The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine April 2019 Issue

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Annual Subscription Costs: 34€ within France, 29€ UK addresses. (Unfortunately the cheaper ‘printed papers’ rate cannot be applied to addresses within France, only when sending abroad) Full Name:.................................................................................................. Postal Address:........................................................................................... ................................................................................................................... Postcode:..................................... Country:............................................. Tel:.............................................................................................................. Email:.......................................................................................................... Please make cheques payable to ANNA SHAW.

Welcome! to Issue 96 of

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

Spring! Ahh! A time of renewal, rebirth, out with the old in with the new...a time when we get a rush of blood to the head and start cleaning projects, which at any other time of the year would be dismissed out of hand. I recently returned to the UK on what is becoming an annual pilgrimage to participate in the mother of all spring cleans. My father lives just off the M25, junction 17 (Maple Cross), you may have heard it mentioned on numerous traffic reports. It has been our family home for forty years and in that time my mother and father never threw anything out. The house is full of ‘stuff’. Since the death of my mum two years ago, dad has been thinking about downsizing and so we have family get togethers not where we sit down, eat and drink too much, no, we order a skip and have a mass clearance of a selected room or rooms in his house. Last year it was the attic (two skips), this year it was the cellar, garage and kitchen (one skip). We found jars at the back of some of his cupboards containing substances unknown to man, solidified packets of sugar you could kill someone with. A carousel of family members process backwards and forwards with armfuls of stuff, as the grandchildren dance around the bonfire, where anything that will burn is lobbed on. Far from being a chore it becomes a team building exercise, which not only brings us together, helps out my dad, but also unearths objects from our past which bring back happy memories. In the evening we collapse in a heap, shake the mice droppings from our hair and feel smug at a job well done. If you are embarking on any spring cleaning projects this month, bon courage! If you are looking for something to do there’s plenty going on in our April issue.

à la prochaine Stephen & Anna

Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:

Contents What’s On Getting Out & About A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Clubs & Associations Hobbies Take a Break Home & Garden Where We Live Communications Food & Drink Motoring Health, Beauty & Fitness Our Furry Friends Building & Renovation Business & Finance Property

This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo ACE Language Services (Classes and Translation) Adrian Butterfield(Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) All Seasons Cleaning Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) Andy Quick (Roofing & Renovation)

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ARB French Property Arbres et Abeilles(Plant Nursery) Argo carpentry Ark 79 (Animal Charity Association) Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Beaux Villages Immobilier BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management Building & Renovation Services Café Pause! (Spring Fete) Café Rendez-Vous (Bar and Restaurant) Car For Sale (BMW 4X4) Champs de Jaune(Gîte marketing and Promotion) Château du Pont Jarno (Garden Nursery) Chat-eau (Luxurious Country Cattery) Cherry Picker Hire Chez Lou (Upholstery and Furniture) Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) CJ Electricité Clean Sweep Chimney Services Darren Lawrence Discover Yoga Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Hallmark Electricité Helen Booth (deVere Group) Hiley Location (Groundworks) HMJ Maintenance and Renovation Service Inter Décor (Tiles and Bathrooms) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic John Spray Maconnerie (Mason) Jon the Carpetman Keith Banks Pool Services La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Lac (Restaurant and Bar) Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) Mike Glover (Plasterer, Tiler, Renderer) ML Computers Motor Parts Charente Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Naturalispools Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Pinnacle Garden Care Plombier 85 (Plumbing, heating, sanitation) Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) Restaurant des Canards RJ Coulson Building Services RJ Coulson Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Re-upholstery) Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Satellite TV Segora International Writing Competition 2019 Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) Simon the Tiler Simply Pools (Fibreglass Pools) Smart Moves - Removal company Smart Services (Home and Garden Services) Steve Coupland (Property Services) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Steve Shaw Cartoonist Strictly Roofing Stump Grinding Services (David Cropper) Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Funny Farm Cat Rescue The Hope Association The Lush Lawn Company Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services

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© Anna and Stephen Shaw 2019. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anna and Stephen Shaw 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 the 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 Anna and Stephen Shaw 2

Jaunasse, Louin, 79600 Tél: 05 49 64 21 98. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Anna and Stephen Shaw. Crédits photos: Anna and Stephen Shaw, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: avril 2019 - Tirage: 5000 exemplaires. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 3

What’s On... 2-7 - TERRI’ THOUARS BLUES FESTIVAL in Thouars and surrounding areas (FR). Five days during which the blues resonate in the streets of Thouars and the surrounding areas. Full program of the festival on Poster on page 6. 4 - WORKSHOP ON MAKING COSMETICS NATURALLY in Argentonnay (FR). Hosted by the Association ‘On Loge à Pied’, a young non-profit association which aims to promote a simple and sustainable way of life. 6pm-7pm. Registration essential (contact@ 5€. More info. at: 5-8 - TRADE FAIR & CARNIVAL FEATURING THAILAND in Bressuire (FR). This year’s Bressuire Trade Fair is also a spotlight on Thailand. Two hundred exhibitors over four days. Butchery animal show 5-7 April, cattle contest on 5 April. 6 - CHATS DE CHÂTILLON CAT REFUGE at Mr.Bricolage (Parthenay) all day. 6 - WILD PLANT RECOGNITION WALK in Argentonnay (FR). Monthly walk to discover wild plants (1st Saturday of the month) 10am-11am, 5€ on registration tel: 09 51 75 99 98. 6 - LIVE MUSIC WITH ROBBIE ROBZ at Café Rendez-Vous, see page 31. 6-7 – FÊTE DU CHOCOLAT in Réaumur (85700). Includes gourmet market, folk groups, cocktail and chocolate bar. Saturday 2pm11pm and Sunday 9am-7pm. Poster on page 6. 6-21 - L’ART ACCROCH EXHIBITION in Saint-Marc-la-Lande. Wednesdays to Sundays from 2pm-6pm. For further information see page 13 or go to 7 - TRADITIONAL BRITISH SPRING FÊTE in L’Absie at Café Pause! 11am-5pm. For more info. see page 6. 7 - OPEN GARDENS/JARDINS OUVERTS ‘Les Frenes’, Le Busseau, 79240 Deux-Sèvres, 2pm-6pm. More information on page 10. 12 - LIVE MUSIC WITH CASONADE at Restaurant des Canards. See page 31 for more info. 13 - FARMERS’ MARKET AND EASTER EGG HUNT in Faye-sur-Ardin. Free entry, 4€ for Easter egg hunt at 2pm. 14 - VIDE JARDIN - plant swaps, sales of cuttings, and seeds available.

Aizenay 85190.

14 - BROCANTE in the château grounds in Chiré-en-Montreuil (86190) (FR). The 16th Brocante in the grounds of the château. Catering, bread baked in a wood oven and workshop forge, in the courtyard of the château. Free entry. Poster on page 7. 16 - CHATS DE CHÂTILLON CAT REFUGE stall all day at ARK 79, 8 rue d’Aunis, 79120 Tel: 06 85 93 55 94. 20 - REPAIR CAFÉ in Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon (FR). Come and have your broken items repaired (including workshop for bike repairs). Every 3rd Saturday of the month 2.30pm-5pm at Centre Socio-Culturel du pays Mauzéen, 6 rue de la Distillerie, 79210 Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon. 20 - FÊTE DES PLANTES, La Roche-sur-Yon at L’Asphodele 10am - 7pm 20-22 - INTERNATIONAL KITE AND WIND FESTIVAL in ChâtelaillonPlage. An event for all the family. Full programme at:

Volant-et-du-Vent 22 - FÊTE DES PLANTES, Pamproux 79. 25 - ‘MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS’ FILM IN ENGLISH in the Salle Belle Epine, La Châtaigneraie starting at 8pm. 27 - ALL SAINTS VENDÉE COFFEE MORNING in Thiré. Stalls, videgrenier, plants, books, cakes and much more. 10am-12.30pm. More info. on page 7. 27-28 OPEN GARDENS/JARDINS OUVERTS Bouguenais 44340, area in Nantes. More info. on page 10. 27-28 - FÊTE DES PLANTES, Vienne 86. 27-28 - PLANT SALE at Château du Pont Jarno in ChampdeniersSaint-Denis. 10am-6pm. For more info: or see page 23. *(FR) = French language

REGULAR EVENTS... EVERY MON & WED 2PM-6PM Duplicate Bridge at Civray. Lessons available free. Contact Marian Green: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: EVERY TUES AT 5PM Belote at Café des Sports, L’Absie. EVERY WEDs AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book Afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. EVERY WEDS - Franglais Bressuire 8-10pm in term time at the Centre Socio-culturelle. EVERY THURS AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs. EVERY THURS FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€. In aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY THURS - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie. For times contact Jean on tel: 06 52 93 33 60. EVERY THURS - Franglais group in Montournais. Contact Penny Homewood 02 51 63 31 21 or EVERY FRI AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact John for details tel: 05 49 63 23 50. EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Painting Workshops. Please see

EVERY SUN 2PM-5PM - Chats de Châtillon Adoption/Visiting afternoon. tel: 06 85 63 55 94

EVERY OTHER THURS AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 2nd Tues of Month AT 8PM - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne. 3RD WEDS of month AT 7.30PM - Team Quiz. At Le Clemenceau Bar, Mouilleron-en-Pareds, in aid of animal charities. 3RD WEDS OF MONTH AT 3PM Franglais Group at Café Pause!, L’Absie. Last FRI of month - Books, CDs, DVDs etc. sale. Chez Sue and Stuart Marshall, 12 rue du Bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois, in aid of animal charities (2pm-5pm) tel: 02 51 51 00 96.

contact ‘The DSM’ Call Anna Shaw on 05 49 64 21 98 Monday - Thursday: 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm


what’s COMING UP...

2-4 May - Musical Spectacular, Reaction Theatre. See poster on page 7 for more info. and to reserve tickets. 1-2 June - Elephant Haven Information Weekend. See poster on page 7 for more details.

La Vendée Chippy

3rd and 17th - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine (Wed) Wed (not 10th):‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: ‘La Bohème’, 69 route du lac, Mervent 5th and 19th - Genneton: Café de la Mairie (Fri) 12th - St. Martin de Sanzay: Café de la Pompe (Fri) Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, Mouilleron-en-Pareds Sat: Last of month : Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil Sat 13th: ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 Tel: 06 04 14 23 94 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm FROM 6.30pm

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

MR T’S FRITERIE Regular venues at: • • • • •

Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) Ballans 17160 La Chapelle 16140 St Jean d’Angély 17400 Les Essards-Saintes 17250

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm

...april 2019 LOCAL MARKETS



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

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2019 21st April 22nd April 1st May 8th May 26th May 30th May 9th June 10th June 16th June 21st June 14th July 15th August 1st November 11th November 25th December

Easter Sunday (Pâques) Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Victory in Europe Day (Fête de la Victoire) Mother’s Day (Fête des Mères) Ascension Day (Ascension) Pentecost (Pentecôte) Pentecost (Lundi de Pentecôte) Father’s Day (Fête des Pères) World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) Assumption of Mary (Assomption) All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël)

The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, holds English speaking monthly services. • • •

1st Sunday at 10.30am: Parish church at St. Leger de la Martinière, Melle. Followed by tea and coffee. 2nd Sunday at 11am: the home of Ann White, Jassay 4th Sunday at 11am: the Parish Church at Pompaire 79200 (rue du Baille Ayrault). Followed by tea and coffee, and a ‘bring and share’ lunch.

A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information please take a look at our website or contact us by email: office. Further information from the Chaplaincy Office 05 49 97 04 21 or from John & Barbara Matthews 05 49 75 29 71. The Filling Station ~ Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians of all denominations who meet together regularly for spiritual renewal and evangelism purposes. ALL WELCOME. Please see our bilingual website for details of meetings and summer programmes or contact 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. After each service, tea and coffee are served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a `bring and share’ lunch. For details of all our activities, our Services in the west of the Vendée, copies of recent newsletters and more information, please check our website: The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship welcomes you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. 1st and 3rd Sunday at 11am in St Hilaire de Voust, Vendée and 2nd and 4th Sunday at 11am in two locations: one near Bressuire, DeuxSèvres and the other near Bournezeau, Vendée. Meetings last about an hour and are followed by a time of fellowship & refreshments. Find out more by contacting 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). We welcome and embrace all Christians from all denominations and warmly invite you to join us. Following the service, coffee is served, and for those who wish to stay a little longer, we enjoy a light, bring and share lunch.

(Dates in bold=Public holidays)

TOP HAT QUIZ & CURRY 1st: 4th: 8th: 10th:

Limalonges Chef Boutonne Theil Rabier Aigre

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm


Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking

Mon: Bar Tilleuls, Champniers Tues: Sauzé-Vaussais (main square) Weds: Chef Boutonne (near château) Thurs: Sauzé-Vaussais - Eve (main square) Fri: Mansle (car park of Simply Supermarket)

Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

OPEN mornings

Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 5

Getting Out & About Make some Bunny Hoppy this Easter! On the Hunt for Eggs ( Chocolate or Calorie-Free ! ) and a Cracking Card?

Chez Christie’s BEAUTIFUL GIFTS & CARDS ‘Pâqued’ to the Rafters! DELICIOUS HOME-BAKING

Cream Teas, Chocolate Brownies, Easter Cupcakes, Rich Fruit Cake …


ENGLISH BOOKS from only 0,50 € INTERNET ACCESS + FREE WIFI GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

Siret: 47876969800018

Segora International Writing Competitions 2019 Deadline June 15th 2019


by Jocelyn Simms

e have an exciting line-up of judges including Roisin McAuley, Irish novelist and broadcaster who attended two of the Bilingual Litfests held in Deux-Sèvres. We believe our competition is unique in offering four different categories for writers: poetry, story, vignette, and one-act play. Last year Mario Petrucci gave an exceptional workshop and this year Gordon and Jocelyn Simms are planning further surprises for the presentation day to be held in September. Full details on where you can read last year’s winning entries. Ten percent of entry fees are donated to Médecines Sans Frontières.

Have you LIKED us on Facebook?

We post regular updates, things to do and promote special offers on our page, so why not pop over and say “Hello”! 6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019


EHEES INFORMATION WEEKEND There are no elephants yet 1st and 2nd June, 10am-5pm Guided visits: Saturday 1st June 10.30 am (French) & 11.30 am (English) 2.30 pm (French) & 3.30 pm (English) Sunday 2nd June 10.30 am (English) & 11.30 am (French) 2.30 pm (English) & 3.30 pm (French) 5 Rétabout, St Nicolas Courbefy, 87230 BUSSIÈRE GALANT, France For more information email:

by John Blair


Reaction Theatre are presenting an evening of songs from a variety of musicals in an informal cabaret setting. These will include solos, duets and ensemble numbers from mainly six musicals of the last sixty years. South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof, West Side Story, Les Misérables, Guys and Dolls and Joseph. The musical direction is provided by Linda and Aidan Fairlie. Book early, it should be great fun! Venues include L’Ecu in Secondigny and Le Lion d’Or in SaintHilaire-de-Voust.

