The Deux-Sevres Monthly Magazine November 2018 Issue

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

Welcome! to Issue 92 of

This Month’s Advertisers

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine...

All of us have a special place, where we can ruminate on life and all it throws at us. We have a bench by a pond (not the most beautiful pond as it leaks and is half empty, as well as being covered in duckweed), where we have a cup or glass of something, stare into the muddy depths and drift in our thoughts. Across the water spans a rotten wooden bridge, like something out of ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’. It has only ever been crossed by the dog and drunken revellers. The pond is home to an amazing array of frogs and toads, which like to sun themselves at the edge of the butyl liner. Whenever we pass there is a moment of surprise when 50 to 60 frogs hurl themselves through the air into the water, in the most spectacular display of synchronised diving. They even throw themselves off the rickety bridge. In the same way the Japanese rake gravel in their zen gardens, Anna scoops the duckweed from the surface in long, sweeping movements. Ommm! In particular in this month of commemoration it is important to have a place of contemplation, where we can get things in perspective and remind ourselves what is truly important in life. We hope you enjoy this issue of the magazine and have a worry free month. Photo: Anna, myself and the aging Labrador at the pond of contemplation next to the rickety bridge.

à la prochaine Stephen & Anna

Tel: 05 49 64 21 98 Email: Website:

Emergency Numbers:

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

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

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

4 6 12 13 14 18 19 20 24 28 30 33 34 36 41 45

ABORDimmo 45 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) 2 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) 40 A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant) 32 Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group 42 Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) 37 Andy Quick (Roofing & Renovation) 38 ARB French Property 47 Arbres et Abeilles (Plant Nursery) 23 Argo carpentry 40 Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) 35 Beaux Villages Immobilier 47 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 44 Blevins Franks Financial Management 43 Café Pause! Christmas Market 6 Café Rendez-Vous 7 Carry On Cinderella! (Reaction Theatre) 6 Centric Immobilier 45 Champs de Jaune (The Gîte Company) 22 Cherry Picker Hire 39 Chris Bassett Construction 38 Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) 37 Christies (English Book Shop & Tea Room) 6 CJ Electricité 37 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 40 Darren Lawrence 38 David Watkins Chimney Sweep 40 Discover Yoga 13 Down To Earth (Pool Design) 45 Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) 35 Hallmark Electricité 37 Helen Booth (deVere Group) 41 Hiley Location - (Digger Hire and Ground Works) 39 HMJ Maintenance and Renovation Service 38 House Sale in L’Absie 45 Inter Décor (Tiles & Bathrooms) 36 Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries 39 Jardin 360° (Garden maintenance) 22 Jeff’s Metalwork 36 John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 35 Jon the Carpetman 22 KCR Service ( Alarms and Security systems) 37 La Bohème (Bar and Restaurant) 32 La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) 22 Leggett Immobilier 46 Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) 32 LPV Technology (IT services) 29 Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction 38 Mark Wilson (French Classes and Translation Services) 9 Michael Glover (Plasterer, tiler, renderer) 38 Michel Barateau (Cabinet Maker) 40 ML Computers 29 Motor Parts Charente 35 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 35 Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) 23 Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) 13 Poitiers Biard Airport 2 Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) 45 Rob Berry (Plasterer) 38 Robert Mann (Re-upholstery) 22 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering) 28 Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) 23 Sarl Down to Earth Construction (Groundworks and Micro Station Installer) 39 SBO (Websites, Graphic Design and Marketing) 29 Short Cuts (Mobile Dog Grooming) 19 Simon the Tiler 36 Smart Moves - Removal company 35 Steve Coupland (Property Services) 38 Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) 37 Steve Shaw (Cartoonist) 29 Strictly Roofing 36 Stump Grinding Services (David Cropper) 22 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 9 Sunny Sky Cars (Cars, Motorhomes and Vans wanted) 35 TheatriVasles Theatre Group 47 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 35 The Fixer - Rick Denton 41 The Hope Association 19 UPVC Double Glazing (Haynes Carpentry) 36 Val Assist (Translation Services) 9 Vienne Tree Services 22

© Anna and Stephen Shaw 2018. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anna and Stephen Shaw accept no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that the company you are dealing with is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. It is strongly advised to check details of published events with other sources before setting out on long journeys. <<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Anna and Stephen Shaw 2 Jaunasse, Louin, 79600 Tél: 05 49 64 21 98. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Anna and Stephen Shaw. Crédits photos: Anna and Stephen Shaw, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: novembre 2018 - Tirage: 5000 exemplaires. Siret: 839 041 282 00014 ISSN: 2115-4848 TVA: FR 48 839 041 282

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 3

What’s On... 3 - LUC LE GUENNEC IN CONCERT at Café Rendez-Vous, L’Absie at 9pm, free entry. More details on page 7. 4, 9, 10, 11 - THE CENTENNIAL CABARET COMMEMORATIVE SHOW in Chef-Boutonne. Cabaret Memorial Show proposed by the Association franco-anglais de bonne entente as part of the centenary of WWI. More than 50 artists on stage. Free entry. Sunday 4th at 5pm in The church of Javarzay, Chef-Boutonne Friday 9th at 8pm in the church of Villefagnan Saturday 10th at 8pm in the church of Clussais-La-Pommeraie Sunday 11th at 5pm in the church of Ruffec 10 - WOMEN’S VOICES FROM THE GREAT WAR - Commemorative event presented by the Get Together History Group. Theatre Maison du Village, Vasles at 3pm. Free of charge, but seats must be booked in advance. Please email: Also in the Salle will be an exhibition of art works by members of Art Scene; representative stands by the Royal British Legion, the Red Cross, and BLESMA and a display of Great War journals, posters, postcards, and trade and cigarette cards from both Britain and France. For more details see page 10. 11 - CENTENARY OF THE WWI ARMISTICE – commemorative events throughout France including a concert of war songs at the Bocapole, Bressuire from 6pm. Free entry. 12 - DEADLINE FOR ENTRIES INTO THE BRESSUIRE PHOTOGRAPHY COMPETITION – a story of rocks. For more info: www. 14 - LE TOUR DE FINANCE. See page 42 for more information. 17-18 - MARCHÉ DES CRÉATEURS in Parthenay. Saturday 2pm7pm, Sunday 10am-6pm. Free entry. 17 - CSSG CHRISTMAS BAZAAR in Café Des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. 10.30am - 5pm. See page 7 for more information. 17-18 - SALON DES CRÉATEURS in Bressuire. Fifty exhibitors. The theme is ‘vintage’ make-up, nail art, hair styling, photo shoot, fashion show and much more. Free entry, the Bocapole 11am-8pm. 17-18 - WINE FAIR in Sauzé-Vaussais. Fifty exhibitors - Wine, gastronomy and art. In the gymnasium from 10am. 18 - CHRISTMAS CAROL CONCERT in Saint-André-sur-Sèvre. Two choirs, forty choristers will perform Christmas Carols in the Church. 3.30pm – Free entry. 18 - CRAFT EXHIBITION AND FARMERS’ MARKET in Allonne from 9am-6pm. More details on page 40. 23-24 - CARRY ON CINDERELLA! Reaction Theatre, Secondigny. See page 6 for more details. 24 - CHRISTMAS BAZAAR in 86400 Savigne. Salles des Fetes 10am -2.30pm. More details on page 7. 24-25 - National Poultry Exhibition in Thouars 25 - CHRISTMAS MARKET at Café Pause!, L’Absie 11am - 5pm. More details on page 6.

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

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: PAPATOM Reel Fish & Chips 7th & 21st - Etusson: Salle de la Cantine 8th - La Coudre: Auberge de la source 9th - Genneton: Café de la Mairie 23rd - St. Martin de Sanzay: Café de la Pompe Tel: 06 04 14 23 94 reelfishandchipspapatom

FROM 6.30pm

25 - CHRISTMAS FAIR at the Funny Farm Cat Rescue, 79200 from 10.30am – 4.30pm. More details on page 19. 25 - CHRISTMAS MARKET in Chauray Salle des Fêtes. 10am-6pm. Free entry. 29 - QUIZ NIGHT at A La Bonne Vie in La Beugnon. By reservation, starts at 7pm. See page 32 for more information. Dates in green = Christmas Markets!

REGULAR EVENTS... 1ST & 3RD MONDAY OF THE MONTH AT 3PM Belote at Café des Sports, L’Absie. EVERY THURSDAY AT 7PM - Scottish Dancing at Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. EVERY THURSDAY FROM 8PM - Quizwitch Quiz at le Chaudron, 79320 Chantemerle. 2.50€ p/p. Money raised in aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres. EVERY FRIDAY AM - Reaction Theatre’s Art Scene meet in Secondigny. Contact John for details Tel: 05 49 63 23 50. EVERY TUES & THURS AM - Annie Sloan Workshops. Personally trained by Annie Sloan to help you get the best from her paints and products. Please see EVERY OTHER THURSDAY AT 6.30PM - Franglais Group at Le Clemenceau, Mouilleron-en-Pareds. 2nd Tuesday of Month AT 8PM - Quiz Night at Le Regal’On, Allonne. 2ND WEDS OF MONTH AT 4PM - Monthly quiz in aid of Furry Friends charity at La Bohème see page 32 for more info. 3RD WEDS of month AT 7.30PM - Team Quiz. At Le Clemenceau Bar, Mouilleron-en-Pareds, in aid of animal charities. 3RD WEDS OF MONTH AT 3PM - Franglais Group at Pause! Café, L’Absie. Last FRIDAY of month - Books, CDs, DVDs etc. sale. Chez Sue & Stuart Marshall, 12 rue du Bourg Chasteigner, Cheffois, in aid of animal charities (2-5pm) Tel: 02 51 51 00 96. 1ST WEDS OF MONTH AT 2PM - 4PM - Coffee & Book afternoon at Funny Farm Cat Rescue, St Germain-de-Longue-Chaume. EVERY THURSDAY - Jean David Art Group at L’Absie. For times contact Jean on 06 52 93 33 60.

what’s COMING UP... 1-2 December - Saint-Loup-sur-Thouet Christmas Market (Saturday 3pm-11pm, Sunday 10am-7pm) Christmas market that welcomes more and more participants each year: 10,000 visitors and 125 merchants in 2018! 2 December - Terves English Christmas Market. See page 7. 7-8 December - Theatrivasles perform Relatively Speaking. The performance of Alan Ayckbourn’s classic comedy begins at 8pm in the Theatre Maison du Village, Vasles. More details on page 47.

La Vendée Chippy Weds: ‘Pub Le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges Thurs: ‘La Bohème’, 69 route du lac, Mervent Fri: Bar ‘Le Clemenceau’, Mouilleron-en-Pareds Sat: Last of month : Bar ‘Le Chaps’, La Chapelle Thireuil Sun 18: Xmas market, 85670 Saint-Paul-Mont-Penit Tel: 02 44 39 16 73 OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

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MR T’S FRITERIE Regular venues at:

• Aulnay 17470 (from 6pm) • Ballans 17160 • La Chapelle 16140 • St Jean d’Angély 17400 • Les Essards-Saintes 17250 Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

OPEN 6 .30- 9pm

...November 2018 LOCAL MARKETS



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

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

A warm welcome awaits everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further information please take a look at our website or contact us by email: office. Further information from the Chaplaincy Office 05 49 97 04 21 or from John & Barbara Matthews 05 49 75 29 71. The Filling Station ~ Poitou-Charentes The Filling Station is a network of local Christians of all denominations who meet together regularly for spiritual renewal and evangelism purposes. ALL WELCOME. Please see our bilingual website for details of meetings and summer programmes or contact 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 (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. After each service, tea and coffee are served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a `bring and share’ lunch. For details of all our activities, our Services in the west of the Vendée, copies of recent newsletters and more information, please check our website: The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship welcomes you to any of our meetings held throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée.

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2018 1st November 11th November 25th December

1st and 3rd Sunday at 11am in St Hilaire de Voust, Vendée and 2nd and 4th Sunday at 11am in two locations: one near Bressuire, DeuxSèvres and the other near Bournezeau, Vendée. Meetings last about an hour and are followed by a time of fellowship & refreshments. Find out more by contacting Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit:

All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël) (Dates in bold=Public holidays)




@The DSMagazine



YOU TUBE: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine

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

The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun). We welcome and embrace all Christians from all denominations and warmly invite you to join us. Following the service, coffee is served, and for those who wish to stay a little longer, we enjoy a light, bring and share lunch.

INSTAGRAM: thedsm79



Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking

5th: Limalonges Chef Boutonne 8th: (2nd Thursday) th Theil Rabier 12 : Aigre (Thursday) 15th: Tel: 05 45 71 70 91 FROM 7pm

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

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

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

OPEN 6 - 8.30pm

OPEN mornings

Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 5



Mix & Match ~ Great Variety

MASSES OF GORGEOUS GIFTS Christmas Presents ~ Stocking Fillers

More Temptations Constantly Coming In


-DELICIOUS HOME-BAKING Cream Teas, Brownies, Cupcakes, Fruit Cake … ENGLISH BOOKS from 0,50 €


Please Note: Closed pm of Thurs 1st Nov

FREE WiFi GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie Siret: 47876969800018

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 2018

come visit Father Christmas SUNDAY 2nd DECEMBER 2018 10h00 to 18h00 Christmas gifts Mulled Wine and Mince Pie Homemade cakes and refreshments Reel Fish & Chips




SHARE YOUR EVENTS ! Entries into the What’s On Listing (P.4) are free! (12€ for businesses) + your event is added to our busy Facebook page.... Simply email us: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 7

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor


ver thought of visiting La Roche-sur-Yon for the day? No?? I thought not; the capital of the Vendée is not exactly known for its tourist attractions! But think again! In 2012 the town centre square, Place Napoléon, was given a makeover, and by January 2014 the enormous car park had been transformed into a pedestrianised zone with water features, walkways, vegetation and a conservatory-style café/restaurant. But the pièce de résistance is undoubtedly the 13 mechanical animals, reminiscent of the Île des Machines in Nantes, which can be manipulated free of charge by members of the public. Then, when you have tired of playing with these gigantic animated toys, how about a spot of shopping? You can either stroll around the more upmarket shops in the town centre, or drive out to one of La Roche’s two shopping malls - wander round the well-established Les Flâneries to the north, or visit the more recently created Sud Avenue (where you can still shop at C & A!) to the south.

