So it is a wet Sunday and we have had to retreat indoors. Mrs. Parish has disappeared to her sewing room and is busy making things for Christmas presents. I have been doing some rainy day jobs and clearing up heaps of stuff that have been left in the “to do, sometime” pile. It gave me a chance to reflect on yet another interesting week here in France.

The week started with some excitement. On Monday I was expecting a visit from an old school friend, Clive Garrish (known to us as ‘Enry). Enry left Britain soon after we left school some 47 years and he went via Australia to New Zealand where he now lives. He let me know that he was coming to France to stay with his cousin who lives near Avranches in Normandy and we arranged for him to visit. I had last seen him around 10 years ago. I was expecting him to arrive for lunch but at around 11am I got a text message to say he had an accident and in his hire car had hit a French car head on. Both cars were write offs. But the car he had hit was being driven by the local Mayor, where his cousin lived.

On reflection, I should not be surprised as Enry was always accident prone, but fancy hitting the local mayor, who fortunately seems to be OK. Not so Enry who managed to break his breast bone so spent a long afternoon at Avranches hospital having tests. He then had to rest before flying back to New Zealand a couple of days later. It also turns out that New Zealand like the UK drives on the left hand side of the road and Enry had forgotten that France drives on the right!!  So we didn’t get to meet up after all and I suggested that next time he comes I pick him up at the airport. For now France can sleep safely!

So the week started off in a strange way and then a couple of days later I hear that Bob Dylan has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature despite being a singer/song writer. As a great Dylan fan I was obviously delighted. However it may just throw up some problems. Regular readers of the blog will know that we have had a long running war with the local moles and that one of my major weapons was me singing bob Dylan songs to the moles while I passed over with the tractor mower. This acted as a deterrent and the sound of my singing sent them running. My worry is that in winning the Nobel Prize Dylan may now have become acceptable and part of the establishment. If the moles find out they may be less in awe of my Dylan repertoire even allowing for my awful singing.

Bob Dylan as drawn by the amazing Amy Parish

At the moment the very dry weather has meant that there have been no sightings of mole activity in the garden. If there is an autumn offensive from the moles I may need to consider my options. I have Leonard Cohen to fall back on but I think I may need to bring out a range of Jacques Brel songs. As these are in French it may totally confuse the moles and hopefully will be effective.

My singing doesn’t seem to work with mice that appear totally indifferent to my singing of any type of singer. So keeping the mice down is part of the cat contract. The cats of course totally failed to deal with my mouse in the bird feed saga. Such was the problem that the mouse kept making new holes in the dustbin lid to get in. Not only did it eat the bird seed but left mouse droppings everywhere and scared the hell out of me when I put a hand in to get bird food only to see something moving in the bag. So in the end I moved the dustbin closer to the house and affected some repairs to the various holes using gaffer taper. It looks a bit odd but so far has been successful. While doing this Minou decided that she would come and sit in the dustbin in a late bid to convince me that she was doing her job. A bit late in the day for that says I.

Minou waiting for a mouse that is long gone!

Generally the cats and hens have been quiet this week. This is kind of worrying rather than reassuring. My immediate reaction is “where are they and what are they up to?”. Sleeping is mostly what the cats have been doing. Feeding is mostly what the hens have been doing although they seem to be looking for weak spots in the ring of steel around the garden and they have been nonchalantly going close to the front gate from time to time. I think they are developing an escape plan.

The hens not a bit interested in the main gate!!!!!

To cap a strange week I made a cake! The first cake I have ever made and it was done for a lunch at my new French class that I am now going to in Mayenne. We were all challenged to bring in something for a lunch and I decided that something made with apples from our orchard and eggs from our chickens. So I made a Dorset Apple Cake. Well I say I made it but it was done under strict supervision from Mrs. Parish who is an excellent cake maker. It turned out OK and the others on the course all enjoyed it and wanted the recipe which of course I had translated into French.

On the subject of food and in keeping with the strange week I discovered from reading about French history that just before the 1848 rebellion the French organised protests against the King by going to banquets. How typical and clever of the French to use eating food as a method of protest! At the time King Louis-Phillipe was the King as a result of the restoration of the French monarchy following the revolution and then Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. The regime of Louis-Phillipe was very unpopular. Because political gatherings and demonstrations were outlawed in France, activists of the largely middle class opposition to the government began to hold a series of banquets. This campaign of banquets (Campagne des banquets), was intended to circumvent the governmental restriction on political meetings and provide a legal outlet for popular criticism of the regime (as well as providing the opposition with a rather nice meal).

The Prime Minister, Francois Guizot then made a fundamental error by introducing a ban on the banquets. Trying to stop the French from eating was a bad move and anger over the outlawing of the political banquets brought crowds of Parisians flooding out into the streets at noon on 22 February 1848. The crowds directed their anger against the King, Louis Philippe and his chief minister, Guizot. And then in more typical French behaviour they erected barricades in the streets of Paris, and fighting broke out between the citizens and the Parisian municipal guards.

At 2pm the next day, 23 February, Prime Minister Guizot resigned. Upon hearing the news of Guizot's resignation, a large crowd gathered outside the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. An officer ordered the crowd not to pass, but people in the front of the crowd were being pushed by the rear. The officer ordered his men to fix bayonets, probably wishing to avoid shooting. However, in what is widely regarded as an accident, a soldier discharged his musket, which resulted in the rest of the soldiers firing into the crowd. Fifty-two people were killed. Paris was soon a barricaded city. Omnibuses were turned into barricades, and thousands of trees were felled. Fires were set, and angry citizens began converging to the royal palace.
King Louis Philippe abdicated and fled to the UK.

Literally a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire!! Anyway as result the French decided that they had had quite enough of Kings and the second French Republic was declared and France has been a republic ever since. 

So, if only I had realised this way of protest before now. Instead of standing outside in the cold and rain with a placard that would fall apart we could have been inside a nice  warm and dry restaurant eating a sumptuous banquet and downing a few bottles of wine and moaning about the things we were protesting about. 

I think Mrs. Parish and I will have to try this out tonight and have a protest meal. We can eat and drink while moaning about the Tory Government and what a total prat is Donald Trump and why it is a bad idea to bring back grammar schools and brexit. Enough there for several courses and plenty of wine!

Vive la revolution