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THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Welcome to Issue 12 of ‘The DeuxSèvres Monthly’ magazine. Well, what a busy start to the year so far! I can sense that everyone is keen to get going with new business ventures, clubs and hobbies. I find January and February exciting months....starting afresh with a somehow newfound zest and energy...I love it! We are starting the year as we mean to go on and February & March offer the chance for you all to give us your feedback about the magazine and website. We have created a questionnaire which can be completed online, and offers a chance to WIN 100€ of vouchers to help with your home or renovation. March will also be our birthday edition, whilst later in the year we shall be organising a big trade fair in the department. Lots to I’d better get cracking! or Tel: 05 49 70 26 21.


Annual Subscription. If you would like to receive a copy of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’magazine by post each month, please complete this form and send to La Bartière, 79130 Secondigny. Please enclose a cheque to cover postage for the year.

28€ within France, 18€ to addresses in UK. (Unfortunately the cheaper ‘printed papers’ rate cannot be applied to addresses within France, only when sending abroad)

Full Name: Postal Address: Postcode:


Tel: Email: Please make cheques payable to SARAH BERRY.

Emergency Numbers: 15 SAMU, Medical 17 Gendarmes, Police 18 Pompiers, Fire

112 European emergency 113 Drugs and alcohol

© Sarah Berry 2012. All rights reserved. Material may not be reproduced without permission. While care is taken to ensure that articles and features are accurate, Sarah Berry accepts 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 the company you are dealing with are a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere.

CONTENTS What’s On.............................................................................4 Take a break......................................................................10 Our Furry Friends..............................................................11 Health, Beauty & Fitness..................................................13 The Great Outdoors...........................................................14 French Life, Food & Drink................................................15 French Adventures............................................................20 Getting Out & About..........................................................21 Communications.................................................................25 Building & Renovation.......................................................26 Business, Finance & Property..........................................31 THIS MONTH’S ADVERTISERS A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant).............................................. 18 Absolu Paint Stripping Services (Tony Sparks)................. 29 Ace Pneus (Tyre Supplier & Fitter)................................... 21 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC D/Glazing)..... 2 A.I.P. (Estate Agent)........................................................... 34 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder)............................................. 30 Alain Miot (Saw mill)........................................................... 29 Allez Francais (Estate Agent)............................................. 34 Andrew Longman (Plumber)............................................... 27 An English Nursery in France (Garden Centre)...................14 Antiquites Decoration & Galerie du 309............................. 23 A.P.S Automobiles (FORD Garage)..................................... 2 A Vee and Andy Em (Performing Duo)............................... 6 Blevins Franks Financial Management Ltd........................ 32 Brian Fox (Computer Support)........................................... 26 BritsBitz (British Foods)..................................................... 2 Cafe Cour du Miracle........................................................... 17 Café des Belles Fleurs......................................................... 7 Christies (English Book Shop and Tea Room).................... 23 Curtain Creations (Jacqueline Carling)............................... 23 Dave Bowring (Electrician)................................................. 29 David Normanton (Handyman)............................................ 29 David Watkins (Chimney Sweep)........................................ 29 Dean Smalley (Cleaning & Gardening Services)................ 14 Energie-79........................................................................... 26 English (Online Business Directory)............... 9 Garage Planchet (Renault)................................................... 22 Gardens & Stuff .................................................................. 14 Hallmark Electronique (Electricians & Sat. Engineers).... 29 Imprimerie Jadault (Printer)................................................ 3 Insink Plumbing.................................................................... 27 John Spray Maçonnerie (Stonemason)................................ 28 Julie’s Cleaning Services..................................................... 33 La Grande Galerie................................................................ 23 La Joie de Vivre (Gift Shop & Tea Room).......................... 23 Le Logis (Pig breeders)....................................................... 15 Le Puy Remorques (Trailer Hire & Sales)......................... 22 Make It Easy France............................................................ 8 MS Electrique (Electrician)................................................. 28 Mucky Pups (Mobile Dog Grooming).................................. 11 Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurances........................................ 21 Nathan Foster Building Services........................................ 30 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology)............................ 13 Philip Irving (Mini Digger hire)............................................ 30 Philip Wellman (Plumbing Service & Maintenance)............ 27 Plombiere Anglais en France (Plumber)............................. 27 Poitou Property Services.................................................... 33 Premier Autos - Mike Lane (Mechanic)............................. 21 Puppies For Sale (Mike Mortimore).................................... 12 QPR Building Services........................................................ 28 R&A Services (Renovation)................................................ 27 RDK Roofing & Building Services....................................... 28 Red White & Blue (English groceries)................................ 15 Restaurant des Canards....................................................... 17 Restaurant du Lac................................................................ 18 Richard Owen (aka The Fosse Man)................................... 28 Rob Berry (Plasterer).......................................................... 27 Robert Walker Plomberie (Plumbing, Heating, Air con)..... 27 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering)........... 25 Rustic French (Holiday rental)...................... 32 Sandy G (Hairdresser)......................................................... 13 Satellite TV (Nigel Gubb).................................................... 26 sarl Down to Earth (Groundwork & Construction)............. 28 Siddalls (Financial Advisors)............................................... 33 Spectrum IFA Group (Amanda Johnson)............................ 31 Steve Enderby...................................................................... 28 Sue Burgess (French Courses & Translation..................... 8 The English Mechanic - Tony Eyre.................................... 21 Total Renovation Services (Michael Dominey).................. 28 UK Paint Depot (UK Paint supplier)................................... 29 Vendee Pools (Swimming Pools)........................................ 36 Zumba Classes (Tracy Tooth)............................................ 5

<<The Deux-Sèvres Monthly>> est édité par Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tél: 05 49 70 26 21. Directeur de la publication et rédacteur en chef: Sarah Berry. Crédits photos: Sarah Berry et Impression: Imprimerie Jadault, 46 rue du BocageBP405, 79306 Courlay Cedex. Dépôt légal: Fevrier 2012 - Tirage: 5 000 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

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What’s On....February 2012 3rd February - Rotary Club concert. ‘La Clique sur Mer’ perform at Bressuire Bocapole, 8pm. For more info please see 3rd February - Phoenix cards, stationary & gifts The Bar Tipsy, Coulonges sur l'Autize 1600-1800h. Catalogues 2012 & new products available, inc.Valentines cards. Contact Della James 0549057861, enquiries or catalogues 4th February - Fundraiser for Hannah At Salle des Fetes, Sauzé-Vaussais, 10am-5pm. Toys, books, bric-brac, games, competitions, clothes, & tombola. For more details, see page 5. 6th February - Phoenix Cards, Stationery & Gifts Including Valentines Cards. At Cafe des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. 10.00am - 12.00pm. Contact Jo Ashforth 05 49 65 04 09  8th February - Craft Cafe Creatif meeting At Le Dragon, Vernoux en Gatine. For more information or to sign up please email: or telephone Jennie on 05 49 94 22 27. 12th February - Concert by ‘Les Chanterelles du Coulon’ At Coulon Church, 15h30. Entrance free. 14th February - Valentine’s Day Don’t forget your ‘someone special’! 20th February - Mini market At Cafe des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux 21st February – Book Launch, Peter Hoskins At La Grande Galerie, rue du Temple, Civray, 10am -1pm marking the publication of the French edition of his book, ‘Dans les Pas du Prince Noir, Le chemin vers Poitiers 1355-1356’. Peter will also be happy to talk about and sign copies of his book in English.

Markets in Deux-Sèvres. Monday - Lencloitre (1st Monday in month) Tuesday - Lezay, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize Wednesday - Parthenay Thursday - Sauzé Vaussais, Niort Friday - Thouars, Melle Saturday - Chef Boutonne, Airvault, Niort, St. Maixent Ecole

Monthly services in the English speaking Anglican Church in Deux-Sevres:

Jassay: The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, PoitouCharentes, has a Home Group Service at Jassay commencing at 11.00am every 2nd Sunday in the month; it is held at the home of Owen and Ann White. They welcome everyone for a time of worship and fellowship. For further details about venue and services consult our website on   Chef Boutonne: The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, PoitouCharentes, also holds services on the 1st Sunday of each month at 10.30am at Chef Boutonne. After each service, tea or coffee is served and an opportunity to meet other people in the area. Further details about venue and services consult our website on   Parthenay: The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, PoitouCharentes, also holds services on the 4th Sunday of each month at 10.30am in the Presbytery Rooms, rue de la Citadelle, Parthenay, opposite St Croix Church. After each service, tea or coffee is served and everyone is invited to a 'bring and share' lunch. Further details about venue and services consult our website on

Paperback Jan Books in English 1st Feb: Cafe Cour de Miracle, Vouvant. 14h-16.30h 2nd Feb: Bar Le Palais, St Aubin le Cloud. 14h-17h 3rd Feb: Bar de la Paix, Thouars 12h-14h 3rd Feb: Le Tipsy Bar, Coulonges-sur-L’Autize. 16h-18h 6th Feb: Cafe des Belle Fleurs, Feniox. 10h-12h 9th Feb: Pause! Cafe, L’Absie. 14h-17h 10th Feb: Jan’s home, La Ferriére-en-Parthenay, 11h-16h. 11th Feb: Cafe Le Chauray, St Maixent l’Ecole. 10h-14h. 13th Feb: St Martins Bar & Restaurant, Brux. 11h-14h 23rd Feb: Joie de Vivre, Moncoutant. 14h-17h For more info contact Jan on: 06 08 30 73 29 or email: La Vendee Chippy Traditional Fish & Chips in France! Wednesdays (Feb 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd & 29th) Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges.18h-20hr Fridays (Feb 3rd, 10th, 17th & 24th) Bar ‘Au Bon Coin’, Thoursais Bouildroux. 18h-20hr. Thursdays at Mervent will start on 5th April. For more info please email:

What’s coming up... 2nd March, Phoenix cards,stationary & gifts The Tipsy Bar, Coulonges sur l'Autize 1600-1800h. Catalogues 2012 & new products available, inc Easter cards. Contact Della James enquiries or catalogues 8th March: The Filling Station meeting. At The Little Stone Church, 14b Avenue de d’Hôtel de Ville. 79110, Chef Boutonne. Time TBC. See or P.X for more information. 14th March - Craft Cafe Creatif meeting At Le Dragon, Vernoux en Gatine. For more info please email: or telephone Jennie on 05 49 94 22 27.

