Well it has been an exciting and action packed week which has ended with sadness as I have just heard that my father in law died this morning. I considered whether I should cancel this week’s blog as a mark of respect but actually he would not have wanted that. He had a great sense of humour and so I shall dedicate this week’s blog to Gordon Edwards, always known as granddad and a man who was deeply loved by all his family and the one’s like me associated by marriage. He was the perfect granddad and my most treasured memories are of him in his beloved garden or allotment with my children “helping him”. He never got cross and always had time for them. He was 88 and died peacefully in his sleep this morning, apparently after a bit of a troubled night in which he was a bit confused and kept shouting for a boat to “get me out of here”! I told you he had a sense of humour. 

Of course with granddad being ill Mrs. Parish went over to England be with her mum and dad on Thursday, leaving me in sole charge at La Godefrere. This may or may not be a good thing. I made sure I had a full briefing so that I could operate all the highly complex washing machines etc. Mrs. Parish is a great believer in writing lists whenever she has to do something. She is ruthlessly efficient so I decide to follow suit and now have a house strewn with lists. Lists of household tasks, a shopping list, a garden list, a gite list, a list of cat tasks etc, etc. In fact I even have a list detailing all the other lists as I can’t remember where I left them. And of course being on my own I have started to discuss with myself what task is next to be done or what should go on the list. I think talking to yourself is not generally considered to be a good thing. Some of the time I am actually talking to myself in French which must be good. Well at least I agree!

Being on my own is good for my French as I have to deal with the day to day issues. On Thursday I went into the vet and arranged for my son’s dog to see the vet before he returns to England. The dog has to be checked and wormed so I had to book an appointment and to explain that Tommo will not accept a worming tablet (un comprime vermifuge). He continually spits them out so I asked for an injection (un picure). I was quite chuffed and after that booked a table for lunch the next day at a restaurant in Brece, a small village near us with a great riverside walk so we could take the dog for a walk and have lunch.

The walk was not without incident. Tommo is a dog with three legs who especially likes sitting in water. With the recent rains the river Colmont was in full flow and moving very quickly so we actually had to keep Tommo out of the river. We eventually found several large puddles for him and a bit of the river which was not deep or fast flowing. Tommo was very pleased and proceeded to get very waterlogged. Tommo is not all that good with cows as he tends to bumble over to them, which is not always wise. On the walk we came across a field with a lot of bullocks. Now of course I am an expert when it comes to bullocks (yes and other spellings too). We have had them in the fields next to us so I led the way and ushered the bullocks away with no problem.

In due course we came to another field and this contained more cattle who were all lying across the footpath. In this field were some small calves. So we were a bit concerned that they would not like Tommo being too close. So I went to cross the small bridge into the field to do my Cowherd Graham impression and the cows with the calves began to get up and move away. There was one cow lying across the path that looked at me a bit defiantly so I walked a bit closer and then it got up revealing itself to be a bull!!!! It looked at me again and with a fairly dismissive nod of the head it moved away. Unfortunately it moved further along the path to join the other cows. I picked up a small stick which somehow reassured me as I edged closer to the herd of cattle always judging the distance between me and the bull and me and the bridge back out of the field. Behind me creeping along were my son and his fiancée Emma and of course Tommo, ahead was the herd of cattle who had now all decided to move onto the line of the footpath.

It was a standoff and at this point of tension our nerve failed us and we decided to beat a humiliating retreat and went back across the path and found a way up to a road which took us around the obstacle. At this point you might be thinking about the heading and confronting a rampaging bull!! I claim artistic licence as the reason for a slight exaggeration. There was a bull and he did look at me and was a bit upset at having to move. We eventually arrived back at the car with a very tired dog who had done 12k on three legs. So we promised him a bone from the butcher on the way home. We went for lunch at the Briccius, a small but popular restaurant in the village and discovered that I had managed to book a table for the correct day and time!!. It serves an “ouvriers” menu each day. This is a three course meal (with at least three choices for each course), which also includes a bottle of cider and a bottle of red wine as well as coffee. All this for 12 Euros (£9.50). It is not only excellent value but really nicely cooked as well. You can tell how good it is by the number of vans outside and the fact that it is full every day.

On the way back we called in to see Emile and Yvette and to give me more chance to practice my French as I had to explain why Mrs. Parish was not with us and how the dog lost his leg. They were pleased to see us but I was quite worn out by the time we left and we still had to get the bone from the butcher. Unfortunately after so much good work my French pronunciation let me down. The French for bone is “os” and I completely forgot that in French you do not pronounce an “s” at the end of a word. So as I was asking for “os” I should have asked for an “o”. The lady in the butchers looked totally confused and I think she thought I was trying to sell Tommo for dog meat or to turn into sausages. Eventually after me doing an impression of a dog eating a bone they understood and Tommo got his bone. He then had a fine evening demolishing it out in the courtyard and keeping a wary eye out for the cats who were looking enviously at the bone.

Tommo has now gone back to England so it is just me and the cats. They realise I am on my own and have been going full out to break my will and either get extra food or more in time. But I am OK as I have my lists and if they are not on the list for extra food then I politely point this out to them. I think I probably have at least another week before having to go back to England for Granddad’s funeral so the battle of wills continues. At least when the cats are inside I can talk to them, which is not quite so mad is it? In the autumn sun it is really beautiful here today.

Finally this week I return to my memories of Granddad. He loved cats and he and granny had all the strays in the neighbourhood turning up at their door. They were never turned away and many ended up as permanent residents.  If he lived here all the cats would easily convince him to let them in and become indoor cats and I suspect that all of a sudden we would get strays turning up here. Very close behind his love of gardening, his grandchildren and cats was his love of a nice sherry. With Granddad it was never too early for a sherry or two after which he would have a little doze in the armchair, usually with a cat sat on his lap.

I am sure Granddad is having a sherry somewhere right now. They don’t sell sherry in France so I will have to have a little drop of wine to drink a toast to his memory.

Au revoir et repose en paix, grandpere