FREE / GRATUIT English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas Happy Easter Gardening More Anniversary Memories on p22/23 Advice and articles for every gardener From Architect to Baker One man’s journey for the love of bread
All our regular features including health, wealth, Book Corner and a larger than usual Take-A-Break for the Easter hols www.thedeuxsevresmonthly.fr Issue 115, April 2021
Welcome to Issue 115
pril already! We’re all looking forward to the time that life returns to some form of pre-COVID normality. As the sun has returned in the last few weeks, things seem somehow more positive. Fingers crossed.
With that in mind, this month our wonderful contributors have pulled out all the stops to help us in the garden. Our food section includes Easter recipes, a delicious story about bread and a special discount from one of our new advertisers for all DSM readers. We have new advertisers in pretty much every section and, being The DSM anniversary year, we’re re-publishing some more of the articles from the first few issues.
With the Easter holidays upon us we also have a larger than usual Take-A-Break section (for all ages) and if all that makes you hungry, check out the bulletin board for local takeaway options..
Hope you enjoy this month’s offering.
© 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:
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 3
2021 - Tirage: 2500 exemplaires. Siret: 830 076 345 00016 ISSN: 2115-4848
Tel: 07.68.35.45.18 Email: email@example.com Website: www.thedeuxsevresmonthly.fr Contents Bulletin Board 4 Technology 8 A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres 10 Home and Garden 12 Book Club 21 HAPPY ANNIVERSARY 22 Take a Break 24 Our Furry Friends 29 À La Carte 30 Health, Beauty and Fitness 32 Travel 34 La Vie En France 36 On The Road 39 Food and Drink 42 Building and Renovation 46 Business and Finance 52 Property 56 Clubs and Associations 58
ABORDimmo 57 Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) 48 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) 2 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) 48 Alcoholics Anonymous 58 Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group 55 Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) 49 Arbes et Abeilles (Plant nursery) 14 ARB French Property 57 Ark 79 Charity Shop 29 Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) 55 Autentico (Paint specialists) 20 Beaux Villages Immobilier 57 Belle Fleur - Natural Insect Repellant & Moisturiser 33 BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want 52 Blevins Franks Financial Management 54 BM Construction 48 Charente Assistance (Admin/Hand Holding) 38 Chateau Jarno Pépinière 14 Cherry Picker Hire (Tony Moat) 50 Chez Christie’s Tea Rooms 5 Chris Bassett Construction 49 Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) 49 Clean Sweep Chimney Services 47 CLE (Charente Limousine Exchange) 58 Cosmetic Contour 33 Darren Lawrence 48 EFS France – Home Security Company 47 EnglishSpoken.com 51 Franglais Deliveries (Transport & Removal Services) 40 Glendee Property Services 49 Hallmark Electricité 47 Harrison Hair (Mobile Hairdresser) 32 Hiley Location digger hire ,and groundworks 50 HMJ (Renovation service) 48 H & R Building Services 48 Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries 50 Jeff’s Metalwork 49 Joanne Goodall - Cleaning, House-sitting, Odd Jobs 14 John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic 40 Jon - the carpetman 15 Keith Banks Pool Services 57 KJ Painting and decorating 51 Leggett Immobilier 56 LPV Technology (IT services) 9 Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction 48 Michael Moore (Electrician) 47 Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) 46 Mike Sweeney - Motorsport Engineering 40 ML Computers 9 Mr Fix It (Garden Maintenance) 14 Mutuelles de Poitiers Assurances 55 Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) 51 Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) 33 Paul Starsmeare (Mechanic) 40 Pinnacle Garden Care 15 Poitiers Biard Airport 2 Projet Piscine (Swimming Pool solutions) 57 RJC Pool Services 2 Rob Berry (Plasterer) 51 Robert Mann (Upholstery) 20 Ross Hendry 9 Safe Hands 79 (Garden maintenance) 15 Shabby Shutters - Shutter repair and painting 49 Simon the Tiler 51 Smart Moves - Removals & Storage 40 Smart Services (Home and Garden Services) 15 Stephen Shaw Painter 51 Steve Coupland (Plumbing and renovations) 49 Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) 49 Strictly Roofing 46 Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) 36 Sunny Sky Cars 40 TheatriVasles 58 The Dream Team - Teamwork at its best 60 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre 40 The Fixer - Rick Denton 38 The French House Satellite TV 47 The Hope Association 29 The Trading Post (International Food & Drink) 43 Tim Électricien 79 47 Val Assist (Translation Services) 38 Vienne Tree Services 15 15 SAMU (Medical Advice) 17 Gendarmes (Police) 18 Pompiers (Fire Service) EMERGENCY NUMBERS: 112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol
ATony & Lynne This Month’s Advertisers
The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days
Fri 1 January New Year’s Day (Jour de l’an)
Sun 4 April Easter Sunday (Pâques)
Mon 5 April Easter Monday (Pâques)
Sat 1 May Labour Day (Fête du premier mai)
Sat 8 May VE 1945 (Fête du huitième mai)
Thu 13 May Ascension Day (Ascension)
Sun 23 May Whit Sunday (Pentecôte)
Mon 24 May Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte)
Wed 14 July Bastille Day (Fête nationale)
Sun 15 August Assumption Day (Assomption)
Mon 1 November All Saints’ Day (Toussaint)
Thu 11 November Armistice Day (Armistice)
Sat 25 December Christmas Day (Noël)
The Filling Station - Poitou-Charentes. Local Christians of all denominations who meet for spiritual renewal and evangelism. www. thefillingstationfrance.com 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. www.allsaintsvendee.fr
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: www.therendezvous.fr
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 www.vie-nouvelle-civray.fr 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: www.church-in-france.com
Chateau de Saugé
PORK ‘N’ PIES TRADITIONAL BRITISH COOKING
MR T’S FRITERIE
Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime
Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime
Open mornings Tel: 05 46 01 54 65
Café Bonbon 85120 La Chapelle-aux-Lys
Saturday 4pm - 6pm
Fish, king prawns and chips
Fish and chips
Bou e Bag - complete curry meal - choices vary each week
Cold sous vide...
Arrange via Facebook page, e-mail or www.cafebonbon85.fr
• Ballans 17160
Regular venues at: Aulnay de Saintonge 17024
• Beauvais Sur Matha 17490
• St Jean D’Angély 17400
• La Chapelle 16140
• Sainte Soline Ark 79 Events 79120
• Sauzé-Vaussais Hope 79 79190
• Private catering Tel: 06 02 22 44 74
Takeaways available Tuesday to Saturday 12h to 17.30h
Fish & chips, pie & chips, kebab & chips, hamburger & chips, pizzas
Order in advance 05.49.63.07.61
Christie’s Tea Rooms
A selection of Home-Made Cakes to Take Away available every day are:
Scones, Rich Fruit Cake, Lemon Drizzle Cupcakes plus one or more of ...
Chocolate Brownies / Brioche Bread Pudding / Almond, Cherry & White Chocolate Cupcakes. Order in advance by phone: 05.49.50.61.94 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Traditional A ernoon Tea in a box with a bottle of our Artisan Blonde Beer for only €20.
Homemade Cookie Bags - 4 large cookies 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: email@example.com Tel: 06.29.15.36.55
Friday take away & delivery service
Our full take out menu is here: www.lecafecivray.com/menu
We take orders by Wednesday for Friday pick up. All by Facebook messenger or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Bulletin Board 4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April
Jouin de Marnes - Outside the Boulangerie - 17:30 to 20:30 - every Tuesday evening EXCEPT DURING PERIOD OF 18:00 CURFEW when we have changed our times to ..... Saint Jouin de Marnes - Outside the Boulangerie - 12:00 to 14:30 - every Tuesday lunchtime WEEKLY SPECIALS INCLUDING INDIAN CURRY Tel: 06 23 25 48 36 www.facebook.com/pg/fryertucks1 Fancy a takeaway? Get yours PLUS a copy of The DSM at these places ...
AirvaultTakeaway shandchips(otheroptionsMonavailableonrequest) - Sat 16.30 - 18.00 yourPleasecallon06.30.01.87.73toplace order.
Letter From BLighty
by Beryl Brennan
Itwasn’t a decision made lightly – even though our daughter had been on at us for years, “do it before you’re too old” was her cry! But with no horses now to graze the 7 hectares on our farm, and being worried about OH climbing up replacing cracked roof tiles and broken sheets on the bergerie, the lure of a single storey, centrally heated, modern permanent abode proved strong.
So that was it – farm sold, furniture sold, decluttering like there was no tomorrow – plus discovering some things we hadn’t seen since we left Blighty in 2002 and which have now made the return journey – we loaded the 3 dogs in the car, hitched the caravan, locked the doors and gates and headed in the direction of the Tunnel.
Though I say it myself, I’m a good organizer. But no matter how carefully one plans, there are bound to be hitches! Or maybe something was telling us to turn round before it was too late! In the dark and rain with signs for Rouen ahead, warning lights came on the car dashboard. Well, what do you do? It’s all electronic now, isn’t it. How to tell if it’s serious and the engine might blow up? I’m also a worrier!!
Assistance arrived within half an hour of the phone call for help and we followed the depannage off the autoroute, to his garage, where the very kind man and his son connected the car to a computer. The diagnosis was made and necessary action taken to send us on our way. ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be OK for another 2,000 km.’ Reassuring when the orange lights are still flashing on the dashboard!
By this time we’re 2 hours late arriving at the Calais hotel for our overnight stop. It looked great on booking.com. What the description didn’t tell you was that it was just down the road from Sangatte – it was certainly an eye opener driving past the miles of double fencing. But no sign of people; had it been cleared, I tried to remember? It didn’t help when the receptionist at the hotel warned us to make sure the caravan was locked as there were asylum seekers around.
Sharing the room with the 3 dogs that night, needless to say neither of us slept much!
With virus restrictions, the hotel was well organized. The restaurant was closed but continental breakfast was served in paper carrier bags and hot drinks from a machine. Replenished for the journey, dogs walked, caravan hitched, we headed off for our Tunnel trip –booked in advance.
The nearer we got to the Tunnel, the sadder we felt, leaving behind 19 years of French life, leaving behind the lovely friends we’d made and, because of virus restrictions, we hadn’t even been able to say a proper farewell.
Car problems behind us we should make our rental in Lincolnshire before dark.
No such luck, but that’s another story!
GREAT GIFTS & BEAUTIFUL CARDS
Sca rves, T apestry, C andles, Socks, M ugs, T ins, Puzzles, Je we llery, Books
DELICIOUS HOME-BAKING Scones, Cupcakes, Chocolate Brownies, Fruitcake, Brioche BreadPudding
Take Away Only tillTea Room can Reopen! P lus, while stocks last:
SUPER RAN GE O F FAC E MASKS (C at 1 )
½ PRI CE! Ad ult: now 2 ,25€ C hild: 1 ,99 €
3pm - 6p
Mondays......... Benet 85490
La Châtaigneraie (last Monday in month) 85120
Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140
Tuesdays......... Lezay 79120
Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300
Parthenay 79200 - and - Celles-sur-Belle 79370
Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 - and - Niort 79000
La Mothe St Héray 79800
Thouars 79100 - and - Melle 79500
Secondigny 79130 (pm)-and-St Aubin le Cloud (pm)
Civray 86400 (small food market)
Antigny 85120 (1st and 3rd Fridays - pm)
La Mothe Saint-Héray 79800 (Place Clémenceau)
Saturdays........ Bressuire 79300 - and - Champdeniers 79220
Airvault 79600 - and - Niort 79000
Saint Maixent-l’École 79400
Magné 79460 and Moncoutant 79320
Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 5 --and
C hr istie’s
www CHEZCHRISTIES com 05 49 50 61 94 GENÇAY(86)-behindtheMairie Siret:47876969800018
T UES-SAT: 10am - 12 n oon :
m m ore d etails o n o ur W ebsite & Faceb ook :
International Day of .....
...World Voice Day (16th April)
by Beryl Brennan
Howmany of you, like me, have noticed the timbre of your voice changing over the years? For some, it can be caused by giving up smoking – not a problem I had as I never could acquire the taste of a cigarette - doing a lot of shouting, too much drinking. It can also be a condition called presbyphonia which is, basically, getting old. So now we know!
As we grow older the voice box changes. Not so important that it affects my quality of life but to someone like a singer it can be life changing. All the more amazing that Sir Tom Jones still has such a marvellous singing voice at his age, probably reflecting the care he has taken of it over the decades.
The larynx (voice box) can also be affected by vocal cord dysfunction as a result of asthma or a prolonged throat infection or, at the worst, throat cancer.
Our voice is a vitally important part of every-day life, in schools, in work, social interaction – how would anyone communicate on their mobile phone without their voice?
So it was with this in mind that back in 1999 a group of Brazilian voice care professionals from the Society of Laryngology and Voice decided to celebrate the voice and established Brazilian Voice Day. Other countries followed suit, including Argentina and Portugal, leading to International Voice Day. The American Academy of Head and Neck Surgery then got involved and in 2002 the event became recognized globally as the World Voice Day we celebrate today, the aim being to show the enormous importance of our voice, the need for preventative care and to encourage us to take care of our voice and seek help should we have problems.
In 2012 three voice researchers, a Swede, an Austrian and a Portuguese, invited voice experts from a number of countries to form an international website group and there are now 66 members who initiate and co-ordinate events for World Voice Day in their respective countries.
So to get back to the
causes of our voice changing. As mentioned before, getting older can affect the volume of the voice; with some people it can become louder with strong lung capacity. People with respiratory problems could find their voices are quieter because of a shortage of breath.
A change in pitch is a common problem with ageing and with women the menopause can cause atrophy of the muscles in the vocal chords. In both men and women a lack of regular physical activity can cause weakness; a man’s pitch typically rises slightly whilst a woman’s drops. How many people will see changes in their voice pitch after a year of lockdowns?
It’s not something we think about when young but children should be encouraged to take care of their voice boxes to maintain a healthy voice. For starters, turn down the radio or tv at home so children don’t have to shout. Don’t shout to each other between rooms or up the stairs – face each other when speaking. If children have singing and drama lessons, a speech and language therapist can advise them how to take care of their voices.
Don’t encourage a child to make strange throat noises or imitate characters with strange voices –don’t encourage them to copy characters in films or television such as dinosaurs or cartoon characters. Everyone should avoid coughing and throat clearing – not hard to understand the damage this can do to the larynx.
As anyone who has suffered with tonsillitis or laryngitis knows, not being able to communicate vocally can impact on one’s life – even routine tasks such as speaking on the telephone becomes extremely frustrating.
Many people overcome daily challenges brought about by voice problems and, luckily, most recover their voice. Through World Voice Day, healthcare providers, product inventors and more are working together to raise awareness of the need to look after our voices throughout our lives.
So what should we do to ensure we look after our voice?
1. Drink plenty of water – 6-8 glasses/day
2. Avoid speaking too loudly or softly
3. Don’t speak or sing when your voice is hoarse or tired
4. Don’t go to noisy places where you have to raise your voice
5. Use a microphone where appropriate
6. QUIT SMOKING!
Better start filling my wine glass with water!
More information is available on this website: www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/taking-care-your-voice World Voice Day website: www.world-voice-day.org
6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
View from the Vendée
by Karen Taylor
It all started during the second lock-down at the end of October. One of the things we enjoy about living in France is visiting the many cafés, bars and restaurants locally and on the coast. We’d always make sure we included a coffee stop on our bike rides and dog walks invariably finished at 1pm conveniently near a favourite restaurant. So the closure of eateries on the 30th October (the date is etched in my memory) meant a drastic change of routine!
The coffee stop dilemma was easy to solve - initially we packed a flask and mugs into my basket, picked up a couple of pain aux raisins at the locally boulangerie and set off on our chosen route. We then discovered that an enterprising lady had set up a take-away hot drinks stall in the weekly Sainte Hermine indoor market, and she even offered a selection of home-made cookies!
As for take-away food - forget the hot dogs, burger and chips of the UK, or even pizzas and kebabs … a food truck suddenly appeared in our local town serving a full 3 course meal! Of course as the restrictions have continued for so much longer than we all expected, I’m sure that many of you are discovering that your local restaurants are now offering a selection of plats à emporter. What impresses me most though is the quality of the food - it really is like restaurant meals at home.
THE TRADING POST HITS THE DEUX-SÈVRES!
We are The Trading Post. Our journey started in the French Alps in 2006 with a small shop in Bourg St Maurice, nestled between some of the biggest ski resorts in the world. Since our humble beginnings, we gradually grew into the wholesale operation we are today, developing and refining our business around the needs of our clients.
Still family owned, we are now the largest wholesaler of British Food in France, servicing shops and supermarkets, hotels and chalets, bars and restaurants, campsites and cafes throughout the country from our new 1200m2 warehouse.
