Autumn has definitely arrived and the mornings have become much colder. We have been typically English and have stubbornly remained in shorts and t-shirts in the hope that this will keep the summer going. It seems doomed to failure. At least we had a bit of rain this week to bring some relief to the garden. It may be too late for some of Mrs. Parish’s plants. However, she is of the Stoic school of philosophy and is firmly of the view that next year will be a perfect year for the garden!

The hens don’t seem to mind the weather and have enjoyed the drier garden and the opportunities for dust baths and raking dry leaves in the search for food. They are exploring the whole garden and finding favourite places to eat. One decided that it might be OK to help Archie with his tea and tried to muscle in while Archie was eating. Needless to say that Archie was none too pleased and hissed loudly at the hen. Stealing food is Archie’s prerogative and he was very upset!

Archie's tea under threat!

Another of the hens decided that humans might be a good source of food. My brother, Mike was sitting at the table on the patio when one of the hens decided to jump up on his lap to see whether there were food options. She stayed there for quite a while and even allowed this to be photographed. My brother has his video camera at all times and most of his visit has been recorded for posterity.

Lap chicken

The hen then decided that it would make a point by displaying on one of the chairs. This is very showy behaviour and at La Godefrere we prefer our hens to be team players rather then prima donnas. At least all the hens seem happy here and they are laying eggs every day. They even recognise that Mrs. Parish is in charge and they follow her each evening when they go into the nest box for the night.

Prima donna chicken

Content that in our absence the hens would put themselves to bed we set off on Sunday for a trip to Rennes to watch a football match in France’s Ligue 1. The Rennes team called Stade Rennais were playing Paris Saint-Germain. PSG are the top team in France and effectively the Manchester United of France. They have some amazingly talented players such as Neymar from Brazil; Cavani of Uruguay and the goalkeeper from Italy Buffon. So, we were very excited to get tickets for the match for ourselves and 5 friends.

The kick off was at 3pm and we got to the ground around 12-30 and it was easy to park. The ground is next to a shopping centre and there were places available for lunch. We went into a self-service restaurant called Flunch, it is a national chain food outlet. When we got inside there was a large queue which we joined. We found that initially there were no trays which eventually arrived. The queue moved slowly forward and the only food we could see were some salads and as we were conscious of the time we went for the salads. 

Then we found that there were forks but no knives but by this time we were stuck in the queue moving slowly towards the check out for payment. Just in time the knives arrived and we got to pay. There were seats to sit down. At this point we realised that there were alternative foods available including hot food and chips but this would mean going around the queuing system again by which time the food would be cold! At least the knives turned up just in time.

So, we sat and ate our salads and then decided it would be nice to have a coffee. There were machines which appeared to be coin operated and there was no queue for the coffee. On investigation the machines did not take money but only coins. We looked for the source of these magic tokens and realised that the could only be obtained at the check out and now the queue was even bigger. We went without the coffee and vowed never to eat at Flunch again!

We got to the ground and found our seats, right at the top of the ground but we had a great view from behind the goal. It was a good match and Rennes scored first. Paris just had too many good players and scored 3 goals to win the game. We were part of a record crowd of 29,205. This made getting out a bit tricky as the way back to the car park was over a small bridge which meant another huge queue! Once we got back to the cars we joined another queue of cars to get out of the car park. So, a lot of queues but we had a great day and all agreed we should repeat the experience (without Flunch) for another game.

I mentioned last week, the series of international matches that took place during my brother’s visit. France were ahead in the petanque matches and in the second round this week the French team (me) managed to maintain our dominance over the USA team (Mike) and ran out clear winners. It has to be admitted that the French team had some extra assistance from one of the hens who invaded the pitch and managed to move the jack a little closer to the French boule! The hen was chased off but it made no difference to the overall score!

Pitch invasion

France also took the backgammon series with an 11-8 victory which can on request be seen on my brother’s video! The USA did make a comeback in games of Carcassone. A strategy game based on scoring points for holding castles. However, the French drafted in Mrs.Parish to head off this challenge and with some devastating play won the day.

My brother and his partner Shuriu were with us for 3 weeks and were due to drive back to Paris on Sunday before flying back to the USA. On Saturday we planned a joint meal for the final evening. We got some great pork in a pear sauce from the charcutiers and it was up to Mike to get some bread and a tart for dessert. We also visited the foire aux vins to get some really nice wine to go with our final meal.

A good plan until my brother decided he would like to explore the rural area around us. Mid-afternoon I received a text message saying “are you there?” I replied, “yes” and then received a message saying he had got his hire car stuck in a ditch. Mrs. Parish and I went out to the rescue. Eventually we managed to find Mike and the car was stuck in a ditch at the side of the road. Mike had tried to turn around by reversing back into an entrance to a building but had found the drainage ditch.

In a ditch

We called a friend for help. While we waited we investigated the building as in the yard were various bits of wood and we found a long plank of wood. We decided that we could lever the car by putting the plank under the front wheel. With the help of a passing Frenchman we had two people on one end of the plank and managed to raise the car. Mrs Parish jumped in the car and managed to reverse the car with my assistance we got the car back away from the ditch. Luckily there was no damage to the car and by the time our friends arrived with the cavalry all was well! When Mike was ready to leave on Sunday I said to him “no exploring, go straight to Paris!”

Just to be fair I should also embarrass Shuriu as she leaves for the USA. Mike and Shuriu have had problems with the shopping trolleys at our local supermarket. At first, they did not know that you needed a coin or token to release the trolley from the store where they are all attached to the next one. They even approached a French woman who was returning an empty trolley which they tried to take off her. She had her 1 Euro coin in the trolley and was not letting go!

Later in the holiday at the supermarket they managed to release the trolley with a coin. When they returned the empty trolley Shuriu could not work out how to get the trolley connected and the coin extracted. She is pictured with two chains and some confusion which all turned out well in the end. Sorry, Shuriu but the blog needs good stories!

Which chain do I use?

Hopefully Mike and Shuriu are now safely on their plane back to Los Angeles. They have at least got one important souvenir of France to take home. Our good friend Emile had given them a bottle of his home-made calvados to take to California. Now Emile is world famous!! Perhaps Hollywood awaits.