The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - December 2022 Issue

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FREE / GRATUIT Issue 134, December 2022 English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas 800 WORDS SHORT STORY COMPETITION CHRISTMAS WITHOUT THE STRESS ALSO ... African Rally Challenge French Christmas Traditions Gardening in Winter Tips an hints to help you enjoy the day more PLUS : Take a Break, Bees, Recipes, Book Club and all the usual treats WHAT'S ON Christmas Events Near You Bulletin Board
Affordable UK Designs UPVC & Aluminium Double Glazing, Fitted Kitchens Free plan, design and costing throughout South-West France Other areas by arrangement UPVC windows, Doors & Conservatories in all colours and styles Aluminium and UPVC Bifold Doors Made to “A” Grade spec in French styles

Italmost seems hard to believe that only two years ago we were all in lockdown. Those of us who had plans for visiting family abroad, or having them visit us, had to make last second adjustments ... and do some shopping. Not sure we ever believed that a "new normal" would arrive but here it is. Just check out the What's On pages to see how many markets and events there are on this year. Whatever you are doing for Christmas, wherever you will be, have a wonderfully Merry Christmas and we will se you in the new year.

Tony & Lynne


Tel: Email: Website:

Bulletin Board 4 Technology 9 Take a Break 10 Food and Drink 12 A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres 16 Our Furry Friends 19 Travel 20 La Vie En France 22 Book Club 26 À La Carte 28 On The Road 32 Health, Beauty and Fitness 35 Home and Garden 38 Clubs and Associations 46 Building and Renovation 48 Property 54 Business and Finance 57

This Month's Advertisers

Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) 50

Affordable UK Designs (UPVC Double Glazing & Kitchens) 2

AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) 50

Alcoholics Anonymous 46

All Saints Vendée 4

Alpacas & Glamping, Sanzay 4

Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group 59

Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) 51

ARB French Property 54

Argentonnay Alpaca Farm (Christmas Event) 7

Association Violet 47

Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) 59

Beaux Villages Immobilier 56

BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 57

Blevins Franks Financial Management 58 Busy Bee (Cleaning Services) 45

Cherry Picker Hire (Tony Moat) 52

Chez Christie’s Tea Rooms 4

Chris Bassett Construction 50

Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) 51

Clean Sweep Chimney Services 53

Darren Lawrence 50

David Cropper (Stump Grinding) 45

DPS Services (Gardener / Handyman) 45

Escoval (English Speaking Church) 4

Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) 34

Glendee Property Services 48

Hallmark Electricité 48

Harrison Hair (Mobile Hairdresser) 36

H & R Building Services 49

Ian Coxen - Handyman with van 49

Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries 52

Jeff’s Metalwork 53

John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 34

Jon The Carpet Man 53

KJ Painting and decorating 51

KM Property Maintenance (Handyman) 49

KM Services 79 (Cleaning & Gardening) 45

La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) 45

Le Café, Civray 4

Leggett Immobilier 55

Leggett Immobilier (Recruitment) 54

LPV Technology (IT services) 9

Magic Renovations (Michael Glover) 49

Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction 50

Maximilien Newman-Legros - Massage Therapies 36

Michael Moore (Electrician) 48

Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) 48

ML Computers 9

Mr Fix It (Garden Maintenance) 45

Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) 49

Netball : Les Étoiles de Clessé 46

Poitiers Biard Airport 2

Projet Piscine 52

RJC Pool Services 2

Rob Berry (Plasterer) 49

Robert Fletcher (RT Construction) 50

Robert Mann (Upholstery) 44

Royal British Legion (Bordeaux & South West) 46

Simon the Tiler 51

Smart Moves - Removals & Storage 34

Stéphane Informatique (PC Repairs) 9

Stephen Shaw (Painter) 51

Steve Coupland (Plumbing and renovations) 49

Strictly Roofing 53

Sunny Sky Cars 34

The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 34

The Fixer - Rick Denton 22

The French House Satellite TV 48

The Trading Post (International Food & Drink) 15

Tim Électricien 79 48

Tony Seeley (Property Services) 49

Val Assist (Translation Services) 22

Vienne Tree Services 45

Welcome Echiré (French/English Group) 4

Zena Sabestini (Translation Services) 22

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
© Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 2022. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, we accept no liability for errors or omissions. The opinions expressed by individual authors do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. While we make every effort to ensure that businesses advertising with us are reputable and appropriately registered, you should verify that any 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 Wigmore EI. Crédits photos : Pixabay sauf mention contraire. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Siret: 830 076 345 00016. ISSN: 2115-4848
dsm134-dec22 v18 Online
4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 C h r i s t m a s o r d e r s d u e 1 6 t h D e c O r d e r i n f o o n o u r w e b s i t e F u l l E n g l i s h B r e a k f a s t P i e s & p a s t i e s / C a k e s & d o n u t s B a k i n g c l a s s e s W e d n e s d a y s 9 a m 2 p m T u e s / T h u r s / F r i 2 4 r u e d u c o m m e r c e 8 6 4 0 0 C i v r a y w w w l e c a f e c i v r a y c o m Civray Le Café Events on our website & FB page! @LeCafeCivray SIRET 820 301 299 Bulletin Board Sunday December 18th 2022 At the Parish Church of St. Paul at Arçay, Vienne Carols by Candlelight and Readings for Christmas 6.30 pm The Service will be followed by Aperos with traditional British Christmas Fare in the Salle des Fêtes EVERYONE IS WELCOME PLEASE START YOUR CHRISTMAS CELEBRATIONS WITH US th Stocking andRich Christie mas chez Christie’s E I GORGEOUS GIFTS Scarves, Tapestry, Heat Packs, Mugs, Puzzles, Bamboo Socks, Insulated Bottles, Laptrays, Jewellery, C hocolates, Books, Candles, Notepads, Pens, Stocking Fillers 1000’s of BEAUTIFUL CARDS High Q uality Ranges for C hristmas & Everyday GREAT CHRISTMAS CRACKERS DELICIOUS HOME BAKING C hristmas C ake, Mince Pies, Truffles, Scones, Cupcakes, Brownies, Muffins CHRISTMAS & NEW YEAR OPENING HOURS ON OUR WEBSITE Serving Warm Welcomes Since 2004! Tues/Weds/Thurs/Fri: 10 00 12 00 : 3 00 7 00 Sat: 10 00 12 00 : 3 00 6 00 NB: CLOSED 1ST HALF OF JANUARY REOPENING TUES 17 h WWW CHEZCHRISTIES FR 05 49 50 61 94 Fbk: Chez Christie’s Gençay # chezchristiesgencay GENÇAY (86) - beh ind the Mairie Association W791001686


The Filling Station - Poitou-Charentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. or Carolyn on 05 45 84 19 03.

ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre. We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St. Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11h.

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 11am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun).

Eglise Vie Nouvelle

Bilingual (French / English) weekly service based in Civray See Contact 05 49 87 49 04

The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, normally holds Sunday services in English. Please see our website for current information:

Christian Fellowship - Chef Boutonne Meeting each Sunday at 15h. Visit for more information.

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2022...

Sun 25 December Christmas Day (Noël) 2023...

Sun 1 January New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)

Sun 9 April Easter Sunday (Pâques)

Mon 10 April Easter Monday (Pâques)

Mon 1 May Labour Day (Fête du premier mai)

Mon 8 May VE 1945 (Fête du huitième mai)

Thu 18 May Ascension Day (Ascension)

Sun 28 May Whit Sunday (Pentecôte)

Mon 29 May Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte)

Fri 14 July Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

Tue 15 Aug Assumption day (Assomption)

Wed 1 November All Saints’ Day (Toussaint)

Sat 11 November Armistice Day (Armistice)

Mon 25 December Christmas Day (Noël)




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



Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 - and - Niort 79000

La Mothe St Héray 79800

Gençay 86160

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)

La Mothe Saint-Héray 79800 (Place Clémenceau) Melle 79500 (la Place Bujault)

AIGONDIGNE 79370 (Place de la Gasse, 4pm-8/9pm)

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

Please note that from January the Book Club and Poems and Pints events will take place at the earlier time of 3pm.

Poems and Pints: next event will be held on the 25th January at the Café des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux. The theme will

be "Winter". Everyone is welcome to come along but if you have a poem you would like to read please contact johnwround@

The Book Club January book is the "Grey Bees" by Ukrainian author Andrey Kurkov.


Regular venues at:

• Aulnay de Saintonge 17470

• Beauvais Sur Matha 17490

• St Jean D’Angély 17400

• Sauzé-Vaussais Hope 79 79190

• La Chaumière, La Chapelle 16140

• Charroux 86250

• Saintes 17100

• Savigné 86400

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

SIRET : 537 606 972 00025

: 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 SIRET : 484 920 285 00018
A big thank you to EVERYONE who helps get our magazine into your hands each month The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 5
by John Blair


01/12 MARCHÉ MUSICAL LA CRECHE 79260. Farmers market with aperitif-concert. Local producers offer specialities in the form of ready to eat meals. You can dine on site - picnic tables available. Bring plates, glasses, cutlery. 17h-20h Free.


On the 650th anniversary of the surrender of Thouars, discover the story and the character of Du Guesclin and his role in the surrender through this exhibition. 14h-18h. Free.

02/12 PIQUE-NIQUE SAINT-MAIXENT-DE-BEUGNE 79160. Picnic at the village hall in aid of the Telethon at 20h.

02/12 SOIREE COULONGES-SUR-L'AUTIZE 79160. DJ evening with fast food in hall in aid of the Telethon at 20h.

02/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL ADILLY 79200. Producers & artisans will be present. Delicious tartiflette to enjoy on the spot or to take away. Don't forget plates or trays. 17h-23h.

03/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CHAMPDENIERS 79220. Artisanal creations & regional products. Santa Claus, entertainment, carriage rides. Food & refreshments on site. 10h-19h.

03/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL AUGE 79400. More than 40 exhibitors, tree decorating, arrival of Father Christmas by torchlight. Food and drink on site. 10h-19h.

03/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINT-LAURENT-SUR-SEVRE 85290. An event that promises to be friendly and magical in a family atmosphere.

03-04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOEL SAINT LOUP SUR THOUET 79600. 120 exhibitors in chalets. Local and regional crafts and gastronomic specialities. Sat December 3rd from 12:00 to 23:00 and Sun December 4th from 10h to 19h.

03-04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CERIZAY 79140. More than 30 local producers & craftsmen. Brass band, games, exhibitions and nativity scene. Bar and restaurant on site. 03/12 15h-18h, 04/12 10h-18h.

04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL FAYE-SUR-ARDIN 79160. Market & free entertainment, face painting and inflatables. Baked potatoes & sausages available to eat. 10h-18h.

03-04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CHÂTEAU SEVREMONT 85700. Stroll through the garden and ruins to discover the local merchants, be soothed by the smell of spices & cinnamon as some surprise events await you. 03/12 from 16h30, 04/12 from 12h.


TERVES 79300. Artisan & English stalls. Mulled wine and mince pies, real English fish and chips, bacon butties, cakes and refreshments. 10h00 - 16h00. Free entry,

04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINT-GEORGES-DE-REX 79210. Meet Santa Claus. Numerous exhibitors and local producers Mulled wine, pancakes, waffles and food trucks. Sale of Christmas trees, activities for children. 10h-17h.

04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL QUINCAY 86190. Come and discover original creations and stock up on gift ideas! Jewellery, decorations, crafts, sewing, accessories, handpainted tableware, regional products. Mulled wine and catering on site. 10h-18h.

06/12 TELETHON QUIZ L'ABSIE 79240. 19h30. Quiz night in English. Contact Clare for details 09 61 66 06 88

08-31/12 NOËL DANS LE QUARTIER MÉDIÉVAL PARTHENAY 79200. Giant garlands, decorated trees. Artist exhibitions 17th & 18th.

09-31/12 ANIMATIONS DE NOËL POITIERS 86000. Merrygo-rounds, Christmas market, ice rink, entertainment, shows. Several sites through the city. Free horse-drawn carriage rides (from 9th) and pony rides (from 24th).

10/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CHEF BOUTONNE 79110. Organised by the association Miltourzumba in the Centre Cultural. 10h00 - 18h00.

10/12 CONCERT CHOEUR DE CHAMBRE DES DEUX-SÈVRES L'ABSIE 79240. The Deux-Sèvres Chamber Choir sing works from around the world amid magnificent frescoes of the recently renovated abbey 20h30 -22h30. Free

10/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SEMI-NOCTURNE COULONGESSUR-L'AUTIZE 79160. Night market with entertainment and restaurant area on site. 16h-21h.

10-11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL LA MOTHE-SAINT-HERAY 79800. Catering, refreshment bar, tree-themed exhibition, music and pony rides.

10-11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL NUEIL LES AUBIERS 79250. Chalets, indoor and outdoor exhibitions, foie gras, wines, chocolates, oysters. Also jewellery & decorations. Tartiflette to eat in or take away, mulled wine, chestnuts, oyster bar. Many activities from Saturday 15h-18h, Sunday from 11h closing 19h with a grand fireworks display.

11/12 SERVICE OF NINE LESSONS & CAROLS VOUVANT 85120. Bilingual service. All welcome. 16h.

11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL MONTOURNAIS 85700. Producers, entertainment, oyster bar, Santa Claus, free horse-drawn carriage rides. From 9h.

11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL LA CHATAIGNERAIE 85120. Father Christmas, exhibitors, musical entertainment, rides. Food and refreshments on site. From 10h.

6 | The Deux-Sèvres
The information here is as accurate as we can get it but PLEASE check events have not been cancelled or altered before you leave the house.
Monthly, December 2022

WHAT’S ON DIARY (continued)

16/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL PAIZAY-LE-CHAPT 79170. Honey, recycled sewing, organic soap, cheeses, sausages and more. Refreshment bar, wine, hot waffles. From 17h30.

16-18/12 ANIMATIONS DE NOËL FONTENAY-LE-COMTE 85200. A full weekend of Christmas entertainment, ice sculpture and shopping. Including on 17th from 19h fireworks and arrival of Father Christmas.

17/12 FETE DE NOËL ARGENTONNAY 79150. Alpacas, mince pies, mulled wine, pony rides, artisan beer, Christmas crafts, music and food. 10h - 18h

17/12 CAROL SINGING AT THE SATURDAY MORNING MARKET CHEF BOUTONNE 79110. All welcome to join in, contact Amanda, for more info.

18/12 CAROLS BY CANDLELIGHT ARCAY 86200. At the parish church of St Paul's at Arçay. See advert on page 4.

18/12 SERVICE OF LESSONS AND CAROLS CHEF BOUTONNE 79110. In the Church of Christ the Good Shepherd, Chef Boutonne. 15h00. Details on our website:

21/12 READINGS IN ENGLISH: THE GRINCH SECONDIGNY 79130. Children’s story time at the media library 17h.

25/12 CHRISTMAS DAY SERVICE CHEF BOUTONNE 79110. In the Church of Christ the Good Shepherd, Chef Boutonne. 11h00. Details on our website:




SERVICE MONCOUTANT 79320. The Protestant Church of Moncoutant. 80, Ave du Maréchel Leclerc (opposite the Maison Pour Tous). At 18h00. More info : 06 42 80 99 62

17 & 21/12 ANIMATIONS DE NOËL POUZAUGES 85700. Around the ice rink, entertainment & creative workshops for adults and children, balloon sculpture, Santa Claus. Music, magic, horse-drawn carriage rides, refreshment and catering. From 14h.

