I am pleased to report that there were no duck related incidents and accordingly the duck was successfully defrosted, prepared, cooked and delivered to table without any disasters. The duck was huge, weighing in at 3.5 kilos and Mrs. Parish had some problems squeezing it into the roasting pan but it went into the oven eventually. Mrs. Parish can be quite forceful!

Mrs. Parish had never roasted a whole duck before and needed some information so used the internet to take some advice and find a recipe for the cherry sauce. I was instructed to watch a YouTube video showing the correct way to carve a duck. I watched it several times and when it came to the actual real live carving it somehow seemed so very different. For a start the duck was extremely hot and difficult to get hold of. However, the task was accomplished and people got duck on their plates in sort of reasonable portions. Nobody suggested I use YouTube to take up brain surgery though!

The large duck awaiting surgeon Graham

The meal was for the visit of good friends Alan and Debi, who I used to work with. We all enjoyed a superb meal and copious amounts of excellent French wine and a few whiskies to finish. We had a great week and it was good to catch up as well as to eat and drink.

Alan and Debi tuck into the duck

It was a somewhat jaded group that set off the next morning to visit the big street market at St. Hilaire du Harcouet about 40 minutes away from us. This town has a massive weekly market where you can buy just about anything. From live chickens to beds, stopping for fruit and vegetables, meat and fish and just about any sort of French cheese you might fancy. There are also stalls that sell working clothes and here I spotted some cheap French working coats for only 10 Euros. I bought one about 4 years ago and it is looking a bit worn. This was the first time I had seen them on sale so decided to buy a new one. I always refer to it as my 10 Euro coat and I said I was off to buy one. Alan thought I said that I was going to buy a 10-year-old coat and couldn’t work out why I should want to buy a second-hand coat that was so old.

Needless to say, my new coat is now known as the 10-year-old coat!

Petit, our new cat, continues to settle in and to get used to his new home. Last week he had got the idea of settling onto the sofa during contractual indoors time. With strangers in the house he has been a bit spooked and had taken to finding places to hide and to pop out from. The other cats are beginning to tolerate him and have allowed him into the cat palace. Archie and Moggie cuddle up together on the duvet and at the moment Petit is allowed in one of the boxes (with blanket, naturally).

Petit peeping out!

Petit has now discovered that the beds are useful places to have a sleep during morning in time and was allowed to share with Moggie. He has also discovered the tradition of joining the other two and all of them sharing my chest and legs as a place to sleep in the evening. Petit, however, is still in play mode and instead of sleeping licks my hand and when I tap him on the nose to stop him he grabs my hand with his claws and proceeds to bite me. Fortunately, only play bites but very annoying none the less.

Archie just tries to pretend that the little cat is not here and ignores a ball of fur that comes dancing up to him and taps him on the back to play chase. Archie gives a look of disdain and wanders off. He has taken to finding quiet places to get a bit of peace. Yesterday, we heard one of the hens making a big commotion in the wood shed. We discovered that this was because Archie had decided to sleep in the basket we had put in the woodshed for the hens to lay eggs in. The hen wanted to get in the basket to lay an egg (they are crazy, as they have a perfectly good hen house for this purpose). 

Archie the broody cat

So, we have now become a Cat Dominated Environment (CDE) where the cats have captured the high ground and now dictate that their needs come first. I point out that we still have the contract in place and that the CDE can only be effected according to established norms. I do hold the key, in fact literally to the food cupboard and so can use bribery where necessary.

We have definite signs of Spring in the air. The birds are all singing and looking for nest sites. We have some crazy blackbirds that seem to want to nest in our hedge. We have tried pointing out the flaw in this plan is three cats! This week we have seen both little owls together and it seems they are set upon nesting in the gite roof. We may have a problem this year as we have also seen two kestrels flying around the gite and looking at the nest site. So, there may be nest wars.

We also have some crows making a lot of noise in the garden and they may also be prospecting for nest sites in our trees. They are not too happy with the kestrels being around and have been trying to chase them off. It is a bit like a scene from the battle of Britain with aerial displays and combat going on all around us.

It is at times like this that I have to remind myself that we promote visiting La Godefrere as a chance to enjoy the peace and tranquillity of rural France!

Anyway, at least the ants don’t make any noise! I walked down to the Ant Experience site a couple of days ago and with the rise in temperature the ants had awoken from their hibernation and were out and about starting to repair and rebuild the nest. As ever they have a lot of work to do, but they don’t complain, they just get on with it and fortunately they do not demand indoor time! I might mention this to the cats when they come in this evening.

Mrs. Parish is now off to Yoga (aka Karate) and so I am in charge of three hens and three cats as well as making sure that the fire does not go out. When I say in charge, that might be a bit of an aspiration rather than the actuality. I also have some homework to do for my French lessons. Emile and Yvette have just arrived so I will have to practice my French as well. It turns out to be a short visit, with an invite to a meal next week and coffee at their house on Wednesday. Hopefully, I have understood that correctly!

It is all a bit stressful and I may need a little something to help me cope!

Bon semaine