The Deux-Sèvres Monthly - December 2023

Page 1


Gratuit I’M FREE



Happy Holidays!

Issue 140 Charities Building & renovation CluBs & assoCiations FinanCe estate agents gardens ProPerty Care

Affordable UK Designs

UPVC & Aluminium Double Glazing, Fitted Kitchens


Phone: 05 49 42 99 41

Aluminium and UPVC Bifold Doors made to “A” Grade spec in French styles.

Mobile: 06 63 71 09 81


SIRET: 513 577 809 00017

How much succession tax will your family pay? French succession tax can significantly reduce the amount your heirs inherit from you. Take action now so the right people benefit from your estate – you may not realise how much tax you can save by having a ‘succession health check’.

Talk to the people who know

Contact the specialists at Blevins Franks for personalised and effective inheritance planning solutions.

05 49 75 07 24


I N T E R NAT IONA L TA X A DV IC E • I N V E S T M E N TS • E S TAT E PL A N N I NG • PE NSIONS Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Wealth Management Limited (BFWML) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFWML is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority, registered number C 92917. Authorised to conduct investment services under the Investment Services Act and authorised to carry out insurance intermediary activities under the Insurance Distribution Act. Where advice is provided outside of Malta via the Insurance Distribution Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of Malta. BFWML also provides taxation advice; its tax advisers are fully quali ed tax specialists. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as ‘Conseil en Investissements Financiers’ and ‘Courtiers d’Assurance’ Category B (register can be consulted on Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered of ce: 1 rue Pablo Neruda, 33140 Villenave d’Ornon – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA). Blevins Franks Trustees Limited is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority for the administration of retirement schemes. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFWML.

Welcome to the December edition of the Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine!

What an incredible year it has been. Reflecting on the past twelve months, I marvel at how much has changed. After moving to France, I never anticipated that I would once again find myself working on a magazine. I am deeply grateful to everyone who has supported us in reviving this magazine, particularly Chris, who has patiently endured my artistic whims and numerical blind spots. Over the past six issues, we've included a wide array of subjects, ensuring that each edition is full of valuable information. This December issue carries on that tradition, featuring an expanded 'What's On' section that highlights all the fantastic Christmas markets taking place throughout the month.

Our heartfelt thanks go out to our advertisers, both old and new. Without you, printing this magazine would not have been possible. We eagerly look forward working with you again in 2024, to produce a high-quality magazine that places your advertisements directly in front of potential customers. We're delighted to hear that our advertisers have seen a significant increase in enquiries. Its also lovely to see people picking up the magazine while we are out making deliveries and great to meet the kind people who distribute copies of the magazine. Our contributors play a crucial role in Infusing the magazine with a local, special touch. We've been fortunate to meet most of them this year, and many have become friends. With the holiday season upon us, why not consider sourcing all of your Christmas gifts from our talented contributors?

For instance, you could give an alpaca-themed gift, or perhaps a day's Indian cookery course. Maybe surprise a loved one with a signed book, or a beekeeping course. Consider gifting some wine, creating a Christmas wreath, supporting an animal charity, offering a mosaic-making voucher, a session with a life coach or yoga sessions suitable for all ages. The list is truly endless, reflecting the abundant talent we're privileged to work with locally. If we've inadvertently omitted anyone, please accept our apologies. As in previous years, there will be no January issue of the magazine, but we look forward to catching up with you again in February. As we conclude this year, we wish peace to everyone on Earth. May you have a delightful Christmas and a very Happy New Year! We look forward to seeing you again in 2024.

Kathleen & Chris

tel: 07 86 99 16 17 email: © K Butler-donnelly 2023. all rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, we accept no liability for errors or omissions. the opinions expressed by individual authors do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. While we make every effort to ensure that businesses advertising with us are reputable and appropriately registered, you should verify that any company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere and has the correct siret number and insurance. Before embarking on a long journey to attend a published

Local markets . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 News & Announcements . . . . . . . . . 5 What’s On. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 On this day. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Beyond the baubles . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Everyday yoga. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 The Repair Shed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Book club . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 - 13 La vie en France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Market magic. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Interview by Anne Alonso . . . . . . . . 16 Life in 79 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 A greener France . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 The French Pyrenees . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Natural Christmas decorations . . . 22 Stay connected . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Taking better photographs . . . . . . . 24 Catching the big one . . . . . . . . . . . . 26 The Loire Girl. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27 Keeping busy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Clare’s garden diary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29 Clubs & Associations . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Seasonal Recipes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 34 Take a Break . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36 Our Furry Friends . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 42 Money Matters . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 44 Ask Amanda . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Index of Advertisers . . . . . . . . . . . . . 46

Emergency Numbers Numbers to phone in case of an emergency 15

SAMU - Emergency Medical Service


Police Secours - Emergency Police

112 European Emergency Calls 18

Sapeurs Pompiers - Fire Brigade

114 French Emergency number for the deaf and hard of hearing 15

Dentiste de Garde – Emergency Dentist (Sundays & Bank Holidays)

event, it is highly recommended that you verify the event details with other sources. the deux-sèvres Monthly est édité par Kathleen Butler-donnelly, 27 rue de la Madoire, Bressuire 79300 tel: 07 86 99 16 17. directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: K Butler-donnelly.. Crédits photos :adobe stock, istock, Pixabay sauf mention contraire. impression: graficas Piquer sl, 29 al Mediterraneo, Pol. ind. san rafael, 04230, huércal de almeria, espagne. siret: 90043034900028. issn: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 3

Local Markets in the Deux-Sèvres THE ENGLISH SPEAKING CHURCH OF THE VALLEY OF THE LOIRE “ESCOVAL” We meet on the third Sunday of each month at the church in Arçay at 11h00. The services are multidenominational and vary between Matins and Holy Communion - both usually include hymns. Afterwards there is usually a bring-and-share lunch. Arçay is situated between Loudun and Thouars just off the D759. Contact Geoff Cornwall : Jim Burrows : 05 49 22 41 78 Carole Taylor :


The Filling Station - PoitouCharentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. Carolyn on 05 45 84 19 03 or

All Saints, Vendée - Puy de Serre. We hold two services each month (plus Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St. Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11h.

The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun). Eglise Vie Nouvelle English service (translated into French) every week in the Salle Annexe behind Civray Mairie at 10.30am. Contact 06 25 04 36 51

The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, PoitouCharentes. Normally holds Sunday services in English. Please see our website for current information:

Evangelical Church (ChefBoutonne) Meetings each Sunday at 3:00pm. The Evangelical Church, 10 Rue de l’Huilerie, 79110 Chef-Boutonne. All are welcome. Parking on site. Please see our website for more .

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Monday am

Tuesday a.m.

Wednesday a.m. Thursday a.m.

Friday a.m.

Saturday a.m.

Sunday a.m.

Cerizay 79140

Bressuire 79300 Coulonges-sur-l'Autize 79160 La Creche 79260 Lezay 79120 Niort 79000 Thouars 79100 Vasles 79340

Celles-sur-Belle79370 Niort 79000 Parthenay 79200

Argenton-les-Vallées 79150 La Motte St Héray 79800 Niort 79000 Sauzé-Vaussais 79190

Coulon 79510 Melle 79500 Niort 79000 Nueil les Aubiers 79250 Thouars 79100

Airvault 79600 Bressuire 79300 Cerizay 79140 Champdeniers 79220 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Cherveux 79410 Coulonges-sur-l'Autize 79160 Lezay 79120 Mauleon 79700 Mauze sur le Mignon 79210 Moncoutant 79320 Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l'Ecole 79400

Chatillon sur Thouet 79200 Coulon 79510 La Creche 79260 Niort 79000 Thénezay 79390

place des Halles

place Dupin Centre Ville rue du Marché place du Marché place des Halles place Lavault la place du 25 Août

Centre Ville place des Halles rue Jean-Jaurès

place Philippe de Commynes place Clémenceau place des Halles Centre Ville

place de l'Eglise place Bujault place des Halles place Pierre Garnier place Lavault

place Saint-Pierre place Dupin place des Halles Centre Ville Centre Ville Centre Ville place des Halles place du Marché place du château place de l'Eglise Centre Ville place des Halles place du Marché

place du Parnasse place de l'Eglise rue du Marché place des Halles place de L'Hôtel de Ville

Local Markets in neighbouring departments Monday a.m.

Tuesday a.m.

Wednesday a.m.

Thursday a.m. Friday a.m. Saturday a.m.

Sunday a.m.

Doue-la-Fontaine 49700

Civray 86400 Montrueil-Bellay 49260 Mortagne-sur-Sèvres 85290 Surgéres 17700

Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 Lusignan 86600 Ruffec 16700 Vihiers 49310

Aulnay 17470 Surgéres 17700

Civray 86400 Doue-la-Fontaine 49700

Cholet 49300 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 La Châtaigneraie 85120 Pouzauges 85700 Ruffec 16700 Surgéres 17700

Aulnay 17470 Latillé 86190 Valence-en-Poitou 86700

place du Champ de Foire

place Leclerc place du Marché place Hullin rue Audry de Puyravault

place du Commerce place Isabelle d’Angoulême Centre Ville place Charles-de-Gaulle

Centre Ville rue Audry de Puyravault

place Leclerc place René Nicolas

place du 8 Mai 1945 place du Commerce place de la République place de l’Hôtel de Ville Centre Ville rue Audry de Puyravault

Centre Ville place Robert Gerbier place du Marché

Notice Board

News & Announcements


Noël Christmas Day Monday 25 December 2023


Jour de l'An New Year's Day Monday 1 January 2024


Pâques Easter Sunday Sunday 31 March 2024

Lundi de Pâques Easter Monday Monday 1 April 2024 Fête du Travail Labour Day Wednesday 1 May 2024

Flu and Covid vaccines now available

Victoire de 1945 VE Day Wednesday 8 May 2024

Ascension Ascension Day Thursday 9 May 2024

Dimanche de Pentecôte Whit Sunday Sunday 19 May 2024 Lundi de Pentecôte Whit Monday Monday 20 May 2024 Fête nationale "Bastille Day" Sunday 14 July 2024

Assomption Assumption Day Thursday 15 August 2024 Toussaint All Saints Day Friday 1 November 2024

Armistice de 1918 Armistice Day Monday 11 November 2024

MR T’S FISH & CHIPS Regular venues at:

• Aulnay de Saintonge 17470 • Beauvais Sur Matha 17490 • St Jean D’Angély 17400 • Sauzé-Vaussais Hope 79 79190 • La Chaumière, La Chapelle 16140 • Charroux 86250 • Saintes 17100 • Savigné 86400

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74 email:

SIRET : 537 606 972 00025

Remember to pick up your copy of The Deux-Sèvres Monthly!


As the chilly winds of winter begin to blow in 2023, France has initiated a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination campaign in conjunction with its annual flu jab programme. The COVID-19 vaccination drive started in October, targeting all individuals who have not yet been vaccinated. Priority has been given to those aged 65 and above, individuals with underlying health conditions, immunocompromised individuals, expectant mothers, and those in close contact with vulnerable groups. For those outside the priority groups, an optional booster dose is being offered free of charge. Simultaneously, the flu jab season commenced on 17th October, with particular attention given to vulnerable individuals and expectant mothers. The flu vaccine, updated annually to combat anticipated strains, can be administered by healthcare professionals, including doctors, midwives, pharmacists, and nurses. Despite the implementation of these vaccination programmes, French healthcare services advise that, even after vaccination, it is strongly recommended to continue wearing masks, regularly washing hands, and avoiding contact with elderly or vulnerable individuals. For more information, visit Stay healthy and safe throughout this winter season!

The UK Elections Act, which has earned Royal Assent at the end of October, is poised to restore the voting rights of millions of British citizens living abroad, including those residing in France. Starting from January 2024, an estimated 2.3 million Britons living overseas will have the ability to participate in UK General Elections. They'll be casting their votes in the last constituency they were registered in or at their last UK address. New arrangements for postal and proxy voting are being implemented. Those who are already registered to vote in UK elections have the option to apply online. This development is unfolding ahead of the upcoming UK general election, which is anticipated to take place before January 2025. The secondary legislation needed to fully restore overseas voting rights is expected to be finalised by early January 2024. Registration for previously disenfranchised overseas voters is likely to commence soon after. For more information, visit

Second Homeowners: French Senate's Visa Vote

The French Senate recently voted on a bill amendment that would grant automatic long-stay visa rights to British second-home owners in France. This decision aims to streamline travel for these homeowners, especially considering the new restrictions imposed by Brexit. Despite the Senate's approval, the implementation of this provision remains uncertain. Further discussions and votes are scheduled for January 2024. Watch this space for more updates.

Exclusively seasoned hardwood Available in 50cm: 65€/m3 or in 40cm: 70€/m3 Exclusively ash: 75€/m3 - Offcuts: 45 €/m3

Please contact Henri Tel: 05 49 70 09 01 email: Chateau de Theil, 79450 Saint Aubin le Cloud

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 5

© La Gargante

LE VILLAGE DE NOËL Saint Martin de Sanzay




Clessé Join us at our first Christmas Market. Meet local artisans, creators and buy their products. Refreshments and food available on-site. Children's creative workshop, Santa Claus visit, and Christmas carols included. Free entry. ALPACA WOOL WORKSHOPS

Villiers-en-Plaine Christmas market featuring local artisans, creators, producers, pony rides, classic car exhibition, gift ideas, and a visit from Father Christmas. Free entry, proceeds donated to the Telethon. Comité des Fêtes de Villiers-en-Plaine on Facebook

1 December

Oyster and white wine tasting, place orders for oyster baskets for festive meals, enjoy wood-fired fouées on-site, Christmas beer/mulled wine. Exhibitors with gift ideas, decorations, creative art and Christmas face painting. 1 December 2023

argentonnay, 18h30 Celebrate the festive season in Argentonnay's school courtyard. Enjoy charming performances by local children, explore artisanal creations from local craftsmen, and savour a variety of snacks and beverages available on site. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 2 – 3 December

Saint-Loup-sur-thouet Experience one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in Deux-Sèvres. Over a hundred exhibitors, creators, and producers gather in the timbered houses and chalets set up in the town streets. MARCHE DE NOEL 2 -3 December

Xaintray Join us to discover local talents: jewellery designers, Christmas tree sales, an educational farm, plant and cosmetic sales, and schoolchildren's creations. Food and refreshments available on site.. MARCHE DE NOEL 2 -3 December

Cerizay Over 30 local producers, artisans, creators will be at our Christmas market. Enjoy fanfares, animations, and a special visit from Santa Claus with candy distribution. Refreshments and food available on-site. MARCHE DE NOEL 2 December 2023

argentonnay This festive event features a beautiful fireworks display at 19h30, a visit from Father Christmas, free pony rides, and traditional wooden games. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 2 December

La Chauvière Features include children's creative sales, crepes/waffles, bar, artisan cheeses, hot and cold drinks, honey, glass drawings, tombola, snacking, toy exchange all weekend. email:

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

2 December

2, 13, 27 & 30 December

Sanzay Create cozy alpaca wool warmers with Sophie and Will at La Petite Ferme d’Alpagas. Learn about alpacas and their unique nature during this 4-hour workshop. WORKSHOP: MOSAIC SNOWFLAKE 2 December

Secondigny Create a 25cm indoor mosaic snowflake using the 'no grout' method in this 2½ hour workshop. All materials and refreshments provided. Take away your hand-crafted item.35€ p/p. Max 6 people. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 2 December

Fors A free entry Christmas market featuring local products, artisans, and creators. An opportunity to buy unique items and goods at our festive market. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 2 December

3 December


L'absie Discover local products, jewellery, specialties, beauty items for Christmas gifts. Refreshments and food available on-site or takeaway. Santa arrives at 16h. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 3 December

Saivres Celebrate the holiday season at the Marché de Noël in Saivres. This event features various stalls and entertainment. Admission is free. TERVES CHRISTMAS MARKET 3 December

terves Salle des Fêtes English Christmas market with artisan stalls. Feast on fish & chips, mulled wine, mince pies, bacon butties, and homemade cakes. Enjoy live music including a choir and ukulele band. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 3 - 24 December

Cersay Join us at the Christmas market starting at 3pm! You'll find a charming village of local artisans and producers, with plenty of delicious food and drink options available on-site. See you there!

