The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine February 2019 Issue

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

Welcome! to Issue 94 of

This Month’s Advertisers

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine...

Anna wants a new dishwasher. I’d rather wash-up by hand, I like washing by hand, it’s simple. A dishwasher is something else to break down, then there’s the loading and the unloading, the food that always sticks; the washing tablet that fails to come out of its little door. Part of the reason we moved to France was for a simpler, more laid back life. A sort of Catherine Cookson existence, working in the field during the day, eating a chunk of cheese and bread from a piece of gingham cloth. In the evening we’d sit around the fire, I’d be quaffing wine from a pewter tankard and Anna would be doing some needle point, or singing. On Sundays we’d go for a picnic in our hay wain or help our French neighbours erect a barn. After a day of tilling the earth did Jean de Florette start unloading the dishwasher? No! After being caught in the rain, when it eventually arrived, did he tumble-dry his jerkin? No! When he wanted to know the weather, did he reach for his iPad or boot up his computer? No, of course not! He stuck his head out the window. When did life become so complicated? To survive the French winter, in our non-centrally heated house, we recently invested in some thick woollen jumpers and are adopting the ‘layering’ approach to staying warm. Like two Michelin men we crash around the place, remembering those heady summer days that were and will be again. Whatever your technique for keeping warm this winter, I hope it is working. Have a fantastic February and enjoy this month’s issue.

à la prochaine Stephen & Anna Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:

Emergency Numbers:

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

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

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

4 6 11 12 14 17 19 20 23 24 26 28 30 32 37 41

ABORDimmo 41 Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) 32 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC double glazing) 2 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) 34 Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group 39 Andrew Longman (Plumbing and heating) 35 Andy Quick (Roofing and renovation) 32 ARB French Property 43 Argo Carpentry 36 Ark 79 (Animal charity association) 23 Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) 39 Beaux Villages Immobilier 43 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 38 Blevins Franks Financial Management 40 Building & Renovation Services 34 Café Rendez-Vous (Bar and restaurant) 29 Car Sale (BMW) 31 Centric Immobilier 41 Cherry Picker Hire 33 Chris Bassett Construction 32 Chris Parsons (Plumber/heating engineer) 35 Christies (English book shop and tea room) 6 CJ Electricité 35 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 32 Darren Lawrence 36 Discover Yoga 17 Down To Earth (Pool design) 41 Equicorrect 23 Franglais Deliveries (Transport and removal services) 31 Hallmark Electricité 35 Helen Booth (deVere Group) 37 Hiley Location (Groundworks) 33 HMJ Maintenance and Renovation Service 32 Inter Décor (Tiles and bathrooms) 34 Irving Location (Digger hire and gravel deliveries) 33 Jardin 360° (Garden maintenance) 22 Jeff’s Metalwork 34 John Purchase (Mobile mechanic) 31 Jon the Carpetman 22 La Bohème (Bar and restaurant) 29 La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) 22 Leggett Immobilier 42 Le Regal’on (Bar and restaurant) 9 LPV Technology (IT services) 27 Mark Sabestini (Renovation and construction) 32 Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) 36 Mike Glover (Plasterer, tiler, renderer) 34 ML Computers 27 Motor Parts Charente 31 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 39 Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) 22 Pamela Irving (Holistic therapist) 17 Pinnacle Garden Care 21 Poitiers Biard Airport 2 Projet Piscine (Swimming pool solutions) 41 Restaurant des Canards 29 Rob Berry (Plasterer) 32 Robert Mann (Re-upholstery) 22 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) 26 Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) 21 Salon des Vins et Terroirs 44 Sarl Down to Earth Construction (Groundworks and micro station installer) 33 Short Cuts (Mobile dog grooming) 23 Simon the Tiler 34 Smart Moves (Removal company) 31 Steve Coupland (Property services) 32 Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) 35 Steve Shaw (Cartoonist) 27 Strictly Roofing 35 Stump Grinding Services (David Cropper) 22 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 9 Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) 31 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 31 The Fixer - Rick Denton 37 The Hope Association 23 Val Assist (Translation Services) 9 Vienne Tree Services 22 Zena Sabestini (Translation & French Admin Assistance) 9

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

Jaunasse, Louin, 79600 Tél: 05 49 64 21 98. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Anna and Stephen Shaw. Crédits photos: Anna and Stephen Shaw, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: février 2019 - Tirage: 4500 exemplaires. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 3

What’s On... 1 - A MOMENT OF ZEN in Thouars. Cellists playing a rare repertoire ‘the music of spells’ at the Conservatory Tyndo 8.30pm. Free entry. Reservations via the Maison du Thouarsais Tourist Office. 5 - CHINESE NEW YEAR EVENT at Café Rendez-vous, L’Absie. From 7.30pm including a three course menu for 15€. Booking is essential see page 29 for more information. 8-9 - BEER EVENING in Saint-Maixent-du-Beugne. Music and different beers over two evenings in the Salle. Entry 3€. 9 - FISHING EQUIPMENT EXCHANGE & EXHIBITION in Niort. Exchange of fishing equipment, entertainment and exhibitions (carp, quiver, fly and predator). From 10am-5pm at La Halle des Peupliers, Parc des Expositions de Noron. Free entry (5€ for a table, reservation 06 75 69 93 83) 9 - CHATS DE CHÂTILLON ADOPTION DAY at Mr Bricolage Animalerie, Parthenay 10am to 5pm, tel: 06 85 63 55 94 10 - RANDO (hike) in Saint-Verge. Three courses taking you off the beaten track, a family trail of 5km, a 12km circuit discovering the natural heritage, or 17km for the more athletic. Departing between 8am and 10am from Pâtis. 10 - MUSIC FAIR in Bressuire. Vinyl, CDs, Memorabilia. Food on site, free entry. From 9am-6pm in the Salle des Fêtes de Saint Porchaire. 12 - QUIZ NIGHT at Le Regal’on, Allonne from 8pm. 13 - VALENTINE DINNER DANCE Glamour and Sparkle! 7.30pm until midnight. Live music and disco. Three course meal with aperitif and coffee. 20€ p.p. Salle des Fêtes , Châtillon-sur-Thouet. In aid of Chats de Châtillon and The Combined Services Support Group. For more information email: or tel: 06 25 48 03 30 / 14 - VALENTINE’S NIGHT GUITARTIST AND SINGER at Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne at 7pm. Reservation only. For more information see page 29 15 - JAM SESSION in Parthenay. Every Friday of the school holidays (until 6th April), bring your instrument and meet other musicians. Hosted by the Rock School Teachers. From 7pm. Free entry. At the Salle Diffart. 15-17 - MIMOSA FESTIVAL on the Ile d’Oleron. For 60 years, the town of St.Trojan les Bains has celebrated this beautiful winter flowering plant. A carnival, brocante, exhibitions and much more. 16 - 80S NIGHT in Chauray. In the Salle des Fêtes from 9pm, drinks and snacks available. Entry 5€ for adults, free for children under 12. 16 - QUIZ NIGHT in Bouillé-Saint-Paul for Chimera Racing. See poster on page 7 to make a reservation. 16-17 - CREATIVE HOBBIES FAIR in Celles-sur-Belle. Entry 3€ (free for children under 16). At the Salle des Fêtes, Saturday 2pm-6pm, Sunday 10am-5pm. 28 - HOPE SHOP 79 OPENING in Sauzé-Vaussais, 79190. For more


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 6th - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine 8th - St. Martin de Sanzay: Café de la Pompe 15th - Genneton: Café de la Mairie 20th - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine Tel: 06 04 14 23 94 reelfishandchipspapatom

FROM 6.30pm

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

REGULAR EVENTS... EVERY MON & WED 2PM-6PM Duplicate Bridge at Civray. Lessons available free. Contact Marian Green: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: EVERY TUES AT 5PM Belote at Café des Sports, L’Absie. EVERY THURS AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs. EVERY THURS FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€. In aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY THURS - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie. For times contact Jean on tel: 06 52 93 33 60. EVERY THURS - Franglais group in Montournais. Contact Penny Homewood 02 51 63 31 21 or EVERY FRI AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact John for details tel: 05 49 63 23 50. EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Workshops. Personally trained by Annie Sloan to help you get the best from her paints and products. Please see

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

EVERY OTHER THURS AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 1ST WEDS OF MONTH AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book Afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. 2nd Tues of Month AT 8PM - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne. 3RD WEDS of month AT 7.30PM - Team Quiz. At Le Clemenceau Bar, Mouilleron-en-Pareds, in aid of animal charities. 3RD WEDS OF MONTH AT 3PM Franglais Group at Café Pause!, L’Absie. Last FRI of month - Books, CDs, DVDs etc. sale. Chez Sue and Stuart Marshall, 12 rue du Bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois, in aid of animal charities (2pm-5pm) Tel: 02 51 51 00 96.

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2019 2nd February 14th February 3rd March 5th March 21st April 22nd April 1st May 8th May 26th May 30th May 9th June 10th June 16th June 21st June 14th July 15th August 1st November 11th November 25th December

Chandeleur (Fête des Crêpes) Valentine’s Day (St Valentin) Grandmother’s Day (Grand-Mères) Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) Easter Sunday (Pâques) Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Victory in Europe Day (Fête de la Victoire) Mother’s Day (Fête des Mères) Ascension Day (Ascension) Pentecost (Pentecôte) Pentecost (Lundi de Pentecôte) Father’s Day (Fête des Pères) World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) Assumption of Mary (Assomption) All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël)

La Vendée Chippy Sat 23rd: Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle-Thireuil We will open as usual at all our regular venues from Friday 1st March Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

(Dates in bold=Public holidays)

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

...FEbruary 2019 LOCAL MARKETS



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

what’s COMING UP... Feb-10 March - Exhibition ‘Décalages’ at Château d’Oiron. For more information: 20-25 March - Terri’ Thouars Blues Festival. See page 7 for poster. 29-31 March - Salon des Vins et Terroirs in Thouars. See poster on the back page or article on page 7, for more information.




@The DSMagazine



YOU TUBE: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine

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

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

A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information please take a look at our website or contact us by email: office. Further information from the Chaplaincy Office 05 49 97 04 21 or from John & Barbara Matthews 05 49 75 29 71. The Filling Station ~ Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians of all denominations who meet together regularly for spiritual renewal and evangelism purposes. ALL WELCOME. Please see our bilingual website for details of meetings and summer programmes or contact Carolyn Carter on 05 45 84 19 03. ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee are served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a `bring and share’ lunch. For details of all our activities, our Services in the west of the Vendée, copies of recent newsletters and more information, please check our website: The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship welcomes you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. 1st and 3rd Sunday at 11am in St Hilaire de Voust, Vendée and 2nd and 4th Sunday at 11am in two locations: one near Bressuire, DeuxSèvres and the other near Bournezeau, Vendée. Meetings last about an hour and are followed by a time of fellowship & refreshments. Find out more by contacting Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit: The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun). We welcome and embrace all Christians from all denominations and warmly invite you to join us. Following the service, coffee is served, and for those who wish to stay a little longer, we enjoy a light, bring and share lunch.

INSTAGRAM: thedsm79

TOP HAT QUIZ & CURRY 7th: 9th: 10th: 14th:

Limalonges Aigre Chef Boutonne Theil Rabier

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm


Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking

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

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

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

OPEN mornings

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

Getting Out & About Chez Christie’s BEAUTIFUL GIFTS & CARDS

Perfect for that ‘Special Occasion’ Best not forget - the 14th - or ‘Questions’ may be asked in The House ..


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



We’ll be Closed from Tuesday 12th March Re-Opening on: TUESDAY 26th MARCH GENÇAY - behind the Mairie Siret: 47876969800018 FREE(86) WiFi

Galerie des Arcades: exhibitions 2019 2, place de l’hôtel de ville, Bressuire


his charming gallery is situated in the town square opposite the Tourist Office. Originally it formed part of the town museum (founded by Mme Mètayer and Jean Camus) which occupies the first floor of the same building - the former market hall. The gallery acquired its own space in 2007 once the open archways were converted to windows, under the direction of Claude Boutet. Fountains play in the square making this an exceptionally attractive venue, the dancing water lending an unusual quality of light to the interior of the gallery. Entry is free and an exciting programme of varied exhibitions is planned throughout 2019. Opening hours for the public are 2.306.30pm each Saturday and Sunday throughout the year.

This year’s season opened in January with ‘Couleurs et formes’, an exhibition which runs until 10th February, displaying work by sculptor Patrice Doisy and three contrasting painters, Jacques Delime, Jean-Marc Guillez and Jacques Loppinet.

by Jocelyn Simms

the art on show and to learn about the techniques deployed. Since the start of this initiative around 5,000 pupils have visited the gallery and in June each year local schools exhibit their own artwork. Upstairs, the museum displays aspects of the archaeology and heritage of the Bocage. The museum, open on alternate Sunday afternoons, received national status thanks in part to an endowment of a collection of faïences (earthenware) from Madame Metayer. A brasserie, Bar des Cloîtres, and a coffee shop, Les Quatre Coins are both located in the square. It is a short walk from here, across the railway bridge, to the town’s impressive 10th century château and its sculpture park, the historic monument of the Chapelle Saint-Cyprien and the extensive coulée verte, an ideal spot for nature walks and picnics by the river.

