The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine June 2018

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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 87 of ‘The Deux-Sèvres magazine...


When walking the ageing labrador one Sunday morning through the country lanes, we bumped into our French neighbours, who we haven’t spoken to much (because of our limited French), just waved whenever we saw each other. After a few pleasantries, patting of the dog and several pauses they invited us for apéros the following Tuesday. In preparation for our move to France we took evening classes for a couple of years, so we can ask for a coffee. But the thought of trying to hold an extended conversation was a different matter and filled us with some apprehension. We had the most enjoyable evening and surprised ourselves how well we managed to communicate, albeit with a lot of mime; parts of the evening resembled ‘Give Us A Clue’ the old television programme. Anna and I worked as a tag-team combination, when one of us started struggling, the other would jump in. We left with a sense of achievement and the knowledge it doesn’t matter if you get it wrong, the important thing is to have a go. Photo: we’ve just returned from the Fête des Plantes clutching our purchases.

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 Clubs & Associations A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Our Furry Friends Hobbies Home & Garden Health, Beauty & Fitness Take a Break Communications Food & Drink Motoring Building & Renovation Business & Finance Property

This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) A La Bonne Vie Restaurant & Auberge Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating)

4 6 12 14 15 16 18 22 23 28 30 33 36 41 45

45 2 37 32 43 39

ARB French Property 47 Arbres et Abeilles Plant Nursery 21 Argo carpentry 40 Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) 33 Beaux Villages Immobilier 47 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 42 Blevins Franks Financial Management 44 British Day 8 Café Des Sports 8 Café Rendez-Vous 8 Château Pont Jarno (A Night at the Opera) 7 Cherry Picker Hire 38 Chris Bassett Construction 36 Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) 39 Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) 6 Cindy Mobey - Marketing and business 41 CJ Electricité 40 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 37 Darren Lawrence 36 David Watkins Chimney Sweep 37 Digger Hire 38 Down To Earth (Pool Design) 45 Elliott Garden Services 21 English 29 Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) 33 Gîte Changeover and Music Tuition 9 Hallmark Electricité 36 Helen Booth (deVere Group) 41 HMJ Maintenance and Renovation Service 39 Inter Décor (Tiles & Bathrooms) 36 Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries 38 Jardin 360° (Garden maintenance) 21 Jean-Luc Thierens (Excavation Work) 38 Jeff’s Metalwork 37 John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 33 John Spray - Maconnerie 39 Jon the Carpetman 21 Keith Banks Pool Services 45 KPI Garden Services 21 La Bohème Mervent (Bar & Restaurant) 8 La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) 21 La Petite Noisette - (Restaurant) 8 Leggett Immobilier 46 Le Regal’on Bar & Restaurant 32 LPV Technology (IT services) 29 Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction 37 Me & Mrs Jones (Property Cleaning Services) 21 Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) 40 Michel Glover (Plasterer, tiler, renderer) 39 ML Computers 29 Motor Parts Charente 33 M. Page Landscaping (Landscape Design & Construction) 20 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 33 Naturalis Pools 45 Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) 20 OD Rénovation (stonemasonry) 39 Out of the Barn Creations 20 Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) 22 Poitiers Biard Airport 2 Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) 45 Property and Swimming Pool Maintenance - RJ Coulson 45 Puy Rond Camping 9 Range Rover for sale 33 Restaurant des Canards 32 Rob Berry (Plasterer) 36 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) 28 Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) 20 Sarl Down to Earth Construction (Groundworks and Micro Station Installer) 38 Satellite TV 29 Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) 15 Simon the Tiler 36 Swimming Pools In France 47 Smart Moves - Removal company 33 Steve Coupland (Property Services) 39 Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) 39 Strictly Roofing 37 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 9 Sue Cook-Currencies Direct-money markets 43 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 33 The Fixer - Rick Denton 41 UPVC Double Glazing (Haynes Carpentry) 40 Val Assist (Translation Services) 9

© Anna and Stephen Shaw 2018. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anna and Stephen Shaw accept no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. It is strongly advised to check details of published events with other sources before setting out on long journeys. <<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Anna and Stephen Shaw 2

Jaunasse, Louin, 79600 Tél: 05 49 64 21 98. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Anna and Stephen Shaw. Crédits photos: Anna and Stephen Shaw, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: juin 2018 - Tirage: 5000 exemplaires. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 3

What’s On... 1,8,15,22,29 - FÊTE DE LA GOÛLE in St-Vincent-La-Châtre. Every Friday in June from 7pm-11pm. Gourmet markets. 2,9,10,17 - OPEN GARDENS. See page 6 for more info. 2-3 - MARCHE ET REPAS DES PRODUCTEURS DU PAYS in Pompaire La Merlatière. Local food produce, plus painting exhibition, live music, plant exchange and much more. 1€ entry. 9am-6pm. 2-3 - RENDEZ-VOUS AUX JARDINS Free entry to discover gardens in the area. Find gardens near you at 3 - TREASURE HUNT in Oiron. Free entry. Try to find the treasure of Athenais of Montespan. Teams (3-5 people) solve puzzles and perform tests. Reservations at the Tourist Office of Pays Thouarsais. 6 - COFFEE & BOOK AFTERNOON in St.Germain-de-LongueChaume, 2pm - 4pm. See page 15 for more info. 8 - MUSIC WITH THE FAKE RACCOONS. See page 7 for more info. 8-9 - TRACTOR-MOWER RACE in Thouars. Starting with a grand parade on Friday night, followed by a free concert. Race is 2pm Saturday, evening concert, catering on site. 8-17 - FESTIVAL DE MELLE MUSIQUE CLASSIQUE 9 - CHAMPIONSHIP OF FRANCE HANDICAPPED ATHLETICS CLUBS in Parthenay. 250 athletes - free entry. Stade de L’Enjeu, Parthenay. 9-10 - FÊTE DE PLANTES in Prissé-la-Charrière, 37th edition. Nearly 100 French, Belgian and English exhibitors (botanists, nurserymen, horticulturists, artists and craftsmen linked to the world of plants). 10am-6pm, plenty of parking, shaded park. Food available. Entry from 1-6€. 9-10 - OUVERTURE D’ATELIERS D’ARTISTES WEEKEND. See page 6 for more info. 10 - DISCOVER ARÇAIS. A chance to discover this pretty town in the Marais Poitevin. Boat trips, guided walking or cycling tours, creative workshops and games. 4pm regional product tasting, 5pm choir of Arçais. Snacks and catering on site. 10 - FÊTE DES VANNIERS ET DES VIEUX MÉTIERS (weavers and old trades) in La Fazilière, Vernoux-en-Gâtine. Demonstrations, craft show, quad rides, Olympiad event, vide grenier. 16 - FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE in Saint-Jouin-de-Marnes and Cersay. 16-17 - MARAISTHON. First nature marathon in the beautiful village of Coulon, for registration, prices and info. 17 - BROCANTE in Chef-Boutonne, Château de Javarzay. 17 - FÊTE DE PAIN in Beauvoir-sur-Niort 17 - FÊTE DE NAUTISME in Thouars. Kayak demonstrations, water rescue dogs, boating, dragon boats and much more. 21 - FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE in Cerizay and Mauze-Thouarsais 22 - FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE in Champdeniers, 5pm Place du Champ de foire. 23-24 - HISTORIC GRAND PRIX in Bressuire. See page 7. 23 - VOUVANT FÊTE DE LA MUSIQUE. See page 7 for more info.

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 1st - Genneton: Café de la Mairie 6th & 20th - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine 7th - La Coudre: Auberge de la source 15th - Saint Martin de Sanzay: Café de la Pompe Tel: 06 04 14 23 94

FROM 6.30pm

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

26-1 - INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL OF WORDS AND MUSIC (LITFEST.) in Voulmentin. See pages 6 and 11 for more info. 29 - MARCHÉ DES PRODUCTEURS DE PAYS in Mauleon. This month sees the start of various MARCHÉ DES PRODUCTEURS DE PAYS. These Farmers’ Country Markets uniquely and exclusively involve local producers. A wonderful opportunity to experience real French country life. Keep your eyes out for their logo or use the website:


1ST & 3RD MONDAY OF THE MONTH AT 3PM Belote at Càfe des Sports, L’Absie. EVERY THURSDAY AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. EVERY THURSDAY FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€ p/p. Money raised in aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY FRIDAY AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact John for details Tel: 05 49 63 23 50 EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Workshops. Personally trained by Annie Sloan to help you get the best from her paints and products. Please see EVERY OTHER THURSDAY AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 1ST WEDS OF MONTH AT 3PM - Franglais Group at Café Bonbon, La Chapelle aux Lys. 2nd Tuesday 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 Pause! Café, L’Absie. Last FRIDAY of month - Books, CDs, DVDs etc. sale. Chez Sue & Stuart Marshall, 12 rue du Bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois, in aid of animal charities (2-5pm) Tel: 02 51 51 00 96 1ST WEDS OF MONTH AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. EVERY FRIDAY AT 1.30PM - 4.30PM - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie.

what’s COMING UP... 26th June - 1st July - Festival de Voulmentin invites you to the International Festival of Words and Music. For more info 1st July - Fête du Afternoon Tea in Bouillé. Starts at 4pm. Ticket only - 12€ each, 30€ for a family ticket. To book tel: 05 49 67 27 13. See page 7 for more info. 6th - 10th July - Festival Terre de Danses, Neuil-Les-Aubiers. 7th - 13th July - Festival au Village, Brioux-sur-Boutonne. 8th July - British Day in Petosse (85570). If you would like to book a stall tel: 02 51 27 05 75 or email: 8th July - Book Sale/Cream Tea at the Royal British Legion Book Store in Parthenay. Cream teas by ticket only at 7,50€. To book tel: 05 49 95 54 50 11th - 22nd July - FLIP Parthenay (Games Festival).

La Vendée Chippy Weds: ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: ‘La Bohème’, 69 route du lac, Mervent Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, Mouilleron-en-Pareds Sat: Last of month : Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil Weds 20 June - Fête de la musique, Pub Le St Vincent Sat 23 June - Fête de la musique, Vouvant Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

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

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

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm

...June 2018 LOCAL MARKETS


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


Benet 85490 - and - La Châtaigneraie 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Tuesdays......... Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 (1st Tuesday in month) 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) 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 Moncoutant 79320 Sundays............ Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600

• • •

A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information please take a look at our website or contact us by email: office. Further information from the Chaplaincy Office 05 49 97 04 21 or from John & Barbara Matthews 05 49 75 29 71. The Filling Station ~ Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians of all denominations who meet together regularly for spiritual renewal and evangelism purposes. ALL WELCOME. Please see our bilingual website for details of meetings and summer programmes or contact Mike & Eva Willis on 05 17 34 11 50 or 07 82 22 31 15. ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee are served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a `bring and share’ lunch. For details of all our activities, our Services in the west of the Vendée, copies of recent newsletters and more information, please check our website: The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship welcomes you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée.

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2018 17th June 21st June 14th July 15th August 7th October 31st October 1st November 11th November 25th December

Father’s Day (Fête des Pères) World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) National Day (Fête Nationale) Assumption of Mary (Assomption) Grandfather’s Day (Fête des Grands-Pères) Halloween All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël) (Dates in bold=Public holidays)



thedeuxsevresmonthly @The DSMagazine dsmmonthly The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine thedsm79

TOP HAT QUIZ & CURRY 4th: 7th: 11th: 13th:

Limalonges Chef Boutonne Theil Rabier Aigre

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm

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.

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. Please see our website for details


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, June 2018 | 5

Getting Out & About ROYAL BRITISH LEGION Poitou-Charentes Branch

BOOK SALE/ CREAM TEA Sunday 8th July 3pm - 7pm at the

RBL BOOK STORE Parthenay Cream Teas by ticket only available at the book store Find us on


7, 50€ each

For further information tel: 05 49 95 54 50 (Alan) 09 60 43 12 27 (Clive)

Ouverture d'ateliers d'artistes weekend Festival de Voulmentin warmly invites you to the ‘International Festival of Words and Music ‘ 26th June - 1st July, in the village square, St. Clementin 79150 See page 11 for more information

by Jan Greenwood

by Barrie Hill

he fifth edition of Ouverture d'ateliers d'artistes Val de Gâtine is taking place over the weekend of 9th and 10th June. It provides an opportunity to visit several studios and see where and how local artists work, producing ceramics, paintings, sculptures and pottery. This year there are eighteen artists taking part, living in the area between Secondigny to the east and Coulonges sur l'Autize to the west. Their studios will be open between 2pm and 7pm on the Saturday and Sunday.

huge thankyou to everyone who came to my Open Garden day in Le Busseau back in April. We raised 200€, a great result. In A June we have more treats in store for all you garden lovers.

Leaflets can be found in local bars, shops and supermarkets, giving you: all the information you need to plan your visits, an example of the work of each artist and a map showing where each of them lives.

