The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine May 2019 Issue

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Welcome! to Issue 97 of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

On the journey back from the UK Anna had been working her way through a family pack of Skittles when she yelped, as a large section of one of her back teeth broke off (the offending tooth had been threatening to jump ship for quite a while). It was time for our first visit to a French dentist...being a supportive husband I went with her. The nearest dentist we were able to register with was in Loudun, which is quite a way from where we live. To lighten the mood I offered to stop off for a packet of Skittles, but received a withering look. Anna told me that Loudun is the dental capital of western France having three surgeries she could have gone with. We had heard stories about French dentsits, but the practice was very modern and all the staff welcoming. After ten minutes in the waiting room she perked up when the dentist appeared, a young man with film star good looks. Anna had google translated some key phrases ‘my tooth fell out’, ‘it is very painful’, ‘how much will this cost?’ but left the piece of paper at home. After being offered constructive surgery or extracting the stump that was left, she went for the latter. I don’t know if it was just this practice or France in general, but there was no dental technician to hold the sucky tube and offer up the pink liquid at the end. Half an hour later Anna reappeared and managed a smile, at which a ball of cotton wool fell out of her mouth. Whatever travails you are going through this month, we hope they come and go. Maybe a cup of tea and our May issue of the magazine will bring you some solace.

à la prochaine Stephen & Anna

Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:

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

This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) All Seasons Cleaning Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) ARB French Property

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45 39 2 37 22 43 38 47

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 Cabinet Papin Immobilier Café Rendez-Vous (Bar and Restaurant) Chat-eau (Luxurious Country Cattery) Cherry Picker Hire Chez Lou (Upholstery and Furniture) Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) CJ Electricité Clean Sweep Chimney Services Cosmetic Contour Darren Lawrence Discover Yoga Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Green and Tidy (Gardening 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 Jon the Carpetman Keith Banks Pool Services La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Lac (Restaurant and Bar) Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction MD Project Management Me and Mrs Jones (Property Cleaning and Services) Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) Mike Glover (Plasterer, Tiler, Renderer) ML Computers Motor Parts Charente Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Naturalis Pools 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 R J Coulson Building Services R J Coulson Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Re-upholstery) Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Satellite TV Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) Simon the Tiler Simply Pools (Fibreglass Pools) Smart Moves - Removal company Smart Services (Home and Garden Services) Steve Coupland (Property Services) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) 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 Funny Farm Cat Rescue The Hope Association The Hope Association - Big 3 Day Book Fair The Lush Lawn Company This Month’s Advertisers Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini (Translation Service)

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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: mai 2019 - Tirage: 5000 exemplaires. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 3

What’s On... VIDE GRENIERS: 1 - Fenery, Sainte-Verge, La Boissière-en-Gatine 5 - Echiré, La Crèche, Luché-Thouarsais, 8 - Les Fosses, Melle 11 - Cerizay 12 - Chenay, Faye-sur-Ardin, Lezay, Prahecq 19 - Aiffres, Bressuire, La Mothe-Saint-Héray, Le Tallud, Saint-Rémy 26 - Bessines, Pougne-Hérisson, Usseau, Vasles 2-4 - MUSICAL SPECTACULAR - REACTION THEATRE. See page 13. 3 - LIVE MUSIC WITH ROUTE 66 at Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne. See page 31 for more information. 4 - LIVE MUSIC THE MOONSHINE CLUB at Café Rendez-Vous, L’Absie. More information on page 6. 4 - WILD PLANT RECOGNITION WALK IN ARGENTONNAY (FR). 10am-11am, price 5€ on registration tel: 09 51 75 99 98. 4-5 - MINERALS AND FOSSILS FAIR in Thouars (FR). Exhibitors present their collections in the orangerie of the château. 11-12 - COLLECTION TOMATO SALE. Calling all tomato collectors! This sale of over 70 varieties as well as other shrubs is at Château de Mont-Boisé, 85700 Saint Mesmin (15 minutes from Puy du Fou) for more information tel: 06 37 00 46 62 or see the poster on page 6. 11-12 - AMERICAN SHOW in La Chauvière (commune of Asnières en Poitou). Organised by a club of enthusiasts of American vehicles, this show is all things American. See poster on page 6. 12 - MOTHER’S DAY MARKET AND VIDE GRENIER in Saint-Léger-de-Montbrun. 15 - FRENCH COMEDIAN MICHEL VUILLERMOZ LECTURE on Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables as part of the sixth Festival Culturissimo at Le Moulin du Roc, 9 Boulevard Main, Niort at 8pm (FR). Free entry. 17-19 - HOPE ASSOCIATION BIG 3 DAY BOOK FAIR in SauzéVaussais. 10am-4pm. See poster on page 6. 18 - ART ARTISANS SPRING MARKET in St. Loup-sur-Thouet. From 2pm-10pm, free entry. Guided tour of the village at 4pm, concert in the church at 6pm (FR). Poster on page 7. 18-19 - FEAST OF ART in Sciecq. The town streets will be filled with painters exhibiting and competing. Music from 5pm. 19 - FARMERS’ MARKET in Ardilleux. Plants, farm products and crafts plus a vide grenier. Lunch available, free entry and parking. 21 - MUSIC AT SCHOOL (FRENCH SONGS) in Mauléon (FR). Bringing together children from schools to perform French music. 23 - THE GREEN BOOK (Film in English) in the Salle Belle Epine, La Châtaigneraie. Starting at 8pm. For other venues showing films in English see page 15. 24 - 4 July - THE WORLD OF CLOWNS ACROSS NOUVELLEAQUITAINE (FR). The ‘Very Large World of Clowns’ is doing its rounds for the 9th edition. In Niort for 14-16 June. Full program on 24-26 - FÊTE DE LA BROCHE in Lusseray. Celebrating 304 years of

the well built by Jean Broche in May 1715 25-26 - AMERICA Niort. A weekend dedicated to the US and American vehicles. Full program: Poster page 7. 27 - MEMORIAL CEREMONY at L`Absie. For more information see the article on page 7. 31-2 June - VINTAGE MARAIS FESTIVAL in Saint-Hilaire-la-Palud. Exhibitions, retro concerts, walking and cycling throughout the Marais. Full program at

contact ‘The DSM’

1-2 June - Elephant Haven Information Weekend. See poster on page 7 for more details. 15-16 June - Highland Games. Château, Bressuire. 15-16 June - Ouverture d’ateliers d’artistes Val de Gâtine 2019. The sixth edition will be taking place throughout the weekend. A chance to visit some artists’ studios between Champdeniers and Ardin.

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 1 and 15 - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine (Wed) 3 and 17 - Genneton: Café de la Mairie (Fri) 10 - St. Martin de Sanzay: Café de la Pompe (Fri) 24 - Les Cerqueux-sous-Passavant (49310): Restaurant Fleur de sel (Fri) Tel: 06 04 14 23 94

FROM 6.30pm

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*(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 TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Painting Workshops. Please see EVERY WEDs AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book Afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. 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 FRI 6PM-7.30PM - Line Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. Contact: or 05 49 10 37 80. EVERY SUN 2PM-5PM - Chats de Châtillon Adoption/Visiting afternoon. All other times tel: 06 85 63 55 94 EVERY OTHER THURS AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 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.

what’s COMING UP...

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 We will be closed from Sat 11 to Tues 21 May inclusive 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 1st May 8th May 26th May 30th May 9th June 10th June 16th June 21st June 14th July 15th August 6th October 31st October 1st November 11th November 25th December

Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Victory in Europe Day (Fête de la Victoire) Mother’s Day (Fête des Mères) Ascension Day (Ascension) Pentecost (Pentecôte) Pentecost (Lundi de Pentecôte) Father’s Day (Fête des Pères) World Music Day (Fête de la Musique) Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) Assumption of Mary (Assomption) Grandfather’s Day (Fête des Grands-Pères) Halloween 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 2: 6: 8: 13:

Chef Boutonne Limalonges Aigre Theil Rabier

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm


Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking

Mon: Charroux Tues: Sauzé-Vaussais (main square) Weds: Chef Boutonne (near château) Thurs: Sauzé-Vaussais - Eve (main square) Fri: Ruffec (Baobab car park)

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, May 2019| 5

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

Stunning Cards for all Occasions ! Masses of Carefully Selected, Quality Gifts for Friends, Family, The Home … or just to treat Yourself !

DELICIOUS HOME-BAKING Cream Teas, Cupcakes, Brownies, Carrot Cake, Rich Fruit Cake …

Samedi 11 et Dimanche 12 MAI



Journées de vente

au Potager duréservéesChâteau aux amateurs

White Tomesol

Tomate Orange Tomate Ananas

Tomate Verte Green Zebra

de curiosités potagères...

Find us on


Vente de Citrons Caviar Plantes comestibles d'exception...

JOURS FÉRIÉS IN MAY : Wednesday 1st - Closed all day Wednesday 8th - Closed all day Thursday 30th - Open 10.00 - 12.30

Brocante de Jardin...

Le Potager d'Autrefois ...

Tomate Zébrée Feu d'artifice

Dans un véritable potager fin XIXe, venez découvrir plus de 60 variétés de plants dans nos serres à l'ancienne. GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

Tomate Blanche

Château de Mont-Boisé - 85700 SAINT-MESMIN

Tél. 06 37 00 46 62

Siret: 47876969800018

Tomate Noire Nyagus

SIRET 493 238 943 00010 - Ne pas jeter sur la voie publique.

HOPE ASSOCIATION helping animals in need


17th, 18th & 19th May 2019 • 10a

m - 4pm



of Thousands ch n e English & Fr & s CDs books, DVD , for all ages ar, & Burger B Hope Café Pois Chic, & chips... Mr T’s fish ore ! & much m

bric à brac, pre-loved clothe s, artisan market st alls, animal welfare associations, Eddie’s cards, Mary’s plants...


0 Ansac-sur-Vienne HOPE 16 Le Four à Chaux, La Tulette 1650 é-Vaussais Sauz 0 7919 y HOPE 79 17 Route de Civra utiers Eymo 0 8712 Paix la de ue Aven 11 87 HOPE N°RNA W792002789



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, May 2019

Memorial Ceremony at L’Absie

by Will Rowe and Laurent Jouffrault of the Conservatoire de la Résistance


n the 27 May a day of celebration will be held to remember the French Resistance in WWII, and a special ceremony will take place in memory of their work alongside the British Commandos of the SAS and the SOE (Special Operations Executive) from Team Harold - namely Major Whitty, Lieutenant Joiliet and Sergeant Harry Verlander (wireless operator). Their mission was to organise and train the French marquis, receive weapons and ammunitions from British parachute deliveries and set up attacks and sabotage against German troops. They were dropped during the night of 15 June 1944 near the farm of Margat, about two kilometers north-east of L’Absie . In order to celebrate this mission a ceremony will take place at the memorial monument (at the crossroads to Largeasse and Margat). In attendance will be many patriotic associations, school children with songs and Keynotes Choir. It is also anticipated that Mrs Verlander, widow of Harry Verlander, will travel from England to attend the ceremony.

I scream, you scream... SERVING ICE CREAM AT A VENUE NEAR YOU!

by Tina Malcolm


ce cream purveyor Vintage Ice, is one of two traditional ice cream vans in France.

This fun little van will serve ice creams of your choice for weddings, anniversaries and other celebrations. We can serve some of the most popular flavours at festivals and fêtes to delight any audience. Make your event special with impromptu photos in front of Esta (our van), which will look truly fabulous and unique in any photo album. Everyone loves ice cream, whether children or adults, so go on why not create a special day or event and say it with Vintage Ice! We also sell soft-serve (Mr Whippy) which is a must for anybody who has not experienced this traditional English ice cream (or for those who have!), so come along and ask for your 99 treat! Vintage Ice is based on the 86/37 border but Esta is willing to travel. We look forward to serving you!

The various groups will assemble in the car park by the L`Absie Marie at 9am and walk to the memorial monument of the ceremony to start at 9.30am.

©wikicommons/Le Comite de Liberation du Cinema Francais

Bee swarms collected - bee nest removal undertaken from shutters or under roof tiles. For advice/help or swarm removal phone: 05 49 87 52 37 or email: or message

For more information go to:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 7

Walking For Violet by Suzette Jeapes


rom the 6 September to the 6 October 2019 my 62 year old husband, David, will be walking from our house in Saint-Pardoux (79310), France to Hastings, East Sussex (where our granddaughter Violet lives). This will take 30.5 days door-to-door.

(our local bar has planned a raffle and bingo night for us). We are also hoping that some people might want to join in for part of the walk and ask friends to sponsor them. In France, we are asking if people can help by offering him, and his support driver, a bed for the night along the route (either at a reduced rate or free?). In the UK we are going to ask local B&Bs to sponsor a room for them. Sponsors will be offered a digital photo and a logo-link on our website.

He will be travelling through departments 79, 49, 72, 61 and 14 to the ferry, and arriving at Portsmouth. He will then be walking along the coast from Portsmouth to Hastings. David is following the GR36 hiking route in France and the coastal route in the UK, it is just over one million steps. The support vehicle will be an old, shabby Citroën 2CV and his mascot (Simon-the-Bear) is the 'retired' mascot for the Metropolitan Police, Public-Order Training Centre (POTC). Simon retired to France with one of the instructors. David is fundraising for our four year old granddaughter who has ‘complex needs’ and we will also be making a donation to two charities; one in France (APEEIMC), and one in the UK (SCOPE). People can help by either sponsoring a car sticker or item of clothing with their company logo on, or holding their own fundraising event

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor

I’ve never been a great one for theme parks in the UK, so when I heard that the Vendée is home to the award-winning Grand Parc du Puy du Fou, I was not unduly impressed. Big mistake! Yes, it may be billed as a theme park, but it’s unlike any other that I’ve ever visited in the past. The whole park is based on an historical theme, from the reconstructed medieval town to spectacular shows to restaurants, with entertainment included. I eventually agreed to go to the park for the daytime entertainment (more about the other options later) a couple of years ago. We’d been advised to check on the internet the evening before our visit to make a note of the show times. Just as well that we did, because it was a real logistical operation to ensure that we managed to see all the major shows as well as some of the other entertainment around the site. In the end we did see all that we’d planned, but lunch was just a quick snack on the hoof to make sure that we didn’t miss a thing. We decided to buy tickets en période jaune for a reduced price visit in May or June. It was also a lot less busy than visiting in July or August which apparently can be quite manic (and very hot!). Just a word of warning - as the park continues to grow every year, it’s now virtually impossible to see all the attractions in just one day. There are five hotels on site though, so you could take advantage of one of their package deals which includes the park and an overnight stay (or two!). The two other types of events at the Grand Parc are just as interesting.

