The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - November 2020 Issue

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English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas

France In The War, Cider, Soup And The Vendée Globe Plus the book reviews are back and we find out what it’s like to work on a vineyard at harvest time

Image by Photo Rabe (Pixabay)

Issue 111, November 2020

Welcome to Issue 111 of

This Month’s Advertisers

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.


he months rattle past at a fair rate now, or so it seems to us. This is probably partly due to the fact that, in our new life with The DSM, as from 1st October we start dealing with November so always feel a month ahead of reality. We are sometimes asked why we don’t cover more ‘news’ in the magazine. One reason is time, we are already flat out delivering what we do now and news, if done properly, demands time and effort to get right. The main reason though is timing. This introduction is pretty much the last thing we do before sending the magazine to print and, as I write, it’s the 18th of the month. If we, for example, were to run a piece on the important new CDS application platform, by the time you read it more than two weeks would have elapsed making it likely that our ‘news’ would be out of date and perhaps even wrong. In the coming months though we are planning to run items that are a bit more ‘news-like’. Work on the new website continues, slower this month due to some home life impacts. Do keep visiting to see how things progress. We’re grateful for the feedback, be it congratulatory or critical, that we get from people and now that we have a few issues under our belt we feel ready to start looking ahead more. To help us understand what you, the reader, like, dislike and want from The DSM we’ll be running a small survey soon which we very much hope you will all take part in. Do keep your views coming though. In the mean time, we hope you enjoy this month’s offering. Stay safe

Tony & Lynne

Tel: 07 68 35 45 18 Email: Website: www.thedeuxsevresmonthly.f

Contents What’s On ... Getting Out and About Clubs and Associations Hobbies A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Home and Garden Spotlight Take a Break La Vie En France Health, Beauty and Fitness Our Furry Friends On The Road Food and Drink Arts and Craft Technology Building and Renovation Business and Finance Property Our Distributors

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

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) Arbes et Abeilles (Plant nursery) ARB French Property Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Autentico (Paint specialists) BEAUX VILLAGES IMMOBILIER BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management BM Construction Château de Saugé Vintage Tea Room Cherry Picker Hire (Tony Moat) Chez Christie’s Tea Rooms Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Clean Sweep Chimney Services Cosmetic Contour Darren Lawrence Deux-Chèvres (Handyman) Escoval ExPatRadio Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Hallmark Electricité Heath Pryke Hiley Location digger hire ,and groundworks HMJ (Renovation service) Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon - the carpetman KJ Painting and decorating Leggett Immobilier Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) Magic Renovations (Michael Glover) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction Michael Moore (Electrician) Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) Mike Sweeney - Motorsport Engineering ML Computers Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Naturalis Pools Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) RJC Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Simon the Tiler Stephen Shaw Painter Steve Coupland (Plumbing and renovations) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Strictly Roofing Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The Hope Association Tim Electricien 79 Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini(Translation Services)

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© Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 2020. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Anthony and Lynda Wigmore accept no liability for reader dissatisfaction. The opinions expressed and experiences shared are given by individual authors and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the publisher. Please ensure you verify that 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. Crédits photos: Anthony Wigmore, Clkr, Shutterstock et Pixabay. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: novembre 2020 - Tirage: 4000 exemplaires. Siret: 830 076 345 00016 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 3

What’s On ...

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NOVEMBER 2020 01 ALL SAINTS DAY France 01-07 VENDEE GLOBE Les Sables d’Olonne (85100). Free entry to the race village. See the boats of the Vendee Globe 2020. Reservation required via 07 PERRURE EN FÊTE Mervent (85200). Starts 10am. More than 30 artisans, associations, creators and musicians. Extensive program. Free entry. Repas fermier available. 08 THE SECRET OF THE DRAGON Niort (79000). A treasure hunt for grown-ups! Go hunting, observe clues, solve puzzles. Can you find the Dragon’s egg? 2pm and 6pm. Duration: 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. By reservation on 05 49 28 14 28. €10 adult, €5 children. 01-07 VENDEE GLOBE Les Sables d’Olonne (85100). Grand Depart of the boats of the Vendee Globe 2020. 11 ARMISTICE Throughout France. Armistice Day. 14 ENGRAVING WORKSHOP Bressuire (79300). Free. The official seals and stamps of the Bressuire Museum will be coming out of the archives. Participants will experiment with engraving techniques and create their own image. Booking required. Mandatory mask (not provided). Part of the European Museum evenings. 14 TREASURE HUNT Tour Nivelle, Coulay (79440). Visitors are invited to find an object stolen by a mysterious thief ... Part of the European Museum evenings. 14-15 OPEN HOUSE CHRISTMAS BAZAAR Melleron (79190). Sadly Denise has had to cancel this event (see advert). 15 ACCOMPANIED FLIGHTS 32 Place Saint Médard 79100 Thouars (79100). 60€. Fly at 1500 feet aboard a ROBIN DR400 “Regent” at about 210kmh. Your experienced pilot provides commentary on views. Departure every hour from 1:30pm. Last flight: 5:30pm. 21 CONCERT Abbey Celles-sur-Belle (79370). Trumpets and Organs with Les Echos. 8.45pm. 21-22 MARCHÉ DES CRÉATEURS “PINK DAY” Niort (79000). Free. Handmade decorations, jewellery, accessories, clothes etc. Non-alcoholic bar and food-trucks outside.

FIND ‘THE DSM’ AT ONE OF OUR FRIENDLY DISTRIBUTORS THIS MONTH: MARKEY’S PORK ‘N’ PIES TRADITIONAL BRITISH COOKING Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime Open mornings

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65 4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2020 ... Sun 1 November Wed 11 November Fri 25 December

All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Armistice Day (Armistice) Christmas Day (Noël)

2021... Fri 1 January Sun 4 April Mon 5 April Sat 1 May Sat 8 May Thu 13 May Sun 23 May Mon 24 May Wed 14 July Sun 15 August

New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an) Easter Sunday (Pâques) Easter Monday (Pâques) Labour Day (Fête du premier mai) VE 1945 (Fête du huitième mai) Ascension Day (Ascension) Whit Sunday (Pentecôte) Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Bastille Day (Fête nationale) Assumption Day (Assomption) source


look for screenings in ‘VO’ or ‘VOST’

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


Regular venues at: • • • • • • • •

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

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

FRYER TUCKS Genneton - Bar de la Mairie - 18:30 to 21:00 - 12th & 26th November Saint Jouin de Marnes - Outside the Boulangerie - 17:30 to 20:30 - every Tuesday evening Funny Farm Cat Rescue - 12:00 to 15:00 - 28th November Oiron - Oiron Square - Crafts for Xmas - 12:00 to 15:00 29th November

Tel: 06 23 25 48 36

Visit each website for further information or to confirm venue and dates

LOCAL MARKETS Mondays.........


Wednesdays.... Thursdays........


Benet 85490 La Châtaigneraie (last Monday in month) 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300 Vasles 79340 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) 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

CHURCH NOTICES... The Filling Station - Poitou-Charentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. www. or Carolyn Carter on 05 45 84 19 03. ALL SAINTS, VENDÉE - Puy de Serre. We hold two services each month (+ Sunday school), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at the church of St. Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am. The Rendez-Vous Christian Fellowship hold meetings throughout the month in the Deux-Sèvres and the Vendée. Contact Chris & Julie Taylor 09 60 49 78 50 or visit: The English Speaking Church of the Valley of the Loire (ESCOVAL) meets at the R.C. Church in Arçay every 3rd Sunday of the month at 11.00am (just off the D759, Thouars to Loudun). Eglise Vie Nouvelle Bilingual (French / English) weekly service based in Civray See Contact 05 49 87 33 69 The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Charentes, normally holds Sunday services in English. Please see our website for current information:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 5

Getting Out and About Remember, Remember : November … a Month to Remember


by Sue Burgess

he first of November is All Saints’ (La Toussaint) and a bank holiday (jour férié). La Toussaint is a Catholic Festival when the Roman Catholic Church honours all the saints. La Toussaint is the day before the Day of the Dead (La Commemoration des Fidèles défunts). The 2nd November was fixed as the date for remembering the dead two centuries after the fixing of the date of la Toussaint. However because the 1st of November is a bank holiday, the French remember their dead on that day.

the national symbol for remembrance in France. In 1935, the government decided that the cornflower would be sold on the 11th November. In 1957 it was decided that they should also be sold on the 8th May. Ceremonies are held at the war memorial of most villages and towns. A wreath (une gerbe) with red, white and blue ribbons is laid. Lists of the people killed during the Great War (La Grande Guerre) are read out and a minute’s silence is respected. In most villages the local primary schools participate in the ceremonies. Perpetuation of the national memory is very important to the French. As the 11th November is a holiday, the ceremonies can be held on the day itself. Since 2012 the 11th November has been considered a day to remember all those killed in war and the names of those killed in action during the year are also read out. The third Thursday in the month is famous for Beaujolais nouveau – a new wine produced in the vineyards of Beaujolais, from Gamay grapes. The sale of beaujolais nouveau is allowed immediately after vinification has taken place.

Originally, candles were lit at the cemeteries and since the 19th century the custom has been to decorate tombs with chrysanthemums (les chrysanthèmes).


In the countryside, around the time of All Saints, the whole family including the children helped to pick the potato crop. During the potato harvest many children took time off school and the half-term holidays were made official (les vacances de Toussaint). These holidays were formerly called ‘potato holidays‘ (vacances patates) The 11th November is another bank holiday. If the 11th November has become a day for remembrance, it is largely for remembering one day in particular, that of the Armistice (L’Armistice) of 1918. In France, the end of the second world war is remembered on the 8th May. The minute of silence (la minute de silence) was put into place for the first time in 1919. The ‘unknown soldier’ (le soldat inconnu) was buried under the Arc de Triomphe in 1921 and at the ceremony in 1923, the flame (la Flamme du Souvenir) was lit for the first time. ‘Le Bleuet de France’, the cornflower, France’s equivalent of the poppy, was the idea of Charlotte Malleterre and Suzanne Leenhardt, both nurses at Les Invalides. They created a workshop for war invalids who made cornflowers out of blue material – a therapeutic activity but the sale of the cornflowers would partly cover their financial needs. The cornflower is 6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

la Toussaint

All Saints’ Day

un chrysanthème

a chrysanthemum


to put flowers / to flower

un cimetière


une gerbe

a wreath, spray of flowers

une couronne

a funeral wreath (not used for wreaths laid at war memorials)

le monument aux morts

war memorial

le cénotaphe



to commemorate


to decorate with flags

édifices publics

public buildings

les poilus

‘hairy’ - nickname given to French soldiers in the trenches during World War I because they lacked shaving facilities.

En mémoire, en souvenir

In remembrance

Une cérémonie commémoration

de a remembrance service

L’armistice novembre

11 Remembrance Day



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LOVELY CHRISTMAS CRACKERS BRILLIANT GIFT IDEAS Tapestry, Scarves, Mugs, Puzzles, Games, Jewellery, Watches, Stocking Fillers …

SUPER MASKS & HAND SANITISERS ‘Stay Safe’ doesn’t have to mean Boring!


Cream Teas, Brownies, Rich Fruit Cake … BOOKS ~ INTERNET ~ FREE WIFI

--and Giving Warm Welcomes since 2004

Tues-Sat: 10am - 12 noon : 3pm - 7pm

OPEN WEDNESDAY 11th NOV : 10am - 12.30pm GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

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Château de Saugé

Chambres D’hotes, Gites, Vintage Tea Room, Event Space, Crafters Barn

Saugé Vintage Tea Room Afternoon Tea – Evening Meals Traditional Sunday Lunch

Crafters Barn Unique Gifts - Christmas Gifts, - Homewares New items arriving all the time Support your local crafters with every purchase. Open Friday & Saturday 12.00 – 22.00 Sunday 12.00 – 18.00 Reservations: Email: Tel: 06 29 15 36 55

Château de Saugé 2 Saugé Saivres 79400


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 7

International Day of .....

by Beryl Brennan


or November I have chosen two celebration days as I believe tolerance and kindness go hand in hand and are today, sadly, often overlooked, especially by some prominent world leaders.

World Kindness Day (13th November)


ne definition of kindness is that it brings people together and provides an opportunity to help others, all of which has been especially important during COVID-19. Lockdown has brought communities together whereby the elderly and housebound have been helped by those more mobile, especially with shopping and visits to the doctor. World Kindness Day developed from the Small Kindness Movement. In the mid 1990’s a conference was held at the University of Tokyo aimed at bringing together like-minded people from around the world. The conference was led by physician Dr Wataru Mori who envisioned that a compassionate and peaceful world could be achieved from mass acts of kindness. The President of the University told the audience to practice small kindnesses which would create a wave that would someday envelope all Japanese society. In 1998 World Kindness Day was launched in Singapore and many countries now observe it. The aim is to encourage people, society and communities to do good things and be kind to everyone. It’s surprising how even a small act of kindness can make a difference. Kindness can be defined as being friendly, generous and considerate. In some this requires courage and strength when experiencing negative feelings. It also means giving without expecting reward; too often in the West an act of kindness evokes a feeling of suspicion – hold on, what do you want from me? Hand-in-hand with kindness goes tolerance, defined as helping people live together peacefully, accepting the opinions of others and listening to them. Tolerance is respect, acceptance and appreciation of the different cultures of the world. It seems to me ,in this day and age of racism, angst, war and abuse intolerance is the ‘in’ word instead and endangers many societies who have forgotten there is such a word as tolerance in the English language.

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

International Day of Tolerance (16th November)


n 1995, on the 125th anniversary of the birth of Mahatma Ghandi and to mark the UN International Day for Tolerance, UNESCO created a prize called the UNESCO-Madanjeet Singh Prize. Named in honour of Madanjeet Singh, international author, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and lifelong campaigner for communal harmony and peace, the prize has a value of US$100,000 and is awarded every 2 years on 16 November. The winner is chosen from institutions, organisations or persons who have contributed to tolerance and non-violence. Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO says ‘at a time when extremism and fanaticism are unleashed too often, at a time when the venom of hatred continues to poison a part of humanity, tolerance has never been a more vital virtue’. Intolerance in 2020 is global. One only has to see the world news headlines to read of conflict in the Far East, Africa, USA, Australia and in large measure in the UK, especially since Brexit which has divided families and friends. Racism and religious beliefs are two of the core examples of intolerance. In Africa and the Far East it is ethnicity – different ethnic tribes not tolerating and accepting the beliefs and cultures of one another; in Iraq it was Saddam Hussein’s intolerance of the Kurdish people. It is hard to believe that in 1996, the first winner came from Rwanda yet in 1994 the country was in the grip of genocide between Tutsi, Twa and Hutu. In 2002 the winner was Aung San Suu Kyi, a former Nobel Peace Prize winner who spent years under house arrest in Burma for promoting MADANJEET SINGH (AFTER WHOM democracy and then as THE PRIZE IS NAMED) Myanmar’s leader she appeared in court charged with genocide committed against the Rohynga Muslim minority! In too many cultures it is easy to overlook that everyone should have the same basic rights – whether one agrees with them or not. Empathy with people’s difficulties is tolerating and understanding them; mutual understanding creates accord and sadly these days it is in short supply. So how to break down intolerance? Read about different cultures and nationalities; listen to others, especially those who have themselves suffered intolerance. Race and religion are the main motives for intolerance; no one is born with inherent hate, it’s learned from the behaviour of others. To celebrate International Day of Tolerance, spare a few moments of thought for those throughout the world suffering at the hands of people for whom the word tolerance is unknown.

