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Photograph by Jo Wilds


THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Welcome back to ’The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’. Issue 2. I am really pleased to be able to report that Issue 1 has been received very well. A big thank you to everyone for your feedback, comments and support. This magazine would not be possible without you. Contributions of events, things going on and your stories are all very important reading! Please keep them coming... you can send any information to me, long or short, for consideration by email: The website is working well and new online submissions are received daily. The online Business Directory also seems to be doing it’s job and hopefully will grow to be a very useful tool for everybody. Have a good April and Happy Easter to you all. Annual Subscription. If you would like to receive a copy of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’magazine by post each month, please complete this form and send to La Bartière, 79130 Secondigny. Please enclose a cheque to cover postage for the year. 24€ within France, 28€ to UK.

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Please make cheques payable to SARAH BERRY.

Emergency Numbers: 15 17 18 119 115 113 112

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<<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tél: 05 49 70 26 21. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Sarah Berry. Crédits photos: Jo Wilds, Sarah Berry et Impression: Imprimerie Jadault, 46 rue du Bocage-BP405, 79306 Courlay Cedex. Dépôt légal: Avril 2011 - Tirage: 2 000 exemplaires. 515 249 738 00011.


What’s On.............................................................................3 Take a break........................................................................5 Our Furry Friends................................................................6 The Great Outdoors.............................................................8 French Adventures............................................................10 French Life, Food & Drink................................................11 Health, Beauty & Fitness..................................................15 Getting Out & About..........................................................17 Building & Renovation.......................................................20 Communications.................................................................23 Business, Finance & Property..........................................25


Abord Immo (Estate Agent)...............................................27 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder)...........................................20 A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant & Auberge)..................... ....12 Allez Francais (Estate Agent)....................................... ....27 Andrew Longman (Plumber)..............................................20 Andy Melling (Artisan Joiner/Cabinet Maker)..................21 Animal Care .............................................................. ..........7 An English Nursery in France (Garden Centre).................8 Articulation Aide (Joint Aid for Dogs).................................7 Badger Inks (Printer consumables)........................... .......24 Cafe Cour du Miracle...................................................... ..11 Camping La Raudiere (Campsite & Bar).............................8 Chateau du Chat (Cattery)...................................................6 Cheval Paradis (Pension for horses).............................. ....7 Courlay Immobilier SARL (Estate Agent)..........................28 David Normanton (Handyman)........................................... .20 Dean Smalley (B&B and Gardening services)..................19 Diane Lowe (Reiki Healer)............................................... 15 Eurl Philip Storey Construction (Builder)..........................21 Gordon & Jocelyn Simms (Writers)......................................4 Hallmark Electronique (Electricians & Sat. Engineers)...24 Hound Motorcycle (Classic Motorcycle Shop)..................17 Imprimerie Jadault (Printer)............................................ 24 Indulgence Beauty............................................................... .15 Interface Consulting Engineering (IT)............................... .23 Jane Golding (Assistance in English)................................. .26 Jo Ashforth (Phoenix Cards)............................................... 19 John Etherington (Property Care)....................................... 26 Jon Burton (Electrician).................................................... 20 Kalyn Computers (IT).......................................................... 23 L.A. Building & Renovation................................................. 26 La Joie de Vivre (Gift Shop & Tea Room).......................... 19 Le Dragon (Bar/Restaurant)................................................ 14 Le Logis (Chambre d’hote)..................................................8 Limalonges Alpacas (Alpaca breeding and yarns)...............7 MS Electrique (Electrician)......................................... ......22 Mutuelle de Poitiers (Insurance)......................................... 19 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology)............................. .15 Paperback Jan (Books in English)........................................ 19 Peter Hardie (Mini Digger hire)........................................20 Philip Irving (Mini Digger hire)............................................ 22 Poitou Property Services............................................. .....26 Premier Autos (Mechanic).............................................. ..17 QPR Building Services........................................................22 R&B Construction................................................................ 21 RDK Roofing & Building Services......................................20 Red White & Blue (English groceries)................................ 13 Restaurant La Bergerie du Golf.......................................... 11 Rob Berry (Plasterer)........................................................22 Rysz Dor-Vincent (Yoga)..................................................15 Sandy G (Hairdresser)......................................................... .16 Sarah Berry (Website Design)............................................. 23 Shiatsu79 (Holistic Therapy)............................................. .16 Siddalls (Financial Advisors)..............................................26 (Chambre D’Hotes).............................. 16 Spice Sensations (Spice kits)........................................... 11 Steve Coupland (Plumber and Renovations).....................22 Sue Burgess (French courses & Translation).................... ..4 Total Renovation Services.................................................. 21 Trisha (mobile Hairdresser)..................................... ........15 UK Building Materials................................................. ......22 VG Consultants (Consultancy Services)............................ .26 Woodworks France sarl (Solid wood flooring).................. .21

© Sarah Berry 2011. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Sarah Berry accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with are a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere.

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What’s On....April 2011 1st April. Maillé Cricket Club Quiz & Supper. 7pm at Domaine de La Frouadiere,Cezais, 85410. Tel: 02 51 00 48 92 or 02 51 50 43 49. 1st & 2nd April - ‘Blithe Spirit’ by Reaction Theatre. Secondigny. 2nd April - Spring Dance. In aid of All Saints Vendée. From 7.30pm at Salle Municipale, St Maurice Le Girard. Music by The French Connection. Tel: Jenny 02 51 51 23 62 2nd April. Hope Association Spring Book Sale. 10am-3pm at La Ferme du Javarzay, Chef Boutonne, 79110 Thousands of books at €1 or less, light refreshments available, or lunch at nearby Restaurant. Plenty of Parking. 9th April. Easter Fayre. 11-4pm at A La Bonne Vie Restaurant, Le Beugnon, 79130. For more info please 17th April - International Day of the Dog - Dog Walk. In aid of Galgos del Sol, sponsored by ‘St.Pardoux pensions pour chiens’. 10.30am at Foyer Rural, St.Pardoux. Email 23rd April (Easter Sunday) - Market Day. 10am - 5pm: at ‘Au pont’, Gourgé. Tel: 09 61 59 77 94. 29th April - Quiz Night. 7.30pm at Salle d’Albotte, Bouillé-Loretz. In aid of Les Pattes de Velours assoc. Quiz, supper, drinks and raffle. Contact

29th April - The Royal Wedding! Prince William is to marry Miss Catherine Middleton. 11am at Westminster Abbey, London. Don’t miss it! Books in English, Paperback Jan. 1st April: Bar de la Paix, Thouars 12h-14h 1st April: Le Tipsy Bar, Coulonges-sur-L’Autize 16h-18h 4th April: Le Dragon Bar, Vernoux-en-Gatine. 14h-17h 5th April: Le Zinc, Vasles. 10.30h - 13h 6th April: Cafe Cour de Miracle, Vouvant. 14h-16.30h 7th April: Bar Le Palais, St. Aubin le Cloud. 14h-17h 7th April: Le Chaudron, Chantemerle. 18h-20h 8th April: Jan’s home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay,11h-16h 9th April: Le Chauray, St Maixent L’Ecole, 10h-14h 11th April: St Martins Bar & Rest, Brux. 11h-14h 13th April: Le Trois Marie, Airvault. 10h-13h 14th April: Bar le Commerce, La Chataigneraie. 14.30h-17h 28th April: La Joie de Vivre, Moncoutant, 14h-17h Thank you to

What’s coming up... 7th May - Charity Walk. In aid of ‘No Panic France’. 10km around St. Hermine. Tel: 09 79 67 65 14 Email: 7th to 14th May - The Silk Route. A residential poetry course Monmoreau-Saint-Cybard 16190, Contact Brenda on 05 53 52 07 95 or email: 8th May - Vide Grenier at La-Ferrière-en-Parthenay. 13th to 15th May - ‘The Magic of the Musicals’ by Encore Theatre Company. Church Notices: Escoval. Anglican church in Arçay. Church service in English 3rd Sunday of each month at 11.30am. Join us for a bring and share lunch after the service. Chaplency Choir, 21st April at 7pm. Genouille Church. All Saints Vendée, Puy de Serre. Services 2nd & 4th Sunday of the month.

