The Deux-Sevres Monthly magazine August 2019 issue

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Welcome! to Issue 100 of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

Midsummer madness. The heat and solitude of living in the middle or rural France have made us obsess about certain things. A moratorium has now been placed on topics of conversation. I am not allowed to talk about the pigeons in the barn and slipping roof tiles, Anna, the swimming pool, which we were lucky enough to inherit with the house. When the division of responsibility occured, she took on all things poolside. As soon as she is up, she is off to the pool to check on any over night casualties, run a series of experiments to ascertain the pH levels of the water and scoop out any flotsam and jetsam with a net. Any woodland creatures who have sadly not made it through the night are ceremoniously jetisoned over the hedge into the farmer’s field. Anna’s mood can hinge on the performance of the robot that trundles around the bottom of the pool for several hours a day, hoovering up dirt and debris. If he (Roman), has missed a bit on his travels, he goes back in, sometimes spending up to six hours submerged in the depths. You can’t swim when he is in for fear of electrocution and rather like a sleep walker he can not be interrupted when he is mid-programme. So we sit in sweltering heat, watching the robot gliding up and down the cool water. She has befriended two toads that reside in the filter chamber, they have been offered their freedom on several occasions, being deposited in a nearby pond, but always seem to make their way back. They don’t have names, as of yet, but I’m sure I hear Anna speaking to somebody when I am in the barn checking for pigeons. We hope you enjoy the 100th issue of the magazine. A huge thank you to all our advertisers, contributors, distributors, Mick and Vanda Lawrence our eagle-eyed proof readers, Julie Tee for her administrative support and of course Sarah Berry who started the whole thing.

la prochaine Stephen & Anna

à Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:


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

This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo Ace Language Services Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) ARB French Property Ark 79 (Animal Charity Association) Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay)

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Bayleaf Books Beaux Villages Immobilier Berry Créatif (Mosaic creations) BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management Building & Renovation Services Cabinet Papin Immobilier Centre Régional - Résistance and Liberté Cherry Picker Hire Chez Lou (Upholstery and Furniture) Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) Cindy Can Help (Translation and administration) CJ Electricité Clean Sweep Chimney Services Cosmetic Contour Darren Lawrence Discover Yoga European Heritage Days - Ensigné Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Futuroscope Green and Tidy (Gardening Services) Hallmark Electricité Helen Booth (deVere Group) Hiley Location (Groundworks) Inter Décor (Tiles and Bathrooms) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jean David (Art Sale, exhibition and classes) Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon the Carpetman Keith Banks Pool Services La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Lac (Restaurant and Bar) Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Mad Hatter’s Wonderland Festival Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction Me and Mrs Jones (Property Cleaning and Services) Michael Glover (Plasterer, tiler, renderer)) Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) ML Computers Motor Parts Charente Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Natalie Balderston (Translation services) Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Pinnacle Garden Care Plombier 85 (Plumbing, Heating, Sanitation) Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) Restaurant des Canards R J Coulson Building Services R J Coulson Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Satellite TV Saugé Vintage Tea Room SBO (Websites, graphic design, and marketing) Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removal company Smart Services (Home and Garden Services) Steve Coupland (Property services) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Strictly Roofing Stump Grinding Services (David Cropper) Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Hope Association The Lush Lawn Company Town Renovations Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Vintage et Chic (Vintage gift shop) Zena Sabestini (Translation service)

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© Anna and Stephen Shaw 2019. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anna and Stephen Shaw accept no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. It is strongly advised to check details of published events with other sources before setting out on long journeys. <<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Anna and Stephen Shaw 2

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 3

What’s On... VIDE GRENIERS AND BROCANTES: 3 - Coulonges sur l’Autize 79160 4 - Lezay 79120, Arçais 79210 11 - Chizé 79170 17 - Beaulieu-sous-Parthenay 79420 18 - Chef-Boutonne 79110 25 - Melle 79500, Coulon 79510, St Jean-de-Thouars 79100 25 - Mougon 79370 30-31 - Niort 79000 Every Sunday until end of November – ANIMATIONS NATURE AU LAC DU CÉBRON. Get the family outdoors and discover the fauna and flora of Lac Cébron just north of Lageon. Poster on page 6. 2 - SUMMER EVENING MARKET in Vasles. Market of local producers and traders offering food, entertainment and drinks every evening from 5pm. Poster page 6. 2 - LOCAL FARMERS MARKET in Argentonnay from 5pm. 3-4 - MEDIEVAL MARKET in Parthenay. A whole weekend of medieval festivities including music, tournaments, demonstrations, guided tours and more. Traditional medieval market on Sunday 10am-7pm. Poster on page 7. 4 - FUNDRAISING FÊTE FOR VIOLET in Secondigny. From 12pm5pm. A real community event is promised, as friends of David Jeapes come together to help raise funds to support his challenge ‘Walking for Violet’. Fishing competition, holistic therapies, stalls selling mosaics, jewellery, handmade cards and much more. Teas, coffees, cakes, beer, wine, vintage Ice cream, burgers and hot dogs. A beautiful setting to while away a few hours on a Sunday afternoon. See more info. on page 15 and at 6 - MARKET ‘IN FÊTE’ in Coulonges sur l’Autize. Celebrating 460 years of the village market. Over 150 exhibitors, braderie, pony rides and bouncy castle. Free visits to the Château and museum and an aperitif offered by the Mairie in the park of the château. Finishing off with a free concert at 9pm. 6 - RANDO ‘CHEMIN DE TERVES’. Guided walk through the hiking trails through Terves 11km. Departs 9am, parking at Salle Omnisports, rue des Asphodèle, 79300 Bressuire. 6 - FARMERS MARKET in Melle. From 6pm, includes live music. 7 - GUIDED TOUR OF THE VILLAGE OF MAISONTIERS (FR). Discover the history of the village, the church and the château. Free of charge. Meet 3pm in front of the church. 9 - CONCERT ‘THE GREEN SNAKE’ in Argentonnay (FR). Traditional French songs which tell a story. Clarinet, trumpet and guitar. Free participation – 8.30pm La Tour d’Auzay, 12 rue de Petit Pont – Auzay, 79150 Argentonnay. 11 - FIRST ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION at Café Pause, L’Absie. 13 - LIVE MUSIC WITH BENNETT & SEAGS at Restaurant de Canards, Chef-Boutonne. See page 31 for more information.

16-18 - THE MAD HATTER’S WONDERLAND FESTIVAL provides an opportunity for locals and music fans from far and wide to enjoy fantastic professional musicians, of many genres, in a laid-back setting. Along with great food and drink. Headliners From The Jam, Animals and Friends and The Rubettes. For more information see the poster on page 6 or go to: 17 - FUN RACE DAY at Le Regal’on in Allonne. Tickets only (cannot be obtained at the door) 5€ per person. Food available. For contact details see page 31. 17-18 - OPEN DAY AT THE AEROCLUB MELLOIS in Chenay. Includes exhibition of Vintage cars. 23 - LOCAL FARMERS MARKET at Bressuire in the grounds of the château, from 6pm. Around 30 local producers. 25 - FRENCH FOLK MUSIC AT PESCALIS. Paulo & Co perform. Starts 11am-12pm, free entry. 25 - VINTAGE CAR RALLY in La Mothe-Saint-Héray. From 8am 4.30pm at the Orangerie. Watch the teams as they take a 180km loop rally. Free entry. 25 - FÊTE OF NATURE AND HUNTING in Celles-sur-Belle. In the gardens of the Royal Abbey, entertainment all day. Entry 6€. 25-30 - LUMIÈRES DU BAROQUE at Abbaye de Celles-sur-Belle. For programme and more information 30 - SUMMER EVENING MARKET in Vasles (see 2 August). 30-31 - THE NIGHTS OF SAINT HILAIRE in Melle. Evenings of music, entertainment, food and drink. 30 - HERITAGE EVENING in Champdeniers. From 9pm at the site of the old tanneries, free shows including flamenco music and dance. Pre-show food and bar on site. 30 - NATURE DISCOVERY, BEES AND HONEY in Chef-Boutonne (FR). The commune of Chef-Boutonne will be installing bee hives on communal plots. This morning exhibition and explanations are to increase awareness of the plight of bees. Honey tasting to close the morning. Free entry, begins at 10.30am. 30-1 September - LES NUITS D’ETE MUSICALS 2019 in Parthenay. Poster on page 6. 30-1 September - MONTGOLFIADE DE THOUARS. The 11th edition of this meeting where 42 hot air balloons take to the sky. Activities for kids, musical entertainment, fireworks, on-site catering and much more. Further information at 31 - FUN AUCTION IN AID OF WALKING FOR VIOLET FUND at La Ferriere-en-Parthenay. For more information contact Jan on

contact ‘The DSM’

21-22 September - The Château de La Commanderie d’Ensigné 79 will be celebrating European Heritage Days. Shows and

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

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

OPEN mornings

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*(FR) = French language

what’s COMING UP... demonstrations take place throughout the day including artists, heritage craftsmen, medieval troupes, storytellers, acrobats, magicians, jugglers, actors and a gourmet market of local products. The event runs from 10am to 6pm. Ensigné is located on the wooded walk of the forest of Aulnay. See page 7 for more information.

La Vendée Chippy Weds: ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: ‘La Bohème’, 69 route du lac, Mervent Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, Mouilleron-en-Pareds Sat: Last of month : Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil Sat 3 - Salle de Fêtes, 85210 La Chapelle-Thémer Sat 17 - Brass band concert, Saint Germain de Prinçay Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

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

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

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm

...August 2019 LOCAL MARKETS

REGULAR EVENTS... EVERY MON & WED 2PM-6PM Duplicate Bridge at Civray. Lessons available free. Contact Marian Green: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: EVERY TUES AT 5PM Belote at Café des Sports, L’Absie. EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Painting Workshops. Please see EVERY WEDs AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book Afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. EVERY WEDS - Franglais Bressuire 8-10pm in term time at the Centre Socio-culturelle. EVERY THURS AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs. EVERY THURS FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€. In aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY THURS - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie. For times contact Jean on tel: 06 52 93 33 60. EVERY THURS - Franglais group in Montournais. Contact Penny Homewood 02 51 63 31 21 or EVERY FRI AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact 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 Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 2nd Tues of Month AT 8PM - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne. 3RD WEDS of month AT 7.30PM - Team Quiz. At Le Clemenceau Bar, Mouilleron-en-Pareds, in aid of animal charities. 3RD WEDS OF MONTH AT 3PM Franglais Group at Café Pause!, L’Absie. Last FRI of month - Books, CDs, DVDs etc. sale. Chez Sue and Stuart Marshall, 12 rue du Bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois, in aid of animal charities (2pm-5pm) tel: 02 51 51 00 96.


Benet 85490 La Châtaigneraie 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Tuesdays......... Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300 Vasles 79340 Wednesdays.... Parthenay 79200 - and - Celles-sur-Belle 79370 Ruffec 16700 Thursdays........ Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 - and - Niort 79000 La Mothe St Héray 79800 Gençay 86160 Friday............... Thouars 79100 - and - Melle 79500 Secondigny 79130 (pm)-and-St Aubin le Cloud (pm) Civray 86400 (small food market) Saturdays........ Bressuire 79300 - and - Champdeniers 79220 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Airvault 79600 - and - Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l’École 79400 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 Ruffec 16700 Magné 79460 and Moncoutant 79320 Sundays............ Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600


The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2019 15th August 6th October 31st October 1st November 11th November 25th December

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.

Assumption of Mary (Assomption) Grandfather’s Day (Fête des Grands-Pères) Halloween All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël)

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.

(Dates in bold=Public holidays)



To ‘The DSM’!


TOP HAT QUIZ Nights 1: 5: 12: 14:

Chef Boutonne Limalonges Theil Rabier Aigre

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm

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).

FISH 4 CHIP & AUTHENTIC INDIAN MEALS Mon: Charroux Tues: Sauzé-Vaussais (main square) Weds: Chef Boutonne (near château) Thurs: Sauzé-Vaussais - Eve (main square) Fri: Ruffec (Baobab car park)

EMERGENCY NUMBERS: 15 17 18 12 113

SAMU (Medical Advice) Gendarmes (Police) Pompiers (Fire Service) European Emergency Drugs and Alcohol

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

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

Getting Out & About Chez Christie’s BEAUTIFUL GIFTS & CARDS Masses of Quality Gifts for Family, Friends, The Home … and for You ! Stunning Cards for All Occasions !

