After the excitement of a guest blogger the La Godefrere blog returns to normal this week. Or at least what passes for normality here. Anyway, first, a big thank you to Jacqui for looking after our animals and minding the house and grounds while Mrs. Parish and I went on holiday. And also, a big thank you for writing last week’s blog, a gripping tale of life’s struggle in rural France, with cat and hen dramas. And of course, the evidence that by the end of the week Jacqui was so overwhelmed by her experience that she resorted to in depth discussions with our remaining hen, Sylvia. You see it is not just me and Dr. Doolittle who talk to the animals!

As Jacqui has reported she had to deal with the sad passing of the second of our black hens, Christabel. Unfortunately, she developed the same illness that had befallen Emmeline. We had advised Jacqui to go and see Giselle if there was any problem with the hens. Going to see Giselle is usually a one-way trip for the hens and so it proved this time with Giselle advising that Christabel could not be saved and should be put out of her misery. 

So, poor Jacqui had to take the decision to despatch her and Giselle did the deed. Jacqui then asked for advice on what she should do with the body. Giselle said that the last hen she had “advised on” for us had been put out for the fox to dispose of. This was Henny Penny, an ancient hen who came with the house who passed on about 5 years ago. Jacqui with help from husband Mark who was working on site duly left the carcass out at the bottom of the field.

Jacqui's lovely portrait of Christabel RIP

It was only then that Jacqui came back to the gite and read my previous week’s blog where I explained that we had decided that Emmeline should be buried rather than being thrown to the fox. Horror! Not only did a hen die on her watch but she had thrown away the body! First thing in the morning they rushed down to see if the body was still there and maybe they could organise a funeral. Of course, the fox had done its job and there was no trace of Christabel, not even a feather that they could bury. 

Jacqui in sombre and apologetic mood duly reported back on this Shakespearian tragedy when we returned from our holiday. I have to say that we immediately saw the funny side of the story and Mrs. Parish reminded me that it was her who had to dig the grave (which for a large chicken is quite a big hole) and that may be using the fox funeral services was after all a better option! As I am only responsible for burying mouse and vole carcasses I thought it best to agree.

When I say that normality has returned, that is not a description I would apply to the weather. Since we returned from our holiday we have had rain on most days and over this weekend we have had a series of storms and thunder, lightning and torrential rain. This has left Mrs. Parish a little stir crazy (or folle par la reclusion in French) as she can’t get out to the garden. The storms at the weekend were so severe that it put our Livebox out of action. This is the box supplied to deliver our IT, telephone and French television.

So, we are now out of communication and after trying several times to reboot the system we decided that there must be a more fundamental problem. We need to contact the helpline but have no phone or emails available. Time to us our mobile phones, so we thought. However, we don’t get a good mobile signal here and Mrs. Parish had to wander about the place trying to get a good enough signal. In the end Mrs. Parish had to stand in the middle of the courtyard and shout down the phone to some poor customer services adviser and swearing every time she got cut off.

Eventually she managed to establish that our IT box was dead and that we would have to go to Mayenne on Monday to get a new box. Mrs. Parish has just returned from Mayenne with the news that the shop in Mayenne is closed on Mondays!!!! We have no IT and so the blog will be delayed until tomorrow, Tuesday and hopefully all will be well then!!

We seem to have chosen a bad time to do our roof with all this rain and strums. We had decided that it would be a good idea to replace the slates on the house roof as we were losing slates in windy weather. Ever since they have started the roof the weather has been bad although the builders have made good progress. The back of the house is more or less complete and the front is now ready for the new slates to go on.

Work in progress on the roof (in spite of weather)

While talking of roofs, it is sad to report that the little owls seem to have abandoned their nest in the roof of the gite. We had seen them regularly in the nest entrance and on the tv aerial. For the past two weeks we have not seen them during the day. We can hear them at night when they come quite close but they are not using the nest. Maybe they have another nest site or the bad weather has affected their egg laying. It is a shame after two years of successful nesting to have this failure. At least the cats couldn't climb up there, unlike the trees!

Petit lying in wait in bird feeder tree!

And finally, all has not been well on the local Commune Council and the Mayor and one councillor have resigned after a falling out. This has led to a by-election to fill two council seats. We are able to vote in commune elections and duly went yesterday to do our duty. There were only two candidates for the two vacant seats but there still has to be an election and a minimum turnout of voters. Also, in local elections you can strike out the name of any you don’t like. Anyway, we went to vote and our names were duly read out and we had to sign to receive a ballot paper which is then put in an envelope. You can leave the envelope empty if you want none of the candidates! When the envelope goes into the ballot box one of the election officers announces that we “a vote” (have voted). We now await the result. If not enough people have voted we get to do it again next week for a final time.

All this talk of politics has given me a thirst so I must return to normality and pour myself an aperitif.

Bonne semaine