What passes for normality has nearly returned to La Godefrere. Our guests, Sandy and Kathy left yesterday morning leaving Mrs. Parish and I to get back into the routines of bed making and grass cutting. It also meant a slight delay in this week’s blog as by the time we had finished tidying up tiredness overtook and the blog was a step too far! First of all I had to sneak out to the recycling depot with rather a lot of wine bottles. Most of which was drunk by our guests and Mrs. Parish and I were only being good hosts and had to be sociable. Unfortunately on arriving at the village hall to deposit the bottles, I discovered that there was a party going on so I had to get rid of the bottles in full view and of course throwing bottles into the container makes a huge amount of noise. So our reputation in the village has gone down a notch or two.

One of the discoveries of the week is that my friend Sandy is a double for the French painter Claude Monet. Mrs. Parish and I recently went to Giverny where Monet had a house and the famous lily pond which he painted. We went around the house and saw a photograph of Monet sat on a bench in the garden. I immediately said to Mrs. Parish there is Sandy. Both have great big beards and the likeness is uncanny. We suggested that Sandy could get a job for the summer sitting in Monet’s garden and I think he would be really good at it. He was pretty good at sitting in our garden!


Which one is Sandy and which Monet!!

Sandy is an old friend who I met while doing a Master’s degree at Keele University 20 years ago. He has the distinction of introducing me to malt whisky and thus I blame him for all ills! So as we were sampling some of my collection of malt whisky I suggested that Sandy should try some of Emile’s Calvados. He was very impressed and as we continued to have a few more drinks I found in the back of the cupboard a sample of the Somerset Cider brandy that my friend Alan had brought over for a challenge to Emile’s calvados. So we decided that we should recreate the challenge and to sample both and judge which was the best. So we drank a few glasses, just to make sure and of course came down on the side of Emile’s calvados.

Emile and Yvette have just been round to visit us. I think they wanted to make sure I was safely back in France and to check everything was OK. They had been round a couple of times and invited Mrs. Parish out for a meal while I was away. They are very caring and like to look after their friends. It can be a bit of a problem at times though. We have a couple of English friends, Ian and Sarah. Sarah speaks very good French and is very friendly with Emile and Yvette as she has lived in France for some time. They regard her as if she were a daughter and thus go round to see them quite often and expect them to come and have coffee chez Emile. Emile is in his eighties and has been a farmer all his life so does know a thing or two and likes to help and give advice. However Ian and Sarah are very friendly with another French neighbour called Olivier who is also a farmer. He is around half Emile’s age but also likes to help and give advice. This has the unhappy consequence that Ian and Sarah are constantly getting two lots of advice which often conflicts. They have to tread a very delicate path so as not to upset one or the other. Fortunately Sarah speaks French very well and has acquired good diplomatic skills. 


At this point I should apologise to my daughter Amy who is a vegan and to all my vegetarian friends. The next paragraph is all about eating meat and killing animals for food. If this causes distress I suggest you miss out the next paragraph.

Olivier is a beef farmer and we are fortunate to be able to buy our beef directly from him. His beef is excellent quality and we have had some great steaks as well as beef bourguignon among many other lovely cuts of beef. We are really lucky as we get lamb from Patrique who keeps his sheep in our field, rabbit from Giselle in return for odd jobs we do. We need to find someone who we can barter with for some chickens. Mrs. Parish keeps muttering about how we should get some chickens. I explain that I draw the line at killing chickens. I don’t mind eating them if someone else kills them. Mrs.Parish is also not keen on the idea of actually killing things (one or two Conservative politicians maybe, but not animals). She has a plan to have chickens for the eggs. That still leaves an opportunity for us to find a chicken supplier. 

(Now safe to return no further animals are harmed in the rest of the blog)

Emile provides us with cider and calvados and we get Pommeau (an apple and eau de vie aperitif) made with our apples from Giselle’s son. Unfortunately we are a bit far north for there to be vineyards so we will have to continue to rely on the supermarkets for wine. Our visitors bring us whisky which is greatly welcomed. We also get regular deliveries of tea bags from our visitors. The French tea and tea bags are designed to be drunk without milk and are consequently quite weak. You can get English tea bags in the supermarket but they are quite expensive so relying on our visitors is a good plan. I managed to bring back two huge boxes from my recent visit so we are well provided. Tea is probably the only food/drink we miss and essential for refreshment after a day’s gardening/grass cutting. Although a nice French beer at the end of a hot afternoon is very welcome.

The ants are doing very well and their nest has grown considerably since I went away and is almost twice the size. I will try in the week to get them to pose for a photograph so you can see what they have achieved. They are all working very hard and carrying bits of twig back to the nest to carry on building.

The cats are also doing very well and are enjoying their new deluxe penthouse apartment. We still have the cat flap propped open as they can’t get the hang of it. When we get the chance there will be some intensive training as we bring the store room into greater use. Despite their new luxury accommodation there has been no let up in the cat’s determination to get into the house. It seems to be that they take the view that to be where the food is kept is a logical position to take. They know where the food is kept and can smell food being cooked and thus appear at the window. We have to warn guests staying in the gite that at no time should they leave food unsupervised either inside or outside as the cats will take any opportunity to steal it.

Nearly supper time so the cats are gathering and soon will be doing their pathetic starving act on the windowsill, pleading to be let in before they pass out from hunger. Anyway in order to regain favour with animal loving family and friends there will be a happy ending and the cats will get a bumper supper and sleep with full stomachs in their soft and warm beds. As of course will Mrs. Parish and me.

Bonne soiree