Get iPlayer in France! Assign yourself a UK IP address by going to and you will be able to use BBC iPlayer to watch those TV programs you’ve missed. Not available for AppleMac.

New to the Deux-Sèvres? If you are new to the area, ‘The Pays de Gâtine's guide for newcomers’ may be a useful read. For information, advice and contacts, go to

Love Films? If you love a trip to the cinema, films are shown in English at Parthenay Cinema. For more information or to be kept up to date with screenings, email ...And don’t forget your popcorn!

International Dance Day - 29th April.

company, 123 Greetings, who are promoting International Dance Day e-cards.

Time to get on your dancing shoes and dance around the garden, or even down the street, to celebrate International Dance Day. The UNESCO International th Dance Committee held the first one on 29 April 1982, to commemorate the birthday of French ballet master JeanGeorge Noverre, considered the creator of the modern ballet. The intention is to increase awareness of the importance of dance among us all, as well as trying to persuade governments all over the world to put dance into the education curriculum, starting with primary school age.

David Cameron is reportedly an ambassador for an organisation called Club4Climate, advertising itself with the slogan ‘Make a Difference on the Dancefloor’. (It’s actually to promote awareness of climate change!). How about the ministers in the current UK government, particularly the appropriately named Ed Balls, joining up with the Rolling Stones to dance in Parliament Square, each carrying an e-card saying ‘Have a Happy International Dance Day’! Might make everyone smile in these times of recession and gloom. by Beryl Brennan.

Events include open-door courses, public rehearsals, dance exhibitions, radio and TV programmes, dance evenings and street shows, and organisers range from dance companies to amateur groups and schools. Even better, says UNESCO, is if a non-dance organisation joins in, such as a government agency, business enterprise or trade union. There’s even an on-line greetings card page 3


Brit Has Novel Published. Midlands author Glyn Pope has a novel published by Cactus Rain Publishing of Arizona America. Glyn was born in Leicester and lived there until 1972 and then worked in Devon before moving to France in 2007. ‘Living in France,’ says Glyn, ‘has meant that I’ve been able to devote myself full time to writing and I’ve produced a novel that I’m proud of.’ BBC Radio presenter Stephen Butt writes in a review ‘‘Rich in atmosphere and the colour of the time, all the characters in Glyn Pope's novel are alive. This is a true reflection of life in a certain suburb of Leicester in the English East Midlands, but the themes are universal. This could well be your neighbourhood facing the challenges of a changing world at the end of the 2nd World War. Enjoyable and challenging.”

young doctor quickly becomes the local miracle worker. However, when food poisoning strikes the estate residents, Doctor Latymer sets out to right injustices. He tangles with the Plutocrat, the Mendacious Minister for the British Government. He unravels the delicate balance between rich and poor, and the struggling economy still reliant on rationing and the black market. Doctor Latymer's story is written in authentic British English, adding to the richness that brings the local characters to life as the reader is whisked back to 1948 post-war Britain. The novel is available now at Download as a Kindle for under £4.00 or contact Glyn directly at / tel: 0549729445. Novel price:11,50€ inc postage.

Set in 1948 the novel tells the story of a young Doctor taking up his first position on a council estate in Leicester. Doctor Latymer arrives full of hope after dreadful experiences of the war settling into life on the estate. The

Happy Reading!

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2011:

• • • • • •

• • • •

Saturday 1 January: New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an) Sunday 24 April: Easter (Pâques) Monday 25 April: Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Sunday 1 May: Labour Day (Fête du Travail)

Help! There’s a Book Inside Me!

by Gordon Simms They say there’s a book in everyone. Statistically that may be an exaggeration, but there are many potential writers who never make a start on anything beyond shopping lists or diary entries. Well, publications have come from unlikely sources, even from sending and receiving amusing emails. In spite of advances such as Kindles and Ebooks, nothing beats the satisfaction of settling down with a book, turning the pages to enjoy its content and sensory appeal. However, thanks to technology editing and revision are easier than ever – indeed it is much easier to publish a book now than it ever has been. Jocelyn and I began writing workshops in 1997 for people seeking creativity and motivation. Our members have all since been published, including a young woman from America who joined us by saying, “The one thing I won’t

Glyn Pope, Author. Sunday 8 May: WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945) Thursday 2 June: Ascension (l’Ascencion Catholique) Sunday 12 June: Pentecost (Whit Sunday-la Pentecôte) Monday 13 June: Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Thursday 14 July: Bastille Day (Fête nationale) Monday 15 August: Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

• Tuesday 1 November: All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint) • Friday 11 November: Armistice Day (Jour d’Armistice 1918)

• Sunday 25 December: Christmas Day (Noël) be doing is writing poetry.” Her poems have subsequently appeared in half-a-dozen prestigious magazines. Not all that we do is necessarily about being published. Writing can also be great fun, exploratory and healing. The value of writing, and sharing it in a safe environment, is recognised by many, including those in the medical profession. Jocelyn facilitates therapeutic sessions for groups and individuals. The North Deux-Sèvres Writing Circle supports writers, professional and amateur, who share broad interests – plays, poetry, short stories, novels, autobiographies and non-fiction. On May 14th some members will lead seminars (see advert below) considering various aspects of writing, publishing and using computers to maximum effect. Perhaps you too can become an author. Why not come along to the Writers’ Convention Day, held at our beautiful riverside location, to find out more? Overnight accommodation is available if required but contact us as soon as possible as places are limited.

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« Poisson d'Avril » (April Fish).

by Sue Burgess Notice anyone laughing at you on 1st April? You probably had a paper fish stuck to your back. As in England, French youngsters and adults too for that matter, like to play practical jokes on April 1st. Children cut out paper fish and try to stick them on your back. A few years ago, a famous local «Poisson d'Avril» brought people rushing out to Place de la Brêche in Niort when the local rag published a photo of the square without its large old trees. Chocolate fish are very popular on the 1st April and «friture» (small chocolate fish) can be bought in most bakeries. Easter customs are a little different too. It's not the Easter rabbit who brings the Easter eggs but the church bells («Les cloches»). Tradition says that church bells fly off to Rome on Good Friday to be blessed and drop the chocolates in the garden as they fly back on Easter morning. Good Friday is NOT a bank holiday here. Easter Monday is. A great number of French people eat lamb on Easter Sunday with «mojettes» (white beans). Almost as important as Easter Sunday in the French Catholic Church calendar is «Rameaux» (Palm Sunday). The Passion is read before the church goers enter the church. Then the priest blesses the «rameaux» which are usually pieces of «buis» (a sort of box) with holy water. All

this means that Palm Sunday mass is rather a long affair. The “rameaux” are placed on the crucifix at home or taken to the cemetery and placed on a family tomb. In the North of the Deux-Sèvres, there is a special Easter cake («Gateau de Pâques»), a sort of soft shortbread pastry stuffed with prunes. And in Poitou Charentes, le pâté de Pâcques. A sort of meat pie with sausage meat and hard boiled eggs. Poisson d'Avril..........................

equivalent of April Fool

Les cloches...............................

