The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - March 2021 Issue

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English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas

10th Anniversary Issue (See centre pages)

Also this month ..... Bulletin Board Book Club Birds Bees Bed Bells and Booze

Issue 114, March 2021

Welcome to Issue 114 of

This Month’s Advertisers

‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ magazine.

have always quite enjoyed the way February whistled by, W what with it being a short month e

AND both our birthdays being in the early part of March. This year though, we have a magazine to produce in a much shorter time AND we are both turning ... well let’s just say it’s a ‘reasonably large number’.

As well as celebrating our own major milestones this month, we are also celebrating the 10th anniversary of The DSM. In this issue, and for the next few months, we will be looking back at some of the articles from the first few magazines. Having not been in France at that time, it has been interesting to read through the older issues and it is quite amazing to see how many people involved in the first issue are still writing, advertising or helping in other ways. You may also notice that the WHAT’S ON section has been replaced by our BULLETIN BOARD. This is largely due to the fact that there is very little ‘ON’ at present and is an effort to maintain some kind of community advertising. Let us know what you think and what you would like to see on these pages. Meteorologically at least, Spring is here. With it comes new life in the gardens, longer days, warmer weather and, hopefully, a return to some normality in life generally. Hope you enjoy this month’s offering. Whatever you do ... Stay safe

Tony & Lyn


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

Contents Bulletin Board Technology À La Carte Health, Beauty and Fitness Travel A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Home and Garden Book Club HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Our Furry Friends Take a Break La Vie En France On The Road Clubs and Associations Food and Drink 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 8 10 13 16 18 20 26 28 30 31 34 38 41 42 44 50 54

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) Arbes et Abeilles (Plant nursery) ARB French Property Ark 79 Charity Shop Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Autentico (Paint specialists) BEAUX VILLAGES IMMOBILIER Belle Fleur - Natural Insect Repellant & Moisturiser BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management BM Construction Charente Assistance (Admin/Hand Holding) Château de Saugé Vintage Tea Room Chateau Jarno Pépinière 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 Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) Glendee Property Services Hallmark Electricité Hiley Location digger hire ,and groundworks HMJ (Renovation service) H & R Building Services Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork Joanne Goodall - Cleaning, House-sitting, Odd Jobs John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic Jon - the carpetman J W Services Keith Banks Pool Services KJ Painting and decorating Leggett Immobilier 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 Mr Fix It (Garden Maintenance) Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Paul Starsmeare (Mechanic) Pinnacle Garden Care Poitiers Biard Airport RJC Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Ross Hendry Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) Shabby Shutters - Shutter repair and painting Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removals & Storage 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 French House Satellite TV The Hope Association Tim Électricien 79 Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini(Translation Services)

55 46 2 46 51 47 25 55 30 51 23 55 14 52 50 46 35 7 22 48 7 47 47 45 14 46 49 45 35 39 47 45 48 46 46 48 47 22 39 23 47 44 49 54 8 49 46 45 44 39 8 23 51 49 15 39 25 2 2 49 25 9 23 44 49 39 49 47 47 44 35 39 39 35 44 30 45 35 23 35

© Anthony and Lynda Wigmore 2021. 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: mars 2021 - Tirage: 2500 exemplaires. Siret: 830 076 345 00016 ISSN: 2115-4848

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 3

Bulletin Board The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days

2021... Fri 1 January Sun 4 April Mon 5 April Sat 1 May Sat 8 May Thu 13 May Sun 23 May Mon 24 May Wed 14 July Sun 15 August Mon 1 November Thu 11 November Sat 25 December

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

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:

t yours PLUS a Fancy a takeaway? Ge ese places ... copy of The DSM at th

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Tel: 06 23 25 48 36 /pg/fryertucks1

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4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

MR T’S F RIT Regular venues a E R I E • t: Aulnay

d • Ballans 1 e Saintonge 1702 4 • Beauvais 7160 • St Jean D Sur Matha 1749 • La Chape ’Angély 17400 0 • Sainte So lle 16140 • Sauzé-Va line Ark 79 Even 79190 ussais Hope 79 Sts 79120 hop • Private ca tering Te

l: 06 02 2 2 44 74 www.fry ing4u2nit

Le Regal’on

79130 Allonne esday to Takeaways available Tu h .30 17 to Saturday 12h ips, Fish & chips, pie & churger & kebab & chips, hamb chips, pizzas Order in advance

Christie’s Tea R ooms

86160 Gençay A selection of Ho me-Made Cakes to Take Away available every da y are: Scones, Rich Fruit Cake, Lemon Dr izzle Cupcakes plus one or more of ... Chocolate Brow nies / Brioche Br ead Pudding / Almond, Cherry & White Chocola te Cupcakes. Order in advanc e by phone: 05.49 .50.61.94 or email: christies.g encay@hotmail .com

Chateau de Saugé

79400 Saivres Traditional Afternoon Tea in a box with a bottle of our Artisan Blonde Beer for only €20. Homemade Cookie Bags - 4 large cook ies for €6 (Toblerone, White Chocolate & Cranberry, Triple Chocolate etc) Cupcake Boxes - 6 for €10. 12 for €18 Also available for Birthday Cakes or special occasion cakes. Please contact us to enquire/order: Tel:

Café Civ


ray service 86400 Civ & delivery ay aw e k here: Friday ta menu is take out om/menu Our full c afecivray. ay for www.lec Wednesd orders by We take k up. or email Friday pic ook messenger eb c a F y b All ray@gm lecafeciv

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


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


Don’t forget the clocks go FORWARD at 2am on Sunday 28th March


On This Day ... March

March 1 St David’s Day. The exact date of St David’s death is not certain but it is generally believed to be on 1st March in either 589AD or 601AD. March 9, 1959 The first Barbie doll goes on display at the American Toy Fair in New York City. Eleven inches tall, with cascading blond hair, Barbie was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. March 10, 1876 The first discernible speech is transmitted over a telephone system when inventor Alexander Graham Bell summons his assistant in another room by saying, “Mr. Watson, come here; I want you.” March 12, 1894 Coke is sold in bottles for the first time. Originally developed as a non-addictive substitute for morphine, then marketed as a non-alcoholic “temperance drink,” it was previously available as a soda fountain drink. March 14, 1879 Albert Einstein is born, the son of a Jewish electrical engineer in Ulm, Germany. Einstein’s theories of special and general relativity drastically altered man’s view of the universe, and his work in particle and energy theory helped make possible quantum mechanics and, ultimately, the atomic bomb.


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) 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 Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600

March 21 1804 French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte enacts a new legal framework for France, known as the “Napoleonic Code”. The Napoleonic Code made the authority of men over their families stronger, deprived women of any individual rights, and reduced the rights of illegitimate children. March 23, 1839 The initials “O.K.” are first published on the second page of The Boston Morning Post. Meant as an abbreviation for “oll korrect,” a popular slang misspelling of “all correct” at the time, OK steadily made its way into the everyday speech of Americans and then spread worldwide. March 24 1603 After 44 years of rule, Queen Elizabeth I of England dies, and King James VI of Scotland ascends to the throne, uniting England and Scotland under a single British monarch.

March 15 44 BC Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome, is stabbed to death in the Roman Senate house by 60 conspirators led by Marcus Junius Brutus and Gaius Cassius Longinus. The day later become known as the Ides of March.

March 25, 1957 France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg sign a treaty in Rome establishing the European Economic Community (EEC), also known as the Common Market.

March 17, 461 St Patrick, Christian missionary, bishop and apostle of Ireland, dies at Downpatrick, Ireland. Although he supposedly rid Ireland of snakes during the fifth century A.D. there is no evidence that snakes ever existed there.

March 31 1889 The Eiffel Tower is dedicated in Paris. The elevators were not yet completed so Gustave Eiffel ascended the tower’s stairs and raised the French tricolor on the structure’s flagpole. Fireworks were then set off from the second platform.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 5

International Day of .....

... La Francophonie (20th March)

by Beryl Brennan


ike me, you were probably brought up on British history and how we conquered the globe. In fact Britain has invaded all but 22 countries in the world and at the height of the empire, almost a quarter of the atlas was coloured pink, illustrating the extent of British rule. But we weren’t the only ones to invade other countries and impose our law and language on them. From the 16th century onwards, the colonial empire of France was one of the largest in history and throughout the world there are now nearly 300 million French speakers. Of course, it’s not always their first language, but then neither is English the first language in countries with millions where English is spoken. And did you know French is also one of the six official languages of UNESCO and one of only two working ones. France began colonizing the Americas during the 16th century when French fisherman and boats sailed to the Grand Bank off Newfoundland. Then came Arcadia, which became Nova Scotia and Quebec. From here the French turned their attention to the West Indies and the South American coast. French Guyana became part of the French Empire in 1624, followed by Saint Kitts in 1625 (it was ceded to the English by the Treaty of Utrecht in 1713), Guadeloupe and Martinique in 1635 and Saint Lucia in 1650. The most important Caribbean colonial possession is Haiti, originally Sainte Dominique and the Dominican Republic was given to France by Spain in 1795. At the same time as colonising North America and the West Indies, in 1624 the French began trading along the coast of Senegal in West Africa and formed the French East India Company in 1664 to compete with the British and Dutch trading in the East Indies. After 1870, the French colonised much of North, West and Central Africa. In 1830, French troops captured Algiers and established protectorates in Tunisia and Morocco, countries which didn’t gain independence until 1955/56. 1870 saw the establishment of the French Third Republic, the system of government adopted by France. This was the period when France used its base in Cochinchina to establish French Indochina in 1887, which encompassed Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. So there we have it – France was as good at invading overseas territories as the British, with the idea of ‘improving all aspects of life in those countries’!

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

So what is La Francophonie? It’s an international community of French speaking countries which use French either as their national language, official language or working language and the idea first came about with President Léopold Séedar Senghor of Senegal and representatives of 21 other countries who signed the Treaty of Niamey. This created the ACCT – Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique - on March 20 1970. Unsurprisingly African countries played a leading role with the presidents of Senegal, Tunisia and Niger drafting the original Charter. The ACCT was originally open to those countries where French was either the official language or the main minority language, which included many African countries, the Far East and North America. The ACCT changed its name in 1998 to the Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie and in 2005 it became the Organisationale de la Francophonie, expanding to include countries having little connection with the French language but interested in preserving it, including Bulgaria and Qatar! The global community of French speakers is referred to as ‘francosphere’ as well as ‘francophonie’, and encompasses private and public organisations linking French speaking countries culturally, militarily and politically. It’s motto is ‘égalité, complémentarité, solidarité’, mirroring the French motto of ‘liberté, églité, fraternité’ and encourages members to work together culturally, scientifically, economically, and legally. This year the theme of International Francophonie Day will be ‘The French language, connecting action’ and events which it is hoped would run for a whole week. It’s co-ordinated by the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Education. Plans were that bookstores libraries, schools, universities, museums and theatres would host events. Sadly the pandemic has put that on hold. President Macron has made the promotion of the French language and culture a priority; French is the second most-studied language in the world, second most important language of international news, third most important in the business world and fourth most important on the Internet. It’s also the fifth most spoken language on the planet and along with English is the only other language spoken on all five continents. Last year the Minister of State for Tourism, French Nationals Abroad and Francophonie met with the Secretary-General of the OIF to plan the 18th Francophonie Summit in Djerba in November 2021 marking the organisation’s 50th anniversary. Amongst subjects planned for discussion are social protection and taxation of French nationals living abroad as well as the network of French schools abroad. As with all the other events planned for the International Day of La Francophonie, this is currently on hold.

If you’d like to see which countries make up all the member states, click on the link below. /wiki/Member_states_of_the_ Organisation_internationale_de_la_Francophonie

View from the Vendée by Karen Taylor

March 2021 ‘Comment ça va avec le gîte?’ asked our neighbour a few days ago. Difficult to say, I replied; we eventually managed to rebook our cancelled weeks last year, and we already have plenty of bookings for this summer (mainly from Brits whose French holiday was put on hold 12 months ago) BUT we take nothing for granted now, having experienced the vagaries of 2020. Nevertheless, like every other gîte owner at this time of year, we’re making a list of all the jobs to be done at the bungalow before we (hopefully!) reopen for business in mid-March. The list includes all the usual suspects - general maintenance work, refreshing paintwork, cleaning window frames & shutters, tidying unruly shrubs & bushes in the garden, etc, etc. To be honest, we quite like working on the gîte at the moment - if nothing else, it gets us out of the house! Seriously though, it gives us a sense of normality which I think we all need at the moment.

Château de Saugé 2 Saugé 79400 Saivres

Chambre d'hôtes, Gites, Vintage Tea Room, Event Space, Crafters Barn Château de Saugé Artisan Blonde Beer and Stout available in a pack of 3 – only Euro 10

Traditional Afternoon Tea in a Box available now - Only 20 Euro including a bottle of our own Artisan Blonde Beer – Perfect Gift for Mother’s Day Cookie Bags available – many flavours available only 6 euro a bag.

Email: Tel: 06 29 15 36 55


GREAT GIFTS & BEAUTIFUL CARDS Tapestry, Candles, Mugs, Socks, Tins, Puzzles, Jewellery, Scarves, Books … ideal for MOTHER’S DAY (14th March)

and EASTER (early April) Hunting for Calorie-Free Eggs? and a Cracking Card? We’re ‘Pâqued’ to the Rafters!



TUES-SAT: 10am - 12 noon : 3pm - 6pm more details on our Website & Facebook :

Once we’ve sorted the gîte out, I guess we’ll have to tackle the annual nettoyage de printemps at home. Having said that, I’m really not sure what actually needs to be done. That’s strange, I hear you say, surely everyone needs an annual spring clean, but my guess is that you’re in exactly the same position as we are. In Confinement #1 we took advantage of the amazing weather and cut, pruned & mowed everything in sight (which resulted in multiple trips to the déchetterie when they reopened!); then in Confinement #2 we cleaned, painted & threw out everything in sight (which also resulted in multiple trips to the déchetterie - do we qualify for a loyalty card?). Let’s just hope that we don’t have a third Confinement - we’d have nothing left to do! So let’s stay positive - sit yourself down, make yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy reading this month’s edition of Deux-Sèvres Monthly; then you know that all’s well in the world!

Karen runs a gîte business on the Vendée coast. You can contact her on: GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie

Siret: 47876969800018


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 7

Technology Satellite TV - Freesat


ello again. Back for more are you? I can only thank you. By the time you read this, we should be based in our new home in the Deux-Sevrés, having relocated from the Haute-Vienne. By the middle of the month we hope to be fully operational and ready to assist you with your satellite TV needs and any of those other little TV issues you might be having. Please note though, we do not service terrestrial aerial installations. Some of you will know already that one of my bugbears is the confusion between Freesat and Freeview. They are not the same thing at all. A ‘Freeview’ box will not work here in France for the reception of UK TV. Freeview is a terrestrial service (via an aerial) and whilst it may work in the very north of France, we are way too far south here to receive the signal. So, this is why we like Freesat. Created by both the BBC and ITV, it is a free satellite service (so no monthly subscription) offering over 170 TV & radio channels, currently with over 20 in HD. It is by far the most popular service with us Brits. Freesat offers single tuner and twin-tuner boxes. Single tuner boxes require just one cable from your satellite dish. However, they do not offer the ability to record onto a hard drive. This is where Freesat+ comes in. Like Sky+, it offers a built-in hard drive to enable you to record one channel whilst you watch another. You ideally need two cables from your satellite dish however. Like Sky+, you can also ‘pause’ live TV. The hard drive will begin recording when you press pause ensuring you don’t miss a second of Midsomer Murders. ITV3 really is great. Contrary to what you may have been told, it is possible to have a Sky subscription service here in France. You’re not supposed to, but thousands of Brits across Europe have one. We do not supply Sky boxes or packages but will be happy to discuss your requirements and point you in the right direction. French satellite TV mostly takes the form of either Canal+, which is effectively the French version of the Sky subscription service, TNTSAT or Fransat. The latter two offer fewer channels but do not require a monthly subscription. All services offer the main channels which are also available from a terrestrial aerial. They do not use the same satellite as used for UK TV reception, although it is possible to have UK TV and TNTSAT or Canal+ from a single dish. What about streaming services? Well, whilst services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are very popular and good for movies and TV series, they do not offer ‘live broadcast’ TV services. This means no BBC or ITV for example. It is possible to access ‘broadcast’ TV via the internet, but this is not something we offer as it is most certainly a very dark shade of grey. Some services are more reliable than others, but all are illegal. Having Sky TV via a satellite here is also not strictly kosher, but at least it’s paid for at the going rate. If you don’t tell them you’re in France, you’ll not be cut-off.

