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Annual Subscription Costs: 31,00€ within France, 20€ UK addresses. (Unfortunately the cheaper ‘printed papers’ rate cannot be applied to addresses within France, only when sending abroad) Full Name:.................................................................................................. Postal Address:........................................................................................... ................................................................................................................... Postcode:..................................... Country:............................................. Tel:.............................................................................................................. Email:.......................................................................................................... Please make cheques payable to SARAH BERRY.

Welcome! to Issue 57 of

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

Hi everyone. Well, it seems it’s that time of year again... where we close the shutters until Spring! Whilst I love the colours we see this season, I’m not a big fan of this time of year – too cold for me! Not to worry, there are plenty of activities to keep us entertained through the darker months. If you like the popular Television show ‘Strictly Come Dancing’, you will be excited to see the dance class advert on page 17 - if not, then the rest of our hobbies page has lots to offer too! With the shedding of leaves it’s amazing what you can see through the hedgerows as you drive through the countryside. As well as lots of fantastic properties, there’s an abundance of wildlife; see our centre-page ‘Winter Watch’ feature to realise what lives with and around us. It’s also that time of year where we think about the ‘C’ word – Christmas! And what presents we can buy for our loved ones. To help, some of the regular, popular and new Christmas markets appear this month. Huge thanks, as always, go to our regular team of contributors, you the readers and all advertisers past and present for your support. We can’t do it without you! Until next month.... Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email: Website:

à plus, Sarah

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

112 €pean Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

Contents What’s On 4 Getting Out & About 6 Hobbies 12 Clubs & Associations 16 Our Furry Friends 18 Health, Beauty & Fitness 20 A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres 21 Communications 22 Take a Break 24 Winter Watch25 Home & Garden 28 Food & Drink 31 Motoring 35 Building & Renovation 38 Business & Finance 44 Property 49

This Month’s Advertisers

79 Renovations ABORDimmo ACE Language Services Ace Pneus (Tyre supplier & Fitter) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petit Travaux (Builder) A La Bonne Vie Alan Pearce Plumber Allez Français Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) ARB French Property Arbrecadabra Tree Surgery

38 49 8 37 2 38 34 42 51 44 43 29 & 51 29

Argo Carpentry 40 Assurances Maucourt (GAN) 49 Bar le Clemenceau 7 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 48 Bill McEvoy (Plumber / Heating Engineer) 42 Blevins Franks Financial Management 45 Building & Renovation Services 43 Buzz Transport 36 Café Bonbon 33 Camping Les Prairies du Lac 49 Caniclôture Hidden Fences 18 Cherry Picker Hire 38 Chris Bassett Construction 38 Chris Parsons (Heating/Electrical/Plumbing) 42 Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) 6 CJ Electricité 39 Claranne’s Pantry 6 Claudie Harpin - Agent Commerciale 51 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 43 Currencies Direct - Sue Cook 44 Cut 46 Hair Salon 20 CYM Cards 7 Darren Lawrence (Renovations etc) 40 David Cropper (Stump Grinding) 28 David Watkins Chimney Sweep 43 Deb Challacombe (Online counsellor) 20 Down to Earth Pool Design 49 Duncan White - Agent Commerciale 50 Ecopower €pe (Solar Power) 39 Franglais Deliveries 36 Ginger’s Kitchen 32 Grindrods Premium Frozen Foods 32 Hallmark Electronique 39 Inter Décor (Tiles & Bathrooms) 40 Irving Location - Digger Hire 41 Irving Location - Septic Tank Installation & Groundworks 41 James Moon Construction 41 Jb Plumbing 42 Jeff’s Metalwork 40 John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 36 John Snee Groundworks 41 Julia Hunt - Agent Commerciale 50 La Deuxième Chance (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint supplier) 28 Leggett Immobilier 50 L’Emporium Shop, L’Absie 8 Les Dames de F.E.R - Marché de Noël 7 Le Tour de Finance 46 & 47 Mark Sabestini Renovation & Construction 38 ML Computers 23 Motor Parts Charente 36 M. Page Landscaping 28 Mr Piano Man 14 MSS Construction 38 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 49 Needa Hand Services 28 Over-Winter Your Vehicle 36 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology) 20 Paul Woods - Agent Commerciale 49 Pause! Café L’Absie 7 Photocreativity Film Transfers 23 Plan 170 (Professional Scale Drawings) 38 Poitou Solaire 39 Polar Express 33 Premier Autos 37 Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) 49 Reaction Theatre’s Christmas Cornucopia 5 Restaurant des Canards 34 Rob Berry Plastering Services 40 Robert Lupton Electrician 39 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) 22 Sarah Berry Online (Websites & Graphics) 23 Sarl Down to Earth Construction (Groundworks and Micro Station Installer) 41 Sarl PCEM (Plumbing, heating & Electricity) 42 Satellite TV 23 Simon the Tiler 40 Simply Homes & Gardens 29 Steve Coupland (Property Services) 40 Steve Robin (Plumber) 42 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 9 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 36 Val Assist (Translation Services) 9 Victoria Bassey Jewellery 20 Vocal Coaching with Anne Dessens 14

© Sarah Berry 2015. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Sarah Berry accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. <<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Sarah Berry, 3 La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tél: 05 49 70 26 21. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Sarah Berry. Crédits photos: Sarah Berry, Clkr, Shutterstock, GraphicStock et Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: novembre 2015 - Tirage: 5000 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 3

What’s On...

1st November - Halloween Canards Live Jazz With Sunday Roast at Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne. 5th November - Fawkes Fair at Café Bonbon 4pm-8pm, Jacket spuds & treacle toffee, stalls & Guy Fawkes competition 5th November - Inheritance & Taxation Advice Seminar In L’aiguillon Sur Vie (85). 6th November - Inheritance & Taxation Advice Seminars In Chemillois (49) and Saint-Loup-Lamairé. 7th November - Bonfire Night Meal At Salle de Maisontiers by Ginger’s Kitchen. 4 courses with apratif, wine and coffee, 14€. See advert on P.32 for contacts. 8th November - Act of Remembrance at Puy de Serre At 10.45am (the day on which the Cenotaph Parade takes place in London). 9th November - CSSG Quiz at St Pardoux See P.17 for more details. 11th November - Act of Remembrance at Angles At 2.30pm - at the crash site of a Halifax bomber which occurred in 1941. Read full article and details on P.10. 11th November - Remembrance commemoration At the Jardin Public, Parthenay at 11am. 11th November - The Spectrum IFA Group Seminar in Avrillé 14th & 15th November - Marché de Noël Christmas Market organised by Claranne’s Pantry - selling English food products + more than 20 stalls. At Salle Polyvalante, St Paul Mont Penit (85). See advert on P.6. 15th November - AmnesTEA and Exhibition of Patchwork In the Salle des Fêtes in Taizé Aizie, 10am-5pm. Tel: 06 85 75 70 04, email: 15th November - Christmas Trader’s Fayre At Bar le Clemenceau., Mouilleron-en-Pareds...see advert on P.7 20th November - Fundraising Quiz Night and Meal in Pioussay At the Salle des Fêtes, 7.30pm, by Parents Association of Lorigné and Pioussay Schools. 10€ per person (bar extra). To reserve please ring Sam 06 58 04 26 73 or Angie 05 49 27 67 15. 21st November - Grumpy’s Fun Quiz at Ste. Gemme See entry on Clubs & Associations page (16) for details. 22nd November - Marché de Noel At Parzac Church. Organised by Les Dames de FER. See advert on P.7 23rd November - CSSG Quiz at St Pardoux See P.17 for more details. 25th November - Book and Coffee Morning At 45 rue du Bois Baudron, 79100 Mauzé Thouarsais, 10am-12.30pm. Moneys raised will go to the Helianthus Charity. 28th November - Tropical Night At Café Bonbon, La Chapel aux Lys. See advert on P.33 for details. 28th November - Festive Food Fayre & Christmas Crafts At Pause! Café L’Absie. See all info on advert P.7. 28th & 29th November - Marché de Noel At Fenioux. See advert on P.6 for further information.

What’s Coming Up...

3rd December - Christmas Cornucopia Performed by Reaction Theatre. See advert, P.5. 5th December - CSSG Christmas Lunch in St Hilaire de Voust 6th December - Festive Jazzy Lunch At Restaurant des Canards, Chef Botuonne from 12 noon. See advert on P.34 for information. Reservations necessary. 12th December - Terves Christmas Market (See advert on P.7) 12th December - Christmas Celebration Concert of words & Music by Phoenix Chorale at La Baronnière, Civray at 5pm. 12th December - Soiree Écossais Scottish themed five course dinner by Ginger’s Kitchen. 15€ At Salle de Maisontiers by Ginger’s Kitchen. 4 courses with apratif, wine and coffee, 14€. See advert on P.32 for contacts. 13th December - Christmas Fair at Café BonBon

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2015 Sunday 1st November All Saint’s Day (Toussaint) Wednesday 11th November Armistice Day (Armistice) Friday 25th December Christmas Day (Noël)

4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

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

The Filling Station ~ Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians of all denominations who meet together regularly for spiritual renewal and evangelism purposes. ALL WELCOME. Please see our bilingual website for details of meetings and summer programmes or contact Mike & Eva Willis on 05 17 34 11 50 or 07 82 22 31 15 ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre We hold two services each month, on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee is served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a `bring and share` lunch. For details of all our activities, our Services in the west of the Vendée, copies of recent newsletters and more information, please check our website: The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship welcome you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. 1st & 3rd Sunday at 11am in The Barn near St Germain de Princay, Vendée and 2nd & 4th Sunday at 11am in two locations: one near Bressuire, Deux-Sèvres and the other near Bournezeau, Vendée. Meetings last about an hour and are followed by a time of fellowship & refreshments. Find out more by contacting Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or Des & Elizabeth Vine 05 49 74 18 27 or visit: The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) Meet at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday at 11.00am. We welcome and embrace all Christians from all denominations and warmly invite you to join us. Following the service, coffee is served, and for those who wish to stay a little longer, we enjoy a light, bring and share lunch. Please see our website for details

November’s CHRISTMAS MARKETS (Organised by the villages, usually held in the village halls. Other privately run Christmas Markets can be seen in the What’s On listing opposite)

14-15th Corme-Royal (17) 15th Ayron (86) 15th La Ronde (17) 15th Liglet (86) 28-29th Fenioux (79160) 28th St Loup sur Thouet, 3pm-11pm (79600) 28th Saint-Etienne-du-Bois (85) 28th Chasseneuil-sur-Bonnieure (16) 28th Châteauneuf-sur-Charente (16) 29th St Loup sur Thouet, 10am-7pm (79600) 29th Brioux sur Boutonne (79170) 29th Chauray (79180) 29th St Paul Mont Penit (85) 29th La Pommeraie-sur-Sèvre (85) 29th Nieuil l’Espoir (86) 29th Croix-Chapeau (17) 29th Pommiers-Moulons (17) 29th Saint-Germain-de-Lusignan (17)

Open 6-8.30pm

Open 6 - 8pm

Fish 4 Chip + Authentic Indian meals

La Vendée Chippy Weds: Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, 85110 St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: Closed on Thursdays until next March(2016) Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, 85390 Mouilleron-en-Pareds Sat: 1st Saturday of the month, Bar ‘Le Marmiton’, 85120 Antigny

We are now collecting for this year’s Poppy Appeal

Mondays: Tuesdays: Wednesdays: Thursdays: Fridays:

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20 -

Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 -

Top Hat Quiz & Curry

From 7pm

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

Returning from holiday Thursday 5th November at Aulnay de Saintonage

Dates & Venues for October: 2nd: Limalonges 5th: Chef Boutonne 12th: Champniers 13th: Aigre Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 - more info at

With regular venues at: • • •

Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) • Beauvais-sur-Matha 17490 • Gourville 16170


St Hilaire de Villefranche 17770

St Jean d’Angély 17400

See for details or call 06 02 22 44 74


Sarah Berry on 05 49 70 26 21 Monday - Friday 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm

Open 6.30-9pm

Mr T’s Friterie

Reel Fish & Chips

Open 6.30-9pm


(See our website for venue details)

4th & 18th - Etusson 5th - La Coudre 6th - Bouillé-Loretz

19th - St Martin de Sanzay 20th - La Chapelle Thireuil

Tel: 06 04 14 23 94 -

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Visit and go to Distribution>Magazine Archives. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 5

Getting Out & About

The Christmas Market...

by Ali Kelly

I’m sure I’m not the only one who misses something about living in Blighty... For me it’s Baked Beans and Crumpets, which is easily fixed, thank goodness, by a kind friend or relative who travels over to see me by car. But what if you miss something a bit more specific? such as, let’s say, an English speaking local radio programme based here in North Deux-Sèvres, packed with relevant and timely hints and tips to help with your life in France. Is it too much to ask? Never... And if you have a minute, I would like to introduce you to Good Morning UK , the English speaking radio programme dedicated to all English speakers here in France. It’s on 95.2 FM Radio Val D’Or for 30 minutes the first Saturday of each month from 11am. Or, you can listen anytime to the podcast online at Good Morning UK covers a wide range of topics relevant to English speakers in France. With interviews, recommendations, money saving ideas, events around and about and much more...... There’s always a couple of songs too - guaranteed to put you into a great frame of mind for the rest of the day. So, whether you are new to France and still finding your feet or maybe you are just feeling ‘all out at sea’ with it all.  Let me help you find your way by bringing you a slice of home to you wherever you might be.

