The Deux-Sevres Monthly magazine April 2020 issue

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Welcome! to Issue 107 of

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

We have been working our way round our French farmhouse, renovating a room at a time and last month it was the turn of the bathroom. It wasn’t much to look at with its painted tiles of Lisbon and a galleon on the high seas, champagne coloured bath and OSB walls. But I have spent many a happy hour in that bathroom, soaking myself in the tub, polishing off a chapter or two as my skin begins to wrinkle and my fingertips resemble sultanas. Then Anna put her interior designer hat on. On these chilly nights I like to constantly top-up my cooling bath with hot water. I became skilled doing it with my foot. Now, instead of a bathtub against the wall, with tap at one end, the bath is like a small rowing boat in the middle of the room, with a tap positioned halfway down the side. If I want to top-up now, I not only have to use my hand, but also arch my midriff away from the scolding water in a very undignified fashion. It gets worse. On the old bath, the plug used to be at one end, near the tap, attached by a chain (again making foot operation possible). The new plug is now in the middle of bath and pressure operated. So I am constantly hearing a wooshing of water as my backside erroneously activates the plug. The old bath used to have handles to hold onto when I was getting in and out. You guessed it. The new one has nothing, just a very slippery surface. Part of me wants to fall and break a hip so I can prove to Anna that it is a death trap. Here’s the rub. Having completed the renovation we realized the light switch for the mirror was now inaccessible by the angled tub. Anna said it was possible to reach the switch by clinging onto the side of the window and reaching. I was not prepared to do this, particlarly after a hot bath, so have manufactured a ‘dibber’ (see picture) out of a piece of dowling rod and doorstop, for turning the light off without breaking my neck. Whatever changes you are going through this month I hope they go smoothly and you won’t need a metaphorical dibber. Why not run yourself a bath, relax and enjoy our April issue.

à la prochaine Stephen & Anna

Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:

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

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This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) Arbes et Abeilles (Plant nursery) ARB French Property Ark 79 Ark 79 Spring Fete Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Autentico (Paint specialists) Beaux Villages Immobilier BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management BM Construction Château de Saugé Vintage Tea Room Château l’Orangerie Chat-eau (Luxurious country cattery) Cherry Picker Hire Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Clean Sweep Chimney Services Cosmetic Contour Darren Lawrence Deux-Chèvres (Handyman) Discover Yoga ESCOVAL (The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire) Evélocation bicycle hire Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Gan Assurances (Thouars branch) Hallmark Electricité Helen Booth (deVere Group) Hiley Location HMJ (Renovation service) H&R Project Management (Building and renovations service) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon - the carpetman Keith Banks pool services KJ Painting and decorating La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction MD Project Management Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) ML Computers Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Naturalis Pools Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Painter Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) R J Coulson Building Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) SCP Louis Cagniart & Christel Roy Notaires Segora International Writing Competitions 2020 Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removal company Steve Coupland (Plumbing and renovations) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Strictly Roofing Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) TheatriVasles The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Hope Association Tim Electricien 79 Tony Wigmore (IT services) Town Renovations Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini (Translation Services)

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© Anna and Stephen Shaw 2020. 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 2020 - Tirage: En ligne seulement. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 3

What’s On... With restrictions placed on certain events and social gatherings due to the Coronavirus, please check events have not been cancelled before leaving the house.

4 - THEATRE TROUPE DE CHAIL perform three short plays at the Salle des Fêtes, Sainte-Soline starting at 8pm. For more information or to reserve tickets see the poster on page 6. 4 - THE MOUNTBATTENS - THEIR LIVES AND LOVES. Prize winning historian Andrew Lownie talks about his latest book at the Salle des Fêtes - Commune de Tusson, Grande Rue, 16140. Contact Kate at 5 - TRADITIONAL BRITISH SPRING FAYRE at Café Pause! Bar, stalls, Easter gift ideas and live music. 11am-5pm. Poster page 6. 5 - VIDE GRENIER in Saint Gelais. Poster on page 6. 5 - VIDE GRENIER in Asnières-en-Poitou from 7am-5pm. 5 - RAND’AU CHAMP in Saint Sauveur, Bressuire. Three circuits of 7, 10 and 15km with thematic stages. Departing between 8am-9.30am. Take part for 5€/free for under 12s. 8 - PETIT DE CLOWNS La Crèche (79), Salle de L’Hélianthe at 4pm. A clowning tale suitable for those above three-years-old. Tickets are 8€ and 6€ (concession), free for those under six. For more information tel: 06 82 44 65 37. 4-26 - L’ART ACCROCH - The 13th edition at the Commanderie des Antonins, Saint-Marc-la-Lande. This exhibition promotes the work of local amateur artists in a unique historical monument. For more information see page 11. 10 - NATURAL GARDENING in Les Châteliers. Expert composter shares his knowledge of good green waste and water management in the garden. Taking place at 6 rue du Jardin des Sense from 10am-5pm. For more information visit 11 - EASTER MARKET in Scillé (79240) from 10am (at the Salle des Fêtes behind la Mairie). 13 - EASTER FAIR in Airvault. Fair plus trade and craft fair at the Salle Augustin Bordage and Place des Promenades. Entertainment, pony rides, vintage car exhibition, musical show, funfair and vide grenier. 13 - FÊTE DES PLANTS in Pamproux. 16 - LITTLE WOMEN (Film in English) in the Salle Belle Epine, La Châtaigneraie at 8pm. For other VO cinemas see page 8. 18 - BEER TASTING in Mauléon. From 11am to 11pm at the Salle Augustine Vion, Moulins. 19 - HIKE ‘LA RANDO DU PETIT PRINCE’ in Breuil Chausée. Free for U12s. The 3km walk is suitable for pushchairs and is 3€ to take part. The 9,12 and 18km walks are 5€. Starts at 8am in Place de la Mairie. 25 - ARTISANAL HERB MARKET in Thouars. 25 - SPRING MARKET in Lorigné.

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

what’s COMING UP...

1 May - PLANT FESTIVAL in Le Beugnon (79130) all day. Over 60 plant-related exhibitors plus free workshops, presentations, tours and walks. See page 22 for more details. 4-5 - June - THEATRIVASLES PRESENTS SHIRLEY VALENTINE by Willy Russell. Performances will take place at 8pm. Tickets are 10€ and available from or by calling Dorothy on: 05 49 05 67 41.

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 & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Painting Workshops. Please see EVERY WEDs AT 2PM - 4PM - Charity shop, café and cats at the 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 Jane Trescothick: EVERY FRI 6PM-7.30PM - Line Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. Contact: or 05 49 10 37 80. EVERY SUN 2PM-5PM - Chats de Châtillon Adoption/Visiting afternoon. All other times tel: 06 85 63 55 94 EVERY OTHER THURS AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at La Table du Centre, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 2nd Tues of Month AT 8PM - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne. 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.


FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking

25 - CELESTIAL VOICES SINGING GROUP present JS Bach Magnificat in D and music by Fauré, Ravel, Gjeilo, Rutter and Hayes. Starts at 6pm in Saint Nicolas church, Civray. 28 - ARK 79 SPRING FETE in Sainte-Soline (79120). Tea and cakes, stalls, fish and chips, plants, bric-a-brac, books and DVDs. From 10am-4pm. For more information see poster on page 6.

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SAMU (Medical Advice) 12 Gendarmes (Police) Pompiers (Fire Service) 113

La Vendée Chippy

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

Weds: ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: , ‘Restaurant Les 3 Cocottes’, 69 route du lac, Mervent (formerly ‘La Bohème’) Date to be advised Fri: ‘Bar...Miton’, 14 rue Jean Marie Mellisson, Antigny Sat (last of month) : Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

OPEN mornings

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

European Emergency Drugs and Alcohol

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

Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) Beauvais-sur-Matha 17490 Ballans 17160 La Chapelle 16140 St Jean d’Angély 17400

Also Ark 79 events and Hope Association 3 Day Booksale in May and October.

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm

...april 2020 LOCAL MARKETS


Benet 85490 La Châtaigneraie (last Monday in month) 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) Antigny 85120 (1st and 3rd Fridays - pm) Saturdays........ Bressuire 79300 - and - Champdeniers 79220 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Airvault 79600 - and - Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l’École 79400 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 Ruffec 16700 Magné 79460 and Moncoutant 79320 Sundays............ Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600

CHURCH NOTICES... The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, holds English speaking services. The Filling Station - Poitou-Charentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. www. or Carolyn Carter on 05 45 84 19 03. ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre. We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St. Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship hold meetings throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. Contact Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit: The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun).

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2020 12 April 13 April 1 May 8 May 21 May 31 May 1 June 14 July 15 August 1 November 11 November 25 December

Easter Sunday (Pâques) Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Victory in Europe Day (Fête de la Victoire) Ascension Day (Ascension) Pentecost (Pentecôte) Pentecost (Lundi de Pentecôte) Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) Assumption of Mary (Assomption) All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël) (Dates in bold=Public holidays)

TOP HAT QUIZ Nights 1: 6: 13:

Aigre Limalonges Theil Rabier

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm



Mon: Charroux Tues: Sauzé-Vaussais (main square) Weds: Chef Boutonne (near château) Thurs: Sauzé-Vaussais - Eve (main square) Fri: Ruffec (Baobab car park)

Every Tuesday: Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes L'Embuscade 5.30 - 8pm Takeaway only as the restaurant is closed

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

Tel: 06 23 25 48 36

OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 5

Getting Out & About

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 2020

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

FREE ENTRY TO THE DSM ONLINE BUSINESS DIRECTORY Simply register on our website: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 7

Letter from Blighty

h Marc

Dear Frankie Thank goodness we have seen the back of February, which was horribly wet, extremely windy but, oddly, unseasonably warm. Some of the wet, wind and warm has continued into March but at a less aggressive rate (so far). Mother Nature has ignored all that and daffodils, hyacinths and hellebores are all abloom, together with early flowering trees and forsythia. Boris Johnson is having trouble back home. His new Home Secretary, Priti Patel, is accused of a pattern of bullying her civil servants; the Government lost its case in the Court of Appeal about going ahead with the third runway at Heathrow because ministers had failed to take into account the Paris Agreement on climate change; the first of Dominic Cummings’ ‘misfits and weirdos’ to be appointed as advisers to No.10 had to be sacked for earlier comments which were judged to be ‘beyond the pale’; and today there is a rumour that Dillon, the pet dog recruited to No.10 by Boris and his now pregnant girlfriend, may have to go because he makes too much mess in their apartment. And the press is now awash with talk and speculation about the Coronavirus which is stalking the world, and has reached these islands, so far in a relatively small way. The virus seems very infectious and apparently one can have it for four days without feeling any the worse for it. No wonder it spreads so rapidly once it gets hold. For example, Nadine Dorries, a junior health minister, has just been diagnosed with the virus and she had been in contact in recent days with hundreds of people in her constituency, in Parliament and at a reception in Downing Street. How do you begin to track down the many contacts she will have had during that time? Enough of all this gloomy talk! How about some lighter items? For example, did you know that 65 feral chickens have been culled in Jersey (where there are no foxes), because they crow in the middle of the night, wreck gardens, and are a danger to traffic? The comedian Eddie Izzard, aged 58, has recently completed 28 marathons in 28 countries in 28 days. And Nik Wallenda walked 1,800 feet on a high wire over a volcano in Nicaragua. It took him 31 minutes and he had to wear breathing apparatus and eye protection. Crazy, both of them! A business owner in Basildon thwarted a knife-wielding robber, who demanded his expensive Rolex, by taking the watch off and throwing it on to the roof of a nearby building. The robber grabbed a laptop instead and the owner of the watch has since safely retrieved the timepiece . How’s that for quick thinking? A pig swallowed a pedometer and sparked a fire in a farm near Leeds. The pig had taken the pedometer, used to prove that the animals were free-range, off another pig, had digested and excreted it. Copper from the pedometer’s battery apparently caught fire with the pigs’ dry hay bedding.