Church Bells

Vendredi saint...........................

Good Friday

Dimanche de Pâques...............

Easter Sunday

En avril, ne te découvre pas d'un fil......................................... Don't take off any clothes during April, the equivalent of the English "Cast ne'er a cout till May is out" Fêter Pâques avant les rameaux.............................................. literally to celebrate Easter before Palm Sunday expression which means to be pregnant before marriage A Pâques ou à la Trinité............

some fine day

Noël au balcon, Pâques aux tisons......................................... Christmas on the balcony, Easter by the fireside. If it was nice at Christmas, it will be cold at Easter.

Take a break.... DSM Crossword#1



1. Alternatively cold circling planet. 5. Wrath, anger. 9. Expelled person. 10. Nimble, dexterous. 11. Acted amorously. 12. Rich cake. 15. Interfere with award. 16. Watched warily. 17. Back. 18. Easing of tension between nations. 21. Mrs Cotton! 22. Dying Station. 23. Owed feudal allegiance.

2. Quick, witty response. 3. Flip lightly. 4. Goad, provoke. 6. Pondered. 7. Intense grief. 8. Decoration. 12. Spanish method of execution by strangulation. 13. At any time. 14. High level ground. 15. Fully grown cheese! 18. Speakers platform. 19. Creep around the rim. 20. Inflammation of the eyelid.


Math problem.

Use three 6’s to make a 7... (Answers: page 22).

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Our Furry Friends... Minnie’s Tale!

by Christine Payne. Hello, my name is Minnie and I am a 17 year old tabby cat living in the department of Deux-Sèvres in France with Kate, my retired owner. This is an account of the journey down to France with Kate.

Pat & Steve Moon together with their daughter Rachel opened Chateau du Chat 2 years ago after numerous enquires from friends to look after their animals when they went away. All members of the family are very experienced in the care of dogs, cats and horses. Pat and Steve being both well respected Championship show judges in the UK and Europe and having owned, bred and shown Afghan Hounds for over 40 years. They have bred many champions and take great pride in their breeding and showing programme. Rachel has owned horses since she was 6 years old and has competed at all levels in the UK, currently having 3 horses with her in France. Chateau du Chat was purpose built to the highest standards after receiving all the necessary approvals from the DDVS (Veterinary authorities) and the Certificate of Capacity in animal care. Much pride is taken in the welfare of all of the cats in their care and a great amount of time is spent daily with each cat to make their stay a calm and happy one. The cattery is recommended by the majority of Veterinary Practices in the Deux-Sèvres and 50% of their customers are French who say they really appreciate this bright, clean modern well run cattery with outside facilities. Many of their customers travel over an hour to bring their cats to Chateau du Chat safe in the knowledge that their cats will be well looked after.

We are travelling to  a new  life  in the Deux-Sèvres. Peter  has to stay behind in England for a few more days, which means we are doing the journey on our own. I've had all my jabs and my papers are in order, so off we go! I am absolutely purr..fect, of course, having slept all the way on the ferry and am warm and cosy in my new travelling cage  in the back of the car. We arrive at Le Havre about 7pm French time and everything is fine until Le Mans. We  take the A28 as instructed by Peter, unfortunately, we are heading upwards instead of downwards and in completely the wrong direction!  I am trying to tell her this of course, but she just isn't listening. It is very late now and we can't get off the motorway for ages. By the time we are able to exit  we  are nearly in Tours, driving up through the Loire Valley. We get off the road with Kate having to pay 26 Euros for the privilege of getting lost and find the road to Saumur and off we go again.   We are getting very tired and I can tell Kate is not at all happy.   I am meowing as gently as I can to reassure her but she is beginning to panic. I have food, water and my own private loo (litter tray) and have tried to tell her that I am quite happy to share if she needs it! We  pass gypsy  campsites with fires blazing, (definitely not stopping for directions here), detour around closed and incomplete roadworks in the pitch black and as midnight approaches, Kate tells me we are getting low on petrol. Then, we are stopped by armed Gendarmes, who, once they look into the car and see this mad, starving English woman and me meowing in the back, decide to let us pass very quickly! Finally, after several (illegal) mobile phone calls for moral support and directions, we arrive at Peter's house at about 1.45 am. Peter  has provided Kate with an electronic zapper which  is supposed to light up the car port.   (You notice the use of the word 'supposed').  Of course  the zapper doesn't work, then the door handle breaks off  before she gets the key in the lock! She finally manages to get in and thank goodness, we are home at last. What an adventure...nobody else seems to have this much excitement!   The next morning the sun is shining.  It is a new day and the beginning of a new life for the both of us.  I now have to meet the rest of the family and I am sure there will be more adventures to follow!

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ZEN - A gentle giant seeks a home for life. Zen is a gentle giant of 10-12 months who despite his size, gets on well with other dogs and is non Alpha. Zen was first found abandoned and with a self-healed broken leg, which the Vet was pleased to leave well alone. Zen was then adopted by an English couple but sadly due to health reasons they feel they cannot keep him. Zen is a big baby at heart and not jealous, he gets on with other dogs and just wants a “home for life”. Zen is tattooed  (GKV148) and vaccinated, he will be micro-chipped and castrated. For further details contact: Siobain on 05 49 27 26 20. The Hope Association-Email:

The Hope Association, based in Deux-Sèvres was formed in the autumn of 2009 in response to the enormous and increasing need to help local abandoned and needy cats and dogs. Volunteers are always needed to help. 17th April 2011. To celebrate International Day of the Dog 2011, a dog walk has been organized around the picturesque lanes and tracks of St Pardoux to raise much needed funds for Galgos del Sol ( which rescues abandoned Spanish greyhounds (galgos) and rehomes them abroad.

HOOF (Horse Orientated Open Forum) A group of like-minded Brits with an interest in anything equestrian who meet on average once per month, held at various locations mainly in North Deux-Sèvres or Vendée area. If you are interested in joining us in some adventures, ring Jo Rowe on 05 49 64 22 67 email:

For more info email Beryl Brennan:

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The Great Outdoors... The Amateur Gardener by Vanda Lawrence

Busy Bee Corner by Mick Lawrence

Sarcococca confusa (aka Sweet Box) has given us so much pleasure this winter - just a small shrub still, but amazing fragrance from the tiny white flowers and we still have the black berries to follow. Ours is in quite a sunny spot near the front door to make the most of the perfume, but it will thrive in shade.

Today, I have returned from my first bee-keeping lesson in Soudan, near St Maixent L'Ecole. The course in Parthenay was full so APIVAL sourced this course for me. I attended with 17 other keen bee-keeping 'debutantes'.

So, now that the weather (and soil) is warming, here are some jobs to do in the garden this month:1.

Plant tubers of Jerusalem Artichoke (Topinambour) from March - mid April. As well as being edible and used as a root vegetable, these tubers will provide a temporary flowering screen approximately 5ft high. 2. Weed strawberry beds this month and give the plants a good feed. Dress the soil under and around the plants with straw to deter slugs and snails. 3. Cut back hardy Fuchsias, practically to ground level. This will encourage the new, strong shoots to grow. 4. Plant shrubs, perennials and rock plants. 5. Prune Forsythia when it has finished flowering. 6. Dahlias can be planted out this month. Protect new shoots from late frosts. 7. Divide and replace congested perennials. 8. Scatter slug pellets to deter slugs and snails from your Hostas and Irises. 9. Weed rose beds and mulch with manure/garden compost/moist peat to help keep the soil moist. 10. Mow, scarify, weed and feed the lawn. If you are planning a new lawn, now is the time to sow seed or lay turf. 11. Control weeds around bush and cane fruits. Feed and add mulch to retain moisture and deter new weeds. 12. Remove rhubarb flowers as soon as they are seen. Have a cuppa - you deserve it!!