Niort An annual Christmas celebration featuring illuminations, weekend shows, a nightly light display on the Donjon, and around fifty chalets housing craftsmen, designers, and producers. Includes a toboggan run and an ice rink.

3 December

4 December


Prahecq A festive market featuring Father Christmas, local culinary specialties and crafts. Children's entertainment and onsite dining available. Free entry. Organised by the Twinning Association of Prahecq Gléi. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 3 December

Saint-Georges-de-rex A Christmas market from 10h to 17h, featuring local artisans, food producers, and Christmas tree sales. Entertainment includes music, a magician, and children's games. Proceeds benefit the APE des petits Rexois. Facebook APE Petits rexois


Brioux sur Boutonne Create your own outdoor Christmas wreath. During this workshop, learn about plant symbolism and its relevance to festive celebrations. €25 per person, includes festive refreshments. This activity promotes reducing waste during the holiday season. Facebook: CueilletteetDecouvertebySophie EXHIBITION: COLLECTIF ARTERRE 5 December - 6 January

Sauzé-Vaussais A showcase of rural craftsmanship in various media including wood, wicker, earth, metal, graphic arts, children's textiles, leather, stained glass, and jewellery.

REACTION BOOK CLUB 6 December, 3pm

Fenioux The Reaction Book Club meet on the 1st Wednesday of the month at 15h in the Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. This month the book is ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khalid Hosseini. WORKSHOP: MOSAIC WREATH 8 December

Secondigny Learn how to make a long-lasting mosaic Christmas wreath, suitable for indoor or outdoor use, in this full-day workshop. All materials and refreshments provided. Take away your hand-crafted item. 75€ p/p. Max 6 people. JAZZ EVENING 8 December

Café du Boulevard, Melle, Enjoy an evening of jazz with Pierre-Yves Desoyer's "Bass On Top". The event features an apéro-concert followed by a jam session. Musicians are invited to join in or simply listen. Free participation. CHRISTMAS JAZZ CONCERT 8 December

aiffres Traditional Christmas concert at eglise Saint-Pierre. This year enjoy the Germain Cornet Trio, featuring local drummer Germain Cornet and Moulin Rouge Jazz singer Maxime Plisson. Free entry. CHAURAY EN LUMIÈRES 9 December - 7 January

Chauray Visit Chaurayin the evening to see beautiful illuminations between the church, temple, and the Mairie. An indoor Christmas exhibition will also be on display. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 9 - 10 December


La Mothe Saint-Héray Christmas market with street animations, Father Christmas, Christmas tales for children (on Saturday), pony rides (on Sunday), photo exhibitions, concerts, dances. Cheese market on Saturday with workshops, truffle market on Sunday with truffle cooking competition and tastings. Facebook: CommuneLaMotheSaintHeray MARCHÉ DE NOËL 9 December

Lezay Join us at the Christmas Market in Lezay, expertly organised by the dedicated local festival committee. Experience the joyful atmosphere as you discover a variety of delightful local products, unique gift ideas, and heartwarming festive spirit. Don't miss out on this magical event, and guess what? Entry is absolutely free! WORKSHOP: ILLUMINATE TEXTS 9 December

Niort Discover the art of illumination with Fabien Pandraud, a skilled artisan and calligrapher. This workshop is limited to 10 participants, suitable for both adults and teenagers. Materials provided. Reservation required. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 9 December

Le Vanneau-irleau A festive Christmas market with local artisans, creators, and food trucks. Features include Father Christmas, a lucky dip, hot wine bar, and a charitable 7km march at 14h30. All proceeds are donated to the Telethon. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 9 December

thouars Explore 30 artisanal chalets, enjoy food trucks, visit Santa's house, and take part in carousel rides, pony promenades and ice skating. Bars and restaurants remain open throughout the weekend.

Vernoux-sur-Boutonne Come and join us for our second Marché de Noël! Get ready to immerse yourself in the festive spirit and enjoy a day filled with holiday cheer, local vendors, and a strong sense of community. It's going to be a fantastic event that you don't want to miss! Facebook: Foyer Rural Périgné

9 - 10 December

9 December


Nueil-les-aubiers Enjoy a festive extravaganza with numerous exhibitors, on-site catering, and entertainment. The event concludes with a fireworks display on Sunday at 19h MARCHÉ DE NOËL 9 - 10 December

Pompaire Celebrate the festive season with free entertainment including Santa Claus, a close-up magician, and a unique photobooth. On-site catering, a bar, and a raffle are also part of the event.


augé A semi-nocturnal Christmas market. Includes tree decoration at 17h30, Father Christmas's arrival at 18h00, and spectacular fireworks at 19h30. Food truck and on-site dining options are available. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 10 December

Sauzé-Vaussais A Christmas market offering indoor/outdoor exhibitors, rides, duck fishing, inflatable structure, pony or carriage rides. Enjoy hot wine, chestnuts,

hot chocolate. On-site bar and light refreshments available. Photos with Father Christmas and a festive parade from 17h30. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 10 December

Le tallud This Christmas Market in Le Tallud hosts around 30 local exhibitors and artisans. On-site catering, a traditional oyster bar, and a children's carousel are available all day. At 16h, enjoy a free Gospel concert at Saint Saturtin church. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 10 December

Saint-Pardoux-Soutiers Visit the Christmas Market in SaintPardoux-Soutiers. Enjoy the presence of creators, producers, artisans showcasing their products. Expect Santa Claus, a choir, beverages, and crêpes. FESTIVE WEEKEND 11 – 12 December

Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon A festive weekend awaits you with numerous activities including Father Christmas, children's activities, carriage rides, and a surprise gift for children. Don't miss the special sauerkraut evening on Saturday from 19h. UPCYCLING CHRISTMAS CRAFTS 13 December

Moncoutant-sur-Sèvre, Deux-Sèvres Prepare gifts and decorations from

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 7

hang. This event is free of charge. MARCHÉ DE NOËL

17 December

recycled materials, either alone or in pairs. This event is suitable for children aged 6 and above. Reservation is required. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 15 December

Boismé Experience a festive Christmas Market with artisans, food, decorations, fireworks, and mulled wine. Organised by the local community and runs from 16h30pm to 23h. SIESTE MUSICALE 15 December

Cerizay Come relax with a musical siesta, let yourself be carried away by the disc jockey's selection. Close your eyes, unwind, and listen. Reservation required. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 16 - 17 December

Bressuire Experience a lively market with 50 artisans, merchants, and producers. Features include food stands, craft demonstrations, children's activities, and Santa Claus visits. Don't miss the Batucada Timbalada, "Le Noël de Karabal" concert, and "FierS à Cheval" Christmas parade. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 16 December

Coulonges sur l'autize With 40 exhibitors, local gift ideas, delicious food stalls offering 10 dining options, photos with Santa, a Frozenthemed parade featuring Queen Elsa and Olaf, a mini train and balloon sculptures, board games, face painting and tattoos for the kids, a workshop for writing letters to Santa, and a fun games.


Le Breuil sous argenton Join us for a festive celebration filled with unique gifts, fun activities, delicious pizzas, artisanal beers, friendly alpacas, hot wine, and sweet and salty crepes. The perfect way to kick start the holiday season with family and friends! ATELIER DE NOËL 16 November

Médiathèque de Secondigny A creative workshop led by the librarian for making a decoration to display or

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Largeasse This year's event will showcase a wide array of exhibitors offering an selection of handcrafted gifts, festive decorations, and delicious treats. Santa Claus will be making a grand entrance at 11h. MARCHÉ DE NOËL 17 December

Saint-Maxire The Saint-Maxire Christmas Market will be held on Sunday, 17 December, from 09h to 15h. Approximately 30 exhibitors will offer local products and handmade creations amid a musical atmosphere. There will also be a raffle with three filled baskets to win and food available onsite. CHRISTMAS MARKET 17 December

Pompaire Enjoy a Christmas market organized by MAM le Royaume des P'tits Lou. Features include Santa's presence, local artisans, donkey rides, face painting, lucky dip, pancakes, and mulled wine. PRE-CHRISTMAS CARVERY LUNCH 17 December

Maisontiers Savour a pre-Christmas Carvery lunch by Lynda Gee of Gingers Kitchen. Enjoy a buffet of starters, four types of roast meats, a selection of vegetables, cheese, and dessert. Wine and coffee included. Price: €25 (€23 if booked by SMS to 06 21 79 09 54 before 10 December ) email: REACTION POEM & PINTS GROUP 20 December, 3pm

Fenioux An afternoon of poetry readings and drinks with Reaction Theatre members and friends. The Reaction Poem & Pints group meets every 3rd Wednesday of the month at 3pm in Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux.

We gather to share our favourite poems – this month’s theme is Time. WORKSHOP WITH THE OWL TRAINER FROM HARRY POTTER! 23 December

Parthenay Don't miss this rare and magical moment that will provide unforgettable memories. Meet Alexandre Thevenin, the owl trainer from Harry Potter! An extraordinary falconry workshop: Presentation, awareness, demonstration, initiation, handling. Very limited places. Reservation at La Gargante. LA CORRIDA DE NOËL - COURSE PÉDESTRE 23 December

La Creche Join the oldest race in the department! The 46th edition of the Christmas Corrida starts at La Creche. The 10km race begins at 14h15, and the 5km race at 14h30. Facebook – Corrida de Noël NOUVEL AN 2024 31 December

Moutiers sous argenton Join the festivities committee and youth club of Moutiers as they celebrate the New Year. Enjoy a meal and entertainment provided by the Aromazik orchestra. RÉVEILLON DE LA SAINT SYLVESTRE 31 December

Salle rené Cassin, Mauzé-thouarsais L'Union musicale de Mauzé-Thouarsais invites you to celebrate the New Year with family and friends at Salle René Cassin. Reservations required. RÉVEILLON DE LA SAINT SYLVESTRE 31 December

Saint-Martin-de-Sanzay La Guinguette la Ballu invites you to ring in the New Year with friends or family in the Salle des Fêtes. A seven-piece variety orchestra, Horizon, will provide entertainment. Advance booking required due to limited availability. Facebook: La Guinguette la Ballu

On This Day... 12 December 1863, Edvard Munch is born in Löten, Norway. He went on to become a renowned painter and printmaker, celebrated for his thought-provoking exploration of psychological themes deeply rooted in the Symbolism movement of the late 19th century. One of his most iconic works, The Scream (1893), vividly captures the essence of modern spiritual anguish.

1 December 1955, Rosa Parks, an African American woman, is jailed for refusing to give up her seat on a public bus to a white man in Montgomery, Alabama. This act of defiance became a pivotal moment in the Civil Rights Movement, inspiring others to stand up against racial segregation.

2 December 1859, Georges Seurat was born in Paris. He was a renowned painter and the founder of Neo-Impressionism. Seurat's innovative technique, Pointillism, used small, contrasting brushstrokes to depict light, resulting in magnificent compositions with pure, gleaming colors. Notable works showcasing this technique include "Une Baignade, Asnières" (1883-84) and "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884" (1884-86).

10 December 1815, Ada Lovelace, originally Augusta Ada Byron, is born in Middlesex. As an associate of Charles Babbage, she created a program for his prototype digital computer, earning her the title of the first computer programmer. Privately tutored and selfeducated, Lovelace, daughter of poet Lord Byron, later married William King, becoming Countess of Lovelace in 1838.

13 December 1939, the Battle of the River Plate, the first naval engagement of World War II, takes place near Uruguay. This historic battle witnessed the confrontation between three Royal Navy cruisers - Achilles, Ajax, and Exeter - and the German pocket battleship Graf Spee. Despite possessing inferior firepower, the British fleet managed to inflict significant damage on the Graf Spee, compelling it to seek refuge in Montevideo, a neutral port in Uruguay. The battle concluded dramatically with the deliberate scuttling of the Graf Spee by its captain, signifying a vital early triumph for the Allies.

15 December 1832, Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel the a distinguished French civil engineeis born in Dijon. Eiffel was renowned for his expertise in metal construction, with a particular focus on bridges. Among his notable early achievements was the construction of a 200-meter long viaduct in 1872, spanning the Thouet River between Thouars and Saint-Jacques-de-Thouars. However, Eiffel's worldwide recognition stems from his iconic design of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. 22 December 1894, the beginning of The Dreyfus affair, a scandal that shook France in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It

involved the false conviction of Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish artillery captain, for treason. Despite evidence pointing to another officer as the real traitor, Dreyfus was sentenced to life imprisonment. The affair created deep divisions in French society and raised issues of politics, religion, and national identity. Dreyfus was eventually exonerated and reinstated in the army in 1906.

25 December 1962, the film "To Kill a Mockingbird" is released. This cinematic adaptation of Harper Lee's novel presented a poignant exploration of racial inequality and childhood innocence through the lens of lawyer Atticus Finch, portrayed by Gregory Peck.

28 December 1895, the Lumiere brothers, Louis and Auguste, hold the first commercial film screening at the Grand Cafe in Paris. They used the Cinematographe, their own camera-projector invention, to present short scenes from everyday French life. 30 December 1946, Patti Lee Smith is born in Chicago, Illinois. With hypnotic performances and groundbreaking rock music, she firmly established herself as a pioneer of punk rock with the release of her acclaimed album "Easter" in 1978.

Oven Gloves for Sale

We are delighted to once again offer our double oven gloves, featuring a beautiful poppy fabric in a hand-stitched patchwork design. These double all-in-one gloves are hard to find in France, making them a very special addition to your kitchen.

To support the poppy appeal, we're offering these oven mitts for €14, including postage.

Every single penny of the proceeds will go to the Poppy Appeal, .

To place an order, simply email us at with the quantity you would like and your full postal address. We will post your order and send you a request for payment.

Payments can be made by cheque to "The Royal British Legion" or via our Just Giving page at By purchasing our double oven gloves, you are contributing to the work of the Bordeaux Royal British Legion Account and supporting the Poppy Appeal. We thank you for your support.

Pat and Kay Johnson Aude, France

Beyond the Baubles Christmas traditions and Personal Wellbeing I've just watched the M&S Christmas TV commercial and I’m not sure what to think… It reminds me of the drawing that looks like a rabbit and a duck at the same time… when you see the duck, you stop seeing the rabbit and vice a versa. The thrust of the ad is - don’t do the things that you don’t enjoy. Make this the year that Christmas is not a series of unpleasant obligations. You don’t have to spend hours writing Christmas cards, you don’t have to obsess about decorations and no one should HAVE to play board games! On one hand this is a profoundly positive message - Christmas can be a time when its obligations can be like a millstone around your neck. That weight can just make the problems that are there all year seem even worse. So letting go of all the ‘traditions’ of Christmas, and even abandoning Christmas altogether, may be a truly liberating experience for some. And as liberation is probably one of the cornerstones of true happiness, this message is great… But on the other hand… Christmas is a time of intense emotional need for a lot of people, whether they admit that to themselves or not. And because of that, if we all throw aside our responsibility to others in the pursuit of our own personal ‘perfect Christmas’, we may leave behind a mess bigger than a Christmas day afternoon kitchen, and it may be even harder to clean up. So is there a positive message that can be taken from both interpretations of this ad? I think there probably is… And it’s about our old friend Kindness again. Be kind to yourself this Christmas don’t put undue pressure on

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

yourself. Being selfless to the point of being unkind to yourself, is not a positive thing. In the flight safety speech before takeoff, they always say you must put your own facemask on first, then help other people. It's good advice. But consider other people too - send a little message or pick up the phone to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. It may be a kindness to you both. And even a cheap bottle of wine from someone you wouldn’t expect a gift from, can be a really magical Christmas moment.

Written by David Murphy - Clinical Hypnotherapist and Life Coach

See his advert on the opposite page

So perhaps you could make that magic happen for someone else? If you don’t like Christmas, feel free to minimise its impact on your life, but don’t fool yourself into believing that it’s ‘just another day’. If nothing else it has the power - for good and bad - to magnify our emotions. Those issues in the ‘pending’ box of your life can often seem more urgent under the spotlight of Christmas so use the experience as a springboard for change. And if you do something, ANYTHING to spread a little kindness at Christmas, it’s power can be tenfold. So my advice this Christmas is enjoy all the Christmas ads and be kind to yourself and others... everything else is just tinsel and bells!

