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THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Welcome to Issue 13 of ‘The DeuxSèvres Monthly’ magazine. We have made it to our 1st Birthday! It’s been hard work, but worth it when I hear such positive comments from both readers and advertisers alike. Thank you to all of you who have contributed, helped, distributed , and most importantly advertised! Onwards and upwards for the next 12 months! If you can spare 5 minutes this month, please may I ask you to complete the online Reader’s Questionnaire. Your feedback and comments really will help us in the future, and there’s a chance to win at the same time! What are you waiting for? (Closing date 31st March 2012.) Have a pleasant’s hoping Spring is on it’s way! 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 is a registered trading company in France and/or elsewhere. <<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: Mars 2012 - Tirage: 5 000 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

CONTENTS What’s On.............................................................................4 Take a break......................................................................10 Our Furry Friends..............................................................11 Health, Beauty & Fitness..................................................12 The Great Outdoors...........................................................14 French Life, Food & Drink................................................16 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 Abattage Service (Slaughter House).................................. 17 Absolu Paint Stripping Services (Tony Sparks)................. 26 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 Ann Summers France.......................................................... 13 Antiquites Decoration & Galerie du 309............................. 23 A.P.S Automobiles (FORD Garage)..................................... 2 Au Pont - Market Day & Vide Grenier............................... 9 Blevins Franks Financial Management Ltd........................ 32 Brian Fox (Computer Support)........................................... 26 Cafe Cour du Miracle........................................................... 17 Café des Belles Fleurs......................................................... 18 Chris Bassett Construction................................................. 30 Christies (English Book Shop and Tea Room).................... 22 Currencies Direct................................................................ 31 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........................................................................... 27 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 Jilly Rosenberg (Mobile Hairdresser)................................. 13 JMB Distri (Pet Food Specialist)......................................... 11 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)....................................................... 17 Le Puy Remorques (Trailer Hire & Sales)......................... 22 Mad Hatter’s Kitchen........................................................... 16 Mark James (Stonemason).................................................. 28 Matthew Morgan (DJ).......................................................... 9 Michael Hobson (Painter & Decorator).............................. 28 Montplaisir (Resturant and dancing venue)........................ 17 MS Electrique (Electrician)................................................. 28 Mucky Pups (Mobile Dog Grooming).................................. 11 Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurances........................................ 21 Nathan Foster Building Services........................................ 30 Naturallys (Home-made Beauty Products)......................... 12 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 R&A Services (Renovation)................................................ 27 RDK Roofing & Building Services....................................... 29 Restaurant des Canards....................................................... 18 Rob Berry (Plasterer).......................................................... 30 Robert Walker Plomberie (Plumbing, Heating, Air con)..... 27 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering)........... 2 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 Stephen’s Property Renovations......................................... 30 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 Houses (Estate Agent).......................................... 35 Vendee Pools (Swimming Pools)........................................ 36 page 3


What’s On....March 2012 2nd March - Phoenix cards, Stationery & Gifts The Bar Tipsy, Coulonges-sur-l'Autize 1600-1800h. Catalogues 2012 & new products available. Contact Della James 0549057861, enquiries or catalogues 2nd March - Live Music with Daddy Mass At Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. From 8pm. See advert, P18. 3rd March – 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. 5th March - Phoenix Cards, Stationery & Gifts At Cafe des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. 10.00am - 12.00pm. Contact Jo Ashforth 05 49 65 04 09  8th March: The Filling Station meeting. At The Little Stone Church, 14b Avenue de d’Hôtel de Ville. 79110, Chef Boutonne. See or P.5. 9th March - Irish themed night At A La Bonne Vie, Le Beugnon. See advert, P.18 for more info. 11th & 18th March - Karen Wheeler Book Signing At the Mad Hatter’s Kitchen, Caunay. See P.6 for more details. 13th March - Karen Wheeler Book Signing At La Grande Galerie, Civray. See P.6 for more details. 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. 16th March - «Histoires et Légendes de Parthenay» Conference in French, at the Palais de Congrès, 20h30. Presented by Frédéric Gersal, historian from Poitiers. Entry free but there are limited seats. Please reserve by tel:  05 49 71 29 72 or by email: 16th March - Quiz Night with Cheryl At Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. See advert, P18 for info. 17th March - Paddy’s Supper At Mad Hatters Kitchen, Caunay. See advert, P.16 for info. 24th March - Music/Bistro Night At Mad Hatters Kitchen, Caunay. See advert, P.16 for info.

Paperback Jan Books in English 1st Mar: Bar Le Palais, St Aubin le Cloud. 14h-17h 2nd Mar: Bar de la Paix, Thouars 12h-14h 3rd Mar: Cafe Le Chauray, St Maixent l’Ecole. 10h-13h. 3rd Mar: Le Tipsy Bar, Coulonges-sur-L’Autize. 16h-18h 5th Mar: Cafe des Belle Fleurs, Feniox. 10h-12h 7th Mar: Cafe Cour de Miracle, Vouvant. 14h-16.30h 8th Mar: Pause! Cafe, L’Absie. 14h-17h 29th Mar: 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 (Mar 7th, 14th, 21st & 28th) Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges.18h-20hr Fridays (Mar 9th, 16th & 23rd & 30th) Bar ‘Au Bon Coin’, Thoursais Bouildroux. 18h-20hr. Thursdays at Mervent will start on 5th April. For more info please email:

Local Markets Monday (1st Monday in month) - Lencloitre (dept.86) Tuesday - Lezay, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize, Thouars Wednesday - Parthenay Thursday - Sauzé Vaussais, Niort Friday - Thouars, Melle Saturday - Chef Boutonne, Airvault, Niort, St. Maixent Ecole Sunday - Neuville (dept.86)

Clocks go forward on midnight, 24th March Don’t forget to set your clocks before going to bed!

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 on every 2nd Sunday in the month, it is held at the home of 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

What’s coming up... 7th April - Market Day, Vide Grenier & Fish ‘n’ Chips At ‘Au Pont’, Gourgé. See advert on page 9 for more info. 14th April - Fête in aid of Cancer Suport Deux Sèvres Salle des Fêtes, St. Jouin de Milly

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

Sunday 8 April............. Easter (Pâques) Monday 9 April............ Easter Monday (Lundi de Pâques) Tuesday 1 May............ Labour Day (Fête du Travail) Tuesday 8 May............ WWII Victory Day (Fête de la Vitoires 1945)

Thursday 17 May........ Ascension (l’Ascencion Catholique) Sunday 27 May............ Pentecost (Whit Sunday-la Pentecôte) Monday 28 May........... Whit Monday (Lundi de Pentecôte) Saturday 14 July.......... Bastille Day (Fête nationale) Wednesday 15 August. 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

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

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!

Secondigny Running Club... Put the bounce back in your step this spring. Join our friendly and supportive running group. All abilities welcome. Email Kelly for more details:

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!

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. 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:

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.

Any Surfers out there that fancy sharing costs when surf’s up? Moncoutant / Bressuire / Largeasse area. Please call Rysz: 06 42 35 97 11


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.

Congratulations for your efforts in producing the magazine in which we have been very involved individually and through our Charities since it`s inception. It has been useful for advertising dates of events and reporting results, and also other articles such as `Whats On`, History of the area, gardening tips and restaurant reviews have also been useful and interesting. Keep up the good work! Will & Jo Rowe

New British Scout Group

Do you have children (boys or girls) between the ages of 8 & 11? We are two fully trained, experienced Scout Leaders. Ian was a Cub Leader and Group Scout Leader and Sandra was a Beaver Leader, a Cub Leader and District Cub Commissioner in England. We moved to France four years ago and found that we missed Scouting which had previously been such a large part of our lives. We joined a French Scout Group as leaders with the Louveteaux (the equivalent of English cubs) but discovered that unfortunately Scouting French Style is very different to Scouting in England. So we have decided to open a British Scouts Abroad Group starting with a Cub Pack. This will be based in the L’absie area. It will be a member of the British Scout Association and will follow the prescribed programme. Our vision for the future is that the Scout Group will run all sections starting with Beaver Scouts ages 6 to 8 going right through to Scout Network ages 20 to 25 but we need to start small and then grow. If your child/children are interested in joining a British Cub Pack please contact Ian and Sandra Robinson by: Tel: 05 49 65 13 69 ~ Email: NB. In order to open the Cub Pack we will need 2 further committed helpers. If you feel you can offer your services please let us know. No previous experience is necessary just a warm heart and a sense of humour! page 5


Author Launches New Book

Monday 12th March: book signing from 6.00pm onwards at ‘Fish & Chip night’, at Bar Les Tilleuls, Champniers, 86400. Tel 05 49 87 08 99;

Karen Wheeler, author of ‘Tout Sweet: Hanging Up my High Heels for a New Life in France’ and ‘Toute Allure: Falling in Love in Rural France’ is set to launch her latest book this month.

Tuesday 13th March: book signing from 10.00am - 1.00 pm at La Grande Galerie, 7 Rue de Temple, 86400, Civray. Tel 05 49 87 73 02

Here she shares some of the useful things she has learned since moving to France. Karen with

her dog Biff. Why French Men Wear Speedos (And Other Lessons I’ve Learned Since Living In France) I can’t quite believe that it is almost seven years since I moved to France. In that time, I’ve eaten tête de veau and pig ear pâté, plucked vast quantities of watercress from a nearby grotto and been chased by a combine harvester (who knew they could move so fast?). I’ve also learned quite a lot about la vie française. So, with apologies for one or two generalisations – all done with the greatest of affection for my host nation — here are some useful pointers that I’ve picked up along the way.

