The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine March 2019 Issue

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

Welcome! to Issue 95 of

This Month’s Advertisers

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

I am an animal lover. I feel bad when I run over a grasshopper with the lawn mower. But we had a ‘flock’, ‘flight’ or ‘kit’ of pigeons (call them what you will), thirty of them living in our barn. The barn was empty (we don’t have a combine harvester or any such farm machinery to put in it), so we asked a friend if they would like to keep their motorhome in it, which they did. The amount of ‘guano’ that thirty birds produce is staggering and after 48 hours in our barn the pristine motorhome was no longer...pristine. Time for the pigeons to find another home! As the barn doesn’t have a door I tootled off to the garden centre and bought some netting, which I stretched across the entrance (tying some old CDs to it, so they would see there was something there). This worked. The pigeons spent the next few days on the barn roof looking disgruntled. I felt sorry for them, but what can you do? They then got the upper hand in this strategic game of oneupmanship by nesting in the eves of the barn, so instead of the piles of poop on the inside they are now forming an outer ring, as well as on the roof. Back to the garden centre I went and returned with a large plastic owl (see picture), which I stuck in the middle of the lawn. Instead of moving the birds along, they seem to see the owl as a friend and guardian who watches over them. We have now resorted to shouting ‘bang’ whenever we go out of the backdoor, I’m sure I can hear the pigeons laughing at me. The frustrating thing is our neighbour has a beautiful old empty barn, and they’re hardly ever there, just right for a load of pigeons to move into. I need to rethink my strategy and will keep you posted of any developments. Whatever this month throws at you, have a good one and we hope you enjoy our March issue.

à la prochaine Stephen & Anna

Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:

Emergency Numbers:

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

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

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

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ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield(Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) Andy Quick (Roofing & Renovation) ARB French Property Arbres et Abeilles(Plant Nursery) Argo carpentry Ark 79 (Animal Charity Association) Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Beaux Villages Immobilier BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management Building & Renovation Services Café Rendez-Vous (Bar and Restaurant) Car For Sale (Fiat 500 Popstar) Cherry Picker Hire Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) CJ Electricité Clean Sweep Chimney Services Darren Lawrence Discover Yoga Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Hallmark Electricité Helen Booth (deVere Group) Hiley Location (Groundworks) HMJ Maintenance and Renovation Service Inter Décor (Tiles and Bathrooms) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic John Spray Maconnerie (Mason) Jon the Carpetman Keith Banks Pool Services La Bohème (Bar and Restaurant) La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) Mike Glover (Plasterer, Tiler, Renderer) ML Computers Motor Parts Charente Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Naturalispools Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Pinnacle Garden Care Plombier 85 (Plumbing, heating, sanitation) Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) Restaurant des Canards Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Re-upholstery) Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Salon des Vins et Terroirs Satellite TV Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removal company Smart Services(Home and Garden Services) Steve Coupland (Property Services) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Steve Shaw (Cartoonist) Strictly Roofing Stump Grinding Services (David Cropper) Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Hope Association The Lush Lawn Company Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini (Translation & French Admin Assistance)

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

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 3

What’s On... 1 - ST. DAVID’S DAY - Feast day of St. David, patron saint of Wales. 7 - RETURN OF THE VENDÉE CHIPPY La Bohème, Mervent. See page 32 or below for other venues. 7 - SKIN CARE AND MAKE-UP WORKSHOP by Kelly’s Pampering at Le Regal’on in Allonne from 2pm-5pm. Contact details see page 9. 7 - WORKSHOP ON MAKING COSMETICS NATURALLY in Argentonnay at 6 place de la Liberationes from 6pm-7pm (FR). Hosted by the Association ‘On Loge à Pied’. Registration essential ( 5€. (Further workshops scheduled for April, May and June) More info: 9 - RECYCLING EXPO in La Rochelle (Charente-Maritime) (FR). Thirty exhibitors, artists, artisans, individuals and professionals that all have at least one common point: recycling. 10am-8pm. Free entry. La Maison de Quartier in Port-Neuf. More info: associations. 9 - ART NOUVEAU AND ARCHITECTURE BALNÉAIRE GUIDED TOUR at Port Boinot in Niort at 5.30pm. Tickets are 12€. To make a reservation tel: 06 77 02 88 89 10 - CABARET – ‘Words to Asylum Seekers’ in Neuil les Aubiers from 4pm-7pm (FR). Poetry, songs and dance. Entry 8€. Poster page 6. 11-31 - NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY EXHIBITION in Coulonges-surl’Autize (FR). Free entry at Hall’Expo, Tuesday/Saturday 9am12.30pm, Wednesday 1pm-6pm, Thursday 3.30pm-5.30pm. 16 - EVENING OF TRADITIONAL IRISH FOOD AND MUSIC WITH THE ‘SHENANIGANS’ at Restaurant des Canards near Chef Boutonne. See page 32 for more details. 16 - FISHING & NATURE for 7-15 year olds in Mauzé-sur-le-Mignon (FR). Introducing children to the art of fishing. Several workshops over the coming months. More info. from Cyril Renaudet tel: 06 04 04 48 76 or Under 12s 6€ and 20€ for over 12s. 16-17 - MOTORCYCLE EXHIBITION AND SHOWS in Niort (FR). Shows 3pm and 5pm Saturday, 11am, 2.30pm and 4.30pm Sunday, presented by world class riders. 16-17 - IRISH DANCERS SCOIL RINCE MOBHI PERFORM at Bocapôle in Bressuire. For more info: 17 - ST. PATRICK’S DAY – Feast Day of St. Patrick, foremost patron saint of Ireland. See La Bohème, Mervent page 32. 22-23 - MOVIE NIGHT, the Pommeraie Players present an evening of music and laughter at La Pommeraie salle des fête from 7pm, curtain up at 8pm. Tickets are 7€ and 3€ for children, to reserve tel: 05 49 07 61 71 or you can buy them at the door. 23 - CAFÉ RENDEZ-VOUS 1ST YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY with music from Manivel Swing. See page 32 for more information. 22-24 - BEER FESTIVAL in La Rochelle (FR). The first ‘Salon de la Bière’ bringing together over 30 craft breweries and over 80 brewers. Free entry. More info. at: www.festial-biere-la-rochelle. See poster on page 7.

23-24 - 13TH SALON DU VIN - LIONS CLUB VAL DE SÈVRE in Niort. See article on page 11 for more information. 28 - THE FAVOURITE (Film in English) in the Salle Belle Epine, La Châtaigneraie. Starting at 8pm. For other venues showing films in English see page 15. 29-31 - SALON DES VINS ET TERROIRS in Thouars. The 72nd edition of this wine fair, bringing together over 100 winegrowers and local producers. A perfect opportunity to try before you buy and stock up your wine cave. php/fr/ See advert on back page. 30 - 5KM AND 10KM ‘FOR THE PLEASURE OF RUNNING’ in Thouars. For young and old, plus a children’s course. Online registration available at 31 - CLOCKS GO FORWARD. *(FR) = French language

REGULAR EVENTS... EVERY MON & WED 2PM-6PM Duplicate Bridge at Civray. Lessons available free. Contact Marian Green: 05 49 27 14 52 or email: EVERY TUES AT 5PM Belote at Café des Sports, L’Absie. EVERY WEDS - Franglais Bressuire 8-10pm in term time at the Centre Socio-culturelle. EVERY THURS AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs. EVERY THURS FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€. In aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY THURS - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie. For times contact Jean on tel: 06 52 93 33 60. EVERY THURS - Franglais group in Montournais. Contact Penny Homewood 02 51 63 31 21 or EVERY FRI AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact John for details tel: 05 49 63 23 50. EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Painting Workshops. Please see

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

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

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

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: PAPATOM Reel Fish & Chips 1st - Genneton: Café de la Mairie (Fri) 6th - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine (Wed) 8th - St. Martin de Sanzay: Café de la Pompe (Fri) 15th - Genneton: Café de la Mairie (Fri) 20th - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine (Wed) Tel: 06 04 14 23 94

FROM 6.30pm

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what’s COMING UP... 2-7 April - Terri’ Thouars Blues Festival (apologies for the incorrect dates in last month’s issue) see poster on page 7. 6-7 April - Fête du Chocolat. See poster on page 7

La Vendée Chippy Weds: ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: ‘La Bohème’, 69 route du lac, Mervent Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, Mouilleron-en-Pareds Sat: Last of month : Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil Re-opening at ALL our venues from Fri 1st March Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

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

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

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm




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

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

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

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

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

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

(Dates in bold=Public holidays)

TOP HAT QUIZ & CURRY 4th: 6th: 11th: 13th:

Limalonges Chef Boutonne (Wed) Theil Rabier Aigre

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm


Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking

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

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

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

OPEN mornings

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

Getting Out & About Chez Christie’s BEAUTIFUL GIFTS & CARDS *** don’t forget Mother’s Day *** Sunday 31st March


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


-- for Annual Leave Christie’s is closed from Tuesday 12th March Re-Opening on: TUESDAY 26th MARCH GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie


Siret: 47876969800018

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor


t may be chilly outside (well, it is only March), but wrap up warm, head on out and discover somewhere different this spring.

Whilst the Vendée is best known for its miles and miles of sandy beaches and busy seaside resorts, if you take a drive over to the southeastern edge of the department, you’ll find the village of Vouvant, classified as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. As you drive into Vouvant, the easiest place to park is in the Place du Bail, next to the historic Tour Mélusine. For a pleasant circular walk, you can take the path down to the river, then make your way back up through the medieval streets of the town, past the impressive church, to the Café de la Cour du Miracle (closed Monday and Tuesday). Depending on the time of day, you can enjoy morning coffee and cake, a tasty lunchtime snack or afternoon tea and cake (yes, I do love their homemade cakes!). From Vouvant it’s just a ten minute drive to the Forêt de Mervent-Vouvant. Starting from Le Chêne Tord, there’s a lovely five kilometre walk along the water’s edge and through the forest following the Petit Maillezais circuit, or you can even try out the nine kilometre mountain bike route from Mervent! But for a truly spectacular view of the forest and the lake, drive up the hill to La Bohème lounge bar in Mervent where you can sit on the terrace high above the water and enjoy an early evening glass of wine (or in my case a steaming mug of hot chocolate) and drink in the view! (closed Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays). So no excuses - don your hat, gloves and scarf and enjoy a breath of fresh air in the Vendéen countryside! Fact file • La Forêt de Mervent-Vouvant is the largest forest in the Vendée; composed mainly of oak trees, it covers an impressive 5,500 hectares of land. • Vouvant is the only Plus Beau Village in the Vendée. • The church in Vouvant dates back to the 11th century. • According to legend, the Tour Mélusine was built overnight by the fairy Mélusine “from three apronfuls of stones and a mouthful of water”! Today, you can climb up to the top of the five level tower for an impressive panoramic view. Left: Karen enjoying a hot chocolate on the terrace of La Bohème over looking the Forêt de Mervent-Vouvant. Right: the Tour Mélusine © wikicommons/Charly G.

Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

Have you LIKED us on Facebook?

We post regular updates, things to do and promote special offers on our page, so why not pop over and say “Hello”! 6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

Go Team 110!

We wish the girls all the luck in the world, and will be following their progress as we are sure you will too! Go Team 110!


ell, by the time you read this, there will be less than two weeks to go until Haley and Helen leave our region for Nice and the start of the 2019 Rallye des Gazelles.

The official depart is on the Promenade des Anglais, appropriate for a British team, on 16th March. After this the teams will head to Sete to catch the ferry to Morocco. “40 hours on the boat” says Helen “I’m not looking forward to that!”. However it gives the girls a chance to refresh their navigation techniques. After arriving in Tanger, the girls have a day and a half to drive south to Erfoud, known as the gateway to the Sahara. Then mobiles are confiscated and the competition begins! For us back at home we can follow through the organiser’s live site: Don’t forget Haley and Helen’s team number is 110. So, are our Gazelles ready for their adventure? When we caught up with them, with a month to go, there still seemed to be a long list of things to do, but we were assured it was much shorter than before! This is a serious motorsports event and comes with many regulations. Priscilla has had a thorough check over and lots of tlc. “She is crucial to our success” explains Haley. The load area is all fitted out with storage for the many, many items the girls have to take, including a huge amount of spare parts in case of mechanical failure, and of course the donations they have collected for the Charity, Coeur de Gazelles, to be distributed to the people in need. “Right now it’s a mixture of excitement and nerves” says Helen “but I know once we get started we will be focused and the whole experience will be amazing”. “Just getting to the start line makes us winners” continues Haley “I did not appreciate how much effort was necessary to prepare for the Rallye or how much time was needed to raise funds for the Rallye and for the humanitarian cause that runs along side it.”


! 0 11

Top: The route map for the Rallye des Gazelles. Bottom: the title page of an article about Helen, Haley and Priscilla from Land Rover Owners International magazine.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 7

BREXIT – Outreach meeting with the British Embassy in Parthenay 24th January 2019


joined an almost full house at Le Palais des Congrès on Thursday 24th January to see if I could be enlightened on life after 29th March for expats.

