Firstly, the latest on the hunt for Trigger. He was seen before Christmas the otherside of the village and we have now had other sightings from around the same time. We have been to the area and looked around but sadly no sign of Trigger. We have leafleted houses but no luck so far. We will keep searching.

On a lighter note I reported in the last blog that Mrs Parish and I were intending to spend a quiet New Year’s Eve with a nice meal. We did indeed have a splendid meal. Mrs Parish produced a terrific Escalope of Veal in a balsamic vinegar sauce. We washed the meal down with an excellent Medoc and of course a glass or two of Emile’s Calvados. We decided to watch TV and having found nothing on English channels we turned to the French. We started to watch Gosford Park in French but having tuned in half way through and not having seen it in English it was a bit confusing. Not to worry a glance at the TV guide showed that the adventures of Blanc Neige (Snow White) was on. No problems here as everyone knows the story. Not the French apparently. It started off well with a suitably wicked queen doing the bit with the mirror on the wall but then things took a turn for the worse as there appeared some strange animals that looked like hyenas, OK a bit of artistic licence as it could be a avant garde version. When a dinosaur turned up that was enough, especially as there appeared to be no dwarves. Back to the guide and another channel promised the best cabaret in the world. Obviously not to be missed. It seemed to involve a very grey haired host (I think he must have been a French Terry Wogan) talking to a table full of “celebrities” and being very full of himself. When we finally got round to the cabaret it seemed to involve a lot of magicians doing the same trick or illusion of making things disappear. The final straw came just after midnight when a troop of Korean Hat Jugglers appeared. Their act seemed to involve a lot of leaping about swapping hats. Mrs Parish and I couldn’t work out whether we had actually witnessed this or whether it was a calvados induced hallucination. We decided it was time for bed!

More excitement on Jan 4th when we were invited round to Giselle and Daniel’s house next door for Galette des Rois. This is a celebration of Epiphany in France to mark Twelfth Night and the arrival of the magi. In France this celebration involves eating a tart made with frangipane or apple. Traditionally there is a figurine hidden in the tart and the person who has it in their slice is King for the day. Sadly, Walt Disney has caught onto this tradition and produces tarts in the supermarkets complete with figurines and a paper crown. Giselle had bought the Ice Age version complete with a Manny the mammoth figurine and one of Sid the Sloth together with an Ice Age paper crown. So there we were 8 rather mature neighbours (6 English and 2 French) all waiting to see who would pull Manny or Sid from their slice of tart. Fortunately both Giselle and after some sleight of hand plate swapping by English neighbour Mick, Daniel were the victors and had the privilege of wearing the Ice Age paper crown!!!

In any event it was a nice afternoon and gave us a further chance to get to know our neighbours and of course more importantly to widen the anti mole alliance. We were able to enlist the support of Daniel who has a French perspective on the mole problem. Apparently now is not a good time to try to trap moles as it is too wet and the moles when moving along their galleries will have to push earth ahead of them, which in turn gums up the mole traps. So our quadruple alliance is now forged for a spring offensive. The fellowship of the four will prepare for the final confrontation.

The kittens have now descended upon me and I have two sitting on my arms and occasionally walking across the keyboard. Minou has just put a paw on the keyboard and typed the number 0063. This could be significant and could be the week to use this in some way. Perhaps a lotto ticket or a bet on horses. Minou has also developed the annoying habit of leaping onto my shoulders from behind. This can be disconcerting particularly when I am cooking and she leaps from the table onto my back. The problem arises when she misjudges the leap and land halfway down my back and digs her claws in to hold on!! Archie shows no sign of recovering his senior boy status. Yesterday he and Minou were helping themselves to some left over curry sauce. While Archie continues to protest that he is really an indoor cat and that there has been a terrible bureaucratic mistake, the kittens want to be outside cats and are trying all sorts of ploys to get outside (we have let them out under supervision a couple of times but they want more freedom!). Yesterday Minou was hiding in the empty log basket waiting for Mrs Parish to take it back to the woodshed; I think she had been watching a repeat of Colditz! Now Moggie is trying to catch the cursor on screen while Minou is hiding behind the computer and trying to catch my fingers. Archie has now arrived and is demanding his tea!!! Feeding the cats is a bit like the Claridges’ restaurant service. As we have three cats they all need to be served at exactly the same time otherwise they steal each other and you end up with Archie eating kitten food or all three trying to eat from Archie’s bowl!!

The cats have been fed and are quiet for the moment so must finish the blog. When we moved to France and bought a house with a wood burner one vital piece of information passed me by. Mrs Parish would claim that an awful lot of vital information passes me by! However what I did not factor in when considering sitting in front of a roaring wood fire is that the wood comes in rather large logs and has to be moved. We had no Friday a delivery of 6 cubic metres of logs for the fire each being 20 centimetres in length. The lorry deposited the logs in a very large pile just outside our lean to shed which serves as a woodshed. So Friday and Saturday were spent loading logs into a wheel barrow and moving them to the shed to be stacked in great piles to be stored until collected for the fire. It is hard work. Of course it does not end there. Some of the logs have to be split so we have smaller bits of wood to start or revive the fire and then even smaller bits of wood for kindling (I thought that meant reading electronically!!). So we have a variety of implements including a log splitter, wood saw and a rather sharp axe. When chopping wood for kindling yesterday I noticed that Mrs Parish wields an axe with some force. Made a mental note to myself not to upset Mrs Parish when she has an axe in her hand!! Anyway it was rather fun wandering around singing the lumberjack song from Monty Python, at least until Mrs Parish waved the axe at me.

Finally this week the starling reappears in my story. You may recall that there is one starling who visits our garden that seems to have mastered the calls of buzzards and owls. Well now he has leaned the call of the lapwing. Last week we spent some time searching the fields for the lapwing only to discover it was that bloody starling again. Maybe a shotgun should be my next gadget? Alternatively, I could suggest he goes on French TV, would be more entertaining than the best cabaret in the world!!

I have managed to work on the blog a bit earlier this week as the weather is not good. We have had a low damp mist hanging over us all day. In fact the weather has been really dismal for some time and seems likely to continue for the next week. I am waiting for the builders to finish work on the stable games room so I can get on with finishing off my wine cave. The builders have made really good progress and should be nearly finished by the end of the week. One benefit of all the work on the stable and with the wood is that since we have been in France I have lost half a stone in weight. That deserves an extra glass of wine this evening.

Bon weekend