The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - October Issue

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English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas

This month ... Gardening, Cocktails, Cows ... and a Dalek

Romance, Travel & Renovation (and that’s only the centre pages) Masked Man at Pougne. Photographed & edited by Tony Wigmore ©

Issue 110, October 2020

Welcome to Issue 110 of

This Month’s Advertisers

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

We expected a lot to change when we moved to France. One thing we did not expect was the difference in ‘wildlife’ that we’d be sharing our home with. A few years ago a rather large toad decided to, oddly, shelter from the severe rain in the tunnel of our cat flap for several hours. We were surprised, the cats were mortified. That seemed odd to us until, while trying to tame a particularly unruly area of the garden, Lynne discovered a praying mantis in her hair. We have been chased, sort of, down our landing by a weird creature apparently called a house centipede. We’ve had stick insects sheltering under our shutters, hummingbird moths all over the place, moles, lizards a-plenty (of course), coypu and snakes (though thankfully not close up). Of all these, our favourite is the praying mantis. We see them regularly and one has recently decided he (or she) prefers life indoors with us, despite my regular attempts to evict. They are fascinating to watch. The photo here was taken on a small tree outside our back door this time last year. Without wishing to sound all ‘hippy’ (yes we’re old enough to remember them), all this has made us appreciate the insect life around us both for its usefulness and the amazing variety of creatures nature presents to us. Another reason we are thankful for being able to live here despite all the troubles in the world. So here is our third issue. We welcome a few new contributors this month. Hope you all enjoy it. Please DO let us know what you like and/or dislike. Stay safe

Tony & Lynne

Tel: 07 68 35 45 18 Email: Website:

Contents What’s On ... October 2020 Getting Out and About Clubs and Associations Hobbies A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Home and Garden Travel Our Story (So Far) Take a Break Health, Beauty and Fitness Our Furry Friends On The Road Arts and Craft Food and Drink Technology Building and Renovation Business and Finance Property

4 5 6 10 12 14 16 23 24 26 28 29 30 33 34 36 37 42 45

EMERGENCY NUMBERS: 15 SAMU (Medical Advice) 17 Gendarmes (Police) 18 Pompiers (Fire Service)

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) Arbes et Abeilles (Plant nursery) Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Autentico (Paint specialists) BEAUX VILLAGES IMMOBILIER BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management BM Construction Château de Saugé Vintage Tea Room Château Jarno (Plant Nursery) Chat-eau (Luxurious country cattery) Cherry Picker Hire (Tony Moat) Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Clean Sweep Chimney Services Cosmetic Contour Darren Lawrence Deux-Chèvres (Handyman) Escoval ExPatRadio Firewood France Fishing Gîtes Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Green and Tidy Gardening Services Hallmark Electricité Heath Pryke Hiley Location HMJ (Renovation service) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jason Whitmarsh Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon - the carpetman JW Services Keith Banks pool services KJ Painting and decorating La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Magic Renovations (Michael Glover) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction Michael Moore (Electrician) Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) Mike Sweeney - Motorsport Engineering ML Computers Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Naturalis Pools Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Paul Starsmeare (Mechanic) Pinnacle Garden Care Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) RJC Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removal company Stephen Shaw Painter Steve Coupland (Plumbing and renovations) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Strictly Roofing Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Hope Association Tim Electricien 79 Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini(Translation Services)

45 38 2 37 43 38 18 43 20 45 42 44 41 7 18 29 39 41 38 41 28 41 37 43 5 43 7 48 32 18 37 40 39 39 40 40 39 32 20 40 45 38 20 46 35 36 40 37 39 37 32 36 43 45 41 28 32 18 2 45 2 41 20 20 38 32 41 39 37 38 6 32 32 6 29 39 6 20 6

© Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 2020. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anthony and Lynda Wigmore accept no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that any company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. It is strongly advised to check details of published events with other sources before setting out on long journeys. <<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 32 Rue Andre Gastel, 79450,Saint-Aubin-Le-Cloud Tél: 07 68 35 45 18. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Anthony Wigmore. Crédits photos: Anthony Wigmore, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: octobre 2020 - Tirage: 4500 exemplaires. Siret: 830 076 345 00016 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 3

What’s On ... 01-31 ‘C’est la Gâtine’ 28 Rue du Chateau Parthenay (79200). presenting our beautiful region at the architecture and heritage interpretation centre in the heart of the medieval city of Parthenay. Opening hours Tuesday to Thursday, 14:00 to 18:00

e go to print. -by-day as w ay d g n gi get it but an as we can or altered te Things are ch ra cu ac as d on here is een cancelle The informatik events have not be house. g th PLEASE chec before leavin

02-10 Film Series Bocapole, Fauteuil Rouge Bressuire (79300). Program: 9 Countries, 9 days 9 movies. Every day a film in each country paired with Bressuire. 03 LA CARRIERE DES MOLLETS, SES FOSSILES ET LA MER Doux (79390). Discovery walk and workshop sorting and recognition of the fossils from 160 Million years ago. Meeting at Geosite car park 14:30. Event offered as part of The Festival of Science. 04 FÊTE DES PLANTES Bressuire (79300). 10th anniversary of the Festival of Plants. Plants, decorative accessories and breed hens. A flea market of antique tools and garden decorations. Children’s activities. On-site catering for drinks, sandwiches, crêpes and meals. 3€. 04 VINYL AND COMIC BOOK FAIR Sauzé-Vaussais (79190). Records, CDs, vinyls, comics, comics, illustrations, Hi-Fi, turntables. Entrance €2. Information: 06 98 14 97 74 or email 07-18 FESTIVAL OF THE VOICE Nueil-Les-Aubiers (79250). Two weeks in October dedicated to the voice through concerts of current music. For those who love songs from France and around the world; sacred songs sung by choristers Eclats de Voix will have something for all styles and all ages. 11 WINE AND LOCAL PRODUCTS FAIR La Foye-Monjault (79360). Celebrate wine in the presence of 21 winegrowers and 8 producers from all over France, as well as local artisans. Due to the current restrictions there are no refreshments or catering on site. Wearing a mask and respecting physical distancing is compulsory. Hydroalcoholic gel will be available. Authorization for wine tasting (sale of glasses at the entrance to the site, from 10:00 to 17:00). 17-18 ”CRAZY ABOUT HISTORY” Niort (79000). About 60 companies and 150 specialized artisans from all over Europe are expected. Music, street arts, theatre, weaponry, fighting, crafts, animals, games and a historical market linked to all periods of history, from Prehistory to World War II. Entry 6€.

17-18 FÊTE D’AUTOMNE DES PLANTES ET DU JARDIN PlaineD’Argenson (79360). 42nd edition. Quality and earth-friendly crafts: food, care and wellness products, eco-friendly household products, basket making, gardener’s tools (handmade), garden decoration (ironwork, lighting, furniture, ceramics). Plus artisan jewellery, paintings and sculpture. 6€

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: MARKEY’S PORK ‘N’ PIES TRADITIONAL BRITISH COOKING Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime Open mornings

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65 4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020


look for screenings in ‘VO’ or ‘VOST’

Bressuire Le Fauteuil Rouge: CineChef, Chef-Boutonne: email: Salle Belle Epine, La Châtaigneraie: L’échiquier at Pouzauges: Melle cinema: Niort CGR cinema: Niort Moulin du Roc: Parthenay Cinema: and find others at



Aulnay de Saintonge 1747 Ballans 17160 Beauvais Sur Matha 17490 St Jean D’Angély 17400 La Chapelle 16140 Sainte Soline Ark 79 79120 Hope Association 3 Day Bookfairs & Events Private catering

Genneton - Bar de la Mairie - 18:30 - 21:00 - 9th & 23rd October Saint Jouin de Marnes - Outside the Boulangerie 17:30 - 20:30 - every Tuesday evening Funny Farm cat rescue - 12:00 to 15:00 Wednesday 14th October.

Regular venues at: • • • • • • • •

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

Tel: 06 23 25 48 36

Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates

October 2020 The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days

2020 ... Sun 1 November Wed 11 November Fri 25 December

All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël)

2021... Fri 1 January Sun 4 April Mon 5 April Sat 1 May Sat 8 May Thu 13 May Sun 23 May Mon 24 May Wed 14 July

New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an) Easter Sunday (Pâques) Easter Monday (Pâques) Labour Day (Fête du premier mai) VE 1945 (Fête du huitième mai) Ascension Day (Ascension) Whit Sunday (Pentecôte) Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Bastille Day (\) source

LOCAL MARKETS Mondays.........


Wednesdays.... Thursdays........


Benet 85490 La Châtaigneraie (last Monday in month) 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300 Vasles 79340 Parthenay 79200 - and - Celles-sur-Belle 79370 Ruffec 16700 Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 - and - Niort 79000 La Mothe St Héray 79800 Gençay 86160 Thouars 79100 - and - Melle 79500 Secondigny 79130 (pm)-and-St Aubin le Cloud (pm) Civray 86400 (small food market)

Antigny 85120 (1st and 3rd Fridays - pm) La Mothe Saint-Héray 79800 (Place Clémenceau) Saturdays........ Bressuire 79300 - and - Champdeniers 79220 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Airvault 79600 - and - Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l’École 79400 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 Ruffec 16700 Magné 79460 and Moncoutant 79320 Sundays............ Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600

CHURCH NOTICES... The Filling Station - Poitou-Charentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. www. or Carolyn Carter on 05 45 84 19 03. ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre. We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St. Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship hold meetings throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. Contact Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit: 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 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun). Eglise Vie Nouvelle Bilingual (French / English) weekly service based in Civray See Contact 05 49 87 33 69 The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, normally holds Sunday services in English. Please see our website for current information:


2 Place Mar D’lattre de Tassigny 85390 Mouilleron-en-Pareds If you find it difficult to get your hands on a printed copy of The DSM, drop us a line and we’ll do what we can to make it available near you.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 5

Getting Out and About Autumn Fruits and Vegetables by Sue Burgess

Summer, (l’été) has turned into autumn (l’automne), a season rich in fruits and vegetables (fruits et légumes). Reds, greens, oranges and yellows (rouges, verts, orange ou jaunes) the fruits and vegetables of the autumn are a delight for your eyes as well as for your taste buds (vos papilles). Autumn veggies are rich in vitamin A (riches en vitamine A), contained in carrots (les carottes) or squash (les courges) like pumpkin (la citrouille ou le potiron). Both words are used for different types of pumpkin. La citrouille is always fairly rounded whereas the potiron varies in shape according to which variety it is, between round, oval and flattened (rond, ovale ou aplati). La citrouille is always orange in colour whereas the potiron varies from orange to dark green (vert foncé) through reddish (rougeâtre) or yellow. October is the month for chard (La blette), beetroot (la betterave), brocolli, carrots, swede (le rutabaga), cabbage (le chou), pumpkin (la citrouille), squash (la courge), celery (le cèleri), spinach (l’épinard), fennel (le fenouil), turnip (le panais), leek (le poireau), peppers (le poivron), potato (la pomme de terre), radish (le radis), Jerusalem artichoke (le topinambour), Ceps or porcin mushrooms (le cèpe) and the button mushroom (le champignon de Paris). October is the month for nuts (les fruits à coque) such as walnuts (les noix), chestnuts (la châtaigne), quince (le coing) figs, (la figue), grapes (le raisin), apples (la pomme), pears (la poire), walnuts (la noix), hazelnuts (la noisette), the persimmon (le kaki) and kiwi fruit (le kiwi). Tasty warming dishes (plats qui nous réchauffent), soups, purées, fruit sauces, (soupes, purées, compotes), steamed vegetables and fruits gently caramelised in the oven (légumes cuits à la vapeur et fruits lentement caramélisés au four).



La poire


Le raisin Grapes Attention, “raisins” ce sont les raisins secs

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

La myrtille blueberries au pluriel


La mûre blackberries au pluriel


Le cassis


La banane


Le poireau


Le maïs


Le choux de Bruxelles

Brussel sprouts

Le cornichon


Chez Christie’s BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS CARDS from 1st October!

Relations, Boxes, Charity Packs, Advent Calendar Cards, Gift Wallets …


Tapestry, Scarves, Mugs, Puzzles, Pens, Jewellery, Watches, Bamboo items …

SUPER MASKS & HAND SANITISERS ‘Stay Safe’ doesn’t have to mean Boring!


Cream Teas, Brownies, Rich Fruit Cake … BOOKS ~ INTERNET ~ FREE WIFI

--and Giving Warm Welcomes since 2004 Tues-Sat: 10am - 12 noon : 3pm - 7pm AMAZON.CO.UK / SHOPS / CHRISTIESGENCAY GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

Siret: 47876969800018

ftâz° i |Çàtzx gxt eÉÉÅ V{úàxtâ wx ftâz°

Tea / Coffee – Wines – Beers - Cocktails Homemade Cakes - Lunch Traditional Afternoon Tea – Evening Meals Traditional Sunday Lunch

Open Friday & Saturday 12 midday – 10pm Sunday 12 midday – 6pm Enjoy our beautiful Terrace with views of the Gardens Chambres D’hotes / Private Party Availability Reservations: Email: Tel: 06 29 15 36 55é-Vintage-Tearoom Château de Saugé 2 Saugé Saivres 79400


Journée des Nouveaux Arrivants by Jane Henderson AVF, ‘Accueil des Villes Françaises’, is an association established throughout France dedicated to welcoming newcomers to an area, whether they are French nationals moving within France or foreigners moving from their country of origin to live in France. In August 2012 my husband and I moved to the Deux-Sèvres, south of Parthenay. At the beginning of September we joined the AVF in Parthenay hoping to meet new friends and discover new activities. We have not been disappointed. We have made new friends, both French and English, and have found ourselves involved in a variety of activities to keep us busy. Membership of the association has been invaluable in helping us to integrate within the community and develop our language skills. Eight years further down the line we are still members of AVF with an established circle of friends, a busy social calendar and a marked improvement in our spoken French. AVF offers a range of activities, run by the members of the association on a voluntary basis, and include a walking group, a French conversation group, an English/French exchange group, cards and scrabble evenings, craft activities, an art group, a singing workshop, a photographic competition, visits to gardens and restaurants and plenty of social events to mark the important dates in the French calendar e.g. Fêtes des Rois and Beaujolais Nouveau! The social evenings always include the sampling of local delicacies and the odd glass of wine! Needless to say, along with all aspects of life as we knew it, this year has been hijacked by COVID-19. For the volunteers involved in the running of the association their motivation is first and foremost the enjoyment of meeting with others, wanting to work as part of a team and the wish to strengthen the bonds of friendship. October and November are, across France, the months for AVF to welcome newcomers to their new environment. We, the members of AVF in Parthenay, would like to invite anyone who has moved to the area within the last couple of years to come and meet us on the afternoon of October 17th 2020, find out a bit about us and what we have to offer, enjoy a guided visit around the town of Parthenay and make some new friends. Because of COVID regulations, events can be postponed at the last minute, so if you are interested and would like details of the time and venue, or you have any questions about the association, please get in touch. My name is Jane Henderson and my email address is .... or phone me on 05 49 69 79 01.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 7

International Pumpkin Day

by Beryl Brannon


hat’s roundish, orange, a fruit, related to the cucumber, originates from Central America and Mexico and represents October? The pumpkin of course. The word comes from the Greek ‘pepon’ meaning ‘large melon’ which Frenchman Jacques Cartier, exploring the St Lawrence River, called ‘gros melon’ and translated into English to ‘pompion’. From there, the modern word ‘pumpkin’ evolved. Pumpkins are a great source of beta-carotene - an antioxidant converted into Vitamin A in the body – and loaded with fibre, potassium, magnesium and Vitamin C. Pumpkin seeds are a healthy snack – and popular on the bird table. Ever watched the tits cracking them? We often see the carved pumpkin symbol on games, stationery, and publicity for Halloween events. But any picture of carved pumpkins in mediaeval times is simply imagery. Back in the 1830’s turnips were used and known as jack-o’-lantern, the idea of a carved pumpkin didn’t originate until 1866.

