etcetera magazine January 2024

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Kickstarting Your Healthy 2024! (And How to Stick to It)

Test Your French Knowledge PARLEZ FRANÇAIS

Wonderful Winter Skies Astronomy



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hello & welcome

Contents 3

A note from the editors


What’s on

CONTACT US: Tel: 05 17 36 15 32

email: website: 17 rue des Chaumettes 86290 St Léomer













Welcome to the January edition of etcetera magazine.




Latest news

We hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, doing whatever you wanted to be doing.




Free time








Home & specialist


Getting connected




Motoring & removals





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While we always do our best to ensure the content in this magazine is given in good faith and businesses are reputable, we accept no liability for any errors or omissions and do not endorse any companies, products or services. Articles written are the personal opinions of the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of etcetera magazine.

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We look forward to the year ahead and thank you for your continued support and loyalty. We couldn’t do this without you! Wishing you all a very happy, healthy, and peaceful 2024.

G ay le an d Sam

15 17 18

SAMU (Medical) Gendarmes (Police) Pompiers (Fire and also trained in medical emergency) 114 Text-message emergency number for deaf/hard of hearing 119 Child abuse 115 Homeless 113 Drugs and alcohol 112 European emergency not always English 1616 Emergency- Sea & Lake 3131 Last incoming call, key ‘5’ to connect Orange English speaking helpline 0033 (0)9 69 36 39 00 Website in English: Technical assistance for landlines (French): 3900 (+33 9 69 39 39 00 from abroad) SFR 1023 or 00336 1000 1023 (Not English) EDF 8am to 8pm, Monday to Saturday. +33 (0)9 69 36 63 83 EDF Helpline in English 0033 562164908 (From UK) 05 62 16 49 32 Fax E-mail: CPAM - 09 74 75 36 46 Veolia Water Emergency No: 24h/24 et 7j/7 05 61 80 09 02 (press 1 for urgent problems or 2 for a technician) S.E.P Du Confolens (Water) 05 87 23 10 08 Emergency 24/7 Aéroport Int’l Limoges 05 55 43 30 30 SNCF (train times, buying tickets etc) 36 35 Alcoholics Anonymous For contact details of meetings in your area including those conducted in English, visit

Please download the pdf from this link now:

HOSPITALS 05 55 05 55 55 Limoges (CHU) 05 55 43 50 00 St Junien 05 55 47 20 20 Bellac 05 49 44 44 44 Poitiers 05 45 24 40 40 Angoulême 05 49 32 79 79 Niort 05 45 84 40 00 Confolens Women for Women in France offering support to foreign-born (non-French speaking) women dealing with domestic abuse Counselling In France Counsellors, psychotherapists, NLP, CBT etc offering therapy in English to expatriates all over France on SSAFA France 05 53 24 92 38 email French Health Insurance Advice line. CPAM English speaking Advice line: 09 74 75 36 46 (from France) 0033 974 75 36 46 (from other countries). The line is open from Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. NHS website : No Panic France Helpline: No Panic UK helpline: 0044 1 952 590 545 11h - 23h (French time) 7/7 / English-speaking Crisis Line SOS- HELP 01 46 21 46 46 3pm-11pm 7/7 British Consulate in Paris 01 44 51 31 00 British Consulate in Bordeaux 05 57 22 21 10 Credit Agricole English Speaking Helpline Charente (residents only) 05 45 20 49 60

Print 2 copies - one for your home and one for your car - it could save a life. NO international code needed from UK mobiles

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his is such an easy craft to do, and a great way to add colour onto plain walls in your home. You only need a few materials and they’re not too expensive. The only thing you need to think about is your colour scheme. You can buy colours that are already in a matching colour palette, or

choose your own individual ones (there are plenty of colour palettes online to help you with this). If you want a really natural look, select a nice branch or stick instead of a manufactured dowel. You can vary your sizes depending on the space you want to fill. Let’s get creating!

Materials ▪ Dowel rod or stick ▪ Piece of wood or cardboard ▪ Wool skeins - 3 in complementary colours

▪ Sandpaper ▪ Scissors ▪ Drill (optional) ▪ Saw

Instructions 1.

Select a dowel rod and cut down to size using a saw. Sand the ends to clean up. 2. Grab a board, piece of cardboard, or your arm and start wrapping the wool around it - about 15 - 16 times. Trim the end. 3. Cut across the wool to make one long piece with 15 - 16 strands. Fold in half. 4. Double the wool so that there is a loop at the top and the ends are all at the same length. 5. Tighten the loop around the dowel rod toward the centre. Repeat. 6. Do the same thing with the second and third colours of wool until you have 12 lengths total. 7. If desired, trim the ends of the yarn. You can cut straight across or in a "V" shape. 8. Drill into the ends of each dowel rod. Create a braid of the three colours of wool about 24" long, then feed through the holes and knot for hanging. 9. Hang by cutting a length of wool and tying loops around the wood at each end, or drilling and knotting. 10. Now hang up your new creation!

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craft Open Tue-Sat

Browse our selection of unique gifts, enjoy a meal from our new menu indoor & terrace seating available. BESPOKE by Denise can also be contacted directly on 06 75 89 95 55 To view our collection, please visit our FB page: or website

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Parlez Français French conversation, vocabulary & traditions French Language

Quiz sur la France ! Très bonne année 2024 à vous tous ! Pour commencer cette nouvelle année, je vous propose un petit quiz sur la France. Connaissez-vous bien la France ? Ce quiz vous invite à visiter la France, peut-être un projet pour 2024 ? Bonne chance ! A very happy new year 2024 to you all! To start this new year, I suggest a small quiz on France. How well do you know France? This quiz invites you to visit France; maybe it can be a project for 2024? Good luck!

France - Geography header


France - General Knowledge


1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

What is the second-largest city in France? What is the highest mountain in France? Which river flows through Paris? Which country has the largest land border with France? Which chain of mountains can you find between Spain and France?

1. When is Bastille Day? 2. What is France’s motto? 3. What is the name of the French national anthem? 4. What colours can you find on the French flag? 5. Which city was the capital of France from 1417 to 1422? 6. Who famously said “How can you govern a country which has two hundred and forty-six varieties of cheese?”

1. What is the difference between “Bonjour” and “Bonsoir”? 2. What is the formal version of “you” in French? 3. What does “Salut! Ça va?” mean? 4. How does the verb « to paint » conjugate in the present tense? 5. How do you translate « to park »?

French History


1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Who was the last King of France? Who made French school mandatory and free of charge? Who founded the Kingdom of France? When was D-day? In which year did the French Revolution start? Who was Louis XVI’s wife? When was the Armistice signed at the end of WWI (exact day)? Which document was drafted during the French Revolution, alongside the constitution? 9. Where did the boats land in France for D-Day? 10. Which French King was nicknamed “Le Roi Soleil”

French Culture


1. When would you drink an apéritif? 2. Traditionally, children in France are given a snack at 4 pm. What is that meal called? 3. What traditional cake is eaten on 6th January? 4. In France, people don’t drink their coffee or tea from a mug at breakfast. What do they use? 5. What do the French call the greetings that consist of kissing people on the cheek?

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language & assistance French Food 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


What is the traditional french cake for Christmas? How is the meat cooked in a Steak Tartare? Which city was the birthplace of the “Bouillabaisse”? Which French region do ‘crepes’ come from? What does “Mille-Feuille” mean in French?

1. 2. 3. 4. 5.


French Fashion 1. Which famous French fashion house’s name is often referred to as “LV”?

3. Which famous French fashion house sells the perfume “N°5?

Who wrote “Madame de Bovary”? Was the writer George Sand a man or a woman? Who wrote “Les Misérables”? Which novel by Stendhal has a name including 2 colours? In which French novella would you follow a young prince who visits various planets in space?

French Wine 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

2. On which famous street in Paris will you find all the luxury fashion brands?


French Literature


What type of wine is a “Sauternes”? In which French region can you find a Fronton? What type of wine is a “Veuve Clicquot”? Which type of wine is used in a Boeuf Bourguignon? What is the most widely planted red grape variety in France?

4. Who was Yves Saint Laurent’s partner?


French Movies & TV Shows French Music


1. Which French singer was married to Johnny Depp? 2. Which famous French artist had a daughter with Jane Birkin? 3. Which French duo is known for the songs “Around the world” and “Get Lucky”? 4. Which French DJ is known for the songs “Titanium”, “She wolf” and “Memories”? 5. Who sang “La Vie en Rose”?

1. 2. 3. 4.

Who are the two main actors in “Les Intouchables”? Who played Amélie Poulain in the film « Amélie »? In the famous Disney movie, where can you find the Hunchback? What is the name of Emily’s French neighbour in « Emily in Paris »? 5. What is the French name of the Netflix show “Call my Agent”?


Famous Landmarks in France 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

What landmark was built for the 1889 Exposition in Paris? Which famous French landmark caught fire in 2019? What is the name of the Promenade in Nice? What is the name of the Promenade in Cannes? Which Roman catholic church is located at the summit of the butte Montmartre, in Paris? 6. Which famous museum in Paris is located in a former train station? HOW DID YOU DO?! SEE ANSWERS ON PAGE 52

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orld Cancer Day is a global initiative aimed at raising awareness about cancer, encouraging its prevention, detection, and treatment, and uniting people and organisations around the world in the fight against cancer. It takes place annually on February 4th. The day is organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), a leading international non-governmental organisation dedicated to the global cancer community. World Cancer Day serves as a platform to educate the public about cancer, dispel myths, and promote actions that can help reduce the global impact of this disease. Events and activities on World Cancer Day include educational campaigns, fundraising efforts, and community

World Cancer Day serves as a platform to educate the public about cancer, dispel myths, and promote actions that can help reduce the global impact of this disease outreach programs. It's a day for individuals, communities, and organisations to come together, share information, and work towards a world where cancer is less prevalent and better understood. By fostering a sense of global solidarity, World Cancer Day aims to inspire action at the individual, community, and governmental levels to reduce the global burden of cancer and improve the lives of those affected by the disease.

Cancer Support France Recognising World Cancer Day


any of you will already know of Cancer Support France (CSF) and the work that they have been doing for over 20 years now to support Englishspeaking people in France who are touched by cancer. The accompanying article by the new President of Cancer Support France Haute-Vienne will give further insight into the work of a local association. Readers of etcetera magazine will find that there are several of our associations in the region - CSF Haute-Vienne, CSF Dordogne Nord, CSF Charente Plus and CSF Vienne Deux-Sèvres - however you can contact us confidentially on our National Helpline 0800 240 200 to be directed to the one most local to you.

Sue Smith, President, Cancer Support France has evolved over many years and is constantly updated as practices and guidance changes. It is delivered by a team of experienced trainers who come from different areas of France. Training is our biggest expense and CSF National are focussing on fundraising especially for that purpose to support our associations and ensure that there is a common standard of support offered throughout the country.

