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 Vauboreau slate quarries; eating out; the Oisseau fete communale; trail camera; tractor trapeze

October 9, 2018
The weather is a bit curious just at the moment. We thought that autumn had arrived as the weather turned cold and we even had some heavy rain. But over the weekend, yesterday and today we have had clear skies and full on sun. It was really hot today.

For much of the past week we have been helping our friends, Ian and Sarah with the job of removing the roof of their very large barn. The roof was in a poor state and the slates needed to be replaced. This meant stripping all the slates off one side and then removing all the battens to allow the roofers in to replace the wood and to fit new slates. The barn is two storeys high although on the side we were working there was only a single storey outside where the lane passes. Inside there were still two storeys to fall into if you were not extremely careful.

Ian is like me and not too keen on heights. He happened to mention to his French neighbour Yves what he had planned. Yves who is a retired farmer, immediately offered to help and said he was happy to work at the top of the roof. It was only after a few days that we discovered that Yves was 80 years old. But he is still remarkably fit and worked all afternoon, 2pm to 6pm (with only the statutory French break for coffee). At the weekend with his partner he was out dancing to the wee small hours. It must be the calvados.

Ian was responsible for the lower part of the roof. Sarah was a sort of perpetual motion go between. One-minute breaking up slates, the next shifting wood to the wood shed and the next making coffee, and in between searching for the tools that Ian had misplaced!

Yves (age 80) and Ian and Sarah (not so old)

Mrs. Parish and I were sent to the slate quarries. All the slates from the roof were to be reused in a ditch at the back of the house so we had to break up all the slate and remove the metal clips. This was good fun smashing up slates but also hard work. When we had finished that we were onto breaking up the wooden batten to be used as kindling for their wood burner. This is France where everything can be reused!

The slate quarry!

As we are in France the custom is that the workers get provided with lunch so for 3 days over the past week we have been treated to lunch at the village restaurant at Oisseau, Lasaveur, run by the lovely owner and great chef, Anne-Sophie. Lunch is nearly always a 2-hour affair with a three-course meal (four if you have cheese) with wine or cider and then a coffee to finish. It is a good way of making you rest and relax at lunch time so you can work extra hard in the afternoon!

The loneliness of the long distance roofer

Anyway, after three days work we had managed to completely strip the roof and now it is ready for the next stage of replacing with hew wood and slate but this will be done by the professionals.

While talking of eating I should mention that on Sunday we went to the Fete Communale at Oisseau. We went with Ian and Sarah to the restaurant for a special fete meal entitled Couscous Royale. This consisted of a bed of couscous on which were carrots, courgettes and turnip with a merguez sausage, some chicken and a slow cooked lamb chop. It was superb. Of course, we had an aperitif of kir bretonne (Cassis with cider) and wine with the meal. The dessert was a very nice crème brulee. We just had to finish a lovely meal with a cognac with our coffee.

The Lasaveur is a nice and friendly local restaurant. Now we get kisses from the waitresses when we arrive in the French style and then Anne-Sophie always comes around during the meal for a kiss and a chat. It is a great atmosphere and the food is always good. The fete meal was fully booked out on both Saturday and Sunday. Father Joseph the elderly catholic priest was there as he is every lunch time.

After lunch we slowly waddled our way outside for the rest of the fete. In the square were a lot of amusements: a merry go round, hook a duck and a shooting gallery as well one stall making very sugary sweets which we avoided. We were more interested in the afternoon’s main event. The wheel barrow race. This was a race between four teams who had designed and made their own wheel barrow consisting of one wheel, a seat and two handles. The race consisted of a person sat on the seat while team members pushed the barrow around a laid-out course with chicanes and reversing, sharp turns etc.

The wheel barrow race!!

To make life more difficult the person sat in the seat had a small wooden board and had to balance a tennis ball while being pushed! The race was very serious and there was a trial lap to decide the places on the starting grid. The four teams were in fancy dress and consisted of a team of smurfs (known as strumpfs in France), the all black rugby team, cowboys and a football team. The race was won over six laps and the clear winners were the all blacks.

A fun afternoon and as it got cold we were forced back into the restaurant for another coffee.

Meanwhile back at La Godefrere our trail camera had been out of action for a little while as it decided that it would not work properly and it refused to take video pictures. Mrs. Parish took matters in hand and searched high and low on the internet for a solution. Eventually she came to the view that its software needed updating and she downloaded the appropriate material and effectively cleansed the machine and installed the up to date software. I think she also gave the camera a good talking to and low and behold it is now working perfectly.

We have captured a couple of young deer playing and chasing magpies next to the camera. Keep a look out and I will add a video of this to the La Godefrere facebook page. We also spotted a coypu, which is not good news. Hopefully this is just one passing through as they can be real problem. On one day we got a video of a buzzard feeding on the ground and about to be harassed by the magpies. We have also seen a hare and a stone marten as well as a small fox.

Finally, for this week a bit of tractor trapeze. Or at least a high wire act. We were returning from the restaurant at Oisseau when we came to stop behind several vehicles. We then spotted the reason for the hold up. Ahead there is a new duck shed being constructed (Un canarderie in French). A very large lorry had arrived at the site but could not get on to the site because of the telephone wires running alongside the road. Unlike near us where someone had just driven through our telephone wire this driver was a bit more responsible. He waited while a tractor (known as a manitou) with an extending arm manoeuvred itself into a position to hold up the wires to allow the lorry through. It was a bit like the ballet! But it worked and no damage was done to the wires.

The tractor and the high wire

The cats have been a bit miffed as we have been out eating and working and so tea has been late on several occasions. This has led to hard stares and a good deal of moaning. To assuage their annoyance, we did find some left over pheasant that we had for Saturday dinner. It was a pheasant shot by the local hunt and given to us (cleaned up and prepared for cooking) by Patrique and his wife Catherine. We had a nice roast pheasant and the cats rather liked their share.

And so all ended well and there is peace and harmony at La Godefrere. The hens are doing OK as well and we have a surfeit of eggs.

Bonne semaine



The swallows fly away; cold winds arrive; crazy people come and go almost taking Archie with them; the cats now rule and we get a new French car

October 2, 2018
It is now October and all the swallows have gone. Off on their long flight to Africa for the winter and a bit of sunshine. We will not now see them until the end of March. It is now definitely Autumn and the weather has turned much colder. All thought of wearing shorts and t shirts has been consigned to history. We have even had to put on the convector heater this evening.

We have a cold wind that has been blowing all day and even a bit of rain this afternoon. It seems an age ago to last week ...

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The hens take centre stage; football and the Flunch fiasco; France defeats the USA; the visit ends with near disaster and embarrassment!

September 25, 2018

Autumn has definitely arrived and the mornings have become much colder. We have been typically English and have stubbornly remained in shorts and t-shirts in the hope that this will keep the summer going. It seems doomed to failure. At least we had a bit of rain this week to bring some relief to the garden. It may be too late for some of Mrs. Parish’s plants. However, she is of the Stoic school of philosophy and is firmly of the view that next year will be a perfect year for the garden!

The ...

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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...

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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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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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