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor


et’s face it, language lessons at school aren’t all they’re cracked up to be; we learn the grammar, we learn the literature (well, some students do, anyway), but conversational language comes a very poor third. So as soon as I receive my copy of the DSM, I turn straight to Sue Burgess’ excellent column to discover the latest words & phrases that I’ll need that month. Always interesting, always informative, but her article a couple of months ago really made me chuckle. If you didn’t read it, look back in the archives for the September edition & enjoy her story about the 12 donkeys. She is sooo right. Haven’t we all fallen into the faux amis trap, or worse, from time to time? My dog-loving English gardener friend (see October’s View from the Vendée) really did compliment a lady in the vet’s waiting room on her cute chiotte. Then of course, just when you think you’re getting the hang of the language, they throw accents into the mix! OK, OK, I accept that accents are a vital part of the French language, changing one word into another (once again I refer to Sue’s marche/marché confusion), BUT, when words are written in capitals, somehow the accents just get forgotten!! Here I quote from personal experience. Shortly after we bought our first holiday home in the Vendée, we decided to add an extension. We appointed a local builder, submitted our Permis de Construire, and waited for confirmation of the necessary planning permission. Our builder, whose drinking buddy turned out to be the local maire, was confident, so imagine our disappointment when we received a refusal. We strode straight round to our French builder, Demande de Permis de Construire in hand, to find out exactly what had gone wrong. Our somewhat bemused maçon was surprised by our reaction to this document, then patiently explained to his rather emotional clients that, far from stopping our application, the ARRETE was, in fact, an official order (un arrêté) confirming our planning permission. RESULT! Karen runs a gîte business on the Vendée coast. You can contact her on:

Du chaos à l’aube (From chaos to dawn) An interview with Deux-Sèvres poet Magalie Fabre

by Wendy York


itting in the Grand Salon of Château de Dampierre, there is a sense of déjà vu, a feeling of being part of living history. Today I interviewed the Deux-Sèvres poet Magalie Fabre and we both acknowledged to the little group gathered in the room that from the time of François I, Jeanne de Vivonne and her daughter Claude Catherine in the sixteenth century, there have been people sitting in these chairs discussing the Arts, in particular new writings and how they help to make sense of the world. Magalie Fabre has just published her first book of poems, adding to a long list of her achievements and contribution to the Arts. She is an actor, dancer, comedienne and art therapist, she is the creator of the companie alchimie and has performed in many theatres in France, her latest performance of Visite Insolite in the Château de Dampierre met with great success. The intriguing title of Magalie’s poetry collection ‘Du chaos à l’aube’ (From chaos to dawn) is a journey that starts in darkness and progresses to the light. The subject matter is born from feelings and experiences and has been created to help others in, what are now, such chaotic times with the ultimate message of hope. Having written the poems over a number of years, Magalie felt that, with the restrictions brought about by the confinement, it was the right time to collate and publish her work. Magalie’s writing has many influences; from a child she was interested in dance and physical theatre but also developed a great love of poetry and the idea of “the best words in the best order”. Studying at La Sorbonne, Paris, she learned to express and, through the encouragement of her tutors, to share her thoughts and emotions through the written word. She began by writing theatrical pieces before venturing into verse. Latterly she has been influenced by her time spent at the château, particularly by studying the alchemic history, spending time in the famous renaissance alchemy gallery. Magalie has the sense of being guided by the symbology of coming from darkness to light, the idea that alchemy can figuratively turn anything to gold. To Magalie, poetry is alive, it can be simple but still have the power to change peoples’ lives and perceptions. It can help us understand ourselves and our place in the world, it can evoke strong emotions and ultimately heal. Her poetry is open to interpretation, readers can take from it a joy of words and a sense of spirituality. Poetry has always made such high claims, sculpting for us a path for our own feelings, from Shakespeare sonnets to birthday card greetings. Magalie’s book of poems, which she also illustrated, is currently available only in French, but she hopes for an English translation to be available soon. Find out more at :

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 9

Clubs and Associations What do you keep your pegs in?


ave you used the type of bag that you sling over your shoulder full of pegs and take your washing out to the line to hang it up? When it is dry, you put the empty peg bag over your shoulder and gather the washing and all the pegs at the same time. We found this poppy fabric and thought it would be a good fundraiser. At only €5 a bag, please place your order by email to and indicate your choice , black background or beige background . If you would like it posting, there would be an additional €2.50 in total €7,50. All proceeds to the Poppy Appeal. We will send you an order and request for payment. All cheques payable to the “Royal British Legion” Euro or UK Cheques welcome , you can use our Just Giving page if required. All Funds Raised are credited to the Poppy Appeal for Bordeaux & S W France Branch of the Royal British Legion Account.

Contact us by email or facebook: Association number: W793005002

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

Hobbies Troubleshooting Your by Alison Morton Writing


his is rubbish – nobody is going to want to read this.” An agonised cry from any writer. Believe me, even multi-published top selling writers say this as they stare in dismay at their first draft. After a few books, they graduate to say, “Not too bad – a bit rough around the edges” then to “ Well, I suppose it’ll do”.

If you build it, they will come

by Stephen Shaw

ccasionally I will get an ‘urge’. An urge to build something. O Many years ago when our children were young I got the urge to build them a tree house. Like Noah constructing his Ark, it took several days to build, cost an absolute fortune and was far too big for our small terraced garden (it probably should have had planning permission)...but when I had finished, it was a thing of beauty and I was very proud of it.

Most of us still experience the “rubbish” feeling, but there are things you can do to fix it.

Having been sated, my urge disappeared for a few years; it didn’t go away, it just lay dormant somewhere inside me. One morning I awoke with a start, the urge had returned!

First of all, no writing is total rubbish – it’s an expression of something you feel strongly about, a tale you fervently wish to tell, something you feel will give you an anchor in eternity. Or perhaps it’s just a funny story you’d like to share. Most people never get the story out of their head onto paper (or the computer screen) so congratulations!

I needed to build a wall. An extension to the house was far too ambitious (and planning permission would definitely be required for that), I had to build that day. I needed to lay brick on brick, I needed to use the handle of my trowel (which I would purchase) to tap each level and gracefully scrape away the excess mortar... it always looks so effortless on the telly.

On to the practical…

Days later, after great expense and a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth I stood back and looked at my walled barbecue … and I smiled. It was not the straightest thing in the world, but stood for as long as we lived at the house and every time I tasted a burger that had been cooked on it, I glowed with pride.

First fix: Does the story make sense? Does it have a beginning, middle and end? Does it resolve the question or situation you described at the beginning? Does the story run logically? Even the wildest story about dragons saving the world should in itself have a definite path. Second fix: This is a very hard one to accept, but relatively easy to fix. Today’s readers like things to happen. They are not so keen on pages of lush, adjective-strewn and/or repetitive description. Can you set a scene in fewer words? In a story set in London where the heroine catches a bus, you don’t need ‘she jumped onto a red double-decker London bus’; ‘she jumped on a bus’ will do because hopefully you’ve already set the scene. Some description is necessary, of course, to give flavour and colour to the story but you can do this through the character’s eyes or bring it into a character’s actions. Experiment with seeing how many superfluous words you can cut out and still make sense. Your work will end up sharper and tighter. Third fix: Name characters when the reader first meets them and bring in a defining characteristic if you can – strangely coloured eyes, a limp, over-colourful clothes, jet black hair, gravelly voice, etc. This will help the reader identify that character when they meet him or her next in the story. And it does no harm to add an allusion to that characteristic a little later in the book to anchor that character in the reader’s mind as the story progresses. Fourth fix: Does each sentence make sense? Is it grammatically correct? And most important of all, does it take the story forward or add to the reader’s knowledge of the characters? If it doesn’t do either of the last two, then try cutting it out, however lovely it is in itself. Fifth fix: Read your story aloud or, at the very least, the parts you have a nagging doubt about. You’ll be able to spot the rhythm of the sentence, including anything that jars, and see where you may have to add, cut or change some words. And lastly, take heart. Every successful writer started at the rubbish stage. And look where people like Joanne Harris, Lee Child and Ken Follett are today.

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

Having moved to rural France and wondering if I had left the urge in Blighty, again, I woke one morning to discover the urge is not averse to international travel. I turned to Anna, my wife, “I’m going to build a chicken coop”, “Oh God. Is it going to be expensive?” was her supportive reply. Similar to most Brits in France we have ongoing renovations and had accrued various bits of wood, which were kicking about. I would use them. I would ‘recycle’. “It will cost nothing!” I exclaimed. Like Caractacus Potts in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang I disappeared into the barn taking every tool I possessed with me. I was in there for the best part of a week, with the odd interruption for sustenance and sleep. I was in heaven. Much the same as Victor Frankenstein slowly creating his monster, the sound of drill, jigsaw, hammer, accompanied with a mad cackle of laughter and shrieks of “It’s alive!” would emanate from the barn. Being made mainly of oak, the coop was becoming extremely heavy and the various pieces had to be lugged into position and joined ‘on-site’. Like a proud mother I have taken photos of the new arrival and sent them to friends and family members hoping for a suitable response. I don’t know if we will ever get chickens. I might just keep it as a place to think and ‘be’. Maybe when Anna and I have had our next domestic, I will flounce out, shouting “If anyone wants me, I’ll be in the chicken coop!” N.B. The object above the door is not Jesus on the cross, but a brass knocker in the shape of a Scottish bagpiper (which used to adorn our front door). The idea being that you knock for however many eggs you want. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 11

YOUR Book Reviews

Warm thanks go to Vronni Ward and Jacqueline Brown for sharing their book reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

Why I am No Longer Talking to White People about Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (first published in 2017)

‘White privilege is the fact that if you’re white, your race will almost certainly positively impact your life’s trajectory in some way. And you probably won’t even notice it.’ In June, Reni Eddo-Lodge became the first black British author to top the Sunday Times UK non-fiction bestseller list. Although she was honoured to have topped the charts, she felt that her success had resulted from the tragic death of George Floyd in the US. She is a talented, young, working class black woman from Tottenham, whom my daughter, Verity, had the privilege to meet. This spurred me on to the read this book. The title of the book arises out of Eddo-Lodge’s frustration with the lack of understanding by white people about race. She feels that discussions about racism are often led by those who are least affected by it. In her words; “white privilege is a manipulative, suffocating, blanket of power”. The book discusses the history of Black people in Britain, structural racism, British feminism and race and class. It is thought-provoking and offers a black person’s perspective of their position in society, backed up by lots of examples, research and data. Structural racism is one of the biggest problems facing Britain today. If you are British, then you should read this book. Reviewed by Vronni Ward

Lavender, Loss and Love at the Villa des Violettes by Patricia Sands If you too are mourning the end of summer, may I suggest Lavender, Loss and Love at the Villa des Violettes? This is the third book in the Villa des Violettes series by Patricia Sands. There is always a lot of love and compassion in the pages of Patricia’s novels, with family and friendships at the core, and this one is no exception. We are back in Antibes at the villa Kat and Philippe are now running as a B&B. It is summer, and as a heatwave sweeps France life for Kat slips into an easy routine of ensuring chores like gardening are tackled in the mornings when it’s cooler, and the evenings are free to relax with friends over apéros or dinner. Kat is caring, but a worrier, the type of person who wears her heart on her sleeve and takes on everyone else’s problems as though they were her own. As she welcomes her summer guests to the villa their shared stories add an extra layer of emotion to the novel. The bond between Kat and Philippe is as strong as ever and although time is catching up with the older generation of Philippe’s

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

family, exciting changes are afoot for his daughter Adorée, who is making a new life for herself in the Luberon. Patricia has a gift for bringing the area she obviously loves to life, and in places this book is like a mini tour of the Cote d’Azur and the Luberon, as she takes us along with Kat and Philippe. From enjoying soirées on a yacht, where the coastline captivates Kat, to days out cycling through the fields of flowering lavender and visiting the well-known sights like Roussillon, Gordes and Les Carrières de Lumières at Les Baux de Provence, I could picture it all as I read. Patricia also weaves in some local history, notably around the Resistance movement in the Luberon area during the Second World War, for added interest. Reviewed by Jacqueline Brown

Tree Slayer by Harriet Springbett Tree Slayer is the second novel from local Poitou-Charentes author Harriet Springbett. Rainbow, a young girl who has an extraordinary bond with trees, is about to take her Baccalaureate exams at lycee in Cognac, when a huge storm hits the west of France, felling hundreds of trees. Despite the reservations from those around her, and her plans for the future, she knows her destiny lies with finding her soulmate in the Pyrenees and working together to defeat the Tree Slayer. Eighteen-year-old Eole is happiest when he’s alone, with his dog, on the high pastures of his beloved mountains. This summer too much has changed in his life for him to cope with. He has lost his friend Tintin, who was helping him prepare for university, his mum has something to tell him about his past and then he meets Rainbow. Tree Slayer is their journey through France; two slightly different teenagers, who must understand each other’s gifts and learn how to work together on a mission to save the trees. I really enjoyed being back with Rainbow and, much as I loved the first book, Tree Magic, this book is even better. There is a little bit of magic in every page as Harriet pushes the boundaries of reality in a totally convincing way, and challenges what we perceive to be normal. So much thought has gone into the words, descriptions and characters, especially the logic that makes Eole tick, resulting in a book that opens your mind to an alternative way of thinking. I wish I’d read it in my teens, not that I didn’t enjoy it now, I loved it, but I know it would have been one of those special books of my childhood that would have stayed in my memories forever. Any 14-18-year-old with a healthy imagination will, I’m sure, love this book, (as well as Tree Magic), but I’d encourage you to read it too, whatever your age. We are never too old to get lost in a world where trees can talk and those special enough to hear them have a message for us all. Reviewed by Jacqueline Brown

READ A GOOD BOOK RECENTLY? Why not share your thoughts with the rest of us? Send your reviews (usually 200-300 words as above) to us at We’ll do the rest

Going, Going, Gone.......eventually! idea to prioritise your lots in advance in the catalogue although don’t expect much order to the lotting-up process once inside. The sale will be conducted in the garden – come rain or shine so an umbrella might be useful.


