I can hear the Sound of Thunder. Today is a wet and thundery bank holiday in France and so I am confined indoors and catching up with the blog. I decide to introduce a bit of culture to this week’s blog and so have linked all the subjects to an appropriate title of a novel. There is a prize for anyone who knows the authors of all the novels in the heading above. I am working on the basis that no one will know them all as I haven’t actually thought of a prize or a way of getting it to you if I did think of a prize. The authors are listed at the end of the blog. I suspect my son Ian, who is a repository of little known facts, will not only know them but will have read the books!

You can tell I am bored with today as I have just discovered on the internet (oh what a great benefit to and curse of mankind) that the Guardian gives an annual award to the book with the oddest title. “The Anger of the Aubergines” won the award in 2008. The oddest title seems to have come from a book of nonfiction whose amazing title is “Tattooed mountain women and spoon boxes of Daghestan”. Bizarrely there is also a book entitled “Teabag Folding” and one called “The History of Concrete”. These have all now become musts for my bookshelves. In this year’s shortlist there is a book called “Working Class Cats”. For obvious reasons I will be keeping this book away from the La Godefrere cats. They are still keeping on about the class struggle following “Lutte Ouvriere” leaflets in the Euro elections. They are now demanding the right to be indoor cats whenever they choose.

My next title L’Argent refers of course to money. I am feeling quite smug after managing to complete my French tax return on line. I see that the French Government (Socialist) has introduced a wealth tax on all those whose wealth exceeds 1.3 million Euros. The tax is called “Impot de Solidarité sur la Fortune”. Or tax of solidarity on the fortune. I just love the idea that the wealthy are paying extra tax in solidarity with the rest of us!! This tax and the crack down on tax avoidance has led to a promise of a tax cut for those on lower incomes next year!! As it has been such a wet morning, we now have heavy thundery rain; I have been sorting out my finances. As the exchange rate is quite good between the pound and the euro I have been on to my guys at Moneycorp to transfer some money from England to my French bank account. Interestingly my French Dentist reckons that he can tell when the exchange rates are good as all his English patients come in for dental work. My teeth are OK but with all the visitors we have had and are due to have strains the bank balance. Of course we will soon be receiving a bill from the taxman (but just for ordinary taxes, not the wealth tax!!).

The Visitors keep coming and going. No sooner had the red ramblers disappeared than we had my son, Ian and his fiancée Emma to stay for a long weekend with a couple of Emma’s friends to celebrate her birthday. So lots of food and drink! As it was a birthday treat we ordered a special cake St.Honore from our local “boulangerie” in Ambrieres. As well as being a baker they are also “Patissieres” and make cakes to order. The cake St Honore is made with choux pastry, chocolate and cream and we duly brought it out for Emma on Sunday. It was lovely and suitably decadent! We also went for a meal at the local Michelin 1 Star restaurant in Mayenne “L’Eveil des Sens”. (The awakening of the senses) We had a great meal with sensational food and the waitress overheard us wishing Emma a happy birthday and came out with a special dessert for Emma with a candle and message Joyeux Anniversaire. My youngest daughter Amy and her friend Joyce arrive on Wednesday.

From our Patisserie

While on the subject of visitors we have had a couple on uninvited visitors. On Friday at about 3am we heard a dog barking in our courtyard. On investigation it was not our neighbour’s dog Pepito but a small dog who seemed very friendly. However at 3am we are not good hosts and did not invite him in. In the end we managed to chase him away as his constant barking was very annoying in the small hours of the morning. Yesterday we saw a small white cat in the garden who ran away when we spoke to it. At least the cat had the good manners to visit during the day! We have no idea where they came from as we are at least a mile away from other hamlets. I think they have heard of the soft regime at La Godefrere and were wanting to seek asylum here. We will wait and see if they return.

As from Thursday the Boys from Brazil will be bringing us nonstop football as the World Cup gets underway. In England there is nothing but World Cup material on offer. We thought that there might be the same in France but they seem bizarrely to concentrate on the quality of the football rather than the tat that goes with it. So here there are lots of rather large screen TVs on display so you can watch in style but I have not found any World Cup Wall charts and so have had to download one from the BBC. It came in four parts so I had to glue and sellotape it together. It is now up on the wall. Not much in the way of flags or other world cup rubbish. Anyway I have now got all the details and so can plan my viewing. Of course I now have two teams to support. England and France but I’m not sure either team is good enough to win. Mrs. Parish who quite likes football but in small doses is not looking forward to the next couple of weeks. My boyish enthusiasm is a bit overwhelming so she is spending more time in the garden.

Mrs. Parish is of course the Constant Gardener and the vegetable garden is doing very well. This of course means that I do very well as I obligingly eat all the lovely fruit and veg that arrives with increasing frequency now. So far we have had some super peas and broad beans. Loads of lovely strawberries and now wonderful tasty new potatoes and lettuces. It promises to be a bumper summer of home grown delights. I just wish the grass didn’t grow quite as quickly as I am having to get out my tractor mower at least once a week. The loneliness and responsibility of the tractor driver. A bit like 100 Years of Solitude at times!! Of course a significant advantage of having a gardener is being able to sit on the patio with a glass of wine and watch the gardener at work.

Mrs. Parish, the Constant Gardener

Finally the Cat who Sang for the Birds refers to our cats and their habit of watching birds in the garden and singing a little song to try to persuade the birds to fly down and into their mouths. It doesn’t seem to work very well but is fascinating to watch. This week I have been watching a bizarre duel between Moggie and a very crazy Chaffinch. The Chaffinch has been flying around, sitting in trees or on fences and instead of singing making repetitive and annoying cheeping noises that go on forever. I keep threatening to set the cats onto the chaffinch. However instead of flying away the Chaffinch has taken up the challenge and now flies down into the courtyard and still making the annoying cheeping noise proceeds to play chicken with Moggie by hopping ever closer to the cat and then waiting for Moggie to make his move and then hopping just out of reach. We are for once hoping Moggie will get him. Yesterday the sparrowhawk paid us a visit and there was no sound from the chaffinch. We kind of hoped for a solution but after a while the chaffinch returned. 

So the end of a thundery morning at La Godefrere. I hope you enjoyed the themed approach. Check below to see how many authors you could identify!

Bonne semaine

The Sound of Thunder – Wilbur Smith
The Anger of the Aubergines – Bulbul Sharma
L’Argent (the Money) – Emile Zola
The Visitors – Clifford D Simak
The Boys from Brazil – Ira Levin
The Constant Gardener – John le Carre
100 Years of Solitude – Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
The Cat who Sang for the Birds – Lillian Jackson Braun