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Annual Subscription Costs: 31,00€ within France, 20€ 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 SARAH BERRY.

Welcome! to Issue 49 of

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

We’ve recently spent a well-earned break in the UK catching up with family and celebrating a very important milestone for my in-laws...50 years of marriage! Congratulations to them once again x We enjoyed our time catching up with everyone and shopping of course! But to be honest it was nice to return home to our calm, simple life with the cats. I had forgotten how hectic life is in the UK and it’s confirmed to me that DeuxSèvres is where I’m happiest. :-) So March is already upon us and I know a lady who will be pleased to see the spring bulbs poking through the soil....Vanda, aka ‘Amateur Gardener’ and Mum! Spring is such a wonderful month as we get to see all sorts of plant and animal life waking up for another year. In this issue Mick Austin has written a short guide highlighting what we can expect to see happening in and around the area in March. It’s full of interesting facts and get out there and see what you can find! This month also celebrates our 4th Birthday! Where has that time gone?

à plus, Sarah

Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 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 Hobbies Clubs & Associations Health, Beauty & Fitness Our Furry Friends Home & Garden Take a Break A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres French Life Communications Food & Drink Motoring Building & Renovation Business & Finance Property

This Month’s Advertisers

79 Renovations ABORDimmo Ace Pneus (Tyre supplier & Fitter) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) Agence Mélusine AgriPelle (Equipment Sales, Hire and Repairs)

4 6 10 13 16 18 20 26 27 28 29 31 36 38 43 49

40 48 37 2 49 42

AKE Petit Travaux (Builder) 40 A La Bonne Vie  32 Allez Français 49 Amanda Johnson (Le Tour de Finance) 51 Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) 38 Antique Clock Repair & Restoration 20 ARB French Property 30 ARB French Property 49 Arbrecadabra Tree Surgery 22 Atelier JM Toledo (Rug repairs and Cleaning) 20 Bar Le Clemenceau 34 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 46 Bill McEvoy (Plumber / Heating Engineer) 38 Blevins Franks Financial Management 44 Buzz Transport 37 Caniclôture Hidden Fences 19 Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) 6 CJ Electricité 41 Claranne’s Pantry (Epicerie Anglaise) 7 Cleaning Services by Karen 20 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 41 Cottage Services (Year Round Garden Maintenance) 22 Currencies Direct - Sue Cook 47 Cut 46 Hair Salon 17 Darren Lawrence (Renovations etc) 40 David Cropper (Stump Grinding & Jungle Busting) 22 David Watkins Chimney Sweep 41 Deb Challacombe (Online counsellor) 16 Down to Earth Pool Design 48 Duncan White - Agent Commerciale 50 Emilie Baudrez (French Classes & Translation) 9 Equi Libre Immobilier 49 Franglais Deliveries 37 French Wine Tours 33 GAN Assurances 37 Hallmark Electronique 41 Irving Location - Digger Hire 42 Irving Location - Septic Tank Installation & Groundworks 42 Jb Plumbing 39 John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 37 J.P. Lainé Chimney Sweep 41 Julia Hunt - Agent Commerciale 50 Keith Banks Pool Services 48 La Deuxième Chance (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint supplier) 20 Leggett Immobilier 50 Madame Mural (Children’s Wall Art) 38 Mark Sabestini Renovation and Construction 40 ML Computers 30 Motor Parts Charente 37 M. Page Landscaping 22 Mr Piano Man (Piano Tuner) 20 MSS Construction 40 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 37 Nathan Foster Building Services 40 Needa Hand Services 20 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology) 16 Plan 170 (Professional Scale Drawings) 41 Polar Express 34 R & A Services (Full & Partial Renovations) 42 Restaurant des Canards 34 Rob Berry Plastering Services 39 Robert Lupton (Electrician) 41 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) 29 Salon des Vins et Terroirs, Thouars 52 Salon du Vin de la Gastronomie et du Chocolat 31 Sarah Berry Online (Graphic Design & Websites) 30 Sarl Down to Earth Construction (Groundworks and Micro Station Installer) 42 Sarl Faucon 40 Sat-Elec 30 Satellite TV 30 Siddalls (Financial Advisors) 45 Simon the Tiler 39 Simply Homes and Gardens 22 Steve Coupland (Property Services) 39 Steve Enderby (Painter & Decorator) 39 Steve Robin (Plumber) 39 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 9 Susan Gully (Counsellor) 16 Suzanne Cole-King (Bowen Technique) 16 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 37 Val Assist (Translation Services) 9 Victoria Bassey Jewellery Boutique 17 Yoga Vendée 16

© Sarah Berry 2015. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Sarah Berry accepts 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. <<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Sarah Berry, 3 La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tél: 05 49 70 26 21. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Sarah Berry. Crédits photos: Sarah Berry, Clkr, Shutterstock, GraphicStock et Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: mars 2015 - Tirage: 4500 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 3

What’s On...

Until 31st March - Exhibition Barry Hill exposes a dozen tables on “jazz” at the Vintage Bar; 9 rue Baugier, Niort. The bar is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 5pm-2am. 1st March - St David’s Day 7th March – CSSG Quiz afternoon at St Pardoux 2pm, 2€ per person entry. To book email: 7th to 22nd March – Printemps des Poètes at Niort Various events across the region. See for more information. 8th March - Closing of Exposition Souvenirs 1914/1918 At Musée municipale de Parthenay. 8th March - Live Music & Traditional Sunday Lunch At Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne from 12noon. See advert on P34 for details. 14th & 15th March - Open Day at Claranne’s Pantry, St Paul Mont Penit. See advert on P7 for details. 17th March - St Patrick’s Day 17th March - Le Tour de Finance at Maulevrier See advert on P51 for details. 17th March - Live Ballet ‘Swan Lake’ Showing at CGR Cinema, Niort at 8.15pm. See P8 for details. 18th March - Le Tour de Finance at Saumur See advert on P51 for details. 19th March - Le Tour de Finance at Chef Boutonne See advert on P51 for details. 22nd March - Spring Fayre at Mouilleron-en-Pareds At Bar Le Clemenceau 11am-5pm. See advert on P34 For details. 22nd & 23rd March - Printemps aux Jardins at Niort At the Parc des Expositions. 10am-7pm. Entry 2.50€ See for more information. 24th - 29th March - Terri’Thouars Blues Festival Various events at the Théâtre de Thouars. See for more information. 24th March - Blevins Franks’ Seminar at St. Maixent l’École Please see advert on P44 for details. 25th March - Blevins Franks’ Seminar at Saumur Please see advert on P44 for details. 25th March - Book & Coffee morning at Mauzé Thouarsais 10am-12.30pm. Books (2 for 1€), plants, jewellery, organic health & beauty products and much more. 45 rue du Bois Baudron. 27th & 28th March - TheatriVasles performances ‘Outside Edge’ will be shown at Maison du village Theatre in Vasles. For further details see information on P7. 27th, 28th & 29th March - Salon des Vins et Terroirs At Orangerie du Chateau, Thouars. 3€ entry. See Back page for info. 28th & 29th March - Salon du vin et gastronomie et du chocolat At Parc des expositions, Niort. 10am-7pm. Please see details on P31.

Coming Up...

5th & 6th April - Easter lunches at A La Bonne Vie Book early to avoid disappointment (see advert on P32). 6th April - Journée des Plantes at Pamproux See for more information. 11th April - Litfest Creating Writing workshop See article on P11 for more information. 18th April - Bric, Broc et Troc Jardin at La Roche-sur-Yon (85) See for more info. 23rd April - St Georges Day CSSG Event in L’Absie. 26th April - Plantes en Fête at Touzac see for more information. 26th April - Aidez Spring Market At Salles des Fêtes, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. See advert on P6. 17th April - Quiz Night and Meal at Pioussay Fundraising event. To reserve ring Sam 06 58 04 26 73 or Angie 05 49 27 67 15. 24th April - Restaurant des Canards Pub Quiz see advert on P34 For details. 29th April - Book & Coffee morning at Mauze Thouarsais

What’s On...ONLINE

March 2015 The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, PoitouCharentes, hold English speaking monthly services. 1st Sunday at 10.30am: At St Leger, near Melle. Followed by tea & coffee. • 2nd Sunday at 11.00am: the home of Ann White, Jassay • 4th Sunday at 10.30am: the Presbytery Rooms, rue de la Citadelle, Parthenay (opposite St Croix Church). Followed by tea & coffee, and a ‘bring and share’ lunch. A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information please take a look at our website or contact us by email: •

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 05 49 87 89 16 or email: ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre We hold two services each month, on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee is 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 welcome you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. 1st & 3rd Sunday at 11am in The Barn near St Germain de Princay, Vendée and 2nd & 4th Sunday at 11am in two locations: one near Bressuire, Deux-Sèvres 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 Des & Elizabeth Vine 05 49 74 18 27 or visit:

LOCAL MARKETS Mondays......... Tuesdays.........

Wednesdays.... Thursdays........

Friday............... Saturdays........


Benet 85490 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Lezay 79120 Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300 Parthenay 79200 Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 Niort 79000 La Mothe St Héray 79800 Thouars 79100 - and - Melle 79500 Bressuire 79300 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Airvault 79600 - and - Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l’École 79400 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170

Online Calendar now available on

Share your events online for free - email the details to 4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Paperback Jan Books in English Find me at these venues during March: 4th: 5th: 6th: 6th: 11th: 12th: 13th: 14th: 22nd: 25th: 26th: 27th:

Cafe Cour de Miracle, Vouvant 85120. 2.30pm-4.30pm Bar Palais, St Aubin le Cloud 79450. 2pm - 4.30pm Bar de la Paix, Thouars 79100. 11.30 - 1.30pm Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux 79160. 4pm - 6pm Au Bec de Vin, St Jouin de Marnes 79600. 3pm - 5pm Pause! L’Absie 79240. 2pm - 5pm Jan’s Home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay 79390.11am - 4pm Bar Le Chauray, St Maixent l’Ecole 79400. 10am - 12.30pm Bar Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 11am-5pm Jan’s Home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay 79390. 1pm - 5pm Le Relais des 2 moulins, Clessé 79350 4pm - 6pm Vue du Chateau, Bressuire 79300 11am - 1pm

For more info contact Jan on: 06 08 30 73 29 or email:

From 7pm

Open 6 - 8pm

Fish 4 Chip + Authentic Indian meals

Top Hat Quiz & Curry

Dates & Venues for March: 2nd: Limalonges 5th: Chef Boutonne 9th: Theil Rabier 11th: Aigre 12th: Champniers Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 - more info at

Open 6-8.30pm

La Vendée Chippy Weds: Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, 85110 St Vincent Sterlanges. Thurs: Bar ‘La Rando’, 85200 Mervent. Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, 85390 Mouilleron-en-Pareds. Sat: 1st Saturday of the month, Bar ‘Le Marmiton’, 85120 Antigny 14/15 March at Claranne’s Pantry, 85670 St Paul Mont Penit Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 -

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2015 Sunday 1st March Grandmother’s Day (Fête des Grands-mères) Sunday 5th April Easter Sunday (Pâques) Monday 6th April Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Friday 1st May Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Friday 8th May Victory in Europe Day (Fête de la Victoire) Thursday 14th May Ascension Day (Ascension) Sunday 24th May Pentacost (Pentecôte) Monday 25th May Pentacost (Lundi de Pentecôte) Sunday 31st May Mother’s Day (Fête des Mères) Sunday 21st June Father’s Day (Fête des Pères) Sunday 21st June World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) Tuesday 14th July National Day (Fête Nationale) Saturday 15th August Assumption of Mary (Assomption) Sunday 4th October Grandfather’s Day (Fête des Grand-pères) Sunday 1st November All Saint’s Day (Toussaint) Wednesday 11th November Armistice Day (Armistice) Friday 25th December Christmas Day (Noël) Dates in blue are celebration days, not public holidays

Mondays: Tuesdays: Wednesdays: Thursdays: Fridays:

Bar Tilleuls, Champniers (near Civray) Sauzé-Vaussais (Main square) Chef Boutonne (near Chateau) Sauzé-Vaussais - Evening (Main square) Mansle (car park of Simply Supermarket)

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20 -

Mr T’s Friterie

With regular venues at: • • •

Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) Matha 17160 Gourville 16170

• •

Open 6.30-9pm

St Hilaire de Villefranche


St Jean d’Angély 17400

See for details or call 06 02 22 44 74

Reel Fish & Chips

Open 6.30-9pm


Weds 4th & 18th The Canteen, Etusson Fri 6th Bar Tabac PMU, Bouille-Loretz Thurs 19th Bar Tabac PMU, St Martin de Sanzay Fri 20th Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil Sat 21st Bar Tabac, Genneton Tel: 06 04 14 23 94 -

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine. Published by Sarah Berry 3 La Bartière, 79130 SECONDIGNY Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 5

Getting Out & About Aidez SPRING MARKET And VIDE GRENIER SUNDAY 26TH APRIL Salles des Fetes St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Open from 11.00-17.00

All enquiries e-mail Money raised will benefit French Charities Entrance Free of Charge

Chateau of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne


by Ruth Taylor

n the border of Charente-Maritime and Deux-Sèvres (on the road to the coast at La Rochelle or Chatelaillon) Dampierre makes a wonderful day out for all the family.

Burned to the ground in 2002 and now fully restored, it is often known as the ”Phoenix Château” from the spectacular way it rose from the ashes! Awarded a national prize in 2012 for the most beautiful restoration in France, and a Tourist Board prize in 2013, the Château of Dampierre-sur-Boutonne is well worth a visit. With the ‘Visite Libre’ (6€) you see a scènographie (with beautiful costumes) of the story of seven generations of families/owners, showing the château’s history. You can also see the Salvador Dali exhibition (he has a personal link with the château) and a temporary exhibition (changing regularly) of local artists. Converted attics hold other exhibits open to you, as are the world-famous Rennaissance Galleries with sculptured stone panels and hidden alchemic messages. The gardens are there for your enjoyment too. All this will take at least an hour, but please much more so you can benefit fully from the beautiful gardens!

