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THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Welcome to Issue 15 of ‘The DeuxSèvres Monthly’ magazine. Well this year is certainly turning into a busy one! The Spring has brought many more advertisers and contributors to us, so the magazine is developing nicely into a busy, full-packed issue, month after month. We have also noticed lots more GB stickers around this past few weeks indicating that the holiday-makers and maison secondaire owners are starting to cross the Channel again. It’s an exciting time for those on their holidays, and also for us to show them how lucky we are living here all year round! Enjoy yourselves....and see you next month. 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. 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: mai 2012 - Tirage: 5 000 exemplaires. Siret: 515 249 738 00011 ISSN: 2115-4848

CONTENTS What’s On.............................................................................4 Hobbies, Clubs & Associations.........................................11 Take a break......................................................................12 Health, Beauty & Fitness..................................................13 Our Furry Friends..............................................................13 The Great Outdoors...........................................................15 French Life, Food & Drink................................................17 French Adventures............................................................22 Motoring.............................................................................23 Getting Out & About..........................................................25 Communications.................................................................27 Building & Renovation.......................................................28 Business, Finance & Property..........................................34 THIS MONTH’S ADVERTISERS 79 Renovations.................................................................... 33 A La Bonne Vie (Restaurant).............................................. 20 Abord Immo (Estate Agent)................................................ 37 Absolu Paint Stripping Services (Tony Sparks)................. 30 Ace Pneus (Tyre Supplier & Fitter)................................... 23 Affordable UK Designs (Kitchens & UPVC D/Glazing)..... 2 A.I.P. (Estate Agent)........................................................... 38 AKE Petits Travaux (Builder)............................................. 33 Allez Francais (Estate Agent)............................................. 38 Andrew Longman (Plumber)............................................... 32 Andrew Quick Building Services......................................... 2 Andy Melling (Joinery & Renovation)................................. 33 An English Nursery in France (Garden Centre)................. 15 Antiquites Decoration & Galerie du 309............................. 25 Belle Maison (Construction & Cleaning Services)............. 37 Blevins Franks Financial Management Ltd......................... 39 Brian Fox (Computer Support)............................................ 28 Bruno Sellier Insurance....................................................... 2 Cafe Cour du Miracle........................................................... 21 Café des Belles Fleurs......................................................... 19 Centre de Beauregard (Horse riding & livery).................. 25 Chez Remert (Snack).......................................................... 19 Chris Bassett Construction.................................................. 33 Christies (English Book Shop and Tea Room).................... 25 Cross Channel TV (UK Satellite TV in France)................. 28 Dave Bowring (Electrician)................................................. 31 D J Maintenance (Handyman)............................................. 30 David Watkins (Chimney Sweep)........................................ 31 Dean Smalley (Cleaning & Gardening Services)................ 34 Electricité 79........................................................................ 31 Energie-79........................................................................... 32 Garage Planchet (Renault)................................................... 24 George Rayner Computers.................................................. 28 Gordon & Jocelyn Simms (Segora Writing Competitions).. 7 Hair by Janet........................................................................ 13 Hallmark Electronique (Electricians & Sat. Engineers).... 31 Homes in France (Estate Agent)......................................... 39 Insink Plumbing.................................................................... 32 John Etherington (Home and Garden)................................. 15 John Spray Maçonnerie (Stonemason)................................ 29 Julie’s Cleaning Services..................................................... 34 La Grande Galerie............................................................... 26 Le Forgeron (Ornamental Ironwork)................................... 29 Mad Hatter’s Kitchen........................................................... 18 Matthew Morgan (DJ).......................................................... 25 Michael Hobson (Painter & Decorator).............................. 30 Mini Market (Collection of services around L’absie)........ 5 Montplaisir (Restaurant, Bar & Dancing)............................ 20 MS Electrique (Electrician)................................................. 30 Mutuelle de Poitiers Assurances........................................ 23 Nathan Foster Building Services........................................ 33 Pamela Irving (Massage & Reflexology)............................ 13 Paperback Jan...................................................................... 5 Philip Irving (Mini Digger hire)............................................ 29 Philip Wellman (Plumbing Service & Maintenance)............ 32 Plombiere Anglais en France (Plumber)............................. 32 Poitou Property Services.................................................... 37 Premier Autos - Mike Lane (Mechanic)............................. 23 R&A Services (Renovation)................................................ 32 RDK Roofing & Building Services....................................... 31 Restaurant des Canards....................................................... 20 Rob Berry (Plasterer).......................................................... 31 Robert Gough Terrassement............................................... 29 Robert Walker Plomberie (Plumbing, Heating, Air con)..... 32 Ross Hendry (Interface Consulting & Engineering)........... 27 Satellite TV (Nigel Gubb).................................................... 28 sarl Down to Earth (Groundwork & Construction)............. 30 Siddalls (Financial Advisors)............................................... 36 Spectrum IFA Group (Amanda Johnson)............................ 34 Stephen’s Property Renovations......................................... 31 Steve Enderby...................................................................... 30 Sue Burgess (French Courses & Translation)..................... 9 The English Mechanic & Son - Tony Eyre........................ 24 The Honey Farm (Bee Keeper).......................................... 17 The Market (Luché-sur-Brioux)........................................ 25 Total Renovation Services (Michael Dominey).................. 30 Vendée Carriers (Man & Van Hire).................................... 24 Vendée Houses (Estate Agent).......................................... 39 Vendée Pools (Swimming Pools)........................................ 40 VêVo English Boutique........................................................ 19 3


What’s On....May 2012 1st May - Fetes de Plantes At Le Beugnon, 79130 from 9.30am. Lots to see & do. 4th May - Music/Bistro with Andy Palmer At The Madhatter’s Kitchen, Caunay. Please call to reserve a table on 05 49 27 67 29. 6th May - Plant Fair at Jarzay, St. Germain de Longue Chaume Cancer Support Deux Sèvres will have a stand at the Plant Fair at Jarzay, with information, a Tombola and very, very cheap books. 6th May - Live Jazz & Sunday Roast At Restaurant des Canards, Chef Boutonne. (See ad on P.20). May 6th - Bring and Buy Plant Sale Bric-a-Brac, Books, gifts & cards, Tombola, tea and cakes and cream teas at La Sauvagere off the D19 between St Maurice le Girard and Thouarsais  Bouildroux 85390. From 2-6pm For further info call 02 51 52 45 99. All proceeds in aid of the animal association N.A.L.A. 9th May - Book Lovers’ Society At Ecole des Filles, Salles de Villefagnan at 3pm. Author Susie Kelly will be visiting us to talk about her books. Refreshments available. More info at: 10th May - Phoenix Cards, Stationery & Gifts At Pause! cafe, L’Absie, 2pm-5pm. Contact Jo Ashforth 05 49 65 04 09. 12th-13th May Painting Exhibition Exhibition and artists painting in the streets of St Clémentin. 13th May - The BIG Book Fayre Le-Ferriere-en-Parthenay from 9am. Please see advert on P.5 for more information. 14th to 18th May - Unique Chic Week At La Grande Galerie, Civray. Call Pippa or Bert on 05 49 87 75 84 for more information. 15th May - Mini Market Monthly visit of various stall-holders to Restaurant du Lac, Secondigny. 3pm-5pm. See advert on P.5 for more info. 18th, 19th & 20th May - Hope Ass. Book Sale At the Salle des Fetes, Clussais la Pommeraie, 79190 10am - 3pm. See P.5 for further details. 20th May - Pastyfest In the garden of L'Hermitage, Puy de Serre (next house past the old railway station, look for balloons). 11am - 4pm. Including hot pasties and pies, English groceries, books, home-made cakes & teas, soft furnishings, spices, costume jewels and more. More info 02 51 00 50 59. 20th May - Soprano and Organ with Clara Guillon and Dominique Ferran at 17.00h. (see P.9 for more information). 21st May - Mini Market Monthly visit of various stall-holders to Café des Belles Fleurs, Fenioux. 2pm-5pm. See advert on P.5 for more info. 26th May - Vêvo English Boutique - Summer Collection At Café des Belles Fleurs, 11am-5pm. (See Advert P.19). 27th & 28th May - Fête de Pentecôte Please find more details on P.6.

Monthly services in the English speaking Anglican Church in Deux-Sèvres 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. St Leger The Chaplaincy of Christ the Good Shepherd, PoitouCharentes, also holds services on the 1st Sunday of each month at 10.30am at St Leger near Melle. After each service, tea or coffee is served and an opportunity to meet other people in the area. 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. For more information about location of Churches and  about what else is happening near you, please take a look at our website: or contact us at

Monthly services in the English speaking Anglican Church in the Vendée: St Pierre du Chemin All Saints, Vendée, has a Home Group Service at St Pierre du Chemin at 11am on the first Sunday of the month. It is held at the home of Chris and Julie Taylor.  Everyone is welcome for a time of worship and fellowship. Puy de Serre All Saints, Vendée holds two services each month, on the 2nd and 4th  Sundays at the church of St. Marthe, Puy de Serre, at 11am.  After each service, tea and coffee is served in the parish room and everyone is invited to a ‘bring and share’ lunch. Other services are held in the west of the Vendée, in La Chapelle Achard and La Chapelle Palluau.  For details of these, please check the website:

What’s coming up... 2nd June - Royal Dress Up with Buffet & Live Music At The Madhatter’s Kitchen, Caunay. See ad on P.18 for info 2nd June - Queen’s Jubilee Party At Café des Belles Fleurs. Live music from 8pm. See P.19. 2nd June - Concert ‘The Crucifixion’ by Sir J Stainer French choir, Via Musica, at the church, Moutiers-sousArgenton. 8:30pm, Cost 12 euros. Light refreshments. 3rd June - Concert ‘The Crucifixion’ by Sir J Stainer. French choir, Via Musica, at the Temple, Rouillé. 5:00pm Cost 12 euros. Light refreshments. 10th June - Summer Fete In aid of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres at the Temple, Cheveux, 79410. 10am-6pm. Stalls, refreshments, fish & chips, books, tombola etc.

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


THE DEUX-SÈVRES MONTHLY Paperback Jan Books in English 2nd May: Cafe Cour de Miracle, Vouvant. 2pm-4.30pm 3rd May: Bar Le Palais, St Aubin le Cloud. 2-5pm 4th May: Bar de la Paix, Thouars. 12pm-2pm 4th May: Le Tipsy Bar, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize. 4pm-6pm 6th May: Cafe des Belle Fleurs, Fenioux. 2pm-4pm 10th May: Pause! Cafe, L’Absie. 2pm-5pm 11th May: Jan’s home, La Ferrière-en-Parthenay. 11am-4pm 12th May: Cafe Le Chauray, St Maixent l’Ecole. 10am-1pm. 13th May: BIG BOOK FAYRE, La Ferriere-en-Parthenay. From 9am 20th May: Pastyfest, Puy de Serre. 11am-4pm 31st May: Joie de Vivre, Moncoutant. 2pm-5pm For more info contact Jan on: 06 08 30 73 29 or email:

Open La Vendee Chippy Traditional Fish & Chips in France!


• Wednesdays (May 2nd, 9th, 16th, 23rd & 30th) Bar ‘Auberge le St Vincent’, St Vincent Sterlanges • Thursdays (May 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th & 31st) Bar ‘La Rando’, Mervent. • Fridays (May 4th, 11th Take-away only & 25th. 18th: At Landrover Dirty w/end from 8pm.) Bar ‘Au Bon Coin’, Thoursais Bouildroux For more info please email:

Fish 4 Chip Fish, Chips & mushy peas!