Whilst Brexit delivered a mountain of problems, we were moving forward with plans to expand our reach to more retail clients by launching collection points throughout France. Our aim was to offer more customers local access to The Trading Post’s 1500+ lines of frozen, chilled and ambient products, and at the same time allowing every one to avoid increased post-Brexit costs, associated with shipping directly from the United Kingdom.
The ultimate test, however, came at Christmas - we ordered a selection of exotic sounding dishes from a recently opened restaurant to share and enjoy with friends. We were not disappointed - each dish came clearly labelled with heating and serving instructions that even the most basic cook could follow. And let’s face it - who wants to pay Christmas Day prices in a restaurant when you can serve the chef’s special in the comfort of your own home?
Of course we’re all looking forward to the reopening of food outlets in France, but in the meantime we’re certainly not missing out on high quality restaurant-style meals.
Karen runs a gîte business on the Vendée coast. You can contact her on: email@example.com
We boast a full range of consumer favourites, including proper pork sausages, bacon, Cadbury’s chocolates, Walkers Crisps, popular tea brands (PG Tips, Yorkshire, Tetley’s), British condiments (HP sauce, Branston Pickle), Marmite and, of course, Heinz Baked Beans. Our mission is to ensure your easy access to British goods in 2021 and beyond!
Exclusive DSM reader offer – use *PROMO CODE: DSM5 to receive 5 Euros off your next order over 50 Euros!
For more information, and the full catalogue of available products, go to www.thetradingpost.fr
*Code can be used 1 time per customer. We reserve the right to withdraw this offer at anytime.
INTERNATIONAL FOOD & DRINKS
FREE DELIVERY TO COLLECTION POINTS IN THE DEUX SÈVRES AND SURROUNDING AREAS.
NO MINIMUM ORDER
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 7
Photo by KAREN TAYLOR
Satellite TV - Freesat
Hello again. How the devil are you? Keeping well I hope. By the time you read this, we will be fully up and running in the region and offering you the same services as we’ve been offering since being established in France in 2005. Still, that’s not why you’re really here is it? Nope, you want the good stuff about satellite TV. Well, I can’t guarantee it’ll be good, but I’ll try to make it informative if nothing else. No promises though.
So, despite me banging on for years and years about Freesat not being the same thing as Freeview, in a move that can only have been thought up to specifically annoy me, the two companies are merging! Not that it’ll affect the basic theory behind it all. Freeview is for terrestrial aerials and therefore no good for us. Freesat is for satellite dishes and therefore very good for us. The clue is in the name.
Do you need two cables to record? Well, yes and no. Something like a Freesat+ or a Sky+ box (as long as the Sky+ box has an active subscription card with it) will record just fine using only one cable from your satellite dish. However, this does limit your ability to record one channel whilst watching another. The ‘proper’ way to do it is to fit a twin output LNB (the bit on the end of the arm of your dish) and run a second cable to the recording box. This way, you can watch BBC2 whilst recording ITV4 for example. You can even record two channels and watch something you’ve already recorded. Is there no end to this fun???
LNBs by the way, come with single, twin, quad or octo outputs. So, you could have up to eight TVs being served by a single satellite dish. Anything over eight means the installation of something like a professional distribution system. The kind of thing you might find in a small hotel perhaps.
‘So what is a wideband LNB?’ I pretend to hear you ask. Well, these are used for Sky Q systems and if you want to, the latest Freesat+ boxes. Without getting into the really boring stuff, they allow multiple channels to be recorded (up to 6 for Sky Q) at the same time. Whether you want to, of course, is a different matter.
‘So what about a Hybrid LNB?’ I hear someone else ask, honest. Such an LNB usually has 2 dedicated ‘wideband’ outputs as described above and 4 ‘standard’ outputs for your older boxes which are unable to accept a wideband input. However, at present these are only available for the elliptical ‘sky’ dishes and do not properly fit most other satellite dishes.
I’ve talked before about soundbars, it was only last month, please don’t say you’ve forgotten. But what if you want something even beefier? Well, many people go down the route of a home cinema system. Essentially, this usually consists of an amplifier which feeds 5 or more speakers and a subwoofer to give the low down ‘bass’. So, if someone talks about a 5.1 system, they mean 5 main speakers and the .1 is the subwoofer (so, yes 6 speakers in total...). These days, many systems have even more speakers and something like a 9.1 system is not that unusual. However, unless you are a real audiophile who wants to turn their lounge into a mini movie theatre, a 5.1 system is enough for most people. All your sources such as a satellite box, Blu-ray player, Amazon
Firestick, games console etc connect directly to the amplifier. This then usually has a single HDMI cable to go to the TV. The amplifier handles the sound and the TV handles the images. It can get a bit more complicated than that, but that’s the very basic theory behind it.
by Stuart Wallace
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 for contact details.
À bientôt on espère.
Stuart runs The French House Satellite TV firstname.lastname@example.org
Other contact details in his advert in the Buildings & Renovations section of the magazine
On This Day ... April
April 9, 1959
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) introduces America’s first astronauts to the press: Scott Carpenter, L. Gordon Cooper Jr., John H. Glenn Jr., Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Walter Schirra Jr., Alan Shepard Jr. and Donald Slayton. The seven men, all military test pilots, were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America’s first manned space program.
April 12, 1961
Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin becomes the first human to travel into space. During the flight, the 27-year-old test pilot also became the first man to orbit the planet, a feat accomplished by his space capsule in 89 minutes. Vostok 1 orbited Earth at a maximum altitude of 187 miles and was guided entirely by an automatic control system.
April 13, 1970
Disaster strikes Apollo 13, 200,000 miles from Earth when oxygen tank No. 2 blows up. Astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise had left Earth two days before for the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon but were forced to turn their attention to simply making it home alive.
8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 Technology
LIFE THROUGH A LENS
About a month ago, I was standing in an annoyingly long queue in Super U so I pulled my phone out and decided to make use of the free Wi-Fi to catch up on Facebook. One of the first posts was a very recent one with a picture of a flower and a request to name it from a lady who had some in her garden.
Within seconds I not only had the common name, but the Latin name for it and was the first to post an answer. Over the next couple of hours a few other people posted other suggestions, some very confidently. Another few hours later the original poster commented that I had correctly identified the plant and she was busy looking them up to get more information.
All rather dull so far, I agree, but I am not a green-fingered gardener in the Percy Thrower sense and do not have an encyclopedic knowledge of the plants, trees and fauna of the Deux-Sèvres region. What
I did have was a handy app on my phone called Google Lens. This is an incredibly clever and intuitive piece of free software that identifies things, places, languages and more.
In the case of the flower, I simply copied the image from facebook into Lens and clicked the search button. A few seconds later and I had not only identified the plant, but had a series of links to find out more about them.
Another incredibly useful feature is the translate option which can be used ‘live’ such as hovering the camera over products in the supermarket to see what the English (or Dutch, Arabic, Chinese or Esparanto to name but a few) translation is. We found this very useful at Christmas when we saw a lot of new products in the supermarket with which we were unfamiliar. You can also take a picture of a block of text, such as an official document or instructions in
French, and it will transcribe it into a text document for you.
by Ingmar Jense
If that wasn’t enough for you, imagine being in a town and wondering what the old building on the busy corner was. Simple take a picture of it in Lens and it will go through the Google library of billions of images and match it up.
Speaking of Wi-Fi, no more trying to type in those 24-digit upper and lower case letters, symbols and numbers, just point your phone at the password and it will copy it for you so you can paste it in. Seen a pair of shoes you like in the shop? Take a picture of them and Lens will find other shops near you that stock the same ones and show you how much they are retailing them for.
The bad news is that you need to be an Android user to be able to use the app, there is no version for iPhone users, though I’m sure there are options.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 9
WHEN YOU CONTACT ONE OF OUR ADVERTISERS, PLEASE MENTION THAT YOU SAW THEIR ADVERT IN ‘THE DSM’. IT HELPS THEM, AND US.
A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Saint-Maxire
Thecommune of Saint-Maxire is situated less than 10 kilometres north of the town of Niort. The commune borders Sèvre Niortaise river, making a green valley and is surrounded by plains used for cereal growing.
In the year 1000, Saint-Maxire was called Ecclesia Sancti Mascilliii, then in 1390, Ecclesia Sancti Mascilliii became St. Macire. The village finally became Saint Maxire in 1395.
Where the granitic Gatine joins the chalky Niort plains, this village, with fourteen hamlets, is crossed by ancient roadways. The large roman road that went from Bordeaux to London, the gallic pathway at Magné which links the village to La Chaussée in Charente-Maritime and the roman road called la Bissêtre which started at Rom, crosses the two branches of the Sèvre from East to West, and which was used by different armies until 1622.
Saint-Maxire certainly comes from a deformation of the name of Saint Mathias, one of the 12 apostles of Jesus, who replaced Judas.
When Protestantism became popular in the 16th century, the people of the village became fervent protestants. A few years later, the temple, which was situated on the way out of the village at the crossroads of the Bissêtre and the Xaintray roads, was destroyed.
On All Saints Day, in 1585, after the rout of Angers, 430 of Laval and la Boulaye’s men came to Saint-Maxire to cross the river because they wanted to avoid going through Niort. Carried away by high waters, the bridges were replaced by wooden bridges. In 1622, the Catholic troops of Pierre Thomas pursued by the soldiers of Benjamin de Rohan, to the bridges. Rohan’s troops were defeated and Thomas received titles of nobility from Louis XIII.
By a by-law of the 6th May 1628, the sermons given by the pastors of Benet and Maillezais were forbidden. Most of the protestants converted to Catholicism in 1681.
At the beginning of the 19th century, 8 water mills were working full time.
Must See / A Voir
• The castle of Oriou dates from the end of the Middle Ages – It is a private property which is visible from the street
• Le Grand Portail, a manor with a high roof. The manor gets its name from the large entrance gate.
• La Bobinière also called le Logis, a noble house dating from the 17th century with modifications dating from the 19th century
by Sue Burgess
• The Colombier, an old manor partly rebuilt in the 17th century with a huge porch and decorative elements from the Renaissance
• The monumental staircase of the old castle of ’Espinasse dating from the 15th century
• Saint-Mathias church
• Seven water mills
• Three restored wash-houses (la Fontaine, la Santé and Les Habites
• The remains of a megalith at the place called La pierre qui vire
Situated at a bend in the Sèvre river, the chateau dates from the end of the Middle Ages and has been modified since the Renaissance. In the 16th century, it was owned by the Lauren family, then the Berlands, whose coat of arms can be seen on the south turret. From 1667 to the first half of the 19th century, it belonged to the Jourdain de Villiers family, then to Mr Laurence and, shortly afterwards, Clémentin de la Rochebrochard whose son sold it to Dr Auguste Tonnet at the end of the 19th century. Its facade is flanked by corbelled turrets and the upper part is perforated with oculi (bull’s eyes openings). The staircase tower attests to the age of the building. A sundial surmounts the entrance door. The chateau is privately owned.
The church of Saint-Mathias
According to local tradition, Saint Maxire lived on the banks of the Sèvre Niortaise river. To hide the escape of the nuns Macrine, Pezenne and Colombe, legend says that he raised his staff so that the waters of the river changed direction and stopped the horses of the barbarian chief Salbart. It is since this event that the Sèvre, instead of flowing towards Villiers-enPlaine, now flows towards Sainte-Pezenne and Niort.
In the year 1000, the church was donated by Raoul Beluce, his wife and his son Thibaud, to the abbey of Saint-Cyprien in Poitiers. Until the 13th century, it was served by the monks of the adjoining SaintMathias priory of the Benedictine abbey of Tours.
Some time before 1720, the vault was demolished, and the bell tower replaced. The church was converted into a feed shop and stable for the horses of the Vendée army in 1798.
The present building dates from the 19th century. Stone coffins were discovered during the clearing of the foundations of the apse in 1860. In 1957, after a controversy between the parish and the municipality, the church was given a bell, weighing 277 kg, donated by families of the commune and christened Françoise-Dominique.
10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Le Lavoir de la Fontaine
This wash-house is fed from a spring. The limestone soil of SaintMaxire soaks up the waters of the granitic Gâtine. This natural phenomenon is explained by the fact that the department of Deux-Sèvres is crossed by the Poitou sill, located between two granitic massifs (Armorican and central) and two sedimentary basins (Parisian and Aquitaine). On the granitic part (north and east), a dense network of rivers irrigates the surface basins (Sèvre Nantaise, Thouet, Cébron). The water tables are shallow. This ancient land offers a landscape with hedgerows and crops. On the sedimentary part (south and west), the water tables are aquiferous. The young, chalky land has a landscape of plains (Niortais, Lambon and Dive basins) with underground, but shallow rivers.
Le Lavoir des Habites
The abbot Vilaine of Saint-Cyprien de Poitiers donated the priory of SaintGenest, or Les Habites, to the Benedictines who were going to clear the area of trees. It was rebuilt by his chaplain Pierre Berlant, a canon of Poitiers cathedral who was buried in the chapel of the priory in 1668. Traditionally, on 28 August, a religious procession took place from the village of Saint-Maxire to Les Habites.
Agrippa d’Aubigné’s “Tales of the Baron of Faeneste” recounts the plot devised by Mathurin Biraud de la Bithe, a resident of the hamlet of Les Habites. Ruined by a long lawsuit and forced to leave the country to escape his creditors, he sold a piece of land to his lawyer Cheneverd de Niort. This land is none other than the cemetery of Saint-Rémy, the one adjoining the chapel dependant on the Benedictine priory. The tale concludes with a quotation: The devil makes weddings when one deceives his lawyer
Le lavoir de Santé
The hamlet of Les Optolleries is located near one of the roads on the Deux-Sévrienne road to Compostella. It is mentioned in 1498 as being the village of the Hospitaliers. This monastic and chivalrous order provided shelter, food and care to pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostella. The Commandery of Saint John of Jerusalem in Saint-Rémy-en-Gâtine had outbuildings there.
The Flower Boat Festival La Fête des Bâteux Fleuris
In 1942, the prisoners’ aid committee organised a fair and a flower boat competition. The festival committee took over in 1988. This event is scheduled for the last Sunday in July.
At the fête des bateaux fleuris, about 10 flat boats take part and each boat is decorated, in accordance with an annual theme, with up to 15 thousand paper flowers. Approximately one third of the village inhabitants are involved in the creation of the floats.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 11
Photographs by Sue Burgess
With all that is going on in the world with the pandemic and sadly, violence, civil war and starvation, all too evident on our screens almost daily, how lucky are we to have safe, green spaces around us where we can think freely, occupy ourselves with purposeful and enjoyable activity and bring some colour and beauty into the world at the same time? We can sustain ourselves by growing produce that we can eat and share, we can improve our environment and protect our wildlife. We are bombarded with images of serious climate change, man-made disasters and a diminishing number of species of animals, insects, sea creatures and plants. However, on the positive side, all of us who have a garden, a veg patch, some flower pots on a balcony or just some troughs on a terrasse, are perpetuating differing species of plant life, attracting insects and providing them with homes, sheltering small mammals by providing nesting materials, daily feeding of large numbers of birds and giving worms lots of opportunities to improve our soils by mulching and composting. There are thousands of gardeners all around the world who are contributing in a positive way to conserving wildlife, the earth, the climate and to human well-being at the same time. I don’t hear it being mentioned very often. If we all joined together what a force to be reckoned with, we would be! Don’t just think about the joy you personally get from your garden, but also the contribution you are making to saving the planet! Let’s hear it for the worlds’ gardeners!
Now is the time to:
Home and Garden Green ngers
• Order online or, if we are fortunate enough to have a plant fair soon, buy annual bedding plants such as geraniums, petunias and begonias. Make sure the greenhouse, cloche or window sill are ready to house them against unseasonably cold weather…heavy rain, strong winds and frost will not do them any favours, so protect them well. Some temperatures this year have been very, very, cold, and the winds strong enough to bring trees down here, so forewarned is forearmed.
• Check on any plants in pots for early signs of fungus, rot or aphids and treat them accordingly. Vine weevil grubs can be a pest in pots at this time of year and can silently destroy a plant from below the soil. The adult vine weevil is a dark brown greyish colour and the head has a ‘horn’ like a rhino. The larvae are creamy white with brown heads and they are comma shaped. There are drenches and treatments available in garden centres and online and they usually just require watering in. If any leaves on the plant show semi-circular notches eaten out of the leaf edge, this is an indication that adult vine weevils are present. Knock the plant out of its’ pot and remove any grubs you find and then water the whole plant with the antiweevil treatment
• Pick out the tips of fuchsias to encourage bushier growth and more flowers.
• Any evergreen shrubs or trees can be moved now if necessary. Water and feed well after replanting.
• Tie in climbing and rambling roses and spray any black spot disease that is evident. Inspect the flower bud tips for clusters of aphids and kill them by squashing with a finger and thumb or by spraying with a soap solution.
• Cut back the old stems of penstemons right to the new growth appearing at the base of the plants.
• Ornamental grasses should have been cut back by now, but if not, do so as soon as possible to make way for new growth.