We were shown a variety of hives, including the 'Langstroth' and 'Dadant'. It is the ‘Dadant’ that is most widely used throughout France & Spain and is the variety that I had already bought and painted. The hive should be placed facing South on concrete blocks with, if possible, an evergreen hedge 2 metres in front. This makes the bees fly high, thus avoiding passers-by and also protecting the hive from prevailing winds. If a secondhand wooden beehive is purchased, it is essential to run a blow-torch over the inside to scorch and thoroughly cleanse the hive to eradicate any disease. The tutor also explained that if you keep bees on your property, it is compulsory to show a warning sign at the entrance to ensure that people are aware that bee hives are located there. I’m unaware at present if I also need to hold a license for bees. I’ll await that information from the bee-keeping tutor in future lessons. I’ll be sure to keep you updated! I hope to have information about the arrival of my ordered swarm before next month's magazine.... April/May is usually the time for bees to swarm. Their favourite places to go are between the window and the shutters, or hang from trees or up chimneys. Most are discovered when people arrive to their holiday home for the summer season. If you see a swarm, or think you have one please do not destroy it but let us try to collect it. Please contact Mike or Keenan Dominey 0549077879 or 0669676706 - Diploma Apiculteurs.

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Snakes of Western France. The Whip Snake (Couleuvre verte et jaune). Snakes are a much maligned and misunderstood group of reptiles. Many people fear and loathe them and will attempt to kill them on sight, often because they believe all snakes to be venomous or at least dangerous. Many species are indeed capable of delivering a venomous bite but they represent a small percentage of the world’s species (less than 20% and even fewer truly dangerous species). In western France, the snake you are most likely to come across is the whip snake (Hierophis viridiflavus) a species that can reach nearly two metres in length. Most individuals have a greenish-yellow ground colour but with black or dark green crossbars. The young snakes look rather different and are somewhat uniform olive or dark grey but with a bold head pattern (see photographs below). Whip snakes are harmless, nonvenomous species that frequently secure prey – mostly lizards and small mammals, by constriction, wrapping around the prey animal until it suffocates. Found in many different habitats, whip snakes forage over a large area, sometimes more than two kilometres radius from the winter hibernation site. The hibernation period is from around early November until March/April. After emergence they have a pre-mating period until mid-May followed by a mating period that lasts until June. You may see males fighting over females at this time - it is one of the few snake species that displays male combat behaviour. Females lay between four and fifteen eggs in the ground that hatch in late summer and after emergence (around the end of August) the hatchlings quickly disperse to find their own territory. This is also the time when hatchlings may turn up in gardens but in the adults it can be anytime between late May and September.

Whip snakes are sun-loving snakes that can be seen basking on woodland edges or below hedgerows, which are often used as a corridor for movement. They select higher body temperatures than other French species – up to 35˚C, and as a consequence can move very quickly; higher body temperatures increase muscular energy and speed of movement and are adaptive for securing fast moving prey and escaping predators. The wide-ranging foraging strategy they employ enables contact with more prey species but costs more energy and increases the probability of encountering predators – and people. In contrast, a sedentary hunting strategy – a `sit-and-wait predator`, because of limited activity is the reason numerous species, are less likely to be seen. An example is the aspic viper that mostly lives in woodland with a limited home range (around 1000m2 - 2000m2). This reduces the likelihood of contact with people since any movement is over a smaller area. Waiting for a prey animal to come to you is a very economical way of living. It allows an adult viper to subsist on between six and eight rodents or other small animals per year; whip snakes need at least three times this amount during the same period to sustain the foraging lifestyle. Whip snakes have many predators including birds of prey, foxes, wild boar and domestic dogs and cats. It is a shy and nervous species that avoids confrontation with people and will quickly disappear into vegetation if discovered, but will bite if handled or cornered. The western whip snake is one of Europe’s best-studied species and we now have lots of information concerning its biology and ecology – mainly from the efforts of French and Italian researchers. They play a key role as an environmental indicator and because they are a major predator on rodents, have economic benefits. by Roger Meek.

Adult (left) and juvenile whip snakes are very different in appearance. The change to adult colouration takes place at an age of around four years. Large adults may live to more than ten years. These individuals were caught in the Vendée, near the village of Saint-Denis-du-Payré. They were later released in the area they were found.

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French Adventures... Some eat to live - I live to eat. In fact most mornings, my waking thoughts are appreciative mutterings of the repas of the night before. It cannot be said that I am a food snob - a beautiful juicy burger (or kebab) fulfills the senses as much as a menu gastronomique may. But, it does however, have to be made with love - whatever it is, from the most humble to the most spectacular, you have to taste the love. So, having lived in France for 9 years and having been lucky enough to enjoy many meals eaten out, I have experienced varying scales of gastronomy and indeed, love. Having moved to France as a family, with 2 girls aged 11 & 13, we left behind the 24hr 7/7 culture where you could have anything at any time for well, a culture shock, really. Bars and restaurants closed on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays, Easter, Christmas, and sometimes Thursdays! Seemingly missed opportunities to us, but obviously family times for seasoned owners. Then of course, there is lunchtime 12-2, if you don't have breakfast until 10.30 or 11am how are you going to manage the 3 courses at midday? This is where the Buffalo Grill wins hands down, that large red roof beckoning all hours of the day. Usually, by the time we made it out, we had missed the lunchtime crush and had the place to ourselves. Brilliant! Fantastic service, salad as you are seated, the menu is on the placemat, and aperitifs with salted popcorn arrive in a flash - and there is something for everyone to enjoy, even vegetarians. I often hear folks complaining of the lack of restaurants, or good ones - not so here in Melle. We have the fabulous L'Argentiere restaurant with a most charming and all seeing owner and the hotel Glycines in the centre of Melle. Both have fantastic chefs who really do care what leaves their kitchen and have a good team at the front of house. 10/10 on the love scale. Further afield we have also had memorable (for all of the right reasons) eating experiences. La Rouelle in Angouleme, Chez Paul is fine but La Rouelle is truly the hidden gem in Angoulemes' restaurant quarter, sublime. In La Rochelle, conveniently situated in the Old Port, Andre’s - each room a cavern of treasure and the food?  Seared tuna and foie gras, scallops, skate, all cooked to perfection. Over the bridge on the Île de Ré, St Martin, naturally, there is the wonderful Le Belem. The staff are so friendly and the sheer enjoyment of the platter of the Fruit de Mer in the picturesque setting of the harbour. Paris, of course, lobster thermidore on a restaurant terrasse in the Champs Elysee for my daughters 18th birthday, seafood risotto at Chai 33 in Bercy Village and nearer to home a recent trip to Poitiers, the superb Vingelique. All of these and more over the years have expanded my experiences, my horizons and not to mention, my waistline!

