After days of rain the sun has been shining. It was nice yesterday and today has been a lovely day. Cold and crisp but also a great blue sky and the sun. So Mrs. Parish and I have been out and about taking photographs for the camera club monthly competition. For some reason this month some bright spark decided it would be Black and White photos. I first had to work out how to adjust the camera to take B&W pictures, so had to go and find my manual. So eventually we got organised and went off to Ambrieres to find suitable subjects.

After an hour walking around the town and down by the river which was in flood we decided that a coffee was needed to warm ourselves up. So we decided to visit the local bar tabac in Ambrieres. On Sunday morning the bar was quite full, with elderly Frenchmen, most of whom wore berets! They were having a drink and a bet. In France certain bars also act as the local betting shop with options of betting on a lottery or on horse racing or on trotting which is big in France. Trotting is horses pulling a little cart in which sits the jockey. Quite the cultural experience and a very nice cup of coffee.

Following on from my discovery and opening up of the North West Passage, Mrs. Parish decides that I can put my new found experiences to good use by accompanying her on an expedition.  So we arrive at a day when it is not raining although it is cold and overcast. Now this is a major expedition as we are going to the very edge of our estate across the orchard and right to the bottom of our big field. There is an overgrown area full of brambles and grass and undergrowth with quite a few trees. It runs along the bottom next to a winter drainage stream. As it’s such a long way we decide to take provisions, a flask of coffee and biscuits. So armed with strimmers and various other equipment we set off. After a couple of day’s hard labour we have managed to clear about a third of the way along the edge. Our intent is to create a path through this area and to clear most of the brambles but leaving enough for blackberry picking and for the birds to nest and butterflies to use. Eventually we plan to have a walk from the Gite round the orchard and then down to the stream and back around the big field. Mrs. Parish is now waiting for some dry days as there are about half a dozen huge piles of garden waste which Mrs. Parish is keen to set light to.  

I am hoping that the fire starting can commence soon as I have been a bit worried about Mrs. Parish’s odd behaviour. The other evening she was sat with her computer and giggling away to herself. When I went to look at what she was viewing, I discover she is watching the knitting version of the great escape!! This involves a knitted version of Steve McQueen on a knitted motorcycle, escaping from some knitted German soldiers. Very bizarre and I think a result of Mrs. Parish being cooped up and confined indoors for too long. I have been using the indoor time to good use of course and have kept my ironing under control. My ironing is all the square things, like sheets and duvets and recently having had visitors there has been plenty to do. Fortunately my daughter Amy bought me a DVD set of the first series of the original Star Trek. So I have been ironing while watching Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock and some very early star dates. I usually wait until there is about two episodes worth of ironing and immerse myself in a world of ironing and space exploration. Last year I had a whole set of Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes films to watch while ironing. That was great fun, especially as the American films portray Sherlock Holmes fighting the Nazis in some of the films. Maybe an early effect of space creating a time warp!

So “Flocons D’Avoine”, our great new discovery. Mrs. Parish had this bright idea that we needed something warm and filling for breakfast to sustain us while working outside in the cold. So what we needed was porridge and so off to Super U we go to search out packets of porridge and of course as there is an English section in the supermarket we initially found some good old Scott’s Porridge Oats. The last visit to Super U we spotted porridge amongst the French cereals and selected a pack which had Quaker Oats on the front of the packet but with the description in French. On turning over the packet we discover the French for porridge is “Flocons D’Avoine, which literally means flakes of oats. Flocons D’Avoine sounds so much more exciting and romantic that porridge!

Cats! For some reason unbeknown to me the cats seem to dominate this blog. I suppose it’s the fact that the cats seem to dominate my life here at La Godefrere. The cats have been a bit stir crazy this last week with them spending a lot more time indoors as the weather has been so awful. It’s a bit like having young children cooped up indoors. The comparison is such that I end up talking to the cats like they were children. I find myself, when the cats are fighting upstairs saying “don’t make me come up there” and “if you misbehave once more then outside you go”. I also even say to them “this is your last warning” as if they could distinguish this with the twenty warnings they have already had, but I say it none the less. I even caught myself explaining to Moggie that trying to steal Minou’s food was a bad thing and then saying that “we have already had this conversation”. This afternoon when Archie was chasing Minou around the lounge I even resorted to “Archie, you should know better”. I’m not sure who needs counselling, the cats or me! 

Moggie this week was unwell. We can’t work out whether he ate something or had some sort of virus. On Thursday at supper time he didn’t eat his biscuits which is very unusual. The next morning he refused to eat anything and took to the sofa and slept the whole day, refusing all attempts at food. We kept him in a night as we were concerned. On Friday he slept all day and didn’t eat anything. We were now getting a bit worried and thinking we should take him to the vet when he managed a bit to eat late evening. In the morning he had a small breakfast but by evening he was eating not quite at his normal express rate but better. Today he has been completely recovered and it’s a bit like he trying to make up for the past two days by being outside rampaging round all day. It is a bit like young children one day on death’s door, the next day completely better and you end up thinking it was easier when they were ill! Cats!!

Moggie is now pole axed on the sofa along with Minou and Archie. So for a moment there is peace in the Parish household and I can concentrate on the blog at the same time watching the six nation’s rugby. This afternoon it is Ireland v Scotland. Of course yesterday was “Le crunch” between France and England. The French were under great pressure in the media to do well as last year they were pretty poor. In the end a game of great excitement was narrowly won by the French. So all of France is happy today!!

My good friend Al has a few worries as for the past couple of weeks I have not mentioned alcohol in the blog. This is probably due to the fact that because the weather has been so bad I have had time on a Sunday afternoon to write up the blog and therefore have finished before aperitif time. This week it has been nice so I have been outside most of the day and am therefore writing the blog in the early evening. So I have already had a very nice kir and am looking forward to a very nice Touraine Sauvignon with dinner tonight. Mrs. Parish has assumed her rightful position as chief cook and is making a very nice meal of filet mignon of pork. Even better she has decided to make a cherry sponge with the cherries we picked from Giselle’s garden in the summer. So lots to look forward to this evening. Best news of all is that Mrs. Parish is now promising custard (crème anglaise in French) but definitely custard for me!!!

I may even need a drop of Calvados to finish things off. Poor Emile, who makes the Calvados, is in hospital at the moment. He was admitted just over a week ago with a suspected hernia. However they could not operate as he has a dickey heart. Eventually they decided to fit a pace maker and then do the hernia op later. For someone like Emile who is always busy this must be a trying time, although apparently he is enjoying flirting with the nurses. He is suffering though as he is on a strict diet and is not allowed bread. Emile reckons it is impossible for a French man to eat a meal without bread. It’s part of his heritage!! So I will drink a toast tonight to Emile. Bon courage, mon ami!!

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