• Remove dead or dying foliage from potted plants, removing old flower heads and any debris from the surface of the compost. Top up with new compost and feed well.
• Tie in new growth on honeysuckle and clematis. Clematis prefer to have their ‘feet’ (roots) in the shade and their ‘heads’ (flowers) in the sun. Take an old plastic flower pot, remove the bottom, cut from the bottom edge to the top so that flower pot will open into a rectangular shape. Insert the cut edge into the compost, and train it like a collar around the base of the plant. The roots will be kept cool and the flowers will be in the sun. Train all new growth around supports.
• Prepare all vegetable beds by digging them over, removing weeds and stones and adding some well- rotted manure.
• Examine peach and nectarine trees for peach leaf curl. Hang eggshells in small net bags in the trees, this helps to prevent any of this disease from establishing. Once fruit trees are blossoming, keep the fleece handy to protect them on colder nights.
• Move self- sown foxglove seedlings into better flowering positions once they have four leaves. Water gently. Foxgloves do better in shadier positions in the garden.
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• Sow, directly outdoors, hardy annuals such as larkspur and ammi. Make sure the areas sown are weed free and the spots marked with a label….it’s easy to forget where you’ve sown what!
• Apply a mulch layer to borders and beds to help suppress weeds and aid moisture retention.
• Plant bulbs such as galtonia, eucomis and gladiolus. Eucomis is an interesting bulb, producing a leafy tuft at the top of the plant which really does resemble a small pineapple. Gladioli now come in a range of colour combinations and give colourful height to a border and are good as a cut flower in a vase. There are lots available in garden centres at the moment. Don’t forget you will need to buy canes to support them when flowering.
• Bald patches in lawns can be repaired by reseeding or replacing turf.
• If the lavender wasn’t pruned during last autumn, do it now by cutting out old flower stems, and shortening new growth by about 3-4 cms.
• Reinvigorate overgrown or oddly shaped evergreen shrubs now. Camellia, euonymus, laurel, and holly respond well to a good trim at this time of year and will have a better shape and flower more vigorously next year.
• When forsythia has finished flowering, cut flowered stems back to a strong leafy side shoot and remove some of the older basal stems.
• Bamboo can be divided or re-potted now. If introducing new plants, look for the Fargesia varieties which are non-invasive and much easier to look after.
• Seeds of herbs such as parsley, dill and coriander can be sown directly into seeds beds or containers now. To keep a fresh supply coming, re-seed every three weeks.
• Pea sticks, wigwams and bean poles should be in position ready for the direct sowing outside of peas and beans.
• If you have sown tomato seeds, pot them on when the seedlings have a pair of true leaves. Use multi-purpose compost in the pots
Our England is a garden that is full of stately views, Of borders, beds and shrubberies and lawns and avenues, With statues on the terraces and peacocks strutting by, But the Glory of the Garden lies in more than meets the eye. And some can pot begonias and some can bud a rose And some are hardly fit to trust with anything that grows, But they can roll and trim the lawns and sift the sand and loam, For the Glory of the Garden occupieth all who come.
Our England is a garden, and such gardens are not made, By singing—‘Oh how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade, While better men than we go out, and start their working lives, At grubbing weeds from gravel paths, with broken dinner knives. There’s not a pair of legs so thin, there’s not a head so thick, There’s not a hand so weak and white, nor yet a heart so sick, But it can find some needful job that’s crying to be done, For the Glory of the Garden, glorifieth EVERYONE.
The Glory Of The Garden by Rudyard Kipling
and place in a warm, well lit spot to grow on. When the first flowers turn yellow, replant into their final position.
• The seeds of carrots, beetroot, leeks, spring onions and spinach can be sown directly into prepared seed beds now.
• Seeds of courgettes, pumpkins and squashes, should be sown under glass and only planted out when the risk of frost is over.
• If you have a tree fern in the garden, remove any of the protective winter wrappings, cut off any foliage which has died or gone brown. New foliage will soon appear. Tree ferns prefer to be in light shade rather than blazing sun and they need lots of moisture. When the temperatures begin to rise, spray the outside trunk with water and then water into the top to keep the aerial roots damp. Do this every day if there is a heat wave.
• Prune back chaenomeles (ornamental quince) after flowering, by cutting back side shoots to two buds or leaves. This will encourage better flowers next year.
• Pick rhubarb regularly without snapping stems or leaving snagged ends. Start picking from the outside, holding the stem near the bottom, then twist away from the plant. Mulch the plant well and feed with well rotted manure. This will help new leaf production.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 13
Trees that have been growing in containers should be planted out now before the weather becomes too warm. Prepare a hole wider than the container but the same depth. Loosen the soil at the bottom of the hole and add some organic matter. Water the hole, then tease out the tree roots then plant, making sure it is properly upright, back fill with soil and firm in well.
• Citrus trees need a high nitrogen feed at this time of year to encourage good fruit production. Water the feed in, stopping when the water is coming out of the bottom of the pot. There is a tendency to overwater citrus specimens, so only water when the compost is really dry and follow the tip above. Wash leaves well with a mild soap solution to remove dust and grime and this will give the leaves a glossy shine. Keep an eye open for scale insect infestation. Scale insects look like sticky balls of cotton wool stuck in the leaf axils, they can be wiped off easily with a damp cloth. April is a good month for re-potting citrus plants. Remove the whole plant from the pot and remove any loose compost. Trim off any roots which are growing up towards the top of the container and cut off any dead or damaged leaves and branches that are crossing and could rub against each other leaving a ‘wound’ through which disease could enter. Re-pot into a slightly larger pot, making sure that there are plenty of drainage ‘crocks at the bottom. Top up with fresh compost and water well. Leave in a sheltered, sunny spot in the garden.
• Give hostas a new lease of life by dividing them. This makes them stronger and doubles the number of plants that you have. Tip the hosta out of the pot just when the pointed tips of the new foliage can be seen poking through the compost. Cut the plant into sections each having a couple of leaf buds……an old kitchen knife is ideal for this job, Discard any ‘woody’ bits in the centre of the plant. Pot up using a good all purpose compost and water well. Leave in a warm shady spot and they will soon become established as healthy new specimens.
• Sow some drifts of annual grass seeds into the flower borders to give them that ‘designer’ look!
• Deadhead spent tulips by removing the complete flower head but leaving the stem and foliage to die back naturally. This will feed the bulb and with any luck it will be bigger and better next year. Repeat this process for daffodils. When all the foliage has completely died and gone brown, lift the bulbs and store them in a cool dry dark place ready for planting out again next year.
• Prepare hanging baskets ready for planting up next month. Check whether the liners need replacing, the compost is readily available and the slow release plant food is to hand. You’ll have them planted up in a jiffy when the bedding plants are available.
• Enjoy every minute outside in the fresh air and sunshine, it lifts the spirits, is good for our health and gives us something other than vaccines and viruses to think of. Take good care of yourselves, don’t forget to sit and have a cuppa outside so you can look at what you’ve achieved, and pat yourselves on the back!
14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 @chateau_pont_jarno
- www.chateaujarno.fr - 0788627986 - 0549257406
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early flowering plants, Camellias, Magnolias, Rhododrenons, Azaleas Good time to get planting before the summer comes Open every day 9h-19h
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 15
DONNA IN HER POTAGER
by Donna Palframan
Iwasfeeling quite smug about potager progress - I have various seeds germinating for outdoors, seven different varieties of chilli seeds, most of which have germinated and four different varieties of tomato seeds in the propagator and I keep telling myself it isn’t even the middle of March yet! Then this morning, I came down to earth with a bump when that famous social media site showed me a memory from this time last year… and I had early purple sprouting broccoli and my first tiny cauliflowers growing. What went wrong, I asked myself but I still don’t know why I forgot to sow broccoli for overwinter. However, one thing I have learnt from last year is labeling my seeds. Everything is clearly labeled and segregated in trays so there will be no mix ups this year and my son has become a 3D printing fanatic and printed me some labels which are clear and sturdy and rather aesthetically pleasing, so no excuses.
The weather has been so different this year as we’ve had a couple of very cold snaps and it seems that when it isn’t cold, it is wet and windy and I’m afraid none of these weather conditions entice me into the potager so while seed sowing has been done indoors, the only thing I’ve planted outside is garlic, broad bean and radish seeds and I’ve kept on top of the weeding. For this reason, I thought I’d talk a little bit about how I like to store and preserve my crops.
I remember my mother used to make gallons of jam and chutney which used to get demolished quite rapidly as there were five children and my parents and we seemed to eat a lot of jam. I have to admit I don’t overly enjoy making jam and as my partner doesn’t even eat jam, it isn’t a good way to preserve fruit for us although I
do make more than enough to supply my Gîte guests. I like to make unusual varieties with pear and chestnut being one jam I can eat a lot of as it is fabulous stirred into natural yoghurt. I always make cherry jam as we have a wild cherry tree that provides us with the blackest cherries I’ve ever seen and I enhance the flavour with either cinnamon or black pepper. I tend not to freeze fruit either as we don’t eat a lot of fruit puddings and the such like. However, having a large number of eating apple, pear and plum trees, not to mention soft fruits, I had to find a way to preserve our fruit for winter. The answer? A dehydrator. I love my dehydrator. Okay, the preparation can be quite time consuming but with my trusty mandolin, I can store kilos and kilos of apples in jars and plums, mirabelle and cherries just need pitting. Dehydrated properly, they could last through winter quite easily, if only I dehydrated enough! I didn’t do enough last year as they were gone by the end of February. Dehydrating is also superb for tomatoes. They can be dried to a crisp or left still moist. The crisp ones can be stored in jars but the moist ones I freeze some and the rest get to sit in jars of herby, garlicky oil, they don’t last long either! Fruit leathers
can be made in the dehydrator and this year my intention is to get raspberries and other soft fruits either made into leather or just dehydrated. I’ve dehydrated courgettes and spinach as an experiment and this year I’m thinking of dehydrating vegetable mixtures for soups as we do eat a lot of soups.
I freeze a lot of produce too, either in a prepared dish, such as ratatouille, tomato sauce and soups or just as the basic vegetable (for those pedants out there, I know tomatoes, cucumbers, courgettes etc are fruits!). I discovered a couple of years ago that plum tomatoes freeze well whole and they do. Just wipe them, and bung them in a bag. At first I removed the core but then couldn’t be bothered and it doesn’t make much difference. They hold their shape beautifully and can be chopped from frozen, or defrosted
All photographs by Donna Palframan
16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
first. It has been truly life changing for me! It’s not that I’m lazy, I’m not but I do like to save as much time as I can. Chillis also freeze very well whole and maintain their shape but I do like to pickle some and this year I plan to add chilli jam to the larder. I have found freezing the best method for my butternut and blue Hubbard squashes, just peeled, seeded (the chickens enjoy the seeds) and cut into chunks, it is quick and easy and ready for use. I still have a blue Hubbard stored in a cupboard – must check it is still okay.
Another favourite method is pickling. We love pickles and are still enjoying our pickled cornichons and cucumbers. I must have pickled more than my weight in cucumbers as they just kept on producing. I had so many that the dogs were being fed them, the chickens, the gander, and I even used them in my soap making! Chutney making can come under the vinegar heading and I do make chutneys, mainly ‘pear’ which is dark, spicy and smoky and has spoilt my palate for other chutneys. They just don’t match up to pear chutney for me! Apples are also converted into cider vinegar – if I make jelly or jam using apples, the skins and cores are made into vinegar – we try not to waste anything at Le Calipel.
Over winter, I’ve also decided the time has come to preserve my herbs by drying. Whilst frozen herbs can be useful, I’m used to using either fresh or dried herbs. The flavour just seems to vanish for me when they are frozen, unless it is as part of something. One year I had a bumper crop of basil, so froze it as pesto made with our own walnuts. I made a small batch quite begrudgingly as I’d never
enjoyed bought pesto but my pesto was streets apart and I froze a lot of small, serving sized batches. It was a sad day I used the last batch and my basil last year was rubbish. This year it will be better! In our attic is a length of timber, just hanging from a couple of old bits of rope. We wracked our brains wondering what it had been put there for – a whipping post maybe? The answer came to me one sleepless night – it is a drying bar! I’ve used it for drying flowers for a couple of years, just experimenting really but this year it will be put to work drying herbs. My thyme self seeds everywhere and is one of my favourite herbs, so that will be up there, as will oregano and bay. Even though we have three (or is it four?) huge bay trees and I can use fresh every day, dried bay is more intense and more fragrant for me. I shall make bouquet garni ready to use, stored in jars. I’ve always had a thing about boxes for storage but jars are rapidly taking over!
These are my favourite preserving and storage methods but if you have any others you think I might enjoy using, let me know!
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 17
Needs, Wishes and Dreams
by Cherry Burton
WhenI arrived at our new home in France the “garden” was in fact an area of rough grass surrounding three sides of the property and leading to an even rougher bramble filled field. Just over half an acre in total.
Yes, I had space but how to make it work?
I cheated a bit on the survey by using my cadastral plan – saved a lot of walking. I then drew up a list of the areas I knew I needed –
• An area for the dogs – We had 7 Siberian Huskies
• A vegetable garden
• An orchard – I had the space
• A big pond (or two)
• Areas to sit – sun and shade
• Lots of trees plus mixed shrub and herbaceous borders.
My Wish List would come later.
It took a lot of physical work to firstly clear the field and lay out the structure but then we could see where we were going. A lot of things changed as the garden evolved – the initial vegetable garden began its life in the only area of ground that had already been dug over, quite close to the house. It is now at the far end of the “field”, and much larger. The Orchard was moved from its original site because the neighbours insisted on letting their hedge grow tall, creating too much shade. We made this into a bonus for us by planting Hostas and other herbaceous plants there instead.
The big Pond placement was strange. When I drew the original plan, the situation of the Pond turned out to be where an overflow of rain from the village produced a small lake in the middle of the field. We didn’t realize this until the rains came. We complained to the Maire and the Commune paid to have
the flow redirected around the field to effectively dry it out. Result! Jim dug the 6m x 6m x 1.2m hole (by hand!) for the intended Pond, then left for a short break in the UK, on his return it had filled with rain – a natural pond. We had to wait for it to dry out to put the liner in!
We have gradually added to the original plan with pergolas, another pond nearer the house, a drift garden, a chicken run, and a small parterre originally using 150 Box plants. I grew these from cuttings and then replaced with Golden Marjoram after the Box was decimated by the dreaded moth. Doesn’t have the same height as the box, but its effective and easy to propagate.
We have used a great number of plants, bringing some from the UK, buying offers from the local Supermarkets, the wonderful Ripaud Plant Nursery and growing on many many cuttings and seedlings. I brought one medium sized Miscanthus Morning Light from England and we now have around 18 large ones, and I gave 9 away!
Iris germanica, in many colours, has been split and spread around the garden but always in groups for impact. I really don’t like ‘dotty’ planting.
We intend to use more groups of the same plants this year for ease of maintenance and as focal points. I also like to have something in flower throughout the year.
Going back to the Wish List – one of them was to use a 5m
We are talking about Gardens here….
18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
long wooden ladder, we found in the loft of one of the Barns, as the top of a Pergola. Jim did this for me two years ago and we are training roses up and over it. He is planning to build a second Summerhouse/Gazebo on the right-handside of the field garden in amongst the shrubs – a real sun trap.
The first Summerhouse has a deck between it and the big pond. The second smaller Pond can be seen from my office – a converted outhouse - and a courtyard garden, between is home for two large Acers in pots – in the shade.
We have built (well Jim did) a paved Courtyard garden to the back of the house and this has a very large copper and brass Dragonfly, which was used as part of my first show garden at Hampton Court Palace. It is “planted” on its wire stem in between some grasses and looks good. We use this area to serve Breakfast to our Chambre d’hote guests and occasionally Dinner, with the area lit up by fairy lights.
The best part of this large garden is the fact that you cannot see the whole of it from any one part so there is always a surprise around the corner.
I have some bits of old farm machinery found on site and a few statues which I have placed around the garden but would dearly love a big statement piece – Jim placed a 200-year-old Rhododendron in EuroDisney when he worked on the build, but I don’t think I could run to that – he is, however, working on a large topiary cloud Olive - a Wish and a Dream.
Happy Gardening – some freedom in your own little world.
Cherry Burton, Vendée
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 19
TOOTING QUEENS - Is that a G#?
We all know that the countryside is anything but quiet; in fact it is often one of the noisiest places to be. Cocks crowing, cranes honking and frogs croaking are part of life in rural France, but what about the noise bees make? Most people are familiar with the lazy drone of bumble bees and the “aircraft bomber” rumble of Carpenter bees, but what about the noise honeybees make?
