When Beth, her beloved dog, Sam, and grumpy husband, Jack, return to France, disaster strikes. As they battle to restore order to their home, French authorities visit with shocking news.
Obliged to sit examinations in French, coping with furred and feathered babies, and wrangling French tradesmen, there’s no let-up in this action-packed episode of the Haslams’ adventures.
Beth Haslam is one of my favourite indie authors and I’ve followed this French memoir series right from the very start.
Beth and her husband Jack have been slowly renovating their French properties on the old estate (domaine)they bought in France
With the help of local artisans, the buildings are slowly taking shape and are now habitable. Once the previous inhabitants have left the building that is – loirs – a a creature similar to a dormouse.
The Haslams have plans to breed chickens to keep on the domaine and pheasant chicks to replenish the stock of wild pheasants whose numbers have been decimated by hunters local members of la chasse.
Jack invests in some incubators for keeping all the chicks at ambient temperature. Along with some rabbits and hares purchased by Beth, the long term scheme of repopulating the domaine with more wildlife is coming into fruition.
Meanwhile, a lady from the hunting Fédération called. It seems someone is claiming damages because their indigenous wild boar are eating his crops.
After several terse phone conversatios, a group from the Fédération de Chasse, members paid the Haslams a visit.
“If you are not to control your boars zere will be more damage and ze farmer, ’e will make insurance claims against us. It is too expensive for ze Fédération.” “And we have the legal right to challenge that in court,” retorted Jack. “What makes you think the animals causing damage are our boar? Do they have collars marked ‘Haslam’?” Madame let out an unnerving shriek of laughter. “Non!” she conceded. “No collars. But your neighbours know ze boars, zey come from ze ’oles in your fence. You must deal with zis problem.”
Dealing with the problem that wasn’t of their making – wild boar follow the streams into the land and out – involved Beth and Jack having to take difficult exams to obtain their own hunting licences so that local hunters would not be entering the land and sorting out the issue themselves.
On January 24th of that year. an Atlantic depression started developing in the Bay of Biscay. Tempête Klaus they called it. Sweeping across France Storm Klaus destroyed swathes of forestation throughout France and killing 12 people. The Haslams lost a lot of trees and had to call in a team of experts to clear and sort an incredible amount of timber on their property, parts of which the storm had rendered inaccessible.
Ever present throughout the book series so far is the presence of Sam, Beth’s beautiful Australian Shepherd dog always faithfully by her side. With the addition of some lively kittens the Haslam household pets increase in number and become a part of their lives.
I’ve hoovered up each book as it’s been released, content to wallow within the pages enjoying the scenery and lifestyle so skilfully written about by Beth.
The humour and banter between the married couple is hilarious, both a perfect foil for the other. Jack, with his witty ascerbic remarks appears to be a curmudgeonly, bad tempered introvert and has his moments but really is such a gentle caring pair of hands both with the creatures he raises in his incubators and with the pets in the family.
I hear there’s another book out soon in this excellent memoir series and I can’t wait to read it.
(Warning: tissues are needed for some sad events within the book)