So if it weren’t for Halloween, maybe we wouldn’t know what to do with ‘gros melons’! One jack-o’-lantern I wouldn’t recommend eating is Omphalotus olearius. It’s a brilliant orange mushroom growing in clusters at the base of decomposing hardwood tree stumps, often olive trees, in Spain and Portugal. The gills are luminescent and in a very dark environment they may be seen glowing a ghostly green colour. This is due to luciferase, an enzyme which acts on a compound called luciferin. If you’ve ever seen fireflies glowing in the hedgerows in the dark, this is the same light!

So what’s the connection with Halloween? Celtic people in Ireland carved turnips and lit them with embers to ward off evil spirits. And who was Jack? In the 17th century the phrase ‘jack-o’-lantern’ referred to a night watchman who literally carried a lantern. But sometimes strange flickering lights could be seen at night over wetlands and peat bogs and these were mistaken for fairies or ghosts earning them the nickname ‘jack-o’-lantern’ too. According to Irish legend Stingy Jack was a miserable old drunk who played tricks on everyone, including the Devil. At his favourite pub one day, the Devil bought Jack a drink in exchange for his soul and transformed himself into a coin to pay for the drinks. But Jack pocketed the coin. When he died years later and knocked on the pearly gates of Heaven, he was told he had led a miserable worthless life and thereafter wandered in the Netherworld between heaven and hell. Eventually Jack asked the Devil how he could leave as there was no light in the Netherworld so the Devil gave him an ember and Jack placed the ember in a hollowed out turnip he was carrying. Don’t you just love a good story! Generally the pumpkins which are carved are not the same as the ones we eat, both of which come from two types of ‘squash’. The pumpkins sold as ‘gourds’ are the inedible ones, ie, the smaller ones. How did International Pumpkin Day come about. Not surprisingly from the Americans, when Irish immigrants arrived in North America. Early colonists made a savoury soup and served it in a pumpkin. Now pumpkin pie is a traditional part of Thanksgiving Day on 4th November in both the USA and Canada. The carving tradition which arrived with the Irish immigrants was also used for decoration. Pumpkins should traditionally be carved on All Hallow’s Eve and placed by your door to ward off evil spirits and Stingy Jack! 8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

The Omphalotus family are seriously poisonous toadstools and when eaten can cause gastric upsets lasting for several days. I should add that ‘olearius’ means ‘of the olive tree’ and isn’t a reference to Ryanair’s CE Michael O’Leary or any other O’Leary’s! If you’re not going to carve your pumpkin, then what to do with it? It’s enormous and best to find a strong male with a saw or a very long sharp knife! Luckily supermarkets sell manageable portions – you don’t need a ‘chariot’ to get one home! Even then, cutting them up into manageable sizes takes a determined person! Suggestions for using a pumpkin if you aren’t going to carve it. • Cut into small chunks, cook, puree and freeze in rigid containers so they can be used for potato & pumpkin gratin for a winter meal. • Cook them with stock and butter then puree them. Freeze in rigid containers and then on a cold winter’s day, defrost, warm up, let down with more water or stock and serve as a soup with a dash of cream (with coconut cream known as Velvet Dream). Delicious! • Cut them in wedges and roast with the Sunday joint! • Try pumpkin bread, pumpkin muffins or pumpkin scones, or Pumpkin Spice lattes in local coffee shops, especially Starbucks. Enjoy your pumpkin, whether to ward off evil spirits or as a delicious dish.

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor


t’s that time of year again. It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that I was last lopping trees and trimming hedges and pruning roses, but my diary tells me otherwise.

Anyway, back to the story of our halflopped tree. As I take a much-needed tea break, David, my long-suffering husband, casually asks if we really need to lop it every year. What a silly question, I answer - that tree may give us cool shade on the terrace in the summer, but I certainly don’t want to lose the warm, autumnal sunshine in the evening (or the spring sunshine for that matter). Why else are we living in France, I ask. Well, David answers without hesitation, the laid-back lifestyle, the great food, the cheap wine, the…OK, OK, we beg to differ…!

“Ca pousse en Vendée” my elderly neighbour helpfully observes when he sees me balancing precariously up a ladder desperately trying to tame yet another tree. You’re not kidding, it grows like Topsy around here. Thing is, we Brits are all seduced by the amount of land that automatically comes with the majority of rural properties in France, but I hadn’t reckoned on the phenomenal rate of growth of everything green in these parts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not really complaining (let’s face it, no-one press-ganged us into buying our ½ acre plot), but I’m just not a natural gardener. I love to potter in the garden on a warm, sunny day, and sit on the terrace on a warm, sunny evening, but you’d never say that I had le pouce vert.

The same cannot be said for a good friend of ours, who admittedly used to run a plant nursery in England. We were enjoying a quiet coffee on his terrace recently, when he suddenly announced that he’d just bought himself a birthday present. (Moment of panic, until he added that it was an early birthday present). What could it be? A new tractor? A bigger sit-on mower? No … an electric wheelbarrow! Sounds crazy, but believe me, you can have hours of fun with one of those things (I know, I tried it).

Photo by Karen Taylor

Karen runs a gîte business on the Vendée coast. You can contact her on:

by Aidan Fairlie


October 2020

hese are unusual times for everyone, but it is heart-warming that Reaction Theatre is still fulfilling a role even though any Arts activity is severely restricted. As John Blair mentioned in the August edition of DSM I am now taking over the articles for The DSM in my role as Publicity Officer. I am also very privileged to be the musical director for the Keynotes Choir with my wife Linda providing the accompaniment for rehearsals and concerts. We have both been heavily involved in music throughout our careers prior to retirement to France in 2016. It is very frustrating that COVID-19 came at a time when Keynotes was developing into a very competent choir with a good balance of voices numbering about 35 in all. The choir has taken in its stride a wide range of music from the classical repertoire of works including Vivaldi’s Gloria and Handel’s Messiah, through excerpts from musicals and jazz standards to some relatively modern popular music. The speed of learning new music has improved, helped by sectional rehearsals and this has enabled us to put together programmes quickly. The enforced cancellation of our annual tour to Ile d’Oleron, (with the Scottish Dancing) was very disappointing for both Keynotes members and our growing audience base there. It was a great opportunity for us to bond as a group and work in a concentrated way to improve our ability.

Hopefully we will be able to return to this soon. One of the initiatives which has grown out of the choir has been the expansion of instrumental activity from within our members. We now have, from within our numbers, three violinists, a rather elementary viola player (yours faithfully), a cellist, a double bass player, a flautist, a clarinettist, two ukulele players, some guitarists and at least three very able pianists. We have been able to perform a number of pieces for choir with string accompaniment as well as providing stand alone instrumental pieces. I suspect that instrumental activity will be able to return more quickly and indeed that this enforced period of semiisolation has been a good opportunity for us all to hone our skills! Thursday evenings without Scottish Dancing have not been quite the same but the good news is that our leader and mentor, Tony Murdoch, is recuperating well after surgery. I am sure we all look forward immensely to the resumption of getting to grips with the Duke of Perth and the Reel of the 51st again soon! Please keep in touch with us through our website or find us on Facebook. Please feel free to contact me personally on particularly about instrumental opportunities.

For more information visit or find us on Facebook

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 9

Clubs and Associations Assistance with residency issues for Armed Forces & Veterans


SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity exists to relieve the need, suffering and distress amongst the Armed Forces, veterans and their families in order to support their independence and dignity. The support covers both regulars and reserves in the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines, the British Army and the Royal Air Force and their families, including anyone who has completed National Service. They are entitled to lifelong support from SSAFA, no matter how long they have served. SSAFA France was set up locally in Castillonnes, Lot-et-Garonne in 2004. The branch is now active throughout France with the aim of supporting members of the Armed Forces community and their families in times of need. At SSAFA France, the team are dedicated to helping service personnel, veterans and their families, in their local communities. Their network of more than 40 experienced, non-judgemental and friendly caseworkers are on hand to provide a variety of services that cover a range of emotional, practical and financial issues. The country is split into three divisions: North down to the Loire, Centre down to the Dordogne and South to the Mediterranean. SSAFA understands the unique demands of service life and are committed to providing support to those in need throughout France. SSAFA France provide a range of support services to assist with a variety of issues, including addiction, relationship breakdown, debt, homelessness, depression and disability. Many of these problems only become apparent when an individual must leave their life in the Forces and join ‘Civvy Street’. SSAFA is committed to helping our brave men and women overcome these issues, whenever and wherever they need us. SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, was recently awarded a grant of £295,000 to work alongside the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to assist British nationals in countries across Europe as Britain exits the European Union. The funding from the FCDO will allow SSAFA to help UK veterans apply for residency to continue living in the EU after Britain leaves. The funding will provide support until March 2021 to the Armed Forces community in France, as well as Germany and Cyprus, to assist with their applications to remain living in the European Union. To receive support or to find out more about assistance with your application to remain living in the European Union, email UKVIE. or call 0805 119 617. For more information on SSAFA France or to volunteer, please contact 05 53 24 92 38 or email You can also find us on the web, Facebook and Twitter at @ssafafrance. 10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

Contact us by email or facebook: Association number: W793005002

Clubs & Associations Submission Guidelines Wordcount: Title of entry+ 40 words (max. incl contact details). Logos can be supplied and will be added if space allows. Adverts meeting the above specifications can be added free of charge, and will usually be rotated on a monthly basis to allow everyone to participate. To guarantee the advert is printed each month, a small fee of 4.50€ per month (paid as 54€ per annum) will be requested. How to SUBMIT your entry: Simply email the details to us:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 11

Hobbies Writer or Imposter?


by Alison Morton

ongratulations! Your work is published and people are celebrating your success, so why are you worried that you’ll be exposed at any moment as a fraud even though there’s external proof of your achievement in form of healthy sales and good reviews? Three clues… I’m a fake and everyone will find out You worry you’re not a ‘real writer’ and won’t live up to the expectations or the standards you’ve set for yourself. You fear your next book won’t be as good as readers expect and they’ll destroy your work, your characters and plot in an avalanche of bad reviews.

Help another writer You’ll be surprised by how much you know. When you help another writer who is blocked or stuck or unsure, you gain perspective and realise how far you’ve come. Give yourself permission to make mistakes Don’t forget that if you don’t write it, you can’t edit it. After all, Ernest Hemingway said ‘All first drafts are shit.’ A final positive thought… Impostor syndrome can spur you on to become more determined and that persistent effort might reveal ability even you didn’t know you had.

! Happy writing

I was lucky You tell yourself and other people that your ‘success’ was a fluke, a one-off, one-in-a-million accident. When ‘they’ find out, they’ll take back their praise, that award, that star rating and demand a refund.

Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available as an ebook and paperback. Her ninth book in the Roma Nova thriller series, NEXUS, came out last September.

‘This little thing?’ You can’t accept a compliment. ‘I loved your book!’ your readers say. You think, or even reply, ‘It was nothing.’ Or you shrug off the praise, ‘Anyone could have written it.’

What’s New On DVD?by Becka

If it’s any comfort, high achievers like Neil Gaiman and Maya Angelou have reportedly fallen prey to impostor syndrome. What does imposter syndrome do to writers? Its worst form can make you feel blocked and unable to write. It may also cause you to get stuck in an endless, destructive upand-down mood swing of self-confidence/self-doubt which leads to feeling burnt out and unable to move on. Every good review or word of praise can boost your ego for a few seconds then cause you to dread that the ‘real truth’ about your abilities will come out. Bad reviews make you feel as if your failure has been discovered and that public humiliation will follow. In reaction, you strive endlessly for perfection, even editing perfectly good work over and over again because it’s never ‘good enough’. When beta readers, your writers’ group and your editor make conflicting comments you end up not knowing who or what to believe. Your confusion results in inhibition which stops you finishing (or even starting) your story. You’re invited to speak at a writers’ event but turn down the invitation, thinking you have nothing of value to say, thus missing the chance to meet other writers you admire or who might admire you. How to deal with impostor syndrome Read your 5-star reviews You’ve written the book. People have read it and love it; they ‘get’ exactly what you are trying to say. Relish this! Read your 1-star reviews Brace yourself. Sometimes, someone who didn’t like your book will even offer helpful comments which can help you improve. Get help from another writer They may well have struggled with some of the same issues currently undermining you and can provide helpful insight.

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

Secret Garden

DVD Release Date: 06 October, 2020 Director: Marc Munden Starring: Dixie Egerickx, Colin Firth, Julie Walters, Amir Wilson Synopsis When Mary Lennox’s parents suddenly die, she is sent to live with her uncle, Archibald Craven, on his remote country estate deep in the Yorkshire moors. While exploring, she discovers a hidden magical garden. Review Shall I tell you a story…? From those haunting words in the opening scene, director Marc Munden and screenwriter Jack Thorne paint a beautiful tale of joy, sorrow and discovery. Bravely delving into heavy themes like grief and loss, the film respects both the innocence and imagination of childhood whilst still openly baring the harsh realities that life can entail, both validating and somehow soothing the emotions that are born from difficult times. Dario Marianelli’s fairy-dust score drifts through the story adding depth and wonder, reflecting off of the artful sets. From the glory of the hauntingly derelict manor to the blinding beauty of the garden, our eyes are provided with a feast of wonder. The garden itself is something to behold. Unlike the garden many of us imagined in our childhood reading – brick walls with snaking vines, perhaps an apple tree and some beautiful foliage – this garden feels rendered more as a vast, rolling field of freedom and potential. The lack of claustrophobic walls is a beautiful idea in these trying times; isolation and loneliness feel altogether uncomfortably close to home and, indeed, some of us may dream of a fairy-tale garden to which we could escape. The cast all fall into their respective roles with ease, bringing fragility and charm to the story. There are beautiful character developments as the story progresses, and as the garden itself flourishes and thrives we see the characters grow and bloom alongside it. All in all, this is another lovely, playful and moving remake of a familiar story and a welcome reminder that, in trying times, a healthy imagination can brighten even the darkest of days.

