The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - August 2020

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English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas

SUMMER IS BACK SO ARE WE ! Gardening Movies and Books Crafts ... and lots more Lemon cake to Left-handers Vegetables to Vultures

Issue 108, August 2020

Welcome! to Issue 108 of

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

So The DSM is back. New faces at the helm but the same desire to offer information and entertainment that has been at its heart since the beginning. Determined to bounce back from COVID-19, from confinement and uncertainty and to return to as near normal service as is possible. When we moved to France about three years ago, it took us a little while to get used to the shops being shut at lunchtime and on Sundays. It took us some time to get used to shaking hands and/ or kissing cheeks whenever we met someone and we STILL have not worked out when “Bonjour” becomes “Bonsoir”. So much has changed over the last few months that it’s sometimes hard to remember just how things were before we’d ever heard of COVID-19. It may take us all a little while to get used to whatever the ‘new normal’ becomes, but we’ll get there. This issue, our first, would not have been possible without the support of a great many people but we cannot let our first introduction pass without saying a huge thank you to Anna and Steve Shaw for all they have done over the past two years but particularly all they have done over the past two months to help us get this magazine into your hands. The feedback we have had since the change of management was announced has been fantastic. For all your good wishes and offers of support, we thank you. We’ve been asked a few times what our plans for the magazine are. Over time, there will no doubt be some changes but it is our firm intention that this magazine will continue to provide the excellent service to the people of the Deux-Sèvres (and surrounding areas of course) that it always has. For those of you interested in who we are, check out the centre pages for a warts-and-all exposé (sort of). We hope that you enjoy this issue and wish all of you a safe and happy August.

Allons-y.... Tony & Lynne

Tel: 07 68 35 45 18 Email: Website:

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

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This Month’s Advertisers

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) Argentonnay Brasseur Autentico (Paint specialists) Bayleaf Books BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management BM Construction Château de Saugé Vintage Tea Room Chat-eau (Luxurious country cattery) Cherry Picker Hire (Tony Moat) Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Cindy Can Help Clean Sweep Chimney Services Cosmetic Contour Darren Lawrence Deux-Chèvres (Handyman) Escoval ExPatRadio Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Green and Tidy Gardening Services Hallmark Electricité Hiley Location HMJ (Renovation service) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon - the carpetman Keith Banks pool services KJ Painting and decorating La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Leggett Immobilier Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction Michael Moore (Electrician) Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) Mike Sweeney - Motorsport Engineering ML Computers Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Naturalis Pools Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Paul Starsmeare (Mechanic) Pause Cafe Summer Fayre Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Ross Hendry Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removal company Stephen Shaw Painter Steve Coupland (Plumbing and renovations) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Strictly Roofing Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Hope Association Val Assist (Translation Services) Vendée Chippy (Classified Ad) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini(Translation Services)

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© Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 2020. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 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 Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 32 Rue Andre Gastel, 79450,Saint-Aubin-Le-Cloud Tél: 07 68 35 45 18. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Anthony and Lynda Wigmore. Crédits photos: Anthony Wigmore, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: août 2020 - Tirage: En ligne seulement. Siret: 830 076 345 00016 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 3

What’s On... Things are changing day-by-day as we go to print. The information here is as accurate as we can get it but PLEASE check events have not been cancelled or altered before leaving the house.

01-30 ‘BRESSUIRE SINCE NAPOLÉON’ EXHIBITION Bressuire (79300). Free Entry. 2.30pm to 6.30pm daily. A stroll through the districts of Bressuire from the Napoléonic cadastre to the present day. A storytelling walk along the route of the old city walls will also be offered. 06 THE SECRET OF THE DRAGON Niort (79000). 6pm. 5-10€. Come save the city. Treasure hunt for older children. Booking recommended. +33 5 49 28 14 28 06 MARCHE DES PRODUCTEURS Airvault (79005). From 6pm. Free Entry. Great local food, outdoor seating. Do not forget your plates, cutlery and non-disposable glasses. Food, music and fireworks. No booking necessary. 07 MARCHE DES PRODUCTEURS Argenton-les-Vallées (79150). From 6pm. Free Entry. Great local food, outdoor seating. Do not forget your plates, cutlery and non-disposable glasses. Food, music and fireworks. No booking necessary. 07 JAZZ CONCERT Pamproux (79800). 8.30pm. +33 5 49 76 30 04 09 GRIMAUDIÈRE VIDE-GRENIER Le Grimaudière (86330). 16 SUMMER FAYRE L’Absie (790240). Café Pause. 10am to 5pm. Live music, fun and food. Free entry. 21 MARCHE DES PRODUCTEURS Bressuire (79300). From 6pm. Free Entry. Great local food, outdoor seating. Do not forget your plates, cutlery and non-disposable glasses. Food, music and fireworks. No booking necessary. 22 MARCHE DES PRODUCTEURS Le Tallud (79200). From 6pm. Free Entry. Great local food, outdoor seating. Do not forget your plates, cutlery and non-disposable glasses. Food, music and fireworks. No booking necessary. 22-29 FESTIVAL Thiré (85290) Combining beautiful gardens and baroque music. This festival brings together the singers and instrumentalists of the Arts Florissants, young artists from the Juilliard School in New York, as well as singers from the Jardin des Voix. For more information 27 MARCHE DES PRODUCTEURS Nueil-les-Aubiers (79250). From 6pm. Free Entry. Great local food, outdoor seating. Do not forget your plates, cutlery and non-disposable glasses. Food, music and fireworks. No booking necessary. 28 MARCHE DES PRODUCTEURS Mauléon (79700). From 6pm. Free Entry. Great local food, outdoor seating. Do not forget your plates, cutlery and non-disposable glasses. Food, music and fireworks. No booking necessary. 29 TOUR DE FRANCE. Bikes, bling and all the fun of the carnival. 30 RONDE DE CHAMBRILLE AUTOMOBILE RALLY La MotheSaint-Héray (79800). Free entry. +33 6 70 11 59 81 or +33 6 70 37 76 93

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: Markey’s pork ‘n’ pies Traditional British cooking Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime Open mornings

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65

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EVENT INFO If you know of an event coming up, please drop us a line and we’ll make sure everyone knows We are also on Facebook



Benet 85490 La Châtaigneraie (last Monday in month) 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Tuesdays......... Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300 Vasles 79340 Wednesdays.... Parthenay 79200 - and - Celles-sur-Belle 79370 Ruffec 16700 Thursdays........ Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 - and - Niort 79000 La Mothe St Héray 79800 Gençay 86160 Friday............... Thouars 79100 - and - Melle 79500 Secondigny 79130 (pm)-and-St Aubin le Cloud (pm) Civray 86400 (small food market) Antigny 85120 (1st and 3rd Fridays - 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


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

SAMU (Medical Advice) Gendarmes (Police) Pompiers (Fire Service)

Aulnay de Saintonge 1747 Ballans 17160 Beauvais Sur Matha 17490 St Jean D’Angély 17400 La Chapelle 16140 Sainte Soline Ark 79 79120 Hope Association 3 Day Bookfairs & Events Private catering

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European Emergency Drugs and Alcohol

TOP HAT QUIZ Nights Quizzes (and magazine distribution) will resume as soon as it is safe to do so.

Tel: 05 45 71 70 91

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74 Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates

...AUGUST 2020 The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2020 ... 14 July 15 August 1 November 11 November 25 December

Bastille Day (Fête Nationale) Assumption of Mary (Assomption) All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël)

2021... 1 January 4 April 5 April 1 May

New Year’s Day Easter Sunday Easter Monday Labour Day (Dates in bold=Public holidays)

CHURCH NOTICES... The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, holds English speaking services. The Filling Station - Poitou-Charentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. www. or Carolyn Carter on 05 45 84 19 03.

what’s COMING UP... 29 August to 20 September - TOUR DE FRANCE 09 September - Tour de France traverses Deux-Sèvres 04 October - Fête des Plantes et Volailles in Bressuire (79300)

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. The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship hold meetings throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. Contact Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit: The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun).

distribution issues With the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic there are clearly some businesses and groups who are unable, for now at least, to assist with the distribution of the magazine. We naturally wish them all the very best and a speedy return to normality. If you have trouble getting your hands on a copy of the magazine, please drop us a line and we will do everything we can to help.

Tony & Lynne The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 5

Getting Out & About Fêtes et Festivals d’Eté by Sue Burgess

Summer is here. In a ‘normal’ year would come the multitude of village festivals (fêtes de village), car boot sales (vide greniers) and so on. Even the word ‘festival’ contains ‘estival’ which is an adjective relating to the summer (été). The Terre de Festivals (land of festivals), in Deux-Sèvres, is a series of over thirty different events (évènements or manifestations). There are concerts (concerts), spectacles (shows), son et lumière (sound and light shows), art des rues (street art) and feux d’artifice (fireworks). La brocante is the business of selling used objects which are generally of little value. The name brocante describes the shops where this sort of business is done as well as the popular events (foires populaires). Brocantes are events where most of the sellers are professionals. Foires à tout or vide-greniers (car boot sales) are generally made up of private individuals selling objects which they no longer need. A marché aux puces (Flea Market), also called les puces, is an open air market where there are no foodstuffs for sale. A braderie is a market selling new things, often clothes, or a special day when shops have stalls outside in the street and sell (new) things off at a special price. The word fête translates a celebration, feast or fun party. It also translates as ‘Saint’s Day. Un festival is a festival and a festivalgoer is un festivalier. Remember not to confuse marché with marche which is a walk. Some villages propose randonnée gourmande organised rambles or walks with stops for food and drink. Many villages organise une fête de village (village festival) for 14 July. There is often a repas champêtre (rustic/countryside meal). In the evening there will be la retraite aux flambeaux (torchlit procession) before the fireworks. This year, exceptionally and sadly, a lot of these events have had to be cancelled. If the children are looking for thrills then you might want to look for a fête foraine (funfair or travelling fair). There is so much happening in the summer, even this year, you are bound to find something that suits your taste (est à votre goût).

Vocabulaire / Vocabulary:

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un marché .............................


un festival .............................


fêter ......................................

to celebrate

une brocante ..........................

second-hand shop / sale

un vide-grenier Une foire à tout

car boot sale

un bric à brac .......................

white elephant

une fête de quartier .............

street party / local party

une fête de village ...................

village fête

une kermesse ...................

church fête / garden party

une fête foraine ........................

fun fair

la distanciation sociale ......................

social distancing

Chez Christie’s Giving Warm Welcomes since 2004 uninterrupted until recently! WIDE VARIETY of LOVELY GIFTS MASSES of BEAUTIFUL CARDS DELICIOUS HOME-BAKING HOME-MADE SUMMER DRINKS BOOKS ~ INTERNET ~ FREE WIFI Service with a Smile (even if you can only tell by our eyes!) Please remember that we must All wear Masks in the shop … but they’re the Height of Fashion at the moment!

SUMMER OPENING HOURS: 10am - 12 noon : 3pm - 7pm


Please Note: Open Saturday 15th August (Assumption) ~ Morning Only! Greetings Cards & Books Online : AMAZON.CO.UK / SHOPS / CHRISTIESGENCAY GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

Siret: 47876969800018


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

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Our Friend in the North by Justin Wescombe


ver the last few months, I entered a hallucinogenic trance of nothingness. I had things to do, plenty of them, but a general lethargy overwhelmed my spirit and it soon became too much even to write a list. Not surprisingly, my brain kicked in again, miraculously around the time that it became necessary to think about the wonderful apéro hour (surely France’s greatest ever invention). I love sharing apéro with people but I learnt that I really enjoy it on my own as well: sitting outside with a glass of something and an over-planned plate of snacks. Instead of reflecting on the day, as it would have taken thirty milliseconds, it was a chance to actually look around me and see what is happening. I live in the middle of town so I don’t have the luxury of contemplating beautiful vistas across a vast horizon. This is by choice as I am ‘townie’ through and through; I have to be able to walk to get my coffee (that is one of my prerequisites for choosing a house). Being surrounded by buildings does limit the chance for quiet contemplation, with the repetitive thud of the bluetooth speaker casually interrupting the wandering mind and quickly returning it to reality. I rarely look up; I don’t think I need to. I know the church spire is on one side and I know there are blocks of flats nearby and that had been my limit of my observation. Like everyone, I would watch the balloons as they snaked across the sky and the chap in the powered hang glider who seems to do nothing but flâneur up and down the river at a few thousand feet. For some reason, recently, I did. It must have been the shrieks that first alerted me and then I saw them, the Swifts that tore around a nearby turret at a rate of knots without rhyme or reason: possibly just having fun, I don’t know. However, once I saw them I couldn’t unsee them, so I would spend many an evening just watching. They are not stupid and tend to make their first appearance as the heat of the day fades and that lovely moment is reached when you can sit outside without it feeling like a furnace. First, a few and then more and more until the sky is full of them enjoying their evening exercise. They don’t make an appearance every night, seeming to prefer sunny weather but now that I have noticed them, I miss their shrill call when it isn’t there. Of course, I couldn’t differentiate between them but there did seem to be distinct groups who would fly together, possibly

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following the Swift version of a chase car. They would dart this way and then wheel the other, in the blink of an eye. Perhaps the Pastis was too strong but I would imagine putting them into miniature silks and starting a book; almost a version of the pod racing made famous by Star Wars. Once these fantasies evaporated, I realised that I wanted to know more so I started reading that source of all ‘reliable’ information - Google. I assumed that no egos or livelihood is dependent of these incredible birds so I hoped that the chance of fake news should be minimal. I was staggered to read that they spend ten months of the year in the air; literally, living their lives on the wing with a migration path that takes them to equatorial Africa; a distance of over 22,000 kms (return I assume). They are purported to fly at speeds of around 175km/h and can cover over 150,000km in one year. They must have one of the most incredible power-to-weight ratio in the natural world. They are about the same size as the Orlotan bunting; that poor small bird so desired by French gourmands, eaten under a canopy of shame and, allegedly, the last meal of President Mitterrand. It is illegal to catch them with an associated fine of many thousands of euros. However, sadly, there is a thriving black market for these birds with many trapped, illegally, in the south of France as they make their annual migration south on their return north. Luckily, I have not heard of Swifts being on anyones’ menu which is fortunate as these little birds really do ‘punch above their weight’ and it would be really sad to hear that these incredible feats of natural engineering ended up in a casserole. Irrespective they make the evening apéro hour even more enjoyable, if that is possible.

