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THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Welcome to Issue 14 of ‘The DeuxSèvres Monthly’ magazine. With Easter just around the corner, we know that Spring has definitely sprung! The bulbs are starting to pop through the soil and things are very slowly starting to show some colour and signs of waking up. It’s the time to get out and about again, so jump in your cars this Spring and go and visit one of the many Vide greniers in the area. We have made a list of many on P5 but I’m sure we will have missed some. (The French don’t seem to have mastered the art of marketing very well yet!). Happy Easter everyone!

Sarah. or Tel: 05 49 70 26 21.

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.

28€ within France, 18€ to addresses in UK. (Unfortunately the cheaper ‘printed papers’ rate cannot be applied to addresses within France, only when sending abroad)

Full Name: Postal Address: Postcode:


Tel: Email: Please make cheques payable to SARAH BERRY.

Emergency Numbers: 15 SAMU, Medical 17 Gendarmes, Police 18 Pompiers, Fire

112 European emergency 113 Drugs and alcohol

© Sarah Berry 2012. 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 is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. <<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: Sarah Berry et Impression: Imprimerie Jadault, 46 rue du BocageBP405, 79306 Courlay Cedex. Dépôt légal: avril 2012 - Tirage: 5 000 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

CONTENTS What’s On.............................................................................4 Hobbies, Clubs & Associations.........................................10 Take a break......................................................................11 Health, Beauty & Fitness..................................................12 Our Furry Friends..............................................................13 The Great Outdoors...........................................................15 French Life, Food & Drink................................................18 French Adventures............................................................23 Motoring.............................................................................24 Getting Out & About..........................................................25 Communications.................................................................28 Building & Renovation.......................................................29 Business, Finance & Property..........................................35 THIS MONTH’S ADVERTISERS A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant).............................................. 21 Absolu Paint Stripping Services (Tony Sparks)................. 30 Ace Pneus (Tyre Supplier & Fitter)................................... 24 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC D/Glazing)..... 2 A.I.P. (Estate Agent)........................................................... 38 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder)............................................. 34 Alain Miot (Saw mill)........................................................... 30 Allez Francais (Estate Agent)............................................. 38 Andrew Longman (Plumber)............................................... 31 Andrew Quick Building Services......................................... 39 Andy Melling (Joinery & Renovation)................................. 33 An English Nursery in France (Garden Centre)...................16 Antiquites Decoration & Galerie du 309............................. 26 A.P.S Automobiles (FORD Garage)..................................... 2 Argenton Alapacas.............................................................. 13 Blevins Franks Financial Management Ltd........................ 36 Brasserie du Marais Poitevin.............................................. 20 Brian Fox (Computer Support)........................................... 29 Bruno Sellier Insurance....................................................... 2 Cafe Cour du Miracle........................................................... 22 Café des Belles Fleurs......................................................... 21 Chris Bassett Construction................................................. 33 Christies (English Book Shop and Tea Room).................... 25 Curtain Creations (Jacqueline Carling)............................... 26 Dave Bowring (Electrician)................................................. 30 David Normanton (Handyman)............................................ 30 David Watkins (Chimney Sweep)........................................ 30 Dean Smalley (Cleaning & Gardening Services)................ 36 Energie-79........................................................................... 31 Garage Planchet (Renault)................................................... 25 Gardens & Stuff .................................................................. 16 Gordon & Jocelyn Simms (Segora Writing Competitions).. 6 Hallmark Electronique (Electricians & Sat. Engineers).... 30 Insink Plumbing.................................................................... 31 John Etherington (Home and Garden)................................. 16 John Spray Maçonnerie (Stonemason)................................ 32 Julie’s Cleaning Services..................................................... 36 La Grande Galerie................................................................ 26 La Joie de Vivre (Gift Shop & Tea Room).......................... 26 Le Logis (Pig breeders)....................................................... 22 Le Puy Remorques (Trailer Hire & Sales)......................... 2 Mad Hatter’s Kitchen........................................................... 18 Mark James (Stonemason).................................................. 32 Matthew Morgan (DJ).......................................................... 25 Michael Hobson (Painter & Decorator).............................. 32 Mini Market (Collection of services around L’absie)........ 26 MS Electrique (Electrician)................................................. 29 Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurances........................................ 24 Nathan Foster Building Services........................................ 33 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology)............................ 12 Paperback Jan...................................................................... 7 Philip Irving (Mini Digger hire)............................................ 33 Philip Wellman (Plumbing Service & Maintenance)............ 31 Plombiere Anglais en France (Plumber)............................. 31 Poitou Property Services.................................................... 36 Premier Autos - Mike Lane (Mechanic)............................. 24 R&A Services (Renovation)................................................ 31 RDK Roofing & Building Services....................................... 30 Restaurant des Canards....................................................... 21 Richard Owen (The Fosse Man)......................................... 32 Rob Berry (Plasterer).......................................................... 34 Robert Gough Terrassement............................................... 33 Robert Walker Plomberie (Plumbing, Heating, Air con)..... 31 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering)........... 28 Rustic French (Holiday rental)...................... 35 Satellite TV (Nigel Gubb).................................................... 29 sarl Down to Earth (Groundwork & Construction)............. 32 Siddalls (Financial Advisors)............................................... 37 Spectrum IFA Group (Amanda Johnson)............................ 35 Stephen’s Property Renovations......................................... 34 Steve Enderby...................................................................... 32 Sue Burgess (French Courses & Translation).....................92 The English Mechanic - Tony Eyre.................................... 24 The Mini-Market (Luché-sur-Brioux)............................... 26 Total Renovation Services (Michael Dominey).................. 32 UK Paint Depot (UK Paint supplier)................................... 33 Vendee Houses (Estate Agent).......................................... 39 Vendee Pools (Swimming Pools)........................................ 40 3


What’s On....April 2012 1st April - Live Jazz & Sunday Roast At the Restaurant des Canards. See advert on P.21 for more. 2nd April - Phoenix cards, Stationery & Gifts At Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. 10am-12pm. Contact Jo Ashforth 05 49 65 04 09 6th April - Good Friday - Live Music night At Café des Belles Fleurs, from 8pm. See advert on P21. 6th April - Car Boot Sale At La Grande Galerie, Civray. Please contact Bert or Pippa on 05 49 87 75 84 for further information. 6th April - Phoenix cards, Stationery & Gifts The Bar Tipsy, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize, 1600-1800h Catalogues 2012 and new products available. Contact Della James 05 49 05 78 61, 7th April - Market Day, Vide Grenier & Fish ‘n’ Chips At ‘Au Pont’, Gourgé, 11am to 4pm. 8th April - Easter Sunday. 10th April - Book Signing with Christine Collette At La Grande Galerie, Civray, from 10am to 12pm. More information about the author on P.8. 11th April - Coffee morning in aid of NALA 85480 At Le Poyenval Language School, Bazoges-en-Pareds   10am-12.30. For more info, please email:  Friday 13th April - Charity Concert At the village hall in Soulièvres, 9pm. Organised by the association the Friends of Blood Donors of Airvault. See P.8 for more details. 14th April - Cancer Support Deux Sèvres Spring Fair At St. Jouin de Milly, 11am to 5pm in the Salle Polyvalente. (4 kms from Moncoutant.) Many stands including health & beauty, English foods, books, Phoenix cards, spices, therapies, Tombola. Teas/coffees and lots of lovely cakes. For more info or to have a stand please contact: Diane Lowe on 05 49 74 02 05 14th April - Book Signing with Christine Collette At La Presse, Ruffec, from 10am to 12pm. More information about the author can be found on P.8 17th April - Spring Fayre At La Grande Galerie, Civray. Please contact Bert or Pippa on 05 49 87 75 84 for further information. 20th April - Quiz night with Cheryl At Café des Belles Fleurs, from 7pm. See advert on P21. 20th April - Music/Bistro night At the Mad Hatter’s Kitchen, Caunay. See advert on P.18. 21st April - Doors open for 2012 At The Mini Market, Luché-sur-Brioux. See advert on P26. 21st April - L’Absie Spring Bric-a-Brac On the main square, 3pm to 11pm. Reservations for tables 1€ p/m email: 21st & 22nd April - ‘Musiques en Gâtine’ opening weekend. See P.8 for more information and booking details. 22nd April - DOG WALK, Book and Plant Sale. At Foyer Rural, St Pardoux 79310 from 10.30am. Please see further details on P.15. 28th April - Coulon Brewery Open Day (1) At the old dairy in Coulon, 79510, from 2pm to 6pm. Please see advert on P20 for more details. 29th April - Coulon Brewery Open Day (2) At the old dairy in Coulon, 79510, from 2pm to 6pm. Please see advert on P20 for more details.

Local Markets Mondays: Tuesdays: Wednesdays: Thursdays: Fridays: Saturdays: Sundays:

Lencloitre (1st Monday in month) (dept.86) Lezay, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize, Thouars Parthenay Sauzé Vaussais, Niort Thouars, Melle Chef Boutonne, Airvault, Niort, St. Maixent l’École, Fontenay le Comte Neuville (dept.86)

Paperback Jan Books in English 2nd Apr: Cafe des Belle Fleurs, Fenioux. 10am-12pm 4th Apr: Cafe Cour de Miracle, Vouvant. 2pm-4.30pm 5th Apr: Bar Le Palais, St Aubin le Cloud. 2-5pm 6th Apr: Bar de la Paix, Thouars. 12pm-2pm 6th Apr: Le Tipsy Bar, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize. 4pm-6pm 7th Apr: Bar ‘Au Pont’, Gourgé. From 11am 9th Apr: St Martins Bar, Brux. 11am-2pm 12th Apr: Pause! Cafe, L’Absie. 2pm-5pm 13th Apr: Jan’s home, La Ferrière-en-Parthenay. 11am-4pm 14th Apr: Cafe Le Chauray, St Maixent l’Ecole. 10am-1pm. 26th Apr: Joie de Vivre, Moncoutant. 2pm-5pm For more info contact Jan on: 06 08 30 73 29 or email:

Open 6-8p m

La Vendee Chippy Traditional Fish & Chips in France!

• Wednesdays (Apr 4th, 11th, 18th & 25th) Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges • Thursdays (Apr 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th) • Bar ‘La Rando’, Mervent. • Fridays (Apr 6th, 13th & 20th & 27th) Bar ‘Au Bon Coin’, Thoursais Bouildroux For more info please email:

Fish 4 Chip Fish, Chips & mushy peas!


Open 6-8p


Bar Tilleuls, Champniers (near Civray)

Tuesdays: Sauzé-Vaussais (Main square & can be eaten in local bar). Wednesdays: Chef Boutonne (near Chateau) Thursdays: Sauzé-Vaussais (Main square & can be eaten in local bar). Fridays:

Mansle (Car park of Simply Supermarket)

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20, or visit:

What’s coming up... 1st May - Fetes de Plantes At Le Beugnon, 79130. Please find more details on P17. 4th May - Music/Bistro with Andy Palmer At the Madhatter’s Kitchen, Caunay. Please call to reserve a table on 05 49 27 67 29. 6th May - Plant Fair at Jarzay, St. Germain de Longue Chaume Cancer Support Deux Sèvres will have a stand at the Plant Fair at Jarzay, with information, a Tombola and very, very cheap books.