Saturday 27th April 2019 10.00h - 12.30h 15, rue de la Cure, THIRÉ Free Refreshments, Toys Plants, Books, Vide Grenier, Jewellery, Donations welcome!

MUSICALS SPECTACULAR Finger buffet included / Bar avaliable

Stalls include Cakes, Tombola , raffles ,,,

Everyone welcome! In Aid of All Saints Vendée Anglican Church


Bee swarms collected - bee nest removal undertaken from shutters or under roof tiles. For advice/help or swarm removal phone: 05 49 87 52 37 or email: paul@bees86 or message 86 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 7

View from the Vendée

horses and their riders used to enter right into the heart of the castle!

by Karen Taylor

So hopefully that’s whetted your appetite for discovering more about the history of the Vendée. Enjoy your springtime outings!


Fact file In all, there are eighteen feudal castles, twentyseven renaissance castles, eight 17th century and four 18th century castles and logis in the Vendée. The department has a rich heritage of abbeys, priories and churches, although the various wars of the region have left many in a state of ruin.

fter several quiet months over the winter, tourism in the Vendée begins to wake up, with many attractions opening their gates at the beginning of April. I’ve always been interested in the history of an area, so since moving to the Vendée several years ago, I’ve managed to visit quite a few of the historical sites and monuments in the département. No matter where you are in France, impressive, old châteaux are bound to feature heavily in any historical tour, and the Vendée is no exception; so here are a couple of my favourites to get you started.

We’ve all heard of Richard the Lionheart, but you may not know that when he became Lord of Talmont in 1182, he established his fortress in TalmontSaint-Hilaire, just inland from Les Sables d’Olonne. The Château de Talmont has made good use of this fact in recent years, and although now a ruin, the castle is well worth a visit. Entry costs from 5€ for an adult, and you can hire an audioguide for just 2€. As the castle is in the heart of the old town, you can combine culture with a wander round the shops or a bite to eat in one of several restaurants. Another of my favourite days out is a visit to the town of Apremont, about half an hour west of La Roche-sur-Yon. In April and May, the Château Renaissance d’Apremont is only open in the afternoons, but you can spend an enjoyable morning exploring the picturesque town, and then meander down to the lake with its own beach area. It’s also interesting to walk round the castle grounds to see the archway where

Creature Corner This month’s creature:

The Chicken (Le Poulet)

by Steve Shaw


he chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus), is a domestic subspecies of the red junglefowl. There are more chickens on earth than people, 25 billion, and more chickens than any other bird species. Hundreds of different breeds exist, such as the Dutch Bantam, Leghorn and Rhode Island Red. Female chickens are ‘pullets’ until they’re old enough to lay eggs and become ‘hens’. Behaviour: Chickens are omnivores, they will eat their own raw eggs if they are not satisfied with their diet. They have their own unique language with over 30 different sounds. Mother hens talk to their chicks while they’re still in the eggs, and the chicks can chirp back. In order to attract hens, cockerels will do a dance called ‘tidbitting’ involving moving their head up and down, waddling and making certain sounds. The rooster’s wattle (the dangly bit beneath his beak) helps him to gain a hen’s attention when he is tidbitting. A female chicken will mate with many different males but if she decides, after the deed is done, that she doesn’t want a particular rooster’s offspring, she can eject his sperm.

Here are some other castles that you may like to visit: • Château de Tiffauges, Tiffauges • Château de Terre Neuve, Fontenay-le-Comte • Château de la Chaume, Les Sables-d’Olonne • Le Château de Commequiers, Commequiers • Château de Sigournais, Sigournais

Right: Karen and her daughter at Château Renaissance d’Apremont Left: The Château de Talmont © wikicommons/Cj73

Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

than 300 eggs per year. The record number of eggs laid by a chicken in one day is seven. The record for most egg yolks in one egg is nine. Interesting Facts to drop at a dinner party: • Chickens have three eyelids. • They have prehistoric roots and are the closest living relative of the Tyrannosaurus Rex. • The fear of chickens is called Alektorophobia. • In Gainesville, Florida, you have to eat fried chicken with your bare hands. Eating it by any other method is illegal. • There’s a wild mushroom called a Laetiporus that tastes nearly the same as chicken. It is sometimes called the ‘fried chicken mushroom’. • Chickens display object permanence – an understanding that when an object is hidden, it still exists. Even young children don’t have this ability. • In Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus.

Egg related information: It only takes about 26 hours for a hen to produce an egg, and 21 days for the egg to incubate and hatch. A mother hen turns her eggs about 50 times per day, and can lay more

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019


April Fish and Chocolate Eggs by Sue Burgess


oisson d’Avril (April Fish). Notice anyone laughing at you on 1st April? You probably have a paper fish (un poisson en papier) stuck to your back. As in England, French youngsters and adults too for that matter, like to play practical jokes (des farces) on 1st April. Children cut out paper fish and try to stick them on your back.

Chocolate fish are very popular on the 1st April and friture (small chocolate fish) can be bought in most bakeries and supermarkets. Easter customs are a little different too. It’s not the Easter rabbit (le lapin de Pâques) who brings the Easter eggs (les oeufs au chocolat /les oeufs de Pâques) but the church bells (Les cloches). Tradition says that church bells fly off to Rome on Good Friday (le vendredi saint) to be blessed and drop the chocolates in the garden as they fly back on Easter morning. • • •

Chocolate eggs (les oeufs au chocolat) Chocolate hens (les poules) Rabbits (les lapins).

Good Friday is NOT a bank holiday here. Easter Monday (le lundi de Pâques) is. A great number of French people eat lamb (l’agneau) or kid (le chevreau) on Easter Sunday (le Dimanche de Pâques) accompanied with mojettes (white beans). Almost as important as Easter Sunday in the French Catholic Church calendar is Rameaux (Palm Sunday). The Passion is read before the churchgoers enter the church. Then the priest blesses the rameaux which are usually pieces of buis (a sort of box) with holy water. All this means that Palm Sunday mass is rather a long affair. The rameaux are placed on the crucifix at home or taken to the cemetery and placed on a family tomb. In the north of the Deux-Sèvres, there is a special Easter cake (gateau de Pâques), a sort of soft shortbread pastry stuffed with prunes. And in Poitou-Charentes, le pâté de Pâques. A sort of meat pie with sausage meat and hard boiled eggs.

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: poisson d’avril ............................

equivalent of April Fool

les cloches ................................... church Bells Vendredi saint ............................. Good Friday Dimanche de Pâques................... Easter Sunday la chasse aux oeufs ....................

Easter egg hunt

le cierge pascal ............................ Easter candle la semaine sainte .................... Holy Week joyeuses Pâques ......................... happy Easter

Emergency Numbers:

15 SAMU (Medical Advice) 12 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol 17 Gendarmes (Police) 18 Pompiers (Fire Service)

Val Assist will be available (by appointment) to help you complete your French tax forms - only on the following dates and locations : • L’Absie/Café Pause! (21 rue de La Poste - 79240) on the 17th and 26th April, 3rd and 7th May (no private room on 17th April am, and 7th May am) • Fontenay-le-Comte/Bar Le Lotus (2 rue des Halles 85200) on the 18th and 29th April, 6th May • Vouvant/Café Cour du Miracle (rue du Duc d’Aquitaine 85120) on the 24th April • Mouilleron-en-Pareds (26 rue Clemenceau - 85390) on the 25th April • Mouzeuil-St-Martin / My office (1 rue Basse - 85370) on the 16th am and 23rd April am, 2nd and 15th May. Please contact Val directly to arrange a meeting

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 9

different types flowering from early January until the middle of May. Janet is an avid collector of these spring flowering beauties and she adds more bulbs each year. There are large flowered types with big trumpets and very tiny varieties with almost ‘flat faces’, there are all white ones, pink and white ones, orange and white and the familiar all yellow kinds too.


ell it feels like Spring has now arrived, but still with a chill in the air. The open garden season is nearly upon us. Last year, thanks to gardeners across France opening their gardens in over 30 departments and of course to the visitors, volunteers and sponsors too, a staggering 25,500€ was donated by the OpenGardens/Jardins Ouverts association to French charities. In its five years of operation over 75,000€ has been donated in total. Last year was a time of change and progress for OpenGardens/JardinsOuverts. The association now has a new president with Karen Roper taking over from Mick Moat who has returned to the UK. More information on this will follow soon.

Now more about the gardens: on 7th April 2019, we have Janet and Mike Greenwood’s garden opening in ‘Les Frenes’ Le Busseau, 79240 Deux -Sèvres. Here you will see a large collection of daffodils - there are now around 100

Get A Grip!

There are also many different sorts of hellebores hybridus that Janet has grown from seed. The hellebore collection is slowly expanding to include examples of other more ‘wild’ types of hellebore such as foetidus and sternii too. New this year there will be several varieties of botanical tulip to add further pizzazz to the borders. The garden will be open under the OpenGardens/JardinsOuverts scheme from 2pm to 6pm. Parking is available on site or along the road nearby. Entry is 5€ for a day pass or 10€ for an annual membership that will allow you access to all the other gardens opening under the scheme this year. Meanwhile, on 27th and 28th April in the Loire Atlantique department, we have two new gardens opening under the scheme. Mary Fruneau is also a new coordinator for this area and will be

by Steve Shaw


few years ago when told that one of my colleagues wasn't coming into work that day because their dog had just died, I ashamedly rolled my eyes and thought 'get a grip'. Having just lost our family dog recently, I can now see how the loss of a pet can have such an impact. A friend said he felt more upset when his dog died than when his mother died. But as harsh as that sounded, it is understandable when you consider how a family pet plays such a large part in the day to day life of the family. I didn't realise quite how entwinned my life had become with her until now she is no longer about. For fourteen years (after a visit to the bathroom) the first few tasks of the morning would involve the dog...walk, breakfast, tummy tickle etc. Last thing at night take her outside for one last pee, give her snack for having a pee (she was a Labrador), tuck her in bed and wish her sweet dreams. In the time our children have grown up, become teenagers, done GCSEs, A-Levels, gone to University and left home the dog has been there. We have lived in four different houses, and ping ponged back and forth to France ...the dog has always been with us. Through thick and thin the dog has been a constant, unconditional companion. Then when they aren't there anymore it isn't surprising a hole is left in your life.

opening her acclaimed ‘English Cottage’ style garden in the Bouguenais (44340) area in Nantes. Mary is a seasoned gardener and has been involved with several horticultural associations in and around the Nantes area for many years. She has also arranged with another two local gardeners to open their gardens on the same weekend. It will be worth the journey to see these amazing gardens! • 7th April: ‘Les Frenes’, Le Busseau, 79240 Deux-Sèvres, 2pm-6pm. Owner: Janet Greenwood • 27th and 28th April: Bouguenais 44340, area in Nantes. Owner: Mary Fruneau Please refer to for more information. Photo above: Spring colours in Janet Greenwood’s garden in Le Busseau.

vet. In the end, it was very clear to us and we knew the moment had come. What was difficult was when the appointment had been made knowing that our time left together was limited. It was a beautifully sunny day and we carried her outside and all sat in the sun, making a fuss of her and sharing our thoughts. My daughter was over from the UK visiting so it was a family affair. On returning from the vet the house seemed very empty and we felt fortunate to have each other for support as we remembered moments from the past like when, as a puppy, she chewed through all the electric cabling in the boot of our car on the way to a family holiday to Wales; we wondered why everyone was beeping at us, not aware that our indicators hadn't been working for 150 miles, or the time she dragged my father into the canal. After our son was born my wife said “Never again!”, two years later our daughter came along. We've promised each other we won't get another dog...

I thought I would be okay, Anna (my wife) would be a wreck, but I would be okay. But I find myself getting emotional when I find a dog poo bag in my pocket, or see a space on the rug where she used to sleep. One of the hardest things we thought would be knowing when the tipping point arrived and it would be time to make that call to the 10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019


A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres

by Sue Burgess



by Sue Burgess

aint-Clémentin is a small commune that is part of the Communauté de communes de l’Argentonnais. The two communes of Saint-Clémentin and Voultegon joined together on the 1st January 2013 to become Voulmentin.

The 541 inhabitants of Saint-Clémentin are the Saint-Clémentinais and the Saint-Clémentinaises. The monks of Saint-Florent of Saumur had a priory in SaintClémentin during the 11th century. They also took possession of the parish church which had Romanesque origins. During the Wars of Religion, the Protestants ransacked the church which had a nave, a choir and a chapel leading from the nave. The church had to be rebuilt in the 19th century by the architect Jousset. The new building and the spire were built between 1878 and 1882. Only the 15th and 16th century bell tower porch remains from the original building. The spire is richly decorated with gargoyles. A voir / Must see Notre-Dame des Rosiers or Notre-Dame de Grâce Chapel A few hundred metres from the centre of Saint-Clémentin stands the chapel of Notre-Dame de Grâce or Notre Dame des Rosiers. This building stands on its own in the middle of the fields. It is made up of a 12th century nave and a 15th century choir. The building is a listed historic monument. The statue of the Virgin Mary that people come to worship is very old. It was after the restoration of the chapel in the 15th century and in memory of several favours which had been obtained, that Notre-Dame des Rosiers started to be known as Notre-Dame de Grâce. During the Reign of Terror, the republicans wanted to burn the chapel and had prepared faggots of wood, which they had put inside the chapel and were ready to set light to. But the vault was made of stone as was the altar and so they gave up.

The pilgrimage to Notre-Dame des Rosiers survived the Revolution. On the Tuesday before Easter, the parish of Voultegon processes to the chapel and a candle is lit in front of the statue. People still come from far and near to ask for Virgin Mary’s mercy and forgiveness. Saint-Ouen or Saint-Audoin Chapel At Saint-Clémentin, close to the chapel des Rosiers, is a plain and lowly building whose wall is pierced by two narrow Romanesque windows. The chapel which is dedicated to Saint Ouen, the bishop of Rouen who died in 683, is very old. It is mentioned in the papers dated 1186, in which Pope Urban III confirmed that the abbey of SaintFlorent of Saumur possessed different churches and chapels: ‘Ecclesia S. Clementini cum capellis S. Marie et S. Audoeni’. The cult of Saint Ouen was important in the area; on the 14th September 1583, Henri III created a third fair in Saint-Clémentin to be held on the 24th August which is Saint Audoin’s day. The date of 1736 which can be seen inside the chapel reminds us of the date of the restoration of the chapel. Local legends tell us the following story : A flour-miller from the mill of Pont-d’Arche was on his way home. He was so drunk that he insulted, hit, threw on the ground and mutilated the statue of Saint Ouen. The marks of his vandalism can still be seen on the statue today. God punished the miller on the spot and he became deaf and dumb. Once he was over his drunkeness, he was full of remorse and ready to repent and so he made a vow to reconstruct the old chapel if he was healed. This miracle is supposedly the origin of prayers to Saint Ouen for help with deafness. The deaf person puts his head into a hollow in the side of the altar and lights a candle in honour of Saint Audoin. Sold as national property, the chapel of Saint Ouen was returned to the church of Saint-Clémentin after the Revolution, as was the chapel of les Rosiers. Tradition has it that Saint Ouen, on his way from Anjou to SaintJacques of Compostella, resuscitated a dead man. Saint-Clémentin was on the road that the pilgrims followed from Anjou. Surely the place where the miracle happened is Saint-Clémentin and this is the reason for the building of the chapel of Saint-Ouen? The European LitFest The European LitFest brings together partners in France, Italy, Spain, Ireland and Portugal. The aim of the association is to learn together and promote creative writing, poetry and the use of language as a tool. Through four literary festivals, the participants welcome authors, poets and editors. In summer 2019 two representatives from Saint-Clémentin will participate in the Litfest in Solerno, Italy.