Olaf Henricson-Bell, Head of Politics and Communications, led the meeting and Mr Doré, Secrétaire Général of the Prefecture in Niort and Mr Roberts of the Immigration Service in Niort were also in attendance. The Mayor of Parthenay, Mr Argenton arrived part way through to greet the audience and say that he was disappointed about Brexit and regretted what was happening as the British expats brought positive attributes to the area and were much valued and he wanted us to stay. Residency Mr Henricson-Bell explained that though the withdrawal agreement had not yet been ratified by the Britsh parliament and the EU, the intention within it was for British expats already living in France before 29th March 2019, would be able to remain. There will be a new residency system following the withdrawal at the end of March and that it should make no difference if you applied for a carte de séjour now or waited for the new system to be in operation. However, you will have to apply as a passport will not be enough after the end of March. Even if you have not been resident in France for as long as five years, you would still be able to obtain the new residency card. In the worst case, individuals will have one year from the withdrawal to obtain a carte de séjour or whatever the new card is. However if there is a deal, there will be a transition period of at least until summer of 2021. There were several questions from the audience regarding the application for the carte de séjour and the problems they had faced in trying to obtain one. Mr Doré said that there were two new members of staff at the Prefecture in Niort specifically to deal with the British applications. In the event of a 'no deal' scenario the intentions are the same, as France hopes to have a reciprocal agreement for French nationals in the UK. Healthcare This is something many of us have as we work and pay taxes here or because of the current reciprocal agreement between France and the UK. The UK has legislated that there should be a bilateral agreement between the two countries should there be a 'no deal' result. This was the situation before the EU so there is no reason why this should not continue. Working There should be no discrimination in the work place following Brexit. Work permits would be expected for people arriving after the withdrawal but not for those already working here. Pensions If there is deal then pensions will continue as they are today and will be uprated annually. In a 'no deal' situation the pensions would continue to be uprated until 2020 but would then require a bilateral agreement with the French after that. Passports Your current EU passport will be valid until the expiry date. However, you will be a British National and not an EU citizen following the withdrawal, regardless of your passport having the words 'European Union' on it. Any new British passport will have a different appearance and you will have to ensure that you have at least six months left to the expiry date when travelling. Driving Licences All expats resident in France should have a French driving licence and when the UK leaves the EU it will be necessary. The form you

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

by Anna Shaw

will require to complete is the Permis par échange.pdf which you can download at There is currently a long delay in France for obtaining a licence; however, the Ministry of the Interior have indicated that there will be a new system to deal with the backlog. If there is a deal, then there should not be a problem until 2020 but what will happen in a 'no deal' scenario was unclear at the time of the meeting. Education Currently if your child attends university in the UK the fees are the same as for UK residents. However, fees will probably go up after the withdrawal as this would be seen as discriminatory to British children coming to study from countries outside of the EU. I have subsequently contacted The British Embassy in Paris requesting updated information to publish but was directed to sign up to their newsletter 'Voisins Voices' which you can do on the British Embassy website: british-embassy-paris. The website also advises that you should do the following while negotiations continue: • • • •

make sure you are correctly registered as a resident in France read UK nationals in the EU: essential information attend one of our citizens outreach meetings follow the British Embassy on Facebook and Twitter

All of the above can be obtained through links on their website.

White Butterflies In Spring by Sue Burgess


here are many proverbs and sayings concerned with the springtime. Lots of these are about 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 equates to summer in England as flowers and trees are out earlier here. 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 sec (heavy rain during the autumn announces a dry spring). Printemps sec, été pluvieux (dry spring, wet summer). Printemps tardif, précoce hiver (late spring, early winter).

Other sayings refer to 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 proverbs – also 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). Beware les giboulées de mars (heavy sharp hail showers) though.

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: les fleurs du printemps................

spring flowers

l’anémone (f) .............................


le bluet......................................... cornflower le crocus...................................... crocus le jacinthe ................................... hyacinth l’iris (m)....................................... iris la tulipe ..................................... tulip la jonquille.................................. daffodil la perce-neige.............................. snowdrop la coucou..................................... cowslip la primevère jaune....................... primrose la primevère................................ primula The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 9

Vultures in France In the wild by Howard Needs ‘In the wild’ is a bit of a misnomer, since vultures are a protected species, they are ringed, and receive some food. There has been an intensive programme informing the public about the position of the birds in the ecosystem. Everything has its place – disrupt that and there will be problems. In the spring, my wife and I went down to the Basque country, partly to visit the towns of St-Jean-de-Luz and Hondarribia, just over the border in Spain, but also to see the surrounding countryside. This included a trip on the funicular railway ‘de la Rhune’ up to the viewpoint at France’s border with Spain. While we were standing at the station waiting for the train to arrive, we saw a most unusual sight – about 15 or 20 vultures flying as a flock, purposely, in one direction. Usually one sees them circling, waiting for signs of a cadaver, and sometimes a bird joins and sometimes one leaves. Those birds we saw at the station clearly had a destination with food in mind. Once up at the viewpoint, we were dismayed to see a hotel, a couple of restaurants, and tracks over the hilltop that, judging by their wear, had seen a heavy visitor load. No raw, naked nature here. We saw vultures in the distance, which prompted some trial photos that, once we had examined them at home, revealed the problems of photographing flying birds. A couple of years ago, at the Menigoute nature photo and video fair (le Festival international du film ornithologique), I bought a book containing beautiful photos and some text on vultures in France. My poor photo did not match up to these wonderful pictures, but I decided that I would try to improve matters. My photographic gear these days has been chosen for its weight; two or more kilos of full-frame camera and lens around my neck is not my idea of fun any more, and arthritis is also rearing its ugly head. So I now use a low-end APS-C DSLR system that, actually, with a bit of care, can produce excellent prints and weighs less than a kilo. However, there was the nagging problem of how to get good photos of big but moving targets at up to 200 or 300 metres distance. I set up a test installation in the garden and took many photos using various adjustments and combinations. All in all, I was very disappointed in the results and began to wonder if I had done the right thing in giving my full-frame system to my sonin-law. However, a bit later, in cooler weather, I had good results – and realized why: the summer heat haze close to the ground had partially defocussed the images. So once I had worked out a photographic strategy, we started to plan a holiday in the Provence, where we knew some of the Doué birds had been released. We found three places that had seen ‘large’ colonies establish themselves, and that had a culture for ‘vulture tourists’. The first was the Gorges de Verdon, in the Provence, the second was the Baronnies, farther to the northwest, and the third, nicely on the route home, was the Gorges du Tarn et de la Jonte.

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

The village name that we had found on the net was Rougon, and it was described as a release point and feeding place for a gradually establishing vulture colony. We took a hotel some kilometres to the west, at La Palud-sur-Verdon, and found that there was a tourist route around the edge of the plateau (la route des crêtes), with lookout points at regular intervals that apparently gave a good view of the birds. This proved to be true, and we spent a lot of our time up there, high above the gorge, waiting for the birds to appear. This they did at intervals that suited them, but at least they were there, sometimes at a distance, sometimes almost overhead, so close that you could hear the air rustling over their wings. I do not have the skill to describe them in motion, but I have to try. They are gliders. Once free of the ground, they seldom flap their wings to gain height; they swoop down from their ledges high on the cliff face and seek an updraught on one side of the valley or the other. Once they have found one, they carefully stay within it, manoeuvring using their wing tips and, I suspect, tails. A gradual climb of some minutes brings them to the clifftop, where they have room to manoeuvre and gain height more rapidly, climbing to join others patiently circling at an altitude of some hundreds of metres. They circle and circle. Pairs will split away and return, and sometimes one bird will descend slowly into the gorge, but the others will not follow until there is an indication of a cadaver. Sometimes this indication can come in the form of crows, who, flying at a lower altitude, may see and then descend to a carcass. A vulture that sees crows on the ground will descend rapidly, and the others will follow. Sometimes a keen-eyed vulture will see something worth investigating itself and drop similarly, and before you know it, 20 or 30 vultures are having their lunch and unknowingly cleaning up the landscape and reducing pollution of water sources. I cannot help thinking that they experience pleasure in their free circling in the skies or their swooping in the gorge, with wings nearly brushing the sides. No frantic wing flapping, just a curl of a wingtip here and a shift of weight there. And they manoeuvre around obstacles as if they were of no concern. This lack of worry is very apparent in the zoo setting, where they act as if you do not exist – you are not part of their world. The only time that you see serious activity, apart from when they are on the ground feeding, is when they are landing at their nest or congregating grounds, usually an inaccessible ledge. Here, a bird will glide in at a relatively high speed and rate of descent, with an aiming point just under the ledge. At the last moment, the bird will start to climb and lose speed. Then it curls its wings round, together with its tail, to act as air brakes, extends its legs and claws forward, and, usually, lands in a neat and tidy fashion, with no panic. However, older birds have been known to damage themselves during landing, and it is not unheard of for young ones on their first flights, to crash land and accidentally kill themselves. Rougon was a disappointment initially, insofar that, while we found a delightful hill village and a restaurant providing a good salad at midday, there were no vultures in sight, nor holding cages or a release point. Enquiry of a local inhabitant brought us a wave of an arm pointing to a track, which, having put our walking shoes on, we took. After a couple of kilometres, under an increasingly threatening sky, we came across a substantial fence and a notice forbidding entry because it was a feeding area for vultures. Later, at home, we found that it was a site run by the Ligue pour la Protection des Oiseaux, where they put out supplementary food for the local colony and want the birds to be able to feed in peace – and that it was, in fact, the release point that we had hoped to find in Rougon. Photographs of Griffon Vultures, taken in the Gorges du Verdon in the Provence



by Paul Woods

t’s time for the 13 Salon du Vin (wine fair) to be held at the exhibition centre in Niort organised by the Lions Club Val de Sèvre. This year there will be over 100 exhibitors - wine producers, champagne producers, various food stands and chocolaterie. Why not come and join us for this fun and interesting event? You can taste and buy a large variety of wine and food products, 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 organisation. Lions members help with whatever is needed in their local community and contribute to volunteer efforts around the world.

This show, by its reputation, has become renowned regionally because we host national exhibitors from all over France.

The Val de Sèvre Lions Club meets on the 3rd Friday of each month in Niort. At present there are 20 members who all have great fun organising the wine fair and other events throughout the year; wives and partners are also involved as much as they want to be. Visit the Lions Club Stand at the Salon du Vin for more information. If you are looking for community involvement new members are very welcome.


Entry is 3€ (free entry ticket for two below) including a tasting glass (to take home as a souvenir) and which you can use for it’s true purpose whilst enjoying your visit. Each year the proceeds are donated to various charities, this year the chosen charities are L’AJA 79 and Enfants et Sante. This year the Lions Club Val de Sèvre will be 46 years old. It was created in 1973 by a group of friends, many of these are still members today. The organisation operates 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.

We hope to see you all at our 13th Salon du Vin, to enjoy great wines and produce. Why not make a day of it and take lunch in the onsite restaurant.

We Serve

For more information go to: Or contact Paul Woods on tel: 06 09 68 02 50

23 & 24 2019


Au profit de L’AJA 79 et ENFANTS ET SANTÉ

EME 3 1



Salon du Vin, de la Gastronomie et du Chocolat ENTRÉE



LE DÔME - CENTRE DE RENCONTRE Samedi 23 et Dimanche 24 mars de 10h à 19h


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 11


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

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


Please visit the branch website:

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

French Lessons for English Speakers

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


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

Bridge Players Wanted

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

Alone in France?

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

Chorale Mélusine, Parthenay

French 4-part choir established over 30 years (with 2 English members) always looking for “new blood”! Excellent Musical Director. Come to a rehearsal and see for yourselves. Contact Keith for more info 05 49 69 14 89 CLE (Charente Limousine Exchange) is a non-profit organisation for exchange of news, views and information. We work to protect member’s best interests, run social activities, events and clubs, helping members to make new ex-patriate and French friends. John Welch 05 49 87 90 33 Royal Air Forces Association Sud-Ouest France Le Perail, 17250 BEURLAY, France Tel: 0033 (0)5 46 95 38 89 Mobile: 0033 (0)6 89 90 55 82 Email:

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

Les Amis Solitaires

We are a group of people living alone in France. We meet up for coffee mornings from 11am, every 2nd & 4th Thursday at The Lemon Tree in Sauzé Vaussais. More details from Gwen on 05 49 07 58 46 or email:

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

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

CSDS LATEST NEWS by June Searchfield - President CSDS


oday marks a change for the Searchfields. Yesterday, February 14th we held the Annual General Meeting at La Ligue offices in Niort. After 14 years of volunteering and supporting people affected by cancer and nine years as president of the association, it is time to move on. I have resigned as president and Martin has also resigned as secretary. We will no longer be part of the group. Times change, I’ve fulfilled my aims and objectives, the main one being recognized as a bona fide association and accepted into the hospitals to offer assistance and support to any English speaking patients. As many of you are aware Martin was one of those needing support after his diagnosis last year. Shock, despair, fear of the unknown, ‘what happens next?’ all normal emotions and questions experienced by a person affected by cancer. Thankfully our knowledge got us through and Martin is doing very well with regular check-ups for the foreseeable future. I would like to say a massive thank you to all our fundraisers who have attended our events and gave their time generously, too numerous to mention, but you know who you are. Finally, a totally new bureau has been elected and information on that will no doubt be furnished in the near future. Onwards and upwards, but no longer as President. Thank you.

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

by Eric Edwards




ith the 100 anniversary of The Armistice now behind us, 2018 was a year filled with special events in remembrance of the sacrifices made by all the countries of Europe and of those colonies affiliated to us. It was heartening to see that Germany was represented at the highest levels at ceremonies throughout Europe giving a feeling of reconciliation and unity. th

The Royal British Legion here in the Poitou-Charentes continued its work and had the most successful year in terms of fundraising since our inauguration in 2007, when we raised 620,90€. Thanks to the continued support of the public in the region, we raised an unprecedented 18 431,29€ in 2018 bringing our total over the years to 115 976,35€. On behalf of all the people for whom we care, we would like to thank you for your cooperation and generosity. THERE FOLLOWS A DIFFERENT TYPE OF

APPEAL The activities of the RBL require administration at grass roots level and committees of volunteers from within the membership achieve this function worldwide. Under the rules of the RBL we have to have a certain number of committee members in designated positions. At our forthcoming AGM in October this year, the position of chairperson will fall vacant and at present there is nobody within the membership of the branch who feels they have the ability to fill it. We require volunteers URGENTLY to join the branch with a view to taking committee positions, in particular the chair in October of this year. Any volunteers will need firstly to become members of RBL; prior membership of the British Armed Forces is NOT a prerequisite. Volunteers should have communication skills with a basic working knowledge of word processing and email. The commitment is one committee meeting on the first Monday of the month at Linazay, and usually five branch meetings each year at various lunch venues. Attendance at ceremonial events is desirable but not compulsory. Committee positions are unpaid but travel expenses to all official meetings are available. Any volunteers for committee will, after joining RBL, be encouraged to attend committee meetings to shadow any position for which they wish to be considered. For more information, a list of all planned branch meetings and ceremonial events is published on our website along with much more information about the branch, its activities and the committee positions.


