The Deux-Sevres Monthly Magazine December Issue

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

Welcome! to Issue 93 of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine...

We said goodbye to central heating and comprehensive insulation when we moved to rural France permanently in March, we now have to rely on log burners. Okay it’s December...but it’s not really cold. Anna has become obsessed with the log burners at either end of our house. She is like Casey Jones on the footplate stoking the engine, or both engines in our case. As I look out of the window, I watch her going back and forth with barrow-loads of wood. We are going to get through our winter supply of logs within a fortnight! Being Scottish you would have thought she would be used to a chill wind. The log burners have replaced the remote control for living room-based disagreements. “It’s a bit nippy in here” she‘ll say “I’ll just pop another log in”. I plead with her not to, the dog has passed out. The log burner in the lounge is a sizable beast and when it gets going it cranks out some serious the fires of Mordor it rages. When I look through the glass I can see Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego looking back at me sweltering in my underpants, moving the sofa further and further away. If you look to the north of the department this winter you might think it’s the aurora borealis you can see, but no, it is the thermo-nuclear energy radiating from a small hamlet 15 minutes drive north of Parthenay. A big thankyou to all our advertisers, contributors, distributors and readership who have given us so much support since we took over in March. Stay warm this winter, I will, and we will meet back here in February (no magazine in January).

Merry Christmas to one and all, Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:

Emergency Numbers:

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

Stephen & Anna

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

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

4 6 12 15 16 20 23 24 28 30 33 34 35 36 41 45

This Month’s Advertisers ABORDimmo 45 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) 2 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) 39 Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group 43 Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) 36 Andy Quick (Roofing & Renovation) 37 ARB French Property 47 Argo carpentry 39 Ark 79 (Animal Charity Association) 14 Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) 35 Beaux Villages Immobilier 47 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 43 Blevins Franks Financial Management 44 Building & Renovation Services 39 Centric Immobilier 45 Champs de Jaune (The Gîte Company) 45 Cherry Picker Hire 38 Chris Bassett Construction 37 Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) 36 Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) 6 CJ Electricité 36 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 39 Darren Lawrence 37 Discover Yoga 15 Down To Earth (Pool Design) 45 Firewood (Henri De Baulny) 9 Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) 35 Hallmark Electricité 36 Helen Booth (deVere Group) 41 HMJ Maintenance and Renovation Service 37 Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries 38 Jeff’s Metalwork 40 Job Vacancy - Cook (Airvault Campsite) 32 John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 35 Jon the Carpetman 22 KCR Service ( Alarms and Security systems) 36 La Bohème (Bar and Restaurant) 32 La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) 22 Leggett Immobilier 46 Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) 32 LPV Technology (IT services) 29 Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction 37 Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) 39 ML Computers 29 Motor Parts Charente 35 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 35 Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) 22 Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) 15 Poitiers Biard Airport 2 Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) 45 Restaurant des Canards 32 Rob Berry (Plasterer) 37 Robert Mann (Re-upholstery) 22 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) 28 Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) 22 Sarl Down to Earth Construction (Groundworks and Micro Station Installer) 38 Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) 23 Simon the Tiler 40 Smart Moves - Removal company 35 South Vendée Properties 47 Steve Coupland (Property Services) 37 Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) 36 Steve Shaw (Cartoonist) 29 Strictly Roofing 40 Stump Grinding Services (David Cropper) 22 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 9 Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) 35 TheatriVasles (Relatively Speaking) 13 TheatriVasles Theatre Group 47 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 35 The Fixer - Rick Denton 41 The Hope Association 23 Val Assist (Translation Services) 9 Vienne Tree Services 22 Zena Sabestini (Translation & French Admin Assistance) 9

© Anna and Stephen Shaw 2018. 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: décembre 2018 - Tirage: 4500 exemplaires. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 3

What’s On... 1 - GOSPEL CONCERT LA PUCE À L’OREILLE in Bessines. Fifty choristers of the La Rochelle Gospel Choir. Begins 8:30pm in the Salle de la Grange Bleue, 12€ per person. For more information tel: 05 49 09 15 22 or email: 1 - BOCA ROLLER’S CHRISTMAS PICNIC in Noirterre. A friendly meeting where everyone takes their own meal. For lovers of figure skating on wheels. 7pm. Free entry. 1-14 - EXHIBITION : L’ENFER DES POILUS 1914-1918, THE HELL OF FRENCH WARFARE in La Châtaigneraie, at the Salle Félix Lionnet, near the Mairie. Open Saturday and Sunday from 10am-12noon and from 3pm-6pm, Monday to Friday. Free entry. Recommended for the young people. 2 - DISC EXCHANGE in Niort, 10th edition. Record stores, independent labels, associations and individuals with Vinyl (45s/ LPs), CDs, DVDs and books. 10am-6pm, in the Conference Hall of the Noron Exhibition Centre. Free admission. For more details tel: 06 18 15 64 18 or email: 7-8 - THEATRIVASLES PERFORM RELATIVELY SPEAKING. Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy begins at 8pm in the Theatre Maison du Village, Vasles. For more information see page 13. 8 - MARCHÉ DE LA COQUILLE ST JACQUES (scallop market) in StJacques-de-Thouars. An opportunity to buy and taste scallops from the bay of St Brieuc and local producers, 9.30am-6pm. 11 - QUIZ NIGHT at Le Regal’on Bar and Restaurant, Allonne (79130) at 8pm. See page 32 for contact details. 13 - CANCER SUPPORT DEUX-SÈVRES CHRISTMAS DINNER AND QUIZ at the Lion D’Or, Saint-Hilaire-de-Voust. See page 6 for more information. 14 - GIN TASTING at La Bohème Bar and Restaurant in Mervent. To make a reservation tel: 06 42 00 27 96. 14 - FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS, THE FAIRIES in Frontenay-Rohan-Rohan. Three artists from the Cirque en Scène Company (a juggler, acrobat and cellist) perform in the square and in the Saint-Pierre Church. From 7pm (for 45 minutes). Free for all, limited places. 14 - FOOD & TASTING MARKET in Amailloux. A 5km walk around the town with pit stops for tasting, from 7pm. Price 5€ for children/11€ for adults. Reserve places before 10th December, contact Isabelle Roubinet tel: 06 88 45 46 53 or 06 27 83 98 87. Poster on page 7. 15 - CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS in Vautebis. Until 6th January, 6pm-9pm. Illuminations 60m long with more than 70,000 LEDs including a 6m high Eiffel Tower. Free entry. Accessible for wheelchairs and buggies. 16 - CHRISTMAS RUN (LA CORRDIA DE NOËL) in La Crèche. The 42nd edition of this popular run (4.5km and 10km) which attracts over 1000 runners. Starting at 10am. Awards to the best Christmas themed outfit. For more info: 18 - TRADITIONAL BILINGUAL CAROL SERVICE. Parish Church, Pompaire, 7pm. Refreshments after service. All welcome.

contact ‘The DSM’ 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: PAPATOM Reel Fish & Chips 2nd - Terves: Marché de Noël 5th - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine 7th - Genneton: Café de la Mairie 14th - St. Martin de Sanzay: Café de la Pompe Tel: 06 04 14 23 94 reelfishandchipspapatom

FROM 6.30pm

For CHRISTMAS Markets, please see back page

REGULAR EVENTS... EVERY MONDAY & WEDNESDAY AFTERNOON 2PM-6PM Duplicate Bridge at Civray. Lessons available free. Contact Marian Green: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: EVERY THURSDAY AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. EVERY THURSDAY FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€ p/p. Money raised in aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY THURSDAY - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie. For times contact Jean on tel: 06 52 93 33 60. EVERY THURSDAY - Franglais group in Montournais. Contact Penny Homewood 02 51 63 31 21 or EVERY FRIDAY AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact John for details tel: 05 49 63 23 50. EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Workshops. Personally trained by Annie Sloan to help you get the best from her paints and products. Please see EVERY OTHER THURSDAY AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 1ST & 3RD MONDAY OF THE MONTH AT 3PM Belote at Café des Sports, L’Absie. 1ST WEDS OF MONTH AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book Afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. 2nd Tuesday of Month AT 8PM - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne. 2ND WEDS OF MONTH AT 4PM - Monthly quiz in aid of Furry Friends charity at La Bohème, Mervent. 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 FRIDAY 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.

what’s COMING UP... 5 January - Bal de Chiché. Dance. 8.30pm, Salle des Fêtes Chiché, entry 8-10€, free for under 12s. 6 January - Brocante du Donjon in Niort. 8am-6pm Place du Donjon, free entry. 25 January - Burns Night Evening at Restaurant des Canards in Chef-Boutonne. For reservations tel: 05 49 29 73 46 27 January - 10km Run Niort Les Foulées de l’IUT. 31 January- Film In English at La Châtaigneraie. A Star Is Born at the Salle Belle Epine at 8pm.

La Vendée Chippy Sat 1: Wine Fair, Salle des OPS, 104 Rue de la République, Fontenay-le-Comte. From 6 - 8.30pm Weds 5: ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs 6: ‘La Bohème’, 69 route du lac, Mervent Fri: 7 Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, Mouilleron-en-Pareds Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

Closed from 8 Dec Re-open Fri 1 Mar

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 Closed in January

...December 2018 LOCAL MARKETS Mondays.........

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 2018 25th December

Christmas Day (Noël)

1st January 6th January

New Year’s Day (Jour de l’An) Epiphany (Fête de la Galette)




@The DSMagazine



YOU TUBE: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine INSTAGRAM: thedsm79



CHURCH NOTICES... The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, holds English speaking monthly services. For Christmas services; please find details on page 6. • • •

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

A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information please take a look at our website or contact us by email: office. Further information from the Chaplaincy Office 05 49 97 04 21 or from John & Barbara Matthews 05 49 75 29 71. The Filling Station ~ Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians of all denominations who meet together regularly for spiritual renewal and evangelism purposes. ALL WELCOME. Please see our bilingual website for details of meetings and summer programmes or contact Mike & Eva Willis on 05 17 34 11 50 or 07 82 22 31 15. ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee are served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a `bring and share’ lunch. For details of all our activities, our Services in the west of the Vendée, copies of recent newsletters and more information, please check our website: The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship welcomes you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. 1st and 3rd Sunday at 11am in St Hilaire de Voust, Vendée and 2nd and 4th Sunday at 11am in two locations: one near Bressuire, DeuxSèvres and the other near Bournezeau, Vendée. Meetings last about an hour and are followed by a time of fellowship & refreshments. Find out more by contacting Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit: The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun). We welcome and embrace all Christians from all denominations and warmly invite you to join us. Following the service, coffee is served, and for those who wish to stay a little longer, we enjoy a light, bring and share lunch.

AUTHENTIC INDIAN MEALS 3rd: Limalonges (Dec) Chef Boutonne (Dec) 6th: Mon: Bar Tilleuls, Champniers Theil Rabier (Dec) 10th: Tues: Sauzé-Vaussais (main square) Aigre (Dec) 12th: Weds: Chef Boutonne (near château) th Limalonges (Jan) 7 : Thurs: Sauzé-Vaussais - Eve (main square) Aigre (Jan) 9th: Fri: Mansle (car park of Simply Supermarket) th Chef Boutonne (Jan) 10 : Theil Rabier (Jan) 14th: Tel: 06 37 53 56 20 Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm FROM 7pm Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates

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

Closed in January

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

OPEN mornings

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 5

Getting Out & About CHRISTMAS Chez Christie’s MASSES OF GORGEOUS GIFTS Christmas Presents ~ Stocking Fillers


come visit Father Christmas

Cream Teas, Brownies, Cupcakes ..

SUNDAY 2nd DECEMBER 2018 10h00 to 18h00


Christmas gifts Mulled Wine and Mince Pie


Homemade cakes and refreshments Reel Fish & Chips


FREE WiFi Siret: 47876969800018 GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie



December Services in the

Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd

Date & Time


Sunday 9 , 10.30am

Joint carol service with EPUF Carol service


Thursday 13th, 7pm Sunday 16th, 10.30am Monday 17th, 3pm Tuesday 18th, 7pm


Jarnac Temple, rue Abel-Guy (16) Parish Church, Courcelles (17) Carol service Temple Protestant, (Morning worship) Barbezieux (16) Joint carol service with French Catholic Church. Traditional carol service (bilingual) Holy Communion

Saint Nicolas Parish Church, Civray (86).

Parish Church, Pompaire (79) Parish Church, Alloue Christmas Eve (16) Monday 24th, 7pm Nativity service for Parish Church, Christmas Eve Taizé-Aizie (86) Monday 24th, 3.30pm children, and all ages welcome. Holy Communion Parish Church, Christmas Day Genouillé (86) Tuesday 25th, 10.30am Holy Communion Parish Church, Christmas Day Courcelles (17) Tuesday 25th, 10.30am

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

Line Dancing? Why not? by Mark Wilson

I used to be one of the many people to have a misconception about line dancing. In 2009 we joined West Line Dancers 79 at Parthenay following a visit to Nashville. We’d had our first taste of line dancing and realised that our preconceptions had been far from the truth, surprised by the variety of styles of dance and music and also by how ‘cardio’ it can be! It has since proven to be very good physical and mental exercise, as well as a very social activity. There is a ball almost every weekend in the area, often with over 150 people in attendance! WLD79 was founded in 2005, and practices many styles of line dancing, including country, Catalan, Celtic and line. Classes are always held in a warm, friendly atmosphere with enjoyment being the key goal. Classes are held on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. For further details contact Mark and Anita Wilson on tel: 05 49 95 28 73 or 06 86 98 94 63, or email:


Please note that ‘The DSM’ Office will be closed from 6pm Friday 7th December until 9am Wednesday 2nd January 2019, although you can still contact us via email. We hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and New Year. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 7

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor

Comet coming in


hilst the Vendée may not be renowned for its annual snowfall (we have a sprinkling on average every seven years!), we do have an enviable selection of Christmas markets to brighten up our winter weekends. From the two week-long commercial stalls set up in Place Napoléon in La Roche-sur-Yon, to the small village markets where you can buy festive gifts made by local schoolchildren, there’s something for everyone.


Of course France being France, you can guarantee that there’ll also be something tasty to eat and drink: sweet and savoury crêpes, steaming mugs of hot chocolate, or the perennial favourite, vin chaud! But there are two Vendéen markets in particular which offer something extra free entertainment for all the family.

Hopefully it will be bright, forecasters expect it to brighten at least 200-fold by December. Comets are frequently unpredictable so the peak brightness is uncertain. Some forecasters think 46P/ Wirtanen could ultimately reach magnitude +3 or +4, making it not a ‘Great Comet’ but a very good one, visible to the unaided eye and a wonderful target for binoculars, small telescopes and cameras.

The first of these is in Beaulieu-sous-la-Roche, about 20km to the west of La Roche-sur-Yon. From the evening of Friday 30th November until late on Sunday 2nd December the small town is a hive of activity. The narrow streets are buzzing with eager Christmas shoppers (avoid Sunday afternoon!), the shop windows have hugely entertaining animations, and for a small entrance fee, you can visit La Féerie des Santons de Noël: eight separate displays of animated models depicting crèche scenes from around the world (open throughout December and January). The second of these markets is 13km south of Fontenay-le-Comte on the site of l’Abbaye de Maillezais. Over two separate weekends, the 1st/2nd then the 8th/9th December, immerse yourself in the orient as you wander through a market more reminiscent of an Arabian souk! As well as the usual selection of stalls selling high quality, though quite pricey, gifts, there are also craft demonstrations, mini concerts, themed shows and an evening firework finale! Who needs snow when the Vendée has so much else to offer in December?

by Ian Welsby

stronomers are calling it ‘the comet of the year’. On 16th December, the kilometre-wide ball of dirty ice called 46P/ Wirtanen will come within 11.5 million km of Earth.