Chapel Notre-Dame des Rosiers - ©

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month... The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 11

Clubs & Associations ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, there are now a number of English-speaking meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the South West of France. Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who share experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership and A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation or institution. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Telephone: Angela: 05 49 87 79 09, Jim: 00 44 79 60 16 83 30 or Janet: 05 46 26 90 85. Email: publicinfo.swfrance@aa-€ or visit for details of English-speaking meetings. THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION LINAZAY, POITOU-CHARENTES BRANCH

Please visit the branch website:

The Jean David Art Group meets every Thursday, at L’Absie (79). Jean’s classes cater for all media and all levels of students - beginners most welcome! For details, please visit or phone Jean on 06 52 93 33 60.


A British style band, who meet each Tuesday at 8pm, at the Salle de la Cendille, Limalonges (just 1km from the N10). All levels welcome. Call Penny on 06 38 78 99 92 or visit our website


If so, join a group of like-minded friendly modellers who meet on a monthly basis to visit member’s layouts and swap information. If you are interested please contact Gerry Riley for more information on 05 49 63 34 01. Royal Air Forces Association Sud-Ouest France Le Perail, 17250 BEURLAY, France Tel: 0033 (0)5 46 95 38 89 Mobile: 0033 (0)6 89 90 55 82 Email: Melleran Chanteurs – Amateur singing group meeting every Monday 6.45pm in Melleran Salle des Fetes. French & English members, singing in many languages. New voices always welcomed, particularly tenor and bass. For more information contact Maggie Geal 05 49 07 11 69

Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres

Aims to improve the lives of people affected by Cancer in the Deux-Sèvres. Please contact the team on 06 40 77 27 35 or visit


Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon 2-6pm in CIVRAY. Lessons available free. Call Marian Green on: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: 12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019


A vibrant group based in Vasles (79340) offering quality theatre productions. New members always welcome. Contact, find us on Facebook or email:

French Lessons for English Speakers

Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall), 4 Place Leopold Bergeon, 79150 Argenton-les-Vallées Classes: beginners or intermediate. Private lessons on demand. Contact: WANT TO PLAY CRIBBAGE? - Whether you are experienced, a novice, or want to learn how to play, everyone is welcome. We are a group of friendly players who meet the last Friday evening of every month in La Chapelle Thireuil. Contact Sally on 05 49 76 15 30

MERIDIEN GREEN ASSOCIATION We are a cross cultural association who aim for closer integration of the inhabitants of St Coutant 79120 and surrounding areas. Free weekly language classes on Monday evenings and Tuesday afternoons. For all our events visit

Alone in France?

We are a group of people living alone who meet on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays at 11am for coffee at the café Pause! in L’Absie. Our lunches are at different venues each month, a warm welcome awaits you. Thank you to everyone who supported our Valentine’s Dinner Dance in Châtillonsur-Thouet on the 13th February. Helen and Jeff kept us well entertained with their delightful singing, and this was followed by the Ukulele band and Scottish dancing. Special thanks to those who worked so hard with all the catering. The evening raised in excess of 600€ to be divided between the two charities CSSG and Chats de Châtillon. You can: • Book for your cat to spend time with us while you’re away. All proceeds go to helping maltreated cats and kittens. • Join our sewing group two afternoons a month making items for resale for our charity. Please visit our website: email us: or tel: 05 49 94 39 77/06 85 63 55 94


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

Gardening Clubs Dept. 16 and its borders by Jenette Graham


here’s a new kid on the block - an online site that connects individuals who love getting their hands dirty to meet up and do some active gardening or activities related to a garden on other member’s plots.

member to actually make some hotels. It’s enthusiasm and active participation like that which embodies what the club, and its members, are all about” she added. In addition, several meets over the winter months included making hedgehog houses, Christmas wreaths and Christmas foliage displays. However, perhaps the most exciting activity the club is preparing for now resulted from a meet for a tour of the L’Isle Nature gardens in Saint-Fraigne, Dept.16 ( last October.

“Being new to the region, I was thrown by a local meet I attended which seemed to think things were achieved indoors - rather than sharing the opportunity to work on someone else’s garden and learn from their knowledge let alone do something gardening related” said founder Lisa Peters. “It seemed there was a gap in the market to develop a means for individuals, or existing gardening clubs, to share their events, host meets, develop their knowledge or share plants. And so started the facebook site ‘Gardening Clubs Dept.16 and its borders’.

Every year, this public garden offers up ten plots for professional garden designers, budding students and gardening clubs in their Ephemeres section which is open to the public from June to October. Interested parties submit a garden design, plant list, reasons as to how it meets various philosophies of L’Isle Nature, and most important, how it relates to the theme for the year.

From its beginning in September 2018, the site now has over 200 members and hosted six meets alone in its first three months and shows no sign of slowing down in 2019. As the club started when autumn was in full swing and winter rapidly approaching, the meets have been diverse. “The first meet was a private garden tour followed by a French horticulturalist presenting on making insect hotels. That was standing room only and such was the interest that a meet was quickly organised by another

“This year the theme is ‘Colour and Scents’” said club administrator Jenette Graham. “We have our fingers crossed that our Arabian design is selected as we have members chomping at the bit to get involved in the propagation of the plants needed as well as the creation of various artistic elements within the garden.” Visit the link to join or learn more about this active group of gardeners:


L’Art Accroch

La Commanderie des Antonins Saint-Marc-la-Lande

by Howard Needs

The association Maison du Patrimoine has a varied programme throughout the year and their activities include art exhibitions, musical concerts (both classical and more modern), courses on various subjects, nature excursions, activities for schools and the management of two nature areas and an orchard in the commanderie grounds. L’Art Accroch is one of the very first activities in the year and is an exhibition of local artists creations (‘local’ covers a large part of the Gâtine). The exhibitors are amateurs, the quality is consistently excellent and one finds sculptures, paintings, photos, handicrafts and creations which do not really fall into any of these categories. This year’s exhibition runs from 6th-21st April, Wednesdays to Sundays from 2pm6pm. For further information:

If you would like to contribute an article on any subject: a group or association you belong to, a hobby, a book review, a recipe, anything about life in France...we would love to hear from you.

by Carol Andrews - Secretary CSDS


s you will have seen from recent posts and updates from our retiring president, June, there have been many changes since our AGM in February. Not only have June and Martin left for personal reasons, but also Helen, our treasurer, has left due to increasing work commitments. This means we have a totally different bureau, president Denise Langford, I am the secretary and Jane Sanders treasurer. I say ‘different’ and not ‘new’ as we are all seasoned members, one in fact being a founder member since our formation a little over 13 years ago, in November 2005. There is, however, no change in our aim to work as a team to help and support those affected by cancer. During this year we will be organising events so that you can get to know us better. These are still in the planning stage but we will of course publicise them when the time comes. We also have a new phone number which anyone can contact us on 06 40 77 27 35, the contact details via the website remain the same All enquiries will of course be treated in strictest confidence, and if you feel you would like to join us please don’t hesitate to get in touch as new members are always welcome. Thank you to all those who have helped and supported us in the past, that has always been much appreciated.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 13

Hobbies Dialogue or Chit-Chat?

by Alison Morton


ialogue is hard work. Many writers say either they hate writing dialogue and try to avoid it as much as humanly possible or they love writing dialogue and fill their entire novel with too many useless exchanges. But writers who understand the function of dialogue know how to use it as a tool to enhance their storytelling. What does dialogue do for your story? • It helps develop your characters and move your plot forward. • Establish the backstory and reveal important plot details. • Dialogue can ratchet up the tension between characters especially in what’s said, and what’s not said. All dialogue should: • Move the story forward. After each conversation, the reader should be one step closer to either the climax or the conclusion of your story. • Reveal relevant information about the character. The right dialogue will give the reader insight into how the character feels, and what motivates him or her to act. • Show the relationship between the characters speaking. If your dialogue doesn’t accomplish all three, it won’t work. Some dos and don’ts Dialogue needs to seem realistic without actually being realistic. • Keep it brief, avoiding chit-chat (weather, dog, health, etc.). • Don’t info dump (‘As you know, Harry…’). Don’t use dialogue to tell the readers things your characters already know. • Give each character a unique way of speaking. • Be consistent in style and tone. • Consider the relationship between the characters speaking. • Create suspense: does one character have the upper hand? Is the other character seething just under the surface? • Minimize identifying tags. If your dialogue is well-written, it should be clear who is speaking, even without the tags. But ‘When it doubt, “said” wins out.’ • Hellos and goodbyes aren’t always necessary. • Avoid speeches and soliloquies – make them conversations. • Don’t attempt patois or dialect. It creates distance between the book and the reader. Use the odd ‘ain’t’ or ‘nuffink’ or foreign language word, but the complexity, context and status of the words should convey the speaker’s level of language. • Dialogue should be enclosed within quotation marks. Each new line of dialogue is indented, and a new paragraph should be started every time a new person is speaking. • It should be broken up with action. People don’t typically stop everything when they talk. They fidget. They keep washing the dishes. They pace. • Don’t use too much dialogue. Your readers don’t need to know everything your characters say, word-for-word. • Don’t try to be too realistic. We say ‘um’ and ‘er’ a lot. We trail off in the middle of sentences. We change subjects without warning. Good dialogue should approximate real speech, not mimic it. How can you improve your dialogue? • Read. Analyse what your favourite authors in your genre do well, and what they don’t. • Listen. Pay attention to what natural speech sounds like and be sure to use those natural rhythms in your writing. • Read your own dialogue out loud, to yourself or to a friend, to test yourself.

Happy dialoguing!

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to John Planner and David Jones for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

BECOMING by Michelle Obama Autobiographies tend to either gloss over or glamorise the ‘difficult bits’. This one by the former First Lady of the USA is different. Open, honest, and ‘inspirational’. The first two thirds of the book describe her upbringing by down-to-earth and supportive parents in modest circumstances in South Chicago; her determination to ‘do well’ despite overt racial prejudice at the time and despite her nagging feeling throughout of ‘not being good enough’. It covers her change of career from successful legal executive to community activist and, of course, her meeting and marriage to Barack. The last third of the book is an account of her part in Barack’s two presidential campaigns, of the nastiness of some American politics and her dislike of politics in general (she explicitly states that she would never run for President herself), and of the pros and cons of successfully rearing two young daughters in the hothouse and security-mad environment of the White House. She loves the Queen and feels a strong vocation to encourage young girls to believe in themselves and to ‘become’ whatever they want to be. Two minor reservations. First, and not her fault, one unavoidably knows the outcome of both presidential elections before reading the book! And, second, she gives little indication of what she and her husband, two talented and still young people, plan to do with the rest of their lives. by John Planner

PANIC ROOM by Robert Goddard Known only as Blake, this young woman has a mysterious background and is currently acting as a house-sitter to an uninhabited mansion high on a Cornish cliff. In the house there is a hidden panic room, steel-lined and closed from within. Blake doesn’t know it’s there, but it is discovered when estate agent, Don Challenor visits to survey the house to put it on the market. The house is owned by Jack Harkness, a shady entrepreneur who has a grand plan for the human race involving his huge pharmaceutical empire. People with dubious motives start asking Blake the sort of questions she can’t, or won’t, answer. Don Challenor and Blake are forced to team up in a bid to solve the mystery. There are numerous twists and turns, but the big question is – will the panic room give up its secrets?

Photo: Alison in conversation with Sue Cook.

Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available on Amazon and in paper format at events. 14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

by David Jones.


Beekeeping Adventures

by Amanda and Kevin Baughen


ello, we’re Amanda and Kevin and together we run ’13 Bees’, a B&B with an added ‘B’, where we offer beekeeping experiences in the medieval town of Confolens. We’re excited to be writing for ‘The DSM’ and want to share with you some of the joys of beekeeping as well as what we can all look out for and do to help sustain the wonderful apis mellifera (European honeybee), for everyone’s benefit. We plan to include hints and tips alongside stories from our experiences, as well as our friends, to show that beekeepers are a humble bunch and that you do definitely need a sense of humour! First of all, two things are true about bees and beekeeping: one is that there is always something to learn, and the second is that bees definitely don’t read the same manuals as we do. It does help to read up on the topic, but we’re no longer surprised if things don’t go exactly as expected. Sometimes you find yourself in front of a hive with a gormless expression on your face as you think ‘They shouldn’t have done that’. Well, they did. The secret is always having a plan B (no pun intended...much). Spring is an exciting time of the year for beekeepers, but the first hive inspection can be nerve-wracking. Hopefully the bees survived the winter months and the queen will be in full lay to increase the numbers of bees in the colony. More bees need more food so foragers will be out collecting nectar and pollen to eat now and store for the growing young. It’s a continuous cycle all designed to boost colony numbers. As a result we have to be ready to manage the bees’ instinct to swarm. Bees reproduce on a species-level by swarming, forming another colony when all is going well, so swarms are essentially a good thing. You’ll always find beekeepers more than willing to catch a swarm as it is a great way to increase the number of hives in an apiary. We try to remember to take everything we need when called to collect a swarm, especially something to close up a box of bees. One of our fellow beekeepers definitely needed his plan B when driving home with a swarm he’d collected, when he noticed that they were covering his car’s rear window – they’d managed to push their way past the temporary bung on the collecting box! Luckily he was still wearing his protective suit, as the bees found their way into his lap! That’s not covered in any of our books…

Introducing Team Madness!


by Kelly Knight

n 2017, a friend of mine, Sarah, turned 40 and wanted to complete a challenge to mark this milestone. Early that year she found a triathlon in France, organised by a UK company and asked on Facebook if anyone was crazy enough to join her! She had a yes from Haley near enough straight away and, as I had been looking for a challenge that would help me to lose weight but hadn’t had the nerve to do anything in France, this concept was perfect for me too. At the time I was playing for Vasles netball club and soon two of the players there, Lauren and Sue, said that they would join in the fun too! Another of Sarah’s friends, Kelly, said yes and along with Sarah’s husband Rob, Team Madness was born along with a private facebook group that became the building blocks of lifetime friendships. I have to say, as a team, our initial prospects weren’t great! We had members who couldn’t swim in crawl, others who had fears of open water, some who had never run before or ridden roads bikes, and members (or was that just me?!) who carried a little extra weight. However, we did have a couple of seasoned runners and together (with the help of Pam and Marie’s swimming expertise) we trained, learnt and stumbled our way through to August 2017 and the Chantilly Triathlon. Unfortunately, due to injuries, we didn’t all make it to the starting line that year, but everyone who started finished and this in itself was an amazing achievement! Looking back, we were still utter novices that grey day in Chantilly - but we loved it. We were inspired, and Team Madness not only continued but grew! Amazingly, we had inspired others! We were joined by people who had followed our progress, team partners and we even acquired some minimembers as our children wanted to get in on the act too. As well as regular running races, we completed more triathlons in 2018, gaining experience and confidence every time. We travelled up to Chantilly once again, with several of us competing for Team Macmillan, raising over £1,500. Our journey is continuing with an even stronger fire in our bellies this year. We will continue our learning curve together and as individuals we are now branching out into our stronger and preferred disciplines. We don’t all do triathlon. Some run, some swim, some bike and some do it all. We are a real mixture of ages, sizes and abilities, and for us it really is just a glorified and healthy hobby, but we do all have one thing in common – MADNESS!

