I mentioned in the blog last week that I thought this week might be strange as we awaited the arrival of our prospective daughter in law Emma with 10 friends for a French style hen do. Little did I anticipate quite how strange it would be?

The week started with a potential disaster as we had purchased several “gifts” to adorn our gite and to convert it to the “Hen House”. My daughter Amy made a suitable sign for it and we went to our local tacky shop to get balloons and other decorations for the gite. These included a very lovely sash with the words “J’enterre ma vie de jeune fille” which literally means I bury my life as a young woman. This is the French for hen do and typically over dramatised. The tacky shop had loads of crazy materials but we went for quality and bought a very nice hen hat, a model of a bride and groom and just to set it off a box of strawberry flavoured tiny penises. All things that we knew Emma would appreciate. It is also interesting to know that for country renowned for its high culture the French can also stoop quite low.

Anyway on arriving home we found that the model bride and groom had been damaged in transit and the brides head had been broken off. This could have created the wrong image and put a potential damper on the hen party. So off I go to my workshop. It is at times like this that a man needs his workshop. I try superglue but trying to join a head onto the neck provides insufficient purchase and it won’t stick.  I decide that major surgery is required and get out my drill, pliers and some nails. It is clear that a pin needs to be inserted in the neck and a hole in the head to join the two together. Fortunately I have a very small drill bit which is suitable to the task. By this time I have slipped into Frankenstein mode and thoughts of the film the Bride of Frankenstein come to mind. Eventually the head stays stuck on using the pin and it looks as good as new (except for the necklace that has now appeared). Mrs. Parish decides it is best not to tell Emma.

Brideshead Revisited !!

Monday evening and a minibus full of hens arrives for three days of madness at La Godefrere. Emma is quite crazy which is why we love her so much and her 10 friends seemed equally mad. They immediately went off to see the ant experience and spent the next two days singing “we built ant city” especially after a few drinks. Emma had a list of things she wanted to do and so on Tuesday we went to see the Alpacas at our friend’s farm. The hens went all clucky over the alpacas and baby goats. They especially loved Ron the alpaca. He is a bit of a character as he was born prematurely and was hand reared in the house. Consequently he doesn’t think he is an alpaca and tends to be a bit of a loner in the alpaca world. Of course when people arrive he is in his element as he likes people. However he is a bit inappropriate and tends to put his head between peoples legs. He quickly became known to the hens as “rapey ron” but everyone had to get a selfie with Ron.

Emma and friends and Ron

The next thing on Emma’s list was to get pizza but not from the shop or restaurant but from the pizza machine in the local carwash. It is a strange French phenomenon that in most towns you can find an automatic car wash, often together with large washing and drying machines. In addition there is always an automatic pizza machine which cooks your pizza while you wait. Mrs. Parish and I have never been tempted to try them. But Emma was determined. Of course with 11 of them to get pizza and each pizza taking 3 minutes to cook there was a logistic problem of knowing who each pizza was for and keeping them warm. In the end names were written on the boxes and the pizzas returned to the hen house. It seems that the pizzas were not a great success and most ended up in the bin. Another great French conundrum of a country famed for its culinary style but can also serve up uneatable pizzas!

Hens at the pizza machine

We made up for this by going to the local restaurant for lunch the next day. The Briccius serves working people and is always full. It serves a three course menu with cider and coffee for just 12 Euros (about £9). So it is popular with workmen whose eyes were out on stalks when I arrived with 12 very attractive young women (I strategically include Mrs. Parish in this description). We had a great meal. Our neighbour Daniel also could not believe his eyes when he saw all the lovely hens. Of course then Daniel had to resort to jokes (all his jokes have to do with sex, I’m afraid he is a very typical Frenchman). So he asked about how I was coping and how tired I must be.

The hens seemed to consume quite a large amount of various forms of drink and on their last day disappeared to the recycling centre with boxes and bags full of empty bottles. The other thing that fascinated the hens were the maize fields that border our sheep field and both sides of the lane. For some bizarre reason they had brought with them a dinosaur mask and so disappeared off to make Jurassic park movies in the maize fields.

So on Thursday the hens departed on their minibus and it has been very quiet since then! We enjoyed their visit and they were great fun. Most importantly, Emma had a great time. We may even have created an annual event as they are threatening an annual “henniversary”.

In other events we have had mole and magpie incidents. Mrs. Parish has been engaged in seek and destroy missions against the moles and has been laying traps and then relaying them as the mole has moved around the orchard. In the week I was returning to the orchard when Mrs.Parish called me over and showed me the mole trap which had a mole still alive but trapped by the leg. Unusually Mrs. Parish was uncertain what to do with the mole. I suggested she hit it with the spade as the quickest way to despatch it. The mole is now an ex mole and buried in the trap hole. We have seen no activity since so the 42 mole hills in the orchard must have been made by just the one mole!

The second incident involved Moggie and a magpie. I came out into the garden and saw Moggie flash past running at full pelt to the bottom of the orchard. Next I heard magpies screaming and came round the hedge to see them dive bombing Moggie who had by the neck a young magpie. The parents were flying at Moggie and pecking him when they could. I quickly ran at Moggie and forced him to release the bird which wasn’t badly injured and managed to fly off.

So now it is a quiet Sunday afternoon. I have managed to do all the ironing of the bedclothes from the hen house (while watching spaghetti westerns) and all the other chores are done It has been a rainy day so Mrs. Parish has retreated to her sewing garret. The cats have disappeared off to find somewhere dry to sleep and I have a little quiet interlude. A chance to reflect and to write up the blog. 

Only momentary though as the cats are beginning to assemble at the window and Mrs. Parish is mentioning that she has a dry throat. Hmm, not quite time for a drink so it will have to be a cup of tea. We have plenty of tea bags as the hens, bless them, each brought a pack of tea bags for us (and a bottle of brandy and a bottle of whisky). They are all lovely and welcome to come back at any time.

Bon Dimanche