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.

Curse of the vampire midges; Autumn arrives; a visit to Giselle’s rural French house; the games continue

September 18, 2018

Many of my reports in this blog concern my ongoing battle with nature and the struggles to survive here in the wilds of rural France. Whether it be forests of viciously thorned brambles, hornets’ nests, apples that need picking off the floor or rampantly invasive moles, marauding wild boars. Nature manages to make life really difficult. It is not as if I have ever done anything to upset nature at least as far as I know. But it seems to have it in for me.

One area where I have managed to stay ahead of the game is with regard to insect bites. It is very rare that I get bitten. I put this down to a combination of factors. Firstly, I suspect I don’t taste too good and am not worth biting. My second and most effective method is to stay close to Mrs. Parish. She is an absolute midge magnet and flying bitey things seem to spot her a mile away and to make a bee line towards the feast that is on offer. So, the bitey insects are so interested in Mrs. Parish that they don’t bother me.

At least that is how it has been until this year. It may be that with the long hot and dry summer that there are just too many insects and that they are desperate for something to bite even if it is tough and tasteless. It has not been helped by the fact that Mrs. Parish has discovered an effective insect repellent which deters the insects from biting. My guaranteed protection of sticking close to Mrs. Parish is no longer effective. The insects moved on from Mrs. Parish seek a close by alternative.

The end result is that I have been bitten more times this year than probably the past 50 years put together. With a lot of the insects you don’t even know you are being bitten until you discover the red spot and swelling which then becomes incredibly itchy. I have even resorted to using Mrs. Parish’s insect repellent but the bitey things now seem to have acquired a taste for my blood as they manage to find the bit of skin that I missed when putting on the repellent or in a really unfair way they manage to get inside my shirt or even worse and decidedly sneaky, inside my shorts and make a nice long line of bites.

Now I have to smear antihistamine cream on all the spots and hope for a bit of cold weather to cut down the numbers. We have lots of bats around us and you would think they might eat enough to reduce numbers in a kind of nature balancing sort of way.  But nature is not very helpful!

There is a definite feel of autumn at the moment and it is getting noticeably colder in the mornings and evenings. The cats are not quite so keen to go wandering off and all three are outside waiting at meal times. During the day it remains quite hot and no sign of rain. Our garden is now a brown colour and at least I don’t need to cut the grass but we could really do with some rain. In the fields around us the farmers are getting in the maize crop early as it has stopped growing and is going brown. Going for a walk is a risky business as tractors and trailers are everywhere either fully laden with maize or empty and on their way back to collect more.

The swallows are in the process of leaving for their long migration to Africa. We have seen lots of flocks gathering and feeding up around us. Most are now gone and there only small groups left.

As my brother is staying with us at the moment we were invited to have a look around Giselle’s house and garden. She is rightly proud of her garden and the animals she keeps either for the eggs or for eating. Giselle and Daniel are a dying breed of rural French people who maintain a small holding containing a vegetable garden, together with a range of animals. Hens for eggs, chickens and geese to eat (they used to also keep ducks and pigeons). Rabbits to breed and to keep them supplied with a range of food. When we went around Giselle had a huge pot on the cooked and was going to make rabbit pate.

Chez Giselle

We went around the garden which is segmented so that all the animals have room to graze, apart from the rabbits who were in cages. All the animals were clean and healthy as you would expect as they are kept for food. This is a common way of life for a large number of older French people living in rural areas. It is hard work but they are pretty much self sufficient for a large part of their food needs. Many still sell off their surplus food either at the farmhouse or at local markets.

The hens


However, young French people are not keen to follow such a rural life style and so they tend to die out with their owners. Our tour also included meeting the guard dog Pepito who lives outside in his pen where he is perfectly happy. His job is to bark if anyone arrives at the property. My brother Mike took some photos which I have included to show Giselle and Daniel’s life style. They certainly seem healthy and happy with their lot!

Pepito and his little den

Over the past week in between eating and drinking my brother and I have continued with the international games. We have now moved on from petanque to a more sedate game of backgammon which can be played indoors. An intense round of games has been played and at the time of writing the blog France are leading 11 games to 8. My brother has videoed the games but in the interests of my blog readers I decided that this was a bit too boring to warrant a film.

Today we took Mike and Shuriu once again to our café and conversation morning at the bar in Ambrieres. The aim is to have both French and English speakers so that we can have a nice chat and at the same time practice our language skills. This morning there were around 14 of us with 4 French people and amazingly in a small bar in Ambrieres there were couples from Canada and Australia who live in France. A lady who was born in St. Lucia as well as the two visiting Americans. It was a very international gathering which led to some interesting discussions. As usual we stayed on to have lunch at the bar. 

We now await an exciting end to the week as we have the “Foire aux vins” evening at our local supermarket on Friday with lots of great wines to taste and to purchase. The catalogue arrived today and I have been pouring through it looking for great deals on a whole range of wines. On Saturday we plan a great meal with some excellent wines as it if the last day before our visitors return to Paris before flying back to the USA. On Sunday we have tickets to the football match between local side Rennes and Paris St. Germain in the French Ligue 1. A chance to see such players as Neymar; Cavani and Mbappe. It should be a great weekend and plenty to report back on next week.

