Il fait chaud. It is hot, very hot. After a week of baking sunshine today it is cloudy but hot and muggy. We are sat waiting for a predicted thunder storm with high winds and hail stones. Hopefully this storm, if it arrives, will break the weather and we will get some desperately needed rain. The garden is parched and the grass has turned brown. 

The one good thing is that the grass is not growing and so I don’t need to cut it. What a difference from April when the grass was lush green but needed cutting almost twice a week! I haven’t had to cut the grass in the orchard for over two weeks. The storm appears to be on its way but of course it could miss us completely. Storms are a bit unpredictable and could just pass us by.

It is too hot to work outside, other than late into the evening when Mrs. Parish goes out to water the garden. She must be doing a good job as despite the hot weather and no rain we are having a bumper crop of fruit and veg. We have masses of little tomatoes and Mrs. Parish insists that we have to eat tomatoes with every meal and even with our evening aperitif. We also have a number of giant tomatoes. Fortunately, I am not made to eat these and they are being used to make tomato sauce for cooking. We also have loads of French beans, blackcurrants and blackberries. So, plenty of jam being made as well.

While, there are therefore some advantages from the hot weather not all has gone to plan. We decided that as it was too hot to work outside we should advance our plan to decorate the stairs and landing including the ceiling and walls. We set to in preparing the wood and walls for painting and spent some time putting masking tape on all the skirting boards and the wooden beams which don’t need to be painted. We thought that this would make painting the walls much easier. Once finished, it was still too hot to start the painting so we decided to start this early in the morning.

We awoke to find that the heat had caused the masking tape to curl up and fall on to the floor! Why is it that everything I do seems to involve picking up things off the floor to the great discomfort for my poor back?

The hot weather has also been the trigger for some major mole manoeuvring and all of a sudden there were molehills everywhere in the orchard. For the past 12 months the moles have recognised and respected the La Godefrere exclusion zone. Under this arrangement the moles can have free rein in the hay field but are prohibited from entry to the orchard and garden. We have had a few minor incursions but nothing serious until last week when we had a major invasion.

I immediately put into operation plan x for the defence of the orchard and to force the moles into retreat. The La Godefrere defence plan involves as a first response me singing to the moles and the ultimate weapon is my repertoire of songs by Bob Dylan. My singing is so terrible that it usually puts the fear of God into the moles who panic and run away. This time there appeared to be some greater resistance. So, I moved to escalate the defensive plans to stage 2 in which I would sing the Bob Dylan songs in French!!

My all-time favourite for singing is Mr. Tambourine Man as it is easy to get sufficiently loud to really annoy the moles as well as the neighbours. The chorus translates as follows:

Mr. Tambourine Man
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
I'm not sleepy and there is no place I'm going to.
Hey! Mr. Tambourine Man, play a song for me,
In the jingle jangle morning I'll come followin' you.

Monsieur l'homme au tambourin
Hé! Mr.l'homme au tambourin, joue-moi une chanson, 
Je n'ai pas sommeil et n’ai nulle part où aller.
Hé! Mr.l'homme au tambourin, joue-moi une chanson,
En ce matin tintinnabulant je suis prêt à te suivre.

I’m currently working on “Nostalgie souterraine Bleus” (Subterranean homesick blues) and “L'allée de la Désolation” (Desolation Row). These should be enough to keep the moles at bay. It is probably classed as cruel and inhuman treatment but the only alternative is a visit from Mrs. Parish and more drastic measures! The moles would not like Mrs. Parish when she is angry.

The hot dry weather has played havoc with the local farmers who have all had to supplement the lack of grass for grazing for their cows. Our neighbour Xavier has been coming with bales of hay to give them enough food as the grass has stopped growing. It has on the other hand made the wheat harvest a lot easier as they have been able to get it in without the wheat getting wet. For the past two weeks there have been combined harvesters all around us cutting the grain and then making straw bales for collection.

There are some interesting health and safety issues. We saw one tractor with a bale of straw on its prongs using the bale to lift up some overhead electricity wires to enable a trailer loaded to the gunnels to get out under the wire! We were sat out in the garden when a huge combined harvester appeared at our fence on its way to Xavier’s wheat field just behind our gite. The harvesting goes on long into the night using large headlamps but at least it is all in now before we get any rain.

A combine harvester at our fence

We must be on the edge of the storm as we had just a bit of thunder a little rain and some hail. Mrs. Parish was hoping for more too save her having to water this evening.

It was also boiling hot last Sunday when we went to the Couesmes-Vauce village repas held this year in a field next to the cemetery. This made us a bit worried at the safety of the cooking! However, it was a super event with over 200 people under large tents to keep the sun off. The fete committee did a magnificent job in cooking and serving all these people. We had pate or melon for starters. Then a choice of lamb chop and chips or pork chop, sausage and chips. The cooking was excellent. For dessert there was cheese and a peach with coffee to follow. Naturally there was also an aperitif of kir cassis (white wine with a blackcurrant liqueur). The entertainment was provided by a magician who went from table to table. A lovely and very French afternoon. We came back to our house after for more coffee with some calvados.

The village repas in full flow

The cats say hello but they are far too hot to do anything amusing or cute. They may reappear next week! Time for a nice cool beer and a seat in the garden as it is cooler outside than in.

The cats in the sun

Bonne semaine