1. The Poitou-Charentes is famous for its cantaloupe melons, goats’ cheeses and Pineau. To this, I would also add Echiré butter, which is made in Les DeuxSèvres and believed by many to be the best in the world. Churned in traditional teak barrels to give it depth of flavour, it apparently owes its superior taste to the quality of the local grass, rather than the breed of cow that produces the milk. The lightly salted version, €2.40 is wonderful, tout simplement on a piece of baguette. 2. ‘Ah, bon?’ is a an excellent, multi-purpose phrase, especially if you haven’t quite understood what is being said. French people also use it – accompanied by a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders – to indicate that they are unimpressed/displeased by what you are saying. 3. If in doubt about anything, ask at the mairie. 4. The oysters least likely to seek a fast exit from your body are size 3 ‘specials’. The word ‘special’ means they have been turned many times. Size 1 oysters are the biggest and oldest (eight years old) and the most likely to make you ill as they’ve had longer to absorb toxins, size 2 are seven years old and size three are six years old. (A surprising number of readers have emailed to thank me for explaining this in my first book, Tout Sweet.) 5. The reason why French people love to drive close enough to pluck the GB sticker from your bumper on the motorway, while simultaneously chatting into a hand-held mobile phone, is because the fine for doing so, isn’t very much. 6. An electric blanket, thermal vest and a well-stocked woodpile are your best friends in the winter months. 7. It’s only ever other people who find vintage Hèrmes handbags for a few euros in vide-greniers. 8. 2003, 2006 and 2009 were excellent years for Bordeaux wines. 9. If an artisan is available immediately, ask yourself ‘Why?’ The best are booked, many months – in some cases, years – in advance. 10.And finally... Frenchmen wear Speedos because baggy shorts are banned in public swimming pools. (Though this still doesn’t explain why they wear them two sizes too small.)

Thursday 15th March, 8.00pm: Karen will be giving a reading at the Entente Internationale meeting, at the Lycée les Terres Rouges, Rue Jean Moulin, Civray. Tel 05 49 87 21 28 for information.

News from Le Pays de Gâtine You may not have received an Attestation from CPAM for this current year. If this is the case, don’t panic, it is quite normal as a written Attestation is no longer necessary. Your Carte Vitale is enough. The CPAM are trying to save costs and this is one of them. Don’t forget that from time to time you need to bring your Carte Vitale up to date by putting it in a ‘credit card like’ machine, known in French as a “borne”, which you can find in various pharmacies. It is important to have your blood group card on you at all times. This is known as your « Carte de GROUPE SANGUIN et FACTEUR RHESUS ». Ask your doctor if he can give you a prescription for you to get one made up. It saves precious time if ever you need to have a blood transfusion. Don’t forget that if you travel out of France but within the European community and you come under the French Health Care System, you must take with you an up to date “Carte Européenne d’Assurance Maladie”. You can obtain your card from the CPAM or MSA. It is credit card size and fits easily into your purse/wallet. If you have any questions, please email:

Several people have found me and my services through The Deux Sèvres Monthly. SB

Mardi Gras for Plibou

The community of PLIBOU banished their winter blues this year with a Mardi Gras carnival. This was held in the afternoon of the 25th February and greatly enjoyed by every one, adults and children alike. It all began some weeks previously with a workshop for the children where they painted their flags and made various home made musical instruments which were much in evidence on the day and certainly added a carnival atmosphere to the afternoon.

Karen Wheeler’s latest book, Tout Soul: The Pursuit of Happiness In Rural France [€10], is published on 7 March. She will be appearing at the following events:

The afternoon began about three o’clock with a march around the streets of Plibou, there was a great deal of flag waving and crashing of improvised castanets and drums. Even the most soporific residents were awake by this time! Then back to the Salle de Fete to spend another noisy but enjoyable hour.

Sunday 11 March & Sunday 18 March: Th e M a d H at t e r ’s K i t c he n , L e Breuillac, 79190, Caunay. Karen invites you to join her for a pre-lunch cocktail and book signing from 12.30 pm onwards.

This year we were very lucky, JUST BRASS 79, a local Brass Band offered to come and entertain us for an hour. This was much appreciated by everyone who was present, as the foot tapping illustrated. The afternoon was made complete with refreshments and a slice of the wonderful cake in the shape of a ‘Teddy Bear’ made by the organiser of this annual event, local resident, Chris Crane. page 6

THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY and introduce her latest collection, The Malarkey, published in 2012.

The Feast at the Festival – St Clementin LitFest: Day One This is to let people know what is on offer for the first day of the LitFest at St Clémentin on the 31st August 2012. The day begins with a visit from The Linen Press, publishers of women writers from all over the world. They have a reputation for producing high quality books. Lynn Michell, the director, together with Rhona Scullion will outline the challenges and rewards of running an independent press in today’s publishing world. They will also give would-be authors hints on how to catch the eye of a publisher. Our star guest Helen Dunmore reads from The Siege, The House of Orphans and The Betrayal. Reading groups are most welcome to join in this session. Helen will discuss the use of historical fact in fiction in all three novels. She is an acclaimed novelist, winner of the Orange prize, the McKitterick prize and long-listed for the ManBooker. The Siege was short-listed for the Orange and Whitbread awards and is a brilliantly insightful novel about survival in wartime. Its eloquent and moving prose will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page. Of The House of Orphans The Scotsman said, ‘There isn’t a dull page. A remarkable achievement, firmly establishes Dunmore as among the best living novelists.’ The Betrayal was hailed by The Independent on Sunday as ‘Magnificent, brave, tender’ and as ‘A masterpiece, extraordinarily powerful’ by Grazia. The day continues with offerings by: Lorna Penney, a voice practitioner based in Glasgow. An experienced workshop facilitator, Lorna will teach you how to breathe and explore your vocal range. Lorna works regularly with Nadine George at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama, and with the Royal Scottish Opera. Yoga forms part of her work with groups and individuals. Lorna welcomes, actors, singers and all those who seek to find their inner voice. Roger Elkin, an award-winning poet with eight collections in print, is a renowned reviewer and literary advisor. His talk Shared Voices in the poetry of Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath will focus on the poetry of these two giants of 20th century literature. He will illustrate their textural borrowings from one another, giving an insight into their tempestuous relationship.   The Linen Press return with readings by Hema Macherla and Lynn Michell’s own White Lies, a novel set in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising. ‘Gripping...with a bombshell of an ending.’ said Michele Hanson in The Guardian. Later we visit the crime scene with Bill Kirton, novelist, playwright, actor and director, Bill has published six novels, a children's mystery and five non-fiction books. Join Bill in his workshop: write a crime story in an hour! Around afternoon teatime we shall feel the need to relax with Roisin McAuley and her soothing Irish accent. Roisin is a former reporter and BBC presenter of Kaleidoscope and Night Waves. She will explain how she became a romantic novelist, revealing French Secrets. This leads us to a Short Story Forum with New Zealand author Barbara Unkovic and others who will discuss the short story format. What are its pitfalls, strengths and weaknesses? What are your favourite short stories? You will receive some tips on how to write a short story - and how to market it. Towards the close of the afternoon Helen Dunmore, who has won the Cardiff International Poetry Prize, been short-listed for the T.S. Eliot Prize and, in 2010, won the National Poetry competition will read some of her poems

We keep a poetical mood by inviting Katherine Gallagher to lead a Poetry Forum. Katherine has published seven collections and her poetry is widely translated. She’ll be joined by David Cooke, Roger Elkin, Brian Clark, Gordon Simms, Wendy Wright, Bernard Lord, Glyn Pope and Thelma Laycock to read and discuss poetry. After dinner there is an opportunity to attend a performance of a sequence from Searching for Signs by Gordon Simms (Winner of the Biscuit Challenge 2011) and John Hudson will launch his latest collection Earth. (Luath Publications, Edinburgh, 2012). Please reserve your place for any event that attracts you as places are limited. Next month I shall highlight the authors, workshops and events planned for the second and third days of the LitFest. Download a programme from Jocelyn Simms will be offering workshops highlighting poetry by Helen Dunmore and Katherine Gallagher. If you would like Jocelyn in your area email her at or telephone 05 49 80 22 96

Tea and Cakes at Reaction theatre

What a good idea someone said! We had discussed changing our evening production on the Saturday to an afternoon Matinee. Would anyone come on an afternoon or would the football be too much of a pull? Well, we just had to try it! “Maybe some might prefer Saturday afternoon so they could watch ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ in the evening”. But how could we enhance the British flavour? “Tea and Cakes” someone said. We could not have been more surprised at the numbers who chose to come to the Matinee (although it was a wonderful production!) and the queue in the interval for a “nice cup of tea”. Phew! hard work making a 100 cups of tea! Good News.... we are doing it again! Thursday 26th April an evening performance at 8.p.m. Friday 27th April again an evening performance at 8p.m. BUT if you prefer an afternoon of entertainment come to our Matinee on: Saturday 28th April at 2.30 p.m. What are we doing? “Around the World in (about) 90 minutes (approx)” it’s a variety show with an international theme, some old favourites but some new material. Come prepared to have some fun and laughter on our voyage around the world. For more information and for booking tickets look at our website:

I have been advertising with Sarah since she started this paper and have seen it progress, month by month. For me the results have been exceptional. I look forward to a second year, and wish Sarah all the best. Mike Curtis.  An English Nursery in France.