And finally, to complete your day out, head over to the Vendéspace (, an entertainment centre just to the north of the town, where you can enjoy a variety of different types of events. A number of these are free of charge, such as various international sporting events including tennis, handball and artistic gymnastics, whilst others need to be booked and paid for in advance. Some of the spectacles programmed over the next few months include the musical Le Livre de la Jungle, an orchestral concert entitled La Folle Journée, and the iconic ballet Le Lac des Cygnes. So, as the autumn slowly moves towards winter, widen your horizons with a visit to La Roche-sur-Yon for a mixture of entertainment, culture and retail therapy!

It’s nearly Christmas, oh no it isn’t, oh yes it is! Sorry, I know it’s only early November but most of our activities are now focused on the festive season.


Get into the Christmas spirit and come and see our pantomime. Rehearsals for the Carry On Cinderella panto are progressing very well. There are over 30 members involved. As well as the many actors and singers taking part, several people are working on scenery, costumes, music, sound effects, props and front of house. See our advert on page 7 for more information and where to get your tickets.


The choir has now started preparing for a number of Christmas concerts. We will be singing in a series of carol concerts on the weekends of the 8th/9th and 15th/16th December, times and venues to be confirmed. On the morning of the 2nd December we are singing at the Marché de Nöel at Beaulieu-sous-Parthenay and then at Terves Christmas Fair in the afternoon. As well as singing Linda and Aidan Fairlie will be leading a small group of musicians as an added attraction at these events. In addition to Linda and Carol on violin, Ann on piano, Nigel on double bass and of course Aidan on flute, we now have a new member, who will be playing the cello. I wonder if they want me on my ukulele? ‘Oh NO we don’t!’ For more details see the December issue of ‘The DSM’.


Tony has started putting us through our paces again after the summer break. We meet every Thursday evening at the Café des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux at 7pm, why not come along and join in?

THE ART SCENE Place Napoléon © Wikimedi Commons/Giles Guillamot

Fact file: The town expanded significantly after Napoleon chose the site as the new préfecture of the Vendée on 25th May 1804, replacing Fontenay-le-Comte (then under its revolutionary name of Fontenayle-Peuple). Most of La Roche had been eradicated in the Vendée Revolt (1793–96). The renamed Napoléonville was laid out and a fresh population of civil servants and soldiers brought in. The town was called successively: La Roche-sur-Yon (during the Ancien Régime and French First Republic) Napoléon-sur-Yon (during the First French Empire) Bourbon-Vendée (during the French Restoration) Napoléon-Vendée (during the French Second Empire) Karen runs a gîte business near the Vendée coast at:

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

We meet every Friday morning in Secondigny and have a wide variety of activities. Many of our members entered this year’s art exhibition at the Secondigny Apple Festival. We are providing paintings related to WWI and the theme of ‘Where Have All the Flowers Gone’ for the Get Together History Groups exhibition at Vasles on the 10th November. For more information on all the groups check out our new website: Note the .eu is now being used in place of the previous .fr.


Unfortunately, our friends in TheatriVasles have had to change the dates of their performances of Alan Aykbourn’s Relatively Speaking due to the illness of one of the cast and the performances will now be on the 7th and 8th December.

Best wishes, John


by Sue Burgess


he 11th November le 11 novembre has become a day for remembrance une journée de souvenir as well as another bank holiday un jour férié. It was in fact originally the day for remembering one day in particular, that of the Armistice l’Armistice of 1918. In France, the end of the Second World War is remembered on the 8th May. The minute’s silence was put into place for the first time in 1919. The unknown soldier le soldat inconnu was buried under the Arc de Triomphe in 1921 and at the ceremony in 1923, the flame Flamme du Souvenir was lit for the first time. Le Bleuet de France, the cornflower, France’s equivalent of the poppy, was the idea of Charlotte Malleterre and Suzanne Leenhardt, both nurses at Les Invalides. They created a workshop for war invalids. The war pensioners made cornflowers out of blue material - a therapeutic activity, but the sale of the cornflowers would partly cover their financial needs. The cornflower is the national symbol for remembrance in France (above). In 1935, the government decided that the cornflower would be sold on the 11th November. Then in 1957 it was decided that they should also be sold on the 8th May. Ceremonies des cérémonies are held at the war memorial le monument aux morts of most villages and towns. A wreath une gerbe with red, white and blue ribbons is laid. Lists of the people killed are read out. The minute’s silence is respected. In most villages the local primary schools participate in the ceremonies. Perpetuation of the national memory is very important to the French. As the 11th November is a holiday, the ceremonies can be held on the day itself. This year celebrates the centenary le centenaire of the signing of the Armistice of 1918. The Armistice was at first a temporary agreement un accord prévisionnel which would last for 36 days and could be renewed three times, until the final treaty un traité was signed. The Treaty of Versailles was signed on the 28th June 1919. On the 24th November 1922, the French parliament declared that the 11th November would become Remembrance day le 24 novembre 1922, le Parlement déclare le 11 novembre ‘fête nationale’ avec la dénomination de ‘Jour du Souvenir’. The last French soldier to have participated in the First World War la Grande Guerre Lazarre Ponticelli, died in 2008 le dernier poilu français, Lazare Ponticelli, est mort en 2008. In 2012 François Hollande, the President at that time, declared that the 11th of November would now be a date to remember all French soldiers lost in war, whichever conflict they had been involved in.

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary: un cimetière ................................ cemetery un gerbe ................................... a wreath, a spray of flowers

édifices publics............................. public buildings les poilus ....................................

hairy *

en mémoire, en souvenir ............. in remembrance une cérémonie de commémoration a remembrance service L’armistice / le 11 novembre

Remembrance Day

*nickname given to the French soldiers in the trenches during the First World War, because they didn’t have the facilities for shaving.

Take a Break - SOLUTION

to decorate with flags

Easy Crossword: Across: 1. hiccup 4. reflex 8. train 9. receipt 10. reiki 11. buzzard 12. insolvent 15. against 16. opium 17. gestapo 18. eight 19. stream 20. asthma Down: 2. Israel 3. Chicken little 5. freezing point 6. export 7. tribulation 13. Egbert 14. Durham

pavoiser ..................................


commémorer .............................. to commemorate

Toughie Crossword: Across: 1. shoot 4. faction 8. encircles 9. kir 10. empty 11. origami 13. cinematograph 15. Mayotte 16. refit 18. awl 20. premieres 21. dresser 22. extra Down: 1. scene 2. occupancy 3. tarry 4. film of the year 5. casting 6. ink 7. Norwich 12. away first 13. command 14. my types 16. reine 17. Tessa 19. lee

le cénotaphe ............................. a cenotaphe

A bed A stamp The engineer was the boy’s mum. A baby crawls on all fours, walks on two legs as an adult and uses a cane when old. Every farmer’s part is 1/3 (45+75) = 40 sacks. Gaspard paid 1400€ for 40 sacks, so 1 sack costs 35€. Answer: Clement 1225€, Pierre 175€ a. Room For One More b. A Big Miss Under Standing

le monument aux morts ............. a war memorial

Q1. Q2. Q3. Q4. Q5. Q6.

une couronne .............................. a funeral wreath

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 9



ne hundred years ago the Great War, la Grande Guerre, was brought to an end by signatures on a piece of paper. Millions had died before this simple concluding act and millions more had been maimed. The consequences of what we now call 'collateral damage' blighted the lives of those who survived the carnage as well as the many on the Home Front who, throughout the four war years had awaited news of loved ones with the utmost trepidation. As those long years passed, the magnitude of the losses in the conflict had become an almost acceptable fact, a fact which merely through repetition had rendered the familiar horrors no longer particularly newsworthy. In our presentation, the voice of a surviving veteran sets this into context: “One minute we was laughin', me an' Ted', The next, he lay beside me grinnin' – dead. 'There's nothin' to report', the papers said.” Away from the battlefield another conflict, a propaganda war, was being waged by the government against the women of the Home Front, mothers, sisters, wives, sweethearts, and the perceived influence that they wielded on their menfolk. This was a war opposing the hearts and minds of women whose natural instincts were to protect their families, to keep them close; but for the government who were intent on maintaining the war effort, this posed an uncertain threat to recruitment. An official publicity campaign was mounted suggesting that such feminine concerns were misplaced and argued that they only helped to prolong the war and added to the peril of those who were already serving. Women of the Home Front had also to contend with the latter-day 'peer pressure', the 'social media' of a society which placed the menfolk, willingly or otherwise, under an obligation to 'answer the call'. The troops, by definition were brave, therefore the women of the Home Front must show bravery also and not hold back their menfolk from fighting. In the rumour mill, women who might try to do so were painted as 'unpatriotic', or alternatively, they were 'heartless' if they actively gave the war their support and encouraged their menfolk to take the Kings Shilling. The unspoken threat of a white feather was a powerful symbol. The Get Together History Group presents some of these troubling arguments to us from the stage through the voices of three women, Vera, Jessie and Claudine. Waiting for news from the battlefield was a familiar torment, and Vera relates that “every ring at the door suggests a telegram, every telephone call a long distance message giving bad news”.Conversely, Jessie represents the idealised mother figure stoically maintaining the 'stiff upper lip' of the 'Home Fronters' to match that of the troops; although even Jessie doesn't want to be reminded of the war too often – “Hark! The paper boys again/Wish that shout could be suppressed/ keeps one always on the strain”. Claudine is the grieving heart of 'collateral damage'. Her grief has taken a different course to that of Jessie or Vera; she is neither stoical nor is she prepared to accept what might become inevitable. Whereas Vera is waiting both impatiently and nervously for news from the front, and Jessie knits

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

by Gaynor Mickelborough

to keep her hands and mind occupied and away from speculating about the future, Claudine is resentful. Her husband of thirty-eight years has been killed and she wants answers from the Gods of War - “Pourquoi! Etais-tu jalouse de notre bonheur?” These characters, and many more, form part of our Commemoration on Saturday, 10th November in the Vasles auditorium, commencing 3pm. In order to avoid clashes with local Remembrance ceremonies, the Get Together History Group has decided to stage their event on the tenth day, rather than the eleventh. Thanks to the support and generosity of our sponsors, including the maire and all the staff of the mairie of Vasles, this presentation is free of charge, but as places are limited all seats must be booked in advance. To book your seat for Nothing to Report...Women's Voices from the Great War, please email: as soon as possible. We welcome you to this dramatised presentation but also extend a cordial invitation to join us afterward at the wreath laying ceremony at Vasles war memorial with our colleagues the Union Nationale des Combattants/Vasles/Les Forge. To be followed by a reception and refreshments in the Salle, place du 25 août, Vasles. Also in the Salle will be an exhibition of art works by members of Art Scene; representative stands by the Royal British Legion, the Red Cross, and BLESMA: The Limbless Veterans; and a display of Great War journals, posters, postcards, and trade and cigarette cards from both Britain and France.

STOP PRESS! “Best wishes for a successful event” from Baroness Williams of Crosby We are proud to have received encouragement and support from Baroness Williams of Crosby (Shirley Williams), the daughter of Vera Brittain, whose work has been inspirational and featured extensively in the preparation of this commemoration event. Vera's brother, her fiancé and two friends all fought and died in action in France. Baroness Williams, replying to our invitation to join us, sends her best wishes for our commemorative event. We were also delighted to learn that our commemorative event will be featured in a British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) broadcast. This will be aired some time close to the 100th anniversary of the Armistice on the 11th November. Robert Pierson, a Get Together History Group member, erstwhile BFBS programme director and narrator in our presentation, recently gave an interview describing how our dramatised presentation brings together our many local colleagues, friends and neighbours in France in an act of remembrance.



ne hot evening in August whilst trawling through a load of publications on Facebook, I came across something that caught my eye. An Evening with Helen Taylor Thompson. Now being rather badly educated as far as the Second World War is concerned, I had absolutely NO IDEA who Helen Taylor Thompson was. I was doubly interested as I play Scrabble every week with one of my French neighbours, Lydie, who is the same age as Helen and who, having been born in Alsace, was sent to be educated and then to work for the Nazis during the war. Lydie’s tales are fascinating and so I decided that despite the 100km journey, I would reserve for the evening in Limalonges. The 15th September was a lovely day and we set off with plenty of time to find a nice spot and have a picnic somewhere in the village. Unfortunately, I had not bargained for the typical route barrée and a diversion which added about 20km to our journey and so we just had 15 minutes to picnic by the car park of the salle de fêtes. Stephen Clark who had organised the evening was most welcoming. The smallish room was full. The talk took the form of an interview with Helen answering questions from Stephen. Helen’s tales were told with a lot of humour, and there were also very touching moments when she explained just how serious and important it was to get the messages right as lives were at stake. Helen did not have an easy childhood. Her mother died in child birth and she was brought up by her father and then also by her step-mother. Helen’s father then passed away when she was about nine. In 1943 Helen was 19 years old and desperately wanted to join up and go to France. She wanted to join the WRAF because she liked the uniform. She was refused so she tried the WRENS. Same story, so finally Helen joined the FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry for those of you who like me had never heard of it). Helen was desperate to be in active service in France. However, they thought she was too young. Then one day she was given secret instructions to get on a train. Her recital of the journey is like something from a James Bond novel. ‘Get on a train, wait until someone comes to the compartment and gives you some new instructions. Get on an underground train and get off when someone knocks on the window!’ Finally she arrived in a building somewhere in London where she was sent into a huge darkened room with an enormous table and an officer sitting at the end of it. This was where she signed the official secrets act.

