Thursday, 29 January 2015

Travel by rail

As part of its tenth birthday celebrations, iDTGV - a subsidiary of French national rail company SNCF - is selling 10,000 passes allowing unlimited travel to the 50 cities in its network.
The annual pass, available from €59.99 a month, will enable frequent travellers the option to reserve four different journeys at the same time.
Train bookings will be available from two months up to 45 minutes before the train leaves the station.
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Lots happening in the Gaillac area

Look on the website for details of things happening around Gaillac
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Book swap Monday

First Monday of the month 2nd of February will be the book swap. If you have any old christmas cards to bring for Chats du Quercy I will pass them on. Come and swap DVds and books and  have a coffee and a chat.
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Get about in a van

Hi Val,
Got the van, now we are going to kit out the inside with a raised platform bed, cabinets, table, etc...all ready for camping.  And it's a Renault Master, so you can stand up in it.  Nice and big for Bruce and I and the three dogs.
Here's a photo.
Glad you had a nice time here in Catalunya.  
Val says  some readers may know Ali and Bruce who have just moved from St. Antonin to Gerona. They are originally from sunny climes in the USA so like the sun. They have only been in Spain for about 6 weeks but they are loving the blue skies

Anyone know the name of a good dentist

We were given the name of a dentist at Villefranche   Dominic Fabée  tel 0565450124. A lady dentist who is supposed to be very good.
As there is no dentist in St. Antonin now if anyone has the name and location of dentists in the area let me know to go in a label. Easy then to look one up.
Ali has suggestion this one at Caussade
Dear Val,
Not sure if Caussade would be too far for you, but Dr. Jean-Michel Galliot is fantastic.  I was referred to him by my doctor in Caylus.  tel 0563 931385

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Who can do a good turn

A reader who lives at Caylus has a poorly child and the child has to be taken to hospital at Paris. The family will be away 6 days from Thurs 5th Feb to the following Tuesday. They have a 6 month old labrador puppy who they need somone to look after just for that short period.
We would have done it but Bonny does not like young dogs and puppies, one of her few failings.
Is there anyone who could look after this dog for a short period if there is please contact
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Dog boarding

Hi Val & Malcolm
Could you put me in touch with anyone who minds dogs while their owners are on holiday?  Our dogs are quite old now and kennels are not suitable.
We have a 14 year old cross Jack Russell and a 12 year old fox terrier. They are not used to children!  But house trained and loving........ We are looking for the first 10 days in march.
I would appreciate your help.
Thank you
Marian & Digby Gunnis ( St Antonin )

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Fancy joining in?

Good morning Val,
Tomorrow, 30/1, ECLAT holds its annual meeting at 14.30 in the old mairie (in the same street as the market.
Maybe it is of interest to some of your readers who'd like to join this organisation. 
ECLAT stands for ​Expostion Culture Loisiers Art et Traditions.
Every year they organise the exposition in the 'Echoppe' under the castle in Varen, a meal in its courtyard and a vide grenier on the river bank of the Aveyron.
 For more information, you can contact Marie-Claude GRIALET at 05-63-65-47-74.
Love, Marcia

Concert in the church at Montbazens

Damp and grey this morning

Should we throw the dice to see who goes out in the rain to feed the donkeys, I laughed as the cats went to the door, held out a paw to test conditions and then decided to stay in, Bonny did a quick dash out and back and Malc and I are sitting deciding who is the worthy one who will brave the damp to let the hen out and feed the bawling donkeys, bawling from well inside the confines of their hut!
I have just volunteered as I missed them whilst away... hope they appreciate my sacrifice.
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Action against road deaths

Road deaths in 2014 were up by 120 over 2013, the first time in 12 years that there has been an increase. Bernard Cazeneuve, interior minister, announced a series of measures to be introduced gradually in an effort to halt this.
-Using a telephone at the wheel is already banned, but using headphones of any type will also be forbidden - including Bluetooth headpieces.
-The level of alcohol tolerated in inexperienced drivers (less than 2 years) will be halved.
-Parking near pedestrian crossings will be outlawed as one third of pedestrians killed are on such passages.
-Local authorities are to be encouraged to remove or protect obstacles which pose a danger - maybe even plane trees?
-Tinted windows are to be phased out as they prevent the police identifying drivers.
-Speed cameras are to be replaced with "front and back" directional versions.
The full list of 26 measures to be implemented over the next few years includes better collection of statistics to understand better the causes of accidents as well as concrete measures and can be consulted on the Ministry's web site.
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The French love their polls/ sondages