The theme for the next exhibition (16th February to 17th March) is ‘Paysages intérieurs’, featuring painter Charley Limi and Raphaëlle Chauvin-H’ Limi, a creative textile artist. A conference will be held by them at the Médiathèque in Bressuire on 15th March at 6pm. The programme continues until December with photography, stained glass and line-engraving as well as paintings and sculptures by fifteen different artists, offering something to intrigue and delight everyone. Michelle Boutet has been présidente of the association Amis des Arts since 2010. The amis choose the exhibitors, a good number of whom have international reputations as well as, in many cases, links with Bressuire. The art gallery staffed entirely by volunteers, receives support from the town of Bressuire and from a percentage of any artwork sold. The gallery aims to bring quality art and culture to the town and region, but its reputation ensures that visitors also come from much further afield. Special openings on Wednesdays see parties of schoolchildren in the gallery, invited to discuss a selection of

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

For further information about the gallery, exhibitions, special events, or how to become an Amis contact: Josette Noirault on tel: 06 13 51 34 80 or

Celebrate Valentine’s Day Thursday 14th February 7.00pm Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne

With fingerstyle guitarist and singer, David Chave

RESERVATIONS ONLY 05 49 29 73 46

Hope Shop 79

72nd Salon des Vins et Terroirs

by Verity Lineham



e are very excited to announce that Hope Shop 79 will be opening on 28th February 2019 in Sauzé-Vaussais, 79190.

Now this is not just any old shop, this is a Hope Shop. More, a Hope Venue Shop. Not only will it be open weekly, but will now also host our biannual book fairs in May and October. Plus monthly book club(s), weekly fish and chip evenings, professional lotto, quiz nights, night markets, craft fairs and so much more. It has room for meetings and places a club could meet. Your club? Have you an idea? Bring it to us. Want to volunteer? Get in touch, everyone’s welcome! Baker? Can you help raise funds baking? We want you! Hope Association is a non profit association, meaning no one can benefit from being a volunteer for Hope. You can therefore rest assured that every euro raised goes to helping animals in need. For 2018, Hope is very proud to announce that we donated a staggering 200 505,42€ to animal associations throughout France. Thank you to everyone who supported us in so many different ways. We look forward to seeing, working and laughing with you throughout 2019.

29th to 31st March 2019 at the Orangerie Château de Thouars

hether you are connoisseurs, amateurs or beginners, the exhibition of Vins et Terroirs of Thouars is a unique exhibition of French wine and gastronomy, with all its colours and nuances, in a remarkable historical setting, overlooking the exceptional Thouet valley. Faithful to its legendary tradition, this showcase owes its existence to a whole team of volunteers, in a non-profit organisation, supported by many public and private partners. The show also owes its popularity to the presence of talented producers, passionate and proud of their products.

The 72nd exhibition will unfold under the vaults of the orangery of the Château de Thouars, where 105 winemakers and 20 producers will be present. Opening times are as follows: Friday, 29th March 3pm: opening 3pm: inauguration 8pm: closing Saturday, 30th March 10am: opening 8pm: closing Sunday 31st March 10am: opening 4pm: induction All day entertainments 6pm: closing Free parking Refreshments on site Entry: 4€

Hope Shop 79 17, Route de Civray 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

See back page for full poster.

For more information visit: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 7

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor


hoever decided to make February the shortest month of the year certainly had the right idea - it really has very little to recommend it! Christmas has long gone, galettes de rois have all been eaten and spring has not yet arrived. So….cheer yourself up with a visit to one (or more!) of the many indoor activities in and around the Vendée. A perennial favourite is the Aquarium in La Rochelle. While away a fascinating few hours marvelling at an underwater world that is often stranger than fiction! Then take home some memories from the gift shop, and treat yourself to a healthy snack in the second floor café. Feeling more energetic? How about trying out the recently opened indoor swimming pool in Luçon, Le Centre Aquatique Port’Océane. As well as casual swimming sessions, you can enrol on aquafit and aquabike classes, or treat yourself to a pamper session in l’Espace bienêtre. Do check opening hours beforehand though because the centre is often used by schools and clubs. Just outside Luçon you can relive your teenage years with a spot of ten-pin bowling at Le Teq Bowling. You can play just as a couple, with other family members, or why not book as a group and pre-order tapas from the bar - that way you can extend your afternoon visit well into the evening! Or perhaps you fancy a bit of culture… To the north of La Roche-surYon, in Les Lucs-sur-Boulogne, you’ll find l’Historial de la Vendée. It’s a real hands-on museum, transporting you through 7,000 years of the history of the Vendée. Then enjoy a snack in the light and airy café overlooking the park.

All you need is love L

by Stephen Shaw

ove it or hate it Valentine's Day is recognised as a significant cultural, religious, and commercial celebration of romance and love in many parts of the world.

In the 3rd century St. Valentine of Rome was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers, who were forbidden to marry. During his imprisonment he restored sight to the blind daughter of his judge, and before his execution he wrote her a letter signed 'Your Valentine' as a farewell. Poetry, art, films and novels all wax lyrical about the romance in France. Couples the world over dream of a romantic weekend in Paris, the City of Light. They have an expression 'dîner en têteà-tête', which means a romantic dinner, something even couples that have been together for years are expected to do regularly.

So, come rain or shine, there’s no excuse to feel blue in the Vendée this February! Beginners factfile guide to the Vendée: • One of the most popular regional dishes and favourite food of the Vendée is the ‘mogette’ or white bean. Vendéans love them in cassoulet, soup, with meat, creamed and also in tarts! • The area is unbelievably rich in history and over the centuries has been ravaged by war, including the Hundred Year War against the English, the Wars of Religion and a royalist counter rebellion during the French revolution. • In the south of the region is a flat marshland area called the Marais which in the 12th century was created out of the sea by monks and later refined by the Dutch. Vendée weather for February: Temperature: ave. 7°C Rainfall days: 11 Rainfall: 80mm Wind speed: 20kph Sunshine: 3 hrs per day Sunrise: 8am Sunset: 6.30pm Magic beans? Yes, mogettes.

Local folklore states: If the bees don’t come out of their hive, a donkey brays incessantly, the swallows fly low, the spiders are busy spinning or the cat washes its face you can expect bad weather. However, if swallows are flying high or the tawny owl calling, you’re in for fairer times. Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

So for us Brits who struggle expressing our inner feelings, here are a few terms of endearment you might want to drop in the conversation, over your candlelit dinner on the 14th. Spoken to Men and Women: 1. Mon amour – my love 2. Mon ange – my angel 3. Mon canard – my duck 4. Mon chou – my sweet bun 5. Doudou – no literal translation Spoken to Men 1. Mon choupinet – no translation – but comes from ‘mon chou’ 2. Mon gros – my fat one (not to be used on a first date) 3. Loulou – no translation 4. Mon nounours – my teddy bear 5. Roudoudou – no translation Spoken to Women 1. Ma belle – my beautiful one 2. Ma colombe – my dove 3. Ma crevette – my shrimp 4. Moumoune – no translation 5. Poupounette – no translation 6. Ma Puce – my flea 7. Ma sardine – my sardine 8. Ma souris – my mouse 9. Mon sucre d’orge – my little candy General phrases 1. L’amour donne des ailes – love gives you wings. 2. Je brûle de désir pour toi – you make me burn with desire 3. Mon cœur bat la chamade – my heart pounds wildly 4. Tu me fais tourner la tête– you make my head spin

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

Batter and Batter

by Sue Burgess


omebody remarked the other day that the supermarket shelves are already full of packets of flour paquets de farine, cartons of milk briques de lait, boxes of eggs cartons d’oeufs, and packets of sugar paquets de sucre, even though Shrove Tuesday Mardi Gras is not until 5th March.

However in France, 2nd February, La Chandeleur (Candlemass, which celebrates the presentation of the baby Jesus in the temple), is French pancake day. Tradition means the family will eat a meal consisting only of pancakes crêpes, savoury pancakes or galettes and then sweet pancakes or crêpes. The custom is also that pancakes are tossed on fait sauter les crêpes, in the pan held in the right hand whilst a coin une pièce d’argent (traditionally a Louis d’Or), is held in the left hand (if you want to be wealthy all year round). The first crêpe is kept in the cupboard so that the harvest will be abundant. All the candles les bougies in the house are lit at La Chandeleur and custom has it that the Christmas crib la crèche de Noël should not be put away before this festival which is the last of the Christmas period. Many French people take down their Christmas decorations les decorations de Noël at this date. Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras falls in March this year. Another occasion for eating. This time the batter is made into bottereaux, tourtisseaux, beignets and merveilles. Bottereaux and Tourtisseaux are light airy flaky pastry affairs, sprinkled with icing sugar, and beignets and merveilles are more like doughnuts, the mix being deep fried in oil. The names of these delights vary from region to region and town to town. A general name is beignets de carnaval. Beignets de fruits ou de légumes (fruit or vegetable fritters) are also popular. Mardi Gras is carnival time. Time for partying and feasting before the more sober period of Lent Le Carême which begins on Ash Wednesday le mercredi des cendres. Mi-Carême the third Thursday in Lent, is a day of respite and another excuse for eating more beignets and tourtisseaux!

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: pâte à crêpes..............................

pancake mix

galette .....................................

savoury pancake made with buckwheat flour

farine de sarrasin .......................

buckwheat flour

farine de blé ..............................


sucre en poudre ......................

caster sugar

pâte à beignets...........................

batter for doughnuts

pâte à pain ..............................

bread dough

pâte feuilletée............................

flaky pastry

pâte sablée/ pâte brisée ............

a sweet pastry/ shortcrust

sucre glace.................................

icing sugar

Mardi Gras.................................

Shrove Tuesday (fat Tuesday)

Le Carême..................................


le mercredi des cendres..............

Ash Wednesday

A la Chandeleur l’hiver se meurt On 2 Feb, winter goes ou prend vigueur.......................... away or becomes more vigorous A la Chandeleur le jour croît de At Chandeleur the days get deux heures ................................ longer by two hours Lune de mardi gras, tonnère If there is a moon on entendra..................................... Shrove Tuesday, there will be thunder The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 9

Vultures in France a first encounter by Howard Needs


s with many people, most of my life I have had no deep thoughts about vultures and when lighter thoughts did surface they will have been mostly negative. Nasty beasts, long scrawny necks, blood dripping from their beaks. Quite some time ago I read a couple of newspaper articles about the mass dieoff of vultures in India and the negative effect on public health due to the rotting bodies of dead animals not dealt with by nature’s clean-up squad. This die-off was caused by agricultural pesticides and herbicides getting into the food chain and killing those at the end of it, namely the vultures, and so a certain interest in the birds was awoken. However, my view of the birds changed some years back when we visited Doué-la-Fontaine Zoo for the first time. The zoo, for those who do not know it, is situated on the limestone plateau and the various animal enclosures are on two levels - ground level and in the depths of the old stone quarries. Describing the zoo and its work would be an article itself but here I will limit things a bit. The South American birds are in an enormous quarry pit maybe 10-15 metres deep with a gauze enclosure over the top. Rhinos, giraffes and snow leopards are also housed in quarried out enclosures. The vultures, some 30-40, these days are housed in a quarried out circular amphitheatre (maybe 80 metres in diameter) giving them a somewhat natural environment. However, in the past when we first met them there were 15 or so in a smaller enclosure with quite a lot of bushes and grass. Following the sign-posting on that first visit we walked down a tiny valley towards a swing gate 1.20m high and saw a number of big birds with nasty sharp beaks milling around on the other side - no way was I going to walk through that bunch. However, a young couple with children walked past us, opened the gate and calmly strode through the birds who took no notice of them. We plucked up courage and followed them but tried to avoid contact with the creatures. At the far end there was an open space with tiered wooden seating around it and people waiting for the birds to be fed. Fine, we went in, sat down and I got my camera ready for whatever was to come. Well, the first thing was that one of the vultures climbed up to where I was sitting and stood beside me with his head over my shoulder. I looked at him (or perhaps her) carefully and saw a sharp beak with its tip turned down, a nearly bald neck with a beautiful ruff of fine white feathers where it met the body, beady but bright eyes and part of his head was light blue. He ignored me completely – I did not exist in his world. A young woman then entered dressed in zoo uniform with a megaphone in one hand and a huge chunk of meat in the other with birds swarming and squawking around her. After a short introduction she dropped the meat on the ground and stepped back and continued with her story. The birds rushed up to the meat strutting, bouncing and mock pecking at each other. There was a lot of noise and some feathers flying, but on the whole it was

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

quite orderly. A bird would get hold of the meat and pull it away, another pulled in the opposite direction and a third would try to get his share. The meat tore in half and the lucky winners pulled it to another part of the pit where the other birds pounced and started pulling and tearing as well. This went on for some minutes with the meat diminishing before our eyes and then another type of vulture came out of the bushes. This one was altogether larger and dark in colour and the neck was feathered. It came up most menacingly, bouncing from foot to foot with a rocking motion, and then stood waiting. We later learnt that the true ecology of vultures involves four species each with their own niche in nature’s clean-up of dead bodies and here in the enclosure were three of the four. One thing from those early visits that remains fixed in my memory was seeing an old, rather tatty looking bird sitting in a corner not moving at all but with his eyes open. The attendant told us that he was one of their first birds and near to death. They fed and looked after him as he passed his last days. A couple of visits later there was an announcement that he had died. I felt some sort of pride in having witnessed good people looking after the old creature – it makes up for some of the terrible things one reads in the paper. Neither the old nor the new enclosure are covered – they are completely open to the sky and you may wonder why the birds do not escape. There are two reasons - most of the vultures have suffered accidents which have crippled them to such an extent that they could not fly and would have died if left in the wild. They find a home in Doué where they are fed and looked after and where they can congregate in a natural manner, mate and have young. The young stay in the zoo for some months until they are independent of the parents and are then released into the wild. However, the release is carefully planned and they are transported to Provence and also these days Bulgaria where they are kept in big holding cages in the valleys that are destined to be their future home. Valleys with high cliffs and secluded landing and nesting places. After some months they are released and join the existing colonies – colonies that have been built up in the course of 30-40 years. As I said there is another more prosaic reason for the birds not escaping. They are superb gliders but need to have a high launching point plus thermals or updraughts to enable them to ascend. The vulture who finds his food on the valley floor has to walk up the side until he has enough height to launch himself. In the zoo the height available is insufficient and there are no thermals and updraughts and so the young, flight-capable birds stay there until the time comes to release them. I wrote this article just after a holiday devoted to visiting three of the four main areas in France harbouring vultures. These are the Provence, the Baronies, the Tarn and the Jonte Gorges, and the Pyrenees. Not only was it inspirational to see the birds free in the air, but also to talk to the people who had been involved in the reintroduction of these birds (once extinct in France) who worked with a conviction and persistence to bring these beautiful and necessary creatures back into our ecosystem. A Griffon Vulture (Vautour Fauve) at the Doué-La-Fontaine Zoo. Top left photo: a Black Vulture (Vautour Moine).