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

by Stuart Wallace

Also, please be aware that a Sky digibox without a subscription will work perfectly well for the free UK channels and is perfectly legit. So, if you have an old Sky box laying around, it might be ideal for your needs. Soundbars are a great way to boost the output from your flatscreen TV. Whilst new TVs look fantastic mounted on the wall, they leave no room for decent speakers. The audio very rarely matches the visuals. A soundbar will massively enhance your listening experience and most come with a ‘clear voice’ feature which does exactly what it suggests. Ideal for those of us who sometimes find it hard to pick out speech in certain movies for example. So, that’s it for this month. It’s a pleasure to be here (both in the magazine and the area) and we look forward to helping you if we can. Please feel free to ask if you have a question. See the advert on P44 for contact details. À bientôt on espère.


Time’s Up WhatsApp!

eeing the announcements in the press recently regarding secure messaging, prompted me to have a look to find the most secure messaging program/app. I believed Whatsapp to be the most secure messaging app available, and it still is, but recent changes in the terms and conditions of use mean that some messages may/ will be viewed for commercial reasons. Exactly what and how are not completely clear to me yet, so my curiosity was piqued. It is one of the most secure but is there a better candidate? Once I started looking into Whatsapp I was horrified at the security issues that have plagued it since it implemented end to end encryption in 2016, then Source = WhatsApp#Security_and_privacy (January 2021). WhatsApp announced update to Privacy Policy which states that WhatsApp will share user data with Facebook and its “family of companies” starting February 2021. Previously, users could opt-out of such data sharing, but the new policy removes this option. The new Privacy Policy does not apply within EU, since it is illegal under GDPR. Facebook and Whatsapp has been widely criticised for this move. The enforcement of the privacy policy has been postponed from 8th Feb to 15th May 2021. Whatsapp is owned and supported by Facebook and was revolutionary when released and its security praised, especially by the criminal classes! It was also highly criticised by law enforcement agencies worldwide for this unbreakable encryption. I have never thought of Facebook as a company I felt comfortable with, vis-a-vis security and privacy. This is also why I do not like Facebook Messenger and this has caused me to consider other options for secure messaging in the past. I have looked at others. Apple’s Facetime, Facebook’s Messenger, Skype, Telegram and even Zoom, may all be secured with additional effort but all have questionable histories in this regard. Finally I selected Signal as the most secure.

by Ross Hendry

Key features: • Does not collect data, only your phone number • Free, no ads, funded by non-profit Signal Foundation • Fully open-source • Encryption: Signal Protocol Here is what Signal say .. Share without Insecurity State-of-the-art end-to-end encryption (powered by the open source Signal Protocol) keeps your conversations secure. We can’t read your messages or listen to your calls, and no one else can either. Privacy isn’t an optional mode — it’s just the way that Signal works. Every message, every call, every time. The key to Signal is their security Protocol The Signal Protocol (formerly known as the TextSecure Protocol) is a non-federated cryptographic protocol that can be used to provide end-to-end encryption for voice calls, video calls, and instant messaging conversations. The protocol was developed by Open Whisper Systems in 2013 and was first introduced in the open-source TextSecure app, which later became Signal. (Wikipedia) Facebook, Microsoft and Google have also used the protocol, widely regarded as the gold standard in encrypted communications. I highly recommend you give it a try, the more people who sign up the better. More info here :

Signal and Whatsapp have good security services but their privacy and security differences could not be greater. Both are mobile apps, available in the Android Play Store and Apple App Store, both support cross-platform messaging, have group chat features, offer multifactor authentication, and can be used to share files and photos. They both provide encryption for texting, voice and video calls. Each of them work on Smart phones, Desktops and laptops running Apple macOS and iOS, Android, Linux, and Windows operating systems. Here is what you need to know about Signal It is an open-source development provided free of charge by the non-profit Signal Foundation. Signal’s main function is that it can send to individuals or a group fully encrypted text, video, audio and picture messages, after verifying your phone number and letting you independently verify other Signal users’ identity.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 9

À La Carte

How to get a good night’s sleep S

leep plays a key role in keeping us healthy. Sleeping well can directly affect mental and physical health. Inadequate sleep can take a serious toll on your energy, productivity, memory and even your weight. Studies linked insufficient sleep to an increased risk of obesity, with some concluding that getting less than 7–8 hours per night may increases your risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes. We tend to focus on how long we’re asleep, but sleep quality is just as important. During the night, we cycle through four stages of sleep. Stage one and stage two sleep are considered light sleep, as our bodies prepare to enter a deeper slumber. Stage three sleep is known as slow-wave sleep, when the body carries out repairs and growth. Finally, stage four or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep is when we dream. It typically takes about 90 minutes to cycle through all four stages of sleep, with time spent in REM sleep increasing as the night goes on. To wake up feeling wellrested, we must get enough of both slow-wave and REM sleep. We feel most refreshed when we wake up during the light sleep stages. By contrast, waking up during slow-wave sleep can cause

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feelings of fatigue and waking up from a vivid dream during REM sleep may be disorienting. During the later stages of the cycle our memories are consolidated, and information is processed. This means that disturbances to our sleep or having to get up in the night to go to the loo, can interrupt the cycle and one might not reach the later stages. Sleep is regulated by our circadian rhythm, an internal “body clock” affecting brain, body, and hormones, that tells us when to feel sleepy and when to feel alert. Our sleep needs and patterns change as we age, and individual needs can vary depending on several additional factors. Some people may have a circadian rhythm that is at odds with accepted conditions. For example, shift workers with a constantly changing schedule may find it difficult to keep a consistent bedtime, and their sleep may suffer as a result. Teenagers are programmed to wake up and go to sleep later, which is at odds with an early school start time. Obviously, some people are programmed to wake up earlier than others and perhaps jobs that require early wake times may cause problems for those considered “night owls”. Emerging

research also suggests that women have a shorter circadian rhythm and may require more sleep than men. So, what steps can we take to aid a restful night and wake feeling refreshed, alert, and ready to begin the day? Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone controlled by light exposure that helps regulate your sleep-wake cycle. Your brain secretes more melatonin when it’s dark making you sleep, and less when it’s light to make you more alert. However, many aspects of modern life can alter your body’s production of melatonin and shift your circadian rhythm. Exposure to daylight early in the day can help you regain a more natural circadian rhythm This improves daytime energy, as well as night-time sleep quality and duration. Have your coffee outside, for example, or eat breakfast by a sunny window. The light on your face will help you wake up more quickly. Take your work breaks outside in sunlight, exercise outside, or walk your dog during the day instead of at night. Keep curtains and blinds open during the day and try to move your desk closer to the window. If necessary, use a light therapy box. This simulates sunshine and can be especially useful during short winter days. Light during the day is beneficial, but night-time light exposure has the opposite effect. Blue light, emitted in large amounts by electronic devices, is the worst in this regard. There are apps available to block blue light on your appliances and sleep experts recommend turning off the TV and phone an hour before bed and silencing notifications. Avoid turning the overhead light on if you wake up in the middle of the night, using a nightlight instead if necessary. Caffeine has numerous benefits and just a single dose can enhance focus, energy, and sports performance. However, when consumed late in the day, caffeine stimulates your nervous system and may stop your body from naturally relaxing at night. Caffeine can stay elevated in your blood for 6–8 hours. Therefore, drinking large amounts of coffee after 3–4 p.m. is not recommended, especially if you’re sensitive to caffeine or have trouble sleeping. If you do crave a cup of coffee in the late afternoon or evening, stick with decaffeinated coffee. Similarly, smoking is another stimulant that can disrupt your sleep, especially if you smoke close to bedtime. Eating late at night may negatively affect both sleep quality and the natural release of melatonin so try to make dinnertime earlier in the evening, and avoid heavy, rich foods within two hours of bed. Spicy or acidic foods can cause stomach trouble and heartburn. Eating lots of sugar and refined carbs such as white bread, white rice, and pasta during the day can trigger wakefulness at night and pull you out of the deep, restorative stages of sleep. Eating healthily improves sleep generally, but some foods are particularly beneficial, such as milk, chicken, turkey and pumpkin seeds. They contain the chemicals tryptophan and serotonin, which are vital for producing melatonin. For some people, a light snack before bed can help promote sleep but for others, eating before bed leads to indigestion and makes sleeping more difficult. If you need a bedtime snack, try something like a small bowl of whole-grain, low-sugar cereal or yoghurt or even a banana. Avoid alcohol before bed, while a nightcap may help you relax, it interferes with your cycle once you’re asleep. Also avoid drinking too many liquids in the evening

as this may result in frequent bathroom trips throughout the night. Although hydration is vital for your health, it’s wise to reduce your fluid intake in the late evening. Try to not drink any fluids 1–2 hours before going to bed. You should also use the bathroom right before going to bed, as this may decrease your chances of waking in the night. Many people believe that the bedroom environment and its setup are key factors in getting a good night’s sleep. These factors include temperature, noise, external lights, and furniture arrangements. Make sure your bedroom is a quiet, relaxing, clean, and enjoyable place. To optimize your bedroom environment, try to minimize external noise, light, and artificial lights from devices like alarm clocks. If you like your sleeping space to be quiet but not eerily so, white noise can be a great aid. Smart speakers will have an app to help. A lack of clutter, along with pale colours and pleasant smells such as lavender and geranium, can also help create a soothing setting. Before clocks, people would wake up when the sun rose and go to sleep when it got dark. Similarly, a darkened room helps to promote sleep and turning the lights down can make you feel sleepy. If you don’t have a dimmer switch, inexpensive lamps with a dimmer are a good option. If you’re disturbed by the streetlight outside your window, or bright sunlight at 5am in summer, you could try heavier curtains, extra lining or investing in blackout blinds. Body and bedroom temperature can also profoundly affect sleep quality. As you may have experienced during the summer or in hot locations, it can be difficult to get a good night’s sleep when it’s too warm. Around 70°F (20°C) seems to be a comfortable temperature for most people, although it depends on your preferences and habits. Some people wonder why they always sleep better in a hotel. Apart from the relaxing environment, bed quality can also affect sleep. One study looked at the benefits of a new mattress for 28 days, revealing that it reduced back pain by 57%, shoulder pain by 60%, and back stiffness by 59%. It also improved sleep quality by 60%. The best mattress and bedding are extremely subjective. If you’re upgrading your bedding, base your choice on personal preference but It’s recommended that you upgrade your bedding at least every 5–8 years. If you find your partner

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appears to have all the covers, you’ll sleep better simply by investing in a second blanket—one for each body. The more overstimulated your brain becomes during the day, the harder it can be to slow down and unwind at night. If your day involves the constant use of phone, email, or social media, your brain is so accustomed to seeking fresh stimulation, it becomes difficult to slow down at bedtime. Exercise is one of the best science-backed ways to improve your sleep and health. It can enhance all aspects of sleep and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia. One study in older adults determined that exercise nearly halved the amount of time it took to fall asleep and provided 41 more minutes of sleep at night. Although daily exercise is key for a good night’s sleep, performing it too late in the day actually cause problems. This is due to the stimulatory effect of exercise, which increases alertness and hormones like epinephrine and adrenaline. Try to finish moderate to vigorous workouts at least three hours before bedtime. Winding down is a critical stage in preparing for bed, many people have a pre-sleep routine that helps them relax. Relaxation techniques before bed have been shown to improve sleep quality and are another common technique used to treat insomnia. A relaxing massage can improve sleep as can relaxation exercises, such as light yoga stretches, which help to relax the muscles. Writing “to do” lists for the next day can organise your

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thoughts and clear the mind and strategies including listening to relaxing music or reading a book, relax the mind by distraction. A relaxing bath or shower is another popular way to sleep better. Alternatively, if you don’t want to take a full bath at night, simply bathing your feet in hot water can help you unwind and improve sleep. When you’re having difficulty falling asleep, staring at the clock only makes it worse. It can increase the stress and worry about not falling asleep. The best way to deal with that is to remind yourself that resting in bed and thinking nice thoughts is more productive than tossing and turning and looking at the clock every ten minutes. Turn your alarm clock away from you. If you can’t watch the minutes go by, you’ll have a much easier time de-stressing and soothing yourself to sleep. We all know that having a routine helps babies and children fall asleep at a certain time, but this also applies to adults as well, because it allows your body to programme itself to naturally fall asleep and wake up at certain times. Try to be habitual around bedtime and create your own relaxation routine. A good night’s sleep is just as important to our health as regular exercise and a healthy diet. Some of these changes are small but will benefit in the long run. Have a good night!

Health, Beauty and Fitness Everyday Yoga for Everyone It’s getting better all the time

by Rebecca Novick


y yoga teacher and good friend, Surinder Singh ji or Rishikesh is not fluent in English, but somehow, the fact that he is forced to keep to a simple vocabulary, helps to drive home the salient points of his teachings with a straightforward clarity that often gets lost in the kind of lecturing style that some teachers adopt. But one thing that I heard him say every day of our training had me perplexed. “You are doing better and better, every day in every way.” This was, as far as I was concerned, demonstrably untrue. Even back then at the start of my yoga journey, some days I could perform the tree without a wobble, other days I felt like a drunk on a skating rink. Some days I could hold the camel pose for a full minute, other days I’d collapse into a heap after only 30 seconds. Certain mornings could be so dramatically different from the previous one often with no clear rhyme or reason. Was it the gluten in the pizza I’d had for dinner? Had I slept funny? You realize after a while that on some days, well, things just don’t work as well, and the body is no exception. But there he went, my dear Surinder ji, every day the same mantra “You are doing better and better.” What on earth was he on about? I was beginning to think there was something wrong with him.