Everyday yoga for everyone

Health is Wealth

There is a saying in India – “Health is Wealth”. It sounds like a cliché, trite even. And it is. But I have learned that it is also deeply true. I have been very fortunate in that I have not fallen seriously ill often in my life. When I have, however, everything has gone out the window. I was left unable to work and so financially unstable. I couldn’t look after myself properly. I was also left incapable of helping anyone else, and that was one of the worst parts of it. You feel incredibly vulnerable and utterly useless. Falling ill magnifies all our insecurities and affects all our close relationships in ways we never dreamed. We become reliant on others in ways that can feel uncomfortable, even humiliating. And this fear and insecurity feeds into the health issue itself, eroding hope and confidence, and creating a downwardly spinning cycle that is very difficult to break. It was during these times that I realized health was indeed wealth in the sense that life has much less value without it. To look after

Rebecca Novick

one’s health is not a luxury or a vanity, but an act of love and responsibility. If we do not value and tend to our health, the people we care for the most will be the ones who suffer the most. I have often wondered why we tend to invest so little in our health before things reach a crisis point. It takes discipline and determination to maintain a health routine. And let’s face it, those are boring words. It is far more fun to run around chasing every whim and hankering like immortal disembodied children. For a while. Eventually though, the things that we have been chasing catch up with us. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but eventually. And then the regrets set in. None of us can be sure of how our health issues will play out. But one thing we can be certain of, if we have not created some discipline around our health habits when we are on form, it will be ten times harder to do so when we are not. Through recruiting positive health habits to the

cause of wellbeing, we create a resilience template that can offer a degree of protection during tough times, fuelling our future journeys of recovery. This doesn’t mean that we magically bounce back from any health crisis, but we can develop an underlying springiness, a protective layer, that makes all the difference between feeling profoundly challenged or utterly overwhelmed. As we enter the festive season and temptations are all around us to overdo it, let us remember that trite Indian saying. Health is Wealth, and every choice we make to look after it is money is the bank of life. I am always happy to answer any questions and provide more information Respect yourself, explore yourself.


The Repair Shed: the Deux-Sèvres Creative Community Hub

In the northern Deux-Sèvres, a creative haven is creating excitement among craft enthusiasts. The Repair Shed is the brainchild of Lisa and Elf Jones. But it's not just any workspace - it's a community-led, not-for-profit organisation that nurtures connection, creativity, and collaboration.

Lisa and Elf, a husband-and-wife team, have used their combined skills to turn their shared passion into a living, breathing reality. "Crafting isn't just about making something pretty," Lisa explains. "It's about the joy and personal growth that come from the creative process."

Hidden away in Le Coudre, the Jones family - including their daughter Beth and three cherished dogs - are overjoyed by the support they've received for The Repair Shed. "We've had offers of support from all over Deux-Sèvres," Elf shares with a smile. "Everything we do revolves around our community and creativity. We're thrilled that so many people want to get involved." The Repair Shed offers more than just a place to craft. It's a sanctuary where members can discover the therapeutic benefits of crafting, learn new techniques, and build meaningful relationships. With Christmas on the horizon, there's a buzz of excitement in the air. "This festive season, we're looking forward to welcoming more crafters into our thriving community," beams Lisa. "We're offering our members the chance to try a wide range of creative activities, either in our shared workspaces or through projects at home." Whether you're an experienced crafter or a complete newbie, The Repair Shed extends a warm welcome. "Creativity has a

unique way of bringing people together," Elf observes. "We can't wait to see what you'll create with us."

To find out more about The Repair Shed or to get involved, visit, email, or give them a ring on 05 49 80 39 57. So, whether you're into creating something new, upcycling, repairing, or just fancy a chat while learning a new skill, The Repair Shed has something for everyone. If you have a creative skill - whether it's a hobby or a profession - and you'd like to share your expertise with others, they would love to hear from you. At The Repair Shed, they're all about offering members the chance to try a wide range of creative activities; either in their shared workspaces or through projects at home. So why not pop in and see what you can create?

What do you want to change about your life right now? I'm David Murphy - Clinical Hypnotherapist and Life Coach, and I can help.

Call or text me on 06 75 30 18 22

siret 89241290900020

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 11

Book Club Backing up your writing

Alison Morton

Backing up your computer is essential! Hard drives are a commonly used method, but¬ – it’s a big ‘but’– they do fail after a finite time. However, you shouldn’t need to worry about that horror if you have a proper back up strategy in place. I’ve always followed the ‘3-2-1’ back up rule. This means I have:

• Three copies of each file, including the original, • On at least Two different drives, • And One copy stored ‘off-site’.

For example, I might have a document stored on my internal computer hard drive, a copy stored on a separate external hard drive, and the third copy synced to Dropbox.

However, whenever I change the document on my internal hard drive, , e.g. when I’m editing a first draft, the copy in Dropbox (cloud storage) will be updated and the second copy on an external hard drive will also be updated within an hour automatically via Apple Time Machine or, if you are a Windows user, there is a similar application such as Backup and Restore. So, at worst case I will have potentially only lost a few minutes’ writing on a document if one of the drives fails or even if the computer itself fails.

Having slogged away for many months researching and sweating creatively over my keyboard, I now have a first draft of 107,000 words of a new novel. Hooray! But imagine the horror of losing all that work due to a digital disaster!

To prevent this, I have belt, braces and a parachute, metaphorically speaking. In the old days, I used to send part and completed drafts from one of my email addresses to a Gmail one so that if the worst happened, a version would exist in Google cloud storage. (I still do this, actually!) But in the writing community, I hear far too often about people who have ‘lost’ their computer files. Happily, there are many ways to avoid such a disaster these days.

The first step is to ask yourself how you organise your files. Having tens or even hundreds of them spattered all over your desktop is not best practice. Try to follow a ‘clear desk policy’, only keeping files on the desktop that you are currently working on or frequently (i.e. daily) need to access. All other files should be saved and stored in appropriately named folders on your computer hard drive. I have one main folder for each of my books, then sub folders for the cover, manuscript, marketing, research, photos, maps, etc.

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Going back to external hard drives, please do not use them for storing your original files and photographs on them as external drives tend to fail more frequently than the internal drive on your computer. You should use them only for backing up. The place to store your original files, including your precious work, is your computer! One more techie back-up solution is to use two external drives to back up, with the system alternating between the two drives automatically. The likelihood of both failing at the same time is remote. (Cue belt, braces and that parachute.)

Do check your back-ups are working from time to time and that the back-up drive is fully up to date, in the same way you have made sure that your applications and operating system are up to date. Phew! Now back to writing in full confidence that it won’t disappear down the digital plughole.

Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available in print and ebook. Her latest Roma Nova novel, set in the 4th century, JULIA PRIMA, is now out. She will be signing books at the Terves Christmas Market on 3 December 2023.

Book Club This month’s book reviews This Christmas in Paris

Snow Days With You

by Sophie Claire

by Leonie Mack

review by Jacqueline Brown

review by Jacqueline Brown

I always look forward to a Christmas romance from Sophie Claire and in This Christmas in Paris, we follow Carys, who made a brief appearance in A Winter’s Dream. Carys is escaping. Much as she loves the village of Willowbrook, following a serious car accident, she feels the only way to escape people treating her differently is to make a new start in a new place. The opportunity to run a café in Paris is too good not to jump at with enthusiasm, even if she has more of that than experience. As she faces the challenges of staffing issues, customer numbers and rolling out her fresh ideas at the café, what she hadn’t expected to feel in the city, was loneliness. A chance meeting in a park, that leads to a friendship with Mat, is the perfect antidote to the stresses of work. Journalist Mat is not happy. His job is thankless and getting him nowhere, but he too has a plan B, a secret persona whose reputation around Paris is growing rapidly and could be the start of a bright new future. Mat and Carys decide to keep their work lives out of their weekly Sunday meetings, which was both cautious and romantic, until it had huge consequences. As a fan of the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan film “You’ve Got Mail” I was thoroughly entertained by the similarities and references made to it during this book. The ups and downs in both their work and social life kept me turning the pages as I tried to guess how things would pan out for them both and if they could ever find a happy ever after. Written with a lot of humour and some hearttugging emotions, it was great to be back in a Sophie Claire book, set in Paris, with a festive feel. Pour yourself a hot chocolate and enjoy this book, served with the French patisserie of your choice.

This book was a festive feast from the first chapter. I felt for Luna as soon as she arrived in Chamonix, alone and totally unprepared for the alpine weather, on a mission to find out about her mysterious benefactor. Fate led her to Sylvia’s shop, where she soon found herself welcomed, and by helping her new friend with some English lessons, she also finds a purpose to stay, and the opportunity to meet people who could assist her on her enquiry. She has a lot to learn about the harsh reality of life in the mountains and the perilous work of the Gendarme rescue squad, but she soon finds herself embraced by their community. Yannick had an air of sadness about him that tugged at my heartstrings, and I enjoyed discovering his story almost as much as I did the unravelling of Luna’s mysterious past. This is a winter romance with a difference as it is not just set in a ski resort, it takes you to the heart of the mountains and the people who risk their lives to keep others safe. There is adrenalin, fear, and heart stopping emotions in this book, but the humour and warmth of the romance bubbling away under the layers of warm clothing, kept me turning the pages. If you love the mountains in winter, treat yourself to Snow Days With You as I am sure you will enjoy it.

PRE-loved to RE-loved Robert Mann Upholstery Service 06 45 61 60 85 email:

Upholstery of antiques, car interiors, caravan interiors, lounge suites, chairs, bedheads... Robert Mann Upholstery Service @robmannupholstery

SIRET: 820 918 316 00028

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 13

La Vie en France Mulling things over Jacqueline Brown In the blink of an eye, another year is almost over, and the mulling pot is being prepared. We take our mulled wine seriously here; carefully blending the flavours and allowing them time to infuse, adjusting as required, to ensure the perfect balance of alcohol, sweetness and spices is achieved. I recently discovered a new flavour of infusion, (pear, honey, cinnamon and ginger) that as well as tasting great in a mug after dinner, made me think this would be good to add to the mulled wine brewing pot alongside the clove-studded clementines. Nothing feels more Christmassy to me than the smell of mulled wine in the kitchen and that first bite of the first home baked mince pie of the year. I was delighted with our orchard pickings this year and even more so that I found the time to do as much preserving of the fruits for winter as possible. I kept it simple, but our freezer is full of stewed fruit mixes in any number of combinations of plums, apples, pears, figs and quinces, that along with the dried prunes are already being added to our breakfast bowls. The only disappointment for our crops was the walnuts. In the nineteen years we have been here, the two large walnut trees have given us crates full of nuts every year. There have been good years and not so good years, but this year is the first when we picked just a handful of nuts from each tree, most of them having rotted before they ripened. We have enough from last year to keep us going, so fingers crossed it was just a blip, not a sign of things to come.

face. I will also be attending a two-day training course, in French, as part of volunteering with France Alzheimer’s. The aim is to get a greater understanding of the condition, to provide better help and support to the families. It won’t be my first training course in French, but it is still daunting to sign up for something like this. I know my head will be exhausted trying to take in all the information, but I also know the feeling of accomplishment when it’s over will be worth the hard work. My New Year’s resolution is to remember that I am never too old to learn new skills and that it’s good to step out of my comfort zone every now and then. Whatever the weather throws at us this winter and wherever you are in the world to celebrate Christmas and New Year, I hope it’s a happy and healthy one for you all.

The year might be almost over, but I still have plenty of things to look forward to. In no particular order of importance, I will once again be playing the part of one of Père Noël’s little helpers. A shopping trip to choose the thirty-seven gifts for the under tens in our village, followed by an afternoon of distributing them from the back of a decorated van always puts a big smile on my email: NICK WEBB CC BY 2.0 DEED

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Sophie Hargreaves

Market Magic agic Unforgettable Experiences at French Christmas Markets

One thing that attracted us to move to France was the markets here. We fell in love with finding a new market everyday on our French honeymoon back in 2014, and spending hazy evenings creating fresh dishes, usually outdoors. These markets thrive and continue to be a source of great local produce that goes from farm to table, which can inspire even the shyest of cooks to make beautiful fresh home cooked meals. This excitement is ramped up for me when it comes to the numerous Christmas markets organised by what seems like every town in France, and they’re all so good, we tend to visit most, and find something new at each one. We bring the farm (without the alpacas I’m sorry to say), to various Christmas markets each year too. Not only are we working during the markets, but we also get indulgent and completely enjoy ourselves as visiting customers too, and submerge ourselves amongst the fantastic artisanal products and entertainment in front of us. I remember at one market last year at Saint-Aubin-du-Plain near Bressuire, Will with a massive smile on his face eating oysters washed down with a cheeky glass of white wine at 10am on a Sunday morning. Only in France! He was a very happy man. That isn’t all there was to be enjoyed… We shared apero boards from a local pig farmer, cold beer from artisanal brewer Au P’tit Brasseur d’Argentonnay, mulled wine, hot crepes and more. It may seem like it’s all about the food and drink, but there’s so much more to discover. For little ones, there’s certainly some festive magic in the air and usually the

chance to meet Father Christmas. At some markets, there are other activities too to make your memories, like iceskating at Thouars on 9 and 10 December to add to the fun. Each market tends to have their own special feature, which is why it’s so good to go to a few. The bacon butties and mince pies at Terves, the English Christmas market on Sunday 3 December are a particular highlight that we are looking forward to and not to be missed! My favourite part is discovering all of the local artisans and their wonderful creations on offer. There is so much skill on display and beautiful items to tempt me to spend all our earnings from the day. We bought all of our Christmas gifts at the markets last year, which was so much more satisfying than using the huge retail giants. Buying quality local products definitely left me with a warm fuzzy and festive feeling. From beautiful scented wax melts, to freshly made praline, handcrafted scarves, hand-stitched purses, the gifts under our tree had so much more meaning and value to them knowing exactly where they had been made. Buying directly from the artisan also gives you a chance to talk to them and find out about what they do. We have made some great contacts and friends by doing this and also get to practise our French too. Of course for us, it’s also a chance for us to really showcase our products from the alpaca farm that we’re very proud of, with our luxurious knitted alpaca wool clothing and alpaca manure based fertilisers. It’s thrilling to see people walking off immediately wearing our knits, the perfect way to

warm up in the cold. The markets are the perfect chance for us to reach more people with our products as well as showcase what we do at the farm with gift vouchers for visits available too. I love when people use these vouchers later in the year, knowing it was a gift that kept on giving, and another chance to remember a kind gesture of gift giving. If you want to catch us at a Christmas market we’re at the following this year:

25 & 26 November - 79300 St Aubin du Plain 28 November - Ark 79, 79120 Sainte Soline 2 December - 79150 Argentonnay 3 December - 79300 Terves 9 & 10 December - 79100 Thouars 15 December - 79300 Boisme

Or, if you’re a little further away, you can visit our online shop for delivery to your door, and support our small local business. We can also deliver to the UK if orders are received by email < > before 7 December.

For more information, visit: or email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 15

Hilary's Path to French Citizenship an interview by anne alonso Join Anne as she interviews Hilary, originally from Wales, who moved to France in

2014 and recently achieved French citizenship. In the conversation, Hilary shares her experiences of integration, language learning, and the lengthy but rewarding journey to become a French citizen amidst Brexit and the Covid-19 pandemic.


Je vous propose un article sous forme d’entretien avec Hilary, brillante étudiante détentrice des Delf A2, B1 et tout dernièrement de la naturalisation française. Je suis très fière de son parcours et souhaite que son témoignage vous incite à suivre son exemple. Bonne lecture ! Anne « Bonjour Hilary, tu vas bien ? Peux-tu te présenter ? »

Hilary : « Bonjour Anne, je vais très bien, merci. Je suis Hilary, j’habite en France depuis 2014. J’étais sage-femme puis professeur pour les sages-femmes dans le Comté du Lincolnshire mais je suis Galloise ! ». Anne : « Ah, c’est important pour toi ? »

Hilary : « Oui, c’est mon héritage, ma culture, mes racines ». Anne : « Peux-tu me parler de ta famille ? »

Hilary : « Je suis mariée à David depuis 49 ans ! Nous avons deux filles et trois petits-enfants ». Anne : « Ils ne te manquent pas trop ? »

Hilary : « Si, bien sûr mais nous communiquons souvent grâce aux réseaux sociaux ». Anne : « Où habites-tu ? »

Hilary : « Nous habitons un village des Deux-Sèvres, près de Moncoutant. Le Breuil Bernard : c’est un village très dynamique où nous sommes très bien intégrés ». Anne : « Qu‘avez-vous fait pour vous intégrer ? »

Hilary : « Au début, nous avons invité nos voisins pour différentes occasions : les anniversaires… puis, avec nos amis de l’église, nous avons organisé des festivités pour Noël : un concert autour d’un vin chaud. Nous sommes aussi allés participer à des activités dans l’école du village ».