Guided Tours are available in English with full-time guide Mary. Priced at 9€ you will see all of the ‘Visite Libre’, plus the Guide will take you into the private apartments (accessible only in the company of a Guide), where you can view the beautiful Haute Epoch furniture and priceless porcelaine. Our Guides will do all in their power to give you an enjoyable and memorable visit - stories of the historical characters involved will really bring history to life. Opening Times: You may find you spend easily an hour in the gardens, themed in connection March - April & October with the château’s history including a famous labyrinthe, picnic benches, Sunday afternoons and a garden with childrens swings. Drinks are available from the shop, 2pm - 5pm tables and chairs are available on the terrace and there’s a gift shop. For May - June & September eating out before the visit there is an Auberge in the village, but book ahead. Every day 2pm - 6pm The first château at Dampierre was built higher up in the village in 995. In July - August 1495 Dampierre Barony became free from Surgères. François de Clermont, All day, every day after fighting in Italy, began the present castle, completed with the famous 10.30am - 6.30pm Renaissance galleries in 1550. King François I visited after a day’s hunting December - February closed with his friend Claude de Clermont. A literary court sprang up here during except by appointment. the time of Henri II, centred on Jeanne de Vivonne and her daughter the duchess of Retz. In 1851 the family Rabault-Texier-Hedelin bought it; the interior has been refurnished, and the insular landscape (the château is built on five islands of the river Boutonne) restored with its Italian renaissance style gardens. The present owner M. Jean-Louis Hedelin is the fifth generation of his family living here; his wife, Mme Marine Hedelin, former Professor of History from the Sorbonne, speaks excellent English and makes all visitors very welcome whenever she is present. 6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

TheatriVasles Ahi l ar i ouscomedyper f or medi nEngl i sh Unecomédi eenangl ai s


winning entries

Fr i day/v endr edi27Mar ch/mar s2015@ 20h00 Sat ur day/samedi28Mar ch/mar s2015@ 14h30 Théât r eMai sonduVi l l age,Pl ace25Août ,79340Vasl es

Ti cket s10eur os: t heat r i vasl est i cket s@gmai l . com Kat e 0615480089 Ne jetez pas sur la voie publique Please do not throw litter

TheatriVasles , the new theatre group based at Vasles that everyone is talking about, is sure you will be knocked for six by their next production. TheatriVasles sh i nEngl medi or f ouscomedyper i ar l Ahi s ai eenangl Unecomédi

s2015@ 20h00 ch/mar edi27Mar endr day/v i Fr s2015@ 14h30 ch/mar day/samedi28Mar ur Sat es ,79340Vasl 5Août ace2 age,Pl l l sonduVi eMai r Théât

Written by Richard Harris, but often compared to Alan Ayckbourne at his best, Outside Edge is a hilarious comedy about the dramas and diversions of an amateur cricket team and their wives and girlfriends. All the action takes place at the cricket pavilion and the chaos that ensues as the team tries to sort out their marital problems and win the match. With Spring officially just around the corner, this lighthearted play is the perfect choice to get you in the mood for the sunnier days to come.

os: s10eur cket Ti com . l s@gmai cket i est vasl i r heat t e 0615480089 Kat

‘Outside Edge’ is being performed on Friday 27th March at 8pm and Saturday 28th March at 2.30pm at the Maison du Village Theatre in the centre of Vasles (Place du 25 Août, 79340 Vasles). Home of Mouton Village, Vasles is about 10 minutes drive from Parthenay. Tickets cost 10 euros each. Ne jetez pas sur la voie publique Please do not throw litter

Please Note: As a performing arts association, the majority of whose members are not French, the rights of freedom of expression and to live peaceably in this country are very dear to us. For that reason, both performances of this play are dedicated to those who lost their lives in the atrocities in Paris in January. Nous sommes tous Charlie. En tant qu’association d’Artistes du Spectacle, dont la plupart des membres ne sont pas Français, nous sommes très attachés à la liberté d’expression et au droit de vivre en paix dans ce pays. C’est la raison pour laquelle nous dédions les deux représentations de cette pièce aux victimes des atrocités commises à Paris en janvier dernier.  Nous sommes tous Charlie.

Piaf, the Men in her Life

The musical tribute ‘Piaf, the men in her life’ commemorates what would have been Edith Piaf’s centenary year (2015). Edith Piaf was a French cabaret singer who became widely regarded as France’s National diva, as well as being one of France’s greatest international stars. Her music was often autobiographical, with her singing reflecting her life – love, loss and sorrow.

Abandoned by her mother at birth, Piaf believed her weakness for men came from mixing with the prostitutes who cared for her when she lived in a brothel ran by her grandmother. Allegedly blind from the age of 3 to 7, Piaf claimed she was miraculously healed thanks to the prostitutes pooling money to take her on a pilgrimage. At age 14 she joined her father in his acrobatic street performances all over France, where she first sang in public. At aged just 17, unmarried, she had a daughter. The child died at the age of two of meningitis and neglect. In 1951, Piaf was seriously injured in a car crash, just 2 years after her married lover died in a plane crash whilst flying to meet her. She became addicted to morphine and alcohol, married twice, had various attempts at rehabilitation and died of liver cancer at the age of 47. Denied a funeral mass because of her lifestyle, her funeral procession drew tens of thousands of mourners onto the streets of Paris and the ceremony at the cemetery was attended by more than 100,000 fans. Songs, special effects, stories and laughter await you at this theatrical musical, by Association Songs Divine, celebrating the happier times of the life of one of the greatest voices of the Twentieth century. The musical launches with 40 dates in the Poitou-Charentes in 2015, all over France in 2016 and abroad in 2017. More information can be found at

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 7

Tuesday 17th March, 8.15pm (Ballet: 2 acts, duration 3hrs)


Le Lac des Cygnes by Marius Petipa & Lev Ivanov

Opera Season 2015 Fans of classical music and dance will love this!

In conjuction wil the Royal Opera House, the regular operas and ballets continue to be broadcast LIVE to your local CGR cinema in Niort. The greatest tenors, sopranos and orchestral leaders come directly to you highlighting the best of this classical medium. To find other cinemas particpating in this season of live Opera, please visit the website:

FREE Tickets!

Royal Opera House Orchestra Probably one of the most popular ballets in the world and with the wonders of modern technology, with Live HD you will be able to admire the costumes in fine detail and to immerse yourself in this beautiful love story, Swan Lake. Angry that his mother forced him to choose a wife soon, the young prince Siegfried walks in the forest at night, when he sees a passing flock of swans. One of them turns into a gorgeous young woman named Odette, a victim of cruel sorcerer Von Rothbart, condemned to be a swan by day and a woman by night. Siegfried falls in love with Odette, and wants to marry her, which would break the spell.........

We have 2 pairs of tickets to giveaway for each live Opera showing at the CGR Cinema in Niort. For your chance to win these free tickets, simply go to our website and register your name* and email address with us. A name will be drawn randomly 7 days prior to the next showing, and the winning tickets sent to you. *Only one registration allowed per person. The names will rollover to the next draw. If you don’t have access to an email address, please send your name, address and telephone number by post to: Sarah Berry, 3 La Bartiere, 79130 SECONDIGNY.

Plus a Special Discount for DSM Readers! T H E R O YA L B A L L E T



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8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

White Butterflies in Spring by Sue Burgess

There are many proverbs and sayings concerned with Spring and the springtime. Lots of these are concerned with predicting the weather: «Papillon Blanc annonce le printemps» (a white butterfly announces the spring). However «une hirondelle ne fait pas le printemps» (one swallow does not mean spring is here). Spring in France = Summer in England as flowers and trees are earlier here than in England. However «si on tue toutes les hirondelles on n’empêche pas l’arrivée du printemps» (even if you kill all the swallows you won’t stop spring arriving). «Pluie abondante pendant l’automne annonce printemps secc». (Heavy rain during the autumn announces a dry spring). «Printemps secs, étés pluvieux» (Dry spring, wet summer). «Printemps tardif, précoce hiver» (late spring, early winter). Other sayings concern gardening and agriculture: • «Tailler tôt ou tailler tard, rien ne vaut la taille de mars» (Prune early or late, nothing is better than pruning in March). • «Printemps pluvieux - beaucoup de foin et de blé peu» (A rainy spring- a lot of hay and not much wheat). • «Quand, au printemps, la lune est claire, peu de noix espère, - Si la lune est trouble, la noix redouble.» (When the moon is clear in the springtime, don’t hope for a good crop of walnuts, when the moon is hazy, there will be double the quantity of walnuts). • «L’hiver donne le froid, le printemps la verdure, l’été le blé et l’automne le bon vin». (Winter brings the cold, Spring greenery, summer brings wheat and autumn brings good wine). Similarly the month of March has its share of sayings and proverbsalso mainly forecasting the weather : «A mars poudreux, avril pluvieux.» (powdery snow in March, rain in April) or «Au commencement, à la fin, mars a du poison» (from beginning to end, March has poison), «Autant de brouillard en mars que de gelées en mai» (as much fog in March as there will be frost in May). But there’s hope yet- «En mars, quand le merle a sifflé, l’hiver s’en est allé» (In March once the blackbird has sung, winter has gone away). Vocabulary / Vocabulaire: L'anémone (f)................... Anemone Le bluet............................... Cornflower Le crocus............................. Crocus Le jacinthe.......................... Hyacinth L’iris (m)............................. Iris La tulipe.............................. Tulip La jonquille......................... Daffoldil La perce-neige.................... Snow-drop La chélidoine ...................... Celandine Le coucou............................ Cowslip La primevère jaune............. Primrose La primevère......................


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 9

Hobbies More from local writer Alison Morton... Please see back issues of ‘The DSM’ if you would like to see previous articles.

Paid Editors In January, I outlined the ‘free’ editing possibilities - friends, writers’ groups, beta readers and critique partners. This month, let’s look at paid editing help.

Manuscript assessment/evaluation

Not strictly an edit, but if carried out by a competent, qualified person, it will be a more relevant and objective assessment of your work than anything you could get from beta readers, members of your writing group, your family or friends. You may cry in the corner at first and/or pronounce it harsh or rubbish, but when you read the report again, you’ll see the feedback and guidance are honest. Implementing the changes suggested will, almost without exception, help you tighten narrative, banish padding and produce a better book. Sometimes, it will help an author determine whether it makes sense to publish the book at all. Expect to pay £300-350.

Structural editing

Sometimes called developmental or substantive editing, this is the most complex and time-consuming stage of the editorial process and also the most expensive (around £400-500). Many publishers are reluctant to take on books that need structural work. A structural editor works with a manuscript as a whole and analyses how well its various parts contribute to the central message or narrative: plot, themes, structure, characterization, pace, point of view, voice, dialogue, consistency and readability. They also look for a strong opening, good writing such as ‘show don’t tell’, clear motivation, conflict, resolution and change for every character. I have a fabulous structural editor and I never leave this stage out.

Line editing

A line editor checks the quality of the prose, removes unnecessary repetition, restructures sentences and paragraphs so that they flow more smoothly together, and checks the subtleties of word usage. A good line editor can turn dull prose into something both engaging and seamless. However, this is more a process for inexperienced authors who have a story to tell, but are not used to writing. If you have polished your prose to make it attractive, clear, logical and well structured, you may be able to miss out this stage.

Copy editing

A copy editor’s job is to make the text ‘clear, correct, concise, comprehensible, and consistent’. At this nitty-gritty level, they’ll check grammar and syntax; ensure that singular pronouns represent singular nouns and plural pronouns, plural nouns; punctuation, whether to spell out numbers or leave them as numerals, capitalisation, Latin abbreviations, foreign words, quotations; how to use academic, civil and military titles; when to italicize words or use quotation and speech marks, etc. They will also check consistency of eye and hair colour, the layout of rooms, and characters’ movements. Cost - around £400. Believe me, everybody needs a copy editor. If you are on a budget, this is the stage not to miss.


Often confused with copy editing, proofreading is the final check of the electronic file for minor mistakes in spelling, typography, punctuation, spacing, etc. before the manuscript is published. It’s amazing how quickly the brain either skims or corrects mistakes automatically. You can do this yourself if have the eye of a velociraptor and can detach yourself from the text; beware of being drawn into the story. Happy writing! Alison Morton is the author of three novels, and The 500 Word Writing Buddy: 25 Inner Secrets for the New Writer, the compilation of articles from this column. 10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly


by James Luxford

We’ve just had awards season, culminating in last month’s Oscars, and March’s film column highlights the films that have won (and lost) at the big Hollywood ceremonies. They may not all have been winners, but they have all got film fans talking!

Inherent Vice (4th March) Joaquin Phoenix plays a ‘70s hippie private detective investigating the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend in Paul Thomas Anderson’s weird and vivid take on Thomas Pynchon’s novel. While Phoenix is terrific, as is co-star Josh Brolin as a hippie-hating policeman on his tail, the epic length of the film and a general lack of narrative direction mean this twisted detective story will try the patience of even the most ardent film fan. Whilst it has its charms, this may be one for die-hard fans of Anderson only. Selma (11th March) Martin Luther King’s history-making march from the small town of Selma to Montgomery in Alabama is brought to life in this remarkable film. British actor David Oyelowo embodies MLK in a way never done before on film, while director Ava DuVernay creates a moving juxtaposition between the clean cut, Technicolor world of the Sixties and the bitter violence which met King and his protestors. It may have been nominated for a Best Film Oscar, but for my money this deserved a lot more! Still Alice (18th March) Julianne Moore stars in this emotional film about a literary professor who struggles with her life and family after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Led by an incredible performance from Moore, the film handles a delicate and emotive subject with power and sensitivity, and explores the characters’ struggles in a way that few films usually do. It may not leave many dry eyes once the lights come up, but it’s a film that will stay with you for a while. Big Eyes (18th March)

Tim Burton steps out of his comfort zone in a decidedly modest comedy-drama about Margaret Keane (played wonderfully by Amy Adams), a single parent with a talent for painting whose new lover (Christoph Waltz) takes credit for her work, creating one of the biggest art scandals of the 20th Century. Based on a true story, moments of black comedy are wonderfully sprinkled through this intriguing tale, with two excellent leads in Adams and Waltz. It’s also a reminder of the true talent Burton has for telling a great story.

Release dates are nationwide in France.

For English language films, search showings marked ‘version originale’. Parthenay Cinema: Niort CGR cinema: Melle cinema: Bressuire Le Fauteuil Rouge:


The Write Place

riting is a lonely occupation.Opportunities to share with or read aloud to an audience are much prized.

This is one reason why we launched Segora Writing Competitions. This year we are introducing a brand new one-act playwriting competition plus a French version of the Vignette. (see article opposite and advert). Another playwriting opportunity comes from TheatriVasles, looking for submissions for 10 minute plays. Closing date 31st August with performances 16, 17th October. For information please email: The success of the St Clémentin LitFest has inspired another. The first Charroux Literary Festival takes place at the end of August. Gordon and Jocelyn Simms will be giving two workshops: creating a group poem and playwriting from scratch.

What is the Segora Vignette Competition?

A vignette is an architectural term which can also to an ornament of leaves or tendrils, sometimes found refer flouris hing round a capital letter in a Book of Hours or appea as an engraving on the title page of a book. It may be ring a portrait showing only a hand: something distinctive, original, stylish even quirky. It may be that I first became fascinated with and these devices when studying the history of book illustration at Leeds Library School in the 1960s. Perhaps subliminally they inspired me to suggest this m as the muse for creating a short piece of fiction. A pieceemble of writing that would take the reader on an unexpected journey, writing that would linger in the mind. It might be surreal, humor poignant, joyous – a snapshot of some experience, personous, or place that satisfies the reader emotionally and intellectually .

Quite a tall order in just 300 words (or fewer).

The St Clémentin LitFest offers three cultural events this year: a creative writing workshop with Michèle Roberts on the 11th April; a conference and sharing of memories of Marie Madeleine Davy, 27th June; September 19th the presentation of winning Segora entries. Writing freed the acquisition of knowledge from the limits of memory. Once we could write, an almost unlimited amount of information could be passed not only from generation to generation, but from city to city, from country to country, across oceans, across the world. Knowledge became widespread, accessible, and permanent. Writing created a cultural ratchet, an exploration of the unknown which ultimately led us to the stars. Professor Brian Cox puts that rather well. We have been fostering writing and writers for over seventeen years. Some, notably Fleur Smithwick, winner of Segora 2012, have gone on to secure major book deals. Many write for their own pleasure, discovering a great deal about subjects that interest them and about themselves in the process.