The information provided here is accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time of printing. Do check though.

Monthly, December 2022 | 7


December 1, 1990

Shortly after 11am, 132 feet below the English Channel, workers drill an opening through a wall of rock. The hole, the size of a car, connected the two ends of an underwater tunnel linking Great Britain with the European mainland for the first time in more than 8,000 years.

December 3, 1992

The first SMS text message is sent by Neil Papworth, a 22-yearold engineer, via a personal computer. “Merry Christmas” was sent using the Vodafone network to the phone of a colleague. He was part of a team developing a “Short Message Service Centre” (SMSC) for the British telecommunications company who hoped to use these short messages as a paging service.

December 5, 1872

The Mary Celeste, an American ship, is discovered sailing erratically but at full speed near the Azores Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. The vessel was seaworthy, with its stores and supplies untouched, but not a soul was on-board. The last entry in the captain’s log shows that the Mary Celeste had been nine days and 500 miles away from where the ship was found. The captain, crew and families of the Mary Celeste were never found.

December 6, 1917

At 9:05 a.m. in the harbour of Halifax Nova Scotia, the most devastating pre-atomic, man-made, explosion occurs. The French munitions ship Mont Blanc exploded 20 minutes after colliding with the Norwegian vessel Imo. The French freighter was carrying highly explosive munitions - 2,300 tons of picric acid, 200 tons of TNT, 35 tons of high-octane gasoline, and 10 tons of gun cotton. The collision caused the Mont Blanc to be propelled toward the shore and minutes later it scraped by a harbour pier, setting it ablaze. The resulting explosion killed more than 1,800 people, injured another 9,000, blinded 200 and destroyed almost the entire north end of the city of Halifax including more than 1,600

homes. The resulting shockwave shattered windows 50 miles away, with the sound travelling hundreds of miles.

December 10, 1901

The first Nobel Prizes are awarded in Stockholm, Sweden in the fields of physics, chemistry, medicine, literature and peace. The ceremony came on the fifth anniversary of the death of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish inventor of dynamite and other high explosives. In his will, Nobel decreed that most of his considerable fortune should form a fund in which the interest would be “annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind.”

December 16, 1773

A group of Massachusetts colonists, some disguised as native American Mohawks, board three British tea ships and over the next three hours dump 342 chests of tea into Boston Harbour. The raid, which became known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773. The bill was designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade and was viewed by many colonists as another example of taxation tyranny by the British.

December 18, 1620

The English ship "The Mayflower" makes landfall in the area now known as Plymouth, Massachusetts. The story of those settlers on-board began in Nottinghamshire, England, in 1606, when a group of reform-minded Puritans founded their own church, separate from the state-sanctioned Church of England. When accused of treason, they settled in the more tolerant Netherlands but after struggling for 12 years the group sought financial help from some London merchants to set up a colony in America. On September 6, 1620, 102 passengers - dubbed "Pilgrims" by William Bradford, a passenger who would become the first governor of Plymouth Colony - crowded on the Mayflower to begin the long, hard journey to a new life in the New World.

December 19, 1843

Charles Dickens’ classic story “A Christmas Carol” is published. Dickens was born in Portsmouth in 1812. His father, a clerk in the navy pay office, was thrown into debtors’ prison in 1824, and Charles was sent to work in a factory. The miserable treatment of children, the institutions of the debtors’ prison and workhouses became the topics of several of his novels. Written during a period when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions such as carols, and newer customs such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees: the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve.

December 21, 1958

War hero Charles de Gaulle is elected the first president of the Fifth Republic by a sweeping majority of French voters. When a military and civilian revolt in Algeria threatened France’s stability, De Gaulle was called out of retirement to lead the country as he was the only leader of sufficient strength and stature to deal with the perilous situation. He was given power to rule by decree for six months. A new constitution of his design was approved in a national referendum in September leading to his election.

December 25, 1914

Just after midnight, most of the German troops cease firing their artillery and begin to sing Christmas carols. At some points along the eastern and western fronts Russian, French and British soldiers even heard brass bands accompanying the Germans in their singing. British and German soldiers met in no-man's land and exchanged gifts, took photographs and some played impromptu games of football. They also buried casualties and repaired trenches and dugouts.

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022

Satellite TV and Internet

Hello and welcome to December. Literally, you can have it. I don’t want it. Too wet, too much in the way of Christmas adverts and too expensive. That said, as I type this (in early November - that’s how hard we work) the weather is pretty good. I just got back from taking the dog for a walk, in shorts. I was the one wearing the shorts. So, on that front I can't really grumble, I guess. Hmmm, that puts me in an awkward situation. We have some fairly fluid plans for Christmas. The (adult) kids have French partners and will be seeing their parents on the main days this year. So, the 25th looks like it’ll be a day of watching the TV in my pants (I’m wearing the pants, I don’t have a TV down there), whilst drinking alcohol I don’t want or need at 11am in the morning. Disgusting. Both the alcohol and my pants. I’m sure Mrs W will think of something though. Maybe gardening or clearing out the garage? She’s just read this actually and suggested maybe I could simply clear out all my stuff from the house… Merry Christmas to one and all. Freesat is not the same as Freeview. No to Freeview.

When is an LNB not an LNB? When it’s a ‘quattro’. It’s not a cracker joke, but there is sometimes some confusion between a quad LNB and a quattro LNB. Both have 4 outlets right? Well yes. However, the universal ‘quad’ LNB has 4 independent outputs which cover the spectrum required for your satellite receiver to show whichever channel you want to watch. This is known as vertical low-band, vertical high-band, horizontal low-band and horizontal high-band. Each output is independent and means you can connect up to 4 receivers to work independently of one another. In almost every scenario, you would use a quad (and not a quattro) LNB.

A quattro LNB also has 4 outputs, but 1 for each of the 4 bands noted above (vertical low-band etc). These LNBs are used in conjunction with a professional distribution system such as you might find in a hotel. It is very unlikely that you will ever need such an LNB and it will not work properly without the distribution system. So if purchasing your own, either online or, less likely, in a brico, be very careful with your choice. You almost certainly want a quad. Please feel free to drop me a line if you’re not sure.

If you need a satellite dish installed but want it to be extra discreet, we can supply a ‘transparent’ dish. It’s made of clear plastic but with thin metal strips inside it to reflect the signals from the satellite. Now, to be honest, you’re not going to look directly at it and wonder where your satellite dish is, but it is considerably more discreet than a white or dark gray steel one. However, as with such things, this type

of dish is more expensive than a standard steel one. But at least you have options.

Starlink is excellent. I’ve promoted it before and will continue to do so until something even better comes along. I’m nothing if not fickle. However, whilst it is still excellent, there are reports of it being a little slower than before due to the number of users subscribing to the service and these coupled with the newly imposed data-caps, have caused people to question if it’s still the way to go for satellite internet? In my opinion, for what it’s worth, I would still emphatically say yes it is. It remains a far better option than a traditional single satellite internet provider.

Still no sign of the TF1 suite of channels returning to the TNTSAT platform at time of writing. If you have TNTSAT and can’t get TF1, don’t panic. It’s not you. It’s an argument over money.

As always, please feel free to get in touch if you would like any further information or would like to discuss your requirements. Contact details can be found on the advert. Finally, I’d like to thank you for your support this year and to wish you all a fantastic Christmas and send best wishes for 2023. See you then.

Other contact details in his advert in the Buildings & Renovations section of the magazine

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 9
Stuart runs The French House Satellite TV

Take a Break


1. A small quantity of anything (6)

Domesticated Llama (6)

Many times at short intervals (5)

Prisoner used for bargaining purposes (7)

Tastelessly indecent (5)

Bank employee who pays out and receives money (7)

A city in nort-eastern Spain on the Mediterranean (9)

One of the Gospels of the New Testament (7)

Thick woolen Scottish fabric (5)

A sour liquid used to flavour or preserve foods (7)

Love intensely (5)

10th Century Saxon Kingdom (6)

19th century policeman (6)


2. A university in England (6) 3. Loyalty on the face of trouble and difficulty (13) 5. Club used to loft a golf ball over obstacles (8-5) 6. Young swan (6) 7. Galvanised mesh used to build fences (7-4) 13. A severe shortage of food causing starvation (6) 14. Qualification achieved at university (6)


What gift is given on day 9 of “The Twelve days of Christmas”?

How are the folks dressed in “The Christmas Song”?

When was the first Christmas card sent?

Clues Across

1. Police officer following vehicle in a pack perhaps? (5)

4. A degree of turbulence in streams? (7) 8. Bizarre ingredient of crumble. (3) 9. In anger, tore up the means of current production. (9) 10. Wise distributor of premium products? (5)

11. Identifies the culprit with evidence of chocolate products? (7)

13. Reorganisation of Spar, places the children’s game will become available?. (4, 3, 6)

16. Untidy as immersed in belief. (7)

18. More ingredient of mash, a steamy way to get less speed? (5)

19. Celebrate closure of political scandal? (9)

21. Supporter of half of South American country? (3)

22. Throw rice at printer of winter sport provision. (3, 4)

23. Make corrections for the writer in final stage. (5)

Clues Down

1. Pure French Cave arranged to make an underhand deal? (5 – 2)

2. Look back on refurbished ermine (sic). (9)

3. Madness! Singer involved with alien put forward! (7)

4. Male has area to put the car; that’s novel! (9, 4)

5. Resin mixture making an alarming noise. (5)

6. Consume beef for example with no starter. (3)

7. Out of these you are not your usual self. (5)

12. Former partner about as blue possibly, that’s forgivable? (9)

14. Two articles allowed in for sports person. (7)

15. Old American General Hospital department is on the sheltered side. (7)

16. Island origins of central Australian, perhaps really indigenous? (5)

17. Pens, i.e. replacements for

What characters do Statler and Waldorf play in “The Muppet Christmas Carol”?

What direction should you stir mincemeat?

DSM Easy Crossword (with thanks to Rob Berry) DSM Toughie Crossword (with thanks to Mike Morris)
10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
1. In “It’s a Wonderful Life” what is the name of George’s guardian angel?
In the song “Frosty the Snowman” how did the Frosty come to life?

The Vineyard Guys Food and Drink

Tis the season to be pruning!

We had a very mild few months after harvest which added to the work load with additional grass cutting and soil turning. As December comes to the vineyard, all energy turns to pruning the vines once we get a cold snap that will encourage the sap to withdraw into the roots which means we can prune without fear of the cut ends bleeding and causing risk of disease. We prune using the Double Guyot method, this is where you cut away everything from the head of the vine except for two strong branches from this seasons growth, one on either side of the plant. Each of these retained branches are left with 4 or 5 buds and we retain another short stub with a bud or two on the head of the plant for encouraged growth for next years strong leads for next year pruning. After pruning the vine all the pruned branches are laid to the ground and we go over them with the shredder and they are mulched and breakdown to return to the soil. In the time of everyone trying to be ECO, this is the preferred choice for vineyards. However, people do

still collect vine pruning’s or “sarments” as the French say, they store them and use them for barbequing, we always keep a few bins full for when our guests barbeque as this adds an authentic vineyard flavour to the proceedings. Our first year on the vineyard we had someone come to collect the pruning from the between the vines to bundle it and sell it for barbequing but more and more people use charcoal or gas fuelled barbeques. Some old style vineyards, until recently, would often make piles at the end of the rows of vines every four or five rows for example, and have fires to burn the pruning or use a mobile steel drum burner as they moved around the vineyard. This process is obviously not very ecological and, now, very much frowned upon.

Once we have completed the pruning we will be continuing with the repairs to wires and replacing old and broken posts over the winter before the madness of the spring begins again and everything starts growing faster than we can work and the season starts again.

With Christmas fast approaching thoughts go to the festive treats we all adore and of course the wine to go with them. We generally have our big meal on Christmas Eve and it’s not generally turkey for us but if you plan a traditional Christmas Feast here is our perspective of your best choice for the day.

Our Christmas Day starts with Crepe Suzette and Bucks Fizz, champagne or crémant is the perfect start to the day and you should consider a demi-sec if you are adding orange juice as it will work better on the digestion. There is always a glass or two remaining in the bottle to keep you

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
Rob Brimfield and Steve McMahon

going until lunch, or crack open a second one if not.

If you are having a fish based starter, a crisp white with citrus notes will make that prawn cocktail or smoked salmon taste even better. Turkey with all the trimmings works great with an easy drinking red, a softer Bordeaux is a great accompaniment, our Clos Vieux Rochers Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux is the perfect match. Turkey always tastes better with a red rather than a white, the fuller fruit flavours, soft woody tones and good mouth retention makes the match in heaven. Finding the balance is not always easy and too big a wine will take a lot of the best flavours away from the food.

Whether you have your cheese before or after your dessert is up to you, obviously the French tradition is between your main and dessert but many of us were probably brought up with the cheese after dessert. Traditionally, if you are eating Stilton, a nice port might be your first thought and why not, they go together well but if you have more traditional soft French cheeses leave the port out of it and either continue with the red wine for harder stronger cheeses or for cheese

like the brie or goat cheese, try a glass of the white left over from the fish course - you may be surprised. When it comes to dessert the idea that a sweet white is required can be a mistake. For sweet creamy desserts a sweet white will work well, very chocolaty you may again stick with the red. Christmas pudding on the other hand it not only sweet but rich, full of dry fruit and brandy and believe it or not balances well with a glass or sherry like an Oloroso or a Marsala. To finish with your coffee just treat yourself to your favourite digestive.

Mulled wine is a festive drink that always comes to mind but what is the history of this seasonal beverage. As with so much when it comes to wine, it originated with the Romans and was called Conditum Paradoxum. The Romans would heat honey in wine and add spice like pepper, laurel, saffron

mulled wine

and dates. This mixture was then blended with better wine to soften it, often reheated by plunging hot coals into it. Not exactly mulled wine as we think of it today but the start.

In the 12th century it was adapted slightly and was called Spiced Wine, this was very similar to the Roman recipe but with the opening of the spice route around the 13th century, in France we had the spice port of Latte, located next to Montpellier, the more aromatic mulled wine developed and the drinking of it became more widespread. The fame of mulled wine was such that even the King of England at the time, Henry III, drank it at his table. The mulled wine became popular in Germany, via Count John IV in the 1400s and also spread into Sweden, where King Gustav I was said to be fond of it. In the 1890s it found its way onto the Christmas market stalls in Germany and this was why it became a popular Christmas beverage. The recipe has changed a little from country to country with their own additions but here is one you may find easy to prepare and fills you with Christmas Cheer.

Take a bottle of red, ours will work well, heat it in a pan with the peeled rind from an orange and lemon, a cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves and brown sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins. Strain it and its ready to drink, unless you are like us and like to add splash of cognac, but make sure the mulled wine is warm and not hot as you will lose the alcohol from the cognac.

Have a great Christmas and to make it even better why not take advantage of our reader offer and order a case of Clos Vieux Rochers.

For more information on Rob & Steve, their wine, vineyard tours and accommodation ...

For readers of The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine who would like to try our Clos Vieux Rochers – Castillon Cotes de Bordeaux or our Rosé, we have an offer for delivery to France.

Carton of 6 use DSM6 and get €5 discount on deliveries to France only.

Carton of 12 use DSM12 get €10 discount on deliveries to France only.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 13
another December job, bottling our Rosé Ready to start aging our 2022 red


Tutti Frutti Cake


150g margarine

100g soft brown sugar

Cranberry and Clementine Cake

150g self-raising flour

2 eggs whisked

160g mixed dried fruit/nuts/cherries of choice Juice and rind of 1 Clementine 1-2tsp mixed spice


Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Line a 30 x 19cm baking tray.