Contact Sarah Berry on Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email: ~ 4

It’s Vide Grenier Time! The Vide grenier, also known as foire aux greniers, is the French equivalent of the English flea market or car boot sale and the American yard sale. The literal translation is ‘empty attic’ and is exactly that - the opportunity for local people to sell the mess and clutter of their attics (or cellars) to make room for the future mess and clutter they’ll buy at other Vide greniers!  Advertisement of such events are usually sparse, consisting mainly of small wooden, homemade, ground-level sign posts on roadsides leading into the event-holding village.  They’re always worth a visit, one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.... as they say!  Below is a list of Vide greniers’ in the Deux-Sèvres this Spring - go and have a wander, catch up with your neighbours and maybe even pick up a treasure! Times may vary. Usually Vide greniers start early and continue late into the afternoon.

APRIL... Saturday 7th: Sainte-Ouenne 79220 Sunday 8th: Airvault 79600 Saint-Gelais 79249 Monday 9th: Pamproux 79800 Saturday 14th: Bouillé-Loretz 79290 Moncoutant 79320 (Plan d’eau de la Mariniere) Sunday 15th: Aubingy 79390 Chail 79500 Chambroute 79300 Chanteloup 79320 Coulonges-Thouarsais 79330 Faye-sur-Ardin 79160 Frontenay-Rohan-Rohan 79270 Pougné-Hérisson 79130 Sainte-Radégonde 79100 Sansais 79270 Saturday 21st: L’Absie 79240 Sunday 22nd: Niort 79000 Sunday 29th: La Boissière-en-Gâtine 79310 Lhoumois 79390 Messé 79120 Thorigné 79370 MAY... Tuesday 1st: Sunday 6th: Tuesday 8th: Saturday 12th: Sunday 13th: Sunday 20th: Sunday 27th:

Fénery 79450 Saint-Maixent-l’École 79400 Sainte-Verge 79100 Le Retail 79130 Saint-Symphorien 79270 Échiré 79410 Melle 79500 Sainte-Néomaye 79260 La-Ferrière-en-Parthenay 79390 Le Breuil-sous-Argenton 79150 Le Temple 79700 Vautebis 79240 Vouillé 79230 Saint-Maxire 79410 Beauvoir-sur-Niort 79360 Saint-Maixent-l’École 79400 Saint-Rémy 79410

Thanks to, where details of Vide greniers are updated all the time.

Contact Sarah Berry on Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email: ~ 5

Around the World in (about) 90 minutes(approx) Embark on a journey of dazzling entertainment with Reaction Theatre, a popular local drama group whose reputation is growing with every performance. The next production is a variety show which follows similar lines to our very successful ‘Extravaganza’ in 2010. The new show, with a huge cast is directed by the experienced and multi-talented Margaret Round, and will be based on a ‘Round the World’ theme. There will be a multitude of songs, dance, comedy and sketches to entertain our growing audiences, performed with enormous enthusiasm and an abundance of talent. Performances will be at ‘Le Petit Theatre’ in Secondigny on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th April at 8.00pm, with a matinee (by popular demand) on Saturday 28th April at 2.30pm (with tea available).

Helen Who?

by Jocelyn Simms Helen Dunmore is guest author for the first Bilingual LitFest in St Clémentin: 31 August – 2nd September 2012. Recently someone said to me, “Well, who is this Helen?” Fair enough. We can’t all know every author, or famous person in the world – I always thought Paris Hilton was a hotel! I first came across Helen Dunmore when she won the inaugural Orange Prize for literature with ‘A Spell of Winter’ (1996). She went on to further acclaim with ‘Zennor in Darkness’ (McKitterick 1994) and ‘The Betrayal’, long-listed for the ManBooker (2010). Her style is sensuous, creating a great sense of immediacy and involvement. Her stories are gripping; un-put-downable. She has the poet’s eye for description (short-listed for the T.S.Eliot prize and winner of the National Poetry Competition in 2010). Her latest book, ‘The Greatcoat’, explores passion and possession in the form of a ghost story where past and present are simultaneous. She writes also for young people. Recently I heard the same remark from both an OAP and a child, ‘How does she know me?’ Helen Dunmore’s characters are perhaps the key to the enduring power of her writing – real people grappling with real dilemmas.

For further information on our expanding local theatre group please explore our website and for ticket information and booking visit or telephone 05 49 70 29 86.

Fluent in French she will languages, concentrating House of Orphans’ and questions of loyalty, treachery set against the

hold interactive sessions in both particularly on ‘The Siege’, ‘The ‘The Betrayal’. All three pose personal freedom, love and backdrop of state control.

Email: for a free LitFest programme.

A bit like the Queen... To celebrate The DSM’s 1st Birthday I organised a get together for advertisers, contributors, distributors, proof readers and all-round helpers to say “Thank you” for their support over the past 12 months. It was held at the Café des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux, and Ken & Tricia Isaac, proprietors of the Bar supplied a wonderful buffet and excellent service.

What’s a Vignette? The Vignette is a word-picture – it may be poignant, exciting, amusing even surreal. Every one of its maximum of 300 words must be carefully chosen to deliver a memorable and succinct piece of writing. Read previous winners on

The evening was a great opportunity to see some familiar faces and to finally meet people that I only speak to or send emails to! I was hugely surprised to receive some lovely gifts and cards and someone commented that I’m a bit like the Queen, now having two birthdays a year! (something I can cope with!) A great evening, and thank you to all who came. I Hope you enjoyed it too!

e Diamond Jubilee Celebrations. s on th bration by ilee C

cake made by Above: Birthday urs Fle Café des Belles

Tricia at



. ub created The new association d JAidez be orgfor Smith funds for nraising Ja'Christmas iamonwho ow to ion the n & l il local charities, organises Market' w The D Jand Leg decided to organise d unealyear, in Terves3revery a ritishhas B y o celebrationTfor Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. he R It will take place on Sunday 3rd of June 2012 in the field of Will and Jo Rowe in Fenery. The idea is to have a 'posh' 6

Hannah’s Day, 4th February 2012



Hannah’s family would like to say a BIG THANK YOU to all the wonderful people who worked so hard organising such a brilliant day, also everyone who donated gifts, prizes, cakes and their time to make it a day to remember.

“We are quite overwhelmed by the kindness and generosity of complete strangers who have taken Hannah to their hearts and feel really humbled by the response,” said Hannah’s Mummy, Beccy. “We visited Sauzé Vaussais several times when our grandparents lived in Vaussais and hopefully we will be able to return one day with Hannah.” Meanwhile, Hannah continues having treatment in isolation following her bone marrow transplant, and she is doing well. Beccy is living in the hospital with her and her Daddy, Dan, is at home with Jessica & Callum, Hannah’s sister and brother. The money has been placed in a special account for Hannah’s future. It will be a year before Hannah is able to go on holiday, but some days out may be possible before then. Thank you all again. Hannah’s day raised over €2,000 and it would not have been so successful without the help and generosity of so many friends, foreign and French, and local charities like ‘Support Contre le Cancer des Deux-Sèvres’ and ‘L’Entraide Sauzénne’ and also local businesses.

Emma Claxton pictured here with the Winner of the 1st prize of the Tombola. The TV was donated by Super U Sauzé-Vaussais.

The DSM Monthly Photograph Competition


Congratulations to this month’s competition winner, Pat White 79440 “Sweet Almond blossom, taken in March 2011.”

For a chance to see YOUR photograph on the front cover of our magazine (5000 copies!) please enter our monthly photo competition. Entry is free and limited to one photograph per month. Please see for further details.

The organisers of the day, Emma Claxton and Lisa Knights, have been so inspired by people’s response that they have formed an association ‘Ensemble’. Their aim is to work alongside other local associations to raise money and help etc. for people in the area. Their next joint event, with ‘L’Entraide Sauzénne’ and other associations, is planned for 2nd June to raise money for two young wheelchair-bound people aged 22 and 25, in the same family, who suffer from Orpheline’s Disease; this is a blanket term to cover those diseases which are rare and which have practically no research being done. Hopefully the event on 2nd June will be just as successful as Hannah’s Day. The whole experience has brought together French people and people from other countries, in a spirit of friendship, cooperation and community.

Contact ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’... Telephone Sarah Berry on 05 49 70 26 21 or email: 7

Charity Concert On Friday 13th April at 9pm, the association ‘Friends of Blood Donors of Airvault’ is organising a concert in the village hall at Soulièvres. All proceeds from this event will go to the blood and organ donor associations. In the first part of the concert, you will be able to hear the Choir of the Val d'Or interpret songs by the Frères Jacques in their new repertory. In the second part, there will be a recital by songwriter, composer, singer and musician Gilles Dreu. He has a long career record with many hits. Remember “Alouette, alouette! Descendez l'escalier!“ and many others. He is a member of the “Age tendre et têtes de bois” troop and will play and sing many of his recent as well as his older hits. It will be an amusing, festive and convivial evening placed under the sign of solidarity. Please reserve your place by calling 05 49 64 66 23 or 05 49 64 70 79. Tickets are 10 Euros each.

A Summer read... Christine Collette, author of ‘The Adventures of Penolope Toomey’ is signing copies of her newly published book on 10th & 14th April and also 22nd May. Christine writes: “In ‘The Adventures of Penelope Toomey’ I hope to offer romance and adventure with some laughs, and a few tears. My heroine is neither young, slim, nor beautiful. She, and other characters, challenge conventional ideas of women, their lives and loves, their sexuality and their capacity for adventure.” Born and raised in London, Christine Collette now lives in rural South West France, in a stone cottage restored by her husband. She has published extensively in the fields of Labour History and Women’s Studies. Since her husband’s death in 2008 she has concentrated on writing fiction, and also teaches English as a volunteer at her local Université de Temps Libre. For the details of Christine’s Book Signings, please see our What’s On section on P.3.

Music in the Gatine... 1st Festival – Opening Weekend A new festival is born! «Musiques en Gâtine» is celebrating its first weekend on the 21st and 22nd of April. Don’t miss it ! 21 April, LES JUMEAUX Church, 20h30 Jérôme Hantaï, viola da gamba Maude Gratton, harpsichord Works by Ortiz, Simpson, Marin Marais, Bach Jérôme Hantaï is one of those great musicians who have helped us to rediscover ancient music. An uncontested master of the viola da gamba, for this concert he will be accompanied by Maude Gratton. This programme is the opportunity to discover some of the jewels of the repertory for harpsichord and viola da gamba. 22 April, SAINT-LOUP Sur THOUET Church, 17h ENSEMBLE « CONTRE-ÉCLISSE » Maude Gratton, Organ Stéphanie Paulet, Baptiste Lopez, violins Claire Gratton, cello Julien Debordes, bassoon Works by Telemann, Bach For the 2nd concert, Maude Gratton has invited young talented soloists to join her. Maude Gratton will play the great works of J.S. Bach on the St Loup church organ. Telemann wrote over 6000 works; He was one of J.S. Bach’s friends and knew how to write music so that several instrumentalists could get together and enjoy their music together. Tickets: 1 concert 12€ / 2 concerts 18€ Information and reservation 05 49 70 81 92 / 06 88 79 31 84

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2012: • • • •

Sunday 8 April............. Easter (Pâques) Monday 9 April............ Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Tuesday 1 May............ Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Tuesday 8 May............ WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Vitoires 1945)

Thursday 17 May........ Ascension (l’Ascencion Catholique) Sunday 27 May............ Pentecost (Whit Sunday-la Pentecôte) Monday 28 May........... Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Saturday 14 July.......... Bastille Day (Fête nationale) Wednesday 15 August. Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption) • Thursday 1 November..All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint) • Sunday 11 November...Armistice Day (Jour d’Armistice 1918) • Tuesday 25 December.Christmas Day (Noël) • • • • •

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 8

The Presidential Election: Operating Instructions

by Sue Burgess

Description: "The President of the French Republic makes sure that the constitution is respected. He ensures the regularity of the way the public offices function as well as ensuring the continuity of the French State. He is the guarantor of national independence, of the integrity of the French territory and the respect of treaties". (Constitution, Title II, article 5).