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Fast forward to a full two years later, when Surinder ji began offering lessons via Zoom because of the pandemic. It was so lovely to see him again. I had missed him terribly and particularly that bond of respect and trust that comes with working with someone over a long period of time. But at the end of the lesson, there he went again with the “you are doing better and better every day”. And then it hit me. He wasn’t saying that every day your yoga practice is going to improve, he meant that we are always becoming a better student of yoga for the simple reason that we are always learning. And that includes learning to accept the days when our thighs wobble or our shoulders stiffen, or we just feel tired or unmotivated or frustrated or irritated. It means getting better at not regarding every development as a trend. It means getting better at doing things when you just don’t feel like doing them, not doing them when you simply can’t, and understanding the difference. It means getting better at being honest with where you are at that point in time. It means getting better at enjoying when you improve and having patience when you don’t. It means getting better at befriending impermanence and imperfection. In short, It means getting better at responding to whatever comes up in the moment. Oh, I thought, in that ‘it’s been staring in your face the whole time’ kind of way, that’s what he means! And now, like the Beatles song goes, “It’s getting better all the time.” For more information email Rebecca at or follow her on

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by Terry Ryan


aijiquan, or more simply Taiji (aka Tai Chi), is well known as an ancient system of movement, originally developed in China as a martial art. Today it is practised by many people for the health benefits that it can bestow.

What should you expect to find in a typical Taiji session? Taiji sessions always begin with a warm up, which is quite gentle but thorough, it can however be as demanding as you want it to be. It is difficult to convey easily in words … so please watch the gentle warm-up session on the video by the celebrated Grandmaster : CHEN Zhenglei

Once the body is physically prepared for Taiji by the warm-up, it is then deliberately relaxed as a precursor to meditation. Traditionally, this is achieved by adopting either a standing posture (zhan zhang) or a sitting posture. A lotus position can be used but, many people lack the hip flexibility to comfortably achieve it. For this reason, I prefer to use a simple seated posture: In this posture, the back is held relaxedly straight and the feet are planted flat on the floor. The head is balanced on the top of the spine and the crown (Baihui) is lightly directed to the heavens so that the head feels suspended. The hands rest naturally on the knees. The mouth is lightly closed with the tip of the tongue gently placed on the upper palette. The abdominal breath, via the nostrils, becomes naturally slow and unhurried. After just a short time you will find it easy to become relaxed and perhaps wish this feeling to continue, but … it’s now time to start your Taiji practice!

After completing the warm-up and relaxation/meditation exercises, the body and the mind are both ready to begin the core Taiji exercises. I intend to cover this topic in some later articles.

Due to the general Covid situation, I’m prevented from giving Taiji classes at the moment but, as soon as it is sensible and safe to do so, I shall be restarting my Taiji sessions, both at Bressuire in DeuxSèvres and Le Breuil Barret in the Vendée. Please see or phone me : 05 49 65 60 34 for further details.


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Stay at Home ideas for Health by Pamela Irving

best to speak to yourself with love, never put yourself or your body down, ever. It is the part of us that links with the earth and needs our help to clear out the clutter of the past by eating what the body dictates. The body stagnates when we sit around too much, it was designed for movement. Anything that you like to do when it comes to moving your body, then do it - dig the garden, walk around and pick flowers, do some stretching, clean a cupboard, dance like your dad in the living room- even if it is for 10 minutes then this works wonders for health and can keep the balance. We often force ourselves to do sport – for some this is great, for others it is torture. The secret is to do what you enjoy… as long as you move. If we have to work from home on a computer then make sure every hour you do 5 minutes of leg movement of some kind.


ife in France or the UK at the moment is proving to be a test of change of circumstances for many of us. Some people like to move and travel, others prefer to be a home bird. Ideally as time moves on, some of us find our choices are limited and we may need to adapt to the changes ahead. Being a full time Holistic Therapist for over twenty years now – I began this career having lost my house, my job, and my life was turned upside down by a nervous breakdown which led to severe depression … for me, at the time I did not see that coming but now I look back and realise, as painful as it was – it was meant to be. In my work as a Reflexologist, we try to help our client find whole body balance via working on the nervous system via our feet – in our feet we have something we call meridian lines - these lines are electrical forces of negative and positive charge. Another word for them is Yin and Yang. We are the mother earth when we connect our bare feet to her. We are born from a feminine mother and a masculine father. Our cells are charged by negative and positive ions. To maintain good health we need to hold onto some form of balance. As a Hypnotherapist I am going to begin with mental health. The brain has two parts to it- conscious you may call masculine or Yang – this part of the brain needs us to have a structure- it likes rules and boundaries- it likes us to judge and decide. It works very well when we open our eyes and see the outside world.

The fable the Hare and Tortoise – it is a story of life balance. Each of us have masculine and feminine energy. You often see a very red faced man with a pale faced wife. The opposite energies attract each other naturally. As a couple - take a closer look - although our partner may drive us mad living together 24/7, the opposite person is often living with you for a reason, they have what you need, you have what they need to complement each other. Trying to be too alike can often cause pressure to one party so it is a good idea to let your partner enjoy their hobby while you enjoy yours, then come together with love and similar morals. As a last thought, be kind to yourself and this shines out of you to the mirror of whoever you come in contact with. Everything in nature has a centre .. a flower has a centre, we have a navel. Come back to centre is not always a bad thing, we get in touch with who we are and what we need. If we treat ourselves with love then that energy takes itself to the world we live in and makes it brighter. Everything changes, we have to go with the flow sometimes and believe it is for our higher good, and the law of magnetism reminds us to put our attention on what we want not what we do not want – worrying is like praying for something you do not want .. so focus on what you can make better in your own little world or that of another and enjoy watching life improve. Thanks for reading ! Happy 2021

The other part of the brain is the subconscious mind or Yin – this part of the brain likes to be free to imagine and dream, it holds our past memories and controls our health. This part of the brain uses the senses – it feels through knowing, touching, gut feeling … it works very well when we close our eyes and see within. If we can bring some form of structure to our stay at home life, this will make our masculine energy happy - being proactive by putting the bin out every day or taking a shower, walking our dog at a certain hour – we need this. We can make the feminine energy of our brain happy by giving ourselves permission to be in touch with our feelings, by writing a journal and expressing our feelings or by taking up a hobby that involves our hands or our feet. Now.. I am a masseur… so am going to mix it up a bit ! The body takes any instruction we give it from our conscious mind and sees it as truth – so from today, whatever state your body is in – it is The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 15

Travel The Mid-Pyrenees Romans, Sibyls and Toulouse by Howard Needs


eaving the valley of fresques with some reluctance because there was so much that we had not seen, my wife and I continued south and east through the passes of the Pyrenees foothills. A trip like this is always a balance of kilometres driven against time spent sightseeing and how to do justice to scenery, and on this particular day the scenery had to suffer. We drove a dog-leg route to Saint-Bertrandde-Comminges. We spent most of our time in the town itself visiting the cathedral and then having a well-earned coffee and a tart in the town square fronting the cathedral. Whilst watching the passers-by, we saw a speck in the sky and, getting binoculars out, found it to be an eagle circling above the town – our first one this trip.

But before we got to the town itself, we visited the Basilique Saint-Just de Valcabrère, isolated in the middle of the countryside nearby, where the 12th century exterior with sculptures around the west door is well worth the visit. The nave leads to a simple apse, and the reuse of architectural elements and materials from earlier edifices, including Roman, can be seen. Primitive Christian symbols – an X and a P – are found to the left of the entrance, and in other places the remains of a carved tableau and Basilique various faces and stylised patterns Saint-Just de Valcabrère can be found. The columns to the left and right of the west portal are statues of standing figures – saints – and the capitals show their martyrdom. Remains of the original polychrome painting are evident. We retained a 16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

feeling of immense antiquity and of the generations of lay and monk worshippers. Then we visited the remains of the Roman town of Lugdunum. Each time I wander round Roman ruins, I marvel at the extent – physically and in time – of the Roman Empire. We are not great travellers, but we have walked Hadrian’s wall and have searched for the Antonine wall in Scotland and the German Limes wall. We have also seen the remains of cities well preserved, such as Verulamium/St Albans in the UK and Xanten in Germany (not to forget Pompeii), bumped into the paving of a Roman road in Germany, and walked the Pont-du-Gard in France. The ruins here at Lugdunum were not extensive, and the state of preservation and the presentation were very mediocre. However, there was still the thrill of seeing walls with the signature red brick layers so clearly indicating their Roman origin. From the Roman site, there was a wonderful view of the Romanesque Cathédrale Sainte-Marie at St Bertrand. Once we got to the town, we could see that the cathedral exterior is massive, with huge buttresses, and the tower hugging the nave has a wooden panelling just underneath the roof which makes one think of a degree of fortification in Roman Wall the past. The

very complete cloister with its double pillars with decorated capitals and, in one instance, a double statue exudes an air of monastic tranquillity. The interior of the church is dominated by a huge organ and magnificent choir stalls. The seats for the monks are backed by renaissance wood carvings of 12 sibyls (female prophets or oracles) alternating with 12 church fathers – I shall want to return to them in a later article because during our stop in Saint-Lizier we ran into these personages again. Pagan women in a monastery: What is the world coming to? It is really surprising how many things you run into that you know so very little about and that turn out to be fascinating when you explore further. There are specialised websites dealing with Romanesque art and architecture, and in general my wife and I check these out before a holiday if we know where and what we are going to visit, and we certainly do so after the holiday visits to learn about sites we came across that hadn’t been on the itinerary. What I see, and regret, is that the relatively short visits that one can make in a day’s travel cause one to miss a lot of the intricacies and splendour of these old places and that the hardened hobbyists and academics find and photograph so much more detail. Good photography in dark places requires time and patience (particularly from one’s companion) and, in general, a tripod. So it tends to take time. And the question that remains is a general one for modern digital photography: “What would I do with all those photos?”

Wood carving - A Sybil

That evening, we sat down and studied the information that we had and planned the day into Toulouse. We decided that we had no desire for a couple of hundred kilometres’ driving and decided to take the train from the nearest station (still a 15 km drive).

This account of Saint-Lizier will be continued, as will that of the Sibyls. This article is part of a series. For previous instalments, see the October and December 2020 issues of Deux-Sèvres Monthly.

Our next stop was to be Saint-Lizier, a Gallo-Roman centre dating from the 5th century or earlier. Its bishopric dates from 506 to 1801 CE, and there are two cathedrals, both dating from the 11th century One might say that two cathedrals for a small town was overkill, but the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Sède, with it associated bishop’s palace, is the actual cathedral, and the Cathédrale Saint-Lizier, with its fine cloisters, is called a cathedral by courtesy and by tradition (I suppose that this last was a monastery, from the evidence of the cloister). The carved wood choir stalls 66 in total including sibyls and the church founders

We had booked accommodation for one night in

St Michel perhaps

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Photos by Howard NEEDS

Cathedral Sainte-Marie de St Bertrand

Saint-Lizier and found the hotel tucked in a corner between the bridge over le Salet and the river itself. There were massive civil engineering works ongoing under the windows of the hotel dining room, involving rebuilding and enlarging a hydro power station, so parking was dusty and difficult. Late that afternoon we explored a part of the town and came to the conclusion we could spend a day there and that we could also go into Toulouse to see the medieval city centre, and so we extended our booking by two days and settled ourselves in, after which we had a good meal in the hotel.

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Saint-Pardoux-Soutiers The commune of 100 villages


aint-Pardoux-Soutiers is situated in the centre of the Deux-Sèvres département. There are more than 1,950 inhabitants on the commune which is part of the canton of Mazières-en-Gâtine and the communauté de communes Val de Gâtine. Saint-Pardoux-Soutiers stretches over an area of 45 km2. The commune is characterised by a compact town centre which concentrates all the different services in one place and by a second church spire in the village of Château Bourdin. The commune is also known as the « commune of 100 villages » because of the numerous hamlets and « lieux-dits ». Saint-Pardoux-Soutiers can be found at the far south end of the Armorican massi, an area known for rolling countryside with shallow valleys and rounded hills. The Gâtine area is associated with water towers. The streams and rivers of the Gâtine feed 5 watersheds ; that of the Thouet, the Sèvre Niortaise, the Sèvre Nantaise, the Autize and the Clain. The commune is home to a number of springs and streams that twist their way over the territory and flow into the Viette or the Thouet. There are no large granite rocks on the commune, but the shale of the sub-strata was used as building material for many centuries and gave a different appearance to local buildings. Clay is also found in large quantities and this has an effect on the landscapes. Several wet zones have a strong environmental impact. 80% of the area of the commune lies within the perimeter of the Thouet valley Natura 2000 zone. In 1798, after the Revolution, priests who had refused to swear allegiance to the Republic and who had continued to exercise their functions in secret, were denounced probably by snitches who gave the names of the priests in order to obtain a certificate of civism from the government. The priest

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by Sue Burgess

of Saint-Pardoux was sentenced to be imprisoned and was sent to Cayenne on a frigate along with 180 other priests. He stayed there until, under Bonaparte and after the Concordat in 1801, the exiled priests were brought home. He came back to take refuge in Saint-Pardoux. In 1847 a young priest (a vicar) came as assistant to the priest in SaintPardoux. He was responsible for the services in the chapel of Château Bourdin. Not having been used since the revolution, the chapel was in a terrible state. The subsequent restoration was paid for from funds raised by the faithful of the area and considerable donations by the de la Salinière family. The restored chapel was inaugurated on the 5 September 1845 and services were resumed. In 1858, one of the church bells was baptised, a ceremony paid for by the town. The godfather of the bell was Mr Claude, Edouard Hubert, the mayor of Saint-Pardoux, and the godmother Mme Marie de la Salinière. In 1879 two new bells were ordered from the foundry in Angers. In 1860, La FABRIQUE (the Parish Council) decided to begin the restoration and repairs of the church. The spire and the roof were in a pitiful state and were likely to collapse. When the work began, the situation was found to be worse than at first thought and the work was not completed until 1866 and required a complete rebuilding of parts of the church. As the school in Château Bourdin had closed, it was decided to build another in Saint-Pardoux, Saint Joseph’s, on the road to Azay-sur-Thouet. The land was given by Mr Frere. The local people prepared the land and the de la Salinière family gave the money for the building. The new school was run by nuns and was opened in 1887 with between 120 and 130 girls including about 20 boarders. The presbytery of Saint-Pardoux was rebuilt in 1881/82 and then extended in 1902. In those days, between 400 and 600 people regularly attended each mass there. Château-Bourdin According to oral tradition, the hamlet of ChâteauBourdin is an ancient Gallo-Roman ‘city’. Le chemin des chaussées known as the ROM, which ran from Rome to Fort MAILLARDS of NANTES, was the

A voir / Must See Every year during the Christmas period, there is a large animated nativity scene set up in St Pardoux Church. Entrance is free.

work of the Emperors, TETRIENS and TACITE. This route dates back at least to the middle of the 3rd century. The aumonery of Château-Bourdin, its chaplaincy being granted by Le Seigneur de PARTHENAY, took care of the poor and the sick at la Maison Dieu. Château-Bourdin used to be a place for the exchange of smuggled salt and tobacco. The meeting place was a wooden house on the road to la Boissière. The house was situated near the woods and the woodcutters helped the smugglers. The pathways around led to the woods and made the exchange and smuggling easy. Between the 12th and the 14th century, the Gâtine was fallow land consisting largely of fields of gorse, brambles and furze and lots of coppices. The people began to clear the land and the monks from the Abbey of the Bois d’Allonne were often at the forefront of this activity. In 1854, Château-Bourdin was one of the main villages of Saint-Pardoux. It used to be called « Pieds de Boue » (feet of mud). The village was the refuge of the beggars and paupers of the area who came to benefit from the help that the Hospice offered.

Chapel Notre Dame Des Neiges Château-Bourdin The chapel has recently been renovated. It is open on Heritage Weekend in September. Val de Flore Gardens Soutiers A natural park : plants, insects, birds and a work of art. There are different spaces and atmospheres. There are often exhibitions, meetings and shows. The park is open from May to September. Visits are free although visitors are asked to make a small donation to help with the upkeep of the park. Tourist information is available. La Fabrique Château-Bourdin A converted factory. Local produce markets are held there regularly and in the summer there are concerts and other events.