DELICIOUS HOME-BAKING Cream Teas, Cupcakes, Brownies, Bakewell Tart, Rich Fruit Cake … Home-Made Lemonade & Iced Tea

ENGLISH BOOKS from only 0,50 € INTERNET ACCESS & PRINTING Thousands of --and Books & Hundreds of Beautiful Cards Online : AMAZON.CO.UK / SHOPS / CHRISTIESGENCAY GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

Siret: 47876969800018

ww wWW

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, August 2019

Original paintings for Sale

by Jean David Award winning Australian artist Jean David will be exhibiting this summer at the newly opened Community Artspace - L’Art du coin located in the centre of Chef Boutonne (79). Jean also runs an art class every Tuesday in Scille (79), and ad hoc, flexible lessons for holiday-makers (including all equipment supplied) can also be arranged. Contact Jean on 06 52 93 33 60 or visit

The Château de La Commanderie d’Ensigné 79 will be celebrating:

European heritage days On the 21 and 22 September 2019

Ensigné celebrates its heritage at the Château de La Commanderie. The event runs from 10am to 6pm. There will be plenty of activities, events and entertainment for everyone: In the inner courtyard, around the castle and the Templar chapel, shows, events and demonstrations take place throughout the day: artists and heritage craftsmen, medieval troupes, storytellers, acrobats, magicians, jugglers, actors. There will also be a gourmet market of quality local products. Medieval workshops and games for young and old. Visit the medieval towers at the old dungeon on registration at the entrance (groups limited to 15 people). Taverne des brigands and Auberge des Chevaliers to eat. Reservation possible on 06 60 65 81 58 Ensigné is located on the wooded walk of the forest of Aulnay, between Brioux (79) and Aulnay-de-Saintonge (17). The Château de la Commanderie is at the entrance of the village on the Arsange road. Entry fee 4€ per adult, children free (up to 12 years) Guided tour + 1€ (English spoken)





Telegram from the Queen. My husband and I would like to wish ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine many congratulations on reaching their centenary. © wiki commons/Sodacan -Joel Rouse and naualdesign

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 7


The First Transatlantic flight


s well as celebrating our own 100th issue, we look at others who have reached their centenary. Alcock and Brown made the first non-stop transatlantic flight in June 1919. The possibility of transatlantic flight by aircraft emerged after WWI, which had seen amazing advances in aerial capabilities. In April 1913 a £10,000 (£451,400 in 2019) prize was offered by The Daily Mail to: ‘the aviator who shall first cross the Atlantic in an aeroplane in flight from any point in the United States of America, Canada or Newfoundland and any point in Great Britain or Ireland in 72 continuous hours.’ The competition was suspended with the outbreak of war in 1914 but reopened after Armistice was declared in 1918. Like something from a Jules Verne novel there were four teams competing to be the first non-stop across the Atlantic. Australian pilot Harry Hawker in a The Vickers Vimy aircraft of Alcock and Brown single engine Sopwith Atlantic; Frederick Raynham and C.W.F. Morgan in a Martinsyde; the Handley Page Group, led by Mark Kerr; and the Vickers entry John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown. Each group had to ship its aircraft to Newfoundland and use a rough field for take-off. Hawker and Mackenzie-Grieve made the first attempt on 18 May, but engine failure brought them down in the ocean where they

Residents: Helping you to deal with French paperwork Making telephone calls/arrange appointments etc Helping with health cover, car registration etc

Holiday home owners: Dealing with or forwarding mail in your absence Arranging for your home to be cleaned for your return Keyholder services

If you are moving to or from the area: Advising utility companies of your arrival or departure Arranging mail redirection Organising house clean for arrival/departure

Small businesses: General admin support Typing quotes, invoices etc

Contact me for more info Tel: +33 (0)6 31 45 85 12 Cindy Allen, 64 rue de la République, 79240 L'Absie Siret: 807 812 433 00017

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019



were rescued. Raynham and Morgan also made an attempt on the same day but crashed on take off due to the high fuel load. The Handley Page team was in the final stages of testing for the flight in June, but the Vickers group was ready earlier. During the War, Alcock resolved to fly the Atlantic, and after the war he approached the Vickers engineering and aviation firm at Weybridge, which had considered entering its Vickers Vimy IV twin-engined bomber in the competition but had not yet found a pilot. Alcock's enthusiasm impressed Vickers' team, and he was appointed. Work began on converting the Vimy for the long flight, replacing its bomb racks with extra petrol tanks. Shortly afterwards Brown, who was unemployed, approached Vickers seeking a post and his knowledge of long distance navigation convinced them to take him on as Alcock's navigator. At 1.45pm on 14 June, while the Handley Page team was conducting yet another test, the Vickers plane took off from Newfoundland. Alcock and Brown flew the modified Vickers Vimy, powered by two Rolls-Royce Eagle 360hp engines. It was not an easy flight, with unexpected fog, and a snow storm almost causing the crewmen to crash into the sea. Their altitude varied between sea level and 12,000ft and upon take-off, they carried 3,900 litres of fuel. They made landfall in Galway at 8.40am on 15 June 1919, after less than sixteen hours of flying. Secretary of State for Air, Winston Churchill, presented Alcock and Brown with the Daily Mail prize. A small amount of mail carried on the flight also made it the first transatlantic airmail flight. As fellow centenarians, we at 'The DSM' salute you Alcock and Brown.

One hundred ! by Sue Burgess


his month The Deux-Sèvres Monthly celebrates its 100th issue (centième édition) which means that this is my 99th article (quatre-vingt-dix-neuvième article) as I didn’t contribute to the first issue. I hope you have been pacing up and down impatiently (faire les cent pas) waiting for this special issue to come out and not pulling a long face (faire une tête de cent mètres de long). Whatever, I’m not going to worry about it and lose weight over it. I don’t want to be as skinny as a rake (maigre comme un cent de clous). In a nutshell (en deux mots comme en cent) it has not always been easy to find a new subject that is likely to interest everyone. But if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again (cent fois sur le métier remets ton ouvrage). Sometimes writing the articles can seem to take forever (cent-sept ans). However, we are not living life in the fast-lane (vivre à cent à l’heure) here in the Deux-Sèvres so to speak, and so time can usually be found one way or another. The word hundred or one hundred is translated by cent. The French word cent has some peculiarities when it comes to spelling. It is spelled cent when it means just one hundred. There are a hundred centimes in a euro. (Il y a cent centimes dans un euro). When it is followed by another number there is a hyphen. My neighbour is 102-years-old. (Mon voisin a cent-deux ans) . Two hundred is deux cents and three hundred is trois cents etc. but when there is another number after we drop the s. There are 365 days in a year. (Il y a trois cent-soixante-cinq jours dans l’année).

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: cent balles et un Mars .................

in your dreams! don’t hold your breath!

cent fois sur le métier remets ton ouvrage ...................................

if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

cent fois sur le métier remettre son ouvrage ...............................

if at first you don’t succeed, try again

cent jours/Cent-Jours .................

hundred days

cent mètres .................................

hundred metres

cent pour cent ............................

one hundred per cent

cent sept ans/cent-sept ans .......

(figurative) forever

être maigre comme un cent de be as skinny as a rake clous ......................................... la guerre de Cent Ans................... the Hundred Years’ War nager le cent mètres ................. swim the 100 metres pour cent....................................

per cent The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 9





The car-towed caravan


he first car-towed caravan entered commercial production in the UK in 1919, rolling off the production line at Eccles Motor Transport Ltd. in Gosta Green, Birmingham. That first caravan created a template that has since been used the world over. Caravans evolved rather than invented. They were used in Marco Polo’s time (13th century), by a character in Charles Dickens’ Old Curiosity Shop (1841) and during WWI. However, the caravan for leisure seems to have taken off in the beginning of the 20th century. It was then a pursuit for the wealthy and leisured - Harrods and Fortnum and Mason used to hire them out. The National Caravan Council was founded in 1939.

In which European country are the most touring caravans sold? In 2018 Germany 28%, UK 21% and France 14%.

Rather unlikely caravanners include Wayne Hemingway, founder of Red or Dead, Robbie Williams (who used a motorhome whilst on tour), Dame Helen Mirren, and Will Smith, who (allegedly) has a two-storey motorhome complete with dance floor. Some top tips for caravanners • To hold your cupboard items in place, line your cupboards with non-slip matting. • To prevent ant infestations place the legs of your caravan in dishes of water so the ants can’t cross. • Carrying a couple of bricks or blocks of wood, plus spirit level to avoid sleeping on an angle. • A trip in a van can put a strain on even the strongest of relationships. Give each other space. As fellow centenarians, we at ‘The DSM’ salute you car-towed caravan.

Note: The word caravan does not come from Romany, where they are a relatively recent addition, but from the Persian (karwan). Things you (probably) never knew about caravans... • How many caravans are there in the UK? Over a million! (500,000 touring caravans, 330,000 caravan holiday homes and 135,000 motorhomes). • If all the touring caravans in Britain were put end to end, they would stretch from Land’s End to John o’Groats three times (3,000 miles).

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Left photo: 1954 Fairway caravan ©wikicommons/sv1 ambo Above: Rolls-Royce with matching caravan ©wikicommons/W.Carter

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres

by Sue Burgess


by Sue Burgess


ituated four kilometres south of Verruyes, Saint-Georgesde-Noisné is surrounded by the communes of Clavé and La Chapelle-Bâton. The inhabitants are known as the Nénéens and the Nénéennes.

Saint George’s church dates from the 12th, 15th and 17th centuries. In 1110 Pope Pascal II gave it to the abbey at Saint-Maixent. From the 14th century onwards, the Parish depended on the bishop of Poitiers.

The river Chambon crosses the commune of Saint-Georges-deNoisné which is part of the Communauté de communes Val-deGâtine.

The exterior aspect of the church confirms that different parts of the building date from different periods. The bell tower seems to be an addition to the main building. It is in the form of a square tower with two parts, one on top of the other. The entrance to the church is through an open porch (called a balet in Deux-Sèvres), which connects the facade of the church to the bell tower. The church originally had just one nave, but the arches were completely rebuilt and the nave today has three transepts. The church was enlarged in the 15th century with the addition of a second nave.

There are 78 lieu-dits (little hamlets), six routes, five chemins, four rues, two squares, one impasse (dead end street) and 717 inhabitants on the commune. Saint-Georges-de-Noisné has changed its name twice over its history. In 1793 it was known as Saint Georges and in 1801 SaintGeorges-de-Noiné. The village has probably existed since the Gallic period or at least from the Middle Ages. There are three historical monuments on the commune – the church, an old cross dating from the 12th century, which is an old cemetery cross that now stands in the Place des Marronniers, and the Logis de Salette which is the outbuildings of the old Abbaye des Châteliers and dates from the 12th, 15th and 16th centuries. History: The church is mentioned in 1161 on the maps of the Abbey des Châteliers. The abbey was situated on the communes of Fomperron and Chante. The priory of Grange-Salette depended on this Cistercian Abbey and was one of the lands and farms given to or acquired by the abbey. La Salette is today privately owned and situated just outside the town centre on the road to Augé. Different agricultural outbuildings are arranged around a square tower. There is a chapel which probably dates from the 12th century, a watch tower (une échauguette) in the north-west corner and a sculptured cross which is now inside the house, suggesting that the Knights Templar might have used the place for a while. There are two round towers, three 16th century fireplaces and a round pigeon loft to the east of the house. This dwelling and set-up is typical of a Cistercian farm. The house and the outbuildings are listed historical buildings. Other historical features of interest on the commune include the remains of the Château de La Touche-Poupard - the castle was partly destroyed during the 20th century.

The square from which we enter the church is the Place Henriette Aymer de la Chevalerie. She was baptised in the church in 1767 and later founded an order La congrégation des Sacrés-Coeurs de Jésus et de Marie et de l’Adoration perpétuelle . The bell tower contains two bells founded in 1866 by I.Gousset, a bell founder in Metz. There are several statues in the church – Joseph and Jesus as a child, the Virgin Mary carrying Jesus, Our Lady of Lourdes, Saint Antoine de Padoue, Sainte Anne and Mary, Joan of Arc, Saint Peter, (the Cathedral of Poitier is dedicated to Saint Peter), and JeanBaptiste de la Salle. The cross from the old cemetery dates from the 12th century, it was modified during the 15th century. There are several washouses on the commune: • Lavoir de Fond Nivoux • Lavoir de La Barlière • Lavoir de la Protellerie • Lavoir du Couday • Lavoir des Cariotières • Lavoir des Vieilles Vignes • Lavoir de La Touche-Poupard • Lavoir du Bois des vignes • Lavoir d’Asnière.

The old manor (ancienne seigneurie) at La Chevalerie which is now a farm.

Main photo: Saint George’s church, Saint-Georges-de-Noisné Inset photo: the cross from the cemetery (photos by Sue Burgess)

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

Take a Break Fun in the Sun Spot the difference. 11 things are missing from the picture on the right. Can you find them? Answers on P. 43

The Deux-Sèvres travel game

If you’re off on holiday and the journey’s dragging, Eye Spy has lost its novelty and the wine gums are running low, why not try our travel game with a travelling companion to pass the time? Test your observational skills by spotting the objects along the highways and byways of the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas, listed below. Keep a record of your points on our handy score card. Like all good car games, it’s bound to end in an argument!

Objects to be spotted. Points Route barrée






Speed camera


Water tower




Wind turbine


Staring Frenchman





12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

Player 1

Player 2

Player 3

DSM Easy Crossword

Across: 1. Idle chatter (6) 4. Domesticated llama with a silky fleece (6) 8. A depository for goods (5) 9. A city on the Loire river, in north-central France (7) 10. Stay clear and keep away from (5) 11. Main body of riders in a cycle race (7) 12. One of a pair of slender sticks used as tableware to eat food with (9) 15. Concerned only with yourself (7) 16. Feeling the need to see others suffer; nastiness (5) 17. Mexican spirit fermented from the agave plant (7) 18. Furiously angry (5) 19. Kidney shaped nut only edible when roasted (6) 20. A hat tied under the chin (6)

Down: 2. A musical interval of eight tones (6) 3. A poker hand with consecutive cards in the same suit (8-5) 5. An opinion formed beforehand without adequate evidence (13) 6. A ravine formed by a river with little rainfall (6) 7. A place to store organic materials used to feed future plants (7-4) 13. A city in south-western Switzerland (6) 14. Lack of agreement or harmony (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

Across: 1. For posh bloke to lose his head is really not on! (3) 3. Love invested in feline protection. (4) 5. According to report, college is already consumed? (4) 9. Suggest particle is removed from place? (5) 10. Pass through time in order to counteract an event? (7) 11. Curiously is around for driver of group of old fogeys? (8, 4) 14. Carrier of security for Spanish noble? (6) 15. Leaders of British operation making bold early raid in large craft. (6) 18. Using ‘Daft Les’ to put the thing together, we are going to find problems! (6, 6) 21. Almost ethereal construction of hide? (7) 22. Finding directions in misty With thanks to M.Morris conditions is tough! (5) 23. The kind of jacket you should never take off? (4) 24. Become someone giving colour treatments after I withdraw from my role as handyman? (4) 25. FC substitution putting young slave into waterproof? (3)

Brain Gym Q1: Q2: Q3: Q4: Q5: Q6: Q7:

What is full of holes but still holds water? What has six faces and twenty one eyes but cannot see? When do you go at red and stop at green? How far can a rabbit run into the woods? I have two coins which add up to 15 pence and one of the coins is not a 10 pence piece. What are the two coins? Guess the next three letters in the series GTNTL. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a long one. Michael J. Fox has a short one. Madonna does not use hers. Bill Clinton always uses his. The Pope never uses his. What is it?