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

If you would like to sponsor David or find out more about his walk go to: The evening show, la Cinéscénie, is hugely impressive, though it only takes place during the high summer (and the tickets get booked up well in advance). And finally their Christmas show really puts you in the festive mood, but make sure you give yourself plenty of time to wander round the village and park as well - it might be your only chance to experience snow in the Vendée this winter! Fact file • The first Cinéscénie evening performance was in 1978. Due to its popularity, the Grand Parc was created in 1989 as a daytime attraction. • The Cité Médiévale opened in 1995, and the Bourg 1900 in 2004. • Since 2012, the Puy du Fou has regularly won international awards for theme parks and shows. • A Puy du Fou-style Cinéscénie opened in County Durham in 2016, with a theme park opening there in 2020.

Karen wandering through the Cité Médiévale in Grand Parc du Puy du Fou

Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

En mai fais ce qui te plaît! by Sue Burgess


f in April, you shouldn’t cast off layers of clothing too quickly, in May, you can do as you please (en avril ne te découvre pas d’un fil, en mai fais ce qui te plait – the equivalent of our ‘cast ne’er a clout till May is out’). But, perhaps don’t peel off too many layers until after the Saints Glace - the ice saints: Saint Mamert, Saint Pancrace and Saint Servais (11, 12 and 13 May). No French gardener will bring out his geraniums nor be seen in shorts until after these dates. In popular beliefs, these saints are invoked by farmers to protect the crops from the cold nights which can still bring frost. Especially as this is the time of la lune rousse (the moon which becomes a full moon at the end of April or the beginning of May). Farmers say that buds can freeze on a clear night even if temperatures stay slightly above freezing. Can’t find the ice saints on your calendar? In 1960 the Catholic Church decided to replace these saints with three others, who have no connection to these superstitions. The first of May is labour day and a bank holiday (jour ferié). The trade unions march through Paris, and there are demonstrations in a lot of the larger towns. Have you got any lily of the valley (muguet) in your garden? Anyone has the right to sell lily of the valley anywhere without declaring their takings to the taxman and the flower will bring you good luck all year round. It is the only bank holiday which is also chômé (employers can not ask their employees to work) and everything is closed on 1 May. In parts of Charente-Maritime and Deux-Sèvres, a practical joke is played during the night. Anything metal which can be moved is taken and left outside the town hall. So if you wake up and find your wrought iron gates are missing, wander down to your town hall to retrieve them! The 8 May is also another bank holiday and celebrates VE day 1945. There are ceremonies at the war memorials of most towns and wreaths of flowers (des gerbes) are laid. Ascension day (l’Ascension) falls at the end of May this year, with the possibility to faire le pont and take an extra day off (Friday) and have a long weekend. Quand il pleut à la saint Servais, c’est mauvais signe pour le blé. When it rains on Saint Servais’ day (13 May), it’s a bad sign for the wheat. Avant Saint Servais point d’été, après Saint Servais, plus de gelée. Before Saint Servais’ day, it’s hardly summer. After Saint Servais’ day, no more frost. Mai frileux, an langoureux; mai fleuri, an réjoui; mai venteux, an douteux. If it’s cold in May the year will be hot and lazy, if there are a lot of flowers, the year will be happy and if it is windy in May the year will not be so good.

la fête du travail..........................

labour day

This month’s front cover of ‘The DSM’ shows the beautiful Château du Theil in Saint-Aubin-le-Cloud. The château and its grounds are open to the public on: • Manifestation des Parcs et Jardins (8 - 9 June) • Between 1 July - 15 August • Journées du Patrimoine (22 - 23 September) For more information tel: 05 49 70 09 01 or go to:

faire le pont ...............................

to take an extra day’s holiday and have a long weekend

Emergency Numbers:

roussir ........................................

to scorch the grass brown

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: le muguet ................................... lily of the valley un brin ........................................ sprig le porte-bonheur ......................... good-luck charm

la lune rousse .............................. the ‘scorching’ moon

15 SAMU (Medical Advice) 12 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol 17 Gendarmes (Police) 18 Pompiers (Fire Service) The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 9

Eat, Drink and be Merry Beauvais-sur-Matha Wine Fair


by Françoise Teillet

eauvais-sur-Matha stands on a hill overlooking vineyards and cereal crops. The houses of old charentaise stone are clustered around the central square which is lined with linden trees. Every summer, for the past 27 years there has been a growing trade fair taking place in the square, showcasing French wine and regional produce. This is a must for all those who love to discover and enjoy new tastes and to rediscover the taste of the terroir in a warm and friendly atmosphere. The various wines from all the wine regions of France, cheeses, foie gras, delicatessen and other specialties will once again be available for visitors to sample next month on Sunday, 2 June. Many producers will have stands displaying what they have made with passion and patience and will invite you to delight your senses by trying them.

Segora International Writing Competitions 2019

Presentation Day, Saturday 14 September

by Jocelyn Simms


his event will again be held in the delightful Salle de Cloître, St.André-sur-Sèvre (79380). Everyone is welcome to an entertaining day of readings from prize-winning entries to the Segora Competitions of 2019; including a presentation of the winning play, adjudications and short talks from the judges and lunch in the delightful Jardin de Cloître. Full programme, with optional workshop, to be arranged. To register please contact Jocelyn Simms: 05 49 80 22 96 NB: closing date for entries 15 June.

You will be given a brochure of the various participants and three proof of purchases will give you the chance to win a prestigious weekend in Relais et Châteaux! The various artisans look forward to welcoming you to the fair, sharing their knowledge, expertise and produce with you, in the kind of friendly and pleasant atmosphere that good food and drink can create.



live in the picturesque village of Saltwood, above the seaside town of Hythe which, in turn, is near Folkestone - not far from Dover. I just keep going with the description until I mention somewhere people recognise. It is quite possible to see the coast of Calais from Folkestone and in certain places such as Saint Margaret’s Bay, my mobile phone will burst into life and tell me that I am now in France, welcoming me to a new network. This is all well and good but it simply adds to the disappointment of the fact that I am still in Kent! At such times it becomes necessary to rush off to Normandy for the day and get our fill of French culture and cuisine before heading home once more to our phantom France. Living in such close proximity to the European mainland means that we often look to their weather forecast which can be more accurate than the one for Kent. If the weather is inclement or strike action and protests are looming in Calais, our local barometer for such issues is the traffic jam of lorries waiting to cross to France. This is known locally as ‘operation stack’ or indeed ‘the Brexit car park’. It is a vexatious issue where I live and many people will get extremely aeriated about propositions for lorry parks. To be fair, when it is bad, the area grinds to a halt and nobody can get anywhere. It is like one of those endless dreams where you are trying to get from A to B but are thwarted at every turn. (It usually means you are worrying about an exam or something and feeling anxious – except in this case, the worry is getting from A to B and being thwarted at every turn!) Of course, the tragedy is that I can find myself sitting in miles of static traffic, having accidentally joined a motorway, which every other day of the month will take me five miles to the next junction in five minutes, only to find that today it has turned into a lorry park from my deepest nightmares, stretching as far as the horizon.

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

by David Edge

Even when the traffic is free-flowing and all is well, the craters that proliferate on our major roads can potentially destroy your car. Some still insist on calling them ‘potholes’ for reasons that escape me - if pots were as big as some of these holes, you could not physically lift them to cook with! Therefore you must take your pick between being a movie stunt driver or a rallycross (or should that be bally cross!) driver. Either way, it is not good for the stress levels. In contrast and to a degree that borders on the sarcastic, once you dismount Le Shuttle in Calais what do us shell-shocked and quivering Kent drivers find as we emerge cautiously, blinking into the light? Long, quiet, peaceful main roads with not a pothole to be seen! Just kilometre after kilometre of calm and tranquility – it’s just not natural! Well, it may not be natural but it makes a welcome change to the mayhem and misery just across the water. Vive la France!

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

Across: 1. Conqueror of Gaul and master of Italy (100 - 44BC) (6) 4. A city in north-eastern Germany (6) 8. Talk (5) 9. Recover through digging; bring to light (7) 10. A socially awkward or tactless act (5) 11. An intellectual; a very studious and academic person (7) 12. (Ancient Rome) the leader of 100 soldiers (9) 15. A thief who enters a building with intent to steal (7) 16. 3rd letter of the Greek alphabet (5) 17. French car manufacturer (7) 18. Affected with madness or insanity (5) 19. A sea in northern Europe (6) 20. Not being in a specified place (6)

Down: 2. Earnest or urgent request (6) 3. Army rank above corporal and below warrant officer (5-8) 5. Massive dinosaur with forelimbs longer than hind legs (13) 6. Take a siesta, sleep for a short period (6) 7. Nonelective government officials (11) 13. Exclamation; ancient Greek meaning “I have found it” (6) 14. A major South American river (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

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

What has to be broken before you can use it? What starts with a P, ends with an E and has thousands of letters? John’s mum had four children. The first called April, the second called May and the third called June. What was the fourth child called? Some months have 30 days, some months have 31 days. How many months have 28 days? What has wings but can’t fly, legs but can’t walk and eyes but can’t see? There are 10 people on a boat and nobody is below deck but not a single person is in sight. How is this possible?

Q7: Q8: Q9:

Down 1. Make an impression over which button to press to get out and find a way down. (7) 2. Spilt load being nothing to shout about! (2, 3, 4) 3. Dynamo available if game not reconvened. (7) 4, 23 Across. Unseen result of the worst of doe there being redistributed? (3, 4, 3, 3, 5) 5. Glamour girl at home in starting to post unusual photos? (3-2) 6. Wisdom of keeping old washing powder? (3) 7. Spot worker losing his head, but eventually becoming respected dignitary? (5) 12. Wood Caledonians long for? (5, 4) 14. Most respected ex-pupil found with a number in animal home? (7) 15. A number not implicated in disgraces are known to be light on the feet? (7) 16. Ladder missing a central rung put up against a tree? (5) 17. Heights of dispute occurring in Legoland? (5) 20. Male birds at the back of the boat, reportedly? (3)

What English word has three consecutive double letters? A woman shoots her husband, then holds him underwater for five minutes. Next, she hangs him. Right after, they enjoy a lovely dinner. Explain. Can you work out the well known phrase or saying from the visual clues? a.




The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 11

Answers on P.43 and our website:

Across 1. Tough material dug out of the earth? Quite the reverse! (5) 4. Wooster’s excellent hoop let loose? (3-4) 8. US insult makes one cry bitterly? (3) 9. A tale less tragic than the author’s usual fare recounted under this tree? (9) 10. A couple under par after mixing ale for example? (5) 11. One being against giving work to one sitting? (7) 13. Spotted how Eno replaced something to watch with mother? (3, 10) 16. Played fast largo arrangement with the French? (7) 18. Captain’s mate is so out of line in demure hairstyle? (5) 19. Direct lie retold to get a quantity of water? (9) 21. Palm oil present in vitamins? (3) With thanks to M.Morris 22. Annex or throw out altogether a subject of police refrain? (7) 23. See 4 Down.

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


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

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

AL-ANON Support Group

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


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


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.

Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres

Aims to improve the lives of people affected by Cancer in the Deux-Sèvres. Please contact the team on 06 40 77 27 35 or visit

Franglais at Bressuire

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

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019


Craft Café Creatif

Please visit the branch website:

Do you enjoy knitting or sewing in the company of others? Join us in L’Absie for an enjoyable afternoon over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. For details contact Mary Phillips on 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: CLE (Charente Limousine Exchange) is a non-profit organisation for exchange of news, views and information. We run social activities, events and clubs, helping members to make new expatriate and French friends. John Welch 05 49 87 90 33 contact@ or

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

TTL Photography Group

Local photography group on the Deux-Sèvres/Vendée border. New members always welcome, all levels of expertise and knowledge. We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 1pm at Pause! L’Absie (79240). Feel free to pop in and join us. 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. Acceuil des Villes Françaises - A French association dedicated to welcoming newcomers, from across France & abroad, to their new environment; helping them integrate, speak French and feel ‘at home’ through social events.

Franglais Anglo-French Group Thouars - Centre Socio-Culturel

We meet every Wednesday 7.30pm-9pm, at 7 rue Anne Desrays, for conversation in English & French, for a mutual understanding of each other’s language and culture. Contact 05 49 66 35 11 or email jpc. or

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


Come and join us. Learn at your own pace within a mixed group of English and French speaking people, in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Every Thursday 8pm-9.30pm. Contact Penny 02 51 63 31 21 or Ray 02 51 61 28 69.




his year, 6 June will be the 75th anniversary of Le Débarquement in Normandy, the largest amphibious military invasion force in history. From the point of view of victory in Europe, this was seen as the most pivotal action precipitating the downfall of Nazi Germany and a cause of great pride for the Allied forces. We are only too aware of the ultimate sacrifice made by those who gave their lives for the liberation of Europe, by the numerous Commonwealth War Graves either amassed in dedicated cemeteries or amongst the local inhabitants of village churchyards throughout this nation. But what of the civil population of France?