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

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March Hares and the First Signs of Spring

by Sue Burgess The Salon de l'Agriculture (Agricultural Show) is always held at the end of February / beginning of March, in the exhibition centre at Porte de Versailles in Paris. This year it runs from the 25th February until the 4th March. In 2011 there were 1142 exhibitors and 4667 animals present at the show. Apart from being the showcase for the best animals, the show is also the occasion for the best known politicians to do a walk-about, shake a few hands and gain votes. So particularly important this year in the event of next month's presidential elections. The Nice Carnival began in February and after three weeks of festivities will come to an end in March, as will the Menton Lemon Festival (La Fête du Citron). Another show is held in Paris in March, the Salon du Livre (Book Show). Editors show their most recent publications and readers can choose from the new books on show. Authors are present to sign books. Lent began with Ash Wednesday on the 22nd February. Mi-carême is the third Thursday of lent (9th March this year) and as on this day, the Church allows a break from the austere time of lent, we have yet another day for eating crêpes and beignets (pancakes and doughnuts or fritters).

la tulipe............................................ Tulip la primevère.................................... Primrose sucre glace....................................... Icing Sugar Mardi Gras...................................... Shrove Tuesday (fat Tuesday) Le Carême....................................... Lent le mercredi des cendres................... Ash Wednesday le coucou......................................... Cowslip (flower) le coucou......................................... Cuckoo (bird) la violette ........................................ Violet le bourgeon..................................... bud une hirondelle................................. Swallow “une hirondelle ne fait pas le “One Swallow does not make printemps”...................................... the Spring”

France puts its clocks forward an hour during the night of Saturday 24th March – Sunday 25th March. At 2am it will be 3am. Le Lièvre de Mars, the March Hare is one of the characters in “Alice in Wonderland”. The expression “mad as a March hare” (“Fou comme un lièvre de Mars”) was a common expression at the time Lewis Carroll was writing. The expression certainly comes from the number of hares seen at this time of year and from the behaviour of the female who rejects the first advances of the male, by putting up her front paws as if ready to box. As ever, nature gives lots of sayings connected with the month of March... “Au jour de la Saint Colette commence à chanter l'Alouette” “The lark begins to sing on St Colette's day (6th March).” “Taille tôt ou taille tard, rien ne vaut la taille de Mars” “Prune early or prune late, nothing is better than pruning in March.” Une giboulée is a short heavy shower which happens at the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. In everyday French the word is often linked with the month of March, les giboulées de Mars since it is at this time of year that they are the most common. The Spring equinox 2012 will be on the 20th March and so this will be the official “first day of Spring”. Generally we start to hear the cuckoo singing at the end of March, a sure sign that spring is on the way and so here's hoping that the saying “A la Saint Benjamin, le mauvais temps prend fin” (On St Benjamin's day, 31st March, the bad weather comes to an end), will be true! Vocabulary / Vocabulaire les giboulées de Mars..................... April Showers la grande marée du printemps......... Spring tide un(e) perce-neige ........................... Snowdrop la jonquille...................................... Daffodil la jacinthe........................................ Hyacinth

I have been advertising in The Deux-Sèvres Monthly for more than 6 months now, and I have gained many new clients who have found my number there. Sarah is very pleasant to deal with and my adverts are always well placed and professionally printed. I would highly recommend advertising in the DeuxSèvres Monthly if you are running a service for expats in Deux-Sèvres or Vendée. Brian Fox

Diamond Jubilee Celebrations.

by Linda Reffold The new association Aidez created for raising funds for local charities, and who organises the 'Christmas Market' in Terves every year, has decided to organise a celebration for Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee. It will take place on Sunday 3rd of June 2012 in the field of Will and Jo Rowe in Fenery. The idea is to have a 'posh' garden party picnic, so bring your own food with your tables, chairs and candelabra if you wish. Music of the 60's and 70's has already been booked. The party will start at 4pm and go on to 9pm. There will be a small entrance fee for adults, to be decided, and funds will go to a local charity. We do hope you will all come and have a good time. Tickets and directions will be on sale later.....Watch this space!

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 8


VêVo English Boutique

Summer DJ’ing

A Spring Collection of fashion clothes by VêVo, an English boutique, will be staged at the Café des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux on March 24th. Chosen exclusively for the Café the range of easy-towear, casual day-wear includes dresses, tops and jumpers, in a range of sizes and one-size items which may be perfectly co-ordinated with a selection of practical summer bags, scarves and necklaces as accessories. The Spring Collection focuses on affordable casual clothes at great prices and has been arranged by English boutique owner, Nathan Andrews in conjuction with new proprietors of the Café des Belles Fleurs, Tricia & Ken Isaac. Clothes will be on display and available for sale from 11am to 5pm and home-made cakes and coffee will be available throughout the showing. This is the first of a series of quarterly seasonal collections available solely at the Café des Belles Fleurs, with men’s and children’s clothing being introduced later in the year in the Summer and Autumn Collections.

As a person desperate to get out to France for long, long visits, Matthew The DJ hit upon the idea of sponsoring his holidays by doing some DJ’ing. A quick look on Google showed him that quite a few Brits like to get married in France, so a couple of Emails and a hastily designed website later, he is well on the way to a long summer in France 2012. Having fired off a speculative email to Chateau Le Durante, he discovered that they do 25 weddings a year, and do struggle to find DJ’s etc. Also pulling in plenty of interest from his Google Adwords campaign, he now has several confirmed bookings to look forward to. “I would like a few more of the holes in my diary filling, if possible”, Matthew explains. The sort of functions he would be happy doing are Weddings, Private Parties, Town or Village functions, for visitors, Ex-Pats or locals. He has been a successful DJ in the UK for many years and worked in some of the North of England’s finest venues. “I can cater for small to medium sized parties from 25 – 3/400 guests.” In fact, one of his most memorable weddings was a Half French, half English Wedding in a Marquee in Doncaster. The best man did his speech in 7 languages, and the Chief Bridesmaid did a passible rendition of La vie en rose. Both sides of the family danced long into the night, although the “French party, did have to lend a couple of CD’s!” See Matthew’s ‘For "one night only" - Tour of France Summer 2012’ website, for more information, and if you think you may be able to get him a gig, please get in touch. (Google British DJ in France). Vive la France. Tel: 00 44 7719 928402,

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

The DSM Monthly Photograph Competition


Congratulations to this month’s competition winner, Tony Emmett, 79800 “A female Siskin visiting our Bird feeding station. They are agile, acrobatic birds and think nothing of feeding whilst hanging upside down.”

Having recently celebrated our 10th anniversary as a business, we are delighted to take the opportunity to wish DSM a Happy 1st Birthday, and continued success. Keep up the excellent standard ! Peter Elias

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. Gives point to strange northern phrases (8) 2. BT exchange makes deal with hairdresser (6) 3. Turns apparently are blowers? (5) 4. Goes along with grease concoction (6) 5. Nazi fugitive meets Scottish boy in sackcloth (7) 6. A cream mixture for capturing posers? (6) 7. Actually, let it stand, briefly (4) 14. Cape they adapted to cover facial injury. (8) 15. One thus far behind time is put apart from the rest. (7) 17. Oddly, going north gets one a brace. (6) 18. Mistake worker for nomadic knight. (6) 20. Stranger follows many in unsteady walk. (6) 21. Some in the pit make meat product. (5) 22. The others may be brought into play for awkward pot-shots? (4)


With thanks to M.Morris

Hard Please see website: for answers

Across: 8. Call after male article makes sense. (7) 9. Former performance is spot on (5) 10. Rodent newspaperman is highly thought of (5) 11. Simplest form of tease is required (7) 12. State achieved when anger follows direction (4) 13. Playing spade, (ace), is an adventurous thing to do (8) 16. Singer puts his material before disturbed rest (8) 19. Sounds iconic, but could work harder? (4) 22. Unusual real rug for one who comes in every night (7) 23. Country among those in diamond trade organisation (5) 24. Little bird making short work of it? (5) 25. Strange uncle in charge of the ! acid in cells (7)

DSM Easy Crossword! Down: 1. In the local area (6) 2. To pour; move in large numbers (4) 4. Not any (4) 5. A sweet flavoured liquid, a substance believed to cure all ills (6) 6. Accept what is claimed (11) 9. Tot up (5) 10. Not yet used or soiled; improperly forward or bold! (5) 11. River mouth (5) 12. Well skilled; thoroughly proficient (5) 14. Sharp stab of pain (6) 15. Attractiveness (6) 19. Type of fabric (4) 20. Largest of the continents (4)

Across: 1. Tidy up (6) 3. An appetizer (6) 7. The act of pushing something away (9) 8. Nocturnal mammal (3) 10. Financially punished (5) 12. Famous American boxer (3) 13. Person who dreams on his feet! (11) 16. For what? (3) 17. Carniverorous doglike mammal (5) 18. Foot digit (5) 21. Perceive to be the same (9) 22. A Christian celebration (6) 23. An absence of emotion or enthusiasm (6)

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Our Furry Friends... 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:

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

APPEAL There are so many worthy applicants for this month's appeal.... There's Angel, a two year old black Lab/Briard cross, intelligent and great with children but needs more training. Or how about the 5 year old Beagle, taken by the family who've had him since he was a puppy, to be put to sleep? For cat lovers, there are always beautiful cats & kittens in the concrete cages of the Niort pound, whose survival depends on whether or not someone adopts them. For details on all these and more, please see:



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:

Here is Ginger, guarding her vested interest in the winter fireside after adopting us two years ago. After a history of living rough in nearby fields, including stealing sausages from a neighbour’s barbecue, she now behaves and has never had it so good!   Terry Hawker, L’Absie.