To read Justin’s blog go to

SWIFT FACTS • Swifts have moveable bristles above their eyes that act like sunglasses to protect the eyes from the sun. • They can fly at a height of 10 000 feet (approx 3 000 metres)which is the same height at which small jet aircraft fly. • Swift chicks leave the nest when they are six to ten weeks old and never return. • Swifts live to be about five years old in the wild. • We find it impossible to tell males swifts from female, even at close range. Fortunately they don’t have the same problem.

View from the Vendée by John Blair


elcome back to ‘The DSM’ and the new owners, Tony and Lynne. We wish them every success with the magazine in the future. COVID-19 has affected everyone so let’s catch up with Reaction Theatre news: Like many events the Keynotes choir and Scottish Dancing groups annual tour of the Île d’Oléron was cancelled this year as, obviously were all of our practice sessions. This event generally leads us into our summer break and we usually start again in October but as the future is uncertain who knows? The Script Reading group have been busy working behind the scenes and have some good ideas for future productions. Angela Greene and Carole Winter, both musicians and music teachers, have been using Zoom every Friday teaching us how to read and understand music theory. I think it’s probably easier to learn French! Our thanks go to both for all their work and preparation while having to deal with the new technology. The Art Scene is no longer a section of the Reaction group because we were allocated a new room in Secondigny but unfortunately it was far too small for the group. The group has now split into two, one based in Clavé the other in Vernoux. See our website for more details.

by Karen Taylor


hould you take a trip down memory lane and visit the town or village where you grew up? An interesting question that David and I debated a couple of years ago when we were returning to the UK. You hear stories about people being hugely disappointed by the changes to their beloved birthplace, so you wonder whether bygones should remain bygones. I was brought up in Scarborough, on the Yorkshire coast. My memories include donkey rides on the beach, ‘Kiss me Quick’ hats and Bingo on the foreshore! Could such traditional pastimes still be entertaining the visitors to this seaside resort? I decided to take my courage in both hands and venture Up North for a few days. And yes, all the old favourites were still there, plus a few more modern ones of course: video games are now alongside Shove Ha’penny (well, shove 10p anyway!), plus a few other additions such as an excellent Sea Life Centre, but I was pleased to see that it’s connected to the foreshore by the good old miniature railway! Emboldened by this positive experience, last summer we decided to visit David’s hometown of many years - Lyme Regis in Devon. And once again a few improvements here and there, but the fossil shops were still in evidence, the little tea shops were as enticing as ever, and, more importantly, his favourite ice cream van was still to be found in exactly the same spot!

Before COVID took over world events, I arranged a First Aid refresher course for ten of our members. The course went very well and was arranged with the help of an English ex-fireman called John Hoyland. John worked in the south of England Fire Service for 30 years before moving to France and much to his surprise, his French next door neighbour was.... a fireman! One thing led to another and John has now worked with the Pompiers in Deux-Sèvres for ten years and was recently due to receive an award for his service. He asked me to do a painting of a fire engine for him which he intends to present to the Fire station in Parthenay, but guess what? Yes, it has been cancelled until sometime in the future.

So, why am I telling you all this? Well, a few years ago, soon after we moved into our present house, we were busy painting the outside of said house when a couple pushing an elderly lady in a wheelchair stopped outside the garden and peered over the wall. Assuming they were lost, I asked them if I could help. They then explained that their elderly mother (‘J’ai quatrevingt neuf ans’ she proudly announced, ‘presque quatre-vingt dix ans!’) used to live here with her husband many years ago. We invited them into the garden to have a look around and Madame assured us that we had done a wonderful job with our renovations. She then noticed the well, which was painted a shade of ghastly green. ‘Ah, je me souviens maintenant’ she sighed, ‘toutes les fenêtres et les portes étaient en vert clair...’. I immediately felt guilty that we now had white replacement windows and natural wood doors, but she didn’t seem unduly worried.

One of John’s responsibilities with the Pompiers is to coordinate first aid and fire safety training for the British community living in France. The courses are given in French by service volunteers but John is always there supporting them. If you or your group are interested in training in the future contact john.hoyland@

Then last September, when I was weeding in the front garden, a funeral cortège drove slowly past (not unusual as there is a cemetery behind our house). The cars suddenly stopped and four generations of a family descended to shake my hand and explain that it was Madame’s funeral today - she had reached the ripe old age of 93 before her demise.

Aidan Fairlie, our Keynotes musical director, is now taking over the role of Publicity Officer and will be writing future DSM articles. The Reaction Theatre’s next article will be published in October I believe, and hopefully by then we will all have a better understanding of what the future holds.

So maybe I can now paint the ghastly green well a more enticing colour without feeling a twinge of guilt.

Thank you for reading my articles in ‘The DSM’ over the last few years. Stay Safe. John

. rd work .. a . h .. r n u h o o y J ou for all Thank y

For more information visit or find us on Facebook

Karen runs a gîte business on the Vendée coast - you can contact her on:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 9


by Beryl Brennan

tudies suggest that about 10% of the world’s population is lefthanded. Despite this, most equipment and day-to-day articles are designed and manufactured for the use of right-handed people.


at using their non-dominant hand, it’s less difficult for them to recover from a stroke that damages one part of their brain.

The Left-Handers Club was formed in 1990 aiming to keep members in touch with developments, make their views known to manufacturers and others, provide a help and advice line, to promote research into left-handedness and development of new left-handed items. Since its formation the Club has gone from strength to strength with members all over the world and is highly regarded as the foremost pressure group and advice centre on all aspects of left-handedness.

Think it over Left-handed people are said to be good at complex reasoning, resulting in a high number of lefty Nobel Prize winners, writers, artists, musicians, architects and mathematicians. According to research published in the American Journal of Psychology, lefties appear to be better at divergent thinking.

On 13th August 1992, the club launched International Left-Handers Day. A now annual event when left-handers everywhere can celebrate their sinistrality, increase public awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed and encourage businesses and governments to be more left-handed friendly.

A sporting chance Left-handers may have the edge in competitions where opponents face each other, such as tennis, baseball and boxing. It is thought this may be due to the fact left-handed athletes have more opportunity to practice against right-handed opponents.

This event is now celebrated worldwide, and in the UK alone there have been more than 20 regional events to mark the day in recent years – including left-v-right sports matches, a left-handed tea party, pubs using left-handed corkscrews where patrons drank and played pub games with the left hand only, and nationwide ‘Lefty Zones’ where left-handers creativity, adaptability and sporting prowess were celebrated, whilst right-handers were encouraged to try out everyday left-handed objects to see just how awkward it can feel using the wrong equipment! All of this contributes to the general awareness of the difficulties and frustrations left-handers experience in everyday life, and have led to improved product design and greater consideration of the needs of the left-handed minority – although there is still a long way to go!

Did you know ... Daydream believer Lefties make up only about 10% of the population, but studies find that individuals who are left-handed score proportionally higher when it comes to creativity, imagination, daydreaming and intuition. They’re also better at rhythm and visualization. In good company Benjamin Franklin and Henry Ford are listed as left-handed, along with four of the last five Presidents of the United States. England’s Prince William is also a lefty. Michaelangelo, Raphael, Leonardo da Vinci (pictured) and Renoir also make the list. Health perks Left-handed stroke victims reportedly recover faster. The reason is unclear but some believe it’s due to left-handed people having to strengthen both sides of the brain to succeed in a right-handed world. Because many lefties are better 10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

Success stories In a recent study in the United States, it was found that left-handed college graduates go on to earn between 10% and 15% more than their right-handed colleagues. In addition, four of the five original designers of the Macintosh (Apple) computer are listed as lefties as are Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, and Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Other left-handers who have made it to the top include Sir Winston Churchill, Judy Garland, Brad Pitt, David Bowie, Martina Navratilova and Buzz Aldrin [source :] Shop ’til you drop There are stores devoted to selling practical and novelty items to/for lefties. Online shops offer everything from left-handed mugs and kitchen sets to school and office supplies, clothing and ‘backwards’ watches, clocks and even calendars. Very superstitious According to myth, giving a toast with your left hand is the same as placing a curse on the person you’re saluting. When Joan of Arc was burned at the stake, depictions showed her as being left-handed, in order to appear more evil. Left-handers were also harshly discriminated against during the 18th and 19th centuries, and it was often ‘beaten out of them’. Sign Language In British Sign Language (BSL), left-handed signers will sign everything “back to front” as the dominant hand is key in signing. A study at Birmingham University discovered that, in general, left AND righthanded signers respond faster when watching a right-handed signer. Final Fun Fact Women’s clothes button up on the opposite side to men’s. This comes from Victorian times when the English upper-class ladies were dressed by their, usually, right-handed maids.

For more information why not visit

Clubs & Associations

Contact us by email or facebook: Association number: W793005002

If you belong to a club or association and would like to advertise your group, please get in touch via email at ... The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 11

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Saint Maixent L’École

by Sue Burgess


ituated at the heart of Val de Sèvres, SAINT MAIXENT was built at the bottom of a subsided valley where, in prehistoric times, there was a lake – Lake VAUCLAIR formed in the bed of the river Chambon.

In 459, a small town with the name of Saint Saturnin, was formed around the chapel where Agapit studied and prayed. In 480, a young man named Adjutor came to join Agapit. He took the name of Maixent and directed the religious community. In 500 AD the community welcomed Clovis. Maxient died on the 26th June 515 and was worshipped as a saint. A monastery was built on the site where his monk’s cell had been. The Merovingien kings regularly gifted lands and property to the monastery which became rich and prospered. The monastery was well known in the 6th and 7th centuries.

A VOIR / MUST SEE La Porte Chalon was built in the 18th century. It was erected as a Triumphal Arch at the strategic centre of the town. It is certainly the best known monument of Saint Maixent l’École. The arch which was the entrance to the town is flanked by two square pavillions. These buildings were originally meant to be for distributing lodging tickets for the troops and collecting different taxes but they have subsequently had many different uses, such as meeting rooms and polling stations. They are now used by the Tourist Office. The Clock Tower / La Tour de l’Horloge The tower used to be called the Tour de l’Echevinage. The belfry was built during the late Middle Ages. It is 17 metres tall and houses the town bell. The Abbey

Between 848 et 866, the monks left the monastery fleeing the ravages of the Normans, and only returned in 924. The church of Saint Maixent was rebuilt in 940 to be a home to the relics of Saint Maixent and Saint Léger. The town suffered an earthquake in 1059 and fires in 1075, 1082, 1085 and 1116. The church and many houses were ruined. The rebuilding of the church was finished in about 1134. It was a Romanesque church in the style of the 11th and 12th centuries. The church kept the same appearance throughout the middle ages and the renaissance period. In 1204, Philippe Auguste declared that the abbey belonged to the French Crown and, in 1223, his son Louis VIII had a castle built in Saint Maixent. During the Hundred Years’ War, the town was dominated by the English but DUGUESCLIN took it back from the English on the 4th September 1372. Charles VII provided the town with arms and numerous privileges to thank the people for their loyalty to the crown. The town was taken by the troops of the prince of Condé in 1568, destroyed by the Calvinists on the 22 September 1568, taken back by the Catholics in 1569 but then lost again and finally retaken by the Duke of Montpensier in 1574. The seven century old town walls were in such a bad state of repair that they were demolished in 1740. In 1750 the Count of Blossac had the old Porte Chalon demolished and the modern arch was finished in 1762. Place Denfert is also of his making as are the wide avenues which cross the town. During the Revolution, the town was known as Maixent and then Vauclair sur Sèvre. The abbey became a hospital. The abbey church was raided, pillaged and looted in 1793. It was given back to the Catholic church in 1803. It was only at the end of the 19th century that the town became prestigious and well-known again with the setting up there of the important military academy which is now famous all over France.

The abbey has been classified as a historical monument since 1845. Today’s abbey church stands on the remains of two older buildings, one dating from the 7th century and the other from the 6th century. The only remains of these buildings are two windows in the south transept and some columns in the crypt. The church was rebuilt in the 12th century in a classical Romanesque style but, after partial destruction during the Hundred Years War, the choir and the arched ceiling were rebuilt in a Gothic style. The abbey suffered further damage during the Wars of Religion (1562 - 1598). The reconstruction began 100 years later and the works were directed by the Tuscan architect François Leduc. The abbey which is a combination of Romanesque and flamboyant Gothic styles is characterised by the height of the vaulted ceiling and the light. The church is 92 metres long, 25 metres wide and 24 metres high. The bell tower is nearly 40 metres high and the spire adds another 29 metres to the top. Le Musée du sous-officier / The non-commissioned officers’ museum This museum is one of 15 which exist in France centred on the traditions of the French army. It presents the history of Saint Maixent, the area and the different military training schools which have been present at Saint Maixent in the past, and still today. It also tells the history of the non-commissioned officers in the French army. You can take a virtual tour on the museum’s website at The museum is open from Wednesdays to Sundays from 10am to 12 noon and from 2pm to 5.30pm. It is closed in January. Entrance is free but if you want a guided tour the fee is 1 €. The beautiful stained glass window in the Abbey at Saint-Maixent l’Ecole (top left), the Porche de La Caserne Canclaux (bottom left) and the Abbey Cloisters (bottom right). All photos by Sue Burgess.