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

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Just room to mention the following recent deaths: Pearl Carr (aged 98), singer, famous for her singing partnership with her husband Teddy Johnson. Hosni Mubarak (aged 92), long-serving President of Egypt, accused of brutality and corruption but used by the British as a bulwark against Islamic extremism. Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, (aged 100), Secretary General of the UN during the Falklands War. Wilfred De’Ath (aged 82), vagrant, scrounger, and ex-BBC producer turned columnist for the Oldie. Caroline Flack (aged 41), the winner of Strictly Come Dancing in 2014 and presenter of Love Island. And, finally, a good joke (well, I think so, anyway) to end with. A driver, hearing a traffic alert, ‘A man is driving the wrong way on a motorway’ shouts back, ‘There’s not one. There’s hundreds of them’! Keep smiling, Frankie. Yours Johnny

Chocolate Fish and Cake stuffed with Prunes by Sue Burgess


oisson d’avril (April Fish). Notice anyone laughing at you on 1 April? You probably had a paper fish stuck to your back. As in England, French youngsters and adults too for that matter, like to play practical jokes on 1 April. Children cut out paper fish and try to stick them on your back. Then run away yelling “Poisson d’avril !”

Perhaps you heard an odd story on the local radio or saw a strange photo in the local newspaper. Keep your eyes and ears open and look out for the poisson d’avril. Chocolate fish (poisson en chocolat) are very popular on 1 April and friture (small chocolate fish) can be bought in most bakeries for this day. French Easter customs are a little different too. It’s not the Easter rabbit who brings the Easter eggs but the church bells (Les cloches). Tradition says that church bells fly off to Rome on Good Friday (Vendredi saint) to be blessed and drop the chocolates in the garden as they fly back on Easter morning. Egg hunts are organised on Easter day. Chocolate rabbits, hens, eggs and bells are popular. Good Friday is NOT a bank holiday here, Easter Monday is. A great number of French people eat lamb on Easter Sunday with mojettes (white beans which are a specialty of the Vendée and the Marais Poitevin areas) or flageolets another type of bean. Almost as important as Easter Sunday (le dimanche de Pâques) in the French Catholic Church calendar is Rameaux (Palm Sunday). The Passion is read before the congregation 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, we can enjoy le pâté de Pâques. A sort of meat pie with sausage meat and hard boiled eggs.

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: poisson d’avril ............................. equivalent of April Fools les cloches ................................. church bells Vendredi saint............................. Good Friday Dimanche de Pâques ..................

Easter Sunday

la Semaine sainte .......................

Holy Week

une chasse aux oeufs................... Easter egg hunt un panier ...................................


le lapin de Pâques....................... Easter rabbit l’agneau ..................................... lamb joyeuse fête de Pâques ..............

happy Easter The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 9

22 April – World Earth Day by Beryl Brennan

22 April 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of World Earth Day and as the official website states ‘Climate change represents the biggest challenge to the future of humanity and the life-support systems that make our world habitable’. Many tend to think that awareness of the importance of the environment in which we live is a relatively new phenomenon, but on this day, in 1970, 20 million Americans took to the streets in organized rallies to demand a cleaner environment. This in a country which is famous for oil spills, air pollution through factories and freeways, pesticides, toxic dumps and a current president who, in 2012, famously said “climate change was created by and for the Chinese in order to make US manufacturing non-competitive” and “global warming is a hoax”. Indeed, as far back as 1962 awareness of public concern for life on this planet including the environment, was linked to pollution and public health in a New York Times publication ‘Silent Spring’ by Rachel Carson. There were 195 signatories to the Paris Agreement on 22 April 2016, including the US and China which together contribute nearly 40% of the largest greenhouse emissions. Russia and India are also big polluters and signatories too. At the time, President Obama committed the US to contributing $3 billion to the Green Climate Fund. On 12 June 2017, President Trump announced that the US would cease all participation in the Paris Agreement. Many countries in the West are tackling pollution and increasing their commitments to the 2016 Paris Agreement. The largest

Our Friend in the North

by Justin Wescombe


othing beats spring, if only for the change from the flat monotones of winter to the full palette of pastels that emerge at this most beautiful time of year. Unfortunately, it means that I can no longer put off the long list of jobs that I have avoided over the last few months by relying on feeble excuses: too dark or too cold. It is time for the list that has mysteriously burrowed its way to the back of the desk drawer to be retrieved and smoothed out. Like a kid shirking homework, I will then spend time prioritising and reprioritising the tasks. This can take all morning as there are difficult decisions to be made, do I arrange the tasks in order of: estimated time for completion, cost, alphabetical or choose some other factor? I have tried all variants but nothing seems to make any of them magically disappear. Once outside, I feel a sense of virtue as I watch others walking past enjoying the sunshine or, heading into the square for a coffee. I like to give a slightly superior smirk to acknowledge their admiring glances at my work clothes, or the fact I hold the ladder like a true professional. It is imperative that I am dressed appropriately and so I have spent at least an hour choosing the right clothes that combine urban sophistication with a touch of proletarian utility. I am never without a tape measure, especially useful to measure things, and a lovingly sharpened pencil stuck behind my ear, ready to be flourished at a moment’s notice. Sometimes I will make marks on bits of wood or nearby walls, using complex codes which are full of meaning at the time but are quickly forgotten. I used to carry an amp meter and one of those little screwdriver things which lights up when the electricity is turned on. I felt they added

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

polluters and the Far East ignore the call to meet the climate crisis and seriously consign current and future generations to a barren planet. Some alarming facts about the environment: • 27,000 trees are cut down each day for toilet paper. • 80 trillion aluminium cans are used by humans every year. • A glass bottle will take more than 4,000 years to decompose. • Only 1% of our planet’s water supply can be used. 97% is ocean water and 2% is frozen solid in the Arctic, for now. • An estimated 50,000 species inhabiting our tropical forests become extinct annually. That’s an average of 137 species a day. • Rainforests are cut down at a rate of 100 acres per minute. • The world’s oldest trees are more than 4,600 years old. • Landfills are composed of 35% packaging materials. • If the entire world’s ice melted, our sea levels will rise by 66 metres • Plastic is forever. It doesn’t biodegrade and go back to nature. It photodegrades into smaller pieces of itself. Go Greta! ©Wikicommons/Anders Hellberg

another dimension to my obvious talent but quickly hid them away after I was asked if I could help check a circuit. However, the most important accessory is the hat. A flat cap means I am serious and should not be disturbed but my favourite, for some stupid reason, is an old Panama hat which is always worn when painting. It is totally impractical but I feel it gives me the right air of authority and authenticity. Every wall becomes a canvas and I am no longer a bodger who spills paint everywhere but Van Gogh or Jackson Pollock. I have tried sunglasses, the aviator type worn by Tom Cruise, but even I realised they made me look ridiculous especially when splattered by drops of paint. After a day of hard work, only broken by numerous cups of tea and long discussions with anyone passing about how hard I am working, what a good job I am doing and the incredible progress that I am making - I step back to look with pride at my handiwork. It takes but a second for me to realise that I really should call in the professionals. Fortunately, I have them on speed-dial, leaving me plenty of time to update my increasingly long list of very important jobs for the summer.

To read Justin’s blog go to

French Engineering Marvel of the month: The Palais Garnier - The Paris Opera Considering the average lifespan of a theatre in the 19th century was 13 years because of the likelihood of a fire, it’s amazing that the Palais Garnier (named after its architect Charles Garnier 1825-1898) is still standing 150 years later. Design competition - Applicants were given a month to submit entries and Garnier’s design was selected from 170 submitted. The opera includes elements from the Baroque, the classicism of Palladio, and Renaissance architecture blended together. These were combined with axial symmetry and modern techniques and materials, including the use of an iron framework, which had been pioneered in other Napoleon III buildings. The building - The opera house needed a much deeper basement in the substage area than other buildings, but the level of the groundwater was unexpectedly high. Wells were sunk and eight steam pumps installed, but the site would not dry up. To deal with this, Garnier designed a double foundation to protect the superstructure from moisture. It incorporated a watercourse and an enormous concrete cistern which would both relieve the pressure of the external groundwater on the basement walls and serve as a reservoir in case of fire. Despite being best friends with Gustave Eiffel, Garnier hated iron and covered the grand staircase area with marble to mask the metal. When the paintings above the staircase (by Isidore Pils) were first fixed in place, it was obvious to Garnier they were too dark for the space. Pils had to rework the canvases while they were on the ceiling and, at the age of 61, he fell ill. His students had to finish the work, which was completed the day before the opening. The Opera House inauguration 1875 © wikicommons

On 20 May 1896, one of the seven-ton bronze and crystal chandelier’s counterweights broke free and burst through the ceiling into the auditorium, killing a concierge. This incident inspired one of the more famous scenes in Leroux’s classic 1910 gothic novel The Phantom of the Opera. The ceiling area which surrounds the chandelier was originally painted by Jules Eugène Lenepveu. In 1964 controversially a new ceiling painted by Marc Chagall was installed over the original. Interesting facts: • The opera house was built for Napoleon III but he never attended. • The stage (the largest in Europe) measures 52m wide by 62m high and could fit the Arc de Triomphe inside. • Garnier bought his own ticket on opening night. • The underground lake is still used for training firefighters to practice swimming in the dark. • The 2,000 auditorium seats are red because it was believed women looked more beautiful on red. • Avoid purchasing tickets for box number 5 as that was reserved for the Phantom.

April’s front cover


he Château de Javarzay in the commune of Chef-Boutonne incorporates the remains of an earlier castle comprising an enceinte flanked by twelve towers, of which only two remain. The castle was reconstructed in 1514 by members of the House of Rochechouart. The property has had numerous owners including in 1785, Joseph Michel Le Blois, advocate at the military tribunals during the French Revolution. What remains of the château is the building which joins the two towers and the chapel. The left wing has been destroyed and the right wing is a later construction. The enceinte was demolished between 1820 and 1824. The orangery dates from 1854. The Château de Javarzay is the property of the commune and was classified as a historical monument in 1862. The surrounding park is open to the public every day, free of charge. Numerous walks are possible around the fish lake, along the Boutonne, as well as discovery walks. A visit to the Château de Javarzay also includes the headdress museum with a remarkable collection of nearly 400 antique headdresses and hats from several French regions as well as a permanent exhibition dedicated to the life and work of Jean François Cail (1804-1871), a great 19th century industrialist (railways, sugar, agriculture), born in Chef-Boutonne. For more information go to:

L’Art Accroch

by Howard Needs


he 13th edition of L’Art Accroch at the Commanderie des Antonins, Saint-Marc-la-Lande organized by the association Maison du Patrimoine will reopen on Saturday 4 April.

This exhibition by local amateur artists promotes encounters between the public, artists and their work in a unique historical monument. This 13th edition will honour the visual dialogue established between Anita Lucet-Parisot (painter) and Uriel Parisot (photographer), for their photo/painting exhibition RemarquArbres (remarkable trees of the Deux-Sèvres). L’Art Accroch will also bring together the works of around twenty amateur artists. The variety of techniques and subjects but also media used, makes it possible to present an exhibition rich in artistic diversity. Opening in the presence of the artists on Saturday 11 April at 3pm. The exhibition runs from 4-26 April, from Wednesday to Sunday, 2pm-6pm. Free admission. The Commanderie des Antonins - association Maison du Patrimoine

For further information tel: 05 49 63 43 31 or go to The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 11

. . . e c e e r G o t Gone une! th and 5th J 4 Back on

by Sue Fitzgerald


e’re delighted to bring you the news that TheatriVasles will be back on stage this summer bringing you Willy Russell’s highly acclaimed, award winning Shirley Valentine. We’re in no doubt that after a wet and stormy winter, it’s high time we escaped to the sunshine and sunbeds of a Greek island paradise!

