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ISSUE 1: MARCH 2011


THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Welcome to the first issue of ’The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’. My name is Sarah Berry and I am the creator of the magazine. My reason for the creation was simply because I felt we were missing out on information in this area. Other parts of France have English magazines that help both locals and holiday-makers and I now hope this will do the same for us in the DeuxSèvres and surrounding areas. You can pick up a magazine at a selection of Distribution Points throughout the Deux-Sèvres, the Vendée and into the Charente-Maritime, as well as La Rochelle and Poitiers airports. I have used valuable contributions from many sources for this first issue and I would like to thank everyone for their help and support. I would love to think that we can all be a part of this magazine. Please keep me informed of any events or things happening out and about, and also of your stories here in France. You can send any information to me, long or short, for consideration into the forthcoming issues. Just email: info@thedeuxsevresmonthly.fr And finally, don’t forget to check out the website www.thedeuxsevresmonthly.fr As a website designer, I hope it will serve us well! I aim for an easy to use, straight-forward site and hope the online business directory will offer a good port-of-call to us all if for example, looking for a tradesman or somewhere to eat out. I’m really passionate about this magazine and want it to be a success. I would be very interested to hear your comments...good or bad! Please call or email me... Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 or E:info@thedeuxsevresmonthly.fr Well, until next month, thanks for picking this up and I hope you enjoy the read!

Emergency Numbers: 15 17 18 119 115 113 112

SAMU, Medical Gendarmes, Police Pompiers, Fire Child Abuse Homeless Drugs and alcohol European emergency

CONTENTS

What’s On...............................................................................3 Our Furry Friends..................................................................5 The Great Outdoors...............................................................7 French Adventures................................................................8 Health, Beauty & Fitness......................................................9 Getting Out & About............................................................11 Building & Renovation.........................................................15 Communications...................................................................17 Business, Finance & Property.............................................18

THIS MONTH’S ADVERTISERS

Abord Immo.........................................................................19 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder)........................................ ....15 A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant & Auberge)...........................13 Allez Francais (Estate Agent).............................................19 Andrew Longman (Plumber)...............................................15 Animal Care ..........................................................................6 An English Nursery in France (Garden Centre)...................7 Articulation Aide (Joint Aid for Dogs)..................................5 Badger Inks (Printer consumables)....................................17 Courlay Immobilier (Estate Agent).....................................20 David Normanton (Handyman)............................................15 Eurl Philip Storey Construction (Builder).......................... 16 Hound Motorcycle (Classic Motorcycle Shop).................. 11 Indulgence Beauty............................................................... .9 Interface Consulting Engineering (IT)................................17 Jane Golding (Assistance in English)..................................18 Jo Ashforth (Phoenix Cards)...............................................13 John Etherington (Property Care).......................................19 Kalyn Computers (IT)..........................................................17 L.A. Building & Renovation.................................................16 La Joie de Vivre (Gift Shop & Tea Room)..........................13 Le Dragon (Bar/Restaurant)................................................14 Limalonges Alpacas (Alpaca breeding and yarns)...............6 Mutuelle de Poitiers (Insurance).........................................11 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology)..............................9 Paperback Jan (Books in English)........................................ 13 Philip Irving (Mini Digger hire)............................................15 Premier Autos (Mechanic)..................................................11 QPR Building Services........................................................ 15 R&B Construction................................................................16 RDK Roofing & Building Services...................................... 15 Red White & Blue (English groceries)................................11 Restaurant La Bergerie du Golf..........................................13 Sally Cox (Stained Glass Artist).......................................... .13 Sandy G (Hairdresser)......................................................... .9 Sarah Berry (Website Design).............................................17 Shiatsu79 (Holistic Therapy)..............................................10 Siddalls (Financial Advisors).............................................. 18 Ski-Hike-Bike.com (Chambre D’Hotes).............................. 9 Steve Coupland (Plumber and Renovations).......................16 Total Renovation Services..................................................16 VG Consultants (Consultancy Services).............................18 Woodworks France sarl (Solid wood flooring)...................16

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THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY

What’s On....March 2011 10th March. - Curry & Music night with ‘Troubladour’ At the old English Shop, L’Absie.(79) 15€ for 3 courses. Email paperbackjan@gmail.com to reserve your place before 3rd March. English Books & Groceries also available from 5.30pm 11th March, 5.30pm. - Quiz Night At the Salle, Puy de Serre.(85) Teams of 4-6. 8€ each, includes meal & drink. Contact: polly.ward@aliceadsl.fr / 02 51 51 64 29 12th March, 8.30pm - The French Connection Playing your favourite hits from 60's to the 80's Le p'tite Cuiller Bar, Pescalis, 79320, Moutiers sous Chantemerle. Free Entry. 25th March - Quiz Night                          Ecole du Chat, Les Pattes de Velours Quiz night Salle d'Albotte, Bouille Loretz 7.30pm Contact Helen Tait-Wright email: helentw@orange.fr 25th March - Dressage Masterclass. Saumort (79) at 2pm. Contact Jo Rowe:willjo@live.co.uk 25th & 26th March - 'Blithe Spirit' by Reaction Theatre La Chataigneraie. Tickets 10€ each www.reactiontheatre.fr 26th & 27th March Salon des Vins et Terroirs, Thouars 31st March - “Finding work in the Gâtine”. Seminar organised by Pays de Gâtine, Parthenay.(see p4) Books in English, Paperback Jan. 3rd March:Bar Le Palais, St Aubin le Cloud. 14h-17h and Le Chaudron, Chantemerle. 18h-20h 4th March:Bar de la Paix, Thours 12h-14h 4th March:Le Tipsy Bar, Coulonges-sur-L’Autize 16h-18h 5th March:Bar Le Français, Menigoute. 10h-13h 7th March:Le Dragon Bar, Vernoux-en-Gatine. 14h-17h 9th March:Le Trois Marie, Airvault. 10h-13h 9th March:Cafe Cour de Miracle 14h-17h 10th March:Bar Le Commerce, Chataigneraie. 14.30h-17h 11th March:Jan’s home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay,11h-16h 12th March:Le Chauray, St Maixent L’Ecole, 10h-14h 31st March:La Joie de Vivre, Moncoutant, 14h-17h