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres


hree communes of Deux-Sèvres have the name of Saint Aubin. Aubin was a saint from the Brittany region. He was Bishop of Angers between 529 and 550.


This is an old commune situated in the north-west of the DeuxSèvres, on the boundaries of the Maine-et-Loire and the Vendée. Since being joined with Mauléon in 1973, Saint-Aubin-de-Baubigné has had the statute of associate commune. The local economic activity is mainly that of local artisans and craftsmen. There is an industry producing polyester and there are 48 farms. A voir / Must See Les mystérieux rochers gravés de Vaux - The mysterious engraved rocks at Vaux The engraved rocks at Vaux are an exceptional proof of an ancient civilisation in the area. They are unique as no other such engravings in granite are known. They are situated to the east of the bourg of Saint-Aubin, in an 80 hectare area. They were discovered in 1876 by a hunter. At that period, there were 200 engravings, you can still see 39 on the site, seven are in the National Museum of Archaeology at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, eight at the B.R.H.A.M. Museum in Mauléon, one in Cholet and another in Périgueux. The first publication about them appeared in 1879. Since then considerable research has been done, the latest in 1980, by the Groupe d’études, de recherches et de sauvegarde de l’art rupestre (GERSAR). In 2000, an aerial topographic reading was done. The engravings have been classified as a historical monument since 1982. The rocks represent human and animal shapes as well as ideograms. They were engraved using metal objects. It is not certain when they date from. However, the presence of horse riders and the appearance of a motif formed of four circles suggests that the work may date from between 450-150 years BC. Another theory attributes them to a barbarious group from the Middle East who were settled in the area about 300 AD. Le Château de la Durbelière Durbelière Château is an ancient dwelling of which only the ruins remain. It was burned five times during the Revolution. The château dates from the 15th century.

by Sue Burgess


The commune, situated 7km from Argenton-Château and 10km from Bressuire has about 500 inhabitants known as the Saint-Aubinais. If Saint-Aubin-du-Plain figures in archives dating from 1278, it’s latin name ‘De plano-campo’ (flat camp) comes from its geographical situation on the plateau between the Dolo and the Mortève rivers. The Château de Muflet, built in the 14th century still exists as proof of the commune’s feudal past. The château underwent important transformations in the 16th and 18th centuries. The Romanesque church was restored in 1936 but had, until the end of 19th century, traces of bullets fired in 1794 by General Grignon’s soldiers. A voir/ Must see On the boundaries of the commune of Saint-Aubin-du-Plain and Noirlieu, the Château of Muflet was mentioned for the first time in the archives of Saint-Loup in 1378. The construction of a keep (10m in diametre and 25m high), its interior spiral staircase and numerous arrow-slits date at least from the 18th century. The imposing keep is surmounted by a watchtower which is still in a good state of repair. It was possible to survey the four compass points from the tower. Different modifications have been made over time. Half the moat is still filled with water today. In 1998, a Parisian family bought the château and began an important restoration programme. A medieval garden has been created in the old orchard. The château is open for visits by prior arrangement.

Saint-Aubin-le-Cloud • • •

The earliest recording concerning Saint-Aubin-le-Cloud dates from the 18th century. Saint Aubin was the Bishop of Angers and Le Cloud comes from a latin word meaning ‘cloister’. From the 13th to the 16th century, the Gâtine started to take the form of the type of countryside layout that we know today. Some lords had noble houses built or rebuilt – they were often fortified and called ‘hôtels’ in the old legal acts. Several of these houses can still be found in the commune. They have undergone transformations but certain architectural aspects remain. The door and fireplace lintel decorated with a coat of arms, stone stairs with worn-down steps, windows with mullions etc. and a tower joined to the dwelling in which the staircase was found. In 1970 Saint Aubin was recognised as a Commune Pilote (pilot town) not only for its development but also because of the creation of the Village Soleil a group of 80 small apartments for independant old age pensioners. The Pilot town wanted to attract holiday makers and so built a water park, campsite and a heated swimming pool. In 1976 after 16 years of planning the Ecole Nationale de Perfectionnement du département which later became the Ecole Régionale d’enseignement Adapté (EREA) was built. A renowned school for children with learning difficulties. In 2003, the commune became part of the Communauté de Communes Espace-Gâtine and is committed to sustainable development, in particular for collective heating systems using renewable energy for the majority of their buildings.

La Durbelière belonged to the Rorthais from 1250. In 1460, Thibault de Rorthais had the château rebuilt on the foundations of a feudal construction dating from the 10th or 11th century. The watchtowers and arrow slits in the buildings that surround the ruins date from that period. In 1603, the Durbelière was given to the Meulles family by marriage. Between 1620 and 1630, Pierre de Meulles enlarged and improved the château. The Renaissance style balustrade, windows and chimneys are evidence of this. The house was imposing, surrounded by a moat. It was 60m x 30m and there were 49 rooms.

In 1679, the Durbelière was given to the Vergier de La Rochejaquelein family, through marriage and they still own it today.

A voir / Must See The church The building or rather rebuilding of the church was decided at the end of the 15th century by Pierre de Cossé, the abbot who was mandated by the monastery at Montierneuf de Poitiers. He had the support of François I d’Orléans, the Lord of Parthenay who negotiated the marriage of Charles VIII with Anne de Bretagne in 1491.

The statue of Henri de la Rochejaquelein The statue of Henri de la Rochejaquelein was erected in 1895, in memory of the hero of the counter-revolutionaries, named general at the age of 20. ‘Monsieur Henri’, as his soldiers called him, was killed at Nuaillé near Cholet on 28th January 1794. On the base of the statue it reads ‘Si j’avance, suivez-moi, si je recule tuez-moi, si je meurs vengez-moi’. (If I go forward, follow me, if I retreat kill me, if I die take revenge). It is said that he spoke these words in the courtyard of the Château de la Durbelière in front of 2000 peasant soldiers who had come to ask him to be their chief, and to defend God and the king by fighting the newly proclaimed Republic. The Church The church was built in 1855 on the site of the old cemetery. It replaced an earlier 15th century building. The 50.3m high granite spire is the pride and joy of the locals.

The arms of France (three golden fleur de lys on a blue background) can be seen, painted on a keystone, as well as the date of 1547 which is an indication of when the building work was finished. Overall, the church is in flamboyant Gothic style, but the tower is Romanesque. As elsewhere in France, the cemetery used to be close to the church and was dominated by a processional cross. The cross has now been moved into the new cemetery rue d’Azay. The rose window was added to the facade at the end of the 19th century.

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


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.

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

Craft Café Creatif

Do you enjoy knitting or sewing in the company of others? Join us in L’Absie for an enjoyable afternoon over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. For details contact Carole on email: Royal Air Forces Association Sud-Ouest France Le Perail, 17250 BEURLAY, France Tel: 0033 (0)5 46 95 38 89 Mobile: 0033 (0)6 89 90 55 82 Email:

AL-ANON Support Group

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


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

Amateur woodturners/woodworkers interested in joining our association ‘Faisons des Copeaux’. Any level of ability from debutant to experienced. We meet Wednesdays & Thursdays, 2-5pm, every 2 weeks. Contact Roland 05 49 96 44 10, preferably evenings. 12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

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:


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

TTL Photography Group

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

Franglais Anglo-French Group Thouars - Centre Socio-Culturel

Thanks to the support of the Centre we meet every Wednesday 7.30pm-9pm, at 7 rue Anne Desrays, for conversation in English & French, for a mutual understanding of each other’s language and culture. Contact 05 49 66 35 11 or the Centre 05 49 66 76 40 email or

Combined Services Support by John Blair Group (CSSG)


e hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and wish you a happy and healthy 2019. In early 2018 Mick and Terri Laverick and Ali Sherman stood down from the committee after many years of excellent service and we thank them for all their hard work. I took over the role of chair again, Lin Adams became secretary and Sue Blair treasurer. During 2018 we held a number of fundraising events and have been able to make donations to S.S.A.F.A., the R.A.F.A., Combat Stress and the local Sapier Pompiers. We also held a Christmas Craft Fair in Fenioux and participated in the Terves Christmas Fair. Although it isn’t really an area we normally sponsor under the C.S.S.G., we raised funds for the Resto de Coeurs at Christmas time. If you have any bedding or old jumpers to donate, the Resto would very much appreciate them especially in this cold weather. Thank you to every one of you who have been so generous over the last 12 months, it is very much appreciated. This year we are having a Valentine’s charity dinner dance on the 13th February - food, drink and music to dance and sing to. Send me an email if you would like further details. We will also be having board games afternoons in Saint-Pardoux on Sundays. So why not join us for tea and cake and a bit of fun? Our annual general meeting will be held at the Café Des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux at 11am on the Saturday 16th February 2019. English breakfast will be served at 10am. Best wishes for 2019 and please keep supporting the C.S.S.G.

A Fur-midable new charity Chats de Châtillon

Swinging back to the Sixties


by Tim Fitzgerald

ur last production saw us transported back to the Sixties (see Sue’s boots). We hope you all had as much fun watching Alan Ayckbourn’s ‘Relatively Speaking’ as we had putting it on. It was fascinating to take what was written as a modern play 50 years ago and perform it as a period piece with appropriate music to boot! Changes in language and attitudes, in particular those to women, were very clear and although we made some subtle changes, we hope we kept the authentic feel of a play written in and of the Sixties. Our heart felt thanks to everyone who braved decidedly inclement weather and not altogether clement ‘Gilet Jaunes’ to come and see the show. There is now some time for us at TheatriVasles to consider our next production and while we do, this is also the perfect time for you to join the association. If you would just like to become a member we will, among other benefits, keep you informed with our mailing list of upcoming productions and events, provide you with a free drink at each performance and extend exclusive invitations to read-throughs - and all of this for just 10€! If you would like to take a more active role, you might want to consider being part of the front of house team, the technical crew, the small army of people who help with costumes and sets or even get on stage and do a turn. However you want to get involved, we would be delighted to hear from you.


by Judy Lewis

iving in France for 11 years, like many others we accumulated a large number of house and barn cats. For some years we had also been trapping and sterilising feral cats and helping those when we could. But it was becoming more difficult to find organisations that could assist with the many abandoned kittens we were coming across. Then early summer, finding six tiny sick kittens yet again in our hedgerow, Alan my husband, quickly erected a large outside structure in which to temporarily care for them. As we rescued more from other areas we realised that the only way in which we could offer them hope was to start our own charity. We felt inspired to launch it in loving memory of our amazing cat, Afrika, who was the inspiration for our past fundraising campaign which changed the lives of so many. (If you are interested, his story is on the history page of our website). We began the arduous task of completing the necessary legal documentation to become a registered association. Alan took on the huge project of building more enclosures as we had large dog cages and playpens housing kittens everywhere. I studied for several months in order to acquire the necessary French certificate to run a refuge thinking that at 68 my studying days of French law, anatomy, transport and breeding etc., were long behind me! But in November when I received my certificate it made it all so worthwhile and Chats de Châtillon was launched. Our darling cats are housed in large secure enclosures with insulated wooden cabins overlooking the Thouet valley. We endeavour to give them everything possible to make their time with us happy. They have plenty of toys, warm bedding, thick branches to climb and we envelope them in love and kindness. Chocolat has become very adept at turning on and off his radio but has yet to learn to change channels... We love them all dearly but the greatest gift we could give them would be loving, forever-homes. Fifteen, between the age of eight weeks and nine months are currently awaiting adoption. We are desperately in need of kind foster homes as well as fundraising. Also required are your unwanted soft covers, blankets, cat beds, large water bowls, donations of clay based litter and dry cat food. One Saturday each month you will find us in the Gardening/Pet department at Mr. Bricolage Parthenay promoting our charity. We would love to meet you for a chat and introduce you to some of our beautiful kittens awaiting homes. Open adoption afternoons are held at our refuge every Sunday afternoon from 2pm to 5pm and other times by prior arrangement.