The Reaction Theatre script reading group, which is led by Tony Murdoch is responsible for choosing scripts for future performances. After the success of the pantomime Carry On Cinderella! they have recommended that this spring the theatre group and members of the Keynotes Choir present a Musical Spectacular of songs from popular musicals, which will be directed by Linda and Aidan Fairlie. Many of you will recognise most of the songs which are from some of the world’s best known musicals such as Les Misérables, West Side Story, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof, Joseph and Guys and Dolls. For a change these shows will be held at local restaurants in a nightclub setting. Performances will be in DeuxSèvres and the Vendée. Although still in the planning stages, I can tell you that the performances will be in early May possibly the 1st - 3rd at different venues. Full details in the April issue of ‘The DSM’.


The Keynotes Choir are going to be very busy this year. In addition to performing the Musical Spectacular, on the 10th May we will be joining the Choraline Choir at the beautiful Luçon Cathedral. We will be performing as separate choirs but coming together to sing two selections. This starts at 9pm. After the success of the 2018 performances we have been invited to return to the Île d’Oleron for the music festival, performing on the 21st - 23rd of June. Also performing again on the île will be the Reaction Theatre Out of Kilters Scottish Dancers. If you are interested in joining any of the Reaction Theatre groups then come along and try us out:• • •

Scottish Dancing at Les Café des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux. 7pm - 9pm Thursday evenings Art Group at Secondigny (next to the petrol station), 10am - 12 noon Friday mornings Keynotes Choir Café des Belles Fleurs, 2pm - 5pm Friday afternoons

Details of these groups and Reaction Theatre can be seen on: or you can email: johnblair@

Best wishes, John

If you wish to be considered for any of the positions on committee, please contact the Chairman via the links on our website. If you wish to become a member, application forms can be downloaded from our website or our Membership Secretary is contactable through the same site.

The cast of Carry On Cinderella! performed last November by Reaction Theatre.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 13

Hobbies Making your Book a ‘Good Read’

by Alison Morton


hoosing and enjoying a book is very personal and each reader’s view is subjective. This is why reviews of any one book can vary so much. But what’s one person’s good read may not be another’s. However terrific your own book is, it’s a sad but unwavering truth it won’t appeal to everybody. But if you write fiction, it’s very likely you’ve written a book similar to those you like reading yourself. This gives you a valuable insight about what your potential readers are looking for. Let me illustrate this with my own reading. I read across many genres: thrillers, action adventure, sagas, literary, historical, romantic, contemporary, science-fiction and alternative history, so my example below doesn’t come from a narrow field! Things that make a good read for me: • • • • •

• •

A well-paced story, with a clever plot so I’m intrigued about what happens next. A clean and clear style that flows easily. A plausible (but not necessarily real) world, correct for its (supposed) time and (supposed) geographical location where the characters talk and dress appropriately. A story relevant to the period or setting, not a 21st century dilemma plonked into the Tudor court. Enough detail to trigger my imagination, one or two small things to set the scene but NOT a blow-by-blow description of every brick in every house in every town. So no info-dump, just integrated detail dripped in about the world I’m being drawn into. Lots of lively dialogue that carries the story along. Where it shows me what the characters do and how they react rather than just tell me. I don’t mind whether characters are comfortable or not with their lives as long as they have made some change or developed in some way by the end. Flaws, temper, uncertainties and vulnerabilities are all fine, but please, not TSTL (too stupid to live) or I’ll chuck the book in the bin. Some characters who do the right thing for the right reasons, even if it’s against ‘the rules’. But they can definitely be a bit naughty and do some morally dubious things as long as they get to the honourable goal. Characters I can identify with, so I can find some common attitudes, experiences and feelings. They’re not me and I’m not them, but I want to connect. A really good sign is when you keep thinking about them once you’ve finished the book and want to know what happens next. Not necessarily a happy ending, but a satisfactory resolution to the story.

Next steps • Draw up your own list of ten strong attributes that you like in a book. • Have a look at your bookshelves and note down what genre they belong to and what you liked or disliked about them. • Think about the book you are working on. Does it contain/ reflect these attributes? • What other things do you think a reader would be looking for in the type of book you’re writing? It’s a worthwhile exercise switching yourself into the shoes of the reader of your book to get a better all-round view of your own work.

Happy writing!

Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available on Amazon and in paper format at events. 14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to Vronni Ward and Kerry Hardy for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

WINTER IN MADRID by C. J. Sansom The blurb on the book said ‘if you like Sebastian Faulks then you will like this book’ and they were right. This is a spy novel which is heartbreakingly romantic and set against the backdrop of the Spanish Civil War and its aftermath. Being a total ignoramus about all things to do with the Spanish War, this novel gave me enough knowledge of what went on without bogging me down in loads of history. It’s a surprisingly easy read. The book reminded me of Picasso’s Guernica (which my French art group based in Secondigny painted last year!) the senselessness of slaughter, the sacrifice of humanity for political ends. Sansom sets the story in 1940s Madrid, a period in which Spain was going through civil war and hesitating whether to enter WWII. The Spanish people found themselves in the crossfire between the fascists (Franco) and the communists (Stalin). The characters include an unassuming spy Harry Brett, shady businessman Sandy Forsyth and Bernie Piper (who became a communist and was thought to have been killed years before fighting the fascists), the Red Cross nurse Barbara (who was once Bernie’s lover and now Sandy’s girlfriend) and Harry’s Spanish lover, Sofia. Their lives intertwine and lead inexorably to the novel’s dramatic and breathtaking climax. If you love history, romance and jolly good writing, then this is a MUST read book. I am going to pass my copy onto my son, Zach, as he will love it just as much as I did. by Vronni Ward

INTO THE WATER by Paula Hawkins After her sister plunges to her death at a local suicide jumping spot, Jules returns to the family home to care for her unruly teenage niece as well as confronting her past. Knowing that her sister would never have jumped, she starts to unearth the dark secrets of the small town. Written by the same author as the number one bestseller The Girl On A Train, each chapter is written from the perspective of a different character, so in effect there are eleven narrators. This and the fact that there are five women who have ‘jumped’ at some point in history, made it initially confusing and I had to keep referring to the list of characters at the front. But it was worth persevering, as the dark secrets start rising to the surface and the reasons behind the women’s deaths unravel. All is not as it seems as the plot twists and turns and the various characters are drawn into the chain of events which build into the denouement of the story. by Kerry Hardy


by James Luxford

Queens, thieves and movie stars make up the selection for this month’s cinematic offerings. But which will be worth your time?

The Legend of the Niort Dragon Our front cover this month is of the Niort Dragon. If, like me, you don't know the legend, here it is.


n Niort, legend tells of the fight between a winged dragon and a soldier. It would have taken place near the Porte Saint-Jean (at that time, the Marais still extended to the village of Ribray).

MARY, QUEEN OF SCOTS (Out Now) Margot Robbie plays Elizabeth I in the story of Mary Queen of Scots (Saoirse Ronan), the Scottish Queen who threatens the famous monarch’s throne. What could have been an interesting psychological battle becomes quite a dull, exposition-heavy slog with a lot of scenery chewing but very little action. The focus is heavily on Ronan, meaning Robbie feels a bit wasted in a potentially challenging role. Despite spectacular sets and detailed costumes, the film is a surprisingly dull take on a fascinating chapter of British history.

A monster, like a huge winged snake, had come to take refuge in a cave. He ate everyone who passed by, including the gangs of armed men who had come to fight him.

STAN AND OLLIE (6th March) The latter years of Laurel and Hardy are brought to life in this touching drama, with Steve Coogan and John C. Reilly playing the comedy legends struggling to stick together on an infamous tour of England. It’s hard to imagine who this film is for, given most viewers wouldn’t remember the duo at their 1930-40’s height. Nevertheless, as an examination of faded fame it is a warmly sentimental, brilliantly acted love letter to the black and white movie stars. Comedy star Coogan delivers a terrific, conflicted performance as Stan Laurel, while John C. Reilly makes a startling visual transformation, and embodies the late Oliver Hardy. It’s a touch predictable in parts but overall an accomplished Hollywood fable.

The monster's body was placed on a cart and walked around the city. To the soldier, a tomb was erected in the cemetery of the General Hospital.


Q6. Mount Rushmore Q7. temerity Q8. 305 Q9. 260 Q10. a) Return Ticket b) Right Under Your Nose

Toughie Crossword: Theme - Sweets/puddings. Across: 1. butterscotch 7. abusers 9. sweet 10. kids 11. forehead 12. fields 14. settle 17. rolypoly 19. lift 22. sinus 23. cobbler 24. Montparnasse Down: 1, 12. black forest 2. trundle 3. eves 4. obscene 5. crepe 6. stodge 8. show 12. see 1 down 13. deposit 15. trifles 16. flic 18. lingo 20. torte 21. Oban Easy Crossword: Across: 1. airbag 4. blanch 8. annoy 9. edition 10. pride 11. sarcasm 12. truncheon 15. monsoon 16. skype 17. ampules 18. vivid 19. insert 20. peeled Down: 2. ignore 3. blood presure 5. anticlockwise 6. choose 7. seasickness 13. common 14. sprite

Take a Break - SOLUTION

Release dates are nationwide in France.

CLOCKS GO FORWARD AT 2AM ON SUNDAY 31st MARCH A keyboard. A wedding ring Dates You can turn the year upside down and it will still read the same. A dentist

KING OF THIEVES (27th March) Proof that a great cast doesn’t guarantee you a great film, King of Thieves brings together Michael Caine, Ray Winstone, Michael Gambon and Charlie Cox to tell the story of the infamous Hatton Garden safe robbery in London, in 2015. Considering the cast, which also includes Jim Broadbent and Tom Courtenay, this is a disappointingly cliché ridden heist film that never takes full advantage of the stars’ charisma.

The soldier thought the game won and took off his mask. But, the animal, in a supreme effort, bit his enemy in the face, and the soldier instantly died at the same time as the dragon.

Q1. Q2. Q3. Q4. Q5.

BOY ERASED (27th March) Lucas Hedges plays a young man from a religious Arkansas family who is outed as gay, and sent to a controversial conversion therapy programme. Directed by Joel Edgerton (who also stars as the programme’s lead counsellor), it’s an emotionally charged drama that looks at the process of these programmes, and the conflict between faith and family. The film’s decision to look at every character’s point of view dilutes the tension somewhat, but while it is an average drama, the message behind Boy Erased is very important.

A soldier named Allonneau, condemned to death for desertion, solicited his pardon by offering to kill the monster. Body and face covered with steel armour and with a spear and dagger he advanced to the monster's lair. He managed to plunge his knife into the dragon's throat. The beast vomited streams of blood and writhed about twisting its long tail.


look for screenings in ‘VO’ or ‘VOST’ Bressuire Le Fauteuil Rouge: CineChef, Chef-Boutonne: email: Salle Belle Epine, La Châtaigneraie: L’échiquier at Pouzauges: Melle cinema: Niort CGR cinema: Niort Moulin du Roc: Parthenay Cinema: and find others at The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 15

Ma ke A Simple Cu rta in!

by Nicola Chadwick


have had three requests this month for a guide to making a pair of ‘French Style’ curtains, the ones you can put up over an open cupboard door, simple, plain and typically French! You will need: • To measure the space you want to cover, that is the width and the depth (drop). • To select a fabric. I suggest you need at least twice the width of the space you need to cover to allow the fabric to gather. To the depth or drop, you will need to add about 7.5 to 15cm to allow for hems, cutting out and any pattern matching. For this project I am going to make a curtain to cover my sewing bench. The finished drop I need will be 45cm. • Some curtain tape (the narrow 3cm wide type is perfect), or if you can’t find any, you can always use the fabric itself to form a channel and thread some curtain wire through.

Step 5 - Now for the hem. Turn up and press the hem in place, again the width is up to you. Stitch the hem close to the fold edge.

ic is required - double Step 1 - To calculate how much fabr for a nice amount of the width measurement (this will allow 2.5cm to allow turnover gather). For the drop you need to add her 5cm for a double furt a and for the curtain tape at the top, wider if you wish hem the e mak can You om. hem at the bott g well. This is the han to ain curt the s as a nice heavy hem allow ! important part so measure carefully Step 2 - Take the fabric to the ironing board and press the side hems of the curtain inwards twice to the wrong side of the fabric, making a double hem, the width is up to you, as long as the hem is equal all the way down. I use 1.5cm turns.

Step 3 - Using a sewing machine, with matching thread, stitch as close to the fold of the hem as you can. Do this for both vertical sides of the fabric piece.

Step 4 - Now press the top of the curtain over by 1.5cm to the wrong side of the fabric. If you don’t have curtain tape you can press the top hem over twice and form a channel to pass your curtain wire through. If using curtain tape stitch it onto the wrong side of the fabric, covering the raw edge of the fold. Stitch again at edge of the tape. Remember to back tack at thethe lower beginning and end of your stitching.

16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

important points to keep It’s as easy as that! There are a fewa print. If you have a print with ains curt ing mak n in mind whe g in a certain direction e.g. on your fabric that needs to han nge if the flower were to with a flower, it would look very stra match any prints across the hang upside down. Try your best to may need to buy more fabric you curtains if you are making a pair, ce of material. if you have a large repeat on your choi I had a beautiful picture of my bread basket project from Beryl. I would love to see more pictures from those have completed one of my projects and if you haveof you that any ideas for future projects then just get in touch via my blog page at Nicola

Remembering the past by Vanda Lawrence


eing the genealogist of the family I am given many documents and photographs to record and store safely for the next generations of our family.

Birth/marriage/death certificates are easy because they already show the important details such as names, dates, places etc., but photographs are more difficult because it’s harder to remember details, and as we lose family members we lose the chance to ask for their help. My husband and I have lots of photos from our parents and their families which are from old-style cameras. The film had to be taken to the chemist to be developed and quite often they were very poor quality ‘shots’, but in those days that was all we had.