What’s coming up... ...early April

1st & 2nd April - ‘Blithe Spirit’ by Reaction Theatre Secondigny. Tickets 10€ each. www.reactiontheatre.fr 2nd April, from 7.30pm - Spring Dance. In aid of All Saints Vendée. Salle Municipale, St Maurice Le Girard Music by The French Connection. Tickets 10€ to include nibbles - bring your own drinks. Tel: Jenny 02 51 51 23 62 2nd April. Hope Association Spring Book Sale. 10am-3pm at La Ferme du Javarzay, Chef Boutonne,79110 Thousands of books at €1 or less, light refreshments available, or lunch at nearby Restaurant. Plenty of Parking. 9th April. Easter Fayre. 11 - 4pm at A La Bonne Vie Restaurant, Le Beugnon, 79130. For more info please email: restaurant@alabonnevie.com If you are new to the area, ‘The Pays de Gâtine's guide for newcomers’ may be a useful read. For information, advice and contacts, go to www.gatine.org.

Love Films? If you love a trip to the cinema, films are shown in English at Parthenay Cinema. For more information or to be kept up to date with screenings, email cinema.foyer@gmail.com. ...And don’t forget your popcorn!

Thank you to www.whatsoninthevendee.co.uk.

'Blithe Spirit' by Reaction Theatre March/April 2010

marriage to the priggish Ruth into a prickly ménage à trois. A truly witty exploration of the disruptive force of sexual passion and how it brings out the beast in the seemingly genteel... The play is being performed at three venues:

• La Chataigneraie(Vendée) th th Everyone's talking about Reaction Friday 25 and Saturday 26 March. Theatre after their blockbuster • Secondigny (Deux-Sèvres) st nd success last November with 'Allo 'Allo Friday 1 and Saturday 2 April. which had rave reviews and full • Vasles (Deux-Sèvres/Vienne border) houses for every performance. So th Saturday 9 April. full, in fact, they had to turn away some disappointed late bookers. Tickets cost €10 each – book early to avoid disappointment. This Spring they're back with a fabulous production of Noel Coward's Website: www.reactiontheatre.fr Blithe Spirit, complete with all the Tickets: reaction.tickets@yahoo.fr ghostly special effects and period set or +33 (0)5 49 63 41 09 that their loyal audience has come to expect. Blithe Spirit is an improbable farce about the haunting of Charles Bernadine Smith, Secretary Condomine, a suave novelist, by the Reaction Theatre ghost of his “morally untidy” first 0549 634109 wife, Elvira, who turns Charles’s staid page 3


THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY

Le Théâtre des Passions, 1697 – 1759

Over 60 works of art have been assembled here, coming from all over France as well as the Netherlands, Switzerland and the United States. But this is no ordinary exhibition of Nantes, Musée des Beaux Arts paintings. Some of the tapestries are so large they have not been rolled up Until May 22. since the eighteenth century. Others, This exhibition aims to bridge a gap in sketches mostly, so fragile that they our knowledge of French historical are normally kept in the dark in the painting, by taking a close look at depositaries of the Louvre. official royal painters working during The exhibition’s aim is to show a the end of Louis XIV reign, the process that goes back to Louis XIV’s Regency and under Louis XV. Antoine major official painter, Charles Le Brun, and Charles-Antoine Coypel, father best known for the ceiling of the and son, Jean-François de Troy and Galérie des Glaces at Versailles. His Carle van Loo may be little known posthumous “Method for learning how names nowadays, but they were key figures at a period when the operas to draw passionate feelings” (1698), and plays inspired by Racine and also on show, became the reference Corneille were the height of fashion, for artists of “le grand genre” – the and artists were commissioned to painting of historical subjects – for the whole of the eighteenth century. represent scenes from high tragedy for palace murals, ceilings and M a n y e v e n t s , i n c l u d i n g o p e r a , tapestries. concerts, ballet and talks on the

Numbers are limited, so please book your place by contacting: Julia Salvat on Tel: 05.49.64.25.49 or email: julia.salvat@gatine.org

For details: www.museedesbeauxarts.nantes.fr

by Jacqueline Karp. j.karp-gendre@wanadoo.fr Journaliste indépendante Membre: Société des auteurs de la Grande-Bretagne Syndicat national des journalistes de la Grande-Bretagne

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2011:

“Finding Work in the Gâtine” This meeting is being held at the Pays de Gâtine offices, Parthenay on Thursday 31st March at 09:30am. It will be presented in both English and French and there will be translators available to offer assistance. The seminar will cover seasonal work, temp agencies, issues such as where to learn the language, where to go if in financial difficulty, where to go if you have transportation difficulties, which offices are available to help you look for work.

theatrical expression, are programmed in conjunction with the exhibition.