Ginny (Sue Fitzgerald) and Greg (Tim Fitzgerald) sorting out their differences after a day of assumptions and mistaken identities in TheatriVasles production of ‘Relatively Speaking’. Photo by David Brenan

If you would like to get involved please do contact us at, follow us on the TheatriVasles Facebook page or visit our website

Please visit our website: email us: or tel: 05 49 94 39 77/06 85 63 55 94 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 13


Valentine A love story?


by Alison Morton

ove is in the air in February, they say, and focuses on Valentine’s Day in the middle of the month. Valentine himself is a mystery. Two St. Valentines are listed in the Roman Martyrology for 14th February; one was a Roman priest killed in Rome in the 3rd century; the other was the Bishop of Terni, killed during the reign of emperor Claudius Gothicus (268 to 270). The two Valentines may well be the same person! So how does Valentine have such prominence today? Eighteenth century antiquarian Alban Butler (Butler’s Lives of Saints) suggested Valentine’s Day was created as an attempt to supersede the mid-February pagan holiday of Lupercalia. This idea has lately been dismissed by other researchers (and me!). Current legends about St. Valentine were first recorded in the 14th century, notably by Geoffrey Chaucer; known for a playful imagination, he probably picked a saint out of the calendar at random! “For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.” And the lovebirds legend was created… Valentine’s Day is now widely recognised as a day for romance and devotion and Valentine himself has become the patron saint of engaged couples, beekeepers, happy marriages and love. But he is also invoked against fainting, plague and epilepsy. Quite a mixed bag! So how does this help our writing? Love and emotion are a part of life, and can play a vital part in our stories. Even if you’re not writing a romance, adding a relationship will give your story spark, emotional punch and tension. Like St. Valentine’s persona, we are constructing a narrative. Romance should be woven into your story from the beginning so that it seems perfectly natural. Parachuting a random romantic element halfway through a novel to add conflict and/or spice could send your story off in a new direction. Far better when your protagonist has an attraction to another character from the start (whether either or both know it or not) and that attraction supports the plot. As the characters meet obstacles and tension ramps up, there might be moments when the two characters become closer through their common purpose with a hint that at the end they may get together. Sometimes romance can introduce a plot twist. A character may betray the protagonist and cause them a double grief. Or he/she might provide the strong faith in the protagonist that keeps them going when all seems lost. As with other types of character – best friend, business rival, boss or junior – the romantic interest may play a pivotal part in the story, or even as catalyst of the climax to the story. St. Valentine today inspires romance in the sense of attraction and a developing relationship with its hesitation, uncertainty and tenderness along the way. He is, after all, symbolic of engaged couples, happy marriages and love. But why not introduce his other aspects into your story to add layers; fainting and epilepsy for health concerns, beekeeping for environmentalism and plague for a doctor or nurse helping to save the world and finding unexpected love?

Happy writing! 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. 14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to Mary Worth and Charlie Cook for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED by Kody Keplinger It has been three years since the Virgil County High School shooting. Nine people were shot dead by a rampaging student, including Sarah who was killed in a bathroom cubicle. Everyone thinks they know Sarah’s story and how she bravely died. But it’s not true. Three years after the massacre Lee, Sarah’s best friend, decides to set the record straight. How does she know? She was there when Sarah was shot. Lee convinces the six survivors to recount the horrific events that happened on that day. She meets a lot of hostility from community members who don’t want to know the truth and are angry at her for dispelling the myth about Sarah’s death. Although this is aimed at a teenage market (I borrowed it from my niece), I found it thoroughly compelling and in no way felt distanced from the characters and events. The book is divided into sections: testimonials of those injured on the day, descriptions of those killed and Lee’s struggle to tell her version of events. The book does not focus on the rights and wrongs of gun laws in the US, rather how the ramifications of an unnamed individual’s actions, impacts on the small town community and how the events are interpreted. A thoroughly gripping and recommended read whatever your age. by Mary Worth

WRITTEN IN BONES by James Oswald James Oswald is the author of the Inspector McLean series of crime novels set in Edinburgh. This offering begins bizarrely when a body is found hanging in a tree in the city’s Meadows Park. It is obvious to the forensics people that the corpse has fallen from a great height. Is it a freak accident, or a murder designed to send a message to someone? The investigation is led by Detective Inspector Tony McLean who learns that the dead man was a philanthropist – but one with a criminal past. This case proves a real tester as he struggles for clues as to why the man has met his grisly end. In McLean’s quest for information he must expose some of the city’s low life ­–­the vulnerble and the dangerous. When more bodies are found it becomes obvious to the Inspector that someone is desperate to cover their tracks. This just makes him even more determined to find out the truth and get to the bottom of the mystery. by Charlie Cook.


by James Luxford

Happy New Year! For the first review of 2019 we’ve got four Oscar contenders for your consideration! GREEN BOOK (Out Now) Race and friendship are the subject of this touching true story set in the 60’s, about an Italian-American bouncer (Viggo Mortensen) who takes a job driving a celebrated African-American pianist (Mahershala Ali) across the Southern States of America. As the journey progresses, both men learn about the world through each other’s perspectives. Bolstered by two incredible performances from the two leads, the story is perhaps a little bit too glossy to delve into the complicated subjects it broaches, but is filled with life lessons and good intentions. THE FAVOURITE (6th February) Director Yorgos Lanthimos’ left-field historical drama has been called the front runner (or should that be favourite?) for Best Picture at the Academy Awards this year. Very quickly, it’s easy to see why, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz are both electric as two women competing for the favour of the childish and vulnerable Queen Anne (Olivia Colman). A script filled with dark humour combined with stunning cinematography to bring about a film that looks traditional, but feels like cutting edge story telling. An absolute triumph. VICE (13th February) Christian Bale gained considerable weight and shaved his head to play Dick Cheney in this biopic, where he became the true power behind the throne in the George W. Bush government, particularly post-9/11. Told in a similar fashion to 2016’s The Big Short (also directed by Adam McKay), Cheney’s story doesn’t lend itself to the same whimsical format, and as such the narration feels wayward at times, choosing cheap shots over intelligent analysis. While the storytelling may be a missed opportunity, Bale is superb in the lead role, flanked by the always excellent Amy Adams as his wife Lynne. RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET (13th February) The sequel to the wildly popular Disney animation Wreck-It Ralph sees the baddie-turned-hero Ralph (voiced by John C Reilly) and his friend Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) enter the internet in order to find a vital piece of gaming equipment. Satirising YouTube, online shopping, internet trolls and even the Disney princesses, this is a very smart follow up to a charming film that remembers to have something new to say. The characters are perfectly developed, and will warm your heart with lessons about friendship. That is, when they aren’t making you chuckle with great gags!

Release dates are nationwide in France.

Burblings from Bruxby Biddy Webber


ne of several gifts I received this year was a small book suggesting that each day I write something down to reflect upon. This led me to think about friendship, and wonder if nearest and dearest to me realise how much their friendship means. I remember at junior school someone in the playground asking “will you be my best friend?”. Then they would pick you to be on their side during PE. Some stay friends for life and even though you may not see them for a while, you can instantly pick up where you left off. This prompted me to consult my Roget's Thesaurus and see how they defined ‘friendship’: colleague, sociable person, kind person, chumminess, companionship, sisterhood, kindness, support, loyal, confidante and many more. All good words, but in the same way the two small words 'thank you' can mean so much, so can friendship. How does someone know just how much their particular friendship means to another? Maybe words aren’t needed. From my point of view it means everything… and my friendships are what gets me through the day. How others have defined friendship: “If you live to be 100, I hope I live to be 100 minus 1 day, so I never have to live without you.” – Winnie the Pooh “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” – C.S. Lewis “There’s not a word yet for old friends who’ve just met.” – Jim Henson “It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages.” – Friedrich Nietzsche “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” – Ed Cunningham


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, February 2019 | 15

Ch eeky Mo nster Soft Toy Project

by Nicola Chadwick

pieces to the e of the fusing hot iron, press sid y ck sti e th t a Pu e felt and, using g wrong side of thfuse the felt and the interfacin to n ly. at ne firmly dow es ap t out the sh together. Now cu You are now ready to sew! Step 2: Plan the face Let’s prepare the face! You can be as creative as you want - see my blog page for ideas on how to adapt he New Year is the time for new hobbies! Why not try this mini the face. You can use your sewing project? If you enjoy it, then let me know. If you would embroidery stitches here if love to learn to sew, I regularly run sewing days for beginners and you choose. advanced sewers, so get in touch. As always download your free pattern template for this project and others from my blog page at


You will need: 42cm x 27cm Main body fabric 100% cotton: 20cm x 10cm t): tras (con Arm fabric 100% cotton rfacing: 20cm x 11cm A piece of medium weight fusible inte 10cm x 12cm : A piece of any colour felt for the face 8cm x 4cm : eyes A piece of felt for the back 2cm x 4cm es: whit eye the A piece of felt for 3cm x 3cm on: butt a A small piece of felt for the nose or 14cm th: mou A short length of trim for the ad thre Good quality sewing main Good quality toy stuffing t out the es are u c s e c rv pie as the cu s ring the nd prepa is is a little trickythe notch positione a t u o g n th t th , a tti t c , u a ri C m b d : n m fa out 4 ced a Step 1 t in patterned to be pla snip in ab ewing. body firs t. Make sure you ere the arms areelp greatly when s ht arm h h g h g w ri l ti , il d e an ern is w quit e line. Th ted a left n the patt marked o ottom of the centrfour in total. I crea top and b o pairs of arms, easier. Cut out twmake cutting out for you to

Trace the shape of the fac e on to the non-sticky sid interfacing, do this for the e of the fusible making this toy for a ba eye shapes and the nose (if you are by then make a felt nose not suitable). Use the tem as a button is the fusing around the sha plates provided. Now roughly cut out pes you have traced.

or hand stitch. Next plan and Fix the eyes in place, you can machineare using a machine to secure you If last. nose stitch the mouth and your machine to a very small the eyes into position then adjust been stitched and secured stitch (1.5 length). Once the face has ic and stitch into position. fabr the onto place the completed face re line on the template cent and Use the centre notches on the body to help position the face in the middle. the arm pairs with the right sides Step 3: Preparing the arms - place ance) sew, leaving the straight together and (taking 1cm seam allow the seam allowance down a edge open to enable you to stuff. Trim little. y - place the stuffed arms to the Step 4: Place the arms to the bod a small piece of ribbon as a loop body between the notches. Position would like a hanging loop. at the centre between the ears, if you e back and Step 5: Sew thplace the back er front togeth top of the body section on sandwich, sew front to form a s (taking one ge around the ed allowance) centimetre seam ..turn the p. ga l al sm a and leave p. ga e toy through th

Step 6: Stuff the toy - once turned through, gently stuff the toy through the gap, pushing the stuffing into the ears and legs. Once stuffed, close the gap with a hand stitch.

Take a look at my blog pag for finishing your toy. I e for some extra face templates and some mo re ideas would love to see your have any questions please com email: modeliste-creativ pleted projects – or if you Next month I plan to sel like me to cover a garmeect a project requested by you. So perhaps you nt, a technique – just let would me know! Nicola 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

Creature Corner This month’s creature:

The Mouse (La Souris)


ice are found in nearly every country and type of terrain. There are more than 30 known species, the best known being the common house mouse (Mus musculus). A baby mouse is called a ‘pinky’, a male a ‘buck’ and female ‘doe’. A group of mice is commonly referred to as a family, a mischief, a horde or simply a nest of mice. Description A small rodent which typically has a pointed snout, large ears and eyes, and a long tail. They grow from 3-18cm in length (nose to base of tail) and weigh between 10-45gm. Some mice have tails that are as long as their bodies. Whiskers help them to sense smooth and rough edges, temperature change and breezes. Behaviour Mice are highly social nocturnal animals with poor eyesight but very good hearing and sense of smell. They build intricate burrows in the wild with long entrances and escape tunnels. In at least one species, the architectural design of a burrow is a genetic trait. Reproduction begins at 6-10 weeks of age, each female can give birth to as many as ten litters per year. After a short gestation period of 20 days, litters of 5-12 are born and the cycle begins again. While the average mouse lifespan is about 12 months outdoors, indoors, this can climb to two to three years.

by Steve Shaw

Action-Mouse Mice are nimble animals and can run very fast (up to 12km per hour). Also good jumpers (50cm in the air). They can jump down 3-4m without injuring themselves. They are also talented climbers and swimmers. A mouse uses its tail for balance, allowing it to travel along very narrow wires and ropes. When mice are threatened, they play dead until they feel danger has passed. Interesting facts • By flattening out their bodies, mice are able to squeeze through gaps as small as 6mm. That’s roughly the size of a pencil! • Mice have very high metabolisms, so they eat around 15-20 times a day. Due to this, most wild mice build their homes near a food source. An adult mouse has a heart rate of 632 beats per minute (plus or minus 51bpm). • Male mice serenade the females with ultrasonic loves song – other singing mammals include bats, whales and human beings! • It is a myth that mice love cheese. • The God Apollo of Ancient Greece is sometimes called Apollo Smintheus, which means Apollo the Mouse. To honor him, white mice are kept in Apollo’s temple. • The Hindu God, Lord Ganesh has a mouse as a vehicle. • Mice have a set of incisor teeth that never stop growing.