by Sue Burgess

Firstly, Helen worked receiving and passing messages on the BBC and then coding them to send to the resistance in France and to the allied forces who were working secretly in France. She told two stories which showed just how important this work was. When she was fairly new there, she was asked to ‘take someone under her wing’. A girl who had been a few seconds late making a broadcast and subsequently a whole group of paratroopers had been caught and shot. The second story was about one of her colleagues who received a message from a contact in France. She had a gut feeling that something was not right in the way the message had been sent and informed the superior officer. He thought that perhaps the group was just under pressure and told her to carry on as normal. Later it turned out that Helen’s colleague had been communicating with the Germans. There were moving contributions from two members of the audience. One of them related stories of members of her family who had been sent to concentration camps. The other gentleman’s father had been a German soldier who was captured by the allies in France and sent to work on a farm in UK as a prisoner of war. “My mother was the farmer’s daughter” he said as he handed the microphone back. Growing up with an ex-Nazi father can’t have been easy. After the war Helen continued in nursing. She was elected to the board of the Mildmay Mission Hospital in 1952 and afterwards sat on a number of Government NHS committees. She later fought the closure of the Mildmay Hospital when Kenneth Clarke said he was going to close it. Helen was very determined and told Kenneth Clarke that there was no way he was going to close the hospital down. He said that he would save the hospital if Helen raised £1 400 000 in six months. And guess what? She did – by playing local authorities off against each other and persuading them to give funds. Helen then became the chair of Mildmay when it reopened as the first hospice in Europe for people living with AIDS in 1988. In 2000 Thare Machi Education (originally Starfish Initiative) began and today Helen is chair of the organisation. Thare Machi Education (TME) uses interactive DVDs in local languages to educate children and young people against the disease. TME works with local partners in Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, India and Cambodia, and soon will be in DR Congo, Zambia and China. The DVDs are given out free of charge. In 1990, Helen was awarded the MBE followed by the OBE in 2005. Totally well deserved. What an inspiring woman! And what luck I just happened on that Facebook post.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 11


Royal Air Forces Association Sud-Ouest France Le Perail, 17250 BEURLAY, France Tel: 0033 (0)5 46 95 38 89 Mobile: 0033 (0)6 89 90 55 82 Email:

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.


A vibrant group based in Vasles (79340) offering quality theatre productions. New members always welcome. Contact, find us on Facebook or email: THE ROYAL BRITISH LEGION LINAZAY, POITOU-CHARENTES BRANCH

Telephone: Angela: 05 49 87 79 09, Jim: 00 44 79 60 16 83 30 or Janet: 05 46 26 90 85. Email: publicinfo.swfrance@aa-€ or visit for details of English-speaking meetings.

Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres

Aims to improve the lives of people affected by Cancer in the Deux-Sèvres. Contact June Searchfield on 05 49 64 59 96 or visit The Jean David Art Group meets every Thursday, at L’Absie (79). Jean’s classes cater for all media and all levels of students beginners most welcome! For details, please visit or phone Jean on 06 52 93 33 60.

Craft Café Creatif

Do you enjoy knitting or sewing in the company of others? Join us in L’Absie for an enjoyable afternoon over a cup of tea and a piece of cake. For details contact Carole on email:

French Lessons for English Speakers

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

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

AL-ANON Support Group

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


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

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

TTL Photography Group

Please visit the branch website:

Local photography group on the Deux-Sèvres/Vendée border. New members always welcome, all levels of expertise and knowledge. We meet every 2nd Tuesday of the month at 1pm at Pause! L’Absie (79240). Feel free to pop in and join us.

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

Combined Services Support Group (CSSG) by Lin Adams


ell, what a lovely summer we have had, a little hot at times, not that I’m complaining. During August and September we have been busy with two music afternoons, both of which were very enjoyable and successful. Thanks to everyone who helped make these events so good. Over the next few weeks we will be finalising details of our Christmas Bazaar at the Café Des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux 79160 on 17th November - get your Christmas goodies sorted early! Doors open 10.30am with Joy providing bacon butties, tea and coffee.

We will also have a stall and tombola at the Terves Christmas Market on 2nd December. If you would like to help raise funds for our ex-service community, we would love to hear from you. If you would like a stall at our Christmas Bazaar please telephone me on: 05 49 64 84 95, spaces are limited, so contact me ASAP.

Health, Beauty & Fitness Small B/W Advert from 34€ per month


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


Come and have fun whilst exercising body and mind. Line Dancing at our warm and friendly club. Many styles of dance and music - Country, Celtic, Line etc. All levels welcome. English and bilingual instructors. Ring Mark & Anita Wilson 05 49 95 28 73 / 06 86 98 94 63

Tai Chi classes

Exercise for the body and mind. Age and physical abilities are no obstacle. Classes are held in Bressuire on Tuesday evenings and Breuil Barret on Friday afternoons. Call Terry on: 05 49 65 60 34 or go to:

Everyday Yoga for Everyone Breath: The anti-anxiety drug right under your nose


elow is a simple experiment that takes only five minutes that can reveal how your breathing patterns directly impact your mental state.

When we consistently breathe in a shallow way without engaging our diaphragm, and with the emphasis on the inhalation, we are sending a signal to our brains to activate the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). The SNS then floods our bodies with neurotransmitters such as noradrenaline that increase blood pressure and heart rate. The signal we are sending is, ‘Watch out! Be careful!’ If this breathing style becomes a regular habit, then even when we are just sitting at a desk or watching a movie, we are being inappropriately stimulated to respond to a threat that isn’t there. This can result in a cycle of habituated anxiety that can be difficult to manage. Since there is so much stimulation in modern life, we need to become masters of breath so we can function effectively, and reserve our high alert mode for real emergencies. It is the exhale rather than the inhale that induces relaxation. Remember someone telling you to take a deep breath before some nervewracking moment like speaking in public? Well, this is actually terrible advice because when you do that you activate the SNS. Far better advice would be, breathe in long and slow and breathe out even longer! This activates the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) involved in ‘rest and digest’.

We are a netball team in Vasles (79340). We meet every Monday 6-7pm at the Salle Omnisports in Vasles for training with our qualified English coach. It’s fun and a great way to keep fit, so come along or contact:


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

Pure Fitness

Exercise to music classes - every Wednesday 7.30pm-8.30pm Salle des Fêtes, Vernoux-en-Gâtine 79240 For more info contact

by Rebecca Novick

Try this experiment. At the end of each stage, stop and pay attention to how you feel. 1. Breathe in short and quickly, hold your breath for a couple of seconds and then exhale. Do this 5 times. 2. Relax your belly and breathe in for a count of 4 and out for 4. 3. Now breathe in for a count of 4 and out for 6. Do 5 rounds of this. 4. Finally, breathe in for 4, out for 6, and hold the breath for 2 before the next inhale. Do this for 5 rounds. As a general rule, any deep slow breathing where you extend the exhale in relation to the inhale is going to calm you down. You can emphasize this affect by visualizing the lower part of your lungs just above your belly button (the location of the diaphragm) filling up like a balloon on the inhale and then exhaling slowly. This does not mean that inhales are bad. In fact, we can use a long inhale and shorter exhale to help us stay alert throughout the day, and energise us in the morning. But understanding and acting on the difference can help us to regulate our responses to whatever life may bring.

Respect yourself, explore yourself.

For details on yoga classes email: or follow Rebecca on The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 13


Five quick‘n’dirty writing tips


by Alison Morton

writing friend recently asked me in one of those round robins on Facebook to share five quick writing tips. After ten books you’d think it would be easy, but over time I’ve gathered a jumble of writing dos and don’ts. It probably did me a lot of good to sit and write down some of the essential ones! Here are my five: 1. Bash your story out. We know that editing, refining, honing, etc. are crucial for a good story, but you have to have something to work on. First drafts are always rubbish, but they let you pour out your initial thoughts in concrete form, including the bones of your story and any vital message. In short, it gives you an initial framework. It can be fatal if you stop to edit as you go along as you can easily lose the flow of your story. And it’s the story that always counts.

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to Jack Nixon and Ian Simpson for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

FEAR - TRUMP IN THE WHITE HOUSE by Bob Woodward The real challenge for the reader of FEAR, is first to try and put all the millions of words and images, written and projected about Trump out of sight and mind when ploughing through all 419 pages. Mission impossible, but at least try. My first impression was of a book written in a hurry, for despite Woodward’s extensive experience of those in high places in the White House, he rushes us through the endless chaos, anxious to get the reader to a conclusion.

2. Research round your subject, period and environment but don’t get caught in research thrall. When you have a good general grasp of these three, start writing. You will inevitably need to look up specific things (how different is a Glock 17 from a Glock 26 and does it matter to your narrative?). Just mark the place in your text with asterisks, emojis, different coloured text, whatever, and go back when you’ve finished your writing session and fill these gaps in afterwards.

More likely he was in a hurry to hit the shelves before another trillion or so words hit the market place on his chosen subject.

3. Avoid long passages of description. Readers are not daft and half the pleasure of reading is forming your own picture in your mind of what the author is writing. The convention these days is to start your story in the middle of the action – ‘in media res‘, as they say in Latin. I have to confess that having to wade through a lot of verdant forest or dull city streetscape for two or three pages before anything starts or a character pops up, does put me off when reading a book these days.

By the end of the book, I was thoroughly put off by the use of the f-word, not to say weary of the constant denials, the endless tweeting, the evasion of a tragically flawed man whom I had met five years ago in Scotland.

4. Get your money’s worth out of your characters. I have a lot of characters in my books, but none of them is there without a purpose. I often bring them back later in the story or in another story in the series. You can also show them as older or younger as you do your main character(s). Doing this with secondary characters reinforces interactions with the main ones, and the world they live in. As a reader, I love glimpses of such ‘old friends’. 5. Give your characters food, rest and a loo break. They need to wash themselves and their clothes, change shoes, put on a warm jacket. Readers like characters who, however clever or courageous, do stuff they do. Habits, and actions not following those habits, help define and reinforce characters. Do they show them to be obsessive, impulsive, untidy, neglectful, caring? But be very sparing; you can use these actions as beats, pauses or in place of dialogue tags. But no cups of tea every chapter, please.

Happy writing!

Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available on Amazon. Her new short story collection, ROMA NOVA EXTRA, is now out. 14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

Interestingly, the author makes very few comparisons with former president, Richard Nixon, which given the paranoia of Trump, might have been appropriate. But then, the whole point of the generally excellent read is to get across the message that there has never been a more profane bully in the Oval Office.

And do you know what, Bob Woodward was right, he lied that day and is still lying. The fear factor is still there, as so well depicted in the book, which, while being an uncomfortable read, was a must-finish one. A review by Jack Nixon. By his own admission, hopelessly out of his comfort zone in attempting to review this authorative account of life in the White House under President Trump. Although as a visitor on 25 occasions to the USA, he has some understanding of what goes on across the pond and has met the subject of the book at the Trump Golf International course in north-east Scotland.

THE MOSCOW CIPHER by Scott Mariani A rich and powerful family’s 12-year-old, Valentina, fails to return after visiting her father in Moscow. They turn to former SAS major, Ben Hope, as the one man who can bring her back safe. Initially, it seems like a straightforward case of parental child abduction, but increasingly points to something much more sinister. Ben travels to Moscow to find Valentina and her father, Yuri, who has a hidden past which seems to have caught up with him. Yuri is an expert at breaking codes and has retired from the Russian secret service, but has been kidnapped by them and forced to use his skills to break a cipher which has surfaced after 60 years. The cipher provides a means of human control and domination for an already powerful group and Ben is determined to prevent this from happening.

Bees at the Little White House by Gloria Fisher

Experiences of a new Beekeeper... Results of the division


othing that you plan goes according to the book. The dividing of my hive did not work and the bees went back to their old hive, I hope. At least I was not the only one with this problem, Brian May’s bees did exactly the same thing. I know I am a novice but I don’t think the weather helped. So cold and rainy then hot sun, with virtually no rain at all. My poor vegetables were non-existent this year and the ground was so hard I couldn’t lift the potatoes. My honey harvest this year, however, was without incident, I am pleased to say. But a lot of the honey is the darker ‘tree’ honey, still nice but different. Obviously there were not enough wild flowers around to support the hive. Last year my neighbour’s field was full of wild flowers and this year none. The only good thing was that the Asian hornets were not so much trouble. Last summer I was getting 30 a day in the traps. This year single figures, thank goodness. I am not sure yet the exact amount of honey, as I don’t have a spinner. I cut off the combs and let the honey drain out, then strain out the wax which leaves pure honey. Very tasty.

A Warm Welcome

by Jane Henderson

AVF, 'Accueil des Villes Françaises', is an association established throughout France dedicated to welcoming newcomers to an area, whether they are French nationals moving within France or foreigners moving from their country of origin to live in France. In August 2012 we moved to the Deux-Sèvres, just south of Parthenay. At the beginning of September we joined the AVF in Parthenay hoping to meet new friends and discover new activities. We have not been disappointed. We have made new friends, both English and French, and have found ourselves involved in a variety of activities to keep us busy. We have found it invaluable in helping us to integrate within the community and develop our language skills. Six years further down the line we are still members of AVF with an established circle of friends. AVF offers a range of activities, run by the members of the association on a voluntary basis, and include a walking group, a French conversation group, an English/French exchange group, cards and scrabble evenings, craft activities, a singing workshop, a photographic competition, visits to gardens and restaurants and plenty of social events to mark the important dates in the French calendar (e.g. Beaujolais nouveau!). For the volunteers involved in the running of the association their motivation is first and foremost the enjoyment of meeting with others, wanting to work as part of a team and the wish to strengthen the bonds of friendship. If there is an activity that you enjoy and would like to organise for the benefit of the association and its members, you would be very welcome to do so. October and November are, across France, the months for AVF to welcome newcomers to their new environment.