In a medium saucepan mix together the margarine and sugar on a low heat stirring until it forms a smooth syrup then remove from heat.

Slowly add the sieved flour and mixed spice, stirring until it is entirely mixed and a creamy caramel colour. Add the clementine juice and rind checking it is well incorporated.

Add the whisked eggs again stirring well. Finally mix in the chosen combination of dried fruit making sure it is evenly distributed.

Pour into baking tray and gently spread evenly.

Bake for approx.. 15 mins until golden.

Leave to cool then cut into squares.


185g self-raising flour sieved

185g caster sugar

185g butter softened

3 eggs beaten

60g cranberries chopped

For frosting

1 clementine

185g icing sugar

For Glaze

2 tbsp boiling water

1 tbsp caster sugar

90g butter softened 8 cranberries

1tbsp caster sugar


Preheat the oven to 165C/150C fan/gas 3. Grease and line two 20cm round sandwich tins.

Mix together sugar, eggs, butter and flour, then beat for 1-2 minutes until glossy and smooth. Gently stir in cranberries until evenly distributed.

Divide the mixture between the two cake tins smoothing the top and bake for 35-40mins until cake springs back when lightly pressed in centre. Turn out onto a wire cooling rack and leave until cold.

To make the frosting, make several thin strips of clementine peel and set aside. Grate remaining peel and using a hand juicer squeeze the fruit to obtain at least 1 tbsp of juice.

Add icing sugar, butter and juice to a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Add 4 tbsp of frosting to a piping bag with a small star nozzle to decorate the top tier.

Using half the remaining frosting, sandwich together the cake halves and then spread the rest on the top layer. Pipe a lattice and border on top of frosting to decorate the top of the cake.

Heat the water and sugar in a small saucepan to make a syrup. Cut diamond shapes from the reserved peel, add to the water and simmer for 30 seconds then remove from the water. Add cranberries to the syrup for 30 seconds, remove and leave until cold.

Add the candied peel diamonds and cranberries to the lattice piping to finish the decoration on top of the cake.

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022


Gluten Free Recipes

A couple of easy additions for the big day. Serves eight.



500g pure pork sausagemeat

90g medium ground oatmeal

1 onion, finely chopped

2tsp dried sage

Salt and pepper to taste

2-3 drops Worchester Sauce (optional)


Heat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5.

Mix together sausagemeat, onion, salt, pepper and Worchester sauce (if using) until well combined.

Blend together the oatmeal, herbs and a little more seasoning and spread out on a dinner plate. Shape the stuffing into 16 small balls and roll into oatmeal mixture trying to cover evenly.

Place stuffing balls into a pre-greased ovenproof dish and bake for 20 -25 minutes.



185g dried apricots

1 tbsp clear honey

2tbsp white wine vinegar

320ml unsweetened orange juice

1tsp cornflour

Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch ginger


Place apricots, orange juice, vinegar and honey in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Allow the mixture to gently simmer for about 5 mins until it is soft and pulpy.

Blend the apricot mixture until smooth. Transfer to a small pan and stir in the cornflour.

Gently reheat, stirring continuously until it thickens. Season to taste, add ginger and stir.

This relish can be used hot or cold and is delicious with ham or pork.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 15

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres


In 1812 there were 6 wine merchants on the commune. In that year the population of the commune was 1338 people.

There is a story of a legal case concerning the priest who gave catechism lessons during school hours in 1900.

Seven kilometres from the town centre, the hamlet of La Fazilière has a history closely linked to basket-making.

This village of ancient basket makers was founded by gypsies. The baskets that they made were then sold to the sardine producers on the Vendée coast.

ernoux-en-Gâtine is at situated between Parthenay, Niort, La Châtaigneraie and Bressuire. The commune has a school with a nursery, a bakery with a small grocery shop, a restaurant, a car repairs garage and a good network of craftsmen. There are walks to enjoy in the magnificent park on the banks of the Sèvre Nantaise river and along its footpaths. There is a dynamic network of associations.

The name Vernoux comes from "verne", a Gallic word for alder. The suffix of the Latin name, vernolium, is of Celtic origin. This means that the commune is built on the site of a very old settlement. The spelling of the commune’s name has varied throughout the ages.

Vernus in 1102. Vernolium in 1162. Vernol or Vernus in 1173. Vernou in 1267. Notre-Dame de Vernou in 1648. The commune depended on the archpriesthood of Ardin, on the castellany of Parthenay, on the sénéchaussée and the election of Poitiers. The parish priest was appointed by the abbot of Bourgueil (see below). There were 325 inhabitants in 1750.

In the 11th century the church of Vernoux was given to the abbey of Bourgueil (37) by the bishop of Poitiers. In 1102 Bishop Pierre II confirmed the ownership of the church of Vernoux with the abbey of Bourgueil.

In 1442, the farms of the land of Vernoux-en-Gâtine had the right to sell wine, cattle and hens, fleeces and millet. In 1609, the owner of Puy Guitonneau (Vernoux-enGâtine) was in charge of high, medium and low justice and administered it.

In 1741 in Vernoux, the same fabrics were made as in Secondigny. There were twenty manufacturers, four looms, & four mills.

In 1766 written traces of a seizure of work and goods relating to impositions and taxes can be found.

The commune received indemnities for the costs of mustering men who went to fight against the rebels of the Vendée. Some youngsters who were on the side of the Vendéens were arrested in 1799. There is written evidence referring to an incursion of Vendéen brigands into Vernoux. No houses were burned during the Vendée war, but 60 houses were ruined, and 100 cattle or horses were stolen.

The wash house and its basin, known as the "trempou" in local dialect, remain from this period. During the manufacture of baskets, the basket makers soaked the branches of the chestnut tree in the basin. A history that can still be read today by following a small interpretative trail starting from the washhouse. This is an opportunity to discover that almost every house in the village has a private oven. It is here that the basket makers heated the wood so they could bend it and make the baskets. An association, "L'amicale des anciens vanniers" known as "Les Penassous" has been created to promote and safeguard this heritage of yesteryear.

To understand the reputation (good or bad) of La Fazilière, you have to understand its history and its way of life, which, in a way, still exists but, of course, differently. Located on the "heights" of Vernoux-en-Gâtine, to which it is administratively attached, this small village has managed to keep some vestiges of the life of many years ago.

At the end of 1800, 120,000 baskets were made per year. It is said that they were started by gypsy basket makers who had left from the Persian Gulf and made their way up to Poitiers. In La Fazilière, they found everything they needed (springs of water and chestnut trees) to settle down, work and earn enough to live on. They managed to make themselves known over an area far beyond the limits of the region and that is why, at the end of the 1800s, 120,000 baskets were being made at La Fazilière. These baskets, with their funny shape, were intended for the sardine fishermen of the Atlantic coast. The fishermen

by Sue Burgess
16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
All photographs by Sue Burgess

placed ferns at the bottom of the baskets and laid their sardines head to tail.

Initially the baskets were transported by oxcart, then by train from Saint-Laurs station. All the inhabitants of the village worked on this activity, which involved several stages. The baskets were made from seven-year-old chestnut coppice, cut in November, then split by hand and sorted. In February, the wood strands were fired in ovens resembling bread ovens. The wood was then soaked in basins, called soakers, for two to three months before the work was completed by the making of the baskets, a stage often reserved for the women.

In the 19th century, La Fazilière had some 350 inhabitants. The houses were homes to families of about ten people (several generations lived together) and the village was lively to say the least... Evenings, once the orders had been fulfilled, ended with songs around the fire and each house took part. In 1940, with 300 inhabitants, there were still forty or so basket makers and the village boasted a number of traders (three cafés, including a café-tabac, a wheelwright, a blacksmith, two grocery shops, a baker, a clog maker, a school and several masons). In 1950, 12,000 baskets were still being made. But wooden and then plastic crates meant that the orders for baskets gradually disappeared.

Today, things have of course changed, especially after the death in 2013, at the age of 91, of the last basket maker in

the village, Yvonne Siraud.

There are still traces of this past, with, among others, the wash house, the soaking tub (or trempou), and the Penassous association (penasse = basket) has succeeded in restoring the forge, the imposing oven (both in working order). Walkers can still see the remains of ovens that were used to dry wood.

Some parts of the commune are likely to be affected by the risk of flooding from overflowing rivers, in particular the Sèvre Nantaise and the Saumort. The commune was recognised as a natural disaster area due to the damage caused by the floods and mudslides that occurred in 1982, 1983, 1995, 1999 and 2010.

The shrinkage and swelling of clay soils is likely to cause significant damage to buildings in the event of alternating periods of drought and rain. The commune was recognised as a natural disaster due to damage caused by ground movements in 1999 and 2010.

In several parts of the country, radon, accumulated in certain dwellings or other premises, can constitute a significant source of exposure of the population to ionising radiation. According to the 2018 classification, the commune of Vernoux-en-Gâtine is classified as zone 3, i.e. a zone with significant radon potential.

At 240 metres above sea level, the Moulin du Chêne windmill proudly spreads its sails over the green countryside of Vernoux-en-Gâtine, just a stone's throw from Le Beugnon.

Fully restored between 2014 and 2016 by the association Redouna daus ales à la Gâtine, which had became the owner of the property. Before that, the building was an empty shell fortunately protected by a tin roof, which preserved it from most of the weather. The mechanisms are equivalent to those used in 1850.

500,000 € were raised to pay for the renovations, with the help of patrons and the support of the Fondation du patrimoine.

This beautiful, well-restored mill is located on the road that leads from Vernoux en Gâtine to La Fazilière, near the place known as La Barbière.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022| 17

castle was bought back in 1914. Two property dealers bought it. It is fair to say that the two men had no interest in the built heritage. They found it more profitable to dismantle the castles they bought and sell the materials. After destroying the Château des Loges in Parthenay, they tackled Fontenioux castle. So fewer than 70 years after its construction, the castle of Vernoux-en-Gâtine disappeared.

A Voir / Must See Notre Dame Church

To understand the layout of the church, you have to

Flour is produced at the mill and the flour can be bought in the local bakery and in L’Inattendu in L’Absie. It is also sold directly at the mill which used to be open for visits, although it has been closed recently so please check details before setting off.

Fontenioux castle was one of the remarkable elements of the commune's heritage. It was built in 1850 for a certain Alfred de Savignac. This construction cost him the modest sum of 50,000 francs at the time. But the castle did not stay in the family. The heirs went bankrupt. The

walk around it. It is clear that the church was originally surrounded by the cemetery. A funeral chapel still remains in the square. The tombstone of Abbé François Codeau is inserted in the wall to the right of the south side door of the church. He was born on 16 Germinal 1800 and died on 21 February 1874. He was the priest of Vernoux from 1828 to 1874.

The bays of the church are buttressed. One of the buttresses is different from the others.

The full collection of A to Z articles is available via our web site

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 December 2022

Shop Open every Wednesday

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Donations welcome

Monday & Wednesday10am-2pm

Tech Clinic with Ross Hendry 2nd Wednesday of every month

Oh My Lord Francks Fish and Chips last Wednesday of every month

Magasin Ouvert tous les mercredis de 11h à 16h

Les dons sont les bienvenus les lundis et mercredis de 10h à 14h

Clinique technique avec Ross Hendry 2e mercredi de chaque mois

Oh My Lord Francks Fish and Chips Dernier mercredi de chaque mois

Tyger & Thibault

Tyger (brown) and Thibault (black) are ten month old brothers with a love of fun and cuddles. They are looking for homes separately but are both sociable boys, eager to learn and to love. They have been in a foster home for a couple of months with dogs of all ages and temperaments and have been polite and sociable with them all. We just don't understand why they're still looking, so please get in touch if one of them catches your eye. For more info, contact Association En Route via email on

The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email: Visit the website:


It would be so sad to split up this lovely duo because they love being together. Both approx. 18 months old, SKY is a stunning black female and EMBER a gorgeous tabby male. They need a calm household where they can take time to adjust. With the right family they will make two adorable companions. Both sterilised, fully vaccinated until Nov 23, neg FIV/FeLV and electronically tagged. Please adopt both and we will waive the adoption fee for the second cat.

Chats de Chatillon Cat Refuge & Pension

Email : Phone : 06 85 63 55 94

Website :


THEA is a cross white puppy, 6 months old. She was found in the streets of Macedonia having probably been hurt by a car or may be someone when younger, so she walks in a special way. She isn't in pain, she can walk and run without problem. Our specialist says the bones have been now welded, no operation is needed now but in the future may require some intervention. She is good everyone and other dogs. She is microchipped , vaccinated with a passport and rabies, and will be neutered very soon. She will be medium, may be big dog. She will need special people for a special dog. She is currently in department 49.

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

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Travels through Southern France

Step Three : The Cevennes and the Ardeche

We detoured, en route to our gîte in the Gorges du Tarn, to take a look at the Viaduc de Millau - the tallest bridge in the world. We used the minor roads, not the bridge itself, as I’m told you can’t see much from the bridge, you can’t stop, as it’s a motorway and you have to pay the toll.

The bridge was designed by a Brit, Norman Forster and the French engineer Michel Virolgeux. I bet every motorist that goes over it thanks God the Italians weren’t involved.

The Viaduc de Millau

We stopped in the town of Millau for Lunch. The rough guide describes Millau as a lively town. On a Sunday in May, it definitely isn’t. Here, we also managed to prove that it is possible to get a bad meal in France. This also illustrates the French obsession with bread. We had ordered a type of club sandwich with 3 layers of dry and unappetising toast, so they brought us bread to go with it. In Bordeaux we bought 2 filled baguettes (90% bread), from a kiosk and they gave us bread to go with it. Every restaurant meal involves a basket of bread, which if you eat it, is immediately replaced with another. Could I have inadvertently stumbled on the reason for the world wheat shortage! I do really like their approach; I just think they take it to excess at times.

The Gorge du Tarn is on the Western edge of the Cevennes and runs from just north of Millau to Florac, a distance of around 70kms. It is wonderful. The cliffs rise up to 600m (1950ft) above the river creating a secluded valley with its own micro-climate. The narrow D907b follows the river’s meandering along this length, creating a mecca for walkers, campers, rock climbers and especially bikers, who

can challenge their skills on the chicanes, hair-pins and rock tunnels along the route. This may also explain why we saw more gendarmes here than anywhere else so far, (2 in total). The 70kms only has minor villages and not a single supermarket in the gorge, as far as we could find out. We had to drive to Florac to get supplies. With our usual planning we got there just as the supermarket closed for their 2½ hour lunch break. This meant we had to find a restaurant by the river and endure a long leisurely lunch ourselves. Life is tough sometimes.

The Gorge du Tarn Sainte Enimie

We stayed just outside the village of Sainte Enimie, another village claiming to be one of the most beautiful in France, the list must be enormous. It was very pleasant though, with narrow, cobbled streets winding up the hill, many now converted to craft shops.

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 Travel
Photographs courtesy of Russell Adams

The only way to really view the gorge is from the river so we hired a double kayak and paddled the 13 kms from Sainte Enimie to La Malene. The views were fantastic and it worked some muscles that hadn’t been used for 30 years. Sher had gained enough confidence for us to shoot the weir just before we entered La Malene. After 4 hours of canoeing, we deserved a beer, another bonus of the less visited area, we were charged three euros for a large beer instead of the 6, 7 or even 8 euros we had been paying.

