I’m sorry that the blog is a few days late this week but life here has been somewhat disrupted. I have been in England for the past 10 days and have now arrived back to greet a couple of old friends who are staying with us. Sandy is a rather large Scotsman and Kathy is from Yorkshire. So there is much talking, eating and a few drinks!  Sandy has a great fondness for red wine so loves France but also forces me to drink Scottish malt whisky. As a consequence there has been no time for writing blogs. Until today when I have left the visitors sleeping in the garden and slipped in to finish the blog.

I have now returned to the relative sanity of France after 10 days electioneering in Britain. I decided to go over to England to help out in the General Election campaign with friends in South Dorset. So I travelled over from Caen to Portsmouth on the overnight ferry two weeks ago. This was a bit of a challenge as on arriving at Ouistreham the port, I was immediately confronted by hordes of French schoolchildren who were on school trips to Britain. This did not augur well as they were very excited and very loud. Luckily I had booked a cabin and so could shut myself away for the night.

The election went badly in terms of the voting and my party lost. I did have the experience of working on Portland which is a small island connected by a causeway to Weymouth. It has some stunning views and also a lot of hills which I seemed to be constantly going up and down, delivering leaflets, talking to voters and on Election Day getting them out to vote. I even delivered a leaflet to the lighthouse keeper at Portland Bill on a gloriously sunny day. Delivering leaflets can be a dangerous occupation. Apart from the hills there is the problem of letterboxes which can be anywhere on the door including those right at the bottom which you have to bend right down. Some letterboxes are extremely fierce and snap shut posing a risk to fingers. Dogs can create a real problem throwing themselves at the door to try to bite any fingers that go too far in pushing leaflets in!

Leafleting at Portland Bill

I managed to survive without losing any fingers and a good deal fitter after daily route marches up and down hills. But we still lost and so I returned home somewhat deflated and somewhat delayed as there were problems with the ferries. The French dockers at Ouistreham were on strike and so ferries were disrupted or cancelled. I was due to travel back from Poole to Cherbourg but it seemed that the ferries were all in the wrong ports as Brittany Ferries tried to reorganise to cope. The fast ferry on Thursday had been cancelled and for a while there was no news about my ferry on Friday. I got the news on Friday morning that the ferry was sailing and duly arrived at Poole ready for a 3pm departure to be told that the ferry was running 2 hours late! This meant arriving at Cherbourg at 9pm and I had planned my route back based on it being in daylight but now it would be dark and so it would be difficult to read my notes on the route home.

I eventually got back at half past midnight to some strange looks from the cats who came to see what was going on and to maybe get some extra late supper. It was good to be home to the peace and quiet of La Godefrere. The next day it was sunny and it gave a chance to look around the grounds. So much had grown in the 10 days I was away. The big hay field had grown and it looks as if it will be cut for hay at the end of June. The trees and flowers in the orchard are all in flower and the garden looks lovely. Even the path round the big field was looking good and where I had planted grass seed the new bits of path were starting to look green. There are an awful lot of new bramble shoots to get rid of as well as plenty of nettles.

My next task was to wrestle back control of the tractor. Before I went away I had to give Mrs. Parish tractor lessons so she could cut the grass when I was absent. I kept getting messages about how much fun she was having with my tractor that I was worried that I would have trouble getting to use it again. In the end there is so much to do round here that as soon as I got back I was sent off on the tractor to cut the path around the big hay field. Mrs Parish was too busy doing the technical gardening stuff.

While I was away, Mark, our builder finished off the work on our storage barn. We had a door into the top which could only be accessed by a ladder so we had the door dropped and some stone steps built to allow us easy access. Mark built a new door for us and fitted a cat flap so that the cats could use it for sleeping and of course for guarding the stuff we store in there. The cats currently sleep in an open lean too shed which can be a bit draughty in the winter. So they like the idea of a totally covered sleeping area. The problem of course is that they have never come across a cat flap before and didn’t know how to use it. They seemed to prefer the idea of hooking the flap open rather than the conventional method of pushing the flap open. They couldn’t get the hang of it so we now have the flap propped open with a bit of stick. We need to give the cats some intensive training, probably using food as an incentive. That usually works with our cats! Although they are a bit eccentric and Archie has taken to sleeping in the flowerpots!

New steps, cat flap and stick

Archie the flowerpot cat

That’s all for now as I have to go and entertain our guests who seem to have woken up. Hopefully by next Sunday things will be back to what passes for normal here and I will have a bit more time to write the blog.

A bientot