This year we are announcing a French version of the compe tition and for the first time a theme: The Seven Deadly Sins or << les sept péchés capitaux >>. You may write about all or any one of them, or even suggest a contemporary sin for our times free). Apparently over the centuries different sins have (feel been held as more heinous than others. Last year’s winner, John Sherwin, is already familiar to reader s of the Deux-Sèvres Monthly. This year’s winning vignett be read along with poems, extracts from prize-winning e will stories and plays at the Segora Presentation evening on September the 19th, at Chez Didier, St. Clémentin. Previous presentations have attracted winners from Ireland, Eire, Scotland, England, Hollan Spain and other regions of France, making a most enjoya d, ble cosmopolitan evening. So, pick up your pens, write a vignette. Details of Segora competitions shown above or via: www.poetryprosea ndplays. com,

Jocelyn and Gordon, experienced tutors, are delighted to assist the development of any writing projects for individuals or groups. Please contact by email:

Photo right: A king with crown, riding a lion - together they represent PRIDE. A young man with a red robe or cloak lined with ermine riding a greyhound is ENVY incarnate. MISERLINESS is a grown man, worried, with his hands crossed over his possessions riding side saddle on a wolf.

Vendée, La Pommeraie-sur-Sèvre, Église Saint Martin. Photo by Howard Needs

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 11

A New Challenge for Golfers!


by Dorothy Williams

olfers have a special reason for looking forward to summer this year - the completion of the first phase of a new 18-hole golf course at Grand Puchaud, Bressuire (near LeClerc, off route de Voltegon).

The opening is planned in 3 stages - the first 5 holes around June, the next 4 in September and the remaining 9, on which work is due to commence this month, in spring/ summer next year. A new club house and an extended car park are also planned. “It’s going to be a challenging course”, said one Brit, gazing down from the car park at the 9th hole, with its tees positioned in front of a large lake and a smaller lake and bunker to negotiate on the upward slope to the green. Those wanting to get in some practice beforehand can take advantage of the existing par-3 course (9 holes and 18 tees) as well as the driving range (18 pitches, half of them covered). One event that attracted a large turnout last year was the competition between the Brits and the French. Sadly we lost that time but hope to take our revenge when the event is repeated this year on Sunday 25th October.

For further information go to or to subscribe for a free newsletter in English email:

Winston Churchill ~ The Artistby John Blair

I was called to a meeting with the Mayor of Parthenay, Mr Xavier Argenton, last month to discuss possible ways in which the town can commemorate the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death. He introduced the plans for ‘La promenade Winston Churchill’, which will run along the river bank from Saint-Jacques Tower to the railway viaduct. He also suggested that paintings by British and French artists maybe displayed along the walk. This got me thinking, why not Winston Churchill paintings? Which in turn led to this short article on Winston Churchill as an artist. Churchill was forty before he discovered the pleasures of painting. Over a period of fortyeight years his creativity yielded more than 500 pieces. The encouragement to persevere with his hobby stemmed from an amateur prize which he won for ‘Winter Sunshine, Chartwell’ (photo right).

To test his ability further he sent five paintings to be exhibited in Paris under an assumed name of Charles Morin. Four were sold for £30 each. It is said that Churchill again favoured a pseudonym (Mr. Winter) when in 1947 he offered his paintings to the Royal Academy. Two pictures were accepted and the title of Honorary Academician Extraordinary was conferred on him. His ability is borne out by the renowned painter Sir Oswald Birley: “If Churchill had given the time to art that he has given to politics, he would have been by all odds the world’s greatest painter.” This is possibly an over exaggeration and an example how an artist’s name can influence the viewer’s opinion and price. Modesty, and warm sympathy, were undeniably evident in what Churchill told a fellow painter, Sergeant Edmund Murray, his bodyguard from 1950 to 1965. After Murray had his work rejected by the Royal Academy, Churchill told him: “You know, your paintings are so much better than mine, but yours are judged on their merit.” 12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Asked if he intended to hold an exhibition of his paintings, Churchill derided the idea: “They are not worth it. They are only of interest in having been painted by a notorious character! If Crippen had painted pictures no doubt the public would flock to see them.” Talking of notorious characters, I suggest you scan the web for paintings by Adolf Hitler, you may be surprised how good they are. Despite outward flippancy, Churchill had a true craftsman’s dedication when he took up a paint brush. He consulted teachers admired for their professionalism. He was fond of citing Ruskin’s Elements of Drawing and readily accepted Sir William Orpen’s suggestion that he should visit Avignon, where the light can verge on a miracle. He recalled an encounter on the Cote d’Azur with artists who worshipped at the throne of Cezanne and gratefully acknowledged the inspiration he derived from their exchange. Churchill sought and found tranquillity in his art. His much quoted words, summing up expectations of celestial bliss, retain their lustre: “When I get to heaven I mean to spend a considerable portion of my first million years in painting, and so get to the bottom of the subject...” How true, the more I read about painting the more I understand how little I know. Churchill a great man and a great artist.


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, Roger: 05 55 76 22 65 or Nancy: 02 54 24 09 74. Email: or visit for details of English-speaking meetings. CLE helps you unlock the secrets to a happy and comfortable lifestyle in France. We provide information and organise workshops, visits and charity events, enabling members to make new friends in the ex-patriot and French communities. Tel: 05 49 87 19 85


Tennis players wanted, reasonable standard, Secondigny area. Contact Mick Morris on 05 49 65 17 16 or email: 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.

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 Margaret on email: THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION LINAZAY, POITOU-CHARENTES BRANCH

Please visit the branch website:

ALL GIRLS TOGETHER Calling all girls 18-80 for fun, laughter & support. We meet alternate Tuesdays at Fontenille, 2-5pm. Ring Viv for further information 05 49 27 51 98. All welcome.

Book Club Thouars.

Do you enjoy reading a cracking story? And talking to others about it? Do you live in north 79, south 49 or north 86? Come along to our book club. Contact Alison Morton at for details.

We are a photography club who meet twice a month at Terves. We run workshops, and also arrange photoshoots. If you want to learn more then please go to our website


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.

Le Tallud Boules en Bois

are offering sessions every Wednesday, 4pm-6pm from April to September and 2pm-4pm October to March at the parc de loisirs, Le Tallud. Everyone welcome. Details from Terry Hawker via email:

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


Are there any other amateur woodturners/woodworkers out there who might be interested in forming a club to share ideas, tips etc? Any level of ability, beginners to experienced. Contact Roland 05 49 96 44 10, preferably evening.

Cancer Support Vendée

Helping to improve the lives of people affected by Cancer in the Vendée. Helpline: 02 51 00 58 21 or email: Fitness Class with James

A fun & lively Aerobic/fitness class run on a voluntary basis. Tuesday evenings 7-8pm at Salle de Fete in La Chappelle St Etienne. All ages, nationality & gender welcome. 15€ membership for the year which covers insurances & room. For further details please email James:


An orchestral group who meet each Tuesday at the Salle de la Cendille at Limalonges at 8pm. All levels of expertise welcome.... GARDENING CLUB

We meet every third Tuesday of the month, 2.30pm with free tea/coffee and biscuits at Le Bon Vertoef, 28 Grand Rue, 79110 TILLOU. (Nr Chef Boutonne). Everyone welcome for garden talk! For further information contact Mike Curtis 05 46 33 66 17 (eves).

TTL Photography Group

Local photography group on the Deux-Sèvres / Vendée border. New members always welcome, and at all levels of expertise and knowledge. Contact us via the website to find out about our meetings.

Alone in France?

We are a group of people living alone in the L’Absie area who meet on the 1st and 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. More details from Ros 09 67 49 21 44.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 13

Combined Services

Support Group (CSSG)

by Pauline Tonks

Well, despite the cold weather, a small group of us met up at the Cafe des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux, on Saturday 31st January for a Beetle Drive. We had a good, fun afternoon especially when it came to changing tables after each round, it was like musical chairs without the music! The winner was Lily who was presented with a cut glass fruit bowl. We hope to plan another one later in the year. Right, get your brains out of hibernation and get them polished up ready for our Quiz afternoon, which will take place on Saturday 7th March at the Foyer Rural, St Pardoux, 79310. Starts prompt at 2.00 pm. Entry to quiz is just 2€ per person, maximum teams of 4 please. Don’t worry if there are only 1 or 2 of you, we will match you up with others. Tea, coffee and a selection of cakes will be available (please bring your own cup or mug). If you would prefer to have something stronger to drink, please feel free to bring your own. Prizes will be given to the winners and losers. To book your places please contact us by e-mail. As promised last month, here are the details of our long awaited St George’s Day Event. It will be held at Chez Chantal, 73 Route de Niort, L’Absie, 79240. Tickets are priced at 25€ per person, which will include a hot buffet with wine and coffee. Entertainment will be provided the the fabulous 3 + 1 group. Tickets for St George’s Day are available by email. As we are limited to numbers early booking is strongly recommended. And of course, during the evening we will be picking the winner of our Grand Prize Draw. Tickets for the Grand Prize Draw are still available from Terri Laverick, email: terri.laverick@outlook. com If you would like further information about our group or any of the above events please do not hesitate to speak to one of our committee or contact us by email:

Clubs & Associations Submission Guidelines Wordcount: Title of entry+ 40 words (max. including contact details). Logos can be supplied and will be added if space allows. Adverts meeting the above specifications can be added free of charge, and will be rotated on a monthly basis to allow everyone to participate. To guarantee the advert is printed each month, a small fee of 45€ per annum will be requested. How to SUBMIT your entry: 1) Complete the short form on ‘Submit Article’ page of our website (under the ‘Content’ menu) or 2) Simply email the details to us:


14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Camera Club Our amateur photography club,, is delighted to launch an exciting new project this year for the young people of the Deux-Sèvres. Students are being invited to enter a photographic competition with the best photographs being put on display at both the Bressuire Museum and Vouvant exhibitions starting on May 21st. The town hall of Bressuire will be letting all schools in the department know about the competition, and information can be found at our website at

on-site winning entries

The club is made up of a group of English-speaking photographers, mostly from north Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée, who have a passion for taking photographs. Since our formation last June, we have made good progress and are delighted to have just signed up our 25th paid-up member. At this time, the club is preparing for two exhibitions this year at Vouvant from May 21st to 31st and at Bressuire Museum from May 29th to June 7th. We are working hard to produce 150 framed photographs for the two exhibitions, which overlap in terms of dates. Last year’s exhibition at Vouvant attracted hundreds of visitors and proceeds from the sale of high-quality prints were donated to charity. We are also pleased to announce that we have now found a permanent home at Salle La Charmille, in Terves, near Bressuire, thanks to the help of the Mayor of Terves, Monsieur Michel Pannetier. Our new venue is equipped with Internet connection, and we will use it for both meetings and workshops. Anyone who is interested in photography would be made very welcome at our friendly club. To help you decide whether you would like to join, why not attend two free workshops, without commitment. The club meets on the second Tuesday of the month, and in between meetings people stay in touch via the club’s Facebook page. Contact ‘The DSM’

on 05 49 70 26 21 or by email:

A DIFFERENT FRENCH EXPERIENCE So my outings with the organisation ‘On Va Sortir’ continues!

Reaction Theatre - Annual General Meeting

Well here it is: my last Reaction Theatre article for ‘The DSM’. Who said “thank goodness”? I am awaiting the result of the AGM when my replacement will be decided, but there is a 99.9% chance it will be Kate Jouanneau. Kate is one of our younger members, very enthusiastic and speaks excellent French, unlike me. In fact she beats me on all three counts! I have had a lot of fun doing the column and thank you for all your feedback over the last couple of years. Hang on a minute, what feedback? To help Kate produce a better column I ask all our members and you, the readers, to provide Kate with as much feedback and information as possible. Trying to write a column without it is very difficult. Two of our long-standing committee members have had enough, sorry stood down after years of service: Vernon Bouche, Treasurer, and Dave West, the Keynotes maestro. Our thanks go to both of them for all their efforts and dedication. This leaves two places for new committee members, one of which will be Kate, as the committee have decided it would be better if the Publicity Officer role was a committee position. The second successful nominee was Ralph Bramley. So the new Committee line up is.....(you have to insert a long pause here like they do on TV when they announce the winner of a competition): • Malcolm Daniels Chairperson • Christine Hester Secretary • Andrew Sanders Treasurer • Kate Jouanneau Publicity • Geoff Cornwall Membership Secretary • Ralph Bramley General member The positions of Chairperson and Social Secretary will be decided at the next meeting. It was also agreed that a member of the Keynotes Steering Group would attend committee meetings. The highlight of the year was the donation of 10,000€ to both the British and French cancer organisations.

Next Production

‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ is being directed by Tony Murdoch. Rehearsals are well under way and a good laugh is being had by all. This is a very funny play and one you must not miss. Tickets are now available by phoning Maureen Murdoch on 05 49 64 06 14 or emailing Performances will be on Friday 1st May at 8pm and Saturday 2nd May (Matinee) at 2.30pm and (evening) at 8pm.

Keynotes Singers

Keynote rehearsals are still being held at the Cafe des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux every Friday afternoon starting at 2pm and our thanks go to Joy for putting up with the noise. The singing is beautiful of course but Margaret does shout at us a lot. However, Margaret has been away in the UK for a few weeks and Alan Hester has done an excellent job as choirmaster during her absence. Thank you Alan and well done. But I’ll be glad when he rejoins the bass section, I feel somewhat exposed.

The Art Scene

In February we tackled pastel portraits and One Stroke painting in acrylics. Have a look at the Reaction website for information on all of the three groups: u u

John Blair, email: New contact Kate Jouanneau, email:

My latest events were organised walks. These lasted two or three hours; the first along a very pretty stretch of the Sèvre Niortaise, and the second, a well constructed route, with accompanying information on landmarks passed, in the Coulonges/St Pompain area. They usually finish up with a little gouter, with everyone contributing a small offering of cakes and nibbles, and often there will be photos of the route and participants posted on the website after the event. As usual for On Va Sortir, it is just one of the members who has devised the route and set up the invitation for perhaps 10 or 12 participants (sometimes more) who have subscribed for the event on the website. Setting up a route can vary from suggesting a very simple walk, more or less along the river and back, to devising a quite complex and detailed route involving both local knowledge and navigation skills. I finished the week by playing tennis with three 25 year old guys, on an indoor court, and for free! We had a great game, and I now play regularly with this group. Once again, this shows how On Va Sortir works; one person is a member of the tennis club, he suggests a time and the first three to sign up come along and play. The only expense is when it’s your turn to provide the balls. On the subject of club protocol, I find that I cannot contact other members directly until I have either attended a certain number of events or been with the club for a certain length of time, three months, I think. There is an alternative; one can pay a subscription from the start which gives, among other things, the contact facility. This rule was established, apparently, because at one time the club was plagued by drageurs (men joining strictly for the purpose of picking up women for one-night-stands). For the moment I can’t send messages to individuals I don’t know, but I can receive them and reply, thus progressively establishing myself as a bona fide member. In my continuing adventures with On Va Sortir, I next returned to the first venue I had attended, Cafe L’Agape; this time with less trepidation and with some hope of renewing contact with a particular lady (P), whose name was on the list of subscribers. The band, ‘Rock Rag’ weren’t due to start until 9pm, but the organiser had indicated that we could arrive earlier to assemble, chat and grignotter (nibble), as there was food available. Personally, I had already eaten, worried about appearing awkward and ignorant of what was on offer, but others were tucking into a kind of French tapas when I arrived. I knew fewer people than expected; each event brings out new and different members but as always the welcome was lovely. The French custom of greeting/kissing everybody in the room on arrival can sometimes seem onerous and uncomfortable to some Brits, but in a situation where many of the group are strangers to each other, it has the appeal of binding everybody together and making all feel welcome. Once again, the evening was not about the alcohol; I was probably the biggest drinker with two demis, and there was only water on the table for the last couple of hours of the concert! A version of ‘La Vie en Rose’ brought tears to the eyes of the lady next to me. At this point, it is worth noting that On Va Sortir is not a dating agency, just a club for people of all ages to find others to go out with; but there was some merriment of the “nudge, nudge, wink, wink” variety when “P” and I made a point of sitting together. However, there do seem to be several couples made up of those who originally came to On Va Sortir as single people and now sometimes, but not always, come together to events. I would like to wind up this month by suggesting that if anybody reading this fancies giving it a try, I would be happy to take you along to any event you may be interested in; I can be contacted through Sarah.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 15

Health, Beauty & Fitness Phone Counselling Now Available to Britons in Deux-Sèvres The Possibilities

It’s a big adventure to make a fresh start in a new country - but major change can also bring difficulties. If you feel stuck, lost or in crisis, that’s when counselling provides a safe space to find a way forward. And phone counselling offers special benefits to Britons in France. Of course, there are the practical advantages like convenience and privacy. But more important is the greater freedom to talk which you’ll discover when no-one is looking at you! With that comes a new ability to focus on what you are saying, to go deeper and find fresh potential in your situation. This is made possible by a particular kind of skilled listening which phone counsellors like Susan Gully have developed through professional training and accreditation, followed by years of experience in telephone work. The result is that clients feel met and accompanied in a very helpful way.