In 2024 we have a few events planned, the Each of our associations is supported by a first to mark World Cancer Day on 4th network of volunteers. Some offer drop-in February. There will be coffee mornings where events to fundraise for you can meet a friendly face, as well as fun fundSome people take their local associations but we are also holding a national raising events from support a step further and event in the form of an Christmas markets to become what we call an online quiz (see page 14). summer barbecues. Some Active Listener may offer group walks, The quiz will take place on craft classes, quizzes, all Sunday 4th February at manner of activities bringing people 14h00 and will feature tea, cakes, and together. Volunteers may help to organise much more. We hope that many people these events, make the tea and coffee, will join us on that day and donate a small some just turn up once a month, some amount, whatever you can afford, to less, but every one of those volunteers is Cancer Support France. To register for the valued. Some people take their support a World Cancer Day quiz please email step further and become what we call an Active Listener. or visit our Facebook page Active Listeners are our emotional support 4727 volunteers. They undergo a three-day training course written, part-funded, and Please also look out for local World Cancer organised by CSF National, the support Day events and support your local organisation for the group. This training CSF Association.

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f you are a native English speaker, or English is your second language, getting by in French may be easy until you suddenly have to deal with the health and social services in France and you have only a brief idea of how it all works. You’ve been used to visiting the doctor for minor ailments and for your Covid and flu injections but now this is a whole new ball game. Cancer strikes. Unexpectedly and, sometimes, without warning. It is devastating news not only for you, the patient with cancer, but for your family and close friends as well.

Our association was founded at the end of 2011 by Sue Ware as president, Richard Ware as secretary, and Karen Blewett as treasurer. Cancer Support France HauteVienne was and is governed by the Law of 1st July 1901 allowing the association to meet, raise funds, and be a legal entity. Our aim is to offer support to English speakers touched by cancer and also their family and friends, whatever their country of origin. Cancer Support France HauteVienne covers the Haute-Vienne (87), the Correze (19), the Creuse (23) and the Indre (36) and is affiliated to Cancer Support France National, a much larger network of associations.

Although you may be able to get by in French, your mastery of the language is to an adequate standard for daily life but We provide support for our clients by now you find it very hard to cope with the telephone, by building relationships with new medical and social procedures. This local hospitals, and by providing language may be complicated even support for clients on more if you have just to hospitals, Our aim is to offer support visits recently moved to France sometimes by and you are only just into to English speakers touched telephone if needed. the system and have a new by cancer and also their Coming from a variety health insurance company family and friends, whatever of backgrounds we are supporting you. It’s hard their country of origin all volunteers and are enough to understand all trained to the national the other language and standards of Cancer Support France and cultural differences! What you want is receive follow-up training to keep our someone to talk to who will listen to your skills up to date. Fundraising events are worries. Someone outside of your family arranged during the year to cover who is not closely involved but immediate costs for training and on-going understands your worries and fears. It is training and to promote awareness. Our for times like this that Cancer Support Active Listeners do not offer medical France Haute-Vienne was formed. advice. We are simply there to listen. Cancer Support France Haute-Vienne puts A volunteer since 2015, I was elected as you in contact with an Active Listener to the new President and took up my duties enable you to talk through, frankly and on 1st January 2024. Being a volunteer openly, your feelings and concerns has been one of the most rewarding times without burdening friends or family and of my life. I pledged, when I was elected, perhaps to regain some control of your to continue our excellent grassroots life. Or you may just want to talk about service and also to raise awareness, such anything else but cancer. This is what we do and in complete confidence. as this article, of our association’s work.


had just moved to a different region of France when I was diagnosed with cancer, so all my friends, colleagues and would-be helpers were 250km away. As my condition worsened my sister came to stay and did everything she could possibly do to help but it was a strain on her. She was not only taking care of me but also trying to take care of hospital appointments and all other administration which is bad enough when you have a good grasp of the French language but not one of life pleasures when you don’t. It was around this time that someone suggested contacting CSF. This is what she did and the next day I was talking with an Active Listener on the phone, and a couple of days later I had a visit from the Active Listener - within a week CSF had taken charge of all aspects of my situation. Literally a life-saver. CSF were with me throughout all my treatments, all the long waits in hospitals,

all my ups and downs. I’ll never cease to be grateful to the sincere kindness, help and support I received from CSF throughout that period of my life. Rebecca


saw an advert for Cancer Support France Haute-Vienne. I live in the Creuse, but they kindly extended their help to me. My husband suggested I called them which I did a few days later. Since then (August 2021) I have been talking to a lovely lady quite often. She is always there for me in moments of sadness and joy. I have become stronger with her and my therapist’s support. Sometimes a good chat can make the world of difference when you are feeling low and I have been lifted out of that sadness by having this incredible contact. If you or anyone you know is affected by cancer, whether it be yourself, a friend or

Andrew Swift President Cancer Support France, Haute-Vienne

With the excellent and experienced team in our association I have complete confidence in these outcomes. Cancer Support France Haute-Vienne are especially grateful to our Supporting Members who, for an annual membership fee set at the moment at 15 €, help us enormously to achieve our goals. If you need our help in any way or feel you would like to get involved with Cancer Support Haute-Vienne, please contact us (see our advert on page 5). Finally, thank you for taking the time to read this article and, remember, if you need us, we are here to help.

Sue Ware (President of CSF-HV, 2011-2023) with Andrew Swift, the newly elected President

family, it has been so beneficial for me, and quite possibly a life-saver. Margaret


n October 2022 my wife was diagnosed with cancer. She was told about Cancer Support France, so got in touch with her local association (Haute-Vienne). My wife found them very helpful and very caring. Sadly my wife died in October 2022, and I was diagnosed with colon cancer the same year. After my wife died I continued contact with CSF-HV and I found them very supportive. It is a wonderful organisation and I am enormously grateful for their help and support, in what has been a very difficult time in my life. They have years of experience of the French system and will guide you with knowledge and compassion. Robert

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t’s a brand-new year and I find it hard to believe that this will mark my 5th year of writing this food column. I also need to pinch myself sometimes, as Lee and I never actually planned to even live here in France and yet, somehow, we’ve now been residents here for more than 6 years. Our adventure started in 2007 with the purchase of a holiday home in Normandy. We loved France and spent time here at every opportunity, but then in 2015, came the crazy notion to buy a

I’ll be letting someone else put on the apron and take over the kitchen chateau, which in turn led to us appearing on TV. And then, because of one TV appearance, in which a copy of etcetera was spotted in the background, I was asked if I would like to write the food column for this well-loved magazine, and I accepted the offer with pleasure. But, all good things must come to an end, so next month I’ll be sharing the second serving of my favourite winter warmers, after that, I’ll be letting someone else put on the apron and take over the kitchen. Happy New Year to you all!

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By Belin da Princ e

Belinda, the ‘Accidental Chatelaine’ loves to cook at any opportunity and is delighted to be able to share that love with you

Hearty Mushroom Soup This is honestly one of the most delicious soups I have ever tasted and so simple to make! Serve for lunch with some crusty bread, or a smaller portion at dinnertime as a starter. Ingredients (Serves 4) 500g mushrooms 100g smoked lardons 1 large onion 250g potatoes Small bunch parsley 20g butter 500ml beef or chicken stock 250ml crème fraîche 1 tsp dried thyme salt & pepper Method 1. Slice the mushrooms and chop the onion finely. 2. Wash and chop the parsley finely.

3. Peel the potatoes and chop into roughly 1cm cubes. 4. Fry the onion and bacon in the butter, add the sliced mushrooms and cook for about 5 mins. 5. Add the stock and chopped potatoes and simmer for about 30 mins, until the potatoes are tender. 6. Add the crème fraîche, thyme and season with salt and pepper. Serve scattered with the chopped parsley, with buttered crusty bread.


Sausagemeat and Fennel Ragu

Orange Glazed Salmon

Ingredients (Serves 4- easily halved) Ingredients (Serves 4)

1 tbsp olive oil

15ml vegetable oil 1 onion, peeled and diced 1 chilli, red or green, finely sliced 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped 2 tsp fennel seeds 1 tbsp dried oregano 500g good quality sausagemeat/pork stuffing 200ml red wine 2 tbsp tomato puree 1 tin chopped tomatoes Sat and pepper

2 tsp butter


1. Heat the butter and oil in a pan over a medium-high heat. Sear the salmon skin-side up for 3-4 minutes. Turn the salmon over and sear for 2 minutes.

1. Place a pan over a medium heat, add the oil, then fry the onion, garlic and chilli for a few minutes. Dry fry the fennel seeds until fragrant, then lightly crush in a pestle and mortar. Add the fennel seeds to the pan with the oregano and cook for a minute or so. 2. Add the meat to the pan and stir to break up the clumps, fry until browned. Add the wine and cook until it’s reduced by about a half. Add the tomato puree and chopped tomatoes and season to taste.

4x 170g skinless salmon fillets 125ml fresh orange juice, (about 1/2 an orange) 3 tbsp honey 2 tbsp soy sauce 4 cloves garlic, crushed salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste 1/2 an orange, sliced to serve Method:

2. Pour in the orange juice and allow to reduce to half the quantity (it takes about 1 minute to reduce down if your pan is hot enough). 3. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant (30 seconds). Move the salmon to the sides of the pan and add in the honey and soy sauce, stirring well to combine all of the flavours together. Bring to a simmer until reduced to a nice syrup (this takes about another 30 seconds to 1 minute), move the salmon around in the sauce to evenly coat.

3. At this point, you could place in th slow cooker for 3 hours on low, or simmer on the over a low heat for around 45 minutes, or place in a low owven for an hour or so.

4. Remove from heat once the salmon is cooked to your liking.

Serve with paste and plenty of grated parmesan cheese.

Goes well with spicy stir fry noodles.

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Root Vegetable Tartiflette with Lardons

Chocolate Croissant Pudding

Ingredients (Serves 4)

This croissant bread pudding is very simple to make and can easily be adapted to your favourite ingredients. For example, use brioche or peanut butter as alternatives.

750g vegetables (swede, parsnip, turnip, potato, sweet potatoes all work well) 20g butter plus extra for greasing 1 large sliced onion 200g smoked lardons 1 tsp mixed herbs 200ml crème fraîche 240g reblochon cheese Salt and pepper to taste Pre-heat oven to 220c Method 1. Bring a pan of salked water to the boil. Thickly slice the vegetables and add to the pan, cook for about 6 minutes until just tender to the point of a snife and drain throughly. 2. Melt the butter in a pan over a medium heat. Fry the onions and

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lardons until crisp and golden and stir through the herbs. 3. Lightly butter a medium size overproof gratin dish. Thinly slice the reblochon cheese. 4. Place half the vegetables in the bottom of the dish, then spoon over half the onions and lardons, half the crème fraîche and sliced cheese. 5. Season well and repeat the layers finishing with a layer of cheese.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6) 3 croissants (preferably 1-2 days old) 170g chocolate hazelnut spread (eg Nutella) 40g nuts of your choice, chopped

6. Bake in the oven for about 25 minutes, until golden and bublbling.

2 large eggs

Delicious served with cornichons, salad and crusty bread.

1 tsp vanilla extract

250ml double cream (crème entière)

¼ tsp sea salt 100g sugar

For a vegetarian option, simply omit the lardons, or source some veggie bacon slices (cut into strips) which are now showing up in some supermarkets around here.