Tiffany is one of the lucky ones; most of her 9 years have been spent neglected in a small cage but she has now been placed in a safe and caring foster home. However, Tiffany's story is not quite over - she still needs her forever family. Tiffany is loving, obedient and in suprisingly good condition considering her circumstances. For more information go to: If you think you could offer a home to any of these animals, please email: None of the re-homings would be possible without the dedication and hard work of people who care about animals. Hope Assoc Tel: 05 49 27 26 20 or email:

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 11


Dealing with Animal Neglect

The recent cold conditions have highlighted cases of animals being kept in sub-optimal (that's a polite way of saying “appalling”) conditions. It's mainly dogs that seem to suffer with owners attaching them to chains all day long and not providing adequate shelter or access to (unfrozen) water. Unfortunately French law allows dogs to be chained up providing the following conditions are met: the dogs should be attached with an appropriate collar to a chain of min 2.5m-3m, food and water should be available, their kennel should be above the ground, of good quality, clean, insulated, oriented to the south, supplied with bedding in winter, etc. The suitability of living conditions for animals is covered by Arrêté du 25 octobre 1982 relatif à l'élevage, à la garde et à la détention des animaux, chapter II. So what should you do if you spot an animal that you think is suffering from neglect or mistreatment? One thing that we have to make clear is contrary to what we are generally used to in our home countries, the small animal protection organisations in France such as Nala 85480 have no authority to intervene. Nevertheless, by using a mixture of bluff and persistance we sometimes can get the appropriate authorities to act. The official body that should deal with cases of animal neglect/mistreatment is the Direction Départementale de la Protection des Populations, formally known as the Direction

Health, Beauty & Fitness... New Products by Naturallys

by Suzanne Thorne

Départementale des Services Vétérinaires (Departmental Veterinary Service). Perhaps I'm reading too much into the change of name, but in the Vendée it appears that animal welfare is not their first priority. Contact them: not only by phone/email but also by letter. Send a copy of your complaint to the Mairie of the town where you have seen the animal. Just to keep them on their toes inform a national animal protection organisation like the Brigitte Bardot Foundation and/or the SPA and let all of them know that you have contacted the others. For cases of flagrant abuse and where there is immediate danger you can also contact the Gendarmerie or Police Municipale if the town has one. If it is possible without putting yourself at risk, try to get some photos or even a video of the situation. That way it's easier to see if any changes have been made. If you need help with writing an appropriate letter in French, please contact us via our website Nos Amis Les Animaux 85480 (NALA 85480). Tel: 06 48 68 40 37 Email:

The DSM, always delivered with a smile, covering areas far and wide, it's the place to advertise - and we do! Andrew & T-Anne Christie

Home sales network: Janick has successfully opened up her business to At Home sales Network for both French and English and her site is in both languages. Distributed this way Naturallys is closer to their clients, and consultants can explain how products are made and sourced and clients are able to try before they buy. Why not host a party yourself and earn some FREE products or become a consultant for Naturallys, earn & have fun along the way with a business that is fully supported and operational in this country.

Janick Dougnac works alongside her father using tradition and family know-how to produce homemade soaps and also other natural products here in France. Naturallys is a company that brings us back to basics within the products, the manufacturing of them and the packaging. The range includes sixteen beautiful hand made soaps, room sprays in beautiful bottles containing natural oils, herbal teas, shea butter, oils and cider vinegar, natural food and domestic cleaning products.

If you'd like further information call Suzanne, manager for Naturallys on 05 49 26 27 74 or email Visit to view the range. Janick will be developing further products to add to the range.

Janick’s focus is on using regional and local raw materials and working with small scale farms. The products are manufactured to the highest quality, the soap being made in the old traditional way of cold saponification which keeps all the best ingredients within the soap ensuring that the soap is kind to the skin. There is even a baby soap and a soap for your animals, soaps for those gardeners and even one for builders hands! Janick’s products work within the body and outside of the body and in and around the home. Cider vinegar has many health benefits to both humans and animals and the tissanes themselves have many other uses besides drinking them. Beauty inside and out whilst using natural organic ingredients. page 12


The Deux-Sèvres magazine has been something this region has needed for a good while, so long may it continue....the magazine is original, and interesting, and each month offers new reading. Sarah works very hard and it shows, keep up the good work! The Irvings  

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

For a full list of advertising rates, please request an advertising pack or download from our website page 13


The Great Outdoors... The Amateur Gardener

by Vanda Lawrence Yikes! Red Alert! The lawn we thought was safe from moles apparently isn't and the little blighters are very busy. This particular lawn is bordered on all sides by driveways and wide paths and in 6 years we have never had a mole hill on it. We have worked very hard & quite successfully at discouraging them from the other lawns so I suppose it was to be expected that sooner or later they would find their way to virgin soil. My usual first step is to bury garlic cloves in the tunnels they don't like the smell. You can buy a mole deterrent in the shape of smelly granules which is quite effective but also quite expensive. We also use sonic mole deterrents which help. However, I've done a bit of research and here are some other ideas if your moles are in flower/ vegetable beds: Plant any of the Allium family - garlic, onions, leeks, chives, shallots, ornamental flowering onions. Several bulb plants are said to repel moles. One is the Daffodil, which is a great surprise to me. However, if I think about it we have no moles around our daffodil borders. Another is the Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) which flowers in spring, and yet another is Fritillaria imperialis 'Lutea' which carries 6-8 pendulous yellow flowers in spring. Apparently the scent of this bulb resembles that of a fox - enough said if you are a mole! Euphorbia lathyris - often called 'mole plant' (thanks to Pat for this one!). This plant is biennial & grows up to 1.5m tall. However all parts of the plant, including seeds and roots are poisonous and even handling might cause skin irritation. Castor oil plant (Ricinus communis) - here again, be aware that the seeds are poisonous. Use castor oil. Pour into the tunnels - moles don't like the smell and it gives them an upset stomach, discouraging them from staying. Buy a mouse trap. Moles are roughly the same size as a large mouse and can be caught using a mouse trap. Of course, there are humane mole traps too. Moles eat insect grubs and earthworms and the runs just beneath the surface of the soil are their tunnels. The other runs are deeper, uniting the tunnels; it is the soil excavated from these deep that appear as mounds.

tunnelfeeding feeding tunnels

Now, back to gardening. Thankfully the snow has moreor-less disappeared in St Pardoux but the soil is very soggy so I can't yet try out my new lady's fork and spade which the children bought me for Christmas. However, those of you with lighter soils can plant Asparagus and Strawberries now. Also herb plants are available in the garden centres, so it is a good time to start a new herb garden or replace old, tired plants. (Don't forget how invasive Mint can be though and plant it in a large tub). Broadbeans sown in Feb/March should be cropping in June and spinach seeds sown in March/April should be ready to pick in May/June. Those of you with greenhouses will be cleaning and preparing your greenhouse ready to start the year. It's time to take cuttings of bedding plants such as fuchsias, marguerites and pelargoniums and sow seeds of summer bedding favourites: petunias, salvias, antirrhinum etc. Hallelujah! it won't be long now before we can get outside and enjoy our gardens again so let's get organised .... see you next month everyone!

March’s Lunar calendar...

Full Moon:8th

1st Quarter:15th

New Moon: 22nd

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The agile frog Rana dalmatina; Grenouille agile.

by Roger Meek. There are several species of frogs in western France. The most familiar are the water frogs (Pelophylax species) that rarely travel far from ponds where they bask and call loudly. A less frequently seen or heard species is the agile frog (Rana dalmatina) known, as its name suggests, for its jumping ability. It is similar in size to the water frogs with a body length up to 9cm (females grow larger) but is yellow buff to brownish in colour (see photos). In western France they are the earliest amphibians to breed depositing spawn in ponds and ditches from early February when their calls are just audible. The spawn clumps may contain as many as 1800 eggs and are attached to the stems of water plants, which often float slowly to the surface. Presumably this increases development time for the larvae since on sunny days the surface water is warmer than at lower levels. On cold nights ice may form on the water surface but the egg masses are resistant to freezing and mortalities are rare. The larvae take around three weeks to develop but this depends on temperature. Agile frogs reach maturity at around three years and are reported to live up to ten years. This must be exceptional as they are subject to high levels of predation both at the larval (tadpole) stage from predatory water beetles, dragonfly larvae and newts and when adults from polecats, foxes, grass and viperine snakes, among others. They pursue a very different lifestyle to the water frogs. After the spring breeding period they leave the ponds to forage for insects and other small invertebrates in woodlands and meadows. Foraging enables greater contact with prey species, which increases growth rates and the energy needed by females for reproduction but also increases potential contact with predators. During foraging movements they sometimes enter gardens but usually avoid garden ponds. In many areas of Europe agile frog populations appear to be declining, mainly from habitat loss, water pollution and in urban areas predation from domestic cats and mortalities from road vehicles. Amphibians are very sensitive to toxins due to their permeable skins, which toxins pass through relatively easily and hence the status of their populations are an early warning system for the health of our environment. We can improve the situation by avoiding using herbicides (Roundup is particularly toxic to many amphibians) and by not eating frog legs. The latter is important because frogs and other amphibians consume huge numbers of mosquitoes (including their larvae) and other insect pests and hence are a valuable part of our environment.

The Battle of “Lunalonge” 1349

by Peter Hoskins Just off the N10 between les Maisons Blanches and Sauzé-Vaussais is the commune of Limalonges. This rural village of the Deux-Sèvres, with its twelfth century church and monastic grange, is the likely site of a little known, minor battle of the Hundred Years War. Only one source, the fourteenth century Chronique Normande, mentions the battle, and the easiest way to describe the events is to use the chronicler’s own words. It will be noted that the French were from Poitou, and that the “English” were mainly Gascons, including the Captal de Buch who played a prominent role at the Battle of Poitiers seven years later. It was the habit of medieval chroniclers to deal in round numbers, so the numbers of French prisoners may well have been exaggerated. The French seem to have suffered the most casualties, but the English lost all their horses. Perhaps this was a score draw in football parlance. “The year before there was a battle in Poitou, and on the English side were the seneschal of Bordeaux, the Captal de Buch, and the lords of Lesparre, Montferrand, Pommiers and Mussidan. The French were led by the seneschal of Poitou, Jean de l’Isle, with Boucicaut, Savary de Vivonne, the lord of Chauvigny and several others, so many that they were equal to or greater in number than the English. The English dismounted straight away, and the French sent some of their men to take the English horses. The rest, who remained mounted, charged the English and there was a great battle. The English drove the French off. There were many killed and 300 of the French were made prisoners. The remainder of the French regrouped, while the English held their ground, which was much to their advantage. So they remained until evening, in front of each other without doing anything more. The French withdrew at nightfall, to lodge far from the English. As soon as the English saw them go, they set off and marched on foot all night to come to their fortress. And this battle was called the Battle of Lunalonge.” Peter Hoskins is the author of ‘In the Steps of the Black Prince, the Road to Poitiers 1355-1356’. ~ email:

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Great to have a publication for our region - well done Sarah & Co for such a professional and wellrun magazine. Helen & David Ace

Thanks for a great magazine, happy birthday Dean Smalley, L’Absie.

