The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - December 2020 Issue

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English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas

Happy Christmas One And All Cycling through France What to do with old tech Lockdown stories Vendée interview Image by David Brennan

Issue 112, December 2020

Welcome to Issue 112 of

This Month’s Advertisers

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.


nother lockdown. Hopefully it will have the desired effect and we might be able to have something like a normal Christmas, though we are sadly NOT expecting to be able to visit with our UK family. Shortly after that, 2020 will thankfully be over. Who knows what 2021 will bring but we CAN hope things start to return to more normality. As for The DSM, well this has been a difficult month for us. We had to leave making the decision to print (or not) as late as we possibly could leaving us little time to get everything ELSE done and impacting everybody from proof readers (thank you Vanda and Mick) to printers (thank you Ainhoa). We have decided to print but to deliver only to supermarkets and a handful of cafes/restaurant that have takeaway options. Please bear with us, we are doing our very best. Looking ahead, 2021 is the The DSMs tenth birthday. We’ll be running some special sections dedicated to looking back at the first year or two. Be interesting to see what has changed. Hope all of you and your loved ones have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. See you in February Stay safe

Tony & Lynne

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

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

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

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

4 6 9 12 14 19 20 22 27 28 32 35 36 38 40 41 46 50

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) ARB French Property Ark 79 Charity Shop Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Autentico (Paint specialists) BEAUX VILLAGES IMMOBILIER BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management BM Construction Camping la Raudiere & Bar Oasis, holidays,restaurant, entertainment. 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) EFS France – Home Security Company Escoval 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 Joanne Goodall - Cleaning, House-sitting, Odd Jobs John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon - the carpetman KJ Painting and decorating Leggett Immobilier Le Regal’on (Bar and Restaurant) LPV Technology (IT services) 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 Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Pinnacle Garden Care Poitiers Biard Airport Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) RJC Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Ross Hendry 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)

51 41 2 43 49 42 51 19 49 17 51 46 48 44 13 7 44 7 41 42 41 27 41 43 45 33 5 33 41 45 42 42 44 45 51 33 17 44 50 36 9 43 45 43 42 33 9 49 43 27 17 2 51 2 43 17 9 17 41 43 42 45 41 7 33 33 7 19 45 7 17 7


© 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 : Pixabay sauf mention contraire. Impression: Graficas Piquer SL, 29 Al Mediterraneo, Pol. Ind. San Rafael, 04230, Huércal de Almeria, Espagne. Dépôt légal: decembre 2020 - Tirage: 2500 exemplaires. Siret: 830 076 345 00016 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 3

print. as we go to g day-by-day n gi get it but an n ch ca e te as we d or altered Things ar ra cu ac as on here is een cancelle The informatik events have not be house. ec th g PLEASE ch before leavin

What’s On ...

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

The DSM has always been an excellent place to find what is on in our area. For obvious reasons, these pages are “lacking” this month. The huge uncertainty around the end of the lockdown and what will, and will not, be allowed over the Christmas period means we have little to report. Our apologies. Fingers crossed for 2021

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2020 ... Fri 25 December

Christmas Day (Noël)

2021... Fri 1 January New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an) Sun 4 April Easter Sunday (Pâques) Mon 5 April Easter Monday (Pâques) Sat 1 May Labour Day (Fête du premier mai) Sat 8 May VE 1945 (Fête du huitième mai) Thu 13 May Ascension Day (Ascension) Sun 23 May Whit Sunday (Pentecôte) Mon 24 May Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Wed 14 July Bastille Day (Fête nationale) Sun 15 August Assumption Day (Assomption) Mon 1 November All Saints’ Day (Toussaint) Thu 11 November Armistice Day (Armistice) source

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, December 2020


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


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

FRYER TUCKS Saint Jouin de Marnes - Outside the Boulangerie - 17:30 to 20:30 - every Tuesday evening

Tel: 06 23 25 48 36

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

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

DECEMBER 2020 05 VILLAGE FESTIVAL & VIDE GRENIER Les Chateliers (79340) Telethon and Pot au feu organized by the association La Villageoise from 8pm. Tombola. 01-06 NIORT MARKET Niort (79000). Traditional food market. Masks mandatory. 11 MARCHÉ DE PRODUCTEURS Moncoutant-Sur-Sevres (79320) Local farmers and artisans market. Covered market, on-site drink and entertainment. 10-13 GOSPEL CONCERT Moncoutant-Sur-Sevres (79320) 12-13 CHRISTMAS MARKET Thouars (79100) Discover regional products, Christmas items, gift ideas presented in some thirty chalets in St Médard Square. Many activities, including the arrival of Santa Claus, will delight young and old. Music all day and, for the youngsters, superheroes to meet. Ice rink. 24 CHRISTMAS EVE 25 CHRISTMAS DAY - Happy Christmas All 31 NEW YEAR’S EVE - Happy New Year !!!

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:

wn l lockdo nationa ” on the on of a ES ti E c u H d E o tr @ en the in mas Shopping and giv st e “Chri : ements c th n h u c o n n u r website cial an ble to la uled date. nt on ou g the offi re not a this eve ts f o sched n o Followin mber 1st, we a ti isa ven ece e organ om/en/news/e until D ed of th .c u inform lephanthaven o y p e e k www.e We will https://

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 5

Getting Out and About The Tradition of the Nativity Scene in France


he ‘crèche de Noël’ nativity scene is a representation of the birth of Jesus as told in the Gospels. According to Saint Luke, Jesus was born in a stable ‘une étable’ and placed in a manger ‘mangeoire’ (or cripia in latin). The French word ‘la crèche’ comes from the latin word. Today the word ‘la crèche’ means the stable and all the figurines ‘les personnages’ around it. The nativity scene is a Catholic tradition which is not always followed by Protestant families. From the 3rd century, Christians worshipped a nativity scene in a grotto ‘une grotte’ in Bethlehem which is believed to be the birth place of Jesus.

in glass from Nevers, in bone china ‘porcelaine’, in wax ‘cire’, in sculpted wood ‘bois sculpté’ or even in soft bread ‘mie de pain’. From the 19th century the nativity scene from Provence ‘la Crèche Provencale’ with its famous figurines ‘santons’ became very popular. The figurines represent not only the characters of the nativity but also all the professions and jobs ‘les métiers‘ of the time in local costume. In France the tradition is to set up the nativity scene on the first Sunday of Advent ‘le premier dimanche de l’Avent’ or for Saint Nicolas (the 6th December). In Catholic traditions the nativity scene is left out until the 2nd February (Candlemass ‘la Chandeleur’), the date when Jesus was presented in the temple. Tradition also means the figure of Jesus is placed in the nativity scene during the night of the 24th December after midnight has struck ‘après les douze coups de minuit’.


In the Middle Ages ‘au Moyen Age’ plays ‘pièces de théâtre’ and ‘tableaux vivants’ (moving pictures the ancestors of todays ‘crèches vivantes’ (nativity plays)) were given in churches. The tradition, as we know it today, was developed by Saint François of Assisi at the beginning of the 13th century. In 1223, François of Assisi organised a nativity play in his church in Grecchio, Italy, before midnight mass ‘la messe de Noël’. The custom quickly spread through Italy and then into the rest of Europe. Little by little, nativity plays were replaced by nativity scenes ‘des crèches de figurines’. The first ones appeared at the beginning of the 16th century.

le bœuf

the ox


the donkey

les bergers

the shepherds

les moutons

the sheep


the angel

les rois mages

the three kings / wise men

le mangeoire

the manger

les tamourinaires

the drummers

le vannier

the basket maker

la lavendière

the washer woman

le curé

the priest

les pècheurs

the fishermen

le ravi

the village idiot

le vieux et la vbielle

the old man and the old woman

le porteur d’eau

the water carrier

Photographs :

In France, the fact that it was forbidden to represent religious scenes in public during the Revolution led to nativity scenes in house ‘les crèches dans les maisons’ becoming more popular. The little figurines ‘les petites figurines’ were at that time made

by Sue Burgess

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

Château de Saugé 2 Saugé 79400 Saivres

Chambre d'hôtes, Gites, Vintage Tea Room, Event Space, Crafters Barn

Christmas Sunday Lunch – Sunday 13th 20th & 27th December Traditional Christmas Fayre Evenings -Thursday 10th & 17th Dec Kelly’s Champagne Pampering Package - Friday 11th & 18th Dec Tinsel from Top to Toe Event - Saturday 12th & 19th Dec Check out our Saugé Crafters Barn online – lots of great gifts Email: Tel: 06 29 15 36 55

Christmas chez Christie’s GREAT GIFTS for FAMILY & FRIENDS Tapestry, Masks, Hand Sanitisers, Scarves, Mugs, Jewellery, Puzzles, Chocolates, Dinner Games, Candles, Stocking Fillers BEAUTIFUL CHRISTMAS CARDS Relations, Boxed Cards, Charity Packs, Gift Wallets, plus Birthday & Occasions Cards


HOME-BAKING ~ TAKE AWAY ONLY ! Christmas Cake Slices, Mince Pies, Scones, Chocolate Brownies, Cupcakes …

TUES-SAT: 10am - 12 noon : 3pm - 7pm plus OPEN SUNDAY 6th 13th & 20th DEC

10am - 12 noon!--and (GIFTS & CARDS ONLY )


3rd 10th & 17th DEC! more details on our Website & Facebook : GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

Siret: 47876969800018


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 7

International Day of .....

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor

December 2020

... Tea (15th December)

by Beryl Brennan


iving in France, you’d be forgiven for thinking that, after water, coffee is the most popular drink in the world or maybe even wine? Wrong, tea is the most popular drink in the world after water. That’s official according to the World Social Forum and United Nations. And it demands a massive production scale which unfortunately also brings negatives in the countries producing it. The first World Social Forum (WSF) was held in January 2001 in Brazil with the aim of co-ordinating global campaigns. At its meeting in 2004 (India), the first International Tea Day was celebrated. So which are the main tea-producing countries? India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Kenya are well known. Lesser known are Uganda, Malawi and Tanzania in Africa, Vietnam, Nepal, Indonesia, Japan, Korea and Malaysia in the Far East. Brazil, where the first WSF was held, produces teas which are largely used for blending because the tea plantations are at a low altitude, the climate is hot and humid and so the teas have less flavour than those grown at high altitude. As with so many other aspects of modern life, it won’t surprise you to learn that, together with India, China is the other largest producer and consumer of tea, and in 2007 produced over 30% of the world tea production.

“It’s been a funny old year” / “Une année très bizarre” - if you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times. But it’s true, no-one could have predicted at the beginning of the year just how our lives would be turned upside down by this invisible enemy. Luckily for those of us living in the west of France, we’ve been spared the worst of the virus. Of course we’ve had to deal with confinement, curfews and mask-wearing, but it’s amazing how quickly you get used to these new restrictions. One of the changes that even I, as a Brit, have found difficult though, is the national veto on hand-shaking and ‘les bises’; to greet guests at the gîte with a distant “Bonjour” and a vague wave seems so impersonal… But let’s look on the positive side - at least we’ve had guests to welcome this year. In March, when the first confinement was announced on the other side of the Channel, all my UK-based bookings were cancelled; for a couple of months I dreaded the next email as, one after another, our guests were having to change their plans. But fortunately the French (and Belgians and Germans as it turned out) were desperate to find last-minute accommodation near the coast for their summer break. And what other positives have come out of this strange year? Well, I reckon a lot of animals have felt the benefit - our pets have enjoyed a lot more attention, forest wildlife has escaped being hunted by la chase, and many wild animals and birds have nested in peace during the springtime.

So how did the British discover tea and become such a nation of tea drinkers? It is believed to have been used over many centuries by the Chinese for medicinal and religious purposes and brought to India by the silk caravans travelling from China to Europe. The British arrived in India in around 1608 in search of spices, which were used to preserve meat in Europe. A member of the East India Company, Robert Bruce, travelled into Assam and came across the tea plantations there and sent samples to his herbalist brother C A Bruce to be examined.

Then, just as we were getting used to this new, restricted lifestyle, we were hit by a second confinement! But this time we were so much better prepared. We knew how to Zoom, we could calculate one, one and a half, or even two metres, distances at a glance, and some enterprising people had accumulated an array of multi-coloured masks so they could go out shopping to their local supermarket in style!

As a result of King Charles II and his wife Catherine de Braganza popularizing tea drinking in the 17th century, Great Britain become a world power in terms of tea, establishing tea plantations in India. By the late 18th century, Britain was deeply in debt and so imposed taxes on American colonists, one of which was on tea. The Americans felt this was grossly unfair and on 16 December 1773 dumped 342 chests of tea, imported by the British East India Tea Company, into the harbour and this became known as the Boston Tea Party.

Yes, life has changed and may never be quite the same again, but we’ve changed with it - we’ve learnt how to adapt to a different way of life. And the basics never change - we live in a wonderful part of France which perhaps we appreciate even more now…

The main aim of International Tea Day is to draw governmental attention to the impact of the global tea trade on workers and growers leading to requests for price support and fair trade. There is also an International Tea Day now on 21st May, created by the Indian Government in 2015 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2019. The reason given is that in most tea producing countries the season for tea production begins in May.

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PS As you can see, our 2 dogs are certainly enjoying all this extra attention!!

Karen runs a gîte business on the Vendée coast. You can contact her on:

Technology Do you really need to throw away your old tech and, if you do, how to do it safely?


hristmas is coming and I am sure many of you will receive new tech, maybe a new tablet, laptop or Mobile telephone, what do you do with the old one(s)? Before you decide to dispose of your old equipment, think again. Do you really need to throw it away? You could repurpose it! Getting rid of these devices is not good for the planet as they are full of toxins and pollutants. Ideally try to use them again, here are some suggestions. These small devices are incredibly versatile; mobile telephones are probably the most versatile and convenient, you do not need to keep an active SIM card in them (so no phone number or cost to use), they will still connect to your Wi-Fi and, depending on the type of mobile telephone, be usable for: • Sending and receiving emails • Using for Skype and Zoom • Facebook and Messenger and other social networking • If the screen is a good one, reading books etc, watching videos • Translating languages • Make it like a iPod/Walkman for listening to music or the radio • Taking and viewing pictures and videos • Playing Games • Surfing the web

by Ross Hendry

a tools section, within which you will find a Drive Wiper utility that writes to every sector of the disk. When this is performed multiple times it will effectively obliterate any data previously written to that device. More info and download CCleaner at docs/ccleaner/using-ccleaner/wiping-free-disk-space Prior to disposal, if possible, I prefer to remove the storage device (the hard disk drive, SIM card or SDCard that stores the data and operating system) and keep it as a back-up for a few years before I finally destroy it and take it to a recycling centre. Every commune has somewhere safe to dispose of these items currently ... at no charge to you. As ever, if in doubt, ask your computer technician to help you. It is not difficult to set-up and do, and should not be expensive. I hope Santa brings you all you wish for. .. .. Merry Christmas and a Happy, Safe and Prosperous New Year Ross Hendry Throughout the lockdown your PC technician is permitted to visit you if you have a problem as they are an authorized business, I have made several urgent calls since 30/10. However, I am quite happy to assist you via the internet (using Teamviewer or Google Remote Desktop) and or telephone free of charge for up to one hour. Please call first to make an appointment, this service is available Tuesday to Thursday 9am to 12 noon.

