The Deux-Sèvres Monthly Magazine - December 2021 Issue

Page 1


English language magazine for the Deux-Sèvres and surrounding areas

ALPACAS ON THE FARM Meet Astrid, Holly, Blaze, Rohini, Ringo, Blossom, Pepper and Clove.

PLUS ...

Gardening Recipes More Incredible Women Writing Advice and Book Reviews

Issue 123, December 2021


oosh. Seems only yesterday that we were all wishing that 2021 would be a better year than 2020. Whether it was or was not, it is nearly over. Fingers crossed for 2022

This Month's Advertisers

This month, we have a very full "What's On" diary with all the Christmas events - great to see them all BUT do check before setting off as things can change at the last minute. We are also, sadly, saying goodbye to another stalwart of The DSM who has given 10 years to us all and feels the time is right to stop writing - who can blame him. The good news is that we have exciting news about some new contributors joining us next year. More on that soon. We'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has contributed, advertised or read our magazine this year. Whatever you are doing, have a wonderful Christmas. Stay safe

n Tony & Lyn



Contents Bulletin Board A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Our Furry Friends Take a Break Technology Home and Garden À La Carte Clubs and Associations La Vie En France On The Road Food and Drink Book Club Building and Renovation Business and Finance Health, Beauty and Fitness Property

4 10 12 14 17 18 25 26 28 35 38 45 48 54 55 58

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

112 European Emergency 113 Drugs and Alcohol

ABORDimmo Adrian Butterfield (Handyman) Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC Double Glazing) AKE Petits Travaux (Builder) Alcoholics Anonymous Amanda Johnson - The Spectrum IFA Group Andrew Longman (Plumbing & Heating) ARB French Property Asso En Route - Rescuing dogs Assurances Maucourt (GAN Parthenay) Beaux Villages Immobilier BH Assurances / Allianz - Isabelle Want Blevins Franks Financial Management BM Construction Café Pause, l'Absie Château de Saugé (Events, Tea Room, Accommodation) Chats de Champagne - Hotel for cats Cherry Picker Hire (Tony Moat) Chez Christie’s Tea Rooms Chris Bassett Construction Chris Parsons (Plumber/Heating Engineer) Clean Sweep Chimney Services Darren Lawrence EFS France – Home Security Company French Lessons for English Speakers Glendee Property Services Hallmark Electricité Harrison Hair (Mobile Hairdresser) Hiley Location digger hire and groundworks HMJ (Renovation service) H & R Building Services Irving Location - Digger Hire and Gravel deliveries Jeff’s Metalwork John Purchase - Mobile Mechanic KJ Painting and decorating La Deuxieme Chance (Decorative paint specialists) Le Café, Civray Leggett Immobilier LPV Technology (IT services) Magic Renovations (Michael Glover) Mark Sabestini - Renovation and Construction Michael Moore (Electrician) Michel Barateau (Cabinet maker) Mike Sweeney - Motorsport Engineering ML Computers Mr Fix It (Garden Maintenance) MV Services - Scaffolding Needa Hand Services (Grass cutting etc.) Netball : Les Étoiles de Clessé Pamela Irving (Holistic Therapist) Piano Lessons by Liam Maguire Poitiers Biard Airport RJC Pool Services Rob Berry (Plasterer) Robert Mann (Upholstery) Shabby Shutters - Shutter repair and painting Simon the Tiler Smart Moves - Removals & Storage Stephen Shaw Painter Steve Coupland (Plumbing and renovations) Steve Robin (Plumbing, heating, electrics) Strictly Roofing Sue Burgess (French Classes & Translation) Sunny Sky Cars Susan Myall (Admin Support) The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre The Fixer - Rick Denton The French House Satellite TV The Trading Post (International Food & Drink) Tim Électricien 79 Val Assist (Translation Services) Vienne Tree Services Zena Sabestini (Translation Services)

59 48 2 48 26 57 51 59 12 57 59 54 56 49 6 4 12 52 6 48 51 50 48 49 50 26 51 49 55 52 50 49 52 52 35 53 21 6 58 17 53 48 49 50 35 17 21 49 51 26 55 6 2 2 53 21 51 53 35 53 51 51 50 29 35 29 35 29 49 43 49 29 21 29

© 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: decembre 2021 - Tirage: 3600 exemplaires. Siret: 830 076 345 00016 ISSN: 2115-4848

dsm123-dec21 v25 Online

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 3

Bulletin Board Château de Saugé 2 Saugé 79400 Saivres

Chambre d'hôtes, Gites, Vintage Tea Room, Event Space, Trading Post

Wishing you a Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year from Donna & Paul Events 2021

Festive Afternoon Tea’s and Christmas Sunday Lunches Christmas Day & Boxing Day Lunch - limited tickets available.

January 2022 Events

The Vintage Tearoom will only be open for selected events in

January please check out our Facebook page

& Website for details.


Trading Post Shop open on request – please contact us

Email: Tel: 06 29 15 36 55 Siret: 84890415100015

LOCAL MARKETS Mondays......... Benet 85490 La Châtaigneraie (last Monday in month) 85120 Lencloître (1st Monday in month) 86140 Tuesdays......... Lezay 79120 Civray 86400 Coulonges-sur-l’Autize 79160 Thouars 79100 - and - Bressuire 79300 Vasles 79340 Wednesdays.... Parthenay 79200 - and - Celles-sur-Belle 79370 Ruffec 16700 Thursdays........ Sauzé-Vaussais 79190 - and - Niort 79000 La Mothe St Héray 79800 Gençay 86160 Fridays............... Thouars 79100 - and - Melle 79500 Secondigny 79130 (pm)-and-St Aubin le Cloud (pm) Civray 86400 (small food market) Antigny 85120 (1st and 3rd Fridays - pm) La Mothe Saint-Héray 79800 (Place Clémenceau) Saturdays........ Bressuire 79300 - and - Champdeniers 79220 Chef-Boutonne 79110 Airvault 79600 - and - Niort 79000 Saint Maixent-l’École 79400 Fontenay-le-Comte 85200 Ruffec 16700 Magné 79460 and Moncoutant 79320 Sundays............ Coulon 79510 - and - Neuville-de-Poitou 86170 Thénezay 79390 Saint-Varent 79330 Saint-Loup-Lamairé 79600 CHURCH NOTICES. ..

The Filling Station - Poitou-Charen denominations wh o meet for spirituates. Local Christians of all www.thefillingstatio or Calrorenewal and evangelism. lyn on 05 45 84 19 03. ALL SAINTS, VEND ÉE Puy de Serre. We month (+ Sunday sc ho ld tw o se rv of St. Marthe, Puy dehool), on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at ices each the Serre, at 11am. ww w.allsaintsvendee.fchurch r The English Speakin g Ch ur ch of the Va meets at the R.C. urch in Arçay everyllerdy of the Loire (ESCOVAL) 11am (just off theCh 3 Sunday of the m D759, Thouars to Lo onth at udun). Eglise Vie Nouvelle Bilingual (French En glish) weekly serv See www.vie-nou/ve Contice based in Civray act 05 49 87 49 04 The Chaplaincy of Ch normally holds Sund rist the Good Shepherd, Poitou-Ch ay services in Engli arentes, for current informati on: www.churchinfsh. Please see our website Christian Fellowship - Chef Boutonne Meeting each Sund Visit chef-boutonneay at 15h 30 .net or telephone 05 49 29 81 34

07 68 35 45 18 4 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

s, Religious and ay lid o H al n o ati N The Feast Days 2021... Sat 25 December 2022... Sat 1 January Sun 17 April Mon 18 April Sun 1 May Sun 8 May Thu 26 May Sun 5 June Mon 6 June Thu 14 July Mon 15 Aug Tue 1 November Fri 11 November

l) Christmas Day (Noë ur de l’an) New Year ’s Day (Jo ues) âq (P Easter Sunday âques) (P y da on M r ste Ea premier mai) Labour Day (Fête du ème mai) iti hu du te (Fê VE 1945 n) sio en sc (A y Ascension Da côte) te en (P ay nd Su hit W i de Pentecôte) Whit Monday (Lund tionale) na te (Fê y Bastille Da omption) ss (A y da Assumption int) sa us All Saints’ Day (Tormistice) (A y Da ce isti Arm source ww

it but e can get ltered w s a te ra is as accu celled or a ation here have not been can . rm fo in e h se T eck events you leave the hou PLEASE ch before


01-05/12 ONLINE AUCTION ASSOCIATION GALIA. AssociationGalia 03/12 DES ILLUMINATIONS DE NOËL COULONGES-SUR-L'AUTIZE 79160. Christmas illuminations and fireworks by the Mandalights Company. 18h30, Place du Château. 03-05/12 FOIRE DE NOËL MAILLEZAIS 85420. The magic of Christmas in a warm oriental atmosphere, among the stalls and tents in front of the Cathedral. Friday: 18h00 - 22h00. Saturday: 14h - 22h. Sunday: 10h30 to 19h. 04/12 CHRISTMAS AT THE PETITE FERME D'ALPACAS ARGENTONNAY 79150. Christmas on the farm. Illuminations in Santa's Alpacas Cave. 10€ (Also 8,11,15 and 22/12). 04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CHAMPDENIERS 79220. Artisans, creators, local producers at a quality market and Santa Claus will be present for carriage rides. 10h - 19h. 04/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINTE-NEOMAYE 79260. Christmas market. Catering on site (mulled wine, delicacies) Santa Claus will also be present 16h - 21h30. 04-05/12 LE VILLAGE DE NOËL LA CHAPELLE-SAINT-LAURENT 79430. Craft and farmers' market. Saturday evening Tartiflette (by reservation). Presence of Santa Claus on both days. Free. 10h - 18h. 04-05/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CERIZAY 79140. Craft and farmers' market. Free 17h - 20h (4th), 10h - 18h (5th). 04-05/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL ST-LOUPSUR-THOUET 79600. Sat: 12h to 23h. Sun: 10h to 19h. More than 100 artisans and traders. Local and regional crafts. Contact or 04-05/12 CREATORS' MARKET "PINK DAY" NIORT 79000. 86 stalls. Decorations, jewellery etc. Soft drinks and 2 food trucks outside. 10h - 19h. 05/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINT-GELAIS 79140. About 20 exhibitors expected around the theme of the 5 senses. Santa's carriage. Refreshment bar (mulled wine and pancakes). 10h - 18h. 05/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL FAYE-SUR-ARDIN 79160. Also free entertainment: make-up, bouncy castles and magician. 10h - 18h.

05/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL L'ABSIE 79240. Many exhibitors inside and out. Catering on site, refreshment bar and of course the arrival of Santa from 16h. Open 10h - 18h. 05/12 CONCERT ST HILAIRE DE VOUST 85120. Espace Beauchesne @ 15h30. First part: Violin duets,Ivane Daniau-Petitfils and Françoise Douvrain - classical, Irish & popular tunes Second part: Wind Band. Original compositions for wind bands and Film themes. 8€ for adults, school children free. Reservation 02 51 00 43 49 / 02 51 00 51 96 10/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL VASLES 79340. Artisans, Creators and local Producers. Games for the children 17h - 22h. 10-11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL NUEIL-LESAUBIERS 79250. Many exhibitors and catering on site. Fireworks will close this market on 12th around 18h30. 15h - 20h (10th) 11h - 19h (11th). 10-12/12 FOIRE DE NOËL MAILLEZAIS 85420. The magic of Christmas in a warm oriental atmosphere, among the stalls and tents in front of the Cathedral. Friday: 18h to 22h. Saturday: 14h to 22h Sunday: 10h30 19h. 11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL ANTIGNY 85120. Crafts, local products, children's entertainment and show at 16h. Visit of Santa Claus. Meals on site or to take away 11h to 19h. 11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOEL CHANVERRIE 85130. More than 50 exhibitors and many festivities planned: -Carriage ride with a donkey, Magic show, Visit of Santa Claus and gifts for children. Catering and bar on site. 14h to 23h. 11-12/12 LA MAGIE DE NOËL LA MOTHESAINT-HERAY 79800. Market and music throughout the weekend. 11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL COULONGES-SURL'AUTIZE 79160. Christmas market with some novelties. 16h to 21h. 11/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL LA CRECHE 79260. Christmas market 14h to 21h. 11-12/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL THOUARS 79100. Stroll through the streets of the city centre and find that gift idea. 12/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINTE-HERMINE 85210. Christmas market plus new activities for children 10h to 19h.

12/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINT-PARDOUXSOUTIERS 79310 Producers, artisans and creators 10h to 18h. 17-19/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL PARTHENAY 79200. Christmas market. 17-19/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CHANTONNAY 85110. Stroll and enjoy the magic of Christmas throughout the chalets and arcades 09h to 18h. 17-19/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL FONTENAY-LECOMTE 85200. A Lego exhibition, the arrival of Santa Claus on Saturday evening, the fireworks, the merry-go-round, waders, a fire show, wooden games, the carriage and lots of surprises! 18/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINT-HILAIREDES-LOGES 85240. Christmas market. 18/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL CHEF-BOUTONNE 79110. From 10h to 20h Centre Culturals. Mulled wine, mince pies, pain épice, animations, Santa and his Elf. Stall holders welcome, no fee. For more info call Amanda Holmes on 06 02 35 90 53. 18-19/12 FAITES DES LUMIÈRES SAINTMAIXENT-L'ECOLE 79400. On the theme of giants with Mo and the red ribbon and many other highlights. 18-19/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL ARGENTONNAY 79150. The Château de l'Ebaupinay hosts Christmas with decorations, hot drinks, festive atmosphere and various artisan stands. Free 10h to 21h30. 19/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL GENÇAY 86160. Open from 9h30. 19/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL MOUILLERON 85390. Christmas market, entertainment, carriage rides, presence of Santa Claus. 10h to 18h. 19/12 MARCHÉ DE NOËL SAINTE-PEXINE 85320. Christmas market and live Nativity Scene. 15h30.

Remember we do not have a January issue. If you know of any events coming up in February, please let us know so we can tell everyone else.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 5



Christmas chez Christie’s GREAT GIFTS GALORE Scarves, Puzzles, Tapestry, Jewellery, Heat Packs, Insulated Bottles, Candles, Mugs, Bamboo Socks, Chocolate, Fudge, B o o k s , N o te p a d s , P e n s , S to c k i n g F i l l e r s …

1000’s of HIGH QUALITY CARDS Christmas Packs & Singles + All Occasions


DELICIOUS HOME-BAKING Christmas Cake, Mince Pies, Truffles, Scones, Cupcakes, Brownies, Cookies, Muffins …


GENÇAY’S CHRISTMAS MARKET Sun19th Dec - We’ll be Open 9.30am non-stop !

Christie’s: Serving Warm Welcomes Since 2004 ! TUES - FRI: 10am - 12 noon : 3pm - 7pm

SAT: 10am - 12 noon : 3pm - 6pm

WWW.CHEZCHRISTIES.FR New Facebook Page: ‘ Chez Christie’s Gençay ’ GENÇAY (86) - behind the Mairie S ire t: 478 76 96 98 00 0 18

TRADITIONAL BRITISH COOKING Sat: Fontenay-le-Comte (marché), Vendée and at Saint-Jean-d’Angély (marché intérieur), Charente-Maritime Sun: Aulnay (marché), Charente-Maritime Open mornings WE DELIVER THROUGHOUT FRANCE

Tel: 05 46 01 54 65 SIRET : 484 920 285 00018


MR T’S FISH & CHIPS Regular venues at: • • • • • • •

Aulnay de Saintonge 17470 Beauvais Sur Matha 17490 St Jean D’Angély 17400 Sauzé-Vaussais Hope 79 79190 La Chaumière, La Chapelle 16140 Charroux 86250 Private catering

Tel: 06 02 22 44 74

Venues :

Fish and Chips British Indian Curry Kebab - Burgers

Saint Jouin de Marnes - outside the boulangerie - reverting to lunchtime for the winter period, so 12:00 midday - 14:30 every Tuesday Louin (Le Cafe de L’union) - 1st and 3rd Fridays of the month from 18:30 - 21:00 Bar Genneton - 2nd and 4th Fridays of the month from 18:30 - 21:00 AVAILABLE FOR PRIVATE FUNCTIONS

Tel: 06 23 25 48 36

SIRET : 537 606 972 00025

SIRET : 850 442 203 00012

Le CaféCivray Christmas orders due 10th Dec Full English Breakfast Pies & pasties Cakes & doughnuts Baking classes on Mondays 9am-4pm Tuesday-Friday

ing Craft mas t s i r r u o Ch ts on ge! Even ok pa y o b e Fac Civra Cafe @Le

24 rue du commerce 86400 Civray SIRET 820 301 299

6 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

International Day of .....

International Day of .....