A poll taken by Ipsos/ Spora- Steria and published in the Le Monde tried to gauge attitudes after the attacks at the beginning of January which left 17 dead.
Overall it would appear the French have not been swayed against Islamists and Jews in the country and think the government leaders handled the response well. There was however disapproval for Marine Le Pen. 
One has to remember Le Monde is a left wing newspaper  but  one assumes the poll was wider than that newspapers readership and it was also published on Europe 1 radio on Wednesday
Here's a  brief summary of the findings:
Islam more compatible with French society
One result that may surprise some is that acceptance of Islam is growing in France with only 51 percent saying that “Islam is not compatible with the values of French society” compared to 63 percent in 2014 and 74 percent in 2013
Islam as peaceful as other religions
With 66 percent, the majority of those polled consider Islam to be as peaceful as other religions and view jihadism as a perversion of the religion. Some 81 percent of the supporters of the Socialist Party believe Islam is an equally peaceful religion, compared to 53 percent of UMP supporters, and a minority of 39 percent of those supporting the National Front.
Acceptance of Catholicism and Judaism appears to be much greater given that 93 percent and 81 percent of those polled judge them as compatible with French values.
Disapproval for Marine Le Pen
Some 69 percent of those polled stated they disapproved of National Front leader Marine Le Pen’s attitude as she didn’t participate in the unity marches and instead held her own homage to the victims, which turned into a political gathering.
The sentiment was even echoed among supporters of her party with 24 percent saying they “mainly disapprove” and 9 percent saying they “disapprove completely”.
Val says the report goes further with satisfaction with the way Muslims handled the aftermath of the killings. The photograph of Muslim men and women  at Gaillac holding placards saying " not in my name" and  " do not harm my country" had an amazing effect on us all here at TAG, joining us together against extremists.

Nous sommes Jeudi, le vingt neuf

tiré à quatre épinglesdressed up to the nines
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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Warts and all

Dear Val
Your winter break sounded lovely but its nice that you are back!
I went off today to see my Opthalmalogue and asked him about a small growth on my eyelid. Ah, he said, c'est une virurre. I misheard and looked blank, well I knew I had a heavy viral cold but the growth had been there for two or three months.. 
He said les virurres occured on our hands and feet. The penny dropped. It was a wart. So not wanting to look like Oliver Cromwell who demanded to be painted, 'warts and all', it will be removed in March 
As usual go somewhere over here and get a free French lesson
Val says - Funny that Ginny as both Malc and I had exactly the same experience and the same word used. We go on Monday to a dermatologist at Albi both having " our virurres" removed. 
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Malc says: the word is probably "une verrue" a bit like verruca.

Rose de Jardin?

You’ll find this one hard to believe but you can find her on Google & Twitter…….when I lived in Rutland, I knew a woman called Rose. She was married to a guy whose surname was De Jardin and together they opened a plant nursery. Glad you had such a lovely birthday break. Welcome home!
Linda xXx
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TOF report on the Deux Rivieres

Hi Val
Just a line to say that we had lunch at Les Deux Rivieres in Laguepie today. It’s the first time we have eaten there as it has been closed when we have tried before.

There was no choice on the 13e menu du jour but lots of courses.
1. Vegetable soup - very tasty
2. Croustillant of something unidentifiable which was so overcooked and hard that Simon’s shot off the plate when he tried to cut it (I didn’t eat mine)
3. Ossobuco main course was all bone and again very overcooked, with overcooked noodles.
4. Cheese was plentiful but not very good (a blue, some very bland Brie and, hard to believe, emmenthal on a French cheeseboard??)
5. Dessert was a fairly tasteless apple and raspberry tarte

Wine and coffee were extra so final cost was 17e each. Sorry, Val, I know you like it there but  we are struggling to give it more than a 2 out of 5 ……really perhaps a 1 out of 5 as apart from the soup we couldn’t find anything above average (decor is ok, service barely ok, atmosphere subdued despite a full dining room, wine ok, coffee ok, food definitely not ok)
Linda xXx

Val says  mmh. We actually took off our TOF report as we did not want to be sued. The service barely OK was our problem. There are people who like going, is all I will say.
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Back home safely, what an easy run.