Anne : « Tu m’as dit que vous faisiez partie du Comité des Fêtes du Breuil ? ».

Hilary : « Oui, c’est important de faire partie de notre village et c’est tout naturellement que nous avons rejoint le Comité des fêtes pour participer aux nombreuses activités de la commune

The Fixer

Experience you need....Results you want Fluent French speaker, professionally qualified with over 20 years “hands on” experience assisting expats in France Personal and Professional Taxation, Tax Regularisation, VLS Visas and Full Residency Packages Business Set Ups and much more... Call Rick Denton now on 06 46 25 30 87 or email: Covering all areas of France and International SIREN: 818 390 916

16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly


Anne : « Donc, tu habites en France depuis 9 ans et nous nous sommes rencontrées à cette période où tu as décidé de suivre des cours de conversation française chez moi ». Hilary : « Oui, c’est ça, je voulais vite progresser et tu m’as motivée pour me présenter au Delf A2 ».

Anne : « Que tu as obtenu « haut la main ! » Est-ce que ce premier examen a été une expérience positive ? »

Hilary : « J’étais stressée car le déroulement de l’examen en France est différent de celui en Angleterre. La manière de poser les questions n’est pas habituelle pour nous, mais tu nous a très bien préparés et tu es même venue avec nous à Poitiers le jour de l’examen ». Anne : « Oui, je me souviens, c’était détendu et on a bien rigolé entre les épreuves ! Vous avez tous réussi l’examen et j’en suis très fière !! »

Hilary : « Merci Anne. Tu m’as ensuite proposé de poursuivre cette aventure en préparant le niveau supérieur : le Delf B1 ». Anne : « Et re succès ! Félicitations Hilary ! Et le B1 en poche tu décides de demander la naturalisation française, pourquoi ? » Hilary : « C’est de ta faute Anne ! (Rires). C’était normal. Le Brexit m’a poussée à faire cette démarche. « Liberté Égalité Fraternité », cette devise est importante à mes yeux et c’est surtout le mot Fraternité qui me parle ».

SIRET No: 48825664500018


Helping with Translation, Health, Tax, Legal Paperwork, Telephone Calls, Property, Banking, Business Services and Residency Val Assist provides explanations about the French system, advice on the way to sort out problems and generally acts for people on their behalf in French.


For more information: Valérie PATARD 1, rue Basse 85370 Mouzeuil St Martin Tel: +33 (0)6 84 78 21 57 email: Anne : « Tu es française depuis avril 2023, mais qu’elles ont été les étapes de ta démarche pour être naturalisée française ? »

Hilary : « Le chemin a été très long car le Covid et les confinements ont compliqué les démarches. Il m’a fallu un mois pour préparer le dossier administratif, les bureaux de poste étaient fermés et il fallait aussi faire traduire les documents officiels en ligne et payer pour cela. Ils m’ont retourné 3 fois le dossier pour le compléter ». Anne : « Un vrai parcours de combattant ! Tu vas décourager les anglais intéressés ! » Hilary : « Non, non, c’est plus simple aujourd’hui, c’est le Covid qui a rendu la situation difficile. Le dossier administratif a pris 9 mois et j’ai ensuite attendu 2 ans et 5 mois pour recevoir la date de l’entretien !!! Tu te souviens ? »

Anne : « Oui, je t’avais promis de t’accompagner à Niort pour l’entretien et j’ai dû interrompre mes vacances pour aller avec toi !! En quoi a consisté l’entretien ? »

Hilary : « J’ai été surprise et un peu déçue par l’entretien. Une femme seule dans un petit bureau sombre a vérifié plusieurs documents de mon dossier avant de me poser une dizaine de questions concernant l’histoire, la géographie et la politique de la France. Nommer 3 départements, 3 régions françaises par exemple. Le Livret du Citoyen (que tout le monde peut se procurer sur Internet) m’a beaucoup aidée. J’ai aussi dû répondre aux questions « - Pourquoi voulez- vous être naturalisée ? - Que faites-vous au quotidien qui montre votre intérêt pour la naturalisation ? ». L’entretien a duré environ 25 minutes ».

Anne : « Tu as attendu les résultats de l’entretien longtemps ? »

Hilary : « J’ai eu la réponse positive 8 mois après. J’ai reçu un e-mail où mon nom figurait dans le Journal Officiel ». Anne : « 3 années de démarche Hilary, ça n’a pas été trop difficile ? »

Hilary : « Non je n’ai aucun regret, je suis persévérante et patiente (comme doit l’être une sagefemme ! (Rires), et je suis tellement heureuse d’être française aujourd’hui ! J’attends maintenant d’être convoquée pour la Cérémonie Officielle, dans 4 ou 5 ans peut être !!!!! (Rires) ». Anne : « L’espoir fait vivre !! Merci beaucoup Hilary pour ton témoignage très instructif ». Hilary : « De rien Anne, c’était un plaisir ! ».

For more information about Anne Alonso’s French language classes email:

Lexique de vocabulaire an interview holder a career a testimony, evidence to encourage someone to do something a midwife une sage-femme a Welshwoman Galloise the roots Les racines I miss my family Ma famille me manque thanks to Grâce à : social network Les réseaux sociaux a mulled wine un vin chaud to be part of Faire partie de : the events committee Le Comité des fêtes : to join rejoindre to meet rencontrer « hands down » « Haut la main » the course, the sequence Le déroulement : the way La manière relaxed Détendu : to have a laugh, fun rigoler tests Les épreuves to pass réussir : to be proud of Être fier de : To carry on with, to pursue Poursuivre once again a success re succès : congratulations ! Félicitations ! « in the bag » « En poche » it’s your fault C’est de ta faute an approach une démarche : a motto, a slogan une devise it speaks to me Ça me parle it’s a long road Le chemin est long the lockdown Le confinement difficult Compliqué : I needed, it took me Falloir, il m’a fallu the administrative file Le dossier administratif post offices Les bureaux de poste to send the file back retourner le dossier « un parcours de combattant » an obstacle course to discourage Décourager : to make the situation difficult rendre la situation difficile « do you remember ? » « tu te souviens ? » to be disappointed Être déçu dark Sombre to check Vérifier : regarding, concerning Concernant to name Nommer to get, to buy Se procurer I’ve had to answer J’ai dû répondre : daily life, everyday life au quotidien to show an interest in Montrer de l’intérêt to last Durer my name appears Mon nom figure I have no regrets Je n’ai aucun regret to be called/invited Convoqué(e) « hope keeps us going ! » « L’espoir fait vivre ! » You’re welcome Anne ! De rien anne ! un entretien Détenteur, détentrice : un parcours un témoignage : inciter quelqu’un :

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 17


Live and Let Live I was awoken by a stirring under the duvet. At first I thought it was Anna, my wife, getting fresh. I then remembered she had shipped out to the spare room earlier that night. There it was again...pulling the cover back I saw a mouse running hither and thither across the bed. Eek! As I readied myself for work: sandwich in bag, jacket on, car keys, phone, wallet ...I sat down to put my boots on...foot in...hang on? ...felt like there was something stuck in my boot...shake, guessed it, out plops a sizeable rodent. Eek eek! This has got to stop! Our first feral cat would bring woodland creatures into the house, 'play' with them, and then eat them (apart from voles). We thought our second feral cat was not into this hunter/gatherer behavior. How wrong we were. She must have come of age as now brings in two or three mice daily, plays with them, then naffs off for a snooze. Leaving the mouse to scuttle off to some corner of the house. As I shuffle to the bathroom in the middle of the night, a mouse will scurry passed. When watching 'Help! We bought a Village' from the corner of my eye I will spy something scuttling along the skirting board. I'm not good at picking vermin up. If I have to, I will don the padded fire mitt (renamed mouse mitt) and working in conjunction with the cat, corner the intruder, slamming the mitt down on top of the little fella and launching it out of the window. Anna has become the chief wildlife remover in our house (her other titles include IT Specialist, Banking Specialist and Booking Contrôle Technique Specialist. I'm Head Gardener and Washer-upper). She has no qualms about extracting vermin with bare hands, she's Scottish and has an affinity with the wild.

Stephen Shaw Call me old fashioned but I don't like sharing my house/bed with Br'er Mouse and have tried various things to rectify this. We put a bell round the cats neck (didn't work), locked the cat flap (cat concussed itself), I have even left bits of plumbing pipe around the house as safe zones for a fleeing mouse (didn't work). People say cats are bringing you a present. I'm not of that line of thinking. Cats are the most selfish creatures, thinking of no one but themselves. A big cat will take a freshly killed gazelle back to its lair, our house has become the lair...only problem being they cohabit with us. Basic rules of multi occupancy living: don't steal someone else's margarine, empty the bins, don't hog the bathroom, and don’t keep dead or nearly dead animals in your bedroom. Anna says I'm getting things out of proportion. Live and let live she says, which is a bit rich coming from the person who goes berserk every time a molehill appears. She's tried shoving garlic down their holes, firelighters, essence of eucalyptus...nothing seemed to have any effect. Then she discovered mole bombs, which worked until one exploded in her face when being primed, and she nearly lost an eye. “What does a few molehills matter?” I said. “It's not as though our lawn is of crown green bowling quality. Moles are the most amazing little creatures...we must embrace them.” Unconvinced, but not wanting another incendiary incident she agreed to a cease-fire. Weapons have been put down. Peace, albeit a fragile one holds. The peace accord states that before mowing (Anna is Chief Mower as well) commences, I will remove the aforementioned molehills, putting the soil in my raised vegetable beds. This was not the first time I had shared my bedroom with a woodland creature and probably explains my inability to cope. When I was an adolescent and was about to nod off one night, I heard a commotion above me, followed by a thump. When I put the bedside light on I saw a sizeable hole in the ceiling with grass and other nesting detritus sticking through the cavity. Just then a squirrel's head popped up from the bottom of the duvet...and then another. “MUM! There're two squirrels in my bedroom!” My brother later soothed my PTSD by saying “It could have been worse, one of them could have run up your pyjama leg and said “I'll eat one nut now and save the other for Christmas”. And on that festive note I wish you, dear reader, the happiest of Christmases and the best possible start to 2024. Now, I must finish, as I hear Anna coming down the stairs and I haven't done the washing up.

If you would like to read more ramblings from Mr Shaw, go to

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

A Grn France..

The 2024 Composting and Waste Management Changes

From January 1, 2024, France is set to make some significant changes in the way it manages waste, focusing specifically on composting. These new rules aim to provide people with the opportunity to sort their food waste more effectively. The responsibility of implementing these changes primarily lies with local councils. Composting can be seen as a form of recycling where food and garden waste are converted into nutrient-rich soil over time. This approach has several environmental benefits, most notably reducing the amount of waste sent to landfill sites and the production of harmful methane gas. When food waste is dumped in landfills, it undergoes anaerobic decomposition due to the lack of air. This process results in the production of methane, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to global warming. Composting, on the other hand, allows waste to decompose aerobically, i.e., with plenty of air. This type of decomposition produces less methane, making it a

much more environmentally friendly option. In departments like the Deux-Sèvres, councils are taking proactive steps to facilitate this transition towards composting. Many are offering free compost bins to residents who have gardens. To receive one, residents must usually attend a special talk about composting where they can collect their bin. For those living in towns without access to a garden, compost collection points will likely be made available. This brings us to some frequently asked questions. For instance, what happens if you don't have a garden? Or what if you prefer to feed your waste to chickens? Will I be breaking the law if I dont start composting on the 1 January? The new rules are designed to be flexible and cater to various circumstances. If you don't have a garden or wish to feed your waste to chickens, or you dont start sorting your food waste straight away that's perfectly fine. The main objective is to reduce the amount of biodegradable waste ending up in landfills, and there are multiple ways to achieve this.

If you are looking for more information and tips on composting, there are plenty of resources available online. One such resource is 'Compost Coach' on Instagram, run by Compostable Kate. She offers advice on all aspects of composting, from traditional composting bins to worm farms and even Bokashi, a Japanese method of composting. While the new composting rules in France may seem like a big change,

they are designed to be flexible and accommodating for everyone. The main goal is not to penalise those who can't compost but to encourage and facilitate food waste sorting where possible. This initiative is a significant step towards a more sustainable future, where each of us can play a part in reducing our environmental impact.

The French Pyrens and the Basque Country

We reluctantly left Argelès-sur-Mer and made our way to the Pyrenees. We drove on to our overnight stop in Foix, passing some of the Cathar castles on the way. We were in Foix at lunchtime and stopped in the centre to have something to eat. We noticed that a band was due to play in the covered market square that evening. So the evening entertainment was guaranteed. We discovered that there were various musical performances organised in every square, bar and even shop, from brass bands to rock bands. We were particularly impressed by the local butcher and presumably his customers, who organised a small rave in front of his shop. After watching Latin, jazz and folk bands, we finally settled on a band playing mainly American rock from the 60s and 70s.

Foix not only brings “the sound of music” to the mountains, but is also known for its mediaeval town with its halftimbered houses and castle on a rocky outcrop above the town. It was not a Cathar castle, however, as the Counts of Foix sided with the barons of the north to help destroy the Cathars. Later, after the French Revolution, the castle was also used as a prison for political prisoners - not a good outcome. Nevertheless, it looks good at night when it is illuminated. The next day we continued westwards and upwards to the spa town of Luz-Saint-Sauveur. We were now in real hiking territory and decided to tackle the hike to the Cirque de Gavarnie, a huge rock amphitheatre with a glacier. The cliffs at the back reach 3248 metres (10,656 feet) and the Grand Cascade is the highest waterfall in Europe with a drop of 423 metres (1388 feet). The cliffs also form the border with Spain. The only incident of note on the hike was when a sheepdog chased a flock of sheep across a narrow section of path, scattering hikers and sheep everywhere. At this point I was

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Russ Adams

trying to take some artistic shots of a stream with a shutter speed of half a second. My reaction to the chaos resulted in a photo of blurred wool. I’m thinking about submitting it to the gallery in Aix.

The next day we hiked in the neighbourhood of Luz. LuzSaint-Sauveur acts as a hub for the local ski resorts in winter, including Barèges, the largest ski area in the French Pyrenees. The centre therefore consists mainly of sports shops that rent skis in winter and offer hiking and cycling equipment in summer, as well as a reasonable selection of restaurants and bars. Whilst walking around the area, we discovered some old churches and the ruins of the Château Sainte-Marie, which dates back to the Moorish occupation and was later used by the Knights of St John. We had decided that cycling in the Pyrenees wasn’t really suitable for

people of our age and fitness, but we were persuaded by a couple of cyclists that the route to Lourdes was quite easy. It turned out to be a 50km round trip with no really steep climbs, but long, hard-as-nails loops and the first/last 8km on a very busy, winding road. Lourdes seems a strange place if you’re not religious. The place where Bernadette Soubirous is said to have had 18 visions of the Virgin Mary in the Grotte de Massabielle is now one of the largest pilgrimage sites in the world. The town itself consists of a variety of hotels and souvenir shops. There are more hotels than in any other French city except Paris to accommodate the 7 million pilgrims who come each year to pray or hope for healing. After crossing the town, you will arrive at the magnificent religious site dominated by a multistorey church with various chapels on each level. Bernadette was commissioned by the Virgin to build the church. The grotto itself is an irregular shaped hollow in the rock face, with candles constantly burning on the right side, left by pilgrims as part of their prayers. Above the main entrance, there's a statue of the Virgin Mary, marking the exact spot where the apparitions are said to have occurred.