A bee’s buzz is made not via any vocal chords or by it playing a miniature musical instrument, but by the beating of its wings. Rapid wing beats create vibrations in the air that the human ear detects as buzzing, and the bigger the bee, the slower the beat, the deeper the sound. Sudden loud buzzing is sometimes mistaken for an indication that the bees are angry or on the attack, whereas in reality it’s just a lot of them beating their wings at the same time e.g. when a hive is opened or when they are swarming. They’re not growling or roaring. Clouds of bees leaving a hive can be very noisy as there are several thousand bees in the air at the same time.
During the spring, another noise can be heard from a colony of bees. This is a very loud ‘peep’, identified by musicians as a G sharp or an A flat (apparently!) and is uttered by a queen bee. This peeping sound is audible to the human ear but not to the bees (as bees have no eardrums, instead they sense the patterns of vibrations that the queen creates by pressing her thorax against the wax comb). Studies carried out by a team of researchers at Nottingham Trent University
by Kevin and Amanda Baughen
have found that the queen’s toots appear to be an instruction to worker bees to keep rival virgin queens in their cells. The virgin queens in turn emit quacking sounds to let the colony know they are willing and able to replace the reigning queen as soon as she departs with a swarm.
We have only heard these tooting noises in the hives a handful of times, and were never completely convinced of what we’d heard. However, last year we purchased some new queens which arrived in separate small boxes through the mail. The boxes were on the kitchen table for half an hour or so and the strangest noise emanated from them – a low moaning noise rising to a highpitched whistle. At last, we’d heard tooting queens!
So, don’t be afraid of buzzing noises as they are simply the bees’ engine sounds. But, if ever you do hear a bee growling, record it and make a fortune!
To learn more about bees and beekeeping, why not attend one of our courses held in Confolens throughout the spring and summer months?
Find out more about bees and becoming a beekeeper - contact us by phone or email at 13 Bees
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org, Telephone : 05 45 71 22 90 or visit our website : www.13bees.co.uk
20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Write what you see
by Alison Morton
Novel writers, especially aspiring ones, are often told to ‘write what you know’ but you’re probably sick of hearing that piece of advice. However, writing based on something you’re familiar with is an excellent starting point. Aspects of your story such as common emotional reactions to disasters, problems and triumphs and characters you can relate to make your writing vivid and relevant. Similarly, you can draw on real events in your own life. You know what happened from a unique standpoint – your own.
But let’s dig deeper…
‘Write what you know’ is only an injunction to know. The business of how you come by your knowledge is open. You can mine your own life, of course but you can also observe other people’s experiences and reactions. You can read and research. And you can use your imagination. What good writers know about their subjects is usually drawn from some combination of these sources.
Translating your own experience into fiction isn’t a simple, straightforward business. For most writers, it actually takes a lot of hard work and many false starts before they are in a position to extract what is most valuable and interesting from their own stories.
Yes, a journal or diary is a useful resource, but hopefully, it’s not just a catalogue of things merely done and seen, but one that includes how you felt about what you have done and seen, however raw those feelings.
Apart from using what they actually experience their own lives many writers write about what they wish to experience; they write in order to know and feel what it could be like to be in a car chase, wield a sword or discover a scientific breakthrough.
But there’s another approach…
What happens if you write science fiction short stories or an epic historical fiction novel? Do you have some weeding to do, the airing cupboard to empty or filing your papers? Your mind can use this time to visualise that space station or 13th century castle and build a picture in your mind of that world. You’ve done background reading and research; you’ve read good writing in your genre. Now imagine walking down a street in your story world. Is it safe? What’s the traffic like? Does it have open drains that smell, unwashed people sweating as they toil, or meal replicators and holographic displays? What would you ‘normally’ see there? How do you find food, or transport?
Next, who is the person in charge? Who do you/your character have to care for/earn money for/escape from? What do you feel about your relationship with them? Imagine encounters with each of them, work through dialogue and outcomes, chopping and changing until you’re happy with it. Look through your character’s eyes whether they are thirteen or thirty, man or woman or something else. Jot down a few notes if you want to in the notebook you always have in your pocket.
Now put those weeds in the compost bin and sorted socks in the drawers and with the scene still in your head, sit down and describe it in every detail; what your characters did, how they reacted, how they felt – write what you see. This technique also works when you’re stuck in a scene, so you can use it over and over again.
YOUR Book Reviews
Thanks this month to Jacqui Brown for sharing reviews with us. If you’d like to send us a book review, please email it to: email@example.com
It’s a Mad World – Travels Through a Muddled Life
by Susie Kelly
Review by Jacqui Brown
My local author selection for this month is Vienne based humorous memoir writer, Susie Kelly.
Susie and husband Terry have led a far more interesting life than I have, and despite Susie claiming otherwise, don’t seem to be afraid of adventure. They are well-travelled and come across as engaging, open-minded and happy to talk to people they meet. Strangers soon become friends, who lead them on exciting detours and ensure their holiday experiences won’t be forgotten in a hurry. They have certainly given 100% to whatever life has thrown at them.
In this book, Susie expertly takes us on a journey revisiting some of the memorable moments from her life and travels. Her childhood in Africa, sailing in the Solent, flying free over France, skiing in Bulgaria and relaxing in Greece, to name just a few. No matter where in the world she finds herself, adventure and situations that could go from hilarious, to embarrassing, to terrifying, seem to find her.
This is a well-written book in Susie’s honest and humorous style, that covers the bad days as well as the funny ones and is another great read from her that you won’t want to miss out on.
The Women Who Ran Away
by Sheila O’Flanagan
Review by Jacqui Brown
This was such an easy book to get into, but a difficult one to put down and rather exciting to find so many places close to home mentioned.
Grace and Deira were engaging characters, thrown together on the ferry from Ireland to France; two very different women, in the similar situation of holidaying alone whilst coping with the traumatic grief that comes with unexpected lifechanging events.
They form an unlikely bond as they both try to unravel their thoughts and work out what comes next in life, while solving the clues to a rather unusual treasure hunt. As they make their way from Nantes, to La Rochelle, Bordeaux and down through Spain to Cartagena, their journey takes them to museums and cafés where the lives of literary greats including Jules Verne, George Simenon, Earnest Hemmingway and Cervantes are remembered. This book actually made me want to look up these authors and learn more about their works and especially the places in France they were connected to. I found myself thinking about the clues and the characters even when I’d put the book down, and as much of this book is set in our little corner of west France, it was great to glean some new understanding of some of my favourite places to visit. This book is more than just a literary road trip, it takes us on an emotional journey too. The destructive emotions we all experience when situations beyond our control throw our lives into chaos, like grief, anger, hurt and regret, were normalised as Grace and Deira learned to put the past behind them and began their road to recovery.
I was sorry to get to the end of the journey with them but felt a lovely sense of peace and calm descend in my head when I finished the book.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 21
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.
This month, in our look back at the first year of The DSM, a few articles that we feel have stood the test of time well. This time including short pieces by the lovely Vanda and Mick Lawrence who are STILL involved in the magazine by being our wondeful proof readers.
From DSM 003 (May 2011)
From DSM 002 (April 2011)
From DSM 002 (April 2011)
22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
From DSM 002 (April 2011)
Tony & Lynne say ...
When we first arrived in France and saw ‘snake repellant’ for sale in the local supermarket, our fears escalated somewhat. So far, a few distant sightings have been our only contact though friends of ours DID find a ‘huge’ (their word) snake in their shower one morning.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 23
Take a Break
DSM Easy Crossword
1. A close and affectionate embrace (6)
4. Any of several grapevines that produce sweet white grapes (6)
8. A greyish brown colour (5)
9. Act between parties with a view to reconciling differences (7)
10. A British imperial capacity measure equal to 2 pints (5)
11. Device used to make different pieces of apparatus compatible (7)
12. Produced in rapid time (9)
15. Financial assistance in time of need (7)
16. Normal (5)
17. A city in central Florida (7)
18. Grinding tooth at the back of the jaw (5)
19. Even though; although; notwithstanding (6)
20. Roman emperor (6)
2. A giant planet with a ring of ice particles (6)
3. Door you go through to do 7 down (9-4)
5. Route or action leading to disaster (8-5)
6. Professional writer (6)
7. The act of passengers and crew getting aboard a ship or plane (11)
13. Fuel used to run internalcombustion engines (6)
14. Yellow fruit (6)
DSM Toughie Crossword
1. Because I have an itch to pull out of the race? (7)
5. Being shook up, catches something? (5)
8. Steamy situation for crazy aunts taking time off for start of activities. (5)
9. Group sex for first of some outlaws. (7)
10. Long essential parts of yashmac headdress. (4)
11. Mounting a bicycle wrongly could lead to sexual abstention. (8)
14. Ban lifted, leading to arrest? (3)
16. Follow graduate putting together religious treatise. (5)
17. Little devil lifting art from yield? (3)
19. Loaded stories of strange lapse with bar management? (8)
20. Nothing is in order in the instrument. (4)
23. You’ll be mad if you’re off this! (7)
25. Stem from being the essence of hushed and stern? (5)
26. Displays confidence but suffers from no leadership and falls into disuse? (5)
27. Back entrance of new store into fringes of 18D? (7)
Q1. What has one eye, but can’t see?
Q2. What tastes better than it smells?
Q3. What five-letter word becomes shorter when you add two letters to it?
Q4. Forward I am something heavy, but backward I am not.
1. Holy man and Usain running together; got to keep up! (7)
2. No time for weather front to become violent? (5)
3. Part upended in obstacle of course? (4)
4. First to have used bayonets in the centre of the action? (3)
5. Scratches and a chip can be a bit of a drawback? (8)
6. The writer is a credit to the paper, folding after reversal? (7)
7. Audacious commando getting on the limits of silly? (5)
12. Old comic now appearing in Chelsea Glee Club. (5)
13. Strange characters; not even going to dances! (8)
15. Takes on credit that nothing can replace article taken from market stalls? (7)
18. Broadcast pushed forward for northern city? (7)
19. Posh father putting foie gras, for example, on ravioli starter? (5)
21. Kind of club to suit dashing young fellow? (5)
22. Origins of Indian Sikh marriage service beliefs? (4)
Q5. What can run but never walks, has a mouth but never talks, has a head but never weeps, has a bed but never sleeps?
Q6. What begins with T, ends with T, and has T in it?
Q7. What film is represented by these Emojis?
24. To yelp more than once could be a sign of nervousness going round? (3) Solutions on P.27
With thanks to Rob Berry
With thanks to M.Morris
24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
ere are ten di erences between these two pictures.
How many can YOU nd?
Answers are on page 33
EASTER WORD SQUARE
How many words of three or more letters can you make from the letters in our square?
ere is one word of nine letters. If you want to make it harder, only allow words that contain the centre letter.
0 - 10 Not bad 11 - 20 Quite good 21 - 30 Very good 30 + Expert A T O E O C C L H
KNOW A GOOD RIDDLE ?
Send us in your favourite and, if we like it, we’ll publish it along with your name
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 25
Original image By Louise Day via PIXABAY
Ever since the groundhogs moved in and set up home under the trampoline in our garden nothing has been quite the same, although some things are exactly the same. As usual Groundhog Day was on February 2, and this year we were predicted to be in the grip of winter for another six weeks before emerging, new born as it were, into spring. Thus was said, er...indicated by Punxsutawney Phil, ‘cos that’s his job really, indicating.
We’ve certainly had a lot of snow. If, like me, you have just accepted the strange annual aberration that is Groundhog Punxsutawney Phil Day over the years, had a good laugh, shunned the movie and moved on, you might wonder why I am bringing it up now. Really I just blame the strange times in which we live locked down and without much variation and seem doomed to repeat, over and over, as is the whole plot and tradition of Groundhog Day. So, as there is not a lot going on right now, I scoured the press looking for signs of life. I came upon that item where poor ol’ Phil was ‘encouraged’ blinking into life from his winter burrow (mebbe buried warm and deep under someone’s trampoline), and into the headlines by a handful of guys in top hats. Yep, probably better known as paid up members of the Elks Lodge of Punxsutawney Pennsylvania.
Back in the dawn of time, when history was being scratched on cave walls, Elks hunted, killed and feasted on Phils. Sad but true. The European Marmot, a plumptious large ground squirrel was a ‘must eat’ at all Elks campaign suppers, but now the exact recipe has been lost and so without expert culinary guidance Phil suppers have largely become a thing of the past. But not Phil’s expert weather mapping. It has been required, even relied
upon, since 1887, firstly by the good folk of Gobbler’s Knob, Penns and then by an estimated 40,000 souls on a good February day and 2,000 on average. The advent of the ubiquitous movie (grossed $70.9 million in 1993) and the resulting publicity has greatly enhanced the status of Phils, Elks, Punxsutawney, and February and created a host of spin-off Phils such as General Beauregard Lee in Georgia, Buckeye Chuck in Ohio, Potomac Dave in DC, Jimmy in Wisconsin and Chuck, replaced by a girl Phil named Charlotte to represent Statten Island after boy Chuck bit the Mayor. Dunkirk Dave is a collective name for any lost or orphaned Phils. Showing a certain lack of flair some states have even opted for a moth-resistant taxidermist specimen Phil, which is understandably utilitarian but regrettable nevertheless.
And, I must add, there is more; February turns out to be quite a busy month. Candlemass happens. Candlemas is a festival in the Christian calendar and takes place forty days after Christmas. I understand that it is a Festival of Light when all the candles to be used in various observances during the year are gathered together and blessed. From this custom, or because of this custom, there arises a trace of Groundhoginess, for if the weather is clear on this day it forbodes a continuation of winter when our scary shadows indicate that we should climb back into bed and put all plans on hold. Various traditions, Jewish, Christian and Buddist have all analysed these interesting ideas of darkness, shadows and light for deeper philosophical meanings and when I discover anything more I intend to share it with you all. Until then stay as warm as possible, dodge and weave, and emerge triumphantly renewed into the glorious sunshine of a sparkling spring.
26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
LiFe in 79 - have a seat
My wife, Anna, has a penchant for upholstery. The occasional bed, but mostly chairs. Chairs of all shapes and sizes. We have acquired so many chairs over the years our house resembles an old people’s home... with only two residents.
We can seat 16 people in our kitchen, 17 in the living room, 16 in our bedroom (it’s good to have a choice of places to sit when cutting your toenails)! We haven’t got a particularly big house. Chez Shaw is less of a house, more of a conference centre.
She is never happier than when visiting an Emmaus. She has been to every Emmaus in south-west France...has purchased a chair or two (probably riddled with woodworm) from every Emmaus in south-west France.
If Anna tells me she is taking the van into town, I know where she’s going and I know what will be coming back. I beg her, plead with her not to bring anymore furniture home as I stand with one foot on a chaise longue and one on a banquette. But, it’s like an addiction...she can’t resist the beautiful French furniture.
As well as an array of hammers, pliers and needles she has an electric stapler for her upholstering, which makes a similar noise to a hand gun being fired. Whenever she entered the room clutching the briefcase the stapler is housed in, our dog (God rest her soul), would rush out of the room. As a tinnitus sufferer myself I have a pair of ear defenders with me at all times, incase our sensitive smoke alarm goes off or Anna is ‘doing’ a chair.
by Stephen Shaw
Like all things creative the process can be going really well or very badly. If I hear Anna singing along to Alouette with intermittent gun fire, I know everything is peachy in upholstery land. But if there is effing and jeffing emanating from the work area (the kitchen), I know to stay out and start chambré-ing a calming bottle of red.
For each chair Anna climbs aboard the emotional rollercoaster. “I’m not sure about the fabric”, “It’s the wrong sort of material”, “It’s too thick”, “It’s too thin”, “I’ve lined the pattern up wrong”, “I can’t get the staples out”, “I can’t get the staples in”, “I’m never going to do another chair again”, “Never let me do another chair again”, “I think me stapler’s broken (bang) no it’s okay”, “Are we drinking tonight?”, “I’m not happy about that bit”, “I love it!”.
She is not the tidiest worker either. A chair can take several days and we will eat our meals surrounded by horse hair, wadding, straps, springs, piping and a variety of tools. For days afterwards it is advisable to wear slippers at all times, as the chance of standing on a staple or tack is highly likely.
The chairs are always beautiful at the end of the process and calm is restored. Painted and re-covered in some luxurious material. Photographs will be taken and WhatsApp-ed to the family. Then the inevitable question... “are you using the van this afternoon?”
