I am having a lazy Sunday. It is a cold but now sunny day but not much of a day for outside jobs. It is also frowned upon in France to do too much work on a Sunday. One of the many advantages of living in France, a proper Sunday. So this morning, after making Mrs. Parish a cup of tea and feeding the cats, it was settling down in front of the TV to watch football on match of the day. Because we are an hour behind in France the match of the day programme on Saturday night doesn’t start until 11-30 and I am usually ready for bed by then.  So early Sunday with a coffee and some toast a chance to catch up with the FA Cup matches.

Today things get even better as we now have live FA cup football, Aston Villa v Leicester. Although it is a pretty rubbish game. This will be followed by 6 nation’s rugby. Scotland v Wales and then more football later. The rugby promises to be a good game. Yesterday we had England beating Italy and the French lost to Ireland. So some gloom here in France as the French team didn’t play well until late in the game. The French used to play open attacking rugby. Now there is too much kicking the ball which the French fans don’t like. Still the important thing is that England are doing better than Wales so that I have bragging rights over my Welsh friend Steve. And if England fail I can always revert to being French!

In any event I have earned a lazy Sunday after the last week. Mrs. Parish decided that we should prune the fruit trees in our orchard. On the face of it this appeared a good thing. It would mean less fruit on the tree to be picked up and fewer branches dangling down and attacking me when I go past them when cutting the grass on the tractor. This can be quite a task when there are drooping branches. So cutting back the trees seemed a good plan until I realised that all the twigs and branches would fall to the floor and then need to be picked up.

This is decidedly unfair to have trees that drop things to the ground and then have to be picked in both in winter and autumn. It is at times like this that you discover just how far the ground is away and how painful your back becomes after bending repeatedly. Of course once picked up the twigs then have to be transported and Mrs. Parish wanted the sticks as kindling for starting up lighting the fire. This means having to move all the wood by wheel barrow into the wood shed. Where of course it will lie until needing to be picked up again to bring indoors to put on the fire. At least once lit up they are not going to need moving again. Although there is the ash to clear away.

So after a couple of days of picking up sticks I was beginning to groan around the house complaining about my poor old back and I have to say not getting much sympathy from Mrs. Parish. Anyway we then spot our neighbour, Giselle going off up the lane in her tractor to collect logs from a tree which they had cut down the weekend before.  Her family had cut the tree down and had split up into logs. Giselle was on her own going up to collect the logs to get them home before the rain came. The logs once cut down have to be kept dry and weather over a couple of years before burning. Giselle is in her seventies so Mrs. Parish and I decided we had to help her. So we rushed up the lane and into the field and gave her a bit of a shock as we arrived and started shifting logs.

Logs are a bit more of a challenge than twigs. They are bigger and more awkwardly shaped. They are however also on the ground requiring more bending to pick them up and to put them into the box on the back of the tractor. Again this was not the end of the story as we then had to follow Giselle back down the lane and then stack up the logs in her garden, on pallets ready to be covered with a tarpaulin to keep them dry. Going back up the lane was also an experience as we rode in the box, both of us clinging on while the tractor rattled up the lane and then across the field. Three times we made the trip and moved about half of the logs.

Mrs. Parish with Giselle and her tractor

Of course we then had to keep an eye on Giselle to make sure she didn’t try to collect the rest of the logs without our help. Sure enough the next day we heard the tractor rolling out of her shed and so we donned our outdoor gear and set off again up the lane. On both occasions we were required by Giselle to come in for a drink and the obligatory drop of calva mixed with a good chat. Giselle was very grateful for our help and it would have been a daunting task to have to do it all on her own. We said that for us this was part and parcel of living in a rural French community and we were pleased to muck in and lend a hand. We have been grateful for Giselle’s help and advice since we moved here. But it fairly typical of rural France for friends and neighbours to help each other out.

But after 4 days of picking up sticks and then logs, I was a bit worn out by the weekend and Saturday was thankfully an awful rainy day, so a chance for a rest and then today a nice lazy Sunday. As it has been sunny today Mrs. Parish and I went for a walk around the estate. It was a chance to look over the work we have done and see what else we need to do to create our nature walk around the big field. It is starting to look quite good and once we have cleared some more we can try to plant stuff that will attract butterflies and birds. While walking around the field by the fence with our neighbour’s field the cows decided to have a mad 5 minutes. Whether it was the fact that I had my French 10 euro coat on or just the sunny day but the whole herd decided to come running and jumping to see us. While it was quite amusing to see the cows, bull and calves jumping and skipping towards us we started to worry that they might not stop when they got to the fence. Admittedly there is an electric fence and then our barbed wire fence but these cows are pretty big and would soon demolish the fence. Fortunately they stopped about 10 yards from us and once they realised we didn’t have any bales of hay for them went skipping and jumping back up the field.

Jumping and skipping cows

Talking of beef we had a welcome visit yesterday from a friend Sarah who bought round our order of beef. Sarah’s neighbour is a French farmer called Olivier who raises Charolais cattle and as part of his business has decided to sell some of his beef direct. Sarah is in charge of developing customers amongst the local English. Of course the English have always been called Rosbifs (Roast Beefs) by the French for some reason! So we have been pleased to be rosbifs and the meat that arrived yesterday looks superb. There was 10 kilos of beef in a box for us. This included steaks, sausages, roasting joints and beef for stewing etc etc. So Mrs. Parish has selected a rather nice looking roasting joint for this evening so we will be proper rosbifs tonight. I need to get over to the wine cave to select a rather nice bottle of red wine to do justice to the meat.

So now I am looking forward to the perfect end to a lovely lazy, sunny Sunday in rural France. Even the Scots have come good and are currently leading Wales in the rugby so a chance to text some insults to my Welsh friend. The blog is nearly written and after reliving all the picking up twigs and logs I think I shall have to pour myself a nice aperitif. Mrs. Parish is also enjoying a lazy Sunday and is well into her knitting. The cats have also had a lazy Sunday and have spent the afternoon dozing in the sun on the top of my car. They have just come in for some tea, although Archie and Moggie have gone back outside to do some hunting in the late afternoon sun. Minou has settled down on the sofa for a long sleep.

Bon dimanche parreseux