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

Hobbies Setting it out professionally - non-fiction. by Alison Morton



ast time, we looked at setting out fiction, but if you have expertise in a specific field, you might want to pass it on to others in a textbook, a ‘how to’ book or guide. Perhaps you’re writing a history of something or a guide to living in France or even how to write

Setting out your book in the standard publishing industry format shows you’ve done your research and taken a professional approach. Of course, publishers will format it in their house style if they take it on, but it’s wise to start in the expected way. In this article, I’m looking at most non-fiction, but excluding memoir or narrative non-fiction, as they are quite specific forms. Whatever your subject, think about a logical journey for the reader. They want to find out information they can act on or which informs, entertains or educates them. However, it needs to be in reasonably digestible chunks which allow time for the reader to absorb the information. Non-fiction is usually divided into parts or sections, then subsections and groups of chapters. Indeed, it’s best to write out the table of contents before you start writing each chapter, subject, topic or even paragraph. You will then have a solid framework to write from. Consider including case studies, checklists, exercises, workbook pages, diagrams, and illustrations. These can be selfcontained in the book or accessed via links to your website. Bibliography and references Make a list of books, website links (with dates accessed) and references you have consulted. Do this as you go along so it’s not a nightmare to collect at the end. I learnt this from writing Military or Civilians? my history of servicewomen in the Third Reich. Foreword and endorsements It’s not compulsory to have a foreword, but it’s a nice addition, especially from an accredited expert in your field. Do make sure you ask them well in advance as they will have schedules too. The same goes for endorsements. Again, ask in advance and then send a polite ‘warning’ about three weeks before you send them your final manuscript. Acknowledgments You should credit people who have helped you bring the book into being, so keep a running list of people you work with (editors, researchers, libraries, individuals). Author biography Here you demonstrate your credentials and experience for writing the book. It shouldn’t be your life story, just parts relevant to the subject of your book. Contact details If you have a website and/or an email list or would like people to contact you include these details. You can get a new gmail. com email address from Google so your normal one doesn’t get clogged up. Practicalities Non-fiction is usually set out without line indents – that’s strictly

contact ‘The DSM’ Call Tony or Lynne on 07 68 35 45 18 Monday - Friday: 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm

for fiction – and text is justified right and left. Don’t try to write the introduction first. In practice, it’s often one of the last things you write. The beauty of non-fiction is that you can jump around and write in any order. You might get ideas for other chapters as you focus on a different one, so write down those thoughts and carry on. You can always re-order later. And a third tip: examine established non-fiction books similar to the type you are going to write. You learn a great deal that way.

ion writing! Happy non-fict Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available as an ebook and paperback. Her ninth book in the Roma Nova thriller series, NEXUS, came out last September.

What’s New On DVD?

by Becka Wigmore

MILITARY WIVES DVD Release Date: 6 July 2020 Director: Peter Cattaneo Starring: Kristin Scott Thomas and Sharon Horgan Synopsis Inspired by real events, Military Wives is the heartfelt story of friendship, love, and support on the home front. Kate (Kristin Scott Thomas) persuades a disparate group of women on the base to form the Military Wives Choir. Initially uncertain, their new friendships and shared experiences allow them to put aside their differences and bring joy, hope and strength to the world. Review Captivatingly authentic from the first moment, Military Wives is a moving and inspiring film about the power of music and friendship. I was skeptical at first, expecting a nauseatingly feelgood film full of clichés and banalities. And yes, there is a clichéd, feel-good atmosphere at times, but the film brings so much more than that to the table. You cannot help but be drawn into the lives and emotions of the characters – we painstakingly feel their heartbreaks and we unashamedly revel in their joys. In these unforeseen times, it is easy to identify with the struggles of every one of the beautifully written characters. Gaby French’s Jess deals with vulnerability and self-doubt; Amy James-Kelly’s Sarah faces a crushing and devasting loss. Kristin Scott Thomas brings an at-times painful validity to the seclusion one can feel, even when surrounded by familiar faces, alongside a sudden penchant for online shopping which I’m sure more than a few of us will recognise. Sharon Horgan’s portrayal of Lisa, a leader both in her role as mother and as a pillar of the military wives community, demonstrates how the pressure of being strong not only for oneself, but also as a rock for others to lean upon, can wear down even the hardiest of souls. The film is emotional and inspiring. Beautifully moving moments are artfully balanced by sprinklings of humour, in a way that feels raw and real rather than forced. It’s not an easy watch at times, but it is a poignant and breathtaking reminder that in times of hardship we are not alone, and that family – the family that we choose – will get us through.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 13

YOUR Book Reviews

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

THE SMILING MAN by Joseph Knox

Review by Vicky Reeve


by James Luxford

Welcome back to cinema! After a long time away, movies are now playing in cinemas under new health restrictions. Be safe, and enjoy our picks of the best upcoming releases! The King of Staten Island (Out Now)

A body has been found on the fourth floor of Manchester’s empty Palace Hotel. The man is dead. And he is smiling. Detective Aidan Watts, who has been put on the night shift for past misdemeanours, and his unwilling partner, DI Sutcliffe, must piece together the few clues to the identity of the stranger. But as they do, Aidan realizes that a ghost from his past haunts the investigation. He soon recognises that, to discover who the smiling man is, he must first confront the scattered debris of his own life.

Saturday Night Live comedian Pete Davidson writes and stars in this coming-of-age drama about a man in his mid-20’s whose life has coasted ever since losing his firefighter father on 9/11. His drifting existence is disrupted with the arrival of a new man in his mother’s life (Bill Burr). Marisa Tomei and Steve Buscemi also star in this warm comedy that often loses focus, but benefits from a heart-felt performance from Davidson, who lost his own father in similar circumstances.

Set against the seedy Manchester underworld, the author introduces us to a variety of disfunctional characters, struggling to survive. The plot rattles along, as the reader is drip fed information about the cast of misfits and how they relate to the mystery of the smiling man.

Never Rarely Sometimes Always (19th August)

The thriller is enhanced by the dark humour and razor sharp dialogue, particularly between the two policemen. The usual good cop, bad cop combination is replaced by bad cop, worse cop. The disdain the two men have for each other produces some witty badinage and DI Sutcliffe’s constant hand sanitising and wiping everything down with antibacterial wipes made me laugh. A thoroughly enjoyable read. A thriller you can laugh along with. The Smiling Man is the second in the DC Aidan Waits series.

Two teenage girls hit the road in search of a planned parenthood clinic in a tough but powerful drama. Tackling teenage pregnancy and abortion is tough to do sensitively on film, but the excellent performances of stars Sidney Flanigan and Talia Ryder give human faces to hypothetical debates. New York film maker Eliza Hittman crafts a movie that shows how cinema can put the most human topics under the microscope, and delivers a story that will keep you thinking for days afterwards.

Unhinged (19th August)


Review by David Edge

If you are familiar with the stand-up comedy of Russell Kane, you will know that his father features heavily in the narrative. Born and brought up in North London, Russell was quite happy with his life. This is not a book about abuse or suffering. This is simply the story of Russell Kane and his relationship with Dave Kane – his father and the Alpha Male ‘Silverback’ of the title. For whatever reasons, Dave did not think very much of himself and so he was not a particularly happy man. He felt that the world was against him and this was passed on to the family at every opportunity. (“You don’t need friends in life, boy”). How all this played out is the subject of this frank and often hilarious book. Russell Kane populates the story with real life colourful characters that would not be out of place in a modern day Charles Dickens novel. Tragically, Dave Kane died suddenly at the age of 52 while on holiday in Cyprus. He never saw his son achieve success as a comedian and writer – though as Russell himself says – he would never have had the courage to say what he has about his father if he had been alive to hear it! Perhaps Dave left Russell the ultimate legacy – an ambition to rise above his lot and a catalogue of incredible material plus the freedom to use it!

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We’re used to seeing Russell Crowe as a hero on-screen, but he gets very nasty in his new thriller. A single mother (Caren Pistorius) finds her life in danger when she gets in a minor traffic disagreement with a deranged man (Crowe), who stalks her determined to show her “what a bad day really is”. Sweating and scowling, Crowe is the very picture of toxic masculinity in a film that plays fast and loose with issues such as mental health, but as a straight forward chase thriller does a serviceable job keeping you in suspense.

Spycies (26th August) A family spy caper about cat and rat secret agents who must put their differences aside to save the world. The animation is impressive but that, unfortunately, is the only thing good you can say about a film that is more concerned with flashy effects and lame gags than a coherent story. There’s certainly shades of Disney’s Zootopia in the animal society concept, but the script and plot twists fall well short of that comparison. With so much out there in the family genre, this is a mission you will almost certainly want to decline.

Release dates are nationwide in France.

Home & Garden DONNA IN HER POTAGER by Donna Palframan



oving to France 14 years ago, I was enthused with the thought of growing vegetables, keeping chickens… the things a lot of us want to do. My first potager was a bit of a disaster – I was such a novice but it didn’t go too badly, considering I hate digging, but I lost heart. It wasn’t fenced so was open to the ravages of dogs, chickens, rabbits – in fact, anything that could put me off, did, so I bowed out gracefully. This all changed three years ago when we bought a property for renovation with, oh my, a fenced, gated and dedicated potager. My enthusiasm was sparked again. The property became ours on a slightly dreary November day and all the plans at first went into the renovations. As spring approached, I decided it was time to plan the potager. My partner loves potatoes so the subject was brought up about growing somew. I remembered reading somewhere that they could be grown in hay as well as soil, so I did some research and stumbled on straw bale gardening. It looked like the answer to my potager. Hailed as ‘no digging, no weeding and less watering’, I thought it was the answer to my prayers. A way to grow vegetables, fruits and herbs and not have to do too much of the dreaded duo – I’m happy to water but dig? Not if I can avoid it! How, you might ask, can you grow vegetables in straw bales? The technique has been refined and written about by an American, Joel Karsten and reading his book, it made sense. The technique is easy – soak the bales, follow a regime using a high nitrogen fertiliser so that the bacteria in the straw start the decomposition of the straw and there is your growing medium. Eureka!

The next thing was to find some straw, that was easy – Leboncoin. The whole set-up was easy. Dry straw isn’t heavy, so putting the bales in place was easy – this year I have 52. Some in the polytunnel and some outside. Soaking them this year was simple. I live in Normandy – if it’s raining, which it often is, we all give a rather Gallic shrug and say knowingly ‘c’est la Normandie’. I digress. The rain saturated the bales and 25th April then I followed the regime, there are traditional and organic regimes and I have used both over the two years I have been using this method. What, might you ask, can you grow in straw? Nearly every veg or fruit you can think of, apart from perennials such as asparagus and artichokes as the bales eventually collapse; corn is difficult too because of the way it grows. Flowers can be grown as well and with companion planting, the bales can look very pretty. They can be sown with seeds or planted with seedlings. This year 6th July I have planted 36 tomato plants, two per bale in my polytunnel and I’m expecting my harvest to be better than last year, which was my first as a straw bale gardener. Courgettes and trailing plants love bales, in fact most plants do. I haven’t had much luck with carrots but my parsnips and beetroot are really good this year.

The book Donna mentions is : Straw Bale Gardens Complete by Joel Karsten

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 15

Love your


by Greenfingers


These are unprecedented times as I am writing this, and I think how lucky I am to have a garden. Under the terms of the initial weeks of ‘confinement’, when an hour away from the house was all that was permitted, it was a blessing to know that at least I could be outside, working, filling up hours and keeping myself sane. Others less fortunate, spending endless hours in an apartment, maybe cooped up with children who had few opportunities to ‘escape’, must have felt they were in some sort of nightmare. Yes, there were activities on the Internet and television and parents have done sterling and creative work with school homework, art projects and new hobbies from singing to gymnastics, but there is no real substitute for being outdoors. I imagine there has been more decorating, deep cleaning, repairing and furniture moving in the home than ever before, catching up on jobs that may have been outstanding for a long time…just waiting for the ‘right’ moment to arrive, and arrive it did, but not in a welcome way. Now that we are living with an ‘easing’ situation, it is good to be able to see neighbours over the hedge and be able to talk and exchange pleasantries. It may be a long time before we can greet with an embrace, but those times will return I’m sure.

and went and Easter passed with far fewer chocolate eggs being sold or eaten. Our supermarkets here do a good job, looking after our health very well and making sure that we and our chariots are well sanitised…… and they have managed to provide a few plants at the same time…… all in a civilised manner and with such good humour and pleasantness. Now life is beginning a slow build up to a more normal pattern and we are enjoying more freedom of movement. I worry that some will think the virus is over and throw care and their masks to the wind, which I feel is a bit of a risk (my opinion)… and holidaymakers will be arriving soon… maybe some bringing the virus with them. This all sounds a bit negative and it’s not meant to be, but I think we need to be cautious and follow the guidelines. The work in the garden has been hard and I have enjoyed the effort particularly on the warmer, sunny days, and many of you will have been doing the same. Some of the tasks have been a bit like outdoor housework…cleaning the greenhouse, organising the tools, finally fixing some hooks on the wall, rationalising the flowerpots…how have I got so many? It was wonderful when the déchetteries reopened and green waste could be disposed of. The hour of waiting outside, with rain hammering down, was worth every minute, then home to start filling the waste sacks again! The garden compost heap is absolutely full, but I quite enjoy a trip to get rid of the garden waste, so liberating! I have made several trips since then and I’m planning another next week. It’s been quite a year, with the wettest winter and spring for years, early days of incredible heat… and then more rain…… and more heat to come! Hopefully, the autumn will bring better news on the virus worldwide, perhaps a vaccine, perhaps improved treatment with more lives being saved. Gardening will help us with whatever comes, it will give us a focus, a direction. The exercise will help us keep fit, the results give us pleasure and our wellbeing will be strengthened. The natural world around us enriches that, it’s not important to have hectares… a garden can be a few pots on a balcony or on a window sill, or a trough with a couple of tomato plants in it, or some herbs in a bucket of earth. The emotion is the same.