The National Holidays, Religious and Feast Days 2012: • • • •

Sunday 8 April............. Monday 9 April............ Tuesday 1 May............ Tuesday 8 May............

• • • • •

Thursday 17 May........ Sunday 27 May............ Monday 28 May........... Saturday 14 July.......... Wednesday 15 August.

Easter (Pâques) Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Labour Day (Fête du Travail) WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Vitoires 1945) Ascension (l’Ascencion Catholique) Pentecost (Whit Sunday-la Pentecôte) Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Bastille Day (Fête nationale)

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (Assomption) • Thursday 1 November..All Saints’ Day (La Toussaint) • Sunday 11 November... Armistice Day (Jour d’Armistice 1918) • Tuesday 25 December. Christmas Day (Noël)

Contact Sarah Berry on Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email: ~ page 4


This is Hannah and her Mummy, Beccy. Hannah is just 5 years old, she has an older sister Jessica and a younger brother, Callum. Life for the Howells has changed very dramatically over the past few months as Hannah has been diagnosed with a very rare strain of Leukaemia.

There is a huge hunt on for a suitable BoneMarrow donor and with luck and hard work, one will become available in the very near future and give Hannah a bigger chance of survival. Hannah loves to dance and is usually such an energetic little girl and just like any other 5 year old girl, she loves to have fun and has a cheeky side! These days she is living on a Children's ward with her devoted family taking turns to be with her.

Zumba Fitness is a Latin inspired dance fitness class that uses Latin and International music and dance movements. A class is known as a Zumba Fitness Party and combines fast and slow rhythms that tone the body using an aerobic/fitness approach.

by Tracy Tooth

Everyone can take part in a Zumba class, no previous dance experience is necessary. The idea is that there is a party-like atmosphere so that it is not intimidating for beginners who have never taken part in a group class before. Also if everyone is having a good time they forget that they are actually exercising. It is easy to do and people of any level of fitness can join in. Zumba was created by Alberto ”Beto” Perez, originally from Colombia. He is a qualified dancer who then became interested in fitness and one day he used Latin music in an aerobic class when he realized that he had forgotten his usual music. His class enjoyed the impromptu dance routines and the style of music so much that this led him to create Zumba. The Zumba Fitness Program became official in 2001 and is now popular in over 30 countries.

Thousands of pounds have been raised for the Anthony Nolan Trust who are helping Hannah with her disease but we want to raise some cash for Hannah and her family. It may help with general living as Beccy and Dan are obviously unable to work while their precious daughter is so sick, perhaps we could help by taking some stress away by contributing to their bills. Or perhaps, if Hannah shows any sign of getting a little better they will be able to take their 3 children on a special trip. Whatever they choose to do with it, it may just help. Together, we could make a difference to Hannah’s family’s lives just a little when they need it.

Personally I heard about Zumba from my friends in the UK and was eager to try it out. Wingy Boots of Bressuire held a workshop weekend earlier in 2011 with a Zumba initiation. I went along with some friends and had a great time which just made us want to do it more. Unfortunately there were not many instructors within an easy traveling distance. Since then there is a Zumba class in Bressuire and I have been attending a class in Doue la Fontaine.

Please, please try and help by donating or coming along on February 4th at the Salle de Fetes in Sauze Vaussais.

Anyone can come along and try it out. It will take place in the Salle de theatre, St Paul du Bois (just over the department border into Maine et Loire). For more information please contact:

For more information call Emma: 05 49 07 14 10 or Lisa: 05 49 07 35 78

In November I went to the UK and took an Instructors Course so I am now a licensed Zumba Instructor and will be starting classes in February 2012.

Pommeraie Players In March, we will be treated to the debut performances of a talented new theatre group based at La Pommeraie, appropriately named the "Pommeraie Players". They have decided on a revue for their first offering to encourage participation of their French members, so be prepared to be amazed, amused, astonished and delighted as you listen to excerpts from musicals and watch some of the heavily visual comedy sketches, both of which transcend the language barrier. With a mix of seasoned "Old timers" and complete novices, their talent and enthusiasm has inspired deputy mayor Etienne Fouche, that he has organised brand new stage curtains and will be providing the lighting needed to stage a professional show. Etienne and his wife Nathalie are also performing. With experienced John Allison directing, the Players also have the good fortune to have David Harris (BA Hons Mus) as their musical director and David Parker, former stage manager at Colstone Hall Bristol, as their stage manager. Performances will be staged on Friday March 23rd and Saturday March 24th; curtains open at 20.00, bar available from 19.00. Tickets cost 7,50€ (5,00€ for concessionaires) and are available from the Mairie at La Pommeraie, committee members, or at the door on the night. Anyone (actors, musicians, backstage with experience or not) interested in joining the group, please contact one of the committee via their website: page 5


A Baker’s Dozen of Singers - Les Chanterelles de Coulon... Invite you to their concert in Coulon Church on Sunday 12th February at 15.30, entrance free. The ladies choir of Coulon meet every Tuesday evening in the ‘Centre Social et Culturel du Marais’ for the great pleasure of singing together. You don’t need to be an accomplished singer or even have sung in a choir before to join in and to discover a new gift of making music with the help of an accomplished and talented choirmaster, David Rambaut. All 13 of us sing to our best ability and above all enjoy the rehearsals with new-found friends. French, Portuguese, English and Irish ladies join force to sing a wide range of pieces, from Medieval Latin church music to Brahms liede in German; more modern pieces by Tavener in English and Poulenc in French, and unusual carnival and convivial folk songs, sung in the charming dialects of Provence and Gascony and also in Italian. On Sunday 12th February, this modest but enthusiastic ladies choir will join with the much larger Chorale Alauda from Mauléon to entertain you with a free concert. We hope that you will come along to enjoy our performance and brighten up a winter’s afternoon, and that some of the ladies will perhaps join and swell the numbers of our Choeur des Femmes Chanterelles in the future.

Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

For further information about the concert and the ladies choir please contact Marylyn Kusmirek. Tel: 05 49 76 75 45 email:

2012: A Scouting Jamboree and a Guiding by Sue Burgess Centenery. Vis tes rêves! (Live Your Dreams) is the jamboree for the 11–14 year old members of ‘les Scouts et Guides de France’. 17 000 people will be present at Jambville in the Ile de France area between the 27th and the 31st July 2012. They will be proud to be Scouts and Guides, have dreams and dare to live their dreams. All the year long the different Scout and Guide groups in Poitou Charentes and Deux-Sèvres are participating in activities that will help them to fully enjoy the jamboree in July. Being proud to be a scout or guide, to be a boy or a girl, to grow in self confidence and be responsible for our actions, the youngsters are going to create projects. They are going to dream up something original or artistic and with their leaders, the Scouts and Guides are going to make their dreams come true. For details about a Scout and Guide group near you please email:

Between 2010 and 2012 WAGGGS has been celebrating the centenary of guiding. In Poitou Charentes the ‘Scouts et Guides de France’ will be celebrating this event in Niort on the weekend of the 18th and 19th of February 2012. This weekend has been chosen as it is the weekend which is the nearest to Thinking Day, the 22nd February, the birthday of the founders of scouting and of guiding. On Saturday the 18th, ex-guides and guiders are invited to come and join in an afternoon of debates about how guiding and scouting affect our lives. In the evening their will be a singsong and quiz. The Sunday is aimed more at current members of the movement although all are welcome. There will be different workshops exploring different aspects of scouting and guiding and a ceremony to renew your promise in the afternoon.

Further details are available from

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THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY CRAFT CAFE CREATIF If you knit, crochet or sew and want to meet like-minded people; if you also have a fondness for an afternoon cuppa, cake and a chat, then join us at Le Dragon at Vernoux-en-Gatine for our monthly craft cafe and have some fun sharing tips and know-how. English and French speaking welcome! For more information or to sign up please email or telephone Jennie on 05 49 94 22 27. You can also visit me at

Running Club... What will your New years resolution be for 2012? Lose a few pounds? tone up? keep fit? Train for a marathon? You can do all of these with our new running club for all abilities. A friendly supportive club looking for members. Email Kelly for more details on

Association Meridien Green We are an Anglo- French group which was founded in 2001 for mutual understanding of each other's language and culture. We meet twice weekly in the Salle des Associations in St Coutant, 79120. The best way to find out more is to visit our website or contact Maureen Dalby 0549299450. The name of our group comes from the fact that St Coutant is on the Greenwich Meridian!

2nd Sunday Motorcycle Club has a new club website! Check it out: If you would like to attend our coffee mornings please contact us via the website........ New members always welcome!

Les Amis Solitaires We are a group of people living alone in France. We meet regularly for coffee mornings, lunches and the occasional visit. Our activities centre around Sauzé Vaussais, Civray, Confolens and more recently L'Absie where we hope to start meeting again in the spring. Why not join  us? More details from Nigel 02 51 51 48 13.

Anyone out there interested in air rifle shooting? I would like to either join a club or start one. I live about 5 miles North of Les Maisons Blanches. Please contact S Graham Bell on 05 49 39 44 75.

New Language Group... A young-at-heart French couple would like to start a FRENCH-ENGLISH group in or around the area of Mauléon, to be able to practice their language and meet new people. Both French and English of all ages are welcome! If you would like to know more, please contact Isabelle by email:

The Filling Station Poitou-Charentes We are holding our 1st meeting at The Little Stone Church, 14b Avenue de d’Hôtel de Ville. 79110, Chef Boutonne, Deux Sevres, on Thursday 8th March 2012. Programme as follows: • 2.30pm Listening to God workshop • 6.30pm Celebration Meeting (Light refreshments available) The Filling Station is a network of local Christians who meet together on a monthly basis for spiritual renewal & evangelism purposes. The meetings bring encouragement & refreshment to Christians of all denominations. T o fi n d o u t m o r e , p l e a s e v i e w t h e w e b s i t e : or email:

association? Are you part of a club or an ng up? or thinking of starting somethi Please share the details with us! Call Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 or email: info@thedeuxsevresmon

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Batter and Batter

by Sue Burgess I've only just swallowed the last crumbs of Galette des Rois and the Supermarket shelves are already full of packets of flour, cartons of milk, boxes of eggs and packets of sugar. February 2nd is «La Chandeleur» (Candlemass, which celebrates the presentation of the baby Jesus in the temple) – French pancake day. Tradition means the family will eat a meal consisting only of pancakes, savoury pancakes or «galettes» and then sweet pancakes or «crêpes». Tradition also means that pancakes are tossed in the pan held in the right hand whilst a coin is held in the left hand (if you want to be wealthy all year round). The first crêpe is kept in the cupboard so that the harvest will be abundant. All the candles in the house are lit at La Chandeleur and tradition has it that the Christmas crib should not be put away before this festival which is the last festival of the Christmas period. This year Shrove Tuesday, «Mardi Gras» also falls in February. Another occasion for eating. This time the pancake type mixture is made into «bottereaux», «tourtisseaux», «beignets» and «merveilles». Bottereaux and Tourtisseaux are light airy flaky pastry affairs, sprinkled with icing sugar, and Beignets and Merveilles are more like doughnuts, the batter being deep fried in oil. The names of these delights vary from region to region and town to town. A general name is «beignets de carnaval». «Beignets de fruits ou de légumes» (fruit or vegetable fritters) are also popular. Mardi Gras is Carnival time. Time for partying and feasting before the more sober period of Lent (Le Carême) which begins on Ash Wednesday (le mercredi des cendres). «Mi-Carême» the third Thursday in Lent, is a day of respite and another excuse for eating more Beignets and Tourtisseaux! Vocabulary / Vocabulaire pâte à crêpes.................................

