The weather has got decidedly colder in the past couple of days after a week of mild yet very rainy days. It has been pretty miserable all week and most days we have had heavy rain. So Mrs. Parish and I have not ventured out much. We have used the time to decorate the spare bedroom. This also doubles as Mrs. Parish’s sewing room and has been a bit of a mess for some time. We have completely repainted and put up new wallpaper and it now looks really smart. We have reorganised the layout to maximise the room for sewing and other craft activities.

Mrs. Parish's sewing room now redecorated

After a wet week the weather has turned cold as we get winds from the north. Yesterday it was cold and windy but today has been cold but sunny with no wind. A perfect autumn day and Mrs. Parish and I went for a lovely walk around the lanes near us. We met our neighbour Daniel and dog Pepito going up the lane and so we did the walk together and had a nice chat and all the gossip about neighbouring hamlets. We went past Madame Letissier’s who is 91 and saw where Giselle was born. It is now early afternoon and we have lit the wood burner and I am sat by the fire writing the blog while Mrs. Parish has disappeared to try out the new sewing room. 

The cats have welcomed a bit of sun after being cooped up in the cat palace all week. This morning all three were laid out on the top of the car sunning themselves and of course making my car dirty. They are now sat at the window trying to plead cold weather and therefore some in time or an early tea.

The bad weather does not seem to have deterred the boars who are creating havoc and mayhem in our hay field. We went on patrol yesterday afternoon and the number of craters has increased considerably along with plenty of turfs that have been dug up and thrown to one side. There is no sign of this just being a raiding party ready to move on and we now seem to face a major boar invasion. The ants in our forward lookout post seem to have deserted and the ant nest appears to be closed for the winter. Not a sign of a single ant on duty yesterday.

 I have tried my usual method by walking along the bottom of the field singing Bob Dylan songs but they seem immune to this sort of defensive manoeuvre. We may have to resort to calling up reinforcements to launch a counter offensive. This may mean having a chat with the local Mayor and maybe using the local hunt to try to encourage the boars to move on (or sadly to face more serious consequences!!).

I reported last week that undercover of the boar incursions the moles that are clearly in an evil alliance have been making flanking moves up into the lane next to the house. This we have now discovered was merely a diversion and we have found molehills within the La Godefrere exclusion zone. Mrs. Parish’s search and destroy team have been put on alert and soon the moles will get a taste of cold steel or at least a mole trap! It is very tiring all this battling with nature. We are just waiting for some nicer weather and we have to get back to clearing brambles and weeds on the trail which will be dedicated to developing local nature. You would think that as we are trying to help build a nature trail, that nature would at least cooperate!

On Wednesday we had a gap when it stopped raining so we turned our attention to the old ruin that we bought in the summer. It abuts our courtyard and we have long term plans to develop a walled garden/barbecue area. Our friend Ian has a small digger and has been promising to come round and remove some of the stone that has fallen down. So on Wednesday Ian arrived with digger and Emile came also with his tractor and trailer to carry away the stone. Ian needs the stone to reinforce the banks of a small lake in his garden. So we spent a day moving stone. 

Ian and his little digger tackle the ruin

At least the digger did most of the work and we managed to clear most of the stone that has fallen out into the lane. Giselle came out to see what we were up to and told us that the buildings had been unoccupied and falling down for over 70 years. There are two buildings that join on to our barn (the same one that is now the cat’s palace). They were a house and a storage building. Both are very small but the house was occupied by a family with four children! It seems hard to believe now. Still we made some progress and there is much more to do and the next stage will be to get the rest of the roof removed so that we can safely move some more of the stone.

The ruined house where a family and four children lived

Since we have been living in France we have been struck not only by the kindness and friendship we have been offered by the French but especially by how polite and well mannered the French are. Whenever the French go into a shop and there are other customers there, they always say hello to everyone. It is a “bonjour monsieur/dame”. Good day sir and madam. And everyone says hello back. When leaving there is always a “bonne journee”. Have a good day. Whenever we meet people we know or are introduced there is always a handshake or if we know them a kiss. This even applies when we meet our neighbours in the lane. Even if we have seen them the day before you still shake hands or kiss on both cheeks.

If you meet someone new they almost invariably invite you for a coffee next time you are passing. And they really mean it and get cross if you don’t call round. In England I think if people invite you for coffee you think they don’t really mean it at all and are hoping desperately that you will never take up the offer. 

We quite often get asked into Giselle and Daniel’s house for coffee and sometimes this is when we have been helping them in the garden or such like. Last week, for example, we helped Giselle’s son Jean-Pierre to collect some of our apples for him to make into cider. After we had loaded up his van, Giselle insisted we join them for coffee. We got to their door and realised we still had our muddy wellington boots on. So we started to take them off. Giselle immediately said we would do no such thing and that we were to come in as we were. She was very insistent and it was almost as is if she were saying that she would disgrace the name of French hospitality and would die of shame if she allowed us to take off our boots. It is the same when we go round to Emile and Yvette’s.

And you can’t just have a coffee; you have to have some cake or biscuits with your coffee. They then insist that you have another and it is almost impossible to say no as they look so disappointed if you try to decline the offer. Then of course out comes the calva, although I have noticed that it is permissible to say no to a tot of calva in your coffee.

This friendship and kindness is a very valuable strength and has many benefits. Our friends John and Sandra have become friends with the French farmer who farms next to them. They were invited round for coffee and happened to mention in conversation that they were engaged in a long and arduous task up clearing away brambles etc from the edge of their front garden. This bordered onto the farmers land and he immediately said he would bring his tractor round and dig up the brambles and pout in some fence posts for them. He was insulted when they offered to pay him. He did it as a good neighbour!

I have just noticed that it is starting to get a bit darker and that the afternoon has disappeared. So it would seem is all the bird seed as the birds have cleared both feeders which I only filled this morning. Not only does nature conspire against me it also costs me a fortune!  I need to order some more seeds and peanuts from the League Protection des oiseaux. There is only one solution to such problems and that is to go for an aperitif, which I think I need. Mrs. Parish has yet to emerge from the sewing room so perhaps I can tempt her out with a Kir and the promise of my speciality fish pie as I am duty chef today.

Bon dimanche