Letter from Blighty (January) Dear Frankie


hristmas has come and gone. The cards and decorations are down. The loop of slushy ‘Christmas music’ at the supermarket has fallen silent, not to be heard again for at least another 36 weeks, if we are lucky. The blessed Brexit-free holiday period is, alas, also over and Parliament is back once more filling the front pages with their plotting and squabbling. The Prime Minister’s much maligned agreement with the EU seems doomed for defeat in Parliament and no one, apparently, has a clue what happens next. As a change (or diversion) from Brexit, the Government has published a ten year plan for the NHS, mainlining on ‘prevention’ is better than ‘cure’ and ‘giving priority’ (slippery words, those) to mental health services, maternity services and those for the elderly. In the meantime, the Chinese have landed a probe on the dark side of the moon and ‘we’ have been taking photographs of Ultima Thule (pronounced ‘Tooly’, apparently, which makes it sound like some sort of sophisticated spanner), which is a mere four billion (yes, billion) miles away. Incredible achievements both, but of little or no use to the starving millions in Yemen and in solving the Ebola outbreak in the Congo, I fancy.

The obituary columns have been working overtime with the deaths of Paddy Ashdown, Baroness Trumpington, Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor and Last Tango in Paris) and Babs Beverley (aged 91) of the Beverley Sisters. More recently, June Whitfield died at the age of 93. She was a ‘national treasure’, having entertained us over some six decades (from The Glums to Ab Fab) with her brilliant and understated comic timing. When she had a rose named after her, she took delight in seeing that

it was described in the catalogue as ‘vigorous and superb for bedding’. Less significant items which may have passed you by include the decision by the National Trust to cull the wild boar which have invaded their Stourhead estate. Opposed by animal rights groups, of course, and inevitably dubbed the ‘Boar War’. The Wizard of Oz was voted the most influential film of all time, followed by Star Wars and Psycho. Some say that the greatest opening line in English literature is from P.G. Wodehouse’s The Luck of the Bodkins: “Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique in Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French”. And on matters French, did you see that the TV prop painting from ‘Allo, ‘Allo (entitled ‘The Fallen Madonna with the Big Boobies’ and supposedly painted in the 15th century by one Van Clomp) was sold at auction recently for £15,000? Nice work if you can get it. I don’t do New Year resolutions, do you? I take after my father who every year announced that his New Year resolution was to give up smoking; this from a man who had never smoked in his life. I do, however, plan to eat less meat, particularly beef, and to use less water. My way of saving the planet. Trendy gesture or pious hope? I don’t know but hopefully ‘every little helps’. Anyway, belatedly, ‘Happy New Year’. Yours Johnny

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 17

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


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Everyday Yoga for Everyone The slow turn


ur first yoga session of 2019 was simple, undemanding, and quiet. Anything else, would have felt out of pace with the season. Winter has a personality all of its own. Taciturn, contemplative and introverted. Everything seems to slow down, including our bodies. We shut down parts of our houses, retreating into smaller spaces like hibernating rabbits. The colder weather and longer periods of darkness seem to cry out for earlier nights and later mornings. The earth becomes a quieter and darker place, like a giant cave—a place to snuggle up with a book and a hot cup of cocoa, not a place to rush around organising and forging new plans.

All those extra treats during the holidays, and higher than usual amounts of socialising with family and friends, combined with less sun and colder weather, give the New Year its particular flavour, where everything feels like a slow turn with a heavy load, which can give rise to a general feeling of, “[Groan], do I have to?” To rub salt into the wound, there is this subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) societal pressure to give something up such as alcohol, sugar, coffee, or to take something up—like swimming or yoga. It’s hard enough just getting back into our normal routine without having to add something new to it or take something familiar away. There are biological reasons why we feel slower in the winter. The shorter days mean less sunlight, which makes our body produce more of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Too much melatonin can lead to fatigue, and even depression. We may seek higher amounts of fat in our diets to protect us from the cold, and since fats take longer to digest, our digestive system also slows down. Additionally, when it’s cold our blood vessels constrict, limiting the amount of blood that flows to the skin’s surface and redirecting it internally. This biological phenomenon reflects the 18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 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

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: by Rebecca Novick

general atmosphere of winter, where nature itself seems to be redirected internally and all signs of life go underground. There are things we can do to protect our health during the winter. Without so much sunshine we can become deficient in the ‘sunshine vitamin’ vitamin D, so we can eat more fatty fish, beef liver, egg yolks and cheese and take long wintry walks in the gorgeous Deux-Sèvres countryside. However, there is something to be said for simply respecting this time of the season for its own special qualities. Instead of approaching the New Year with a rush of guilty panic about overindulgence and low productivity, we can take a leaf out of nature’s book, and gradually and respectfully orient ourselves towards the next phase of our lives, much like the silent fallow fields of the Gâtine, that are invisibly preparing for spring.

Respect yourself, explore yourself.

For details on yoga classes email: or follow Rebecca on

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across: Down: 1. Woody tropical grass (6) 2. User icon on computer screen 4. A road that encircles an urban (6) area so that traffic does not 3. Small rough-coated British pass through the centre (6) dog (6-7) 8. Capital city of Egypt (5) 5. Rain (13) 9. Largest species of penguin (7) 6. Overly conceited or arrogant 10. Filled with a great quantity (5) (6) 11. A giant Philistine warrior who 7. Mongolian ruler whose was slain by David (7) empire stretched from 12. A datum that can be the Black Sea to the Pacific represented numerically (9) Ocean (1162-1227) (7-4) 15. Patron saint of Ireland (7) 13. Sixth planet from the sun (6) 16. Move in a pattern to music (5) 14. Create by shaping wood 17. A republic in NW Africa on or stone or any other hard the Mediterranean coast (7) material (6) 18. Country house in ancient Rome (5) 19. False (6) 20. Give to charity (6) With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

Brain Gym Q1. Q2. Q3. Q4. Q5. Q6.

A man is lying shot on the road. The police come to investigate. Right away, they know who shot him. Why? What do you give to others but still try to keep? What has 13 hearts but no organs? Three men are on a boat. The boat sinks but only two people get their hair wet. Why? What does everyone need, want, and ask for but never take? The more you take, the more you leave behind. What am I?

Down 1. Buttons gets log rewritten. (7) 2. Twice a year it’s strangely quiet, with time off and no perverted sex! (9) 3. Branch of service not unknown. (3) 4. Whack with clamps to make doubly sure? (4, 3, 6) 5. Naughty rats pinch what kept covering in place? (9) 6. Bruce perhaps found in shelter? (3) 7. Fashion something that yields less energy at first. (5) 11. It cures on roast turkey, or chile for example? (9) 12. Ends relationship when attacking the reds? (6, 3) 14. Composed robber from Newcastle? (7) 15. Under pressure, dropped egg on shoulder sash? (5) 18. Misrepresent where the ball comes to rest? (3) 19. Reckoning is incomplete, according to hearsay? (3)


Word scramble ytmcidmoo (something that is bought and sold)


1.2 × 0.9 + 7=


1.3 × 0.9 + 5=


Can you work out the well known phrase or sayings from the visual clues?





The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 19

Answers on P.36 and our website:

Across 1. A little gratitude for article in letter from Greece. (5) 4. Coe upset about bad luck, so folds. (7) 8. Going nuts over hairy mammal! (3) 9. Poorly elected queen keeping within limits of many clothing items. (9) 10. Coal tongs used to be for putting on top of your wardrobe? (4, 5) 12. First, bat your eyelashes, then say a hasty farewell? (3) 13. Determined war run with deranged, seedy ex in struggle to provide attractive outfit? (4, 9) 15. Hard to be taken off offensive result of infection? (3) 16. Gates to pay for travel around on mountains? (9) 17. Pile-up with scale model of every one on the board. (3, 6) 20. Getting agreement in Paris talks? With thanks to M.Morris (3) 21. No publicity for where one can be found in robes? (7) 22. Those initiating Manchester United football training institute are not in uniform. (5)

Home & Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


Now is the time to: • • • • • • • •

hope that you have all enjoyed the Christmas celebrations and have had a healthy and contented start to the New Year. Although much colder during the last fortnight or so and the frosts have been hard and heavy, there is still a chance to work outside doing a few small jobs and breathing in the clean, clear air that we all enjoy here. I like the garden at this time as it is so much easier to note what needs to be done, to evaluate the structure, plan improvements, and look at what spaces remain unplanted and perhaps where certain shrubs and perennials can be divided to fill gaps and to spread their colour around.

• •

Before the first frost, I brought together the ginger lilies and the lemon trees in their pots, to protect them with zip-up fleece, as they are too big now to go into the greenhouse. Hopefully they will all survive. The temperatures during December remaining so warm, 12° and 13° in our area, the fuchsias were beginning to put on new growth, so I clipped back the straggly, weaker looking stems and popped them under cover. I bought lots of new bulbs this year, amongst them, camassias of different colours, grape hyacinths with variegated blue petals and fluffy top knots and a cream variety of Ornithogalum. The yellow variety is common in our hedgerows here and is very like an orchid in appearance. Some bulbs I didn’t get into the ground until the middle of December as the rainfall had been so heavy and the soil was waterlogged. I’m sure they will flower but maybe just a bit later than usual.

• • •

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Plant heathers and wallflowers for spring colour, perfume and nectar for the bees. Sweet peas can be sown in pots now and placed in a greenhouse, cold frame or on a sunny window sill to germinate. Those already sown in the autumn should be big enough now to be potted on. Start pruning wisteria - cut back hard the current season’s growth and side shoots to about 5cm or to within two or three buds of the older wood. Deadhead winter flowering pansies and violas to keep them flowering. Cut stems of late flowering clematis close to soil level. Trim away suckers from the base of trees and roses. Prune ornamental vines. Cut away old splotchy leaves on hellebores. The dark splotches are caused by a fungus and the leaves eventually turn yellow and die. Plant lily bulbs in pots for summer flowering. Check plants in pots for vine weevil damage (notches on leaf edges). Winter prune apple and pear trees to create an open, goblet shaped tree with about five main branches. Harvest winter vegetables and continue to protect winter greens with netting to deter pigeons. Deciduous hedges can be planted now and those which have outgrown their space can be moved and replanted elsewhere as long as the ground is not frozen or waterlogged. Prune blackcurrants by removing about one third of the oldest stems at ground level to encourage new basal shoots. Keep indoor cyclamen cool and in a good light and try not to over water, always water from below. Renew the top layer of compost on potted plants and replace with a fresh layer; azaleas and rhododendrons require ericaceous compost. Cut leaves off epimediums to expose the small flowers. Cut back perennial grasses, removing all brown stalks before new green growth appears. Trim down old stalks and leaves of agapanthus. If in pots, check for waterlogging as they hate wet cold ‘feet’. Cover established crowns of rhubarb to force an early sweeter crop. Continue to plant raspberry canes and fruit bushes. Sow chilli seeds and place in the greenhouse or on a window sill to germinate. Take hard wood cuttings from roses if not done already. Start chitting potatoes in an old egg tray, they should be ready to plant out in mid-March. Spray peach trees with Bordelaise mixture to prevent leaf curl disease. Prune to shape fig trees, wearing gloves if sensitive to the sap. Cut out any suckers at the base of the tree. Take hardwood cuttings of viburnum, honeysuckle and rosa glauca. Should we have snow fall, remove it from branches and greenhouse roofs. Mulch flower beds and vegetable plots.

Potentially Harmful Plants

I have been reading about potentially harmful plants that we may all be growing in our gardens, perhaps being unaware that some may present a risk to us or our pets. This isn’t meant to be scaremongering but it is better to have information and be protected than to have an unfortunate event which may make someone ill or worse. Obviously

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

children and pets are more at risk than adults. A comment made by an RHS advisor was “to treat all plants unless known to be edible, to be potentially harmful, and care should be taken to limit contact and to take normal hygiene measures such as hand washing”. Wearing gloves is a good protection. The Horticultural Trades Association(HTA) produce a list of potentially harmful plants and this same list is available from the RHS at There are many other sites on the Internet where more detailed information can be found. It is just to raise awareness, but it might be useful to have a list in the garden shed, greenhouse or on your gardening bookshelf just for reference. Children and pets are most at risk of ingesting plant material and this might cause digestive upset, discomfort or in some cases severe poisoning. If this happens with a child, seek medical help immediately (taking the plant with you), do not try to make them vomit. With a pet seek a vets advice as soon as possible, again taking the plant with you. Most symptoms of serious ingestion can include any of the following: vomiting, diarrhoea, respiratory difficulties, convulsions, abdominal pain, disorientation or cardiac arrest. Some plants cause contact reactions - we’ve all been stung by stinging nettles, but sap can cause a reaction too. From what I have read, it is best to assume that most plants are poisonous to pets and maybe us, in some degree or another. ‘All parts’ indicates leaves, flowers, roots, seeds and sap.

All the very best for 2019 with everything you do, especially in the garden.