Les Dames de F.E.R. are very happy to be partnering the Heritage committee of Parzac once more to be hosting their second Christmas market in the heart of the village church. The market will take place on Sunday 22nd November 2015. Doors open at 10am and the event will close for the evening at 7pm. ‘Cassonade’ will be providing a musical interlude at 5pm for those who want to relax and enjoy a festive ambiance whilst shopping. Parzac village church provides an intimate and typically French venue for a variety of carefully-chosen market traders selling a range of locally-sourced or hand-crafted products. Sew Chic, Crochez-Moi, SylvieO, JuSu and Victoria Bassey Jewellery are among the stallholders this year. Cakes will be available on the day from Château Gâteau and from the Dames de F.E.R. cake stand. Pois Chic will also be providing customers with middle-Easterninspired delicacies from their falafel stall. For further information, see the Dames de F.E.R. website or contact by email:

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, November 2015

Small Colour Advert

only 35€

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 7

La Brocante

by Clare Kershaw

It was a match made in heaven - Tricia - who loves to browse shops, and Clare - who makes items to sell in shops and needs more space! Together Tricia and Clare have opened a shop selling items from multiple businesses, all under the one roof. Introducing L’Emporium at L’Absie.

Co-owner Clare, runs ‘La petite boite de couture’ and has been running a separate shop for just over a year, having been registered since 2008 making curtains, blinds and altering clothes. She now needs more space for selling clothing, shoes, bags and accessories and also has some haberdashery items for sale. Lesley has been selling Crown paints alongside her husband’s business for a while now and has many decorating products including a wide range of Crown colours on offer. Her prices are very competitive, so come in and take a look! Cindy has been making her own jewellery for years. She started making for herself and then had the idea of selling the items. They are an ideal gift for the lady in your life. Cindy will be making the jewellery in the shop, so do visit and watch her at work. Gwen moved here in 2009. She has always sewn, making her children’s clothes. Then she did a porcelain doll course and had to dress dolls she made. She decided to register her business in 2013 selling at craft fairs, summer and winter fetes. Gwen promotes her business on Facebook, ‘La Cachette Treasures’. Please visit her page to see the various handmade items or pop in and say “Hello”.

Team Emporium welcomes you! 16 rue de la Poste, L’Absie 79240

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

ACE Language Services

by Helen Ace

Quel Navet ! What a flop ! by Sue Burgess

Thanks to Keith Bradley for pointing out a mistake that slipped into last month’s article about veggies. Parsnips are of course panais and a navet is a turnip. That is unless of course it is a complete flop! (the alternative meaning for navet). To express your tastes and your opinions, you can use adjectives or adverbs: C’est bien è c’est mal (it’s good è it’s bad) C’est passionnant è c’est ennuyeux (it’s enthralling è it’s boring) C’est bon è c’est mauvais (it’s good è it’s bad) C’est juste è c’est faux (it’s correct è it’s wrong). You can give your opinion about someone or something: C’est un bon film è c’est un mauvais film (it’s a good film è it’s a bad film) C’est une idée excellente è c’est une mauvaise idée (it’s an excellent idea è it’s a bad idea). C’est un garçon sympathique è c’est un garçon déplaisant (He’s a pleasant boy è he’s an unpleasant boy). Be careful: bien / mal are adverbs (they don’t change) - You should say: “Il est bien, ton rapport“ or “C’est un bon rapport“ (it is good, your report / It is a good report). You can shade your opinion by using words such as très (very), plutôt (rather), assez (quite), or familiar expressions like super, hyper, vachement (great, top, really). C’est super bon. C’est hyper bon. C’est vachement bon. You can also use the negative form: Ce n’est pas bon = c’est mauvais. Ce n’est pas mauvais = c’est bon.

Hyper bon / super bon / vachement bon / excellent / exquis, (exquisite) succulent, (succulent), super chouette (really great). From very positive to less positive: très bon / très /assez / plutôt / assez bon / plutôt bon / pas mauvais / sans intérêt (without interest). And from bad to very bad: pas trop mauvais / pas bon / franchement mauvais / horrible or other adjectives: affreux (awful), nul (rubbish), vachement mauvais (really bad), ennuyeux (boring). If you like slang type expressions you have super mauvais (REALLY bad) and hyper mauvais (really really bad).

‘The DSM’ Advertiser Feedback...

We receive a number of comments from both French and English readers on our articles and adverts. The magazine is the main channel for informing ex-pats of our activities, reaching the Charente, Vendée and the Vienne, as well as Deux-Sèvres.

Vocabulary / Vocabulaire: une opinion positive sur une A positive opinion about a personne.................................. person .................................. beau/belle ............................... handsome / beautiful

moderne .................................. modern superbe ...................................

By using combinations of the expressions given above, you have different shades ranging from positive opinions to negative opinions, slang expressions and more formal expressions.


sympathique ........................... nice

A positive opinion about a une opinion positive sur un plat meal .......................................

élégant(e) ................................ elegant

délicieux .................................. delicious

dynamique .............................. dynamic

A negative opinion about a une opinion négtive sur une person ..................................... personne

franc/franche .......................... frank sérieux/sérieuse ...................... serious génial(e) .................................. really great une opinion positive sur un A positive opinion about an objet......................................... object original .................................... different fonctionnel .............................. functional / practical

antipathique ............................ unpleasant bête ......................................... stupid une opinion négative sur un plat A negative opinion about a meal immangeable .......................... inedible dégueulasse (slang and quite disgusting vulgar) .....................................

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 9

WE SHALL For the last few years, the Congregations of All Saints Vendée have held a memorial service at a crash site near Angles and at the local cemetery in Angles for a group of airmen who lost their lives on 24th July 1941. On Wednesday 11th November, this year’s service will be held at the crash site (which is midway between Angles and Les Conches on the D468 on the north side of the road) at 2.30pm,


ere in the Vendée is a small memorial to five young men who lost their lives in the Second World War. They were the British crew of Halifax Bomber, L9527-M.

followed at approximately 3pm by an Act of Remembrance in the cemetery in Angles. For those not familiar with the story, the following is based on an article written by Joan Stewart in November 2014, which was published on the All Saints Vendée website.

They were buried by the Germans in a communal grave in the local cemetery at Angles. Local people were not allowed to attend, but the mayor, the local policeman and the grave-digger, had to attend by law. The following morning the grave was covered with flowers and, drawn on a wooden board, a Union Jack, with a message of thanks and hope. The two who had managed to parachute out were captured, interrogated and sent to POW camps. And was the raid successful? Well, partially. Five direct hits on the `Scharnhorst`, but it did not sink. Three of the armourpiercing bombs went straight through all the decks and hull without exploding, the others caused some damage and a fire. The battleship was taking in water and was out of action for the rest of the year, but it did manage to limp to Brest for repairs. The German Navy had long considered it a lucky ship and it was still living up to its reputation.

Halifax Mk3. Source:Wikipedia.

The commemorative standing stone is to be found at `Le Terrier du Four’, on the road from Angles to Les Conches, on the spot where the aeroplane crashed to earth. Each year, on Remembrance Day, a short service is held here and at the site of their graves in Angles churchyard. Theirs is a sad story, though full of bravery and courage. The German battleship, `Scharnhorst` had been spotted, moored near La Rochelle, a major threat to Atlantic convoys. In order to remove the threat, a daylight bombing raid was decided upon. Accordingly, on July 24th 1941, an attacking force of fifteen Halifax bombers set off from RAF Stanton Harcourt. This type of bomber had only been in service for a few months at this time and they were considered able to defend themselves without fighter support. They flew to Lizard point in Cornwall, then turned south. The plan was to avoid detection by enemy radar and to approach La Rochelle from the west. Unfortunately, one hundred miles from their target, they were seen by an enemy destroyer who opened fire and so they lost the element of surprise. Chaos ensued. As they neared the `Scharnhorst` they were met by a terrible barrage of flak from shore batteries. They were fired at by the 51 guns of the battleship itself and its attendant destroyer. Some thirty fighter planes were already in the air attacking them repeatedly. The sky turned black with smoke. Despite all this they continued with the attack……. Four Halifaxes were lost, as were four of the Messerschmitt fighters. L9527-M was last seen spiralling down to the ground with plumes of black smoke trailing from two burning engines. Two members of the crew managed to parachute out but the other five died in the crash.

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

You are probably wondering what happened to the other three Halifax bombers that came down in that raid. Only a few miles away from Le Terrier du Four, south of L`Aiguillon sur Mer, there is another memorial stone to the crew of L 9529. It came down in shallow sea near a jetty a couple of miles south of the town. Of its seven crew members, three were captured and sent to prisoner of war camps. The four others died in the crash. One is buried in the military cemetery at Pornic [in Loire-Atlantique], the other three are buried in the cemetery at L`Aiguillon-sur-Mer. The crew of L9512 came down on the Ile de Re. All were captured and sent to POW camps. L9517 came down in the sea off La Rochelle. None of the crew survived the crash. Of the four bodies recovered, two were buried in the cemetery at St Martin de Ré on the Ile de Ré. Two others were interred in the military cemetery at Pornic. The remaining three, whose bodies were never found, are commemorated in the RAF Memorial at Runnymede, near Egham in Surrey.


by Dennis Davison

ilfred Davison (photo left) served throughout WWII being called up on 29th August 1939, at the age of 19, into the 4th Battalion Dorsetshire Regiment where, after seeing action in France, he was promoted to Sergeant.

In 1942 he volunteered for Parachute training, received his ‘Wings’ and joined the 2nd Battalion Parachute Regiment. After serving in North Africa and Sicily he returned to England for Officer training after which he joined the 13th Battalion Parachute Regiment at Bulford Camp as a 2nd Lieutenant. December 24th 1944 the 13th Battalion were sent urgently to Belgium to confront the Germans (The Battle of the Bulge). Wilfred led one of two platoons into Bure to recapture the village. Eventually they succeeded but he was injured and taken to Louvain where a piece of shrapnel was removed from his back. For his action in Bure he was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palm and the Order of Leopold avec Palm. Wilfred went on to see action at the Rhine (where he was promoted to Captain), India, Bombay, Singapore and Java before returning to his family in 1946. Today, at the age of 95 years and now quite frail, Wilfred is living in Devizes, Wiltshire near his family and friends. The poem below was written by Wilfred in November 2013.


Wear Your Poppy with Pride Poppy Appeal...

The poppy boxes have now all been placed ... you can find them at the following venues in Deux-Sèvres: Golf Club, Les Forges The Lemon Tree, Sauzé Vaussais Mad Hatter’s Kitchen, Caunay Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne Chez Tante Mabel, Pers A La Bonne Vie, Le Beugnon Café Theatre, Parthenay Newsagents, Parthenay l’Eclerc Bar le Drapeau, Parthenay GAN Assurance, Parthenay La Citadel restaurant, Parthenay Maiso St Jacques, Parthenay Pause! Café, L’Absie Bar la Poste, L’Absie Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux Cut 46 Hair Salon, Fenioux Chateau du Chat, Reffanes Ranton Church, Airvault

Alternatively please see the website for a full list of venues within the Poitou-Charentes region.

Almost a hundred years ago, the start of blood and slaughter, Galipoli, the Western Front, the Somme, Ypres and Passiondale Trenches with duck boards soaked in mud, blood and water Barbed wire above with remnants of khaki clothing stirring like a sail Tommies with rifles and bayonets having a smoke, resting, Waiting for the next whistle to order them to their next testing . Lest we forget. The little ships at Dunkirk, Arnhem, the Atlantic convoy Desert Rats, Spitfires in the sky, ration books and bombss,at Tin hats and gas masks, gunfire and explosions, a frighte night, noise. Young children crying in the shelter, mothers praying forning dayligh t. ‘D’ Day landings, the drive through Germany to meet the ‘V.E.’ Day celebrations, then long political discussions. Russians Lest we forget. The Far East, the bridge over the River Quai, Singapore, flies and diseases in P.O.W. camps in the jungles of Burma Korea, Vietnam, Sarajevo, Afghanistan and Iraq. So many places to die Egypt, the Falkland Isles, too many battlefields to remember. Three generations have suffered war, bombing, horror and Asking their young men and women to lay down their life. strife, Lest we forget.

Wilfred Davison. Capt. 13th Battalion Parachute Regiment November 2013

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 11

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

“Women’s Fiction”

I put this month’s title in quotes on purpose because it is a touchy subject.