Bar Tilleuls, Champniers (near Civray)

Tuesdays: Sauzé-Vaussais (Main square & can be eaten in local bar). Wednesdays: Chef Boutonne (near Chateau) Thursdays: Sauzé-Vaussais (Main square & can be eaten in local bar). Fridays:

Mansle (Car park of Simply Supermarket)

Tel: 06 37 53 56 20, or visit:

Helping animals  in  need

Open 6-8p

Reel Fish & Chips Traditional English style Fish & Chips

2nd May: The Canteen, Etusson. 18H30 - 21H00 11th May: Bar Tabac PMU, Bouille-Loretz. 18H30 - 21H00 12th May: Cafe du Sport, L'Absie. 18H30 - 22H00 13th May: Paperback Jan’s, La Ferriere-en-Parthenay. 12H00 - 15H00 16th May: The Canteen, Etusson. 18H30 - 21H00 18th May: Bar Tabac, Genneton. 18H30 - 21H00 Tel: 06 04 14 23 94, or visit:


Thousands of English & French Books for just 1 euro each!

Fri 18th, Sat 19th & Sun 20th May 2012 At the Salle des Fetes, Clussais la Pommeraie, 79190

10am - 3pm Refreshments, English  Fish  and  Chips,  Grand  Raffle  and   more  a8rac:ons All money raised from this event will go to help Animals in Need and support other Animal Organisations Books  to  Donate?  E  mail: We urgently need used greeting cards of any sort, please donʼt throw them away, we will have a collection box at the Book Sale for you to deposit them in.  Please ask your family, friends & neighbours if they have any.

Local Markets Mondays: Tuesdays: Wednesdays: Thursdays: Fridays: Saturdays: Sundays:

Lencloitre (1st Monday in month) (dept.86) Lezay, Coulonges-sur-l’Autize, Thouars Parthenay Sauzé Vaussais, Niort Thouars, Melle Chef Boutonne, Airvault, Niort, St. Maixent l’École, Fontenay le Comte Neuville (dept.86) 5


Did you have YOUR Say?

A huge thank you to all for the wonderful number of submissions we received for the Reader’s Online Questionnaire. It seems we are doing something right as all comments were very positive and included some great ideas and ways to improve for the future. Exactly what we wanted! If you were able to complete the online questionnaire, you would have automatically been entered into the draw to win 100€ of store vouchers to help decorate or renovate your home. The lucky winner was Ms Caroline Auckland from Vasles. “2005 was a very special year for me” explained Caroline, “I had dreamed of living in France for literally decades and finally this came true. This was my 50th birthday year (yes, life can begin at 50!); my ‘children’ had safely flown the nest and I had a new life ahead of me. In March that year my new husband-to-be and I found and bought our farmhouse in France; in the DeuxSevres!  We have both always lived in the countryside and now we have been able to enjoy the many pleasures of French Winner: Ms Caroline Auckland country living.  As Simon still tells me “Moving to France is the best idea I ever had!”

Fête de Pentecôte

The association Charabia was founded in 2000, with the objective of building a float for the Fête de Pentecôte at Parthenay. The fête is a major event in the calendar for the people of Parthenay, with more than 10,000 attending the four day event. The highlight of the many attractions the parade of floats on the night of Sunday 27th May and Monday afternoon, 28th May. The Parthenay council decides on the theme for the parade. The theme for 2011 was “Adventurers” and our float was based on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The theme for 2012 is “The History of Parthenay” to celebrate 1,000 years since the incorporation of Parthenay. There are nine floats with many show bands this year. We have each been allocated a different century in the history. Our period is the 13th Century and we intend to celebrate the connections between Parthenay and the Crusades. A small team Carol, Dave, Dan, Rod, John, Barry, Hazel and Lin have been building the Charabia float over a period of three months, working mainly on a Saturday, whilst Maureen, Ann, Mary and Connie are busy making all the costumes. We construct in a shed with the other French Associations, so it’s not all hard work. We do have some fun and have developed lots of new relationships over the months, each keen to watch the different levels of construction... Come along and see us at the end of May to see how we got on!

YOUR Book Reviews... NEW! Many of us often have our noses in a book, so I thought it may be fun to share some book reviews with others in this new regular spot. A big THANK YOU to Helen Tait-Wright for starting us off with one of her favourite reads: “Flat Out, Flat Broke: Formula 1 the Hard Way” by Perry McCarthy. This is a super book even for non-racing fans, one of my all time favourites and I cannot recommend it enough. Perry’s story is interesting and at times farcical and his writing style is witty and down-to-earth. Maybe this is his real talent! In essence this is a story of one man’s determination to succeed against all the odds. Even if you have never heard of Perry by name, and I suspect that is most people, you will have heard of most of his friends, Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert to name but two, and you will remember the original Top Gear “black” Stig........that was Perry. His story exposes the non glamorous side of racing and F1 in particular, and the sacrifices he made and the scams he pulled to get a seat on the F1 grid. You will live his emotions with him, howl with laughter and cry in frustration. Above all you won’t want the story to end! Did it all end up happily ever after? Read it and see! Available from Amazon

If you would like to share a book review with us, please send it on an email to: marking the subject ‘Books’ and we will show them here.

The DSM Monthly Photograph Competition

WINNER! Congratulations to this month’s competition winner, Yvette van Meegeren, 79340 “ A picture of my Baudet du Poitou, Jennet, who gave birth just 15 min before this picture was taken”.

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. 6


Watching paint dry.... Not only but also . . .

by Sue Newell

Starting a business is never easy, months of research, sales forecasts, cash flow forecasts...... it makes one exhausted just thinking about it – but add to that the challenge of doing it all in a different language and it seems almost impossible. by Jocelyn Simms

St.Clémentin’s festival workshops 31st August – 2nd September Not only will you be able to meet up to forty authors at the festival but there is also an opportunity to attend some free workshops offered by experts in their respective fields. Bill Kirton has been an actor, director and TV presenter, and is the author of stage and radio plays, short stories and crime novels. Bill says, ‘I have an idea of a plot, of course, but in that first rush, it’s the characters who take me where they want to go. The impetus is always from that magical period when characters take possession of themselves and tell me what they want.’ Writers have to ‘find a voice’ and Lorna Penney can help you discover aspects of your physical voice and develop confidence in using it. Lorna is frequently a guest tutor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and at Scottish National Opera. She is offering two workshops and will also be available for individual consultations throughout the festival. On Saturday Tim Kay will demonstrate some tricks of the keyboard so you can acquire mastery of your computer and produce documents to be proud of. Even retrieve them! If you want to join Bill’s workshop ‘Write a crime story in an hour,’ Lorna’s ‘Find your Voice’ or Tim’s ‘Microsoft has the Word for it’ please email or call us now. Although the workshops are free, places are strictly limited. Ring or email us for a free programme.

Having spent much of last year between two homes, we arrived back in the Deux-Sèvres in January to live “définitivement en France”. The snow somewhat hampered plans, but after a shaky start, we are almost at the point of “living the dream”! After spending years rubbing down furniture, priming, and undercoating before finally painting, I discovered a paint that needed little or no preparation! I rushed to book my course and learn more and it really was true – anyone can use this paint and get wonderful results. Hubby then picked up the brush and suddenly the future seemed clear, so, 6 months after our initial meeting with Annie Sloan in her Oxfordshire shop, we are now awaiting the final paperwork before becoming local stockists of her fabulous “Chalk Paint”. As with everything here in France things seem to take twice as long as anticipated. We still have to decide on a business name but the workshop is almost finished and the display area half stocked. Courses need to be planned and advertised and with our initial consignment of paint waiting to be loaded onto a pallet, the dream still seems a long way off; but we are getting there and on a sunny day what better way to earn a living? Check out next month’s magazine to find our advert, discover our name and book your course, or ring us any time for more information on 05 49 70 00 19.

Writing muscles can be flexed by entering the current Segora competitions: Vignette, short story and poetry.

And remember – painting should be fun – and that includes the walls and woodwork!

What’s a Vignette? The Vignette is a word-picture – it may be poignant, exciting, amusing even surreal. Every one of its maximum of 300 words must be carefully chosen to deliver a memorable and succinct piece of writing. Read previous winners on

Sue and Richard Newell. Vernoux en Gatine.

The most recent event held by the Northern Section was a meeting held at the Café des Belle Fleurs in Fenioux, followed by lunch which was attended by most of our Northern Section members, and several more who had joined the RBL that day. Prior to the meeting, Ken Isaac, the proprietor of the Café gave an insightful talk about his time and experiences in Kabul and Helmand Province in Afganistan.  This included many photographs of the people and their homes. Seeing photographs of the homes built on the hills surrounding Kabul was like seeing into the past, mud huts with no sanitation and very little space in between each home, an almost biblical scene.  It was a very thought provoking talk. The  next venue for  the Northern Section, will be in the park in Parthenay for the Deportation Parade,  usually followed by coffee in one of the cafés in the main square, so please come and join us.

Contact ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ La Bartière, 79130, Secondigny. Telephone: 05 49 70 26 21 or email:

Please visit the branch website, for more information regarding the Royal British Legion Linazay Branch (Northern Section) British Day; celebrating HM Diamond Jubilee on Sunday 1st July 2012 in Parthenay. Please Note that the event advertised in the April edition of The DSM to be held on 3rd June 2012 has been CANCELLED due to family illness and the organisers having to return to the UK for several weeks. Terri Laverick (PRO, Northern Section) 7




On the 19th March Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres met with the Palliative Care Unit at Parthenay Hospital for a grand presentation of all the specialized equipment that had been donated by the efforts of the members of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres, their supporters and you the general public. It all started back in September of last year when Cancer Support held an Awareness Week. It was decided that in order to raise awareness throughout Deux-Sèvres, it would be a good idea to hold events each day of the week covering the whole of Deux-Sèvres and to use the money raised for a specific project. A wide variety of events were held from coffee mornings (or afternoons), to a barbecue roast, a curry lunch and even a quiz night. These events, primarily done to raise awareness, also raised a considerable amount of money for our project. Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres already had a very good relationship with the Palliative Care unit where we have helped on a number of occasions with language problems. We were aware that they are not equipped to the level of a hospice in the UK and had asked Dr. Oualim and his team if there were any special pieces of equipment which would make the lives of their patients easier. This resulted in a list with various items in order of priority. At the top of the list was a massage bed and all its accessories. Further down the list were items like special pillows, specialized alarm buttons, particular equipment for washing the hair of a patient unable to be in a normal position and many others. We knew we couldn’t manage it all but with the fantastic support we received during the Awareness Week we were able to say to Dr. Oualim and his team that they could spend up to €5000 and we would foot the bill. We were also fortunate that some of the suppliers were very generous in the discounts they gave. On the day of the presentation nine members of the Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres team were present along with the Directeur of the North Deux-Sèvres Hospitals Mr. André Razafindranaly, Dr. Oualim and all of his team from the Palliative Care Unit and also a number of other members of hospital staff. Mr. Razafindranaly welcomed us all making a joke about how the English were in this area in force for many years in times gone by, which is probably why they feel so ‘at home’ in France now. This was also the day to formalise the agreement between the North Deux-Sèvres hospitals and Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres enabling members of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres to be called upon when requested. Dr. Oualim explained that he is so pleased to have an organization like Cancer Support to help, when needed, with difficulties of the language. Already during the previous year we had worked together on several occasions. He said that for him and his staff it is sometimes difficult to understand the little things when someone speaks a different language but that now, at the patient’s request, he can call upon Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres for help with language problems. He appreciates that the help Cancer Support can give will help them understand more deeply the patient’s needs. He talked about the gifts that had been given to the Unit and stressed that those gifts will enable another kind of care in addition to the medical care. For a patient to receive massage treatment is very relaxing and contributes to their overall feeling. It is very important how they feel about themselves. After the formal signing of the Agreement, everyone was invited to the special room set aside for the massage table and relaxation therapies. In charge is Mme Martine Roy, socio-estheticienne, who took us through all the various therapies including full body massage or perhaps particular parts of the body depending on a patient’s needs. She also does reflexology, washes hair, gives beauty treatments to the face, hands, feet and nails. This can be followed with make-up, for instance, if a person has lost all their hair that may include losing eyebrows, in which case she is able to restore them with make-up. It is important that the patient looks and feels good.