10th June - we have five gardens opening in Le Beugnon. The tour of the gardens will start at the home of Alan and Kay Pigney at 5 Rue des Primevères 79130, where visitors will be given a map to find the other gardens.

A large ‘eye’ (right) will be displayed to help you locate them. There will also be an exhibition of the artists’ work in the Café des Belles Fleures, Chez Joy – Place de l'église, Fenioux, where there will be a vernissage, apéro. and concert on Saturday 9th June at 7.30pm.

17th June - we have five gardens opening in Le Busseau. The garden tour will start at my house Les Frenes 79240 (in the direction of La Chapelle-aux-Lys). Here you will be given a map of the tour.

2nd and 9th June - Le Tertre 79120, Saint-Coutant. This is a lovely, new garden to us, full of roses, perennials and some interesting statues. It is really worth a visit.

17th June - we have a garden opening in La Boursaudière 85390 Cheffois, Vendée. This is at the home of renowned garden designer Cherry Burton and landscape gardener Jim Bryde. Here you will see plenty of roses and some unusual perennials as well as a stunning fish pond. 7th July - there will be four gardens opening in Marnes, north Deux-Sèvres. Further information on this to follow. To help you find your way, all gardens taking part will be marked with red arrows and/or balloons. Remember that coming to see the gardens not only does you good, but also benefits French charities too. Open Gardens is a ‘win-win’ for everyone!

For more information Tel: 06 86 31 28 64 or

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If you would like to open your garden, big or small, please get in touch with me: Jan Greenwood Tel: 05 49 28 38 02

Grand Prix Automobile Historique

Bressuire 2018


t's that time of year again when the ground starts to shake and a distant rumble can be heard in the north of the region. The 13th Grand Prix Automobile Historique is about to roll into town. Bressuire 79 (the festival of fumes) takes place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th June, when the city centre becomes a living automobile museum for two days with over a hundred vintage cars dating from the 1930s to 1970s. A racing circuit in the spirit of the 1950s Grand Prix challenges racers and their cars in a variety of classes and categories. Chicanes, hairpin bends and a lot of straw bales push man and machine to their limit. One of the highlights this year will be the participation of a variety of pre-WWII motorcycles and sidecars. Saturday 23rd 2pm - Ouverture du Circuit 5pm - Inauguration Officielle 9pm - Nocturne Sunday 24th 10am - 6pm 6.15pm - Parade Finale 6.30pm - Palamares Free admission. For more information visit the website: or

Internationally Recognised Days for:


1st - World Fish and Chip Day 4th - Hug Your Cat Day 6th - Gardening Exercise Day 10th - Ball Point Pen Day - (In June 1943 the Bíró brothers left their indelible mark on the world.) 12th - International Falafel Day 14th - International Bath Day - (Legend has it that on 14th June, around 260 BC, Greek mathematician Archimedes took a bath - “Eureka!”) 18th - International Picnic Day 21st - World Music Day Fête de la Musique (A celebration of the longest day of the year. Musicians line the streets of French cities, towns and villages, entertaining enthusiastic crowds until dawn.) 22nd - Take Your Dog To Work Day 24th - Fairy Day 25th - Global Beatles Day

A Night at The Opera

with soloists from Castle Opera at Château Pont Jarno

Saturday 28th July - Ticket price 50€ Reservations by tel: 05 49 25 74 06 mobile: 07 88 62 79 86

Email: Château Pont Jarno, Les Groseillers, 79220 Cours

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 7

Creature Corner

by Steve Shaw

This month’s creature:

The Hoopoe


dentification: A colourful bird, with a distinctive ‘crown’ of feathers (the closest relative is the kingfisher). Upupa and epops are respectively the Latin and Ancient Greek names. Both onomatopoeic, which (like the cuckoo) imitate the cry of the bird, a loud “oop!” in sets of three. But, it isn’t the only noise the bird makes: “char” is a warning, “tii” means babies want food and a wheezing sound comes from the female during the courtship ritual. Male and female have almost identical plumage, but the female tends to be slightly duller. Their lengthy, curved beak is an important tool, allowing them to forage through vegetation to find insects. They also use them aggressively in territorial fights. Behaviour: They don’t make typical nests, but instead inhabit holes in trees, cliffs or walls. Females and the young have the ability to secrete a smelly odour to ward-off predators by strategically aiming their droppings. Nest sanitation is not a hoopoe’s strong point. Adults fail to remove any of the offsprings’ droppings. Courtship revolves around food. The male presents insects to the female as a nuptial gift. Interesting hoopoe facts: The national bird of Israel. Widespread in India – a hoopoe has been recorded on Mt Everest at 26,000ft. Superstitions: many superstitions surround the hoopoe, which was thought to be a favourite and confidant of King Solomon. It is said that the hoopoe brought tidings of the woman who would be Solomon’s queen, and is the origin of the saying, “A little bird told me”. Hearing a hoopoe before wine pressing is meant to foretell a good vintage. N.B. Last month we spelt Ragondin incorrectly. Sorry.

Toughie Crossword: Across: 1. ottoman 5. table 8. elects for 9. ace 10. excel 12. cabinet 13. to find some air 15. lounger 17. chest 19. bed 20. sideboard 22. yurts 23. dresser Down: 1. obese 2. tie 3. matalan 4. no facts traded 5. throb 6. brainwave 7. ejector 11. cofounder 13. tallboy 14. macabre 16. gases 18. tudor 21. ass Easy Crossword: Across: 1. discus 4. report 8. scare 9. illegal 10. stout 11. absinth 12. affidavit 15. chorizo 16. Paris 17. tsunami 18. villa 19. albeit 20. banana Down: 2. incite 3. circumference 5. precipitation 6. reacts 7. gin and tonic 13. chisel 14. violin

Take a Break - SOLUTION

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

by Sue Burgess


hen do the summer sales les soldes d’été start? The fans Les fanatiques of reductions les rabais are looking forward to them. The summer sales will begin on Wednesday 27th June 2018 and will end on Tuesday 7th August.

The sales Les soldes are a highlight moment fort of French life despite the appearance of other periods of reductions like Black Friday le vendredi noir. Three French people out of four trois Français sur quatre, 75.5% to be exact, make the most of the sales. 42.6% purchase on the internet font des achats sur Internet, 46.3% in shopping centres dans des centres commerciaux, 35.6% in large supermarkets and 31.7% in city centre shops dans des boutiques de centre-ville. In general, the cacophony la cacophonie of the different reductions has weakened the summer sales according to a report from the Chamber of Commerce of Paris. The Chamber of Commerce denounces the private sales les ventes privées which begin 15 days before the official date of the sales. The professionals of online sales les professionnels de l’e-commerce are in favour of Black Friday which is gaining ground in France. Since January 2015 the law states that there are two six-week sales periods per year. The idea is that the sales help to dispose of stock favorisent un écoulement accéléré de marchandises en stock. The items that are reduced soldé must have already been proposed for sale for a month. The articles concerned by the sale must have a label clearly stating the price reduction la réduction de prix. Articles bought during the sales benefit from the same guarantees as other articles Les articles achetés en soldes bénéficient des mêmes garanties que les autres articles. The sign no part exchange or exchange ni repris ni échangé does not exempt the seller from exchanging or reimbursing the article if there is a hidden defect vice caché. Outside of the sales periods, shop keepers can propose special offers des opérations promotionnelles but can not use the term sales soldes.

Vocabulary/Vocabulaire les soldes ...................................


solder ....................................... to sell off / to discount acheter un produit soldé/bradé ..

to buy something in the sales

brader ........................................

to sell at a discount

une braderie ............................... a street market une friperie ................................

a second hand clothes store

un rabais .....................................

a discount

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: au rabais....................................... at a discount / at a sale price une ristourne ............................... discount / rebate

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 9

A Day To Remember

Have you ever had ‘one of those days’? A day you can look back on and laugh about, but at the time the laughter was in short supply? Steve and Anna Shaw had such a day. A day they would remember for a very long time...


e were driving to Niort. On a previous trip to the capital of our region, my wife, Anna had lost her purse, including cash, bank cards and family photos. Two weeks later when we were back in ‘Blighty’ a strange package arrived in the post. It was the aforementioned purse, which the owner of a book shop in Niort had found and forwarded. Our mission today was to find this saintly man, shake his hand, thrust a bottle of wine at him and purchase several books from his establishment. I was ready to park down by the river, but instead Anna guided me to a subterranean car park in the town centre. As we were about to descend into the bowels of the earth we heard a thump from above. After a quizzical glance at each other we thought no more about it. Down the ramp we went, closely followed by a long line of other cars. The ramp then turned into a giant corkscrew, taking us ever deeper; at the bottom of which we arrived at the main body of the car park. This is the moment it all went ‘pear-shaped’. I realised we still had our ‘roof-box’ on the car and it was too high to get under the reinforced concrete beam in front of us. It also dawned on me that the keys to the storage unit were home on the kitchen table. Having not enough room to pull over and a long line of traffic behind us we were stuck. I did what I always do in

by Steve Shaw

such a situation, I started swearing and told Anna it was her fault. Just then two incredulous car park attendants arrived on the scene. Even though our French isn’t good we could understand they weren’t best pleased and couldn’t believe how stupid we had been. We tried to communicate that we were British hoping this would explain our stupidity. “Desole, desole” Anna kept saying. After much scratching of heads and shouting into walkie-talkies, they had to close the entire car park, open the entrance barrier and each car had to reverse back up the spiral tunnel, up the ramp and out. A woman directly behind us was virtually in tears with the thought of the manoeuvre which she had been asked to execute. I, myself, found repeated hill starts in reverse while steering in an anti-clockwise spiral fashion extremely challenging and nearly scraped the paint off the back of our new car several times. When we eventually made it to ground-level there were cars parked on all angles, each with a livid passenger inside waiting to get a glimpse of the guilty party. One final twenty point turn to avoid the height restriction bar we had hit on the way in and we were off, me sitting as low in my seat as was humanly possible and Anna shouting “desole, desole” out of the passenger window. After parking on the other side of town we did manage to track down the kindly book shop owner and thank him for his good deed. A day of highs and lows!

Have you had ‘a day to remember’ in France? It may have been a happy occasion or a day something or everything went wrong. But whatever happened it was a day you will not forget in a hurry. We would love to hear your story and share it with our readers (you may find the sharing helps the healing). Send it to us at:

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

It’s LitFest… with a difference!


he new ‘ Festival de Voulmentin’ warmly invites you to the ‘International Festival of Words and Music’ from 26th June until 1st July, in the village square, Voulmentin. Celebrating the written word in all its forms, the event includes workshops in song-writing, poetry, film, story-telling, music and arts and crafts. Authors and artists share their skills and talents to inform and to inspire. This year’s theme is ‘words and music’ so there’s plenty of scope to try out a range of instruments, join in singing sessions and dance demonstrations. Visiting musicians from far and wide join local groups to offer a programme of workshops and entertainment.

Photo: Holy Moly & The Crackers © Maureen Walby

The event is partfunded by the European Union’s ‘Erasmus+ Lifelong Learning P r o g r a m m e ’. More than 60 representatives from 15 different organisations in 10 EU countries are in Voulmentin for a five-day training programme that culminates in a weekend of

by Maureen Walby

learning and fun, that the public is warmly invited to share. On Thursday 28th June at 7pm there’s a special showing of ‘O’Bheal’s Poetry Films’ in the cinema at Argenton les Vallees. Friday starts with John Hudson’s renowned Poetry Walk, followed by workshops throughout the rest of the day. On Saturday there’s street music and workshops to interest everyone, regardless of their musical ability or their literary prowess. The ever-popular ‘Holy Moly & The Crackers’ top the bill on Saturday night, supported by an excellent cast of musicians and singers from far and wide. The concert begins at 5pm and runs until 11.30pm. It takes place in the village square. ‘La Colporteuse’ bring their caravan-cavalcade to provide entertainment for children, along with their popular crêpes, local beer and ‘bio-juices’. Daljit Kumar’s Indian take-away stall and PapaTom’s Reel Fish and Chips will be there, as well as a range of other locally produced gastronomy. For those choosing a sitdown meal Chez Didier will be open throughout the day. Or you can bring your own picnic. All are welcome. Although the public events officially start on Thursday evening, anyone wanting to join ‘the partners’ for specific workshops or events earlier in the week will be very welcome. If you would like to see the full programme or want any other information visit our websites: or www. or Tel: 05 49 72 52 97