Whilst travelling down from Cherbourg after a recent trip to the UK, I started seeing the brown signs for places that have become synonymous with D Day: Utah and Omaha Beaches then an ordinary place name signpost for Sainte-Mère-Église, the centre of the dropping area for the 82nd Airborne Division. After Caen there is the Canadian Military Cemetery at Cintheaux, next to the main road, then the names of places associated with the battle for Normandy, Falaise and Argentan. As I pondered all these places, further towards home, another brown sign caught my attention indicating the place of a massacre of a civilian population, it was that of Maillé between Tours and Châtellerault, a place of which I had not heard. Although the summer of 1944 was a time of triumph it was also the cause of many atrocities visited upon the French people. Emboldened by the landings and imminent liberation, Resistance fighters stepped up attacks on lines of communication. The response from the occupying forces was to carry out reprisals on innocent civilians. Living in this area, we are probably all aware of the most notorious of these attacks at Oradour-sur-Glane where 642 civilians were massacred on 10 June 1944. The day before, 99 were murdered at Tulle then on 12 July another 11 at Vif, 24 August 68 more at Buchères and the day after, when Paris was being liberated, 124 civilians were murdered at Maillé. Atrocities were common throughout France until German forces withdrew entirely. From 6 June to 24 July 1944, men from B Squdron SAS were active in our region operating around the forest of Saint-Sauvant disrupting German reinforcements moving north to counter the Allied invasion. The action was designated Operation Bulbasket but was cut short by betrayal to German forces resulting in great loss, the full story can be found at: Operation_Bulbasket The SAS Regimental Association will be visiting to lay wreaths on the graves of their comrades at Rom and Verrières on 23 and 24 June. A full programme of events is given on our website below and all members of the public are most welcome to attend in support of these ceremonies. The fact that many Allied soldiers were caught and executed probably saved the local population from the reprisals seen in other areas. It remains a fact that many French civilians were murdered or deported to work/ concentration camps from May 1940, until final liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944, and one wonders how many more crimes were perpetrated by the retreating occupation force.


by John Blair

Hopefully by the time you read this article you will have seen or booked for our spring production which is a selection of songs from some of the great musicals of the past. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Reaction Theatre script reading group to select a play that matches the type our audience would like and one which caters for the age range of our actors. So this spring they decided that we would be better using our strongest group, the Keynotes Choir for our spring production. However, we needed to present something other than a choir line-up, so evolved the excellent idea of having a Musical Spectacular in a cabaret setting, in two of our local restaurants, rather than a theatre. And why not have a finger buffet included in the entry fee! So the L’Ecu in Secondigny was chosen for 2-3 May and Le Lion d’Or in Saint-Hilaire-de-Voust for 4 May. Tickets available at: A great idea, but the timing could have been better as we had also been invited to sing at the cathedral in Luçon with the Choraline Choir on 10 May! An opportunity none of us wanted to miss. But this event requires a completely different selection of songs. This has put a lot of pressure on our three musical leaders, Margaret Round, Linda and Aidan Fairlie and also our choir members. We have all responded well though and thanks to our leaders and extra rehearsal dates, we are ready for both events and eagerly looking forward to these very different musical programmes. We hope you will join us at one of these performances and why not come to Luçon on the 10 May? It starts at 9pm.


During the last two years the Keynotes Choir has added a new dimension to its repertoire by including a wider range of instruments to accompany its choral pieces. At present the ensemble consists of violinists, a cellist, bassist, flautist and a number of keyboard players. It would be wonderful if we could increase the number of players so that we could attempt additional orchestral pieces. String players will be particularly welcome, especially those with orchestral experience or at around grade eight standard. Rehearsals will normally be in Fenioux and concerts will take place regularly in local churches. So far this year the choir is scheduled to perform in May at Luçon Cathedral and in June at three venues on the Île d’Oléron. If you would like to join us or discuss this further please contact Aidan Fairlie on 05 49 16 98 78 or fairlie337@



avalia included / Bar


The other Reaction Theatre groups, Scottish Dancing and the Art Group, are now running regularly. More details from our website: www. or John Blair on: 05 49 63 23 50.

Best wishes, John

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 13

Hobbies Crossing the genres...


hen I started pounding on my keyboard, I just wanted to tell a story. But there was a problem...the publishing/ by Alison Morton book trade likes distinct genres and asserts that the book-buying public likes to know what it’s getting. I had to decide in 2012 what slot or genre my first book fitted into if it was going to be marketed successfully. Which shelf would it be on in the bookshop – thriller, romance, historical, alternative history, adventure fiction, coming-of-age, military fiction? I discovered it was categorised as ‘cross-genre’. What is cross-genre? Essentially, fiction that blends themes and elements from two or more different genres. In contrast to single genre, it offers opportunities for opening up debates and stimulating discussion in ways that single genre books can’t. ‘Genre-busting’ is a more dramatic term increasingly used in reviews, blurbs and on retailer product pages. Some examples of cross-genres Adventure thriller, comedy thriller, crime fantasy, historical romance, comic science fiction, romantic suspense, historical crime – combine any two, three or four as you like! Why cross the genres as a writer? Creative people don’t always feel comfortable working within the confines of an established category. Many an author has written a well-crafted story with emotional punch; their agent loves it, their publisher loves it, but they don’t know how to package and market it. Quality cross-genre fiction has the huge advantage of potentially reaching more readers by appealing to multiple audiences. Today, thanks to the rise of online booksellers and easy access to digital publishing, there’s plenty of room on the infinite virtual shelf for books that defy conventional categorisation. Readers, not publishing conglomerates, are the gatekeepers and can feast on exciting new story concepts with few boundaries. The essentials of successful cross-genre fiction writing Choose one lead genre. Using a primary genre and following its traditional conventions gives the story a framework and will make marketing easier. It also helps you focus as you develop the plot, especially if you are a ‘pantser’1 rather than a plotter. When you bring in other genres, stick to their conventions as well or you’ll annoy readers who know those genres well. Use your essential writing skills and your previous writing experience. Spreading your story across different conventions still means good writing, editing and research. But if you’ve successfully written in another genre, e.g. science fiction, and decide to write historical romance, you already have well-developed worldbuilding skills essential to historical fiction. And you are aware that conventions/rules apply to every genre. Ensure your characters are strong, deep and flexible enough not to be tethered to any one genre. Characters should be able to stand on their own two (or four) feet. Ask yourself this: if you were to pluck your character out of the novel and set her/him down in an entirely different place/time/circumstances, would the reader still care what happens to her/him?

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to David Edge and Nigel Thomson for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

STRAIGHT OUTTA CRAWLEY Memoirs of a Distinctly Average Human Being by Romesh Ranganathan In writing this highly entertaining memoir, the secret is out. It’s no good playing the cynical, disinterested ex-teacher with me Mr Ranganathan! I’ve read your book. I know that you care and that it all means a great deal to you! If you are either a fan of Romesh Ranganathan’s work or interested in the stand-up comedy circuit – maybe even having aspirations to be a part of it – then this book is an absolute must! I found myself bursting out laughing many times through the selfdeprecating and sometimes shocking thought processes of this tortured genius from deepest Sussex! The phrase ‘warts and all’ may be a rather hackneyed one but there were times while reading of the struggles of Romesh – through childhood – as a young teacher and gradually having to make the decision to take on the comedy clubs full-time – that I had to remind myself that it all turned out alright! It is not often that somebody is quite so honest and even brutal about their own shortcomings – often in very personal ways. However, be warned! It is usually a ruse deployed in order to deliver a killer denouement that will have you laughing out loud in an empty house. This leads the reader to feel great empathy and warmth for a performer - whose public persona at least – doesn’t always lend itself to such kind thoughts! by David Edge

LONG ROAD TO MERCY by David Baldacci A new series character has been introduced by the author – FBI Special Agent Atlee Pine. There have been many female characters in his books but this is Baldacci’s first one with a female lead. Special Agent Pine is on a mission to find out what happened to her six-year-old twin sister. She believes that notorious serial killer, Daniel James Tor broke into the family home and abducted her twin – Mercy. Tor is languishing in a high security prison in Colorado and Agent Pine has been assigned to a remote area of the state not far from the Grand Canyon.

Crossing and mixing genres gives you not only creative freedom, but a marketing edge. You can write a vast range of posts on your own blog, appear on different genre groups as a guest, gather knowledge and expertise in many fields, widen your writing skills and offer something extraordinary to your readers.

She has now been called in to investigate a strange case in the canyon when a mule is found dead with strange markings on its body. The rider is missing and an extensive search of the canyon fails to find anyone.

Happy writing!

Agent Pine has experience of killers and understands them, but it becomes clear that her skills will be put to the ultimate test in this investigation. While determined to solve the mystery, the nightmare of when her sister was taken is omnipresent in her thoughts. by Nigel Thomson


someone who flies by the seat of their pants.

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, May 2019


by James Luxford

If you’re a little bit overwhelmed by the superhero-packed summer, we’ve got you covered! Here are a handful of dramas and comedies from some of the biggest stars in Hollywood, as well as our verdict. Mid90s (Out Now) Comedy star Jonah Hill gets very serious in his first film behind the camera. He directs this story of a teenager in (you guessed it) the mid-1990s who finds brotherhood and identity with a gang of skaters. Created with a raw honesty that, at times, can be uncomfortable to watch, this is a warts-and-all portrayal of growing up that will resonate with most viewers, regardless of background or age. A strong adult cast including Lucas Hedges and Katherine Waterston lay the foundations for their younger co-stars to deliver authentic performances. A captivating coming-ofage film that heralds Hill’s arrival as a film maker. THE AFTERMATH (1 May) Kiera Knightley plays the wife of a post-war military officer who is forced to share her home with the German widower (Alexander Skarsgard) who previously owned their new house. Emotions flare in a period drama that never quite gets going, despite the quality of the cast involved. The context in which the story is set will be interesting to those with a passion for history, but overall there have been many better dramas that have covered similar ground. WHAT MEN WANT (15 May) Film fans over a certain age will be familiar with the 2000 Mel Gibson comedy What Women Want, which was no classic but has received an interesting remake which flips the script. What Men Want stars Taraji P. Henson, a sports agent who gains the ability to read men’s minds, and uses it to advance her position at work and in love. Co-starring comedian Tracey Morgan, the film is packed with easy gags but very little insight into the differences between the sexes. A fun night out but little more than that. LONG SHOT (15 May) As well as being an accomplished dramatic actor, Charlize Theron is also a hilarious comedy star and teams up with Seth Rogen in this story of a Presidential hopeful (Theron) who impulsively hires a free spirited journalist (Rogen) to become her speech writer. It’s a culture clash comedy with a political twist, which wins you over thanks to the amazing chemistry between the stars and the heart beneath the gags. One of the more satisfying comedies you’ll see this year.

Release dates are nationwide in France.

Meet the President ...

by Janet Greenwood


s I mentioned in last month’s article, the association OpenGardens/JardinsOuverts has undergone a change of president this year. Founder and previous president, Mick Moat, resigned his post last year when he and his wife decided to return to the UK. In February 2019 a new president was elected at the AGM. We now have a lady president, Karen Roper, who has lived in France for 17 years and has dual nationality. Karen has a background in rural estate management and is a qualified Chartered Surveyor. She loves gardening, garden design and all things creative. Karen’s primary objective as president is to build on the ethos of OpenGardens/JardinsOuverts, bringing it to a wider audience and also to attract more sponsorship funding wherever possible. Although the statutes define that the main aim of the association is to raise money for charitable causes, Karen feels that the activities of OpenGardens/JardinsOuverts reach out far more widely than this. “We are creating new networks of people across the country interested in gardening and in sharing that passion and conviviality” said Karen. “We want to grow this structure in order to be able to continue to make valuable donations to our chosen charities but I also value the opportunities being created for personal participation. As we become more aware of gardening as an aid to physical and mental health of people of all ages, the association is delighted to be able to contribute to and encourage this aspect of social wellbeing, as well as any environmental and economic improvements to society. I look forward to the teamwork that will make this happen over the coming years.” So, everything to look forward to in the gardening year! Keep an eye out for more news on OpenGardens/JardinsOuverts in ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’.

Karen Roper the new president of OpenGardens/JardinsOuverts


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, May 2019| 15

Vultures in France - The photographic side of life


have taken photos and printed them since I was in my teens, spanning a period of some 60 years, but I have never been a portrait, people, or animal photographer. The people I do not regret, the animals and birds I do. They are a whole different kettle of fish compared with the buildings, rocks, trees, etc. that I usually take, and they present different photographic challenges. When we think of animal photography, David Attenborough’s great TV series and the photo reportages in National Geographic, the amateur cannot hope to attain that level. And so one has to determine one’s limits financially and physically – and socially too, if one thinks of one’s family – and tailor the coat to suit the cloth.

I, like many an amateur photographer, have worked my way up the digital camera chain from a lowly 4 megapixel compact to a semi-pro full-frame camera of 22 Mpix with the appropriate lenses. The latter I used a lot for church wall paintings, but less so for general use. A couple of years back, I bought a cheap and very light APS-C camera (bottom-of-the-line-but-one), it became a camera of choice, and I eventually bought three modern but cheap, plastic-body APS lenses to go with it. I print many of my photos on a digital printer, then frame and display them, and if I can, I exhibit them locally in the Deux-Sèvres. The cropping that I might use, the quality of the printer, and the size of the prints and their viewing distance determine what is required from the camera in terms of resolution. However, resolution is not the end of the story – automatic exposure, autofocus and white balance play critical roles, and it is undeniably true that the more expensive cameras have better automatic systems. But for me, what fulfils the requirements is good enough – I drive a Renault, not a Mercedes. The most critical point of the cheaper cameras is the autofocus speed, accuracy, and tendency to ‘hunt’. Apart from the search for scenes, viewpoints, and light conditions, there is the ever-present juggling of the adjustments of the camera to make the best of the available light. The vultures at Doué Zoo were no exception to this rule, and even for the birds sitting peacefully, it was necessary to have good sunlight to obtain the contrast necessary to get details of the feathers. A step up the learning curve involved capturing the few flight-capable birds flying down from their perches to get their daily meal. Indecisive creatures that they are, they walk back and forth high up in the amphitheatre and then suddenly launch themselves downwards, attaining a speed of perhaps 20 or 30 kilometres per hour. Using centre-spot focus, I followed the bird down in the two seconds of its flight, clicking the shutter at appropriate moments when its feet were clearly off the ground and hoping for the best. I tried this with various combinations of lenses, with a range extender, and with and without tripod, until I found one that worked. A normal 1.4x range extender will not work properly or not at all with a F5.6 lens, but, luckily, I found one designed for use with APS-C lenses that did work quite well with a long telelens. 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

by Howard Needs

But under the conditions at the zoo, the lens’s autofocus was hunting too much for it to be useful. Not only that, the reduction in sharpness of the combination meant loss of detail in the feathers and thus a rather mediocre result. Having seen the captive birds in the zoo, with their damaged wings, hopping around dependent on their keepers to provide them with food had not prepared us for their beauty in the wild. We spent tens of hours watching them gliding, soaring, circling on the air currents, on the wind. With their nearly three metre wing span, their compact bodies, with neck and legs well tucked in to reduce air resistance, they glided past us at speeds of 30–40 kilometres per hour. I put the lessons learnt at the zoo into practice using the lighter telelens (55–250mm) for the birds closer by and the long one (a heavy 100–400mm) for the birds way out in the valley. Finding the birds in the viewfinder was not the problem that I had anticipated, nor was following them in general; however, the automatic systems did get confused. Using the long tele with the bird nicely in the view finder and the centre focus on its body, a half press on the shutter release caused the bird to vanish. The lens stabilizer had moved from its rest position to an extreme position before coming into operation. The answer to that problem was to wait until it had settled down and then re-press the shutter release, because the system stayed operational some time after the initial push. The auto exposure compensation needed was, of course, different for a valley or forested background than it was for a blue or clouded sky. As for the autofocus, this remained a problem during shooting because it was hard to check the results on the camera screen. I used the following strategy: with a blue sky or white cloud background, I used the nine focus points that my camera has. This usually neatly caught the bird in the field of view. I used the same setting for birds close up with a valley background, but for birds a bit more distant, the autofocus had a tendency to focus on the valley background, and so I had to use the centre point, which was hard to keep on the bird. Looking at the day’s results in the hotel that evening, I noticed that my tablet had problems in decoding the RAW files at full resolution. The camera screen was not very useful, and so a proper evaluation was not possible. However, once I got back home and put everything on my desktop computer (I don’t possess a laptop) and patiently viewed the holiday with the standard lens corrections, I found that many of the photos were really quite good. Over the Christmas holiday, I started printing for an exhibition, and although many photos had to be junked, there were quite a lot that stood up to A3+ enlargement. There were slight problems of overexposure, with an accompanying loss of detail on the wing edges, that cannot be compensated for in the camera because following a bird over 120 degrees means that the contrast conditions can change dramatically. All you can do is use common sense and hope.