Why not make the most of the summer evenings and join us in the theatre bar before the show to get into the mood? We can’t promise you egg and chips, but there’ll definitely be a glass of something refreshing and a very warm welcome.

As the story opens, we meet Shirley, a middle-aged Liverpool housewife, who’s feeling stagnant and stuck in a rut in her empty nest, preparing egg and chips for her emotionally distant husband. When the opportunity arises to leave Merseyside behind for a holiday in Greece, Shirley leaves a note on the kitchen table ‘Gone to Greece back in two weeks.’ and heads for the sun, where she starts to see the world and herself in a very different light and leaves egg and chips far behind.


A captivating, witty and uplifting comedy, Shirley Valentine had a blockbusting run in the West End before being made into a highly successful film. Join us at the theatre in Vasles, 79340 to continue the adventure.

Nicky Marshall who will be playing Shirley Photograph: Steve Marshall

Performances will take place on Thursday 4 and Friday 5 June at 8pm. Tickets are 10€ and available from or by calling Dorothy on: 05 49 05 67 41.

Tickets 10€ Theatre Maison du Village Place 25 Aout, 79340 VASLES

For more information visit or find us on Facebook


05 49 05 67 41

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

Performances Thursday June 4th 8pm Friday June 5th 8pm

An update from Association Violet


by Team Violet

n 2019 62-year-old David Jeapes successfully completed his amazing 1 million step challenge Walking For Violet. He travelled from his home in the Deux-Sèvres to his granddaughter Violet’s home in Sussex. During the year, donations were received directly from individuals and businesses and through fundraising events of all shapes and sizes, plus raffles, garage sales, hampers, change jars, sweepstakes and an anonymous benefactor, all of which helped us raise an outstanding 27,543€. • •

£2,381.42 was donated to Charity for Kids. A UK (Hastings) based charity, which supports children with disabilities. 2,643.37€ was donated to APEEIMC, a French charity that provide respite for families with children living with Cerebral Palsy and fight for equal rights for disabled children.

The remainder was transferred to Violet’s parents for equipment and to help with the necessary adaptations to the family home to make Violet’s life easier. This helps enormously as Violet’s parents are aiming to save £30-40,000 and apply for a council grant to make the adaptations, which are numerous and expensive: widen door frames, install hoist tracking and hoists, create a wet room, adapt the garden to ensure it is flat for walking, ramps if needed, potentially a sunken trampoline as Violet is getting too heavy to lift onto a normal one. Perhaps a hot tub for hydro and relaxing muscles. Plus the equipment needed for Violet’s care as she grows, including a standing frame, an all-terrain wheelchair, special boots and epilepsy monitor/camera system.) On behalf of Violet and her family, Charity for Kids and APEEIMC - an enormous thankyou for your support and donations, the money we ALL raised really will make a difference. In 2020 Association Violet will continue to raise money to support Violet and other charities that help disabled children and their families. In the meantime, we have some exciting events planned for 2020, so SAVE THE DATES. More information will be available on our Facebook page - if you want to take part, please let us know. • • • •

24 May - PESCALIS 79320 - Sponsored walk around the beautiful lakes in Moncoutant 5 July - Puy Hardy (Puihardy) 79160 - Garden party with cream teas 13 September - Saint Pardoux 79310 - Summer fair and fun dog show 27 September - Saint-Maurice-Étusson 79150 - Portes ouvertes and Autumn fête at TLC gîtes

Plans for smaller events are ongoing and anyone who has an idea for fundraising, wants to help or just want to follow us, please like/ follow our Facebook page. Contact us by email or facebook: Association number: W793005002

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor

‘Spring forward, fall back’. Why do we do it? - twice a year we have to change every single clock in the house, and there’s always one that you forget! It’s not as if we come into line with the UK, because of course they change their clocks on exactly the same day. I’ve heard so many theories about why we change the hour - saving on electricity costs, children going to/returning from school, tractors in the fields, the list goes on and on, but surely, what you gain at one end of the day, you lose at the other… Having said that, I do appreciate the extra hour’s light in the evenings. Being on the west coast of France, we already gain about 40 minutes over the east of the country, but I’m greedy when it comes to sunlight and enjoy every minute I can get! Our lives are ruled by the clock, but it’s interesting how the rules vary in different countries. We’ve just returned from a few weeks’ holiday in Spain where we learnt the hard way about opening and closing times. Having finally got used to France’s obsession with a two hour lunch break from noon until 2pm, we deliberately waited until after lunch to visit the local post office to buy stamps for our family postcards (yes, I still send postcards!) only to find that all post offices in Spain close for the day at 2.30pm! The great thing about being on holiday though is that, by and large, you don’t have to worry about the time. In fact I didn’t even wear a watch most days, which was strangely liberating! Funnily enough, our two dogs, who are never knowingly governed by the clock, seemed to automatically know that teatime was miraculously one hour earlier on 29 March; stomach clocks are obviously far cleverer than the clocks in our house that need to be changed manually! PS On a personal note, the hour change, or Daylight Saving Time (DST) as it’s generally known, creates a bit of confusion in our family: • Our daughter lives in the UK, so at least her hour changes on the same day as ours. • Our son lives in Sydney, Australia, where the hour changes on 5 April. • David’s sisters live in Perth, Western Australia, where there is no DST. Thank heavens for emails and whatsapp! Time for some interesting facts: • Time passes faster for your face than your feet (assuming you’re standing up). You age quicker from the top down. • When the dinosaurs were alive, there were 370 days in a year. • The smallest standard scientific measure of time is the Planck time. It takes you about five hundred and fifty thousand trillion trillion trillion Planck times to blink once, quickly. • Because light takes time to reach us, everything we see is in the past. The sun you can see out of the window is eight minutes and 20 seconds old. Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 13

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.

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

Craft Café Creatif

Do you enjoy knitting or sewing in the company of others? Join us in L’Absie for an enjoyable afternoon over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. For details contact Mary Phillips on email: 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:

Les Amis Solitaires

We are a group of people living alone in France. We meet up for coffee mornings from 11am, every 2nd & 4th Thursday at The Lemon Tree in Sauzé Vaussais. More details from Gwen on 05 49 07 58 46 or email:

Amateur woodturners/woodworkers interested in joining our association ‘Faisons des Copeaux’. Any level of ability from debutant to experienced. We meet Wednesdays & Thursdays, 2-5pm, every 2 weeks. Contact Roland 05 49 96 44 10, preferably evenings.

CSDS LATEST NEWS by Carol Andrews - Secretary CSDS

Towards the end of February we held our Annual General meeting. We have elected the same bureau as last year, President Denise Langford, Vice-president Vinny Galloway, Treasurer Jane Sanders, Secretary Carol Andrews. At the meeting we discussed our plans for 2020, it is hoped that during the year we will have a presence at a few vide-greniers so that people can talk to us, ask questions and meet some of the team, there might even be cake on offer! Dates and venues yet to be decided. We continue our affiliation with Cancer Support France , having had some very valuable meetings and training with them during 2019 . So all it remains is for the team to say thank you for all your support during the last year and hope for the rain to stop soon!

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

Want to keep fit, have fun and make new friends? Join us at Vasles Netball Club (no experience necessary). We meet every Monday from 5.30-7pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles. For more information contact Lynn on 05 49 63 52 39 or mobile 0044 7527490241

Franglais at Bressuire

Why not come and practise your French with a friendly and convivial group of French and English speakers? Each Wednesday evening (8-10pm) at the Centre Socio-Culturel in Bressuire. Phone Jan for further details 05 49 65 60 34.


with a friendly group of French and English speakers. Each Wednesday at 7.30pm at the Salle des Fêtes, Veluché 79600. Call Christian for more details: 05 49 63 04 78

Chorale Mélusine, Parthenay

French 4-part choir established over 30 years (with 2 English members) always looking for “new blood”! Excellent Musical Director. Come to a rehearsal and see for yourselves. Contact Keith for more info 05 49 69 14 89 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

TTL Photography Group

Local photography group on the Deux-Sèvres/Vendée border. New members always welcome, all levels of expertise and knowledge. We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 1pm at Pause! L’Absie (79240). Feel free to pop in and join us.


Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon 2-6pm in CIVRAY. Lessons available free. Call Marian Green on: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: Tai Chi Classes - Exercise for both body and mind (and memory) for everyone. Classes are held in Bressuire on Mondays at 7.30pm and also in Le Breuil Barret on Wednesdays at 3pm. Call Terry on 05 49 65 60 34, email or see

Pure Fitness

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


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?

Bridge Players Wanted

A small, friendly bridge group are looking for new players in the Parthenay area. We are friendly and informal and we are keen to welcome all levels of players. Contact Richard Knight via email or 05 49 69 18 65

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet (Saint-Loup-Lamairé)


by Sue Burgess

The keep of the old château. The inventory of the château done in 1748, means that we know a lot about the rooms of the old château. The grande tour, that is to say the main tower mentioned above is listed. This tower consisted of a cellar, ground floor and three other floors above, each of which had a bedroom. The first and second floors were the valets’ chambers and the third floor a prison. It seems that it was used as a prison at least for the first half of the 18th century. Nothing in the inventory refers to the château in the medieval period, and it is quite possible that the original building had been modified several times before the inventory was carried out. aint-Loup-sur-Thouet is situated in the north-east of the DeuxSèvres, at the point where the Thouet and the Cebron rivers meet.

The town is built directly on hard granite rocks situated in the bottom of the valley surrounded by hills. The town centre is about 74m above sea-level whereas the hills on each side of it are between 110m and 140m above sea-level, and the highest point is at 162m. The river Thouet was not used for navigation but to operate watermills. The river forms a large loop through Saint-Loup. The two rivers, the Thouet and the Cebron bring constraints to SaintLoup as well as advantages. The rivers were a natural defensive barrier in the Middle Ages. They made the surrounding land fertile thus making everyday life easier for locals. But the proximity of both rivers has caused flooding on several occasions over the centuries. The Cebron dam has certainly helped in controlling the flooding but as it did not exist in medieval times, parts of the town must have frequently had to be rebuilt. Saint-Loup developed in two stages during the medieval period. The first development was within a castle grounds. The second phase in the 15th century was built around the north-south axis which is formed by the rue Théophane-Vénard today. The perpendicular roads which cross the high street appeared in the 15th century. There are still timber-framed houses. The first written record of Saint-Loup comes from the charter of Airvault Abbey between 1095 and 1096. In 1422 the spelling ‘Saint-Lou’ was used and ‘Sainct-Lou’ in 1482. In modern times we find ‘SaintLoup-sur-Thouet’ and more recently ‘Saint-Loup-Lamairé, as the commune of Lamairé was attached to Saint-Loup a few years ago. Until the beginning of the 1970s and their fusion, Lamairé and Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet were two distinct communes. A voir / Must see • Several old houses including the former Hôtel du Parquet with its timber frames. Many houses are listed historical monuments. • Maison Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil de la Fraternité de la Transfiguration. • As other villages of the Thouet valley, Saint-Loup-Lamairé is crossed by the GR36 walking route. Le Château de Saint-Loup. Apart from a tower not much remains of the old château which was probably built by Jean or Amaury de Dercé.