Agrostemma Corn cockle.............

all parts poisonous

Alliums ......................................

poisonous to cats and dogs

Alocasia ......................................

all parts poisonous

Aloe ...........................................

leaf sap is poisonous

Anthurium ..................................

all parts poisonous

Arisaema cobra lily ...................

all parts poisonous

Azaleas and Rhododendrons .......

all parts particularly for pets

Bulbs generally...........................

all parts of plants grown from bulbs can be toxic

Brugmansia angel’s trumpet.......

leaves, flowers and seeds

Castor oil plant Ricinus communis

all parts particularly seeds


all parts poisonous

Daphne ......................................

all parts particularly berries

Deadly Nightshade.....................

all parts especially berries


all parts especially the seeds particularly for pets


especially foliage and roots

Euonymus spindle tree................

all parts


all parts, sap very irritant

Foxglove Digitalis.......................

all parts


all parts


all parts

Hemlock - grows in the wild........

all parts poisonous

Ivy Hedera sp. ...........................

berries/leaves toxic


all parts especially seeds

Lily of the valley.........................

all parts

Lilies Asiatique etc. ....................

all parts toxic to cats


all parts

Lords and ladies, cuckoo-pint.....

red berries are toxic

Monkshood (skullcap) .................

all parts


all parts

Morning glory Ipomoea............. Oleander.....................................

seeds toxic if ingested all parts and smoke if burnt


all parts especially seeds

Yew Taxus sp. .............................

all parts - can be fatal when ingested by animals

Pigs appear to be the only animals that can survive eating


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 21

79380 La Forêt-sur-Sèvre

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

Our Furry Friends


I’m Idris and I’m a cross berger of five and a half years. I’m brilliant with other dogs and would love to live with a canine friend, as I enjoy to run and play with my ball. A real outsider, but I adore my comfy bed at night too. My foster mum says I’m obedient, calm and that I respond to basic commands. I love humans almost as much as my canine friends. I’m castrated, chipped, vaccinated, wormed and treated for ticks and fleas. I’m ready and looking forward to meet you.

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

Bilbo and Frodo Two beagles who were found together are separately looking for a foster or permanent home. They are quite nervous, so a calm environment where they can learn to trust and enjoy life as a family dog. If you’re interested in them or fostering for us, please get in touch.

The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email: Visit the website: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 23

Where We Live...


After graduating from Mountview Theatre School in Crouch End, North London with diplomas in hand, they took on a variety of theatre jobs some paid, some not or ‘profit-share’ as they are called in thespian circles. Stephen’s early triumphs included the Scarecrow in ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and a leper in a touring production of ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. Anna’s portrayal of the Glowworm in a production of ‘James and the Giant Peach’ is still talked about in Cumbernauld. The couple were married at St Mary’s church, Rickmansworth on leap day 1992, saving money on anniversary gifts for years to come.

Anna and Stephen Shaw

From stage to page


t is nearly a year since Anna and Stephen Shaw upped sticks, moved to France and took over the running of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine. Never having done anything like this before, it was less of a learning curve, more of a vertical line. But what had they been doing before they decided to shake their lives up like so many before them? This is their story.

“Where are you from?” Asked Anna the young Aberdonian drama student. “Oh you won’t have heard of it. I’m from a small town near Watford called Rickmansworth”. Replied Stephen, another young drama student. “I worked as a nanny in Rickmansworth, before coming to drama school. It was the worst year of my life.” And so it was the two drama students first met. Little did they know, thirty three years, two children, several houses and one ageing Labrador later, they would be moving to rural France to start the next chapter of their life.

Eager to get on the property ladder, they bought a small flat in not so leafy (as it was then) Leytonstone, East London. With the screaming sirens, distant riots in Tottenham and M11 link road protesters living in the trees it wasn’t the most sought after area in London, but it had the essential amenities close by: off licence, Indian takeaway and tube station....and it was theirs. Anna’s father ran his own local newspaper in Aberdeenshire and asked Stephen if he fancied submitting a cartoon each month. To supplement the acting, Stephen started cartooning for a variety of publications, including ‘Shoe and Leather News’, ‘Koi Carp Monthly’ and ‘Trucking International’. After the birth of their first child, Murray, they decided that they didn’t want their cockney offspring growing up in East London, so decided to move to Peterborough, where Stephen had performed in pantomime a few times. It was also on the main line route to Aberdeen and they could afford a house, with garden. In Peterborough, as well as appearing in the pantomimes, Stephen managed to put his artistic skills to use and started painting the scenery too. So for several years the panto season began in August and finished in February. After their second child, Mia, was born, Anna started working for the other great institution in Peterborough, the cathedral. She became administrator for the charitable trust, tasked with raising funds for the upkeep of the historic building. Not known for her religious beliefs it was a strange place for her to spend her days, but over the eleven years she was there she became very attached to the building and the people she worked with. With two young children, Stephen felt the time was right to hang up his tights and bid farewell to pantoland. So, he packed his spotted handkerchief tied on to the end of a stick and headed into the world of teaching. He started teaching drama at the Peterborough Regional College but when a £60 million pound uber-academy was built right next door to the college, Stephen was lured over the fence and into the crazy world of Secondary Education. The

Below left: Stephen and Anna at drama school. Centre: Tying the knot on the 29th February 1992 (leap day), in Rickmansworth. Right: Stephen in pantoland.

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

by Stephen Shaw

Above left: Jaunasse, not a straight wall in sight. Centre: Stephen, Anna, Murray and Mia then. Right: Murray and Mia now.

academy was an amalgamation of three local secondary schools and with 2500 pupils, made it the largest school in the country. The state of the art building was designed by Norman Foster (who also designed the ‘London Gherkin’) and possessed all the latest state-of-the-art resources, although when it rained strategic buckets were placed to catch the water from the dripping roof. This was all pre-austerity and it seemed that almost overnight the money dried up, and the academy was looking for ways to reduce costs. Even the high-tech coffee machine was wrenched from the wall and replaced with a jumbo tin of instant coffee. Stephen was responsible for the annual school musical and used to work himself into a lather with worry. With main characters dropping out at the last minute and a constant reshuffling of parts Stephen’s nerves were shredded. Every March when the musical was performed the Shaw household would be raided for chairs, tables and an assortment of props for Grease, Bugsy Malone, Hairspray etc. Anna would be driven mad by Stephen singing the same songs for six months around the house ‘Look At Me I’m Sandra Dee’ or ‘Sit Down You’re Rockin the Boat’. An evil plan had been forming in Anna’s head and now the time was right to share it with husband. First she showed him the website of a beautiful Gîte in South-West France, Saint-Jean-d’Angély. She then started listing the wonderful things about the PoitouCharentes region, producing a map with an ominous triangle marked in felt-tip pen. She had been researching properties in the area (triangle) and thought that in the second week of the holiday, they had just booked, viewings could be lined up. The seed had been planted. In reality the triangle covered more land than expected and the relaxing holiday turned into a road trip, driving three to four hours a day to different parts of the South-West. Fifteen minutes drive north of Parthenay is a small hamlet called Jaunasse and it was here the couple found what they had been looking old farmhouse with oodles of character, several barns and outhouses in various stages of collapse, an acre of land, bags of potential and not a straight wall in sight. On the day of exchange Stephen recalls “We had driven, without incident, all the way from Lincolnshire in a hired van containing a few token pieces of furniture. On arrival at our property-to-be, in my excitement, I crashed the van into our soon-to-be gatepost, leaving a large scrape along the side. Anna later tried to remove some of the paint the gatepost had left with a scourer, but managed to remove large sections of the van’s paint as well. “There was a distinct feeling the owners (an elderly English couple)

were trying to keep us from entering the property in case we had second thoughts. Anna was given a tour of the surrounding amenities (dechetterie, bricolage, recycling area etc.) and I was given a whistle-stop tour of barns, outhouses and how everything external worked (swimming pool filter, chlorinator, fosse, water pump etc) none of which I was taking in as all I could think about was how much the van hire company would charge us for the damage. Later, when reunited and quizzed by Anna on what I had learnt, the only thing I could remember was that if we put the wrong substance in the chlorinator it would explode...what that substance was I couldn’t tell her. “They had offered us the odd piece of furniture to help us out, but post-exchange when we eventually crossed the threshold we discovered this was somewhat of an understatement, they had left everything! The house was full of all their stuff; and they had been avid car-booters. Inside it had the appearance of a vide grenier. We spent the following few hours removing all their old furniture and knick-knacks to a nearby barn. We were then about to start unloading our furniture but couldn’t get the rear door of the van open, so everything had to be extracted through the side door. As we staggered back into the house, carrying a sofa, we were plunged into complete darkness as all the lights went out. It was then our new life in France, with all its highs and lows began.” For the following two years Stephen and Anna ping-ponged backwards and forwards. Every holiday or half-term the car would be crammed full with their possessions including ageing Labrador, and at 3.15pm, the end of the school day, they would squeeze themselves into the car and head south. On a wet afternoon in February 2018 Stephen said goodbye to all his friends and colleagues at The Thomas Deacon Academy, where he had been teaching for ten years and walked out of the school gate for the last time, dumping his school bag in a nearby bin. Anna pulled up with a car full of their remaining goods, chattels and Lucy the Lab. After a look of anticipation, they set off as the next chapter in their story began. Left: The fifth member of the family, Lucy the Lab, with her lucky conker.

Do you have an interesting story to share? We’d love to hear from you. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 25

Communications Do you really need Microsoft Office?


icrosoft Office is a suite of programs that most people who have used computers for work needed to use. I am certain you will recognise the main components, a word processor called Word, the spreadsheet tool Excel, the presentation program PowerPoint and a personal information manager called Office Outlook, with this you could send and receive emails store your contacts names and addresses and other information. There are several other components to Microsoft’s Office Suite but they are less commonly used. MS Office has really seen off most of the competition over the last 30 years and seems to be the standard set of programs for office workers to use. But is it really necessary for everyone who has a PC to have it? In reality the most essential tool is the word processor, we all need to write a letter from time to time, or create a set of labels or produce a list etc. Many of us remember the time when these programs were not compatible, so we couldn’t send an electronic letter to someone with the knowledge they could read it!

by Ross Hendry

3. WPS Office Free This is a reduced version of a premium office suite, but most users find it does everything that they require. This software is available for Windows, Linux and Android, sadly not for Apple devices. Download from -

4. Polaris Office I first came across this suite of commercially produced programs on an Android telephone, the free version is supported by adverts and the Windows version bundled with a browser extension from McAfee, WebAdvisor, PremierOpinion and an AV suite, you can decline these when installing the program, the adverts are removed in the paid version. Download from -

Those days have gone, and there are many excellent ‘Office like’ programs available free of charge (not just a free trial), provided by giants like Google and Sun Microsystems. There are also opensource products maintained by teams of volunteers such as LibreOffice. There is also a need for these programs to work across platforms e.g. an Android tablet, laptop, phone, iPad or a laptop running Windows, Linux or Google Chrome. So before you go and buy a licence or subscriptions for Microsoft Office have a look at some of the brilliant free alternatives. 1. LibreOffice Is fully compatible with Microsoft Office formats, most people who try it wonder why they ever paid for MS Office. Containing six programs namely Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Math and Base, this desktop software is available for Windows, Mac and Linux. Download from -

2. Google Docs, Sheets and Slides Not 100% compatible with MS Office, the three modules of Google Docs, Slides and Sheets are online alternatives and have the advantage of working on Windows, Mac, Linux and Android. Download from -

5. SoftMaker FreeOffice Once again this is a free version of a commercial product, similar to LibreOffice and ApacheOpenOffice. Available for Windows, Linux and Mac it has three modules: TextMaker for word processing, PlanMaker for spreadsheets and Presentations for slideshows. Download from -

The best way to find a version that suits you is to download and install each one and try it, you can always uninstall the ones you don’t like. Many people purchase MS Office because they like the email and contact management programme, Office Outlook, none of the alternatives offer this. Next month I will look at alternatives to Microsoft’s Office Outlook. There are many other free office type program suites available. Do not be afraid to download, install and give them a try. 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).

