Friday, 8 May 2009

French garden politics

John and I have been wondering how we might arrange to get the top corner of the garden from Mamie.  I need to put this in context ( Geeb, just go to sleep):-

John acquired the garden, by means which are too convoluted to relate, from la Mamie. Yes, the same  personage, which I beat at petanque.  If I can work the magic, a photo may appear later.

Although John has the garden, Mamie still had proprietorial rights over it - until today, that is.

I went to the garden this afternoon and met Patricia, Mamie's grand-daughter.   She asked if we had a strimmer - of course she knows we have a strimmer!  Everyone in the world that is Villeneuve knows we have a strimmer.  She asked if we might 'tidy up' the top corner, which used to be the chicken run, as La Mamie wasn't up to it any more.  I said, of course we could do that.  John arrived and I said, of course, he would like a couple of chickens, perhaps they could go in  there.   I'll ask La Mamie, Patricia said..............

An hour later, I had strimmed the patch and John and I were working on creating a chicken run.  It may not be palatial, but the chickens will be happy and safe there.  The cost?    4 hours of effort and plenty of negotiating, or rather sensitivity.   La Mamie and her husband worked the plot for many years, in order to feed their family.  It has sentimental attachment - it is what for years has defined her.  The garden was her husband's passion.

For her the cost in giving it up was huge.  For us, it will cost the space for 4 tomato plants, 4 strawberry plants and a few raspberries, which she will have as her own.  Sounds like an unequal deal to me.

Life is a bitch, and then you die.

This is La Mamie with John and Patricia in the background.  Don't be fooled by her frail appearance, she is a fierce petanque player.  No quarter given or expected.  Tomorrow, I hope to beat at least a 70 year old.

Our efforts at constructing a chicken run drew some attention.  Villeneuve is, after all, a small place.

The lady on the left, neither of us had met her before, said that John needed 'un petit coq'.  Perhaps it loses something in the translation, but I said to John, in English, that I understood he already had one.   French country life is like that - doubles ententres abound.  I just wish I understood them all.

Anyway, the chicken run is ready.

We had debated the question of 'un coq', but had dismissed it on the basis that it would be too near the mayor's house.  However, because it is rural France and nothing escapes the mayor, he found out that we were constructing a chicken run.   'Of course, you must have a coq', he said.  'It is the sound of the country'.  When the mayor makes a suggestion, it is really an instruction.  Robert, the mayor, is on the left of this photo.

Tomorrow, we will go to the market at Ste Foy la Grande and buy some chickens and un coq.


  1. Having spent time there and knowing the characters makes this blog even more interesting than it would otherwise be. Splendid.

  2. You might show us the chickens!