Our son and daughter-in-law accidentally came up with what turned out to be a brilliant idea. When our grandchildren started school and had their first school photo it was stuck up on the cupboard door in the kitchen, and each successive year the school photo was added. Even when they moved house, the photos were taken down and put up again on the new kitchen cupboard door so that photos could be added each year. Our grand-daughter has had her last school photo taken and our grandson has only a couple more to go so we asked for a photo of each of the photo-montages. Isn’t it lovely to be able to see how the children have grown and matured over the years? One day, someone will thank us for taking the time and trouble. Even if you aren’t ‘doing’ your family tree, one day someone in your family might and your efforts will certainly make life easier for them.

I have been able to put names, dates and places on most of these old photos but now need to do the same for modern snaps which have been downloaded directly onto the computer – a mammoth task! I think I prefer the old way. These days we take photos and ‘selfies’ at the drop of a hat. In some ways, having so many makes them worthless and in order to look at them, or show them to someone, we have to get the phone or iPad out, keep flicking the screen to find them and just glimpse them in passing. To my mind it’s better to have a handful of real photos to pass around, but printing them off at home just doesn’t seem the same somehow. With photos you’ve also got the possibility of comparing people/places over several years too, which is not practical with our devices. Once all the photos are named and filed online, then it’s necessary to download them on to a ‘dongle’ (or whatever they call it) in case the computer blows up, which, knowing my luck, it probably will.

Creature Corner This month’s creature:

The Hare (Le Lièvre)

by Steve Shaw


here are 32 species of hare found all over the world, except Antarctica. A male is called a jack, a female a jill, a group a drove and a hare less than one year old is called a leveret. They can live for as long as twelve years. Description: Hares are larger than rabbits, have longer ears and taller hind legs. Coat color can be brown, grey, tan, white and black. Some, such as the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus) and southern populations of the Arctic hare (Lepus arcticus) change color with the seasons. Hares upper lips are split, concealing a pair of long, front incisors that never stop growing. They must keep their teeth ground down by constant gnawing and chewing. Behaviour: Rabbits make their homes in burrows underground, while hares make nests above ground. They use shallow resting hollows in fields or long grass called forms. To avoid detection they move close to the ground and flatten their ears on their backs. They are quite solitary whereas rabbits are social animals. These nocturnal creatures can run at speeds up to 72kph, leap more than three metres and are also excellent swimmers.

Normally shy animals, hares change their behaviour in spring, they chase one another around; this appears to be competition between males to attain dominance (and therefore more access to breeding females). During this spring frenzy, hares can be seen ‘boxing’. This is not competition between males, but a female hitting a male, either to show she is not yet ready to mate or as a test of his determination. After a while she will stop and allow the male to be her mate. Interesting facts to drop at a dinner party • They have nearly 360° panoramic vision, allowing them to detect predators from all directions and only have a small blind spot in front of their nose. • Hares have 48 chromosomes while rabbits have 44. • In Europe, the hare has been a symbol of sex and fertility since at least Ancient Greece. • The March Hare is one of the few characters in both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking Glass. • Hartley Hare was a character in the much loved ATV programme Pipkins (1973-1982). The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 17

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Everyday Yoga for Everyone

by Rebecca Novick

What kind of yoga is right for you?


am often asked what kind of yoga I teach. My answer is Hatha Yoga with an Iyengar influence. But what does that mean? The word ‘yoga’ is often translated simply as ‘union’, referring to the union of body and mind. Hatha in its simplest definition means ‘force’ since it is involved in breaking habits of the body through a certain level of exertion but the word also refers to the power behind the force itself. Hatha is the general system of yoga poses (asanas) and breathing techniques (pranayama) from which all modern yoga schools stem, and is made up of word roots reflecting the union of opposites. Ha – signifies the sun, the right side of the body, the masculine principle and energy. Tha – signifies the moon, the left side of the body, the feminine principle and relaxation. Hatha yoga is included within the eight branches of Ashtanga Yoga, an ancient system of practices that was compiled and elucidated by the Indian sage, Patanjali, in the Yoga Sutras in the early 5th century CE. All forms of yoga today originated as part of this comprehensive system that includes ethical discipline, somatic purification practices, textual study and meditation. Over the centuries, the postural and breathing techniques of Hatha Yoga began to gain popularity among the laity outside of the ashrams, and eventually it emerged as its own discipline. Even today, in India, when someone says they are doing yoga this is generally what they mean. It wasn’t until the 20th century, that yoga began to sub-divide into the different schools that we see today. Swami Sivananda (1887-1963) and Krishnamacharya (1888-1989) both contributed enormously to reviving interest in yoga in India that had waned after a peak in the middle ages. Swami Satyananda (1923-2009) founded the Bihar School of

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

We are a netball team in Vasles (79340). We meet every Monday 6-7pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles for training with our qualified English coach. It’s fun and a great way to keep fit, so come along or contact: Come and have fun whilst exercising body and mind. Line Dancing at our warm and friendly club. Many styles of dance and music - Country, Celtic, Line etc. All levels welcome. English and bilingual instructors. Ring Mark & Anita Wilson 05 49 95 28 73 / 06 86 98 94 63

Yoga, the lineage in which my own teacher, Sri Surinder Singh, was trained. Around the same time, K. Pattabhi Jois developed a modern version of classical yoga, called Ashtanga Vinyasa Yoga. But it was B.K.S. Iyengar who perhaps had the greatest influence in bringing yoga to the West. He founded his own yoga school in the 1950s, emphasizing precision alignment and the use of props such as blocks, blankets and belts. One of his most famous students was Yehudi Menuhin who was so convinced that yoga improved his musical abilities that he liked to refer to B.K.S. Iyengar as “my favourite violin teacher”. Today, there are numerous other yoga schools, and some are controversial, so it’s good to do some research beforehand. There is Bikram Yoga (sometimes called ‘hot yoga’ because it’s performed in a room at temperatures up to 40°C), Anusara School of Hatha Yoga, Integral Yoga, even Kundalini Yoga that claims to awaken the dormant energies at the base of the spine. And with the West’s love of endless categorizations, more yoga schools seem to be popping up all the time. Lately, I have been incorporating more Somatic Yoga into my classes (see ‘The DSM’s September issue) with gentle flow through movements that work to reprogram muscle memory. What type of yoga you end up doing will be based on a number of factors, including accessibility and your own personal motivations. The best way is always to get a recommendation from someone you know and trust and don’t be afraid to try out different classes. There are a number of yoga teachers in the Deux-Sèvres so you might find one down the road! And it’s worth remembering that not all types of yoga will suit everyone. Find the style that works for your own body and mind. If you feel happy when you leave the class, that’s the best indicator!

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

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

Across: 1. Safety device in a car (6) 4. Parboil vegetables before freezing them (6) 8. Irritate (5) 9. An issue of a newspaper (7) 10. A feeling of self respect and personal worth (5) 11. Witty language used to convey insults or scorn (7) 12. A short stout club used by police constables (9) 15. Rainy season in southern Asia (7) 16. Software allowing voice and video calls over the internet (5) 17. Small bottles that contain drugs for infection (7) 18. Clearly perceptible, brightly coloured (5) 19. Put or introduce into something (6) 20. Removed the skin from (6)

Down: 2. Give little or no attention to (6) 3. Medically, for an adult, 120/80 is considered normal for this test (5-8) 5. The opposite direction to the rotation of the hands of a watch (13) 6. Pick out (6) 7. Medical condition experienced while travelling on water (11) 13. Not rare (6) 14. A small being, human in form, playful and having magical powers (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

Brain Gym Q1. What has keys but no locks, space but no room, you can enter but you can’t exit? Q2. What connects two people, but touches only one? Q3. A one-seeded fruit I may be, but all calendars are full of me. What am I? Q4. What happened in 1961 and will not happen again until 6009? Q5. I build bridges of silver and crowns of gold. Who am I? Q6. What rock group has four men that don’t sing? Q7. Word scramble eremityt (recklessness)

Down 1, 12. Confused folk in best car scramble coming out of the woods in Germany to get 9 across? (5, 6) 2. Advance heavily; firstly dollars, latterly Euros, on turn over? (7) 3. One falling from overhang, into 9 across? (4) 4. Rabelaisian getting one over graduate on drugs? (7) 5. About a lord of the realm in a pickle over 9 across? (5) 6. 9 across, a thick one; patsy having core OD replacement? (6) 8. Getting a performance out of a Spanish owl? (4) 12. See 1 down. 13. Something to put down if in Paris in a bus station? (7) 15. Taking time over raids for less important things, like 9 across? (7) 16. French copper cut short release of bent finger? (4) 18. Common language employed by Berlin government? (5) 20. This 9 across is talked about, but is it learnt? (5) 21. Scottish town put prohibition on love! (4)

Q8. Q9.

Mental maths 8 × 17 + 169= Mental maths 142 + 43=


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





The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 19

Answers on P.15 and our website:

Across 1. Ram taking strong drink, for 9 across? (12) 7. Harmful people loading article on public transport, hesitating to add sulphur. (7) 9. Directions giving phone network time to follow main course. (5) 10. A way to prove oneself within the boundaries of knickers jokes. (4) 11. Front part of passing craze getting round what’s dug up for higher education. (8) 12. Old funny man catching something, in the toilet perhaps? (6) 14. In North/ South exchanges, annoy at first only to agree in the end? (6) 17. Childish gymnastic movement for 9 across? (8) 19. Encourage front runners of league in football tournament. With thanks to M.Morris (4) 22. Inflammation without it, is just an air-filled space. (5) 23. Bodger? Unusual role of BBC organisation for 9 across. (7) 24. Redistribution means no parts; could be terminal in France? (12)

Home & Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


he other day, I was trying to remember the words to the proverbs we learned about the weather/gardening at primary school, and I had to do a little ‘reminder’ research on the web, but was reassured that I hadn’t forgotten all of them! Certainly, in our area ‘February fill dyke’ was certainly true. The large reservoir at the bottom of the steep hill near where we live, which was almost bone dry at the end of the summer, is now filled to overflowing. The diggers are out widening the ditches and clearing all the vegetation which has tumbled into them after the autumn storms. We live on the side of a hill, so have a sloping garden, and living next door to a farm, there are tractors and milk tankers passing by the house every day. This results in surface damage to the fairly narrow road alongside the house. Every time it rains, we have water pouring down the road and any debris ends up underneath our car. There was a burst water main in the road a couple of weeks ago and after the repairs had been carried out (using copious amounts of sand) it has been a veritable mud bath outside the house. So instead of ‘fill dyke’ I’ve had my ‘fill’ of mud and sand!

Of the proverbs concerning March the one I remember best is, ‘If March comes in like a lion, it goes out like a lamb’. We’ve had our fair share of storms already, with damage to television aerials and the like, so perhaps by the end of the month it will be wonderfully calm and a bit drier! Some of the proverbs, didn’t just mention the weather, but were reminders about crop planting, here’s one or two: ‘Upon St. Davids’ Day (March 1st) put oats and barley in the clay’, ‘In March sow peas, good or bad’ and ‘So many mists in March, so many frosts in May’ - better keep the fleece handy!

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The hellebores are still putting on a beautiful show, the white flowers light up all the corners and edges of the garden and solitary bees can collect the nectar so easily from their open, flat flowers. There are lots of buds on the narcissi and flowers on the daffodils; the foliage of the alliums is very evident and all the clematis have fresh new fat leaf buds. The viburnum is covered in pinky white blossom, I’m trying to prune the shrub into an oval shape, but it has its own ideas! Violas make a colourful show and I have a couple of troughs brimming with their small, dainty flowers. They can withstand any amount of frost and will bloom on and on as long as they are deadheaded regularly. I actually prefer them to their larger cousins the pansies, although they too provide welcome colour in the garden. The hedychiums (ginger lilies) are still under cover with the lemon trees, and I’ll leave them safely like that until well into April, when frost is less likely. Primulas are budding, a real sign of Spring. They are so easy to grow and readily self-seed. I have a small narrow ‘bed’ at the edge of a path and I poked some seedlings into the small amount of earth there and they have come on very well. The supermarkets and garden centres are still full of seed potatoes and I think I’ll chit some and sow them into potato bags. They are like manmade fabric pots that can fold up when not in use and will take three or four seed potatoes; the bags have handles, so are easy to move around. It’s not possible to dig very much with the soil being so waterlogged, but weeding is a bit easier and at least it’s time spent outside. There are lots of ideas buzzing around my head at the moment about what plants to move and where to move them to. I want to create a shade garden for the hostas and other shade lovers, and prepare the new flower bed and decide what to plant in it. Something needs to be done to ‘the ruin’ to make it a useful part of the garden. I shall be taking more cuttings, something I really enjoy and so easy to do - more plants for free! The list of things to do is endless, so I’d better get started.

Now is the time to: • • •

Mulch flower beds with bark, well rotted manure or garden compost to improve soil fertility and water retention capacity. Prune last seasons growth of hydrangeas to the lowest pair of strong buds. Move evergreen shrubs, if the soil is not waterlogged. Evergreen hedging can be planted now.