Trocs, Brocs and Fleas


by Philip Bailey

or those of us who are fortunate enough to own houses in France, be it permanently or for holidays, there has probably been the strong temptation to furnish that house with “finds” from local sources. This will give the home that authentic French ambience; perhaps a piece of furniture or some charming kitchenalia. But where are the best places to find these treasures? There is a bewildering choice of avenues open, especially for those newly arrived in France, so I hope to offer some advice and insider information. I will ignore Antique shops for the moment as they tend to deal in high end pieces at prices to match. Local advertising will doubtless signal the presence of a “Vide Grenier”, literally “empty your attic” and potential fruitful source of a bargain. Such events are the equivalent of an English car boot sale and the staple of every club and organisation wishing to supplement their funds. Often situated in the Salle des Fêtes or in the streets, there will inevitably be table after table of children’s clothes, toys and games, beautifully presented and fulfilling a market supply and demand especially since children grow so quickly out of clothes and shoes. But then there will be the house clearance tables, laden down with unwanted gifts, old saucepans (often with the remnants of a

where you can search under various headings. Supplement this with investing in little books such as The Calendrier des Brocantes et Vide Greniers; each region has its own edition, and they are a mine of information such as the stall capacity and what type of event it is. Personally, I wouldn’t bother travelling any great distance for a ten stall event but trial and error is possibly the best experience. Run by private individuals (particuliers) and dealers (professionnels) alike, they can be valuable sources of attractive items, if not always at bargain prices. This seems to stem from a peculiar aspect of the French psyche; every item that is remotely old (twenty years or more qualifies) will be worth a ridiculous amount of money; damage or bits missing being no barrier to the valuation. Haggling or negotiation is a relatively new concept for many dealers with a motto of “take it or leave it.” I say leave it especially if the enquiry in your best French as to “ le dernier prix, s’il vous plait” falls on deaf ears. Be polite and walk away. Occasionally, if you are confident enough or your French is proficient, you could make an offer that suits both parties; the sight of cash appearing is usually hard to resist but don’t be offended if your offer of readies is rebuffed. The Calendrier and website will also inform as to when and where the regular events (manifestations régulières ) take place. This is where you can browse a wide selection of goods and even get to know the dealers who may be able to source items for you. A regular customer will probably be able to bargain for better discount! Nantes, Poitiers and La Rochelle hold weekly brocantes whilst Niort, Fontenay le Comte and Rochefort are monthly.

meal), rusty tools and kitchen appliances that last saw light of day when de Gaulle was President. Behind these tables will smaller tables set out with a sumptuous feast as this is a family occasion and the stallholder’s lunch may well be far more fanciable than their articles for sale. Persevere and there are bargains to be had – look out for sets of storage jars in either porcelain or enamel, labelled according to their contents. The biggest are usually coffee and sugar, reflecting bygone habits. A full set is usually seven in graduated sizes but it’s imperative to check the condition carefully as many are damaged or missing lids. If the glaze looks “crackled” or crazed evenly all over then they are likely reproductions. Costs vary but at €15 - €25 they would be worth buying to stand proudly on your kitchen dresser. Cutlery can be another good buy especially if made by prestigious makers such as Christofle or Ercuis. Full sets in sixes or twelves are rare and attract high prices. However, other silver plated pieces can be found but check that the plating hasn’t worn off and that the handles aren’t damaged if made from Bakelite or similar material. Copper pots and pans are well worth buying and look impressive when polished up. Mainly for decoration they can still be used if lined with an appropriate food-safe material such as stainless steel, (inox). Some of these events are advertised as a Brocante or Marché aux Puces as well as a Vide Grenier and this indicates that the stalls will include more bric-a-brac or flea market type goods. You can check these events on-line at sites such as

Obviously, Covid 19 has seriously affected the whole affair but events are re-appearing albeit with extra precautions in place. It is prudent to always carry a mask and don’t be surprised or offended if a stallholder asks you to sanitise your hands before picking up an item. In future editions I will explain other sources such as auctions and antique shops as well as private adverts.

Philip has been a fully registered dealer (brocanteur ) in France for ten years, standing at Brocante markets as well as selling on-line.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 13

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres


Saint-Marc-la-Lande by Sue Burgess aint-Marc-la-Lande is a small commune with just over 300 inhabitants situated in the Gatine between St Pardoux and Mazières en Gatine.

The first historical records of the church and the commandery of Saint-Marc-la-Lande date back to 1260, when Cardinal Ardouin donated a small chapel dedicated to Saint Blaise to the Hospitalier Order of Saint-Antoine de Viennais. The order had been founded at the end of the 11th century and must have been of great importance to the diocese of Poitiers because there were 14 commanderies that depended on the order. According to the new statutes of the order dated 1477, the commandery provided food and lodging for six ‘cloîtriers’ (people who lived in the cloisters) and for the Commander. The village was at that time called Saint-Antoine de la Lande.

There is a complete list of commanders dating from the very beginning but it is not known which one had the church built that still exists today. The façade is the element that has the most interest. It is in flamboyant Gothic style but with some Renaissance influences. The construction could, therefore, be dated around the beginning of the 16th century (1509-1512) and be attributed to Cardinal de Tournon, the Commander at that time. But nothing is certain. The only certainty is that the building dates from after Charles VI (1380-1422) whose arms are shown on the facade. During the Wars of Religion, and especially in 1562, the building was seriously damaged and was only rebuilt and restored after 1633, when the Reformed Congregation of Saint-Antoine took charge of it.

During the Revolution, the church was damaged again and the vaults collapsed. The buildings were sold as being the property of the nation and the parish was attached to the parish of Les Groseillers. In 1844, the building was given back to the commune of Saint-Marc-la-Lande. The building was given back to the Catholic church and took the name of Saint Médard which later became Saint Mard. The interior was renovated. The Commandery was used as a school from the 19th century onwards. In 1833 a school was officially started in Saint-Marc-laLande and in 1846, the town set up the school and the town hall in the commandery. In 1983 the Commune decided, with the help of l’ARAL, a local association, and with the financial support of the local council, to restore the church and the commandery. Work began on the church in 1985 and on the commandery in 1986. An orchard and garden of medicinal plants were also created. In 2002, the commune decided to renovate the ‘Relais de la Tour’ and to transform it into tourist accommodation.

The Antonins

At the end of the 11th century a strange illness spread through western Europe. Over 500 years went by before the origin of the illness was found. It was due to the absorption of wheat which had been infected by a fungus on ergot rye. The symptoms were either gangrene or convulsions.

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

The Collegiate Church of Saint-Marc-la-Lande

A chapel dedicated to Saint Vaize (Blaise) was given to the commandery in 1260. It was rebuilt in 1542. The destruction continued during the Wars of Religion. The church was rebuilt in 1654 and handed to the Order of Malta in 1777. After the revolution, the building was only given back to the Catholic church in 1844 after renovation of the vaulted roof. The western façade is full of flamboyant style sculptures which have been restored several times The collegiate church of Saint-Marc-la-Lande, whose construction may date from the beginning of the 16th century, is the largest building of flamboyant gothic style in the Deux-Sèvres. It is particularly remarkable for its western facade and its southern side. In the 1980s volunteers worked to renovate the interior.

The Commandery of Saint-Marc-la-Lande

The history of Saint-Marc-la-Lande is linked to the history of the Antonin monks, who arrived in la Lande about 1260. At that time there was just a chapel at La Lande. The Antonins were a monastic hospitalier order who were powerful and well reputed. At Saint-Marc-la-Lande, the Commandery was a hospice. The Antonins provided charity for the poor and the sick and in particular for the pilgrims on the road to Compostella. The commune became the owner of the Commandery in 1864 and set up the town hall an a school there. The Commandery underwent huge renovations in the 1980s. It still belongs to the commune and has become a place for cultural development managed by the “La Maison du Patrimoine” since 1997.

Le Relais de la Tour At this period of history, ergot rye ground with wheat was the staple diet for a lot of the population and the effect of the poison on the people was horrendous. The Antonins took care of people who were affected by this disease and at the end of the 15th century, managed 370 hospitals where they practised their medicine. With the Onction of Saint Antoine and the Holy fortified wine made of plants like opium poppy, verbena, buttercup and gantian viole, they cared for and relieved the ergotism pains. St-Antoine’s Onction was a creamy paste made of 14 different ingredients. Nothing was written down so the composition of the onction can only be guessed from paintings from the period.

The gardens of Saint-Marc-la-Lande

There are two unusual gardens in Saint-Marc-la-Lande: the garden of medicinal plants and the orchard of old varieties of fruit. The gardens are owned by the commune and are part of the Commandery of the Antonins The Fruit Orchard contains 107 varieties of apples some of which are now unknown elsewhere, 58 varieties of pears, 18 varieties of grapes and 17 varieties of rosebushes. The orchard was created by the commune when the buildings of the commandery were renovated. It is now looked after by the commune garden and is a pleasant place to visit, especially in the afternoon.

The Commune of Saint-Marc-la-Lande has two exceptional buildings, the Collegiate church and the commandery. The commune is situated on the road to Compostella, Chemins du Poitou-Secret, the Jardins du Pays-de-Gâtine and it is on the Vélo Francette route for bicycles which goes from Caen to La Rochelle and on the GR36 walking route. This old 13th century coach stop, the ancient relais is probably one of the oldest buildings in the commune. The building which is next to the Collegiate church gives shape to the commune and has been renovated since 2002 and now offers gites and different possibilities for accommodating up to 25 people.

NEW WEBSITE FEATURE COMING SOON We are working on creating an online library of every single one of the published ‘A to Z’ articles going back to very the beginning. We think this will be a great resource for residents and visitors alike. Keep an eye on the website.

All photographs by Sue Burgess

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 15

Home and Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


t has been a tough summer! Not only from the COVID point of view with the restrictions that has brought, but the weather has been a real mixture which has affected all of us gardeners. A very, very, wet autumn last year, followed by a very wet spring with a few unexpectedly really hot days and then the summer, with its’ heatwave and very little rain…at least in our area. As I look out at the ever increasing bald patches in the grass and some of the shrubs that have struggled to stay alive and think of the hours that I have been putting in outside, there is a tendency to think is it worth it? Well, yes of course it is! For many of us the garden has become a place of solace and an almost daily focus for our energy and our psyche. I’m not a brilliant ‘DIYer’, but I’ve spent some time repairing and repainting some of the garden furniture, so at last, a large wooden seat with a curved roof has been painted black and could pass as new, and the metal trellis work on the walls has similarly been refurbished. Very pleasing to look around and see it finished. The tropical area is coming along and the hedychiums in their large red pots have been flowering non-stop and are now a good head taller than me! The cannas have performed equally well and the dark leaved varieties have been particularly rewarding. I sowed the seeds of eryngiums (sea holly) in the autumn of last year and they have been amazing plants….. very tall, with a metallic bluish glow about them. They have been flowering for weeks and are just beginning to ‘go over’ now; the birds have been feasting on the prickly heads and I’m hoping that there will have been a lot of seeds deposited on the soil below. The bird food, as always, has resulted in many sunflower plants where the birds have dropped seeds whilst feeding; one plant has five ‘heads’ on it! The grape vine is completely out of control and has reached the top of the bay tree at the end of the garden! The birds have been gorging daily on the abundant fruit and thrushes have been attracted into the garden to share the treat. It is the first time we have had thrushes into the garden, so I hope they will continue to feed here. I’m going to have to deal with the vine later! I’m digging over an old flower bed at the moment. It has completely lost all structure and goodness. The evergreen shrub, phygelius, has been growing in it for years and has done very well. The flowers are like a long-tubed fuchsia and can be pink or yellow. The other name for it is

the ‘Cape Fuchsia’ as it originates from South Africa. Time for a change and the best plants will be saved and planted up elsewhere. I have some plants of acanthus mollis, also known as Bears Breeches, and these will replace the phygelius. They will become huge, with interesting flowers and large foliage. I recently visited the Oriental Garden at Maulevrier again. It is as beautiful as ever. Many of the evergreen trees have been under planted with cyclamen which are in flower now, a pink haze in the distance. They self-seed very readily and the varieties I have in the garden originated from potted plants I was given which I hardened off outside. The flowers plant the seeds themselves. When the petals have died right back, the flower stems turn into coils which spiral down to the earth where the seeds are deposited, ready to germinate when the time is right. The garden team at Maulevrier have been very busy during the lock down and since, re-pruning the conifers using the ‘cloud’ technique. Some of the trees actually grow out over the lake and the reflections in the water add to the interest. There is a permanent exhibition of bonsai and a nursery with plants to buy, and a gift shop that is full of oriental bits and bobs. The garden is open every day and the café is much improved! It’s worth a visit if you haven’t been yet.