Both pictures are of Griffon Vultures photographed by Howard in the Provence.

Makin g a pa ne lle d skirt Part 2

by Nicola Chadwick

Inserting the zip. Many people are afraid of inserting a zip. If you follow these simple steps, and take your time, then your zip will be perfect!

drafting the In part 1 of this project we covered 8 panelled an e mak to d nee you e panel piec s you can skirt. In part 2 we look at the method missed part use to sew the skirt together. If you at: www. 1, then just head to my blog page ble for this Most medium fabrics would be suitatly different sligh a you style, they will all give d? You will look. How much fabric will you nee your panel of th leng the e twic hase need to purc or take the if the fabric is 125cm or less in width, to help them ask and shop ic fabr the to panel you calculate. You will also need: ¼ metre of medium weight fusible • rfacing inte zip and some matching thread 20cm a • se to bind • some bias binding (if you choo ) skirt the the inside of and eye fastener chart below, • a hook ts in your measuremen on the handyvisit my blog Step 1 - Fill ing.prehensive guide you can also t sew Let’s e com mor for astar n finish, ly dclea of all a love nloa PDFsdow for ga give t. A facin skirt creawais the steg to deli a facin .mo lying at www App page too! the lines rted neck inse and s have I hole ple arm exam hing finis t. For this d for char goo the culasrly and parti e step it’s thes in PINK for you to follow, average measurements for a size 12e your own measuremen ts pattern titut subs haveleto se sing cour facing piece, i.e. the one we made a 8 times g the usin are of youwill Ifyou e piec ern patt the out cut s! to one d nee pink forinthe part 1, then you will for the fabric pieces to give them in fabric and fusible interfacing. Fuse ther as illustrated below. Press toge them sew then some strength and e for now. If you want to know the seams open and set the facing asid a look at my blog. more about fusible interfacing take

1. Having left the seam open where the zip is to be inserted - press your seams open, so that you have a nice crease along the stitch line.

2. Turn the skirt so the right side is outside. With the right side of the zip facing downwards pin the zip to the seam allowance of the skirt, with the teeth lying next to the crease line. Sew the zip in place, 3mm away from the zip teeth. You will have to stop as you get towards the bottom of the zip. Leave your needle in the work to make the next step easier, lift the zipper foot up and zip up the zip so that you can continue to sew to just below the metal base of the zip closure. 3. Pop the zip inside the skirt and press it from the right side, gently flattening the crease you pressed in before. 4. Now pin the zip into position again as shown and top stitch it from the right side.

Finishing the facing. For a lovely neat skirt, bind the hem of your facing. Yourfinish on the inside of your local fabric shop will have a wide selection of readymade bias binding.

all 8 skirt panels and stitch Sewing the main skirt panels. Take right sides together, leave together, placing each piece with insertion. Press the seams one seam open by 20cm (for the zip) hod, this may be a zig zag open and neaten with your chosen methave one. stitch or an overlocker is perfect if you

placing the facing Finishing the waist line. Finish the waist line by her. Fold the toget sides right with piece to the skirt waist line sew along the and side each 1cm by seam zip the at back facing waist level. Now flip the facing inside the skirt and press, you will have a lovely waist finish! You can either hand sew, or machine stitch the ends of the facing overlaps by folding them back and securing to the edge of the zip tape, just be careful not to catch the zip teeth. Now you have made one skirt, why not experiment with length and flair and create as many different versions as you like! Nicola The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 17

Home & Garden

A Bug’s Life

Creature Corner This month’s creature:

The Insect


by Steve Shaw

ne of the topics for discussion at our franglais group was 'what am I doing to encourage insects into my garden?'. I think of myself as an environmentally friendly sort of person: I recycle my tins and cartons, I turn the tap off when I'm brushing my teeth, I switch the lights off my wife leaves on. This discussion coincided with a report I saw on the news which suggested that 40% of insect species are undergoing 'dramatic rates of decline' around the world. The study says that bees, ants and beetles are disappearing eight times faster than mammals, birds or reptiles. It gets worse, researchers say that some species, such as houseflies and cockroaches, are likely to boom. The general insect decline is being caused by intensive agriculture, pesticides and climate change. Where we live in rural France, we are surrounded by farms and fields. I noticed one of the fields near us, which had been full of grasses and wild flowers, over a couple of days changed from a vibrant green colour to a lifeless brown. Whatever had been sprayed on the field annihilated everything. I could see why the insect population is diminishing with such intense farming. I derive so much pleasure watching the wildlife in my own garden: the diverse range of birds of all shapes and sizes, the bats flitting around the house in the evening, even seeing the new mole hills that have popped up fills me with a sense of curiosity. But when it comes to doing things for the insect polpulation, I fall short. So inspired by franglais I have decided to rectify that by introducing some simple changes into my garden this year.

Not a sheep pen but my compost corner. Things that should not go on the compost heap include tea bags, citrus peel, onions, pet poo, coal fire ash and sawdust from treated wood.

Provide food and water for birds all year: Garden birds are some of the most conspicuous of garden wildlife, and easy to attract with supplemental feeding. Over the winter, food can mean the difference between life and death for many, especially when winters are particularly cold. Ideally, offer a mix of food including peanuts, sunflower hearts, seeds, kitchen scraps and fat balls, or proprietary seed mixtures, to supplement natural food such as berries and seedheads. Don't forget that a supply of clean, unfrozen water is just as vital for feathered visitors – and ensure feeding tables are not accessible to cats. Don’t be too tidy: Piles of leaves and twiggy debris provide both food and habitat for many species. Piles of stones also make good habitat, particularly for hibernating reptiles and amphibians tuck them away in hidden corners, at the back of borders or even behind the shed.

A few simple suggestions : Add water: The single easiest way to add wildlife value to a garden is to install a pond, however tiny. A large pot or even an inverted dustbin lid in an out-of-the-way spot will do. Ideally, do not introduce fish (as they will eat anything that moves) and allow water plants to colonise naturally. Make sure ponds have at least one sloping side to allow creatures an easy way out. Most wildlife, including amphibians such as newts and frogs, like shallower water than is generally thought. We were lucky enough to inherit a pond when we bought our house, but the pond has a leak so we have to keep topping it up with the hosepipe which rather negates its green credentials. Leave a pile of dead wood in a shady spot: Decaying wood provides a habitat to a range of wildlife that is growing increasingly uncommon in the countryside, such as stag and bark beetles and their grubs, as well as many species of fungi. It also provides cover and hibernation sites. Any unstained or unpainted wood is suitable, although big, natural logs are best, ideally partly buried. Compost: Composting your garden waste helps all your plants and wildlife, as it speeds up the natural recycling of nutrients by harnessing native decomposer organisms (saprophytes), especially fungi and soil bacteria. Compost heaps also shelter many small creatures (and some larger ones, like slug-loving slowworms and grass snakes), which enjoy the heat released by decomposition.

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My soil is littered with stones, so my ‘rockery’ will only grow.

Allow a patch of grass to grow longer: Allowing patches of lawn to grow longer will provide shelter for small mammals such as wood mice, voles and shrews, and food for some butterfly caterpillars. Scatter wildflower seeds to create a meadowland: We have lost 96% of our diverse, species-rich meadows since the 1950s, so recreating them in the garden can help redress the balance. They are great for insects, low maintenance, and make a more natural

What If... insects disappeared? • A world without insects would be a very different place. The food chain would collapse. Animals that mainly eat insects, such as birds and frogs would go first, then the animals that eat birds and frogs and so on. • Flowering plants, including trees and many crops that humans grow for food would die without insects to pollinate them. • All plants would lack the nutrients they need to grow, without insects breaking down plants and dead animals that fertilize the soil. • Plant roots would lack the underground air they need, without insects burrowing into the soil and creating air spaces.

My wild flower meadow is still in its infancy, so here is a picture of how I imagine it will be. © wiki commons/Marathon/CC BY-SA 2.0

alternative to a labour-intensive lawn. Mowing paths through meadows invites exploration. Garden sustainably to help protect wildlife: Synthetic pesticides are not only toxic to more than the target organisms, they are extremely energy intensive to produce, so employ them as a last resort whenever possible. Avoid peat-based composts, choose sustainably-sourced wood for patio furniture, recycle all you can, and save water wherever possible.

Interesting insect facts: •

Make a rock garden: Rock gardens and gravel beds are low maintenance, need little watering, and attract specialised wildlife such as mason bees, which are important pollinators. Choosing the right flowers: Avoid too many highly-bred cultivars with big and blowsy or double flowers, most of which contain little or no pollen or nectar. Choose plants that provide pollen and nectar for as long a season as possible. Grow a mix of trees and shrubs: Grow a range of trees, shrubs and climbers, or a mixed hedge to provide food and shelter. Larger plants, unsurprisingly, support more wildlife. As well as providing food in the form of flowers, fruits and seeds, they provide cover and nesting sites for garden animals, from insects to larger species such as birds.

• •

Moths can’t fly during an earthquake.

Some moths don’t have mouths. After coming out of their cocoons and developing into adults, they don’t eat. They simply look for a mate and lay eggs, which they have about a week to accomplish before dying. Synchronous fireflies, sometimes flash their lights in unison during the two week-long mating season, creating quite a light show.

• •

My small, but beautifully formed, new log pile, which will break down over time and grow, as I add to it.

There are more insects in the world than any other group of animals. Scientists estimate that insects make up to 90% of all species of animals on the planet. They can be found in almost every habitat, and have been around for more than 400 million years, longer than dinosaurs and flowering plants! It would take more than a million ants to weigh as much as one human. Scientists have discovered that mosquitoes are more active during a full moon. In fact, they can bite up to 500% more. Larger people, pregnant women, fidgety people, those who sweat a lot and those with smelly feet are more attractive targets to mosquitoes. Butterflies land on their food, using special chemical receptors in their feet to taste the food before consuming it.

Dung beetles roll their balls of dung in a straight line.

Ants have two stomachs. In one, they can store and digest the food that they eat. In the other, they store food for other ants, especially the queen and the larvae.

A female scorpionfly will only mate with a male if he has a present for her (caterpillars, bugs and flies that have been captured alive). The female inspects the present up close and if it is good enough, the mating will begin, though it will only last as long as the female is eating. In Chinese, Japanese and some Native American cultures, crickets are considered good luck charms. In northern Brazil the chirping of a cricket is said to signify death.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 19

Love your


by Greenfingers


t’s the ‘Merry Month of May’ thus said the poets and writers of bygone times. To quote the writer Robert F. Murray T’is May, the elfish maiden, the daughter of Spring, upon whose birthday morning the birds delight to sing. This month, appropriately named after the Greek goddess of fertility, Maia, even has as its birthstone, the emerald. The name and the jewel ideal for the time. This is a beautiful period in the garden, Spring is in all its glory, the many different shades of green that surround us bring a calmness to our mood, but spur us on to make the most of every moment outside. We can expect mornings to be cool and perhaps misty, with the mist being burned away by the spring sunshine, followed by breezy afternoons and maybe a slight chill in the air by evening. Every morning the garden is full of birdsong and birds busy feeding and building nests. The birdfeeders are quickly emptied and need replenishing often. We have lots of different species of birds that visit regularly, but on the weekend a pair of red-legged grouse appeared! They were large and rather rotund birds and I think they were looking for a suitable nesting site. They sat so still for quite some time and we were able to get a good, close up view with the binoculars. Fabulous! Each day new flowers are opening and because I planted some of the bulbs a bit late, their flowering has only just started and seems to be going on for longer. For the first time I planted some ornithogalum bulbs and they have produced flowers of a brilliant tangerine which contrasts well with the blues of the grape hyacinths and the pale yellow of the narcissus. There is a lot of white flowered, wild ornithogalum growing in our hedgerows locally, and we should be able to see this in bloom within the next few weeks. It’s a good idea to carry out a soil test before planting new trees and shrubs in the garden. Plants are like us, they have their likes and dislikes. If the soil is neutral, many differing types will grow happily. If you find you have a low pH, an indicator of ‘acid’ soil, then other varieties of

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

plants will grow well. For example, hydrangeas, magnolias and heathers are happiest in an acidic soil and fuchsias and delphiniums prefer a neutral soil. If you are growing everything in pots, it’s easy, just plant ‘acid lovers’ into ericaceous planting compost. If you have neutral soil and you still want to grow hydrangeas, then fill the planting hole with ericaceous compost and feed with an ericaceous feed every time. That will help to keep the plants and you happy! The peonies are showing off their dark crimson, deeply indented first leaves, and even the newly planted varieties have settled in well and are coming into growth. I must remember to put supports in for them now. My favourites, the hostas have their perfect, tightly rolled foliage emerging - so many shades of green, white and cream. I shall be keeping a keen eye out for snails and disposing of them kindly if I can! I will be dividing many of the hosta plants this year as some have outgrown their spaces and pots - and it’s more plants for free!

