Reports from our morning patrol have arrived at the command centre of a significant mole incursion into the La Godefrere exclusion zone. After a quiet winter it seems the moles have launched a pre spring offensive, trying to sneak in under cover of the wet weather. This has a number of effects in terms of making it difficult to maintain our patrols and with reduced visibility. It of course also makes it impossible to mount a retaliatory attack. Our crack counter insurgency squad (AKA Mrs. Parish) is unable to utilise our anti mole traps. The wet weather means that moles push wet earth ahead of them which set off the traps before the moles reach them.

We are reduced to tracking mole movements and carrying out reconnaissance work into mole territory in the big field. Our latest aerial reconnaissance photo is included to show the main mole defensive “maginot line” halfway up the big field and within mole tunnelling distance of the exclusion zone. Meanwhile we are not standing idle and our troops are in strict training so we can plan our counter offensive as soon as the weather improves. Mrs. Parish has been in her potager doing lots of digging so that she is ready when the time comes. A kind of dig for victory type of thing.

Aerial reconnaissance picture of the mole defensive line

So, it has been another very wet and windy week and the opportunities to get out to do some work have been limited. A key task for the week for me has been guttering. From my successful guttering of our storage barn last year I have been asked to reprise my talents on the lean to shed next the house. The lean to shed is an old French style woodshed which is fixed against the end wall of the house. It serves as a shed for the tractor and other garden equipment as well as somewhere we can keep the car. It also houses the cats’ bijoux apartment. It is open fronted and there is a door sized gap on the side which leads out to our woodshed and as such this is a busy thoroughfare as we collect kindling and logs on a regular basis. Hence the request for guttering.

So, every time there is a window in the weather I have got changed into my working gear which includes my cool new French outside working jacket. Mrs. Parish thought I looked a bit cold when working outside and not wanting to give any excuses she spotted these jackets at our local market in Ambrieres. The market lady only had a few left and was selling them at 10 Euros each, a real bargain. The jackets are blue chequered and lined inside with some fleecy stuff which is really nice and warm. So fully kitted out I ventured forth to put up the guttering, together with a down pipe which eventually will fit onto a water butt. One of the problems with the area between the two shed is that the wind whistles through there at times. This of course is no barrier to an Artisan Gutterer. The weather has been so changeable that I have had to work in one hour chunks. Anyway today I finally finished the guttering and of course it promptly rained which at least allowed me to check it worked OK.

The guttering is fine and I can now safely send Mrs. Parish to collect the logs in the morning without risk of her being stuck in the mud.

While I was atop the ladder in the occasional gaps in the weather I was kept company by a couple of buzzards who were circling around over the house and the fields immediately surrounding the house. The two buzzards were giving an impressive flying display and it seemed to me that they were a pair and involved in a courtship display as they were flying together and constantly calling to each other. Today one of the buzzards landed in one of our trees in the big field which has an old crow’s nest in it. The buzzard sat and poked about in it for some time. Now, I know from my time working as a volunteer at the RSPB reserve at Arne in Dorset, that buzzards have very active sex lives and at Arne we often spotted them “at it” using the artificial nests provided for Ospreys. So far no sign of actual buzzard sex here but will keep an eye on them, discretely of course, don’t want my already suspect reputation with the French neighbours to be tarnished even further.

When the sun came out today, it was almost spring like. Birds were singing and with the wind dropping it was quite warm. We even managed to drink our morning cup of tea outside. I even managed to repair the matting which covers our pergola. This had been seriously damaged by the strong winds. This morning I managed to get up to nail it down. No sooner had I finished than Moggie had climbed up and was then walking along the matting and trying to bite it. I contented myself by waving my hammer at him and swearing profusely. He didn’t seem to notice.

There have been some strange happenings next door at Daniel and Giselle’s. All week they have had another dog and we wondered what was happening. Their Jack Russell, Pepito is a typical French dog who lives outside in a kennel in a small run. His job is to bark when any person (or cat) comes by. Pepito is a funny dog and pines when Giselle and Daniel are not there and some afternoons he can be barking most of the time. All week Pepito has been mostly silent apart from when people or cats come by. He has been kept company by the new arrival who we discover is called Ipsy and is a bitch belonging to a friend who is in hospital. Well she seems to get on with Pepito as he has stopped a lot of his barking. Despite the fact that he is entertaining bitch, Pepito is the perfect gentleman and while he shares the kennel during the day he refuses to go in there with Ipsy at night!! Daniel has had to make another covered area for him. Unfortunately Ipsy has now gone home and this afternoon, Pepito has been back to barking lots. Our English neighbour Peter brought back from a recent trip to England an ultrasonic zapper which is supposed to stop dogs barking. Of course the problem is that you can’t hear the ultrasonic sound and therefore can’t be sure it’s working. Peter has tried zapping Pepito but it has not stopped him barking!

On Friday we were pleased to see Emile and Yvette arrive. Emile has been in hospital with a hernia problem but they couldn’t operate for this as he had a heart problem. In the end he has had a pacemaker fitted and only came out of hospital at the beginning of the week. So we met bionic French farmer, the six million Euro man. Although he does not yet have bionic powers and Yvette is going to have problems stopping him working. He was saying to us that he could start driving his tractor as that was not real work!

Well, it Sunday evening and I have returned to the blog after a very nice meal and a specially nice bottle of wine. So I am nice and relaxed. This week my good friend Alan is coming for a visit along with his son, Dan and his partner and her two children. So it should be good fun and of course it brings a return match for the Backgammon trophy so some tense evenings of fierce competition to come.

To add to my relaxed feeling, a nice coffee with a small Calvados (or maybe a large one).

A bientot