... Christmas Jumper Day (10th December)

... International Animal Rights Day (10th December)

by Beryl Brennan

by Beryl Brennan


o you wear a Christmas jumper? What is a Christmas jumper? No, it’s not a snowshoe hare from the Arctic which can jump as high at 3 metres. It’s a sweater, usually knitted with a roll neck and featuring a Christmas or winterscene design and usually worn during the festive season. Back in the 1980s some TV presenters such as Gyles Brandreth began wearing a Christmas jumper; Val Doonican and Andy Williams (remember the crooners?!) started to wear them during their TV Christmas specials. However 10 or so years later the sweaters fell out of favour and were hidden away as something to be embarrassed about. 10 years after that they gained camp appeal and Amazon reported increased sales of 600% in 2011! In 2012 the Daily Telegraph described them as ‘the season’s must have’ and Topman shops sold 34 different designs. Having one particular day for everyone to wear their Christmas jumper was an initiative started in 2012 by Save the Children, dedicated to supporting children around the world desperately needing help and using the slogan ‘make the world better with a sweater’. The idea is that Christmas is all about magic for children and so funds are raised through sponsorship pledges per jumper worn by friends and colleagues in the workplace, in schools and by family at home. It’s not a set date but always celebrated on the Friday 2 weeks before Christmas Day. Many celebrities now wear a Christmas jumper and there are even Ugly Christmas Sweater Contests annually in the US. The idea has caught on so well that now it’s great fun to see the different designs and ideas created. You don’t even have to buy a Christmas jumper to take part; dig out an old sweater or one you never usually wear and jazz it up by adding Christmas motifs, sequins, small Christmas decorations. How about popping into a charity shop, they often have a Christmas jumper or two on sale. Or swap your jumper with a friend’s one. There are even Christmas jumpers for dogs and cats! Each year more people take part and it’s now caught on around the world. Get Together Association sometimes have a prize awarded to the most voted Christmas Jumper at their Christmas lunch. Whilst it’s fun to see everyone from grandparents to work colleagues wearing crazy festive jumpers on Christmas Jumper Day with maybe reindeer antlers bobbing about on heads and Christmas tree earrings , let’s not forget that the main focus of the day is to raise money for children in need around the world, to keep them nourished with food, acquire education, change their future. Donate through this weblink to celebrate Christmas Jumper Day.


n a more sombre note, the IARD was launched in 1998 and is held on this date every year to remember the animal victims of human tyranny in whatever form and to inform people that animals are sentient creatures that experience many of the feelings that we as humans do too. It’s to encourage kindness and respect due to all animals; the Universal Declaration of Animal Rights states that ‘animal rights are a logical progression from basic human rights’. For hundreds of years man has been killing and mistreating animals for personal gain so in 1993 two ladies from Sheffield, Angela Roberts and Lynn Williamson, founded the Uncaged charity which has been campaigning for improvement in animal welfare, eradication of deliberate cruelty and the killing of billions of animals every year. Their goal was to highlight all forms of violence against animals and this date – 10th December – was chosen because of coincides with Human Rights Day, when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948. Originally they campaigned for the expansion of the Declaration claiming that animals have the right not to suffer pain and die because of human activity and because animals can’t protect themselves from people. They campaigned against animal experiments, experiments of animal to human transplants (pig kidney to human transplant) and animal testing. Uncaged says ‘we operate on every level from grassroots protests to lobbying Parliament. We contribute to numerous Government consultation exercises on animal experimentation and give evidence to their enquiries’. Many people accept that animals feel pain and have feelings; one only has to watch the Sir David Attenborough documentaries on television to learn of animal family bonds, particularly in gorillas and elephants. So it’s important that people start thinking of animals as companions instead of property; abstain from all animal use including meat, leather, milk, silk; stop animal experiments. Animals are not inferior and do not live for the sole purpose of catering to the needs and wants of humans. Like some segments of the human race suffer sexism and racism, animals also suffer because they can’t defend themselves. Many people believe that ‘leisure pursuits’ should be banned including rodeo, greyhound racing, horseracing, circuses, dog fighting and using marine animals in displays. Candlelit vigils are held around the world by thousands of animal rights supporters to mark this special day and to call for the recognition of the rights of all sentient beings to life, liberty and enjoyment of the world. To read more about their work, click on this weblink.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 7


s holidays go this one has just been pure hard work. I suppose sooner or later we all have one of those but this one has been very special. Whilst the family youngsters have been rowing their particular boats as if nothing is happening the not-so-youngsters have been struggling. Health issues abound and there has been a mobilisation call-up of family members from all points of the American compass to come to the aid of the injured parties and all responders have subsequently been issued with helpful tasks. Survival is somehow assured. COP26 has been all about the health of our planet, and there are more than plenty of tasks to share out. Even for a large, widely spread family, such as ours, it is not possible to help with them all so we have decided to concentrate our efforts on the friendly Walrus. Whereas Walruses have been around somewhere or another for literally ages more recently they seem to have supplemented flipper power with hitching rides on yachts and nuclear submarines, and are getting used

to featuring in the media. Obviously they need their shuteye and seem as well adapted to eye resting as delegates who are working night and day at the (perhaps soon to be extinct) coal face to make their world greener. Icefloes are getting scarcer due to global warming so bedding down on the deck of a submarine is an adjustment they are prepared to accept. But seriously though, 'citizen scientists' are in demand in order to help the WWF and Brtish Antarctic Survey with their Walrus From Space research project, which does sound a little 'out there' in several ways, but hey, it's not counting sheep, it's counting the high resolution images of Atlantic walrus and walrus from the Laptev sea. Apparently little is known about the number of walrus that exist along the vast 25,000 sq km largely inaccessible Arctic coastline, and global warming is heating up their habitat with 13% or so of the summer sea ice disappearing every decade. Satellite images provide the eyes in the sky so that this habitat can be 'scoured', and earthbound 'citizen scientists' are needed to help with scrutinising the headcount so that the speed of the effects of global warming on the poor old walrus can be measured. So enough of "blah blah blah". Let us lend our energies to do what we can for the walrus and all threatened species, and I leave you with a happy view of the Walrus Synchronised Swimming Team rehearsing for their next performance. Best wishes for the holidays


by Sally Cox


e are very happy to say that Keynotes choir now has a large, light, comfortable space to practice in. We meet every Thursday afternoon at 14h30 in the Salle des Fêtes, 5 rue de la Mairie, 79240 Scillé. We are pleased to have found such a comfortable area, where we can practice in a safe environment. Rehearsals carry on apace for our Christmas concerts which will be held as follows :

December 11th – 20.00 Salle des Fêtes, 5 rue de la Mairie, 79240 Scillé - mulled wine and mince pies following the performance. Entrance free December 17th – 19.00 Château de Saugé, 79400 N.B. The Chateau concerts are only for guests who will be eating the Christmas menu at the Chateau.

December 4th – 15.00 Outside the Café Cour Du Miracle, 85120 Vouvant**

On a separate note Reaction Theatre activity is likely to be restarting in the spring - anyone interested in being involved please contact us on for more details.

December 5th - 9 to 12.30 around the market in Verruyes, 79310**

The Creative Writing group is looking for more members to allow them to set up. Please contact for more information.

December 10th – 20.00 Château de Saugé, 2 Sauge, Saivres, 79400

** Please check on our website and Facebook page for timings for these events, which may change.

For more information visit or find us on Facebook

8 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

England condemned his decision to marry the American divorcée Wallis Warfield Simpson. He gave a radio address in which he explained, “I have found it impossible to carry on the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge the duties of king, as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love”. December 12th 1901 Italian Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving detractors who told him that the curvature of the earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less. The message–simply the Morse-code signal for the letter “s”–travelled more than 2,000 miles from Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada. December 14th 1912 Norwegian Roald Amundsen becomes the first explorer to reach the South Pole, beating his British rival Robert Falcon Scott. A storm later trapped Scott and the two surviving members of his expedition in their tent only 11 miles from their base camp. Scott’s frozen body was found later that year. December 15th 1944 Captain Glen Miller boards a small U.S. Air Force plane in bad weather and disappears somewhere over the English Channel. Although frightened of flying he was en route to France for a congratulatory performance for the American troops that had recently helped to liberate Paris. The wreckage of Miller’s plane was never found and his official military status remains Missing in Action.

December December 1st 1955 In Montgomery Alabama, Rosa Parks refuses to vacate a seat in the” coloured “section at the back of bus in favour of a white passenger as the "white" section was filled. This was a violation of the city’s racial segregation laws. Parks’ refusal was spontaneous but she had been privy to discussions by local civil rights leaders who had been planning a challenge to Montgomery’s racist bus laws for several months. December 2nd 1804 In Notre Dame Cathedral, Napoleon Bonaparte is crowned Napoleon I. He was the first Frenchman to hold the title of emperor in a thousand years. Pope Pius VII handed Napoleon the crown that the 35-year-old conqueror of Europe placed on his own head. December 3rd 1967 53-year-old Louis Washkansky receives the first human heart transplant in Cape Town, South Africa. Surgeon Christiaan Barnard performed the revolutionary medical operation. The South African grocer dying from chronic heart disease, received the transplant from Denise Darvall, a 25-year-old woman who was fatally injured in a car accident. December 7th 1941 At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbour in a ferocious assault. Five battleships, three destroyers, and seven other ships were sunk or severely damaged, and more than 200 aircraft were destroyed. A total of 2,400 Americans were killed and 1,200 were wounded. Japan’s losses were some 30 planes, five midget submarines, and fewer than 100 men. December 11th 1936 After ruling for less than one year, Edward VIII becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne. He chose to abdicate after the British government, public, and the Church of

December 16th 1773 In Boston Harbour, USA, a group of Massachusetts colonists disguised as Mohawk Indians board three British tea ships and dump 342 chests of tea into the water. The midnight raid, popularly known as the “Boston Tea Party,” was in protest of the British Parliament’s Tea Act of 1773, a bill designed to save the faltering East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. December 17th 1903 Near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur Wright make the first successful flight in history of a self-propelled, heavier-than-air aircraft. Orville piloted the gasolinepowered, propeller-driven biplane, which stayed aloft for 12 seconds and covered 120 feet on its inaugural flight. December 18th 1916 The Battle of Verdun, the longest engagement of World War I, ends on this day after ten months. The massive loss of life at Verdun—143,000 German dead out of 337,000 casualties, to France’s 162,440 out of 377,231—would come to symbolize, more than that of any other battle, the bloody nature of trench warfare on the Western Front. December 28th, 1895 The world’s first commercial movie screening takes place at the Grand Cafe in Paris. The film was made by Louis and Auguste Lumiere, two French brothers who developed a camera-projector called the Cinematographe. Their invention had been shown to the public in March 1895, but on this evening the entrepreneurial siblings screened a series of short scenes from everyday French life and charged admission for the first time. December 29th, 1170 Archbishop Thomas Becket is brutally murdered in Canterbury Cathedral by four knights of King Henry II of England, apparently on the orders of the king.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 9

A-Z of the Communes in the Deux-Sèvres Scillé

by Sue Burgess

All photographs by Sue Burgess

Sunset over Scillé


t the western edge of the Gâtine, to the North of Coulonges sur l’Autize, the commune of Scillé stretches over an area of 1102 hectares and overlooks the département of the Vendée.

actually cross Scillé but goes past it just to the North), following roughly what is now the L’Absie – le Beugnon road, and then went through Bourgneuf towards Chantemerle and Saint-Pierre-Du-Chemin

The highest point of the commune is to be found at la Cantine, at 256 m above sea-level.

It seems that the road from Saintes to Angers went around the southern side of the hill of la Cantine, perhaps in order to avoid the hills and slopes. Traces of the road are found at the crossroads of the road of les Fougères and la Crétinière. The Roman road followed la route de la Crétinière for several hundred metres and then went towards le Petit Paris then la Foye, parallel to the road to l’Absie. Because of the new Roman road, the forest was exploited, and clearings were made and people came to live there. “La Foye” comes from the Latin word “fagus” meaning beech tree.

The area of the commune is limited by two streams. The Saumort, also called «la rivière de La bourse» to the north and to the east, marks the boundary with Vernoux-en-Gâtine over by Les Jinchères. The Saumort flows into the Autize at Ardin. To the west there is the stream of la Crétinière which becomes la Réorthière and finally La Fougère and which separates the communes of Scillé and le Busseau. To the north-east is Vernoux-en-Gâtine, l’Absie is in the north, to the west Le Busseau, and to the south, La Chapelle Thireuil. A legend says that by sitting on a huge stone in the bed of the Saumort, the four mayors of Vernoux, le Beugnon, la Chapelle Thireuil and Scillé could play cards together whilst still remaining in their own commune. The tribes who settled in Poitou were called Pictons. They were brave, fighters and very superstitious. They loved the sun and the moon and worshipped the hills, springs, rivers and trees . In the Gâtine, some Gallic villages have left traces of these superstitions in their names. Vernoux from «verno», in Latin «dawn» and still found in vergne; le breuil from “bois (wood). One name in particular attracts our attention - that of the hamlet of la Folie. There are 27 hamlets called La Folie in Deux-Sèvres. They are probably places where pagan rites and ceremonies were performed. Perhaps at the winter solstice, the druids picked mistletoe from the large oak trees in the forest. In Scillé, the hamlet of La Folie, on the top of the hill, is exposed to the rising sun and makes us think about those far away times. The map of the Deux-Sèvres shows the Roman roads that crossed the area. Two roads ran quite close to Scillé. The road from Périgueux to Nantes through Rom (which doesn’t 10 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Scillé was founded during the Gallo-roman period. It is likely that the domain was given to a senior official from the army or administration. A man called SCILLIACUS or SCILIACUS or perhaps SILIUS or CILLIUS would probably have been given a domain near the Roman road in an area where water from the springs was plentiful all year round. In the field opposite the entrance to the Cour du Prieuré (courtyard of the priory), lots of stones have been brought to light during agricultural labouring and there could well have been a building here. The inhabitants were given the charge of surveying the traffic going along the Saintes-Angers road. The lieu-dit : les plis, is a local deformation of PLESSIS which originally described a fortress made of interlaced spiny branches. Gold in Scillé. Legend or truth ? In the fields of Gouffre, there was, a very long time ago, a hole which was so deep it was called « Le Gouffre ». (the abyss). Local legends say that one day a farmer and his plough and animals fell into it and disappeared forever into the dark waters. The reality is different. Research around the area has shown that there was probably a gold mine there about 2000 years ago. Although the seam was not very rich and there was only a small quantity of gold in the rocks.

The history of Scillé could have stopped there. But in 312, the Emperor Constantin allowed Christians to practice their religion freely. Hilaire, Bishop of Poitiers about 350, is said to be the father of the Church in Poitou. At Scillé, the church is dedicated to Saint-Hilaire and two saints are worshipped there Sainte Radegonde and Sainte Catherine. A chapel dedicated to Saint-Hilaire and a priory were built in Scillé. The chapel of Saint-Hilaire of SILLET depended on the Archpriest of Ardin and was probably founded in the V Century. Scillé has around 20 lieux-dits (hamlets) on the commune including la Bourse, la Cantine, la Cayenne, les Chantières, les Champs, la Crétimère, les Fossés, la Fouctière, les Fougères, les Landes, la Loubrière, la Maison Neuve, la Mariettière, le Moulin du Chemin, la Noue, le Temps, Saint Marc, la Vazonnière, la Verdonnière and la Volette. In 1793, the commune was known as Seillé. On the 28th February 2010, Scillé suffered from the winds of the storm Xynthia. It was at Scillé that the strongest gusts of wnd were recorded inland on the plains, with gusts recorded at 161 km/hour. Amongst the economic activities present on the commune we find the production of Christmas trees, a poultry slaughterhouse, a public works enterprise and machinery design workshops. Most of the economic activity of the commune is agricultural and animal breeding. Important buildings on the commune • Saint-Hilaire Church built in the V and VI centuries. • La Verdonnière chateau ;A private property which is not open for visits. Dominating the Gatine landscapes, the château was built or rebuilt in 1619, according to an inscription in the stonework. It was owend by M de la Verdonnière in 1660, and then by René Tutault in 1667. It then passed through the Garat de Nedde and the SaintPriest families before coming into the family of its current owners. There is a large defensive wall with two round towers with tile roofs and a porch. • Remains of châteaus at Saint-Marc and la Touche-Paris . If you follow the marked walking circuit “Chemins Creux et Fermes Fortifiées” which is a 12km walk starting at the church in Scillé, you will come across the sites of saint Marc and La Touche Paris. The domain of Sant Marc was surrounded by a wall with four towers. Only one tower remains today. The farm of the chateau still remains. • At la ToucheParis a door surmounted by a triangular fronton dates from 1609 and a motto in Latin can be made out. There is a chapel which was used by the Priest l’Abbé Aubin who was a dissenter after the Revolution. • La Fontaine de la Bourse – the spring at la Bourse, the communal spring and wash-house (on private land).

A voir / Must see Saint Hilaire Church A priory founded, on the site of an earlier chapel, at the end of the X Century was joined to the north side of the church. The priory gardens were on the east and south of the church. A drawing dating from 1859 shows that the priory covered a third of the facade and had a long lean-to (préau) along the north wall of the church which started at Saint Catherine’s side chapel. There were wooden posts and stone pillars which held up a roof with wooden beams. Until the Revolution, the priest was nominated by the Abbey of Bourgueil. After the Revolution the priest of Scillé was a “dissenter” that is he had refused the Concordat of 1801. He died in 1826 and, until his death, ran masses from the chapel at le Logis de la Touche-Paris as part of what was known as “la Petite Eglise”. The official life of the church at Scillé was taken care of by the priests of neighbouring parishes from about 1817. On the 29th June 1825, a Royal Ordonnance separated the church of Scillé from that of Le Busseau (whose priory like that of Scillé had depended on Bourgeuil). A priest lived in Scillé from 1840 onwards. From the first church, only the base of the tower remains. The doorway which gives access to the middle of the nave probably dates from the XV Century. On the East side wall, beginnings of vaults and large arches opening onto the side chapels correspond to what the church used to be like. When the tower was rebuilt in 1994 Romanesque remains were found and these have been placed in the walls on either side of the entrance. After the 100 Years War and the Wars of Religion when the church was mostly destroyed by the protestants of the lord of Puy-Chenin, the semi-circular apse was replaced by a straight apse with a large Gothic bay. The wooden beams were replaced. The western façade is taken up for a third of its length by a house at the place where the old priory used to be.