Dates for the diary: Les jardins de Demain Bretignolles-sur-Mer 85470 5 May Fête des Plantes Vouvant 85120

19 May

Marché aux Plantes Ardilleux 79110

19 May

Fête des Plantes Sainte-Christine Benet 85490

29 May

Bourse aux Plantes Pompaire 79

2 June

Now is the time to: • • • • • • •

Make sure that newly planted trees and shrubs are kept watered. As a general rule they need a full bucket of water every four days or so, unless there has been heavy rain. Plant out cannas and dahlias after the danger of frost has passed. Continue deadheading spring flowering bulbs, still leaving foliage to die back naturally. If the daffodil flowering was poor, lift the bulbs and divide them. Finish planting summer flowering bulbs such as gladioli and galtonia. The spotted foliage of pulmonaria can look a bit withered and brown now. Cut back damaged leaves to encourage new growth. Prune spring flowering clematis armandii, clematis montana and clematis alpina after flowering. Tall perennials such as delphiniums, phlox, and phlomis will need staking by now and plants with heavy blooms, such as peonies will need support from underneath to stop rain from damaging the flower petals. The viburnum beetle larvae will be emerging and vine weevils will be munching on leaf edges and laying eggs in the soil. The viburnum larvae are easy enough to pick off leaves and notches on leaf edges are a sign that the vine weevil is present. It mostly affects plants in pots, so tip the plant out and look for the white,

• • • • • •

• • • • • • •

• • • • • • •

brown headed, comma shaped larvae in the soil. Sweet peas will need regular tying in to supports. This enables them to thicken up and produce more flowers. Deadhead azaleas and rhododendrons and feed with an ericaceous feed. Hardy annuals that have been directly sown into soil, can be thinned out now - removing any damaged or straggly plants. Tender plants can be hardened off by placing them in the sunshine during the day and moving them inside or protecting them with fleece during the night. Clip evergreen hedges if required but check for nesting birds first. Clip back new growth on topiary to keep it compact and in shape. Sow biennials for next year. Wallflowers, foxgloves and forgetme-nots are biennials and need a summer to grow into good sized plants. Thin out the plants in a few weeks’ time. They can stay in the ground for the winter and will flower the following spring. Prune primulas and polyanthus after flowering has finished and divide congested clumps to provide more plants for next spring. Sow seeds of herbaceous perennials and take softwood cuttings from fuchsias. Cutting back some perennials at this time of year results in better, bushier growth and more flowers. Phlox, solidago, sedums and heleniums respond well to this treatment. Plug plants or small pots of pelargoniums are readily available now. Grow them on to a larger size before planting them out into beds. Use a soluble fertiliser to promote growth and flowers. Weigela can be pruned now, taking out some of the oldest inner stems will make way for strong new shoots. Remove suckers from around the base of roses, tracing each sucker back to the main stem. Take stem cuttings from clematis. Cut a piece of stem which has a leaf bud, you will be able to see it in the axil (that’s where the leaf joins the stem). Dip the bottom of the stem into hormone rooting powder and insert the cutting into a small pot containing potting compost, ensuring that it’s up against the edge. Water well. The leaf bud should be level with the soil. Cover with a plastic bag, or put it into the greenhouse and it should root within six weeks. Divide congested water lilies. Repot root bound cannas and hedychiums. Sow sweetcorn in pots now and keep under cover until big enough to be planted outside. Make sure that tomatoes, courgettes and cucumbers have adequate support as they grow quickly. Melon, courgette and cucumber flowers can be pollinated with a paintbrush if necessary. Continue potting on chillies and sweet peppers so that they don’t become congested and pot bound. Mulch strawberry plants to protect the fruit from soil splash.

• • • • • • • •

Keep a look out for slug damage and use netting to protect fruit from birds. Feed with tomato fertiliser every two weeks. Earth up potatoes to protect from blight and prevent greening. Sow maincrop swede, carrots, beetroot, peas and winter cauliflower. Thin out seedlings of spinach, using the ‘thinnings’ as salad. Harvest and re-sow radishes and lettuce. Keep hoeing onion and garlic beds, keeping them weed free. Harvest asparagus when the plants are about 25cm high, using a sharp knife to cut just below soil level. Turn the compost heap regularly. Blackfly are attracted to broad beans by the fresh, soft growth at the tips of the plants: pinch out the tips of each plant and it will reduce the blackfly.

Whatever you do in the garden, enjoy the rewarding hours of work outside and make some time to relax and enjoy what you have achieved!


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 21

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22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 23

Where We Live... WE LIVED THE LEGEND! Rallye des Gazelles 2019 by Helen Tait-Wright

Gazelles we parked up on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice to show off our cars and soak in the atmosphere while we waited for the official start at 3pm. We formed part of the human chain to move all the donations collected by the Gazelles for the rally charity ‘Coeur de Gazelles’, to the lorries waiting to transport them to Morocco, and we waved goodbye to the donations kindly collected by the customers of Crédit Agricole in Argentonnay and the wonderful pupils of École Sainte-Marie in Argentonnay. As 3pm approached we were in the car, snaking slowly but surely to the starting arch ….. and then suddenly we were through, officially started and on the road to the ferry! An emotional moment. After the high, the low. The ferry. The next thing I was anxious about - 40 hours on a boat. I hate boats, I get seasick and I was wondering why I agreed to go that route. In actual fact, armed with medicine and pressure wrist bands, the crossing wasn’t as bad as I imagined it would be and we had the chance to meet and get to know some of our fellow Gazelles en route. In reality it turned out to be 43 hours as one of the ships engines was down, and getting off the ferry in Tangiers took forever.


magine the most awesome thing that you can, then the most difficult and traumatic experience of your life, throw in every available emotion, mix liberally with sand (in places you can’t even imagine it could be), and you might start to come close to comprehending what taking part in the Rallye des Gazelles 2019 was like. My mission for this article is to report on our adventure, from my point of view, so here goes …..I am not going to bore you with the months of struggles we lived through to raise money and prepare for the event. Perhaps we should have spent another year getting all the funds in place, but as I decided to make it my personal ‘pre 50’ challenge, 2019 had to be the year! It literally consumed my life for over a year, and by the time it was the day for us to leave home for Nice and the official rally start, I was pretty numb to any feelings about what was to come, just impatient to get started. We had a leisurely drive down through France and arrived in Nice without seeing another Gazelle car, which did surprise us both given that we knew there were more than 120 other teams heading the same way. On arrival at the hotel we started to meet fellow Gazelles and it all started to get real. Friday 15 March was Technical Verification day, and the first thing I was really anxious about; had I missed any detail on any of the mountains of paperwork that would prevent us from starting? It seemed I hadn’t, and several long hours later, we had the magic piece of paper which allowed us to start, along with our official wristbands and blue gilets! Big relief! Saturday 16 March dawned sunny, and along with the other

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

One of the things we had to take into account on all the road sections is that Priscilla (our Land Rover) really isn’t comfortable going much over 100kph, so she is slower than a lot of the other cars, and we needed to allow extra time. On the journey to Meknes, we had heard a few clonking noises from the transmission, so Tuesday morning we thought we ought to have a look underneath. There was oil coming from one of the seals, so we decided it would be prudent to top up the transmission oil before continuing to Erfoud. This seemingly simple task presented its own challenge as amongst all the things we had in the car, we did not have the big syringe thing that makes filling your diff with oil easy! However, two girls laying on their bellies, a funnel and a water bottle, some scissors and lots of swearing later, the job was done. Haley started to replace the bung in the diff pan, I was packing up as we had already lost time for our journey, then I heard “Oh f**k” from under the car. Rookie mistake. Neither of us knew that the diff pan bung doesn’t have a stop on it, so Haley was merrily ratcheting away and suddenly the bung was in the differential. At this point, unless we could fix it, that was the end of the rally as we could not move the car. We decided that removal of the diff pan was feasible, and Haley started taking bolts out. I informed the organisers of our plight, and we watched the remaining other Gazelles leave the carpark without us. As luck would have it there was a mechanics team only 15 minutes from our position, and soon help was at hand. Eventually we were back on the road, and heading south towards Erfoud, albeit several hours behind where we would have liked to have been, but relieved to still be in the hunt.

It was amazing throughout our experience to see the Moroccan countryside which is so beautiful and varied. On that journey we saw monkeys, climbed steep twisty mountain roads, passed verdant oasis, gorgeous lakes and barren hillsides. We had goats and sheep in the road and we passed people walking, literally in the middle of nowhere. It was dark by the time we arrived in Erfoud and we were pleased to find our hotel for the night. Wednesday 20 March. Prologue day. After checking Priscilla over and fuelling up, we headed with the other teams to our rendezvous point near to the first bivouac, south of Erfoud. Our first chance to be in the pack of Gazelles, off road! We were very excited, and didn’t really know what to expect. On arrival at the bivouac we received our coordinates for the days checkpoints and the mountain of maps for the whole rally. Then we were off, unleashed on the terrain, to really become Gazelles! The prologue went relatively well. Aside from having to wear the dreaded helmets and learning pretty quickly that you are in and out of the car like Jack in the Boxes, making the intercom system a pain the backside. The sun shone, we found all of our checkpoints, and although it seemed to take forever, we felt positive that the little red flags hidden in the vastness of the terrain would not beat us. However, we were getting anxious as the night started to fall as we headed back to the bivouac. Luckily we found some other Gazelles also heading back and we rolled in together, after making final contact with the outside world, as that night was the night for handing in our mobiles. The wind had got up and made pitching our tents a challenge, but we headed off to eat in good spirits. Then the wind really got up. I can honestly say I have never experienced anything quite like it. If you can imagine the noise from an aircraft jet engine on tick over, that was the noise that persisted all night as the wind buffeted the tapes surrounding the tent park and the tents themselves. Needless to say sleeping did not happen. And it was cold. And we had to be up at 5am. To be fair, I knew before leaving that camping isn’t really my thing and it would be cold at night, and we had to get up at 5am, but, I did expect to sleep. Even just a little bit. I did not get up with a happy face on for our first competitive day. However, we were in the starting line-up at the allotted time, ready to go, checkpoints plotted. We started well, heading in the direction of CP1. The reality is that a dead straight route is pretty much impossible, and you have to plot around the natural obstacles. Some of these are shown on the map, some you discover!

peaks, although they do all look scarily similar, and we could see we were on the edge of an oued - this is a water course basically, although at this time of the year, dry - and there was a well. With a name sign on it in Arabic. Surely this must be on the map. Ah yes, here is it - oh gosh we are quite a way off our position, too far northeast. So we followed the oued southwest. Driving in an oued is challenging as the river bed is made up of what looks like driveable sand, but in reality it is a harder crust over some really very fine loose sand indeed, and if you lose momentum, you will be bogged down. After a bit we saw other Gazelles stuck going up a steep hill out of the oued. We found a safe place to stop and climbed the hill on foot and lo and behold, there was the checkpoint! We arrive, confident and happy only to find it is not our checkpoint but one for those on a different route. I can not begin tell you how utterly deflating this is. However all you can do is continue, but not before getting the coordinates of that checkpoint from one of the other teams so as to determine your actual position. Of course the well marked on the map was not the one we saw at all, an all too familiar scenario throughout the rally. So, we returned, back up the oued and found our own checkpoint, finally, exhausted. I think we lost the plot a bit after that, and driving down the oued for a third time we made a conscious decision to abandon day one and head for the Coeur de Gazelles village at Tissardmine. The humanitarian work of the rally charity Coeur de Gazelles was one of the motivating factors for doing the rally and it was a privilege to see them at work and interact with the local people. We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and returned to the bivouac in good spirits. After another sleepless night due to the wind, day two dawned and saw us heading north of Erfoud to completely different terrain. We encountered the ‘cauliflowers’ which are plants that become full of sand, and consequently resemble rocks, and are indeed rock solid. Not things you want to drive over if you love your tyres.

En route we found some Gazelles marooned on the sand and stopped to help them, in the spirit of solidarity. This turned out to be a pretty major undertaking as they were seriously beached, and in the course of this we lost our bearings a bit and headed off again, unbeknown to us, too far south.

I am not going to go over every day in detail, suffice to say we did not make all our checkpoints, but we did discover two very important things on day two. Firstly, we discovered our unique and special skill for arriving at military installations, which in a way is good because they usually have roads going to them, and secondly we discovered that the in-car compass we had been using was totally useless. While on a dead straight track heading northwest (towards said military installation) the compass flickered all over the place, and we realised had been giving false headings all along. We had been taking bearings out of the car, but then cross referencing with the in-car compass to save jumping in and out every few minutes. Big mistake and another lesson learned.

In order to rediscover our positon we tried to triangulate from what we saw around us. We thought we had identified some

Day three was my personal best day of the rally although I suspect if you had asked me at the time I may not have agreed. Still The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 25

...A look at what makes France so special deprived of sleep we headed to the sea of dunes near Merzouga Erg Chebbi. Absolutely stunning. Awesome. Terrifying.

having big accidents and being airlifted to hospital, so to be at the end of the competitive stages in one piece was a privilege.

We had a choice of three courses through the dunes and given our lack of experience we decided the easiest was most prudent. The most important things about dune driving are to let the tyre pressures right down, have as little weight in the car as possible and keep the momentum up. Of course Priscilla is a heavy car and the power to weight ratio is probably lacking when compared to more modern vehicles. We are extremely thankful to the Hoehn girls (American Gazelles veterans) who advised us to take everything we could out of the car and leave it at the bivouac. Of course the downside of this was that we HAD to make it back to the bivouac at night as we did not have any camping gear with us. Incidentally if anyone wants lessons on how to repack a pop up tent, usually at about 5.15am, Haley and I are now experts

On the long drive to Essaouira, now back in possesion of our mobiles and in touch with the world, we had time to assess what had happened and all things considered we agreed that it was an incredible experience. We drove a 21-year-old Defender through some of the most inhospitable yet beautiful terrain on the planet. And we survived. I don’t suppose many people can say that. We were genuinely never lost - we may not have found every red flag we were supposed to - we seemed to have a talent for finding ones on other peoples routes - but we always knew more or less where we were and how to find a road, a military camp, a town or a hotel! And I would consider them to be a pretty relevant life skills.