A plan dating from 1740 shows that the town was fortified in medieval times. The fortifications probably extended from the château in the north, to the Porte de la Roche on the south-east. On the western side traces of town walls have been found along la place des Poulies. No moat is shown and we can suppose that the river and the canal were defence enough. The town gate at Porte de la Roche allowed access to Crémille or Lamairé. The second gate was at the north-east and was called Porte Saint-Jean. It was destroyed in 1830. It allowed access to Airvault and Assais through what is now rue Jacques de Boyer. The château is privately owned today and is a bed and breakfast complex. At the Christmas market, the château is lit up. Notre-Dame church An old church existed within the old château walls. This was destroyed and the current church dates from the second half of the 15th century. The church is basically built in the shape of a cross. There is one wide nave which originally had a wooden vaulted roof whereas the altar area was vaulted in stone. A lot of renovation work was done after 1877. The old facade was demolished and replaced with a new one with a more decorative door and window, which are in the flamboyant gothic style of the 15th century. There is now a spire and the windows were altered and replaced. The old parish cemetery was not far from the church where la place du Docteur-Bouchet is now. Famous people and interesting facts • François Arouet, Voltaire’s grandfather, was born about 1605 in Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet. The Arouet family were leather workers, tanners and cloth merchants. • Saint Théophane Vénard (1829-1861), a French missionary, was born in Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet. He was martyred in Africa. There is a monument to him in the church. • Chantal Goya, a French singer known for childrens’ songs, once owned the château. • The château is reputed to be the one that the Puss in Boots fairytale is based on. • An art festival and competition takes place at the end of June. The town is full of painters who set up their easels around the town. • In early December Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet Christmas market is the largest in the area. There are usually over 100 stalls. Le Château de Saint-Loup lit up at the Christmas market (top left), the château and the old tower of the old château (bottom left), the river Thouet (middle) and the railway bridge crossing the weir (bottom right). All photos by Sue Burgess.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 15

Hobbies Setting it out professionally - fiction. by Alison Morton


f you’re sending your completed novel to an agent or publisher, you will put yourself well ahead of others if you set it out in the standard publishing industry format. It shows you’ve done your research and taken a professional approach. Of course, any publisher will format it in their house style if they take it on, but it’s wise to start in the expected way. In general, you are asked to send in the first 50 pages or three chapters plus a one-page synopsis of the story. This varies from agent to agent and publisher to publisher, so do check on their website and send exactly what they ask for. The pages of your story should be set out in one-and-a-half or double spacing. This looks weird at first, but you get used to it. These days it’s a simple ‘Select All’ and change the line spacing function in the paragraph dialog box operation. Use a standard serif font like Cambria, Times New Roman, or Garamond and 12pt size. Points are deducted for Comic Sans or green ink! Down to the nitty-gritty British typesetting uses single speech marks for dialogue and double for quotes within dialogue. And your dialogue should be indented so it’s easily visible. You can make this default by using the ‘First line indent’ selection in the Paragraph dialog box. Each time you do a return, the next line will automatically indent. Ditto for the start of a new paragraph, except for the first one in a new chapter or after a scene break. There is no need to make any line break except at the end of a scene when you want to go to another location or start the next scene further on in time within the same chapter. Complicated? I thought so at first, but once you get used to it, it will come naturally. You can research this layout in the paperbacks on your bookshelves, but here’s an example from my novel AURELIA which starts a new chapter: ----‘What are you doing here, my girl, sitting on your backside?’ a strident voice rang out. I jumped, tipping my magazine onto the terrace. I twisted round ready to shout back, but stopped, my mouth open. Justina. Hades. I struggled up from the sun lounger and the shade of the patio awning. Still dozy and squinting from the strong sunlight, I made a half-coordinated bow. ‘Better. Wonderful you haven’t got piles from all this sitting around.’ ‘I—’ She put her hand up and I collapsed into silence. ‘You looked half asleep at the last council meeting. I know your reform proposal for the vigiles got dumped in the bin, but don’t tell me you’re moping about that.’ She glanced indoors and I saw the two Praetorians exchanging remarks with Milo, who was nodding every now and then. ----You’ll also see that foreign language words are written in italics. Although a sprinkle of non-English words can add flavour, it’s wise to keep them to a minimum and, if necessary, find a roundabout way using context to explain them. But the odd bonjour, salve or guten Tag is fine. In fiction manuscripts, it’s usual not to justify the text to the right as well unless the agent or publisher asks you to. But for non-fiction it’s altogether different - something we can look at next month. 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. Her ninth book in the Roma Nova thriller series, NEXUS, came out last September. 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to David Edge and Vronni Ward for sharing their book review with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

DISHONESTY IS THE SECOND BEST POLICY AND OTHER RULES TO LIVE BY by David Mitchell If you were looking for some kind of encyclopaedia of David Mitchell’s thoughts on everything from Brexit and Politics to Scampi, the Olympics and rude street names then look no further! You have found it. The thoughts of Chairman David are always entertaining to hear. I feel I am safe in that assumption because if you think otherwise, you won’t even be reading this review. This is a man who can rant about salad cream but the cleverest part is that half way through that rant, you will be agreeing with him! My only gripe with it is that sometimes - just sometimes - I did start to feel irritated by the slightly contrived nature of Mitchell’s indignation. Occasionally it feels as though he is trying to be too clever for his own good. However, do not let me put you off. This may well be a failing on my part. It is not a publication to be read voraciously from cover to cover in one sitting. It is more something to dip into like a light dessert after a good meal. ‘Dishonesty’ began as a series of articles in The Guardian so as a collection it can feel somewhat disjointed, but enjoy it a bit at a time and it cannot fail to raise a chuckle or three! by David Edge

BIRDS WITHOUT WINGS by Louis de Bernières I borrowed this book from my son’s boyfriend’s bookshelf and wow what a read. This is the author’s first novel since Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (you may have seen the excellent film with Nicolas Cage). I knew nothing about the last years of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of modern Turkey or Greece for that matter. I knew there is no love lost between the two. By reading this book, I understand more. It gives us a great insight into the Muslim-Christian question. Set in the peaceful, fictional village of Eskibahçe (meaning the Garden of Eden) in southwest Turkey and home to Turkish Muslims and Greek Christians who have lived for centuries side by side and tolerate each other’s beliefs and religions. We get to know the village and its people, its customs, superstitions and traditions. Themes include: beauty, birth, a parent’s love, brotherly love, friendship, unrequited lovers, addiction, the reality of death, of old age and the brutality of untimely death. We fall in love with a host of colourful characters. When war is declared and the outside world intrudes, the twin scourges of religion and nationalism lead to forced marches and massacres, and the peaceful life is destroyed. This book is an elegy to a lost way of life in the Eastern Mediterranean. Its core themes set in the early 20th century are as relevant today as then. An unforgettable read. by Vronni Ward


Calling All Cricketers!

by James Luxford

We’ve got heroes both fictional and factual in this month’s round up of big screen delights! BLOODSHOT (Out Now) Vin Diesel attempts to kick off another franchise as comic book hero Bloodshot, a soldier killed in action who is reborn as a superhero. A hum-drum action thriller repackaged with a superhero theme, a wretched script and clunky plot make this a forgettable entry into the cinema pantheon that only Diesel purists will be fond of. Perhaps the biggest casualties of Bloodshot’s carnage are Guy Pearce and Toby Kebbell, great actors reduced to roles that are far beneath them as a sinister scientist and a disposable villain respectively. THE SECRET GARDEN (8 April) The umpteenth adaptation of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s novel, about an orphan sent to live with her uncle on his British country estate, only to find a stunning secret garden hidden within. There isn’t much here that hasn’t been done by the various other adaptations of the book (last adapted in 1993 starring Dame Maggie Smith). Still, it’s a gorgeous looking movie with a strong cast - Colin Firth is perfect as the aloof uncle, while the always excellent Julie Walters shines as housekeeper Mrs Medlock. A familiar but fun fantasy for the whole family. A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD (22 April) Tom Hanks plays one of the most cherished figures in American culture in this story of children’s TV host Fred Rogers, and the journalist whose life is changed when he was sent to interview him. Rogers’ story has been told more thoroughly in the amazing documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbour? However, who can resist Hanks playing the one person who is perhaps more beloved than he is. An uplifting movie about the power of kindness, something we can all do with more of.


by Philip Bailey

etosse Cricket Club is based in the village near Fontenay-leComte and is the only cricket club in the Vendée. It was formed several years ago by a group of expats with a love of the game, being based initially in Maillé. The current venue had a large playing field that had been neglected for some years but constant hard work including mole trapping, using an antique heavy roller and regular weeding and feeding has improved the square considerably, if not quite to Test Match standards! The club prides itself on the friendly and welcoming atmosphere and boasts currently players from England, France and as far afield as Afghanistan! However, whilst the majority of the players are extremely young at heart (not to mention full of enthusiasm) their physical shape does not always match up! Captain Hugh Armitage quipped, “Many of our players are either retirees or fast approaching and whilst the flesh is willing even putting pads on causes aches and pains! “Consequently, our matches tend to be played at a leisurely pace, although we are none the less competitive. Some of our players have participated at a good standard in their youth and that experience is invaluable in coaching the newer members.” Petosse play their matches against teams from Nantes, Saumur, Mansle and La Rochelle and have even toured the UK recently, playing against teams from the London area. This season the club will host a touring team from the Isle of Wight and plans are underway for a tour to the Dordogne. Matches are generally played on Sundays throughout the Summer, weather permitting. The continued success of the club depends on recruiting new players and strenuous efforts have already been made by visiting local Youth Clubs and schools to demonstrate the game. The Club would like to hear from anyone interested in playing the game - no experience is required as qualified coaches are available. Petosse is an inclusive club and welcomes all those with an interest in the game or even those who are just curious to try their hand! Regular practice sessions are held weekly in the nets at Petosse and new members will be warmly welcomed. There is always the generous spread of match day teas and post-match refreshment to look forward to!

HARRIET (29 April) Cynthia Erivo was nominated for an Oscar for playing Harriet Tubman, the woman who broke free from slavery to become a leader in the fight for emancipation, and an important name in American history. This biopic has some powerful messages, even if the plot can be somewhat formulaic. You find yourself longing for a little bit more exploration into the person behind the myth. Nevertheless, Erivo is outstanding in the lead, and is a big part of a movie that will both educate newcomers and bring history to life for those already aware of her accomplishments.

Release dates are nationwide in France.

For further information please contact the club president, Hugh Armitage Tel: 07 80 05 66 97 or email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 17

Home & Garden

Love your


• •


by Greenfingers

his month, hopefully, will give us all some longed for, continuous time in the garden, trying to catch up on jobs that have been impossible to do with the floods and storms of March. It is a healing month in the garden now, with time to repair winter damage, to keep the hopes of a warm spring and summer in the front of our minds. This means lots of positivity and progress. Cutting grass in three stages as it is so long; weeding beds that have been completely overtaken by long, lank, lax growth, so it will be easy to pull up; pruning trees and shrubs that seem to have grown really elongated branches and radically changed their shape; spending time deadheading the faithful daffs that have cheered us up; noticing that the hostas are pushing forth their purple tipped new shoots - promising green elegance later, and clematis which has survived some clumsy pruning and produced new, strong looking foliage with flowers to come. By the end of this month, the garden and hedgerows will be filled with new green growth, with buds and blossoms; there will be longer days, more light and more energy to do what needs to be done and we’ll be warm! Now is the time to: • Willow, cornus (dogwood), cotinus (smoke bush) and sambucus (elder), can all be cut back hard at the beginning of the month, removing any diseased or crossing branches. • Loosen tree ties that may now have become too tight…..treating any ‘wounds’ with an appropriate fungicide. • Forsythia and chaenomeles should only be cut back when they have finished flowering.

