The beginning of the week was one of mixed feelings. On the one hand I was basking in the great backgammon victory but on the other sad to see my friends return to Britain after a great weekend. Alan has asked me to point out for the sake of accuracy and his self esteem that he did win on both the pool table and darts board. But as these were not official ranking tournaments we can safely move on without making too much of a fuss. Needless to say the official Backgammon tournament trophy is safely on the kitchen shelf where it belongs!

So this week has been quiet after all the excitement. Our French teacher had unexpectedly to go back to Britain for a week or two so we had no French cafe and conversation (and the exploits of 92 year old Giselle) or our weekly French lessons to divert us. Talking of 92 year olds the man from Interflora turned up on Saturday with a large bouquet of flowers for Mrs. Parish. A car arrived in the courtyard and this really ancient looking French gentleman got out with a bunch of flowers. He obviously has a Saturday job as a flower delivered and he looked like he was well into his eighties. This part of France seems to be well populated with very elderly people. No doubt a combination of wine, calva, good food and the French country air. All of which bodes well for me and Mrs. Parish. The flowers were from Alan, Dave and Mike as thanks for her hospitality at the weekend.

Talking of plants reminds me of the excitement on Friday of this week as at 7-15am a very large lorry turns up with a delivery of plants for our garden project. It was still dark and Mrs. Parish and I were out helping the delivery man to unload as he couldn’t get the lorry into the courtyard. We then wheel barrowed the plants in ready for sorting out. There were some rather large plants which reminded me of the Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. Admittedly the Triffids came from outer space following a cosmic storm. Our plants came from a nursery near Larchamp which is in France and not some far away galaxy. Also the Triffids could walk and our plants only moved in the wheelbarrow. But the plants were big and had strange Latin names that only Mrs. Parish can understand. Some of them had very large spikes, which I noticed when one attacked me so you can see the Triffid comparison is perfectly valid. Mrs. Parish begged to differ.

Moving the plants into the Potager as a temporary home was somewhat amusing as the cats decided to help.  Minou decided to sit in the wheel barrow and go for rides up and down the garden. Moggie stalked the plants, hiding behind our existing veg and leaping out as we passed. Archie remained aloof as is his right as senior cat and he just sat on the bench and watched. Mrs. Parish has already started planting. The climbing plants have gone in around the pergola and we have started to plant a line of shrubs alongside Loic’s field down what we have renamed Archie’s way as it is a path he always uses.

We have also been mending fences. This is not apologising to the neighbours for my eccentric English behaviour but literally mending the fences between us and Loic’s cattle. They are kept in on his side by an electric fence but some of the posts which delineate our boundary had become loose and were in danger of falling over. Either onto Loic’s electric fence and risking an escape route for 25 rather large bullocks into our garden or falling onto the path which runs alongside the fence. Mrs. Parish had the previous week purchased a very large sledge hammer so our plan was to secure the fence by hammering in some round fence posts to prop up the existing posts and to secure the barbed wire. Lifting a large sledge hammer is difficult enough but then swinging it in such a way that it hits the post and not Mrs.Parish is trickier that you would think. Fortunately Mrs. Parish is safe and well but the fence posts took a battering as did my measly muscles which are now very tired and aching. Spending a working life talking for a job does not prepare you for the rigours of French rural life. Talking to the cows and sheep is fine, I am beginning to be able to talk to the French people and of course I have been well prepared for the food and drink but all this physical labour is wearing me out. Mrs. Parish helpfully tells me that all this physical labour is what causes the French to live so long and to stop complaining! The end result is that we do have a fence that is more or less upright and unlikely to fall down any time soon. I have explained to Mrs. Parish that extra calva rations will be required this weekend.

On Thursday a parcel arrived for Mrs. Parish is contained a book entitled “Knitting cats and kittens”. You can imagine my alarm. Had Mrs. Parish obtained a training manual to teach the cats to knit? I had an awful vision of some French sweatshop full of cats knitting for the fashion market. Once that image had dissolved, I then thought perhaps Mrs. Parish had decided to fill the house with knitted cats and kittens to complement our real life cats. I have enough trouble coping with our three cats and the thought of a house full and trying to tell which are sleeping real cats and which knitted was very worrying. Fortunately Mrs. Parish likes knitting and is planning to make gifts to send to other people. A relief!

The cats have been entertaining as ever and with the weather getting cooler they are trying all sorts of ploys and ruses to get extra indoor time. We equally are trying to find easier ways to keep the cats out or to eject them when they are here. Fortunately some guests in the gite have helped us. They bought some cat treats for our cats and left them behind when they went home. Mrs. Parish decided that these would be a good way to encourage the cats to leave. Now all we need do is shake the box and the cats arrive at the front door and are willing to go out for food. I have to say that Minou and Moggie are there right away as soon as the box is shaken. Archie takes a few moments longer. It is almost as if he is weighing up in his mind whether it is worth leaving his warm sleeping place to go outside. However the stomach always wins out and he can’t resist so there is a loud thump as he jumps down from the bed and heavy cat paws down the stairs to get his share. It is better than picking up a grumbling and heavy cat who hisses and growls all the way to the door.

Football has properly arrived at La Godefrere! When we were in Britain we subscribed to BT Broadband and through that to BT sports. Which meant we could get live football without paying an exorbitant amount the evil Murdoch Empire at Sky. When we came to France we could not get BT broadband and went with France Telecom (which is now Orange). We didn’t want to go back to Sky which cost around £50 per month. The French equivalent is Canal+ but they cost around 50 Euros a month so decided to go without and watch match of the day. Now we have discovered Bein sport which only costs 11 Euros and has all the French League 1; Italian Serie A; Spanish La Ligua and German Bundes League games as well as all the European Champions league and world cup games. So now we have almost constant live football. Mrs. Parish quite likes football but not constantly!! But my life is now complete and as a bonus they also cover all the major international rugby games.

Mrs. Parish is quite fond of wood burning fires and is in charge of lighting the fire. We have finally given in and started up the wood burner as the evenings are beginning to get quite chilly as we approach the middle of November. It is really nice to sit in the lounge with a glass of wine and see a lovely set of flames going in the wood burner. It also makes the place nice and warm. Especially now we have got rid of the drafts with our excellent new windows and doors. It’s so warm and we have had a nice dinner with several glasses of wine so I may have to have a little doze before the cats return for their supper!

Bon soiree