It has been a week full of variety both in terms of the weather and of strange encounters. We started the week in boiling sunshine and almost too hot during the day to do much. It even remained light and warm till late in the evening and on a couple of nights (when there was no football) I stayed outside until after the sun set to watch the night animals come out.

In the field next to the gite there were two foxes patrolling the field and seeking to catch mice. Interestingly they were not interested in the three hares in the same field. I suppose the foxes realised that they could not catch a full grown hare in a race and so just ignored them. The hares clearly were confident that they were not at risk as they showed no signs of running away even when a fox passed quite close by. I also watched the couple of Little Owls that are nesting on the far side of the field. They were flying to and from a couple of dead trees where I have seen them before. Just after the sun had set and it was starting to get darker out came the bats and they were flying around catching insects all around the gite. The numbers of bats are now increasing as the number of prey insects increases as the weather gets warmer. Finally I saw a roe deer in the same field. Walking back to the house I even saw three cats prowling around our courtyard!

The weather has now broken and we have had rain for the past 2 days, although it has now finally stopped raining and so Mrs. Parish has ceased her jam making and like a creature set free has disappeared out into the garden. With all this wet and warm weather everything is growing and becoming ready to pick including lots of fruit and this week Mrs. Parish has repeated her currant endeavours with gooseberry picking which also seems to involve nibbing! Anyway we now have a load of gooseberry jam, which tastes a lot better than you might think.

On Friday we were invited by our neighbour Giselle to come and pick some cherries from the trees in her orchard. This year is a bumper one for cherries although a lot have split and an even greater number have been eaten by crows. We wondered why there were great gatherings of crows that were lined up along the telephone wires near to us. It was a bit like a scene out of the Birds with the crows looking quite threatening. Giselle told us she had to fight off the crows and this of course explained a few strange things. Over the past week we have heard at the back of our house the noise of a radio programme coming from Giselle’s direction. We thought this unusual as she is usually quite quiet. We also noticed from time to time Giselle shouting loudly. Now this happens from time to time when Daniel is around but these noises came when he was at work. 

We discovered that the radio and Giselle shouting were attempts to keep the crows away. When we picked our way through Giselle’s maze of a garden to find the cherry trees we discovered more macabre methods of scaring crows. At first there were bizarre collections of crows feathers tied to together and hung on fences. I presume these were to send a message to the crows that this was the likely outcome if they came too close. If that was not enough when I climbed up into the cherry tree (avoiding the various bits of string tied to branches to be trip hazards for the crows) I came to the plastic models of crows with a large spike through them. I don’t know about the crows but it scared the life out of me, such that I almost fell off the ladder. It is me that gets sent up the ladder as Daniel doesn’t like even small heights and Giselle and Mrs. Parish have obviously concluded that I am expendable. If all goes well, they get the good cherries before the crows, if it goes badly well C’est la vie!!

Having managed to avoid all the anti crow measures and the dodgy ladder we managed to get a large bucket full of cherries which I have to say taste lovely. So we have cherries and now apricots form the market. These have been made into apricot jam and will go down well with French bread for breakfast.

The World Cup continues but unfortunately France lost to Germany. Why is it always the Germans who end my footballing dreams? When England managed to get beyond the qualifying round we always went out on penalties to the Germans. Now I transfer my allegiance to France and what happens we come up against the Germans. At least the French have the good sense to lose in normal time and not to extend hope only to see it dashed away in a penalty shoot out. But the French have a more gallic shrug approach to things. For the French team did better than expected and to help move on the Tour de France started yesterday and there is nothing more important in sport to the French than the tour, even if it did start this time in Yorkshire. For the next three weeks the French will be glued to the cycling.  Mrs. Parish has been encouraging me to get a bicycle and I fear that three weeks of constant pictures of bicycles will bring the subject up again.

The neighbours down the lane have been excelling themselves this week with plans and developments in their grand vision for their gardens. It started with the erection of the grand fountain on the concrete outside their house. It is a rather large two level fountain. I said I thought it looked rather grand and was told that there is supposed to be a statue which goes on the top but that this had suffered some damage and they were considering some sort of replacement. We are expecting an invite to the opening and turning on of the fountain. We reckon that it requires fireworks and some sort of orchestra playing Handel’s water music to do it proper justice. Maybe the local Mayor could officiate? I think they have plans to create a lake eventually and it clearly will be something to rival Versailles when it is all finished. They go back to England this week so there will be a lull in activity down the lane.

Talking of gardens we continue to develop our own gardens here at La Godefrere, although perhaps not on quite the same grand scale. Mrs. Parish has been working to develop both the veg garden and a flower garden in front of the patio area. This is now looking really nice with a collection of flowers. We have also been working on creating a nature walk around the grounds and in particular around the big hay field. This has involved tackling enormous bramble patches and we have now got a path right around the field and have created a couple of loops in the path where it goes through what was previously full of bramble. This will create some quiet spaces where wildlife can thrive and where we or guests can sit in peace and quiet. We of course have already discovered and enhanced our Ant Experience which was recently officially opened by Clare Moody MEP!! I have taken some photos showing the gardens and the nature path and how these have developed. You can find these on the website under Garden Project.

Finally in our eclectic week we have made some new friends. Since we have been in France we have been taking French lessons and as well as Mrs. Parish and I there are two others Mike, an Englishman and Bill who originally came from the USA and finished up in France via working in the Middle East and in Africa. He invited Mrs. Parish and me to lunch last week and to meet his wife Myriam who is originally from Belgium. Myriam has worked for the UN and in Embassies while Bill is involved with a Removal Company that specialises in moving people in and out of the Middle East and Africa. They have lived in Beirut, Tehran, Saudi Arabia as well as in East Africa. (I think they are probably CIA agents really). Anyway we mustn’t mention that, but we had a great lunch and afternoon and Bill and I played a few games of Backgammon and spent some time talking about some of the fascinating and dangerous places they have lived. Not quite what we expected when we moved to France!!

No football tonight but the second stage of the Tour de France is about to finish so I think it would be in order to have a small drink to celebrate. That is a good thing about France, there is always something worth celebrating with a drink!