Fête des Plantes 2018 - Le Beugnon


fter initial concerns for the weather, the gods were smiling, and out came the sun on the hill-top village of Le Beugnon, with its spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Having parked the car, the Fête des Plantes was easy to find, we just followed the stream of people clutching armfuls of tomato plants and bundles of rhubarb. There was a wide variety of stalls, selling every plant imaginable from azaleas to zinnias, as well as garden ornaments, bird houses, even a summer house with outdoor sauna inside and a hot tub powered by what looked like a steam engine. There were demonstrations on a variety of subjects from flower arranging and basket weaving to ironmongery and lawn-aeration. It was a sensory over-load as the smell of culinary delights from the various food stalls followed us around the Fête, inviting us to sample their wares...which Anna and I succumbed to after ten minutes on-site. Having been to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show many years ago, where we were herded about like sheep, it was great to wander freely, viewing the produce and enjoying the atmosphere. When admiring some rhododendrons we heard singing from behind us and on turning round saw that a group of ten to fifteen people (queuing for refreshments) had burst into spontaneous close-

part-harmony. I don’t know if they were a choir singing later in the day or just a group of talented individuals who all happened to know the various harmony parts to the same song, but it was beautiful to listen to. After our intial ‘recce’ it was time to get spending, I had 60€ birthday money burning a hole in my pocket. Following the purchase of a wisteria and some chives, I thought ‘I musn’t go mad, as we have to lug all this up the hill to the car’, so I bought a water lily, which (apart from the hot tub powered by the steam engine) was possibly the heaviest object on sale and one that became heavier with every step. In the end it was decided that rather than carry the lily to the car, we would bring the car to the lily. It was a wonderful event though, and we have pencilled it in the diary for next year. by Steve Shaw

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 11

Clubs & Associations ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, there are now a number of English-speaking meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the South West of France. Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who share experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership and A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation or institution. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Telephone: Angela: 05 49 87 79 09, Jim: 00 44 79 60 16 83 30 or Janet: 05 46 26 90 85. Email: publicinfo.swfrance@aa-€ or visit for details of English-speaking meetings. Melleran Chanteurs – Amateur singing group meeting every Monday 6.45pm in Melleran Salle des Fetes. French & English members, singing in many languages. New voices always welcomed, particularly tenor and bass. For more information contact Maggie Geal 05 49 07 11 69 The Jean David Art Group meets every Friday, 1.30pm - 4.30pm 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. THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION LINAZAY, POITOU-CHARENTES BRANCH

Please visit the branch website:

Franglais at Bressuire

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

Alone in France?

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

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


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

Bridge Players Wanted

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

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018


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


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

2nd Sunday Motorcycle Club Come and join us for a bike ride, or just a cup of coffee and a chat, with bike-minded people. As the name suggests, we meet on the 2nd Sunday of every month. New members are always welcome. For more information, visit our web-site.

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

Les Amis Solitaires

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

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.

ThouarStMed’Arts - Association that aims to bring together people from the historic town of Thouars (Quartier Saint Médard) for a new development of artistic activity. Exhibitions, galleries, brocantes, creators, cultural events etc. Visit the website: RAFA provides direct, practical support, comradeship and friendship to all serving and former RAF personnel and their loved ones. Contact RAFA Sud-Ouest France email: or Tel Website Short URL:


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

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:


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


by Eric Edwards



ontinuing with events of 1918, with respect to the progress of war in Europe, the winter months saw comparatively little action mainly due to weather conditions hampering logistics. As the weather broke, however, the German Army embarked upon five new attempts to regain lost ground, these were known as The Spring Offensives. The first, called St Michael, began on 21st March. This attempted to regain ground lost at the Somme and over a two week period almost succeeded in recapturing Arras and Amiens but was eventually repulsed by the British 3rd Army. On 9th April a second German offensive known as Georgette pushed the British 2nd Army back to Ypres regaining the hard won Passchendaele Ridge but once again the attack was repulsed by British, French and Australian reinforcements from the south. The German Army lost over 330,000 men in these two offensives. 27nd May saw the beginning of the Blücher-Yorck offensive, the aim of which was to bog down Allied forces in central France preventing reinforcements moving to the north. After a highly effective barrage, the Germans overran the decimated French 6th Army along a 25 mile stretch of the Aisne River. The sudden success of this action caused General Luddendorf to change tactics and make a run for Paris, hoping to bring the Allies to a final climactic battle that would have decided the war. After only two days, the German Army advanced to within 50 miles of Paris but the speed of the advance exhausted the troops and they were halted by Allied reinforcements being poured into their line of advance. The Gneisenau offensive began on 9th June when the German 18th Army were involved in a hastily planned offensive, once again towards Paris, but this failed after only four days as French and American troops counter-attacked. On the 15th July the last German offensive of the war, The MarneReims, began with 52 divisions involved in a pincer movement around Reims. The attack to the east was crushed the same day by the French and was halted to the west by the US 3rd Infantry Division, then crushed two days later by a combined French and American counter attack.

Return From Oz!


by Sue Fitzgerald

ell, what is there to say after our production of Amanda Whittington’s ‘Ladies Down Under’? It was about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on (one of the cast could only just be included in that category) and what’s more, I can guarantee that this was an equal pay production! This was one of our most complicated and challenging pieces, with a dizzying seven set-changes, nine cast members playing thirteen roles and very demanding sound and lighting plots. The play climaxed in the party atmosphere of the Sydney Mardi Gras. As a result, thirty-five years after it was originally a hit, the disco beat of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Am What I Am’ could be heard ringing out over the rooftops of Vasles and the Deux-Sevrès! We had an absolute ball producing the show and feedback from our audience sounds like they felt the same. We were once again humbled by so many people turning out to watch us and we can’t wait to do it all again. Our heartfelt thanks to you all. We are also thankful to the Mairie de Vasles who continues to support us with access to the theatre and much more. We are always looking for new members and people who would like to get involved with our productions or the script reading process. Membership is just 10€ per year for which you sponsor the arts and enable us to continue putting on good quality theatre. We also keep you up to date with TheatriVasles news and offer a free drink at each performance. If you would like to get involved please do contact us at, follow us on the TheatriVasles Facebook page or visit our website we’d love to hear from you.

In Spring 1918 all the Armies on the Western Fronts were hit by an influenza epidemic that rapidly spread within the prevailing conditions, killing more soldiers than were accounted for in combat. The epidemic became pandemic as soldiers returned home and a conservative estimate puts the death toll at 30 million people worldwide by the end of 1919 when it disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived. A quick reminder of our sponsored cycle ride taking place on 10th June, full details on the ‘Fundraisers’ page of our website.

Photograph: ‘The Ladies Down Under’ getting in the carnival spirit © Steve Marshall

Visit or find us on Facebook The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 13

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres

by Sue Burgess



Prissé-la-Charrière is a village situated between Niort and St Jean d’Angély. The inhabitants are known as Prissiens and Prissiennes. Prissé was divided into two communes in 1790 : Prissé-le-Petit and Prissé-le-Grand. The latter was divided between several villages at the end of the 19th century whilst Prissé-le-Petit which had been renamed Prissé, was joined to La Charrière in 1972. La Charrière, which was first mentionned in 1243, sits in a little valley crossed by two streams, les Alleuds and the Puits-Neuf.

Pugny is surrounded by the communes of Le Breuil Bernard, La Chapelle Saint Laurent and Largeasse. The Ouine river crosses the commune of Pugny. The Latin name of Pugny, Pugniacum, proves that there where people here a long time ago. At the end of the 11th century (about 1088) Gautier Fort and Tetmar, gave the church of Pugny to the abbey of Nouaillé. They also gifted land for the building of a town. Since then and until the 18th century, the church was a Benedictine priory, annexed to the parish of Breuil-Bernard.

Before 1880, there were a lot of wine-producing vines. In 2018, Prissé-la-Charrière joined with Belleville, Saint-Etienne-laCigogne and Boisserolles to form the new commune of Plaine d’Argenson. Prissé-la-Charrière is the main village.

A new parish was formed in Pugny by a Bishop’s decree on the 28th August 1776. The priory was dissolved at the time of the Revolution and the priest, who refused to sign the Concordat in 1802, went over to the la Petite Eglise.

A VOIR/MUST SEE • The Tumulus of Péré (closed to the public) is one of the largest tumuli in Europe. This neolithic necropolis discovered in 1840, is made up of funeral chambers where human skeletons and pots were found.

St Pierre’s Church was completely rebuilt and restored after the end of the First World War.

Saint André Church : This sanctuary built in the 12th century was damaged during the Wars of Religion. It was totally rebuilt in the 19th century, thanks to lottery winnings, in a romanesque style.

Puy Hardy, the smallest commune of the Deux-Sèvres, overlooks the valley of the river Saumort. The river is surrounded by wooded hills and rocks. It is a pleasant place for walkers and fishermen. Puy Hardy is situated 7 km from Coulonges-sur-l’Autize and about 30 km from Niort.

Château de Péré : The 19th century manor was built where the ancient castle once stood. It has a large walnut staircase and sits in wooded parkland. It is a privately owned château. A highly reputed garden and plant festival is held here twice a year.

Le Palais Gourmand: At the Moulin de Pairé Mill, on the Route du Chabichou et des fromages de chèvre, (goats’ cheese trail), it is possible to visit the farm and milking parlour by prior arrangement.

Puy Hardy

The commune has about 80 inhabitants. A VOIR/MUST SEE • In the heart of the village stands Saint Nicolas Church. Dating from before the 15th century and once belonging to a Benedictine abbey, the church was restored in 1900 and 2002. The bell was founded in 1739 and is still in use today. •

A remarkable natural site was created in 1997 with a lake, picnic area and fishing cabin (which can be rented all year round).

Paths allow walkers to discover the green countryside and the neighbouring communes of Ardin, Fenioux and la Chapelle Thireuil.

Inset photos: Puy Hardy - St Nicolas Church © and nearby countryside © Communaté de Communes Val de Gâtine

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month... 14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

Our Furry Friends SMUFFY Smuffy is a lively, loving and intelligent 16 month old collie. His favourite things are playing with other dogs, fetching a ball, learning new things and lizards! Smuffy would love an active family with another playful dog, who will include him in their lives and will give him time to adjust. He takes a while to trust new things, but with love and patience is developing into a really adorable, affectionate, cheeky boy. Smuffy is about 22kgs, has been identified, vaccinated, neutered, has a passport and has been treated for fleas, ticks and worms. An adoption fee of 150€ will be asked for as a contribution towards his medical costs. If you’re interested in adopting Smuffy, please get in touch with us on 07 69 18 56 81 or at ​ For more information about The Orfée Association and the work it does, see page 17.

The Assocation Orfee Tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email: Visit the website:

Hope Shop 79 have MOVED!

Now at 8 rue d’aunis, 79120 Saint Soline

‘The DSM’ Feedback...

Great magazine, I can’t always find a hard copy so go online to have a browse. My business advert goes in a few times a year and has a good response. I’ve also passed trade info onto others, using the magazine.

The Funny Farm Cat Recue Coffee & Book Afternoon 6th June - 2pm - 4pm

Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200 St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Email: Association number: W793001884 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 15

Hobbies Captivating Characters


Warm thanks go to Vronni Ward and George Murray for sharing their book reviews with us.

by Alison Morton

hat do you remember from a novel? The story, the setting, the message or theme? I’m betting it’s the people – the heroine/ hero, their friends and colleagues, family, lovers, and enemies. We were with them as they went on their journey or quest, we experience how they faced obstacles, who helped them, who they hurt or helped and how they matured or went to pieces. Did you love their snappy backchat or their thoughtful analysis, their daft behaviour, their noble courage? Do we know people like that or would we like to be like those characters? Needs, desires and fears How do we create characters who will captivate our readers? Jot down a quick character sketch. After the age, background and physical traits, look at their personal values and beliefs – these lie at the core of people’s personality. Why are your characters like they are? Why do they do things in the story that might seem peculiar to us, or endangering themselves? Are they being truthful with themselves? Their emotions and behaviour will usually change as a result of the story, but we as creators need a good understanding of what is going to motivate our characters. Next, what do they need or desire? Who or what do they fear? Is the story about redemption, ambition, overcoming a fear, or merely stopping the world from exploding? These kinds of stakes bring a strong emotional punch to your story. Trouble and transformation Then you land them in a big, fat hole. First, they can’t see any way out. This is where you can really catch your readers. What would they do in this dreadful situation? How would they feel if faced with being stranded alone in the jungle, deserted by their life partner, sacked from their beloved job? Or a victim of a terrorist attack or finding out their child is an addict? Close your eyes and imagine their reaction, both logical and emotional. Your nice respectable character may turn into a vengeful monster, the highly emotional chatterbox finds a spine of steel, the local boor who spoils every party keeps everybody calm in an emergency. These inner opposites make characters much more interesting. Perhaps they were disappointed, injured or their confidence undermined earlier in life which squashed some of those hidden values. The skill is in not over-egging the difference, so drop some hints earlier in the story or your character will seem unrealistic. It’s all about relationships Create relationships that matter to your characters. Make some unlikely or stumble along, some full on conflict, others with quick bonding friendships. Deepen some of them during the story, make others ebb and flow or even end. Some characters may develop into ‘beloved enemies’ or professional rivals with edge, or they may become lifelong friends or lovers. You can use relationships to soften a hard character or toughen up the compliant girl next door and so add layers to the story’s plot. Investing in your characters will help you captivate your readers and give you hours of pleasure in the company of fascinating, if imaginary, people who may surprise you, frighten you or even inspire you. And if you, the writer, are captivated, then so will your readers be.

