It's been an interesting week. One thing that has amazed me is how relaxing it can be talking to cows. In the field next to our house is a herd of Normandie cattle owned by a local farmer - Loic. There are 19 of them and if you stand by the fence they will come over for a chat. The advantage is that there is an electric fence between us so I can stand next to 19 very large animals with some confidence and chat away. Its a good opportunity to practice my french and discuss some of the key events of the day. I think the cattle may be key allies in my fight with the moles. I think they may have key intelligence if only we could work out how to communicate. I think number 3594 may be the key. He listened for some time to my ramblings and seemed to want to respond before being distracted by a large clump of grass. this may be work in progress. The moles ahve been unnervingly quiet this week.

An exciting find in our big field this week. we discovered a large pit, having been dug out by an obviously large animal. It looked like a badger had been at work and judging by the poo in the middle this could be a badger latrine. Having been fascinated by bat poo this is clearly a step forward for me. I'm sure I am turning into Chris Packham. Mind you my friend Alan who is coming to visit at the end of the month wants to take back some bat poo to show to a member of the Somerset Bat group who is apparently a bat poo expert. It will be interesting if customs want to know what they are importing!! On the animal front we saw a Little Owl this week in a tree in the cattle field. With all these animals about if a pig called Napoleon turns up then I'm off!

Our struggle to register our car in France progresses. Its one step forward and one back. Having sorted out our Certificate of conformity and after Ford fixed our new headlights we headed off to get the car tested in the "Control Technique". this is the french MOT. We turned up at the testing centre in Ambrieres full of confidence. After a few minutes the tester came back to the office and told us the headlights were not aligned and were still English. Not possible we explained as the Ford garage had fitted new lights. We showed him the receipt. But no. The Ford garage had replaced our english headlights with new english headlights!!! Why would they do such a thing? So off we went to Mayenne to the ford garage to have words with them. I have to say that Mrs Parish gave a bravura performance. Complaining in french with just the right french look of disdain and the right indignant hand gestures and gallic shrugs. She frightened me and the garage owner was putty in her hands. Profuse apologies followed and explanataions that the parts suppliers were to blame. Hopefully the new french lights will be here next week. Apart from the lights the car sailed through the test.

We thought things might be getting worse on the way into Mayenne when we were pulled over by the Gendarmes speed trap. Initial panic set in but I was confident I was under the limit so in my coolest manner I greeted the gendarmes with a casual "bonjour" and a very smart "une peu" to the question "do you speak Franch". I could tell they were impressed and after asking to look at my driving licence, which I was able to flash in front of them, they waved me on. My only disappointment was that they didn't have sunglasses, nor did they look like Alain Delon.

Chestnuts! We have loads and they are like our other fruit in that they fall to the ground where we have to bend our backs to pick them up, Simple enough you might say but chestnuts have a cunning trick. they wrap themselves in a very prickly shell so that getting them out is quite a challenge and very painful. It is also quite dangerous as while you are picking up the nuts, the trees are dropping more nuts on your head. Why can't nature be more accommodating. Not quite sure apart from roasting what you are supposed to do with them. We gave a whole load to our french neighbour Giselle and she was very pleased, so brownie points for us and she came round with a jar of chestnut jam. We are building up the courage to try some!

If my life with animals was not complicated enough we are being visited next week by my son and his fiance and their their legged dog, Tommo. We are not quite sure how the cats and chicken will cope but Tommo is probably more likely to be afraid of the cats. Still it will be great to have some more visitors and one more animal can't be that bad can it! Will report back next week.

It's now final episode of Downton Abbet so must finish.

A bientot