Well, another week has gone by and this time it has been mostly sunny. With that in mind I head out to the garden to continue my innovative approach to writing the blog in the garden. The sun appears to have disappeared and there is a cooling breeze. So, instead of using the wisteria for shade I am now using it as a windbreak! Instead of a nice chilled glass of wine I have a mug of tea to keep my hands warm enough to type the blog.

The weather has certainly been changeable this week. This morning Mrs. Parish and I went for a cycle ride with a clear blue sky and a blazing sun. We cycled to a nearby village and had a cold beer in the bar before cycling back for lunch. My new GPS gadget tells me that we cycled 21 km and used up 500 calories, thus more than offsetting the beer. My legs are now suffering and I need to rest while writing the blog.

It does give the chance to reflect on the past week and in particular about the General Election in the UK, what a surprise that turned out to be. On Thursday evening, I sat down to watch the election coverage and to see what the exit polls produced. I was fully expecting to hear that the Tories would get a majority and that I would immediately be depressed and go to bed. Of course, for us here in France we have to wait until 11pm as we are an hour ahead. Well, the exit poll suggested that there would be a hung parliament.

So, the dreadful Mrs. May had gambled on getting a large majority and had run an abysmal campaign. She was now getting a deserved come-uppance! Instead of bed Mrs. Parish and I opened and finished off a bottle of wine to celebrate. The problem with UK elections is that you have to wait for several hours before you get enough results to verify the exit poll. Mrs. Parish went to bed around half past midnight leaving me to watch the results and bit by bit saw that the exit poll was correct. The problem is you become absorbed and before long it was 4am and it was clear that Jeremy Corbyn had done very well and Mrs. May very badly. 

So off to bed and then Mrs. Parish decided to get up at 6am to check the results and so I could not keep away. 2 hours sleep, but it did not matter as my party did well. 

French National Assembly

Just to maintain the excitement there are also elections here in France for the National Assembly. France’s equivalent of the House of Commons. Last month we had the election of M. Macron as President. In France, there is a much better system of counting the votes. Instead of taking all the ballot boxes to a central location as in the UK, the French count the votes at the polling station. This speeds up the counting by a big margin. The results are then phoned/emailed into a central place in each department to be added to the Country wide results. It also allows there to be a sample taken of real outcomes form around the Country and this means that a pretty accurate estimate of the result can be given within a matter of minutes after the polling stations close. Any voter is entitled to go along and watch the count at their local polling station, usually the Mairie.

So, we knew that Macron had won within five minutes of the close of polls and the final results were pretty much in line. The French also sensibly vote on a Sunday. This means the polling stations don’t need to be open for as many hours. Usually they are open from 9am to 6 or 7pm in the evenings. As Sunday’s are a proper rest day in France (no shops open) the vast majority of people have the chance to vote. There are no complicated postal votes. If you can’t get to a polling station you can appoint someone to vote for you. So, it saves you from a long night checking results.

Today is the first round of the Assembly elections and there are 577 constituencies with a range of candidates standing for election, In our area there are 12 candidates including 4 for various off shoots of left wing parties. M. Macron has a new party and they are expected to win a majority in the Assembly. Macron has broken away from the old two-party alternatives of either Socialists or Conservatives. It will be interesting to hear the results and I expect them to be predicted with some accuracy just after 8pm.

This is the first round of voting and after today the two candidates who top the poll will have a run off in a weeks’ time. (If anyone gets more than 50% of the vote they will automatically be elected).

Who said that politics is boring! Just talk to my neighbour Daniel. I can now hear his dulcet tones from the lane where he is holding forth on various subjects including today’s election. Once started it is difficult to stop Daniel talking and to keep up with him as he changes subject frequently. This makes it difficult to follow him talking in French as he also talks very quickly. Still I am getting used to him and can engage in a discussion when necessary.

Daniel also has a very childlike sense of humour. Most of his jokes involve sexual parts of the anatomy. He also delights in playing tricks. We recently went around for an evening with him and Giselle and our new English neighbours Lis and John who have the property next door to us as a holiday home. When we arrived, Daniel got out a bottle of wine and a corkscrew and asked John if he would open the bottle as Daniel had a bad wrist! 

This is Daniel’s special trick as the corkscrew is for left handers and works the opposite way to a normal corkscrew. So, while John struggled Daniel dissolves into floods of laughter. Having seen this several times, we all laugh at Daniel! Still the evening went well and Daniel got out his special Calvados which had been mixed with cherries and matured to make a calva and cherry liqueur. Very tasty and very strong. John and Lis who thought they were coming for a quick coffee, had a boozy introduction to French hospitality!

Last week we had the silence of the hens and this week it is the turn of our lambs. Not that they been taken to the abattoir but Patrique came around to separate the lambs from the ewes to wean them off their mother’s milk. They will be fed up until later in the year when of course we will get a leg of lamb as the rent. This has left us with three ewes who are now bleating as they look for their lost lambs. Their bleating then sets off the sheep in Giselle’s field so no chance of returning to peace and quiet here. It may be that Patrique will then bring over the ram, which at least will give the sheep something else to think about!  

One nice thing about writing in the garden (pause for cat feeding time. I have just had a deputation from the cats reminding me that it is 10 minutes late for their tea!). The cats are content and so I can return to finish the sentence which is to say that being in the garden I can look around and enjoy the scenery while writing the blog. I should also mention that I took the opportunity of the cat tea break to go and visit the wine cave. Both to get some wine for dinner this evening and of course to get something for an aperitif. Writing the blog is arduous work and so a little something to fortify the spirits would go down quite well. Perhaps a kir Mrs. Parish who is sat in the garden knitting, concurs.

At the moment, it is a question of watching the grass grow as we are now at the height of the growing season as it has been wet and warm, you can almost see the grass growing and I am having to cut the grass a couple of times per week. The grass in the big hay field has grown quite long and a couple of days ago Andy came around to cut it and will be back to bale up in the next couple of days.

Our big hay field

The cutting of the hay field brings kestrels and buzzards to see if there are any dead bodies to feed on or at least to hunt for mice who have suddenly been deprived of cover. A few days ago, they could come out of their holes and be hidden by tall grass now there is nothing to hide in and this also suits Moggie who has been down to collect his share of mice. Archie can’t really be bothered as it is too hot for him and he likes to sleep away the day (apart from meal times of course).

Moggie with mouse from the big field

Archie stretches in the sun

The sun has returned and so it is safe to drink my aperitif. I may have to move so that the sun is not shining on the laptop screen. I may also need to go and get a hat to protect my head from the sun. Life is always complicated by such matters and I feel that the readers should appreciate the struggles of the author to produce this blog. 

Anyway, I now need to fortify myself with food and wine and to get myself prepared to watch the French election results and check the TV news just in case Mrs. May has resigned. I think it is only a matter of time and then we can have another General Election!!

Bon courage