Pancake mix


Savoury pancake made with buckwheat flour

farine de sarrasin..........................

Buckwheat Flour

farine de blé.................................


sucre en poudre...........................

Caster Sugar

pâte à beignets.............................


pâte à pain....................................

Bread dough

sucre glace...................................

Icing Sugar

Mardi Gras...................................

Shrove Tuesday (fat Tuesday)

Le Carême...................................


le mercredi des cendres...............

Ash Wednesday

Taxe foncière’ ‘Impôt sur le revenu’ ‘Carte Vitale’. Confusing, isn’t it?

It has been a year now since Make It Easy France was born. After years of experience with British customers, I realise how France can be a huge problem for foreign residents. Knowing that even for us French, administrative issues are complicated; it has been easy to understand how the problem can be multiplied by 10 when someone can’t speak the language. So here I am, Virginie (‘Vee’ for my clients and British friends), 36 years old, ready to help! Since creating my business, I have noticed that there were recurrent problems for most of my clients: Taxes (number one!), Social Security and ‘Mutuelle’, Banks... The idea of organizing seminars to explain it all came naturally. Why not take the problem to where it all starts? Why couldn’t I be the one explaining to my British friends how to sort out their problems within my own country? I had that bad experience this afternoon at the Tax Office. I was sitting there waiting for my turn and, curious me, could not avoid listening to that English man trying to talk to the lady at the front desk. That lady just kept on talking, not making any effort to, at least, speak slowly. Believe me or not, I felt ashamed for being French. So here it comes, the ‘Understanding France’ one day seminar. Let’s talk about our problems, fears, questions...let’s be prepared to deal with France! The Mad Hatters Kitchen in Caunay (79) are our hosts on February 15th and will be cooking lunch for us! Come along! Feel free to contact me or visit my website for any further information. Guess what? I do speak English!

A la Chandeleur l'hiver se meurt ou On Feb 2, winter goes away or prend vigueur......................... becomes more vigorous A la Chandeleur le jour croît de deux heures.................................

At Chandeleur the days get longer by 2 hours

Lune de mardi gras, tonnère entendra..

If there is a moon on Shrove Tuesday, there will be thunder

Quand mardi gras est de vert vêtu, Pâques met ses habits blancs...........................................

If the countryside is green on Shrove Tuesday, it will be white at Easter

Si le soleil est là pour Mardi Gras, il reparaîtra tout le Carême.

If it is sunny on Shrove Tuesday, it will be sunny throughout Lent.

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Love Poems

Here are three poems to celebrate St. Valentine’s Day from members of the Nord-Deux-Sèvres Writing group. ‘Before Dusk’ was a prize-winner with Poets Annoymous and ‘Pond-Life’ was first published by Ragged Raven. Gordon Simms’ first collection, ‘Uphill to the Sea’ will be published on 22nd March by Biscuit Publishing.

Gordon, Glyn and Jocelyn are organising the first-ever bilingual Litfest in Deux-Sèvres. This three day event takes place in St. Clémentin from the 31st August to the 2nd September. In addition to author signings, readings and lectures there will be workshops on poetry, Word for writers and finding your voice (practical sessions which include breathing techniques and working with text).

I Love You

Various genres are represented, including crime, thrillers, romance, historical fiction, poetry and She rang to say illustrated books for children. Already more than 25 we close until our silhouettes authors have confirmed their attendance. We are Was that all you wante bow, entangle on a makeshift raft: d?’ extremely fortunate to have secured Helen Dunmore rain like lve disso the pearls I wear as principal guest. In addition to reading extracts from I wanted to say ‘The Siege and The House of Orphans’ in both Sh e wa nte d nces to say nightshade adva languages she will be talking about using historical beneath the deadly pear, facts in novel-writing. The Linen Press, from I love you gilded fruit drips Provence, will be bringing a range of their Th ey both wanted to say international publications while the director, Lynn through our fingertips, Mitchel will explain how to successfully present your smudges this frozen lawn book to a publisher. There will be lyric-writers and Glyn Pope live music. Michel Cordeboeuf, novelist, historian and from copper deeps your resilient story-teller will be reading and entertaining the toe audience with his songs. Isabelle Soulard, novelist and s aker spinn s spray in, trails a glitter-cha historian of medieval times will introduce her book Jocelyn Simms ‘Poitivines et vendéens sous l’occupation’.


Before Dusk

(after Gaugin’s Mahana No Atua) Coral clouds haul in the evening. Always she invites me to join the song, but I must keep the mule calm, and now is the women’s dance time, before they unpick the nets, sort and fillet the catch. And I must watch for the boats, their oars like vertebrae caressing the surf, spread like fingers over her spine, after nightfall.

There will be an art exhibition in the 15C Chapelle des Rosiers, while in the square Chez Didier will be open each day. This is a non-profit making event. We are registering Friends of the Festival, whose names will appear in the programme and on the blog. If you want to support by lending a hand in a practical way or by sending a donation please get in touch with Gordon (0549802296) and visit Glyn’s blog, for further information. If you’d like to host an author Jocelyn is compiling a list of accommodation - if you fancy a poet in the garret, let us know.

Gordon Simms


Congratulations to this month’s competition winner, Hazel Foster, 79320 “A winter rose. January and February are usually our coldest months and although it can be bitterly cold, we do see some beautiful hoar frosts which cover all the trees and plants in a layer of ice.”

For a chance to see your photograph on the front cover of our magazine (5000 copies!) please enter our monthly photo competition. Entry is free and limited to one photograph per month. Please see for further details. page 9


Take a break....

Sudoku Corner...

Toughie Crossword! Down: 1. Non-supporter could be conscientious (8) 2. Crossing game? (6) 3. Ray alters if an ephemeral creature (5) 4. Sounds like the team batting is not out there at all? (6) 5. Moreover, Sid is surrounded by buzzers (7) 6. If it’s hot, it may be best to drop it. (6) 7. Flag, we hear, can go round a wheel (4) 14. You need to make it to succeed (3,5) 15. Newspapermen were there when I strode awkwardly (7) 17. State of water before fight in food container (3,3) 18. Insect, one that puts ladies group in dire rage (6) 20. Rent that is becoming whole (6) 21. Support comes from sulphur in iron oxidation process (5) 22. Common home mistake (4) With thanks to M.Morris



Please see website: for answers

Across: 8. A good deal of profit after initial prohibition (7) 9. One gets by, shaping hard wood. (5) 10. One deer metamorphoses into a duck (5) 11. Mimic has one thousand and one before the gallery (7) 12. One level can be a drop we hear? (4) 13. Peel off and trot around outside to transfer futuristically (8) 16. Sounds like wet weather, love, for northern mammal? (8) 19. Need changes to valley (4) 22. Sounds like scraper gets much bigger (7) 23. Revolving part can go both ways (5) 24. A number in new roof is level. (5) 25. New nurse involved in identity mix-up, but was covered (7)

DSM Easy Crossword! Down: 1. A style of vocal entertainment (4-5) 2. Washed the floor with a cleaning utensil (6) 3. An arrogant or presumptuous person (7) 5. A series of acts at a night club (7) 6. Provide commentary (7) 7. Nevertheless, however (3) 8. Light, colourless and inert gas (6) 13. Associated with men and not with women. (9) 16. Passenger on the Mayflower in 1620 (7) 17. Recuperate one’s losses (7) 18. Sticky notelet brand name. (4-2) 20. The path of a heavenly body around another (5) 21. An expression used in frightening animals away.

Across: 1. Widely known and esteemed (6) 4. Short underpants for women and children (usually spoken in the plural) (6) 9. To shorten by cutting off the extremities (3) 10. A cap with no brim or bill and usually made of soft cloth (5) 11. Knee cap (7) 12. A royal domain (5) 14. Mammory gland of bovids (5) 15. A woman who entices (9) 19. Enormous, gigantic in size (8) 22. Involving the entire earth (6) 23. Public slaughterhouse for cattle, sheep etc (8) 24. Express in words (5) 25. Make better (7)

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Our Furry Friends... APPEAL Maya is just three years old and with her son Felix 18 mths, were bought for the Chasse.

MAYDAY MES AMIS Mayday Mes Amis is a new association under the 1901 law which has been formed to help animals in need in l'Absie and the surrounding area. For more information please email: HOOF (Horse Orientated Open Forum) HOOF is open to anyone with an equine interest. You do not need to own a horse! We meet about once a month for talks, visits etc. Interested? Contact Jo Rowe on 05 49 64 22 67 or email:

Frightened of the noise of the guns, their French owner would prefer to have them rehomed as family pets, Maya together or separately. They are both very friendly and affectionate dogs, good with adults and children. A rich Auburn colour they are in good condition. Felix The two dogs are being kept in a large outside covered pen so are a bit lively and longing to be liberated and taken for lots of walks.  They are being cared for in the Deux-Sèvres by their owner and if you would like to adopt one or both, please contact or telephone 09 65 20 67 09.  Assistance will be given for non French speakers. Both dogs will have to be sterilized, vaccinated and microchipped but help will be given with this if required.