The above activities, and many others, may be performed by old, slower laptop PCs, tablets and phones to a greater or lesser degree. It is, after all, always handy to have a radio in a spare room, a quick method of researching stuff whilst in the Garage/workshop, or taking a photo of something before your dismantle it or go shopping for a spare. If/when you do have to dispose of your device, then ensure that you properly sanitise it. This involves getting rid of any data on the device that is yours, always assuming that you have copied the important and up to date stuff to your new device. You should also ensure that you have deleted any software for which you have limited licenses, such as anti-virus or VPNs that you have on multiple devices, so you may reuse the license on another device. Simply deleting data is not good enough, it can be recovered. There are free programs available that can perform special disk wiping that, once completed properly, will make it virtually impossible to recover your info. The one I recommend is the very excellent and free program CCleaner (current version is 5.73). This program has

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 9

CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD Denmark The main Christmas meal is eaten between 6.00pm and 8.00pm and is served on a beautifully decorated table. Most families have a ‘ris á la mande’ (a special kind of rice pudding made of milk, rice, vanilla, almonds and whipped cream) for dessert. All but one of the almonds are chopped into pieces. The person who finds the whole almond gets a present called a Mandelgave which is traditionally a marzipan pig. Danish children believe that their presents are brought by the ‘Julemanden’ who looks very similar to Santa Claus and also travels with a sleigh and reindeer. He lives in Greenland, likes rice pudding and is helped by ‘nisser’, which are like elves. Germany


s we enter the festive month, let’s look at a few of the different customs and traditions surrounding the Christmas season around the globe. Brazil The Brazilian Christmas shares many traditions with Portugal due to its colonial ties, Christmas plays called ‘Os Pastores’ (The Shepherds) are also popular. In the Brazilian versions of the play, there is traditionally also a shepherdess and a woman who tries to steal the baby Jesus! Santa Claus is called Papai Noel & Bom Velhinho and if he finds a sock near a window, he’ll exchange it for a present. By taking part in an ‘amigo secreto’ (Secret Santa) it is traditional to give small gifts all through December using a pretend name. On Christmas Day, people reveal their secret identities. It is common in Brazil to get a ‘13th salary’ at the end of the year, the idea being to boost the economy around Christmas. This has been going on for decades and most people don’t even question that other countries might not do it. Czech Republic During the evening of the 5th December (St. Nicholas’ Eve), children are very excited and watch for St. Nicholas (Svatý Mikuláš) to arrive. He is usually accompanied by at least one angel and one devil. He asks the children whether they have been good all year and asks them to sing a song or recite a poem in return for a basket of presents, often containing chocolate and fruit. If they are deemed to have been naughty, the devil might give them a lump of coal. Like The Netherlands, and some other European countries, St Nicholas’ Day is a very different holiday to Christmas. ‘Ježíšek’ ‘Little Jesus’ (the Czech version of ‘Christkindl’) brings presents during the Christmas Eve dinner and leaves them under the Christmas Tree. Czech children have their dinner in a different room from where the tree is located, and a bell is rung at the end of the meal to signify that Ježíšek has visited. The presents are normally opened immediately after dinner. There’s a superstition in Czechia that says if you throw a shoe over your shoulder on Christmas day and the toe points towards the door, you will be married soon!

10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

The Germanic tradition of a decorated tree at Christmas was introduced to England by Prince Albert. However, in Germany, the Christmas tree is usually put up and decorated on the morning of the 24th of December. If there are young children in the house, the tree will be secretly decorated by the mother as it is believed that the tree will cast a spell on any young eyes that rest upon it before Christmas Eve. The main gift bringer is known as ‘Das Christkind’ which directly translates into English as ‘The Christ Child’ but is not viewed as such and is often described as a young girl with ‘Christ like qualities’. Now universally popular, especially in our house, Stollen is a Christmas treat, a fruited yeast bread with a marzipan centre. Italy Introduced by St. Francis of Assisi in 1223 to help tell the Christmas story, Nativity scenes are traditionally put out on the 8th December with the figure of the baby Jesus only added and laid in his crib on the night of December 24th. Objects such as houses, waterfalls, food and even figures of famous people and politicians will feature in Neapolitan scenes. On Christmas Eve, it is common not to eat meat or dairy. Often, a light seafood meal is eaten before attending church. The types of fish served vary between regions. Epiphany, January 6th, is also important in Italy. The story of an old lady called Befana bringing presents is very similar to the Russian tale of Babushka. Children put stockings up by the fireplace for her to fill, although in parts of northern Italy the Three Kings might bring your present instead. On Christmas day ‘Babbo Natale’ (Santa Claus) might bring some small gifts, but the main day for present giving is Epiphany.

Lebanon With certain Christian groups, the crib is more popular than a Christmas Tree and the nativity scene is traditionally set in a cave rather than a stable. It is often decorated with sprouted seeds such as chickpeas, broad-beans, lentils, oats and wheat that have been grown on damp cotton wool in the weeks leading up to Christmas. In Lebanon, Father Christmas is known as Baba Noël. Malta Maltese houses are often also decorated with nativities containing ‘pasturi’, small plastic or clay figures representing figures of shepherds and angels. Larger figures of the baby Jesus are sometimes put behind windows or in balconies and illuminated at night.

families put one shoe of each child next to the chimney (since most of the kitchens in Portugal have one) or next to the fireplace instead of a stocking. The Portuguese enjoy an additional feast, called consoada, in the early morning hours of Christmas Day. They set extra places at the table for alminhas a penar (“the souls of the dead”). In some areas, crumbs are left on the hearth for these souls, a custom that derives from the ancient practice of entrusting seeds to the dead in hopes that they will provide a bountiful harvest. Spain Midnight Mass, ‘La Misa Del Gallo’ (The Mass of the Rooster) is so called because a rooster is supposed to have crowed the night that Christ was born. Christmas Eve is known as Nochebuena. December 28th is ‘Día de los santos inocentes’ or ‘Day of the Innocent Saints’ and is similar to April Fool’s Day in the UK. People try to trick each other into believing silly stories and jokes. Newspapers and TV stations also run silly stories. If you trick someone, you can call them ‘Inocente, inocente’. Children receive some presents on Christmas Day, but most are opened at Epiphany. Children believe that the Kings bring presents to them and will write letters to the Kings asking for toys and presents. On Epiphany Eve (January 5th) they leave shoes on windowsills or balconies or under the Christmas Tree to be filled with presents. Gifts are often left by children for the Kings, a glass of Cognac for each King, a satsuma and some walnuts. Sometimes a bucket of water is left for the camels. A special cake called ‘Roscón’ meaning ‘ring shaped roll’ is eaten. It is very doughy and is bought from a bakery on Epiphany morning. It can be filled with cream or chocolate and contain a little gift.

Netherlands For most children in The Netherlands, the most important day is 5th December, St. Nicholas’ Eve, when Sinterklaas (St. Nicholas) brings them their presents. The English name Santa Claus is derived from Sinterklaas. Local church bells ring in celebration as Sinterklaas, dressed in his red robes and accompanied by his servants called ‘Sooty Pieten’/’Roetpieten’ (Sooty Peter or Chimney Peter), leads a procession through the town riding a white horse. Every town in The Netherlands has a few Sinterklaas helpers, dressed the same as Sinterklaas and the Piets who help to give out the presents. Sinterklaas parties are often held on the 5th December where treasure hunt games are played with poems and riddles giving the clues. Children follow the clues to find little presents left by Sinterklaas. Special biscuits and sweets are also eaten at the party. One type of biscuit is called ‘banketletter’ which is made from marzipan or pastry. The biscuits are made in the shapes of the partygoer’s initials. Portugal Before leaving for the midnight mass service, parents secretly put the baby Jesus in the nativity scene in their houses and put the gifts under the Christmas Tree, so that Jesus is ‘miraculously’ in his manger by the time the family returns home. Children run to check the nativity scene as soon as they enter the house as the absence of baby Jesus means no presents. At the midnight mass service, an image of baby Jesus is brought out, and everyone queues up to kiss it. It is then put in the nativity scene (presépio) which are found in every church.

Sweden Like their neighbours in Finland, there was a traditional belief in a ‘Yule Goat ‘connected with the mid- winter festival. Nowadays, the goat is mainly seen as a straw ornament which guards the house and Christmas tree. Straw is used as a decoration in homes as a reminder that Jesus was born in a manger. In Sweden, presents are brought by ‘Jultomten’ or just ‘Tomten’ (‘The Christmas Gnome). He’s often helped by gnomes/elves which are called ‘Nissar’ (male) or ‘Nissor’ (female). Venezuela Christmas in Venezuela is definitely colourful. Firework shows are popular. Presents are left on Christmas Eve by ‘Niño Jesús’ (Baby Jesus) under the ‘Nacimiento’ (Christmas tree). On January 5th, children leave strands of straw beside their bed at night. January 6 is the Day of the Reyes Magos, thought to be the day on which the Three Kings came to visit Mary and the infant Jesus. It is believed that these Three Wise Men still look for the Baby Jesus on the night of every January 5th and leave gifts in those places that resemble a stable. In the morning, children wake up to find toys and sweets in place of the straw. Many Venezuelans believe that if you wear yellow on New Year’s Eve you will have good luck next year.

According to the Portuguese tradition, it is the Three Wise Men and not Santa Claus who are the gift-bringers. On 5th of January, Epiphany Eve, children put their shoes along windowsills and doorways and fill them with carrots and straw to lure the camels of the Three Wise Men to their household during the night. Some The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 11

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Saint Maurice Étusson


he commune of Saint Maurice Étusson was created in January 2016 when the two neighbouring communes of Saint-Maurice-la-Fougeureuse and Étusson joined together to create a new commune.

Saint-Maurice-la-Fougereuse During the Middle Ages, the village of Saint-Maurice-la-Fougeureuse had been part of Mauges (which is now in Maine-et-Loire). Under the Old Regime (1400s to 1789), Saint-Maurice-la-Fougeureuse was part of Anjou and came under the jurisdiction of the sénéchausée of Angers.

by Sue Burgess

The priory was later given to the abbey at Saint Sulpice la Forêt in Brittany. The priory was extended around the existing parish church and the centre of the parish was moved to PlessisCofred, where the centre of the village and the church are today, with the agreement of the Bishop who insisted that the church should be rededicated to Saint Maurice. The church was burned by the Protestants in 1568. The priory was burned down in 1794 and disappeared, as did a lot of the buildings belonging to the Old Regime. A porch, the apse and a sculpted door are all that remain of the priory today.

In 1805 the parish was moved again, this time to Bressuire where it remains today.

The law of 1905 separating the Church from the State ordered an inventory of everything that the Church owned. This was fiercely resisted in the area and the Republican forces of law and order had to break the church door down on the 7th March 1906.

Near the church, which was at one time dedicated to St Peter, there used to be a small chapel, St Madeleine’s chapel, both dating from 872. From 1117, the chapel housed a community of nuns set up by the Bishop of Poitiers.

Very little of the original Romanesque style building still exists today. The slate roofed spire is unusual while the door handles are in the form of keys which reminds us that the church was originally dedicated to St Peter.

The decree of the 3rd January 1790 completely changed the way France was divided up. Saint-Maurice-la-Fougereuse was placed into the new département of Maine-et-Loire in the district of Vihiers, moving in July 1791 to become part of the Deux-Sèvres and attached to the district of Thouars.

At the entrance to the church on the left an engraving retraces the main dates of the history of the church. The church used to house a relic of the Virgin Mary’s belt which was held in high esteem by expectant mothers. There is also a statue of Joan of Arc nearby. There were several violent fights in the commune during the Vendée wars (1793 - 1796) with the Republicans frequently pillaging the village causing widespread ruin and desolation. The inhabitants of the village came to Pain-Perdu, at the old tile-works, to get food. The oven at the tile works was used to bake their bread but this safe place soon became known and a group of Republicans came to take Pain-Perdu by surprise. The group were taken by surprise themselves and a vicious fight ensued. The group of Republicans were forced to retreat but left behind many dead who were buried at the place of the

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

recruited from Etusson, Saint-Maurice-la-Fougereuse and the surrounding area. Frédéric took part in many battles during the Vendee wars especially distinguishing himself at Ouleries where, in March 1794, he forced General Grignon and his ‘infernal troop’ to retreat. In 1818 he was appointed Knight of St Louis. He was decorated with the L’ordre du Lys (order of the Lily) by the Duchesse de Berry. Serving as mayor of Étusson from 1816 to 1830, he died in 1845 and was buried in the parish cemetery.

Modern Day Today, Saint Maurice Étusson has a population of around 900 and has several agricultural enterprises and artisans in and around the commune. Nearby is Camping La Raudière which has 22 mobile homes, 20 camping pitches, a large outdoor pool and a fully licensed barrestaurant which is open to the public from April to Hallowe’en (COVID permitting). A new wind farm is being developed that, by about 2023, is expected to produce enough electricity for 12,000 homes.

All photographs by Sue Burgess

fighting near Les Gaucheries. The cross which is known as ‘La Croix du Chêne’ (The Oak Cross) was erected at the place where they were killed.

A Voir / Must see - The lakes at Beaurepaire and Grippiere. - The remains of the chateau of the Lords of La HayeFougeureuse. - La Cheminée du Diable, the Devil’s chimney, remains of a manor house destroyed during the 100 Years War.