One of the hard things to cope with, for me anyway, was not having access to garden centres, to be able to buy plants or even just to go and browse amongst them. All plant fairs were cancelled, spring bulbs came Blackberry Picking Late August, given heavy rain and sun for a full week, the blackberries would ripen, at first, just one, a glossy purple clot among others, red, green, hard as a knot. You ate the first one and its flesh was sweet like thickened wine: summers blood was in it, leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam pots, where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots, round hayfields, cornfields and potato drills. We trekked and picked until the cans were full, until the tinkling bottom had been covered with green ones, and on top, big dark blobs burned like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered with thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s. We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre, but when the bath was filled, we found a fur, a rat grey fungus, glutting on our cache. The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush, the fruit fermented, the sweet fruit would turn sour. I felt like crying, it wasn’t fair that all the lovely full cans smelt of rot. Each year I’d hope they’d keep……but knew they would not.

Seamus Heaney.

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Now is the time to: • If not already done, bearded irises can be divided, making sure that each rhizome is solid to the touch and has some roots and leaves; these can be planted up straight away, with the rhizome just resting on the soil surface, so it gets direct sun exposure….. they like to be baked! • Trim lavender plants by removing at least the top few centimetres of growth and removing flower stalks. Don’t cut back into hard wood….. the plant doesn’t recover well if you do. • Conifer hedges can be cut for the last time before autumn. • Thin out stems of rambling roses and cut back new shoots. Tie in the new green stems. Clear away fallen leaves from around the base of roses to prevent black spot from developing. If it does appear, remove affected leaves from the stems and burn them and spray the plant with a fungicide.

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• •

Time to summer prune wisteria; remove long, whippy shoots cutting back to five or six buds from the main stems. Remove any dead wood at the same time and tie branches in securely. Lightly trim Hebe bushes after flowering has finished. Remove flower stems and about 4-5cms of new growth. Cuttings can be taken at the same time. Water camellias and rhododendrons well throughout the month, ensuring good flower bud formation for next spring. Some penstemons are not hardy, so it is a good idea to take cuttings now. If this is the first time you have attempted this, it is fairly easy and not complicated. Fill small pots with sowing compost (I like to add some perlite or vermiculite as it helps keep the compost moist, but also helps to prevent compaction). Take cuttings from a non-flowering stem, about ten to 12cm long, trimming to just below a leave node (that’s the bump you can feel along the stem where a leaf would join). Remove all the bottom leaves from the stem and reduce the size of larger upper leaves by cutting them in half. This helps to reduce moisture loss and will encourage quicker root development. Dip the ends of the stem into rooting powder or rooting gel and push the cutting into the compost. If you do not have rooting compound, don’t worry, plant the cuttings in the usual way, they will just take slightly longer to produce roots. It is thought that if cuttings are planted around the edge of the pot, it helps to stop them drying out. Leave in a warm, light place, keep well-watered and roots will appear within a couple of weeks. The cuttings can be transferred to a bigger pot when new roots are showing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. If borders or pots are looking tired, perennials such as rudbeckia, salvia, kniphofia, helenium, aster, agastache, can be bought for about 3€ each and planted directly into the soil. They will be small at first, but keep watered and fed and they will become a good size, producing a worthwhile, colourful display right through the autumn….. and they will flower again next year. Keep checking pots for vine weevil damage. Semi-circular notches in leaf edges are a giveaway sign and general signs of failure to thrive are another. Lift the plant out of the pot and look for the comma shaped, brown headed larvae. These feed on the roots and can quickly kill a plant. If you discover them, remove all the compost from around the plant, washing it off if necessary and replant in new compost. Biological/nematode controls are now available to control this pest. If these remedies can’t be found in the garden centres, it’s worth looking online for a supplier. As soon as flowers produce seeds and they ripen, collect them up and store them in envelopes which are labelled…it’s easy to forget which seeds are which if you’ve collected a lot, and some look very similar to each other. Make sure seeds are dry before you store them. Tidy perennial geraniums by trimming back spent foliage and flowers. This encourages a new flush of blooms which will last until autumn. Water well and give a high potash feed. Splitting plants to extend plant numbers is easy…just gently tease a small portion from the main plant, ensuring a piece of root is attached and plant up to grow on for a while in a pot. When a good size, plant out into the flower bed. Finish summer pruning of apple and pear trees by shortening lateral stems that are longer than about 20cm and remove any branches that are growing too vigorously or just in a vertical direction. Strawberry beds can be renewed by planting newly rooted runners which have been formed from healthy established plants. Established wild flower meadows or even narrow beds or strips, can be mowed at the end of the month once plants have set seed. Leave the clippings on the surface for a few days to allow wild life to escape, then incorporate them into the compost heap. Continue to pick soft fruit such as blackcurrants, blueberries and redcurrants this month, freezing or preserving any surplus you may have. Prune out fruited canes of summer raspberries. Tie in new canes. Harvest sweetcorn when the grains exude milky juice when pressed with a finger nail.

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• • • • • •

• • • •

Keep sowing ‘catch’ crops of lettuce, radish, rocket when other crops have been harvested. Keep carrot plants protected from carrot fly until autumn. Harvest onions when the foliage dies down. Dry off in a shed or greenhouse before storing. Grow basil in amongst tomato plants as its scent deters white fly. Then it’s readily available to join up with the tomatoes and mozzarella when making the Italian salad ‘tricolore’. Remove excess foliage and side shoots from tomato plants to conserve energy for more fruit production. Feed chillies with comfrey or tomato fertiliser to encourage more fruit formation. Keep harvesting courgettes, spinach and salad leaves. Remove spent flower heads from dahlias. These look a bit like a truncated cone shapes so don’t confuse with unopened flower buds which are more rounded. Take cuttings from pelargoniums and fuchsias. It will take about four weeks for these to root. Pick aubergines before they fully ripen and become full of seeds. The skin tends to lose its shine as seeds develop. Deadhead plants in pots, beds, baskets and tubs to ensure continued flowering, leaving ornamental grasses with their seeds on as food for the birds and for a decorative display in autumn. Don’t deadhead hydrangeas, as the dead flower head helps to protect next year’s flower buds from frost damage during the winter. Pick sweet peas regularly to keep the plants flowering. Think about bulbs for spring, planning for future planting and researching new varieties. If you have some daffodils left from earlier in the year and they are in good condition, plant them now. Keep the greenhouse well ventilated to prevent overheating inside damping down the floor if necessary. Top up ponds and bird baths and don’t forget to water baskets, pots and tubs!

Don’t forget to keep yourselves ‘well-watered’ while working outside. Rest often and always wear a hat and sun screen! Enjoy your moments in the fresh air with all its benefits and make time to enjoy what you have achieved! Keep yourselves safe, virus free and the masks handy!

Greenfingers The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 17

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

You say ‘weeds’, we say ‘forage’


by Kevin and Amanda Baughen

e’ve all got stories to tell of what we’ve been doing during the recent enforced ‘lockdown’ period; some will have been busier than ever doing all those jobs they didn’t have time to do beforehand, whereas others will have taken the opportunity to take their foot off the gas and shut themselves away for a bit of peace and quiet. We have enjoyed having time to really concentrate on looking after our bees, and ensuring that all our equipment is clean and in good repair. We have managed to mark all the queen bees to make them easier to spot when carrying out hive inspections, and have even relocated a couple of hives to a shadier part of our meadow in anticipation of the summer heatwave(s). We have been called out to collect a few swarms, and have also removed some bees that had set up home between a window and shutter. All these bees are now safely rehomed in hives on our land, so the forage that our six original colonies were happily feeding on is now shared by five more. That’s potentially another 350,000 bees to feed from the same food source….hmm. For once we’d anticipated this increase in bees and in April a tractor-owning friend kindly ploughed up part of our meadow, then ran over the deep furrows with a harrow, and we were able to sow around 5kg of wildflower seed on the prepared earth. Six weeks later and we are pleased to note that, even though there are still patches of ground where nothing seems to be growing, most of the area we worked on has flowers on it: phacelia and clover have taken over for now, but not far behind are the poppies and mallow, with lupins, vetch, dead nettles and comfrey on their way. The most encouraging sight for us is how many pollinating insects have already found the phacelia flowers. Bumble bees vie with our honey bees for the nectar produced by the complex purple blossoms, and the whole area is covered by humming bird hawk moths and marbled white butterflies. We can’t wait to see what comes up next and hope that our bees appreciate the feast we have laid on for them.

Eaten Out In France


by Carolyn Watts

y husband and I moved to France five years ago, arriving at our new house on a beautiful September afternoon with our little border terrier, Lola. The first evening, having very little furniture, we decided to eat in the garden and sat on the grass to enjoy a picnic. We thoroughly enjoyed our cooked chicken and box of wine but, sadly, the next morning we found ourselves covered in insect bites and stings; we are both very susceptible to insect bites. There followed numerous visits to the pharmacy, lots of products bought and plenty of euros spent, but we couldn’t find a product that was both effective and pleasant to use. As I had read that certain essential oils were effective at keeping the bugs away, I began work on a project combining good quality moisturiser bases with different blends of essential oils to produce an effective insect repellent that had a pleasant smell and excellent moisturising qualities.

The result is Belle Fleur , a luxury moisturiser enhanced with coconut, argan and joboba which, together with other essential oils, nourishes the skin and repels insects. Suitable for all skin types and safe for use on children, the cream has now been tested in more than a dozen countries worldwide with positive results. To compliment the cream I now have Belle Fleur Hair and Body Wash which, thanks to the essential oils I have used, gives enhanced protection. My latest product is Belle Fleur Natural Dog Shampoo enhanced with lavender, rosemary, cedar and neem essential oils to repel and kill ticks and fleas, with excellent trial results. My products are sold in several local shops, including the lovely ‘Coeur et Etoile’ at St Mathieu, and I have a stall at Civray Market every Tuesday morning.

So, please consider pollinating insects when pulling up all those weeds – if you can wait until they’ve finished flowering then you’ll have provided food for several hungry mouths!

All products can be purchased through my website (details below) and are delivered via Mondial relay throughout France. I also have an agent in the UK.

Amanda and Kevin Baughen run beekeeping courses from their home in Confolens. Details are available on or

All details and prices can be found on the website.

Bee swarms collected - bee nest removal undertaken from shutters or under roof tiles. For advice/help or swarm removal phone: 05 49 87 52 37 or email: paul@bees86 or message 86

Carolyn Watts, Belle Fleur Email : crw.skincare@

Tél : 06 47 32 35 50

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 19

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across 1. Idiotic, not clever, daft (6) 4. Discuss the pros and cons of an issue (6) 8. Exceptionally bad or displeasing (5) 9. A small axe with a short handle (7) 10. A group of lions (5) 11. A man’s name (or a King’s) (7) 12. A drug that temporarily quickens some vital process (9) 15. Perform surgery on (7) 16. Make fit for, or change to suit a new purpose (5) 17. Pasta in the form of short spirals (7) 18. Energetic American dance that was popular in the 1930s (5) 19. An obsolete unit of length (6) 20. A red fruit with a single hard stone (6)

Down 2. Hinder or prevent the efforts, plans or desires of (6) 3. The basic unit of money in Great Britain (5-8) 5. Tennis shot (8-5) 6. A belief that can guide behaviour (6) 7. A delicatessen that specialises in meats (11) 13. A person’s partner in marriage (6) 14. Predatory arachnid with eight legs (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword Across 4. The first lady to appear in a rugby sevens match? (3) 7. It’s not very convenient, having tiny mule in assembly! (8) 8. GT modification to tempt former amphibian? (4) 9. Working with energy for five splitting French and Spanish articles in bungalow eg.? (3, 5) 10. Very short time given mark of approval. (4) 11. A finish in a hundred! Tissue may be produced. (6) 14. Just at the right moment finding antidote to 7? (6) 15. Past expression of what can come before day, for instance? (6) 17. Lawyer possibly being fair about church teaching? (6) 19. Inland waterway not about to be excessively orderly? (4) 20. Julian could be in race for land struggle? (8) 23. Construction of bypass not given With thanks to M.Morris time to set up gun? (4) 24. A tin deep in sea change bringing only small adjustment to water level? (8) 25. Amphibian caught by hand coming from the side? (3)

Down 1. Unknown writer is girl in love? Quite the opposite. (4) 2. Only just up to cash register? (4) 3. Struggle to get unknown in paradise? (6) 4. A very small hole, yet eel manages it? (6) 5. If I get germ, turn me over, let me run and I’ll tell you when ready? (3 -5) 6. Working out how to get a deposit? (8) 9. Taking the front off garret happened frequently in the past perhaps? (3) 12. There’s no end to it, yet I rent for a shift? (8) 13. Neil abused on rendezvous; he must get over it for another day. (8) 16. Not long ago, what you paid for accommodation around about centre of London? (6) 17. Calendar girl getting start in naturism? (6) 18. High point in West Oregon? (3) 21. Shock reversal originating in Brazil perhaps? (4) 22. Store tips of Lymeswold in perfect condition. (4)

Brain Gym

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

Q6. Q7:

What is next in this sequence of numbers: 1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221, 312211, ______? Can you work out the well known phrase or saying from the visual clues? b.