April’s Charms When April scatters charms of primrose gold, Among the copper leaves in thickets old, And singing skylarks from the meadows rise, To twinkle like black stars in the sunny skies; When I can hear the small woodpecker ring Time on a tree for all the birds that sing; And hear the pleasant cuckoo, loud and long The simple bird who thinks two notes a song; When I can hear the woodland brook, that could Not drown a babe with all his threatening mood; Upon these banks the violets make their home, And let a few small strawberry blossoms come; When I go forth on such a pleasant day, One breath outdoors takes all my cares away; It goes like heavy smoke, when flames take hold Of wood, that’s green and fills a grate with gold. William Henry Davies

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Tie in honeysuckle, rambling and climbing roses and clematis, trimming off any dead foliage and repairing any damage left over from last month’s frequent storms as you go. Spray new foliage on roses with an eco-friendly fungicide and immediately remove any leaves which show signs of black spot developing. Look out for colonies of aphids which tend to congregate on shoot tips. Squash them by hand and spray the plant with soapy water. Summer flowering bulbs such as eucomis (pineapple lily) and nerines (Guernsey lily) can be planted outdoors now. Prepare the planting holes with a little fertiliser and compost, particularly if the soil has been waterlogged. Sunflower seeds, Californian poppies and poached egg plant, can now all be sown directly where you want them to flower outside. Remove any weeds that you see before they have a chance to flower, set seed and spread. Divide agapanthus, particularly if the flowering has been poor and replant in compost containing fine grit. Clip or hard prune evergreen shrubs and hedging such as photinia, griselinia, fatsia, hebes and mahonia. These will be rejunvenated if cut back to strong lower growth. Cut perennials such as gaura, penstemon and verbena bonariensis right down to new shoots at the base of the plants. Divide bamboos and water lilies. Evergreen shrubs and trees can still be planted now especially if they have been waiting around in pots for a while. Evergreens can also be moved now if need be. Deciduous hedging, trees and climbers can all be planted out now. Mulch roses and shrub beds with bark or compost, ensure that camellias and rhododendrons are mulched particularly well as flowering is affected if the plants are allowed to dry out. Feed shrubs and trees with a balanced fertiliser, blood, fish and bone is available here and is as good as any - and eco-friendly. Start to feed and water citrus plants - look out for scale insect on undersides of leaves, leaf joints and stems. If this white pest is found, wash it off with warm soapy water. Plant out autumn sown sweet peas or directly sow fresh seed outdoors now. Remove faded daffodil, narcissus and tulip flowers but leave foliage to continue feeding the bulbs. Move self-sown foxglove plantlets that have at least four leaves, to better flowering positions. Water in gently.

• •

• •

• • • •

• • •

Check hardwood cuttings taken during the winter and plant up any that have produced roots. Cut back flowering stems of heather plants as soon as they start to fade. Heather produces flowers on new wood, so giving it a haircut now leaves plenty of time for new growth before next winter. Make the cuts down at the lowest set of flowers and this will encourage new shoots and stop the plants from becoming leggy and straggly. Lots of new growth is appearing on lily plants. Keep a check for the red and black lily beetle which lay eggs that quickly hatch into black coated larvae, which can devastate plants in a day. Take cuttings of any perennials to multiply the number of plants you have. New shoots on asters produce root tissue at their base which can be removed and used as cuttings. Cut about 10cm long sections from the outer part of the plant clump, trimming off the lower leaves and shortening the remaining foliage by half. Insert the cuttings around the edges of compost filled pots and water well. Leave in a cold frame or greenhouse and plant out later in the summer when they have become more established. The same method can be used for phlox, heleniums and campanulas. Lift and divide herbaceous perennials to reinvigorate them and produce more plants. Annual grasses can be sown now; these can include Briza maxima, Hordeum jubatum, Pennisetum setaceum and Lagurus ovatus; Annual herbs such as basil can be sown in trays now, giving them a little heat to improve germination and lots of light. Prick out individually or in clumps, potting them up and placing outside. Harden off seedlings gradually by putting seed trays out during the day and bringing them in undercover at night. The cooler temperatures and cool air movement help them to toughen-up ready for the season ahead. Vine weevil can be very active in the spring, so look out for the brownish-grey beetle with a kind of miniature rhino horn at the front of its head. Destroy them and check the soil in pots for the comma-shaped, brown-headed larvae. These feed on roots and the damage is invisible until the plant collapses, then it’s too late. Sow French marigolds as a deterrent to greenhouse white fly. Their scent acts as a repellent. Take cuttings from tender perennials such as pelargoniums. Amaryllis lilies need watering after flowering has finished in order to encourage them to flower next year.

In the vegetable garden: • Sow runner beans, pumpkins and squashes under glass, ready to be planted out in May. • Directly sow seeds of calabrese, kohlrabi, peas, carrots, radish, leeks, spinach, cabbages, and chard. • Plant chitted second-early and main crop potatoes in beds or containers. • Pot tomato seedlings when they have their first pair of true leaves. • Finish planting shallots, onion sets and seed-grown onions. • Harvest rhubarb by just pulling the stems away from the base of the plant. • Have fleece handy to protect fruit trees from late frosts.

Pace yourself in the garden this month; there is much to do and it will get done. Take time to appreciate your efforts, feel pleased with what you are achieving, soak up the birdsong and the flowers and take a break for a cuppa!


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 19

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

It's gardening, Jim, but not as we know it.


have always been a keen gardener. I don't know any of the latin names (couldn't identify a Alopecurus from a Zannichellia), but I love being out in the great outdoors, getting some gentle exercise and creating attractive areas in the garden by mixing and matching plants.

by Steve Shaw

Number 1 (arrow marks the spot)

I have a basic knowledge of plants that like shade and others full sun, however I know nothing about the pH of soil, other than it can change the colour of hydrangea flowers. I decide where a plant would look good, dig a hole, shove it in and if it thrives, fantastic, if it starts wilting, I'll move it somewhere else. Our gardens in the UK have always been small (no bigger than a tennis court). I have been able to weed, trim and mow them in a day, but since moving to France gardening has taken on a new meaning. We have an acre of land and when I tell Anna, my wife, I'm going out to do some gardening, I really mean I am going to dig up brambles in various quarters of the estate. I have become obsessed by them. I see them in my dreams sending out their tendrils, skipping across the ground, sinking roots as they go. Like grandmother's footsteps when my back is turned, they rush forward from the boundary fence or rocky outcrop. I have tried chopping them, poisoning them, but have learnt the only way to get rid of them is to dig them up. One bonus of all the rain we have been having recently is that it is much easier to pry the critters up, roots and all. I enjoy reading Greenfingers' article in 'The DSM' each month, listing all the jobs I should be doing. My list, unfortunately, is very short. Jobs for April - dig up brambles, burn brambles, check for new brambles. I exaggerate of course. When not battling the brambles I can be found digging up bindweed. Like King Canute, I feel this is another battle I will not win. I don't like to poison and have tried my own environmentally friendly homebrew mixture which had no effect whatsoever...if anything it seemed to like it and the whole garden smelt of vingar. I have tried digging down several feet to extract every strand of white root filament from the soil, but to no avail. The solution to the problem? I have decided which borders/ flower beds I want to keep, and those which are beyond reprieve, transplanted any shrubs to other areas of the garden and grassed over the beds - mowing a patch of ground is much more time effective and less emotionally dispiriting. I am turning to pots for floral colour and interest, giving the plants a chance by not being consumed and ravaged by the bindweed. We had four clumps of pampas grass when we moved in. Enormous things, the size of a small family car, popular in the 70s, usually in front gardens, a sign of 'swingers' apparently (although we're still waiting for the knock on the door and the jangle of keys). One of Number 2 (on the bonfire)

Number 3 (very near the house)

the four was where I wanted to extend my vegetable patch, so last year got rid of it...three left. After the first extraction I needed a year to recover. Number two was near the pond, where I wanted to put a bench for contemplation. So after chopping back as much excess growth as I could - reached for the matches. Pampas grass grows in a doughnut shape and the centre is ram-packed with years of dead growth, so with favourable weather conditions, I ignited that bad boy and stood well back. Fortunately, number two was not positioned near anything apart from the pond, which wasn't flammable. On a wet winter's day the heat was welcome as I stood twenty feet away, cackling like a loon. My eyebrows haven't been the same since. Twenty four hours later a crown of burnt stems remained, ready to spring back into life. Now for the hard part - the roots had to be dug up. With an assortment of apposite tools from the shed, I set to work. The tricky bit is digging the initial clump up and weakening the pampi. My tools of choice were a garden fork for leverage and an axe to sever. A friend at Franglais told me he went at one with a chainsaw which, not surprisingly, didn't work and broke the chainsaw. It took me four hours to dig the whole thing up and by the end I was a spent force, as I stood, axe in hand, like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, surrounded by the carnage of charred clumps of pampas. Two left, one of which is very near the house so might be staying. The pampas had the last laugh, as the next morning when I tried to get out of bed, I realised that I had twanged something in my lumbar region and could hardly move. I had to shuffle about like Harvey Weinstein for three days. This year, back permitting, I hope to spend more time planting and less uprooting and axing. When was the last time you saw Carol Klein on Gardeners' World going at a pampas, axe in hand?

Number 4 (your time will come)

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 21

Where We Live... Plant Festival in Le Beugnon (79130) by Joyce Roberts

Friday the 1 May 2020 – Free Entry! elcome to our 5th plant festival! It’s hard to imagine such a popular event being held in such a quiet, little countryside village, in the heart of the Gâtine. Over 5,000 visitors enjoyed our 2018 event. We attract 60 exhibitors, half of whom own plant nurseries, including Scottish-owned Château du Pont Jarno. All of this is organised by a friendly but hardworking association in Le Beugnon, made up of 45 members and over a hundred volunteers.


The purpose of our village association is to reunite everyone who wishes to organise or participate in cultural, environmental or heritage-preserving actions in our community. We welcome new inhabitants and help them to integrate, discover our customs and history, and share knowledge in a way that makes everyone feel important and included. Our members mainly come from Le Beugnon but also from neighbouring towns. We bring together: different cultures, locals and expats, old and young, working and retired, French and other European citizens who have chosen to live in the beautiful Gâtine landscape. We garner a range of expertise in biodiversity, permaculture, organic and biodynamic growing methods, flower arranging and photography.

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

As nature lovers, we are hosting our horticultural event with a regional impact; reaching up to 100km from Le Beugnon. This is much more than an ordinary plant fair, but rather a plant festival celebrating nature, with this year’s focus being the tree in all its guises and glory. Trees form forests, hedges, fruit and decoration; interacting with people, the land and a multitude of organisms. We aim to applaud and emulate the tree’s cooperation with nature. Speaking of coming together, our website is called Le Jardin des Sources ( because Le Beugnon hosts the origins of the Sèvre Nantaise, Thouet and Autize rivers. Our association has a collection of 150 varieties of non-hybrid tomato seeds. We will offer 2,800 organic tomato plants with 25 different varieties this year that we have grown ourselves. Plus a huge range of other plants we have nurtured ready for sale on 1 May. Our prices are reasonable, the tomato plants sell out well before noon!

Have a look at our programme full of workshops, presentations and outings for plant lovers and birdwatchers. You will be sure to find something to enjoy: 9.30am Guided walk to discover hedgerow birds 10am Guided plant nursery tour 10.30am Workshop on innovative gardening techniques 11am Beekeeping tips on trees for bees 1.30pm Demonstration on using flowers to make scented water 2pm Conference on orchard-friendly biodiversity 3pm Guided walk to discover the flora of ‘the wolf fountain’ 3.45pm Flower arranging demonstration by Carl Wilde in English, translated into French (1½ hours) 4pm Guided plant nursery tour All day: • Tree climbing area for children from the age of five and fun activities based on children’s books • Workshop on grafting fruit trees and experts on site who can advise on a range of topics • Boutique offering tomatoes, cuttings, plants and natural products to treat your garden • Tea room and bar. Lunchtime meals offer locally sourced, organic and seasonal produce including vegetarian galettes and crêpes, sandwiches and French fries.