Down: 1. China works on Italian river? (4) 2. Heavy cloth for follower in ruffled suit? Quite the opposite! (7) 3. Scuttle thong! What to do with the material after re- patterning? (3, 2, 7) 4. Rank Organisation with a starter to occupy nerd? (6) 6. Route to follow? (5) 7. We hear the sound when an equine is born? (3) 8. Bizarrely drove one turn too many rather than too few? (4, 3, 5) 12. Poet reportedly outstayed his welcome? (4) 13. Final parts of opera ended with speed; loss of self control? (1. 1. 1. 1.) 16. Garden, for example, put a pen round international organisation after retraction? (7) 17. No entrance to flat, landing on a beam, causing a fracas? (6) 19. Caused in 17, but this time article left out for protection in storm? (5) 20. Small cat found in the fog? (4) 21. Annoying (for some) sign off included in special Olympics? (3)

Q8: A man wanted to encrypt his password but he needed to do it in a way so that he could remember it. He had to use seven characters consisting of letters and numbers only. In order to remember it, he wrote down You force heaven to be empty. What is his password? Q9: Can you work out the well known phrase or saying from the visual clues? b.



1357 AZ

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 13

Answers on P.43 and our website:

DSM Toughie Crossword


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.

French Lessons for English Speakers

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

AL-ANON Support Group

Do you wish the Drinking Would Stop? Are you troubled by someone’s drinking? If so we can help. There is now an English-speaking Al-Anon meeting every Wednesday @ 2.30pm in the meeting room behind Civray Mairie. Just turn up or ring Angela on 05 49 87 79 09.

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: 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:

The Jean David Art Group meets every Tuesday at Scillé (79), and Thursdays at Jean’s studio near Chef Boutonne (79). Classes cater for all media and all levels of students - beginners most welcome! For details, please visit www. or phone Jean on 06 52 93 33 60.

Franglais Anglo-French Group Thouars - Centre Socio-Culturel

We meet every Wednesday 7.30pm-9pm, at 7 rue Anne Desrays, for conversation in English & French, for a mutual understanding of each other’s language and culture. Contact 05 49 66 35 11 or email jpc. or

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.

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 Acceuil des Villes Françaises - A French association dedicated to welcoming newcomers, from across France & abroad, to their new environment; helping them integrate, speak French and feel ‘at home’ through social events.

Alone in France?

We are a group of people living alone who meet on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays at 11am for coffee at the café Pause! in L’Absie. Our lunches are at different venues each month, a warm welcome awaits you. MERIDIEN GREEN ASSOCIATION We are a cross cultural association who aim for closer integration of the inhabitants of St Coutant 79120 and surrounding areas. Free weekly language classes on Monday evenings and Tuesday afternoons. For all our events visit 14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

Please visit the branch website:

Combined Services Support by Steve Marsden Group (CSSG)


t’s been a very busy month for us here at the CSSG as the summer kicks in. On 16 June The CSSG Charity held a musical extravaganza at our chairman’s home in Saint Pardoux. There was a duet band singing some of our favourite songs, The Vendée Ukulele Band played and there were songs from some of the Keynotes Choir members. I would like to give a special thanks to John and Sue Blair for allowing us to use their lovely home to stage this event. The money raised was donated to the following charities; Association des Femmes et Families de Marins de Vendée, Blesma - The Limbless Veterans (formerly known as the British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association - BLESMA), and Combat Stress. I’m sure you will agree with me that these are all very good causes.

If you read my June update in ‘The DSM’, I was doing some training for the Para’s 10 (French style), which was going well. It’s ten miles carrying 35 pounds weight (I’m having a midlife crisis and think I’m 21 again). I was training three times a week with a couple of friends, doing between seven and ten kilometres per tab/walk, not bad to start off with. However, now it’s fizzed out due to the hot weather (no, I’m not moaning about the weather). So I must get a move on or come September I will be regretting it. If anyone is interested in doing some training with me get in touch. We are always looking for new members. So If you are interested in becoming a member or just helping out at events then contact me on or John Blair on - it’s all for a good cause.

Walking For Violet T

by Team #W4V

he start of David Jeapes’s epic one million step challenge is almost here.

From 6 September, for one month, he will be walking up the gruelling GR36 route from his home in the Deux-Sèvres to Ouistreham. Then along the south coast of England to Hastings, East Sussex, the home town of his granddaughter, Violet. This challenge (775km) is not for recreation or pilgrimage, but to raise funds for Violet, aged 4. Violet has a debilitating medical condition, cerebral palsy, which affects all four of her limbs. She also has dystonia (chronic involuntary muscle contractions), epilepsy and a rare chromosome disorder. Violet needs round the clock care, takes daily medication and requires equipment to walk, play and stand. This challenging walk is not just about raising money, it’s also about raising awareness. As well as being incredibly expensive, having a child with complex medical needs brings new challenges each day, some successes, but many failures and stresses. Each 24 hours is an enormous emotional roller coaster. This is a journey of one generation reaching out to another, across countries, speaking the international language of love and support, a story told a million times within a million families. The difference is that in this instance, the support required is beyond the capacity of the family alone.

Gîtes and B&B, The Moonshine Club, Neal’s Yard Julie Hutchison, Stephen Shaw Cartoonist and Kelly’s Pampering. Plus all of the individuals that have already donated, or given up their time to help raise money for Violet’s Fund and the local businesses that have donated raffle prizes for past and future events. Get Involved There is still time for you to get involved (you can find out more information on the following from our website): • Why not walk with David for 10km, 15km or 30km and invite your friends to sponsor you • Sponsor a bed for the night, a meal, the ferry crossing, new boots, an item of clothing etc. • Create a link to our website from yours • Hold a fundraising event • Pledge money for each step, kilometre or stage of the journey, or a flat amount • Donate: in euros via Paypal or in pounds via Justgiving • Offer a bed for the night, or a meal on route • Organise a fundraising event for one of David’s rest days near you: 9 September Blanchard 79100 13 September Le Châtaignier 49490 17 September La Bretonnière 72220 22 September Sillé plage 72140 27 September Putanges-Pont-Écrepin 61210

David will arrive in Hastings on 6 October, World Cerebral Palsy Day, to a celebration party at Azur, Hastings, which will include two live local bands, a beach BBQ, an amazing raffle for donated goods and services by local businesses, and will be attended by the Mayor of Hastings, the Deputy Mayor, the Leader of the Council, Meridian TV and the local newspaper. His love for his granddaughter, and people’s desire to help Violet, the little girl with the big smile, has generated a fantastic community spirit here in France and in the UK. There is now a 12 strong support team voluntarily helping with the logistics of the walk (finding accommodation, food stops, clothing, footwear, etc.), creating and generating wide social media coverage, planning and hosting fundraising events and much more.

Please follow and support us on social media, and share it as far as you can. ‘Like’ the Facebook page, ‘follow’ to get notification of David’s live video blogs of his training and the walk; his feelings, the highs and lows, events along the route and details of where he is. Invite your friends to like the page too. Tweet and retweet his journey. Get onto your favourite social media app and raise awareness of the day to day struggles for Violet and her family.

Heartfelt thanks must go out to the following businesses for

Fundraising events, dates for your diary: • 17 August - Horse Racing at Le Regal’On, Allonne Blevins Franks, Le Regal’On Bar and Restaurant, La Germondière • 24 August - Yoga by Debs Saunders in France Fishing Gîtes, LPV Technology, Alacim Social Saint Pardoux Media and Marketing, Educ’Aventure, Camping Court • 31 August - Jan’s Fun Auction in de Vallée, Sarah Berry Online, Café Rendez-vous, TLC Beaulieu-sous-Parthenay For updates and information about the main fundraising event - - #W4V Association number: W793005002 everything they have done so far:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 15

Hobbies Writing prompts


by Alison Morton

o you want to become a better writer? One of the best things you can do is to practise every day. But sometimes it can be hard to think of what to write about. Writing prompts are the answer! Whether you write short stories, poems, a full-length novel, blog posts or keep a journal the ideas below will stretch your imagination and hopefully spark some ideas.

by John Blair

Hitting the highs on Oléron

Baker’s dozen: Walk past your local boulangerie/pâtisserie, take a deep breath to savour the smells and take a surreptitious look at the people inside. Plenty to write about there! Risk: Write about taking a gamble on something. Silver lining: Write about the good that happens in a bad situation. Gloves: Write about a pair of gloves – what kind of gloves are they? Who wears them and why? Footsteps on the moon: Suppose it was you who landed on the moon… Sneeze: Write about things that make you sneeze.

For three days in July, including that of the annual Fête de la Musique, over 30 members of the Keynotes Choir and the Out of Kilters Scottish Dancing Group of Reaction Theatre made a visit to the Île d’Oléron. This was the second visit following the successful performances in 2018. Tony Murdoch spent many hours organising the tour performances at three different churches across the island, creating posters, programmes and advertising. He was also responsible for putting us through our paces every Thursday evening.

How’s it going?

The Musical programme was arranged by our Musical Directors Margaret Round and Aidan Fairlie. Margaret was able to enjoy singing with Keynotes as Aidan conducted the choir for most of the programme. In addition he played an amazing flute solo and led our recently formed musical ensemble which comprises piano (Ann Milton), violin (Linda Fairlie and Carol Winter), cello (Angela Greene), and double bass (Nigel Pearce). This group has added a welcome new dimension to Keynotes performances. Linda Fairlie superbly accompanied the choir through the majority of the performances.

Jury duty: Write a short story that takes place in a courtroom. Gifts: Write about a gift you have given or received. Running: Write about running away from someone or something. Picnic: Write about going on a picnic. Where, when, with who, why? Boredom: Write about being bored or make a list of different ways to entertain yourself. Garage: Write about some random item you might find in your garage or shed. Detective: Write about a detective searching for clues or solving a mystery. Gratitude: Write a poem or journal entry that is all about things you are thankful for. More ideas… Longing: Write about something you very much want to do. Museum: Take some time to visit a nearby museum and write about one of the exhibits that speaks to you. Waterfall: Think of a waterfall you’ve seen in person or spend some time browsing photos of waterfalls online. Write about the movement, flow, and energy. First Kiss: Write about your first kiss. So ironic: Write about an ironic situation you’ve been in throughout your life. Limerick: Write a limerick today. What’s today’s theme? Grocery shopping: Write about an experience at the local market or supermarket. Greed: Write about someone who always wants more – whether it be money, power, etc. What’s behind it? Time travel: If there was a time period you could visit for a day, where would you go? Write about travelling back to that day. Changing places: Imagine living the day as someone else. Opposites: Write a poem/story that ties in together two opposites. Interview: Who would you like to interview - alive, dead or imaginary? Hiding spaces: What was a favourite hiding spot for you as a child playing hide-and-seek? Where would you hide as an adult? Strength:Think of a time when you’ve been physically or emotionally strong and use that as inspiration. Book inspired: Think of your favourite book. Now write a poem that sums up the entire story in ten lines.

Happy writing! 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. 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

The tour was, once again, a great success with audiences of well over 100 at each venue. The word most heard from the largely French audiences was “superbe”, and standing ovations were received at every performance. Many of the audience enthusiastically joined in with the dancing, despite the hot weather. It was, indeed, very hot and I personally found the breeze up my kilt a great comfort.

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen... but not goodbye

After leading Keynotes for the last nine years, Margaret Round has decided to step down from the role and instead become a singing member of the choir. She is handing over the baton to the very capable hands of Aidan Fairlie. Margaret first introduced Can’t Sing won’t Sing to a handful of Reaction Theatre members who had never been in a choir before. She developed this small group into the Keynotes Choir it is today with over 40 members. Thank you Margaret for all your hard work over the years and all you have done for us. We wish you well and hope you will remain with us as a member of the choir for many years to come. Keynotes and the Out of Kilters are now taking a well deserved break until late September.

The Art Scene

Jane Trescothick and Pauline Roden are now running the Art Scene programme. You may have seen the article in the July issue of ‘The DSM’, looking for new members. If you join now it costs just 6€ subscription for the remainder of 2019 and thus covers all sections of Reaction Theatre.

