I have decided that it is time to start my missionary work and try to teach the French how to play cricket. It has clearly been one of Britain’s greatest triumphs to take cricket around the world and to create teams that end up beating us! Although I see today that we beat New Zealand in the first test match. I explained last week that Mrs. Parish had been tasked to return from her visit to England with a cricket set so we could start playing cricket and encourage the French that cricket is the one thing that is missing from their culture. This is no easy matter as the French do not even know how to play French cricket! Their knowledge of Leg before wicket (jambe avant guichet) is extremely limited and when you try to explain short legs they think you are being insulting to the French nation. Don’t even try to explain silly mid on.

The Parish family has had some success in the past. When on holiday in Brittany we played cricket on the beach and on one occasion were playing continuous cricket (also known as tip and run). If you hit the ball you have to run and the bowler can bowl as soon as they get the ball. We spent a sunny afternoon playing much to the amusement of the French family sat near us. The next day we went to the same beach and witnessed the French family playing continuous cricket!! Admittedly they were using a tennis racket and not a proper cricket bat but progress nonetheless.

Now we have a cricket set I have set up a cricket pitch in the garden. My good friend and cricket enthusiast, Nadeem has been nagging me on when my cricket pitch will be up and running and ready for play. You can’t rush these things. I have been studying the art of laying a cricket square and the best use of my tractor mower. Unfortunately there is a fair chance of having both molehills and mouse holes on the pitch. This either causes the ball to bounce at unusual angles if it hits a mole hill or shoot low if it catches a mouse hole. Not perfect conditions for batting. Now all I have to do is get some French people around for a game. How long before we see England v France at Lords!

Unfortunately tiredness has kicked in and I can’t concentrate on the blog at 9pm on a Sunday. I have had a busy weekend and was up late last night watching the Eurovision Song Contest. For my American friends this is a bizarre singing competition amongst European states. Some people take it seriously but for most of us it is a huge opportunity for being silly. The Romanian entry typifies all that is great about this event with a strange man in a tall dress singing in a falsetto voice. He/she was great but unfortunately did not win. There is a telephone vote and we discovered that by being in France we could have voted for the UK entry. Of course we did not. That is also part of the fun, seeing how few votes we get! Anyway it finished late.

During the day I had been painting the bathroom. We have just had a new shower put in so Mrs. Parish decided it was an opportune time for redecoration. No problems I thought, it’s only a tiny room, should be a breeze. Of course it was not such an easy proposition. I discovered that there is a price for all those “old French farmhouse” effects when I had to go round all the revealed oak beams and joints with a tiny paintbrush doing the edges. And of course this means folding myself up to fit into odd shaped places to get close enough to the woodwork. This all meant that it doubled the workload and by the end of the day I was worn out. Sod’s law also kicked in and I found that I did not have quite enough paint to finish the job. Not just that, but the paint was bought at a store in Laval which is about an hour away from us. No problems, I say, will dash over and get some in the morning. Mrs Parish helpfully points out that Monday is a bank holiday so the store will be closed. It is by now all too much so after a comforting glass of Jura whisky I am heading for bed!

A new day and as I mentioned it is a bank holiday in France (they do have lots of them). This one is for Pentecost. Of course as it is a bank holiday it is freezing cold and pouring with rain. So I am cooped up with my computer and two rampaging kittens that have too much energy and are racing round the living room. Mrs. Parish has sensibly locked herself in her sewing garret. Archie has been fast asleep on our bed all morning, he has, clearly, written the day off. I have just thrown the cats out as I’m sure its time Archie had a wee and the kittens are driving me mad. 10 minutes later they are back in and I realise what a mistake it was to send them out in the rain. Minou has just jumped up to see what I am doing and if I need any help and has rubbed her rainy fur against me and wiped her wet tail across my face. Mrs. Parish thought it was safe to come and do some ironing and is now trying to keep the cats out of the ironing basket and to stop them walking over the ironed shirts. Archie has tried to be helpful by walking on the bed sheets which are my ironing responsibility. It’s amazing how long he manages to keep wet dirt on his paws! Five minutes of total chaos and now the cats have arranged themselves at suitable points on furniture around the room and are trying to combine their thought transference powers to make me get them their tea. I point to the clock and explain it is another hour until tea time. The intimidation will start soon and it becomes a test of wills to see if I can avoid giving in and getting tea!!