We made a good course through the incredible dunes, with our fair share of being a bit stuck, but as the end of the day approached and knowing we had to get ‘home’ we opted out of the final checkpoint of the day. On the night of the third day, we entered a new circle of notsleeping-hell. The heavens opened and the rain was torrential. Not only did this add to the noise level but I seemed to be camped in a slight dip and so everything in my tent was wet. Having shoved all this muddy gear into the car, we were told at the 6am briefing that it looked like the day would be cancelled as the terrain was too difficult. This was confirmed at 8am and our first thought was to find somewhere warm and dry. The hotels in Erfoud were busy that day! Day 5 was the first day of the first marathon stage. Haley and I decided to swap roles. She would drive, I would navigate. We found checkpoint one with little difficulty and headed off confidently to no. 2 on a pretty straight route. Then we had difficult terrain and it all went horribly wrong, thus proving that neither of us are much good at navigating! The other thing is that checkpoints close, and you can run out of time to reach them. This is exactly what happened with the second point - we did see it, but as it was being packed up. By this time in the rally the sore throat I had been nursing since the start had turned into a fully blown cold and I felt utterly shocking. We camped in the desert that night, and guess what, it was windy! No sleep. Day 6 of the rally we made another checkpoint, found another military installatiion, complete with Hummer this time, and made the long trek to the bivouac near Zagora on the road, and via the garage of legendary Land Rover mechanic Ali Nassir, which for a Defender girl was a big thrill! Then that evening we experienced another desert delight; a sand storm! By this time we knew we weren’t going to set the world alight with a spectacular result in the rankings, but we set out on day 7 with new enthusiasm. The last marathon leg included more dunes, and we also knew we would be at a disadvantage as we had to take all our kit with us and therefore Priscilla would be super heavy, particularly as the organisers insisted we filled our tanks before leaving the bivouac. This proved to be the case as we entered relatively small dunes on the way to checkpoint two. To cut a long story short, it took us well over four hours to get out, and it was exhausting. However, we did find another military installation, and a road! We sat outside emptying the sand from our boots and told the organisers we were done. It would have been madness to tackle the bigger dunes and throughout I was very aware that Priscilla and I still had to drive back to France. We took the road option back to the final finish line, and crossed with some relief, but also a sense of pride …. we might not have achieved our competitive goal but we didn’t break ourselves or the car, and most importantly we were still talking! We had witnessed fellow Gazelles falling out, destroying major car components,

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

The rally plaque we received in Essaouira says ‘You lived the Legend’. We did. And we joined an exclusive club of women who have done the same thing. We made some great new friends too, which is wonderful. Of course the question everyone asks is “Would you do it again?” My answer to that is that I would love to do another similar event, but possibly not another Rallye des Gazelles. Why? Basically because it was so expensive. The fundraising for this event was such hard work; we fell between two stools - we are English, but the rally is not known in the UK and we don’t live there anyway, but equally we are not French and so there was a reluctance from French companies to support us. Without a major sponsor on board I could not contemplate putting myself or my family through that again. Right now I am happy to say that I am a Gazelle, and I would like to extend a big thank you to each and every person who supported us in whatever way, from attending our events, through to sponsorship, or simply just being there on the days when the preparation tasks were overwhelming. Special thanks must go to my husband, Chris, who has been behind us all the way, and provided us with the coolest car on the rally, the amazing Priscilla; and to Jonathan whose Land Rover knowledge is second to none and whose support has been invaluable.


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 27

Communications Respectful emailing


e have all, at some time, received a ‘bulk’ email, i.e. one sent to several people. It may be from a friend sending you a joke, a family member inviting you to a party/event, or a business advising you of their latest offer. This email perhaps showed all of the other recipients’ addresses, and your email address was visible to all. So why is this wrong? This shows a lack of respect for the privacy of all recipients. I would no more send out a traditional ‘snail mail’ letter inviting all of my friends, family or customers to an event and include everyone’s postal address on the letter. If one friend asked me for the contact information of another, I would check with the friend, whose address was requested, that they were happy for me to pass their address on. It is respect and a common courtesy. What harm could be done? Take the example of a joke circular - I receive one which has 25 to 30 email addresses visible to all. The chances are that I do not know any of the other recipients, so I don’t know who is receiving my address, if their computer is secure, or if they have proper antivirus. Then the other 29 recipients may forward the email to a further 20 to 30 people and so on. In next to no time the email could be seen by thousands, if the joke is very funny it could be in front of millions of people within a very short time. Who knows if one of the future recipients is harvesting email addresses and selling them to unscrupulous third parties? It only takes one to copy and paste the email addresses into a file and offer them for sale on the World Wide Web. It is like the wild west online and anything could happen to the addresses once sold.

By simply putting the recipients addresses in the Bcc box, you can prevent all of this from happening. What is Bcc and where did it come from? Our current email systems were modelled on traditional office correspondence such as the memorandum. So, you have the ability to send an email much like an office letter or memo to one or multiple recipients.

by Ross Hendry

The Blind carbon copy box Bcc in French is Cci. Please remember, email addresses in the blind copy, Bcc/Cci field /box will not be displayed to any other recipients, only the named recipient and the sender can see their email addresses. Business Users If you are a business and do not use the Bcc box, then you are inviting anyone including your competitor/s to copy the list of email addresses and email them with their own products and services, potentially losing you a customer or a sale. Common Sense If you are inviting your close friends and or family and they all know each other, you could be forgiven for not using Bcc. But, it is still a potential problem in case one of them forwards your email or they get hacked, so I consider it best practice to use it at all times. To avoid looking like Secret Squirrel you can always add a list of the recipients names in the body of the email (without their addresses), then you are letting people know who is coming or who is on your list without disclosing their address, far more civilised. I have used this when planning events, giving the recipients the chance to share lifts to venues etc. by contacting people they know, or for those they do not know, requesting their contact details via me. You may learn more about this subject at: www.cs.rutgers. edu/~watrous/bcc-for-privacy.html If you have French friends who do not hide recipients’ addresses you may send them this link: Do you use AOL? Then please read ‘item 12’ of this site about forwarding emails to your friends and family: netiquette/netiquette.html#10

This is made possible using the To box, where you enter the name of the primary recipient and send a Cc (carbon copy) to other recipients. You also have a Bcc (blind carbon copy) box, this is so undisclosed recipients can also have a copy. On your email, this means that the primary recipient’s email address, in the To box, is visible to all recipients of the email, and this is also true of the Cc box. However, those recipients whose email addresses are entered into the Bcc box enjoy privacy, because it does not display their email addresses to the other recipients. Only the sender of the email is able to see all of the addresses in the Bcc box. Example of using the Bcc field/box Until recently, I sent out an email each month advising people of the English film available in the cinema at La Châtaigneraie. I used my wife’s email as the primary recipient, then the other 200 or so film goers on the list are sent using the Bcc box. Other people create an email address called undisclosed recipients or similar, and use this to address the email in the To box, this helps them to see what others receive and keeps everyone’s addresses private. French Versions of Bcc If you are using a French email system you will find Bcc as Cci (carbon copie invisible or copie cachée), invariably you access this by clicking on the á or Á (To field), then in the dialogue box that opens, you should see a list of your contacts in the left hand side and on the right, three boxes to insert recipient addresses. They are : The To box in French is á or to; The Carbon copy box in French is Cc 28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

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 (April) Dear Frankie


pring is here. Official. And not just because Tomasz Schafernaker says so; but because the glorious cherry and other blossom (better than ever this year), not to mention tulips bursting through as the daffodils fade, prove it to be so. All this to an accompaniment of birdsong from the treetops each morning and evening. It’s just sad that such joy should be overshadowed by the thunder clouds of Brexit and by the whirlpool of emotions which it generates (anxiety, confusion, exasperation, tedium, anger, hope – sometimes all at the same time). At the time of writing, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn are discussing a possible way out of the current impasse, but progress on that front seems somewhat unlikely, as neither has a reputation for creativity and flexibility. Nevertheless, I remain optimistic that sooner or later (probably later) a way will be found out of the present morass. And in any case, all is not doom and gloom. The UK’s employment rate is the highest since 1971; average earnings increased by 3.4% in the year to January; deaths from heart failure due to smoking reduced by 60% between 1989 and 2015; and, according to a UN survey, residents of the UK ended last year significantly happier than they began it and happier than the residents of Ireland, Germany, and the US. April Fools’ Day has come and gone. This year’s offerings in the press included drones that are capable of taking a dog for a walk and cleaning up after it; a zip wire to be fixed to the Severn Bridge to allow travellers a 100mph crossing between England and Wales; and Lundy Island, off the north coast of Devon, has declared independence. Not up to the standard of the porridge mine and spaghetti trees of yester year. Must try harder! News items you may have missed this month included: Bryony Frost (aged 24) was the first woman to land a Grade One victory over jumps at the recent Cheltenham Festival; it is untrue that Ernest Hemingway won a bet about writing the most concise short story ever with, ‘For sale: baby shoes, never worn’; entries for the four saddest words in the English language included ‘Trump plans second term’ and ‘National Treasure Piers Morgan’; Bob Weighton, England’s oldest man at 111, has asked the Queen to drop sending him cards because of the cost involved; Kylie Minogue is to play the Legend slot at this summer’s Glastonbury; and Tottenham have just opened their new White Hart Lane stadium (it has a capacity of 62,000 and cost nearly a billion pounds) by beating Crystal Palace 2-0. Deaths in recent weeks included that of Baroness Warnock (94), nicknamed ‘philosophical plumber to the establishment’ as she headed up various Government inquiries, particularly on bioethical issues such as embryology. Victor Hochhauser (95), the impresario famous for bringing some of Russia’s greatest musical names (David Oistrakh, Rostropovitch, Shostakovich) to perform in this country in the 1960’s and 70’s. Scott Walker (76), lead singer of the Walker Brothers (Make It Easy On Yourself and The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Any More) and subsequently a ‘brooding enigma’. Peter Hurford (88), who was master of music at St. Albans Abbey from 1958 – 1978 and founder of the St. Albans International Organ Festival. He once famously said, “I am a musician who plays the organ. I don’t just play for organ buffs. The organ is capable of as much finesse as the violin”. Yours Johnny

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 29

Food & Drink Perfect – Or As Near As Dammit

by John Sherwin


’m a news nut. I love keeping abreast of stuff. Sure, I drool over internet media but there’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned newspaper. It’s tactile, you can flick back and forward, you can have a go at the bloody crossword if you’re into masochism. You can make a fan or a hat or a boat out of it. Fish and chips recipient of course. Rip and bunch and light a fire with it. Or screw it up even tighter and denser and bind it with twine or sellotape to make a cricket ball if you’re a kid in Calcutta. And what about stones? Skimming. Mirror-flat lake. Your choice of implement, minerals gouged and grinded and compacted over millennia just lying around. Free. Do you know how long it took for that stone to be there, nudging your sneaker? You pick the sleekest ‘cos you want to skim as far as possible. It glops after two skips. How can that happen? You had the right elevation, speed and twist of the wrist yet down it went. You choose another at random, from frustration, a gnarled good-for-nothing rock, and it goes. I mean it really goes. After four skips you hold your breath… five, six… Unimaginable. Or you throw a stick for your dog, let’s call him Monty. Time and time again. The stick bounces and ricochets off the country track and Monty overshoots, skids like a cartoon. But one time, one time out of twenty let’s say, at full tilt he nips the branch on the volley, clean as the white hawthorn blossom that perfumes your walk. So we come to vineyards and vines and wines and how a concatenation of events can make perfection, or as near as dammit. The ‘near as dammit’ is the key phrase. As a winemaker, if you’re going to make the very best wine you can you have to rely on Nature and Nature is unreliable. This is one of the reasons winemakers have caves into which they invite their winemaking friends (there is no spite or competition). They sit and they drink from dirty glasses and complain about Nature. It’s a bit like complaining that life would be simpler if the world were flat and not round. A great vintage might come once in a generation or three years on the trot. Suck it up – talking of which, have another glass Pierre. Everyone loves a list, like the ‘ten most effective toenail clippers’ or the ‘twenty worst places anywhere ever’, so here is my humble contribution: a list of concatenations, otherwise known as the best vintages since 2000 – nice round number. As weather at Point A is different to weather at Point B a thousand miles away (or even just around the corner), I have to concentrate on one region, so Bordeaux, the king of kings, is my choice. Red Bordeaux and, to be even-handed, the sweet whites from Sauternes. For the reds, we’re looking for wines that have serious ageing potential, the kind that you cellar for your newest grandchild’s 21st. Or to put in the hands of Sothebys if you run short of loot in the meantime. These are wines that are not at all pleasant when tasted in their youth, tannin

being the issue. Tannin is good-cop-bad-cop rolled into one. When young, tannic wines taste astringent, raspy. They dry out your mouth and make it pucker and you think ‘Bordeaux? You can keep it mate’. But – and here’s the tricky bit – if you can discern behind that tannic onslaught complexity and underlying structure then you might just be on to a winner. If you have the years left to wait. Because as you wait, like you, the tannins will mellow and, like you, will reveal that the harsh, belligerent youth turns out to be a fine, upstanding, well-rounded citizen. Time heals all; makes better. So here’s that list you’ve been waiting for. All four vintages gave wines of intensity, concentration, and (yup) tannic structure. All four saw hot, dry summers and coolish, slightly rainy days nearer to harvest. 2015 – rich and velvety; 2010 – fresh and fruity; 2009 – ripe and intense; 2005 – the most tannic of the lot with serious ageing potential. (Apart from ’09, you might have noticed the ‘rule of five’. Any vintage divisible by five is great. Might even be true. Me, I’m saving up for the 2020 futures.) Great Sauternes is even more weather sensitive. The key is the development (or not) of botrytis, ‘noble rot’. In brief, this is a rot which desiccates the grape leaving a very concentrated sugar solution. The rot only forms when, come September/October, there are misty mornings followed by hot, sunny afternoons. It’s the mixture of dampness and heat, you see – think of athletes foot. These happy moments occurred in 2015, 2014, 2011, 2009, and 2001, with 2011 being the star of the bunch – opulent, rich, fresh. There doesn’t seem to be a rule of anything here. Keep an eye on the weather. I’m off to the cave now for a glass or two and a complain about, well, this that and the other. Doesn’t matter, complaining with your mates is good. Sorry about the title by the way: there’s no such thing as perfect. Ask my dog.