Just for Fun.... Our adorable furry friends... Please send us your pictures and any comments to be featured here. Send your entry via email to:

This is Tom, our Camping Car cat. He travels with us in our motor-home and has been as far as Sicily, Sardinia, Corsica, Portugal and Spain. When we arrive at our camp sites, he will pop out for a little look round, and return to the van when hungry. We get some amazed looks from other campers! Karen and Paul Mehrlich page 11


Fostering for Nos Amis Les Animaux

NALA 85480 is a registered Association which helps lost, abused and abandoned animals. We were asked to foster as it is well known that we care about animals, having 2 cats and a dog of our own. Cats have since become our “specialist subject“. At one time we were caring for 7 cats plus 3 of our own and a dog. My husband predicted that if “pooper scooping” ever became an Olympic event he had a chance of winning a gold medal!

you want a cat to cuddle- Frippon's your girl, if you want a “real lad”, Maya. We miss them all when they go and the handover is never easy. But will we do it again? You bet – watching the cats and kittens beats TV hands down! If you think you could help with fostering cats and/or dogs NALA 85480 would love to hear from you.

Our first attempt at fostering was a model example of how not to go about it. In December 2010 we took in a young cat who looked as if her fur had been shaved down one side and part of her tail. The rest of her was beautiful and she was very friendly. She had been in the house for all of two hours before my husband asked, “Well, are we keeping her then?”. So we acquired a gorgeous cat and a steely determination to do better next time!

Nos Amis Les Animaux 85480 (NALA 85480). Tel: 06 48 68 40 37 Email:

The cat was named Mitten (the Kitten) by our nieces. Her fur grew back and she settled in well with our other animals although nobody could have predicted the role she would play with fostering. “Next time” proved to be 3 tiny kittens, who needed bottle feeding. We should have charged an entrance fee for all our friends and neighbours who came to have a look at them. Mitten took to sitting on their sleeping cage and watching them like a hawk. So we let them out and we were amazed to see her groom and play with them as if they were her own. This continued until they each found a new family. Our next guests were two sad, malnourished females who hated to be touched. They sat huddled together all day and never played. They obviously did not like to be confined so I asked my carpenter brother to build a partition to give them the freedom of the upper floor in an outbuilding in safety. These two are still a “work in progress” and I suspect they may be with us for some time. Progress has been made and they no longer run away and allow us to feed them by hand. On a good day will sit on our laps. They are clean, eat well and now play with boxes and balls etc that we have provided in their penthouse accommodation. They have been joined by a cat from our neighbour. He was an unneutered male so, as we did not think it was a good idea to leave him with two females approaching maturity, with NALA's support he was “done”. NALA provide a lot of support for food, litter and vets fees etc, so need as much help as possible with fund-raising. Our latest challenge has been hand-rearing four tiny kittens. They have become independent, clean and sociable and, once again, Mitten played a major role: its almost as if she came to help with our new charges. Two of this litter have found new homes but Frippon (white and tabby female) and Maya ( tabby male) are still waiting. If

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Health, Beauty & Fitness... My Top Ten Tips for Natural Health in 2012 1) Virgin Organic Coconut Oil Book ‘The Coconut Oil Miracle’ by Bruce Fife, find this online. Buy ‘Huile de coco vierge bio’ at Bio Coop in Bressuire or online. Kills disease causing viruses protects against heart disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, prevents aging skin, strengthens immunity, improves digestion. 2) Oil Pulling Therapy Book ‘Oil Pulling Therapy’ by Bruce Fife find this online. Buy ‘Huile de tournesol bio’ in French Supermarket. A simple way to detoxify the body through oral cleansing, all disease starts in the mouth. This helps bad breath, bleeding gums, cavities, toothache, asthma, diabetes, arthritis, migraine, sinus and hay fever problems. 3) Organic Cider Vinegar Buy ‘Le vinaigre de cidre bio’ in French Supermarket. Buy book ‘Cider Vinegar’ by Margaret Hills. This author also publishes another amazing book called ‘Treating Arthritis the drug free way’. Aids weight loss. arthritic conditions, bloating, insomnia, increases energy, and many other things. 4) Mini Rebounder trampoline Buy one of these at Intersport in Bressuire for 32euros. and look up “Rebounders”. Reduces cellulite, aids cell renewal and is 15 times more powerful than any other exercise for lymphatic drainage Improves immunity, releases pain and keeps you very fit. 5) Callanetics exercise by Callan Pinkney Various DVD’s found online. Originally devised for the back condition of curvature of the spine scoliosis, this exercise helps reduce your chances of having frozen shoulder, tennis elbow and carpel tunnel exercise, it realigns the spine, reduces back pain and improves muscle tone as well as toning the figure very quickly. 6) Saddle Stool Search engine will show many websites, also buy secondhand. Improves your posture while sitting at a computer and reduces pain in neck and shoulders and takes away tension from lower spine, improves digestion. 7) Powerbreathe Buy online. Improves shortness of breath and stamina, improves thyroid function and releases the tension around the neck muscles, improves oxygen flow to the brain thus improves morale. 8) Good old fashioned hot water bottle Can buy in your local pharmacy, Supermarket or online. Instantly relaxes the mind if placed on the back of the neck for up to 10 minutes, aids restful sleep, placed on the chest 10 minutes before bedtime this can improve breathing, reduces stress Placed between the shoulder blades it reduces tension throughout the body and placed on the mid back it helps the adrenal glands and improves energy. 9) Hot Footbath Simply need a plastic washing up basin from the Supermarket. If you often feel cold or tired or achy this is a superb “quick fix”. There are 7200 nerve endings which end in the feet, the hot water will effect your nervous system and immediately warm you up all over and increase your energy. Take a bowl of water up to your ankles as hot as you can manage, slowly put your feet into water and rotate ankles and move toes for 10 minutes, then dry your feet and keep them warm with cotton socks. 10)Recommendation to read ‘The Optimum Nutrition Bibleby Patrick Holford’. This book is a must for the family who wants to know why we become ill and how to help our health through nutrition and vitamins. It covers all aspects of maintaining our health in a simple and easy to understand way. Pamela Irving I I H H T International Institute of Holistic Health Therapists For more information, see advert at top of this page. Disclaimer. All of the above ideas are merely suggestions - you may wish to do your own research using the websites given or consult your doctor if you have any concerns.

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The Great Outdoors... The Amateur Gardener

by Vanda Lawrence It's mid-January as I write this and the garden centres are full of Rose bushes, shrubs & trees ready for planting. Thankfully the rain has eased - we have certainly had our fair share this last few weeks, although on the bright side not many frosty nights (as yet!). For those of you desperate to get back out into the fresh air to work off some of the pounds gained over Christmas, here are a few jobs to think about: • Continue planting trees and shrubs; firm up any already planted which have been loosened by high winds & heavy rain. • Clear dead tops of hardy perennials if not already done. • Top-dress established borders with fertiliser; where digging between plants has been deferred because of very wet weather spread fertiliser then dig it in. • Cover fallow soil with glass or plastic to help warm the soil and enable you to sow your seeds 2 or 3 weeks earlier. • Finish hard cutting back summer flowering varieties of Clematis. • Finish pruning fruit trees and cutting back ornamental trees to restrict growth and maintain good shape. • Cover early fruiting strawberries with cloches to protect from any late frosts. • Plant Echalotes in February/March. • Arrange potato tubers in one layer in shallow boxes and keep in a light, frost-proof shed to encourage them to sprout. They can be planted any time from January - April. • Sow leeks any time between January - September. • Sow Broad Beans during February & March - but remember they don't like to have any of the onion family as neighbours in the seed bed! • Sow peas between February June. To speed up germination leave them overnight in water. Those seeds which float to the surface will not germinate so discard them. (NB Peas don't like the onion family either). • Established currant and gooseberry bushes can be cut back this month. Remove dead wood, weak/crossing branches as well as older, less productive branches. Leave about a dozen vigorous branches to grow on and fruit. • Blackberries should be cut back too. Remove wood which has already fruited. Tie in new shoots and prune these where necessary to restrict height and avoid crowding branches later in the year. • Sow Sweet Peas indoors. Roll newspaper strips into 1.5" diameter tubes. Fill each one with compost and stand upright for support inside a large plant pot. Moisten the soil before planting one seed in each tube. You will be able to plant out each tube once the seeds have germinated - the roots will grow through the newspaper. • Another money-saving idea is to utilise empty household containers such as yogurt pots or margarine tubs. Just make sure they are squeaky clean and make drainage holes in the base. Last month I asked you all to look after the wild birds in the garden and I hope you will still continue to feed them and leave water for them. Don't forget though that the seeds you plant in the garden will need to be protected from those same birds once they start to germinate.

February’s Lunar calendar...

Full Moon:7th

1st Quarter:14th

New Moon: 21st

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Bye for now everyone, see you next month.

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French Life, Food & Drink... Vive la Difference

by Gilly Hunt I have just returned from a three week stay in England, which I have to say I greatly enjoyed, but I was ready to come back to France when the day came for my return. Whilst in England I was amazed at the way that technology seems to dominate nearly everything one does. I fear that when I next return, there will be no shop assistants; there will just be self service tills. Even at the airport everything was mechanised and my passport was not checked once until I arrived in France! How the world is changing. But fortunately here in the Deux-Sèvres we are still greeted by a friendly shop assistant saying “bonjour” when we walk into a shop, and as we pass people on a walk they smile and say “bonjour” also. Whilst in England I found that whilst out walking, my fellow walkers did all they could to avoid eye contact, and probably grabbed their mobile phones to call for someone to come and take me away for daring to actually speak to a stranger! Coffee, now I am sure most of us think that France is the country that drinks the most coffee, well in actual fact I am told it is Finland. However, I am sure that England must be coming up a close second these days. For those of you who have been back to England recently have you seen the number of coffee shops and cafes there are? Everyone seems to feel the need to stop and have a coffee or have a coffee “on the go”. At least in France having a coffee has a sense of occasion. You sit in a cafe, or outside watching the world go by. You are served by a cheery waiter or waitress and usually given a lovely cinnamon biscuit on the house. Life is slower in France, and oh I did miss that when I was away.

Keenan’s Corner by Keenan Dominey In 2009, I started in 1er STG (Sciences et Technologies de la Gestion) at Confolens, and it was the first year that I specialised myself in Accountancy.