• • • • • • • • • • • •

• • • • • • •

• •

Prune well established blueberry bushes by a third to promote the growth of new fruiting wood. Sow seeds of tomatoes, chillies, aubergines and peppers. Keep on a sunny window sill as they need about 20°C to germinate. Protect any young seedlings from cold at night by placing in a cloche or under fleece. Cut back old foliage of herbaceous perennials and divide if necessary and if you want to increase your stock. As soon as the soil reaches temperatures of 5°C some vegetables can be sown directly outdoors. These include broad beans, carrots, lettuce, parsnips and peas. Finish pruning shrub roses, mulching them and feeding them afterwards. Plant bare root varieties, sprinkling the roots with mycorrhizal powder to help them establish. If dry, the grass can be cut, and damaged or dead parts of the lawn can be removed and replanted with new turf or the area reseeded. Shallots and onion sets can be planted outside now. Leave the top of each bulb just showing above the earth. Cut down the remains of perennial grasses to allow new growth to push through. Remove the top layer of compost from plants permanently kept in pots, and replace with new, fresh compost. Feed well. Divide summer flowering perennials such as hostas, hemerocallis, perovskia and penstemons. Canna rhizomes can be started in pots of potting or multipurpose compost, leaving any new shoots exposed. Water sparingly. Dahlias can also be prompted into growth in the same way. Check the tubers for rot or mould and discard if affected. Weed around the base of trees and remove any suckers from trunks. Apply a balanced fertilizer such as blood, fish and bone. Prune the coloured stems of cornus by a third to encourage new growth. Sow hardy annuals in containers or beds; these can include, cornflowers, poppies, marigolds and corncockle. Deadhead winter pansies and violas to keep displays flowering with fresh blooms. Plant troughs and containers with primroses for extra colour. If cuttings have rooted strongly, pot them up to keep them growing well. Keep an eye open for vine weevils. They are small insects that have a blackish, brownish body, and a long snout. They leave small semi-circular notches on leaf edges. Their larvae live in the soil and feed on the plant roots. They are white, comma shaped and have a brown head. There are biological controls available and if adults are spotted, they need squashing! Clear beds of the remains of winter vegetables, composting them if disease free. If the weather is mild, asparagus can be planted now. Make

• • • • •

• • •

ridges in the vegetable bed and spread the asparagus crown on top of it. Lightly covering with soil. Service mowers and sharpen secateurs. Make sure that paths and decking are moss free to avoid any danger of slipping. Spike compacted or waterlogged areas of lawn, using a garden fork. Check the tyre on the wheelbarrow in case it has a puncture or is flat. Cut back late flowering clematis. These are the plants that flower from mid-summer to late autumn. The flower buds are produced on this year’s growth, so all the old tangled shoots can be pruned away, apart from one or two buds at the base of the plant. Make sure the base is covered with a piece of a flower pot or something similar, as clematis like their ‘heads in the sun and their feet in the shade’. Cover any spare ground with fleece to warm the soil ready for future planting. Give ericaceous plants such as camellias, heathers, azaleas and rhododendrons an acidic feed to boost their flowering. Plant lilies in containers, mixing the compost with fine grit to improve drainage.

Whatever you do, enjoy your garden, wrap up warm, take a good deep breath and make time to survey all that you’ve done or plan to do in the future, cuppa in hand of course!


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 21

79380 La Forêt-sur-Sèvre

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

A Blooming Business


ichael and Zoë Poole have been in their new home at SaintPierre-du-Chemin, near La Châtaigneraie for three weeks. Aside from renovation of the house and running their small eBay business, they would like to offer their knowledge and experience in caring for your garden and have set up their new business Pinnacle Garden Care. Michael has been in the golf course maintenance and landscaping industry for most of his working life, including 18 years as Course Manager at a prestigious club in the south of England. Zoë has a flair for garden design and excellent plant knowledge gained from a love of gardening and time spent working in garden centres in the UK over the years. Together they have designed and constructed several gardens in the UK and loved every minute doing it! Pinnacle Garden Care can provide: Lawn care Grass cutting Strimming Hedge maintenance Tree pruning/felling Weeding Weed control Planting of new and upkeep of existing beds Mulching Tree stump removal Mole control Patio/decking cleaning Fencing Gate installation Mowers serviced/ repaired. They have a variety of mowers to suit all scenarios. Hedge cutters, strimmers, chainsaws, pressure washer and the van and trailer to get it all to your location. The couple are also available to service or repair your mower at your home or at their workshop. Whether you require regular assistance or a one off ‘tidy up’, feel free to give them a call or drop them an email, they would be delighted to hear from you.

For more information email Michael and Zoë at: Or telephone: +44 79 50 91 07 90 / +44 74 84 63 55 82 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 23

Where We Live...


Picodon (AOC) Here is a cheese that can truly claim to be ‘out of this world’. In June 1996, French scientist Jean-Jacques Favier shoe-horned himself into his space suit and boarded the NASA space shuttle Columbia along with a wedge of goats cheese from the Drôme! Here on earth, these small pucks, or discs, refined from raw goat’s milk and with a natural wrinkled rind, are sold in their hundreds at local markets, surprising and delighting the taste buds of cheese lovers. The name Picodon derives from the ancient Langue d’Oc language and means spicy. The cheese undergoes a remarkable change as it matures. When young, it has a plump and unmarred white appearance, but after several weeks of careful maturation it loses around half of its weight, deepens to a golden colour and develops earthy moulds. The flavours, originally light and gentle, become concentrated and sharp, living up to its translated Occitan name. The pâte (everything within the rind) is smooth and uniform but becomes crumbly as it matures. It can have a pungent, goaty smell and can taste slightly sweet and salty, and those flavours can become even more pronounced with maturity. The region of Picodon straddles the River Rhône, with the department of Drôme on one side and the Ardèche on the other. The climate is fairly dry and the goats that feed on the mountains devour everything they can, including tree shoots and leaves, and their milk forms the basis of this spicy cheese. Some believe that the pâte is so dry the best way to get all the taste out is to suck it! There are a few variations on the Picodon theme: Picodon de l’Ardèche, Picodon de la Drôme, Picodon de Crest, Picodon de Dieulefit and Picodon du Dauphine. You might also find cheeses packed with herbs like bay leaves in jars of local olive oil or wine. In its terroir of origin, Picodon is appreciated as a snack or mixed with a salad, but it is also enjoyed after a meal with a red, white or rosé Côtes du Rhône of the region. It is said to be best in the spring, but eating it young or mature is down to your taste.

na n o D and an l u a P Newm

A château for sharing You’ve just bought a major renovation project in France, so what would be right up there on your list of priorities? Sorting what jobs need doing and when? Checking out local artisans? Planning permissions? How about inviting former residents to pay a visit and share their memories and photos?


hat was one of the first things Donna and Paul Newman did when they bought their 17th century Château de Saugé, in Saivres, PoitouCharentes, with plans to turn it into a chambre d’hôte, gîtes, a vintage tearoom and event venue. “We felt it important to share our journey with everyone,” says Donna. “The château was previously separated into four apartments, during the 1950s we believe. We’ve had three families contact us (two have visited) whose grandparents were tenants here. The visits have been wonderful. Sharing their childhood memories and showing us family photos, some of which we have put on our website ( I regularly keep in touch with them, asking if they have any more information on the place. I recently spoke to one of them about the use of one of our outbuildings as I want to use ‘The Stable’ as its gîte name.

Picodon: Recognised in many parts of France... and right around the world (several times) at 17,500mph! © wikicommons/Thesupermat

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“All the families have been surprised we are keeping all the fixtures we can

by Mick Austin

and restoring them, rather than ripping everything out and starting from new. The house has had hardly any improvements since they lived here, just the odd doorway change and garden alterations. “We’ve mentioned our plans to every visitor and all have welcomed them, even a close neighbour who knows the property very well. They all seem to be in agreement that it’s important to open up the beautiful aspects of the house and grounds to the public for them to enjoy as well. After all, the property has spent most of its recent life partially unoccupied. It’s such a shame. It’s time the château had a new life.” Donna and Paul met in the UK, married in June 2003 and bought a 400-year-old cottage in central Scotland. Over six years they extended it from two bedrooms and one bathroom to six bedrooms, three reception rooms and four bathrooms. “Tiny in comparison to here at Château de Saugé,” says Paul. Again they kept all alterations traditional, using reclaimed stone, natural rubble walls, slate, etc to ensure the charm and all the cottage’s original features remained. While doing that they started up an architectural salvage company in Falkirk called Unique Dee-signs (Donna’s nickname is Dee). “Part of my job was to locate salvaged items and as such I’ve ended up in many strange places,” says Donna. “One of the worst was a morgue in a closed-down mental institution, where I was asked if I might want to buy the morgue slabs! A sad part of the job was when I was called to a beautiful Victorian house and asked if I was interested in buying all the original fittings – including fireplaces and cast-iron baths. I always tried to talk people out of doing that sort of thing to an original property.” Memories of their Scottish restoration project have always been positive ones and they always yearned to do it again, but on a much bigger scale. “I’ve always wanted to have a hotel/hospitality/event venue,” says Donna, “so I suppose it’s been something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. Over the past two years we had made the decision to leave the United Arab Emirates [where they were both working] with the idea of finding somewhere in France that would tick all the boxes of our very long must-have list.” Scotsman Paul is a quantity surveyor by trade and Donna, from Hartlepool, a property and facility consultant, with both having careers in the UK until 2008, when they relocated to Dubai, where they worked for ten years. While in Dubai, Paul was chief commercial officer/commercial director with a couple of major development companies and Donna a general manager working with several big companies on handover of towers and communities, maintaining and lifecycle of properties and they also have their own company, Vanguard Consultancy.

Picture above: Paul and Donna in Dubai in 2008. Bottom left: A stone staircase reclaimed from the undergrowth. Bottom right: the old pigeonnier. Left page: Château de Saugé.

During their time in Dubai, they also bought property in Thailand. In May 2018 they moved from Dubai to Phuket, an island off the Thai coast, and stayed in one of their properties until their move here, which came in October last year. Handover of Château de Saugé took place just eight days after they landed in France. “Our love of France came after numerous car tours around Europe over the years,” says Donna. “The people, countryside, food and wine are all fantastic and their beautiful châteaux – with the amount of land – are like nowhere else in the world. You get so much for far less than anywhere else. “We had been to France around four times to property hunt and put in three bids on various châteaux which, for various reasons, did not go through. In March 2018 we viewed Château de Saugé with my parents and immediately fell under its spell – despite the cold, wet, grey day. For me it had the feeling of coming home and once I walked down the stairs into the caves I was totally sold. “There is one stone staircase down, with a cave on either side. As you go down the staircase, which is beautiful in itself, I had a feeling of walking back in time. There’s such a warm feeling with the area and the work that has obviously gone into it to create the fantastic domed ceilings. We’ve since been told by previous tenants, who were here in the 1950s, that a cobbler used a cave as his workshop.” The Newmans immediately put in an offer, taking into account the property would probably need two or three times the same amount spending on it to bring it back to life. The offer was rejected and even though they upped it a couple of times they were unable to agree a final price.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 25

...A look at what makes France so special “We decided to monitor the properties we had seen,” says Donna, “and start searching again for others until we could make another trip to France, probably around Christmas 2018. It was during that period we noticed Château de Saugé was still up for sale, so we decided to make another offer and if it was rejected we would start planning our trip. That time, thankfully, the offer was accepted and things moved pretty quickly after that to the handover on 31st October, 2018.

and Janvre de la Moussière. The Saugé estate was sold by the nation and bought by Pierre Guillonneau du Boupère, from the Vendée, for 161,000 livres and in 1868 one of his descendants, Louis Alfred Viala-Carain, sold it to the Guyonnet family. The Newmans bought the property from the Barillot family, who had bought it themselves some 30 years ago. When the Newmans moved into the château it was a shadow of its former 19 hectares, but still a jewel. It had eight bedrooms, but they have sacrificed some of them in order to create bedrooms with en-suite facilities, including a Wedding Suite with separate lounge area for the bridesmaids and an en suite. The Highlander Suite is another large bedroom with its own lounge area and luxury bathroom – ideal for a romantic break – and The Woodland Family Suite has two adjoining bedrooms.

“After ten years in the land of sand and camels, we found ourselves knee-deep in old plaster, rotten timbers and the occasional mouse or three. Our transition has certainly not been for the faint-hearted. The 40-plus degrees heat to the minus temperatures of a Poitou-Charentes winter has been a bit of a shock.”

“We had the insurance man come out to inspect the house prior to giving us a quote,” says Donna. “And guess what? He’s the only person to actually put his foot straight through the attic floor! Typical, eh? You can imagine we were bracing ourselves for his quote coming in!”

Moving in was quite a sparse affair, given all their shipping was stuck in Thailand and actually didn’t arrive until just before Christmas. Their eldest son arrived with Donna’s parents’ car full of goodies a few days later, followed by her parents, and their shipping arrived from the UK a few days after that. Finally they had some home comforts.

The attic space in the château is being developed to create the Newmans’ own private living area. The scullery has been transformed into a state-of-the-art kitchen, while still retaining its period features, and a further room has been converted into a vintage tearoom. “The tearoom will serve home-made cakes, pastries, etc. given that both myself and my mother enjoy cooking and baking,” says Donna. “I do have visions of serving afternoon tea with a glass of champagne on the terrace, or a picnic near the pond!”

“The house itself was clean and liveable on handover thanks to the previous owner,” says Paul. “We had also bought several items of furniture from the owner, meaning we had things like beds, though not very comfortable ones, but it could have been far worse. At least we can live in relative comfort while we do the restoration. “Our first job was to plan the job list/phasing. In fact we started writing that on the kitchen wall. It was important to start to understand the major things like roof condition, electricity, plumbing, fosse septique, etc. as the condition information we received on handover was only a basic guide. We also had to phase work, looking at what our priorities are, as it’s always a case of what you spend to make the area useable versus what income that area can bring in.” The Newmans are compiling as much information as they can on the history of the château and its inhabitants over the years and are keen to hear from anyone with any information and photos that might help with their search. They plan to eventually add a family tree for the château to the wall of the main entrance for all visitors to read. So far they’ve found that the château was originally built in 1607 by the Rion family and up to 1789 was the seat of a landowner whose lords were Melle, Janvre, Chevalier, Picher, De Rion, D’Auzy

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The old hunting lodge is being renovated to provide a gîte that sleeps four and the old wood lodge will be a two-bed gîte sleeping six. Future plans aim for a total of six attached and two detached gîtes. The old barn with its beautiful beams will be adorned with chandeliers and twinkling lights and, together with the adjoining buildings, will give space for weddings and events. The caves can be used for events or training/meeting areas and will provide a journey back through time. The outside gardens, woodland and lake are all there to take a leisurely wander through and find a hidden seat there for a private moment in the sun. “We’re planning to introduce chickens and goats to the property in the spring, when we hope to finish off the coop when the weather warms up a bit,” says Donna. “We uncovered the old pigeonnier some time ago – it took us days to just cut down the weeds. It needs a lot of stonework replacing and fencing up before the chickens can move in. It’s such an ornate building it will look wonderful when finished. “Gardening has also taken up a great deal of our time as it was so overgrown. We uncovered a beautiful double staircase that had all but disappeared under a fig tree and ivy. There’s still loads more left to do, including clearing the source and pond area.

