Well, in the end it was a clear victory for Emmanuel Macron who won with 66% share of the vote compared to Le Pen who got 34%. What is in many ways more significant is the number of abstentions and what in France are called “votes blanc” (literally a white vote as the voter puts a plain white slip of paper into their voting envelope to signify that they have voted but not voted for either candidate). There were 12 million abstentions by people who stayed away and did not vote. There were 4 million votes blanc. This meant that over all Macron got less than 50% of the total electorate.

Still he is President but with a lot of work to do. The next set of elections is in June for the National Assembly. The French Parliament. There are 577 seats up for election and they will be hard fought for. For Macron who has a new party and currently no assembly seats this is a massive task. So, another few weeks of electioneering and then we will know the composition and how Macron will be able to form a government. It could be worse, we could be in the UK!

So, back to the peace and quiet of rural France where nothing much happens. Or maybe not. Last week has been full of incident and here at La Godefrere we have been visited by a strange beast that comes in the dead of night! We first noticed evidence of a visitation last Sunday when we found that something had come into the garden and dug up a whole load of holes by the bank at the edge of the orchard. There was also evidence of digging in the lane where the sheep are. Further investigation revealed a track coming through the bank at the bottom of the orchard. Over the bank was a path of beaten down grass.

The mark of the beast

It was clear that it was quite a large animal and our thoughts were that it must be a badger. We contacted some friends and arranged to borrow their trail camera so we could try and catch the mysterious beast which had made quite a mess along the bank. We went down to the bottom of the big field to see if we could find a path across the stream where the beast got access. We found more evidence of digging along our nature trail and found a path across the stream. So, we set up the camera to film anything that came across in the night.
Next morning, we retrieved the camera and set up the computer to see the beast. Nothing, not even a mouse. There were no further signs of damage so we clearly had no visit that night. We set the camera up again the next night and this time in the morning there was video footage of a beast. A hare came bounding along the nature trail and then went away. But the hare could not have caused the damage in the garden. So, the mystery remained unsolved. At this stage, we revised our view and thought that it might well be a wild boar. Boar do cause damage like the digging in our garden and it might well be a wandering boar who visited our garden for a feed up and has now moved on.

We consulted a friend of Giselle’s who was visiting and she had a look and confirmed that it was evidence of a boar and that it probably came to eat up wild carrot which grows in and close by banks. So, it seems we were visited in our garden by a wild boar!
A couple of days later we were having a cup of tea at the house of our friends John and Sandra who live about half a mile away on the back road between Couesmes-Vauce and Ambrieres. We were sat in their kitchen which looks out on their front garden and 200 yards away is the road. I was looking out of the window when I saw a donkey come into view. It was running along the road. I did a double take as this is not something I expected to see. You don’t often see donkeys on the road and running as well! It looked really funny just running across the frame created by the window. 

Sandra said it must be the donkey of her neighbours Phillipe and Paulette and she phoned to see if “Gris ane” or grey donkey had escaped. It seems he had escaped and moments later Phillipe and Paulette drove past in their white van. We came out to see if we could help and met Paulette coming back in the van followed by Phillipe who had caught the donkey and was leading him home. Apparently, the donkey was a retirement gift from his son! It seems that donkeys like company and Grisane is on its own and when it gets bored it tries to escape. (Must ask my American friend Shuriu if she can scale up from the knitted Chicken vests that indicate an escaped chicken and its home to one that is donkey size!).

Phillipe with "Grisane"

While on the subject of chickens, a friend shared with me a picture of a chicken stroller. This seems to be a chicken cage on wheels with a handle to pull it along. A rather bizarre invention. Mrs. Parish says she is tempted to get one so that we can take the chicken for a walk at the same time as the cats, who still have this tendency to follow us around the garden and indeed around the big field. Mrs. Parish wants to see the look on our French neighbours face if we did this! They can’t really work out these eccentric English neighbours. It is bad enough that we drink tea with milk and let the cats come indoors.

The chicken stroller, a must have for hen owners!

The gite is now finished after the creation of the new internal staircase and of course with the fitting of Juliet to stop holiday makers falling out of the old door. We are starting to get into the holiday season and the gite is now regularly booked. We have guests this week and next and then for some reason a completely blank month in June before being pretty much booked up in July, August and September.

So, if you fancy a break in the usually quiet but somewhat odd place that is rural France why not come and stay in June. You can meet the cats and hens and experience first-hand the strange and wonderful things that happen here. You can see all the wildlife and the local countryside and sites of interest. Plus of course you get to sample the local wine, cider and French food. I will even throw in a drop of Emile’s Calvados! You can also get a good deal on the price and if you are an old friend there are of course mates rates. The weather is usually good in June and you can also avoid or recover from the 8th June General Election!!

The gite now ready for guests

We do get some funny guests and recently I explained to one couple that they should be careful as the cats were inveterate thieves. One of them looked at me a bit oddly and asked, “what do they steal”. I was tempted to say that they should hide their wallets and never leave the keys in the car with visions of Archie at the steering wheel while Moggie operated the pedals, but in the end explained about unguarded food.

Well the sun is now out and Mrs. Parish is actually sitting in the garden, rather than working in the garden. The cats are gathering at the window as it is nearly tea-time and they haven’t forgiven me for referring to them as thieves. They would prefer agents of recycling. Once they are sorted it will be time for me to visit the cave to select some wine for an aperitif and to have with dinner. The cave is somewhat full at the moment as the supermarkets have had a Spring “Foire aux vins”. Some good wines at cheaper prices and some lovely special offers of buy 4 bottles and get two free. It is good here and our new President who was sworn in today is very pro-European and pro-British who he has said are welcome to live in France. He seems a very nice man. We are so lucky when you poor people in the USA have to put up with Trump and in the UK it looks like another dose of the dreadful Mrs. May.

Bon courage