Method: 1. Heat the oven to 170ºC/150ºC fan. Lightly oil or butter a medium size baking dish.

Easy Tiramisu

3. Whisk the eggs, cream, vanilla, sugar, and the salt together then pour over the sandwich pieces. Gently push down the croissants so the custard starts to absorb. 4. Cover with aluminium foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake, uncovered, until the bread pudding is golden brown, has risen slightly and the liquid has been completely absorbed, about 10 minutes. Option - try adding raspberries or blueberries to create a sweeter twist to this dish (step 2). Delicious with vanilla ice cream or custard!

Ingredients (Serves 6) Guests will be super impressed by this delicious Italian inspired creamy dessert! 2 tbsp instant coffee 2 tbsp caster sugar

2. Add the brandy or rum and top up with cold water to make 250ml liquid. Place biscuits to fill the base of the serving dish. Carefully pour over about half of the coffee liquid. 3. Place the mascarpone, cream and crème anglaise in a bowl and whisk together until soft, smooth and creamy.

3 tbsp brandy or rum About 16 boudoir biscuits 250g mascarpone

4. Spread half the mixture over the soaked biscuits and sprinkle with half the grated chocolate.

150ml double cream (crème entière) 300ml crème anglaise 50g plain chocolate, grated

5. Top with the remaining biscuits and slowly drizzle with the rest of the coffee liquid until the biscuits are soaked through.

10ml cocoa powder, sifted Method: Find your prettiest serving dish, preferably glass, so the layers can be seen. 1. Place the coffee and sugar in a measuring jug, add 3 tablespoons of boiling water and stir until the coffee and sugar are dissolved.

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6. Spread over the remaining mascarpone mixture and decorate with the remaining grated chocolate and sift over the cocoa powder. Voilà! Enjoy!

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2. Slice the croissants in half lengthwise then thickly spread one side with chocolate spread. Put the halves back together to make sandwiches and cut into 2-inch pieces then add to the baking dish. Scatter the top with nuts.


Open for for private private viewings viewings Call Call 05 05 49 49 48 48 02 02 93 93 Open Château Mareuil, Mareuil, 86290 Brigueil-le-Chantre Belinda and Lee Prince 05 49 48 02 93 etcetera 19









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elocating to France, a country renowned for its cultural heritage, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant lifestyle, requires meticulous planning and adherence to essential steps to ensure a seamless transition. As you prepare to embark on this exciting journey in 2024, here are some points to think about, covering vital aspects to facilitate your relocation to France.

Visa Application Process

Health Insurance and Registering with a General Practitioner (GP) Obtaining health insurance coverage is vital for accessing healthcare services in France. You’ll need to enrol with a General Practitioner (GP) to establish a primary healthcare provider, ensuring ongoing medical care. Adherence to the 'parcours de soins' is essential for reimbursement of specific medical treatments, which entails consulting your GP first to obtain an official referral known as an 'ordonnance'.

Understanding France's visa requirements is paramount for a successful move. Determine the type of visa Setting Up Insurance that aligns with your purpose for relocating and Utility Bills France offers a whether it's for work, diverse range of Arrange for home or rental study, family reunion, or entrepreneurship. Gather educational options insurance to protect your belongings and property. the necessary Ensure utilities such as documentation, submit electricity, gas, water, your visa application on internet are set up in your the France Visa website, attend your accommodation. Contact service providers appointment, and await approval before to initiate connections and payments for making travel arrangements. seamless access to essential amenities.

Opening a French Bank Account

Setting up a French bank account is essential for managing finances and conducting day-to-day transactions. Research different banking options, visit local branches, and provide required documentation (passport, proof of address, etc.) to open an account. Having a French bank account facilitates paying bills, receiving payments, and managing your financial affairs in France.

Enrolling your children in school France offers a diverse range of educational options. Research various schools in your area of residence, considering factors such as curriculum, language of instruction, extracurricular activities etc. Contact the chosen school(s) well in advance to understand admission procedures, required documentation, and enrolment deadlines.

If you plan to drive in France, understand the regulations regarding driving licences and vehicle registrations. Depending on your country of origin, you might need to exchange your foreign driving licence for a French one within a specified timeframe. Research the requirements and procedures for obtaining a French driving licence and register your vehicle according to French regulations, including importation.

Completing Your French Tax Return Familiarise yourself with the French tax system and obligations. As a resident, you'll need to file a French tax return annually. Gather necessary documentation, such as income statements, and comply with tax filing deadlines to ensure compliance with French tax laws.

Setting Up a Business For entrepreneurs seeking to establish a business in France, navigate the legal and administrative processes involved. Research business structures, register your business with relevant authorities, obtain necessary permits or licences, and adhere to tax obligations related to business operations in France. Relocating to France in 2024 holds the promise of new beginnings and exciting adventures. By meticulously attending to visa requirements, financial matters, healthcare, administrative tasks, and embracing the local culture, your relocation journey to France can be an enriching and rewarding experience.

Lauren Dodds

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Admin Help, Translation, Interpretation Lauren has a deep understanding of the French system and its complexities etcetera 21


English-speaking lawyer, registered before French Bar, 25 years’ experience

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New Year Resolutions T

he festivities have ended, the wine’s drunk, and the leftovers have all been consumed. It’s time to make your “new” New Year resolutions. How about a resolution for reviewing your finances? Now that the impact of Brexit is more known, and with banks closing accounts and credit cards for people not living in the UK, and restrictions on how you can access your pensions, it would be wise to look at how it will have had an impact on your financial goals, your pensions, and your savings. You may want to ask yourself a few of these questions below: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7.

When was the last time you did/had a financial review? Are your savings now in the right account and place? Do you know that you are getting the best returns on your savings account? Do you know how your investments have been performing? Are your savings in a tax efficient investment plan? Could your investments be performing better? Are your pensions located in the best country if you live in France?

HELEN Do you have pension schemes in the UK that you don’t know about or are BOOTH unsure about their future ability to INDEPENDENT FINANCIAL ADVISER provide a pension? deVere France 9. Is it time to investigate moving your pensions from the UK? It is always wise to have a regular financial 10. If you are saving for something in review to make sure that you are fully particular, are your savings on track informed of any financial changes that to enable you to reach your goal? may have happened, and to see if you can 11. Have you been getting the make your money work even best exchange rates from harder for you during these sterling to euros? Are your savings challenging times. All you’ll 12. Have your financial needs now in the right have lost is the time it takes or priorities changed? for a review to be performed; account and place? time that will repay you with 13. Are you up to date with any changes in the French peace of mind and reassurance. tax system that could have an impact on your savings When choosing an advisor to carry out a and investments? financial review on your behalf, always 14. What effect has Brexit had on your ensure that they are fully regulated in the pensions and savings? country they are based in, as well as being These are just a few of the many important fully independent, so that they can offer questions that you should regularly ask impartial advice and have access to all of the financial markets. yourself regarding your finances - and not just at the beginning of each new year Please note, the above is for education purposes only and does not constitute advice. You should always contact either. If you are unsure about some of the your advisor for a personal consultation.* No liability answers that are revealed when asked, can be accepted for any actions taken or refrained from then it’s likely time for a financial review. being taken, as a result of reading the above. 8.

Helen Booth works as a financial adviser for deVere France S.a.r.l and has lived as well as owned property in the Deux-Sèvres region. Having worked in the financial services in the UK for over 15 years, Helen prides herself in being fully diploma-qualified for the services that she provides. Helen has lived and worked in France for over 8 years and enjoys being part of deVere France S.a.r.l., a division of one of the world’s leading independent financial consultancies, deVere Group. With over $10 billion of funds under its advice and administration and with more than 80,000 clients around the world, deVere Group truly offers a myriad of unique products and notes that are not available anywhere else in the market. This, as Helen puts it, gives clients the pick of the crop when it comes to investing.

deVere France S.a.r.l. are regulated by ANACOFI-CIF and ORIAS which will only recommend French regulated products.

deVere France can advise you on ways to help safeguard and increase your wealth, as well as helping with HMRC-recognised pension transfers to a Qualified Recognised Overseas Pensions scheme (QROPS) to give you potentially more flexibility in your pension plans.

If you would like to know more about how deVere France can help you, contact

Helen Booth DipPFS , EFA

: +33 (0) 77 171 2879 :

Dénomination sociale: deVere France S.a.r.l, RCS B 528949837, 29 Rue Taitbout, 75009, Paris, France. Gérant: Mr. Jason Trowles. Registre avec ANACOFI-CIF (Association Nationale des Conseils Financiers). Nombre enregistré: E008176, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers. Courtier d’assurances ou de réassurance, Catégorie B, inscrit à l’Organisme pour le Registre des Intermédiaires en Assurance (ORIAS) numéro enregistré 12064640. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier et L 512-6 et 512-7 du Code des Assurances. Registered name: deVere France S.a.r.l, registered company number RCS B 528949837, 29 Rue Taitbout, 75009, Paris, France. Gérant: Mr. Jason Trowles. Registered with ANACOFI-CIF (National Association of Financial Advisers). Registered number: E008176, association approved by the Financial Markets Authority. Insurance and re-insurance brokers, Category B, registered with the Organisation for the Registration of Assurance Intermediaries (ORIAS). Registered number 12064640. Financial and Professional Liability Insurance Guarantee conforms to article L 541-3 of the Monetary and Fiscal Code and L 512-6 and 512-7 of the Assurance Code. 6XKWSX •V1.1/230418

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HOUSE INSURANCE: BEING UNDERINSURED and some good-to-know facts… I

t often comes as a surprise to some people that when they want a quote for their house insurance, I ask to come and visit. If it is too far, I ask them for a complete description of the house. This is because in France, you are insured in accordance with the number of rooms you have and not on the value of the house. So, I will explain how the contract works and what the consequences are of being underinsured. How do you count the rooms: In France, your insurance company will ask you how many “pièces” your house has. What counts as rooms (pièces) are bedrooms/ living room/ dining room/offices/mezzanine/verandas that are over 9m2 (with Allianz) but also a landing or reception room if it is very big. Bathrooms, toilets, kitchen, landing, corridors are not counted as rooms. Rooms over 40 m2 count as 2 rooms! Kitchens that have a separation like a bar or if only half the room is a kitchen, and the other half is a dining room could count as one room. To make sure what counts as rooms, it is better to check the “Dispositions Générales'' of your contract. This is the booklet that comes with your contract (Dispositions particulières) and you would have a description of what the rooms are (written in the first few pages under definitions “pièces”). And do

24 etcetera

remember to inform your insurance company if you make some changes to your house (extra room, pool, conservatory, etc).

insurance contract. Note that each company is different so check your booklet. For instance, with Allianz, if a car hits your fence and does not stop, we cover it. Most companies do not cover it if the guilty party is not identified!