The cats and hens are all fine but there was no room for them this week. They will be back next week!

Bon weekend


The return of the hens; we lose our connection; we retain the trans-atlantic petanque trophy but are level at eating and drinking

September 11, 2018

A major event in the annals of La Godefrere. Hens have returned. When I say this, I don’t mean the three suffragette hens have returned from the grave. I mean we have new hens and this time we have four of them.

Our new hens

Near to us is a chicken business which keeps around 4,000 hens for egg laying purposes. They live in sheds but have a huge grassy area where they can roam free and feed up. They return to the shed in the evening and an automatic door comes down to keep them safe. Their gr...

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The mystery of the sixth Bowmore; The US cavalry arrive ; France La rentrée scolaire is a testing time and the hunt cometh.

September 3, 2018
Suddenly it is September! How did we arrive at September? Where did the summer go? Complicated and philosophical questions that demand analysis, a developing theory and definitive answers. But this is France and so we shrug our shoulders and sigh in that “Je ne sais quoi” manner. The analysis leads to the fact that I am thirsty and I develop my theory that all questions involve thinking, which is hard and therefore must ultimately lead to the consumption of wine in France. The definitive ...

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Holidays, battlefields and the road to nowhere; Emile and the vet; cats make hay while the sun shines and 46 years on

August 27, 2018
Well, here we are back at the blog after a week’s holiday. I left you 2 weeks ago with a drink in hand and plans for a week away on holiday with Mrs. Parish. We duly set off to stay in the Bay de Somme. We had booked a gite near the sea at a place called Quend Plage. It was very pleasant but I have to say not up to the standards of our gite. The kitchen definitely lacked in cooking utensils and the shower only stayed hot for long enough for one person to have a shower unless you liked the c...

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A day out; masking tape mishaps; talking to animals is smart; the moles go too far; shooting stars and falling apples – so it begins

August 15, 2018

I’m sorry but the blog is a bit delayed this week. There is always something to do here at the moment and we have been busy getting hot, clearing up the gite, decorating, ironing and grass cutting. Often when I get to sit in front of the computer I am so tired I tend to fall asleep. Probably the wine has something to do with it! It is tough here in rural France!

Today it has been a public holiday and we have spent the day at the nearby village of St. Fraimbault where they have an annual fair...

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Il fait chaud; marauding moles and Monsieur l'homme au tambourin; harvest time for the wheat

August 7, 2018

Il fait chaud. It is hot, very hot. After a week of baking sunshine today it is cloudy but hot and muggy. We are sat waiting for a predicted thunder storm with high winds and hail stones. Hopefully this storm, if it arrives, will break the weather and we will get some desperately needed rain. The garden is parched and the grass has turned brown. 

The one good thing is that the grass is not growing and so I don’t need to cut it. What a difference from April when the grass was lush green but n...

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Welsh wizard in Tour de France triumph; I encounter Korky the killer cockatoo; crazy cats chill out

July 31, 2018

The Tour de France came to an end in Paris yesterday with the traditional finish at the Arc de Triumphe. Three weeks of hard racing concluded with a great victory for Welshman Geraint Thomas. The only thing for the French to cheer about was that Alaphillipe won the King of the Mountain polka dot jersey. During the race points are awarded on mountain stages for the rider who reaches certain check points first. Frenchman Alaphillipe was the highest scorer and thus won the jersey.

So, the Tour is...

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A riverside stroll to lunch, Alan and Debi go home; it gets really hot and we move on to Le Tour de France

July 24, 2018
So, last week we left you with a trip to la Marjolaine in prospect. On a lovely sunny day, we parked and walked alongside the river Mayenne to lunch at La Marjolaine. It is a lovely walk along the river with trees and green fields across the river and on the path side a series of steep hills up from the path. Quiet and peaceful, just enough to hone the appetite. We were able to sit outside on the terrace and enjoy the sun. The food was as ever fantastic and I was pleased to see that sea bass,...

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We go mob handed to the bar and watch France win the World Cup, with alcohol and a little helping hand!

July 18, 2018
This week there has been further disruption to the smooth writing of the blog, from the World cup. On Tuesday we were all set up to watch England play their semi-final and earn the chance to play France is the final. Sadly, it was not to be and England lost to Croatia 2-1 after extra-time. After our disappointment had worn off a little we came to realise that it may have been a good thing. Having spent the past month in the bar at Oisseau supporting the French and getting in with the French s...

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Lazy, hazy days of summer; Football World Cup; the Marquis de Sade and road signs; cats ín charge!

July 11, 2018
These are lazy, hazy days of summer. Mix this with the World Cup and now the start of the Tour de France cycling and any sort of routine or scheduling has gone out of the window and melted. It is now Tuesday and I am just starting the blog. Usually, it would be published by now. But this is France and things happen in their own time. The relaxed French approach suits me fine and the blog will get completed but I’m not sure when. 
After a long day in the sun working in the garden, I am now d...

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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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