n the last issue I looked at sourcing furniture and other items for your French home. In this edition I will look at buying at auction, Depot Ventes, shops and charity outlets. Most people will be familiar with TV programmes such as “Flog It” where items are sold at auction in a, usually, rapid and efficient manner. In France the situation is somewhat different but, potentially, equally profitable for the bargain hunter (un chineur). At best, an auction (vente aux enchères) is entertaining; at worst, shambolic would be kind. Some sale rooms (Salle des Ventes) have lot numbers but others don’t so it can be difficult to know what you’re bidding for. Signal you want to bid by waving a hand or catalogue; don’t be put off as merely scratching your nose won’t buy you a Ming vase! You need to know your numbers in French but bidding increments are often in small amounts, even as low as €2! You normally hand in a blank, signed, cheque on your first purchase. You can also pay at the end of the sale in cash or by card. However, be advised that there will be commission to pay on top of the hammer price, often 20% or more. Check this in the conditions of sale or mentions légales. Given Covid restrictions you may be asked to register to attend the sale and obtain a bidding number or paddle. Catalogues are usually available from the sale room or on line. Auctions throughout France can be found at, split into categories such as antiques, commercial and vehicles. You can also bid on-line but extra commission can apply. It is important to view the auction carefully to check for any damage and faults as it really is a case of buyer beware. Not all auctions are held in specialist venues, many are held on the premises, be it a builder’s yard or small terraced house where dozens of people are crammed in, all trying to view the items on show. It’s often the case that the sale provides an opportunity to chat with the neighbours and ogle at what the late occupants possessed. These viewings often take place only fifteen or thirty minutes before the sale so it’s a good

b Philip y Bailey

Auctioneers in the UK often sell between 120 – 150 lots per hour but I have found French auctions can be laborious affairs so be prepared to sit there for hours (a good book helps). Alternatively, if you live close to the auction room you can follow the sale on-line and return as your next lot gets closer. Despite the viewing and the catalogue description, many auctioneers will pull every item out of a mixed lot and describe its attributes very carefully. Expect 50 – 60 lots per hour as a guide. If you can’t face this level of excitement you can always leave bids and take pot luck – bearing in mind you should always set a limit to your spending! Auction rooms can be found in most large towns such as Niort, La Rochelle, Fontenay le Comte, Poitiers and La Roche sur Yon. Charity shops abound in most UK high streets but tend to be less conspicuous in France. Probably the most well-known is the Emmaüs chain, Found in most towns throughout the region and often housed in vast warehouses, they can be a fantastic source of bargains but you’ll be rubbing shoulders with both UK and French dealers who scour these places to fill their vans and estate cars. You’re likely to find that goods range from clothes to kitchen sinks – literally. Other organisations advertise regularly in this magazine and either have shops or hold regular events to raise funds. Depot Ventes are specialist outlets selling goods on behalf of the public on a commission basis. Traditionally they sold secondhand goods only (articles d’occasion) but regrettably an increasing number have resorted to selling mass produced goods from the Far East as they realise a greater profit margin. Look out for, Troc2000 and others listed in Yellow Pages. Specialist antique shops can be pricy but the stock will generally be of a higher quality but not exclusively as Antiquités covers a multitude of sins as does Brocante. However, there are some shops that you’ll find rummaging around is a real pleasure. Get to know the owners and you’ll cultivate a profitable relationship. If you feel intimidated with a lack of the language when the proprietor greets you, a simple “puis-je regarder?” or just “je regarde” should indicate you just want to browse. In future editions I will look at having your own stand at a vide grenier or marché aux puces and setting up your own business. Philip has been a fully registered dealer (brocanteur) in France for ten years, standing at Brocante markets as well as selling on-line. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 13

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres St-Martin-de-Saint-Maixent and St-Martin-de-Sanzay


by Sue Burgess

he commune of St-Martin-de-St-Maixent is situated right next to its neighbour, the town of St-Maixent-L’Ecole. The county roads, the D10, D124 and the D182 link the commune with La Crèche 10km away, Melle 20km away and Niort 25km away. The closeness of St Maixent railway station means that it is easy to get to Poitiers, Paris, Niort and La Rochelle.

Saint-Martin-de-Sanzay is situated in the canton du Val

The 1141 inhabitants are called the Marti-Maixentais and live in the villages and hamlets spread over the 1264 hectares of the commune. On the banks of the river Sèvre can be found Veillon, Geoffret, Epron, La Fenouillère, La Place, Piozay, Fief Rousset, Battreau, and Pallu.

Saint-Martin-de-Sanzay is a rural commune with 1008 inhabitants. The old town was built on the right bank of the Thouet.

The villages of Leigne, l’Hort-Poitiers, La Fragnée, Mounée, La Sarrauderie, La Bidolière, Soignon, Fiol, L’Houmeau, Boisne, Gentray and Charchenay each have a different character. The centre of the commune around the Town Hall and the school has grown with the development of two housing estates.

St-Martin-de-Sanzay has a pleasant site, La Ballastière, with a huge salle des fêtes and a lake of 10 hectares. The lake is open for fishing most of the year. The 12th century church is of Romanesque style and has been listed as a historical monument since 1910. It has been restored several times with only the bell tower and the choir now dating from the original building.

History The commune gets its name from a monk called Martin who lived in the 4th century. According to legend, he was an extremely kind man who tore up his coat to cover a poor man who was shivering with cold. Martin went on several pilgrimages both in France and abroad. When he came to Saint Maixent he pointed his stick at the ground and a spring of water appeared meaning he could give thirsty people water to drink. The spring is situated on rue Chaigneau. The name of Martin is used by several communes. Since 1993, a green and blue logo, the colours of the countryside and the river, symbolise the commune of St Martin with the halo of the Saint, the pilgrim’s stick symbolises the motorway and the river and the “M” of Martin and manteau (coat). The little church at Fiol disappeared after being sold at the end of the eighties.

de Thouet. The commune is situated at the gateway to the Chateaux of the Loire and the vineyards of the Saumur area. At only 55km from Angers, the commune is situated 100km from Niort. The nearest large towns are Thouars (12km) and Saumur (25km). The Thouet river crosses the commune.


The Chateau of Bois de Sanzay is a 15th century building that was altered in the 17th century. Only the body of the main central building remains from the 15th century building. The doors and the vaults of the chapel and the cellars date from the 15th century. The well which was used for water for the kitchens can be seen in one of the cellars. There is a pigeon loft which still has its holes and its turning ladder. The property today is owned by Mr and Mrs Gorse who rent out meeting rooms and organise guided tours. The Chateau du Clos de la Coste is a manor house which was originally built in 1590 and rebuilt during the 19th century. The house can be visited on Heritage Weekend. The Chapel and the Commandery at Prailles. The chapel was dedicated to Saint Radegonde. At a period when it was very dangerous to be on the roads of France because of robbers and highwaymen, the religious orders built safe places for people to stay. They were built at strategic points near important roads, bridges or fords across


BRIDGE AT TAIZON All photographs by Sue Burgess

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the river. As early as the 12th century the Maison de Prailles existed where the Thouars-Angers road crossed the Thouet. The name of commandery is only found two or three centuries later. The old bridge at Taizon. The bridge was built in the 13th century. It has been listed as a historical monument since 1943. You had to pay to cross the bridge, the peasants who used it had to give a certain percentage of the crops harvested to the Knights of Malta at the Commandery at Prailles. A chapel was built in the middle of the bridge by Jacques Thibault for his wife Lady Jeanne Mestreau. The chapel was dedicated to Notre-Dame de la Pitié or Notre-Dame of the Seven Sorrows (Notre-Dame des sept douleurs). Mass was celebrated there by the priests from Bagneux and Argenton l’Eglise.

fields discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary and it was decided to build a chapel. The peasant unfortunately did not remember exactly where he had found the statue but the chapel was built nevertheless. The chapel fell down. A second was built but that fell down too. It was only at the third attempt that the peasant remembered exactly where he had found the statue. The third building is still standing and has belonged to the commune since 2011. The Ford across the river. The ford across the river near the church probably dates from the Gallo-Roman period.

The bridge was in part destroyed by German troops in August 1944. After the war, a wooden bridge was built and used until the sixties when a new more solid bridge replaced it to carry the heavier flow of traffic.


Chapel Notre-Dame des Neiges. There is a legend about this tiny chapel at Passay. In the 19th century a peasant working in his

CHAPEL IN THE FIELDS The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 15

Home and Garden

Love your


Now is the time to: • Insulate outdoor containers and pots against frosts, using bubble wrap, fleece or hessian. • Use bricks or pot feet to raise the level of pots off the ground to allow excess water to drain away and prevent waterlogging. • Remove fallen leaves from around roses that have suffered an attack of black spot this year. This will lessen the chances of reinfection next year.

by Greenfingers


he longed for rain which we needed during the arid, hot summer, has finally arrived ……. in deluges! I will not complain, as the water butts are full and all the plants have been washed free of the dust from the harvesting, and are now looking strong and upright once again. With the rain has come the wind, and a rapid reduction in the temperature. In fact a range from 17°C to 9°C in a week. I have a very tall pencil pine in the middle of one of the flower beds that was a present from my brother as a parting gift when we left the UK. It was a small cutting then, measuring only about 20 centimetres tall and it has grown so well, it is now taller than the house. I watch it carefully when the winds are strong. Not that I could stop it from falling if it did, but I just don’t like the idea that it might. It sways well with the wind and the trunk has a good girth, so maybe it will stay safe, we will see, I hope so.

• Remove yellowing and damaged foliage from herbaceous perennials. Divide those plants that have outgrown their space or because an increase in ‘stock’ is needed. Replant divided specimens in fresh compost, ensuring that roots are teased out to in order to have good contact with the soil. • Place a decent sized plank or board on the soil as a path to walk on when planting and digging. This will give good access and help prevent soil compaction. • Build raised beds ready for next year, especially if your knees or back have suffered from overwork in the garden this year. This will help to take the bending out of your gardening. • Sow green manure seeds on empty veg plots or spread some fresh horse manure on top of the soil, rake it well and leave it to rot down during the winter. • Prepare beds for sowing autumn garlic, rhubarb and asparagus crowns. Add well-rotted compost or fresh soil to the beds or the pots to improve the soil first.

After having several disasters with greenhouses which have blown away or just fallen over, the new one, built this summer, has had all the plastic panes glued in with ‘Gorilla’ and the fixing clips added afterwards, so I am hoping that I won’t be chasing errant panes all over the countryside this winter. My neighbours have been very good in the past, finding them in odd places and returning them to the garden for me. I now have electricity installed in this new addition, so I can boil my miniature kettle for a cuppa and listen to my favoured murder mysteries (on CD) at the same time. I could be inside this small haven for hours, sowing seeds or planting up cuttings, or just labelling seed envelopes ready to store collected seed. It’s fab.

• Some top heavy brassicas, e.g. Brussels sprouts, will need staking and tying in, to prevent stalks from snapping or roots being damaged by continued movement in high winds.

The best thing that has happened recently is that two fabulous garden workers arrived to cut my very overgrown and bramble infested hedges. I’m so grateful that I found them, as the results look great and they have restored a lovely neat and tidy look to the garden for the first time in weeks. A big thank you to both of them.

• Bare root raspberry canes and currant bushes should be planted now whilst they are still dormant. Check strawberry plants and remove runners and damaged/diseased foliage.

For the first time, I took photographs on my tablet of the garden when it was in full bloom, so that I could show the family back in the UK how lovely it looked. Now those looks have faded somewhat with the sudden arrival of autumn and I’ve decided to redo some of the beds, plant out some of the many pots I have, and get the spring bulbs planted up. I have some ‘tropical’ plants, mostly in pots, which have performed well this year. The hedychiums and cannas have been at their very best and some of the cannas are still producing flowers. The sago palm and washingtonia are doing better than expected and the chaemerops is enormous and will need repotting next year. I’ve decided to extend the tropical group, and I’m currently searching the web for ideas and sources for some unusual specimens. I fancy a Tetrapanax. I’ll let you know if I find one! Make the most of the working time left in the garden; with the reduced daylight hours, we must! Enjoy your gardening wherever you do it. Stay safe and look after yourselves.

Greenfingers 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

• All stored fruit and vegetables, especially onions, garlic, apples and potatoes, should be inspected regularly for rot or fungal infection. Any affected fruit should be removed. Potatoes store very well in hessian sacks as the weave in the fabric allows good circulation of air. • Blackberry canes that have fruited this year can be cut down to ground level now and new canes planted in their place.

• It is not too late to place grease bands around fruit trees to deter codling moths from laying their eggs in nooks and crannies in the bark. • Don’t prune plum trees now, wait until next summer. • If tall shrub roses haven’t yet been pruned back, prune now by cutting the whole plant back by a third. This will prevent soil from being removed from around the roots on windy days and nights, thus protecting the plant from root rock.

Sad November November sighed! November cried! ‘I really feel so bad. I just can’t keep the tears away, I’m feeling terribly sad’. November’s face was wet and damp and still November wept, While all around in winter rain, the trees and wildwood slept. ‘Have you a cold? I asked November. ‘Why do you cry so hard?’ ‘Your tears are flooding all the lanes, and deluging the yard’. ‘Perhaps there’s something in your eye? A cinder or a speck?’ ‘Whatever the trouble, my dear November, you’re making the world a wreck! November only shook her head, ‘Do you know what I think? said she, ‘I believe folks have Thanksgiving Day because it’s the end of me’. ‘When I depart, they celebrate with turkey and pumpkin pie, Because they’re glad to see me go!! And THAT’S what makes me cry’!

Lenore Hetrick

• Remove fallen leaves and debris from grassed areas and from around trees, shrubs and off flower beds. If left the leaves can provide hiding places for snails and slugs and can harbour spores from fungi causing disease later on. • Don’t overwater greenhouse plants as this can encourage root rot and fungal disease of the foliage. Ventilate after watering to discourage condensation. Stick some cheap adhesive solar lights on the walls of the greenhouse or shed, so you can continue to work on darker evenings. • Empty pots, hanging baskets and troughs when all flowering has finished, re-using the spent compost as a mulch on flower and vegetable beds. • Shred fallen leaves by running over them with a lawn mower; this hastens decomposition and the ‘shreddings’ can be used as a mulch or a soil enricher. • Install another water butt or recuperateur to catch winter rain which will be invaluable if we have a hot dry summer next year. • Make the most of any dry spells to repaint fences and sheds with wood preservative to make them last longer and be able to withstand spring rains. • Clip evergreen hedges so that they remain neat and tidy during the winter months.

• Divide overcrowded pots of chives and bring other potted, tender herbs under cover. • Spring bulb planting should be completed as early in the month as possible. Make sure all bulbs are planted at the correct depth, as too shallow planting will affect root and flower development and rain may wash bulbs out of the soil completely. Planting depth advice is usually given on bulb packaging. • Chrysanthemums in pots should be deadheaded regularly and kept moist to keep the plants flowering. • Remove yellowing foliage from cyclamen. If planted in the flower bed, leave fading flowers on their stems. They will eventually be shed by the plant, revealing the seed head. The stems gradually spiral down earthwards; depositing the seed in an ideal position for it to germinate. It’s a magical thing to see! • Old fashioned wallflowers, usually sold as bare root bundles wrapped in newspaper in the garden centres, make a colourful addition to flower beds or pots. They can be planted now. The flowers produce the most fantastic scent in the spring garden attracting any insects that may be around. • Ensure that alpines have a layer of grit around their bases and that dead or dying leaves are removed to prevent them rotting. • Prune acers now rather than later in the spring and this will avoid the risk of sap ‘bleeding’. • Plant bare root hedging; a single row works well, but if rows are staggered, they can keep out unwanted animal ‘intruders’. • Plant tulips and daffodils in pots or in gaps in flower beds to provide a splash of colour that will make you smile! Tulips need to be planted deeper than you think; line up three tulip bulbs base to tip, the combined length is a good guide for the planting depth. • Protect trunks of trees with chicken wire if rabbits grazing on the bark become a problem. • Tear off suckers at ground level of ornamental trees. • Harvest celeriac and beetroot. Continued overleaf .....

