As I write this week’s blog I note that we have achieved a first here at La Godefrere as we have not one but two Jedi Warriors marauding around our garden. They are complete with light sabres and have already declared that our patio table is now the meeting place of the Jedi Council to which all three of our cats have been elected. At the moment I can hear a great battle going on but it seems that the Jedi are winning and they have rescued Princess Leia from the ugly sheep lords who live on the dark side of La Godefrere. Their attack strategy involves whirling their light sabres around their heads and shouting very loudly.

The Jedi Warriors are two young boys (Kieran and Aiden aged 10 and 7) staying in the gite with their parents and grandparents. Princess Leia is their sister River who is 4. They arrived as if a whirlwind had descended on our quiet piece of France. Mind you it is quite exciting to have Star Wars going on all around us. The cats however have now adopted a superior tone, being members of the Jedi Council, and have already issued a series of decrees which all appear to involve more food and more access to the sofa and beds. I see problems ahead.

Talking of problems and wars there has been a distinct chilling in international relations hereabouts. You may recall that Mrs. Parish acted as translator for our French neighbour Giselle who wanted to complain to our English neighbours down the lane. They had painted the back of Giselle’s garden wall without asking her permission and she wasn’t happy. She then discovered that they had been cutting the barbed wire that forms part of her fence and designed to restrict access to foxes that might come in after her chickens and geese. At the beginning of last week Mrs. Parish again went with Giselle to translate her complaints but was met with a series of counter complaints. Apparently some things had gone missing and some plants had been damaged and the English neighbours blamed Giselle (Mrs. Parish suggested it was more likely to be damage by animals (possibly even our cats!). Our English neighbours went off to complain to the Mayor, who in addition to selling bread when necessary also it would appear gets involved in neighbour wars. Then things started to get a bit silly as the Gendarmes then turned up asked by the Mayor to investigate.

It was at this point that I asked Daniel (Giselle’s partner) if he had been arrested and hence the need to know the French for handcuffs (which is menottes). I told him not to worry and that as we had visited him in hospital we would also come and see him in prison!! Luckily, Daniel has a great sense of humour and could see the funny side of all this although Giselle was not at all happy. Anyway it now seems that the Mayor has conciliation as part of her skill set and has invited both parties to the Mairie to try and negotiate some sort of truce. It is all a bit unnecessary and I think a lot stems from the fact that our English neighbours do not have a good enough grasp of French and don’t seem to understand French law regarding boundaries. In France it is usual to build walls and fences on your side of the boundary line so that the wall or fence is clearly on your property and not as we often have in Britain a party wall/fence. Anyway I’m sure the Mayor will have it all sorted out soon and that I won’t need to acquire any further French criminal law terminology.

Mother in Law has now returned to Britain along with Mrs. Parish who ensured she safely returned. Mrs. Parish is also visiting our daughter who has just moved house for some gardening consultancy. All is now peaceful and quiet. My mother in law is a very nice lady but unfortunately she likes to talk a great deal. In fact she barely stops talking except when she is asleep. She also likes a drink and has created quite a hole in the wine cellar. She is also a great cat lover and accepts all the neighbouring strays when at home. Of course she doted on our three cats causing a complete breakdown in discipline. The cats came in for breakfast and then all disappeared up onto her bed. She was constant in her support for the cats having early meals so it is hardly any wonder they liked having her here. Although by the end of the week, even the cats were taking to hiding.

So once again I am here on my own and have a rather large list of tasks to perform. Mrs. Parish gave me a full briefing before she left of all the household tasks as well as instructions on looking after her vegetable garden. So this morning I had a strategic decision to make about putting out the washing to dry. A slight misjudgement of how black the sky looked meant I had just got it all out when it started raining. A better strategy was to look at the French met office website which tells you if it will rain in the next hour. As soon as I got the OK out went the washing with military precision and the forecast was correct. This also gave me the right time to bring in the dried washing which of course then deposits itself into the ironing basket. All ready for tomorrows task.

The next task was to pick stuff from the allotment. We have loads of stuff growing there, including enough tomatoes to feed the whole of the local village. Mrs. Parish is very expert at growing things and we have been eating tomatoes with virtually every meal and in addition making tomato sauce. So I was very brave and even used the liquidiser and put loads of sauce into the freezer. Our gite guests have also been given their quota. Unfortunately all the French people we know grow their own.

Part of the great tomato glut

The other thing that is growing and creating work are our apple trees which have now got loads of apples which keep falling to the floor. This results is back breaking work in picking them up. No sooner have I cleared them away then more start to drop off. I am for chopping down all our orchard trees. Mrs. Parish has wiser counsel as the trees do look lovely when in blossom and the end result is usually some cider or pommeau (a cider aperitif).

So it begins, the great apple pick up!

It was a pity that the Jedi warriors weren’t here on Monday when we had a visit from the Hornet Destruction Squad. We had a hornet’s nest in the chimney stack and the guy who came to get rid of them had to get right up on the roof and wore protective clothing that covered him completely. Necessary as the hornets object rather violently to people who try to destroy their nests. But he did look a lot like Darth Vader. But the treatment was effective and the nest destroyed and thankfully no more chasing hornets round the bedroom in the middle of the night.

Hornet destroyer AKA Darth Vader

Well, last Friday, 21st August marked the third anniversary of our arrival in France. It has been a fantastic experience and Mrs. Parish and I have never once regretted our decision to move to France. The fact that after 3 years I have so much to put in the blog about living in France speaks volumes. To celebrate we decided that we should support our local businesses. We went to one of the Charcuteries in nearby Ambrieres and they sell stuff from their “Plat du Jour”. A ready cooked or prepared meal for you to take away and heat up at home. A different main dish every day. The price is amazingly cheap and the food excellent. We decided on a prepared salmon salad starter, followed by pork cooked with plums. We then went round to our local baker who is also a patissier and bought some of their lovely bread and some lovely raspberry tarts. To drink we had some sparkling Vouvray for aperitif and some Vouvray sec to drink with the meal. Both wine come from our region Les Pays de la Loire. It was a great meal and we could also feel rather smug at supporting local traders and artisans.

All this talk of food and drink has made me thirsty so I will have to go and get a drink and then start to think about what I should have with my sausages, bought of course from the local butcher. I may have to brave the galactic wars going on outside as I need to make it to the wine cellar. I need to eat well as I have a full list of tasks for tomorrow.

Bonne santé