Photographs of previous plant festivals in Le Beugnon Flower arranging demonstration by Carl Wilde (bottom left) All photos by Howard Needs

If you have any questions or need to borrow a wheelbarrow to get all your purchases back to your car, ask at the welcome desk on the day or email: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 23

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

Across 1. A small cupboard for food or wine (6) 4. A fisherman who uses a hook and line (6) 8. Religious building (5) 9. Lacking refinement, cultivation or taste (7) 10. An evil spell (5) 11. French lawyer (7) 12. Amphibian eggs laid in jelly (9) 15. A cocktail made of gin or vodka with dry vermouth (7) 16. Something given as a token of victory (5) 17. The legal dissolution of a marriage (7) 18. Not clean (5) 19. A natural body of running water (6) 20. A machine for excavating (6)

Down 2. A framework that supports climbing plants (6) 3. Valuables of unknown ownership found hidden, usually in the ground (8-5) 5. An increase in the average temperature of the earth’s atmosphere (6-7) 6. Obtain through intimidation (6) 7. Capital and largest city of Argentina (6-5) 13. A person with a belief that one race is superior to others (6) 14. Bloodsucking African fly that transmits sleeping sickness (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

Across 1. End of hard ride from ski slopes experience. (6) 4. Energy applied to fight dodgy moment? (6) 8. Address of father with no end of time? (3) 9. Throw out former leaders of pacifist extreme left? (5) 11. Weed plant? (3) 12. Using the essence of tea, the milk is too stirred up, creating a film? (4, 4, 2, 3) 15. Make a point of writing a note about being popular? (4) 16. While batting around, run out, inspiring the press? (4) 20. The way to get over crisp version into song medley? (8, 5) 21. Little creature turning up in Cardiff leisure centre. (3) 23. A place to go given directions if not firmly attached? (5) With thanks to M.Morris 24. Ask if entertaining to take part in winter activity? (3) 25. Miserable large mammal having the heart to cry? (6) 26. Fictional lion taking time on the slope? (6)

Down 1. Turn out of side-street then stop. (6) 2. Spoil many a reader’s introduction? (3) 3. Let’s sing small production number, should bring us round? (8, 5) 5. Chap’s real girl turning up, they must write beautifully? (13) 6. Power generated when side rubbed off light? (3) 7. Set tea brew leaves with this residue? (6) 10. Exercises about one thousand to get a predatory swimmer? (4) 13. Underground organisation given time in fashionable Rome? (5) 14. Nothing better than oil in which to shelter capital? (5) 17. Disappear over side of bridge; what a laugh! (6) 18. Two prepositions entering another? (4) 19. Holy man caught keeping religious teaching precise? (6) 22. Tree found in centre of Ireland. (3) 24. By all accounts achieve Spanish agreement in the main? (3)

Brain Gym

Q1. What has a bottom at the top? Q2. What has four wheels and flies? Q3. Three doctors said that Gaspard was their brother. Gaspard says he has no brothers. How many brothers does Gaspard actually have? Q4. The day before yesterday I was 21, and next year I will be 24. When is my birthday? Q5. A girl has as many brothers as sisters, but each brother has only half as many brothers as sisters. How many brothers and sisters are there in the family?

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

Q6. Q7. Q8:

What is 3/7 chicken, 2/3 cat and 2/4 goat? What’s blue and smells like red paint? Can you work out the well known phrase or saying from the visual clues? b.




Answers on P.41 and our website:

DSM Toughie Crossword

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

Easter Bookmark Make Why not have a go at making one of our Easter bookmarks? You can make an Easter bunny, a chick or design your own by just following our step by step guide below. If you get into difficulty ask a parent to help.


square paper 12cm x 12cm





tuck corner into envelope

tuck corner into envelope


now decorate

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 25

Health, Beauty & Fitness Everyday Yoga for Everyone 10 reasons NOT to do YOGA today

by Rebecca Novick

We all suffer from occasional bouts of procrastination. Especially when it comes to something that’s actually good for us. We don’t procrastinate about that third glass of wine, or flopping in front of Netflix for the evening, but about going for a bike ride, eating more healthily, or yes, doing our yoga practice. There are still days (though fewer and fewer) that I don’t do yoga. And, of course, there is always a great reason. So, this month, I thought I’d make a list of TEN REASONS NOT TO DO YOGA TODAY. I’m sure many of you will recognize some of these and can add your own favourites to anything that you procrastinate about in your life! 1. TOO TIRED/BUSY RIGHT NOW. I’LL DO IT LATER. Yoga gives us energy and vitality. Also, it’s highly unlikely that we will feel less tired as the day goes on, so that ‘later’ yoga session will most probably slip off your agenda. As for busy, well, we tend to forget we are in charge of how busy we are, and how we use our time.

Small B/W Advert from


per month

2. I FEEL TOO STIFF AND ACHEY. Even ten minutes of yoga can give relief from those everyday aches and pains. I did this recently with backache from a board-hard Indian bed. Yoga nips those aches in the bud and stops them from becoming more serious. 3. I HAVE TO CLEAN THE HOUSE. This one’s a personal favourite. Obviously, the house cleaning police are going to ring the doorbell at any moment and demand an on-site inspection! Anyway, if you clean your house after a spot of yoga, you’ll have more energy and be more efficient. 4. I HAVE TO GO SHOPPING. Unless there’s a half-price sale that’s going to end in an hour on the exact item you’ve been planning to buy for the last five years, shopping can wait. 5. I DON’T HAVE A YOGA ROUTINE. Get one! There are several yoga teachers in the Deux-Sèvres who, like me, would be happy to work with you to develop a personal daily practice. 6. I DON’T HAVE A SPACE TO DO YOGA. So make one! You only need somewhere the size of your yoga mat. And, as the weather starts improving, consider doing your yoga outside. It is even more beneficial to do yoga in nature. 7. MAYBE WHEN I’VE LOST SOME WEIGHT. Yoga helps to improve your digestion and regulate metabolism to keep the weight off. 8. I’M TOO OLD. I began teaching yoga at the age of 53. A yoga teacher recently died at the age of 101. She was teaching almost to the end. End of argument. 9. WHAT IF I HURT MYSELF? You are more likely to hurt yourself cleaning the stairs or leaning over the bathtub without preparing your body fist? Doing yoga under guidance will increase your bodyawareness which will, in turn, protect you from injury as you go about your daily routine. 10. I NEED TO TAKE CARE OF SOMEONE ELSE. Whether a spouse, kids, grand-kids, friend or animals, if you take care of yourself, you will be in such a better state of both mind and body to take care of them. Even 15 minutes will make a difference. FEEL FREE TO ADD: It’s too hot, it’s too cold, my yoga pants are in the wash, and my dog ate my yoga mat!

Respect yourself, explore yourself. For more information email: or follow Rebecca on 26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

Our Furry Friends hope association charity shops helping animals in need

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

hope 79 • sauzé-vaussais

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

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

Günther This darling little boy is around 5-6months-old, is vaccinated, tested negative, microchipped and waiting to be castrated. He is a lovely little cat, very sweet, a bit timid but purrs when you hold him and has beautiful big eyes. He is waiting patiently for someone to adopt him. If you would like to come and say hello to him or any of our other gorgeous cats waiting for adoption, please contact us. Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884.


by Gaynor Mickelborough


ver the years we have accrued five cats, all left to us as tiny kittens by passers-by. The gang of five, as they have become known, rule our existence. We open doors for them, feed them on demand - in particular dishes that are not really interchangeable, accommodate their wishes as to sleeping arrangements, all in exchange for the odd mole, bird innards, feather, shrew or mouse corpse being left at the door. Fair exchange you would think, as they obviously do. But even as they annoy us with their domestic tyranny they also contribute to our 'well-being', that word that is so much the 'in-word', the 'thing' at the moment. How, I hear you ask? Well, it's their feline personalities. We have a neutered male whose only keep-fit regime is to sit beside molehills for hours waiting for signs of a breakout. We have a duchess who is very precious, keeps her grooming kit close and saunters about only doing what the highborn do. Then there is a never-go-out-unlessabsolutely-urgent cat that thinks it is a dog, a psychologically deranged, small but determined huntress of spiders (in all corners of the house) who really needs her mother or a counselling course. And one, the elder stateswoman of the gang, who declared Brexit long ago, speaks only to us about the menu and lives ‘offshore’ in the barn. They keep us amused, irritated, broke, and door opening/ closing attentively fit. The recipe for well-being, we have discovered, is not making marmalade, but accommodating cats.

Pepsi Pepsi is a friendly, loving, 18-month-old cross fox of nine kilos. She loves life and is happy around other dogs and cats (used to lively dogs), and loves kids. She is home trained and walks well on lead. She will need a secure garden. Pepsi is identified, vaccinated, comes with a passport, is dewormed and treated for ticks and fleas. She is currently in Monnaie (37).

The Assocation Orfée tel: 09 77 48 71 43 or by email: Felix is a lovely, lively Labrador x. He’s housetrained, fine in the car, great with other dogs, not so great with cats. Currently in foster in department 86, he will make a wonderful, loyal companion with time and love. Please get in touch with us if you can give him the life he deserves.


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

Visit the website: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 27


by Howard Needs

Death and Hell - Abbey Church Saint-Austremoine d’Issoire


ooking at the first article of this series (‘The DSM’ February issue) and realizing that the details of the Last Judgement painting in the Abbey Church Saint-Austremoine d’Issoire were not apparent, I have decided to highlight the wonderful elements of that picture.

The chapel of the southern transept of the church burnt out in 2016 and since then the church has undergone a substantial repair and renovation. The 19th century paintings in the interior of the church, some damaged by the fire, have been restored. Stained glass has been repaired and the Last Judgement painting in what was the sacristy and more recently the bookshop, is being restored to some of its 15th century glory. The full painting is quite large 4m

x 3.5m but has been damaged in the past and less than expertly restored. There are areas which are bare of painting and other parts discoloured and have traces of another painting over the top. The St Michel who is defending the righteous against a demon is reminiscent of the St Michel in the church in L’Absie, Deux-Sèvres where he is slaying the monster. One can also find him weighing the souls of the dead in similar scenes. We hope that the latest restoration will reveal more of the painting. If you refer back to the February issue of the magazine you will find the full painting and in this issue the detailed photos with their captions will explain each of the themes of The Last Judgment.

1. St Michael defending the righteous against a devil (left). 2. A man being prepared to be broken on the wheel whilst two devils look on. This was a common form of torturing to death in the late Middle Ages. Imposed by judges and rulers without too much pondering as to the rights and wrongs of the case (middle). 3. Christ seated on the arc of the heavens with his feet on Earth. Angel heralds blow their trumpets and the Virgin and John the Baptist look on (right).

4. Angels taking the chosen ones to heaven (left). 5. The newly risen dead awaiting judgment (middle). 6. The dead rising, leaving their symbolic graves. 7. The elected, also known as the chosen ones found in the Roman Catholic religion and prominent in some Protestant religions, in other forms (bottom left). 8. Leviathan - the mouth of hell - receiving the sinners (bottom right). All photos by Howard Needs.

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020


Gazelles Update


ith a year to go to the 2021 edition of the Rallye des Gazelles, we caught up with Helen and Sue to find out how their campaign to be on the start line is coming on.

