Yet another action packed and exciting week here is rural France. Few would believe just how interesting and incident packed it can be around here. The week started with Moggie finding a new friend in the shape of a small Hedgehog. The first hedgehog we have seen since we came to France. Of course Moggie had no idea what it was and spent some time circling around this spiky thing and trying to decide whether this was a thing he could catch and eat or something else. He came close and had a good look and then gave the hedgehog a few gentle taps with his paw. In the end he decided that he couldn't eat it and it would not play with him so eventually he got bored and wandered off. The other two cats showed no interest at all.

Moggie meets Harry the Hedgehog

Archie of course always show interest if there is food around. We now take great precautions to ensure that no food is left unattended or put away in a safe place, either the fridge or hidden in the microwave. We even make sure that the bread is put away as Archie in particular is not above stealing bread out of the bread basket. One thing that we had not factored was that vegetables might be on Archie’s menu options. Mrs. Parish likes a bit of beetroot and has grown some in the Potager and then cooks them ready to have cold with a salad. So after dinner last week there was a small bowl of beetroot chunks left on the worktop. Both Mrs. Parish and I had left the room and I returned to see Archie with his head in the beetroot bowl. Fortunately I reached him before he had eaten any although he had licked them, so we had to throw them away. Mind you it was lucky we spotted him as discovering purple animal poo in the garden might have created some interesting discussions!

This week love has definitely been in the air. I have spent most evenings at dusk watching the fields behind our gite. There are two Little Owls who have been flying and hunting just as the sun goes down and before it gets dark They are definitely are a pair and must have a nest with young as they are making lots of noise and both out hunting for flying insects and mice. Hopefully I will see the young owls over the next couple of weeks. As well as the owls there are two foxes who hunt in the same field and these are also quite clearly a pair as they meet and greet each other and then go hunting together also looking for small mice in the fields. Interestingly we also get hares in the same field and they seem to ignore each other. The foxes clearly recognise that an adult hare can move extremely quickly and so there is no point trying. The hares also seem to know this and don’t bother to run off when the fox walks quite close by. Again I am hoping the foxes have a den close by and that soon we might see the patter of tiny fox cub feet.

I am not sure that the wasps come into this category of love being in the air, but they have built two nests close by the house and so we have to try to get rid of them. There is no easy way of dealing with a wasp invasion as unlike the moles (who are still all quiet, touch wood) there are hundreds and thousands of them. The only option is to have a full on attack with a can of wasp destroyer. Mrs. Parish has a wasp’s nest in the Potager and this is a large hole in the ground. So far I have sent in ground troops in the form of Mrs. Parish and it has taken three cans to get rid of them. I also have a nest just outside my workshop in the roof tiles. This will involve a more carefully planned commando assault involving ladders to scale the workshop wall before launching an aerial assault on the wasps. Mrs. Parish has determined that I can undertake this dangerous mission. We have scheduled the assault for 2200 hours this evening. So far this year the hornets have been very cooperative and have not tried to nest in the roof. One or two prospecting hornets have been driven off by the anti aircraft water spray.

Back to love being in the air, this week two friends of ours (Ian & Sarah) got married here in France. Our friends are doing up a house about 10 miles from us (I probably should use kilometres but I can’t quite get the hang of them). They still have loads of work to do but decided that all their friends and family from England should come and stay with them. 25 were booked in either in various bits of the house, in camper vans or in tents. Ian even built some temporary showers and toilets to cope with the onslaught. We were on standby to provide access to our shower if on the wedding morning there were any problems. Mrs. Parish as the garden expert was committed to provide flowers for the wedding and spent the last week praying we would get no adverse weather to affect the sweet peas and other flowers. We even had back up vase of flowers in the wine cave just in case. But all went well and a car full of flowers was dispatched on wedding day. 

We (I say we but mean Mrs. Parish) volunteered to do any other tasks in the lead up to wedding day and she agreed that we (this time including me, apparently) would go round and clear all the flower beds outside their house which were covered in weeds. So on an incredibly hot day I found myself pulling weeds and hacking back the over grown jungle outside their house. I protested that normally I am able to sit in my garden with a glass of wine and watch my gardener at work. Something had gone horribly wrong. I was told to stop moaning and get on with the work!

Anyway the wedding went off OK. In France you have to get married at the local Mayor’s office as all weddings are civil affairs (you can choose to be blessed in church but you have to get married at the Mairie. Apparently under French law the marriage must take place with the door open so that any member of the public can see what is going on. The wedding party in the evening was a great affair with a complete mix of English and French friends. We sat next to Ian and Sarah’s neighbours from down the lane and had quite a discussion about the wine bottles which were in a nearby shed so you had to disappear off to get a refill. I remarked to my new French acquaintance that this was one of the reasons for coming to France as the wine never seemed to run out and the bottles were never empty.

After the meal we had the strangest experience as they had booked a live band to play music for the 100 plus guests. Ian had built from straw bales and sheets of wood a stage and dance floor in an old barn, but inside we discovered a Blues band made up of 4 English and one Frenchman and were treated to an evening of blues music including Mustang Sally, Honky Tonk Woman, Route 66 and many others. They were a very good band and it was a bit bizarre to encounter a blues band in the middle of rural France. Just as well it wasn’t a French band as usually their music is pretty awful. So Mrs. Parish and I rocked the night away and went back 40 years in time. We got back hoe around 1pm to a wonderful clear night sky full of stars, absolutely amazing and a bit romantic, give that love was in the air. Sadly the moment was gone as we heard the roar of a combine harvester still working in the field next to our neighbour Peter harvesting the wheat field. So we were deafened by the noise, blinded by its headlights and immersed in a cloud of dust. So much for romantic rural France!!

We were back to Ian and Sarah’s again this afternoon for a more informal get together but the band was back for a second gig and we had the chance to hear them again and have some more barbecued food and of course some more drink. Our French friends Emile and Yvette were there again as they are also good friends of Ian and Sarah and in fact we had first met them at Emile’s house. A nice afternoon to round off a good weekend and I also discovered that we had kindly volunteered to go round and help clean up next week. Not sure I remember that bit. And now Archie is sniffing raw beetroot so I must go and rescue it. Hey ho, time for a drink I think!

Bon courage