Age Age Age

Answers on P.25

Q1. What has 13 hearts, but no other organs? Q2. Mary has four daughters, and each of her daughters has a brother. How many children does Mary have? Q3. A word I know, six letters it contains, remove one letter and 12 remains. What is it? Q4. What four-letter word can be written forward, backward or upside down, and can still be read from left to right? Q5. With pointed fangs I sit and wait; with piercing force I crunch out fate; grabbing victims, proclaiming might; physically joining with a single bite. What am I?

WHEN YOU WAKE UP a poem by S J Gungum

When you wake up and the sun hits your eyes, You suddenly realise with a shocked surprise, That the season has changed and the days are long, With sweet flower scents and beautiful bird song. When you wake up and you start to sneeze, And you grab your inhaler as you begin to wheeze, With a box of balm tissues in all of the rooms, There’s no more days of the old winter glooms. When you wake up and it’s early morning, You look outside with intrepid plans forming, You pack your bags with hats and sunscreen, Feeling once more like an adventurous teen. When you wake up and you throw on your shorts, With dreams of sun, sea, and global airports, You think of past times of sandcastles in the sand, Where you check which bits are plain and tanned. When you wake up and it’s the last day of term, You sit in your chair and wriggle and squirm, You can’t wait to run out of those big oppressive doors, Because you’re the teacher with no marking chores! When you wake up and think ‘barbeque’, With good friends, and food, and a cocktail or two, You know that summer is finally here, Because this is your most favourite time of the year. About Sarah Gungum: After being medically retired as a teacher and trainer, Sarah and her partner decided to up sticks and move to Poitou-Charentes. Here, she decided to follow her dream of becoming a full-time writer. She has four short stories published on Amazon Kindle, two in the Stevenage Writers Group Anthology (UK) and two ‘pocket reads.’ More information and stories can be found at About the PC Writers group: PC Writers was founded by Sarah Gungum in September 2019. We have two types of meetings. The first, is workshop based, where writers get together with their current novels, poems, lyrics, or anything they fancy. This is a non-structured meeting with coffee and cake. The second meeting is held in the evenings and usually follows a structure with a specific topic and writing exercises. At the end of the evening, we create a ‘writing challenge’ to be completed for the next month’s meeting. The writing challenges have been popular with non-members and some appear on the PC Writers website. The next group meeting is at The Green Man Inn, Charroux, from 7pm - 9pm on Thursday 27 August. (86250) For more information please send a Friend Request to PC Writers on Facebook. Alternatively, please go to

Photo by Antonios Ntoumas


et me be quite clear, this is a letter from East Coast America. Here there are bears. Not cuddly, well-dressed, marmalade-sandwich eating Paddington-type bears, but Ursus Americanus, big black bears, Connecticut bears. Ursus Americanus are emerging from sleepy lockdown around now (early June) and one was seen in our neighbourhood the other day. Not that surprising really because in Connecticut there are around 800 bears, so the statisticians tell us. Anyway, the sighting of Ursus caused great excitement, especially amongst some of the escapees from New York City who had chosen to rental-cottage-up and self-isolate in our neck of the woods to escape the pandemic and any associated discomfort (quite prescient of them really what with the recent clashes of demonstrators and police, as well as everything else). Well, as it turned out, such country pursuits as bear sightings provided quite an unexpected cultural event for us all. We less sophisticated and more native country types learnt, somewhat to our surprise and no little amusement, that some of our apartment-dwelling big city cousins were overawed by the enormity of the expanse of green grass in the yard (garden) outside their (for now) very own door, and were fearful of venturing further than the relative safety of the immediate deck area. Imagine, too, the shock that the effect of sighting bears (or bear, to be strictly accurate) rummaging about in the yard trash bins had on city nerves, before Ursus Americanus took itself off to explore other verdant neighbourhoods! Shock horror! But, rejoice, I can tell you no bears were harmed during this incident, and all city dwellers returned unscathed to their enclosures to live to tell the tale around the supper tables of countless other Homosapiens Americanus. Exit, pursued by a bear,


contact ‘The DSM’ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 21

Our Story ... How on earth did we get here?


Tony and Lynne in Lisbon

here we were, standing in Carrefour Ouistreham wasting time while we waited for our ferry check-in to open, when Tony threw the car keys at me and said, “You take them. I’m not going back!”. Fortunately for me he wasn’t entirely serious, but it was probably the first time we realised that returning to the UK after each visit to France felt like LEAVING home rather than going back there.

As a child, Tony’s family holidayed in France and once we were together it did not take him long to introduce me to the delights of the country. We continued the tradition with our own children, finding several favourite areas that we returned to again and again. Since those early holidays, we have dreamt of owning a home here in France and perhaps, one day, retiring here. Once the kids had (more or less) left home, we felt the time was right to begin the search for our dream home. Where to buy though? France is, after all, a big country and one can hardly say to an estate agent “Find me a house in France!”. Tony’s first effort was to find a derelict barn halfway up a mountain and about 30 miles from civilisation. He tried to convince me by explaining that it was a four bedroom house and would only cost £24,000 which seemed a bargain until he, oddly quietly, added that there was no roof, no water, no electricity, no floors and no real access to the property. Needless to say, I ‘convinced’ him that this was not the house for us. After many hours poring over maps and searching websites, we reduced the search area to a diamond shape with points, roughly speaking, at Caen, Nantes, Le Mans and Niort. From that point on, every holiday was to France and each one included a day or two of haphazard property hunting ‘somewhere in the diamond’. By summer 2014 we had narrowed our area of interest to, approximately, the Deux-Sèvres region. That Autumn half-term, we arranged a dedicated trip to the area certain that this would be the successful visit. Our French home was out there just waiting for us to find it. We were definite that what we were looking for was a relatively small, two to three bedroom property that we could use as a holiday home for ten years or so and then, perhaps, move to in our later years. We definitely did NOT want something like our UK home, a good sized three to four bedroom family home with a reasonably large garden. What we wanted was the quintessential pretty French cottage with blue shutters and a garden just large enough to grow some veg and, one day, keep chickens.

by Lynne Wigmore

On a glorious Halloween afternoon, we arrived at the first property on our list. A bit of a wildcard choice but the village it was in seemed nice, so we thought we’d have a look. It was a four-five bedroomed house that had been empty for some time with half an acre of garden (field) and it looked lovely from the outside. Even though it was much larger than we were looking for, we decided to venture in. To my dismay, we discovered that someone had left a window open and we were introduced to the world of cluster flies! Wearing plastic flip-flops and wading through what seemed to be a two-inch carpet of dead and half-dead flies was enough to put off any potential buyer, but we persevered with the viewing. We concluded that this would be too much for the two of us to take on, so we closed the door and headed off to the next property. Each viewing after that was compared, often unfavourably, to ‘the fly house’ and nothing else quite seemed right. After another fruitless trip around Christmas, we realised that we were spending the money that could be used to buy our house on searching for it. We put our dream on the shelf temporarily, deciding that when the time was right to move to France we would rent a property and take our time house hunting. No holiday home but the dream lived on. Fate, as ever, played her hand and just before Easter 2015 Tony received a round-robin email saying that our ‘fly house’ had been dramatically reduced in price. It was now going to be a bargain for someone … so why not us? That night we rather cheekily put in an offer even lower than the reduced price, knowing full well we were not committing to anything just yet. The agent explained that, having had no viewings for months, the reduced price meant that several other people had already expressed an interest and the next day there were three viewings arranged. A long night of “should we, shouldn’t we” discussion ensued and by about 1am we had decided to offer the full asking price so that the house would be removed from the market. Having phoned in the offer, we booked our ferry to visit ‘the fly house’ one more time. Less than a week later, on Good Friday, we set off to see our new property for the second time (with suitable shoes this time!). Something about the house had clearly captured our hearts on the first visit, it took only a few minutes after seeing it again to decide that we would buy it. The village met all our requirements, it was in the right bit of the ‘diamond’ and Tony was comfortable that despite his lack of DIY skills, we could manage any work that needed doing (how he would regret saying that). Thus, our journey began. Every school holiday was spent in our home-away-from-home until that fateful day when it hit Tony that he didn’t want the stressful UK life anymore. At some point, without us noticing, our lives had changed, and we were now leaving ‘home’ to return to the UK. After a great deal of worrying over spreadsheets and discussing our future plans, we decided that we could live a simpler, happier, life in France if we sold up and moved.

Photos of our new garden by Tony Wigmore

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

In September 2016, Tony stopped work to concentrate on preparing our English home for sale. A few months later, I joined him in retirement and took on the full-time job of decluttering the house and packing. Why is it that our houses only achieve that perfect finished standard just as we put them up for sale? May 2017 heralded the new chapter of our lives together, as the removal van arrived to collect the furniture and a vast array of boxes. The boxes packed in April, beautifully labelled and coordinated with only the items deemed truly necessary, were added to those packed in May that had the contents of cupboards hastily swept in and sealed up with the promise to sort properly on arrival. Ironically, we had at least one box of wine and Pineau des Charentes that had traversed the channel multiple times. Languishing in the corner of the attic were a couple of boxes marked ‘Open before 1999’, having been packed from a former house move in 1991. Neither of us could remember what they contained, but they came with us and are currently in the grenier awaiting their rediscovery. With many tears and huge hugs, family and friends wished us “Bon Voyage” and off we sailed into the sunset aboard Brittany Ferries. Certain though we were that we had prepared well for our new life, we now realise that without the good fortune to have a lovely English/French family living opposite us, things would have been very different. These neighbours, now firm friends, have enriched our new life as well as helping us in the early days with such diverse tasks as ordering heating oil and meeting the mayor, both of which were new experiences for us. All the friendships we have made since arriving have made living here even more special than I had envisaged. On top of that, our village is beautiful and I still smile every time we pass the lake not really believing our luck to live in such a lovely place. Knowing we had managed to ‘get by’ each holiday with our somewhat limited French, surely it wouldn’t take us too long to learn the language? How wrong could we be. Even now, after three years, our French is not awful but is a long way from where it should be. One lasting memory I have of those first few weeks was a conversation with a Syrian family who were also new to the village and also learning to speak French. After a short conversation, we parted with neither side having any real idea what the other had said. I then realised that we both spoke at least a little English and it would have been easier to try that than the strange mix of hand gestures, smiles and pidgin-French we had used. Fête days seem to play a part in our lives. Halloween 2017 heralded two new arrivals to our home. The village cats seemed to know our land and had, for a few years, delivered their young in various places around the garden. That afternoon we had taken great delight in watching the antics of two tiny kittens playing around the base of a large bush from which mum was surely keeping a close eye on them. That night, several passing drivers stopped to ‘rescue’ the same tiny kittens from certain death on the road. These two had somehow travelled the 50m or so from the relative safety of their bush and had been found huddled on the edge of the road. The rescuers assumed that these three to four week old cuties belonged to us.

The night the new kittens ‘arrived’

After the third time of returning them to the bush, and having searched in vain for any sign of their mum, we decided that either the traffic or the cold weather would certainly kill them and so we took them in ‘just for the night’.

Over the coming days, they moved from a box in the lounge to a bedroom of their own (to keep them away from our other two cats) and from overnight guests to beloved members of our family. Weeks of feeds, spaced four to six hours apart, and making up ‘bottles’ each day followed, A week after arrival something we had not had to do for about 25 years. During this time, all our windows were being replaced. Asking the French fitter to carefully work around these tiny rescued animals made me look like the crazy English cat lady I’m sure. More than two years later, they no longer have their own bedroom, no longer require nightly feeds but still rule the house along with their two English ‘cousins’. After a couple of happy years here, and just at the point that we started to feel that a wider social circle would be nice, we were introduced to the world of Boule en Bois. For the uninitiated, this is a very French mix of lawn bowls and pétanque played with wooden bowls on a narrow, sandy surface. Arm waving and shouting at your teammates, while common, is not mandatory but the glass of wine after each game seems to be. Aside from the game itself, which I enjoy enormously, it is a great social event pretty much every weekend of the summer (usually) though I don’t think I will ever quite get used to la bise or understand the associated etiquette (is it one or two kisses on the cheek). Despite my initial trepidation, every person we have met while playing has been welcoming and friendly. It is a lovely feeling when people begin to recognise you and you start to feel part of a group with a shared interest. Sadly, being unable to play for possibly the whole of this season, any hope of improving my game is fading fast much to the dismay of our captain! Our life was surely near perfect. We spent our days working on the house and garden, at a relatively modest pace, interspersed with hobbies and trips to see friends and family. I particularly love the time I can spend cross-stitching, something I sadly had little time for in the UK. Then came COVID-19, confinement and the announcement that ‘The DSM’ magazine was looking for a new owner. We had found it so helpful and an interesting source of local information throughout our time here that its potential disappearance seemed a real shame. We realised that if we took over running the magazine, not only would we meet more people and learn more about the area in which we live, we’d also be giving ourselves a challenge which, on reflection, might be a good thing for us. Tony would bring to bear his computer skills and I would rekindle my bookkeeping and office practices from years gone by. With this mix of skills surely producing a magazine couldn’t be that hard … how wrong we were and let me take this opportunity to ask forgiveness of those who have received emails they should not have received or not received those they should have. Tony would also like to apologise for any speeling mistokes in the magazine. There is now a good excuse for us to not worry about the length of the grass or the height of the ironing pile (not that we really worried very much before). A new challenge? Challenge accepted.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 23

Health, Beauty & Fitness Everyday Yoga for Everyone Moving out of lockdown

by Rebecca Novick

As we return to some normal activities after the artificial constraints of the confinement, we might find that we feel over-cautious, reluctant, perhaps we’ve become a bit too used to hibernation. After all, the messages that our nervous system has been receiving have been ones of fear and danger. While staying sensible and cautious, we now also need to act on messages of optimism and exploration. For that, we may find we need to shift our energy. Pranayama can be a powerful energy booster to help move those stagnant energies that can get stuck like poor irrigation, and get the life rhythms going again. Prana is the vital energy, while yama means modulation or regulation. Ten minutes of Pranayama is like giving your body a spring clean. It works like cleaning out a dirty hose pipe so you can water the garden more effectively and bring life to the drooping plants.