dishes. Top of my 'miss most' list was curry. I missed not being able to call for a take away or pop in for a treat, which led me to discover the joy and diversity of this wonderful word and wonderful cuisine. My better half is a firm Pat Chapman fan, using a combination of homemade curry sauce and curry paste to create a variety of delicious dishes. I chose the 'start from scratch route' carefully measuring, roasting and grinding those heavenly spices to re-create authentic Indian dishes with more than a little help from Madhur Jaffries. Not something to be rushed but well worth the time, effort and yes, the love. But, after years of tweaking, perfecting and expanding my repertoire of satisfactory dishes, my spice cupboard has remained firmly closed since about May last year. I have turned my passion for food and all things spicy into a business. I stumbled across a foolproof way to produce delicious dishes without the hassle of sourcing and measuring spices. The answer lay not in a jar but in a Spice Kit. The Spice Kit contains carefully and expertly measured blends of Spices to create really authentic dishes, each kit serves 4-6 people and comes with Step by Step instructions on how to create the perfect dish. I wish I could claim the glory for creating these exceptional blends, but I am the mere importer. The range includes restaurant quality Tikka and Tandoori marinades, Indonesian, Goan and South African specialties. The beauty, apart from the fact that the measuring part is done for you, is that the spices are sealed in layers and stay fresh and aromatic. I have a number of jars of Spices in my drawer that are well out of date, although not harmful, do not produce the best result! Now I am out and about, meeting people and talking about what I love the most - food. I offer free tastings of the finished dishes at various events across the region and I also take bookings for private parties - along the lines of a Tupperware evening. The kits are available to order online and can be posted anywhere in the world. The recipes are in both French and English and although the French do think they are the best cooks in the world, they are coming around to enjoying cuisines from further afield! If you would like to book a Spice Sensations tasting just call me on 0549 29 32 50 or e-mail: Or order kits online:

As well as enjoying eating out, I enjoy cooking. I love the feeling of creating something for my friends and family, not for the praise, but the whole convivial experience in creating memories, good times. My style of cooking has really evolved since living in France, whilst embracing some local delicacies but certainly not embracing others (andouilettes!), I have learnt to cook dishes that I would never have thought of had I stayed in England. Without access to such diverse cuisines, I learnt to cook Morrocan, Greek, Thai, Indonesian, Chinese and Indian page 10


French Life, Food & Drink... Le Shopping – an open and shut case. by Anne-Marie LEQUEUX and Wendy WISE. Spring is nearly sprung and along with the daffodils comes this year’s crop of jours fériés or public holidays. Those of us from countries where the 24/7 culture has taken hold have trouble getting to grips with all this and throughout the land the cry of “Will the shops be open?” will soon be heard. If you’re newly arrived in France, you may not know that commerce is subject to strict legislation. Most workers are not allowed to work on Sundays, so the shops are shut. In areas popular with tourists, these rules do not apply and shopkeepers, particularly those with few employees, can open when they like. Big supermarkets and hypermarkets are only allowed to open for a few Sundays and public holidays each year and must get special permission to do so. Small local supermarkets who stock mainly food items are allowed to open on Sunday mornings. Decisions on these matters are taken by local Mairies which explains variations from one commune to another. Then there’s Les Soldes, The Sales! Shopkeepers are allowed to choose any two weeks to hold a sale providing they are not within a month of the Soldes Fixes or fixed sales. The winter sales, first of the Soldes Fixes, all begin on the second Wednesday of January and the summer sales on the last Wednesday in June. Again, the lure of the tourist Euro means that these rules are relaxed in some areas and the sales can start a bit later, but whenever they start, sale periods must not exceed five weeks. This is why there no branches of DFS in France! If a shopkeeper wants to close his shop, for refurbishment or even permanently, he must get special permission from the Mairie, if he wants to sell off his stock outside the set sales periods. Are you with me so far? Well, back to public holidays: Vendredi Saint or Good Friday is not a public holiday in France and so everyone will be working, won’t they? No, if you were planning a meal out you’d better check because you might find your favourite restaurant closed. Good Friday being un jour de jeûne, a day of fasting, in the catholic religion many restaurants will close or at least take meat off the menu and replace it with fish. Le Lundi de Pâques or Easter Monday is kept as a public holiday, so apart from a few places that will be open in the morning, everything will be closed. May is le mois des ponts...”The month of bridges”, what on earth does that mean? Un pont is a long weekend where a working day between a public holiday and the weekend is replaced by une RTT or un jour de congé (a day off). Those of you who like to collect French acronyms will be delighted to learn that an RTT is une Réduction du Temps de Travail, a reduction in working hours. Unfortunately for French workers the 1st and 8th of May are both Sundays this year, so they won’t get un pont until after Ascension day, June 2nd , ideal for a nice trip to the seaside! We mustn’t forget the 14th of July which is also a Thursday, so the 15th will be un pont. This year les aoûtiens, those who’ve booked their holidays in August are the winners in the pont lottery, whereas les juilletistes, holidaying in July, are the losers because August 15th is a Monday, so no pont – better luck next year guys! Wendy Wise runs – the one stop shop for all sorts of courses in France and Ann-Marie LEQUEUX runs ILFU language school in Uzès where she teaches French both to locals and anyone anywhere via Skype.

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A French Pot Roast... by Helen Aurelius-Haddock Local supermarkets buy a large amount of their fresh products locally, and the provenance of the food is easy to trace. A lot of the beef I buy is from herds around Parthenay. That said, I am continually confused with the differing cuts that the UK and France have to offer. I am not overly struck on their small roasting joints, where the “fat” is wrapped around from another part of the animal. Recently I spotted one of the butchers cutting up beef potrine about to go on sale – it is a thinly sliced cut that is used for quick grilling. It was the cut we know as brisket, so I asked him if he would make it into a joint I could pot roast. Much discussion ensued and a deal was struck. I walked away with three fabulous brisket joints weighing about 2 kilos. I prepared a pot roast with one of them.

METHOD 1. Chop up the vegetables for the meat to sit on. 2. Rub the salt and pepper well into the meat. 3. Fry the brisket all over in a deep casserole dish. 4. De-glaze the pan and reduce. 5. Place the vegetables into the bottom of the pan and place the meat on the top. 6. Bring the pan back to the boil, cover, and place into an oven at 220 degrees for 20 minutes. 7. Reduce the heat to 165 degrees and cook for 3-5 hours depending on your oven and your taste – the longer it cooks, the more succulent it will be. 8. Remove the meat and vegetables from the pan and pour out the juices.- skim away the fat. 9. Serve the meat and vegetables with the jus or make a gravy by thickening the reserved fat with a tablespoon of flour, cook to break down the starch and add the juices from the pan. Cook on a rolling bubble to let the gravy thicken up and serve.


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Vive la difference. by Gilly Hunt The move to France to many is a dream, to others it is a reality. But does the reality live up to the dream? I moved to France in 2005 and despite having, I thought, prepared myself and my family, was soon to learn how wrong I was. It is easy when you are sitting in your double glazed, centrally heated house, with a monthly pay cheque dropping into your bank account, your friends and family only a drive or walk away and everywhere you go they speak English! So how do you settle into a new life? Well I think most women, if they were totally honest would say that their emotions resemble a roller-coaster for at least the first couple of years, whilst they learn to live without their best friend, their mother and their children within a short drive. But men seem to find the transition much easier, happy with their new relaxed way of life, living the dream and content to be “en famille” and see friends and family when they visit – their need to return to the UK on a frequent basis is non-existent. They seem to relish their new found challenge in renovating the house, visiting Mr Bricolage and not going to work.

of our colleagues and the feeling of worth. Living in France is a life changing experience for us ladies, we have said goodbye to our careers, family and friends and embrace cleaning, houses with an unnerving quantity of dust, supermarkets with little choice and a lifestyle similar to that of our parents in the 1950s. Many who move to France fight the changes that are inevitable, but to live the dream you must embrace the differences between the cultures, appreciate and learn why everything seems to take for ever, why bureaucracy is rife, and most importantly the language. To fully immerse yourself and be accepted by the French people you must at least make some attempt to speak their language, you will be highly rewarded by their compassion, friendship, humour, love and passion for enjoyment, savouring each moment they are not working as we would a Thorntons chocolate. They truly work to live and do not live to work. Each month I will share with you my life as it is now, living in rural Deux-Sèvres with all its ups and downs, laughter and tears, sun or snow, I am here to live my dream.