Happy writing! Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available on Amazon. Her novella CARINA, is now out in paperback.

16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

YOUR Book Reviews

If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

PLAINSONG by Kent Haruf This book was recommended by TV personality Mariella Frostrup as her favourite book of all time. So, I just had to read it. Set in the high plains near Denver, Colorado, it is the most beautifully written book and one I shan’t forget in a hurry. It describes the vast American landscape and the fascinating story of the characters who live there; the town and surrounding scenery bind the characters together. A pair of young brothers have to learn to adjust without a mother, a teenage girl pregnant and without a home, a father trying to raise his boys on his own, and a pair of staunch old bachelors who are presented with an extraordinary proposal are all empathetic characters. It is an uplifting novel about goodness, hope, caring and belief. You can learn so much from this book. Kent Haruf displays an emotional and aesthetic authority to rival the past masters of a classic American tradition. I loved every word in this book and so went on to read the two follow-up novels, Eventide and Benediction. Magic!

THE FALLEN by David Baldacci

by Vronni Ward

A small town which has seen better times is the focal point for renowned thriller writer, David Baldacci’s latest offering. The mysterious events in Baronville, Pennsylvania are giving concern for agent Amos Decker and his FBI partner, Alex Jamieson. They are supposed to be on a relaxing holiday, but when two bodies are discovered in a nearby house, they become involved in a murder investigation. When more bodies are found, Decker and Jamieson have to use their combined investigative skills to uncover a sinister truth in Baronville. A life insurance fraud connected to a huge drugs operation make for an intriguing scenario. But even the duo’s detective talents and Decker’s infallible memory may not be enough to save them or the town from becoming the next victims. “What he had seen might just be the tip of the iceberg. He cautiously poked his gun and then his head round the corner. He cleared the space with two long visual passes and straightened. Decker now knew what had triggered the first spark, next the flames and the flickering lights. Exposed electrical wires had indeed been commingled with liquid. But it wasn’t water. It was blood.” by George Murray


by James Luxford

Our pick of the big screen gems to keep you enthralled this summer! THE GUERNSEY LITERARY AND POTATO PEEL SOCIETY(13th June) A cosy British drama about an ambitious postwar writer (Lily James) who travels to the small island of Guernsey to interview a peculiar literary society. Upon arrival, however, she finds far more than she bargained for. Harking back to sweeping romantic dramas of the past, this film depends greatly on the impressive James, who is a charismatic lead and carries much of the movie on her shoulders. No performance can gloss over the story’s predictability, but on the whole the film is good-natured enough to pass by without causing offence. A QUIET PLACE (20th June) The Office star John Krasinski directs his wife Emily Blunt in a gripping horror-thriller about a family who live in near-silence, as any sound they make could attract deadly creatures that hunt them. Horror is a genre prone to being repetitive, so when something genuinely unique comes along you have to take notice. The premise allows the director to prey on your nerves, exploiting every instinctual fear as the action unfolds in nearsilence. One of the most impressive horror films in a very long time. TULLY (27th June) The creators of Juno and Young Adult are back with a gritty, hilarious look at modern parenthood. Charlize Theron, who gained fifty pounds to play an overwrought mother of three stretched to her very limit, finds relief with the arrival of Tully, a night nanny. Sharply written and incredibly well acted, this takes a frank and honest look at the pressures put on mothers, and the fight to retain a sense of one’s self when taking on such an allencompassing role. Inventive and heart-felt, it will strike a chord with parents everywhere.

LOVE, SIMON (27th June) Ready for a different kind of teen movie? This US smash hit is, unbelievably, the first Hollywood film to feature a gay male teen in the lead, as Simon (Nick Robinson) struggles with all the average high school pressures while hiding the fact that he is gay. However, an online romance encourages him to become his true self. While the film too often delves into high school cliches, its mere existence will be a breakthrough for many who see it. A well-handled drama that is both refreshing and familiar at the same time.

by Christa Doody


opefully, many of you have heard of Association Orfée ( which was set up to save the lives of dogs who were found, handed in to the pound and were being euthanised when they remained unclaimed after as little as eight days. We save every dog from two small pounds, one at each end of the Deux-Sèvres department. This involves identifying, vaccinating and neutering them, placing them in foster homes if they are not adopted directly from the pound and finding new and loving homes for them. However, every person involved in the association is a volunteer and we rely hugely on our network of foster families and volunteers. There are a constant stream of abandoned dogs and we juggle funds to save as many as possible. The reward of saving the dogs’ lives and seeing them turn from being stressed and confused to happy and healthy pets with their new family is all the thanks we need. Most of the dogs come out of the pound in a stressed state, so the first few days for the family can be almost totally focussed on toilet training, getting them used to the family unit and, if they haven’t lived in a house before, introducing them to things like the TV, reflections and other sights and sounds of home life that we take for granted. Once they start to relax, it then becomes a journey of discovery. What they like, what scares them, how well trained they are, and we start to learn the type of family that will suit them. A strong bond quickly forms between the dog and family, so it’s not surprising that a proportion of the dogs never leave their foster home (it’s actually a really good way to look for your next dog). We are always in need of new foster families. We would love to hear from you if you’re interested in fostering regularly or occasionally. Perhaps you can dog sit for a day or a couple of weeks which makes it easier for our regular team to foster more often. If that’s not for you, but you would like to be involved, extra pairs of hands with transport, to fundraise or market our appeals all make a difference and are just as important. If you love dogs, have some time to spend and would like to be involved with Orfée, please Tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or email:

Release dates are nationwide in France.

Photos: Isis, Olaf and Aris. Top right: Lully © Association Orfée

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 17

Home & Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


eggs are laid in developing plum and apple fruits. These become caterpillars which will eat through the entire fruit. Just a walk around the garden at different times of the day is a good way of checking for pests. Just pick off any you find. With longer hours of daylight, fresh young produce to be pulled from the garden and straight onto the plate, this is a month to enjoy. Feeling the warm sun on our skin, as we sit, for a short while, planning what needs to be done next.

Now is the time to:

Divide congested clumps of bluebells and snowdrops, removing any damaged foliage and faded flower stems and replanting in another part of the garden or in pots until next year. Hellebore seeds may still be clinging to their seed pods; these can be sown where you want them to grow next spring.

une is the month when summer has finally arrived ! Frost can be forgotten and everything we sow or plant will grow easily and quickly. The garden is full of flower and leaf everywhere we look, and we can take stock, step back and clearly see what needs replacing, thinning…or eating!

Spring flowering Clematis armandii can be pruned back hard now and box plants can be trimmed or encouraged into a particular shape (perhaps with the help of a frame). New clematis should be planted deeply and about 45cm away from a wall or support to have the best chance of catching any rain.

The nights are warming up and this encourages new growth to appear unchecked. Everything tender can be trusted to survive outside and hanging baskets and ornamental pots will brim over with blooms and foliage. The increased warmth allows the weeds to grow in abundance alongside everything else, so there is always hand weeding to be done.

Thin out apples, pears and plums to encourage bigger fruits to develop and remove suckers that may have appeared at the base of fruit trees and roses (tearing them off is better than cutting as it lessens the chance of the sucker re-sprouting). Prune wall-trained plums and cherries, cutting out any badly placed or weak shoots, shorten other shoots to six leaves.

Weeding helps us to keep direct contact with the soil and be able to spot problems early: an invasion of aphids or other insect pests, the drying out of plants in pots and the silent invasion of slugs or snails (they enjoy the warm evenings as much as we do and as a fanatical hosta grower, I’m always on the prowl for these ‘enemies’).

Soft wood cuttings can be taken from fuchsias, pelargoniums, buddleja, hydrangea, lavender and argyranthemum, potting up as soon as strong root growth is seen.

There are many recommendations for limiting snail/slug damage: coffee grounds, crushed eggshells, gravel, bark, all sprinkled around the base of plants. Copper tape wound around flower pots and containers gives the pests what feels like a small electric shock. Beer traps are quite successful and the slugs and snails drown in bliss. Companion planting helps keep pests away from some crops. Planting marigolds next to tomatoes helps to deter whitefly. Hover flies are attracted to open, flat flowers such as the poached egg plant (Limnanthes) and they love eating greenfly. There are many soap based sprays available in the supermarkets now, but it’s cheaper and easier to make your own (just make up a soapy solution using washing up liquid), the solution will kill adult aphids, but not eggs, so regular spraying will be needed. Red spider mites love hot, dry conditions, particularly in greenhouses, so damping down the floor will help to deter them. Pheromone traps can be bought in garden centres and these trap adult male codling moths. Once they have mated with a female, Photo: beautifully trimmed box. Now is the time to do it. © wikicommons/hiyori13 Right: clematis should be planted deeply.

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Divide bearded irises after flowering, chopping the rhizome into good sized pieces and planting on the surface of compost/soil with added grit. Discard central, weak or diseased material. Cut back ornamental poppies after flowering, unless self seeding is wanted or the seed heads are needed for decorative purposes. Pinch out side shoots on cordon tomatoes and train plants up supports. Harvest strawberries and early potatoes. Interestingly, the strawberry growers in Bourseguin are producing their fruit on wooden frames well above ground level this year; easier to harvest, protects from pests and keeps the fruit off the earth, an idea to copy? Tie in sweet peas, removing tendrils to improve flowering. Deadhead camellias and rhododendrons to increase bud formation for next year’s flowers. Camellias don’t need annual pruning, but badly positioned shoots need to be removed straight after flowering. Reduce/thin leggy shoots to two or three buds and cut back last year’s growth to just above old wood, if you prefer to keep the shrub compact. Don’t forget, everything needs to be regularly fed now. We all buy differing fertilisers or feeds and have our favourites. I find tomato

Some cottage garden colour. Top right: sweet peas to be tied in and tendrils removed. Bottom right: the majestic iris, to be divided after flowering. Inset photo: an iris that looks like a sad dog.

feed really suits fuchsias. Do we know what these ‘feeds’ do for our plants? • Nitrogen(N) promotes the production of leaves, acts fast and produces lush green growth. Too much deters flowering in favour of leaf production and too little produces small, pale, spindly leaves. Use at the start of the growing season and apply regularly during the summer to pots, lawns and beds. • Phosphorous(P) helps the development of roots and tubers but is beneficial for general plant health. Most soils contain a plentiful supply, as it doesn’t easily wash away, even in wet weather. Use it at the end of the growing season to promote strong root growth under the ground during the winter. • Potassium(K) helps flowers and fruits to form, but also aids the plants defenses against pests and diseases, and to be able to deal with excess cold or drought. Deficiency is most common on sandy, light soils and signs include leaf scorching and curling tips. Use little and often during the growing season. • Calcium(Ca) usually takes the form of lime in the garden, neutralises acid soils and allows micronutrients to be made available to the plants. It is important in the prevention of disorders such as blossom-end rot (tomatoes) and bitter pit (apples). Use in early spring, but not at the same time as organic matter with which it can have an adverse reaction.

• •

Micronutrients include magnesium and iron which generally help with plant health. Trace elements are from a wide range of minerals such as selenium, which are needed in minute quantities to encourage the best growth and flavour in fruit and veg.

In a French gardening magazine I was reading recently, I found the following phrases to do with the gardening months: ‘If March begins in anger, it will end gently’ ‘April and May are the keys to the year’ ‘In May we can do what we like in the garden’ ‘In June, rain and sun unite to give us a good harvest’. None of the other months were mentioned!

Enjoy whatever you do in the garden.


10 interesting gardening facts to mention over apéros 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

The brown centre and yellow petals of a sunflower are actually 1,000 – 2,000 individual flowers held together on a single stalk. There are more microorganisms in one teaspoon of soil than there are people on earth. During the 1600s, tulips were so valuable in Holland that their bulbs were worth more than gold. The scientific name for the tomato is Lycoperscion lycopersicum, which means ‘wolf peach’. Over 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced each year, making it the most popular fruit. The second most popular fruit is the banana. The multicoloured iris is named after the Greek goddess Iris, who carries messages from heaven using a rainbow as a bridge. Deer can jump eight feet high, so a small fence will not keep them out. You can change a hydrangea’s colour by altering the pH level of soil. Several studies have shown plants actually grow away from rock music.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 19

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.

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018



Small colour Advert from 35,17€ ttc per month

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 21

Health, Beauty & Fitness Fitness Clubs: CALLING ALL WALKING FOOTBALL PLAYERS

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:


‘The DSM’ Office Opening Hours: Monday - Thursday 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm

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

Everyday Yoga for Everyone

by Rebecca Novick

Tree Pose – Vrkasana – Balance in All Things


alance is something we’re always working towards, whether it’s balancing work with play, exercise with relaxation, the elements of our diet, or the dynamics in our relationships. Too much of one thing might tip us over, and not enough of another can make us feel deprived. The benefits of Tree Pose include helping not only our physical balance but our mental balance as well, since it requires a certain amount of concentration. You’ll find that if you start thinking about your to-do list while in this pose, or an argument you just had with someone, you’re more likely to wobble! It is amazing to observe the impact that the activity of the mind has on the body. This pose is also fantastic for strengthening the muscles of the feet, ankles, knees and legs, and in improving overall posture. •

First, stand with your feet and ankles together, feet straight.