Best wishes, John


Beekeeping Adventures

by Amanda and Kevin Baughen


hen people discover that we keep bees, pretty much the first question is always about honey: do we get a lot? What’s it like? What kind of honey do our bees produce? The answers are: “it varies thanks to the weather and a number of other things”, “lovely (of course!) and sticky”, and “that depends on what type of nectar they’ve been collecting”. This last point is of most interest to us, and it’s another fascinating part of keeping bees – they don’t make honey for us, they store it so that they have something to eat during the winter months when there is no forage available. They aren’t concentrating on making a particular flavour of honey, they are just bothered about collecting enough nectar to turn into honey for themselves. Honey is actually the result of a process whereby the bees mix nectar with two enzymes produced from glands in their heads. The water content of the nectar/enzyme mix is reduced to around 18% and this is then capped over with beeswax. These added enzymes break down the sugars in the nectar (mostly fructose and glucose with perhaps some sucrose too), giving honey a very low pH. This is important as, along with the low water content, the honey becomes inhospitable to bacteria, in turn enabling it to last for years as a very stable food. Honey’s colour, flavour and smell all derive from the nectar collected by the bees, and so honeys can be as varied as the nectar-producing plants that the bees have accessed. Its colour can range from almost clear to nearly black, like treacle. People who don’t usually like honey may be surprised to find one that they do as the consistency as well as the flavour can vary. We’ll be harvesting some of the honey from our bees next month, so we’ll let you know how we do that in the next column.

Hopefully you are intrigued enough to try a few different honeys to find your favourite. For now we will leave you with a salutary tale from Frank Kingdon-Ward, a renowned botanist. In 1937 he was on a plant-hunting expedition in Tibet with his colleague, the zoologist Lord Cranbrook. The tribesmen they met offered them mead brewed from the local honey, which made them completely drunk, but with no other ill-effect. However, when they ate some of the actual honey, they both suffered the symptoms of acute poisoning, becoming delirious and listless. They discovered that the honey was made from nectar collected from rhododendron flowers, and the locals had become immune to it. So, the moral of the story is, it might be best to avoid rhododendron honey – you have been warned!

Photo: Beware the rhododendron!

To read our blog and find out more about our beekeeping experiences, please visit our website:

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor


ortunately, the view from the Vendée stretches down into Charente-Maritime, so for the second part of our island-hopping adventure, we’ll head south just over the border, past La Rochelle and over the bridge into the Île de Ré. We’ve visited the island several times over the past few years, in the car, in a campervan and even on bikes! We chose the bikes the first time because it’s a sneaky way to avoid the toll; OK, it may only be 8€ in the low season (16€ from mid-June to mid-September), but we like a challenge! The challenge is that the first part of the 3km bridge is uphill against the wind (well, it was when we visited), but once on the island it’s a great way to get around. On our second visit we put the bikes on the back of our campervan and stayed for a few days on an aire in Saint-Martin-de-Ré - the perfect solution! I wouldn’t recommend taking your car over in the high season - the roads can get pretty busy and parking’s a nightmare - it’s better to leave your car in the free car park at the entrance to the bridge and take the electric shuttle for just 1€ per person. There’s no doubt when you visit the Île de Ré that it’s primarily a tourist destination; even in the winter months the cafés and restaurants are doing a roaring trade. The Île d’Oléron on the other hand, feels more like an English seaside resort on the south coast welcoming the tourist in a much more subdued way. The island is best-known for its oyster beds; visit the Fort-Royer oyster farm for a guided tour and dégustation - interesting, but I think that’ll be a first and last for us - an acquired taste, methinks…. To be honest, we haven’t visited either of the other two nearby islands, the Île-d’Aix and the Île Madame - I’m not a good sailor so I avoid sea crossings, but if you are keen on boats, you might like to take a day trip via Fort Boyard to either or both of the islands. How lucky are we to have such an interesting coastline? It’s really worth putting some time aside to visit one or more of the islands - hopefully, like us, you’ll want to visit again and again….

Enjoy the hollyhocks on all of the islands throughout the summer months.

Fact file - The Île de Ré • The island has a resident winter population of about 20,000 increasing to 220,000 in summer. • The bridge, buit in 1987, is 3km long, costs between 8€ to 16€ for a normal car, making it the most expensive road to use (per kilometre) in France. • Île de Ré was originally an archipelago consisting of three islands and over time the space inbetween them was filled in by a combination of human activity (salt fields gained from the sea) and siltage. • Donkeys in pyjamas - the larger than average breed of donkey was used to work the land, particularly the salt marshes. To protect them from mosquito and other bug bites, their owners made them special ‘leggings’. Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 17

Vultures in France - Extinction and reintroduction - Part 7 D

uring a trip down to the Pyrenees in the spring of 2018, my wife and I found references in various places to the vultures dying out in the French part of the mountains. In the Pyrenees, we have seen old photographs of farmers and hunters returning with tens of dead vultures. They were seen as evil beasts and a danger to the livelihood of the local farmers. There was apparently either no knowledge or no thought as to their place in the local ecology. This direct hunting of the birds, and also the placing of poisoned bait to kill bears and wolves, gradually reduced the French populations to zero by the early 1900s. However, these days the vultures of France are more or less protected birds – one may not wilfully kill or disturb them. If I look at the modern maps showing the distribution of vultures in Europe, I see that nearly the whole of Spain has colonies of vultures, whilst there are only three main areas with vultures in France: the Pyrenees, with an extension into the main populations in Spain; Provence and Prealps; and the Grands Causses regional park. Clearly, in Spain the situation must have been different: the birds were not wiped out, and this ensured a continuity of the Pyrenees population in France. Because there was no contiguous population in other more protected areas of France, there they died out completely. Bulgaria suffered in the same way. There have been problems with vulture populations in other parts of the world as well. In the 1990s, India saw a major decline of its vulture population due to the practice of using the veterinary version of diclofenac to treat pain, fever and inflammation in livestock. In fact, diclofenac caused a near extinction, with the loss of 99% of the population of three vulture species. An alternative drug, meloxicam, which is safe for vultures, has now replaced diclofenac, and the vulture population in India is recovering slowly. One of the negative effects of the near-extinction of the vultures was rotting cadavers producing greenhouse gasses and resulting in the spread of disease in human and animal populations. The Indian government is to be praised for its initiative in banning diclofenac. It is also banned in several other countries, including Pakistan, Nepal and Iran. Europe used to be a safe place with regards to this drug until three years ago, when approval was given to the commercialisation of veterinary diclofenac. In France there seems to be no or very little use of it, but in Spain, use of veterinary diclofenac is more prevalent. A single carcass of an animal that had been treated with this medication can poison and kill 20-30 vultures in the course of one meal. The birds can die of acute organ failure within 20 minutes. This is a major problem for the vulture populations, and especially the griffon vulture, since 95% of the European breeding population, amounting to 25,000 breeding pairs, finds its home in Spain. But breeding populations of the bearded

by Howard Needs

vulture, the Egyptian vulture, the Spanish eagle and the red kite that make Spain their home are all in danger, since they, too, feed on cadavers. It is reminiscent of the situation in France for other wildlife, where the use of certain pesticides destroys bee colonies as collateral damage. The obvious answer in Spain would be to ban the veterinary use of the drug and use one of the alternatives available that are not mortal to vultures. All vultures in Europe are subject to another manageable problem, and that is food resources. Being scavengers and carrion eaters, they are dependant on whatever carcasses they can find. Each country has its own laws concerning the disposal of dead farm animals, usually entailing that they should be collected and incinerated. The BSE scare in the 1990s and subsequent legislation in Europe had an effect, albeit temporary, on the vulture populations due to the requirement that no carcasses should be left in the fields to potentially infect grasslands. The law is more supple these days, and so more carcasses are available to scavenging birds in general and vultures in particular. But since wild animals have also been reduced in numbers and therefore also yield fewer carcasses, there are not enough carcasses to go around unless humans intervene. In order to provide the many tons of meat required to sustain the vulture populations, provision has to be made for designating safe feeding grounds for the birds where some, if not all, carcasses can be disposed of. This disposal of cadavers also needs to take into account the locations of wind turbines and overhead power lines, which can be deadly for these large, slow-moving birds. The colonies in France, Spain and Bulgaria depend on food being made available at designated feeding places, an activity undertaken by various associations and by volunteers. This could be seen as another negative, or as something of a positive. Vultures will not be vultures if they hang around all day waiting for the avian version of meals on wheels - they should be up there in the sky soaring joyfully on the currents of the air and with their eyes espying dead deer and wild boar. But if this supplementary feeding is undertaken with care, the birds do not become totally dependant on humans and do not lose their partially learnt lifestyle. Life is not easy being a vulture. On the definite positive side are the efforts by conservationists in the southern European countries and elsewhere to reintroduce the birds to their historically documented ranges. This will be covered in a following article. I have seen in the paper this week that the Artis Royal Zoo Amsterdam has just released three young Griffon Vultures in Sardinia.

One of Howard’s photos of three vultures flying out into the great unknown.

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

Making a fa mi ly of mi ce

oa Fold the ribbon inttack or pin loop and e tail in place where th . be should

by Nicola Chadwick

Now place the mouse body sections with the right sides together and sew from nose to tail, making sure you catch the tail in the seam.

was to make a mouse. I My first sewing project as a child made mice in a range and e plat tem created my own pattern dstitched together, han I of sizes. The smallest mouse, that in a match box! You can lived he and et Stre was called Grub e from my blog site at download your free pattern templat You will need to gather together: • A small piece of fabric for the base – any will do. ful. • A piece of fabric suitable for the body - plain or colour a and ears inner the for ideal is • A small scrap of pink felt small piece of any colour felt for the outer ears. • A short length of ribbon or cord for the tail. • Two small beads or buttons for eyes and one for the nose (or embroider them with satin stitch). as a • Some good quality toy stuffing – I used scrap fabric child, but it makes a bumpy mouse! • Good quality matching sewing thread and a hand sewing needle. • A glue stick. • Pair of scissors. it. • A sewing machine can be used, or you can hand stitch of edges sewn the to A 1cm seam allowance has been added n. the patter selected cut out two Cutting out - using the fabric you have two inner ears. You and r oute two dy, erbo side bodies, one und want to make a you if ears r can use pretty fabric for the inne y. bod side nice contrast. Cut the ear slits on each

craft glue on the back of Preparing the ears - put a spot of outer ears. Fold ears in each inner ear and press them to the g fabric and not felt for half lengthwise. NOTE - if you are usin hand stitch to overlap the the ears then you may want to use a ing. fray any ent prev to edges of the ears Insert the base of each ear into the slit on one side body. The ears face upwards. Pin in place. Sew across the slit either by hand or with a sewing machine, catching the folded ear in a small dart. Do this for both ears.

y to one Sew the underbod machine by r he eit side body side of (from the wrong can also is th or ic) br the fa from the be done by hand a small e right side. Leav rough and gap for turning th stuffing.

Stuff the mouse body with the toy stuffing and hand stitch the gap closed. TIP stitch from the tail to nose so that you end up with your needle and thread at the nose, you can then sew the nose button on with the same thread and continue to sew the eyes all with the same needle and thread. You can use black thread for the nose and eyes. If you are making this for small children, or you can use buttons. Take a double thread and stitch the nose in place, pass the needle through the mouse to come out where the eye will be positioned. Sew one eye button through the through the head to the other eyeholes and pass the needle backwards and forwards sewing the position, travel the needle can pull a little to draw the eyes closbutton eyes in position, you some shape. Why not carry on and er together to give the face make a whole mouse family? You could also make the mouse a house! They love to live in shoe boxes and the more mice you make the happier they are!

anding Join me next month when I will be covering part 2 of our guide to underst free more lots are there then learn to keen are you if and pattern a dress making projects and information on my blog page! Nicola The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 19

Home & Garden

Love your


• •

• by Greenfingers


ardening jobs in August can be a mixed bag. For many gardeners, this month begins the downhill slide into off season, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Your garden plants are hardier than you think and there are plenty of gardening tasks for August that will keep your flower and vegetable gardens going longer, as well as opportunities to get a head start on next year’s garden plans. After the continued warm weather of July the evening watering routine can take longer and longer, as more plants get added to the ‘essentials’ list. You might start to worry about the next water bill, so any way of collecting water or using grey water should be considered. Being the traditional time to jet off on our hols, you may need to enlist the help of a friend or relative to keep the gardening ticking over while you’re away sunning yourself in far-off climbs. Now is the time to: • Continue to water camellias and rhododendrons thoroughly during dry weather as next year’s flower buds are beginning to form and this will ensure better flowering in the spring.

