Well, here we are 24 hours later and the wound is beginning to heal. I refer to the head wound received while playing my brother at Petanque in an international match between France and the USA.

Some explanation may be necessary. My brother, Mike lives in California, in the USA and all of a sudden decided he should come over to France to visit his little brother. He had read the blog and seen the pictures and wanted to see for himself what all the fuss was about. He came with his girl friend who in view of the widespread fame of this blog and her own privacy she wishes to remain incognito. She dances Argentinean tango and ballet and she knits constantly, drinks an enormous amount of tea and wears a long black leather coat and big black hat. I think that this reveals all the hallmarks of a CIA assassin and this is the real reason for her secrecy. She may even have been here at La Godefrere lying low after a recent hit. 

To introduce my brother into the wilder side of French culture I challenged him to a game of Petanque. This is a game in which metal balls are thrown to see who can get nearer to a small white ball. A more exciting version of lawn bowls as the balls or boules in French are thrown up in the air. The boules are about 8cm in diameter and weigh about 700 grams and are made of solid metal. In order to give the game some importance I upgraded it to the full status of an international France v USA. We played the best of 5 sets and each set the best of three legs. After an intense battle over three days the score was 2 sets all and 1 leg all in the final set. So the scene was set for a tense and gripping final leg. The game was made more interesting as we were playing on the grass in our orchard (normally petanque is played on a grit laid pitch. The fun of grass is that the boules deviate or bounce differently depending on where they land. An extra grassy bit the boule skids on. An old mole hill may cause considerable deviation.

At a crucial stage in the match France were leading and I threw my boule which touched the white target ball. So I was in prime position to win a point. The USA threw and their boule headed straight for mine. Would it knock mine out of the way and steal the point and maybe change the whole course of the game? It missed by a whisker and in my excitement I threw my hands to my head in astonishment and relief. This was not a good idea as I still had one boule held in my hand. And it was the boule that connected with my head and not my hand. Hitting yourself on the head with a 700 gram metal ball is not to be recommended. Luckily I was wearing a sun hat but still there was blood running from a cut to my head. Bravely I was patched up by the first aid attendant. Mrs. Parish was rather unsympathetic and gave me piece of kitchen roll and told not to make such a fuss!

I had rather fancied the idea of playing on with a bandage round my head. A piece of kitchen roll does not have the same effect. Anyway the bang improved my game and France went on to a magnificent victory 13-6 in the final leg. Much wine and calva was then consumed in celebration.

An expert throw, just before head wound incident!

My brother is a bit of a geek as far as computers and technology are concerned. He came with lots of gadgets including a car camera which recorded his journey from Paris to La Godefrere via Chartres and trips to the supermarket and restaurants. He also had a bike helmet camera which he used to record walks around the grounds and games of pool and petanque. He has also kindly downloaded all the footage onto my computer and now a job for the cold winter evenings of editing all this material into La Godefrere the movie. I think I might lose the footage of the road from Paris. His geekiness has however proved useful as he has managed to find a solution to my wifi problem and which will reduce the need for guests to wander around our courtyard in search of a signal. We have re-sited the wifi box and are in the process of getting a recommended wifi repeater.

Anyone who has been to France will know of the difficulties that can be faced when ordering food and wine from a French waiter. They seem to sense your fear at pronouncing the name of the dish incorrectly or ordering a wine that is incompatible with the dish or not knowing the correct ways to cook your steak. Often it is just a sigh from the waiter or a shrug of the shoulders that indicates disapproval. We went to La Marjolaine for lunch on one day and started by ordering aperitifs. Mike and I ordered Kirs made with cassis and Kate who was driving ordered a fruit juice. Mike’s girlfriend caused the waiter to almost drop his pencil and pad by asking for a pot of tea as her aperitif. So full marks for distressing the normally unflappable waiter. I think this may have led to his sheer relief when I ordered a bottle of Medoc to go with our meal. He sort of purred with satisfaction and murmured “bon choix” or good choice. So at last approval from a French waiter and I feel as though I have now been accepted!

We also went to the Michelin Star restaurant in Mayenne and had a superb meal. The French are so cool about these things and the restaurant was full but with quite an eclectic mix of guests of differing ages and backgrounds and almost none of them were “dressed up”. They came in jeans and t shirts and even one couple with a rather fat dog. Mrs. Parish suggested that the dog must eat there regularly. No dress codes here!

Of course Mrs. Parish also knits although I am pretty sure she is not an assassin other than where moles are concerned but I don’t think that the CIA or MI5 have contracts for the kind of moles that we have in the garden although I can see that there could be grounds for confusion. In the week there were knitting crises. Firstly Mrs. Parish ran out of wool just inches away from finishing her latest project and so off to the wool shop in Mayenne and a chance for Mike’s girlfriend to experience a French wool shop. Luckily for Mrs. Parish the wool lady managed to find a ball of the right colour so the crisis was averted. Mike’s girlfriend was having problems of her own. I think it was something to do with stitching on although I may have misheard. So you can see I have had a lot to worry about this week what with defending the honour of France and worrying about an international knitting crisis.

I was planning to go into a description of the problems of going anywhere in the locality due to the enormous amount of tractors about but I think I will wait until next week to introduce you to the challenges that French agriculture bring at this time of year. It is not all sitting around and drinking wine. So a busy week ended today with our guests departing back to Paris for a few days before heading back to the US. Mrs. Parish has gone to yoga so I have the place to myself. Well not quite as there are three cats hovering and pleading to be let in.

My head wound is starting to ache and so maybe I should start celebrating again with just a small glass of something.

Allez les bleus