• • • • • • • • • •

Saturday 1 January ~ New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an) Sunday 24 April ~ Easter (Pâques) Monday 25 April ~ Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Sunday 1 May ~ Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Sunday 8 May ~ WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Victoire 1945) Thursday 2 June ~ Ascension (l’Ascencion Catholique) Sunday 12 June ~ Pentecost (Whit Sunday-la Pentecôte) Monday 13 June ~ Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Thursday 14 July ~ Bastille Day (Fête nationale) Monday 15 August ~ Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption)

• Tuesday 1 November ~ All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint) • Friday 11 November ~ Armistice Day (Jour d’Armistice 1918) • Sunday 25 December ~ Christmas Day (Noël)

Royal Wedding Fever

Prince William and Kate Middleton's official engagement photograph by Mario Testino.

by Helen Tait-Wright As another issue of ‘Point de Vue’ hits the French news stands, full of speculation about this year’s forthcoming Royal Weddings, it makes me wonder whether the French are more excited about William and Kate than the British public. Most people I have spoken to back home are more interested in taking some leave to coincide with the Bank Holidays in order to get 10 days off work! I also wonder how our recession-hit little island’s big day will compare to that being planned in July, in the second smallest country in the world, for Prince Albert of Monaco’s wedding to Charlene Wittstock. Maybe that is why we are getting in first, as on paper it would seem that London cannot match the glamour of Monte Carlo. Both brides have big expectations placed upon them, following in the iconic footsteps of Princess Diana and Grace Kelly respectively and so far Charlene is looking much more groomed and confident than Kate it has to be said. In 1981 I was horrified at the first sight of Diana’s dress emerging from the carriage with the skirt crumpled, but luckily style has moved on so I don’t expect either of them to wear a meringue. It is rumoured that Charlene’s dress is in the hands of her favorite designer, Armani, and the hot money is on Bruce Oldfield for Kate. Last years Royal bride, Princess Victoria of Sweden chose a simple and elegant design, and both of this years brides certainly seem to favour a similarly chic style. Undoubtedly both dresses will be instantly copied worldwide. And what of the "other" Royal wedding, Zara Phillips to Mike Tindall? A quiet day for them? With the ceremony likely to be attended by the nations sports stars, arguably more beloved by the British people than the Royals, I think the press will be providing full coverage! So with around 60 days to go until the first big day by the time you read this, will the ex-pat community in France be gearing up for a day glued to the TV set? I shall certainly be watching!! page 4


THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY

Our Furry Friends... Joint Aid for Dogs Hello, my name is Melissa Kennedy and I have been a veterinary nurse for 15 years. I have worked in many different practices, from large animal to small animal and even a stint in a referral orthopaedic hospital. My husband and I moved to France nearly 4 years ago, with our old german shepherd and three cats in tow! What changes our family has seen! Unfortunately, we lost our old girl in April 2008. It was very sad, but in February 2009 we had our daughter Olivia. Since then we have got another german shepherd, (same age as our daughter), a nine month old labrador cross, 3 lambs and 10 chickens. Of course, we also still have our 3 cats. Am I ever bored? NEVER! Now although I have all this to keep me busy, along with the paperwork for my husband’s business, something was still missing. It suddenly dawned on me that I missed my nursing career. I knew it was not a practical option to continue with it here-although I can speak French, I am by no means fluent. I was approached by a company in the United Kingdom which sells a joint supplement for dogs. By chance I had actually used the product on our old dog, with good results. They were looking to launch the product in France and needed someone here,

who would be willing to do it. Joint Aid for Dogs has been established in the UK for many years and is now also in most European countries, the USA and the Far East. I jumped at the chance! It’s not nursing as I know it, but I still get to meet and talk with new people about their animals and help them along the way.

directly into the food. It is wheat and gluten free and contains two naturally occurring anti- inflammatory products. This product is safe to use with any dog over the age of 18 months, regardless of any other type of medication they may already be on. It simply assists the body in the natural regeneration of joints, ligaments and tendons.

Joint problems are a common complaint with dogs both old and young. Most of the time with the older dogs, it is a gradual slow down and a noticeable stiffness when rising after a sleep. Of course, these same problems affect younger dogs too. This is usually after an injury that has caused early onset arthritis, or even ligament problems more commonly associated with football players! What normally happens, is you visit your vet and the first course of treatment is painkillers. Yes, they work, but they do not get to the source of the problem. Your dog will feel better for a while, then the treatment stops and you are back to square one. It has been known for dogs to be on painkillers long term, but inevitably this will cause problems with the liver and other internal organs.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. As with any new product, there are always concerns. Our pets are not just animals, they are members of the family and much loved.