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

• •

If you have not cut back flowering perennials yet, there is still time and they will flower again, putting on new growth before autumn. If you are nervous about cutting them back to ground level, just cut them back them by two thirds. Trim back lavender flower stalks when they have faded and lightly trim current foliage by about 2-3cm to encourage new shoots. Don’t cut into old, woody growth as this does not regenerate. Slugs and snails have not been too much of a problem during the hot July weather, but red lily beetles are still around to devastate the plants. Look out for the grubs in the ‘black sludge’ on the leaves as they do the most damage. Pick them off or rub the leaves with a damp tissue and you’ll keep your fingers clean! Prune the ‘whippy’ new growth on wisteria to five or six leaves. Remove any seed pods that may be left on the plant. Many other shrubs are putting on lots of lush green growth at the moment and the plants energy will go into keeping this growing at the expense of preparing flowers for next year, so a summer prune helps to balance this out. Shrubs to prune now include: clematis (not the spring flowering varieties) grape vines, honeysuckle, ivy, summer jasmine, Virginia creeper, eleagnus, photinia, holly, aucuba, pittosporum, osmanthus. Look out for the larvae of the rose saw fly which can quickly defoliate roses completely. Pick them off and put them on the bird table as a tasty morsel for them. Prune rambling roses after the flowers have faded and hips have formed, by thinning out the oldest stems, tie in new shoots and shorten side shoots by two thirds. If they are pruned much later in the year, they produce an abundance of new green growth at the expense of flower formation. Alstromerias have been flowering amazingly and will continue to do so until the first frosts. They like a sunny position and free draining soil. If you have them in the border, soak well and then let the plants dry out. Feed with a liquid fertiliser (like tomato feed) every week. Deadhead dahlias in pots and borders regularly to keep the plant flowering. Pull off weak stems at ground level when they reach a height of about 20cm. As flower buds develop, ‘disbud’ by taking out the two smaller flower buds below the central flower on a

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• • • • • • • • •

stem and the central flower will be bigger and better. Pick off any earwigs you see as they can damage the petals. Collect seeds from annuals and perennials, storing them in labelled and dated paper bags, ready to sow next spring. Deadhead annuals and perennials and hanging basket flowers by cutting stems just above a leaf joint. This encourages continued flowering and keeps the plants looking neat. Vine weevils may be active this month, so look out for semi-circular notches being eaten out of leaf edges. Lift the plant from the pot and check for the white, comma shaped grub which has a brown head. They devastate plants by eating the roots. Wash the earth away from the roots, grubs and all and repot in fresh compost. Put the grubs on the bird table as a treat for the birds. Take cuttings from perennials such as penstemons, rosemary, fuchsias, salvias, pelargoniums and lavender. Do this in the morning if possible when the plants are full of moisture. Choose strong, healthy, non-flowering stems and put them in a polythene bag to prevent them from drying out. Pot up as soon as possible. Label dahlias clearly, so that when the tubers are lifted in the autumn you remember which is which. Propagate sempervivums by pulling away offsets and planting them in a rockery, crevices in paths or in a pot with a mixture of a small amount of compost and gravel. Keep blackspot on roses in check by removing any fallen leaves from below the plant and cutting off any leaves still attached. Don’t put them on the compost heap, burn them instead. Remove rust infected leaves from hollyhocks and mallows. This appears as orange pustules on the undersides of leaves. Plant autumn flowering bulbs. Water at the base of roses and honeysuckle that may be suffering with powdery mildew. Keeping the foliage dry helps to stop the spread of the disease. Harvest vegetables as soon as they are ready, such as courgettes, spinach and sweetcorn as they quickly become woody and lose their flavour. Cut brassica leaves, spinach, chard and salad leaves. Pick pears just before they are fully ripe as the flesh soon loses its firmness. I love my fruit hard and sour, so I pick and eat immediately before ripening.

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Harvest aubergines whilst the skins are glossy and the flesh hard. Increase feeding of tomatoes to improve yield. Water regularly as irregular watering can lead to blossom end rot. Continue pinching out side shoots and remove lower foliage. Harvest peppers and cucumbers. Plant strawberry runners. Lift, dry and store onions. Keep an eye open for potato/tomato blight. Cut off and throw away any infected foliage. After fruiting, prune summer raspberries, damsons, cherries, peaches and plums. Harvest herbs for immediate use or for drying. Sow oriental and winter salad leaves, radishes and spring cabbage. In hot weather raise the blade on the lawn mower and leave the grass to grow a bit longer; apply a high potash lawn feed and water in well. Prune hedges in order to allow them to thicken up in time for winter. Warm weather encourages pond plants to increase in size very quickly, and algae, duckweed and blanket weed may then choke ‘planted’ aquatic plants. Pond plants should only take up about half of the pond’s surface, allowing oxygen to be absorbed, and insects and other wildlife to drink and breed. All pond plants should be thinned out allowing this to happen more easily. Using a bamboo cane, wind the weeds around it, remove from the water and leave on the ponds edge to allow wild life to easily escape back into the water.

Happy hols!

Greenfingers The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 21

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

Small colour Advert from 35,17€ ttc per month

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 23

Where We Live...



The inside story As ‘The DSM’ reaches its landmark 100th issue, we meet the woman who made it all happen.


t was October 2009 – around a year after Sarah Berry and her husband, Rob, arrived in the Deux-Sèvres – and Sarah, having recently set herself up as an auto entrepreneur (website creator and artist) took a stand at a business fair in Saint Jean d’Angely. “Suddenly someone pushed a black and white English magazine into my hand. It was the Etcetera magazine and I was immediately impressed by the size and content for such a rural part of France. I started advertising my businesses with them from 2009 and soon realised that we were missing something like it in our area. “Everyone I met was struggling to get their business noticed. A few cards in a bar wasn’t good enough. Etcetera wasn’t ready then to increase its distribution into our area so, without stepping on any toes, I decided to do something about it.”

Sarah had no magazine production experience so it meant starting from scratch, though she did have confidence in her design and organisational abilities honed in the UK over several years in the model-making business. “I’d had experience creating artworks and I’d sent plenty of creations off to print, to be made into 3D objects, to be lasercut or turned into vinyl signs. Sending a magazine to print was the same principal, just another medium.” 24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

Sarah Berry

She had already bought an iMac computer and turned a bedroom into an office for her website work, so the magazine didn’t need anything else at the time – just passion, commitment and enough hours in the day to look for advertisers and contributors. “There wasn’t any financial investment – the first lot of advertising paid for the first print run – and so it went on. As soon as I’d sent out the first emails to the few contacts I had I was getting positive responses. Emails were forwarded, people started chatting about the idea and contributors starting approaching me. People were very excited to get on board. I said ‘Yes’ to everyone and most ideas. I wanted it to succeed. The idea went ahead, slowly the content came in and the magazine was born.” March 2011: The first issue of The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine (20 pages in black and white, a print run of 1100 copes and free!) hits the streets... and trouble! “Unfortunately, folk on a popular online forum criticised me from the outset. I had lots of encouragement from locals, but the online comments from others were hurtful. I was probably a little naïve. I’d lived in a happy bubble of love and encouragement all my life, so I wasn’t ready for that kind of feedback. However, those people made me stronger and even more determined to (a) carry on and (b) make it work. I’m a Taurean, you can’t tell me that I can’t do something. I just knuckle down and work harder to prove you wrong!”

by Mick Austin

Thankfully, the negative comments on social media were shortlived once people realised Sarah wasn’t going anywhere and that the magazine was a much-needed resource in the area. So she powered on with it for seven years. Seven years of monthly deadlines, difficult decisions, research to keep the magazine fresh, finding content, contributors and advertisers. “The first five years were great. The magazine grew and grew – in size and in reputation. And the number of copies printed increased to an average of 5000 as a result. It was never going to be a Dragons’ Den product making millions of euros, but it made a profit and that’s what it’s all about. “The problem was that although I had a very supportive husband helping with the running of the house and our daily lives, my workload (the magazine and my website design business) was really starting to take its toll. Spending 60-plus hours a week at the computer, most weeks, with little or no recovery before the next monthly deadline, was hard. So, in late 2016, Rob and I thought that, maybe, ‘The DSM’ could be a sellable product. It wasn’t an overnight decision and there was plenty to consider, but plans were put into action in December 2017. In March 2018, The Deux-Sèvres Monthly was signed over to new owners, Anna and Stephen.” That’s by no means the end of the story. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly is just one chapter in the life of Sarah Berry. There is a constant theme, though, and that theme is creativity. “I’ve always made things. As a little girl swinging her legs at the dining room chair, I was forever painting, drawing, cutting and sticking cardboard loo roll tubes, empty cereal packets and washing up bottles! In all honesty, back then, what I was drawing or making didn’t matter - it was the actual creating that was important to me. “I was lucky enough to be able to follow my passion through school and college, taking GCSE art, A-level art and then on to a BTEC National Diploma in art and design at the well-known Colchester Institute. Having met my long-term best friend on the latter course, I was able to work alongside her in 1995 as design assistant for

Ragdoll Productions. We worked on the childrens’ TV series Teletubbies and a full series of Rosie & Jim. “I’d never been on a narrowboat before and there I was working on one, shooting a TV series with props, a camera crew, two puppets and two actors. It was a little cramped and super exciting! We made props, looked after the puppets and generally made the shots look good. I learned a lot and loved it. “Early in the 1990s my older brother, Greg, started his creative business from our family shed in Colchester. He and his college friend started making models and props for TV and film. Back then there wasn’t the computer-generated imagery there is now and they built up a successful business, Hothouse Models & Effects. They moved to London in 1995 and in 1996 they offered me a job as their personal assistant. Thinking back, I’ve never known a PA to be as creative as I was encouraged to be or to expand on the job description quite as I did (clean and hoover the office each morning, for example!). “I was 20 when I joined and, wow, what a steep learning curve it was. I’d had a good education and upbringing, but I’d never been thrown into running a business before – and that’s pretty much what I was asked to do. I was there to be the core team member, the one that managed and looked after everything. And I loved it! “I learned so much and thrived on the pressure and tasks I was given. They involved anything from learning how to make the perfect cup of tea for 12 sub-contractors to bookkeeping and VAT returns, to learning how to use design softwares to create artworks and elements of the models going on to film sets and in TV studios. I managed projects, dealt with suppliers, ordered materials, negotiated. I learned business procedures, marketing strategies and when the internet came into play from year 2000 (in our workplace), I learned how to build the company website. “Everything was self-taught. It was along the lines of ‘We need this, Sarah, can you sort it?’ There wasn’t money for courses or the time for me to leave the office, so I learned on the job. Looking back

Main photo: Sarah and Rob’s ‘little house in Secondigny’. Top inset picture: Sarah in 1995 working as design assistant on the TV series Rosie and Jim (Photo © Ragdoll Productions). Bottom inset picture: Sarah and husband, Rob, in La Rochelle.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 25

...A look at what makes France so special on it now, it seems a lot for someone aged 20 to deal with. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I was given and believe it was that role spanning ten years that gave me the knowledge, experience and confidence to build the successful reputation I now have.” Sarah met Army soldier Rob in May 1999, during a weekend back in Colchester visiting her parents, and over the next few years they lived together in London before returning to Colchester – Rob’s final posting before leaving the Army. Sarah, meanwhile, carried on working alongside her brother for Hothouse Models & Effects. 2003 was a busy year for the couple. In July they bought “our derelict house in France” for 9000€ and in the September they were married at Layer Marney Tower, a Tudor palace wedding venue in Essex. “My parents had a holiday home in the Deux-Sèvres. We all holidayed there and eventually they moved over full-time. A little house in Secondigny came on the market and my parents took a look at it for us. It was an uninhabitable little place with potential and for the price we couldn’t go wrong. We came over and started small projects while on holiday (staying elsewhere!) and then decided to come over full-time. “Rob and I don’t really plan, we go with the flow, and with his retirement from the Army in the not-so-distant future, it seemed like the right time to make the move. We had the small thing of IVF to get through as well. When that unfortunately failed, our house in Colchester went on the market and sold quickly. In September 2008 we were on our way to France. “When we knew we would be spending more time in France, we started one-to-one French lessons. It gave us the basics to make a start here but, looking back, the level was pretty poor. Thankfully we have the most wonderful neighbours, who welcomed us and have been very patient. Having my parents already in the area was a huge help, too, as they had already overcome many of the hurdles any ‘newbie’ faces. Their first ten months full-time in France was spent renovating their home in Secondigny. “That was another steep learning curve, first working with your husband and second because neither of us had really done anything like it before. We just took each task as it came and did the best we could. We’re very proud of what we’ve achieved. We have a lovely, comfortable – if not a little quirky – home and we’re very happy here.” Then came that first business fair visit to Saint Jean d’Angely, the English magazine pressed into her hand... and the launch of The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine. Now, 18 months on from selling the magazine, does Sarah miss it at all?

“Yes and no! I miss the interaction and communication with the contributors and advertisers... and sometimes I miss the challenge of it all. However, all those hours a week at the computer isn’t healthy and I now have a much better work/life balance. Stephen and Anna have the perfect balance working as a team, able to discuss ideas together and splitting the workload.” That work/life balance seems to be going well for Sarah. She’s still busy designing websites, painting and making mosaics. “I have always loved to paint and when I had the time to pick up the paintbrushes again after we moved to France, I seemed to fall into pet portraits. I love doing them and even better is the reaction of the pet owners when they see their piece for the first time. Priceless. “Mosaics came into my life about 20 years ago, when I was bought a kit as a birthday present. It was a fish and I remember loving every second of that ‘make.’ The final item went to live in my parents’ bathroom and it’s still there now after three house moves. “That passion was rediscovered last year when I made something for my Mum’s special birthday. She loves her garden, so I wanted to create something that would sit among the many plants she sees every day. The idea of a mosaic garden sculpture took shape and I researched the methods for an outdoor piece that would withstand all weathers. It turned out to be an organic shape, about four feet

Bottom left picture: Team Madness at their first triathlon in 2017 - (from left to right, back row: Sarah, Rob, Sue Lennon; front row, Kelly Knight, Haley Bennett. Bottom middle: getting fit at 40 - mid triathlon. Bottom right: with Rob having just completed the Chantilly Triathlon. Top: one of Sarah’s beautiful mosaic creations (Photo © Sarah Berry 2019).