The effect on the faithful is undeniable. The man in front of me began to stroke and kiss the rock before sinking to his knees in reverence. We left Lourdes, me armed with a bottle of holy water, a plastic Bernadette statue, a fridge magnet of the Virgin Mary and a car sticker saying I Love Lourdes; I knew I would be safe from the unpredictable drivers on the return journey. The night before we left the Pyrenees, there was a huge storm with deafening thunder, lightning and torrential rain. Everything we had seemed to be damp, so we were looking forward to the sunny Atlantic resort of Biarritz. Unfortunately, the rain decided to follow us. Biarritz was a popular destination for royalty and the rich during the Belle Époque and remained a fashionable holiday resort until the 1950s. Then it began to lose ground to the growing popularity of the Cote d’Azure. In recent years, the resort has been revitalised by becoming a mecca for surfers. The result is a mix of magnificent villas and hotels from the Belle Epoque, apartment buildings from the 1930s and modernised surf hotels. Designer clothes shops and jewellers mingle with surf shops such as Billabong and Rip-Curl; it’s a mixture of Downton Abbey and Baywatch. We

ASSURANCES MAUCOURT For your insurance needs... No ORIAS: 080 045 868

• House • Health & Life • Motor • Business • Pet & Equine • and more... 14 Place du Donjon 79200 Parthenay Tel: 05 49 94 04 88 email:

Damien Maucourt Agent Général

Catherine Scown English speaking

really liked it though, the beaches are fantastic and the waves were huge when we were there. St-Jean-de-Luz may not be as great as Biarritz and with its natural bay it's not suitable for surfers, but it's beautiful. On our last full day in France, we walked along part of the coast between Biarritz and St Jean and found more great beaches separated by rocks. We stopped for tapas in the pretty little town of Bidart. Here we found a memorial to the Second World War, which was particularly well done and moving. The monument depicts the 4 four stages of the war: Rise of Fascism, Destruction of the People, Reconstruction of Democracy and the Declaration of Human Rights. Now back to reality…

FOR ALL YOUR INSURANCE NEEDS IN FRANCE PleEnasglie asshkspfoear Cokinring?ne

Have you just bought a house in France? Special discount for new owners

Fully comprehensive cover at competitive prices

Tel: +33 (0)5 49 25 87 06


Offices at Champdeniers & St. Pardoux (79). Come and visit us!

ORIAS no: 07007057

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 21

Sophie Stokes

Bringing the outside in Natural Christmas decorations

Did you know that the average household spends almost 200 euros on Christmas decorations every year and that we produce 30% more rubbish at Christmas than during the rest of the year? Historians believe that it was the Romans who started the trend for Christmas decorations as early as 500 BC. Many of their ideas have survived. Wreaths, presents, lights in trees, it was all part of the pagan festival of Saturnalia, which they celebrated in mid-December. In 336 AD, the first ‘Christmas’ was celebrated. The church opted for similar decorations and celebrations to the existing winter solstice festivals. Tinsel first appeared in Germany in the 1600s, but only became popular worldwide in the 1960s! It wasn’t until 1847 that a German called Hans Grenier made the first Christmas tree decorations... blown glass in the shape of fruit and nuts. These were known as baubles. In 1880, Edison invented the first electric Christmas lights. I love using natural decorations at any time of year. Christmas can be expensive enough, so free decorations are always a good idea. It's also fun to explore natural materials, and you can do that together during the holidays. Not only does this save money, but you can also spend some special time together discovering what treasures are hiding in sheltered spots in your garden or on country lanes. When you are out and about, take a small bag and keep your eyes peeled for pretty leaves, seeds, nuts, pine

cones, berries etc. I like to use lots of evergreen leaves at Christmas time. When it comes to homemade decorations, I like to add some contrasting colour, such as bright red berries or beautiful autumnal leaves. You could also use some cinnamon sticks or dried orange or apple slices, which also add a hint of festive scent. You might also discover a few colourful dogwood stalks or colourful holly leaves ... let your imagination run wild and have fun. There are no rules. I just tie mine with natural twine so I can compost everything when it's faded. But you might prefer to use glue for extra strength or ribbon if you’re feeling fancy. Simply tie your treasures together firmly in little swags. It's often worth giving the individual elements a little shake beforehand to make sure all the loose bits fall off. Dried materials are more fragile, so tie them around the sturdier stems rather than the weaker leaves. They look great on Christmas trees, on door or window handles or to decorate simply wrapped gifts instead of ribbon. PLEASE NOTE that some natural materials, such as berries, can be poisonous. So be careful if you have small children or pets (you can google poisonous plants to be on the safe side) You can buy my handmade Christmas wreaths and many other decorations at L’Atelier Createur, Place Cail, Chef Boutonne 79110. Alternatively , you can also order the above items by contacting me via my Facebook or Instagram page Cueillette et Découverte.


Gingers Kitchen

Discover Gingers Kitchen boutique in Airvault! • Affordable elegant tableware and tasty take-away lunches available from Tuesday to Saturday. • Home catering services also available. Visit us at 3 rue de La Porte Caillon, 79600 Airvault

Contact Lynda Gee: 06 21 79 09 54 email:

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Siret: 430 480 038 00032

Stay Connected The latest trends in satellite TV and internet services Stuart Wallace

Hello and welcome to December. Not literally, it’s not mine to give away, but you know what I mean. I never used to believe it was true when ‘older’ people said that time seems to pass faster the older you get. Well, the jokes on me now eh? What I thought was just dust and dirt from not having showered for some time, turned out to be gray hair! And yes, I do still look sexy (thank you Betty, though I know you didn’t have your glasses on), but even so, life comes at you fast eh? Still, George Clooney didn’t seem to suffer for it and he isn’t blessed in the looks department like I am! Anyway, let’s crack on, shall we?. This column isn’t going to read itself and I know that you’d all prefer to be here than Christmas shopping. Mrs W and I have long since stopped worrying about gifts for one another. The only thing each of us really wants is way too expensive to be practical. Have you seen the cost of divorce lawyers??? Freesat is not the same thing as Freeview. Similar channels but completely different boxes. One is for a satellite service, one isn’t. The clue is in the name. Did you know that since the very first satellite launch in 1957, more than 10,000 satellites have been launched into space. It is thought that over half of them are now no longer in use, meaning they are effectively ‘space junk’. I only mention this as I saw recently that the US issued their first ‘fine’ to a US-based satellite operator who they felt was not dealing with their ‘no longer in use’ satellites in a responsible way. See, they’ll even fine you for littering in space. It’s worth repeating that if you are bringing a Sky Q box from the UK to use in France, you need to use it in conjunction with a ‘wideband’ LNB. This works differently from a standard twin-output LNB. A Sky Q box will not work properly without a wideband LNB and 2 cables from the dish. However, the current Freesat+ box - which can also be used with a wideband LNB - will also work just fine from a standard twin-output LNB. The only difference is that you can record up to 4 channels at once using the wideband version (if you can find that many things worth recording). Confusing eh? Don’t assume that you will definitely need a satellite receiver to receive your channels. An increasing number of TVs now have a satellite tuner built-in. This can usually be found next to the standard terrestrial aerial socket that you might be using for your French TV reception. The terrestrial socket is smooth and the satellite socket will have a thread. If you do have one of these, it can connect directly to your cable from the dish. I’ve mentioned this before I know, but I am receiving a number of calls from people telling me that BBC1 is putting a message on their screen saying that they will lose the channel by March 2024. This is true. The BBC will be HD (high-definition) only by that time and so all you need to do is change your standard-definition satellite receiver for a high-definition one. Nothing else needs to be done. Unless that is you already have an HD free-to-air type receiver (so not Sky or Freesat branded) but you are still seeing the message from the BBC. If you are, this means you are simply watching the wrong version of BBC1. You’re watching in SD and not HD. In this case, all you need to do is scroll through your channel list and find BBC1 HD. If you can’t find it but your receiver is definitely HD (check to see if it has an HDMI socket on the rear of the unit) then you’ll need to conduct a new channel search to find it.

siret: 480 287 390 00037 | est. 2005 in France

The French House Satellite TV English free-to-air / Freesat Subscription TV French TV Set up of Netflix / Prime etc. Internet via 4G & satellite

Radius of 90 mins from 79240 Stuart Wallace 07 69 66 98 55

PC & Mac Installation, Set-up & Troubleshooting UK TV - BBC iPlayer with VPN in France Smart Home, Alexa, Google Installation New & Refurbished UK Computers Supplied Tablet & Smartphone Support Wi-Fi Installation & Troubleshooting Broadband set up (Orange, SFR, Free etc...) Software upgrades Virus & Malware Problems solved Repairs & Maintenance Data Recovery Website Design The Vendée & surrounding areas covered Personal Visits, Telephone Advice & Remote login available

Tel: 02 51 28 43 98 or Mobile: 06 82 49 61 60

email: Siret: 492 436 779 00028

LPV Technology

L’Absie - Coulonges - Parthenay

Windows/Mac/Linux Troubleshooting - no win, no fee Data recovery. Smartphone/tablet repairs WiFi issues. Practical help & instruction Bespoke programming

Contact David Thomas - Tel: 06 38 16 54 19 SIRET 822 017 984 00011

As always, please feel free to get in touch if you would like any further information or would like to discuss your requirements. Contact details can be found on the advert. Have a great month.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 23

By Steve Marshall

Taking Better Photographs... Insects

Beetles and ants and other crawling insects rarely make good subjects and my preference is for insects of the flying varieties. And flying insects can make beautiful, fascinating and sometimes difficult photographic subjects.

The difficulties include that they can and sometimes do move suddenly and in almost any direction. Add to that the fact that they respond to the arrival of a photographer in a similar way to how you or I might respond to the head of a thousand foot giant appearing in our peripheral vision. You can be lucky, and all great photographs include some element of luck. You may just be walking along when the right insect alights on the right leaf and your handy camera can be swung into immediate action. But planning helps.

The first thing you need to do is find somewhere frequented by insects. Flower gardens are a good start, especially for bees. All these pictures were taken around our house, helped by the fact that my wife is a wonderful gardener, and that we keep bees nearby. Moths are also attracted to flowers. Nettles, of which we have many, are an attractant for butterflies. Uncultivated gentle woodland can also be a useful starting point for finding insects. The second thing is patience. Find somewhere that gives you a range of possible shots with minimal movement and

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

where you can stand or sit and then stay relatively still. The insects may have disappeared on your arrival but avoid movement, especially rapid moves, and they will almost certainly come back.

The best time of day is usually late afternoon and early evening. By now most daytime insects are slowing down and less like to flit away. The next consideration is camera equipment. It is not impossible to take good insect pictures on a mobile phone but neither is it easy. The closer you get to most insects the more likely they are to fly away.

Most mobile phones have a wide angle of view which means your subject insect has to be very close to the camera to fill the frame. Zooming in just reduces the amount of the sensor that is used so the final quality may be rather poor. The latest mobile phones have greater capacity in managing the angle of view and using an optical zoom. If I ever upgrade to one of these I may do a more comprehensive review. The same problem occurs with close-up and macro lenses. The images can be excellent but pushing the lens close to the subject tends to disturb even the most sluggish insect.

using, provided they are available on your camera – continuous focus and back-button focus.

you may need to consult the manual. When I need the manual, and we all do from time to time, I find searching the downloadable version is the fastest and easiest.

Hug your camera close to keep it steady and fire away. When you need to move make sure this as slowly and unobtrusively as possible. Line up the focus on the next subject and take another batch.

I find a good telephoto lens works best. This allows you to fill your frame from a distance.

If you want to take flying insects there are two techniques you might consider

Continuous focus means the camera will keep refocusing whilst the focus button is operational – usually the shutter half-pressed. Back-button focus puts the focusing control on a button other than the shutter. It can take quite a bit of getting used to but means you can take many more photographs per second in burst mode. And you will need to use an editor to sort out which are in focus and which of those you like. If you would like to talk about photography with from some fellow photographers then please get in touch.

We all have things to learn from each other whatever our individual levels of expertise. Please drop me a line at

Good bright light helps as it allows you to use a fast shutter speed which is essential to capture the constantly moving wings of a hummingbird hawk moth. Using a wide aperture also helps keep the shutter speed high.

Once you have identified a subject you will usually not have much time to set up your camera. You may find aperture priority set wide, which means a low number, and spot focus, so you can be precise on the getting the insect sharp, are best. If you have a burst mode on your camera do not be afraid to use it. This may not be obvious on the main controls but deeper in the menus, so



Property Management Service located in Coulonges-Sur-L’autize, serving a 50km radius. Our comprehensive range of services includes:

e Changeovers e Cleaning e Gardening

e Key Holding e Odd Jobs e General Help SIRET 892 314 576 00018

Call, text or WhatsApp Laura on 07 88 83 33 50


by Peter Lowth

Catching the Big One

Specimen anglers target the biggest fish in a venue, it is very much fishing for quality over quantity. Specimens are specific fish of any given species, depending on what type of fish the specimen angler has in mind.

The key points for specimen angling are; researching your venue, preparing your equipment and having considerable patience. To catch your ideal specimen fish can take weeks rather than hours or days, you need to be “in it” for the long-haul or just get lucky!

As you can imagine, the equipment required to snare the biggest fish in a lake is extensive and expensive, according to my wife! Typically involving a minimum of; two rods and reels, a rod pod, bite alarms, unhooking mat, landing net, weigh sling and scales, overnight bivvy (fishing tent), bed, sleeping bag, cooker, food (for you & the fish!) an assortment of hooks, weights, rigs, lines and other fishing paraphernalia. Baits for specimen fish will include artificial baits such as boillies, popups, pellets as well as natural baits such as maize, worms and maggots. In addition, you may wish to add a radio-controlled baitboat to deliver your hookbait and freefeed to the targeted fishing areas. The baitboat is often accompanied by a sonar fishfinder, to help locate the specimen fish or you can use experience and watercraft to work out feeding locations.

On the River Ebro, Spain with a 39lb wild river Common Carp

If you frequent any of the larger fishing retail outlets, there is a plethora of equipment on offer for specimen anglers, but it is best to start with some basic tackle and rigs and to seek local knowledge surrounding your chosen location.

You can usually spot a specimen angler from the sheer amount of kit he transports to a venue, there is usually a trailer or van involved! In France, specimen angling often turns into a family affair and can be very sociable. With families and groups of friends camping out in idyllic, rural locations for weekends to support the specimen angler in catching his perfect prey.

The anticipation of catching your very own Moby Dick is half the fun of specimen angling. Regular fishing requires multiple catches throughout a day for it to be deemed “a good day”, whereas with specimen angling the pressure is off, as you wait for “The One”!

Catching that PB (personal best) is the whole raison d’être of specimen angling and once experienced, the pursuit of the next PB can be quite addictive for the specimen angler - you have been warned! Till next month, tight lines!


Peter Lowth is an experienced angler with over 40 years of fishing knowledge in match, predator, coarse and fly fishing. Growing up near Bath, fishing local rivers and ponds, he then transitioned to competitive fly fishing and in recent years competed on the UK match fishing circuit. He opened Les Forges Fishing venue, located near Pescalis, in early 2023 –

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

On the River Ebro, Spain with a 148lb Catfish

On the Bristol Avon River, Bath with a 12lb 14oz Barbel IMAGES CREDIT: P J LOWTH

The FALL One of the many things I love about autumn is the sense of change you can feel in the air – the end of a cycle. Whether it's the leaves falling from the trees in their various colours, the many cucurbitaceae that can be found everywhere, or the ghoulishness that surrounds Halloween. However, even loving autumn as I do, I never thought I would be fortunate enough to be present in a vineyard to experience the seasonal changes that come with autumn. After the harvest, autumn brings focus back onto the vineyard and the maintenance required to keep everything ticking over. These last few months have been focused on rewiring the vines, which use a support called a trellis system which allows the tendrils of the vine to climb, exposing the leaves to more sunshine as well as promoting air movement. As some of the vines are a few decades old, the wires have deteriorated and need to be replaced before the winter months. We also been cleaning the ‘cuves" as we’ve transferred wine from

one tank to another, although I am still astonished I managed to fit through the tiny entrance! Like many other vegetative cycles, the vine sheds its leaves preparing itself for rest during the colder months, so it can start the cycle afresh with budburst in the spring. However, this year, this process has been delayed and it begs the question – why? This is a hot topic of conversation in Chinon, hot being the operative word. Why is it this mild during October/November? Not to mention the unusually copious amounts of rain.