The name « Pieds de Boue » also came from the fact that Château-Bourdin was a flat area which meant that it was difficult for water to drain away, so when it rained the paths were always muddy. Ponds, like the one below, can be seen near ChâteauBourdin when coming from St Pardoux, had been dug out in several places to help to clear the water. At one time there was a communal wash-house by this pond. « Chemins creux» in « Gâtine » dialect means spoiled earth, damp and full of clay. These paths were dug out by the passing of carts pulled by cattle and by horses. The water tower, for which the spring was at Brossardière and which provided water for the village of Château-Bourdin, probably dates from 1930-1935.

Photographs by Sue Burgess

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Home and Garden

Love your


• Established hedges, shrubs and trees need feeding now with a slow release fertiliser……work it well into the soil surface surrounding the plant. • As soon as roses show signs of growth—new leaf buds for example, a top dressing of a commercial rose feed or a good general fertiliser will help new growth to develop well. • Cornus and willow can now be cut back hard to their bases. This will encourage the development of new colourful stems next year. • After mahonias have finished flowering, remove the top most rosette, this will encourage branching growth and a bushier plant.

by Greenfingers


arch is the month which straddles two seasons and weather can be anything from very cold to really quite warm. The biggest difference is the amount of light that increases day by day, making it possible to work outside for a longer time. Just that opportunity has a huge impact on our well-being and feeling of hope in what we are doing outside. It is the month when most of our reliable spring favourites bring colour to gardens and pots. Daffodils, narcissi, anemones, violas, wallflowers, pansies, their appearance almost make us itch just to be getting on with the ‘housekeeping’ jobs which are the mainstay of our activities this month.

• If ornamental grasses have not had old and dead foliage removed, do it now as it will become difficult to do later without damaging the new emerging foliage. • Early flowering clematis can be pruned once flowering has finished and summer flowerers can be cut back before they start into new growth. • Fuchsias that have been overwintered under cover, can be cut back to one or two buds on each stem. This will help the plant to ‘bulk up’ in appearance.

One of the most encouraging things about the spring garden is the number of birds that come down to feed. We have many bird feeders around the garden with a variety of different bird ‘foodstuffs’ in them and every day we can see the numbers of different species increase. I make a strange ‘birdy’ type noise (don’t laugh) and they seem to recognise that this means food is coming. We have never had as many pairs of goldfinches before…they are beautiful, very acrobatic and quite noisy! There are many types of the tit family that arrive every day and for the first time we have had mistle thrushes feeding in the garden. The red squirrels are already active and are a delight to watch. I’m keeping an eye on the hedgehog ‘dormitory’ for signs that the family will have survived the awfully wet conditions that have persisted and will be snuffling their way around the front garden once again!


Now is the time to:

• Winter flowering jasmine can be pruned back as soon as flowering is finished. Cut back to about 5cms from the old growth.

Many of us will not have been able to make much progress in the garden so far this year, as the weather with its’ constant rain, heavy frosts and biting winds have not presented many opportunities to get outside, so some of the February jobs can be carried over to this month, and there may be some repetition as a result. On the positive side, what we couldn’t do then, hopefully we’ll be able to do now!

• Removed damaged and diseased leaves from hellebores. They can suffer from a black spot fungal disease which mottles the leaves and detracts from their beauty. Trimming the leaves stops the disease from spreading and it also allows the flowers to be seen more easily.

• Once surface water has drained away from garden plots, prepare them for sowing by digging in a good layer of compost or well-rotted manure. A general purpose fertiliser of blood, fish and bone can be added and combined by digging. • If new climbing plants are being introduced or there are other new additions that will need support, put the posts, trellis, or wires in now, so that the plants can grow through them as it is difficult to put them in when growth is more established. • If frost is not imminent or the ground is not waterlogged, it is a good time to move trees or established shrubs. Make sure they are well mulched after planting. 20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

• Continue to deadhead winter flowering pansies and violas to encourage repeat flowering. • Deadhead daffodils and allow the leaves to die back naturally. • Trim and tidy winter flowering heathers as soon as the flowers have gone over. • Divide summer flowering perennials such as hostas, hemerocallis, astrantias and hedychiums as soon as new growth begins. • Prune gooseberries, white currants and black currants and remove dead and diseased wood, trimming back side shoots to one or two buds from the base; shorten branch tips by about a quarter.

March! March! March! They are coming in troops in the times of the wind, Redheaded woodpeckers drumming, gold crested thrushes behind Sparrows in brown jackets hopping, past every gateway and door, Finches with crimson caps stopping, just where they stopped before. March! March! March! They are slipping into their places at last, literally, white lily buds dripping, under the showers that fall fast. Buttercups, violets and roses, snowdrops and bluebells and pink Throng upon throng of sweet posies, bending the snowdrops to drink. March! March! March! They will hurry forth at the wild bugle sound, Blossoms and birds in a flurry, fluttering all over the ground. Shake out your flags, birch and willow, shake out your red tassels larch, Grass blades, up your earth pillow, hear who is calling you?……March! Lucy Larcom 1824-1893 • Plant onion and shallot sets; 10 cms apart, leave the tops of the bulb just showing above the soil. • Sow seeds of cucumber, tomatoes, aubergines and chillies in a heated propagator or greenhouse. • If canna lilies were lifted in the autumn, restart them into growth by planting in good quality compost. Any green shoots should be left exposed. Water the plants well and place in a greenhouse or a cold frame. • Primulas are readily available everywhere at the moment and they are not expensive. They look good in baskets, troughs pots and beds and if planted in a border will readily self- seed. • Cyclamen too, self- seed easily and the range of colours available is just lovely now. • Remove about 5 cms of old compost from plants permanently in pots and top dress with fresh compost. • Cut back penstemons and perovskia. • Divide any congested perennials. • Finish pruning hybrid and floribunda roses.

• Sow in a cloche or greenhouse, the seeds of cabbage, Brussels sprouts, celeriac, lettuce, peas, parsnips, and beetroot. These vegetables need a temperature of 7°C to germinate and establish well. • Seed potatoes can still be ‘chitted’ in a cool (frost free), dry, moderately-lit place. They will be ready to plant out in April. • Prepared planting beds which are not going to be sown immediately, can be covered in black plastic or horticultural membrane to warm the soil ready for sowing or planting out. • Increase dahlia stock by making basal cuttings. Select firm, healthy tubers, fill a seed tray with seed or good quality compost and place two or three good sized tubers on the surface. Pack more compost around the tubers until they are snugly bedded in, leaving the crowns exposed. Water and leave in a propagator or on a sunny window sill. When new, green shoots are about 10 cms long, cut this new growth off as close to the tuber as possible. Remove all leaves except the top pair, dip the cut ends into hormone rooting powder or gel and then plant into small pots of compost. These pots can be put into clear polythene or cellophane bags to conserve moisture. Place on a sunny window sill and roots should appear within about two weeks. • Put whatever slug control you use, around perennials such as delphiniums and hostas to protect them from becoming the feast of the day for slugs and snails. • Tidy strawberry plants, removing dead and diseased leaves, old fruit and old runners. • Hardy herbs can be sown directly outside now. • Collect up old ends of wool or straw, pet hair and the fluff from the tumble dryer and hang in net bags around the garden to help the birds with their nest building. • Herbaceous perennials such as bergenia, hardy geranium, and ajuga can all be planted now or existing specimens can be divided and spread into beds around the garden. Continued overleaf .....

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 21

Whatever you do in your garden, enjoy, take time to stop and stare, breathe in the cool, fresh air, get a bit ‘physical’ with the digging, feel reinvigorated and positive….get vaccinated, wear your masks and stay safe. Covid won’t be here forever!


Continued .....

• Lift and divide snowdrops as soon as the foliage begins to turn yellow. • Twisted hazel shrubs will need the long straight pole branches removed otherwise the plant will revert to its’ original straight form. Hazel poles make very good bean sticks and plant supports. • Lift the crown of older trees where lower branches are blocking out light from other plants below. Removing about 30% of branches will completely revitalise an old tree and allow more sunlight to penetrate below. • Remove perennial weeds as soon as regrowth is noticed, digging out as much of the root as possible to avoid spread. • Repair or replace any damaged tree/plant supports and check that tree ties are still doing their job. Loosen them if they have become too tight. • Broad beans which have been sown under cover earlier and have at least four strong leaves and a good root system, can be planted outside now. • Top up gravel/stones in rock gardens. • Keep fleece handy in case of late frosts. • Prune back hardy fuchsias, caryopteris and phygelius. • Sow hardy annual seeds outside, they do better in soil that is not too rich in nutrient. Reliable examples to sow include larkspur, cornflowers, nigella, and calendula. The beauty of these is that they are good self-seeders and once sown, you will always have them in the garden. • Hedgehogs will be coming out of hibernation about now, so help them along by leaving out a dish of meat based, wet dog or cat food. This will give them a chance of putting on the weight lost during their dormant period. • Make bug hotels for solitary bees, by placing bundles of hollow dry, stems into hollow pipes or old flower pots. • Remove netting from ponds and clear any surface debris in readiness for returning amphibians. Old plant debris can reduce the oxygen levels in the water and produce gases that could harm wildlife. Top up with fresh water where necessary. • Summer flowering bulbs can be planted now. Plant them directly into borders and they will begin to flower from June onwards. They are very useful ‘gap fillers’. Good examples include, acidanthera, allium, crocosmia, diorama, and gladiolus.

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

Lovely early flowering plants, Camellias, Magnolias, Rhododrenons, Azaleas Good time to get planting before the summer comes Open every day 9h-19h


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GARDEN MACHINERY REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE Nigel will repair and maintain your garden machinery. You can either deliver here or he will come & collect. 79 covered (1 euro a kilometre). Lawn mowers, sit-on mowers, strimmers, hedge cutters, chain saws, electric or petrol, you name it he will try his best to fix it. Nigel has a basic stock of everyday machinery and will, if possible, lend you one whilst trying to repair yours. Also can mow, strim & chip your garden, cut your hedge or just clear those difficult places. Please ring for information or a quote.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 23


by Donna Palframan


ot a lot has happened again in the Potager this last month as it’s either been raining heavily or absolutely freezing and snow has fallen. There is still harvesting happening though – leafy vegetables such as cavolo nero, cabbage, chard; also carrots, leeks and radis noir. I sowed a few radis noir seeds as an afterthought and was pleased with the results as one radis noir provided us with quite a few days of peppery crunchiness but I will grow more this year as I’ve read that they store well. The leeks are still small as for some reason I don’t seem to be able to make them grow bigger! It might be a lack of water early on in their growing season so I shall keep an eye on that this year. I sowed a few early seeds, sweet peas, broad beans, etc and put them in the greenhouse but they have frozen so I’ll see how they get on and sow more if needs be. The cold snap has made me move my chillis indoors. I successfully overwintered some last winter but kept them indoors, so this time I thought I’d put them in the greenhouse as the previous two or three winters weren’t particularly cold so this one caught me out. To overwinter chillis, they need to be kept at temperatures between 5°c and 12°c. Any higher and they become active too soon any lower and… They hadn’t frozen so fingers crossed. In the next week or two, I shall be sowing some new varieties (do like our chillis). Planning the potager is still ongoing to ensure I get the most out of the space I have and the extra beds I will be making. The hugel bed has settled nicely, ready for the next stage, when the weather is warmer, of removing the thick layer of sheep poo from the old sheep house and covering the mound with so that too can be rained in. I’m a firm believer in using free water. I’m looking forward to working on my herb bed too and learning when and how to dry herbs to get the best out of them. I’m a big herb user and while I tend to use fresh herbs, there are times that dried are needed. So what have I been doing with my time, you might ask. I’ve been sewing, having discovered the joys of English paper piecing, I’ve embarked on a quilt made from linen hexagons and embellished with embroidery and vintage lace, along with a few beads. It will keep me occupied for quite a while.

got the inside sparkling while a bucket of soapy water and a scrubbing pad took care of the outside. New collars were fitted and the stoppers were put through the dishwasher before being fitted with new rubber seals as our cider is going to be sparkling – Le Champagne de la Normandie, as it is affectionately called in these parts. Avoiding disturbing the sediment, the cider was pumped into a second container containing a sugar solution. The amount of sugar required depends upon the bottling temperature and how fizzy we want it - we’ve gone for medium fizzy this year. Champagne yeast was added to the cider for the second fermentation and then bottling began. Cider was run into a bucket and then poured into the bottles using a good old fashioned method – a jug, a funnel and a pair of hands! One of us filled the bottles and the other closed them and once we got into a rhythm, 384 bottles were filled, stoppered and put into crates to start the next fermentation. The second fermentation will take as long as it takes and, as we speak, probably is hardly happening due to the cold but hopefully by summer we will have a supply of home grown, home made cider ready to cool me down after a day working in the potager! I’ll have to be wary though and not drink too much as it will be quite strong – about 8%, and it is easy to knock back a refreshing glass of cider. There is some cider not bottled for a second fermentation which will be bottled as still cider and some converted into cider vinegar which will be ready for my summer pickling. Last year I got through litres of vinegar and expect to again. I’ll let you know what the cider is like in a few months!

We have also – fanfare, please – bottled the cider! It seemed to take forever for the first fermentation to proceed and reach the point where we could bottle it, being on standby for bottling duties for what seemed like months. Fermentation is complete when the specific gravity steadies around 1.000. The bottles were bought from various places and seemed to be from families who had stopped making cider – either the cider maker had retired or died and the family didn’t want to carry on the tradition and we’ve also seen healthy orchards ripped up to provide pasture for cows. Very sad, as it will be a tradition that will die out and cider will be made by few artisans. However, we are doing our bit to keep our orchard going. Anyway, the bottles were washed using an old bottle washer which was a simple but effective tool – no electricity, it attached to a hose and whoosh! The water, along with wires, All photographs by Donna Palframan

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021



espite the extremely wet start to the year, I am hopeful that Spring will soon be here and we can enjoy the daffodils and snowdrops that are appearing in increasing numbers. I’m doubly pleased to see the flowers as they will provide much-needed early pollen for our bees that are starting to emerge from the hives after a long confinement. The winter months are a tense time for beekeepers as we cannot easily check on how the bees are doing, tucked away as they are. We just have to trust that we helped them prepare well enough and left them plenty of food, a safe home and a strong queen. It’s been encouraging to see a few of them flying on warmer days, coming out on cleansing flights and to gather water to take back to the hives.