OASIS RAUDIERE Location mobil-home Camping - Piscine chauffée

Bar - Restauration rapide Soirée à thêmes

Vivez des vacances familiales chez Peter et Tracy Camping La Raudière - 79150 St Maurice Etusson Camping : 05 49 80 29 35 / Bar : 05 49 65 72 87

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Étusson The first written mention of St Peter’s church of Étusson appears in a papal bull written in 1123. Like many other churches in the area, the church in Étusson was damaged in the 100 Years War and then in the Wars of Religion. The church was rebuilt in 1650. Frédéric Ménard is a person of note from the commune. Born 1766, he was the first parish captain of Etusson and was later in charge of the Argenton-Château division. On the night of 12th August 1793, Henri de la Rochejaquelein rang the alarm bell in the parishes of the area and, in the morning, Frédéric Ménard, who was the guard of the baron of Haye-Fougereuse brought him 200 conscripts who he had

Coming Soon ... Every “A to Z of the Communes” article ever written All in one place

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 13

Home and Garden

Love your


to need a lot of room! I also managed to find another false castor oil plant with variegated foliage. I lost mine during the heat wave in the summer, so this is a welcome replacement. Everyone was masked and keeping their distance as much as possible and refreshments were served in the open……my friend and I enjoyed thick butternut squash soup and freshly baked bread for just a few euros. Plans are already underway for the shows next year and hopefully Covid-19 will have almost disappeared by then. The RHS are publishing the dates for their various fairs in the UK already for next year, so they are obviously feeling optimistic and hopeful. I wonder if Brexit will have an impact……..who knows ?

by Greenfingers


ell here we are again, confined to home, but with the schools and colleges open and people still working it doesn’t feel as severe as last time, although the penalties for not wearing masks and being out when we shouldn’t are quite high. Those of us lucky to have a garden or balcony or even a window box can again take solace in the care and enjoyment of these and we can only hope that with everyone being sensible and obeying the rules the new year will be easier, more ‘normal’ and safer for us all. I was extremely fortunate in being able to attend two plant fairs, one in Bressuire and the other at Prissée-la-Charrière. It was great to be outside in the fresh air and amongst lots of plants once again. The fair in Bressuire is held in the garden ruins of the two ancient chateaux, with an art exhibition and other stalls inside the newer building. The terrain is a bit up and down but easy to cope with and there are always amusements for the children. This year, the day was accompanied, for the most part, by pouring rain but it didn’t deter people from attending, welly boots and brollies to the fore. There are always lots of interesting plant stalls and the usual vide grenier type display, where interesting ‘ornaments’…milk churns, wheels and carts and the like, could be bought to adorn various corners of the garden. There was a good poultry fair too, with many varieties of chickens and ducks for sale. A good place to go if you want to start to keep poultry yourself. The coffee marquee was a welcome spot to shelter from the rain and rest in between the searches and the buying. At Prissée-la-Charrière, the terrain is flatter and the site a bit smaller and, this year, the usual stalls selling fancy goods such as soaps and scarves etc. were cancelled but the exterior stalls were all still available. Lots of choice of spring bulbs, some of the more unusual ones like camassias, and also a fantastic choice of tulip bulbs. I have been looking for a long time for a tetrapanax…a plant which produces huge leaves….and I mean enormous, with a height to match, and there was a young one available, quite cheaply, which is now in my garden waiting to be planted up. Lucky me! It’s going

In the meantime, with lots of other activities not being available to us, we’ll have more time to spend in the garden making the most of the shorter daylight hours and warmth while we can. I am definitely going to develop my online plant ordering skills and browse what is available from wherever I can order! Christmas will be different with possible travel restrictions still being in place, but Skype, Facetime and Zoom are wonderful ways of keeping in touch and showing off gardening accomplishments. I wish you all a safe and virus free rest of the year, with the best we can do at Christmas and a very happy and healthy start to 2021. Take care all of you and enjoy what gardening you can manage, browse the seed catalogues, and plan for better times in the future… they will come!


Now is the time to: • Prune climbing roses, removing damaged and diseased stems and foliage. Tie in new shoots to supports. Prune older stems which have flowered this year by two thirds. Gather up any diseased leaves, especially those with black spot, and destroy on the bonfire. Don’t put into the compost heap otherwise the cycle of infection will continue. • Prune birches, vines and acers before Christmas as later pruning may lead to sap bleeding………but if this happens it won’t look very nice, but it usually does no harm to the plant and the bleeding sites will naturally heal over. • Lift dahlia tubers once the foliage has been blackened by the cold and wet. Store in a box of sand in a cool, dry place. • Moving containers close together into groups, will help to protect against frost damage to the pots and to the roots of the plants. 14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

The Garden in Winter Frosty-white and cold it lies, underneath the fretful skies, Snowflakes flutter where the red banners of the poppies spread, And the drifts are wide and deep where the lilies fell asleep. But the sunsets o’er it throw, flame-like splendour, lucient, glow, And the moonshine makes it gleam like a wonderland of dream, And the sharp winds all the day, pipe and whistle shrilly gay. Safe beneath the snowdrifts lie, rainbow buds of by-and-by; In the long, sweet days of spring, bluebells’ music again shall ring, And its faintly golden cup many a primrose will hold up. Though the winds are keen and chill, roses hearts are beating still, And the garden tranquilly dreams of happy hours to be, In the summer days of blue, all its dreamings will come true. From Lucy Maud Montgomery • Check all climbers to ensure they are securely attached to their supports, adding extra attachments or replacing damaged support where necessary. • Lift the last of the root vegetables from the allotment or veg bed, including parsnips, leeks, carrots and winter brassicas. Remove yellow foliage from winter greens and cover with netting to deter pigeons who want to feast on them. • Dig a trench and fill it with compostable materials…. kitchen waste, cardboard, newspaper, contents of the vacuum cleaner bag, used tea bags etc. This will all rot down during the winter and will be ready to dig over in the spring. It will provide an ideal and nutrient rich bed for runner beans. • Cover heavy clay soil with polythene which will keep it dry and make it easier to dig later on.

• Cover wall-trained fruit such as peaches with a polythene sheet to protect them from really wet winter weather which can help to spread peach leaf curl. Don’t allow the polythene to touch the plant, so make sure there is ventilation between the wall and the plastic sheet. • Divide rhubarb to invigorate the plant and promote new growth. Take stems from the middle of the plant rather than the outside edge, because these younger stems will establish more readily and result in strong new plants. • There is still time to apply grease bands to fruit trees to deter winter moths from laying their eggs in the trunk or branches. • Plant new strawberry plants now, either by dividing old stock or buying and trying some new varieties. • Deciduous trees and shrubs can be planted, including, cotinus, berberis, philadelphus, weigela, laburnum, willow, apples and pears. • If you have heavy poorly drained soil, try spirea, chaenomeles, amelanchier or hornbeam. These are all better suited to that type of soil. To plant----prepare a hole as deep as the pot the plant is in and three times the diameter of the roots. Use a fork to break up the soil in the hole. Make a small mound of soil in the bottom of the hole and place the plant on top of it. This improves drainage around the plant. Backfill the hole with new compost, ensuring there are no

• It’s a good time to lay new paths between beds, or repair those in need of it. Install them where you need access to be easier and safer. Prune fruit trees, (principally apples and pears), with the exception of plums, cherries and other stone fruits. These may develop silver leaf fungus if pruned too early. • Prune grape vines. Continued overleaf .....

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 15

Continued .....

gaps. The roots will be encouraged to grow out sideways into the surrounding soil. • Take hardwood cuttings. Suitable specimens are many climbers, including clematis, roses and campsis and shrubs and trees. When taken, the cuttings can be grown outdoors in a prepared trench, just by poking the cuttings into the soil and back filling the trench. Choose vigorous looking stems which have put on new growth during the year and have buds along the stem. Remove the soft growth at the tip. Cut each stem section into lengths of about 15-30 cms leaving a bud at the top. Cut the top of the stem at a sloping angle, this helps rain water to run off and also helps you to remember this is the top of the cutting. Cut straight across the base of the stem just below two buds and dip this end into hormone rooting powder and plant it with some others around the edge of a ready prepared flower pot. Submerge 2/3 of the cutting into the soil. Leave the cuttings in place until autumn next year. Good plants to try are viburnum, callicarpa and tamarix. • Alpines seeds can be prepared for sowing now. Cold helps to break the seed dormancy. Placing seeds in the ‘fridge in a paper bag now will mean they are ready for sowing next spring. • The foliage on hellebores can be damaged by mud splashes, which also detracts from their beauty. Cutting back some of the foliage prevents this from happening and also allows the buds and flowers to receive some light and be seen better. Surrounding the plants with a bark mulch also helps to prevent hellebore black spot developing. • Keep removing weeds from beds and pots and collect up fallen leaves from wherever you see them. They are a slip hazard on paths and if they fall onto plants in the border they are deprived of light, develop mildew or rot and die. • Add organic matter to beds and borders to enrich the content and improve good condition for next season. • Wrap outdoor yuccas and exposed bay trees with fleece to protect from wind and frost. • Check evergreens regularly so they don’t dry out. • Garlic, onions and shallots can still be planted. 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

• Plant up a couple of pots of blueberries, using ericaceous compost. Two cultivars will provide good cross pollination and ensure good fruit production. • Protect large terracotta pots with bubble wrap against frost damage. • Give citrus plants a good winter citrus fertiliser feed and be prepared to protect plants if heavy frosts are forecast. • Look out for signs of Botrytis (common grey mould), on herbaceous plants which have finished flowering; Remove all infected parts and burn them. Downy mildew and black spot often affect winter flowering pansies, so keep an eye out for it. • Carry on planting bare root specimens if the weather is fine. Otherwise they can be kept in a bucket of damp (not wet!!) compost until the time is right. • Buy some canes to make cheap tripods ready to support plants next year. • Have a mini allotment on a window sill by planting some bean sprouts in a jar with a piece of stocking over the end. Water and allow the water to drain through the stocking. They will germinate in just a few days! • Plant some winter flowering heathers, pansies and violas in tubs and baskets for cheery long lasting colour to brighten up grey days • Clean and sharpen all metal tools and make repairs where necessary. Service mowers etc. whilst the season is quiet. Oil wooden handles of tools to make them last. You’ll be well prepared for the spring! • Sit down and sort through old seed packets and throw out any that are mouldy, empty or eaten by pests. Search online for new varieties that may take your fancy and dream about future sowings!!


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 17

Propolis – Nature’s Sticky Stuff

by Kevin and Amanda Baughen


ver the winter months beekeepers tend to be busy cleaning their equipment ready for the coming year, but one job that is particularly difficult is removing propolis. This sticky brown substance produced by plants is vital to a honeybee’s wellbeing, and has useful properties for humans, although I confess to finding it more of a nuisance than anything else! Propolis (or bee glue) is a resinous mixture that honey bees produce by mixing saliva and beeswax with resins and sappy liquids that they collect from tree buds, sap flows, or other botanical sources. It is used to seal up any gaps smaller than 6mm, keeping out predators and pests and improving the structural strength and integrity of the wax comb within the hive. Any small creatures, such as mice, that have accessed the hive and died will be embalmed by the bees with propolis to stop the growth of mould and other unhealthy bacteria.

Colony in a breeze block showing propolis

The antifungal and antibacterial properties of propolis have been known for centuries. The Greek physician Hippocrates prescribed it for the treatment of sores and ulcers, and it was commonly used as a poultice in Roman times. Since then it has been used as a blood purifier, and as a treatment for toothache, bronchial catarrh and skin problems, and placed on new born babies’ navels as an antiseptic. All these ‘plus points’ have their counter, naturally, one being that propolis is strongly allergenic and can cause a nasty rash in susceptible people. Its dark brown/ yellow colouring and extreme stickiness means it is also very difficult to remove and can permanently stain any surface. Disposable gloves are necessary when handling it, to

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

Propolis on top of frames protect the skin from any allergic reaction and from being coloured a nasty ‘nicotine yellow’. Methylated spirits will soften it, making it easier to remove, but a good tar and resin stain remover is required to clean off the telltale marks. I confess that I have never been able to completely clean propolis stains from our beekeeping suits! Nowadays it is often found in natural supplements and herbal medicines, frequently combined with pollen or royal jelly, and as a tincture when dissolved in 70% alcohol. Research into the pharmacological and clinical properties of propolis continues, including trials for the treatment of mouth, gastric and stomach ulcers, dermatological problems, wound healing and immune deficiency diseases. As a result, collecting propolis is big business in the USA and Europe, but we’re happy to leave our bees to it; they need it more than we do to keep out drafts and unwanted visitors over the winter. If you’re interested in learning how to keep bees, check our website for information on our courses: or call us on 05 45 71 22 90

Our Furry Friends Felix

hope association charity shops

Felix is 6 months old, he has been neutered, tested negative for fiv and Felv and is vaccinated and micro chipped. He is a lovely soft natured timid little black and white cat. If you are interested in adopting any of our cats please contact us at: Or message us on Facebook The Funny Farm Cat Rescue Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884.

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

Lucky Lucky is a four year old ex working collie. He has had a couple of homes, one with children, and now finds himself looking for a third one due to ill health in his family. Lucky is a smart and energetic dog who will need an active life for him to be happy. We’re getting to know him in his foster home in North dept 16 so please get in touch if you’d like to find out more.

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

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Teddy & Willow Special Appeal. Can you help us find a new loving home for these two inseparable buddies ‘Teddy & Willow’, they are being fostered in 23 near LA SOUTERRAINE but they can be adopted in various departments. ‘Teddy & Willow’ are protective of each other so it is felt that a home with no other dogs would be ideal , they are indifferent to cats. At 19 months old these two adorable shy dogs will need patience, gentleness, a well fenced garden, walks and of course love to help them flourish. They both come chipped, vaccinated, neutered/sterilized, treated for ticks and fleas. Adoption fee and a home check apply... The Assocation Orfée tel: 09 77 48 71 43 or by email:

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

Eugene Eugene is 6 months old, he has been neutered, tested negative for fiv and Felv and is vaccinated and micro chipped. He is a lovely soft natured little tabby cat. If you are interested in adopting any of our cats please contact us at: Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884.

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 19

Travel The Mid-Pyrenees – The Valley of Fresques


by Howard Needs

or those of you who do not regularly read the magazine this is one of a series describing some of the experiences we have had in the Pyrenees. They are interspaced with another series about church wall paintings and this particular article rather mixes the two subjects

of the town, and the main valley was not really so small. However, after we had found our hotel, we walked into the town and found it very pleasant.

