I am having to type this blog under pressure! The power wire to my computer is wearing out and I am having to wiggle the wires to keep the power on and then to hold the wire at just the right angle to keep it working. If not the battery will run out and the blog will not be written. I have managed ordered a new wire on the internet before it failed completely but it won’t be here for another week. So a week of wiggling is ahead of me providing it holds out! 

An interesting and a little trying week. We had our first, gite guest rescue situation on Sunday. This will be of great interest to my friend Alan whose sat nav almost mislead him to returning to Britain via the channel tunnel on his last visit. Our recent guests managed to do even better and almost reached Paris before realising they had gone the wrong way.

Our guests were due to arrive at the gite about 6pm on Sunday having come off the ferry at Caen at 3pm. About 6-30 in the evening the phone rang. I answered and our guest introduced himself and said “I think we are lost”. I asked them where they were, thinking they had got lost on the back roads around us. We are on the auto route heading for Paris came the reply. I thought I managed to maintain my composure quite well in the circumstances and said, “yes you are lost and going in totally the wrong direction”. They didn’t know exactly where they were but had been on the auto route for one and a half hours. I asked them if they had a map. Yes they did but it was in the boot! They had brought a sat nav with them but couldn’t get it to work. 

We quickly found a map and calculated that they must almost be in Paris!! We suggested they turn round and head back to Caen to pick up the road down through France to a nearby town. We said when you get there use the directions we sent when they booked. Ah! They had left these at home. OK, phone when you get to the nearby town and we will give you further instructions.

At around 10-15pm we get another phone call. They are lost again and have not found the nearby town, despite it being on the main road. They are in a village about half an hour away and after nearly 8 hours driving they have given up, so we agree to go out and find them and guide them to us. The normal journey from Caen to our house is a straight forward 2 hour drive. The most worrying feature is that the driver had visited this area before, around 10 times. I felt sorry for his wife and son and daughter in law who were in the car and had also endured an 8 hour tour of France. Things went from bad to worse as although they managed to fix the sat nav they still seemed to get lost most days, although they didn’t need rescuing again.

Mrs. Parish and I have decided we should introduce a guest rating system similar to the Trip Adviser ratings for holiday accommodation. We have noticed that some of our guests are less well prepared than others for a holiday in rural France. Our visitors last week went home early as the son was bored! This week’s guests (a retired couple) are much more the real thing and I think will score many points. They have already settled in and after an overnight journey via Newhaven to Dieppe are now out on the sun loungers relaxing with a beer and a glass of wine. They even brought their own charcoal for the barbecue and their own darts for the dartboard!! Now that’s what I call holidaymakers.

I promised last week a discussion of the cheese/bread equilibrium point dilemma. This occurs when eating cheese with French bread. You cut a piece of bread and some cheese. If you are really clever you also use the correct cheese knife, with the right cheese. We have four cheese knives but still haven’t quite worked out which one goes with which. We even have a knife with no blade, just some points at the end like a fork. We need some cheese etiquette lessons I think. Anyway once you have your bread and cheese on the plate you can start eating. However it always happens that you end up with a small piece of cheese and no bread or the reverse, bread and no cheese. So you need to cut more cheese or bread and having done this you inevitably find you have cut just too much and still have either bread or cheese left over. The cheese/bread equilibrium point (when you have exactly the right amount of bread and cheese cannot be achieved). 

The dilemma (and possibly another question of cheese etiquette) is how to resolve the imbalance. You can go on eating. This seems to be the preferred option of my son Ian who carries on until an outbreak of the cheese sweats and the cheese/bread overload point is reached. Alternative strategies involve leaving a small bit of uneaten bread or cheese on the plate, which seems rude. Eating either the bread or cheese unaccompanied which is unethical. The more devious conspire to edge the bread/cheese towards domestic animals to resolve the dilemma. It is a serious problem and I would be interested to hear from readers as to their opinions or solutions.

Now, an update on the cats. I was a bit worried last week as the cats are finding more unusual places to sleep and have developed a dangerous practice of sleeping under our visitors cars. We usually warn the guests about the cats (don’t leave food unattended, don’t believe their pathetic looking “I’m never fed here and am starving/cold/neglected” ploy; don’t leave your car windows open etc). Now we have to add, look under your car. Usually this is not a problem but with last week’s visitors we had real worries! Archie and Minou have also developed the habit of sleeping in flowerpots. Quite often they sleep during the day under the hedge just outside the house. This has the advantage of being warm, away from the wind and of course within easy sight and access to the house if food is in the offing (legitimate or otherwise). 

Archie in his flowerpot

Minou in her flowerpot

Archie has spent the week trying to get through the cling wrap to get at some olives. I think he is trying to prove his sophistication. Yesterday with the help of his buddy, Moggie they managed to get in and we had olives all over the floor. But quite why they have adopted flowerpots is beyond me! Moggie hasn’t yet discovered this idea but he is usually off in the fields hunting and doing a better job that the local hunt. At least he catches things, although recently he has stopped eating them and just left dead bodies around the courtyard. This leaves me to mount a burial detail and put the mice or vole into a body bag and into the bin. 

On the mole front all is quiet within our exclusion zone although our neighbour and member of the Triple Alliance (with Giselle & Daniel next door) has been trap laying and has managed to get an invader before it created too much havoc. Mrs. Parish is now achieving a wide ranging reputation as a mole catcher and our friends Ian and Sarah have called her and her mole catching implements of mole destruction in to help them with a little mole problem.

Finally more proof of the French obsession with magazines and collecting weird things. You will no doubt have seen adverts for magazines in Britain in which week by week you can collect bits with which you can build a model of the Cutty Sark or the Flying Scotsman in about 300 weekly parts. On French TV in the past week we have seen adverts encouraging us to buy a weekly magazine with you get Star Wars characters headgear. (Darth Vader helmet, Imperial stormtrooper helmet etc). If this were not bad enough they are also advertising one in which week by week you get bits to build a range of fire engines!!

It’s enough to drive one to drink, now our guests have drinks so it would be rude not to have one ourselves as it is a lovely sunny day, a nice cold beer would go down a treat. 

The wiggling has been successful so far!!

Bon dimanche