We ladies however miss the shopping, lunches with the girls, cuddles with our grandchildren, chats with our children over dinner – yes these can all be replicated when they visit France, but it is not on a regular basis. We also surprisingly miss work; we miss the camaraderie

Family Favourites...

by Sarah’s Mum! Sarah and I thought we could share some of our favourite recipes with you all in the hope that you too might like to share yours with us! Our family’s favourite is ‘Zingy Chicken’. It must be the most versatile recipe ever, I should think. You can serve it ‘plain and simple’ with roast potatoes and vegetables, which is the way my family like it best, but it also goes well with rice or pasta, or even give it a pastry lid..scrummy! ZINGY CHICKEN. Serves 4.

of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres is producing a book and favourite recipes and this timely one is simple to make delicious to eat:EASTER BISCUITS - Makes about 50. Ingredients: 300g plain flour 150g butter 100g castor sugar 40 g currants or sultanas 1/2 teaspo on grated lemon rind 1 egg, lightly beaten Castor sugar, extra ts, 1. Sift flour into bowl; rub in butter. Stir in sugar, curran egg; rind and into 2. mix to a firm dough. Roll dough to 5mm thickness, cut 5 cm rounds, Bake 3. place about 3cm apart on lightly grease d oven trays. in moderate 4. oven about 15 minutes or until lightly coloure d. Don't overcook. While still hot, sprinkle with a little extra sugar. 5. Cool on trays.

Sauce: 1.5 oz butter 1.5 oz plain flour 1 chicken stock cube (dissolved in 3/4 pint boiling water). 2 dstsp French mustard 4 oz grated cheese (Emmental or Gruyere) (save some cheese for the topping!) 6fl oz single cream Method: Cook chicken-Gas mark 6/400˚F/200˚C for 20mins per lb. Sauce: Melt butter, add stock, mustard, cheese and cream. Bring to boil and simmer for a few mins, stirring occasionally until smooth and thick. Meanwhile remove meat from bird and put in large pieces into a fairly shallow dish. Pour over the sauce, sprinkle with the remainder of the grated cheese, decorate with sliced red pepper and bake in a pre-heated oven Gas oven 6/400˚F/200˚C for 20 mins. Serve with roast potatoes and vegetables, or add a puff pastry lid, or serve with vegetable rice. To serve with penne pasta, thin the sauce a little with extra cream. ....à table!

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Health, Beauty & Fitness... What is Reflexology? by Pamela Irving Reflexology is a very powerful therapy which works on our nervous system via manipulation of specific pressure points on the feet. Simply put, over 7000 nerves begin in our spine and end in our feet. The first pictures of Reflexology being carried out were found on the walls of tombs in ancient Egypt in 2330BC. The Native American Indians used to massage the feet to help with health problems. However in the early days there was no apparent knowledge that the feet do actually have a “map” of the body within them via the network of nerves. This was discovered in the 1930’s.

Reflexology means we do not have to get undressed to help a bad back! Pamela Irving has been practising an Advanced form of Reflexology for over 12 years, she had her own practice for over 7 years in the UK working 6 days a week full time, she now works from Chanteloup in France dept 79 Siret registered. International Institute of Holistic Health Therapists. For more information call Pam on 0549655525, No obligation.

Our feet reflect our physical, emotional and mental health. As pressure of a fast paced life builds up, we are left with pressure on our body (literally) this reflects in our feet. Unbeknown to many of us, our muscles become tight with lack of exercise, too much stress, lack of water, poor breathing...with time we have a build up of tension in the body and the feet. If you feel a headache coming on, you will also find that if you press the big toe or the toes in general, they feel very tight and sore, as we press the toes the nerve supply to the head increases blood flow to the head and oxygenated blood begins to release the headache. The area of the heel is quite hard and tough, this area reflects our gluteal muscles (these muscles are three deep and also can be tough to massage!), it is an area we find the sciatic nerve point in reflexology, with pressure put upon the heel, the symptoms of sciatica can be relieved enormously.

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Help For Heroes. Help for Heroes (H4H) is a charity working with the Armed Forces and other Service Charities to deliver a comprehensive pathway to help launch wounded, injured and sick personnel back into the next phase of their lives. The multi million pound plan is a partnership between the Services, especially with the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Army, and key charities including The Royal British Legion (TRBL) and the Services' own supporting charities such as ABF-The Soldiers' Charity,  BLESMA  and Combat Stress. The sums involved are huge, with the MoD committing £35m over ten years to provide the personnel to man the teams that will be dedicated to look after the wounded. H4H has committed to raise more than £80m to build the Personnel Recovery Centres (PRCs) in Colchester, Catterick, Tidworth and Plymouth and has already been funding the 'Pathfinder Centre' in conjunction with Erskine Scotland in Edinburgh. The Royal British Legion has agreed to fund the day-to-day running costs of the centres as well as fund the Battle Back Challenge Centre: about £50m over ten years. Other charities will provide specialist supporting services and Combat Stress is involved in the £30m ‘The Enemy Within’ appeal to fund regional outreach teams to support those with mental issues caused by war.

The Recovery Centres will provide comfortable living and learning accommodation for those on the Road to Recovery, giving those injured in the line of duty the very best training and opportunities to face a fulfilling future. Additionally the PRCs plan to provide a Welfare Hub for those who have left the Services but can continue be a part of an extended fellowship. Young Veterans will be helped to find jobs, learn life skills, continue to keep fit and, in short, to know exactly where to go when problems arise. They will be encouraged to be independent but will know that the Centres are there should they need them: a One Stop Welfare Shop. We would like to say a huge thank you to all our supporters for helping us to get this far. The Road to Recovery is a very long and hard path; these are young men and women today but they will grow old. We at H4H want to ensure that when the current level of public support has passed, as it inevitably will, they are not forgotten; they deserve the best and we are doing our best to get it. Your support has been invaluable and we couldn’t have done it without you. Please support us in supporting those who need it most...our Heroes. For more information go to and to find out what’s happening here in France email

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Getting Out & About... Is a Hybrid the way forward?

by Helen Tait-Wright As the price of petrol and diesel pushes skywards, and Kylie is abandoning the “locomotion” and urging us to join the “quiet revolution”, even die-hard petrol heads like myself must think about alternative fuels, as much to preserve our hard earned cash as for eco reasons. So, what are the choices? Hybrids appear to give the best and most practical compromise, as the combination of a traditional engine and electric motor means lower fuel consumption, without the problems of limited driving range and recharging in a solely electric car. There is a good range of hybrids available, but none of them are going to persuade me to abandon my gas guzzling V8 Jaguar; the styling isn’t to my taste and performance figures disappointing. But, there is a company making something that grabs my attention. It’s all electric, so that could be a downside (along with the price tag of 84,000 Euros plus tax!), but a sexy little roadster, 0-60 in 3.7 seconds - wow! The Tesla website gives all the details. A 340km range per charge is reasonable, and charging from a standard household socket takes 3.5 hrs. But, figures quoted by manufacturers and reality don’t always tally, and Top Gear were scathing about the range in the car they drove. So for the inside story I spoke to one of the Tesla engineers at their Norfolk factory; “There is nothing like it for driving experience or acceleration. It is also incredibly easy and relaxing to drive due to the single speed gear and no clutch. Perfect in traffic jams, and good in the winter too, as you can control the application and removal of torque more easily

in an electric powertrain. The difficulty is that you cannot go on long journeys without having to charge along the way. If you don’t need to drive more than 225 miles in one hit, it’s perfect. As with all cars, the heavier the right foot, the worse the economy. We have had customers achieving over 300 miles but that requires saintly driving. The most telling thing regarding economy is the ratio between best and worst. With a Ferrari 430 you could achieve around 25mpg but when driven really hard that can drop to as low as 2mpg. The Tesla can get 225 miles off a charge and when Top Gear drove it doing flat-out acceleration runs they got around 56 miles. As a ratio this is about 1/5th.....considerably better than that of a Lamborghini/Ferrari/Aston. ” I’d love to try one, but the nearest dealership is in Monaco! Tesla’s Model S arrives at the end of 2012; a practical family car but still with drop dead good looks and performance, and a price tag less than the roadster according to my inside source. I’m just going to look under the mattress to see if I left any cash lying around!