We left Laruns in the rain, with a longish day’s driving ahead of us over the passes parallel to the border with Spain. Spectacular scenery all around and excellent roads, and because of the weekend, many other road users as well – cycle clubs and groups of motor-cyclists required special care. Seeing the cyclists brought back memories of our time living in Holland and of the holidays on two wheels in France, Germany, and the UK – and the tiredness and pain in the legs of pushing relentlessly uphill and without respite. We had booked a hotel in Saint-Lary-Soulan, close to the valley of the Louron, and as we drove into the town that afternoon, we had a feeling of disillusion.

The church in the centre had a concert advertised for that evening, with Pyrenees mountain singers. During our morning with the vultures two days previously, one bird had mistaken a pink pattern on my wife’s shorts for a piece of meat and had pecked at it in a vaguely interested way and had slightly scratched her. We had treated the damaged skin with iodine at the time, but now we began to wonder about tetanus. As we returned to the hotel, we noticed a doctor’s practice close by and poked our head round the door and were greeted by a young woman who turned out to be the doctor. She invited us in, and we explained the situation and, after examination, said there was no infection showing but that an antitetanus shot was a good idea. She handed me a prescription and told me that there was a pharmacy just down the road, adding that if we obtained the vaccine she would do the job right now, which is what happened. We thanked her with some relief for an incredible service – at seven in the evening on a Saturday. A good Italian meal and a concert finished the evening, with only a spot of rain.

To explain a bit, some years ago, a friend had given me a cutting describing a valley hidden in the Pyrenees which had a number of small churches with wonderful wall paintings that, due to their isolation, had remained nearly intact throughout the tumult of history. Further investigation had provided more information, and the IGN maps (French equivalent of Ordnance Survey) had reinforced that idea of remoteness. We had made contact with the tourist office previously, who had told us that the churches were closed for the most part outside the summer months. So our expectation was small towns, small valleys, and hopefully some churches that were open. In practice, Saint-Lary-Soulan turned out to be a holiday and ski town with a ski lift starting in the centre

20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

During the late afternoon walk in the town, we had asked at the tourist office about the churches. In addition to being given some brochures, we were told that because it was the Journeés du Patrimoine that weekend, a number would be open, although of course at varying and sometimes incompatible times. Still, that was encouraging indeed. We managed five churches out of the twenty-three, or so, in the whole area. Despite the sombre, rainy weather, we had in fact a very enjoyable time, with a picnic lunch consumed in the car out of the rain. The churches were hidden in little side valleys, with small winding roads accessing them. On the way, we detoured to have a look at a watermill in Sailhan. Just at the mill, the road was blocked

by a garage recovery lorry trying to retrieve a car that had left the road on a corner and had finished up five metres lower down in the bushes – no one hurt, luckily. We were able to find a place to park and walked a bit to discover a delightful little overshot mill, beautifully restored and preserved. The church of St Barthélemy in Mont was our first stop for the churches and was in many ways the most spectacular. It is one of the few French churches with some of its exterior wall paintings

paintings; however, even if I had known, we would not have had the time to visit them. Funding is always a problem with these relics of the past and these very small communes do not have the resources for the careful and professional restoration that is necessary.

In Mont, as we walked to the entrance of the church, we could see a Last Judgement and a Crucifixion very clearly on the southern exterior wall. Retreating from the rain, we found that the interior was covered with paintings of various dates (those outside being the oldest), which were a joy to see and to photograph but too many to describe – the photos must tell their tale. Saint-Calixte de Cazaux-Fréchet-Anéran-Camors is at the end of a little valley road hidden way up on the hillside. It is mostly 11th century Romanesque, with a 16th century side chapel extension with a Christ in Majesty in poor condition. Later, I found out on the web that this small commune has four churches with wall

Notre-Dame de Bourisp is a late 16th century village church, small and hidden by trees, with the steep valley side as backdrop. Entering the church, one is confronted by an extended panel depicting the seven deadly sins. Here the sinners are all women, in contrast to the version in the church at La Pommeraie-sur-Sèvre, near where we live, where there are also male sinners. The painting is very graphic and for the most part well preserved. The devils accompanying the women have wings, horns, and two extra faces on the chest and on the nether regions. Inside the church, there are many other paintings, including a Last Judgement showing St Michael weighing the dead souls, St Peter with the key to heaven, the devil, and the beast Leviathan, representing the mouth of hell. And so our Journée du Patrimoine finished after a mostly rainy day driving on very narrow hillside roads and a very meagre picnic lunch. We went back to the hotel very satisfied with ourselves and promptly bumped into the next problem – it was Sunday evening, and the hotel had no restaurant. So we walked into the town hoping to find one open. There was one high-end place, but the menu seemed incompatible with our vegetarian diet. My wife thought that she remembered a take-away pizza place near the hotel and, yes, there it was, next to the doctor’s surgery, and it was open. Not only open but with two tables. We sat down and eventually had a surprisingly good meal with a drink in humble circumstances – not the first time that this has happened on a Sunday in France. Maps out on the table, we planned our next couple of days and booked accommodation using a tablet with a mobile as a hotspot – life is easy these days. The area of the Louron and Aure lived up to its promise of many country churches with a magnificent heritage in architecture and, above all, in church art in the form of wall paintings – frescos. The modern infrastructure in the valley bottom is of course necessary to support our present-day population levels, but it has not spoilt the rural villages high up on the valley sides. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 21

Photos by Howard Needs

still visible and legible. The other that I have visited in France is at Rivière (Indre et Loire), where a remnant can be seen in the porch. In the past, the exterior of many of the country churches was as decorated as the interior. In the Balkans and parts of Italy, some churches still have a considerable part of their original exterior paintings very visible.

Notre Dame/Saint-Laurent de Jézeau is an old Knights Templar and later Knights Hospitaller commandery dating from the 12th century. After a major fire in the 16th century which destroyed most of the village and its château, the vault roof was replaced with wood panelling with very fine paintings.

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across 1. A gas burner used in laboratories (6) 4. Pass by in time (6) 8. Own up to (5) 9. A driver who obstructs others (7) 10. Type of inhalation anaesthetic (5) 11. A South American river 1,500 miles long (7) 12. Infections of the skin or nails caused by fungi and appearing as itching circular patches (9) 15. A thin straight surgical knife (7) 16. Fruit of the oak tree (5) 17. Army formation smaller than a division (7) 18. A beverage made from juice pressed from apples (5) 19. Rocket sport (6) 20. Sufficient, enough (6)

Down 2. Bring to the latest state of technology (6) 3. Comedian and member of The Goons (5-8) 5. A calculator that performs simple arithmetic functions (6-7) 6. Whisky distilled in Scotland (6) 7. US actor and film maker (19151985) (5-6) 13. Unusual, rare (6) 14. Take into custody (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword

Brain Gym

Q1. The rungs of a 10 foot ladder attached to a ship are 1 foot apart. If the water is rising at the rate of one foot an hour, how long will it take until the water covers over the ladder? Q2. There is a clothing store where the owner has devised her own method of pricing items. A vest costs €4, socks cost €5, a tie costs €3 and a blouse costs €6. Using the method, how much would underwear cost? Q3. Which word is most commonly spelled incorrectly? Q4. Which word is the odd one out: Seventy, Brawl, Clover, Proper, Carrot, Swing, Change, Travel, Sacred, Stone?

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

Clues Down 1. . First pair of strippers wearing dress for flashing experience. (6) 2. On the radio work for vessel? (3) 3. Thousand leaving reckless unions when applying protective coatings? (9, 4) 5. Hardly got a bid out although in full view. (5, 8) 6. Say tip of duckling is appearing in content of nest. (3) 7. Moderate rage? (6) 10. Love being in bed getting the bird? (4) 13. A window on re-routing of French river? (5) 14. Apple product initially is boiling over, all right? (5) 17. Problem arising when shales are disturbed. (6) 18. River crossed by famous bridge? (4) 19. Guides our group to take that lady south. (6) 22. Looking for rubbish dump? I’ll give you a hint. (3) 24. Reported mild surprise at need to pay? (3)

Q5. All the electricity was out in town and none of the street lights or traffic signals had power. A dark limousine was cruising down the newly paved blacktop, with its headlights off. A young boy dressed totally in black (with no reflectors) stepped out to cross the street. The moon wasn’t out and the boy had no flashlight, yet the driver stopped to let the boy cross the street. How did the driver see the boy? Q6. Trains travel from one town to another town all day, always on the same track, always going nonstop and at the same speed. The noon train took 80 minutes to complete the trip, but the 4pm train took an hour and 20 minutes. Why?

Answers on P.26

With thanks to M.Morris

Clues Across 1. Vegetable pulp? (6) 4. Bleats about being the most capable. (6) 8. Manage escape? (3) 9. Tijuana chow container? (5) 11. Relaxing play room; the last place to do exercise? (3) 12. Feel incredibly happy with stirring one ounce and cooking blind? (2, 2, 5, 4) 15. Having sex first, then turning me over; now there’s a thing! (4) 16. Set off from republic to get starch? (4) 20. Original snakes low fall said to be a one-off? (3, 10) 21. TV eg. Is ready? (3) 23. Chemical company nursing heartless finishing touches? (5) 24. Broadcast an alternative to rock? (3) 25. Present former partner with Teletubby in Kent for example? (6) 26. Put pressure on holy man bringing church teaching to nasty Nazis? (6)

The Circle Of Life

by Stephen Shaw


nna, my wife, doesn’t like having ‘the big light’ on of an evening. She prefers ‘mood’ lighting, which involves having several lamps dotted around the room in strategic places, ratcheting up our electricity bill. Some nights the living room can resemble the lighting department of BHS and can take several minutes to turn off all the illuminations at bedtime (who was it who thought putting the on/off switch halfway down the flex was a good idea?). On top of a lamp, next to the TV, a small beetle can often be seen walking around the rim of the lamp-shade. In a never ending journey the little fella goes round and round throwing a giant Kafkaesque shadow onto the wall behind. When it first happened it scared the bejesus out of us. Whether he thinks he will one day arrive at his destination or is content to beetle in a never ending loop I do not know (this is where I might suggest the beetle is a metaphor for our own lives; wandering in eternal circles until one day the light is extinguished and we fall off the lampshade...but I won’t). For years Brits have been moving to France, renovating dilapidated buildings and opening gites. This month Anna and I celebrated our fifth anniversary of buying our French home. In that time, life in France has dealt us some wonderful ‘highs’ and a few ‘lows’. Within half a mile of our house some English friends (who have been living in France for twenty years) decided that their French adventure had come to an end and it was time for them to return to the UK. Another couple, having had a maison secondaire for many years, decided to move out permanently. This constant merry-go-round of coming and going must be replicated hundreds of times throughout the country. Anna was the driving force behind our move to France. She was the one who watched the TV programmes, organised the viewings, purchase, and endless paperwork. I just did what I was told and saw it as a way out of teaching. Being a sensitive Englishman I have always ‘ummed’ and ‘ahhed’ about being away from friends and family, whereas Anna, being a cold fish from Scotland, does not find it a problem. In so many couples we have met living in l’Hexagone there is one who would never return to the UK and one who has a suitcase packed under the bed. A difficult balancing act for many people. We have had five very happy years living in France and long may the adventure continue. I imagine with the year we’ve all experienced a lot of people will be changing their direction in life...unlike the beetle on the rim of our lamp, who just keeps walking round and round.


hoever said it, they were right. We do live in interesting times, and strange ones at that. Bears in bins, trampolining groundhogs, dogs chewing their way through test-n-trace solutions, blue donkeys and pink elephants temporarily banished to the comic books of history, a gang of rascally masked raccoons breaking into banks in California; hopefully a sanitised handing over of the swag! Giant killer hornets, betrayed by a tracking device affixed to a captured out-of-work undercover hornet versus a super-duper monster vacuum cleaner, and lately we have had Connecticut squirrels having a ball at Halloween. Interesting times indeed! But this type of behaviour is not what we have been brought up to expect. Not at all, no. For instance, New England Connecticut squirrels, who have traditionally always enjoyed only the very best, have now developed an additional taste for pumpkins, with or without candles. Carved pumpkins are the creme de la creme and have been in high demand by these cheeky gourmets. Our own pampered squirrels naturally preferred ‘carved’ as it saved having to do the tough gnawing bit on the rind and they can just get straight into the feeding ground through a conveniently carved feature. Additionally, pumpkins are harvested and placed so conveniently on or near doorsteps and remain there even through the twilight hours and into the best feeding times. Perfect. No trailing down to the store or pumpkin marketplace or having to pick your own on the farm, all that effort, no, no, squirrels expect the best in New England, and boy, do they get it! For a short while only, pumpkin served 24/7 on a lawn near you. Squirrels have not been without controversy though. Public opinion is divided as to whether their intensive squirrelling of acorns is an early warning by knowledgeable natives of a severe winter ahead or just that the wet weather and gales have shaken down an early bumper harvest, or alternatively again, that squirrels are replete with pumpkin and have not yet got round to panic buying and emptying the boughs. Difficult one but we, public opinion weatherwise persons, will very soon have all the evidence we need to pronounce conclusively. But public opinion does come together to agree that Christmas will arrive this year in some form or another and it will pose more interesting questions: here (above left) is but one such. Another (right) is to wonder what sort of a summer 2021 will be. So far the weatherwise, acorn stashing, squirrels have not made any forecasts. So times are, yep, interesting and strange. Farewell Halloween 2020, farewell season of manic Democracy and a-not-likelyto-be-a-very-vegan, turkey-lurkey, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. But most of all welcome to Happy Holidays to one and all. Stay masked up like raccoons, but additionally be merry, strong and ready to see what 2021 will serve up.


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 23

Spot The Difference

15 differences to find. Answers on page 27

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020



ay well look like a well known TV programme but any similarity is surely coincidental. Honest.

Task 4 : Art Attack : Using only items usually found in your kitchen, make a large “art attack” on the floor. Any subject you like.

Get your family involved. Do the tasks live on a video call or over the course of a few days and judge the results. If you feel brave enough, share the results with us on our Facebook page. There might even be prizes for the best.

Task 5 : Towel Tower : Build the tallest tower using only towels.

To judge winners and points awarded, you may choose a single ‘Task Meister’, take it in turns to be the ‘Task Meister’ or just use democracy.

Task 6 : Gloved Biscuits : While wearing oven gloves, open a packet of biscuits and eat a biscuit. Fastest wins. Task 7 : Limerick : Write a limerick using the first line “During lockdown one day in France”.