It also appears to be a favourite activity for stag and hen dos. We met both on the river and even passed one prospective groom tackling the river in the company of an inflatable woman. We had already canoed the 32km through the Ardeche gorge in the past, so this time we

The Cevennes has two of France’s relatively few national parks and is a mecca for walkers. This is largely due to Robert Louis Stevenson (he of Treasure Island fame), who walked across the Cevennes in 1878, with a donkey called Modestine. He wrote of his journey, after straining his imagination he called it “Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes”. I’ve read it, it isn’t a page turner, yet all the places Stevenson went proudly display the fact that he had been there. You can follow his trail on your own or with organised tours, you can even hire a donkey to walk with you. I took Sher! And drove! As well as his journey Stevenson described the actions and atrocities of the Camisard rebellion that took place in the early 1700’s, as he passed the sites. The Camisards were Huguenots (French Protestants) who rebelled when they were given the choice of converting to Catholicism or emigrating. They were called Camisards because they were untrained soldiers who fought in their shirts (Camisa being Occitan for shirt). They were heavily outnumbered by the King’s army and were slaughtered or made galley slaves by 1704. I can’t wait till we get to the Cathars.

Neither the Lonely Planet nor the Rough Guide give much of a mention to the Ardeche, this is really surprising given the popularity of the area. We decided to give the cycle tracks a go and I can tell you that the Via Ardeche is a nice, fairly flat, relaxed cycle through vineyards and countryside. The track to from Ruoms to Vallon-Pont D’Arc isn’t flat and Sher would probably add a few expletives to that statement.

Canoeing the Ardeche is different to the Tarn, it’s twice as expensive for a start. It is so popular that instead of feeling alone in the wilderness, it can be more like tackling the Friday rush hour on the M6, only instead of cars, lorries and caravans its canoes, swimmers and snorkelers (I know it’s odd but we almost took one’s head off).

opted to canoe the section leading down to the famous arc. This was less scenic, but you do get to shoot 5 weirs on special canoe friendly channels and tackle a couple of minor rapids over the 13kms.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 21
Vallon-Pont D’Arc is a lovely small town with loads of restaurants and touristy shops. We had a great meal at a small restaurant called Le Chelsea. Pont d'Arc Vallon-Pont D’Arc

Christmas traditions in FranCe

Well, by now you must have noticed that Christmas is just around the corner.

« Guirlandes, sapins et illuminations de Noël » garlands, Christmas trees and Christmas lights decorate the streets and town buildings.

« Les décorations de Noël » Christmas Decorations

The French tend to decorate their houses for Christmas from the 1st December « premier décembre ». Children open a window on their Advent Calendar « calendrier de l’Avent ». There is usually a chocolate behind each window. Families dress a Christmas tree « un sapin de Noël » in which they hang tinsel des guirlandes and baubles « des boules ».

Some families set up a Christmas Crib « une crèche », which they place near the tree. . Traditionally the cribs were set up in the churches but in the years that followed the Revolution, these cribs were often forbidden. In Provence, small coloured figurines made out of clay, called santoun (« petits saints » - little saints in the language of Provence) appeared so that people could recreate the cribs at home. This tradition which was inspired by an Italian practice spread quickly around France. Today the tradition of « santons » is still very much part of Christmas in Provence and there are « Foires aux Santons » - the most famous being in Marseille.

Les marchés de Noël Christmas Markets

The most famous Christmas market is the one held in Strasbourg. The town has been declared the capital of Christmas « capitale de Noël ». Strasbourg Christmas market is the oldest Christmas market in France « le plus ancien marché de Noël en France » It was held for the first time in 1570. Before that there had been a market organised for Saint-Nicolas on the 6th December, but when the Protestant reform outlawed this it was replaced by the Christkindelsmärik (« marché de l’enfant Jésus » market of the infant Jesus in Alsacien dialect).

In France, the Christmas meal « le repas de Noël », is traditionally made up of : before dinner drinks « l’apéritif », as a starter « en entrée » : oysters « des huîtres », foie gras, snails « des escargots » or smoked salmon « saumon fumé ». The main course, «le plat principal » is often turkey and chestnuts « dinde, accompagnée de marrons ». The most popular sweet « le dessert le plus populaire » is the Yule log cake « la bûche ».

In Provence, the tradition of the 13 desserts still exists « la tradition des Treize desserts ». These are

• des noix walnuts

• des figues séchées dried figs

• des raisins secs raisins

• des dattes dates

• de la pâte de coing quince jelly sweets

• fruits confits dried fruits and fruit jellies

• une fougasse a savoury bread made often with olives

• du nougat blanc white nougat

• du nougat noir black nougat with grilled almonds and caramelised honey

• du nougat rouge red nougat with pistachios and rose water

• des calissons sweets from Provence made of melon jelly fruit, covered in almond paste and royal icing

• des oranges, oranges, clémentines ou clementines and mandarines tangerines

• un melon d’eau a water melon


repas du Réveillon



jour de Noël Christmas Eve and Christmas Day meals

On the evening of the 24th families get together for the « Réveillon de Noël ». At midnight « minuit », all the members of the family wish each other Happy Christmas « joyeux Noël » and exchange gifts « des cadeaux ».

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 La Vie En France

Life in 79 One Must Do Something to Kill Time

When our two year stewardship of 'The DSM' magazine came to an end, we found we had lots of lovely time on our hands. I'm not a golfer and Anna, my wife, doesn't like gardening (she will sit on the lawn mower, for a couple of hours, but that's it). So time began to drag.

Anna announced she needed 'a new project'. This made me nervous as her new projects usually involve me. How right I was.

For the past eighteen months we have been renovating a small town house. Our life has revolved around the project; everyday scraping, sanding, filling, painting - I don't own an article of clothing that doesn't have a dab of paint on, I was constantly picking flakes of lead paint from my hair and don't get me started on my fingernails.

As well as learning things about renovation (like never doing it again), we have learnt things about each other. Yes, I won't lie, our marriage has been sorely tested. Arguments have occurred and tears have been shed (although, to be fair, Anna always apologises when I start crying).

At the start of project looking at the crumbling walls, leaky roof, rotten wood and brown paint everywhere I thought we would never finish. But finish we did. We began at the beginning and kept going until the end and then we stopped. We are really proud of what we have achieved; although it was hard work, has probably shortened my life expectancy by ten years and I now walk with a limp, it was worth doing.

We celebrated by inviting all the neighbours who had their tranquil lives shattered by the sound of drilling and hammering for the last eighteen months, for a small soirée. It was a funny old evening. We thought it would last an hour and a half tops, how wrong we were. I've never known so much alcohol to be consumed by so few – after the sparkling wine was finished, the red wine came into play, after that was polished off Anna's home brew was unleashed. When that vanished I thought people would start rootling about in the under sink cupboard for a bottle of methylated spirits but our neighbour suggested karaoke and the party moved next door. It was the same night the news of the Queen's death was announced so every few minutes we would toast Her Maj.

The renovation process was all consuming. Not a day went by I wasn't wandering the aisles of a bricolage. All our

conversation was about the house; in the evening Anna would thrust a picture of a tap or a tile in front of me and ask what I thought. I dreamt about it. In my weekly family zooms my news was “I've been tiling the kitchen floor” or “good news, we now have a working toilet”. But now it's finished...finished.

We have so much time on our hands now. Dare I say there is again a bit of a hole in our lives; an emptiness. We have tried to fill our days: Anna has started walking ten thousand steps a day. She can often be seen at night walking round the garden “I've only got 500 to go!” a voice will be heard in the darkness.

I have tried to keep busy... I have cleaned the barns, rearranged my sock drawer, have even started watching Countdown. I am a keen horticulturist, but me and the garden are not speaking at the moment after all my hard work in the first part of the year shrivelled away to nothing in the second.

I am not talking to the chickens either. They have stopped laying ever since the really hot weather. I don't mind them taking a break but it's been about four months since I've had a boiled egg. I've told them if they don't start laying someone might forget to shut their door at night.

We have tried to up the ante to master the French language. Anna listens to our old friend Michel Thomas when she is pounding the country lanes ( 'quelle est la situation politique et économique?') and I am duolingoing 'tous les jours'. To improve our language skills we go for coffee every Sunday morning. We are only allowed to speak French to each other. Conversation can often turn into listing parts of the bodies, vegetables or animals. We are worried we are creating a language that only we understand. Like two Joey Deacons.

Well enough of me rambling on to you dear reader ... those DVDs won't alphabetise themselves. I'll say 'au revoir' and let you get onto the Sudoku.

If you would like to read more ramblings from Mr Shaw, go to

Cartoon by STEPHEN SHAW by Stephen Shaw
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 23

the end oF another Year

Aswe hurtle towards the end of another year,

I’m struggling to keep up with the ever-changing pace of life. This year, although free from lockdowns, has not been free from challenges. The ten months working at the Château de Javarzay were fulfilling and confidence boosting, and I loved every minute, but with my hours worked being different every week, the lack of routine and need to be organised was probably the biggest challenge. Now that it is over, the challenge is finding things to fill my days.

We have recently had to spend an extended period in the UK, for the saddest of reasons, saying goodbye to my Dad. It was quite possibly the longest I’ve been away from the village in over ten years and proved to be a serious trip down memory lane. Sharing stories about Dad with family and friends, looking back on old photos and putting together a eulogy that not only mentioned all his life milestones, but that included humour and

keeping off the roads, using disused railway lines, now repurposed into quiet cycle ways. Bath proved to be an excellent substitute to our planned break in the Dordogne, but it was nice to come back to the Deux-Sèvres and enjoy our sunset rides spotting the deer in the fields and the silent wings of the owls overhead.

So far, autumn here has been mild and moist, which is the perfect conditions for regenerating the summer-parched grass. In fact, if you sit still for long enough, I’m sure you can see it growing. The summer drought produced some early autumn colours, but the lack of frosts has helped the greens hang on, so trees like our gingko have yet to put on

the funny moments that were important not to forget, especially at a time when sadness can take over. As well as being there for Mum, we made sure we took time for ourselves too. A few days away, cycling in the UK brought challenges of pot-holed roads, more traffic than I’m used to and remembering to cycle on the other side of the road. Thankfully Adrian managed to plot most of our routes

their annual golden display and the leaves on the trees in the orchard seem reluctant to let go. I’m all for an autumn that muscles into winter, pushing Christmas back to the end of December where it belongs. It will be a different Christmas this year, the first without Dad, but I have started to get organised. The mincemeat is made, and I’ve checked all the mulled wine ingredients are ready to go for when there is just enough chill in the air to feel the benefit of its warming magic. Nothing says Christmas like mulled wine and mince pies.

I can only wonder what next year will bring. I am optimistically visualising cycling adventures to new places, ensuring I make the most of any opportunities that come my way, all in the name of celebrating life.

Happy Christmas to you all and here’s to your good health in 2023. Email:

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022

Report on: Armistice Day Memorial Service

Sommieries Du Clain (86) 11th November, 2022

From childhood I’ve been brought up to acknowledge Armistice Day, whether it is respecting the two minute silence or by purchasing a poppy. I have noticed that many road names throughout France celebrate significant dates from the war and that the war memorials are well tended and maintained.

This year I thought it would be a good idea to attend the local Remembrance Day service. As Armistice Day is a national holiday in France, I guessed the event would be on the 11th November rather than the Sunday.

I didn’t plan my attendance very well and with hindsight I made a few assumptions... that it would be at the war memorial in the local village and that it would be at 11 o’clock. I arrived at the war memorial at 10.45am and everywhere was deserted. I began to wonder if I’d made a mistake. At about 10.49am a fellow came out of the Mairie, setting up a small public address (PA) system, testing it with the British National Anthem; I thought this would be a nice touch to the ceremony. Then another chap appeared, placing flags on the memorial; the Tricolor, the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes.

Eleven o’clock came and went. Nothing had happened and the place was still deserted. Had I myself been a little late arriving I would have assumed the ceremony was over and that I’d missed it. I spoke to fellow in the Mairie who had set out the flags and he told me to wait by the memorial, so I did. Nothing happened. A man dressed in a suit left the Mairie building and strode off down the road towards the village square. Seven firemen dressed in their finery arrived from the direction of the fire station and followed the man in the suit. This was my cue, they were obviously heading off to some sort of civic event. I followed them and found a gathering of 50 to 60 people mingling in the village square.

At 11.22am (although I have no idea as to the significance of the time) the attendees assembled into a parade in the middle of the road, headed by some Tricolor bearers, followed by the firemen and then the general public. We marched out of the square, turning right on the blind corner, out into the main road. (I suppose we were lucky

that no car came racing around the corner at that moment, otherwise there might have been an incident). About a minute later we arrived at the war memorial outside of the Mairie and gathered around it. The assembly were mainly middle aged, I noticed a few elderly folk decorated with medals and a couple of teenagers.

The Mayor addressed the crown. ‘The Last Post’ was broadcast across the PA, followed by ‘La Marseillaise’, the flags were dipped and a floral tribute containing cornflowers, was laid on the memorial by a school boy. The Mayor said a few more words, the firemen stood to ‘attention’ in the background and there was a one minute silence. The firemen returned to ‘at ease’, the Mayor said a few more words; and then it just seemed to fizzle out and eventually the people seemed to disperse. I’ve no idea if it was connected, but the church bells started pealing out at about 12 noon, for what seemed like a random reason, lasting for about a minute before falling silent.

I don’t know if my experience was typical of small town rural France, but the event seemed less formal than I expected, although it did retain its solemnity. I was glad that I attended, I felt an affinity because it was such a familiar event from England, but also it was an opportunity to be a part of the local community.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 25
Photos by ADRIAN BLAKE by Adrian Blake

Mind your language!

As a language nerd, translator and a writer of fiction (and in a previous existence of proposals, reports, corporate documentation, advertising and PR copy), I’ve always been interested in the power of words. Tone, style and formality are equally important. Although multi-lingual, I write in my mother-tongue English, but when writing a story in a country where the residents speak a different language or other characters speak a different language, I drop in a few appropriate words of the foreign language. It can add to the flavour of the setting and/or to a character’s background.

However, there are many traps along the way. Overdoing it is one pitfall to avoid and using Google Translate is the Big Don’t.

Language traps

In French, we have several problems, one of which is the tu/vous conundrum. In English ‘you’ covers all relationships. If you want to go beyond the odd bonjour, au revoir and merci, for instance, for one character to ask if another has understood what the first one said, you need to know what the relationship is. There’s a world of difference between Tu piges? and Vous comprenez? It’s all about context!

The other things to watch are gender and verb conjugation. Dictionaries usually give the infinitive form of verbs or the singular form of nouns. Stringing them together and, in the case of German, using the correct article and adjective cases can be tricky. Even though Google Translate can provide a (rickety) translation of large chunks of text from a foreign language into English for information purposes, when going from English into another language like French, it doesn’t know its conditional from its coordinating conjunction.

When to use foreign language in your story

Above all, you want your readers to grasp what is being said. Nothing throws a reader out of a story like something baffling or jarring that leaves them wondering what just happened. If you stick to short expressions like greetings, or ma chére, mon ami, or s’il vous plaît, very few readers will feel lost. Instead, they may well be charmed.

If it’s a moment of high drama where a French-speaking character would say something such as “Va-t-en!” and push the other person away, that second character can reply, “No, I’m staying right here until you tell me what’s going on.” The reader will understand from the context what the French words meant.