Now is the time to: • Cut back perennials that have died back completely, removing any dead and diseased foliage and mulching the crown. Continue dividing and replanting those that are wanted to increase stock. Phlox, bergenia and hardy geraniums can all be divided now. Tender perennials such as cosmos, coleus, and gazanias, can be lifted and potted up and kept in a non-heated greenhouse or cloche during the late autumn and winter. • Tender aquatic plants should also be lifted from ponds, potted up and kept protected from frost, in a cool dry place until spring. • Prune back hybrid and floribunda roses by a third to protect from damage by wind rock. Climbing roses can also be pruned now. • Collect seed from hardy perennials such as achillea, astrantia and valerian and sow them directly into pots containing seed compost. Water well and position them in a sheltered but cool spot to germinate. • Other seeds to sow outside now include, cornflowers, limnanthes, annual poppies, larkspur and any wild flower seeds. • Seeds to sow under cover include, sweet peas, aquilegia, hollyhocks, hellebores and oriental poppies. These can be sown into pots and protected from frost in a cloche or an unheated greenhouse. • Plant out any perennials or biennials grown from seed earlier this year. • Plant spring bedding in pots, beds or hanging baskets. Pansies, primulas, wallflowers and bellis all provide colourful displays during autumn which will last through to spring. They are good for us to look at and a source of nectar for insects. Violas are particularly hardy, flower continuously for months and survive frost, snow and ice…if we should have any! They bounce back as good as new and are very pretty to look

16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

at. The colours and varieties available improve year on year. Grouping pots together provides a focal point of interest and colour at a time when we need it most. • It’s a good time to plant clematis. If it is to be grown to cover a wall, plant the specimen a good 20 cms away from the base of the wall and angle the stem of the plant towards the wall. Conditions at the base of a wall tend to be very dry and rain water will not get to the roots of the plant if it is too near. Tie the clematis in to a sturdy support and surround the base with half of a flower pot, as clematis prefer to have their heads in the sun and their roots in the shade. Feed and water well after planting. • Empty summer bedding pots and baskets and, add the spent compost to the flower beds. Add any dead plant material to the compost heap. • Protect banana palms by removing any damaged leaves and wrapping the whole palm in fleece stuffed with straw. • Lift canna lilies and pot up for the winter, or leave them in situ and cover them in fleece; treat hedychiums in the same way. Our winters have tended to be milder of late and most will survive with just this simple protection. • Move hardy evergreens such as rhododendrons, osmanthus and mahonia if they are in the wrong place or have outgrown their space. It is still warm enough for them to tolerate a move now, but prepare the soil well by adding fresh compost or soil beneath the roots to give the plant a boost. Give the plants a good watering after the move. • Leave the seedheads of eryngiums and echinops in place for late autumn and winter interest and for wild life to use as a food source. • Protect fleshy leaved alpine plants from wet conditions, surrounding them with fine gravel to lift the leaves off the ground, or covering them in situ or moving them into a cold greenhouse. • Prune by half, tall shrubs such as lavatera, sambucus and buddleia to prevent them being damaged by wind rock. • Rake up healthy fallen leaves to make leaf mould. Place in dustbin sacks, moisten them with water, tie up the sack and make holes with a

pair of scissors to allow air inside. Leave it where you can forget it for at least a year without opening the sack. The resulting leaf mould will be great for adding to planting compost, or pots and troughs etc. Other fallen leaves can be raked into a pile to house hibernating animals. • Renovate worn patches in the grass by dressing with a seed and sand mixture. Prepare the ground by raking well, wetting it and sowing the seed directly on top. If an edge of a flower bed has been damaged, mark the area into a square shape, cut the piece out and turn it round. The damaged area will soon become part of the rest of the grass and the edge will look neat and new. Scarify, spike and top dress the grass if not already done so. • Divide rhubarb crowns to increase the number of plants. Use an old knife and be bold, cut into sections and replant. It’s quite a tough plant and will soon put on new growth. With established crowns, remove dead leaves to expose the crown to the cold. This ensures a good crop of stalks the following year. • Remove pot saucers from beneath their pots and replace with bricks or pot feet. This will help avoid waterlogging during heavy autumn and winter rains. • Plant new trees, hardy shrubs and new perennials. Shrubs including lavender, cistus and ceanothus should be planted in April. • Plant new deciduous and evergreen hedges whilst the soil is still warm and there is plenty of choice in the garden centres. • Harvest fruit from apple and pears as they ripen; fruit is ripe when the stalk comes away easily from the branch. Just lift and twist gently. Now is the time to plant new fruit trees, either as bare root or potted specimens. Apple and pear trees should be readily available now. Apply grease bands (available in garden centres or online) to the tree trunks to stop female coddling moths crawling into the trees to lay their eggs. When these eggs hatch, the larvae will eat their way through the flesh of the fruit, producing ‘maggoty’ apples and pears, but the grease bands make it difficult for the moths to climb the trunks of the trees. • Plant up prepared hyacinth and ‘Paperwhite’ narcissus in bowls and keep in a cool dark place, ready to bring out to flower in time for Christmas. Continued overleaf .....

Octobers Bright Blue Weather

O suns and skies and clouds of June, and flowers of June together, Ye cannot rival for one hour, October’s bright blue weather. When loud the bumble bee makes haste, belated, thriftless, vagrant, And golden rod is dying fast, and lanes with grapes are fragrant; When on the ground red apples lie, in piles like jewels shining, And redder still on old stone walls, are leaves of woodbine twining; When springs run low and on the brooks, in idle golden freighting, Bright leaves sink noiseless in the hush of woods, for winter, waiting; When all the lovely wayside things their white-winged seeds are sowing, and in the fields, still green and fair, late aftermaths are growing. O suns and skies and flowers of June, count all your boasts together, Love loveth best of all the year, October’s bright blue weather. Adapted from Helen Hunt Jackson (1830-1885)

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 17

• If frost blackens dahlia foliage, cut the plant back and lift the tubers. Store in a dark, dry place. If our winter is mild (as it usually is) once flowering is finished, cut the foliage back and leave the tubers in the ground. Cover with a thick layer of dry mulch. • Harvest pumpkins, squashes and marrows before the first frost. Leave in a dark dry place for the skins to harden off. • Plant garlic bulbs about 15cms apart (with tips facing upwards) and 2.5 cms deep below the soil surface. • Winter salads can now be sown in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse, from now until January. • Herbs including basil, dill, chives, and parsley can be sown into pots and grown on a sunny window sill or in a warm greenhouse. • Spring onions and cauliflower can be sown in cold frames now too. • The winter hardy pea ‘Meteor’ can be sown outdoors ready to be harvested in spring.

• Broad beans and lambs lettuce can be sown now to provide a crop all through autumn and winter. • Plant onion sets and Elephant garlic into prepared beds. These will be ready to harvest at the beginning of next summer. • Cut down the stems of asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes to just about ground level as their foliage turns yellow. • Plant out spring cabbages if not done so already. • Plant some blueberry bushes directly outside, if you have acidic soil. If not, plant them in pots containing ericaceous compost. • Continue harvesting root crops such as beetroot. Parsnips and swedes can be left in the ground longer as their taste improves if they are exposed to light frost. Carrots are best left in the ground and covered with cardboard or straw. • Sow green manure in any empty veg bed. This will help to improve soil structure and reduce weeds. • Allow some ivy to mature and flower…..this provides a source of nectar and later, berries for birds and insects. • Finish lifting potatoes before frost or slug damage spoils them. • Collect and dispose of fallen apple and pear leaves that are infected with rust, scab or mould. Remove any fruit that has rotted on the trees. Enjoy whatever you do in the garden. Remember to stop and take a look at what you have achieved. Take a bit of time, with a cuppa in hand, to plan what to do next. It seems that we will still have plenty of extra time to be outside and we can make the most of every moment. Keep healthy and safe and we’ll catch up again next month.


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DONNA IN HER POTAGER Straw Bale Gardening Lessons Learnt by Donna Palframan


t doesn’t matter if one makes mistakes as long as a lesson is learnt and I’ve learnt quite a few lessons since I started vegetable gardening. However, some I really need to take on board and stop making them more than once or twice… My first lesson is always, always, label the seeds sown. This year, I sowed five different varieties of tomatoes, about forty in total and didn’t label them, knowing where they were in the propagator until, of course, I moved it and them. Ha! No problem, I thought, I’ll be able to work it out later and, of course, I couldn’t which is why I have this tomato jungle. Luckily, other unlabelled seed have been easy to remember but next year, I’m going to be a very good gardener and label everything! That leads me on to the second lesson, which although applies to all gardening, particularly applies to straw bale gardening. DO NOT OVERPLANT! I’m sorry for shouting but it is important in straw bale gardening for a couple of reasons. The first is that it is difficult to smoosh, or compress, the bales as the straw decomposes. I’ve had blossom end rot quite badly this year and I think it is GUESS THE PLANT ??? because I haven’t been able to smoosh efficiently, so the tomatoes haven’t been able to absorb water and calcium easily. In the Karsten book, it says that two tomatoes can be planted per bale but I think American bales are bigger than ours so two is too many. This is especially true for bush varieties of tomatoes which really need space to sprawl – their requirements will be addressed in a later lesson! Over-planting can also lead to diseases such as powdery mildew and although it’s fairly easy to treat, avoidance is definitely better! These first two lessons lead me on nicely to the third lesson learnt – a collection really of pinching, pruning and thinning. Indeterminate tomatoes need pinching out but if you don’t learn from lesson one, it can make pinching out difficult as one doesn’t want to pinch out the bush tomatoes for fear of pinching out the buds. I kept meaning to prune my cucumbers as the literature said it would increase yield but here is part of this lesson I’m glad I didn’t get round to practicing – the chickens and goose are beginning to roll their eyes every time I give them a cucumber, metaphorically speaking and the dogs aren’t overly interested either. However, the good news is we’ll have pickled cucumbers in various TOMATO JUNGLE

guises throughout Autumn, Winter and probably Spring. The same goes for cornichons as I let them ramble and climb and I have jars of pickled cornichons and the plants don’t look as if they are ever going to stop! I’ve got round the need for extensive thinning by sowing seeds more finely and waiting until the thinning can be used either as young salad leaves or little beetroots etc. My next lesson learnt also involves tomatoes, of course, but also tall plants such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli. Support. As the bales don’t provide much of an anchorage substrate for tall plants, they really do need support. A strong wind and over go the sprouts and the broccoli LOOFAHS GROWING OVER A FRAME which can expose their roots and cause other problems. Indeterminate tomatoes need staking but this can be difficult in straw bales because of smooshing. Tie them too tightly and there are likely to be breakages; too loosely and the plant will fall over from the weight of the tomatoes. Bush tomatoes, I’ve decided, will have towers positioned around them next year as I really can’t cope with the sprawl! Luckily, we have thickets of bamboo so my Winter will be made making cages for my beloved tomatoes. Another lesson I’ve learnt over the last few years, is not to put all your eggs in one basket which is why I’m looking at other growing methods. While I feel straw bale gardening is great for some types of vegetables – squashes, tomatoes, climbing beans and courgettes for example; I don’t think the yield is enough for others, particularly root vegetables and smooshing can disturb the roots too much. My no dig beds are doing well considering they were set up quite quickly and with only basic research of the method. Yes, there is the dreaded weeding required for no dig beds but keep on top of it (hmm, that’s a lesson already learnt!) and it is quickly done. I weed usually while I’m watering, which is good as I get close to the crops so can keep an eye out for diseases etc. Over the years, I’ve learnt to grow what we like to eat but is more costly to buy. Since we changed to a plant based diet, I’ve found we eat more butternut squashes, and other squashes, so I’ve grown three butternut plants which have twelve fruits on them – plenty for us over the winter, along with the three Blue Hubbard squashes from three plants. I’ll grow the same number next year. I think I sowed five or six seeds to make sure I ended up with enough plants. I was also lucky to have a rogue Winter potato squash seed in with my courgettes so will keep some of those seeds for next year. Make sure there is a plan for preserving and storing any gluts and keep on top of it! A lot of our fruit is dehydrated as we don’t eat a lot of jam or fruit pies but can easily eat a jar of dehydrated apple or pear slices. Over the years I’ve also learnt that it is good to make gluts into something that can just be defrosted or opened and is ready to reheat. Ratatouille and vegetable curries are obvious choices but I also make pie and pasty fillings so all I have to do is defrost the mix and make some pastry. I learnt this from my mother and cookery o-level, although it was then called ‘Food and Nutrition’! I’m still a novice but I’m enjoying what I am doing and I think that is the most important thing. Enjoy doing it and enjoy eating it! Title photo by Alex Millin (PIXABAY), all other photographs by Donna Palframan

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 19

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020


There’s No Place Like Home

by Kevin and Amanda Baughen

henever we picture a beehive it’s more likely than not a pretty box with a chalet-style roof, situated in an orchard, but that’s not the only type of hive available. Bees have been kept in a variety of weird and wonderful places over the centuries, with the earliest form of recorded beekeeping being in ancient Egypt, in clay pipe-shaped hives. By 1500BC there were complex state honey production lines and the accompanying tax administration was in place. Wherever there was organised society there appears to have been established beekeeping on a grand scale: from Ancient Greece and Rome to Afghanistan and China. Records show that over 300 men went to learn beekeeping in Hanyang in the AD200s and by AD420 a government proclamation was issued to encourage productivity. Around 2000 years ago the Mayans were managing hives made from hollowed-out logs in the shape of drums, many of which featured beautiful carvings and sculpted signs of the owners. Before the advent of purpose-built beehives, honey-gatherers in medieval Europe sought out mature trees with nesting wild bees which they then nurtured and protected. These ‘bee forests’ had their downsides, leading to beekeepers cutting down the part of the tree containing the bees’ nest to create log hives, much like the Mayans had kept. In England and western Europe hives were mostly made of willow, hazel or straw ropes coiled around into a dome-shaped basket known as a ‘skep’ (derived from the Old Norse skeppa meaning ‘bushel’). Skeps provided a pleasant airy home for the bees but extracting honey was a messy and destructive business, often resulting in the death of the colony.

Langstroth is credited with the invention of the movable-frame hive, in the 19th century, and today 75% of the hives sold throughout the world are based on his design. In 1863 Frenchman Charles Dadant designed a larger version of the Langstroth hive and also established a factory to manufacture beekeeping tools. An avalanche of designs followed, not just of hives but of beekeeping equipment, including the manufacture of wax foundation sheets, perforated queen excluders, smokers with bellows, and centrifugal honey extractors. There are now many variations on the modular hive, so the beekeeper has a wide selection to choose from. At 13Bees we have Dadant, Warré, and Layens hives, all of which have their different plus points; why not reserve a place on a beekeeping course next year and find out which would suit your chosen mode of beekeeping?

‘Modern’ hives have been designed with the beekeeper in mind, making honey harvesting as simple as possible while providing a safe home for the bees. American-born Reverend Lorenzo

For more information on the beekeeping courses offered by Kevin and Amanda at 13 Bees, please visit or telephone 05 45 71 22 90

Do you have a business, hobby or interest that you think others might want to hear about? It’s not as daunting as it might seem to write for The DSM and we’ll help you all the way. Why not drop us a line at The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 21



by Stephen Shaw

t started with footprints in the potager. No. It started when I was perusing my young vegetables; seeing if they had grown in the last three hours from when I last looked. Such was my life during lockdown. As I was contemplating why the carrot seeds I planted weeks earlier hadn’t appeared, I noticed a patch, or dollop, of brown something on the lawn. On closer inspection it looked like a cowpat, which was confusing as we don’t have a cow. It was then I noticed hoof prints, several of them criss-crossing my freshly hoed earth. I looked around to see if I had missed a cow in the garden...nothing. When recounting my Arthur C. Clark happening to Anna, my wife, she said there was also a big cowpat at the front gate too. We have a large section of garden, running parallel to a lane which is not fenced. So, using my powers of deduction and the direction of hoof prints, I surmised the cows had entered from the lane, had a poo, danced on my leeks and then left via the front gate, only stopping for another quick poo. I was surprised that neither Anna nor myself had spotted the intruder/intruders. The pat was not steaming and had begun ‘crusting over’. Maybe they snuck into our garden at night. Are cows nocturnal? During the previous owners’ tenure of the property a cow fell into the swimming pool and had to be winched out with a Manitou. Fast forward a week. I noticed fresh footprints amongst my kohlrabi. Branches had been torn from a fruit tree and a conifer hedge (it looked like one of the jumped fences at the Grand National). I heard a loud ‘moo’ that sounded very close. The field next to us, which never has cows in...had cows in, about thirty...brown, with horns, having a high old time, doing as they pleased. Just then I heard the screeching of brakes as a couple, I took for the farmer and his wife, judging by the panicked look on their faces, stopped their car and enquired


as to the whereabouts of their bovine escapees. Having limited French, I replied “Les vaches” and pointed to the adjacent field. More screeching, this time of tyres, as he disappeared up the lane. Over the next few minutes more red-faced French farmhands arrived in an assortment of vehicles and attempted the round up. It was like watching One Man and His Dog, except with cows instead of sheep and a Mad Max collection of vehicles instead of a dog. Not wanting to look as though I was finding amusement in their misfortune, and having roped our garden off, I went inside. For the next hour all I could hear was the revving of engines, mooing and “Pascal, vite!” As I washed up I saw what looked like the running of the bulls in Pamplona outside the kitchen window. The mischievous cows diverted into an open ploughed field pursued by a small white Citroen. Seeing the car driving at thirty miles per hour across the furrowed land was an amazing sight, the occupants being jiggled about inside. The cows disappeared from sight but I charted their whereabouts for the rest of the evening from the distant moos. The following day, on my way to the shops, I passed what must have been the guilty herd. This field, unlike the others, resembled Stalag Luft III with barbed wire, electric fences and content cows looking as though they were planning their next great escape.