Ground your soles and toes firmly into the floor.

Keep the arms loose at the sides, relax the shoulders, and inhale as you lift the chest and upper back.

Shift your weight onto your left foot and, with the help of your right hand, bring the right sole flat against the left leg, either above or below the knee.

You can begin doing this pose by standing just far enough away from a wall so that you can touch it with the end of your finger. A light touch is all you need to control your balance.

Practice removing your finger from the wall for a few seconds, increasing the time with each practice.

If you’re doing the pose away from the wall, you can either put your hands with palms together overhead, or simply place your palms together at the chest.

Stand tall, lengthening through the tailbone, lift the head, and connect your gaze to a point directly in front of you. Imagining yourself as a tree with roots coming out of your soles can actually help you to keep stable.

Breathe nice and slow.

When you’ve had enough, exhale and repeat on the other side.

Respect yourself, explore yourself.

The Tree pose © Rebecca Novick

For details on yoga classes email: or follow Rebecca on

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

Across: 1. Athletics event (6) 4. Give an account or representation of in words (6) 8. Cause fear in (5) 9. Prohibited by law or accepted rules (7) 10. A strong very dark heavy- bodied ale (5) 11. Strong green liquer flavoured with wormwood and anise (7) 12. Written declaration made under oath (9) 15. Spicy spanish pork sausage (7) 16. The capital of France (5) 17. Destructive sea wave (7) 18. Country house in ancient Rome (5) 19. Even though; although; not withstanding (6) 20. Elongated crescent-shaped yellow fruit (6)

Down: 2. Provoke or stir-up (6) 3. The size of something as given by the distance around it (13) 5. Rain (13) 6. Shows a response to something (6) 7. Mixed drink (11) 13. Carpenter’s tool (6) 14. Stringed instrument (6)

Answers on P.8 and our website:

With thanks to M.Morris

DSM Toughie Crossword Across 1. Former empire, far-fetched middle-eastern country? (7) 5. Record non-starter when referring to places for horses. (5) 8. Makes one’s choice, lest force be used criminally. (6, 3) 9. Distinguished flyer on display in BOAC Exhibition. (3) 10. Do really well with computer program? (5) 12. Taxi home and Latin for group of decision makers. (7) 13. First idea rubbished; with rising moon a reason to step outside perhaps? (2, 4, 4, 3) 15. Socially acceptable in stretched loafer? (7) 17. ST exchange provides storage for board game. (5) 19. Resting place for those in the lead in bicycle endurance demonstration? (3) 20. Braise! Odd recipe for dishes etc. (9) 22. Game in animal house put back in tents. (5) 23. Costume expert coming after cross Welsh for instance? (7)



his month I have some pointers that may help with solving the above crossword. Some abbreviations I mentioned in previous articles are the use of T for time, (which can be added on, taken away or replaced of course); CO for commanding officer, chief etc. and the often used RU (rugby union) if a sport or game is referred to in the clue. •

Another, perhaps not alluded to before, is OTT (over the top) for something far-fetched or ludicrous etc.

Down 1. Overweight, but robe seems to cover it. (5) 2. If I keep within the boundaries of taste, I am secure. (3) 3. Cheap shop overturned in tribunal at Ambridge. (7) 4. Rotten cad’s fad brought about disappointing result of exchange of information? (2, 5, 6) 5. First signs of tender heart; racing or banging pulse? (5) 6. Idea for a hairstyle to make you look intelligent? (9) 7. Take this seat if you don’t intend to stay long perhaps? (7) 11. Chief of Foreign Office, below one of those who set it up? (9) 13. Big lad? One who can hold a lot of stuff? (7) 14. Putting the cart inside the horse! Now that’s weird! (7) 16. Somethings in the air? (5) 18. Teacher taking time out to accommodate a large number of the royal family. (5) 21. Idiot in small organisation? (3)

A strategy which one sees often and which I like myself, is the use of the first letters of some words used in the clue. This can be suggested in various ways; a reference to heads or those in front are two examples. In the April edition, for instance, 4 Across was: Leaders of some elementary local French salt production (3). The first letters (leaders) of some elementary local being SEL, the French for salt. Equally, this can involve the removal of the first letter of a word, if the clue includes leaderless, losing their heads, not given a start, or similar phrases, of which there are countless, of course. For instance, last month’s 9 Down was: Rubbish country, with neither leader nor head of economy (3). Starting with state for country, remove the S (leader) and E, the first letter (head) of economy and you are left with TAT (rubbish).

Well, I hope that helps. Next month I will give you some pointers to anagrams, of which there are several in the above crossword.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 23

Where We Live...



Mimolette/Boule de Lille This cheese was known to be a firm favourite of French President Charles De Gaulle, but much less certain is whether it was originally a French cheese or a Dutch one. Some say it was first produced in Holland, while others maintain it has always existed in France. The true story behind its origins is probably that during the 17th Century, under the reign of Louis XIV, French minister Colbert banned the import of foreign goods – including Dutch cheese – and demanded French farmers develop a similar cheese to boost morale. Its method of production is the same as for the Dutch cheese Edam, but the crust is not waxed. The name Mimolette derives from mi-mou, or half-soft, while Boule de Lille allegedly derives from the maturation cellars (caves d’affinage) in the city of Lille, where maturation originally took place. Mimolette is a coopérative or industriel pasteurised, semi-hard, cow’s milk cheese made all year round in the form of a ball 20cm in diameter, flattened at the top and bottom and weighing between 2-4kg. The inside is a bright orange (coloured with anatto, a natural food colouring derived from the seed of a South American shrub) and looks a bit like a Cantaloupe melon. It takes three months for a young Mimolette to mature; six months for a demi-vieille or demi-étuvée (half-old); 12 months for a vieille en etuvée (old); and two years for a très vieille (very old) cheese. At the très vieille stage, the exterior rind is a dark tan in colour and usually extremely pitted and marked. It’s not uncommon to see a coating of brown dust on the outside, which is a sign of age and the action of cheese mites which are introduced to add flavour to the cheese by promoting air-flow. Flavours are of bacon, caramel, butterscotch and toasted nuts, with an underlying sweetness that is not cloying. Enjoyed as an aperitif or at the end of a meal, Mimolette can also be grated into soufflés, omelettes and any dish that needs a good kick of cheese. It goes well with a light red Burgundy, a fruity white wine or an Abbey beer.

Gerry Van Oossanen

A stroke of luck? Many expats arrive in France in a van fit to burst with all their worldly goods, dog, cat, budgie, the dream... and a plan. A five-year plan, perhaps a ten-year one. Gerry van Oossanen had a plan when she bought her French home, but a stroke – her second – and a heart attack put paid to all that.


erry had been backwards and forwards between France and her life in Holland for almost two years looking for her perfect French home. She finally found one in Moutiers-sous-Chantemerle, in the Deux-Sèvres, but then began six months of negotiating as one sister wanted to sell the property while the other didn’t. “I finally got the keys in April 2015 and was so happy. But then my whole world was turned upside-down. I ended up in an unexpected divorce and then got my second (luckily small) stroke and a heart attack, all brought on by a sudden stress overload. What to do now? Well, major panic at first! I’d just bought this huge place in France, lost my marriage and had recurring health troubles.

© wikicommons/Lastras

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“But then I made a decision. My plan to permanently move to my new

by Mick Austin

French home within eight to ten years? Forget that! I decided to start my new, more relaxed, life on my own in France as soon as possible. I reorganised my working life in Holland so I could work more from France. That way I would still have an income and so be able to live here.” That life in Holland would take some reorganising as Dr Gerry van Oossanen was a very busy lady, often working 80 to 100 hours every week. She had studied veterinary rehabilitation medicine and sciences at the universities of Antwerp and Utrecht and graduated on equine movement science, with her research subject being the triangle between horse, saddle and rider. She is also a chartered animal physical therapist, a certified acupuncturist and a certified equine thermographer, which involves using digital infrared thermal imaging to help diagnose problems. She founded the International Academy for Master Saddle Fitting Consultants (MSFC – and has specialised in back and neck disorders (especially in relation to saddles and bridles) and neurologic movement disorders. She has developed a special backfriendly horse and rider rehabilitation programme and has also set up the world’s first rehab centre for horse and rider, which she ran in Holland for several years before she moved to France. It is probably no great surprise the way Gerry’s life with animals panned out. She grew up in Rotterdam in a very poor family with four brothers (one died of AIDS in the early 1990s) and three sisters. “We had a lot of small animals at home – mostly dumped on us – and even as a little child my bedroom was always packed with boxes and cages full of wounded birds and other little wild animals our local vet would refer to me. I fixed broken wings and paws and taught birds to fly again, which caused plenty of amusement with the neighbours. “I suppose it was logical that I wanted to be a vet. I loved horses and was particularly interested in neurology and back problems after having experienced those myself after a bad fall from a horse when I was 18. As there was so little knowledge on that subject at the time, too many horses were put down. And too many riders – including myself – were told they would not be able to ride again following an accident. In my opinion, it was all so unnecessary.

“So I began to specialise in back problems and neurology in both horse and rider. I designed a special rider training programme that enabled almost every injured rider to get back into the saddle again. I also designed a special treatment for horses with serious back problems and neurologic disorders like ataxia. In my rehab. centre I saw that most back problems that were not caused by an accident were, in fact, caused by ill-fitting saddles. “Very little was known at the time about this subject and properly fitting saddles were hard to find, especially in Holland with our Dutch warmbloods having very high, long withers. No ‘saddler’ in Holland could do the alterations that were needed, so I always had to improvise. Finally I thought ‘this is not good enough’ so I went to the UK and got myself trained in saddlery. “After my scientific research at Utrecht University on the influences of ill-fitting saddles and the availability of saddlery training – or rather the lack of – I set up my saddle-fitting academy. Why? Because a good saddle fitter is more than a saddle salesman. A saddle salesman only needs good commercial values. To become a saddle fitter you need specialised training. You need to be educated in subjects like the anatomy of horse and rider, conformation, physiology, biomechanics, back problems and the influence of the rider and the saddle, nutrition, lameness, saddle construction, saddle faults, saddle-fitting, bridle-fitting etc. to be able to do a proper job. “It’s all for the well-being of the horse. In that perspective, our MSFC courses are unique. The saddle-fitting course is designed so people can combine it with a full-time job and it contains both a theory and a practical part.” Fifteen years of working 100-hour weeks began to take its toll, however. After her first stroke, in 2010, Gerry realised it might be a good idea to ease up on things a little. After again seeing the film ‘A Good Year’ (where banker Russell Crowe inherits his uncle’s château and vineyard in Provence and where he discovers a new, laid-back lifestyle as he tries to renovate the estate to be sold) Gerry set off for Provence on her own search for that less stressful life.

The correction of a rider’s posture during a saddle-fitting course. Left: Gerry rebalances a saddle for a client. © Gerry van Oossanen

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 25

...A look at what makes France so special “I rented a house from a Dutch lady who had lived in France for 30 years and she planted the idea in my head to move here one day. When I returned to my normal hectic life with patients and students in Holland, it didn’t take me long to make the decision to look for a maison secondaire where I could move to permanently when I was able to stop working.”

and rearranged my other work with the saddles and courses so I could work more from my new French home. Now I’m running the international saddle-fitting and saddlery courses in France, which have been a great success as all our students love it here. They come from all over the world, especially the UK, Australia and South Africa.”

It was a familiar story. Gerry saw plenty of properties that looked magnificent in pictures and descriptions, only for them to have been abandoned to Mother Nature for several years. “I started looking for a second home with some land but, on advice from people already living here, I changed my search and started looking for a farm that had enough land for my six Icelandic horses for when I planned to move here eight or ten years later.

Students can stay on-site in Gerry’s gîte, or if they want private rooms they can book into nearby B&Bs. Some students bring family with them and they can use local gîtes. The local bar/restaurant does the catering on-site at lunchtimes and dinners are taken at several local restaurants.

