I'm on holiday this week and sadly the wifi in our gite runs very slowly so I can't upload photos. You can however see the pictures on my facebook page "La Godefrere". Sorry!

It has been a sad week here at La Godefrere as we mourn the loss of one of our hens. Poor Emmeline the most bolshie of our three suffragette hens has gone to the great hen house in the sky. She had been ill for the past week, off her food and tottering around the garden and for lengthy periods just sitting and doing nothing. We were thinking that we would have to take her “to see Giselle”. A euphemism for getting Giselle to use her sharp knife to put her out of her misery.

Mrs. Parish had sharpened up her own garden knife in case she had to do it herself. Mrs. Parish can be very resolute when necessary, but I don’t think she would have relished the task of a quick slice of the neck. In the end it was all unnecessary as Emmeline passed away quietly on Wednesday last week. We decided not to utilise the Giselle method of disposal. This is to leave the dead carcase out for the foxes to dispose of! We decided that we should bury Emmeline in the corner of the vegetable garden.

Emmeline was well named as she was an independent hen and spent last summer escaping out of the garden even after we had clipped her wings. We kept Emmeline in isolation and the other two hens seem OK but they are still not laying. Mrs. Parish thinks we may have to get in a new brood of chickens to get us some eggs. However, we will then pension off the two older hens to a life of pecking around the estate. Our neighbours will not understand us as the French eat or get rid of hens that no longer produce eggs. We are English and socialists and believe that all should be entitled to a reasonable pension plan. Mind you the next lot of hens we get will have nice, quiet, middle class names that cause no problems!

Apparently, there could be a rose wine shortage this year! Increased demand worldwide and a poor harvest due to adverse weather which has reduced stocks could lead to there not being enough bottles to meet demand. This is shocking news as we like a nice bottle of rose here at La Godefrere. If the worst happens we can always drink red or white wine but fortunately, I bought a couple of boxes of rose at the last “Foire aux vins” and have been topping up the cave on our weekly trip to the supermarket.

I have to report that there has been another sandwich incident at La Godefrere. We are having work done to replace the slates on our house roof and have once again engaged Mark Jessop to do the work. They started last week, and the workers included Gary who is a great favourite of Archie who has raided Gary’s car on a couple of occasions to steal his lunch. Gary is very much regarded as the sandwich van amongst our cats! Last week it was very hot and Gary despite his previous experience had left his car window slightly open to avoid his sandwiches getting too hot.

While Archie is quite a large cat he can get through very small gaps and a slightly open window with food on the other side is no contest for Archie. I actually noticed Moggie trying to squeeze into the car and went to stop him. When I got to Gary’s car, Archie was already inside eating pate sandwiches and with him and helping was Petit. The clingwrap had been torn off and all that remained of Gary’s sandwich were a few crusts. He had been warned but clearly hasn’t learned the lesson, that Archie is lethal with sandwiches. Now Petit has learned how to get into cars and we have seen him since climbing up to car windows to see if he can get in.

We did replace Gary’s lunch with a ham baguette, so he did not go hungry!

We decided that while there was work going on to replace the roof that we would go away on holiday for a week. We advertised for someone to come and stay for free in our gite if they would look after the cats and hens. We were lucky to get several volunteers but, in the end, chose Jacqui, an English friend who lives in France. Jacqui is a very good artist and likes the idea of a week of peace and quiet where she can spend some quality time creating art work. So, a perfect solution and we can proclaim that we now have an artist in residence at La Godefrere.

It is a little ironic that our builder Mark is also Jacqui’s husband and so she does not have complete peace and quiet! We felt a bit guilty about this but found that when we got to our holiday gite at Crossac in the Loire Atlantique, there was a builder putting a new roof on next door to us!! We also had a cuckoo as a neighbour and despite the initial excitement of hearing a cuckoo (quite rare these days) it wore off as the cuckoo started up at first light and has been cuckooing for most of the day!

Anyway, we are having a great time and I am writing up the blog sat outside in a very nice garden with a coffee and a rather large Armagnac. I have been kept company by a rather small field mouse who is sat about three feet away munching on a piece of clover. Rather charming but I am forced to reflect that it would not last 2 minutes with our rampaging and ever hungry cats! Not to mention the little owls who would I am sure have been interested.

Still, it is a very nice gite and we are enjoying a break from the rigours of life at La Godefrere. The gite is within the national nature reserve of La Briere marshes and it is full of magnificent birds from Ibises and Storks to Marsh Harriers and a whole lot more. We have a visit to St. Nazaire planned and a trip to the beach at La Baule with a chance to have a nice meal at one of their lovely fish restaurants.

Next week we will be back to normal but not quite as I have engaged Jacqui to become a guest writer and to produce next week’s blog detailing her take on life at La Godefrere as she will have been in control and looking after the cats and hens this week. So, an exciting first for the blog!

My little field mouse friend has wandered off and I am left alone to finish the blog. It is such a lovely evening but getting a little chilly and I think I will have another Armagnac to help me with this task.

Bonnes vacances