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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 11

Our Furry Friends

Asso En Route Giving rescue dogs their best lives W ell ok, that may be a slight exaggeration, but our aim is to get every abandoned dog into a warm, soft bed with someone who will love them. That can be the hardest, most emotional, time sapping journey, but nothing beats the feeling of seeing a dog blossom in a loving home that we’ve helped to find. In recent months especially, we’ve dealt with a lot of situations where a dog owner can no longer care for their much loved companion. You may have seen our appeal for Loola in last month’s edition. She was living home alone with family friends feeding her once a day but with very little human contact following the death of her owner. Ann had seen Loola’s appeal and was very keen to meet her. At that point we only had the information provided by the previous family, so didn’t know how accurate it was. On meeting, she was initially a little growly and unsure, but quickly relaxed and expressed her acceptance by rolling over for a belly rub.

12 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

We took her for a little walk where it became obvious Loola was exactly as described, the two bonded, and Ann was happy to take Loola home on a trial where she has settled in to her new life as if she’s always been there. Rather than spending almost twenty four hours a day alone, Loola now has her very own person, doggy playdates and as much love as she wants. Not every situation is as smooth as finding Loola her best life, but with your help we can help more dogs. Fostering enables us to learn so much about them and we always need foster families to move a dog out of the cold and in to a warm bed. If you’re interested in learning more, whether you’re available all of the time or only for short periods, please get in touch via email in the first instance at NB We’re especially keen to hear from you if you’re interested and have a cat free home.

Hope Association Charity Shops - Helping animals in need Please check the website for shop opening hours as they are subject to change and/or temporary closure due to Covid-19 restrictions.

Hope 16 Confolens

Hope 79 Sauzé-Vaussais

Hope 87 Eymoutiers

51 route de Confolens La Tulette, 16500 Ansac-sur-Vienne

2 Route de Vauthion 79190 Sauzé-Vaussais

2 rue de la Vieille Tour 87120 Eymoutiers




N RNA W792002789


Siret n° 508 517 455 000 12

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

05 49 29 68 22 ARK 79 Animal Charity shop


B O U T I Q U E CA R I TAT I V E Open every Tuesday 10am - 4pm and the last Saturday of the month 10am - 2pm email : (in English or French) Chemin des Perchées, 85200 Fontenay le Comte SIRET : 508 517 455 000 12

Books Bric-A-Brac Clothes Haberdashery Toys English food Cafe, plus more. email : (in English or French) Chemin des Perchées, 85200 Fontenay le Comte SIRET : 508 517 455 000 12

Association : W792005754

association n° W792005745


Luna is a fabulous young and leggy Anglo X who adores people and other dogs. She's a beautifully natured, confident three year old who would love another young dog to play with. She's currently in foster in dept 79 for anyone who would like to meet her. If you'd like more information, please contact us at Association En Route.

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

Visit the website:

This lovely boy is 6 months old and has recovered the vision in his injured eye following treatment. What a poor little baby he was on arrival, but just look at him now with his beautiful soft, fluffy coat. Gentle and affectionate, he loves cuddles and purrs a lot! Domino is looking for a loving home and gets on well with other cats. He is sterilised, vaccinated, id-tagged and tested neg for FIV/ FeLV. Chats de Chatillon Cat Refuge & Pension Email : Phone : 06 85 63 55 94 Website :

Association Galia Fundraising “Christmas Cracker of an Auction” online from 6pm Wednesday 1st December ending at 6pm on Sunday 5th December. Only being held on the Facebook page for refuge Galia. There will be around 30 lots to bid on from a 5 foot wooden bird table on its stand to a gold and topaz pendant. A 70cm long cuddly polar bear to an aperitif planchette. Something for everyone and ideal for unique Christmas presents. Simply like and follow the Facebook page ready to join in the fun. Large items to be collected from the refuge, smaller items may be posted at additional cost.

8 Rue d'Aunis 79120 Sainte-Soline

Charity Shop

We have an online auction to raise funds running from 1st December 18h00 until 5th December 18h00. Please see our Facebook page for details.


Hi. I'm SOLIA a playful pointer of 4 months and 8 kilos. Found and never claimed I am fostered in MAULEON 79. I am looking for my family for life who will give love, education and the activity my breed needs and of course an enclosed garden I am microchipped, vaccinated (incl rabies) with passport. Neutering is included in the adoption fee (280 euros). If you think you can help, please contact ORFEE.


Trixie and Lepa, two beautiful black labs, one male one female, about 8 years old, they are not siblings but have been together for a while . Super cool to walk, we really would like to find them a home together.

Pluton Pluton is ready for adoption. He is a sweet natured young cat and very sociable. Please contact us if interested at ...

Association W793001884


Trixie and Lepa

Come and visit him, and all our other cats, on Wednesdays 11am - 4pm

Le Grand Beaupuits, 79200, Saint-Germain-de-Longue-Chaume Association number W793001884. Email: The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 13

Take a Break DSM Easy Crossword (with thanks to Rob Berry) 19. Cheddar, brie etc. (6) 20. A painful swelling on the first point of the big toe (6) Clues DOWN 2. The full quantity or extent (6) 3. Freedom from doubt, belief in yourself and abilities (4-9) 5. A member of the Goons, a comedian (5-8) 6. A building where young people are educated (6) 7. Fearless cartoon characters (11) 13. Coming next after the third (6) 14. A public building for gambling (6)

DSM Toughie Crossword (with thanks to Mike Morris) #





7 #


















































# #



















22 #




21 #


14 #

24 #










# # #





The letters round the outside of the completed grid spell out the name of a popular Xmas song

Clues Across 7. Adolescent to cover sport turning up and is in the soup? Quite the opposite ........ (6) 9. .......two of which reflect the fortunes of the batsman? (2, 3, 3 ) 10. Piece on love is the last word, in short? (4) 11. Bizarrely, I was a hater of a selfservice laundry? (10) 12. Steak he cut, I bit; turned out to be the most remarkaable? (4, 3, 7) 15. Plant the seed of an idea in hunger march? (4) 16. All together now! Voice disapproval for kicking off pair of tights? (5) 17. Stealing a car, for example, accruing acronym charge? (4) 19. Reassessment of clap poses a last apocryphal responsibility for operational nurse? (2, 4, 1,7) 20. Ideally there is this twixt cup and lip? (5, 1, 4) 23. Originally everybody loved listening avidly to jazz singer. (4) 24. Man is hit roughly for being concerned with strip? (8) 25. Extraordinary kind of EU deregulation put together for lover of Gilgamesh? (6)


How many words of three or more letters can you make from the letters in our square? There is one word of nine letters. If you want to make it harder, only allow words that contain the centre letter. We estimate about 250 words are possible. 0 - 60 Not bad 61 - 120 Quite good

121 - 180 Very good 181 + Expert

14 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Clues Down 1. Be more courageous; expose British greeting Roman? (8) 2. Forecast chart upset Ayres maybe, supporting that lady following our group and total beginners? (7, 3) 3. Political take-over for politically incorrect Japanese? (4) 4. Displaces antis, only to be reincarnated as a follower of the devil? (6, 8) 5. Axe essential to behead zealot. (4) 6. Show disapproval in teachers’ group wearing no clothes? (6) 8. I might own a cats’ exchange; but that would be an acceptance of the unbelievable? (3, 4, 2, 5) 13. Legendary cricketer dropping tail-ender for former South African leader. (5) 14. Initially using novices to investigate lawbreaking was extremely silly, keeping impatience in that time before going on the slippery slope? (5, 2, 3) 18. Look out! That’s what a strong grip can do in the kitchen? (4, 4) 19. Belief that innovative heist can garner a thousand? (6) 21. I repeat; Please choose boxes. (4) 22. Will practise on idiots, but in the end you see through me? (4)


Solutions on P34

Clues ACROSS 1. Any device that receives a signal or stimulus and responds to it. (6) 4. Evaluate or estimate something (6) 8. European country (5) 9. In a vertical position (7) 10. A series of mental images and emotions occuring during sleep (5) 11. Type of penguin (7) 12. Form of mental disorder (9) 15. A person who accumulates things and hides them away for future use (7) 16. Free from dirt or impurities (5) 17. A small explosive bomb thrown by hand (7) 18. Once more! (5)



What connects the following ... 1. 2. 3. 4.

a. Django b. The c. Frou d. Duran a. Splash b. Inferno c. Philadelphia d. Big a. Eva, can I see bees in a cave? b. Repaper c. Never odd or even d. Civic a. Post b. Cricket c. Penalty d. Pandora's

7 2 1 4 9

6 3 1 5 3 7 6 8 4 2


7 2 2 7 6 1 3 4 6 1 5

9 4 5 1 6

Happy Noel






















The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 15

Solutions on P34


16 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Solutions on P34

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE Can you find the TEN differences between these two images?


Satellite TV and Internet ‘D

ing dong merrily on high, it’s time for satellite info, ding dong thingy thingy thingy…’ that’s all I’ve got I’m afraid. Season's greeting to all. Xmas already eh? I still can’t believe that we’re almost at the end of another year. By the time you read this we’ll be well into December and looking forward to all those resolutions we have no chance of keeping. Mine is to shower more often, but the way I look at it, I’m saving water. So, if you’re looking to send a gift my way this Christmas, something strong smelling would be a good place to start. However, do not send Grandma after eating sprouts. Not again.

by Stuart Wallace

In case you didn’t know, every Sky Q remote has a secret built-in loudspeaker. So, if you lose your remote down the back of the sofa, the speaker can be turned on to help you locate it. To activate the function, you need to press and hold the 'Q' button on your Sky Q set top box for a few seconds. The remote will then beep for around 30 seconds. Nifty eh? As always, please feel free to get in touch if you would like any further information or would like to discuss your requirements. Contact details can be found on the advert. Finally, thank you for reading to the end. Because you did, I’d like to wish you all a very merry Christmas and best wishes for the New Year. See you in January!

One resolution I will keep, is to ensure that we never forget that a Freesat box is not the same as a Freeview box. For UK TV reception here in France, you do not want Freeview. Freeview is a terrestrial service. We deal in satellite reception. French TV. Don’t forget that if your internet is fast enough, you can get French TV via your Orange Livebox and an Orange TV decoder. It connects via WiFi as well so no wires to worry about. Other suppliers like SFR etc offer similar services.

Stuart runs The French House Satellite TV Other contact details in his advert in the Buildings & Renovations section of the magazine

In case you missed it, and I know I did, Freesat has added a channel called That’s TV Gold to it’s line up. Found at position 178, the channel features ‘comedy’ from yesteryear with the likes of Tommy Cooper, Kenny Everett, Richard Briers and Mike Yarwood. Basically, anyone who is now dead. And Mike Yarwood (no, me neither). It’s a well known fact that nothing looks better on a large screen 4K TV than something filmed in the 1970s. If fitting your own satellite dish, one thing to remember is that it’s not only important to aim it in the right direction, but to not overdo the elevation (how far back it tilts). I’m called to many properties where the owner has had a go but has aimed the dish high into the sky as, well, the satellites are up in space. Whilst this is true to a point, they are around 36,000Km away over the equator and not above our heads. As such, if looking for Astra 2 for UK TV, your satellite dish elevation is going to be around 30°, give or take. For French TV on Astra 1, it’ll be a little more, maybe around 35°. These are just two examples of course but in general, you’ll rarely need to go much further. This does all of course assume that your mounting bracket for the dish is level/straight. If it isn’t, you’ll need to adjust the elevation accordingly. Don’t forget that if you have rubbish broadband and satellite internet isn’t your thing, maybe a 4G system might be suitable? Less obtrusive than a satellite dish and offering speeds just as good in many circumstances, 4G is a viable alternative. With the gradual rollout of 5G, speeds should get even better over time. If you plan to have a Sky Q system in France, then remember that you’ll not only need a wideband LNB to use the Sky Q box properly, but also a VPN if you want to access ‘catch up’ services and use box-office features. I don’t install VPNs but can certainly point you in the right direction should you require one to be installed. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 17

Home and Garden

Love your


by Greenfingers


lthough the weather hasn’t allowed much time just lately to be working outside, the hedges have all been cut and they look fabulous! Nothing can make me feel better than a hedge or lawn well cut and finished……it makes everything in the garden look so much better and the land is defined so neatly. I’ve found a couple who have made such a difference. I met them before we had the lockdowns with Covid and they cut the hedges for the first time. I’m not as tall as I used to be, so hedge cutting would have meant me precariously poised up the ladder with hedge trimmer in tow……..not a good thought! As the hedges are quite dense and tall it’s too big a job for me to do on my own now. This pair came to the rescue and now have a job for life! I’ve begun the under-planting of the trees with spring bulbs and violas and have finally sown some seeds and taken cuttings which are nestling in the greenhouse. Wonderful to have one furnished with electricity, so the travelling kettle and CD player have found a permanent home inside! The Amistad salvia is, amazingly still flowering abundantly and has become an enormous plant…so copious cuttings from it are being taken. It’s not reliably hardy, so it’s an insurance policy against losing it in a sudden frost. I’m awaiting a delivery of other bulbs, directly from Holland, from a company that has a huge and different selection which I can’t obtain locally, so that will be a joy when they arrive, to get on with more planting. Cutting back the campsis vine has been a bit laborious, especially as a bramble had invaded behind it which I only discovered by getting a handful of it…a prickly surprise! Still the digging out and the cutting back have been good cardiac exercise and it’s good for the soul! I’m still undecided about where to site the pond in the back garden—it has quite a slope to it so I expect it’ll be at the top or the bottom eventually. I’m looking forward to that as a project and to introducing some new species into the garden. The medlar is still in a pot and I need to plant that out soon! It has

such beautiful blossom and quite unusual looking fruits. I would also like to buy a small variety apple tree to complete the ‘orchard’. The variegated hedychiums haven’t flowered well this year due to lack of water, but the foliage is spectacular even now. The foliage on the others has begun to die back and I’m trimming it off when it starts to look really ragged. They are such large plants now, I’ll be splitting them again in the spring. More plants for free! My friend and I are still walking during the week and on the weekend. As we go along, we see all sorts of wild life and we’ve noticed that it has been a marvellous year for wild cyclamen……. they are everywhere that we walk, large clumps, small clumps… and the colours are a delight ranging from white through to purple. We can see through the hedges to fields beyond, all sprinkled with these welcome, cheery little plants. It’s made the walking quite special and we get a positive feeling from that. It’s not too late for us all to do something which will help plants like these and so many others, to survive. I too have cyclamen growing in the garden which I naturalised a few years ago and their natural propagation process is fascinating. The flower dies and the seed, like a small, hard nut, stays on the end of the stem. The stem then begins to spiral down towards the earth until it makes contact, and the seed is planted automatically! Isn’t nature wonderful?

Now is the time to:


There are several jobs and activities which continue from last month; the garden and plants are gradually preparing themselves for dormancy; so if there is some repetition I apologise…….but if you haven’t had time yet to start on the winding down jobs you’ve still got time. • Although our winters are usually milder than those in the UK, it is as well to check that structures in the garden are safe and secure…….the winds can be quite fierce during this season and after experiencing a greenhouse which blew away completely after a windy winter storm, I’m always keen to make sure that everything is tied in, tied down or tied up!……..I was collecting greenhouse panels from around the neighbourhood for several weeks after that escapade! • Check too that fence panels are secure as much as is possible. It’s a good time to carry out any necessary repairs and also to repaint the panels with some wood preserving paint. Check that climbing plants are properly tethered and attached to supports. Make sure that tree ties are not biting into the bark, relax them a bit if they are. • Keep a supply of fleece to hand in case frost or snow are forecast and investing in a small greenhouse heater or even a hurricane lamp is helpful in keeping cuttings and seedlings warm and frost free. • Avoid walking on wet or frozen soil as this can lead to compaction. Walking on frozen grass can damage it badly too. • Deciduous hedges such as beech or hornbeam can be trimmed or renovated during the next few months. • Lemon trees need a night-time temperature of around 10°C and will benefit from a citrus fertiliser at this time of year.