Apple Pie is the quintessential dessert of the USA, so strange to note, then, that the only native North American apples are crab apples. It was 17th century colonists who introduced the ‘proper’ apple into the country so they could make cider. Cider had been a popular drink in England since the Norman conquest when the French introduced new apple varieties to England. The first recorded American apple orchard was in Boston in 1625. There are over 7,500 varieties of apples found around the world, the majority of which are eating apples (those consumed raw), the remainder being cooking apples. This number does not include species of crab apples although these can be used for making jam or jellies. Apple varieties can be as small as a golf ball or as large as a grapefruit.


adly, the Apple festival in Secondigny is another in the long line of casualties this year due to Coronavirus. We can, however, still celebrate the harvesting of this most popular of fruits with a few facts and statistics. The apple is the most consumed fruit in France. Approximately 1.7 million tons of apples are grown in France each year with 38% exported. Golden Delicious, Gala and Granny Smith apples are the best-selling varieties in France but many delicious, less wellknown varieties can be found at local orchards. The apple is thought to have been domesticated up to ten thousand years ago in the Tian Shan Mountains in China and then to have travelled along the Silk Road to Europe. Ancient apple seeds have been found in archaeological sites which is thought to show that people have been harvesting the fruit across Europe and Asia for many thousands of years.

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‘Pomology’ is the botanical study of apples. Someone who studies apples is known as a ‘pomologist’. In Latin, the same word is used for both “apple” and “evil which may explain why the apple earned the reputation as the “Forbidden fruit”, even though it is not actually named as such in the Bible. Apples are 25% air and will float on water. There are three colour variations. Apples are green because of the chlorophyll found in them. Yellow ones start green but as they mature, the apple ceases chlorophyll production and any residual chlorophyll degrades allowing the natural yellow pigment to show through. Red apples also follow this model but then make a red pigment known as anthocyanin. A bushel of apples consists of roughly 42 apples which is typically enough to make either 3 gallons of cider or 21 pies!

Travel The Mid-Pyrenees – Laruns and farther


aruns was not only about vultures for us (see The DSM August 2020 issue); it was also about getting an introduction to the border scenery. We had taken a B&B in a little village a bit to the north of Laruns and had the use of a kitchenette, so we did not have to go out in the evening for food. The first real day of the holiday we took it easy, just going up a side valley to visit a beekeeper in Aas, “Mièllerie de la Montange Verte,” which was quite an industry for this small village. There was a video demonstration, a visit to the processing machinery, and a long talk with a guide. Like modern breweries and vineyards, it was all stainless steel and spotlessly clean. We bought quite a lot of honey and have been enjoying rhododendron, acacia and sweet chestnut honey through the winter. We ran into a problem with lunch, because we don’t eat meat and prefer not to eat fish either. It was late, and most of the restaurants were closed, it being the end of the season. We managed to find a terrace restaurant in the town centre which listed a veggie salad on the menu. The waiter told us that this salad was not available and that there was only the full midday menu, a major meat dish. Asked if we could have two entrées instead, the waiter responded that was possible. So we ordered a carrot salad and a lentil salad, which turned out to contain chicken. Usually in France we can get very good vegetarian salads, so all this was a bit of a disappointment.

by Howard Needs

housing a supermarket, gift shops and a couple of restaurants. We decide to give this a miss, and after buying some sandwiches, we retreated to the French side and walked up into the hills and peaks. After a few kilometres, we sat down and ate our food and just looked around and enjoyed the quiet mountain landscape – more gentle than the Alps – with the birds around us and the flowers on the ground. When we retired from our working life, we escaped the frantic busyness of Holland for the quiet of the Deux-Sèvres. Here in the mountains, we were immersed in a further level of retreat and quietness. We took some memory photos and a panoramic video, as well as some good shots of flowers and rocks.

On the way down, we stopped off for a coffee and saw two motorcyclists pass. Soon after we had started driving again, we were stopped because of an accident: One of the riders had slid on a bend, had come off, and was now lying was ominously still on the road. It brought back memories of myself at 19 years sliding down a busy main road on my stomach after a fall on a scooter. Life is perilous and precious, and we felt the sadness of it for the rest of the afternoon. The meadows and pastures at the side of the road contained horses as well as cows. During a short stop, we noticed a very newly born calf just trying to get to its feet amidst a number of cows and horses. A small stream and yellow buttercups finished a really pastoral scene. Almost back in Laruns itself, we came across another transhumance, this time of cattle with large horns. We could see that the road ahead was completely blocked, and again patience was called for as we waited until the animals had turned off of the main road. These animals were moving fast, and their minders were running along with them – no slow meandering here.

The main road into Spain following the valley of the Ossau was excellent. As we climbed higher, the local peaks became apparent, and at the top of the pass, we were clearly into an alpine environment, with its short grass, ground-hugging flowers, and lack of trees. At the border, we found (as we could have expected if we had thought about it) a collection of unattractive buildings

Later, at the B and B, we read in the garden, watched the birds in the sky, and tried to make arrangements to see the vultures. Our telephone call to the man listed as the contact person went unanswered, so we left a message. The next morning at 07.00, the man phoned back, and we made an arrangement to meet him for the trip up the valley side that morning.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 23

Photos by Howard Needs

That afternoon we planned and booked our next accommodation, having decided to go up over the pass into Spain the following day. The next day, a couple of kilometres after setting out, we came across an oncoming flock of sheep. I think that it was a transhumance – the seasonal movement of livestock, in this case from the high summer pastures to the lower winter accommodation. There were hundreds of beasts, and it took some 20 minutes for them to pass. Only a few herders were involved; their dogs did the main work of directing the flock. I always like watching the sheep-herding dogs at work, free and enthusiastic, earning their living in a way that suits their nature.

Our Story (So Far) Magnolia Farm


by Owen Kitchener-McCartney

enovating a centuries old farm house wasn’t exactly on the agenda when I met my wife, Laura on a 36 hour bus ride through a remote area of Indonesia. It was the summer of 2012 and I’d just finished an Architectural Technology degree at Northumbria University. As a young, single, Geordie lad with a lust for adventure, I set off to South East Asia on a 6 month trip where I bumped into a stunningly gorgeous, posh girl from Hampshire in a sweaty, dirty, run-down bus park in Indonesia. Luckily, said girl shared my passion for the unknown. We fell in love, moved to London, got ‘proper’ jobs, worked hard, paid rent, got nowhere and decided there was more to life. Our shared love of travel has, so far, led us to just shy of 70 countries across the world. We yearned, however, for somewhere to call home and grey, drizzly England wasn’t quite cutting it. We’d talked about buying in France for years as house prices in the UK continued to rise well above what we could afford. We loved the idea of the simplicity of life in rural France, not to mention the wine, food, weather and natural beauty. It wasn’t, however, until the final leg of an epic, 18 month travelling tour around Asia and Europe when we decided to have a look into property in the Vendee and Deux-Sevres regions, an area of France we had fallen for whilst visiting Laura’s parents who bought a damp, wreck of a cottage near La Chataigneraie over 20 years ago and had the vision to turn it into the beautiful, second home that it is today. Suddenly, we landed in Nantes Airport, in the summer of 2018, with nothing but a backpack, a few quid leftover and almost 20 viewings lined up.

cheeky offer in on the property. We were so excited and yet, painfully apprehensive. This was all completely new to us having never owned or even tried to buy a property before. The nervous wait didn’t last long. Even in the hot, July sun of that day, the ice in our gin and tonic was still very much frozen when the agent emailed us back to say our offer had been accepted. We’d done it! We’d bought our first house. It was a complete whirlwind of an afternoon! It was then that the realisation dawned on us. Despite the unbridled joy at buying our dream house, we realised that we’d spent all of our money and needed to head back to the UK to get some work and fund the renovations. We knew it was going to be a long slog but money being the necessary evil that it is, we knew we had a long road of saving up in order to make our dream a reality. Leaving France a few weeks later to head back to the UK was gut-wrenchingly difficult. We’d even already named our house Magnolia Farm because of the two, beautiful Magnolia trees in the garden. Here we were, leaving behind the house that we barely knew and yet were head over heels in love with. Over the next year, we had to make do with the odd week of annual leave to work on the house and progress was painfully slow. We therefore decided to make a big change in our life. We planned to look for seasonal work so that we could spend half of the year working on the house and the other half, working to fund the renovations. Before that though, there was the small matter of our wedding to plan. Where else could we get hitched other than the beautiful, French countryside?

Most of the properties we viewed stretched even our imaginations to the limit as we drove from one over-priced pile of stones to the next. In true Hollywood fashion, it was the very last viewing, when our hope was beginning to turn into despair that blew our minds. A house with an acre of land, a second dwelling and several outbuildings in a gorgeous, quiet hamlet just outside the beautiful town of Coulonges sur l’Autize looked too good to be true. The property consisted of a three storey farmhouse with the potential for five bedrooms, two huge barns, a cow shed, a small summer house, pig sties and a very dilapidated but lovely second house. It was also the cheapest property we had viewed by quite a long way. The stars certainly seemed to align as the estate agent, Natalie from Agence Melusine in Vouvant, was the daughter of the owner of the very same agency that sold Laura’s parents their house over 20 years ago. Surely, it was fate. Feverishly, we drove back to Laura’s parent’s cottage and after a very quick financial discussion over a G&T, put our somewhat 24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

Laura’s parents were kind enough to let us use their garden for our wedding and despite it sounding like a bit of a cliché, it really was, without doubt, the best day of our lives. We planned, designed and built the whole thing ourselves but we could never have done it without the help of the local community who came together to help us with catering, photography and even help with setting it all up. Even the local Mairie were kind enough to let us use some of their furniture to fill the marquee that we’d hired from a local farmer. If anything, our wedding day had Photo by Penny Brewer

Sometimes, it’s completing the smallest of jobs that may even seem unnecessary to some that give you that sense of making big changes to the property. We have a small, garden wall surrounding the area at front of the property that was dark grey from years of rain and mould build-up. We scraped away the moss and painted the wall in the same Magnolia paint that we, one day, plan to paint the house with and it completely transformed the entrance to the property. These small insignificant jobs make the world of difference if your confidence is low or you’re just a bit overwhelmed by the scale of the job in hand.

Photo by Penny Brewer

further cemented our love for France and our new local area. Not to mention of course, the favourable wine prices! Us being us, our honeymoon was never going to be a standard affair. No lying on the beach drinking cocktails for a fortnight whilst being fanned with palm leaves. Nope, we boarded our flight from Charles de Gaulle Airport and headed, firstly, for Kazakhstan for a 4 month trip around Central Asia and into India. Whilst travel is our first love, it was all the more exciting knowing that, for the first time, we wouldn’t be going home to the UK when it was over, we’d be heading France! We returned to France just after Christmas 2019 to really get our teeth into work on the house. We didn’t have much money left after the wedding and honeymoon but we were desperate to get going and at least make a dent in the ever-growing list of jobs to do on the property. Despite the cold, wet days of January, we’d finally managed to spend a couple of months rather than weeks, renovating our beloved farmhouse. We’re still in the very early stages of renovation and we know it’s going to be a long job to get it finished but the truth is, the process is as exciting as the prospect of completion. Some of the most satisfying work is the demolition of old walls and seeing the new spaces open up with minimal work is brilliant. Putting it all back together however is a different story. Priority number one was of course, a hot shower. We installed a 200 litre water tank upstairs and then set about transforming the small, awkward space under the stairs into a bathroom. I’ve never in my life seen a room with so many angles to the walls and ceiling... not a single one of them straight! This was certainly a baptism of fire but we just about managed it. To date, it’s the only room in the house that can even be described as ‘almost finished’ but it’s an achievement that we’re nonetheless proud of, even though the finished product hides most of the hard work and all the problems we encountered along the way.

Our relatively short journey so far hasn’t exactly been plain sailing. The second, older dwelling on the property, despite standing for centuries, decided it would give up in a storm last winter and the roof has collapsed in on itself. Not having the money to fix it is cause for concern but we hope to raise the funds to save the building somehow and turn it into a gite so that we can earn an income from the property. This is an addition to the long list of jobs we can’t afford to complete immediately such as the installation of a new septic tank, kitchen, log burner etc. Luckily, we’re happy to spend our evenings, for now, in the relative comfort of the ‘summer house’ which is one of our outbuildings that we’ve turned into a temporary kitchen and lounge complete with log fire. At night, we retreat to our caravan that we bought for £500 from a family friend, nestled under the decaying roof of our open barn. It’s hardly luxury living but we’re not bothered. We absolutely love our house and we have never regretted our decision to buy it despite the issues it throws up. We’ve ‘mastered’ so many new skills during our short time in France such as tiling, plumbing, plaster-boarding etc. but it is slow, hard graft. The beauty of it is’s ours! All the hours of hard work we put in is completely worth it when you sit down in front of the fire with a glass of red wine in a dusty, stone shed and feel like you’ve achieved something, not for your employer, but for yourself.

Our story is just beginning and despite all the political nonsense surrounding what we now call the ‘B’ word, we still plan to live in France full time in the future and for now, we will settle for a few months a year around our seasonal jobs. This winter, we plan to spend our longest time to date on the farm and while finances are tight, our passion for this build will never wane. We’re certainly not builders but we are planning to do the majority of the work ourselves to keep the budget down. So, if you’re passing...pop in for a coffee, glass of wine, aperitif, or, you know, a couple of months of hard labour or whatever!