Joint Aid for Dogs offers a completely natural solution that is cost effective and easy to use. The dose is given once daily in the form of small pellets

Contact: Melissa Kennedy VN Tel: 05 55 56 37 36 e: joint-aid-for-dogs-france@hotmail.com www.articulationaidepourleschiens.fr

Shelby

HOOF (Horse Orientated Open Forum) The Hope Association, based in Deux-Sèvres was formed in the autumn of 2009 in response to the enormous and increasing need to help local abandoned and needy cats and dogs. www.hopeassoc.org It is NOT a refuge, but raises money to help save the lives and re-home where possible, dozens of animals which would otherwise have been condemned to a miserable life and often certain death. Volunteers are always needed to help. Perhaps you don’t feel you can commit to “fund-raising” or find the idea rather daunting.  Don’t worry,  we all have things we can do really well and you won’t know until you try, but even your smallest effort will make a difference. If you would like more information, please contact Siobain on 05 49 27 26 20 or email: hopeassoc@orange.fr

A group of like-minded Brits with an interest in anything equestrian who meet on average once per month, held at various locations mainly in North Deux-Sèvres or Vendée area. If you are interested in joining us in some adventures you can ring Jo Rowe on 05 49 64 22 67 email: willjo@live.co.uk

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SAM - A friendly young Griffon cross seeks a forever home. SAM is a lovely Griffon cross of about 1 year old. He was rescued from the local dog pound because he was on death row, and now needs a safe and loving home.  Sam is an young dog who loves lots of exercise, walks and preferably the company of another friend to play with.  He has a fun loving and friendly nature and can take all the love you can shower on him but is best suited to a family without very young children. Sam is micro-chipped 250268500276629, fully vaccinated and castrated, he also has passed his Rabies blood test and in a few months will have a full UK travel passport.  Sam is currently receiving basic training and he does need an understanding hand to control his boundless enthusiasm. A home in the country with a loving master/mistress, lots of walks, a good meal at the end of the day and a warm hearth, this is all any dog wants.  Sam is currently in the Deux-Sèvres near Melle. The Hope Association Tel: 06 14 39 97 18 or 05 49 27 26 20, email: hopeassoc@orange.fr  www.hopeassoc.org

Spain has a bad reputation for animal cruelty - many animals suffer horrendous treatment in the name of tradition when fiestas are held; bullfighting, stoning donkeys, horse wrestling.  The Galgo Espanol is another such victim.  This is the Spanish greyhound, once revered by the Spanish aristocracy, used primarily for hunting hares but also for racing, they are now considered vermin.  Yet they are the most gentle of dogs, known as 40mph couch potatoes for their tendency to climb onto the nearest sofa to sleep.  They are loving, affectionate, don't need much exercise, non-aggressive, don't usually bark...make wonderful pets.

Spanish hunters breed galgos indiscriminately, keep them in horrendous conditions, starve them because they 'hunt better', frequently beat them, and every January at the end of the hunting season, they dispose of their dogs without compassion - hang them from trees, drop them down deep wells, burn them alive, drag them behind cars, abandon them on motorways.  Over 50,000 of these dogs are disposed of in this way EVERY YEAR!   Thanks to people like Anne Finch of Greyhounds in Need UK and Fermin Perez of Scooby Medina, and indeed through the pages of my Galgo News, the world is now aware of the plight of the galgo and pressure is being brought to bear on the Spanish government and hunting and racing federations to put an end to this.  It is a slow journey, but some progress is being made.  In 2010 Catalunya region banned bull-fighting.  That is a start. http://www.galgonews.com

Sam

Join us on 17th April 2011. Dog Walk, St.Pardoux (79) To celebrate IDOD day 2011, a dog walk has been organized around the picturesque lanes and tracks of St Pardoux to raise much needed funds for Galgos del Sol (www.perrosdelsol.com) which rescues abandoned Spanish greyhounds (galgos) and re-homes them abroad. For more info email Beryl Brennan banddbrennan@yahoo.co.uk.

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The Great Outdoors... Busy Bee Corner by Mick Lawrence

Champdeniers at Les Grosseillers, called APIVAL. This was a super find - everything you need for keeping bees, plus all the products of the bee for sale and very helpful proprietors.

The next and most important purchase is a swarm of bees. These are available from APIVAL and I have ordered mine for delivery during April/ May. So, to recap: 1. Beehive, painted metallic silver and ready to place in the garden. 2. A swarm, ordered ready for the start of the season in April/May. 3. Awaiting confirmation of beekeeping course in Parthenay.

I purchased a hive ('ruche' in French) and special metallic silver paint to cover the outside of the wooden hive to help reflect the heat of the sun. With birthday money and Christmas presents (always difficult for family to know what to buy me!!) I now have a Having lived here in the Deux-Sèvres, smoker, a frame removal tool, a N e x t m o n t h I w i l l h a v e m o r e near Parthenay, for the past 5+ years complete suit with built-in headgear information and should know when the I have decided to start bee-keeping. If and special gloves. bees are arriving and have instruction you are interested I am happy to on placing the hive in the correct explain and share my experiences with I am hoping to start bee-keeping situation in the garden. you over the next issues of this classes in Parthenay soon, so I can magazine. pass on information in future ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazines. In October 2010 I found a bee-keeping shop between Secondigny and

The Amateur Gardener by Vanda Lawrence Well, Christmas and New Year are behind us, the spring bulbs are beginning to peek through the soil and seed potatoes have been on sale for a month or so in the garden centres, so it's time to get going again in the garden. Here are some jobs for March: Seeds to sow in March • Aubergine ~ March-April. • Broad Beans ~ Feb-March. • Carrots ~ March-July. • Cauliflower ~ March-June. • Celery ~ March-July. • Fennel ~ March-August. • Leeks ~ January-September. • Parsnip ~ March-June. • Peas ~ February-June. • Peppers~ March. • Radish ~ March-September. • Tomatoes ~ March-April.