I discussed the matter with head winemaker Clement Curet as we walked through the cellar to complete a task called 'ouiller': topping up the level of the wine that has diminished in barrel because of the quantity that has evaporated or ‘the angels’ share’, so that no empty space remains in the barrel - to avoid oxidation. He shared his concerns about how global warming is potentially affecting the vines and creating new buds in October, pushing the vine into a second cycle. Rather than the vine going into its dormant state, it is preparing to start a

second cycle in the same year, working the vine twice as hard, leaving it no time to rest. Something to think about. Just like the seasons, I'm going to move on to a cosier topic, namely Christmas wine recommendations. While it is wise to think of our impending climatic doom, I prefer to ponder the festivities of Christmas. Let me recommend some Domaines based in the Deux-Sèvres that produce some lovely wines which are reasonably priced and would be wonderful to purchase for Christmas lunch or as gifts! Here are some of my local favourites: 1). Domaine des Trahan – based in Cersay 2). Les Terres Blanches – based in Oiron (all organic and biodynamic production) 3). Domaine de la Gachère – based in St Pierre à Champ 4). Domaine de la Roche Lambert– based in Mauze Thouarsais 5) Domaine Lacroix – based in BouilléLoretz While it is not based in the DeuxSèvres, I do also highly recommend the wines of Chateau de Petit Thouars in Chinon, where I am currently based. Feel free to reach out to me on my Instagram account if you would like more specific recommendations for food pairings or your personal tastes. Wishing you all a Merry Christmas and look forward to sharing more anecdotes with you in the New Year. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 27

Keeping Busy “It must be a doddle being a beekeeper in winter, there’s nothing to do!” such is the kind of remark we often hear, but, au contraire, the winter months give us a chance to catch up on lots of jobs. We also still have to care for our bees to ensure that they survive the ‘downtime’ and emerge in the spring as healthily as possible. Just because we don’t see them as often as we do between March and October, that doesn’t mean we can forget about them. It’s important to ensure that our hives are sound, secure and waterproof, and we have to check for dampness under roofs and on crownboards after any prolonged period of bad weather. If there are any stretches of particularly windy weather then we often place bricks or large stones on the hive roofs to weigh them down, and we know of beekeepers who have hives in exposed positions where strapping them to the stands is a common requirement. We’ll be keeping an eye on the overnight temperatures too, and if they drop significantly for any length of time then we’ll be installing insulation. This is in the form of a foil or foam lining in the

Amanda Baughen

hive roof, and/or a layer of straw or wood shavings above the crownboard to help retain warmth. Helping the bees to keep warm means that they won’t have to expend more energy than necessary and will therefore help to reduce the use of their stores. Having enough to eat can be an issue for the bees; if the winter is fairly mild but wet they will be active inside the hive but unable to venture outside. This means they will be consuming more than usual of the food they have stored and so we may need to add some fondant above the frames to give them a boost. How can we tell if they have from mice and wax moths. We review enough? We heft the hives on a regular our notes and decide on our plans for basis; at the start of winter they should the coming year, and plan our have around 20kg of honey and equipment purchases. On fine days obviously this will reduce as the weeks we’ll be planting early-flowering bulbs go by. If the hive feels particularly light for bees and other pollinating insects then we provide extra food. as, even though it feels a long way off, Traditionally, on Boxing Day we will give spring will be here before we know it! the bees a small amount of fondant as a Christmas gift, and of course we’ll With an eye on making plans for the toast them with a glass of bubbly! future, why not consider beekeeping We also check the security of the hives; next year? We offer vouchers for entrance reducers are used to prevent courses and experiences which make mice from getting in and we also the perfect Christmas gift….just visit our protect the hives from woodpeckers by website for further wrapping chicken wire around the information. In the meantime we wish brood boxes. you all the very best for Christmas and The quieter winter months give us an the New Year – see you in 2024! opportunity to clean all our equipment, especially the smokers which, after a Kevin and Amanda Baughen, 13 Bees, busy summer season, are coated inside Confolens. Tel.: 0545 71 22 90 with black tar. Looking inside a smoker is all the incentive anyone needs to give up smoking cigarettes! The best move you can make Sorting through frames of comb is important too; we render any Pre move house clearance/down sizing wax to use in House/Barn/Garage clearance made easy our candleSecure storage with CCTV and security gates making workshops, and We collect, store, and redeliver then store the SIRET 94985058000018 combs in secure crates to tel: 06 07 07 31 47 protect them email:


Fortnightly deliveries to the Deux-Sèvres

Hassle Free Customs Clearance




PLEASE CALL STEPHEN on +44 (0) 7966 287430

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Clare’s Garden Diary

Clare Hill

Well here we are almost at the end of the year, whilst writing this the rain is pouring down and the summer sunshine is a distant memory! My thoughts are turning to the end of year festivities, whether you celebrate with French or English traditions, or a mixture. there are always jobs to do in the garden, but i hope you can also relax a while too, while the garden rests, so should the gardeners. Here are a few tasks for the month ahead; The depths of winter is the time to prune shrub and climbing roses, from late December to February. I normally start mine on New Years Day after a hearty breakfast.

Before Christmas aim to have pruned grapevines, cutting back side branches to one or two buds from the main stems you wish to leave in place. Finish clearing old crops and debris from the veg plot, composting healthy non-diseased material. Add a layer of

It’s wise to check terracotta pots for cracks and wrap with fleece or bubble wrap to protect from frost damage. Pots should be put up onto feet, or bricks to allow drainage, especially for shrubs in pots.

Jobs for December;

Plant bare root roses (my favourite job!) and other deciduous shrubs, including ornamental trees. If receiving bare root plants in the post or by courier its best to place in a bucket of water for at least 6 hours to rehydrate them before planting.

Before the frosts, protect tender shrubs, climbers and dahlias by adding straw or fallen leaves as a mulch. I leave dahlias in the ground, trim the stalks back to 10cm then add leaves, secure with an upturned flower pot and add a stick through to secure from the wind and dogs disturbing them.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 29

organic matter to help the soil and add nutrients ready for the next crops. Pelargoniums can be brought into the greenhouse or a cool windowsill. Regularly pick faded leaves off them and water sparingly throughout winter. It’s important to think of our feathered friends, with fresh water and bird food for them. They will help you in your garden with aphids and other pests in the springtime. You may choose to cut back faded perennials or alternatively leave some until spring to provide seeds and safe winter homes for insects

Bulbs including Amaryllis and Hyacinths can be planted now and brought into the home, place in a cool bright spot, for you to enjoy the blooms in the New Year. Hyacinth bulbs can be planted outside when the flowers have faded, and will provide spring colour in future years. Helleborus often have big sprawling leaves, these can be cut back to enable the flowers to be seen early in the New Year.

If your thoughts are turning towards Christmas gifts for gardeners, here are a few ideas of useful and thoughtful presents.

Presents for gardeners

e Gloves are always welcomed, especially those fleecy lines ones for winter gardening! Gauntlets too for the gardener with a lot of thorny bushes or roses to prune.

e Protection for knees is essential with either a kneeling pad, or the type that strap onto the knees. Great for any DIY too.

e Hardwearing garden aprons with lots of pockets make great gifts, somewhere to put the hand tools and gloves and plant labels so they are handy. e Secateurs and a holster are a great gift; just check the size of the recipient’s hands before choosing.

e I'll be asking for a good thick hand cream, and some long woollen socks to go inside boots, although I did treat myself to some horse mucking out boots last winter, as they are waterproof and faux fur lined extremely cosy feet guaranteed! e Gardeners always love to receive seeds, especially more unusual ones they may not have grown before.

e Baskets of all sizes make great gifts, can be used to put other gifts in, and then used around the garden when harvesting veg and picking flowers.


Pool renovations Hi-tech leak detection Underground pipe repairs Liner replacement and fitting Automatic dosing systems/chlore/salt/brome Pump/filtration/pool technical rooms Pool heating/heat pumps Maintenance/cleaning contracts Home buyer/seller diagnostic reports

------ 20 years doing business in france -----06 3117 25 60

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

SIRET: 477 488 266 00016

e Bird feeders and birdbaths can make decorative and useful gifts; even an old pretty teapot can be used hanging up with seed in, as long as the birds can perch on something to access the food. e Gardening books are always a popular choice, with many books released to coincide with Christmas gift buying!

e If you run out of ideas, a Gift Certificate from a garden centre or local gardens will put a smile on their faces too.

Well, I'm off to find the mincemeat I am sure I made last year, and think about making a Christmas cake before it's too late. A bientôt,


About Clare Clare, along with her husband Martin and their furry family, moved to North Vienne in 2017. With a passion for plants inherited from her family, Clare is currently studying Horticulture with the Royal Horticultural Society. Previously working in corporate and private banking, Clare now

Give your business a natural boost

Plant the seeds of success by advertising here from only €40 per month email: for more details!


enjoys the tranquility of her garden, where she experiments and nurtures her favorite plants, especially roses. An animal lover, Clare shares her home with 4 rescue dogs and a mischievous puppy. She also loves brocantes and vide greniers and is a Reiki Master Teacher and a Tai Chi/Qi Gong teacher.

Mr Fix It Tel: 05 49 63 26 57 “Les Frenes” Lieu dit La Nauliere 79130 Le Retail

• Garden Maintenance • Hedge cutting • Mowing • Chipping • Strimming • Log Splitting • Repairs and maintenance of lawn mowers, strimmers and garden machinery.

a ish o w d new t e n k i a l ld old as & r! wou rs, We stome hristm w Yea e u C ur c ppy he N ll to all o ery Ha s for t c e a a V ishe ve us servic w t i 4 s g 2 e B se 20 Pleak your o bo

SIRET 513 253 823 00019

TREE SURGEON • Fully insured and registered • Free quotes and advice • From pruning to dismantles • Overgrown hedges

Call Darren Shepherd 05 49 87 29 16 / 06 73 21 00 27

SIRET: 887 672 178 00019

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 31

Clubs & Associations Alcoholics Anonymous - South West France If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, there are now a number of English-speaking meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the South West of France. Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who share experiences, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership and AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation or institution. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.

For help or information, telephone: 05 31 60 90 95 or visit:

Craft Café Creatif - We are a craft group who meet once a fortnight on a Wednesday afternoon at Pause Café, L'Absie. Our members knit,crochet,sew, embroider etc. We craft and socialize over a cup of tea. New members welcome - contact

Netball: Clessé Allstars - The Clessé Allstars netball club meets every Monday at Salle Omnisports, Clessé 79350 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. We welcome players and supporters of all ages and abilities. Join us for a free taster session before signing up. FB @clubdenetballclesse

CHORALE MELUSINE, PARTHENAY - French 4-part choir, established over 30 years (with 4 English members) and always looking for "new blood"! Excellent Musical Director. Come to a rehearsal on Tuesday evenings and see if it's for you. Contact Keith for info 0671 14 16 72 Vasles Netball Club - Want to keep fit, have fun & make new friends? Join us every Monday from 5.30 - 7pm & Thursday 6.30 - 8pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles. Open to men & women of all abilities and experience. Two free taster sessions. FB @VaslesNetballClub Email:


Crafts, Community and Friendship. We run regular workshops and events as well as offer community workshop space for crafting and making. Learn new skills and share your talents. New members welcome. Contact us for details: or telephone 05 49 80 39 57.

French Lessons for English Speakers

Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), 4 Place Leopold Bergeon, 79150 Argenton-les-Vallées Classes: beginners or intermediate. Private lessons on request. Contact:

melleran Chanteurs - Amateur singing group that meets every Monday at 6:45 pm at the Salle des Fêtes in Melleran. French and English members singing in many languages. New voices are always welcome, especially tenor and bass. For more information, please contact Alison Hudson 05 49 29 65 31

Combined Services Support Group - CSSG is a group of mainly ex services people living in the area who meet socially whilst raising funds to support ex-service charities. Former UK servicemen and women, police and firefighters are invited to email Christine Hester at Why Not joiN thE RAF FAmiLy? RAFA Sud-Ouest France Le Perail, 17250 BEURLAY, France Tel: 05 46 95 38 89 email: North Charente Maritime Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club

AFVBC - The newly formed North Charente Maritime Armed Forces and Veterans Breakfast Club meets the second Sunday of every month at 10:15 a.m. at the Relais d'Aulnay. Reservations with Ann and Allan at

Airvault Conversation - Come and practice your French with a friendly group of French and English speakers. Every Wednesday at 7pm at the Salle CSC 16 rue Emmanuel Bonnet, 79600 AIRVAULT Call Christian for more information: 05 49 63 04 78

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Acceuil des Villes Françaises - A French association dedicated to welcoming newcomers from all over France and abroad to their new surroundings; helping them integrate, speak French, and feel 'at home' through social events.

Les Amis Solitaires is a group of people living alone in France. We organise social events and meet for coffee at The Lemon Tree in Sauze Vaussais, 11am every 2nd and 4th Thursday. Contact Pennie on Royal British Legion - Bordeaux & South West France Do you need help or advice? Contact us at:

National Helpline 0800 240 200 or email: You can find more details about CSF Vienne & Deux-Sèvres by visiting:

Franglais Anglo-French Group thouars - Centre Socio-Culturel We meet every Wednesday 7.30pm-9pm, at 7 rue Anne Desrays, for conversation in English & French, and to understand each other’s language and culture. Contact 05 49 66 35 11 or email or

Are you single and living in the South Vendee? Would you like to meet others for social events with the emphasis on fun and not dating? We meet in Fontenay-le-Comte on the first Wednesday morning of each month. Occasional weekend lunches. Find us on Facebook SOLO EN FRANCE (Sud Vendée) or contact Rosalind at for further information.

Tai Chi classes - exercise for body and mind (and memory) for everyone. Classes are held Mondays at 7:30 pm in Bressuire and Wednesdays at 3:00 pm in Le Breuil Barret. Call Terry at 05 49 65 60 34, email or visit Clubs & Associations Submission: include title and 40-word max entry (with contact details) and optional logos if space allows. Free ads rotate monthly; for guaranteed monthly printing, pay a 4.50€ monthly fee (54€ annually). Email submissions to:

Clubs & Associations A Shout Out for Sponsors As we approach 2024, it's important that we prioritise the needs of the children we support and raise awareness in our community. Let's bring their challenges to the forefront of our collective consciousness and work to create a better future for them. We have received great support from local businesses in the area, and are optimistic that they'll continue to help us with our fundraising efforts. We want to ensure that the lion's share of the funds we raise goes directly to the children we're helping. That's why we encourage other companies to join us by sponsoring part of the running costs of running our association. We're fortunate to receive donations of items for our seasonal hampers, online raffles, quiz and bingo prizes. But there is always more to do and we need to constantly raise awareness of our work. To cover the costs of our publicity work, we're looking for sponsors to support us with banners and information boards at events. Sponsors benefit from having their name on all of these items and being mentioned on our social media platforms. If you're interested or know someone who might be, please get in touch. (And don't forget: all donations can be claimed against your tax return!) In November, we were able to send €1000 to Mahé, a sevenyear-old boy who is battling a rare genetic disease. Mahé cannot speak and cannot walk without help. Earlier this year we donated for his specialised walker, and this recent sum will go towards his intensive physiotherapy in Spain. If you want to keep up to date with our activities, sign up on our website (free of charge!) to receive regular newsletters. We're pleased to announce that we have recently been audited for the first time. Thanks to the work of our treasurer Jo, we passed with flying colours and received useful recommendations for the coming years. To conclude this report, we'd like to extend our warmest Christmas greetings to everyone. Let's work together to continue to support these great children in 2024.

John Blair

The end of October saw Reaction Theatre Association’s first performance for five years, when we presented a variety show called 'It's Showtime!' On each of the two performances we welcomed good sized audiences who were very enthusiastic and appreciative of the many acts. Our thanks go to all of you who braved the miserable weather to support us. This type of show involved over 20 performers; some appearing in 6 or more different acts and many for the first time on stage. Other members fulfilled important backstage and front of house roles. The large number of rehearsals with different groups of people and in different places was challenging, but the show brought all the members involved together. We would like to present different shows each year and a questionnaire

was completed by several audience members asking them about the type of shows they would like to see in the future. Your opinions would also be welcome. Please tell us your thoughts by email to Keynotes Choir will be singing at three venues in December:1. Scillé (Salle Bernard Choucq – behind the mairie) on Saturday 2nd at 3pm 2. Terves Christmas Market on Sunday 3rd at 3pm 3. Saint Pardoux Christmas Fair (Foyer Rural) on Sunday 10th at 11am. For details of the meetings of our book club and poetry reading groups please see the ‘What’s On page’. If you’d like to join us or just find out more please email And a very happy Christmas to you all.