--Task 1 : Celebrity Disguise : Disguise yourself as a celebrity using only the things in the room in which you are now sitting. If not on a video call or in the same room, take a selfie once you are done. You have 20 minutes.

Task 8 : Read My Lips : Everybody write a list of five children’s films. Without making a sound (if on video call - use mute), each person in turn reads their list to the video call while everybody else tries to work out what they are.

Task 2 : Household Puppet : Create a puppet with no more than ten items already in your home (you may not buy anything new to complete this task). Once complete, demonstrate your new puppet on a video call or by recording a short video.

Task 9 : Word Play : Pick a ‘key’ word with a length of at least 6 characters. Each ‘player’ has 100 seconds to create as many words using only the letters in the ‘key’ word.

Task 3 : Face Not A Face : Take a photo of the thing in your house that most looks like a face, but is not a face.

Task 10 : Sock Flag : Create the best representation of a national flag using only socks (not necessarily your own).

Word Search Puzzle






























3 Down : Confinement with secure feathers (8)


hanks Mike Morris !

In France, lockdown began on March 17th and one week later, the UK followed suit. Three months of not socialising and hardly going outside are survivable when you live in the beautiful Marais Poitevin, but when you are 87, live by yourself in Edinburgh, and have health problems, that’s definitely a problem. That was the position of my lifelong friend, Anne. Her sister passed away last year and she also lost her last dog, after 50 years of giving rescue dogs a loving home. Some of her friends, including my mother, had passed away or were going into care homes, so things were definitely becoming ‘challenging’, as they say. Anne, ever cheerful though, had enjoyed a great social life, seeing friends, playing bridge and scrabble, and spending hours pouring over her cryptic crosswords which she has done since the age of 14. With lockdown, all her social life stopped. To while away the long evenings, we started doing Mike Morris’ Toughie crosswords in the DSM and Living Magazine. I phoned Anne every night, and we laughed our way through every back issue of both magazines. I didn’t know one end of a crossword clue from the other however, so Anne patiently guided me through the intricacies of ‘crosswordspeak’ – love is ‘o’, artist is ‘ra’ (for Royal Academy (!)... I learned how to identify an anagram, and find clues that were ‘out of the context’, which always made us yell out in chorus ‘It’s out of the CON-text !!’ To begin with, it took us two evenings to finish one of Mike’s crosswords, but once we got the hang of them we polished off one every evening. We became learned critics of Mike, saying, ‘What on earth’s he talking about?’ or ‘I’m going to write to Mike Morris and tell him what I think of this clue!’ All of Mike’s allusions to France were my domain though – at least I could get a few right! Flushed with our success, we very modestly decided to call ourselves ‘The Brainboxes’ and Anne’s sister-in-law, Barbara, who had valiantly printed off all the crosswords which I sent her daily, made a terrific design which I had printed on mugs.

by Gillian Marty

Having exhausted all of Mike’s past crosswords - those still being published remain the highlight of our evenings - we tried the Guardian Quiptic crosswords, but dismissed those for having too many ‘poor’ clues that were not up to our high standards…. We now do the North Wales Weekly crosswords which my sister sends us, and afterwards, I play Anne music from Youtube. For the first time in years Anne can listen to her favourite songs from her youth. Her favourite is Take My Breath Away, from Top Gun. ‘Tears !’ she says afterwards, ‘Won’t need to wash my face tonight !’ and her all time favourite artist is Rod Stewart, singing ‘Do ya think I’m sexy?’ Holding the phone up to the computer screen and turning the volume up to max is not ideal though! The first lockdown has come and gone, the second is upon us. We’re still doing crosswords, laughing and listening to music together. We’ll get through this together, Anne, Mike Morris and me. I’m just off to play ‘I will survive’ to Anne.

TAKE A BREAK - SOLUTIONS - P.22 Easy Crossword: Across: 1. bunsen 4. elapse 8. admit 9. roadhog 10. ether 11. orinoco 12. ringworms 15. scalpel 16. acorn 17. brigade 18. cider 19. tennis 20. plenty Down: 2. update 3. spike milligan 5. adding machine 6. scotch 7. orson welles 13. scarce 14. arrest

Toughie Crossword: Across: 1. squash 4. ablest 8. run 9. nacho 11. gym 12. be on cloud nine 15. item 16. sago 20. all snowflakes 21. set 23. icing 24. ore 25. expose 26. stress Down: 1. strobe 2. urn 3. sunscreen oils 5. broad daylight 6. egg 7. temper 10. coot 13. oriel 14. i book 17. hassle 18. kwai 19. ushers 22. tip 24. owe

Brain Gym: 1. Never. The ladder is attached to a ship. The ship will float as the water rises. 2. Underwear would cost 9€. Each letter of the item name costs 1€. 3. INCORRECTLY 4. Carrot. When the first and last letters are removed from the other words, they still spell another word. 5. It was daytime. 6. 1 hr and 20 mins is the same as 80 minutes

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

Health, Beauty and Fitness Everyday Yoga for Everyone Listen To The Turtle


by Rebecca Novick

ne of the most difficult aspects of the current pandemic, apart from the obvious concerns for the health of ourselves and others, is the uncertainty of it all. When will it end? The rolling lockdowns bring with them a host of unknowns. There is a saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” These times must be a great source of divine amusement. We can’t plan for the future in the way we used to. Plans are always just ideas in our head. We can’t step into them, inhabit them, until the right conditions come together. Most of us know this and are able to accept the occasional disappointment, but these days even plans for the near future are up for question. We cannot see into next week, let alone next year. It’s like a grey curtain has been pulled over the future tense. My friends and I have got in the habit of giving a ‘look’ after we say something about our future plans. It’s a version of ‘Inshallah’, God willing. I’ve always been fond of this adjunct. It’s simply acknowledging that there are forces out there that are greater than the notes in our diary. So what do we do with all this uncertainty that leaves us oddly floating and groundless? For me a way to ground is through the body. Just mentally connect with the parts of your body on the chair where you’re sitting. Feel that connection as strongly as you can and just hang out there, observing and witnessing your body in space without reacting or judging. This kind of quiet observation was common to us as children before we began to respond to each and every thought like a football commentator. This space of quiet observation is like the eye of the storm, or like a lighthouse lighting up the rocks and crashing seas around us. When we rest here a bit, the world around us comes more into focus and we become reacquainted with the only thing that we can count on—the present moment. From this space we can afford to be more philosophical about what we can’t control and more pro-active about what we can. Somehow a wonderful cheesy quote from Kung Fu Panda by the turtle Master Oogway springs to mind (no, seriously, it’s a great movie!) “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the ‘present’”. Respect yourself, explore yourself. For more information email Rebecca at or follow her on


1. Snow shovel missing 2. Candle missing from upstairs window 3. Smoke from chimney missing 4. Star from Christmas tree missing 5. New lantern by front door 6. Sign says “Bread & Breakfast” 7. Firewood moved to top left 8. Ski foot clamps now red 9. Window in brown turret now rectangular 10. Boy’s hat is now red

11. Window removed from grey turret 12. New chimney on building on the right 13. Front door is now black 14. Middle roof window removed 15. Santa in his window (bottom right) missing A picture showing the changes can be found on the website under “Downloads”

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 27

La Vie En France CYCLING : Faymoreau to Biarritz.


ince arriving in Faymoreau from England in 2016, my wife Kerry and I have been busy renovating our house, our garden and also looking after our elderly dog Buddy. We can often be seen out and about running, cycling, swimming or in my case, playing my trumpet. We love France and always hoped to have the opportunity to live here, travel and explore its different departments. In January this year our old friend Buddy died which left us feeling very sad, but also free to pursue our dreams of adventure. On the 2nd September, Kerry and I set off on our bicycles from our home in Faymoreau on a planned journey to Biarritz. Our bikes were well prepared and packed for a months travelling with tent, sleeping bags, trumpet and Petanque boules, (Yes Kerry’s eyes did look to the heavens when I packed them). Our first day of cycling took us to La Rochelle where we planned on joining the Vélodyssée cycle path that runs from Roscoff all the way down passed Biarritz. That first day was a very hot and long ride during which we learned the importance of having plenty of water on board. We stayed in La Rochelle lodging with one of the street musicians for two days giving us a chance to explore the beautiful city at leisure. Previously we had always had Buddy with us preventing us from exploring the shops, restaurants and beaches fully. We ate on the beautiful harbour front restaurants in the evening and explored shops and sunbathing on the beach during the day. On the third day we headed south along the Vèlodyssée feeling very excited. We had planned on our cycling days to be around 45 - 60 km. We passed through Châtaillon-Plage stopping briefly for a very cold beer on a very hot day. We cycled around Rochefort, then

28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

by Tony & Kerry Scott

onto Marennes and arrived at our accommodation late in the evening in a small commune called Nodes. Our hosts, a French family allowed us to camp in their garden which had an outside shower, compost toilet and cooking facilities. What more could we want? What we had hoped to be a short journey had turned into a long 73 km ride. The next day we crossed over the bridge onto Île d’Oleron for a night. A beautiful island full of dramatic beaches and villages. We headed back over the bridge the next day exploring Marennes and then made our way down to Royan. On route to Royan we were aware the Tour de France was passing through. The roads were lined with waiting spectators for the tour to arrive... but were still open for traffic and so Kerry and I rode the TDF route with people waving us on cheering and ringing bells; we had to laugh. We were able find a suitable spot to wait for the peloton to pass by, which was exciting to watch, even though they were through and away out of our sight in a matter of seconds. On arriving at Royan, Kerry and I had just made the ferry with minutes to spare. The ferry crossed over to Soulac-sur-mer. We stayed camping in this region for five days exploring the beaches, lakes and forests in beautiful hot and sunny weather. The area is mostly forestry but with spectacular beaches and fantastic swimming. There are also some freshwater lakes a couple of km inland which were also beautiful. We set off again on our bikes through the forest and stopped at Maubuisson which is a beautiful beach town on the shore of Lac d’Hourtin. The beach is only narrow but the lake was enormous. We could barely see the opposite side. Around the sandy beach it was very shallow, blue and full of sailing boats,

water skiers, motor boats and swimmers. We loved it so much we made a last minute decision to stay the night. Kerry and I then headed south and stayed for three days in Arès which is just outside Andernos-les-Bains. We have visited Andernos previously to watch a jazz festival in 2019. On that occasion, it rained in ropes all weekend and we didn’t see much of the town. This time we were rewarded with brilliant sunshine during which we celebrated my birthday and explored the magic of the Bassin d’Arcachon. This bassin is such a beautiful place. It’s sheer size and beauty takes the breath away and we will definitely explore this area again and again. After this we made our way to Arcachon itself and explored the beautiful shops and Arcachon Villas. We also managed to climb Dune du Pilat, the highest dune in Europe. After Arcachon we cycled down to Biscarrosse and managed to watch a sea plane take off which was first for both of us. Biscarrosse is another town on the edge of a freshwater lake

and is surrounded by forests. From there we then made our way to Mimizan Plage which is truly a surfers Paradise. We don’t surf ourselves but watched them from the comfort of a bar with a cold beer in hand....followed by another cold beer....and then another. We had planned on taking three more days to travel from Mimizan plage to Biarritz which was our final destination. The weather was going to change to torrential rain which was due to last for days and days. We decided to ride the last leg in one go to avoid the bad weather. 107 km later we were exhausted but delighted to stand next to the sign indicating that we had made it to our destination. With stormy seas and black clouds looming overhead, we found a hotel in Biarritz and 15 minutes after checking in the heavens opened and along came the heavy rain and storms. Kerry and I spent the next four days exploring Biarritz which was a bit disappointing. We also visited Bayonne which was beautiful and exciting and we watched the Bayonne professional rugby team training from the top of the town wall. We also managed to squeeze in a visit to Saint-jean-du-Luz - a beautiful beach and harbour town full of curiosity shops and restaurants and overlooked from the south by the Pyrenean mountains. This was the only time we felt a little uncomfortable with regards to COVID, because the town was packed to the brim with tourists even though it was a Sunday. To return home Kerry and I took a train from Biarritz back to Niort changing at Bordeaux and Poitiers. From Niort we cycled back to Faymoreau via Benet and I can honestly state that it was the most exhausting part of the Journey. We were glad to be home but looking back we had a fantastic trip and are already planning our next one. It wasn’t all plain sailing though. We did have some mishaps, a broken gear cable, a puncture, our GPS navigation set completely stopped working and I left my trumpet on a lake side bench and didn’t realise for 6km before going back to retrieve it. We stayed in some beautiful camp sites and some not so beautiful. We saw scenery to take your breath away and met some wonderfully kind people. We will always be indebted to Lidl, from where we purchased our daily salad meals, and to McDonald’s who allowed us to recharge our phones and cameras and provide us with free Wi-Fi to keep in touch with our loved ones. We love France. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 29

Where Are They Now?