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 17

Continued .....

• Harvest the last of the chillies and place them on a sunny windowsill to ripen. • Sow seeds of hardy annuals for an early display next year. • Clear ponds of fallen leaves and general debris, leaving some of the bottom silt behind for wildlife. • Take hardwood cuttings now of buddleia, philadelphus, spirea and weigela. Root them in a sheltered spot outdoors or pot them up and leave in a cold greenhouse. • Quite a lot of herbaceous perennials are evergreen and provide some colour interest in the autumn/winter flower beds or pots. Included in these are: Ajuga reptans……several varieties, the one in my garden has almost black leaves and there are others whose leaves are the colour of burgundy; easy to grow and will spread rapidly. Bergenia, has large, glossy, veined leaves with reddish stems. The whole plant turns red in the winter months. Usually known as ‘elephants ears’. Heucheras come in a huge variety of colours, from deepest maroon to lime green and have dainty flowers on long thin stems in their flowering season. Epimediums have heart shaped leaves which range in colour from vivid green to rust, depending on the variety. The leaves are veined and sometimes edged with a darker colour . The flowers when they arrive resemble tiny elf caps. • Tender plants such as begonias and some dahlias, should be lifted and stored in a cool dry place during the winter. • Prune grape vines after all the leaves have dropped but before the end of the year to avoid the bleeding of sap. • Cover overwintering carrots and parsnips with straw or cardboard to protect them from frost damage. • A small sheet of corrugated plastic or iron placed in a sheltered spot, will provide ‘tunnels’ in which small mammals and amphibians can hibernate safely. • Cover hellebores with a cloche and they will provide earlier spring flowers.

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

• Phlox, acanthus and oriental poppies can be propagated now by making root cuttings. Choose roots about the thickness of a pencil and cut into lengths of about 5-10 cms. Make a horizontal cut at one end and an angled cut at the other. Push them into cuttings compost so that the horizontal cut is just below the surface. Cover with fine grit and leave in cool dry place to root. • On a warm dry day, clean greenhouse panels inside and out to remove dirt, debris and algae. Use a hosepipe with a slow spray head which will make the job easier and more effective. • Clean pots, troughs and seed trays in preparation for next season. • Clean lawnmowers and hedge trimmers before putting away for the winter; make sure they are dry. Empty petrol driven machines of fuel as unleaded fuel doesn’t keep well and may cause problems next year when starting them up again. Use this period of less frequent use, to have machines serviced and blades sharpened. • Clean and sharpen secateurs ready for winter pruning jobs. Order spare and replacement parts if needed.



by Donna Palframan


haven’t been in the potager as much for a couple of weeks as Autumn in Normandy means one thing – cider making. As the apples ripen and fall, walk near an orchard and the air is full of the perfume of apples. Not overwhelming, not cloying and not always there… and then you walk into a pocket of apple air, and out again. All over Normandy, there are piles and sacks of apples under the trees ready to be made into the regional drink. Having bought a property with three orchards, our ambition was to make cider using our own apples and finding a mobile still so some can be distilled to make Calvados, our local eau de vie, as the Calvados we found in our sous-sol won’t last forever. There is something special about tasting Calvados made at least 30 years ago, wondering if it would kill me and then when it didn’t, wondering about the people who made it. Renovations took over until this year when we decided this is it. The year to begin our cider adventure.


Nature has her own agenda and this year it was to ripen the apples earlier than usual, so we decided to collect some and make a small trial pressing. We also gained a pressoir – a big, heavy pressoir which is probably why it escaped being sold at an auction held some years ago. The trial didn’t go well as the plateau leaked like a sieve and more apple juice ended up under it than was collected. Disappointing, but the pressoir is over a century old and hadn’t been used for years so had dried out and it didn’t matter how much cranking together of the plateau was tried, it still leaked. Not all of the pulp was used, so I used my little pressoir to obtain a small amount of juice to make cider which will then be made into cider vinegar. Ideas were bandied and the result was that we would line the plateau to avoid leakage and do a bigger batch. It seems a nice easy job but apple collecting turned out to be quite tiring, but the trailer was duly refilled and parked outside the longère by the room we now affectionately call ‘the pressoir’, ready to start the conversion into cider the next day. Our first task was to wash and check the apples for rot and mould as it is amazing how quickly they can start

to turn. Tedious, but essential. The apples were then pulped – highly essential to be able to press the juice out. Stand on a grape, then stand on an apple. See what I mean? In the old days, pulping was done using a broyeur, or crusher, and although we have an old one, the wooden parts need rebuilding so we bought an electric one which is basically the same as a garden shredder but with a bigger hole for the apples to pass on to the blades. This proved to be quite good fun and also gave us the opportunity to check the apples again for quality. Cider is made from a variety of apples and we noticed about five or six different varieties- some big, some small, some green… We tasted some and a couple were good for eating but some, while not horrible, like I’d always thought cider apples would be, were not to my taste. One task is to try to identify the different varieties as some of the trees are old and need replacing. Another problem our orchards have had is neglect, so some of the trees have been taken over by mistletoe, which has ultimately killed some and ravaged others. The mistletoe was cut out of them last year making an enormous pile of applewood and mistletoe which was piled in a distant corner to provide food and habitat for wildlife. Laws passed in 1888 and 1893 stated that all mistletoe in France must be destroyed - I’ve got a feeling it isn’t enforced any more! After pulping, the pressoir was loaded using hessian to contain the pulp and build a stack of apple pulp in layers which would compress but not collapse. Even before the head was cranked down, juice began to flow, not trickle but flow, and as the plateau was lined, it all went into the bucket used as an auge (as the beautiful granite auge that would have been with the pressoir had, alas, been sold some years ago). The bucket had to be changed to a dustbin, bought for the purpose I hasten to add, as the juice flowing became a torrent once the pressure was applied. Two pressings have been made, using two trailer-loads of apples, resulting in 400 litres of juice. Next autumn we will be better prepared and expect to extract ten times that amount as we only collected a fraction of our apples this year. The juice is now fermenting using the yeast found naturally on the apple skin – no sugar, no additives and will take about a fortnight for this first stage of cider making. The next stage will be bottling and as our preference is a sparkling cider, each bottle will need to have sugar and Champagne yeast added, the result being Champagne de Normandie! That however, will be for another day. All photographs by Donna Palframan

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 19

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020


Time For Bed

utumn is definitely here – the walnuts are falling as quickly as the trees are losing their leaves, and we are now getting all that rain we wanted in the summer, making lots of us wish we could hibernate. Plenty of creatures do tuck themselves up during the winter months, sleeping through the cold dark days and using up their fat reserves, but not honey bees.

by Kevin and Amanda Baughen

Why not become a beekeeper? Get in touch to find out more – visit our website or telephone 05 45 71 22 90

Like all insects, honey bees are poikilothermic (roughly ‘cold blooded’) and can survive extreme cold weather due to their habit of winter-clustering. As the external ambient air temperature drops, so does the bees’ internal body temperature; no foraging or broodrearing takes place and the bees cluster together with the queen at the centre of the hive. They rapidly contract and relax their muscles without moving their wings, a sort of ‘shivering’ motion, which generates enough heat to maintain the temperature of the cluster. This temperature can fall from their ideal 3435c to below 20c as winter deepens, but the bees will pack more tightly together to reduce the heat loss. They will take it in turns to be on the edge of the cluster or towards the centre; the image that comes to my mind is one of penguins huddled together against the snowstorms. Bees in winter still need to eat, and this is why the cluster will form next to the stores, moving upwards and keeping in contact with the food. The bees on the edge of the cluster will feed, and those in the centre will move to the edge as they become hungry. The bees can move sideways in their cluster but they must stay in touch with the food as they cannot break away to go looking elsewhere in the hive for it. Even if the food is only 30mm away from the outer edge of the cluster the bees cannot move to it and will die of ‘isolation starvation’. This is why it’s vital for us to ensure that not only do the bees have enough food to last them until Spring, but that it is close to where they are. Before the weather gets too cold, we inspect the hives and move the frames with stores closer to where the cluster is forming. ‘Enough food’ means no less than 18kg for a French Dadant hive, as overwintering bees will consume around 2-3kg per month, some for winter survival but also to provide food for colony development in the Spring. We get a feel for how much food the bees have by hefting the hive in the autumn and comparing it to the weight of an empty hive (bees weigh next to nothing at 0.1 grams each, therefore a winter cluster of bees will only add approximately 2kg to the weight of a hive). If they don’t have enough then we need to feed them. If only we could just tuck them up with a bedtime story and a glass of milk …. Can’t wait for Spring to arrive!

Do you have a business, hobby or interest that you think others might want to hear about? It’s not as daunting as it might seem to write for The DSM and we’ll help you all the way. Why not drop us a line at The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 21

Spotlight Death and Hell – La Danse Macabre I

by Howard Needs


he Danse Macabre theme has a solitary position in the world of medieval frescos and church wall paintings insofar that it is major in terms of both its physical size and the social breadth of its message. The most well-known example in France is in the abbey church of Saint-Robert, in La Chaise-Dieu, in the Haute-Loire. Here it is a series of black charcoal line drawings/paintings, with a predominately red background with some beige ochre, extending along the length of the external wall of the choir. In its heyday, the monastery of La Chaise-Dieu gave its name not only to the local Benedictine religious community, but also to its daughter houses throughout France. The monastery was founded by Robert de Furland, the youngest son of a noble family, who felt himself destined for the church. Returning to the Auvergne after many years spent with the Benedictines of the Monte Cassino monastery in Italy, he founded the abbey in 1050. He died in 1067 and was canonised by the Pope in 1070. At the end of the medieval period – variously defined by the fall of Constantinople in 1453 and Columbus arriving in the Caribbean in 1492 – La Chaise-Dieu was one of the biggest monasteries in France. At that time, the population in France was less than it had been in the 13th century, due to famine, plague, and incessant war with the English who had overrun more than a third of France and whose raids and influence extended into the Velay and the Auvergne. Things were not helped by the extravagance of the French nobility, who ground the populace down. Witch hunts had been so intense that the female population had been decimated (an accusation of witchcraft usually amounted to a death sentence). The fragility of life and the horror of death was expressed in art and literature. The Grim Reaper and humans faced each other in the close relationship of daily life. The humble and the poor saw death as a deliverance and a way to a better world, whilst the noble and the rich, who had food, clothing, and shelter (their extravagance being yet a further burden for the poor) could also expect unexpected death, followed by either reward or punishment in the afterlife. Depictions of the Danse Macabre appeared widely at the end of the medieval period, a time of great uncertainty, and declined during the 17th century. Danse Macabre paintings created after the 17th century do not follow the older iconography.

The king, the cardinal and the constable The Danse Macabre showed that all social classes, from the Pope to the poor peasants, were equal in the face of death. The general form of the paintings is always the same – a horizontal succession of personages, variable in number, alternating with skeletal figures. The persons depicted are from all walks of medieval life: Pope, priest, peasant, merchant, clerk, and others, shown in natural poses. The skeletons are shown pulling, pushing, mocking, gesturing, and playfully interacting with their live partner – a sober reminder that no matter your status in life, rich or poor, noble or serf, clergy or citizen, the same fate awaits: death and judgement. My wife and I visited La Chaise-Dieu some years back on a sombre October afternoon. After finding a parking place at the back of the abbey, we entered the abbey church through a nondescript side entrance and found ourselves in the nave, where we were confronted by two walls of colour, the one hung with magnificent tapestries, the other covered in paintings that at first sight looked like modern sketches. We were overwhelmed by what we saw.

The medical practitioner

The Pope, the emperor, the legate and the king

The tapestries are hung in their original emplacement (the choir) and comprise 14 separate tapestries, of which 12 form one theme – the Announcement through to the Last Judgement – and the other two, seemingly not part of the set, represent the Nativity and the Resurrection. Situated in the choir, they were intended to direct

the thoughts of the monks towards religious matters. These tapestries are very worthwhile viewing, and anyone who has marvelled at the tapestries of the apocalypse in Angers castle will marvel at these as well. However, the frescos are the subject of this article and have to be dealt with despite the wealth of other interesting information on the history of La Chaise-Dieu. The wall paintings of the Danse Macabre here are true frescos, in that they were prepared on a wet plaster base rather than painted on dry plaster, which in part explains their The theologian survival. They comprise three large panels on the reverse side of the north partitioning wall of the choir, situated between four pillars, a placing appropriate for viewing by visitors and pilgrims. The total length is about 26 metres and the height about 1.5 metres. Since styles of clothing changed rapidly even in that era, the date of the painting can be determined to a reasonable degree of accuracy on the basis of the attributes of the persons depicted. This painting dates from the 1450s and has been retouched and restored a number of times. The figures are drawn in charcoal, and a background of red and beige ochre is used to give the impression of the figures standing on the ground. They are lifelike and animated and do not have the wooden, two-dimensional, feel of older paintings, even though they lack the richness in colour of the traditional frescos (for example in the church of Meslay-le-Grenet, Eureet-Loir, where the painting extends over many metres of the south wall of the nave, in glorious colour). The sombre, nearly monochrome effect at La Chaise-Dieu reinforces the message of the paintings.

I have read that the order of the figures follows social class from high to low, but this is only approximate. There is a superabundance of religious personages, only to be expected in the late Middle Ages, and just one representative of the poor country folk. I do not see anyone from the high nobility – dukes and counts and so on – or from the professions, such as a tanner. The pillars in between the three panels have also been painted, by another painter, using pigment on dry plaster, which is more vulnerable. They are much degraded and have not been retouched or restored in the past. Each pillar presents five facets to the visitor, and each facet has been used. The themes that can be discerned or supposed are related to the main theme of the frescos. Some of the personages seem to be musicians accompanying the dance, others are perhaps the audience. The degree of uncertainty in the identification of roles renders any further mention pointless in this article.

The Cistercian monk

I hope to continue with the Danse in a later article as a part of an ongoing series on medieval wall paintings depicting Death and Hell.

The peasant

I have made thankful use of two excellent books on the Danse Macabre and La Chaise-Dieu, by Patrick Rossi, Editions Jeanne d’Arc, and by Hélène and Bertrand Utizinger, Editions J.M. Garnier

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 23

Photos by Howard Needs

There is no modern-day explanatory text to this painting, unlike some others. The identification of each figure relies on interpretation of the clothing. There are 23

pairs, starting with the Pope, followed by the emperor, the legate, the king, the cardinal, the constable (warden, governor of a royal town or castle), the abbot, the knight, the Benedictine monk, the bourgeois, the canoness, the merchant, the Benedictine nun, the bailiff, a female religious figure, the lover, the medical practitioner, the minstrel, the theologian, the peasant, the Cistercian monk, the child, and, lastly, the lay brother. The charcoal line drawings are quite detailed, stylised but natural, in their depiction of society in the Middle Ages. The skeletons are not quite just bone – there is a hint of skin remaining taut over the bones. All of the figures are to a certain extent stylised, with appropriate symbology in gestures, clothing, and attributes such that they would have been easily identified by the congregation and visitors.

