This week has seen the usual cultural mix that seems to envelope my life these days. It has been an interesting week which involved a visit to Britain to attend retirement celebrations for a couple of friends I used to work with. As I arrived back in France late last night the blog has been delayed for 24 hours. This has given me time to reflect on my visit and review the events of the week.

A highlight surely should have been last Saturday which Mrs. Parish tells me is world knitting day. Well I don’t know about you but I didn’t notice much celebrating or great events to commemorate this noble day. I investigate further and find that it is actually called “World knit in public day. “ It has its own facebook page and it seems that 18,000 people like the page. According to this facebook page “This year we have set a new record for our community. There are in total 882 Knit-in-Public events in 56 different countries. There are 10 new countries this year: Japan, Indonesia, China, Kuwait, Philippines, Cyprus, Faroe Island, Ecuador, Gibraltar and France. This year there are more than 200 events than last year. That's also a record.  I think the records show that the world really needs knitting - and the mission with this project is: Better Living Through Stitching Together”.

So I think Mrs. Parish would agree that the world needs knitting but would she support the “Knitting Nannas against gas” of Australia? This group for some bizarre reason decided to celebrate by walking 1,000 km from Cairns, Queensland to the top of Australia. Apparently, according to their website, they offer free Nanna Hugs. They are protesting against gas exploration. But I am not sure whether the redoubtable Nannas will be knitting as they march.

I was a bit surprised to see that France was joining in for the first time. Of course knitting in public was a great sport in revolutionary France. Les Tricoteuses (knitting women) sat next to the guillotine watching the public executions during the revolution and calmly sat knitting between executions. I am not sure if that is being brought back as part of the French contribution to world knitting day.

On a more practical note Mrs. Parish and I have been working on developing our wood strategy. We have a wood burner which is our main source of heating during the winter. So we have to plan to ensure we have enough wood to last for the winter. It can be difficult to get decent wood during the winter months and running out would be a disaster. The art of this is to ensure we have enough wood of the right size and quality. Wood that is not fully weathered will not burn as well as wood which has been properly prepared. Normally we buy our wood from a local supplier and store the wood in our woodshed which is close to the house so it is easier to get in. The wood from this supplier is very good quality and a bit more expensive than some. But we have friends who had real problem with wood they had bought cheaply.

This year we are in the happy position of utilising wood from our own grounds. 2 years ago we had a tree fall down and then we had several trees cut down for safety reasons. This wood was all cut up and stacked at various points around the grounds. It has sat there with a tarpaulin over it outside to allow it to properly weather. It has now reached the stage where we can bring the wood in to the woodshed as we can start to burn it this winter. Fortunately we now have the trailer we got from Emile and so we have been able to use this to transport the wood to the shed.

Of course stacking the wood in the wood shed requires some further skills as the logs need to be safely stacked so they don’t fall on us and also stacked according to size. Small bits of wood are needed to help get the fire started and then logs need to be big enough to burn for a long time but not too big that they won’t fit into the fire. Of course stacking needs to take account of the fact that both sizes are needed and therefore have to be organised to give a consistent supply of all sizes. Any logs that are too big are set aside to be split further using a rather large special wood splitting axe.

So, you can see what an art form is the organising of wood. It is also very labour intensive and by the time they are burned we may have had to move the logs as much as 5 times. Hence the saying that wood warms you several times. When you cut it, move it, stack it, and when you burn it. So far we have moved at least 10 trailer loads of wood to the wood shed. We of course will benefit as this is our own wood and we don’t have to pay for it. We will need to buy some wood this year so we have the right mix and quantity. So it is all very complicated really!

This week I have been over to Britain for retirement celebrations for two former work colleagues. I left France on Thursday afternoon on a ferry from Caen to Portsmouth. Unfortunately loading problems meant that the ferry was an hour late and then there was chaos getting off the ferry which took forever as there was so much traffic in the port. So when I got onto the motorway at last I was keen to get to a local hotel where I was staying and was looking out for junction 3 where I needed to leave. As I got close there was a sign saying, junction 3 closed!! So I had to rapidly think of an alternative and eventually got to the hotel ay about 11-30, absolutely worn out. Driving in Britain is also a nightmare compared with France, full of traffic everywhere.

Anyway I arrived for the first of two retirement do’s for my friend Kay in Taunton on Friday and then on Saturday for Alan who I worked closely with and who has regularly visited me in France. I had to do a speech for this do and also I brought over a bottle of Calvados that Emile had made. You may recall that Alan had challenged Emile with a bottle of Somerset Cider Brandy. Alan lost of course but when I told Emile of my visit he insisted on taking a bottle for Alan, wrapped as all bottles from French farmers in newspaper. Alan was quite moved that Emile had thought of him. We had a great evening and there was a chance to catch up with loads of good friends that I used to work with. I returned to France on Sunday evening and it was a delight to drive back on French roads with hardly any traffic even on the motorways.

I drove into La Godefrere at 10pm and was met by three cats rushing out of the Palais des chats to greet me. Actually they had no interest in welcoming me home but they reckoned this was a chance to get a second supper. They were sadly disappointed as Mrs. Parish was quick to point out that they had already had supper and had eaten very well. The cats have recently taken to finding unusual places to sit or sleep. Archie today abandoned his usual flowerpot to settle down in the tray under the bird feeding tray used to collect falling bird seed. Archie was hoping the birds didn’t notice him! Moggie has taken to sitting right on top of the grandfather clock in our kitchen, who knows why.(Maybe he has heard about the mouse that ran up the clock).  Minou has been sitting on our garden bench which is now a silver colour as it has weathered which makes Minou almost invisible!

Archie in the bird seed tray

Camouflage cat

Moggie on grandfather clock
So, there it is another week at La Godefrere. Yesterday with all the travelling was a non alcohol day so I had better make up for that with a little something, right now.

Santé, Graham