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or 30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

Our village awakes from its winter slumber


he village of Loubille (on the D737 south of Chef Boutonne, on the southern tip of Deux-Sèvres) will be the place to be on the weekend of 11 and 12 May. On Saturday 11 our little sewing and craft group will be selling some beautiful homemade goodies, ideal for Mother’s Day gifts (26 May here in France). From stitched, knitted and crocheted, to painted, baked and grown, the selection will be superb and well worth a visit. I will be making my new favourite olive oil cake, as a daily dose of olive oil has many health benefits for our joints, skin, bones, brains and more. It doesn’t appear to matter if it’s cold oil in salad dressings or cooked oil from shallow frying, so surely a daily slice of olive oil cake must be good for me, right? The bar will also be doing a special Fish and Chip lunch on the day for only 6€, with all profits kindly being donated to our association. Although mushy peas haven’t reached here yet, I can confirm that for a Frenchie his battered fish is excellent. On one of those dates where Brexit was supposed to happen (!), around forty of us (all British) gathered in the bar for an evening to celebrate all that is right with life in France, and taste-test their Fish and Chips. It was a tough audience to please, but it was declared a success, so that’s where you’ll find me at 12 o’clock. I do recommend booking in advance to avoid disappointment on 05 49 07 39 95. Whilst you are in the village, do take a short tour to one of our hamlets where the association Espoir Nature are holding an open weekend from 10am to 6pm on 11 and 12 May, at their farm in Bois Naudouin (just outside of Loubille in the direction of Longré). This is an interesting association run by a dynamic team that aims to educate children as well as eliminate isolation in older

people. From visiting older people living alone and residents in retirement homes with their collection of animals (including donkeys), to teaching sustainable growing techniques to children and running French lessons for English people, where maybe it is the lack of language that is isolating them, they cover so many things. Their sustainably grown plants and vegetables will be available to buy during the open weekend and I know they have lots of activities planned too. As they are new to our village, I can’t wait to get to know them better and learn more about the various things they are involved in.

by Jacqueline Brown

Conveniently situated between these two locations is the new chicken farm which will be open for egg sales from 8.30am to 11am on the Saturday. The new arrivals are settling in nicely and laying plenty of eggs, but they have discovered that not everyone is quite who they thought they were. Ruling the roost over 8,999 laying chickens is one very proud and happy cockerel. Lucky boy! Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 31

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres

by Sue Burgess


by Sue Burgess


he commune of Saint-Cyr-la-Lande is made up of four villages: Saint-Cyr-la-Lande, Baugé, Férolle and Varanne. The commune is situated in the far north-east of the Deux-Sèvres on the edge of Maine-et-Loire. It falls within the agricultural region of the Thouars plains. The D362 crosses the commune from east to west. This secondary road makes it easy to join the D938 between Parthenay and Montreuil-Bellay. Saint-Cyr-la-Lande is about 10km from Thouars and MontreuilBellay and 30km from Saumur. The commune stretches over about 903 hectares. There are 46 farmers working on the lands of the commune. In 2017 there were 171 houses of which 147 were main homes rather than holiday homes. There are 352 inhabitants who are known as the Saint-Cyriens and Saint Cyriennes. The pond at Varanne, transforms Saint-Cyr-la-Lande into a fisherman’s paradise between April and September. It also boasts a communal sports and leisure facility, which has a sheltered area where different events are held. The Château de Baugé, is an historical monument and has been listed since 1989 for its facades and roofs, staircase and decoratively painted fireplaces. The château was the property of the Barro family at the beginning of the 16th century. Then it was owned by the Pidoux and then the La Ville-Baugé family in the mid 17th century. The La VilleBaugé family, who still own the château, had it altered during the 17th century. The family obtained their letters of nobility in 1653, when Uriel de La Ville, seneschal and first captain of the town of Thouars, fought off assailants. The best known member of the family is Pierre-Louis de La VilleBaugé, a Vendéen leader during the Revolution, member of the War Council and officer of the Royal Catholic Army along with Henri de La Rochejacquelin. The château is private and not open to the public. A VOIR / MUST SEE Saint-Cyr church is built on one of those rocky outcrops that are scattered around the Thouarsais region. There is written evidence of the existence of the church dating back to 1179. Until the Revolution the church came under the direct responsibility of the bishop of Poitiers. The Church is dedicated to Saint-Cyr who is also the patron of the parish. The village name of Saint-Cyr-la-Lande first appeared in 1578.

Sainte-Julitte and her young son, Cyr, who at three years old repeated unceasingly: “I am a Christian” were martyred under Dioclétien, at the beginning of the 4th century, probably in Antioch. The cemetery lies around the church on the south and west sides. The bell tower is built against the western facade of the church at the southern end. The bell is dated 1892 and was founded by the Bollée foundry in Orléans. As with many other churches in the Thouarsais area, one enters the church through a door under a porchway. The porchway was an area where the faithful could meet whilst remaining protected from the elements.

Sainte-Eanne The commune of Sainte-Eanne is part of the Communauté de communes ‘du Val de Sèvre’. The 656 inhabitants are called the Emmeranais and Emmeranaises. The neighbouring towns are Nanteuil, Souvigné, Saint-Martinde-Saint-Maixent and Soudan. Sainte-Eanne has one of the largest agro-alimentary zones of Poitou-Charentes with the ZA of Verdeil, the largest agro-alimantary centre in the Deux-Sèvres, which brings together the sectors of meat and animal foodstuffs and employs about 1200 people. Sainte-Eanne was one of the key centres for the Resistance during WWII. In the schoolhouse, Edmond Proust, known as ‘Gapit’ and then ‘Chaumette’ organised the secret control centre of the Resistance and later the Deux-Sèvres secret army from March 1944 until the liberation. A number of clandestines and others who became well known after the liberation came to Sainte-Eanne, among them notably: General Moraglia (Dufour), René Hudeley (a clandestine prefect), Joseph Pineau (president of the Deux-Sèvres Liberation Committee) and Major Whitty (Harold) of the Jedburg network who was parachuted in the L’Absie area. Situated in the commune of Sainte-Eanne, the Hauts de Rochefort quarry stretches over more than 100 hectares. About 200 000 tonnes of sand and gravel are quarried and sent to Poitou-Charentes, Pays de la Loire and Brittany. The quarry has been worked since 1950. Prevention of environmental risks is an important part of the work at the quarry and it is run in a sustainable fashion and will permit the lands to be used as a water park, wooded area, natural zones or agricultural land once the quarrying activity is finished.

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month... 32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

Our Furry Friends

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. •

Rona This gorgeous five year old Berger cross, has a kind heart and is eager to please. Good with other dogs, but not cats. A little cautious and shy. I can see her being a warm centre of calm and comfort for any family. Vaccinated against rabies (has her own passport), sterilized, dewormed, and treated for ticks and fleas. If you would like to meet Rona she’s currently near to Montreuil-Bellay (49).

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


Olia is a lively, joyful one-year-old setter cross, who loves people and is fine with other dogs. As with most young dogs, she will need continued education, but she’s a delightful, sociable girl (loved by all of our volunteers), who will make someone a wonderful companion. Olia is available for foster or adoption and is currently in the pound, in the south of dept. 79.

The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email: Visit the website: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 33

Health, Beauty & Fitness DON’T FORGET OUR DEADLINE!

OF THE MONTH CALLING ALL WALKING FOOTBALL PLAYERS Interested in playing walking football around the Dampierre sur Boutonne area? We really need more players of any level (and age) to join us for fun, competition and above all, the health benefits! Call Ted Sellwood: or email:

Tai Chi classes - Exercise for the body and mind. Age and physical abilities are no obstacle. Classes are held in Bressuire on Tuesday evenings and Breuil Barret on Friday afternoons. Call Terry on: 05 49 65 60 34 or go to: Top Sporting Events in May 2019 2 Horse Racing Kentucky Derby 10-26 Ice Hockey IIHF World Championship 16-19 Golf US PGA, New York

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

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

Pure Fitness

Exercise to music classes - every Wednesday 7.30pm-8.30pm Salle des Fêtes, Vernoux-en-Gâtine 79240 For more info contact 18 26 26-Jun 9 30-Jul 15

Football FA Cup final Auto Racing Indianapolis 500, USA Tennis French Open, Paris Cricket World Cup England and Wales



by Kelly Knight

e started our competitions a little later this year. After catching our deaths in November at the La Rochelle 10km, we were all a little more cautious this winter. So it was really March before Team Madness sprang into action competitively.

Sarah celebrated the 3 anniversary of her first ever competitive run. She ranked in the top third compared to the first year where she was in the bottom third! A really clear indication of her improvements. She also completed a half marathon in preparation for her 2019 goal – The La Rochelle Marathon. rd



The Madness continues!

As well as a local 15km run, Sarah’s husband Rob completed the same half marathon knocking a huge ten minutes off his own personal best. Congratulations Rob!

! SS

Marie is the Zumba queen due to a knee injury preventing her from running, and following some hip problems, Lesley has been focusing on yoga; re-joining her yoga group and practicing at home with lots of walking too. She also got her family out for a mammoth 32km bike ride.

Haley, as most of you know, competed in the challenging 2019 Rallye des Gazelles in the Moroccan Sahara with Helen and their trusted land rover Priscilla. With our first triathlons just around the corner, we continue to train and hope to get back into the lake for some muchneeded open water practice. Here’s to more MADNESS!

Both Kellys competed for their triathlon club at a challenging duathlon in Saintes and a more light-hearted bike and run event in Parthenay. Their children competed at these events too within their relevant age categories. Judi has been a charity champion completing a gruelling 14km trail run raising funds for school supplies and a 5km run where she joined 15,000 people to raise money for a breast cancer charity. In conjunction with discovering the joys(?) of having a personal trainer and keeping us amused with her running commentaries from each session! Lauren took to the dressage ring with her horse Rio, where he put on an interesting display and Lauren showed her amazing riding skills. Rio has persuaded Lauren that he prefers to jump and, as this is not her favourite discipline, this new direction will be a challenge for them both. Pam has made it, happily, back to the pool after a long time out. We are all glad she is back where she is happiest.

Top photo: Charity champion Judi Zaghi. Middle: Lauren Cotrell and Rio. Bottom: Lesley Pimblett and family post 32km bike ride, me and Kelly Gomez, and Sarah Berry training for the La Rochelle Marathon.

Everyday Yoga for Everyone Yoga and the Heart


e tend to think that what the heart wants is exercise like running, swimming or cycling. You might be surprised to hear that a number of medical studies have shown that practicing yoga contributes to cardiovascular health. These days, health practitioners are increasingly recognizing the benefits of yoga for the healthy functioning of the heart. More research, particularly in the past five years, is revealing how the practice of yoga can help to manage the levels of cortisol and adrenaline – the fight or flight/stress hormones – that stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and put pressure on the heart by narrowing the arteries and raising blood pressure. This calming effect on the body and mind is due in large part to the activity of the vagus nerve, that has been dubbed the ‘air traffic controller’ of our nervous system. The vagus is our largest cranial nerve, that connects the brain to the body via the facial muscles, heart, lungs, digestive tract, kidneys and reproductive organs. It plays a key role

in the function of the parasympathetic nervous system (our ‘rest and digest’ response) and helps to regulate many bodily functions including breathing, digestion and even how we process information from the environment. What

by Rebecca Novick

fascinates cardiologists is the connection between the vagus nerve and the heart and how it regulates the heart rate through electrical signals and the release of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. It is this neurotransmitter that tells your lungs to breathe. And here lies a key. If your body is getting flooded with stress signals what can you do? It turns out that we can indirectly stimulate the vagus nerve (and thus switch the body from a stress to a rest response) by working with the areas and functions it controls; throat, lungs, heart and abdominal organs, but especially with our breathing. Pranayama, the kind of slow, rhythmic abdominal breathing that we learn to do in yoga has been shown to stimulate the vagus nerve and improve what is called ‘vagal tone’—that is, the body’s ability to cope with stress. It seems that this ancient Indian practice is a technique that could become part of the future of medicine.

Respect yourself, explore yourself.

For details on yoga classes email: or follow Rebecca on The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 35

Building & Renovation HILEY LOCATION

Location de mini-pelle Travaux Publics Installer and supplier of micro-stations. Micro-station and installation starting from 6000 Euros All Types of Groundworks Undertaken

Covering Bressuire and Surrounding Areas

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019



1 Day 130€, 2 Days 220€, 7 Days 700€ 12 Mtr Cherry Picker 110€ per day Laser Level 30€ per day Wacker Plate 60kg 20€ per day 3 inch petrol water pump 30€ per day Concrete Breaker Digger Attachment Available Digger & Driver Available Phone FR: 06 10 43 96 16 UK : 07753822265 Email : Siret : 840 226 666 00013

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 37



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Business & Finance Marketing Matters

by Cindy Mobey

Boost your productivity with a clean and clear desk space


am a maker of ‘piles’. I have piles of books, papers, a ‘to do’ pile of stuff that needs looking at urgently etc. There have been several times recently where I couldn’t find something important, because I’d put it ‘somewhere safe’... in a pile. I’ve always found what I’m looking for in the end, but this has taken up precious time and effort; if I’d had a designated space for my piles of stuff, I’d know where everything was. Dump the piles! So, it’s time for a bit of organisation and I hope this helps you if you’re a ‘piles’ person! • Go through the piles and organise the paper into an order – you might have bills to be paid, articles to read, stuff that needs filing. Whatever it is, take a few minutes to sort things out. Use a filing cabinet, shelving system, box files or lever arch files, to put the same kind of thing in one place. • Have an inbox with things that need doing today, such as bills you can pay online, a reminder to email or ring someone. When those things have been done, file them away. • Throw out anything you don’t need – there’s bound to be things you no longer need or use, so bin it! • Go paperless – in our world of recycling and conserving the environment, it amazes me how many people don’t do online banking, for example. It’s so much easier than sifting through pages of bank statements, when you can do it at a click of the mouse. • Schedule in a 15-20 minute session a week to clean your desk and surrounding work space. This will help you keep things organised and won’t allow you to let your piles build up again!