So, the case of the mystery poo! While crossing the courtyard this morning to fill up the birdfeeders I noticed a pile of unusual looking poo. It looked to have been left by some sort of mammal. I asked Mrs. Parish to cast her eye over the poo (I’m just an old romantic). Mrs. Parish is remarkably tolerant of my fascination with animal poo. She thought like me that it must be a mammal, but what sort. A fox, badger, marten, wild boar? So I get my camera out to take a picture so I can look up poo on the internet. After a search I am none the wiser. This must be some sort of strange French animal that we have not yet encountered. I was just  considering putting the picture on my facebook page and inviting considered views on “Who’s poo is this?” type of thing, when Mrs. Parish came in and said that the chicken had just deposited a pile outside the front door and it looked exactly the same as my mystery poo. I must admit to a little disappointment at this news, Mrs. Parish on the other hand looks quite pleased and relieved.

There is grave news from the front. It seems as if our offensive line of trenches laid by Mrs. Parish last week have failed in their objectives. The moles have in an act of pure effrontery moved their mole runs and hills in such a way that they weave through the offensive line just missing all the traps. I begin to think that they have someone on the inside who has passed over our battle plan. Drastic action is called for and I am all for calling up the French Army of the Air. This is what they call their airforce, which is quite quaint. Any way on fine days we have two French jets which scream across the sky over La Godefrere and use our air space to turn which causes a huge noise and they fly very low so that last week both Mrs. Parish and I both ducked as they flew over. It seems reasonable to me in my new system of barter that in return for me not complaining about the use of our air space they could use some sort of laser guided missile to bomb the moles. While I am looking at the logistics of this, Mrs. Parish is on the internet looking up new ways to tackle the mole menace. Mrs. Parish can be quite determined on these matters and will not give up.

More seriously our foremost ally Peter has advised us that he has put his house on the market and is moving back to Britain in June. So we will be losing our champion mole catcher. I was a bit worried that it was something we said or the fact that he was next door to this mad English bloke, who talks to animals, inspects animal poo and has a bat detector. Peter assured me that he quite enjoyed living next door to us but that he felt it was the right time for him to go back to England. He also persuaded me that I needed to let him give me a box of books. I am under strict instructions from Mrs. Parish to operate a 1 book in, 1 book out regime as we do have a lot of books. I try to get round this problem by making sure at least one of the books was about gardening and that the rest of the books have been put around the house in small heaps to lessen the effect. My plan has been somewhat undone by the fact that Peter has now sold us a bookcase!

It is becoming increasingly unnerving now to have three cats all sat around me on the table and all staring intensely at me. They are closing in for the kill. I swear they have noticed that my resolve is weakening. Moggie has moved up from his position on the food cupboard where he was threatening a bowl of bananas. Archie is now on the edge of the table and Minou is trying to get between me and the keyboard. There is still half an hour until their tea time. Must resist.

On Tuesday last week we went to meet some Alpacas. Alex, is the lady whose sheep we minded last year and we have been discussing with her having a couple of lambs in our paddock. Alex also breeds Alpacas and invited us over to discuss the lambs and visit her animals. Before we went Mrs. Parish sat me down and made it very clear that I was not to bring home an Alpaca! The visit went well and we went with Alex to feed the Alpacas and I of course took the opportunity to have a little chat with them. They are quite odd looking animals (I was very diplomatic and did not mention this to them). I did think it would be quite cool to have some alpacas in our paddock but I was very diplomatic and did not mention this to Mrs. Parish!!

I am weakening and with 7 minutes to go I have given in to the pressure and am going to give them their tea. I also need to get the blog posted. I have just had an email from Anglo Al complaining about the lateness of the blog. I really have to go now as Archie has just fallen off the table.

By next week some kind of sanity will have returned to La Godefere, as we are having a visit from our friends from Weymouth, the famous Red Ramblers, a group from the Labour Party that we used to go walking with. We are having a sensible weekend of walking, eating, drinking and no doubt a lot of talking. Will let you know how it goes.

Bon jour ferie