18 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

No more the scarlet maples flash and burn, their beacon fires from hilltop and from plain; The meadow grasses and the woodland fern, in the bleak woods lie withered once again. The trees stand bare, and bare each stony scar upon the cliffs; half frozen glide the rills; The steel blue river like a scimitar lies cold and curved between the dusky hills. Over the upland farm I take my walk, and miss the flaunting flocks of golden rod; Each autumn flower a dry and leafless stalk, each mossy field a track of frozen sod. I hear no more the robin’s summer song through the grey network of the wintry woods; Only the cawing crows that all day long clamour about the wintry solitudes; Come once again, O southern wind, --once more come with thy wet wings flapping at my pane; Ere snow-drifts pile their mounds about my door, one parting dream of summer bring again. Christopher Pearce Cranch 1813-1892 • Cut back the foliage of Hellebores in order to see the emerging flowers more easily. Hellebores can suffer from Leaf Spot disease, which is easy to recognise from the brown spots which appear on the leaves. The ‘spots’ can become holes and make the plants look very ragged. If you can see the spots on the leaves, remove all the affected ones as soon as possible. Burn the leaves, do not include them in the compost heap. Mulch around the plants to keep the leaves clean. • Prune free standing apple and pear trees, don’t prune those that are trained against a wall. • Prune acers and birches before Christmas to avoid sap bleeding taking place in the spring. Side shoots of wisteria can be cut back to two or three buds. • Grape vines can be hard pruned back now, cutting the vine right back almost to the base. If pruning is left until later, there is a tendency for the vine to bleed sap which will

weaken the plant generally and affect fruit production next year. Side shoots can be pruned back to two buds, this will encourage good fruit formation next year. Many vines grown in gardens, produce very small bunches of grapes. The hard pruning encourages more fruit of better quality • Deciduous trees and shrubs can still be transplanted from pots into the garden or just into a new position in the garden. Any new tree or shrub additions can be planted at the same time. • Hardwood cuttings can be taken from willow and fuchsias and any other small tree or shrub. The best way to take these cuttings is to cut slim stems or branches from the ‘parent’ plant, trimming off the leaves and scraping a small portion of bark from the bottom of the stem. Dip this end into some rooting gel or powder and either plant into pots or directly into the flower bed outside, watering it in well. Hardwood cuttings do not require heat to root and don’t need to be covered outside. Cuttings like these can be planted in batches in one pot……..bundle the cuttings together, make one hole in the compost and insert the bundle into the hole. Once the roots have formed, the cuttings can be separated later. Evergreens like laurel, holly, box, honeysuckle and escallonia, respond well with this type of cutting, but any shrub or small tree can be successfully propagated using this method. • Prune climbing roses, removing damaged or diseased wood. Tie in new green shoots and cut back stems that bore flowers earlier in the year by two thirds. • The tips of branches on fig trees are where the fruit will be borne. These tips can be damaged by heavy frost. If this is forecast protect the branches with fleece. • Dahlia tubers can be left in the ground as long as there is no danger of frost, otherwise they can be lifted now and stored in a cool dry place until next year.

Continued overleaf .....

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 19

Continued .....

• Sow seeds of hardy trees and shrubs now as with the alpine seeds above, the dormancy is broken by the cold and germination is more certain to take place sooner. • Regularly remove dead foliage from around plants in pots and in beds to prevent mould from establishing. • If you’ve grown asparagus this year, cut the old stems back to ground level. Use a small hand fork and lightly disturb the soil from around the base of the plant. This is where the asparagus likes to spend the winter. Leave the disturbed soil for a few days so that the birds can feed on what has been uncovered and then mulch with a good thick layer of compost mulch.

• Continue deadheading winter pansies and violas so that flowering continues. • Take root cuttings from Oriental poppies and Japanese anemones. These cuttings should be taken when the plant is dormant. Dig around the ‘parent’ plant, exposing some of the roots. Cut off some of the larger roots and then re-cover the roots of the parent plant with soil. Cut the lengths of root cuttings into strips measuring about 5cms. Fill a seed tray with cuttings compost and lay the root pieces horizontally on the compost leaving a few centimetres in between each one. Cover the cuttings with more compost and then a layer of fine grit or perlite. Water well and leave in a sheltered spot. • Spike lawns with the tines of a garden fork or an aerator to improve drainage and thus prevent waterlogging. Lawn sand can be sprinkled into the holes made by the aerator. Make sure any fallen leaves are removed from the lawn surface as if left, these will cause the lawn to die and leave brown patches. • If you’ve planted sweet pea seeds, it’s time now to pinch back the stems, so that more shoots will grow up from the base. These new shoots will be thicker and stronger than the initial ones; doing this will ensure that the plants will be really ready to be planted outside in the spring and an earlier showing of flowers will be encouraged. • Sow alpine seeds now. The colder temperature will help to break the seed dormancy and they will germinate earlier in the spring. • If you are going to give someone an amaryllis lily for Christmas, start it into growth now. Fill a pot with good potting compost and push the bulb into it, back fill with more compost just leaving just the tip of the bulb exposed. Water and leave in a warm, light place.

• Time to plant a dogwood (cornus) shrub. This will establish well if planted now as they prefer damp conditions. Bare root or pot grown specimens can be planted out from now until March. After planting, shorten the stems by a third and apply a mulch of well-rotted manure. Keep the plants well watered. The stems provide a real splash of colour which will brighten up the dullest of days. • Plant up some colourful troughs or pots to brighten up window sills. • Sow pelargonium seeds for summer bedding. • Tidy up flower beds by cutting back broken flower heads/stems and trimming any other plant that has been damaged; Add a mulch of compost or bark to help with moisture retention. • Harvest any remaining vegetable crops, storing them in a dry, cool place…remember to protect from mice damage! • Sow onion seeds in seed trays filled with good potting compost. • Cut back gooseberry plants and red, black and white currant shrubs, removing any dead or diseased wood and then pruning back about ¼ of the older branches, to create an open shape. Cut side shoots back to two or three buds. • Give the watering can a good clean in case there is a layer of sludge or debris lurking at the bottom. Clean the rose separately to ensure the holes are clear. • Clean tools and give wooden handles a rub down with linseed oil and clean the metal parts and rub them with the oil too to prevent rust from forming. Enjoy whatever you do in the garden. Don’t forget to take a step back now again to appreciate what you are doing. Keep warm and safe!

Greenfingers 20 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Have you LIKED us on Facebook?

We post regular updates, things to do and promote special offers on our page, so why not pop over and say Hello! thedeuxsevresmonthly

Why not give your business a kick start this new year with an advert in The DSM Magazine. Contact us for details of new advertiser packages.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 21


by Donna Palframan


he nights are drawing in and getting colder but we have been blessed in Normandy with some lovely weather, not the normal Norman rain! The potager is still providing me with some good basic vegetables but the mâche seeds I sowed a while ago haven’t produced any leaves, which is a shame but that’s gardening for you. I’m hoping to get some seeds in the polytunnel in the next few weeks as I really must make more use of it over winter and extend the growing period. I am now seriously casting my mind forward to next year’s potager and what I want to grow in it and how I want to grow it. First of all, the ‘how’, as the ‘what’ keeps changing, although I have decided not to grow parsnips, as mentioned last month, I love them but mister is not partial so for the few that I will use in a year, I might as well let someone else do the work!

22 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

What is this ‘conditioning’ she keeps mentioning, I hear you ask. To use straw bales for growing, there must be some degree of decomposition and while a bale left in the rain will decompose eventually, the decomposition needs to be accelerated to provide the optimum medium for growing. I won’t go into great detail, although if anyone is interested, I’m more than happy to share the detail with you! Depending on whether you are conditioning using chemical or organic fertilisers, it can take twelve to eighteen days to condition the bales using a Bales set up ready variable regime

All photographs by Donna Palframan

I mentioned last month that I have the straw bales for next year and my task in the next few weeks is to get them into position so the outside ones at least, can be rained on throughout the Winter. Before starting to condition the bales with a very high nitrogen fertiliser, the straw must be saturated as this helps with the decomposition process, so what better way to ensure it is done but use rain! It is also better to let them get rained on in their final position rather than move saturated bales – they hold a lot of water and get very heavy, and while I can get move dry bales very easily, wet bales are a bit more trying. Did you know that in straw bale gardening there is a right way up? If you look at the long, thin sides of the bale, you’ll see that one side has mostly cut ends.

This is the side that you want positioned upwards so all that lovely rain can trickle through the hollow centre of the straw all the way through the bale. This also assists with the conditioning process and getting the fertiliser into the centre of the bale.

Well conditioned bale showing fungus of adding fertiliser, watering it in, just watering, or just being patient and waiting to sow seeds or plant. As the decomposition in the centre of the bale produces heat, and the temperatures can be quite impressive, sometimes exceeding 40°, the ‘patient’ part is waiting for a few days for the bales to cool, although I’ve never had the very high temperatures that some people have reached. However, the warm bales mean that seeds can be sown earlier and plants can be planted earlier, especially as it is possible to provide cover using plastic sheet, rather like a mini polytunnel. In fact, I use the cover from an old polytunnel for this. Straw bale gardens need less watering than normal gardens as the bales act a bit like a sponge, holding lots of water, but they will, of course need watering at some point, especially in a hot, dry summer and the best way to do this is to set up an irrigation system. I didn’t do it this year and really regretted it so I will be setting one up before growing in the bales. The photos I am sharing with you are from 2019, my initial foray into straw bale gardening. The configuration will be different next time, with bales in pairs, giving a bigger surface area and the bales will be caged in. As they decompose, they need to be compressed, or ‘smooshed’ and if there isn’t a boundary, they just collapse, making longer use difficult. The first year, I scooped collapsed bales into a pile and wrapped fencing around them – chicken wire works well and there is a method of enclosing them in chicken wire that I need to try.

Seeds in compost in bales

Seeds and plants can be grown in bales. If using seeds, especially small seeds, a layer of compost on top of the bale gives the seeds a good base for germinating and growing, and they won’t be washed away by the rain or watering. For big seeds, like courgette or cucumber, some of the best results I’ve had are when Bales breaking down I’ve just shoved them in the bales. Seedlings or bigger plants can just be planted into a hole forced in the straw, although I still like to put some compost in and then the straw can be closed around the plant. It is important to provide support for climbing plants and tall plants. I’ve found that while broccoli and Brussels sprouts do well in bales, they do tend to get blown over easily by strong winds, so it is important to give them support. You can see in the pictures I have a supporting system in place and next year, rather than have it at the edge of the bales as it is in some places, it will be in the middle for all the bales. I do have one more bale to get and that is one of the big round bales – this will be an experiment but I have this dream of having squashes cascading down the sides and flowers on top! Watch this space!

Although the bales need generally less water, the plants, especially tomatoes, squashes and other hungry plants do need regular fertilizing to get the best results and this is done using a foliar feed and although I’ve used granular fertilisers, next year I’m going to use only liquid fertilisers and I promise to do it more regularly!

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 23

Sweetness and Light W

e could all do with some of the above in our lives, as another difficult year comes to an end, and whether you’re a honey-lover or not, it’s sometimes surprising to realise how intertwined human society is with bees and honey. The Egyptians, in 3000BCE, adopted the bee as a sign of mankind’s ingenuity, a symbol of power, industry and production. Cleopatra is said to have used honey as part of her beauty routine. Bees are reputed to have settled on the lips of Plato, indicating his future brilliance with words, and similarly, a swarm of bees is said to have gathered on baby Ambrose’s face, leaving behind a drop of honey. Ambrose became a bishop in fourth-century Milan who encouraged monks to use the bees’ chaste hard-working life as a model for their own. Bees and honey have been part of music, poetry (many of us can recite the first verse of ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ by Edward Lear!), architecture, art, philosophy, politics and religion for thousands of years, so it’s no wonder these days we have such an affinity with them. We used honey long before sugar, in ceremonies and celebrations, for healing and for mead. The idea of honey, now, has the sweetest of associations, its flavours evoking thoughts of summer days and the sound of bees buzzing between flowers in the sunshine. AA Milne was on to something when he created the best known honey-lover in fiction, Winnie-the-Pooh. Thankfully, nowadays, we have safer, more efficient ways of harvesting honey; I don’t fancy just sticking my paw into a hive and scooping out what I can!

by Kevin and Amanda Baughen

Ripe honey has a moisture content of around 18%; this is nectar that has been collected, stored, treated and capped with wax by the bees as winter food. This enables the colony to survive until the spring when the worker bees can forage again for fresh supplies of nectar and pollen. You may have noticed that there are different types of honey for sale; what makes this difference? Honey varies in colour from very pale gold to dark brown-black, and this is determined by the nectar collected by the bees. Darker honeys tend to contain more minerals and have a stronger more robust taste than lighter ones. Some honeys crystallise more quickly than others and this depends on the amount of fructose versus glucose in the nectar. Acacia honey, for example, will stay liquid whereas oil seed rape honey will crystallise quickly due to its higher proportion of glucose. 2021 has been “une année noire” for commercial honey producers across France, according to UNAAF, the beekeepers’ union, meaning that honey harvests have been exceptionally poor due to the prolonged wet spring experienced across the country. Many beekeepers have had to feed their colonies with sugar syrup much earlier in the season than usual, and several (us included) have decided to take no harvest and leave the honey that has been stored, for the bees. This means that honey might well be more expensive over the coming months as it is in short supply, but if you see any beekeepers selling honey at markets, please buy a pot to support them!

If you are interested in learning more about bees, beekeeping, and honey, please visit our website for more information. Christmas vouchers are available too for wax workshops and beekeeping courses. Tel: 05 45 71 22 90 Amanda and Kevin Baughen, 13 Bees, Confolens

24 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

À La Carte

Incredible Women

by Tony & Lynne Wigmore

Incredible women who have done incredible things with little or no recognition at the time Bessie Coleman (January 26, 1892 – April 30, 1926)


opularly known as Queen Bess and Brave Bessie, she was the first African-American woman and first Native American to hold a pilot license. After studying in a small, segregated school, Bessie attended one term of college at Langston University but could not afford to stay. Interested in flying from an early age, French women were allowed to fly but AfricanAmericans, Native Americans, and women had no flight training opportunities in the United States. Having saved and obtained sponsorships to go to France for flight school, Bessie received her international pilot’s license on June 15, 1921 from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale. Coleman’s dream was to own a plane and to open her own flight school. She gave speeches and showed films of her air tricks to earn money, although she refused to speak anywhere that was segregated or discriminated against African-Americans. In 1922, she performed the first public flight by an African American woman and became famous for doing “loop-the-loops” and "figure 8's” in an aeroplane. Performing in her hometown in Texas to a large crowd, she refused to perform unless there was only one gate for everyone to use but did accept segregated seating. On April 30, 1926, Bessie Coleman took a test flight with a mechanic named William Wills who piloted the plane while Coleman sat in the passenger seat. At about 3,000 feet, a loose wrench got stuck in the engine of the aircraft. Wills was no longer able to control the steering wheel and the plane flipped over. Unfortunately, Coleman was not wearing a seatbelt and, as planes at the time did not have a roof or any protection, she fell out of the plane and died. In 1931, the Challenger Pilots’ Association of Chicago started a tradition of flying over Coleman’s grave every year. By 1977, African American women pilots formed the Bessie Coleman Aviators Club and in 1995, the “Bessie Coleman Stamp” was made to remember all of her accomplishments. Elizabeth Jennings Graham (March 1827 – June 5, 1901)


er mother was born enslaved but her father was a free man and in 1821, he was awarded a patent from the U.S. government for developing dry scouring, a new method to dry-clean clothing making him the first known Black person to hold a U.S. patent. With the proceeds he bought his family's freedom. Elizabeth was born free in March 1827.

In July 1854 Elizabeth was running late for church so she boarded a streetcar of the Third Avenue Railroad Company at the corner of Pearl Street and Chatham Street. The conductor ordered her to get off alleging the car was full - although this was later proved

false. When she refused, the conductor tried to remove her by force. Eventually, with the aid of a police officer, Jennings was ejected from the streetcar. In 1855, a court ruled in her favour Brooklyn Circuit Court Judge William Rockwell declaring in his charge to the jury: "Coloured persons if sober, well behaved and free from disease, have the same rights as others and can neither be excluded by any rules of the company, nor by force or violence." She later founded and operated the city's first kindergarten for black children in her home. She died on June 5, 1901, at the age of 74, and was buried in Cypress Hills Cemetery along with her son and her husband. In 2019 it was announced that New York City would build a statue honouring Graham near Grand Central Terminal. Edith Louisa Cavell (4 December 1865 – 12 October 1915)


orn in Swardeston, near Norwich, where her father was vicar for 45 years, Cavell worked as a governess, including for a family in Brussels from 1890 to 1895 when she returned home to care for her father during a serious illness. This experience led her to become a nurse after her father's recovery and along with other staff she was awarded the Maidstone Medal for her assistance with the typhoid outbreak in 1897. In 1907, Cavell was recruited to be matron of a newly established nursing school in Ixelles, Brussels and in 1910 launched the nursing journal L'infirmière. Within a year, she was training nurses for three hospitals, twenty-four schools, and thirteen kindergartens in Belgium. During the German occupation of Brussels, starting in 1914, Cavell sheltered wounded British and French soldiers, as well as Belgian and French civilians of military age, funnelling them out of occupied Belgium to the neutral Netherlands. They were hidden from the Germans and provided with false papers and enough money to reach the Dutch border. This placed Cavell in violation of German military law and the authorities became increasingly suspicious of the nurse's actions. She was held in prison for ten weeks, the last two of which were spent in solitary confinement. Cavell made three depositions to the German police admitting that she had been instrumental in conveying about 60 British and 15 French soldiers, as well as about 100 French and Belgian civilians of military age, to the frontier and had sheltered most of them in her house. The penalty, according to German military law, was death, although the First Geneva Convention ordinarily guaranteed protection of medical personnel, that protection was forfeit if used as cover for any belligerent action. After the war, her body was taken back to Britain for a memorial service at Westminster Abbey and then transferred to Norwich, to be laid to rest at Life's Green on the east side of the cathedral. The King had to grant an exception to an Order in Council of 1854, which prevented any burials in the grounds of the cathedral, to allow the reburial.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 25

Clubs and Associations

k with any that you chec re su en se ea Pl e planning ation you ar ci so as or club E setting off. to visit BEFOR

CSSG is a group of mainly ex-services people living in this area who meet socially whilst raising funds to support ex-service charities. Former UK servicemen and women, police and firefighters are invited to email Christine Hester at

26 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021


Association Franco-Anglophone de Bonne Entente L’A.F.A.B.E (Association Franco-Anglophone de Bonne Entente) a vu le jour le 22 novembre 2014, dans le but de promouvoir des échanges culturels, historiques, linguistiques, gastronomiques, ou tout autre échange susceptible de favoriser la bonne entente entre les Français du cru, les Français d’autres régions de France ainsi que les Britanniques venus s’installer en Nouvelle Aquitaine.