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across 1. Treat with excessive indulgence (6) 4. Capital and largest city of Iraq (6) 8. A band that goes over the shoulder and supports a garment or bag (5) 9. French lawyer (7) 10. An antiquity that has survived from a distant past (5) 11. ‘Arabian Nights’ character (7) 12. Psychiatric term used to describe excessive preoccupation with one’s identity or self (9) 15. A republic on the Black Sea separated from Russia by the Caucasus mountains (7) 16. French mustard (5) 17. A stronghold into which people could get shelter during a battle (7) 18. An acute but unspecific feeling of anxiety (5)

19. Full of high-spirited delight (6) 20. A sea in northern Europe; stronghold of the Russian navy (6)

Down 2. Deer horn (6) 3. Not attending school, bunking off (7-6) 5. An annual steeplechase run in Liverpool (5-8) 6. Filled with fear or apprehension (6) 7. Not pleasant or acceptable to the taste or mind (11) 13. An electrical device that sends or receives radio or television signals (6) 14. A dwarfed ornamental tree (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

With thanks to M.Morris

Clues Across 1. Cut coming after normal condition found in the garden? (7) 5. Heads up! Infernal god arriving! (5) 8. Evil sprite taking in liquid to give courage? (5) 9. Seems in trouble leading to downfall? (7) 10. Solar heating enveloped creature now extinct? (4) 11. It’s true; lady is mixed up in marital affair. (8) 14. A drop in the water? (3) 16. Having fun, I only wanted to hide a joint! (5) 17. Less than bright heads of department inviting mockery! (3) 19. Non-drinkers found with queen robed in skin of flannel? (8) 20. Sore back for divine archer............? (4) 23. ...........with quiver made by soprano covering for maiden? (7) 25. Outlaw bishop butting into Scottish dance? (5) 26. Take to court over agreement in Rome for she who must “wake up”? (5) 27. Adjoining us, one teen is mixed up? (7)

Clues Down 1. Dad taking exercise with socialist has got it covered? (7) 2. Wake up! Complaint has no foundation! (5) 3. Brand of divinity? (4) 4. Swing round and we’ll make a casserole? (3) 5. I arrive following hollow greeting; now I see where you are coming from. (8) 6. Swell result of care taken after insult? (7) 7. Cheeky army unit being on the borders of silly? (5) 12. Primarily, doing regular intense exercise really isn’t so wet! (5) 13. What is appropriate could be tailored for? (8) 15. Give me domestic animals over liars and nutters, essentially they are heavenly? (7) 18. Salt from Paris injected in plant to cultivate a French wine? (7) 19. Feast assembled for gods of destiny? (5) 21. Priest of dual sexuality exposed after ban is overturned? (5) 22. Goddess of the rainbow getting round pupil? (4) 24. Formerly poets dropping drug off in this place? (3)

Brain Gym What has one head, one tail but no body? What kind of coat is best put on wet? The more there is of this, the less you see. What is it? If there are three apples and you take away two, how many apples do you have? What breaks yet never falls, and what falls yet never breaks?

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

Q6. Can you work out the well known phrase or saying from the visual clues? b.




Answers on P.47

Q1. Q2. Q3. Q4. Q5.

The Royal British Legion


he British Legion was founded in 1921 as a voice for the exservice community. A Royal Charter was granted in 1925, accompanied by invaluable patronage from royal circles. During the Second World War, it was active in civil defence, providing officers to the Home Guard.

During the years of World War I, the beautiful landscapes of the western front had been made barren by the fighting, nothing much could grow. The one striking exception was the bright red Flanders poppy, flourishing and growing in their thousands. Inspired by the sight, a Canadian doctor, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, was moved after the death of a friend to write the famous poem ’In Flanders Fields’. American Moina Michael, stirred on by the poem, then campaigned for the poppy to be adopted as the official symbol of remembrance in the United States and worked with others trying to do the same in the UK, Canada and Australia. Also involved in these efforts was Anna Guérin, a French woman in London, who planned to sell poppies around her neighbourhood. She met the founder of the Royal British Legion, Earl Haig, who was persuaded to adopt the flower as its emblem. Now famous worldwide, the annual poppy appeal was first held in 1921, the poppies sold out almost immediately with the £106,000 raised being used to help veterans find employment and housing. The Legion is here to help members of the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families. And we’re not going anywhere. Our support starts after seven days of service and continues through life, long after service is over. We provide lifelong support to our Armed Forces community and their families. From providing dedicated care homes for older veterans, to support for carers, to helping ex-serving personnel and their families to live safely at home – we’re here to help people live on through life. Our team can provide practical support as well as advice and guidance to make sure you can access the services you need. From expert recovery and rehabilitation, to much-needed support, we’re here all year round to ensure the Armed Forces community can access any help they might need. We’re here to help ease the burden of financial pressures and transition into civilian life for the Armed Forces community. Whether you need help to claim compensation after an injury, help with your finances or support to find a job after you’ve left the Armed Forces - we can help you. Expert Guidance. We offer members of the Armed Forces community robust support in a number of areas but sometimes what’s needed is actually just a bit of advice or a recommendation to more specialised services.


ere on the United States East Coast the fall season has arrived. Leaves are turning to glorious autumn colours and look fantastic; the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness and wonky knee time has arrived. Wonky knee, really? What’s all that about? TEST’n’TRACE is all the buzz in our family. It is a system that we are all familiar with and use a lot, or at least talk about on both sides of the Atlantic. Well, we did, until our particular Connecticut family version suffered a malfunction. Family conversations to and fro across the pond are normally animated as we compare and contrast the merits and success of our latest, exceptionally ground breaking TEST and TRACE systems. But this particular New England version is the exclusive dreamchild of our family. Anglo-American, exclusive and cheap too. The only equipment required is a cell phone, (what you guys quaintly call a ‘mobile phone’) and a pack of dogs. Kids, cars and other accessories can be added from time to time if the fancy takes you, even beakers of coffee, but you can just as well go with the basic pedestrian water bottle kit, socially distanced, naturally. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to round up the dogs and set off for the trails. Simples. Once there, wherever ‘there’ is on that particular day, the children, dog pack, whatever, are released to fraternise with nature and I can wander along catching up with my emails. But wait! The dogs have gone missing .... Test’nTrace swings into action! Now, unless the missing pack snuffles up the scent of food, naturally, they will conspire to stay missing. Fact. It is no good trying to appeal to their sense of responsibility, to respond to the call, this is not an all-for-one-and-one-for-all-in-it-together situation. No, No, NO. It’s a canine me first, or rather my ditto stomach first, and within that lies the answer. Get back to basics. Food. Rattle a food container, open it up and let the aroma pervade the great outdoors and voila, one by one the voracious hounds will TRACE it. Job done. In a perfect world this is how it should work, and until quite recently it did work equally well for both our dogs and children, until one of our dogs, Moseley, suffered a wonky knee malfunction. Normally we don’t have to wait-a-mo for Moseley, he’s always the first responder in a food rattle, but now the vet says that Mo has been too keen, too greedy, too everything and he now has a wonky knee problem, ‘CCL’ or torn cranial cruciate ligament, in not just one leg, but slightly in t’other, a proper job! In the Land of the Free, very little is free and medical care is super expensive. The surgery and care for Mo has already cost north of $3,000. The first twelve weeks after surgery are critical and so, as he is unable to put weight on his knee, we have to carry him up and down stairs. He wants to be with the family. Ahhhh. Fortunately he doesn’t weigh as much as Loki, the family Alaskan Malamut who is circa 40kg! All-in-all we hope that the costs will not become exponential as some Test’nTrace systems have been known to become and that our own physical fitness will stand up to the weight lifting challenge. Winter is coming! Bundle up, mask up and take care ...


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 25

La Vie En France A snapshot of life in occupied rural France


uring the recent lockdown, many people made comparisons with the restrictions experienced during World War II. With Armistice Day approaching I wondered what life was like in occupied rural France and what difficulties faced the general population at that time. “Life is hard (On vit mal). Everyone grows thinner. A kilo of butter costs one thousand francs. A kilo of peas forty-five francs. A kilo of potatoes forty francs. Still we must find them.” – Jean Guéhenno, August 1944. Rationing of essential goods like bread, sugar, butter, cheese, eggs, fruit, meat and coffee was gradually introduced throughout France from the autumn of 1940 in response to the growing shortages. Chocolate, fresh fish, vegetables and tripe were added to the list of rationed goods in 1941. Rationing in France did not end fully until 1949. These shortages had been caused by blockages to trade routes, German food requisition and the reduction in rural labour due to the Service du Travail Obligatoire. This compulsory work (known as STO) was the forced enlistment and deportation of hundreds of thousands of French workers to Germany, to compensate for its loss of manpower as it enlisted more and more soldiers. France was the third largest forced labour provider behind Russia and Poland, with around 600,000 French workers sent to Germany between June 1942 and July 1944.

A ration book (un bon de décharge) was issued to each citizen with monthly limits being set for each commodity according to its availability. One foodstuff though, the swede (le rutabaga), remained readily accessible. It became the symbol for the misery of rationing. There were reports of people reduced to eating cats and dogs and indeed posters were displayed

by Lynne Wigmore

in Paris warning of the dangers of eating rats. The shortages of food created desperation and furtive concealment of possessions. Housewives would close the door at mealtimes to conceal the smell of lard or the cooking of a cake made with illegal flour. Some of the population saw a positive benefit to their health as the lower fat intake decreased coronary heart disease and wine shortages reduced cirrhosis cases, but for the young and elderly, severe vitamin deficiencies and undernourishment were common. Henriette Dodd was aged twelve at the outbreak of the war and in her story given to the BBC in 2004 she recalls that the authorities issued vitamin tablets to the schools, but children threw them away because of the foul taste. They were soon replaced with vitamin biscuits; they were not so readily discarded. She recollects that rhubarb sticks would only be eaten when there was enough sugar, but the leaves were used as a replacement for spinach until the authorities advised the population that they contained high levels of oxalic acid and should not be consumed. She describes the shortages in her interview with the BBC… “The food situation was pathetic, very little bread, our usual baker took our bread tickets for the whole month and gave us one baguette a day, a little more than our allocation. Then she was caught for being too generous and her shop closed for two weeks. We were without bread for that time. We tried to remedy the shortage of meat by breeding rabbits (I used to be sent to pick some grass to feed them every day) and when going to my grandmother for the summer holidays, we had to transport them in a wicker suitcase by train. Some people remarked on the fact they could see the legs of the rabbits protruding though the loose lid of the case. There was no coffee but a mixture of chicory which was more a laxative than anything else and at one period, no potatoes were available, so I ate carrots at every meal and developed an orange coloured skin.” This scarcity of provisions meant that most people turned to the black market. Many city dwellers reconnected with their country relatives who would provide them with much needed parcels of food which were known as ‘colis familaux’. 13.5 million parcels were sent throughout France in 1942 alone, but these parcels could be confiscated in transit, so customers began to go direct to the supplier. Urbanites began to travel on trains into the rural towns to find supplies at more favourable prices. The trains took the names of the vegetables their commuters were searching for, such as les trains des haricots and les trains des pomme des terres. This smaller version of the black market known as ‘marche amical’ was a saving for the customer. An example of the government price setting in 1943 shows that a dozen eggs (if available) would cost 24 francs but could be purchased through the marche amical for 53 francs or the black market in the city for 76 francs. Of course, it was not just food that was scarce. Henriette recalls that children were dressed in clothes made of blankets dyed a more suitable colour and her shoes had soles of wood. Coal,

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

gas and petrol was in short supply and domestic fuel shortages caused misery in the worst winters on record between 1940 and 1944. The French did not just accept this hardship, they fought back. The most famous resistance movement to materialise from rural France was ‘The Marquis’. Marquis means shrubland and the expression ‘prendre le marquis’ means to go underground. It was a covert organisation that existed throughout rural France, but its size and structure varied by region. Composed of locals, they harassed the Germans and disrupted their transport lines. A clandestine newspaper was distributed and false papers manufactured to assist those who were fleeing from the German authorities. Many British airmen shot down by German artillery were aided in their escape by The Marquis. The resistance network worked to ensure their evacuation to England via Spain using the main escape route through the department of Deux-Sèvres on a north-south axis (Niort / Parthenay / Airvault / Irais) and then to the Iberian Peninsula. Information kindly given by Centre Régional “Résistance & Liberté” (CRRL), Thouars, describes how local people worked together and formed cells. As early as 1942 the resistance movement had started in the Deux-Sèvres area with help from the prefectures and local administrations, even though the threat of reprisal against its members and their families was high. There are hundreds of stories of ordinary local people behaving with extraordinary bravery such as :M. Maurice Croisé, joined the movement in 1941 and assisted in the formation of a cell in Secondigny forest, which provided equipment and supplies to STO deserters. Around 1500 men passed through his farm and were either directed to other safe houses or offered agricultural work on his land. In March 1943 M. Despierre, of Noizé, collected and housed two English airmen who were shot down in Brittany and needed to reach Spain. The local constable, M. Couloume, knew of a smuggler who could help but needed to arrange a leave of absence to take the men. A young girl, Mlle Denise Baudet, contacted Lieutenant Bernard, commander of the gendarmerie section of Parthenay (and a resistance member), and was able to obtain Constable Couloume the necessary leave. At the same time, a link was established between Lieutenant Bernard and the Irais group. Of course, these actions did not go unnoticed by the German authorities and promises of financial reward or the freedom of a captured loved one were offered in return for information against those responsible for the acts of defiance. In April 1944, an anonymous letter to the Gestapo de Niort reported on the rescue efforts carried out in the town of Chef-Boutonne to American airmen and revealed the role of Mme Élise Giroux in the organization. The resulting despatch was intercepted, and the group remained at large.

I have seen many local monuments to the brave members of the resistance and indeed live on a street named in honour of a young man who died in Germany, just a few months before the end of the war. André Gastel was 22 when he was sent to Germany as part of the STO in 1942. He was arrested for sabotage in 1943 and sent to a concentration camp, where he died in January 1945. The Centre Régional Résistance & Liberté de Thouars (CRRL) have been an invaluable help in the creation of this article. Through their exhibitions and artefacts they offer an insight into life in France during the Second World war and, in particular, the work of the Resistance. The centre is well worth a visit (they are open February to September each year, consult their website for details). So many regional heroes and heroines led double lives to help others; ordinary people prepared to carry out extra-ordinary acts of bravery and sacrifice to save the lives of people they didn’t know. It is right that we honour and remember them. ~~~ “Chanson d’automne” (“Autumn Song”) is a poem by Paul Verlaine (1844–1896), one of the best known in the French language. In World War II lines from the poem were used to send messages from Special Operations Executive (SOE) to the French Resistance about the timing of the forthcoming Invasion of Normandy. French Version

English Translation

Les sanglots longs Des violons De l’automne Blessent mon cœur D’une langueur Monotone.

The long sobs Of violins Of autumn Wound my heart With a monotonous Languor.

Tout suffocant Et blême, quand Sonne l’heure, Je me souviens Des jours anciens Et je pleure;

All breathless And pale, when The hour sounds, I remember Former days And I cry;

Et je m’en vais Au vent mauvais Qui m’emporte Deçà, delà, Pareil à la Feuille morte.