Psychologically it is very important for them to be able to look in a mirror and feel good about it. This is all done in a very relaxing atmosphere with gentle music in the background. Mme Roy is overjoyed with the special equipment that has been given by Cancer Support DeuxSèvres as it will now enable her to do so Above: Mme Roy demonstrating the much more for her massage bed. patients. She is not only at Parthenay but also spends some time at Thouars and Bressuire. For this she has a case on wheels with her various products, so that she is able to offer a similar service to patients in those hospitals too. So far approximately €4000 of the €5000 allocated has been spent and we look forward to the arrival of the remaining items which the Palliative Care Unit have chosen to help make the lives of their patients more comfortable. So to all those who contributed in any way during Cancer Support Awareness Week last September, a VERY BIG THANK YOU from the Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres team and the Palliative Care Unit at Parthenay Hospital.

Keith Richard Andrews 8th October 1945 - 31st March 2012 Keith was born in Lincoln, where his family owned a busy newsagents in the centre of the town. He attended the City School, Lincoln after which he gained an apprenticeship with the RAF to the Apprentice School RAF Halton, where he worked on the electrical systems of the Vulcan bomber. After his military career he went on to join the civil service as a trainee accountant and finished his working days as an auditor for the NHS. Keith and Carol moved to Mazières-en-Gatine in 1998 with two dogs and four cats in order to retire. Keith became a shepherd for a few years while Carol acted as midwife until they decided to retire the remaining nine of their small flock, allowing them to live out their lives in luxury. In France Keith became involved with the historical section of the GT (Get Together) Club and remained an active member. Keith, in addition to being treasurer and a founding member of Cancer Support Deux-Sèvres, was also treasurer of Charabia, where his love of electrics kept him active in assisting with the construction of the Charabia floats which took part in the Parthenay Carnival. His other interests were very much historical, his favourite periods being the French Revolution, British medieval history and the English Civil War. On March 15th of this year he and Carol celebrated their 45th wedding anniversary. Keith was a rare character with a wicked sense of humour who will be sadly missed by all. 8

My grandson's got 12 donkeys...

by Sue Burgess

...or why you should be careful about pronunciation and other common mistakes. Please note, in the examples given below, I have not used ‘real’ phonetic symbols but simply tried to write the sentence as it sounded or should sound. «Mon petit fils a douze ânes» (mon putty feece a dooz ann) Really, 12 donkeys? What colour? Male or female? Look of incomprehension. Something's not right. «he's 12 years old». AH! «Mon petit fils a douze ans» (mon putty feece a dooz on). Well, you have a large house and a lot of land, he could have had 12 donkeys! How many English people have eaten sand? Le dessert (pudding) is pronounced le dayssair and not le dezair which is a place like the Sahara. And if the waiter says «vous prenez un dessert?» it is important to hear the «un» to understand that he is asking you if you would like a dessert, and not «vous prenez des cerfs?» - are you taking any deer? I remember once going to a scout weekend somewhere in a remote area of La Charente. The place was easy to find we were told because of «les cerfs» (deer). In fact «les cerfs» turned out to be «les serres» (greenhouses). And what about the weekend where each unit was asked to bring «des pâtes» (pasta) and not «pâtés» (meat paste or pâté). The importance of that accent over the e! And have you ever had your horses cut? I wonder how many hairdressers have been surprised by English people asking for «un rendezvous pour faire couper les chevaux» (lay shevoh) instead of «les cheveux» (lay shevuh). If your female cat is lost, better to say «j'ai perdu mon chat» using the masculine form for the animal as «ma chatte» can have quite a different meaning just as “my pussy” does in English! The weather's hot? Be careful to say «J'ai chaud» and not «je suis chaude» which likewise has a very different meaning. Hot stuff eh? If your not sure, better to play on the safe side and say «il fait chaud». (The weather is hot). A puppy is «un chiot» (shiow), a slang word for a toilet is «une chiotte» (shiott). And have you ever turned up for a Sunday morning market (“un marché” (un marshay) only to find everyone kitted out for a Sunday morning walk? “une marche” (oon marsh). Such errors can lead to embarrassment (you know you must have said something wrong when everyone starts sniggering) or perhaps even misunderstanding. Of course it works the other way round for French people trying to speak English too and also for people learning other languages. Perhaps the most famous slip of all (albeit not in French) being Kennedy's attempt to be a Berlin man and saying he was a cake. “Ich bin ein Berliner” instead of “ich bin Berliner”.

Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Easily confused words un an..........................

a year

un âne............................ a donkey un chiot.......................... a puppy une chiotte..................... the WC (probably on a register of language similar to calling a toilet “the bog”)

Le parking..................... a car park Stationnement................ parking Le ball-trap.................... clay pigeon shooting La marche...................... walk Le marché...................... market Les pâtes........................ pasta Le paté........................... paté Un livre.......................... a book Une livre........................ a pound (weight or money) Actuellement.................. at the present time, currently En fait............................ Actually Couramment..................


Soprano and Organ

with Clara Guillon and Dominique Ferran Clara Guillon was born on the 17th July 1992. Her father and grandfather were musicians and both were well known in this area. She began to sing when she was 8 years old. At the age of 14 she entered the Poitiers Conservatory. In 2010 she obtained a highly commended in the UMPCF competitive exam in Paris. In 2011 she was the winner of the regional prize in the international singing competition in Vivonne. At Poitiers Conservatory she studies chamber music with Dominique Ferran. She sings airs from all musical eras. Dominique Ferran holds the harpsichord teaching certificate and teaches harpsichord, organ and chamber music at Poitiers Conservatory. He is the organist at NotreDame-La-Grande Church in Poitiers. He has had a career as a soloist playing the harpsichord and the organ throughout Europe. He has appeared with a number of orchestras and groups including «Stradivaria» with whom he played in one of the inaugural concerts for the organ of St Loup sur Thouet Church. He has recorded many CDs. Along with Francis Jacob, he recorded the CD of the inauguration of the organ of St Loup Church. «Les Amis de l'Orgue» are very happy to introduce this young local singer accompanied by Dominique Ferran. On the programme: Bach, Strozzi, Monteverdi... Tickets 10 euros. Reservation advised 05 49 70 81 92 or 05 49 64 66 36. 9

Gender roles and ideology in Nazi Germany ‘Military or Civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War’, pub, March 2012 If you were young, German and female in 1939 you were at the poorer end of the gender scale. Unable to hold professional posts, ill-educated, your role was defined politically, ideologically and socially as a servant, assistant, mother. You’d taken part in political youth activities, but had no outlet for personal development and no chance of a career.

By early 1945, you were very likely to be manning an anti-aircraft gun in a cold field all night, wearing a thick serge Luftwaffe uniform, or working a signals link in a military unit under bombardment, and serving alongside male soldiers, praying it would all end soon. So how did the ideological and gender norms change so radically in Nazi Germany? Why were young women, the future mothers of the nation, in uniform, under fire and playing a crucial role in their nation’s war efforts? And why have they had to bury such experience, fearing to be seen as part of a criminal regime? Now in their 80s and 90s, many former Helferinnen are speaking out. 500,000 young women worked in the German armed forces by the end of the Second World War. Uniformed, under military discipline, posted to every corner of the German Reich and occupied territories, could they still be regarded as civilians or were they truly military? About the author Alison Morton gained a distinction with the Open University for her master's degree in history dissertation. Very little source material or literature existed in English, only German. But using her translation and research skills Alison was able to track down and access military histories, personal accounts and original documentation. This has become "Military or Civilians?". Before returning to three years of slog, sweat and stimulation that is the lot of OU students, she had served six years in the 39th (City of London) Royal Signals (V). Fortunate never to have experience of total war, she tasted the anxiety of practical aspects of life in theatre via NATO and local exercises at home and abroad including in Cyprus, Denmark and Germany.

Above: Alison Morton

Currently living in France, she writes Roman-themed thrillers and blogs at Military or Civilians? The curious anomaly of the German Women’s Auxiliary Services during the Second World War is available as an ebook on,, and

Contact ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ Telephone: 05 49 70 26 21 or email:

Down memory lane.

by David Lewis

In early June, why not do something quite different? Spend a weekend afternoon in a French village new to you. Relax and listen to beautiful, traditional English music in a cool church. Revive memories of idyllic sounds heard in the UK and feel at home. You can at Moutiers-sous-Argenton church, 16 km north of Bressuire on Saturday 2nd June at 8:30pm and at Rouillé temple, 6 km west of Lusignan, on Sunday 3rd June at 5pm. The programme lasts an hour and a half; full cost 12 euros. Have you ever sat back and listened to this famous piece of church music, Stainer’s ‘Crucifixion’? Traditionally it is performed every Easter. Typically, the French are quite content to sing music out of season in June because it is the month of music festivals! A French choir based at Niort brings it across the Channel. Founded in 2007 and with nearly two dozen voices, Via Musica is directed by Marc Vanderbecken and supported by the organist, Michel Milheres. Singing in English is not always straightforward for them. “Woman” and “Women” look similar, but they are pronounced so differently.


Crucifixion’ is an Easter cantata written in 1887, in the manner that Bach composed his two famous Passions: the original story sung by soloists, alternating with specially written responses and chorales written by the cleric/poet W . J . S p a r r o w Above: French choir, ‘Via Musica’ Simpson and sung by a choir. The music is at times dramatic and then reflective, always tuneful and easy on the ear. There are two main soloists: Julien Girard (Tenor) and Romain Jurmande (Bass), both from Paris and professional musicians. Organist, Michel Milheres, (son of Jean Milheres the composer and organist) has a distinguished record, including several years at Bayonne cathedral, and he has given concerts in many cities of Europe, from Vienna to Seville. The organ at Moutiers is English, built in 1899 by John Trustam of Bedford and recently restored by Martin Renshaw, who now lives in France. The organ was exported to France and installed in 2009. The French organ at Rouillé was built recently in Deux-Sèvres at Thénezay by Jean-Pascal Villard and installed in 1995. The country church at Moutiers is charming and superbly maintained. The Rouillé Temple is a classical Reformation building, just beyond the Mairie. All but two members of the choir are French. Some are professional musicians, most have daytime jobs while others are retired. In June 2013, they plan to sing John Rutter’s Requiem. But before that you will be able to catch up with them again together with the organist, when they give several concerts in Deux-Sèvres in December, singing and playing seasonal music to bring in Christmas. Included will be organ solos, songs and carols spanning hundreds of years to the present day, from Europe to America. In fact, there is something for every musical taste. Information and reservations: Elisabeth Torné. 09 81 19 46 90 /06 28 34 31 10, or email:


Hobbies, Clubs & Associations... Is anyone in the Chef-Boutonne area interested in French conversation get-togethers? Nothing heavy or burdensome - ,just fun in learning French. I don't know if there is already such a class in existence, if there is, I am keen to learn more about it. I am not asking about formal paying lessons, just fun get togethers with like minded people. Please contact Brenda Dudley on

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: 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 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:

2nd Sunday Club Doesn't time fly when you’re having fun and all of a sudden we are about to commence the Club's 3rd season. It only seems like it was yesterday that Mark, Ian and I were sitting down to a meal in May 2010 when I suggested that we should start up a club to run our bikes at least once a month and even if nobody else turned up we could still give our bikes a run! Now we have approximately 35 members both English and French and we have a really good time either on a summertime run or a coffee morning during the winter. We have our own website and even have Club badges now at a cost of 2 Euro each. When we have collected enough from the sale of these we shall be getting either neckerchiefs or caps with our logo on them. If you would like to join our club please go to our website where all our announcements are made as to where and when our events are held. We usually meet at the Casse Croute Vendeen (the Tractor Restaurant) on the ring road at Pouzauges for our club runs and various members’ homes for the winter coffee mornings. In July this year we will also be having a 'Breakfast Run' to Café des Belles Fleurs at Fenioux and there will be a BBQ at Rob and Sue's in August. We will keep our fingers crossed for good weather on event days!