The A.F.A.B.E (Association Franco-Anglophone de Bonne Entente) was created on November 22, 2014, with the aim of promoting cultural, historical, linguistic, gastronomic exchanges or any other exchange likely to promote good understanding between the French of the region. The French from other regions of France as well as the British who came to settle in Nouvelle Aquitaine.

Les adhérents venant d’horizons divers, les activités proposées par l’A.F.A.B.E sont elles aussi multiples et variées :

Members are from various backgrounds, the activities organised by A.F.A.B.E are varied and diverse:

• La chorale, pour le moment réduite au silence pour cause de COVID, a donné moult représentations, toujours de bon niveau et offert au public des prestations de qualité : célébrations de Noël, concerts de Pâques, et notamment le spectacle « 11 » accompagné de musiciens, chanté et interprété par des acteurs amateurs, à l’occasion du centenaire de l’Armistice. • Les banquets ou repas à thème font toujours l’unanimité : soirée écossaise « Robert Burns », Easter Bonnet, repas italien, soirée « fish and chips », traditionnel repas de Noël, galette des Rois …. • L’un de nos pique-nique d’été fut l’occasion de découvrir une pièce de théâtre « one man show » qui revisite Shakespeare, « Hamlet, crazy road ». • Les activités manuelles sont également à l’honneur : aquarelle, cartonnage, ateliers cuisine, atelier pain… La région Poitou-Charente ayant un patrimoine particulièrement riche, l’Association propose bon nombre d’excursions qui permettent de découvrir châteaux, distilleries, églises romanes, vieux lavoirs…. Notre récente chasse au trésor a instauré un autre style : la découverte sous forme ludique des curiosités ou richesses insoupçonnées, quelquefois à notre porte. Bien sûr, le désir de bonne entente engendre le désir d’apprendre la langue de l’autre, c’est pourquoi des cours de conversation et des cours plus soutenus sont donnés gratuitement au sein de l’Association. Bonne entente et bonne humeur, dans une ambiance bon enfant, quasi fraternelle, voilà ce à quoi l’Association s’applique depuis sa création.

• The choir, for the moment has been silenced because of COVID. It offered the public quality performances which included Christmas celebrations, Easter concerts, and other quality performances including the “11” show accompanied by musicians, sung and performed by amateur actors and choristers, on the occasion of the centenary of the Armistice. • Banquets or themed dinners are always popular – Scottish “Robert Burns” evening, Easter Bonnet, Italian dinner, fish and chips, traditional Christmas dinner, Galette de Rois, etc. • One of our summer picnics featured a one-man show which was a different interpretation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. • Practical activities are also featured: watercolour painting, cartonnage (working with cardboard), cooking workshops, bread workshop. The Poitou-Charente region has a particularly rich heritage. The Association organises a number of excursions to discover castles, distilleries, Romanesque churches, old wash houses, etc. Our recent treasure hunt has introduced another dimension, the discovery of unexpected curiosities and riches on our own doorstep. Of course, the desire for goodwill breeds the desire to learn the other’s language, which is why conversation classes in both languages are popular and are free of charge to members. Good relationships are essential to ensuring a good atmosphere to enjoy each others company regardless of nationality, which has been our raison d’etre since the association was formed.

Bien sûr, la COVID et toutes les restrictions afférentes ont sérieusement freiné nos activités, mais nous maintenons au moins une activité, une sortie par mois, en respectant les mesures d’usage.

We strive to organise at least one activity per month for our members for the princely sum of 10 Euros a year

N’hésitez pas à venir nous rejoindre :

Do not hesitate to come and join us :

AFABE 1, rue des Marronniers 79190-LORIGNE – Queue d’Ageasse E-mail : Présidente : Christiane FOUCHER

AFABE 1, rue des Marronniers 79190-LORIGNE – Queue d’Ageasse E-mail : Présidente : Christiane FOUCHER

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 27

La Vie En France


t is tradition to offer « offrir » a Christmas present « cadeau de Noël ». In France the tradition is to give the presents on the evening of the 24 December and to open them « ouvrir les cadeaux » after midnight. Children often have to wait until Christmas morning «le matin de Noël » by which time Father Christmas « Le père Noël » will have called. Christmas presents « cadeaux de Noël » are generally wrapped « enveloppés » in wrapping paper / gift wrap « papier cadeau » which is brightly coloured « brillant » or « de couleur vive », sometimes surrounded by a ribbon « ruban » or « bolduc ». In France on Christmas Eve « la veille de Noël », the children place a slipper « un soulier » or a pair of slippers under the Christmas tree « le sapin ». Before the appearance of the consumer society « la société de consommation » the gift was often something to eat (apple « une pomme » orange « une orange » or sugar candy « une cane en sucre »). In Catholic families the

by Sue Burgess

presents were brought by the baby Jesus. But since the 20th century adoption of the American custom, the presents are delivered by Father Christmas «le père Noël». Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, that shouldn't stop you joining in the fun and enjoying yourself. Christmas is very much a family affair in France « une affaire de famille », with the emphasis on the family getting together to celebrate with large meals rather than on giving presents. The French prefer to say that a present was offered « offrir» rather than bought « acheter» So it’’s better to say « mon ami m’a offert un cadeau» rather than « mon ami m’a acheté un cadeau». New year gifts are called « étrennes» and were generally gifts of money such as money given to service providers (for example refuse collectors « les éboueurs»). Here is a little Christmas vocabulary quiz. Match the French on the left with the English on the right.

Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Noël

Christmas carols

Les chants de Noël

Christmas decorations

Les décorations de Noël

Boxing Day

Le gui Christmas Offrir des cadeaux

Gift wrap

Le lendemain de Noël

To give presents

Les fêtes


Le papier cadeau

The holiday season / the festivities

La Veille de Noël

A garland / streamer / tinsel

Une guirlande

Christmas Eve

And if you don't like studying vocabulary, there is always a good Christmas film. « Home Alone » (Maman, j'ai raté l'avion) « A Christmas Carol » (Le Drôle de Noël de Scrooge) « Miracle on 34th Street » (Miracle sur la 34e rue) « The Santa Clause » (Super Noël) « The Grinch Who Stole Christmas » (Comment le Grinch a volé Noël !) « A Charlie Brown Christmas » (Un Noël à la Charlie Brown)

JOYEUX NOËL À TOUS 28 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 29


by Sophie Hargreaves

30 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021



i. We are Will and Sophie Hargreaves, a former account manager in wine and spirits and former housing manager. In early 2020 we had fallen in love with alpacas, and the idea of starting an alpaca farm, after visiting a small farm that had opened in our, then, home of Cuxton, Rochester. We just knew this was something we wanted to do. A combination of our growing love of these animals, a covid-induced redundancy for Will and the looming deadline of Brexit, brought us to the decision that we would leave the busy corporate life in Kent and move to something much more wholesome and exciting in the department of Deux-Sèvres. We decided to start an alpaca farm in the tranquil village of Sanzay. After training on two different farms in alpaca husbandry and handling and regular visits to two others to learn as much as we could, we took the plunge and, in December 2020, we moved our home, our alpacas and our lives to Sanzay (Argenton-Les-Vallées). So why alpacas and why in France? Alpacas are often used as therapy animals and we felt so peaceful when we were with them. We knew this was what we had to do and still find it so rewarding seeing the animals having a calming influence on our visitors. As for France, we have always loved the lifestyle and culture of France and had dreamed of one day moving here. Having opened our doors on 28th May 2021, after France opened up following covid restrictions, we were so lucky and happy to receive lots of visitors over the summer. Aside from the alpacas, the best part of the job was meeting new groups of people; both local and holiday makers. Most of our visitors were French tourists, which shows just how great this country is that so many choose staycations. It’s very inspiring and we look forward to discovering every corner of the country.

during the summer. Again, this gave us an opportunity to jump into French culture, and we were blown away by the number of guests who invited us to join them for a drink in the evenings. It would have been too rude to refuse! We love meeting so many new people and learning about their lives and why they’ve chosen this beautiful area for their vacance. We are very focused on being as eco-friendly as we can, with as little waste on the farm as possible. We use everything that the alpacas have to offer us, including their enriched poo, which is very popular with the locals! Creating both fresh fertiliser and compost tea, nothing is wasted. Everything is used including the fleeces offered by the animals after the essential annual shearing, which Sophie is currently transforming into luxury wool (it’s hypoallergenic and non-itchy). We have eight alpacas on our farm, all with their own individual charming personalities. All our visitors seem to find their own favourite; Astrid with her curious nature, Holly’s attention seeking, Blaze’s greediness for treats, Rohini’s elegance, Ringo’s cuteness, Blossom’s friendliness, Pepper’s shyness and Clove’s beauty. Learning on the job this year, it’s been a real eye-opener, tough yet rewarding. To have the animals trust us to give them routine injections, clipping their toenails and weekly health checks has been incredibly humbling. We are very happy to have made this choice and look forward to our second year ahead and welcoming more fabulous visitors to the farm, starting with our Christmas markets and events. @lapetitefermedalpagas for social media.

After a lot of hard work, the farm was able to open up its first accommodation, in the form of a glamping tent,

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 31

Velo4Violet : December


by Lisa Jones

t is difficult to believe that winter will soon be here! As the weather gets colder and the nights draw in, it is a lovely to take some time to reflect on the last year and the challenges we have overcome.

We have been overwhelmed by your generosity of donated bikes as well as many bike parts and spares. Over the coming months these donations will be put up for sale and all the money raised will go directly to those children who need it.

Association Violet is run by a small, but dedicated group of volunteers, with the joint mission of transforming the lives of the children and families we work with, through community engagement, involvement and fundraising. All the money we raise is gifted, as grants, to children and their families, who suffer from epilepsy, dystonia or cerebral palsy.

Christmas Decoration Donations We would like to say a massive thank you to all of you that answered the call and donated your old artificial Christmas trees and decorations. Many of these items have undergone a complete transformation and given a new lease of life by the team at Naturel Crafts and all the proceeds from the sale of these upcycled items will go towards supporting the Association with the delivery of its mission.

This year has seen a lot of change for us as an Association and we are so very grateful for the unstinting support which means we are able to continue our work of raising funds for all of those children and families that need our support as well as building partnerships with other charities and organisations who share our mission and goals. Velo4Violet Update The Velo4Violet challenge during the month of November was full of ups and downs for many of those that took part in this cycling based fundraiser. The weather played its part well by adding an extra challenge to many of those that took part. Freezing temperatures at night provided some difficult cycling conditions, especially for morning rides. However, everyone pulled out all the stops and whilst we are still awaiting final numbers in terms of the distance travelled and money raised, we are so proud of everyone for their efforts in striving towards their own personal goals.


ne of the nicest ways to decorate your house and to welcome Christmas visitors is to hang a Christmas wreath but do you know the history and tradition behind them? Wreaths have been around since ancient Greek and Roman times, usually as a sign of victory and power and were used to crown those with significant achievements or rank. The tradition of bringing evergreen trees into your home at Christmas time is believed to have started in 16th century Germany. These firs set the stage for wreaths to become an established part of Christmas thanks to the care taken to perfect the shape of each tree. Spare or ugly branches and spurs were trimmed to achieve the perfect shape. At that time the belief was that nothing should be wasted so wreaths were created from the excess limbs and boughs. In 1839, a Lutheran priest used a wreath made from a cartwheel to educate children about the meaning and purpose of Christmas, as well as to help them count its approach, thus giving rise to the modern version of the Advent wreath. For every Sunday of Advent, starting with the fourth Sunday before Christmas, he would put a white candle in the wreath and for every day in between he would use a red candle.

32 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Our team and Supporters We are run purely by volunteers who will always go over and above the support Association Violet. Without you, we simply could not do what we do. The committee continue to strive to support organised events and activities that support our fundraising objectives and thank you for all your hard work and efforts. However, it is our supporters that really make the difference. By attending an event, buying a raffle ticket or simply putting a euro in the pot makes all the difference. If you are interesting in hosting an event or having an idea for a fundraiser, for 2022, please get in touch as we would love to hear from you. To to find out more about us, check out our website www. or follow us on Facebook, in the meantime we would like to wish you all a very warm and happy Christmas.

by Lynne Wigmore

Over time, various branches of Christianity adopted the advent wreath the majority of which now have four candles with one white candle, the Christ Candle, in the centre. The traditional idea of a Christmas wreath became a popular Christmas decoration by the 1900s and are now commonly found on doors (without candles). Modern, commercially made, wreaths tend to include seasonal colours (red, green, white or purple),are made with living or articifial vegetation and adorned with ribbons. For religious wreath hangers, holly and cranberries are essential to the design, the former's sharp leaves represent Christ's thorny crown often depicted during his execution, and the latter is a symbol of his blood. Christians also believed that a wreath's positioning on a door or window was especially important, seeing it as a kind of invitation of sorts for the holy spirit to enter their homes, and the evergreens used symbolize eternal life as they survive even the harshest of winters. For many, wreaths are simply a decoration to invite some holiday cheer but whether you choose to hang a wreath for religious reasons or for décor, hopefully knowing the history behind the custom makes it all the more interesting.

Life in 79

by Stephen Shaw

Anniversaries, Animals and Near-Death Experiences his month we celebrated our six year anniversary of living in France. Was it only six years ago I crashed the hired van into the gatepost on our arrival? Ahhhh! Happy memories. Six years when we thought we had a giant rat problem coming face to face with our first ragondin? Happy memories. My diary entry from six years ago reads:

'...Eventually get back to the house from the notaires. All the lights went out; plunged into complete darkness... then can't get out of the front door, try to stay calm, but ******* ourselves! Eventually find matches, then fuse box and switch back on. Locate candle and a dicky torch in case outage reoccurs (which it does, repeatedly). I erect bed and Anna makes meatballs and pasta – both feel shattered and a bit nauseous. The reality of the state of the house hits us and with that a huge hornet flies into our bedroom.'

rip her face off. Like the chickens, he is a constant source of pleasure to us and has filled the gap left by our lovely Labrador Lucy RIP. Anna woke a few weeks ago to find the white of one of her eyes had turned red. I thought she looked quite good, like the James Bond villain Le Chiffre, but this didn't give her the expected boost I thought it would. A friend suggested it might be her blood pressure and lent her his machine. Every twenty minutes a hiss could be heard somewhere in the house, as the machine released its inflated grip on her upper arm and Anna would be heard shouting One hundred and eighty seven!. Although hers was high, what really annoyed her was that my blood pressure was excellent. After a trip to the doctor she now takes a daily pill to stop her exploding.



Happy memories. Not the only anniversary this month. We have had our four chickens for a year. Three eggs a day (on average) times 365 equals 1,095 eggs in the year...that's a lot of quiche! Chickens are fantastic and have moved into my top five of favourite animals, behind the Aye-aye in fourth place. They are like machines the way they scrape and peck all day. Non-stop. Then up the wooden ramp to bed as soon as the light fades. And you don't hear so much as a cluck from them until the morning. Eat, sleep, push out egg, repeat. Two years ago, while digging in the potager, I saw a ferrel cat gnawing on a rotten courgette atop the compost heap. That little fella, who now answers to Fabergé, can be found most nights sharing our bed. I sometimes wake thinking I'm having an asthma attack only to find the cat is sleeping on my chest. I never stroke him and yet he will always sit on my lap, much to Anna, my wife's, annoyance. She can't leave the thing alone...cuddling, nuzzling, kissing... which the cat will tolerate up to a point before trying to

I too had a brush with death this month. Anna had purchased some sweet chestnuts, which she had wrapped in foil and bunged in the log burner for twenty minutes. She then extracted the molten parcel from the fiery furnace and offered me a nut holding them about six inches away from my face. It was at that exact moment there was a flash, accompanied by a loud bang, and I was pebble dashed with nut fragments. I looked like a Ferrero Rocher. I dropped my wine, and found my tinnitus was even worse than usual. I had a sharp pain in my finger which took the brunt of the explosion. I am still awaiting a bout of Post-traumatic stress disorder. Anna apologised and showed limited levels of concern. She seemed genuine enough, but I have my suspicions she was trying to 'up' my blood pressure numbers.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 33

Magnolia Farm Renovations Season's Heatings

n the three years we’ve owned Magnolia Farm, we’ve Iboth spent the Christmas period here twice. Unfortunately, on occasions, we were in a freezing cold caravan, chasing

by Owen Kitchener-McCartney

is actually a relatively simple process. After covering the area with 20mm insulation, we rolled out the self-adhesive matting onto the areas that need heating and then covered the cables with flexible tile adhesive ready for the final floor covering which, in our case was some lovely, dark terracotta tiles.

sprouts around the dinner plate with Jack Frost nipping at our noses. This year, to save me from tears…I’m rather hoping that, instead, my chestnuts will be roasting on an open fire.

There’s still work to do to get the temporary kitchen up and running before the winter weather sets in but at least we’ll be able to enjoy a cosy Christmas here on the farm.

