So, we have now experienced the second of our Christmases. It now seems as if we will be having four Christmases as our youngest daughter Amy and friend Charlotte will now be coming over later in January. So we will have to keep the Christmas spirit going for almost a month.  Four Christmases is a 2008 film which is supposed to be a comedy about visiting four sets of divorced parents at Christmas. As a film it is probably best forgotten!

Our second Christmas started exceptionally well with a visit from our good friends Emile and Yvette and with them a very special Christmas present. A bottle of Emile’s homemade Calvados. This was very good news as I have a bit of a cold and cough and of course Calvados is especially good for treating cold symptoms. So we now have a good supply of Calva ready for all that the winter can throw at us. Although not much is the answer, at the moment. The weather is exceptionally mild and wet which has meant that we can light the fire later and make our wood last longer. 

Anyway, Christmas no.2 went very well with just Mrs. Parish and I we had a very quiet day and eat an enormous amount of turkey stuffed with chestnuts from our local butcher. This was excellent and went very well with a bottle of dry white wine. And of course a calvados with the coffee.  We then collapsed into a chair and watched the Wizard of Oz on the TV. It’s still a great film and requires no concentration as we know the story and most of the words.

When I say that Mrs. Parish and I were on our own for Christmas no.2, that is not strictly true as we also had three cats to help us. They were keen to let us know that it was Christmas day and that therefore they should have special treatment. They helped us undo the presents and played with the wrapping paper and ribbons as well as getting into boxes. Of course they have rather taken advantage of Christmas and the presence of decorations. The cats when indoors and waiting for dinner time adopt a variety of annoying tactics to get us to feed them before time. This involves them all sitting at strategic locations and staring at me to see if they can hypnotise me or at least make me feel guilty as they adopt the “starving cat” look. Archie normally exerts pressure by sitting on the Orange Livebox which transmits our wifi signal and TV signals. A large cat sitting on it is not good and we fear it being crushed. 

Archie and Moggie, best of friends

Minou, looking good

At Christmas the intimidation can be enhanced by threatening the decorations. There are a set of lights that run up the stairs. Only at meal times does Archie attack them. Flicking at them with rather large claws or trying to bite them. The other two concentrate on seeing what they can find to knock on the floor. Pencils, rubbers, sets of keys, in fact almost anything that is on the table is at risk. Invariably the pressure works and they get fed early. It is now a vicious circle that the cats seem to be winning. On Christmas Day they did get a special treat of leftover turkey which they were very pleased with.

In fact the film the Aristocats is very appropriate as the La Godefrere cats live like Aristocrats! Not only three meals a day but they now have their own palace in our storage barn where they have beds with blankets as well as an old duvet to sleep on. For added comfort we have now put down an old carpet to stop draughts!!! They even have their own Christmas lights running from the cat flap across the outside wall. Our neighbour Daniel, thinks we are mad English people and is worried that his dog Pepito will also want some lights of his own.

Aristocats palace bedroom

The cats even have their own Christmas lights

I write this blog so that people can get an idea of life in France but the feedback I get (particularly from my sister in law, Liz) is can we have more about the cats, can we have more cat photos!! In my view it is a bad thing to encourage them and if they get word that they have a fan club, my life will cease to be as wonderful as it currently is.

There is no way you are keeping us out!

The cats need to understand that Aristocrats came to a sticky end in France, the same could happen to aristocats!!

The film “It’s a Wonderful Life” is probably the best ever Christmas film and was made in 1946 by the director, Frank Capra and starred James Stewart. In the film he is visited by his guardian angel and as a result realises the impact he has made on others and that his life has not been wasted. Well I think it is the cats here that have the wonderful life. I am still waiting for my guardian angel to turn up!! 

I think the guardian angel has been to visit Giselle’s geese next door. They were making a lot of noise on Christmas Day. Mrs. Parish reckons they were celebrating the fact that they were still here and that they had escaped the seasonal cull!

Incidentally the cats have just been let in after doing their “we are so cold and hungry” act outside the window. They are now starting the intimidation routine. I am holding out for as long as I can and we have removed anything breakable!

The weather has been nicer for the past couple of days and we have managed to get out for a walk around the lanes. Yesterday we went up our lane to the road and went for a lengthy stroll. In the fields off our lane we saw a couple of Great White Egrets feeding in the fields. They are huge birds, bigger than Herons and all white. They were probably looking for frogs and small mammals. It is the first time we have seen them so close to our house.

So all in all is has been a pretty Joyeux Noel here at La Godefrere as we are now half way through Christmas. Joyeux Noel is also the title of a French film made in 2005 about the 1914 Christmas truce during the First World War. It is quite appropriate as we seem to have a Christmas truce with the moles. Although we haven’t exchanged gifts or played football with them, there has been no mole activity in the garden. The calves have also honoured the Christmas Truce and have stayed on their side of the fence, thanks to Mrs. Parish’s keen fencing activities. Our barbed wire seems to have maintained the peace unlike in 1914.

So this is the end of volume three of the blog as it is the last blog of 2015. I realised that I had written around 150 episodes of the blog about our life here in France. (Pause as cat intimidation now reaching fever pitch and there appears to be the prospect of significant damage as the cats have applied the cat fight tactic to get my attention and Moggie and Archie are slugging it out under the table. I’m sure it is not a real fight but it is now tea time!) The cats have been fed and are now back outside. All is calm, all is quiet! At least until supper time, when they will be back.

So all round a great year and a super first two Christmases. We now have to get back out to the garden and do some work, to try to wear off the effects of this marathon Christmas activity. Still we have Emile’s Calvados to assist.

Bonne Noel (deuxieme)