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

tall with a foam core and skinned with an outdoor adhesive and mosaic tiles. I loved every second of the make and, even better, my Mum loved it too! “So that was it.... now I’m seriously addicted. I’m making gifts for friends and loved ones again – something I haven’t been able to do for years. And as I am still registered as an artist, I’m also able to start selling my pieces. Garden sculptures, wall plaques, mirrors, outdoor murals, signs, logos... the options are endless and I can’t wait for that next project to come to fruition.” That creative streak is now balanced with a perhaps more athletic part of her life: Sport. “In 2016, I turned 40 and realised something needed to change – a mid-life crisis, I suppose! I put a post on Facebook for ideas and if anyone wanted to join me doing something. Cycling, swimming and walking were some of the suggestions. I’ve never run in my life, but the ‘triathlon’ idea developed so I needed to learn. On the back of the Facebook post, people got in touch and we formed a group called Team Madness. Six of us did our first triathlon in August 2017 and now we’re in our third triathlon season and there are now ten of us in the group. Now I’ve learned to run, I love it. I’ve done three half-marathons and am getting ready for the La Rochelle marathon in November – all 26 miles and 385 yards of it! “The future is rosy – as long as Brexit pans out the way we want it to! We see ourselves staying in France, in our little renovated house with the cats, and enjoying our sports. Rob will carry on with his plastering work and I’ll always be creating. I’d love to be making large public mosaic art and to speak French (almost) fluently would be the icing on the cake.”

Ton-up! To celebrate our 100th issue, here are some mildly interesting facts about the number 100. •

• •

• It all seems a long way from the Tellytubbies, or Rosie and Jim and a film crew on a longboat floating up and down the River Avon... Picture below: The mosaic garden sculpture Sarah made for her Mum’s birthday and which rekindled her passion for the medium. (Photo © Sarah Berry 2019)

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The words hundred and century apparently come from the same root, kmtom, which became satam in Sanskrit, centum in Latin, hekaton in Greek and hunda in the Germanic languages. A googol is 10100, or one followed by a hundred zeros. Its official number name is ten duotrigintillion. The term googol was suggested in 1938 by nine-year-old Milton Sirotta, who was out walking with his uncle, the mathematician Edward Kasner (1878-1955). A googolplex is 1 followed by a googol noughts, or 10 googol. It is more than all the hydrogen atoms in the observable universe and to write it in decimal notation would take up more space than the universe currently occupies. Despite their name, centurions would usually only command 80 men. A hundred was the Anglo-Saxon unit of measurement for land area. A hundred had enough land to sustain 100 households headed by ‘a hundred man’ who did all the administration, raising troops and leading forces. Hundreds were divided into tithings, each with ten households. The basic unit of land was the ‘hide’, with enough land for one family. The largest bank note in England is the one hundred million pound note, nicknamed a Titan. It is only used internally at the Bank of England, and there are only 40 in existence. Scotland is the only place in the UK where £100 bank notes are used. All Blue Peter badges feature the famous ship logo, created by Tony Hart, presenter of Vision On and Take Hart. He was paid a flat fee of £100 for his ship design. In a 1987 study, just 100 surnames accounted for 85 per cent of the Chinese population. According to the 1990 census the most common was Li, over 100 million people. The Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) actually lasted 116 years and didn’t acquire its popular name until 1874. It was a series of skirmishes fought between two French families, one of whom claimed the French throne (Valois), while the other claimed both France and England (Plantagenet). The eventual victory of the Valois came at a high price – France’s population was reduced by two-thirds over the period and England was left isolated from the rest of Europe, speaking English rather than French. The longest car ever made was a 100ft-long Cadillac with 26 wheels, a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, helipad and a hinged section in the middle to enable it to turn corners. One Hundred Men And A Girl (1937) is the only film with the word ‘hundred’ in its title that has ever received an Academy Award. The 100 most common words in English account for 50 per cent of all we speak or write. Among the 100 most used words in English, only ‘person’ and ‘because’ have more than five letters.

Mick Austin is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the Paysde-la-Loire. He has had his work published in several expat magazines and newspapers and has also written the Mayenne Tourist Board’s only English language brochure. He runs a gîte business at

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 27


by Ross Hendry

How long do hard disk drives last and is my data safe?


am regularly asked how long will my hard disk drive last? An important question to which the answer is, quite frankly, unknown. There are many things that can affect the life of a hard disk drive, for example how much is it used, what conditions is it used under, what type of hard disk is it, is it a desktop or mobile device i.e. laptop or tablet/phone. I understand that statistically 5% of hard disk drives fail in the first 18 months (usually manufacturing defects of some kind). Thereafter the drives fail at 1% per annum until after three years the drives are subject to 11+% failures per annum. This explains why most hard disk drives are only warrantied for three years. Some drives manufactured for the server market may carry a five-year warranty, but are usually more expensive. The above was true for mechanical hard disk technology which is rapidly being replaced by new non-mechanical hard disk technology known as solid-state drives (SSDs). These do not have motors to rotate the disk or move the read/write heads over the disks and so theoretically should last longer. Unfortunately, in my work I see far more drive failures than the average computer user and I am afraid that I can only advise my clients to keep their data on a drive for a maximum of five years, even then I strongly recommend a regular backup being taken - the frequency of which depends upon the usage, volume and value of the data. The next question is clearly where/what do you backup to? Ideally you would backup your most valuable data to a third party ‘cloud’ or internet storage area. This way the data is further backed up by the professional third party. In my personal case I chose Google Drive and in the 15 years I have had an account with Google they have never lost any of my data.

their warranty period is approaching. This is simply because the internet access to my main backup is still too slow. As the speed increases, I will phase this local backup out. Backing up to a cloud could not be simpler. Everyone is given an initial 15 gigabytes of cloud space (online) by Google, and for most people this space is enough for their personal documents. If they use the free unlimited space Google offers for photo storage (Google Photos), it is unlikely they will ever have to pay for online storage. You can backup documents as well as learning more about using Google Backup and Sync: backup-and-sync/ You can learn more about using Google Photos at: Many of you who have android smart phones will be surprised to know that if you have signed into Google on your smart phone, photos are automatically being backed up to Google Photos. You can access them on your PC or tablet by simply going to Google Photos and signing in using the same login you use on your smartphone or tablet. Please do not take chances with your important information. Do backup and seriously consider replacing your personal external backup device if it is approaching the end of the manufacturers warranty period. Unfortunately, buying an extended warranty here will not save your precious data if the drive fails!

In the past I used to backup to external media. Early on it was floppy disks and cassette tapes, then digital tape backup systems, and as the prices reduced, external hard disks. However, all of these required me to transfer to the next available technology when the warranties indicated, so every three to five years I had to backup my backup! The cost of replacing the backup media, plus the time to transfer the data, cost me more than the tiny subscription I pay to Google to have two terabytes of data storage and thus, peace of mind. My original subscription was £7.99 per month for one terabyte, early this year Google doubled that space for no increase in charge, this will probably be enough storage for me to back up everything I EVER need. I also have some local backup which I created many years ago for convenience, and I continue using it. The system I use is a pair of hard disk drives that mirror each other and is two terabytes in capacity. I will probably replace these with SSDs when the end of

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 44 years experience in communications, computer technology and direct marketing. (see advert below).

Letter from Blighty (July)

Dear Frankie


e are under a ‘cloud of unknowing’ here. We don`t know (until 23 July) who our next prime minister will be. Whoever he is, we don’t know how, despite many bold words, he will resolve the impasse with the EU by 31 October. We don’t know whether he will form a government which will attend vigorously to the great many pressing issues in the national in-tray (from climate change to inequality; from ‘sorting’ adult care to meeting the financial needs of the NHS, Education and many other public institutions). We don’t know who is going to win Wimbledon, now nearing its conclusion. We don’t know whether England will win the World Cricket Cup (we do know that the Archbishop of Canterbury’s XI, which included two women for the first time, lost to the Vatican team recently). Some of these issues will be clearer by the time you read this, but, for the rest, a cloud of ‘known unknowns’ continues to hover over us. Did you know that England and Wales have the highest prison rates in Western Europe, double those in France, Germany, Italy and Spain? Did you know that we taxpayers owe £2 billion more in unpaid tax to the Treasury than a year ago? By contrast, Councils in England are on the way to making a profit of £1 billion from their parking activities this year. Did you know that Japan has begun hunting whales again (boo, hiss)? But Scotts Fish and Chips of York have opened a shop in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province, following President Xi’s visit to their York shop with David Cameron in 2015. A robot, inevitably called ‘Vegebot’, has been developed which can pick tricky-to-harvest Iceberg lettuces. It is currently five times slower than human workers but is expected quickly to catch up (and advance on other crops such as cauliflower, broccoli, and celery). On the subject of food, the Queen recently hosted a ‘faith reception’ at Buckingham Palace for 160 guests, drawn from Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Jewish and Ba’hai groups, to thank them for their contribution to our national life. ‘A bit of tea and toast can go a long way’, the Queen is quoted as saying. On the religious front, on 13 October Pope Francis is going to declare Cardinal John Henry Newman, Victorian theologian and poet, a saint. As issues of gender are very much in the news at present, and on the lighter side of the issue, it has been reported that Kaln, a ‘hormonal man Eagle Owl’ at the Barn Owl Centre in Gloucester, took his keepers of 23 years by surprise by laying an egg! Kaln has been hastily, and rather unimaginatively, renamed Kalnee. As mid-summer approaches, we are awash with sport on TV. The Women’s Football World Cup has only recently finished (USA winning again, back to back this time) but has pushed the sport firmly up the popularity stakes. ‘Our girls done good’ and came a very creditable fourth and Steph Houghton, Lucy Bronze and Ellen White are now household names. As is now Cori ‘Coco’ Gauff who, aged 15, took Wimbledon by storm and became ‘the darling of them all’. To finish on a lighter note, I recently stumbled on a newsletter, dated 1951, from my old Prep School, which has long since gone to the wall. It listed examples of schoolboy ‘howlers’, including such heroic efforts of barely remembered facts and spelling as: ‘Sir Christofish Wern’, ‘Poncs Pilotl’, sometimes also known as ‘Cautious Piolat’. And then there was ‘Hapeus Porpus’ and references to the battles of ‘Kidlycronky’ and ‘Killycrackery’. Capped only, perhaps, by a malapropism, submitted by the reader of a national newspaper, whose late mother used to complain, about her husband’s ‘erotic driving’ and her fatherin-law’s ‘double incompetence’. You’ve got to laugh! Yours Johnny

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 29

Food & Drink 1855 And All That – The Curse of Classification

by John Sherwin

“You’re a good kither,” said Violet Elizabeth Bott.

‘And when does the little runt want it?’

“Thanks muchly,” said William, gulping, flushed.

‘Oh, this time yesterday.’

They were down in the wood. He’d never really expected she would agree to a country stroll, but she had. He’d run out of script.

‘This is intolerable! What are we supposed to do? Trundle up and down the Médoc tasting this that and the other wine giving marks out of a hundred? Have you seen the state of the roads? It’ll take forever.’ Jardinier took a silk handkerchief to his brow.

getting cold.”

“But not ath good ath Roger. Let’th go back, I’m

Don’t you feel for William? We’re all judged, classified, either in formal exams where results are anaesthetic in their probity, or in social situations where an arched eyebrow, a pursed lip or a twitched shoulder, one degree this way or the other, indicate instant opinions which over time solidify like the ageless drip of a stalactite. Opinions obey gravity, go with the flow. Easier like that. Odd, life. There you are, Napoléon III, everything going your way in the brave new world of 1855, then some bright spark comes up with the idea of an International Exhibition to be held in Paris. Invite all the great and good of the whole world to admire (and buy) all we have to offer. Oh crikey, s’pose I’d better show willing, Nap3 said to himself. That’s my job, non? Actually, what’s a job? Anyway he was put in charge of the wine stand. But what to do? How to make sense of all the wines in France for a bunch of foreign johnnies? He put the matter to his factotum, Corleone Rizzo. ‘We must whittle the problem down, sir,’ Rizzo said, running a thin finger through his greased hair. ‘Whittling down. Yes, I like it. Carry on Rizzo. Whittle down to what?’ ‘The best of our wines, sir, those of Bordeaux.’ ‘Right. Those are the ones I have with …’ he looked for a clue. ‘With red meat sir. We call them clairet. The English refer to them as claret.’

‘Calm yourself, CJ. There exists the simplest of solutions. For more than a hundred years we have been classifying wines by price. Price, mon ami. That is to say if the upper crust are willing to pay more for wine x than for wine y then, ipso facto, wine x is better than wine y.’ ‘You interest me, Pépé. So no trundling up and down the Médoc?’ ‘Non. Do not fret my dear chap. To make it look more scientific we will split the wines into, oh, how many categories?’ He raised a hand to the moon which had just appeared from behind a scudding cloud. ‘Five! Five my friend!’ He counted his fingers, curling them back one by one into his palm. OK, enough fantastical nonsense. Except that, apart from the poetic licence I’m sure you’ll give me, the above is a pretty true account of how the famous 1855 Classification came about. If you’ve never heard of it, don’t worry. If you have and you think it’s the bees-knees, worry. It’s an historical document which has little relevance to the present day. I say ‘little’ relevance because amazingly enough the ‘First Growths’ are still, qualitatively and price-wise, the same now as they were then: Margaux, Lafite, Latour, Haut-Brion, with the addition of Mouton-Rothschild1. Below that there would be much jostling for position, except that it’s never going to change and no one cares. When I was much younger with much more water behind my ears I would ask the owners of such châteaux as Lynch-Bages and Pontet-Canet, both great wines but both Fifth Growth, why they didn’t complain about their obvious misranking. The reply was simple enough: no point knocking your head against the proverbial, and why bother anyway when everyone knows the worth and quality of my wine?

‘That’s the chappy. Clairet. Claret. Whatever. But aren’t there an awful lot of them? I mean, that’s hardly whittling, what?’

The point of the above is that should you ever come across anyone who uses the 1855 Classification as some kind of current guide you will know better.

‘I was thinking of a list sir.’