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Photograph on the left shows an adult female that entered the author’s garden whilst foraging; right, another adult photographed foraging in woodland.

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

by Gilly Hunt One word can sum up the beginning of February and that is, of course, snow. But really the difference in the way that the French and the English react to 5 inches of snow is just amazing. In England they seem to literally “lose the plot” when a snowflake is forecast and reporters foresee traffic jams, flight delays and, well, it is all doom and gloom. Here in France, they have the attitude of if you do not have to go out then don’t! I remember when my daughter was at College (Secondary School) here, she came home one day and said that the students had been told that if they lived on a hill they were to stay home the following day. What sensible advice! The snow has certainly added a new kind of magic to our wonderful Deux-Sèvres: the snow twinkling as the sun tries to break through; the plant life determined to survive despite its new snow covered blanket; wildlife finding food wherever they can and the birds enjoying any food that we have put out for them, although with four cats, we do have to be careful to hang the food well out of reach of paws! One of the wonderful things I found about being snowed in was that you can just snuggle down by the wood burner and take the opportunity to read books, watch films and generally relax without a moment of guilt. I did of course still have to go outside three to four times a day to break through the ice that seemed to grow the moment my back was turned on our chickens’ water. But that was a small price to pay for the enjoyment of returning to a warm house. Mind you one day when I had been out to check the chickens’ water, I was leaning on our front door handle (without gloves on) taking my wellingtons off, when I realised that my hand, which was holding onto the handle, was beginning to feel rather strange and was literally being frozen to the door handle as I stood there – fortunately I managed to “peel” my hand free without any harm to my hand – but it was a close call. It just shows how careful you have to be and “respect” the extremities of the weather. During the last few months we have had a friend of our son staying with us. He has been living around this area of France staying with families under the “workaway” scheme, which basically means that in return for free board and lodging he has worked for up to 5 hours per day. You can specify skills that you would like and also what you have to offer. It is open to all ages and nationalities and is a wonderful way as a host to meet new people and share your love of the place in which you live, as well as get some much needed jobs done. Or perhaps you would like to travel around Europe staying free in exchange for working? It is a great scheme and one that I would recommend for anyone that has need of an extra pair of hands – check out the website for details. In England I would never have had the opportunity to write for a magazine such as this, so Happy Birthday to all those who contribute and read this wonderful magazine, and particularly to Sarah who has given so much to so many. Vive la difference.

Keenan’s Corner by Keenan Dominey In this article I will explain how I was able to make it through my second year specializing in accountancy and also more about the BAC.

The “Terminal” (2nd year of accountancy) was the year when I really started to work, as I knew at the end of this year I had my exams. I found myself with a few free hours during the week, but most of the time we had to use these ‘free periods’ to do our homework or to revise. Because we are often tested on our knowledge, it means we have to revise every so often each subject. These marks would be used when searching for a university. Between January and April each student has to sign up for their future school, which means going to the internet to sign up and then sending off a few forms to the school. It is better to sign up for a few schools where you are sure to be accepted as well, for instance the “FACs” (A three year course, equivalent to university). The order of your school choices is very important, because you will only be offered one option which will be the highest on your list. The easiest way I found to revise for the BAC was to take an hour every week to write up revision sheets, so that you’re not overwhelmed at the end of the year. I also used a website called “Reussite BAC” which allows you to catch up on any lessons missed. A good thing about boarding at school is that it allows you to concentrate on lessons. The BAC is a 2 part exam, the written part is in June and takes 5 days. The second part is the oral exams which are during the year. The results are posted on the internet in the beginning of July. I successfully passed my exams and decided to stay at the same school to do higher education in accountancy. The next article I will explain about the first year in higher education, and how the year didn’t turn out as I had thought.

Many thanks Sarah for your work, your availability and your kindness! Wishing a great success to "The Deux-Sèvres Monthly" and many more anniversaries to come ! Nadège

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Well produced, well distributed and well managed, I can only see ʻThe Deux-Sèvres Monthlyʼ going from strength to strength and becoming THE publication for the region. Brian McHale, Vendee Pools

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This month we have another recipe sent in by Sean, the young australian friend of our secretary Carol while he was doing his “Trip” around Europe. CHOCOLATE & BEETROOT CAKE Ingredients: 175g beetroot, cooked and grated 200g self-raising flour 100g cocoa powder 250g castor sugar 3eggs 200ml sunflower oil 100g dark chocolate Icing; 200ml crème fraîche 100g dark chocolate Method: Pre-heat the oven to 170˚C with fan assisted or 190˚C without. Mix the beetroot, flour, cocoa, sugar together. Add the eggs and beat well, then slowly drizzle in the oil (like a mayonnaise). Chop the chocolate up and fold into the mixture and pour into a lined 900g loaf tin. Cook for 1 hour, or until the skewer comes out clean. Meanwhile melt the chocolate over a bain-marie, then fold in the crème fraîche. Put in the fridge to cool. When the cake also has cooled to room temperature, lather on top and serve. 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

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 17


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 Chris Abbott, for this restaurant review. I would like to suggest L'Auberge des Voyageurs, Menigoute. (Formerly the Menigoute Hotel). Menigoute is not far from the historic town of Sanxay. Like most places, Menigoute, despite it being a very pretty and well equipped commune, is suffering from the lure of the larger towns in terms of generalised shopping and eateries. However, I would like to recommend this restaurant because to date we haven’t had a bad meal yet and the food is always well presented and thought about.   They do a lunchtime "workers" type menu which is very competitively priced at around 11-13 euro.   The couple who run the restaurant, Charlotte & Pascal used to run the restaurant at Des Forges Golf Club and are both very welcoming. Pascal is the chef and he produces some really wonderful dishes, and puts a lot of thought into the meals. The surroundings are of a nostalgic theme with old items which include an old radio, suitcase and photos. Whilst it may be possible to get cheaper menus around, the food speaks for itself and you won't be disappointed.  They have a website which I think is fairly new.  Enjoy!

If you have positive restaurant experiences to share, we would love to print them here. Please email to:

Advertise online with ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ from just 5€ per month! Go to: to find out more. page 18


March’s Recipes...two winter warmers.

Some Like It at Room Temperature

Lamb or Pork Goulash, Serves 6. Ingredients: • 900g stewing lamb or pork • 25g butter • 2 teaspoons paprika • 3 medium onions, chopped • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped • 2 x 425g tins of tomatoes • 3 tablespoons of tomato puree • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar • 1 teaspoon salt • Sprig of fresh rosemary (optional) • 300ml natural yoghurt or sour cream

If you want to give any wine you serve the best chance possible to show its worth, concentrate on temperature. The thing is, this is a beautifully democratic principle: it applies across the board from mediocre supermarket plonk to upscale wine boutique classic. Now, a few degrees here and there are not going to turn one of these, Jekyll and Hyde-like, into the other, but they will make a difference in how a wine is appreciated.

by Mark Addy

Method: 1. Cut the meat into 2.5 cm cubes 2. Melt the butter in a pan and add the paprika, onions and garlic. 3. Add the meat and stir over a low heat until the meat has browned. 4. Add the tomatoes, puree, sugar, salt and rosemary, cover and simmer gently for 2 hours or until the meat is tender. Just before serving, cool slightly then stir in the yoghurt or sour cream off the heat and stir well. Serve with rice, noodles or jacket potato and green salad. Spotted Dick Ingredients: • 225g self raising flour • A pinch of salt • 110g shredded suet • 75g unrefined golden castor sugar • 225g raisins, soaked in brandy • 150ml cold water Method: 1. Grease a 1.1 litre pudding basin and set aside 2. Sieve together the flour and salt, then add the shredded suet, sugar and dried fruit. Mix these ingredients with just enough water to make a firm dough. 3. Place the mixture in the pudding basin, cover securely and steam for 2 hours. 4. When ready turn the pudding out onto a hot dish and serve with custard. Amendment: With reference to January’s Muscovado Pudding recipe, the required quantity of Sunflower OIl is 2 Tablespoons.

‘The Deux- Sèvres Monthly’ has helped us to successfully advertise our business to new customers.  Clients have also commented that they enjoy reading the magazine and say it has helped to keep them informed of local events. Poitou Property Services.


Metric/imperial weight




























2lb 4oz





by John Sherwin

Flavour and aroma compounds in a wine are volatile, so the higher the service temperature the more easily the compounds evaporate and hit, ahem, ones pleasure centres. Of course, this principle cannot be taken to ridiculous lengths. Over 20°C, alcohol can start to evaporate and unbalance the wine. On the other hand, too low a temperature inhibits the volatile compounds and you’re left with next to no smell. I have not yet differentiated red or white – the above applies to any wine on a chemical level. But let’s turn to practicalities. For reds, serve at 16°C – much lower and they will become astringent. Dry white wines around 13°C – much higher and they’ll go flabby. Sweet, sparkling or rosés around 8°C. Maybe reduce these temperatures a little at the moment of service as of course the wine will slowly warm up in the glass. The range of correct service temperatures is not as wide as you might think. A common mistake is to go too far towards the ends of the scale. A wine thermometer is a worthwhile and inexpensive investment in enjoyment. Don’t fear that you’re becoming a wine-anorak. You can keep your little secret in the kitchen drawer, only to unsheathe it when you need to turn that €1.50 Lidl Merlot into a delightful mélange of summer fruits. John Sherwin. French Wine Tours Email:,

Congratulations & Happy 1st Birthday to ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ - a magazine eagerly awaited every month with interesting articles & lots of helpful information, backed up with a more friendly service you'd struggle to find anywhere. Well done Sarah - keep up the fantastic work! We all appreciate your brilliant magazine. 