What happens if you are not insured for the right number of rooms: In these circumstances, the insurer may Chimney: If you have a wood burner, choose to "apply average" to the claim insert or fireplace, you must inform your under an "average insurance company. clause". This means that Yes, it increases the where the number of This means that where the premium as it is an rooms insured is number of rooms insured extra risk of fire. inadequate, the insurer Inserts are the is inadequate, the insurer can reduce its liability for riskiest. You must can reduce its liability for a a claim by applying a also inform the claim by applying a proportionate approach. company if the The sum to be paid out is proportionate approach wood burner or usually calculated insert was installed as follows: by a professional (send a copy of the sum insured invoice). It reduces the premium if so. x loss = claim sum paid Chimney sweeping by a professional is true value at risk obligatory and we need proof if you make Basically, it means you get less money for a claim. your claim! That is why you should inform us when you make changes to your house. What are you insured for: Fire, damage caused by a vehicle (plane, spacecraft or meteorite!), theft, vandalism, terrorism, natural and technological catastrophe, water damage, electrical damage, storm-snow-hail damage, glass breakage, and public liability. These are the basic guarantees on your house

Contents: The house and contents are on the same contract in France. Contents are movable things. So, imagine you are moving to a new house, it is the value of everything you put in the removal truck. An equipped kitchen is part of the house. Being insured for 100 000 € does not mean you will get that if the house burns down so make sure you are covered

business properly. Yes, the contents amount affects the premium.

cover option) so bring it in if a storm is coming!

Valuables: Valuables are jewellery and precious metals and stones. With Allianz, for a piece of furniture to be classed as valuable, it has to be worth more than 8000 €. But it depends on the company so check the definitions in the booklet. Valuable objects are not covered in holiday houses during your absence.

Water damage: If you have a water leak, the damage caused by the water leak is covered but not the cause of the leak. If your internal water pipe blows or the water tank has a fault, it is wear and tear. Or it must be caused by a storm, earthquake, or any event covered by your insurance.

Theft: To claim for a theft or robbery, we need a police report. Padlocks are not recognized by insurance companies as secure enough, so anything stolen that was protected by a padlock is not covered for theft. You can opt to have personal items covered for theft outside your house but it’s an option so ask for it to be added to your policy (up to 1500 € with Allianz). Loss is not covered! Cash is not covered either. Make sure you have kept invoices or photos of your valuables as we need proof you had them in the first place!

Holiday house: You must turn off the water in winter and don't forget to drain it as toilets can freeze and break and would then not be fully covered. You must also shut the shutters and get someone to check the house regularly. Some insurance companies don’t cover theft on holiday houses if you don’t have shutters (not Allianz). Lack of maintenance: Insurance does not cover damages due to a lack of maintenance so if you have a decrepit barn or roof and it collapses, the insurance won't pay out!

Outbuildings: If you have a garage or a barn, etc., it is insured under the same contract as the house. It is measured by the Insurance does not cover surface on the floor (walls damages due to a lack of included). There is a limit of maintenance so if you have a cover for contents inside decrepit barn or roof and it outbuildings so check your booklet. With Allianz, it is collapses, the insurance up to 1500 € but can be won't pay out! increased to 4500 or 10 000 € as an option. Business: If you use part of your house for business (gîte, chambre d’hôte, hairdressing, beauty, etc.) you must inform your insurance company as there is a professional insurance for that and the professional material is not covered under house contents. Garden: It is a house insurance contract so if you want garden things like pergolas, spas, barbecue, garden furniture etc. to be covered, it’s optional! Pergolas must be fixed to the ground to be covered. Same if you want trees to be removed in case of storms or your outside water pipes covered for leaks. Storm: For a storm to be officially recognised, the wind speed must be greater than 100km/h and garden furniture not fixed to the ground is not covered (unless you took out the garden

New for old: New for old does not mean you get new for old! You only get new for old if the wear and tear of the house covered is less than 25%. If it is more, you will have to cover the loss above 25% yourself. Eg: The roof is 35% wear and tear and it costs 10 000 € to repair, then 10% is left for you to pay (1 000 €). Check your contract as it depends on each insurance company. New for old is new for old for contents, no depreciation. New for old for electrical damage: You can add an option so that in case of electrical damage, the electrical equipment is replaced with new items. It only works if the equipment is less than 10 years old (with Allianz). It is different with other companies (check the booklet). Renewable energy: If you have solar panels or geothermal heating or anything to do with renewable energy/ecology, it’s an option so you must inform your insurance company otherwise it won’t be covered.

Options: There are loads of them: swimming pools, garden cover, horses,


electrical damage, new for old, extra cover for outbuildings, outside water pipes and septic tank, gite or chambre d’hôte liability, horse liability, beehive liability, lake liability, renewal energy equipment, theft cover outside the house, etc. Excess: Your contract will have a general excess decided by you (with Allianz between 0 and 800 €) same as a car. But note that some events carry an automatic excess written on the “dispositions générales” or set by the government such as, for example, natural catastrophe which is set at 380 € (same for all insurance policies), for vandalism outside the house, with Allianz it is 10% of the cost with a minimum of 460 and maximum 2000 €, for theft of furniture inside holiday home it is 230 €, etc. Security: If you have an approved alarm system, it reduces your premium. You must have at least one lock on each door. If you have a great number of valuables, the insurance company can ask for extra security (2 locks on doors, shutters, a safe, etc). With Allianz, if you do not meet the requirements, you get 50% less on your claim. Some companies give nothing! You must think this is rather heavy reading (and I agree) but note that all of us have the famous booklet “dispositions générales” in our office so we can check whether a claim made by a customer is covered or not or what are the limit of guarantees and excesses. The Allianz booklet is 94 pages long! So, we can’t remember it all. Mine is in my bag and when someone asks me if this is covered or not, or what the excess is, I double check it! Some of you only look at the premium of your insurance, but you can’t just stop at this. Banks are the first one to give you quotes stating it is the same cover but it’s probably not! As my husband always says, buy cheap buy twice!

Isabelle Want 06 17 30 39 11 Email: isabelle.want 22 rue Jean Jaures. 16700 Ruffec Tél:+33 (0)5 45 31 01 61

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ello, 2024! The aftermath of Christmas and New Year festivities joyfully welcomes another new year. And hopefully, one that is prosperous for all self-employed tradespeople. Some trades are buoyant in their business, and others are not. For example, climatic factors have kept those in the roofing trade busy. Changes to energy efficiency in homes keep other professions busy. 2024 will be a year where home-owners will continue to be prudent about whom they spend their money with. In this article, we'll explore strategies and ideas to help tradespeople navigate the challenges and ensure a prosperous start to the New Year and beyond. 1. Goals: Have goals in place to give your business a sense of direction, whether that's aiming to have a 4-day work week, business growth reaching a desired turnover target, or seeking a well-deserved holiday getaway. Create meaningful goals with action plans reviewed regularly to keep you motivated. 2. Embrace Technology: In an increasingly digital world, taking advantage of technology can enhance efficiency and customer

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satisfaction. Invest in tools that streamline your work processes, such as project management, online quote/invoicing systems, and customer relationship management [CRM] systems. Additionally, having a solid online presence, such as a professional website and active social spaces, can attract more clients.

(Chambre de Métiers et de l'Artisanat) will also have access to training. Consider attending workshops and online courses to enhance administrative and business management skills.

4. Invest in Training: Many small businesses have access to training funds through their cotisations. It is worth investigating to see what you have access to. Several building-related organisations offer access to training courses through membership. Those who hold a carte professionnelle through CMA

embracing technology for efficiency, nurturing customer relationships, continuous training, and vigilant financial planning. In the face of unforeseen circumstances, adaptability and transparency will be key, ensuring that tradespeople not only navigate challenges but also set the stage for sustained success in 2024 and beyond.

5. Financial Planning: Without warning, circumstances can change very quickly, good or bad. Set realistic financial goals for the 3. Customer Engagement upcoming year. Review your business and Satisfaction: expenses. Review your pricing. Customers are the bedrock of any business. And while you are busy Review your retirement planning. Speak to competent attracting new customers, remember Many small businesses have advisers who can to stay connected to guide you through access to training funds those who have used various aspects of through their cotisations your services. Existing your business customers are a gateway regime, particularly to attracting new clients. It costs more if you want to grow/scale your to attract new customers than to keep business or your business expenses hold of existing ones. Positive reviews outgrow your annual abatement on from satisfied customers contribute your tax return. Consult with a significantly to your reputation and financial adviser regarding retirement future business. Ensure your planning and preparation for economic uncertainties. communication is transparent. There are times when projects don't go to In an environment where some trades plan. Manage your customer's flourish while others face varied demands, expectations quickly, no matter how climate and energy efficiency changes play difficult. Customers will appreciate pivotal roles. I hope this mini-guide helps honesty. Customers will not enjoy to empower self-employed tradespeople having to be the ones who keep with actionable insights, emphasising the chasing a tradesperson. importance of setting meaningful goals,


Brian White lives in south Indre with his wife, too many moles and not enough guitars


kay, folks – start your engines, here we go. Let’s hit the ground running, setting strategic goals, meeting the year’s challenges head-on and... so on and so forth. Or we could make some coffee and have a think. I do enjoy a new year with its persuasive optimism but let’s not get hysterical. How about we just ease into January as it prepares for us a path out of winter’s gloom? Somewhere in the grey silence of the woods Spring wanders, her lantern soon to become just visible through the mist. Also, I know that New Year’s “up-and-at‘em” enthusiasm can quickly evaporate. A century ago, for instance, as an eager young telephone engineer, my first job one 2nd January was to install a payphone in a sprawling residential home. This involved dropping through a trapdoor and traversing the entire building under the floor, zig-zagging through gaps in the foundations in a crawl space about two feet high. I was somewhere under the launched them in America. Countless middle of the building when my torch British bands flourished in their wake. died. In total darkness, and suddenly A favourite bit of trivia: The 1974 aware of nearby scurrying sounds, I Eurovision Song Contest, whose 50th turned onto my back and knocked on the anniversary comes in April, famously saw underneath of the floor hoping to figure an obscure Swedish pop group – originally out exactly where I was. Three elderly introduced as “The Abba” – catapult ladies heard me and immediately began themselves to global mega-stardom. But arguing about the did you know that the direction in which I evening also featured the should crawl, (shushing Given the tumultuous only Eurovision song to me when I tried to start a war? Portugal’s news cycle over recent interrupt), while entry, “E depois do adeus”, years, surely little could another one hammered away on a piano. It was come as a shock in 2024 sung by Paulo de Carvalho, was played on Lisbon radio two hours before I later that month as one of found my way out, filthy two secret signals for rebels and bleeding copiously from crawling to launch the so-called “Carnation over some broken glass. Happy New Revolution”, which brought democracy to Year, everyone! the country after decades of authoritarian Anyway, we can be certain that whatever rule. (It still only finished 14th). 2024 brings, it will also mark some Given the tumultuous news cycle over historic events as their anniversaries recent years, surely little could come as a heave into view. Given our preference for shock in 2024. A year from now we’ll commemorating past years in multiples of reconvene to wonder about the curious ten, there’s going to be a lot of it. For decision of the Welsh Assembly to invade example, the start of the First World War Brazil or perhaps we’ll concede that on in August 1914 and the turning point of Strictly Come Dancing, Donald Trump’s the second in June 1944 will both prompt samba exceeded our expectations. With a sober historical analysis (except in the UK shrug and a raised eyebrow, we will take it tabloids, where simplistic “Nazis and all in our stride and move on. Spitfires” triumphalism will dominate). More welcome will be recollections of The Humankind’s inexhaustible capacity for Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed conflict will undoubtedly fill our news Sullivan Show in February 1964 which bulletins again this year. A greater number of women in leadership roles would drew an estimated 73 million viewers and

BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS ameliorate many of these flashpoints. Evidence shows this not only reduces the likelihood of war but also increases the chances of a peaceful resolution in its aftermath. According to research by the independent Council on Foreign Relations, in a thirty year period from 1992 only 13% of negotiators in peace processes around the world were women. Some 70% of all peace negotiations don’t include any women at all. It’s a calamitous stitch-up in which male swaggering masquerades as government, insisting the forthcoming conflict is ‘unavoidable’ while excluding women whose instincts more likely favour compromise. Gender inequality in all its forms is the great ogre the human race struggles even to face up to, never mind vanquish. It’s essential therefore that we hold firm and not allow despair over world events to spill into our daily lives. We have greater control over our morale and mental wellbeing than we sometimes imagine. There’s another anniversary this year: the 460th birthday (apparently) of William Shakespeare. In “Hamlet” he articulated this innate power. When the prince admits his feeling of imprisonment is actually constructed in his own mind, he speaks these words which I’ve always found useful: “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so”. So, my best to everyone. In 2024 let’s look out for ourselves and each other.