Owen The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 25

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across 1. Wooden tropical grass (6) 4. An unsuccessful ending to a struggle or contest (6) 8. Black Sea Ukranian port (5) 9. This month! (7) 10. A theatrical performer (5) 11. Underwater explosive projectile (7) 12. A Motionless erect stance assumed by military personnel (9) 15. A toiletry that has a fragrant odour (7) 16. A republic in eastern Africa (5) 17. Having a sweet nature, very beautiful, kind and good (7) 18. A series of test cricket matches between England and Australia (5)

19. An engineless aircraft (6) 20. Off course, wandering aimlessly (6) Down 2. Kidnap against their will (6) 3. The battle that ended the Wars of the Roses (1485) (8-5) 5. A kitchen appliance used for shredding, blending, chopping or slicing food (4-9) 6. A list of matters to be taken up at a meeting (6) 7. Plan B! A possible event or occurrence or result (11) 13. A shelter for a dog (6) 14. I or me in person (6) With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

With thanks to M.Morris

Clues Across 1. Sounds like some dignitaries are having some very bad experiences? (5) 4. Run shoe pattern as a result of a tip-off? (7) 8. What’s coming up providing no ending for naughty little devil? (3) 9. Nan getting agitated on badly arranged river trip; she should have had this? (9) 10. Directions for short distance to Surrey town? (5) 11. Raining up! All is appearing regularly here. (7) 13. Plates cheeses prepared specially for cross-country events? (13) 16. Startler! Took off top and messed around with low life? (7) 18. Put together sides of guillotine found on French sea? (5) 19. Diamonds arrive for the queen; provided by a northerner? (9) 21. Tragic! King is no king in the field! (3) 22. Just like 16A, but left top on, then left off this time for first course? (7) 23. Forerunners of stadium terraces, all newly designed to endure. (5)

Clues Down 1. Gents getting around to help young girls? (7) 2. About to give stand-up performance? (9) 3. Boarding boat once round? (7) 4. Used a net wildly; clause added on for the fallen? (8, 5) 5. Fish eater, but that girl takes nothing unknown. (5) 6. Manage to move quickly? (3) 7. Heading off for rugby tournament having 50/50 chance? (5) 12. Antipodean gold article found on well-used trails? (9) 14. Men’s dwellings found on entries to Bristol? (7) 15. Sweat badly on route to becoming a supervisor? (7) 16. Complains about dens being disturbed? (5) 17. ET conversion getting smallest amount for rent? (5) 20. First of entrants taking ages; when will they get here? (3)

Brain Gym What is cut on a table, but is never eaten? What has a bottom at the top? I have branches, but no fruit, trunk or leaves. What am I? If two’s company, and three’s a crowd, what are four and five? What is 3/7 chicken, 2/3 cat and 2/4 goat? I am a word of letters three; add two and fewer there will be. What word am I? I have lakes with no water, mountains with no stone and cities with no buildings. What am I?

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Q8. Can you work out the well known phrase or saying from the visual clues? b.


It’s -------------------U U




Answers on P.29

Q1. Q2. Q3. Q4. Q5. Q6. Q7.

Look what I found in my ‘shed’

Although not quite a shed, my loft contains a fair selection of items purchased over the years and held onto in case one day they are of use.

One such item, very carefully transported to France when we moved here, is my Dalek (yes the Doctor Who type). As a youngster I somehow got my hands on a copy of the booklet produced by the BBC on ‘How to build your own Dalek’. It probably cost me a few month’s pocket money but sadly my DIY skills as a 10 or 11 year old were not up to the task and the plans were destined never to be used. Some 40 years later, around my 50th birthday, I stumbled across an advert for a full-sized Dalek for sale. Understandably my wife was less than convinced that we needed such an item but came around when I explained how we would use it to raise money for local charities and it wouldn’t take up ‘that much room’. After a few days of back and forth with the current owner, a price was agreed and I finally had my very own Dalek. Although I didn’t admit this at the time, it was quite a bit larger than I had anticipated and my idea of having it parked in the corner of the lounge was clearly silly so after a few days of photos and raised eyebrows from visitors, it/he was relegated to a spare bedroom. A few weeks later the local school spring fair came around. We usually helped out and this time I decided the Dalek would join us. The infants at the school and their families would be sure to pay money to have their photograph taken with it. A friend painted a suitable background and I spent hours wiring up lights and sound to make the whole experience ‘bigger and better’ then off we set. What I had entirely forgotten to take into account is that the five year old children who were the target audience might be a little nervous around a ‘real’ Dalek. The first young one walked slowly up and stood about three feet away, looking sideways at the visitor from another world. He was finally convinced to smile and look at the camera but just as the photo was about to be taken the sound kicked in with a loud Dalek voice shouting ‘EXTERMINATE’. The poor little lad left the room at high speed and for all I know is probably still running. We wound down the sound and stopped pretending the dalek was real and things went a lot smoother from then on. That was all about 10 years ago. ‘Dobby’, as he is known, now languishes in my attic covered in a sheet and awaiting the day that I can find a suitable home for him downstairs. I fear that day may never come but I also know that any unwanted visitors coming across a full size Dalek are likely to need clean underwear as a matter if urgency. Who knows, if The DSM ever throws a Garden Party, Dobby may come out to play.


Photo by Antonios Ntoumas


ropical Storm Isaias was massive! We returned home from our nomadic summer safari and waved farewell to the previously sheltering New York City visitors. The New Yorkers have now returned to their own metropolitan fortress after what must have occasioned quite a few memorable entries in their country holiday diary. We arrived back just in time to sweep in with Hurricane Isaias. Lucky us. We surveyed the destruction caused by Isaias and there was plenty of that to see. By the time this second hurricane of the season reached us in Connecticut it had mercifully been downgraded to a Tropical Storm, but it was an awesome experience none the less and what a mess it left behind! Massive trees had fallen in the yard and demolished stone walls, power lines were down, dead snakes floated in the pool, and groundhogs had moved in and set up home under the trampoline. But even so it could have been so much worse. No one was injured, and the structure of the house itself was spared. As I write we are still arranging the removal of the storm debris and negotiating with various representatives of the insurance company as to how they view their liabilities, which will probably be at odds with how we view them! C’est la vie. An eventful summer this has been for us all. And it is not over yet. After the great storm clear up the next event is the To-be-or-Not-to-Be question - whether the schools will re-open and in what form. At the moment there is no certainty and a hokey-kokey hybrid model of two days in school and three out is being proposed with a full remote option also mooted. The children are strangely unimpressed. And there’s more. After the great return to school coin-flip there cometh the Presidential Election. At the moment the show-biz circus that is the party Conventions is in full swing, and widely reported in the media. Vast sums of money are pledged and spent on advertising the views of various luminaries and personalities. A great time is had by all it seems. As a humble Green Card holder and not a citizen I cannot vote, which is just as well as the antics of those blue Democrat Donkeys and red Republication Elephants are more than I can handle. A good ol’ British amble down to the local village hall with the dog and perhaps a casual chat with the guy standing outside with a clip board is what I was brought up on, and gets my vote every time. So while we try to stay safe and healthy in the midst of the stresses of the everyday, we have resolved that it’s maybe best to join the groundhogs and dig in under the trampoline. Hopefully when we emerge the sun will cast our shadows on a totally cleared up yard and with not a Donkey or Elephant in sight. Until then stay safe and well,


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 27

Health, Beauty and Fitness Everyday Yoga for Everyone THE MAGIC OF YOGA IN NATURE


by Rebecca Novick

eptember is my favourite month in the Deux-Sèvres.

Every year, it arrives like a bonus cheque on the heels of the summer. The days are still long, the sunsets glorious, it rains little and the sun shines generously, seemingly unaware that summer is officially over. Warm to hot afternoons with cooler mornings and evenings that allow for more activity. This is the weather that calls me outside. To the trees still fully dressed in leaves, showing off tints of their fall collection; to the sound of bird wings and the rustle of trees; to wood pigeons crooning affectionately to one another, crows bursting forth with opinions, and magpies chattering in descent like little roller shutters.

Are you a hairdresser, beautician, yoga instructor, gym or perhaps a therapist? Up to 15,000 people a month read The DSM Magazine. An advert the size of this can be yours from as little as 35.17€ per month*. Options to advertise for any period you choose. Why not drop us a line at ... *This price is based on a 12 issue, black and white, size B advert (same size as this advert) paid annually in advance. Other options are available and a range of discounts are also available for multiple month adverts.

We are indeed fortunate to be surrounded such natural beauty, a precious and endangered resource. By 2050, the UN estimates that over two-thirds of us will live in urban areas. Most of us since childhood have intuitively grasped the physical and mental benefits of time in nature, but these benefits are now becoming scientifically documented. The findings are quite astonishing. Exposure to nature has been shown to reduce stress and cravings, increase energy and reduce psychiatric disorders; even to improve concentration. One study showed that hospital patients with a view of trees recovered from surgery faster, another that prisoners who could see trees from their cells were less prone to depression and anxiety. Doctor Qing Li, an environmental immunologist from Tokyo, has led research into “forest bathing” – ShinrinYoku -- and has discovered that immunity-supporting cells increased after a visit to a forest and remained elevated for up to a month. Combined with what we already are coming to realize about the benefits of yoga for the body and mind, doing yoga in nature adds a potent ingredient to the mix. Lying on the mat after the session, gazing up at the clouds or through the branches of trees, my thoughts dissolve like Alka Seltzers into a natural peace. I leave feeling both relaxed and energized, ready for the day. So, for the next few weeks, I’ll be offering morning yoga classes outside at the Base de Loisirs in Parthenay as well as classes via Zoom/Skype and private lessons. Contact me for details and profitez du beau temps!

For more information email Rebecca at watch her YouTube channel at or follow her on 28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

Our Furry Friends hope association charity shops helping animals in need

café • bric à brac • books dvds & cds • clothes • furniture

hope 79 • sauzé-vaussais

17 route de civray 79190 sauzé-vaussais open every thursday & 1st sunday of each month, 10am - 4pm

@ • Good quality donations of clothes, books and bric-à-brac are always welcome • • N°RNA W792002789

Vosko Vosko is a stunning and special boy, and one with oodles of energy. He’s perfectly behaved in his foster home; loves cuddles on the sofa with his foster mum; has met a number of different dogs and played brilliantly with them; knows lots of commands; is calm when he’s with someone and is good in the car. Vosko would love a home with an experienced owner and an enclosed garden where he can have a good run around, and his education can continue.

The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email:

Visit the website:

TAKE A BREAK - SOLUTIONS - P.26 Easy Crossword: Across: 1. bamboo 4. defeat 8. odesa 9. october 10. actor 11. torpedo 12. attention 15. perfume 16. kenya 17. angelic 18. ashes 19. glider 20. adrift Down: 2. abduct 3. bosworth field 5. food processor 6. agenda 7. contingency 13. kennel 14. myself Toughie Crossword: This month’s theme : Horse Racing. Across: 1. mares 4. unhorse 8. imp 9. insurance 10. ewell 11. annuals 13. steeplechases 16. rattler 18. merge 19. icelander 21. lea 22. starter 23. stand Down: 1. maidens 2. represent 3. shiplap 4. unseated rider 5. heron 6. run 7. evens 12. australia 14. hombres 15. steward 16. rails 17. least 20. eta Brain Gym: 1. A deck of cards 2. Your legs 3. A bank 4. Nine 5. Chicago 6. Few 7. A map 8a. It’s over to you 8b. Four Seasons (4 C sons)


Noble, loving ‘Cookie’ a 5-year-old, crossbred Dogue de Bordeaux will make someone the perfect best friend. His wish list would be for a large secure garden, maybe a playmate, definitely no cats but more than ever ‘Cookie would love to be part of a family forever and receive all the care and love he’s missed out on. This big, young at heart, lad is well worth your consideration and would love to meet you. Home checks and adoption fees apply. Cookie is vaccinated, neutered and his bags are packed and he’s ready to leave!

The Assocation Orfée tel: 09 77 48 71 43 or by email:

Molly Molly is ready for adoption and has been with us too long. She came to us a couple of years ago as a kitten. Loves being outside, loves strokes and cuddles. Contact us either via Facebook or email Or visit us on Wednesdays between 11am - 4pm if you are interested in adoptions. Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884.

Tia Tia is a lively and yet gentle young Anglo who loves people, other dogs and water. We’re still learning about her, so please get in touch for more info or if you’d like to meet her.

The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email:

Visit the website: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 29

On The Road Blue Jeans Wheels

by Helen Tait-Wright


veryone thinks of the 2CV as the iconic French ‘car of the people’, but I think that title is equally if not more deserving of the Renault 4L.

The boxy full-width body offers more space for both passengers and luggage than the similar-sized 2CV. The car also boasts an early hatchback body design for greater practicality. The 4L suspension set up is of particular interest.

The concept was that the 4L would become an everyman’s car, capable of satisfying the needs of most consumers.

The car features a shorter wheelbase on the left than on the right because the rear wheels are not mounted directly opposite one another. This concept allowed a very simple design of the rear suspension using transverse torsion bars located one behind the other without affecting handling. The front torsion bars were longitudinal. The fixed end of the torsion bars is mounted on quadrants that can be adjusted via a holes/fixing bolt arrangement.

It would be a family car, a woman’s car, a farmer’s car, or a city car.

This enables the suspension to be ‘beefed up’ and the ground clearance increased.

Pronounced ‘Quatrelle’, this small economy car offered buyers more refinement and performance than the 2CV, but still at the affordable price.

Designer Pierre Dreyfus dubbed it a ‘Blue Jeans’ car. The Blue Jeans car broke with conventions just like its namesake ‘which people can wear in any situation if you do away with the pretentions of snobbism and social conformity,’ observed Dreyfus. ‘Jeans are an article of clothing which you can wear to do anything, anywhere. On top of that, they are not expensive and are easily replaced.’ Launched in 1961 the Renault 4 established the concept of cars as working instruments. White or grey for skilled contractors, dark blue for the Gendarmerie, sky blue for EDF-GDF and bright yellow for the postal service: the Renault 4 wore the colours of its employers without undermining its hardworking spirit, much like blue jeans which, thanks to their sturdiness, began to replace canvas overalls and coveralls at work sites. But in 1963, it added a Parisienne version: black jeans with wicker patterned pockets, the last touch of versatility to ensure women finally had a car of their own. Although this blue jeans concept was new, in fact the Renault 4 shares many design traits with the older Citroën 2CV to allow it to fulfil the same role as a versatile utility car, especially for people in rural France and other parts of the world with poor roads. It has a large structural platform with a separate body. It has front wheel drive, long-travel fully independent suspension and rack and pinion steering. It has a simple body with minimal equipment, a large space for cargo or luggage and ‘deckchair’ seats which can be easily removed. However, the Renault 4 updated this basic concept with a larger four-cylinder water-cooled engine with a sealed cooling system offering much better refinement and performance than the contemporary 2CV, with a top speed of over 104 km/h (65 mph).