Margaret, Terry, Mary & Jenny - La Joie de Vivre, Moncoutant  

Local Student talks about Life in France.

Bilingual student, Sophie Morfakis, has recently prepared a radio programme that will soon be aired on Radio Gatine. She talks about any problems or expectations integrating into French life. They can be heard at these times:Tue 6th March: 8:40am, 12:50pm & 18:20pm Wed 7th March: 8:40am, 12:50pm & 18:20pm Thur 8th March: 8:40am, 12:50pm & 18:20pm Fri 9th March: 8:40am, 12:50pm & 18:20pm

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French Adventures... It's been a pleasure to read all 12 French Adventures since the start of this magazine and on reaching our 1st Birthday, we thought some of you may be interested to hear our story this month. So, where to start? Colchester I think, Sarah’s hometown, where we met in 1999 and where I served my last 4 of 23 years in the Army. We were married in September 2003 and bought our own house in Colchester in 2004. Around this same time, Sarah’s parents bought a property in Pamplie, Deux-Sevres. This became a regular renovation project & holiday destination and during one such visit we bought a ruin of a house in Secondigny. The property had lain empty for 10 years and needed complete renovation, a task we aimed to do on future holidays.... but never quite managed! My 40th Birthday was rewarded with discharge from the Army. (Retirement with a pension...a much awaited event!) Sarah had finished working for her brother’s London based company and was working part-time for a doctor’s surgery and I had a small gardening round also doing some painting and decorating here and there. It was far from secure long-term employment, but at the same time, I didn’t want to put on another uniform or indeed fall in to the daily grind of working for someone else nine to five. So with this, the never-ending mortgage and other personal factors, our decision to move to France permanently was quite we took the plunge. In September 2008, having miraculously sold our house during the start of the recession, we excitedly crossed the channel with a car full of cases and two cats, Micky and Roonie. Our worldly possessions followed a few days later in an artic lorry. Unlike most people moving abroad, we were fortunate to have Sarah’s parents living here for two years before our arrival. They had already been through the myriad of problems which I’m sure we’ve all faced during and after moving, so their input to moving to a 'foreign land' was priceless. Our house was far from habitable at that stage and to have lived in it during initial renovations would have been impossible, so we were lucky to be offered temporary accommodation at the nearby property in Pamplie. At this time, the summer sun was hot and renovations started almost straightaway; life was great. The cats took time to settle following the move, meowing in English obviously didn’t go down well with the local feline population! The first winter (2008/9) was hard work; a complete lack of heating, insulation, double glazing etc. and temperatures down to -15 made living and renovating very difficult. The pound had also dropped drastically against the euro, which affected the Army pension considerably. It soon became obvious that our plans to simply retire in France away from the hustle and bustle of living and working in England, required amendment. Spring arrived along with renewed enthusiasm and work on the house continued in earnest. In Aug 2009 we moved into our house after 10 months of full-time renovation. Sarah, with the guiding support and help of her Dad, had floor-boarded throughout, fitted the kitchen and two bathrooms, and had done all of the plumbing and electrics. I did the structural stuff, stonework and plastering. We also kept a blog so family and friends in the UK could be kept up to

date with our progress. (If you are interested, please see the Links page at Having settled into our little house we continued to renovate and did our best to make it into a home. To date that renovation continues and we still use one of the bedrooms as our lounge. Three years down the line and I’m still trying to renovate the stone barn attached to the back of our house into our future lounge; it’ll be finished this year! Although I did say that last year!! With the ever increasing prices and the continuing poor exchange rate, in 2010 our plans of retirement in France changed, initially an unwelcome contingency. Sarah set herself up as an Auto Entrepreneur, designing websites and also as an artist. With very few places to advertise her services this took time to get off the ground; portrait/ painting commissions and website work came in purely through word-of-mouth. This was the same for me after setting up in small renovation works and plastering. This lack of advertising in our area, was the inspiration behind 'The Deux-Sèvres Monthly' magazine and at the beginning of 2011 Sarah set about putting together the first issue. This was published with a print run of 1100 copies in March 2011 and consisted of 20 pages of local stories, information and adverts. The magazine now realises 5000 copies and 36 pages, and has completely taken over our lives!! Renovation continues slowly as I seem to work on other peoples’ houses more than ours and Sarah works relentlessly keeping the magazine going and creating websites. I must say that whilst Sarah works hard on the magazine, its survival is largely due to the fantastic input from people throughout the Deux-Sèvres, those who help with distribution and of course the support of advertisers. All in all, we love our life here, have made many good friends and couldn’t imagine ever moving back to England even though we now work harder than we ever did there; not quite the retirement we anticipated!!

Rob & Sarah Berry, Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 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... Golf Anyone?

by Helen Tait-Wright Recently I have been driving a 2007 VW Golf TDi in addition to our usual “fleet’ which has prompted me to think about the history of the Golf. As a teenager in the eighties, a Golf GTi was high on our school years wish list as a first car, although none of us could afford the insurance. These days the Mk1 Golf is considered to be somewhere between being an old banger or a true classic, depending on your point of view. Volkswagen have been manufacturing the Golf since 1974 and it has been marketed worldwide across six generations, in various body configurations. The first Golf was presented as a modern front-wheeldrive, long-range replacement for the Volkswagen Beetle. The GTi “hot hatch” and diesel versions were launched in 1976, with the Cabriolet in 1980. The Golf almost single handedly created the “Hot Hatch” genre, other famous examples of which include the Renault 5 Turbo, Peugeot 205 GTi and Ford Escort XR3i, but by putting highperformance driving thrills within reach of the average motorist, insurance premiums shot skyward as hot hatches became the transport of choice for boy racers and joyriders across Britain. Sadly of the pre 1980 cars there are very few left, mostly due to inferior rust protection, road salting and the general corrosion that has killed most of them off. Post 1980 cars are considerably better protected, featuring inner wing liners, better treated metal and thicker paint. September 1983 saw the introduction of the secondgeneration Mk2 that slightly grew in terms of wheelbase, exterior and interior dimensions while retaining, in a more rounded form, the Mk1's overall look. We have a “G” reg Mk2 1.8 Auto Golf back in the UK, bought in 2002 to teach my step daughter to drive, and still going strong. “Gertrude” is the best pool car ever and is regularly borrowed by our friends back in the UK, mostly to the total embarrassment of their children. She rattles a bit on start up and the headlining has long since died and been cut away, but she drives superbly and is a really gutsy little car who passes her MOT each year like clockwork. It takes my mind back to the famous 1980’s “divorce” TV adverts for the Golf featuring Paula Hamilton, where she is seen leaving a house, flinging off her pearls and her wedding ring, but keeping the keys to the car, with the strap line “If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen”! The Golf has continued to evolve since then, with performance derivatives such as the VR6, G60 and R32 keeping the Golf name in the news, and is now on the Mk6 version. With over 27,190,000 vehicles sold, (figure correct at May 2010) the Golf is the worlds third best selling car ever, just ahead of the VW Beetle which it replaced. So, as the advert says, don’t get something “like” a Golf, get the real thing!


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

What a great idea this is giving at last a real sense of identity to the Deux-Sèvres. We are reaching out to our neighbours in the Charentes, the Vienne and the Vendée. We know some French people who read it to find out what’s going on. Well done, Sarah on a brave venture. Jocelyn and Gordon Simms

Happy Birthday DSM! Our customer's speak very highly of the magazine and personally we are very pleased with the new customers we have gained as a result of advertising with you. Long may you continue. A La Bonne Vie

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Make time to peruse and dine at La Grande Galerie Bert and Pippa Hagedoorn have left the extremely hot conditions of Western Australia to pursue a business in Civray, a lovely town in the Piotou-Charentes area. They purchased La Grande Galerie, situated in Rue du Temple, on the 29th December and opened the doors for business on the 3rd January. After signing on the dotted line they have set about making adjustments to the gallery and getting to know the “locals.” “We have been made to feel very welcome and have met lovely people who seem to know that we are the Australians as soon as we speak,” Pippa said. La Grande Galerie caters for everyone, including an art gallery displaying work by a variety of artisans, a café and an interior design shop. It is almost a mini shopping centre where you can come and have lunch, design a space and take home a treasure for that special place in your home. While you are there you can take an art lesson, a piano lesson, find a great read, learn French and use the internet café. La Grande Galerie also supports the Hope Foundation that cares for orphaned and abandoned animals. The gallery has a book sale every Tuesday morning from 10.00am until 12.30pm. Every book is for sale for one euro and the proceeds go to the animals to provide food and homes. “We are very lucky to have artisans at the gallery who are willing to come along to provide lessons and workshops,” says Pippa. “There are also beautiful cards, some of which are miniatures of our artists’ paintings. These are a lovely and far more personal way of telling someone that you care.” La Grande Galerie also has a variety of very talented authors. Karen Wheeler will be at the Galerie on Tuesday, March 13th for a signing of her new book and Christine Collette will be at the Galerie on the 10th April for the signing of her book. The next time you are driving through Civray keep La Grande Galerie in mind. Pop in for lunch and discuss your next social event at the café with Nicki Roxburgh. Contact the gallery to book your next art/craft lesson, language lesson and piano lesson. Spend some time at the internet café and chat to Nikki Weston about creative ideas for your home. Pippa and Bert look forward to welcoming you to La Grande Galerie soon. Tel: 05 49 88 75 84. Email:

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

understand the importance of our daily actions in the management of water.