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

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, February 2019 | 27

Food & Drink Bond and Booze


ow was Christmas for you? I know it’s in the distant past now but you have to have some jolly memory to hold onto in this dreariest of months. I got socks. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for sympathy, I asked for them. It’s a sign of graceful and practical ageing. Men might wear socks but they never think to buy them, they’re just there. This year’s batch are rather colourful with idiosyncratic patterns and when I sit and cross my legs to reveal my gastrocnemius and soleus muscles I like to think I cut a bit of a dash. Ah, self-delusion, another sign of ageing. But as ace as they might be (and they are), and as grateful as I might be (and I am), they are not a Beano annual, nor a tin lighthouse with planes on wires that go round when you wind something up, nor a James Bond Aston Martin in a wee cardboard box. That car was fab. It had missiles that shot out the front, a metal panel that clicked up at the back to deflect dastardly bullets, and an ejector seat. My dad liked it too, but being an IPA man he was a bit vague as to what ‘shaken not stirred’ meant and he always went off to do a spot of gardening whenever I mentioned that Pussy Galore was a very odd name for a girl. Bond was very much a champagne chap. The only book where he doesn’t get his tonsils round the bubbly is ‘From Russia with Love’. In fact one of the foremost writers on champagne has credited Bond’s creator, Ian Fleming, with giving English drinkers a taste for blanc de blancs champagne – that is champagne made from 100% chardonnay grapes. Taittinger Blanc de Blancs features in ‘Casino Royale’ and ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. But just as Bond was not a one woman man, he spreads his favours drink-wise. Clicquot Rosé appears in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’ (“a faint hint of strawberries”) and ‘Thunderball’ where Bond drinks it with Beluga caviar - one of my favourite combos after a full English on a Sunday morning. Dom Pérignon is quaffed in ‘Moonraker’, Bollinger in ‘Diamonds Are Forever’, Pommery pink (drunk from 1-pint silver tankards) in ‘Goldfinger’, and Krug in ‘OHMSS’. But as we well know, Bond was not all froth. He was fond of MoutonRothschild, taking a 1947 with roast duckling in ‘Goldfinger’ and a 1953 with roast partridge in ‘OHMSS’. Other reds include Kavaklidere from the oldest and best known winery in Turkey, made in the style of a rich, coarse Burgundy, which appears in ‘From Russia With Love’, as does Chianti Broglio which Bond shares with Tatiana on the train back from Istanbul. An otherwise nameless Chianti is taken with spag bol in Brighton in ‘Thunderball’. ‘Macon’ is the preferred tipple with a picnic of sausage, bread and butter in ‘Goldfinger’. Now, I have to be a bit of a stickler here as Macon wines are predominantly white and that wouldn’t really do with said feast. If, however, Fleming was out by only a few kilometres then we’d be into Beaujolais country and a nice chilled bottle from there would indeed go a treat with any kind of charcuterie. White wines (apart from bubblies) are few and far between. In ‘Goldfinger’ Bond has a carafe of Fendant for dinner in Geneva. This is a Swiss wine made from chasselas grapes. Ahem, enough said. Much nearer the mark is the Piesporter Goldtropfchen Bond drinks with Auric Goldfinger. Piesport is a lovely village in the Mosel valley and ‘goldtropfchen’ means ‘little drop of gold’ which this Riesling certainly is. ‘Riquewihr’ makes an appearance in ‘OHMSS’ where Draco (one of the baddies) compares it to ‘cat’s pee’. Really? I have another problem

by John Sherwin

here. (You, yes you at the back, I am not a wine nerd.) The grape usually described as ‘cat’s pee’ (more fully ‘cat’s pee on a gooseberry bush’) is sauvignon blanc. Sauvignon blanc is not grown in Alsace. Riquewihr is a village in Alsace. Do I get my prize now? What would Dorothy Parker have made of all this? Having first noted that February is international non sequitur month she would probably have ordered her favourite, a martini, of which she once wrote ‘I love to drink Martinis, two at the very most, three I’m under the table, four I’m under the host’. Ernest Hemingway might have swung by, also for a Martini which to his recipe should be with ‘just enough vermouth to wet the bottom of the glass, ¾ ounce of gin, and frozen Spanish cocktail onions’. And who’s that waltzing in? Why, if it isn’t F. Scott Fitzgerald. A gin rickey if you please – gin and lime with club soda. John Steinbeck elbows up to the bar for a Jack Rose – applejack, lime and grenadine. Cheers! All is bonhomie, then the barroom door swings open to reveal… a couple of poncey Brits. Arm in arm, Evelyn Waugh and Somerset Maugham, both aficionados of the Stinger. Brandy, crème de menthe, dry vermouth, shaken with cracked ice. Dot, Ernie, Scott and John look at them then at each other. Is that drink for real? Are these guys for real? Evelyn and Somerset take a seat and flame a couple of Sobranies. Is Ian not here yet? Better order another Stinger for him, one of his favourites, says Evelyn. Still stuck in Jamaica, says Somerset, he’s sending… A creak of the swing door. It was a hideous creature, an identikit mishmash of the worst features of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. With a couple of blobs of George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton to emphasise the awfulness. Bond. James Bond, the newcomer said. The James sounded more like Jaymsh and it came with a sheepish dribble. He handed over a small piece of paper to the barman. Mr Fleming asked me to bring this recipe to share with you all, he said. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it? This, dear friends, is a direct quote from Casino Royale. The original recipe of the Bond Martini, more properly known (for all you quizzers out there) as the Vesper Martini, named after Bond’s love interest, Vesper Lynd. It was so christened because once you’ve tasted it you won’t want anything else. Ahem, again. Anyway, once you’ve tasted it you probably won’t be able to pronounce anything else. One final observation. Studies (by people even more boring and with more time on their hands than me) have shown that Bond consumed 1150 units of alcohol in 88 days which works out as 92 units a week – about five vodka martinis a day, four times the recommended maximum intake for men. There has to be a reason why no cocktail, to my knowledge, has been called ‘Erectile Dysfunction’. Toodle-oo!

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or 28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

Happy New Year


by Jacqueline Brown

appy New Year! I hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and that 2019 is a healthy one for us all. Having seen the New Year in with a cold, sharing sniffy moments with my Vicks nasal inhaler, and a red nose to rival Rudolf, I hope that is my share of germs done and dusted for the year. I am certainly making healthy eating my focus for 2019 and am off to a great start. Alcohol and meat have now become a treat rather than a regular on my plate (or in my glass) and although I’m not overly upset with these changes, the fact that cheese has gone too, is a little bit more difficult to swallow, especially in winter. I am busy searching out alternatives now that my favourite comfort meals like tarteflette, and its high salt content, is a no go. Thankfully mozzarella has come to my rescue. Rather than the 2.6g of salt per 100g for tarteflette cheese (plus the extra salt in the lardons), mozzarella baked with potatoes and onions gives a similar cheesy experience at only 0.4g of salt per 100g. My new friend mozzarella has also saved our weekly homemade pizza night from being axed too, phew! Even with a three-week family visit to the UK I managed an almost alcohol, meat and cheese free Christmas, which I think earned me a reward. As luck would have it, the day we returned coincided with an invitation to an all French choucroute soirée. Oh my! A couple of Kir Royales, to wish us all a happy and healthy New Year, followed by heaped platters of gammon, smoked sausages, potatoes and cabbage, served with beer and Alsace white wine, should have sent me running for home. However, with the indoor temperature at home only 4° I did the sensible thing, stayed

put and tucked in with gusto. It was delicious and by the time I had over-indulged on the meat, turning away the cheese platter seemed a bit pointless, especially as it was a cumin topped Munster that went so well with a small glass of red wine. Oh France, what a temptress you are with your fantastic cuisine and perfectly paired wines. Even my first French coffee of the year was perfection in a cup; the size, the price and the location (a quirky French bar with its advertising posters that weren’t afraid to show feminine curves, silhouettes or nipples) it was so much more ‘me’ than Costa in the UK and I am so happy to be home. Alongside healthy eating, I am also determined to up my cycling in France this year and hoping to explore an unknown region (or two) on a bike tour. Funnily enough, Alsace now seems to have moved itself to the top of my touring wish list. I have also set myself a 2019 cycling challenge – to cycle 2019km. Last year I pedalled around 700km, so I do hope I’ve not set my sights too high. Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 29


by Helen Tait-Wright


recently discovered a very inspirational lady, and I thought I would share her with you. She came on to my radar via the Land Rover connection.

Her philosophy was that “ Life is gloriously free and, if you really want to do anything, nothing and no one can stop you.” How fantastic.

At the age of 42, Barbara Toy, a theatrical director and playwright bought herself a Series 1 Land Rover and set off from London towards Baghdad.

I feel humbled and inspired by this woman’s achievements, and I am now on a mission to find and read her books, so if anyone happens to have one lurking on a dusty shelf, please let me know! However, any book reading will have to wait until after our own Land Rover adventure!

She travelled alone and was one of the pioneers of long distance overland expeditions. In fact, she was the first woman to make such a trip. While within Land Rover circles, the first great Land Rover expedition is regarded as the 1955 Oxford and Cambridge Far Eastern Expedition, I might argue that Barbara’s trip should be regarded as such. Some time after Christmas in 1950, just two years after the launch of the Land Rover, she, and her Land Rover Pollyanna crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and followed the Mediterranean coastline of North Africa, travelling through French Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, to Cyprus, then down through Lebanon, Syria and through Jordan to Iraq. She published an account of her travels in 1955 under the title ‘A Fool on Wheels: Tangier to Baghdad by Land-Rover’ but as yet I have been unable to track down a copy.

Left: Barbara Toy and ‘Pollyanna’ (Love that she is wearing heels!) Right: Reunited in later life

Under sponsorship from Land Rover, she made five further expeditions, including a round the world trip in 1956-7, and then, in 1990, at the age of 81, she set off on her second world tour in the original Pollyanna, which she completed.

2019 is here and for our GAZELLES, it’s Rallye year!


e caught up with Helen and Haley as they prepare the final checklists for all the items necessary for scrutineering, and make sure Priscilla the Land Rover is in good order. Back in December the girls were in Avignon for their navigation course. “The course went very well” says Haley. “Despite initial misgivings, it all started to make sense and we completed the final assessment exercise without too much difficulty” “It was a great opportunity to meet the other Gazelles as well” continues Helen. “Team 111 are also in a Defender - all the Landy Ladies together!” Over the Christmas holidays the girls have found some much needed new sponsors, who include locals Kelly and Mitch Knight of Kelly’s Pampering and MKR GenPower respectively. “It’s the best feeling when our friends back us to this extent” says Haley. “We are very lucky”. By the time this article comes out, the Team should be on the cover of Land Rover Owner International magazine! “The Land Rover community have been so supportive” says Helen. With the clock ticking down the girls still have some last minute funds to raise and will be organising a Quiz Night at the Salle de Fetes in Bouillé-Saint-Paul on 16th February. Why don’t you go along and support them? In the next issue we will give you all the information about how to follow the adventure in real time.

Top picture: Helen and Haley on the navigation course. Below: Priscilla rockin’ and rollin’.

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019



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FIND the CHEAPEST FUEL prices in your area. This government run website provides comparative petrol and diesel prices in all areas of France. Just simply select your department from the map, and voilĂ !

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 31

Building & Renovation

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 33


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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 35


Fabulous February

ome people don’t like the month of February. It’s as if there should be a hole in the calendar. Yes it’s cold, wet and notquite-spring-yet, but February has plenty of other good stuff going for it. Here are some reasons to be cheerful and to embrace the month of February: • • • • • • • • • • •

Easter eggs have already hit the shelves. January’s over! We can ditch the diet and stop the pretence. Drinking seems even more fun now, after a month of trying to abstain. Being a short month, you won’t be nearly as skint in the last week as you usually are. The 15th February (Valentine’s is over for another year). Chinese New Year starts on the 5th – “gong xi fa cai” everyone! February frequently occurs in lists of the most commonly misspelt words in the English language. Much Ado About Nothing is the only Shakespeare play that mentions February. February is the only month that can pass without a full moon. This was the case in 2018. The Saxon term for February is Solmonath, means ‘cake month’. The days are getting longer, the evenings lighter, and before you know it, it will be spring. Hoorah!

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

Take a Break - SOLUTION

Easy Crossword: Across: 1. bamboo 4. bypass 8. Cairo 9. emperor 10. laden 11. Goliath 12. statistic 15. Patrick 16. dance 17. Tunisia 18. villa 19. untrue 20. donate Down: 2. avatar 3. Border Terrier 5. precipitation 6. snooty 7. Genghis Khan 13. Saturn 14. sculpt Toughie Crossword: Theme - Clothing Across: 1. theta 4. buckles 8. gnu 9. millinery 10. long coats 12. bye 13. sexy underwear 15. pus 16. turnpikes 17. all pieces 20. oui 21. dresses 22. mufti Down: 1. toggles 2. equinoxes 3. arm 4. belt and braces 5. chinstrap 6. Lee 7. style 11. countries 12. breaks off 14. Rossini 15. plaid 18. lie 19. sum


He is only shot, not dead A promise A deck of cards The third man was bald Advice

Q6. Footsteps Q7. commodity Q8. 8.08 Q9. 6.17 Q10. a) Ok By Me b) All in A Days Work

Business & Finance Marketing Matters

Educational posts - can you teach your audience something? It could be a ‘how to….’ post; how to crochet a hat; how to make a particular tasty dish, a new exercise to combat belly fat or in my case - how to market your small business. These posts help to set you up as an expert in your field and inspires confidence in what you do.

Dialogue/chatty posts – these kind of posts are encouraging your followers to interact with you. Ask a question, and be genuinely interested in the answers you get; run a poll to find out your followers’ opinion on a particular subject; publish a post of something that interests you, maybe your favourite holiday destination, with a caption that says why you like it – then ask what your followers’ favourite destination is and why?

Personal posts – I’ve read that it’s not a good idea to share too much from our personal lives. However, there is a time and place to engage with your audience on a personal level, to connect with your audience and show them you are a real person! You could share photos of your pet or an event you’ve been to; a place you love to visit and why or maybe what you’d like to do if you won the lottery! This makes you a real person that your customers can relate to, but worth noting to limit these to a couple of times a month.

Promotional posts for your business – YES, there is space for this too! Share new products or services and how they can help your customers; a discount; buy one, get one free; recommend a friend. Also share customer referrals and testimonials

by Cindy Mobey


Start your New Year with a Bang!

appy New Year everyone! Whether you’re busy with your small business, or find this time of year a bit quieter, now is the time to kick-start your business. Tell people about what you do, show your products or services and get the orders rolling in. Lots of us make New Year’s resolutions, but less than 10% are achieved, so try and tap into what your customers make resolutions about. If you’re a health and fitness business, for example, some of your customers may want to lose weight and get healthy this year. Ask your customers what their resolutions are and see if you can help them achieve that resolution with your products or services. Social Media is a very popular place to advertise your business – you can use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or any of the other many sites. I’m going to look at Facebook and the Facebook business page. If you have a business Facebook page, contrary to what you might think, people don’t follow you to solely buy your products or services. They like to see a wide variety of posts to keep their interest, so it’s a great idea to have a plan of the kind of things you will be posting month on month. •

Interesting or entertaining content – this can be fun or factual, but all in a light-hearted way – maybe use memes, jokes, contests, puzzles or just a fun inspired image.