“Women’s fiction”, sometimes called “commercial women’s fiction”, is considered an umbrella term for books focusing on women’s life experience, and marketed to female readers. Its characters are often women attempting to overcome both personal and external adversity. Although women’s fiction can deal with abuse, poverty, divorce, family breakdown or similar, it usually has a relationship at its centre. The resolution is almost always life-affirming, sometimes including romantic love, even if the story is a sad one. Whether pure relationship stories, historical, generational sagas or mysteries, women’s commercial fiction taps into the hopes, fears, dreams and even secret fantasies of today’s woman. A man may be waiting for the heroine of these novels but he’s not the centre of events. Stories of sisters or women’s friendships are currently in vogue. Women are the majority buyers and majority writers of fiction for sale. Sophie Kinsella, Joanna Trollope and Maeve Binchy have been nominated or awarded prizes for warm, upbeat and emotional writing. Their combined sales are such that if all three were to lay down their pens simultaneously, British publishing would take a cataclysmic nosedive. But… There are two problems with women’s fiction that is causing some discussion in the literary world and particularly among women writers like Joanne Harris. Firstly, “women’s fiction” is very broad, almost too broad; it can feature criminal acts, historical events, bubbly town life, gritty slums, shopping, depression, ethnic communities - you name it. It ranges from quite serious semiliterary novels through to mysteries and psychological suspense stories to real girly stuff, like the Shopaholic series, for example. Only the fact that a story is woman-centred and not obviously falling to any other category includes it as women’s fiction. Secondly, the bigger problem facing “women’s fiction” (a term some consider patronising in itself) is that critics still don’t take it seriously. It is under-represented in the review sections of newspapers, discussions on the radio and the big prizes; the Baileys (formerly Orange) Prize is an honourable exception. If you publish direct on Amazon, you can pick a category from a long list that includes ten sub-genres of “women’s fiction”, but none are labelled “men’s fiction”. A clear message; men are the norm, women are a sub-category. With the “women’s fiction” label applied to a book, is half the population in the world blocked off before the books hit the shelves? Labels such as ‘crime’, ‘historical’, ‘adventure’, ‘chicklit’, ‘thriller’ etc. are used in the book trade to market books to readers and give guidance about the sort of book they think the reader would enjoy, but quite why books have to be gendered, goodness knows. Spy thrillers, high seas adventures, coming of age during war stories and gritty Swedish noir are not labelled “men’s fiction”, and a good number of women read all of these (including yours truly). For me, a story is a story and should stand on its own merit whether it features a man or woman as its main character. Most fiction, after all, is just fiction: contemporary, general commercial fiction. A large chunk of that market will have a primarily female audience, but that doesn’t mean you necessarily have to categorise it as women’s fiction. Happy writing! Alison has compiled the articles from this column into The 500 Word Writing Buddy, available on Amazon. Her fourth novel, AURELIA, is out now 12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

YOUR Book Reviews Further thanks go to Patricia Mc Avoy & Dennis Walby this month for more great reviews... If you’d like to share a book review with us, please email:

‘The Story of Edgar Sawtelle’ by David Wroblewski This novel, the writer’s first, has been widely acclaimed yet, I could unintentionally deter some possible readers. The story, about a boy and his dogs, could easily be described as a book for dog lovers. That description however could put off those who may like dogs but, only at a distance or indeed prefer cats. Also by referring to the similarities, including ghostly figures, between this novel and Hamlet might put off those turned off Shakespeare at school. But, let me assure you, this book is for everyone. Edgar, is the only child of Gar and Trudy who have continued the family tradition of breeding and training Sawtelle dogs. For them the placing of their dogs is as important as their selling. Teenager Edgar, who can hear but cannot speak, has a special relationship with the dogs, particularly Almondine his caring and constant companion. Unhappily Gar dies suddenly. When Edgar and Trudy can no longer cope without help they contact Claude, Gar’s estranged brother. His re-entry into the family changes everything. This great story deserves every accolade bestowed on it. Read and enjoy. Should it tempt you to buy a puppy, just remember, a dog is for life. by P. Mc Avoy

‘Depths’ by Henning Mankell 2004 English translation 2006 For those who enjoy the lowering gloom of recent Swedish TV detective series, this could be the book for you. Set in Sweden at the beginning of the First World War, it is not about national conflict. It is about a personal conflict. It is necessary to say that it is very difficult to empathise with Lars, the leading character. In fact, he is quite an unpleasant person. A combination of the teasing first two chapters does incite some curiosity. Why has this woman escaped from an asylum in 1937? The remaining 204 chapters explain all. Some of them are very short, thus the impression of an epic. The author has written several books, but this has to be his gloomiest. Full of ice floes and cold, it reflects the character perfectly. Various other characters drift by, like ships that pass in the night. Indistinct, yet an important part of the tale. If it is possible to travel into the freezing fog past about a dozen chapters, one is compelled to be swept along with the ebbing tide to the end. Read this wrapped in a cosy blanket, as it is rather chilling for the whole journey. But there is a faint glimmer of spring sunshine in a well-deserved completion of the voyage. An almost happy ending. by D.Walby


by James Luxford

A trio of powerful actresses underpin this month’s film choices, with all four of the movies below tipped for big things come award season. MACBETH (18th November) An adaptation of ‘The Scottish Play’ stars Michael Fassbender as a celebrated warrior driven mad by visions that tell him he is destined to be King. France’s own Marion Cotillard co-stars as Lady Macbeth, who hears of her husband’s apparitions and drives him to make them real. Bloody and uncompromising, ‘Macbeth’ is a modern take on a classic, taking inspiration from ‘Game of Thrones’ in its portrayal of gruesome battle scenes. Both stars are on top form, and while it won’t convert newcomers, fans of ‘The Bard’ will be enthralled. SUFFRAGETTE (18th November) A dramatisation of The Suffragette movement in the UK at the turn of the last century, starring Carey Mulligan as a woman inspired by the great Emmeline Pankhurst (Meryl Streep) to campaign for women’s right to vote. As emotionally charged as you would imagine, Carey Mulligan and the rest of the notable cast (particularly Anne Marie Duff and Helena Bonham Carter) are superb. Even Meryl Streep, whose role is essentially a cameo, has an extraordinary impact. An occasionally repetitive but ultimately accomplished film about a very important moment in history. TRAINWRECK (18th November) Comedian Amy Schumer writes and stars in this comedy about a journalist with a hell of a wild side whose opinions on love are changed when she meets and falls for a doctor she is interviewing. Very funny (if very crude), it’s interesting to see an adult comedy (or any type of film for that matter) told from a female perspective, something that happens far too rarely in Hollywood. Aside from that, it is also a moving and hilarious tale of growing up, love, sex, and family. It’s sure to make Schumer a name to watch out for in the future. BLACK MASS (26th November) A gritty crime drama telling the story of the collaboration between the FBI and notorious Boston criminal Jimmy “Whitey” Bulger, played by Johnny Depp. Bulger’s bloody rise to prominence in the 70s is told brilliantly in this straightforward but confident drama, co-starring Joel Edgerton as Bulger’s FBI contact and Benedict Cumberbatch as a corrupt congressman. It may not hold too many surprises, but it’s arguably Mr. Depp’s darkest, and most interesting performance in years.

VOLUNTEER TEACHER WANTED The Twinning Association Wellingborough - Niort are seeking a volunteer teacher (professional or retired) to join its team. His/her participation would be one lesson per week of 1.5 - 2 hours given to those students wanting to perfect their English. Thank you to contact Philippe BOIREAU on 06 85 32 44 06 or by email:

Release dates are nationwide in France.

FIND YOUR NEAREST CINEMA... Bressuire Le Fauteuil Rouge: Parthenay Cinema: Melle cinema: Niort CGR cinema: L’échiquier at Pouzauges: and find others at The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 13

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y l l u f k n a h T >

Tw Wheels (Still) on my Wag n!


t started with a phone call in September 2014 from Gillian, who I’d met two or three times, asking if I’d like to go out for a ride with her on her pony and trap. I jumped at the chance and on the due day excitedly set off to Gillian’s home to meet up with Opale, Gillian’s very pretty Fjord pony. Gillian introduced me to the plethora of leather tack and attempted to teach me all the correct terms (old habits die hard - she is a teacher by profession!) I was later sent home with a list of terms on which I was to be tested on at a later date. After tacking up Opale and attaching the trap we were off on the back roads and tracks near La Chataigneraie. Gillian seems to know endless routes and in consequent outings we rarely seemed to take the same route twice. It is a wonderful way to see the countryside and another bonus is that as we are sitting quite high up we get to admire some lovely gardens as we pass gently by! Over the winter months we were out and about and Gillian encouraged me to take to the driver’s seat. Many moons ago I used to ride horses and controlling the pace and directions sitting somewhere behind the pony’s posterior seemed rather remote and unnatural. With help from Gillian it became more the norm to be driving from 5 feet behind the usual riding position. I’m not saying it was all plain sailing as we have had one or two exciting moments. Not least when, about a month after my first outing, I was invited to join Gillian and her friend Louis-Marie with his horse and trap on an organised ride/drive near Luçon. There were hikers plus 70 equine participants ranging from ridden horses, single ponies/horses and traps to pairs and traps. We set off from the meeting place following a clearly marked route on roads, tracks, across fields and at one point through a river. I had seen horse driving competitions in the UK (Prince Philip being one of the competitors) and had seen the grooms (the people in the back of the trap) balancing the trap when on rough terrain by leaning this way and that. So as my confidence was growing I decided to stand in the back of the trap as we descended a hillside field - all okay, and even gaily greeted some walkers as we trotted by. In the middle of the field was a ditch which we had to cross. To this day I’m not sure how it happened but the next thing I knew, as we crossed that ditch, I was hanging onto the trap with my hands whilst my booted feet were being dragged through the field. If it hadn’t been for those walkers alerting Gillian to my plight I could have been in for a wetting, as shortly after we traversed a river. I tell you those hikers could have made some money if they’d filmed the event as I’m sure it would have been a certainty for “ You’ve been Framed”! Anyway, once I’d regained my seat IN the trap and we’d ascertained I was uninjured we laughed our socks off as we continued the rest of the route in a more dignified fashion.

Since then we’ve been on various courses and Gillian has entered us in several competitions, some more successful than others. We have discovered that Opale really enjoys Endurance competitions where we have to cover a 20km course at an average speed of 12 km/hr. You are penalised if you are too fast, so the idea is to be as close to the optimum time as possible. There is a vet’s inspection before setting off and another exactly 30 mins. after clocking in

by Margaret McWilliams

after completing the course, at which time you can be eliminated if the vet decides the horse is not in peak condition. This has seen us competing in various Endurance competitions which, would you believe, qualified us for the 2015 French National Endurance Carriage Driving Competition which was held near Dompierre, between Niort and St Jean d’Angely on 19 and 20 September. The weekend began on the Friday morning when, after a prolonged period of dry weather, the heavens decided to open. Was this a sign?! Especially as we’d decided to sleep in a tent whilst at the event. Two, not so Spring-chickens, sleeping out under canvas! Hey Ho, off we set fully loaded in convoy - Gillian with horse trailer, me with trailer and trap plus food for us and horse and all other essentials. After arriving and setting up we could relax as we weren’t due to compete until Saturday afternoon. Saturday morning came after a cold damp night. Note to self “No, you can NEVER bring too much bedding or wear too many bed clothes!” Blessedly the day warmed quickly and our marrow thawed. There were 39 competitors taking part being clocked out at 3 minute intervals. We were number 8 in the running order and after various checks set off into the forest down a stony track. It was rough going which was the consensus of opinion from all those taking part. Several lost wheels and others didn’t make it through to the second day’s outing. We covered the course without any mishaps and were very happy to finish our first day intact. We untacked Opale, cooled her down and kept her moving before the vet’s inspection. Yippee, all was well. We settled Opale in to her overnight quarters to rest up before a 7.30am start the following morning to do it all again. After surviving an even colder night (5°C) we tacked up the pony, hitched up the trap, passed the vet and safety checks and set off on our second 20km outing in 24 hours. Thankfully Gillian, myself, Opale and the trap all completed the Sunday morning course in one piece. We were delighted. To no one’s surprise we didn’t win the National Championship but we were just so chuffed to be a part of the event and we did finish 7th out of 11 in our class, so not bad for our first attempt. You’ll note there I said “first attempt”. Gillian has already entered us for another endurance competition which is a qualifying round for the 2016 National Championships which are being held in the Midi Pyrénées - Watch this space! In conclusion it’s amazing what you can find yourself taking part in when you least expect it. I never imagined that I would have been competing in endurance carriage driving competitions let alone the French National Championships! Gillian literally and metaphorically speaking is the driving force behind it all and I thank her for giving me the opportunity to be part of it all. But please Gillian, no more scary stories of driving accidents that you’ve witnessed or heard about - I‘d just rather not know! Photos Above & Right: Margaret and Gillian Rhodes with Opale at the Endurance Carriage Driving 2015 French National Championships. Photo above also shows friend and former French National Champions, Louis Marie Guillon, with his horse Sagesse. © Margaret McWilliams.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 15

Clubs & Associations ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS If you or someone you know has a drinking problem, there are now a number of English-speaking meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous in the South West of France. Alcoholics Anonymous is a Fellowship of men and women who share experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for A.A. membership and A.A. is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organisation or institution. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Telephone: Angela: 05 49 87 79 09, Roger: 05 55 76 22 65 or Nancy: 02 54 24 09 74. Email: 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 call Richard on 05 49 63 41 09.

We are a netball team in Vasles (79340). We meet every Monday 5-6pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles for training with our qualified English coach. It’s fun and a great way to keep fit, so come along or contact:

Bilingual LitFest: 24-26 June 2016, Voulmentin 79150

We would welcome volunteers to distribute publicity, act as marshals, offer technical support, transport or accommodation. To join the team and register as a friend of the festival contact Howard Needs:

RAINBOW WARRIERS for healing and fun. Native

American Indian Deerskin Drums. Host a drum circle at your home for free. I have 7 drums, I will travel an hour from Bressuire and we need a big space. 15€ per guest (max 5). Call Pam on 05 49 65 55 25 or email:

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

The Phoenix Chorale

An English speaking choir. We sing 3 or 4 concerts of seasonal and classical music, often including readings and poetry. Based near Charroux (86), we are always looking for new members. If interested, call 05 45 89 14 84 or 05 49 48 29 68. THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION LINAZAY, POITOU-CHARENTES BRANCH

Please visit the branch website:

AL-ANON Support Group


Les Amis Solitaires

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

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.

We are a group of people living alone in France. We meet up for coffee mornings from 11am, every 2nd & 4th Thursday at The Lemon Tree in Sauzé Vaussais. More details from Gwen on 05 49 87 91 79 or email: Acceuil des Villes Françaises A French association dedicated to welcoming newcomers, from across France & abroad, to their new environment; helping them to integrate, speak French and feel ‘at home’ through social events and activities.


Grumpy’s Celebrated ‘Fun Quiz Night’ is looking for new victims. For all details contact me by email:

Next Quiz is Sat 21st Nov in Ste.Gemme

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. Fitness Class with James

A fun & lively Aerobic/fitness class run on a voluntary basis. Tuesday evenings 7-8pm at Salle de Fete in La Chapelle St Etienne. All ages, nationality & gender welcome. 15€ membership for the year which covers insurances & room. For further details please email James: 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

If you enjoy singing and would be interested in starting a close-harmony group near Chef-Boutonne, please get in touch! Email me, Christine for further information:

Franglais Anglo-French Group Thouars - Centre Socio-Culturel

Thanks to the support of the Centre 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 the Centre 05 49 66 76 40 email or

“You speak French as bad as I speak English?”