The team is full of positivity and enthusaism, and were excited to tell us that Sue will actually be the very first New Zealander ever to compete in the Rallye. “I can’t believe it! Us Kiwis are generally very adventurous, so it was a huge surprise and honour to find out I am the first Kiwi Gazelle”.

actually hope to be able to achieve a total donation for them of 5 000€, to add to the money that Helen sent last year as a result of the Afternoon Tea Party”. Their April event is a loto night, aimed at the local French community, and we know they are in the midst of talks which could result in exciting news next time we meet… With their new team logo by Sarah Berry showing two victorious women, we have every confidence that they will achieve great things! Don’t forget you can follow their progress on Facebook and Instagram @ChimeraLandyAdventures

The team have already secured some great backers for their adventure. This includes Munchy Seeds, a UK based healthy snack brand, Veuve Amiot, the sparkling wine producers in Saumur, Landypoint are staying on board to support Priscilla and Combier, the Saumur based distillers who will be showcasing their gin brand Meridor. “The Munchy Seeds brand is perfecty aligned with us” explains Helen. “They started their business in my home village in Suffolk, and their founder Lucinda is actually a Kiwi herself! Their new marketing tag line is ‘Flavour Fuelled Adventures’ and Mr Munchy is a Land Rover man.” In February the team ran a Quiz and Curry night which was a very successful evening, raising 758€ for their pot, and a Facebook fundraiser gave the girls a further 3 465€. “We have pledged that 10% of everything we raise goes to the school in Talataste in Morocco” says Sue. “Having said this, we

Helen, Sue and Priscilla.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 29

Food & Drink


by John Sherwin

Growing Old Gracefully - Part Two: Taking Stock

n last month’s issue I wrote about how best to store a modest collection of wine, a collection destined for your drinking pleasure as opposed to speculative investment. By ‘modest’ I mean the number of bottles (something less than 200); you can brag all you like about your bounty, but as a serious connoisseur you wouldn’t do that, would you?

So you’ve taken delivery of your storage unit and it’s standing proud in that special place you reserved for it, but it looks forlorn. It had only two goals: to be bought and to be filled. Goal number one has been achieved but that’s less than half the story; to be filled, and filled well is its true aspiration. You open it, still empty, and it whimpers, it emits small cries reminiscent of an orphaned whale lost in a deep ocean. You would be a fiend to let this suffering continue! But how to alleviate? What fills the aching void? Apply bottles of wine until the patient is restored. But not all wine is made equal, and here is the crux of the matter. Only about 1% of all wine is made to be aged, by which I mean undergoing a long, slow process which will result in a product noticeably different and ‘better’ than its younger version. If my maths is correct, that means that 99% of wine is made to be drunk asap which roughly equates to a period spanning the-day-before-yesterday and five years or so from the date on the bottle (the vintage). Hanging on to even an expensive supermarket bottle for ten years will only result in disappointment: you can’t make a silk purse from a sow’s ear. Why are these 1% so special? What makes them the super athletes of the vinous world? The answer is simple in principle yet beautifully and infuriatingly complex in practice. Red wines, if they’re going to stand a chance of ageing, need tannin and lots of it. If you’re not sure what tannin is, make a cup of tea (no milk or sugar) with three teabags; let it go cold; taste. That rasping mouth-puckering is caused by tannin. Just as that tea was unpleasant, so red wines which are destined to age will be almost undrinkable in their infancy. Fact #1: tannins are present in the skins and to an even greater extent in the pips of red grapes. Fact #2: red wines are macerated then fermented in contact with the skins and pips. Fact #3: most if not all red wines made to age will be stored/ matured for long periods of time in oak barrels, the oak imparting its own dose of tannin. If all goes well, over years spent in a proper cellar, or your own whizzo wine cabinet, these tannins will mellow - in short they will have shuffled off their loutish youth to become fascinating, well-rounded fellows with many a quirky tale to tell. Imagine opening a bottle from your birth year, or that of a child, or of any significant year in your life. Time travel. Think of it. Time travel.

Rosés for ageing? For goodness sake, fire up the barbie, lie down by the pool, and drink them now. Do white wines get a look in in the ageing stakes? Yes, but to a lesser extent. White wines are usually made with little or no skin contact, therefore next to no tannin. The ‘preservative’ for whites is their level of acidity, and in some cases sugar content. To take the latter wines first, we’re talking of ‘dessert’ wines or ‘sweet’ wines’. The greatest examples of these can be found in Sauternes, a district of Bordeaux. Prices can be astronomical, but there are perfectly sound bottles at affordable prices which can age for decades. Further down the ageing potential scale are wines from nearby Loupiac and Cadillac. A lot of otherwise sane people seem to have an aversion to this style of wine, and I really, really don’t know why. All I can say is open your mind, buy a half decent bottle (or a decent half bottle) and give it a try. From the acid-preservative side of the equation, take a look at Alsace Riesling from villages such as Barr, Kaysersberg, Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr. But the classic, and affordable, white wine appropriate for ageing is made from Loire Valley chenin blanc. Midway along the stretch of the river, around Vouvray in particular, you will find chenin blanc par excellence, the best in the world. In this short article I have barely uncoiled my nails to scrape the surface of a fascinating topic, worthy of a sledgehammer of a book. Hopefully I have pointed you in the right direction, or rather directions. And remember, always be kind - don’t keep that whimpering wine cabinet out of work for too long. ©Wikicommons/Missvain

So which red wines? The wine world equivalent of ‘follow the money’ is ‘focus on the grape variety’. Cabernet sauvignon is a worldwide workhorse and packs a lot of tannin, so much in fact that it’s rarely

bottled on its own but with other varieties that add roundness. Most noticeable examples are the great classified growths of Bordeaux where the cabernet is typically blended with merlot and often cabernet franc. But these great wines come at a great price. If you can afford, super; invite me round to yours anytime. If not, rummage around the lesser-known areas, for example Moulis, Listrac-Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Graves. These all have good doses of cabernet so the principle applies. Also consider the ‘second’ wines of the big names. These are made from younger vines but still have ageing potential, just less so than their bigger brothers. Pinot noir is often considered to be the greatest variety but is highly strung and needs experienced care and attention: it receives this in bucket-loads in Burgundy. Big names commanding big prices applies even more here than Bordeaux – Economics 101: small supply meets great demand. Again, if you can afford, go for it, and don’t forget the invite. If not, consider lesser known villages such as Santenay, Pernand-Vergelesses, Fixin and Auxey-Duresses. Also take a look at the Cote Chalonnaise, the ‘poor cousin’ of Burgundy’s main drag, the Côte-d’Or. Madiran in the SW of France is often overlooked and can provide good value for money. Here, the main grape is tannat, and the clue is in the name. If you want to go further afield, consider the Italian variety nebbiolo which features in the wines of Barolo and Barbaresco amongst others. The Spanish tempranillo could also be a happy hunting ground.

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or 30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

We’re Doomed

by Jacqueline Brown


can’t help but feel the end of the world is nigh, and for once I’m not moaning about the weather. While I won’t admit to stockpiling, I have taken the opportunity to sort out my carbs cupboard as the couple of extra packets of pasta I bought this week made the shelves wobble alarmingly. I think it’s safe to say that even if we do have to self-isolate for a while to avoid the spread of Covid-19, there should be enough couscous, pasta, rice and noodles to keep us fed for a good few weeks (months). I’ve also taken the opportunity to have a bit of a rummage in the deep corners of my freezers and even if fresh fruits and vegetables disappear from our diet, my roasted vegetables and fruit compots, made with our orchard harvests, should ensure we don’t miss out on any necessary nutrients. Then there is the magic that is my bone broth soup; with that in my arsenal I’m sure all will be well. As a self-confessed squirreling hoarder of foods, and a bit of a hermit, I think I’m about to hit my peak, although I do hope I won’t actually have to resort to eating all my store cupboard essentials, as I’m sure the resulting panic would make me ill. Hopefully we are young and fit enough to fall into the low-risk category, but this situation is a huge risk for our work and therefore our income and I can’t help but worry. Adrian’s job means he is a regular flyer and train user, and each week he is away at work he is in a different office or training centre. I think that gives him a Risk with a capital R and means we have made it our norm to take the necessary precautions. We are already thinking very carefully before joining others in crowded places and we got some funny looks when we stopped our usual French greeting of an air cheek kiss before it became official advice. I can see how easily this situation will escalate and negatively affect local businesses like village bars, restaurants and gîtes. I was pleased to see our local supermarket looking as well stocked as usual, but I was delighted to be practically the only person shopping. We have decided that cycling the quiet backroads of rural Deux-Sèvres is still a pretty low-risk activity, even heading out with friends. It also has the benefit of being good for our health and our minds. As I write this, the Deux-Sèvres is holding strong and is still a happy and healthy place to be, so I’m crossing my fingers that by the time I am back here next month writing my column, the worst is behind us and my freezer and cupboards are not bare. At least there are finally some signs of spring and the blossoms especially are beginning to look lovely. I can only hope this year there will be plenty of fruits to pick, freeze and restock my stores. Email:

Chicken Basquaise made simple! deux-sèrves 4

Ingredients: 3 tbsp olive oil 1 large chorizo sausage 4 chicken breasts with skin, halved 2 cloves of garlic lightly crushed 1 bouquet garnet or bayleaf DIS 6 springs of thyme OF THH E M O NTH 2 onions thinly sliced 2 large tomatoes, diced 2tbsp tomato paste 250ml chicken stock 350ml dry white wine 10 jarred piquillo peppers, drained and halved lengthwise 12 boiled small new potatoes For garnish: ½ finely diced green apple 2tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley 2tsp piment d'espelette (ground espelette pepper) or paprika Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 230°/gas mark 8. In a high-sided overproof/ cast-iron pan, warm one tablespoon of the oil over a medium heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add skin-sidedown to the pan. Add the thyme, garlic and bouquet garnet to the chicken. Cook until the skin is browned, about 5 minutes, then add the sliced chorizo and fry for a further 2 minutes. Transfer to a large plate. 2. In the same pan add the remaining oil and the onions and stir until light brown, again about 5 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and cook until the liquid evaporates, 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring for 1 minute. Add half the chicken stock and ½ teaspoon of salt, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook until the liquid has nearly evaporated, 5-8 minutes. Return the chicken, skin-side-up, chorizo, garlic and herbs to the pan. Cover, transfer to the oven and roast until the chicken is cooked through, around 10 minutes. Remove the chicken and chorizo to a plate. 3. Once again set the pan over a medium heat and add the wine, piquillo peppers and remaining chicken stock, and bring to a simmer. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half, stirring occasionally (for about 10 minutes). Remove from the heat and add the chicken and chorizo. 4. Serve with boiled potatoes on the side or mixed through and sprinkle with the apple, parsley and piment d'Espelette or paprika. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 31

Communications Passwords #1

by Tony Wigmore


his month, a look at passwords. Some warnings and some tips that will hopefully keep you safer online. If a hacker manages to expose your online credentials, such as a login password, you may find yourself losing money, reputation and even your entire identity through various frauds. A 2018 survey found that, on average, an individual will have around 90 online accounts. Each online account you have (e.g. banking, online shopping, travel companies, social media, etc.) will require a password. Surveys also tell us that many people still use the simplest of passwords (e.g. PASSWORD or 123456) and while this may seem risky, the single largest risk can be using the same password on multiple accounts. EMAIL PASSWORD If you use the same password on, say, your online shopping account and your email, any hacker gaining access to your online shopping details can immediately access your email. If they gain access to your email account, this can open every online account you have to them. Just think about it. If you click on a ‘forgotten my password’ link on a website, the company will generally send you a special password or special link. This information is usually sent to your registered email account. TIP #1: Always have a password for your email that you use ONLY for your email. Never use your email password on any other account, make it as complex as you can bear and change it, even a little, regularly. MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS Because many people use the same login details for multiple online accounts, the next thing the hackers are likely to do is to use newly exposed details to attempt access to other common online communities (e.g. iTunes, Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, etc.). This can open a plethora of information to them including your full name, date of birth, home address and in some cases financial information too. TIP #2: Use different passwords for each account but be sensible This sounds an awful idea but there are ways to achieve this without too much pain. If your password on multiple accounts is, let’s say, ‘PASSWORD’ (please say it isn’t so) then adjust it slightly for each account by, for example, taking the second and third letters of the website name and adding it to your normal password. Your Amazon account password would then change from ‘PASSWORD’ to ‘PASSWORDMA’. This will make virtually every password you have different without any real need for you to remember any of them.