Avid readers (let’s hope there are some) of my ramblings in the DSM will remember an article that I wrote a few months ago about the installation of our log burner. Whilst it is indeed, in and raring to go, we’ve still been confined to our temporary kitchen in the summer house while we complete the flooring works.

We’re not asking for much. Not being able to see our breath at the dinner table, for example, would be a treat. Maybe using some cutlery that isn’t too cold to hold would be nice. To be honest, I’d settle for only having to wear one pair of socks!

Now though, with the help of Tim the electrician, we have installed that most modern of luxuries… underfloor heating.

Winters here on the farm have been hard work so far. This year though, will be different…apart from the sprouts obviously. Season’s heatings to all DSM readers. Fa la la la la etc.

We went for the electric matting approach which

TAKE A BREAK - SOLUTIONS - PAGES 14-16 Easy Crossword: S # I # D # # # H # G # C

E N T I R E # F O U R T H

N # A # E # P # A # E # E


O # Y # M # Y # D # A # S

R # # # # # C # E # D # E

Sudoku: # S U P E R H E R O E S #

A # P # M # O # # # # # B

S # R # P # S # C # A # U


E # G # R # S # E # A # I

S C H O O L # C A S I N O

S # T # R # # # N # N # N

Toughie Crossword ("Santa Claus Is Coming To Town") # T # O # T # G # # # N # I #

O U T B R A V E # T H E I S M

# R # I # K # R # O # V # T #

W E A T H E R M A P # E C H O

# E # # # T # # # A # R # M #

# N O W T H A T I S M A G I C

# # # A # E # U # S # S # A #

N I P S # B O T H A # L E N S

# N # H # I # T # S # I # # #

S A T A N S D I S C I P L E #

# N # T # C # # # A # # # N #

A D Z E # U N T I L W E S K I

# O # R # I # W # P # L # I #

N U D I S T # O P E N L I D S

# T # A # # # C # L # A # U #

5 8 1 4 6 7 2 3 9

7 6 9 3 5 2 8 4 1

Word Search:

2 3 4 1 9 8 5 6 7

1 9 6 2 3 4 7 8 5

4 7 5 9 8 1 6 2 3

8 2 3 5 7 6 1 9 4

9 1 2 6 4 5 3 7 8

6 4 7 8 1 3 9 5 2

3 5 8 7 2 9 4 1 6

SPOT THE DIFFERENCE 1. Father Christmas flying past the window. 2. Extra garland above large window. 3. Star removed from tree. 4. Extra black cat sat near presents. 5. Extra present near the rocking horse. 6. Extra Santa on the table. 7. Leg missing from the armchair. 8. Flowers on shelf have changed. 9. Bauble added to wreath over fire. 10. Stocking now hangs on fireplace.

34 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

CONNECT FOUR : Q1. Bands so nice, they named themselves twice (e.g. Duran Duran) Q2. Tom Hanks films with one word title. Q3. They are all palindromes. Q4. Can all be followed by the word box.

On The Road Drive business to your door Advertise here Contact us for details

Sports Car & Motorcycle Specialist Restoration

Expert Advice

Engine Building

Project Management Telephone: +33 (0)624 59 51 67 Email:

Siren 838987717


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 35

A Moroccan Road Trip is good for the Soul ……

by Helen Tait-Wright

Deal with what is in front of you. So no need to worry about what is happening outside of your forward vision. Leaving Marrakech we took the route north towards Tangiers which would take us past Casablanca and Rabat. The larger Moroccan roads are not that dissimilar to those in France, but a 120km speed limit is present with an instant fine if you are caught breaking it. Not that that matters in Priscilla as she prefers to run at 100/110. Most are péage, although if you don’t have the automatic badge, you must remember to take cash as that is all they accept.


fter the rally and our time in Marrakech it was time for Priscilla and I to start the journey home, Sue having left by plane.

Of course when driving a right hand drive car with no passenger, this requires many ins and outs of the cab, but on the plus side it’s a little stretch for the legs!

I love a solo road trip; just me and my Landy, with my music. It is my happy place and gives me time to think and relax. Feel the rhythm of the road, be at one with the car. Driving in Morocco is actually a joy too …. well for me anyway. First we had a million point turn to get out of the cramped parking garage (which costs just over 2 euros a day) and into the Medina street, but once we had negotiated the inevitable donkeys, dogs, Dokkers, carts, people, stalls and children to get out of the Medina, the highway beckoned.

The motorways are generally pretty empty, although you nearly always see a lorry in bits by the side of the road, people crossing the road and a few stray chickens! The service areas are well appointed and have a prayer room should you need it. Fuel stops are a pleasure, firstly as diesel is only the equivalent of 92 cents a litre, but also there is always someone there to fill your tank, and while that happens, someone else washes your windscreen! Very civilised. Also very often there is a building where someone will wash your whole car for the equivalent of 2 or 3 euros! You really can’t beat a Moroccan car wash. On our way south three weeks earlier, we used many smaller roads, but still found similar services. 36 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

All photographs courtesy of Helen Tait-Wright

The Medina streets, or indeed most town and village streets in Morocco, can seem pretty daunting as there are people, vehicles and animals coming at you from all directions, but actually it’s easy to drive once you get used to it because everyone works by one simple rule.

There are all manner of roadside stalls selling the fresh produce of the region, or perhaps a locally made tagine and often you wonder where on earth the people have come from! The scenery however is stunning! And to be fair, you get some pretty spectacular scenery from the motorway too, especially heading up the Atlantic coast. I decided to break my journey at Kenitra where I stayed at a “Relax Hotel’ for the night. I would say this chain is the equivalent of Premier Inn, and it was very pleasant indeed, smart and tastefully decorated, with the added delight of homemade pastries in the room, as well as being a sensible price. The next day, continuing north towards Tangiers, there are the inevitable heavily laden Moroccan lorries, to be seen all over the country, labouring up any slight incline, and the traffic gets heavier with vehicles heading to the port. Morocco is an intoxicating mix of the ancient and modern, and at the more northern service stations you should not be surprised to find a McDonalds, or see stunning modern bridges spanning the pre historic landscape. Country roads are a real mixture though, and you can expect to find rough sections, especially through the mountains where the road is often damaged by rock slides.

Seeing the sea pop into view as you descend towards Tangiers Med port is a sad moment as it means that the Moroccan part of the trip is nearly at it’s end …… at least for this time.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021| 37

Food and Drink

Since It Must Be So ... he title of this piece is the literal T‘sayonara’, translation of the Japanese or ‘goodbye’. Of all the

possible ‘farewell’ quotes I thought it was the least cheesy. This is my final piece for the mag, but before I get metaphorically blown away by a collective sigh of relief from my long-suffering readers, I thought I’d share some thoughts with you, meandering hither and thither with no apparent point. Nothing new there, then.

by John Sherwin

go one better than you – so aim low and grungy and enjoy their confusion. Why are there no ‘bad’ vintages anymore? Two words: temperature control. Before the 1970s the temperature of fermentation was controlled by peasants in clogs either lighting fires under the vats to kick off fermentation or slapping cold cloths around them in an attempt to control it. This didn’t always work according to plan. When the Americans discovered computers in Area 51 in Nevada, temperature control became a cinch, with computer-controlled hot or cold water running through coils inside the vats as needs be. Below 21C fermentation won’t start; over 33C you kill the yeast and you’re left with expensive vinegar. Nothing to do with weather….. but ….

“ This is my final piece for the mag .....”

No such thing as a stupid question. I used to trot this out to wine tour clients and actually believed it, until, that is, I met John (no relation), a youngish American know-it-all who asked me if the vines were irrigated. Not a stupid question. The answer was and is ‘no’, it’s not allowed. You take the rough with the smooth weather-wise. He obviously didn’t believe me as he asked the same question at the first five vineyards we visited, getting the same reply. Then it becomes a stupid question. At the sixth stop, same again. The charming young lady said ‘no, we are not allowed to irrigate the vines… but we can piss on them’. He was a good, quiet boy thereafter. Wine snobs. Someone who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. An American stockbroker in Burgundy (not a great title for a film, sorry, movie) told me he would only taste the grands crus. Not only impolite, but dumb. At any tasting you progress from the less good to the best, appreciating the differences along the way. An old Chinese guy (just to redress the Great Power balance) at a visit to Mouton Rothschild quavered that he had a collection of all their vintages since 1945. Couldn’t be arsed to do the tasting though because the vintage on offer was too young. Really? I mean, really? It’s all willy-waving. Complex. Your host reveals that ‘special bottle’. He pours. You swirl, sniff, sip. You …. hesitate a little, perhaps repeat the routine (not a bad move at all), then you smile and proclaim, with a knowing, collegiate glance at your host, ‘complex’. This means it’snot-bad-and-there’s-a-lot-going-on-I-can’t-describe. Apart from ‘red’, white’ and ‘rosé’, it’s the only word you need in the amateur tasting arena. Oh, not forgetting ‘rustic’, which is a polite word for ‘crap’. My favourite wine? A question I’m often asked. I keep it simple. It’s the wine my friends and I always ordered when we visited our favourite family restaurant in Macau. Grilled sardines, salad with red onions and olives, fries, lamb stew, boiled potatoes, and bottles (and bottles) of vinho verde from Casal Garcia. The simplest, light (9° alc) Portuguese white with a slight spritz. You had to be there at those times, with those people. Time, place, people: these should be your guide to defining your favourite wine. This is a favourite question of wine snobs whose sole aim is to 38 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Climate change. I don’t want to get into the big picture – world ‘leaders’ will have cocked up COP26 anyway by the time you read this – but address the effects of changing climate on grape growing and therefore wine. A higher average temperature will have a long-term impact on alcohol level, sugar, acid and tannins. It will, in a nutshell, change the very character of the wine of any given area. It may well be that even the celebrated vineyards of Burgundy and Bordeaux will have to rethink their grape varieties, changing to ones which can cope better with the heat. Wines from the southern Rhone are already regularly at 14° to 15°+ which is a level where alcohol masks anything else of interest. The pesky Champenois are ahead of the game, having bought up thousands of hectares in the southeast of England. The soil there is the same as in Champagne, and as the weather gradually aligns with that of northern France they will have perfect conditions for their three grape varieties, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. No one likes a mardy smartarse, but that Greta’s got a point. Wine and ‘exotic’ food. Wine makers would have you believe, of course they would, that there’s a wine for every dish. While this is true to a large extent for European cuisines, it doesn’t necessarily follow that everything you put in your mouth has to be accompanied by fermented grape juice. Two of my favourite cuisines – not just to irritate the French, though this is a good enough reason in itself – are Indian and Chinese. I realise I’m dealing in huge generalisations here, but I’ll crack on regardless. Indian food is not about heat, it’s about the infinite variety of spice. Wine could just about handle the basic combo of onion plus garlic-and-ginger paste (just), but add cumin, coriander, chili, turmeric, garam masala etc etc, and a splash of yoghurt, you’re going way off the wine-matching scale. Southern Indians drink warm water with their meals, and who are we to gainsay them? If you must, try a saké or fino sherry. Never lager unless you’re a big fan of unending hiccoughs. As for Chinese food, in all its kaleidoscopic guises, I advocate Chinese tea, i.e. warm

water with some dried leaves thrown in. Please note the recurring warm water theme, and mock not. You will see articles by wine writers suggesting this that and the other wine for both of the above cuisines (usually from Alsace, or a Viognier) but trust me, they speak with forked tongue. They get paid, I don’t. My wine heroes. Wine, dear brethren, as we have seen above, attracts snobs, those who wrestle in the muddy, miserable arena of one-upmanship. Not a good look, so when a whole bunch of them get it in the neck, not to mention bank account, I get all wriggly with schadenfreude. Welcome Rudi Kurniawan, the fraudster who swindled millions out of high-end ‘connoisseurs’. A whole book has been written about the fun and games , and I recommend it for your Christmas stocking, but the upshot is as follows. Young Rudi, of Indonesian/Chinese origin, established himself in the States around 2003. He evidently had money behind him as he built up quite a cellar of classy French wine, particularly from Burgundy. The only true thing about him was that he had an amazing palate and could identify wines at blind tastings which foxed much older, more experienced experts. His bona fides established, he sold cases and cases of ‘exclusive’ bottles which he had knocked up in his kitchen at home using a mixture of New and Old World wines from the local supermarket. He had access to ‘correct’ labels, bottles etc, and all that combined with his reputation was enough to convince his new multimillionaire buddies to part with their cash. Cut to the chase, the Feds caught him in 2013. He was released into a half way house in 2020. At the last count, one of his dupes had run up legal fees of US$20 million to get some kind of recompense (revenge?), presumably to assuage his punctured amour propre. What a Koch. (Bill Koch.)

But who to thank? There are several candidates, of whom the likeliest lad is one Thomas Volney Munson, a Texan horticulturalist, who recommended the types of rootstock which are in use to this day. He was the second American, after Thomas Edison, to receive the French Legion of Honour Chevalier du Mérite Agricole, conferred on him in person in Denison, Texas in 1888 by a delegation of the French government. Clearly, we of the modern age didn’t invent extravagant junkets: nothing new under the sun. Take care of your wine…. and it will take care of you. Not much of a slogan I have to admit, but it’s worthwhile remembering that uncorking a bottle of wine is not the same as cracking open a tinnie. Wine is the product of a series of meteorological events within a certain period, vines tended and cosseted by men of the soil over that same period and picked with care and attention at fruition. A cycle which has never unravelled the same way before and will never again. A vintage. Store bottles, even for short periods, carefully. No light, no abrupt change of heat, no vibration, no strong odours – under the bed in the spare room will do fine; in the kitchen is about the worst place possible. No need for fancy glasses. INAO tasting glasses (Google it) are inexpensive, classic, practical, and good for any style of wine. Be aware of temperature. If red wines are served too ‘warm’ they become flabby; white wines served too ‘cold’ lose most of their aroma. The gamut, whites to reds, is fairly tight, between 8°C to 16°C. Don’t mess around with decanting. Either serve from the bottle, or from a comely carafe. In fact I recommend the practice of ‘carafing’ as the pouring from bottle to carafe aerates the wine and helps to release aromas.

“ Take care of your

wine ... and it will take care of you .....”

On a far more virtuous note, every winemaking community in France should have a statue to the guy who discovered the antidote to the scourge of phylloxera. Quick resumé. Phylloxera is a tiny bug that sucks the life out of vine roots, i.e. it does its dirty work out of sight so that when vines began to die here, there and everywhere from around 1865, no one could figure out why. Put yourself, if you can from your privileged 21st century vantage, in the position of a 19th century farmer whose livelihood is dying before his eyes. You would do anything to put things right, right? And believe me, in some cases voodoo didn’t even come close. Still nothing worked, not even pissing on the vines (see above). Cue scientists – you know, those boring, bearded guys who dance on their own at discos, the ones who made Covid vaccine in double quick time, whose great-great grandfathers saved the French wine industry. I do not exaggerate (moi?): at its worst the plague had destroyed almost 90% of all French vineyards. Think about that. There is, of course, a book if you want to get into a fascinating story, but the upshot is that American rootstock was (and is) impervious to the bug (which is still out there), so all French vines, and most worldwide, are grafted onto American roots. Several wisecracks come to mind, but in the circs a humble ‘thank you’ seems more appropriate.

Patrimoine or ‘heritage’. A certain Sarah Berry said to me, over ten years ago, that she doubted there was much to write about wine that would justify a regular column, but give it a whirl anyway, why not? Well, my dear, here we are, years later, and there’s still so much more for someone else to write about. Let’s not forget this magazine is a resource that we all value, so thanks to SB, Anna and Stephen who received the baton, and Tony and Lynne who are the current holders of said baton. Mine’s a pint. Is that allowed? Merry Christmas!


John Sherwin, French Wine Tours 07 50 90 02 00 or

From all of us who have had the pleasure of reading your articles John, a huge thank you for all the years of humour, interest and information. Enjoy your "retirement", see you soon for a Wine Tour. The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 39

Saugé Vintage Tea Room Château de Saugé

79400 Saivres 06 29 15 36 55

It’s Christmas….…the most wonderful time of the year

December is one of our busiest months of the year with lots of events going on including our local Keynotes Choir joining us for two special evenings. We have Festive Afternoon Teas and Christmas Sunday Lunches in our Vintage Tearoom – it’s wonderful to spend time with so many lovely people at this time of year - so thought I would share a few of our Tearoom recipes with you, hope you enjoy them and Merry Christmas love. Donna Everyone loves a scone, why not try our Cranberry Scones…delish ^ KF ^ v2e/ [ F [[| 225g SR Flour 50g Butter 50g Cranberries 150ml Milk to form dough consistency not sticky Set oven to 180C. Either rub together or use a food processor to combine the flour and butter until a breadcrumb consistency. Add the cranberries and the milk and mix till the dough is formed. Gently press the dough flat – around 1.5 inch thick and cut out your scones, this will give you a good height scone. They will take 10-12 minutes in the oven. Serve hot out of the oven with butter or jam & clotted cream. mmmmm

Ricotta Tarts A great favourite with all our guests

Raisin & Walnut Spice Cake 1 cup Raisins 2 cups Water ½ cup Butter 1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda 1 cup sugar ½ tsp cinnamon ½ tsp nutmeg 1 cup chopped walnuts 1 ¾ cups Plain flour

Make Shortcrust pastry tart cases or readymade. 1 tub Ricotta 1 egg 75g Cheddar Cheese 5g Fresh chives Salt & Pepper Pinch of Cayenne Pepper Finish with 2 slices of Tomato

Set oven to 180C and lightly grease / line a 10 x 10 baking pan. Mix the raisins and water in a pan and boil for 10 minutes, remove from heat and add the butter stir until dissolved and then leave to cool down. Once cool add the flour, soda, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and nuts and mix well, pour batter into baking pan and cook for 35 minutes. Serves 8-12.