Looking for an English speaking business in France? Find one on

In the first weeks of lockdown, while I was no longer able to teach the film class I had come to India for, I remained pretty active, writing frequently, doing tons of yoga, researching different practices and making YouTube videos. But then I began to droop. Monsoon came early, which in India, produces its own kind of lockdown. Inbetween the rains, the air is so muggy and humid that it seems to suck your energy right out of the pores. The clouds are oppressively low and the sun disappears for weeks at a time. The rain is so intense it falls like shutters, closing everything inside. There is so much water vapour in the air that breathing is like inhaling through a sponge. Wearing a mask on top of this is almost unbearable. Commerce slows down, bacteria multiplies, and strange unnamed sicknesses of the stomach and head are easily passed around. Mornings resist early risings with the smothering effort of a mild hangover. I have kept up my yoga practice more or less steadily during this time, but it has been Pranayama that has been my secret motivator on the days I get low. Dropping the breath down, engaging the diaphragm, pulling air into the conical base of the lungs, processing oxygen, and exhaling so long that the space left makes inhaling feels like you are the wilted rose and your breath is the water of life itself. You can find a number of Pranayama practices for raising energy and for calming the mind on my YouTube channel.

Respect yourself, explore yourself. For more information email: or follow Rebecca on 24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

Our Furry Friends hope association charity shops helping animals in need

café • bric à brac • books dvds & cds • clothes • furniture

hope 79 • sauzé-vaussais

17 route de civray 79190 sauzé-vaussais open every thursday & 1st sunday of each month, 10am - 4pm

@ • Good quality donations of clothes, books and bric-à-brac are always welcome • • N°RNA W792002789

Poppy & Ruby Two darling little sisters, abandoned &andbrought to us. They are vaccinated, micro-chipped, sterilised and tested and waiting patiently for someone to adopt them. If you would like to come and say hello to them or any of our other darling little cats waiting for adoption please contact us either by Facebook Messenger or email (thefunnyfarmrescue@gmail. com) Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884.

Smokey Short legs, boy, aged 18 months. This nice little chap, 15 kilos, is looking for a loving home. He is friendly with dogs, cats and is good with children. A little shy at first meeting, he is friendly and loves cuddles. Smokey is also home trained and fostered in 37. He is microchipped, vaccinated against rabies and neutered.

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

Take a Break - SOLUTIONs - P.20 Easy Crossword: Across: 1. stupid 4. debate 8. awful 9. hatchet 10. pride 11. richard 12. stimulant 15. operate 16. adapt 17. fusilli 18. lindy 19. league 20. cherry Down: 2. thwart 3. pound sterling 5. backhand drive 6. theory 7. charcuterie 13. spouse 14. spider Toughie Crossword: Across: 4. eve 7. untimely 8. goad 9. one level 10. tick 11. tendon 14. timely 15. yester 17. jurist 19. anal 20. calendar 23. sten 24. neap tide 25. eft Down: 1. anon 2. till 3. heaven 4. eyelet 5. egg timer 6. calculus 9. oft 12. eternity 13. date line 16. recent 17. julian 18. tor 21. nuts 22. aldi Brain Gym: 1. A pack of cards 2. Five - each daughter has the same brother 3. DOZENS (remove S to leave DOZEN). 4. NOON 5. A stapler 6. 13112221 (Each sequence of numbers is a verbal representation of the sequence before it. Thus, starting with 1, the next sequence would be ‘one one’, or ‘11.’. That sequence is followed by ‘two one’, or ‘21’, and so on and so forth) 7a. Top Secret 7b. Middle Age Spread.

contact ‘The DSM’ Call Tony or Lynne on 07 68 35 45 18 Monday - Friday: 9am - 1pm & 2pm - 6pm

Caline Caline came to us with her kittens, she is now ready for adoption, she is vaccinated, sterilised, micro chipped & tested negative. She is a sweet loving cat. please contact us via Facebook or email or visit us on Wednesdays between 11am-4pm If you are interested in adopting her

Le Grand Beaupuits 79200 St Germain de Longue Chaume on the D19. Open every Wednesday from 11am - 4pm. Cafe and shop plus lots of cats

Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 25


by Howard Needs

The Mid Pyrenees – Laruns - Vultures


fter a rather disturbing period of limited social activity with a degree of risk to health together with the change of management of The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, I was glad to get a mail from Tony Wigmore saying that he could accept articles for the August issue of ‘The DSM’. In this article I am returning to the holiday trips we have made to the Pyrenees, coloured or driven as always by our own interests. We had never made a run down the length of the Pyrenees, and we decided that this would be our holiday for 2019. This would allow me to achieve an old ambition to visit the Louron valley, which is known for its churches with medieval wall paintings protected from the vicissitudes of time by their isolation. It is an easy run from where we live to the Pyrenees, and we arrived in the beginning of the afternoon, allowing us to visit the local tourist office in the town of Laruns, which was to be our base for the next few days. I had already found that there was a ‘Falaise aux Vautours’ close by but wanted to know about the possibility of getting close to the vulture roosting places, so I could take photos. The woman at the information counter did not know about that, but she informed us that one of the park rangers would be taking a party of secondary school students to a vulture feeding place and that we could go up with them. We found the ranger at the appointed place and waited for the bus with the teens to turn up. He suggested that we should go up into the hills with him in his car, rather than walk with the group. This we did, and after a long climb on an unmade track, we came to an open place and got out. He said that he would go back and meet the teens walking up and then asked my wife whether she would mind trying to attract the vultures with a piece of meat, which he provided, together with a grimy plastic glove. “Just wave it around and they will soon come”. He returned with the teens, and mywife, Martina, was still waving the meat around in the air, but no vultures were to be seen. The ranger took over but, despite a more expert hand, we did not see any birds that evening. Disappointing to a degree for us but more so for the teenagers who were visiting as a part of a school study trip. The ranger was, however, able to show us, a little farther up the track, an enclosed area where the local farmers could legally deposit dead carcasses for the birds to scavenge. It was a bone yard, with bones scattered all over it – and well used. On the way back down the hillside, he stopped the car and showed us two stones with marks on them, used to sharpen knives in the distant past. A bit farther on, we got out the car and walked up to a small ridge, where he showed us a grouping of stone circles, each with a diameter of some four to five metres, such as can be found in the UK and in Brittany. I thought that they were the remains of hut circles but he said that they were actual stone circles. But whereas in the UK and Brittany, stone circles are isolated (such as those found on the trade routes in the Lake District), here there must have been 13 or 14 of them. Later, research on the Internet showed that there are more concentrations of circles in this valley and that

there is good evidence for ritual, perhaps funerary, use. The next day, we called in at the visitor centre La Falaise aux Vautours to see if we could get more information about getting close to the birds. We gathered that it would be a long and arduous climb for people of our age carrying a full load of cameras and a good (i.e. heavy) tripod. The centre itself comprised an exhibition area and projection of continuous video from remotely controlled cameras directed towards the roosting places and nests of the birds. Interesting and well set up, but not what I was after, unfortunately. Later, by pure chance, we came into contact with a man who went up into the hills most mornings to count and identify the birds, attracting them with meat, and we were told we could arrange to accompany him. I could, and have, written long about that morning but will limit to a short piece where I tried to capture the essence of what we saw and let the photos tell their own tale.

A Magical Morning On a sunny September morning, we went up into the woods at the base of the crags of a Pyrenean valley. Our chance-met companion did this most mornings to visit a feeding site for vultures to count and identify the birds. Our desire was to photograph them. He strode before us carrying meat and bone – we tagged along behind through the sun-speckled woodlands. We traversed a slope and came to a sunny opening in the brush wood with a view over the valley and the works of man. Behind us were the roosting crags and specks in the sky. Our companion pointed out birds high in a tree far away. “They know I am here, and they will come to us in a while”, he said, as he quietly unpacked his cameras and birding telescope. We saw them flying high above the crags behind, and then one by one they circled away and appeared again, distant, high over the valley floor before us, swooping on wings, motionless. We waited, and they came descending until they were lower than us and then – wings curled forward, tail fanned down, head outstretched and clawed feet reaching forward – they ascended the last metres of the valley side, losing speed and landing amongst their kindred. They squabbled in their usual vulture fashion over the food, and the tugging and tearing only helped divide it. Peaceful and harmless, they could be fed by hand, not all fifty but a few. No smell. Their white ruffs immaculate, they fed and, afterwards, groomed; one slept for a while. One by one, they left us, seeking thermals, and soon we saw them soaring joyously again on the currents of air above their craggy roosts. It was a privilege to have been with them and to understand a little of their place in the scheme of things, and to dwell upon ours. The memory will long remain with us. Photos by Howard Needs

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

Arts & Craft SIMPLE CROSS-STITCH PROJECTS I have enjoyed cross-stitching for many years and have used pre-packed kits containing everything you need to complete projects ranging from Christmas cards to wall hangings. Cross-stitch is the oldest form of embroidery and has been used as a method of decoration since ancient times. Indeed, it is known that crossstitch embroidery thrived during the Chinese Tang dynasty (618906 AD) and it may well have spread to the western world via the trade route known as the Silk Road. The beginning of what we now think of as cross-stitch is known as ‘blackwork’. It was brought to England in the 16th century by Catherine of Aragon and was created using black sheep’s wool on white linen. The modern version of blackwork is still popular today but the most common method used these days is known as “counted“ where a design is recreated from a gridded chart. In this short series, to be featured over the next few issues, I will provide you with some simple designs suitable for both the novice or more experienced sewer. These patchwork projects are perfect for handmade cards etc. Each design in the series will be same size, allowing you to combine them to make your own individual design. I have provided a chart using my choice of colours, but you can easily choose your own. All designs will be sown onto fabric known as ‘aida’. Aida is woven with the threads grouped into bundles to form a square pattern which creates obvious holes. There are many types of aida, but for our projects we will be using 14-count aida. The term ‘14-count’ refers to the fact that there are 14 holes/squares per inch of the fabric. It is the most common fabric for cross-stitch and a great choice for beginners because it is stiff and easy to handle with clearly defined holes.

by Lynne Wigmore

- As you stitch, the thread will tend to get twisted so, occasionally, let your needle and thread hang freely to let it unwind. - Count carefully and before long you’ll see your pattern take shape. Then, count again. The important part is that the stitches on your fabric match the pattern of squares on the chart. - Don’t be afraid to unpick! I have spent many evenings undoing the work from the night before but as the fabric already has holes in it, you won’t cause any damage. My designs Each of the patchwork designs in this series measures 15x15 squares. Remember to include an outer border of at least five squares around each design. Note that if you choose to combine several patches into a larger piece, you will need to recentre the whole design to locate the centre stitch. The colours used in this issue will be incorporated into the designs to follow although a few additional colours may be added.

Cross-stitch charts show each stitch as a colour block, symbol or number. There are several different stitches used in cross-stitch but we will just use the two main ones. 1) A full cross stitch, shown by a full square on the chart. 2) A back stitch which adds detail and definition and is indicated by coloured lines on the chart. There is a key on the chart showing the letter/number and the corresponding shade of thread to be used. There are several manufacturers of embroidery thread, each using their own system of shade numbers. I personally prefer DMC threads as they are widely available (even in France) and because I think there is a broader choice of colours. If you are new to sewing, I suggest you watch some of the many available video tutorials on YouTube. To help you along, here are some of my top tips. TOP TIPS - To stop any fraying around the edges of the aida, bind them with masking tape or, on a larger piece of work, edge the fabric with bias binding. - Each completed stitch (a cross) should ‘face’ the same direction. i.e. if you start with bottom left to top right and then top left to bottom right, do ALL the stitches that way. - Always start stitching from the middle of the fabric. An easy way to find this is to fold the fabric in four and then press lightly with your fingers. On larger pieces of work, you might find it useful to mark the two centre lines with a row of tacking stitch that can be removed later. You will find that all charts mark the centre for you.

Next month I will give you a couple of different charts to work on.