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. Les Jardiniers du Poitou (Gardening club) The next meeting is on 24th May at the Salle de Fetes in Verruyes at 2.00PM. This month  the  talk  will  be  about  Chickens  and  their  use  in   the  Garden.    Come  and  join  us! 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 have started meeting again. Why not join us? More details from Nigel 02 51 51 48 13.

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 05 49 29 94 50. The name of our group comes from the fact that St Coutant is on the Greenwich Meridian!

Interlude16. An association offering ‘Leisure & Culture for all’. Lots of regular events organised. Please see website for May’s program and more information. You speak french (un peu), I speak english (a little bit), why don't we meet up to improve each language? One hour per week could be good timing, by phone or for coffee mornings. I'm retired, living in Niort, having joined a twinning association with Wellingborough a few years ago. Please call at 06 73 70 14 21 or send email for more details:

Caroline and Ian Self 11

Take a Break...

Across: 1. Choice of ends? (5,2,5) 7. Consequences of unusual rustles? (7) 8. Cry profusely before the queen and you will get restrained (5) 10. Contest for two, we hear? (4) 11. New lad tackles unusual apple, but ends up disgusted (8) 12. If you pass this strange rum set you receive approval (6) 14. Is lint put in the mix to gradually get the idea across? (6) 17. This for cash leaves one a bit short (8) 19 Took the wrong pass to find the mountain resorts (4) 22. 50 is on the border line of “the shelf” (5) 23. Bowler who may be able to offer a yarn of some sort (7) 24. A good telling-off for not wearing one’s best clothes? (8,4)

Sudoku Corner...

Down: DSM Easy Crossword! 1. Tagged, named (8) 2. Capable of inflicting pain or suffering (6) 3. Contestant you hope to defeat (5) 4. Positive principle of Chinese philosophy (4) 5. Builder with stone (5) 6. Something that keeps things out of sight (6) 7. Any of various types of cabbage (4) 10. Most close (7) 11. Few in number, rare (7) 13. Type of medical scan (abbrev) (1,1,1) 15. Hits (5) 17. Sound made by a horse (5) 20. National emblem of Wales (8) 23. One millionth of a meter (6) 25. Leaking out slowly (6) 27. Small piece of land in the sea (5) 29. Apple juice drink (alternative spelling) (5) 30. Assist or encourage in wrongdoing (4) 32. A state in western United States (4)

Down: Toughie Crossword! 1. Raised, it is said, to be put on the payroll? (5) 2. Poles swear mix-up produced responses (7) 3. Deposit left by river after new list is written (4) 4. Don’t vote if odd bias is given to strange ant. (7) 5. AI exchange in brand gives rise to slander (5) 6. Sounds like the reins are concerning the newly-wed? (6) 8. Takes strength from a repeat of the error in 19.....? (4) 12. ....gets it back again from seafood, we hear? (6) 13. Former journalist gets the fast train, and daily! (7) 15. To paint in an unusual way gives rise to exploit (3,4) 16. Sets off to find tragic heroine (4) 18. A tracking device that works both ways? (5) 20. Alarm raised when religious class is found to be in sin (5) 21. Confess all to police colloquially, and melodiously? (4)



With thanks to M.Morris

Please see website: for answers

Across: 1. Freedom (7) 5. Artistic form of auditory communication (5) 8. Take in food (3) 9. English or England (word used in combined form) 12. Large Australian bird (3) 14. Having the necessary means (4) 16. Not outer (5) 18. Stage name for Scottish pop singer Marie Lawrie (4) 19. Mrs Blyton’s first name (4) 21. Cocktail made of gin with dry vermouth (7) 22. Drop in a heap (4) 24 Popular ball sport (4) 26. Egyptian goddess of fertility (4) 28. Resound (4) 30. Something curved in shape (3) 31. A detailed inspection (5) 33. Exhibition house for animals (3) 34. Avoid capture (5) 35. Dye with a colour (5) 36. Befitting a king (5)


Health, Beauty & Fitness... Farewell from Sandy G

I would like to thank all of my customers for your support over the last 18 months. Sadly, the “French Dream” isn’t for everyone and I have returned to the UK. Ross is staying on here in France to continue his computer support business. I shall be getting a small flat in the West Country and we intend to get together as often as we can, so I may see you again on one of my visits to see Ross; as he says for the time being we have twin beds, one in France and one in the UK! Cath Neal of Gentle Touch Hair and Beauty is happy to take on my customers (and any new ones) her telephone number is 02 51 51 34 71, her salon is also located at La Chapelle aux Lys. Best wishes to you all, Sandy x

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:


APPEAL “Caline” a lovely little female Teckel is looking for a new home. Have you room in your doggy family for this little girl? Caline is a very sweet and much loved 8 year old Teckel whose owner has gone into care because of Alzheimers, and so this little bundle of fun needs a new home. Caline is a very easy-going dog, good with humans, children and other dogs, and will tolerate cats out of doors but not inside. She is used to being around horses and chickens and walks happily off her lead.  You couldn’t find a nicer small little friend, although as you can see, she enjoys her food and could do with losing a pound or two! Whilst Caline would suit an older person, she is in her element outside enjoying the fresh air meeting people. Could you foster/adopt a dog like Caline? We desperately need animal lovers to come forward and help us in this way? Please contact me: Siobain on 05 49 27 26 20 or email: giving your name, details of where you live and your contact telephone number, we will do the rest.

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme: Money, Money, Money *

All the animal protection associations need money. “Our” animals stay with foster families which gives us a good insight into their behaviour and allows us to find out if they are good with other animals, children etc. It also means that our infrastructure costs are minimal compared to other organisations which have kennels. However, we do spend an absolute fortune on vets' bills: more than 90% of our income. All our animals are identified and vaccinated and even castrated if they are old enough before we have them adopted. If they stay with us for more than a month they need a second booster vaccination and if they become ill or have injuries, then costs go through the roof. Even though we get a good discount from generous vets, we have to compete with people who are giving their animals away for free. For about twenty years it has been obligatory in France that when cats and dogs change ownership they have to be identified. In practice, this doesn't always happen, as can be seen by the adverts on “le bon coin”where unidentified animals are given away. In a way, we're caught between a rock and a hard place; we don't want to keep animals for too long as not only does it cost us money, there is a big risk that the foster family will crack and want to keep the animal. Although that's nice for them and the animal, it's a bit of a headache for us as we then lose a foster family! On the other hand, we don't want to give away animals for free to place them more rapidly; not only do we make a loss, but we believe that if people pay a reasonable amount of money for an animal then they are likely to look after it better than if they get it for free.

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:

Over the last 18 months or so we've placed over 100 animals, mainly cats and dogs. On average we've made a loss of €30 per animal. We've also made some donations to help people on low incomes with vets' bills. So how come we're not bankrupt? Well that's thanks to donations, membership fees and also fundraising activities. We've held open days, had stalls at Vide greniers and organised coffee mornings and afternoon teas.

Just for Fun...

Many thanks to all those who have organised or participated in any of these events, we hope you had fun and want you to know how much we and the animals appreciate your efforts. If you would like to help by organising something, please contact us via or contact any of the other organisations, they would be grateful for any help too.

'This is our

cat Sweep, he loves lying under the fire to keep himself warm.

Toby Hancock Aged 11.

Also keep an eye on the list of events in this magazine and try to support them, especially, blatent plug time, our concert featuring two acts: the group “French Connection” and solo artist “Nigel” who perform hits from the sixties to the nineties. The concert will be on 16th June in the salle du Chêne Vert in Mouilleron-en-Pareds, Vendée. Doors open at 19h30 and the concert will start at 20h00. Tickets €10.

* Many thanks to ABBA for providing the inspiration for this article.

Nos Amis Les Animaux 85480 (NALA 85480).

Our adorable furry friends... Please send us your pictures and any comments to be featured here.

Tel: 06 48 68 40 37


Send your entry via email to: 14

The Great Outdoors... The Amateur Gardener

by Vanda Lawrence

As I write this in mid-April our weather is still very unsettled with chilly winds and even hailstorms. We have had considerable snow/frost damage to our shrubs but the Rose of Sharon, Lavender and Azaleas are thankfully making new growth. Not so with the Hibiscus I'm afraid nor the Ceanothus - they are all looking very sorry for themselves. Hopefully, once the dead wood is removed and they have had a good feed they will recover. This is a good time to take stock of your shrubs. Are they looking fit and healthy? A lack of magnesium will result in yellow/brown patches around leaf edges and between veins so choose your fertiliser accordingly, whilst plants preferring acid soils will benefit from a fertiliser with extra iron. Those plants which didn't flower/fruit/berry very well last year will reap the benefit from extra potash and a nitrogen-rich fertiliser will perk up anything looking pale and tired. You can make your own totally organic liquid fertiliser from nettles which are a rich source of calcium, magnesium, zinc, iron, copper & potassium. Pack fresh nettles into a large bowl or container. Add water (approx 10 litres to 2lb nettles). Mix to ensure all leaves are covered with water then cover with clingfilm or a tight-fitting lid. Stir several times over the next few weeks and when rotted down strain into a bucket (the remaining solids can go straight onto the compost heap). To use, dilute 10 parts water to 1 part nettle juice. You can do the same thing with Comfrey if you have it growing in your garden. Comfrey is rich in nitrogen, phosphorus and potash. Save your egg-shells - not only can you use crushed eggshells to deter those pesky slugs from the Hostas but you can add a layer to the bottom of planting holes when you are filling your shrub borders and flower beds. The egg-shells will aid drainage as well as being a natural source of calcium. (NB - egg-shells are alkaline so not suitable for plants prefering acid soils). Planting new shrubs this year? With weather conditions as they are I am thinking it might be sensible to choose drought resistant species: Abelia, Ceanothus, Cistus, Hibiscus, Potentilla, Weigela to name but a few. For underplanting I would recommend the hardy evening primrose - Oenothera speciosa 'Siskiyou'. Not yellow but a pretty pale pink with yellow centre; low-growing and spreading and winter hardy. I started with three plants and now have them in several places in the garden flowering for several months during summer and early autumn.

Robert Liddiard Pedal to Paris for the Legion. Bob Liddiard of Saint Barbant, Haute Vienne, is in training to take on a challenging bike ride from London to Paris to raise money for The Royal British Legion in support of our armed forces. Bob will be one of hundreds of cyclists on the Pedal to Paris bike ride which begins in London on Thursday 30th August and ends at the Arc De Triomphe on Sunday 2nd September. This is the Legion’s 17th annual Pedal to Paris event and is the only charity ride to be escorted into the French Capital by police outriders. The ride culminates in a moving Service at the Arc de Triomphe which is shut especially for the Legion’s cyclists. The only other cycling event that receives this honour is the Tour de France. This will be the second time Bob has taken part in this event the first whilst still serving as an Artificer Sergeant Major (ASM) REME with the Royal Yeomanry in 2001. Bob is hoping to raise at least €2000 towards the Legion’s vital welfare work. Nearly 10.5 million serving and exservice people and their dependants are eligible for the Legion’s support which covers a range of services including grants to those in need, benefits and money advice, employment and retraining support, home adaptations and hospital visits as well as the provision of full nursing care. Russell Thompson, Director of National Events and Fundraising at the Legion said, “We are very grateful to Bob for taking on the Pedal to Paris challenge. It really is an incredible experience and we wish him all the best for the ride.” He said, “Apart from the training that goes into preparing for the event, the fundraising that he is undertaking on behalf of The Royal British Legion will make a real difference to the lives of those that we support. We spend £75.5 million each year on our vital welfare work and Bob’s efforts will help us considerably in continuing to provide the social, emotional and financial care to the Armed Forces Family”. Now more than ever before, the Legion needs your support. If you would like to sponsor Bob please contact him on 00 33 (0)5 55 60 05 87, email: P.R.O. Jean Benny, RBL Linazay Branch.