To read our blog and find out more about our beekeeping experiences, please visit our website: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 15

Vultures in France - In the wild (part 2)


ur time at the Gorges du Verdon came to an end, and we set off for the second half of the holiday, heading north-west, to the Baronnies. Here the Internet had given us the name of a village, Rémuzat, as being the vulture centre of the area, with a Maison des Vautours. On the other side of the river was a long scarp edge with cliffs and rocky outcrops where the birds nested and congregated. The tourist descriptions showed an access to the cliffs via a long, sloping plateau where trackways lead to the best lookout points. Walking routes were indicated and we could have walked to our hearts’ content, however, 30 degrees at midday and a rucksack full of camera gear deterred us from engaging in undue exercise. Having learnt from the week on the Verdon that tripods are not easy to use with fast-flying birds, we set off for our first day on the clifftops with only cameras, lenses, water, and some food. After some kilometres driving on narrow roads with many hairpin bends, we reached the car park and prepared to walk up the slope. Our destination was not far, only some 40 minutes, but it seemed a long way in the heat. At the top were observation points but no shelter from the sun, and we finished up hiding behind low box bushes waiting for the birds to appear. We were about three hundred metres above the valley floor, facing slow, forested slopes on the other side and looking down nearly vertically to the valley bottom. When the birds did appear, they were a magnificent sight. They flew in following the scarp edge, sometimes over the edge and sometimes our heads. Then they made a turn out towards the valley and vanished in the distance, only to return minutes later. At other times they were farther out in the valley or high in the sky. And always there were individuals returning from afar or circling and breaking off to leave for places unknown. I had anticipated trouble in finding them in the viewfinder, but it turned out that was not a problem. However, I discovered that modern cameras, with their three automatic mechanisms – autofocus, auto exposure, and jitter reduction – do not react well to the changing conditions of movement, background and illumination, with the result that continuous photography was simply not possible. The camera had to be set up for one set of conditions and thus used until something else was desired. For this part of the trip, we had booked a gîte for a week, in the medieval village of Sainte-Jalle, under the frowning eye of a massive donjon. We had time off from vulture watching and made a couple of trips out, one of which was to Nyons, an attractive bastide town with a large pedestrian area bordering a river with Romanesque bridge, numerous distilleries and oil extraction businesses - even a vinegar producer working with local wine and various natural additives. As we approached the town, we saw parked cars all over the place and thought ‘some market’. Parking was difficult and we drove through until we found a place. We subsequently learnt that this particular weekend was their international jeu de boules competition, and every open space had jeu de boules lanes laid out. We also wanted to see Vaison-la-Romaine again, having been through it many years ago on a bicycle trip through the Provence. Vaison-la-Romaine is, as its name suggests, a Roman town with a Roman bridge over a small gorge and an extensive Roman infrastructure, much of which is visible today as ruins in the town parks.

by Howard Needs

We spent a last day in the Baronnies down in the shade of the valley trying to get shots of the birds landing high up on the cliffs, but from a distance of some 400–500 metres this proved to be a miserable failure. We resolved to return, perhaps in cooler weather, when, although the birds would be less active, we would feel more like walking greater distances. So we packed our baggage and eased the car out of the narrow medieval streets of SainteJalle and headed towards home. We had planned a route for that day taking in four or five of les plus beaux villages de France finishing up in Le Rozier, at the junction of the Tarn and the Jonte, and their gorges. To the east of Le Rozier, Griffon Vultures photographed by Howard in the Baronnies on the Jonte, there is an observation point and another Maison des Vautours. We had been told that it was a spectacular viewpoint, and we certainly found it to be so. Six bird watchers’ telescopes had been made available for visitors. These were oriented towards landing points and, I suppose, nests, and, being solidly mounted and having a high magnification, allowed us to see the birds on their ledges or coming in to land. Again, here I could not get the magnification that I needed from my cameras, despite working with the equivalent of a 600mm lens, but we did see the vultures in their natural environment, and that was very satisfying. This Maison des Vautours is an information centre, extending over three floors of a purpose-built building set discreetly into the hillside. We took nearly two hours working our way through the exhibits and videos and came out with much more appreciation for the people who had organised the return of the vultures in these valleys – and of their running of the organisation that had supported birds over the past 30 years. Later in the day, we drove up the Gorges du Tarn to a place called ‘Point Sublime’ - a lookout point over the Tarn with its twists and turns. The view was impressive as we watched birds wheeling in the sky and every so often one coming in low over the bare, slow slopes of the valley side. We got into the car with regret and returned to our hotel, knowing that the following day we were returning home. We knew from experience that the run home could be done in about six hours, so we decided to have a good look at Conques on the way back. Perched on a ridge and valley side above a small river, Conques is a pedestrian town of small, steep streets and ancient buildings. Tourist orientated admittedly, but retaining the atmosphere of an attractive living town; and with a huge abbey church which is a waypoint for one of the routes to Santiago de Compostela and has a hostel for travellers. All good things come to an end, and late in the afternoon we headed for home and our ‘humdrum’ life in the Deux-Sèvres.

16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

Des ign ing and Ma kin g A Bespoke Fla red Ski rt

Pa r t 1

by Nicola Chadwick


ave you ever wanted to make something that fits you perfectly? Here is your chance to learn how to create the pattern for this versatile 8 panel skirt. It is as simple as making 1 panel and cutting it out 8 times in fabric! In part 2 of this project, next month, I will cover the skills you need to sew the skirt.

on the handy chart below, Step 1 - Fill in your measurements can also visit my blog for a more comprehensive guide youfor a PDF download of all .com tive crea page at www.modelisteple I have inserted the these steps and the chart. For this exam for you to follow, PINK in 12 size a for ts men average measure measurements own your e titut subs you will of course have to for the pink ones!

Measure your waist and add some want a fitted skirt add approximately extra for movement, if you you can add a little more. If you use 2cm extra. For a looser skirt required, above your actual body meaa knitted fabric, no extra is surement. Now divide this total by 8 as illustrated above. Do the same for your top hip, this lies and the same for your hip which lies at 10cm below your waist line. Decide on the skirt length you at 21cm below your waist the measurements we need for you would like - we now have all to make your pattern! sheet of paper, the line Step 2 - draw a vertical line on a large length you have chosen. skirt needs to be slightly longer than the al line to represent the At the top of the line draw a horizont e the measurement you plac can you waist - each side of this line my example placed equally calculated for your waist (4.6cm for res below the waist level met centi Ten re). each side of the cent for the full hip. You can do the same for the top hip and alsohit the line extended out square down from the hip until you make the skirt long for an for the length of skirt desired. You can for a flouncy summer skirt! elegant evening version, or shorter

ide where you would Step 3 - Now to add some flare! Dec as high up as the hip be can This . like the flare to ‘flare’ from at this level to mark the if you want. Place a horizontal line panel and to the side of the of re flare line. Cut up the cent as illustrated below. You the flare line and open up the pieces you like, as long as they as little as or can open them as much are opened equally each side. Step 4 - place the pieces on a new sheet of paper and trace the shape you have created. The waist can be shaped gently by extending the waist line up by 0.5cm each side and gently curving at the centre.

Step 5 – all you need to do now is add some seam allowance and your main pattern piece is complete!

Step 6 - the waist can be finished in a numb simplest way is to cut an exact copy of the top er of ways, the of the skirt at a depth of 6cm from the waist line, this will be your facing panel and you will also cut this 8 times in fabric. You have your pattern - in next months article I will show you how to sew this lovely skirt.


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 17

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

Across: 1. Play around with, alter or falsify (6) 4. Take to be the case or to be true (6) 8. A long pointed weapon (5) 9. Amounts paid for goods and services that may be currently tax deductible (7) 10. A dish to eat food from (5) 11. A pipe through which electric wires can pass (7) 12. Unbelieving (9) 15. Put out or expel from a place (7) 16. The territory occupied by a nation (5) 17. An athlete who performs acts requiring skill, agility and coordination (7) 18. French hat (5) 19. The capital of Greece (6) 20. Return to a previous place or condition (6)

Down: 2. A small bottle that contains a drug (6) 3. A prank or trick played on a person (9-4) 5. Loyalty in the face of trouble and difficulty (13) 6. Art consisting of a design made from small pieces of coloured glass or stone (6) 7. An agreement to cease hostilities (5-6) 13. A guided missile developed by the French for use against ships (6) 14. A steady flow of fluid (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

Brain Gym Q1: Q2: Q3: Q4:

A king, queen and two twins all lie in a large room, yet nobody is in the room. How? If you have a bee in your hand, what do you have in your eye? A girl goes to her mother’s funeral and meets the man of her dreams but she doesn’t get his name or number. Nobody knows who the man is. Three days later the girl kills her own sister. Why? A woman is sitting in her hotel room when there is a knock at the door. She opens the door to find a man who she has never seen before. The man said “oh I’m sorry, I thought this was my room.” The woman went back into her room and phoned security. Why?

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

5: Q Q6: Q7: Q8:

Down 1. Kind of furniture one longs for? (4) 2. Going about dead-heading in gardening? (7) 3. Bring me a pack to get organised; it’s time to move on. (8, 4) 4. Could have been an ejector seat for royal, according to hearsay? (6) 6. Spanish friend getting order to set off with friend in Paris. (5) 7. In enigmatic foul play, came first, or not? (3) 8. He just plays his part, or alternatively, is Tom in a cave? (4, 2, 1, 5) 12. Reportedly writer of nonsense getting a sly look. (4) 13. Old soldier has love for the right of opposition. (4) 16. Almost all of Antipodean force going after good French source of wealth? (7) 17. Tennis player getting a set in South Sea Island? (6) 19. Go into hospital department with some hesitation? (5) 20. Pack, or in common parlance, put on the canvas? (4) 21. Start showing your rotten side? (3)

How can you use the letters in NEW DOOR to make one word? Word scramble. Pntyeoeh (having the character of a beginner) A grandfather, two fathers and two sons go to the cinema together, everyone buys one ticket. How many tickets did they buy in total? Can you work out the well known phrase or sayings from the visual clues? b. a.



Answers on P.43 and our website:

Across 1. Unseeing character in famous work of pirates, possibly embarking with leaders? (3) 3. About out of breath in spa? (4) 5. Hammer the first person to drop out of mutiny film? (4) 9. Genie ceases to keep a place for relation. (5) 10. All over the world according to the status quo? (7) 11. Have grind about king’s excessive throne in parlour? (7, 5) 14. Given gin every day to keep driving force? (6) 15. Help English sailor with the French. (6) 18. One way to carry out extraction; change into spacemen! (4, 4, 4) 21. Defunct empire forgot to manage its borders? (7) 22. In the end, swing from south to east gives place for performance for star. (5) With thanks to M.Morris 23. Shape of inverted random edges? (4) 24. Seat taken by one to avoid the opposition? (4) 25. “Say that again and you’ll be fired!” (3)

Holiday Fun Page Spot the difference? Ten things are missing from the picture on the right. Can you find them?

Easter egg hunt. Dotted around the pages of this month’s magazine you will find ten eggs with a letter in the middle of each. Collect the letters, then rearrange them to create a word associated with Easter (answers on P.43). When you’ve done that, reward yourself by making some of our sheep cup cakes?

Sheep Cup Cakes Ingredients for 8 large and 8 small cakes: 125g self-raising flour 125g caster sugar 125g margarine/butter 2 eggs ½ teaspoon vanilla extract 1-2 tablespoons milk Ingredients for icing and decoration 200g margarine/butter 500g icing sugar 1-2 tablespoons milk Chocolate buttons for face and ears Melted dark chocolate for eyes

Decoration: • Butter icing: add 400g icing sugar to the margerine and beat together, add 1-2 tablespoons of milk until it is a thick but creamy consistency. • When the cakes have cooled pipe the butter icing on top. Shape and place white fondant eyes on the chocolate buttons (brown shaped fondant for large cakes) then dot the eyes using a cocktail stick dipped in dark melted chocolate. Place the buttons on the cakes and add the ears (cut pieces of chocolate buttons and shaped brown fondant for large cakes). Voila – now EWE can enjoy them!

Fondant icing for faces and eyes White – make a stiff icing using approximately 50g of icing sugar and a few drops of water. Brown – mix half a teaspoon of cocoa powder with a few drops of tepid water and then add icing sugar until stiff. Method: • Preheat oven 180C/160C fan oven. • Cream butter and caster sugar, add vanilla extract, eggs and sifted flour; mix until smooth and add the milk and mix again thoroughly. Divide the mixture into the paper cake cases. Bake the large size cakes for approximately 18 minutes or until risen, golden in colour and firm to the touch. The small cakes will only need around 12-15 minutes baking.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 19

Home & Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


pril is the ‘soft’ month in the garden, the winter seems to be over, the days are longer and so lighter, there is always rain, but refreshing and soothing rain, not the deluges of February and March, and the greens! Everywhere, green leaves are unfurling and putting on a show of freshness and new life and there is the anticipation of flowers, blooms and blossom to come. This is the month when the yellow of the daffodils, celandines, narcissi and primroses, gives way to the brilliant colours and hues of the tulips. Each year there are more varieties, colour mixes and shapes. Fiery reds with orange or yellow; pale green with dark green and white; pink with a splash of purple, and midnight black - a real artists palette. No wonder these flowers were the cause of riots and bankruptcy in Holland in the 17th century. The flowers don’t last long, so we must enjoy them while we can. After trimming back the tangle of brown stems of the clematis, the new leaf buds are a clearly visible green with silvered fringes. I must remember to replace the crocks that I put around the base of the plant, clematis like their ’feet’ in the shade and their ‘heads’ in the sun. The crocks protect the roots from getting too hot and also serve to help guide the water and feed I give them directly to where it is needed.