Herbs to sow/plant in March • Bay ~ Plant in March-April • Chives ~ Sow seed in March-April. • Parsley ~ Sow seed March-August. • Rosemary ~ Plant in March-April • Sage ~ Plant in March-April • Tarragon ~ Plant in March-April • Thyme ~ Plant in March-April You will also find ready plants of Rhubarb, Strawberries, Asparagus, Garlic etc available in the garden centres, so if you are planning a new Strawberry or Asparagus bed, now is

the time to do it. Of course, if you haven't planted your potatoes yet, you have another couple of weeks - up until beginning of April. Get the hoe out and clear weeds from soft fruit bushes such as red/ blackcurrant and give them a good feed of fertilizer. Start planning your window boxes and containers. Once the frosts have passed you will be able to start planting up - something to look forward to next month.

'Les jardiniers du Poitou’

Get iPlayer in France! Assign yourself a UK IP address by going to www.expatshield.com and you will be able to use BBC iPlayer to watch those TV programs you’ve missed. Not available for AppleMac.

We are a group of enthusiastic, amateur gardeners based in the Gâtine area of Deux-Sèvres. Registered as a French Association, we are predominantly English speakers, however we welcome anyone who is interested in any aspect of gardening.    We meet in the afternoon of the fourth Thursday of each month, usually in the Salle des Fêtes at Verruyes, just south of Parthenay. Each meeting has a topic and a main speaker, although we also arrange visits to local gardens, nurseries and other gardening related events.   Each meeting at Verruyes, as well as the main speaker, includes a questions and answers session, plant and seed swap and a raffle, naturally all served with tea and biscuits. We also arrange visits to local gardens and chateaux, provide information about ‘what's on’ in the local gardening world and have an annual Produce Show. Membership costs 10€ per person a year for the first member in a family and 7 euros for any subsequent member. If you are interested in joining us, either contact us at  glynisbest@hotmail.com or simply come along to a meeting. You will be most welcome. page 7


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French Adventures... 2008 seemed as though it was shaping up to be like any other year in the UK. Dave, my new partner, and I had discussed opening a business in the UK, but I also owned a "maison secondaire" in the Deux-Sèvres, which had been purchased in 2003. This particular day we thought it would be nice to venture out and spend a few hours at the Kielder dam. Apparently a place of great natural beauty. I say apparently because we still have not got there. Part of the reason is because I was navigating and the other part is because Dave came to a sudden halt in a quiet back road. We had a short chat, and it was short really.   The next day we went to the travel agents, (who had obviously never heard of or booked travel to St Malo before), and within a couple of days we were sitting on a ferry, loaded with bags and boxes bound for a new life in France. It literally happened that quick. When we arrived, inside the house was cold with that smell and sight of damp which empty properties get, and once again  had reverted back to a  breeding ground for the insects and small mammals of France. We carried in our bags, as much as the car could have legally held, made our way through all of the packing boxes which had been deposited by friends, over my absent years,  from their  previous trips, and turned on the water and some heat.  By now it was getting dark. So it was just a case of finding some bedding, snuggling up  together to keep warm and heading off to the nearest bed.   Things should have been simple. Two people moving to France - into a house which had had several workmen doing jobs and looking after the property. Where there were barns and fields a plenty  to have a small holding and even  eventually create a small gîte or two. As they say - the best laid plans of mice and men.... Next morning we excitedly got up and dressed, ate what was left of the bought baguette from the journey down and made our way outside. Over the coming weeks the list of discoveries of  work which had been paid for, but which were disastrous to say the least just kept growing. The cost implications were mammoth and, like so many others who think they have planned their finances to last, the first doubts began to loom. The lesson learned being if you want work doing- get references from the person, see their work, check them out, be physically around when you can - just to show your presence if nothing else, never settle the bill

from a distance in the hope that all is well. It may be, but there again it may not! If you cannot be around and the work has to be done by a certain date, ask for photographs of your work as it progresses- daily if possible and via email. Only pay for the job when you can  physically see it and touch it. Sorry it may sound extreme, it's not, and it will save you some heart ache and the fact that you then need to call in some one else to re-do the work of the first person.   So, with severely lighter purses and wallets, added to many painful lessons learned, Dave and I made sure we vetted further workmen to our home and where we could do it, we did. One day we decided the time was right to introduce a couple of hens to our family. Dave can be quite a perfectionist, I am more a hammer in and go girl. I have to say his methods usually work, and he has a particular skill with a spirit level. I dislike them intensely, still being unable to use them with any accuracy. So when it accidentally got broken when building the hen house I could only offer a smile of 'oh dear me - how did that happen?'  Back to the hen house!  Well, we started building after clearing the area of brambles, (adding about an extra 3 metres to the working area), we cut down certain overhanging branches while leaving some for protection. Taking lots of "for future reference" photographs as we went. Four months later and 12 metres in length, plus a visit to the Mairie, we stopped. Still not a hen in sight, but boy were those panels and beams straight!  Finally we went off to get the hens, later the geese - who  we actually bought as ducks from the local market,  but it was a friend who said that due to the fact they were massive I was either over feeding them or they had a thyroid problem. Also they could not quack. Not bad really, because I said I would never have geese as I was frightened of them and probably I would have handled them slightly differently. Like from about 6 miles away! Inside our large hen dwelling, we had several individual hen houses now, and each time the supposed ducks got bigger we bought a larger house for them. Which just kept going and going.  Eventually we had to buy more hens and some real ducks to make use of the smaller houses that our geese should have been living in. We ended up with every thing from show bantams to geese. A large part of the field had now also been subdivided by tall fencing as some of the girls did not get on together. Yes, I know what

