It is now October and all the swallows have gone. Off on their long flight to Africa for the winter and a bit of sunshine. We will not now see them until the end of March. It is now definitely Autumn and the weather has turned much colder. All thought of wearing shorts and t shirts has been consigned to history. We have even had to put on the convector heater this evening.

We have a cold wind that has been blowing all day and even a bit of rain this afternoon. It seems an age ago to last week when we sat out in shorts in the garden. It now seems a downhill path to winter. However, we still need a lot of rain to revive the garden and to help the farmers who are having to raid their winter feeds for the cattle. Our friend Patrique has not been able to bring his sheep back to our paddocks as there is not enough grass to feed them. 

We at least have a shed full of wood and have moved some piles of wood from the garden up into the lean to shed next to the house. We are well prepared for winter and the cold weather.

We also have a cave full of wine as it is the season of the “Foire aux vins” at all the supermarkets. We went to the special evening at Hyper U and spent over 400 Euros on restocking the wine racks. We now have a large supply and some good bargains as well as some more expensive but good quality wines. There is still more to be had and next week there are offers of 30% off at Hyper U and some good offers at Leclerc. Some will go back to the UK as our relatives have put in some orders for Christmas! Mrs. Parish will be taking a humanitarian delivery back to the UK in November.

The wine arrived just in time as we have had visitors over the weekend. Three mad women with whom I used to work arrived for a long weekend and made a heroic effort to make  some space in the wine cellar. We had a super weekend and ate and drank quite a lot. We managed to take in a superb meal at La Marjolaine on Saturday evening and then as a contrast had saucisse et frites at a local garden fair in the nearby village of Ceauce on Sunday.

In keeping with the mad women theme we took our guests to the museum of French sculptor Robert Tatin near Laval. He has a whole outside sculpture park with a whole range of concrete made art works. They are weird and fascinating and make for a really good day out.  

All through his life, Robert Tatin (1902-1983) was continually building up a store of experiences and know-how that resulted in him becoming an exceptionally creative artist and builder. In the aftermath of the Second World War he was actively involved in rebuilding cultural life in Paris, along with Jacques Prévert, Alberto Giacometti and Jean Dubuffet. But it was not until 1950 that his five years of travels throughout South America brought him international fame. 

At the age of sixty he settled permanently in Mayenne, in the hamlet of La Frénouse, and it is here that he created his most spectacular work of all. After his many wanderings, Robert Tatin came back to his homeland and devoted the rest of his life to creative art. His house at Cossé-le-Vivien, in the heart of Mayenne, has been turned into a museum. Its 1,200 square metres are testimony to the incredible talent of this artist who was a painter, a sculptor, a ceramicist and a builder, all at the same time.

Following a guided tour, visitors find all the keys to help unlock the meaning in his work. 
In the Avenue of Giants, the artist has created an avenue of 19 statues, each of them acting as a pointer towards the artist’s place within the human experience. From Vercingetorix to Paul Gauguin, via Jules Verne and André Breton, all are significant references for an artist who always refused to belong to any one artistic movement. 

The Avenue of Giants leads to the heart of the museum, built as a labyrinth, where you find the Garden of Meditation. The dragon, towering four metres high, is one of the most impressive statues in the museum.

Mad women and a dragon

We had a fantastic visit and our guests loved the museum.

The cats enjoyed the arrival of cat loving guests and have taken the opportunity to regain the ground lost to the hens in recent weeks. Archie was so taken that he wanted to go back to the UK with them and installed himself on the luggage shelf at the back of their car when they were packing up to go. We tried to explain that he does not have a passport and would almost certainly be regarded as an illegal immigrant. We did manage to extract him in the end, with considerable difficulty!

Archie makes a bid to go to the UK

The cats have been keeping closer to the house in recent days. In part because of the visitors but more I think because of the colder weather and they have been sticking together and arriving very early for meals. They have also reinstated their sofa time in the evenings coming inside for an hour before supper. 

Three cats together

One thing about the cats now is that they both seem to have fully accepted Petit as a member of the cat team.

Last week we bought ourselves a new car! When we came to France we brought with us our English car and then got the car registered in France with French number plates. However, it was still a right-hand drive. After being here for 6 years we decided it was time to replace the car and to buy a proper French car!

We decided to go to a local Renault garage in Ambrieres as we wanted to be able to form a relationship with the garage and so we can get the car regularly serviced. Fortunately, the garage had a “Portes Ouvert”. Literally an open doors day where we could go along and see a whole range of cars and of course have a glass of wine! It is a family owned garage and they were very helpful and friendly.

Our new French car!

In the end we chose a second-hand Renault Clio which is four years old. We picked the car up last Friday and since then have been practising driving a left-hand drive French car. We have tried to put on the hand-brake by using the door handle and bumbled around trying to find the gear stick but it is a nice car and we are gradually getting used to it.

Anyway, we are now back to the calm and quiet of La Godefrere and all our visitors have gone and we have the place to ourselves for the next two months at least. The cats are pleased to have our full attention.

Plenty of time to organise and sample the contents of the wine cave!

Bon sante