The Only Way Is Up


by Steve Shaw

s someone scared of heights I have always marvelled at others lack of any perceivable fear as they stand at the edge of a shear drop. Yet the French seem to have taken this idea of reaching for the skies to a whole new level, if you’ll excuse the pun. Here are some French high flyers.

Above picture: Paul getting all ‘Michelangelo’ on the old kitchen wall. Below: the kitchen after Paul’s hard work. Left page, top: Donna and Paul ready for action. Bottom left: The gardens of Château de Saugé. Bottom centre: the ornate back entrance. Bottom right: a bygone era.

“We are working with artisans – both French and English – and I’m making contact with event planners, photographers etc., who all seem very excited about the venue, given there are very few such places in this area. We have a large military presence with the French army NCO training school in nearby Saint Maixent L’Ecole, which could potentially use our place for their various graduations, etc. “It’s so important to us that our beautiful château is used by locals and internationals alike. One of the things Paul and I have in common is restoring buildings and contents so they can be loved and enjoyed once again. So they are not lost for ever.”

The 324m Eiffel Tower was constructed from 1887-1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair. It surpassed the Washington Monument to become the tallest manmade structure in the world, a title it held for 41 years until the Chrysler Building in New York City was finished in 1930. It was supposed to be a temporary erection but was never taken down because an antenna was stuck on top to conduct wireless signals. In 1991, Thierry Devaux, performed a series of acrobatic figures while bungee jumping from the second floor of the tower. He used an electric winch between figures to go back up to Thierry Devaux bungeeing off the Eiffel Tower the second floor. © wikicommons/Hervé Calvayrac In 1783 Joseph-Michael and Jacques-Ètienne Montgolfier, prosperous paper manufacturers, started the French fascination with ascension. They built a balloon that was 10m in diameter and launched it (with nobody aboard) from the marketplace in Annonay. The balloon rose 1,600m-2,000m, stayed aloft for ten minutes and travelled more than 2km. Word of their success quickly spread, and a demonstration for the king was planned. For this flight, the brothers enlisted the help of Jean-Baptiste Réveillion, a successful wallpaper manufacturer. They constructed a balloon made of taffeta and coated with a varnish of alum for fireproofing. Réveillion’s influence was apparent as the balloon was decorated with golden flourishes, zodiac signs, and suns (symbolizing King Louis XVI). In 1974 the French high-wire artist Philippe Petit performed on a wire between the roofs of the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in Manhattan, a quarter of a mile above the ground. The towers were still under construction and had not yet been fully occupied. He performed for 45 minutes, making eight passes along the wire, during which he walked, danced, lay down on the wire, and saluted watchers from a kneeling position. Office workers, construction crews and policemen cheered him on.

Do you have an interesting story to share? We’d love to hear from you. Mick Austin is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the Paysde-la-Loire. He has had his work published in several expat magazines and newspapers and has also written the Mayenne Tourist Board’s only English language brochure. He runs a gite business at

Alain Robert (born 1962) is a rock climber, from Burgundy, known as ‘the French Spider-Man’. He is famous for his free solo climbing, scaling skyscrapers using no climbing equipment except for a pair of climbing shoes. His rockclimbing training and technique allow him to climb using the small protrusions of building walls and windows (such as window ledges and frames). Many of his climbs provide him no opportunity to rest and can last several hours. Robert has been arrested many times, in various countries. Alain Robert ‘the French Spider-Man’ scaling a skyscraper © wikicommons/Paille

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by Ross Hendry

Do I need to use Microsoft Outlook for my Email?


any people suggest that having an email program on your device/PC to send and receive your email is not necessary. But there are still reasons to have one, especially if you have more than one email address, or build folders within your email to manage it. This is true if those accounts are with different providers, which would otherwise require you to have several browser tabs open at once. That’s not all – as well as consolidating all your messages in one convenient place, a good email client can add features like encryption and integration with calendars, RSS feeds and video chat services. Desktop clients (programs) can store your mail locally too, giving you access to archived messages and attachments when you’re offline and providing a valuable backup. A dedicated email client offers far more flexibility and better search tools. This is of particular use if you have a slow internet connection, you can use the email client to make email more practical to use. There are many email programs available free of charge and more emerging all the time. I have selected four to present to you, but there are many more to explore if these are not suitable. The programs are not listed in any particular order of preference. Here are four of the best free email clients available: Em Client Developed over the last ten years it has become one of the best free email programs available. One of its key features is the ease of moving your email to it, especially from Gmail, Microsoft Exchange, iCloud and Outlook/hotmail. Allowing you to separately manage the import of your email, contacts and calendar. It also has a chat app built in that supports other chat platforms such as Google Chat and Jabber. One of its most relevant features is the automatic translation including encryption, scheduled sending and many other management tools. EmClient is free for non-commercial use and will allow you to manage two email addresses. If you like it and would like to manage more email addresses, you will have to pay a one-off charge. This lets you connect an unlimited number of email accounts, access VIP support (in the unlikely event that you need it), and use the email client commercially, crucial if you are in business. Mailbird Lite If you want to manage only one email account, the simple set-up, will sort out the settings for your account and provide you with a fast email client that has a great looking interface. Mailbird Lite is a complete communication platform to which you can add apps for scheduling, chatting, file syncing and team working. Free users miss out on features such as speed reading, email snoozing and quick previews of attachments, but Mailbird Lite is still an excellent choice. On set-up it offers to connect with your Facebook account, so it can improve your inbox with your contacts’ profile photos, and can also link with Whatsapp, Google Calendar, free task manager, and team working app Asana. Mozilla Thunderbird Designed by Mozilla (who were also responsible for the Firefox Browser, Thunderbird) was first released in 2003 as Minator; version 60 of Thunderbird was released in August 2018. The latest release looks much more up to date, it also works much better. You no longer need to download and configure an extension to make full use of your calendar, and cutting, copying and deleting events is effortless.

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You can connect as many email addresses as you like to Thunderbird, and it’s totally free, with no ads or prompts to upgrade. It’s also very flexible, with a wealth of customizable options – and if you can’t see a particular feature, you can expand Thunderbird with third-party extensions. Thunderbird still takes a little getting used to (there are so many options, the interface is a little confusing at first), but it’s a superb email client that’ll serve you well – particularly if you have lots of accounts to manage. Mailspring In 2016, a product called Nylas Mail hit the scene and looked as if it’d be the desktop email client to put all others to shame. But then in August 2017, the team announced that they’d no longer be working on Nylas Mail and opened up the source to the public. One of the original authors then relaunched Nylas Mail as Mailspring. He optimized and improved many of the internal components, resulting in quicker syncing, less RAM usage, faster launch times and more. Thunderbird may be the program of choice for those who want reliability and time-tested staying power, but Mailspring is the one to use if you want something fresh, new, exciting and full of future potential. It’s free to use indefinitely with some advanced features locked behind a subscription. Synchronising with Gmail, MS Office 365, Yahoo, iCloud, FastMail and IMAP and giving you unlimited email account support with a unified inbox, it has support for pre-built themes, layouts and emojis. The Free version also translates, is fast and has a unified inbox for multiple emails, and also has read receipts, link tracking and very fast searches. There is also a Pro version costing £6.20 per month that offers many more features. The beauty of these programs is that if you use IMAP (as you should be nowdays) you can run any one of these in parallel so that you can compare with your existing email; only when you have found the one that suits you do you have to migrate to the new one. Whatever you do please remember to use a strong password, this means a long one, in my experience you need at least five random words, check out your password once created by using www. REMEMBER ALL PASSWORDS ARE CRACKABLE, just make yours one of the longest to crack and you should be safe! Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 43 years experience in communications, computer technology and direct marketing. (see advert below).

Letter from Blighty (February) Dear Frankie


anuary, unlamented, may be gone but the Brexit roller-coaster rumbles on. Since there seems general consensus at home and abroad that a ‘no deal’ exit would be bad for all concerned, I still hang on to the straw that sooner or later an agreed exit will emerge. The EU has a well-earned reputation for doing deals as ‘midnight’ - or even five past midnight – strikes. So, perhaps they will run true to form once more. But what do I know about these things (cries of “nothing” from the wings)? In the meantime, while Ministers focus on Europe, problems back home continue to pile up in the ‘pending’ tray. Rising knife crime, recruitment problems in the NHS, prison and probation services just below boiling point, an obesity epidemic, and anxieties about the excessive exposure of children to screens of all kinds. Further abroad, we are all holding our breath that the impending catastrophe in the Yemen can be averted and that the situation in Venezuela doesn`t slide into civil war or other armed conflict. On a more cheerful note, England have just got off to a cracking start in the Six Nations rugby by soundly beating the Irish, the current champions, on their home patch. Best not to talk about cricket, as England have just lost their last two Tests and the series against the West Indies. The Premiership race (football, you know) is hotting up nicely between Liverpool and Manchester City. Someone has described it as a “two horse race with three runners”, Tottenham being the dark horse coming up on the rails. How many of the following news items since last month passed you by, I wonder? (a) Record numbers of people are in employment, according to Government figures, and job vacancies

are their highest since 2001; (b) In the last four years shoplifting in British supermarkets rose by more than 7%; (c) The Kumb Mehla festival, attended by some 30 million Indian pilgrims, has taken place at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers; (d) The BBC are sending eight celebrities on a pilgrimage from the Swiss Alps to the Vatican where they will be received by Pope Francis. In Pilgrimage: The Road to Rome Les Dennis will be joined by Dana Scallon (who she?), Stephen K. Amos, Lesley Joseph, Greg Rutherford, Mehreen Baig (ditto), and Brendan Cole: (e) Janet Street Porter is to appear as herself in Neighbours on Channel 5 on 19th April (you have been warned); (f) If you like statistics, M&S experienced a 35% increase in waistcoat sales as a result of the Gareth Southgate World Cup effect; the number of Jaffa Cakes you get in a tube has reduced by 16.7 %; and the average London pigeon has 1.6 feet. Deaths since last month have included Carol Channing (97) of Hello, Dolly fame; Peter Thompson (76) who played on the wing in the great Liverpool side of the sixties; Windsor Davies (88) best known for It Ain`t Half Hot, Mum; Clive Swift (82) best known as Richard, husband of Hyacinth Bucket, in Keeping Up Appearances: also father of Joe Swift, TV gardener; and Jeremy Hardy, comedian and star of BBC Radio’s The News Quiz and I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. He came from a Church of England family but remarked in 2008, “You can’t exactly lapse when you are C of E. You don`t lose your faith; you just can`t remember where you left it”. Ouch! Yours Johnny

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 29

Food & Drink Comfort Food and Healthy Alternatives

The New Year’s healthy eating resolution is going well. There’s been the odd wobble, literally, but on the whole things have been improving. However, after a long day of doing jobs, you sit at the supper table famished, ready for something hearty. Here are four offerings that will let you know you’ve had a meal, but are forgiving on the waistline.

Chicken Pasta Bake

One Pot Goulash

Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil 300g skinless chicken breast, cubed 2 small courgettes, sliced 175g fusilli or other shaped pasta 600g passata with herbs 200g low fat cheese with garlic and herbs

Ingredients: 2 tsp carraway seeds 600g new potatoes 1 tbsp olive oil 500g cubed braising steak 2 large onions, chopped 2 garlic cloves, crushed 2 red peppers cut into large chunks 1 tsp of hot smoked paprika 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes 2 beef stock cubes 1 small tub of low fat natural yogurt 2 tbsp freshly chopped dill

deux-sèrves 4

Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (or 170°C for a fan oven). Stir fry and brown the chicken and courgettes in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes. 2. Cook the pasta for approximately 2 minutes and drain. 3. Add 100ml of water and the passata to the chicken and courgettes, then bring to the boil. 4. Add the partly cooked pasta and soft cheese and mix together, then pour into a baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes or until the chicken and pasta is cooked.

Moroccan Lamb Tagine deux-sèrves 4

Ingredients: 1 tbsp olive oil 600g lean lamb steaks, diced 2 onions, chopped 3 garlic cloves, crushed 500g butternut squash, peeled and diced 400g tin of chick peas 400g tin of chopped tomatoes 200g tin of apricots in natural juice, keep the juice and chop the apricots 2 vegetable or lamb stock cubes in 425ml boiling water A pinch of saffron or 1 tsp ground turmeric 2 cinnamon sticks 2 tbsp crushed coriander seeds ½ tsp dried chilli flakes Fresh coriander and mint to garnish Method: 1. Brown the lamb in the olive oil. Remove lamb and put to one side. 2. Add onions and garlic along with 100ml of water, stir fry until softened. 3. Return the lamb to the pan and add all other ingredients, cover and leave to simmer for 30 minutes. 4. If required, remove the lid for a few minutes to let the sauce thicken. Season to taste. 5. Serve the tagine with couscous and garnish with a handful of chopped coriander and mint.

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Method: 1. Crush the carraway seeds to release their aroma. Wash the potatoes and cut any large ones in two. Put these to one side. 2. In a large lidded pan fry the beef in olive oil until sealed and browned. Remove from the pan and set aside. 3. To the pan add the onions, garlic and peppers. Fry these for a couple of minutes until softened. Return the beef to the pan and stir in the paprika, carraway seeds, tomatoes, potatoes and 200ml beef stock. 4. Put the lid on the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 ½ hours or until the meat is tender. Stir occasionally. 5. Add salt and pepper to taste, divide into four large bowls and top each with a tablespoon of yogurt and sprinke with the dill.

Seafood Noodle Stew deux-sèrves 4

Ingredients: 1 large leek, sliced 4 spring onions, finely sliced 1 garlic clove, finely chopped 600ml vegetable stock (2 stock cubes) 50g vermicelli/thread noodles 175g salmon fillet 450g mussels in shells 150ml skimmed milk 2 tbsp parsley, chopped Method: 1. Put the stock in a large pan, add the leeks, spring onions and garlic. Cover and bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. 2. Add the noodles and place the salmon fillet on top. Cover and cook gently for another 5 minutes. Remove the salmon and leave to cool for a few minutes. 3. Add the mussels and cover once again to simmer for 2-3 minutes until the shells open. 4. Flake the salmon and return to the pan, add the milk and gently reheat. 5. Season to taste and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

If you have a passion for cooking and would like to regularly contribute recipes to the magazine, we would love to hear from you.