Vienne and Deux-Sèvres

Philip Buckley

A Stroke of Generosity for Cancer Support France

At Bluegreen Golf, Domaine des Forges, on October 8th, the generous participants of a golf tournament raised an impressive 750 euros for our association. We are extremely grateful for this kind donation and are indebted to Delphine Percole and Richard Dupuy for organising such a hugely successful event. This photograph captures the moment of the cheque presentation, featuring two dedicated volunteers from our association, Denise Langford and Vinny Galloway.

Looking ahead, two of our volunteers, Dawn and Carol, will be present at the Christmas Fayre hosted by Funny Farm Cat Rescue at Le Grand Beaupuits 79200 on Saturday, November 25th. They will be there to raise awareness about the invaluable work of Cancer Support France. There will be a collection box if anyone would like to offer a small donation. We sincerely appreciate the Cat Rescue Charity for providing us with this opportunity. One of our long-serving volunteers, Denise Langford, has made the decision to conclude her involvement with Cancer Support France. Since 2006, she has tirelessly dedicated herself to the association, offering her extensive local knowledge and bilingual support to numerous families in Deux Sevres. We extend our heartfelt thanks to Denise for her unwavering commitment and dedication over the past 17 years and wish her the very best as she enters this new phase of her retirement.

Thank you for your continued support and please get in touch through the helpline if you feel that you can offer time , energy and commitment to this most worthwhile cause. You can get in touch with us here: National Helpline 0800 240 200 email: You can find more details about CSF Vienne and Deux-Sèvres by visiting:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 33

Seasonal Recipes

by Sujatha Otzen

Vegetarian Vol-au-Vent

An easy appetiser ideal for any celebratory occasion using store bought vol au vent cases. These cases come in various sizes so you can choose the manner of serving - petite ones make for great finger food, the bigger ones can be served as a starter with a simple green salad on the side.


• A knob of butter + 1 tablespoon sunflower or vegetable oil • 1 carrot finely diced • 5-6 small mushrooms finely chopped • 1 garlic clove minced • A small handful of frozen peas • ½ teaspoon cumin powder • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder • ½ teaspoon coriander powder • 1 teaspoon curry powder • Salt and pepper • 1 tablespoon flour • 120-150ml double cream • 6 ready to use vol au vent cases

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. 2. Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the vegetables and garlic to the pan and saute them for a few minutes until softened. 3. Add the spices and season with salt and pepper. Add the flour to the pan and stir everything together for a minute. Add the cream to the pan and let it simmer until the sauce thickens. If it gets too thick too quickly, take the pan off the heat and add a little bit of boiling water to loosen it up. 4. Spoon the stuffing into the vol au vent cases arranged on a baking tray. Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven, let it cool down for a few minutes before serving.

Chocolate Mendiants

These delicious treats take very little time to put together. The quantities mentioned here make around 15 mendiants. You may adjust the amounts depending on how many you'd like to make, after all, they do make for perfect edible gifts.


• 170g milk or dark chocolate • A handful of chopped dried nuts such as cashew nuts and pistachios and raisins.


1. Break up the chocolate into small pieces into a bowl. 2. Add some water to a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Lower the heat and place the bowl on top of the saucepan (make sure the bowl fits the saucepan snugly and that its bottom doesn't touch the simmering water). 3. Stir the chocolate pieces together as they begin to melt. 4. Once the chocolate has completely melted, remove the bowl from the saucepan. 5. Using a tablespoon, form little disks of the melted chocolate onto a parchment paper lined baking tray. You can also transfer the melted chocolate to a piping bag and pipe it into disks. 6. Once all the chocolate has been used up, top the disks with the dried nuts and fruit, pressing them in slightly. Set the tray aside until the chocolate sets. 7. Once set, you may store the mendiants in an airtight container for a few days.

Roasted Bacon Wrapped Pork Tenderloin (SERVES 4-6)

This is a simple yet elegant recipe that would not be out of place on your festive table. It goes very well with a side of roasted or mashed potatoes. If using one single large piece of pork tenderloin, it's easiest to cut them into halves and then place the two halves next to each other, slightly overlapping, to ensure that you have enough bacon to comfortably drape around them. Otherwise, you just need to use more bacon slices to cover the entire length of the fillet.


• 800-900g pork tenderloin fillets • 1½ teaspoon paprika powder • 1 teaspoon cumin powder • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon • 1½ teaspoon salt • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 200g (14-15 slices) streaky bacon (look for poitrine fumée, en tranches) • 1 tablespoon maple syrup


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. 2. Trim the pork tenderloin fillets of any excess fat. Mix together the spices, salt and olive oil. Rub this spice mix all over the pork and set aside. 3. On a baking tray lined with parchment paper, arrange the bacon slices in an overlapping manner wide enough to fit the pork fillet on top and with enough overlap to wrap the bacon around the pork.

4. Place the pork on top of the bacon slices and wrap the bacon around it. 5. Brush the top of the bacon with the maple syrup. Transfer the tray to the oven and roast the bacon wrapped pork for about 40 minutes. The internal temperature should be at least 70-75C. 6. Remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 10 minutes before cutting into slices.


Learn to cook your favourite Indian dishes with Sujatha at Closerie Les Roches 1 day workshops from 9.30am-3pm Small groups of 4-6 only €80 per person - lunch included Tel: +33 784372991 or email: Visit for more details.


Easy Crossword (with thanks to rob Berry) ACROSS

1. A condition caused by a deficiency of Vitamin C (6) 4. Blame for (6) 8. Legally take a child into your family (5) 9. The yellow part of an egg (3-4) 10. North African country (5) 11. A body of troops arranged in a line (7) 12. Fashionable and wealthy district in central London (9) 15. Shield from danger (7) 16. Appeal or request earnestly (5) 17. Very spicy sauce made from red peppers (7) 18. Clumsy; generally incompetent and ineffectual (5) 19. To say again or imitate (6) 20. Chess move involving the king and a rook (6)


2. An attendant who carries the golf clubs for a player (6) 3. The amount of money paid out per unit time (9-4) 5. A British colony in the Caribbean north-west of Jamaica (6-7) 6. Not often (6) 7. A joyful occasion for special festivities to mark some happy event (11) 13. A thick fatty oil; lubricant (6) 14. System for online money transfer (6)

Cryptic Crossword (with thanks to Mike Morris)


1. Getting put out, when only trying to gauge opinion? (7) 5. Investigate expert worker having lost half his energy. (5) 8. Plainer vegetables can be used to provide sauce. (5) 9. Reacted badly to having been set up. (7) 10. Parts of crop Romans, among others, were requested to contribute on a temporary basis? (4) 11. Central London surrounded by raider setting up fence. (8) 14. One of a possible five entailed in court action? (3) 16. Account about island race one put in loft. (5) 17. Sounds like not everybody is in the reckoning? (3) 19. Touch receptors cats use to stir things up? (8) 20. Slip fielder at long leg initially. (4) 23. We hear those who are controlling, what we see are detectors? (7) 25. Palindromic spotting system sees lady in posh car. (5) 26, Give credit to work out of two sides in heads down struggle. (5) 27. Sensing mobile appendage locates worker before girl comes back. (7)


1. Puts the blame on lunatic fringes. (7) 2. No time for alarm as mistake is made. (5) 3. Establishing agreement on Egyptian views...(4) 4. written in Farsi culture. (3) 5. Pens Cree settled in establishing an existence. (8) 6. Notes more than one Latin welcome given to short month. (7) 7. Low bridge I'd erected is holding! Duck! (5) 12. Get into hospital department set up by the queen. (5) 13. Rock a mob tossed into undercover workplace. (4, 4) 36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly








15. Pub included in nearly all there is, less some volume. (7) 18. Song written with bad French is a problem of epidemic nature. (7) 19. Afterthought given to what existed before team likely to go into 26. (5) 21. If no force is applied, a cultivated area can easily become a forest. (5) 22. Young Simpson boy got mixed up with celebrity pack. (4) 24. Scientists, politicians and leaders get together in resort. (3) You’ll find all the answers on page 46!




Very Hard

Decode the message Each letter in the phrase has been replaced with a random letter or number. A B C D E F G H


__ __ A M __ __ A M




S __ __ __ __ A H E P S __ H __ __ __ A H E P D __ __ __ U N R


__ __ __ Y T F



__ __ __ Y T F __ U


__ U __ U

M __ __ __ __ __ C M W W Y M __ __ __ __ __ C M W W Y

__ __ __ __ __ P U Q Q Y

__ __ __ N M A

Start a new career as a property sales agent



S __ __ M __ __ S __ __ __ __ __ I P W H E X C U E S __ __ M __ __ S __ __ __ __ __ I P W H E X C U E __ __ __ __ ! Y M U W

Scan the QR code and watch my story!

Thierry Bonnet - Leggett Agent

If you would like the freedom to grow a successful business supported by an award winning team, please contact our recruitment department.

+33 (0)5 53 60 82 77 · ·

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 37

Building & Renovation SIRET 883 823 908 00016

DPS Services

Gardener | Handyman

Garden maintenance, grass cutting, strimming, hedge cutting, weed control, planting, pruning, pathways & patios Fence Installation and repairs Interior & exterior decorating Regular visits or one-off jobs Local & dependable

Darren Stutter

Phone: 05 49 94 27 29 | email: | L'ancienne Ecole, 79310

DARREN LAWRENCE Railing & Plasterboarding Renovation Work Painting, Decorating & Tiling Wood Flooring Carpentry Bathrooms & Kitchens Contact Darren Lawrence Tel: 05 49 94 64 90 Email: Based near Parthenay. Siret no: 802 238 964 00018

La Deuxieme Chance. 7, rue de la Croix Cholette, 79120, Messé. Tel: 05 49 27 12 62 siret: 49910212300039

jon-thecarpetman 1000’s of modern carpet samples available to choose from..... Ask for our At Home service and we’ll bring the samples to you! Covering all of Deux-Sèvres and neighbouring departments

Free estimates - no obligation

35 years experience ~ Fully registered and insured

Contact Jon Prince Tel: 09 63 56 23 10 Mob: 06 42 19 82 12 Email: or visit our website to find out more Find us on Facebook

PRINCE S.A.R.L. siret 538 076 688

38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

H&R Building & Renovation Services < Roof repairs < Carpentry < Renovations and Refurbishment < Blockwork and Brickwork < Boarding and Plastering < Velux and Dormers < Groundwork, Patios and Paving < Kitchens (Howdens) & Bathrooms

tel/WhatsApp: 06 29 62 81 26 email: web:

SIRET: 8414 0681 200013

Building and Renovation Services SIRET: 51086916700013

All aspects of building work undertaken:

• Roof repairs/new roofs • Carpentry • Floor sanding • Bathrooms & Plumbing

Tel: 07 76 69 46 64 or 05 49 64 41 81

email: web:

40 years experience in construction, including 18 years in France


Had an eye watering quote for your fosse? Don't panic! We’re here for you! Based near Chef Boutonne and covering a 50km radius. We also offer all aspects of groundworks including:

• all types of fosse septique installed • machine and driver hire • drainage • driveways • foundations • tree stump removal • ground clearance • trench digging for electric/water/services

mobile: +44 7725 233726 10 Year Decennale Insurance


Siret: 882 747 348 00010

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 39

Building & Renovation STEVE COUPLAND Based 79130 Secondigny

SIRET: 491 711 354 00036

Property Services including:Plumbing Tiling Dry Walling

Mobile: 07 89 30 95 86


Property Services

Membre de la Chambres de Métiers et de l’Artisanat Fully Insured

Building / Brickwork Property Maintenance Patios & Decking Repointing

SIRET 851 535 930 00016

Roof repairs Garden Maintenance Landscaping Tel: 05 49 94 63 59 Mob: 07 80 66 70 96 email:

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly


FULLY QUALIFIED & INSURED 35 YEARS EXPERIENCE Domestic & commercial Deux-Sèvres & surrounding areas Available 24/7

MICHAEL MOORE TEL - 06 49 61 26 68


SIRET - 881 860 506 00016


Building & Renovation


® Handyman/Man & Van services ® House / Barn Clearance ® Railing/Insulating/Plasterboarding S Decorating ® Interior/Exterior & Flooring ® Garden Clearance ® Odd jobs...anything considered BASED IN 79160 COULONGES-SUR-L’AUTIZE

SIRET 892 311 952 00014

Call, Text or WhatsApp Owen on 06 73 50 14 41 email:



$ %

1, " , 2 3

&' ( ( ) %


+, - ., / 0 0 0

###! !" !"

%, 0 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 41

Our Furry Friends Support Ark79's "Raise the Roof" Campaign France Launches New System to Report Animal Cruelty

In a significant move to protect animals, France has launched a new public reporting system for animal cruelty. This service allows anyone who witnesses acts of animal cruelty or neglect to report them directly through a dedicated website. The French government's initiative is part of a broader strategy to curb animal abuse and encourage responsible pet ownership. The new system streamlines the reporting process, making it easier for citizens to report instances of animal cruelty and ensuring faster response times from authorities. If you witness an incident of animal cruelty or neglect, here's how you can report it:


You will be asked specific questions about the condition of the animal and details of the suspected abuse. If the animal is in immediate danger, call 17 directly to report it to the police.

Acts that constitute ill-treatment or abuse include depriving an animal of food or water, not providing care to a sick or wounded animal, keeping an animal in an unsafe environment, and using restraining devices such as electric or barbed fencing or shock devices that inflict pain unless absolutely necessary. The penalties for animal cruelty in France are severe, with fines ranging from €750 to €45,000. The most serious infractions, such as committing cruel acts in front of minors or wilful abandonment leading to certain death, can result in a three-year jail sentence. France's commitment to animal welfare is clear, and this new reporting system sends a strong message: animal cruelty will not be tolerated. By reporting any form of animal abuse or neglect, we can all play a part in creating a safer environment for animals.

