This week we appear to have descended into film titles as the common theme. This usually indicates a certain amount of boredom on my part and thus a relapse into finding weird links between the different events of the week. In a week which has featured electric storms, rain and wind interspersed with the occasional sunny spell I think I have done pretty well. 

The week started with the silence of the lambs as Patrick came to take away the lambs from our paddock leaving only the three ewes. This of course meant that we had the complete opposite in the constant bleating of the ewes as they called for their offspring. This went on for about 24 hours and now the ewes have forgotten all about their lambs and are back to quietly grazing in the paddock. I’m afraid that sheep don’t have a great intellect! The collection of the lambs was quite fun as the only way to get the 6 lambs into Patrick’s trailer was to get the ewes in first and then the lambs automatically follow. The problem then comes to get the three ewes back out again without losing the lambs. Having nine sheep and Patrick in the back of a small trailer does not give much room for manoeuvre and what we experienced was a lot of French swearing and sheep wrestling (this could be a good Olympic event !!). Eventually Patrick managed to shove the ewes off the trailer and had 6 lambs remaining. He quickly shut up the trailer and disappeared off quickly, leaving the sad and complaining ewes behind.

Despite the inclement weather we seem to be having an abundance of butterflies and particularly when the sun comes out some of our plants are covered in butterflies. There are quite a few varieties including Swallowtails which are quite rare in Britain. The largest numbers at the moment are of Gatekeeper butterflies which have an orangey colour with a black spot on their wings. On a marjoram bush in Mrs. Parish’s herb garden there must have been at least 20 of these butterflies. They are known as Amaryllis in French which generally has some really nice sounding names for the insects. The French also go in for a bit of drama and the English named Comma Butterfly becomes the Robert- le -Diable (Robert the Devil) in France. Apparently named after a Middle Ages legendary knight who had a reputation for cruelty and who was in league with the devil until he repented before he died. (Some stories hold him to be Robert of Normandy who was the father of William the Conqueror). The butterfly is said to represent this as one side is light and the other sombre. The torn effect of the wings is meant to represent his penitence. All very exciting and not quite what you would expect from a butterfly!

Robert-Le-Diable (Comma) Butterfly

Of Mice and Men is a reference to the tasks befalling me as the Man of La Godefrere and therefore the one who gets the solemn task of burying the mice brought in by our cats. I say cats, but it mostly seems to be Moggie who is the successful hunter. Most evenings he goes off into the neighbouring fields and spends lots of time looking down mouse holes and quite frequently catching them. Up until recently he was eating the field mice he caught and just leaving us with the voles which apparently don’t taste very nice. Archie also goes off hunting but does not have the same persistence as Moggie and usually gets fed up and comes home without a catch. Minou doesn’t hunt; it seems to be beneath her dignity to go out into the often wet and muddy fields and wait beside a mouse hole getting cold. She confines herself to catching an occasional moth or butterfly that comes too close to her. Moggie now seems to have got bored with eating the mice and so now leaves them around the courtyard. So this requires me to do a daily round as a burial party and collecting up the carcasses into body bags and then disposing of them. I’m not quite sure how I got allocated this task!

I am also not quite sure how I got the task of collecting up the fall down apples from under our orchard trees. That season has arrived once again and we are having Bad Apples dropping from the various cider apple trees in the orchard. I had forgotten what back aching work it is to go round and pick up the apples that have fallen to the ground. The propensity of apples to fall off trees also seems to coincide with the weather turning windy and rainy which causes more apples to fall. The one compensation is that there are fewer trees this year as we had a couple cut down last year. Anyway for the next two months apple picking will be my lot. The worst thing is that there is not much we can do with the apples but throw them away. Our other fruit trees and bushes are a bit more productive and we have discovered a plum tree is our lane which this year has been very bountiful. The plums can be eaten but most of them have gone into Mrs. Parish’s jam factory. So far from La Godefrere Mrs. Parish has produced plum jam, cherry jam and blackcurrant jam. She has also imported from the supermarket box loads of apricots and made jam from them as well. So far around 20kgs of jam which is now stored in our wine cave and should last us at least 6 months. The blackberry bushes are now coming into fruit along with the raspberries so maybe more for the jam factory.

Patrick has delivered the Rabbit, duly skinned and gutted but rather scarily with its head including eyes still there. The rabbit is now safely in the freezer while we work out what to make and how best to cut up the rabbit. We may have to blindfold it while we get rid of the head!!

Hay Fever has hit La Godefrere since the first cut of our hay filed last month. Julie who with her husband Andy, now cuts our hay field came round last week with a cheque for our share of the proceeds which was very welcome. She also thinks that this year we may get a second cut. (Certainly the grass in the hay field is growing very quickly with this wet and warm weather). Julie wants a second cut as apparently our grass is top quality and makes premium hay. It’s the way we grow it! We have no unpleasant weeds and lots of clover and other good grasses. I have always thought that watching grass grow was a profitable occupation and finally it has proved to be true!

Superman and the Mole-men is a real film title and refers to a classic 1951 film starring George Reeves as Superman and directed by Lee Sholem. The film tells the story of a drilling company that plan to drill the world’s largest oil well only to uncover a race of underground beings that come to the surface. Only superman can save the world. Now translate this film script to La Godefrere and witness this week the mysterious appearance of one single mole hill in our lane. Is this just a rogue mole or a spying mission? Is this a prelude to invasion? Is it the first evidence of an underground super race of mole men intent on taking over the world? This is a job for Super Mrs. Parish who alone can save mankind. Tune in next week for the next gripping instalment.

After all this excitement I must get back to entertaining our guests this week. My daughter Jo and her partner Nicky are here for the week. They think this will be a restful break after their previous week on a safari holiday in Kenya. They have not yet heard about the moles......... 

Time for a large drink.

A la prochaine - Graham