20 April 2012: End of the official campaign Sunday 22 April 2012: First round The campaign continues between the two rounds. Sunday 6 May 2012: Second round The official results of the elections are announced at 8pm. • Thursday 17 May 2012:beginning of the mandate of the new President. • Sunday 10 and Sunday 17 June 2012: Legislative Elections (for MPs) • • • •

First of all, how is the date of the election fixed and by whom ? A new president must be elected at least 20 days and not more than 35 days after the mandate of the current president expires. The government calls the election.

Vocabulary / Vocabulaire

Who can stand? Anyone, as long as he or she fulfils a certain number of conditions. A candidate for the presidential election must be at least 23 years old. He must be French and not have been stripped of any of his civic rights.

un isoloir........................ Polling booth

The candidate must provide a detailed list of his personal patrimony and its value. If the candidate is elected, the list is published in the official lists “Journal officiel”, at the same time as the results of the election. He must also provide a new list of his personal patrimony at the end of his mandate. Since the revision of the constitution in 1978, the candidate must have at least 500 signatures in support of his candidature. These signatures are those of elected people (MPs, senators, members of regional councils, mayors). One individual department or region can not provide more than 10% of the signatures. Each elected representative can only give his support to one candidate. How is the President elected ? The president is elected by direct universal suffrage, in a scrutiny for a single candidate with two rounds. To be elected after the first round, the candidate must have an absolute majority, that is to say half the votes + 1. If no candidate has an absolute majority, the two candidates with the most votes can stand for the second round. In 2012 the first round will be held on Sunday 22nd April and the second on the 7th May. The President is elected for five years. There is no limit to the number of times a person may stand. The “Conseil Constitutionnel” makes sure that the election is carried out under good conditions. The 5th Republic is different from other democratic regimes. The powers of the president are somewhere in between those of a president in a parliamentary regime and those of an all-powerful president in a presidential regime.

une urne.......................... Ballot box

un bulletin...................... Ballot paper un électeur...................... An elector une voix......................... A voice / vote un registre...................... Electoral register une abstention...............

An abstention

un bulletin blanc............ A blank ballot paper un bulletin nul................ A spoiled ballot paper voter............................... To vote élire................................ To elect élire quelqu'un président To elect someone president le président élu............... The president who has been elected but has not yet officially taken office le quinquennat........... The five year mandate Se rendre aux urnes....... To go to the polls être appelé aux urnes..... To be called upon to vote le ballotage..................... After the first round, the two candidates who have the most votes are said to be “en ballotage”. The candidate who has the most votes is said to be “en ballotage favorable” and the other one “en ballotage défavorable”, which does not necessarily mean that the candidate who has the most votes after the first round will in fact become president.

The candidates can finance their campaigns with either public or private funds. After the first of January and up to 24 hours before the second round, the time allotted to all the different candidates in the news media is very carefully scrutinised as each candidate must have the same time. The dates for the various stages of the presidential elections in 2012 are as follows: • 31 December 2011: Deadline for signing onto the electoral role • 23 February 2012: beginning of the search for the 500 signatures • 16 March 2012 18h00: Deadline for having the 500 signatures needed to be a candidate. • 19 March 2012: Publication of the list of candidates • 9 April 2012: Beginning of the official campaign

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 9

Hobbies, Clubs & Associations... CRAFT CAFE CREATIF If you knit, crochet or sew and want to meet like-minded people; if you also have a fondness for an afternoon cuppa, cake and a chat, then join us at Le Dragon at Vernoux-en-Gatine for our monthly craft cafe and have some fun sharing tips and know-how. English and French speaking welcome! For more information or to sign up please email or telephone Jennie on 05 49 94 22 27.

Secondigny Running Club... Put the bounce back in your step this spring. Join our friendly and supportive running group. All abilities welcome. Email Kelly for more details:

Anyone out there interested in air rifle shooting? I would like to either join a club or start one. I live about 5 miles North of Les Maisons Blanches. Please contact S Graham Bell on 05 49 39 44 75. New Language Group... A young-at-heart French couple would like to start a FRENCH-ENGLISH group in or around the area of Mauléon, to be able to practice their language and meet new people. Both French and English of all ages are welcome! If you would like to know more, please contact Isabelle by email:

Les Jardiniers du Poitou (Gardening club) The next meeting is on 26th April at the Salle de Fetes in Verruyes at 2.00PM. Feel free to come along and join us!

Les Amis Solitaires We are a group of people living alone in France. We meet regularly for coffee mornings, lunches and the occasional visit. Our activities centre around Sauzé Vaussais, Civray, Confolens and more recently L'Absie where we have started meeting again. Why not join us? More details from Nigel 02 51 51 48 13.

The Filling Station Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians who meet together on a monthly basis for spiritual renewal & evangelism purposes. The meetings bring encouragement & refreshment to Christians of all denominations. T o fi n d o u t m o r e , p l e a s e v i e w t h e w e b s i t e : or email:

Association Meridien Green We are an Anglo-French group which was founded in 2001 for mutual understanding of each other's language and culture. We meet twice weekly in the Salle des Associations in St Coutant, 79120. The best way to find out more is to visit our website or contact Maureen Dalby 0549299450. The name of our group comes from the fact that St Coutant is on the Greenwich Meridian!

Any Surfers out there that fancy sharing costs when surf’s up? Moncoutant / Bressuire / Largeasse area. Please call Rysz: 06 42 35 97 11


2nd Sunday Motorcycle Club has a new club website! Check it out: If you would like to attend our coffee mornings please contact us via the website........ New members always welcome!

Easter 2012 services across the Anglican Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd in the Poitou-Charentes

Maundy Thursday 5th April Holy communion and foot washing 7pm Savigne Church (86) Good Friday 6th April Worship, music and reflection 3pm Genouille Church (86) Easter Sunday 8th April                  Holy Communion services starting at 10.30am will be held at St Leger Church (79) For more information about location of Churches and  about what else is happening near you please take a look at our website: or contact us at 10

Take a Break...

Sudoku Corner...

Toughie Crossword! Down: 1. Kind of dog, that when stressed, could be coiled before the queen? (8) 2. Use wrongly when in crooked rut and you will get a stitch (6) 3. With a new baler one might be more efficient (5) 4. It is said that to stand still will get one to the border (6) 5. Hereitary result of ice being crushed by strange gent (7) 6. A bodge up in the wine store (6) 7. Borrowed time? (4) 14. Rose shaken up by mine disaster is finally reappearing (8) 15. Worry when Mr Hulot’s alter ego goes backwards in age (7) 17. Person in front of French in real mix-up (6) 18. Ran over, got broken toe, but finished up looking decorative (6) 20. Following a broken heart, many can offer a yarn (6) 21. “A bit of a scrap” in British arduous infantry advance (5) 22. A hand clenched awkwardly can cause spasms (4)


With thanks to M.Morris


Across: 8. Premier League replaces unknown quantity to make count into pipe expert (7) 9. Mixed fruit skin with nothing inside could lead one to abscond with a partner (5) 10. Become accustomed to joker leaving wound (5) 11. I’m comfortable when in mine, also being an essential part (7) 12. Famous astronaut loses an indefinite amount in Scottish valley (4) 13. Mice run backwards in exact time of year for wipe-out (8) 16. Stupidly, I go on wrong liner to expose sectarian movement (8) 19. A number out of fashion is not good on the eye......(4) 22. ...the same number in build up is level (7) 23. Sun god; among those Thor uses in clash of deities (5) 24. Up to date communication sounds like it’s for the birds! (5) 25. Leave one out of a tandori mix and ! there could be a storm! (7)

DSM Easy Crossword! Down: 2. Synthetic silk-like fabric (5) 4. Card game (5) 5. Loose garment worn by Muslim women (5) 6. Vitally important (4,2,5) 7. An intrudor or spy with hostile intent (11) 8. Tight-fitting hunters hat (11) 9. Something that remains on the surface of a liquid (5) 14. Avoid or escape from (5) 15. In advance of (5) 17. A comedy of broad satire and improbable situations (5) 18. Unamiable or depressed state (5)

Please see website: for answers

Across: 1. 5 point score in rugby union (3) 3. Great fear mingled with respect (3) 10. Join or combine, become one (5) 11. The thought of something that is perfect (5) 12. Female monarch (5,8) 13. Armour that protects the chest (11) 16. A sweetened western German wine (13) 19. Prevent, repel (5) 20. Last letter of the Greek alphabet (5) 21. Small enclosure for animals (3) 22. Indoor physical training facility (3)


Health, Beauty & Fitness... Adam’s Cycling Challenge. Hello, my name is Adam Skeet and I will be cycling round the circumference of France during the Summer in aid of the charity, Macmillan Cancer Support, in memory of my Grandmother and Grandfather. In preparation for this challenge, I have been living in and around the Deux-Sèvres region since October 2011 trying to improve on my school-boy French and learning more about the customs and way of life here in France. I have spent a total of 7 weeks with one of my friend’s parents, who live in France permanently as well as 7 weeks living with French families working to pay for my keep. This has been a wonderful experience and I have not only improved my language skills, but I have also learnt other skills such as animal husbandry, cooking “the French way” and getting used to cycling French roads.

I will be cycling solo, leaving the castle in the centre of Caen at midday on 1st April (no it is not an April fool!) and travelling clockwise. I will be carrying all my provisions, including food, tent, cooking equipment, spare parts for my bike and of course clothes. My intention is to travel to the Northernmost, Easternmost, Southernmost and Westernmost communes of France, which I have taken into consideration when planning my route. Whilst I am happy to camp, I am also looking for places where I could perhaps stay for the night, and enjoy a shower(!), as well as have easy access to the internet in order to update my blog: I am aware that each commune has a camp site, but my aim is to raise money not to spend it! Whilst I appreciate that most of the readers of The Deux Sèvres Monthly magazine do not live on the circumference of France, perhaps you may have a friend or relative who does? Or you may have another home by the coast, or in the mountains? If you would consider helping me out by the offer of a field, garden or bed, then it would be gratefully appreciated. I can be contacted at Many people may think I am mad, but I just want to do something different, to test myself through a challenge, to really enjoy the amazing country of France, to learn about the cultural and culinary differences from region to region as well as raising money for such a worthwhile cause. If you would like to donate then please visit my website or sign up to my blog and follow me around France this summer. Merci, Adam. 12

Our Furry Friends...

APPEAL A gentle dog who just needs a home. This beautiful female dog is spending her weekend in a filthy pound, we know nothing about her except that she was found a few days ago and that no one has come forward to claim her. Underweight and with big soulful eyes, this lovely lady is more than likely an abandoned chasse dog that has been used for breeding and is now no longer wanted, so has been turned out.