Ark79, the association well-known for its substantial contributions to other animal charities, is currently facing a significant challenge. The roof of their main barn, the crucial space for selling bric a brac, urgently needs repair. Without this essential maintenance, the association's operations could be seriously hampered. Despite this adversity, Ark79's supporters have rallied impressively, contributing generously to the "Raise the Roof" campaign. So far, they've managed to raise €2335 through various channels. One such initiative is the "Sponsor a Tile" fundraiser, where donors can sponsor a tile for €2. Each sponsor’s name will be added to an artwork that will be framed and displayed in Ark79's barn as a token of gratitude. The total cost for the necessary materials is €6500. Fortunately, a registered and insured roofer has generously offered to perform the work for free, asking only to cover his apprentice's costs. Most of the expenses not met by donations will be initially covered by Ark79 and then reimbursed over four years by Emma, the president/owner, who is willing to personally cover any remaining costs. Ark79's commitment to animal welfare is unwavering. The funds raised for roof repairs will not detract from the funds allocated for animal care, which are sourced from separate fundraisers organised by the owner. To support Ark79's campaign, consider donating through PayPal at Don't forget to add 'roof' as a comment and leave your name if you wish to sponsor a tile. to get in touch, email:, visit or search for arK 79 animal Charity shop on Facebook

Lend a Helping Paw to The Funny Farm The Funny Farm Cat Rescue, operated by Heather, Holly, and a devoted team of volunteers, provides care for cats and kittens, many requiring extra attention due to health issues or disabilities. This holiday season, they're urgently in need of cat food, specifically Friskies or Ultima croquettes and any meatbased wet food. They also need kitten food, particularly Whiskas sachets and Purina One kitten croquettes. As Heather puts it, "If everyone who visited brought us one item, we would possibly have enough for two weeks." To streamline contributions, they've set up an Amazon Wish List. Heather adds, "We have been asked for an Amazon Wish List which we have created. If anyone would like to send us anything from the list, we would be really grateful." You can find the list at

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Every Wednesday, the Funny Farm opens its doors to visitors. Enjoy hot and cold drinks and delicious cakes at their on-site café, explore the wonderful donations displayed in their sale room or reserve a cat ready for adoption. Remember, their last open day before Christmas is December 13th. The Funny Farm is also actively seeking adoptive families for cats with special needs. Your support could make a significant difference in these feline lives. Join the cause, visit the Funny Farm Cat Rescue, and help brighten the holiday season for these deserving felines. to get in touch, email: or search for Funny Farm Cat rescue on Facebook

Do you know of a pet rescue charity that could use this free spot to advertise? Send us the details and we’ll try to include them next month. Email:

Insurance and asset management advice in English Isabelle Want

Hello, my name is Isabelle Want. For the past 10 years, I have been working for Allianz as an asset manager. Being married to an Englishman and having lived in the UK for 8 years gives me a better insight into what British

people are experiencing and what they need. Being French and born in the Charente has enabled me to offer some answers. I am, as always, available for any free advice on the following subjects:

- INHERITANCE LAW (who inherits, death duties, solutions) -TAXES (everybody's fear! The month of May tax forms, etc) -INVESTMENTS (what is available, what rate, etc.) -LIFE INSURANCE (how to protect your loved ones) -FUNERAL COVER (preparing for the inevitable, unfortunately!) -TOP UP HEALTH INSURANCE (why you need it and how much it is) -INSURANCES (get a free quote to see if you could save money)

I work in the Allianz offices in Ruffec, La Rochefoucauld, Roumaziere Loubert and Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure and my contact details are below. Please do not hesitate to contact me for free advice on any of the above or if you think you are paying too much on your insurances and want a free quote. We have a dedicated bilingual team to deal with claims. Finally, we have an English website with all sorts of useful information and tips on all of the above subjects: Isabelle Want, BH Assurances Conseiller Financier/ Asset Manager Mob:+33(0)6 17 30 39 11 Email: N° orias : 07020908/07021727/07004255

*4"#&--& 8"/5



-" 30$)&'06$"6-% #NTKDU@QC CT .@H -@ 3NBGDENTB@TKC DM "MFNTLNHR


36''&$ 3VF +FBO +BVSÒT 3VòFD


Our Furry Friends Shop

Shop and Café Open every Wednesday 11am - 4pm

Open 10am to 4pm, Thursdays & 1st Sunday of the Month

Oh my lord Francks fish and chips second Wednesday of the month from 12h00

2 Rte de Vauthion 79190 Sauzé Vaussais

Furniture Barn Open 11am to 3pm, Thursdays & 1st Sunday of the Month

Magasin et Café Ouvert tous les mercredis de 11h à 16h

1 Rte de la Mare aux Loups Louba 79190 Clussais-le-Pommeraie

Oh my lord Francks fish and chips le 2ème mercredi du mois à partir de 12h00

No RNA: W792009674

Facebook Groups: Hope79 Sauze-Vaussais Furniture for Sale Hope Associaton Charity Shop 79


THE ASSOCIATION EN ROUTE tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or email:

Helios is 11 years young and his raison d'etre is to fill his people's lives with joy.! He's a bit fussy about some dogs and will chase cats, so is probably best as an only dog but promises to brighten your life with his charm. Please contact us if you'd like more info

zzAssociation: W792005754

Donations welcome Monday 10am - 12pm Wednesday 11am-3pm Les dons sont les bienvenus les lundis 10h - 12h et mercredis de 11h à 15h


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 43

money matters

Is it time to consider downsizing your home? by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks

Downsizing your property can bring various financial benefits, as well as making life easier. France offers fantastic property opportunities in outstanding surroundings, so it is unsurprising that many Britons choose to retire to their own place here or purchase a holiday home. Property may be your biggest asset, with the potential to provide a substantial return on your initial investment over time. However, there are risks in relying on bricks and mortar for your wealth.

Size does matter Generally, the larger the property, the more expensive the running costs. Mortgage payments, rates, utility bills, plus building and maintenance expenses can all add up to generate a relatively high ongoing burden. If you are retired with a reduced income, this can be especially draining on your resources, particularly if you own more than one property.

affording retirement You may need your existing wealth to stretch up to thirty plus years in retirement. Are your pensions and investments on track to sustain your lifestyle for as long as you need? Are they structured to protect you from longterm inflation and provide the increased income you may need in future as the cost of living rises? Many people find themselves in an ‘asset rich, cash poor’ situation, owning considerable physical wealth such as property, but with substantially less disposable income. While property can be a solid investment, it locks your money away in a highly illiquid way. Also, there is risk in tying your funds up in one asset class – if the value of property drops, so does your investment.

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Benefits of reinvesting your capital Downsizing property can help increase your accessible wealth, but it needn’t be a compromise when it comes to investment growth. By reinvesting in suitable investment funds, for example, you can still invest in real estate if you wish but alongside other assets (equities, bonds etc.) to reduce risk through diversification. If you require small amounts of cash, you can just sell the amount you need. A specialist adviser can help you explore investment arrangements that suit your circumstances, goals and risk appetite while being tax-efficient for France.

reducing taxation Charges such as stamp duty and capital gains tax generally increase with the property’s price tag. Higher-value homes can also tip you over the threshold for wealth tax. Owning real estate assets worth over €1.3 million attracts annual wealth taxes n Frrance of between 0.5% and 1.5% (over an €800,000 allowance). There are also more opportunities to reduce succession tax for your heirs on investment capital than with real estate. Take personalised advice to establish a wealth management strategy that can achieve a secure retirement for you in France today and a lasting legacy for heirs. Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice..

Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

Expert advice

Ask Amanda

Hi Amanda, with global uncertainties are long term investments still worth doing? Looking back on the challenging year of 2023 in the financial markets, it becomes evident that a diverse portfolio remains a superior long-term investment strategy compared to cash investments. This article explores the reasons why diversification outperforms cash investments in the current financial landscape, emphasizing the importance of allocating funds across various asset classes, including stocks, bonds, commodities, and property. 1. Inflation Protection Inflation has been a significant concern in 2023, eroding the purchasing power of cash over time. By diversifying investments across different asset classes, including property, investors can hedge against inflation and potentially earn higher returns. Property investments, in particular, have historically shown resilience against inflation, providing a tangible asset that can appreciate in value over time. 2. Capital Appreciation Despite the difficulties faced in 2023, a diverse portfolio has the potential for capital appreciation. While cash investments offer minimal or no

growth, investing in a range of assets allows investors to capture growth opportunities and benefit from the overall performance of the market. Stocks, bonds, commodities, and property have historically outperformed cash investments over the long term, providing investors with the opportunity to grow their wealth. 3. Risk Mitigation The challenging year of 2023 has highlighted the importance of risk mitigation in investment strategies. Cash investments, although seemingly safe, are exposed to inflation risk and offer limited returns. On the other hand, a diverse portfolio spreads risk across multiple assets, reducing the impact of any single investment's poor performance. By diversifying across different asset classes, including property, investors can minimize potential losses and protect their capital during market downturns. 4. Income Generation In a difficult market environment, a diverse portfolio can still generate income through various sources. While cash investments, such as savings accounts or certificates of deposit, often provide low-interest rates, investing in dividend-paying stocks, bonds, and property can offer regular income. Property investments, in particular, can provide rental income, adding to the overall income generation potential of a diversified portfolio. 5. Long-Term Wealth Creation Despite the challenges faced in 2023, investing in a diverse portfolio offers the potential for long-term wealth creation. Cash investments may provide stability, but they often fail to keep pace with inflation, resulting in a loss of purchasing power over time. By

diversifying across different asset classes, including property, investors can capture growth opportunities and compound their returns, leading to wealth accumulation over the long term. 6. Flexibility and Liquidity While cash investments offer immediate liquidity, a diverse portfolio can also provide flexibility and liquidity when structured appropriately. By investing in liquid assets such as exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or mutual funds, investors can easily access their funds when needed. Additionally, diversification allows investors to adjust their portfolio allocation based on changing market conditions or personal financial goals, providing the necessary flexibility to navigate challenging market environments. Conclusion Looking back on the difficult year of 2023 in the financial markets, it becomes clear that a diverse portfolio, including property investments, remains a superior long-term investment strategy compared to cash investments. Diversification provides protection against inflation, potential for capital appreciation, risk mitigation, income generation, long-term wealth creation, and flexibility. By allocating funds across various asset classes, investors can navigate market volatility and position themselves for financial success in the years to come. I would like to take this opportunity to wish all the Deux-Sèvres readers a very Merry Christmas and Peaceful 2024!

Amanda Johnson works as an Independent Financial Adviser with the Spectrum IFA Group tel: 06 73 27 25 43 or email: Whether you want to register for a newsletter, attend a roadshow or speak Amanda directly, please call or email her. The Spectrum IFA Group do not charge for reviews, reports, or recommendations.

« The Spectrum IFA Group » is a registered trademark, exclusive rights to use in France granted to TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 « Société de Courtage d'assurances » R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) Numéro d'immatriculation 07 025 332 - « Conseiller en investissements financiers, référence sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »





UȍǽǗNjȐȐǡǽǷƲDZ৹ǗǡǷƲǷǁǡƲDZ৹ƲLJΑǡǁNj৹Ǘǽȍ৹NjΗȊƲȗȍǡƲȗNjȐ৹ǡǷ৹$ȍƲǷǁNj bNjDZश৹ࡱࡷ৹ࡸࡴ৹ࡳࡸ৹ࡳࡶ৹ࡵࡴ৹થ৹ ǶƲǡDZश৹ƲǶƲǷLJƲाǬǽǞǷȐǽǷજȐȊNjǁȗȍȚǶঃǡǗƲाǁǽǶ৹થ৹ΒΒΒाȐȊNjǁȗȍȚǶঃǡǗƲाǁǽǶ৹

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 45

This month’s advertisers Adrian Butterfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Affordable UK Designs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Alcoholics Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32 Association Escoval . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) . . . . . . . . 21 Beaux Villages Immobilier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48 BH Assurances / Allianz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43 Blevins Franks Wealth Management Limited . . 2, 44 Building and Renovation Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Chris Bassett Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Clean & Clear . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Closerie Les Roches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35 Darren Lawrence. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Dave Murphy - Hypnotist & Life Coach . . . . . . . . . 11 DPS Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Eazy Moves . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Fosse and Groundworks 79 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Franglais Deliveries . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Gingers Kitchen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Glendee Property Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 H & R Building Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Hallmark Electricité . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Henri De Baulny. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Irving Location . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Jeff’s Metalwork . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Jon the Carpet man. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 KM Property Maintenance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 KM Services 79. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 La Deuxieme Chance . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 La Petite Ferme d'Alpagas . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Leggett Immoblier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47

Leggett Recruitment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37 Les Bons Voisins (LBV) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 LPV Technology . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Magic Renovations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Maison Secondaire . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25 Mann Upholstery. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Mark Sabestini . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Michael Moore. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Michel Barateau - Cabinet maker . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 ML Computers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Mr Fix-It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31 Mr T's Friterie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 MT Menuiserie . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Mutuelle de Poitiers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Poppy Appeal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Reaction Theatre . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Rob Berry . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 RT Construction . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Sarah Berry Mosaics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Simon the Tiler. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41 Smart Moves Removals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 Spectrum IFA Group . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45 Stephen Shaw EI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Steve Coupland . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 40 Strictly Roofing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Sunny Sky Cars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 The Fixer Administration Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 The French House Satellite TV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Val Assist . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16 Vendee Pools . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30 Vienne Tree Services. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31

Thank you to all our advertisers - your support enables us to print and distribute the magazine every month!

Puzzle answers Easy Crossword Sudoku Easy

Cryptic Crossword


W __ E __ A M 21





Very Hard

Decode the message U O




46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

W __ E __ A M




W __ I __ S __ H __ A H E P W __ I __ S __ H __ A H E P

A __ N __ D __ U N R





Y __ O __ U __ Y T F Y __ O __ U __ Y T F A __ U




A __ U A __ U


M __ E __ R __ R __ Y __ C M W W Y M __ E __ R __ R __ Y __ C M W W Y

H __ A __ P __ P __ Y __ P U Q Q Y

N __ E __ W __ N M A











C __ H __ R __ I __ S __ T __ M __ A __ S __ I P W H E X C U E C __ H __ R __ I __ S __ T __ M __ A __ S __ I P W H E X C U E Y __ E __ A __ R ! __ Y M U W

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST Our favourite selection of properties for sale in the Deux-Sèvres


Recently Reduced



€172,800 Clessé


Country Charm

Viewing Essential!

€198,000 Mothe-Saint-Héray


Ideal First Time Buy

€318,000 Beugnon-Thireuil


Ref: A23657 - 2-bedroom house with large garden and outbuildings.

Ref: A21845 - Spacious 4-bedroom property with three gîtes.

Fantastic Farmhouse

Good Value for Money

Two for One

Investment Project

Ref: A21928 - Detached 4-bedroom stone house with outbuildings.

Ref: A23056 -Large 4-bedroom house and garden, close to all amenities.

Ref: A09159 - Two impeccable 3-bedroom houses with charming garden.

Ref: A16771 - Character 2-bedroom townhouse with lots of potential.

Immaculate Property

Historic Farmhouse

Recently Renovated

Pretty as a Picture

Ref: A25079 - 5-bedroom farmhouse with pool and two rental apartments.

Ref: A08118 - 4-bedroom and 3-bedroom house with income potential.

Ref: A23552 - 3-bedroom longère with outbuildings and pretty garden.

Ref: A22236 - Lovely 4-bedroom longère with gîte potential.

8% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: E Climate class: B


8% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: D Climate class: B

€212,903 Melle

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

Ref: A25106 - Pretty 2-bedroom bungalow with garden and garage.

8% agency fees included paid by the buyer. DPE: In progress

€130,800 Loubillé

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

Coulonges-sur-l’Autize €180,360 Beaussais-Vitré

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

6% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: D Climate class: B

10% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: F Climate class: C

€233,000 Secondigny

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

€561,800 Argentonnay

Ref: A24468 - Spacious 2-bedroom lock up and leave.

10% agency fees included paid by the buyer. Energy class: F Climate class: F

€267,500 Saint-Laurs

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



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

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

The Le  fily wc  you !

+33 (0)5 53 60 84 88 · ·

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

05 56 71 36 59



CHEF-BOUTONNE €235,400 HAI Ref: BVI72188 Amazing views for this 3-bed, 2-bath renovated property

FONTIVILLIE €195,000 Ref: BVI72369 Lovely 2-bed, 1-bath renovated farmhouse just 5 mins to town

Fees: 7% paid by the buyer Net price: €220,000 Climate class: E Energy class: B

Fees : paid by the vendor Climate class: C Energy class: A

Winner of Best Estate Agency France and Best Website France




PAIZAY-LE-CHAPT €349,950 Ref: BVI71033 A lovely 3-bed, 3-bath 18thC village property with 1-bed guest house

MAUZE-SUR-LE-MIGNON €399,000 Ref: BVI72112 A beautiful 19thC maison de maitre with land in a peaceful location

SAUZÉ-VAUSSAIS €250,000 HAI Ref: BVI72116 A 3-bed, 3-bath renovated stone property with open country views

Fees : paid by the vendor Climate class: D Energy class: B

Fees : paid by the vendor Climate class: B Energy class: A

Fees: 7% paid by the buyer Net price: €233,645 Climate class: E Energy class: B



FAYE L’ABBESSE €424,000 HAI Ref: BVI68127 5-bed property with 2-bed apartment on the edge of a village

CLUSSAIS-LA-POMMERAIE €395,000 Ref: BVI70884 4-bed property with 1-bed attached guest annex, gardens and pool

AIRVAULT €990,000 Ref: BVI67332 Renovated fortress château dating from the 11thC with panoramic views

Fees: 6% paid by the buyer Net price: €400,000 Climate class: C Energy class: A

Fees : paid by the vendor Climate class: C Energy class: C

Fees : paid by the vendor Climate class: E Energy class: D

Join our team! We’re recruiting independent property consultants across all areas of South West France. Want to know more? Email Tina, Head of Recruitment at

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

Siret : 501 191 720 00199 - Sas Beaux Villages Immobilier au capital de 2 000 € - RCS 501 191 720 Bordeaux - CPI 3301 2018 000 027 010 Bordeaux

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.