Halloween is huge in the Dagg household. Coming from Ireland, like Halloween itself (Irish people fleeing to America during the Famine brought with them the tradition of having a knees-up on 31 October, the day summer was said to end – and the Americans loved the idea!), we celebrate it in style. Trick or treating is on the tricky side as we have no viable neighbours we can reach on foot, so the kids knock on their own front door, but everything else is normal – carved pumpkin, costumes, games, spooky food. The food was especially good this year – we had flayed face, cat poo en croute, wormy guts, llama poo, septic trolls’ eyes, dog brains and muddy swamp pie. We have two of our own traditions as well – a Halloween tree, and fireworks.

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We hoped Windy (Windermere Lady Coulemelle, our only woolly llama) might have her baby at Halloween so we could call him or her Pumpkin. The children have a long list of possible names ready. Caiti has even come up with a llama naming program using Scratch (a computer programming language). But Windy continues to make us wait. Sadly the good weather seems to finally have come to an end, so her poor baby will be arriving in the cold. But we have a cosy coat and hay filled maternity suite ready and waiting, and we’ve also relocated the girls’ daytime shelter from the hangar to one of the stables where they get much better protection from the weather.

We are also still waiting for our Internet connection, which is why there’s been no blogging from me for ten days. Apparently moving from the house to the gite counted as a proper house move, so although the France Telecom technician only had to put a new socket in our new house – he didn’t have to move the line itself or any junctions or connections – FT treat is as a whole new contract. We didn’t realise, but this also means cutting off our Internet. We still don’t fully understand why and certainly no mention was made of this when I was booking the technician. Our ISP provided has put in a request for us to be reconnected and its chugging its way through the system at a very slow snail’s pace. Bruce our builder has kindly been letting us use his Internet connection. His neighbours are used to seeing us huddled in the car outside his house, computer screens glowing away. The kids have been disappointed to have no email or internet during the holidays. We’ve all really missed it. I quite agree with the chap from TalkTalk who’s saying that having access to the Internet is a human right!

Today is Toussaint, All Saints’ Day. The French will be visiting their loved ones’ graves and festooning them with chrysanthemums. The day is treated like a bank holiday, although my understanding is that it isn’t officially one. And I can’t quickly check on the Net! Just a few days of school holiday left – the kids go back on the 4th, a Wednesday, because by doing an extra day of school now means they can have a day off next May, the 14th I think, to give them a nice long weekend around the Ascension bank holiday on May 15th. Now that’s forward planning, but we’ll be moaning about it at 6am on Wednesday morning as we stagger out of bed in the cold and the dark in time to set off for the lycée bus …