One choice horror to avoid is inserting the English translation in brackets after the foreign language expression spoken by a character. I have seen it and I cringe. A good writer will find other ways to show what is meant either by the context or another character’s reaction or reflection on what was just said.

Swearing is the other place you can use foreign words. The context will convey the distress or anger of the character saying it, but the language will hopefully not upset readers as much as if the swearing was in plain English. Bon dieu or bon sang should hopefully not ruffle the sensibilities of religious believers as much as the counterpart words in English. In my modern contemporary thrillers written in English I can have my French-speaking ex-military special

forces heroine under great stress say ‘putain’ which conveys strength of feeling without English readers being upset by the f-word in black and white.

The odd word or phrase in a foreign language adds a piquancy to the narrative, dialogue and atmosphere. But you should check with a mother-tongue speaker or professional translator that vocabulary, grammar and style are correct for the time and place of the story or your credibility as a competent author could be at stake.

Bonne chance!

Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available in print and ebook.

Her new Roma Nova novel, set in the 4th century, JULIA PRIMA, is now out.

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 Book Club

Twenty-one Nights in Paris

My book selections this month have been picked to help you get into the festive spirit. When the stress of Christmas hits, make yourself a hot chocolate, pick up one of these books and find the magic of Christmas once more.

Ren and Sacha should never have met, but when their worlds collide a bit of Paris magic begins, and it didn’t take me long to fall hook line and sinker into this rich storyline.

Ren was vulnerable and easy to warm to, despite her rich-girl naivety. Her enthusiasm for the hidden Paris she discovers with Sacha shines from the pages. Sacha is broody, and mysterious enough to make him intriguing. The situations they find themselves in are often awkward, sometimes hilarious, embarrassing (if her grandmother is around), but also heart-melting. The emotions in this book are complex and not always easy, but I loved every page.

To begin with, I thought I had this book sussed. I quickly realised I was wrong. It was so much more than an unexpected boy meets girl romance. It was about faith, about discovery and about letting go of past traumas to realise the future is always up for grabs for those who are brave enough. It was poetry, it danced in the shadows, it shone with hope. It was one of those books I couldn’t put down, but I didn’t want to reach the end either.

As you would expect from a Christmas novel full of romance, Paris as a location sparkled just as much as the story and I felt like I was there, seeing it all for the first time, just like Ren.

This is a book worth reading this Christmas.

A White Christmas on Winter Street by Sue Moorcroft Review

Sky picks up the keys to The Corner House, in Middledip, she is at a low point in her life, but is thrust into the spotlight as hers is the only house that could let down the street in the Christmas decorating competition. There is no time to slowly adjust to her new life as she is drawn into the community, despite her fiercely independent nature.


Sky was a lovely character, (one of those who you wish you could be real-life friends with). She is passionate about nature and wildlife, and if she can make a difference to the environment, she will. Her enthusiasm was infectious, and I wanted to be more like Sky.

As Christmas in Middledip draws closer, this book is full of community spirit, crisp snow and warming hot chocolate, but there are lots of tough issues for many of the characters to deal with too. These rollercoaster emotional situations added an extra dimension to the book that made the characters and the village feel real. I cried with Sky, laughed at Wilfs antics and felt safe when Daz was around. In fact, I’ve got a confession to make. I read most of this book on the drive back from a UK visit and became so wrapped up in it that for a brief moment I actually thought we were driving back from celebrating Christmas and completely forgot that husband and son in the car hadn’t been with me in Middledip – oops!

One of the things I’ve come to look forward to reading every winter is Sue Moorcroft’s latest Christmas novel set in Middledip. If you are looking for a festive escape filled with Christmas magic and sparkle, with lots of emotional scenes, that will warm you like a rich and creamy hot chocolate, this one is another winner. If you haven’t discovered the magic of Middledip yet, this is your chance.

Month’s Book
800 words short story competition 2022 Write an original fictional story in English. Max 800 word count. Judging panel includes well known author Alison Morton and our very own book reviewer Jacqui Brown closing date 31/12/22 More info at Send entries or questions to

La Carte

Taking Better Photographs ... Shoot A Project

Are most of your photographs similar to most of your other photographs?

You can change what you are photographing by going to different places or deliberately choosing different subjects. And one way you can stretch your photography is by focusing on one area – one photography project. This does not have to be exclusive. Not all your photography has to

be focused on the project, but enough to ensure it makes you work at it.

The subject could be almost anything. It could be a series of similar subjects from teapots to churches, from shoes to skyscrapers. It could be scenes from a regular walk or journey, or the same place every day or week. It could be a deliberate documentary record of something, perhaps a place or person.

It could be people – yourself, your partner, your neighbours or unknown people in the street. And a word of caution. Copyright laws in France are not the same as in the UK. In the UK if you are in a public place you can photograph anything you can see. In France if the subject of your photograph is a person then strictly you need their permission, and they have a right to require you to delete any images of them. And you should be particularly careful about photographing children – however innocent your motives others may assume differently.

Other possibilities include – pets, birds or animals, objects in your home, a particular form of water – such as mirror surfaces or when it is moving, historic buildings, empty roads, a sport, hands, activities such as someone cooking or working, food, documenting your day, gardening and gardens – both full shots and close up, reflections, black & white, a particular colour, clouds, shots through windows,

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay Photographs by Steve Marshall Steve Marshall

doors, dawn and dusk, patterns, night-time, and the list goes on for ever.

I suggest shooting a project because it is all too easy to leave your camera unused, especially with lockdowns and masks and that there is always too else much to do.

A project makes you take photographs. A project also helps you break the habit of just taking photographs because something looks nice. It is easy to stroll along, see something, raise camera, take shot and move on. It is harder and more productive if you have an aim in mind, an intention. A project makes you look at your own

photographs and try and work out what you could do with a particular subject.

Because everyone has a camera in their phone the number of photographs being taken has increased enormously. They seem to fall into three broad categories. The first is the traditional snapshot, the record of a person at a time, a particular event or place. The second is the recent growth of providing evidence that you were at a place or event or with someone, often defined by the selfie. And the third is where what matters is the image – not the person or the place but the shape and structure and colour and composition of an image.

A project pushes you toward the last of these. The results do not have to be nice or pretty or safe. They might be but they do not have to be.

The project illustrated in these photographs came about by accident. I had been taking photographs with some friends in Parthenay and realised I had a variety of shots of doors and windows. This evolved into collecting images on the broader subject of ‘entrances and exits’. This allowed gates and paths and stairways also to be included.

The grey stone of many local buildings drew me to reduce the colour saturation in some pictures. And the vibrancy of foliage and sky pulled me to emphasize the colour in others.

These are a mixture of DSLR pictures and mobile phone shots followed by some relatively gentle editing.

Some are very much taken in a moment because the natural light worked for me. Others were considered more than once and taken when the colours seemed right, even if I subsequently desaturated them.

A project does not need to be long term but I think it works best if it is something you do not regularly shoot. You chose a new subject and set a goal of at least a dozen and see where it takes you.

If you would like to meet some fellow photographers please drop me a line at

Do you fancy having your picture published here?

I am considering writing a column or two on portrait photography and thought this would work best with a model.

If you would be interested in being a model for this then please get in touch on and we can discuss what could work for us both.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 29

It really is just one day out of the year but preparing for Christmas can take days or weeks, especially if you are the host. This festive day of celebration spent with family and friends is supposed to be joyful, but it can become extremely stressful if you put too much pressure on yourself. Don’t get caught up with what we are told Christmas holidays are supposed to be like and how you’re supposed to feel. With a little forethought and some detailed planning, your Christmas Day will be more enjoyable for your guests and give you time to enjoy both the preparations and the day itself.

Keep your expectations modest.

Don’t try to live up to that picture-perfect greeting card, it isn’t real! We’re conditioned to have a certain vision of Christmas based on nostalgia that has been used to sell literature, advertising and social media to name just a few. We are under pressure to do more, buy more, decorate more, give more, eat more. More lights, more glitter must mean more joy, when in reality there is potentially more stress and more disappointment if you feel like you’re not living up to it all.

Give yourself a break.

Worrying about trivial matters will not add to your festive spirit. Don’t run yourself ragged just to live up to Christmas

Taking the stress out Christmasof

traditions. Is it the end of the world if you don’t get the lights on the roof this year or use those special Christmas mugs hiding in the loft? If you always get anxious in the run up to the festive season, maybe this year is the time to set some realistic boundaries.

Say No to the things you don’t want to do.

This can really help you to enjoy everything else. You don’t have to say yes to every invitation. Going to a party doesn’t mean you are obliged to stay until the end. It’s okay to just drop by and stay for a while. The hosts will understand that it’s a busy time of year and appreciate your effort. Talk to a friend and arrange to arrive and leave together, you may feel much better knowing you have an ally and a set time to spend. People often feel obliged to keep family Christmas traditions alive long past the point that anyone’s actually enjoying them. Don’t keep them going for their own sake. Think about starting new traditions instead, something that is more meaningful to you and your family now.

Talk about money.

This is a difficult point but it’s not a taboo subject. Others are probably feeling the same way but no one wants to bring it up! One idea is to suggest a Secret Santa approach, agree a budget that everyone is happy with and spend the time choosing the right personal gift for your allocated

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022

name; perhaps the family could agree to only buy presents for the children. Please remember that the value of the gift is not a sign of how much you care for your loved ones!

Make a Christmas budget and stick to it.

By creating boundaries for your spend you can help reduce the stress as you have a plan for your money. Budgeting for Christmas will help you avoid the impulse purchases or spending too much on those white elephant gifts. There’s nothing worse than waking up the day after Christmas worrying where your money went. Plan ways to reduce spending, do you really need any new decorations or tableware. Set time limits too – by making a quick visit to the shops there is less time for temptation. Take only a fixed sum of money with you and leave your credit cards at home. Even if you are tempted to buy more than you planned, your limited budget will stop you. Visit only those stores you need to, don’t get distracted by beautiful shop windows displaying goods you don’t really need.

Don’t cook what you don’t need.

Don’t just make something because you feel you should. If no-one eats the bread sauce why have it on the table. If the family recipe takes forever- find an easier alternative. Keep in mind you don’t have to do everything. Pick and choose which parts of the meal to toil over, then go ahead and cut corners elsewhere by buying ready-made. Leftovers are one of the best parts of Christmas indulging, but as a host you don't want to be left with too much food. Put together some containers, paper plates and plastic bags so that after dinner leftovers can be portioned equally and handed to guests as they leave. Everyone will end up with some food to-go, and you’ll have less to clean up at the end of the day.

Go easy on the wrapping.

We all love a tree surrounded by beautifully wrapped gifts but the additional elaborate bows and ribbons are just going to be thrown away and there is also the environmental cost to be considered. If your gathering is small, you could even forgo the name tags, perhaps using colour-coded wrapping paper for each person.

Festive wrappings can be expensive, if you have the time and expertise try making your own labels and wrapping. There are plenty of on-line sites to help you personalize your presents. If you can sew, buy some fabric and make Christmas bags which can be reused. Be original and save yourself a little extra cash.

Look after yourself.

Do the little things that set the atmosphere like putting up the decorations with a little Christmas music. Get out the Christmas oils and candles in the winter spiced fragrances, our sense of smell is the strongest sense and the one most tied to memory and emotion. Don’t forget that while you may feel like all the pressure is on you, your friends and family all want to share the day with you. It’s okay to ask for help with the cooking, washing up or even ask them to bring some pre-made food and snacks. As much as you can, try to keep your normal routine during the Christmas season. Don’t stay too late at parties. Don’t stay up all night wrapping presents at the last moment, losing out on sleep can make your mood deteriorate. Remember to get outside in the fresh air and move. Exercising offers the body a way to process and release stress hormones and being in nature is important for both our emotional and physical health. Take the family on your own Christmas lights walking tour Anything is better than nothing! Being ill at Christmas is the absolute worst—but exercising, getting outside, and resting are all immune-boosting activities that will help you feel strong, peaceful and healthy.

Above all, appreciate the festive period, spend time with loved ones and actually just have a great time over your holidays. As the great song says “have yourself a merry little Christmas” but be glad it doesn’t happen every day!

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 31

On The Road

Laughs and ChaLLenges in moroCCo : 2022 km oFFroad For CanCer researCh and a 4th pLaCe Finish.

Anew off road rally in Morocco giving 100% of the event profits to cancer research (70% to CHU Poitiers and 30% to Fondation Lalla Salma in Morocco) was always going to grab my attention, so on 28th September Priscilla and I, along with new team mate and long time friend, Marcella, set out on our journey south from Poitiers towards the start line in Fes, Morocco.

Despite a rather late formation of the team, we were confident that our preparation was the best it could be, and we were looking forward to the challenge, up against all female and mixed teams, and navigating using a road book and compass.

The first stage of the Rallye des Aventurieres Solidaires took us along narrow winding mountain tracks through the cedar forests, often with a sheer drop to the side, and concentration was needed to stay on the road.

For Marcella it was her first experience of using the road book “in anger” and we did make a few small errors, but nothing horrendous.

We were trying to keep a regularity of 30km, which doesn’t sound like a lot, but on technical ground it was quite tricky, and I often felt I was driving faster than I was comfortable with, particularly on steep descents.

We saw monkeys, goats, and sheep along the way, and passed through villages clinging to the mountainsides along the 159km special stage.

Stage two was the most difficult I think, or at least for us. There were so many different types of terrain, the navigation was really tricky, the visibility was very poor as a misty haze hung over the northern part of the Sahara, and a long 12km section down an oued had me clenching my buttocks.

We saw our first camels, a scorpion and a bright pink iguana! We actually cried together at the end of the stage; we were so happy to finally see those finish flags.

But Priscilla took it all in her stride and despite the challenges, we held 5th place overall as we headed further south to the dunes of Merzouga.

Day three saw the tyre pressures lowered right down and the sun shining as we drove out into the dunes to surf the sand.

Priscilla passed through the Erg with no dramas, never getting stuck, and we returned ready to face a dune slalom course.

That was so much fun. Marcella’s previous eventing experience on horseback made her the perfect co-pilot to call out the course while I concentrated on getting Priscilla through the obstacles. We absolutely loved it!

After a magical night in a desert camp, day four was the shortest special stage of the whole event at just 55km around the Erg in which we finished in 4th position.

On day five we continued west to Zagora and a combination of small factors saw us stuck in the sand in the first part of the stage.

After a clear run through the dunes it was just frustrating. However we have all the recovery gear, we know how to use it and we were able to extract ourselves with some digging and the sand ladders, but we did lose time in the stage and finished in 6th position. It could have been worse.

In Zagora Priscilla was able to get some TLC from Abdou and the team at Garage Sahara Zagora while we got a massage to prepare for the longest stage of the rally as we headed to Icht on Day 6.

With two special sections totalling 267km and liaisons of 136km, this was a fast stage with open stony tracks, and I pushed Priscilla quite hard to cross the finish line less than

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
All photographs courtesy of Helen Tait-Wright

14 minutes behind the leading car, but still in 5th place. Our average speed that day was 79 km/h!

The drama of the day came when the only fuel station within a 80km radius had no diesel, and with all the crews and support vehicles needing fuel, there was concern at the camp. Luckily a late night delivery of fuel in a Sprinter van full of cans solved the problem!

The penultimate stage was full of challenges. The navigation caught us out early on and then we ran into a bad sand storm on an open plain.

It was really scary. Suddenly we had absolutely no visibilty and the only thing we could do was follow the compass heading. Luckily we obviously did that well and we emerged on the correct track, which was a relief.

