At the end of a very hot week here in France and it has finally got a little bit cooler. We have had weather coming up from the Sahara and it has been too hot to do much. The garden is suffering with the heat and lack of rain. The grass in the garden and orchard that a couple of weeks ago was lush green is now turning brown or white where the sun has scorched it. It has meant that the grass hasn’t needed cutting but it does look very sorry. Mrs. Parish has been concerned about all the stuff in her potager and the garden. I have been the subject of a strict evening watering regime and the flowers are at least in good shape. The cats and hens have been suffering and are much happier now it has got a bit cooler.

It has given a chance to have a look at the French election results for the Assemblée Nationale. The second round took place last Sunday and resulted in a clear win for Emmanuel Macron’s party “La Republique en Marche”. They have 308 seats out of a total of 577 and also have the support of the centrist Modems who have 38 seats. So, Macron has a clear majority in the assembly but not a clear level of public support and there are many who are still not sure of him. The turnout was only 42.64% which meant that almost 60% of French voters abstained and a further 7% of those who actually voted put in what is called a “vote blanc”. This putting a blank piece of paper in the voting envelope to signify that you don’t want to vote for any of the candidates!

So, while Macron has a large majority he doesn’t have a strong public mandate which may cause him some problems if he runs into trouble, particularly on things like the reform of labour laws where he will be opposed by the trade unions. Interesting times ahead. But the assembly will certainly have a very different look to it. There are 424 new deputees who are in the assembly for the first time. Many have very little political experience but they are certainly more diverse than previous times with there being an increased representation of women up from 27% to 38.6% (which compares with 32% in the UK House of Commons). The average age has reduced from 54 to an almost youthful 48. The youngest, known as Le Benjamin is only 23 (sadly representing the Front Nationale, perhaps when he grows up he will change his views!). Le doyen is 79 which compares with Dennis Skinner MP in the UK who is 85.

The results also saw the usual splits in the left of French politics. There were a large number of groupings but of those that obtained seats there were: the Parti Socialist; French Communist party; divers gauche (several groups who stood under one label); La France Insoumise (ex socialist and ex communist, Jean-Luc Melenchon’s party); the Radical Left. 5 parties who attracted in total over 17% of the vote but the seats in the assembly don’t necessarily reflect the total let vote. We now have a new President and new assembly for the next 5 years. Will it be a new kind of politics or more of the same? Time will tell.

The hard pressed author with writing tools

I sometimes feel that my life revolves around all the animals here at La Godefrere both domestic and the wildlife. At the moment, I seem to be having a constant struggle to look after the wildlife. Every morning after breakfast I go out to fill up the bird feeders which the birds empty every day. The chickens always come with me to mop up any seeds that I drop in filling up the feeders and then flocks of birds descend to start emptying them again. The French can never quite understand why anyone would want to feed wild birds unless it was as a prelude to catching and eating them. I try to explain that I like to look at wild birds but it becomes very difficult to rationalise the behaviour of a bird spotter. I usually end up explaining that it is what English people do and they shrug and knowingly say “ah oui, les anglais”.

But it is not just feeding the birds. I reported last week having to pick up a bird that had fallen out of the nest. This week I had to rescue a young sparrow that had flown into our lounge window and was stunned. So, I had to guard it from the cats until it came to and could fly off. On Tuesday, we returned back from a boozy evening with our neighbours to find that Moggie had managed to get one of the little owl fledglings and so I had to chase him round the garden, swearing at him (no more useful than swearing at chickens). I caught up with him and detached the owl calling to Mrs. Parish to come quickly with gloves to pick up the owl. This happened last year so we have a well-practiced drill. Mrs. Parish managed to grab the owl who was a bit in shock and put him up on a wall to recover. Within a couple of minutes, it was recovered and flew off.

So far, this week we have saved a stunned sparrow and a limp little owl. Then it was necessary to rescue a butterfly that had flown indoors. In between times I am checking to make sure the ants are OK down at the Ant Experience nest site. (They are fine by the way and the nest is getting much bigger). I am beginning to appear like some sort of latter day St. Francis of Assisi. The chickens hearing this decide to test me when I am cutting the grass by playing chicken with the tractor. Sylvia in particular decided to suddenly run straight at the tractor. Then began to hide and jump out from behind a tree seeing if I could do an emergency stop. Fortunately for her I have mastered the tractor emergency stop! It now appears that we have a kamikaze chicken to go with the Harry Houdini chicken.

To maintain our relationship with the wildlife we have been using the new trail camera to see what is about. Last week we saw a hare and a deer. This week we caught on camera a young roe deer and then with night camera saw a female fox down on the nature trail. We also saw a very blurred close up of a great tit who had decided to check out this new thing. It landed on the camera and proceeded to peck away at it. When you set the camera, you have 10 seconds before it activates so we also have some interesting beasts on film!

Female fox on nature trail at 4am

Strange beasts on the trail camera

The other thing we discovered was that when it is windy the camera can be set off by waving plants. Thus, on Friday we had a series of video footage of nothing but grass and plants, which of course takes up memory on the camera but also wastes the batteries.

Once again, I am writing the blog sat in our lovely garden, by the shade of a large wisteria. It is a good place to write but there are always distractions and I have just had to stop to watch a couple of buzzards soar over the orchard. Then Mrs. Parish brought me an ice cream and the cats want tea. Fortunately, the birds don’t need saving this afternoon but it is hot. With amazing luck, the coolest place to be is in the wine cave so I will have to go and cool down and look at my wine bottles. I might even sort out an aperitif as the afternoon has flown by and it is now past 5pm!

Bonne soiree