Used frame against a new one The ‘cleansing flights’ are extremely important as hygiene is always a big issue when keeping bees. So many problems can be averted simply by paying attention to simple things like keeping hive tools clean, changing frames when necessary and tidying up the apiary. As the active beekeeping season gets underway, we are especially

by Kevin and Amanda Baughen

alert to the threat of Nosema, the most universal bee disease and one that, sneakily, has no obvious external symptoms. One of the main indicators that Nosema may be present in a colony is its failure to grow; in Spring we expect the queen to dramatically increase her Using fire to sterilise rate of egg laying and for the hive used hive boxes to become very full, very quickly. The opposite situation, one known as ‘Spring dwindling’ could be a symptom of Nosema. This fungal disease is something of a silent killer; spores multiply in the gut of an adult bee, picked up when that bee is cleaning comb inside the hive. Nosema attacks the cells that assist with the digestion of pollen, so the bee is prevented from absorbing proteins and becomes weaker and unable to fly. This means it defecates inside the hive (now you see the importance of ‘cleansing flights’!) and other bees clean up the mess. This is how the disease spreads rapidly though a colony, often affecting over-wintering colonies, as the bees are ‘trapped’ inside, living amongst the spores. The best course of action is to provide the bees with clean comb and, if necessary, a clean brood box too, an example of spring cleaning being vital for our bees. As the bees become more active and excrete away from the hive, the health of the colony should improve. Getting out is clearly good for all of us, including the bees! Put a spring in your step this year and find out more about becoming a beekeeper - contact us by phone or email at 13 Bees:, Telephone :05 45 71 22 90 or visit our website

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 25

Book Club Switching fiction genres


by Alison Morton

ancy a change from crime fiction to romance? Or historical to contemporary fiction? Although genres are mostly marketing constructs, changing from writing one type of story to another is not always straightforward.

Why do it?

A fellow writer or a more experienced writer who liked something about the work you’ve already produced may throw you a challenge. You may have been wanting to write a character with strong connections to where you live. Changing genres also gives you the chance to explore new themes, or the same ones in a different way. Lastly, you can use hitherto unused life experience or knowledge in the new work.

Research is inevitable

Memory is fallible, so everything you think you know or remember has to be double-checked... unless you are not worried about the consequential grumbles and two-star (or less!) reviews on Amazon. To make a storyline authentic, details have to be correct; locations, the accuracy of any technical issues such as how soon data can be sent from the other end of Europe, whether homes in 1900 had electricity installed or what the forensic procedures were or are available . But it’s not only facts and figures. How long it takes to pursue a bad guy from the moment he steps off a London Tube train to the station exterior? Or in a historical mystery, what would you see from point X or Y? And how do you walk in the clothes of an Ancient Roman? Food, the way people talk and attitudes are crucial areas, such as the proper way to accept a dance request in the 1800s. But also check whether you can find a garage open on Sundays in rural France (you can’t!), where you can stable a horse or how strangers are greeted in the 14th century.

Character names

These should suit your new genre and reflect a character’s personality; short and sharp for crime, plain or unusual according to background or origin. It’s wise to check titles and/forms of address and whether names can be shortened to something more ordinary in some situations. A tip: always check via Google that your character name isn’t a serial killer, rock star, politician or any combination thereof.

A different author name?

You could consider using a different name, a non-gendered name if it’s a harder genre like crime or thriller as it’s generally understood that while women will buy and read books by men, men don’t return the favour so much for women writers. Conversely, I know male writers of romance who write under female pseudonyms. However, you may find you have to set up and run a different website, newsletter, Facebook, Twitter, etc. and you many cause confusion at live events. The other plus for keeping the same name is that your current fans who like your style may well love your new work.

In conclusion

Shifting genre involves shifting the writing mind, but the tools we possess or have developed such as working practices, approach to quality, pacing of work and ability to get ‘bum on seat’ to work through to the end of a draft are ingrained. I’ve found my own genre switch absorbing and energising, but as ever, it’s the wider readership that’s the final judge and jury. Alison has compiled a selection of articles from this column into ‘The 500 Word Writing Buddy’, available as an ebook and paperback. Her new thriller, ‘Double Identity’ is now out. 26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

YOUR Book Reviews Thanks this month to Vronni Ward and Jacqui Brown for sharing reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to:

Barack Obama

Review by Vronni Ward


istening to the US election and the astounding rhetoric from Trump, I decided I needed to devour something far more palatable, sane and intelligent. During the pandemic as others binge watch Netflix, I decided to binge read Obama.

Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama (2016) Completely absorbing and beautifully written, this book explores Barack’s humble background brought up by his grandparents and mother in Hawaii and Indonesia. His search to understand his father who resided in Kenya along with his extended family. It gives us a glimpse of Barack’s thinking as a young man in Chicago before he became a politician. Working as community organiser he helped everyday people sort out their problems and achieve their goals. The book ends with him going on to study law and meeting Michelle.

The Audacity of Hope by Barack Obama (2007) This book presents Barack’s thoughts on the major issues of the day… faith, the economy, the US constitution, the World, family and politics. It sounds pretty ‘heavy’ but actually you can hear Barack’s beautiful voice speaking inside your head. His arguments are totally compelling and make perfect sense. The chapter on Race is one of the best I have read.

A Promised Land by Barack Obama (2020) In this book Barack lays himself open to self questioning. He comes across as a sensitive soul… it is so refreshing to hear at a time when politicians only want to ‘big’ themselves up in the eyes of the public. He can’t believe he wins a Nobel Prize, he questions whether his running for office is for his own ego or his envy of other more successful men. He talks of foreign policy on the one hand and on the other how he is putting Malia into her first ballet tights. You come away from this book admiring him immensely as a human being…his modesty, his kindness, his intelligence and his charm.

Double Identity by Alison Morton

Review by Jacqui Brown

My local author selection for this month is The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’s very own Alison Morton, whose latest thriller Double Identity was released in January. Mel des Pittones wakes up, cold and disorientated, in a hotel room in London, her fiancé Gérard dead in the bed next to her; the life she had planned, gone before it’s begun. She soon becomes caught up in the murder enquiry and as a former soldier in the French army, highly skilled in combat and surveillance, she goes from suspect, to being seconded to the investigation. It is a crime that goes far beyond murder and reveals secrets from Gérard’s life she finds difficult to understand. Mel is fiery, fearless and powerful, and leaves nothing to chance, especially if she thinks she is being followed. Her policy is to bring them down, secure them, then question them later. I will admit my heart was in my mouth every time she left somewhere by herself, as despite not being one to be messed with, she had a lot of enemies happy to try. As the links between Gérard and the list of suspects became evermore entangled, the more the mystery deepened and the more dangerous the situation became for Mel. She might be feeling vulnerable and let down by Gérard, but she’s not one to show it, especially to Jeff McCracken, the Met detective she must work alongside. With different backgrounds and working practices, theirs was not an easy pairing, but one that gave great value to the reader. This was one of those books where I never knew who to trust or where it would take me next. With financial fraud, blackmail, international criminals and a multi-unit investigation centred in Brussels, London and rural France, there is no shortage of action or thrill to the plot.

The Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin

Review by Jacqui Brown

This is a deliciously heart-warming book, set in the Swiss Alps, that I devoured like a box of my favourite chocolates. It comforted and cossetted me, sending waves of pleasure, just like when you take that first bite of a softcentred chocolate and the different flavours and textures create fireworks from your mouth to your brain and beyond. Mina had my heart from the disastrous party, that saw her pack her bags and run away to her godmother’s chalet in Switzerland, leaving sleazy Simon for dust. She hopes a few weeks staying with Amelie will help her decide what she wants to do with her future. What she discovers fills her heart, as she witnesses Amelie’s attention to detail with her guests, but also fills her head with ideas of her own. Luke was adorable, with many hidden surprises, but although he believes in the serendipity that caused their paths to cross, he has plans that might not fit with Mina’s newfound passion and direction. The chemistry between Mina and Luke melted every part of me and for someone who vowed never to return to the ski slopes, this book almost had me yearning for a cross-country ski adventure of my own. What a treat for all the senses this book was. A stunning location, characters who felt like friends, love, chocolate and lots of cake, what more do you need from a book to pull you out of the winter blues?


Mel moves rapidly from safe houses to an undercover role, to full military combat, whilst trying to understand the actions of a man she thought she knew and establish the hidden identity of who it is who holds all the answers, before they silence her.


This book may have been a bit different to my usual reads, but I enjoyed the fast pace and the constant character analysing that went on in my head as I attempted to piece it all together. Mel is certainly a character I’d like to revisit, so I’m looking forward to the next book in this series.

Read a book recently you’d like to share with us? Send us your thoughts and we’ll do the rest

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021| 27

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY Ten years ago this month, the first issue of The DSM Magazine hit the shelves.


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28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

The full story of how Sarah developed the magazine, and Anna and Steve took it on, was told in August 2019 when the magazine printed its 100th issue. We’re not going to tell you THAT story again (by all means read issue 100 to find out all the juicy details) but have decided, for the next few months, to re-run some of the early articles to allow us all to reflect on how things have changed in ten years (and I don’t mean just my waistline). This month we’re sharing the first ever introduction from Sarah (you may well recognise some of the advertisers on that page as STILL being with the magazine) and a page from Issue 1 telling us all about the Royal Wedding. Enjoy .....



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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 29

Our Furry Friends Leonie Leonie is a 12 years old x labrador/border was adopted 7 years ago from ORFEE. Her owner sadly died and no-one wants her. Leonie is a very nice girl, very affectionate, home trained and still in very good health. She likes her walkies. She hasn’t met other dogs for some years but she was ok before; on another hand she hates cats definitely. She will need a nice enclosed garden and people who will cherish her. She is, as often, not up to date with vaccinations but will be before adoption. Neutered & micro-chipped by ORFEE in 2013, she is around 26 kilos. Currently near Cholet, she can come a reasonable distance to you.

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

hope association charity shops helping animals in need

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

hope 79 • sauzé-vaussais

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

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

If you are involved with an animal charity, or association, and would like to advertise an animal for adoption here (usually free of charge) or write a short article on your charity, why not drop us a line at • • N°RNA W792002789

Dash Dash is a medium sized boy who is estimated to be a year old but he could be a little younger. He is cheeky and full of life, loves to play with other dogs and have a good cuddle. We don’t know what he’s like with cats yet, but we can test him. He is currently in the Pound in the south of dept 79 and we would love to get him in to an adoptive or foster home as soon as possible.

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

Visit the website:


Louis Louis is sweet, very cuddly and loving. He came with his brothers and sisters, they were cold and wet as they had been found in a ditch after their mother had been run over. He was the smallest and needed a lot of TLC to help him to gain weight. Now he is a wonderful lively little cat around 18 months old. He is neutered, vaccinated, microchip and tested negative. If you are interested in him or any of our other cats please contact us on or Facebook - The Funny Farm Cat Rescue.

Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884.


Pebbles is approx. 2 years old and came to us in such a state she probably wouldn’t have survived another day. Diagnosed with FeLV means she has to stay indoors and must be the only cat. Pebbles is playful, loving, affectionate and would be a wonderful companion. She is not currently on any medication and could live a long, happy life in a loving home. If anyone deserves happiness it’s pretty Pebbles. No adoption fee. Could also be fostered long-term.

LEILA is a stunning tri-coloured female, born Jan 2014. She arrived here with 7 new-born babies. Happily, all the kittens were adopted and now Leila needs a home. She is slowly starting to interact and play as she learns to trust again, but it will take time, patience, and kindness. Can you give beautiful Leila what she needs - a kind home and somewhere she can spend the rest of her life feeling loved? (Leila is sterilised, vaccinated, and id-chipped).

Chats de Chatillon Cat Refuge & Pension Email : Phone : 06 85 63 55 94 Website :

Chats de Chatillon Cat Refuge & Pension Email : Phone : 06 85 63 55 94 Website :

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword Across 1. Scratch repeatedly (6) 4. Deny or contradict (6) 8. A rate at which something happens (5) 9. A parallelogram with four equal sides (7) 10. Start (5) 11. Young tree (7) 12. Self destructive desire (9) 15. Everlasting (7) 16. Cruel or inhumane treatment (5) 17. A movement forward; develop further (7) 18. The period after sunset and before sunrise (5) 19. Find repugnant (6) 20. Tall graceful dog breed with a long silky coat (6)

Down 2. Type of metal (6) 3. First woman aviator to fly solo nonstop across the Atlantic (6-7) 5. A person’s sister (6-7) 6. Looking with eyes partly closed (6) 7. Head protection worn on motorcycles (5-6) 13. Small apartment (6) 14. Respiratory disorder (6)

With thanks to Rob Berry

DSM Toughie Crossword Clues Across 1. Exist with hygiene problem putting pressure on dance routine? (5) 4. Opening of hedge by nice spot in the garden making a safe place to rest? (7) 8. Protection for home? (3) 9. I’m in the money, mixing drink, but keeping it together. (9) 10. Climbers, four that is, getting to the first of summits. (5) 11. Instructs groups? (7) 13. Arrive safely after having to deal with hydrated gnome. (3, 4, 3, 3). 16. Sporting decision maker getting herb for critter? (7) 18. Ditches MG in part exchange with lechers? (5) 19. Slanderous louse bill passed? (9) 21. Thumb perhaps, got too warm in the end? (3) 22. From now on leaders of American With thanks to M.Morris national youth movement obey rules exactly! (7) 23. Smooth look for over fifty? (5)

Clues Down 1. Old crooner has to overcome very little resistance to dancing? (7) 2. Tried best to organise 8 Across perhaps? (9) 3. Mama perhaps caught between constant and love for cubist? (7) 4. Verbal appreciation of being in theme somehow works with first of exponents? (4, 5, 4) 5. Organised cleaned out Cornish farm? (5) 6. Sash that is replacement for decoration? (3) 7. Fumes coming from kitchen stoves after new part removed? (5) 12. Least cold setting for possible inspiration for Falstaff? (9) 14. Spring rolls over first of Easter Sunday indications of downfall? (7) 15. Draw a veil to mask hay mess? (7) 16. Pancho maybe at home in Rome? (5) 17. Nothing can replace Tory in confused logic in the house. (5) 20. Leaves 4 Across perhaps? (3)

Q1. What is special about these words: job, polish, herb? Q2. Turn me on my side and I am everything. Cut me in half and I am nothing. What am I? Q3. There is a word in the English language in which the first two letters signify a male, the first three letters signify a female, the first four signify a great man, and the whole word, a great woman. What is the word? Q4. What do you throw out when you want to use it but take in when you don’t want to use it?

Q5. Four cars come to a crossroads (in France), all coming from a different direction. They can’t decide who got there first, so they all go forward at the same time. They do not crash into each other, but all four cars go. How is this possible? Q6. Guess the next three letters in the series GTNTL. Q7. Find a number less than 100 that is increased by onefifth of its value when its digits are reversed.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 31

Answers on P.33

Brain Gym

integrity of the kingdom there are a few reserve ravens, kept securely, to cover for just this type of tragic emergency. In case you are ravenly curious the names of the raven first team are Jubilee, Harris, Grip, Rocky, Erin and the missing Merlina. It is understood one noble reserve raven, as yet to be positively identified, has accepted the nomination and will step up to meet the first team challenge. Cover in depth.

Now that continuous twittering from other parts of the United States has died down a bit, here in rural Connecticut we can hear other birdsong. For instance, let’s all hear it for Joe! Who would have thought that NOT being a true Blue Band yankie doodle racing pigeon could have been a life saver! But so it is! The negative proving the positive. You may have missed the saga of Joe the pigeon who on apparently landing in the land of Oz was suspected of being a super spreader from America. A biosecurity risk. Yes, poor exhausted Joe was the subject of a minute examination of the colour and condition of his feathers and an intrusive investigation into his lineage and age, and with the threat of euthanasia looming was at the very eleventh hour hour freed from death row isolation, cleared of any wrong doing! The drama of the situation was undeniable. It was touch and go for Joe. But in the end it was that same Blue Band that proved his innocence. It was the wrong sort of Blue Band. It was not a genuine yankee band from the Racing Pigeon Union of America but a mischievous hoax Blue Band and Joe was in fact a home grown Turkish Tumbler pigeon from Oz. Phew! Some people, eh?