It was my second year in school at Confolens so I already knew how the school worked and what to expect. At the beginning I found it very easy and interesting. It seemed to be easier in 1er then in 2nd. Because I was in a BAC Technologique, we didn’t have the same lessons as in the General sectors. The BAC is prepared over two years, so every lesson counts. In the first year the most important is to prepare the French exam (in other sections there are sometimes more exams at the end of the first year). During this year, like every year during my years at lycée, there were strikes. This consisted in stopping people getting into school and going into the center to stop the traffic, to show that we didn’t agree with the changing education. The educational reform created strikes all over France. The French exam consists of two tests, the first one is a written exam where we had to write an essay and reply to a few questions, and the second part is an oral test. We were given 10 minutes to prepare a description and analyse text and 10 minutes talking about it and answering a few questions. I got 6/20 in the oral part and 5/20 in the written (it is coef 4). This means I started my BAC with 18 points behind. In the next article I will describe every exam in the STG, how I took my exams, and whether I got it or not.

There is also something else I noticed in England and that was the over use, and yes it is over use, of the mobile phone. Everyone, and I mean everyone, is texting or phoning someone it would seem all the time. Now I admit that I use my mobile to text my children; but I do not walk around with it permanently attached either to my ear or my finger tips. It is so nice to have just walked around my local supermarket in Airvault and not a mobile or selfservice checkout till in sight. Another thing I was horrified at whilst back in the UK was the cost of parking the car, to do just about anything! Even in my home town which is by the sea, one now has to pay to park – which to me is nonsense as this will surely deter tourists. Mind you at a £1 per day, is it really worth it? But the cost of parking in shopping centres is practically prohibitive to going shopping at all, unless you are planning a day out. So yet another plus point for France as parking is free, well except in towns and cities I suppose. Well that is my “rant” for this month, and I hope that all of us living here in rural France continue to enjoy the slow pace of life, the peace and calmness of everyday living and the beauty of our surroundings. Vive la difference. If you are new to the area, ‘The Pays de Gâtine's guide for newcomers’ may be a useful read. For information, advice and contacts, go to page 15


Wintering in the Deux-Sèvres

by Helen Aurelius-Haddock I am writing this as the last rays of the late afternoon sunshine stream though my kitchen window. It’s hard to believe that in an hour or so the dark evening will return, locking out the light until tomorrow. We call it ‘The Dark Time’ in the Haddock household. In November and December, we don't seem to notice the quiet and dark nights as much, as we are never short of things to do, or places to go. In fact, we get so wrapped up with the seasonal frenzy that we often don't often notice other things going on around us, but slowly and surely things start to go quiet. Here, many businesses are seasonal and winter is their time to take a rest and wait out the cold until the first sun of spring returns. Likewise, other events tend to wind down and, before you know it, pretty much everything around is shuttered up in rural France. So, what to do? It's a sure bet that few of us will see friends and relatives using up their precious annual holiday on a chilly February break, and in these difficult times their money, like ours, has to be carefully managed. Flights too tend to dry up from provincial airports, offering fewer chances of spur of the moment visits from loved ones. However, it's vital that we don't let quieter months jaundice our view of our lives here, and at all costs, we shouldn’t become isolated and shut off. It is time to adopt and adapt! As we slowly move forward into the New Year, make sure you maintain regular contact with your circle of friends, both British and French. We may all be resolved to burn off the excess kilos after the Christmas indulgences, but there is no harm at all in keeping up coffee mornings and the odd lunch here and there with friends. Local markets, particularly the Friday market at Thouars, still have a lot to offer at this time of year. The produce on offer is the freshest, and is guaranteed to brighten up a dreary February morning. Many expats meet up at the Café de la Paix on the market square, after shopping, offering another chance to catch up and blow the winter cobwebs away. Likewise, many restaurants, while closed earlier during weekday evenings, still open their doors for the working population at lunchtime. Food prices are so much more reasonable at midday, so a meal out can be both entertaining and thrifty. Moreover, getting out in the daylight hours is important when we blockade ourselves in after dark behind shuttered windows and cosy up to a roaring fire. January and February are the months of resolutions so why not take up a class or two? Most towns (even the smallest) will have a Centre Socio-Culturel, offering all manner of classes and workshops to the general public. Some classes are held at a Salle de Fetes or local school. There are also courses in the most unlikely of places, like the Chateau at Bressuire. Language-learning classes aside, this is a first-class opportunity to improve your speaking and understanding of the French language, while learning a new skill at the same time. Don’t assume that if you are based in the countryside, there is little or nothing going on – au contraire!

When making enquiries for friends and family, I have only failed to find two classes – Flamenco and Fencing! Pretty much everything else is on offer from Hip-Hop dancing to Yoga. Prices are generally reasonable, and can be reduced depending on your circumstances. If your children have flown the nest, the local APE (Association Parents-Elèves) is always grateful for a spare pair of hands when organising their events, which are not just confined to performances by Guignol. They offer great entertainment for all ages – karaoke, songs and stories with wine, lotto (with some serious prizes) and traveling theatre are just a few events I attended last winter. Local walking groups are popular in most villages, as are craft circles and luncheon clubs – held weekly in the case of our small village. Additionally, there are teams of line-dancers the length and breadth of France, stamping to the country and western beat with their cowboy boots and Stetsons (not mandatory). For the French likewise are fond of Tea Dances perhaps allowing you to take to the floor for the first time in years. All great fun and much of it on your doorstep. One of your best allies during the winter is surely your computer and internet connection. It can be a true lifeline, opening up a myriad of opportunities if you know where to look. There are a good number of websites that cater for expat Brits living in France. They allow instant access to a wider network of activities, events and people who are looking to use their time wisely. They can be a font of knowledge as well, for problems with setting up a business, education issues and sourcing pretty much any service from your local fish and chip van to an Englishspeaking midwife! The possibilities are endless to make new friends, connections and get well and truly stuck in to local events and activities. For the ladies of the Deux-Sèvres, there is also a Facebook group called LIFT (Ladies In France Together). Its name is pretty self-explanatory; the group was originally set up for women living in DeuxSèvres, however, such was its success that it has been expanded to cover the whole of France. There are organised events and spontaneous activities from a quick get-together for coffee or a trip to the shops with a friend. The numbers are growing and it is a free and open membership. Whatever your interest, there is something to keep you going through the quieter times in France. The important thing is to ensure you enjoy every season and not just the warm ones. The French countryside is truly beautiful at this time of the year, so make sure you are in a positive frame of mind to enjoy it – come rain or shine! To read culinary musings by Helen, visit:

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 16


Reader’s Restaurant Reviews.

It can sometimes be difficult to decide where to dine out for that special occasion or where to take visitors, so this column may help....we would love to hear from you if you have recently enjoyed a good meal in the local area. A good all round review including prices would be ideal. Thank you to John Sherwin, for this review of a restaurant just across the border into La Vendée. Bar-Restaurant Le Grillon 2 place de Lattre de Tassigny 85390, Mouilleron-en-Pareds A Tale of Two Sundays... Finding a restaurant open for a leisurely Sunday lunch can be tricky. Finding a good one needs luck as well as perseverance. So it was with great good fortune that the four of us found Le Grillon open one Sunday about a month ago. This is a reincarnation of a resto that had seen better days. Tastefully redecorated now, the bar – not much bigger than a snug – leads into the restaurant which has the feel of an unfussy front parlour. We were the only patrons that day, so service was, not surprisingly, prompt and attentive. Do have the house cocktail – this is a great aperitif of Campari, orange juice and sparkling wine. The menu and wine list are small and well thought out – always augurs well. Pizza lovers will be in seventh heaven – the whole range, thin crust, very well made. Other options include roast lamb, escalopes, gambas – you get the idea. Fast forward one month. Restaurant now full – probably about 30 covers. Service slower, but what’s your hurry? This is Sunday lunch. The tasteful gamelan muzak of a month ago has now taken on a disco bass. Frank, if you’re reading this, go back to gamelan please! Lovely lazy lunch as before. Both times worked out at €20 per head for aperitif, main, pud, house wine and coffee. Come the summer, they’ll have tables out in the square, and me and my three mates will be first in line. If good taste and hard work deserve to succeed, then these guys deserve to succeed. I urge you to check ‘em out.

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There are plenty of oranges about at this time of year so why not try this recipe for ORANGE AND POPPYSEED CAKE. This has been sent in by Sean, a young Australian cook doing “The Trip” around Europe and who stayed with our Secretary, Carol for a time. Ingredients: 250g butter, room temperature 200g castor sugar (sucre en poudre) 3 eggs 250g SF flour (farine gateaux) 2 oranges, juice and zest (use organic or scrub really well) 50g poppy seeds, toasted. Icing: 300ml crème fraîche 1 lime, juice and zest (use organic or scrub really well) 50g icing sugar (sucre glace) Method: Pre-heat oven to 160C (if fan assisted) or 180C (if not). Cream butter and sugar together until white and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, making sure to beat each egg in completely before adding the next. Sift the flour and add both orange and poppy seed, fold in, then put into a lined 900g loaf tin. Cook for 1hr + 15 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean. Meanwhile whisk the crème fraîche with the lime and sugar until stiff. Spread over cooled cake and serve. Serving suggestion : candied orange and lime peel on top. If you have a favourite recipe why not send it by e-mail to marked “recipe”. If you would like any information about the work of Cancer Support Deux Sèvres, please contact June Searchfield on 05 49 64 59 96 or e-mail

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February’s Recipes

Cave Man

Orange Curd

Ingredients: • 6 oranges • 2 lemons • 500g butter • 1kg sugar • 10 large eggs Method: 1. Put the zest, juice, butter and sugar in a pan and simmer until the sugar and butter have melted. 2. Transfer to a bowl over a pan of simmering water and then add beaten eggs. 3. Cook slowly stirring with a wooden spoon until thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. 4. Put into warm jars, cover, and let cool. (This mixture should make approx. 3-4 jam jars worth). Keeps up to 3 months if refrigerated or approx. 5 weeks if not. For Lemon Curd – replace oranges for large lemons. Chicken Liver Parfait Ingredients: • 500g chicken livers • 90g butter • 2 x large garlic cloves • 75ml crème fleurette • Salt and Pepper • 4 tablespoons brandy • 1 tablespoon tomato puree Method: 1. Sweat the finely chopped onion and garlic in butter. 2. Add the chicken livers and cook for approx. 5 minutes. 3. Cool then add the cream, brandy and tomato puree. Season, then liquidise until very smooth. 4. Pour into a container and cover with a thin layer of melted butter. 5. Place in the fridge to set. Keep refrigerated and after first opening, eat within 3-4 days.