With specialist tools provided by Renault it is done in a matter of minutes, and gives the light 4L a good amount of off-road capabilities. This feature, along with the installation of a thick protecting aluminium plate under the engine, has been widely used either by globe trotters and off-road racers and is still favoured with present-day student entrants in the quintessential ‘4L Trophy’. It’s unrivalled interior, low running costs and ability to adapt to all types of use made it an instant hit. Just six years after its launch, Renault 4 production exceeded the million mark, and other records were broken as the car reached a total production figure of 8,135,424 in the course of its 31-year career, and is in fact the world’s third best selling vehicle, after the VW Beetle and the Model T Ford. The 4L was produced or assembled in no fewer than 27 countries (in addition to France), some as far afield as Australia, South Africa, Chile and the Philippines. Although the 4L story ended in 1992, nearly two decades later the Renault 4 is still a feature in the automobile landscape, where there is a purpose or a passion for everyone. Very active clubs are flourishing all around the globe and the numerous surviving models are restored, modified, entered in rallies or simply used every day by several generations of ‘trelleurs’. The 4L has become a timeless cult favourite. The blue jeans of the car world!

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

Gazelles Update

with Helen Tait-Wright and Sue Alemann

October 2020 Update.


s the summer draws to a close we caught up with our Gazelles who were absolutely buzzing with news! Firstly, they have managed to secure a place on the prestigious 30th edition of the Gazelles which runs from 12 - 27th March 2021, instead of the 31st edition which is now delayed to 2022. The opportunity arose as a result of the edition being delayed again, and some teams being unable to change their plans for the third time.

“We are so happy that we will be representing Giti” Sue continues “Our story fits so well with their brand image and values, and we are thrilled to join their female team line up.” The girls are planning some revisions to Priscilla’s wrap to showcase their new partner, but assure us she will still be instantly recognisable, and all will be revealed in the coming months. They are also planning an auction event at the end of the year, featuring some amazing unique and original artworks that have been donated to them by local artists. Do follow them by searching @ChimeraLandyAdventures on Instagram and Facebook to get all the latest news as it breaks, as there seems to be a lot going on!

“We just had to go for it!” says Helen. “It was an intense roller coaster ride to actually make this happen, but it gives our sponsors a fantastic chance to be part of this anniversary edition” “It’s exciting and a little scary” says Sue. “ We have to ramp up our preparation which has been slow during the lockdown and summer period, but we are up for the challenge in the true Gazelles spirit” The girls have been assigned team number 269 and their listing is online at The other massive boost to their campaign is finally securing the backing of the Principal Partner they have been chasing for so long. Giti are a tyre manufacturer distributing their brands to more than 130 countries. They also sponsor other motorsports drivers and events worldwide, notably an all female circuit racing team (so our girls fit right in), expanding their reach into the off road sector.

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 31

Sports Car & Motorcycle Specialist Restoration

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Le Busseau


by Lynne Wigmore

Here are the last six patterns in this short series. These can be mixed and matched with the patterns in the August and September 2020 issues to make larger samplers. If you fancy designing your own, just use a piece of squared paper (available in any French supermarket). Next month, November, I will be showing you a simple Christmas design that can be used in cards, samplers or even as a tree decoration. Pattern 4

Pattern 1

Happy sewing .... Lynne

Pattern 2

Pattern 5

Pattern 3

Pattern 6

All patterns created by Lynne Wigmore All patterns are available for download from our website

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020| 33

Food and Drink When Jack Met Lloyd ‘And what do you want to be when you grow up?’ This was the question well-meaning adults used to throw at you when they had nothing better to say. If you had been capable of a snappy response at such a tender age it should have been something on the lines of ‘dunno, what about you?’. One of the definitions of wit is what-you’d-wished-you’d-said, but what you actually said was ‘train driver’ or ‘footballer’ or ‘vet cos I like animals’, and the big people scuffed you under the cheek and turned back to their big stuff. I’m sure this happened to me but it’s all too long ago to remember my preferred career path at the age of seven. I daresay it didn’t include wine. But we all keep our ability to dream, it’s just the scope that changes. In my more ‘mature’ years, the idea of brain surgery took hold but seemed to involve more maths (why, for goodness sake?) than I was capable of, and there were no world leader situations vacant, but a chance visit to the movies in 1980 sealed the deal: my destiny was to be a cocktail bartender, preferably of the phantasmagorical variety. The film was ‘The Shining’, and the key scene for me was when Jack Torrance (played by Jack Nicholson) meets bartender Lloyd. Share my moment of epiphany on You Tube ‘the shining bar scene’. Dreams exist in a dream-like state and have no time limitation. My cocktailering resided in my personal ether, alongside the eminent brain surgeon and the benign world leader, ready to be brought on stage in sharp relief at a moment’s notice. How patient; how comforting. In the enforced inertia of confinement they had more than enough time and opportunity to come out to play. It was good to see them again and we had a rare old time, but I had to get brutal and real as dreamers do. Cocktails were to be my metier. I knew it would take more than slicked back hair, a sharp suit, and a steely eye: I needed to bone up. The first thing I considered was hardware. Everyone’s vision of a cocktail bartender is of the shaker, the receptacle in which the cocktail is concocted. This might also extend to the aerial flipping of bottles à la Tom Cruise in the 1988 movie ‘Cocktail’ where he showed himself to be an accomplished tosser. There are three kinds. The Cobbler Shaker is a three-piece, consisting of a large metal bottom and a smaller metal top with a built-in strainer. Works fine, but a bit safe and staid – like riding a bike with the training wheels still on. The Parisian Shaker is a two-piece, meaning without the strainer. This looks the coolest of the three, but cannot beat the choice of professionals, the Boston Shaker. The top is about two thirds the size of the base making it awkward to manipulate without practice, but with a bigger volume it has the practical advantage of mixing and cooling with the greatest efficiency. Next, glassware. I guess we’re all familiar with the ‘classic’ cocktail glass, the V-shaped top on a delicate stem. There are two other basics, the highball and the lowball. The former is a tall, slim glass, the kind you used to guzzle milk or juice from. The latter is a short tumbler, the one your father used for whiskey. All glassware should be kept cold, ie in the fridge. Coldness is the key to most cocktails and it’s important 34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

by John Sherwin

to use the right kind of ice (not to be confused with the right kind of leaves on British rail tracks) in the shaking process. Shaved ice or small cubes will melt quickly and increase dilution – not what we’re looking for. Much better would be a couple of hefty chunks which achieve the cooling effect before they weep too much water. For both the Parisian and Boston shakers you need a separate strainer which fits nicely onto the rim of the smaller container. What of the cocktails themselves? There are more combinations than you could shake a swizzle stick at, almost as complicated as brain surgery or world leadership, but some of the classics should be memorised. This not only has showing-off potential, but is also an easy gateway to other very similar drinks. Some examples: Perhaps the most widely known cocktail is a simple gin and tonic. This is also an example of a highball, which is any spirit combined with a larger amount of non-alcoholic mixer. Other highballs include whisky and soda, rum and coke… well, you get the idea. But back to gin. Gin Fizz anyone? Juice of half a lemon, half tablespoon of sugar, glass of gin, shake well then add soda water (the fizz bit). A Gin Rickey is basically the same thing without the sugar. A Singapore Sling has a quarter of gin to a half cherry brandy with the juice of a quarter lemon, shaken then filled with soda water. There are many fiddly recipes for the SS, but this is the godfather. If you’re channelling your inner Bogart or Spencer Tracy then you’ll need something whisky-based. A Manhattan is two thirds Canadian Club with one third Italian vermouth and a dash of Angostura bitters, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass, with a cherry as decoration if you feel so inclined. An Old Fashioned requires a little more than just pouring: crush a lump of sugar with Angostura bitters and add a glass of Rye or Canadian Club and stir, add a lump of ice, a twist of lemon peel and slice of orange. On the other hand, the budding Hemingway must master the Mojito, supposedly his fave when down in ole Cuba. Take the juice of half a lime and mix with two teaspoons sugar, add a little crushed ice, add ten or twelve mint leaves and stir, add white rum, fill with crushed ice and add just a splash of soda water. I was going to segue into a Mint Julep here but I suddenly realised I’m in western France and not the deep south of the USA. So instead of the Kir or Kir Royale you always offer your guests, try a Champagne Julep. In a highball glass put a lump of sugar and two sprigs of mint and fill with Champagne (or a good sparkler from Saumur), stir gently and add pieces of seasonal fruit. Like any dream this is still a work in progress, but who knows, one day when you least expect it, I’ll be serving you a cocktail called the ‘Here’s Johnny’ at some place resembling the Overlook Hotel. ¹ ¹If you haven’t seen The Shining, you really should. I suggest on a cold, dark winter’s night when you’re on your own

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or

Figs, At Last

by Jacqueline Brown


s September draws to a close, I find this is always a time to look back and reflect on the things we have achieved over the summer, before we start to hunker down for the cooler months to come. It has been a summer of cycling for us and this year I took my annual birthday challenge of cycling 100km in a day to a whole new level, completing three 100km days in a row; something I couldn’t have done sixteen years ago. I also love to dig out all the old back to school photos, and I can’t believe how much our lives have changed since moving here in 2004. This year we have achieved yet another milestone as Ed passed his driving test just before he returned to Poitiers for university. I have exciting news from the orchard. About fourteen, or maybe, fifteen years ago, we dug a hole at the end of a flower bed (no easy task with our rock-hard soil) and planted a little fig tree. We watered it, I talked to it and slowly it began to grow, but it was never the happiest looking tree in the orchard and I soon lost interest. It is still not much taller than I am and although over the years it has occasionally produced a fig or two, they have remained hard and bullet like, before just dropping off. We gave up pruning it, as there never seemed to be much growth to prune, and when a self-seeded fig sapling popped up in the garden, I switched my attention to it. Growing was something it found easy and it now has structure and beauty that I never tire of looking at. It is also much more prolific at popping out figs, although these have sadly followed the same pattern as the other tree; small, hard fruits, full of promise, that do nothing more than shrivel and drop off. This year they even went as far as showing signs of swelling and ripening, before they disappeared in front of my very eyes. I had accepted that although our orchard gives us plenty, a harvest of figs was not to be. Earlier this year a visiting friend and I were walking around the orchard, oohing and aahing over the harvest of plums and the tiny butternut squash that had just started to form. As I hurried him past the sad little fig tree, he commented saying it looked like it would fruit this year. I laughed and we moved on to admire the peach tree. Well, all I can say is that whatever he said to it, it obviously appreciated his fig-whispering technique as I am now picking an abundance of ripe fruit that are so sweet and delicious, I can’t believe it and the best thing is, I can easily reach even the highest branches. I think the moral of this story is that patience is a virtue and you should never give up on the little guy.

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020| 35

Technology What exactly is WHAT3WORDS ?

by Tony Wigmore

hen we took on ‘The DSM’ we knew that there was going to be a great deal to learn in a relatively short time. The element that perhaps worried me most was the distribution. Five thousand magazines (over 700kgs in weight) to be delivered in three days to over one hundred locations across, and beyond, the Deux-Sèvres. Previous owners Anna and Steve, who obviously knew the route inside-out, created some detailed notes for us and were kindenough to join us to deliver the August edition. The problem remained though, how were we going to EXACTLY recreate the three or four days of deliveries for the September issue?

As we dropped each set of the August issue magazines, I recorded the three words associated with that drop point. Once home, after a little bit of trial and error and some ‘creative’ spreadsheet work, I managed to update our list of drop sites with the recorded three word locations so I can now navigate my way round the route. Simple (relatively) and eminently repeatable.

Of course, there is ‘Sat Nav’, but it is not as easy as one might think to load one with over a hundred locations, in sequence. There must be something simpler …..

There ARE criticisms of the WHAT3WORDS approach voiced on various forums and I confess I find the choice of words sometimes a little odd. Each language obviously needs its own set of words and they do not just translate the words, they select entirely different ones. Numbers are simpler to translate but which do you find easier to remember, ‘master.mascot.drapes’ or the equivalent GPS reference ‘46.650644,-0.35558’?


Imagine a situation where a normal building address may not be enough to exactly identify a location. Whether you are a concert lighting crew trying to find the find the right field, a helicopter pilot trying to find a specific area to land, part of the emergency services trying to find an exact location on a long country road where your services are urgently required or even a middle-aged magazine distributor with disturbingly little knowledge of the exact locations to which he must deliver his wares. Enter WHAT3WORDS (also known as ‘W3W’). Coincidentally, you may have seen it advertised on UK television recently. In a nutshell, a few years ago some bright chaps (British I believe) realised that not all locations have ‘an address’ so they divided the world up into a (very) large number (57 x 10¹²) of 3m x 3m squares and created an algorithm that gives each square a unique set of three words. These unique sets of words can then be translated into a GPS reference to allow them to be used for navigation. For example, the car park next to the Mairie in Saint-Aubin-LeCloud can be found at ‘master.mascot.drapes’. My faith in technology is generally high with a smattering of Murphy’s Law (‘anything that can go wrong will go wrong’) added in. If we were going to use W3W we only had one chance to record all the stops so it had better be right.

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

A month later, this time on our own, we set off with the W3W app installed on our phones and a list of the stops in three word form. If you have read a printed copy of the September issue you will already know that it worked. We had only one minor hiccup and that turned out to be me missing an ‘s’ off the end of a word (the missing ‘s’ meant that the location I sought appeared to be on the north island of New Zealand so we had a fair idea that it was wrong).

Also in its favour is the fact that it will give you your three word reference, on your smartphone, even when you have no data signal. To find where you are, you just need to be able to see the sky (for the satellite). You can then use its in-built compass mode or an offline map application (there are several available) to navigate. All in all, this use of relatively new technology delivered what it promised and allowed us to carry out our deliveries. The next step, which if time allows we’ll do for the delivery of this October issue, is to plug in the 100+ W3W addresses to a routefinder package to optimise the three-to-four days of delivering.

If you are interested in finding out more about W3W go to

For clarity, neither the magazine nor the author has any connection with what3words.

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38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

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All Domestic repairs and installations Free quotes with home visit Based in Exoudun (Deux-Sèvres) Search on Facebook or call 07 87 26 32 54 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 39

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

Advertising in The Deux-Sèvres Monthly is not as expensive as you might think. Up to 15,000 potential customers see the magazine every month. A colour advert this size costs as little as 40â‚Ź per month*. Why not find out more by dropping us a line at ... *This price is based on a 12 issue, colour, size B advert (same size as this advert) paid annually in advance. Other options are available and a range of discounts are also available for multiple month adverts.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 41



his is Allianz most flexible and popular Assurance Vie saving account/investment product. It is an Assurance vie so it has all the same advantages regarding French inheritance law, death duties and income tax.