Bye for now......


Life on the Farm...

by Peter& Jenny Sebborn.

around a field near Pamplie. They were all a little shocked from their experience but at least we got them home safe before the fox got them. We have started with the shearing and it’s not much better than last year (have you seen the spec savers ad, well it is worse, much worse) the experts take only a few minutes but for us novices it takes forever but as they say practice makes perfect.

Welcome back to Life on the Farm. April has proved to be no less hectic than March. The veggie plot is now well underway, the pigs have done a great job of clearing the plot, manuring it as they go, ready for this year’s crop of home grown vegetables. The first batch of chickens have left the nest (not a nest exactly but the brooder box and heat lamp in the utility room) for a free range lifestyle. Our second batch of chickens have now hatched. This time we have bred some Jersey Giants (a large American breed) and just one Cou Nou chick. You may have seen some Cou Nou (Naked neck) chickens on the poultry markets, they are a French breed, very distinctive looking as they have no feathers on their necks. But best of all we have finally finished bottle feeding the lambs. Now it’s time to catch up on some well deserved, uninterrupted sleep. Lambing is never completely without problems but we do count ourselves very lucky as we have had only a few. I did have to step in to help a first time mum whose lamb had come out head first with its front legs tucked backwards and got stuck. Normally they come out head and front legs first like superman. Whilst I took care of the mum, our Labrador bitch Keira came to the rescue and began licking the lamb just like its mum would have done. Mum and lamb were soon reunited and I am pleased to say they are both doing very well. Many of the lambs have been weaned and have now gone to their new owners some for lawn mowers and some to be fattened for the freezer. On Easter Sunday we saw the arrival of the latest lambs-our first set of triplets called Snap, Crackle and Pop. The rabbit has had her first litter of kits (yes baby rabbits are called kits not bunnies). We haven’t seen how many yet as she’s very protective and won’t let us have a look. If we try too hard to find out she may well kill and eat the babies. Our two old pygmy goat girls Mya and Scraggy Aggie are “en vacance”. They love being out in the sunshine munching so we have loaned them to some friends who need some ground cleared. The goats are getting on a bit and when we had the snow and cold snap they were still shivering in the barn so Jenny bought them “kids’” coats, matching of course! The nine baby guinea fowl went a little too “free range” and took themselves off a couple of kilometres to our neighbouring farmers’ fields. Luckily a kind French motorist called in to tell us the direction they were heading. We finally tracked them down just before dark but catching the scared little mites took us two hours –I hope the locals didn’t see two demented “Anglais” diving

One thing I hope we don’t have to practise too often is artificially inseminating a pig. Yes we actually did it as Henry the boar we had on loan wasn’t successful. Our timing was not great as it had to happen over the Easter weekend with a house full of very curious and amused family! We now have to wait another three weeks to see if we have succeeded where Henry failed. Well that’s all from us for now, we do hope you’ll join us again next month to hear about our Life on the Farm. Peter & Jenny Sebborn. Breeders of pigs, lambs and poultry. La Gauteliere, Pamplie. Tel: 05 49 28 38 57.

Abeilles (Bees)

by Tania Dominey

As we are keen bee keepers, we thought we would put a few lines together about how we can all help the dwindling bee population. One of the biggest predators is the Frelon (Hornet) which will kill a bee midflight or destroy a hive. A simple method to kill Frelons (hornet) is to make a trap: - cut the top off a plastic bottle, invert the top add a cheap bottle of Above: How to make a Hornet-trap beer and cassis (not alcoholic) or grenadine juice. If possible hang the bottle about 2 metres off the ground in a tree. To help bees collect pollen and nectar we can all help in the garden with our choices of flowers that we plant such as wild flowers, open petal flowers, such as single Zinnias. May and June is the likely time for new Queens to cause the bees to swarm from the hive. They will probably hang from a tree or a classic in France is to hang between the shutter and window. If you find or think you have a swarm please do not panic, leave them alone and contact us or you can find other bee keepers on Our details are: The Dominey family, Email: or call 05 49 17 79 78 or 06 69 67 67 06.

May’s Lunar calendar...

Full Moon:6th

1st Quarter:12th

New Moon: 21st 16

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

by Gilly Hunt

Driving home from friends the other night we were delayed on the roads, which is quite unusual in the Deux Sèvres; it was not the usual delays you would expect to find in the UK such as road works - it was definitely of the Deux-Sèvres variety. First there was an owl sitting in the middle of the road, not at all bothered by the fact that there was a car sitting there, headlights on waiting for him to move, which he eventually did. We drove on for about 100 metres and there was a hedgehog just meandering down the road, again totally oblivious to the fact that there was a car/predator on the road; she eventually decided to head into a field. We continued on and then a couple of hares jumped into our path – at this point we were wondering if we were ever going to reach home. But eventually the hares also decided to leave the road and we were able to continue home with no further disturbances. Yesterday I was watching my large cat Thomas (and he is large!) playing with something in the garden, the other cats were watching from the safety of the garden table – I wondered why they were not joining in the game, until I realised that he was playing with a snake! Needless to say I did not go to the rescue, I called my husband and he went and removed the snake which was still fortunately alive and only a grass snake – but we do have adders around here so be careful everyone, the snakes are obviously waking up again! We have just had our first visitors of the year, which was lovely and made even better because the weather was so glorious. We were out and about most days, enjoying the sunshine and visiting places new and old. We went up to the Loire Valley and visited the Chateau Azay Rideau, the town was lovely with many bars, restaurants and shops,

including a lovely Chocolatier and Patisserie which had the most delicious cakes I have ever eaten.

Above: The stunning Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau The Chateau was stunning having been beautifully restored, beautiful furnishings, and also a wonderful park and water surrounding it. It is one of the best Chateaux I have visited and I have been to a few in the 7 years I have lived here! I would really recommend it as a great day out. The other great thing about having visitors, it reminds you that despite missing family and friends back in the UK, we are so lucky to be living in such an idyllic part of France, the people are friendly, the countryside is never ending, the way of life is slow and it would seem that the sun does shine more than anywhere else. How lucky we are. Vive la Difference.




French Village Diaries

I am just an ordinary expat who swapped the City commute for rural living in a draughty, stone farmhouse with barns, chickens, a vegetable garden, a fruit orchard and a blog, just like everyone else.

by Jacqueline Brown.

Food has become a passion for me since moving here in 2004 and every stage from growing it, cooking it and then eating it is an important part of my life. Most important are the vegetables and I’ve become a bit of a courgette-a-holic, regularly planting out at least 50 plants from the courgette/squash family. There are only 3 of us and Ed (aged 11) would probably prefer to starve rather than eat them, so why so many? In our old life in the UK, we loved our flowers and were just starting to get into veggie gardening by growing tomatoes and courgettes in our greenhouse. The tomatoes were a success. However, although the courgettes flowered, the tiny fruits rotted off every time. In our first summer in France we managed to tame a small area of the orchard that had been waist high in grass for many years. We tried growing a few vegetables and because of the poor state of the soil most things struggled, but the courgettes flourished and fruited their little socks off – a love affair had begun. We sow our seeds during March in mini-propagators in the greenhouse (although a sunny bedroom works as well) and pot them on when they are about 3cm high. They will be quite a good size (possibly with flowers) when we plant them into the potager in May, when we are sure there is no chance of frosts. We dig plenty of compost into the soil and plant each courgette in a shallow hollow to keep the water from running off. Once a week they get fed a high nitrogen feed that we make from stewing nettles in rainwater. It stinks, but it is great. Every year we enlarge the planting area of the vegetable plot (mainly so I can fit more courgettes in). We usually have at least 5 plants each of pumpkin, melon, butternut squash, round courgettes, two different green courgettes, yellow courgettes and patissons, along with about 50 tomato plants, plus peas, beans, salad and other vegetables. With a bit of love and lots of water there is something to harvest every day from June to the first frosts, then over winter we have plentiful pickings of Jerusalem artichokes as well as leeks and celeriac. Our summer diet features quite a few courgette based recipes; quiche, griddled (excellent with salad), plus curries, soups and ratatouille that freeze really well and are ideal for winter lunches. With the help of the freezer and summertime planning we can enjoy our daily dose of courgettes and h o m e g r o w n vegetables all year round.


This month we have a very old favourite – Devonshire scones. These are always popular with home-made strawberry jam, plus a dollop of cream. What more could you ask for other than the pot of tea to complete the Devonshire cream tea? Ingredients : • 450g self-raising flour • 1 flat teaspoon of salt • 100g butter • 50g castor sugar • 300ml milk • beaten egg to glaze For the filling : • strawberry jam • double cream Method: Sift flour and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add castor sugar and mix to a soft dough with the milk. Turn on to a lightly floured table, knead quickly, then roll out to ¾ of an inch thickness. Cut into rounds with a 2½ inch cutter. Place scones on greased baking tray and brush tops with beaten egg or milk. Bake in a very hot oven 220C for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire tray. When cold, split and serve with jam and cream. Testers Tip: To save time and effort, make up treble the quantity of rubbed in scone mixture, flour, salt, butter and sugar. Store in polythene bags for up to 3 months in a refrigerator. To use simply weigh out required quantity. If you have a favourite recipe why not send it by e-mail to marked “recipe”.

Contact Sarah Berry at ‘The Deux-Sèvres Monthly’ Tel: 05 49 70 26 21 Email:

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Sarah has asked if I would be happy to start a questions and answers section here, so if you have any food worries please email me at and I will try to help. 18

JAZZ FESTIVAL 2012 20th April to 1st July 2012 PARTHENAY 79 Not to be missed, come and share in the fun in this series of jazz events to be held in the Gâtine.

Original and varied there is something for everyone from this rural area of Les Deux-Sèvres known for its cultural events. Starting in April, concerts will be held in original and unusual settings. Operation “Commando jazz”! Every Friday evening from May to June, a free concert, in a village in Gâtine. Spotlighting just some of the main events : • On Friday, 29th June 2012 at 21h00 : “Noé Reinhardt trio” in the amphitheatre, MCP, Parthenay. • Followed by the “Samy Thiébault quintet” at 22h30 on the riverbanks of the Thouet in Parthenay. • On Saturday 30th June at 21h00 : “David El-Malek trio” in the amphitheatre, MCP, Parthenay. • On Sunday 1st July at 16h30 : “Pierre-Yves Plat” in the amphitheatre, MCP, Parthenay. For further information on the other concerts taking place in the Gâtine, (some of which are free) please consult the website: or ring the tourist office:

Café des Belles Fleurs

Café des Belles Fleurs in Fenioux is a dream come true for long-time residents of the Deux-Sèvres, Tricia and Ken Isaac, the hands-on sole owners of the bar. They are keen to highlight that contrary to rumour, no other individual or body has any vested interest in the café, as it is their business venture and theirs alone. Their new project offers a variety of entertainment, so why not join them at the weekly quiz nights and regular live music gigs. If you are free during the day, you could try the once-a-month Book Sale or Craft Fair. Good old British Breakfast is served between 11am and 2pm on weekends and during the week Tricia and Ken offer a freshly prepared, locally sourced four course lunch, including wine and café for just 12 Euros. Sports fans are well catered for with major events showing in the bar too. Café des Belles Fleurs is light and airy inside, whilst outside a newly renovated private courtyard offers the opportunity for al fresco dining. Tricia and Ken are waiting to greet you and share Café des Belles Fleurs’ experience with you. WELCOME!