“A few years earlier, I had renovated a farm in Holland and always said I’d never do it again after all the stress. But then the immobilier took me to this isolated spot, close to a forest, that had not been lived in for years. It had been used occasionally as a holiday home so its condition was absolutely not what I was looking for. But there were seven hectares of land for my horses and plenty of outbuildings. The possibilities were there to run my courses in France. It was an absolutely magical spot, loads of hortensia and a huge summer kitchen with a big French fireplace.” That kitchen was the only part of the house the former owners had renovated. Everything else had to be renewed. It was a huge job, but Gerry decided to go for it. The sisters who owned the house finally reached agreement and Gerry became the proud owner of a piece of France that was to be her permanent home eight to ten years down the line. Well, that was the plan. Then came the divorce, the stroke and the heart attack... “Having made the decision not to wait ten years to live here fulltime, I stopped my veterinary equine rehab. centre in Holland

Explaining the anatomy of the spine. Insets: three of Gerry’s Icelandic horses. © Gerry van Oossanen

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“Although we have horses on-site for the courses, we also work together with a local riding school so we can have a bigger choice of horses. Since I still have my courses in Holland, I’ve been travelling there and back about 12 times a year. But I’m going to change that this year since the driving (ten hours without traffic jams) is getting too tiring for me and I don’t like to be away so much. “I think it’s important to involve your local community in what you are doing, especially with something very specific like my business. As soon as the renovations were finished and I could move here permanently, I invited my neighbours for an apéritif so they could see what was going on. My house used to be the centre of the agricultural community and had been in the same family since the 16th Century, so it was a big shock for them when the sisters decided to sell. “It was quite normal that from day one they showed great interest in the crazy Dutch lady with her two teckels [wire-haired dachshunds] who had decided to live in that big, isolated place that needed so much work. They really thought I was nuts! But the French agricultural community accepted me into their midst from day one. They help me on the land or with heavy jobs, they give me

On this month June 5, 1783: The first piloted ascent by man takes place with a hot-air balloon launch at Annonay, France, by the brothers Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier. Their 33ft diameter globe aérostatique managed to reach around 6,000 feet with Jacques-Étienne on board. In September of the same year, they repeated the experiment for King Louis XVI, but this time with a sheep, a rooster and a duck as the balloon’s passengers!

An explanation of how to fit a saddle correctly. © Gerry van Oossanen

fruit and vegetables, they invite me for coffee and dinner and to fêtes. They even arranged a French teacher for me as they knew I was trying so hard to speak the language. “You often hear people say it’s so difficult to get accepted in France, but I only have good experiences. I would never want to go back to Holland. My life is better than I could ever have expected. I arrived not knowing anyone and with no family here, but if you are open to meeting people, to adjusting to a new culture and a new life, you will meet new friends very easily. That’s my experience. Now I have great French, English and Dutch friends here. Yes, I moved alone to France, but I absolutely don’t feel alone in France. My social life here is almost a full-time job, but I love it. I’m grateful to have such good friends around me, always there when I need them, day and night, to cry and to laugh with. “On Friday mornings I work as a volunteer with a super team at Galia, the dog and cat refuge in Fontenay-le-Compte. I think it’s good to take up a volunteer job if you start a new life in new surroundings. That way you get to know more people and you can make a difference at the same time. We can always use more volunteers, or support in other ways, so why not get in touch!” Right: Pippa and Polly (sisters), Gerry’s Dashunds. Below: Gerry volunteering at Galia, the dog and cat refuge at Fontenay-lecompte. © Gerry van Oossanen

Do you, or someone you know, have an interesting story to share? We’d love to know more... please feel free to contact us with a brief outline of the French Adventure.

June 7, 1848: French painter Paul Gauguin is born in Paris. He worked as a stockbroker, only becoming a painter in middle age. He left Paris for Tahiti, where he developed an interest in primitive art. Among his best known works were Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? and Spirit of the Dead Watching. His style, using broad, flat tones and bold colours, inspired artists such as Edvard Munch, Henri Matisse and the young Pablo Picasso. June 17, 1885: The dismantled Statue of Liberty – a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of America – arrives in New York harbour after being shipped across the Atlantic in 350 individual pieces packed in more than 200 crates. The statue was designed by French sculptor FredericAuguste Bartholdi (who modelled it after his own mother) with help from engineer Gustave Eiffel, who later built the Eiffel Tower. June 13, 1895: Emile Levassor crosses the finish line to win what is considered to be the world’s first real automobile race. He was driving a Panhard et Lavassor car with a twin-cylinder, four horsepower Daimler Phoenix engine in the race held from Paris to Bordeaux and back. He completed the 732-mile course in just under 49 hours at a then-impressive average speed of around 15mph. June 16, 1961: Rudolf Nureyev, rising star of the Soviet Union’s Kirov Opera Ballet Company, defects during a stopover in Paris. Just as the company was preparing to board a flight home, Nureyev broke from the group and insisted he was staying in France. According to eye-witnesses, other members of the troupe pleaded with Nureyev to rejoin them, but he threw himself into the arms of airport security shouting “Protect me!”Nureyev was taken into custody, where he asked for political asylum. The troupe eventually flew back to Russia without him.

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 27

Communications Windows 10 - Disc Cleanup


icrosoft Windows 10 continues to deliver new features, through its mandatory update program. Even though we can’t control when the updates are done and what features we get, there are many reasons why it is a good thing. But the updates can leave quite a mess on the operating system’s hard disk drive. To keep your system running at its best you should remove unnecessary files that are remaining after these updates. The Windows 10 operating system provides the tool to do this Disk Cleanup. You may access this via the Search Box/Cortana Search (usually to the right of the Start button) or in File Explorer, simply right click Local Disk (C:) and left click Disk Cleanup. The search option will ask you to select the disk you wish to clean, chose the Operating System Disk (usually Drive C). Now left click the Disk Cleanup button. This will analyse the hard disk you have selected, but for a different set of files. Once the analysis is complete, you will see a similar new dialogue box listing the files Windows recommends that you remove, and showing a figure of the total amount of disk space you gain. Below that in the Description Box you will see a Clean System Files button, left click this to search for the Windows System Files that you may cleanup.

The next dialogue box to be displayed is shown left, and may take quite some time to complete as it scans your system for the myriad of files that may be cleaned off. I have known this take well over two hours on slower systems. Please note that the images in this article are actual images of my recent disk cleanup from the second phase of what Microsoft are calling the Fall Creator’s Update. This was virtually a reinstallation of the complete operating system. I am using Windows 10 Pro. The image on the right is the next box displayed once the scan is complete; in my case there was 8.38 GB to remove from the system. I have had some customers have over 10 GB of files to be removed. Needless to say, removing this amount of data will also take time, expect upwards of an hour for anything over 2-3 GB. Once you click

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

by Ross Hendry

OK you will be warned that you are going to permanently delete these files. You wish to do this so continue. Now you will see a progress bar showing that the system is cleaning up system files. Under this you can clearly see Cleaning: Windows Update Cleanup. When the operation is complete you will see a final summary of the general status of the disk you have just cleaned, hopefully reflecting a reduction in the overall amount of used space. Once I have completed the Windows Disk Cleanup, I like to run Ccleaner just to check the system again for any files to be deleted (using the Cleaner Tab). I do not expect this to find many as I have just used the Windows version to do this. However, more importantly I run the Registry Cleaner using the next tab down Registry. Left click the Registry Tab and then left click, Scan For Issues. Once this is complete, click Fix Selected Issues. This will ask you if you want to back-up the changes to the Registry, click Yes. Then click Save, this will place a backup copy of the registry in your My Documents Folder, this is well worth doing just in case there are any problems. The file name starts cc_ then is made up using the date and time reversed. Simply click Save to record the backup. The system will then permit you to Fix All Selected Issues, click this to continue. Once complete, close the dialogue box. I like to click Scan For Issues again and repeat these steps until there are no other issues, repeating the Saves as before. These procedures will keep your system in good order and reduce the amount of files taking up unnecessary space. Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 43 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (see advert below).

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

05 49 64 59 96

French State health insurance advice line

08 11 36 36 46

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

04 68 23 43 79

Orange helpline

09 69 36 39 00

EDF International Customer Service

05 62 16 49 08

CLEISS (Social security advice between countries)

01 45 26 33 41

Funeral Information (AFIF)

01 45 44 90 03 or

Passport Advice

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

Food & Drink

The Frugal French Pantry F

Fantastic food on a budget...

by Amanda Wren-Grimwood

rugal Baking using store cupboard ingredients, fruit from the garden, foraged nuts and overripe fruit. Perfect for entertaining or just to spoil yourself with afternoon tea!

Pecan Banana Avocado Cake

French Madeleines

with Cardamom and Lime

This cake has no added oil or butter and is perfect for using up overripe fruit. Swap the pecans for a few foraged walnuts and enjoy! It’s very moist so you can leave off the icing too.

Here’s a French classic with store cupboard ingredients. Substitute the lime for lemon or orange and leave out the spice if you like.

Ingredients for 12 servings: • 175g brown sugar • 3 large eggs • 1 tsp vanilla extract • 300g self raising flour • 450g mashed ripe bananas and 1 avocado • 100g chopped pecans or walnuts

Ingredients for 24 servings: • 150g caster sugar • 3 large eggs • 150g self raising flour • zest of a lime • 1½ tsp ground cardamom • 150g butter, melted and cooled

Instructions: 1. Grease and flour a 20cm spring form cake tin. Preheat oven to 180C. 2. Mix all of the ingredients together well then stir in the pecans. 3. Pour into the tin and bake for 50 minutes until a skewer comes out clean. 4. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely. 5. Decorate with icing or dredge with icing sugar to serve.

Instructions: 1. Whisk together the sugar and eggs until creamy. 2. Combine the salt, flour and cardamom and sieve into the egg mixture. 3. Fold in the flour mix and lime zest before stirring in the melted butter. 4. Leave the mixture to stand while the oven heats to 220C. 5. Grease the shell moulds and half-fill with the mixture then bake for 12 minutes until well risen and golden. 6. Turn out onto a rack to cool slightly then enjoy warm.

Amanda lives in La Chapelle St Etienne and is the writer behind the food blog where she posts new recipes weekly. Photo credit © Amanda Wren-Grimwood

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

Treacle Tart with Ginger and Lemon

Cherry Clafoutis

This is a really naughty favourite. Leave out the pecans or replace with walnuts or hazelnuts.

If you can make pancakes, try these savoury galettes for an easy meal at any time.

Ingredients for 8 servings: • 225g plain flour • 70g butter • 60g of lard • Beaten egg For filling • Two eggs beaten • 1 tsp of ginger • Zest of one lemon • 60g chopped pecans • 140g of white breadcrumbs • 500g of golden syrup

Ingredients for 4 servings: • 225g cherries pitted • 70ml milk • 2 eggs • 1 heaped tbsp sugar • 1 tbsp flour sifted • ½ tsp vanilla extract • 1 tbsp butter melted • ½ tsp salt • sugar and butter to dredge ramekins

Instructions: 1. Make the pastry by combining flour, lard and butter in a food processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add enough beaten egg to make a dough and roll out to line a 23cm tin. Lightly prick the bottom and chill for 20 minutes. 2. Bake the pastry cases blind on a baking sheet at 200C for about 15 minutes until the edges are golden. Remove the paper and bake for a further five minutes until the base is golden. 3. Put the breadcrumbs in a large mixing bowl with the lemon zest, pecans and the ginger. Stand the tin of golden syrup or bottle in warm water and then measure out the syrup. Add to the breadcrumbs and mix to combine. 4. Place the filling into the pastry case and spread out. Bake for 40 minutes at 170C.

Instructions: 1. Butter 4 ramekins and dredge with sugar. 2. Arrange cherries in the bottom of the ramekins. 3. Beat together the eggs, salt, sugar and vanilla. 4. Add the flour and beat well before adding the melted butter and milk. 5. Bake at 180C for 15-20 minutes and then dredge with granulated or icing sugar to serve.