1. Who can invest in it: Anybody who is a French resident (and Monaco) and below 85 years old. 2. How much can you invest in it: The minimum is 30 000€, no maximum. 3. How is it invested: It has to be at least 30% on shares/funds. The secure part is called Fond Euro and the interest of the secured part is given on the 31st of December each year. The rate on the secure part is around 1% and pretty much the same for all companies. Shares/Funds can go up or down! You can decide how much you want on shares, so it could be all of it if you wish (but minimum 30%). 4. Accidental death extra: This contract includes an insurance so that if you die in an accident before you are 85 years old, Allianz gives to your beneficiaries half the amount of the value of your contract on top of the value of your contract (maximum 1 million euro). This is automatically included in the contract and it is free. e.g.: You have 100 000€ on your account, then die of an accident, then Allianz will give 150 000€ to the beneficiaries named on your contract. 5. Options available:

by Isabelle Want

6. Fees: a) Entry fees: The entry fee is normally 4.5% of the amount invested but I am very nice, so I negotiate. Between 30 and 50K, the entry fee is 0.50%, between 50K and 100K it is 0.25% and above 100K, I do not take any entry fees, so it is 0%. There is however a 12€ administration fee (whatever the amount invested). b) Management fees: 0.93% of the investment per year. c) Option fees: -0.20% per year for the Gestion profile option (0.20% of the shares amount) -0.50% of the amount transferred for the option dynamisation progressive du capital -0.85% of the value of the shares/fund for switching shares/ funds (maximum 500€). Note that you are entitled to one free per year, so the fee is only taken if you have done one already. -Between 0.071% (age 41) and 3.406% (age 85) quarterly maximum for the option of the capital guarantie in case of death. The percentage is taken on the amount of the loss and depends on the age of the subscriber. This fee is only taken if the capital is at loss -Disability option: 0.018% quarterly of the value of your investment.

a) Securisation des performances: This is a very good option that means that when your shares/funds go up by 5% (you can choose between 5% and 15%), the 5% gain is automatically transferred to the secure part of your Assurance vie. The gain has to be at least 100€ (5% gain on a share might represent less if your share is only worth 500€!). This is very good and some of my customers have appreciated this option when the market crashed back in March 2020 (Covid). Indeed, the gain they made the previous year had been transferred to the secure part of the Assurance vie so the loss was less.

7. Adding money to it: You can add money to it at any time but a minimum of 450€.

This option is free, so no fees.

10. Availability: The present amount on your assurance vie is always available and you can even make the withdrawal yourself from your Allianz customer account. The money is never blocked. There are no penalties for taking your money out, but tax may apply if you have made a capital gain.

b) Dynamisation progressive du capital: Some of you might not be too keen to invest all your eggs at once in case you are investing it all just before a crash (so at its highest) so Allianz has come up with an option in which your capital is invested over a period of your choice: 6, 12 or 24 Months. So that you are investing at different stages of the stock market value. This option is also available when you make another deposit, not just when you open the investment. c) Arbitrage: This is the French word for switching from one fund to another. With Allianz you are entitled to one free per year but can do as many as you want. So, if you are not happy with a fund, you can switch at any time you want. d) Gestion profile: If you are not willing to trust me or yourself to choose your funds, you can let Allianz manage it for you. You can choose between 7 types of investment between very low risk to high risk. 2 of those investments are fully ISR (investment socially responsible). Allianz readjust the investments 4 times per year following their own expert advisers, so you have nothing to do. e) Securisation du capital: You can choose to make sure that your beneficiaries will get at least the amount you have invested to start with, so 100% or 120% of what you have invested. So, if the market crashes, you are sure that your heir will get at least what you wanted them to have, or more! You invested 100K but lost 10K, you die, then your beneficiaries still get 100K and not 90K. f) Invalidity insurance option: You can opt for an insurance that gives you the same amount of the value of your investment in case you are disabled following an accident before the age of 62 years old. You must be at least 66% disabled.

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

8. Regular withdrawal: You can set up Monthly, quarterly, twice a year or once a year automatic withdrawal which go directly to your bank account. This is free. 9. Regular deposit: You can choose to do regular deposits (Monthly, quarterly, twice a year or once a year) so the amount you choose to add to your assurance vie is taken automatically from your bank account.

Conclusion: The advantages of the Assurance vie savings account are well known and it is no secret that it is the preferred investment for French people not only because of its advantages but also for its flexibility. But even if Assurance vie investments offer the same envelope with every company (same advantages in regard to French inheritance law and tax and income tax), it is important to notice the little differences and therefore shop around before making a decision. They can be different from one company to another and not just the entry or management fees! Also, Allianz has a solvability ratio that is one of the best on the market at 174% for Allianz France and 200% for Allianz Group so do not hesitate to contact me for any further information regarding our very large range of investments. And remember to check out our web site fr/en for all my previous articles (“practical information”) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: “Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt” Don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subjects such as Funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc… No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

Contact Isabelle Want: Tel: 05 45 31 01 61 Mob: 06 17 30 39 11

Email: Visit our website:

Ask Amanda

by Amanda Johnson

Hi Amanda. If I should die, can you explain how much I can leave to my children and grandchildren and the taxes applicable please?? In France, inheritance tax applies to money you leave to a loved one and tax depends on both your relationship to them and the amount. The basic rules are: -You can leave any amount to your spouse as there is no inheritance tax liability between husband and wife. If, however, you want to leave your estate to your children, they can inherit €100,000 from each parent before paying inheritance tax. -Grandchildren have a much smaller allowance of only €1,594 and anything above this amount is subject to tax. -Stepchildren and step-grandchildren, also have the smaller allowance of €1,594, however, they incur an additional 60% tax on anything over this amount. One of the things you can do to increase the amount you can leave to your children and grandchildren before they are liable for tax, is to use an Assurance Vie wrapper for your savings. If you are under the age of 70 when you take out an Assurance Vie you can leave €152,500 to each beneficiary. If you are over the age of 70 this amount reduces to a total of €30,500, however, the tax rate that is applied over this amount is only 20% so it is still beneficial and of course you will have the other benefits of using this wrapper for your savings whilst you are still fit and well. Inheritance tax planning Is one of the key roles of a financial adviser, so please get in touch if you would like a review. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports, or recommendations we provide. Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail: The Spectrum IFA Group is fully regulated to offer financial advice in France and we do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46

Wi t h C a r e , Yo u P r o s p e r

Looking for an English speaking business in France? Find one on

TSG Insurance Ser vices S.A.R.L. • Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 Paris • R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) « Société de Cour tage d’assurances » « Intermédiaire en opération de Banque et Ser vices de Paiement » Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 – « Conseiller en investissements financiers », référencé sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 43

Are you BREXIT ready?


ith the Brexit transition period ending on 31st December, now is the time to review your situation and financial planning and take action where necessary.

Residence The French government website for Britons to apply for residency cards opens on 1st October. Every UK national residing in France or coming to settle here before 31st December 2020 must apply for this new residence permit. While the deadline is June 2021, apply well in advance to ensure your application is processed in time. Under the Withdrawal Agreement, UK nationals lawfully settled in France before 2021 can lock in a lifetime of citizens’ rights, such as healthcare, social security and employment, for as long as you remain resident. Those arriving after 2020 will be subject to new requirements. While yet to be defined, these may be more stringent than today, such as minimum income requirements. Tax planning When taking up residence in France you become liable for French taxation on your worldwide income, property wealth and estate, so prepare for this and investigate tax planning opportunities. Generally, the taxes you pay in France should not change post-Brexit as double tax treaties are independent of the EU. However, once UK life assurance policies become non-EU/EEA assets, they may no longer qualify for the full beneficial tax treatment given to assurancevie and EU capital redemption bonds.

by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks

Pensions If you are considering transferring UK pensions into a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS), note that while currently you can transfer to EU/EEA-based QROPS tax-free, this could change in future. The UK has already brought in a 25% ‘overseas transfer charge’ for other transfers and could extend this to EU/EEA transfers after Brexit. Take regulated advice to confirm if a QROPS is the best move for you, or if another option is more beneficial for your circumstances. Investments Review your investment portfolio to ensure it’s suitable for your life in France, and that you have suitable diversification and are not overweight in UK assets. Consider the best currency mix for you as a UK national living in Euroland. If you use a UK-based adviser find out if they can provide regulated advice to EU residents post-Brexit. Take advice now from a cross-border professional experienced at helping UK nationals settle in France and make the most of the opportunities. If you cannot move to France this year, don’t worry, France will still welcome British expatriates. But the processes may be more complicated and specialist advice even more invaluable. This article is general in nature and not specific to your circumstances; it should not be construed as providing any personalised advice. Summarised information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. The tax rates, scope and reliefs 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

Limited time left to prepare for Brexit. Talk to us now! Given the present environment we are not running seminars this autumn, but with the Brexit transition period coming to an end, it is really important for people to make the right decisions at the right time – and good advice has arguably never been more needed. We are therefore offering consultations (face-to-face meetings with social distancing, or via video or phone) as well as planning webinars and video links this autumn.

If you would like to make an appointment or register an interest, PLEASE EMAIL OR CALL US.

05 49 75 07 24


I N T E R N AT I O N A L T A X A DV I C E • I N V E S T M E N T S • E S T AT E P L A N N I N G • P E N S I O N S Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFFM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided outside the UK, via the Insurance Distribution Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. 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 office: 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 Tax Limited provides taxation advice; its advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFFM.

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020



with us

Beau x Villa ges V E 08 0 NDU 5 69 IMM





23 2






Beaux Villages IMMOBILIER

We’re better together! Contact:

08 05 69 23 23

Ref : VAS1354 Vienne / Deux Sèvres Borders

250 000€

Super character property, 3 bathrooms plus handicap adapted bungalow. 1ha 250 000€ Net price 236 967€ Agents fees 5.5%

VSA1407 Vernoux en Gatine

232 100€

Beautifully renovated house on edge of village with spacious Gîte. 2200m² 232 100€ Net price 220 000€ Agents fees 5.5%


OF THE MONTH The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 45



here is, it must be said, something about living in a manor house. With gracious spaces and many windows sunlight will always be captured somewhere during the day. To my mind, sunlight makes you feel good and guarantees a better quality of life. And the beauty and space manor houses offer in the Deux-Sèvres at eminently affordable prices cannot be beaten! Our first property on offer is a 15th century Logis oozing with character and charm and no close neighbours. Close to Melle in Celles sur Belle (94708ABO79) – the name of the village alone is enough to make your heart quicken. Set on the edge of a peaceful hamlet, with views which go on forever, is this wonderful historical two bedroom manor. Almost a château with its tower, enormous living rooms and original fireplaces, a spiral stone staircase leads up to two large bedrooms and on to the attic which could become more – the stuff of fairytales. There’s a three bedroom villa and two bedroomed gîte, numerous outbuildings and two original ovens – one for bread the other, naturally, for patisserie. Set in almost 7 hectares of wooded grounds with a pretty courtyard it oozes the potential for an enviable lifestyle with income - on the market for €445,200! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at

Moving to just outside Niort is this beautiful, very well maintained, 18th century manor (114155) again with outbuildings. This time sitting in 2.5 hectares of land including a fabulous garden with space for a paddock - there’s a stable here already! Lovely panelled rooms welcome you, there’s a super kitchen and elegant living space on the ground floor, up the stunning staircase to three large bedrooms on the first floor with four more on the second! Outside are a variety of outbuildings including a greenhouse, bread oven, summer kitchen and the list goes on – centrally heated and double glazed it’s priced at €339,200. Set in the glorious Gâtine countryside, just outside St Paul en Gâtine, is our last Manor (106838) – a very pretty 6 bedroom country house. Set in a valley surrounded by over 5 hectares of beautifully planted mature parkland, you’ll be seduced from the moment you enter the hallway with its wonderful timber staircase. Set over three floors (there’s also a large cellar and attic) are generous living spaces, 6 bedrooms and everything you might possibly need as Lord or Lady of the Manor to create a very comfortable life. There’s an old coach house, currently used as an office, which could easily be returned to a three bedroom small house. Then there’s the orangery – wonderful to over winter your citrus and tender plants, an in-ground swimming pool and stables with 4 boxes – what more do you need? €667,800!



€267,500 HAI

Ref. 115529 - 4 bedroom property with a 2 bedroom gîte and pool, set in 3000m² of land. DPE N/A - agency fees to be paid by the seller


€136,250 HAI

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST Buying or selling a property? Contact us now!


€224,700 HAI


€152,600 HAI


€333,900 HAI

Ref. 115640 - Renovated 3 bedroom house with 2 gîtes and B&B suite, with garden and outbuildings. DPE C - agency fees included: 6% TTC to be paid by the buyer


€59,600 HAI

Ref. 115391 - Beautifully maintained 3 bedroom

Ref. 115513 - Beautifully renovated longère with

Ref. 115458 - Renovated 2 bedroom property

Ref. 114741 - Stone house with attached barn to

detached village property with in-ground pool.

gîte, lush garden and useful outbuildings.

with beautiful garden, land and carport.

renovate, near to popular villages.

DPE Ongoing - agency fees included: 9% TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE Ongoing - agency fees included: 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE Ongoing - agency fees to be paid by the seller

DPE N/A - agency fees to be paid by the seller

+33 (0)5 53 56 88 48 - -


I love meeting clients and understanding their needs


We’re recruiting property sales agents - if you want the freedom to grow a successful business supported by an award-winning team, contact our recruitment department 00 800 2534 4388 -

Tamasin Wagstaffe, sales agent Deux-Sèvres

46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020

Apple and Cinnamon Cake METHOD • Preheat the oven to 190°c/175° fan/ gas 5 • Using the extra butter, grease and line a15-17cm loose bottom cake tin • Cream together the sugar and butter in a bowl until light and fluffy. • Add the flour and cinnamon combine until it forms a gooey mixture • Add one egg at a time, stirring them into the mixture. It should be slightly runny but still have a slight stiffness. • Add the peeled and chopped apple to the mix and stir together.

INGREDIENTS 200g caster sugar 200g butter (plus a little extra for greasing the cake tin) 200g self-raising flour

• Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and place in the oven for 30- 40 minutes until golden brown. • Once cooked leave to cool slightly before removing from cake tin. Then place onto a wire rack and leave to cool. Serve slightly warm for a better taste.

2 eggs 6 apples peeled, cored and chopped 3 tsp cinnamon

For extra luxury, while the cake is still warm pour some caramel sauce or a small glass of Calvados or brandy over the top. Use a skewer make a few holes on the top of the cake to allow the alcohol to penetrate the cake.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, October 2020 | 47