We arrived back home late afternoon, sun all the way up to Gaillac... so unfair. It is still lovely to be home and the pets here all have been well looked after.
The meteo is forecasting a wet day tomorrow but we have had a bit of sun so we can cope.
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Local chef voted in top 10

Specialist magazine Le Chef  asked 500 top chefs, 2 and 3 Michelin stars to list the 5 restaurants or chefs they considered it was indispensable to visit. Michel Bras at Laguiole was voted 5th in the top 100. The list is pretty France based, with 2 American, one Japanese and one Spanish chef making the rest of the ten. Interestingly Catalan chef Joan Roca of El Celler de Can Roca is based in Gerona - we could have popped in for lunch.
Wherever you fancy going (if you can afford it!) you need to book well ahead. TOF report needed please.
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We love this programme

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Do you want a stand in May at Caylus Floralies

If you want a stand at the 3rd Floralies which will be held by the Lake du Labarte contact Caylus tourisme. It is only 3 euros for the stand. The date is the 10th of May.
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A little humour from Nev

Dear Val and Malcolm,
Oh we do like to be beside the seaside........
I am writing a daily diary in French, and to help with tenses I enter what I did the previous day and also what I have planned for the following day, with me so far?  So I write first, then use translation softwareto check to see if I am on the right lines.  The tool I use gives example of the phrase I am trying to construct, so for example "I am going to cut would be Je vais aller couper and the tool came up with this example which I think is hilarious.
Je vais le couper en petits morceaux, et le saupoudrer sur une pizza, Même pas sur une fraîche, le genre congelé que les enfants mettent au micro-onde quand leurs mère sont sorties.

I'm gonna chop him up in little pieces and sprinkle him on a pizza, not even fresh-made, the frozen kind that kids pop in the microwave when their mothers are hung over.

Val says I am very impressed Neville. Beware the auto translate!
Made me laugh anyway.
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Home James

Malc is out on the balcony taking photos of the lovely sky above Llafranc. What a lovely break we have had but now it is time to wend our way home later this morning. TAG has been "en vacance," not quite like Jaques Tati's Monsieur Hulot's holiday but we have laughed quite a lot.
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book your tickets for the Festival of burlesque at Toulouse

Folk'n'Jazz tomorrow night

Folk'n'Jazz tomorrow night at the salle des fetes at Verfeil. Starts at 8pm.
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Sting is coming to the Carcassone festival 26th of July

It is official but the concert organisers have announced it before Stings publicity machine. Today will be the official announcement from Sting that he his coming to the Carcassone festival
Et voilà comment internet devient un véritable casse-tête pour les programmateurs de festivals. Hier, deux sites web, et ont balancé l'info : Sting sera l'une des têtes d'affiche du festival 2015, le 26 juillet prochain.

Nous sommes mercredi, le vingt huit

jeter des fleurs à quelqu’unto say lovely things to someone

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Friends keep writing in French!

Hang on of course they would,  they are French. I am getting more and more mail in French, does this mean I have cracked it and I am working my way in to French society life. Well it might if only I could reply in French with a reasonable level of reply. I am mastering speaking French but writing French, well that is the next step.
I have had more emails in French today than English!
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I am European with Yorkshire roots.

I am Catalan, this was said to us by two waiters at the hotel, never been known before. When we arrived I said "has some Catalan football club played someone?" as many  of the houses were flying Catalan flags.
No, but the rise of  Catalan pride coincides with problems with finance in the rest of Spain. I am not sure about all this nationalistic pride, be happy that you are Catalan but also be proud you are Spanish.
Be happy that you are Scottish but be proud that you are in the United Kingdom, and the same for the Welsh
Me, well I am proud to be from Yorkshire, happy that I spent twenty years in Lancashire, now I am European and that makes me happy.
What is your take on Nationalism?
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I do hope you can read this, too tired to make the effort to translate!