Happy sewing .... Lynne The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020| 27


Sports Car & Motorcycle Specialist Restoration

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Gazelles Update

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with Helen Tait-Wright

August 2020 Update. We were excited to meet up with our local Gazelles after the lockdown and find out what the outlook is for their rally. The first major news is that the rally dates have been moved for 2021 as a result of the 2020 rally being postponed, so the girls won’t be heading off to the Sahara until September 2021. “That seems a long time to wait” says Sue “but we have a lot to get in place before then”. Helen continued “It will mean that we are competing at a time of the year with much higher temperatures than there were last time I went, so it will be interesting to see how that affects the event”.

again” says Helen. “We have access to two great off-road terrains quite close by and it is so important to build on our working team relationship in the sort of conditions we will be facing on the rally.”. With Sue’s navigational skills coming from sailing, the sensations of off-roading are all new to her, but she is loving every moment! There are also a whole list of modifications planned for Priscilla, the girls’ trusty Defender, and the team are feeling positive and looking in good shape going forward! With a busy summer ahead for Sue with holiday lets, and Helen, Priscilla and husband Chris heading off to Georgia in October to participate in the ‘Rally Adventure Georgia’, it seems that they won’t be planning much in the way of local events until later in the year; but you never know where you might see them in the meantime!

Of course the lockdown has meant major changes to the girls’ fundraising schedule, with the cancellation and postponement of events, but they are in good spirits. “We have kept in contact with our existing and potential sponsors during the lockdown” explains Sue “and we have been boosted by their continued support”. When we spoke, Helen and Sue were excited to tell us that they are on the verge of announcing a principle sponsor for the event, with talks at an advanced stage, but the final deal has yet to be confirmed so we have our fingers crossed for them and hope to bring you that news soon. “The other great thing is that we are able to get out driving

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

Helen, Sue and Priscilla.

RANGE ROVER; FABULOUS AT 50 by Helen Tait-Wright


n 1970 a new car was presented to the world; the Range Rover. Marketed as ‘A car for all reasons’, as soon as it went on sale it caused a sensation and long waiting lists quickly formed to buy one. In the early 1970s British Leyland – the owner of Rover - was going through tumultuous times, and this was just what they needed to revive their fading fortunes. They had identified a gap in the market for a larger utility vehicle with the same off-road capabilities as their Land Rover models. “The idea was to combine the comfort and on-road ability of a Rover saloon with the off-road ability of a Land Rover. Nobody was doing it.” The Range Rover had a V8 engine and was engineered for amazing off road capability, actually surpassing the other Land Rover models of the time, as it featured long travel coil springs giving greater axle articulation. Construction was modelled on the Series Land Rover with a steel box frame hung with aluminium panels. It was the first vehicle to deliver permanent 4 Wheel Drive and feature a split tailgate, clamshell bonnet and a continuous waistline. The design was so acclaimed that the Range Rover was shown in the Louvre in Paris as an ‘exemplary work of industrial design’. Not many cars you can say that about! The three door original Range Rover was not designed as a luxurytype vehicle. While certainly upmarket compared to preceding Land Rover models, the early Range Rovers had fairly basic, utilitarian interiors with vinyl seats and plastic dashboards that were designed to be washed down with a hose. Convenience features such as power steering, carpeted floors, air conditioning, cloth/leather seats, and wooden interior trim were fitted later. Rumour has it that the boot space being trimmed and the tools covered, for example, came about after there was concern from the Palace that the latter might injure a Corgi… !! In 1972, specifically modified Range Rovers made history when they were used for the British Trans-Americas Expedition led by John Blashford-Snell. This was the first vehicle-based expedition to travel the Americas north-to-south and included the the first-ever successful crossing of the world’s most inhospitable terrain: the Darién Gap, a 250mile stretch of swampy, malaria-ridden jungle populated by deadly snakes and vampire bats. No bridges, no roads, no tracks!

The first generation was known as the Range Rover until almost the end of its run, when Land Rover introduced the name “Range Rover Classic” to distinguish it from its successors. After 11 years on the market, the Range Rover Classic was made available as a four-door vehicle, giving greater options to the vehicle’s ever-growing fan base. We are lucky enough to own a three door Range Rover Classic, (Rufus) and he is an exceptionally capable car, but the V8 engine is a bit thirsty, so he definitely wont be joining us on long range adventures! Since those early days the Range Rover has had three further generations - the second being introduced in 1994, the third in 2001 and the fourth and present generation in 2012. Today the Range Rover and its variants are marketed and designed as luxury SUVs, and have moved away from the functional utility vehicle it started life as. One of the modern derivatives, the Velar, has a name which links back to the pre production models though. In order to keep the prototype for the first ever Range Rover a closely guarded secret, the designers and engineers behind the revolutionary new vehicle gave the top secret prototype the name ‘Velar’, derived from the Italian word ‘velare’ meaning to veil or cover. In fact the first 26 prototypes were fitted with a badge of the same name to disguise their identity. Random fact of the day! I could argue that the modern version is veiling the fact that it is just a rebadged Jaguar F Pace, but I will probably be shot down in flames. Although now appealing to a different audience, the Range Rover has always been in a class of its own, and in this, its 50th Anniversary year, we had expected to attend various events in France with Rufus but the current world situation has put paid to that. But we can still raise a glass to the Range Rover on its 50th birthday! Cheers!

The Trans-Americas expedition was not only the most ambitious road trip in history, but also the ultimate baptism of fire for the newborn 4x4. The Range Rover also has a motorsports pedigree, it was used to win the 1979 inaugural ParisDakar Rally and also the 1981 edition, completing a race distance in each case of approx. 10,000km.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020| 29

Food & Drink


by John Sherwin

Summertime, and the Drinkin’ is Easy

wo things are sure in these uncertain times: one, in this merry month of August, the nation’s arteries will be clogged with camper vans; and two, I will be in happy, selfimposed exile in my garden avoiding the whole bloody lot of them while drinking the odd glass or three (always stick with odd numbers) of vin de soif. I suppose it’s a kind of lockdown, but I prefer ‘lock-in’, a word and concept introduced to me by a Scottish publican in St Andrews. I was visiting his daughter at the time so I really had no choice but to join in. You do understand that, don’t you? Closing time came, the doors were locked, but lo! there was still a throng within. What to do? Well, in the phlegmatic, practical way of the Scots, normal service was resumed. With the doors bolted we had no fear of a visit from the constabulary, doubly so as most of them were happily locked in with the rest of us without any apparent appreciation of the irony. But I digress. Vin de soif or ‘thirst wine’ was originally known as ‘vin de travail’, ‘work wine’. After a hard day in the fields you needed to whet your whistle, and plonk was a much safer bet than untreated water rife with latent disease. Plus it was more fun. In these more cosseted days we might call it ‘easy drinking’ wine. But what does that mean? First, it has to be at least pleasant, something you actually like as opposed to what might be in vogue. Then, I would suggest, relatively low in alcohol and happy to be served on the cool side of room temperature. What it’s not is a heavy red or an unctuous white, both being fine at the right time and in the right place, but in my summery garden, not really. I pause a moment to address the issue of temperature. If the bottle has been chilled then the first glass will be fine, but Nature takes its course and it’s not long before you end up with tepid which means flabby, and no one likes flabby. You could keep bottles in the fridge but that would mean inconvenient trolling to and fro whenever a top-up was needed. You could use an ice bucket or bag but the bottle dribbles when wielded, and not even summer is an excuse for sloppy service. There are ceramic or terracotta coolers but they’re clunky, I can’t bear the scraping sound, and I’m not convinced they’re effective. The vine, as ever, gives you all you need: simply freeze individual grapes and have them available in an ice bucket to be added to a glass when needed – coolant without dilution.

3. Roussanne. A grape variety which had almost disappeared by the 1950s, now creeping back into fashion. It’s most often encountered in a double act with Marsanne but has much to say for itself under a single spotlight. Glinting gold, aromas of exotic fruit and flowers, feeling full and round in the mouth which it leaves with a slight hint of bitter regret – what’s not to like? The best examples come from the St Joseph area of the Rhone. 4. Rosé. Kept you waiting, didn’t I? Of course rosé has to make an appearance, it’s the go-to bottle for barbecues and idle poolside bitching with (or about) Noreen from Niort, right? Well, hold your horses. There’s an awful lot of middling to nondescript rosé out there, the producers doling it out in container-loads because we all buy in to the barbecue/bitching thing. It doesn’t have to be that sad way. I would point you in two directions for good rosé. The first, and classically, Provence. Wines from Bandol and Tavel (the latter being the only 100% rosé AOC in France) are consistently top quality: on the pricey end of the rosé spectrum, yes, but value for money. Secondly, and closer to home, the rosés from Mareuil-sur-Lay have been the most celebrated Vendée wines for a long time, and rightly so. Provence quality at a cheaper price – I rest my case. 5. Beaujolais. There seem to be far more people against Beaujolais than for it, and I never understood why. Those of you who have stuck with me since issue #2 of this August publication will recall that I’m very much pro. It’s delightful on its own (slightly chilled – keep those frozen grapes handy) and the perfect match with charcuterie and the ubiquitous grillades. To be ultra-safe, stick with any of the ten crus – Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Cote de Brouilly, Fleurie, Juliénas, Morgon, Moulin-à-Vent, Regnié and St Amour. At all costs stay clear of Beaujolais Nouveau. 6. But my final, personal choice, and here I go off the French piste, would be a well chilled vinho verde from Portugal, specifically Casal Garcia (10% alc). It’s a simple, acidic white with a hint of residual CO2 giving the slightest tingle. Perfect with grilled sardines, chips, tomato and onion salad, and good crusty bread. I speak of extended lunches in old Macau with old friends. Old Macau has long gone, concreted over and even more casino-ed than before, but the friends are still around and it only takes a sip and a glimpse of the distinctive blue label to assemble them all in my lock-in head. Even the simplest wine becomes grand when it’s loaded with memories. Happy lock-in!

So here are some humble suggestions, in no particular order. 1. Clairette de Die. Die is a small town in the southern Rhone, clairette a grape variety which, when mixed with muscat produces a slightly sweet sparkler, weighing in around 8% alc. Well chilled, it’s great on its own or with fruit salad. Join the vanguard of the Anything But Brut movement! 2. Muscadet. What better definition of summer than a crisp, dry Muscadet (12% alc) rubbing shoulders with a seafood platter? Always go for Muscadet sur Lie, meaning that the wine has fermented and matured on its lees, i.e. dead yeast cells. This adds complexity which can range from white fruits to citrus. The best examples should be ‘angular’, that is with straight, clean lines and no hint of vagueness – a well-ironed white shirt, striding along a bracing beach, cracking in the breeze.

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

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

Welcome Back

by Jacqueline Brown


ello to you all once again, and I hope you are all well and coping; that was a funny few months wasn’t it? Lots has changed since I wrote my April piece, including a change in ownership here at The Deux-Sèvres Monthly. Welcome to Tony and Lynne, and au revoir to Anna and Stephen, best of luck to you all in your new adventures. I’ve missed sharing my monthly musings here while the world took a pause, but I certainly haven’t been idle. Oh no, in fact, it was quite the wake-up call for me. One minute life was quiet, just me, the dog and the old birds in the orchard to look after. I cooked what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat it and easily slipped into a solitary routine I thought I was happy with. Ed and girlfriend Pearl were settled into university life in Poitiers together and Adrian was back and forth between France and the UK, with more emphasis on the away, at work. Then all of a sudden, I’m thrown into being a full-time wife and Mum once more and the first hurdle was wracking my brain to come up with a variety of meals, so we could enjoy something different every day. The washing machine seemed to go on daily and as we came up with a list of long-forgotten jobs to keep the lockdown boredom away, the Dyson almost melted, and all the weeding gave me blisters. It wasn’t all bad though, I rediscovered my love of baking and always having a homemade cake in the tin was an easy habit to fall into, and my love/hate relationship with lasagne became a full-on love affair. There was also a real sense of inner peace and calm that came about by knowing we were all together, safe and healthy. Having my nest full and spending quality time as a family, without the distractions of airport runs, work, deadlines and appointments was priceless. When the diary began to fill and the plane trails returned to the once clear skies above, I couldn’t help but feel a little sad.

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The vegetable garden and orchard benefited from the extra manpower available, even if the weather has sometimes worked against us. We tamed the weeds before planting out the courgettes and tomatoes but took the risk to do so just before the feast days of the Ice Saints in the middle of May. The weather had been warm and mild so the sudden shock of cold nights and cool days to my cosseted seedlings, was almost too much for them and I won’t be making that mistake again. We are now harvesting the courgettes and watching the pumpkins and butternut squash swell, but the tomatoes have struggled with the damp and we are keeping our fingers crossed that blight won’t ruin them all. It has however, been a fantastic year for plums, the trees struggling to hold the weight of the fruits, and jam season has begun. Email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020| 31

Technology Heat and Your Technology


by Ross Hendry

uly and August are usually our hottest months and it is during these times that our PCs, tablets and mobile phones suffer. We had a taste of heat at the end of May and, if that is what is to come, it will be a very hot summer. Whilst it is great for our gardens and visitors, if we are able to have some this year, it can affect your PCs, both laptops and desktops, and will even affect your tablet and smart phone. The electricity used to power your computer is what causes the problem. As you know, most PCs have cooling features built in, usually in the form of fans connected to heat sinks that draw the heat away from the processors by blowing cool air over the heat sinks. Better PCs will have automatic cut-off features built in that will shut down the PC in the event that it gets too hot to protect itself.

Usually the most we notice of this is a rather noisy fan or feeling some exceptionally hot air being ejected by the PC or laptop. This is because we operate our PCs in an environment that is comfortable for us to work in and our PCs heat regulation systems are designed to work in this type of temperature. A range of 18°C (64°F) to 21°C (70°F) is probably ideal with a maximum comfortable room temperature at 24°C (75°F). Last year we saw ambient temperatures soar to well over 35°C (95°F), this is when our PC start to suffer and you will notice the cooling fans are running much faster to attempt to bring the PCs operating temperature within range.

