There has been a radical change to my usual Sunday habit of disappearing for several hours indoors to write up the weekly blog. Mrs. Parish refers to my writer’s garret and warns that I will become pale and thin after shutting myself away in pursuit of writer’s inspiration. So this week I decide to take my laptop out into the garden so that I can be inspired by the sights and sounds of La Godefrere.

I discover that sitting at our garden table in the shade of the wisteria has a certain artistic feel to it and I can commune with nature. The other advantage is that as it is a nice sunny afternoon I can have next to me a nice drop of French Rose wine. A nice Cabernet d’Anjou from the Loire Valley. Just nicely chilled. I think I can now be inspired to produce some classic works of literature.

Mind you the first sounds of the garden are a couple of screeching Magpies that are dive bombing Archie. They are making a huge racket and so I have to get up to rescue Archie. Unfortunately, it is Archie’s own fault as earlier in the week he somehow managed to catch and kill a young, but rather large Magpie. He was carefully guarding it and growling at anyone who came near him. Mrs Parish tried the well tested broomstick to drive him away while I sneak in and collect the dead body and prepare for burial in the potager. Thankfully, the cats don't get too many birds but every now and again Archie moves like lightning to catch something!

Archie has now been rescued and has gone off to inspect his range of mouse holes around the garden, just in case there should be a nice juicy mouse. You would not believe that he has just had a rather large tea! The magpies are now in dispute with a couple of crows over access to our neighbour’s cherry tree. This tree is opposite the gates of Giselle’s house and so this has started Pepito of with a round of barking.

Access to La Godefrere, with the disputed cherry tree to the right

I reflect on the fact that I am witnessing quite a lot of aerial combat in and around the garden. As Archie walks down the garden, the little owl decides that he needs to join in the dive bombing and he buzzes Archie as he passes the owl perching tree. The owl in turn is then flown at by a couple of nesting blackbirds who think he is too close to their nest. They of course have to make a great fuss and a lot of noise. A blue tit then has the same feeling and tries his luck. The owl ignores them all and returns to his perching tree.

We are also starting to see high level aerial combat as there have been several visits by the hobby. The hobby is a specialist bird of prey who catches dragonflies in flight but also tries to catch unsuspecting swallows. The hobby is the master of flight and can turn very quickly and fly very fast. When he arrives the swallows gang up and mob the hobby to chase him off.

You would think that with such a large garden all the animals could live in peace but there always seems to be someone who is upset. It is not helped that the owls also get upset at night and as well as dive bombing the cats they shriek at them. 5 am in the morning last night I was awoken by shrieking owls. The sheep have now started baaing and of course this starts off the sheep in Giselle’s field. I think I mentioned somewhere about the “peace and quiet of rural France” as being one of the attractions of living here!

In contrast, this has been a week in which we have experienced the silence of the hens. Not our hens I hasten to reassure you. They are all fine and happy to be wandering around the garden. Emmeline still has the escaping bug and most days we notice that there are only 2 hens in the garden. So, we have to go and search for Emmeline who has jumped up on to the fence and down into the lane. In fact, where is Emmeline, I can see Christabel and Sylvia……… She was out in the lane again!

No, the hens I am referring to are those that were in the big hen houses that have recently been built between us and the village. There have been a number of these hen houses built recently as they combine a very large hen house with an accompanying filed so the hens can be let out during the day.  This means they can be categorised as free range and there has been an increase in these buildings as France does away with battery hens. The hens are let out around 10am each morning and are free to roam around a large field and they make quite a bit of noise. However, these hens are raised for sale to be eaten and this means that every couple of months the hens “disappear” and when you go past there are no hens on the field and there is an eerie silence!

The silence of the hens

The buzzard starling is now up on the roof pretending to be a crow and Vistor next door’s cockerel has started up with a range of crowing. The little owls, by the way, now have some young chicks and we can hear them from under the nest and from inside the gite. Every evening just before dusk the parent birds both start the feeding process and are flying out to catch insects and worms by landing in our garden and chasing things across the grass. It is amazing to sit and watch them hunt.

On the subject of hunters, I was out on my bike this morning and was cycling along a lane with fields on either side with a grass field on my right. I noticed a fox running across the field towards the lane and he was being chased and dive bombed by a Magpie. The fox was so intent on watching what the Magpie was doing that he did not see or hear me and crossed the road less than 10 yards ahead of me!

This week we have completed a small project to finish off the creation of a “sitootery”. What you may well ask is a sitootery? In fact, it is simply somewhere you can “sit out”. Mrs Parish and I first came across one while visiting a stately home in Norfolk. We saw a sign post which said “to the sitootery”. Intrigued, Mrs Parish asked what was a sitootery and in my best Scottish accent I guessed that it was some where you sit oot! And so it was. It originates from Scotland and means a place to sit and relax outside a house. So, I have been keen chez La Godefrere to have our own sitootery. We have a seat behind the gite and this has had a wire cover across the entrance to it to stop the hens escaping. This week I went and bought a gate and concreted in a fence post, put up the gate and now we have a proper sitootery. There is even a sign on the gate!!

The sitootery, behind the gite

In France, most churches have bells which every day ring at 6am 12 noon and 6pm. This apparently is the Angelus bell calling people to worship. But as with all things French this has been subordinated to the French meals. So, the 6am bell is when you get up and have breakfast. The 12-noon bell is the most important as this tells everyone to stop work and to go and have lunch. You will notice that the traffic increases significantly at 12 as people leave work to go home or to the local restaurant. The 6pm bell is the sign that it is the end of the working day and time to go home for supper. A very useful reminder and as there are several churches around us we can always hear the noon bell regardless of wind direction.

I have now come to a slight flaw in my garden project as at the table I can’t get an internet signal to be able to post the blog on my website. So indoors to the garret. But it has been a useful experiment to produce an open-air blog and certainly the sights and sounds of the garden have been an inspiration, the wine also helped and going indoors does have the advantage of allowing me to top up my glass’

Bonne santé