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Healthy Habits

Amanda is a registered Naturopathic Nutritionist and Nutrigenomics Practitioner. Gut, Digestion and Microbiome Specialist Email:

and how to stick to them!



ou create a plan for great health, maybe a new exercise regime or perhaps a promise to quit something. Everything starts off brilliantly with all guns blazing only for those resolutions to fall by the wayside a few weeks later once the novelty has worn off. Feeling fed up as you admit defeat, you fall back into your old ways. Why do so many of us follow this pattern? What makes people stick to their New Year’s resolutions and achieve what they really want? The answers may be a lot simpler than you think. We are all creatures of excuses and procrastination and as humans are often inherently lazy. In the relatively new sport of CrossFit (which involves gymnastics, weightlifting, and body conditioning) the first rule is ‘Just Show Up!’. The reason why is simple: if you show up… the rest will naturally follow. Once you are there, you won’t think about not doing the workout, it will just happen. And that’s what you need to do with your resolutions and goals… make success easy and unavoidable. Set yourself up for success not failure. So how does that happen? In his book, ‘Atomic Habits’, James Clear gives his strategy for forming new habits: 1. Make the habit super easy 2. Habit stacking 3. Make tiny incremental changes 4. Never miss twice 5. Don’t expect too much progress too quickly Make the Habit Super Easy Willpower is not endless. You will set yourself up for failure if you have to rely on willpower alone to achieve your goals. What this means is that you need to reduce your activity down to something so easy that it’s no chore at all. Example: instead of saying “I am going to walk 1 hour a day” (from a standing

start), say, “I am going to get out of the house for 5 minutes a day”. Make it so easy that you don’t need any willpower to get going. The habit is what’s important; once you are used to the habit, you can build on it. But for now, you need to create the habit and make that a part of your lifestyle. The rest will follow.

things you dream of with consistent effort… but you need to go slow.

Never Miss Twice Sometimes we might have to miss our habit for some reason. Even the most disciplined of us slip up. The difference between top performing people and those that don’t make the progress Habit Stacking Make those very they want to is that top If you know that you will do small changes every performers get back on track something every day, then quickly. So you missed one, couple of weeks you already have that as a fine… get back on track and habit. If it’s well ingrained stay the course… but don’t miss like reaching for that first morning coffee, twice! Make that your rule! Remember for example, or going out to get the mail, Just Show Up! Never miss twice. then that is the time to add your new Don’t Expect Too Much Progress activity onto your existing habit. If you Too Quickly already do something, then you just have If your goal is to quit the sugar habit and to place a really obvious cue or trigger in you have 4 cups of sugary tea a day, you the very place you know that you will be or probably know that this is contributing to that you will see and the rest will high blood sugar and it’s a risk factor for happen effortlessly. Type 2 Diabetes, so you’ve decided to get Example: you leave your walking shoes healthier and go sugar free. Perhaps losing and coat ready by the door and you move one of the spoons of sugar a day in week your headphone’s charging cable to the one, then two spoons a day in week 2 and same worktop where you make your so on. Or reduce each week by a small coffee. That way when you make that amount in each cup to allow your body to coffee you see your headphones and you adjust slowly. If you keep making small know that what follows is the 10 minute amounts of progress then you will barely walk where you listen to your audiobooks notice the process but very soon those (perhaps ‘Atomic Habits’) or your small changes will add up to large overall favourite music. The cue will remind you changes that really start to have a positive so that you can’t slip. Effortless. impact on your health and wellbeing. Make Tiny Incremental Increases in Remember to notice what rewards you for Your Progress as Time Goes on your efforts. Feeling a little more Remember that it’s the habit first and energetic? Sleeping better? Feeling foremost that is important. Always show happier? These are all the rewards that up and consider that a non-negotiable make you feel good and it’s worth being aspect of your lifestyle. Once it feels like a mindful of these rewards and using them part of your regular lifestyle then increase as motivation to keep yourself going. your walking time to 15 minutes or Whatever your goals or wishes or increase your speed a little to walk further resolutions are, remember that you can in the same time. Make those very small start a habit at any time. Be clear about changes every couple of weeks and you will what you want to achieve and follow the barely notice the individual changes but above steps to bring success to all your will make huge progress over the long plans and goals. term. You could easily be doing all the

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ate winter is the ideal time to prune apple and pear trees, particularly those that have been neglected for a number of years and need a lot of work. (Stone fruits such as cherry, plum, and peach should be pruned later in the year to avoid the damp weather that promotes the development of fungal diseases such as ‘silver leaf’ and ‘peach leaf curl’). Many country properties will have a small orchard or ‘verger’ which was planted maybe 50 or more years ago and, although still bearing fruits, is neglected and overgrown. In many cases there are productive pruning techniques that will improve the form and vigour of the tree and in turn this will reduce pests and diseases therefore reducing the need to reach for the pesticides. The temptation to go out and give your overgrown tree a ‘haircut’ should be avoided at all costs. Simply shortening the branches will initially reduce the size of the tree but will have the effect of removing the majority of the younger, healthiest fruit-bearing wood and will

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stimulate branching lower down which will make the inside of the tree even more congested. If you prune too heavily you will also promote the very vigorous ‘water shoots’ that take up a lot of energy from the tree and do not bear much fruit.

out overcrowded growth. You are aiming to open out the main framework, allowing more light into the tree to ripen the wood and the developing fruits and to allow better airflow which will reduce pest and disease problems. When taking out a branch, follow it right For major work and back to the point of restorative pruning wait origin, where it joins the until the tree is fully Ideally you should never trunk or main branch dormant, i.e. when all of cut out more than about a system, and cut it the leaves have fallen, cleanly off there at the quarter to a third of the and the tree has shut branch collar. Ideally wood at any one time down growth and you should never cut reduced its metabolism out more than about a to a minimum for the quarter to a third of the wood at any one winter. You can carry out the pruning any time and it is best to spread major time before the sap begins to rise again renovation of a tree over 3-4 years. (usually around early March). Always prune to a bud, node or branch The first thing to do is to stand back and collar and use a suitable sharp pruning have a good look at your tree, assess it for saw, loppers or secateurs. The branch balance of shape as well as looking at collar is the point where a branch joins the reducing congestion in the centre and main trunk or larger branch, just before increasing airflow. Always begin with the base of the branch broadens out. A removing any dead, damaged, and clean cut through the narrow point diseased branches and then any that are reduces damage and enhances healing. Unless the tree is obviously suffering from crossing and inward facing, and then thin


Caroline has been a lecturer in horticulture for 20 years and now runs a nursery and ‘garden craft’ courses in the Haute-Vienne at Le jardin créatif Caroline W right Le jardin cr éatif

canker (a disease that causes branches This pruning method will stimulate to die off - the symptoms include some new vigorous growth and is oozing cankers, blackened sunken often called ‘renewal’ pruning because patches on the stems, and malformed we can carry it out regularly to keep branches and fruits) you do not need the tree productive and juvenile. In to paint the wound with any sort of the second year you sealant or wound will continue to preparation, a nice remove a portion of You should either look at clean cut should the oldest branches replacing the tree with callus over and cut out more young healthy stock or naturally, and the inward facing tree will heal itself. just do your best to growth. The new

renovate the crown growth that you are If you want to generating will shorten any of the remaining stems, cut back to a replace them - you are aiming for downward and outward facing bud to vigorous, outward growing stems, encourage outward growth. balanced around the tree. You can cut back any unwanted, inward growing If there is major damage or disease in and crowded new growth to one or the main trunk of the tree then it is two buds - these will form fruiting not so easy to renovate. You should spurs in the next season. You can treat either look at replacing the tree with stone fruits (plums, apricots, cherries) young healthy stock or just do your in a similar way but these should best to renovate the crown (branching ideally be pruned in late summer part of the tree) and it will probably before mid-September to avoid carry on fruiting for a number of years diseases that are prevalent once the before the decline becomes so humidity increases in the autumn. significant that it has to be removed.

In February and March, we run courses in fruit pruning, including: renovation of mature orchard trees, training and establishment of young standard espalier and fan trained fruits, planning a small orchard, and caring for bush, cane, and soft fruits. Get in touch if you would be interested in any of these options. We can also offer bespoke advice and consultancy or come over to your orchard to hold a group tuition session designed especially for your needs. Get in touch with us to register interest in any of these options and check out our website for more details and booking You can also follow us on Facebook to receive updates on courses and events and gardening tips @lejardincreatif87

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t’s the time to start looking forward, although there is still more darkness than daylight, so take this opportunity to look at your garden in a slightly different way - sharing it with more wildlife. Perhaps there is time to think about creating your own sanctuary, not just for you but for the whirlwind of summer visitors like bees and butterflies, the myriad of birds there are around us, and even the odd animal, a hedgehog or a fox or a fat toad living at the base of a wall. While I love the plants in my garden simply for themselves, the fact that they are also creating a safe haven for wildlife is just as important. Some plants will do this better than others, but every garden has huge potential. And it really doesn’t take much to start gardening from a wildlife point of view. In fact, it actually can make things easier and give us all more time to relax and watch what is going on in our gardens. A few small changes are all it takes to help our gardens become wildlife havens. It doesn’t need to be a muddled mess of only native plants, aka weeds, it should be full of flowers, fruit, and foliage with flitting birds and buzzing insects. It’s all about balancing your needs and wishes for your garden with those of local wildlife, and you might be surprised to find out how similar they are. We want peace, seclusion, and privacy and so do most wild creatures. We want long flowering seasons, and this will suit lots of insects. We also want space to sun ourselves, eat outdoors, and enjoy summer evenings and surprisingly this is what all the local wildlife is also seeking. The majority of wildlife that this approach will attract will be pollinators such as bees and butterflies, alongside parasites and predators such as ladybirds, lacewings, spiders, and wasps. But even the creatures we don’t see such as woodlice and worms, soil bacteria, and other microorganisms, all do a great job for us munching their way through plant materials, creating