The Results

The outcomes of counselling vary for each individual, but often include things like: • Improved self-acceptance • Awareness of options for change • Better decision-making • Greater confidence • New ways to manage emotions • More harmonious relationships. On finishing his set of counselling sessions, one client said: “My mental health has taken a quantum leap forward. I like being me!”

A New Chapter

Following recent success in the Aquitaine region, Susan is now delighted to be offering her phone counselling service to Britons in Deux-Sèvres.

The invitation

If you would like to find out more, have an informal chat or book a phone session, you are most welcome to contact Susan using the details below. u u

Susan Gully : +44 (0)7581 325846 ~ Email:

16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Birthstone for March... Aquamarine

Sleeeeep.... ...ZZZZ I admit it, I can be a little grumpy if I don’t have enough sleep! In fact, sleep deprivation can affect everything from your memory to your immune system, heart and metabolism - not just your moods. So be sure to get to bed early on Sunday 29th March as it’s the night the clocks go forward, and we lose an hour’s sleep! Did you know that eating a banana before bed aids a good night’s sleep? It’s a natural source of the sleep hormone, melatonin and essential amino acid, tryptophan..

by Vicki Bassey

Aquamarine is one of the world’s most popular and well known gemstones. Often found with great clarity in a light yet energetic blue. A member of the Beryl family, Aquamarine’s characteristic pale blue colour is created by the presence of iron.   Likewise all members of the Beryl family obtain their colours by the presence of metallic elements, without which pure Beryl remains colourless.  The darker an Aquamarine, the more desirable and valuable it becomes.  Some Aquamarines will appear almost colourless in normal daylight and yet display a beautiful tone under the light of a candle or a light bulb, so much so that it is known as the evening gemstone.  Out of the ground, many Aquamarines have a slight green tint and are often heat treated to turn the gem into a more pure blue.  However, over recent years, the lighter, natural colour has become very popular.  In either shade, this birthstone  for March is highly sought after for its clarity, transparency and undeniable calmness. The name is derived from the Latin ‘aqua’ for ‘water’ and ‘mare’ for ‘sea’, and many superstitions and legends regarding the sea have been attached to this gemstone over the years.  Believed to be the treasure of mermaids, the gem is said to be especially strong when submerged in water.  When its powers seemed to dwindle, the gem would be placed in water on the night of a sparkling full moon.   In times gone by, as a very last resort, sailors caught in a storm were believed to throw their Aquamarines overboard to calm the gods. Sailors were also said to have taken Aquamarine to sea as a lucky charm to protect against shipwreck, and many people today still wear Aquamarine to prevent travel sickness. Back on shore, Aquamarine is believed to soothe and prolong relationships, and for this reason  is often given as an anniversary   gift way before its official listing for one’s 19th anniversary.  For those frightened of spiders or flying, wearing Aquamarine is said to suppress one’s phobias. The largest source of Aquamarine is found in Brazil, but today Africa is becoming a strong rival with mining activities in countries such as Madagascar, Mozambique, Nigeria and Tanzania. u u

Vicky Bassey Jewellery 05 49 97 01 29 Follow Vicky on Facebook at

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 17

Our Furry Friends Bearing Fruit?


by Nigel Franks, NALA

t’s been clear to us for a long while that we could spend the rest of our lives saving pets, but the overall problem would still remain. As long as people abandon their pets and stray animals reproduce, there will be a need for associations to rehome them. Way back in 2012 we wrote to the Minister of Agriculture expressing our concerns and asking what he was planning to do about it. The reply was pretty meaningless, so we embarked on a few more rounds of exchanges with similar results. Finally in December 2014 things started to look up: Mr. Martial Saddier, a member of the the National Assembly who we had contacted, asked the Minister one of our questions... and also got a typically bland reply. We received an invitation to meet with Mrs. Sylviane Bulteau, a member of the National Assembly and the Conseil General of the Vendée. We met her on the 5th of January 2015 and had the opportunity to bend her ear for an hour. She was totally unaware of the problem of stray animals, so listened with apparent interest as we explained.   The very next day a letter, sent just before the New Year, arrived from the Ministry of Agriculture inviting us to contact them to arrange a meeting with the Office for the Protection of Animals. That wasn’t too bad... only just over two years from our first letter. So, on the 9th of February we left the car in the car park of a shopping mall on the outskirts of Paris and took the RER and Metro to the Ministry. There we were welcomed by two members of the department. We were of the opinion that the only contact that they have with the associations for the protection of animals is via the big associations and then only the desk jockeys. They confirmed this, so we explained the day to day reality that we have experienced: phone calls at all hours from people demanding immediate help, mayors that ignore the rules, the difficulty of working with volunteers who can disappear at the drop of a hat, fund-raising etc. We pointed out that it was unfair that the mayors and animal pounds got paid for dealing with stray animals whilst the only organisations that could save the animals from life (or death) in the pounds were the voluntary associations who don’t get paid. We explained the difficulties that we had encountered in just trying to find out the number of strays in the Vendée. We were not surprised to hear that they don’t have, nor ask for, the statistics. We suggested that from now on they ask for the numbers to be

ECOLE DU CHAT LIBRE DE POITIERS 1 Place de Fontevrault 86000 POITIERS (answerphone)

Facebook: ecole-du-chat-libre-de-Poitiers

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

sent at the same time as the departments send in their annual report. We’ll have to see if that happens, as we know that it’s easier to ignore a problem if it’s not been measured. We also talked about the situation in other countries and their solutions such as obligatory sterilisation when animals change owner and having a Minister responsible for the well-being of animals. We have a suspicion that these ideas may run foul of the ‘not invented here’ effect. Finally we suggested that they carry out an information campaign to remind people of the obligation to have their pet identified and the benefits of having them sterilised. We gave them short shrift when they suggested that the associations could do this: we’re already cleaning up the mess and don’t get paid for it. Why should we also pay for the prevention, whilst the Government sits back and does nothing? We think that the meeting went well: they listened and took a lot of notes and didn’t kick us out when we ran over the time that they had allotted to us. We’ll have to see if anything concrete comes out of it. Meanwhile, in no way at all resembling a hardened mix of aggregate and cement, but totally soft and warm and cuddly is Teddy, a  4 years old male looking for a new home. You can see more details on our website:

Benjy is a Labrador, 15-20 months old. He is chipped, vaccinated and castrated. Walks well on the lead, using his nose and paws to find his way round and he has a knowledge of basic commands. Clean and obedient, he really is a little darling. Benjy has damage to his brain that has taken his sight from him. There is no problem with his eyes, so no medication is needed. This damage has also stopped him developing any further, so he’ll continue to be like a 9 month old lab for the remainder of his life. For further information please go the Hope website:

If you would like further information or are interested in adopting, please go to the Hope website: for further information or email:

VENISE is a 4 year old female Anglo hound. This beautiful lady has a loving, gentle and calm nature. VENISE is good with other dogs, both male and female, and good with cats and children too. Playful and lively outdoors, a safe and secure garden will be necessary.

Inquisitive, to the point of being nosey, VENISE is happiest when in the company of people, she will follow you everywhere and doesn’t want to miss out on anything!


VENISE is house-trained, quiet at night, good in the car, loves her walks on a lead and is learning her basic commands and recall very quickly! VENISE is microchipped, neutered, vaccinated (incuding rabies so she has a passport) and has been treated for worms, fleas and ticks. An adoption fee of 120€ will be asked for towards her veterinary costs to date and Orfée will conduct a home visit prior to adoption. If you would like more information about VENISE please contact MARY - 05 49 50 69 41 - CAROLINE - 05 45 96 02 79 -

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 19

Home & Garden

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by Vanda Lawrence

climbing annuals e.g. Morning Glory or even runner beans. Sow the seeds in egg boxes filled with multi-purpose compost. When the seedlings are about 2” tall split the egg boxes and plant each little plant in its ‘pot’ into 3” pots. Keep them in the cold frame or greenhouse until they are about 1ft tall before planting out in a screening row in the garden. If you only want the flowers for cutting and flower arranging you can stunt the growth of the plant by pinching out the growing tip when the plant reaches about 8-10”. The plant will then only reach 6-8ft in height but will produce about a dozen flowers instead of the one huge flower head. Be sure you pick the best variety of sunflower for your needs as there are so many varieties to choose from.

Summer Savory©Wikimedia Commons/H.Zell


ot long now before the clocks go forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time - Sunday 29th March at 1am to be exact. I know we lose an hour in bed but how lovely to have the beginnings of lovely long summer evenings and extra time to fit in the gardening jobs at this busy time of the year: • Harvest the last leeks, Brussel sprouts, cabbages and purple sprouting broccoli • Plant artichokes, shallots and early potatoes • T idy the strawberry bed, replacing old plants which no longer fruit well and cover with a cloche if you wish to encourage early fruiting • Plant rhubarb and raspberry canes • Complete the pruning of gooseberry and currant bushes • C heck your seed packets and sow vegetable seeds as instructions dictate, either in the potager, under a cloche or in the greenhouse

If you are sowing broad beans, the herb, Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis) is a good companion plant, helping to repel blackfly. It has bronze-green leaves and lilac flowers so looks attractive, but has a mild flavour and can be used as an alternative to sage or thyme. Actually, it is one of the ingredients in Herbes de Provence. As a medicinal herb Summer Savory is used to aid digestion, reduce fevers and soothe bee stings. If you grow it alongside broad beans you can also cook together with broad beans too – gives them a lovely flavour - in fact it is called ‘bean herb’ in Germany. In the flower garden it is time to order summer bedding plants and to plan your hanging baskets and window boxes. Don’t forget to buy hanging basket liners in readiness. Did you know what a boon disposable nappies can be to tubs, hanging baskets and widow boxes? Simply pour water onto the nappy then remove the outer cover revealing the dampened granules inside. Tip these into your potting compost and they will help retain moisture in the compost during the hot summer months. Pot-grown shrubs will benefit from top-dressing with a fresh layer of compost. If any need re-potting now is the time to do it and it will give you the chance to tease out the roots which might have become pot-bound. Give them a good feed too. Sweet peas can be sown directly into their flowering position and, as the soil warms, Dahlias can be planted. They don’t have a deep tap root system so are susceptible to wind-rock. It is therefore sensible to put stakes in-situ when you plant the tubers. Sunflowers are beautiful flowers and bees love them. Instead of growing them singly at the back of the border why not try growing them as a screen and use the tall, strong, stems as supports for

This time of the year you might well notice strange white cotton-wool-like nests high up in pine trees. These are the nests of Pine Processionary Caterpillars (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) so called because of the way they travel through the woods in nose-to-tail columns. The larvae of the Pine Processionary moth live in these nests, coming Pine Processionary cate out at night, nose-to-tail, Wikimedia Commons/ rpillar nest © Mangatome to feed on pine needles. These larvae should not be handled because the hairs on their bodies cause extreme irritation to humans and animals alike. Sometime towards the end of March the caterpillars are ready to leave the nest for the last time, in their usual long line. They then dig underground and pupate, emerging as the moth at the end of summer. The larvae are eaten by Great Tits, Cuckoos and Beetles. Hoopoes will eat the pupae.

Another pest which can cause havoc in the garden is the mole. If you have mole hills in your lawns, flower beds or vegetable garden there are several over-the-counter mole repellents but my favourite is to drop garlic cloves down into their tunnels – they don’t like the smell. Apparently, castor oil has the same discouraging effect with the addition of giving them an upset tummy. We mustn’t forget to mention slugs either. Wretched things! They will be looking forward to the Hostas sending up new growth as well as all the little plants and seedlings we are tending so carefully. Ash from the fire/wood-burner around susceptible plants acts as a deterrent, as does salt, crushed eggshells and gravel. Be Alert!! Lastly this month, I will mention Harvey, a reader who asked my advice about removing thick, green moss from his gravel path. We have a similar problem which is usually kept under control using a variety of products: anti-mousse, bleach or glyphosate weedkiller. I did a bit of research and came up with some more alternatives including vinegar, salt, soda crystals, baking powder or garden lime. In the meantime however, Harvey has spoken to his French neighbour and learned that about 10 days ago he used ‘Sulphate de Fer’ on his mossy gravel. Stop Press!! The moss has turned black/ brown and comes away with ease. So now we all know what to do to get rid of moss, we shall probably find it is sold out because everyone is buying it..... I’ll race you …...

u u

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7 5

SPRING to life this MARCH


ural France provides a fantastic opportunity for watching wildlife, with the diversity of the countryside producing a variety of animal life not normally encountered in the UK outside of nature reserves. In Spring the place is alive with butterflies, bees and other insects. And as the sap starts to rise, mammals, birds, reptiles and amphibians also find that love is in the air – sometimes with dangerous consequences! Some of the wildlife is fairly common, some fairly elusive and some downright rare. Here are just a few of nature’s wonders for you to search out. It’s nowhere near a complete list, but hopefully there’s enough to get you out enjoying what is a fabulous time of the year. Spring is in the air!


Hazel (3) (Corylus, Noisetier commun). Catkins are one of the obvious first signs of spring and will attract plenty of flying insects in search of food. Others include the Goat willow (Salix caprea, Saule des chèvres) sometimes called pussy willow, Blackthorn (Prunus spinosa, Epine noire) and wild plums (prunes sauvage). Wild orchids are also a joy to see. Some of the early flowering ones include: Early purple orchid (12) (Orchis mascula, Orchis male). Flowers April-July. Fly orchid (Ophrys insectifera, Ophrys mouche). Flowers April-July. Lesser butterfly orchid (Platantherabifolia, Orchis-à-deux feuilles). Flowers May-August. Lizard orchid (Himantoglossum hircinum, Orchis bouc). Flowers May-June.