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 27
TAKE A BREAK - SOLUTIONS - PAGES 24 & 25 Spot The Difference: 1. Awning changed colour 2. Cat removed from doorway 3. Menu board removed from left window 4. Glass jars in right window removed 5. Second urn of flowers by door 6. Shop name changed 7. Extra clouds in sky 8. Red sweets in centre window removed 9. Strut on chair back removed 10. Lights added on shop name Easy Crossword: Toughie Crossword (Theme = Golf): S C R A T C H # H O O K S U # O # R # U # A # R # A S A U N A # B A N D I T S T # G # P # # # D # G # S A C H E # C E L I B A C Y I # # # O # A # C # M # # N A B # D O G M A # I M P # # O # D # L # P # # # R P A R A B L E S # O B O E A # R # A # # # I # L # S T R O L L E Y # S H A D T E # W # L # I # M # D # O R U S T S # P O S T E R N C U D D L E # M U S C A T # R # E # # E # # L # U # T A U P E # M E D I A T E # N # A # # B # # P # H # Q U A R T # A D A P T O R # S # T # # R # # E # R # # # Q U I C K F I R E # # # P # R # # A # # Y # B # B E N E F I T # U S U A L # T # G # # I # # L # N # O R L A N D O # M O L A R # O # T # # N # # P # N # A L B E I T # C A E S A R Brain Gym: Q1. A needle Q2. Your tongue Q3. Short (Shorter) Q4. Ton Q5. A river Q6. A teapot Q7. The Greatest Showman
Confessions of a Brooke Bond Tea Cartophilist
by Vaughan Wells
Brooke Bond first issued tea cards ‘in the interests of education and the conservation of wildlife’ in 1954 (British Birds, 1954, left), and in so doing introduced thousands of children to the wide variety of flora and fauna in Britain and overseas. Sadly, I have to admit that, despite Brooke Bond’s best efforts, education and conservation were not at the forefront of my thinking when I began to collect cards in the late 1950s. Still, at the age of nine or ten there was something quite exciting and, I guess, educational about finding a pristine card depicting a flower, fox, fish or feathered friend and glueing it not so carefully into an album, even if I didn’t quite take in what I was reading. Of course, there was also disappointment if the card turned out to be a ‘double’, in which case it was consigned to a pile labelled ‘swaps’. Nevertheless, swaps were important: if you were lucky an exchange might help in completing a set; or they could be used for a game of ‘Flickit’, the aim of which was to get your card closest to, or touching, the base of a wall. This was no game for the faint-hearted, since there was quite a bit of skill and hours of practice involved in perfecting the various techniques of floating, skidding, or flicking cards hard and directly at the chosen wall. Winner takes all.
I’m not sure precisely when I decided to take a different approach to card collecting, but I think it was shortly after my attempts to get ‘Flickit’ recognised as an Olympic sport were rejected. Shame really, I could’ve been a contender for gold, y’know. Anyway, the rediscovery several years later of a shoe box containing a few glue stained albums and hundreds of battered and bent cards somehow re-ignited my childhood passion, and I began to collect and, better late than never, preserve the cards and albums as they were issued. Now, I’m not the only one to have experienced such an epiphany, and – financially speaking - the earlier it occurred the better. There are some very smug cartophilists out there basking unbearably in the knowledge that the back issues of sets of cards and albums they purchased direct from Brooke Bond’s Picture Card Department for 2/6d (about 12 pence) in the 1960s, or 3/9d (about 18 pence) in the 1970s, are now worth anything from £150 to £500 (see, for example, Out Into Space, 1956, right), and sometimes more. There were even some young collectors who, throughout the heyday of tea cards in the ‘50s and ‘60s, didn’t devalue their cards by sticking them in albums; didn’t keep their collection in dusty shoe boxes; and didn’t play ‘Flickit’. What were they thinking?
But, hey, it’s not all about loads of dosh - even today, sets of forty or fifty cards and albums in ‘mint’ condition can still be bought for as little as £4. The illustrated history of aeroplanes, ships, motor cars and space travel is only a postage stamp away. And Brooke Bond didn’t make it up, the cards actually are educational. From 1954
to 1998 the company issued cards on a wide variety of subjects in many different countries, including Ireland (Eire), Gibraltar, Malta, Italy, Canada, America, Kenya, Rhodesia and South Africa. In the case of overseas issues, the descriptive text on the back of the cards is often in bilingual format: where else can you learn about the people, places, polar bears and plants of the Arctic and brush up on your French at the same time (see below, Brooke Bond Canada, The Arctic, 1973)? In fact, natural history is prominent in about half of the total number of the sixty or so featured topics.
From the 1950s, Brooke Bond worked closely with the World Wildlife Fund, the National Wildlife Federation of North America and conservation authorities in Africa to raise awareness of the need to protect and preserve the world’s flora and fauna amongst schoolchildren. In that context, cards, albums and beautifully designed wallcharts – issued free to schools - were an invaluable pedagogic aid to the cause and remain so today. How many plants, insects and animals such as the Siberian tiger (below, Vanishing Wildlife, 1978) are in danger of extinction or have been lost forever in the name of political and economic ‘progress’ in the last sixty or so years? Consult the cards – it’s card-craft, not witchcraft!
Finally, some tips. If you have some cards or albums you no longer want, pass them on or sell them to someone who does! But get them valued first – KNOW WHAT YOU’VE GOT, it might change your mind.
As with all things collectable, condition is everything. In general, enthusiasts seek that elusive card that looks as if it has just emerged from the tea packet (i.e. ‘mint’, or something close to it); creased, torn, grubby or defaced cards and albums are of little value, and unused albums in top condition (i.e. empty of cards) command a much higher price than used (i.e. with cards stuck in). Having said all that, there are exceptions, so it’s worth checking before you give up in despair - value, like beauty, is often in the eye of the beholder. Equally, a complete set of cards is more attractive to collectors than a part set, but don’t discard any ‘odds’. In particular, single cards with a textual or pictorial error are much sought after; you never know, there might be a little gem or two (see below) hiding away at the bottom of that biscuit tin. Above all, take off those elastic bands, keep dry, out of direct sunlight and free from dust in protective clear plastic pockets, which are inexpensive and easily obtained. Now, who’s for a game of Flickit?
Spot the difference: One of the cards depicted left (Transportation through the Ages, Brooke Bond Canada, 1966) might fetch 20 to 30 pence at auction, the other 20 to 30 pounds. Can you spot the difference?
28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Illustrations are scanned from the collection of the author, Vaughan Wells
Twiggy is 4 years old. She had been abandoned and when she came to us, she was skin and bone, and very frightened. Two months later she weighs over 5 kilos and is one of the happiest cats you could ever meet. She adores being cuddled and gets on well with other cats. Can you give beautiful Twiggy what she needs - a kind home and somewhere to spend the rest of her life feeling loved? (Twiggy is sterilised, vaccinated, and id-chipped).
Chats de Chatillon Cat Refuge & Pension
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone : 06 85 63 55 94
Website : https://chatsdechatillon.com/adoptions/
An introduction to Association Galia.
Located at Fontenay le Comte (85), Association Galia was founded in 2008 and over the years has rescued (and rehomed) thousands of cats and dogs. Galia is run entirely by volunteers and funded entirely by donations. If you have a bit of time to give or any other way you can think you could help, do not hesitate to get in touch How can you help?
• Become a volunteer,
• Become a foster family,
• Join the association,
• Make a donation,
• Promote and advertise the refuge.
www.association-galia.fr email : email@example.com (in English or French)
Chemin des Perchées
85200 Fontenay le Comte
SIRET : 508 517 455 000 12
Our Furry Friends
hope association charity shops
hope 79 • sauzé-vaussais
17 route de civray
• Good quality donations of clothes, books and bric-à-brac are always welcome
Lenny is a beautiful cat with lovely markings. He is friendly, lively and enjoys playing with the other cats. He is neutered, vaccinated, micro chipped and tested negative for FIV and FeLv. He came to us with his brothers and sisters, after being found in a ditch as his mum had been run over. The family were tiny, cold, hungry and wet. They have all thrived and we would love to see Lenny adopted. Please contact us on - firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us on Wednesday 11am - 3pm
Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884. www.facebook.com/The-Funny-Farm-Cat-Rescue
Hi my name is Moxi and I’m 4 years old and 27 kilos. I’m a medium Anglo-French doggie looking for that special family and a home I can only dream of.
I’m gentle, affectionate, albeit a little shy, but have oodles of love to give. Patience is needed as I’ve not yet mastered the delights of living in a home and will need some extra lessons on walking on the lead but I do know that I would love to find a home. I’m no problem with doggy friends but no cats please and a well-fenced garden would be smashing. I come with my own passport, am vaccinated, neutered, wormed and treated for ticks and fleas. Us hunting dogs have a hard time in finding a comfy bed for life so I’m hoping that you might have a space in your heart and home for me. Home check and reasonable adoption fees apply.
The Assocation Orfée tel: 09 77 48 71 43 or by email: email@example.com
Aria is a young and energetic mini pointer cross who is a dreamboat to have around. She’s great in the house and out and about meeting people and other dogs. She would be best suited to an energetic family but is pretty adaptable. Please get in touch if you’d like more information.
The Association En Route tel: 07 69 18 56 81 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit the website: www.assoenroute.com
animals in need café • bric à brac • books dvds & cds • clothes • furniture email@example.com
79190 sauzé-vaussais open every thursday & 1st sunday of each month, 10am - 4pm @ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 29
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 email@example.com
by Marc Rawcli
À La Carte
“PAIN DE DILAY” : A journey from bricks to bread
by Marc Rawcliffe
econversion professionnelle, the French of course have a sexy word for it! Well at least it sounds sassier than “career change”. I am a northern “Brit” in his mid-fifties who trained in gritty Liverpool and Birmingham to be an architect and landscape architect. I ultimately became a very specialist consultant working in London for developers, as well as some more holistic clients. I had the glitz with a hint of social and healthcare feel-good and have been the recipient of a Civic Trust award amongst others.
However, after 30 years of the built environment, I now find myself with arms deep in freshly milled white powder every week. My previously sedentary body has been subjected to hours of standing, lifting, mixing, carrying and all sorts of physical action. I am in effect a “paysan boulanger” creating organic naturally fermented, highly nutritious, breads and trading as “Pain de Dilay”.
You would think friends and family would be shocked and think I’m crazy, and maybe they actually do. They also see a passion in my eyes and when they taste the freshly baked (or even the still tasty five day old) bread they smile, nod and really understand. Several have (before the “crise sanitaire”) even asked to come over to my “fournil” and spend some hours with me learning how to make their own “pain au levain”, which again is sassier in French than just sourdough.
I have run workshops too, including one featured in the last series of “Escape to the Chateau DIY” on C4 at Domaine La Salle in Charente. We hope to do more of these when it is again possible to do such things, and I have run several for family groups too. It is a joy to spread the passion and to know that people go home being able to produce their own wonderful bread and knowing what is not so good about much of the other bread around, even here in France. Wonderfully, we do not have too much of the Chorleywood “wunderloaf” here but it is not
an exaggeration to say that probably around 75-80 percent of French bread consumed is full of additives and/or made in a way that takes away much of the possible goodness and leaves little taste.
I moved to France in 2010 for many reasons but none at all to do with baking bread, though one of them was for eating better bread along with other better food. I had before then become interested in bread making at home, originally because someone told me the smell of fresh bread via a bread machine was wonderful in the morning. So, I invested in a 99p eBay purchase and set off on a journey that has changed my life completely! So, for all you bread snobs even bread machines can produce something good in the end.
Back in the UK, I had started making sourdough and my starter “Karl” moved with me to France and was used once a month or so at first. My assumption had been that the French bread would be so good that I would not need to make much. I soon discovered though that for many reasons (including franchising of boulangeries by large chains, the desire to work shorter hours, the intensification of farming and the immense volume of supermarket purchases), French bread had been savaged too and was now generally over yeasted, filled with additives and, although still often visually stunning, pretty much tasteless and of poor nutritional value.
I started to search out bakeries that used levain and older ways of working, but found that there were very few in my area. Those that did exist were either very far away or were farmers working with organic crops, who milled their own flour and made their own breads on the farm. Their raw materials may have been great but the bread making was often still lacking in technique and appearance. After all, good bread should look good! On the plus side, these “paysan boulangers” were very passionate.
In 2014 I married a beautiful French lady, Audrey, who seemed shocked to discover that I baked probably the best bread she
30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
e and Chris Lange
had ever tasted and that it reminded her of days spent in her grandmother’s house and the smells in her kitchen. Audrey has greatly encouraged me on this journey even though she has, at times, struggled with my ability to get flour and dough everywhere and my parallel inability to clean it up properly. The passion for bread became kind of an obsession as I researched more and more the traditions of bread making and looked around at what others were doing. I live here in the Deux Sevres in a very small village and it is a wonderful parochial community that has a great belief in and support for its local products and businesses. In Nouvelle Aquitaine we have the “terroir” and capacity for a wonderful diverse and rich agriculture. My passion for “bon pain” became also aligned with a passion for sourcing local, quality, ingredients which I believe is paramount. The emphasis being on local and that does not necessarily always mean organic (bio). It hurts me to see people I even work with now sourcing “bio” ingredients from Kenya when there are some fabulous local alternatives.
My obsession finally became my profession at the end of the summer of 2017 when, due to the nearly instant emerging impact of the Brexit vote on overseas investment, my architectural consultancy workload shrunk as rapidly as politicians’ promises were broken. I became more and more tired of the hassle of the property world. Around that time, after making some loaves for the village picnic for our family and sharing some with others, I got an organised request for “could we have your bread every day or if not every week?” from my French neighbours. Naturally this intrigued me and made me appreciate that I had some other talents and that my passion was pleasing to and could provide others with high nutritional value bread.
So EIRL Pain de Dilay was born. As it started, I also took a position on one of the organic farms to hone some of my craft and gain experience of bulk baking. Since last year I have been working solely as Pain de Dilay. We have, in a short time, developed from baking five loaves to give to neighbours (to go with their fish!) to now producing around 600kg of naturally fermented, organically certified, loaves each month. Wherever possible, we use local flours either bought from an independent local mill, “Thibaud Freres” in La Chapelle Thireuil 79160, or milled here by me on the farm, fresh for each bake.
There have been complications, not having a French diploma being one of them but I have now had three years of experience in France, Brexit another (that’s a whole other story), and eventually my “ad hoc” fournil (bakehouse) not being sufficient for the recent growth, but seeing and hearing the joy as people taste what I am producing, and then asking for more and telling their friends is for me evidence that my passion is well placed and that it is one I can share. Even though the income is not that of an architect, the personal reward and the social
and health benefits massively outstrips even a Civic Trust Award. All I need now is to bake a “carbuncle” for Prince Charles using a mix of local seeds, wheat and rye, all with natural levain and salt from l’île de Ré of course and get him to come to the Deux Sevres and eat it!
I continue to research old recipes and use new methods to recreate them, preserving their goodness or indeed just creating! The aim is always to bring the consumer breads with high nutritional value using only quality ingredients. I am currently working on making bread high in omega 3, low glycaemic values and rich in soluble fibres, magnesium and other essential minerals. The aim is to ensure our bread is easily digestible, marvellously good for you and provides the minerals and nutrition your body needs in a natural sustainable way.
The mainstay of this approach at the moment is our unique “dilaygrain” and the “integral complet”. The former made with a ferment of dried pulses, cereals and aromatics and heritage wheat and is available every Saturday at the market. The latter a base of a local ancient wheat used entirely wholemeal and sometimes combined with sprouted wheat and oats. We have several hectares of our own heritage wheats underway to continue this and make the ingredients even more local. This is just the start!
With these recipes, I am using a slow method of fermentation based on “Respectus Panis” a way of making bread being propounded by a few like-minded French bakers and nutritionists which respects the primary materials and aims to provide healthy, tasty, beautiful bread. I aim to eventually make most of my bread this way.
You can find Pain de Dilay every Tuesday and Saturday on the market at Coulonges sur l’Autize (79160) with a selection of breads available “sans reservation”. We also still have the original “pointe de vente à la ferme” every Friday in Dilay, 79160.
It is best to order in advance and we send out an announcement every Sunday evening with what is available etc. You can subscribe to this by messaging us on 06 52 18 86 63 / email to firstname.lastname@example.org or by Facebook or Instagram Message on our page @paindedilay. Orders and even advance payment are possible online at www.paindedilay.fr or orders only by SMS or Messenger as above, or just come and see me at the market to see what is left!
We also supply a limited range of breads to the Vergers de Vendee shop situated in St Hilaire de Loges 85240, and will shortly we hope be also supplying a well-known farm shop in Niort.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 31
Health, Beauty and Fitness
Hello everyone! I’m Gill Harrison of Harrisonhair. I’ve recently moved to France to the beautiful Deux-Sèvres area and I’m excited to be starting my new business as a fully registered and insured mobile hairdresser/coiffeuse a domicile.
I specialise in classic cuts and short hair, focussing on natural texture and shape. Take a look at my Facebook page (harrisonhair) or my Instagram page (gillharrisonhair) where you can see some of my work.
Before re-locating to France I was working as a State Registered freelance mobile hairdresser in Dorset, UK. I’m also a member of The Freelance Hairdressers Association who provide excellent training opportunities along with The Union Nationale de Entreprises de Coiffure (UNEC).
Please contact me if you wish to make an appointment. I’m covering Melle, Sauze Vaussais, Chef Boutonne and Ruffec.