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The almond blossom which was so stunning in March has given way to light green, furled (at the moment) leaves. I have had the tree in a pot for about three years, watered it and fed it well and this years’ blossom has been the best ever. Who knows, maybe some fruit will even follow. I remember as a small child, an almond tree outside our local church, which produced nuts every year that were covered in a wonderful coat of green velvet, so lovely to collect and take home to dry. There is just such a pleasant feeling of Spring in the air this month, encouraging us all to be outside. There is masses of planting, trimming and weeding to be done, but because it is the beginning of the season it’s such a positive feeling and so satisfying. April is also the month, when garden events begin again. There are lots of gardens and parks to visit in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. Just type in on the web ‘gardens to visit’ and a printable list is available. The Fête des Plantes season also begins. I’ve researched a few dates for your diaries, but not all sites have updated their information yet. These few have:

Dates for the diary: Vide Jardin - plant swaps, sales of cuttings, and 14th April seeds available. Aizenay 85190 Fête des Plantes, La Roche-sur-Yon at L’Asphodele 20th April 10am - 7pm Fête des Plantes, Pamproux 79

22nd April

Fête des Plantes, Vienne 86

27th - 28th April

Les Jardins de Demain, 5th May Bretignolles-sur-mer 85470 Fête des Plantes at La Place du Bail, Vouvant 19th May 85120

Now is the time to:

• •

• •

• • • • •

Be prepared for unexpected frosts by keeping fleece handy. Best that flower and fruit tree buds are protected as frost scorch can damage or kill them easily. If frost damage happens, trim affected leaves and buds off straight away. Finish off dividing perennials, making sure a decent clump of the roots go with each piece of the parent plant. I use an old kitchen knife with a long blade for hostas particularly, but using two garden forks back to back is very effective too. Plant summer flowering bulbs and tubers such as cannas, lilies, gladioli and hedychiums in borders or pots. If outer scales of the lily bulbs come away or fall off, put some garden compost in a plastic bag, pop the scales in and leave in a cool, not cold, part of the fridge. They will begin to send out roots and can be potted on and placed in a sheltered spot in the garden. They take a few years to flower, but it is worth it. Lily beetles will just be beginning to emerge now; being scarlet red, with black undersides they are unmistakable. The adult beetles have a trick of dropping onto the compost if you try to catch them, and they are difficult to see when they do this; persist in your quest as their larvae can strip a plant of every leaf. The larvae look like small, black dollops of slime on the leaves, they can just be wiped off. A pesticide spray can deal with them if all else fails. Continue planting out autumn sown sweet peas and more of the seeds can be planted directly into soil or pots outside. Make sure you have twiggy supports ready for them to twist around. Dahlia tubers can be prepared for planting by inspecting them for rot or damage. Make a deep hole in the soil, line it with fertiliser rich compost and place the tuber with the central growing point uppermost on top. Back fill to at least a depth of 15cm of compost. The process is the same if you are using a large pot. Water well and put in a sunny place. Deadhead spring flowering bulbs, but allow the foliage time to die back naturally. This can take up to six weeks, but the food in the foliage goes back into the bulb ensuring flowering next year. Hardy annual seedlings that were planted in pots in the autumn will now have a good root structure, so can be planted out. It’s a good idea to acclimatise them a bit first by standing the pots in the sunshine during the day and moving them into a sheltered spot for the night. It’s a nice idea to sow a whole bed of hardy annuals, which will give splendid colour and lots of flowers for cutting right through until the first frosts. Look for seeds of calendula, nigella, ammi, larkspur, cleome, scabious, Shirley poppies and pinks. Choose a piece of sunny ground, rake it over well removing weeds. Divide it into sections using white sand or flour, then sprinkle the seeds, water and cover with more soil. Prune the flowering stems from spring flowering shrubs as soon as the blooms fade and before new leaf growth has been produced. Prune forsythia and chaenomeles. Prune mophead hydrangeas back to the lowest pair of strong buds. Check roses for aphids, rubbing them off with fingers, and spraying with a soap solution to deter their return. Spray against black spot with an anti-fungal mixture. Tie-in rambling roses. Cut back old fronds from ferns to make room for new shoots. Deadhead camellias as soon as the flower petals turn brown. If the foliage is turning yellow, the plant needs a feed of ericaceous

• • •

• • •

fertiliser. In addition, add some ericaceous compost to the pot or the earth around it. Camellias prefer an acidic soil if they are to do their best. Start planting up hanging baskets. Place a saucer or a piece of plastic sheeting at the bottom of the basket to act as a reservoir then fill the basket with compost containing slow release fertiliser and water-retaining gel. Pinch out long shoots on petunias and fuchsias to encourage branching and thus more flowers. Water well and leave in a greenhouse or somewhere under cover to put on some root growth before being put outside permanently. If you have kept some pelargoniums from last year, now is the time to take cuttings. Cut a section of stem below a node (a bumpy bit that you will feel along the stem) and immediately insert into very gritty, free draining compost and water them well. They should produce roots very easily, but don’t drown them! Some perennials produce lots of new shoots. These can be thinned out by cutting some of them away at the base. Taking off half the shoots, in a balanced way, from the whole plant will be beneficial and the remaining shoots will become stronger and more upright. Spent flowers on hellebores should be removed along with any damaged or diseased leaves. Put plant supports in before the plant is fully grown. It’s easier to do when the foliage is just emerging and the plant needs the support as it grows. Sow tomatoes, cucumber, celery and celeriac under cover. When tomato plants have produced their first true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual pots. Towards the end of the month, sweet corn, courgettes and pumpkins can also be sown. Leeks and brassicas can be planted outdoors in beds and second early potatoes can be sown at the beginning of the month. Protect new shoots if frost seems likely. Carrots, turnips, peas, broad beans, spinach and lettuce can all be sown outside now. Other vegetables, including beetroot, Swiss chard and spring onions can be sown too. Use fleece to protect brassicas and carrots from insect damage by securing the edges well. Planting marigolds next to carrots deters the carrot fly which is attracted to the carrot smell. Marigolds have a stronger scent which masks the carrot smell. Keep an eye out for red spider mite and whitefly in the greenhouse. Sticky traps are very effective for combating these and they are available in garden centres and online. Keep the greenhouse well ventilated, don’t over water and ‘damping off’ in seedlings can be prevented. Finish planting shallots, onion sets and garlic.

Enjoy your gardening…….and the plant fairs!



The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 21

79380 La Forêt-sur-Sèvre

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 23

Where We Live...


Munster/Munster-Géromé (AOC) This soft, washed-rind cow’s milk cheese is made under different names on either side of the Vosges mountains – in Alsace to the east and Lorraine to the west. In Alsace it’s called Munster, while in Lorraine it goes under the name Géromé. Rivalries existed for many years to determine which was the first Munster cheese (it first became famous in the 16th century when made by Benedictine monks) but finally, on 21st May, 1969 an end to all the friction came when the two cheeses shared the same AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée). The same manufacturing process, the same colour and the same smell. And today it’s one of France’s most famed washed-rind cheeses. The milk used to make Munster traditionally comes from Vosgiennes cows, a breed imported from Scandinavia in the 18th century. The animals are strong and yield good quality milk, high in protein. Affinage, or maturation, must take place within the areas specified by the AOC and needs a minimum of three weeks (two for a Petit-Munster), although two to three months is more usual. During the affinage, Munsters are stored in a cellar at 11-15°C and 95-96% humidity, where they are rubbed with a light brine by cloth or by hand every two or three days. This causes the characteristic yellow to reddish-orange rind to develop. Chief characteristics of this cheese are its pungent smell (a ripe Munster smells very strong) and the soft, firm yet smooth inside. The rind is brick-red and the inside fine-textured and golden. If it has been properly matured, it is slightly sweet and sticky (but not slimy) with a rich, milky flavour. A young cheese has an orange-yellow rind with a pale cream inside. Many Vosges dishes are complemented by Munster and locally the cheese is often eaten baked with potatoes and cumin seeds in a dish known as Bibelasskas, or with skin-on boiled potatoes. Munster is also delicious melted on bread. Beer or a Reisling or Gewurtztraminer wine all go well with the cheese’s powerful aroma.

JOYCE AND ROB MANN Swopping haggis for haricots! In December 2013, Rob and Joyce Mann took an extended holiday from Australia to explore the possibility of relocating to Scotland. Just six months later, they went through the front door of their new home. It was definitely on the other side of the world... but in the Deux-Sèvres!


his certainly wasn't a case of a dodgy satnav, or a wrong turn down a country lane, but it does take some explaining...

Rob, born and bred in Queensland, was 49 years old when he left on that Scottish trip – the first time he'd been out of Australia. Joyce had emigrated from Scotland with her parents in 1977 as a reluctant 17-year-old and 36 years later was still missing her home country every day, but especially at Christmas and Hogmanay. “Somehow, sitting down to salad and cold chicken in 40°C heat on Christmas Day was not what I was used to,” says Joyce. “I longed for the snow and the seasons. I missed the Glaswegian patter and the accents. After living in Australia for 36 years, the locals thought I sounded like I'd just stepped off the boat. I missed the Scottish pies, potato scones, black pudding and sitting in front of a coal or wood-burning fire. I still wanted to go home.” Then, at 5am one December morning in 2007, a catastrophic car accident was to change both of their lives for ever. Joyce takes up the story...

© wikicommons/Abrahami

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

“Rob was on his way to work when an 18-year-old boy, driving drunk from an all-night party, crossed the double lines and crashed head-on into Rob's car. Rob was trapped with multiple injuries. The paramedics' main concern was internal bleeding they thought was from his liver, but it was later found to be from his bowel, which had to be partially removed. His liver suffered lacerations.

by Mick Austin

“I had driven to the scene of the accident. A helicopter had landed in the middle of the road, with a specialist surgeon on board who worked on Rob while the emergency services cut him out of the car and got him into the helicopter. I managed to get to the hospital just as they were taking him into surgery, to first remove the part of the bowel and then look at the liver damage. “From there he went on to have the first of many operations on his feet, both ankles, both legs and left knee. There was nothing left of his right elbow. It was shattered. Both hands, his left wrist and left upper arm were all broken. He went into surgery at 8am, three hours after the accident, and came out again at 2am the next day. They had to revive him in surgery on one occasion.” That was just the start of the nightmare for the Manns. Rob was to spend six weeks in intensive care and six months in hospital. All his limbs were put back together with plates and pins. He was told there was a good chance he'd never walk again and it was very likely he'd lose his leg. He'd had a total of nine operations to his limbs and stomach by the time he left hospital and went on to have a further five over the following few years. He was unable to touch his face with his right hand as his elbow had been set in one place with steel plates. “I gave up my job to look after Rob,” says Joyce. “I had to learn to support his treatment by giving him injections, helping with his physiotherapy, operating a hoist to move him around and keeping him going in the dark days that followed.” Seven months after the accident, doctors felt Rob was ready for rehabilitation, so he went back into hospital again for three months to try to learn to walk again. His physiotherapists thought he was doing really well and showing great improvement, while Rob was determined he wasn't going to be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. His body would never be the same again but, in 2009, two years after the accident, he was up and walking unaided and getting on with everyday things. He still has pain to this day and his balance can be an issue as his gait is out of sync, but he gets on with it. “It was all a big reality check for the both of us,” says Rob. “Things had changed in our lives and what used to be important no longer mattered. We sold up and bought a place on the Gold Coast and I settled into life at home knowing I'd not be able to work again for a few years at least. My recovery was well under way, but the crash and its aftermath had forced us to re-evaluate what we wanted from our lives. Our children were all grown up so we began to explore the possibility of emigrating to Scotland.” The holiday in 2013 was planned to visit Scotland and look at the job and housing markets. The Manns had some friends who were in the process of moving to France, having bought a farmhouse in the Deux-Sèvres, so the four of them went to look at the property.

Joyce had, of course, felt immediately at home in the north of Scotland but on this holiday the pair of them fell head over heels in love with... France! “We had never been to France before,” says Joyce. “But it felt like stepping back in time, especially in rural France with hardly any traffic on the roads, shops closing on Sundays and for the most part on Mondays. Nothing was rushed. Such a slow pace of life. That lifestyle definitely appealed to us and with Scotland around an hour's flight or a ferry crossing and drive away, it was a compromise I didn't mind settling for.” Towards the end of their holiday, Joyce got word that her father had passed away so they returned to Australia for the funeral. A few months later, when things had settled down, they put their house on the market and gathered the large family – Joyce had two boys and three girls and Rob four boys from their previous marriages – to tell them the news: they were moving to France. “My mum, Jemima, who was 80 at the time, surprised us by wanting to join us in France,” says Joyce. “Rob's family were very happy for us as they'd have an excuse to come on holiday every few years. Rob's mum, Norma, was 79 when we left Oz. She was happy with her life there but she did come and visit us in 2017 and loved it. We brought our dog Henry with us from Australia. He arrived before us and stayed with friends until we arrived. It cost us more in airfare to send Henry than it was for our flights!” “We sold our house in February 2014 and the three of us boarded a flight to the UK,” says Rob, “and after spending some time in Scotland we headed for the area of the Deux-Sèvres that our friends had introduced us to. We looked at loads of properties before we found a superb old farmhouse in La Foret-sur-Sèvre, near Bressuire. The English owners had only put it on the market the day before we viewed it. We put in an offer and it was accepted and we moved in three months later. The sellers were in a tailspin. They had said houses take a long time to sell in France. They thought they'd have at least three years to pack up and move out – not the day after it went on the market!” And that's how they got the keys to a French farmhouse instead of a house in the north of Scotland... The Manns moved in on 4th July, 2014 and quickly got stuck in to renovating, with tradespeople doing the electrics, plumbing and tiling and Rob and Joyce doing the rest. “Rob couldn't touch his face with his arm after the accident, so trying to put plasterboard – or jip rock as they call it in Australia – on the ceilings and walls was a mission. He just took things at his own pace and we worked together when we could. Loads of swearing and laughing along the way.” After two years at home (and still plenty of renovating to complete),

Pictures below: Rob and Joyce enjoying the good life in Australia. Some of the wildlife they shared their garden with - kookaburras and kangaroos. Left page: Joyce and Rob with their granddaughter.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 25

Picture: Rob’s van after the crash in 2007. Top right: The long road of rehabilitation, helped by their pool in Australia. Bottom right: Rehabilitation to renovation - Rob working on their French property.

the Manns decided it was time to dip their toes into the water and find out what was out there work-wise.

shed and broke the bone just under the elbow on the right arm he had damaged so badly in Australia.

Over the years, Joyce had been a seamstress (she got the job two days after landing in Australia and hated every minute of it) and then got into the upholstery business, where she was later to meet Rob, an upholsterer by trade, and they married in 1996. Within a year they decided they were fed up with making money for other people, so they rented a shed and bought all the machinery they needed to start their own upholstery business. It was long hours and not without stress, but they were successful. They even took one of their daughters, Toni, on as an apprentice.

“The French medical profession is second to none,” says Rob. “It took another two operations to fix it, but after nine years of not being able to touch my face with my right hand I can now drink a beer with it as well! I was right-handed before the accident so I had to learn to use my left for everything.”

