After Emma and her hens departed we thought that all would be calm and quiet here at La Godefrere. Admittedly they were a hard act to follow but of course this is France and there is always something happening to cause excitement and merriment. This week has produced some interesting experiences.

Firstly this week has seen the arrival of the “Foire au Vin” or festival of wine at our local supermarket. In fact all the supermarkets have a wine festival and get in whole loads of wine of all sorts and at a variety of prices. There some great deals as well. In some cases with 20% off and a few wines at half price. So it is a great time to restock the wine cellar and to try out some new wines. Our local supermarket is SuperU at Gorron which is about 20 minutes away (and its larger mate HyperU which is at Mayenne. As we are fidelity card holders we were invited to the launch of the festival on Friday evening. This offered the chance to taste some of the wine and to buy when the supermarket is normally closed.

Wine waiting to be tasted

So we arrived on Friday evening and had a look at the vast range of wine on display. They had sent us the brochure so we had an idea of the wines we wanted to buy. What we hadn’t quite anticipated was that they would not only offer to let us taste a whole range of wines but that they would also feed us. And the buffet was definitely French style. Not your cucumber sandwich and sausages or cheese on sticks with a few crisps. Here there were oysters, smoked salmon, French bread, salami, pate as well of course a range of French cheeses. You had to fight your way past a crowd to get to the food but it was good. The wine tasting was also great and gave us a chance to taste some of the more expensive wines that are normally out of our price range. Fortunately Mrs. Parish was the designated driver and after a sip to taste the wine she poured the rest into my glass.

Anyway we left with 7 cartoons of wine (each with 6 bottles). So the cave is looking good this morning and the wine racks are full. However my relatives in England are now sending me lists of wine for me to bring over before Christmas. It looks like we will have to go back and get some more. In the mean time I suppose I will have to start drinking some of the wine. Just to make sure that it is of sufficient quality for mother in law and sisters in law. In fact I could probably start now as it is time for an aperitif.

Saturday morning we were woken by the sound of hunting horns as the hunting season has begun. The maize field up our lane was surrounded by white vans, men with orange reflector jackets armed with shotguns and a whole load of hunting dogs. They were trying to flush out a fox. Foxes can do a lot of damage, particularly in killing chickens and the hunt is usually called out by local farmers or those with chickens to keep the number of foxes under control. The hunt is usually quite a chaotic affair with lots of shouting and it seems that more often than not they don’t manage to get the fox. Of course being France the hunt only goes on till lunch time when they all knock off for a communal lunch and wine and are then in no fit state to do any more hunting!

I was discussing the whole hunting thing with Gandalf at our local recycling centre. I was quite surprised to find that Gandalf worked at our local tip. He is the local Council tip operator and has the most fantastically long white beard. I quite expected to see some hobbits but none so far. Gandalf is actually English and has lived in France for some time. He speaks French and it is quite an experience to see English people struggle to ask him where to put rubbish and then for him to answer in English. I was chatting about the hunt and he was telling me that he has lost around 40 of his chickens to the fox. So he was very keen for the hunt to be successful.

We have had some interesting encounters here at La Godefrere this week. The farmer, Xavier, who owns the field next to our gite has brought back his herd of cattle to graze the field now that the grass has improved. There are about 30 cattle including the return of Felix the very large bull. He parades around the field giving the impression that he owns it. It also gives me the opportunity to chat with them all over the fence. Felix is not very communicative. He just looks down his nose at you. The others come up to the fence for a chat.

On the other side of La Godefrere in the sheep’s paddock there have also been developments with the returns of the ewes but this time with a huge great ram. So Rambo is in the paddock with 5 ewes. He is there for a purpose and is expected to impregnate all of them. He has a large daub of red paint on his chest so that you can see when he has done the job! So far he doesn’t seem very interested in the ewes. I’m wondering if he is gay. I haven’t mentioned anything to him as he might be a bit sensitive. Mrs. Parish suggests that it is more likely that the ewes are not quite in season yet and that he is biding his time. Maybe, but I wonder about him.

Rambo with his ewes

Mind you it could just be that I am feeling a bit threatened with all the testosterone surrounding me. I would never suggest that Felix was gay.  I don’t think the fence and electric wire would be enough to restrain him.  Anyway he occupies the field with lots of his offspring so there is no real doubt about his virility.

 If all this excitement was not enough our butcher decided this week to be part of the launch of the Butcher’s Super Hero promotion. This involves the butchers giving away plastic models of super heroes. It seems that there are three of them and all to do with promoting the goodness of meat. This week after a visit to buy some meat for the weekend we were given a model of Miss Vitamin who promotes the fact that meat is full of vitamins. We wait with baited breath for the other two!

The butcher's super hero, Miss Vitamin

Today I have been duty chef and have decided to make a Mediterranean Fish stew using white fish together with prawns and mussels. I got the mussels from the fish stall at our local market in Ambrieres. The meal was a great success (Mrs. Parish approved) and of course washed down by a very nice muscadet white wine bought from the foire au vin.

The weather has been lovely and sunny today so I have been out for a long bike ride. The first time in ages. So now after some good exercise, a good meal and a very nice wine. So now I think it is time for a sleep in the chair in front of the TV. But wait, not yet. Three little cats sat looking in the window are telling me that they should fed before any thoughts of sleeping! They are now tapping on the window so I have to go!!

Bonne soiree