By the time you read this the comet will be heading towards the open star clusters Hyades and Pleiades which are to the right and north of the constellation Orion (see the diagram at the bottom). It will be visible from mid-November onwards with a good pair of binoculars. Ideally, if you can find a place high on a hill with a flat horizon on a clear night, that will give you the best chance and try not to have a town or city between you and the horizon. If it brightens up as is expected, you’re in with a chance. A lot can go wrong, but at the time of writing this I put the chances at 80%. A word of warning, it will get extremely cold out there standing still, so make sure you wrap up well. If you would like to take a photo of the comet but are not sure how to set up your camera I will be at the Café Pause! in L’Absie on the 11th December at 10.45am, and I can go though this with you. 16th 17


14th 15th

Karen’s husband David and daughter Sarah enjoying the festive fun

Christmas market fact file: • Vienna held the first Christmas market in 1294. • Many European cities open their Christmas market by welcoming the ‘Christkind’ (Christ child). This is often played by a boy representing the baby Jesus or a girl dressed as an angel. • In 1616, a priest in Nuremberg had to cancel the afternoon service on Christmas Eve because the local Christmas market had proved so popular that nobody attended. • In Budapest a jury of people from different organisations within the city will check that all products are traditionally homemade. Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

ESE Above: An astrological guide showing the position of the comet from 14th-17th December. The title image is a photograph of comet Lovejoy Ian took in 2015. Ian is Chairman of the Through The Lens Photo Group

Réveillon de Noël by Sue Burgess


e réveillon is a festive meal late in the evening or during the night at Christmas Noël or New Year Nouvel An, Réveillon de la St Sylvestre.

The Christmas menu le menu de Noël is often made up of a succession of hot and cold dishes plats froids et chauds. The hot starters les entrées chaudes are served first: escargots snails, bisque de homard lobster bisque, noix de St Jacques scallops, boudin blanc aux truffes white pudding with truffles. Then the cold starters les entrées froides, huîtres oysters, foie gras, saumon fumé smoked salmon. This is followed by the traditional turkey and chestnuts dinde aux marrons, cheese and the Yule log cake bûche de Noël, which is often served with ice-cream une bûche glacée. The different regions of France used to serve different dishes. In Bordeaux and Charente Maritime people ate grilled sausages saucisses grillées as well as oysters. In Franche-Comté, hot chestnuts and sweet wine marrons chauds accompagnés de vin doux were served. In Lorraine, black pudding boudin noir and waffles gaufres were popular. In Alsace, families enjoyed roast goose with cabbage oie rôtie accompagnée de choux, or roast carp carpe rôtie. For the dessert people made bredele, little biscuits in the shape of Christmas trees, hearts or stars as well as ginger bread pain d’épice. In Provence thirteen desserts treize desserts are set out on the table including the mendiants, hazelnuts, walnuts, figs, raisins, and almonds (the colours represent the colours of the monks’ habits from the five orders of mendicants). Other desserts are added, quince and fruit jellies pâte de coing, pâte de fruits, nougat, melon, dates dattes, mandarins, les calissons (a sort of candy or sweet). These desserts were ready for when the family returned from midnight mass. The French Overseas Territories also have their Christmas specialities: Jambon rôti à l’ananas roast ham with pineapple, boudin antillais spicy black pudding, punch à l’orange orange punch, not forgetting dessert, the delicious blanc-manger au lait de coco, coconut blancmange. When people used to speak of le réveillon they meant the meal after midnight mass, made up of foodstuffs brought by each of the guests. The réveillon was reserved for the grownups. The chidren received their presents, ate their dinner before midnight mass and went off to bed. Nowadays midnight mass is often a lot earlier and so traditions have changed. Bon Appétit !

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: les noix/les noisettes................... walnuts/hazelnuts le saumon fumé ........................ smoked salmon les figues/les dattes ...................


les amandes/la pâte d’amandes

almonds/almond paste

les huîtres/ le homard .............. oysters/lobster la dinde/une poularde ................ turkey/fatted chicken le sanglier/ le chevreuil ............ wild boar/venison les airelles................................... cranberries bûche glacée ..............................

ice-cream yule log

marrons glacés ........................... candied chestnuts la caille/le faisan........................


le chapon/ la pintade................

capon/ guinea fowl The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 9



atching up with Helen and Haley, our Gazelles, is getting more of a challenge these days as the clock continues to tick down towards the rally!

With some great new partners on board for their adventure, notably Veuve Amiot in Saumur, creators of fabulous sparkling wines, the project is once again gaining momentum. However, there is always room for a few more! “Still plenty of space on our sponsor panel” says Haley! The girls have recently had a visit from the team at Land Rover Owner International magazine, and will be featured in an issue in the new year, so that is one to look out for.

In the meantime, the fundraising carries on with a bonfire party and quiz night ….. and the girls are grabbing any opportunity for a bit of off roading practice with a recent visit to a 4x4 club near Poitiers to train. They have also started collecting donations for the charity behind the rally, the Coeur de Gazelles, who carry out medical and humanitarian aid and distribute clothing and educational items to the desert populations. The Sahara beckons! Maybe someone reading this would like to join the team? All the details of how you can help are on the website:

By the time you read this, they will be heading down to Avignon for their navigation course. You may remember that there are no electronic aids allowed on the rally - old fashioned maps and compasses only, so this is absolutely essential training, especially as it is something neither of them have done before. Meanwhile Priscilla the Land Rover is getting lots of TLC ready for her part in the challenge. We spotted lovely red silicone hoses going into the engine bay - the girls are always keen on looking good, of course, but we learn that the silicone is more resilient than rubber especially in high temperature situations! There is such a lot to think about, and the girls have numerous check lists to work through before the rally starts. “We still have quite a bit of equipment to procure” Helen tells us “It would be nice if we could get individual sponsors for items such as our helmets, camping equipment and the like.”

Main: Priscilla being put through her paces. Inset: Helen and Haley toasting future adventures.© Helen Tait-Wright/Chimera

Christmas Quiz

Put your yuletide knowledge to the test with our Christmas Quiz 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17.

What is the best selling Christmas song in the world? In which country is Santa known as Babbo Natale? Two of Santa's reindeer are named after weather phenomenon. Name the reindeer. What is commonly thought to be the names of the three wise men? Which famous Christmas poem was written by Clement Clark Moore? What huge Christmas gift did France give to the United States of America in 1886? Balsam, Douglas, Fraser and Noble are all types of what? How many ghosts visit Scrooge in 'A Christmas Carol'? How many gifts are mentioned in 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' in total? (30 either way) Which English author created the classic children's picture book 'The Snowman'? What line did Bono sing solo in Band Aid's 1984 version of 'Do They Know it's Christmas'? The French word ‘Noël’ is often used around Christmas, but what was its original meaning in Latin? In what decade did Coca-Cola start using Santa Claus in advertisements? What year was the Queen's Christmas speech first broadcast on television? What country is the Poinsettia, with its red and green foliage, native to? By which Saint's Day is Boxing Day also known as? Which pantomime does Widow Twankey appear in?

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

18. 19. 20. 21.

According to legend, London sweet shop owner Tom Smith was poking a fire when he got the inspiration to invent which traditional Christmas item? What is the name of George Bailey's guardian angel in the film ‘It's A Wonderful Life’? Which popular Christmas item gets its name from the old French word 'estincelle', which means ‘spark’? How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizzas?

Answers on P.17

Combined Services Support Group (CSSG) by Lin Adams


e are still out and about raising money for our ex-service and serving personnel. We have recently sent a cheque to SSAFA France, RAF Association, Combat Stress Association and not forgetting our hard working Pompiers. Without your continued support we can’t help those in need, thank you.

On 11th November, the members of CSSG attended the ceremony to mark the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice in Fontenay-leComte. They had been allocated places on the parade ground at the memorial alongside our French brothers and sisters in arms. A wreath was laid by ex-RSM Bill Pownel.

shopping. The CSSG are helping with the refreshments this year as well as holding a raffle. We are always looking for new members to bring new ideas to help us raise money, so if you are interested in helping come along to the Terves market and have a chat or contact John Blair on tel: 05 49 63 23 50 or email: johnblair@ The committee and members of CSSG would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.

We are now looking forward to The Christmas Market in Terves on 2nd December so why not come along and finish your Christmas

The Fable of Monsieur Renard and the Christmas Turkeys


is-en-Lit-l'Église nestles in the rolling countryside of the DeuxSèvres, a few kilometres from the beautiful town of Melle. It is a typically sleepy little French village of some 140 inhabitants, a handful of them from what, at the time of writing, is still the United Kingdom, and still a member of the EU.

One tranquil, starlit night, just a couple of days before Christmas, Monsieur Renard halts on the ridge overlooking the village. His breath plumes out past his lolling tongue like an ostrich feather into the chill night air. He waits. One of his virtues is extreme patience. The village looks rather different. Strings of little white lights bedeck the winding main street, some of the stone houses and a few of the bare trees. Static figures dressed in red are attached half-way up the walls of some buildings. M Renard waits. At last, the church clock chimes, its high-pitched rather tinny sound reverberating clearly a dozen times. It is what M Renard has been awaiting. The unsuspecting people are slumbering peacefully in their beds. It is time to strike. He trots forward. He knows that M Lagorge suffered a serious fire recently so, weighing his ethical values, he skirts his farm and makes for the nearby sheds belonging to M Labouche. He stops, head raised, sniffling the air. 'Ah yes!' he recalls, 'Labouche keeps chickens.' M Renard and his family are tired of chicken takeaway, so he lopes on another hundred meters to the farm of the English newcomers, the Matthews family; he is aware that they are fattening turkeys for Christmas, although he cannot know that, whilst they are keeping one for themselves, they have sold two to some British people and have even persuaded a French couple to buy the fourth bird. 'Turkeys! That'll do nicely.' With great care, pausing every few paces, he heads for the turkey enclosure. Stopping every few seconds to cock his ears, he reaches the wire mesh fence. He starts to scrab at the bottom of the mesh. A few minutes' work and he will have his reward. Scrab...scrab... scrab. The tinny church bell strikes the quarter-hour just as he manages to squeeze himself under the protective wire. At a bound, he leaps up through the weak palings enclosing the roosting box. All four of the turkeys cower into the corners, gobbling and squawking. Snap! One swoons, bleeding fatally. Snap! A second turkey slumps in the straw. A third turkey evades his jaws and leaps out of the

by Clive Anthony Greenwood

box, down into the enclosure. Abandoning the fourth gobblegobbling turkey, he chases after the panic-stricken bird, which bursts out frantically underneath the wire mesh and sets off up the slope. This is unplanned, but M Renard cannot have imagined that things would turn out so perfectly. All he needs to do now is a little shepherding - or turkey herding! He follows, loping easily across the pastures, which are brightly illumined by the moon, whose light has until now been masked by the only clouds in the night sky. 'Everything's hunky-dory', muses M Renard, unaware of the global dimensions of his thinking, as he drives the gobbling wobble-jogging turkey up the slope and over the top of the rise. Another hundred metres and they will be near the den under the roots of an ancient and almost hollow oak tree in the copse. At the very edge of the shadowy woodland M Renard pounces. With one savage snap of his jaws he breaks the neck of the Christmas turkey. Breathing fast from his exertions, head lowered, he pauses for a long time. Then he grips the dead bird in his teeth. I do not know, dear reader, if you have ever tried to lift a dead, fully-grown turkey with your teeth? It is not easy, I assure you. But M Renard has only twenty-five meters to go to his den, a little over the length of a cricket pitch - although we cannot expect a French fox to entertain such a thought. He knows he can manage THAT distance. As he half-carries, half-drags the limp bird through the rustling leaf-litter, he might be forgiven for reflecting: 'Thank goodness I was brought up properly and introduced to ‘The Fables of La Fontaine’, so that I learned, like any self-respecting creature, to use my brain'. That Christmas, the only person in Pis-en-Lit-L'Église to cook a turkey was Madame Voisine. But, good neighbour that she is, she and her husband invited the Matthews family (who, as the percipient reader will have guessed, hail from Norfolk) to join them for their Christmas meal. They all enjoyed their festive feast almost as much as M et Mme Renard and their paw-lickin' cubs.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 11

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


Please visit the branch website:

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

Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres

Aims to improve the lives of people affected by Cancer in the Deux-Sèvres. Contact June Searchfield on 05 49 64 59 96 or visit


Every Monday and Wednesday afternoon 2-6pm in CIVRAY. Lessons available free. Call Marian Green on: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: 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:

Bridge Players Wanted

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

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

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:


A British style band, who meet each Tuesday at 8pm, at the Salle de la Cendille, Limalonges (just 1km from the N10). All levels welcome. Call Penny on 06 38 78 99 92 or visit our website Melleran Chanteurs – Amateur singing group meeting every Monday 6.45pm in Melleran Salle des Fetes. French & English members, singing in many languages. New voices always welcomed, particularly tenor and bass. For more information contact Maggie Geal 05 49 07 11 69

Get Together is an association for English speakers of all nationalities. We have social gatherings, lunch & wine club, quizzes, walks, group meetings for all manner of hobbies and much more. Contact Julia Murray for joining details. Email: Tel. 05 49 07 70 69


Meets every 2nd & 4th Wednesday of each month at Coulonges-sur-l’Autize. For when, where, how and why of practical gardening contact Janette by email: or call: 05 49 75 50 06.

Alone in France?

We are a group of people living alone who meet on the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays at 11am for coffee at the Pause! café in L’Absie. Our lunches are at different venues each month, a warm welcome awaits you.

Chorale Mélusine, Parthenay

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


If so, join a group of like-minded friendly modellers who meet on a monthly basis to visit member’s layouts and swap information. If you are interested please contact Gerry Riley for more information on 05 49 63 34 01.


I’m Francis. I am 52 years old, French and have been learning English for a few years. I live in Aiffres (nr Niort). I would like to meet with English speaking people near me, to spend a couple of hours per week to speak in French or English. We could both improve our language skills this way. Contact me on or 06 85 92 58 33.

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

Franglais at Bressuire

Sunday fishing group starting in Secondigny. Quality mixed coarse fishing with plenty of roach, bream, tench and carp. If you are interested please contact John Remington on 05 49 94 25 29 or

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

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

swinging sixties. It is a hilarious, deliciously concocted dissection of middle-class morals. With many twists and turns, we promise you laughs and a great night out. Tickets are priced at 10€ and are available from Dorothy on tel: 05 49 05 67 41 or

Nous vous avons posé un lapin!


by Sue Fitzgerald

ut please remove that rabbit because TheatriVasles is back after a short postponement (due to illness) with Relatively Speaking (7th and 8th December at 8pm) by none other than Alan Ayckbourn. Indeed, those rabbits will have to stay out of the theatre completely according to the best superstitions of French theatre! Rather like busses (there’s no useful French idiom here!), you wait months for one production to come along and you get three within a few weeks. Many of you will have been to Get Together‘s event to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice of Compiègne. A great success and extremely moving. Then there is Reaction Theatre’s Panto that we (at time of writing) are all looking forward to enormously on November 23rd and 24th. Followed by the aforementioned TheatriVasles production of Relatively Speaking, generously sponsored by our friends at Blevins Franks and UK Affordable Designs. So, with the beats of the Beatles and the Small Faces ringing out across the theatre, here in Vasles, we've been busy rehearsing (when we can fit it around compulsory vitamin C shots and doses of echinacea). With our costumes and interior design, our music and miniskirts, we're stepping back fifty years to the swinging sixties to bring you classic Ayckbourn - a wonderfully characteristic mix of humour and sharp observation. Written when he was in his midtwenties, it evocatively captures the mood and the morals of the

Performances will take place on Friday 7th December and Saturday 8th December at 8pm, at the theatre in Vasles, 79340. Doors will open from 7pm for pre-show drinks (members, remember your cards for your complimentary tipple) and Le Zinc across the road will be serving an ‘Early Bird’ menu from 6pm. Contact them directly on tel: 05 49 69 94 92. We’re looking forward to seeing you there!

