So, Mrs Parish has been back in Britain since last Monday leaving me in control. Control is probably not the word I would have chosen. As I feared last week the La Godefrere animals have had something to say about that. I am starting the blog early in the morning. The sun is shining and I have things to do before going up to Ouistreham this evening to collect Mrs.Parish from the ferry port.

Well I may have a plan for the day but so do the animals. The chickens are shut up in their hen house at night and as soon as it gets light they want to be out and feeding. Mrs. Parish usually goes out at about 7-30am by which time the chickens are keen to get out. Of course the cats also get fed at the same time and this is usually my first task of the day. Being on my own meant immediate pressure as the cats are first in the door demanding breakfast while in the background I can hear the hens squawking and demanding to be let out.

As Moggie was missing this morning I decide to open up for the chickens and of course as soon as I get there the noise levels increase and there is clearly a definite criticism that I am late and what is going on. So I open up the pop hole in the hen house and three annoyed chickens burst out and muttering about so called chicken protocol, they rush past in a whirl of feathers and squawking and they are off to check on their favourite spots round the garden. By the time I get back to the house the chickens are already in the courtyard having beaten me to it.

Of course by this time the cats are put out that I went to the chickens first and Archie and Minou are making a fuss and mentioning they were here first and whatever happened to the contract! Then Moggie decides he will return but as I am busy I don’t notice that he has arrived in the house with a mouse he has just caught. Now he is in a dilemma as am making their breakfast and in confusion he drops the mouse which is not yet dead. However before the mouse can make a getaway under the furniture, Archie intervenes and grabs the mouse and at the same time my shoe pushes him out of the door where he sits and eats the mouse. Now Moggie is confused as he is looking for the mouse. At least I can distract him by putting down a plate of food.

Minou reminding me it is national book week

Probably less stressful than yesterday when Moggie was again out hunting and came back with a small bird which he ate outside. When he came in I had to chase him round the kitchen with a towel as he was wet and covered in mud. After having breakfast he then decides to be sick and the bird content is deposited on the floor necessitating an urgent clear up! While this is happening Archie is having a funny five minutes which means he is either chasing the other two cats or doing his trick of pulling himself around the floor by use of his claws on the sofa. I have to distract him with his little plastic ball with a rattle inside which he then chases around the house. It is best to keep out of the way while he chases the ball as in full flight Archie is somewhat unstoppable!

Archie hiding in the shoerack

Archie has now settled down but Moggie and Minou have started a fight upstairs, so I have to deal with that now and find myself shouting up the stairs “don’t make me come up there!” Finally some semblance of peace and quiet descends upon the house and I think it is a good time for some breakfast. This when the young buzzard starts up. It has clearly been parked in the big tree in our hay field by its mum and dad and it is calling constantly for someone to come and feed it. Normally the sound of buzzards calling is one of the joys of living in rural France, but not when it is so close and so constant. There are loads of buzzards around here and often just driving the 10 miles to Ambrieres it is not unusual to see 6 buzzards. Yesterday I went out for a bike ride and it was a beautiful sunny day and the buzzards were all up high in the sky circling and calling to each other. Now at that distance the buzzard cry is a thing of beauty. For me one of the highlights of summer is to see buzzards just floating in the sky and circling round on thermals of warm air. At times we have seen 6 buzzards all together circling over the house. Just amazing, although the hens get a bit nervous!

The hens have been having great fun hiding from me. As they are free range they roam around the garden and during the day I occasionally look out to check they are OK. But where are they. Sometimes they are right down the bottom of the orchard being masked against the hedge. At other times they get into the flower borders and dig up the earth for a dust bath and can’t be seen until they shake off a great cloud of earth. Emmeline has adopted a cunning strategy and she has taken to sitting between the two metal chicken models that we have in the courtyard. Looking out I suddenly thought we only have two models and then realised one was real!

Emmeline camouflaged between two metal chickens

The little owls have now left the nest and we just see one of them at dusk that still comes to feed in the garden and can be seen sitting o our dead tree and running across the garden to catch insects. I’m not sure if the others are still around or if they have moved out into the nearby trees in the fields. But at least they are a bit quieter!
Just to make sure that things are not too quiet we have three children staying with their parents in our gite. There is a 10 month old baby who has been remarkably quiet. Not so much 6 year old Joseph who seems to be constantly talking. Whenever he spots me in the garden he comes over with a constant stream of questions and has quite a grown up conversation. He likes animals and was fascinated to see our salamander that lives in the water meter. He was also keen to see the snake that lives in the compost bin. When I told him about he asked if it was a black mamba. I said that fortunately it was not and was a grass snake. But five minutes with Joseph is like being interrogated and like all 6 year olds he won’t be fobbed off with any old answer.

His three year old sister, Bella is a very happy and cheerful young lady and always seems to have a smile on her face or be singing a song. I went out to get something from the garden and heard her singing from in the games room. She was singing “we wish you a merry Christmas”. Her mum told me that she has started asking “is it Christmas yet”!

Archie as usual has adopted the children and very patiently lies down to let them stroke him and to play string with him. Archie is experienced enough to know that children are more likely to either let him in the gite or to provide him with food, particularly if they are eating outside when food can easily drop in front of him!

So, no chance of having a quiet week on my own at La Godefrere. I now have to go and get ready as I have to represent the family at another repas with our French friends Emile and Yvette. This afternoon it is nearby with the added attraction of the annual auto cross car racing around a dirt track. Lots of crazy driving and crashes as cars race around a circuit with lots of bends. It is hair raising stuff and clearly where the French learn to drive. Anyway I have to be round at Emile’s for midday for an aperitif before we all go off for the racing and a meal. I think it is sausages and chips, with of course a starter and then cheese and dessert. But first I will have to go and find the chickens and then get them to go back into their run so that they will be safe while I am out. This could well be a challenge and they don’t always come willingly and getting them all in at the same time and then closing the gap before one has escaped can be a bit tricky. I have some corn treats for them but they will I am sure not make it easy!

Then this evening I have to drive up to Ouistreham which is about 2 hours away to meet Mrs. Parish at the ferry port. The ferry gets in at 9-30 so we should be back home by midnight. The downside of this is that I won’t be able to have a drink at the repas. I will have to register this as one of my alcohol free days. At least from tomorrow, Mrs. Parish will resume responsibility for the chickens (oh and everything else of course!)

Bon weekend