Béceleuf Béceleuf boasts a population of 675 inhabitants. Here the ruins of an old castle built by the Lords of Parthenay can be found. According to the legend the castle was one of the homes of Mélusine a fairy of medieval legends who is supposed to have founded the town of Lusignan. Strange noises heard during the night are attributed to her. After the destruction of the castle, the fairy is supposed to have taken refuge under an enormous rock, the «roc Cervelle» which can be seen a few kilometres from Béceleuf. When travellers come too close, the fairy cries out as if protecting her territory. The «roc Cervelle» in the Autize valley is dominated by a grotto where a spring flows in the winter. Legend says that the spring exists because Mélusine spent a penny here.

À VOIR / MUST SEE: • Chicheville, a 14th century village, meeting place for the Resistance during the 2nd World War, with a landing area for parachute drops and hiding place for weapons and arms. • Saint-Maurice church • The grotto called Notredame-de-Lourdes to which processions used to be held. • The source of the Loupe stream • The valley of the stream of the Wolf's fountain • The ancient Gallic Roman road “chemin des Chaussées” • The Clochard apple trees • The dominial forest of La Boucherie • The numerous view points of “Little Switzerland” (la “Petite Suisse”) from Le Beugnon.

by Sue Burgess

À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The Pousay oak tree can be found on the commune of Béceleuf. The main characteristic of the Pousay oak tree is that it has grown in the middle of a pigeon loft. The tree is classified as one of the 250 remarkable trees of France. The footpaths around it allow walkers to discover the lovely countryside. Belleville Belleville is situated in the canton of Beauvoir sur Niort. In the 2009 census the inhabitants of Belleville, the Bellevillois and the Bellevilloises, numbered 118, which represents an increase since 1999. The village is surrounded by the communes of Juillé, Brioux-sur-Boutonne and Villefollet. Belleville is 29km South East of Niort. Bessines Situated at the entrance to the Marais Poitevin, near Niort, Bessines is a village alongside the Vieille Sèvre river and the Jaron mill race. It's three ports are the gateway to the Marais Poitevin, the first canals of the Marais Poitevin can be found here, lined with pollarded ash trees. The village developed from the domain of Bassinus, a rich landowner of the Galllic-Roman period. He gave his name to the locality. The inhabitants are called les Bessinois. The Romanesque church of St-Caprais is a stopping place on the road to Compostelle. The commune has been the home of many famous artists and cinema artists of whom Jean Richard is the most well known. He is the only actor to have played all the roles of Georges Simenon's Maigret. He was born in Bessines in 1921, at Pierre Levée manor (private property dating from the XVth century). À VOIR / MUST SEE: • St Caprais church Le Beugnon Le Beugnon is a little village in the township of Coulonges-sur-l'Autize part of the district of Niort. The Town Hall is approximately 200 metres above sea level. The population of Le Beugnon was 362 in 1999, 335 in 2006 and 331 in 2007. The inhabitants of Le Beugnon are known as Beugnonnais or Beugnonnaises. The river Thouet has its source on the commune of Le Beugnon, near the farm at la Pointerie. Not far away can be found the source of the Sèvre Nantaise river and that of some of the tributaries of the river Autize, including the Saumort. The museum and natural site of the Sources de Gâtine, “Benina Onda” (“blessed waters”) allows you to

Bilazais Since 1973 Bilazais has been joined to the commune of Oiron. The mayor of Bilazais is therefore one of the deputies of the mayor of Oiron and has a seat on Oiron Town Council. À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The Church of St Radegonde with its 12th century choir. Boismé The inhabitants of Boismé are Boisméens or Boisméennes. The land is quite heavy clay and rather acidic and so used for animal rearing – sheep and cattle. The history of Boismé goes back a long time. A document from 1028 mentions it under the name of Curtis de Bomniaco. At that time «Curtie» always described a place which was inhabited. Mention is also made of a church which was dedicated to St Peter and which was already falling into ruins. Later on, different names can be found: Boisméum, Boymé, Boême, Boesmé (the name found on the Napoleonic land register). Saint-Mérault's Church where the tomb of the Saint can be found, still existed in the 17th century and the tomb was the object of public veneration. During the Vendée wars, in 1792, Louis de Salgues de Lescure, one of the anti-revolutionary leaders, came to live in his castle at Clisson in Boismé. He was taken prisoner by the republicans and imprisoned in Bressuire with his family. He was liberated just in time to save him from execution, when the Vendée army took control of Bressuire a few days later. The château de Clisson was set fire to and only the chapel survived (and can still be seen today). The present château was built on the site of the common lodgings of the old château. During the Second World War, the allies dropped arms and weapons in two parachute drops on the nights of the 19th and 20th June 1943. The drops were made at "Bois Rocard". The message broadcast by the BBC giving information about the drops was "Le Roi dit à la Reine: Victoire" (“The King said to the Queen: Victory?”). À VOIR / MUST SEE: • The chapel of the chateau de Clisson • The remains of the chateau of Poyon • The fortified farms of Gât, Corbin and la Guirère • The remains of the Mills of La Guirère, ancient windmills overlooking the Thouet The granite cliffs between Bas-Gourneau et la Guirère 2 ancient wash-houses – Saint Mérault is said to have performed some miracles at one of them. page 24


Communications... How to speed up your PC – Part 7

Only start up programs you need - March 2012 A great way to speed up your PC is to prevent unnecessary programs from running when Windows starts up, i.e. Skype. In this article I will show you how to see what programs run when Windows boots (starts up), then you can choose which ones to remove. Remember all programs use system memory, so any program running will reduce the available memory and thus slow down your PC.


This is an advanced option and may cause your PC or important features not to run properly if you disable things you are not sure of. Before you do anything, look and see the options and research them on the internet to check what may happen if you disable them. If you are confident here is what to do ..

There are five places you may prevent programs from automatically loading. These include: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

The Startup Folder, under the Start Menu In the program itself, Check Tools, Options or Preferences The System Configuration Utility The System Registry The Task Scheduler

For safety’s sake create a restore point before you begin , ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ article, October 2011 covers this. 1.

The Startup Folder, click on Start then “All and/or Programs” and scroll down to the yellow Folder “Startup” – in here you will/may find shortcuts to programs that will run when your PC starts. A shortcut is an icon that points to a program or file, not the actual program or file, you may delete these as they are easy to recreate, their icons usually have a black arrow on them, if in doubt just hover the mouse over them and you should get a little message box telling you what they are. I would advise temporarily placing these on your desktop rather than deleting them, in this way you may easily put them back if after testing you decide you would like the particular program to run on startup. How? Whilst in the Startup folder navigate to the program, right-click on it and select “Cut” from the drop down menu, then right-click on the desktop and left-click paste on the drop down menu, the shortcut will appear on your desktop. Once you have moved any of these shortcuts to your desktop, restart your PC and ensure everything works OK, you may delete the shortcuts you have removed from the startup folder. If not simply copy and paste the shortcut back to your Startup folder. Restart your PC and if all is OK you can delete the copy of the shortcut from your desktop.


when Windows starts up. Do think about what you are doing, it would be foolish to stop your anti-virus program from running on start-up for example. The System Configuration Utility – (MSCONFIG). Using this option you may disable items from running when windows starts, without having to cut or delete anything. This means that you can enable them if after a test you are not happy with the result.

Open the System Configuration Utility: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

In XP Click on the Start menu, then click on “Run” – in Windows 7 & Vista just use the search box and Type "msconfig" into the text/searchbox and click OK (The System Configuration Utility will open). Click the Startup tab (to see the list of items that automatically load with Windows). Un-tick the box next to the program name you do not want to start with Windows. Close this program and restart your computer.

Note: If you're not sure what an item is, resize the Start Item, Command, and Location columns so you can see all information. You may look in the folder indicated in the location column to determine what the item is, or you can search the Internet for more information. Usually programs listed in the Windows or System folders should be allowed to load – so leave those alone. After you un-tick one item, it's a good idea to restart your computer to assure everything works correctly, before you un-tick others. When Windows reboots, you may notice a message stating that Windows is starting in a selective or diagnostic mode. If this appears, click the tickbox, to not display this message in the future. 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 on page 2 for more information).

In the Program itself – When you install some programs, such as Skype the program sets itself to startup when Windows boots. Most of these show in the System or Task tray, next to the clock at the bottom right-hand side of your screen. The icons you see are programs that are currently running on your PC. In Windows 7 these are usually hidden behind a small triangular icon to the right of the flag icon, near to your clock at the bottom right-hand side of your screen, just left-click the icon to see what is running. In order to prevent a program from running when Windows starts up, open the program, look for an Options, Preferences or Tools icon or menu, and check these for startup options or preferences. You will normally see an option, button, check or tick box, with the legend “Run program when Windows Starts” or something very similar, just remove the “tick” or press the button to remove it. Now close the program remembering to save changes if you are asked. This should stop the program from automatically loading

Congratulations on achieving one year of publishing “The Deux-Sèvres Monthly”. I find the magazine a good read, containing a variety of interesting information and from the advertising point of view; I am pleased to say I get 4 to 7 new business calls per month as a result of my advert. It is certainly helping my business grow. Ross Hendry

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

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

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

EDF (Electricity Provider) English Helpline: 05 62 16 49 08 or 08 10 12 61 26

Building & Renovation... Old to New...

