After last week’s cat free offering it was inevitable that the cats would hit back and force themselves back into the limelight. Petit appears to have fully settled into his new home and the other two have accepted the fact that the new one is here to stay and so they had better reconcile him to the regime and show him a few tricks.

The first rule seems to be that cats come first and so as soon they are let in to the house for an evening warm up they head for a comfy spot to warm up and have a sleep. This warm spot is however usually me and so instead of two cats sitting on me I now have three. Archie goes for the legs, Moggie the lap and this leaves Petit with my chest to snuggle into.

The cats relax!

It means that for at least an hour I am unable to move (Mrs. Parish, rather unkindly, says that for me to achieve this state does not require cats!). It does require pre planning so that I have reading material and the TV zapper within easy reach. This state is only relieved by the mention of supper and the cats immediately come to life and head for the cat food cupboard. Of course, supper is served outside and the contract specifies that the cats now remain outside on guard duty until the morning.

Supper can sometimes be a special supper with leftovers from dinner. Such is the premier position of the cats that they take priority and so I hear Mrs. Parish saying “don’t eat all the fish pie/cottage pie make sure you leave some for the cats’ supper. And make sure you leave some mashed potato for the hens!” So, there goes my second helping for the benefit of the cats and hens. The leftovers then have to be hidden away or else the cats will help themselves. The mashed potato goes into the fridge. Then the problem is that the mashed potato is too cold for the hens and has to be warmed up!

So, Petit has arrived at a luxury hotel, with full waiter service and he now sleeps in the palace with the other two cats and has taken possession of the duvet. The other two cats have accepted Petit even though he can be quite annoying as he is still only a kitten. He likes to play by running up to Moggie and jumping on him and then running away. Moggie can be persuaded to join in for a while but then has to go off somewhere to get away from it. Archie does not do chasing but has been remarkably tolerant of this young intruder. He does let Petit know when enough is enough!

Moggie has also accepted the company of Petit on hunting trips and has introduced Petit to the numerous mouse holes in the garden and fields. Petit has returned rather muddy but so far no mice!

With all this cat domination we were a bit perturbed to pick up a white cat on our trail camera during the day trotting across the clearing at the bottom of our hay field. We have put up sign saying no vacancies and thankfully we have not seen white cat again. A couple of nights later we spotted a black cat in the same location. It is the time of year for unneutered males to go looking for females and this may explain the sightings. As long as they keep on going that’s fine. I have no room for any extra cats!

White cat on our trail camera

My French lessons have just become slightly crazier as Sarah (friend and tutor) introduced a new game to help us speak French. This involves putting a plastic band around our heads and then a card is placed at the front. The card depicts a person or animal. You don’t get to see the card and have to ask your fellow students questions in French to give you clues to identify the name on the card. It is quite a good idea except that we all look very stupid. My card depicted Christopher Columbus and I was able to guess the answer.

My rather crazy French class

A good thing about having French lessons like this is that the atmosphere is very relaxed and we have lots of tea and cake. Mrs. Parish kindly packs me off on a Sunday afternoon with cakes for the class, so I am quite popular!

We are making good progress and my ability to speak French is definitely improving. This despite the eccentricities of the language. Last week, I reported on some French words which were masculine when singular and feminine when plural. This week I have discovered several words which depending on their use can be either masculine or feminine! So, as an example the French word Rose can be la rose when it is a flower and le rose when it is a colour.  La livre is a name for money and le livre is a book. The strangest is the French word for goat which is La chevre, but when its milk is turned into goats’ cheese it becomes masculine and le chevre!!

It is all very confusing!

Enough of madness, it has been a lovely sunny day today and at last it looks like spring is arriving. All around our garden, orchard and along the nature trail we have daffodils and primroses coming out in bloom. I managed to get all the grass cut and La Godefrere is looking rather lovely. After last week’s cold weather, it is now rather warm and the bramblings have disappeared. According to my French bird watching friends, swallows have arrived in Southern France and should be here in Mayenne in the next week to 10 days. The ants disappeared last week in the cold but are now back enjoying working in the sun rebuilding their nest. 

The chiff chaffs are the first migrating birds to arrive and we have heard them calling from the tops of the trees. With the clocks going forward it is now a lot lighter in the evenings and the sun is still shining but it is not quite warm enough for an aperitif out in the garden. Perhaps next week for Easter. Anyway, I am sat in front of a nice warming log fire and Mrs. Parish has gone off to her yoga/karate and I am enjoying the peace and quiet before the cats come in for their allotted time. So, probably a good time for an aperitif. Well, really any time is good for an aperitif! There is a nice Pouilly Fume in the fridge so I might need to finish it off. At least I don’t have to leave any left-over wine for the cats!

Bon courage