you’re thinking, but that was the way it was.  Farmers would go past us just to watch us and our "girls". The girls  would follow us everywhere and were a much source of joy and laughter. We began to believe in this dream of having a plot of land, and although none of them would never end up in the pot, we, plus all the neighbours, benefitted greatly from all of the eggs. We were in for the long haul. Or so it seemed, until one boxing day when I went into the garden to put our little yorkshire terrier out for his morning needs and I saw 2 rogue chasse dogs shredding our babies to pieces in front of my eyes. They had jumped not only the high perimeter fence but also the 3 internal ones, killing or nearly killing in some cases 5 very protective geese and 20 birds.  I ran for Dave and we managed to chase them off eventually, but the damage was done. The rest is too painful to disclose really, but a lot of French people were so nice to us on that dark day.   We decided to re-locate to a busy village near Parthenay, not what we thought we would ever do, but we decided we would retire there. Yeah right!  If I could have a euro for every time we have said or heard that, it just did not happen for us. We bought a business - an estate agency in Courlay. Together with our French secretary we are the team who make up  Courlay Immobilier and we are located at 58 Rue Saillard du Rivault, 79440, Courlay. Tel: 05 49 74 67 84 or have a look at our web site on www.courlayimmobilier.com    So we did not end up with our dream of having a small holding, but the garden and field which came with the house we bought is more than enough for us and we are doing something else now to keep our brains challenged and to meet with some interesting people and enter some fabulous properties. France is still the home for us.   Susan and Dave ALLEN

Courlay Immobilier (79)

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Health, Beauty & Fitness... A Positive Attitude! by Tandy Cassidy. The New Year brought many of us great intentions of shedding a few pounds gained over the festive season, or beginning a positive step to improve our fitness levels. But with many rural parts of France shutting the volets! and hibernating until the first signs of May Day celebrations, those great intentions seem to get lost and placed at the back of the shelf along with the muesli and detox plan. Unfortunately only 8% of people who set New Year’s resolutions have regular success? So how do we get rid of the post Christmas sluggishness and shed the few pounds? We all know that following a regular exercise program significantly improves our longevity; we also know that eating a healthy balanced diet reduces our risk of heart disease and boosts our immune system. So how do we become one of the 8% that seem to have such cast iron willpower? The answer is simple, Make it Fun! I would be the first to admit, a glass of full bodied Bordeaux Superior is much more appealing than a glass of water; but what makes it more enjoyable is going for a invigorating walk to the top of Le Mont Dore in the Massif du

Sancy, breathing in the pure fresh air and getting the heart pumping, to then chill out with a glass of wine in the mountain top restaurant. It just seems to taste so much better! When embarking on a journey to achieve a healthier, slimmer ‘you’ it is important that your state of mind remains positive, and not to feel you are forcing or depriving yourself. If you cut out something from your life, such as processed foods, wine or sugar, it is important to replace it with something else; preferable not whisky or smoking! But something that boosts your sense of well-being, brings a sense of harmony and lifts lethargy. It is also important to realize that a lot of poor lifestyle habits, such as an ‘unhealthy’ diet or poor exercise routine, have developed over a long period of time. So equally many new healthy habits need time to also develop; therefore taking small positive steps have shown to be more successful. So instead of starting the New Year with a huge lists of ‘I must stop… or I must not have…’, try setting a goal once a month, and try to follow this throughout the month; therefore creating a firm foundation to build on each month. Maybe begin with a plan to walk further each day, building up the distance. Research published in

the British Journal of Sports Medicine, shows that people who are active and take regular exercise, are far less likely to become ill than those that are less active. So not only will you lose those extra pounds gained over Christmas, you are also more likely to fight off those nasty winter bugs . But remember to keep it fun and positive, and reward yourself at the end of each month, maybe with a relaxing massage, or a night away. A positive attitude is the secret to living a good fulfilled life.

Les Chuquets Bed and Breakfast, Massif du Sancy, Auvergne (63)

www.ski-hike-bike.com

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How to Look Good (nearly Naked). Don’t worry this isn’t all about stripping off and baring all but the new season’s rules being re-written with a trend for a ‘matte’ look. VIE at Home always on trend have launched the Limited edition Beauty Secrets Eye & Cheek palette, a collection of silky, matte shades, just pure natural, beautiful colour. This beautiful little boxed set comes with blusher too with its own brush and a drawer holding the applicators for the eye shades. These gorgeous shades, Whisper, Secret, Hush & Confidential blend easily to create a classic look. Complimenting this nearly nude look is the cheeky satin cream blusher in Rose Blush which gives a natural healthy look. The Signature Colour Lipstick ‘In the Buff’ which is a semi sheer lipstick. Beauty Secrets Nail colour selection for those very