Tesla Roadster, Glacier Blue. Phototograph: Tesla Motors.

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Scouting and Guiding in France. by Sue Burgess The first thing you should know about scouting and guiding in France is that there are several different scouting and guiding associations and not all of them are recognised by the World Scouts Organisation or by WAGGGS. The Scouts and Guides de France is the largest association with some 66,000 members. The association is a member of Scoutisme Français and so a member of both world associations. The Scouts and Guides de France is a scouting and guiding movement open to anybody but attached to the Catholic church. It is in my opinion the movement which closely resembles what I used to know as Scouts and Guides in the UK. Children can join at 8, unless you are lucky enough to find a Farfadets group near you for the 6 – 8 year olds. Meetings are generally held at the weekend, as the school days are so long. Sometimes on a Saturday afternoon or for a whole day on a Sunday and weekend camps are held quite frequently. In the summer most units camp for a week (8-11 year olds) or longer for the older children.

The scouting and guiding basics are all there. What you will find less of in France are the «consumer type sports activities». Of course the children do get the opportunity to take part in this sort of activity but they remain exceptional. Activities here are much more outdoor and nature based, camping, cooking on open fires, building log cabins and tables to eat at, trails and nature games. Patrol life is important. So is individual development but the movement is less «badge orientated» than its English counterparts. You will find Scout and Guide groups in the following towns in the Deux-Sèvres: Niort, Thouars, Bressuire. • • • • • • • •

Farfadets. Louveteaux. Jeannettes. Scouts Guides Pionniers Caravelles Compagnons

6 – 8 year olds Cubs Brownies Scouts Guides 14 – 17 year old boys 14 – 17 year old girls 17 – 21 year olds

Contact me on 06 86 23 39 82 for further information or for local contact numbers.

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Building & Renovation...

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Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 21

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Solution to Math problem: 6 divided by 6 = 1 + 6 = 7

Across:1.orbiting 5.ire 9.outcaste 10.deft 11.flirted 12.gateau 15.meddle 16.eyed 18.detente 22.terminal 23.liege Visit our website:

Down:2.retort 3.toss 4.needle 6.reflected 7.woe 8.adornment 12.garrotte 13.ever 14.plateau 15.mature 18.dais 19.edge 20.stye

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

Soduku Solver

Solution to Crossword#1



Communications... Protecting your PC – From Electrical Storms, Surges etc. This time last year the Deux-Sèvres and Vendée were caught in violent storms and floods, a considerable amount of damage was caused to buildings and many trees were blown down. At my home we had to claim on our household insurance for damage to buildings and although the storms did not create any power surges, the repairs done in the following two days cost us our Internet router, a wireless printer and a small fridge freezer. The value of the electric items was in excess of 500€, and the router was supposedly protected! I understand from friends who have lived here for considerably longer than we have that this is normal for our region of France. Since operating a PC support service in October 2009, I have had to replace more PC power supplies than any other component and many of the PCs that needed new power supplies also needed new network cards (these are where you connect your LiveBox/Neuf Box to your PC using a cable). So I set about looking for a better solution, after researching things I was advised by an excellent English electrician, (Ross Sutherland of RS Electrical, Scillé, 79240) that it is possible to protect all of your electricals from the point at which your electricity is distributed around your property, and at what I consider to be a very reasonable cost, around 100€ for single phase electrical supplies, 150€ for triple phase and 85€ for your telecommunications equipment (telephone, fax and router etc) plus fitting.

If your electrical system will not support these surge protectors, you may i n d i v i d u a l l y p r o t e c t y o u r se n si t i v e equipment by using simple surge protection that will fit between your electrical socket and each item, these are available in most electrical supply shops and the bigger super markets, indeed France Telecom/ Orange have an excellent device for as little as 8,50€, and this device protects not only the electrical power supply but also the telephone line that the device (router/modem, fax, cordless, telephone etc) is connected to. All of these devices are known in France as “parafoudre” and some even come with insurance in the event of a failure that will compensate you in the event that a piece of equipment connected to the device is damaged in the event of a surge. Our electrical system was awful when we purchased the property and after last year’s losses, I have had a new system installed and paid the extra 150€ to enjoy full protection from the point of supply. Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing operates from his home on the Deux-Sevres/Vendee border adjacent to L’Absie. He provides IT and Communications support to Expats, his website is where you can find more information on his services. Any questions you can email Ross:

What is at risk ? According to Ross Sutherland, any device with a printed circuit board could be damaged, these devices include Internet modems and routers, Computer equipment, Fridges/Freezers, Microwaves, Televisions and Satellite equipment, VCRs, DVD players/recorders, Stereo/HiFi.

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Hallmark Electronique was formed in response to a market need for a reliable company that could offer services based around the electrics/electronics theme. How many times have you been let down by an artisan not turning up at the time agreed, if at all? When we make a promise – we keep to it. With over 20 years experience we are qualified, registered and insured for all of the activities we carry out – when comparing our prices please ensure that the company you compare us with fulfils these criteria. We genuinely care about what we do. We will spend time with you, the customer, to ensure that your needs are fully met. We will provide a no obligation Devis free of charge. Hallmark operates 7 days a week and will respond to call-outs as quickly as possible. For example, after a major storm in the area we are often called out at weekends and odd times of the night. We accommodate customers so they are not without their service longer than is necessary.

who we can thoroughly recommend including plumbing, building, gardening, fosse installation and even translation services including liasing with official organisations. Common examples of where we have helped customers locally are: new electrical installations for a barn conversion; call-out to a client who experienced a fire after faulty existing electrics; advice on compliance with regulations; liasing with the electricity supplier on your behalf; down to small jobs such as an extra kitchen socket or satellite re-align. We are fluent in French and so there are no language barriers when dealing with regulatory bodies.

Some of the services we offer include: • Full electrical service (including 3 phase)-from a total rewire to a single socket • Satellite service – including installation, re-alignment and motorised systems • French Television system installation • Computer Networks • Telephone Networks Hallmark specialise in electrics/electronics. We don’t do building work, joinery or tiling. We stick to what we know best although we do have other artisans that work with us

Hallmark covers all areas although we are based near Melle. We carry state of the art equipment on the vans and your calls and emails come straight through to us on site via iPhone thus minimising delays in us returning your calls. We are proud of what we do – contact us today for free, friendly advice.

Advertising rates start from 25€. Please contact Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 or go to to download an advertising pack. Copy deadline: 15th of the month. page 24


Business, Finance & Property... Tax Returns 2011

joint declaration, and must declare jointly any income earned since the date they signed the PACS.