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Add the filling to your shortcrust pastry tart case, filling to the top, add 2 slices of a small tomato and a sprig of chive. Cook in the oven at 180C for around 20 minutes until they are fluffy Serve immediately.

Why not make a unique table decoration from things you would find around the house…. A wood tray, candles, pine cones and some spray snow – makes a stunning centre piece.

Need Ideas for those Christmas Stockings ? Why not try these cheap and homemade ones:

Fruit and nuts – Homemade cookies and sweets – Chocolate coins – travel size cosmetics - toothbrush – Christmas socks and gloves – crayons & pencils – tie – earrings – seed packets – gift voucher – keyring – yoyo – small stuffed toy – bubbles – marbles.

Let Every Day Be Christmas By Norman W. Brooks

Christmas is forever, not for just o n e da y , for loving, sharing, giving, are not t o p ut a wa y like bells and lights and tinsel, in s o m e b o x u p o n a s h e l f. The good you do for others is good you do yourself.

Vintage Tearoom &

Top 6 Traditional Christmas Flowers and Plants Amaryllis Poinsettia Azalea Cymbidium Orchids Red Roses Christmas Foliage's

Shop – checkout our opening times on facebook / website

@ Château de Saugé

Buy all your UK Food and Drinks locally

Château de Saugé 06 29 15 36 55

Siret: 84890418100015 Chambres d'hôtes – Gites – Event Space – Vintage Tearoom – Trading Post

Please like us on Social Media:

40 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

CHRISTMAS FAYRE Brie, Apple and Onion Tart

INGREDIENTS 320g pack of ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry, defrosted at room temperature if frozen 1 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil , plus a drizzle 3 large onions, halved and sliced 2 tbsp white wine vinegar, plus a splash

1 tbsp Dijon mustard small bunch of thyme, plus a few sprigs to serve 1 eating apple 100g cranberry sauce (or chutney) 175g brie, sliced Seasoning to taste METHOD Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Unroll the pastry sheet onto a large baking tray (leave it on the paper from the pack). If the edges are not straight, trim them with a sharp knife. Score a border, about 1cm in from the edge. Score a criss-cross pattern over the central piece of pastry (this will prevent it from rising too much) and around the border for decoration. Bake for 15 mins. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onions and cook for 10-15 mins until softened and starting to caramelise. Stir in the vinegar, bubble for 1 min more, then add the Dijon mustard and thyme, season well and set aside. Slice the apple thinly through the core so a few slices have a nice star in the middle and remove any pips. Toss the slices in the splash of vinegar to prevent them from browning. By now the pastry should be puffed and starting to colour. Push down the centre, then spread the onions over and add blobs of cranberry sauce. Top with the apple slices and brie, overlapping them to cover the tart. Add a few more thyme sprigs, drizzle with a little oil, then put back in the oven for a further 25 mins until the cheese is bubbling and the apple slices are soft. Serve warm or cold.

Chocolate and Cranberry Individual Cheesecakes 200ml soured cream 175g plain chocolate 3 tbsp cranberry sauce plus 2 tbsp for decoration If you don’t have shot glasses and want to make 1 large cheesecake, make it in a 20cm loose based tin. METHOD Mix the biscuits with the melted butter, place heaped teaspoons into the base of shot glasses. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Using an electric whisk, mix the Cream Cheese and sugar together, then mix in the soured cream. Whisk in the melted chocolate and then stir through the cranberry sauce. INGREDIENTS 100g amaretti biscuits, crushed finely 25g unsalted butter, melted 200g Cream Cheese (similar to Philadelphia) 50g caster sugar

Using a large plain nozzle in a piping bag, pipe the mixture onto the biscuits in the glasses (spoon into the glasses if you don’t have a piping bag). Top with a little more cranberry and chill for 2 hours.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 41

Mango and Lime Chicken Wings INGREDIENTS 1kg chicken wings Oil of choice for drizzling 200g mango chutney Zest of 1 lime 1 red chilli , sliced Coriander leaves, roughly chopped METHOD Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Toss the chicken wings in a drizzle of oil and some seasoning in a baking tray. Cook for 30 mins. Mix the chutney with the lime zest. Brush all over the chicken, then return to the oven for 20 mins, turning and painting halfway through cooking. To serve, scatter with the chilli and coriander.

Rich Chocolate Truffles

Amaretti Truffles


MAKES ABOUT 16 INGREDIENTS 50g butter 175g icing sugar 75g plain chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) + 125g for dipping 1tsp instant coffee A few drops Almond essence 16 Italian Amaretti biscuits

INGREDIENTS 225g plain or milk chocolate (at least 60% cocoa) 125g butter cubed 10ml liqueur of choice (Brandy, Cointreau, Tia Maria etc) 175g icing sugar Coating – ground nuts , cocoa powder, chocolate vermicelli. METHOD Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Remove from heat and add butter and liqueur. Beat until smooth. Sieve in icing sugar and beat again until smooth. Chill until firm enough to handle. Shape into 2.5cm balls and roll in choice of coating. Place in little paper cases and keep cool until required.

42 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

METHOD Melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water. Dissolve the coffee in a small amount of boiling water and add to chocolate. Remove from heat and add butter and almond essence. Beat until smooth. Chill until firm enough to handle and shape into 2.5cm balls. Press each one onto the side of a biscuit. Melt the remaining chocolate and dip each “truffle” side. Leave to cool coated side up.

MEGAN’S KITCHEN Gluten Free Recipes

by Megan Like



Can also be made dairy free by substituting the chocolate with dark or dairy free chocolate, and using a dairy free spread

Serves 16


200g gluten free biscuits 200g chocolate 135g butter 30g golden syrup 100g mini marshmallows 100g of chocolate/fruit of choice. e.g. honeycomb/ mint choc/ glacé cherries


500g chestnuts 250ml milk 6 eggs, separated 250g caster sugar 100g unsalted butter, softened 100g blanched almonds, ground 100g dark chocolate, grated 1 lemon, zest grated and juiced 50ml brandy

Method: Method: Line an 18cm square tin with greaseproof paper. Break the biscuits and chocolate bars into small pieces. Melt the chocolate, butter and golden syrup in the microwave or in a bowl over a pan of boiling water. Mix in the biscuits, marshmallows and chocolate pieces/ fruit. Pour into the baking tray and spread evenly. Leave to cool. Sprinkle with icing sugar/ extra marshmallows or dribble over melted chocolate to decorate.

Preheat oven to 200 C / Gas 6. Grease a 26cm round springform cake tin. Cut an x into each chestnut then place on a baking tray and roast in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until skins start to peel outwards. Keep oven on but reduce temperature to 180 C / Gas 4. Allow the chestnuts to cool slightly and then peel. Once peeled, place them in a small pan with the milk. Bring to the boil. Simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes until the chestnuts are soft. Drain well, then puree. Cream the egg yolks with sugar, then beat in the butter. Combine with the pureed chestnuts. Mix the almonds and chocolate with lemon juice and zest, brandy and chestnut mixture. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gently fold in until evenly combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 43


by Jacqueline Brown


that enticed us out on the bikes and helped us forget the chores that needed doing at home. The mild weather has also produced an unusual change in our eating behaviour. For more years than I care to remember, salads have been our lunch of choice in the summer, soups in the winter. When we switch, we switch, and there is never an overlap, until this year. Some days have been soup days, some salad and while the sun continues to shine, I’m not yet ready to stop buying the salad ingredients. As a tentative step towards normality, this year our village held a small ceremony for 11th November, open to the public and with a vin d’honneur served in the salle des fêtes, much like it had always done pre-Covid-19. This was the first time the salle des fêtes had been open in over a year, pass sanitaires were checked at the door, social distancing was sensibly combined with socialising, and a much-missed sense of community returned. I have to admit it left me with a smile on my face, albeit one that was hidden under my mask, that had nothing to do with the kirs I’d consumed. There are signs all around that Christmas is approaching. I’ve received my first Christmas card, had my annual date with Père Noel, helping him choose thirty-five gifts for the

44 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

All photographs by Jacqueline Brown

feel I need to confess. Last month I mentioned how I’d planned to fill my November days with structure and purpose, continuing the clutter clear-out I began in lockdown 2, a year ago, and maybe even lift a paintbrush or two. Things haven’t quite gone to plan. The sudden lack of routine was more unsettling than I expected, and my motivation deserted me. I blame the dry, crisp, autumn weather that seems to have given better colour on the trees and hedgerows than we’ve had in recent years. Our heads were turned by the golden glow

under tens in the village, and although I’ve yet to bake a batch of mince pies, I have made the mincemeat using our own apples, walnuts and dried prunes. I’ve also stocked up on all the ingredients needed for the mulled wine to serve with them. Happy Christmas to you all. I hope 2022 brings you good health and happiness. Our commitment to 2022 will be to step up our use of bicycles over the car. Action against climate change isn’t just something for politicians to take responsibility for and the humble bicycle is one of the simplest solutions to reducing carbon emissions, as well as being one that is easily available to most of the population. The Deux-Sèvres has a good infrastructure of marked cycle routes as well as many quieter roads that are a perfect alternative to the main roads. Cycling shouldn’t be something reserved for lycra-clad speed demons, even a short distance cycled at a slow pace will bring you many benefits as you learn to reconnect with your environment. Every short car journey replaced with an active travel alternative will be a positive step to saving the planet, as well as economising on rising fuel costs. Email:

Book Club

Treading on non-existent corns?

by Alison Morton


iversity is a word that gets slung all over the place. Some people pay lip service to the concept; others take it seriously. Some are outraged, some uncomprehending, others shrug their shoulders. I leave the politics to one side as I focus on the implications for writers. We’re all different inside and outside; short, tall, skinny, sturdy with brown, grey, blue, green or hazel eyes. Our skins range from palest white to darkest ebony. We move differently; we lope, run, stumble, amble, stride. And we all have difference values, education and outlooks. And then there’s age and gender. When we write characters, we bring in background and experiences along with traits, hopes and fears. Apart from one or two characters who may reflect us, or parts of us, the rest in our story won’t so we must use our imagination. I sometimes write stories of Ancient Rome. I’m neither male nor Roman, nor a centurion, nor somebody from the 4th century, but I have to project myself into that character’s mindset. He’ll be tough, not necessarily brutal, but he’ll be demanding and assured and expect his womenfolk and household slaves to fall in line. His views will be robust, i.e politically incorrect in 21st century eyes, and he’ll be ready at all times to use his weapons without a second thought. But he’ll enjoy his sports and the races with his male companions plus a bit of gambling on the side and he’ll be fiercely loyal (generally) to his commanding legate and the empire. However unfamiliar we may be with his world and circumstances, as writers we need to be sensitive to them. We are dealing with human beings after all! Our 21st century liberal world is far removed from his, but even so much of the rest of the world is unfamiliar in different ways to our own bubble of existence. The plus side is that people today are so diverse in every way that as writers we have an almost unlimited range to draw on. But (and you knew there was a ‘but’) writers must never fall into the trap of stereotypes or tokenism when they write a character of, for instance, different ethnicity or sexual

preference. Characters in any society should reflect that society. In my modern thrillers, one of the Belgian police inspectors has a Dutch name but a black skin which reflects the country’s colonial past. Many European countries have this in their history. However, he’s a police inspector in his function in the story and plays a strong role in both books in that function. While a character’s appearance or behaviour can give a clue to their backstory, including any person in a story should only be because that character is needed, not because they are ‘decorative’ or the writer thinks they should follow a trend or look cool. But writers shouldn’t avoid any type of character because they are worried about portraying them. Balance and

sensitivity are key. Of course, the context, historical period and geographical setting of the story will influence the type of character in your story; that’s crucial and you don’t want to introduce implausible anomalies. But the richer and more diverse the range of figures inhabiting your story world, the more interesting it will be for the reader. Happy writing and season’s greetings!

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

Her new thriller, ‘Double Pursuit’, the sequel to ‘Double Identity’, is now out.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 45


ean Failler was one of the first French authors I tried when I was still buying “real”, paper books. The heroine of the series Les enquêtes de Mary Lester is a French police detective based in Quimper, Brittany, and the majority of the investigations take place in 21st Century Brittany. The investigations are in general not of a mind-boggling complexity and are centred round the detective herself. There is a lot of interesting description of life in Brittany and of the local social and political situation. Because much of the action takes place in real places, in towns as well as in rural coastal and inland areas, the descriptions match holiday memories and thus become more real. Additionally, one learns more about present-day social and political situations whilst reading a fairly gentle detective investigation. In the past, I read a lot of the Scandinavian detective series, and after a while, I found that they were becoming so grim and fantastical that I gave up on them. Jean Failler’s books were a welcome change.

by Howard Needs

the late 19th Century London and what is known as the Post Office messenger boys scandal, which was unknown to me (later I found reference to it in the TV series Ripper Street). She approached the subject from an unusual angle, and that made the book for me.

“ from Charlemagne to almost the present day ...”

In the first book in the series, Les bruines de Lanester, Mary Lester, a young law graduate, now a trainee detective attached to the Lorient police station, is confronted by a murder for the first time. She does of course solve the crime, and at the same time makes the acquaintance of her new boss, who is present in the rest of the series. The French is not too complex, and a Kindle dictionary copes well with the vocabulary, including police argot and French abbreviations. As the series proceeds, the various crimes investigated take place all round Brittany, and gradually the reader is introduced to not only the towns and countryside of the province, but also its history, customs and usages. Another French author I read early on is Marie-Hélène Texier. I mentioned her in the first article of this series, and will try to fill that mention out a bit here. She writes historical fiction covering a thousand years, from Charlemagne to almost the present day. The language is not complex, she leaves the worst violence of bygone ages out, and the historical accuracy seems excellent to me. One novel that stays in my mind, Les ombres de son passé, is about

46 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

As I understand her books, I would say that she covers historical events from the personal perspective of her main character. I have by no means read all her books; some suit me, others less so, as is the case with most authors. Among the ones I have read, only a few result in series involving the same main character. One quartet that I really liked, En suivant l’archer, follows two years of the life of a young archer – arbalétrier – searching for work and develops the relationship between the archer and a young nobleman, seigneur Enguerrand de Cléry. The plot takes place in the period 1215 to 1217. A rather gentle book really, with a main character with a very solid personality. There is also a three-part side shoot to the archer series, Gautier sur les chemins, involving a chancemet companion. A bit more fanciful in their use of history, these books’ hero, Gautier l’Aubracois, becomes involved with Frederik II Hohenstauffen and, later, one of the crusades. La cinquième vie de Gabriel Montaigu relates the years of the Revolution as seen by a clerk responsible for l'inventaire des biens nationaux. Apart from being a good story about a very ordinary individual, it presents the Revolution and its causes from a rather neutral point of view, neither that of the rabid revolutionary nor that of the blind nobility. What I find extraordinary is that, amid so much violence, hatred and destruction, there was a continual care for the cultural heritage that made, and makes, France. Whilst Prosper Mérimée and his work as inspecteur général des Monuments historiques (1833–1852) are relatively well known, this earlier work of saving and protecting cultural heritage during the Revolution was something I had not encountered. You are never too old to learn, even if it is “just” from a novel. Wikipedia will often have a good article on an author, and Amazon has good synopses of books should you want to investigate further. Amazon is particularly useful in as far as you can download a sample (5%) of a book before buying it.

This Month’s Book Reviews Double Pursuit by Alison Morton

Falling In Louvre by Fiona Leitchn



Review by Jacqui Brown

y local author selection this month is Deux-Sèvres based Alison Morton’s second book in the Mélisende thriller series, Double Pursuit. Having enjoyed book one, Double Identity, I was looking forward to returning to Mélisende’s action-packed life and I wasn’t disappointed. This book is fast paced from the beginning as Mel and her colleagues continue to investigate the arms smuggling network they attempted to break in book one. In Rome, not only are there dead bodies replacing contacts at each rendez-vous point, but her team are in danger too. In Brussels, she is the one under fire, and as she makes her way to Strasbourg and on to the south of France, she is being followed. In London, it is only her quick thinking that saves her and partner Jeff from attack. With her team reduced in numbers and more questions than answers, Mel is in the unusual place of feeling one-step behind a ruthless enemy. I loved the international chase in this book, and the adrenaline and excitement of not knowing where it would take me, or what would happen next, meant I sometimes forgot to breathe. There was rivalry and hostility, but ultimately cooperation, between many agencies and units, although I was never quite sure who to trust. There is a little bit inside of me who would love to be as fearless, strong and clever as Mel, but I’m not sure I could cope with the adrenaline or danger of her life. For all her strengths and ability to think clearly in a crisis, this book also showed her vulnerability, and the real test came when the enemy targeted her weak spot. I never doubted her, but with a climax so personal, I wasn’t quite sure who would have the coolest head at the end of the chase. This was a great read and sufficiently different to many of my usual books, that it refreshed my mind and awakened my senses. If you are looking for a bit of action and a series of books that make you think, I’m sure you’ll love Double Identity and Double Pursuit.