And I go In the ill wind Which carries me Here, there, Like the Dead leaf.

Photo : French resistance workers The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 27

Health, Beauty and Fitness Everyday Yoga for Everyone Well-being and Resilience Workshop for Challenging Time by Rebecca Novick

2020 has made me increasingly aware of the challenges we face in maintaining our physical and mental health and equilibrium. In an earlier article, I quoted the modern-day Indian sage, Maharaj Nisargadatta; “The moment we become aware of the fragility of our condition, we are already alert”. Penny Gates, a former lead for learning and people development for the NHS, and I, will be unpacking the essence of this quote through a face to face 3-day workshop in the Spring of 2021. The programme is designed to empower us to better manage our health and well-being and to improve our resilience so that we can flourish in all aspects of our lives. You will learn how to face and overcome everyday challenges and to more effectively pursue your chosen direction of meaning and value. The workshop will take place at La Chapelle-SaintLaurent over two consecutive days with a later day for follow up. The programme has been tried and tested over several years in the UK where Penny was qualified to run the programme both as facilitator and to train the trainers. It is grounded in positive psychology, yoga, mindfulness and cognitive behavioural therapy and is supported by research evidence. The exercises and practices presented help us to (1) recognize and come to terms with our mental/emotional state in the present moment, (2) understand how these states impact our short and long term health and wellbeing both positively and negatively, and (3) bring the best of our attention to our condition with simple and practical tools for effective interventions. With a mixture of learning and practical sessions, interspersed with yoga and breathwork, the programme offers ways to develop mindfulness, build resilience and become more able to adapt to change; skills that we all need in these challenging times. A light lunch and refreshments will be offered throughout. Cost per person per day is 65€. We will be launching our first programme in the Spring of 2021, date to be decided. Spaces are limited to 10 participants and we will be complying with any Coronavirus guidelines that may be in place at that time. If you are interested in joining us please email Penny at or contact me at my email below. We would love to talk to you and answer any questions that you might have. For more information email Rebecca at or follow her on

Advertising your business with us may not be quite as relaxing as a walk along a beach ... but it’s not far off. 28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

Our Furry Friends A few words from ... Association En Route Association En Route has only been running for 2 years and in that time it has rescued/rehomed 125 dogs. The greatest expense incurred by far is Vet fees, which in this very difficult year alone (up to October) were 12,798€. We are a very small association with people experienced in dog management and others who will assist in fundraising activities. We are always looking for volunteers, especially those willing to foster. Fosterers are very special people! They enable a dog to be taken out of the pound, rehomed for a short time until adopted. Fosterers also give the association an idea of how the dog behaves - what its likes/dislikes are - whether it likes dogs/cats etc; how it behaves in the house - on a lead - what it likes to eat. But this takes time and patience and all depends how long the animal has been in the ‘pound’ and what its life has been before! This is such an important part of the dog’s rehabilitation and enables the association to rehome the animal appropriately. Prospective adopters also must realise that it will take several months for a traumatised animal to settle fully into their new home and must be prepared for the odd “bump in the road”, EnRoute continue to support their adopters for as long as necessary - you are not on you own. Just to be clear fosterers and adopters can be anywhere in Deux-Sèvres. EnRoute is based at St Soline, but dogs travel all over Deux-Sèvres and sometimes out of it! As Christmas approaches and the World is still in turmoil, Ark79 have invited various animal charities to have a stall there. The dates for our stall are Tuesday 24th November, Saturday 28th November and Tuesday 1st December - all from 10.00-14:00. You will need to book a slot with Ark79 and observe Covid rules i.e. a mask to be worn at all times on the property except when you are eating and drinking. Please come along and see us - have a natter if you feel you could support us in any way. Thank you

Rudy This gorgeous face of experience belongs to Rudy who is twelve years old and who hasn’t seen many home comforts in his life. That’s all changed now that he’s in foster, but we need to find a lifetime foster for him. This means he will live out his days with you, but that En Route will pay for any vet care he needs. Do you have a space by your fire for this lovely oldie? If you do, please get in touch.

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

Visit the website: If you are involved with an animal charity, or association, and would like to advertise (usually free of charge) here or write a short article on your charity, why not drop us a line at

hope association charity shops helping animals in need

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

hope 79 • sauzé-vaussais

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

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

Betty Two years old and less than 11 kilos , this sweet heart is looking for her new family. She is no problem with other dogs and is waiting for a comfy bed in a loving home. Betty is neutered, vaccinated with passport and rabies and micro-chipped. Adoption fee will apply. If you are interested in this sweet little lady get in touch.

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

Fred Fred is ready for adoption and has been with us quite a while. He came to us with his sister, who has since been adopted. He loves attention, loves strokes and cuddles. If you are interested in Fred please contact us either via Facebook, email thefunnyrfarmresceu@ or visit us on Wednesdays between 11am - 4pm. Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 29

On The Road Setting Sail For An Epic Race by Helen Tait-Wright

November the 2020 edition of the Vendée Globe Onracethewill8thdepart from Les Sables d’Olonne. For anyone who does not know, this race is known as the ‘Everest of the Seas’, and is a solo, non-stop circumnavigation of the world, by sea. No assistance is allowed, this is single handed sailing at its most extreme.

Miranda Merron is the most senior of the women, at 51 years old, and although a sailor from the age of five she gave up her career in advertising 22 years ago to pursue her dream. Pip Hare has been a professional sailor for 25 years, but only broke into solo sailing 10 years ago, and put everything she had on the line to secure a boat for the Vendée.

For an island surrounded by water, British entrants have been relatively few in the French dominated race, with the most famous being Dame Ellen MacArthur, the most prolific being Mike Golding and most recently Alex Thompson, who challenged Armel Le Cleac’h for the overall win in the 2016 edition, with an eventual second place finish.

Another skipper of note in this edition is Damien Seguin, who is the first disabled entrant in the race. Born without his left hand, he has already competed on the Paralympic circuit, but has now moved into offshore sailing. His challenge is amplified thanks to his disability, as if it wasn’t difficult enough already, and how he copes will be interesting to watch.

In this edition, nine nationalities are represented; France, Great Britain, Spain, Japan, Switzerland, Australia, Finland, Italy and Germany.

Back in 2000, Ellen MacArthur pioneered a more connected race, as she sent back the now legendary video footage from her ordeal, including the low points and her fears. With advances in technology we can be sure that this edition will be more connected than ever, and we also know that Alex Thompson is a master in this field, so we have some great footage to look forward to.

Since 1989, the race has run once every 4 years, so this will be Alex Thompson’s chance to build on his second place and come home on the top step of the podium; a position never taken by a Brit. With a radical new boat, which remains largely untested in race conditions, he comes to the race as a favourite and an unknown quantity at the same time. Having said that, no-one would bet against him for a win on his fifth participation in the event. For the 2020 / 21 edition, there will actually be four British entrants as Alex Thompson is joined by three British women, Pip Hare, Samantha Davies and Miranda Merron. When you take into account that only seven women have ever previously competed in the race, this is incredible. And the female entries don’t stop there for 2020, as the three British girls are joined by two French ladies, Alexia Barrier and Clarisse Cremer, and a French/ German Isabelle Joschke. With the exception of Samantha Davies, all the women will be making their first attempt at this epic race. In fact, this edition sees the most female entrants ever to take part in a Vendée Globe race. Samantha Davies previously raced in the 2008 edition, seizing fourth place but was then sadly dismasted in the 2012 edition, but she is certainly among the favourites for a podium finish in the 2020 edition. With her partner Romain Attanasio also taking part, this is the first time that a couple have entered the race! 30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

The Vendée village will be open in the run up to the race, by prior reservation only to comply with COVID restrictions, giving everyone a chance to get up close to the boats and experience the buzz surrounding the race. You will also be able to follow the race via the live tracking from the website and we will bring you updates.

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020| 31

Gazelles Update

with Helen Tait-Wright and Sue Alemann

November 2020 Update.


fter all the excitement of last month, we thought things might have calmed down a bit for our Gazelles, but as it turns out they are as busy as ever! Driving and navigation training continues, we hear rumours of TV appearances, and they have recently featured in the local press. “We still have some pitches out to sponsors that we have to follow up” explains Sue. “We hope to be able to announce a fun sponsorship with another French enterprise very soon” We managed to catch Helen before she departed for Portugal …. Portugal? “Yes, sadly we have been unable to participate in the Rally Adventure Georgia after all” says Helen. “Brits are not permitted to enter the country and although we can get round that as we have French residency, the only way in is via a direct flight from Paris, which makes taking Priscilla a bit of a challenge. Luckily we have been able to delay our entry until next year”

Instead Helen and Chris are taking Priscilla south to find mountain trails and Atlantic coast sand to train on, although by the time you read this, they should be back! The joys of copy deadlines. With their tyres in a container on the way from Asia, due to arrive in November, there is still no obvious representation for their principal partner Giti, but a lot of work going on behind the scenes to get Priscilla’s new look and their branded clothing in place. “Soon you won’t be able to escape the fact that Giti are our Principal Partner” jokes Sue. “The great thing is that with Giti on board, the proceeds from our November auction will be 100% for our Charity causes” says Helen. The girls are supporting not only the Coeur de Gazelles, the Rally Charity, but also the British Moroccan Society Rural Learning Centre in Talataste, Morocco, bringing education to the women and children of this remote area. Auction details are below. Even if you can’t attend in person, register for a catalogue, and you will still be able to leave your bid “on the book” for some great lots.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 32

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To Soup, Or Not To Soup


by Jacqueline Brown

t will soon be time to make the switch from salad lunches to soup. Whilst I love the bright colours, the mix of sweet and tangy flavours and crunchy textures of my salads, enjoyed in a sunny spot in the garden bien sûr, I just can’t eat them in cold weather. I know autumn has established itself when I begin to crave a hot bowl of creamy vegetable soup, spiced just enough to add an extra layer of warmth. All summer, any leftovers have been labelled up “For Soup” and frozen, awaiting their moment to shine as the flavour base of a batch of homemade soup. The potager may be looking a little sad and sorry for itself now, but there are plenty of butternut squash and pumpkins still to pick that, bulked out with onions, carrots, leeks and my homemade bone broth stock, will make some great soups. No two batches will be the same but each one will be warming and delicious. Just thinking about it now makes me want to get out my big crock pot and make a start, but once I make the salad/soup switch, there’s no going back until the warmth of spring can be felt in the air, and I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to my salads just yet. Our apple harvest this year was almost as prolific as the plums earlier in the summer and although they were delicious enough to eat straight from the tree, I had to find something else to do with them. My freezers are full to bursting with compotes and purées that will keep our breakfasts fruity and interesting over winter. The walnut harvest was a bit damper than I would have liked as they really do benefit from lying out in crates on warm, sunny days before we put them into store, but at least the wind and rain helped them fall from the trees. I’ve also been foraging in the hedgerows for sloes, as they also seem to be in abundance this year. My first batch of sloe gin has been maturing for a few weeks, so by Christmas it will be ready to serve. Talking of Christmas, the mincemeat has been made, packed with our apples and walnuts. One of the things that kept me busy during lockdown was sorting through cupboards, shelves and drawers that had been forgotten for too long, but I lost the momentum over summer. Well, with the change in weather, it’s back and stronger than before. These last few weeks the bikes have been neglected in favour of chucking out years of stuff in order to re-purpose rooms and even do a bit of decorating. I have to admit it feels good to start getting on top of things that have done their best to swamp me in the past. We might have achieved great things so far, although we are still a long way off being clutter-free, but onwards and upwards, it’s good to have a winter project. Email:

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020| 33

Food and Drink When Wine Is Work … I know you’re waiting for me, my bulbous beauties, having sucked all the goodness you can from sun and soil. I’ll be with you soon, to caress you, to clip you, release you, to send you on your final journey… alarm goes off at 5.30. I slam the snooze Tathe5.30 and 2 seconds. There’s still reaction

in the old bones. Sleep too. 5.39 alarm. Why a nine minute interval? Why not a decent, decimal ten? The clock is ganging up on me. I give in and get up. I breakfast, most importantly, with coffee. Monty, an expressive Jack Russell, lifts an eyebrow at me and at the blackness outside the kitchen window, decides this is an anomaly beyond his ken, and regains his cushion with a whuff. He’s right, he’s always primevally right: this is all wrong. ‘Recherche Vendangeurs’ the roadside sign had said, ‘Looking for grape pickers’. I’d been driving along, minding my own business, mindlessly listening to crap on the radio, when it hit me: crikey, I know this place, I kind of know the family who own it, I’m a shoo-in. I left my particulars and awaited the call-up. A couple of days later it came. A bleep, a text on my mobile: rendez-vous à la cave demain, 7.30. I suddenly felt a part of something, of nature maybe, being called to action to bring in the harvest. I had never understood Harvest Festival all those years ago, had never taken in that stuff came to fruition at a certain time, it had always seemed just an excuse for perfumed bosoms, fading flowers and cinched wheat in a cold church. But what to wear? Not a question I’d had to address for quite some time. There’s a lot to be said for suit and tie – you don’t have to think too much. As long as you don the uniform, you’ll do. There’s some leeway of course: single breasted = solid, will take his pension as a ‘general manager’ after all the years have loomed and gone; double breasted = fancies himself, bit of a prat, but maybe… ; thin tie, fat tie, design, college, club – a minefield into which a timid toe, let alone neck, should not be slid. But what does a grape picker wear? I went layered: t-shirt (Primark), work shirt (Emmaus), oilskin jacket (had it forever so it looked the soiled business, like I’d just been shooting pheasant or mucking out cows). Talking of which. In the courtyard of the cave, there was much shuffling in the mud and a haze of early morning fags (rolled). The team, l’équipe, had assembled. Fifteen, sixteen of us. There were the older guys, hanging together, grunting and guffawing and growing silent, then doing the same again as in a roundelay. The youngsters arrived in dubious cars, yicking and yacking like the man, but nervous and hesitant under the armour. Where was I to go? To which group should I veer? OK. First, as a sixty-something, who was I kidding? Second, no time for choice. All in the back of a couple of tractors then down the road and up the road and round a corner and… a vineyard. All things considered, a depressingly large vineyard. And this was only a small parcel of the domaine’s 30 hectares. There was time, if you were so inclined, to appreciate the pinks and baby blues of the