The show must go on! The cast in rehearsal for the opening night.

For more information visit or find us on Facebook

Relatively Speaking by

Alan Ayckbourn Performances: Fri 7th Dec 8pm Sat 8th Dec 8pm Tickets 10 euros Call: 05 49 05 67 41

Theatre Maison du Village, Place 25 Aout, 79340 VASLES

Sponsored By Blevins Franks & Affordable UK Designs

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 13

Nothing To Report... by the Get Together History Group


he Commemoration performance of the 100th Anniversary of the 1918 Armistice at the in Vasles Theatre made us view this dark chapter in our history through the eyes of the women. A selection of poems and prose by women were used effectively by writer Vaughan T. Wells to highlight and make us think again about what it must have been like to have lived through those horrific years and the continued repercussions. The performance comprised of a series of vignettes and short scenes reflecting how the events of the Great War affected the lives of those at the front and those left behind. We see a woman addressing a crowd at a recruitment rally while a small boy hands out white feathers to those men who don't step forward to 'volunteer'. A young girl describes life in the munitions factory, another the torment of the long hours spent waiting for news of loved ones from the front line. The guilt of a mother who encouraged and sent her son to ‘take the King's shilling’ and the young woman who receives the news that her lover has been killed in action, she is left pregnant and alone. In one of the latter vignettes two soldiers recall the tension of the final ten minutes before going into battle fifes, no trumpets, no drums, just an officer’s whistle and ‘over the top - to kingdom come!’

Above: Richard Smith (who also directed) and Lynn Vaux perform The Call, a scene from the Commemoration performance and (below) an exhibition of Great War posters and associated artwork, by Art Scene, which accompanied the performance.

Directed by Richard Smith, the staging was simple, but very effective. A narrator introduced and contextualised each scene, while images of wartime propaganda were projected onto a screen accompanied by contempoary music, including the emotive Brother-in-Arms, by Mark Knopfler. The 200 strong French and English audience were then invited to attend a wreath laying ceremony at the War Memorial. CLE (Charente Limousine Exchange) is a non-profit organisation for exchange of news, views and information. We work to protect member’s best interests, run social activities, events and clubs, helping members to make new ex-patriate and French friends. John Welch 05 49 87 90 33


Come and join us. Learn at your own pace within a mixed group of English and French speaking people, in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Every Thursday 8pm-9.30pm. Contact Penny 02 51 63 31 21 or Ray 02 51 61 28 69.

nuar ning Ja


y 2019


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


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

Pure Fitness

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

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

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

WANT TO PLAY CRIBBAGE? Whether you are experienced, a novice, or want to learn how to play, everyone is welcome. We are a group of friendly players who meet the last Friday evening of every month in La Chapelle Thireuil. Contact Sally on 05 49 76 15 30

Les Amis Solitaires

We are a group of people living alone in France. We meet up for coffee mornings from 11am, every 2nd & 4th Thursday at The Lemon Tree in Sauzé Vaussais. More details from Gwen on 05 17 34 10 23 or email:

ThouarStMed’Arts - Association that aims to bring together people from the historic town of Thouars (Quartier Saint Médard) for a new development of artistic activity. Exhibitions, galleries, brocantes, creators, cultural events etc. Visit the website:

Health, Beauty & Fitness Small B/W Advert from 34€ per month

We are a netball team in Vasles (79340). We meet every Monday 6-7pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles for training with our qualified English coach. It’s fun and a great way to keep fit, so come along or contact:

Tai Chi classes

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

Everyday Yoga for Everyone by Rebecca Novick

Stand Tall: The simplest adjustment there is ‘Sit up straight!’ is something that many had barked at us during our childhoods, especially if any of you, like me, came from a military family. Although we likely experienced it as a rather unpleasant injunction, it is probably some of the best advice we could get. Bad posture not only inhibits our breathing, but it can also contribute to aches and pains, negative mood, increased stress, poor circulation, balance, digestion and fatigue. Try this sitting down. First, enter an exaggerated slouching posture. Hunch your back, let your shoulders roll forwards so that the diaphragm collapses, and let the belly sag. Stay here for about 15 seconds, paying attention to how you feel, not just physically, but mentally. You will probably notice that you feel disinclined for action and a little emotionally flattened. Now, forgetting your shoulders, very slowly lift up through your core – the central part of your torso. Keep lifting up through the midsection and notice your spine begin to straighten. Keep extending the lift upwards into your upper back, gently lengthening the neck. Your shoulders will naturally begin to straighten out as a result. Do this as slowly as possible, savouring every degree of the adjustment. You’ll be surprised how far you can go. Do you feel more capable? More courageous? More ready to face the world? Do this 2-3 more times. Notice how, when you slump, your nose points towards the ground, and how your line of sight raises as you lift up. Pay attention to how raising your line of sight contributes to subtle changes in attitude. This simple adjustment can be done sitting or standing. When we try to change any habit, it may feel unnatural at first and even a bit sore as we begin to re-program years of poor posture. The good news is that only a few weeks of yoga can make significant changes to our posture, so that we can stand tall in all ways.

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

CSDS LATEST NEWS by June Searchfield - President CSDS


ell another year is quickly disappearing and I thought an update from CSDS was in order. It has been a year of ups and downs, on a personal level, a difficult time after the diagnosis of Martin’s (my husband) cancer. However, the hospital is extremely pleased with his progress and we are looking forward with positivity. CSDS has had some busy moments, also quiet times.... people asking for support has been less this year, which for the Association is a bonus - hopefully, it means that less people are being diagnosed. A two day training course was held back in March which enabled new volunteers to be trained to support clients. We continue to be involved with La Ligue and took part in the Relais pour la vie in July. A great event which was held in La Mothe-Saint-Héray and the proceeds of which were donated to Professor Valerie Coronas of Poitiers Research department. Before I close, I would like to thank all the people who have held functions for us or donated monies and items for us to sell at our events. A particular thank you to Cheryl Appleton who has supported us so much with her quizzes and dinners. Her Christmas event is on Thursday 13th December at Lion d’Or, Saint-Hilaire-de-Voust. Further details are on our Facebook page. Wishing you all a Happy Christmas and a peaceful, healthy New Year.

If you would like to become a Volunteer with our organisation, please get in touch through the website or speak to one of our members. New members are always welcome.

Cancer Support Deux-Sevres

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 15


Buying a book for Christmas


by Alison Morton

ooks are a traditional Christmas present. I still remember as a little girl the sheer delight of opening new books on Christmas morning. New worlds beckoned, new adventures began, new heroes and heroines to be followed. As an adult, I can buy any book, electronic or print, all the year round. But there is still a frisson when opening that brightlywrapped book-shaped package on the 25th December. Walking round a bookshop, feasting eyes on the covers, browsing tables and shelves and reading book covers and first paragraphs is like entering a cave of delights. However, today many, possibly most, buy online; not just ebooks, but paperbacks. But how and what do we buy? Of course, the bestsellers – the cookery books, the latest thrillers, historical adventures, ‘how to’ manuals, celebs’ biographies, heart-warming romance, or sword and sorcery fantasy. But do we look below the line and find something that bit different?

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to Marion Credit and Brian Findlay for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

A COLUMN OF FIRE by Ken Follett A Column of Fire is the third book in the Kingsbridge series, the first two being Pillars of the Earth and World Without End (although each book stands alone and it is not necessary to have read them in order). The backdrop for this novel is the reign of Elizabeth I and the setting up off a new secret service to keep her safe and in power; religious hatred is sweeping Europe and there are many who would see her removed, not least Mary Queen of Scots.

Recommendation is still the most common way we choose books, whether from a friend, a favourite blog, a shelf label in a bookshop, a magazine article or your book club. If you’re in the UK for a pre-Christmas shop, then you can make a beeline for the local Waterstones, WH Smith, or even better, an independent bookshop. Opportunities are fewer here in France. However, there are other places to find good quality undiscovered gems.

The central character, Ned Willard, decides he cannot stay in Kingsbridge and watch the love of his life marry another, and as fires burn and extremism begins to spark throughout Europe, he chooses to spend his life protecting his monarch from those who aim to destroy her.

If you buy from Amazon, look at the row of ‘Customers who bought this item also bought’. You may find another title to intrigue you, one that may suit the person you’re buying for even better. Amazon’s mighty algorithm works in mysterious but efficient ways. (Other online retailers are available!)

It is a hefty read at 900 pages, but the story romps along. As well as a fast moving narrative and engaging characters, I enjoyed discovering the background behind some of the historical events of the time including the death of Mary Queen of Scots, the Spanish Armada and the Gunpowder Plot as I was immersed into Follett’s Elizabethan world.

Surfing Facebook book clubs can be very rewarding for inspiration as members will have read and reviewed titles. If your bent is for historical, then Discovering Diamonds Reviews (www. is an excellent place for fresh voices and original historical fiction. If you’re after more new voices and quality assured independent fiction, the indieBRAG site showcases the best - only 10% make it on to their list after a rigorous selection process. ( The Crime Writers Association showcases its long and shortlists for the best in crime and mystery (, and the International Thriller Writers’ magazine lists new publications each month in its online magazine The Big Thrill. And for the romantics, a great place to look is on the Romantic Novelists’ Association blog ( Finding the blog or website of your favourite author can also introduce you to other author’s works as they often have guests or post reviews of other books. And of course, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of book blogs on the internet, some very specific with reviews and spotlights on new work. In the Deux-Sèvres, there are paperback exchanges like Bayleaf Books ( and authors living locally like me who will be selling their books at the Christmas markets. But don’t forget to buy the odd book for yourself to while away the time when everybody else is watching Toy Story or Scrooge for the umpteenth time!

A Happy Christmas to you all and thank you for reading. Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available on Amazon. Her new short story collection, ROMA NOVA EXTRA, is now out. 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

Follett creates an array of characters both historical and fictional, whose paths criss-cross throughout the book. Like spinning plates the author deftly jumps from one to another making sure we engage in each storyline through the characters and events.

One of those books you want to pick up and read rather than feeling you should. by Marion Credit

THE ROMANO RANSOM - A FARGO ADVENTURE by Clive Cussler and Robin Burcell Treasure hunters Sam and Remi Fargo are in Marrakesh when they hear that two associates have found a long-lost aircraft – and then vanished without trace. Sam and Remi discover that the aircraft had a connection to the hunt for the legendary Romanov Ransom, believed to be Russian treasure stolen by the Nazis but never recovered. The couple cross paths with the fanatical Wolf Guard, murderous descendants of the original Nazis, who are also on the treasure trail to finance the establishment of a Fourth Reich. The Fargos have to travel from North Africa to Europe and then South America in a race against time to stop them. All good, racy and exciting stuff. by Brian Findlay.


THE HAPPY PRINCE (19th December) Rupert Everett directs and stars as Oscar Wilde, in the story of the famous playwright’s final days. Broke, disgraced, and in exile following his public outing, Wilde drinks his way through France, giving in to the vices that would eventually take his life. A stunning portrayal of lost fame, with Everett absolutely astounding in the lead role. Most interestingly, the film shines a light on the injustice of his end, with his sexuality being the chief reason for him losing everything. A must for fans of Wilde, and those who love a good character study. Release dates are nationwide in France.

Take a Break - SOLUTION

WILDLIFE (19th December) Actor Paul Dano (War and Peace, There Will Be Blood) goes behind the camera to direct a 1960’s set story of a young boy forced to deal with the crumbling psyche of his mother (Carey Mulligan) when his father (Jake Gyllenhaal) leaves to help fight a nearby forest fire. Superbly acted, the film wanders close to melodrama at times but is never anything less than gripping. A sure-fire Oscar contender, if only for Carey Mulligan’s engrossing portrayal of a woman struggling to cope with society’s expectations.

Easy Crossword: Across: 1. aboard 4. impede 8. sleet 9. receive 10. pecan 11. obvious 12. adversity 15. eternal 16. fight 17. atheist 18. siren 19. chilli 20. ponder Down: 2. belief 3. Alexander Bell 5. paediatrician 6. devour 7. armour plate 13. stitch 14. cheese

HUNTER KILLER (12th December) The machismo is turned up to 11 in this gruff submarine thriller. Gerard Butler is a rookie submarine captain who finds himself and his crew in the middle of a plot that could start World War 3, and must work with forces in the air and on land to stop it. If you’ve seen any action movie ever you’ll know what to expect – explosions, gun fire and sarcastic quips. Oh, and Gary Oldman shouting the house down as a government official. It’s all a bit predictable, but still there’s a fun, disposable element to everything that harks back to the 80’s action genre.

“Tight Lines!”

Toughie Crossword: Across: 1. customs 5. Babel 8. union 9. records 10. bile 11. Brussels 14. eft 16. stylo 17. sew 19. legacies 20. deal 23. animism 25. trade 26. edges 27. yorkers Down: 1. crumble 2. still 3. owns 4. sir 5. backstop 6. borders 7. loses 12. rhyme 13. psychics 15. tagging 18. welders 19. leave 21. evade 22. stir 24. May

THE GRINCH (Out now) Benedict Cumberbatch takes on Dr. Seuss’ most famous creation as a Christmas-hating Grinch who steals the festivities from the small town of Whoville. This madcap animation from the makers of Despicable Me sticks to the source material, which makes for a slightly straightforward tale in comparison to the beloved 2000 version starring Jim Carrey. However, with cute gags and a warm Christmas message, it’s hard to begrudge this Grinch as great family entertainment that the kids will absolutely adore this December.

It would be good to know if there are enough anglers who would be keen to get such a group underway, so if you are interested please contact John Remington on 05 49 94 25 29 or message to If there is enough interest then perhaps we could get together and discuss the best way to go forward with such a group.


We’ve got Christmas cheer, action and award-worthy performances this month to end 2018 on a high!

Simon and Julie Tee have kindly offered their lake at La Germondière, Secondigny 79130 as a venue for a Sunday fishing group. For those not familiar with this lake it is a quality mixed coarse fishery with plenty of roach, bream, tench and carp.

Q1. Water Q2. Pea Q3. 18€ (4.50€ per leg) Q4. 4 - (9999 has 4 closed areas, 8888 has 8 closed areas and there are no other digits, 1816 has 3 closed areas and it has 2 other digits i.e. 3 x 2 = 6, 1212 has 0 closed areas i.e. 0 x 4 = 0) Q5. 977 animals (100 x 2 = 200; 200 + 800 = 1000; 1000 – 23 = 977) Q6. 15.50€ Q7. a) Robin Hood b) See eye to eye

by James Luxford


1. White Christmas by Bing Crosby 2. Italy 3. Donner, which means thunder in German, and Blitzen, which means lightning 4. Balthazar, Gaspar and Melchior 5. Twas the night before Christmas (originally called A visit from St. Nicholas) 6. The Statue of Liberty 7. Christmas/fir trees 8. Four: Ghosts of Jacob Marley, Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come 9. 364 Gifts 10. Raymond Briggs 11. Well tonight thank God it’s them instead of you 12. Birth 13. 1920’s 14. 1957 15. Mexico 16. Saint Stephen’s Day 17. Aladdin 18. The Christmas cracker 19. Clarence 20. Tinsel 21. Deep pan, crisp and even!