by John Sherwin

My mate Benoit has a cave. The real deal – compacted earth floor, five-year old girlie calendar, moonshine in 100 litre blue plastic barrels, cobwebbed bottles, 40 watt bulbs. The pneumatic silent witnesses of the calendar apart, it’s always been a chaps’ place. A place where guttural conversations revolve around wine, food, cows and weather while getting blissfully sloshed. It also happens to be the perfect place to store wine. If you don’t have such an iconic cave, not to worry. The main things to avoid when storing wine are light, big swings in temperature, bad smells, vibration and low humidity. Light is wine’s biggest enemy, so dark is good. Best temperature is around 13˚C, but even up to 18˚C or so is OK if it’s consistent within a couple of degrees. Smells like petrol or fried onions permeate corks and therefore wine – garage or kitchen not suitable. Vibration tires wine. Low humidity shrinks corks, lets in air and oxidises wine. If, at this point, you are thinking of dangling a bottle in a stream under a darkening weeping willow, you are not far off the mark and definitely my kind of picnic companion. More practically, why not under the bed in the spare room; the outhouse that’s only used for stuff en route to Emmaus; now I come to think of it, an old fridge from Emmaus. If you avoid the gremlins I’ve identified above, then you’re done and dusted. But what of specialised wine refrigerators? Gewgaws for wags and the vainglorious! Think of it this way. Almost all the wine you buy will be consumed within 24 hours to a couple of weeks. If you are fortunate enough to have wine which will age and develop, it should be stored with specialists. Don’t waste money on fripperies when you can use it to buy good wine to share with your own Benoit. John Sherwin. French Wine Tours Email:,

CONVERSIONS... Oven temperature:













































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French Adventures... We are Tony and Kit Blooman. Together with our now ten year old daughter Natasha, we moved to France in July 2009 from Ilford, on the London/Essex borders. We live near Argenton-les-Vallées in North Deux-Sèvres and we own an Alpaca farm. We had started thinking about a change of lifestyle back in 2002 after working in high pressured jobs for most of our careers. We decided to breed Alpacas when Kit spotted an article in a UK newspaper about the Alpaca industry in the UK. As well as being highly prized for their soft fleece they are, of course, wonderfully cute! We spent months researching and visiting Alpaca farms in the UK and in France, including Andy Spillane's farm featured on the ITV1 programme, ‘Little England’ and started planning our “escape”. However, it was another three years of searching for the right farm and the right village before we found what we had been looking for. A farmhouse of character, good grazing land, close to a community so that we could integrate fully, a good choice of schools for Natasha and walking distance to a bar!! We finally moved here in July 2009. It was a glorious summer and we took an extended holiday to get to know the area. Our farm is ‘Les Brissionnières’, just outside of the village of Le Breuil sous Argenton. The area here is beautiful. We are right on the edge of the plain that stretches east towards Thouars and beyond but we are also on the southern edge of the Loire valley with miles of vineyards, deep river gorges and tranquil lakes. There was so much to do:- house renovations, managing pastures, reviving the kitchen garden and orchard as well as getting to know our neighbours. The summer flew by and before we knew, it was September, Tasha had started at school and we took delivery of our first three Alpacas. We had many new skills to learn but fortunately for us we have some great neighbours who have given us advice and lots of help from fencing to tractor driving to tree felling. Kit has added self sufficiency to her skills list - growing, harvesting, cooking and freezing our fruit and vegetables as well as working hard on her French and helping Natasha with her school work. In 2010 our focus was on the house and the gite which was a big project and in the middle of this we held an open day so people could see our 11 Alpacas. When we first arrived all the locals were curious. A lot had heard about but most had never seen an Alpaca and wanted to know what we were going to do with them. Nearly everyone’s first question was “can you eat them?” My reply was yes but it would be a very expensive steak! Alpacas originate from South America and are related to Llamas and Camels. In Peru alone there are between four or five million Alpacas and are farmed like sheep in Europe, for their meat and fleece. In Australia and North America there are just a few hundred thousand animals but in France there are only four to five thousand and so are quite rare. Alpaca fleece is far softer, has less prickle than sheep’s wool, is durable, hypoallergenic and cool in the summer and warm in winter. Last year we took animals to Christmas markets, fetes and vide greniers to help our aim of increasing the Alpaca industry in France.

We now have thirty two Alpacas on the farm. We have given ownership courses, practical help and advice and sparked an interest in Alpaca owning for a number of people who now own animals of their own. Alpaca owning is diverse. People keep Alpacas to improve animal quality, for producing fleece to make products, as guard animals for protecting other livestock, as “lawn mowers” for keeping pastures down or just for the pleasure of owning them. Looking after more animals did impact the completion of the gite but although we didn’t advertise till June we were booked most of the summer. Some of our guests thought it was a nice base to look around the area, others wanted to spend more time with Alpacas and one family were lucky enough to be here when one of our seven baby Alpacas was born. Throughout 2011 we gave guided tours to schools and groups; were open to the public from April to October and in all had over 300 visitors. Alpacas are curious but timid animals and are very like cats in their nature. They all have individual personalities. Some will let you get close and one or two even will let you cuddle them and an Alpaca cuddle is such a nice thing. They are brilliant around children and love posing for photos with them.

This year we are registered with the Tourist Board and are on many tourist web sites as well as having our own. For the first time we will be taking our best animals to shows and think we have a good chance at winning some prizes. We are looking forward to shearing day in April this year which should be a big event and with so many more animals we will have to ask our friends and neighbours to lend a hand. I am sure that we will not have a shortage of volunteers especially if there is a small repas and some beers on offer! This also means having more fleece processed to supply all the spinners, weavers and knitters that tell us that Alpaca fibre is so easy to work with. 2012 is set to be a fine year as we are on schedule with the farm, have twelve births planned, another bedroom for the gite, shows to attend and are also looking forward to welcoming more visitors and introducing everyone to our wonderful animals. We are open to the public from April 1st to September 30th on Wednesdays – please see our website for details or telephone 05 49 65 31 03 for appointments. If you would like to share your ‘French Adventure’ with us, please email your story for consideration to: For more information, please visit the Written Contributions page on our website: page 20


Getting Out & About... The Caterham Connection

by Helen Tait-Wright As preparations get under way for the new F1 season, changes are afoot in the paddock. One such change is that team “Renault GP” will now be known as “Lotus F1 Team” whereas the team formerly known as “Team Lotus” will now be “Caterham F1 team” after a legal dispute over use of the Lotus name. Both teams will continue to use Renault engines. How confusing. Lotus is of course a well known name in motorsport, with a great sporting history, but who are Caterham? The Lotus/Caterham connection lies with Colin Chapman’s iconic Lotus 7, produced by Lotus from 1957 to 1972 and famously featured in the cult TV series “The Prisoner”. The Seven has always been considered the embodiment of the Lotus philosophy of “performance through low weight and simplicity”. The original model was highly successful with more than 2,500 cars sold, due to its attraction as a road legal car that could be used for clubman racing. Caterham Cars of Surrey had been a major Lotus 7 dealer during the 1960s, and its founder, Graham Nearn, purchased the rights to continue manufacture of the Seven design from Chapman in 1973, after Lotus announced its intention to discontinue the model. Today they make both kits and fully assembled cars based on the original design, and Caterham Cars has been run by an ex-Lotus management team since 2006. The Lotus/Caterham 7 is widely regarded by car enthusiasts and the media as one of the iconic sports cars of the 20th century, with 2007 marking the 50th year of continuous production.


The F1 connection came about when Tony Fernandes, boss of the former "Team Lotus" and owner of the “Air Asia” airline, bought Caterham Cars last year. This new partnership will not only raise awareness of the Caterham brand, but a brand new Caterham sports car is due to be developed for release in three to four years time. Caterham CEO Ansar Ali says ”Anybody who loves fun and affordable cars will want to drive a Caterham in the next few years”. If you want to get in now, the factory-built Caterham range starts at £14,495.00 for the Classic and contrary to popular belief you can get them French registered. There is also now a French dealership; although prices seem quite high in comparison. So thats the road car side of the business taken care of, but what does 2012 hold for the F1 team? Firstly, despite the name changes, the team livery of yellow and green will remain from 2011 making the cars easy to identify. Also the driver line-up remains the same with Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen in the hot seats. The team have gained a new aerodynamicist, John Iley, who has defected from McLaren, and Chief Technical Officer Mike Gascoyne says, "It's time to take the fight to the more established teams and start beating them." A team to watch in 2012. page 21

THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY My name is Lionel Planchet and I would like to welcome you to Poitou-Charentes. I’m the manager of the RENAULT garage ‘Ets PLANCHET AUTOMOBILES’ in St. Germain de Longue Chaume. We are only 10 minutes away from Parthenay on the road to Moncoutant. I can help you with anything regarding your car such as getting a French registration, or any maintenance services. We repair all makes and can deal with all mechanical repairs, bodywork, tyres, brakes, tracking, cam belts, head gaskets, suspension, repair and replacement of windscreens, air conditioning, etc... We can also prepare your car for the French MOT - the Control Technique. Also, whatever your budget, make or model of a car, new or secondhand.... I can find it for you. Just call me. I hope to help you very soon.


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Find the cheapest fuel prices in your area. This government website provides comparative prices on petrol and diesel in all areas of France. Go to: and simply click the department of your choice on the map (Deux-Sèvres = Dept.79) and a list of fuel stations will come up, giving their location and current price.

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 22


Don’t forget to mention ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ when responding to an advert!

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A-Z of the Communes of the Deux-Sèvres.

by Sue Burgess

Bagneux Bagneux is a small village surrounded by the neighbouring communes of Saint-Martin-de-Sanzay, Puy-Notre-Dame and Bouillé-Loretz. The commune is situated close to the Loire-Anjou-Touraine National Park. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • le Pont de Taizon This Roman bridge crosses the Thouet river at Taizon. It has been listed as a historic monument since 1943. To cross the bridge a tax had to be paid. The toll the peasants had to pay was a certain quantity of rye which was grown at Sault. It had to be paid to the charitable order of Saint John of Jerusalem at Prailles. La Bataille La Bataille is a commune in the canton of Chef Boutonne. There are approximately 79 inhabitants. The commune gets its name from the battle for Saintes between the son of Geoffroy, the Count of Anjou and the son of William VII of Poitiers, the Duke of Aquitaine, in 1061. Beaulieu sous Bressuire In 1973 Beaulieu sous Bressuire was one of the nine communes which became associated with Bressuire. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The Arboretum de la Croix Verte. This privately owned garden is open to guided visits two Sundays a month from April to October. The garden has over 1500 different trees and bushes including many different species of rare trees and an old oak with seven trunks. Beaulieu sous Parthenay The commune of Beaulieu sous Parthenay is situated on the old road from Parthenay to Saint Maixent l'Ecole. Outside the market town centre itself, the commune is made up of over 60 separate groups of houses or hamlets. This is essentially because of the number of springs that can be found here. About 60% of the perimeter limits of the commune are marked out by streams. There are many ponds which were formed in the Jurassic age and there is a lot of clay. Granite and mine wastes mean the fields are sometimes punctuated by large stones. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • Le Château de la Guyonnière dating from the XIVth Century with its pigeon loft. The remarkable gardens which can be visited from the 1st June to the 14th July and from the 20th August to the 30th September are reached by crossing a drawbridge over the deep ditches.