Everyday Yoga for Everyone
Yoga and Alcohol: A Dilemma no More
by Rebecca Novick
Isometimesget this question, “Can I drink alcohol and do yoga?” to which I reply with my trademark droll humour, “Well, yes, but you might have to put your glass down first!” All joking aside, this is a question worth exploring. It isn’t about whether one should do yoga under the influence. That is not just silly but potentially dangerous (yes, we’ve all done it!). I’m talking about the longer term effects of alcohol, the next, and the next.
Alcohol is prohibited in the yogic texts and in ancient India, yoga was traditionally practiced in an ashram in the context of a strict ethical and meditative system. But here in the modern West, yoga operates in the context of a householder life, where a glass of wine or two at the end of the day is standard practice. There is even something called Wine Yoga that’s become popular these days where people do yoga and then, well, you get the idea.
What I’d like to talk about here isn’t so much the ethics of drinking alcohol within the path of yoga but the effects. It’s when you notice, time and time again, that you are more wobbly in Tree Pose than usual, or that you tire more easily in Plank, or that your coordination is off in High Lunge, or it’s just that much harder to keep your concentration flowing in the whole sequence. You perform at a lower par on the mat both mentally and physically, and the cycle blocks any real progress. And here is the key, because one day it dawns on you that if alcohol is reducing your performance at yoga, then it is causing you to perform at a lower par at everything else too.
A long-term effect of a regular yoga practice is that our bodies become more sensitive to the effects of what we eat and drink. I find it helpful to think of this less as an increase in sensitivity and more as an increase in awareness. This more refined awareness leads to an even more subtle effect that can be described as embodied renunciation; a disinterest and disinclination to engage in any activity that stops us from living out our best Self. It sits in contrast to mental renunciation that often boils down to self-referencing admonishments and internal finger-wagging to try to moderate behaviour. This rarely succeeds in helping to any lasting degree, often leading to feelings of failure and disappointment when, inevitably, we’re unable to live up to the standards we’ve set for ourselves. The expression of embodied renunciation, once found, can be developed through maintaining the discipline and focus of a consistent practice that may also include meditation to stabilize and enhance it. The desire for alcohol simply begins to slip away, almost without one noticing it, in a process that can seem mysterious but which actually has very logical mechanisms of action.
Regular yoga practice can help to change habits that are negatively impacting our lives. It does this by:
1. revealing to us a standard of well-being that we begin to experience and value and thus are willing to work for
2. increasing our awareness of the effects of our behaviour on our body, mind and spirit
3. reducing the production of stress hormones and depression inducing inflammatory markers in the body that can motivate us to want to reach for that bottle in the first place.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to be a teetotaler to do yoga, but it does mean that if you are one of the many people who want to reduce your alcohol consumption but are finding it hard to get traction, then a regular yoga practice might well provide you with that mojo you’ve been looking for. So the answer to the question, “Can I drink and do yoga?” is yes, you can. But you might discover that, over time, you feel less inclined to do so.
Zoom classes every Thursday morning. For more information email: email@example.com http://www.facebook.com/groups/lavieenyoga
Respect yourself, explore yourself.
32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
What do yogis, singers, pearl fishers and Taiji practitioners have in common ? Breathing !
by Terry Ryan
Youprobably haven’t given much thought to the process of breathing … yet it is so vitally important to good health.
Taiji (aka Tai Chi), known as ‘Shadow Boxing’ can be described as ‘Meditation in Movement’.
As in other forms of meditation, breathing has an important part to play within Taiji.
Yoga probably has the oldest and most thorough study of breathing known as ‘pranayama’.
Thanks to the Indian monk Bodhidharma, who taught the Buddhist monks at Shaolin temple, it also exists in Chinese systems of meditation.
Breathing is the means by which well-oxygenated blood is transported via the arteries and capillaries to the muscle cells and organs in order to facilitate the slow conversion of food molecules into the energy of life in the process known as metabolism.
Qigong, literally ‘energy work’, is the Taiji equivalent of pranayama and aims to maximise the efficiency of this process by a combination of breathing techniques and movement.
In Taiji, the first principle is to be relaxed and natural. By adopting the sitting position outlined in my previous article one can focus on a slow, rhythmic breathing :
The mouth remains lightly closed with the tongue resting behind the upper palate, the spine is naturally vertical without any tension.
The abdomen expands relaxedly during inhalation and returns of its own accord during exhalation.
(Unlike the complete breath in Yoga, we do not employ the ribs, chest or clavicles)
The mind is occupied with either simply counting the number of breaths or, my favourite : listening to some gentle music whilst imagining the performance in great detail.
Five minutes (or more) of this, albeit simple, method of meditation exercise can be a very effective form of relaxation and prepares the body and the mind in order to benefit from the movements of Taiji … which I will discuss in my next article.
Due to the general Covid situation, it is unwise to giveTaiji 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 Deux-Sèvres and Le Breuil Barret in the Vendée.
Please see www.chen-taiji-fr.jimdosite.com or phone me : 05 49 65 60 34 for further details.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 33
Death and Hell The Seven Deadly Sins
TheSeven Deadly Sins is one of the three processional themes painted inside churches, the other two being The Danse Macabre and The Procession of the Damned. This theme is related to the other two but is distinguished by a moral rather than a pedagogic tone, showing behaviours unacceptable in a Christian community. It does, however, precede Christianity and is found in Ancient Greek (Aristotle) and Roman sources. Both the Greeks and the Romans seemed to have had, as a starting point, the extolling of a number of virtues, or positive qualities, whilst using their opposites as a warning of the dangers of not living up to those excellent precepts. There are lists of both the virtues and the vices, and although they differ to a degree in content, the intent remains the same. The Church seems to use only the vices, and by calling them The Seven Deadly Sins, it uses them not only as a means of coercion, but also as a warning, by showing transgressors being led off to hell by demons, each of them accompanied by an animal representing the sin.
The Seven Deadly Sins entered Christian literature by the writings and translations of John Cassian (360–435 CE), who was familiar with both the Eastern and Western Christian churches and brought not only Latin translations of older Greek writings to the West, but also the Eastern monastic tradition. Cassian’s list of vices was later revised by Pope
by Howard Needs
Gregory, in 590 CE, to form the present list used not only by the Catholic church, but also by a number of Protestant churches. This list comprises Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Sloth, Wrath, Envy, and Pride or their direct synonyms; I myself would include an eighth sin, Jealousy.
Really, when one looks at the three processional themes, one sees that they differ in their intent. The Danse Macabre is merely a reminder of the fact that each person, whatever their estate, is mortal – and of course the tale of The Three Living and the Three Dead is a similar reminder. The Seven Deadly Sins is a warning of the fate of those who transgress (this in addition to the Ten Commandments), and The Procession of the Dead illustrates the same fate but undergone by naked, anonymous persons after Judgement.
I am using three churches as examples of nearly complete paintings, restored of course, which show how the Church presented these sins and their consequence.
The church of St-Perdufle de la Masse, in the commune of Les Junies, in the Lot, has a well-preserved and complete procession dating from the 16th century. The church is a small chapel in an outlying hamlet and was in use for exhibitions when my wife and I visited it. The sinners are led on a chain by a horned devil, directly into the mouth of Leviathan, the monster that has its own long history, ranging from Canaanite stories, via the
34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Église St Perdu e de la Masse, Les Junies, Lot
Part of the procession of the Seven Deadly Sins
Église St Perdu e de la Masse Avarice on a badge
Église St Perdu e de la Masse Envy
Book of Job and the Old Testament, through to the medieval Church. Each sinner is individually portrayed. Pride is a rich man mounted on a lion. He is followed by Avarice, with a purse of money in each hand, riding on a badger. Luxury, a kept woman regarding herself in a mirror and riding a goat, precedes Envy, who is looking at a precious object held by his devil guard. Envy rides an ass. Gluttony is hard to discern, but he is identifiable by the food vessel hanging before him. By convention he should be riding a swine, but I see no trace of a swine in my photos. Wrath, or Anger, is a young man riding a leopard and stabbing himself in the chest with a dagger. Sloth, as you might expect, comes last, mounting an ass and being whipped by a big yellow devil. This procession, painted on the south wall of the nave, is unusual in that it proceeds in the direction of the altar, rather than towards the back of the church and the exit.
I covered Notre-Dame de Bourisp, in the Hautes-Pyrénées, in part in a previous article. I have taken some details from the Bourisp procession for this article, and although they are more drawings than paintings, the details are very expressive. The sinners are all women and are portrayed in a very stylised fashion, all with much the same posture. The devils, with their supplementary faces, are unusual in that they have pterodactyl-like or, in one case, insectoid wings. Although the figures can be identified, it is the animals they are riding that denote their sin.
Saint-Martin de La Pommeraie-sur-Sèvre, in the Vendée, close to where we live, is a village church that is still in use and always open to the public. The paintings, which date to the XVI cent., were rediscovered in the late 19th cent. They were first restored in the 1970s and more recently in 2018, when the degradation of the last 50 years was repaired. Although you cannot see much evidence of that repair, if I compare old photos with recent ones, it is evident that someone with a light and delicate touch has repaired places that were degraded.
I will stop my story now to leave room for the photos and let the captions tell their tale.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 35
Photos by Howard NEEDS
Église St Perdu e de la Masse Mouth of Leviathan and the rst sinner Pride riding on a lion
Église St Perdu e de la Masse Luxury with her mirror
Notre-Dame-de-Bourisp Avarice grasping money sack
Notre-Dame-de-Bourisp Anger pulling her hair on a dragon with her winged devil
Église St Martin Anger, Gluttony and Luxury or Vanity
Église St Martin Sloth being whipped along on an ass
The1st April is the day for pranks, «des canulars», practical jokes «des farces» and jokes «des blagues». But where does the tradition of sticking a fish to someone’s back «accrocher des poissons dans le dos des gens» and shouting “Poisson d’Avril” (April Fish) come from?
As ever, the first of April does not only have one but several origins. The first of April falls twelve days after the Spring equinoxe «l’équinoxe de printemps».
Until Charles 9th decided otherwise in 1564 with the Edict of Roussillon, New Year had begun on the 1st April. To be more exact, new year started around the 1st April and not necessarily on the 1st April. After the edict, the royal subjects who were against the change decided they should give each other imitation gifts and play tricks on each other on that date.
But what about the fish? I hear you say.
If the reason for the appearance of the date of the 1st April seems to be quite clear, the reason why a fish is used is less so. I have read that, as fishing was forbidden at this time of year because it was the season for reproduction, some people had the idea of playing jokes on fishermen and throwing herrings in the rivers and shouting ‘Poisson d’Avril’ (‘April fish’).
Nowadays people do not throw herrings in the water but children cut out paper fish and stick them on people’s backs.
Certain people see in the fish a reference to the Christian ichtus. For others, the Zodiac sign of Pisces is the last sign of winter. During lent one could not eat meat, only fish. The presents that people gave each other in April were often gifts of food. As meat had been forbidden during lent it was easier to get hold of fish at this period so people gave fish. As the idea of playing a prank developed one of the most common jokes was to give pretend fish «faux poissons»
The custom of playing jokes can be found in a lot of countries although the fish is not necessarily associated with the jokes. We Brits have April Fool’s Day, the Germans have Aprilscherz and the custom can also be found in the Netherlands, in Belgium, in Canada, in Italy, in the USA or even in Japan.
In France, as elsewhere, newspapers and radio stations often join in the fun and publish stories for April Fool’s day. In 2013 the RTL radio station affirmed that Roselyne Bachelot, the former Health minister and currently Minister of Culture, was going to take part in the making of the next James Bond film in which James Bond would be played by Daniel Craig. And also in 2013, the Post Office said that it was launching
by Sue Burgess
an offer to deliver daily papers in Auvergne using drones. There were going to be about twenty «Air Drone Postal» (postal drones).
Vocabulary / Vocabulaire
un canular prank/ hoax/ trick/
une blague joke / trick
une farce practical joke
une histoire drôle a funny story / joke / rib tickler
une plaisanterie funny comment / joke
la chute punch-line
éclater de rire to burst out laughing
MDR (used in text messages)
mort de rire LOL
un rire énorme belly laugh
un rire jaune forced laugh
rire de to laugh at / mock
rigoler to giggle
une rigolade a laugh
quelle rigolade what a laugh
bien se marrer (informal) to have a good laugh
rire au nez de quelqu’un to laugh in someone’s face
36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Two Doors Down ‘If It
Wisnae Fur Yer Wellies…’
by Wendy York
Thelast few weeks in our tiny village have been full of highs and not many lows as the river Boutonne burst its banks in several strategic places. For yours truly, living two doors down from the château it meant waking up one morning, looking out the windows to see a huge lake stretching from our garden across our neighbour’s matching lake to the unlucky château which is built on several small islands.
To add to the rising river, the water table rose in sympathy and within a day or five of heavy rainfall adding to the aqua alta, neighbourly concerns rose too. There was frantic finding of wellies and waders, all hands to help with ancient pumps to bale out cellars, constant checking water levels and clearing collections of flotsam and jetsam.
Wading in with my somewhat wobbly French took on a whole new meaning. Why, in Scottish school French lessons were we not taught helpful words and phrases for dealing with natural emergencies? This was not the time to recite the contents of my pencil case nor divulge the ages of my parents, who throughout four years of lessons both remarkably remained at a steady trente-cinq ans. Of course, if the pen of my aunt or a red book was needed, I would have translated instantly and splashed home to fetch.
I did note the curriculum has become slightly more relevant as my grandchildren can all fluently order baguettes and croissants, one
even noted the craziness that singular and plural are pronounced the same. Well spotted that child(!) and non, Grandmère can’t explain many French language foibles other than they may not be as fond of sibilance as the Brits.
Like a cross between Canute and Noah, we waited for the waters to abate. The épicierie only managed to avoid being waterlogged through constant vigilance as did the château ground floor. A group of us sea scouts were on red alert to paddle in and lift whatever had to be raised to safety.
This wave of excitement to an otherwise dull winter has now passed and we all begin to look forward to spring. Usually I am found betwixt and between the château, enjoying time spent two doors down, welcoming visitors to events or to view the château and gardens and to continue planning for the future. This year we are patient, we hope that permission for monuments historique to open to the public will be sooner rather than later and a full programme of events can be rolled out. Meanwhile, all ideas for a Renaissance Waterworld/Aquasplash theme park welcomed.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 37
Magnolia Farm Renovations
Indoor Pool Anyone ?
by Owen Kitchener-McCartney
Youcould be forgiven for thinking that a house that doesn’t yet contain a kitchen could probably place ‘indoor pool’ quite low on the list of renovation priorities...
Not so on Magnolia Farm!
Granted, this is not a pool that we’d actually planned. Nor was it something you’d want to swim in! However, because of the seemingly endless rain in early February, our kitchen floor, for a few weeks at least, resembled nothing more than a cold, dank, uninvited puddle.
When we bought the property, the room that will soon be our kitchen-diner was two separate rooms so, last year, we knocked the partition wall down to create the large open space. This now meant we had half the room with a concrete floor and the other half a timber joist and floorboard construction. The timber had to come out to accommodate new concrete but we had previously been blissfully unaware of the potential pond under the floorboards.
It didn’t go unnoticed that when we removed the floorboards, the remaining joists resembled the sort of puff pastry that you may remember from school dinners! They literally crumbled in our hands and were also balanced quite precariously, on a few, hastily assembled piles of stone.
Nevertheless, we continued with the work and spent an afternoon shovelling 2.5 tonnes of gravel into what was now a 15m2 pit. It wasn’t until we flattened it all with a wacker plate, kindly lent to us by our friend and builder, Adrian Butterfield, that we noticed some water rising up through the gravel. We thought it was just a bit of excess moisture from the gravel that we’d squeezed out but even after attempting to vacuum it out, the water kept rising. To our horror, this was the water table that had risen with all the recent rain and made its way above the earth under our house.
Luckily, once it dries out, we’ll be able to lay some dampproof membrane and concrete to keep the water at bay but for a few nervous weeks we found ourselves monitoring liquid levels in our kitchen...something normally reserved for our gin intake!
It seems nothing goes as smoothly as you’d like when renovating an old house. Maybe that’s why the locals think us Brits are all mad for buying these wrecks. I’m sure a lot of DSM readers will agree however, that we wouldn’t have it any other way.
38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
(I’m forever blowing) RETRO BUBBLES
These days small, economical, compact urban cars are all very in Vogue, and “green” but cars of this genre have been around longer than you might think.
Back in the 1950’s and 60’s, they were known as “Bubble Cars”.
The name came from the fact that many of the cars had an aircraft style canopy and small rounded appearance.
Bubble Cars became popular in Europe at that time as a demand for cheap personal motorised transport emerged and fuel prices were high, due in part to the 1956 Suez Crisis. Most of them were three-wheelers, which in many places, including the UK, qualified them for inexpensive taxes and licensing as motorcycles.