Joyce had done some basic bookkeeping for the business, found she enjoyed doing and it and went back to college to get certificates in bookkeeping and accounting. She fancied a career change, so worked for a landscaping company doing book-keeping and payroll, while Rob and Toni started their own upholstery shop. At the start of 2005, however, Rob and Toni saw an influx of cheap furniture hit the market. People weren't wanting to re-cover good furniture, so they decided to close the business and Rob went to work for a roofing company as he loved working outside. In 2016 at La Foret-sur-Sèvre, one income stream opened up when Joyce's mum, Jemima, decided that although she enjoyed France she missed Australia so much she decided to return. That left a beautifully refurbished cottage with country views from the sundeck empty and so Le Petit Nid (The Little Nest) gîte was born (www. and quickly became a success. Around that time, however, Rob was to discover how many advancements had been made in medical technology since his car crash in 2007. He fell off the roof of his 26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

Both the Manns registered as auto-entrepreneurs and got their Siret numbers and Joyce found a job cleaning gîtes, with Rob doing the maintenance, to get them started. “I worked for ten months for a local doctor, cleaning her surgery and home,” says Joyce, “and it was while I was there I spotted a gap in the local market for reliable, professional cleaners. So I set up my own cleaning business ( offering regular house and small business cleaning, support for local gîte

...A look at what makes France so special owners with handover cleaning and one-off deep cleans, which are now so successful they are booked well in advance.”

April Fools’!

Meanwhile, Rob's garden maintenance business had got a good client base, but he began to hanker for his life-long profession as an upholsterer and decided to set up in that business again ( Apart from transforming sofas and armchairs, he also offers an interior service for cars, boats, camper vans and caravans. He works from a workshop at home while Joyce does the sewing in the house.


“We are well settled in the French community now,” says Joyce. “Rob is a people person and can talk to anyone. He natters away to the French neighbours all the time. Sometimes neither one knows what the other is saying, but they don't care. “We've both found learning a new language hard work, but regular private lessons are helping us improve. We can understand a lot of what French people are saying to us but sometimes struggle to answer. Our French neighbours say they can understand Rob better than me because I speak fast with a Scottish accent and Rob, being an Aussie, speaks slower by comparison. I, of course, had the same problem in Australia for the first six years. “There are no English in our little hamlet, they are all French and such lovely neighbours. We've also met a few French people through our gîte as the majority of our guests are French. We often sit in the evening with them and have a glass of wine or beer, which is lovely. “Although we miss our children – and now 16 grandchildren (thank goodness for Facetime) – we adore rural France. The slower pace and the feeling of stepping back in time to gentler days suits our new way of life. In Queensland, you have the choice of hot or hotter, so the distinct seasons in France have been a blessing. And with a beautiful home and established businesses, France is truly a dream come true.”

Picture below: Their house in France after the renovation work. Left page, bottom: Rob and Joyce with their children (some of them) and two grandchildren at their daughter’s wedding in Australia.

by Steve Shaw

obody is quite sure where or when April Fools’ Day started. But one thing is for sure, people are still gullible. Here are some of the best April Fools’ Day pranks: 1698 - The washing of the lions: In possibly the oldest recorded example, Londoners were invited to attend the ceremonial ‘washing of the lions’ that was said to take place annually in the moat outside the Tower of London. The whole thing was bogus, but drew such a crowd that the prank ended up becoming something of an April Fools’ Day fixture. 1708 - The death of John Partridge: Author Jonathan Swift published an almanac of fake astrological predictions. For his first prediction, he foretold the death of the celebrity astrologer John Partridge. On the day Swift published a letter confirming Partridge was dead. Partridge discovered his own passing when someone knocked on his door to see if he had any specific requests for his funeral service. 1878 - Edison’s food machine: Having just invented the phonograph the year before, Thomas Edison’s genius was undisputed. So, when the New York Graphic published a piece claiming that Edison had solved the problem of world hunger with his latest invention, a machine that could manufacture ‘biscuit, meat, vegetables and wine’ out of nothing more than air, water and dirt, people believed it. 1955 - Contra-polar energy: For its April 1955 issue, Popular Electronics ran a story about a newly declassified technology that had been developed in secret during WWII called ‘contra-polar energy’. According to the magazine, if applied to electronics, this new form of energy would make them do the exact opposite of what they were normally used for. So, for example, instead of a beam of light, a table lamp plugged into a socket carrying contra-polar energy would give off a beam of dark. 1957 - The Swiss spaghetti harvest: At the end of its 1st April, 1957 episode, the BBC’s Panorama aired a segment about the ‘Swiss spaghetti tree’. According to Richard Dimbleby’s narration, the mild winter that year along with the eradication of the dreaded spaghetti weevil had resulted in an unprecedented spaghetti crop in Switzerland, where pasta noodles growing from tree branches were shown being picked by women in traditional Swiss costumes. The segment was met with mixed reactions. Some complained that the BBC had violated its audiences’ trust. A huge number, though, were just anxious to find out how they could grow a spaghetti tree of their own.

Do you have an interesting story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Mick Austin is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the Paysde-la-Loire. He has had his work published in several expat magazines and newspapers and has also written the Mayenne Tourist Board’s only English language brochure. He runs a gite business at

1976 - Zero-G Day: The BBC, undeterred by the backlash it received over the Swiss spaghetti harvest prank, was responsible for a radio broadcast in 1976. British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that, due to the specific alignment of the planets as Pluto passed behind Jupiter, Earth’s gravity would temporarily be weakened. Listeners were told that if, at precisely 9.47am, they jumped into the air, they would feel like they were floating for just a moment before Earth’s gravity kicked in again as usual. Scores of people called in excitedly claiming to have felt it, including one woman who said she floated around her house. 1998 - The left-handed Whopper: In a fullpage ad that ran in USA Today, Burger King announced that it would now offer a burger specially made for left-handed people.


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 27

Communications Need a hand with some Spring Cleaning?


here are many useful programs or applications to help you get the best from your computer, tablet or mobile phone and of course the internet. The two detailed are both free of charge.

These programs (or apps) run on all three devices and their operating systems, namely Windows, Apple Mac, Android.

Checking your internet speed The most popular and, in my experience, accurate one is Speedtest. net by Ookla. checks for the optimum server to connect you to, to make the test. It then checks the connection by sending a ‘ping’ (just like in the old war films when a submarine sends a ping on the sonar), this establishes the distance from your device to the test server. It then checks the download and upload speed and reports these to you. Why is this important? The internet speed is never constant, it is always varying due to too much ‘traffic’ slowing things down or some kind of fault whether it be a line, exchange, server or a fault with your router. Speedtest will enable you to monitor your line speed, I check mine once a week or when I think the internet seems slow. Probably one of the best features is the ability to record all of your speedtest results. This is useful when your speed has slowed and you need to prove to your internet service provider your historic speed as evidence. You need to set-up a simple account using your email address and creating a password so that if you log on, each time your speedtest results are recorded. Click Result History, under the ACCOUNT heading (at the bottom of the page), to see the previous speed tests you have run, when signed on. How to use - On any device simply type speedtest. net into the address bar of your browser and choose the speedtest result, this will take you to the webpage and allow you to run your test simply by pressing GO. There is an Android app for Speedtest. net in the Playstore. Keeping your device running smoothly Keeping our device in its optimum state needs a little help. There are usually built in tools to do this in most operating systems. However, a really good program that has been around since the mid-to-late 80s is CCleaner. CCleaner is a program designed to keep your device free of temporary files and code that slows your system down. It is simple to use, efficient (if kept up to date regularly), you can trust the recommendations and it is not complicated to set-up. On a PC you can download and install the free version (at the time of writing this is 5.55.7108). Once it has installed take the tick from the view release notes and click run CCleaner. The CCleaner home screen is organised in three columns: column one has 45 icons labelled Cleaner (highlighted in blue), Registry, Tools, Options and Upgrade. In column two, there are two tabbed pages, one for Windows and another for Applications. Under the Windows tab is a list of Windows programs that require regular maintenance, showing the icon and name of the program in blue. Under each of these are a series of tickable boxes. Tick only the elements of Windows that require cleaning. I would suggest that you remove the ticks from the cookies box, (this will appear once for each browser you have installed). Under the Windows tabbed column you will probably have Microsoft Edge and Internet Explorer. Under the Applications tab you may have several other browsers, such as Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, Safari, 28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

by Ross Hendry

Duck Duck Go and many others (remove the ticks from the cookies on these too, if you have them). This will save you having to input recurring information or important sites such as banks, insurance and credit card companies, etc. Once you have removed the cookies’ ticks, click the blue Analyze button at the bottom left hand side of the window. This will initiate a search for files to remove. You may need to close programs such as Edge, Chrome, File Explorer to permit CCleaner to do its job (just follow the prompts and accept what CCleaner recommends/ suggests). A green progress bar will move from left to right across the top of the window once it has finished, 100% will be displayed. Below this a summary of the files that are to be removed. Click the Run Cleaner blue button to remove the files recommended. You will be advised this action will delete all the files... accept. Once again the progress bar will display 100% once the cleaning is completed, and confirm the files and junk have been removed. You have completed the file cleaning section. Cleaning the Registry In column one click on Registry. The second column changes to Registry Cleaner and lists elements to remove. No need to remove any ticks, simply click the blue Scan for Issues button at the bottom of the window. This will scan the Windows registry for erroneous entries and detail them. Once again, when complete, the progress bar will display 100%. Now click the blue Fix Selected Issues button at the bottom of the screen on the right. CCleaner will ask you if you want to make a registry backup before making changes. Click Yes. Now CCleaner offers you a suggested name of a file for the backup, usually starting ‘cc_’, click Save, then Fix all Selected Issues in the next dialogue box. Once the fix is done it will list the items removed. I repeat the registry clean as above until no other issues are found (usually three times). More recent versions for Android and Mac have been available. On Android the program is much simpler. Once installed, it monitors your device and recommends actions ‘on the fly’ as it were, you do them as you need to. Go to the Android Store or the Google Play Store to download and install. For the Mac version go to www. Unfortunately there is no version of this for the iPad range of tablets, iPhones or the Apple watch. I run CCleaner roughly once a week or if my PC seems lethargic. It will run in the background and tell you when you need to clean your system, once again take the program’s advice, it will make a huge difference to the performance of your PC. Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 43 years experience in communications, computer technology and direct marketing. (see advert below).

Letter from Blighty (March)


Dear Frankie


he snowdrops, St. Valentine’s Day and the Oscars are over; so, too is the lovely balmy fortnight we enjoyed at the end of February, now replaced by the cold, gales and lashing rain of Storms Freya and Gareth. The whole nation is in a state of exasperated limbo, torn between the importance of the outcome of Brexit, the tedium of endless argument about the ‘backstop’, and the apparent impotence of our political representatives. Indeed, they seem passionate about what they don’t want but singularly incapable of identifying and uniting behind what is best for the nation as a whole. The Prime Minister lost (by miles) the second ‘meaningful vote’ and the whole pack of Brexit cards seems to have fallen splat on the floor again and no one knows what to do next. The only light relief has come from the bemusement of the EU negotiators, baffled by the Attorney General’s references to his ‘codpiece’ and to the ‘Man on the Clapham omnibus’. In the meantime, 7000 head teachers have written to the Education Secretary to protest at the severity of their financial position and the adverse effect this will have on the children in their care. And there is public alarm at the sudden rise in knife crime, particularly in London. Then there is public anxiety about air pollution, climate change, obesity, HS2, and a third runway at Heathrow. In short, plenty of difficult issues piling up in the in-tray at Number 10. Some lighter moments which caught my eye this month: (a) On his first visit to the Arabian peninsula, Pope Francis arrived at the opulent presidential palace of the UAE in a Kia Soul family hatchback. Nice one, Francis. (b) Maria Kondo, a decluttering

expert, decrees that if an item doesn’t give you joy, then you should bin it. She also recommends not having more than 30 books in your house. Fat chance! (c) An eight-year old boy named Ryan from the USA has made an estimated £17m from his toy reviews on YouTube. (d) BBC TV is planning the return of ‘Crackerjack’, suitably updated for today’s connected generation (what’s today’s equivalent of “Ooh, I could crush a grape”, I wonder?). (e) ‘Desert Island Discs’ has been named the greatest radio programme of all time, closely followed by ‘The Archers’ and ‘Round the Horne’. (f) Interviewing Dolly Parton, Richard Madeley suddenly commented, ‘You’ve got really tiny feet’, to which, quick as a flash, Dolly (famously well endowed) replied, “Nothing grows in the shade, honey”. (g) Re St.Valentine’s Day, did M&S really offer for sale ‘a heart-shaped , lightly truffled love sausage’?! Those who have died during the last month or so included: Gordon Banks (aged 81) England’s goalkeeper in our famous, but now very distant, World Cup win in 1966 and six times FIFA goalkeeper of the year; Albert Finney (aged 83) who famously turned down the lead part in Lawrence of Arabia; André Previn (aged 89) who was a brilliant composer and conductor, but also well known for his five marriages and his appearance on the Morecambe and Wise show, and Eric Morecambe’s immortal comment, “I am playing all the right notes but not necessarily in the right order”. Yours Johnny

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 29

Food & Drink शराब, साहब?1


hy would any self-respecting wine writer spend time scribbling about a country whose average annual per capita wine consumption is 9 millilitres, 1/8000th of the average French drinker? India is a complicated place: 1.3 billion people, four major religions, from 122 to 234 languages depending on who you speak to assuming you can understand each other, 13% of the population in poverty yet a movie industry bigger than Hollywood, economic activity from agriculture to high tech, at least 37 regional cuisines, and a highway code whose first article is the assumption of immortality is required of all road users. Why indeed? Let history, which we ignore at our peril, guide us. Vines were introduced into India by Persian traders in the fourth millennium BC. By my reckoning that’s a long while before the Greeks disembarked at Marseille with a few vitis vinifera cuttings in their cute jute holdalls. There’s evidence that the upper crust, Princes and the like, were not opposed to a glass or two. When the Portuguese arrived in Goa in the 16th century they brought with them their liking for fortified wine, but it was the Brits (cue jingoistic Brexit cheering) who kick-started the whole wine thing on a broader and deeper scale as we analysts say. And it was the Victorian era which saw Indian wines at their apogee, being favourably received at the Calcutta International Exhibition of 1883. However, when the Brits left in 1947 prohibitionist tendencies kicked in. These were partly a reaction to the colonial era with wine and harder liquor being seen as suspicious, anti-nationalist artefacts2, and in no small part religious. It’s difficult to find a religion in India which does not decry alcohol. So, for long decades Indian grape growers turned to producing for the table, not the vat. It was not until the ‘80s and ‘90s, with the growth of an educated and west-looking middle class, that wine production experienced a revival that is continuing to this day. In these early years of the 21st century, demand for wine grows at up to 20% per annum.

by John Sherwin

basalt to red laterite to heavy clay. (Jeez, why am I picturing Alsace?) The area now produces 80% of India’s wine. The mover and shaker in the area is Sula Vineyards. It was in 1996 that Rajeev Samant planted the first vines in Nashik on five acres. In 1999 they sold their first bottle (this is real pioneering stuff, so you’ll excuse me if I pause to wipe away a tear); in 2000 they produced India’s first sauvignon blanc and chenin; in 2005 they opened India’s first tasting room at a winery; in 2008 they started SulaFest, an annual gourmet music festival; and also in 2008 they produced India’s first riesling (Jeez, why am I still picturing Alsace?). In 2013 they were the first Indian wine listed at Marks and Spencers and in 2014 their Dindori Reserve Shiraz was rated #25 in Wine Enthusiast’s list of their top 100 wines of the year. Now am I getting your attention? Sula currently has 3000 acres, owned or contracted. The contracted grape growers are treated as part of the family and are trained and supported to ensure they produce the best grapes possible. There’s no question that Sula Vineyards is a dynamic setup, and there are of course competitors which keep the market vibrant. Where the future lies for Indian wine producers as a whole is not entirely clear. Yes, the domestic market is growing, but wine is far from being an everyday commodity. My friendly neighbourhood liquor store owner in Jaipur (see photo) keeps what wine he has on a dusty top shelf while his fast moving stock, mostly whiskey, is more readily to hand. I haven’t yet had the pleasure of visiting Nashik, but I have tasted a) the sauvignon blanc which was well balanced and gave what you would expect in flavour and aroma, b) the chenin-chardonnay, refined and subtle, and c) the cabernet sauvignon-shiraz (if I remember correctly) which was a little naïve. Anyone interested in joining me to lobby Hyper U or Leclerc to start stocking a few bottles? Rudimentary tasting notes apart, you have to admit that this is exciting stuff when for so long we have been thinking in terms of Old World and New World wines. Now it’s a question of What World?