Then we are made for meeting each other together with other French and English learners. We meet once a month in a bar in Niort at 11am, over a cup of tea/coffee, to speak and improve our French-English. Contact Joseph for further details. Email: , or call 06 73 70 14 21

Come KNIT/CROCHET with us every Friday at 3.30pm in the Café des Sports, Chef-Boutonne. Beginners to Experts - all welcome. Contact us via Facebook (Girls that do knitting and crochet) or Melanie on 06 65 17 89 16.

Combined Services

Support Group (CSSG)

by Terri Laverick

We are sorry to announce the passing of one of our hard-working and much appreciated members, Mr John Tonks. His wit, knowledge and friendship will be missed by us all. Our sympathies are with Pauline at this most difficult time. We can announce that our Committee has recently sent cheques to: Combat Stress, The Gurkha Welfare Trust, Army of Angels and RAFA (France) for the sum of 500€ per charity. There will be a cheque for 600€ presented to the local St Pardoux Pompiers shortly. We could not do this without your unstinting support, and we Thank You all for your help in the past year. Please continue to join us whenever you can, your money goes to support the most worthy of causes. The Race Night held in September was a resounding success, and everyone reports that they had a fantastic evening, with plenty of good food to help the evening along. Congratulations if your horse won, if not, better luck next time. Maybe this can be repeated next year? For Your Diary: The quiz nights will be carrying on, on a biweekly basis. In November the dates are 9th and 23rd. The venue: Foyer Rural in St Pardoux (disabled access). There are always cakes, tea, coffee and a very warm welcome. If you prefer to drink something a little stronger, you are welcome to bring it along. (Leave all reference books at home and laptops are frowned upon! This, of course, means that I don’t stand a chance of winning.) Our next meeting will be the Christmas Lunch and will be held on 5th December at Le Lion D’Or, St Hilaire de Voust. We are looking forward to this with great anticipation so if you wish to join us, please use the contact email address at the end of the article and we will forward the information to you.

by Kate Jouanneau

Mid October saw Keynotes kick-starting this season’s concerts following a request from the town of Parthenay, inviting different English organisations to participate in a commemoration, in honour of Sir Winston Churchill. The event was held along the banks of the river Thouet, where the locals paid tribute to the war effort from “the man with the cigar”. The choir also received credit for all it’s hard work, interpreting well known songs, with many that were from WW2 era. And a little bird tells me Margaret (Round) was “as happy as fluffy ribbons” afterwards. A big thank you also goes to John Blair who helped liaise between the Reaction Theatre groups and the organisers of this ceremony. As many of you may already know, the Script Review Group (that is in charge of finding suitable material for the theatre group to put on) after reading so many plays, the poor dears have lost count, have finally chosen ‘A Chorus of Disapproval’ by Alan Ayckbourn for our Spring production. After a call to all interested in directing, Margaret Round has kindly offered her services to put us through our paces. The play will involve some singing, so Maragret’s expertise in this field will be well put to use in this new challenge. Auditions will be held for the different roles (7 men and 6 women) later in the year and the rehearsals will begin in the new year, giving everyone plenty of time to make this play a success. We will also need to recruit a behind the scenes team, without whom the production would not run smoothly. Volunteers to help with stage production/construction, costumes, makeup, lighting, sound, props etc... and not forgetting help on the door and selling refreshments on the night, will all be sought after. Watch this space for further information or contact a committee member if you’d like to get involved in any way.

Once again, it is Remembrance time and some of our members will gather with the people of Parthenay in the Jardin Public for the annual Commemoration at 11.00am on the 11th November. If you wish to join us, please do - you will be more than welcome. We normally join together for a warming cup of coffee after the event. Don’t forget your Poppy, the Royal British Legion depend upon you.

John Blair would like to remind you that the programme for the Art Scene concerning the next few months is available on the Reaction Theatre website ( When choosing the different subjects to be taught, the group has been lucky enough to enlist the help of several members (whose names can been seen on the website), making it a varied and interesting curriculum. It also informs you whether the session is to be held in Secondigny or at Café Des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux.

If you would like to add your name to our mailing list or have an idea for an event, then please contact us by email: cssgroup@ We’d love to hear from you.

For any other details check out our website: or contact me directly. We also have a Facebook page : Reaction Theatre Association.

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

u u

Contact Email:

Kate Jouanneau on 06 77 51 55 16

Ballroom Dancing Ballroom dancing at la Salle Pascal Verger, Saint Aubin le Cloud Every Tuesday evening, during school term time from 8pm - 9pm An hour of learning in a party atmosphere with Marie-Claude Gaudron, a dance teacher and international dance competition ex-champion. Rock, Paso, tcha tcha, Madison, tango, valse, country, salsa and all the latest dances which are fashionable today. All taught with good humour, professionalism and enthusiasm. Beginners are welcome, on their own or as a couple. Further information from MPT de Saint Aubin Le cloud, Tel: 05 49 63 16 18 or email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 17

Our Furry Friends The Times, They Are a-Changing?

by Nigel Franks, NALA

Over the years we’ve had a number of cases of animal abuse reported to us: a cat caught in an illegal trap, cats and kittens abandoned and cats and dogs shot. These appear to be quite common but people rarely seem to report them to the authorities. When questioned, they invariably reply that it’s because nothing ever comes of it. Some told us that the Gendarmes even refused to consider their complaint as it was “Only a cat/dog.” Paying no heed to these negative vibes, we have systematically sent complaints directly to the Public Prosecutor. And invariably been informed by the same, a while later, that our complaint has been classé sans suite. I think that’s polite French for “put in the round file”. So you can imagine our pleasure when in the space of a week we heard that two cases were actually being investigated. Funnily enough both cases involve kittens that have been abandoned and in both cases, the witnesses are English. We await further developments with bated breath. In spite of the fact that France has had a Freedom of Information Act for nearly 40 years, we experienced a lot of resistance to our endeavours to collect the statistics on the fate of strays in the Vendée. Even now, after more than two years, we still don’t have them all. However, we have been able to determine that some animal pounds have significantly higher rates of euthanasia than others. We have also obtained some of the public procurement documents relating to contracts that have been awarded in the past. Can you believe that amongst the criteria used for selecting the winning candidate, any notion of the welfare of the animals is sadly lacking? Clearly this is unacceptable as it’s already bad enough when a pet goes missing, without having the added worry that your town hall couldn’t care less about what happens to it. So along with four other associations for the protection of animals in the Vendée, we have started a petition asking the authorities to pay more attention to the fate of animals in the pounds and to consider setting up one or more pounds themselves which can be shared between a number of towns. We are reinforcing this petition with at least one demonstration. If enough people turn up we’ll do more. See the Facebook page ‘Pétition NON!!! aux fourrières qui tuent en Vendée!’ We’re not opposed to private rather than public or not-for-profit animal pounds per se. In fact, the company that runs the animal pound in Luçon is very good. We actually have a stray cat from them for adoption: Petraque who has not been at all traumatised by his stay in that pound. He’s about 4 years old, black with a white patch on his throat, long fur and with a long and bushy tail.  He loves being stroked (don’t they all?) and gets along well with other cats. More details can be found at


Looking for a Forever Home

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

May-Day Muffin Pretty red tabby MUFFIN was born around May 1st – he’s a May-Day boy!

Pas à Pattes

Animal Association offering help to cats and dogs in need. Always looking for help, volunteers and foster carers. Call 06 71 03 63 08 or email:

He was found with his sister, Belle, in a gîte garden, where holiday-makers fed and managed to catch them both. Muffin is still a bit nervous and, though ready to go to a new home, would probably prefer one without children. Muffin adores other cats and is getting braver every day. He’s very vocal at meal-times and loves a good stroke when  he’s eating!  A gentle and affectionate cat, he rewards to the full, with a bit of time necessary to gain his confidence.   If you’d like to meet Muffin, please contact his Phoenix foster carer Caroline Archer, on 05 53 91 39 02 or email

The Assocation Orfee In English Contact Caroline: Tel: 05 45 96 02 79 Email: Visit the website:

Cognac SPA Appeal Please help Gordon who has been in a refuge for 3 out of 4 years of his life. Gordon is a very affectionate cross boxer. He is medium sized, about 25kg. He is waiting for a loving family to come and take him from the refuge. He is a dog who only has good qualities. He would make an ideal family dog and gets on well with other male and female dogs (they are unable to test at the refuge how he gets along with cats). He walks well on and off the lead.   He only requires cuddles. He is a loving dog who is struggling in the refuge. Gordon is castrated, microchipped and vaccinated. If you can help, please email Annie, who volunteers at Gordon’s refuge, on

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

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 19

Health, Beauty & Fitness Gemstones and all they Represent

by Vicki Bassey Over the last twelve months I have written about the various birthstones that represent the twelve months of the year. As we have learned, man has had a fascination with gemstones for centuries and even through ancient times and the legend and folklore about gemstones have continued to the present day. Just what is our fascination with gemstones? Is it the fact that they are millions of years old and the mysteries that surround them? or is it that they are simply beautiful and therefore require no explanation? Whatever your preferences and reasons for your choice of gemstone, jewellery is certainly eternal and speaks a thousand words. Not only do we love gemstones for their pure beauty, they can be used in healing, as talismans or as a source of comfort and remembrance. Gemstones also represent the twelve zodiac signs and below is a comprehensive list of them. Jan 20–Feb 18


Garnet, Aquamarine, Chalcedony, Amethyst, Amber, Fluorite, Labradorite, Moonstone


Amethyst, Rose Quartz, Moonstone, Aquamarine, Fluorite,



Feb 19–Mar 20 Labradorite, Bloodstone, Turquoise, Sunstone





Mar 21-Apr 19 Adventurine, Carnelian, Citrine, Garnet, Spinel, Topaz,

Kunzite, Bloodstone Sapphire, Tiger’s Eye, Emerald Topaz, Aquamarine, Azurite, Apr 20-May 20 Black Spinel, Diamond, Lapis Lazuli, Malachite, Rose Quartz, Rhodonite, Tourmaline, Kunzite Agate, Tourmaline, Apatite, Aquamarine, Citrine, Dendritic Gemini: May 21-June Opal, Sapphire, Tiger’s Eye, Topaz, Zoisite, Tourmalinated Quartz 20



Emerald, Moonstone, Pearl, Amber, Carnelian, Chalcedony,


Onyx, Cat’s or Tiger’s Eye, Ruby, Amber, Carnelian, Citrine,

June21-July 22 Emerald, Opal, Rhodonite, Ruby, Moss Agate, Dendritic Agate

July 23-Aug 22 Emerald, Garnet, Larimar, Rhodochrosite, Topaz. Turquoise,

Kunzite Carnelian, Peridot, Amazonite, Blue Topaz, Citrine, Garnet, Aug 23–Sept 22 Moonstone, Moss Agate, Opal, Peridot, Sapphire, Sodalite, Amber Lapis Lazuli, Peridot, Sapphire, Opal, Ametrine, Libra: Sept23 - Oct 22 Aquamarine, Adventurine, Bloodstone, Emerald, Jade, Moonstone, Sapphire, Topaz, Sunstone Aquamarine, Beryl, Obsidian, Topaz, Malachite, Charoite, Scorpio: Oct 23– Nov 21 Emerald, Garnet, Malachite, Moonstone, Obsidian, Rhodochrosite, Ruby, Turquoise



Nov22 – Dec 21


Dec 22–Jan 19

Topaz, Malachite, Turquoise, Amethyst, Azurite, Chalcedony, Charoite, Garnet, Labradorite, Lapis Lazuli, Ruby, Smoky Quartz, Spinel, Sodalite Ruby, Jet, Onyx, Amber, Azurite, Carnelian, Fluorite, Garnet, Labradorite, Malachite, Peridot, Quartz, Turquoise

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres siege of the town of Poitiers after defeat at Jarnac. He went to attack Chatellerault which was being attacked by the Duke of Anjou. But the future Henri III retreated to Chinon. Coligny therefore decided to take control of the crossing places on the Thouet and Dive rivers. On September 30th 1569 at about 2am, Coligny and his army arrived on the plain at St Clair near Marnes. 300 horsemen and 200 arquebuse were sent on ahead. They came head on with the Catholic army and combat was inevitable. The battle took place between Moncontour, Douron, the gateway to Airvault and la Grimaudière. At that time the Dive valley was a dangerous marshy area. It was difficult to cross the Dive anywhere between Marnes and Montreuil Bellay and the only road which could really be called a road linked Moncontour to Airvault. The attack was short (about an hour) but very bloody. On the Protestant side between 6000 and 10000 men were killed or taken prisoner. The Catholics only lost 600. The Battle of Moncontour was a disaster for the Protestants. After the battle Coligny retreated to Parthenay and then to Niort where he reassembled what was left of his army. Realising he could no longer stay in Poitou he decided to head for La Guyenne and wait for help from England. A VOIR / MUST SEE • Saint-Jean Baptiste Church The oldest parts of the church dates from the beginning of the XIIth century. Saint Jean Baptiste church was built on the foundations of much older buildings. The church has been listed as a historical monument since 1862. Above: St Jean Church, Marnes. © Wikipedia, Addio79

MARNES This small commune of the Deux-Sèvres is situated mid-way between Chinon, Parthenay, Poitiers and Saumur. There is no doubt that at the end of the prehistoric period, the region of Marnes was already inhabited by man. As well as the areas of La Bataille and Le Chafaud, several other places on the commune have revealed traces of early settlements. Eg. walls and stones at Belliard, Les Grêles, La Croix du Gers and Le Moulin Neuf de Chandalloux. The Roman road which crosses the town of Marnes linked Limonum (Poitiers) to Portus Namnetum (Nantes). At Ension (St Jouin de Marnes) another road left the Roman road to reach the town of Juliomagus (Angers). The spread of Christianity came about with the fall of the Roman Empire. The Christians used existing pagan places of worship and progressively transformed them into Christian ones. Two men were responsible for the Christianisation of the Poitou area, they were Martin and Hilaire. They spent their lives on the country roads of the Poitou countryside preaching the good word. Saint Hilaire was so used to using the Roman road that the locals call it the ‘chemin de Saint-Hilaire’. The numerous tombs and sarcophagus found on the territory lead us to suppose that the town of Marnes was, in the Middle Ages, an important cultural centre. There are not many necropoles of this type in the area and the ones which have been found are of much lesser importance. Until about 1550, French Protestantism was open to all the different currents of the Reform. Once Calvinism took hold, the protestant doctrine was defined and the spread of protestantism was favoured. Lords of the land converted and along with them some of the lesser nobles and peasants. In order to defend this new faith, the Huguenots formed a military structure led by the nobles. Protestantism sort of became the flag bearer for feudal bitterness. The death of Henri II and the instability of the throne was enough to start off the hostilities.