So what are the most important things that I have learned from my first year as a beekeeper: 1. That bees sense fear and trepidation, so be confident when handling them, gentle but confident. A nervous keeper will be stung more than a gentle, confident one. 2. Listen to the bees and watch their normal behaviour so that you will be more aware of any changes that will stress them, like tractors working in the next field and noisy dogs. If they are flying about like mad things, leave them alone. 3. Bees die if wet so leave them alone in the rain, they are not waterproof. 4. Enjoy these much underrated workers. If you don’t have a reason to open the hive then don’t, they know what they are doing. I tend to watch and listen to them. You can learn a lot just by observing. I have found an effective way of cleaning the wax. The beeswax melts at about 150° Fahrenheit, then I strain it through kitchen towels, leaving me with a round, golden wax disc. I intend to make natural products with both the wax, honey and a few other natural ingredients like coconut and mango. Maybe lip balm, lotion bars and body butters to start with. Photo: showing the differences in the colour of honey depending on where the bees forage for the pollen.

If you would like any other information, please email:

On Saturday 13th October Anna and I joined the AVF for a guided tour around medieval Parthenay. After an initial ‘welcome’ in the Maison du Patrimoine we followed our tour guide (photo: short sleeved, striped t-shirt) around the old town. He was fantastic and really brought the past to life with some ‘horrible histories’ type stories. Even though his tour was in French several members of the group kindly translated on the way around the city walls. At the end of the tour it was back to the Maison du Patrimoine for drinks and a chance to cement new friendships. A big thank you to the AVF for making us feel so welcome. And we look forward to seeing them again at future events. Stephen and Anna Shaw If you would like more details about AVF please email Jane Henderson at: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 15

Ho w to sew yo ur ow n ‘Sm ocked ’ top !


mocking is back in fashion, I can’t remember the last time I used sheering elastic to smock a piece of fabric! Since my last article I have had several requests to cover this technique, so here we go - a blast from the past.

by Nicola Chadwick

Step 3 - Decide how far dow you would like the smock n the top neck edge of your fabric piece extra for the hem allowa ing to start, leave this amount and a little your fabric pen along the nce. Mark your first line of sheering with continue to mark each sewpiece on the right side of the fabric, you can sewing line and then use ing line if you wish, or simply mark the first the width of your sewing subsequent line of stitching. foot to sew each

Step 4 - Take your fabric to the machine and with the right side facing upwards sew your first row of stitching, DO NOT BACK TACK AT THE BEGINNING OR END OF THE ROW and leave nice long elastic and thread ends so that they can be tied off later to secure. Continue to sew lines of stitching underneath until you are happy with the depth. You will need: • Some cotton fabric, gingham works well; the width can be between one and a half to twice your finished bust measurement. The length of the fabric is up to you, if you want to make the top into a dress then buy a longer fabric length. If you choose to use the technique to make a skirt then the width of the fabric needs to be approximately 1.5 to 2 x your waist measurement. • Some ribbon or fabric to make the straps, approximately 1.5m in length and as wide as you choose. • 1 reel of matching regular sewing thread • 1 reel of matching sheering elastic • 1 empty spool • A tape measure • Some fabric scissors • A few pins • A ruler or a set square • Either fabric marking chalk or a fabric marking pencil (one that will disappear) e. The width should be equal Step 1 - Cut out a rectangular fabric piecto 2 – depending on how full 1.5 een betw x t to - bust measuremen up to you. For example a bust you would like the top. The length is to 180cm – my fabric is 150cm of 90cm would need between 135cm e, now I just need to decide wide so I will use the full width of the piec is 53cm. how long I want my top and for me this

Step 2 - Wrap the sheering elastic around the empty spool, pulling as you go. The more you pull the more elasticated your top will be, you do need to pull a good amount and steadily, this hurts your fingers a little, but the result will be worth it! Insert the elastic normal thread at filled spool case into your mac you would with nothe top, pull the elastic through hine and with elastic and not se rmal thread. The only difference the machine as foot pressure on wing thread on the spool. If you is that you have stitch length availyour machine and set the machinecan, release the able. to the longest

16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

Step 5 - Tie each row of stitching off at the ends to secure.

Step 6 - Now you can sew the vertical seam, this will be your centre back seam, and neaten with your preferred method, as I used the whole width of the fabric my fabric edges are the selvedge and don’t need to be neatened. Step 7 - Hem the bottom of your garment, a double hem will finish off the top nicely. Step 8 - Now try the top on and attach straps if you wish, you can use ribbon, a decorative trim or even the same fabric as the top. When you are happy with the straps’ positions and length you can sew the neckline hem, sandwiching the straps into the seam. For more detailed instructions regarding how to make and sew the fabric straps head to my blog: kshop and learn to sew or Come and join me for a day’s wor improve your sewing skills: 4th December - Don’t have • Beginners’ workshop: Tuesdayto learn? We have plenty of t wan your own machine, but skill! machines here! Learn a fantastic newth December (previous 5 ay • Themed sewing day: Wednesd spend a day in my workshop and e com ) ired sewing skills requ ce or use one of mine. and sew either a pattern of your choi h, afternoon tea provided. 10.30am to 4.30pm, bring a picnic lunc to book a place. ecre elist Price 35€ - email nicola@mod Nicola

Creature Corner This month’s creature:

by Steve Shaw

The Barn Owl (La Chouette-effraie)

barn owl is one of the most widespread of all birds, as it is on every continent except Antarctica. (Latin name Tyto Talbahefound alba). Description They have long legs, toes and talons to help them catch prey hidden under long grass and large eyes so they can spot a mouse moving in a gloomy barn. Their heart-shaped face collects sound in the same way as human ears. Its hearing is the most sensitive of any creature tested; they have lop-sided ears, which helps them pinpoint sounds. Their feathers are super soft - this helps them to hunt silently, but they are not waterproof and get soaked if it rains. Behaviour Barn owls eat mostly voles, shrews, mice and sometimes rats. Food is often swallowed whole (as they don’t have teeth), bits

Letter from Blighty (October) Dear Frankie Helped by some glorious ‘Indian Summer’ weather, I am hard at work getting tender plants under cover before the first frost, due any day now, strikes. On the political front the conference season is now over, which is a relief to all concerned, I fancy. The TUC conference called for a four day week. The LibDem conference, sadly, almost passed without notice save for Vince Cable stumbling over a key punch line with ‘exotic spresm’ instead of ‘erotic spasm’. Labour promised to privatise most public services and to create tens of thousands of ‘green jobs’. And the Tory party was notable for some rather stiff ‘dad dancing’ by Theresa May, whose speech was a Chequers-free area but promised abolition of the cap on Local Authority building spending (good!) and the end of austerity (I wonder if those on the new Universal Credit benefit have noticed the change). Oh, and Boris Johnson denounced the Chequers plan as `deranged`. Not a self-promoting bone in his body, of course. Other things which have caught my eye include ‘Mr Loophole’ getting David Beckham off for driving his £200,000 car at 59mph in a 40mph area. Zoe Ball has taken over from Chris Evans at Radio 2; Jodie Whittaker is a ‘hit’ as the new Dr Who; a young quadruple-amputee woman has just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro; a third of young people are now teetotal; the divorce rate among newly- marrieds has halved in 25 years; Edith has returned to the list of girls’ names after an absence of 84 years (Oliver and Olivia are top of the boys and girls lists respectively); traditional deterrents (grit, egg shells, copper) in the garden against slugs and snails are useless; and a young white Beluga whale has been seen cruising happily off Gravesend in recent weeks. All this and a bottle of ‘the holy grail of whisky’, dated 1926, has sold at auction for £848,750. By tragic contrast more than 1,400 people have lost their lives in the terrible earthquake and tsunami in Sulawesi. ‘Our lads done good’ taking the Ryder Cup off the Americans, who were hot favourites to retain it. A British rider won La Vuelta in Spain, giving us a clean sweep of all three major European cycling ‘tours’ this year. Surrey won the County Cricket championship. And Manchester United are having their worst start in the Premiership in 29 years (not so ‘special’ now after all then, it seems). Finally, ‘Dad jokes’ are apparently making a come back on social media. From a, by definition, embarrassing genre, I managed to raise a (very faint) smile at ‘You can tell an ant’s gender by putting it in water. If it sinks, girl ant. If it floats, buoyant’. Boom, boom!

of fur and bone are then regurgitated as a pellet. They screech, they never hoot (that’s tawny owls). Barn owls usually hunt at night; even in total darkness, eating approximately four small mammals each night, that’s 1,460 per year! It’s not uncommon for barn owl chicks in the nest to feed each other. This behaviour is incredibly rare in birds. Myths and legends To hear the hoot of an owl presaged imminent death. The deaths of Julius Caesar, Augustus, Commodus Aurelius, and Agrippa were apparently all predicted by an owl. Another Roman superstition was that witches transformed into them, and sucked the blood of babies. A traditional English belief was that if you walked around an owl in a tree, it would turn and turn its head to watch you until it wrung its own neck.

‘Beware the 20th November’

by Martin Hughes


hen I was researching for an article to write the Moirai, for some reason, led me to Google. You and I may know the Moirai better as ‘The Three Fates’, goddesses who personified the inescapable destiny of man. And so it was that three searches later I hit upon one of the International Days for November. International Absurdity Day (20th). Yes really. Born of the Absurdist Movement in the post war [second] period as armageddon threatened. ‘Absurdists believe while there could be meaning, we will never know, and hence explore that ideology through constructing absurd meaning in things.’ Don’t ask me what that sentence means as it appears relatively absurd to the man on the top of the Clapham omnibus. Samuel Beckett was an absurdist, which probably explains rather a lot about his plays. In researching Samuel Beckett (prompted by the fourth fate, except there were only three), I did not realise he was Irish. Which may help to explain the problem inflicted by Brexit upon the Irish border at this time, though on reflection that is down to Mrs May, or is it Boris or one of his followers making our lives precarious in ‘L’hexagon’. Here is the problem, as I realise I have become absurd in my ramblings. Either my brain is wired incorrectly or the 20th is viral, but we are not there yet. So how can I have caught whatever it is that makes .... oh never mind? Perhaps it pays to be a little mad in this world. But here’s the rub. On the 20th you can dress funnily - a clown maybe; skip across stages doing your dance moves; make strange little gestures with your right hand if you have short fingers. The possibilities are endless. But may I humbly suggest dear reader, you are out there aren’t you? Just grab a bottle of rouge, pull the cork and pour yourself a glass, and another and another. You will need it in this absurd, absurd world - or should that be mad.

Yours Johnny

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 17

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Saint-Amand-sur-Sèvre

by Sue Burgess


he commune of Saint-Amand-sur-Sèvre is found on the border with the Vendée, on the banks of the Sèvre Nantaise river, in a triangle between Les Herbiers, Cholet and Bressuire. The 1400 inhabitants of the commune are called the Saint Amantais and the Saint Amantaises. This spelling is certainly connected with the old names of the commune Amant in 1793 and Saint Amant in 1801.

As it was situated right in the heart of the Vendée Militaire, the commune was involved in all the great battles of the Vendée wars. On 1st January 1973, Saint-Amand-sur-Sèvre joined together with the commune of Mauléon. It regained its independence in 1992. In 2017, the commune was awarded a one-flower label ‘une fleur’ by the National Council of towns and villages decorated with flowers.

The priory of the centre, Le Bourg (La Guierche) became less important after 1565. Did it suffer during the Wars of Religion or was it because of the reforms brought in by the Concile of Trente? Around the end of the 18th century, the nuns left the priory. The second priory was that of Saint Georges de la Giraudière, and also housed nuns. It is mentioned by Pouillé of Grand Gautier in 1300 and depended on the abbey of Saint-Sulpice-la-Forêt-lesRenne, part of the order of Saint Benoît. Some think that the priory was ruined during the Wars of Religion. During the revolution of 1789, the priory was sold after having been declared ‘National Property’. On the 17th May 1781 the domain of La Giraudière was sold to Nicolas Maindron who had it taken away from him because he defaulted in the payment.

People were living in the area of Saint-Amand during prehistoric times. Numerous polished stone axes, arrowheads and other tools have been found at Chaligny, at l’Aumônerie.

The third priory, that of Saint-Lambert, was founded in 1205 by Guillaume de Mauléon, the Lord of Mauléon. The monks left the priory for the same reasons the nuns left the other two and the priory was turned into a farm. Nothing remains of the priory today.

Saint-Amand must have been inhabited during the Roman period as coins have been found. Christianity progressed rapidly in the area because at the end of the 5th century it was the birthplace of one of the greatest saints of the time: Saint Amand, Bishop of Maastricht.

The commune of Saint-Amand was very active during the Vendée wars and 20 years later it was still possible to list 156 men who were still alive, and who had fought to defend their religion and the role of the catholic clergy.

Saint Amand was born on the 7th March 594 around Herbauges, that is to say in the area around where Les Herbiers is today. His father was Sérénus and his mother was Amantia. Legend tells us that Amand, who was admitted into a monastery on the Île d’Yeu when he was little more than a child, after a short prayer, chased away a huge snake that was terrorising the locals and it was never seen again. Once back at Maastricht, Saint Armand continued his work founding monasteries and performing miracles. He died in 675. The parish took on the name of Saint Amand at his death. His parents had been rich and they probably owned the lands of La Guierche.

A VOIR / MUST SEE The present day church of Saint-Amand would seem to have been built in the 15th century. It was built where an earlier chruch had stood and of which the pillars at the entrance to the left transept have been conserved. By 1868 the population had outgrown the church and it was enlarged.

The building of the present church was begun in the 11th century. The prosperity of Saint-Amand-sur-Sèvre is shown by the foundation of three priories in the town. Le Bourg, La Giraudière and Saint-Lambert.

Inside there is a sculpted wooden altarpiece which is a classified monument (it was restored in 1992 and 1993). Eight funeral stones of the lords of La Guierche, decorated with crowns and coats of arms, and covered with epitaphs can be found in the nave. They were moved in 1968 and inserted in the granite stonework behind the altar. There is also a statue of Père de Montfort.