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

PASSWORD STRENGTH The so-called ‘strength’ of a password relates to the likelihood of an individual or a machine being able to guess or, alternatively, uncover using a brute-force attack. It’s an estimate of how many trials an attacker who does not have direct access to the password would need to guess it correctly. There are several ways of improving the ‘strength’ of your passwords and none of them are onerous. TIP #3: Not just words You can add strength to your existing passwords by adding a mixture of the available characters. Add a number or two, use a mix of upper and lower case and especially non-alphanumeric characters (e.g. “#?>@”). Tip #4: Phrases can help Instead of words (‘PASSWORD’) that are easy to remember and potentially easy to guess, why not try using a phrase that is easy to remember but harder to guess. For example, I might take the phrase ‘I live at number 22 Rue Amsterdam’ then convert this phrase into a password by taking the initial letters and numbers forming ‘Ilan22RA’. Meaningless to a casual observer. Add on the website specific characters from tip #2 above and we have a password unique to each website that surely nobody could guess. A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST The longer you leave even a complex password in place and unchanged, the more likely it is to become exposed and of use to criminals. If you do not feel like changing every password on a regular basis, make sure the key ones (banking, etc.) are not left alone for too long. STEPPING UP TO THE NEXT LEVEL There are some tools available that, if used correctly, can dramatically increase your online security. Next month, I will cover the use of ‘Two Factor Authentication’ and ‘Password Managers’. Not as complicated as their names sound, I promise you.

Building & Renovation

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 33

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020



The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 35


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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 37

Business & Finance FRENCH INCOME TAX 2020


t’s that time of the year again when we start receiving the dreaded income tax form to complete (from mid-April to mid-May)! Some of you thought that the new changes with monthly payments 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 this article, 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. 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 (and not pacsed - civil agreement) must fill in a tax form each! When? You fill in a tax form one year after, meaning you declare your revenue of 2019 (Jan to Dec) in April/May 2020. So, if you have officially moved to France before July last year (2019), then you fill in your first French tax form in April/May 2020 on which you declare your revenue of 2019. If you moved to France after July, then you were not a French resident in 2019 (in France less than six months) and therefore, you will have to fill in your first French tax form in April/May 2021 for your revenue of 2020. Since 1 January 2019, we are now taxed at source (monthly amount taken from our current account or percentage of salary) and the amount was determined by the tax paid in 2018. The form we fill in this year will determine if we have paid the right tax in 2019 and the new amount which will be taken monthly from 1 January 2021. If you paid too much, they will reimburse you or reduce your monthly payments, if not enough they will increase the monthly payments until the end of the year! If you have moved to France in 2019, you will pay two years of tax: 2019 and 2020! You will pay a bill for 2019 at the end of August in one go and have another bill for 2020 which will be taken monthly from September to December (amount of 2019 tax bill divided by 4). Then from 2021, the monthly amount (2019 tax divided by 12). You can fill in a form to start paying those amounts monthly from now instead of September (form 2043), which you can download from the tax office website. Only do it if you think you will pay tax. The tax threshold for 2018 for a couple was 28 275€. 3. What forms? • 2047: This is the pink form on which you enter your revenue from abroad and you 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 2019 is 1.14 (that is the average of last year). Your local tax office will give you an exchange rate, but you 38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020

by Isabelle Want

don’t have to use it. Use it if it is lower than 1.14! If your pension has been directly transferred in euros to your French bank account, just add up all the figures from 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 either send it to Paris (who send it to the UK) or give it back to you to send to HMRC (it depends on the office). Six months later, you get reimbursed the tax you paid in the UK since you arrived in France. 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 must show them this document. Some ISA savings accounts (LEPs) are only available if you can show this document to your bank, as it is only available for people with low income. It is your income tax bill and you receive it in August. 7. This is the official website of the French tax authorities. You can download tax forms, complete them online and also set up monthly direct debit for your taxe d’ habitation and taxe fonciere. You can also adjust your income tax monthly payment from your personal account. Note: the monthly amount is determined by your income without the tax deduction so some of you probably should not have paid. Note: that you can go online and change it if you think you should not be paying as much or nothing at all. This is often the case for people who have rental from UK or civil servant pensions. Note: from 2019, everybody must complete their income tax form online (unless it is the first time). 8. Help: I will be at the CLE tax seminar on the 29 April. To book a place: Free help completing the tax form for all my customers will be on 6 May, all day, in Ruffec (not lunch hours!) and on 5 May, all day again, in Chasseneuil-sur-Bonnieure. Conclusion: It is an obligation! So, if you live in France, you must complete 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 yet! 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

by Amanda Johnson


still have and use UK bank accounts; do I need to declare these on my French tax return?

Yes, you do. In a drive to reduce tax evasion and ensure transparency as to where money comes from, banks are now required to share details of overseas accounts, if asked by another country’s tax authorities. All UK bank and savings accounts need to be declared on your French Tax return. You also need to declare if you have opened or closed any accounts during the last tax year. Any interest that you have received on these accounts must also be declared. The penalties if you are found to have not declared accounts are very stiff, at up to 1500€ per account. In France, there are tax efficient savings accounts called Livret A and you can save up to 22,950€ per person. The interest is not subject to French income tax or social charges and it is a perfect account for an emergency fund because you have access to this savings account without a notice period. For money that you can put aside for a longer period, it is worth getting in touch with me to discuss whether an Assurance Vie would be suitable for your needs. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below and I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide. Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail:

The Spectrum IFA Group is fully regulated to offer financial advice in France and we do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020 | 39

It’s time in the market - not timing the market - that reaps rewards

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks


ith Coronavirus concerns and global trade tensions heightening market volatility, these are challenging times for investors. Whatever the situation, however, the most sensible approach is to invest for the long-term rather than trying to ‘time’ the market. Risks of timing the market Reacting to current conditions is usually too late. Because certain days in a market cycle can significantly affect returns, there is also the risk of missing out. If, say, you invested £10,000 in the FTSE All-Share index for the ten years up to 31 December 2018, you would have earned £4,754. But by missing the ten best days, returns would fall to £2,081. Being out of the market on the best 20 and 30 days would have brought respective losses of £132 and £1,896. Although it feels uncomfortable, staying invested when markets fluctuate usually produces better returns over the longer term than chasing shortterm gains. Investment performance: The bigger picture It is common to remember extreme market highs and lows without looking at the overall picture. Most will be aware of 1987’s ‘Black Monday’ global stock market crash without realising that the FTSE All-share index actually realised a 4% return over the year. In any case, wise investors will never have all their interests in one asset class or geographical region. So when we hear about shocks in one area, this overplays the actual impact on most investors.

The importance of diversification Even patient investors are unlikely to benefit from an ill-fitting portfolio that does not meet their needs or is overly concentrated in one area. The best strategy for minimising risk is spreading investments across a range of different asset classes, geographical regions and market sectors. Diversifying gives your portfolio the chance to produce positive returns over time without being vulnerable to any single area or stock under-performing. Establishing a suitable investment approach Before investing, it is crucial to carefully assess your situation, income requirements, goals and timeline alongside your appetite for risk. This is best done objectively by an experienced professional who can build a diversified portfolio with the right balance of risk/return for your peace of mind, structured as tax-efficiently as possible for France. Talk to a locally based adviser with cross-border experience to make the most of available opportunities. Ultimately, a long-term, diversified investment approach is vital to help protect and grow your capital, whatever the economic climate. While a ‘keep calm and stay invested’ approach usually gives the best overall results, make sure you still review your planning once a year, or sooner if your circumstances change, to continue meeting your long-term financial goals. 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

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I N T E R N A T I O N A L T A X A D V I C E • I N V E S T M E N T S • E S T AT E P L A N N I N G • P E N S I O N S Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFFM is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided outside the UK, via the Insurance Distribution Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as “Conseil en Investissements Financiers” and “Courtiers d’Assurance” Category B (register can be consulted on Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: 1 rue Pablo Neruda, 33140 Villenave d’Ornon – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA). Blevins Franks Tax Limited provides taxation advice; its advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFFM.

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020


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TO THE MANOIR BORN by Joanna Leggett Living in Style!


ometimes just any house won’t do for your future home unless it’s a grand one or burgeoning with both size and potential.

Just the name Maison de Maitre - the Master’s House - evinces the feeling of grandeur. Symmetrical facades appeal from the outset gracious steps lead up to central front doors, large windows flood rooms with light, gracious reception rooms lead off a central entrance hall while a grand staircase leads upwards to more delights. But these are not the only type of grand homes available in France, there are many other opulent properties to choose from such as Manoirs or even, perchance, a former convent! What’s certain is each will provide space, potential and charm in abundance! Should your fancy be for a very large character property with potential plus perhaps a chambre d’hôte, hotel or even B&B, then this former convent built of golden stone (Leggett reference: 87310) might be just the ticket. Located in Saint-Romans-lèsMelle, just outside the bustling historic town of Melle (on the route to Compostela), is this beautiful 19th century property with no less than 17 bedrooms! It does require renovation, however its price of 267,500€ more than reflects this. The surrounding land, in a fabulous setting, is also very generous, bring your imagination and the sky could be the limit - it even has its own chapel - perhaps you could branch out and host weddings?

A more traditionally-styled Maison de Maître in Argentonl’Église, north-east of Thouars and Bressuire (Leggett ref: 108063), is this beautiful five-bedroomed home sitting within its own gated grounds. In good general condition, it’s already double glazed with central heating. Shining parquet floors set off the elegant rooms, which are generously sized, to perfection - lending themselves to a wonderful style of living. The grounds include the garden, barns and even a small canal! It’s within walking distance to the boulangerie, restaurant/bar and the river. All this for just 299,600€! However, should you want to be truly to the Manoir born, then this stunning property (ref: 106838) in Saint-Paul-en-Gâtine could be just the ticket! With its classical design it really makes a statement, set in immaculate parkland overlooking the luscious Gâtine countryside. Accommodation is spread over three floors and provides truly elegant living spaces with six bedrooms, plus attic and cellars. Outside, the old coach house is currently being used as an office it could easily become a small house - there’s an orangery (perfect for nurturing lemon trees over winter) an in-ground swimming pool, stables and the list goes on - did I mention it’s set in 5.5 hectares of parkland? It epitomises gracious living - 667,800€. Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at





€187,920 HAI

Ref. 109778 - Detached, renovated and spacious stone house with 3 bedrooms, garage and garden. DPE N/A - agency fees to be paid by the seller

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


€99,000 HAI

Ref. 110240 - Spacious 5-bed house with enclosed courtyard, hangar and separate small house. DPE E - agency fees to be paid by the seller



€795,000 HAI


€214,920 HAI


€86,000 HAI


€235,400 HAI

Ref. 110408 - Magnificent riverside logis with large

Ref. 109461 - Pretty house with 2 receptions, 5

Ref. 109573 - Beautiful 2-bed holiday home in a

Ref. 109566 - Beautifully renovated 4-bed, 4-bath

garden and original features, 10mins from Niort.

bedrooms, garage and garden. Close to shops.

holidaypark with large communal swimming pool.

house with large garden and above-ground pool.

DPE C - agency fees to be paid by the seller

DPE E - agency fees included: 8% TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE N/A - agency fees included: 10% TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE N/A - agency fees included: 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer

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


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

Tamasin Wagstaffe, sales agent Deux-Sèvres

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2020