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New career move

When I came to France I had visions of relaxing on a terrace, Pimms in hand and a good book to loose myself in for a few hours. Ok there would be renovations to do and a new business to set up after my retirement from tax this year. But somehow life presents unusual twists and turns.

Don’t get me wrong, this one has been a good one. I always had cats and wanted dogs..Jack Russell’s in particular. I just needed the space and the time.

Years ago when studying for tax, I used to take private lessons with an accountant who worked from home. A large farmhouse in Kent with a huge country kitchen, the ones with all the rural trimmings, quarry tile floor, massive oak kitchen table, Aga and pretty china hanging in the dresser.

As soon as we sat to study and his wife had bought tea and cookies to the table, a boisterous rush of dogs would arrive from every corner along with a few curiously challenged cats. Leaping up on the bench seats our lesson would be observed by everyone with the occasional paw up on the table top or bark if our conversation seemed exciting enough. A little surreal but an adorable gang with whiskers.

Apparently the gang had their own dedicated room. We climbed a tiny steep stairway behind the kitchen and up into a huge room filled with old sofas with well chewed cushions and blankets. Wicker baskets for cats were everywhere and a pile of toys to play with. Pet heaven. It was a Georgian building with high ceilings and a panoramic view across the Kent orchards. I felt these pets certainly had love. I wanted to do the same for mine if I ever had them.

Fast forward to France. Adopting a litter of six unwanted kittens and another just two weeks old, found wandering the rubbish bins by a gallery owner at our local town, Boussac, the little cat den was high on my bucket list. Behind the to-be utility room was the perfect spot. Access to the garden on one side and easy to manage from the garage for cleaning, I opened up the small window to accommodate a cat flap with a small set of steps each side to reach it. It’s not finished yet as typically French, the floor is damp as the drains are busted.

For now the cats snooze with our chickens in the coop so no hard feelings. Its hot, its summer, but it’s on the priority list and with two dogs to add to our growing Ark, we have to complete it by end October. The storms here are fierce. The downpour last night flooded the dog house and everyone was soggy. Trudging out in the mud we plotted all the gutter leeks, cracked drains and found why our cellar has swimming pool aspirations. It’s a mess.

But I digress a little. What comes with new plans and new future? Washing up! Yes my new career choice. The cats treat the farmhouse like a cafe bar. Archie will turn up with Charlie at breakfast. Then at eleven, Tokyo comes to eat and play with Bella our dog. At midday Oscar and Polly like their lunch. Treats are demanded and then it’s afternoon feed, bedtime feed.

In summer the flies are intolerable. Horrid little bluebottles laying eggs on any food left outdoors. So it’s a constant flow of feeding the gang and retrieving empty bowls. We need the cat room.

Hunting does happen but more often the cats with huge friendship bring their little voles and mice to the dogs. The dogs hate all the commercial food, yet they never seemed hungry. Then Oscar brought a little mole into the garden and dropped it in front of Bella and walked away. It happened again and again. Now we knew. But the cats its seems still need their cafe. I had better get my marigolds on…there are bowls to be scrubbed and that cat room to finish!