Les Jardins des Bastides 
Le groupe du fleurissement de Milhars, la municipalité
et le Centre Social Cordes-Vaour vous invite
 à la 7ème fête de l’Osier à Milhars.

A partir de 10h,venez tous:
Découvrir les nombreux vanniers exposant leurs créations et Participer aux ateliers de vannerie pour petits et grands.
Apprendre les techniques de taille et de bouturage avec Sylvie Gravier dans la Saulaie et participer à une création en osier vivant: un panier géant!
Flâner au stand de livres sur les jardins ou échanger la passion du jardinage avec Bernard Huet et ses amis.
Acheter fagots ou boutures d'osier vendus par les bénévoles du groupe du fleurissement de Milhars au profit de l'amélioration du cadre de vie du village.
Découvrir l'art de la forge avec Milan Gravier et sa démonstration en plein air.
Rencontrer, échanger des savoir-faire, des techniques,  des passions...
Danser et écouter les jeunes musiciens du "groupe du coin" à partir de 18h : Bal Trad'

Une journée de convivialité au coeur de l’hiver

Entrée et participations libres 
Repas: Auberge espagnole, soupe paysanne, vin et pain offerts par le groupe du fleurissement. Chacun apporte un plat et un dessert que l'on partage.
N'oubliez pas assiette creuse , couverts et... sécateurs!

Rejoignez-nous dimanche 8 février à Milhars !
Infos au 06 75 20 25 57
Merci de transmettre ce message à vos Amis

Sylvie Gravier   
Jardins des Bastides81170 MILHARS   +33 (0)5 63 56 36 61   +33 (0)6 75 20 25 57

Two sweethearts needing homes

bonjour Val,
comment allez vous?
 Choupette et Taiga ont été adoptées!!
 il nous reste Délia et Eldo qui cherchent une famille!
Ces deux toutous sont ok chat, chien, enfants et ont tout les deux besoins de présence et d'un jardin clos!
 merci pour eux!
Val says great to hear two dogs have found homes but here are two more still needing someone. Both are OK with children, cats and other dogs but they would need a fenced garden. contact Maeva

Francois Hollande comes up with some good plans

Fighting racism must begin with the French youth, he explained, adding that youngsters will be taught about the Holocaust "without restriction" in a bid to reduce their ignorance.
 He added that France will introduce a "new alert" for any students who interrupt a minute's silence. Across the country, reports flooded in after students refused to take part in tributes of silence for the victims of the terror attacks. 
 He added that some websites will be blocked, and that France will "allow administrative authorities the possibility of blocking websites of racial hatred and anti-Semitism".
 Elsewhere, social networks will be under surveillance at a European level and racism will be considered to be an aggravated crime.

Master the Argentine tango

Stages de tango argentin, salles des Fetes Caylus. Les samedis 28Feb, 7Mars,11 Avril, 9Mai, 6juin, 10-12h
Animés par Emilie et Pablo Tegli   20 euros   Contact Caylus tourism
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Come on in the sea is lovely

Playing on beaches then on to Calella Palafrugell for lunch by the sea. The cats which haunt the restaurants were still there in great numbers but did not risk coming near Bonny who enjoyed what was left of the " chipirones" deep fried baby squid.
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We should do this more often, says Bonny

Everyone enjoys a rock pool

Begur, just like St. Antonin closed in January

Begur reminds us a little of St. Antonin especially the fact that it was mainly closed
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Bonny enjoying herself and an abundant lemon tree

Three beaches, one town and one cliff walk completed so far. Malc  and I are exhausted but Bonny is having " a whale of a time"
This morning in Begur we saw trees laden with oranges and lemons. In my head I have been singing
" Lemon tree very pretty
and the lemon flower is sweet
but the fruit of the poor lemon
is impossible to eat" ... but it does go very nicely squeezed on squid and calamari.
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Bonny having fun on the beach

Lemon tree very pretty, as is the house nearby

Motorway tariffs will remain the same

The tariffs will remain the same on the motorways after February. The planned rise has been postponned.
Tolls on this  4 hour trip to Spain cost us just over 24 euros.
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Sunrise in Llafranc this morning