The different sculptures that can be seen in the church do not all date from the same period. (Photo: wikipedia)

Le Four à pain / The Bread Oven Built over 200 years ago and standing in the centre of the village, near the river, the bread oven is in working order. It was restored between 2007 and 2010 by volunteers.

La carrière de Sous-les-Monts / Sous-les-Monts Quarry Mined by Colas company until 1998, the quarry was bought by the commune of Marnes with the help of the Conseil général and the Communauté de Communes. Its management has been entrusted to the Poitou Charentes natural species conservatory.



The inhabitants of Massais are the Massaisiens and the Massaisiennes. The commune of Massais is in the North of the department of the Deux-Sèvres, 10km from Thouars and 30 km from Bressuire. It is situated on the borders of Anjou and Poitou, within the Saumur wine appellation area on the edge of the Bocage Bressuirais and the Plain of Thouars. The river Argenton flows through the commune. Massais is probably best known for its theme park and attractions at Parc de la Vallée. Children generally enjoy the attractions, which may not be up to the attractions at Disney but then tickets are a lot cheaper than Disney. The park is open over the summer months.

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

Admiral Coligny was not in a strong position. He abandoned the The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 21

Communications How to Create an Online Album using Picasa & Share it With Others by Ross Hendry

2. Captions and Descriptions – organising your album When the Upload is finished the dialogue box name changes to “Completed – Upload Manager”. I now choose the “View Online” button, this will open the online album in your browser and show you your album. This is where you can add a description to the album, rearrange the photos and give each photo a unique caption. 3. Sharing Once you have tidied up your album and given the photos the captions you want you may share it with others.


eing able to share your photos with others is one of the benefits of modern digital photography. In this article I want to show how you may share one or more photos with who ever you choose to invite. Once you create a web album (or online album) you then send only a link to the person you wish to see them. There are many other benefits to having your photos online and easy to access.

There are several ways to share the album, I prefer to copy the link to the album and send each person I invite, a personal invitation via my normal email, I open a new email as normal, addressing it and giving it a relevant subject title, type my message and copy the link in the email, advising the recipient to click it to view the photos, to find the link - do this. In the right-hand side/column of the screen, under the title “Share with” and “Post on:” headings, click “Link to this album” – the screen will show “Paste link in email or IM”, under this will be the link, copy this and past it into an email to anyone you wish to have the link, they will then be able to view the album.

Creating a Web Album with Picasa. First you will have to download and install Picasa from www.picasa. If you do not already have one, you will also need to have a Google account. (This is a free service - not a subscription account. You will need your Google account ID, for example some. usually, and your password of course). Create the Album First I like to create the album on my computer before I upload it, this lets me take photos from several different folders (if I need to), and have them in one place ready to upload to the web album. You should create your new album in a folder in the “My Pictures” folder. Call it something relevant and copy the photos you want to share into it. You can do this using the program that you are used to using - I use Windows Explorer to copy and paste the photos I want in the album to be published, but you may do this using Picasa or the software that came with your camera. Uploading the Album Once it is done you can open Picasa. It will show the new folder in the left-hand column (under the folders heading), if not navigate to it within Picasa and highlight the folder. Once you left click (highlight) the folder in the left hand column, the lower panel of the screen will display a green button with “Upload to Google Photos”. Once you click this button you will be requested to “Sign in with your Google Account”. Enter your Google account ID and Password and sign in. Once you have done so, the “Upload to Google Photos and Optionally Share ..” dialogue box will de displayed. Here you will see a summary of what you are going to upload to the Web. At this point I do not try to share the album, simply upload it, but first some options: 1. Image Size for the upload I normally use the “Best for web sharing” Image Size option, this keeps the size smaller and does not detract from the on-screen image quality. If you want to allow the people you share with to print their own copies, change this to “Original Size”. (Using the “Best for web sharing” option means that Google currently allows you unlimited photos storage). When you have selected the correct option click the Green “Upload” button, Picasa will display another dialogue box, this time showing you the progress on the uploading of your photos in the album to your Google Photos free web space. 22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

You can do many other things with your online album such as: send out an email each time it is updated, send an email to a group of recipients with the link, selectively permit recipients to add their photos to the album. The web albums you create remain private, unless you allow others to view them. You can control who can add to or edit the album beside yourself, and if you are not worried about the quality, you may store an almost unlimited quantity of photos and selectively share one or all of them. Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (See advert below).

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 208 082 4729

SHARE YOUR EV ENTS ! Entries into the What’s On Listing (P.4) are free!

(Businesses pay 10€, unless previously advertising)

+ We can add your event to our Facebook Please email all the details to:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 23

Take a Break Down: 1. Celestial body (4) 2. Not in physical motion (6) 3. A pale cane syrup (7) 4. A small box made of cardboard (6) 5. Able to survive under unfavourable weather conditions (5) 6. Cause to be firmly attached (6) 7. Garden pest (8) 12. Graceful ruminant with long legs and horns (8) 14. Mixed up or jumbled together (7) 16. Reply to a question (6) 18. Pass by in time (6) 19. Reach a destination (6) 20. A workplace where metal is worked (5) 23. 4840 square yards (4)

DSM Toughie Crossword Across: 4. Energy of 1004 going back in classical times (3) 7. My drones are used to identify medical abnormality (8) 8. Illness, or symptom of one, no French cold, seems endless (4) 9. Bets off on fine mess made of state support (8) 10. Worm, e.g. or means to measure one? (4) 11. Essential quality of true sort of an arrangement (6) 14. Does Tripoli lie south of limit of flowers? (6) 15. Take off east to get promotion (6) 17. Egg producers of fifty years in the making (6) 19. Assembles some housing for oil company (4) 20. Sued pear producer to yield influence (8) 23. Company unlikely to collapse? (4) 24. Riot cane not the best way to produce a response (8) 25. A part of tennis etymology? (3)

Down: 1. Ancient city of County Renfrewshire (4) 2. Report of lazy hero? (4) 3. Diplomatic placing of eastern European on computer studies (6) 4. Small elves thrown into ship? (6) 5. Apparent count-up of males ill or retarded? (8) 6. Are paper models to turn up again? (8) 9. Scottish highpoint of penniless crook? (3) 12. Whichever part is ticklish, a bit of it is accomplished (8) 13. Outfits worn by college classes? (8) 16. Formerly impudent and forward specialist? (6) 17. Rope left when a trail is badly laid out (6) 18. Female who must be obeyed? (3) 21. Turned out when given direction to former usage (4) 22. A small taste of the curtain coming down? (4)

Well, what do you know?

With thanks to M.Morris

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

1) What was the name of the ship that carried the Pilgrim Fathers to America?

8) Nottingham is on which English river?

2) The Battle of the Nile, in 1798, was fought between Britain and which other nation?

9) What sort of creature is an Egret?

3) What is the total number of players legally on court at any one time during a basketball match?

11) Myopia is more commonly known as what?

4) What date is Epiphany? 5) Riga is the capital of which former Soviet Republic?

10) Which vitamin is also known as Ascorbic Acid? 12) Where was Napoleon Bonaparte exiled? No connection this month, so, sorry - no extra points.

6) In which constellation is the star Rigel? 7) In which country is Casablanca?

Copyright RJS 2014 24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

Answers on our website:

DSM Easy Crossword Across: 8. A person who gives private instruction (5) 9. An athlete who does not play for pay (8) 10. Formally reject a formerly held belief (7) 11. Cover with liquid; pour liquid onto (5) 12. Largest city of New Zealand (8) 13. Lacking or deprived of the sense of hearing (4) 15. Wheeled vehicle that runs on tracks (4) 17. Something considered choice to eat (8) 21. Long noosed rope used to catch animals (5) 22. A republic in North Western Africa (7) 24. Promises solemly (7) 25. Young eel (5)

© Wikimedia / Juan Lacruz

8 5



© Wikimedia/Jumpingmaniac © Wikimedia/ Marek Szczepanek

© Wikimedia/ Jerzystvzeleck



r / Stenmarde © Wikimedia

2 l ia/ Immorte © Wikimed

© Wikipedia/ Dani Fropivnik




Part 1

by Mick Austin

As the snow and frost lays its white shroud over the countryside, the warm temperatures, luxuriant growth and abundant resources of those summer months seem a million miles away.


inter can be a challenging time for our wildlife. For some it’s a time for hibernation, for others it will be a time to use whatever resources they can in their great battle for survival. France is packed with life. Just use your eyes and ears (a pair of binoculars will also help) and embrace it and the wildlife it has to offer. Many of our ‘regulars’ will still be around – foxes, hares, buzzards, owls, lapwings, kingfishers, blackbirds, woodpeckers etc, etc – but here we’ll try and give you just a little flavour of those perhaps slightly more unusual mammals and birds out there waiting for you. Welcome to The DSM Winter Watch.


(1) Wild boar (Sus scrofa scrofa, Sanglier). Widespread and much prized for its meat, the boar is probably the most hunted mammal in France. Large, powerful and capable of causing plenty of damage with its tusks, it is usually shy and seldom seen. But it can become aggressive if cornered or protecting its young. Lives in dense forests and undergrowth and is mainly nocturnal, living in close-knit family groups. Diet consists mainly of berries, fruit, fungi, roots, grass and acorn. It will also root for worms and insects. Breeding usually takes place between September and March, during which time there can be violent confrontations between males.

(2) European mink (Mustela lutreola, Vision d’Europe). One of Europe’s most endangered mammals and can easily

be confused with the American mink (Vison d’Amerique) or the Polecat (Putois). You might be lucky and spot one, but probably only if you are in the Aquitaine or the south of Poitou-Charentes. Mainly nocturnal, it feeds on small mammals, birds, fish and frogs. It’s a poor diver – unlike the otter, for example – so it’s unlikely to catch fast fish. It uses many different dens, rarely far from water, which are holes in the ground, tree hollows or old tunnels. Mink can be extremely dangerous if cornered. If you are bitten by one you should get medical treatment immediately since some may be carriers of Wiels Disease.

(3) Pine marten (Martes martes, Martre).

Belonging to the weasel family and about the size of a domestic cat, it is native to Europe. Its fur is a dark chocolate brown and it has a cream-coloured bib on its throat. In winter its coat is thicker and it also has fur growing on the pads of its paws. A solitary, territorial animal, it marks its territory with droppings or ‘scats’. Most active at night, pine martens are arboreal (living mostly in trees) and have large paws and retractable claws to help them climb. Diet consists of birds, small mammals, mice, beetles, berries and carrion and its food is hunted mostly on the ground.

(4) Stone marten/Beech marten (Martes foin, Fouine).

Very similar to the pine marten, but slightly smaller in size. The easiest way to tell them apart is by their creamy white bibs. The stone marten’s bib is more fork-shaped, like an upside-down V. Generally nocturnal, it can often be found over-wintering in the roof space of buildings. If you find one there the kindest and simplest way to get rid of it is by spreading mothballs! The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 25

(5) Muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus, Rat musque).



Introduced in the last century as a result of fur farming, it’s now widespread across France causing extensive damage by burrowing into banks. An excellent swimmer, staying submerged for up to 15 minutes at a time. Sometimes mistaken for a beaver, muskrats occasionally build a conical-shaped lodge with escape exits and a feeding and breeding chamber.

(6) Eurasian otter (Lutra lutra, La Loutre).

Can be found in all departments of Poitou-Charentes and at any time of the year. Everyone knows what they are but very few of us have seen one. Keep a look out for their faeces (spraints) on rocks, flat surfaces and under bridges in rivers and streams.

(7) Roe deer (Capreolus capreolus, Chevreuil).

Found in much of rural France, roe deer are quite small and easily identified as they run away by their telltale white rump. Only males have antlers and they are lost each year and regrown in winter. Mainly seen at dawn and twilight, eating grasses, berries and leaves – and the occasional garden plant! It’s at dusk on quiet roads and paths that you’re most likely to surprise it. And it’s often heard ‘barking’ a warning to others as it goes.

© Wikimedia/ Andreas Trepte


© Wikimedia/ Daniel Ramirez


(8) Red deer (Cervus elaphus, cerf male, biche female).

Found in most of the forested areas of France. Usually feeds from dusk to dawn so less frequently sighted during the day. Females usually live in small herds, whereas the males often live alone or in pairs. Herbivorous, with a diet depending on the region. Pine trees, brambles, grass and young tree shoots are commonly eaten, as is fruit and sometimes maize. Only the male red deer has antlers.

© Wikimedia/ Dori



(9) Common crane (Grus grus, Grue cendree).

Well worth looking out for. Although the main migration path is to the east of our region, it’s still possible to see them in the west of the Deux-Sèvres and Charente-Maritime. There are no overwintering lakes but there is the Parc Naturel at Brenne, just to the east of Poitiers, in the Indre. They have also been spotted in the Baie de l’Aiguillon, north of La Rochelle, in the Vendée.

