Well, a lot has happened this week, so lots to report.

When I retired and Mrs Parish and I discussed our objectives in moving to France, the prospect of chiselling out horseshit for between cobblestones did not feature highly on my list! However for the past week I have spent an inordinate amount of time on hands and knees, with a chisel removing ancient straw and horseshit that has accumulated in the stable under our gite. We are doing up the stable to create a wine cellar and games room. In the stable there are some cobbbles that have over the years become covered in horseshit and other material. The only way is to chisel out the mess and clean up the cobbles. I'm told it will be worth it when finished. Will get back to you on that!

The French have an incredible ability to complicate and apply red tape to an infinitessimal degree. This week we have been trying to sort out registering our car in France and getting french number plates. This is also a requirement by our insurance company. So we find out how to apply. Nothing so simple as sending our logbook to a french DVLA. First we have to get our headlights fixed so they dip the right way, which seems fair enough, Next we have to get something called a "certificate of conformity." But they don't tell you where to get it. Thankfully the internet gives us an address of Ford France who must be able to supply this. Not from customer services, they helpfully give us an email address for another part of Ford France. In order to get the certificate we have to supply a whole load of info, including a copy of the logbook, details on a plate in some remote part of the car, proof of address etc. We also had to pay 135 euros for the privilege of getting a certificate which seemed to simply confirm what is in the log book. We now have get a french MOT done, fill in a big form and then turn up at some government office and hope we have all the right information.

We turned up at a different government office this week to sort out our health cover. We arrived, having completed another big form, with copies of passports, proof of address, birth and marriage certificates and proof of UK national insurance contributions. Not enough! Some french bureaucrat has decided that in order to access the french health system , we also need to have a copy of our birth certificates, translated into french! Why? there is nothing on a birth certificate to translate. We have to find an authorised translator to do this (so more money). Of course this could just be a further government job creation scheme! Or it may just be a way of the french gatting back at the English for Agincourt and Waterloo!

Our chicken (Henny Penny) scored a great hit this week. Henny wanders around the grounds picking up food all through the day. However if you sit outside, Henny turns up just in case there are any scraps to be had. If you are not careful she helps herself and has nicked a few crisps out of hand. This week we were having lunch outside on a nice sunny day. Mrs Parish leaned over to put her cup of tea on the floor and forgot she had a sandwich in the other hand. Quick as lightning the chicken struck and removed the top slice of bread!

This week we also made our first visit to a french hairdresser, Isabelle's in nearby Ambriere. Not a moment too soon as we were both looking a bit unkempt. This was a novel experience for me as Isabelle's is a mixed salon. So we turned up and I was whisked off to one part of the salon while Mrs Parish was taken to the other side of the salon. Deprived of my translator, momentary panic set in. Could I describe how I wanted my haircut? Court is French for short so that was my instruction. More problematic was the subject of conversation. With my barber in Sherborne the usual discussion was around the relative performance of Yeovil Town and Exeter City and the lower reaches of the football league  with an analysis of why English footballers cant pass the ball. I figured that my female french hairdresser would have limited knowledge of the English divison 1 and 2, so I kept to the weather and where I lived. This manged to use up most of the french I have learned at french classes since I have been here. Still my hair does look OK!!

Talking of french lessons, a unique event occurred this week. As part of our french course we are set homework each week. I have been conscientiously doing my homework each week. This week in my enthusaism I din't read the instructions correctly which ended up in me doing more homework than required!!!!!! The first time in my whole life I have done more homework than required. I think there are several teachers out there who would be somewhat astonished. 

It is now autumn and the nights are pulling and it is getting colder. The farmers have been out cutting back the maize, grown to feed cattle in winter. This has totally transformed the landscape as whole fields are cleared. This means we can see houses that have previously been hidden. It also means that I can dismiss all thoughts of the dreadful film "Signs" with Aliens hiding in fields of maize!!

Oh and by the way its still "all quiet on the western front" with the moles. Seems we have have maintained a ceasefire for the moment. 

Time for a calvados.

A bientot