Why I’m No Longer Passionate About Wine

Then I started to notice more and more the words ‘passion’ and ‘passionate’ used when talking about winemakers who were keen, really keen, about what they were doing. Ditto wine professionals be they writers, commentators, pundits, sommeliers. The words cropped up in conversations conducted by people I had hitherto considered to be relatively sane. “Oo, he’s great, he’s so passionate about wine”. That kind of thing. Now, as a one-off usage this can be overlooked as an unintended consequence of a glass or two too many, but when it becomes a verbal tic uttered even in the cold morning hours – well, then it starts to grate. Then irritate. Then profoundly annoy. I guess my main objection is that it’s a blunderbuss approach to language which is just as harmful as a blunderbuss approach to winemaking. If you want 100 Parker points for your Bordeaux red then pick your grapes as late as possible and make the wine as jammy and alcoholic as possible. Whites? Easy. Put the fermented juice into new oak barrels (or even better, ferment grapes there in the first place) and let that buttery oakiness ooze on through. No finesse required. No attention to detail. No feeling for terroir. No feeling for language. As long as you’re bloody passionate about the whole thing then all is forgiven. This antipathy of mine came to a head while reading the introduction to ‘Secrets of the Sommeliers’ by Rajat Parr and Jordan Mackay. It was peppered with the ‘P’ word, so much so that I almost gave up at page three. But I soldiered on, having flicked through and been encouraged by the many fine photographs in the book. And I’m glad I did. This is one heck of a good read for anyone moderately to seriously interested in wine – the ‘P’ word even peters out as you plough on, though it does make the occasional guest appearance like an overweight, confused Elvis. What I particularly liked about the book is that it confirms several of my long held beliefs – the only thing better than knowing you’re right is to have a cohort of professionals agreeing with you. Take,

for example, the ‘code’ letters on champagne labels which I talked about a while ago. NM stand for négociant-manipulant, that is a large house that buys its grapes from here there and everywhere. You will see these letters (if you look hard) on labels of all the big, household names. My new mate, Mr Parr, says “If given a choice, these are the wines I generally avoid”. He goes on to say, “The code I prefer to see is RM, for récoltant-manipulant, which means that the wine is made by a grower-producer”. In other words, someone who is mindful of what they’re doing and oversees the whole process from grape to bottle. His grape to his bottle. Another champagne-related point he makes concerns disgorgement dates. Disgorgement is one of the final stages of the champagne making process, when the lees (dead yeast cells) are gathered in the neck of the bottle and expelled (= disgorged). The lees are the wine’s armour, protecting it from oxidation and keeping it young and lively. However, and to quote Mr Parr, “Once the lees are gone, the clock starts ticking: the champagne begins to age in the bottle like any other wine”. If a bottle has been recently disgorged it will retain its vitality; another bottle disgorged in the dim and distant past and which has been standing in a wine shop ever since, will be more nutty and yeasty. You might prefer this, but at least you know what to expect, and knowledge is power. Not many champagne makers give the disgorgement date (more should) but where it is given you have another tool in making your buying decision. Another of my pet peeves is Beaujolais Nouveau. Parr quotes the great American wine importer, Kermit Lynch, as saying, “one sees that the nightmare can happen. A recipe, a formula, can take over an entire region”. Indeed. What started as a neat marketing strategy – “ah, the Beajolais Nouveau est arrivé! “– became a self-penned, self-inflicted smear campaign. When you market wine that has only just finished fermentation as the in-thing it’s simply a matter of time before consumers realise they’ve been had. Unfortunately, they turned against not only Beaujolais Nouveau (rightly) but also Beaujolais wine generally (ever so wrongly). Happily, the nightmare is showing signs of ending and more and more wine lovers are learning (relearning?) to appreciate what that beautiful swathe of our country has to offer. As an encouraging sign of the times, a recent American client asked me to arrange a day trip to vineyards within easy reach of Lyon. Well, I said, you have Cote Rotie to the south, or… Beaujolais to the north. And with bated breath, I recommended Beaujolais. He went for it, loved it, and promised to sing the praises of the great Beajolais Crus at every opportunity. If you would like a wine trip to this or any other wine producing region in France (including our local Vendée) don’t hesitate to contact me. You know how p…, p…, p…, particular I am. Some passionate drinkers

©wiki commons/OneArmedMan


t came slowly. Such things usually do. There’d been signs that I’d tried to ignore, hoping that they were one-offs and that normal service would be resumed. And indeed, for more or less long periods the symptoms abated, sometimes seemed to have disappeared. Those were the days when I visited enthusiastic winemakers who went about their business with diligence and dedication. They displayed their expertise with gusto and relish. From time to time, in remoter vineyards where town people seldom tread, I saw emotion in winemakers that started as fervour but soon gave way, as a dam breaks, to an almost maniacal fanaticism. It was good to see; it was good to be there.

by John Sherwin

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

French Lunch Hours


by Jacqueline Brown

’m having a baking day which has resulted in ingredients all over the kitchen; from goat cheese to lemon zest and not forgetting the strawberry jam, boiling cream and lots of flour. In fact, you find me in a floury mess, trying desperately to keep the keyboard clean, as the wise husband says sticky fingers, flour and crumbs are not good for computers. It’s a weekend packed with different activities and a cake for each occasion is called for. A savoury goats’ cheese cake will be the perfect apéro nibbles with friends. A rectangular version of a Victoria sandwich should be easier to cut into manageable bitesized pieces and offer with coffee at an event in the village. And the simple (so the recipe says) tarte au citron should be perfect, served as a birthday dessert at dinner with friends from the UK (using us as a stopover on their way to Portugal in a small convoy of Minis). I find myself butterflying from one unfinished task to another, not unusual for me and seemingly more common now I’m out at work. Arriving home from the library at the end of a morning generally goes something like this: check emails, delete the thirty or so from India trying to sell me insurance, a credit card or read my horoscope. Read the important ones and think about replying, make a cup of tea, take it into garden, forget about email replies, check the pots, do some weeding, forget about the tea, check on the chicken water bowl, head out to orchard, think about getting mower out, come in to change, notice cushions need rearranging, shake the sofa throws, then see the floor needs sweeping, take forgotten pile of books upstairs, put washing machine on, forget about mowing etc. This state of disorganisation is probably how I managed to get in a bit of a muddle with the simple lemon tarte recipe. Aside from buying way too much cream as I got completely mixed up with my millilitres and centilitres, I also forgot to add the flour to the lemon filling, only remembering once the tarte had come out of the oven, (I suspect it may also be suffering from a soggy bottom too). Oh well, it smells like a lemon tarte and looks something like a lemon tarte, so fingers crossed it won’t taste too bad. Note to self, don’t attempt new recipes when time is tight. One thing I have managed to finish, even though time spent faffing on it might have been better spent weeding the potager, is my vélo fleuri and I’m very proud of it. This summer our village is trying to organise the residents to take part in a bit of garden decorating. It is not a competition, just encouragement to brighten up some spaces with old bikes turned into flowery works of art. As a cycle loving family, I couldn’t resist doing my bit. You can find all these recipes on Email:

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018


ARE YOU A BUSINESS BASED IN NORTH DEUX-SEVRES? Readers are looking for tradespeople in this area... Please get in touch if you’d like to place an advert.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 33



n March 2019, the Rallye des Gazelles will depart for its 29th edition, and among the teams will be the first ever 100% British entry!

Haley Bennett and Helen Tait Wright, along with Priscilla, their Land Rover Defender 110, will not only be representing their home country of Britain, but also our region, as they both live in the Deux-Sèvres. Before we meet the girls, let me tell you about the Rallye des Gazelles. The rally is the ONLY all-women rally-raid in the world that takes place 100% off-road. Created in 1990, this unique event brings women aged 18 to 71 from around the world together, in the Moroccan desert. Since its creation, the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc has been developing a new vision for motorsport: not based on speed and no GPS or electronic aids; just old-school navigation, entirely off-road: a real challenge mentally, physically and emotionally. It is the only event in the world with this unique concept. The winning team is the one that drives the least number of kilometers while finding the greatest number of checkpoints. The women who take part in this rally—known as Gazelles—are of all ages, social backgrounds, nationalities and levels of off-road experience. The rally also has a serious environmental and social commitment. It is the first rally in the world to obtain ISO 14001:2004 certification in 2010 for environmental management and courtesy of its nonprofit organisation, Cœur de Gazelles. Community projects are

implemented, an average of 8,000 medical consultations are provided and 7,000 people receive donations collected by the Gazelles, each year. In addition, Cœur de Gazelles educate the desert populations about environmental issues as well as helping to provide schools and are involved in projects to build wells and training facilities, where women from isolated communities can learn a trade in order to earn a living. For these reasons, His Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco has placed the event under his High Patronage and allows the Gazelles to bear the Royal coat of arms on their official vests. It has been an ambition of Helen’s to compete in the rally since she found out about it from her friends in Morocco in 2015. Born in East Anglia into a farming family, Helen has always loved cars and been involved with motorsport in one way or another. As a designer and couturier Helen has found in Morocco a country, people and way of life that she loves, and that inspire and excite her. “When I get to Morocco, I come alive” says Helen. “The country and the people I have met there have given me so much, and I have a very strong sense that I want to give something back. I also wanted to complete a personal challenge before my 50th birthday, so the Rallye des Gazelles ticks all my boxes and I couldn’t be more excited!” Haley was brought up in the West Midlands and after teaching Design and Technology served as a police officer before moving to France. Haley is a traveller and adventurer, and has travelled extensively, including a trek to Mount Everest Base Camp in 2014. However, she has not yet visited Morocco! “Helen is the driving force (no pun intended) behind us competing in the Rallye des Gazelles”, says Haley “and I was thrilled when she asked me to join her in this challenge. I am a very competitive person but also a team player and like Helen I am looking forward to sharing this experience with like-minded women.”

The desert terrain Helen and Haley will be driving through in the Rallye des Gazelles © Maienga

Helen and Haley meeting Priscilla for the first time. © David Ash

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

Chimera, the team name, came about because the mythical beast has a lion’s head, representing their British roots, a gazelle’s body, for obvious reasons and a snake’s tail for gliding over the sand ……. oh, and Haley used to own another car bearing the Chimera name! The Chimera is supposed, according to legend, to be immortal, and is generally considered to have been female despite the mane adorning the lion’s head. A strong team symbol. The girls have just returned from their first team road trip to the UK to collect Priscilla (Queen of the Desert). When discussing which 4x4 to use, a Land Rover seemed like the obvious choice. “We need something fit for purpose and uncomplicated” explains Helen. “While the organisers provide mechanic support, there is a penalty for using it while you are out on a stage, and we don’t want penalties!” Although Helen and her husband already own a Land Rover, it is a 90 V8 and far too thirsty for a desert rally, so Jonathan Lane, a Specialist in the UK has built Priscilla to the girls’ spec. The main modifications are increased ground clearance, underbody protection and additional fuel and water tanks. Apparently a little fridge for the gin and or bubbles may find it’s way into the back too. After all, it is a girls’ rally! Aside from the main competition, there is a competition amongst the Gazelles called the Beauty Car Challenge, which is awarded to the team competing in the Rallye with the most outstanding, visually effective vehicle wrap (a large vinyl graphic), and of course two Gazelles with design backgrounds were always going to have a go at winning this! The brief to the wrap specialists at Blue lizard Signs in Crawley was Mad Max meets Steampunk and despite a few hiccups along the way, Helen and Haley are absolutely delighted with the way Priscilla looks. Only time will tell if it is good enough to win! Now the team is focusing on fundraising and finding sponsorship for their adventure, before they start their off road driving and navigation training later in the year. They will be present in the Parc Ferme at the Grand Prix Historique in Bressuire this month and at the Grand Prix Retro in Le Puy Notre Dame on 28th and 29th of July.

On the 1st July they are hosting an English Afternoon Tea, at the Salle des Fetes in Bouille St Paul, sponsored by The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, to raise funds. “We really want to engage the people and businesses here in the Deux-Sèvres with our adventure” says Helen. “For businesses the media coverage during the rally is impressive, particularly here in France and also worldwide, but we “Where did we park the car?”© Maienga will also be very visible in the region in the run-up to the rally, and I think you will agree that Priscilla is a very noticeable mobile billboard to have your logo on!” The girls are fully registered as an Association for fundraising purposes and anyone that would like to be an official sponsor can contact them for more details via email: helen@chimeraracing. org When the girls are actually out in the desert everyone will be able to follow their progress live on the Rallye des Gazelles website, and we will bring you details of that nearer the time, but for now you can keep in touch with their progress via their Facebook page: @ChimeraRDG2019

Helen, Haley and Priscilla showing-off the Chimera Racing team colours. © David Ash

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 35

Building & Renovation

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

The roof, the whole roof, and nothing but the roof Malcolm has been working in the roofing industry for over 40 years. His experience has been sought after in America and Germany, where his roofing skills have been called upon in the construction of stately and unusual homes. In the UK he has re-slated many English Heritage buildings, churches and some of the UK’s finest properties. Since moving to France with his family, Malcolm has been very busy responding to anything from an emergency leak to replacing entire roofs. For a free estimation please call: 06 35 11 27 31 or send an email

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 37

Small B/W Advert from 34€ per month

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 39

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

Business & Finance Marketing Matters

by Cindy Mobey


The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR)

his month I have spent a considerable amount of time looking at the new data protection rules and trying to make sure that the websites I own and look after are GDPR compliant. The new regulations came into force on 25th May and if you haven’t done anything about it yet, now is the time to make sure that your business is all above board. It was very daunting at the start, but I got there in the end. What is GDPR? GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulations and it is a framework being introduced across the EU to give us all control over our personal data, imposing strict rules on those who host and process our data anywhere in the world. We are generally a lot more computer and data aware these days and we understand that brands use our data for sales and marketing purposes. Most of us are aware that we have rights over our own data and are concerned about the threat of cyber data theft. These new regulations will ensure that all these points are covered and our data is protected from all these threats. Most companies, whether small businesses or large corporates are concerned about the financial penalties that the regulation could bring into force, so it is imperative that we know what we have to do to comply (especially if we hold data for our customers), regardless of whether we sell goods or provide a service.