Ever heard of Nashik? In ten years this question will seem as ridiculous as ‘ever heard of Napa? Sonoma?’ Maybe there was a time when you thought Napa and Sonoma were generic sleeping pills just as you might now be thinking that Nashik is a cute nickname for a dog. But no. No, no, no. You’d have been wrong then about the now universally renowned Californian wine regions and you’d be just as wrong now about the new Indian kid on the block. Nashik is a town about four hours north-east of Mumbai (Bombay, granddad) and is at the centre of the most important wine-producing area in India. Why there? Well, there’s no escaping terroir, and in the area of Nashik the terroir is really interesting. We’re talking 600 metres above sea level, so cool nights which maintain a good level of acidity in the grapes. Warm days (this is India after all) provide perfect ripening conditions. The various sub-divisions of the area are influenced to a greater or lesser degree by proximity to hills and rivers. The soil is of volcanic origin and at various stages of decay, ranging from weathered _______________________________ 1. 2.

Wine, Sahib? (title) Not without reason. Even today it is common to see reports in The Times of India of multiple deaths due to ‘spurious liquor’, villagemade hooch which is the oblivion of choice of the downtrodden.

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or 30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019


Population Explosion


by Jacqueline Brown

ith the arrival of 9,000 new residents, our little village has recently witnessed a population explosion. Thankfully they won’t be filling up the tables at the village bar, or crooning at the karaoke nights, as they have their very own accommodation that caters for their every need. With the opening of a new organic, free-range egg farm, we have chickens and lots of them! Before the ladies arrived, the farm opened its doors so the current villagers could have a look around, and with indoor roosting frames, automated feeding systems, plus nesting boxes attached to a conveyor belt that will carefully remove the eggs as they are laid, and outdoor areas including woodland to roam in - there was a lot to see. These lucky birds will have it all and will only need the attention of one farmer for four hours a day. Having owned chickens for many years I know they are great fun to watch when enjoying themselves outside; bottoms up, beaks down and feet scratching away, they are always hopeful of unearthing a tasty morsel. Although the new arrivals will be kept indoors at first, to ensure they become accustomed to their new surroundings, I can’t wait for the doors to open so they can explore their fields and woodland space. With my birds all showing signs of age and a slowing down of egg production, I was delighted that as well as the majority of eggs being sold to a local cooperative, they would be available to buy direct from the farm too. It would seem news travels fast

in the bird community however, as now there are new layers in town, my girls have bucked up their ideas and I’m inundated with goose, duck and chicken eggs once more. Brucie the goose is ten years old and although I’ve no idea how old geese live for, I’m guessing she is in her twilight years by now, so I’m making sure I enjoy every one of her offerings. Omelettes, the perfect quick and easy meal for one, quiche, my picnic favourite and chocolate mousse, an indulgent treat, have all been popping up in my kitchen these last few weeks. Next on the list is macarons as I’ve recently been on a macaron day at Jambon de Printemps, so I’m feeling brave enough to try them at home again too. Anything to use up some eggs, although it’s always nice to take some up to Ed in Poitiers, just to make sure he’s eating well. Our village is already home to an organic goat farm that sells homemade cheese direct from the farm, and an organic, freerange poultry meat farm, so the opening of another organic enterprise is a positive sign, even if the high-tech dairy farmer is about as far from organic as it’s possible to be. You can find photos of the new residents on Facebook at ‘Earl Du Bois Cambert’ and eggs can be bought on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 8.30am to 11am at 12 route de Longré, Loubillé 79110. Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 31

Motoring In the Slow Lane


by Helen Tait-Wright

e’ve all been there. You are driving down a quiet French road when suddenly there is a queue of traffic ahead travelling at about 40kph, and you just know that at the head of it is a ‘Sans Permis’, ‘Spid’ or ‘Voiturette’; call it what you will.

Back to the microcar, should you be tempted to own one, insurance is understandably expensive given the risk they represent, and that coupled with the cost of a new model probably explains why there are so many old ones on the road often held together with duct tape and string!

I don’t know about you, but I think they are the scariest and most dangerous things on the road.

I suppose owning one allows you to at least stay out of the weather on your (very slow) journey and you can park in impossibly small gaps and put your shopping in the back, thus giving the driver some independence.

Generally the driver, who tends to be ancient and lacking in any rudimentary grip on road rules, (assuming they can even see the road through the assorted collection of soft toys piled on the dash) does not have to have a licence or have passed a car driving test in order to take one on the road, which is horrifying enough in itself, but after having seen the remains of one after an accident they seem to offer about as much accident protection as a shopping bag. They are so small that their aged owners sort of wear them as an overcoat with wheels! Drivers born after 1st January 1988 must have a moped licence in order to drive one, which means a 14 year old could also be behind the wheel, and you can also drive them if you have been banned from driving! I suppose it is better than walking? The cars are mainly made by three manufactures, Aixam, Ligier and Microcar. They are all two seaters, can only weigh 300lbs, have a maximum speed of 28mph (45km) and an engine of 5.6 hp. They are kitted out as ‘proper’ cars and can be fitted with alloys, CD players, electric windows and of course go faster stripes! They have model names such as GTO, Sport and RS, which must be ironic? Somewhere I am sure that keeps the marketing people amused on a daily basis. New cars range in price from 9,599€ to 14,990€, which is unbelievable considering a brand new Renault Twingo can be yours for 11,400€. Just to digress here, I wonder how many of you are now playing the Twingo game following my recent article? I have been approached by several people saying “This is all your fault”! For anyone off to Niort for their carte de sejour appointment, it is a rich hunting ground for Twingos!

Now, the more observant of you will have noticed that one of the manufacturers is Ligier, and that may ring a bell with motorsport fans as a manufacturer that previously had cars on the Formula 1 grid! Surely not the same company? Oh yes it is! Ligier started out making mid engined sportscars in 1969. The 1973 fuel crisis saw such a downturn in demand for Ligier’s road legal sportscar, the JS2, that the company turned its focus to microcars. They subsequently acquired the Beneteau’s Microcar division in 2008, and are now Europe's second largest microcar manufacturer, and the largest manufacturer of licence-exempt vehicles. In contrast, having already competed at Le Mans since 1970, Ligier brought their Formula 1 team to the grid in 1976. Jacques Laffite won the Swedish Grand Prix with the team in 1977, in a victory that will go down in history as the first all French victory in a Formula 1 championship. Sadly ‘Equippe Ligier’, proved to be less lucrative than cars for French unable to obtain a driving licence, and after a string of disappointing seasons in F1 in the early nineties, the team was sold to Alain Prost in 1996, leaving just the Ligier brand on the back of that annoying little car you are still following. As you know, by the time this article goes public, Haley and I will hopefully have completed the 2019 edition of the ‘Rallye des Gazelles’. We are staying on in Morocco for a bit after the rally, but I will be back to give you a report for the May edition, fear not! I’ve never seen a Spid on the road in Morocco, but there are a lot of donkeys!

Contact Helen: 32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 33

Health, Beauty & Fitness DON’T FORGET OUR DEADLINE!


Interested in playing walking football around the Dampierre sur Boutonne area? We really need more players of any level (and age) to join us for fun, competition and above all, the health benefits! Call Ted Sellwood on or email


Facebook group ‘British Cyclists in France (BCIF)’ is an online group for British cyclists to share information, events, ask advice and post photos etc. Why not join, make contacts and arrange rides with other local cyclists?


Come and have fun whilst exercising body and mind. Line Dancing at our warm and friendly club. Many styles of dance and music - Country, Celtic, Line etc. All levels welcome. English and bilingual instructors. Ring Mark & Anita Wilson 05 49 95 28 73 / 06 86 98 94 63

Want to keep fit, have fun and make new friends? Join us at Vasles Netball Club (no experience necessary). We meet every Monday from 5.307pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles. For more information:

Everyday Yoga for Everyone

The Gentle Art of Resilience


everal years ago, when I was working in radio production for a program in Los Angeles, I interviewed Dr. Andrew Weil, a renowned holistic health doctor. One of the questions I asked him was, “What is your definition of health?” to which he replied instantly, “Health is resilience”. What he meant by this, as he went on to explain, was that health is not something that can actually be measured in terms of a stack of test results, since the body is constantly in flux. Our physical processes are changing all the time in relation to many different factors. Health, therefore, is also not a static measurement. Ill-health occurs when things go out of balance to a point where one or more bodily system begins to break down. Health is not when the body is in perfect balance. There is no such thing. It is rather the ability of the body to cope with the stresses that are constantly being placed on those systems. This is resilience. In other words, resilience is the ability to cope with changes in the body. But there is another extremely important kind of resilience - the ability to cope with changes in our lives. A change might be an enormous upheaval such as the death of a loved one or the end of a relationship, or simply the ability to deal with day to day disappointments or an annoying neighbour. As Heraclitus was famous for pointing out, “nothing endures but change”. Change is really the only thing we can rely on, so learning to cope with changes in our lives is nothing short of a super-power. If our life resilience declines, the good news is that we can build it

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Pure Fitness

Exercise to music classes - every Wednesday 7.30pm-8.30pm Salle des Fêtes, Vernoux-en-Gâtine 79240 For more info contact

Tai Chi classes

Exercise for the body and mind. Age and physical abilities are no obstacle. Classes are held in Bressuire on Tuesday evenings and Breuil Barret on Friday afternoons. Call Terry on: 05 49 65 60 34 or go to:

by Rebecca Novick

up again. We can begin by developing resilience to smaller difficulties, and through familiarity, we can learn to apply the same skills to the major challenges that we are all inevitably going to face one day, and to the ones we might face as soon as a few minutes from now. It’s a package that includes insight, kindness (to oneself and others), adaptability, creativity, and humour. Resilience creates a rubbery layer between us and change that provides a softer landing for life’s blows. Yoga is a wonderful way to develop resilience that benefits both our bodies and minds. We learn to stay with a challenging pose in a compassionate space, exploring it for what it can teach us. We build strength and endurance through a gentle testing of our limits and discover new ways to go beyond them. We learn to giggle rather than tut when we topple over, as we inevitably will do at times. And we learn to breathe through the changes, rest when we’ve had enough, and conserve our energy for the next move.

Respect yourself, explore yourself. For details on yoga classes email: or follow Rebecca on

Our Furry Friends

HOPE ASSOCIATION helping animals in need


cafe • bric à brac • books • DVDs & CDs • clothes • furniture

17 Route de Civray 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

Open every Thursday & 1st Sunday of each month, from 10am to 4 pm • Good quality donations of clothes, books and bric-à-brac are always welcome •


The very lovely, gentle Patty is looking to get out of the pound and would like nothing more than to have a warm bed to call her own. Estimated to be threefour years old and weighs 17kg. She has been in the north pound of Deux-Sèvres for more than five weeks. Do you think you could give this beautiful girl a loving home? Contact us now - if you would like to meet Patty.

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


Ten year old Suzette is such a quiet, gentle dog, you’d barely know she’s there, unless she wants a cuddle; when she will nudge you for attention. She is very nervous of new things so we would love to find her a calm home, where she can explore her world and have time to trust the people in it, at her own pace.

by Heather Davey


e are a small cat rescue centre and have been taking in abandoned and sick cats and kittens for many years. We bottle feed, medicate, care for, neuter, vaccinate, microchip and find loving new homes for our darling little rescued kits. As the need got greater and we became swamped with furry babies we decided, just over a year ago, to become an association. Since then we have had renovations and now have a lovely saleroom with great 'new to you' clothes, books, DVDs, CDs, crafts, jewellery and household items. You can enjoy a coffee or tea with a delicious piece of homemade cake. Opening hours are between 2pm-4pm every Wednesday afternoon and there are always lots of cats looking for cuddles and new homes. We are a non-profit organisation and all money raised goes towards caring for our kittens, including vet’s bills and food. We hope you can visit us and help support our cause.

Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Staint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884.

The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email: Visit the website: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 35

Building & Renovation

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Location de mini-pelle Travaux Publics Installer and supplier of micro-stations. Micro-station and installation starting from 6000 Euros All Types of Groundworks Undertaken

Covering Bressuire and Surrounding Areas

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1 Day 130€, 2 Days 220€, 7 Days 700€ 12 Mtr Cherry Picker 110€ per day Laser Level 30€ per day Wacker Plate 60kg 20€ per day 3 inch petrol water pump 30€ per day Concrete Breaker Digger Attachment Available Digger & Driver Available Phone FR: 06 10 43 96 16 UK : 07753822265 Email : Siret : 840 226 666 00013

Business & Finance Marketing Matters


• by Cindy Mobey

A picture is worth a thousand words

s a small business owner, most of us use social media or blogs to promote our businesses with our potential and existing clients. But when you know that most people engage with your content within the first eight seconds, it’s crucial to draw them in. This is where images are invaluable. The phrase ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ was first used by a journalist in 1911, so it’s nothing new. A photo or painting can show you certain emotions with one glance. Readers want information as quickly as possible. However, if you were to create a blog post with just images, it wouldn’t mean a lot; they are important, but they have a supportive role that enhances your writing. When writing anything, paragraphs are used to break up the text. In the same way, images should be used to help break up the monotony of just words on a page. If faced with a very long article, in general people are more likely to scroll on through. But, if it is broken up with relevant images that illustrate the subject matter, it’s easier on the eye, simpler to read and understand. When writing online it’s important to have clear images. You can either take photographs yourself (make sure that they are high resolution) or you can use photos from the internet. However, it is very important that you do not breach any laws of copyright, so use a reputable site to source. There are several different types of images available:

• •

Royalty free - You can usually use these images as you like, but you must not edit the pictures or resell them. Rights managed - With this type of image, you have to buy a single-use license for each image you want. As the licence suggests, it is for single use, so if you buy it for an article or blog post, you wouldn’t then be able to use the same image elsewhere - you would have to buy an additional license. Public domain - These images don’t have any restrictions, although it’s considered courteous to put an accreditation note on the image, it’s not necessary. Creative Commons - These are images that have been created by someone who wants to have accreditation to his/her work.

