So, here we are starting another New Year and this will be the third volume of the La Godefrere Blog. I did consider moving to a monthly blog as I thought I would struggle to find something to write about each week. But this is France and we have cats so there is always something crazy going on. We seem to attract strange friends and animals, I have no idea why. Mrs. Parish on the other hand says she has a very clear idea why craziness abounds around us.

Of course we came into New Year’s Eve on the back of our first two Christmases and we are now in a bit of a lull awaiting Christmas no. 3 when our youngest daughter Amy arrives with her friend Charlotte on Monday. We have designated Tuesday as Christmas Day for this purpose and this will be a bit of a new experience. I have reported on all the various foods we have tried from our lovely butcher over the festive season. Well Tuesday will be a change as my daughter is a vegan. Not only does she eat no meat but also no animal products at all. Finding vegetarian food in France is hard enough but Mrs. Parish has been scouring the internet and local supermarkets and we have managed to assemble all the necessary vegan options. So Christmas vegan dinner on Tuesday. I of course have faced the challenge of selecting wine appropriate for a vegan Christmas dinner. This has meant extensive research but I think I am up to the challenge. I have just seen Mrs. Parish’s menu for the week and it looks pretty good.

Anyway we have been gorging on meat all weekend to build up sufficient reserves to last us through the week and had sausages for lunch and face rabbit cooked in prunes this evening in what I see as a cross over dish. Plenty of meat but cooked with vegan suitable food, a sort of transition.

The lull has given us a chance to recover and to get some fresh air and a bit of exercise. We have been for a couple of walks and started to clear brambles at the bottom of the big field as part of the extension of the nature walk. We plan to cut through a whole section of brambles to create a hedged walk which should be good for butterflies and birds. There is a lot more to cut back but I sent Mrs. Parish in with her super dooper strimming machine. We are now waiting for some dry weather so we can clear some more and have a bonfire to clear all the undergrowth we have cleared. I also need to do some work around the Ant Experience to maximise the visitor enjoyment. Watch this space for more news on this front.

Of course the New Year starts to bring enquiries for the gite and we have already had a couple of bookings. I also get calls from holiday companies wanting me to advertise the gite with them. This can be quite fun at times and especially with a firm called Sunny Rentals. The company seems to be based in Holland but clearly uses a call centre in India for its marketing. So last week I had a call from a gentleman with a very heavy Indian accent who announced himself with “Hello, Graham this is James Thomas from Sunny Rentals”. The last call I had from them was from someone who said he was called Dave. This attempt to put me at ease by inventing English names in fact had the opposite effect as my immediate reaction is that this is a joke or a scam. Anyway James was insistent that I look at his web site and that he wanted me to enter into “collaboration” with his company. He offered the money back option as he could guarantee me bookings. At this point I got a bit bored and explained that if he could guarantee me bookings why did he need to offer a money back option!  Anyway I told him my advertising budget was spent and he went away.

So New Year’s Eve we sat down to a great meal. We had a lovely salmon dish as a starter, prepared by the butcher so all we had to do was eat it. The main course was a lovely roti of duck a l’orange all prepared by the butcher and then excellently cooked by Mrs. Parish. This was accompanied by sparkling Vouvray and a nice bottle of red, a Buzet. We gave the cats an early supper so we could get them out and eat in peace. It was a lovely meal and we then sat down to watch our now standard for New Year on French TV. La plus grand cabaret du Monde or the best cabaret in the world. It features acts from all over the world and is usually full of weird and wonderful acts. This year had its moments but was not quite as whacky as previous years. We did experience Polish poodles, with a lot of poodles doing doggy acrobatics and silly stuff. Then we had some Swedish seesawers. This consisted of two Swedish blokes jumping up and down on either end of a see saw and then doing somersaults and back flips and falling off the see saw

We also had South African tap dancers, Argentinean tango acrobats and some weird act with dancing horses and scantily clad women in spiralling trapeze things. Interspersed were some really good acts including an amazing Chinese magician who did his act and then had a rewind button and proceeded to do the act in reverse. We were quite shocked to see some quality. Our faith was returned by a French clown act which seemed to involve a hand bell on a table which the clown pretends to ring by only using his willy.  Cracking stuff.

As it is Christmas we have to get out all the board games and have been playing them over the first two Christmases, games like scattergories, taboo, Linkie and articulate. Which are all good fun and the sort of games that get better the more alcohol you have. Seeing as we are now in a lull and there is just me and Mrs. Parish we have been playing a few games of scrabble. New Year’s Eve apart the television is pretty much rubbish so we have got out the scrabble. Now of course this is new to the cats who decided they wanted to play and surrounded the board. Of course cats are not known for their word knowledge or their ability to spell. However they do like play with small shiny things like the letter tiles in scrabble. So scrabble is hard enough anyway and requires some concentration. To do this while warding off cats either from sitting on the board or flicking the tiles away is a bit of a challenge!! It seemed that the cats were trying to spell supper so needless to say the cats got an early supper and an early exit from the house. I proceeded to win the game! Mrs. Parish blamed the cats.

Mrs. Parish set to play, Minou in dictionary corner, Archie in charge and Moggie about to spell supper!

One good thing about this week is that Calvados has arrived at La Godefrere. Our friends Emile and Yvette dropped in and brought with them a large bottle of Emile’s homemade Calvados. We had run out some time ago and so it was with some relief that I received the bottle. As usual it was wrapped in newspaper. I am not sure whether this is to hide the bottle from prying eyes or some sort of French custom. Anyway we now have Calva again. It was also good to see Emile up and about as before Christmas he had a chest infection. I said his Calva must be not working as it is supposed to be “anti grippe” (anti flu). Emile said the Calva was OK but he clearly hadn’t drunk enough!

The cats have arrived for their tea and have commenced their intimidation routine so I had better go and feed them. This morning I had to get out the super glue to repair one of our loudspeakers which Archie had knocked over for at least the fourth time. The front came off and it is now showing a number of dents and broken edges. He is such a big cat that when he jumps on things they tend to fall over. Food for them and then a drink for me perhaps and a bit of football on the TV, it’s the cup today.

Bonne annee, bonne santé