Income Tax Returns – Votre “déclaration des revenus”

Once the household income has been divided according to the number of parts, each “part share” will then be taxed according to the French income tax bands, which range from 0% to 40% as follows : Income Band Rate of Tax Up to €5,963 0% 5,964 to €11,896 5.5% 11,897 to €26,420 14% 26,421 to €70,830 30% 70,831 and above 40%

The French tax year is the calendar year and the deadline for returning your completed declaration of income earned in 2010 is the end of May 2011. Those of you already in the system should receive your partially completed form (or “préremplie”) by the end of the first week in May. However, for most expatriate taxpayers in France, the amount of data that has been pre-completed will actually be quite minimal, since for the time being only French earned and pension income is included. Similarly to last year, the tax authorities, or the ”Fisc”, have granted extra time for those who make their declarations on line at , however, the amount of extra time you will have actually depends on which “zone scolaire” you are in so please check. Unfortunately, first time tax payers cannot use the online facility as the process requires your tax identification number. For existing taxpayers using this on line facility for the first time, there is also the bonus of a €20 tax reduction. The online facility will be available from the beginning of May. For those of you who are about to complete your first tax return, nothing will be sent to you automatically and the onus is on you to collect a tax form from your local tax office (“Centre des Impôts”), or download one from and send it off by the end of May. This may seem like a daunting prospect, but once you understand the system it can actually be a fairly painless experience. What forms will you need? The Déclaration des Revenus is made up of a variety of forms, according to your circumstances. These are some of the main forms that apply to expatriates: Form 2042: This is the main tax form, which those of you already in the system will receive partially completed, where you should declare your worldwide income and gains. Form 2042C (“Complementary”): This is an additional form which is required for a number of situations, including where you have received income from furnished letting or chambres d’hôtes, or where you have paid tax in the UK that needs to be offset against French tax. Form 2047: This is an additional form for any income received from outside of France. Foreign income must be declared on this form, as well as on Form 2042. Form 3916: This is for details of any bank accounts situated outside of France. How will your existing income be taxed? In France, income tax is calculated very differently than in the UK. In very general terms, once resident in France, you will be taxed as a household unit, with all of your household income added together and divided by the number of ‘parts’ in the household. Joint taxation does not apply to unmarried couples who are co-habiting unless they have signed a PACS agreement. Following recent changes, couples that have signed a PACS agreement (“Pacte Civile de Solidarité”) no longer have to wait two years before making their first

So, for a married or PACS’d couple living together, the combined income is divided equally between them. Each half is then assessed for tax and this is added together (or multiplied by 2) to give the household tax liability. A couple with children have the benefit of added ‘parts’ in the household, which further reduces the tax liability: Married couple: 1 part each The first two children: 1/2 part each Third and subsequent children: 1 part each A couple with 3 children would therefore divide their household income into 4 parts, assess each part for income tax, then add their respective liabilities up together (or multiply one part by 4) to calculate the total household liability. This system obviously favours large households, but also reduces the tax burden where one partner earns the majority of the earned income (or pension income). There are certain cases where extra ‘half parts’ are granted, depending on special circumstances, so it is important to complete the section on your personal situation as fully as possible. What to declare? As a French resident, you should declare all of your worldwide income and gains on your French tax return. Even if you pay income tax outside of France - such as on UK rental income or public sector pensions - the income will still be used to calculate your overall tax liability. Don’t worry, the Double Tax Treaty prevents you from paying tax twice on this income, but these figures are needed to calculate the rate at which your other income should be taxed. What exchange rate to use? This is a question we are often asked at this time of year, and we have come across various responses from different tax departments over the years. Some tax offices tell people to use the £/€ exchange rate at the end of the year. The exchange rate at the end of the year was £1 = €1.162, whilst the average rate, which accountants are recommending be used for income tax returns this year, is approximately £1 = €1.166. Unfortunately the “Fisc” are less likely to let any inaccuracy slide when it does not work in their favour! The alternative is to keep track of the exchange rates applicable to your Sterling income as you received it.

David Hardy, Regional Manager, Siddalls France. page 25


Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!


screen shot of the Pays de Gatine ‘Guide for Newcom

The Pays de Gatine offices in Parthenay are a great source of information especially if you are new to the area. The website has a ‘Guide for newcomers’ which covers issues such as working, setting up a business, schooling, healthcare, taxes, translation to name a few. The aim is to help English people integrate into French life. If you would like to know more, visit and click on the English flag for the ‘Guide for Newcomers’ or email Julia Salvat:

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 page 26


Money & Property matters No 2 In the last article, I looked back at the £ / € exchange rate, and propose to continue to comment upon this, since it impacts upon so many ex-Pats living here in France. The current rate (11 March) is around the 1.16 mark, and relatively steady. Most experts predict that once UK interest rates start to rise, so will Sterling, so anyone selling their French home this year, to repatriate back to the UK should consider a forward contract to buy their currency at these attractive rates.

Ask for honest feedback, but be prepared to act upon it! Too many houses are on the market currently at inflated prices, and as a consequence, are not getting viewings. Peter Elias (Agent Commercial) SARL Allez-Français email Tel 05 49 27 01 22

In the last issue, I also talked about DPE (energy) reports for properties, it will be interesting to see how much value is placed upon them. There is going to be some impact since many French clients borrow a certain amount of their funds at a special 0% rate, and those houses with a rating of A-D on the energy reports will be able to borrow double the amount that a property with a rating of E-G will have available. How accurate are these surveys – that is anyone’s guess. We have 2 absolutely identical properties with differing reports, but in a recent independent survey conducted by a French magazine, 16 diagnostic experts were asked to visit 4 houses, and only 1 of the houses was classified in the same band by all experts. 2 properties, (50% of the sample), were actually classified under 3 different bands, by these so called experts ! Often buyers and vendors are confused about the process involved with local taxes when a sale is concluded. The legal requirement is that the owner, (or the person living in the property on 1st January), is liable for the whole of the year’s tax liability for the Taxe Habitation, so that even if a sale was concluded, on say the 15th January 2011, the vendor would be liable for the tax bill that normally is sent to you around September / October of the year in question. The Taxe Foncière is treated differently, and is apportioned exactly pro-rata, so again using the 15th January as a completion date, the vendor would be liable for 2/52 (2 weeks) and the buyer 50/52 of the bill. Often the Notaire will use the previous year’s bill and take care of the apportionment, since the bill will still be sent to the vendor. For this reason, it is often beneficial to keep a French Bank account for several months after a sale is concluded as there will often be bills to pay, or sometimes some refunded. As most readers will be aware, most French properties for sale are advertised with several agencies, this is normal practice. Ideally, a property should be with 3 or at most 4 agencies, perhaps covering different geographical locations, and some with strong internet presence. More than 4 agents and the vendor will find their property appearing everywhere on the internet, and buyers will perceive that the vendors are desperate to sell, or that there is something wrong with the property. One somewhat devious practice carried out by some agencies, is to get their vendors to sign an exclusive mandat de vente. Sometimes, from our experience they give very conservative valuations, so that the property is very attractively priced, (below market value). In the event that an offer is received at the full asking price, the vendor is obliged to sell. So, our recommendation is NEVER sign up to an exclusive mandat, unless you are sure that you know what you are doing and are confident that the valuation is accurate.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

If your house has been on the market for more than 6 months, you should talk to your agents about the price. page 27

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly April 2011  

English magazine for the ex-pat community and holiday-makers in the Deux-Sèvres department of France.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly April 2011  

English magazine for the ex-pat community and holiday-makers in the Deux-Sèvres department of France.