The Springham Family

by Laura Springham

n the April 2017 issue of DSM Monthly the Springham family, who had recently moved to the Northern Charente from Bermuda, were featured in the “Where We Live” segment. The article was called “Home-baked & Finely tuned!” which described their respective trades as baker and musician. Fast forward to 2020 and it’s been quite an interesting few years for Keith & Laura. Keith’s baking basics workshops have become well-known in the area by both locals and summer holidaymakers. While the 3 day baking workshops with the “stay and bake” idea did not prove to be as popular, the one day baking workshops are in demand most of the year, especially in the runup to Christmas and from Easter into the summer season. He has added several workshops to his original list, including Hot Cross Buns, Macarons, Mille Feuille, along with the still-popular topics of Baguettes & Brioche and Croissants. Keith and Laura were featured on the HGTV channel’s “House Hunters International” series in August 2017, entitled “Chasing the Dream in France” which they hoped would bring increased business to their B&B. While there were many messages of support and interest, not much of that attention turned into revenue for the family. For Laura’s side of work, as a performer and teacher (violin & viola), over the course of the last several years she’s continued to teach private lessons to a few students, applied for work at music schools all around Nouvelle Aquitaine, auditioned for several smaller orchestras, increased her bookings for playing at weddings and worked very odd hours as a copywriter and editor. In an unexpected twist, she then ended up returning to her old job at Bermuda School of Music at the end of 2018. While it was a very difficult decision, Laura left the family in France, her daughter just 2 and son 6 years old, in order to boost the family’s income for the following year. Keith continued to teach baking classes and run the B&B. One highlight of the year was when Laura was featured as a soloist with the Orchestre Josquin des Pres in Poitiers. This engagement then led her to be asked to solo with the Bermuda Philharmonic Orchestra. Both experiences were very fulfilling to her as a performer, but the effects of being away from the family were increasingly difficult for everyone. After going back and forth for almost a year, Laura ended her contract to find other options at home in France. By January 2020 Keith and Laura decided that the B&B would be no more, but baking classes would continue. February proved to be Keith’s best month to date with his classes. Laura’s friend who was running Le Café Civray told her that she wanted to step down and had found other work. Since moving to the area 5 years before, Laura knew that the English speaking community was drawn to Le Café and that Keith’s expertise would be a great asset to taking over the business. Meeting with an accountant and finding out the rules for them to work together as a couple, they signed the lease agreement in early March 2020. Keith went to work on renovating the kitchen and redecorating the interior while Laura was home with the kids during lockdown. A new tagline of “Anglo-American coffee & cake” was developed along with revamped breakfast and lunch menus and a website. 30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

While the opening was delayed until the 6th of July, the turnout and support from the community has been very encouraging so far. In her younger working years, Laura was a barista in the U.S. and she brings her knowledge of making espresso drinks along with a lot of self-taught media and networking strategies to the business. Keith has worked in both small bakeries and large production shops his whole career. There were a few rocky starts to opening, with a faulty espresso machine and oven down along with drain issues, but thankfully those were all able to be sorted quickly! One success so far is the MacMillan Coffee Morning which raised a combined amount between the cake sales and raffle of 1,000 euros for cancer charities both in France and the UK. Laura worked hard to push the raffle ticket sales and the local business support was excellent with prize donations. If you had asked either Keith or Laura if they had seen any of the events of the last few years coming, the answer would be a resounding “no”. Running a small café/bakery is a better fit for Keith and Laura. They can leave their work at work (usually) and the children have free rein in their own garden! Just recently the B&B was converted into a Nana flat, Keith’s mum made the decision to move in with the family after living on her own in the UK. Life has a funny way of working out differently than planned, but maybe the new path is a better one anyway.

Normal business hours for Le Café Civray are Tuesday-Friday 9am4pm. The Baking Basics classes are reserved or Mondays. Events include a writers club, French conversation classes, IT clinic, and more. All of these events can be found on the Facebook page and hopefully they can be started up again very soon. Currently under COVID restrictions, Le Café Civray is taking advance orders for Fridays only. Check the website or social media pages for updates on hours when they are available. @LeCafeCivray Facebook @lecafecivray Instagram

Setting your stall out – profitably! S o now you have accumulated all the treasures needed for your French home, why not have a go at selling surplus items? Under normal circumstances, the country is inundated with videgreniers and brocantes especially at weekends and holidays but there are regulations to be aware of. Having looked through your well-thumbed copy of the Calendrier and checked on-line, you will notice how some events are labelled for particuliers only, indicating that only the general public are allowed to stand. Conversely, reserve aux professionnels means only registered traders. Some events are sans reservation (no booking necessary) whereas most will insist on advance booking and possibly even a cheque up front to secure a stand ( un emplacement ) which is usually priced per linear metre. Make sure you book enough space if you expect to have your vehicle behind the stand as there is nothing worse than carrying your stock from a near-by car park! Be aware also that the public are limited to the number of events per year, the idea being to prevent private individuals running an unregistered business. It is normal to fill in a form requesting your personal details and occasionally the fee is payable on arrival, though most organisers will collect later in the day when you’ve had a chance to at least cover the cost of the stand. Arrive in good time as streets can easily be clogged up with displays of stock, large parasols and even marquees. What equipment are you going to need for this exciting and profitable day? Someone to help is the most beneficial. For a oneoff, a folding paste table will suffice but I’ve seen many such laden tables sagging precariously under the weight of goods displayed. Many people use the sturdier versions available for around 30€ which can be re-used in the garden or for picnics. Some stallholders just unload in a haphazard manner on the table or even on a sheet on the floor. Personally, I would advise more care with presentation, using tablecloths where possible and organising the display with taller items at the back. Depending on your position ( you’ll pay a premium for covered space ) you may need shade from either the sun or the rain. This means bringing your garden umbrella, ensuring it will fit in the car or on a roof rack and not forgetting the base as pavements tend to be unsuitable for poking the pole in. Sunscreen may also be useful as several hours in bright sunshine will render you lobster coloured and sore next day. A folding chair may also be useful although sitting down may not be possible given your constant stream of customers!


Philip be difficult to constantly leave your stand. A Bailey neighbour will probably stand guard for the occasional visit to a nearby loo (always establish their location) but not every hour when you feel peckish. A cool bag is useful and plenty of fluids essential.

You should also consider a float with sufficient notes and coins to accommodate changing a 50€ note. Be aware of high value notes offered for very minor purchases. Keep your float in a money belt or similar as you will inevitably become distracted when faced with several customers at once. Try to stay calm and deal with one person at a time, possibly re-enforced with “I’ll be with you soon” (j’arrive bientôt). A collection of carrier bags is recommended for customers as is some form of wrapping paper. Newspaper is acceptable at a push but your hands will be very grubby. A bag is either un sac or une poche and wrapping is l’emballage. A notebook is useful for recording all your sales as it’s often difficult to remember afterwards. Packing up time is often indicated when you book but sometimes you will either not be permitted to leave until a specified time or find it impossible to manoeuvre your vehicle out of the area. Observe other stallholders as a signal and they’ll probably tell you the optimum time. Of course you will get late arrivals just as you’re packing away. Sometimes they believe you will be desperate to sell and offer you ridiculously low money. It’s your decision to accept or decline, sheer exhaustion can cloud your judgement. When you have finished packing, hopefully with fewer boxes than on your arrival, you could have a wander round the remaining stalls or possibly partake in that well-earned beverage. Hopefully you’ve had an enjoyable and profitable day as well as meeting people and practising your language skills. I always washed my hands on arrival home even before the current measures were introduced. In the next article I will explain how to set up a brocante business both at markets and on-line. Bon Courage!

To price or not to price? For the first-timer pricing all articles is very advisable. Unless you have a photographic memory you will seem somewhat inept if you bluff or bluster in response to an enquiry. Knowing your numbers in French is also a given. Be reasonable in your pricing – we all like a bargain and no doubt you will be “chipped” ( otherwise called negotiation ). Remember that you did it when buying! If you wish to indicate your prices are negotiable, just say “les prix sont à débattre” or simply “à débattre”. You’ll soon have an idea how realistic your prices are – either everything flies out without question or you’ve made no sales before lunchtime! I’ve forgotten how many times I’ve heard, “I’m not letting it go for that” or “It’s worth a lot more than that.” Let’s remind ourselves of our raison d’etre – to have a clear-out and make money. There are however, the professional hagglers – they beat you down then either offer a cheque (many French will pay like this anyway) or walk away smiling. Infuriating but stick it out with polite refusals. Another absolute essential is refreshment – it’s very easy to “eat” into your profits when buying drinks, pastries, burgers or sandwiches all day long. In any case, when by yourself it can

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, December 2020 | 31

On The Road PIPPED FOR A STRONG RACE Skipper Interview Vendee 2020 by Helen Tait-Wright

wind and rain were Twhenhelashing the pontoon I arrived at Les

I asked why. “This is the right time for me. I have worked all my life to get here and I would have been here whatever, even if it meant returning from the race bankrupt with nowhere to live” That statement is all you need to know about Pip’s character really.

Sables d’Olonne to visit the race village ahead of the 2020 Vendee Globe.

With all the COVID restrictions in place, there was a very different, subdued, atmosphere compared to 2016. As I followed the one-way system towards the head of the pontoon, I already knew that chances of seeing a skipper were slim and as the brolly tried to make its departure in the strong gusts and the rain started to trickle down my face, I definitely wouldn’t have blamed them from staying inside. Visitors were kept well back from the boats and there was minimal activity on deck, although it was clear that some of the teams were working inside the cockpits of these racing machines. I was interested to see the variety of boat designs as they spanned many generations of IMOCA (International Monohull Open Class Association), from the oldest boat of Pip Hare to the newest and most technlogically advanced boat of Alex Thompson. Pip was one skipper I really wanted to meet as her journey to the Vendee pontoon is an inspirational story of one woman’s determination to make her dream a reality. After passing through the rest of the race village, and running out of the allotted time for being within the village, I headed into the town to find a bit of warmth and food and spied Pip’s team van parked up on the water front. As luck would have it, Pip and her team were seated at the front of the restaurant not far away and there was a spare table alongside. I have to admit that in getting a chat with Pip, I do have an advantage! She knows my stepdaughter Hannah really well, as Hannah is herself an offshore sailor with aspirations towards the next edition of the Vendee in 2024. Having just seen the larger than life video presentation in the village about life onboard an IMOCA, I said to Pip that I was in awe of what she was about to undertake, and asked her if it was a little mad? She replied that the sailing was the easy bit, getting to the pontoon was much more difficult! She told me about the inner peace she finds sailing solo, despite all the hardships and how sailing inspires her to be her best self. It is hard to talk to Pip without mentioning the enormous risk she took to get to the Vendee start. For those of you not familiar with what a Vendee campaign involves or the risk she personally took, I can tell you that the sort of budget required is in millions and Pip committed to launching her campaign by herself with no backing, putting everything she owned on the line to secure a boat and start the qualification process.

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

Knowing that a modern boat costs many hundreds of thousands in itself, she grabbed the opportunity in 2018 to charter an elderly IMOCA, although one with a proven track record. “Superbigou” is 20 years old, the oldest in the fleet, but has made 4 successful navigations of the globe, and Pip saw chartering the boat as an opportunity to fundraise as she went while competing in races and pitching to sponsors. “The hardest thing for me was to try to sell myself to sponsors. Sponsors buy into people and I’m not that comfortable talking about myself. I have had to work though my hatred of that just to keep the campaign afloat. That has been my biggest and most difficult challenge. It has been lonely and stressful.” Her campaign in the meantime had, by necessity, to be very small budget with Pip taking on most of the work herself. Her story has been widely documented and in the end it paid off when the Leslie Stretch, CEO of software giant Medallia, read the story and decided to invest in June 2020. At that point Pip was running out of funds and with just a few months remaining to be race-ready, the one line email offering support couldn’t have come at a better time. “I still have to pinch myself that that happened” Pip tells me. “And now, just a few days before the start line, how does it feel?” I asked. “I’m sad my family can’t be here to share this with me. The sailing is the easy part. I love it. I’m looking forward to the race, although I’ve never been in the Southern Ocean. I think I am going to be largely terrified for a whole month.” As Pip and the team headed off to continue preparations, I felt inspired and humbled by the very genuine, determined and strong lady I had just met. I will certainly be following her progress and hope to be able to welcome her back to Les Sables next year!

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 33

Gazelles Update

with Helen Tait-Wright and Sue Alemann

clothing. Home support for Sue is fantastic news for us and the Kiwis are sending us a lot of love for our adventure.

December 2020 Update.


i everyone! I am updating you on our news this month as we are in lockdown.

It’s been a bit of an up and down month with a sponsor pulling out due to the current financial climate, set against a great clothing sponsor coming on-board from New Zealand and our first TV appearance!

We have been busy getting film footage for TVNZ and our first TV appearance aired on 8th November. https://www.tvnz. Of course we should be getting ready for our Charity auction now, but instead the lockdown has forced us to take it to an online platform. It will run until 5th December, so do pop on and have a look at the lots, many of which have been donated by wonderful local artists. All proceeds go to our humanitarian cause, the Rural Learning Centre in Talataste, Morocco. https://w w auctions/91408?r=1&t=all In the meantime our preparations continue as much as is possible in the circumstances and Priscilla is benefitting from some extra lockdown love! Theoretically we are heading to Morocco for training at the beginning of January, so we have our fingers firmly crossed that that all goes as planned.

It means that we do have one premium sponsorship opportunity still open, if anyone would like exclusive coverage for their business on our helmets. We are however delighted to welcome Icebreaker NZ to the team, with their fabulous range of lightweight Merino wool

Stay safe everyone, and Happy Christmas! Helen & Sue xx

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 34

Hobbies What’s a trope or two between writing by Alison Morton friends?


trictly, a literary trope is a rhetorical or figurative device, via word, phrase or an image, for artistic effect. Today, it’s also come to be used for describing commonly recurring literary and rhetorical devices and motifs in creative works. Right, now we’ve got the formal stuff out of the way, let’s look at how it applies to today’s fiction.

A trope is used as a storytelling technique, a shortcut for describing situations the storyteller can reasonably assume the audience will recognise. But tropes are not the same thing as clichés. They may be brand new or seem trite and hackneyed; they may be thousands of years old but seem fresh and new. They are not bad, they are not good; tropes are tools that the creator of a work of art uses to express their ideas to the audience. It’s pretty much impossible to create a story without tropes. A trope as a connector and an anchor It reaches out to us to provide us with anticipation yet gives us reassurance that events will take a certain course. Even ‘twists and turns’ is a trope, in that we are braced to expect something unexpected. Some of the ones we see daily on our screens and in our books are: girl meets/misses boy, character gets an unexpected inheritance, character walks through unlit parks/railway stations/ streets and meets trouble, atonement leads to redemption, the protagonist is kicked in the teeth at every turn, the character finds late romance, a queen surrounded by enemies that her husband ignores, the idealist comes a cropper, a character’s life shattered by spouse’s hidden criminal life, ad infinitum! Added to these possibilities are tropes specific to one type of story or genre. The ‘ticking clock’ is a common recurring trope. Some of the most exciting scenes in stories will have a ticking clock – a deadline, the arrival of reinforcements or something else that the characters have to struggle against or hold out for. The ticking clock places additional pressure on the heroines and heroes and ramps up the dramatic tension in the story. I use the example of a crow appearing at various times in one of my books to signify…. Ah, you’ll have to read NEXUS to find out exactly what! Are tropes any use? Tropes can help stimulate ideas for fiction, or even just scenes, layers or background in any creative work. Authors of mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction and romance often use tropes, sometimes unwittingly. If used heavily or clumsily, they can make the outcome of stories too obvious and induce disappointment in a reader. We all dislike a film or book that does this; ‘predictable’ can be a strong insult in these cases. Of course, we expect a romance to end in a ‘happy ever after’ or at least a ‘happy for now’ and we hope the cop/agent will catch the bad guy/girl in a crime thriller, but we all like something interesting and thoughtful along the way that will connect with the reader. Tropes can help us in this. And for the creator of fiction, be it on the screen or page, subverting a trope – one of my favourite writing habits – can add an even further dimension to the story. Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available as an ebook and paperback. Her new (long) short story ‘The Idealist’ was published in November in ‘Betrayal: Historical Stories’. A new thriller will be out in January 2021.]