Wine type of the month

‘A list! Sacré bleu! I like a good list. Tick things off. Remember stuff. So how does that, er, help us…?’

This month I’m daring you to try a vin jaune from the Jura region in the far east, not far from Geneva. The most famous version comes from the Château-Chalon area. It’s made from the signature local white grape variety savagnin which is picked late, ferments as per normal, but then is put into old casks where a film of yeast is allowed to develop on the surface. This is similar to the sherry making process and not surprisingly gives similar results. Expect complex flavours and aromas – walnut, hazelnut, almond, honey, cinnamon… the list can go on. Nap 3 (yes, him again) called it ‘the best wine in the world’, bless him. It is typically associated with trout or chicken (truite au vin jaune or coq au vin jaune), but open your mind to trying it with certain curries or sushi. If our heatwave is making you a bit doolally celebrate our ‘special relationship’ with an all-American sherry cobbler, simply substituting vin jaune for sherry: mix sugar syrup and some orange slices, muddle them (i.e. gouge them around a bit), add vin jaune.

‘Leave it with me sir.’ The sun was setting over the Garonne river. Chauncey Jardinier sat with his wine merchant friend Nicolas Le Pin in the first floor parlour of his townhouse in the Chartrons quarter of the great city of Bordeaux, glass in hand, with the voluptuous knowledge that two floors below his feet, in the cool of his expansive cellars, lay his barrel-bound fortune. ‘He wants what?’ ‘A list of our best wines. It’s for some cockamamie expo they’re cooking up in gay Paree. They party, we work our balls off.’ Nicolas sucked at an oyster, downed his glass of Bollinger, and signalled for another bottle.

Happy holidays!

________________________ 1 ‘Promoted’ from Second to First in 1973.

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

Life is Good


by Jacqueline Brown

said last month how fed up I was with the wet, grey days, so you won’t hear me complaining now the temperatures have risen, even if they did so in a spectacular fashion, going from cold to canicule in a matter of hours. Summer has arrived and life is good. I’m energised by the warmth. Early morning birdsong encourages me to be up and out in the garden, or on my bike cycling past fields of sunflowers with friends, before the heat gets too silly. My washing dries on the line and I’m up to date on the occasional wash loads; the dog bedding, the sofa throws, the cushion covers and the mattress protectors that need extra drying time outdoors. The smell of clean washing dried in the sun; life is good. This year I accepted help from a friend to tame the weeds that seem to get stronger, healthier and more prolific every year, meaning I get more and more behind with weeding and preparing the potager each spring. The sad, weak courgette plants kept in their seedling pots for too long, that were obviously as fed up of the cold weather as I was, have come to life now the potager is in full sun. The courgettes are appearing, the picking has commenced, and life is good. The hot, dry days have also been my friend as I keep on top of the hoeing. Alone in the potager, listening to the morning church bells as I finish my garden chores for the day, happy in the knowledge that the weed seedlings freshly hoed in the morning will have shrivelled to nothing in the afternoon heat. I realise I will never conquer the weeds completely, but I’m winning for the moment, and life is good. Even when it is too hot to be outside, I’ve been motivated to clear out cupboards whose dark corners have been untouched for at least ten years. With my chores completed and my exercise done for the day, I can pick a shady spot and read. Sat amongst the towering hollyhocks that pop up wherever they decide each year, their bright blooms in every shade of pink imaginable, I can lose myself in a book and life is good. Summer also gives me endless possibilities for days or evenings out. The marquee is up in the village square, where it will stay for a series of fêtes that bring the village to life with food, music and laughter. I’ve also been on a treasure hunt along unknown back streets of Chef Boutonne, following clues and looking out for the unusual, attended art and photography exhibitions in local libraries and salle des fêtes, plus listened to live music in bars and out on the streets, and that was just one week in July. August will bring with it celebrations for our 15 year anniversary in France and the 100th issue of The DeuxSèvres Monthly. This hum of activity is what summer in France is all about for me, and life is good.

The village marquee, signifying fêtes, food and the good life. Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 31

Motoring Grand Prix Historique de Bressuire 2019


t’s the hottest weekend of the year, with the highest temperatures ever recorded in France and I find myself in a car park in Bressuire with Priscilla for the Grand Prix Historique.

I can feel the 45 degree heat rising from the tarmac and despite the sunshade which boasts that it has a sun protection factor of 50, I can also feel the sun beating down. But I’m the lucky one because the drivers of the cars taking part in the event are parked out in the open, with little respite. Their car seats and the metal are soaking up that heat. Jean-Claude Fillon the organiser of the event comes by and tells me how worried they are about cars over heating. Some of the drivers have opted out of the Saturday part of the event altogether, choosing to wait until the temperature drops on Sunday. It will only be around 30 degrees! The event gets underway as planned with a parade from the vintage tractors, the trike club and the featured plateau from the Matra Club as precursors to the regular grids. One of the course cars is a rather nice MX5 race car in Gulf colours which pleases me greatly. As the afternoon progresses there are fewer spectators compared to other years, but the White Cross volunteers behind me are kept busy with people suffering sun stroke and heat exhaustion. The sound of roaring engines fills the air and there is something magical about cars racing around the streets lined with straw bales that harks back to a bygone era. The Bressuire street circuit was first used in the 1950’s when the cars fresh from the Le Mans 24 Hour event came south for a bit more action. This year is the 14th running of the revised event.

by Helen Tait-Wright

After the break for dinner, and with the setting of the sun and fading light, the paddock is filling up with spectators taking advantage of the cooler evening air to see the cars participating in the Nocturne. The patchwork painted Peugeot 402 added to the drama by catching fire; straw caught in the brakes was the culprit I believe. Sunday morning sees the paddock bustling, and a few extra cars in place to take part in the action. It is great to catch up with regulars such as Jerome Roux in his lovely Alfa, and Chris Treadwell, beloved by the Bressuire crowd for his participation in his gold Anglia, although not actually participating this year as the Anglia is undergoing an engine transplant. Also of particular note is the immaculately prepared Austin 7 of Ian Wilson, who himself is distinctive with his flat caps and chequered helmet. Amusingly Marc Tudeau, a regular at all the historic motoring events, is sporting a T-shirt announcing that he is not himself, “Je ne suis pas Marc Tudeau”, as are several other people!!! Can’t beat a bit of paddock humour! The pre-war motorcycles and sidecars add to the action, thrills and spills and everyone has a great day. Lots of people come to talk to me to find out how the rally went and look at the photos, and it is an honour to answer questions from a future Gazelle about what she should expect. As the event draws to a close Priscilla and I head out for the final parade and have the honour of taking Emmanuelle Menard, the 2eme Adjoint to the Maire of Bressuire with us. All in all a great if rather hot weekend …. if you haven’t yet attended this event look out for next year’s dates. It is usually at the end of June!

Will the real Marc Tudeau please stand up … Ian Wilson and ‘The Was


Photos by Eve Denby, Elaine Simmonds and Helen Tait-Wright Background ©wikicommons/Twingoman 32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 33

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

Everyday Yoga for Everyone

by Rebecca Novick

Baton Yoga – An Innovative Tool for Alignment, Balance, and Exploration


t’s often said that the best things happen by accident. A couple of months ago, a simple hardware purchase led to the inspiration for the creation of an innovative form of yoga. I had bought a wooden curtain rail from Mr. Bricolage in Parthenay, and was on my way to put it up. It was a gorgeous late autumn morning after a week of grey and rain, and the sun was streaming in through the windows of the yoga studio. I couldn’t resist a few rounds of Surya Namaskar in its rays. When I finished, I picked up the curtain rail and was about to go get my hammer and nails when something made me pause. I slipped the rail behind my shoulders and rolled my wrists around the end. The encouraging effect on my posture was immediate. I began doing some simple stretching movements with the rail in hand and found that it provided a very natural structure that deepened certain postures, accessed hard to reach muscles, and offered helpful support for specific postures. There was also something graceful and playful about it that evoked movements and postures from both modern dance and martial arts, inspiring a move away from static poses to a more dynamic flow. This simple lightweight pole acted as a versatile and playful extension of the body. I discovered it to be a very precise as well as creative tool for alignment, balance and strength. As I explored the potential of this practice on my own over the ensuing months, I became convinced that this tool was at least as useful as the blocks, belts, and blankets that have become such a regular part of Hatha Yoga. I have been incorporating the curtain rail into my classes since spring of this year. On the advice of a French friend and fellow yoga instructor, I have called it Baton Yoga even though this might invoke images of marching majorettes). I do see his point. ‘Curtain Rail Yoga’ doesn’t sound so appealing, although I personally think it has a nice utilitarian ring to it. More importantly, I’ve seen it benefit those at all levels of proficiency as well as people with specific issues, being particularly effective in addressing shoulder and back issues. It is fantastically useful for working on balancing poses. With their baton, anyone can quickly acquire the perfect form to experience the lovely effects of Tree Pose, for example, and work on building up their balance later. Come and have a go. And there is no need to take down your curtains—all poles provided! Classes held on Tuesdays at 12pm and Fridays at 10.30am. For details on yoga classes email: or follow Rebecca on

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

PSYCHIC MEDIUM Training and working with the soul spirit in different aspects of connecting to the other side. For more information contact Lisa at: or 07 70 20 25 83

Tai Chi classes

Exercise for the body and mind. Age and physical abilities are no obstacle. Classes are held in Bressuire on Tuesday evenings and Breuil Barret on Friday afternoons. Call Terry on: 05 49 65 60 34 or go to: 34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

Our Furry Friends

HOPE ASSOCIATION helping animals in need


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

17 Route de Civray 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

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

Poppy appeal Poppy, a stray cat, moved into a courtyard in La Châtaigneraie, where she gave birth on 8 May to Victoria (the ginger female) and Europa (the tabby female). The little family is currently in a foster home in Bazoges-en-Pareds. Unfortunately, Poppy has tested positive for both FIV and FeLV. She must not come into contact with other cats. The ideal solution for her would be a loving home where she is an indoor and only cat. A prospective adopter should be aware that her life expectancy is likely to be severely compromised, but at present she is very well. Poppy is pretty, extremely affectionate and uses her litter tray cleanly. She has been identified, vaccinated for cat flu, typhus and Poppy with her babies Victoria and Europa sterilised. She has had her booster vaccination so is ready for adoption, free to a loving home, with an adoption contract.

Elsie Elsie is a beautiful, gentle natured pointer x who loves the company of people and other dogs. She’s estimated to be three-years-old, and is quickly getting used to being on the lead and is great in the car. Elsie is currently in the pound in the south of department 79.

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


A decision will be made later about the adoption requirements for her kittens, which cannot be tested until they have been separated from their mother.

A superb six-year-old Malinois crusader. Affectionate and eager to please, okay with other dogs, but not cats. It’s so very sad to see Idrak in kennels having been a much loved companion to his mistress who is now hospitalized. He is castrated, vaccinated with a passport, dewormed and treated for ticks and fleas. Currently in department 86 near Poitier.

If you think you could help Poppy, Telephone: 02 51 00 53 80 Email:

The Assocation Orfée tel: 09 77 48 71 43 or by email: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 35

Building & Renovation

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 37



38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 39


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

Covering Bressuire and Surrounding Areas

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019



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

Business & Finance Marketing Matters

by Cindy Mobey can be fined for using Google images on your website or blog


ecently, a friend was fined for using Google images. They thought they had done all the right things, but still got a fine. So, I’ve researched the different types of images available and listed sites where you can get free images, without having to worry about copyright or ‘royalty-free’ images. Copyright You often see ‘subject to copyright’ under an image on Google images - what does this mean? The Simple English Wikipedia definition of ‘copyright’ is: ‘With copyright, a work can only be copied if the owner gives permission. If someone copies a work without permission, the owner can say they infringed their copyright. When this happens, the owner may sue for the amount that should have been paid. Most cases are handled by civil law. In more serious cases, a person who copies a work that is protected under copyright could be arrested, fined, or even go to prison.’ Royalty-Free Images You may also see that an image is ‘royalty-free’. This term, is a type of license used by stock photography agencies to sell stock images. It’s usually just a one-off fee and you can use photos under a certain set of restrictions. Again, Wikipedia gives the definition: ‘The ‘free’ in royalty-free does not mean there is no cost for the license, but instead refers to being able to freely use the image without paying additional royalties. A small-business owner, for example, may opt to pay a one-time fee for RF images for his/her website.’

Public Domain Images These are the kind of images I use on my blog and for some of my website images. Good old Wikipedia describes these kind of images as: ‘A public domain image is defined as a photo, clip art or vector whose copyright has expired or never existed in the first place. These images can be used by almost anyone for personal and commercial purposes.’ There are lots of public domain images sites on the internet. I use a lot, as there is a good range of images. I also use too, which is similar. When you enter these sites, you can search for any subject matter in the search line. When you click into the image, there is a ‘free download’ button to press. And underneath this is the Pixabay License details. It usually says ‘free for commercial use’ and ‘no attribution required’. I always check that this is written about the image I want to use, then I can just download and use it. Other sites to consider are: • 1 Million Free Pictures – there are no copyright issues with this company as they make their own images and put them on their site, offering them free of charge to the public. Great if you want to get your logo up and running and can’t find an appropriate image. • The British Library is another site that has no copyright issues. According to the site, there are over a million images available for personal or commercial use – free of charge. • Public Domain Archive is a site managed by a professional photographer. There are thousands of images, both contemporary and vintage, on a range of topics. Photos are free to use for personal or commercial use and new photos are added every week. • Negative Space is a great site for free high-resolution images, so perfect for using on your website or blog. These are just a few of the sites available, and ones that I am familiar with, but there are loads more out there to choose from. If you use a different one, I’d be glad to hear about it.