Old postcard of Saint-Amand ©

The left transept houses a painted wooden statue of the Virgin Mary with Jesus as a child. It was sculpted by Saint Louis-Marie Grignon de Montfort whilst he was preaching at Saint-Amand in 1715.

More A-Z of the Communes of Deux-Sèvres next month... 18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

Our Furry Friends

Osteopathy For Animals: A Way To Ease Pain


fter five years of studying in the UK and France, Ludivine Rance obtained a double FrenchEnglish diploma in animal osteopathy. Dogs, cats and horses pass through her sensitive hands. Ludivine is based in the Loir-et-Cher and travels widely for her job, covering Vienne and Deux-Sèvres, thanks to her family settling near Parthenay. Having always loved animals this job was made for Ludivine. She rides in her free time and owns a black poodle named Jukebox. “The main reasons people call me for their animals are: trauma (falls, car accidents, sprains), post-operative follow-ups or digestive disorders (for example colic). The way of working is the same as for human osteopathy, I examine the structural, muscular, digestive and neurological system”. A session, at your home, lasting between 30 to 45 minutes for a dog/cat is 50€ and for a horse, an hour, is 80€. The expert hands of Ludivine Rance prove that well-being is not only reserved for humans but is excellent for our four-legged friends.

For more information tel: +33(0)7 86 37 63 81 Or by email:

Max Max is an elegant, gentle eight month old pup, looking for a new home. He is an Anglo currently weighing 40kg and is 75cm tall, so he will become a big companion. He would love a big enclosed garden, a friend to run around with and plenty of exercise due to his breed. Anglo could also be a good partner for canicross and cyclecross. He’s a lovely, well trained, well balanced dog who has got too big for his previous home. He is presently in foster near Mirebeau. Max is neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and has a passport.

Please consider offering him a new home and contact Orfée.

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 19

Home & Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


t the time of writing this, I have just returned from the UK where I was lucky enough to attend the Malvern Autumn Show. This RHS event, set beneath the backdrop of the beautiful Malvern Hills, is a small, family type of show with interests for everyone. There are collections of farm animals to see, events in the arena to watch, a pavilion full of clothing, jewellery and fancy goods; and of course a floral marquee full of plant producers and stalls a plenty. It is very relaxed, easy to get around, all on one level and lots of ‘sitting down’ spaces where refreshments or a rest can be enjoyed. My sister, who is an arthritis sufferer, was able walk along, enjoying it with me, taking our time, trying to resist some of the temptations to buy and generally soaking up the ‘horticultural’ atmosphere. The plant nurseries, represented in the floral marquee, produce beautiful gardens to show off the latest additions to their catalogues and also offer advice on growing, soil types and handy hints for success. The nurseries outside the marquee, also show their plants in garden situations, so it’s a great way to find out which plants look good together, and to gain inspiration and new ideas about garden design. There were so many spring bulbs on offer, it was difficult to make a choice! I have never seen such a wide variety of tulips, more this year than ever before. There were fringed petal tulips, parrot tulips, some whose petals are shot through with brilliant green tints, tulips that

Left: the soft bushy brushes of fox-tail lillies. Middle: parrot tulips contrasting the standard tulips (top right). Bottom right: dog’s tooth violets. Main picture: iridescent acer (prune now, if needed).

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look like peonies and some that resemble lilies. The Darwin bicoloured hybrids, with their lovely long, sturdy stems. Double blooms, blooms that open out flat to catch the sun, the botaniques, which are short stemmed and tiny, those that have completely green petals and some that are almost jet black. There are tulips now, that have several blooms on one stem and some that have the appearance of ice-cream in a cone. A stunning array to choose from. Although tempted, I did not buy any, instead, I bought fox-tail lilies or eremurus, which can produce blooms, as their name suggests, that are bushy, with many tiny flowers along their stems, that can reach up to 300cm long. A variety named ‘robusta’ is one that can reach these lengths. It is not uncommon for several of the others varieties to reach 120, 140 or 160cm. They remind me of those soft bushy brushes that we use for getting rid of cobwebs. I grew smaller ones last year and wanted to try something that would make a bit more of a statement! I’ll let you know how they ‘do’. If you are going to grow some of these beauties, the rhizome, which resembles a dry, brown spider, has a hard centre which is where the growing point is. They can be grown in the ground or in pots, either way, when planting, make a mound of potting compost mixed with some sand to improve drainage, and place the ‘spider’ on top. Fill around the edge with compost covering up the ‘legs’, leaving the growing point exposed, they don’t like to be waterlogged. If a heavy frost is forecast, cover the whole plant with some protective voile or fleece. I also invested in some erythroniums, the dog’s tooth violets. These plants like shade and there are some varieties available here now, the most common being ‘pagoda’ a yellow flowered variety. The plant fair season is gradually coming to a close, but there are still opportunities to be found. The fair at Bressuire was very good, with nurseries showing a variety of different plants for every taste. One stall had nothing but tropicals (some of which are very hardy in our climate), another trees and shrubs (the right time of the year to be planting them), roses, as always, and perennials small enough and cheap enough to buy several.

Left: trim evergreen hedges and clear weeds and debris from underneath

Most of the work to do in the garden now is in preparation for the spring, but also to try to repair the ravages of the heat on flower beds, so a lot of cutting back and tidying to do.

Now is the time to:

Carry on cutting back herbaceous perennials right to their bases and divide congested plants. Whilst dividing plants, root cuttings can be taken. Shake excess earth from the plant so you can see the roots clearly. Select thicker roots and cut lengths of about 10cm. When cutting, make a flat cut to indicate the top and a sloping cut to indicate the bottom. Cut each piece in half to make two cuttings. Fill your pots with potting compost mixed with fine grit to help drainage. Push the cutting vertically, sloping end down, all the way into the compost. Cuttings do better when planted around the edge of the pot. Cover the surface with a thin layer of fine grit and water lightly. With plants that have fine roots, cuttings can be taken in the same way, but this time, lay the cuttings on the surface of the compost horizontally, as they will be too fine to push into the soil and will get damaged if you try to push them in. Cover with grit and water as before. Plants suitable for this include: dicentra (bleeding hearts), eryngium (sea holly), verbascum, phlox, oenothera (evening primrose), oriental poppies, and echinops (globe thistle). Leave the seed heads of ornamental grasses uncut to provide protection for overwintering insects and food for small birds. Some perennials which may be borderline hardy, such as salvia amistad, agapanthus, phygelius and melianthus will need to be mulched with compost or bark, or covered with voile.

Bare root roses, shrubs and trees can still be planted and hedge planting should be completed before the frosts begin. If there is not enough time to plant hedge ‘whips’ now, heel them into the earth so that they are protected and plant them properly later. Acers should be pruned now if required, otherwise they tend to ‘bleed’ sap when it rises in the spring. Protect container plants by wrapping pots in fleece or voile, raising pots off the ground with bricks so waterlogging is avoided. Complete planting of daffodils, tulips and narcissus. Prune long stems of roses by a third to prevent root rock in winter winds. Continue to take hardwood cuttings of roses and other deciduous ornamental shrubs. Tie in ‘whippy’ shoots on climbing plants to prevent weather damage. Replenish gravel around alpine plants. Plant summer flowering lily bulbs. Sow sweet peas in deep pots. Rake up dead leaves from the lawn and put in plastic bags to make leaf mold (make holes in the bags and water before tying up). Scarify lawns with a rake, a fork or scarifying roller to remove thatch and moss, then spike with a fork and apply a lawn dressing. Winter prune apple and pear trees, and grapevines after they have shed their leaves. Plant raspberry canes and blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes. Check that tree stakes are firm and that ties are not too tight around developing trunks. Any trees or shrubs that need moving can be done now whilst the soil is still warm. Remove fallen leaves and debris from flower beds to prevent blackspot and other fungal diseases over winter. Clear ponds of fallen leaves and remove any dead marginal plants. Cover cabbages and other brassicas to stop hungry pigeons feasting on them. Continue to sow broad beans and garlic. Check stored fruit for rot and discard any that are damaged. Harvest leeks, parsnips and Brussels sprouts. Cut evergreen hedges and clear the spaces beneath of weeds and debris. Clean out bird feeders and bird boxes to help prevent the spread of disease and ensure a continuous supply of food for the birds from now on.

Now the evenings are drawing in make the most of the opportunities to get out into the garden. A warm jacket on, hot soup or tea in hand and take some benefit from the fresh air, even if it’s just sitting and enjoying the view.

Greenfingers The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 21

79380 La Forêt-sur-Sèvre

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Say Bonjour to Molly! She loves to play and is very affectionate. She was born to a semi-feral mum in the garden, hidden away in a barn. Now they are in the house and completely civilised. Molly has been vaccinated, chipped and given preventive treatment for parasites. To meet Molly please contact Louise James on tel: 05 53 88 84 37 or email: Molly is in 47 Loubes Bernac, 30 minutes from Bergerac.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 23

Where We Live... ‘It simply wasn’t our time to die’


“We struggled through the recession of the Nineties, outgrew the flat but couldn't sell it, so rented it out while we rented a friend's house,” says Julie. “We lost possession of our flat in 1995. But over the next five years our careers exploded and our financial situation changed accordingly. Simon had a crew working for him all over the country, while I was a systems programmer/analyst climbing the IT ladder to project manager. “Yuppies (Young, Upwardly mobile Professionals). DINKies (Dual Income No Kids). We were all of those. Detached three-bedroomed bungalow, flash car and new works van with personalised plates, the five holidays a year. We had the lot. We played hard and worked hard. Looking back, we were materialistic and career-motivated, but that seemed to be what life was all about. We had loads of friends who liked to party with us. We'd chosen not to have children, which is sometimes the thing that gives you the work/life balance that you need. But we were happy and life was good.” Then, in late 2002, Simon's father was diagnosed with cancer and died within 12 weeks. Just 20 weeks later, his mother died of a broken heart. “I was left with an enormous hole in my life that absolutely nothing could fill,” says Simon. “I had all that vulnerability and anger you feel when you no longer have a parent figure. And I was only 34 years old.”



ourteen years ago, on Boxing Day 2004, the deadliest tsunami on record wrought destruction across the Indian Ocean, leaving more than 220,000 dead within hours. Simon and Julie Tee left their hotel on the Thai island of Phuket just nine minutes before the massive wave struck. They survived the devastation. It was an event that was to change their lives...

“The nightmares came soon after,” says Julie. “Nightmares about being bombed, drowning, waking up in a strange place searching for each other, the thoughts of how it could have been. It simply wasn't our time to die. But the clues had been there...”

“Simon had lost all interest in his work as it was his father who got him into tiling,” says Julie, “and in the meantime the IT department I was working for was outsourced so that started another round of off-shoring work and a redundancy programme. Understandably, we had a lousy Christmas 2003, so for 2004 we chose to spend Christmas and New Year in Thailand, away from all the reminders about family that Christmas creates.” There then followed the next and most major happening in their lives... “What was to come from that holiday was life-defining for us,” reflects Julie. “Looking back now, we see indications that fate, or spirit, or the universe, or whatever you choose to believe in, was taking a hand in things.” Julie had scoured the internet and chosen and pre-booked all their Thai hotels and internal flights before they went, but she had struggled to find a hotel for Christmas Day and Boxing Day and ended up settling for somewhere she was less than 100% about. “We started our holiday in Nai Yang, in northern Phuket, in a simple hotel on a quiet beach with simple 'shack' bar/restaurants on the beach. We

© Wikimedia Commons/Michael L.Bak

Julie and Simon met in 1987. She was an office administrator, a gymnastics teacher running Saturday morning gymnastic clubs with her father and also acting as a cheerleader for the Worthing Bears basketball team, in Sussex. Simon was a ceramic tiler and mad-keen fisherman. They bought a flat together a year later and were married in 1989, when Julie was 22 and Simon 20.

That was probably the first pivotal moment in the young couple's lives...

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by Mick Austin

Left: Julie (centre), cheerleader for the Worthing Bears basketball team. Middle: Simon and Julie on their wedding day in 1989. Right: Sadie and Stella, the boxers.

had three fabulous days there and made friends with some of the locals, the hotel owner and the family that ran the little restaurant across the road. “Then, on December 23, we headed to our next hotel, which was in Kata Beach, in the south-west of the island. Urgh! A new hotel was being built right outside our bedroom window. We were constantly accosted by British reps trying to get us to go to timeshare presentations. We had a poor lunch on a packed beach in a busy restaurant belonging to a 'concrete' hotel. When we got back to our room for a quiet drink and some reflection, the builders next door had taken advantage of the cooler temperature to restart work. That was the final straw. We accepted that not all the hotels would be as perfect as the first one – after all, we were having three weeks across various resorts – but this was for Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day, after all.” The couple called the hotel in Nai Yang they had just left and managed to secure a room for the next couple of days. They had a leisurely Christmas Eve day on their favourite beach and chose a Boxing Day excursion that would be a day to remember: Elephant trekking, sea kayaking and a visit to the Monkey Temple. “Christmas Day was absolutely fantastic,” says Julie. “Simon woke early in the morning and went for a walk alone on the deserted beach, a peaceful time to think of his parents. We ate our favourite Thai dishes with our feet in the sand and not a slice of turkey in sight. Sadly, the memories of what was to happen the next day overshadow what we consider to have been our very best Christmas Day together.” Boxing Day morning, December 26, 2004. “Off we went in our rackety little bus with a group of other tourists from local hotels,” says Simon. “We elephant trekked (Julie's favourite lifetime experience, although we now understand the horrible conditions these animals live in) and were then looking forward to some sea kayaking when we were told that part of the excursion was off because 'there has been a big wave' and we would be going straight to the Monkey Temple instead. “Julie texted her parents to say if they heard about the big wave in Phuket not to worry, we were OK. While we were at the temple, all the coach and taxi drivers were just sitting listening to their radios. The holiday rep then said we would be going back to where we had been elephant trekking and take things from there. There was a TV there and it was only then we realised the enormity of that 'big wave'. We sat for hours, with three coach-loads of tourists, watching the Thai news over and over, not fully understanding what was being said but seeing the terrible images and the number of deaths increasing all the time. “Only a few people had mobile phones with them so we passed ours around, telling people to contact someone to let them know they were OK. Some did, but many didn't have contact numbers with them. We were getting texts from friends and work colleagues who had seen the news and knew we were in Thailand. When we eventually got back to the UK we asked our phone provider to waive the charges for Boxing Day and the 27th and they actually wiped out the whole bill!”