(10) Golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria, Pluvier doré).

A bird of open moorlands and bogs, where the vegetation is short enough to allow it to run easily. Feeds on the ground, pursuing small soil invertebrates and takes flight only if disturbed. Outside the breeding season it moves to lower levels to form flocks – sometimes mixed with lapwings – on open arable land and the upper reaches of estuaries.

© Wikimedia/ Andreas Trepte


(11) Gadwall (Anas stepera, Canard chapeau).

At first glance a rather drab duck. Abundant throughout Europe in winter and breeds on wetland with open water; in winter on lakes and marshes. The nest is on the ground beside water. The gadwall can often be found alongside coots.

(12) Wigeon (Anas Penelope, Canard siffleur).

© Wikimedia/ Andreas Trepte


One of the most attractive of European ducks, the plumage of the male being subtle rather than gaudy. Breeds on northern lakes and wetlands; in winter can be found on saltmarshes and coastal grassland.

(13) Teal (Anas crecca, Sarcelle d’hiver).

One of Europe’s commonest ducks; likes shallow fresh water when nesting and in winter can be found on flood meadows or saltmarshes. If disturbed it’s quick to take to the air, rising almost vertically from the water when alarmed. It flies off rapidly with whirring wing beats and swerving flight patterns.

(14) Tufted duck (Aythya fuligula, Fuligule morillon).

© Wikimedia/ Tony Hisgett


Male is very distinctive, looking black and white at a distance. Dives frequently and often for a long time, covering considerable distances under water. Its winters are spent in large flocks on open water.

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 © Wikimedia/Andreas Trepte

© Wikimedia/ T.Voekler



(15) Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula, Garrot à l’oeil d’or).

A rare winter visitor in these parts. Spends the winter on lakes and reservoirs, occasionally on the coast. It spends much of the time diving, but it can also be spotted perched in a tree! Its nest is usually in a tree hole.

(16) Grey partridge (Perdix perdix, Perdrix grise).

Fairly sedentary, although birds will flock together in winter. Found in lowland grassland and cultivated areas. When alarmed it will run for cover, eventually taking flight in a flock and dropping quickly when out of danger.

© Wikimedia/ Marek Szczepanek

© Wikimedia/Marek Szczepanek


(17) Red-legged partridge (Alectoris rufa, Perdrix rouge).

Both sexes have a red bill and…red legs! Its call, a harsh repetitive ‘kchoo-kchoo’, gives away its presence. It’s heard when several birds are feeding in an area of dense vegetation and they need to keep in contact.

(18) Water rail (Rallus aquaticus, Rale d’eau).

More often heard than seen, being usually well-concealed within dense reed beds. When moving through the reeds, this secretive waterbird may walk slowly, crouch, run, climb or freeze at any hint of danger.

(19) Skylark (Alauda arvensis, Alouette des champs). One of Europe’s commonest larks, its familiar song is delivered while it maintains a fluttering position high in the sky. One of the great sounds of a winter’s day. Large flocks can often be seen moving ahead of winter snows. In winter, skylarks from northern Europe move south and gather in feeding flocks that may number several hundred birds. Local resident flocks remain separate.

(20) Woodlark (Lullula arborea, Alouette lulu). Resembles the skylark but is smaller and slighter. Its short tail and blunt wings make the woodlark look quite different in flight, with a hesitant, fluttering action. On the ground, the bright face and black and white wing markings are good features to look for.

(21) Mediterranean gull (Larus melanocephalus, Mouette

© Wikimedia/ Pierre Dalous


mélanocéphale). Seems most at home on the coast and usually avoids flying far from land. In winter it frequently joins mixed feeding flocks of gull species in harbours or near refuse tips, where there’s plenty of scope for scavenging.

(22) Black-headed gull (Larus ridibundus, Mouette rieuse). One of Europe’s commonest gulls, turning up in winter in most habitats from agricultural land, city parks and coastal marshes to the open sea, where it will follow fishing boats. In winter many birds congregate in huge roosts, dispersing during the day to regular feeding areas. In winter the adult’s head is white with two blackish smudges around the eyes and on the neck.


Birds of prey and the large, semi-aquatic rodent that suffers from frostbite!

© Wikimedia/ Arild Vagen



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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 27 © Wikimedia/Ján Svetlik

© Wikimedia/ Pascal Alixandra

Home & Garden

DÉCHETTERIES Within the area of the SMC79 (Haut-val-de-Sevre and Sud-Gatine), there’s been a change of opening hours of déchetteries since May 2015. Please visit their website for details:

For waste disposal outside of this area, there’s an alternative website

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015


by Ian Welsby Member of the Through the Lens Photography Group

On 27th September, sky watchers throughout North and South America, Europe, Africa, western Asia and the eastern Pacific Ocean region witnessed a total lunar eclipse that happens to occur when the moon looks abnormally large and bright in Earth’s sky. It was the first super moon eclipse since 1982 and the last until 2033. This rare celestial phenomenon has its roots in the moon’s elliptical orbit around Earth. “When the moon is farthest away, it’s known as apogee, and when it’s closest, it’s known as perigee. On 27th September, we had a perigee full moon — the closest full moon of the year.” (

The moon is about 31,000 miles closer to Earth at perigee than it is at apogee. As a result, perigee full moons, also known as super moons, appear about 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter in the sky than do apogee full moons (which are also called mini moons).

Photograph: Above © Ian Welsby, Right: © Frank Jones

“Normal” total lunar eclipses — which occur when the Earth, moon and sun align, and the moon passes completely into Earth’s shadow — aren’t terribly uncommon: On average, a sky watcher in a given location on Earth can expect to see one of these events every 2.5 years or so. But it is uncommon for a total lunar eclipse to coincide with a super moon. There have been just five such events since 1900 (in 1910, 1928, 1946, 1964 and 1982). Rarity does not imply anything inexplicable, however. “It’s just planetary dynamics. The orbit of the moon around Earth is inclined to the axis of Earth, and the orbital plane of all these things just falls into place every once in a while.” (

There is a short time-lapse movie on the TTL website: under my name where you can view approx. 4hrs of lunar eclipse in less than 7 minutes.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 29

turn in some compost and leave the weather to break the soil down ready for next year. Finish lifting and dividing flowering perennials which have outgrown their space – any spare roots can be passed on to friends and neighbours; also finish re-planting the flower beds for next Spring’s display. Autumn/winter is the best time to plant roses, during their dormant season. But which ones to choose? Don’t worry, there is something for every garden situation. Hybrid Tea Rose - Bushy habit with flowers borne singly or in threes at the tips of stems and therefore the favourite choice for flower displays. Many are fragrant. Suitable for borders or containers. Floribunda - As above but flowers are produced in clusters at the tips of stems. Each flower within the cluster opens at different times, so giving a long-lasting display through the summer. Many are fragrant. Suitable for borders or containers.

All rose images ©


Climbing Rose - Stiff-stemmed upright with vigorous habit. Suitable for wall, fence or pergola. Wide range of flower type available and many are fragrant.

by Vanda Lawrence


ur new garden here in Secondigny is progressing nicely but I’ve realised that we need autumn flowering perennials. For this reason I’ve chose Gaura (aka ‘Wandflower’, ‘Whirling Butterflies’ or ‘Bee Blossom’). You will see them frequently in tubs and displays done by many of the local communes so they must be easily maintained and long-lasting – that’s good enough for me! My other new plant for the autumn is Tricyrtis hirta or also known as ‘Toad Lily’ because of the spotty flowers. These need partial or full shade so are particularly useful for those dull corners in the garden. They flower from August to October/November and are fully hardy. Unfortunately, neither of these plants have fragrant flowers but at least they are providing a splash of colour when everything else is finishing for the winter. In the potager you can continue to sow peas ready for February/ March and carrots ready for April/May. You will also be finishing harvesting and storing your crops. In the November 2013 issue of the magazine I gave you a list of good and bad neighbours in the storage shed. If you need to remind yourself of any of these you can still read the article on-line. Apart from that, just dig over the plot, Climbing rose

Shrub Rose - Bushy habit. Larger than Hybrid Tea or Floribunda. Single or double flowers borne in clusters. Modern varieties are repeat-flowering but older varieties only produce one heavy flush of flowers in early summer. Usually fragrant. Suitable for borders and hedging.


Rambling Rose - Vigorous climber with lax, flexible shoots. Flowers are single or double borne in clusters on short shoots from old wood. There are many fragrant varieties. Flowering normally occurs in one heavy flush during summer. In addition to being suitable for walls, fences or pergola they can also be grown into a tree to brighten a dull area.


Miniature Rose - Very compact with small leaves and flowers, suitable for containers, window boxes and border edges. They produce clusters of single or double flowers in flushes throughout the summer. Unfortunately, they are rarely fragrant. Where to grow them? In a sunny position, sheltered from strong winds. Roses don’t like to be crowded by other plants so they are not really suitable for a shrubbery. They don’t like wet, soggy soils either, much preferring a well-drained site. Before planting, dig over the plot to at least 18” deep and improve all soils with well-rotted manure. Mix in a slow-release fertilizer as roses are very heavy feeders. Do not mulch your rose in its first year. Climbing roses obviously need some support. This can be a rose arch of course, a lovely way to appreciate the beautiful flowers and these days it is possible to have thornless roses which is even better. If you plan to grow your climber up a wall you will need horizontal wires spaced about 18” apart up the wall and about 3” from the wall to allow air circulation. A wall will cause the soil at the base to be dry, so plant your climbing rose 12-18” away from the wall at a 45 degree angle. Otherwise planting is the same as for other roses with a bud union at soil level. Use canes to guide shoots towards the supports. Prune newly planted floribunda, hybrid tea and shrub roses directly after planting to about 4” above ground level but do not prune rambling or climbing roses directly after planting.

Tea rose

Established hybrid tea and floribunda roses flower on new, current season’s wood so can be cut back quite hard each year but shrub roses flower on wood which is at least 2 years old so require little pruning. Just take out dead, diseased or damaged stems ... the three d’s. Established climbing roses are pruned in late autumn or winter but rambling roses should be pruned in late summer. It’s quite complicated, isn’t it? But worth putting in a little time and effort when we are repaid with such wonderful flowers later.

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

love Autumn and the changing colours on the trees. The dark mornings and nights have returned and everyone is out chopping wood ready for the cosy fireside evenings. There is wonderful produce to be had at this time of year. Lots of different veg for making delicious, warming soups and stews, fruits for crumbles and pies, and such a variety of fish and seafood available at the moment. This month I have two recipes for you, one of which all ingredients are in abundance in Deux-Sèvres right now and the other is something sweet I wanted to share. Enjoy!

© Wikimedia Commons / RhubarbFarmer


Food & Drink

Goats Cheese with Fig and Walnuts

This is so quick and easy and makes a great starter, cheese course, lunch or something to have with a nice bottle of wine and some crusty bread anytime. Ingredients 1 fresh soft goats cheese (200g) 8 half walnuts, chopped 1 fresh fig (or you can use dried if you can't get fresh) – thinly sliced Put cling film into a ramekin, leaving enough around the sides to wrap over the top of the finished cheese. Spoon one third of the cheese into the bottom of the lined ramekin and squash down make the first layer, leveling the top with the back of a spoon. Top this layer with your sliced fig (I used half and served the other half on the cheese plate). Add your next third of the cheese the same way, topping this with your chopped walnuts. Then put the rest of the cheese on top and level off, pulling the cling film over the top. Leave in the fridge until 10 mins before you are ready to serve. Turn the cheese out onto a plate or board and to finish, top off with smoked black pepper, fresh or dried herbs or a drizzle of clear honey. Serve with fruits, walnuts and crusty bread.

Sweet & Savoury by Hazel Foster

Salted Caramel Sauce

This sauce is easy to make. Put it a jar and will keep for 2 weeks in the fridge and goes with so manyitdesse fles, pancakes, ice-cream, cheesecake, apple pie rts – wafeven something to make and give, for those of youetc. Maybe who like to make edible Christmas pressies. Ingredients 200g granulated sugar 90g salted butter, cut up into pieces 120ml heavy cream 1 teaspoon sea salt Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medi um heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant silico or wooden spoon. Sugar will form clumps and eventne spatula into a thick brown, amber-coloured liquid as you ually melt continue to stir. Be careful not to burn it. Once sugar is completely melted, immediately, but carefully, add the butter - the caramel will bubble rapid ly when the butter is added. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely

Hazel Foster ~ Homechef 79 Personal Chef for dinner parties, special occasions and catering services Tel: 05 49 63 29 98 ~ Email:

melted. Very slowly, drizzle in the cream while stirrin cream is colder than the caramel, the mixtureg. Since the will rapidly bubble when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of sea salt. Allow to cool down before using.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 31

by Hayley Grindrod

We are excited to announce that our fabulous products are now available in the Deux-Sèvres as a result of our tie up with Chez Tante Mabel near Caunay. We have a regular delivery drop off on the second Thursday of each month with our next scheduled visits falling on the 12th November and 11th December. Delivery to Chez Tante Mabel (CTM) is made using our temperate controlled freezer van to ensure your goods reach you in perfect condition. You can place your order direct with Bev and Paul at CTM on 05 49 29 19 07, by email at, or visit their website You can also order via us at Grindrods. (See contact details in our advert below). We are now taking orders for our ever popular Christmas Turkey Butterflies. 100% Natural Turkey Breast with skin (great for loading with butter for a golden, crispy skin). Looks just like a turkey crown, but with no bones and NO ADDED WATER, which means: NO WASTE and superb value! All our turkeys are Farm Assured in the EU and are delivered freshly frozen for conserved goodness. Orders need to be placed by 20th November for delivery to CTM on 11th December.


