Another sad week as we lost the last of our three hens. Poor Sylvia fell victim to the same illness as the other two and after a few days of declining health she passed away during the past week. She passed away in the night and it was not necessary “to go and see Giselle!” La Godefrere seems a little empty now with no hens pecking around the garden. I shall particularly miss little Sylvia who would follow me down to the bird feeder tree every morning chatting away and looking for any spilled seeds.

Sylvia RIP

The cats of course are doing what they can to fill the gap and are much in evidence in the garden. However, they don’t cluck or more importantly lay eggs! We decided that we should now maintain our natural interment arrangements and use the services of Fox Funerals to dispose of the body.

Our thoughts now turn to replacing the hens and we have decided to wait a couple of months. We don’t know what caused the hens to be ill and want to make sure any risks to new hens can be minimised. We have disinfected the hens house and cleaned all feeding and drinking equipment. Hopefully all will be well.

I reported last week that our IT was down after our live box died in an electrical storm. After an abortive visit last Monday when the store was closed Mrs. Parish returned on Tuesday and found the shop was open but there was a huge queue as loads of people had the same problem. Eventually a new livebox was received and duly installed. Of course, life is never simple and we found that while we had excellent wifi reception our old printer would not work under the new regime.

We decided that the best solution would be to buy a brand-new printer as we had had the old one for a number of years. So, off I go to the store in Mayenne and practice my French with a shop assistant to find out the best deal. I buy a printer which says on the box “easy installation in three simple steps”. Perfect, just what we wanted and so off home I went with high expectations. The installation was anything but easy. In fact, it would not work at all and kept saying there was a paper jam when there wasn’t even any paper in the machine. We took some bits out that would then not fit back into the machine.

So, we went back to the store. French customer services have not got a good reputation and often will insist that machines are sent back for repair rather than replace. It looked for some while that this is what would happen, leaving us with no printer. Eventually Mrs. Parish managed to convince them to give us a credit note to replace the printer. We returned home with the new printer and managed to get it started up with no paper jams. However, the printer seemed to have a mind of its own and set itself up as a network and refused to talk to our livebox and computers! I was expecting a disembodied voice to say “I can’t let you do that Dave”. After the computer Hal in the film 2001.

Mrs. Parish was in no mood to be beaten by a printer and locked herself away with the various bits of equipment. When she emerged there was only one winner and all the IT stuff is now behaving itself!

Work continues apace on our new roof. Once the weather improved Mark and his team soon got to work replacing the slates on the roof. One of the interesting things about having workmen on your roof is that when you go upstairs you can overhear their conversations. One day I was somewhat surprised to overhear Mark and his colleague also called Mark having a conversation about Gustav Klimt and Hieronymus Bosch. I know I shouldn’t make judgements but you don’t normally associate roofers with high art.

Mark asserts the importance of Klimt's contribution to the symbolist movement!

I mentioned this to Mark’s wife Jacqui and she reckoned that her Mark probably thought the conversation was about power tools! A little unkind but they were definitely talking about art and the two artists referred to. I think this must be the influence of France where of course everyone is an art expert!

Things are coming together all around our grounds. The roof is near to completion and we have guests coming into the gite on Saturday. The ants have been hard at work rebuilding ant city just up the path from the old nest. I have been down there today and have restored the signage to allow the full effect of the ant experience to be available to our visitors. We have made anew sign to advertise the attraction and I managed to move the plastic giant ants to the new site. I have also tidied up the surrounding grass and brambles so that the ants can be seen in all their activities.

New Ant City getting ready for the summer season

The World Cup has kicked off and on Saturday we assembled with friends at local bar in Oisseau to watch the French play in their first game against Australia. Being in France we had to watch football with food and we enjoyed saucisse et frites with some beer. There was a great atmosphere and everyone was wearing the blue of French colours and we started with a rousing rendition of La Marseillaise. The crowd were suitably noisy when the French scored a penalty. This was followed by depression as Australia equalised. Eventually the French scored the winner and everyone was happy in the bar. My friend Ian and I decided we should also celebrate with a rather large cognac.

Allez les bleus

It is now Monday evening and I am waiting to watch England play their first match, hopefully they will play well and win their first game. Anyway, we now have another three weeks of football and more eating, drinking and watching France. We are back to the bar on Thursday for the next French game.

Time to get properly prepared for the game with some wine to drink and some snacks to get me through the game. Come on England and on Thursday allez les bleus!

Bon jeu