The holiday reps weren't happy about the holidaymakers returning to the south of the island as there was the risk of another wave, so they spent the night at the trekking centre. The staff and their friends and family arrived and cooked the tourists some food and late in the night everyone was taken to an empty house, owned by one of the reps, as they thought it would be more comfortable and they would be better able to sleep. “We had discussed whether we would continue our holiday if we could,” says Julie. “We had already booked – and missed – an internal flight to Koi Samui for the morning of the 27th. We agreed that if our daily medication was still intact at our hotel, we would do what we could to stay on.” The following day, coaches were laid on to take the tourists back to all the resorts to try and collect their belongings, with the aim of returning to the mountains for a day or so. Julie and Simon's was the first resort, in the north, then the coach would be heading south. “The coach dropped us off as close as possible to our hotel, considering the road was covered in all kinds of debris,” says Julie, “and the hotel manager was there to greet us with our passports. We ran into all the locals we had made friends with over the previous few days. The family from our favourite bar were in their truck, filled with bits of patio furniture they had managed to recover, and they asked us if they could take us anywhere or help us in any way. The Thai people are wonderful. We told them we were OK and what the plans were with our coach party. “When we got to our room, we saw a motorbike stuck up a tree outside and large loudspeakers from beachfront bars were against the wall. Amazingly, our room door was still locked. The bottom part of the door had folded in from the pressure of the water, so Simon had to kick the door in. There was a tide mark on the walls around the room, around four feet high, where the water had sat. The bed was still pristinewhite where it had floated. At some point it had landed in front of the wardrobe and stopped it from falling over, which was handy as our rucksacks were on top of the wardrobe.” The couple found their medication safe and dry, hanging in their toilet bags on the shower rail. They quickly packed all they could get their hands on – much of it ringing-wet and covered in mud – and grabbed some water from the fridge. Julie had the dry pack and Simon the heavy one with all the wet gear. They then ran back to where the coach had been... only to find it had left without them! “Thankfully, the lovely Thai family from the restaurant were still nearby and they offered to take us to the airport,” says Simon. “They told us noone was missing from their resort and we had seen that the destruction was not too bad. These people were used to the monsoons destroying their ramshackle beach cafés and they rebuilt them every year. When they dropped us at the airport they wouldn't take any money, only the drinking water we'd salvaged from the hotel fridge.” “The scene at Phuket airport affected us a lot,” remembers Julie. “There were literally thousands of people in this tiny little airport. Some were The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 25

...A look at what makes France so special dressed only in the bright holiday T-shirts they stood up in. They'd lost everything else. Many wore bandages. Some were bleeding. Hundreds were crying into mobile phones. Everyone was trying to get away. Some, hoping to get out of Thailand altogether, would have a long wait.”

found tenants for their bungalow, put all their stuff in storage and went travelling to discover where and what they wanted... along with Sadie and Stella, the boxers.

The Tees managed to get a flight to Koi Samui later that evening to continue their holiday, arriving filthy in the clothes they had left their hotel in on Boxing Day morning for the elephant trekking. That wonderful day seemed almost a lifetime away.

For the next four years, they travelled through much of the UK, through France and down to southern Spain, where Julie's parents were, and back again. The nomadic life led them to working in campsites during the summer and travelling in the winter. “It always made us laugh to think of the high-pressure lives we'd left – Simon's tiling business and my corporate career and the big wages that went with them – while we were cleaning campsite toilets!

“We carried on with our holiday, but not as planned,” says Julie. “We were meant to have gone to our favourite island, Koh Phi Phi, but it had been practically destroyed. The locals in our Koi Samui resort nicknamed us 'The Tsunami Survivors' and asked us to buy goods from them to bring them luck. “The nightmares came soon after that. The memory of the day before the tsunami, when Simon had strolled along that beach alone, leaving me in the hotel room. How it all could have turned out so differently. If we had stayed in the south of the island it would most certainly have been different. The destruction and loss of life was much greater there because of the concrete jungle the place has become. “But it simply wasn't our time to die. The clues had been there... trying to book the hotel, deciding not to stay in the south for Christmas, choosing the trip for Boxing Day. We know now we had actually left our hotel just nine minutes before the tsunami wave hit it.” On January 9, 2005, the Tees boarded their flight back to the UK. Back to normality. But things had started to change. Careers, money and flash cars were no longer the be-all and end-all of their lives. Julie definitely had a shift in attitude at work, sitting in meetings watching corporate bullying and everyone who was under notice of redundancy doing very little while waiting for their chance to get out. “I'd always been a planner and something of a control freak. Our Thailand experience had been a very big reality check. No matter what plans you make, there's no guarantee you'll be here to see them through. Ever heard the phrase 'Man plans, God laughs' ?” Julie and Simon had always wanted a dog, so two boxer puppies were added to the family. It helped Simon fill the void from the loss of his parents and was probably the next pivotal happening in their lives. Having the dogs meant they ditched the long-haul holidays and stayed closer to home with the dogs. Julie heard she was one of the management team her company wanted to keep on, but the sale of Simon's parents' house meant she could leave and do something else. She started working in an administration role for a charity helping the elderly. That closed that chapter of her life. One Christmas spent at Loch Ness they began developing ideas for their future. They didn't know what they wanted, but they knew what they didn't want – to stay in Worthing doing what they were doing. So, after buying a motorhome and having a few practice holidays in it, they

“But we absolutely loved it. We looked at buying a campsite in the UK but were basically laughed out of the franchise office because of our lack of funds. Then we thought of France. We loved France. Every time we came here in our motorhome it felt like home.” Their last UK campsite contract was in 2011. A 14-acre field which they completely managed, from grass-cutting to tree-felling, pitching 150 caravans, tents and motorhomes every weekend and everything in between. They were later to realise what great training that would be for the next chapter in their lives. “We sold our bungalow in June that year and worked the remainder of our contract with constant grins on our faces, thanks to the bank balance,” says Simon. In October 2011, the Tees were in France on the hunt for a campsite. It had to have either fishing lakes (preferable) or a stretch of river for fishing. They didn't want gîtes because there are so many of them in France and competition can be tough. However, they were finally persuaded to look at a gîte complex in Secondigny, in the Deux-Sèvres, but only because it had two lakes. The gîtes were occupied and locked and the grounds were in a sorry state, but they both fell in love with the place, even before getting a peek inside the gîtes. “In January 2012, we finally stopped our travels and had a home again,” says Julie. “Well, sort of. We live in the smaller of the two gîtes during the winter months and in our caravan (which replaced the motorhome) for the rest of the year, so both gîtes can be rented out for summer and it still satisfies our camping bug. The larger gîte is available all year – anglers don't mind fishing in the cold or the rain!” “What we really love about our French life is that we have the opportunity to spend time with people without putting a price on it,” says Simon. “I spend a great deal of time with our guests, helping them to catch fish. I could charge for that, but I don't. I do it because I love it and the guests love it, too. That's what brings them back. We don't put a price on the time spent chatting to guests, making their restaurant reservations, arranging and sometimes even going with them to a vet

Left: Simon, the night after the tsunami. Right: Simon and Julies’ beloved motorhome, which was home for four years.

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La Germondière near Secondigny. Simon and Julies’ gîte complex and fishing lakes.

before they go back to the UK, or just sharing our knowledge of the area. Time is precious and to give it freely is a real pleasure. After all, we are so fortunate to be here. Not just in France, but alive!” Alongside the gîte business (, Simon still does some ceramic tiling and has recently tiled the floor of troglodyte caves at a new meditation retreat in Lerne, north of Thouars. Julie, meanwhile, is a freelance administrator, helping people with all sorts of English admin. Her clients include bars and restaurants, holistic therapists, writers, gîte owners and... the Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine! “Our guests often ask us if we'd ever leave France and what would we do next,” says Simon. “Well, for now we'll keep doing what we're doing – living each day feeling thankful and as if it is our last, because one day it will be. We intend to stay here at La Germondière until the work becomes too much for us, which hopefully won't be too soon. But never say never. As we've already said: Man plans (or Julie in this instance), God laughs.” Mick Austin is an award-winning freelance journalist based in the Paysde-la-Loire. He has had his work published in several expat magazines and newspapers and has also written the Mayenne Tourist Board’s only English language brochure. He runs a gîte business at

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 27

Communications Using Smartphones,Tablets and Laptops Safely


by Ross Hendry

ince I last wrote about using your PC safely (February 2014) the growth of tablet and mobile telephones has increased significantly. Now over 62% of the population use a tablet and as of 2016, four out of five UK adults have a Smartphone and/or tablet. That is over 37 million!

The condition is increasing among young people and adults. It is common for law students to graduate with greater myopia than they had when they first enrolled. It’s a casualty of the profession, because they spend most of their waking hours reading, often on a screen.

The average time spent online is nearly five hours per day. Not all of this will be on portable devices, but it may still be detrimental to your health.

Your arms suffer mainly from holding or supporting the device, this will normally aggravate the forearm, whilst wrists get their problems from typing.

The problems associated to your health

Tablets and mobiles have smaller screens which makes typing far more difficult. Finding the characters and accurately typing necessitate the extension and bending of the wrists as well as raising the hands. If the device is angled up to help the neck etc. it places much more strain on the wrists and forearms.

Tablets and mobile phones are used for a variety of activities but in different locations and with different physicality from traditional PCs. This can cause neck and wrist discomfort, as well as muscle fatigue and even possible damage to your eyesight! When you hold a mobile device it creates unnatural posture and muscle fatigue. If you do not use a case or stand, you hold the device with one hand whilst the other interacts with the device; normally, you will prop or support the device on your legs, lap or a table. Reading a mobile involves holding the device with both hands, whilst the thumbs interact, creating fatigue in the hands and arms. When typing on a mobile device it is usually resting on a table, stand or lap. Typically this is used for light tasks such as emailing, updating a calendar or viewing documents and texting. Most people cannot tolerate extensive typing on mobiles because of the discomfort. Holding them higher is more comfortable for the neck but this places a greater load on the arms, leading to fatigue. In 2014 a study by Surgical Technology International found that looking down at a mobile device, at 60°, is the equivalent of placing a 27kg weight on the neck - think of hanging four bowling balls from the neck and looking down at a mobile! The strain increases with the downward angle. Thus, 15° is 12.25kg, 30° is 18kg and 45° is 22.2kg, very tiring. Quite simply, the location and downward angle of the mobile device determines the amount of head, neck and shoulder pain. Putting the device on a table or your lap bends your neck well beyond recommended limits. Additionally, strain is placed on the eyes because they have to work harder to hold their position. Considerable research is being done to find out if extensive close up viewing of mobiles is causing myopia, especially in younger children. Sixty years ago, only 10 to 20% of the Chinese population was nearsighted. According to research, today 90% of children leaving school have myopia.

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So what can you do to resolve these issues? The best solution is to raise the device. Do this with a stand or case that will hold it in the correct position. Avoid using the tablet on your lap because your posture follows vision. Invest in an external keyboard and decent stand; I have just found a tablet keyboard for my wife’s ipad for just under £20 (including delivery) android versions are available for even less. Using a support/stand you may elevate the device so that you are not straining your neck, back and shoulders. Placing the screen at the correct height so as not to be looking down. Using the keyboard in a position that you hands naturally fall on it, for most of us that is about six inches above your thighs when you are sitting correctly. Ideally, the screen should be eye level when you are upright, either sitting or standing, and should be no closer than your typical PC screen is when you are sitting at your desk. Sitting correctly is quite straightforward. Your chair should have good lumbar support and whilst sitting, your feet should fall naturally to the ground and be either flat or the toes slightly higher than the ankles, whichever is more comfortable; and your thighs and hands should be parallel to the ground, back perpendicular; the top of the screen should be at eye level.

Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 43 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (see advert below).

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

05 49 64 59 96

French State health insurance 08 11 36 36 46 advice line Elizabeth Finn Care (Grants 04 68 23 43 79 and advice if in Financial need) Orange helpline 09 69 36 39 00 Funeral Information (AFIF) Passport Advice

01 45 44 90 03 or 0044 300 222 0000

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 29


Food & Drink Winter Warmers

he days of enjoying a summer salad al fresco are but a distant memory. As the nights draw in and the log burner is cranked up to maximum, we hanker for something to warm us up as we return home from a day of braving the elements. This month’s offering is four soups which are delicious, easy to make and just the thing to lift your spirits and warm your extremities.

Camembert Soup




Ingredients: 1 whole Camembert cheese (250g cut into small chunks) 1 shallot 1 clove of garlic 2 tbsps butter 2 tbsps plain flour 100ml white wine 800ml chicken/vegetable stock Salt and black pepper to taste Small bunch of thyme Method: Finely chop the shallot and peeled garlic clove. Add to melted butter and cook on a gentle heat until translucent. Add the flour, mix, pour in the stock and white wine, bring to boil then simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Blitz until smooth then add the cheese and stir into the soup until melted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped thyme and serve.

Seafood Soup



Ingredients: 1 pumpkin, or butternut squash (approximately 1Kg) Olive oil 4 whole cloves of garlic 1 handful of pumpkin seeds 1 large onion, thinly sliced Large knob of butter 1 litre vegetable stock 100ml Greek yogurt or whipping cream Salt and ground black pepper Method: Cut the pumpkin into large sections and roast along with the garlic cloves and pumpkin seeds for 30-40 minutes at 180°C. Once cool enough, scoop out the flesh of the pumpkin and add it to a pan of vegetable stock. Put the pumpkin seeds to one side. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves from their skin, add to the pan and bring to the boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Blend until smooth. Melt the butter and cook the onions and pumpkin seeds for around 10 minutes until the onions are caramelised. Serve the soup topped with the onions, pumpkin seeds and a generous dollop of yogurt or cream.