Most Bubble Cars were manufactured in Germany by the former German military aircraft manufacturers, Messerschmitt and Heinkel. Automobile and motorcycle manufacturer BMW also manufactured the Italian Iso Rivolta Isetta under licence, using an engine from one of their own motorcycles. France also produced large numbers of similar tiny vehicles called voiturettes, but unlike the German makes, these were rarely sold abroad.
Probably the most instantly recognizable Bubble Cars are the Isetta and the Messerschmitt.
A friend of mine recently saw a Messerschmitt for the first time, and it was this that prompted me to write the article!
After the war Messerschmitt were banned from producing aircraft and so were open to the production of other commodities. In 1952 they were approached by Fritz Fend, a former aircraft industry worker, with the idea of manufacturing small motor vehicles based on his invalid carriage.
While the Messerschmitt name and insignia were used on the car, a separate company was created to manufacture and market the vehicle.
The cars were designated with KR model numbers, KR standing for Kabinenroller meaning “scooter with cabin”, and Cabrio and Roadster models were also produced.
The car clearly displays its aviation connections. In appearance, it looks like a tiny fighter plane without wings.
Entry is via a plastic domed canopy with side sliding plastic windows and a glass windshield which swung open from the side. Just like a plane’s cockpit, the driver and passenger sit in tandem. While this plastic dome permits excellent visibility, hot, sunny weather turns it into a sauna!
In the early pre 1955 cars, the controls were located on the handlebars (or tiller), allowing the car to be driven without
On The Road
by Helen Tait-Wright
using one’s feet, which in fact made it ideal for disabled people and in particular wheel chair bound Veterans from WWII, as per Fend’s original idea. The tiller is only 32 inches above street level giving what might be termed a roadkill view of traffic.
Rather bizarrely, reverse gear is accomplished by starting the two stroke engine backwards and putting the car in gear. This led to the discovery that the car could be driven in reverse in all four gears, and it would go faster backwards, because it was more aerodynamic going in that direction!
In 1956, Messerschmitt was allowed to manufacture aircraft again and lost interest in Fend’s microcars. Messerschmitt sold the Regensburg works to Fend who, with brake and hub supplier Valentin Knott, formed a company to continue production of the KR200 and his other vehicles.
Production of the KR200 was heavily reduced in 1962 and ceased in 1964 as sales had been dropping for a few years. The demand for basic economy transport in Germany had diminished as the German economy boomed. A similar situation developed in other parts of Europe such as in the manufacturer’s biggest export destination, the United Kingdom, where sales were particularly affected by the increasing popularity of the Mini.
Around about 61,000 cars were built in total.
Kabinenrollers sold well and because of their simple construction and ease of maintenance, they had a high survival rate which means they’re not too difficult to find. These quirky vehicles have a strong following, and today, with interest in ‘bubble cars’ having been on the rise for some time, many view the tandem seat Messerschmitt’s as the cream of the crop. While some examples have fetched over £60,000 at auction a more average example would set you back between £10,000 and £25,000.
Forget the Renault Twizy, the Messerschmitt has much more style!
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 39
Sports Car & Motorcycle Specialist Restoration Engine Building Telephone: +33 (0)624 59 51 67 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.mikesweeney.eu Siren 838987717 Expert Advice Project Management Servicing Vans, Cars, 4x4’s, Motorhomes Control Technique Repairs & Welding Air Conditioning Recharging & Repair Towbars Supplied, Wired & Fitted Specialist Vehicle Diagnostics (For All Makes) Fault Code Reading/Clearing Component Testing & Repair Key Programming Dealer Diagnostic & Programming Equipment for Audi, Volkswagen and Skoda. 1966prs@gmail. Based in Le Busseau Siret No: 85409585800015 40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
April 2021 Update.
Tostart off this update, we would like to answer a question we have been asked a lot recently, especially now that we and Priscilla are fully branded; what does Giti stand for? Well it doesn’t exactly stand for anything!
Giti (pronounced GT) are our Principal Partners.
Giti Tire Group (headquartered in Singapore) has roots in the tyre business going back to 1951 and is now one of the world’s largest tyre companies. Giti Tire produces a broad range of tyre products, serving major original equipment vehicle manufacturers, auto-service outlets, motorsports teams, tyre dealers, and consumers in more than 130 countries worldwide. The company has eight production centers in three countries, including a newly opened tire factory in South Carolina, USA.
In addition to its wide network and motorsports presence, Giti Tire is also heavily focused on green production and community efforts, including participation in local education and environmental efforts to create a better society.
The partnership with the Giti Gazelles continues Giti’s commitment for diversity, as well as encouraging the empowerment of females in motorsports. This also includes the company’s ongoing partnership with the ‘Girls Only’ Giti/ WS Racing Team - an elite all-female racing team that has seen great success in recent years, including winning its group in Nürburgring VLN racing action and strong performances in the past two 24 Hours Nürburgring races on Giti tires.
With that (hopefully) fully explained, we would like to update you on the environmental cause we spoke about last time.
We recently had the good fortune to spend a morning in the company of Pierre Gay, the Director of the Bioparc de Doue la Fontaine and the gazelles. They really are beautiful creatures! We learned about the aims and requirements of the conservation programme and the latest action to clear the release areas of invasive cactus plants prior to the herds of gazelles, bred in captivity, being released back into the Sahara.
Along with Giti we will be donating to this project and we will be featuring the project both on Priscilla and on our helmets, as part of
our role as ambassadors.
We recently received an email from the rally organisers with very positive indications for a departure in May, and a promise we will have a definitive answer by 15th April, so we keep our fingers tightly crossed. The Covid situation in Morocco continues to improve daily and they are well ahead of France with their vaccination campaign which is all contributing to the positive feeling. We just have to get out there!!!!
We also have a new team member to introduce … our team mascot “Elly” in a nod to the Giti logo.
We still have a lot of prep work to do, not least checking and double checking the technical regulations and equipment lists, so we will get back to it and update you again next month.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 41
with Helen Tait-Wright and Sue Alemann
Food and Drink
Is It a Bird, Is It a Plane? No, It’s Biodynamic Wine!
Here’s a humdinger of a Who Wants To Be A Millionaire question: what’s the link between the rock band Blondie and the growing trend for biodynamic wine? No? 50:50? Phone a friend? Well, as your evertrustworthy wine/70s music guru – Call Me! If your four possible answers are a) Brigitte Bardot; b) Gary Lachman; c) Marilyn Monroe; d) Brigitte Macron, I would advise you, after dramatic pauses and umms and ahhs, to go for ‘b’, final answer, Gary Lachman. It was he who wrote not only many classic bass lines (when he was known as Gary Valentine) but also ‘Rudolf Steiner: An Introduction to his Life and Work’. Yup, Gary was and still is a smart chap – sorry, ‘dude’.
Steiner (1861 – 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, esotericist and self-claimed clairvoyant whose over-arching goal was to link science and spirituality. At the beginning of the 20th century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, which claims the existence of an objectively provable spiritual world. All well and good and weird, but where does wine come in?
In 1924, at the prompting of a group of worried farmers, Steiner gave a series of lectures on an ecological and sustainable approach to agriculture, an approach that would increase soil fertility without relying on chemical fertilisers and pesticides.
(Hmm – ‘ecological and sustainable’. Sound familiar? Talk about a man before his time.)
So was born biodynamic agriculture, practiced to this day in many parts of the world. The general idea is that the farm is seen as one single organism and should, as far as possible, be self-sustainable. Can’t really argue with that, but
Steiner being Steiner, elements of esoterica were also introduced. For example, sowing, weeding and harvesting should be done in accordance with the phases of the moon and planets.
And, er, wine? There was no single eureka moment when whole groups of winemakers decided that biodynamism was the way to go, but into the 50s and 60s vineyards were not, as we New Agers say, in a good place. For over half a century, vineyards had been plagued by phylloxera (mid to late 19th century) and ravaged by two World Wars. Little wonder that winemakers wanted to rebuild their vineyards and boost production as much as possible. To do this they used chemicals, lots and lots of ‘em. Steiner would have said they were introducing alien elements into a perfectly viable ecosystem which had all it needed to help itself. Winemakers blew a raspberry and carried on with the chemicals. And yes, production increased. Trouble was that the chemicals killed off much of the microbial life in the soil, which meant you had to increase the chemicals, which killed off more natural life in the soil, which meant…. you get the picture. And so, eventually, did some winemakers.
But not that many, even now. Of 76,000 vineyards in France only 609 or 1.4% are certified biodynamic. That’s 10,700 hectares out of a total of 750,000 hectares, compared to ‘bio’ winemaking (less restrictive than biodynamics) with 112,000 hectares. Nonetheless, biodynamics continues to make inroads: as of last November, 133 winemakers
by John Sherwin
were in the process of converting to biodynamism. Converting? Well yes, it takes time to allow Nature to rid itself of decades of chemicals and then to build up (or rebuild) a natural ecosystem. And France being France, everything has to be codified and certified, in this case by one of two organisations, Demeter or Biodyvin. I mention these names so you’ll know what you’re getting if you see one of them on a label.
What will you be getting? It’s all very well labouring in the vineyard in accordance with phases of the moon, sometimes rising at 4am to bury cow horns filled with dung to encourage root growth, and severely limiting the use of copper and sulphur, but what of the wine in the glass? The views of some winemakers:
Hélène Thibon, southern Rhone: Very quickly we noticed an improvement in balance. We thought it was just one vintage, but it’s happened every year. We can’t explain it, we just go with the flow.
J-P Fleury, Champagne: Within two years we saw a difference in the balance of sugar and acid. The aromatic complexity is more intense.
Nicolas Raffy, Roussillon: The wines are more and more precise, with more and more energy. They taste of a place. Biodynamics builds a link between a wine and where it was grown, it’s bloody obvious.
To avoid a Meghanatic, or Oprahtic presentation, what say the detractors?
Frédéric Mugnier, Burgundy: Steiner isn’t competent. All he learned about plants was from reading Goethe.
Patrick Baudouin, Loire: Steiner’s vision is absurd, claiming it’s a means of contacting benevolent invisible beings and guarding against malevolent ones…
Pascal Chatonnet, oenologist: What hacks me off is the ‘guru-isation’of biodynamics, making it more marketing than viticulture.
Valéry Rasplus, epistemologist with Inrae : Sorry, I deal with more serious topics. A synthesis of creationism and science doesn’t interest me.
It’s evident that biodynamics will continue to divide opinion. It’s easy to make fun of the unfamiliar – Hindus bathing in the Ganges, a Japanese tea ceremony, emails, electricity, being injected with a disease to make you immune from it – but maybe, just maybe, There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy
The nearest biodynamic producer I’m aware of is Thierry Michon, Domaine St Nicholas, Brem sur Mer, whose wines are exceptional. You could take a trip in your ‘car’, another new-fangled nonsense.
Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or www.french-wine-tours.com www.facebook.com/bestfrenchwinetours
42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Celebrating an anniversary
by Jacqueline Brown
Homemade meatballs have often been our family meal of choice to celebrate a birthday or special occasion, so it seemed a good idea to make up a batch to mark the anniversary of the first confinement. As I shaped the spicy meat mixture into balls, I couldn’t help but look back on what has been an extraordinary year, with much of my focus centred around the kitchen.
Adrian and I might have been married for almost twenty-three years, but these last twelve months mark quite a milestone, as it’s the first time we have been together, every night, for an entire year. I worried initially about how I would find the inspiration to make something different every night and how my cooking would compete with his frequent meals out in the UK, a necessity of hotel living and working away from home. One thing I never worried about was how we’d cope being together twenty-four hours a day and the family time it has given us has been priceless.
I’m certainly eating a wider variety of meals than I did a year ago when I was home alone except for the weekends when Adrian was back between jobs, and Ed popped in, normally with a bag of washing. I have rekindled my love of cake-baking, meaning we are all used to cake being a daily staple. I’ve perfected my bechamel skills and fallen back in love with homemade lasagne. I’ve tried new recipes from cookbooks that have done little except gather dust over the years and while not all have been successful, we have found new family favourites to add to our list of regular meals, many of which became rather routine in the first few months of lockdown. I’ve even let Ed take control of my kitchen, every now and then, and have to admit he makes a pretty good oven-baked onion bhaji, which we have on curry night, or for apéros, just because.
It is the little changes that have seen big results and for the first time in my life I am now organised enough to plan the week’s meals in advance. We’ve saved money with bars and restaurants being closed, which was necessary when work was in short supply, but we are also more conscious of looking for offers when food shopping. We are also eating more vegetarian meals, so the celebratory meatballs were a real treat. The best thing is that we have all lost weight in the year we have been living and eating together as a family.
The sauce for the meatballs was simple. Onions, carrots (as there were some looking past their best), half a tin of tomatoes and the last red pepper from an opened jar of roasted peppers, plus the liquid from the jar that formed the bulk of the stock. Spaghetti with a tomato-based sauce is always messy, but as far as we are concerned that is part of the fun, and meatballs shouldn’t be served with anything else.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021| 43
•150 g Shredded Wheat
•150 g Milk Chocolate
• 50 g Mini Eggs
As simple to make as ABC
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of hot water, sprinkle in the shredded wheat and stir until fully coated. Then make nests, whatever shape and size you want.
Add your eggs and leave to set in the fridge for around 2-3 hours depending on size of the nest.
Sau gé ntage Te a Ro om
Château de Saugé
Hot Cross Buns
•500g SR Flour
•2 tsp mixed spice
•1 tsp ground cinnamon
•1 lemon, finely grated zest only
•10g fast-action dried yeast
•1 egg beaten
•50g chopped mixed candied peel
•oil, for greasing
•For the topping
•75g Plain flour
1.Mix flour, sugar, spices and lemon zest in a large bowl. Then add the salt and yeast.
2.Melt the butter, warm the milk and add the butter and half the tepid milk to the dry ingredients add the egg and combine.
3.Gradually add the remaining milk, to form a soft pliable dough (you may not need all of the milk).
4.Tip the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead by hand incorporating the sultanas and mixed peel. Lightly knead for 10 minutes until silky and elastic and forming a smooth ball.
5.Oil a bowl and place the dough in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to rest in a warm place for about 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
6.Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and divide into 12 balls. Line 1-2 baking trays with paper and place the balls on the tray fairly close together and flattening them slightly.
7.Slip each baking tray into a large clean polythene bag, making sure the bag doesn’t touch the buns. Leave for 40-60 minutes until the buns have doubled in size.
8.Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/Gas 7.
9.For the topping, add the flour to a bowl with 100ml water. Mix together to make a paste and spoon into the icing bag.
10.When the buns have risen remove the polythene bags and pipe a cross on each bun. Bake for 15-20 minutes until pale golden-brown, turning the baking trays round halfway through if necessary.
11.Melt the golden syrup in a pan and while the buns are still warm, brush the buns with a little syrup to give a nice shine, before setting aside to cool on a wire rack.
How about an Easter Wreath for your door – here are some ideas, let your mind run riot and see what you come up with… I know it will be wonderful.
Donna 44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Whether you are an Adult or a Child we all love decorating eggs … go on have a go… its fun.
Glazed Orange Easter Cakes
This easy to make recipe is based on a traditional semolina cake eaten in Greece at Easter. They are delicious served with fresh orange segments and Greek yoghurt. Keep in an airtight container and eat within three days.
Don’t add the syrup more than two hours before serving.
Ingredients for 12 cakes
For the cake:
150g softened butter
150g light soft brown sugar
150g ground almonds
3 medium eggs
3 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
5 tablespoons lemon juice (fresh or from a bottle)
12-hole muffin tin oiled and lined with baking parchment at the bottom.
For the glaze
1 small orange
5 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice (fresh or from a bottle)
1. Set the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/400°F
2. Beat sugar and butter together in a large bowl until creamy.
3. Beat eggs in a separate bowl and add to mixture slowly.
4. Add semolina, almonds, baking powder and cinnamon mixing together well. Add lemon juice and mix again.
5. Spoon into prepared muffin tin and bake for about 15 mins.
6. Leave to cool for a minute or so and then loosen sides with a blunt knife. Leave to cool and then remove parchment paper.
7. To make the syrup, grate the rind from half the orange and put in a small saucepan. Add the juice of the orange (around three tablespoons).
8. Add lemon juice and golden syrup and warm over a low heat stirring continuously until runny. Use a teaspoon to trickle over the cakes.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021| 45
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The French House Satellite TV
TFH Satellite TV is now in the Deux-Sevres!
First established in the Haute-Vienne, we have been doing everything related to satellite TV since 2005. 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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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 47 Siret 879 119 030 00010 Free quotes with home visit Based in Exoudun (Deux-Sèvres)
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48 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 49 Small B&W Advert from 32€ per month
50 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Up to date information about opening hours, restrictions, etc for your local déchetterie? Visit the website www.smc79.fr for details For waste disposal outside of the Deux-Sèvres there’s an alternative website www.decheteries.fr
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 51 Looking for an English speaking business in France? Find one on SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL BUSINESSES ... OR THEY WON’T BE THERE WHEN YOU NEED THEM
Business and Finance
FRENCH INCOME TAX 2021
YES!It’s that time of the year again when we start receiving the dreaded income tax form to fill in (from mid-April to Mid-May). Some of you thought that the new changes with monthly payments taken at source (prélèvement à la source) would stop that but no, you still have to fill in a form!
