I explained in last week’s blog that I had a bad back and was hobbling about the place. I tried some “Voltarol” anti inflammatory cream which I had seen on the TV. In the advert a man rubs cream on his bad back and within minutes goes from being a complete cripple to a break dancing phenomena. No such luck. After several “rubs” I am not up to even a very slow waltz let alone break dancing.

Mrs. Parish now enters the scene as she is getting fed up with me moaning and groaning and hobbling about the place. She decides that it is all to do with me being not flexible and that I need to do some exercises to make me more bendy and stretchy. She decides that yoga is the answer and gets out a rather large yoga book. The choice seems to be whether to do some exercise or be hit with the rather large book and remain with a bad back. 

I think that reading the book will probably help and I may get away with limiting the actual exercises. I see that an important factor is uncoiling and aligning my Chakras. These are apparently aligned with the spine but are more spiritual than real things. This doesn’t sound good! I then look at the pictures in the book of the various exercises and positions and most of them look impossible. We try a few as a sort of practice. It doesn’t go well as I seem unable to stand with a straight back or indeed with any part of my body aligned (let alone my chakras). It is not helped by Mrs. Parish varying between collapsing in fits of hysterical laughter or in fits of despair.

I remember that Mrs. Parish came home from her yoga class with a mantra that she was supposed to chant repeatedly while exercising. I wonder if I could just do the mantra to start with and build up slowly towards the exercise. Apparently this is not an option. After some while I finally get to do the “Tadasana Samasthithi” or steady and firm mountain pose. This involves standing with your back against the wall and tightening your buttocks, pulling in the lower abdomen and lifting the chest while breathing evenly. It seems you are supposed to do all these things at the same time!! 

The book has a whole section on yoga for ailments and this pose is number 1 on the list for lower back pain. There are another 31 exercises in this section! This includes a “Tadasana Gomukhasana” which is the mountain pose with hands held in the shape of a cows face!!!! This involves putting one arm over your shoulder and the other behind you back and then holding them together. This is quite clearly impossible. 

Well, I resort to my daughter Jo’s remedy and get out the Ibuprofen pain killer tablets and then work on my mountain pose. Once I have that to perfection I can move very slowly on to the next one which is mountain pose with arms stretched up. I think that may be achievable. According to the book as well as being good for my back this will improve my self confidence and avoid depression. Mrs. Parish has just referred me to page 234 and the savasana or “corpse pose”. This involves lying on your back and doing nothing. I think I can soon perfect this one!! As the guru who wrote the book says “Do not stop trying just because perfection eludes you”.

While all this has been going on I have also been trying to find out what has happened to Nelson and Winston. These are the two sheep owned by our friend Alex, who also has lots of Alpacas. Alex usually brings her sheep around to graze in our paddocks. We had been to see her earlier in the summer and were expecting the sheep to arrive. I contacted Alex and she told me that the sheep had been loaned to her French neighbour to manage their grass and she now had a problem in getting the sheep returned. The problem is not helped because Alex does not speak a lot of French and anyway her elderly French neighbour speaks mostly in patois! This appears to constitute sheep napping and drastic measures are required. I suggest either a tunnel or they build a glider to fly the POWs out! At the very least a dawn raid under cover of darkness seems to be required. In the end they try the dawn raid and a lot of shoulder shrugging and pointing. The sheep are returned apparently a lot thinner as all the grass has gone. We have plenty of grass and now await the escapees to arrive at our safe house in disguise.

The swallows are gathering in ever greater numbers and getting ready to depart on their migration to Africa. There must be over a hundred flying around us during the day. Feeding and sitting on telephone wires. Along the road into Ambrieres this morning there were several hundred flying low over the fields. They are usually gone by the end of September and will mark the end of summer and the advent of autumn.

Our cats have been taking advantage of the late summer sun and have taken over the lounging chairs during the day for a decent sleep. I think they have seen our guests using the loungers and often having snacks while sat out in the sun. They may be thinking that someone will bring out snacks for them. It is Minou and Archie who have taken up this idea. For Moggie he still has to go out in the fields to try to catch his own. Thus far he has been pretty successful and most days brings home a mouse. So much so that he does not eat them all and leaves dead bodies strewn across the courtyard. So I am still carrying out the morning burial duties.

Archie and Minou just lounging

Moggie has not quite got the lounging idea

Archie has blotted his copy book this last week by attacking one of our guests. This is not a good business model and I have had stern words with him. Usually Archie is the model of friendly and loveable cats with our guests. He goes up to them and lays down, looks cute and is ready to be stroked. He is very good with children who all love him. We do warn guest not to let the cats into the gite as they are quite likely to steal food or to hide on beds or chairs and get locked in. Last week we had a very nice couple staying in the gite (John and Carol) and they left the door open so Archie spotting a chance was in quick and settled himself down into a nice comfy armchair. John made the mistake of trying to pick up Archie from head on. Archie saw him coming and he can move very quickly for a large cat. He swiped John’s hand with his claws and left John with a rather large set of scratches including one which drew a lot of blood. So Mrs. Parish (first aider) had to patch him up while I went to have strong words with Archie and to evict him out of the chair and out of the gite.

Our guests have now gone and apart from Ian and Emma coming in October we have only one more let of the gite at the end of October. This will probably be the last paying guests for this year. We have already had two bookings for 2015, one week in June and one in August so that is encouraging.

Now back to the great big book of yoga. Helpfully I notice there is a chapter on yoga exercises for alcoholics! This is good news as I now have a fall back option of turning to drink if I can’t find my chakras. And I think a relaxing drink would be preferable at the moment to resuming my attempt to master the mountain pose.

Bonne santé