (sausage and chips) for lunch and then mid-afternoon we went to the ice cream stall for a little top up in the sustenance. I discovered to my great delight that they had calvados flavoured ice cream. Wow, what a great idea.

While at the festival we went into a quite remarkable exhibition, which we almost missed. While walking past a young French woman asked if we had seen the exhibition of models made by her father. No, we had not and so we went in. The young lady explained that the models were made by her father and all made from recycled cardboard. Her father was a retired stone mason and had made them all by hand. Well, we went inside and were completely bowled over by the sheer number of models and the incredible accuracy of their construction. 

Part of the collection of cardboard models

Cardboard models part 2

At first, we could not believe that they were made only from cardboard with a few small bits of wood. They looked like metal dinky models. Not only were they accurate models but also animated so the combine harvester blades went around, the saw mill operated with the saw working, windmills turned. It was absolutely incredible and all made by an unassuming, elderly Frenchman sat in his overalls. There were models of whole farms, saw mills, stone quarries etc.  The photographs I took show only a small part of the collection and doesn’t really do justice to the skilled craftsmanship on display.

As an end to the week I have to report on some ongoing sheep sagas. In the week Patrique brought round 4 new sheep to stay in our paddocks. This time it was three ewes and a ram. Clearly the ram had a job to do and he had a red stain on his chest which would stain the ewes when he mounted them. He seems to be doing a good job judging by the marks on the ewes. However, he does not appear to be the brightest ram on the block as he keeps putting his head through the fence around the paddock to get to grass on the outside. The grass is always greener, etc. The problem is that he keeps getting his head stuck through the fence.

Ram with three ewes

He then becomes stuck and makes an unholy racquet pulling his head back to try to get out. The fact that he is missing is that he has to twist his head to get through but forgets this when trying  to get free! So, Mrs. Parish goes to help him and he then pulls even harder and manages to get free but this is starting to weaken some of the fences. Eventually we are going to have an escaped ram, who will probably try to get at Giselle’s sheep and cause havoc and mayhem and no doubt ensuing paternity suits!

Our friends Ian and Sarah also have a sheep saga. Their farmer friend, Olivier has some sheep that he keeps in the field at Ian and Sarah’s house. Amongst the sheep is an ancient ewe that somehow (it is best not to ask) managed to avoid the abattoir and has kept going for some years. It is now so ancient that it is not much good for anything. It can barely walk and needs Sarah’s constant attention. However, Olivier reckons he has spent money on keeping and feeding the sheep. He has a plan to make merguez sausages from the ewe (a kind of spiced lamb sausage). To do this he must get it slaughtered and butchered and he wants to do this as cheaply as possible.

There has been talk of our neighbour Daniel being called in as a retired Charcutier to do the butchering (we effected an introduction but negotiations don’t seem to have started). Both sides have done a lot of shrugging and tutting so far! The problem has now been complicated by the ewe getting an infection and so it is too ill to be slaughtered and they have to wait until it is well enough to kill!!!!

Frankly we all think the best solution would be kill and bury the sheep as we cannot imagine it will be worth eating and none of us will accept barbecue invitations at the moment. But this is France and animals raised for food have to be used and not wasted. It is the French farmers code!  So, now the ewe is being nursed back to a state to become a whole load of sausages!

I think it may be no coincidence that Mrs. Parish has opted to make vegetarian lasagne for tonight’s dinner. I must go and see if I can find any wine worth drinking left in the cave.

Bon weekend


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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Louis the bugler; ironing; France is closed in August; we visit the last “poursuite sur terre” and the cats call for a new publicity deal.

August 6, 2017
One of the pleasant things about living in rural France is that you get to meet such interesting people. I think it helps that we are good friends with our neighbours, Giselle and Daniel and with Emile and Yvette. In a rural community, they seem to know everybody and in a lot of cases are distantly related. For example, we have got to know a French famer, Olivier and his wife, Valerie through some English friends. It turns out that Valerie is a distant cousin of Giselle.

Anyway, we were at hom...

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The peace and quiet of rural France; Kamikaze chickens; Bird brains; Grison finds some new friends

July 31, 2017
When setting up the adverts online for our gite, I pondered how to sell a holiday here. It seemed to me that a great selling point was the peace and quiet and slow pace of rural life. So, I made this the main strap line on the website and in adverts with holiday companies.

Last week I went to sit in the garden on a nice sunny morning and thought this is just the day to enjoy that lovely peace and quiet. A half an hour later and I wondered whether I would be charged under the Trades Description...

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We become an international hub; experience an amazing USA coincidence; visit the auberge; take drastic action, and a hoopoe hops in at last.

July 23, 2017

La Godefrere has now become an international hub. At least that is how it feels after several reservations for our gite from around Europe. It is clear that we have a strong international branding and have embraced the European ideal! I mentioned last week that we had two cycling Dutch people staying in the gite. They gave us a very good review on line. At least I think it was good as it was in the Dutch language.

Since then we had a booking for this weekend from a German family, who are in th...

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Veloistes arrive from all directions; petanque and pastis and the chickens play games while the cats sleep

July 16, 2017

We can report that the survival rate for the visit of our friends from Weymouth was quite high despite the weekend comprising rather a lot of alcohol and riding bikes. The only casualty being the delay in writing the blog. You may have seen the photos instead. The plan for the weekend was really all about riding our bikes but also venturing out to restaurants and having a few drinks while obviously doing a lot of talking to catch up with dear friends.

We went to a very local restaurant at St. ...

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Le Tour de France

July 9, 2017
This week we have visitors from Weymouth with their bikes. We are recreating the cycle race Le Tour de France and venturing from La Godefrere to local restaurants. A sort of gourmet Tour de France! As we have spent the weekend eating, drinking and cycling there has been no time for blog writing. The blog will be back in full next week.

The Grand Depart from La Godefrere with friends from Weymouth
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The Owl and the Pussy Cat meet the Pyjama Game; owl sentinels; repas reports and a wine faux pas; and so it begins.

July 2, 2017
Well, sadly, this week I am not sitting in the sun but have been forced indoors by persistent drizzle. On the one hand, this is good news as we desperately need rain to revive the garden. On the other hand, we have become used to sitting in the garden in glorious sunshine. Or in a nice warm but shady spot to write up the blog. It has also got a bit colder and I may now have to go to the wine cave for a warm up, perhaps a shot of Calvados to warm the blood!

It has been an exciting week for the ...

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Final reflections on the French elections; St. Francis of la Godefrere; chicken, chicken; more amazing trail camera action.

June 25, 2017

At the end of a very hot week here in France and it has finally got a little bit cooler. We have had weather coming up from the Sahara and it has been too hot to do much. The garden is suffering with the heat and lack of rain. The grass in the garden and orchard that a couple of weeks ago was lush green is now turning brown or white where the sun has scorched it. It has meant that the grass hasn’t needed cutting but it does look very sorry. Mrs. Parish has been concerned about all the stuff...

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Cat in a hot chicken house: the effect of swearing at hens; Spring watch comes to La Godefrere and the last day of the French elections

June 18, 2017
The weather has finally decided that it is summer and this past week we have had wall to wall sunshine. Today is a gloriously sunny day with clear blue skies and it is hot. So, I am here sat under one of the trees in the orchard trying to get some shade while I write up the blog. The hot weather is going to last all week and it is likely to get even hotter as the week goes on. Fortunately, there is a light breeze which is helping to maintain a bit of coolness. If not we revert to the ice crea...

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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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