• A large part of Beaulieu sous Parthenay church dates from the12th century. Le château de la Meilleraye, is an ancient residence where Charles de la Porte, the Marshal of France stayed. It was built in the XVIIth century on the site of an old castle. Its romantic ruins can only give an idea of the sumptuous dwelling that the chateau once was. Beaussais Beaussais is part of the canton of Celles-sur-Belle. There are about 400 inhabitants. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • Beaussais is the home of the Poitou Protestant Museum (Musée du Poitou Protestant). In the 12th Century Romanesque church which became a protestant temple, you can discover the history of the protestants of Poitou. The museum is open from April to November. Beauvoir sur Niort The commune of Beauvoir sur Niort existed in 1224 as the Villa of Bello-Visu. The commune's name has evolved through Belveer to Beauvais sur Niort, then from Beauvoir to Beauvoir sur Niort in 1893. In 1340 the seigneury of Beauvoir belonged to the Count of Eu and Guines, who owned most of the county and Chizé forest. In 1350, after the execution of the Count, Beauvoir became part of the royal domain. The church of Beauvoir is the church of Saint Jacques. It is a Romanesque church on the road to Compostelle. Partly destroyed during the Wars of Religion and then during the revolution, the church has been rebuilt several times. The spire collapsed onto the church in 1852 and the church had to be closed. A new bell tower was built and a stone spire added in 1900. Two of the buildings on the commune are a witness to the town's former economic activity. The cooperative dairy closed in 1986. The shoe factory operated from 1928 to 1996. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The Moulin de Rimbault was built in 1682. The windmill, with its working sails and millstones, dominates the plain at the entrance to Chizé forest.

• The church of Le Cormenier. The church dates from the XIIth to the XVth century. Even though it was damaged during the Wars of Religion, the building conserves a choir with a byzantine style cupola and a semicircular apse in Saintongeais Romanesque style.

Please return to this section next month to see the continuation of ʻA-Z of the Communes of the Deux-Sèvres.ʼ ~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 24


Communications... How to speed up your PC – Part 6

6. Adjusting Visual Effects The Microsoft Windows operating systems provide lots of options to improve the visual experience of Windows. These features such as animated windows and fading menus, etc. use a considerable amount of operating memory, so if you do not need these switch them off, here is how to adjust these settings: PCs running Windows XP:1. Click the Start button 2. Select Control Panel 3. Double-click the System icon 4. Click the Advanced tab 5. In the Performance box click Settings 6. At this point you may choose from three automatic options plus one custom option a. Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer b. Adjust for best appearance c. Adjust for best performance d. Custom 2. If you choose the Custom option I recommend leaving only the following ticked: a. Show shadows under menus b. Show shadows under mouse pointer c. Show translucent selection rectangle d. Use drop shadows for icons and labels on the desktop e. Use visual styles on windows and buttons 3. Finally, click Apply and OK – Alternatively try your own combinations and see if there is any increased performance. A tick next to an effect indicates that the effect will be used, you can always go back and restore the settings if you do not like the effect or you do not discern any improvement. For Windows Vista and Windows 7, Microsoft introduced the Aero effects, these require a considerable amount of operating/graphical memory to provide glass transparency and 3D style effects, you may choose what to keep by following these steps :For Vista:7. Click Start button (the Windows Orb in the bottom left-hand corner) 8. Select Control Panel 9. Double-click Personalization, click Change the Colour scheme 10. In the Appearance Settings dialogue box, click Windows Vista Basic, and then click OK. 11. Or if you prefer a Windows 2000 – style interface, click Windows Standard, and then click OK.

There are many other options you may wish to explore here, try some out and see how it goes, you can always go back and set them to what they were, now you know how to access them. Just make a note of what is set before you change anything, so you know how to. For Windows 7:12. Right click My Computer and choose Properties, 13. Under control panel home, choose “Advanced system settings” 14. In the System Properties dialogue box choose the Advanced tab 15. In the top section – Performance, click the Settings button 16. In the Performance Settings dialogue box choose the Visual Effects tab, you now have similar options to that of Windows XP: At this point you may choose from three automatic options plus one custom option a. Let Windows choose what’s best for my computer b. Adjust for best appearance c. Adjust for best performance d. Custom 17. The Custom Tab provides many more options than Windows XP, so the best method is to experiment with removing ticks from the boxes and see how this affects the appearance and performance, as a general rule, the less ticks the greater the performance improvement, initially try the same settings as XP and see how things look and perform, you may of course go back and add things you like the look of. I do hope you have found the advice so far, of value; I would love to hear some feedback for those of you that have tried some of the ideas in this and my other articles, please drop me an email on There are only two more parts to this set of articles on how to speed-up your PC. I am considering what to write about once this series is complete. If you have any suggestions or ideas, please let me know and I will research and provide articles in the months to come. If they are too limited in their scope I will endeavour to do some research on the topic just for you and send you some information; simply use the email address above. TTFN, Ross. As ever if you need some help please send me an email, or call between 8am-10am Tuesday to Friday and I will do my best to assist you. Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (See advert below for more information).

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 25


France Telecom English Customer Services:- 09 69 36 39 00

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EDF (Electricity Provider) English Helpline: 05 62 16 49 08 or 08 10 12

Building & Renovation... Saving money on your fuel bills this winter. As a registered heating engineer working in France, I have found many systems where the customer has complained of high fuel bills, especially in the winter months. Mine for one is certainly higher than I would like! There are many ways to reduce your fuel bills; replacing boilers, insulating your home and replacing windows & so on & so on... But one method especially can help and that is to look at your heating & hot water controls, mainly because of their relatively low installation costs compared to the savings they can provide.

Finally, I would like to mention about regular maintenance & the importance of annual servicing. Many properties I visit for the first time are often experiencing problems due to lack of, or faulty servicing. Sooty boilers, worn out components, incorrectly set controls & defective flues are just some of the faults that I find, all of which can be normally rectified by an annual inspection. In my 25 years experience I would say that the annual inspection has the most positive effect on how your system works, not only from an efficiency point of view but of safety too. For more free, impartial advice please contact Chris, Energie-79 on 05 49 27 10 86.

Heating controls - Control of your system. As we all know, the heating & hot water systems in France are different to UK systems. However the laws of physics isn’t and therefore I have found that updating heating controls (to those similar to the UK) can bring you substantial savings. For example, I have found that most homes do not use a room thermostat as a central controller. In fact one of my first customers here was having to walk to the bottom of the garden every night (and morning) to turn his heating on & off! The use of a simple, wireless programmable thermostat enabled him to regulate his heating without even getting up from his chair - the timer is also set to come on & off at required times, turn off when the house is warm & acts as a frost thermostat when the owner is away. Another method of comfort control is the use of thermostatic radiator valves. Although some houses have these there is a lot who don’t. Again, for a relatively low outgoing & with correct use, a thermostatic valve can offer savings to your fuel bills as well as eliminating such problems as under/ over-heated rooms. Hot water - Keeping costs down. Hot water running costs can often also be overlooked. We often worry about our winter heating bills but our hot water is in use 12 months a year. The use of alternative ‘greener’ appliances can relieve us of some of these costs, such as air/ground source and solar (albeit at a cost to install). For most of us who use a simple ‘immersion’ style electric heater for our hot water, a simple nighttime switch can be fitted for a lower rate tariff. Your local electrician should be able to advise you on this.

Artisans & Tradesmen..... Do you have any top tips you can share with our readers? If so, we would love to include them in this section! Please email to:

Annual servicing. page 26


Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 27


~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 28


~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 29


VOCABULARY ~ Trades: Architect............................... architecte (mf) Blacksmith............................ forgeron (m) Bricklayer............................. maçon (m) Carpenter............................. charpentier (m) Caterer................................. traiteur (m) Chartered Accountant.......... expert-comptable (m) Chimneysweep..................... ramoneur (m) Consultant............................ expert-conseil (m) Craftsman/woman................ artisan -e (mf) Doctor................................... docteur (m) Electrician............................ électricien (m) Estate Agent......................... agent immobilier (m) Fireman................................ pompier (m) Gardener............................... jardinier -ière (mf) Glazier................................... vitrier (m)

Handyman/woman................. Joiner..................................... Labourer................................ Lawyer................................... Locksmith.............................. Notary.................................... Painter................................... Plasterer................................ Policeman.............................. Removal Company................. Roofer.................................... Secretary............................... Shopkeeper............................ Surveyor................................ Upholsterer...........................

bricoleur -euse (mf) menuisier (m) travailleur -euse (mf) avocat -e (mf) serrurier -ière (mf) notaire (m) peintre (m) plâtrier (m) gendarme (m) déménageur (m) couvreur (m) secrétaire (mf) marchand -e (mf) géomètre (mf) tapissier -ière (mf)

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 30


Business, Finance & Property... Ask Amanda.

After introducing myself in last month’s edition of ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’, I thought that this month I would give you the opportunity to meet me in person. Whether you would like an informal chat over a coffee in La Grande Galerie at Civray or come to an organised seminar at the historic Fontervraud Abbey, I would welcome the chance to see you during February & March.