Ingredients: 2 tbsps olive oil 2 red onions, chopped 3 cloves garlic, chopped 1 bulb of fennel, chopped A small bunch of fresh thyme or a tsp of dried 2 bay leaves 5 large tomatoes, chopped 800ml fish stock 2 tbsps of Cognac Pinch of saffron (optional) 500g frozen seafood mix Pinch of salt Pinch ground black pepper 4 tbsps of cream Method: Finely chop the onions, garlic and fennel and add to a large pan with the oil, thyme and bay leaves. Cook on a gentle heat for about 10 minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and Cognac, turn up the heat a little and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the remaining ingredients (except the cream) to the pan, bring to the boil and simmer for about 45 minutes. Remove the bay leaves, add the cream and blitz until smooth. Garnish with the fennel tops and a drizzle of cream.

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Roasted Pumpkin Soup

Courgette and Bacon Soup



Ingredients: 1 large courgette or 2 medium courgettes 400g of bacon lardons or sliced rashers 1 onion, chopped 800ml chicken/vegetable stock Salt and pepper

Method: If you are using a large courgette, deseed and scoop out the soft middle, then roughly chop. Gently fry the onion and half of the bacon lardons in a large saucepan until the onion becomes translucent and the bacon starts to brown. Add the chopped courgette and stock to the pan. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 45 minutes. Blitz the soup and add salt and pepper to taste. Fry the remaining bacon bits and use to garnish individual bowls of soup. Serve with crusty bread.

The Life and Times of a Wine Tour Operative


o I’m sitting on my bed in the smallest hotel room I have ever been in. I can stretch my arms and touch both walls, and I’m not a big guy. Four paces from door to window. Somehow they fit in a ‘bathroom’ where you can s**t, shower, shave and clean your teeth at the same time if you’re sufficiently dexterous. Oh, and a bed. And a desk from a dolls house. But it’s clean, it’s impossible to lose anything as there’s nowhere to lose it, the breakfast coffee and croissants are above average, and the young staff are super cool in a Lyon way. For this is indeed Lyon and I am nearing the end of a wine trip with Elaine and David from New York State. They last did a trip with me in 2012 (Loire and Bordeaux) and decided to come back for more punishment, this time covering Burgundy and the Northern Rhone. They started as clients and have become friends – wine can have a weird and wonderful effect on personal relations. You might have noticed. Anyway, as I have been writing these articles for ‘The DSM’ since issue #2 and signing off as ‘French Wine Tours’, I thought it might be interesting for you to know what a wine tour actually entails. A more than average interest in French wine is pretty much a given, although I did once have an enquiry where one of the group was allergic to wine. Perhaps they liked the look of the pretty bottles, I never got to find out. It happens. Where, when, and for how long then raise their heads. These are all based on the clients’ preferences and limitations: I don’t shoehorn people into pre-arranged packages, although I do point out, diplomatically, logistical impossibilities (a day in Champagne followed by a half day in Bordeaux? No.) I then get into planning mode and set up an itinerary, with accommodation and private vineyard visits. Other requirements are taken into account – a couple who are coming out in October 2019 (yes, some folks do plan that far ahead) are interested in a cooking course and Roman monuments so those will be dovetailed into the overall plan. There is an amount of toing and froing by email and perhaps the odd Skype call, all to ensure that the clients get what they want. Tailor-made really does mean tailor-made. Back to Elaine and David. Day one: I meet them in Paris Gare du Nord and we taxi over to Gare de Lyon for our train to Dijon. I’m using trains more and more to get from A to B and only going on four wheels within the particular wine region. This is comfortable, kinder to the planet, and gives a good opportunity for a get-to-know-you, or, in the present case, find out what’s been happening over the last six years. At Dijon we pick up the rental car and hit the ground running with two vineyard visits before they even check in at their accommodation in Beaune. They’re not into big, bland hotels so I’ve chosen a neat apartment for them on Place Carnot, right in the centre of the old town, perfect for the four

by John Sherwin

nights they’re going to spend in this historic town in the middle of the Burgundian Cote d’Or. I’m off to the servants’ quarters on the edge of town with some vaguely remembered Springsteen number running through my head.

I don’t have the space to give a blow by blow account of the eight days we spent together, but here are just a few highlights to give you a taste of the whole experience. Biking day! I’ve been working for some time now with a small company in Beaune who hire out bikes for the day. A great opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the finest vineyards in the world. It’s Saturday, market day in Beaune, and Elaine has decided to give biking a miss citing a dicky knee. She heads off purposefully towards the shops with hardly a hobble… The biking south of Beaune is fairly easy and David and I breeze through Pommard, Volnay, lunch in Meursault, visit and taste at the Château de Meursault, a quick detour to Puligny-Montrachet, then back home. A fifteen-mile round trip that leaves both of us beaming at the memory of the countryside we have explored, and only a little bit sweaty. Or how about vertical tasting day? As luck would have it, Maison Joseph Drouhin, one of the best producers in Beaune, are having a oneoff tasting of 12 vintages of their Chassagne-Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot Marquis de Laguiche. Quite a mouthful before you’ve even opened the bottles, but once you start the serious business of swirling and sniffing and spitting (OK, occasionally swallowing) you really begin to understand the influence of a year’s weather on any particular vintage. Forget trying to find fancy words – this here is 2003 (or another year) in a bottle: close your eyes and value the past in the here and now. They’re so, so different but essentially the same. A bit like nations and people except wines don’t go to war. An audience with Audrey Braccini? Why not. Audrey is one of the finest winemakers (heck, my Gran always said I should tell the truth – the finest winemaker) in the Pouilly-Fuissé area of the Côte Mâconnaise. This is her 10th year in charge at Domaine J A Ferret in the sleepy village of Fuissé. She speaks with passion of the history of the domaine, how its reputation was forged not by hairy-knuckled sons of the soil but by Colette Ferret who 50 years ago had ideas above her station and stuck with them. Then we taste the wines, plenty of them, and understand. Audrey explains with a smile and eyes eager that you should enjoy the fruits of the labour of man and the gift of Nature. So, just a taster of what you might expect from a FWT trip. In case you were worrying about the conditions of my accommodation, don’t. I was brought up on Orwell’s Down and Out in Paris and London and Kerouac’s On the Road. We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars.

John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or

John at Vidal-Fleury in the Rhône Valley

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 31

Gâteau Girls


by Jacqueline Brown

ell, all that talk about homemade yoghurt last month may have made me sound healthy and virtuous, but this month, to redress the balance, it’s been all about the cake (or cakes).

the Charente, where we hoped to sample the delights at Le Moulin. Sadly, it is closed on Wednesdays (we will return), but the boulangerie provided us with a palmier and a chocolate and almond creation, which we enjoyed with coffees at the Café Portebleue, before driving to nearby Nanteuil for a walk around the arboretum.

Life has been busy, so to offset the running around I’ve been doing, some good friends decided I needed a trip out and a treat. An afternoon tea with cake was planned and what a success it was. We all realised that a bit of girly chit-chat about nothing much at all, with a side order of cake, was just what we all needed, and Gâteau Girls was born.

Our next outing was to the HOPE shop in Sainte-Soline. A good bit of browsing was accompanied by a tasty almond and raspberry cake, a delicious slice of the ginger cake and a yummy piece of the pineapple and coconut cake.

I had been concerned that I’d lost my cake-making mojo and I even wondered if I’d grown out of cake – quelle horreur! The chickens are aging, so are not laying too many eggs, Ed is away, so I don’t need to bake just for me, and this year we had far less fruit in the orchard, meaning my go-to favourite fat-free cherry cake (works well with other fruit too) hasn’t been made very often. Thankfully, I am pleased to say that the first four outings of the Gâteau Girls has proved, without any doubt, that I haven’t lost my love of cake at all. Our first outing was to Gâteau in Tusson, just over the 79 border in the Charente. We enjoyed a sunny wander around the village, popped into the church and the pottery shop and then spent a relaxing hour or so in the gorgeous courtyard garden at the back of the cake and flower shop. My choice was a delicious myrtle cake with a deep, light sponge and a cream cheese topping, while the others enjoyed a spectacular dark chocolate and Guinness cake. The following week we ventured to Verteuil, again just into

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Then we upped our game and took tea and cake, with homemade chocolate tasting, at Château Ardilleaux, near Chef-Boutonne. I can thoroughly recommend the homemade chocolates and the ginger and walnut cake, but the chocolate and whisky cake, raspberry filled profiteroles and strawberry gâteau all went down well on our table too. Thanks ladies, you have no idea how good it’s been to get out and relax in your excellent company and indulge in some cake. I am now on the search for more gâteau serving venues for our future outings (all ideas welcome) and I can’t think of a better way to disperse the onset of the winter blues. Email:

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword

18. Single number (5) 19. A natural body of flowing water (6) 20. Respiratory disorder (6)

Across: 1. Breathe spasmodically and make a sound (6) Down: 4. An automatic instinctive 2. Jewish republic in south- unlearned reaction to a western Asia (6) stimulus (6) 3. Fictional character who was 8. Exercise to prepare for an hit on the head with an acorn event or competition (5) and believed that the sky was 9. Proof of purchase (7) falling (7-6) 10. Japanese technique claimed 5. The temperature below which to bring about healing (5) 11. The common European short- a liquid turns into a solid (8-5) 6. Sell or transfer abroad (6) winged hawk (7) 7. An annoying or frustrating or 12. Unable to meet financial catastrophic event (11) obligations (9) 13. King of Wessex from 802-839 15. Opposed to (7) 16. Addictive drug extracted from (6) 14. A city in north-east England poppy seeds (5) 17. The secret state police of Nazi (6) Germany (7) With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword Across 1. Finding love in a quick drink can bring about new growth. (5) 4. Group article replacing first person in story. (7) 8. Goes round since being disturbed over clear round, missing one article? (9) 9. Initially knowing it’s right to make an aperitif. (3) 10. There may be nothing in it, but limits of enquiry surround the resolution of premenstrual tension. (5) 11. En route to Riga, miss being carrier of Japanese art. (7) 13. A device to show film of game played in unconventional China port. (13) 15. Current PM very far-fetched on English/French region. (7) 16. French chip makeover? (5) 18. British not involved in battle With thanks to M.Morris drill. (3) 20. See primer applied in initial expositions. (9) 21. Transvestite not angry, introducing actor’s valet. (7) 22. Get more than needed tail- enders from incapable six caught after doosra. (5)

Brain Gym Warm up Q1. What has one head, one foot, and four legs? Q2. What stays in one corner but travels around the world? Q3. A son and engineer go fishing. The boy was the engineer’s son but the engineer wasn’t the boy’s dad. How was this possible? Q4. What walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at noon and three legs in the evening? Main Q5. Three brothers live on a farm. They agreed to buy new seeds: Pierre and Clement would go and Gaspard stayed to protect fields.

Down 1. Site of action reportedly observed? (5) 2. Being strangely coy about upset cup can mean you are staying in? (9) 3. Wait for lines on a perverted scoundrel? (5) 4. Fairy home left in a mess, but still picked up most of the prizes? (4, 2, 3, 4) 5. Ex-policeman following California fishing venture? (7) 6. Pressure taken off moderate socialist for writing material. (3) 7. Neither sorceress wasting time in East Anglia. (7) 12. After disorderly fray, it was quickest out of the gate. (4, 5) 13. Business has thousands on conjunction with order. (7) 14. These will suit me, but possibly stymy PE exercise? (2, 5) 16. Store in Edinburgh welcoming French queen. (5) 17. Girl writing article on tragic heroine. (5) 19. Find shelter hiding upside down in store elevator? (3)

Clement bought 75 sacks of wheat in the market whereas Pierre bought 45 sacks. At home, they split the sacks equally. Gaspard had paid 1400€ for his wheat. How many euros did Clement and Pierre get of the sum, considering equal split of the sacks? Q6. Can you work out the well known phrases or sayings? a.

2345 67890




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Answers on P.9 and our website:

Theme - Cinema terms

Motoring TWINGO !


hen Haley and I are on long road sections in the Land Rover, we play the Twingo game, which our family has played to while away the miles since my step-daughters were little. Basically, you have to spot the Twingos on your journey, but only the original first generation ones with the cute and characterful ‘froggie’ faces count, and for some colours you get ten points instead of just one! It can get very competitive and noisy with everyone shouting out their sightings! Recently I discovered that Twingo fans are called Twinguistes, who knew? And the Twingo name is a combination of the terms ‘Twist’, ‘Swing’ and ‘Tango’ and put the accent on the fun and active character of the car, according to Renault!

In August the Twingo celebrated its 25th birthday, and it turns out there are quite a few clubs for them around, confirming their popularity. Since its launch in 1993, the Twingo has been reincarnated in two further generations in 2007 and 2014, but I am going to concentrate here on the distinctive first generation, which were sold in more than 2.6 million units. The Twingo arrived on the European market in April 1993 but was never built in RHD (right hand drive) and never sold in the UK. Resembling a friendly frog with twinkling eyes for headlamps, it had instant appeal. It notched up 174,259 happy owners in just nine months of production! The concept was a replacement for Renaults popular Renault 4 and the idea was that it could be used as a mini van as well as a passenger car. To achieve this the rear seat featured a sliding mechanism, to enable either increased boot space or rear seat legroom. The car launched with only one trim level, one engine option and four exterior colours: coral red, Indian yellow, coriander green and overseas blue, but special editions with weird and wonderful colours soon followed as the model was restyled.

10 point colour!