1-10: good, 11-15: very good, 16-18: excellent, 19-21: get you!

m Christ


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 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 17

Th e Bre ad or ‘Th read’ Ba sket!

by Nicola Chadwick

Step 3 – Stitch around layers and the ties in plathe perimeter of the square to hold the help the basket fold whence, also stitch a square 6cm in, this will the ties are secured. You trim any batting away tha may need to t has popped out.


his simple sewing project makes a basket that can be used for bread, or for anything else that you like to keep neat and tidy. I already have one for my bread, so I have made a ‘thread’ basket. You will need: • A piece of pretty fabric large enough to cut a square of 30cm x 30cm (or any other measurements you choose). • A piece of lining – cut the same size as the main fabric. • A piece of batting or wadding for the centre of the basket – again cut the same size as the main fabric piece. • You will also need some trimmings: 1.5 meters of bias binding, 2 meters of tie cord or ribbon and some matching thread. • Equipment: Ruler, paper to make your pattern, pins, fabric and paper scissors. I also used a magic disappearing fabric pen, but you can use chalk to mark the fabric. If you would like to download the pattern template for this project, as always it can be found on my blog page. use as a template for your Step 1 – Cut out a paper square totemplate I used for my basket, basket, or simply download the PDF lines marked for you and a this has all the tie points and stitching template to cut one square in guide to curving the corners. Use the square in lining. On the lining fabric, one square in batting and onepen a square 6cm in from the square mark with fabric chalk or a e later. edge, this will be used as a sewing guid

fabric you want to appear Step 2 – Make a sandwich: place thethe right side down on the on the outside of the basket with then place the fabric you table, place the batting in the middle,(lining) with the right side et want to appear on the inside bask in place to hold. Now attach of the fabric upwards. Pin the layers point with pins. the straps, 6cm in from each corner

Step 4 – Applying the bias binding to the edge of the basket. If you would like to make your own home made bias binding then head to my blog page at to find a detailed guide and a free template! There are so many gorgeous bias binding tapes you can purchase now from your fabric shop, and binding a fabric edge is a useful technique for all types of projects and styles, so it’s well worth taking the time to learn. It can be a little fiddley to begin with. Curve the corners of the square gently to help the binding travel around the square. First fold back the end of the bias tape and pin all the way around the edge, when you come to the end overlap by a couple of centimeters (one inch). Stitch all the way around (in the fold of the binding).

Now fold the binding over to the again to complete – remember ther inside of the basket and stitch e are more detailed instructions for this on my blog page!

not come to learn, then why th If you are new to sewing or would love December 4 day Tues on day ing sew rs nne and join me for a begi here in my workshop! s why not improve them by Or if you already have some skill here with me on Wednesday ect proj a on king spending a day wor or to book a place email: 5th December. For more information Nicola

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

Creature Corner This month’s creature:

by Steve Shaw

The Reindeer (Le Renne)


eindeer are part of the deer family, or Cervidae and are found in Alaska, Canada, Greenland, northern Europe and northern Asia. In North America they are also called caribou. The name reindeer is from the old Norse word hreinn for deer and has nothing to do with the reins of a sled. Description - Reindeer are the only type of deer in which both the male and female grow antlers. These antlers fall off and regrow every year. They have two layers of fur (the underlayer consists of fine, dense hairs while the outer shaggier layer consists of hollow hairs that help insulate and keep them warm). Their noses are specially designed to warm the air before it gets to their lungs. The dense network of blood vessels in reindeer noses is also essential for regulating the animal’s internal body temperature. Reindeer have large hooves with two toes and two dewclaws. The toes spread to distribute their weight as they walk and the dew claws provide grip on uneven ground. In summer the hoof pads are thick and spongy for soft ground, but they shrink in winter to expose the rim of the hoof, which is better for scraping ice.

between ten to a few hundred. Some North American caribou migrate over 3,000 miles in a year – more than any other land mammal. Scientists think that the reindeer was one of the first domesticated animals (around 3,000 years ago). They dig for food using their large hooves and run up to 80km per hour. They can see ultraviolet light, which means they are still able to see during the winter months. Interesting facts • Golden eagles are the leading predator of caribou calves. • Once the entire body of a reindeer was found inside a Greenland shark. • Male reindeer lose their antlers in November, but females keep theirs much longer. This means that Santa Claus’ reindeer must have all been female, since they are depicted as having horns on 24th December.

Behaviour - Some subspecies have knees that make a clicking noise when they walk so the animals can stay together in a blizzard. Reindeer are very social creatures, they feed, travel and rest in groups of

Letter from Blighty (November) Dear Frankie Big Brexit day today, as the Cabinet are at this very moment trying to agree the Withdrawal Agreement which arrived only yesterday from M Barnier. The ‘usual suspects’ - Johnson, Rees-Mogg, and IDS have already denounced it, despite not having read any of the 500 pages involved, which will be published later today. A big Royal day too as it is Prince Charles’ 70th birthday. He has been getting a better press of late, emerging with credit from a TV documentary last week which featured his quirkiness, hard work, strong views, and extensive charitable work. He is far-sighted too, as he was inveighing against the over-use of plastic 40 years ago. The last few weeks have seen a Budget, in which the Chancellor announced that austerity is coming to an end (Mrs May announced its demise at the Tory Party Conference weeks ago). He managed to distribute ‘goodies’ in various directions. Perhaps he thinks there is a General Election in the offing. In the meantime, the papers have been full of the Khashoggi murder (might it indirectly lead to a cease fire in the Yemen, I wonder?). For the rest, how many of these news items did you spot? Life expectancy for men in the UK is 79.2 years compared to 80.1 in France (82.9 for UK women and 85.7 for French women). Ross Edgley swam the 1,791 miles round the UK in five months. Plastic bottles take 450 years to degrade. Classical music is being performed faster. Hospitals earn £70 million a year by charging staff for car parking. A study of 33,000 Labradors has found that the yellow and black varieties outlive the chocolate variety by almost a year and a half. Liz Fraser, Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe, has died aged 85. Stan Lee, creator of Superman has died aged 95. And George Pinto, said to be a ‘forbidding and eccentric merchant banker, rarely convivial but always droll’, has died in a car accident aged 89. A keen golfer, he once caught a couple in flagrante delicto in a bunker. He simply asked them, `Are you members?’ Cool dude! Yours Johnny

Goodwill toward Men

by Martin Hughes


n this month when we wish all the world peace notwithstanding the best efforts of Presidents, Prime Ministers and my printer. In anticipation of my own excesses and indolence as I watch The Great Escape for the 47th time and Nancy's misplaced love for Bill Sykes, let me share with you some of the parallel laws of the universe to lighten up the long nights ahead. “In America only the successful writer is important, in France all writers are important, in England no writer is important, in Australia you have to explain what a writer is.” Geoffrey Cotterell “There is no greater bliss than when the plumber eventually comes to unblock your drains. No writer can give that sort of pleasure.” Victoria Glendinning [Note: Takes a little longer in France.] “If a lump of soot falls into the soup and you cannot conveniently get it out, stir it in well, and it will give the soup a French taste.” Jonathan Swift “Children really brighten up a household. They never turn the lights off.” Ralph Bus “A committee is a group of people who individually can do nothing, but together decide that nothing can be done.” Fred Allen “The sewing circle is the Protestant confessional, where each one confesses, not her own sins, but the sins of her neighbour.” Charles H Fairbanks “The secret of a good sermon is to have a good beginning and a good ending and having the two as close together as possible.” George Burns “My ancestors wandered lost in the wilderness for forty years because even in biblical times men would not stop to ask for directions.” Elayne Boosler The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 19

Home & Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


he shortest day of the year falls in December which means making the most of the available light if we want to work outside. Although a winter month, it can be quite mild here and so not unpleasant to be in the garden, but with climate change becoming more evident all around us, we don’t really know what to expect from one year to the next. Last winter was a hard one for us all and so it will be better to prepare for the worst, with plenty of fleece and mulch at the ready. The beautiful golden spire of the Gingko Biloba tree at the end of the garden is almost bare now, but it has put on such a good show, illuminating that area on the drearier, darker days. It’s such a worthwhile tree to grow, has an upright elegant habit with alternating branches and puts on growth quickly. The leaves resemble those of the maidenhair fern and thus its other name is the maidenhair tree. Another interesting and colourful tree at this time of year is the corkscrew hazel, (avellana contorta) with its twisted, red, gnarled branches and new buds evident ready for the spring. The catkins, when they appear, are brilliant yellowy-orange and there is the bonus of nuts later in the year. Because it is a variety that has been altered from the natural hazel species, it will produce straight branches from the base, and these must be cut out otherwise the whole tree will revert to a straight branched variety. Other shrubs/trees that provide good winter colour and perfume include, Hamamelis (witch hazel) with lovely tassels of orange, red or yellow, Sarcococca box, which is evergreen and has the smallest, but most highly perfumed white flowers and Daphne odorata which has small clusters of perfumed pink flowers.

Left: the engaging shape of the corkscrew hazel. Top right: the golden leaves of the maidenhair tree (Gingko biloba) are of similar shape to the fern with the same name (bottom middle). Bottom right: the Hamamelis (witch hazel) offers good winter colour.

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

There is still work to be done in the garden, but with the weather being a bit unpredictable, it can be a good time to plant up some colourful winter pots to bring a bit of cheer to the outside. Good combinations are variegated ivy, skimmia, winter pansies or violas, cyclamen of various shades and some variegated grass such as fountain grass. Try silver curry plant with white cyclamen and ophiopogon or a lime green heuchera with pink cyclamen and golden heather. Mixing, matching and contrasting can give some satisfying results and they will last the whole winter. My lemon trees are being prepared for the cold too. They will be wrapped completely in fleece, pot included, and put into the greenhouse, or in a sheltered spot against a wall for added protection. They stand in saucers filled with damp gravel, keeping the compost moist, but not soggy. If the leaves start to yellow, I give them a feed of citrus fertilizer. Wind and draughts can be very damaging and cause leaf drop and I’ll be keeping an eye out for pests such as red spider mite. It’s a good time to start hippeastrum bulbs. Pick the largest and hardest you can, checking for any sign of disease, and pot up in potting compost, leaving one third of the bulb above the level of the compost. Water sparingly otherwise the bulb will rot. Use a half strength liquid fertilizer whilst the leaves and flower stems are forming and when flowering is finished, use full strength fertilizer if you want to keep the bulbs for next year. Poinsettias are on sale everywhere - a real sign of Christmas. If you buy one, place it in a draft free spot in natural daylight, and only water it when the surface of the compost feels dry….don’t stand it in a saucer of water!

Now is the time to:

Apply mulch to perennials to protect crowns from frost and prevent weeds from growing; camellias in pots should be moved to a sheltered position to prevent wind damage. Lily bulbs can be planted now. Fill a pot with compost, place the lily bulb on top and just fill in around the bulb with more compost. The Oriental lilies have the larger blooms and the stronger scent, whilst the Asian varieties are less scented but come in a wider range of colours. Finish planting tulip bulbs. Plant hellebores, mulching around them to stop mud splashing on the petals and damaging them. Alpines will die if fallen leaves are left covering them. Remove and

Ideas for your winter pots

Variegated ivy





Silver curry plant

Winter Pansies

Prune wisteria by shortening side shoots to two buds. Cut chrysanthemum stems back to base after flowering. Take hardwood cuttings of Callicarpa, and viburnums, inserting the cuttings into a slit trench in the earth. Pinch out shoot tips on autumn sown sweet peas to encourage thicker more sturdy plants. Raise patio pots onto feet to aid drainage. Prune apple and pear trees, cutting out dead, diseased and crossing branches. Prune acers, birch trees and grape vines to prevent bleeding when the sap rises in the new year. Continue to plant bare root trees and roses. Cover rhubarb with a bucket to ‘force’ the growth of early tender stems. Older well established plants can be divided now.

Continue to plant garlic. Harvest root crops and Brussels sprouts. Plant blueberry in pots of ericaceous compost, grow two different cultivars to aid pollination. Cut back ivy from around guttering. Prune out a quarter of woody stems from blackcurrants. Cut back autumn fruiting raspberries, leaving one or two canes to produce some early fruit next year. Dig over empty veg-beds, cover with tarpaulin ready for planting up next season.

Clean tools ready to store over winter. Clean and service the lawn mower, sharpening the blade ready for next year. Clean the glazing on the greenhouse and wrap the inside with bubble wrap giving


extra winter protection to plants inside. Remove pumps from ponds and lag outside taps. Tidy the shed. Continue raking leaves off lawns and paths and clean decking. Check stored vegetables and fruits, discarding any that are damaged or rotting.

add some gritty compost to the base of the plants to aid drainage and encourage regrowth. Cut back honeysuckle to encourage new growth at the base. Remove faded blooms from heathers. Protect cordylines from frost with fleece. •


Don’t forget to put food out for the birds.

Spend some time planning what you intend with the garden next year. Dream over seed catalogues and internet garden centres. Sort through all those packets of seeds you’ve been keeping for years and promise yourself to sow some of them...soon! And have a well deserved rest and a break from all your hard work.

Christmas is coming so perhaps a glass of something instead of a cuppa. Whatever you do have a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year! Cheers!


Don’t forget to leave something out for the birds.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 21

79380 La Forêt-sur-Sèvre 22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

Our Furry Friends Association En Route – by Christa Doody The Beginning


hen you find a passion, and circumstances throw you an opportunity to become more involved in what you love, it’s almost as if fate has been leading you to this point. My passion is dogs, the sadder their tale and the more help they need, the more I love them. I also move in a circle surrounded by people who feel the same, so when we were given the opportunity to work with a local fourièrre (dog pound) to rehome their homeless dogs, we felt we were ready, well placed and had the support to do it. So, here we are, one month in to what has been a steep learning curve of setting up an association and all that entails: bank meetings, form filling, lots of numbers and already four dogs in a new home because we helped them. We’re delighted with what we’ve achieved and are now focussing on letting more people know we’re here and what we do. The main aim for us is to get each dog out of the pound and into a new home as quickly as possible, whether it’s a permanent or temporary one. So we are always on the lookout for foster homes, a place where a homeless dog can de-stress and get used to family life, and where we can guide them through training and gather as much information as possible to find them the right home. One of the dogs we have in foster at the moment has been having seizures, which are upsetting for the poor dog who really doesn’t understand what’s happening to him, but also extremely distressing to witness. So we are learning about how it affects him and how best to deal with it. He has responded well to treatment and we’ll be following up on his story in due course. Of the four dogs that have been rehomed, three of them went straight from the pound to their new home and have all settled really well. One of them is struggling a bit to understand that outside is where one relieves oneself, but is slowly adjusting, and the other two have obviously been much loved house dogs as they’ve settled as if they’ve always been there. The fourth one was fostered for a couple of weeks before being snapped up into her own forever home, and is also settling perfectly. We look forward to sharing our story as it unfolds. No doubt we will have our ups and downs but we are looking forward to doing our best to help our dogs EN ROUTE to a better life.