Why do we need new regulations? Before GDPR, there was the Data Protection Act of 1998 which is based on protecting our data, first laid down in 1995. If you think about it, back in 1995, our lives were nothing like they are today. The internet was not as available as it is now and not many of us had a computer or mobile phone; we sent our photos off to be developed and generally, the data we shared was very limited. How things have changed. Everyone has access to the internet and a lot of us use things like Facebook, Instagram etc. Most people have mobile phones, laptops or tablets with apps that store ours and our friends’ information. We buy things and bank online. The world is a very different place and the way we use and share information has changed considerably. So the Data Protection Act of 1998 is no longer fit for purpose. But the new regulations will ensure the safety of our personal data with today’s technology. So it’s a very important step forward to keep regulations in-line with current technology. How do I make sure that I comply with the new regulations? If you hold and process any kind of data on your customers, you need to ensure you are compliant. This includes things like email addresses, telephone numbers, postal addresses, names, a mailing list and so on. It also applies if you have a website, have customers, employees or work with other freelancers. There is a lot of information online and some take you through what you need to do step by step. I enlisted the help of Elaine Rogers, (The Smart VA), whose GDPR guide has been invaluable in pointing me in the right direction in order to be compliant. She has developed a step by step process, which is written in easy to understand language and very straight forward. If you would like to get your free guide or contact Elaine for more help, you can find her at Good luck with getting yourselves up to speed with the new GDPR and don’t panic, it’s not as bad as it sounds!

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


Simply register on our website:

Helen Booth DipPFS, EFA

Senion Financial Adviser Email: Mobile: +33 (0) 771712879

deVere France can advise you on ways to help safeguard and increase your wealth, as well as helping with HMRC-recognised pension transfers to a Qualifies Recognised Overseas Pensions scheme (QROPS) to give you potentially more flexibility in your pension plans.

Dénomination sociale: deVere France S.a.r.l, RCS B 528949837, 29 Rue Taitbout, 75009, Paris, France. Gérant: Mr. Jason Trowles. Registre avec ANACOFI-CIF (Association Nationale des Conseils Financiers). Nombre enregistré: E008176, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers. Courtier d'assurances ou de réassurance, Catégorie B, inscrit à l'Organisme pour le Registre des Intermédiaires en Assurance (ORIAS) numéro enregistré 12064640. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier et L 512-6 et 512-7 du Code des Assurances. Registered name: deVere France S.a.r.l, registered company number RCS B 528949837, 29 Rue Taitbout, 75009, Paris, France. Gérant: Mr. Jason Trowles. Registered with ANACOFI-CIF (National Association of Financial Advisers). Registered number: E008176, association approved by the Financial Markets Authority. Insurance and re-insurance brokers, Category B, registered with the Organisation for the Registration of Assurance Intermediaries (ORIAS). Registered number 12064640. Financial and Professional Liability Insurance Guarantee conforms to article L 541-3 of the Monetary and Fiscal Code and L 512-6 and 512-7 of the Assurance Code. 6XKWSX • V1.0/120418

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 41

Loi Pinel or How a rental investment can reduce your income tax!


he number one hobby in France is avoiding tax! But it might come as a surprise to you that it is actually legal and encouraged by the French government. Over the past 30 years, the French government has created some laws, which gives you tax reduction in return for investing in building/ creating new housing in specific areas where it is needed. Quick history: Just to confuse people, the name of the law and the details of it changes with every government, in my view, only to satisfy the ego of some ministers. Yes, you guessed it, the law bears the name of the minister who created it. Loi Pinel (law Pinel). It is named after Sylvia Pinel who was housing minister. But over the past 30 years, we had Law: Borloo, Duflot, Malraux, Sellier, Robien, DeRobien, Besson, Mehaignerie just to name a few! Fortunately, our new President has decided to keep Loi Pinel until 2021 and not change the name, only some details of it. How does it work: You buy a flat or house ‘en vente future d’achevement’ (VFA), meaning it has not yet been built (you buy it off-plan) and in return the French government gives you 2% of your investment per year as a tax reduction. So, if you buy a flat at 100 000€, you can claim back 2 000€ off your income tax over the next nine years, 1% in year nine to twelve. Conditions: You have to let the residence for at least six years. It must be the tenant’s main residence. You only get the tax reduction for the rented period. Meaning if you stop the rental after the six years, you also stop the tax advantages. The residence has to be in dedicated areas (basically big cities), where housing is in short supply. Limits: You cannot buy more than 300 000€ of housing per year. And all your tax reduction accumulated cannot exceed 10 000€ per year. There are other legal ways to reduce your tax e.g. paying a gardener/cleaner for work on your main residence, so if you add

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

by Isabelle Want

them to Loi Pinel, make sure you don’t go over 10 000€. Who is it for: Well, obviously for people who pay more than 2 500€ of income tax per year and who want to invest in properties. If you think about it, you generate yourself some assets and in return you get tax advantages. How do you do it: Well, quite a few companies offer some Loi Pinel programmes and yes, Allianz in partnership with Credit Foncier do to. We have more than 25 years experience in this and we make sure that the residences we recommend, use recognised builders and only 10% of these properties are used as Loi Pinel. The rest are sold as a main residence to private owners, to ensure that the building is not fully let to tenants. To conclude, if you don’t like paying income tax and you are thinking of building yourself a property portfolio, this is definitely for you. But be aware who you do it with. Feel free to contact me for any further information on this subject. And check out our website for my previous articles on the ‘practical pages’ and subscribe to my monthly newsletter.

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:

Cutting the Cost of Transferring Funds by Sue Cook

Q> “With only a year left to go until the

UK formally leaves the EU, is the GBP/EUR exchange rate likely to experience more Brexit-related movements?”


Brexit uncertainty has rippled across the currency market since the UK voted to leave the EU nearly two years ago. The upheaval inspired by the process has driven considerable movement in the GBP/EUR exchange rate in particular. It went from trading in the region of 1.30€ immediately before the EU referendum to strike lows of 1.07€ at certain flashpoints.

Ask Amanda by Amanda Johnson


ey Amanda, I haven’t seen any ‘Tours de Finance’ adverts so far this year. Are you running some, or have I missed them? That’s a great question. Our ‘Tours de Finance’ events are a great opportunity for expatriates to talk to industry specialists not normally available directly to our clients. We will be holding this year’s events during the third quarter where the topics covered will include: •

Tax Efficient Investments

Wills and Inheritance Tax Planning

Foreign Exchange

While GBP/EUR appears to have stabilised a little over the last six months, trading within a range of 1.13€ to 1.15€, there is likely to be further volatility ahead as negotiations over the UK and EU’s future relationship finally get underway.


Regulatory Updates

The focal point of these negotiations will undoubtedly be the shape of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU.

If you would like details of our upcoming events, please email or telephone me. Those who have requested updates in the past will be contacted during the next month regarding the new European data protection laws.

Some analysts even went so far as to briefly predict parity between the pairing in late 2016.

Theresa May has called for ambitious discussions with the EU in regards to trade agreement, something that EU officials appeared to be open to. This could see Sterling make significant headway towards recouping some of its Brexit related losses if the tone of talks appears positive.

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

Additionally, positive progress in the second stage of talks could also prompt a more hawkish outlook from the Bank of England (BoE). This may give policymakers the confidence to accelerate the path of interest rate rises over the coming year, something that could also lend considerable support to the pound. Whatever the outcome of talks, you can be sure Brexit is likely to remain a significant catalyst of the GBP/EUR exchange rate movement over the next twelve months and beyond. If you’re concerned about the potential impact of Brexit on your currency transfers, stay on top of the latest developments with the support of a leading currency broker like Currencies Direct. With regular market updates and a range of transfer options, they’ll help you secure an excellent exchange rate and make your money go further.

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 43

Get the most out of living in France T here are many attractions and advantages to living in France. However there are some drawbacks too, such as unfamiliar local bureaucracy and a complex, expensive and frequently changing tax regime.

To get the best out of living here, your financial planning should be specifically set up to work well and provide advantages in France, while taking your family’s situation into account. You need to understand the various French taxes and the impact that they have on you (social charges and the succession tax rules can be an unwelcome surprise for British expatriates) and how you can use the rules to your advantage. French succession law, with its forced heirship regime, is also unfamiliar for UK nationals. You need to understand how this can affect your family, what your options are to avoid it and which would work best for you. Establish what the best savings and investment strategy is for you now, with your changed circumstances, and look at how all the options for your UK pension funds would work in France, from a general and tax perspective. Consider also capital gains tax on selling your UK assets and if you can avoid it. The sooner you get your financial planning sorted, the sooner you can get on with enjoying your life in France. The Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France has been written to provide UK nationals with the key information they need regarding tax

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks

and wealth management in France. It is useful whether you are at the planning stages of moving here, are a new arrival or have been living here a while, or if you own a French holiday home. It is also helpful for those returning to the UK. The new, Edition 9 is now available. It has 25 chapters (over 300 pages) covering a range of topics, including: Purchasing French property Who should own the property French residence Income tax and social charges Capital gains tax Property wealth tax Succession tax Succession law Dying in France Assurance Vie and French taxation

Trusts and French taxation The French healthcare system Pensions, QROPS and QNUPS Shedding UK residence Avoiding UK capital gains tax Your UK home while living in France UK inheritance tax

Blevins Franks has been providing specialist advice to British expatriates for decades. The Blevins Franks Guide to Living in France is based on our vast experience and deep understanding of expatriates’ financial planning needs. The book is available from our website www., in the ‘News/Publications’ section. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at



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Far superior to timber pool kits and a match for any in-ground pool kits these pools are perfect for the budget conscious customer with an eye for quality. They are easy to install so can be done by a competent DIY person with a detailed English installation manual. Or, if you prefer, we can supply an experienced team to do the installation for you in your area. With kit prices starting from just €5490 there is no reason why you can not enjoy the luxury of a swimming pool at your home without huge expense. Come and see the quality for yourself, call us to arrange a site visit because we know from experience that once you have seen this pool, you will want one.

Telephone - 06 31 17 25 60 email - The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, June 2018 | 45

The Vendée Beckons! by Joanna Leggett


his month we decided to take a hop and skip across the DeuxSèvres border into neighbouring Vendée and jump to the charming sleepy old town of La Châtaigneraie.

It was here, back in early medieval times, where the Châtaignier family decided to build their château - around it the parish of Castaneria (old French for Châtaigne or chestnut) developed. Wars came and went - once the town was famed for weaving, and trade with La Rochelle flourished, later the master weavers fled to America. Louis XIV created a royal court here which brought in lawyers, scholars and the like, later there was the French Revolution – a rich melange! The history and town’s charm are well worth exploring. Today, sitting enjoying a meal in this tranquil town, it seems incredible so much once happened here. Physically, La Châtaignerie looks down towards Vouvant and onwards to Fontenay-le-Comte, and the Marais Poitevin. To the north is the haut bocage and Puy de Fou – it’s not far from the coast and this part of the Vendée is a great place to live. And, like its history, it offers a rich variety of properties for sale – so, whether you want to ‘Escape to the Château’ or buy a ‘fixer-upper’, there’ll be something here just right for you. Starting at the lower price end, we’ve currently listed a small terraced house (Leggett ref: 81726, photo above) in central La Châtaignerie in need of a little TLC but seriously affordable at 49 000€. Perfectly habitable, as it stands it

currently has two bedrooms, lounge and separate dining room as well as garage, store room, central heating and a new roof! At the back, a small balcony overlooks the private back garden with covered terrace. In a hamlet close to town another cottage (Leggett ref: 73253, photo left) sits in an elevated position with a lovely garden. This house can best be described as ‘sweet’ with charm in abundance. On the ground floor there’s a cosy lounge, country kitchen and shower room whilst upstairs there are two very pretty bedrooms with lovely views as well as another loo. Recently reduced to 77 000€. But if your dreams are larger, then in Antigny (south-west of La Châtaignerie) a beautiful 16th century historic Logis (Leggett ref: 83460, photo right) offers large reception rooms, a conservatory, original stone staircase and impressive fireplaces. The main dwelling is in excellent condition, sympathetically restored with four bedrooms and vast attic space. Across the courtyard a second one bedroom house is ideal for guests! Set in approximately one and a half acres there are various outbuildings, lovely mature gardens which lead to a tennis court. This outstanding property with lovely views is on the market for 381 600€! Leggett Immobilier is one of the leading estate agents in France. You can access all our local property listings at


Ref: 86957 Attractive 4 bed / 2 bath longère with pool and great garden. PLIBOUX €224,700

Buying or selling?

Ref: 87610 Impressive 6 bed manor house - pool, stables, garages & parkland. ST PAUL EN GATINE €667,800

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: E

Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

Ref: 87401 Little gem of a cottage to finish walking distance to the village. ARGENTON LES VALLEES €77,000

Ref: 87175 Characterful 2/3 bed cottage with barn in a riverside hamlet. ARGENTON L’EGLISE €99,000

Ref: 87203 6kms from Lezay is this 3 bed stone hamlet home. Garden & land. CHENAY €178,200

Ref: 87059 5 bed / 3 bath Charentaise stone farmhouse in idyllic countryside. PERIGNE €392,200

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

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

6% TTC agency fees included paid by buyer DPE: D

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

6% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: C

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