Moggie has excelled himself this week and is starting to demonstrate his hunting prowess. Up until now he has adopted a sort of scattergun effect by charging up to holes in the ground and sticking his paw down them and then running crazily away. This was not a very successful strategy. This came to a sorry end when he put his paw down the wrong hole and it got bitten. More recently he has been honing his technique and we have seen him in the fields watching and listening at field mouse holes. There are a huge number of these holes in our garden, orchard and fields. Up until this week he had either not enough patience or not enough skill and did not catch anything.

This week he seems to have cracked it and in the past couple of days he has caught and returned home with at least 4 mice. Of course he marches up to the house all pleased with himself and then precedes as all cats do to play with his prey before eating it. He also growls if any one comes near his catch. We have been suitably impressed by his hunting but were amazed yesterday when he came into the garden with a rabbit in his mouth! We decided that it would be prudent to take this away from him. On closer inspection it looked as if it was already dead and must have been one of Giselle’s cast offs. When she has any of her stock of animals that die she has a rural French habit of throwing the carcass into a ditch for the fox to dispose of. We think that Moggie must have got to the rabbit before the fox. Anyway it was quite a feat for him to carry the rabbit back from the ditch and up into our garden. Moggie now has a range of hunting sites, from the sheep field to our neighbour’s garden as well as Giselle’s ditch. He takes himself off for an hour at a time now and is far more active than the other two. In fact Archie has not been far from the house since his missing presumed locked in a couple of weeks ago. We think he must have gone into a neighbour’s garage and got shut in, so he missed supper and breakfast. Since his return he has not strayed outside our garden and obviously is not prepared to risk missing food again. Minou has never been one to move too far and is always the first to sneak back into the house whenever she can. She is very much of the “why go hunting and get wet and dirty when food just arrives at the house” school of thinking and she likes to be clean and warm. Moggie on the other hand is constantly wet and dirty. Mrs. Parish reckons he is just a typical boy!!

On the subject of Mrs. Parish and hunting, there have been heroic deeds this week. Our neighbour Peter is currently away in Britain for a few weeks. We noticed that the moles have been taking advantage and a major incursion had taken place. There were a whole load of mole hills across Peter’s garden. We have treaty obligations to Peter who is one of the La Godefrere Triple Alliance and so as Chief of the General Staff, I took the decision to deploy Mrs. Parish and her crack collection of mole traps on a covert search and destroy mission behind enemy lines in Peter’s garden. We considered a dawn raid but after due consideration came to the view that this would be too early! After a leisurely breakfast Mrs. Parish set off and laid a series of traps for the moles. A few days later and the mole activity seems to have ceased yet there are no signs of captured moles. The very mention of Mrs. Parish is now enough to cause fear and panic amongst the moles who have obviously retreated. Now that I am out regularly on the tractor mower, which is now operating superbly with its new battery, the noise of this and my singing seems to be keeping them out of the orchard. So all goes well at the front, for now.

Mrs Parish laying mines.

The bats are back. Last evening I went for a stroll at dusk and saw several bats in our lane and around the back of the gite. I think this is a little earlier than last year as it has been quite warm recently. Of course this meant rushing indoors to find my trusty bat detector and checking on them. They are the pipistrelle bats that we had here last year and it is great to see them back again from hibernation. We have also welcomed back the swallows this past week. We have about six now flying around the place and in the past they have nested in Peter’s wood shed where they still have nests up in the rafters. We also have blackcaps and willow warblers back in the garden and in our big field. We are now waiting for the first sounds of the Hoopoe. A magnificent bird with a black and white crest of feathers on its head. 

We have also had extra sheep this week. Patrick brought round another ewe with her one lamb. So now we have 3 ewes and 5 lambs. They make in very difficult to count them by hiding behind the sheep shed so on my morning inspection I am never quite sure whether they are all there but behind the shed or whether they have been stolen in the night. The more likely scenario is that they are there but hiding so I decide to come back later and double check. The new ewe is not too happy to be here and over the past few days has been making her feelings known by lots of baaing.

A break from the blog to feed the cats has dissolved into chaos. I called the cats in. Minou was sat on the window sill and Archie was sat on the bench. Moggie came racing up from the bottom of the orchard. They demolished their tea in seconds and Moggie immediately went off outside and has disappeared. Archie has however decided to try to get inside a small cardboard box about half his size, which is decidedly amusing. He has now abandoned the box and Minou has managed to get inside.

Back to the relative sanity of the blog and a bit about French road signs (which immediately reintroduces insanity). The direction signs on French roads can very frustrating as they seem to put them on the wrong side of turnings. This means that if you are looking for a turn to go towards a particular town then you have a problem. As you approach a turn which may or may not be the one you want you discover that the sign is sited for traffic coming the other way. You can only see the sign for the direction once you have gone past the turning and of course it is then too late and you have to go on to find somewhere to turn around. The other trick the French play is too provide a sign showing the town you want and then at the next turn to show all sorts of other towns but not the one you want so you are left guessing which is the right turn. Mrs. Parish and I have often got lost particularly going through towns and you always seem to end up in the middle of a housing estate with no idea of which way to go!

Being in rural France does produce some interesting and unusual events. Yesterday afternoon I was busy drinking a well earned bottle of beer when Mrs. Parish came round the corner and announced “there is a lorry load of faggots in the lane”. All sorts of politically incorrect thoughts raced through my brain with accompanying images and I almost choked on my beer. On going to inspect I found a lorry which was fully laden with wood branches tied into faggots ready to use to start fires. It seems that our neighbour had the faggot man in to relieve her of a load of wood she did not need.

Moggie has just flashed past the front door on some hunting expedition no doubt.

Liverpool have just beaten Man City in a vital game and so I think it is time for a drink to celebrate. Don’t tell the sheep but we have lamb for dinner so I must go and choose a suitable wine.

A bientot