The last week has all been about the rain and how much more can possibly come down. Today has been truly miserable and it rained all day. In fact it has been much like this all week. The cats and Mrs. Parish are going stir crazy and driving me to drink, which is no bad thing I suppose.


The kittens have invented a new sport of dangerous domestic duties. Because of the rain they have not been out much which means they have excess energy and race around the house at the same time when the front door is open they believe they should be going out. Now when Mrs. Parish is emptying the ashes from our wood burner this involves taking hot aches across the living room and out the front door. This is bad enough but with kittens rushing around your feet and trying to get out the door the whole exercise is fraught with danger. Not content with this dangerous sport the kittens are also fascinated by my ironing. Maybe they are amazed at my ironing attempts but they seem to want to jump on the board so I have to move all the furniture to avoid this. During the last week I was doing some ironing when one of the kittens leapt onto my back while the other was trying to curl up on the completed ironing as it was nice and warm. Having extracted the kitten from my back I was ironing a sheet when it seemed to develop a life of its own and started to disappear off the board. I looked over to see a kitten trying to climb up the trailing sheet.

It is not just the kittens who seem to have developed this dangerous sport idea. One the garden blackbirds has developed kamikaze practices and wants to share the lean to with Archie the supposed outdoor cat who also lives there. Quite often when I go round to the lean to there is a blackbird looking for insects on the woodpile while creeping up on him is Archie. So far the blackbird has managed to avoid capture. This may be a matter of luck or more likely that Archie is a bit overweight and not the greatest hunter!  We also get a number of sparrows coming into the lean to access the Chicken’s maize and corn.

During the week we almost acquired another cat. Mick, one of our neighbours came around to report a stray cat in his barn and as he has a dog this was not a good thing. We offered to faster the cat while enquiries were made so Mrs Parish went off cat basket in hand to catch the stray. She came back soon after with a lovely looking young grey cat. It was very hungry and ate all the cat biscuits we gave him. He then disappeared onto a ledge at the top of the hen house. So we left him there and when Henny Penny went off to bed we left him there with some food and water. In the morning the cat was gone. Not sure whether it got homesick and went home or whether Henny got very indignant about sharing her accommodation and told him to go away. Anyway we have not seen him since. Mick reckoned it had English owners as it was quite friendly. French cats are much more independent as the French tend to regard cats as working animals whose job is to catch vermin and therefore they have to live outside and earn their keep. They tend not to give cats names. When he visits Emile and Yvette are quite amused at our very English approach to cats and to protecting the kittens by allowing them out under supervision. In Emile’s view let them out and they will come back when hungry. Probably right but the kittens are so small and cute!!

On Emile’s visit he brought with him 6 bottles of cider that he had bottled. In an earlier blog I reported watching Emile crush up the apples and prepare them in barrels. He has now bottled around 200 bottles of cider. 100 he keeps for himself and the rest he gives to friends and for bartering purposes. I like the French approach to these things. We let Emile work our spare field for hay and give him the apples and pears from our few trees in the orchard. We get back bottles of calvados and cider and poire and bundles of hay from the harvest. It seems a good deal to me.

On to Monsieur Propre. This is a brand of French cleaning fluid which is used to clean almost anything it seems. The great thing is that on the bottles there is a picture of Monsieur Propre with a man with closely cropped hair and an ear ring. I am not sure what message this is intended to convey. It is either that Monsieur Propre is a hard man and that you need someone hard to fight the dirt and grease. It could also be that Monsieur Propre is gay and house proud. It could also be that he is gay and a hard man; who knows with the French!!

By the way our breath is still baited as we await a response from the Mayenne Prefecture regarding our car registration. Maybe this week

I have been working away on the stable all week and have almost completed the wine cellar. Just need to find a couple more oak beams for the walls and then get some wine racks and away we go. Of course this will also require a major investment in wine purchase to fill the racks. This week there was an offer “mega deal” at Super U where you could purchase 1 case of 6 bottles of red wine for 25 Euros and get one box of six bottles free. 12 bottles of Cotes du Rhone and 12 of Cotes de Bourg for a total of 50 Euros. Too good to miss at only just over 2 Euros a bottle (about £1.70)!! There are such wine bargains to be had its great.

Am also looking at decorations for the games room and have found a great poster with James Dean, Humphrey Bogart and Marilyn Monroe at a pool table. Am hunting for more pictures and posters for the walls, so would welcome any ideas.

I had a day off from decorating today to prepare a PowerPoint presentation on birds for the Anglo European Camera club. Peter, our neighbour is a member and when he found out my interest in bird watching I was signed up for one of their club evenings. It was very interesting setting up pictures and looking at which birds can be seen in Mayenne. I have concentrated on birds of prey which are my great love. The presentation evening is in March so it was good to get a lot of the work done well in time (most unlike me). Also it gave me a chance to watch the rugby and see England beat the Irish in Dublin in the pouring rain. The French lost Wales yesterday so was unable to taunt my welsh friend Steve a further time. It now looks like the rugby championship will be decided when England play Wales in Cardiff in a few weeks time. A year’s bragging rights depend on this match.

We have had a very nice roast pork joint this evening and a lovely bottle of muscadet. Am now typing the blog with a coffee and a nice whisky. May have to go and have a sleep in the chair. However before that the cats want supper. They have all suddenly appeared and are circling around me like sharks. If I don’t deliver supper they will start the annoying tricks, jumping onto the work top, flicking ornaments onto the floor, sitting on the keyboard etc. It’s no use will have to go.

A bientot