By Ronnie Ogier

Ronnie is a passionate gardener and now loves sharing her years of experience of success and failures in her own garden and sharing it with you. Also a keen runner, having been bitten by the ‘Couch to 5K’ bug!

nd a r a e Y w e Happy N ening! d Happy Gar

overwinter, but a mini pond just 20-30 cm deep will still be invaluable for wildlife. One very important thing is to ensure that Adapting our gardens to be more wildlife it is easy and safe for small animals such friendly shouldn’t automatically involve as hedgehogs to approach your pond; a major landscaping or great expense. It’s pond set in an expanse of paving can be more about simple small changes that are too risky for small animals to approach. easily achievable. But be prepared, wildlife The pond itself needs to have water visible won’t appear overnight; many of these but with margins of planting, some creatures survive by being cautious, and if overhanging the water. Ease of access to we put the right pieces in place they will the pond for the creatures is important, so start to arrive slowly but surely. A lot of try to ensure the pond has gently sloping gardening for wildlife is about just letting sides for them to get in and out! If you are things go a little, not being recycling an old sink, put too tidy – leaving seed Even the smallest pond stones or a wooden ramp in heads on some plants for the base to give an easy exit – will be a haven for the birds to eat after the wildlife including birds, no-one wants small animals flowers have faded or creating a pile of logs or bees, and butterflies to drown in a garden pond. A wildlife pond cannot really prunings for creatures to accommodate fish as well – their use as a home, particularly during the requirements are different. Fish can winter. Your compost bin will be a magnet pollute a wildlife pond and they will for invertebrates and the birds will love it readily eat plants and even newt eggs and as you dig it out. It’s also easy to add a few things to your garden such as bird feeders frog spawn. Finally keep your wildlife pond clean-ish – a bit of weed is a great and nesting boxes as well as specific plants breeding ground for underwater wildlife, to attract pollinators. but too much will clog up the pond and The single best thing you can do to attract destroy the delicate natural balance. Algae wildlife is to create a pond – this can be a will form if there is too much sunlight on major project if you have the time, money the pond, but cover in the form of floating and desire to do so, but it can also be plants can offer protection. In the autumn something as simple as an old sink or even fallen leaves can affect the Ph of the pond, an old washing up bowl sunk into the so gently remove excess algae and leaves ground. Even the smallest pond will be a and lay them on the side of the pond for a haven for wildlife including birds, bees, few hours to allow insects to get back into and butterflies who will fly in for a drink the water. on a hot day, and if you’re lucky bats and If you are concerned about children or hedgehogs may pay an evening visit. In a family pets getting into the water, consider well-balanced pond the very water itself is covering the pond with a wire grid, which teeming with wildlife, much of which you will keep children and pets out but allow can’t even see, providing food for larger predators up to the size your pond access for frogs. Don’t use netting as animals may get caught up in this. can support. compost and enriching the soil without us lifting a finger.

If you create the correct conditions and environment in your pond you will be amazed at how quickly insects will colonise it – as if coming from nowhere! The ideal pond will be about 2m x 2m and about 60cm deep, to allow frogs to

Midwinter is a tough time for garden birds – they need more food to generate energy to keep warm and much of their regular food may not be available. A supply of high-energy treats will help them thrive through these chilly weeks.

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free time

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An early crocodilian hunting in a swampy late Jurassic lagoon, with a large sauropod dinosaur in the background and a flock of pterosaurs overhead

Life in the Rocks

By Mik

e Geo r ge

Mike George is our regular contributor on wildlife and the countryside in France. He is a geologist and naturalist, living in the Jurassic area of the Charente



and consider the geology of the area we ll but the largest animals are all love. hibernating, sleeping deeply or just keeping their heads down. The birds are The sedimentary rocks visible in the area getting by with, I hope, a little help from of Charente and Charente Maritime are their friends (that’s you). Any selfmostly Jurassic and Cretaceous in age. respecting insect will be Once I would have had to in a deep torpor in a North Aquitaine was a explain that statement, but quiet, cool corner where since Stephen Spielberg’s desert-like basin it will not be disturbed, or film, and then the World between the Armorican seeing out the winter in Heritage status given to one of its less vulnerable and Massif Central England’s “Jurassic” Coast of development stages (egg, mountain-blocks Devon/Dorset, everyone overwintering larva knows all about the Jurassic or chrysalis). period! The fact that hardly any of the dinosaurs in the film existed in the So let us take this opportunity to look at Jurassic period (they were nearly all from what lies underneath all the visible nature,

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the Cretaceous period, the next one after the Jurassic), and that the Jurassic coast also includes the periods either side of it, the Upper Triassic and the Cretaceous, is not given a lot of publicity. The Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks were laid down in a warm shallow sea not unlike the Caribbean of today. However, the sea’s level changed quite markedly throughout the period. During the Triassic period, which preceded the Jurassic and was notably very warm, North Aquitaine was a desert-like basin between the Armorican and Massif Central mountainblocks, and consisted of a floor of ancient, crystalline rock. At the start of the Jurassic


Monolophosaurus, a predatory dinosaur from the Jurassic, ranging the edge of a swamp, with large Rhamphorinchid pterosaurs flying overhead

the seas inundated this basin, but fairly totally, leaving the area a mass of swamps and bayous and wide rivers, very similar to shallowly, forming a lagoonal sea parts of the modern US east coast. somewhat like the modern Caribbean Sea. Through these walked giant dinosaurs Sediment, in the form of sand and clay, (and their smaller cousins), among lurking streamed off the decaying Massifs and into crocodile ancestors, and their remains are this sea. The water teemed with life, with occasionally found in our rocks, but these microscopic algae of course but also are usually unearthed in the course of single-celled animals that drew the quarrying or agricultural activities. calcium from the seawater, and combined it with carbon dioxide from the air to More common than the remains of produce a rigid skeleton. When these vertebrate animals, and the things you are microscopic creatures died, their skeletons likeliest to find, are the remains of shellrained down to form a limy ooze on the bearing invertebrates. Lamp-shells sea-bed. This slowly (technically brachiopods) are built up, and slight very common, and can often be One good place to find seen in the rocks that now form changes in conditions gave rise to different a specimen is in the walls. Builders in earlier times types of ooze. The hard seemed to like using rock full of face of a limestone parts of larger dead lamp-shells to make house wallflagstone on a floor animals fell to the features like the drains of old bottom of the sea and sinks, and windowsills. Also fairly were rapidly buried in the ooze, and common are ammonite remains. These consequently many traces of life lie relatives of the squid had spiral shells, and preserved in the rock that was formed these are often to be found in fields or seen when the ooze was buried and turned as a frankly decorative item built into a to stone. wall - many older buildings have one. Gradually the sea-floor sank under its new Occasionally you may find the remains of sediment load, and the unyielding another creature even more closely related crystalline rocks were forced to crack and to the squid - the belemnite. This is a fracture to accommodate the flexures bullet-shaped shell which, if seen in involved. It is these fractures, that lengthwise section, has a pointed front end remained weaknesses and lines of activity and a conical depression in the rear end. throughout the rest of geological history, Large ones can be 10 cm or more in length. that have shaped the area and led to the They formed the inner strengthening of a earthquakes that we still experience today. squid-like animal. In the present-day (See my article in the August 2023 edition squid, this function is performed by the of the magazine.) cartilaginous quill that you have to take out before cooking. The sea remained fairly shallow throughout, with occasional variations of One good place to find a specimen is in the depth giving rise to variations in the face of a limestone flagstone on a floor. nature of the sediments. For some Churches often feature one or more of protracted periods the sea retreated these, and you can recognise the geologists

in such a church; they are the ones looking at the floor! A word of warning. Outside of churches, the best fossil specimens are usually to be found in quarry walls or fresh roadcuttings, but do not take the risk of looking there! These exposures are often unstable, and hammering or digging for fossils can cause rock-falls; I can tell you from experience that to be caught in a rock-fall is very nasty, and can be fatal (I was lucky). Look for your fossils in rock-strewn fields or waste tips (with the farmer’s or landowner’s permission). Your own garden is a good place to start. Stone walls are another good place to find fossils, but again it is heavily frownedupon to remove specimens, as it tends to weaken the wall, and technically the fossil already belongs to whoever owns the wall. A good book to help in identifying fossils is “Fossiles de la Préhistoire charentaise”, by Didier Néraudeau and Romaine Vullo with paintings by Mazan and many photographs of specimens, published by Le Croît Vif. For those who read French well, this book is also a good basic guide to the geology of the region. Also please don’t forget “Curiosités géologiques en Poitou, Deux Sèvres et Vienne”, by JeanChristophe Andru et Marc Couturier, which I told you about in December 2022. For a general look at fossils, “Guide des Fossiles” by Frank Rudulph is useful. If you want to follow-up the prehistory of our region, there is a book called “Dinosaures, les géants du vignoble” by Ronan Allain, illustrated (quite amusingly) by Mazan. It is in French, but is not too challenging a read, and summarises the geological history well.

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Masked Bandits

Three young raccoons peering

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A raccoon grooming itself, showing the agile hands to good advantage


By Mik

hey are so-o-o cute! I have always liked raccoons. These charming but exasperating animals are native to the Americas, and live in woodland and forest environments, although, like the fox in Britain, some are becoming urbanised. You all know the raccoon, though you may never have seen one in the wild. It is a quadruped mammal the size of a large cat, greyish with a white face bearing a black eye-mask and a long, bushy tail with prominent rings. The name is a corruption of the Powhatan Indian aroughcun, a name meaning, “Animal that scratches with its hands”. This is a reference to the mobile, delicatelooking front paws of the creature, which seem to be (and, indeed, are) very dextrous. I encountered wild raccoons in Florida. My wife and I stayed with friends who lived on a wooded, riverside property there, and one night the garden filled with a troop of raccoons. My wife went out to feed them, well-armed with nutritious

biscuits. My friend’s wife was afraid they would bite her and give her rabies, but of course they all sat around, held out their supple paws, accepted the treats and ate them daintily. Only the next morning did we find that they had thanked us by pulling up all Frank’s carefully-planted bulbs. My wife and I spent a consciencestricken half-hour re-planting them!

e Geo r ge

Mike George is our regular contributor on wildlife and the countryside in France. He is a geologist and naturalist, living in the Jurassic area of the Charente

In fact, the raccoon is not washing the food. Raccoons’ hands are very sensitive organs - much more so than most mammals, apart from primates - but their sensitivity is much What Is This Foodenhanced when they are washing Business? wet. The raccoon is using a It also explains the One characteristic of the water environment to raccoon is that it seems to French name for the increase the amount of like to wash its food creature, Raton laveur, information it can gain before it eats it. If it the little rat that washes about what it is planning happens on a tasty to eat. If no water is morsel, and there is readily available, it will running water nearby, gather the best information it can, the raccoon will paddle in the water and unwetted, and just eat the food. diligently dabble its find before eating it. Raccoons and Fashion This is reflected in its Linnaean name, Procyon lotor, which means, “dog-like The name raccoon was soon shortened to creature that washes things”. It also “Coon”, and the trappers and mountainexplains the French name for the creature, men of the 18th century discovered that Raton laveur, the little rat that washes. the skin of a raccoon was just the right size

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angling Young raccoons showing their trademark agility. Their tails will be very bushy in due course

to be fashioned into a sort of useful skullcap. It became their habit to leave the masked face on the front, and the bushy tail hanging down the back. It is recorded that Daniel Boon, though he is often associated with the fashion, actually disliked the raccoon cap, and preferred a felt hat. Davy Crockett, however, is described by his daughter as setting out from home in 1836, on his fatal journey to The Alamo, wearing his “Coonskin cap”.