Buff-tailed bumblebee (4) (Bombus terrestris, Le bourdon terrestre). Most common of the bumblebees in this region. Queens will be appearing from their winter sleep, usually underground, looking for pollen and nectar to build up their strength to raise the first workers. Another to look out for is the Red-tailed bumblebee

by Mick Austin

(Bombus lapidaries, Le bourdon des pierres) which, as its French name indicates, is often found nesting in stone walls. Yellowlegged mining bee (1) (Andrena flavipes) is one of the earliest solitary bees to emerge, usually in early February. They don’t actually have yellow legs; the legs of both sexes are covered in yellow hairs. Another is the Red Mason Bee (Osmia rufa, L’Osmie rousse). On the wing from late March and feeds solely on pollen and nectar. It’s covered in dense, gingery hair. Drone fly (5) (Eristalis tenax, L’éristale gluant). Looks a bit like a honey bee but has two wings whereas the honey bee has four. Quite common from February on. See them on sunny days close to yellow flowers. Its larva (the rat-tailed maggot) lives in stagnant water or on animal faeces and rotting carcasses and is unusual in that it breathes through its tail, using it like a snorkel. Butterflies. The first few warmer days brings them out of hibernation. Watch out for Red Admiral (Le Vulcain), Peacock (La Paon du jour), Brimstone (2) (Le Citron), Comma (6) (Le robert) and a couple of rarer ones in the Small Tortoiseshell (La petite tortue) and Large Tortoiseshell (17) (La grande tortue). You’ll really know Spring has arrived if you spot the Orange Tip (7) (L’Aurore) First of the migrating butterflies, all the way from Africa, include the Painted Lady (18) (La Belle-Dame).

BIRDS Marsh harrier (18) (Circus aeruginosus, Busard des roseaux). Can be seen any time of the year – especially along the CharenteMaritime coast and the Marais. They love waterfowl eggs and chicks, frogs, lizards and the occasional rabbit. March is the best time to see their mating displays, comprising high climbs and rapid falls with wings folded. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 23




Common buzzard (14) (Buteo buteo, Buse variable). The most common bird of prey in France. An amazing variation in colours, from almost total white through browns to almost total black. Keep an eye out for their mating ritual, high in the sky with plenty of turning and diving. Short-toed eagle (10) (Circaetus gallicus, Circaète Jean-le-Blanc). Quite rare in this part of France, but you might get lucky. They arrive from West Africa from March until May hunting for snakes, although they will take slow worms, voles, mice and the occasional hedgehog. Best chance of seeing one is on a hot, sunny day. Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis, Autour des palombes). Historically one of the most persecuted birds of prey in Europe, it can now be found in most regions of France, although you can consider yourself lucky if you see one. Often described as a large sparrow hawk, it’s about the size of a buzzard and prefers large woodlands with clearings. Courtship begins in February when the male performs spectacular ‘roller-coaster’ displays high above the trees.


European beaver (15) (Castor fiber, Castor d’Europe). A protected species found in many of the region’s rivers including the Thouet, Vienne and Creuse. It’s the largest rodent in Europe, with a body length of more than a metre plus a tail of up to 40cms. Their main threat comes from being accidentally shot in mistake for a coypu (ragondin), which can be found throughout France. Mating takes place in the water between January and March. Southwestern or Southern water vole (Arvicola sapidus, Campagnol Amphibie). Quite rare in most of France but quite common in the Charente-Maritime. Found mostly near water. Doesn’t hibernate but Spring (from March) sees the start of reproduction. 24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly


European pond turtle (16) (Emys orbicularis, Cistude d’Europe). One of two native freshwater turtles present in France. Another, which has been introduced and can now be found in almost every region, is the Florida turtle (Trachemys scripta elegans, La Tortue à tempes rouges). The European pond turtle is around 20cms long with a smooth, brownish-grey domed shell with yellow streaks and can be found in lakes, rivers and canals where there is plenty of submerged vegetation and reeds. Hibernation usually ends in March and reproduction takes place in April/May. Viperine snake (Natrix Maura, Couleuvre vipérine). Smallest of the couleuvres found in France, rarely exceeding 70cms in length. Its head is distinct from its body, with a flat top and sides, a pointed nose and eyes with round pupils. An excellent swimmer, it likes fast-flowing rivers and streams and feeds on frogs, newts, fish etc. It ends its hibernation (in a hole or under rocks) in March or April and lays up to 20 eggs in soil or a hole in the ground. It’s quite shy but if threatened it will hiss loudly and even strike, but with its mouth closed. Non-venomous. Aesculapian snake (13) (Zamenis longissima, Couleuvred’Esculape). One of the largest snakes in Europe, growing to over two metres long. Has a thin body, a small pointed head and prominent eyes. The uniform back colouring can be yellow/brown, grey/brown, grey/black or olive green, while the underside is lighter. Hibernates from October to April in old tree stumps etc. Mating starts in May with some pretend fighting and up to 20 eggs are laid in compost heaps or stone walls. A non-venomous constrictor, it feeds on small mammals and birds, lizards and young snakes. Smooth snake (19) (Coronella austriaca, Coronelle Lisse). Found in most parts of France, its back has two rows of darker markings









which join together to form transversal bands. The underside is a mix of browns and greys and there is a dark V at the back of the head. Can be found in hedgerows, open forests and stone walls and feeds mainly on lizards. Mating takes place soon after hibernation and fights between the sexes have sometimes ended in death. Non-venomous. Green lizard (Lacerta viridis, Lézard Vert). One of the best-known European lizards, it can grow to around 40cms long. The male is almost entirely green, flecked with black and yellow, but during the mating season its throat and head turn blue and its stomach bright yellow and turquoise. Hibernation ends February/April, depending on the climate, and reproduction in spring leads to nasty battles between males which can end in injury or death.


Palmate newt (Triturus helveticus, Triton Palmé). Smallest European newt at around 10cms long. Found in all types of water and feeds mainly on small insects and their eggs. Hibernation and reproduction is often quite variable. Fire Salamander (11) (Salamandra salamandra, Salamandre Tachetée). Can reach up to 30cms long and generally black and yellow. Found all over France, it lives mostly in woodland and near water. Feeds on worms, slugs and insects and is nocturnal. Hibernation is dependent on temperature and large numbers can be found sharing the same space. Its skin can burn sensitive skin, as my spaniel Tess found to her cost! Marbled newt (Triturus marmoratus, Triton Marbré). One of France’s larger newts, with females up to 17cms long. Females and young have an orange band running down the back while males have a slightly raised crest with occasional orange marks which

become larger and green with vertical black bands in the breeding season. Reproduction is from February to May. Agile frog (Rana dalmatina, Grenouille Agile). Around 9cms long, slim with very long back legs, a long head with pointed nose and a brown band running back from the nose through the eye. Found anywhere there’s water, it eats mainly earthworms, slugs and insects. Hibernates from October until the end of January, with the males at the bottom of pools and the females in a hole on land. It’s capable of leaping up to two metres.

NEXT MONTH: Nose-to-tail caterpillars, the tiny bird that’s an illegal €150 delicacy and the snake that beats the ground with its tail. Don’t miss it! 1. Yellow legged mining bee © Fritz Gellar-Grimm; 2. Brimstone butterfly © Richard bartz, Munich aka Marko Freak; 3. Hazel © Fab5669; 4. Buff tailed bumble bee © Derek Harper; 5. Drone fly eristalis tenax © Alvesgaspar; 6. Comma butterfly © Stu’s images; 7. orange tip butterfly © Charlesjsharp; 8. Marsh harrier © Wikimedia Commons/Artur Mikołajewski; 9. Smooth snake © Christian Fischer; 10. Short toed eagle © Beroesz; 11. Fire salamander © Wikimedia Commons/Janvantland; 12. Early purple orchid © Sarah Bond; 13. Aesculapian snake; 14. Common buzzard © Spencer wright; 15. European beaver © Per Harald Olsen; 16. European pond turtle © Dudva; 17. Large tortoiseshell butterfly © J.M; 18. Painted lady butterfly © Rob Young. Source: wikimedia Commons.

Mick Austin is a freelance journalist based in the Pays-de-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 also runs a gîte business at

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 25

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across:

8. Wash thoroughly (5) 9. A verbal or written expression of regret (7) 10. Organise anew, as after a setback (7) 11. Distinguish oneself (5) 12. Bring something new to an environment (8) 13. The most important point (4) 15. A bitter quarrel between two parties (4) 17. A landlocked republic in eastern Europe (8) 21. Make reference to (5) 22. Personal freedom from confinement, oppression or servitude (7) 24. Grant entry to (7) 25. Language of ancient Rome (5)

DSM Toughie Crossword Across: 1. I point out comets destroyed in contests (12) 7. Causes leaderless national betrayals (7) 9. Arrange with Henry to get less than expected (5) 10. Troop uses the environment for

composition (4)

11. Cumin is a variety of performer (8) 12. Ruins lucky opportunities? (6) 14. All about inventions? Depends (6) 17. Crimes concerning those dealing in stolen goods? (8) 19. Article on rotten ancient king (4) 22. Fathered knight with newspaper worker (5) 23. Featured rats turning tail when facing stop sign (7) 24. Surplus of naval explorers may make a mess of things? (3,4,5)


1. A person who takes drugs (4) 2. The place where something begins (6) 3. Grant remission of a sin to (7) 4. Floor covering (6) 5. A sweet yellow liquid produced by bees (5) 6. Be in agreement (6) 7. Impaired ability to learn to read (8) 12. Not officially recognised or controlled (8) 14. A person with an unusual personality (7) 16. Spread out or open from a closed state (6) 18. Elongated square shape (6) 19. Truth (6) 20. A facial expression of dislike (5) 23. Pull with a sudden movement (4)

Down: 1. Freight needed to make a vehicle start? (5) 2. Unusually use ream as way to gauge dimensions (7) 3. Dress put on back to front is a handicap of course (4) 4. Encourage popular high church extension (7) 5. She is given nothing in main shake-up (5) 6. Remains of groups of trees? (6) 8. Guns must be handed over in this bar (4) 12. Look over ridges to the east? (6) 13. Thousands are about doing wrong in the empire (7) 15. Suggest refusal given for conflagration (7) 16. Flutters, on 3 perhaps? (4) 18. After Wells FC exchange brings

western carrier for 1 (5)

20. Mountains located in an American desert (5) 21. No hesitation in cosmetic being reduced to powder? (4)

Well, what do you know?

Monthly quiz by Roland Scott...... how many can you get?

1) In the English version of the Adventures of Tintin, what are the names of the two ‘city gents’ - moustachioed, bowler hatted and carrying umbrellas. 2) Who is the eponymous hero of the series of books by Bernard Cornwell set in the Peninsular Wars of the 19th century? 3) Name the US private detective played on TV by Tom Selleck in the 1980s? 4) What did Victor Kiam buy because he liked it so much as he claimed in a TV advert of the 1970s? 5) Who was co-founder and second editor of the satirical magazine ‘Private Eye’? 6) Which British motor cycle company produced the Blue, Gold and Silver Star models? 7) Which British singer, born Mary O’Brien in 1939, had her only no.1 with ‘You Don’t have to Say You Love Me’?

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

With thanks to M.Morris

8) What was the name of the private club used by characters in TVs Minder? 9) In University Challenge, what type of question is worth 10 points for a correct answer? 10) What was the name of the character played by Joanna Lumley in The New Avengers? 11) Which English poet (1812-1889) married Elizabeth Barrett? They lived in Wimpole Street, London. 12) And finally, assuming you have 11 correct answers what is the connection? Find the answers on our website: Copyright RJS 2014

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres HANC

Hanc is part of the Coeur de Poitou area. The commune is situated in the canton of Chef Boutonne. The 253 inhabitants of Hanc are known as the Hancois and the Hancoises. The Parish Church is dedicated to Saint Hilaire. The church was first mentioned in the maps of the monastery of Saint Jean d’Angély in 1039. Between 1100 and 1199 the church was attached to Notre Dame church in Bouin. Part of the church was demolished in 1789 but the building has since been restored.


Hérisson is part of the commune of Pougne Hérisson and so you will find information about Hérisson later on in our alphabetical tour of the Deux Sèvres communes.


Irais is a small commune of about 200 inhabitants. It is picturesque because of its landscapes - dominated by huge plains like those at Marnes and situated in the countryside around Thouars. Saint Paul’s church was founded in 971 by Aldéarde d’Aulnay, the Viscountess of Thouars. The church was rebuilt in the XIIth century and belonged to the Abbey of Airvault. Unfortunately the church was partly destroyed during the wars of religion when the protestants destroyed the spire on the bell tower. (Photo Wikipedia,Père Igor). There is a grotto at Irais; the grotto of Vouix. There used to be an underground river which is now dry.

by Sue Burgess

Lageon was also the site of an important parachute drop ‘Le Mélier’. During the nights of the 19th and 20th June 1943 resistants received a drop of two tons of arms on the land at Le Mélier near Lageon. Found some time after by the German police, almost all the men involved were arrested and then deported to Nazi concentration camps. The message broadcast by the BBC to announce the mission was “Et s’il n’en reste qu’un, je serai celui-là” (“if only one remains, that one shall be me”). For unknown reasons the first drop was made outside the marked area. The plane flew over the area once and continued towards Parthenay. It did come back but the drop was well to the left of the land where the resistants were waiting. The resistants went looking for the arms that had been dropped and finally found them at 3am after one container exploded and set fire to a tree, at Le Grand Bois. The arms were transported on a cart pulled by oxen and the cases were hidden in the grain store at the station of Gourgé. The arms from the second drop were also temporarily hidden at Gourgé. Because of the growing worry of the resistants that the Germans might have seen the smoke from the burning tree, the arms were later moved to La Pléssis aux Grolles at Gourgé. The arms were buried to hide the smell of the powder but when the smell started to come through the ground the arms were again moved and hidden in a pile of beetroot which was to be used for animal fodder. Once winter came and the beetroot pile started to get smaller, the arms were transferred to Poitiers in a cart-load of manure. The arms were finally used to arm the French Free Forces and the Guignard Company of the 114th Regiment of the Infantry of Parthenay. The main people involved in the drop were finally arrested and deported to Buschenwald. Details of this arms drop can be found at the museum, Centre Régional Résistance & Liberté, Thouars and in the booklet about the monument , also available at the museum. (


Juillé is a commune of 96 inhabitants in the Val de la Boutonne. The stream the Bellesébonne has its source on the commune at La Fonsée. The Bellesébonne flows into the Boutonne near Breuil-sur-Chizé. This area is part of a Natura 2000 site because of the 6 different types of habitat that can be found there. 16 species of particular interest can be found here including the European otter.


Juscorps is in the canton of Prahecq. Situated at 15km from Niort, the commune is crossed by the stream ‘The Courance’ which runs from East to West. Juscorps is a rural commune but the agricultural activity is on the decline. There are however still five cereal growers on the commune. There are about 350 inhabitants on the commune and they are known as Juscorpsiens or Juscorpsiennes. Lageon is situated on the Parthenay - Thouars road about 10km North of Parthenay and 29km South of Thouars. There are 378 inhabitants who are known as the Lageonais and the Lageonaises. The Cébron river flows through the commune which is situated at a height of 150m above sea level. A VOIR / MUST SEE • The Lageon memorial erected in memory of resistants in the Bressuire and Parthenay area, was inaugurated in 1948. It is situated in the centre of the Parthenay - Bressuire area. A ceremony is held at the memorial every year on the first Sunday in October.

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month...

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 27

Photo: moulin de Picardie, Juscorps: Marie Lou Cau


French Life Our Journey to a



’ve stopped shampooing my hair! Not because I’m going for that ageing hippy retro thing, but because apparently it’s good for my health, the condition of my hair and it’s much kinder to the environment.

