It was always going to be a quiet week after the departure of the red ramblers on Tuesday. After our epic weekend Mrs. Parish and I returned to the more mundane everyday tasks of living in France. But first we had to get rid of the vast volume of waste and recycling after the weekend revels. The waste was not too much of a problem. Her in rural France we don’t have collections of waste, so we have to take our rubbish to communal bins at the end of some of the lanes around us. It does mean putting sacks of waste into the boot of the car and being very careful not catch the plastic bag on the boot release mechanism. As we have found to our cost this can result in a torn bag and smelly rubbish in the boot. Not good!! The other challenge is that the bins are large and you require three hands to open the lid of the bin and to lift the rubbish bags to the required height to get them into the bin. I like to think that all those years negotiating on behalf of the bin men in Poole stand me in good stead as I become each week a rubbish disposal operative.

The recycling is more an embarrassment than a problem. We always seem to have vast quantities of empty wine and beer bottles on a normal week but after a weekend with 10 of us and not a teetotaller in sight there were rather a lot of empties to get rid of. Mrs. Parish worries that we are getting a bad reputation and so we decide to get rid of all the empties in one dash to the recycling bins under cover of darkness, to ensure no one we know sees us. This is carried out with military precision to ensure we spend the minimum amount of time disposing of the bottles. Of course sod’s law applies and the first recycling place we arrive at we find the bins are full to bursting and there is no way we can squeeze any more in. At the next village we manage to force bottles and cans into a bin with a minute amount of space and we realise that we have decided to get rid of our bottles on the day before the bins are emptied and thus they are at maximum density!! We finally get to a third recycling centre and now it is pitch dark so while we find a bin with space in it, we are scrambling around in the dark trying to work out which is the bottle bank and to deposit the bottles quietly. If you have tried this you will realise just how noisy it can be! By the time we get home we are desperately in need of a large drink and so the cycle begins again. No wonder they call it recycling!!

I have written a lot about French bureaucracy and how mind boggling it can be. However one thing about French officialdom is how polite they are. We received letters this week from the French Public Health Office and from our bank. The Health office concluded their letter with an assurance of distinguished salutations and the bank assured us that “your trust and satisfaction remain our priorities at all times”. Yours faithfully just doesn’t cut the mustard in France and organisations seem to try to out polite each other. A few weeks ago we had a letter from the water company finished with “we would wish you to believe sir or madam in our expression of devoted sentiments”. How often has your water company offered you devoted sentiments? This is of course part of the great charm of the French language and I discovered while reading the tax form and the distinguished sentiments of the tax office that a common law wife in French is a concubine (the husband is also a concubine!). How wonderful is that. Whilst the French delight I’m afraid that English is become adulterated, often by some of our American friends. Thus this week we were waiting for some new duvet covers to arrive by mail order from John Lewis when we got a message from their couriers DPD advising us that it had now arrived at their “Sortation facility!! Oh dear, your heart sinks doesn’t it. And not a distinguished sentiment or salutation is sight.

This afternoon Mrs. Parish and I were cutting grass. Myself on the tractor mower as befits my status as a skilled technical driving operative. Mrs. Parish on the push mower and strimmer. Her skills are much more hands on skills which of course includes planting things that grow.  The veg garden is coming on a treat and I have to say that Mrs. Parish has excelled herself with so many things growing and this weekend produced some fantastic new potatoes. It is great to have stuff dug up and then immediately cooked straight from the garden together with some lovely pork chops we bought at the Fougeres street market.

French markets are great. In Fougeres the market is on the streets and there are stalls galore including an amazing number of fruit and veg stalls all selling great quality food. In addition to the businesses there are always stalls which seem to be run by a couple of old men selling the produce from their allotment. There are also small stalls with one person operatives selling just chickens from their farm or specialist cheeses. There are also stalls which just sell onions or apples. There are also stalls selling cooked food from North Africa and from South East Asia as well as French and Spanish foods (not much English food on display!!).  Fantastic smells of food. There are even stalls selling double beds and some selling brassieres!!  We also had some street theatre with people in costumes promoting a village play, a little old lady promoting Amnesty International and some guys leafleting for the Front Gauche, the far left of French politics promoting a public meeting against austerity. So all of life was there. An amazing morning and we left with a collection of fruit and veg, cheese and the lovely, straight from the farm, pork chops.

I was talking about cutting the grass and got a bit side tracked on the subject of food. I was leading up to the subject of petanque. It occurred to me that we could create our own petanque pitch in the garden. So I got out the tape measure and laid out an appropriate area on the lawn and challenged Mrs. Parish to a game and what an epic contest it proved to be. I won the first set 13 - 8 and Mrs. Parish responded by winning the second set 13 – 10. This set up a tense third set with some interesting interventions from Moggie. I think Mrs. Parish was tiring in the third set or maybe it was my adherence to Bill Shankly’s principle that we play till I’m winning that caused her to fall away and I took the third set 13 – 8. We are now talking of taking the contest to a proper petanque arena and playing on a French surface.

The sheep have returned, a little thinner as they have been shorn. It is good to have them back. Patrick kept them inside for a while after shearing as the weather got quite cold at night and without their woollen coats the sheep would have felt the cold. I have to say that being sheared has not improved their look much as these must be some of the ugliest sheep in France, not that I would tell them of course. They are quite friendly and I wouldn’t want to hurt their feelings.

I’m not quite sure why but I am now watching the football, Brazil v England and sadly England are looking as poor as ever and it only seems a matter of time before Brazil score. It now seems that we have lost the link to Brazil and there are no pictures. This could be a blessing!

Hey ho I think it’s time for a calva as a night cap. We saw Emile and Yvette yesterday and they are off this weekend to Emile’s aunt's 100th birthday. He says long life is common in his family and its all down to a daily tot of calva. Well if it is good enough for Emile’s aunt it is good enough for me!!

Bon santé et bon nuit