YOUR Book Reviews Thanks this month to Jacqueline Brown for sharing reviews with us.

If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

A Winter’s Dream by Sophie Claire

or a bit of festive fun, romance and a FDream challenge too, I can recommend A Winter’s by Sophie Claire. Meet Liberty, recently

turned thirty, with no idea of the identity of the mystery sender of a bouquet of flowers that arrives on her birthday every year. With friends Evie and Natasha now both happily settled, Liberty fears her quiet life sewing quilts and walking her dog has meant she is seen as dull. With December approaching she sets herself a challenge; for one month, she must say yes to anything new that comes her way and do something every day that takes her out of her comfort zone. I’m a great believer in doing things that push me outside of my comfort zone and I love to set myself challenges, so I knew I was going to enjoy this book, and I did. The first challenge Liberty sets herself is to get a lodger to help pay the bills, and as luck would have it, Natasha and Luc’s friend Alex Ricard is looking for somewhere to stay. Alex is everything Liberty isn’t. He takes risks, he prefers city living to village life and travelling rather than putting down roots. He is also moody and angry at the way his career has abruptly come to an end, but his inner turmoil about having no focus or direction anymore meant I couldn’t help but feel for him. Despite their rocky start, there is something about Liberty’s determination to face her fears that soon sees Alex helping her with her challenges. December is a long month but, as she meets new people and ticks off her challenges, Liberty begins to see what she has been missing out on. When doing a good deed for a friend leaves her stranded in France over Christmas, her challenges become a little bit more magical until she discovers what it is she truly wants in life. This book will warm your heart on a cold winter night, and it might also inspire you to set yourself a challenge or two and who knows where that might take you.


by Kevin Albin

y local author selection for this month is M Kevin Albin’s Stonechild, set in London where the statues come to life with a message

to tell the world. Molly Hargreaves is 15, well travelled, well read and thanks to her parents, pretty clued up on conservation too. As certain statues come to life on the streets of London, claiming to have done so in order to save the planet, Molly isn’t convinced and the statues she first encounters only make her more suspicious that something else is going on. While tourists flock to see the spectacle and London goes mad, alone and with no one prepared to believe her, Molly tries to discover the truth. This book might be aimed at younger readers, but there was certainly enough to keep my interest, and not only did we get a tour around the main sights of London, we were taken to more hidden locations where statues are to be found too. Kevin gave just enough detail about the figures from history to add to the story, without it feeling like a school textbook, and it was obvious that a lot of thought had gone into which statues would be used, and why. The race against time for Molly to uncover what is really going on just added to the drama and sense of adventure. It may be fiction, but as we live through a global pandemic, there was a lot here that rang true and certainly made me think about the changes we all need to make to ensure the planet has a future.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020| 35

Food and Drink Back in Lockdown

by Jacqueline Brown


fter a summer of relative freedom, France is back in lockdown and life has shifted once again. Ed is back home, having had to relinquish his independence in Poitiers, but for me, things don’t feel as formidable as they did last time. I suppose the major change this time is that it is no longer something new thrust upon us, and in order to keep some of the economy going, far more shops and businesses are trading as normal. Even here in our happy home bubble, things are different this time around. Ed has university lectures to log into and Adrian online courses to run from home, giving us some much-needed structure and routine to our days. Ed also now has his driving licence and that, I’ve discovered, is worth his weight in gold. Week one saw me waving him off to the supermarket with a shopping list, and what a genius of an idea that was. Ed got a well-deserved break from us, a bit of driving practice and the useful life lesson of doing a weekly shop for the family. I trusted him not to bring home the bruised and battered fruits and vegetables (and he didn’t) and he had the freedom to select things he wanted to buy, that might not have been on my list. He even picked up the ingredients needed to prepare and cook a meal for us, without any prompting on my part, and the resulting turkey crème fraiche pasta dish was delicious. It was a positive experience all round giving him back some of the things that lockdown has taken; control, decision making and independence. There may be no more fruits to harvest from the orchard, but the fruit freezer is bursting with whole fruits and stewed fruits, and all that is left in the potager are weeds and Jerusalem Artichokes. Despite the challenges of the weather, it was a pretty good year harvest wise. Our diet has shifted, winter vegetables have once again become the norm, and although this is not my favourite time of year, there is something so robust about celeriac, cauliflower, turnip and butternut squash that you know they won’t let you down. My soup pot is back in residence on the stove, every day a subtle difference to the flavour combinations, but each bowl offering a warming, hearty lunch packed full of vegetables and pulses. This lockdown the weather is only likely to get worse so finding ways to get some fresh air are more important than ever. My plan is to do as much of our fresh produce shopping as close to home as possible and make the journeys by bike.

36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

We have the bikes, the passion for cycling and panniers that can carry up to twenty kilos each. We are also lucky enough to have the ability to buy bread, cakes, eggs, honey, goat’s cheese, sausages, meats, fruits and vegetables all within ten kilometres from home, from a number of different producers. Shopping locally has never been so easy, nor felt so important, for the local economy and our health. Email:

Saugé Vintage Tea Room Château de Saugé One of our secret Saugé recipes especially for the Deux Sevres magazine readers. Sticky Raisin Cake One of my favourites – Not too sweet, packed with raisins and perfect with tea or coffee. Ingredients:

1 cup raisins 2 cups water ½ cup butter 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 cup white sugar ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease one 10 x 10 inch baking pan. In a large saucepan boil the raisins with the water for 10 minutes. Add the butter or margarine and let cool. In the same pan add the flour, baking soda, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and chopped nuts (optional), mix well and pour batter into a lightly greased 10x10 inch baking pan I then sprinkle with a handful of sliced Almonds. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 35 minutes. Serves 8 to 12. Enjoy Donna @ Saugé Vintage Tearoom

Château de Saugé 2 Saugé 79400 Saivres

‘Tis the Season to Drink Raw Egg Yolks and Cottage Cheese by John Sherwin


h, you’re thinking, the old boy’s gone crazy in lockdown. The strain of maintaining his 100% success rate in putting off domestic chores, priding himself on the ingenuity and innate plausibility of his excuses, finally got to him. Couldn’t hack it. Now he’s probably just painting the same bit of wall, over and over, a twisted fixed half smile and drool dripdropping into the Dulux, cruel reminders of what had been a beautiful and vibrant visage. He’s slipped back into infancy, bless, so you wish that Santa could bring him, along with the obligatory tangerine, a new set of marbles in his Christmas stocking, for he has by any estimation lost those he had left. Fear not, my friends (although I appreciate your concern). Most marbles present and correct. All chores left undone. Situation normal. No, I take as the text for my sermon today the words of the blessed P.J. O’Rourke, American wit and commentator: “There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmas time. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them.” Well, not on my watch. I am here to guide you through the festive season, to give you a little tinsel teaser here, a bouncy bauble there, a serious slurp on the sofa where Aunty is snoring off her one-toomany. And all in the best possible taste. We need to talk about champagne. Don’t. Unless you have the spare shekels to shell out on a vintage champagne (i.e. one with the date on the bottle), just don’t. If all you want is festive bubbles, you’ll be paying at least three times more than you need to. Why? Because there’s the word ‘Champagne’ on the label and you’re supposed to buy (literally) into their world. If you really want Champagne (place) champagne (product), find the letters RM on the label. Récoltant Manipulant means a guy who grows his own grapes and makes his own wine, i.e. he cares and has a real passion for what he sells. Otherwise, buy a sparkler from the Loire, or Alsace, or Burgundy. If it has ‘méthode traditionnelle’ on the label then it’s been made exactly like champagne but sells at a fraction of the price. White wine matters. How many times do you hear ‘I’ll have the white’ as opposed to ‘I’ll have a red – what have you got?’ It seems to be a given that white wines are deemed interchangeable whereas reds are more complex, more mysterious, somehow more worthy of respect. Not so. (I was going to say ‘balderdash’ or something similar but thought better of it). A good white wine is a thing of beauty. If, as an entrée, you’re going with (1) oysters, or (2) shellfish/other seafood, or (3) a light fish dish, then (1) muscadet, (2) viognier, or (3) a white Burgundy are called for. All very different, all with something to say for themselves. So to the main event, the roast and all its trimmings. In those few words lies the problem: there’s a lot of stuff going on . Unless you’ve been brainwashed into veganism, in which case you’ll be in a corner knitting yoghurt anyway, there will be juicy meat and fat and starch and sprouts and parsnips and peas and coils of bacon and chipolatas and bread sauce and, and… you get my drift… on your plate. And gravy, beautiful gravy. A lot of cloying flavours. You’ll need something to cut through, but with more body than the thin blade of a plainly acidic white.

Whenever I think of roast meat I think of a lovely, fruity Beaujolais. This is always a cheerful wine so for that reason alone is perfect for the festive season, but it also has enough flavour to compete with (and complement) the aforementioned stuff. But be careful – not all Beaujolais are made equal. Avoid Beaujolais Nouveau: this is marketing schtick and an apology for a wine. Most serious Beaujolais folk are rather embarrassed by it. Go for one of the ‘crus’, i.e. the top of the range. I would recommend the areas of Brouilly, Juliénas or Chiroubles, but any of the ten crus will do nicely. And even at the top of the quality pyramid, the prices will surprise you, in a good way. For the cheese, I can do no better than to go traditional with port: a vintage ideally, but tawny is fine. Assuming you too are going trad and serving a real Christmas pudding (which of course you started making in September), I suggest a Banyuls, a vin doux naturel (VDN). A VDN is where the fermentation of a normal wine has been stopped by the addition of neutral grape spirit, raising the alcohol level and leaving natural sweetness. The red version from the Banyuls area, way down south near the Spanish border, smells of raisins, coffee, stewed fruit and almonds. Doesn’t that sound the perfect accompaniment? If you really do want raw eggs and cottage cheese to feature on your Christmas drinks trolley, then I offer for your delectation the Prairie Oyster and the Chunky Monkey. I give only scant detail of the Chunky Monkey as I’m a sensitive creature. Shake Kahlua coffee liqueur and chocolate syrup and slowly mix in the desired amount of cottage cheese. The italics are a direct quote from a reliable source as I don’t want you to think I really have lost my marbles. Serve cold. Or plaster it on an external wall. Or knock it over and blame the mess on the dog. The Prairie Oyster is a classic hangover cure or, as I prefer to think of it, being force fed castor oil for having been a naughty boy. The trick is not to look at it, so while concentrating on the Queen’s Speech or some other seasonal inanity get someone else to carefully put an egg yolk (unbroken is vital) in a whisky tumbler, to which they add a shot of vodka, a dash of vinegar and another of tabasco, a teaspoon each of Worcestershire sauce and tomato ketchup, a little salt and pepper. Drink in one go without thinking – you shouldn’t find this difficult as that’s what got you in trouble in the first place. Merry Christmas! JS John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020| 37



ust a couple of quick ideas to brighten up your home and add a personal touch to gifts.

Festive Pot Pourri You will need ... • 1 apple • 1 orange • Baking pan • Parchment paper • About 20 small pinecones • 1 cup star anise pods • ½ cup chopped cinnamon sticks Cut the apple and orange horizontally into 5mm slices and lay them out to dry for a day. The next day, lay the slices on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Bake at 110ºC for about three hours. Turn off the oven, open the door and let the fruit slices cool.

by Lynne Wigmore

Paper Baubles Cut out 8 circles from craft paper or thick wrapping paper. Cookie cutters are ideal to trace around. Fold each piece in half and then glue one half to another half of a folded circle.

Continue gluing the folded circles together until you have glued 4 pieces. Then repeat, so that you end up with two half-ornaments. Each will have 4 pieces of paper glued together. To attach the string, cover one surface of the decoration with glue and place the ends of the string in the centre crease. Cover with some more glue and then press the second half of the decoration down firmly. Allow it to dry, placing in or under a heavy book will help. Once the glue is dried, fan out the panels of the decoration into a 3D shape.

On a large plate, combine the dried fruit with the pinecones, star anise and cinnamon. Top Tip : Put your potpourri in a glass jar and dress it up with a nice ribbon for a special gift.

Gift wrap Accessories You will need ... • Decorative paper • Glue stick • Scissors • String Cut some strips of decorative paper about 20-30cm x 3-6cm. Accordion-fold the paper strips into 2cm or 3cm panels, depending on the design you like and the effect you want to achieve. Glue the inside panels (the non-decorative sides) of your accordions. Leave to dry. Draw the shape you want on one side of the accordion – a semicircle for a ball or a diagonal line for a Christmas tree, for example. Cut along the line with scissors to create the 3D half shape. Wrap your gifts and glue on your decorations. If you made balls, you could attach a string along the present, so they look as if they are hanging. Top tip : Can also be used to customise greetings cards. 38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

Simple Embroidery Hoop Style Wreath You will need • Embroidery hoop • Coloured twine • Gardening twine (or similar) • Real or artificial winter greenery • Scrap piece hessian, jute or ribbon • Scissors • Glue gun (optional) First, wrap the coloured twine around the hoop with a gap between loops of no more than 1cm. Then secure the ends of the twine with a simple knot. Lay out your arrangement of greenery until you are happy with the placement and then, using gardening twine, tie small pieces of greenery to the bottom-right edge of the hoop. Make a bow from scraps of hessian (if available) or from

ribbon. Thread a length of the coloured twine through the knot on the front of the bow and then tie in a bow as well. Finally secure the double bow to the hoop with gardening twine (or a dot of glue) and then hang completed wreath by a length of twine.

Modern colour themed Trees You will need • Colour co-ordinated craft paper • A few beads • Glue • Jewellery making wire (fine garden wire will do) Make and cut out a template of a Christmas tree. Think of this as one or more triangles, overlaid. On your decorative paper, trace around the template. Cut out eight tree shapes and fold in half along a vertical centre line with the decorated side inwards. Glue together seven of the cut out pieces. Before glueing the final (eighth) tree piece in, place a length of fine wire in the “centre” of the tree with enough sticking out of the top to accommodate your bead(s) PLUS 1cm. Glue the wire into place.

