It has been a week full of rain and more rain. This good and bad. Good because it has reduced the number of tasks on my list considerably as I have been unable to get outside to do them and bad as I have run out of indoor jobs to do and been going stir crazy. It hasn’t helped being on my own this week as Mrs. Parish is still back in Britain helping our daughter Jo with her new house and garden.

It started raining last weekend and carried on almost continuously until Friday morning. By Wednesday I had an empty ironing basket, had caught up with all my emails. I even got as far as sorting out my wardrobe and getting rid of things I no longer wear. It proved a useful task as I also found things I didn’t know I had and found a shirt from last Christmas that I had put away and forgotten about. I also about this time started talking to myself. Some of the time I was conversing with myself in French so I reckoned it was not a bad thing and no cause to worry.

However I did decide that I needed to find some things to occupy my mind as well as practical activities. As we continued to have a tomato glut I considered what to do with this. I discovered the grandparents in the gite were vegetarians. They have now become tomatoarians and have even developed a red skin tone such were the number of tomatoes I insisted they ate. I also decided I should make lots of tomato sauce and then ratatouille to put in the freezer. So there I am on Wednesday afternoon, outside the rain is plummeting down and there is a threat of thunder and lightning. Inside I am surrounded by giant tomatoes and pots and pans. Slicing up the tomatoes and making sauce means that there is a red mess everywhere and I am struck that this must look like a scene out of Frankenstein. Of course I then have to hobble around the kitchen pretending to be Igor making a monster solely from tomatoes, courgettes (we also have a courgette glut) and aubergines (from the shop).  I now discover that there is a film entitled "Killer tomatoes eat France"!!!!

At this point I consider that maybe I do not have enough to occupy my mind and so I resort to the guardian cryptic crossword and look for some old puzzles set by Araucaria (all the setters have nicknames). These are some of the best crossword puzzles around and sadly Araucaria died last year but his puzzles are still online. This not only kept my mind active but it also did not involve me in talking to myself and particularly got me away from mad scientists which must be a good thing.

Fortunately on Friday the sun came out and this was a good and bad thing. Good because the people in the gite were leavings and as there were 7 people (including 2 Jedi Warriors) staying this meant a complete change of the bedding for 7 people and then washing and drying. We have 2 washing machines so this is good for productivity and so I was able to get some stuff washed and dried on Friday and the rest out on Saturday as well as all the towels for 7 people. The bad side of this is that with the stop in rain came the sun and it has become very hot. After the washing comes cleaning up the gite as we had some more guests coming in on Saturday. And of course I am coping with all this on my own.

As being organised is not my strong suit this means that I am trying to be in about seven places all at the same time. The seven places are all at different parts of the house and gite which involves an awful lot of walking. In addition to all this I have to go shopping and feed the cats, who I have to say have been no help whatsoever and indeed seem to have managed to find themselves sunny spots from which to watch my manic rushing around and from time to time see if they can run across in front of me to see if I fall over or drop clean bedding. I also have all the cooking to do.

I mention to Mrs. Parish how hard I am working. She is less than sympathetic and encourages me by saying “welcome to my world, perhaps you would like to try that with three small children.” I think that 3 small cats can’t be much worse but decide it is probably not diplomatic to say so.

So, by Saturday night I am completely knackered but clever enough to have taken precautions. When I went shopping on Saturday morning I paid a visit to our local Charcuterie and bought a “plat du jour” which is an already cooked meal. So all I needed to do was put the meal in the microwave and had a superb meal of “Roti de porc orloff”, a French classic of loin of pork stuffed with bacon and cheese, in less than five minutes. It came with sauté potatoes and the meal only cost 4 euros! I also found the energy to open a rather nice bottle of red wine and finished the meal with some cheese and then a beautiful “mousse au chocolat” also from the charcuterie. The rest of the week I have been cooking for myself and including tomatoes with every meal.

One of the advantages of being home alone is it does give me more chance to practice my French. On other people, not just by talking to myself! So doing the shopping I can have a chat with the people in the shop and also with my neighbour Daniel who I now regularly meet in the lane when he is walking his dog. The more I practice, the more confident I become.

While I was in our local town on Saturday there was a French wedding taking place at the Mairie. In France the law requires a civil wedding at the town hall and officiated by the mayor. Yet another task performed by the mayor. Couples can choose to go to the church after for a blessing if they wish. French weddings are very noisy affairs and there is a cavalcade of cars following the bride to the town hall and all of them blowing their car horns and many of them decorated. After the wedding there is usually a big reception with of course lots of eating and drinking and making more noise. What is also interesting is that French women retain their maiden names for all legal matter in France and all legal documents refer to that. They can of course choose to use their husbands name for other matters.

I have kept the bad news till last. I have to report that under cover of the teeming rain the moles have made a major incursion into the orchard and thus breeching the exclusion zone. I went out into the garden on Friday after about 5 days of rain and for the first time this summer there were about half a dozen molehills across the orchard. The moles had clearly had intelligence that Mrs. Parish was away in Britain and thus the La Godefrere rapid response assault unit was out of the country. I noticed this morning that there were several more molehills. I have got out the tractor and driven around the orchard while singing. This is my usual strategy and can deter the moles. I fear that they are too well established and that as soon as she returns I will have to send Mrs. Parish on a seek and destroy mission. The moles may regret their reckless actions.

Of course one other downside of having 7 people in the gite is that having done all the washing and drying I end up with an ironing mountain and I have run out of ironing DVDs. I still have a number of Jean Renoir French films to watch so will have to get them out. However watching films in French with sub titles is more complex when you are ironing as I need to concentrate on reading them. This means that the ironing is even slower than usual and also more dangerous as not watching where the iron goes can lead to burnt fingers!

Anyway, Mrs. Parish returns tomorrow night so calm will return to La Godefrere. In the meantime I am planning to have steak and frites tonight with ummm, some tomatoes! Time for a drink, I think I deserve one.

Bon weekend