It’s fair to say that I’ve been a bit concerned about the effect of the chemicals in shampoo on me and on the environment for a while, but it wasn’t until we moved to rural France that I was willing to turn myself into a human experiment! OK, actually it was only do-able in my book, because here I could get away with wearing a woolly hat when I went out, and I didn’t have to explain myself to everyone I shared an office with back in the UK. The “no poo” (no commercial shampoo) movement has been gaining momentum over the past few years and there’s pretty compelling scientific data to back it up, so although there have been days when I’ve quite literally itched to “poo” I’m determined to tough it out for a bit longer. If like me you’ve read the ingredients list on the back of a shampoo bottle, you’ve probably realised that you’d need to be a chemist to work out what most of them are. According to ‘The Environmental Working Group’ based in Washington DC, most shampoos contain at least one chemical registered as toxic, they also flagged some groups of ingredients as hazardous, this includes parabens which has been linked to neurotoxicity concerns and 1.4-dioxane which is thought likely to be a human carcinogen. If that weren’t enough, the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced in 2013 that triclosan, normally found in antibacterial shampoos and soaps, was found to affect hormone levels in animals and contribute to antibiotic resistance. One study has also shown that the fungicide present in anti-dandruff shampoos is present in environmental water at concentrations that can have negative effects on algae and plants. Commercial shampoos have been around since the 1930s but it wasn’t until the 1970s and ‘80s that the serious marketing started to tell us that we should shampoo every day. Thinking back, I remember my Grandmother used to go to the hairdresser every week for her “hairdo” and she certainly wasn’t going to ruin it with a bit of a shampooing the day after. In fact, I remember her telling me that if I washed my hair every day it would NEED doing every day and she was right; for the past 40 odd years I’ve washed my hair every day without fail - until now! My Grandmother obviously felt it wasn’t necessary for her to shampoo daily and the proponents of “no poo” feel the same way. They believe that shampoo removes the natural oils or sebum produced by the scalp, which means the scalp produces more oil to compensate and that creates a cycle - the more you shampoo, the more excess oils are produced, the more you need to shampoo. So, 28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly


by Louise Read & David Hammond

if you stop using shampoo your hair will feel thicker, fuller and more lustrous. Let’s be clear, “no poo” doesn’t mean not washing your hair, and although some “no pooers” only wash with water, most use natural substitutes to cleanse and condition their hair. These range from bicarbonate of soda and apple cider vinegar to egg and rye flour. Yes, I know there’s a risk of smelling like salad dressing, but I’m determined that I’ll give it until the end of March, because I know I’m worth it, and so is our environment! On a slightly different note, thank you to Terry for getting in touch to ask about what happens to all our recycling. For those of you that don’t know, across Europe as a whole there is a strong movement to make as much use of recycled waste as possible in the country it came from - in other words it’s not exported. Certainly with glass, almost 80% is now used to make new glass bottles and jars with the remainder (normally because it’s the wrong grade of glass) being crushed and used as hardcore. Similarly tin is used to make new tins, which again is great. Paper recycling is a huge success story and certainly in the UK all newsprint media now uses recycled paper and the story is similar in France; you certainly see recycled items like kitchen and toilet roll in the supermarkets here. Probably the most controversial area is plastics. I understand that most European countries sell it on to China who are prepared to pay quite a high price for it because they’ve got no easily available sources of the virgin materials and have the manufacturing base that needs these products. So it’s a bigger recycle loop because of the transport but it’s got to be a better option than using raw materials. The transport impact is minimised because the containers that bring new stuff here are used to take recyclables back; and it also means they’re not being landfilled. So, in summary, it’s definitely worth recycling, but the bigger prize is to try and have less to recycle in the first place. We should be helped in this by some new legislation coming into effect this year which is forcing supermarkets to make food packaging compostable - I don’t know the absolute detail but am very hopeful that fewer trips to the recycling centre are needed - just a walk to the bottom of the garden!

u u Email:

Communications Preventative Maintenance Physical Cleaning (Part 2)


by Ross Hendry

ast month we looked at effective cleaning inside and outside our PC. This month, let’s clean the peripherals...

Mouse There are two basic type of mice used on PCs, the mechanical balltype mouse and the newer laser-style ones, laser or optical mice. Laser mice are very easy to keep clean, use a mild degreaser to clean the whole mouse, using wipes or a nearly dry cloth to wipe over the surface of the mouse, you might want to check that the lens on the laser is clean using a cotton bud or similar. Ensure the three or four hard pads on the base of the mouse are very clean as this is what the mouse slides upon. The ball-type mouse is more complicated, because the ball itself attracts grease from our hands and this in turn allows the dust to stick to it. This causes collars of dust and grease to stick to the rollers inside the ball housing and can impair the accuracy of the mouse. Undo the ‘ball’ cover and take out the mouse. I find the best way to clean the ball is to cover it in sticky-tape a couple of times which gets off most contamination. The rollers are usually a little more difficult. I use a sharp blade to scrape/cut the contaminates from each of the two or three rollers and once I have removed all of the solids, I wipe each roller thoroughly with a solvent to remove any further grease that dust etc. might stick to. Please be careful not to let the greasy contaminates you have scraped off re-enter the mouse, ball cavity or indeed the inside of the mouse itself as this will only re-contaminate it and make it difficult to use accurately. Finally use a mild degreaser to wipe the outer surfaces of the mouse. Keyboard Keyboards are dust catchers. By their design, they sit on our desks all day and catch whatever is floating in the air. The first thing to do is to place a clean cloth or sheet of paper under the keyboard. Now turn the keyboard upside down and gently tap or shake it to remove any of the dust, crumbs and hairs they like to trap. Once you have removed the loose stuff you should give the keyboard a blow with the air duster blowing from left to right and using your vacuum cleaner to catch the evacuated dust etc. Once you are happy that you have removed as much of the solids as you are able, give the keyboard a wipe with a cloth moistened with degreaser - paying particular attention to the surface of each key and the palm rest if you have one.

Printers Printers are a great source of dust, the more paper you print the more dust you will find. Generally printers need a good vacuum and wipe of their surfaces, the printer should be vacuumed at least once a month if you print daily. You should also seek to clean up any ink spills, using a mild degreaser on a cloth and paper towels to dry off the area cleaned. Scanners Usually these need a physical dust and wipe with a moist cloth or PC type wipe. Most important is the scanning surface - ensure that the glass is kept clean and optically clear at all times, as when this glass is contaminated it will show on scans and copies. Speakers Once again these are very good at collecting dust. I find that brushing the speaker outlets towards a vacuum cleaner that is running removed most of the dust; finish off with cotton buds for the nooks and crannies!! Monitors Cleaning a monitor is much like cleaning a TV. The new flat screen TVs are far more delicate that the older style CRT (Glass Tube), so be careful how firmly you wipe them. Clean the outer surfaces with a cloth moistened with mild degreaser and polish. Check the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions for LCD/LED type screens to ensure that you do not damage the monitor by using incorrect cleaning fluid. I think of the screen as being like my spectacles - I need them to be crystal clear so I use the optical wipes in individual wrappers and change them as soon as they show dirt. I lightly dust the screen first to remove any contaminates that could scratch the surface of the screen, then apply the moist wipe and finally polish off with a clean lint free cloth. Cables These are normally overlooked whilst cleaning your PC. They do collect dust and can get quite sticky so do need regular cleaning. Safety first, make sure that any cable you clean is disconnected from both ends - do one at a time and reconnect it. If you take a picture before you start you can use it to ensure things go back where they came from! Clean the cable with a duster first then a cloth moistened with degreaser. Please make sure any cable is totally dry before reconnecting. If the cable you disconnect has exposed connectors you may clean these with a very mild solvent after brushing out any dust first. Keeping your PC physically clean will prolong its life and make it a more pleasant place to work. Try to keep your environment clean if you can and avoid as much dust, moisture and smoke as possible. Next month we can start on cleaning up the operating system and programs! Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (See advert below).

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 29

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Food & Drink


9th SALON DU VIN LIONS CLUB VAL DE SÈVRE n 1973 a group of friends created ‘The Lions Club Val de Sèvre’ according to the goals of the Lions Club International, with the Code: “FREEDOM AND UNDERSTANDING OF OTHERS ARE THE SAFETY OF OUR NATION” and its motto “WE SERVE”.

For 40 years the successive Presidents have applied these principles for success and the honour of the club; this is how we have helped many people in need. In 2007 we created the Wine Fair and Gastronomy whose profits are distributed to a different charity each year. This show, by its reputation, has become renowned regionally because we host national exhibitors from all over France. This year there will be 97 exhibitors, wine producers, champagne producers, various foods stands and chocolatiers. The salon du Vin is held at the Niort Parc des expositions on the 28th and 29th of March. Entry is 3€ which includes a tasting glass (to take home as a souvenir) and which you can use for it’s true purpose whilst enjoying your visit. Taste and buy (if you wish) as many

by Paul Woods

wines as you feel inclined. Come along and enjoy the ambiance and pleasure of one of the great industries of France. Lions have a dynamic history, founded in 1917 in America, now with 46,000 clubs and 1.35 million members worldwide. Best known for fighting blindness, the lions help numerous other charities and local causes, making them the world’s largest service club organization. Lions members help with whatever is needed in their local community and contribute to volunteer efforts around the world. The Val de Sèvre Lions Club meets on the 3rd Friday of each month in Niort. At present there are 22 members who all have great fun organizing the wine fair and other events throughout the year; wives and partners are also involved as much as they want to be. The Salon du Vin is great fun to organize and attend and we hope to see you all there to enjoy great wines and produce. This year the profits will go to Handisport which supports and encourages local sports in Deux-Sèvres. Why not make a day of it and take lunch in the onsite restaurant. For more information go to Or contact: President, Joel Guillochet: 06 85 32 94 42 (French) Vice President, Paul Woods: 06 09 68 02 50 (English)

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 31

My Slow Cooker

by Jacqueline Brown

One of my favourite gadgets in the kitchen is my slow cooker and especially so during the winter months when it produces warm comforting food with very little effort from me. Whether I’m out in the garden (where there is plenty of weeding and seed sowing to do at this time of year) or off on an afternoon taxi run to the airport, I always plan ahead and make sure the slow cooker is charged and doing the hard work for me. Whether it is a casserole type dish with pork or beef or a whole chicken stuffed with lemon slices and smeared in crushed garlic, I know that when I’m done with my chores there will be a meal ready to serve in no time at all. At this time of year my services as airport taxi are in demand as the winter flight schedules mean my husband (who travels all over Europe to anywhere the work takes him) often needs to leave from one airport and return to another. Secretly I love it when I have to pick him up from the afternoon flight in La Rochelle. There is something about driving to this special city, even in the winter, which gives me a shimmer of excitement. Culturally, La Rochelle seems a million miles away from my normal life; the people look different, they wear different clothes and the shops are rare things of interest not seen in day-to-day village life, (note to self, I must get out more). I’m not sure I’d swap, but I do enjoy my fix of chic every once in a while, so we have a little ritual that only happens when I collect him from La Rochelle - I get taken into town for a coffee. If the weather is good we head to a bar on the beach where we sit outside and watch the sun setting over the marina, sipping coffee and dunking dark chocolate. If it’s cold, we head to the beautifully decorated Café de la Paix with it’s painted ceilings, mirrors and chandeliers that can’t help but make me feel I’m being treated. As a round trip to La Rochelle, plus the coffee, takes around four hours the slow cooker really is the relaxed way to ensure we eat well whilst going out and having fun at the same time. There is something quite homely about walking in the front door to the smell of delicious food and I know my husband appreciates it, especially as his standard food when staying in a hotel all week is often beer, crisps and meat pasties! When we get home there is time to pour a drink, put some music on and while he is unpacking (and filling the laundry room) I will be cooking the rice and vegetables and feeling like a domestic goddess. If you don’t have a slow cooker I can really recommend one. The only thing to note is that you don’t need to add too much liquid. u u Email:

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CONTRIBUTIONS... We are always looking for new articles for consideration in future issues. Do you have an experience to share? Are you a tradesman with a Top Tip? or perhaps an avid reader who would like to contribute a book review? Whatever it may be, either long or short, we would love to hear from you. You can call Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 with any ideas, or send them on an email to: info@thedeuxsevresmonthlyfr

Champagne’s First Feminist by John Sherwin Part I


he bare facts of a woman’s life are not difficult to relate. They appear on a gravestone or memorial for all the world to see: born in a certain year, died in another, dearly beloved spouse of Monsieur X, doting mother of… But such facts only place a person in time. They do not begin to tell the whole story. So settle into your seat, sip on your champagne, and savour the true, amazing life of Mme Nicole-Barbe ClicquotPonsardin - Veuve Clicquot, as you and I know her today. Nicole-Barbe Ponsardin was born on 16 December 1777, twelve years before the French Revolution. Her father was a wealthy textile manufacturer and politician in Reims, the ‘capital’ of Champagne. Despite the increasing unrest which led to the Revolution of 1789, her’s was a happy, quiet and cossetted upbringing - until the year of 1799 when a certain François Clicquot came a-courting. François was the scion of another prominent Reims family, his father being a banker, draper, and (here the story takes a fateful turn) occasional winemaker. He would harvest grapes from the small vineyards he owned and sell the resulting simple wine to customers and friends. Just a harmless and no doubt pleasurable pastime of the bourgeoisie. François and Nicole-Barbe were married in the very same year that they met. It was not the kind of society wedding that either family would have hoped for. The churches of Reims had not yet been restored from the desecrations of war, and their union had to be celebrated in a wine cellar. Was this a portent from Bacchus?

My last visit ended in the baronial kitchen where Laurence was dipping the necks of magnums destined for a client in Las Vegas into a vat of red wax. If God, or Nature, or It ever touched a winemaker with genius it was Laurence. If you see a bottle of Domaine Weinbach, be it Riesling, Gewurztraminer, or if you get really lucky, Muscat, buy it without hesitation or reservation and it will show you what supreme heights Alsace wine is capable of attaining. Laurence died suddenly at the age of 47 in May of last year. At school we often found using the past tense in French was tough. It can be pretty difficult in English too.

u u

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 02 51 66 13 05 or

Their marriage might smack of an arrangement between families of a similar rank in society, but the following years of happiness belie such a jaundiced view. Whirlwind romances are not a modern invention. François became more and more interested in his vineyards - anything to escape from book-keeping and reams of cloth - and he would delight in taking his new bride into the countryside around Reims to explore the mystery of the vines, he in his top hat and boots, she holding a parasol to protect her young skin. François and his father gradually divested themselves of their other business interests and concentrated on the wine trade. Business went well. François travelled to explore export markets in Austria, Bavaria and Switzerland. While in Basel, he met a certain Mr Bohne and, impressed by his energy, honesty and intelligence, employed him as a commercial traveller. This was indeed a shrewd move as Bohne proved to be a most faithful friend and efficacious representative for more than twenty years. Home life too was fruitful. Nicole-Barbe gave birth to a daughter, Clémentine, in 1802. A loving young couple, a beautiful baby and a prospering business - what could possibly mar the idyll? In the spirit of the Perils of Pauline and other great cliffhangers of yore, tune in next month for the thrilling finale… With weird and very unwonderful timing, I learnt of the death at the age of 86 of Colette Faller while finishing the above piece. Madame Faller (I could say ‘Colette’ but that would be so wrong: she was always ‘Madame’) was the matriarch of Domaine Weinbach in Alsace. She took over the running of the business in 1979 following the untimely death of her husband Theo. Her daughters Catherine and Laurence joined her. If this was feminism in action, it came with a pronounced streak of old world grace and civility. A visit to their stately mansion outside Kaysersberg started in the rose garden (with a respectful nod to Theo who lies in peace there), and continued with a tasting in the parlour. Madame dressed as if to receive the King of Siam, not just an itinerant wine hack. And it was always, delightfully, so.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 33

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4yrs old this month....