If anyone is interested in learning more, adopting a dog or getting involved with us in some way, please have a look at our website: www. or email us at: We will be at the Civray Christmas Market on 4th December if you’d like to meet us, do some Christmas shopping and partake of some of our homemade refreshments.

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


Heath is a delightful four-year-old bundle of energy currently in foster. He loves everyone; is great with other dogs and we feel a home with another active dog or an active family, where he'll get plenty of exercise and stimulation will be best for him. He's good on the lead and around food, is obedient, attentive, affectionate and although his foster family have noticed he can be a bit ovewhelmed by new things, he is a truly happy, waggy boy who just wants to please.

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


Marcus is a three-year-old cross. He is a very affectionate and cuddly dog, who adores adults and children. No problem with other dogs but we will avoid placing him in a family with cats. He is clean, non-destructive, and enjoys his daily walks. Marcus is a dog filled with love. He will be happy in a house with a fenced garden in a rural or semi-rural setting. He is neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and has a passport.

The Assocation Orfée tel: 09 77 48 71 43

Please consider him a new home and contact Orfée. or by offering email:

Visit the website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 23

Where We Live...


Paul and Krysia Tadman

Bleu du Haut-Jura (AOC) This mild blue cheese is also known as Bleu de Gex, or Bleu de Septmoncel, but its official name is Bleu du Haut-Jura. It's a naturally blued cheese from FrancheComté and, like many cheeses of its type, has an interesting history. The story goes that in 1467 Brother Anselme, a monk from the Abbey of Chézery, was on a pilgrimage when he was caught in a snowstorm. Numbed with cold, he finally found some shelter slumped behind a big rock. Meanwhile, a local peasant called Constant Grossiord was on his way back after delivering honey from his hives and found footprints in the snow, which led him to the rock. He found the half-dead monk, wrapped him in his big cloak, and started to carry him home. Tired and struggling with the effort of carrying the monk, Constant was attacked by a pack of wolves but managed to fight them off with his cudgel and struggled home to his wife. When he woke, Brother Anselme learned of the hardships endured by Constant and he wanted to reward him for his courage. Not having any cash, he chose to reveal to Constant the secret of the cheese made by the monks of the Abbey of Chézery. This sweet cheese is made from raw milk from Montbéliarde cows grazing in the mountains of the Jura and it's said the mould of the mountain grass and flowers pass into their milk, where it flourishes. The word Gex is stamped on the surface of the crust, which often has tiny holes in it. Today, spores of the blue mould Penicillium glaucum are introduced into the milk. During maturation, air is inserted with a syringe into the cheese to allow the mould to grow internally. That's where the tiny holes come from. The rind is covered with a layer of white powder-like mould that should be wiped off before eating. The inside is smooth white, marbled and is characterised by its nutty taste. Locally, this cheese is often eaten with boiled potatoes, but a tasty recipe to try is Bleu Fondue à la Poêle. Simply cut the cheese into slices and melt them slowly in a frying pan. The slices make an excellent topping for chicken breasts or are just as yummy spread on slices of country bread and accompanied by a glass of local wine.

From running bombs to running gîtes!


ou know how it is. You meet someone for the first time and think to yourself ‘I’m sure I’ve seen him somewhere before. Down the pub? In the supermarket? On the telly, perhaps?’ If it’s Paul Tadman you meet, here’s a sure-fire way to trigger your memory. Get him to don a baggy pair of trunks and perform a ‘bomb’ off a diving board and into a swimming pool!

Need another clue? Cast your mind back to 2001 and the award-winning John Smith’s bitter TV advert featuring comedian Peter Kaye. The idea was that Peter’s character would appear at a high-diving competition. Professional divers would be leaping about all over the place and then it was time for Peter to take to the board and win the competition – which he did with a ‘running bomb.’ “But it wasn’t Peter Kaye who jumped off the diving board,” says Paul. “It was me! I was his body double for the jump. It took us about 20 takes and Peter kept us laughing all the time we were doing it!”

Bleu du Haut-Jura

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

Fast-forward 17 years, to a mid-October evening in the Les Trois Fleurs restaurant in the heart of the Poitou-Charentes, where Paul Tadman and his wife Krysia are joined by 20 or so friends to help celebrate his

by Mick Austin

first birthday in France. One of their guest’s comments that the Tadmans had certainly made a lot of friends since they had arrived in France almost a year earlier.

Germany with The Nutty Boys promoting the Crunch! album. One highlight was being asked by legendary French promoter Bruno Coquatrix to play L’Olympia in Paris.

“It got me thinking about what a year it had been,” says Paul. “It was a complete change of life. We had been living in London – me as an actor and musician and Krysia as a solicitor – and now here we were running a gîte business in the Deux-Sèvres.

“I really thought we were on the way to hitting the big time. We did a press conference after the gig before being rushed across Paris to play a few numbers live at the première of the film The Doors. As all our gear was still being loaded at L’Olympia, some generous local bands lent us their equipment. But there was one problem: Lee Thompson had no stage costume.

Paul’s musical career had started in the late 1980s playing bass guitar with ska band The Riffs, who were part of the underground ska music revival of the time. They had recorded the album Who Wants It? for Kent music label Link Records and built up quite a following playing venues and festivals around the UK, as well as in Ireland, France and Spain. “It was a heady time, believing anything was possible as one does in one’s teenage years,” says Paul. “But the reality was spending hours that turned into days travelling up and down motorways, in the back of hired Transit vans, playing festivals and clubs while learning our trade – sometimes being well paid but more often than not for nothing. We were paying our dues and learning the ropes at the same time. With no internet or X-Factor to rely on, we used to hand out flyers in the street. For a while it worked. It was an exciting time. We all managed to get time off in between our day jobs as builders’ labourers – or, in my case, working in a post room for a local insurance company in south London – and often rushing straight back to work after a gig miles away.” One day, out of the blue, one of Paul’s music heroes, guitarist Chris Foreman from the chart-topping band Madness, called to say he and Madness saxophonist Lee Thompson had recorded an album called Crunch! under the artist name The Nutty Boys. “By chance, for me at least, they had secured a one-album deal with Link Records – the same label I was signed to – and they were going on tour to promote the album and I had been recommended as a bassist. Madness had split up in 1986 and the remaining members had formed The Madness before they parted company with Virgin Records. So Lee and Chris continued to write new material and formed another group. “I arrived at Chris’ house in north London expecting to see a huge queue of potential bassists lining the street. When I rang the bell and Chris answered, he looked up and down the street and said: ‘As it’s only you, you’d better come in!’” That was the start of two years touring the UK, Ireland, France and

“We hastily found a coffee table backstage. It had a glass top and was covered in some red check gingham material. We cut a hole in the material, removed the glass and Lee climbed inside. We stuck a load of polystyrene cups on the surface and he crouched inside the table on the stage. As the curtain went up, Lee burst out of the table and we stormed into the opening number. I don’t suppose many artists have tried that look before or since! “On another occasion our sound engineer took the tour bus for a midnight drive on an empty Normandy beach to look at the stars. We found out the next morning that the tide had come in and he had abandoned the bus. The local mussels farmer had to pull it out with his tractor – but only after he had watched us for an hour or so trying to dig the bus out by hand. Oh, and he also handed us a big bill.” Madness reformed in 1992 so, for the time being at least, it meant back to the day job for Paul. But a couple of years later he was asked to stand in on bass for a week’s worth of Madness rehearsals as their regular bassist was unavailable. “I was honoured to do it as I had always been a big fan of theirs but, crucially, it was a joy to do as they had become personal friends.” Paul took the chance to go back to college for a film foundation course, where he studied the rudiments of the film-making process. “As I had been in a couple of pop videos with the The Nutty Boys having recorded a couple of singles (It’s OK I’m a Policeman in 1992 and Magic Carpet in 1996) we made a pop video for our course project. “Jeff Baynes, who had filmed some of the Madness videos as well as ours, had heard I was on the course and offered me a work placement with him on a couple of Channel Four promo shoots, as well as an opening title sequence for a BBC comedy at BBC TV Centre in White City, west London. I was learning a lot about lighting as well as camera techniques, but the actor who was supposed to turn up for the shoot at the BBC couldn’t make it so

Opposite page: Proud new owners of Le Logis De Limalonges (top), and Paul as comedian Peter Kaye’s body double in the John Smith’s bitter TV advert (below). This page: Having just recorded with Rhoda Dakar and the gang at Paul Weller’s studio Surrey 2016. Right: “Our Wedding. The best day of my life” Paul says.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 25

...A look at what makes France so special Jeff asked if I would stand in. The TV pilot was a comedy supposed to be set in a café, so it was hand shots of a pair of hands washing up, drying plates, operating a cappuccino machine, that sort of thing. “Jeff said to me one day ‘You can take direction really well. Have you considered acting?’ “Of course I hadn’t. People like me didn’t do that sort of thing. How wrong I was.” Paul trained at the Actor’s Centre in London before being retained by an agent, where he was cast for several TV commercial roles and TV parts including a villain in The Bill, working briefly behind the counter of the chip shop in EastEnders, and playing a suspicious husband in a nightclub scene in the first series of the TV comedy The Office. That was to lead on to his ‘starring role’ in the John Smith’s commercial. He also took part in a series of Haven Holidays TV ads, where he played a haphazard TV dad who fell over on roller skates a few times. “But I can’t roller skate, I told the director at the casting. That’s the whole point, he said! “Musically, we (The Nutty Boys) had changed our name to Crunch! – as in the name of the album that had been recorded by Chris Foreman and Lee Thompson – as the name nutty boys was a nickname for Madness, which we were not, despite having two members from that group with us in Crunch! Confused yet? Well, we were for a while! We (Crunch!) still get together now and then and last played together at the Madness House of Fun Weekender at Butlins, in Minehead, in 2015.” Paul says its funny how such a random band reformation, no matter what they are called, can often lead on to other musical projects. “At the side of the stage at Minehead was Madness producer Clive Langer who, along with Alan Winstanley, had produced most of their albums in the 1980s. Clive had written the track Shipbuilding with Elvis Costello and had also worked with David Bowie on the film Absolute Beginners. “Clive was looking for a change from sitting behind a sound desk and wanted to record an album of his own and do a few shows. He asked me to join his new project, The Clang Group, where I found myself playing bass on the album Practice. Then, in 2016, I played bass as part of The Clang Group at the London O2, in front of 20,000 people. We were the support act for Madness and it was a gig I was more nervous about playing than I was when I’d previously played in front of 100,000 fans at the Reggae Sun Ska Festival in Bordeaux, where I was standing in (again) on bass.

“It was nice to have been asked, of course, but my legs did turn to jelly as we hit the stage!” But what of the move to France and setting up a gîte business? Surely there must have been some sort of momentous happening to make the pair give everything up and make a new life abroad? Well no, actually. It all stemmed from a comment made by Krysia while the pair were watching television. It was one wet January Sunday afternoon in London in 2015, remembers Paul. They were watching a re-run of one of those relocation TV programmes where a couple were finding it hard to choose between north Wales or south-west France and they finally chose Wales. “I’d rather live in France,” said Krysia. “Neither of us had ever discussed the subject before,” says Paul. “She told me she’d wanted to live in France from her early 20s. I had always loved the place since I’d first visited in my mid-teens on two French exchanges to the Loire Valley.” The couple had got to the stage where they no longer wanted to live in London. They were in their late 40s/early 50s and the hustle and bustle of the capital was losing its appeal. Krysia had been a litigation and divorce solicitor for 35 years and although she had loved her job, running her business had become increasingly more demanding and she was thinking about retirement. “On that Sunday afternoon in 2015 we had one of those ‘Damascene’ moments,” says Paul. “That started us searching for properties in northern France, through Normandy and Brittany, before we came to Poitou-Charentes. We knew we wanted to semi-retire and decided running gîtes would be perfect for us. We both love meeting new people and hosting events, so it seemed a natural next step. Although Brexit became part of the overall consideration, it didn’t change our minds in any way in wanting to be part of Europe, especially France.” It took the couple two and a half years to find the place they wanted. “We had very specific criteria,” says Krysia. “We wanted to be in a village with a restaurant and bar, two to three gîtes, an in-ground pool and between one and two acres of land. The house also had to be ‘right.’ Several agents told us we’d never find a property with all those requirements within our budget, but we did. “It’s in Limalonges, in the Deux-Sèvres, and is a charming 18th century maison de maître with several beautiful original features. It needed very little work and had two self-catering gîtes – one for four to six people and the other for six to eight – that were already up and running with a third needing work, making it a perfect project for us. We found the whole process relatively stress-free and simple compared to selling in England.”

Left: Paul with The Clang Group in Liverpool 2016. Centre: The Nutty Boys, German tour 1991. Right: Rhoda Dakar and Paul playing live.

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

On this month December 25, 1822: French chemist-bacteriologist Louis Pasteur is born in Dole, France. He went on to develop the pasteurisation process to kill harmful bacteria with heat and also found ways of preventing silkworm disease, anthrax, chicken cholera and rabies.

Le Logis De Limalonges. Paul and Krysias’ house in the centre, with the two gîtes adjoined either side.

After selling Krysia’s business and their house in London, the Tadmans settled in Limalonges in January 2018 and started their first gîte season ( three months later. They’ve had French, Dutch, Spanish and English guests staying and are already taking bookings for 2019. They are starting work on the third gîte, which will sleep two to four people, and are also upgrading the other two gîtes and the garden. They’ve also found time to remodel the kitchen in their own home. “At first we thought Limalonges was a quiet, sleepy commune, but far from it,” says Krysia. “There’s usually something going on and we try to make as many of the events as we can in between our bookings. There’s a monthly quiz at the salle des fêtes and our local bar, Chez Bebert, often hosts theme events. Earlier this year we were delighted to attend our first méchoui and chasse supper. “The French we’ve met have been so welcoming, friendly and helpful, although our French is nowhere near perfect. But we did receive a compliment from our wood delivery guy who noticed how much our spoken French had improved since we took delivery of our first load of firewood the year before.” Paul may well now have hung up his baggy swimming trunks and perhaps perfected a more leisurely entry to his swimming pool than the running bomb, but he’s still more than active with his musical work. In early December he was due back in London for a gig at the 100 Club, in Oxford Street, to launch the new Rhoda Dakar EP, The LoTek Four Vol 2, recorded at multi-award winning artist Paul Weller’s Surrey studios in 2017.

December 23, 1952: French biologist, physician and politician Alain Bombard arrives in Barbados after 65 days at sea in a small rubber lifeboat. He survived on drinking limited quantities of seawater and fluids pressed from raw fish, and eating fish and plankton to prove it was possible a shipwrecked person could survive with almost no provisions. He lost 25kg (65lbs) in weight in the process. He had become interested in survival techniques the year before, when he was rescued during an unsuccessful attempt to swim the English Channel. He and a friend made do with half a kilo of butter for five days! December 24, 1986: French hostage Aurel Cornea is freed unharmed in Beirut, Lebanon, by his Moslem extremist captors. He had been held for 292 days by the Revolutionary Justice Organisation. Cornea was dropped off ‘looking weak and haggard’ by gunmen in west Beirut. He approached two militia men guarding a nearby building and asked them for directions to a hotel where French Embassy officials were waiting. French Prime Minister, Jacques Chirac, thanked those who helped in Cornea’s release ‘which takes on a special value on this Christmas Eve.’ December 7, 2017: More than 7,000 complete strangers from around the world save a crumbling French château in PoitouCharentes from ruin or being razed to the ground by developers. A crowdfunding appeal raises 500,000€ in just 40 days to buy the 13th century Château La Mothe-Chandeniers, in Les TroisMoutiers. The thousands of joint owners paid a minimum of 50€ each, hoping to restore the building to at least some of its former glory and then open it to the public.