Fortunately it seems that the French also have this type of emergency covered. Sensory Heritage of the Countryside, that translates to mean sights, sounds and smells to you and me, is now actually protected by legislation, and those same protected sights, sounds and smells have come to the posthumous aid of Maurice the noisy rooster and his ilk. Maurice had been under threat by those to whom his rising obligato was not welcome on a daily basis, and a court case had been brought seeking to silence him. Maurice, the by now (in)famous rooster, won the day in a famous victory and stepped straight into Sensory Heritage History. When Maurice sadly died of a respiratory infection, coryzain, in 2019 his bereft owner eulogised Maurice and celebrated his desire to sing a morning song that was unfortunately not enjoyed by the relative incomers (neo rurals) seeking the peace and quiet of the countryside, so traditionally and dearly imagined. Maurice2 also sings, but cannot vocally quite compare with the hero of Sensory Heritage, Maurice the Great. C’est la Vie.

I realise my thoughts have been dominated by the imminent arrival of the owl nesting boxes that are due to touch down here in Connecticut shortly. Boxes with cameras! Birthday gift! I am hoping that a brace of owlets will eventually protect my tomato crop from the marauding chipmonks, but I must be patient as that is a few seasons away yet! I will also have practical home schooling covered in a stroke by this initiative. But until we have the full owlet protection plan up, running and rolled out, please, please continue to mask up and stay safe.


And in another shocker, have you heard that the Brits have lost one of the ravens that lived in the exclusive Tower of London, London, England, address! Now, you may think so what! But this is pretty serious! Legend has it that if the ravens leave the Tower, built by the Norman, William the Conqueror in 1070 something, the kingdom will fall, and one raven named Merlina seems to have upped and left and hasn’t been seen or heard of for several weeks. As you can imagine, Ravenmaster Christopher Scarfe is pretty upset at the loss, but as there must at all times be a count of six ravens around to protect the

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

Feathered Friends

by Stephen Shaw

One of the things that has given us pleasure since moving to rural France has been the incredible selection of birds we see around us. Heron, Hoopoe, Kestrel and Buzzard, to the aeronautical antics of the Swallows. We have an owl who perches on a tree stump each evening in the summer - it stares at us and we stare back.

After about ten days of rejection, Anna suggested we try moving it to the other side of the house. Like Jesus telling Peter to try casting his nets over the other side of the boat, the deed was done and....BOOM! Tit central. Those little fellas can get through a fat ball in under 24 hours. I didn’t realise bird watching could be so expensive.

This winter, in the fields surrounding us, there has been a constant visual display from clouds of birds twisting, turning, landing and taking off in their thousands. When in the garden I heard what I thought was the roar of a French fighter jet, turned out to be an enormous flock of birds taking to the sky simultaneously.

Like the rumble between the Sharks and the Jets in West Side Story, it is constantly kicking off between the Blue tits and the Great tits as they fight for the table.

As I drive down the lane near our house hundreds of birds fly out of the hedgerows on either side, and I feel like one of them as I drive in their midst.

But the feathered friends which have brought us most pleasure over the last few months are the four chickens we bought in the autumn. They scratch around the compound all day come rain or shine, are very friendly, contribute to the compost heap and to see the pleasure on Anna’s face as she shuttles back and forth to see if they’ve laid another egg is priceless. I see her lift the egg aloft like lady Liberty and I know it’s going to be a good day. The only down side is our cholesterol levels must be going through the roof.

Anna, my wife, asked me to build a bird table, I think she had seen Dick Strawbridge make one and if it’s good enough for Dick.... So, after constructing a bird table I attached it to the tallest post I could find (to guard against cat attack) and bashed it into the ground outside the kitchen window, at the front of the house. Premium bird seed was liberally scattered on the table and we sat back and waited for the ornithological show to commence....and we waited. We had even set up Anna’s telescope1 in the kitchen to get a close up of all the various migrating birds that would stop off for a short break on their journey. Nothing, not a dickey bird landed to sample our wares. The seed even started to grow and the table became covered in a mini lawn. It was never like this on Spring/Autumn/Winter Watch.

The telescope was acquired when Anna had the urge to look at the stars at night. Needless to say we couldn’t be bothered to read the instructions and never found out how to use the thing properly. It takes up a large area of our sitting room and we have to move it every time we want to draw the curtains. 1


Q1. They are pronounced differently when the first letter is capitalized. Q2. The number 8 Q3. Q4. Q5. Q6.

Heroine An anchor They all turned right I, T, S. The complete sequence is the first letter of every word in the sentence Q7. 45 (1/5 of 45 = 9, 9 + 45 = 54)

Easy Crossword: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Toughie Crossword:

S # S # B # # # E # A # L

C O P P E R # S T U D I O

R A P # M # E E D # L # G I N # A # D E A # A # E R N # H # V A N # R # A T H

E # R # C # # R H # A # # S A # H # T H W # E # A L # # M # C E # # T # E # A

E F U S E # E # Q # O M B U S # A # I # P L I N G # E # T # I S H # # # I # A # A B U S E # L # T # N I G H T # N # M # F G H A N





9 10 11 12 13





13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13 13

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

B O P P I N G # V I L L A

E # A # V # E # A # I # N

B O13 P # H E #13 I # O D #13 C E M S #13 A # E I E13 S # S T #13 S # W T H13 O M E E #13 # # E R M13 I N T # #13 G # H B E13 L L O A #13 O # M Y M13 O R E

A R B # A # E N T # C # C H O # # # A N D # E # # M O # E # U S # # I # # S L










O B I # O L D C A S T L E

U R # A N G # E L S # # R Y # A T S # H O M # A E K

9 10 11 12 13

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 33

La Vie En France


by Sue Burgess

Almost as important as Easter Sunday in the French Catholic Church calendar is « Rameaux » (Palm Sunday). The Passion is read before the churchgoers enter the church then the priest blesses the « rameaux », which are usually pieces of « buis » (a sort of box hedge), with holy water. All this means that Palm Sunday mass is rather a long affair. The « rameaux » are placed on the crucifix at home or taken to the cemetery and placed on a family tomb.


ent (« le Carême ») began on 17 February this year. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday (« le mercredi des cendres »). It is preceded by Shrove Tuesday (« Mardi Gras ») a day on which it is traditional in France to eat « beignets », « tourtisseaux » and « merveilles ». Beignets and Merveilles are generally doughnut type things – made from deep fried batter whereas tourtisseaux are flaky pastry affairs. The names are regional and vary from place to place. Pancakes (« les crêpes ») are traditionally eaten on 2 February (« La Chandeleur »). Easter falls at the beginning of April this year and Easter customs are a little different in France. It’s not the Easter rabbit (« le lapin de Pâques ») who brings the Easter eggs (« les oeufs qu chocolat / les oeufs de Pâques ») but the church bells (« Les cloches »). Traditionally church bells are not rung between Good Friday (« le vendredi saint ») and Easter Sunday (« le Dimanche de Pâques ») as a sign of mourning and remembering the three days between the death and the resurrection of Christ. Legend says that the church bells fly to Rome to be blessed and drop the chocolates in the garden as they fly back on Easter morning. And not only chocolate eggs (« les oeufs au chocolat ») but also chocolate hens (« les poules ») and rabbits (« les lapins »)

Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Les cloches Church Bells Vendredi saint Good Friday Dimanche de Pâques Easter Sunday La chasse aux oeufs Easter egg hunt Le cierge pascal Easter candle La semaine sainte Holy Week Joyeuses Pâques Happy Easter Les oeufs en chocolat chocolate eggs / easter eggs Le lapin rabbit Une chasse aux œufs an Easter egg hunt Le printemps spring Le poussin chick La poule hen Une jonquille daffodil L’ail des ours wild garlic

Photos from Pixabay

Good Friday is NOT a bank holiday here but Easter Monday (« le lundi de Pâques ») is. A great number of French people eat lamb (« l’agneau ») or kid (« le chevreau ») on Easter Sunday (« le Dimanche de Pâques »). The lamb accompanied with « mojettes » (white beans) or « flageolets » and the kid by spring/wild garlic (« l’ail des ours »)

In the North of the Deux-Sèvres, there is a special Easter cake (« gateau de Pâques »), a sort of soft shortbread pastry stuffed with prunes. And in Poitou Charentes, we can find « le pâté de Pâques ». A sort of ham and egg pie with sausage meat and hard boiled eggs.

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

DÉCHETTERIES Up to date information about opening hours, restrictions, etc for your local déchetterie? Visit the website for details For waste disposal outside of the Deux-Sèvres there’s an alternative website

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 35

Magnolia Farm Renovations Goodbye Old Friend...

by Owen Kitchener-McCartney

We had Tim, our electrician, round doing work for us in the main house one day when we explained the plight of our other building. We told him that we were worried that it would fall down before the builder was due in January. He told us not to worry and that we surely couldn’t be that unlucky... Sure enough, approximately 30 minutes after this very conversation, we all headed outside to investigate an, inevitable but also frighteningly loud, crash! Some more of the front wall had collapsed and there was a new, very large crack between the wall and pier. Luckily for us, despite it being a few days before Christmas, our builder, Behar of BM Construction managed to squeeze us in and with the help of a cherry picker and a big hammer, managed to get the walls down to a safe level to avert the danger just in the nick of time in true Hollywood fashion!

Sometimes, all it takes for a 300 year old building to collapse is a hapless couple of Brits to buy it and then helplessly watch it fall apart. It’s difficult to say what the original use for this building was. We were told by the agent that sold us the property that it had dwelling status although there had clearly been cows living downstairs and what was left of the upper floor was definitely being used as a hay loft. We’d long admired the ‘old house’ on our property but very much viewed it as a long term project to be tackled once the main house was at least habitable. A storm back in the summer of 2020 put paid to that idea however, taking what remained of the old roof crashing down between its already decaying walls. We were locked down in the UK at the time when our neighbour contacted us to say the old girl’s roof had fallen in. It wasn’t until the autumn that we were able to get out to France and survey the damage. One particular wall of the building had a worrying lean, more than likely due to the ingress of water into the old stone walls which were no longer covered by a roof. We contacted some builders for quotes and also the local Mairie for advice. The ‘Rural Police’ even came round to inspect and we ended up with cones and traffic calming measures around the wall nearest the road. It was all a bit dramatic! The officer even rang our builder to see if he could come any earlier as there was a real risk that the building could fall, taking next door’s lean-to with it! 36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

Unfortunately, a lot of the front facing wall had to go and we’re now left with a building that would have looked at home in Sarajevo circa. 1992! One day though, when our limited funds allow, we will rebuild our old house/cow shed into a separate gîte in the hope that a building that has cost us an unexpectedly high amount of money so far, may return the favour and generate an income. For now though, it will just have to look a bit forlorn under the weight of its own rubble. Goodbye old friend...we will rebuild!

Antiques: What’s “Hot” and what’s “Not” I’d like to begin this article with a fairy-tale; namely that of The Emperor’s New Clothes by Hans Christian Andersen. This cautionary tale relates to a vain ruler who was taken in by a magnificent suit of “new clothes”, invisible to all except those who could appreciate its beauty. Why do I tell you this dear readers? The modern day parallel concerns much of the so-called “retro” or “vintage” trends which are little more than smoke and mirrors and an attempt to talk-up the mundane or plain ridiculous into something trendy and “must-have.”

this with sticking wallpaper on a plywood and monkeywood chest of drawers, in the style of a famous children’s TV programme.

b Philip y Bailey

In the current market, the classic collectible marques of Royal Doulton, Carltonware, Moorcroft and even Clarice Cliff have peaked and can be picked up relatively cheaply. The most hackneyed phrase currently is that “brown furniture is dead.” I say “buy it now” as quality will rarely be unfashionable for long. Trends in the antique world tend to be cyclical and the Georgians will come round again very soon! Of course, precious metals such as gold and silver continue to rise and famous brands such as Rolex and Omega are doing very well. Provenance is everything in this area as fakes abound.

The TV is awash with such programmes that purport to be upcycling master classes when in reality they are pandering to “designers” who want to indulge their imaginations – often at grossly over-inflated prices. I don’t believe that money for nothing exists as some of these projects cost extravagant amounts. Painting one chair leg a different colour than the rest is hardly innovative or cutting edge design. To put it bluntly, “self-indulgent clap-trap.” However, I can think of a few designers on the box currently who are truly talented, two are old-fashioned artisans and another is an innovative blacksmith whose animal creations in particular are stunning. One of these craftsmen has just restored a rosewood dining table and chairs – including making exact replicas of the two missing chairs as well as reattaching the table legs that the previous owner had sawn off. The results were truly astounding and reflected in the final selling price. I heard a very apt comment recently – “patina is just another word for rust.” Many a true word spoken in jest but when old – and very rusty - iron railings were turned into a console table at a cost of £600 I began to despair. Needless to say the item remained unsold when the presenter went to update the person they’d met at the tip. Few would deny that trades such as upholstery are genuinely skilful but that 1950’s utility chair hardly matches the style of Ray and Charles Eames or Arne Jacobsen. This fascination, nay obsession, with mid-century furnishings is undoubtedly big business as is oily and rusty industrial metalwork. Waxing over rust will not prevent it coming through in time! I lump

Militaria is another thriving field, especially medals whose recipients and their service can be easily researched on-line. When standing at brocante markets, I am constantly asked for watches (montres), articles militaire and more recently, disques vynles. This is a specialist field but some obscure pressings can make hefty sums. Oriental antiques are also doing well but are notoriously hard to date as styles and backstamps (the marks found underneath a piece) are frequently re-issued. Beware of pieces mass produced for the export and tourist market. The same caveat applies to “ethnographica”, pieces from around the world made by indigenous peoples. There have been some eye-watering prices for early pieces, particularly war clubs! This field really does demand provenance and the expert opinion. Be aware of banned and restricted materials such as ivory, rosewood and tortoiseshell. The penalties for the mis-use of such items can be severe. Whatever your interest, it’s still the thrill of the chase – finding the Holy Grail that will complete your collection. Try to choose quality though and Bon Courage! 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, March 2021 | 37



or the first time this year, the fabled Dakar Rally ran in conjunction with a new addition, the Dakar Classic.

Unlike the Dakar which is a speed event, the Classic, featuring cars and trucks from the 1980’s and 1990’s, is a regularity event.

by Helen Tait-Wright

In the Dakar, the 959 brought home the overall victory once again. Consequentally, a Porsche running again in the Dakar, albeit in the Classic event was sure to attract a huge amount of publicity. Amy Lerner, the lucky lady in charge of guiding this wonderful machine through the desert, cut her rallying teeth in the 2011 Rallye des Gazelles, in which she has competed 4 times.

A regularity event requires crews to maintain a precise average speed over the timed sections to arrive at the checkpoints at the exact time required. Chris and I have done some Historic regulation rallies and I can assure you it isn’t as easy as it sounds! Although the historic vehicles featuring in the Classic are no longer competitive against modern machines, the Dakar of the 1980s and 1990s was packed with images and stories that forged the DNA of the event, and this year’s event provided wonderful moments of nostalgia. Amongst the entrants were a pair of fabulous V8 Range Rovers Classics, but the car that captured my imagination was the Porsche 911 3.0l SC. It’s no secret that the 911 is my dream drive, in a love affair that started in the early 80’s, and a rally prepared example tacking the Saudi sand .... oh yes! Combine that with a classic Rothmans colour scheme and a woman driver, herself a former Gazelle, and you can imagine I was glued to the tracker!