Readers’ Restaurant Reviews. Thanks go to Dean Smalley, B&B owner in L’Absie, this month for his review. When in l'Absie for a meal, try the Bistro on Rue de la Poste, I go most weekends. For starters, try the black pudding and brie and for the main course, I can recommend duck in peaches. There are lots of other things on the menu too, from burgers to home made pizzas, and I would suggest trying the pizza with kebab meat - it’s delicious! They also offer take-aways. A three course menu is 15 euros and they are open evenings and weekends, closed Thursdays. Or if in the village in the daytime, try Pause! café. I am now addicted to the home-made sausage rolls, and while I’m there I also get 100 grams of jelly beans for a euro which is a bargain! Open during the day from 10am, closed Sunday and Monday. Or, try Bar de la Poste for an all-day breakfast, Pukka pies and Julie’s curry on special nights. Closed all day Sunday and Saturday lunchtime. Or, finally, the Hotel l'Etoile. It does a great buffet for a starter in the evenings, open weeknights, could be closed weekends so do check first. bon appetite!

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

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May’s Recipes...

by Mark Addy

Orange or Lemon Meringue Roulade Serves 6 - Prep time 20 mins - Cooking Time 45 mins. Ingredients: • 5 egg whites • 200g castor sugar • 1tsp cornflour • Icing sugar • 300ml crème fleurette • 5thsp orange or lemon curd (recipe for lemon/orange curd in February’s issue page 19) Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 140˚C/Gas mark 1. Grease and line a 33x23cm Swiss roll tin with baking parchment. 2. Whisk the egg whites until doubled in bulk. Add tablespoon of sugar and whisk until soft peaks form. 3. Gradually mix in half the remaining sugar, whisking until stiff and shiny. Fold in the rest of the sugar and the cornflour and spread the mixture evenly onto the tin. 4. Bake for about 45mins. When cooked, remove and cool uncovered. 5. Turn the tin over onto a large sheet of baking parchment, liberally sprinkled with icing sugar, and then carefully peel the paper away from the meringue base. 6. Spread the curd over the meringue then whip the crème fleurette until soft peaks have formed and spread over the curd. Roll up from the short end forming a Swiss Roll. 7. Dust with the extra icing sugar. When raspberries are in season you can sprinkle a layer on top of the cream before rolling up.

Injured Wine

by John Sherwin

You’ve seen the films, read the books: the suave, debonair sophisticate with the pencil moustache and ivory cigarette holder who would be ‘so perfect for dahling Victoria’ turns out to be a complete cad and bounder who cons Uncle Albert out of the family gold only to lose it at the tables in Deauville and end his days drowning kittens. Such disappointments are part of the human condition. Normally there is nothing to be done but sigh, but when faced with a duff bottle in a restaurant you have rights, citizen! I do understand that sending a bottle of wine back can be nerve-racking. It certainly shouldn’t be: any decent sommelier should treat your concerns with respect. There are, though, circumstances where you have no right to send a bottle back: if you dislike it (your problem); if the label is damaged (so what?); if there are crystals in the bottom (natural); and if there are bits of cork in your glass (inept waiter with bad corkscrew). The four defects where you should definitely stand your ground are when the wine is corked, oxidised, maderised, or refermented. Corked wine occurs when wine has been in contact with a cork which has started to decay due to micro-organic activity. Contrary to popular opinion, you can’t detect this from smelling the cork. The smell of the wine will be of sweaty socks or a wet, clammy basement, and it will taste thin, astringent and raspy. A cork which doesn’t seal properly is probably the cause of oxidised wine. This is flat and lifeless wine, tasting insipid and/or of vinegar. Colour can also seem dull.

Spinach and Goat’s Cheese Filo Tart. Serves 8 - Cooking time 35-45 mins. Ingredients: • 2 tbsp olive oil • 1 onion, finely chopped • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped • 50ml vegetable or chicken stock • 400g spinach • Pinch of ground nutmeg • 150g sun dried tomatoes, roughly chopped • 150g fresh goat’s cheese crumbled • 2 medium eggs • 3-4 tbsp breadcrumbs • 1 pack fresh filo pastry sheets, at room temperature • 50g unsalted butter, melted (doux)

Maderised wine has been adversely affected by heat, probably due to bad storage either in situ or on long ocean voyages. Tastes like Madeira – great if that’s what you ordered, but not for a dry white! A cork pushed partly out of the neck is a telltale sign. Refermented wine occurs when residual yeasts start a second fermentation in the bottle – that’s what makes sparkling wine, not what you want otherwise. If you have the slightest concern, discuss with the sommelier. Life’s too short to drink injured wine...and then pay for it! John Sherwin. French Wine Tours Email:,

Method: 1. Preheat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6. 2. Heat the oil in a pan and sweat the onion and garlic until soft. Add the stock and spinach, bit by bit as it shrinks. Add a pinch of nutmeg, salt and pepper. Put aside to cool. 3. Squeeze out the spinach and mix with the sun dried tomato, goat’s cheese, eggs and 2-3 tbsp of the breadcrumbs. 4. Grease an 8 inch flan tin with a removable base. 5. Carefully lay one sheet of pastry in the tin. Brush it with melted butter. Turn the tin 45 degrees clockwise and lay another sheet of pastry. Brush with butter. Keep going until the tin is well covered. Sprinkle in the remaining breadcrumbs then fill with the spinach mixture. 6. Lay two further pastry sheets on top, folding the edges into the centre, and brush with butter. 7. Bake for 35-45mins until crisp and golden brown. Serve hot or cold. 21

French Adventures... This month, local resident Dean Smalley tells us how he came to run a Bed & Breakfast in l’Absie.

and off to work. By December they had all left, so I started to re-decorate the rooms.

“It was May 2003, my parents had just got back from a 5 day coach tour in France and decided they would like to buy a house there. Well that came out of the blue, so I said to them jokingly, “If you buy a house in France, I shall go and live in it”, not thinking I ever would!

Every year is different with the Bed and Breakfast and gite regarding bookings. The house hunters have more or less stopped, so our trade is different this year I have advertised on a couple of cheap French websites and this seems to be working and already the first three months are very busy, with a lot of advance bookings for the summer.

A year later in 2004 and after many hours watching ‘A Place In The Sun’ and Amanda Lamb, we were booked to come to France to buy a house. I had only ever been to France twice - to Calais - and never thought I would go and live there. I had lived in Portugal and Australia, and always thought I would retire to the sun, possibly Italy... well I still might as I haven’t retired yet! So, May 2004, we flew to Poitiers from Stanstead. We stayed South of Niort in a small chateau run by an English couple, who like me had been in the catering industry. We wanted to pick their brains on living over here, something that now happens to me when guests seems I have become the ‘Tourist Information Centre’. Once I had someone phone (whom I had never met) to see if l'Absie had fireworks on Bastille day... somebody had told them to phone me! Our first day of house hunting was not too good. They had nothing that was suitable for us. The second day was far better and the Bed and Breakfast was our third house of the day in l’Absie. We only viewed 5 houses in total and that was it. We viewed it a second time, negotiated in the garden, a deal was struck and that was it. We didn’t even walk around L'Absie and see what was around, we went to sign the ‘compromis de vente’ and that was it, a date was given for completion, 9 weeks later. I went back to the Cotswolds and mum and dad to Lincolnshire. I had already seen the estate agent to sell my house and phoned her to say put it on the market. What seemed like ages later (in fact only 10 days!) I accepted an offer and that was it, I started packing and getting the cats sorted for travelling with us, although Oska stayed with mum and dad in the end, the vet had lost his blood test results, so he couldn’t travel. All went well and I completed my house sale 10 days before travelling to France. 12 hours travelling, all my worldly goods in the back of the trailer and Jazzy Cat at my side, we arrived back in l'Absie ready to start running a Bed and Breakfast. The first day was hugely manic, we had to go to Parthenay and buy all the white goods, it was like supermarket sweep, rushing around Hyper U; kettle, toaster, telephones all going in the trolley. Back to the Bed and Breakfast to unload and to go to the Notaires for 2 o'clock. We followed the previous owners down the winding country roads, to the Notaires, signed our names hundreds of times and became owners of a Bed and Breakfast. Now the work begins. We inherited lodgers, 5 English lads working as butchers at the turkey factory in Moncoutant. At the time it seemed good, but they came back from the pub in the early hours, mostly forgetting their keys and ringing the door bell. At 4.30am they were up again, down the stairs like a herd of elephants (that was before we had carpet on the stairs to deafen the noise)

I also registered as a gardener & cleaner, so I look after several peoples’ second homes; gardening, checking pools, checking the houses for leaks and winter damage etc. This has worked in well with the Bed and Breakfast and I can go off to work, without it interfering with the day-to-day running. I leave a note on the door so any guests can phone me and I transfer the landline to the mobile when I go out, so I don't miss calls and bookings. It’s not unusual to be out for dinner and to get a phone call and dash off to let guests in, but at least I can have a social life. The earliest arrival was 7am, that was Richard and Erika, who now have a holiday home here. The latest was 3am, as those guests had travelled from Holland for a wedding the next day. Luckily I had gone to bed and told them to phone me when they were outside the door. It doesn't happen often, but it’s worth it when it’s a booking. I always say one night’s accommodation is better than no nights and it adds up over a year. When I first came to France I wanted to live in the country and have 6 chickens. Well... I ended up in a town square, which has worked well as I get passing trade and I get a lot of friends turn up when they visit L'absie, so never a quiet moment. And I can walk out of the door to the pub and the bakers. And I finally now have the 6 chickens, which I got on the 17th and 20th March. I have two battery chickens I bought from a farm at 1,50 Euro each. I then went to Coulonges market and got four more; a Maran, a Cuckoo Maran, a Silkie and another with ‘blue’ in the name. They were more expensive and...3 eggs a week. I have a good choice of colour and as you are supposed to have odd numbers of chickens I may get one more. I fancy another Silkie from the old french couple selling them in the market hall although I probably should have one a bit more productive as I want to sell some of the eggs. It's amazing how things change in 8 years and people come and go. I have a good life here and manage to tell some funny stories at dinner parties!” Dean Smalley. Tel: 05 49 64 06 36 ‘Bienvenue’ 18 place du 14 juillet 1836, 79240, L’Absie If you’d like to keep up to date with the life of a B&B owner, you can follow Dean’s blog at: 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: 22

Motoring... A Legendary 24 Hours

by Helen Tait-Wright

Cue the music .......the black Porsche 911S, driven by Steve McQueen winds its way through the French countryside on it’s way to the Circuit de la Sarthe for the world’s oldest Endurance race ........who can forget the start of the film “Le Mans”. Of course the film depicts a real race; since 1923 the “24 Heures du Mans” has been held on the 13.629km track, just outside the town of Le Mans. The purpose of the race was to present a different challenge to car manufacturers from those found in Grand Prix racing. Constructors needed to build sporty yet reliable cars. This encouraged innovation in producing reliable and fuel-efficient vehicles, because the nature of endurance racing requires cars that last the distance and spend as little time in the pits as possible. At the same time, due to the layout of the Le Mans track, cars needed to have better aerodynamics and stability at high speeds. Le Circuit de la Sarthe is made up of a mix of closed public roads and specialist motor racing circuit. Probably the most famous and distinctive part of the circuit is the Mulsanne Straight, officially known as Ligne Droite des Hunaudières, and a public road for the majority of the year (D338). Originally six kilometres in length, it allowed cars to reach speeds as high as 400 km/h during the late 1980s. Since then two chicanes have been installed to lower speeds; nevertheless, today's racers will still hit 320+ km/h before having to slow down. All the numbers related to Le Mans are large - over the 24 hour period modern competitors will complete race distances well over 5,000 km (3,110  mi). The present record is 5,410 km (3,360 mi), recorded in the 2010 race. As a spectator, 24 hours gives you loads of time to experience everything the Circuit de la Sarthe has to offer, and often the night racing is more exciting than the daytime racing as the cars hurtle round a barely lit track, brake discs glowing at the corners. I first went to Le Mans in 1993. The atmosphere is charged. Driving down from the ports as we did then, on the Thursday before the race, the roads are full of Brits and hardened race fans heading to Le Mans in everything from a London Bus to the latest super cars. Every petrol station has a huddle of people comparing cars, the best places to view and which campsite they are on. You hit the traffic long before you get to the circuit. Once at your campsite it’s just one big party with Radio Le Mans in the background and somewhere along the way you might remember to go and watch some cars! The start is obligatory, (although I missed it the first year, being ill in a hospitality tent - damn that gin)  then after the first few laps you can go off and explore the fairground, the village, the static displays, the shops and the outer reaches of the circuit, all accessible with the 69 Euros General admission ticket which is also valid for the whole week prior to the race. The screaming race engines, the dust and excitement are addictive. This year’s race, the 80th running of the race, is 16th & 17th June and full details can be found at It’s only an hour and a half for us to get to the circuit from the north of the Deux-Sèvres .....see you there!