Whichever type of PC you use it is essential that you keep the airflow running efficiently, so make sure that you give the fans and air grills a good clean at least once a year. Do this more frequently if you use your PC in a very dusty environment or you have pets. Computers suck in air almost all of the time they are running and that will include anything that can float in the air, especially pet hair which is very good at blocking the airways and collecting dust. With a PC you can remove the side to clean it and remove the dust etc. With a laptop it is not so easy so it is worth investing in a spray can of clean air known as an air duster. These may be used to clear the air paths and should also be used to keep the dust from the keyboard as this is where much of the heat in the laptop escapes and is designed as a vent. Finally, think about when and where you use your PC when it is very hot. I have noticed that the hottest part of the day in summer is between 4pm and 7pm. If you know your PC does not like the heat do not use it at this time. In the same way, if you have a laptop, move to the coolest room in the house to use it, I am sure it will be more pleasant for you as well.

Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 44 years experience in communications, computer technology and direct marketing (see advert below).

So what can we do to combat these problems? One of the most effective things is to review where you use your PC and where it is situated. For example, if it is a desktop or tower type of PC is there at least a couple of inches (50mm) all around the case to allow the air to flow freely; is there good ventilation in the room to allow the warm air to escape; is it in a cool part of the house? Laptops famously get very hot when used on your lap. They need the same consideration, i.e. room around them to dissipate the heat generated. So firstly please do not use one directly on your lap, use a tea tray or better still buy a purpose designed laptop tray with cooling built in (they start at around £10.00 if you buy online). Whatever you do, ensure that the air can flow all around the laptop and that the hot air ejected from it does not get immediately fed back in. Poor air flow will make the fans work even harder and will eventually result in the laptop switching itself off or, worse, overheating and damaging vital components.

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

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Building & Renovation

Support your local artisans and small businesses The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 33

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ome of you are sometimes put off by the high premium of top-up health insurance. You probably think that because you are in good health, there is no need for it. However, being in good health does not prevent an accident!! The cost of an ambulance is 1400€ and you only get 70% of it back (unless it is life threatening in which case it is reimbursed 100%) so, it could be wise to look at a top-up. Did you know that Allianz offers a cover that is basically half the price of any normal top-up with the hospital only cover? 1) What is the cover: Basically, quite good in regards to hospital as it is 400% cover and also up to 150€ per day for an individual room. In France, you either share the room with someone else or you can choose to be on your own like an hotel room (with your own bathroom). Note that the cover does not guarantee you will be able to get the room, it simply covers the cost if you can get one. Usually, you can always get one in a private hospital (Clinique). It also covers things outside the hospital such as ambulance, x-rays, scans and blood tests. Hospitalisation: General running costs such as cleaning, electricity, food, etc.

Whatever the cost

Excess (participation forfaitaire in French)

Whatever the cost

Surgeon and medical team fees


Hospital daily fees (cost of care and medical equipment, etc.)


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Up to 150 €/day





Extra bed in the room to stay with patient (Up to 20 days)

40 €



Outside hospital: Nursing fees


X-rays, scans, ultrasound, MRI, and medical technical acts


Analyses and laboratories exams (blood tests)


2) Surcharge: 100% top-up cover is 100% of the price set by the French Health System, but the medical professionals are selfemployed and are allowed to apply a surcharge. It is mostly done by consultants, surgeons, private hospitals, dentists, etc. Example: the French Health System set price for a hip replacement is 1000€ (not the actual figure, just an example), then you only get reimbursed 800€ (80%) and because the surgeon likes to go golfing at weekends (joke) and 1000€ is not enough for him, he can charge 3000€ therefore, you would be 2200€ (instead of just 200€) out of pocket! Therefore, a cover with your top up at 300% would cover that surcharge. The Allianz hospital cover is 400%.

38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

by Isabelle Want

3) Extras: With Allianz top-up, you also get extras like free home cleaning or even someone to look after your pets, etc. if you are in hospital for more than three days. 4) How does it work if you are hospitalised: When you are hospitalised, the hospital will contact Allianz, so Allianz set up ‘une prise en charge’ meaning Allianz and CPAM will pay instead of you (just as well as the surgery could cost an arm and a leg!). The only thing you would have to pay for when you come out is the food, the individual room and telephone or TV bill. Simply pass it on to us for reimbursement or send it directly to Allianz santé ( 5) What it does not cover: Well, mostly it does not cover things outside hospitalisation such as dentists, opticians, glasses, GPs, consultants, medicines, physios. However, do note that you are covered a certain percentage of the cost by CPAM (French health system) for those. For instance, the GP visit is covered 70% (GP visit cost 25€). 6) How much does it cost: It mostly depends on your age. But note that if you are self-employed you get an extra discount which is not in my examples. For someone of 85 years old it is about 60€ per month. Someone of 70, around 45€ per month. Someone of 55, around 30€ per month, etc. Basically the younger you are the cheaper! Note that if you already have an Allianz contract with our office, there is an additional 10% discount. And if you take out the contract as a couple, a 5% discount. To get a quote, simply email me your full name, postal address, occupation and date of birth. CONCLUSION: Feel free to contact me if you wish information on any of the above or to get a free quote for top up health insurance. The first two months are free in the first year at the moment. 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 Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterps. Don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subject such as Funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc…

No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

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

Email: Visit our website:

Ask Amanda

by Amanda Johnson

What changes in circumstances typically prompt the need for a financial review? As we welcome Lynne and Tony as the new owners of The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine and wish them well in their new venture, I can look back on the past eight years I have been writing my ‘Ask Amanda’ column and conclude that changes in personal circumstances often lead to changes in financial needs. Regular financial reviews are especially important. Common changes I see are: Changes with work Changing your job and where or how you work can bring changes to your income and expenditure. Ensuring that your finances are meeting your needs in terms of tax efficiency and taking advantage of any beneficial investment products can help many people undertaking a career change. Planning for retirement As you approach retirement, portfolios geared towards growth may be better focused more on an income strategy. Changes in health One of the key areas which cause an upheaval in life and can change financial requirements is health. Reviewing your finances can ensure that income lost through poor health is mitigated where possible and a financial review can identify how well you are protected from inheritance tax liabilities, should the worst happen. Changes in legislation The French government regularly reviews and amends tax laws in France. As a French resident, it is important to have confidence that your investments and pension planning are both efficient and compliant. If you have any concerns or questions regarding your investment portfolio, now is a good time to speak to your financial adviser via telephone or video conferencing. 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 you. We do not charge for our reviews, reports or recommendations. Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail:

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Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46

Wi t h C a r e , Yo u P r o s p e r TSG Insurance Ser vices S.A.R.L. • Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 Paris • R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) « Société de Cour tage d’assurances » « Intermédiaire en opération de Banque et Ser vices de Paiement » Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 – « Conseiller en investissements financiers », référencé sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 39

Is time running out for tax-free pension transfers?

by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks


here are only a few months left until the Brexit transition period ends on 31st December. Those lawfully settled in France before then will be able to enjoy uninterrupted residence rights. But with no certainty from 2021, there are still many unknowns, including regarding pensions. If you are already retired or planning to retire in France, now is the time to review your pension options before the rules potentially change.

Overseas transfers Transferring to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) can consolidate several UK pensions under one tax-efficient roof and unlock benefits such as multi-currency and estate planning flexibility. Currently, expatriates in the EU can transfer to a QROPS tax-free, but there are two key situations where tax is payable. First, if combined UK pension benefits exceed the UK’s lifetime allowance (LTA) – currently £1,073,100 – you would face a 25% tax penalty on anything transferred over the limit, even as a non-UK resident. Once in a QROPS, funds never attract LTA charges again. Second, if you transfer to a QROPS based outside the EU/EEA, the UK applies a 25% ‘overseas transfer charge’ on the whole amount. While expatriates can escape this tax by transferring to an EU/EEA-based QROPS, this may change with Brexit. A closing tax-free window? As Brexit eliminates Britain’s EU commitments, the Treasury gains more scope to recoup revenue from UK nationals abroad. Many expect this will prompt wider penalties on pension transfers, even within the EU. The

legislation for the overseas transfer charge already includes the ability to capture all transfers – the government would just need to remove the EU/ EEA exclusion. Without a guarantee that tax-free transfers will continue, anyone considering transferring should act sooner rather than later – pension transfers can take several months. However, transferring is not appropriate for everyone, and differences between QROPS providers and jurisdictions can affect the benefits. Alternative investment structures could offer expatriates in France comparable benefits to QROPS, so take personalised, regulated advice. Pensions are likely to play an important part in your long-term financial security, so it is crucial that you only use a fully authorised and regulated provider. Too many people have lost retirement savings through pension scams or by reinvesting in failed, unregulated investments that offer no protection. Your adviser should take into account your circumstances, income requirements, goals and tolerance for risk – as well as the crossborder tax implications – to establish the right solution for you and your family. Even if transferring is not right for you, with so much uncertainty still ahead, now is the time to review your pension arrangements to secure your dream retirement 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 ticking clock? Transferring your UK pension into a QROPS can provide significant benefits. With the Brexit transition period set to end on 31 December 2020, time may be running out to do so without paying the 25% ‘overseas transfer charge’. The UK already imposes this tax on EU residents who transfer to QROPS outside the EU/EEA; after Brexit it could easily start charging EU transfers too.

Talk to the people who know

05 49 75 07 24

Pensions paperwork takes time, so do not risk leaving it too late. Contact our specialist advisers to find out if a QROPS is suitable for you, what the benefits are, and what you need to do now.


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

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Ref : VAS1386

Ref : VSA13921

137 150€

248 000€

Beautifully presented property with 4/5 bedrooms Agents fees 5.5%

Magnificent renovated house 4/6 bedrooms, pretty grounds. Agents fees 5.5%

Saint Pierre du Chemin


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HOMES WITH OFFICES A new style of living by Joanna Leggett


his year everyone has had to adapt their lifestyle and working style too. With the need to work from home many of us have had to re-purpose our living arrangements. It highlights the need for a dedicated office space where you can work undisturbed – especially if you’re likely to be busy with virtual meetings. In Deux-Sèvres we’re blessed with the size of homes – often they already provide the ideal home office, but if they don’t already have a library or dedicated bureau included, it’s usually simple to dedicate a peaceful space with good access to WiFi. Hopefully we won’t be confined at home again, but the options are opening up – in future you might well find yourself working from home one or even two days a week. Time to make it easy so you can ‘commute’ to work across a passageway and achieve necessary separation when you need it. We’ve picked three options currently on the market which could be perfect. Behind gated stone walls just outside St Martin de Sanzay is a (Leggett ref: 104991) beautifully renovated maison de maître. Immaculately renovated, this lovely family home even offers potential for B&B. Gracious living includes dining and drawing rooms as well as a great kitchen with laundry room and a boot room leading to the large wine cellar. Upstairs to five bedrooms where there’s also a large library/office perfect for working from home. Outside is a lovely swimming pool, landscaped gardens with

raised vegetable beds as well as various stone outbuildings – just 30km from Saumur and the Loire and 15km from Thouars with its fabulous market – it’s on the market for 439,900€. A more modern proposition is this highly flexible and spacious home (Leggett ref: 104925) south west of Bressuire in Courlay. Built in the 1960’s, but more recently extended, it even includes a lift, giving full wheelchair access. On the upper floor there’s already a study for work, two bedrooms and generously large living spaces including a conservatory and verandah to enjoy the lovely views over the countryside. At ground level are two more bedrooms and another living room with corner kitchen. Outside in the large immaculate grounds there’s a tennis court as well as large garages – recently reduced to 205,200€. Our third proposition is a charming country cottage style home just a couple of minutes from all the amenities of Sauzé Vaussais (Leggett ref: 113131). This pretty three bedroom home has an easy to manage south west facing garden. There’s a great feeling of space throughout the house, the living room looks over the garden while the long kitchen dining room has a fireplace with a woodburner, perfect for entertaining. The large, light, landing makes the perfect office space. 152,382€. Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at



€172,800 HAI

Ref. 112541 - Large, well maintained property with 9 bedrooms, outbuildings and private gardens. DPE C - agency fees included: 8% TTC to be paid by the buyer


€99,000 HAI

LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST Buying or selling a property? Contact us now!


€235,400 HAI


€129,710 HAI


€344,000 HAI

Ref. 112869 - 5 bedroom watermill with 3 acres of parkland garden and 2 private rivers. DPE D - agency fees included: 6% TTC to be paid by the buyer

Le Chillou

€41,600 HAI

Ref. 109860 - Renovated 3 bedroom house with

Ref. 109566 - Beautifully renovated 4 bedroom, 4

Ref. 113416 - Beautifully decorated 4 bedroom

Ref. 112844 - Traditional stone house for total

second house to convert. On outskirts of a village.

bathroom house with pool and lovely views.

property with a self-contained apartment.

renovation with garden and outbuildings.

DPE D - agency fees included: 10% TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE N/A - agency fees included: 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE ongoing - agency fees included: 9% TTC to be paid by the buyer

DPE N/A - agency fees to be paid by the seller

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42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020

Now Brewing! We are not yet open to the public but follow us or contact us for details of the markets & stores we will be appearing at very soon in & around Argentonnay. Â Au P'tit Brasseur D'Argentonnay Brasseur_Argentonnay Brasseur_Argentonnay 06 45 82 06 37 Simon & Rebecca Tippett - Au P'tit Brasseur D'Argentonnay. Le Breuil sous Argenton Siret - 882.595.184.00012

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, August 2020 | 43

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