Marshmallow Snowman (And finally, one for the children ...) • • • • • • • •

Large marshmallows pretzel sticks or chocolate sticks chocolate chips smarties or similar style sweets, red liquorice laces white icing black food colouring A couple of toothpicks

Using icing as glue, paste three marshmallows together and let dry. You can use a cake pop stick or kebab stick to hold them together, but this is not suitable if young children are going to make or eat them. Paint eyes and mouth with black food colouring and a toothpick. Use a dab of icing to attach chocolate chip nose. Make a hole with a toothpick and gently press in stick arms and paste on buttons. Wrap a liquorice lace around as a scarf.

Glue the final tree piece in place so that it joins piece one and piece seven - your tree is now “tree shaped”. String beads onto the top of the wire and fold over the top of the wire to secure them.

Gift Tag Garland Plain gift tags or shipping labels can be decorated to make a lovely garland. Decorate each tag or label by adding pieces of ribbon, bows, buttons, pieces of last year’s Christmas cards, the list is endless and then thread onto decorative twine to create unique and funky bunting. They can also be used as individual gifts tags tailored to match the present or personality of the recipient.

Have a loveloyliday. Christmas h Lynne x The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020| 39

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40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 45



t last, we can now cancel top up health insurance without having to wait for its anniversary date. Until now, with some of them, you had to send a registered letter two months prior to the anniversary date. What a relief. An MP called Gilles LE GENDRE, and some of his colleagues, came up with a new law back in February 2019 (yes, it takes that long for laws to come into place). This text has finally been accepted and is coming into force from 01/12/2020. It is called Loi 2019-733 du 14 Juillet 2019, and it states that you can cancel your top up health insurance at any time as long as you have had the contract at least one full year. So, this an opportunity for me to re-explain how to cancel insurances in France. Note also that in France, insurance contracts are renewed automatically!! I know, IN ENGLAND, you just phone them and tell them you want to cancel and that is it! But surprise, surprise, YOU ARE IN FRANCE and we like paperwork! So, here is an explanation on how to cancel your insurances.

letter saying you wish to stop the insurance. Do note that some companies actually send the renewal notice at the last minute, even sometimes after the actual renewal date so you think it is too late! But it is the date on the envelope (post office stamp) that counts and not the date on the letter so always keep the envelope when you choose this method. This method does not work for professional insurances such as public liability or décennale insurance or even with some health top up. It always works for cars and houses.

2. Loi HAMON and New law for health top up: Since January 2015, you can cancel your car and house insurance anytime you want as long as you have had the contract at least one year. From 1st December 2020, you can also do it for top up health insurance. This new law does not work for professional insurances.

3. How to cancel using loi HAMON: i) House insurance as an owner and top up health insurance: You simply have to notify your insurer with a letter and the cancellation will be effective one month and 3 days after receiving the letter (email is possible if you can be identified properly with it). You can also ask your new insurer to do it on your behalf. We prefer to do it for you so we are sure it is done properly, not that we don’t trust you, but we prefer to make sure. 1. Anniversary date / Date d’échéance: The important thing to find out about your insurance contract is the “date d’échéance” which is the anniversary date of your contract. Be careful as, sometimes, some companies will automatically put 1st of January as an anniversary date, so it is not always the date when you took out the contract originally. You should find this date on the original contract you signed or on the renewal notice you receive once a year. Normally, when you take out any insurances, it is for one year minimum (there are exceptions (see chapter 4). So, you need to see it through until the anniversary date. Before the Loi HAMON, the only way you could cancel was by sending a registered letter two months prior the anniversary date saying you wish to stop the insurance on its next anniversary (in two months). Be careful, with some companies the notice period for health top up insurance can even be three months. The other way is called Loi CHATEL and with this method you had 20 days from receiving the renewal notice to send a registered 46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

ii) Car and house (as a lodger) insurance: The cancellation must be done by your new insurer! Hopefully ME! Because car insurances and house insurances for lodgers are a legal obligation, the French government decided not to trust people. Therefore, to make sure that they are still insured, the cancellation can only be made by the new insurer.

4. Exceptions: Obviously, there are exceptions which allow you to stop your insurances without using the methods above. If you sell your car, you can cancel the insurance by showing your certificate of sale (certificate de cession de vehicle can be downloaded from internet) and the insurance will stop on the date on the proof of sale (and you get reimbursed). If you sell the car abroad, always get a proof of sale of some sort. Without paperwork, it is illegal for

an insurance company to stop a car insurance contract before its anniversary date. If the car stops working, a proof from the garage or mechanic can do (it does with us). If you move back to the UK, we need a proof of insurance from the UK. If you sell your house, you can stop the house insurance with the paperwork given to you by the Notaire on the day of the sale. For the health top up, it can be stopped if you move abroad and stop being covered by the French system. In this case, they can issue you a letter saying you are not in the French system anymore and the insurance is stopped. Otherwise, a proof from the UK showing that you are covered under the UK system should be enough or with us (because we are nice) with a proof of a UK address. For professional insurance, you can cancel with a proof from RSI or MSA saying you have shut down the business. Otherwise you can only cancel with two months notice prior to the anniversary date. Basically, when there is nothing to be insured and you can prove it, the insurance can be stopped.

Conclusion: Hopefully now you should all be willing to switch your insurances to ME and BH Assurances (your favourite insurance broker in the region) especially when you know that I take care of all the cancellation for you. So, if you are happy with my quotes, I will do it all for you and you have nothing to do. So, no excuse for waiting for the anniversary date to get cheaper/ better insurances. Contact me. And remember to check out our web site en for all my previous articles and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: “Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt” And don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on 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


n the last issue, we talked about getting the basics of your Facebook page mapped out and to start thinking as a consumer, not as the seller. This is the mindset that you need to have whenever you are interacting as your business, and one which will help you grow your page and increase engagement. I briefly mentioned your ‘brand’, the way in which people see and perceive your business. Your brand is both the way your business looks, the logo and colours you use for instance, and the distinctiveness of your product. In real terms, the John Deere brand is instantly recognisable by its yellow/green colours and Volvo is identified with safety. As with so many aspects of growing your business, they need not be expensive or intimidating. You can go to a site such as and get a designer to do a logo and basic brand elements for as little as 50 Euros. Once you are happy with how your facebook page looks, it’s time to start concentrating on content. If you are starting a page from scratch, I always recommend putting some posts up before you go ‘live’; in the case of facebook that means inviting people to like your page. If you are upgrading an existing page, it will help bring existing followers up to date with what you are doing. Post smart, not fast. If you post every day for the sake of posting, followers will be put off by engaging with you and liking, sharing or commenting on your posts. They may even resort to ignoring your page. When you post, add content in a manner that informs the reader and gives them something they didn’t know before they read it. If you are a restaurant, don’t always post that you serve fish and chips, maybe post a quirky story about why fish and chips used to be served in newspaper, or an informative piece about what types of vinegar or other condiments you could try for a change. Imagine listening to a radio station; if they play the same song all the time you’ll reach for the dial and listen to another station. Project, don’t promote. People don’t want to be ‘sold’ to all the time, they want to feel as if they are a part of something. Facebook gives consumers the ability to interact with you and other customers and promoting this back-and-forth as an important part of the experience, the brand. Of course, if you have a special offer or a specific product to sell you must do so, but you need to be mindful of wanting to give as well as take. Plan your posts and post to your plan. To make your life a lot easier, and to avoid panic-posting, think ahead and look at events that are coming up that may affect your business. If you are a florist you will want to do a promotion for Valentine’s Day, for example. In this case you can schedule posts in the lead-up. Start off with a post on Jan 14th about how Valentine’s day came about, followed a couple of days later by which flowers you will have in the lead-up to the day. The following week put up a post about some romantic gestures with another post at the end of the week about how people can order flowers from you in time for Feb 14th. You can do all this as far ahead as Dec 14th by using the schedule feature on your facebook page. Next issue we will look deeper into some more ways to make your facebook page work for you. In the meantime, we all look forward to seeing some new businesses appear on our timelines. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 47

What you need to think about to help future-proof your finances

by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks


ot much is certain as we head into the final stretch of 2020. With no end in sight for the global coronavirus pandemic and still no final word on Brexit, we can expect things to remain unsettled for some time. While no-one can predict exactly what is around the corner, there are some sensible steps you can take to make your financial position as secure as possible. 2021 will begin with the UK’s full departure from the EU. While this should have no immediate impact for Britons lawfully settled in France, there may be longer term effects for the unprepared. For example, some UK savings and investments could attract a higher tax bill from 2021. In any case, your circumstances evolve over time. Review your financial situation at least once a year, looking at how your investments, assets, pensions, tax and estate planning are structured and can best work together. The current climate presents challenges to preserving and growing your wealth. We have had a prolonged period of low interest rates and the pandemic is generating economic and market uncertainty. There is more global tax scrutiny than ever. At times like this, careful planning plays an important role in securing your long-term financial security. While all investments carry risk, a suitably diversified portfolio can help manage risk within your comfort level. Establish a clear and objective view of your risk tolerance to determine the investment approach that best suits you.

Most people will benefit from an independent and expert review of their finances. It is difficult to look at your broad financial situation from a truly objective point of view or fully understand the crossborder tax implications. As the goalposts often change, it’s easy to get DIY tax planning wrong. A professional financial adviser can take time and use relevant tools to thoroughly understand your unique situation, needs and objectives to tailor tax-efficient solutions. If you have a relationship with a UK-based financial adviser or hold a British bank account or investment product, check if they can legally provide services to you from 1 January. As things stand, many UK financial businesses are set to lose their license to operate within the EU/EEA once the Brexit transition period ends. An adviser with local knowledge and expertise in cross-border tax planning can help ensure your wealth is held as tax efficiently as possible for France, recommending locally-compliant solutions that also offer other advantages, such as multi-currency options and estate planning flexibility. Ultimately, the sooner you set up a suitable, long-term strategy to protect your wealth, the sooner you can have peace of mind about your financial future in France. This article should not be construed as providing any personalised taxation or investment advice. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

Time to think about New Year resolutions for a post-Brexit world? This may not be a normal Christmas but, even as things hopefully improve in the New Year, living in a post-Brexit world will bring its own challenges in France in 2021.

Will your UK adviser be able to advise you next year? Are you paying too much tax on your investment income? Should you have assets in Sterling, Euros or both? Do you still have options for UK pension funds – if so, which is best for you? Can you reduce inheritance taxes for your heirs?

Talk to the people who know

05 49 75 07 24

At Blevins Franks we specialise in strategic financial planning from a holistic perspective and provide detailed personalised advice. Contact us to make an appointment, whether face to face, by video or phone. We have been advising clients for 45 years and will be here for you in 2021 and into the future, whatever it brings.









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.

48 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020

Ask Amanda

by Amanda Johnson


s the end of 2020 approaches, I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who reads the articles within the Deux-Sèvres magazine and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. 2020 has been a challenging time for most; however, it has also been a time where new skills have been learned, enabling us to connect to our customers, colleagues and loved ones remotely. Some have spent the time rediscovering the joys of growing fruit and vegetables and reinvigorating old potagers, experimenting in the kitchen and re-evaluating what is most important to us, such as protecting our loved ones, or those less fortunate than ourselves. As I write this article, negotiations continue between the EU and UK regarding the final shape of Brexit. If you have any questions regarding how your financial situation might be altered under potential changes to regulations, do not hesitate to speak to your regulated financial adviser. I look forward to seeing and speaking to you all in 2021 and please remember to stay safe over the festive period. Merry Christmas Amanda Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our roadshow events or speak to me directly, please call or email and I will glad to help. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports, or recommendations. Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43 E-mail:


The Spectrum IFA Group is fully regulated to offer financial advice in France and we do not charge for reviews, reports or recommendations we provide.

DÉCHETTERIES Up to date information about opening hours, restrictions, etc for your local déchetterie? Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46

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

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 49


by Joanna Leggett

lovely commune of St Loup Lamairé is a gem hidden in TLouphetranquil countryside. It’s home to ancient villages, including St sur Thouet and St Loup Lamairé itself, which justly deserves its place on the register of les petites cités de caractère. Charm abounds with winding cobbled streets edged with half timbered houses dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries bedecked throughout with flowers and roses tumbling off old stone walls.

St Loup sur Thouet is bounded by the river, which gently meanders past tree lined banks. Its glorious moated château, with formal gardens, is set within a bend of the river. Steeped in history the long-distance walking route, unromantically named the GR36, has guided pilgrims and walkers through here en route from Ouistreham on the Normandy coast down to the Spanish border for almost a millenia. Normally it hosts a wonderful Christmas market each year – roll on next year when hopefully we’ll walk through its ancient streets to celebrate again. To the south west is the man-made lake Le Cébron, ideal spot for summer water sports, angling and bird watching – a place for all seasons. Not far from here is Louin ten minutes’ drive from St Loup Lamairé with all amenities where we’ve this fully restored stone home (115640) on the market for €333,900. This really should be described as the ultimate money spinner with two independent gîtes as well as a B&B suite and opportunity for a second all with excellent rental record. Solar panels generate additional income. Fully renovated there’s

nothing to be done, all set in a fenced secure garden with room should you wish to install a pool, just move in and start earning! Currently used for holidays is this modern two storeyed home in Chillou (116584). Tranquillity abounds here as there’s no passing traffic yet it’s only ten minutes from St Loup Lamairé. Sit outside on the upstairs balcony or downstairs terrace overlooking the lovely river valley and gorgeous countryside and rebalance. Set over two floors each offers two bedrooms, kitchen, sitting and dining – it could be your home with letting potential or just grab all to make one spacious home - €95,700. Lastly, by no means least, is this absolute bargain within walking distance of St Loup Lamairé (113590). This substantial property, set in a small hamlet, requires some renovation but much of the hard work has already been done, it currently offers two bedrooms, living, kitchen, dining and a bakehouse! There’s a large attic and outside a garden, orchard and outbuildings – it’s recently been reduced to just €21,000 and did I mention the fantastic views over the river Thouet? All these properties offer peace and a safe haven for all seasons during this challenging period we’re living through – here’s to a safer 2021. Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at



€181,440 HAI

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Ref. 117716 - Traditional 3 bedroom property at

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outbuildings, garden and 1 bedroom cottage.

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VAS1427 VERNOUX EN GATINE 116 050€ Spacious village house with potential gîte Large garden Net price 110 000€ Agents fees 5.5%

VSA1330 PAMPROUX 448 705€ Beautiful character house with pool and outbuildings, 5 Beds 4 Baths 1.23ha Net Price 430 000€ Agents fees 4.35%

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05 56 71 36 59 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2020 | 51

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