Annual Subscription Costs: 31,00€ within France, 20€ 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 SARAH BERRY.

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

The Hope of Spring


by Hazel Foster

t always feels good when you know that the worst of the winter months are behind you and signs of Spring start showing with the bulbs sticking their fresh green shoots out from the cold, hard earth and the hint of blossom on trees and shrubs. It’s got to be the best season - so much to look forward to! I probably should be starting to think about bikini weather and dig out some more low-fat recipes (yes, it will take that long!) But as it’s still a bit chilly out there I thought a nice spring vegetable stew with herby dumplings with some sticky lemon buns for that time when you are stuck in because it’s raining and you feel like doing a bit of baking. Enjoy!

Spring Veggies Casserole with Cheese and Herb Dumplings Serves 4-5

There is such a lovely choice of fresh vegetables out there and topped with the dumplings this makes a lovely meal for all. Of to add meat you could add course for those who would like g and adjust the timings it to the casserole at the beginnin But I think sometimes it’s accordingly, or serve it alongside. tables (and you don’t feel nice to just taste all the lovely vege n lots of veg!). so guilty about pudding if you’ve eate For the dumplings room temperature, cut 100g self-raising flour •50g butter atas cheddar, comté or such se into pieces • 50g hard chee parsley. cantal, grated • 3 tbsp finely chopped For the casserole and cut in half 3 tbsp olive oil • 8 shallots, peeledtoes , cut in half • 3 pota new ll sma g 250 • lengthways chunky slices ots, carr g 200 • d slice es, peeled garlic clov ky cubes • chun riac, cele g 350 • • 1 turnip, chunky cubes , such as wine e whit y fruit 600ml vegetable stock • 300ml • ½ tsp soy sauce • 100g r suga of tsp ½ • c blan n sauvigno tnut mushrooms, halved • kale or savoy cabbage • 200g ches ped chives and chopped snip of each 2 tsp cornflour • 1 tbsp parsley. r and butter together 1. To make the dumplings rub theinflou cheese, parsley and the Stir so it looks like breadcrumbs. e. asid set and on seas to per pep salt and a medium heat, then 2. Heat the oil in a large pan overfor 2-3 minutes till Fry lots. shal ed halv throw in the and gold in places. n brow turn and beginning to soften the same effect, 3-5 for h watc Now add the potatoes and n. Add the garlic, spoo den woo a with ing stirr , minutes couple of minutes a ing allow riac, cele and ip carrots, turn ase their flavours. rele to ce chan a get between each so they , then stir wine the of t mos Pour in the stock along with to the boil. Simmer rn retu and e sauc soy and r suga in the covered for 10 minutes. end of step 2, cool and (If preparing ahead make up to theare ready to serve, bring you re chill. About 20 minutes befo 3.) back to the boil, and continue with step pling mixture dum the 3. Stir about 2 tbsp of water into ll pieces to make 25 sma off k Brea gh. dou to form a soft ds about the size of a dumplings, then shape into rounbage and mushrooms. Stir /cab cherry tomato. Add the kale until it has dissolved, wine the cornflour into the remaining ken. Bring to the boil, stir thic to e erol cass the then stir into s on top. Cover the pan well then gently place the dumpling ut 15 minutes till the abo for ly with a lid and simmer gent is rich and thick and the stew the and , risen have s pling dum the seasoning. vegetables deliciously tender. Check e. 4. Scatter herbs on top of the casserol

Sticky Lemon Buns - Makes 12 large rolls (these buns can be eaten any time of day - an alternate flavour from the cinnamon and sultana buns you may have had.) For the dough:
2 ½ teaspoons (1 sachet) active yeast
180ml milk, warmed to about 100°F , warm but not hot on the inside of your wrist
• 115g unsalted butter, room temp
• 2 large eggs
• 56g white sugar
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1 lemon, zested
• 560g all-purpose flour
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon nutmeg. For the sticky lemon filling:
200g granulated sugar
• 1 lemon, zested
• 56g unsalted butter, very soft •
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger •
⅛ teaspoon freshly-ground nutmeg
• 4 tbsp lemon juice. For the lemon glaze:
1 lemon, zested and juiced
• 125g icing sugar. Make the dough: In the bowl of a stand mixer, sprinkle the yeast over the warmed milk and let it sit for a few minutes or until foamy. Using the mixer paddle and with the mixer on low speed, stir the softened butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and 130g of the flour into the milk and yeast mixture. Stir in the salt and nutmeg. Stir in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft yet sticky dough. Switch to the dough hook and knead at low speed for about 5 minutes, or until the dough is smooth, pliable, and stretchy, or knead by hand to get the same result. Put dough in a greased bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a towel and let the dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled. Make the sticky lemon filling: While the dough is rising, rub the lemon zest into the sugar with the tips of your fingers until well combined. Add the butter and beat together until it is thick and creamy. Add the ginger and nutmeg. Slowly add the lemon juice and mix. Refrigerate for at least ½ hour, or until you are ready to assemble the rolls. Assemble the rolls: Lightly grease a 13x9 inch baking dish with baking spray or butter. On a floured surface, pat the risen dough into a large yet still thick rectangle — about 10 x 15 inches. Spread the dough evenly with the sticky lemon filling. Roll the dough up tightly, starting from the top long end. Stretch and pull the dough taut as you roll, to keep the lemon filling inside. Cut the long dough roll into 12 even rolls and place each in the prepared baking dish. Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise for 1 hour or until puffy and doubled. → Make-Ahead Instructions: You can also refrigerate the rolls at this point. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap or a towel, and place it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. When you are ready to bake the rolls, remove the pan from the fridge, and let them rise for an hour before proceeding with baking. Bake the rolls: Heat the oven to 350°F/ 180°C. Place the risen rolls in the oven and bake for 35 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into a middle roll reads 190°F. While the rolls are baking, prepare the glaze. Add lemon juice a little at a time into the icing sugar until you have a thickish but spreadable glaze. When the rolls are done, smear them with the glaze, and sprinkle the lemon zest. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Can be eaten warm or cold.

Hazel Foster ~ Homechef 79 Personal Chef for dinner parties, special occasions and catering services Tel: 05 49 63 29 98 ~ Email: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 35

Motoring A Very Special Ferrari!


egular readers will remember the January edition talking of the incredible barn find near Niort; the Baillon collection.

Well, the entire collection went under the hammer on 6th February in Paris at the Retromobile show, and exceeded all estimates, as well as achieving two world record prices. The report from Artcurial, the auction house, describes the highlight of the sale ...... “Without a doubt the most exciting moment of the afternoon was the appearance of the uncontested star of the sale, the 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder, arriving on the stand as the room plunged into darkness. The saleroom held its breath as the bids rose, before bursting into applause as Maître Hervé Poulain’s hammer fell at 16.3m€/ £12.1m/$18.5m including premium.”

This is the highest bid in Artcurial’s history. Pierre Novikoff, specialist in the Artcurial Motorcars department said: “This will go down in history as an extraordinary sale! The Baillon discovery has been an incredible adventure. In addition to the passion it has aroused in enthusiasts, it is the unique story of one man’s dream, carried on by an entire family. The successful sale of the 59 cars in the Baillon Collection reflects the international response by collectors who have been touched by these phantom-like automobiles.” The Ferrari set a new world record sale price, despite needing complete restoration, which is impressive for a model which had already featured 13 times on the list of the most expensive cars ever sold.  All of this begs the question, what makes this Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder so special?  Firstly, only 55 examples of this model were built, and only 37 of those were delivered in the most desirable of all configurations: the very attractive covered-headlamp variant, as sported by the car sold in February.  Secondly the model is considered to be one of the finest examples of automotive art at its best. 

by Helen Tait-Wright

Back in the ‘60s Ferrari’s were custom built cars, not massproduced. Ferrari provided the engine and chassis while Italian coach builders provided the body. From the moment the Ferrari 250 GT California Spyder made its first appearance in Geneva in 1960, the evocative lines of the Scaglietti body and the gorgeous soundtrack from its three-litre V-12 made it coveted by some of the biggest names. It was more than just a status symbol for the elite of society and Hollywood, it was a necessary indulgence.  The car sold in Paris has had its fair share of celebrity owners too.  The first owner was French actor and comedian Gérard Blain.  Blain then sold the Ferrari to screen legend Alain Delon, who was on several occasions photographed at the wheel, accompanied, in 1963, by Jane Fonda (during the filming of ‘Les Félins’) and later by Shirley MacLaine on the Côte d’Azur. In 1964, Delon and his wife Nathalie travelled to California. The actor had the car sent out so that he could enjoy driving it around the streets of Los Angeles. It must have been at this time that the indicator lights on the side of the front wings were changed to correspond with American regulations. Under the passenger seat the original round indicator lights were found in their box! On the period insurance certificate, an original document supplied by the son of the third owner, an address in Beverley Hills is recorded by hand. No doubt the actor noted this information down for his insurance company.   In a photo taken in the United States in 1964, the Ferrari California is spotted at a gas station, with Nathalie Delon, while her husband checks the tyre pressures.  In another photo, the couple are seen in Los Angeles, riding in their car.  The car returned to Paris in July 1965 where it had 4 further owners.  While every other covered headlight example of the 250GT SWB California Spyder has had its entire life well documented by historians, this car had been assumed “lost” since it left Paris in 1971 and was subsequently registered on 79 plates. That is until it was uncovered beneath piles of old newspapers and magazines in 2014.  So, as you can see, the buyer of this car has acquired a unique piece of motoring, design and social history, as well as a very much lighter bank balance! A true rare breed! u Helen Tait-Wright u Email:, www.autocult. fr,,www.actu-moteurs. com,

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Building & Renovation Introducing Madame Mural !

mural will always provide an interesting, fun, and unique space to play or sleep and will be remembered and talked about for years to come!

am pleased to introduce Madame Mural, an idea inspired by the mural created in the nursery of our firstborn. I painted the mural during pregnancy 5 years ago and wanted to do something that would appeal to either a girl or a boy, providing a fun and unique space for our little one to play and sleep.

I strive to provide my expertise at the cheapest possible prices, making it both accessible and affordable to families. I can adapt your ideas to suit your budget.


We were over the moon with the result. Not only was it bright and colourful, but encouraged learning and development also. Our daughter loved it and spent hours looking at it! She would name all the colours and animals and count them. Many a bedtime story featuring the characters on the wall were told, which brought even more magic and comfort. I have since undertaken various other projects for boys and girls of varied ages, covering many genres and styles - 2D/3D/more realistic/cartoon etc. I have built a portfolio of work featuring various different scenes and characters including: farm/jungle animals, underwater/seaside, favourite books, TV, film, Super Heroes and fairies. Characters and scenes can be designed according to your own ideas, or uniquely inspired and designed for your little one. The effect a mural can bring to a room and the influence it can have on a child, breathing life and inspiring imagination is truly amazing! Whether for your own child/grandchild, or even as a fun idea for a room set up specifically for children in your holiday rental, a wall

38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

The smile we get at the end is priceless!!!

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only 32â&#x201A;Ź

PLUMBING TOP TIPS Is your hot water too hot? If you have a hot water tank heated by electricity, there is a thermostat behind the plastic cover where the electric cable enters which you can adjust. REMEMBER! ALL WIRING AROUND IT IS LIVE! If heated by a boiler and adjusting the thermostat on the boiler control panel makes no difference, the other option is to fit a mixer valve between the cold entering the boiler and the hot exiting. This valve can be set at a temperature of your choice. The valve can also be fitted to your hot water tank pipes.

Derek Marriott ~ Plombier et Chauffagiste Tel: 09 61 40 44 60

ASK about our special packages for New Advertisers! They are a great way to kick-start your marketing campaign.... Call Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 to find out more! The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 39

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Siret: 533 313 508 00012

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 41

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

Business & Finance

Meet Paperback Jan


hree or four times a week, usually in the afternoons, Janice Smith leaves her home in La Ferriére-en-Parthenay with just one thing on her mind… murder most foul!

“It’s an ideal business opportunity for someone coming from the UK or already living here,” says Jan. “I work three out of every four weeks, but if a younger couple were to run the business it would be easy for them to take on more venues and double or even treble my current turnover.” The book-selling business has allowed Jan to make many good friends over the years. “They’re all lovely and I appreciate their support and loyalty. But with the pressure off having to earn a living I can socialise more and go to places I want to visit rather than having to go.”

However, before anyone calls the gendarmes, this lady is merely going about her legitimate business. Meet Paperback Jan, known throughout the Deux-Sèvres for her book-selling and exchange business. “I’ve got books of all sorts in my barn but my most popular genre is murder,” says Jan. “Folks like a It’s an ideal business good murder mystery.”

As well as making friends, Jan has also met some characters over the years. “One chap had a memory problem following a tumour. He would come in with an armful of books to exchange, spend ages looking through my stock and then come out with half the books he’d brought in! I had to tell him to start looking again.”

opportunity for someone Jan started selling books in late 2003 at the L’Absie British Shop, not long after coming from the UK or arriving in France with her three black And one of the strangest book requests she’s cats to live in a caravan without water already living here. received? “That would probably be the time or electricity. When the shop closed someone asked if I had a book on the history of a few years ago she decided to set up carpets!” on her own. “I went to local bars and restaurants and asked if they’d like me to come to them to sell Memories to treasure as Jan tends her vegetables… books. Most said yes and it went on from there.” Now she’s a regular sight as she visits 11 different venues on a monthly rota in her trusty Ford Escort van and the 70-odd books she began with (a donation from her sister) has grown to more than 5000. She doesn’t take all her books, of course – “I’d need a pantechnicon for that!” – but a selection of around 400 for her predominantly English customers.

If you are interested in taking over Jan’s business you can call her on 06 08 30 73 29 or email:

People also visit Jan’s house twice a month to rummage through her books and twice a year she organises a fayre – the first a ‘Clear Your Clutter For Charity’ sale, with this year’s being on May 10, and the second based on arts and crafts. She also finds time to write a regular, light-hearted newsletter, keeping the 400-plus people on her database up to date on where and when she’s selling her books, what’s going on in the area, who’s having a house sale and even where you might find some kittens! Now it’s time for a change. Jan has reached a certain age (describing herself as “officially old with pension pending”) and would like to “retire and grow vegetables.” So she’s now looking to sell her business as a going concern. The sale would include all her books, her client database and the van. “It’s a bit old and creaky, but it’s just passed its CT.” She is also willing to work with any buyer for a few months until they get settled.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 43

What Should you Do with Your Pensions?

by Bradley Warden, Partner, Blevins Franks


he new pension freedom from April 2015 is welcome news for anyone with UK pension funds. It could help you restructure your pension savings so that they are more suited to your current circumstances as a French resident, though you also need to consider possible future plans. Your pensions are essential for providing you with financial security through retirement. Deciding what to do with your funds could be one of the most important financial decisions you make.