Is there anyone in the St. Antonin area at the moment?
Well I know my donkeys are there, although Malc says " can you be sure?"
4 degrees and foggy in Varen whilst it is sunny and 10 degrees here at the moment.
The Pyrenees with the snow topped mountains will be great today and some friends are there.
Many more are further south in Spain.
We will be back home tomorrow night and a bit of cold is not so bad if you are wrapped up warm. We love where we live, it is our  paradise.
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Sunrise in Llafranc this morning

Thank you to all who remembered

Well here I am in our hotel room surrounded by cards and presents, not a special birthday till next year, but surely now everyone is special. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and I am sure Malc, my readers and pets see me with rose coloured specs and this is how I appear.
Have a lovely day all and thanks to family and good friends who have been so kind
PS have a laugh all who know me, I have visions of readers not in the know thinking " by gum Val is not bad is she? "
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TAG comes into its own this morning

JUST TRIED TO CONNECT TO Facebook with no result. I had thought it was the internet being slow here at the hotel but have just read in the Depeche that facebook is suffering from a virus
Impossible de vous connecter à Facebook ce mardi matin ? Vous n'êtes pas le seul ! En effet, le réseau social est actuellement victime d'une panne, semble-t-il générale, puisque des messages affluent du monde entier sur Twitter, sous le hashtag #facebookdow. Sa filiale Instagram est elle aussi inaccessible.
Pour l'heure, Facebook n'a fait aucun communiqué pour expliquer ce bug mais les services techniques seraient sur le pied de guerre pour rétablir les connexions.

Roads blocked around Toulouse this morning

Val says I hate this part of " liberation" / freedom by blocking the motorways in " operation escargots" It just happens too often.

Opération escargot : plusieurs kilomètres de bouchons ce matin sur le périphérique

Monday, 26 January 2015

Take it seriously drink driving

 Bernard Cazeneuve France's Interior Minister  whose government has vowed to cut the number of  drink driving incidents,  his biggest priority is to tackle those who get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, given that alcohol is the number one cause of fatalities on French roads.
Val says did you hear that, the NUMBER one cause of deaths on the roads is alcohol, drinking and driving, well it is about as daft as smoking, one way or another you are going to kill yourself, or someone you love. Think about it before lighting up or getting behind a wheel.

So pathetic, do you feel better now?

Offense à la mosquée d'Auch : des lardons jetés contre la façade

How utterly infantile and pathetic, driving past a mosque and throwing out a handful of lardons. Well I for one have better things to do with my lardons, making soup or adding to my spaghetti bolognaise.

The rich and famous and ... us.

Llafranc is where we are staying. In the past the playground of the rich and famous. Truman Capote, Salvador Dali, Elizabeth Taylor, Kirk Douglas and now the plebs like Bonny Johnstone and Malc and I . The days of celebrity spotting in places like this and Portofino ( I know it is Italy)and Monte Carlo etc. are long gone. Now the stars and royalty all have immense estates where they can enjoy themselves out of the public gaze.
Well to us our Bonny is a star, she has walked around without a lead, been on the beach chased a few seagulls as you would if you were a golden retriever, knew instantly our hotel and found her way back in both front and back entrance, who needs stars when you have us!!!! Four and a half hours to this place from Tarn et Garonne, get your nostrils full of sea ozone, your shoes full of sand and be back home for Folk and Jazz on Thursday, really can you beat it.
The half bottle of red might be speaking for me in this post!
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Nous sommes mardi, le vingt sept

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We know it is not over but we will prevail

Demis Roussos has died

Not really French news but he did have song hits in France and his death has been reported here.  I thought he was called Dennis.
Le chanteur grec Demis Roussos est décédé dans la nuit de samedi à dimanche dans un hôpital d'Athènes. Il avait 68 ans, a annoncé ce lundi matin Nikos Aliagas sur son compte Twitter.