GINGER’S KITCHEN. Ginger’s Kitchen started in 2009 after having previously left DeuxSèvres to buy, renovate and re-open a long closed bar in Brittany, developing a restaurant side. This was sold due to family health reasons and I later worked for a renowned 3 Star restaurant on the north Brittany coast, moving on with one of the chefs as his “second”, who unfortunately closed for financial reasons. It was at this point that I created Ginger’s Kitchen, offering (with my husband’s help), an at-home service for people wanting to entertain without the work or stress. I have worked with owners of a gîte and manoir complex accommodating up to 40 people who offered their clients a chef service for group parties. In this situation I discuss and select a menu with the group, do all the shopping on their behalf (providing full receipts), prepare, serve (my husband as waiter), and do all clearing at the end of the event, charging an hourly rate as this works out less expensive for the client. Besides this I have a selection of menu choices to offer or I can discuss anyone’s requirements with them to arrive at a menu together. For example, one client wanted a Creole-style barbecue and buffet for over fifty people. Something I’d never done before but it went well!

As well as the Turkey Butterflies we also supply a great range of Wrights Pies, Pasties and Sausage Rolls. Our Premium Range includes Steak, Steak & Kidney, Minced Beef and Onion, Chicken Balti and Chicken & Mushroom Pies which are any 6 for 15€. The Pie and Pasty range includes the extremely popular Pork Pie, Jumbo Sausage Roll, Meat and Potato Pie, Cheese and Onion Pasty and Traditional Beef and Veg Pasty which are any 6 for 12€. We also have a very tasty range of Breaded, Battered, Raw and Southern Fried Chicken along with favourites such as Battered Onion Rings!!

Are your taste buds tingling? View our full range of products online at

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

Since returning to DeuxSèvres in 2013 and with a great deal of support from the mayor of Maisontiers, I have been able to offer a monthly Sunday lunch, plus a few themed evenings at their small very convivial Salle. Sunday lunch is priced at 12,50€ with apéritif, four courses, wine and coffee (reservations necessary). A different menu is on offer each time; evening events priced accordingly. Support from both French and English locals has been excellent and so Maisontiers will continue!

Apples & Aqua Gym by Jacqueline Brown

This term I have bravely joined a new aqua gym class where not only am I the only new face, but also the only one who isn’t French. I was a bit nervous to begin with, not about the class as I’m the youngest there by quite a few years, but about fitting in with the French ladies in a group that have been together for over four years. I know from past experience at the school bus stop that they can be a tough lot to break into; however, I needn’t have worried. I have fortuitously found myself included within a hilarious bunch of energetic ladies who never stop talking or larking around, even during the class. It is as much a vocabulary lesson that exercises my brain, as it is a surprisingly good workout. It has been quite a few years since I’ve done aqua gym and the communal changing room packed with damp bodies takes me right back to my school days, especially the constant noise of excited chatter and laughter, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it. I have noticed that the most popular topic of conversation is, unsurprisingly, often food related. The first few weeks of term it was all about the meals created with tomatoes and other summer crops from their potagers, but as the weather has turned they are now discussing where to find the best walnut and chestnut trees, as well as what to do with their foraged haul. I could have done with their top tips for apples as this year we had a bountiful harvest

and we don’t even live in the apple heart of Deux-Sèvres. I have to admit that it was only a mini adventure this summer, where we bravely headed north through our department (ashamedly for the first time in eleven years), that we discovered the undulating roads surrounded by apple orchards with trees hung heavy with fruit. Our harvest was superb and although they are eating apples, they have quite a tart flavour which means the windfalls are perfect for cakes and tarts while the ripe ones are delicious eaten from the fruit bowl. At Ed’s request I am baking him my autumn apple cake to take to Lycée each week for his emergency snacks; although with breakfast, a three course cooked lunch, an afternoon snack and a three course cooked dinner provided every day, I’m not sure how he can be hungry, but that is teenage boys I guess. It has become routine to enjoy a coffee with the aqua gym ladies after class, where there are no exercise distractions to disturb the flow of conversation. At the moment I am doing more listening than talking, but I have added my own contribution to the coffee; a bar of dark chocolate to share that was very well received. I’m hoping my homemade mince pies will be just as popular in the next few weeks; I’ve made the mincemeat, it is maturing nicely and Christmas will be here soon. Recipes for my autumn apple cake and others can be found at - Cherry mincemeat can be seen opposite... u u Email:


700g (4 1/2 cups) mixed dry fruits; sultanas, raisins, cherries • 150g (1 cup) glacé cherries • 100g (1/4 cup) cut mixed peel • 250g (1/2 lb) cooking apples, peel • 100g (1/4 cup) shelled walnuts ed and cored • 250g (1.2 lb) shredded suet • 450g (2 cups) demerara sugar • 2 tsp mixed spice • Cognac to mix (or rum or sloe gin) Coarsely mince or finely chop dried fruit , peel, apples and nuts. Add the suet, sugar, spice Cognac to give a moist mixture. Stir well and enough stand, covered, for 2 days. Stir well again and leave to and put into sterilised jars. Cover as for jam and leave to at least two weeks (but longer if possible) mature for before using. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 33

Sumething Wicked This Way Comes


by John Sherwin

o, not that pesky editor demanding I supply my copy on time ‘for once’ (well, really), it’s the 2015 vintage I refer to. Of course I use ‘wicked’ in the street sense: you’ll appreciate I keep abreast of modern slang squire, stone the crows if I don’t. Yes, this year is looking very good indeed for our friends the winemakers. Over the last three weeks, business has taken me to Chablis, the Cote d’Or, Rhone north and south, Bordeaux, and much closer to home, the Vendée. At some points my visit coincided with harvest, at others all had been safely gathered in. Nowhere did I come across a disgruntled vigneron. Grapes were healthy and ripe throughout our green and pleasant land. My tip: look out for years with ‘5’ in them – 2005, 1995, 1985 were all very good to great vintages. Now that all the harvest hullaballoo is over, I thought it might be time to take a look at what actually happens to those lovely grapes in order that they become wine. I make no apologies for revisiting basics: winemakers do it every year. It’s much easier to make a half decent red wine than a white, so I’ll start there. The grapes, as I’ve mentioned, will have been harvested at a good maturity. Skilled hand pickers will have discarded unripe berries in the vineyard. Those they’ve missed will be picked out during a secondary sorting at the vat house, along with leaves, insects, fag-ends and so on. Machine picking, where bunches are literally shaken from the vine, has no quality control, so the secondary sorting is vital. Stalks are also removed by a mechanical destemmer (much like GPS, I have no clue how this actually works, but I do know that it does), the grapes lightly crushed to release juice, and the whole left to macerate for a period to be determined by the winemaker, either in stainless steel, oak, or cement vats. The maceration completed, the temperature of the vat is allowed to rise until fermentation starts, that is to say the sugars in the grape juice are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide under the mystical influence of the natural yeast which dusts the skins of the grapes. (Some ‘winemakers’ use industrial yeasts which are designed to emphasise certain flavours – more of a New World thing, certainly not cricket). Like the proverbial piece of string, the fermentation takes as long as it takes, from weeks to sometimes months. The wine (for such it now is) is then matured, most commonly in oak, for as long as the winemaker (and his bank manager) thinks fit before being marketed. There are technical bits and pieces I’ve missed out in the above, but they don’t change the gist of Nature’s wonder. Besides, I’m beginning to dislike the length of this paragraph. That’s better. So why is it trickier to produce a good white wine? Various reasons, but mainly because the skins of most white grape varieties are thinner than reds so are more prone to disease prior to being picked, and oxidation between picking and the vat room. The grapes are pressed and the juice separated from the pips and skins. (Unlike reds, the skins – mostly - play no role in whites.) Fermentation takes place, as above. Lower temperature fermentation produces light, crisp wines; higher temperatures give richer, fatter wines with less well defined flavours. At this point socalled malolactic fermentation is either encouraged or prevented. This is a natural biochemical process (not a fermentation as such) which turns sharp, green apple type malic acid into creamier lactic acid. This is sought after in certain white wines, and the great majority of red wines. So there we have it. If we take these basics for granted, if we forget the beautiful simplicity of the whole damn thing, then we run the risk of falling into the snare of ‘manufactured’ wine, the same witches’ brew year in year out. And that would be bad. Not baad, dude: just plain bad.

u u

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

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015




s the autumn draws in, so the rally season begins! My pals back in the UK are off watching and marshalling on huge numbers of National Championship and Clubman rallies around the country, many featuring the mythical cars of bygone WRC eras. After the Group B era cars, one of the most recognised World Rally Championship cars is the Subaru Impreza, driven of course to great success by the late, great Colin McRae. To many at the time they were seen as something of a poor relation - especially to petrol heads brought up on a diet of Audi Quattros, Cosworth Fords and Lancia Delta Integrales. But over the next few years the humble Subaru changed the rally scene forever.  The Impreza was the defining car in Subaru’s elevation from relative obscurity to a legend in world rallying.  The distinctive and iconic blue and yellow colour scheme of the “555” Impreza came onto the world scene in 1993, although the first Constructors Championship win did not come until 1995. 1995 was also the year Colin McRae won the World Rally Championship, and became the youngest ever winner in doing so.  Colin’s famous 1995 Impreza L555 BAT is now on display in the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.  The Impreza of those days was Group A spec, and the first to get the signature gold wheel treatment. It had a compact, lightweight engine, well-balanced chassis and strut type suspension all round. In 1996, it also gave Subaru their second manufacturer’s championship, although McRae was relegated to second place.  In 1997, new regulations were in place for World Rally Cars, and Dave Richards and his Prodrive team created the Impreza WRC97 to exploit these new specifications. The WRC97 with its distinctive double deck rear spoiler made the best possible debut with a win on the season opener, the Monte Carlo Rally. Seven more wins ensured Subaru was unchallenged for its third consecutive world manufacturers’ title, but McRae remained second. 

The man on the street could buy an Impreza WRX featuring rally inspired technology, including all wheel drive, stiffened suspensions and turbocharged four cylinder engines. And they did! The original is so often the best: boasting a wonderfully communicative chassis, the classic turbocharged Impreza was rightly regarded as one of THE performance cars of the 90s. Offering previously unheard of levels of grip and grunt, the Japanese market-only STI versions were the pinnacle of the breed, but prior to 2000 they weren’t officially imported into Britain. I was lucky enough to be lent an Impreza to drive on a business trip to Holland in 2000, and it was everything I expected it to be. To coin a phrase from ‘Pretty Woman’ it “cornered like it was on rails”, and we flew down the Dutch autobahns. Just thinking about it now brings a smile to my face. I don’t think I have ever grinned so much on a business trip. My boss however, who owned the car, probably had the worst few days of his life, wondering if his precious baby was OK!! (Of course it was). To commemorate Colin McRae’s success in the international rally scene, Subaru in the UK released 200 limited edition ‘Series McRae’ WRXs in June 1995, prepared by Prodrive. These vehicles were finished in a very limited Rally Blue colour scheme, sported gold 16-inch alloy wheels, McRae decals, individual numbered badging from 1–201 (car 13 was never built since the number 13 is considered unlucky), and a factory-fitted electric tilt/slide sunroof. Recaro seats were fitted in the front, and the rear seats and side panels were retrimmed in the same Le Mans/Avus material. Today, a reasonable example of one of the early Imprezas could set you back as little as £2,000, with special edition models fetching as much as £35,000. There are a plethora of experienced Scooby specialists across the UK who can offer versatile affordable tuning options and a bespoke setup as well as regular maintenance. So, if you fancy something a little different to scare the locals down your little French track, this could be an interesting choice, and one that is bound to be a future classic.  u u

Helen Tait-Wright Email:


It is these first two incarnations that people probably remember most. By 2001 when Richard Burns took the World Rally Championship title, also in an Impreza, the car had evolved into a 4 door shell, although the blue and yellow colour scheme remained. Subaru’s rallying success made the Impreza road car highly sought after. 

by Helen Tait-Wright

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 35

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36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

Priorité à Droite

by Tony Barrett (


his “universal law” of the road was introduced first by Robespierre, then by the famously left-handed Napoleon, but in any case by the French. It was indeed Napoleon who was responsible for imposing the right-hand drive system on all the countries he successfully invaded (so, of course, not including Britain!) and this propagation was then further continued by Hitler, starting in his native Austria, which, until the Anschluss of 1938, had been divided since the Napoleonic conquests into two states: one left-hand driving and one right-hand driving. This sign is unique to France, introduced in 1946. At the next junction, which is not necessarily a crossroads, priority is to the right (priorité à droite). The sign applies only to the upcoming junction, which will usually be within the next 100 to 150m. At this type of junction there are no road markings and an approaching vehicle must give way to a vehicle on its right. So you must give way to traffic entering ‘your’ road from a minor road on the right. The “priority to the right” rule on the roads of France is complicated and misunderstood by many English residents and holiday makers. Every day in France, there are accidents relating to “refusing the priority to the right” refus de priorité. If you refuse a priority, you’ll be the person responsible for the accident. This can also result in a fine of 135 €, 90€ if you pay within 3-15 days and rising to 375€ for late payment and the loss of 4 points (the same fines apply for not stopping completely at a Stop Sign). Like it or not, the rule does make drivers slow down at junctions. A simple tip to remember, when you are driving and unsure, slow down, look right, if there is a vehicle coming towards you GIVE WAY! Other situations where you would apply the priority to the right: At any form of junction with traffic lights that are not functioning and unless otherwise indicated, you would give way to traffic from the right. THERE IS NO Prioite a Droite on Autoroutes.

So what are the signs with regards to priorité à droite?

On major N roads (national routes) and some D roads (department) The Yellow diamond with a white border will be seen on main roads at the exit from a town, indicating that from here onwards the main road traffic has priority.

This sign with the yellow diamond with a diagonal black line through it will be displayed indicates that you do not have right of way. This sign will often be seen as you enter into a town. From here on, priorité à droite applies at all junctions.