“Rhoda was formerly the singer of the ska band The Bodysnatchers, who had been on the Two-Tone record label in the early 1980s at the same time as The Specials and Madness. She wanted to record some new material and I had been recommended for bass-playing duty. The title, LoTek, is defined as somewhere between hi-fidelity and acoustic music. For example, we recorded as near and as true to a live studio setup – in one take!” All a long way from the peace and quiet of Limalonges, but there are no regrets from the Tadmans. “We feel so very happy living here, feeling very much part of the community,” says Paul. “We certainly made the right decision that rainy Sunday back in 2015.” To paraphrase the lyrics of that 1992 Madness hit: ‘It must be love, love love. Nothing more nothing less...’

© Wikimedia Commons/Maixentais

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, December 2018 | 27

Communications Is internet banking safe?


am often surprised that more people do not use ‘online’ or ‘internet’ banking facilities. These services have been around for many years now and are quite intuitive to use and in some cases the norm for busy people doing their personal banking. In my opinion they are very safe and possibly safer than some of our traditional banking methods. I have used online banking for at least 12 years now and have never had either a security or access problem. In that time the service has just got better and better with the ability to set-up direct payments to both UK and international accounts. From my French account international payments that arrive in less than 24 hours and within the country usually less than three. I am able to view my balance and shuffle money between accounts, communicate securely with my account manager and view and print out statements and RIBs. My new mobile telephone app, created by my UK bank, will permit me to bank a UK cheque simply using the camera on the telephone. Photograph both sides of the cheque to be deposited, and the credit is available in less than 48 hours. Here are some tips for using online banking safely: Using a PC or laptop - The PC or laptop’s operating system (Windows for example) should be up to date, as should your antivirus program before you consider online banking. Some banks insist on you downloading security software to use their online banking such as Rapport. If this software is available and is recommended/required by the bank then follow their instructions and download, and use it. Mobile smartphones or tablets - Most Banks have their own app for online banking for the Android and iOS phones and tablets. Use these and they are usually very secure compared to using an internet browser, once again make sure your device’s operating system and antivirus program is up to date. Where you connect to the internet is important - Your home internet connection is best, using your own PC, smartphone or tablet.

If you are out and about and you use your mobile telephone, tablet or laptop via the mobile telephone internet service or other WiFi you are quite safe if you know the network is secure and using WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access). WPA is an improved data encryption standard. It was first introduced with the 802.11i wireless standard in 2003 that helps reduce the security vulnerabilities in WEP (Wired Equivalent Privacy). For wireless computer networks, WPA2 provides security and encryption for data transmissions and general computer connectivity. It is a safer replacement for the original WPA. WPA2 was made available in 2004 and all network devices from 2006 onwards are required to be WPA2 certified. Devices prior to 2006 may or may not be compatible with WPA2. Using another person’s device or computer - It is best to avoid using a friend’s, work or internet café’s PC or laptop. You do not know if

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

by Ross Hendry

the device has malware in the form of keyloggers (keyloggers record your typed responses to questions on a website/page and so could record your passwords/account numbers and or other important ID information). Your friend etc. may not be aware that the keylogger or other malware exists. The same applies to free WiFi connections at public places. These are public networks and you don’t know who is monitoring the traffic. Understand that when using a wireless network all information being sent to and from your computer to the wireless router can be intercepted and read by someone nearby. Enter the bank’s website address manually - Many hackers get into bank accounts having tricked the user into thinking that they are logging into their account, when they are not. This technique, known as phishing, is often achieved by an email, that will inform you that you need to change your online information, verify a purchase or something else that would prompt you to log on to your account via a link in the email. The link of course points to a fake page that records your logon information. Never click a link to the bank’s site, type it yourself, or use a favourite or bookmark link you have created yourself. Use a secure website - Check that you are using a secure website by ensuring that the address is preceded by a locked padlock symbol on the address bar. The address should start https://, NOT http://. Without the https:// the data you enter could be seen and copied. If the site you go to does not have https:// or the padlock, do not enter your ID or password or any other data. Never send logon information via email - No legitimate bank will ever request that you send personal information via email. Never send your username, password or PIN, account information, credit card, etc. via email. Your email may be unencrypted and could be seen and captured. Use a strong password - Make sure that the password you use is a strong one. The best password is a long one containing five random words and the required numbers and or special characters or capital letters. You can test your password for strength on this website: The longer it takes to crack the better. Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 43 years experience in communications, computer technology and direct marketing. (see advert below).

Useful English Language Numbers... Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres

05 49 64 59 96

French State health insurance advice line

08 11 36 36 46

Elizabeth Finn Care (Grants and advice if in Financial need)

04 68 23 43 79

Orange helpline

09 69 36 39 00

EDF International Customer Service

05 62 16 49 08

CLEISS (Social security advice between countries)

01 45 26 33 41

Funeral Information (AFIF)

01 45 44 90 03 or

Passport Advice

0044 300 222 0000 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 29


Food & Drink Sustenance For Santa

ère Noël, Papai Noel, Babbo Natale, Dun Che Lao Ren, Joulupukki, Santa Claus, Father Christmas...however you know him, this time of year he’s a very busy man. So, for this month’s culinary offering we thought we’d come up with some alternative Christmas fare to the usual mince pies...and not forgetting the reindeer.

Pistachio and Cranberry Chocs

Marshmallow Snowmen

Ingredients: 200g white chocolate 75g shelled pistachios 50g dried cranberries 50g milk or dark chocolate

Ingredients (makes 12): 36 large marshmallows 12 long wooden skewers 12 pretzel sticks 1 melted chocolate square for decoration. Icing sugar to use as glue. Any appropriate variety of sweets to represent the snowman’s scarf, hat and carrot nose.

Method: Place the white chocolate pieces in a bain marie or microwave and melt. Line a 13cm x 23cm loaf tin with cling film. Stir pistachios and cranberries into melted chocolate and then pour into the lined tin. When this has almost set, melt the dark chocolate and pour over the top. Allow to cool and store in fridge. Cut into cubes just before serving.

Stained Glass Ginger Biscuits Ingredients (makes 10-12): 350g plain flour 1 pinch of salt 2tsp baking powder 2tsp ground ginger 100g butter 100g brown sugar 1 egg 4 tbsp golden syrup or treacle 10-12 boiled sweets (assorted colours). Icing for decoration. Method: Preheat the oven to 190°C, line two baking trays with baking paper and set aside. Sift together the flour, baking powder, ginger and salt in a bowl. Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the brown sugar. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the beaten egg and golden syrup. Mix well until a soft dough forms. With a little flour knead the dough until smooth and roll out to about ½cm thick. Use cookie cutters to cut out the desired shapes, and use mini cutters to cut out the middle. With a skewer make a small hole in the top of the biscuit if you wish to hang on the tree. Transfer the biscuits to the baking trays. Place a boiled sweet in the centre hole and bake for 8-10 minutes or until the biscuits are light brown and the sweet has melted. Allow to cool. Decorate with icing sugar and allow to set. Great to hang on the Christmas tree, but not too low or the dog will have them!

Method: Thread a long skewer through three marshmallows. Push a skewer through the middle marshmallow, so that you can thread a pretzel through for his arms. Wrap his scarf around his neck using a dab of icing sugar to keep it in position. Cut a gummy orange slice into small triangles and glue each triangle into the middle of the snowman’s head as a nose. Melt the chocolate in a separate bowl and dip the end of a skewer to dab small dots for eyes, mouth and buttons. Add a dab of chocolate on the bottom of each hat, and press them onto the top of the marshmallow snowmen. Once the hat is firmly in place, your snowmen are ready to serve to Santa!

Whisky Galore Truffles Ingredients: 400g dark chocolate 400ml double cream 2 tbsp whisky Cocoa powder for dusting

Method: Bring cream to the boil and pour over broken chocolate in a bowl. Stir until completely melted. Add the whisky and stir. Pour into 13cm x 23cm tin which has been lined with cling film. Once cool, refrigerate. When set, cut into squares (2-3cm) and dust with cocoa to serve. Store in the fridge.

Carrot Ingredients: 1 carrot Method: Leave by fireplace for reindeer

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

Rouss- who?


ow you don’t think I’m going to tell you just like that, do you? Come on, we both know the rules. Draw it out. Tease. Did Moriarty and Holmes really fall to their death at the Reichenbach Falls? Who killed J.R.? One thing I will say is that this is not a gruesome fantasy. OK, it might turn out to be a fantasy, or fantastical, only time will tell, but it’s the opposite of gruesome. Handsome maybe?

It all starts a long time ago when the viognier (vee-on-yay) grape was a common crop south of Lyons, where it had been grown on the infertile and severe terraces of the Northern Rhone for centuries. It was a low producer and came down with powdery mildew like a prima donna with the vapours but hey, it was good enough for our forefathers, so just continue. Anyway, grubbing up and replanting with something else would be a pain in the ass, back and wallet. And so the generations grumbled on. Then towards the end of the 19th century came phylloxera (the bug that almost destroyed all French vineyards), followed by WWI, followed by depression, followed by WWII etc etc, so that by the 1950s there was almost no viognier left. Time to introduce our hero. It’s 1953 and a 27 year-old Georges Vernay takes control of his family holding of 1.5 hectares in Condrieu on the dramatic slopes of the Northern Rhône. He replants. He waits. He’s a simple man: time and the Rhône flow by, and this is not such a bad place. He has a couple of sons and a daughter, Christine. Fast forward. Perseverance and bloody-mindedness pay off. By the mid-80s there’s 20 hectares of viognier in Condrieu, by the early 90s Rhône wines have become à la mode, and today there are over 5,000 hectares of viognier in southern France (including, of course, in its birthplace, the northern Rhône, but also notably in Languedoc). Thanks to Georges’ influence, viognier is now planted in Australia, America (North and South), and South Africa. Without speaking a word of English, he has turned 1.5 hectares into an internationally recognised and respected grape variety. Christine carries on his work with great effect and finesse, not to mention the familial obstinacy. What of the grape itself? It produces a white wine of great quality and unctuousness, perfumed with notes of violet, mango and apricot, but with a zing of acidity. Matches well with river fish, prawns, langoustine, scallops, white meat, goats cheese and asparagus. Also give it a whirl with Thai, Vietnamese or Japanese cuisine.

by John Sherwin

So why am I telling you this, and who is Rouss anyway? Consider the possibility that what goes around really can come around. Consider the possibility that there is another grape variety that had almost disappeared by the 1950s, a low producer prone to disease, native to the Rhône, which can produce a white wine full in the mouth with notes of flowers and exotic fruits. Does this start to sound familiar? OK, waiting over, and drum roll please for … roussanne. The name is probably due to the russet, or roux, colour of its skin. It has long played second fiddle to another white grape, marsanne, with which it was (and still is) blended. Roussanne and marsanne are also allowed to be blended with the red wines from the Rhône regions of Hermitage, Croze-Hermitages and St Joseph. Just like a proportion of viognier is allowed to be blended with syrah in the Côte-Rôtie region of the northern Rhône… Hmm. Spooky.

You see where I’m going with this? What if roussanne is the next Big Thing? But where’s our Georges? Well, a certain Pierre Perrin planted 1.2 hectares of roussanne back in 1909. This has been extended by his family to three hectares which produces a mere 500 cases of 100% roussanne. But the current Perrin family are big movers and shakers in the Rhône, particularly around Châteauneuf-du-Pape where they own Château Beaucastel and make rosé at Château Miraval for Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie (tho’ what’s happening to that venture I don’t know – do I look like a Hollywood newshound?). Point is, they have many irons in the fire and roussanne is but a teensy one. No, I’m for looking further afield, to the Alpine slopes of Savoie. There we find the little known appellation of Chignin-Bergeron where the only sanctioned grape is… roussanne. OK, they only have around 100 hectares in production, but that’s a better start than Georges ever had. And the Savoie version of the Vernay family might just be the Quénards. Jean-François Quénard makes 8,000 bottles a year, André and Michel Quénard 25,000. This might go somewhere, it might not. Who knows? That’s the beauty of a whodunit, or a what-happens-next. Before I sign off, could you help me out? My website designer keeps nagging me to ‘increase my Facebook presence’ or words to that effect. If you are on Facebook, please go to and ‘like’ me. It would make she-who-must-be-obeyed (said designer) and an old man (me) very happy. I wish you all the best of Christmases.

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 31

Winter Soups


by Jacqueline Brown

he autumnal colours this year seemed to be more vibrant than I had remembered them, no doubt enhanced by the blue sky and sunshine we were lucky to have these last few weeks. They certainly helped to lift my mood, that always dips when the season changes, and this year more so as I’ve recently lost a good friend. Sadly, I now have first-hand experience of the cultural differences in terms of funerals between us and our French neighbours; and that was a learning experience I’ll never forget. While we rushed around in a mini panic trying to organise a funeral in only five days, my French friends couldn’t believe we had to wait so long. Speed seems to be of the essence in France and it was also a surprise to have the scattering of the ashes on the same day as the cremation. I’m sure our French friends weren’t expecting (or will ever forget) the raucous karaoke send-off we gave our friend that evening either. While this may not have been a traditional British wake, for a previous owner of the village bar and someone who was always the life and soul of a party, it was most definitely a fitting tribute. Now the season has changed, my soup pot is already in regular use. Fresh winter vegetables, frozen summer ones, homemade pork or chicken bone stock, warming curry spices; no two batches are the same flavour, but every bowl helps to keep me warm, and hopefully fit and healthy over winter. This is certainly not my favourite time of year, but a homemade soup, topped with grated cheese and freshly chopped parsley, served with fresh bread from the boulangerie, goes some way to cheering me up.

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

In other news, Ed is doing great in Poitiers and I’ve also enjoyed a few weekend trips up there, where meals out with him, as well as shopping, have been the highlights. I have had a few phone calls and texts along the lines of “how long do you cook rice for?” and “how long do sausages take in the oven?” but I’ve also been sent some tasty looking pictures of his homemade creations, so I’m finally reassured he’s not going to starve anytime soon and let’s face it, if he can survive that first term, I guess he’s got it. Even hubby Adrian has taken to trying his best in the kitchen, although obviously not my kitchen, as that is and always will be my domain. He now tries to book apartment hotels for work in the UK which give him access to a small kitchen area with fridge (not too dissimilar to Ed’s) so he can be a bit more self-sufficient. One too many supermarket pasties at lunchtime and pubgrub evening meals is starting to take its toll, but the simple changes of making his own healthier lunches and evening meals, will hopefully start to make a difference. I always have a fresh batch of soup ready to welcome him (and Ed) home with. Email:

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across: 1. On a ship, plane, train or other vehicle (6) 4. Be a hindrance or obstacle (6) 8. Partially melted snow (5) 9. Come into possession of (7) 10. Type of edible nut (5) 11. Evident; easily seen, recognised or understood (7) 12. A state of misfortune; a calamitous event (9) 15. Undying; everlasting (7) 16. Come to blows (5) 17. Someone who denies the existence of god (7) 18. A warning signal that is a loud wailing sound (5) 19. Very hot pepper (6) 20. Reflect deeply on a subject (6)

Down: 2. A vague idea in which some confidence is placed (6) 3. Scottish inventor of the telephone (9-4) 5. A specialist in the care of babies (13) 6. Eat greedily (6) 7. Specially hardened steel used to protect vehicles from enemy fire (6-5) 13. Fasten by sewing (6) 14. Food prepared from the pressed curd of milk (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

Brain Gym Q1. Q2. Q3. Q4. Q5.