But it didn’t end there. Further through the stage on a twisty mountain road the Priscilla’s engine cut out.

The stage took in a long drive through a magical oued, complete with puddles after heavy rains a few days before, to emerge on the beach with the sea in front of us. Stunning.

After that we drove around 30km on the beach with the sea lapping at Priscilla’s wheels.

After the final liaison, the rally terminated in Agadir where we finished in a respectable fourth position overall !!! The old girls did good !!!

At the time of writing we do not have the final figure for the amount being donated to cancer research but we know it is over 6500 euros.

At first I thought Marcella had accidently kicked the emergency battery cut off, but then I realised the dash lights were still on so it had to be fuel. It wasn’t, as I first thought, dodgy fuel from the night before, but in fact the fuel cut off solenoid had failed, cutting the supply to the engine.

Although we were carrying a spare, the dangerous breakdown position, coupled with a very hot engine and 36.5 degree heat and no shade meant that the organisers decided to recover us to the overnight stop. From a safety point of view they made the right call but it was a disappointing end to a difficult day.

With Priscilla fixed and ready for the final stage, we were determined to enjoy the last day of our rally and set off for the white beaches on the Atlantic coast.

Following the rally, we visited our personal humanitarian project, the school in Talataste in the Atlas mountains, once again distributing backpacks and school supplies to the children.

It is always a joy to return to Talataste, and it was wonderful to see the computer equipment that Giti funded last year in use. We are so proud to be able to help these children live their best lives.

We were accompanied on the trip by the wife of the British Ambassador to Morocco, Sophie Martin.

Now we are planning our event calendar for 2023 ….. watch this space!

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 33

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Drive business to your door Advertise here Contact us for details 34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022

Health, Beauty and Fitness

Health Matters

It never fails to surprise me that the seasons here are so dramatically different to northern England. Excluding the ferry crossing it’s only 513.7 miles from North Yorkshire to Chez Nous (I know cos we cycled it once), yet summer starts a month earlier and lasts until mid-October. The clocks go back, then one day you notice a few leaves on the lawn and the next day the trees are bare – that was autumn done - and suddenly it’s winter, with ground frosts and two jumpers and the need to light the wood burner every evening. Next, it's the winter solstice and Hanukkah and Christmas and the ski season.

As you already know, in our house we are generally up for an adventure and while there is a small handful of things that I would never try – cage diving with great whites and taking illegal drugs for instance, my husband has a rather longer list. Sadly, this includes skiing. He is of the opinion that at the age of almost 70 the risk of injury is too great for a total novice, so snowman building and watching Ski Sunday is as risky as our winter sporting activity gets.

For those who already ski, I’m sure you know about preparing your body for your trip to the slopes. For those who are taking to the piste for the first time, I’m not suggesting that you get your liver in training ready for all that après ski, but I do encourage gently working up your cardio fitness and stamina, and strengthening your thighs, stretching your hamstrings, walking up a few hills etc. There’s plenty of advice to be found online but be aware that skiing uses a unique set of muscles and it definitely pays to be prepared!

You’ll no doubt have raked out your stored salopettes and jackets, weird socks with no heel and goggles with yellow lenses, but my next advice is to consider getting a ski helmet. While it is not compulsory in French law to wear a helmet, many ski schools insist and even if they don’t, I hope that you will join the 80% of skiers and boarders who have already adopted the helmet habit. You can of course choose to rent one, in which case I’d recommend you get a little cotton beanie to wear underneath. I don’t know about you, but I can be a bit squeamish about head hygiene!

It's rubbish to have to be health aware when you are looking forward to a holiday, and of course those who take all the precautions can still end up in Urgences because accidents happen in those stupid unforeseen moments, no? Well, this is the interesting bit – according to research, most ski/snowboard accidents happen between 3.30pm and 5pm.

There are a number of reasons suggested to explain this.

Firstly, when the sun has dropped, the temperature takes a tumble too. This changes the texture of the snow which begins to ice up in clumps, making the piste that you may have been happily skiing all day, more difficult to negotiate. Next, later in the day you are not in ski-school being coached and carefully guided by someone who knows your limits, so you are more likely to do something daft or take a risk or join friends and family who have a higher ability than you. And lastly, you are getting tired and probably hungry.

So, what can you do with this knowledge?

I’d suggest the following -

1. Read the skiers code. (Look it up – the one I found is Canadian, but it works everywhere.)

2. Wear a helmet.

3. Don’t kid yourself or be flattered by others about your ability. Know your limits.

4. Be aware that those around you are also likely to be tiring as the sun goes down. Collisions with other skiers are the most common cause of accidents!

5. Get fit before going away.

6. Ensure your boots fit well. Do not rush when trying on boots, resist any pressure from others in your group to get a move on, or from the hire shop staff who may just want to get onto the next customer. If you can, check that the boots disengage from the ski bindings easily.

7. Towards the end of the day seriously consider whether ‘one last run’ is realistic, or whether a vin chaud and a slab of brioche is preferable. And definitely don’t neck the vin chaud and then decide ‘sod it lets do one last run…..’

I would like to finish with a bit of reassurance, (to my husband and) to anyone that is feeling a bit worried having already booked their first-time ski experience. Stats show that the overall injury rate is 3 injuries per 1,000 skiing days, and 4-16 per 1,000 snowboarding days. Which I’m told means that if you ski on 20 days a year, on average you’ll sustain an injury every 16-17 years.

So, take sensible precautions, stay aware, don’t forget the sun-cream and have a great time!

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 35
Sue x
Images courtesy of Sue Lennon

Your Ground Yoga - Yoga for where you are

Your body is not you

About twenty years ago, I visited a friend in California who suffered from multiple sclerosis. She was very weak that day and could barely get up off the couch. When I asked her how she was doing in general, her answer surprised me, “My body is having a hard time, but I am fine.” I sensed there was something very profound about her reply to me, but at the time it eluded me. What did she mean, exactly. Who was this ‘I’ apart from the body that she was referring to?

One of the most powerful long-term effects of a regular yoga practice is a fundamental transformation in our relationship with our bodies. In modern cultures, we suffer from an extreme identification with the body. We feel that we are our bodies, and our bodies are us. When our body gets sick, we say, “I’m sick” as if our entire identify is involved. But not everyone responds to illness the same way. Some people manage to maintain a core sense of themselves, regardless of the discomfort and suffering they are undergoing, that is unaffected by the illness. Such people are not in denial about their illness, and they do experience pain and all the rest of it, but their illness does not define them. Other people get utterly consumed by the illness, which acts as the gravitational force of the entire fabric of their lives.

I’ve long been fascinated by these different responses. What I suspect is that the people who do not lose themselves to their diagnosis do not identify as much with their bodies; or put another way, they identify with a wider sense of who they are. The illness is not able to affect this deeper sense of themselves. This is also the deeper sense of yoga – a path that uses the body as a tool to free the mind from an over-identification with the body.

Unfortunately, the kind of yoga that is performed, even in India nowadays, often takes people in the opposite

direction. Yoga done merely as a trendy form of exercise can create more body-identification, not less. There is nothing wrong with losing weight, toning muscles, or improving strength and flexibility. But from a yogic perspective these are merely side effects of the real medicine, which is a profound psychological, emotional and spiritual transformation that unites our everyday consciousness with a deeper and vaster sense of self. The self with a capital ‘S’. From the point of view of this Self, going around thinking that I am the body seems as odd as going around thinking I am my trousers, or I am my overcoat.

There are steps and stages to this journey of disidentification with the body. One of the signs that this might be happening to you, is a long-lasting sense of lightness and levity in the body, a higher than usual pain threshold and tolerance of extremes of temperature. As the yogic practices help the body’s subtle inner channels to begin to flow, then the ‘space’ within the cells become activated as prana – subtle vital energy moves within it. In fact, the body begins to feel more like a dynamic vessel of energy and space than a decaying lump of meat and bone. This is because the identification has shifted from the gross physical to the more subtle planes of existence. And as my kind teacher always said, when you find the right direction, keep going!

For information on lessons and classes or questions about yoga, you can contact me at

As always, respect yourself, explore yourself.

For information on yoga and breathe better courses contact

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022

Discovering A New Skill

For the last two years, we’ve been telling people about how amazing our alpacas’ fleeces are and the special qualities of their wool. We get two different qualities of wool from the alpacas depending on where it’s taken from on the body. The first quality wool can commonly be compared with merino wool; an incredible calibre wool. Being a natural fibre it will always allow easy breathing when worn, which can usually be directly onto the skin without irritation. Each individual fibre is hollow, a great insulating quality. It’s no surprise then that it’s four times warmer than sheeps’ wool. So, we feel a responsibility to do it justice with its use.

When asked what we do with it, we would confidently say “with the first quality wool, we will have it spun and knit clothing with it, with the second quality we use the technique of wet felting.” This was certainly the truth for the second quality wool which we have been wet-felting for some time; around soaps, for decorations, slippers, blankets and trivets. But, it would be a huge waste to do this with the first quality wool. The reality for the knitting of the spun wool was that it was in the future and of course I would magically know how to do it.

It took us over a year to find the right artisan who could spin our wool for us to our specific brief here in France, several people had advised us to use an overseas service. Here’s why: many alpaca breeders here will work together and combine their wool, matching quality and colours together, they then receive a weight of wool in return correlating to their fleeces contributed. Whilst it’s a great initiative, this wasn’t the way forward for us. We were in love with the idea of being able to be a farm with traceable products, from animal to home, where responsible buying was easy. Whilst ours is the more expensive production route, this idea of a “Clove bandeau” or a “Rohini beanie” was really important to us, respecting the producing animal, knowing it’s given an enriched life with the highest welfare standards was non-negotiable.

So, having found the perfect artisan, I needed to practise knitting. The realisation came that I’m not actually a keen crafter. The problem for me is the need to follow instructions exactly and keeping focus; I do tend to get bored a little too easily and too frustrated when I make a

mistake. I practised with nylon wool so as not to waste the valuable alpaca wool with my errors. It did not go well and I was more frustrated than ever. Knitting did not look appealing to me.

Spoiler alert, perhaps some of you already know, we do actually have a wonderful selection of 100% alpaca wool homemade knits. So, how did I manage to turn this around? With an order from Will for a woollen hat made from Clove, the passion I had for the alpaca’s wool and thinking about the happiness it would bring my husband to have this piece, I put down the nylon wool and dove straight in. It was really that simple for me. I knew I couldn’t waste the alpaca wool, it was too good, too precious, too expensive to not do my best. And with that, I found my muse. With quality material and the knowledge of the joy alpacas bring to people, I knew having these pieces would be appreciated

by many.

I started off simple and if I’m honest, just “did” without understanding the technique. Since then, I’ve added a little crochet finishes to some pieces (yes, another new skill) and also created a couple of my own patterns, that I’m practising and finessing before they’re made public!

I’m very satisfied with my new skill, feeling like a child who learned to tie their shoelaces for the first time, that I’m now considering learning more crafting skills over the winter months with my new knowledge of how I am motivated; quality materials and the finished product needs to be able to bring someone joy!

If you are interested in meeting Sophie, Will and the alpacas, why not get in touch via

Photograph courtesy of Sophie HargreavesPhotographerDonatien Millet
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 37

Love Your garden

38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 Home and Garden

Now is the time to:

• Prune Birch (Betula) trees, Japanese maples (Acer palmatum), Lime(tilia), Laburnum, and grape vines this month, making sure the pruning is finished by Christmas. A short time after Christmas, the sap begins to rise in these plants, in preparation for Spring. If pruning is left until the New Year, they are likely to ‘bleed’ sap, which weakens them and leaves them open to attract pests and infections. The first time I pruned my Grape vine (being ‘unschooled’ in how to do it), it was a bit late and the sap dripped quite quickly everywhere and I rushed around in my naivety trying to block the wounds with plaster!! A lesson quickly learnt! The bleeding does stop naturally and will seal itself. Plasters don’t work, but pruning at the correct time does! When pruning at any time, look out for signs of disease and cut off any affected growth.

• Once again, make sure all plant supports and tree ties are secure or strengthened, to protect plants from wind damage. The ties should not be too tight otherwise ‘wounds’ could result on the stems and again lead to damage and infection. Whilst doing this activity, tidy up any straggly long stems and just neaten the plants appearance overall. Don’t do too much trimming back on climbers that flower on last years’ growth otherwise there will be no flowers next season.

• If there has been a frost, sometimes the earth around the root-balls can be lifted and expose the lower stems and roots of plants……especially those newly planted. Just gently push the soil back into place and firm down well.

• Hardwood cuttings from shrubs, climbers and deciduous trees can still be taken and new additions can be added to the garden. Transplanting can also be carried out as long as the soil is not waterlogged or frozen.

• Trim back the foliage on hellebore specimens so that the new flowers will be able to be seen. This action also helps to prevent hellebore leaf spot disease. New hellebore plants can also be added to the borders at this time or planted out into pots. If the plants have been bought in trays or just individual seed pots, water them thoroughly before planting them out, preferably at the front of borders where their foliage can be enjoyed fully.

• If you have bought a poinsettia plant, place it in a well-lit spot that is not draughty and don’t over water them. Allow the compost to dry out completely before watering again.

• Beech and hornbeam hedges can be cut and reshaped during the next two months.

• If you have some favourite terracotta or ceramic pots in the garden, wrap them in fleece or bubble wrap to avoid damage by frost. Remove the saucers from underneath to prevent plant roots from waterlogging. I have a lot of pots and before winter sets in, I invert all the saucers so that they become small ‘platforms’ under each pot…..this ensures that all excess water drains away. Turning the saucers over raises each pot by a few centimetres off the ground and allows a bit of protection against frost damage.

• If you would like to sow some seeds of alpines, remember that the seeds need a period of chilling before germination will take place. Use free draining compost, or use potting compost adding vermiculite, perlite or fine grit/gravel to aid with the drainage. After the seeds have been sown, top dress with fine grit. Water the seeds in and leave in the pots or seed trays in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse or just place a pane of glass over the seed trays and leave them in the garden.

• Tulips can still be planted, making sure that the bulbs are buried deeply in pots or put into holes in the ground that are at least three times the depth of the bulb. Back fill the hole and cover the planting area with fine grit to remind you where each bulb has been sown and this stops them being damaged if other bulbs are planted nearby.

• It’s useful to have a garden thermometer handy, so that you can keep an eye on the outside temperatures, especially if you are growing citrus plants in pots outdoors. Lemons need a minimum temperature at night of 10°C. Feed with a winter citrus fruit fertiliser.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 39 Continued overleaf .....

• Remove any yellowing or diseased leaves from brassica plants and stake them well to avoid wind damage. If bird netting is being used, make sure it is secure so that birds don’t become trapped in it.

• Examine peach and nectarine trees for signs of peach leaf curl ... the look of this disease exactly suits its appearance! Affected leaves are reddish in colour, distorted and wrinkled. Rough patches develop on the skin of the fruit which soon cracks open. If left untreated, the infection can build up in the tree eventually causing its death. Treat and control by applying sulphur or copper based fungicides. Spray the entire tree after the autumn leaf fall is complete and spray again in early spring before any buds open.

• Bare root fruit trees can planted now.

• Avoid walking on frosted lawn areas as this can cause compaction in the soil.

• Make sure that pond surfaces are kept clear of debris, fallen leaves, algae and anything that may have blown onto the water after strong winds.