Davy Crockett, most of us fell about laughing at the ludicrously small coonskin cap he had perched on his noble head, although it was an authentic replica.

One raccoon craze that failed to make it across the Atlantic was the Raccoon Coat. In the 1920s, no well-to-do American collegian felt complete without a raccoonfur overcoat. To some extent it was necessary to keep him warm as he skidded about showing off to his “flapper” girlfriends in his Those of you with By this time quite a number Model T Ford. more years to your of raccoons, with the aid of Anticipating a new names than you care craze, German their clever front paws and to mention will furriers set up furremember the Davy their squirrel-like ability to farms and started Crockett craze of the climb, had escaped importing raccoons to mid-1950s. It took raise for their pelts. America, and even When the craze England, by storm. ended, the farms were closed, but by this Walt Disney released a brace of rather time quite a number of raccoons, with the forgettable films in 1955 and 1956 starring aid of their clever front paws and their Fess Parker as Davy Crockett. He was squirrel-like ability to climb, had escaped resplendent in coonskin cap, and every and set up home in the cool but otherwise boy-child I knew (including myself) felt habitable German forests. They bred and underdressed if he didn’t also have one. spread, although their numbers were They were totally unlike anything an fairly low. American woodsman would have recognised, and had no connection Raccoons in France whatsoever with raccoon fur. When the Now, perhaps, you realise the direction in epic film, “The Alamo” was released in which this article is going. A few weeks ago 1960, featuring the mighty John Wayne as

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Sam, our co-editor, who was on business near Metz, sent me a photograph he had taken, asking me if he could believe his eyes. It showed a very dead, road-killed, but fully identifiable raccoon. This was some 60km on the French side of the Franco/German border! In fact, I knew that the raccoon is classed as an invasive and potentially damaging alien species. In Europe, it has been included since 2016 in the list of Invasive Alien Species of Union concern (the Union list). This implies that, as of 2016, this species cannot be imported, bred, transported, commercialised, or intentionally released into the environment in the whole of the European Union. The next question was, why had I not included it in my article on invasive species earlier in the year? I had to admit that it had crossed my mind, but as I had never encountered anyone who had seen a raccoon in France, I had left it out for reasons of space. I am now making amends! So keep your eyes peeled. With global warming, animal conservation, and Dame Nature’s talent for exploiting niches, you may be feeding raccoons in your garden in Aquitaine before you know it.

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Orion Nebula


Night Sky

Claire Wardlaw, originally from Edinburgh, lives in the Charente with her husband. Since their move to France, Claire has become passionate about astronomy By Claire Wardlaw



e have much to anticipate in the world of Astronomy this year and January brings a number of highlights to get things started. You may be new to this world of Astronomy and you may also be anticipating a 'FIRST LIGHT' experience through a new piece of equipment. So a little word or two is offered here to help make these magical moments full of wonder as well as helping to inspire a sense of reality. The world of visual astronomy can be so very rewarding if we

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approach it with a preparedness to really look, and the longer we look, the more details we will see. One of the most obvious sights in the winter months is the Orion Constellation. Towards the centre of this very well defined area is found the 'Orion Nebula'. You can see what many typical 'astrophotography images' would look like after a bit of work processing. Now compare this to the second image which gives a very clear idea of what you could expect to see through a small

telescope. This is actually a detailed sketch of the region, something I also enjoy doing, and which helps you to observe far more details while out under the night sky. A few of the amazing winter sights you can start searching for just using your eyes are listed below. The Winter Triangle - this is a marker in the winter sky which is formed by the three bright stars, Betelguese, Procyon, and Sirius.

astronomy The Christmas Tree Cluster (included in the December issue!), NGC 2264 - this can be found just above and to the left of Betelguese and when clear can be seen with the naked eye as a small smudge of light.

A planisphere is an invaluable aid for stargazers looking to navigate the night sky

The Shoe-Buckle Cluster, M35 - look high above Orion and close to the two bright stars at the foot of Gemini (hence the 'Shoe-Buckle' name). Look for a large misty patch of light. M47 - a loose cluster of around 50 stars above and to the left of Sirius which covers about the same space in the sky as the Moon. The Little Beehive Cluster, M41 always very close to the tree line and below Sirius, this is a very pretty sight through binoculars or a small telescope. The Dog Star, Sirius - the brightest star in the night sky towards the left and below the belt of Orion. The atmosphere of the earth makes the view of this star sparkle and display many stunning colours. *Don't miss next month's issue to find out details of a few more of the best binocular or small telescope targets* If you want to get started in astrophotography, then photographing the Milky Way in winter is one way to start. You will need a little equipment for this project. For even more details and astrophotography tips, visit graphy. If you have a digital SLR camera you can make a start. You will also need a tripod or something called a tracking mount to help to keep the stars sharp while imaging. To pick up the very faint light from the Milky Way in the winter you will need to use a wide angle lens, something like perhaps a 14mm or even 24mm wide lens. Then set it to take a number of shots which keep the stars sharp. Set the ISO (a numerical value for sensitivity to light) to something like 800 or higher while not over exposing your shots to light pollution. Point the camera towards the Orion constellation and move the lens towards the left. Having collected a number of images these can be stacked together to improve the details in the final image. Moon Phases and Observing Highlights Third Quarter Moon Phase: 4th January at 04h30 New Moon Phase: 11th January at 12h57 First Quarter Phase: 18th January at 04h52 Full Moon Phase: 25th January at 18h54 For the beginner, the view of many details on the Moon is a spectacular place to start. If you look up at the Moon throughout the month you will be able to observe the

changing phases, rise and set times, and of course, you will be able to observe the Moon in daylight hours too! With binoculars or a small telescope you will be able to spot a few of the most prominent features on the Moon's surface. Amongst the most obvious, and found in the northwest region of the Moon, are the large craters of Kepler, Copernicus, and Plato. With the naked eye you may be able to identify the darker areas, or seas, of 'Mare Serenitatis' (The Sea of Serenity), and 'Mare Tranquillitatis' (The Sea of Tranquility). The Planets this Month Mercury - rises at around 07h00 and is difficult to see this month Venus - is shining bright when it rises just before 06h00 Jupiter - a beautiful planet which is well positioned throughout the night this month Saturn - quite well positioned in the early hours of the evening, due south around 16h30

Moon nearby on the third so observing conditions are not the best. It will be easier to spot a meteor however if you let your eyes become adjusted to the dark for around 30 minutes in advance. Astronomy Jargon Buster: A Planisphere This very simple, very inexpensive astronomy resource is most definitely a great way to begin learning your way around the night sky, wherever you are. I began using a Planisphere many years ago, and despite the availability of so many applications for phones and computers, I return to this again and again to search for objects in my sky. It is simply two pieces of circular card or plastic which can be aligned to the specific date and time when you are observing. With your direction noted and lined up to the small map displayed on the planisphere, place it above your head. You can see where the various constellations are positioned throughout an observing session or plan in advance what you could be searching for before heading outdoors.

Uranus and Neptune even - with a good telescope these planets are not well placed for observing. Meteor Showers; The Quadrantids We start this year with a meteor shower which will be most active on the night of the 3rd January. These meteors are named after the constellation of Quadrans Muralis with only one week of activity. The radiant of these meteors will seem to be from the constellation of Bootes. The meteors are of medium speed and often blue and yellow in colour. After midnight on the 3rd, the constellation of Bootes can be found rising in the north east with the tip of the 'pan handle' in Ursa Major just above. There will be a fairly bright gibbous

During 2024 NASA plans to launch the Artemis 2 mission on the Space Launch System, sending astronauts around the Moon on a ten-day lunar flyby. NASA also plans to launch the Europa Clipper in October, which will study the Jovian moon Europa while in orbit around Jupiter.

etcetera 47

home and specialist

Can You Burn Pine Logs in Your Woodburner?

By Kristia Jennings n

Kristian of Jennings Chimney Sweeping specialises in Chimney problem diagnosis and is a member of the Guild of Master Chimney Sweeps



he belief that burning pine wood is a cardinal sin in the world of wood heating. For years, we’ve been cautioned against igniting fragrant pine logs due to warnings of creosote/tar buildup, chimney fires, and a myriad of other potential disasters. But is this warning rooted in fact or mere fireplace folklore?

Indeed, it is the sappy nature of these woods that causes conifer trees to spit but it is not the fault of the wood itself that the chimney was primed to go up in flames.

Many of the misconceptions of pine and other softwoods come from a time before the prevalence of the wood stove. Old large open fireplaces retain a maximum When you burn wood, around 80% of the efficiency of around 15%, meaning a good heat energy stored in the wood comes from deal of these volatile gases were not able to the wood gases/smoke, known as volatile ‘burn off’ before they escaped up the hydrocarbons. This includes all the tars, chimney as vapours. With pine having creosote, and resins in the wood and when higher concentrations of resins to cool and you see flames coming off the wood, it is condense in the chimney, it is clear to see these gases you can see burning. If the fire why pine was seen as a wood which would is not burning hot enough, these fuel ‘tar up’ the chimney. Oak and other vapours are still given off from the wood, hardwoods would too lead to the same but rather than issue but pine was combusting and releasing certainly the fastest route the heat energy stored there. Combine this with Burning softwoods is a inside them, they instead the act of constant very common practice escape into the chimney, ‘spitting’ from the soft up in Scandinavia where they cool and wood and the perfectly condense as creosote, tarred-up chimneys, with clinging to the walls of no baffle plate to protect the chimney and inevitably ‘tarring up’ the flammables in the flue, it is easy to the flue. understand how a chimney could catch alight and why pine obtained the Pine, just like any other wood, has saps and reputation it retains today. resins aplenty hidden in its fibrous trunk. The only real differences between a Fast forward to today and even the least softwood and hardwood, at least for wood efficient stoves on the market retain an burning purposes, are the densities of said efficiency of around 60%. All of a sudden woods and the percentage these we are able to control and combust these compounds make-up of the wood volatile gases remarkably more efficiently, structure. Oak and ash too have these same adding only a fraction of these compounds saps and resins, it is merely the to the chimney. The additional benefit we concentration of these compounds have with modern day chimney systems is that changes. the introduction of stainless-steel liners. So why does pine retain such a bad rep when it comes to choosing the best firewood? Well, many stories have been passed down through generations of remarkable chimney fires sparked from the ‘pop’ of a pine log and a stray ember flying up the flue and setting the chimney ablaze.

