We have arrived at the first Christmas here at La Godefrere. My daughter Jo arrived on Saturday and we enjoyed our first Christmas meal on Sunday which we designated as Christmas Day no.1. We had ordered a roti de pintade. A roast of guinea fowl from our butcher. It came deboned and rolled around a lovely filling of mushrooms. We had this with a whole load of vegetables picked that day from Mrs. Parish’s vegetable garden, so fresh as anything. The dinner was superb and we washed it down with some excellent white wine, a nice Graves. And to follow we had ordered a three chocolate log from our baker. That of course went down a treat. So this was the first Noel and we exchanged present with Jo. 

There is a film from Disney called the Very First Noel. Not a well known film and seems to feature some weird looking wise men. Not on my recommended list. A much better film is Cinema Paradiso. A 1988 film about a young Italian boy who frequents a small cinema and befriends the projectionist. The cinema burns down and is rebuilt. The film is about the relationship and the projectionist often gives advice by quoting old movies!!

The similarities are there with the cinema in Gorron that I went to last Monday to see the new Bond film, Spectre. The film was in English with French sub-titles. There are a lot of English people around here so the cinema often shows films in English. This was my first visit and I was surprised that in such a small town there was a cinema and even more surprised that it is a new cinema. Apparently the old one burnt down! It was however a typically French experience as we went with some English friends (Mrs. Parish decided that she would stick to her yoga night as that would be more exciting that a Bond film!). and all met up in the local bar. The film was due to start at 8-30pm and I asked if this was English or French time. It was clearly French time as at 8-30, nothing happened. After about a quarter of an hour half the lights went out and then they all went out but no film. Then after about 25 minutes the lights came back on and the trailers started with the lights still on. After another 10 minutes they seemed to get it all correct and we had the lights off and the film going. It was a typical James Bond film with the usual clichés but watchable. Anyway Gorron cinema has now become Cinema Paradiso in my mind.

Clearly why the film was late

I mentioned last week that there were calves in our garden, having snuck through our fence. We had gone out and repaired the fence but a day later there was the same light brown coloured calf in our garden. So we went out and in true Rawhide style did the big round up and “kept them dogies rolling”. Technically speaking Rawhide was not a film but a TV series that featured Clint Eastwood. As I have delusions of being Clint Eastwood when out on my tractor (instead of horse) the link to rawhide is apposite and covers our attempts to encourage the calf back into the field. 

Move 'em out, head 'em up,
Head 'em up, move 'em on.
Move 'em out, head 'em up:

In the face of all this singing the calf decided to go back through the fence. The problem seems to be that the electric fence on the field side of our barbed wire is too high and the calf can get underneath, He then finds a place where the barbed wire is loose and steps through. Sometimes followed by his mates. It is however always the light brown calf that is first in and has now started to escape through the fence into our big hay field. This reminds me of the famous Monty Python sketch about a clever sheep. Here repeated with calf reference.

“He's that most dangerous of animals, a clever calf. He has realized that a calf's life consists of standin' around for a few months and then bein' eaten. And that's a depressing prospect for an ambitious calf. He's patently hit on the idea of escape.”

Either that or he has been watching Steve McQueen in the Great Escape I half expect to see the calf on a motor bike next! But it is always this one light brown calf that finds the gap in the fence and gets through. I was talking to Daniel about it in the week and we agreed that next time it trespassed we would keep it and hide the body in the freezer! There is probably a film link there but I can’t at the moment think of it.

From the Great Escape (cow version)

My final film of the week is the Birds, that great film by Alfred Hitchcock, based upon Daphne Du Maurier’s story. Now it is winter we get big flocks of birds around the countryside and in the trees in our garden. Usually waiting for a turn at the bird feeders. I seem to spend a lot of money and time in keeping them filled up. If they are empty the birds gather in the trees around the orchard and stare at you looking hungry and menacing. Then a flock of crows fly over and circle round above the field. In the end the birds get their way as I have to fill up the feeders. If the crows are not menacing and threatening me they turn their attention to winding up the local buzzard population. You would think that buzzards with their huge talons would stand no nonsense but the crows really don’t like buzzards and often we see aerial battles between the buzzards and their crow enemies. The buzzards often end up turning over in mid flight and reminding the crows that they are well armed! I watched last week a battle over a place on top of a telegraph pole. The buzzard was sitting there and the crows wanted to move him off. But the buzzard kept returning to his spot. In the end the crows gave up!

Buzzards and Crows

Mrs. Parish and Jo have gone shopping so I have a bit of quiet time to write up the blog. The weather is very mild at the moment but the sun has just broken through, offering the chance of a stroll around the estate this afternoon. We can see patrol our borders to watch out for escaping calves. At least the boars appear to have moved on and the moles are currently quiet. However we have learned that there is always some bit of the natural world that is conspiring to make life difficult for me.

That is another week gone by with not much mention of the cats. In fact apart from meal times we have not seen much of them this week as the weather has been wet and miserable. I’m sure they will make up for it. Moggie did join our fence mending team when we went to repair the barbed wire. He was his usual helpful self! No doubt they will assert themselves and return to the centre of things as we approach the next Christmas which will be me and Mrs. Parish on our own for the real Christmas Day, probably for the first time since we had the children over 40 years ago. We have a nice roast turkey stuffed with chestnuts from our butcher to look forward to, so I am sure we will cope!

Bon Noel (premier) Graham