It is vital you have all the facts about your new options, and carefully consider the implications of each. This includes taxation in the UK and France; leaving the balance to your heirs; control over investment options; income, and ensuring you do not run out of funds in your later years. You can only determine which option is right for you once you have weighed them all up. Specialist, professional advice is the only way to ensure you have all the information and understand how each option affects you. Your personal situation is unique – what is right for one person may not be right for you.

semina rs

If you have a defined contribution scheme, from 6th April 2015 you can draw down as much of your pension funds as you like, even the whole amount, or make withdrawals as and when you want, without having to enter into a drawdown policy. The 55% pension ‘death tax’ will be abolished, including for annuities - but not for final salary schemes. Beneficiaries will receive the balance tax free if you die under age 75, or pay income tax, or 45% if taken as a lump sum, if you are over 75 (which could change to income tax rates from 2016). Many of the new options apply specifically to defined contribution schemes. From April those with private sector defined benefit pensions (final salary schemes) could transfer to a defined contribution scheme - but be aware that you could lose valuable benefits so this would need very careful consideration. Transfers can only be made with advice from a pension transfer specialist regulated by the UK Financial Conduct Authority. Most Public Sector schemes will not be able to transfer after April 2015. Taking professional advice from a regulated adviser will give you peace of mind that they are following the rules and providing suitable advice for you. Be careful of unregulated, unsolicited, advice. Sound financial planning and personalised advice is crucial. Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice.

Book your place now by phone, email or from our website

“With so many options for my UK pension funds now, what are the best solutions for French residents?”

Talk to the people who know. With the new UK pension regime, it is crucial you understand how all the options affect you. Our seminars discuss this topic, and other important tax and wealth management issues affecting expatriates in France. book your seat now

05 49 75 07 24

SAINT-MAIXENT L’ÉCOLE Tuesday 24 March Logis Saint-Martin, 10 f or 10.30am until 12 noon PuS01 - fr

SAUMUR NORD Wednesday 25 March Hotel du Parc, 10 f or 10.30am until 12 noon Blevins Franks Financial Management Limited (BFFM) is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK, reference number 179731. Where advice is provided outside the UK, via the Insurance Mediation Directive from Malta, the regulatory system differs in some respects from that of the UK. Blevins Franks Tax Limited provides taxation advice; its advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFFM.

F R A N C E  S PA I N  P ORT UG A L  C Y PRU S  M A LTA  U N I T E D K I N G D OM

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French Residence Tax Healthcare

by David Hardy

“I have recently retired and would like to make my French house my primary residence as I will be spending more time there than in England. How do you do this? And what are the tax and health care implications?”

If you are planning to spend the majority of the year in France, you have to consider the implications of becoming a French tax resident. You are automatically considered French tax resident if your main home (or foyer fiscal) is in France. Alternatively, you would also be considered resident if you spend more than 183 days in France in any calendar year. The main difference between the UK and the French tax system is that you are taxed on a household rather than on an individual basis. This means that if you are married, your tax liability is based on the combined income of both spouses. This can work in your favour especially if one spouse has a higher income, since you get to utilise the other spouse’s lower rate bands in full. French income tax rates are progressive up to 45%. In addition to income tax, social charges are levied on most types of income (7.4% on pension income and 15.5% on investment income). Under the terms of the UK/France double tax treaty, pension income is only taxable in your country of residence with the exception of government service pensions (e.g. civil service, army or police) which remain taxable only in the UK. Government service pensions are not directly taxable in France but the income is reported on the French tax return and then a credit equal to the French tax and social charges is applied.

Protect your wealth

French finance in plain English

For fully compliant and expert financial advice David Hardy, Regional Manager: 05 56 34 75 51 Siddalls France SASU, Parc Innolin, 3 Rue du Golf, CS 60073, 33701 Mérignac Cedex, forms part of the Blevins Franks group of companies - RCS BX 498 800 465. C.I.F. No E001669 auprès de ANACOFI-CIF association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers et Courtier d’Assurances, Catégorie B - ORIAS 07 027 475. 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.

If you become French resident at the beginning of 2015 for example, your first obligation to the French authorities will be to complete a tax return in May 2016 for your income for the calendar year 2015. At the same time you would normally complete Inland Revenue form ‘France Individual’ informing the UK of your departure. In the meantime, you should inform the Mairie of your new home and of your decision to stay permanently. If you are in receipt of your UK state pension, you will be entitled to a Form S1 from the Department for Work & Pensions. The form has two significant benefits: firstly, it exempts any UK source pension income from social charges and secondly provides household healthcare cover in France. If you do not qualify for Form S1, you will have to arrange private healthcare cover for at least the first five years of residence unless you enter the social security system by taking up employment or self-employment in France. You also have to consider the implications on any other types of income such as investment income. It is important to note that what is tax-efficient in the UK (such as ISAs) is not tax-efficient if you become French resident. Therefore, leaving the UK and becoming French resident is an ideal time to look at your overall investments. David Hardy is Regional Manager of Siddalls France, Independent Financial Adviser, specialised in personal tax, inheritance, pension and investment planning for the British community in France since 1996.

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Siddalls France, Email: 05 56 34 75 51 or The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 45

How to Cancel Insurance and the New Law ‘loi hamon’


ell, I’ve lost count of how many times I have had British people asking how to cancel insurances in France (not from my customers of course, as nobody wants to leave BH assurances!).

I know, in England, you just phone them and tell them you want to cancel and that’s it. But, you are in France, and, surprise, surprise, we like paperwork.

So here is an explanation on how to cancel your insurances and some information about the new law that has been finally published this January.

Anniversary Date/Date d’échéance

The important thing to find out about your insurance contract is the “date d’échéance” which is the anniversary date of your contract. Be careful, as sometimes some companies will automatically put 1st of January as an anniversary date, so it is not always the date when you took out the contract originally. You should find this date on the original contract you signed or on the renewal notice you receive each year. Normally, when you take out insurance, it is for one year minimum (there are exceptions-see below). So you need to see it through until the anniversary date. Before the new law, the only way you could cancel was by sending a registered letter 2 months prior to the anniversary date saying you wish to stop the insurance on its next anniversary (in 2 months). Be careful, with some companies who offer health top up insurance, it can even be 3 months.

downloaded from internet) and the insurance will stop from the date on the proof of sale. If you sell the car abroad, always get a proof of sale of some sort. Without paperwork, it is illegal for an insurance company to stop a car insurance contract before its anniversary date. If the car stops working, a proof from the garage or mechanic can do (it does with us). If you move back to the UK, we need a proof of insurance from the UK. If you sell your house, you can stop the house insurance with the paperwork from the Notaire. For health top up, it can be stopped if you move abroad and stop being covered by the French system. In this case, they can issue you a letter saying you are not in the French system anymore and the insurance is stopped. Otherwise, a proof from the UK showing that you are covered under the UK system should be enough. For professional insurance, you can cancel with a proof from RSI or MSA saying you have shut down the business.

Basically, when there is nothing to be insured any longer, and you can prove it, the insurance can be stopped.

The other way is called loi chatel and with this method, you had 20 days from when you received the renewal notice to send a registered letter saying you wish to stop the insurance. Do note that some companies actually send the renewal notice at the last minute, even sometimes after the actual renewal date so you think it is too late. But it is the date on the envelope (post office stamp) that counts and not the date on the letter, so always keep the envelope when you choose this method. This method does not apply for professional insurances such as public liability or decennale insurance or even with some health top up. It always applies for cars and houses.

New law ‘Loi HAMON’

Since January 2015, you can now cancel your car and house insurance anytime you want as long as you have had the contract at least one year. Because the law has only been published in January 2015, it only works for the contracts that have an anniversary/renewal date since 01/01/2015. Basically, if you have a contract with a date of anniversary on the 05/02/2015 (or anytime between 01/01/2015 and now) and it has been running for at least one year, then you can cancel it anytime after the renewal date. But if the anniversary date is the 1st of December, then you have to wait for that date before you can cancel it even if you have had this contract for 5 years! This new law does not apply for top up health insurance or any professional insurances.


Hopefully now you should all be willing to switch your insurances to me and BH Assurances (your favorite insurance broker in the region) as we have a dedicated person who deals with claims and you don’t have to wait any longer for the anniversary date. Finally don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subjects such as Inheritance law, Funeral cover, French Tax, car, house, professional, travel and top up health insurance, etc… And remember to check out our website where you can find all my previous articles under the ‘Practical Information’ page on the English site: You can also follow us on Twitter @charenteinsure N° Orias 07004255

How to cancel using loi Hamon

i) House insurance as an owner: You simply have to notify your insurer with a letter and the cancellation will be effective one month after receiving the letter (email is possible if you can be identified properly with it). ii) Car and house insurance as a tenant: Because car and house insurances for tenants are a legal obligation, the cancellation has to be made by your new insurer (hopefully me!)


Obviously, there are exceptions which allow you to stop your insurance without using the methods above. •

If you sell your car, you can cancel the insurance by showing your certificate of sale (certificate de cession de vehicle can be

46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec Contact Isabelle Want: Tel: 05 45 31 01 61 Mob: 06 17 30 39 11 Email:

Ask Amanda

Le Tour de Finance

by Sue Cook

As ‘Le Tour de Finance’ in this area approaches, you may wonder why you should attend. Well, I thought I would give you an overview to answer some of your questions. Le Tour de Finance came about as a number of professionals realised that there was a need for the ex-pat community living in France and other countries to have their questions answered. Our mission is to bring information and ease to those who have chosen to make France their home. We want to be the chosen forum for all those with financial concerns and questions who are living in these countries. If you have questions about residency rules, healthcare changes, how best to invest your hard-earned money or recent tax and pension changes then there will be professionals at the event who can answer them. Le Tour de Finance will be presented in your local area, because we believe that information about foreign exchange transfers, pensions, taxation and health care should be available where you live so you know you are talking to people who understand your needs and concerns. After the presentations you will have the opportunity to meet other people in your area over a free lunch and also talk one-toone with the professionals. If you want to book for the following events please give me a ring or drop me an e-mail: • • •

Tuesday 17th March. Chateau Colbert, Place du Château de Colbert 49360 Maulevrier Wednesday 18th March. Ackerman, 19 rue Léopold Palustre, Saint Hilaure Saint Florent, Saumur 49400 Thursday 19th March Château de Javarzay, 79110 Chef Boutonne (shown above)

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Sue Cook of Currencies Direct 05 55 03 66 69 or 06 89 99 28 89

“I am worried about the amount of Inheritance Tax my family will have to pay if I die whilst living in France. How can I keep this to a minimum?”

Should you die whilst living in France, as a French resident your estate may be liable to inheritance tax (IHT). The amount you pay depends on how much your estate is worth and the number of children you have. There are tax free allowances for different family relations and I can provide these to you as part of our free financial review service. All of your worldwide assets are included in the IHT calculation however, if you hold property outside of France this will be dealt with and taxed by the country in question. The French authorities will take into account any tax that your estate has paid in that country when calculating your IHT liability. For example, if you have a house in the UK then the IHT due on that property is taxed in the UK at the appropriate rate. From August 2015, as a British National, you will be able to use a UK will to determine who you leave your estate to. However, you need to ensure that the correct codicil is written in both your UK and French will and I would strongly recommend that you seek a professional to do this for you. Of course, French IHT is still payable on your estate. If you hold cash in savings and investments then it would be worth looking at a tax efficient vehicle which will provide allowances before French IHT becomes due. Inheritance tax planning is just one of the key areas that I cover in a financial review and is certainly worth understanding your personal circumstances, so that you are aware of your IHT position. This is just one of the areas that we will be covering at the annual Tours de Finance seminars which take place this month. We are holding three seminars, each in different locations. Please see our advert on the inside back cover for dates and venues. Each seminar includes a welcome coffee, Seminar and buffet lunch offering the opportunity to speak informally to the presenters. Places to these seminars are limited so please contact me on the numbers below to book your free place. 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 & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

With Care, You Prosper. Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Lausanne, Paris, Cote d’Azur, Barcelona, Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, Madrid, Mallorca, Rome. «The Spectrum IFA Group » is a registered trademark, exclusive rights to use in France granted to TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 «Société de Courtage d’assurances» R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 - «Conseiller en investissements financiers, référence sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers»

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Amanda Johnson of The Spectrum IFA Group 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43

We’d love to hear your


What would you like to see in future issues? Tel: 05 49 0 26 21 Email: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 47

All ABORD ! ABORDimmo, the Internet estate agents based in Bressuire, are pleased to announce their expansion in 2015. Following a busy and eventful 2014 they have more than doubled the number of agents working for them, with new agent commercials Anne Spilling, Yiannis and Denise Morfakis and Gilles Pommeau. Gérant Adrian Simmonds stated that he is delighted to welcome the new team members on board. “We have been looking for the right people for some time and they all came along at roughly the same time” he said. With the current market conditions we need motivated professionals who are able to offer the standards of service that we strive for.

The team at AbordImmo from left to right: Yiannis Morfakis, Adrian Simmonds, Denise Morfakis, Anna Spilling and Gilles Pommeau.

Anne will be covering the area around Parthenay whilst Gilles will be covering the Vendée/Deux Sèvres borders. Yiannis and Denise will be working together in the Charente Maritime. With the exchange rate favourable to investors outside the Eurozone we are anticipating increased levels of activity from foreign buyers in France this year. We are currently seeking properties to sell in all our areas and looking forward to an improving market. All our properties are distributed to over 60 different websites worldwide giving our vendors some of the widest coverage for their properties. We will be having a stand at the Bressuire Foire Expo 20-23rd March at the Bocopole and hope to see some of you there. We are still looking to recruit further agents in the region especially in the south of the Deux-Sèvres. Further information is available on our website & www. or contact Adrian on 06 11 85 54 11. u u

Adrian Simmonds, ABORDImmo 06 11 85 54 11 or

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly | 49

The Route de Chabichou


by Joanna Leggett

hile it was good enough for Dorothy and Elton to follow the Yellow Brick Road, to our mind there’s nothing better than following a road full of tasty delight - in particular the route de Chabichou of the Deux-Sèvres - the trail of goat’s cheese!

Made exclusively of goats’ milk to be called ‘Chabichou’ requires strict certification. According to legend, it was first made in this region in the 8th century. Whether fact or fiction we do know it’s only produced in a narrow swathe through this area of the Poitou. Here the quality of the pasture is excellent for this type of cheese - in part due to the Haut Poitou limestone which forms the land’s substructure; the rich and abundant milk produced by the goats being essential to its production. This traditional soft, unpasteurised cheese has a firm and creamy texture and can be purchased directly from producers or at local markets. Best appreciated with a locally produced Sauvignon Blanc or, perhaps better still, with our local apero, Pineau des Charentes, a sumptous feast to be savoured and, they say, better tasted in the summertime - the sunshine effect? In the heart of Chabichou country, close to Chef Boutonne, lies a charming three bedroom stone house and garden; its land has existing permission to build. A well presented property (Leggett reference 48438, photo right) with three bedrooms, it’s an ideal ‘lock up and leave’ or permanent home. Downstairs are the dining room, fully-equipped kitchen and lounge leading to a bedroom with a large Charentaise fireplace. Upstairs are two further bedrooms and an attic with scope for further renovation. Currently on the market for 178,200€. The gardens are a real feature of a four bedroomed house for sale in St Romans les Melle; its peach, plum, cherry and walnut trees could provide the perfect accompaniment for Chabichou. This is a very attractive double-fronted, four bedroom house in a popular village with all amenities just 5 kms from Melle (which often hosts the Chabichou de Poitou festival). Fully modernised (reference 47381, photo below) this home benefits from a wood granule fuelled central heating system. With spacious rooms downstairs, and four large bedrooms upstairs, its attached barn could provide additional living space - attractively priced at 215,892€.

Leggett Immobilier is one of the leading estate agents in France. You can access all our local property listings at www.frenchestateagents.

com/poitou-charentes-property u u

Leggett Immobilier

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The Deux-Sevres Monthly - March 2015  

English language magazine for the department of Deux-Sevres and surrounding areas.

The Deux-Sevres Monthly - March 2015  

English language magazine for the department of Deux-Sevres and surrounding areas.