Registering a car in France

by Tony Eyre

It is easy to register an English car in France; this is the step by step guide: 1.

You need a European Certificate of Conformity for your vehicle. This you can obtain from your manufacturers head office either in the UK or France, you will have to pay for this.


You will have to go to your local Hotel de Impot to obtain a Certificat de Acquistition d’un Véhicule Terrestre a Moteur. Basically you complete a form in a book all the details you will find on your log book plus you will need to know approx how many kilometres it has done (doesn’t have to be exact), this form is free.


If your vehicle is over 4 years old you will require a controle technique, this is the equivalent to an English MOT and this lasts for 2 years for a car and 4x4, and for vans, motor homes up to 3.5 tons 1 year. The cost is 60 euros. You MUST have French headlights fitted.


Your prefecture is where you take your documents for registration, this is what you have to take with you:

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• English log book • Controle technique (if your vehicle is over 4 years old) • Certificate of Conformity • Certificat d’ Acquisition d’un Véhicule Terrestre a Moteur • Proof of residency in France e.g. Utility Bill • Passport or Photo ID & for women proof of maiden name may be required • Demand pour Immitraculation (you can pick this form up at the prefecture) Grey imports into the UK or vehicles that have never been imported to France may cause a problem but it is still possible to register them with a little work and perseverance. Law regarding Controle Techniques on UK reg vehicles If your UK log book has an ‘E’ number next to the letter K on the left hand side of the log book you do not need a certificate of conformity to obtain a controle technique, but you will still require one to register the vehicle. Emissions Charge Some departments charge and some do not, it is therefore best to enquire at your prefecture.


For any further information on the above you can contact Tony, Le Mècano Anglais on 05 49 07 30 08 and he will be happy to help. (See advert below).

Cost: 15€ including 1 photograph. Simply email the details to: for entry into the next issue.


Getting Out & About...

There are lots of Vide greniers taking place around the region.

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

main street and crossed by two mill races and the river Courance, perpetuates country traditions.

by Sue Burgess Bouillé St Paul Bouillé Saint Paul is an ancient parish of Anjou and Poitou. It depended on the jurisdiction of the Senechal of Saumur until the revolution. Between the 14th and 18th centuries, there was a seigneury of Bouillé St Paul. The village was attached to the Deux Sèvres in 1790.

The neighbouring hamlets still keep up agricultural work and the Sentier de la Maraîchine (Marsh Pathway) reminds us of the importance of animal rearing in this commune of the Marais Poitevin.

Bouillé St Paul is a rural commune and the 450 inhabitants live in different hamlets on the 2045 hectares of the commune. À VOIR / MUST SEE: The castle which now houses the town hall, was built in the 12th century. There were ditches and three surrounding walls. The lordship of Bouillé St Paul depended on the Viscount of Thouars. The first known Lord of the manor was Ardouin Grésille in 1320. • Le pont de Preuil • The 11th or 12th century bridge crossed the Argenton and linked Thouars to Vihiers. • The present parish church dates from 1883 although there has been a church here since the 13th century. • The manor of Terra is first mentioned in 1485. The manor, which now houses a school (maison familiale rurale), is situated about 4 km north east of the village centre. • Other historical buildings include the wash-house, the Lavoir de Fronteau, at the bottom of the village. The cross, la Croix de Fronteau, is situated at the entrance to the village at the crossroads of the old Roman road from Thouars to Vihiers. La Cabane à Vigne, about 1km northeast of the village is a witness to the wine growing activity of the village which dated from the Middle Ages. Bouin Bouin is a little village located in the township of ChefBoutonne part of the district of Niort. The altitude of Bouin townhall is approximately 110 metres. The surface of Bouin is 8.33 km². Nearby towns are: Hanc, Ardilleux, Pioussay, Chef-Boutonne, Melleran, Loubigné and Theil Rabier.

À VOIR / MUST SEE: The marsh pathway has three different features: • The breeding and rearing of a specific breed of Marsh cattle, the Maraîchine. • A botanical pathway where you can see most of the different species of plants found in the Marais Poitevin marshes. • A geological trail which allows you to discover the geological history of the area in a fun way.

Please return to this section next month to see the continuation of ʻA-Z of the Communes of the Deux-Sèvres.ʼ

In 1999 there were 102 inhabitants in Bouin, 148 in 2006 and 147 in 2007. The population density of Bouin is 17.65 inhabitants per km². The inhabitants of Bouin are the Bouinais or Bouinaises. In 2007 there were 86 houses in Bouin. These consisted of 63 main residences, 12 second or holiday homes and 12 vacant homes. The river Aume flows through the commune. Le Bourdet In 1419, Jean de Rochechouart, the chamberlain of Duke Jean de Berry, received part of the fief of Le Bourdet. The larger part was sold at the time of the revolution, except for the chateau. The property was divided into small parts and then bought again after the death of Louis-Philippe de Cugnac in 1809. In the XIXth century, seven mills worked full time. The village which is built along both sides of its


Communications... How to speed up your PC-Part 8

In Windows 7 (1&2 below) and Vista (1&3 below) you may schedule Defrag to run on a regular basis (your computer may well be set this way by default).

Each time your computer stores a file on the Hard Disk Drive (HDD) it tries to write it sequentially, the more the HDD gets used the less likely this is to happen. This is the cause of files getting fragmented. When the operating system tries to open fragmented files, it has to search for each part of the file on different parts of the HDD, this slows down the overall performance.


Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, and then click Disk Defragmenter.


In Windows 7: - Under Schedule, it reads Scheduled defragmentation is turned on and then displays the time of day and frequency of defragmentation. If you want to turn off automatic defragmentation or to change the time or frequency, click Configure schedule (or Turn on Schedule, if it is not currently configured to run automatically). Change the settings, and then click OK. To close the Disk Defragmenter utility, on the title bar of the window, click the Close button.


In Windows Vista: - Click Modify schedule, In the Disk Defragmenter: Modify Schedule dialog box, choose how often, which day, and at what time of day you want defragmentation to occur, and then click OK. Then Click OK again.

Defragmenting your Hard Disk

by Ross Hendry

Defragmentation occurs continually but will happen more if you add a large numbers of files, when you install new programs or your free HDD space is low (less than 15%). The Windows operating system has a utility program called a Defragmenter (Defrag), running this defragmentation process seeks to reorganise your files and folders for optimal performance. When your files are neatly stored end to end, without fragmentation, reading and writing to the HDD speeds up. Ideally you should Defrag you HDD weekly. It is very important that this process is not interrupted, so if you are doing this on a laptop please ensure that the laptop is connected to the mains electricity, the process can take from several minutes to several hours, depending on the speed of your PC, size of your HDD and how much data you have on it. Ideally you should close all open programs before you run the Defrag program, and do not run it if you are expecting a scheduled update for your antivirus or other programs. The process is very similar in all three versions of Windows, namely XP, Vista and Windows 7, here is how to Defragment your HDD:1.

Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, click System Tools, and then click Disk Defragmenter


In the Disk Defragmenter window, click the drives that you want to defragment, and then click the Analyse disk button. After the disk is analysed, a message box appears, letting you know whether you should defragment the analysed drives.


To defragment the selected drive or drives, click the Defragment button. In the Current status area, under the Progress column, you can monitor the process as it happens. After the defragmentation is complete, Disk Defragmenter displays the results. Note: In Windows Vista, there is no graphical user interface to demonstrate the progressâ&#x20AC;&#x2022;but your hard drive is still being defragmented. To display detailed information about the defragmented disk or partition, click View Report.

4. 5.

I do hope that you have had success with improving the speed of your PC, and that the series of articles that we started in September 2011 have been of value. If you have followed the series and still have a slow PC you may need to consider a full reload of Windows, I will cover this in my next article. If you have missed any of these articles please let me know and I will email you a copy, my email address is Ross Hendry is the proprietor of Interface Consulting and Engineering, who has over 42 years experience in Communications, Computer Technology and Direct Marketing. (See advert below for more information).

To close the View Report dialog box, click Close.


All telephone numbers in France are composed of 10 digits.

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

To telephone France from abroad, dial the international code of your country +  33 and then, the nine digit number of the person you are calling (without the 0 at the beginning of the French telephone number). E.g. + 33 5 49 70 26 21 To call somewhere in France when in France, dial the 10 digit number which starts with a 0. From France to a foreign country: dial 00 + the country number + the number of the person you are calling (without the 0 at the beginning).

France Telecom English Customer Services:- 09 69 36 39 00 EDF (Electricity Provider) English Helpline: 05 62 16 49 08 or 08 10 12 61 26

Building & Renovation... 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! For more details, please see the ‘Written Contributions’ page on our website: Please email your contribution for consideration to:



As an apprentice trained builder with experience of running building projects in England for over 30 years and five years in France, I have been asked several times to look at defects around swimming pools in the Deux-Sèvres region. One of the main problems I have come across is subsidence due to the lack of compaction and structural strength of the concrete around the pool. You may see this by looking at the flags adjacent to the pool, they may be subsiding and subsequently they become a danger and a potential trip hazard. So with this in mind I would like to pass on some tips on how to avoid future problems when purchasing your new in ground pool. When asking a company sales person to look at the planning and pricing of your pool I would suggest asking some of the following questions. Make sure you receive written information explaining in fine detail what you are going to get for your money; this documentation could prove vital if there are any concerns regarding the construction process. Who is going to construct the pool? Will it be direct labour from the pool company or an independent sub contractor, and who from the pool company will keep a check of the standard of work as it progresses? In either case ask for references from them regarding previous pools which they have fitted and find out from them what guarantees they offer and confirmation that the person installing your pool is qualified to do so. If you know how the pool is to be constructed from start to finish, you then have the information to enable you to check the work being carried out. If the pool company is installing only the pool and not the flags around the pool, then the information regarding the finished details of the pool needs to be passed on to the person who will be laying the flags. This is very important because depending on what type of pool you have, the person who installs your pool may have to come back to lay the margelles edging flags, which normally lay on top of the terrace. If the pool company is to lay the terraced area then ask how the terrace will be constructed eg,hardcore, concrete, tiles or flags and pointing. Depth thickness and strength of concrete are important things to know so that you can keep a check as the job progresses. The more information you gather before the start of the project the better, and maybe the pool will last longer after the guarantee runs out. The price you pay for your pool may be as much as a good quality car or even the price of a small house in France! Either of which you would not buy without researching in depth before parting with your money. Hope this short guide helps you to avoid some of the pitfalls of installing a pool. Bon Chance! John Spray, Maçonnerie.