Living With Cancer Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres Moving to a new country is exciting. New opportunities beckon to enjoy a slower pace of life. There is probably a new language to learn, new customs to absorb and new friends to make. How devastating to then be diagnosed with cancer. Family and friends are often far away and everything is new, from going to the doctor to dealing with the French healthcare system. Even if you have lived in France for several years the prospect is daunting. Cancer Support aims to help English speaking people affected by cancer. It is a network of affiliated associations under the umbrella of Cancer Support France. The aim is to support individuals and their carers. This is done in several

expensive french looking nails. Satin & English and carries our range of Shine Lip gloss in Natural Beauty to skincare, make-up, aromatherapy, make those lips look fuller. homeware, jewellery and coming shortly our new Organic  Mummy & And finally to give a dewy healthy Me range. look, the double ended Glowing Beauty Duo Highlighter-fabulous and should VIE at Home (formerly Virgin Vie) also be in everyone’s bag! This 'magic' offer opportunities to work in this wand gives two options one for day, fantastic company. You can work the one for evening and gives you that hours that fit in with your other dewy, radiant look. So there you have c o m m i t m e n t s , e a r n g r e a t f r e e it: How to Look Good (nearly Naked)! products, take advantage of all the amazing incentives offered and so Lots of ladies tell me they never go much more. If you love skin care, out without their lipstick on even if it’s make up and working with and meeting just to the Boulangerie. So is Lipstick, people then  what are you waiting power dressing in a tube? Yes it is. for?  Full support and training onIt brightens us, makes us feel more going and a career path if you want to confident and instantly lifts the take it. Please call or email me if you'd complexion. Don’t forget our fantastic like to know more. Lip Plumper for full-on pouty lips. Whether you want to look good (nearly Naked) or slip on some power dressing in a tube we've got it all at Suzanne Thorne VIE at Home. Vie at Home Group Sales Manager France Please call Suzanne for your free Tel: 05 49 26 27 74 catalogue now. It is available in French

ways: by being available on the telephone to listen; through visits at home or in hospital; by helping you ask the questions you want to ask; and by directing you to other sources of advice and help, including written information. Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres was the first affiliated association formed in 2005 and has a team of trained volunteers including fluent French speakers who are able to help you when dealing with the excellent French health system and language is a problem. They can accompany you to doctor’s and hospital appointments. There are members within the group who are trained active listeners. Some of our volunteers, both male and female, have experienced cancer themselves and so understand first hand the emotional effects of the disease and the treatment.

From time to time we hold events to raise awareness. Recently we held a mechoui to which about 100 people came and at the end of November one of the team competed in and completed the La Rochelle Marathon along with 10,200 participants. During the third week of September each year a Cancer Support Awareness Week is held. All these events are mainly to raise awareness, but have the additional advantage of helping us raise funds too. If you need help or advice about cancer or just need to talk to someone, please call June Searchfield (President) on 05 49 64 59 96 or e-mail junesearchfield@gmail.com www.cancersupportfrance.info ALL CALLS ARE TREATED IN THE STRICTEST CONFIDENCE.

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Getting Out & About... Burns Night, 12th February 2011. Held at the Salle de Fete, Fenery.

Members of the Linazay PoitouCharente branch of the Royal British Legion and ex-pats living in the commune of Fenery, held a traditional Burns Night in the Salle de Fete, Fenery on Saturday 12th February 2011. The event was attended by 100 people including over 60 French from Fenery and surrounding communes and RBL members from the branch area. The evening included the parade of the haggis, whisky toast and Burns supper followed by poems and music performed by Gavin Anderson on bagpipes and guitar and ended with Scottish dancing. Captain Will Rowe who chaired the evening, presented a cheque for 300 Euros to the Mairie of Fenery, Sybil

Mary, for use by the young and older residents in the Commune, as a thank you from the ex-pats living in Fenery for making them so welcome in the area. A cheque for similar amount will be presented to the Royal British Legion Branch to help towards their work in providing financial, emotional and social support to those who are serving or have served in the Armed Forces and their dependents. Information on the work of the Royal British Legion and how to become a member can be found on page 2. Captain Will Rowe BEM Royal British Legion Linazay Poitou-Charente Branch Northern Sector Co-ordinator.

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Building & Renovation...

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If the A-TEAM have a problem and no one else can help.....who do they hire?

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Communications... Using your PC – Which internet service should you choose ? by Ross Hendry. Since moving to France in 2008, I have been asked many times, who is the best supplier of Broadband / Internet Access services in the area. Unfortunately it is not that simple, as there are good and bad areas for each supplier. When choosing my own broadband service for France, I had to decide what qualities I required in the service. The main priorities in order were Cost, Reliability, Speed and Customer Service. I applied the same rational to choosing my supplier in the UK, where I have many years of experience providing IT support, to both businesses and private customers, with a high communications and network support bias. So priorities in France changed to Reliability, Speed, Customer Service and Cost, here’s why. Historically both the UK and France had nationalised telephone services. Once the monopoly of these services

was opened up to competition, both British Telecom (BT) and France Telecom (FT) saw their prices for call charges challenged aggressively by the new providers on the block, but were somehow able to maintain the administration and maintenance of the infrastructure – the actual telephone cables and exchanges. With more competition, prices were converging and cost was reducing in importance. Reliability and Speed followed by Service then Cost seemed to be the way to go. In my experience, this means that these two providers, BT for the UK and FT for France, have the edge in service provision. France telecom also have the edge here in France for us expats, on the Customer Service side as they have an “English speaking” help line service. To my knowledge only one other provider in France has this, UK Telecom, unfortunately, they have to rely on FT to resolve any line problems as does every other supplier. So I chose France Telecom / Orange, simply because when I get a line fault, quite regular in my area, with