There are lots of sites out there, for example Shutterstock are great for buying images. If you want free images that need no accreditation, check out Unsplash or Pixabay. Images don’t just have to be photographs. If you’re trying to explain something technical, screen shots can be effective and graphs, pie charts and info-graphics all have their place too. Images are also fabulous at helping you with search engine optimisation (SEO). If you add an image to your blog, put a caption on it. This caption or ‘alternative text’ is what Google uses to trawl the internet looking for images, so descriptive ‘alternative text’ can help Google find your images, and therefore your blog. As humans we tend to relate to other humans, so the image of someone’s face will pull readers in. If you’re giving someone advice about a topic, include a photo of yourself smiling encouragingly. It’s always good to know the face behind the words! Don’t overdo it. Images should be there to serve a purpose and illustrate a point, they need to relate to your content. Finally, you don’t want your images to overpower your words, so keep them in proportion. Size isn’t everything!

Contact Cindy Mobey Tel: 05 45 31 13 86 ~ Email:


Simply register on our website:


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 41

by Isabelle Want



t’s that time of the year again when we start receiving the dreaded income tax form to fill in (mid-April to mid-May)! Some of you thought that the new changes with monthly payment taken at source (prélèvement à la source) would stop that but no, you still have to fill in a form! As the forms were not available at the time of writing, I will give you an introduction to French income tax. 1. Who has to fill in the tax form? Basically everybody who is a French resident (lives in France more than six months per year) whether you are employed, self-employed or retired and even if you are obliged to pay taxes in the UK! Also, non-French residents who have rented property in France. If it is your first time, you have to go to the Trésor public office (tax office) and ask for the forms, which are available from the first week of May. Or you can download them from their website. Since 1 January 2019, we are now taxed at source and the amount (or a percentage of our salary) was determined by the income of 2017, taxed in 2018. The form we fill in this year will determine the tax for 2020, meaning 2018 is not taxed but taken into account in case there is a big gap with 2017! If so, they will take the average of 2017 and 2018 and adjust the tax you are paying in 2019 accordingly. st

The reason we still fill in a form is because of tax advantages such as children, employing a cleaner, etc. If you have children or a spouse earning much less than you it will lower your taxable income as you are taxed as a family not an individual. Adults count as one point, the first two children as half a point each and the third child and so on as one point. You then divide the total revenue of the family by the number of points you have, to know what your taxable income is. Unmarried couples have to fill in a tax form each! 2. When? You fill in a tax form one year after, meaning you declare your revenue of 2018 in April/May 2019. So, if you officially moved to France before July last year (2018), then you fill in your first French tax form in April/May 2019 on which you declare your revenue of 2018. If you moved to France after July, then you were not a French resident in 2018 (in France less than six months) and therefore, you will have to fill in your first French tax form in April/ May 2020 for your revenue of 2019. When you fill in a tax form in April/May, you then receive the bill ‘Avis d’imposition’ in August/September of that same year. This is a very important document proving you completed your tax form and are therefore a French resident. This bill can show 0€ to pay or unfortunately more! For people who are already on the system and if you have paid tax in 2018, from January 2019, money has been taken automatically from your French bank account (usually the amount you paid in 2018 divided by 12). So, the form you will be filling in now is to determine if the amount you are paying is too high or not high enough. This means that 2018 will not be taxed as a year of transition. Because the amount you are paying now is for the income of 2019. 3. What forms? • 2047: This is the pink form on which you enter your revenue from abroad and then transfer all those revenues on to the blue form called 2042. • 2042: The blue form that everyone has to complete. • 2042C Pro: The one to complete if you are self-employed or if you rent gîtes or chambre d’hôtes. • 2042RICI: To declare tax credit if employing a cleaner or gardener or doing ecological work on your main residence. • 2044: If your rental income is more than 15 000€ per year. • 3916: To declare your bank account abroad. Failure to do so could carry a fine of 1,500€ per bank account not declared. Provide the name and address of the bank and the account number. The exchange rate for 2018 is 1.13 (that is the average of last 42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019

year). Your local tax office will give you an exchange rate, but you don’t have to use it. Use it if it is lower than 1.13! If your pension has been directly transferred to your French bank account, just add up all the figures of last year. 4. What income? Pensions (even if they are taxed in the UK), salary, interest on savings (even ISA, which are not tax free in France), rental income, dividends, bonds, etc. Basically, anything that has been earning or making money for you. 5. Double taxation: There is a treaty between France and the UK that you cannot be taxed twice. You have to complete United Kingdom/France Double Taxation Convention (SI 2009 Number 226), which you can download. However, you can only fill in this form once you have been taxed in France as you have to provide your French tax reference. Then take it to the French tax office, who stamp it and send it to Paris, who send it to the UK. Six months later, you get reimbursed the tax you paid in the UK since you arrived in France. Because in France, you complete the form the year after you arrive and in the UK you pay tax at source, it means that the first year you are in France, you are paying tax twice but you then get reimbursed the tax you paid in the UK once you have a French tax reference. This is on the ‘Avis d’imposition’ that you receive in August/September of the year you fill in your first French tax form. Note: ex-civil servants, police, military etc. are taxed in the UK for their pension related to that government job. So, when they complete the French tax form, they fill in that pension revenue on a special section which gives them a tax credit equivalent to what the tax would have been in France. 6. Avis d’imposition: This is a very important document not to be lost! It proves you are a French resident and your revenue. If you want to get some social help in France (CMU, CAF, RSA, etc.), you have to show them this document. Some ISA savings account (LEP) are only available if you can show this document to your bank as it is only for people with low income. 7. This is the official website of the French tax authorities. You can download tax forms, fill them in online and also set up monthly direct debit for your taxe d’ habitation and taxe fonciere. Note: from 2019, everybody must fill in their income tax form online (unless it is the first time you fill in a form). 8. Help: I will be at the CLE tax seminar on the 29th April, to book a place: I will also hold a seminar with the association La Coq et la Rose on 7th May, 3pm in Paizay-Naudouin 16240. To book a place contact Liz Combes Free help completing the tax form for all my customers will be on 9th May, all day, in Ruffec (not lunch hours!) and 14th May, all day again, in Chasseneuil-sur-Bonnieure. Conclusion: It is an obligation! So if you live in France, you have to fill in a French tax form! Next month, when the new forms are available, I will explain how to fill them in and give you dates and places where I will be available for free help so don’t panic! And remember to check out our website for all my previous articles (practical information on the English site). Finally don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subjects such as Inheritance law, Funeral cover, French Tax, car, house, professional, travel, 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 W

by Amanda Johnson

hy is it important to have regular financial reviews?

Finding time in our busy schedules for reviewing our financial position is not always easy; however, here are some reasons why it is worth the effort and consideration in choosing who you should see: 1. Living in France, it is important to check that you are both tax compliant and tax-efficient, through proper use of savings allowances and being up to date on current tax rules. 2. Using a company that is regulated here in France means that your advice is specifically relevant to France.

Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email on the contacts below and I will be glad to help. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations. 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.

3. Choosing a financial adviser who is also an expatriate means there are no language barriers and you both understand the experience of what it is like to have moved countries. 4. Personal circumstances can change and regular reviews will make sure your finances are in line with your current needs. For example, you may have recently retired, be experiencing a change in your income or have just become a French resident.

Brain Gym: Q1: They are all beds. Q2: Beauty, because beauty is in the eye of the bee-holder! Q3: To see if the man would come to her sister’s funeral. Q4: You don’t knock on the door of your own room. Q5: ONE WORD. Q6: neophyte Q7: 3 (the grandfather is also a father and the father is also a son) Toughie Crossword: Theme - Seats/chairs Across: 1. pew 3. bath 5. cane 9. niece 10. rocking 11. milking stool 14. engine 15. enable 18. open cast mine 21. Ottoman 22. venue 23. form 24. safe 25. ack Down: 1. pine 2. weeding 3. breaking camp 4. throne 6. amigo 7. egg 8. acts in a movie 12. leer 13. veto 16. bonanza 17. Tsonga 19. enter 20. deck 21. off Easy Crossword: Across: 1. tamper 4. assume 8. spear 9. expense 10. plate 11. conduit 12. sceptical 15. exclude 16. state 17. acrobat 18. beret 19. Athens 20. resume Down: 2. ampule 3. practical joke 5. steadfastness 6. mosaic 7. peace treaty 13. exocet 14. stream

Take a Break - SOLUTIONs

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019| 43

Spot The Difference: 1: curtain pole 2: eyebrow 3: 79 on magazine 4: spot of chocolate on mouth 5: watch winder 6: carrot top on drink 7: bubble in drink 8: foot pad 9: patch on chair 10: egg under footstool Egg Hunt word: Chocolates Q8: a) Divide and Conquer b) On The Right Side Of The Law

One size does not fit all when it comes to investments

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks


here is no single investment solution that suits everyone; what will work for you depends on your objectives, situation and risk appetite. The same applies to any financial planning - whether you are looking at investments, tax planning, pensions or estate planning, your approach should be tailored for your circumstances.

Identifying your risk appetite Establish how much risk you are willing to take. In the current low-interest rate climate, some risk is necessary to achieve returns that will outpace inflation. But your investment decisions shouldn’t keep you awake at night, so it is essential to pinpoint the right risk/reward balance for you. It is difficult to effectively assess your own tolerance for risk. A financial professional is best placed to ask the right questions and use appropriate tools to create a clear and objective risk profile for you. Defining your time horizon Experts say ‘investing is a marathon, not a sprint’ for a good reason. With time, you can ride out market turbulence and benefit from compound returns. Understanding your time horizon is also key to future-proofing your investments so you can get hold of them when necessary. You never know when your plans may change unexpectedly, so hold some liquid assets that can be sold to release capital if needed. Reducing risk through diversification The higher your concentration in one area, the higher the risk. A good portfolio minimises risk by spreading investments across multiple areas

through diversification, by asset type - cash, fixed income (bonds), shares, property, etc., as well as by geographic region and market sector. You can diversify further by using a ‘multi-manager’ approach to spread investments out among different fund managers, each selected for their expertise in specific market sectors. Beware of ‘cherry picking’ the latest high performing fund - history shows plenty of examples where one year’s over-performing fund/sector significantly underperforms the next. The impact of taxation Don’t underestimate the effect of tax on your investments. Without suitable tax planning in place, you could find your returns are slashed by taxes that could have been avoided or significantly reduced. You can make the most of tax advantages in France and the UK with personalised advice from an adviser who specialises in both tax regimes. They can recommend tax-efficient structures that legitimately protect you and your heirs from paying more tax than necessary. Remember, your circumstances and objectives change over time, as can tax rules, market climates, etc., so what works for you now may not be suitable in years to come. Work with a financial adviser to regularly review how you manage your wealth to make sure it keeps up to date and remains suitable for you. All advice received from Blevins Franks is personalised and provided in writing. This article, however, should not be construed as providing any personalised taxation or investment advice. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

The B-word. What does it mean for you? Love it or hate it, there is no escaping it, so our spring seminars will take a close look at what Brexit means for UK nationals in France. While the key concerns for many expatriates are residence rights and healthcare, we will also consider how Brexit could affect pensions and discuss potential implications for taxation, estate planning and your savings and investments.


Thu 11 Apr Domaine de Presle SAUMUR (49) Fri 12 Apr Domaine Du Griffier NIORT (79) Registration 10 for 10.30am start, until 12 noon book your seat now

05 49 75 07 24 Online booking available from our website


I N T E R N AT I O N A L TA X A DV I C E • I N V E S T M E N T S • E S TAT E PL A N N I N G • PE N S I O N S Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (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 Trustees Limited is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority for the administration of trusts and companies. 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.

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ith the wonderfully warm weather earlier this year, everyone’s gardens - and projects - seemed to get off to a flying start! That may also have spurred you to think of a house move - somewhere where you can live very comfortably while earning an income from your home. It really is the ideal scenario for here, in Deux-Sèvres, we’re blessed with a great climate and easy access, an attractive option for visitors from both the UK and northern Europe, let alone escapees from Paris who desert their city in droves in August! This month we’ve picked out three properties which might tempt you to think of a new home, lifestyle and, best of all, income stream!

The little town of Argenton-l’Église sits at the northern proximity of Deux-Sèvres, not far as the crow flies from the grandeur of the Loire valley. It is here we have a gracious maison de maître for sale (Leggett ref: 94551, photo left) at 424 000€. In super condition, it has shining parquet floors, a magnificent staircase and elegant spaces with fine proportions. There are five bedrooms as well as a large convertible attic and cellars. There’s double glazing and central heating, a barn and outbuildings - there’s even a small private canal along the boundary and courtyard. But wait, there is more, an immaculate two bedroom house with its own courtyard is rented out for 500€ a month, a great steady income stream! In Souvigné, south of Saint-Maixent-l’Ecole, (Leggett ref: 94215, photo top right) is a lovely property with an already successful

holiday business. In a pretty 18th century Charentaise five bedroom farmhouse, the current owners have been running B&B in four rooms (all ensuite), with owners’ accommodation carefully separated. The first of the three gîtes is in a wing of the farmhouse, the second also has two bedrooms and the third, has one bedroom with luxurious ensuite. All with private terraces and come fully furnished in the sale price of 499 260€. Set in five acres there’s a heated swimming pool, organic vegetable garden and orchard. In a great location this is a fantastic business opportunity! And then in Exoudon, the prettiest character stone house (Leggett ref: 87521) provides our final great income opportunity with two gîtes. Just 4km to the historic village of La Mothe-Saint-Héray for local amenities it’s also minutes by car from Saint-Maixent. The main house is beautifully presented with four bedrooms, underfloor heating and woodburner set into a Charentaise stone fireplace. The first gîte has one generous bedroom with open plan living, the second, two bedrooms and even larger living room, both have their own outside terraces. There’s a swimming pool, outbuildings and a bread oven all set in beautifully manicured grounds - it’s on the market for 371 000€! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at


LE CHILLOU €104,445 Ref: 96380 Spacious 3 bed bungalow with double garage, garden, raised deck and valley views. 45kms from Poitiers.

Buying or selling? Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

Agency fees to be paid by the seller DPE: D

CHEY €278,200 Ref: 96826 Renovated farmhouse and gîte offering a total of 7 bedrooms. Nearly 2 acres plus a swimming pool. 7% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: N/A

LOUBILLE €108,900 Ref: 96616 Spacious 5 bed stone property, 8kms from Chef Boutonne. Surrounding garden, garage and workshop.

PLIBOUX €267,500 Ref: 96955 Stunning 3/4 bed barn conversion with pool and garage in a hamlet location. 53kms from Poitiers and airport.

CERIZAY €82,500 Ref: 96667 2/3 bed house with garage and courtyard, in the centre of a small town with all amenities.

CHEF BOUTONNE €449,925 Ref: 96510 Steeped in history - 5 bed / 3 bath house with gîte, outbuildings and gardens. Private setting within a town.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller DPE: C

7% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: C

10% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: E

Agency fees to be paid by the seller DPE: B

Starting a new life in France? Want a new career? Leggett are always looking to recruit new sales agents. Call us for more info 00 800 2534 4388 or email: +33 05 53 60 84 88 46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2019