Business, Finance & Property... Ask Amanda.

Following on from April’s theme about pensions, I have been speaking to friends who, like me, are loving the work life balance living in France and are still a way from retirement. We are a generation who moved out of the “rat race” and started a new adventure for ourselves and families in France!!

Smaller or no mortgage payments, older cars, lunch for 11 Euros including wine & local holidays (we do after all live in one of the most beautiful parts of France so no need to travel far!). We are however a generation not currently paying into the UK National Insurance Contribution scheme and as such cannot expect to receive a full state pension upon retirement, so we need to look ahead to ensure our idyllic life continues when we retire. Whilst we still have many challenges, if you are like me then you enjoy our lives being simpler than they were, but what about long term? When the children have left home and we no longer want to work in the enterprises we have established, what are we going to live on? It may be possible for some of us to downsize, we all know that the housing inflation in France is not the same in the UK & immobilier fees are not cheap, so even if that is an option how long would it take to sell and get the price you want. I don’t have a magic wand, but I do have the experience and tools to help you plan for a better retirement and let’s face it we still have time to do something about it. I know how hard it is to run a business in France and I know that if you pick up the phone to call me, I can help you. Amanda Johnson, The Spectrum IFA Group.


If you have a question for Amanda, please send an email to:




LE TOUR DE FINANCE (March 2012) Bringing financial expertise to the front door of expats in France

The long awaited Tour de Finance hit France in four prestigious locations from March 19th to 22nd This free event was on every English expats calendar looking for information and expertise on a range of financial products and services from investments to pensions, healthcare to international transfers and banking and taxation. Delegates also enjoyed special talks from the FrancoBritish Chamber of Commerce and Le Bons Voisins in chosen locations. The Tour consisted of four stops in top expat cities including: Dinan, Fontevraud, Saintes and Birve-la-Gaillarde. Each event began with a welcome coffee complete with French pastries at 9:30am, allowing everyone to get acquainted before heading into the seminars which began at 10:00am. The speakers consisted of a group of financial experts coming from a large range of financial sectors, each of whom gave fifteen minute slideshow presentations which were both informative and much welcomed by expats interested in learning how to manage and save their money in the French system. Delegates were then invited to stay for a free buffet lunch where animations included a prize draw and a “Guess that Rate” competition from FX Company Currencies Direct. This time was dedicated to allowing attendees to speak with the experts whose services they were interested in and get advice on their individual circumstances. After a successful afternoon, attendees left with their questions answered and their minds at ease. Distinguishing itself from other events, Le Tour de Finance groups together top companies which offer a wide range not only of financial products and services, but of advisement and social forums for expats in France, allowing them to meet with fellow and like-minded individuals who have, or are in the midst of living out their dream in France!

Above: a busy ‘Tour de Finance’ venue

We shall select the most helpful questions and answers to be printed here in future issues.



Are you paying more tax than you need to?

by Bill Blevins, Financial Correspondent, Blevins Franks. The tax rules in France can be complex at the best of times, and more so after all the changes and tax rises we’ve had over recent years. As foreigners living in France it is all too easy to fall victim to unnecessary taxation, either because you do not fully understand French taxation and so cannot establish the most effective way to hold your assets, or because you are not aware of the opportunities there are to mitigate – and in some cases eliminate – tax quite legitimately.

'The DSM' is organising a TRADE FAIR for both English and French businesses of the region. It will be the first event for our magazine and we want to offer a wide variety of stands showing business services, promoting products and selling goods. We have use of both indoor and outdoor space and estimate 50+ exhibitors. Entrance to the public will be free. The location is fabulous. Based at the plan d'eau (lac des Effres) in Secondigny, the large hall is situated next to a Restaurant and the views from the Salle are beautiful. The plan d'eau itself offers picnic and BBQ areas, pedalo hire, mini golf, a campsite, cycle routes and much more, whilst in addition to these services we will be arranging further entertainment to keep families entertained throughout the day. Having been granted permission by the Maire to use the Salle for it's first ever commercial use, the town council is offering lots of backup and assistance to ensure the event is a success. More up-to-date information and an online booking form will become available on the website very soon, but if you would like to reserve your stand now, please contact Sarah on 05 49 70 26 21 or by email: The closing date for bookings for this event will be Tuesday 31st July 2012.

France has higher combined rates of tax and social charges than most EU countries, and the country has become more expensive tax wise after the various tax increases the government has had to impose to reduce the budget deficit. Nonetheless, with careful planning and professional advice it is still usually often possible to avoid or reduce many otherwise punitive taxes on your savings, investments, pensions, wealth and estate. UK expatriates living in France, for example, still have the ISAs and PEPs and Premium Bonds they set up when they were still living in the UK. They are tax efficient in the UK where income derived from them is completely free of tax, but they are only tax efficient investments for UK purposes, and all income from such investments is subject to tax in France. You also have to consider the French capital gains tax and social charges on disposal of shares in share ISAs and PEPs, as these will be taxable disposals in France. Keeping cash in offshore bank accounts is not tax efficient either, as the interest is fully taxable in France even if not withdrawn. There are very tax-efficient investment vehicles available to residents of France that can reduce taxable income, and thus income tax and social charges. They can also help minimise wealth tax (depending on your circumstances), and have an impact on French succession law and tax. Seek advice from a tax advisory and wealth management firm like Blevins Franks for advice on whether you can make your savings and investments more tax efficient in France. To keep in touch with the latest developments in the offshore world, check out the latest news on our website (Please see advert on P.39.)



Tax Returns 2012

by David Hardy

‘La Déclaration des Revenus’

Yes, it is that time of year again when we have to turn our attention to completing our annual tax return! The French tax year is a straightforward calendar year and the deadline for returning your completed declaration of income earned in 2011 is 31st May 2012. Those of you already in the system should receive your partially completed form (or “préremplie”) at the beginning of May. As in previous years, the tax authorities have granted extra time for those who make their declarations on line at, however, the amount of extra time given will actually depend on the number of the department you live in eg. 75 Paris, so please verify first. The online facility will be available from the beginning of May.

From this year, anyone with taxable assets of between €1,300,000 and €3,000,000, as at 1st January 2012, will declare the asset figure on their income tax return. Only those with more than €3,000,000 of taxable assets will have to continue making a separate wealth tax return in June. David Hardy, Poitou-Charentes Regional Manager of Siddalls France who have been advising the British national, resident of France, on all aspects of financial planning, for over 16 years. Tel:05 56 34 75 51.

For “first-timers” you must collect a tax declaration from your local tax office “Centre des Impôts”, or download one from the website above. If you have moved to France part way through the year, you will only declare income earned since that date. Any tax due is normally collected in September. Once you have completed your first tax return, you can complete subsequent returns on line at What forms will you need? Whilst the “Déclaration des Revenus” comprise a variety of forms, according to your circumstances, here are some of the main forms that apply to expatriates: • Form 2042 This is the main tax form, which those of you already in the system will receive partially completed, where you should declare your worldwide income and gains. • Form 2042C (“Complementary”) This is an additional form which is required for a number of situations, including where you have received income from furnished letting or “chambres d’hôtes”, or where you have paid tax in the UK that needs to be offset against French tax. • Form 2047 This is an additional form for any income received from outside of France. Foreign income must be declared on this form, as well as on Form 2042. • Form 3916 This is for details of any bank accounts situated outside of France. What to declare? As a French resident, all of your worldwide income and gains should be declared on your French tax return. Any income which is normally taxed outside of France eg. on UK public sector pensions or UK rental income, will still be used to calculate your overall tax liability. The Double Tax Treaty will ensure, however, that you do not pay tax twice on this income, but these figures are needed to calculate the rate at which your other income should be taxed.

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

What exchange rate to use? Some tax offices tell people to use the £/€ exchange rate at the end of the year ie £1 = €1.1972. In theory, you should have kept a note of the exchange rates applicable to your Sterling based income as you received it. However, for income which is received regularly; such as a pension, the authorities will accept the use of the average exchange rate for the year; details of which are made public from various sources, including the official French revenue website. Wealth Tax (Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune or “ISF”) One major change that will affect some people is in respect of ‘Wealth Tax’ declaration.


Advertise your PRIVATE HOUSE SALE here. From 10â&#x201A;Ź per month Send details by email to: for inclusion into the next issue.


Consider your property wisely...

by Peter Elias. We all know why people buy houses in France, whether it is as a permanent home or just for holidays. France is the most visited holiday destination in the world, and 50 million visitors a year is evidence of that. We come for the lifestyle, the culture, the food and wine, plus of course the weather. There are so many days here with clear blue skies, contrasting with the cold, grey days that we are used to back in Blighty! But why do we buy the very house that we now own in France ? The results are quite amazing when you sit down and analyse them. Too few buyers have a detailed wishlist of what they want, and perhaps more importantly what they don’t want. Buying a house is always about compromise, and knowing what you are prepared to give up is very important. Incredibly, we often get couples looking for 4 bed houses, when they are going to be living in France alone for 50 weeks of the year, but they decide that they must have 3 extra bedrooms for their children and the grandchildren who will visit for 1 or 2 weeks of the year. They don’t consider that the extra cost that this generates, is going to severely restrict their choice of houses, and that visitors are quite often very happy “camping” on sofa beds on a mezzanine, or the study. Many buyers are in their 50s or 60s and don’t plan ahead for their reducing mobility, which is after all, a fact of life. So too many buy houses that are going to be high on maintenance, with lots of windows and shutters, perhaps in ok condition, but that will require regular on-going treatment. This is where the dreaded UPVC or just modern hardwood double glazed windows can save on maintenance.

My preference for people wanting to run gites is to buy a separate house or two, close to their residence, and have the holiday cottages set up so that they could be sold off individually at a later date. Smaller complexes will always sell easier than large enterprises. Financing a set-up such as that outlined above will also be easier if you are looking to borrow money from the banks. Gites are a dirty word to most lenders, but they are quite happy to lend against a buy-to-let type arrangement. Too many buyers also have the “dream” about living in the country, and if you are not careful, country becomes rural, which becomes isolated. As we age, we tend to go to the shops more often, need doctors and hospitals more frequently, and the need to live nearer a decent sized town grows. Looking back at the clients who purchased via our business 10 years ago, over 50% have either been sold subsequently, or are currently on the market. This is perhaps not surprising given the British tendency to move within the UK on a fairly regular basis, but the costs of moving house in France (roughly 15% agency & notaires fees), make this prohibitive. For this reason alone, it is most important that you get the decision right from the outset. So if you know someone who is looking, encourage them to work hard on their wish list, work out which areas they are prepared to compromise on and then nudge them in our direction. Now, let’s enjoy a BBQ summer ! Peter Elias (Agent Commercial)

Again, many buyers will have a pool on their list of requirements, once more to act as a draw for the grandchildren. Pools require maintenance, quite a lot in fact, and of course add to the cost. This is true both for the initial asking price and also on-going costs as your local taxes are going to be increased by having a pool. We regularly get clients specifying that they must have outbuildings to convert, and this also brings with it numerous possibilities. Conversion costs can be expensive, unless you are capable of doing the work yourselves. Barn conversions always take longer and cost more than initially planned. There is a real danger that you can over develop a site and never get back the capital that you have invested. Some gite owners have created large complexes that are quite daunting, you need to ask yourself, will someone with a budget upwards of 500,000 Euros want to spend their Saturday’s in the summer scrubbing toilets after people they don’t know. I for one would not !




'The Deux-Sevres Monthly' MAY 2012  

English language magazine for Expats living or holidaying in the Deux-Sevres or bordering departments of France.