This week has been a bit of a getting back to normal week, if such a thing exists here. However after the excitement of going back to Britain last week and the noise and traffic it was good to be in the peace and quiet of La Godefrere. Walking around the grounds and just listening to birds singing and looking at how much the garden has grown and of course the grass. It is a beautiful place to live and I am struck by just how lucky we are.

The flowers in the garden are looking really nice as are the lawns and grass in the orchard. Mrs. Parish has been planting out a more formal garden at the top of the orchard next to the vegetable plot. This area is now looking much more like a garden and compliments the patios and pergola where the clematis and jasmine have really grown up this year. The grass is very green and looking good. We have cut it a bit longer this year and it looks much better. We have also had regular falls of rain to keep it healthy. 

Our garden from the gite steps

But now the excitement. Following fast on international knitting day we now have today, International Yoga Day. It is being promoted by the Indian Government and formally adopted by the United Nations. In fact this year marks the first ever International Yoga Day.  According to the Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi "Yoga is an invaluable gift of India's ancient tradition. This tradition is 5000 years old. It embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being. It is not about exercise but to discover the sense of oneness with yourself, the world and the nature. By changing our lifestyle and creating consciousness, it can help us deal with climate change.” 

Mrs. Parish is a great one for yoga and goes off on Monday’s to a nearby town for a session. She reckons it helps her relax. She is not quite sure how it helps climate change particularly as in the winter she is always complaining about the cold and draughty hall in which they participate. For me I believe I already have unity of mind and body. When my body tells me it’s time for an aperitif, my mind directs the body to the glasses and the fridge where the wine is. I have a holistic approach to eating and drinking to ensure they are done at the same time!

It has also been a good week for seeing Hoopoes. Looking out over the field at the bottom of our lane I have regularly seen two hoopoes. This field was used for grazing cattle and was formerly covered in grass. Xavier, the farmer who owns it has dug up the grass and planted “betrave” which is fodder beet to feed the cattle in winter. The advantage is that is grows in rows to a fairly short height leaving lots of areas of bare soil which is just right for the hoopoes to feed for insects and worms. It looks as if they are a paid and may even be nesting in trees on the far side of the field. This is great news as hoopoes are amazing looking birds with a superb black and white crest of feathers.

A hoopoe, taken in the garden 2 years ago

On a more negative point we have seen a couple of mole incursions into the exclusion zone. This may be the moles trying it on as there were only two molehills and on opposite sides of the garden. I think they may be just testing our defence mechanisms and seeing how prepared we are. I decided that a short sharp shock was what was needed so when cutting the grass I made sure I revved up the tractor when going over the molehill and shouting very loudly at it (with some very bad language if truth be told). It seems to have been successful as there have been no further signs of any mole activity since then. Mrs. Parish is sharpening up her mole traps in readiness if more drastic measures are needed.

I thought I might just mention shopping trolleys known as chariots in France. It has always been a bit of a grumble for me about how unaware some people are when in control of a shopping trolley but the French are a complete disaster. They have an annoying habit of abandoning responsibility for the trolley in the middle of an aisle while they wander off to another aisle for something they have forgotten. It also seems that they cannot push their trolleys in a straight line so it is impossible to pass without moving the trolley or prompting them to make room. Of course the propensity of the French to kiss each other also means great gaggles of people meeting up and ensuring everyone is kissed before getting down to having a chat. All the while blocking the aisle with their trolleys. 

Then there are the ones who move at a snail’s pace, stopping regularly to scan the shelves, totally oblivious to those of us who have a list and a clear shopping plan. Mrs. Parish operates in supermarkets with ruthless efficiency having written a list in strict order that we move around the store so we spend as little time there as possible.

We have discovered that the best time to shop is during the lunch hour when all the French are at home eating or in the local restaurant. It is really noticeable how much fewer people are shopping at lunchtime. So the only ones there seem to be English and while there are some ditherers at least you can drive round them to get the shopping done quickly. Of course it may just be me noticing and being less tolerant as I get older!!

I may have mentioned before that our neighbour Peter has his house up for sale. He has moved back to Britain and had had his house on the market now for a couple of years. He has got fed up with the French estate agents who don’t seem to do a lot and has marketed his house himself through the internet. To help him out I have agreed to have a key and let prospective buyers in and to show them round.  It is literally next door so it is no problem and it gives us a chance to vet possible neighbours and of course to put off any we don’t like. 

So far I have shown about half a dozen couple around and so far not been able to sell the house for Peter. I noticed with a couple last week that I was pointing out key features and minimising unhelpful things and realised I was sounding just like an estate agent. Anyway it is a three bedroomed house, with well maintained garden in a quiet rural location for only 150,000 Euros and of course a key selling point are the very nice, if a little eccentric neighbours. With the current exchange rate it’s a bargain. Let me know if you are interested.

This week has also seen the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo which was fought of the 18th June 1815. This is of course a sore point for the French who lost the battle seeing the final defeat of Napoleon. The French of course like to point out that they were one country up against an international alliance of 7 nations and outnumbered in forces with 68,000 French soldiers to 118,000 allies. In addition it had been raining and of course this suited the English. The French also argue that on arrival, the Prussian army were clearly offside and that the Duke of Wellington should have been sent off after a dreadful first half tackle. They reckon that if they could have held out for a draw that they would have won on penalties as the English are pretty rubbish at spot kicks. (The French also point out that Napoleon has a brandy named after him while Wellington has only a boot. A good point I believe).

Finally we have now completed stage 1 of the wood strategy and moved the wood from the cut down trees into the woodshed which is now looking very replete with logs ready for the winter. We now are waiting for our wood supplier to deliver some extra wood so we will be well provided for the winter. We still have a couple of piles of wood around the garden which we will now leave to weather for a few more months into winter before moving them into the dry once we have made some space.

Time I think for mind and body to be in harmony and for me to find my way to the drinks cupboard and partake of a small aperitif!

Bon journee du yoga,