Books Do Furnish a Room


hat can give you pleasure again and again, take you to a different place and time, get better with the years, and bring back memories as soon as you stick your nose in it? A good book of course. Oh, and not forgetting my usual brief, a glass of good wine. I just tried this out to see if it still works. I stuck my nose in Mason’s ‘Principles of Chess’, close into it with a deep breath, and I was back home, at the board, ready to do battle with my Dad. As I play my first move he settles over the pieces and whispers to himself what are you threatening now?, plays his move, gives me a grin. Circa 1970, Oulton, near Stone, Staffs. I close the book. Then I stuck my nose in a glass of 2011 Château Raymond-Lafon, close into it with a deep breath, and I was watching October’s early mist being burnt away by midday sun and hearing Jean-Pierre intoning Sauternes is not a dessert wine; it is dessert. I drink my dessert. It’s a maxim that anyone who wants to be a writer should read a lot. It follows that anyone who aspires to be a wine writer should read a lot about wine. This I do, and in so doing have acquired a library of books, ranging from excellent to forgettable. These are my best of the bunch. If you wanted a one book library then your very small shelf would have to be stocked with the 835-page ‘The Oxford Companion to Wine’ edited by Jancis Robinson. Jancis has been the eminence grise of UK wine writers for more time than I, and no doubt she, would care to remember. Her assistant editor is Julia Harding who I view as a Watson to Jancis’s Holmes, bumbling about in the background and doing most of the leg work. They’re both Masters of Wine, which is about the most difficult qualification on the planet to obtain. If you have a question about wine, I guarantee you will find the answer here. The Washington Post called it ‘the greatest wine book ever published’. OK, that’s from an American journal and prone to American hyperbole, but it’s still pretty darned good. Oh, it’s also shot through with quiet wit and urbanity. Gazing over to my bookcase, where volumes are non-alphabetised, non-indexed and set at teetering angles that put Easter Island heads to shame, my eyes consistently come to rest on ‘A Wine and Food Guide to the Loire’ by Jacqueline Friedrich. Ms Friedrich is not only an amazingly thorough researcher but one who writes with real passion. The aforementioned Jancis has said ‘I’ve waited twenty years for this book. I am truly impressed by it and so grateful for its existence.’ High praise indeed from the high priestess. Herein you will discover why the French jealously guard the secret of Loire wines in the hope of keeping them all for themselves. My next choice bundles two into one: ‘The Billionaire’s Vinegar’ by Benjamin Wallace, and ‘In Vino Duplicitas’ by Peter Hellman. Both are non-fiction accounts of venal shenanigans in the world of high-end wine and auction houses on the one hand, and their sheep-to-theslaughter super-rich victims on the other. Which is to say, gleeful reads

by John Sherwin

for the likes of you and me. The former deals with the sale in 1985 of a 1787 bottle of Lafite, supposedly once owned by Thomas Jefferson, for $156,000. The latter recounts the rise and fall of Rudy Kurniawan in the 2000s, the concocter of kitchen sink vintages, and one of the great wine con artists. Scadenfreude rules. Assuming you are not a paid up member of The Flat Earth Society, you will be a solid believer in the importance of terroir in winemaking, that is the influence of soil, subsoil, climate, vineyard site and practices and the human element on the glass of wine in your hand. A fine ‘dipping in’ book on this is ‘Terroir & The Winegrower’ edited by Jacky Rigeaux and ably translated from the French by du Toit and Morgan. This is a selection of articles by the great and the good of French winemaking. Not only will you get a range of viewpoints on this vital topic, but you’ll also be introduced to some important players (eg. Henri Jayer, Aubert de Vilaine, Nicolas Joly, Stéphane Dérénoncourt to cite but a few) whose names you can drop at appropriate points at your next wine gathering to establish your credentials – whether as prat or profound thinker depends on how you go about it, trust me. All the above will educate and amuse you and give a sound foundation to your library. As a dyed in the wool bibliophile I of course refer to a real library of real books. I have no time for devices such as ‘kindle’ – which, uncapitalised, reminds me of kindling, the only good use for them as long as enough petrol is applied. This is not to say I’m a complete Luddite. There are more resources online than you can shake a bottle (empty) at, but two I recommend are ‘Decanter’ and ‘Wine Spectator’, respectively the foremost UK and US wine magazines. You can take out a full subscription for money – of course you can – but you can also sign up for useful updates and articles for free. Google and check. If you want to flex your French, the best magazine is ‘La Revue du Vin de France’. Wine, like any other specialised subject, has its own vocabulary so you would probably need a copy of ‘LexiWine’, an English-French, French-English wine dictionary compiled by Paul Cadiau. Go for the latest edition. A final thought or two on what to avoid. Hugh Johnson produces every year his Pocket Wine Book, and boy, what a cash cow it has proved for the old fellah these past 42 years. Basically, it updates you on the latest vintages. Unless you’re in the business (in which case you know anyway) you might find a page or two vaguely useful. Otherwise it’s a bit like buying a new road atlas every year. Don’t get me wrong, Johnson is otherwise a very fine wine writer. Apply the above reasoning to any smallish tome which appears every year to ensure you’re ‘up to date’. If you’re worried about FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) don’t be: there’s little MO to be in FO. Stick to the basics, your own intelligence (in both senses) and your own palate for wine and books. Talking of which, you’ll have to excuse me. My second hand copy of ‘The Savoy Cocktail Book’ beckons with its inscription ‘Edinburgh – Xmas 1930’ on the title page and half a glass stain on page 138. I stick my nose in and go back in time …

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 31

A Fusion Of Cultures

by Jacqueline Brown


did it! After many years of fear and cowardice, I finally plucked up the courage to sample the local delicacy (if you are French) or dreaded (if you aren’t) Andouillette. For those of you who don’t know, Andouillette is a course-textured sausage, rarely found outside of France, that is made using the small intestine or colon of the pig. This gives it a strong and unmistakably poo-like odour. Although pretty sure I wouldn’t like it, I’d felt it was necessary (at some point) to give it a try; in fact, I even wrote about it in my first Deux-Sèvres Monthly column, back in April 2012, citing it as reason number six for never being able to call myself a true French foodie. This month, at a laughter packed evening in the salle des fêtes, when we were planning on springing a surprise haggis on our French friends, the time seemed right to try the innocent looking, but not so innocent smelling, small piece of andouillette lurking at the back of the apéro platter. As with any sausage, quality and flavour can vary, but I was reassured that this particular andouillette came from an award winning, highly prized, local producer. At first, it was the spices that I tasted and my fear over the texture and flavour seemed unfounded. However, a few chews too many, and before I had swallowed it, the back of my throat was suddenly assaulted by its pungent odour. With my many French friends looking on and smiling, as I’d initially seemed impressed with the flavour, I then had to decide if I could swallow the beast safely, or if doing so would rather ruin everyone’s appetites for the rest of the evening. Thankfully, my glass of bubbly came in very useful to help wash it down and it’s safe to say, although I’m pleased I did it, I won’t be doing it again. The haggis, however, went down much better. We were celebrating the 70th birthday of one of our French friends, who has a liking for all things Scottish. His wife surprised him with a kilt, which he proudly wore all evening with a certain panache no Scotsman could muster. A small entertainment committee, consisting of a Scottish lady and her husband, another British couple, and Adrian and I, had been rehearsing the Gay Gordons for weeks, and having finally got over the head spinning dizziness, managed a passable performance, complete with tartan flourishes, to a highly amused French audience. Then we presented the haggis, complete with traditional address, in Scottish and French, before instructing our temporary laird of the village (the birthday boy) to cut it open with a samurai sword. The brave were then invited to try it and despite initial reservations, it was deemed delicious. A good time was had by all and we have already had requests for an evening of Scottish music and dancing, so if you know of anyone able to put on a ceilidh, please let me know.

s Haggi



You decide! © wikicommons/Tess Watson

© wikicommons/DC Email:

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 33

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres

by Sue Burgess


There is a weekly market at Lezay.


A signposted 8.5km walk, with observation panels (geology, flora and fauna, history) runs around the northen part of the commune.

ainte-Blandine is situated in the Communauté de communes du Cellois, Coeur du Poitou, Mellois et du Val de Boutonne. The commune stretches over an area of 16.22km², and has 712 inhabitants. In 2014, there were 290 lodgings on the commune of SainteBlandine, 263 main residences and eight holiday homes. The rest empty. About 70 inhabitants work on the commune itself and 47 enterprises were listed in 2015 of which 13 had between one and nine employees. There are 455 inhabitants aged between 15 and 64 years old. Of those 361 are working.

Saint-Christophe-sur-Roc The village of Saint-Christophe-sur-Roc is part of the Communauté de communes du Val d'Egray. The inhabitants of the village are the Christophoriens and the Christophoriennes. The population of Saint-Christophe-sur-Roc was 558 people at the last census. The commune stretches over 10.96km. The Romanesque church dates from the 12th century and was bought by the Conseil de Fabrique de Saint-Christophe in the third year of the Republic to stop it being given back to the Catholics. Renovation works carried out in 1875, brought to light a fragment of tombstone with the effigy of a knight in armour, with his dog by his side. Another had an engraving of Rogres de Champignelles and a 14th century coat of arms. It is now in the museum in Niort. Near the old post office, there is a linden tree called the arbre de la Liberté (freedom tree). It was planted on the 5th May 1889, to celebrate the centenary of the Revolution. In 1989 for the bicentenary, another linden tree was planted. For those who like walking, the downloadable details of a 10km walk which starts outside the church in St- Christophe-sur-Roc and passes several restored wash houses, can be found at: w w w. ra n d o e n d e u xs ev re s .f r / i n d ex . p h p ? i d _ product=1687&controller=product

Saint Coutant Saint-Coutant is situated 37km from Niort and 47km from Poitiers. The small town is situated on the edge of the Mellois plateau, on a old Roman road and on the Greenwich Meridian. The Mellois plateau stretches out to the west of the commune. The next village is Saint-Vincent-la-Châtre and it is 3km away. To the east is the valley of the river Dive du Sud which has its source in the commune of Saint Coutant at the Fontaine de Bruneau. It passes close to the Château de Germain, and then through the communes of Sainte-Soline, Lezay and Rom before flowing into the Clain which is a tributary of the Vienne. hree communes of Deux-Sèvres have the name of Saint Aubin. Aubin was a saint from the Brittany region. He was Bishop of Angers between 529 and 550.

The name of Saint-Coutant, in its Latin form of Sanctus Constantius, is found for the first time on a map dated 1092. Saint-Gilles church and the buildings next to it are what remains of a 13th century Augustin priory which was ruined during the Wars of Religion. Father Clémot had the church and the presbytery rebuilt from the ruins in the 18th century. A protestant temple used to exist between the church and the cemetery. It was built in the 19th century by the architect JeanBaptiste Guillaud. It was abandonned and later demolished in 1984. The Château de Germain, dating in part from the 14th century is mentioned in written documents dating from 1351. It was restored in the 20th century having been left to go to ruins in the 18th century. Next to it, the Moulin de Germain (the water mill) was built in the 16th century. In 1800 there were three wheels for making flour and a fourth one for the fulling and treating of fabrics. In 1611 the domain of Saint-Coutant depended on the Viscount of Aulnay but the castellany of Germain depended on the marquis of Laval-Lezay. In the 18th century Saint-Coutant came under the sénechaussée of Poitiers. The parish of Saint-Coutant belonged to the archpresbytery at Rom. The houses of Saint-Coutant are regrouped in a series of about thirty hamlets. The main ones are : • The Bourg, the old market town, in the centre of which the church can be found along with the old primary school building. The school was closed in 1984, renovated in 1999 and is now a meeting place for clubs and associations. (Maison des Associations). • Bourchenin, with a 17th century farm-house and Lanebouyère. • La Chevallerie, with a 17th century farm-house. • Crolour, on the Roman road from Saintes (Mediolanum Santonum) to Poitiers (Limonum). The Roman road went through Brioux-sur-Boutonne (Brigiosum) and Rom (Rauranum). There used to be an annual fair at Crolour. • Huric and le Tertre. The old school building now houses the town hall. • Puy-Richard (Just called Le Puy in the 13th century). Close by in the wood at Molland is the site of a medieval fortified farm with remains of a feudal mound. • Verdroux is the largest of the different hamlets on the commune.



This is an old commune situated in the north-west of the Deux-

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month... 34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

Our Furry Friends

Mona’s story by Carol Colborne


ona is an eight to ten year old beagle/ spaniel cross. After having numerous litters Mona was abandoned and found herself in the pound. She presented as a shy, affectionate and eager to please dog, who would make a wonderful companion. After her first outing, the volunteer walkers told us that Mona had not been well the day before. However, we were not prepared for her condition when we went to collect her. A barely conscious Mona lay wrapped in blankets underneath a heat lamp. So off we went to the vet's. After a thorough examination, Mona was put on two drips and settled under a heat lamp, snuggled up in blankets. Mona had had a heart attack and it was discovered that her heart was malformed. Although she was discharged, we were told that Mona's prognosis was poor, she would need to take three types of medication every day and her life expectancy was only months. How could she possibly receive the care she needed in a busy, noisy pound that wasn't staffed 24 hours a day? Foster care was the answer. As I didn't have a foster dog at the time, Mona came home with me and began her end of life care. At first, she didn't move out of the cosy bed we had made for her by the hearth. She didn't eat and had to be encouraged to drink. Gradually, she started to move about, she became interested in the other dogs, began enjoying food and to take an interest in her surroundings. Mona's balance was poor and she didn't seem able to problem solve. If she walked into a corner or got stuck under the coffee table, she stayed there. Over the next three weeks Mona made progress, her tail wagged in response to food and the other dogs. Her relationship with us was limited. She seemed disconnected. It didn't take long for us to realise that Mona wasn't well enough to be adopted, but that the layout of our house didn't help her mobility. I didn't hold out much hope when we started to look for a foster carer. How wrong I was! Mona is now living with a caring family who are meeting her needs. They know that Mona is with them until she dies. Since living with Annette and her family, she has made even more progress. Kept warm in her wardrobe of many jumpers and coats, Mona has the quiet life she needs with companionship most of the day. She even has a gentle doggy friend. At last Mona is safe. Without foster care, we would not have been in a position to save Mona. We would not have been able to ensure that she will end her life in a warm, safe and loving environment.