HOOF (Horse Orientated Open Forum) HOOF is open to anyone with an equine interest. You do not need to own a horse! We meet about once a month for talks, visits etc. Interested? Contact Jo Rowe on 05 49 64 22 67 or email:

Shall we call her “LADY” for now? every dog deserves a name. Lady is a friendly and very gentle animal showing no aggressive qualities. She is afraid of the future and desperate for a good bath, a warm bed and a safe loving environment. We are hoping that a temporary place can be found for Lady in a chenil where at least she will be safe and fed, finding her a more permanent home will not be easy. Could you foster/adopt a dog like Lady? We desperately need animal lovers to come forward and help us in this way? Please contact me: Siobain on 05 49 27 26 20 or email: giving your name, details of where you live and your contact telephone number, we will do the rest.

THE HOPE ASSOCIATION Helping animals  in  need


Thousands of English & French Books for just 1euro each!

Fri 18th, Sat 19th & Sun 20th May 2012 At the Salle des Fetes, Clussais la Pommeraie, 79190

10am - 3pm

MAYDAY MES AMIS Mayday Mes Amis is a new association under the 1901 law which has been formed to help animals in need in l'Absie and the surrounding area. For more information please email:

Just for Fun... 'Coco and Muffin know the best way to keep warm in winter!'

Pauline Hayford

Refreshments, English  Fish  and  Chips,  Grand  Raffle  and   more  a8rac:ons All money raised from this event will go to help Animals in Need and support other Animal Organisations Books  to  Donate?  E  mail:

Our adorable furry friends... Please send us your pictures and any comments to be featured here. Send your entry via email to: 13


by Jenny Harris.

We had horses, dogs, a cat, and now we wanted chickens. The newly acquired henhouse was placed in position under one of the poplar trees. My husband Bill, and I had decided that the chickens would be completely free to roam where they wished. We went to the market and purchased feed and four black hens, ready to lay. We had also decided not to personalise them by giving them individual names, but a group name – The Four Tops. After the third day, we pushed them out of the hen coop with a yard brush. To roam free was obviously daunting, but they soon got the hang of it. Acres of field, lawns and gardens were at their disposal, and soon they could be seen way in the distance foraging until dusk when I would call ‘C’mon Four Tops! Bed time!’ Down they would run, like something out of a Nick Park film, straight into the coop to be locked away for the night. As I was the feeder, whenever I appeared from the house, they would run in their comical clockwork fashion from wherever they were, always keen for feed or titbits. The Four Tops got so bold, you had to watch out for your sandwich if snacking on the patio. That summer, they ate every flower in the garden, and basked in sunshine on the front doormat. Woe betide anyone who left the front door open. In the evening, after visiting the muck heap and the barn, both rich in food and insects, they could be seen from the lounge window coming back up the lane, legs and bodies hidden by a low wall, with just their disembodied heads bobbing along.

humanely dispatched to the Great Coop in the sky. In the Spring, we were asked to take on three hens and a cock, on the understanding that we could provide freshly laid eggs when asked, as these birds were an endangered species, and fertilised eggs would be requested world wide. We were excited to be part of the save the CreveCoeur programme. We called them Elvis and the Three Priscillas, and they lived in Heartbreak Hotel, as their breed name suggests. This time we built a big run for these strangest looking birds, the oldest French breed still living, and one of the most endangered in the world. We soon found out why they were so rare – because they were unapproachable, unattractive and manic. Just to go near them would send them into paroxisms of panic, flattening themselves against the fencing. They seemed to be in a continual state of shock, with their black ruffs rising above scarlet beaks and ears, like hair standing on end in horror and fear. One female died of heatstroke, and the other two were rogered so often that they had no feathers on their backs. How Bill and I missed the three or four or five Four Tops! It became an unfortunate experience, with mediocre eggs, none of which we were ever asked to provide. Luckily, a friend adored this most unpleasant breed, and took them away, much to our relief. Elvis had left the building! This Spring, we acquired three Orpingtons, tame, not over familiar, and not scared or scarey. We rejected the group name of The Five Four Tops Tribute Band as a bit too silly, so they have their own names – Sausage, Beans and Chips – and they provide the eggs for this fine meal!

They continued to produce massive brown eggs all through the winter. The next Spring and Summer their confidence increased, milling round our legs when we took leisurely lunches under the mulberry tree, certainly unconcerned as to where they did their droppings. A drastic change happened to our comical foursome in the November. A young dog escaped from the village, savaged one of The Four Tops so badly that we had to have her put down. All the ‘joie de vivre’ left the three Four Tops. They hung around the front door, or stayed near their coop. They were plainly traumatised by the whole event. Left with three Four Tops, we decided to carry on till Spring, and then get two more . It was not right to expect one chicken to be able to join an established group. So after another market visit, we now had five Four Tops! A week or so later, the two new ones had integrated, and were as bold, cheeky and familiar as the rest. They came to love being picked up and stroked.

Above: The newest additions; Sausage, Beans and Chips

Jenny Harris is a member of the North Deux-Sevres Writers’ Circle.

Another year went by, brimming with huge double yolkers, but then they seemed one by one to lose the plot. They only occasionally laid eggs in the hen house. We would spend hours roaming the barns, the stables and outhouses, on the big egg hunt. It was a delight for the grandchildren, but frustrating for us. A pile of seven was found in the hedge up the lane, seventeen behind a bush, and nineteen in a great heap in the barn, the nest of old tools and iron filings well hidden under an old workbench. Not a strand of straw or hay in sight. Their toileting became such a nuisance, we had to watch where we walked. All they wanted was to be with us, even in the house if they could. Occasionally one would dart off in the opposite direction of the others, or one would start walking in meaningless circles in the courtyard. Their behaviour had become quite demented. We felt that our much loved five Four Tops would not cope with another winter, so as the cold weather approached, they were

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Why should you get your animal identified? Well, for one thing, since 1999 in France it's been a legal requirement for dogs older than 4 months to be identified by a tattoo or electronic chip. At the beginning of this year the obligation to have your animal identified was extended to cats older than 7 months. This only applies to cats born since 1st January 2012. (For more information see: Note in any case that when a cat or dog changes ownership it has to be identified. Failure to do so may result in a fine of up to €750. The primary practical reason for identification is, of course, to make it easier to find your animal if it's lost, stolen or has been adopted by someone else. We had a case where a woman was visited by a stray cat (left) for a few days in a row. She caught it and kept it inside. To help find the owner we printed some posters which we put up in the local shops. A few days later we had a call from a young lady who had lost her cat which closely resembled the one in the poster. She lived about 150m from the lady who had found the “stray” cat. Yes, you've guessed it: the wellmeaning lady had kidnapped the young lady's cat that was just popping out for an opportunistic meal and extra attention. However, sometimes it's not such an innocent mistake, we are aware of two cases in our town where someone has taken a ‘stray’ dog (above right)

to the Mairie, only for us to discover that it was their (near) neighbour's dog! In neither case was the animal identified and it was only by chance that the true circumstances were uncovered. Of course, as an association for the protection of animals, we are very enthusiastic about the identification of pets. Clearly it would make our job a lot easier if all pets were identified: not only would it be simpler to reunite them with their owner, but it would also reduce the number of abandoned animals. For you.... identification is not only a legal requirement and a good idea for your peace of mind, but necessary if you want to have it covered by insurance and/or get it vaccinated against rabies. Although identification can be done either by tattooing or by chip, only the chip is recognised internationally and it is the only means that allows you to get a “pet passport”. So please get your animal identified and remember to change the details with the central registry when you move. Last year we helped another association find the owners of a cat with a German id which hadn't been updated when the owners moved to France. Nos Amis Les Animaux 85480 (NALA 85480). Tel: 06 48 68 40 37 Email:

The Great Outdoors... 7th INTERNATIONAL  DAY  OF  THE  DOG SUNDAY,  22nd  APRIL  2012 SPONSORED  BY    Chez  Arffa

DOG  WALK,  Book  and  Plant  Sale Sunday,  22nd  April  2012    -­‐    St  Pardoux Interna0onal   Day  of  the   Dog  encourages  dog  owners   all   over   the   world   to   par0cipate   in   an   Interna0onal   day   of   fun   with   their   dogs;   whether   it’s   going  for   a   picnic,   having   a  party  or   just   giving   your   dogs  an  extra  big  fuss,  IDOD  is   about  spending   quality  0me   with   our  four-­‐legged   friends  and  apprecia0ng  the   giC  of  dog  ownership. To   celebrate   IDOD   day   2012,   a  dog  walk  has   been   organized   around   the  picturesque  lanes  and  tracks   of  St  Pardoux   to  raise   m u c h   n e e d e d   f u n d s   fo r   1 1 2 ca r l o ta ga l go s   w w w.   which   rescues   abandoned   Spanish   greyhounds  (galgos)  and  rehomes  them  abroad. Coffee,  teas  and  cakes  on   sale,   bring  a   picnic  lunch  (tables   &   chairs   inside)  or  dine  at  Le  Relais  de  GâSne,  St  Pardoux  (book  a  table). •Date:  Sunday,  22nd  April  2012 •Venue:  St  Pardoux  –  Foyer  Rural  (signposted  in  the  village) •Start  :me:  10.30  am •Length:  2  routes,  approximately  6  km  and  2.5  km •Dona:on:  8  euros  per  dog,  13  euros  for  2  dogs  –  rose_es  to  all   dogs  taking  part Please  request  a  Dog  Walk  Entry  Form  and  schedule  from  Beryl:   05  49  69  86  16  or  before  12th  April  2012.

Volunteers Wanted! Every year Chantonnay, Vendée, organises a four days walk which attracts hundreds of international walkers. (http:// It's a very successful and interesting event with a great international atmosphere. Unfortunately the foreign language skills of the organisation is limited, so they are looking for volunteer interpreters to keep things running smoothly. It's not demanding stuff and it doesn't really require much fluency in French, as generally you will be talking to people in your own language. Mainly it consists of pointing people in the right direction and answering basic questions on how things are organised. The event takes place on the 17th-20th May. Interpreters are mainly needed at the following times, • Tuesday 15/05 from 17h to 19h • Wednesday 16/05 from 10-12h30 & 13h30-18h (lunch provided) • Thursday 17/05 - Sunday 20/05 from 6h30 -10h   These are peak times when people are signing in for the walks. However, you would be welcome at any time on Thursday to Sunday just in case anyone has any queries.   As a volunteer you get a free T-shirt and a voucher for a free walk. The pleasure of helping and meeting interesting people from around the world (we already have Dutch, Belgians, Germans, Japanese and Americans registered) is an optional extra.   If you're interested and available please contact me, Nigel Franks, at 15

The Amateur Gardener

by Vanda Lawrence Hello again, my muddy-fingered friends. Isn't it lovely to be out in the garden again? Even if the soil is still a bit sticky at least we have been able to make a start with tidying up after the winter. The spring bulbs are beginning to bloom and our Sarcococca (Sweet Box) is in flower as I write this, sending out it's glorious fragrance sometimes it's hard to leave it to go indoors.

April’s Lunar calendar...