As the forms are not available at the time of writing this article, I have decided to give you a prelude on French income tax. I will be explaining who must fill in a tax form, what revenue you have to declare, how the double taxation treaty works between France and UK and lots of other information.
Next month, when the new forms are available, I will explain to fill them in ... in detail.
1. Who has to fill in the tax form:
Basically, everybody who is a French resident (lives in France more than 6 month per year) whether you are employed, selfemployed or retired and even if you are obliged to pay taxes in the UK!
Also, non-French residents who have rented property in France.
If it is your first time, you have to go to the Trésor public office (tax office) and ask for the forms, which are available from the first week of May. Or you can download them from the tax office web site.
The reason we still fill in a form is because of tax advantages such as children, employing a cleaner, etc. If you have children or a spouse earning much less than you it will lower your taxable income as you are taxed as a family not an individual. Adults count as 1 point, the first 2 children as ½ point each and the third child and so on as 1 point. You then divide the total revenue of the family by the number of points you have, to know what your taxable income is. Unmarried couples (and not PACSed) must fill in a tax form each!
by Isabelle Want
You fill in a tax form one year after, meaning you declare your revenue of 2020 (Jan to Dec) in April-May 2021. So, if you have officially moved to France before July last year (2020), then you fill in your first French tax form in April-May 2021 on which you declare your revenue of 2020. If you moved to France after July, then you were not a French resident in 2020 (in France less than 6 months) and therefore, you will have to fill in your first French tax form in April-May 2022 for your revenue of 2021.
Since 01/01/2019, we are now taxed at source (monthly amount taken from our current account or percentage of salary) and the amount was determined by the tax paid in 2020 for year 2019. The form we fill in this year will determine if we have paid the right tax in 2020 and the new amount which will be taken monthly from 01/01/2022. If you paid too much, they will reimburse you or reduce your monthly payments, if not enough they will increase the monthly payments till the end of the year!
If you have moved to France in 2020, you will pay two years of tax: 2020 & 2021! You will pay a bill for 2020 at the end of August in one go and have another bill for 2021 which will be taken monthly from September to December (amount of 2020 tax bill divided by 4). Then from 2022, monthly amount (2020 tax divided by 12). You can fill in a form now to start paying those amounts monthly from now instead of September (form 2043) which you can download from the tax office web site. Only do it if you think you will pay tax. For your information, the tax threshold for 2020 for a couple was 27975 €.
Deadline to send or deposit your paper tax form is the 13th of May 2021. The online declaration deadline is the 18th of May 2021 for Departments 1 to 19 (Charente is 16), 25th of May 2021 for Departments 20 to 49 and 1st of June 2021 for Departments 50 and above (Deux Sevre is 79 and Vienne 86).
52 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
3. What forms:
Hopefully if they have not changed them again this year, these are the forms you might need:
2047: This is the pink form on which you enter your revenue from abroad and you then transfer all those revenues on the blue form called 2042.
2042: The blue form that everyone has to fill in.
2042C Pro: The one to fill in if you are self-employed or if you rent a gîte or chambre d’hôte.
2042C: This is the form you need to say you have an S1 form and avoid paying social charges on interest and to enter the amount of income taxed in the UK (Civil servant pension, Government pensions, rental income from UK- Box 8TK).
2042RICI: To declare tax credit like using a cleaner or gardener or doing ecological work on your main residence.
2044: If your rental income is more than to 15 000 € per year, that is the form to fill in.
3916: To declare your bank account abroad. Failure to do so could carry a fine of 1500 € per bank account not declared. All they want is the name and address of the bank and the account number.
The exchange rate for 2020 is 1.13 (that is the average of last year). Your local tax office can give you an exchange rate, but you don’t have to use it. Use it if it is lower than 1.13!!
If your pension has been directly transferred in euros to your French bank account, just add up all the figures.
4. What income:
Pensions (even if they are taxed in the UK like army, police, civil servant), salary, interest on savings (even ISA, which are not tax free in France), rental income, dividends, bonds, etc. Basically, anything that has been earning money or making money for you.
5. Double taxation:
There is a treaty between France and the UK meaning that you cannot be taxed twice.
To avoid being taxed twice, you must fill in this form: United Kingdom/France Double Taxation Convention (SI 2009 Number 226), which you can download from the internet.
However, you can only fill in this form once you have been taxed in France as you must put your French tax reference on the form. Indeed, once the form is filled in, you take it to the French tax office, they stamp it and either they send it to Paris, who send it to the UK or give it back to you to send yourself to HMRC (depends on the office). Then 6 months later, you get reimbursed the tax you paid in the UK since you arrived in France and stop being taxed at source in the UK.
Note that ex-civil servants, police and military are taxed in the UK for their pension related to that government job! But when they fill in the French tax form, they fill in that pension revenue on a special section which gives them a tax credit equivalent to what the tax would have been on it in France.
6. Avis d’imposition:
This is a very important document not to be lost! As it proves you are a French resident and it also proves your revenue. If you want to get some social help in France (CMU, CAF, RSA, etc), you must show them this document. Some ISA savings account (LEP) are only available if you can show this document to your bank as it is only available for people with low income. It is the bill of your income tax and you receive it in August.
This is the official web site of the French tax authorities. You can download tax forms, fill in your tax form online and also set up monthly direct debit for your taxe d’habitation and taxe fonciere. You can also adjust your income tax monthly payment from your personal account. Note that the monthly amount is determined by your income without the tax deduction so some of you probably should not have paid. Note that you can go online and change it if you think you should not be paying as much or nothing at all. This is often the case for people who have rental from UK or Civil servant pensions. Note that since 2019, everybody must fill in their income tax form online. You cannot do this if it is the first time you fill in a form.
Free help for filling the tax form for all my customers will be on the 6th of May all day in Ruffec (not lunch hours!!) and on the 4th of May all day again in Chasseneuil sur Bonnieure.
It is an obligation! So, if you live in France, you must fill in a French tax form!
Next month, when the new forms are available, I will explain how to fill them in and give you dates and places where I will be available for free help so do not panic yet!
And remember you can check out our web site www.bh-assurances.fr/en for all my previous articles (“practical information” on the English site).
Finally, don’t hesitate to contact me for any other information or quote on subject such as Inheritance law, Funeral cover, French Tax, car, house, professional, travel and top up health insurance, etc…
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 53
BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec Contact Isabelle Want: Tel: 05 45 31 01 61 Mob: 06 17 30 39 11 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Visit our website: www.bh-assurances.fr No Orias: 07004255
Does your tax planning stand up to today’s scrutiny?
There has never been more tax transparency than today. With the ‘Common Reporting Standard’ (CRS) global initiative now in full flow, tax offices across the world are keeping track of taxpayers’ offshore assets and accounts through automatic exchange of information, and are increasingly following up on discrepancies. It is more important than ever to ensure you are paying the right taxes, in the right place, at the right time.
The Common Reporting Standard came into effect in 2016, with the first exchange taking place in 2017 between 49 jurisdictions, including France and UK. Today, over 100 countries are co-operating; in 2019 alone, they shared details on 84 million offshore accounts covering total assets of €10 trillion.
The financial institutions obligated to report information each year include banks, custodians, certain investment entities and insurance companies, trusts and foundations. Besides basic contact details, country of tax residence and tax identification number, the focus is on financial assets owned outside the country of residence. This includes investment income (interest, dividends, income from certain insurance contracts, annuities etc.), account balances and gross proceeds from the sale of financial assets.
This increased global transparency enables local tax offices to easily verify whether taxpayers have accurately reported their worldwide income on their tax returns.
The French tax office is following up on undeclared foreign income. Remember, you must also include all inactive accounts when declaring non-French bank accounts and insurance policies each year,
by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks
even if you have not deposited any funds, earned any interest/gains or made withdrawals.
Penalties for non-compliance are more severe following France’s 2018 anti-fraud act.
In the UK, the UK government has introduced over 100 measures and 200 task forces targeting tax avoidance over the last decade and the CRS now plays a key part in HMRC’s strategy. Using its ‘Connect’ analysis programme, it cross-checks data received from abroad with its own (including details on salaries, bank accounts, loans, property, car ownership etc.).
The importance of getting it right
UK nationals who are tax resident in France and have assets or earn income in another country need to take care. You need to follow the French tax rules, the UK tax rules and the double tax treaty to make sure you are correctly declaring income and paying tax in the right place.
Cross-border taxation is complex, but there are tax planning arrangements available in France that can help you legitimately reduce your tax liabilities, particularly on investment capital. A locally-based adviser with cross-border expertise can help you enjoy favourable tax treatment while offering peace of mind that you are meeting your tax obligations, here and in the UK.
Summarised tax information is based upon our understanding of current laws and practices which may change. Individuals should seek personalised advice.
Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at www.blevinsfranks.com
Is your cross-border tax planning in order?
Over 100 countries now exchange tax information under the Common Reporting Standard. Whether you live in France or the UK, if you have nancial assets in another country your personal details are automatically shared with your local tax authorities – who compare it the data on your tax returns.
You need to take great care with your tax planning, making sure you correctly declare your overseas income and assets, and in the right country. Talk to the wealth management specialists at Blevins Franks for peace of mind and advice on tax-e cient, compliant arrangements.
54 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
INTERNATIONAL TAX ADVICE • INVESTMENTS • ESTATE PLANNING • PENSIONS 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 www.orias.fr). 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. Talk to the people who know 05 49 75 07 24 email@example.com 115-fr
by Amanda Johnson
What choices do I have with my frozen UK work pensions, now I am living in France?
Thisis a question often asked of me, by those who have opted to move to France and yet have not reached UK state pension age.
Being a French resident can provide different options in dealing with your private pensions than those available to those still in the United Kingdom.
One option would be to review your UK company pensions and find out whether you would benefit from a QROPS (Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme)?
These schemes do not benefit everybody, so it is vital to take advice only from a fully regulated company qualified to offer pension advice.
A QROPS, if appropriate for you, can provide benefits such as:
• An increased initial lump sum
• Greater control over how your pension pot is invested
• Removal of uncertainty regarding “underfunded schemes”
• The ability to leave the investment to your partner or dependents, in the event of death
Please remember however, that a scheme like this will have another layer of charges in comparison to your company pension, which is why a full evaluation, by a qualified financial adviser is required, to ascertain if it might be right for you.
Whether you want to register for our newsletter, attend one of our road shows or speak to me directly, please call or email me on the contacts below and I will be glad to help you. We do not charge for our financial planning reviews, reports or recommendations.
Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 or 06 73 27 25 43
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.spectrum-ifa.com/amanda-johnson
Ten years in, TransferWise is now Wise
The tech company has expanded beyond fixing money transfers. Wise - the world’s most international account - is replacing cross-border banking for its 10 million personal and business customers.
TransferWise is renaming to Wise. Originally launched in 2011 as a money transfer service for people, the company has expanded to build a cross-border payments network helping to make international banking cheaper, faster and more pleasant for its 10 million personal and business customers.
The company processes €5 billion in cross-border transactions every month, with customers saving themselves a total of approximately €1 billion a year compared to making the same transaction with their bank.
Customers can opt into the website in its new home: Wise.com. The final switchover for all customers to the Wise brand will take place in March 2021.
Amanda Johnson Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 email@example.com
About Wise Wise is a global technology company, building the best way to move money around the world. With the Wise account people and businesses can hold 55 currencies, move money between countries and spend money abroad. Huge companies and banks use Wise technology too; an entirely new cross-border payments network that will one day power money without borders for everyone, everywhere. However you use the platform, Wise is on a mission to make your life easier and save you money.
Co-founded by Taavet Hinrikus and Kristo Käärmann, Wise launched in 2011 under its original name TransferWise. It is one of the world’s fastest growing tech companies having raised over $1 billion in primary and secondary transactions from world leading investors.
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 55 TSG Insurance Services S.A.R.L. • Siège Social: 34 Bd des Italiens, 75009 Paris • R.C.S. Paris B 447 609 108 (2003B04384) « Société de Courtage d’assurances » « Intermédiaire en opération de Banque et Services de Paiement » Numéro d’immatriculation 07 025 332 – www.orias.fr « Conseiller en investissements financiers », référencé sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers » With Care, You Prosper
by Joanna Leggett
Each September I order winter fuel. A few weeks later the local woodsman arrives on his tractor towing the largest trailer laden with enough oak cut to fill my fireplace ready to be stored well in time for the first fires of autumn.
There’s something romantic about glowing embers, the crackle and smell of a good fire, cosying up beside a grand fireplace is something to relish. Coming back from walking the dogs on a crisp day it’s the best welcome home!
In our part of France homes come with simply spectacular fireplaces - some positively baronial. It’s wonderful to have the choice of an open fire in one room with a poêle (woodburner) glowing warmly in another grand fireplace - we really do have the best of lifestyles.
When it comes to spectacular fireplaces, we’ve selected three stunning properties currently on the market with amazing chimney breasts – definitely large enough to warm the cockles of your heart (although I’ve never been sure whence the expression came!)
The first is in a magnificent manor house in St Amant de Bonnieure (118338) not far from Mansle, the N10 and La Rochefoucauld. In the salon the simply vast fireplace is set to enchant while throughout the house old fireplaces, stone floors and walls, beams and parquet floors abound. In the main house there are currently two enormous bedrooms (the attic has room for two more) but there’s a second small house, a perfect gîte, where the hard work is already done. There’s also a barn, stable, workshops, courtyards, rare oven and bakery all set in a vast wooded plot of land topped off by an ancient cedar - €251,450.
Heading northwards (112062) this stunning XVIth century château is on the edge of the ancient, charming, historic village of Verteuil-sur-Charente. Beautifully and sympathetically renovated, the magnificently grand stone fireplace in the grand salon is the perfect spot for romantic soirées or luxuriant afternoons.
Outside buildings wrap around its beautiful entrance courtyard. There are views over fields to the historic fairy-tale village château. Offering the flexibility of rental income with two gîtes and equestrian facilities, this château really does have it all – there are six ensuite bedrooms and, naturally, a perfectly sited swimming pool - €1,085,000.
This charming large home (114181) is in Vasles. A former priory, it’s been transformed into the most comfortable home with exposed stone walls, feature beams and truly historic fireplaces – the one in the dining room is perfect for your own coat of arms! Not overlooked, this equestrian property has five bedrooms, an apartment, two gîtes, stables, tack room, arena, forest, meadows and its own church set within almost 10 acres of land - €392,200.
Fireplaces are the focal point of any reception room – when they’re grand your home becomes truly exceptional.
56 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021
Leggett is marketing
at Leggett Immobilier –you can view their full portfolio of properties
KEEP THE HOME FIRES BURNING!
for sale in France
Property LEGGETT IMMOBILIER LOCAL KNOWLEDGE YOU CAN TRUST +33 (0)5 53 56 62 54 - www.leggettfrance.com - firstname.lastname@example.org Buying or selling a property? Contact us now! Marigny €203,200 HAI Ref. 119796 - Attractive 3 bedroom house with pool, outbuildings and self-contained apartment. DPE E - agency fees to be paid by the seller Lezay €235,400 HAI Ref. 120220 - Beautiful 7 bedroom house with garden and above-ground swimming pool. DPE C - agency fees included: 8% TTC to be paid by the buyer Vasles €108,900 HAI Ref. 120337 - Tasteful, light and spacious 2 bedroom bungalow. Large workshop and gardens. DPE D - agency fees to be paid by the seller Vernoux-en-Gâtine €172,800 HAI Ref. 120621 - Spacious 4 bedroom renovated property on the edge of the village. DPE D - agency fees to be paid by the seller Chenay €72,000 HAI Ref. 120359 - Adorable 2 bedroom house with great outbuildings and over an acre of land. DPE Ongoing - agency fees to be paid by the seller Lezay €299,999 HAI Ref. 120571 - Delightful 4 bedroom stone cottage in a tranquil setting with pool, enormous barn and views. DPE C - agency fees included: 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer EXCLUSIVE Buying or Selling a property ? Our clients are ready to buy NOW Contact us for a FREE Valuation and Marketing Advice EXCLUSIVE
The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021 | 57 05 56 71 36 59 email@example.com www.beauxvillages.com INDEPENDENT SALES CONSULTANTS Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org WE’RE RECRUITING Beaux VillagesIMMOBILIER Join the BVI team! • Flexible working • Full accredited training • Excellent commission VAS1444 LARGEASSE 110 775€ Immaculate renovated house in centre of the village with garage and parking Virtual tour on our site Net price 105 000€ VSA1443 PARTHENAY 199 500€ Superbly renovated house in the Medieval quarter with attractive walled garden Net price 190 000€ Small colour Advert from 35,17€ per month
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58 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, April 2021