• Seeds of hardy trees and shrubs can be sown now so that the lower temperatures will help to break the seeds dormancy. Sow the seeds in pots of good quality seed compost, cover the surface with grit and leave in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse where they will germinate in spring.

• Climbing roses can be pruned between now and the end of February.

• Continue to harvest parsnips, leeks, sprouts and winter cabbage.

• Prune established blackcurrant bushes removing up to a third of the old stems right down to the ground leaving the younger wood intact as these younger stems will bear the fruit next year. The cut off stems can be used as hardwood cuttings, by trimming them to about 20cms lengths and pushing them into pots of compost or directly into a bit of spare ground.

• Check the greenhouse regularly for whitefly, scale insects and mealy bugs and treat accordingly. These insects will carry on living and growing, damaging plants and reproducing themselves, so treat promptly and add that layer of fine grit to discourage them.

• If there is large, mature clump of rhubarb growing in the garden, rejuvenate it by lifting the clump from the earth, including as much of the foliage as possible. Cut the clump into sections, ensuring that each new clump has some good-sized shoot buds and good roots. Replant each new clump adding some good organic matter to the soil (wellrotted manure is ideal) making sure that the shoot buds are at soil level. Water well.

• Collect any remaining fallen leaves and store them in large plastic rubbish bags with the ties tied. Puncture the bags in several places to allow air to get in and leave them at the bottom of the garden and forget about them. After a couple of years you will have sacks full of lovely leaf mold goodness to add to your flower beds, veg patch or pots.

• If any of the brassica vegetables developed club root this year, rake lime into the soil to deter the disease from coming back next year. Adding lime raises the acidity of the soil and it deters the disease. Wear gloves when using lime as it is quite corrosive on the skin. Wear a mask too to prevent you from inhaling the lime dust.

Continued ..... 40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022

• This month is an ideal time to take root cuttings. Primulas and verbascums are good to try this out. Cut some sections of root from the established plant and divide these into lengths of about 5 cms. Fill a seed tray with damp compost and lay each root section onto the compost and cover with a further layer of compost. Leave in a frost free place during winter.

• Look through your seed stock and check whether some seeds are well past their ‘best before’ date. Those that are really out of date should be discarded. I always find

So now is come our joyful feast, let every man be jolly; Each room with ivy leaves is dressed, and every post with holly.

this difficult to do as we have all heard tales of seeds germinating years after the given dates. I found several packets of seeds in my greenhouse and I took a decision to sow them all….some around the base of trees and some in spare soil patches. I was lucky because our summer remained so warm (hot more like) that a lot of them germinated. With the watering restrictions I couldn’t water them as much as I would normally have done, so there were some casualties! Whether the stalwart few survivors will stand a cold winter, I’ll have to wait and see! Never say die ... !

• It’s a good time to clean, repair and service tools. I re-use plant labels by soaking them in a bucket in clothes washing detergent. They come up a treat and I feel that they have been disinfected too. I scrub secateurs to remove debris and try to re-sharpen the blades, but I’ve decided to take them to the sharpeners to have them ‘done’ professionally. I try to make sure I bring everything in after a spell in the garden, but as sure as eggs, my husband will always find a pair of secateurs on a wall or in a flower bed, so I get the ‘look’!


Though some churls at our mirth repine, around your foreheads garlands twine, Drown sorrow in a cup of wine, and let us all be merry. Now all our neighbours’ chimnies smoke, their ovens they with baked meats choke, And all their spits are turning.

Without the door let sorrow lie, and if for cold it hap to die, We’ll bury it in a Christmas pie and evermore be merry.

Now every lad is wondrous trim, and no man minds his labour; Our lasses have provided them a bagpipe and a tabor.

Young men and maids, and girls and boys, Give life to one another’s joys and you anon shall by their noise

Perceive that they are merry.

Then wherefore in these merry days should we, I pray, be duller? No, let us sing some roundelays to make the mirth the fuller.

And whilst we thus inspired sing, let all the streets with echoes ring; Woods and hills, and everything bear witness we ARE merry!

George Wither 1558-1667

George Wither, was a poet, hymn writer and satirist. He was born on the 11th June 1588 at Bentworth in England. Educated at Magdalene College Oxford, he wrote many hymns, poems, and satirical verses. He lived through some of the most interesting and tumultuous periods of English history, including several changes of monarch, Elizabeth 1st, James 1st, Charles 1st; the Civil War, the Parliamentary period and the Restoration. He lived in London during the time of the Great Plague after which he wrote an epic poem/account called ‘Britain’s Remembrancer’, a description of life in England at that time. He served on the side of the Parliamentarians during the Civil War and spent several periods in prison for his satirical works and for criticising the House of Commons.

George Wither died on May 2nd 1667 after an unusually long and productive life.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 41

One of the most satisfying jobs in the garden, for me, whether it’s the potager or the ‘other bit’, is brambling. The gentle art of trying to remove the most vicious, tenacious plant without being ripped to pieces. If you have spent time pulling up brambles, you’ll know what I mean; if you haven’t, you don’t know what you’re missing! Even with good gloves, thorns manage to get through and as for wearing long sleeves for protection, don’t bother as you’ll be grabbed and find it difficult to get free without ripping the fabric. There is a masochistic pleasure in clearing brambles. Working with brambles always reminds me of Jack Hargreaves, remember him? For those of you who have never heard of him, I shall tell you a little about him. He presented a programme on British television called ‘Out of Town’ which started in the 1960s and ended in the early ‘80s in which countryside ways of life were illustrated. One episode that comes to mind is when an old man was filmed who made bee skeps from straw and brambles and it showed how the brambles were stripped and used to bind the straw. They were also used in basket making and still might be. If you are interested in the old rural ways of life and traditions, it is a wonderful series – I have a boxed set!


December 2022

At one end of the potager grow three plum trees which haven’t produced very well for a couple of years, a cherry tree and an enormous bay. The brambles took over –literally. They had climbed up, through and over the plum trees and I finally decided the time had come to free the poor strangled plums. Sécateurs, loppers and fork at the ready, I donned my sturdy gloves and went on the attack! Cutting them back gave me access to the roots and oh joy, the soil was happy to give the roots up often without too much of a fight. The thorny bits though (do they have a proper name?) were feisty at times and I was fascinated to see how far my skin would stretch when in the grip of brambles. The blood did flow at times and at the end of each session – it took a few days – my arms were a mass of scratches and piercings and thorns were, on occasion, picked out of my scalp.


I did it.

Four days of cutting, digging and pulling and I have reclaimed part of the potager that has been a thorn in my side for a couple of years. One of those jobs that was dreaded but once started, was actually quite enjoyable and the end result a tremendous reward. The amazing thing was, I didn’t bend, or break the fork and only fell over once when a bramble unexpectedly relinquished its hold! Not only has it opened the potager up, it has given me a nice place to sit and ponder…

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
All photographs by Donna Palframan

As you can imagine, not a lot of sowing or planting has been happening. Not only did the brambles take over my life but there isn’t a lot of sowing to be done at the moment. I sowed some spinach, mâche, radish and lettuce seeds in the polytunnel and the spinach and radish have germinated but are slow but it is my first foray into Autumn sowing so I’m not too disheartened. I have plenty of radis noir in the potager to keep us going until the others grow properly. I also discovered that roasted radis noir taste just like roasted turnips and I intend to pickle some too. If the spinach doesn’t take off, then I will just replace it with rocket, which has self seeded and growing very well outside mixed with coriander. Once upon a time, I had this vision of neat, orderly rows of vegetables but now my vision is of a productive, less regimented potager, making the most of vegetables that self seed but controlling them. I have learnt my lesson well from the nasturtium mistake! Another lesson learnt the hard way is that some plants need a bit of support and it is better to provide it sooner rather than later. Broad beans and Brussels sprouts, in fact, anything with a single main stem and height need staking. The broad beans were bashed about by the wind and most of the Brussels are growing at a jaunty angle at the

moment so my next job is to give them a bit of support. We have a lot of bamboo so I have the means on site. It’s just a shame I took a big bundle to the déchèterie in a fit of over zealous tidying up.

The potager is feeding us well, better now than during the canicule especially with regular harvests of all types of leafy greens and there are some lovely fat leeks just ready to be dug up. Some are being used for supper this evening in a creamy leek and mushroom on a base of wilted young rainbow chard and topped with mozzarella and emmental. A few chopped sage leaves and garlic will be added to the leeks and mushrooms. The galette is my new favourite pastry dish for times when I feel lazy. I usually have a roll of ready made pâte feuilleté in the fridge so I just open it, unroll it and put the filling in the middle then fold up the sides. It is transferred to the pizza stone on its baking paper wrapper et voilà! I think a leek and potato soup needs to be on the menu soon too!

The self seeded Russian Chard which was transplanted is thriving and this encouraged me to pot the tomato plants that had self seeded in the same area. Apart from a couple of weedy ones, the others are growing well and there are self seeded tomatoes growing in the no dig bed in the polytunnel so these are going to be nurtured over the winter, hopefully giving me a head start on the tomato season. They will be given extra protection during the cold months along with the chilies, some of which are still producing fruits and the ones already on the plant are ripening like this orange habaneros.

A little jewel on a gloomy day!

As well as the potager, Donna operates Gîtes St Vigor & St Martin in Basse Normandie

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 43


If you know of a budding beekeeper and they have been extremely well-behaved this year (or just not too naughty) then perhaps you’ll consider buying them something beerelated for Christmas. You could also treat yourself instead of waiting for someone else to get the hints you have been dropping for the past few weeks….!

Here are some gift ideas:

A starter kit, consisting of a hive plus frames, a beesuit, gloves, a smoker, a hive tool, a brush and a queen clip. New beekeepers will welcome starter kits which contain all they will need (minus the bees) to set up an apiary, along with the protective clothing that is a must-have. There is a school of thought that advocates ‘bare-handed beekeeping’ but this is espoused by people who have dealt almost exclusively with stingless bees and who are lucky enough not to react badly to bee venom. We would always advocate that you protect yourselves as well as you can, which means wearing a veil and gloves as a minimum. So, if a full starter kit is not within budget, then first on the list could be a pair of supple leather gloves with canvas sleeves. The other low-cost item in the beginner’s kit is a smoker and you can easily while away the winter learning how to light one, well ahead of acquiring a colony of bees. These items can all be bought online from the UK or France, or at beekeeping supply shops such as Naturapi in Limoges, 3MMM in Ruffec, or Materiel Apicole du Poitou near Chatellerault. The Gamm Vert stores also offer a limited basic range of beekeeping supplies.

Perhaps you’re not quite sure, just yet, whether beekeeping is for you? How about reading up on the subject? If you are already a beekeeper, a spot of revision may also come in handy. Books that we have found useful, and which are still referred to, include: The Collins Beekeeper’s Bible, and Haynes’ Bee Manual, both of which are easy and interesting reads.

At 13 Bees we run beekeeping courses throughout the spring and summer, as well as ‘taster sessions’ where you can spend an afternoon finding out about honeybees, trying some honey, and spending time at one of our hives. Gift vouchers (with the option to be personalised) are available on our website for these sessions, and can be bought lastminute for Christmas if required.

Over winter we also hold ‘wax workshops’ where attendees can learn how to make rolled candles from our own pure beeswax, along with tree decorations, wax food wraps, and tea-lights. All the details are available on our website, and gift vouchers for these sessions are also available.

We hope that all of your beekeeping adventures bring you joy, and we wish our readers all the very best for the coming festive season. All information about the courses and workshops on offer can be found on our website, or email us on or telephone us on 05 45 71 22 90

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
All photographs by Kevin & Amanda Baughen
US. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 45

Clubs and Associations

Please ensure that you check with any club or association you are planning to visit BEFORE setting off.

46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022

How many of us wake up feeling grumpy and resentful at the day but on another brimming with gratitude for our lot...? Life and the human condition make us like that, and occasionally we have the opportunity to peep into the life of others, less fortunate and it is a hard heart that doesn't appreciate the difference.

Many of you may have heard of Association Violet (AV) set up in 2019 by David & Suzette Jeapes with the initial aim of raising funds for their beautiful grandchild Violet, born with very complex physical needs and needing lifelong support.

I can't quite recall when I got involved, sitting in on meetings and graduating to hosting fundraising Tea Parties in 2021 and 2022. With the support of many generous donors and volunteers, the events were utterly exhausting, fulfilling and financially worthwhile. They, with other AV events, have generated funds to be proud of.

Our dedicated AV committee were tasked with identifying worthy recipients to allocate funds raised. Violet received the money for her all-terrain wheelchair from our anonymous benefactor, and so our thoughts were focused closer to home. With its share of youngsters with incapacitating disabilities, the French Government appears less inclined to help severely disabled children with items of necessity or benefit - often classed as 'luxury or fun'. The concept of charitable help seems more familiar and altruistic to Brits.

Recently, Suzette met with Marie, the Aunt of baby Louis who was born with complex needs and whose sad death led her to create an Association 'Pour Louis et Toi', to help other families with disabled children.

Largely with support from the French community, this Association specifically raises funds to help support six local children, two of whom we had the privilege to meet with their parents, chez Marie.

With initial butterflies settled, the warmth of their welcome was palpable. We introduced ourselves to the families, as best we could, with our somewhat limited French. Also present was a French journalist and we were immensely grateful for Marie's son, Baptiste, for his periodic considerations, deep breaths and translation services. With nerves under wraps, we managed a relaxed exchange, centred on the services, therapies and equipment needs of the children.

Gabin, a very likeable, cheeky character, has cerebral palsy with spasticity and moves around in a wheelchair. He has undergone neurosurgery in Nantes with extensive postoperative hospitalisation, and is scheduled for further surgery on his hips. Gabin needed special wheel attachments (considered a luxury), to reduce the considerable strain on his arms when mobilising. Association Violet (that's you folks...) were able to provide Gabin with the final 1,000€ required.

Diego, age 7, suffers from Type 1 Glutaric Aciduria, a rare but serious genetic condition in which the body can't process certain amino acids and causes a build-up of proteins in bodily fluids. He cannot speak and there is no cure. Diego goes to Spain twice a year for 15 days of intensive physio and there is no support for his parent’s travel, accommodation or fuel, costing 3,000€ per trip. As a result, some parents are often in a state of privation where essentials are lacking and meals are intentionally missed or unavailable.

At the heart of all of this, are parents desperate to access the best treatment for their children and be with them.