If you have documents that you need to keep, scan them into your computer and save them in a file. These things don’t have to take up valuable space on your computer, you can use one of the many free cloud storage devices, such as Dropbox, G Drive or iCloud.

If you use an office desk, take everything out of the drawers, be ruthless and throw away anything you no longer need or use. If you have anything with personal information on, burn or shred it. Organise your drawers, so you know where everything is. If you have lots of electronic devices, chances are you’ll have a spaghetti-like muddle of cables and wires. That can be distracting or sometimes, even dangerous. Get them sorted using a cable organisation system or plastic ties. There are loads of products to help you with this – simply Google search or look on Amazon. Finally, I just LOVE stationery! I have loads of pens, pads, staplers and little gadgets. I don’t necessarily need them all on my desk, so if you’re the same, it’s time to find a place to put them. Organise them into a drawer, or in a box so you know where they are when you want to use them. Oh, might have to buy some little stationery boxes! How does this boost productivity? A clean and clear office space will help you feel more organised and motivated, whereas a messy space makes for muddled thoughts and needless stress; a huge pile of paper can make you feel overwhelmed. A cluttered desk also serves as a distraction, so if it’s clean and clear, you can start the day knowing where everything is and concentrate on what needs to be done. What do you do to help keep your desk uncluttered and your mind clear? I’d love to hear from you! Contact Cindy Mobey Tel: 05 45 31 13 86 ~ Email:


Simply register on our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 41

by Isabelle Want



h no! It is that time of the year again when you have to fill in your income tax form. It’s all in French and there are lots of pages and boxes to fill in. And they may have changed it again!

Well, worry not, help is at hand. I will try to explain it to you, making it simple and covering the most common revenues. So for more technical information contact me directly. 1. Changes: Actually none - so good news! 2. Important dates: You have to declare your revenue for the year 2018 (1 January to 31 December). However, the tax office accepts that you use the revenue corresponding to the UK tax year. You can start completing the forms online (unless it is your first time) from 10 April until 21 May (Charente, Charente Maritime) or until 4 June (Vienne, Haute-Vienne and The Deux-Sèvres). If you fill it in on paper you have until 16 May to hand it in or send by post. The result (the bill) is called Avis d’ imposition and is sent to you from mid-August. Note that in September 2019, the French government will then readjust the amount that they take out of your current account monthly, according to your situation; so more, less, or even reimburse you if you had less income than 2017. If you are an employee they may change the tax percentage on your salary. 3. What forms and how to complete them: The 2042 is the blue form that everybody has to fill in and it is on this that you report what you have put in on other forms. However, there are different versions of the 2042: 2042: This is the normal blue 2042 form that everyone has to fill in - without exception. Check or fill in the information on page 1 (name, address, etc.). On page 2, check or complete the information required (marital status, etc.) and make sure it is correct as they can give you allowances or discounts (invalidity, number of children living with you, etc). 2042RICI: This is the form on which you report things that give you tax credits such as employing a gardener or cleaner, giving to charity, having kids at college, lycée, etc. or doing some work on your house related to saving energy and ecology. 2042C Pro: For the self-employed in France where you fill in your professional revenue. Also the form you use if you have to pay the wealth tax (if your worldwide assets are worth more than 1.3 million euro). It’s complicated, so contact me. You also declare revenues from gîtes or chambre d’hôtes on this form. 2044: Complete this if your rental income is more than to 15 000€ per annum. 2047: A purple form (or pink) on which you enter your revenue from abroad: Enter all your pension revenues (even those from the civil service that are taxed in the UK) on page 1, section 1 in the box called Pensions, retraites, rentes. Be careful, you must tick the box stating if the pension is public (e.g. civil servant) or Privé (private and state pension). So if you have both, tick both boxes. You then have to report pensions to the pension section on the 2042, page 3, section 1, line 1AM (or 1BM for declarant 2) for pensions taxed in France (state pension and private pensions) and line 1AL (or 1BL for declarant 2) for pensions taxed in the UK (teachers, civil servants, military, NHS, etc.).

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019

In section 2 - on page 2 enter the interest you earned on savings in the UK. And yes, ISAs and Premium Bonds are taxable in France if you are French resident! So you have to put them at the bottom of page 2 in the box 230 intérêts. Enter the country of origin, then insert the amount on line 233, then again on line 237 and 242. Now you report the amount in line 2TR, page 3, section 2 of the 2042. In section 4 - enter the revenues from house rental abroad. Then report on section 6 to get the tax credit (because it is taxed in the UK) and report on line 4BE and 4BK, section 4 of the 2042. If revenues from rental are greater than 15 000€, you must complete form 2044. In section 6 - put the revenue from government pensions (military, police, NHS, civil servant, etc.) and rental income from property in the UK (those will always be taxed in the UK whether you are French resident or not). Then report the amount on line 8TK, page 4, section 8 of the 2042. 3916: if you have a bank account outside France, you have to declare it on this form (section 1 and 4). One form per account. Or if you have several accounts, on a blank A4 paper. Don’t forget to date and sign the forms! The exchange rate for 2018 is 1.13€ (that is the average of last year). You can get another rate from your local tax office, use theirs if it is lower than 1.13€! NB. When you ask the official Paris tax office, they tell you to use the rate from the ‘banque de France’ on the day you got paid, or use the average for the year. If your pension has been directly transferred to your French bank account, add up all the figures of last year as long as it is a gross amount (not taxed at source). 4. Help: A complete guide on how to fill in your tax forms online is on our web site: If you are one of my customers, you are entitled to free help in our offices: • •

Ruffec on Thursday 9 May (all day apart from lunchtime 12-2pm) Chasseneuil-sur-Bonnieure on Tuesday 14 May (all day apart from lunchtime 12-2pm)

If you are not an existing customer (well, you should be!), you can attend the tax seminar organised by the association ‘Le coq et la Rose’ in Paizay-Naudoin on 7 May. For more information and to book a place contact Liz Combes Please make sure you have all the figures ready and the relevant forms (you can get them from your local tax office) when you come to see me. Otherwise I get grumpy! And remember to check out our website en for all my previous articles (‘practical information’) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt And don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subject such as funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc.

No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

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

Email: Visit our website:

Ask Amanda H

i Amanda, are you running any Tour de Finance events this year?

As part of our commitment to increasing awareness of financial services available to expatriates living in France, The Spectrum IFA Group, in association with Currencies Direct, will be hosting the following event, just on the edge of the Deux-Sèvres : 5 June Château de Nieuil Restaurant la Grange-aux-Oies 16270, Nieuil

by Amanda Johnson

Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail: amanda.johnson@ amanda-johnson

The Spectrum IFA Group is fully regulated to offer financial advice in France and we do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide. The event starts at 10am with registration and coffee, with presentations underway at 10.30am, followed by a complimentary buffet lunch at midday, where you can informally ask any questions of the specialists in attendance. We typically finish by 2pm. Our Tour de Finance seminars are always well attended, so please book in advance to ensure we can accommodate you. Further details can be found on: Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our roadshow events or speak to me directly, please call or email and I will be glad to help. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations.

Brain Gym: Q1: An egg. Q6: They are all married. Q2: The post office. Q7: Bookkeeper. Q3: John. Q8: She took a picture of him and Q4: All of them. Every month developed it in her dark room. has at least 28 days. Q9: a) Paradox Q5: A dead bird. b) Condescending Toughie Crossword: Theme - wood/trees Across: 1. denim 4. top hole 8. sob 9. greenwood 10. eagle 11. opposer 13. the Woodentops 16. allegro 18. bosun 19. decilitre 21. ita 22. Roxanne 23. see 4 down Down: 1. descent 2. no big deal 3. magneto 4 and 23 across. the wood for the trees 5. pin-up 6. omo 7. elder 12. Scots pine 14. noblest 15. sandals 16. alder 17. Golan 20. cox Easy Crossword: Across: 1. Caesar 4. Lubeck 8. speak 9. unearth 10. gaffe 11. egghead 12. centurion 15. burglar 16. gamma 17. Renault 18. crazy 19. Baltic 20. absent Down: 2. appeal 3. staff sergeant 5. Brachiosaurus 6. catnap 7. bureaucrats 13. eureka 14. Amazon

Take a Break - SOLUTIONs

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, May 2019| 43

Take control of your finances in an uncertain world T

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks

hey say the only certainties in life are death and taxes, but you can control some things to your benefit today.

Taxation of assets: Some France-compliant investment opportunities offer tax efficiency while also providing benefits like currency and income flexibility. Meanwhile, UKcentric portfolios may see increased taxation with Brexit, as some non-EU/EEA assets may be treated differently. For example, once UK life assurance policies become non-EU/EEA assets, they may no longer receive beneficial tax treatment in France. At any time, the UK can potentially increase the tax burden for nonresidents. Tougher tax rules may also follow a change in government, including the possibility of a wealth tax on higher-value UK assets. A locally-based adviser can advise about asset protection and taking advantage of tax-efficient opportunities in France. Taxation of pensions: Today, expatriates can access UK pensions without UK taxation, but the recent 25% ‘overseas transfer charge’ may indicate things to come. While EU residents are only affected if transferring funds to Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) outside the EU/EEA, the scope may increase post-Brexit. Once you are non-UK resident, you may find fewer advantages to keeping UK pensions there. Take regulated, personalised pensions advice to establish the most suitable approach for you before the taxfree window potentially closes. Investments: Brexit is just one of many external influences that can

disrupt markets. Diversification is the key to minimising risk. A portfolio of mixed asset types from different countries, regions and market sectors is best placed to ride out turbulence and produce positive returns over time. If you mainly hold UK assets, returns are more vulnerable to the fortunes of sterling and the British economy. You need to make sure your investments offer the right balance of risk and return for your peace of mind. An experienced financial professional can use the appropriate tools to create an objective risk profile for you. Estate planning: Death is unavoidable, but good estate planning can offer some control. Even after Brexit, you can override French ‘forced heirship rules’ by applying the law of your nationality to your estate through the EU regulation, ‘Brussels IV’. While this ensures your legacy is distributed according to your written wishes, beware the potential tax implications. If you are seen as UK-domiciled, your estate may attract UK inheritance tax as well as succession taxes in France and wherever you own assets. Explore options for restructuring your wealth to reduce tax liabilities for your heirs. Careful tax, pensions, investments and estate planning can steer your financial future in the right direction. Cross-border financial planning is complex, so take specialist, personalised advice for the best results. 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

Tax-efficient solutions for expatriates in France With advisers living locally and backed by teams of specialists, we can help you make the most of your wealth and living in France. Our holistic advice covers: Tax planning | minimising tax on income, capital gains, wealth, pensions and inheritances. Estate planning | helping ensure the right money goes to the right people at the right time.

Talk to the people who know

05 49 75 07 24

Investments | designing portfolios to suit your circumstances and goals. UK pensions | exploring your options to find the best solution for you.


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

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, May 2019| 45



by Joanna Leggett

n France a keen gardener is of course described as having ‘le main vert’! With spring’s early start, gardens raced into bloom this year. Time to visit garden centres, plant sales and Les Floralies expos which show villages and towns to their best advantage. Plant stalls burgeon, their fare spills over pavements and more often than not into my car! There’s nothing like sitting in your garden, as the sun goes down, refreshed with appropriate beverage, admiring your efforts and planning an excursion to look at someone else’s garden! At Leggett Immobilier, we’re delighted to sponsor the French Open Gardens scheme. Since 2013 it’s spread rapidly, thriving like any well-tended garden, they aim to open gardens throughout France by 2121. Visit their website to see what’s open and when – or perhaps consider opening your own garden next year? All monies raised support childrens’ cancer charities - has all the information. So this month we’re showcasing properties with lovely gardens to tempt you and those green fingers … In a green valley close to Chef Boutonne, this comfortably renovated, lovely home (Leggett ref: 90217) just oozes character. With spacious living, four bedrooms and three bathrooms it’s ideal for family life. Best of all, it’s set in a walled garden (laid mainly to lawn with an orchard). Another walled courtyard surrounds the swimming pool. Here you’ll be able to garden to your heart’s content in the fertile Deux-Sèvres countryside - 189,000€.

Meanwhile in the heart of Chef Boutonne, with all its attractions, sits this deceptively spacious home (Leggett ref: 95068) and, with three entrances and staircases, it could make the perfect B&B or separate rentals. Generous living spaces on the ground floor include a stunning library/office, upstairs are eight bedrooms and three bathrooms providing maximum flexibility – but perhaps its the gorgeous garden which will really win your heart. There are rose walks and beautiful planting, wisteria cascades from the trellis over the outdoor eating area and there’s a fab. swimming pool and bar area. This highly flexible property is for sale for 262,150€. Close to Thouars in SainteRadegonde (famed for its bakery) is our final beautiful property (Leggett ref: 84964) which offers the most stunning views over the Thouet valley. West facing, this charming home offers lovely living spaces and the master bedroom suite on the ground floor, with three more bedrooms upstairs, the fifth is currently used as a snug/TV room. But again it’s the outside which is set to seduce as you look over roses towards the heated and fully automated swimming pool (there’s even atmospheric garden lighting), this is a home to cosset you- 338,140€ - and perhaps inspire you too to open your garden next year? Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at


FAYE SUR ARDIN €288,900 Ref: 97967 Character 3 bed farmhouse with a pretty garden and outbuildings.

Buying or selling?

LES FORGES €162,000 Ref: 97799 Wooden cabin in a secluded location with more than 1.2Ha of land.

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

Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

CHEF BOUTONNE €114,450 Ref: 98541 3 bed house with original features, mature garden and workshop.

LORIGNE €168,480 Ref: 98998 Character country home with attached barn and garden with pool.

THOUARS €214,380 Ref: 98633 Handsome 3 bed property in a market town with all amenities.

EXOUDUN €36,000 Ref: 99244 Village house needing work. Close to pretty river walks with a garden.

9% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: C

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

8% TTC agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: D

20% TTC agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: G

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

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, May 2019