We have visitors and are therefore busy eating and drinking, so it will be a fairly brief blog this week.

It is the first of October and autumn marches on. The last of the swallows have now departed and flown South along with their following hobbies. They will be back in late March next year. Earlier in the week we had lots of sun but it has now turned to a rainy weekend. 

Here at La Godefrere we are getting ready for the colder weather and the winter. Our wood store is full of wood and we have had our chimney swept so we are prepared. The plan is of course to not have to light up the fire until November!

To help us we have been taking advantage of the “Fore aux Vins” or wine fair at our local supermarket. We have invested wisely and now have a full to over flowing wine cave with around 100 bottles. That should help us survive the winter and the short days and long nights! Of course, we also have to buy for our family in the UK and have taken extensive orders. Mrs. Parish will be going over on a mercy mission in November with a car full of wine. This, naturally, requires us to test the wine to make sure it is suitable for the family!

The wine cave renewed!

We have some help this weekend with a visit from my former work colleagues Alan and Debi. They have sacrificed themselves with a visit to help us try out the wine and also to come with us to the Michelin 1-star restaurant in Mayenne. It is called L’Eveil des Sens” which translates as the awakening of the senses. The chef is called Nicola Nobis and the standard of food is superb. It is expensive but not compared with Michelin starred restaurants in the UK.

What is great is the whole experience as the waitress service is also immaculate and the food is served with attention to detail and the waitresses explain what is on each plate. They also have the skill to pour exactly the same amount of wine into everyone’s glass. In addition to the ordered menu there are also extras as hors d’ouevres and an amuse bouche to start and petit fours with the coffee. It is a great way to spend a lunchtime couple of hours in proper French style.

We seem to have eaten well here at La Godefrere as well with roast boar on Friday evening and today our guests are cooking coq au vin. And it is a further chance to try out the newly purchased wine. We have also spent our evenings playing games including Articulate. A game where a team member describes a word on a card for their partner to guess. Remarkably Alan and I have somehow won both games. I think we have worked together for so long that we understand how each other thinks. For Mrs. Parish and Debi this is an unfathomable nightmare!

We have also had an ongoing Backgammon competition, which I was, yesterday, leading. Alan’s famous lucky bastard dice throwing will no doubt be a feature of the next couple of days!

Today we were up at a reasonable time as the cat’s demand to be fed at around 7-30am. By the time we had finished our breakfast the peaceful Sunday morning had been interrupted by the sound of the local hunt who were hunting around the maize field next to us. We were alerted by the usual sounds of dogs barking, horns blowing and men shouting. The hunt tried to surround a very large maize field and then sent in the dogs to try to flush out a fox which they try to shoot. There is a gunman stationed about every hundred yards around the field.

The hunt surround our maize field

There are dogs coming in and out of the maize and hunters shouting at their dogs to keep them under control, so they don’t get shot (in theory). The whole thig is a cacophony of noise and chaos and it seems that seldom is a fox dispatched. At least this morning anyway. After about an hour they all went off somewhere else.

We went off to visit Emile and Yvette who had invited us all round for coffee and a taste of Calvados. Another great French experience for Alan and Debi, who are getting the full cultural treatment!

The cats have been suitably spoiled by Auntie Debi and we will need to get back to our normal rigid regime when our visitors have left. For the past week Archie has been fulfilling his dreams of being a biker cat and has spent the time sleeping on a motor bike belonging to some visitors to the gite. I think he has visions of being a hard rocker cat!

Archie the biker cat

We have just arrived back from an afternoon walk and we have resumed the backgammon tournament. As I predicted Alan has regained his lucky bastard status and after my highs of yesterday I have lost two games in a row. It would seem that Debi is faring little better. I get to play her next and try to restore my fortunes. The only answer is to open the wine and so we are having a lovely Kir Royale. Crème cassis with a lovely sparkling Saumur. I have been to the cave and got some nice Medoc to have with the coq au vin and some white, Graves as an alternative.

In France there are always compensations. After my game against Debi which ended in ignominious defeat, I am clearly in need of some comfort. I think I probably need another Kir Royale to make up for it. The tournament resumes tomorrow.

Bon courage