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lightning striking the line or some eager technician forgetting to isolate my line before he works on some other problem in the exchange and blows up my modem/ router!!, etc, I know that any line fault will be looked at as a priority, and I am able to communicate my problem directly to an English speaking technician. I am certain the FT/Orange providers are not the cheapest, but I am sure there is not too much difference between them and SFR, Alice, UKTelecom, et al if you shop for the deals. However, I am certain from my local experience that my customers with FT/Orange (80% of my customers use FT/ Orange) get faster response to their customer service requests than the other French services I have experienced. Probably the worst part of the FT/ Orange service is the hardware, the infernal “Livebox” one of the least reliable modem/routers available, if you do have to have one, rent it, do not buy, because they are very unreliable and volatile. You only need one if you have calls via the internet, or require the Television Service through it, if not buy a Netgear or Lynksys, less than 50€ for one with wireless and far more reliable. Whatever you use, just remember to protect it using a surge protector for both the Electric and Telephone circuits. FT/Orange have one for 8€50 it is called a “Parafoudre”, available at FT/Orange shops. Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing operates from his home on the DeuxSevres / Vendee border, provides IT and Communications support to Expats. website: www.seowise.co.uk.

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Business, Finance & Property...

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Questions & Answers... Question: I live in France and currently pay all of my taxes in the UK as I haven’t chosen to become tax resident yet. But I am worried whether this is the correct thing to do, should I register here for tax? Answer: Your country of tax residence is actually decided automatically and you do not have a choice in the matter. A British national living in France will normally fulfil internal residence criteria for both countries and the “Double tax treaty” sets out which country can claim your residence. If your “home” is here you will normally have no choice but to declare your worldwide income for tax in France. The French authorities should give you credit for tax paid in the UK. The tax return for your 2010 income should be filed by the end of May 2011 at your local “Centre des impôts”. Question: I am resident in France and have cash ISA’s and some money in the building society in the UK. Do I have to declare it here as it is currently taxed in the UK? Answer: If you are tax resident in France then all worldwide income must be declared here in France. Unfortunately, the interest on cash ISA’s is taxable here in France as well as any interest derived from other UK savings. Income tax is charged at your marginal rate and “social contributions” (CSG etc) which are an additional 12.3% must be paid regardless of whether you actually pay income tax. However, you can complete Inland Revenue form FD5 (France Individual) confirming your tax residence of France, to allow the interest to be paid gross in the UK. David Hardy, Regional Manager, Siddalls France 05 56 34 75 51 www.siddalls.fr

Your feedback is appreciated. Please send your comments to: Email: info@thedeuxsevresmonthly.fr or call: 05 49 70 26 21. page 18


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Money & property matters No 1 No matter whether you are on holiday, live here permanently, or regularly switch between France and the UK, undoubtedly one of the greatest influences on your life is currency exchanges. Unlike the stock markets, which tend to go up together and fall (sometimes crash) at the same time, currency markets work differently, and as one currency goes up, another falls.   The movement of the exchange rates is especially important for people on fixed incomes, relying on pensions or investments for example. As the graph below shows, the £ was riding high at 1.225 € on 30th August 2010 and yet within a very short period had fallen to 1.12 on 25th October (-8.57% in under 8 weeks).    

  This makes budgeting very difficult for ex-Pats living abroad, and many will have arrived when the exchange rate was a heady 1.50 € to the £. This has forced some to rethink their retirement plans and return to the UK. But the currency volatility can apply to house sellers of course, and someone signing a compromis de vente in late October, when rates were around the 1.12 € mark, would have expected around £233,215 for their 250,000 € home, but if they completed in early January 2011, There are ways that you can improve your situation. If you are having a pension paid, for example, you can probably get a better deal by sending the money quarterly rather than monthly, and DON’T use a bank ! We have been using specialist currency exchange dealers for all personal & business transactions for a decade now, and can get preferential rates for our clients. For large property transactions, forward options are worth considering. We have full details available upon request by e-mail. (See footnote).   Turning to property matters, you may have noticed the introduction of socalled, Energy efficiency reports. A legal requirement for all property announcements post 1st January 2011, all advertisements, (office, leaflets & internet sites), have to carry an energy rating for a property, and have a detailed report available for a prospective buyer.   Another change, effective from the same date, was the need to provide a report of your fosse septique, ahead of signing a compromis de vente. This is in addition to the reports also required for termites, lead, asbestos, electricity, gas, energy and natural risks. So, when you buy a house today, you start with a rather comprehensive dossier.   Peter Elias (Agent Commercial) SARL Allez-Français www.allez-francais.com e-mail sales@allez-francais.com ~ Tel 05 49 27 01 22

CARP LAKE FOR SALE. Beautiful 6 acre Carp lake, huge fish stocks with Carp and Catfish in excess of 50lbs. Cabin and toilet/shower facilities. Fully booked for 2011. Area 87. For more information, please call 06.37.12.34.41. page 19


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The Deux-Sevres Monthly - March 2011