Full Moon:6th

1st Quarter:13th

New Moon: 21st

So now, down to business. This month, those of you with vegetable gardens can continue digging and sowing your seeds: Aubergine and Tomatoes (March-April); Celery (MarchMay); Cauliflower (March-June). Brussel Sprouts (April-May); Courgette, Melon, Pumpkin (April-May); Beetroot & Cucumber (April-June). Haricot verts can be sown any time between AprilAugust. Herbs such as Coriander should be sown in April, Basil during April/May and Origano between April/June. Artichoke plants can be planted out at the end of March/ beginning of April. They will crop between July/ September - 2 or 3 artichokes per plant in the first year and then 10-12 in following years. Those of you with Asparagus beds will be able to harvest any time now, once the spears are about 12cm long. Cut them off about 7cm beneath the soil. Stop harvesting in mid-June to allow the plant to build up again for next year. Continue work to improve tired lawns by aerating, applying spring fertilisers and, if necessary, over-seeding worn patches. Levelling can be done now too - make an 'H'-shaped cut in the turf, roll back and remove or add soil as necessary. Potatoes will be making growth now so be ready to draw soil up to protect exposed leaves from late frosts. When the ridges can be made no higher and if we are still experiencing frosts have some straw at hand ready to cover the plants overnight. This can be removed the next morning when the frost has thawed. We can prepare our hanging baskets now. Put an old saucer or aluminium pie dish as a water reservoir in the base of each basket before adding compost and planting, but if the compost becomes so dry that the water runs off it, try adding a couple of drops of mild washing-up liquid to the water - this will allow it to penetrate the surface easily. For a change, why not make a hanging ball? Use two baskets planted up with bushy plants through the sides only. When the plants have settled tie the baskets together, flat surface to flat surface - hey presto! a lovely ball of colour. Make provision for watering in the centre of the top half. That's all for now folks! Maybe I'll bump into you at one of this season's 'Fete des Plantes'. PS - our mole seems to have taken the hint - we used a sonic mole deterrent and thankfully haven't seen him lately.  Keep your fingers crossed!

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

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 16



Life on the Farm...

by Peter& Jenny Sebborn.

have flocked- excuse the pun- to our doors in the hope of bottle feeding a young vulnerable lamb. But that’s not all - we also have our first batch of chicks hatched in the incubator with a second lot already under way. Chickens always grow better when hatched early in the year as they have a longer growing season. Duck eggs are now queuing up for their chance of life. The next arrivals will be more lambs and we are trying to get Stinky, our lovely Gloucestershire Old Spot pig pregnant to give us more delightful piglets ready for the Christmas market.

Hello and welcome to Life on the farm. We are Pete and Jenny Sebborn and we moved to France to our small 5 acre farm / smallholding called La Gauteliere in Pamplie in Feb 2010. Having no previous experience in keeping animals in the UK, we did lots of research before buying our first few chickens for eggs followed by two young pigs to fatten for the freezer. Things progressed from there with a few turkeys for Christmas as well as some ducks, rabbits and sheep. We discovered that keeping animals and living the good life is ideal for us and found that our customers love our produce and free range farming methods. We hope that you will enjoy sharing our experiences in this column.

Life never stands still for a smallholder and we are already making plans for guinea fowl, more chickens and it wont be long before we need to order our free range turkey poults to raise for Christmas dinner.

Why, why, why, do we do it to ourselves? Living the life of a smallholder means having to cope with everything nature can conjure up. Take lambing for example.

Photographs by Tony Emmett.

It’s wonderful now to see all our little lambs hopping, skipping and playing out in the fields on the beautiful spring mornings but their start to life was completely different. It wasn’t such a warm and sunny start for them when they arrived unexpectedly in the early hours of the morning at the start of the cold spell at the end of January. We discovered that two of our more experienced mums Texie and Luna had both delivered twins. Three appeared fine but one seemed to be very hunched up suggesting hypothermia and did not appear to be feeding from Mum. Time to step in we thought. Initially we tried to get her to take a feed from mum as the colostrum the mums produce is so important for a good start to life. We took her inside and gave her a bottle of artificial colostrum (colostrum provides the defences that all new born animals need to fight off all the nasty bugs etc that are all around us) and a warm before returning to Mum. Poor little lamb showed no interest in feeding from mum and we really tried, so we had to resort to bottle feeding. We took the night shifts in turn setting the alarm and crawling out of bed to make up a bottle and keep the little mite going. Once we realised that we had a commitment to this young lamb, it dawned that for the next few weeks it would be a very lonely existence for a lamb on its own with no chance of developing the important social skills needed for a flock animal. So when the opportunity arose to buy another bottle fed lamb we jumped at the chance and drove 150kms for a companion. We saw the lamb in question but somehow came away with three! Unfortunately life can be cruel and one of the three did not survive the first night, despite heroic efforts from Jenny. But we must have done something right as they all grew steadily into fine lambs and two are now enjoying life as pet lambs ( no abattoir for them) with their adopted family.

We must not forget the veggie plot needs some serious attention in the coming months too! We are always happy to welcome visitors to have a look at what we do and to see if the good life is for them. Peter & Jenny Sebborn. Breeders of pigs, lambs and poultry. La Gauteliere, Pamplie. Tel: 05 49 28 38 57.

In collaboration with ‘les Jardins du Paradis’ this lively village in the Gâtine will be holding a Fete des Plantes on the 1st of May. We would like to invite keen gardeners and nature lovers to come and join us in the celebration of Le jardin des Sources, with the theme of water in the garden. There will be more than 40 exhibitors keen to pass on their advice and tricks of the trade and there will also be workshops, guided walks and talks on a variety of subjects from gardening to the local wildlife. Many of these conducted in both English and French. Food and drink will be available throughout the day with both English and French cuisine. The show starts at 9.30 until 18.00. Entry and parking is free and a timetable of events programmed throughout the day will be available on entry. So come along and join us for an enjoyable day in the beautiful region in which we live.

For further information see  

One thing we quickly realised is how popular you become when you mention bottle feeding and young lambs! People

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French Life, Food & Drink... Vive la Difference

by Gilly Hunt Easter is nearly here and we can all justifiably look forward to Summer as Spring is now well and truly in full flow. The first Vide greniers of the year were in March and now that April is upon us, I am sure there will be plenty for us all to visit. A Vide grenier is the French equivalent of a car boot sale, although there are usually no “professionals” as there now seem to be in the UK. But some of the larger ones do have Artisans showing and selling their wares as well. Each commune has a Vide grenier every year, so there is sure to be one near you most weekends. If you are not sure then check out these two websites and of course keep an eye out for posters along the roads – the French are not renowned for their marketing, but some communes are better than others. and Vide-greniers-79

Keenan’s Corner by Keenan Dominey

In September 2011, I started a course in Accountancy at Confolens. This was not my first; I opted for a “Mise à niveau” which is a year before entering a specialized school. But there are so many students who sign up for this course and only about 50 places. Students come from many different sections, for instance, general BACs or BAC professionals. This means that no one has the same knowledge and everyone has to catch up. The French system allows students to ask for a student grant, thanks to this, students are able to finance their education and sometimes if necessary rent an apartment.

As I have not yet finished this year, this is my last article at the moment, so if you would like me to write about something else or if you need more explications about the school system, please contact me by email at I will update you all with another article at the end of the school year.

One of my favourite Vide greniers and markets is in Airvault (79) over the Easter Weekend from the 7 – 9th April; there is a Vide grenier on the Sunday and a fun fair is usually there all weekend as are some of the market stalls and external bars. The weekend culminates on Easter Monday with a large market and a football tournament. It is a great day with lots of music, food and drink – a really good family day out. It is all based in ‘upper Airvault’ and I will certainly be there catching up with friends and neighbours. When moving to France it is not always easy to make friends and meet people when you are of a “certain” age. It is much easier if you have young children as there are endless opportunities for meeting new people at school, or at clubs and of course you already have one thing in common – children. However, for the more mature people who have left their children behind, it can be a bit of a dilemma. My advice would be to join in any local activity and do not worry about it if you do not think your French is good enough, it soon will be! Or why not start a book club? I started a book club with a friend a couple of years ago and we now have quite a few members and have never advertised, but somehow the word has spread. We meet up once a month for a discussion on a previously agreed book; have some lunch and then a good natter! ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ Magazine has lots of information regarding clubs and activities, so do not be lonely, get out there and make new friends. I would like to wish you all a very Happy Easter, and whilst I can fully appreciate that Easter without a Cadbury Chocolate Easter Egg, or at the very least a Cadbury Cream egg does seem rather sad, there are plenty of English Shops if you should wish to buy one, or why not try the French versions?

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Finally I would like to mention a date for your diary: 1st May when there is the annual Vide grenier and Brocante at Moncontour, Vienne – it is the largest in the area and well worth a visit. Vive la difference.

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Being a true French Foodie I will admit that the wine and food (especially the cheese and boulangerie fresh croissants) helped us to make our decision to m o v e t o F r a n c e . However, after nearly 8 years of living the dream, here are 10 reasons why I will never be a true French foodie.  1) Breakfast - a typical French breakfast is quite small; a bowl of coffee served with a buttered baguette and jam or a croissant.  Now I LOVE croissants, but I prefer my breakfast to be a little bit more substantial.  I am not talking about the English fry-up, which does nothing for me, but a steamy bowl of porridge when it’s cold or shredded wheat with fresh fruit when it’s not is just perfect - I’m a fibre girl! 2) Chocolate Cereal - it can be difficult to buy cereal without added chocolate - again, I LOVE chocolate, but not for breakfast. 3) Coffee Bowl Bread - I will never, be able to dunk a baguette into a ‘bowl’ of coffee - a breakfast ritual for the French.  Coffee, in my opinion, is best served small and black and the only thing I dunk in it is a square of 70% dark chocolate.  4) The Daily Bread - much as I love the freshly baked white baguettes, I just can’t eat them with every meal.  I’m a fibre girl and therefore am also the proud owner of a bread machine that is used regularly to produce delicious wholemeal loaves. 5) The Cooked Lunch - French families regularly return home at lunchtime for a full 2 or 3 course cooked meal how they are organised enough to have a cooked meal ready for 12.00 is beyond me.  Cooked lunch here is a soup.


Easter is coming so how about something special. Here is a recipe for a starter a cut above the rest... Noix St. Jacques (Scallops) Grilled with Parma Ham (Serves 4) Ingredients : • 16 Noix St. Jacques (Scallops) • Approx. 150g parma ham • Black pepper For the marinade : • 2 large garlic cloves • A few sprigs each of fresh basil, coriander and parsley • half a lemon • 3 tablespoons virgin olive oil To make the marinade, peel the garlic cloves and crush them into a bowl. Rinse and dry the herbs, reserve a few sprigs of basil for a garnish, then chop the rest and add to the bowl. Squeeze the lemon juice into the bowl, add the olive oil. Stir until gently mixed. Rinse and dry the scallops and add them to the bowl. Leave to marinate at room temperature for 15 minutes. Prepare grill to high. When the scallops are ready, gather a slice of ham into a ruffle, thread it onto a metal skewer, then thread on a scallop. Repeat three times, finishing with ham. Prepare three more skewers the same way. Lay the skewers across the grill pan, baste them with some of the remaining marinade and grill for 5 minutes, turning and basting them again halfway through. They are ready when the ham is crisp and the scallops are just cooked. Serve the skewers on a platter of rocket and/or mache. Spoon over the pan juices, then top with black pepper and sprigs of basil. Tester’s Tip : Suggest double the marinade. It was gorgeous and there wasn’t enough of it. If you have a favourite recipe why not send it by e-mail to marked “recipe”. If you would like any information about the work of Cancer Support Deux Sèvres, please contact June Searchfield on 05 49 64 59 96 or e-mail


Metric/imperial liquid

6) Tripe and Andouillette – both considered a delicacy here. I like the idea of not wasting anything from an animal killed for food, however I find it impossible to eat either of these!


