Mrs. Parish’s time at the front has been a success. Although she did not capture any moles it seems that her vigorous counter thrust has stopped the moles in their tracks and there has been little sign of mole activity this week. This could of course be down to our major ally Peter who seems to have rediscovered his mole catching skills and this week caught a mole. The first of the current campaigning season but his fifth overall. An impressive record. Mind you it could equally be the effect of Archie weeing on mole hills and thus deterring the moles. If we had more time we could conduct some controlled experiments and isolate the most effective mole weapons. If we could show Archie’s wee was an effective deterrent this could of course open up some interesting commercial opportunities in the form of cat farms where we “milk” the cats for their wee. There are so many stray cats in France that it would almost be a public service. We could probably get funding from the European Union. When I suggested this to Mrs Parish she thought I was taking the piss!!

We have to talk about Moggie! He is now firmly into his cat adolescence and has developed some rather unfortunate habits. He seems to spend a considerable amount of time sat on Minou’s back, with the fur on her neck grasped firmly in his teeth. They both seem to be transfixed in this position for some time. Moggie hasn’t quite worked out why he is doing this but he does it an awful lot. He has in the past week started to make sort of thrusting movements. It all seems to be somewhat unsavoury particularly as Minou is his sister. Mrs Parish and I have been talking about this and have come to the conclusion that this cannot end well. The vet has been consulted and an appointment made for Tuesday afternoon. I thought High Noon would be an appropriate time but that would interfere with “L’heure de dejeuner” so it’s 2pm and a quick slice and that will sort him out. As a good socialist and animal rights supporter I did consider the idea of counselling and developing in Moggie a sense of social responsibility and respect for women’s rights. However I am reliably informed that this does not have a good track record of success with cats. So it’s the knife, sorry Moggie!

Talking of Women’s rights this week saw International Women’s day across the world. Our local paper L’Ouest France which is a regional based paper had front page headlines “Journee de la Femme: etes-vous feministe” (women’s day, are you a feminist) and followed this with a front page leader on “La longue marche de l’egalite” (the long march to equality). I was suitably impressed and could not imagine newspapers in Dorset where we lived – Western Daily Press or the Dorset Echo being quite as progressive!! Still we did catch the film Made in Dagenham on the BBC about women at Ford Motors who went on strike in the late sixties to campaign for Equal pay and whose campaign led to the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970. A good film and a great testament to the need to campaign and the strength of the women involved.

I reported last week that we were on the cusp of getting our “Carte Vitale” to access the French health system. Well last Monday Mrs Parish and I made our pilgrimage to the offices of CPAM (Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie) in Mayenne. The office of Health Insurance. We went weighed down with all our various papers and certificates. All seemed OK but there was of course a problem as the document translating our birth certificates was not stamped with an official stamp. Mrs Parish had done the translation on a form produced by the British Consul and there is actually very little to translate apart from father’s occupation. They also take a photocopy of the actual birth certificate. But that’s not good enough. The translation has to be done by an official translator and stamped with an official stamp according to the official we spoke to. He told us we could get a list of translators from the office of the Tribunal in Laval or from the local Town Hall in Mayenne. So we managed to find the Town Hall to be told that they did not have a list and referred us to the local Twinning Association! We decided to cut our losses and return home and consult the internet. We found an official Translator and emailed their office to be told yes they could translate our birth certificates but that it would cost 70 Euros!! French bureaucracy is at least keeping lots of people in jobs! We are now searching for a cheaper official translator.

Emile finally got his cake this week. You will recall that there was a cake incident and Archie got to the cake before we could take it to Emile. Mrs Parish baked a second cake but unfortunately (or from my point of view fortunately) we decided one wet afternoon to eat it ourselves. So this week the third cake was made by Mrs Parish. A very nice Dorset Apple cake which was kept under extreme security measures until we got it round to Emile’s house. It has been an interesting feature of our house in recent weeks as we desperately try to find places to hide food from the cats. On Friday I was tasked at the daily briefing with Mrs Parish to make a fish pie for dinner (one of my specialities that does not involve sausages). I got the fish out of the freezer and had to find somewhere to hide the fish while it defrosted. I went to put it in the microwave but found that Mrs Parish had got there first and there was a bag of vegetable leftovers destined for the garden. So I had to put the fish in the oven so it had a safe place to defrost with a post it on the door to stop me staring the oven before taking out the fish. Some days when cooking it is a case of first, find your ingredients. The kittens are currently attacking bag of onions!! Now they have moved on and Moggie is hiding in the box of old newspapers, while Minou is trying to oust him from this obviously exciting place. They have been playing outside all day and are supposed to be tired.

The kittens have also invented a new game of eating the furry bits on Mrs Parish’s slippers, usually on the bits next to the toes. In order to deter this annoying habit Mrs Parish has been very ingenious if a little crazy. She has discovered that the kittens don’t like orange peel so she has been arranging bits of orange peel across the toes of her slippers when sat of the sofa. At times our house and its occupants seem a trifle strange. You don’t have to be mad to live here although in our case perhaps you do!

This week has been nice and sunny on a few occasions so we have had cups of tea and cake and on one occasion lunch outside on our wooden bench which is just outside in a  nice sunny spot. Of course taking food outside brings the chicken into the occasion. Usually we have her looking menacingly in through the window but once you go outside with food it is a whole increase in levels of intimidation. She circles the bench and hides under the table waiting to pounce (do chickens pounce? Ours seems to!) if you lower your plate a bit too far, it’s goodbye cake. We took Emile’s cake out to the car in a securely closed box to avoid any chicken incidents.

My god, I have only just avoided a serious crumble incident as the kittens have moved out of the paper box and were I though resting on the worktop. I heard a rustling sound and turned to see the kittens trying to break through the cling film over the apple crumble. Not just any crumble but my birthday crumble, is nothing sacred! I just managed to reach them in time to save the crumble which is now locked away in the fridge. I think I have now managed to secure all food items so it is safe to get back to the blog. You will have noted from the crumble references that it is my birthday and I have decided that all my birthdays should hence forward be in French as soixante-deux sounds to me much younger than 62. In fact I think for the next 10 years I will be “soixantaine” which is about 60. The French are great and have some fantastic words for things which sound so much better.

So I have had a busy weekend watching rugby and football on TV although the England Rugby team only just beat Italy. Nonetheless we are on track for a grand slam. We only have to beat Wales next week which will provide me with loads of bragging rights over my Welsh friend Steve, with whom I exchange abusive texts during International rugby games. As it is my birthday tomorrow and I am still in shock over the near crumble death experience I think it is time for bed.

A bientot