Content that inspires your audience – there are loads of inspirational quotations out there – you could google a particular theme and run with that for a month, posting something inspirational once or twice a week. Inspirational posts can also be image based – a breath-taking image, something that makes your audience say ‘Wow!’

These are just a few ideas on how you can keep the attention of your customers and attract new ones on Facebook. The important thing is to make a plan with a good variety of posts to keep your customers’ interest and make them want to come back for more. Make it your New Year’s resolution to plan your business page on Facebook!

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


Simply register on our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 37

Car Insurance


by Isabelle Want

et’s face it, we cannot do without car insurance as most of us live in the countryside and buses are sparse.So make sure you understand fully how it works in France. Yes, it is different than in the UK. To start with, we drive on the correct side of the road! Who is insured and where: This is the main difference from the UK. In France, it is the car that is insured so anybody can drive it as long as they have a valid driving licence and authorisation. But note that if someone else drives your car and crashes it, it is YOUR no claim discount that is affected not theirs, and on some policies there is an additional excess on top of the one you already have if it was not a named driver that crashed the car (around 750€ on top of your normal excess). If it is a young driver (driving licence for less than three years) that crashes your car, the excess is much higher. You must inform the insurance company if a young driver drives it regularly. It is a legal obligation to have a motor vehicle insured even if you don’t use it. If someone steals it and kills someone with it, you are responsible, so you must insure it for at least public liability. You and your car are covered if you are hit by an uninsured driver. Insurance companies have a special money pot for that. Car insurance also automatically covers trailers up to a certain weight (750kg with Allianz). Caravans and trailers above 750kg must have their own number plates and insurances (and registration paperwork). Finally, your car insurance in France does not cover you to drive someone else’s car in the UK. Your car, however, is insured in all of Europe and beyond. In fact, you have a listing of all the countries where you are insured to drive written at the back of your green insurance paperwork (Tunisia, Russia, etc. are not in Europe but are included, so no fear of Brexit!). And you don’t need to inform us when you are going abroad! No Claim discount/Bonus malus: In France, you need to have 13 years without a claim to be entitled to 50% discount, which is the maximum. If you have 50% bonus for more than three years, you keep your maximum discount following an accident that is your fault (a little thank you for being so good for so long!). We accept no claim certificates from the UK. We also have protected bonus. You need to have been at 50% for three years and it is transferred if you change your insurance company. Excess/Franchise: Like most insurances, you can choose to have or not have an excess (this affects your premium). If the accident is not your fault and the third party is identified, you have no excess to pay. If your car is stolen, you have an excess. The excess can be different depending on the claim (always check your contract). Fully comprehensive/Third party: Fully comprehensive is the same as in the UK, you and the car are insured whether it is your fault or not. Third party means that your car is not covered for an accident (only public liability) if it is your fault and it has different levels of cover. Some include glass breakage, theft and fire, some don’t. Check your contract. Glass breakage/Bris de glace: The excess is less for glass breakage and it covers windscreens, windows and headlights but does NOT include wing mirrors and backlights. Breakdown cover/Assistance 0km ou 25km: You can have breakdown cover (recovery up to 180€) from 0km (your front doorhome start) or from 25km, meaning if you break down at only 5km from your house, it is not covered (with Allianz). For the recovery, the car is taken to the closest garage. If the repairs takes less than two days, the insurance pays your hotel, otherwise, the insurance pays to take you home or your original destination. The insurance then pays for you to collect your car (only one person) once it is repaired. 38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019

Replacement vehicle: You can have this option added to your contract. With Allianz, it’s about six euros more per month. There is a limit on the length of time for the replacement and it depends if it is a breakdown, theft or an accident. Pack Valeur Plus: You can add an option which means that you get at least a minimum amount for your car if it is written off (3000€) or get back the purchase price (if the car is less than two years old), then you can get the expert value +20%, 30%, etc. depending on the age of the car, etc. The condition of this option varies depending on the company you are with and the car must have less than 150 000km on the clock when you take out this option. Special discount for car with special options: Allianz offers 25% off for cars that have one of these features: AEB (autonomus emergency brake system), City Park Full (autonomus parking assist) or ACC (a car that brakes if you are too close to the one in front). Claims/Sinistres: In case of an accident, make sure that you fill in an agreed statement of facts on motor vehicle accident (Constat in French). Make sure you always have one in the car and don’t sign it if you disagree with it. There is an emergency helpline (they speak English) for breakdown, accident, etc. but also make sure you have the number on you even if you are not using your car as it includes repatriation and health cover abroad. The number is written on your green paperwork proof of insurance. Note that the breakdown fee will not be reimbursed if you have not phoned them (unless it was organised by emergency services due to the accident). Neither will you be allowed the replacement car (if you took out the option) if you don’t follow proper procedure (phone them before you do anything). Compensation for death or injury is decided by the French code of law and the amount is calculated in accordance to the level of importance of injuries or grief. E.g. the death of a father of five children will be better compensated than the one of a 100 years old without any family. Note you will not get any compensation for death/injury or for the car if you took the vehicle without permission of the owner or were under the influence of drugs/alcohol during the accident. Also you will have to pay for the compensation and damages you have caused to others - so, don’t drink and drive! UK number plates: With Allianz, we can insure on UK plates but you have to follow European law and change your plates to French within three months. But we are lenient (when there is a good reason). However, note that if you return to the UK in a car on UK plates with French insurance, you will get fined for not having insurance, as our system is not recognised in the UK by the automatic recognition plate system. Premium: It is calculated taking different facts into account: model, cost of replacement parts, horsepower, the date it was first on the road, nationwide statistic of theft and what option you chose (third party, fully comprehensive, replacement car, excess, etc.). You can reduce the premium if you drive less than 9000 or 7000km per year. If, like my lovely English husband, you think French drivers are dreadful, then make sure you are properly insured and check your option on your contract. Don’t hesitate to contact me on subjects such as funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top-up health insurance, etc. And please check out our website: for all my previous articles (‘practical information’) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. Facebook: @Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterps. No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

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

Email: Visit our website:

Ask Amanda


have savings and investments in the UK. How do I comply with French tax reporting regulations ?

As a French resident, you are required to submit a French tax return annually. Any savings and investments you hold, irrespective of where, should be declared on your tax return and will be subject to French tax regulations. Recent legislative changes have altered the rates of tax on income and investments, so it is important to understand how any UK assets will be taxed in France. Note that tax-free investments in the UK, such as ISAs and premium bonds, do not hold the same favourable status in France. For permanent and longer-term French residents, there are tax efficient alternatives available, notably Assurance Vie policies. With simple planning it is possible to reduce or remove liabilities on investment income and gains, whilst also preserving wealth for transfer to your nominated beneficiaries.

by Amanda Johnson

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:

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.

Without exception though, make full disclosure of all income and assets when completing your tax return, as there is automatic exchange of financial information between France and the UK (and most other countries globally including the Isle of Man and Channel Islands). Failure to declare fully can result in heavy fines. If you hold savings or investments outside France, why not talk to your financial adviser and ask for a free financial review for peace of mind? Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road show events or speak to me directly, please call or

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.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 39

France tax changes for 2019 A new year in France usually sees the introduction of some new tax rules or rates. This year’s changes are rather muted compared to 2018’s - big reforms to the taxation of investment income and wealth tax, but there is good news for retired expatriates regarding social charges.

Income tax There are no changes to French income tax rates for 2019 (payable on 2018 income). The income bands for each rate have increased slightly to index them for inflation. Investment income is taxed at a fixed rate of 30% covering both income tax and social charges, with no change this year. Lower earners can opt for the progressive income tax rates, plus social charges. The minimum tax rate on non-residents’ French source income increased from 20% to 30%. PAYE France has begun implementing a pay-as-you-earn system from 1st January 2019. It covers various income including employment, retirement and rental income, and non-French income taxable in France. Income tax will be deducted at source for French employment income and pensions. For self-employment earnings, rental income and UK pensions, tax is collected through monthly or quarterly direct debit from your bank account. Investment income, and non-French income that receives a tax credit in France under a double tax treaty, is excluded from PAYE.

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks

Social charges Social charges remain 9.7% for employment income, 17.2% for investment income and 9.1% for pension income (now reduced to 7.4% for those receiving less than 2,000€ per month, or 3,000€ for a couple). Individuals covered under the health system of another EU/EEA country are no longer subject to the contribution sociale généralisée or contribution au remboursement de la dette sociale social charges on their investment income and capital gains. Instead, a new prélèvement de solidarité applies at a flat rate of 7.5%. This is good news for those holding Form S1 and non-residents, since their social charge burden on investment income reduces from 17.2% to 7.5%. Wealth tax / real estate tax There are no changes from 2018, so ‘wealth tax’ (Impôt sur la Fortune Immobilière) is only levied on real estate assets. The threshold is 1,300,000€ and the tax rates the same as last year. A committee has been set up to review whether the ‘old style’ wealth tax should be reintroduced next year. Tax planning It is important to understand how French taxation affects you and establish tax planning solutions based on your circumstances and objectives. Regular reviews will ensure your arrangements are up to date. Take specialist advice on how to make the most of the opportunities offered by the French tax system. 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

Trying to keep abreast of changes in France and the UK? With tax, pension and other regulations changing regularly, not to mention Brexit, it can be hard to keep up-to-date. Subscribe to our eNewsletter and we will send you our 'Wealth News' newsletters and email bulletins on the important tax and financial changes that may affect you.

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

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019


Published by Anna Shaw, 2 Lieu Dit Jaunasse, 79600 LOUIN. Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Siret: 839 041 282 00014

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019 | 41

Escape To The Château To the Manoir born ...

by Joanna Leggett


f you watch UKTV, you may have seen the series following an entrepreneurial couple who’ve been renovating an ancient château in the Pays de la Loire. Their dream has become a burgeoning business with weddings, chambre d’hôtes and all sorts of other money making schemes creating an enviable lifestyle. Value for money property wise is exceptional – according to their legend the couple swapped an apartment in Essex for the home of their dreams – a turreted, moated château! It set us thinking about opportunities in the Deux-Sèvres for those to whom an exciting business venture could form part of a new lifestyle when they too Escape to the Château! We’ve some charming examples which might just tempt you to change your way of life... The first is close to the charming village of St. Clémentin. This imposing riverside manoir sits within a gated mature park, complete with coach house – as any self respecting château should! (Leggett ref: 81444, photo left). Benefiting from all day sunshine, it sits above the river Argenton – indeed it has its own river frontage where, set between two islands belonging to the property, there’s a hidden spot with crystal-clear water - a perfect private beach! Accommodation is generous with drawing room, day room, dining room and kitchen on the ground floor. Eight bedrooms are spread through the house, then there’s the owners’ apartment, an unrenovated coach house and stone outbuildings. This lovely family home, recently redecorated with all mod cons - 299,600€!

Somewhat larger is this magnificent 19th century château (Ref: 94967 right), with many beautiful reception rooms, 18 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms! Set in private luscious gardens, this well maintained property is ready for occupation with newly insulated roof and central heating system- ideal for a hotel, luxurious chambre d’hôtes, wedding, restaurant or conference venue. There are three floors of bedroom accommodation and two vaulted cellars – perfect to store wine or perhaps conduct exclusive wine tastings? Gournay is in southern Deux-Sèvres, not far from Chef-Boutonne – Niort, Poitiers and La Rochelle are all within easy reach - 954,000€. Glorious is the only word to describe this many turreted traditional château in Adilly close to Parthenay (Ref: 59391 photo left). Along the sweeping driveway are formal gardens surrounding the main château. Spacious elegant rooms abound in this magnificently renovated property with its eight ensuite bedrooms. In the beautiful grounds (20 hectares) are six individual gîtes all with private gardens, a heated swimming pool, dedicated conference/wedding suite with catering kitchen, and perfectly sited camping area. The grounds include many different styled gardens and woodland – an expansive business opportunity for 1,260,000€. Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at


ST PARDOUX €210,600 Ref: 95633 Handsome 3 bed / 2 bath village property with garden and garage.

Buying or selling?

BRESSUIRE €288,900 Ref: 95251 2 bed (2010) house with possibility for attic expansion. Garage.

8% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: C

Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

LA CHAPELLE THIREUIL €152,600 Ref: 94656 3 bed / 3 bath country home with large garden and great views.

FRONTENAY ROHAN €167,400 Ref: 93388 4 bed bungalow with 1.5 acres in a hamlet, only 13kms to Niort.

ST LEGER DE MONTBRUN €304,950 Ref: 95011 Near medieval Thouars - a 4 bed character longère with heated pool.

CHEF BOUTONNE €262,150 Ref: 95068 8 bed townhouse with enclosed garden and pool. An ideal B&B.

9% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: N/A

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: D

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: D

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

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

Starting a new life in France? Want a new career? Leggett are always looking to recruit new sales agents. Call us for more info 00 800 2534 4388 or email: +33 05 53 60 84 88 42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, February 2019