48 etcetera

These volatile gases condense below 125 °C meaning that if we can keep the chimney hot enough to allow these gases to remain in their gaseous state, they won’t condense on the walls of the chimney and will instead exit the top of the flue, a much easier task for a 150mm stainless steel liner

over the large empty void of an old stone chimney. Now if you choose to burn pine on your wood stove, please make sure that your wood is as equally seasoned as the oak or other hardwoods you usually burn. Wood fuel should never go anywhere near a stove if it retains a moisture content above 20% but ideally, the closer to 10% you can get, the more efficiency you can expect from your wood. Use a moisture meter testing a freshly split edge to check this. Burning wet wood is another equally rapid way to introduce tar into your chimney. It is not the moisture itself that causes the tar but any humidity must first be evaporated and sent out the chimney which steals the heat from the system and often drops the flue gas temperature below that ever-soimportant 125°C point we discussed earlier. So why choose to burn pine? Well, there are some advantages. Firstly, it is often readily available and very affordable. For those who cut and season their own wood, pine will season much faster than a lot of other wood varieties. As softwoods are less dense than their hardwood counterparts, they ignite much easier and are perfect for use as kindling or on more mild nights where the intense heat of a dense oak log may be a little overkill. Not to mention that sappy woods like pine give off a lovely aroma which is a lovely benefit to an ambient evening in front of the flames. Don’t just take my word for it. Burning softwoods is a very common practice up in Scandinavia where they are of course incredibly competent at burning wood. With an abundance of pine and other softwoods available to them, it is common practice that softwoods will be burned in the autumn and spring and the denser seasoned hardwoods won’t make their way into the firebox until the colder, harsher

home and specialist winter months. You can find out all about this and much more, including information on wood splitting, storing, and burning in the ‘wood burning bible’, Lars Mytting’s Norwegian wood. Ultimately for most of us here in France, with good, well-seasoned oak firewood available to us at very good prices, the advantages of burning pine and other softwoods are not quite as appealing. With each log having a lower heat output, you will need to stack a larger amount of wood for a much lower amount of heat. The less dense wood will of course burn a lot faster, requiring you to refuel your stove more often. On top of this, pine tends to produce much more ash than other hardwoods, requiring more work to empty your ash pan and keep on top of your stove maintenance. So, to summarise: yes, you can burn pine logs in your wood stove if you would like to. The advantages of doing so are drastically reduced for where we live in rural France but if you follow the correct burning practices it will not lead to a build-up of tar in your liner. Make sure your wood is well seasoned and below 20% moisture content and that your fire burns nice and hot (you can use a stovepipe thermometer to check the flue gas temperature of your chimney). Consider mixing your softwoods with your hardwoods to prolong the burn time and heat output and of course, remember to get your chimney swept and checked by a professional chimney sweep regularly.

Ways to Recycle Your Christmas Tree ▪

If you have a garden, you can turn your tree into compost or run it through a shredder to make mulch.

Fallen needles can also be used as mulch. Placed at the base of plants such as hydrangeas and rhododendrons, the needles will retain freshness by limiting evaporation and will slow down the growth of weeds.

Although fir is not the best firewood, it can end up in the fireplace after drying. The needles are a good fire starter.

After 6 months of drying in the garden shed, barbecue owners can also burn their Christmas tree at a barbecue party! The cut branches will make a good ember with charcoal.

Bring your conifer to your local déchèterie where it will be recycled into compost, firewood or shredded. Collection points are sometimes organized in town to avoid the trip. Ask at your town hall for information!

Potted Christmas trees can be replanted in the garden to be used again the following year. Preferably plant the tree on a frost-free day and moisten the root ball well. The addition of potting soil is recommended.

If you don't have a garden and you have a Christmas tree in a root ball, you can always offer it to a landscaper who will place it in a plantation, to a neighbour or to a forest owner.

What about Christmas Trees? As the festive season comes to an end, if you are considering burning it in your fireplace, please head the following cautionary tale. While it is possible to safely burn pine and other conifer trees on your wood stoves, when it comes to Christmas trees, there are other things to consider. When we speak of burning pine logs, we are discussing just that, logs, from the trunk of the tree. Christmas trees however, at least the smaller ones we bring into our homes each Yuletide, are much, much thinner and thus we are actually discussing the burning of small sticks adorned with pine needles rather than the logs of pine as described in this article. These sticks and needles have a significantly larger surface area than that of pine logs which makes them much more flammable and presents potential dangers when combined with a woodburning system. These needles and twigs will dry out over the following months after the festive season (and faster too if you cut them up in advance) making them ready to burn, but with such a large surface area, the resulting symphony of sparks can be difficult to control, presenting obvious risks, particularly for open fires with no baffle plate to protect the flue from said sparks. It is therefore recommended that you don’t burn your Christmas tree on your fire unless you are prepared to get rid of it by burning just a few (3 or 4) hand-sized sprigs at a time and preferably, just as kindling.

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getting connected SATELLITE TV



ow, 2024 eh? Where does the time go? Existential questions aside, how are you all? I very much hope you had great Christmas and New Year celebrations. I know I did. Or maybe I didn’t? I’m writing this on the 25th November so these events are yet to pass. Have I just invented time travel? Take that, Elon! Anyway, I hope this finds you well and refreshed and ready to ignore those resolutions you know you’ll never stick to. That’s why I don't bother making

them. I’ll only let myself down. If, by the However, generic FTA receivers don’t do time you read this, you have lost BBC1 this. If ITV2 changes its broadcast because you have an old non-HD satellite frequency, your FTA receiver will simply box, the only way to get it back is to show the dreaded ‘no signal’ message purchase a new one that is HD compatible. because it doesn’t know which frequency This can be a Freesat ITV2 has moved to. This is when receiver, a Sky HD receiver Many people do not you’ll need to perform a channel (not Sky Q though realise that they scan. Your receiver should then that’s a whole different need to perform a scan every frequency in its matter) or even a generic memory and will usually find periodic ‘scan’ free-to-air receiver. any channels which have gone AWOL. There may be the odd Whilst on the subject of generic FTA instance when the frequency is not in your receivers, it’s apparent that many people receiver’s memory, but we can cross that do not realise that they need to perform a bridge when we come to it. periodic ‘scan’ to ensure they have the latest channel suite available to them. Freesat good, Freeview bad. Right, Satellite TV is broadcast across many move on. different frequencies and two different Please remember that I no longer cover polarities and these get changed for the same areas as I used to. I cover a 90 certain channels every now and again. A mins radius of 79240. Google Maps will Freesat box or Sky box should pick up help you with this. Just put in my postcode behind the scenes changes and you should never notice a loss of channels. and your address to see the distance.

4. Le 6 juin 1944, 5. 1789, 6. MariePARLEZ FRANÇAIS ANSWERS Clovis, Antoinette, 7. 11 novembre 1918, 8. La

- 1. Marseille, 2. Le Mont Blanc (dans les Alpes), 3. La Seine, 4. Le Brésil (Guyane française), 5. Les Pyrénées. - 1. le 14 juillet, 2. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité, 3. La Marseillaise, 4. Bleu, blanc, rouge, 5. Troyes, 6. Général Charles de Gaulle - 1. « Bonjour » means « Good morning » and « Bonsoir » means « Good evening », 2. Vous, 3. Hello ! How are you ?, 4. Verbe « peindre » au Présent : je peins, tu peins, il / elle / on peint, nous peignons, vous peignez, ils peignent, 5. Garer, se garer, stationner. 1. Louis XVI, 2. Jules Ferry, 3.

52 etcetera

Déclaration des Droits de l’Homme et du Citoyen, 9. Normandie, 10. Louis XIV 1. Avant un repas (before a meal), 2. Le goûter, 3. La galette des rois, 4. Un bol, 5. Se faire la bise 1. La bûche de Noël, 2. La viande est crue (the meat is raw), 3. Marseille, 4. La Bretagne, 5. A thousand leaves 1. Louis Vuitton, 2. Les Champs Élysées, 3. Chanel, 4. Pierre Bergé 1. Vanessa Paradis, 2. Serge Gainsbourg, 3. Daft Punk, 4. David Guetta, 5. Édith Piaf

1. La Tour Eiffel, 2. Notre-Dame de Paris, 3. La Promenade des Anglais, 4. La Croisette, 5. Le Sacré-Cœur, 6. Le Musée d’Orsay, 7. Le Palais de Versailles 1. Gustave Flaubert, 2. Georges Sand était une femme, 3. Victor Hugo, 4. Le Rouge et le Noir, 5. Le Petit Prince 1. A sweet white wine, 2. Dans le Sud-Ouest de la France en Occitanie, 3. Un Champagne, 4. Du Bourgogne (Burgundy), 5. Le Merlot 1. Omar Sy and François Cluzet, 2. Audrey Tautou, 3. Notre Dame de Paris, 4. Gabriel, 5. Dix pour Cent

getting connected




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5% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: A Climate class: A

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: E Climate class: B

10% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE: Not required

5% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: B Climate class: C





Pretty As A Picture



Ref: A22067 - 4-bedroom lake district charmer with garden and woodland. 8% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: E Climate class: E

Period Features Charente-Maritime

Character & Charm


Blank Canvas

€120,000 Deux-Sèvres

Snap it Up!

€77,000 Deux-Sèvres


Ref: A23586 - Charming house with views over the countryside.

Ref: A25524 - 2-bedroom house for renovation with large garden.

Ref: A25787 - Spacious 3-bedroom house with a 1-bedroom apartment.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller. Energy class: E Climate class: B

10% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE: N/A

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: E Climate class: F

Superb Renovation

Income Potential

Prime Location

€297,460 Charente

€141,700 Vienne

€369,000 Creuse


Ref: A10330 - Stunning 4-bedroom house with large garden.

Ref: A25504 - 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom detached cottage with garden.

Ref: A25591 - Magnificent 3-bedroom property renovated with care.

Ref: A05814 - Pretty 2-bedroom house with a 3-bedroom gîte.

7% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: E Climate class: E

9% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: D Climate class: B

Agency fees to be paid by the seller. DPE: In progress

6% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: G Climate class: C

We have helped 1000s of clients buy and sell property in France and have 8000+ properties listed on our website. If you are looking to sell, contact us for a free market appraisal.

The Leggett family welcomes you !

+33 (0)5 53 60 84 88 · ·

Information on the risks to which these properties are exposed is available on the Geohazards website: www.georisques


66 etcetera


appy Wishing you all a H

New Year

Let’s Get THIS Cosy WINTER

▪ Up to 14,000€* in Grants for Pellet Boilers and Solar Hot Water Systems *Dependent on revenue ▪ Installation of Pellet Stoves, Wood Burning Stoves and Boilers (Includes Guarantees, Maintenance and Repairs) ▪ French Brands = Products and Parts Are Readily Available ▪ Free Assessment of your Insulation, Double Glazing, Radiators ▪ English-speaking Service ~ All Paperwork Taken Care of ▪ Assurance Décennale (10-year Guarantee)

Alexander Lawrence Government Approved Installer

6 allée Edmond Malinvaud


Tel: 07 55 05 35 81

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