Since September 2011, I have been running a financial surgery on Tuesday mornings at La Grande Galerie, Civray ( The aim is to give people the chance to ask questions relating to their financial position and what changes there have been in tax & inheritance laws or their own personal circumstances since their last review. The relaxed environment allows us to quickly see whether you would benefit from a more in-depth & free consultation. If it has been some time since your last financial review, perhaps you would like to attend one of the road shows we are running in conjunction with Currencies Direct, to get a flavour of what The Spectrum IFA Group does and how you can benefit from the services we offer? The next seminar I am running is on 20th March at Abbaye Fontervraud, near Saumur. The Format will be: • 09:30 Welcome coffee and pastry platter • 10:00 Forum commences (there will be 8/9 companies who will give a 10-15 minute presentation). To keep the topics varied and fresh, only one company will represent a specialist area i.e. investments, pensions, healthcare, mortgages etc • 12:30 A light luncheon buffet accompanied by local wine and soft beverages will be served allowing delegates to network with other delegates and the speakers To register for this free seminar please contact myself or email: You can also telephone Pippa Maile at Currencies Direct on +33 (0)6 72 09 64 95. I look forward to seeing you. Amanda.

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Do you have a question for Amanda?

Please drop her a line and she will respond to you personally. We shall select the most helpful questions and answers to be printed here in future issues. Ask Amanda at:

HOLIDAYS FOR HEROES CALLING ALL OWNERS OF HOLIDAY ACCOMMODATION.. Gîtes, Chambres d’hotes, Caravans etc. Do you have a spare week in your booking calendar during 2012 that you would be prepared to donate to an injured member of the British Armed Forces? We have a small Gîte attached to our property and last year we decided to offer a free week’s holiday to someone in that category. Unfortunately, the young soldier who wanted to take up our offer with his wife and baby, was very limited to dates as he was still undergoing hospital treatment fairly regularly for serious burns he had sustained in Afghanistan. But this year, we are determined to extend our offer again and hopefully will welcome someone in need of a week’s rest to this beautiful part of France in which we live. WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN DOING THE SAME? Your accommodation does not necessarily have to be wheelchair friendly or adapted for disability access. As well as those with a physical disability, many service men and women who return from areas of conflict are just in need of peace and quiet. Many who are invalided out of the armed services find themselves unable to afford the luxury of a holiday. The week you offer can be out of season if you wish, so that no revenue is lost. The terms of any booking will be agreed directly between the Gîte owner and the recipient, e.g a refundable deposit against breakages etc can still be charged if required. The basic premise is that the accommodation is free. We have already received offers of accommodation from local Gîte owners, and hope to compile a list to send to the ‘Help for Heroes’ charity, who have gladly agreed to forward the information to their members. Other people have offered airport transfers and help with fund raising if required. WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN BEING PART OF THIS CHARITABLE VENTURE ? If so, please telephone or e-mail us to register your interest and obtain further details. Thank you. Paul and Judith Meads. Tel: 0549 95 92 76 Email:

page 31


2012: Higher taxes for higher earners by David Franks, Chief Executive, Blevins Franks. We already saw a number of tax reforms in 2011 and now those debated by parliament towards the end of the year have come into effect. The fixed tax rate applied to interest and dividends has increased from 19% to 24% from January this year. You now lose 37.5% of your interest earnings to tax as they are also subject to 13.5% social charges. This measure is targeted at higher earners since you have a choice of whether to pay tax at this fixed rate or at the normal scale rates of income tax. If your income tax rate is lower than 24% you would not opt for the fixed tax rate. When it comes to income tax, the “exceptional contribution” for higher earners is confirmed and applies to income received in 2011 (so tax payable this year) and 2012, as follows: - 3% on the portion of income between €250,000 and €500,000 - 4% on the amount over €500,000

There was no adjustment for the income tax bands for income earned in 2011 so they remain the same as 2010. The ceilings, limits and allowances usually indexed in line with inflation are unchanged from 2010. Wealth and succession tax rates and allowances have also been frozen. Taxpayers are expected to pay an extra €1.7bn this year as a result. Investors have lost the general capital gains tax deduction and exemption on the sale of shares held for more than six and eight years respectively. The tax can instead be deferred if certain restrictive conditions are met. In spite of all the recent tax changes it is still often possible to use approved arrangements to lower your tax liabilities in France. For example, assurance vie policies remain a tax efficient vehicle for French residents’ capital. Contact a firm like Blevins Franks for advice on your situation. To keep in touch with the latest developments in the offshore world, check out the latest news on our website

This is for individuals, so married and PACS couples have double the thresholds.

te ho use Advertise yo ur priva .. sale here. 10€ per month om Fr ail to: Send details by em monthly.f r info@the deuxsevres

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 page 32


The Euro Crisis

by David Hardy The sovereign debt crisis in the Euro zone has been undoubtedly the dominant subject over the last six months and 2012 shows no signs of the ongoing problem letting up, with fears remaining about some of the member states’ debt levels. With this economic situation as a backdrop, it is understandable that many individuals now raise questions about their own position, and in particular with their investments, so, in this article we share and discuss the questions we have been most frequently asked. Is the Euro going to last? That depends on what you mean by “last”. If only for political reasons, it remains unlikely that the Euro will be dismantled, since Paris and Berlin would lose a significant amount of face if the Euro project collapsed. Moreover, it must be said that all of the “troubles” related to the Euro have had little real effect on its value against other currencies. However, if you mean will it last in its current form with seventeen different fiscal policies and national interests pulling against each other, the answer is much more difficult to answer, and possibly no. Germany is a shining beacon in the European economic landscape at the moment and the Germans are pretty fed up with having to pick up everybody else’s pieces. So, it is quite likely that we will see a “change in the rules” for the Euro with the Germans taking the lead. Should we be getting out of Euros? The basic principle is that, if you live in France, your spending needs are in the currency of that country and, if you have your money in that currency, movements in exchange rates do not affect you. Were the Euro to see significant changes your money will not disappear! Whatever happens, France will still have to have a domestic currency, be it the Euro, the new French Franc or anything else. Therefore, if the Euro should wind up, a conversion would take place to change existing Euros into the new currency, just as the reverse occurred when the Franc was replaced by the Euro. Whilst many blame the Euro for a general increase in prices, if a country switches from one currency to another, basic spending power in local currency is retained, so there is no reason why a French resident should move out of Euros. Thus, any move to change your capital to another currency represents an investment risk, based on your conviction that the other currency will rise in value against the Euro (or its replacement). If you are looking to make a profit on the back of currency movements, you are happy with the risks involved and have the necessary market information at your fingertips; this can be a perfectly valid strategy and can be profitable; although you must be willing and able to take a reasonably high level of risk, since, as we have seen, currency markets can often be highly volatile. However, it is more likely that people are asking the question, “should we be getting out of Euros” in fear of a complete collapse making their money worthless; which as noted above, is unlikely to occur. Where a move out of the Euro into Pounds Sterling, for example, has been a valid strategy, is where you have definite plans to move back to the UK in the next couple of years. In that case, “locking in” the current exchange rate and therefore the gain that many of you have made since you have been here, is a sensible move, for your future budgeting. David Hardy, Poitou-Charentes Regional Manager for Siddalls France, who have been providing impartial independent financial advice to the British community for over 15 years. Tel: 05 56 34 71 77 page 33


Are changes afoot?

by Peter Elias. I have just returned from the France Show at Earls Court, and if there is one thing that was very evident from the show, it is that Brits are still desperate to escape the UK and move to their No 1 choice destination – France. Over the weekend our stand was mobbed with potential clients, all keen to make the «big move», some for retirement, some as holiday homes, and some younger families looking for business opportunities. In general, the people were better prepared than they were 10 years ago, when our company first attended the France Show in 2002. They had done their homework, were quite well advised about the purchase process, and in most circumstances had a clear strategy moving forward. Each survey that I see in the UK on the subject of retirement, offers higher and higher percentages wanting to make a permanent move across the Channel. That is all very positive news, and whilst the £ remains above 1.20 against the Euro, the number of enquiries we receive as an agency tends to hold up quite well. Don’t forget that around 6 months ago the rate was around 1.10, so that is an appreciation of over 9% for UK buyers in half a year.

charge for. Even better for golfers, clubs & baggage go free. They fly into Nantes, but that is an easy drive to the courses at Les Forges (Menigoute) and Le Petit Chene (Mazieres en Gatine), no pun intended. With the Ryder Cup coming to France soon, we are expecting a bit of a surge in properties on or close to good golfing facilities. If you are within a few minutes of a golf course and planning to sell in 2012 we would love to hear from you and explain our strategy. Finally, a few words on the subject of currency exchange. I still find it amazing that some people still use their banks to move currency back and forth between France and the UK. Sure, your bank will offer foreign exchange as part of it’s business, but for a specialist company, foreign exchange is their business, and much better rates result. To help you discover how this can work for you call me on 05 55 28 46 40 and we will reward you with £100 deposited into your trading account, when you move £5000 or more via our dedicated dealers. Peter Elias (Agent Comercial) Email: Tel: 05 49 27 01 22

At the end of January, the new rules for French Capital Gains Tax (CGT) came in for most people. If you held the property in the name of an SCI the rules had changed back on 25th August 2011. The new CGT charges are made up of 19% tax (unchanged), and 13.5% social charge (from 12.3%), calculated on the gain after the tapering relief, which has been seriously reduced. If you are UK resident, you will not be liable for the social charge, only the tax, but the vastly reduced exemptions are where the real impact will be felt, and now the gain will not be fully exempt until 30 years ownership have passed, (previously 15 years). These new rules have led to some vendors significantly reducing prices to try to bring in a sale before 31/01/12, and it will be interesting to see what they plan to do if they do not have a sale concluded by the required date. Do they stay at the lower price or raise the asking price again? We shall see. One more market trend that we have noticed, is definitely a move away from the bargain basement price sector, and a higher level of activity in the middle price bands, and upper price sectors. It seems that many well off clients are purchasing with the aid of a mortgage (with no redemption penalty), in the hope or expectation that the Euro will crash and they can pay off the discounted loan in the future. Even if that doesn’t happen it sounds like a sound strategy, as I can’t see the Euro gaining much against the £ in any circumstances. 2012 is going to also see our business Allez-Français develop a bit further as golf property specialists. We have a number of properties in the Poitou Charentes, (and also some further south in the Dordogne Valley), where a special deal is available. For golfers in particular, an airline such as CityJet are a god send. Not only are their flight prices reasonably low cost, but you are allowed a proper baggage allowance, complimentary in-flight refreshments etc, all of those things that other carriers

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The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine, February 2012  

Free English language magazine for the department of Deux-Sevres and surrounding areas.

The Deux-Sèvres Monthly magazine, February 2012  

Free English language magazine for the department of Deux-Sevres and surrounding areas.