As I predicted last week the weather has once again been awful and we have had another week of giboulees (icy showers). Even the cheery woman on the French weather has found it difficult to maintain her cheerful enthusiasm as every evening she shows weather charts showing nothing but rain or if you live in the Alps or Pyrenees, then bucket loads of snow and reports on another wave of “perturbations”. However it seems that her dresses have become more colourful and brighter as the week progressed. Perhaps she was compensating for having to announce such dreadful weather. In fact all the French weather presenters are dressed very stylishly; just as if they are off out to some night club or posh restaurant as soon as the weather report is given. Maybe they do.

No thoughts of night clubs or posh restaurants here at La Godefrere. If it is raining then we find indoor jobs to do and so this week we decided to decorate the lounge area. One big advantage of living in an old converted farm house is that we have lovely old oak beams. Not only do they look nice but they don’t need painting. So in a large room like our lounge area we have a large ceiling area which needs no paint so an immediate bonus there. For those of you out there who have painted ceilings, you will know how much hard work ceilings are. The first problem we find is in choosing paint and wallpaper.  This is made more complicated by having to read the instructions in French. Fortunately  satin and matt are the same in French and the range of choice in our DIY store is not too big so in the end we were able to make our choices without too much difficulty. French wallpaper is great. You have to put the paste on the wall rather than the paper and the pattern does not go right to the side of the paper so that you don’t need to match the pattern. It makes papering an awful lot easier.

Mind you Mrs. Parish and I make a ruthlessly efficient wall papering team. We have built our expertise over 40 years of decorating. Mrs. Parish pastes and I put the paper on the wall and cut where necessary. We also like to listen to music while decorating and nearly always we have some Bob Dylan. Kind of a tradition and it also has the benefit of me practising for singing to the moles although Mrs. Parish was not too impressed! She retaliated by reminding me of our first experience of painting and decorating in our first house in Exeter 42 years ago. On that time Mrs. Parish unkindly reminded me that then we were listening to the cricket and England playing Australia for the Ashes. We got smashed at Lords, a depressing experience which seems to have been repeated too often.

Any way we got the lounge painted and wallpapered in a couple of days and we have now been putting back all the furniture and pictures on the walls and reorganising and thinning out our collection of CDs and books. It is looking very nice.

Some great excitement earlier in the week when on Monday morning we were visited by two gendarmes, who turned up at our door. They were not from the local police station but were in fact from the National Office for Hunting and Wild Animals. So even more excitement as we didn’t even know there was such a police force. In France hunting is a big thing and almost every local commune has an official hunt and they also have quite a lot of wild animals, boars, bears and even wolves. So hence the need for some sort of law and order and a national police force. The Gendarmes wanted to know if we had seen a recent incident involving some hunters nearby. In fact we had seen some hunters in the field next door where there is a herd of cattle. We had noticed that the bull and cows had formed a circle with the calves in the middle. The bull and cows were all facing outwards. It was a bit like a circle of wagons in the Wild West! We then saw that there were dogs in the field and the cows were forming a defence. I went and got my binoculars and saw that with the dogs were several hunters with their fluorescent jackets. I then saw that they were carrying a rather large animal which I assumed was a deer as we do see them around here.

The gendarmes told us that they had had a report of a wild boar being killed by these hunters who were not the official hunt from the commune. The large animal I saw being carried could well have been a boar. The gendarmes were concerned at a possible illegal hunt as hunters are supposed to report their kills to the local mayor’s office. So intrigue and mystery and we were asked if we would make an official statement if necessary. The gendarmes went off to make some more inquiries.

A problem of the bad weather is that the cats go a bit wild or wilder than usual. They are keener to stay indoors and are very keen to get back if we manage to get them outside. It is a problem as once outside they disappear into the shed to keep out of the rain and so are much more inactive than usual. This often means that once indoors they take the opportunity to run around madly. Last week we got home from going to the supermarket and all three cats arrived to greet us and surrounded the front door. So there was no way we could get in without the cats also getting in. So in they came and within minutes chaos reigned. Archie was in the sink trying to fish out bits of food, Minou had jumped into one of the shopping bags and Moggie was up on the worktop and trying to get into a bag of frozen fish and managed to get his claws into it so that it split completely once I tried to pick it up. There was no let up as the cats then began to try out the various boxes that we were using. 

Minou in box

The cats also have a very warped sense of time. In the afternoons they get fed at 4pm. Without fail they appear around 3pm and maintain that it is now “almost 4pm” and therefore it is fair game to demand their tea. Because they are sat out in the rain we make the mistake of feeling sorry for them and so let them in to wait until tea time. They take this as a sign of weakness and usually all three then get on the table to plead for tea. 

Is it teatime yet?

I sometimes think that it would be quicker to just go mad now rather than drag it out. Now the cats are all draped around the sofas fast asleep and looking like angels. Just wait until 8pm when according to the cats it will be nearly supper time (at 9pm) and the torture will start with an hour‘s torment until we can give them supper and get them outside for the night.

So it is the 1st March today (10 more days until my birthday) and despite the awful weather we saw the first signs of spring being around the corner. In a moment when the rain stopped for a while we went out for some fresh air and saw a small clump of primroses just coming into bloom. Maybe the weather is going to change.

One advantage of some bad weather is that I got to watch the rugby yesterday and today. Although France lost last night and England lost today so it has been a bit disappointing. Still I should now go and have little aperif and drown my sorrows. It also will help to fend off the cat madness!

Bonne santé