Vintage Porsche in The Dakar

Back in the day, Porsche first tackled the Dakar in 1984 in a heavily modified version of the 911, the 953. An unlikely Dakar car perhaps, but out of the three cars Porsche entered, one came home in overall first place. It is sometimes referred to as the 911 4x4, as it used the developmental, manually controlled four wheel drive system that was intended to be used on the 959. With the development of the 959 taking longer than expected, for the 1985 edition they once again entered three cars in the Dakar with the proposed 959 body and the rest of the systems but retaining the engine of the 953 rally cars. These cars didn’t finish (only one due to mechanical failure however). At last the 959 was ready for the 1986 edition of the Dakar. The twin turbo charged 959 was the worlds fastest street legal production car when introduced, achieving a top speed of 317 km/h (197 mph), with some variants even capable of achieving 339 km/h (211 mph). During its production run, the 959 was considered as the most technologically advanced road-going Amy Lerner sports car ever built, and forerunner of all forthcoming sports cars. It was also one of the first highperformance sports cars with all wheel drive. 38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

Amy in The Dakar Classic #1

Since then she has competed in many off-road rallying events, but arrived at the Dakar start never having even sat in the car she was about to drive! “I bought the Porsche from Stephane Henrard in Belgium. It’s not the actual car of the 1984 Dakar but is a tribute to it. It was built in 1982. I haven’t even seen it yet but I know I’ll give it a big hug once we get to Jeddah.” Her co-driver was Sarah Bossaert, who had no motorsports experience but her expertise as an architect and competitive sailor, gave her the mindset she needed to be an effective teammate in this precision rally. “The regularity aspect is new (respecting an average speed throughout the stage). You have Amy in The Dakar Classic #2 to stay steady and that’s maybe the biggest challenge. You have to respect a specific speed or else you can get a penalty.” Despite mechanical set-backs and a steep learning curve , the duo finished 2nd in class and 15th overall, and according to the Dakar organisers, the Porsche was the most followed and photographed vehicle in the rally. Amy said “We should have gotten a lot of late penalties because it was impossible to resist stopping for photo shoots in the stunning scenery.” I’ve loved following this adventure and it probably won’t surprise you to know that I am busy studying entry requirements ….. just in case I can be part of a future Dakar Classic. ;-) Never stop chasing the dream!

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 39

Gazelles Update

with Helen Tait-Wright and Sue Alemann

A free flowing exhaust on a turbo engine such as Priscilla has improves the efficiency and therefore the performance, and one of our goals ahead of this rally was to improve her power-toweight ratio.

March 2021 Update. This month’s update starts by being about what’s not happening, at least not just yet. As some of you probably already know we got news after the last copy deadline that the rally would be delayed to May, our navigation training delayed until April and that our training in Morocco would be delayed again, also until April.

The exhaust combined with the bigger intercooler we already fitted, and taking lots of excess weight out of the car (which includes our own fitness and weight loss plan) should give her that extra oomph to climb those dunes!

So instead of driving in the Sahara sand, we are still training in the French mud !!

You already know we are supporting the school in Morocco as our humanitarian action alongside the rally, but during discussions with Giti, we were encouraged to find an environmental cause too. And we have found the perfect cause! The Bioparc in Doue la Fontaine will be 60 this year and as part of their celebrations they are looking to highlight 5 new projects they are involved in.

While the delays are frustrating, we are using the time productively and we have been out doing a few navigation exercices of our own locally, driving offroad wherever possible, and working on a new project that I will get to in a moment. Talking of new things we have a new team logo reflecting our place in the Giti Tire family, created for us by the graphics department at Giti HQ. We love it! We also have a new partner for our adventure, Demand Engineering back in Suffolk, who will be equipping Priscilla with a fabulous hand crafted exhaust system. While this is going to look amazing, there is also a more fundamental reason for a custom exhaust system.

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

One of which happens to be their Dama Gazelles, or Gazelles de Mhorr. The Dama Gazelle is one of the planet’s most endangered species, with less than 100 animals still living in the wild. The Bioparc have a breeding programme in conjunction with the Sahara Conservation Fund to establish herds that can be released back into their native Sahara, and have recently welcomed their first baby Gazelle! So us human Gazelles will be supporting the four footed Gazelles in Doue, which we are super excited about ! We don’t have all the info on how this will play out just yet, so make sure you follow us on social media channels to be the first to get the news! @gitigazelles Until next month ….

eck with that you ch re su en e Pleas n you are r associatio any club o setting off. visit BEFORE planning to

Clubs and Associations

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 41

Food and Drink New Flavours

by Jacqueline Brown

A quick look back to my calendar for the beginning of last year and there seemed to be no end of shared meals out in the village; social events that I’ve become accustomed to happening each year as volunteers are treated for their services to the commune, or associations get together to celebrate the beginning of a new year. This year couldn’t be more different. With no eating out or socialising and the realisation that our meals had become a little routine, we decided to treat ourselves to something different, albeit from the supermarket. Traditionally served in the winter months, choucroute is one of the meals that we have often enjoyed at our annual council and commune staff thank you meal, but not one we’d ever eaten at home. When our hungry eyes were drawn to a varied display of choucroute ingredients at the entrance to the supermarket, it was an easy decision to treat ourselves. We could have bought packs for one, two, or more, with the sauerkraut cabbage, boiled potatoes, smoked sausages and pork, all ready to reheat, or, more simply, just the ingredients on their own. The idea of paying someone to peel and cook a potato for me, even if this was supposed to be a treat, didn’t sit well, so we made our selections of meat, sausages and the prepared cabbage, to serve with our boiled potatoes and mustard. It was a great success, washed down with a beer, as is the custom with choucroute, and one we we’ve been happy to repeat. Coincidently, around the same time a local friend shared her recipe for fermented cabbage, and with cabbages featuring in our local veggie box, I was keen to try it out for myself. There are many health benefits to eating fermented vegetables, which are especially good for balancing the bacteria in the gut, that I can’t believe I’ve left it so long to get onboard. The fermenting process takes a bit of time but is otherwise easy and we’ve been very pleased with the results. Ed’s French girlfriend even declared it better than the sauerkraut cabbage you buy for a choucroute. It is definitely something I will continue making and although it will be homemade soups for lunch for a month or so yet, I am already looking forward to the crunch and flavour the fermented cabbage will add to our salads this summer. Continuing on the theme of new flavours, another discovery for us this month has been radis noir, or black radish, a large winter

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

root vegetable with a gnarly black skin that really doesn’t look very appetising. Our first one was gifted to us by a friend, and a quick internet search showed the easiest thing to do was to grate it raw. Its peppery heat was the perfect companion for a sauerkraut, herring and potato dish, and as an excellent source of nutrients that strengthen the immune system and boost digestion, it has now become a regular item in our local veggie box order. Stay safe, stay healthy. Email:

FED UP WITH COOKING ? FANCY A TAKEAWAY ? Check out our noticeboard (page 4) for some suggestions

S a u gé V i n t a ge T e a R o o m Château de Saugé One of our secret Saugé recipes especially for the Deux Sevres magazine readers. Triple Chocolate Cookies

Enjoy a beautiful Triple Chocolate Cookie Ingredients: •125 g Butter •100 g Light Brown Sugar •100 g Sugar •1 Medium Egg •1 tsp Vanilla essence •25 g Cocoa Powder •225 g Plain Flour •1/2 tsp Salt •1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda •1/2 tsp Baking Powder •100 g White Chocolate Chips •100 g Milk Chocolate Chips •100 g Dark Chocolate Chips

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/375F and line two-four baking trays with parchment paper. Mix the Butter and both Sugars until light and fluffy and thoroughly combined Mix in the Vanilla and the Egg until thoroughly combined, then mix in the Cocoa Powder, Flour, Bicarbonate of Soda, Baking Powder and Salt until a thick paste/cookie dough is formed. Fold in the Chocolate Chips, and spoon the mixture onto the trays and make sure they are spread out so they stay separate I also use a 5cm ice cream scoop to make them identical sizes. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes until spread out perfectly crinkly. A minute or so less will be gooey, a minute or two more will be Crunchy. Once baked, remove from the oven and gobble them all up - don't burn yourself on the chocolate!

Also available to order. Donna @ Saugé Vintage Tearoom

Château de Saugé 2 Saugé 79400 Saivres inf o@ cha t ea u d e sa u g e. com

Introducing ‘42’© The Bestest Wine Rating System U’ll Ever Need!! I was relaxing on my chaise longue one late morning, wondering how to describe the drizzle against the window panes: was it heavy or light? a mizzle? turning to a shower? I was feeling all covidy, not symptomatic or even asymptomatic (for all I knew), just grungy and lethargic. And 19, I thought, when will that ever again be the best year of your life, just an innocent prime number? So many questions, so much time. As I turned away to check the French for ‘mizzle’, regretting that I’d spurned the 2 for 1 offer on laudanum at Hyper U, my gaze fell upon a wine magazine lying skew-whiff on an occasional table (sometimes it twilights and does other stuff). The magazine was open at a page of adverts for high-end wines – you know, the glinting glasses, bottles just so, grinning dudes with their gals – all of which preened themselves with scores out of 100, sometimes out of 20, but scores nonetheless, paraded like achievements for… for what? Wine rating hasn’t been with us since time immemorial. It’s not like, I dunno, baked beans which as any fule know were stocked on the Ark. It was not until the 1970s, the greatest of all decades, that the beast flicked open a primordial eye and started to shuffle up an American beach. I like to call the beast Bob, or Robert, or if I must, Robert Parker. Bob jacked in his career as a lawyer, having decided it would be much more fun telling people what to drink. This was an era when more and more foreign wines were being made available in the States, and the average Yank being even more clueless than the average Brit when it comes to things foreign, they needed guidance, bless. We are all used to seeing things judged out of 100, or being judged ourselves out of a 100 (I’m afraid little Johnny only scored 21% in his politeness test), or feeling under the weather ie less than 100%. So Bob had the not entirely original idea of extending this to wines: rate them out of 100. It had the stamp of authority with a snake oil sidling of familiarity. It caught on like a bomb. Bob started publishing his Wine Advocate magazine (Bob had been a lawyer = advocate – geddit?) and wine makers around the world came to love him or loathe him depending on their rating. But here’s the thing. In the words of Bob himself: my scoring system gives every wine a base of 50 points. I continue with the words of the saint: 90 – 100 is equivalent to an A…80 – 89 to a B in school [note ‘in school’ which gives the game away]…70 – 79 a C…below 70 is a D or F, depending on where you went to school. So are you tasting an Eton or Harrow, or a local comp, old boy, me old mucker? This silliness continues to this day, even being mimicked by such otherwise serious magazines as Wine Enthusiast and Wine Spectator – all of them still giving life to the phantom 50 points. Not everyone, thank God, buys in to this ‘system’. And as you might expect, the phlegmatic Brits lead the pack. The doyenne of wine writers, Jancis Robinson, uses a 20 point scale, though she prissily tries to sidestep the whole vulgar business – we are not very comfortable with scoring wines – love that ‘we’. But even Ma’am only goes from 20 points (‘truly exceptional’) to 12 (‘faulty or unbalanced’) leaving eight points floating in the ether. Do they gang up with Bob’s fifty and head off for a sleazy night on the town? I do hope so.

by John Sherwin

The best approach (until now – see below!) was that adopted by fellow Brit Michael Broadbent (1927 – 2020), wine writer, critic and auctioneer. Mr Broadbent was an extremely knowledgeable man with a laconic air; a good dose of John Gielgud with a couple of teaspoons of Bill Nighy. He used a five star system: 5 – it was amazing; 4 – really liked it; 3 – liked it; 2 – it was okay; 1 – did not like it. So, I trust you will agree with me, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, that there is no such thing as a 100-point rating system, nor even a 20-point. As the Emperor with no clothes might have said, don’t piss on my shoes and tell me it’s raining. So, in the interests of openness and clarity, I am proud to introduce the 42©-point scale. (Or should that be 42-point©? Note to self –talk to lawyer.) The first system where every point counts, yes sirree! Why 42? I hear you ask. John, it’s not as round and reassuring as 100 or 20, how can you expect us to understand? Calm thee. As Douglas Adams revealed in ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, the number 42 is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, and ?/ if the Good Book says 100 so it must be true. If you need further proof (that’s proof, not ‘proof’), Elvis died at 42, Desert Island Discs was created in 1942 and has 42 guests per year, and cricket has 42 laws. I could go on. So how does it work? (It’s deceptively simple, but trust me, it was bashed out with the boffins at AstraZeneca over not one but two lunch breaks.) Points are accumulated as follows: 2 points for each free bottle sent by producer, minimum one bottle, maximum 21. In the latter case a 42 point score is automatically awarded, but for cheapskate producers we continue with – 5 points if it smells OK; 5 points if there’s nothing swimming in it; 5 points if I can keep it down 10 points for a classic label; minus 5 for ‘jokey’ labels with garish designs 1 point for cork corks; 5 for plastic; 10 for Coke-type metal; 20 for screwtop The balance depends on what music I’m listening to and how much white smoke is issuing from my chimney. Take my nonsense and their nonsense with a good pinch of salt (aka a pleasing tingle of the ocean). Taste; make your own mind up; ignore others. Now, for God’s sake, where’s that chaise longue? The one with the 98% comfort rating as opposed to the other at only 96.5%.... John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021| 43

Building and Renovation The French House Satellite TV TFH Satellite TV is coming to the Deux-Sevres! Est. 2005 in the Haute-Vienne, we are relocating to dept 79 in early March and will continue to offer the same services. This means we cover up to 90mins from our postcode of 79240. Supply & installation of free-to-air systems, including Freesat, as well as subscription TV. French TV (TNTSAT & Fransat) and other satellite TV services (but no terrestrial TV). We offer troubleshooting, dish alignments and part replacement. We can also install your own equipment and assist with satellite internet connections. Please feel free to get in touch to discuss your requirements.

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44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

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48 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

HANDYMAN A handyman service based in north Deux-Sèvres.

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 49

Business and Finance Four things Brexit has changed for UK nationals in France by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks

What does the post-Brexit landscape look like for UK nationals who live or enjoy spending time in France? 1. UK nationals are ‘third country’ nationals by default When the Brexit transition period ended on 31st December, the UK joined the likes of Australia and the USA in becoming a ‘third country’, with UK nationals losing the automatic right to study, work and live in the EU. Fortunately, Britons who can prove they were legally settled in France as at 31 December, 2020, can maintain citizens’ rights protections under the Withdrawal Agreement. 2. Non-EU residents can only stay in the EU for a limited time Coronavirus restrictions aside, UK nationals who don’t have EU residence or citizenship can currently still travel to France without a visa – but there are new limitations. Non-residents will only be allowed to spend 90 days in any rolling 180-day period here; to stay longer will require applying for a permit. This restriction covers the entire Schengen zone. If you enjoy spending part of the year in a French holiday home, this is likely to affect you. Take extra care when planning trips to Europe to avoid overstaying or being denied entry. 3. Applying for French residence is less straightforward Now, Britons wanting to live in France have to meet the legal immigration requirements and provide the correct documentation in advance of arriving. You need to go to the relevant consulate or

embassy in the UK for your paperwork. You need to demonstrate you have “sufficient” annual income to support yourself and any dependents without relying on the state. 4. UK financial arrangements may not work as before Brexit dissolved automatic ‘passporting’ rights for UK financial services in the EU. Unless they have arrangements in place to work in the relevant EU country, UK banks, advisers and other financial providers may no longer able to legally service EU residents. If you have a UK-based adviser, check they can still support you. If you have UK bank accounts or investments, you may be restricted from making changes. In some cases, UK assets may attract a higher tax bill in France now they are non-EU/EEA assets. Making the most of the new landscape You should, in any case, regularly check your tax and financial planning remains suitable for your circumstances, so it is sensible to review your arrangements now that things have changed. Talk to a locallybased, cross-border specialist who can help you take advantage of available opportunities and ensure you are you are suitably prepared for this post-Brexit world. Blevins Franks accepts no liability for any loss resulting from any action or inaction or omission as a result of reading this article, which is general in nature and not specific to your circumstances. Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at

Recently arrived in France? Looking for financial advice? The French tax and succession regime can be hard to navigate at the best of times, more so when we are social distancing. Blevins Franks has been providing effective tax and estate planning solutions to British expatriates for 45 years, along with investment and pensions advice.