1fl oz


12fl oz


2fl oz


15fl oz


3fl oz


18fl oz

7) Late Night Eating - following the large lunchtime meal the French will eat again quite late in the evening. No matter how large the lunch I’ve managed to rustle up I need to eat before 8 o’clock a) as I’m hungry and b) because after then it’s just too late to eat!


4fl oz




6fl oz

1 litre

35fl oz


7fl oz

1.5 litres


8) The Starter - most French main meals will be 2 or 3 small courses. Whilst I think this is a great idea I find it really difficult to coordinate a meal with a starter; there is either an enormous gap between starter and main or the main has ruined while we eat the starter. 9) Marmite - you either love it or hate it, or, if you’re French you just don’t get it - I LOVE it! 10) I’m English - the very fact that I’m not French means that even if I manage to prepare, cook and serve it like they would and at the correct time of day, it would never truly be considered French!  C’est la vie et bon apetit! Written by Jacqueline Brown. Follow Jacqueʼs blog at

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 19

Real Ale French Style, Brewed in Coulon with Marais Barley. At the beginning of the year, a Brewery gave a new lease of life to an old dairy building in the touristic village of Coulon. The Brasserie du Marais Poitevin was born to accompany and enrich the regional fare. Claude Thiery, a Master Brewer with 25 years of experience in many French “Brasseries“, brought all his know-how and equipment from his previous small enterprise to start afresh with a bigger production and to give the lucky Deux Sèvriens something to look forward to! The Taste of an Award Winning Nectar from the Only Brewery in the County. To create the pure malt real ales, two copper brewing vats of 600 litres each and six stainless steel 1200 litre fermentation tanks are expertly monitored day and night. The controlled and gradual fermentation of the malts ensures the release of a natural, light and finely balanced sparkling bubble in each brew. The more Classical Ales undergo a cooler fermentation temperature of 8˚C, but the stronger Abbey style Beers, as brewed by the monks, are kept at a warmer 20˚C. 100% Organic, Non-Pasturised and Pure Malted, these beers are for connoisseurs of Real Ale. The barley is mainly supplied by local farmers and the hops are harvested in the Marais, where they naturally grow wild. Some say that Dutch workers brought hops here in Napoleonic times, when they helped to improve the waterways and drainage of the vast marshland. The varied choice of bottled beers with caps or wired cork tops includes Belgian style Monks’ Beers 8% alcohol and seasonal Christmas Brews. Claude’s future plans are to produce Artisanal Lemonade and an Angelica Beer to celebrate the locally grown plant, already used in cake making and liqueurs. • The “Blonde” Ale 5% is light with a rich malted aroma. The wild hops from the Marais give it a slight bitter, dry note with a lively final touch. • The “Wheat” Ale 4.5% is very refreshing and thirst quenching. This White Beer has a gentle coriander note with a lemon and spicy tone. • The “Amber” Ale 5.5 % is brewed from a blend of 7 malts which give it a distinctive malted taste and its red head colour. Soft and fruity, followed by a strong bitter note with a hint of caramel and a final flavour of peat. In 2011 it was awarded a Bronze Medal at the Paris Agricultural show, the only prize received in the Amber Beer class. • The “Brown” Ale 4.5% brewed with roasted malted barley has a dark treacle colour with a striking black coffee aroma and a surprisingly light final touch. Claude and his wife Isabelle offer everyone a warm welcome at their Brewery Boutique, where you can book a visit and sample their special beverages. Cooking courses are also available to learn how to prepare various dishes using beer as an ingredient.

Written by Anthony Kusmirek ~ Email:

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Reader’s Restaurant Reviews.

It can sometimes be difficult to decide where to dine out for that special occasion or where to take visitors, so this column may help....we would love to hear from you if you have recently enjoyed a good meal in the local area. A good all round review including prices is ideal. Thank you to Jo Rowe, for this restaurant review. La Parth de Boeuf, 79200, St Germain de Longue Chaume. We have spent many a lunchtime in this very accessible restaurant on the D19 Clessé to Parthenay road. It is well frequented by local artisans, couples and others both French and British. During the week the menu at 11 euros gives a two entrée choice, usually 3 plat de jour, fromage and a choice of 3 desserts, wine and coffee. At weekends it is open for lunch and evening meals at a cost of 16 euros with a wide menu choice, fromage or dessert, excluding coffee. We have taken family, friends and two large groups of 20 people, and for the excellent service and value for money, I can highly recommend this venue. It is advisable to book for weekends and evenings as many locals prefer to visit here rather than entertain at home.

If you have positive restaurant experiences to share, we would love to print them here. Please email to:

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April’s Recipes...

by Mark Addy

Warm Salad of Jerusalem Artichoke and Smoked Bacon I’m sure we’ve all seen them in the supermarket, but how many of us know how to prepare them? Ingredients: • 450g Jerusalem artichokes (TOPAMBOURS) • 1 packet smoked bacon lardons • 4 handfuls of crisp lettuce leaves of your choice • 6 tbsp walnut oil • 6 tbsp light oil (arachide/sunflower) • 3/4 tsp Dijon mustard • 2 tbsp lemon juice Method: 1. Mix the last four ingredients with a whisk to make a dressing, season with salt. 2. Tear the washed and drained salad leaves into bite sized pieces and set aside in a large bowl. 3. Cook the artichokes as you would potatoes (bring to the boil in cold salted water for approx. 20 mins until tender). Meanwhile fry the lardons in a hot dry frying pan until crisp and set them aside in the pan. 4. When the artichokes are cooked, peel them by sliding the skins off (no need to be too fussy). Thickly slice and mix into the reheated lardons and then dress with half of the vinaigrette (last four ingredients). 5. Dress the salad leaves with the remaining half. 6. Pile the leaves into four small bowls and spoon over the bacon and artichokes. Serves four as a starter. Prunes in Armagnac • 250g AGEN prunes • 250ml Armagnac • 6 tbsp granulated sugar • 4 tbsp water • 1 tsp vanilla extract Method: 1. Pit the prunes and cut in half, then place in a small saucepan with the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. 2. Remove from the heat, cover with a lid or cling film and leave to steep for 24 hours. Wonderful served with vanilla ice cream. They will store well in a screw-top jar in the fridge. If you haven’t tried Agen Prunes, please do - they’re nothing like those things we used to get for school dinners!

Hard and red, fat and white, smelly and sweet Picture the scene. A smart restaurant, the perfect companion, a low murmuring of fellow diners. The starter was divine, my dear, the entrée delectable. Jules, your quietly efficient waiter, hovers. But wait. His blue eyes which seemed so welcoming just two hours ago are now icy, sardonic. Cue screeching violins à la Hitchcock shower scene: the cheese board test where approximately 257 knobs of oozing pungency are displayed for the sole purpose of making your palms sweat and your brain turn to the crème brulée that now seems a million miles away through a minefield of congealed dairy produce.

by John Sherwin

In this highly pressurised environment, your hand takes on a life of its own, pointing here there and everywhere like a deranged tic-tac man. You might get lucky and hit the jackpot combo-wise. You might be past caring. Either way, as with most thorny issues in life, it comes down to ‘which wine?’. So, start with the wine. You’ve been on white and want to continue with it. You’ll be looking for the fatty, squidgy cheeses – brie, camembert, goat. Why? Because most whites will have enough acidity to cut through the fat. Sauvignon blanc is good, also chardonnay without too much buttery oak. Chenin from the Loire, excellent, or if you want to push the boat out, a viognier from the northern Rhone (Condrieu). The tannin in reds gets swamped by fat, but comes into its own with hard, sharp cheeses like old cheddar or tomme de savoie. Think of a decent Bordeaux (Burgundy not heavy enough) or Syrah from the Rhone. Sweet dessert wines like Sauternes are perfect with rocquefort or any blue cheese. The salty tanginess of the cheese is softly enveloped and told in velvet tones not to be a naughty boy. Port is of course a classic, as it is with hard cheeses, but for all its sterling service over the centuries should never be a simple default. John Sherwin. French Wine Tours Email:,

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French Adventures... Six years ago, almost to the day, Johanna and I upped sticks from the UK and have since been running and developing ‘Camping De Courte Vallee’ in Airvault (better known locally as ‘the English Camping’). The purchase was as well considered and researched as most of our projects (not at all) and was virtually an impulse buy! As we were living in Southern England (Sussex) and Johanna, through her involvement in the Parish Council, had advance warning of the planned housing expansion in the region, we were both of a mind to find somewhere to live with more space. As I am from Scotland and Johanna is from ‘Geordie Land’ you may understand our increasing claustrophobia! Having arranged to go and look at some properties in the far north of Scotland, the Caravan Club magazine landed on our doormat - and this is when the trouble started!!! Browsing through said publication, we came across an advertisement for a caravan site for sale in France and, impetuous as ever, we phoned up. Just a few months later, here we were; having sold the family home, bought a small flat in the UK, and given up a lucrative pharmaceutical recruitment business. The move itself was a logistical nightmare; we moved the contents of a 5 bedroom family home into a 2 bedroom flat in the UK and a 2 bedroom lodge (already furnished) on our new caravan site. If only we had been aware of Vide Greniers at that time we might have got a bit back on the excess furniture that we gave away prior to our move(s). As it happens, we could have used it anyway, as we bought a ‘proper‘ house in France last year! Our optimistic arrival in France has turned out to be one of our better life choices although, as many of you will readily understand, not without its frustrations and difficulties! One of the underestimated obstacles was our linguistic capabilities. Having managed perfectly well on holiday in France for many years, we were somewhat taken aback by the need to learn a whole new vocabulary involving, among other things, drains, balance sheets, advertising and cremation of animals (no kidding!). The process of becoming ’Frenchified’ has been an insidious process with sometimes uproarious events acting as live tutorials for us... and we have both enjoyed it immensely. We can now have conversations with professionals and social discourse with our neighbours that neither of us would have believed possible. Our most bizarre social experience was becoming ‘godparents’ to a puppy the size of a small pony, which involved processing along the street chanting Ave Maria, with a group of neighbours. Once at the home of the bemused ‘parents’ of the soon to be christened dog, Flash, (they also have a donkey called Pouffe and yes, we have told them!) we were all treated to cake, presents and, of course, much wine and a meal lasting several hours! This is just one example of the wonderful, if unusual, welcome we have had from the local ‘Airvaudais’ and I am proud to be ‘Godfather’ to Flash! Running a Campsite/Bar/Restaurant is certainly demanding during the height of the season, but I have to say that, however long the hours, the work rarely seems ’hard’! Certainly not in the way that driving round the M25 dressed in a ‘business suit’ to attend a ‘business meeting’ does! Not all has been ‘plain sailing’ of course – in fact it’s been quite a steep learning curve at times, but the upshot is that from being a British Caravan Club style, check-in, check-out camp site, we have now become (much to the delight of the local French community) established ‘restauranteurs’, providing a very different sort of relaxed venue where they can enjoy a meal or just a pint of English beer on a sultry afternoon. We do not restrict our clientele to campsite guests (yes, that is a plug for our restaurant and bar!).... and we open again at Easter!