The attraction for many people to come and live in France is the way of life, the culture, the beautiful surroundings and also the thought of living in a character property. Many of the properties though have suffered neglect over the years and need significant restoration. This is the attraction for many of us to create that beautiful home full of history and brimming with charm for your friends and family to enjoy.

provide the ultimate cost and labour efficient solutions to ease the renovation and maintenance of your home. If you have any items in need of transformation and would like further information, please call Tony on 05 49 07 62 71 or visit our website:

However the picture that is so vivid in ones head is often fraught with difficulties and compromises. One area which often poses a difficult decision is the wood work or metal furnishing. The doors or shutters show all the signs that once upon a time they were a lovely addition to the home but over time, the weather and numerous layers of paint have ravaged their appearance and they no longer have the appeal that is desired for the new décor. The thought of spending weeks attempting to hand strip such items is often far too much to bear and often does not produce the clean new wood finish that you would like. Now, you are faced with a decision - do you spend a lot of money on new doors, shutters or windows which may change the final aesthetics of the house? Or, there is a Green solution that is far cheaper than buying new. It is quick and requires minimal or no labour to you. You can recycle most wooden or metal items including indoor and outdoor furniture. The objects are submerged into our Dip n Strip tank containing a mixture of water and Caustic Soda, and when removed they are washed and neutralized. The clean natural wood or metal is revealed and is ready for re-painting or staining. The results are often amazing, revealing details on furniture that has been lost under layers of paint. When the project is finished you can admire your restoration with all the original features and know that the path you have taken has saved money, the character of your home a little part of history for many more years. The same can also be achieved with internal/external beams, stone work and fire places. Old plaster, paint, varnish, dirt and smells can all be removed by sandblasting revealing a new clean finish ready for the desired finish. Our stripping and sand blasting services

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:

Happy Birthday to ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’. Thank you for  your help over the last year promoting our Business.  A very helpful team that are always willing to help and give advice. The magazine is an enjoyable read, very well distributed and received.  Tony Sparks (Absolu Paint Stripping Services)

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~ 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


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


Business, Finance & Property... Ask Amanda.

Spring Clean your Finances Whilst the snow was falling in February, preventing me from getting out and about I took some of the time stranded at home to sort out lots of things I had put off over the last six months or so. All the little jobs like checking out the sell by dates in the cupboard and reorganising my office, as well as planning when I should service the car and when I could get away for a little break with the family. I know these things often get pushed aside until the last minute, but unfortunately they do need doing! I find lots of people who, like me with my cupboards, put things off. This is especially true when it comes to sorting through their financial paperwork. Do you have pension statements from when you were working in the UK or Investments, ISAs, PEPs,TESSAs or bonds that you took out sometime ago? Do you want to ensure that they are still right for you & what your options are if they are not? Do not worry, help is at hand. I am more than happy to visit you at home (where everything is to hand) sit down and go through this paperwork with you. If you are a French resident many of the investments that you took out whilst living in the UK may not be as tax efficient as they could be. Or it may be that when you moved to France the pound was stronger and your money, when converted to Euros, went that little bit further and you would like more income today than you had planned.


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:

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

This is something I can review and help ensure that the money you worked hard for, works harder for you. Amanda Johnson, The Spectrum IFA Group. Tel: 05 49 98 97 46 Email:

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France Tough on Tax Evasion by Bill Blevins, Financial Correspondent, Blevins Franks. Taxes have been rising in France and there will probably be more to come after the elections. No-one enjoys paying tax, but if you are looking for ways to lower your tax bill make sure you only use legitimate tax planning arrangements and do not resort to anything, accidentally or otherwise, that could be viewed as tax evasion. France has been leading the way on the fight against tax evasion, particularly that involving undeclared accounts and wealth held abroad. The government believes automatic exchange of information between countries would ensure tax evaders can be tracked down and penalised. Anti tax evasion measures In November 2011, the finance ministry announced new measures to strengthen the fight against tax fraud, including communication with banks, the introduction of the Evafisc database which lists all non-disclosed bank accounts held by French residents, and a renewed operation to use payments made with foreign bank cards to identify people with bank accounts abroad.

and structures held outside France. This includes bank accounts held in EU countries. You will not necessarily be informed that you are being investigated. The ministry announced further measures in January 2012. People who fail to declare foreign bank accounts will be more heavily punished, with the penalties proportional to the undeclared sum. Penalties are paid on top of the back tax and interest. Sanctions against those using tax havens will increase 10 times over. Success France’s stance on tax evasion is earning much needed revenue for the state. Since 2007, it has recovered €50 billion of rights and penalties, with €16 billion (a €1bn increase) collected in 2010 alone. For advice on approved and effective tax planning arrangements in France consult a tax and wealth manager like Blevins Franks. To keep in touch with the latest developments in the offshore world, check out the latest news on our website

At the end of December 2011 the “enquiry window” that the tax office has to investigate income tax returns was extended from three years to ten for undeclared accounts

Advertise your private house sale here... From 10€ per month Send details by email to:

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


French Inheritance Rules & Taxes by David Hardy The Basics. Once you become a permanent resident of France, you are considered domiciled in France, for inheritance purposes. This basically means that your worldwide estate will be subject to French inheritance rules and taxes. However, there is an exception in that the UK retains the right to tax British immovable property, which will be devolved according to your UK will. The double tax treaty ensures that you will not pay tax twice. That apart, the inheritance rules in France state that, should you have children, they have an automatic right to inherit a share of your estate. How much they must inherit will depend on the number of children involved, but their share, the “réserve héréditaire”, will be at least 50% of the deceased parent’s estate. However, the children do not have to inherit all the estate as there is a portion which is freely disposable by way of a will, called the “quotité disponible”.  It is, therefore, only possible to leave everything to the surviving spouse by will, if you have no children! For most British people, protecting the surviving spouse is of paramount importance. Depending on your situation, there are various ways of achieving this aim and advice should be sought as to ascertain their effectiveness or suitability. Inheritance tax in France works in a completely different way than in the UK, as it is the heirs who are liable for the tax and not the estate. What is more, the tax rates and allowances are dependent on your relationship to your heirs. At least, since 2007 there is no longer inheritance tax between spouses, with the same rule applying to couples with a “Pacte Civile de Solidarité” (PACS). Whilst your children may have a French inheritance tax liability, the allowances were raised significantly in 2007 and the tax rates are perfectly reasonable. What is more, there are ways of reducing the tax for them in France. A problem faces those, however, who wish to leave assets to other family members or friends, with siblings paying up to 45%, nieces and nephews 55% and friends 60% tax! This also means that step-children and couples without a PACS will pay most of their inheritances to the state, in taxation, since they will also be subject to the 60% rate. It is normally the wish of any couple in a second marriage to want to leave everything to each other and then to children and step-children. It is easy to see that this can cause severe financial and family difficulties without proper planning to avoid the above problems. 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. If you wish to discuss your own financial planning requirements in more detail, please contact David on 05 56 34 75 51

Congratulations and a very Happy Birthday to 'The Deux-Sèvres Monthly'! Your magazine serves the English speaking community well with practical information about life in the department. It is a pleasure working with you and we wish you continued success. David Hardy, regional Manager, Siddalls France

~ The Deux-Sèvres Monthly ~ Sarah Berry, La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 ~ Email: page 33


Selling Your Property

by Peter Elias. I hope that you managed to survive the big-freeze ok ? What a long cold spell that was in January, and into February. Still, not long now and we will be into Spring and have Easter upon us. Easter is the traditional time of year when buyers start to look seriously at properties. So, if you are thinking of selling in 2012, now is the time to plan getting the property on the market. To market the property effectively, we as agents need good quality photographs, with a bright, clear blue sky. A photo with a grey sky, and lacking in sunshine does nothing to make a property look appealing. Therefore we always ask clients when we take on a property, to provide us with any of their images that they would like us to use. We also use a relatively wide angle lens with our photographs, to give the viewer a better feel for the property. We never touch up images in ‘Photoshop’, although it is obvious that some agencies do. During this year, we plan to offer 360° tours for selected properties. This virtual tour will be available to registered clients via our website, and will have the effect of walking the client from room to room, thereby getting a real feel for the property from the comfort of their own homes. This should cut down on viewings and save time for everyone concerned.

Most properties are now being advertised at sensible prices. Too high and you won’t get any viewings. Too many vendors think that if you start high, you can always come down, but in reality, you kill the marketing dead, and then you are forced to come down. Generally, those houses that are still for sale, on our books, having been there for over 12 months, all started at prices higher than our original valuations. The impression that potential buyers now have is that the property may have a problem, since many people are what I call ‘professional observers’ of websites, and can tell you how long a property has been on the market. Many vendors also make the fatal mistake of getting their property on the books of too many agents, and when that happens, their property reaches saturation point on the website, and the owners look desperate to sell. So, if you want to sell in 2012, talk to an agent now about getting your property on to the market. If you are already for sale, ask your agent for their opinion about your current price, and be prepared to follow their recommendation. Peter Elias (Agent Comercial) Email: Tel: 05 49 27 01 22

Some French agencies use what can only be described as a strange selection of images for the advertising of their properties. Often, a boring external photograph is displayed in the show window, and a random selection of 4-5 images used on their website. We try to use the best possible images, to present the property in a positive light in order to attract attention and subsequently potential viewings. To get the best impression of a room, it is always best to de-clutter the room, and make it look as spacious as possible. Putting your property on the market is a great time to sort out your affaires. Try to depersonalize your house as much as possible. You may like dozens of family photos everywhere, but it doesn’t look great to a potential buyer. Try to see things through their eyes when they first set foot into your property. Clients often ask about getting work done before they offer their property to the market. For me, the general rule of thumb is don’t do anything, except perhaps a quick lick of paint to freshen a room up. Going to the lengths of refitting kitchens, bathrooms & shower rooms may make your property more presentable, but it may not be to the style of the new owners, so unless they are awful, and really do need replacing, don’t do anything. The same rules apply to doors & windows. If you go for UPVC the buyer will want wooden double glazed windows, and if you choose wooden, they will want UPVC for low maintenance, so don’t go there. The best trick is to get a few plants near the front door, so that the first impression upon arrival is good. Then keep the house tidy at all times, and let your agent take control of the viewings.

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The DSM March 2012  

Free, monthly English language magazine for the department of Deux-Sevres and surrounding areas in France.