I’m often running yet I have no legs. You need me but I don’t need you. What am I? I am a seed with three letters in my name. Take away the last two and I still sound the same. What am I? A turkey was given 9€, a spider was given 36€, a bee was given 27€. Based on this information, how much money would be given to a cat? If 9999 = 4, 8888 = 8, 1816 = 6, 1212 = 0, then 1919 = If Noah had 100 pairs of animals in his zoo and if two pairs of babies are born for each and every one of the original animals, and then sadly 23 animals don’t survive, how many animals does he have left in total?

Q6. Q7.

Down 1. Go to pieces after credit given to holy man dropping out of trip? (7) 2. Never stopped making illegal hooch? (5) 3. Coughs when covered in downtown smog. (4) 4. Taking time out from mix-up of formal address? (3) 5. Defence foremost for latest EU position being discussed? (8) 6. Article lifted from those sleeping in beds outside. (7) 7. This is about coming off locks and not profiting as a result. (5) 12. Those leading really heavy yaks may easily sound similar at the end of lines. (5) 13. As an afterthought, last of many baby birds losing weight may have second sight? (8) 15. BT exchange organised labelling after packing. (7) 18. Spot workers being first of wealthy tribal leaders? (7) 19. Many voted for this, thinking it meant more annual holiday? (5) 21. Manage to sidestep first lady covering publicity? (5) 22. Get attention of one out of step? (4) 24. Possibly the first for many a year, and the last from a lady! (3)

Jean-Paul has 28.75€. He purchased three croissants that cost 1.50€ each, five newspapers that each cost 0.50€, five flowers for 1.25€ each, and used the remainder of the cash on a pair of sunglasses. How much were the sunglasses? Can you work out the well known phrases or sayings from the visual clues? a. b.


ci ii

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 33

Answers on P.17 and our website:

Theme - Brexit Across 1. Copper on the street instigator of many sinister practices. (7) 5. Ringer interrupted when following graduate in the tower. (5) 8. OU exchange bringing blissful ending to tear-jerker? (5) 9. Writes about umbilicals, for example? (7) 10. Look back in Anger is available in village library. (4) 11. Less reshuffling after sweeper loses heart in European capital? (8) 14. Thief-taker imprisoning young amphibian type. (3) 16. French writer with panache giving up drug to find love. (5) 17. Repair making last items of clothes like new. (3) 19. Tells tales about overturned cage; these are what’s left. (8) 20. Kent town one of the closest to With thanks to M.Morris European agreement? (4) 23. Article I am putting to one NCO is about believing everything has got soul. (7) 25. Topsy-turvy skill of French commerce. (5) 26. Outlines of initial European deal getting ever sillier! (5) 27. Perhaps coming after new surprise balls being delivered? (7)

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Saint-André-sur-Sèvre

by Sue Burgess


aint-André-sur-Sèvre is situated in the north-west of the DeuxSèvres, close to the Vendée. The area of the commune extends over 1,985 hectares. The neighbouring communes in the DeuxSèvres, are Montravers, Cerizay and La Forêt-sur-Sèvres. Over in the Vendée the nearest communes are Saint-Mesmin, Montournais and Menomblet. On 1st January 2018 Saint-André-sur-Sèvre had 656 inhabitants known as the Saint Andrésiens. In 1179, the names of the churches of Saint-André-sur-Sèvre and Saint-Mesmin-le-Vieux appeared on a list of 127 churches sent to the Abbey of Saint Jouin de Marnes in the diocese of Poitiers. The conflict between the Plantagenets and the Capétiens, opposing the English and the French during the Hundred Years’ War, affected Poitou, Normandy and Aquitaine. During the revolution in 1793 the Colonnes Infernales passed through Saint-Mesmin. A message from Parthenay announced that the enemy, the republicans (nick-named les bleus), should target La Châtaigneraie. The revolutionary army had taken Réaumur, Montournay, Mouilleron, Chavaigne, Tillais and Saint-Mesmin. In January 1794, a group of the Colonnes Infernales set fire to the Château de Saint-Mesmin under the orders of Brisset. On the 20th February 1796, a combat between the republican army and the Vendéens took place at the château in Saint-Mesmin. About 40 Vendéens led by Louis Péault, the sergeant and gamekeeper of the Marquis of Saint-Mesmin, attacked a republican group of 250 men under the command of adjudant general Cortez. Cortez tried to surround the Vendéens who retreated towards the Château de Saint-Mesmin and they shut themselves inside.

From 21st to 24th February, the assaults of the republican troops were without effect. But because of lack of food, the Vendéens decided to surrender. They were promised that their lives would be spared. The 40 Vendéens were taken to La Châtaigneraie where the commander in chief ordered a military court to judge them and execute them. Luckily, General Hoche ordered that the clauses of the surrender be respected and the Vendéens were taken to Fonteny-le-Comte and then to Noirmoutier where they remained until the end of the war.

• • • • • • •

• • •

On 19th July 1367, a royal ordonnance prescribed a nationalisation of fortified buildings. Châteaux had to be modified so that they could survive a seige, and collect supplies of food and amunitions. And all at the owners expense. It is said that Pierre De Montfaucon carried out major works to fortify the Château de Saint-Mesmin, between 1372 and 1375. In 1513, Louise de Montfaucon, the daughter of Jacques De Montfaucon and Marie de Feschal, married Charles Du Plessis de la Bourgognière. In 1548, on the death of Louise, the De Montfaucon family were no longer the owners of the château at Saint-Mesmin which passed into the hands of Jean du Plessis. Through marriage, the de Vaudrey de Saint-Phal family became owners and it was in the hands of the family until 1650. On 7th March 1650, Gilbert Petit, knight and counsellor of the king, acquired the land of Saint-Mesmin from Georges de Vaudrey de Saint-Phal. Hardy Petit de la Guierche is without doubt behind the marquisate of the château in 1705. On 26th February 1798 the château was sold as property of the state to Pierre Ters, who lived in Paris. In 1818 the sale of the land of Saint-Mesmin, to Paul-François and Théodore-Bara Proust, was signed in Paris. These two brothers from Niort bought the land and La Guierche for 300 000 francs. During WWI, the château was a convalescent hospital for sick and injured soldiers. The creation of the Association du Château de Saint-Mesmin contributed to the renaissance of the building. It was opened to the public for the first time in 1992. In 2003, the château became the property of the Syndicat mixte du Château de Saint-Mesmin including the Deux-Sèvres Council and the Vendée Council, the communauté d’agglomération du Bocage Bressuirais and la communauté de communes du Pays de Pouzauges. The restoration of the château has continued.

Le Jardin du Cloître Created in 2010, the garden has over a hundred species of local flowers. The Church This Romanesque building, rebuilt and enlarged in the 15th century, was restored in the 19th century. Tombstones adorned with coats of arms, dating from the 17th century, decorate the pavement of the church. The choir and the bell tower are listed historical monuments. During the Vendée wars, the church bells were first hidden in the river Sèvre at the place now called la fosse aux cloches and later they were hidden in a wash house from where they disappeared in 1793. Château de Saint-Mesmin castle . Photo S Burgess

A VOIR / MUST SEE Château de Saint-Mesmin Situated on the commune of Saint-André-sur-Sèvre, is an ancient medieval fortress (13th century), with a 28m high keep built in the 15th century. The château is open to the public in the summer and different activities are organised. The château has the name of a commune in the Vendée which is situated less than two kilometers away. After many years of degradation, it has been restored and is at present the property of a syndicat mixte regrouping the departments of the Vendée and the Deux-Sèvres.

The Sevreau, a tributary of the Sèvre Nantaise river, is the stream which runs at the foot of the château. Its spring is in the Vendée between Pouzauges and Montournais, at Plessis Foubert, and it marks the boundary between the two departments, and between two regions, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Pays de la Loire. Historical timeline: • In 1026 the De Montfaucon family is mentioned for the first time as the lords of Saint-Mesmin. • In a document dating from the mid 14th century we read that the château belonging to Jehan de Montfaucon is in good condition and fortified.

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month... 34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 35

Building & Renovation



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

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Business & Finance Marketing Matters

by Cindy Mobey

People – this refers to your employees, including yourself! Do you create the right impression and provide excellent customer service, so your customers have a good customer experience? I’m sure you do, but never forget to keep learning, training yourself and any employees to develop relevant skills to deliver your brand and excellent customer service.

Process – this includes the processes involved in delivering your products to your customers. Are you easy to do business with? Is it easy for customers to find your products? If you have a website, is it easy to navigate? Are your contact details prominent, so you are easy to contact?

Physical – everything your customers see and feel when interacting with your business. This can be from the physical environment of your shops, office or wherever you provide and showcase your products or services. It includes your packaging and your branding. It can also refer to how you act and relate to your customers.

Pulling together your

marketing strategy for 2019


ecember….already! This year seems to have flown by for me and, with three grandchildren, my thoughts are about spending time with them before Christmas. But I’m aware that, even though Christmas is looming, I still need to focus on my business for next year and what direction I want to take and what I want to achieve. A mission statement is a good idea. A simple statement that includes what your business is, who you’re selling to (your target market), what you’re selling and what makes you stand out from the crowd. Once you have this, a great way to drill that down a bit more to get your business strategy is the seven Ps, and it will help you decide how you will market your business in 2019: •

Product(s) – what is it about your product that makes your customers want to buy it? Do you need to change your products in any way to meet your customers’ needs?

Pricing – how do you aim to compete with your competitor’s pricing? Do you want to match it, undercut them, or do you want to charge more for a higher quality product and service?

Place – where and how are you going to sell your products? Do you sell them yourself or outsource them to retail outlets?

Promotion – how are you going to let your existing and potential customers know about your products? This includes thinking about advertising, PR, direct mail and personal selling.

Now you can plan the future of your business. What objectives do you want to achieve? Each objective should include a description of what you intend to achieve and should include numbers to aim for. For example you might want to sell more of a particular product, but just saying you want to sell more isn’t enough – you need to be precise, so you have something concrete to aim for, maybe sell 40% more of that product over the next 12 months. This gives you a solid objective. Pull together a timeline of your objectives – what you want to achieve and by when. This makes it easier for you to review at a later date. With this all in place, you will be starting the New Year with a plan, business goals and how you’re going to achieve them. Good luck and have a very Happy Christmas and New Year!

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


Simply register on our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 41

How to Access the French Healthcare System and Why You Must have a top-up Health Insurance by Isabelle Want Parts 1 and 2


etting onto the French health system can be a bit complicated and stressful but so important. I have met some of you that are still not affiliated to the French health system and think an EHIC card is sufficient but the EHIC card is for holidays, not if you are a permanent resident in France. Although not easy, the process is worth it as the French health system is one of the best in the world. So here is how to do it: HOW TO GET INTO THE FRENCH HEALTH SYSTEM The French health system is composed of three entities: CPAM (employees or pensioners), RSI (self-employed) or MSA (agricultural jobs). There are three ways to access the French health system: via the S1, via working in France, or by simply living in France permanently. a. You are in receipt of a state pension: You can phone Newcastle (Department for Health and Pensions) and ask for an S1 form which automatically entitles you to be on the French health system. Once received, take it to your local CPAM office, together with your birth and marriage certificates, copy of passport, proof of residency (recent utility bill, copy of rental agreement or deeds of the house) and a RIB (French bank details). CPAM, which stands for Caisse Primaire d’Assurance Maladie (is the equivalent to the NHS), will ask you to fill in a form. You will get a letter from them one month later with your social security number which means you are on the system. Your carte vitale comes another month after that. b. Your spouse is still working in the UK: You need to phone Newcastle and ask for an S1 for you (that your spouse can collect as he or she works in the UK) and you will be covered by the French health system under the S1 of your spouse. c. You are working in France: Employees have nothing to do and will be on the system automatically. Your employer and URSSAF (institution that deals with stamps for employees) will do everything for you. If you are self-employed it will be automatic as well. You will be under the RSI or MSA system and you will be asked to choose an institution to deal with your health (RAM, Radiance, URMPI, etc). One month after that you get your social security number and another month later your carte vitale (like a credit card but for health cover). d. You are early retirees: You can apply to be on the French health system once you have been in France for three months. Make your application at the main CPAM office, you need to complete the application Form 735 Demande d’affiliation au régime général sur critère de résidence and Form 710 Questionnaire ‘recherche de droits’ Ressortissants Européens Inactifs. Print them off, complete them, and include all the necessary documentation (copy of passport, birth and marriage certificates, proof of address and residency for at least three months, RIB etc.) the more the better! You will be required to provide information on your income/resources and will be charged a contribution for your affiliation (same as if you were working). You also need a letter from Newcastle stating that you are not entitled to an S1. Your application will be transferred to a CPAM office in NIMES but still has to go through your local office. Be aware that some of the civil servants of CPAM are not always aware that you are entitled to apply. You must insist nicely, and point out that you are making your application on the following legal basis: i. You are an EU national and are a permanent resident as a matter of fact in France. You should refer to Article 1(j) of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 that defines ‘residence’ as a place where a person resides.

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

ii. Article 4 of the Regulation also guarantees equality of treatment, stating: Unless otherwise provided for by this Regulation, persons to whom this Regulation applies shall enjoy the same benefits and be subject to the same obligations under the legislation of any Member State as the nationals thereof. iii. You benefit from the guarantee of equal treatment in Article 4 of Regulation (EU) No 883/2004, which means you should be admitted to the health system on the same terms as French nationals. iv. It is discrimination to require you to be resident in France for five years before you can access the health system, or to require you to have private health insurance. These obligations are not applied to French nationals and are therefore discriminatory. Usually, if you go to the main office of your department, they know the law. Note that this process takes ages (more than three months) and you may feel that you want to give up, but don’t as everybody I know who has applied has been accepted. Make sure you take note of dates and people you meet, keep copies of everything you give them and ask them to sign a receipt to keep a trace of the document given to them (otherwise they will ask twice for some of them). Note that if your income (private pension, rental income, interest on savings etc.) is above 9 933€ per year, you will be asked to contribute 8% on what is above 9 933€. e. You are living in France but working for a UK company: You will be on the French health system but your company will have to register with CLEISS (Centre des Liasons Europeenes et Internationnales de Sécurité Sociale) so that they will pay your social charges into the French system and not the UK one. To do this, write to CLEISS, 11 rue de la Tour des Dames 75436 Paris cedex 9. Yes, I can hear you say “But Brexit?”. Non-Europeans are entitled to be on the French health system as long as they have authorization to stay in France. (If you have a visa or carte de sejour, the forms are simpler). Plus, as nobody knows what will happen with Brexit, don’t panic yet! HOW DOES THE FRENCH HEALTH SYSTEM WORK? The French health system only pays an average of 70% of the cost of your medical expenses (e.g. visit to GP 70%, medicine 65%, hospital 80%). To see the complete listing go to (CPAM web site). If you are affected by a long-term illness (or life threatening condition) the French health system covers you 100%. You can find a list of those conditions on the above website. Please note that the 100% cover is only applicable for the treatment related to that illness or condition. Unfortunately, the forfait journalier (hospital food) which is around 20€ per day is never paid by the French health system (you need top-up insurance to cover that). Finally, 100% does not mean much because it is 100% of the price set by the French health system. Unfortunately, consultants, surgeons and private hospitals etc. are allowed to apply a surcharge (and most do). Example: The French health system’s set price for a hip replacement is 1 000€ (not the actual figure, just an example), then you only get reimbursed 800€ (80%) but perhaps 1 000€ is not enough for this particular consultant, so he can charge 3 000€. Therefore, you would be 2 200€ (instead of just 200€) out of pocket!