One of the greatest joys in running a campsite is the diversity of clients who come to stay. We have had Lords and Ladies, tattooed motorcyclists, prison warders from the Maze prison and even a sex therapist, but when they are on site they are all ‘campers’ and treat each other as such. We do tend to appeal to a slightly older age group – someone once described our site as an ‘old folks’ home in a field’!!!! Well, for me, being slightly younger than many of our ‘regulars’ has proved to be a real rounding off of my education in life. I have been inspired by the fortitude of many campers in their 70’s and 80’s and cheered by their ability to keep enjoying life, sometimes under less than ideal circumstances and often with significant health issues. We have shared their joys and their sadnesses and I know that Johanna and I feel privileged to be allowed into their lives. The camp site apart, France has proved to be all that we had hoped for. Every trip back to the UK reminds us why it was that we chose to leave in the first place! Perhaps it is a function of our increasing years that we, and others like us, are so taken with the pace and space of life in rural France. Having said that, Johanna and I have had more speeding tickets (plus one for jumping a red light!), in the last 6 years than we had in the UK in the previous 20! Three weeks ago we finally moved into our old fermette on the banks of the River Dive, complete with our current complement of 3 dogs and 15 cats (animal rescue being our second occupation!). The house will take a few years to turn into the ‘Playboy Mansion’ but as long as we both get up in the morning without thinking ‘oh no not again’ we will continue to enjoy running our campsite and meeting old and new friends every year. There is no hurry... we are in France after all.

Alistair & Johanna Ross, Camping de Courte Vallee 8 Rue de Courte Vallee, 79600 Airvault. Tel: 05 49 64 70 65 ~

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Motoring... Retro Quattro

by Helen Tait-Wright As the spring buds push out from the trees with the arrival of the sun, so we think about some of our more cossetted cars pushing their noses out from under their winter covers and making their way out of the garage. One of these is our Audi Ur Quattro, Chris’s “baby”! This car has some emotional significance for us as we met as a result of it, but historically the Audi Quattro will be remembered for being the car that brought Four Wheel Drive in a road car to the masses, and for its awesome performances in Group B rallying, often piloted by the “Grande Dame” of rallying, Michèle Mouton. It is interesting to note that the first combustion engined car with a four wheel drive system was the Spyker 60 HP, a two seater sports car presented back in 1903 by Dutch brothers Jacobus and Hendrik-Jan Spijker of Amsterdam. In the intervening years before the Quattro hit the market in 1980, many off road and utility vehicles used the four wheel drive system to good effect and although other manufacturers such as Jensen, AMC and Subaru flirted with the idea in road cars, they did not have the impact in the mass market of the Quattro. The word quattro is derived from the Italian word for "four". As the name is also used by Audi for any fourwheel-drive version of their models, the original Quattro model is commonly referred to as the Ur-Quattro - the "Ur being German for "primordial", "original", or "first of its kind". The Quattro road car not only had four wheel drive, but this was teamed with a turbocharged engine and the characteristic flared wheel arches distinguished it visually from the Audi Coupé on which it was based. For rally enthusiasts the Quattro is legendary, and the trill of the turbo waste gate opening when in full flight is an unmistakable sound. The car was born at the start of the Group B era, a rallying category which gave manufacturers free rein to experiment with new design and technology and no ceiling on the cars’ power outputs. As the 80’s progressed the Quattro rally car became wider, shorter and more extreme, with the final versions in the 1986 season producing 591 bhp. Although the Quattro’s life in International rallying ended with the end of the Group B era in 1986, the car went on to compete successfully in other disciplines, and some great drivers have been associated with the car; Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist, Walter Röhrl and of course the great Michèle Mouton. We have owned 4 Quattros in all, but the current car, an ex UK Audi Team Course car was discovered by Chris in a scrap yard 22 years ago, and after much TLC is now resplendent in its original team colours, although we have abandoned the stripped-out rally interior in favour of something more comfortable!!! There is only one word to describe the car and the driving experience you get in a Quattro. Awesome.


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Getting Out & About...


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A-Z of the Communes of the Deux-Sèvres.

by Sue Burgess

Boisserolles Boisserolles is a small commune on the edge of Chizé forest. Its paths, its old farms and its situation mean that it is very quiet. Boisserolles lives from agriculture and its farms. The nearest towns are Beauvoir-Sur-Niort and Saint Martin d'Augé. In 2007 there were 48 inhabitants. La Boissière-en-Gâtine La Boissière-en-Gâtine is in the canton of Mazières en Gatine but in fact geographically speaking it is nearer to Allonne. St Martin's church, which was restored in the 18th century, is a Romanesque building. The door dates from the 11th century. The bell tower was built in the 17th century. The church has been on the list of historical monuments since 1929. During the revolution, Louis-Hercule Terrasson, the local priest, swore allegiance to the Constitution. He was attacked by the Vendéens who did not accept his republican opinions. He defended himself and managed to fight them off. Later he abandoned his parish and fled to Champdeniers. However, he regretted having resigned and took up his functions again. He was still priest in La Boissière in 1798. La Boissière is the home of the Maison Noble (mansion house) of Puy Robin and there was, at one time, a commandery which later belonged to the charitable order of Jerusalem. Situated between Puymonnier and la Roche-Marot this place was, according to local legends, the meeting place for little elves called “fadets.” During an evening party a shepherdess crushed the «Fadet»'s big toe with her spindle because he was getting on her nerves. Borcq sur Airvault Along with Soulièvres, Borcq sur Airvault has been an associate commune of Airvault since 1973. The church dates from the 19th century. Bougon Bougon is a commune in the canton of La Mothe-SaintHéray. The economic activity of the commune depends on farming and on tourism with the visitors to the museum of Pre-history. The region of Bougon has been inhabited for a long time. The megaliths which can be found there are a witness to this. The commune of Bougon is the cradle of prehistory, in particular the neolithic period. The dolmen of Pierre Levée, on the road to Exoudun and the tumulus situated on the road to Pamproux are the proof of this. The necropolis of Bougon dates from 4700 BC which makes it the oldest in Europe. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The museum of Pre-history built near the tumulus. The museum is open all year except for January. You can make your own way round or have a guided visit. The entrance fee is free the first Saturday of the month. The museum is accessible for handicapped people. For the sight impaired a guide is available in Braille. Audioguides are available in several languages, including English. The museum proposes the visit of 5 tumuli. There are also different rooms presenting different aspects of pre-historic life, reconstructions of a pre-historic home for example, and a botanical garden.

Bouillé Loretz Bouillé Loretz is first mentioned in Chambon's maps in 1227 under the name of Bollei Lorez. The spelling Bouillé Loretz first appeared in 1585. The inhabitants of Bouillé Loretz who number about 1000, are known as Bouillavins or Bouillavines. The commune of Bouillé Loretz is situated in the NorthEast of the Deux Sèvres, at the border with Maine-etLoire. It is 15 km from Thouars, Montreuil-Bellay and Doué-La-Fontaine, and about 30 km from Saumur or from Bressuire. Bouillé Loretz is the wine capital of the Deux-Sèvres, specialising in «Anjou» AOC wines; Anjou white, Anjou rosé, Loire rosé, Cabernets and Anjou red. The river Argenton flows through the commune. The commune is crossed by the ancient tramway route from Argenton Château to MontreuilBellay. The old station house at the edge of the town centre is the last witness to this activity and is different from the simple station houses in Ulcot, Breuilsous-Argenton and Bouillé SaintPaul. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • Partly destroyed twice during the 14th and 15th century, the parish church was partly rebuilt in the 17th century. It was completely restored between 1894 and 1901. It has however conserved some older parts dating from the end of the Middle Ages. • The privately owned Benedictine Abbey of Saint Léonard de Ferrières is isolated at the northwest of the town at the edge of the wood. The Abbey was founded in 979, under Louis le Débonnaire as a Priory. The Abbey archives state that the religious establishment was founded by Geoffroy de Doué. Part of the ruined church and a dwelling house still remain today. • La Chapelle de Puy-Pirault is 2 km west of the town. The commandery of Puy-Pirault depended on the commandery of the Lande de Verché. The only thing remaining is the chapel which can hardly be seen from the public road. • The windmill of Roches appeared on the 1814 land register. It would seem to have been built at the end of the 18th or beginning of the 19th century. The windmill is situated at the lieu-dit of Les Roche about 700m to the west of the town. This type of windmill is typical of the Angevine region. The moulin des Roches is the only example which remains in the Argentonnais area.

Please return to this section next month to see the continuation of ʻA-Z of the Communes of the Deux-Sèvres.ʼ 27

Communications... How to speed up your PC-Part 7 continued. Last month we looked at Windows Start up, and only allowing Windows to “Boot” with programs you need and covered three of the five items in this subject, this month I will finish Part 7 with section 4. The System Registry and 5. The Task Scheduler. I also suggested that any reader who decides to try any of these adjustments should create a System Restore Point, before proceeding (detailed in ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ Article, October 2011).

To find this folder: 1. 2. 3. 4.

Click on the Start menu, then click My Computer Under Hard Disk Drives, click Local Disk (C:) Double-click the Windows folder Double-click the Tasks folder

The folder will contain a list of tasks that are scheduled to run automatically. Drag and drop the unwanted task shortcuts onto the desktop or a different folder (You can delete them at a later time, if you want). Tasks you remove from this folder will not run automatically in the future, unless you set them up to do so again.

I must caution you that instructions in section 4, if not conducted correctly can prevent your PC from working properly and are only recommended for those of you who really understand what you are doing and deleting. Indeed if you have had success with items 1 to 3 of part 7 you do not need to consider using the System Registry option.

You really only need to use one of the options/methods in section 7 to prevent programs from starting when Windows Starts-up, my preference is to use the easiest method described last month, section - 1 The Startup Folder under the Start Menu. This is because I can very easily undo any changes that I do not like the result of. I strongly advise you to do the same.

4. The System Registry. If you make an error in the System Registry, you may not be able to undo it.

I cannot emphasise how important it is that you read everything in the section, especially the warnings and cautions, before you begin and then only proceed if you are totally sure of what you are doing.

To edit the system registry: 1.

For XP - Click on the Start Menu, then click on “Run”, and type “regedit” into the text box; For Windows 7, Click on the Start Orb and type "regedit" into the search textbox Click OK Navigate to the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ SOFTWARE \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \ Run folder Right-click on the desired item to select it, press Delete, and confirm your action Close the System Registry and reboot your computer.

Finally, as I explained in the February issue of The DSM, this series of articles is nearly over and I am looking for other items to publish that will help/interest you. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know and I will research and provide articles in the months to come. If they are too limited in their scope I will endeavour to do some research on the topic just for you and send you some information. Simply send me an email to Next month, Part 8 Defragmentation.

If you are not sure exactly what you are deleting DO NOT DELETE IT. I prefer to use MSCONFIG as detailed last month in section 3, as it achieves the same effect without deleting an item, simply by de-selecting it. At least this way you may reselect it.

Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (See advert below for more information).

2. 3. 4. 5.

5. The Task Scheduler The final option to prevent unwanted programs from starting when Windows does, is to remove them from the Windows Task Scheduler.

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 28

France Telecom English Customer Services:- 09 69 36 39 00

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EDF (Electricity Provider) English Helpline: 05 62 16 49 08 or 08 10 12 61 26

Building & Renovation... Power in France... The first thing that people find when they have a house in France is the quirkiness of the power supply. It trips at the most inopportune moment, normally whist cooking dinner. The usual problem is the capacity of the supply to the house.

With MS Electrique there is the experience of 40 years in the trade, in both domestic and commercial installations, all qualifications, insurances and references are willingly supplied and advice is only a phone call away.

