What a week it has been. There we were expecting another quiet week in rural France when a van load of Aussies descend upon us. Strewth! Actually they were 4 adults and a 14 year old who had booked into the gite for 4 nights and we didn’t know until they phoned to let us know their arrival time that they were from Australia. It turns out that they were on a 5 week tour of France and arrived with us from Paris. We were half expecting tinnies everywhere and constant barbies. Enough stereotypes, they didn’t sat g’day once or mention anything being fair dinkum and it was far too dull and damp for a Barbie.

So we had a couple Pete and Marina and their son Vaughan(what a nice polite young man, who even let me beat him at snooker) as well as Russell who is a cycling nut and brought his bike over on the plane!! The fifth was Jenny who decided she would buy Peter’s house next door and come and live in France. We also were introduced to Moira, their satnav.They were a great bunch and we soon became firm friends and sat out chatting and drinking til late watching the bats over the orchard. They seemed to have a great time and so on their last night we organised a tasting session of local Poire and Cider from Emile, together of course with his Calvados. Jenny got a bit too excited and brought down from the gite what she took for very decorative liqueur glasses for the Calvados. I had to gently break it to her that they were glass egg cups and that the moulded chicken motif was a bit of a giveaway. Anyway I promised Jenny I would never mention this again and certainly would not tell a soul about it. So if any of you ever meets Jenny from Melbourne, don’t mention the egg cup liqueur glasses.

I mentioned last week that Archie had caught a mouse and that Moggie was developing his hunting skills, either by pinching Archie’s catch or by sticking his paws down the mice holes. Minou has remained unmoved by all this and I don’t think she likes the idea of getting dirty paws so she has remained a bit aloof from the male hunters. On Monday however she was sat outside the glass doors to our house complaining about this outside cat nonsense and wanting to be let in. I was studiously ignoring her when I heard a bang on the window and turned to see that a young bird had flown into the glass and had dropped literally into Minou’s lap. This was obviously more to her style and she gladly took up the offering. She now goes around talking to birds she sees trying to persuade them to drop down for her. The weather has not been great this week and we have had chilly windy days or we have had rain. It is supposed to be summer here and all the French people we speak to say this is the worst weather for years. We clearly picked the right time to come to France, just as global warming or periodic change has set in. Pessimists (there are never weather optimists are there!!) are saying that this pattern of wet spring/summer may be with us for the next 10 years!!!!!!! The result has been that the cats come in for their breakfast and all quickly disappear upstairs and cuddle up fast asleep on our beds. They put on this warm, satisfied cute look that melts the hardest heart and so they stay all morning until we have to chuck them out after lunch.

The kittens are fascinated by the returned cows and whenever they are up close to our fence the cats have to go into the field with them. They don’t seem to be in danger of being stood on but there is a risk of a large cow pat falling on their heads. I was watching Moggie (who else) the other day in with the cows and narrowly missing being patted on the head. When the cows had moved away he decided to investigate these strange brown things. Of course now they had flies on them. Moggie likes chasing and jumping on flies! Oh no, recipe for a very messy outcome. So there I am on the other side of the fence shouting at Moggie to leave the flies alone and that it was not a good idea to jump on those particular flies. Fortunately the message got through. Just as well as I was beginning to think, how do you shower a cat?

We are still without the sheep who have not yet returned from the worming holiday. We have however been in touch with our English friend Alex (with the Alpacas) and she is going to bring around her two lambs to also graze in our Paddocks. They were supposed to arrive today but Alex ran into problems so they will be with us tomorrow. Apparently they are called Mutt and Geoff. Alex is a very nice but slightly bonkers in that quaint English way!! I will give you a full report on Mutt and Geoff next week.

Talking of slightly bonkers Henny Penny has been even more eccentric over the past week. This may be due to an incident last Monday. Mrs. Parish and I were sat outside having a morning cup of tea, together with some of Mrs. Parish’s exceeding good cake. We were sat at the table and as usual Henny appeared from nowhere at the chance of a bit of cake. I was holding a piece of cake and let it get with Henny’s range and she jumped to get it just at the point where I lifted it towards my mouth. Instead of getting my piece of cake Henny flew through the air and collided head first with the table! So it may be that this has caused some minor brain tremors. When the Aussies were here we sat out on the patio chatting with them until very late and it got dark. This must have been about 10-30. Henny had strangely not taken herself off to bed at 7-30 so this was way past her bed time. She obviously thought we must be having food as we were sat around the big garden table.  She must have got fed up with no scraps as all of a sudden she flew across the patio and between us onto the table. Scared the hell out of us all. A mad chicken flying at you out of the darkness is the stuff of horror films and nightmares!

The French have a phrase to cover all such eventualities.  In fact the French can usually find a word or phrase for most things. The best one so far is “ah bas dis donc”. It doesn’t have a literal translation and the French use it as a way of adding expression to a phrase. So our neighbour Giselle who is a great user of “ah bas dis donc” when taking about the weather might add the phrase with a shrug and a growl. If talking about a surprise it would be a much lighter tone. Daniel who is Giselle’s partner also has a stock of phrases including “comme si, comme ca” meaning so, so and “on n’a pas de choix” meaning you don’t have a choice. But most French people use some phrase or other as part of everyday speech. So I will be keeping an ear out for them and reporting back.

It was a pity that the Aussies didn’t stay until Saturday as the British & Irish Lions rugby team beat the Australians in the first rugby test. This would have created a great opportunity to gloat at a great victory and explain how we were also going to beat them at cricket in the ashes matches this summer.

Finally this week I must record my absolute delight at the news from my daughter Amy who got her results for her degree course on Friday. She passed with a 2.1 degree and was only 2 marks away from a first class degree. Her friend Jess also did well and was only three marks from a first. They both worked extremely hard and deserve their success. Mrs. Parish and I are going over to England next Sunday for a few days to attend the degree presentation at Norwich University. So there will be no blog next Sunday as we will be away but I’m sure there will be loads to report in two weeks time. I’m sure the eccentric English of Norfolk will provide some things for comment. A nice couple who are renting our gite have kindly offered to feed the cats and keep an eye on the chicken. We may ask them to undertake some security patrols to keep an eye out for the moles. I wonder if I should ask them to walk around the garden singing Bob Dylan songs as a way of ensuring the moles don’t sneak back while we are away. We have noticed some very large molehills near to the orchard and are a bit concerned that the moles are bringing up heavy infantry for an incursion.

I think time for a drink to celebrate Amy & Jess’s success!

On n’a pas de choix, ah bas dis donc, au revoir