I am sitting out in the garden overlooking the orchard on a beautiful evening with the sun still shining and after a lovely day it is still warm at 6-45 (7-45 English time). I am sat here with a glass of kir and some snacks and my trusty computer writing up the week’s events reflecting on an interesting week at La Godefrere.

You will want an update from the Front I suspect. Well after last week’s success, we have continued to hit the moles hard. In a brilliant flanking manoeuvre Mrs. Parish went in with all guns blazing with a full on assault using minefields to protect the La Godefrere exclusion zone. With help from Moggie whose digging ability was most useful, although he came close once or twice to setting off the traps, Mrs. Parish strategically placed the minefields to intercept the moles. While this was going on I took to the tractor and gave the moles both barrels of “Blonde on Blonde” a double Dylan album sung at full volume. No mole could take such a battering and as a consequence latest intelligence reports show them to be in full retreat back into the big field. I am planning a major tractor and singing patrol tomorrow, partly to maintain the pressure on the moles but also because the damn grass has grown a couple of inches in the past 5 days. The wet and warm weather has transformed the grass which a few weeks ago wasn’t growing and was looking really parched has now the lush green look and its growing like mad.

I also need to cut the grass in the lane that leads from the main road down to our hamlet. I have taken over as lane monitor since Peter went back to England. The grass has grown here too and I need to get it back under control. It is the verges of the lane that are grass and the skill of this is to cut the grass and not to fall into the drainage ditch which is between the verge and the hedge. Peter told me that he tipped into the ditch on one occasion and Giselle had to get her big tractor out to pull him clear. I am aiming to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to me!

I have also been into the sheep paddock and cut the grass there. It had got very untidy and become quite spiky and full of dead grass. So I went in with Mutt and Geoff and cut their grass. I also sang to them and they seemed to like Van Morrison as they followed the tractor around for a while until they got bored. Sheep seem to have a low boredom threshold. I have noticed this before when talking to them and they just wander off after a short while, regardless of how interesting the conversation is. I decided while I was in the paddock that it would be a good idea to clean out their little breeze block house. This is a roughly built shelter consisting of two separate chambers in one structure each with its own entrance. I started to rake out a rather large amount of sheep’s poo when Mutt and Geoff came over to see what I was up to. They may have wanted some more Van Morrison but I had come to the end of my repertoire. Any way when they saw what I was up to they immediately went into the second and still dirty chamber and proceeded to lay down and remain there, despite my request for them to move. The message was clear; they did not want me to clean out their room and politely told me to clear off!! I was tempted to remind them that they would be off to the abattoir in a month’s time but decided that this would be a little distasteful. No pulling their legs now!!!

Mrs. Parish is now calling me into dinner and to a lovely roast dinner. So I will need to resume the blog after dinner........

Am now back but indoors now as the sun has set and it’s quite dark. I have just been round the garden to see the bats. They don’t require me to sing to them. I can hear owls in the distance although we haven’t seen many barn owls this year. They had such a bad winter but hopefully will recover. I do hoot to the owls but they do not seem keen on my singing. Anyway, back to the blog.

The upshot of this week is that I have decided that I should release an album of my songs. Songs to madden moles and sooth sheep and confuse cows. The working title is “Songs of a lonely tractor driver.” Maybe that is the answer to my empty barn, to convert it to a recording studio. My last idea of building a model train layout did not go down well with Mrs. Parish. She rather unkindly let it be known that the ladder to the first floor might disappear while I was up there. A recording studio could be a great idea.

I have noticed that the cats like to sing. They usually sing when they see a bird sat on the roof and the song seems to be aimed at persuading the bird to fly down and into their mouth. It’s not happened so far but it could be that if we work on this I could use it as a backing track to my songs. Graham and the Cool Cats. X factor look out and new sensation is on the way, move over One Direction!!

One thing we have noticed since we arrived in rural France is that the lifestyle is obviously good for longevity. I mentioned last week about the amazing Maurice who is still working as a farm labourer at the age of 89. He was round at Giselle’s again in the week helping to chop up some wood. On Tuesdays each week Mrs. Parish and I go to “Cafe and Conversation”. This is a chance to meet and talk with a group of both English and French people who want to learn the other’s language. It is organised by Jacqui who runs our formal French lessons. It is a good chance to practice French and to meet new people. Last week there was a new French lady. Our subject for the week was numbers and dates and so I had to ask her when she was born. When she said she was called Giselle and was born in 1924, I was astonished. She looked no more than 70 and had decided that as she was approaching 90 next year she should learn a foreign language! I think the secret must be the fresh air, good French veg and of course French cheese. But it must be that they all have a tot of Calvados every day which keeps ill health away. What’s good for the French must be good for me so I look forward to a glass of Calva as my reward for completing the blog. Giselle was a very lovely woman and we had a good laugh having a conversation in broken English and French.

The other exciting thing for this week is that our builder Mark has arrived to fit new windows and doors. We decided that the current lot let in too many drafts and also needed painting every year as they face directly into the sun. The cats have got very excited as one of the workmen, Gary is the one that lost his cheese sandwich to Archie last time he was here. So the cats have been all over their vehicles, without any luck as all food has now been carefully stored.

Emile and Yvette popped in this afternoon and thankfully will be around in the next week to pick the rest of our cider apples and pears. Hooray. For the past 3 weeks I have spent at least an hour every day picking up apples and pears and fighting off wasps and hornets and cursing gravity. Thankfully this torture will soon be over and hopefully we may see some bottles of cider and poire to provide some compensation. Of course I am still working on my plan to chop down these trees and replace them with something that will not drop so much!

Ah well, time I think for that Calva now.

A prochaine semaine