This sign indicates the priority only on the next intersection, This is a one-time priority. The use of white posts with a red band. This is only used in rural situations and indicates firstly that there is a turning to your right and that that road does not have the Prioity a Droite. At roundabouts Vous n’avez pas la prioritié is a timely reminder that you do not have priority to enter a roundabout, and must give way to traffic on the roundabout (as in the UK).

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 37

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Business & Finance Where Do I Start?

by Sue Cook

The world of foreign exchange can be quite confusing when you don’t know where to start – but the worst place to start is with your bank! Expertise While many people go to banks for their international money transfer requirements, they’re likely to wind up paying a lot more – both on the exchange rate and in fees and commissions. Luckily, there is another way. Foreign exchange specialists (like Currencies Direct) deal only in international payments and transfers – unlike a bank, which doesn’t provide a dedicated service. Because we have a specific focus. Currencies Direct can offer you a better service, and expert dealers who are more knowledgeable than banks are when it comes to navigating exchange rate fluctuations and timing currency money transfers and international payments. Safe and secure Foreign exchange companies are regulated and authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA regulates all foreign exchange brokers to make sure the business is operating correctly and taking the right safety precautions with client money. It’s important to buy currency only from FCA authorised and regulated foreign exchange brokers, like Currencies Direct. Products that work for you Rates can change in the blink of an eye – that holiday home by the sea that you haggled over for weeks could suddenly cost a lot more than you expected! But a specialist can make sure that you’re not caught out. For example, a forward contract is a “buy now, pay later approach” where you agree on the exchange rate in advance. Even if the rate moves against you later on, you’ll be able to take advantage of the fixed rate that you agreed on when you booked your trade. Forward contracts offer you more stability and make it easier for you to work out how much currency you’ll have once you’ve transferred your funds. Unfortunately, banks often don’t offer this option, except to larger clients who are transacting millions in foreign exchange every year. Since 1996, we’ve been helping people to make their dreams of moving overseas or buying a holiday home abroad a reality. To find out more about what we can do for you, visit our website or give us a call. Our friendly experts will be happy to help. Let’s talk currency.

u u

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

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

Ask Amanda

“ I have heard a lot of talk about the new Inheritance laws in France for a British expatriate, what are these changes and how do they affect me?” This is a question that has focused a lot of attention over the last few months and I am happy to highlight the main points here: Since August 17th 2015 you can now choose to leave your property and possessions, whether in France or the UK, to whomever you wish as per succession rules applicable in the UK. This means that whereas before, in the event of your death, your French property and assets (outside an Assurance Vie) would have been dealt with under French succession laws, now you can decide who gets what from your estate regardless of relationship (under French succession, once you have no spouse your assets pass to blood relatives i.e. children and if you have no children, other blood relatives you have). You will of course need to properly document this by having both valid UK and French Wills which explain that you wish to use your UK Will for the assignment of property and possessions. I recommend that you take professional advice from either a notaire or avocat on this, to ensure the correct terms are used in your French will. Please note that as this is a relatively new change, not all notaires may be up to speed yet. Whether you are looking at French or British rules of succession, the tax rates your estate will pay in death are still governed by the French tax rules. So regardless of who you leave things to and irrespective of where they live, French Inheritance tax is payable. This is something a French official, such as a notaire, would deal with. If you would like to know the exact Inheritance tax rates and bands currently in situation or anything else mentioned in this article, please get in touch and I will be happy to explain these to you. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows, follow my blog ( ) or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide. With Care, You Prosper. Amsterdam, Luxembourg, Lausanne, Paris, Cote d’Azur, Barcelona, Costa Blanca, Costa del Sol, Madrid, Mallorca, Rome. «The Spectrum IFA Group » is a registered trademark, exclusive rights to use in France granted to TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 «Société de Courtage d’assurances» R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 - «Conseiller en investissements financiers, référence sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Fin

u u

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

Are You Ready for the New Automatic Exchange of Information


anuary 2016 sees the start of a global automatic exchange of information regime that affects everyone with offshore financial assets. Financial privacy is dead and buried, to the point where your local tax authority will passively receive information about your investment assets without having to ask for it.

Everyone should be aware of what information will be shared about your assets, and consider what tax and estate planning arrangements are best suited for you and your family. The Current Situation The EU Savings Tax Directive imposes automatic exchange of information but only applies to interest income. Other bi-lateral information exchange agreements are of limited benefit to tax authorities as information is only provided on request. The Situation from January The new Automatic Exchange of Financial Information in Tax Matters, including the Common Reporting Standard (CRS), goes live in January 2016. It involves the systematic and periodic transmission of taxpayer information by the source country to the residence country and goes much further than interest income. The French tax authorities will automatically receive information on taxpayers’ overseas financial assets – without having to ask for it - including accounts they were not previously aware of. They will compare data received against tax returns. Information to be Reported This includes name, address and tax identification number of asset owner; the balance/value, interest and dividend payments and gross proceeds from the sale of financial assets.

by Bradley Warden, Partner, Blevins Franks

The reporting institutions include banks, custodians, investment entities such as investment funds, certain insurance companies and trusts. Implementation Almost 100 jurisdictions have signed up so far. The ‘early adopters’ (including the EU and UK offshore centres) start collecting data from January 2016, to make the first information exchange by September 2017. Other countries start a year later. In Europe, the CRS will be implemented through the Administrative Cooperation Directive. It provides for automatic information sharing on interest, dividends, other investment income, balances, sales proceeds from financial assets, employment income, directors’ fees, life insurance, pensions and property. What Does this Mean for You? If you have different offshore bank accounts, investments, trusts etc, each one will share information with your local tax authority. Cross border tax planning is complex. You need to be clear on what you should be declaring and where. If you live here and earn income in the UK, do you pay tax in UK or France? This is a good time to review your tax planning arrangements. Are they compliant in France? Are you paying more tax than necessary? We are entering a completely new era. Are you ready?

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N° Orias 07004255

Changes to the Inheritance Law in France by Isabelle Want


keep getting lots of questions regarding the change of inheritance law that happened back in August and even though I’ve already written an article on this in June, I feel it would be useful to cover it again. I am also holding seminars (see information below) to which you are all welcome. The change of law happened on 17th of August 2015. It is good news but it’s not all plain sailing as French tax still applies... so let’s have a look at the implication and solutions.

17th August 2015

Most of you must have heard that from the 17th of August this year (2015), you are able to choose the law of your native European country with regards to inheritance law. It basically means that you will not now be subject to the minimum percentage you are obliged to give to your children. This percentage depends on how many children you have. If you have one child, it is 1/2 of your asset, two, it is 2/3 of your assets and 3 or more is 3/4 of your assets. If you don’t have any children, it does not change anything! As under French law, you can leave your assets to whoever you want (for that, you simply need to make a will in France - be careful of inheritance tax). In order to be entitled to the change of inheritance law, you need to make a will in France stating you want to adopt your native law as you are not a French citizen. Your will in the UK will not be recognised in France, as a will in France needs to be handwritten. It only costs around 80€ to do it via a French notaire (so why bother doing it yourself?) Yes, you can do it yourself. It just needs to be dated, handwritten and signed, but it is better if it is in French.

French Tax

Assets involved: If you are a French resident (more than 6 months per year in France), all your assets in France and all your movable assets worldwide are subject to French inheritance tax. That means that your savings in the UK are subject to French tax as they are movable, but if you have a property in the UK, it will be subject to UK inheritance law and tax. If you have a holiday home in France, then only your house in France will come under French tax and your bank account in France will be subject to UK law and tax. In France, your estate is comprised of assets minus your debt. It is the job of the notaire to ascertain your estate and check any outstanding debts. It is possible to inherit debts. Children/Parents Brothers/Sisters Nephews/nieces

Allowance 100,000 15,932 7,967

Tax/Death duties 5 to 20% (mostly 20) 35 to 45% 55%




Taxes: Here comes the worst bit.... And please note that the changes that will be applied in 2015 will NOT change this. In the UK, the allowance is for your total assets, here in France, the allowance is for the person that inherits and the amount is depending on their relation to you.

she will then pass on what is left to your children (from the previous marriage). But as those children are not hers, they will inherit from her with 60% tax. If you only have one child, the 100,000€ does not go far enough in my view, as your property could easily be worth double that. Example: You are married with 2 children, your house is worth 250,000€ and your savings 100,000€. You have made a will and when you die, everything goes to your wife and then your children. Your wife has no tax to pay but when your wife eventually dies, your children will inherit 175,000€ each. The allowance is 100,000€ each, so they will have to pay 75,000 x 20% = 15,000€ tax each. Example 2: You have no children and decide to leave your assets to your 2 nephews. They are entitled to 7,967€ each tax free and have to pay 55% tax on everything above this amount.


Donation: A good way to avoid the tax/death duties is to donate your assets to your children as you are still alive. You can give as much as the allowance (100,000 per child) every 15 years and once you have made the donation you can’t die for 15 years! You can give the Nue propriete to your children and keep the usufruit which enables you to give more as the value of the Nue propriete is a % of the value of the assets you donate. It’s a bit complicated so contact me for that one! Assurance Vie: This is the most popular solution amongst French people to avoid tax in regards to the savings. This is a normal investment composed of secure earnings (around 2.5%), shares or bonds but it has the particularity of being able to name beneficiaries of your choice. For the money you invest before you are 70 years old, the allowance is 152,500€ per beneficiary (on top of the allowances given by French tax) and the beneficiaries will only pay 20% tax on what is above 152,500€. Otherwise, the allowance is 30,500€ for all the money you put in after you are 70 years old and what is above is added to the assets inherited. This is a huge tax saving when leaving legacies to unrelated beneficiaries such as friends or step children who would normally pay 60% tax. But it’s also quite good if you think your children could be liable to tax as the 100,000€ allowance per child might not be enough. There are also other advantages to this saving in regards to income tax (but that is another subject). Obviously if you are interested in an assurance vie, contact me as it is my speciality. I think I have covered most of it. Pretty complicated I know but help is at hand, advice is free with me. I can do a study of your situation by simulating your death and calculating the tax if any and then we can see what solution is best for you. I am organising seminars on French inheritance law (the law itself, the changes, the tax and solutions available) on the following dates: • • • •

Melleran (salle inter-génération, place de l’église 79190 Melleran) on Tuesday the 17th of November at 10am. Aunac (Salle des fetes, place de la Mairie 16460 Aunac) on Tuesday the 24th of November at 10am. La Rochefoucauld (Salle des associations, rue Thibaud 16110 La Rochefoucauld) on Wednesday the 18th of November at 10am. Confolens (lecture theatre, communauté de communes du Confolentais, 6 rue Fontaine des Jardins, 16500 Confolens) on Thursday the 19th of November at 2pm.

The good news is there are no death duties between spouse, Pacs partners or French registered charities. The bad news is 60% tax between partners (not married or Pacs). So if you have bought a house on Tontine and are not married or Pacs, the survivor of the two will have to pay 60% tax on the half of the house he or she will inherit.

Please send me an email or phone 05 45 31 01 61 to book a place as we have limited places for insurance purposes. Alternatively, email or phone me to make a private appointment (it is free). Don’t hesitate either to contact me for any other subjects such as inheritance law, tax, savings, funeral cover or quote on any insurances. And check out our web site for my previous articles on the ‘Practical Pages’ of the English site.

The same problem will occur if you have children from a previous marriage. With the change of law, you can disinherit your children in order to give everything to your new wife on your death, hoping

Email: Visit our website:

48 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

BH Assurances, 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 RUFFEC


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015 | 49

Could There be Anything Finer?

by Joanna Leggett

Finding the perfect B&B is prerequisite to the perfect holiday – finding a home which makes a perfect bed and breakfast property is a boon for those seeking to supplement their income! Deux-Sèvres provides the ideal location for such properties. Strategically placed, close to the attractions of Puy de Fou and Futuroscope at the gateway of the magical Marais Poitevin, running a B&B here makes sound economic sense. This area also provides a great staging post for those seeking a few days of tranquillity as they travel on southwards as we’re so close to the Loire valley but, as everyone knows, the weather improves as soon as you pass Tours! What better way to deter visitors over summer who deem your home their ideal (free) holiday home … for you will be genuinely ‘fully booked’! Not far from Puy de Fou, near Cerizay, a longère set in 3.6 acres of land with large pond (Leggett reference 51061, photo left) is for sale at 191 000€. The private side of the house has two bedrooms, large kitchen and dining with a separate lounge. Already up and running as a B&B, this property boasts two family suites accessed from an independent entrance. Within walking distance of Chef Boutonne, an extremely spacious six bedroom character home with large, private walled garden is on the market for 349 500€ (ref: 11369, photo right). Here, light spills through the house and doors open out on to the gardens. On the first floor there are six good sized bedrooms, four are en suite – the master bedroom boasting its own dressing area! Then there’s the tennis court, sunny in-ground swimming pool, outbuildings and barbecue area. A wonderful family home or the ideal place for a thriving B&B. ‘Mouthwatering’ is the best description for a fully renovated Charentaise Maison de Maître styled farmhouse near Chef Boutonne (ref: 23513, photo left). The main house has four bed and breakfast suites with private bathrooms, plus two further bedrooms. Then there are two large gîtes and a pool set in its extensive grounds – the outbuildings include a pigeonnier and large open barn. This tranquil, private home is set at the end of a lane with no passing traffic – recently reduced to 585 000€, could there be anything finer for your new home with income? Leggett Immobilier is one of the leading estate agents in France. You can access all our local property listings at www.frenchestateagents. com/poitou-charentes-property

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Leggett Immobilier

50 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015  

English language magazine for the French department of Deux-Sevres (79) and surrounding areas. (Vienne, Vendée, Charente-Maritime and Charen...

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2015  

English language magazine for the French department of Deux-Sevres (79) and surrounding areas. (Vienne, Vendée, Charente-Maritime and Charen...