Talk to the people who know

Our local advisers have a wealth of experience advising expatriates in France. You can benefit from their expertise from the comfort of your own home – simply contact the office to arrange a video or phone meeting and we can help you adjust your financial planning for your new life in France.

05 49 75 07 24


I N T E R N AT I O N A L T A X A DV I C E • I N V E S T M E N T S • E S T AT E P L A N N I N G • P E N S I O N S Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Wealth Management Limited (BFWML) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFWML is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority, registered number C 92917. Authorised to conduct investment services under the Investment Services Act and authorised to carry out insurance intermediary activities under the Insurance Distribution Act. Where advice is provided outside of Malta via the Insurance Distribution Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of Malta. BFWML also provides taxation advice; its tax advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. 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 Trustees Limited is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority for the administration of retirement schemes. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFWML.

50 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

Ask Amanda

by Amanda Johnson

Hi Amanda This question may have been asked before, but when is the best time to have a financial review. In the UK it would be around March, before the end of the financial year, but I am unsure now we are in France. The most important thing about financial reviews is to have them regularly. The French financial tax year runs 1st January until 31st December and April/May is the time of year when we complete our French tax returns. This generally gives you a prompt when you are declaring your investment gains and interest from savings accounts to ask yourself whether there are more tax efficient places for your savings and investments or whether regulations have changed in the last year. At the moment I am arranging my appointments via Video conferencing, so arranging a financial review couldn’t be easier. I am happy to set up a meeting to see if we can ensure your finances are as tax efficient as possible.

FIND the CHEAPEST FUEL prices in your area. This government run website provides comparative petrol and diesel prices in all areas of France. Just simply select your department from the map, and voilà!

Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below & I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for our reviews, reports, or recommendations. Amanda Johnson

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


Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 51

SWISSLIFE STRATEGIC PREMIUM This is Swisslife most flexible and popular Assurance Vie saving account/investment product. It is an Assurance Vie so it has all the advantages regarding French inheritance law, death duties and income tax. 1. Who can invest in it: Anybody who is a French resident (and Monaco) and above 18 years old. 2. How much can you invest in it: The minimum is 3 000€, no maximum. 3. How is it invested: As you wish, all secured or all risky or a bit of both, it is up to you. The secure part is called Fond Euro and the interest of the secured part is given on the 31st of December each year. The rate on the secure part is around 0.8% and pretty much the same for every company. Shares/ Funds can go up or down!! You can decide how much you want on shares so it could be all of it if you wish. This Assurance Vie has more than 400 funds/shares available so loads of choices on investments. 4. Investment socially responsible: Swisslife has a variety of funds which are classed as ISR which mean they have to follow some criteria based on 3 factors ESG: Ecology: Management of waste; Reduction of greenhouse gas emission; Prevention of environmental risk. Social: Prevention of accident; Training of employees and equality of chances; Respect of employees’ rights and social dialogue; Respect of subcontracting chain. Governance: Independence of the board of directors; Quality of the governance of the company; remuneration of directors; effort in anti-corruption. So, you can either choose some funds yourself that are ISR or choose the Gestion piloté where Swisslife choose and manage the ISR funds for you. 5. Guaranteed death extra: This contract includes an insurance so that if you die before you are 80 years old, Swisslife gives to your beneficiaries at least the amount of the value of your contract when you invested (minus the amount you have withdrawn yourself and to a maximum of 1.5 million euro). This is automatically included in the contract. e.g. If you invested 200 000€ on your account in 2018 and only have 174 800€ when you died (because your shares lost money), then Swisslife will give 200 000€ to your beneficiaries (minus fees and social charges) so reimburse the 25 200€ missing. So, if the market crashes, you are sure that your heir will get at least what you wanted them to have. 6. Options available: a) Securisation des performances: This is a very good option that means that when your shares/funds go up by 1 000, this gain is automatically transferred to the secure part of your Assurance Vie. You can choose between 10% and 100% of gain but the gain has to be at least 1 000€. This is very good and some of my customers have appreciated this option when the market has crashed back in March 2020 (Covid). Indeed, the gain they made the previous year had been transferred to the secure part of the Assurance Vie so the loss was less. b) Dynamisation progressive du capital: Some of you might be not too keen to invest all your eggs at once in case you 52 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

by Isabelle Want

are investing it all just before a crash (so at its highest) so Swisslife has come up with an option in which your capital is invested over a period of your choice - 6, 9, 12, 18 or 24 months. This means that you are investing at different stages of the stock market value. This option is also available when you make another deposit, not just when you open the investment. This is free. c) Arbitrage: This is the French word for switching from one fund to another. With Swisslife you are entitled to one free per year but can do as many as you want. So, if you are not happy with a fund, you can switch at any time you want. d) Gestion piloté: If you are not willing to trust me or yourself to choose your funds, you can let Swisslife manage it for you. You can choose between 6 types of investment between very low risk to high risk. Swisslife re-adjust the investments following their own expert advisers, so you have nothing to do. You can also choose to have both, meaning some part of your investment on “gestion piloté” and some on Gestion libre (as you wish). e) Securisation du capital: You can choose to make sure that your beneficiaries will get at least the amount you have invested to start with so 100% or 120% of what you have invested. So, if the market crashes, you are sure that your heir will get at least what you wanted them to have or more! You invested 100K but lost 10K, you die, then your beneficiaries still get 100K and not 90K. f) Stop loss option: This is an option that means that when your shares/funds go down by at least 1 000€, the fund is automatically transferred to the secure part of your Assurance Vie. You can choose between 10% and 100% of loss but the loss has to be at least 1 000€. 7. Fees: a) Entry fees: The entry fee is normally 4.75% of the amount invested but I am very nice, so I negotiate. If you invest at least 30% in shares, there is 0.5% entry fee! whatever the amount. If no shares at all, 2.5% entry fee. b) Management fees: 0.65% of the investment per year on the secured part (Fond euro). And 0.96% on the investment made of shares/Funds. c) Option fees: -0.70% per year for the Gestion profile option (0.70% on the shares amount). -0.1% of the amount transferred + 15€ administration fee for the securing of the performances. -0.1% of the amount transferred + 15€ administration fee for the stop loss option. -0.20% of the value of the shares/fund for switching shares/funds + a 30€ administration fee. Note that you are entitled to one free per year, so the fee is only taken if you have done one already. d) Guaranteed death extra: The fee is calculated monthly (end of each month) and it is a percentage (depending on your age) of the capitaI loss. If we take the same example as per paragraph 5 and you have a capital loss of 25 200€. You are 50 years old, then the fee is 25 200x0.69% divided by 12=14.50€. This fee is then taken at the end of the year. This fee is only taken if the capital is at loss. Here are the percentages per ages:

Face to Facebook

by Ingmar

Smart Ways to Build Your Business Online Part 4 This month is the last in the series in how you can make a Facebook page work for you and become an integral part of your business model. 80 million small businesses around the world use Facebook to market and sell their products and services, testament to the strength of the platform, but also taking advantage of a free resource. Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch but Facebook does give you easy options which we will look at further on in this piece.

8. Adding money to it: You can add money to it at any time but a minimum of 1 500€. 9. Regular withdrawal: You can set up Monthly, quarterly, twice a year or once a year automatic withdrawals which go directly to your bank account. This is free. 10. Regular deposit: You can choose to do regular deposits (Monthly, quarterly, twice a year or once a year) so the amount you choose to add to your Assurance Vie is taken automatically from your bank account. The amount is 100€ min per Month. 11. Availability: The present amount on your Assurance Vie is always available. So, the money is never blocked. There are no penalties for taking your money out, but tax may apply if you have made a capital gain. Note that there is a 30 days cooling period when you open an Assurance Vie (same for every companies) so no money is invested for the first 30 days. 12. French law: When you open a new Assurance Vie, there is always a 30 days cooling period before your money is invested. Conclusion: The advantages of the Assurance Vie savings account are well known and it is no secret that it is the preferred investment for French people not only because of its advantages but also for its flexibility. But even if Assurance Vie investments offer the same envelope with every company (same advantages in regard to French inheritance law and tax and income tax), it is important to notice the little differences and therefore shop around before making a decision. They can be different from one company to another and not just the entry or management fees! And remember to check out our web site fr/en for all my previous articles (“practical information”) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: “Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterpt” And don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subject such as Funeral cover, inheritance law, investments, car, house, professional and top up health insurance, etc…

Use the tools on offer. Facebook knows that the better the product they offer, the more they can reap the benefits of advertising income. This is a great benefit for you, the business owner who wants to have a Facebook page for your business. PAGES gives you better call-to-action buttons to make the user experience more efficient as well as improved chat via Messenger to streamline your customer service and response rate. INSIGHTS is a technical tool that helps you see which posts get the best engagement, who is looking and where they are looking from. You can use this information to target your posts based on their content, time of day and target audience. MESSENGER is more than just a chat tool, it can also be used for making payments, links to business pages and customized welcome notes to give a good first impression and welcome interaction. CANVAS is a fabulous tool for anyone who wants to push their creativity, but doesn’t have software such as Photoshop. You can make immersive and interactive content using video, images and buttons. Spend money to make money. Facebook generates over $18 billion per quarter from advertising, much of it quite annoying, but the confidence of major brands to invest in Facebook advertising should help you to decide on its effectiveness to you. The key factor to bear in mind is that Facebook advertising is not expensive as you control how much, where and when your money is spent. Creating ads is also easy and Facebook has more tools for you to choose from. AD CREATION gives you the ability to create an ad and then set your target audiences by location, age, interests and more. It is also full of advice and ideas to help you make the best of your spend. AD MANAGER helps you track those goals and gives you the ability to tweak them based on the insights you are given. On your page you will see the option to ‘Boost Your Posts’ and this is the gateway to reaching new audiences. Lean into other social media platforms. Facebook is over 60% of social media which is an impressive amount, but it isn’t where you should stop, merely where you should launch other social media channels from. Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn…there are many, and all of them have their benefits depending on what you are doing. If you run a restaurant or retail outlet, you should be on Instagram and Twitter. If you are quirky in your business and target a younger age demographic, Snapchat and TikTok will need to feature in your mix. If you run a consultancy you will probably want to start with LinkedIn and Twitter, but Instagram can also give you options. Look around the social media platforms, try them out and get used to them before you take the plunge. Check out similar businesses both here in France and further afield for inspiration. Social media success is very satisfying and that success can be measured how you like it. I ran a Facebook and mixed social media platform for a company that had millions of followers and interactions but am quite happy with my local Facebook business page to only have a handful of followers because it fulfills my requirements. Good luck, I look forward to seeing more pages soon.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 53


rance is justifiably renowned for its gastronomy and its regional FSèvres specialities provide real flavour to our lifestyle. In the Deuxwe’re famed for our savoury goats cheese and, for those

with a sweeter tooth, there’s a very special delicacy made with it – the Tourteau Fromager – a cheesecake which is, I have to admit, absolutely yummy! Well someone has to do quality control! The ‘Tourteau Fromager’ is a particular favourite in the southern Deux-Sèvres. Made in special non-stick bowl type pans, the recipe requires you to line the tin with shortcrust pastry, having first drained the goats cheese of as much moisture as possible. Five egg yolks are whisked with castor sugar, lemon zest and vanilla are added, then the goats cheese is carefully whisked in before combining in a little flour. Egg whites are stiffly beaten and folded in gently. Cooked in a very hot oven (280 degrees) for ten minutes before the oven is turned off, the Tourteau is left in for another 50 minutes – when it comes out of the oven this cheesecake may look almost burnt on top but don’t be deterred it is absolutely delicious. We’ve three lovely properties in the area to whet your tastebuds this month starting with a charming two/three bedroom detached property with south facing garden near Chey not far from Melle (Leggett: 119535). Downstairs there’s a generous kitchen/dining, living room with French doors and bathroom, upstairs are two bedrooms with the large mezzanine serving as an additional sleeping area. For sale at a tempting €56,600!

by Joanna Leggett

exposed stone, there’s central heating, double glazing and a wood burning stove! The kitchen’s delightful - the perfect spot to make Tourteau! There’s a gracious salon, dining and second reception (spacious games room). Off the large landing are three bedrooms – and three bathrooms! There are lovely front and rear gardens, a terrace overlooks surrounding countryside and a stunning swimming pool. The large attached barn is also immaculate, providing the cherry on top of this pie – €278,200. The final temptation, close to Melle (118079), is another substantial detached stone home with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, garage and outbuildings. In good condition, there’s potential to decorate to your taste or enjoy as is. There’s a kitchen with breakfast room, spacious salon and one of the bedrooms and a bathroom are conveniently situated on the ground floor. The enclosed garden has views out over the countryside – on for a tasty €149,950. This could really be the year to have your cake and bake it in your new kitchen – or you could buy one at a local patisserie as eating will definitely not be cheating in your new regime! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at

Our next offering is in Lezay (118020) – this beautifully renovated stone property, complete with original features wood beams and



€371,000 HAI

Ref. 118726 - In the heart of the Marais Poitevin this 300m² property has 3000m² of land and a stream. DPE D - agency fees to be paid by the seller

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

Pliboux 1.5 acre garden and grounds. DPE C - agency fees to be paid by the seller




€235,400 HAI


€130,800 HAI


€41,600 HAI

€162,000 HAI

Ref. 119792 - Delightful stone cottage standing in a

Le Breuil-Bernard

€178,200 HAI

Ref. 119012 - Striking 4 bedroom Maison de Maître

Ref. 119418 - Three single-storey rental lodgings

Ref. 119678 - Semi-detached 3 bedroom partly

Ref. 119663 - 4 bedroom house with enclosed

with original features. Walk to shops and train-station.

with a constructible parcel of land.

renovated house with garden to the rear.

gardens and old cottage for possible renovation.

DPE D - agency fees to be paid by the seller

DPE E - agency fees to be paid by the seller

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

DPE E - agency fees included: 8% TTC to be paid by the buyer

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

Buying or Selling Our clients are ready atoproperty buy NOW ? Contact us for a FREE Valuation and Marketing Advice 54 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021

This time of year is the time we can find that bees have taken a shine to our homes, out-buildings (or even cars). Get expert help with swarm removal Kevin & Amanda Baughen 16500 Confolens, Paul & Anne Clark 86250 Genouillé paul@bees86



4 Bedroom detached house in rural

Lovely country house with pool.

location, Gîte potential

Renovated to a high standard

Net price 141 800€

Net price 246 480€


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05 56 71 36 59 The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, March 2021 | 55

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