It has been an astonishing week in which the sun has shone, we have had blue skies and not a drop of rain for 5 days. Some sanity has returned to the weather. It has actually been quite warm this week and on several afternoons I have sat out on the bench on our patio and spent some time sat in the sun reading a book! It is almost spring like with birds singing and flowers growing.

Mrs. Parish is very happy, not only has she been able to complete her programme of organised arson in the garden by having bonfires galore, she has also dug over parts of the garden and potager and planted shrubs and shallots. It has been a momentous week for me as I have launched the tractor season. It has a duff battery so had to jump start it from the car but then once out in the courtyard I even gave it a clean and polish! It is looking very smart. I even cleaned out the air filter and topped up the oil. If this goes on I shall have to acquire the title of mechanic as well as skilled operative driver. So off I went to give the grass in the orchard its first cut of the new season. With great pomp and ceremony and with me singing a happy tractor song, the tractor set off across the courtyard and round into the orchard and after cutting one strip of grass the engine died. Fortunately at the top of the garden as Mrs. Parish and I had to push it back to the courtyard so that we could jump start it again! The second attempt was more successful and the grass was given its first cut and we are now looking very smart.

I’m not sure why it should be but it seems that all the animals we come into contact with are at best eccentric and at worse completely bonkers. This week we have been bemused by the behaviour of a male blackbird. It has been defending its territory in past weeks by seeing off another male blackbird. They can be very noisy and aggressive when sorting out territorial disputes. This blackbird has taken to fighting itself! The barn where we have the wine cave and games room has in the ground floor two half circle windows which are slightly recessed so that there is like a window sill. The blackbird has landed on the sill and decided that the mirror image it can see of itself is another blackbird. So it spends an hour at a time jumping up and down and attacking the bird in the mirror. This happens on the side facing the house but also we discovered at the same sort of windows at the back of the gite. When the blackbird is fed up at the front, it then goes round the back, presumably to try to catch the “other” blackbird by surprise! It has resulted in the windows being made dirty with marks caused by the blackbird’s attacks.

Our neighbour’s dog, Pepito is also a bit barking mad, literally. It quite often barks for a couple of hours if Giselle and Daniel are away from the house. Last week Giselle had to go into hospital for a couple of days and Pepito refused to eat while she was away. Pepito has recently taken to developing a sort of howling which sounds like an air raid siren. He seems to use this early in the mornings. Interestingly the French still test their air raid sirens which are located in most communes, usually on the roof of the Mairie. Not sure whether Pepito is just copying the Mairie or has developed this independently. I am just worried that the local impressionist starling will take up the siren. The starling already does a pretty good impression of a buzzard and a kestrel, it can only be a matter of time before we hear an air raid siren from the top of the gite.

Our cats are all quite odd as you will have gathered. In the week I discovered Minou sat on the stairs and intently staring at the window in the roof, over the stairs. She was sat absolutely still and staring at the window. She was quite spooked and eventually came down the stairs all low to the ground and was even reluctant to come for her supper. Either she saw something on the roof, or imagined it. It could of course have been something in the cat dimension which no-one apart from cats can see. Who knows!

I have had to suspend writing the blog to watch the rugby on TV. It is the crunch game between England and Wales. Not only is it a vital game but bragging rights depend on the result. My Welsh friend Steve will be ready on the other end of a text message with suitable taunts and insults. In the event it is bragging rights to me as England win quite comfortably in the end. The French also won yesterday in a close game against Scotland. This builds on football wins for England and France in the week so all is well with the sporting world and I can face my French friends.

As I have mentioned, I have spent some time sat outside in the garden reading and soaking up the sun. I have been reading a very good book about the First World War (and have watched some good programmes on TV). I can’t help being struck by the similarities over the causes of the First World War and the origins of our struggle against the moles. Quite clearly the moles are in the position of the Kaiser’s Germany and are intent on domination of the fields in this area. Admittedly they have not actually assassinated any local Archdukes. Nonetheless, they have invaded the orchard and infringed the neutral status of Loic’s cow’s field. After consulting with the foreign minister of our neighbour Peter, who is of course one party to the Triple Alliance with Giselle and Daniel, we decided to issue a strongly worded note to the moles, demanding their withdrawal or face a declaration of war. No such withdrawal has taken place and so we have declared war and mobilised Mrs. Parish and her crack mole trapping squad. Tomorrow at dawn she will be sent into action. The lights are going out all over La Godefrere!

Another pause in the blog as I am informed by a strongly worded note from Mrs. Parish that war will be declared unless I get her a drink and report to the front where dinner is about to be served. Lamb with rosemary is on offer and I think that total capitulation is called for so I comply in full with Mrs. Parish’s conditions.

Dinner was excellent and washed down with a nice Fitou. Am just considering whether to go for a Calvados or perhaps a nice malt whisky, or maybe even an Armagnac. Difficult choices but I think that I am up to the challenge. Whisky tonight, I think. I go for a drop of Aberlour.

The fine weather has thrown the cats into confusion. As it is clear and quite warm into the evenings they are not sure if they should be in or out. Normally once they have had their tea they come into the house and have about 4 hour’s sofa time when they curl up for a good sleep. Now they are in two minds. Tonight Archie is outside on the bench and Moggie and Minou keep coming in and out. Once one of them is outside the other is so nosey they have to go out as well. There is so much going on outside that they want to be there but they also want to keep an eye on us so that they don’t miss out on supper. Minou and Archie are now in and starting the long road of intimidation towards supper as it is now 8pm. Moggie has gone missing and is probably off on some sort of adventure. I think I had better have another whisky and it will clear away all of life’s little problems.

A la prochaine