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

HOPE ASSOCIATION helping animals in need


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

17 Route de Civray 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

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

Monty Monty is just two months old. He may be adopted by the time you read this, but even if he is, there will always be another puppy who needs adopting. If you’re looking for a specific type of dog, please get in touch with us.

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


Tasha is a two year old cross Labrador/ Hungarian Hound of 21kg. Lively and friendly, playful and super smart. Ideal for a home where she will get plenty of long walks and an enclosed garden to play in. Tasha is microchipped, vaccinated, has a passport and has had a rabies jab. She is sterilised and treated for ticks and fleas - ready to go! Currently being fostered in department 49.

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

Building & Renovation

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 37



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A Goode job well done

Plombier 85 is the next generation of plumbing in and around the Vendée, Deux-Sèvres and the Charente Maritime area. It is a family run business founded by Adam Goode who is married to Nicola, they have two children Dylan (11) and Chloe (10). The company provides a fresh new look and dynamic approach to a range of plumbing and heating services including: repairs, leak detection, replacement of toilets, basins, showers and baths, troubleshooting and maintenance. Plombier 85 offers no hassle, ‘air sucking’ or fuss when quoting to ensure that every element of the work is understood before it begins. There are no hidden charges or unwanted surprises and we often work closely with other trades to collectively bring a one-size-fits-all solution. We are fully accredited with the Chambre de Métiers et de L`Artisanat de la Vendée and a fully Décennale insured company giving you a ten year guarantee on completed work. Our mantra is providing value for money and doing a good job at a time that is convenient for our customers. I’m sure you will find us easy to work with. Our fully automated estimating and invoicing software can also provide online payment options, an ideal solution for second home owners, eliminating the stress of not being in the country. However, Plombier 85 still accept the traditional methods of payment if preferred. So, if it’s a quick, effective and no hassle plumber you are looking for, please feel free to call Adam at Plombier 85 to discuss your plumbing, repair or heating needs.

For more information email Adam at: Or telephone: 07 83 85 25 56 / 06 43 64 22 74 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 39

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

Business & Finance Marketing Matters

by Cindy Mobey

Manage your online reputation


n the dim and distant past, pre-internet, a small business would gain customers and reputation largely by word of mouth, be it good or bad. If you had negative comments, you soon knew about it and had the chance to publicly fix it. Nowadays, most businesses have an online presence. Because of the internet, we can sell worldwide and reach millions of people at the click of a mouse; businesses are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Although this is fabulous, it’s harder to manage your business’s reputation. Here are some ideas to help: Google your name Try googling your name or business name. When I did it, as well as information about me and my business, various events I was involved in years ago popped up. Also try entering your name into google images – that surprised me too! Every single day, thousands of people are looking online for information using search engines. With information about you and your business in the public domain, managing your reputation is crucial. It’s not difficult to manage, but it does take time. Set up Google Alert What if you find a damaging comment online about your business? If it’s written on a website or blog contact the owner directly and politely ask them to remove it. You can go into Google Alert and request an email notification every time your name is published online. Simply type google. com/alerts into your browser and open the site. Type your name or business name into the search box. Choose ‘show options’ to narrow the search to a specific language/source/region. Then select ‘create alert’ – you can choose to have alerts sent to you daily or weekly and you can cancel at any time. I’m doing it for a month to see who searches my name…could be interesting!

Be active on Social Media Most small businesses have at least one social media site. It is worth joining a few social networks – even if you just use them to fill out the profile pages and tell people what you do. I belong to a few, but am mainly active on Facebook and LinkedIn. If you do go onto new sites, fill out as much information as you can about yourself and your business – always use your full name and avoid nicknames. Without doubt a social media site will attract questions from potential customers; people expect you to be sociable! By posting regularly, asking/answering questions and giving advice, you’ll be engaging with your audience, building trust and sharing what you do. Be careful about what you post From a business and reputation perspective, try and avoid posting images/text that could damage your reputation. It’s not advisable to post when you’re on a tipsy night out, looking wrecked! If you do, put a privacy setting on your post, so only your friends can see them, but remember, your friends can post photos without your permission. If someone posts something you don’t like, ask them to remove it – it’s your reputation! I always used to tell my children not to post anything that they wouldn’t like grandparents seeing or, for that matter, the whole wide world. After all, it is the World Wide Web! Encourage reviews Reviews of your products/services are great for your reputation and are generally positive. However, there will always be someone who will say something negative. The knee-jerk reaction is to delete negative comments, but if you take a proactive approach, apologising if necessary and offering alternative products or solutions, or asking the person making the comment to suggest how you can address the problem, you can turn a negative into a positive. If you don’t monitor and actively improve your online reputation, you are missing an ideal opportunity to grow your brand, earn respect from your customers and hopefully build your business. If you have any other tips for managing your reputation online, let me know.

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


Simply register on our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 41


by Isabelle Want



orry to be gloomy this month but here is one of our most popular policies which gives a lump sum to beneficiaries of your choice to help them pay for your funeral. Funnily enough, we all have house insurance in case our house burns down but not all of us have insurance on ourselves when we are pretty sure we are all going to die! So, if you don’t have big savings, this is a must have contract. Unless you don’t like the person who is going to pay for the funeral!

For free quotes, all I need is your date of birth and the amount you want to be insured for. To do the contract, I require copies of your passport, a RIB (French bank details) and the list of beneficiaries (date of birth, place of birth, name, maiden name and first name).

1. Criteria for subscribing: Anyone between 50 and 84 years old and who is French resident.

Please check out our website: for all my previous articles (‘practical information’) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter.

2. How much can you be insured for? Between 3 000€ and 10 000€ euro without a health questionnaire. Average cost for a funeral in France is around 3 000€ to 4 000€. Cremation and burial are about the same. The lump sum you are insured for follows inflation because 3 000€ today might not be worth the same in ten years!

Don’t hesitate to contact me on subjects such as funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top-up health insurance, etc.

Facebook: @Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterps.

3. How does it work? The lump sum you are insured for is given to the funeral parlor (presentation of the bill) or to the person who has paid the funeral (presentation of the bill paid) and what is left is given to the beneficiaries you have named on the policy. You are not covered the first year for disease or suicide, but you are insured for death by accident straight away. If you die from a disease in the first year, the insurance company pays back the amount you have paid in. It is not like a normal insurance whereby if you stop paying your premium you stop being insured. You receive a statement every year showing three lines. The first one shows how much you are insured for and it follows inflation. The second shows how much you are insured for if you stop paying the premium. The last shows how much is available if you want to shut down the policy completely. This means that if you are still alive after 10 or 15 years, you can afford to stop paying the premium as you will already have enough cover. 4. How much does it cost? E.g. a person born in 1947 and insured for 3 000€ would pay around 25€ per month and we offer a 10% discount for couple subscription (so the cost will be only 22€ each per month). Insured for 5 000€, you will pay around 40€ and if your cover is for 10 000€ it’s 80€ (for couples, 36€ each for 5 000€ or 72€ each for 10 000€). Conclusion: This is a popular contract and one we have very little problem with. There can be no cheating with it, you are either dead or alive, so, no expert needed! And no argument from the insurance company when paying out! The payment is given very quickly once we have the death certificate, funeral bill and the identity of the beneficiary (received within 10 days).

No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

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

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

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019

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

05 49 64 59 96

French State health insurance advice line

08 11 36 36 46

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

04 68 23 43 79

Orange helpline

09 69 36 39 00

EDF International Customer Service

05 62 16 49 08

CLEISS (Social security advice between countries)

01 45 26 33 41

Funeral Information (AFIF)

01 45 44 90 03 or

Passport Advice

0044 300 222 0000 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 43

Tougher sanctions for non-disclosure of non-French bank by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks accounts and insurance policies


nder French law, residents of France have been obliged to disclose details of all foreign bank accounts opened, closed or used during the year. This is done when you submit your annual tax return, using a separate form, with penalties for failure to do this. There are similar rules for nonFrench life insurance policies.

The French government recently took steps to further strengthen its fight against tax fraud. Its new anti-fraud act, published in October 2018, extends the disclosure regulations to cover non-active accounts. You must now declare all non-French bank accounts and life insurance policies, even if you have not deposited any funds, earned any interest/gains or made withdrawals. The French tax penalties and fines for non-disclosure were also strengthened in 2018, and are as follows: •

The fine for each undisclosed non-French bank account and/or life insurance policy is 1,500€. This increases to 10,000€ if the account is held in a country which does not have a treaty with France for the purposes of combating tax evasion.

If you cannot provide information on the source of the funds and prove that they have already been taxed or were exempt from taxation, they will be considered taxable in France and subject to income tax.

Any income deriving from the accounts/policies will be taxable in France.

The tax penalty for late filing, which is assessed on the income,

increased from 40% to 80%. The 80% penalty can normally be avoided if you make a voluntary disclosure. •

Interest for late payment of tax is imposed at a rate of 0.40% per month (based on income and wealth tax), with no maximum.

If it is proved that the bank account/life insurance policy was intentionally not-disclosed, the tax authorities can impose criminal sanctions of 500,000€ and five years’ imprisonment.

The Common Reporting Standard and exchange of information International automatic exchange of information is now in full swing under the Common Reporting Standard. This means the French tax authorities do not need to have suspicions of non-disclosure and/or to request information – they will automatically receive it each year. The information being reported includes your investment income (interest, dividends, income from certain insurance contracts, annuities etc.), account balances and gross proceeds from the sale of financial assets. Anyone who lives in one country and has assets in another needs to take care with their tax planning and ensure they are declaring income and paying tax correctly. Blevins Franks has an in-depth understanding of the French and UK tax laws and the interaction between them, and can help you with your tax planning, using fully compliant arrangements so you do not pay any more tax than necessary. Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

The B-word. What does it mean for you? Love it or hate it, there is no escaping it, so our spring seminars will take a close look at what Brexit means for UK nationals in France. While the key concerns for many expatriates are residence rights and healthcare, we will also consider how Brexit could affect pensions and discuss potential implications for taxation, estate planning and your savings and investments.


Thu 11 Apr Domaine de Presle SAUMUR (49) Fri 12 Apr Domaine Du Griffier NIORT (79) Registration 10 for 10.30am start, until 12 noon book your seat now

05 49 75 07 24 Online booking available from our website


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

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019| 45


by Joanna Leggett


ave you ever dreamed of finding an old barn? One waiting to be restored and just perfect to create the type of space you’ve always wanted – with stone walls, soaring ceiling height, plenty of original features and ancient rustic beams. Of course vision, time and work will all be required to make your dream a reality but the rewards will be all the sweeter. For an old barn we usually estimate about 1 500€ per square metre to effect a complete transformation, depending upon specifications and how much work you undertake yourself. We suggest starting with a visit to the local mairie to discuss your project, they should advise on the necessary steps to be undertaken. A visit to your local planning department could also be helpful if you want to add extra windows, openings or build a swimming pool. And if the barn is going for a song? Well so much the better. We’ve chosen just three in the Deux-Sèvres to whet your creative juices and they’re for sale at unbelievable prices! Rigné is 10km from Thouars with its twice weekly market and all amenities. Opening out on to the countryside of this small hamlet are lovely south-facing barns (Leggett ref: 96811, photo left) just ripe for conversion. The large double height barn and long stable offer potentially 200m² floor space. Mains water and electricity are present but not connected, there’s a well plus several smaller outbuildings. The front courtyard area could be fantastic, plus there’s over half an acre of land behind the main barn. Best of

all its in a ‘naturelle’ zone where sympathetic conversion of existing buildings is allowed, within guidelines and normal permissions. All this just 50km from the gems of the Loire Valley, for sale at 31 000€! If your dream includes the perfect home plus a potential gîte complex, then our second offering (Leggett ref: 94080, photo right) on the edge of ChampdeniersSaint-Denis, with a charming river running the length of its southern boundary, might be just the ticket, especially when you consider its price of 51 000€! There’s a large barn with sound walls and a good roof, an attached house, a row of ruined buildings and even an old mill set in over 8500m² of land all less than one kilometre from bars, shops and restaurants! Lastly, we couldn’t ignore this (Leggett ref: 96342) traditional Charentaise cottage in Asnièresen-Poitou with courtyard, garden and barn for just 12 000€! This is definitely a major project as everything needs to be done here from septic tank upwards to the roof but there’s potential for two to three bedrooms, and it’s sited on the doorstep of the Aulnay Forest in southern Deux-Sèvres. What a project and what a price! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at


LE CHILLOU €104,445 Ref: 96380 Spacious 3 bed bungalow with double garage, garden, raised deck and valley views. 45kms from Poitiers.

Buying or selling? Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

Agency fees to be paid by the seller DPE: D

CHEY €278,200 Ref: 96826 Renovated farmhouse and gîte offering a total of 7 bedrooms. Nearly 2 acres plus a swimming pool. 7% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: N/A

LOUBILLE €108,900 Ref: 96616 Spacious 5 bed stone property, 8kms from Chef Boutonne. Surrounding garden, garage and workshop.

PLIBOUX €267,500 Ref: 96955 Stunning 3/4 bed barn conversion with pool and garage in a hamlet location. 53kms from Poitiers and airport.

CERIZAY €82,500 Ref: 96667 2/3 bed house with garage and courtyard, in the centre of a small town with all amenities.

CHEF BOUTONNE €449,925 Ref: 96510 Steeped in history - 5 bed / 3 bath house with gîte, outbuildings and gardens. Private setting within a town.

Agency fees to be paid by the seller DPE: C

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

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

Agency fees to be paid by the seller DPE: B

Starting a new life in France? Want a new career? Leggett are always looking to recruit new sales agents. Call us for more info 00 800 2534 4388 or email: +33 05 53 60 84 88 46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2019