I will explain; in England virtually all houses have a similarly sized supply and your standing charge is set and is the same for everyone else being supplied by the same company. In France, you choose the size (puissance) of your supply and are charged accordingly. The size is done in 3KW ranges. The normal being 6 or 9 KW, the maximum to a domestic property being 12KW unless there are exceptional circumstances. Anything more than that requires 3 phase. People will tell you that 3 phase is more expensive but it’s not, the switchgear tends to be, but that’s a different matter. Obviously the higher the supply to your house, the higher the standing charge. Once you have established how much you have available you will know how many appliances you can have on at the same time. Don’t forget the water heater, it sits in the background and keeps quietly working, normally about 2.5KW. Another problem is if you require alterations and finding the right person for the job. There are many people living here who claim to be something they are not and you should check everything. It’s possible to check a Siret Number but that doesn’t give you the entire story, it just tells you what activity they have registered as! Ask for proof of qualifications; some have English qualifications that consist of a 1 or 2 week course (for instance ‘Part P of the English Building Regulations’). This doesn’t make someone an electrician, it just means they have done the course. Also be aware of those that are unwilling to give a proper Devis. Any legitimate electrician will be happy to provide this document, which of course is legally binding. Also I have heard of “so called artisans” frightening people about the state of the wiring in their property!

ARTISANS & TRADESMEN... Do you have any top tips you can share with our readers? If so, we would love to include them in this section! Please email to:

If you are concerned, get another opinion, it costs nothing.

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~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 30

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. 31

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 32


For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website 33


VOCABULARY ~ Electricity act as earth.......................... faire masse (v) adapter................................. fadapteur (m) aerial.................................... antenne (f) to blow a fuse....................... fondre un fusible (v) bulb...................................... ampoule (f) / lampe (f) cable conduit........................ baguette (f) cable, mains......................... câble de distribution (m) circuit.................................... circuit (m) circuit breaker..................... coupe-circuit (m) / disjoncteur (m) consumption.......................... dépense (f) control switch...................... interrupteur de contrôle (m) copper.................................. cuivre (m) cordless................................ sans fil (adj) current.................................. courant (m) to cut off the power............. couper le courant (v)

fuse box................................. high voltage........................... junction box........................... light switch............................ live......................................... main switch........................... mains voltage........................ socket.................................... solar panel............................. switch.................................... terminal.................................. wattage.................................. wire, live................................ wire, neutral.......................... wiring.....................................

boite à fusibles (f) haute tension (f) boite de dérivation (f) interrupteur (m) actif -ive (adj) / phase (f) interrupteur différentiel (m) tension du secteur (f) prise (f) absorbeur (m) interrupteur (m) / bouton (m) borne (f) puissance (f) fil de phase (m) fil neutre (m) câblage (m)

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Business, Finance & Property... Ask Amanda.

As the mornings get lighter when taking Alexandra into college, I realise that another year has flown by. To many, each year that passes brings us one step closer to retirement and being able to further enjoy our French adventure.

Working and living in France brings different factors to bear than being in the UK and without careful consideration and planning these can result in your pension being lower than anticipated. I often get asked to help people understand what their pension position is and how they get best manage retirement plans in France. Here are some of the areas we discuss: • UK state pensions • Work & other private pensions • French retirement options (including returning to the UK) • Inheritance • Increasing life expectancy • Property and other assets as a pension pot • Paying tax on your pensions (how & where) Having left the UK, you may not have paid sufficient National Insurance (“NI”) contributions or if self-employed, paid a different NI class to qualify for a full state pension. You may have pension pots from working at different companies and having moved to France want an opportunity to understand how these will mature and whether they can be better put to work for your retirement plans. Inheritance issues and any property you are thinking of using to supplement pension income is also worth noting. Finally, how and where you pay tax on your pensions can be discussed to ensure that the tax you pay is as low as possible. If you are living and working in France and have not considered your retirement plans, perhaps you would like to drop into La Grande Galerie, Civray on a Tuesday morning or email me through “Ask Amanda” and I would be happy to help.


If you have a question for Amanda, please send an email to:


We shall select the most helpful questions and answers to be printed here in future issues.



THANK YOU to everyone who responded to our recent appeal for a week’s free holiday accommodation for injured British servicemen and women and their families. We have had some outstandingly generous offers in this area and beyond, ranging from luxury gîtes with pools, fishing lakes etc., to caravans and camping pitches.   The relevant information on all the offers has been forwarded to help for Heroes in London, and we are now awaiting enquiries from prospective holiday-makers.


There is no deadline for making an offer of holiday accommodation. If you would like to do so, please contact us on 0549 959276 or email: Thank you.

Amanda Johnson, The Spectrum IFA Group. Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 Email:

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

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 35


Latest Tax Changes In France by Bill Blevins, Financial Correspondent, Blevins Franks. Here we go again. Last year we had four rectified Finance Bills for 2011, on top of the original one, and now the French government has already published a supplementary Finance Bill for 2012. What tax changes do we have this time? First of all, a change that affects most people is an increase in the rate of social charges applied on investment income from 13.5% to 15.5%. “Investment income” includes bank interest, dividends, capital gains, annuities, assurance vie contracts etc. Where the social charges are deducted at source, the 15.5% rate applies to income received from 1st July 2012. However, where they are not deducted at source and so they are paid in arrears after you submit your tax return, the increase is retrospective to 1st January this year. A new tax on financial transactions will then be introduced from 1st August 2012, at a rate of 0.1%. It will apply to share purchases, including high frequency trading and credit default swap (CDS) transactions. It does not apply to bond trading or to ordinary share purchases by savers, or to employee share schemes. The standard rate of VAT will increase from 19.6% to 21.2% with effect from 1st October 2012. The Bill also introduces measures to help the fight against tax evasion, such as increasing the penalties levied on undeclared offshore funds and the time limit for tax investigations. These tax measures don’t come into effect until after the elections, so it’s possible a change of government will bring in other measures. For example, François Hollande has said that he would introduce a higher rate of income tax of 45% for income over €150,000 and 75% on people who earn more than €1 million a year. For advice on taxation and tax planning in France speak to a wealth manager like Blevins Franks. Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals must take personalised advice. To keep in touch with the latest developments in the offshore world, check out the latest news on our website

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 36


Financial Solutions for your life in France David Hardy, Regional manager in Poitou-Charente and Limousin of Siddalls France, explains how they help British citizens living in France. From taking early retirement to starting a new business adventure, from improving the quality of your life to simply a change of lifestyle, the staff at Siddalls France has heard all the reasons why people choose to come and settle in France – and the Deux-Sèvres is no exception. With its quiet, timeless villages and its rolling countryside the Deux-Sèvres has become a popular area to put down roots whilst offering easy transport links back to the UK. Feeling lost? However, not everything may be as straight forward as you thought it would be. Many of our clients come to us frustrated by excessive bureaucracy, complicated tax rules and trying to understand the French forced succession laws – and these are just a few examples! Moreover, trying to get to grips with all of the technical and legal language in French can leave you not knowing which way to turn. Guiding you through the issues Living in France will inevitably have an impact on the way you manage your finances since taxation, inheritance, pension and investment planning take on a whole new meaning. Siddalls France have fifteen years’ experience in providing financial advice to expatriates in France. Their bespoke service has been designed to make managing your finances as plain sailing as possible, and every year, they help hundreds of people, all with different needs in terms of tax, inheritance, pension and investment planning.

Siddalls can provide you with assistance on: • Taxation - they can maximise your benefits and minimise your taxes • The French inheritance system – they can ensure your estate is distributed in accordance to your wishes and French inheritance laws • Pensions advice and managing your money for your retirement - they can ensure that your pension arrangements work for you in France. • Savings and investment – their investment management services provide peace of mind that your portfolio is regularly monitored

As part of the Siddalls group, Siddalls France also retains access to specialised advice on UK issues such as pension planning, which is fully regulated in the UK by the Financial Services Authority. They can also plan to give you maximum flexibility for your investments and pension planning in case of a possible return to the UK in the future. All of our staff are bilingual and receive regular training to ensure they keep up to date with the ever changing rules and regulations. They are there to provide up to date information and deliver British standards of trust, loyalty and a supportive on-going service. Siddalls France are fully regulated by the French authorities and have built a reputation based on trust with people who have relocated to France over the years. We work independently of any financial institution so are able to provide impartial advice. Finally any initial meeting is without obligation and in the strictest of confidence. If you wish to review and discuss your own financial planning requirements in more detail, please contact David on 05 56 34 75 51. You can also visit their website and download their free help sheets at

David Hardy, Regional Manager of the Poitou-Charente and Limousin joined Siddalls in 1999. He is there to provide support and up-to-date information on any issues that may affect your finances when living in France. He is able to explain and identify problems in a language you will understand, identify any problem areas that need to be addressed and suggest personalised solutions.

The things David does on a day-to-day basis include advising clients on tax, inheritance and investment planning. He helps his clients to integrate their finances in France so that they pay less tax on their savings, helps them gain additional sources of income, if required, from such savings and ensure that their money is passed on according to their inheritance wishes.

French based and independent Financial Advisers, Siddalls, are there to not only explain, but to provide support and solutions on how to make your finances work to your advantage when integrating your money into the French fiscal system. Their advisers in France regularly help their clients to understand French succession laws and manage investments to ensure that they avoid the pitfalls of the French tax system and minimise the risk of exchange rate fluctuations. Siddalls’ expertise As part of a large UK financial services group with offices in both countries, Siddalls have a full understanding of both the French and UK tax systems. Siddalls France’s position as a French company gives them unique access to a full range of French investment services, where appropriate. In the field of inheritance planning, they can help you mitigate French inheritance rules and tax liabilities in both countries.

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: 37


France is more affordable than you think!

by Peter Elias.

There is increasing evidence that buyers are returning to their favoured overseas markets of France & Spain, keen to take advantage of the discounted property prices. They are currently being assisted by the £ trading above the 1.20 Euro rate and fears that the Eurozone would collapse have now been eased. Recently 800 Euro zone banks have tried to replicate America’s recent success in rising consumer confidence and borrowed 530 billion Euros in the largest ECB liquidity operation of its kind. N.B. This is not a Greek style bailout. This is a growth stimulus, which should boost the property market as banks start lending again. It is worth noting that the USA initiated a similar scheme last year and since the start of 2012 America has:

Advertise your private house sale here... From 10€ per month Send details by email to:

• Reduced unemployment by 250,000 people. • Consumer borrowing is near a 10 year high. • The DOW Jones has breached the 13,000 mark for first time since 2008. • US property prices have risen by 4.3%. • US GDP is expected to increase by 3% • New build property is up 9.9% when compared to the same period in 2011 • US Stock market has experienced its best quarter since 1998. These figures are in complete contrast to the storm of negative media in the UK and Europe which has sapped consumer confidence to the extent that potential buyers are tuning off and walking away from fantastic buying opportunities. Fortunately a lot of professional investors feel the recent surge in positive US data coupled with the boom in US property prices and the 5% drop in Gold is proof that the USA has “turned a corner”. As the saying goes “when America sneezes the world catches a cold”. If you are a cash buyer you won’t get a better opportunity to buy than the one today! Professional investors and representatives from Scandinavia, Russia, China and America are already buying. Peter Elias (Agent Commercial) With thanks to William Smyth , Trading Development Executive, Foreign Currency Direct PLC. (See advert at top of page).

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The Deux-Sevres Monthly April 2012  

Free, monthly, English language magazine for the Deux-Sevres and surrounding areas.

The Deux-Sevres Monthly April 2012  

Free, monthly, English language magazine for the Deux-Sevres and surrounding areas.