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by Helen Tait-Wright

The single 1.2 litre engine option however remained throughout production of the first generation car. It was a cheap and cheerful (in the most literal sense of the phrase) way of getting from A to B, especially considering it started at just 55,000 Francs which was equivalent to £6553 in 1993, or £12,450 today. Performance was lacking however, as the car never once broke the 100mph barrier. Designed under the guidance of Renault’s daring (some might say too daring) head of design, Patrick le Quement, the original firstgeneration Twingo seemed to be in pole position to reshape the city cars we drive in the early 21st Century. Except it didn’t, as no other small hatchback maker followed the Twingo’s appealing one-box styling and clever packaging cues. So what makes these little cars so enduringly popular? The tiny one-box Twingo is a modern hatch suited perfectly for the modern urban jungle; small, agile, versatile and displaying huge dollops of city chic and character. Although compact, there is enough room for four adults, and it is user friendly and easy to park, making it an ideal town car, and also popular as a first car. Today it is also cheap to buy and distinctive; undoubtedly heading for future cult status. It also seems to be a model that attracts mad modifications. While looking at the event page for the 25th celebrations in France, I discovered there is a Twingo Jet - yes that really is a thing! You have to wonder what the creator was taking when he dreamt up putting a ‘Marbore II’ engine from a Fouga Magister Jet, which develops 2,200hp, into a Twingo! Cures the lack of performance problem though, as this hits a maximum speed of 300km/h. Do look it up on Google because it is pretty absurd. While I don’t suggest you start building your own jet powered Twingo in your garage, it could well be that a cheeky purchase now could see you with an appreciating asset in a few years time. And, it keeps our game alive !!!! TWINGO!

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Building & Renovation

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Business & Finance Marketing Matters

• by Cindy Mobey

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?


ikipedia tells us that ‘SEO is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results – often referred to as ‘natural’, ‘organic’ or ‘earned’ results’. If you manage or promote any online content, such as a website or blog, then it’s important to know about Search Engine Optimization. In simple terms, this is how your content gets recognised and found by search engines, such as Google or Bing.

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes – if you were looking for your services, what would you search for? Make a note of three or four things you’d type in – ask your friends and family what they’d search for and make a note of those too. The chances are some will be the same or similar and you’ll quickly see which words or phrases are most likely to be searched for. Type those phrases into a search engine and find out where your website comes in the results. If you can’t find it after ten pages, no one else will either. If you can, note down other sites that come up on the first page of each query/keyword or phrase. Are they similar to your business? Are they competitors? Are they local to you or national businesses? Now it’s time to pick your top keywords/phrase. Be realistic about these words as some will be very competitive and there will be loads of other businesses using the same keywords/phrases to keep their website at the top. Next, ensure your homepage contains those keywords/ phrases. For small businesses who generally have one main page, add a couple of sentences that naturally describes what you do and weave in those keywords or phrase, but make sure it still makes sense. You don’t want an overload of keywords which don’t mean anything to your customers. If you have a blog, weave your keywords into each article as best you can – don’t overdo it! Use your social media sites to promote your blog article or new page on your website. Use images with labels or tags which include your keywords where possible.

How will I know if I can be found? That’s easy, simply type in your business name or your website URL into google search and see what comes up. If your website or links to your business show in the results, you are in their index.

What if nothing shows? If the results don’t find you, then your site is not in their index. Google crawls billions of pages so it can miss a site, but if nothing shows it’s often because you’ve either just launched your website; your design is too complicated to crawl content easily; your site isn’t well connected to other sites on the web.

Finally and most importantly - don’t get consumed with SEO! Although it’s important you get your website recognised on search engines, don’t let SEO overtake everything you do, so that your content becomes just a bunch of words. You must be human and approachable; your website/articles/blogs still need to speak to your customers and engage them. Have fun with your website and remember that getting recognised on search engines takes time. Enjoy!

How to get your site on Google and Bing It’s free and very easy to register your business and be included in search engines. • For Google, go to answer/6259634?hl=en and follow the step by step instructions. • For Bing, go to and follow the step by step instructions. How to rank higher on search engines The next step is to make sure you have good keywords/phrases in place on your website.

Please feel free to contact me if you want more information about SEO.

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


Simply register on our website:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 41

Ask Amanda


emember, remember to plan in November.

Autumn is well and truly upon us, although the continued sunshine through September and into October has been absolutely lovely. I find that November is a great time to plan ahead, to give me a head start into the new year. We all know that once 1st December arrives, our thoughts will turn towards the festive season and the new year. So, with this in mind here are several things you may wish to plan during November: 1. If you are not already registered to attend our November Le Tour de Finance at Gratien and Meyer, you’re not too late to secure a seat for this excellent event (see below). Contact: 2. Put a date in your diary for a first quarter 2019 financial review. Knowing how your finances are performing and ensuring that they are the most tax efficient for you is a great way to put your mind at rest for the remainder of the year. 3. Review your 2018 goals and objectives with a view to achieving continued success in the next year. Finally have a great end to the year and enjoy the Joie de vivre we all came to France to experience.

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

by Amanda Johnson

Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below and I will be glad to help. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail: The Spectrum IFA Group is fully regulated to offer financial advice in France and we do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

Time may be limited for Tax-Free Pension Transfers W e are often asked what will happen to UK pension rules for expatriates after Brexit and the reality is that no one knows for certain – including the British government.

Reassuringly, the UK’s minister for pensions and financial inclusion has confirmed that expatriates will keep the right to make pension transfers within the EU, whatever happens with Brexit. However, another government figure has admitted that the tax treatment of overseas transfers could potentially change. The current situation Today, residents in France are not taxed when transferring UK pension funds to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) located in an EU/EEA (European Economic Area) country, such as Malta. But transfers outside of the bloc have been subject to a 25% UK ‘overseas tax charge’ since March 2017 (unless you live in the same jurisdiction as the QROPS). Once the UK loses its obligation to maintain freedom of movement for capital within the EU, the Treasury gains more freedom to tax UK nationals living in Europe. As such, many spectators expect the overseas tax charge could extend to capture transfers within the EU/ EEA post-Brexit. According to economic secretary to the Treasury, John Glen, “whether or not these transfers will be exempt… once the UK leaves the EU is dependent upon the terms of future exit agreement between the UK Government and the EU.”

by Bradley Warden, Blevins Franks

Without a guarantee that tax-free transfers will continue beyond 29th March 2019, it is sensible for anyone considering transferring to act sooner rather than later - especially as the transfer process can take several months to complete. QROPS benefits Transferring to a QROPS can consolidate several UK pensions under one tax-efficient roof, sheltering funds from UK taxation and future changes to pension rules. QROPS usually provide greater investment diversification, estate planning flexibility and more freedom to vary income than UK pension schemes, including the option to hold and draw your funds in your currency of choice. Funds transferred to a QROPS will also avoid the risk of a no-deal Brexit ‘cliff-edge’, in which some UK personal pension providers could lose the legal right to pay benefits to expatriates. However, transferring will not suit everyone and differences between QROPS providers and jurisdictions could affect the tax benefits. Alternative investment structures could offer expatriates in France comparable benefits to QROPS, so take personalised, regulated advice to establish the most suitable approach for you. Even if transferring is not right for you, with so much uncertainty ahead, now is the time to review your pension arrangements to secure the retirement of your choice in France, whatever Brexit brings. Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

Brexit and pension transfers. A window of opportunity? Last year the UK began to impose a 25% tax on transfers to overseas pension schemes, including QROPS. This currently excludes individuals and QROPS where both are resident in a European Economic Area (including Gibraltar) country, but who knows what will happen after Brexit? If you wish to move your pension overseas, it may be better to do so now, under known rules, rather than wait and see what happens. Pension transfers can take months, so don’t risk leaving it too late.

Talk to the people who know

05 49 75 07 24


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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 43

Investment Socially Responsible: ISR


f like me, you have a keen sense of ecological and social responsibility in this world and also like to make money without feeling guilty, then Allianz has created a new product for us! This ISR (Investment Socially Responsible), created last July, is aimed to trade only in funds that include shares and bonds from companies that comply to ISR standards such as ecology, social equality, respect of staff, anti-corruption, etc. 1) What type of investment? It is invested inside an assurance saving account. So it has all the same advantages of any normal Assurance Vie, which are inheritance tax (extra allowance on top of normal allowance) and income tax benefits (some amounts tax free after eight years). The ISR has to follow criteria based on 3 factors - ESG: •

Ecology: Management of waste, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and prevention of environmental risk.

Social: Prevention of accident, training of employees and equality of chances, respect of employees’ rights and social dialogue and respect of the subcontracting chain.

Governance: Independence of the board of directors, quality of the governance of the company, remuneration of directors, and corruption avoidance.

2) How is it invested? You can choose between two types of investment. One is called CAP Equilibre Responsable and carries a moderate risk factor: 65% is low to medium risk, 25% is high risk and 10% is completely secured (see below):

The other one is called CAP Dynamique Responsable and carries a higher risk factor: 48% is high risk, 45% is low to medium risk and 7% is completely secured (see below):

by Isabelle Want

3) Fees: Like any Assurance Vie, there are entry fees to set it up. These fees depend on the amount you invest. See below: Amount deposited

Entry fees



Between 30K and 50K


Between 50K and 100K



0% no fees

4) Hope of return: You might think that because you choose companies which invest more in people and resources than profit, you will get a lower return, but that might not be the case in the long run. For instance, a well-known, low-cost airline recently lost value on their shares due to industrial action, a prominent oil company too, after an explosion on their oil rig off the coast of Louisiana. Companies that look after their staff and their environment usually do well. Happy employees are more productive. I cannot tell you how the investment will perform in the future as I don’t have a crystal ball! However, some of the ISR funds already existed with Allianz and the one called Allianz Europe Equity Growth has made 13.95% in 2017 and +64.20% in the last five years. Note that performances of the past are no guarantees for the future. Conclusion: In this day and age of ‘war on plastic’ and CAP 21, we are all starting to look at how to reduce our impact on the planet, but why not look also at how we invest our money and who with. Allianz is a pioneer (being German) in waste management and ISR investment. We use the Assurance Vie savings accounts to pass on some money to future generations, so why not use it as well, to make sure the planet is still here for them.

Feel free to contact me if you would like any further information. And remember to check out our website for all my previous articles (‘practical information’) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook @Allianz Jaques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterps.

No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018

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

Email: Visit our website:


PLEASE NOTE: THERE WILL BE NO JANUARY 2019 ISSUE OF ‘THE DSM’ If you have New Year offers or events to promote, please be sure to send us the information in time for the December issue, deadline: 15th November. Businesses and events advertised in the December issue will benefit from the standard Facebook coverage during January. Online advertising will run as usual during January.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018 | 45

Make Your Own Christmas Tradition!

by Joanna Leggett


ach year at midnight on the 24th December, there’s an expectant hush. In France it’ll be marked by a pause in le Reveillon (the traditional midnight supper marking the formal start of Christmas proceedings). Oysters, foie gras and wonderful desserts are just part of this traditional family meal – highlight of the epicurean calendar! However, the Christmas season starts much earlier. Children may have already left out their shoes to be filled with gifts by Père Noël on St Nicholas Eve (5th December ), if not they’ll be sure to on Christmas Eve (busy chap making two visits!). Some families leave food and a candle burning in case Mary passes by with the Christ Child – a bit different from the mince pies and wee whisky my father suggested! Christmas markets really set the scene, they bring light, fun and build up anticipation for this great event. Where better to buy presents, treats and a sprig of mistletoe? And, should your new home be within walking distance, so much the better. Start your own tradition by inviting friends and neighbours over for a warming petit verre to celebrate the season after the market? Thouars has a fantastic weekly market, but Christmas is extra special. We’ve a great house here Santa would be happy to visit. Spacious and comfortable this pretty property (Leggett ref: 92571, photo left) with pink render and soft green shutters, captures the sun with wonderful views over the river below. Indeed it comes with 35m of river frontage! With four bedrooms and all mod cons, this cosy home sits in over an acre of garden. Best of all it is

within the medieval heart of the town. Just walk up ancient steps and lanes to the Christmas market and walk down afterwards to dispense bonhomie – 214 000€! When it comes to ancient quirky homes, then how about a three storey five bedroom house in Parthenay’s historic quarter? Comfortable and stylish with exposed beams, this medieval house (Leggett ref: 72744, photo right) is just a few steps from the city gate, museums and theatres. A leisurely walk from the Christmas market for any guests you invite round. Set over three levels, there are wonderful fireplaces, a great open plan kitchen and generous garden – 288 900€. Lastly, by no means least, is this pretty village house in the picturesque village of La MotheSaint-Héray (Leggett ref: 87264). Again, here you can easily walk to all amenities. Once the tanning mill for the village, this lovely property literally sits astride the River Niortaise in its own lovely garden. This well presented home has three bedrooms, two baths and a negotiable price of 137 340€. And now it’s time to wish you the compliments of the Season! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at


JUSCORPS €260,500 Ref: P00039 Attractive house, garden and pool. Edge of a village location.

Buying or selling?

FENERY €344,500 Ref: 92630 Renovated farmhouse with a pool. In an idyllic secluded rural setting.

4% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: C

Contact the ‘Best Estate Agency in France’

LABSIE €58,500 Ref: 93250 A little gem of a cottage with garden and garage. Close to amenities.

PAS DE JEAU €119,900 Ref: 92963 Pavilion style 4 bed house with stone outbuildings and large plot.

CHEF BOUTONNE €66,000 Ref: 92898 Stone house and hangar for complete renovation set in almost 1Ha.

NOIRTERRE €104,500 Ref: 93103 Substantial 6 bed family home with former hairdressing salon.

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: N/A

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

Agency fees included paid by the seller DPE: N/A

10% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: N/A

6% TTC agency fees included paid by the buyer DPE: N/A

Starting a new life in France? Want a new career? Leggett are always looking to recruit new sales agents. Call us for more info 00 800 2534 4388 or email: +33 05 53 60 84 88 46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2018