On a very special emotionally charged day at chez Marie, we donated a total of 5,000€ and it was an uplifting thing to do on behalf of you, our supporters. Sure, the increasingly inclement weather may see us huddled indoors but we, at Association Violet, very much hope that when you see an AV event advertised (Garden Parties, Bingo, Sponsored Walks, (look out for ‘The Return 2023’(!), Barn Dance, Gift Hampers....etc), you will continue your support for us and for this local group, that we have now embraced as our own.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 47
A special THANK YOU to our dedicated supporters who made giving possible. Deux-Sèvres Monthly, Perfect Pig, Pont Jarno, Moonshine Club, Natural Crafts, LPV Technology …. And to our new friends of 2022 La Belle Boutique, Get Together Club, Thenezay Line Dancers, Clesse Netball Club, St Pardoux Cattery, Funny Farm, Alpaca Farm Sanzay, Camping St Hilaire, Pause, Belle Fleurs, Le Chaps …. And with a SPECIAL mention to Bar de la Poste for helping us raise €1500 during 2022 and to a young lad called Zander who raised €45! For more information, or if you want to help, visit our website or call Suzette

Building and Renovation

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50 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction
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Up to date information about opening hours, restrictions, etc for your local déchetterie? Visit the website for details For waste disposal outside of the Deux-Sèvres there’s an alternative website YOU COULD ADVERTISE HERE EMAIL US AT INFO@THEDEUXSEVRESMONTHLY.FR
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 53 Useful English Language Numbers... Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres 06 40 77 27 35 French State health insurance advice line 08 11 36 36 46 Orange helpline 09 69 36 39 00 EDF International Customer Service 05 62 16 49 08 CLEISS (Social security advice between countries) 01 45 26 33 41 Funeral Information (AFIF) 01 45 44 90 03 or Passport Advice 0044 300 222 0000 SOS Helpline English speaking service (affiliated to the Samaritans) 01 46 21 46 46 (daily 3pm-11pm)
54 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 I love being part of a successful family business. Deborah Cherry LEGGETT AGENT If you would like the freedom to grow a successful business supported by an award winning team, please contact our recruitment department: +33 (0)5 53 60 82 77 Start a new career as a property sales agent WE ARE RECRUITING! WATCH DEBORAH’S STORY ON YOUTUBE Property TAKE A BREAK - SOLUTIONS - PAGES 10 - 11 Toughie Crossword ("Football") CARDS#MASTERS A#E#U#A#I#A#O RUM#GENERATOR V#I#G#S#E###T ERNIE#FINGERS U#I#S#I###X## PASSTHEPARCEL ##C###L#T#U#E CREASED#HASTE A###T#P#L#A#W PARTYGATE#BRA R#Y#L#R#T#L#R ICERINK#EMEND Easy Crossword: MORSEL#ALPACA #X#T##C##I#Y# OFTEN#HOSTAGE #O#A##I##C#N# CRUDE#CASHIER #D#F##K##I#T# ##BARCELONA## #F#S##N##G#D# MATTHEW#TWEED #M#N##I##E#G# VINEGAR#ADORE #N#S##E##G#E# WESSEX#PEELER Sudoku: 184537926 953621847 726984351 812745693 345869172 679312584 538276419 291453768 467198235 VOWEL SWAP : 1. Board Games MONOPOLY / SCRABBLE / CLUEDO / LUDO 2. Transport TRAIN / SHIP / PLANE / TAXI 3. Dog Breeds DALMATION / BOXER / LABRADOR / POODLE 4. Precede with "Christmas" CAROL / PRESENT / DINNER / TREE CHRISTMAS TRIVIA 1. Clarence Odbody 2. An old top hat 3. Nine ladies dancing 4. Like eskimos 5. In 1611 to King James 1st 6. Jacob and Robert Marley 7. Clockwise (for good luck)


t seems seasons come round faster each year so, with Christmas just around the corner, we’ve devised a special menu for you to sit over, savour, consider and devour!

Let’s start with our appetiser which could be the ideal starter home in wonderful Deux Sèvres though you will need to roll sleeves up and continue bringing it into the 21st century! Dating back to Napoleonic times, these three attached small cottages (A14900) in the tiny hamlet of Beugnon Thireuil (halfway between Parthenay and Fontenay le Comte) sit in a tranquil half acre of sunny land. Each is one up, one down. Renovation work has already been started on the third cottage where walls have been lined and painted giving a distinct flavour of how special this property could become – outside there’s a hangar and the two necessary stables to remind us its Christmas. It’s for sale at €54,000.

The main course is always the most important course at Christmas. We wouldn't want to disappoint so we’re offering this superb historic château in La Chapelle Bâton (119173) for your delectation.

Your property taste-buds will tingle as soon as you enter through the stone archway, between two ancient pigeonniers, opening into a charming courtyard with steps to the raised terrace from whence you survey your domain! Well maintained with many historic features retained, including stunning stone staircase in the entrance hall, the superbly sized salon has stone floors and

Charentaise fireplace, all the usual offices are on the ground floor including formal and family dining rooms as well as a hunt room! Despite its size this château has the warmth and charm of a much loved home. Upstairs to five doubles and one child’s bedroom with three bathrooms. The original chapel is on the second floor (no longer used, perfect for your nativity scene!) Outside the 24 hectares include woodland, requisite lake for a property of this importance, orchard and agricultural land. In addition there are two cottages. It would make a wonderful family home, equine property or business opportunity in this beautiful part of Deux Sèvres it’s listed at €1,260,000.

Of course there’s always a wonderful cheese course at Christmas and a mèlange of the best can be found all along the route de Chabichou.

However we’ll move swiftly to the délices of desserte with this absolutely charming detached stone house in Villemain (A13772) pretty enough to grace the top of any chocolate box! With its blue shutters it certainly will tempt your appetite and finish our feasting to perfection!

Bathed in sunshine, close to the border with Charente Maritime, oozing charm both outside with its gorgeous garden, complete with above ground pool - an essential in summer here – and within. There are four large rooms on the ground floor with beams and other original features, great kitchen and four large bedrooms upstairs – €240,000

Bon Appétit and Joyeux Noël!

Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier –you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at
LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST +33 (0)5 53 60 84 88 - - SARL Leggett Immobilier, 42 rue de Ribérac, 24340 La Rochebeaucourt et Argentine - SIRET : 521 133 835 Clessé €255,000 HAI Ref. A06999 - Spacious 3 bedroom detached house, renovated to a very high standard, with outbuildings. Energy class: E Climate class: E Agency fees included : 6% TTC to be paid by the buyer Sauzé-Vaussais €231,182 HAI Ref. A16605 - Large 5 bedroom house with garage and space for an office / studio. Energy class: D Climate class: D Agency fees to be paid by the seller Vasles €132,800 HAI Ref. A09766 - Charming 3 bedroom home with swimming pool, outbuildings and attic, in a quiet location. Energy class: D Climate class: B Agency fees included : 9% TTC to be paid by the buyer Courlay €240,000 HAI Ref. A16881 - An architect designed 3 bedroom house with garden, 2 garages, and balcony. Built 1977. DPE: In progress Agency fees included : 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer Boismé €239,999 HAI Ref. A09709 - Renovated 250 m² farmhouse with 5 bedrooms and outbuildings. On a plot of almost 6000m². Energy class: D Climate class: C Agency fees included : 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer Moncoutant-sur-Sèvre €30,000 HAI Ref. A16596 - Built around 1870, a 2 bedroom former pumping station. The perfect low-cost holiday home! DPE: Not required Agency fees to be paid by the seller Buying or Selling a Property? CONTACT US TODAY EXCLUSIVE We are urgently looking for properties! We have clients ready to buy! EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 55
56 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 08 05 69 23 23 Siret : 501 191 720 00025 APE 6831Z B eaux VillagesIMMOBILIER Buy or sell your French property with us WINNER OF BEST ESTATE AGENCY & WEBSITE FRANCE 2022 - 2023 LUCHE-SUR-BRIOUX €399,620 10Ha countryside, equestrian property full of character - beams, fireplaces & stonework, plus barns. Ref: BVI66131
€46,000 Cute 1 bed village cottage with small garden, garage, rural views. Sitting room with woodburner. Ref: BVI66152 CHEF-BOUTONNE €850,000 Set in 1.8Ha of walled grounds is this 9 bed / 7 bath château property with equestrian facilities. Ref: BVI58016 LEZAY €329,000 Handsome 4 bed / 3 bath hamlet home with exposed stone walls and beams. 5 mins to town. Ref: BVI65327 LEZAY €294,250 Two houses, formerly the village school and the master’s house offering 5 bed rooms, pool and garden. Ref: BVI57970 LES FORGES €88,000 Historic châteaux, 2 bed apartment, benefitting from a pool, tennis court & 8Ha. Rental potential. Ref: BVI58518
€70,250 Spacious, 3 bed / 3 bath village house with double glazing, mains drains and a courtyard garden. Ref: ACTAI4660 THÉNEZAY €66,000 Country property requiring renovation. Many original features, bread oven and orchard. Ref: BVI66681 We are recruiting Independent Property Consultants across South-West France to join our winning team. Want to know more? Email Tina Anderson, Head of Recruitment Be your own boss and be part of our winning team! International Associate of Savills We have some of the best property in France EXCLUSIVE EXCLUSIVE LA CHAPELLE-POUILLOUX €449,500 Showstopper - fabulous 3/4 bed barn conversion plus 3 gîtes and 12m x 6m pool in 1.9Ha. Ref: BVI64693 EXCLUSIVE

Business and Finance


Well, let’s face it; none of us want to have to use this insurance as that means we need to use a lawyer! And they are worse than insurance or bank people! Excluding me of course!

I actually have met lots of people who have this insurance and don’t have a clue what it is for! And as it is quite cheap (less than 80 euro per year), they don’t bother checking if they really need it or not.

What it is:

It is an insurance to cover legal fees (lawyers, experts, etc) in case you need them in topics such as: problems with neighbours, boundaries of property, relationships with French tax, with employers, artisans (as long as the work done is below 30 000€ but this can be increase to 300 000€ as an option) , shops, banks, insurances, the state, social workers, public transport, associations, and also to do with buying goods (even on internet or from a private person such buying a car). Basically, everything to do with your normal life. It also offers advice on the preliminaries to trouble!! E.g.: You have a neighbour with a barking dog (yes, I talk with experience there!) and you phone the helpline (or with us, come and see us or phone us) and they will explain what to do and in what order: talk to the neighbour, write a letter, write a registered letter, call in an expert to witness the barking dog and finally go to court! The fees of the expert and the legal fees of the court are covered by the policy (see limits below).

What it does not cover:

Anything to do with work if you are self-employed (although it can be added to your work liability insurance).

Also, you are not covered if you did anything illegal! And meant to do so (other than self-defense). So, if you rob a bank or decide to kill your neighbours because of the barking dog, this contract will not cover your legal fees!!

What are the limits:

Like every insurance, there are limits on how much they cover. With the Allianz contract, it is 20 000€ per claim for lawyer fees. You should have got a little booklet called “dispositions générales” and those limits are written on it. It works in France and the European Union and it does not cover claims that happened before you took out the contract.

Maximum 5 claims per year.

How does it work: You should not engage in anything before you tell the insurance company first, otherwise, they might not pay. So, you must phone or write to the insurance company first. You should always try to resolve your problems peacefully first. And only if that does not work, then call in this insurance.

How much does it cost: With Allianz it is less than 80 euro per year.

Conclusion: Believe me if I say I felt a great relief by knowing I had this insurance when my neighbour renovated part of her house to rent it to someone with a barking dog (yes, my examples are always true!) and that the peaceful solution (asking them nicely to deal with it) did not work. I did not have to go to court in the end, but knowing I had it covered, gave me peace of mind. Who hasn’t had problems with EDF or the water company or with buying some goods in the supermarket or internet and wished they could get some help finding out if they could get compensation and how. This contract can do that for you so don’t hesitate to contact me for any further information on it.

And remember to check out our web site for all my previous articles (“practical information”) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter.

You can also follow us on Facebook: “Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt”

And don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subject such as Funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc…

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec Isabelle Want Tel : 05 45 31 01 61 Mob : 06 17 30 39 11 Email : Visit our web site No Orias: 07004255
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 57

Property and taxation

Do you have any plans to move home next year? Perhaps you wish to move elsewhere in France or somewhere smaller. Or maybe 2023 is the year you buy your first French home or return to the UK. Whatever your situation, when buying or selling property you need to consider the tax implications.

Capital gains tax

The main home is generally free from capital gains tax in France. If you sell a property which is not your principle private residence, you get a reduction depending on the number of years of ownership. For the tax element, after five years of ownership your realised gain is reduced by 6% per year, then 4% in the 22nd year, giving you full CGT exemption after 22 years. For social charges, from the sixth year your liability reduces by 1.65% per year, then accelerates to 9% from year 23 to 30, after which you’re exempt.

Social charges

The French authorities have confirmed that British retirees continue to be exempt from the CRDS and CSG social charges on rental income, capital gains and investment income. They only need to pay the Prélèvement de Solidarité (PdS) which is 7.5%. You need to obtain Form S1, which you are entitled to if you receive a UK state pension.

Wealth tax

These days, wealth tax only applies to real estate, but it is to worldwide real estate. The nil rate threshold has remained €1.3 million for over 10 years and not increased with property inflation.

Note that the loophole where borrowing money against your property would reduce its net value, helping you avoid wealth tax, has been closed.

Inheritance tax

When a French resident dies, French succession tax is payable on their worldwide estate. Each beneficiary pays tax on what they receive. There are exceptions and allowances: inheritances between spouses/ PACS partners are exempt; children receive a €100,000 allowance, while more distant relatives get some smaller allowances.

Since property is illiquid, there is less flexibility for tax planning – there are more opportunities to reduce your heirs’ succession tax bills when they receive a capital sum than when they inherit property.

Other considerations

Research the ownership methods and types of marriage contracts available in France. These can impact your estate planning options as well as the inheritance tax liabilities, so you want to get this right from the outset.

If you own or are thinking of buying property besides your main home, then it is worth taking the time to research and plan for the tax implications. The succession issues are always important, even with your home. Understanding how it all works helps you take steps now to make life easier and cheaper for your heirs.

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

58 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022
from all of us at Blevins Franks
by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks

Ask Amanda

As we approach the season of goodwill, many of us think about how we can help our families more. Whilst you are our choosing presents or perhaps arranging to spend the festive period with your nearest and dearest, there is something you can do which may give them peace of mind well into the future. You can arrange for a financial review with me, either by video or face to face this provides the following benefits:

Peace of mind for you

Your financial review will look at your current financial situation and help you ensure that all investments are working for you in the most productive and tax efficient way, whilst taking into consideration your own risk profile

Peace of mind for your children

We will look at your potential inheritance tax obligation and ways to keep this to an absolute minimum

Peace of mind for all of your dependents

There are many options available for your investments or UK private pensions that can provide

Looking for an English speaking business in France?

Find one on

a more efficient and tailored way to pass money onto your dependents in the event of your death

If you want to know more about these areas you can either call or email me on the contacts below, I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

Have a fabulous Christmas & New Year from all at The Spectrum-IFA Group

Amanda Johnson

Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43


The Spectrum IFA Group

With Care,You Prosper

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2022 | 59
Amanda Johnson
registered trademark, exclusive rights
is a
to use in France
Insurance Services S.A.R.L. Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009
de Courtage d'assurances R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) Numéro d'immatriculation 07 025 Conseiller en investissements financiers, référence sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers
Are you thinking about what to give your family & loved ones for Christmas? How about financial peace of mind!


800 words short story c ompetition 2022

closing date 31/12/22

Write an original fictional story in English.

Max 800 word count.

Judging panel includes well known author Alison Morton and our very own book reviewer Jacqui Brown.

Winning entries will be published in The DSM Magazine

MORE INFO : submit via email :

It is said that everyone has at least one good novel in them. The trouble is, it takes months or even years to write a novel - who has the time? Fear not, there is an answer: The DSM Magazine Short Story Competition 2022.

As the winter nights draw in and the weather turners colder, why not turn those creative ideas into an up to 800 word short story (that's about one page in the magazine) and enter our competition. The subject, characters, setting – it’s all up to you. Make us laugh, cry or think about things differently.

Just let your imagination run free. Our panel of judges will deliberate and choose their favourite pieces for publication in the The DSM (details to be announced). The judges' decision will be final. So, if you would like to see your name in lights, or at least at the top of the page, you know what to do.

For more information, check our website at

Submit your final story by email to