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


Simply register on our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 41



asically, the two are linked. So, in theory, everything is automatic!

If you do not have your carte vitale yet: The medical professionals give you a brown form to fill in and send to CPAM. So, you enter your social security number at the top of the page (usually a temporary one starting with 7 or 8), sign at the bottom and send it to CPAM. As CPAM and Allianz are linked together by what we call télétransmission, the reimbursement comes directly into your bank account within ten days. Therefore, we need your social security number when we process the topup contract. Sometimes, the medical professional does not have a carte vitale machine for the transaction or your card is playing up, so you may have to use the brown form in this instance. When you have your carte vitale: When you visit your GP or other medical professionals, you first give them your carte vitale and then you pay. The reimbursement is then automatically done by CPAM and Allianz by télétransmission, so the top-up follows within ten days of the CPAM reimbursement. If you are under RSI: In this case it depends on who you are with in regard to the health system. If it is RAM, it works in the same way as CPAM. If it is another organisation (Harmonie, Radiance, UMRPI, etc.), you need to send us your reimbursement statement to receive the top-up. This is because RAM is the only body that works with top-up companies. The others provide their own top-up insurance. You can change to RAM by simply writing a letter to RSI, or ask us and we’ll do it for you. Attestation de droit: This is a letter showing your entitlement to a carte vitale. Sometimes, the télétransmission has a glitch and we need this letter to resolve it. You can download it from your CPAM or RAM personal account or simply phone them and they will send it to you by post.

Glasses: Most of my British customers go back to the UK for glasses or buy them online. But you can choose to have them covered under your top-up, only one pair every two years. It’s a calculus to make between what you would recoup and how much it increases your premium. Dental cover: Note that maximum dental cover is 200% (the first year) and that might not be enough to cover all costs e.g. the price according to CPAM for a crown is 104€ so with the maximum cover on dental, you can get up to 208€ reimbursed. However, the price for a crown in France is between 500€ and 600€! So, you must weigh up if it is worth adding. This is the website of CPAM on which you can create your personal account (you only need your carte vitale to do it). Yes, it is in French, but it is full of useful information. You can use the simulator to find out if you are entitled to CMU and ACS (people on low income can get free top-up or help to pay for it). You can download your reimbursement and ask for your attestation de droits (proof of cover). This document is often asked for by insurers to give you access to top-up health insurance. If you don’t speak French, there is English speaking phone line created by the French health system to answer all your questions: 08 11 36 36 46. RAM and other RSI health providers have a similar website to download your attestation de droit and reimbursements. You can create your personal account on the Allianz website. You simply insert your surname, first name, date of birth, email and contract number. Then you can view all your reimbursement, details of contracts, follow claims, etc. Extras: With Allianz top-up, depending on your cover, you can get extras like free cleaning if you are in hospital for more than three days, or two hours of cleaning 48 hours after a chemotherapy session or even look after your pets, etc.

Tiers payant card: This is your top-up card but it does not show your level of cover. It simply proves that you have top-up insurance and gives information to the medical profession in case of a prise en charge - this is when the top-up pays instead of you. You can download your card from your Allianz customer account.

Also, you can get cover for a private room for up to 100€-150€ (normal price is about 75€). In France, you either share the room or you can choose a private room (with your own bathroom). NB. that cover does not guarantee you will be able to get your own room. Private rooms are usually available in a private hospital (clinique).

Hospitalisation: When you are hospitalised, the hospital will contact Allianz, so Allianz set up une prise en charge, meaning Allianz and CPAM will pay instead of you (just as well as the surgery could cost an arm and a leg!). The only thing you would have to pay for is the food, the private room and telephone or TV charges. Simply pass the bill on to us for reimbursement or send it directly to Allianz santé (

Conclusion: Feel free to contact me if you wish information on any of the above or to get a free quote for top-up health insurance. The first two months are free for pensioners with Allianz at the moment.

Pharmacy: Some of the medical profession such as the pharmacy will ask for your top-up card and you therefore have nothing to pay as Allianz pays the pharmacy directly. This is called tiers payant. So, when you go to the pharmacy, you give them your prescription letter, your carte vitale and top-up card and all is paid for. Surcharge: 100% top-up cover is 100% of the price set by the French health system, but the medical professionals are self-employed and are allowed to apply a surcharge. It is mostly done by consultants, surgeons, private hospitals, dentists, etc. Example: the French health system set price for a hip replacement is 1000€ (not the actual figure, just an example), but you only get reimbursed 800€ (80%) and because the surgeon likes to go golfing at weekends (joke) and 1000€ won’t cover this, he can charge 3000€. Therefore, you would be 2200€ (instead of just 200€) out of pocket! So a policy with your top-up at 300% would cover that surcharge. Excess: There is an excess of 1€ per GP visit, 2€ for the ambulance (not emergency) and 50 cents per pill container. This excess is taken back from your CPAM or RSI reimbursement, so this is why you sometimes get less reimbursement than you should.

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019

And remember to check out our website en for all my previous articles (‘practical information’) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt Don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subjects such as funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top-up health insurance, etc.

No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

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

Email: Visit our website:

Ask Amanda


by Amanda Johnson

i Amanda - should I wait until the current political uncertainty is over before I review my investments?

This is a question I’ve been asked many times over the past three years and one thing that is clear, is that there is unlikely to be any political ‘normality’ for quite a while, irrespective of what happens over the next few months. Here are some good reasons why a review of your finances is important: •

During the last three years many investments have performed well, delivering growth significantly above deposit interest rates and inflation. Long term investment success seldom relies on skilful or lucky market timing. More important is understanding the relationship between investment risk and return whilst maintaining a portfolio which is fully aligned with your personal objectives and risk profile.

Regardless of what happens within the political arena, there will likely be ongoing changes to the tax treatment of investment assets and income. It is therefore important to ensure that your investments are both tax efficient and compliant with current French tax laws.

A financial review doesn’t commit you to changing your investments or plans. It is instead an opportunity for you and your financial adviser to review your circumstances and aims, discuss investment performance and any relevant taxation or regulatory changes and (if appropriate) consider

possible adjustments to your financial plan to ensure continuous suitability and tax efficiency. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our roadshow events or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below and I will be glad to help. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations. 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.


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 “I think my favourite issue was celebrating our seventh birthday in March 2018. Not because it coincided with the date I signed the business over, but because everything seemed to come together nicely. We had free tickets to give away, there was interesting content, it was national wildlife month and Spring had arrived. Not every issue seemed as easy. Some months were a real fight.” 79 Happy Sarah Berry


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 43

Brain Gym: Q7: Q1: a sponge Q8: Q7: Q2: a dice Q9: Q8: Q3: eating a watermelon Q9: Q4: halfway - after that, the rabbit is running out of the woods Q5: a 10p piece and a 5p piece - only one coin is not a 10 pence piece Q6: I, T, S. The complete sequence is the first letter of every word in the sentence

surname u472bmt surname a)U472BMT no two ways about it b)a)odds andways ends no two about it b) odds and ends

Toughie Crossword: Theme: Jackets, although clothing may well be posited Across: 1. off 3. coat 5. Eton 9. posit 10. obviate 11. dinosaur club 14. donkey 15. bomber 18. design faults 21. leather 22. denim 23. life 24. dyer 25. cag Down: 1. Oppo 2. fustian 3. cut to lengths 4. anorak 6. trail 7. nee 8. over not under 12. bard 13. ADHD 16. botanic 17. affray 19. scarf 20. smog 21. lol Easy Crossword: Across: 1. gossip 4. alpaca 8. store 9. Orléans 10. avoid 11. peloton 12. chopstick 15. selfish 16. spite 17. tequila 18. livid 19. cashew 20. bonnet Down: 2. octave 3. straight flush 5. preconception 6. canyon 7. compost heap 13. Geneva 14. strife

Take a Break - SOLUTIONs

Taking up residence in France? Take advice early. I

t is not difficult to appreciate why so many people fall in love with France and consider making it their home. There are, however, some tax and financial essentials you need to be aware of and plan for if you are to get the best out of living in France.

While you should review all the various aspects of your wealth management when moving to a new country, in France it is particularly important to look at the tax and estate planning implications nice and early. The way you hold your assets can make a significant difference to how they are taxed as well as to inheritance issues. Ideally you should take advice before you buy your property and make the move, so you do not miss out any tax and succession planning opportunities. However, it is never too late to review your position as there are often steps you can take to improve your tax situation. Property ownership There are various ways of owning property in France. There is personal ownership in sole or joint names. You could have a community marriage contract or insert a tontine clause in the French conveyance. Alternatively, you could own the property in an SCI, a form of French property-holding company. When deciding how to own your French property, you also need to take the strict French succession laws into account. The best option for you depends on a number of factors, such as your family situation

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks

(particularly if you have an unmarried partner or stepchildren); what you want to happen to your property on death; whether you will be a French or UK tax resident etc. Tax planning The French tax regime is completely different to the UK’s, not to mention very detailed and complex. Anyone moving to France or recently arrived needs to be prepared for this. There are various tax traps and many people pay more tax than necessary or get their tax planning wrong. It is usually fixable, but of course getting it right from the outset makes life much easier. What is tax-efficient in the UK is not usually tax-efficient in France, so you need to review your investment structures. The tax burden can be high in France, but you can usually take steps to reduce it, sometimes considerably, particularly on investment capital. So take specialist cross-border tax, estate planning and wealth management, and as early as possible. It will prove invaluable and give you peace of mind that everything is in order as you get on with enjoying your new life in France.

Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

Concerned about your tax position in France? With expert advice, France can actually be a tax-efficient place to live.

Talk to the people who know

Much depends on how you hold your investments and assets. Blevins Franks has in-depth knowledge of the local tax regime and how to use it to your advantage. Our French tax specialists can advise you on tax planning solutions, to lower tax for yourself and your heirs.

05 49 75 07 24


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

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019




The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019| 45


by Joanna Leggett


oitou was once an ancient region of France comprising Vendée, Vienne and Deux-Sèvres. Ruled by the Counts of Poitou (who were also Dukes of Aquitaine) it was the dowry of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen of France and later England. Her father ensured this dowry remained hers until she bore a son to bear the titles of both Count of Poitou and King of France. However, the sons she bore were to her second husband, Henry II, and bound to the English throne! This stormy marriage brought with it many problems, not least possession of half of France which much later lead to the Hundred Years’ War! Inheriting as a teenager, Eleanor dispensed wealth romantically. From her Poitiers court she nurtured troubadours and writers, leaving her mark on the Deux-Sèvres landscape with building projects as in Niort where, on the banks of the Sèvre Niortais river, she and Henry built an impressive Donjon. Finished by her son Richard the Lionheart, it now houses a museum.

L’Absie is centred around the remains of a medieval abbey Eleanor patronised. Here we have a glorious maison de maître (Leggett reference 91248, photo left) currently for sale at 299,600€. Beautifully set within 2,500m² of grounds (a further eight hectares is available for equestrians), this gracious home boasts four bedrooms (two open to balconies) marble entrance hall, impressive staircase, fitted kitchen and lovely salon - all within walking distance of amenities and only an hour from the Atlantic coast!

Niort hasn’t lost its importance since Eleanor’s day - it’s an important hub for commercial and logistics businesses as well as France’s fourth largest financial centre - with all that activity our next property for sale is tempting. Close to the heart of historic Niort and quays of La Sèvre, the welcoming façade of this mid 19th century Haussman style building (ref. 93260) impresses. Inside this chic hotel (three stars) is immaculately decorated and furnished (with air conditioning!) throughout -16 ensuite bedrooms, lovely town garden and separate annex with a one bedroomed guardian’s apartment it’s being sold fully furnished for 1,434,900€! Eleanor would have frequented Parthenay, important during medieval times due to its position on the pilgrimage trail. Today the historic centre hosts more tourists than pilgrims. The citadel retains its defensive position on top of a rocky outcrop overlooking the river Thouet where pilgrims entered the town through the St. Jacques gate. Also with valley views is this cheerfully decorated townhouse (ref. 72357) with two bedrooms in a separate apartment over commercial premises (currently a hairdresser) its price 141,700€. Today, if you visit the Abbey of Fontevraud near Chinon, you can see Eleanor’s tomb effigy where she lies forever peacefully reading the bible after her stormy life! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at



€461,604 HAI

Ref 102933TLO79 Charming 7-bed faux-château with private park, terrace, oak floors and new roof. DPE N/A - agency fees to be paid by the seller


€98,945 HAI

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


€199,667 HAI


€ 267,500 HAI


€178,200 HAI

Ref 102966EVI79 South-facing 4-bed house with above ground pool, workshop and second house. DPE N/A - agency fees to be paid by the seller


€278,200 HAI

Ref 101536NHA79 Deceptively spacious property

Ref 102776JDY79 Large art deco house with

Ref 102116AEN79 Spacious family home on a plot

Ref 95011TLO79 Beautifully restored 4-bed house

with 3 bedrooms, attic and garage, plus apartment.

terrace, 8800m² of land and several outbuildings.

of 1250m², located in the pretty Marais Poitevin.

with solar-heated pool, sauna, garages and studio.

DPE E - agency fees to be paid by the seller

DPE C - agency fees to be paid by the seller

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

DPE D - agency fees to be paid by the seller

Be a part of our award winning team If becoming an independent property sales agent interests you, contact Head of Recruitment Lorraine Deuré:

05 53 60 82 77 -

+33 (0)5 53 56 88 48 - - 46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2019