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

by John Sherwin

dawning day. But not that much time. Why go to this much trouble when a machine could do it all for you? This is not a tap you can turn on and off, machine one year, humans the next. The very design and planning of the vineyard has to take harvest as a central issue. If you decide on machine harvesting, the rows of vines have to be far enough apart to accommodate the machine, so fewer vines per hectare than the plots where human bodies can pass and human hands do the picking. Fewer vines per hectare means fewer bottles… and so economics raises its ugly, inevitable head. (There’s a common, wry saying: the sure fire way to make a small fortune in the wine biz is to start with a large one.) Sometimes the decision is made for you. The vertiginous slopes of the northern Rhone, for example, preclude mechanical intervention, unless you want to be squished under a ton of metal obeying the laws of gravity. Then there is the Wine Police (aka the INAO, Institut Nationale des Appellations d’Origine) who make the rules that protect a wine’s authenticity and quality, and one of the rules in Champagne, for another example, dictate that all grapes must be picked by hand. But assuming you have the choice, consider the pros and cons. The capital cost is eye-watering. I’ve seen second hand (mind you) machines going for around €150,000. That’s a lot of loot lying around unused for all but a week in the year. But it’s ready at the turn of a key, can do its thing any time (handy if rain clouds are rolling in), and doesn’t complain or turn up hungover. The team I worked with would have cost the domaine, back of an envelope calculation, the best part of €30,000, ie a machine could pay for itself after five years. But what of quality? There are reports that claim wines made from machine-harvested grapes are in no way inferior to hand-harvested, and I’ve no reason to doubt their sincerity, but still… Which brings me to the work itself. Forget about any induction training. No PowerPoint presentation explaining how to cut, what to cut, what to do with what you’ve cut, and, this being France, certainly no ‘elf and safety’. The words you need to know are sécateurs (or

there’s no going back and the significance is far more than different verb endings. But I digress. Although we ‘tu-ed’ with gay abandon, there was a definite chain of command. At Domaine de la Barbinière, for that was my place of work, the owner and founder and allround patriarch is Philippe. He has two sons, Vincent who’s in charge of winemaking at the cave, and Alban who oversees the vines, and it was Alban who was in command of the motley crew. Under him were three or four lieutenants who organised the caisses and picked them up on large, modified wheelbarrows when full. These were then stacked on the trailer, atop which Alban kept an imperialistic eagle eye on proceedings.

vendangettes if you want to get cutesy and technical), the stubby, vicious scissors that are literally at the sharp end of the business; seau, your trusty bucket, whose contents you pitch into a caisse, a plastic case that takes about ten bucketsful. So now you’ve got the vocab. Time to hope that someone has been-here-done-that before, which most have, and follow what they do. Out of the corner of your eye of course so as not to seem such a clueless oaf. The pinks and blues of early morning have morphed into a cloudless sky: it’s going to get hot. Due to a dislike of needles bordering on phobia I have never tried hard drugs so have never experienced withdrawal symptoms. After ten minutes of clipping I was getting them. If you substitute for hard drugs a sybaritic lifestyle, where standing up, sitting down, and moving around comfortably is the norm, then I was getting them. Serious withdrawal symptoms. There is no single comfortable posture to adopt, there are just less uncomfortable ones. And even them you have to change every five minutes because what was tolerable then is intolerable now. There’s the old lady stoop; then the takea-knee, left then right; then the please-God-both-knees; finally the bum-on-terroir, legs straddling a thirty year old vine up close in your face and it’s looking back at you saying is that all you’ve got, sucker? Only fifteen minutes in and a plant is talking to me and I’m aching and hating my sécateurs, my seau, and the ever open maw of the caisse. Still, upwards and onwards, could be worse, Dunkirk spirit, Henry V… If I have ever accumulated any good karma in my life then the sun should be much, much, higher in the sky so that it’s getting nearer to getting much lower and bringing a close to the day… But no grape picker is an island, and there was camaraderie amongst the team, as there always is when the job in hand is wearisome and seemingly endless and the responsibility is shared. Everyone was ‘tu’ from the outset which was rather liberating: you often go for years ‘vous-ing’ people you know increasingly well as time goes by but you never get round to the switch to ‘tu’. All a bit of a minefield as the change is far more than a stylistic holiday – once that Rubicon is crossed

And said proceedings were not as straightforward as you might think. Just as there are many types of wine, there are many grape varieties which grow in different ways. The chenin blanc, one of the jewels in the crown of the Loire valley, tends to grow in fat bunches which can easily get crammed between trellising wires and posts making the job of extracting them a feat of vineyard gynaecology. Yes, a difficult minx, the old chenin. Gamay, on the other hand, just hangs there aching to be cut as if it had just slipped on an overcoat and was waiting to be taken out to the races, aka the wine press. But no variety is immune from verjus, the wine world equivalent of runty louts on street corners who are never going to amount to anything. These are small bunchlets of grapes which, for whatever reason, have just not ripened. They’re hard to the touch (think of a slightly bigger version of a frozen pea) and if you have any doubt as to their identity, just bite into one – wincingly tart. Not for the bucket. As the day goes on and you start to shed layers of clothing (I told you it was going to get hot) you can become bunch-blind, which is to say through plodding weariness or plain inattention you miss perfectly valid, perfectly ripe bunches. This is why, at the end of any row, you walk back to the beginning on the lookout for any stragglers, secateurs at the ready. Two or three words about secateurs – be afraid, be very afraid. Due to a spring mechanism they are constantly open, which makes for efficient cutting (one cutting motion then the blades are back at the ready, as opposed to opening the blades then cutting). They are also extremely sharp. On the first day, when I was in how-difficult-can-thisbe mode, I carelessly caressed a blade with an unprotected finger and got the mother of all paper cuts. Later that afternoon I threw away my blood-soaked handkerchief and bought a pair of gardening gloves, a wiser man. The secateurs are collected at the end of the day and accounted for, much as surgical instruments after an operation. The harvest is well and truly in now, and the alchemy that turns grape juice into wine is happening as you read. The harvest was an experience I’m glad I participated in. It certainly contributed a practical arrow to my quiverful of wine theory. Will I be out for the 2021 vintage? Well, we’ll see, but hopefully global tourism will have turned a corner and there’ll again be eager customers for French Wine Tours. I hope you’ll be amongst them! JS John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or Photos from PIXABAY.COM

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020| 35

Arts and Craft Cross-Stitch Christmas Designs


by Lynne Wigmore

aving worked in primary schools for many years, the ‘C word’ (Christmas), was never used before December 1st. I have included some designs this month, however, to give you time to create your own cards or decorations.

The bauble shape can be used as a template, allowing you to use whatever colour combinations you choose, and the space in the middle is ideal for adding names or initials to personalize your sewing. Several different coloured baubles strung together will make pretty Christmas bunting. Metallic thread can also be used as it adds that glittery, Christmassy, feel to your work. It can be a little tricky to work with but is worth the perseverance, so here are a few tips for using it. •

Use a shorter length thread than usual, around 30cm sewing length and try using a needle one size larger than normal.

• To prevent fraying use half the number of strands and cut double the length. Fold the thread in half and pass the loop through the eye of the needle. Bring the two ends through the loop, making a knot around the eye. This ensures there are no ends passing through the fabric to fray. •

Untwist the yarn by letting your needle hang freely.

• It is better to make the metallic stitches at the end of your project as the thread is fragile and likely to snag. It is also slightly thicker so will take up more space in the holes. Make sure you do not go through the thread of an earlier stitch. To counter this try using one thread at a time. If you feel you need more depth to the stitch, stitch twice over each place.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 36

Use the centre portion of the bauble to add your own customisation such as the initials of the person to whom you are sending the finished piece

Happy sewing .... Lynne This key should be used for all this month’s patterns KEY

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020| 37

Technology Passwords #1 (Reprised)


by Tony Wigmore

ovember 2020 : Back in April 2020 this article was published in the, COVID impacted, online only version of The DSM. Given the massive increase in online activity during the last eight months I thought it would be worthwhile revisiting the subject in a ‘print’ issue. I have updated the article slightly and hope you find it of use. This month, a look at passwords. Some warnings and some tips that will hopefully keep you safer online. If a hacker manages to expose your online credentials, such as a login password, you may find yourself losing money, reputation and even your entire identity through various frauds and it can happen REALLY quickly. A 2018 survey found that, on average, an individual will have around 90 online accounts. Each online account you have (e.g. banking, online shopping, travel companies, social media, etc.) will require a password. Surveys also tell us that many people still use the simplest of passwords (e.g. PASSWORD or 123456) and while this may seem risky, the single largest risk can be using the same password on multiple accounts. EMAIL PASSWORD If you use the same password on, say, your online shopping account and your email, any hacker gaining access to your online shopping details can immediately access your email. If they gain access to your email account, this can open every online account you have to them. Just think about it. If you click on a “forgotten my password” link on a web site, the company will generally send you a special password or special link. This info is usually sent to your registered email account. TIP #1 : Always have a password for your email that you use ONLY for your email. Never use your email password on any other account, make it as complex as you can bear and change it, even a little, regularly. MULTIPLE ACCOUNTS Because many people use the same login details for multiple online accounts, the next thing the hackers are likely to do is to use newly exposed details to attempt access to other common online communities (e.g. I-Tunes, Facebook, Amazon, Ebay, etc). This can open a plethora of information to them including your full name, date of birth, home address and in some cases financial information too. TIP #2 : Use different passwords for each account but be sensible. This sounds an awful idea but there are ways to achieve this without too much pain. If your password on multiple accounts is, let’s say, “PASSWORD” (please say it isn’t so) then adjust it slightly for each account by, for example, taking the 2nd and 3rd letters of the web site name and adding it to your normal password. Your Amazon account password would then change from PASSWORD” to “PASSWORDMA”. This will make virtually every password you have different without any real need for you to remember any of them.

38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

PASSWORD STRENGTH The so-called “strength” of a password relates to the likelihood of an individual or a machine being able to guess or, alternatively, uncover using a brute-force attack. It’s an estimate of how many trials an attacker who does not have direct access to the password would need to guess it correctly. There are several ways of improving the “strength” of your passwords and none of them are onerous. TIP #3 : Not just words You can add strength to your existing passwords by adding a mixture of the available characters. Add a number or two, use a mix of upper and lower case and especially non-alphanumeric characters (e.g. “#?>@”). Many companies now insist on this mix of character types in passwords so it is a good practice to get into. Tip #4 : Phrases can help Instead of words (“PASSWORD”) that are easy to remember and potentially easy to guess, why not try using a phrase that is easy to remember but harder to guess. For example, I might take the phrase “I live at number 22 Rue Amsterdam” then convert this phrase into a password by taking the initial letters and numbers forming “Ilan22RA”. Meaningless to a casual observer. Add on the web site specific characters from tip #2 above and we have a password unique to each website that surely nobody could guess. A CHANGE IS AS GOOD AS A REST The longer you leave even a complex password in place and unchanged, the more likely it is to become exposed and of use to criminals. If you do not feel like changing every password on a regular basis, make sure the key ones (banking etc.) are not left alone for too long.

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 43



asically, the two are linked. So, in theory, everything is automatic.

1) If you do not have your carte vitale yet: The medical professionals give you a brown form to fill in and send to CPAM (see photo). So, you enter your social security number at the top of the page (usually a temporary one starting with 7 or 8) and sign at the bottom and send it to CPAM. As CPAM and Allianz are linked together by what we call “télétransmission”, the reimbursement comes directly into your bank account within 10 days. Therefore, we need your social security number when we do the top up contract. Sometimes, the medical professional does not have the machine for the carte vitale or your carte vitale is playing up, so you could have to use the brown form even if you have a carte vitale. 2) When you have your carte vitale: When you visit your GP or other medical professionals, you first give them your carte vitale and then you pay. The reimbursement is then automatically done by CPAM and Allianz is linked with CPAM by the ‘télétransmission’ so the top up from Allianz follows within 10 days of CPAM reimbursement. 3) If you are under RSI: In this case it depends on who you are with in regard to the health system. If it is RAM, it is just like with CPAM above. If it is anybody else (Harmonie, Radiance, UMRPI, etc), you need to send us your reimbursement statement to get reimbursed for the top up. This is because RAM is the only one that works with top up companies. The others do their own top up insurance, so they are doing everything to make it hard for other top up companies!! You can change to RAM by simply writing a letter to RSI asking for the change. Or ask us and we’ll do it for you.

4) Attestation de droit: This is a letter that shows you are entitled to a carte vitale. Sometimes, the ‘télétransmission’ bugs and we need this letter to un-bug it. You can download it from your CPAM or RAM personal account or simply phone them and they will send it to you by post. See photo. 5) Tiers payant card: That is your top up card. This card does not show your level of cover. It simply proves that you have a top up and gives information to the medical profession in case of a ‘prise en charge’- this is when the top up pays instead of you. You can download it from your Allianz customer account.

6) Hospitalisation: When you are hospitalised, the hospital will contact Allianz, so Allianz set up ‘une prise en charge’ meaning Allianz and CPAM will pay instead of you (just as well as the surgery could cost an arm and a leg!!). The only thing you would have to pay for when you come out is the food, the individual room and telephone or TV bill. Simply pass it on to us for reimbursement or send it directly to Allianz santé ( 7) Pharmacie: Some of the medical profession such as ‘pharmacie’ will ask for your top up card and you therefore have nothing to pay as Allianz pays directly the ‘pharmacie’. It is called ‘tiers payant’. So, when you go to the pharmacie, you give them your prescription letter, your carte vitale and top up card and all is paid for. 8) Surcharge: 100% top up cover is 100% of the price set by the French Health System, but the medical professionals are selfemployed and are allowed to apply a surcharge. It is mostly done by consultant, surgeon, private hospitals, dentists, etc. Example: the French Health System set price for a hip replacement is 1000€ (not the actual figure, just an example), then you only get reimbursed 800€ (80%) and because the surgeon likes to go golfing week ends (joke!!) and 1000 euro is not enough for him, he can charge 3000€ , therefore, you would be 2200€ (instead of just 200 euro) out of pocket!! Therefore, a cover with your top up at 300% would cover that surcharge. 9) Excess: There is an excess of 1€ per GP visit, 2€ for ambulance transport (not emergency) and 50p per medicine boxes. This excess is taken back from your CPAM or RSI reimbursement so this why sometimes you get less reimbursement than you should have got. 10) Glasses: Most of my British customers go back to the UK for them or buy them online. But you can choose to have them covered under your top up. Only one pair every 2 years. It’s a calculus to make between what you would get back and how

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

much it increases your premium. Note that some glasses are now fully reimbursed under the new 100% santé reform and the glasses shop is obliged to give you one quote for 100% santé. 11) Dental cover: You simply give them your carte vitale and the reimbursement follows (for normal basic treatment). However, for crowns or major works, you first get a quote so you can first ask Allianz how much you can get back as Dentist always surcharge. Note that some types of crowns are now fully reimbursed under the 100% santé reform. 12) This is the website of CPAM on which you can create your personal account (you only need your carte vitale to do it). Yes, it is in French, but it is full of useful information. You can use the simulator to find out if you are entitled to CMU and ACS (people on low income can get free top up or help to pay for their top up). You can download your reimbursement and you can ask for your attestation de droits (proof of cover). This document is often asked for by insurers to give you access to top up health insurance. If you don’t speak any French at all, there is English speaking phone line created by the French health system to answer all your questions: 0811 36 36 46. RAM and other RSI health providers have a similar web site to download your attestation de droit and reimbursements. 13) From the Allianz web site, you can create your personal account. You simply need your surname, first name, date of birth, email and contract number. Then you can view all your reimbursement, details of contracts, follow claims, etc. 14) Extras: With Allianz top up, depending on your cover, you can get extras like free cleaning if you are in hospital for more than 3 days or 2 hours of cleaning 48 hours after a chemotherapy session or even look after your pets, etc. Also, you can get cover for individual rooms up to 100 or 150€ (normal price is about 75€ so it’s plenty enough). In France, you either share the room with someone else or you can choose to be on your own like an hotel room (with your own bathroom). Note that the cover does not guarantee you will be able to get the room, it simply covers the cost if you can get one. Usually, you can always get one in a private hospital (Clinique). CONCLUSION: Feel free to contact me if you wish information on any of the above or to get a free quote for top up health insurance. The first 2 Months are free for pensioners with Allianz at the moment. 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’ Don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subjects such as Funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc…

No Orias: 07004255

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

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

Email: Visit our website:

Face to Facebook

Smart Ways to Build Your Business Online by Ingmar

Ask ten different people about Facebook and you’ll get twelve different opinions about how good it is, or how bad it is. But, if you look at Facebook as a platform to promote your business, as opposed to an insight into your personal life and details, it becomes a different prospect. For many, this is a quiet period for business so there is no better time to reassess your public face and consider venturing deeper into social media, the most used and the most accessible of which is Facebook. Over the next few issues I am going to look at the different ways of using Facebook as a free, dependable, versatile and highly adaptable way of increasing your brand awareness, growing your business and, ultimately, putting more cash into your pocket. Looking at many of the businesses in this area, it is clear that, for many, there is a ‘build it and they will come’ approach to their marketing. This has resulted in many perfectly good ideas and concepts going unnoticed and, in many cases, going out of business. For many, this is simply down to not knowing the basics of selfmarketing and a fear of dipping their toes into what is perceived as a high-cost and high-maintenance commitment. With Facebook you can develop an organic customer growth by following some simple steps on the technical side, though it is all for nothing if you don’t have a game-plan for generating, maintaining and growing them. Facebook stats: • • • • • •

2.41 billion active users globally Third most visited website (After Google and YouTube) 79% of 30-49 year olds and 68% of 50-64 year olds use it 90 million small businesses depend on Facebook Facebook is the most popular social media platform in France France has the third largest number of users in Europe.