WHY YOU MUST HAVE A TOP-UP HEALTH INSURANCE That example is why people take out a top-up health insurance. If you have an accident and have to call an ambulance, you will have to pay 30% of the cost (1 400€ by road, around 4 000€ for air lift). So, you should at least have what we call the ‘hospital cover topup’ which covers ambulances and any hospitalisation. It would cost half the price of the full top-up which covers GPs, medicines etc. With the normal top-up insurance, you will find different cover from 100% to 400% or even Frais Reel (whatever it costs). Be aware that your insurance will never pay you more than what you actually paid. If you are covered 400% and were only surcharged 250%, you will not get extra money. This insurance can include other benefits such as a private room, TV, help with cleaning or looking after your animals etc. in the case of hospitalisation. There is no health questionnaire to take out this insurance and you can change insurers once a year on the anniversary date of your contract (two months before the renewal date or within 20 days from receiving your renewal notice). Your top-up is automatically linked to your carte vitale number so when the French health system reimburses you the insurers are informed and top it up automatically. For certain things (like hospitalisation and medicine), the French health system and the top-up pay for you in advance. ALLIANZ COMPOSIO Most top-up health insurance offer cover based on levels (level 1 to 6 for example) which means that if you want the best hospital cover, you will also pay for the best dental and optical cover. With Allianz you can pick and choose what you want which makes it cheaper! This is especially good for the British who usually go and buy their glasses in the UK as it is much cheaper than in France. So, you can have the best cover for hospital and nothing for glasses. Feel free to contact me for a free quote. You will be surprised to know that we are usually much cheaper than all those specialised British expat health insurances - and we can do the cancellation for you, so don’t hesitate to contact me for a free quote. Finally, selfemployed people have an automatic 15% discount.

Ask Amanda

by Amanda Johnson


really wanted to get my finances in order during 2018 but life got in the way. How can I prevent the same happening in 2019?

We all have good intentions to make changes during the year, whether it be to improve our French, get fitter, clear out some boxes from when we first arrived in France, or review our finances to ensure they are as tax efficient as possible under the French fiscalities. Don’t be disheartened if you were unable to achieve all these things in 2018. Why not use the run-up to the festive period to put a date in the diary for a financial review during the first quarter of 2019? This way you can enjoy the holidays comfortable in the knowledge that this one area will be covered early next year. I have found that financial peace of mind allows my clients time to focus on the other areas of their French dream. I want to take this opportunity to wish you all a very Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and hope 2019 is a great year for you here in France. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below and I will be glad to help. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations. Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail: This is the website of the French health system. 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 their top-up). You can download your reimbursement and you can 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 any French at all there is an English speaking phone line created by the French health system to answer all your questions: 08 11 36 36 46. Newcastle telephone number: 0044 (0)1912181999 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. I can also help with the forms. And remember to check out our web site 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 Lesterps.

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.

Also, 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:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 43

How might the 2018 UK budget affect your pocket? by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks


n the last planned budget before Brexit, Chancellor Phillip Hammond insisted that “austerity is coming to an end”. Pledging to increase public spending without hiking taxes, he claimed 32 million people would enjoy tax cuts. So was there anything that will affect expatriates?

Personal tax From April 2019, those earning UK income benefit from an increased personal allowance from £11,850 to £12,500, while the highest income tax rate threshold rises from £46,350 to £50,000. (Scotland has a different structure and announces its 2018/19 Budget on 12th December.) Remember: all UK-source income usually needs to be declared in your country of residence, even if it is not liable to taxation in either country.

With many expecting that today’s £39 billion in pension reliefs and allowances could be raided in the future, now is a good time to consider your options. Property In January, the government plans to consult on an additional 1% stamp duty charge for non-residents buying residential property in England and Northern Ireland. They will also consult on halving the capital gains tax exemption window (for private residence relief ) to nine months from April 2020, and limiting ‘lettings relief ’ to owner-occupier landlords. Brexit and the UK economy Hammond outlined ‘resilient’ growth over the next five years, upgrading the forecast for GDP growth from 1.3% to 1.6% for 2019. However, growth remains relatively sluggish and – with no Brexit deal yet – could be a moving target.

Savings With no relevant changes here, the band of UK savings income that can be earned tax-free remains at £5,000 and the annual ISA subscription limit stays at £20,000.

While Hammond has set aside an extra £500 billion for government no-deal Brexit preparations, he claimed a “double-deal dividend” could be triggered by an orderly Brexit. However, he kept his powder dry to make further adjustments next year, indicating he may upgrade the Spring statement to an emergency Budget if required.

However, expatriates should note that investments like ISAs lose taxefficient benefits once you are no longer UK resident, as interest attracts taxation in France. Take time to explore alternative arrangements that may better suit your circumstances.

With so much uncertainty still ahead and under five months until Brexit, it is sensible to take personalised, regulated advice. An adviser with cross-border expertise can guide you on the opportunities available to help protect your finances in these changeable times.

Pensions Despite expectations that he would make cuts here, the Chancellor did not target pensions. This means the personal allowance remains at £40,000 and the lifetime allowance (LTA) increases with inflation in April 2019 from £1,030,000 to £1,055,000.

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

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from all of us at Blevins Franks

05 49 75 07 24 ww w. b le v i ns fr a n k s .c o m 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 Mediation 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, December 2018


PLEASE NOTE: THERE WILL BE NO JANUARY 2019 ISSUE OF ‘THE DSM’ We look forward to receiving all your contributions and advertising requests for our February 2019 issue. Businesses and events advertised in the December issue will benefit from the standard Facebook coverage during January. Online advertising will run as usual during January.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018 | 45

What An Affordable Price Tag!

by Joanna Leggett


ho doesn’t look for a bargain? Although when it comes to buying a house, finding one with an eminently affordable price tag sometimes seems to be the stuff of dreams. Not so here in Deux-Sèvres, we’ve some amazing properties for sale with incredibly low price tags. So if you’re in the market for your first home (which sometimes seems to be an almost impossible dream), here are some which just might enable you to put your first foot into the water of home ownership, or perhaps the perfect holiday home you can return to year-on-year putting down roots in a local community. I still remember the thrill of putting the key into the lock of my first home - and it seems to get more exciting each time I move house!

Le Retail is a charming hilltop village close to Secondigny just 20 minutes from medieval Parthenay. In the heart of the village is this small, well-maintained, three bedroomed cottage (Leggett ref: 93627, photo left). Entering off the small courtyard (a separate garden and garage are 100m away) on the ground floor there’s open plan living, a neat kitchen and first bedroom. Upstairs there’s another bedroom while the third is currently being used as an office, there’s also another WC. This would make an ideal lock-up and leave or first home at the bargain price of 82 500€! Another very pretty option with a larger courtyard garden is in Scillé (Leggett ref: 94063, photo top right), again in the heart of the village. Pretty borders entice you into this fully renovated home, with large

kitchen/dining room and wood burner. The salon has a door to the garden and from the entrance are stairs to the first floor as well as access to the cellar and garage. Upstairs are three bedrooms, bathroom and an ensuite! There’s even a small barn and workshop. Just 4km from L’Absie this property is a steal at 77 000€. Étusson is in the northern DeuxSèvres, almost on the border of the Maine-et-Loire. Saint-Malo is just three hours away, but all essential amenities can be found much closer to hand, just 7km away in Argenton-les-Vallées. Here, in a quiet countryside setting, is a newly-renovated former farmhouse (Leggett ref: 92552, photo above). In the last two years this home has benefited from the addition of a new roof, double glazing, electric radiators and an extra bathroom. On the ground floor there’s a vast living room with wood burner, kitchen/dining room and bathroom. Upstairs are four bedrooms and a second bathroom. Outside there are outbuildings, a large modern workshop, fenced paddock, garden and well! Even better, this substantial property has recently been reduced to 95 995€! A New Year – a new home! What better resolution could there be? Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at


LA CHAPELLE THIREUIL €183,600 Ref: 93738 Part renovated character home with original features and 4 acres.

Buying or selling?

ARGENTON L EGLISE €424,000 Ref: 94551 Beautiful 5 bed maison de maître with 2nd house and an acre.

8% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: N/A

Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

VASLES €61,000 Ref: 93954 Large 4 bed / 2 bath townhouse with courtyard & parking opposite.

LEZAY €194,400 Ref: 93388 Built in 1959, a large, 4 bed / 2 bath family home with river frontage.

FOMPERRON €56,000 Ref: 94186 2 bed cottage to refresh with barn and another small house to restore.

PRAILLES €299,600 Ref: 94306 7 bed, 4 bath property comprising two houses, a studio and land.

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: E

9% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: E

12% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: C

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

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: C

Starting a new life in France? Want a new career? Leggett are always looking to recruit new sales agents. Call us for more info 00 800 2534 4388 or email: +33 05 53 60 84 88 46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2018

December’s Christmas Markets...

Saturday 1st December

Sunday 9th December

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• • • • • •

• •

Poitiers (86000) (until 7th December). Rides, ice rink, entertainment and shows, Christmas market cabins and church illumination. marche-de-noel-de-poiters Beaussais-Vitré (79370) Christmas Farmers’ Market, 10am-6pm. Chauvigny (86300) 9am- 7pm. Doué-la-Fontaine (49700) 10am-9pm. More than 70 exhibitors from all over France present their products in the magical troglodyte caves. Entry fee 4€ for adults, free for children under 12. Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet (79260) 3pm-11pm. The village of Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet offers its famous Christmas market that welcomes more and more participants each year: 10,000 visitors and 125 stands in 2018! Local and regional crafts, gastronomic specialties and products of local agriculture, animations for young and old with the illumination of the château on Saturday evening, the presence of Santa, a carousel and an ice rink. Beaulieu-sous-la-Roche (85190) 10am-9.30pm. Iteuil (86240) Place de l’Eglise, from 4pm.

Sunday 2nd December • •

• • • • • • • • • • • • •

Chauvigny (86300) 10am-7pm. Doué-la-Fontaine (49700) 10am-7pm. More than 70 exhibitors from all over France present their products in the magical troglodyte caves. Entry fee 4€ for adults, free for children under 12. Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet (79260) 10am-7pm. See Saturday 1st for more information. Terves (79300) English Christmas Market, 10am-6pm. Artisan stalls, mulled wine, mince pies, carol singing and Father Christmas in his grotto. Beaulieu-sous-Parthenay (79420) 9.30am-6.30pm. Brioux-sur-Boutonne (79170) 9.30am-6pm. Salle des Fêtes. Faye-sur-Ardin (79160) 10am-6pm, Salle des Fêtes, Espace Magnolia. François (79260) 10am-5.30pm, Salle des Fêtes. Massais (79150) 9.30am-6pm, Place de l’Eglise de Massais. Nanteuil (79400) 9am-7pm, Maison du Temps Libre. Saint-Laurs (79160) 9.30am-7pm, Salle de la Vaillante. Saint-Martin-des-Noyers(85140) Château de la Grève 10am-6pm. Vouillé (79230) 10am-6pm. Beaulieu-sous-la-Roche (85190) 10am-7pm. Niort (79000) until the 24th December. Place du Donjon, 40+ chalets in the Christmas village. Mondays 4pm-7pm, Tuesdays-Sundays 10am-7pm.

Friday 7th December

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Aiffres (79230) 4pm-10pm. Fors (79230) 4pm-11pm. Rue de la Mairie. Longeville-sur-Mer (85560) 4.30pm-8pm.

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Longeville-sur-Mer (85560) 10am-6.30pm. La Chapelle-Saint-Laurent (79430) 10am-6.30pm. La Mothe-Saint-Héray (79800) The Magic of Christmas 9am6pm. See Saturday 8th for more information. Nueil-les-Aubiers (79250) 11am-8pm. Saint-Verge (79100) 9am-5pm. Thénezay (79390) from 9am. La Rochénard (79270) 10am-6pm, Place de Centre. Melle (79500) 10am-6pm. Apremont (85220) 10.30am-7pm.

Wednesday 12th December • Saint-Pardoux (79310) 10am-6pm. Friday 14th December • • • • •

Marigny (79360) 4.15pm-10pm. Saint-Martin-de-Saint-Maixent (79400) 6.30pm. Cognac (16100) 10am-8pm, Place du Solençon. Quartier Saint-Jaques. Fontenay-le-Comte (85200), from 5pm Friday until 8pm Sunday. Parthenay (79200) 5pm-10pm. Esplanade Georges Pompidou.

Saturday 15th December • • • • • • • • • • •

Cognac (16100) 10am-8pm, Place du Solençon. Quartier Saint-Jaques. Fontenay-le-Comte (85200), from 5pm Fri until 8pm Sun. Parthenay (79200) 10am-10pm. Esplanade Georges Pompidou. Charroux (86250) 10am-6pm. La Crèche (79260) 2pm-11pm. Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon (79210) from 2pm. Mauzé-Thouarsais (79100) from 2pm. Cerizay (79140) 3pm-8pm. Sansais-la-Garette (79270) 3pm-8pm. Artisanal and gastronomic Christmas market. Also an ‘enchanted alley’ amongst the ash trees. Thouars (79100) 10am-10pm, Rue Porte de Paris. Angles (85750) 2pm-8pm, Place Champ de Foire.

Sunday 16th December • • • • • • • • •

Cognac (16100) 10am-7pm, Place du Solençon. Quartier Saint-Jaques. Fontenay-le-Comte (85200), from 5pm Fri until 8pm Sun. Parthenay (79200) 10am-7pm. Esplanade Georges Pompidou. Cerizay (79140) 10am-6pm. Sansais-la-Garette (79270)10am-6pm. Artisanal and gastronomic Christmas market. Also an ‘enchanted alley’ amongst the ash trees. Thouars (79100) 10am-8pm, Rue Porte de Paris. Celles-sur-Belle (79370) 10am-6pm. Fressines (79370). Angles (85750) 10am-6pm, Place Champ de Foire.

Saturday 8th December • • • • • • • •

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Longeville-sur-Mer (85560) 10am-8pm. Echiré (79410) market and telethon, 10am-6pm. Louzy (79100). Salle des Fêtes. Saint-Gelais (79410) market and telethon, 4pm-10pm. Saint-Maxire (79410) from 3pm, Salle des Fêtes. Saint-Néomaye (79260) 4pm-9.30pm, Salle des Fêtes. La Chapelle-Saint-Laurent (79430) 4pm-10pm. La Mothe-Saint-Héray (79800) The Magic of Christmas, 3pm10pm. 100 exhibitors, oyster bar, street show, photos with Santa, choir, College Orangerie photo exhibition, on-site catering, refreshments. Nueil-les-Aubiers (79250) 2pm-9pm. Saint-Verge (79100) 5pm-10pm. Thénezay (79390) 6pm-10pm. Apremont (85220) 2pm-7pm. L’Aiguillon-sur-Mer (85460) Salle des Fêtes, Avenue Admiral Courbet. From 9.30am.

Friday 21st December •

Coulonges-sur-l’Autize (79160) Place des Halles, 4pm-10pm