Review by Jacqui Brown ullied by her controlling husband, Henri, Parisian Sylvie knows she isn’t happy but has no idea how much she needs to escape, until an unexpected taste of freedom and independence gives her the clarity she has been missing for the last few years. Never underestimate the power an out of hours cleaning job can give you. Henri and his actions are deplorable, but despite the sensitive and emotive subject, this book is very funny. From the pigeons above the Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur, to the sewer tunnels beneath the famous streets, to the quiet galleries of the Louvre at night, this book swept me off on a wonderfully different adventure in Paris, alongside a cast of misfit characters, all of whom had their part to play in this humorous love story. The scrapes and situations Philippe and Sylvie find themselves in, as they try to find a way to be together, are brilliantly written. The twists and turns of the plot, combined with the witty writing style and the love and friendship that held everything together, left me with a huge grin on my face. I honestly wasn’t expecting this book to be such an entertaining and humorous read, but it proved to be just what I needed to balance the woes of the pandemic. If you are looking for a funny escape that is refreshingly different, I suggest picking up a copy of Falling in Louvre.

Read a good book recently? Why not share your thoughts? Drop us an email to find out how ...

47 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Building and Renovation

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

48 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Siret 879 119 030 00010

All Domestic repairs and installations Free quotes with home visit Based in Exoudun (Deux-Sèvres)

siret: 480 287 390 00029 | est. 2005 in France

Search on Facebook or call 07 87 26 32 54

The French House Satellite TV English free-to-air / Freesat Subscription TV French TV Set up of Netflix / Prime etc. Internet via 4G & satellite

Radius of 90 mins from 79240 Stuart Wallace 07 69 66 98 55

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 49

Advertising in The Deux-Sèvres Monthly is not as expensive as you might think. Up to 15,000 potential customers see the magazine every month. A colour advert this size costs as little as 40€ per month*. Why not find out more by dropping us a line at ... *This price is based on a 12 issue, colour, size B advert (same size as this advert) paid annually in advance. Other options are available and a range of discounts are also available for multiple month adverts.

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

50 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Small Advert from 32€

per month


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 51

52 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021


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

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 53

Business and Finance


s opening an assurance vie saving account viable after you reach 70 years old?

YES, because the amount you invest from this age is entitled to a death duty allowance of 30 500€. This allowance is added to the one you were already entitled to before you were 70 years old (152 500€ per beneficiaries). e.g.: You have invested 305 000€ on an assurance vie saving account before you were 70 years old and named two beneficiaries. This sum of money will be given to your beneficiaries named without any death duties (152 500€ allowance per beneficiaries). After you’re 70 years old, you open a new assurance vie saving account with 30 500€ and name the same two beneficiaries, you can therefore pass on to them free of any death duties 335 500€ (305 000+ 30 500). Furthermore, the interests or gain made by this contract are not liable to death duties. e.g.: You invest 30 500€ after your 70 years. At your death at the tender age of 85, this assurance vie saving account is worth 40 000€ (30 500€ of capital and 9 500€ of interest). The beneficiary you have named will get the sum of 40 000€ without any death duties. As a reminder, here are the allowances before death duties in France (outside Assurance vie saving account): Children :

100 000€

Grand-children :

1 594€

Nephew or niece : 7 967€ 1 594€

e.g.: You wish to leave a lump sum of money to your grand-son upon your death. You write a will in which you state that you are leaving him one of your saving accounts currently at your bank (like a Livret A or PEL) of a value of 20 000€. On your death, your grand-son will have to

Visit our web site No Orias: 07004255

pay death duties of the amount of 18 406€ (20 000€-1 594€). If you invest this money in an assurance vie saving account and name your grand-son as beneficiary, he will have no death duties to pay at all. So, whether you have opened an assurance vie before you were 70 or not, it is worth thinking of opening a new one now!! No, this is NOT a life insurance!! Assurance vie is a saving account! Assurance vie saving account has been so successful that today there are over €1.5 trillion invested in Assurance vie policies. Over 22 million individuals have either invested lump sums or save regularly using this instrument. General information on assurance vie: It’s a saving/ investment account. The money you invest is available at any time. You name beneficiaries when you set it up. You are only taxed on interest, not capital (and only when you take money out). You can set up regular Monthly/ Quarterly or Yearly withdrawal from it. You can invest in it one lump sum (min €5 000) or regular Monthly amount (min €100/Month) or both! You can check what it is doing via your online customer account.

Please do not hesitate to contact me for any further information. I am available at any of our 4 agencies or at your home. And remember to check out our web site for all my previous articles (practical information) and register to receive our monthly Newsletter. You can also follow us on Facebook: Allianz Jacques Boulesteix et Romain Lesterps

Brother or sister : 15 932€ Other :

by Isabelle Want

54 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

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

BH Assurances 22 rue Jean Jaures 16700 Ruffec

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

Health, Beauty and Fitness Mobile hairdresser, specialising in classic cuts and short hair Vidal Sassoon qualified Based near Melle (79190) Tel: 07 88 72 46 76 Facebook: harrisonhair Instagram: gillharrisonhair Siret number: 893 356 006 00013

Everyday Yoga for Everyone How we breathe has an almost immediate impact on how we feel? What do I mean by ‘how we breathe’? I mean the speed, the rate and the force of our breath together with the mechanism of breathing, the respiratory muscles that we engage and how we engage them. Most of the time we don’t notice our breathing patterns. Our breath just goes on in the background, unconsciously. But the fact is that most of us are breathing too fast, and this signals our nervous system to send out chemical messages for hyper vigilance that keeps us in a state of constant anxiety. When we habitually breathe too fast, we can get stuck in ‘sympathetic overdrive’ – where we are on high alert all the time. This puts a lot of pressure on the heart. It interferes with our concentration, our mood and our sleep, even our ability to properly digest our food. And, over time, it also suppresses our immune system. The good news is that we can re-learn, very easily, to adjust our breathing patterns to feel better almost right away. In yoga, there are hundreds of different breathing practices, generally classified as ‘pranayama’. A yoga teacher and breathing coach named Lucas Rockwood recognized that all breathing practices can be separated into three main categories: ones that calm you down when you’re too anxious, practices that lift and motivate you when you’re too low, and practices that balance you out from either being too anxious or too demotivated. Rockwood calls these three types of practices whiskey, coffee and water, respectively. These three categories of breathwork might seem a little odd for a yoga teacher, especially the whiskey and coffee ones! But the point is to understand the effect that these practices have on our nervous systems, and so on our internal experience. I recently had the opportunity to train with Lucas Rockwood to become a certified Breathing Coach. I had done breathwork for decades, and had long been interested in how to make traditional yogic breathing techniques – which are often complex and esoteric - more user-friendly for Westerners but I had always found it challenging to distil these methods into their essence so they could be more easily communicated and understood. Rockwood’s method is game-changing because it keeps all of the benefits of these techniques while dispensing with

by Rebecca Novick

the complexity and esotericism that can create an obstacle for many people who simply want to feel better as quickly as possible. Keep it simple and make it effective were the mantras on the course. The first time I applied the techniques I had learned in his program in a real-life yoga class, the difference was noticeable. It was like a code had been cracked. Suddenly, people were ‘getting it’. They could easily follow and engage with the practices. Most importantly, they could access them any time of the day to self-regulate. I’m very grateful to Lucas to now have these teaching tools to be able to share the power and efficacy of these practices with others. Try a very simple water category practice. This type of practice helps to bring you into balance. Sit comfortably. You can be on a chair but try not to cross your legs and place your feet firmly on the ground. Let your hands rest in your lap. You can also do this practice lying down. Take the focus of your breath from your chest into your belly. Allow the belly to rise and fall with the breath giving space to your diaphragm to do its job. You can place your palm over your belly to help you to connect with this movement. Close your eyes, and inhale slowly through the nose to a count of 4 like you’re counting between lightening and claps of thunder in a storm. Then exhale to the same count of 4 through the nose. Continue to do this for 5-10 rounds with each inhale and exhale being equal to one round. Try to make the breath even. Don’t gulp in the air and don’t sigh it out. Try to keep it even and steady like you’re playing a long note on a wind instrument. After the 10th round, bring your breath back to ‘normal’. This practice is perfect to do any time during the day and only takes a few minutes. If you’re interesting in learning how to breathe your life better, contact me for information on individually tailored 4 session breathing courses available online and in-person: Respect yourself, explore yourself.


Private courses available online and in-person For more information email:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 55

How to retire to France with financial peace of mind nyone recently retired or approaching A retirement is entering a new and exciting phase in life. While some worry retirement will be boring,

many embrace the freedom it offers. If you have chosen to retire in France, you probably fall into the latter category! France certainly offers a beneficial lifestyle for retired expatriates, but long-term financial security is crucial to help you enjoy your retirement years. To achieve this, take a good look at your finances and the way you hold your assets. Savings and investments When receiving a regular salary you can afford to take more investment risk and focus on growth. Retirees, however, need a balance between protecting their capital and outpacing inflation to help maintain spending power throughout retirement. The starting point is to objectively assess your risk tolerance, then identify your specific aims, circumstances, needs and time horizon to craft a suitable, well-diversified portfolio for you. Taxation How you hold savings and investments can make a significant difference to retirement income. While UK tax planning is unlikely to be effective in France, French residents gain access to investment opportunities that might provide much better tax-efficiency, plus other advantages. Pension planning Once you are no longer UK resident it may be less beneficial to leave UK pensions where they are. UK pension income is paid in sterling, which invites exchange rate. And UK pensions remain subject to UK regulations, which may change for non-residents after Brexit.

by Catrina Ogilvie, Blevins Franks

Many expatriates transfer UK pensions to a Qualifying Regulated Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) or reinvest funds into more tax-efficient arrangements for France. This can reduce taxation and unlock currency and estate planning benefits. Research your pension options and fully understand the implications through professional, regulated advice. Estate planning French succession law imposes restrictions on how you can divide up your estate. If the rules do not suit your family situation and wishes, you’ll need to plan ahead. Once you decide who to leave your assets to, establish the most taxefficient way to achieve this, taking both the French and UK rules into account. Look for arrangements that provide tax-efficiency for you today as well as your heirs in future. An integrated financial planning approach produces better results than just focusing on one element at a time. For example, the way you hold investments and pensions can affect how much tax you and your heirs pay and how the assets are passed to heirs. Cross-border tax, wealth management, pensions and estate planning is complex. For peace of mind, talk to a specialist adviser who will take time to understand your circumstances, needs and goals to help you secure a prosperous retirement in France. 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

Do you have assets and income in the UK? Will you find yourself paying more tax? The UK’s autumn budget may not have included any new tax reforms, but the spring budget had a sting in its tail – the tax-free thresholds for capital gains tax, inheritance tax and the pensions lifetime allowance were all frozen until 2026. This is expected to increase tax bills in the long run, earning the government £2 billion. Contact Blevins Franks to explore how you could benefit from moving your capital outside the UK. Restructuring your assets to take advantage of the French tax regime could save you a significant amount of tax. Our strategic financial planning solutions cover taxation, investing, pensions and estate planning, all in one exercise.

Talk to the people who know

05 49 75 07 24


I N T E R N AT I O N A L T A X A DV I C E • I N V E S T M E N T S • E S T AT E P L A N N I N G • P E N S I O N S Blevins Franks Group is represented in France by the following companies: Blevins Franks Wealth Management Limited (BFWML) and Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF). BFWML is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority, registered number C 92917. Authorised to conduct investment services under the Investment Services Act and authorised to carry out insurance intermediary activities under the Insurance Distribution Act. Where advice is provided outside of Malta via the Insurance Distribution Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of Malta. BFWML also provides taxation advice; its tax advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. Blevins Franks France SASU (BFF), is registered with ORIAS, registered number 07 027 475, and authorised as ‘Conseil en Investissements Financiers’ and ‘Courtiers d’Assurance’ Category B (register can be consulted on Member of ANACOFI-CIF. BFF’s registered office: 1 rue Pablo Neruda, 33140 Villenave d’Ornon – RCS BX 498 800 465 APE 6622Z. Garantie Financière et Assurance de Responsabilité Civile Professionnelle conformes aux articles L 541-3 du Code Monétaire et Financier and L512-6 and 512-7 du Code des Assurances (assureur MMA). Blevins Franks Trustees Limited is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority for the administration of retirement schemes. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFWML.

56 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

Wishing you all a happy and safe 2022 | Tel: 06 73 27 25 43 | The Spectrum IFA Group is a founder member of the Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers. • 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 – « Conseiller en investissements financiers », référencé sous le numéro E002440 par ANACOFI-CIF, association agréée par l’Autorité des Marchés Financiers »


The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 57

Property SANTA BABY ...!!!

by Joanna Leggett

‘Just slip a little something under the tree for me ...’

f you’ve been really good this year surely Santa should reward Iwider you with something special? In Deux-Sèvres, the choice is far than the simple Park Avenue duplex Eartha Kitt requested as reward for being an angel all year!

Each Christmas her chanson to Santa rings out on the airwaves and, though recorded back in the day, it still has charm! She has a point as real estate is the best present – a solid investment for the future! With perfect timing to pick a super new home to ring in New Year celebrations, we’ve picked three delicious properties to titillate taste-buds at prices to appeal to every budget. Let’s start with this property (118841) in La Coudre. A quiet village but with the obligatory local bar, just 5km south of Argentonnay - and this is a true Christmas special - two for the price of one! The main house has 2/3 bedrooms with lounge and kitchen which would respond to update! The attached pretty cottage has two floors needing renovation so live in one while you restore the other. But wait there’s truly more, a large garage, five outbuildings plus large barn and good size garden – it’s all for sale at the bargain price of €77,487. Time to alliterate, if it’s picture book perfection which tickles your fancy (not Santa’s whiskers) this picture postcard home (91621) just outside the picturesque village of Xaintray sits bathed in sunlight waiting for new owners – and what a treat!

On a quiet lane with no through traffic, this substantial period property boasts no less than five bedrooms, outbuildings and a covered, in-ground swimming pool set within two acres of land. From the moment you see the stone clad façade smothered in wisteria with azure blue shutters you’ll be transported to another world. Large living spaces (there’s a whopping great fireplace just ready for Santa) and generous bedrooms make this the perfect family home with room to spare for guests. This area is popular with walkers and equestrians alike and La Rochelle is about an hour’s drive! €234,865. Speaking of perfection, this glorious château (A07083) in Chizé looks like the perfect backdrop for the Nutcracker Suite - the perennial family Christmas favourite – can’t you just see tin soldiers standing guard by the gates outside the entrance to your new home? Perfectly renovated and beautifully decorated with nine bedrooms, there are also renovated former stables, swimming pool, orangery and dovecote. With magnificent views over landscaped grounds which sweep over to the banks of the river Boutonne, it’s a perfect family home, or perhaps future boutique hotel, in either case you’ll rejoice in the comfort of this well maintained, centrally heated, elegant château with retains all its lovely original features! €1,470,000. Come on Santa, just hurry down the chimney! Joanna Leggett is marketing director at Leggett Immobilier – you can view their full portfolio of properties for sale in France at






€256,800 HAI

Ref. A09709 - Renovated 250m², 5 bedroom farmhouse with outbuildings and 6000m². ENERGY CLASS: D CLIMATE CLASS: C Agency fees included : 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer


+33 (0)5 53 60 84 88 -


€250,000 HAI

Ref. A09159 - Two impeccable houses, each with 3 bedrooms and a charming garden. ENERGY CLASS: C CLIMATE CLASS: A Agency fees included : 7% TTC to be paid by the buyer




ENERGY CLASS: C CLIMATE CLASS: D Agency fees to be paid by the seller

Ref. A08412 - Beautiful 4 bedroom detached house with garden, pool and outbuildings.

€128,620 HAI






Agency fees included : 9% TTC to be paid by the buyer

Agency fees included : 9% TTC to be paid by the buyer

Agency fees included : 9% TTC to be paid by the buyer

Ref. A09032 - Pretty 3 bedroom house with fireplace, garage and garden. Near amenities.

Ref. A09051 - Partly renovated 4 bedroom house with 1 bedroom annexe and garden.

SARL Leggett Immobilier, 42 rue de Ribérac, 24340 La Rochebeaucourt et Argentine - SIRET : 521 133 835

58 | The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021

€152,600 HAI

Ref. A08791 - Spacious 3 bedroom town house with pretty garden. Town centre location.

French Emergency Phone Numbers

112 General Emergency

15 Ambulance 17 Police 18 Fire Brigade

114 Hearing impaired

115 Homeless Person 116 Missing child 119 Child in danger

196 Maritime emergency

(English spoken)

(videophone, chat, SMS or fax)

Sell your property with us Don’t miss out! We have registered clients looking to buy in your area and at all budgets. If you want to sell with the best, contact us today!


! 05 56 71 36 59 Siret : 501 191 720 00025 APE 6831Z



L’Absie Ref: BVI60632 €220,000

Les Forges Ref: BVI58524 €120,000

SAINT PAUL DU BOIS 99 800€ (VAS1489)

Martaizé 510 000€ (VSA1484)

Attractive detached house 2 large double bedrooms garage and private garden Incl agents fees paid by vendor. DPE En Cours.

Super stone house with 2 bed gîte, enclosed swimming pool, 1.5ha and outbuildings Agents fees included. DPE D

Pers Ref: BVI57972 €344,500

We’re recruiting - join our team! For more info contact:

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly, December 2021 | 59