Before you do anything on your computer, go old-school and write down the name of your business and a concise, clear and informative description of it. Think as a customer and write as if they were reading it for the first time. Make sure you have your key words in there to help with searches; if you are a restaurant and specialize in authentic Asian food, make sure you say so. It sounds obvious to say it, but it always surprises me how many businesses fail to mention their USPs, their unique selling points. Once you have done this, think about images that you want to use and make sure they reflect your standards. If you don’t have any, or you’re not happy with them, try and work on getting them to the correct standard. If you start off with the basics in place, you will find that people engage more with your page and the more engagement there is, the more money you will generate. Start to think about your Facebook page, but don’t jump in too quickly, as we will look at the following issues over the next few issues and aim to have your pages looking good and working hard ready for you when you press the ‘publish’ button. - Post smart, not fast. - Project, don’t promote. - Plan your posts and post to your plan. - Think like a customer. - Being engaged is better than being liked. - Focus on your audience, not your friends. - Use the tools on offer. - Spend money to make money. - Lean into other social media platforms. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 45

Can a UK-based adviser continue to support you from 2021?


ven without a Brexit deal, citizens’ rights for UK nationals legally settled in France by 31 December 2020 are protected under the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement. With no such guarantees for financial services, however, this could affect whether you can receive UK-based advice and services as an EU resident after the transition period.

by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks

The suitability of UK planning As well as the legal and practical implications, consider whether an adviser based in a different country is best placed to help you take advantage of opportunities here. Will they fully understand the intricacies of French taxation and how it interacts with UK rules? Will they have in-depth knowledge of the local residence, domicile, tax, succession law and reporting rules? Who will foot the bill or face the consequences if they get things wrong?

The end of passporting

While UK-based advisers may be experts on the UK system for residents there, it is unlikely they have the same expertise for France.

Currently, UK-based financial businesses can ‘passport’ into the EU because the UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is bound by the same rules as other financial regulators in the bloc. But once the UK leaves the EU, the regulation of financial activity and consumer protections may stop lining up on both sides. Unless a mutual deal is agreed in time, the EU will therefore end UK passporting arrangements from 1 January 2021.

Remember: financial planning tailored for a UK resident is unlikely to remain suitable once you become a French resident. Furthermore, UK savings and investments could potentially attract higher taxation once they cease to be EU/EEA assets from 2021. Meanwhile, French residents can access locally-compliant alternatives that offer other advantages besides tax-efficiency – such as multi-currency and estate planning flexibility – so explore your options.

Some UK financial firms have put provisions in place to continue working in France post-Brexit, but others have not. We have already seen letters from major UK banks advising EU-based clients they will be withdrawing services, recommending they make arrangements with an alternative provider.

As full Brexit draws nearer, it has never been more important to ensure your financial affairs are both compliant and suitable for your life in France. Secure financial peace of mind by talking to an experienced, locally-based adviser before the Brexit deadline.

Note also that, if you hold savings and investments with an EU-based institution, they may stop accepting instructions from UK advisers. The financial regulator in France has already confirmed it will be illegal for French banks and insurance firms to do business with a provider who is not authorised in the country.

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

Still using a UK-based financial adviser? It is likely that UK-based advisers will no longer be able to use the EU ‘passporting’ system to provide regulated financial services to EU residents after the Brexit transition period. Ask your adviser if they can continue to advise you and carry out instructions, or if they may be restricted. We have already seen major UK banks write to clients in France withdrawing services.

Talk to the people who know

05 49 75 07 24

UK-based advisers are also unlikely to have the deep understanding of the French regime necessary to provide the most tax-efficient financial planning solutions. Our local advisers are regulated, authorised and have the experience and knowledge to advise on all aspects of financial planning in post-Brexit France.


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

46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

Ask Amanda

by Amanda Johnson

I have seen a lot of talk about UK banks not being able to service customers who live in France. What can I do to keep a UK bank account? There has been a lot of media coverage about some UK banks not being able to continue to service their European resident customers, which is worrying to those who still need a UK bank account. This situation has arisen because, as we stand (at time of writing this article), the passporting of financial services has not yet been agreed upon within the Brexit withdrawal agreement. This does not apply to all banks because some already have licenses to offer services. My advice would be to contact your bank and ask them to confirm in writing whether they are able to continue to offering banking to you. If the answer is no, then please do not panic. Spectrum can put you in contact with an international bank who can offer UK banking services to French residents. Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for our reviews, reports, or recommendations.


Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail: The Spectrum IFA Group is fully regulated to offer financial advice in France and we do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

NB/ correction to last month’s article Assurance Vie’s taken out post 70 after the 30,500€ are taxed at normal French IHT rates.

Easy Crossword: Across: 1. pamper 4. bagdad 8. strap 9. notaire 10. relic 11. aladdin 12. egomaniac 15. georgia 16. dijon 17. citadel 18. angst 19. elated 20. baltic Down: 2. antler 3. playing truant 5. grand national 6. afraid 7. unpalatable 13. aerial 14. bonsai

Toughie Crossword: This month’s theme : The Gods Across: 1. parsnip 5. hades 8. pluck 9. nemesis 10. rhea 11. adultery 14. dip 16. union 17. dim 19. flattery 20. eros 23. tremble 25. rebel 26. susie 27. ensuite Down: 1. papered 2. rouse 3. nike 4. pan 5. homeland 6. distend 7. sassy 12. drier 13. suitable 15. planets 18. moselle 19. fates 21. rabbi 22. iris 24. ere

Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46

Wi t h C a r e , Yo u P r o s p e r

Brain Gym: 1. A coin 2. A coat of paint 3. Darkness 4. You have two apples 5. Day and Night 6a. Bob up and down 6b. Head in the sand

TSG Insurance Ser vices S.A.R.L. • Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 Paris • R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) « Société de Cour tage d’assurances » « Intermédiaire en opération de Banque et Ser vices de Paiement » Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 – « Conseiller en investissements financiers », référencé sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 47


by Joanna Leggett

enry Ford said ‘if you chop your own wood it will warm you H twice...’ I suspect he was far busier making motor cars than chopping firewood though. In early autumn local farmers trundle along country lanes seated high upon ancient tractors towing enormous ‘remorques’ delivering enormous piles of firewood! Then follows the fun, stacking several cubic metres of logs dumped in a heap under cover ready well before winter bites. I usually ask my neighbour’s teenagers to help and all is accomplished swiftly.. bribery rules! Firewood, usually oak or chestnut, needs to be aged a couple of years to ensure it’s well dried and will burn well. It must be said, if you don’t have access to your own woods and own a trusty chainsaw, it pays to be on excellent terms with your local woodsman. Much of the French countryside is well forested and it’s possible to have a home with its own supply of firewood and we’re lucky in Deux-Sèvres to be able to purchase properties with their own woods. Such properties are larger usually with the bonus of gîtes and additional income potential. At Christmas each year Dad used to source apple logs to burn in the dining room as they smelt so sweet. You might be able to source your own at our first property this month just outside Vernoux en Gâtine (115336) – in apple growing heartland! Set within 5 acres, with its own wood, is this very attractive stone property once part of the local château’s estate. The main house currently offers two bedrooms

with potential to add more; there are also two romantically named three bedroom gîtes, ‘Margeurite’ and ‘Violette’, more barns, a heated swimming pool and outbuildings – a wonderful place to cosy down at €242,960. If romance is what you’re looking for how about this charming 16th century château near Chef Boutonne with its stunning tower complete with pointed roof (115890) Packed with history, the logis offers spacious rooms and five bedrooms. Beamed ceilings, feature fireplaces and elegant plasterwork abound. Set within 12 acres (including a separate parcel of woodland) is the guest house, probably once a brulerie where wine was made, now it’s a wonderful barn conversion with three more bedrooms and private access. There’s river frontage along the paddocks and wonderful views - €583,000. St Maixent l’Ecole is great for visitors with TGV links to Paris and beyond. This charming former water mill (112171), just 8kms away, offers masses of accommodation! The main house has three bedrooms and two large sitting rooms, an attached small house offers two more, and a separate gîte brings bedroom total to seven! There’s a heated swimming pool, gym, stables, lake, fields and woodland set in 17 acres! Recently reduced to €499,260! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at


Le Chillou

€95,700 HAI

Ref. 116854 - Modern 3 bedroom house on two levels, with breathtaking views across the valley. DPE Ongoing - agency fees included: 10% TTC to be paid by the buyer


€278,735 HAI

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


€149,950 HAI


€294,250 HAI


€240,750 HAI

Ref. 100923 - Large 6 bedroom detached house with a 2 bedroom gîte and in-ground pool. DPE D - agency fees included: 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer


€99,000 HAI

Ref. 115998 - Magnificent 4/5 bedroom farmhouse

Ref. 111123 - Detached 4 bedroom house with

Ref. 114408 - Two charming renovated properties

Ref. 100987 - Eco-friendly 10 year old wooden

with swimming pool, new roof and lots of character.

garage, outbuildings, garden and countryside views.

with swimming pool and countryside views.

property. Mature gardens and mains drainage.

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

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

DPE Ongoing - agency fees included: 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer

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

+33 (0)5 53 56 88 48 - -


I love meeting clients and understanding their needs


We’re recruiting property sales agents - if you want the freedom to grow a successful business supported by an award-winning team, contact our recruitment department 00 800 2534 4388 -

Tamasin Wagstaffe, sales agent Deux-Sèvres

48 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

VAS1419 Part renovated house 89 800€ On the edge of l’Absie a 3 Bed 2 Bathroom house. Great potential Net price 85 000€ Agents fees 4 800€


with us

VSA1418 Beautifully renovated farmhouse Located near the Cebron lake. 3 Bedrooms, Barn Net price 220 000€. Agents fees 5.5%

Beau x Villa ges V 08 0 ENDU 5 69 IMM





23 2






Beaux Villages IMMOBILIER

We’re better together! Contact:

08 05 69 23 23

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020 | 49

50 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, November 2020

Our Distributors Each month we do our best to get this magazine into as many outlets as is practically possible, hopefully, making it easy for you to get your hands on a copy. For two years, prior to running the magazine, we used to travel into Parthenay each month to get our own copy from Mr Bricolage only to find out, when we started delivering the magazine ourselves, that our village bar stocked it. In these unusual and difficult times, we thought it might of use to people to find out from where copies can be collected. This list only includes the shops, bars, cafes and restaurants from where you can collect your magazine. Alongside these locations are a number of brave individuals (to whom we are enormously grateful) who help us by distributing copies to clubs, groups and smaller villages (etc).

===== 16 =====

Ruffec BH Assurances (Allianz)

===== 17 ===== Aulnay Tourist Office

===== 79 =====

Airvault Intermarché Office de Tourisme Allonne Le Regal’on Argenton les Vallees Bar “Calimero” Le Lac Bressuire Carrefour Golf Club du Bocage Tourist Office Brioux-sur-boutonne Auberge du Cheval Blanc Celles sur Belle Intermarché Cerizay Carrefour Contact Champdeniers Mutuelles de Poitiers Super U Château Jarno Perpeniere Chaunay Cafe des sports Chef Boutonne Cafe des sports Intermarché Restuarant des Canards Coulon Tourist Office Coulonges sur L’Autize Autize Immo Super U Tourist Office Echiré Super U Fenioux Cafe des Belle Fleurs Genneton Bar de la Mairie Gourgé Petite marmite Vival Shop La Chapelle aux Lys Café Bonbon La Mothe St Heray Carrefour Tourist Office

L’Absie Café Pause Café des Sports Le Nouveau Bar de la Poste Carrefour O Bistrot Bar Brasserie Le Brueill / Caunay Mad Hatters Kitchen Les Forges Deano’s Bar Grill Golf Club Restaurant Lezay Ark 79 Shop Intermarché Magné Super U Mauléon Super U Melle Intermarché Super U Ménigoute Le P’tit Boucard Moncoutant Super U Parthenay GAN Insurance, Place du Donjon Hyper U Pays de Gatine RBL Books Tabac in Leclerc Bar Le Drapeau, Blvd de la Meilleraye Bar Le Thèâtre, Blvd de la Meilleraye Reffannes Chateau de la Pissepole Saint Germain de Longue Chaume Funny Farm Cat Rescue Sauge Chateau de Sauge Sauzé Vaussais Berland & Bennett Hope Charity Shop Mutelles de Poitiers Super U The Lemon Tree Secondigny Super U St Maixent l’Ecole Intermarché Tourist Information Office St Varent Intermarché St. Aubin Le Cloud Bar le Palais St. Loup Hotel (chapeau rouge) Tabac

Tourist Office Thénezay Carrefour Contact Supermarket Tabac (Bar Progress) Thouars Bar de la Paix Super U Tourist Office Vasles Bar Zinc Vernoux-en-Gâtine La Petite Noisette

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Benet Intermarché Fontenay le Compte Hyper U La Chapelle aux Lys Café Bonbon La Châtaigneraie Intermarché Super U Mouilleron en Pareds Bar Le Clemenceau Sainte-Hermine Les Pub Des Halles St Hilaire de Voust Lion D’Or Restaurant St Maurice des Noues Bar – Karen Vouvant Cafe cour du Miracle

===== 86 =====

Blanzay Auberge de Blanzay Civray Language office Gençay Christies Tea Room Moncontour Bar Tourist Information Office Poitiers Poitiers Airport

===== MOBILE ===== Mister T’s Friterie Darren Hill (Fryer Tuck) Markey’s Pies

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