After the beach, a cliff top walk

"Well he was certainly going fast"said Malc as I said  "well that was the nearest thing to a go fast accident I have ever seen." As we were driving down the winding road just after the border I think it is called  La Jonquera, a car came behind us flashing and tooting just after we had overtaken another. We pulled over to let the lunatic past and he sped off. A lorry in front of him had just done the same manoevre but he could not get past so  the lunatic overtook on the inside lane, a most dangerous thing to do. Then it got really dangerous another lorry in front saw all of this happening so refused to let the car past swerving from one lane to another blocking off the  lunatic guy in the sports car. You would have thought "good on you" if it all had not been so dangerous. At the bottom of the  descending pass the guy left the motorway giving a one finger up sign out of his window to the lorry driver. 
Apart from that incident it was a lovely drive, not much traffic and after Carcassonne, scenery different to our lush green fields. We saw,  as you do, the lagoons as you turn off for Spain and we all had our noses in the air sniffing, it was the smell of the sea, not Bonny's odorous whiff this time.
When we arrived I immediately gave Bon a run on the beach where she performed silly running and Malc like the dutiful partner in life and TAG  unloaded the luggage.
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The cliff top walk just after arriving

Unfortunate names

Dear Val
Our daughter was at school with a girl called Mini (or Minnie?) Driver.....
My wife was a schoolteacher for many years and talks of a fairly dim student called Luke Sharp
And once my secretary announced the arrival of the salesman from Phillips as "Mr Light is here to see you"
Malc says: when a I was a student there was a girl called Penny Knight - which seemed quite reasonable..

Who likes Nutella?

It may be sweet, but a couple wanted to name their new baby "Nutella" and the family court has refused permission. In theory French parents can now call their children whatever they like, but the registrar can ask the family judges to rule in cases where they think the name may be prejudicial to the child's future. In this case the child is to be called Ella. Another girl was to be called "Fraise" -  strawberry - but it was refused on the grounds that a phrase ramène ta fraise would be used to mock her. Apparently it is aimed at people who talk pretentiously or irrelevantly (or more rudely, display their nipples). She is to be called "Fraisine" a name in use in the 19th century.
A few years ago, however, a couple called Renaud were allowed to call their daughter Megane...
Any examples of names that should not have been allowed, readers?
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A quick break on the cards

Up early to sort out the pets staying here, Bonny knows something is about to happen since she saw the suitcases. By gum will she be wagging her tale when she realises she is coming with us. This will be her third visit to the seaside and no spade needed for her for digging in the sand.
We will continue TAG news from the Costa Brava
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Rana hopes to rent

Hi Val
Greetings from the UK
I have been over here caring for my mother who has been unwell and have decided to rent my property in France for a year.
Can you pass the word around?
Perhaps you know of a family looking to rent a quiet place in the countryside with swimming pool, 8 acres including a magical wood.
The rent will be 800 pounds per month including bills.
I will be coming out when it is warmer to do some work in the garden to get the place ready.
Here are some photos of the place
I wish you a very happy 2015
Here is some more information about the property.
It is 15 minutes drive from St Antonin
Love Rana

Perfect Summer Retreat with Pool to rent per week or on a years contract for 800 pounds a month.

This secluded country house with pool is surrounded by its own eight acre patch of natural parkland and is a must for nature lovers.

It is the ideal place to 'recharge your batteries' after a stressful busy life as the tranquility of the place and the magic of the garden and woods uplift and restore the spirit.

The accomodation is simple and rustic but clean and well equipped with dishwasher, two fridge freezers, washing machine etc.

There are two double rooms and one room with two single beds.
All the rooms have french windows that open out into the garden and the place is friendly and wonderfully quiet.
The Alchemy Garden is a wonderful place to relax and recharge with all the gifts that nature brings.

It is set high up in the rugged plateau landscape of SW France and although in the heart of the countryside it is only a 15 minute drive to medieval St Antonin Noble Val with its famous Sunday market and Aveyron gorge popular for swimming and canoeing.

The delightful former "Bergerie" has been transformed into a spacious and comfortable single -storey rustic style house with immediate access to nature.

One of the most delightful features of the house – Igue – is the way it opens out through large French doors from every room to give immediate access to the garden, the swimming-pool area, the shady verandah and the outside fire-place/barbecue. Surrounded by shady trees, it is never too hot - even on the hottest days. The lettings are from a saturday to a saturday. We ask that visitors arrive after 5pm on a saturday and leave before 10am on the last day. This then gives us time to prepare the house, pool and gardens for the next visitors.

The name of the property in Occitan means "the watering hole that flows" and is named from a spring or "source" just off the grounds.

The land immediately surrounding the house and pool has been sensitively landscaped with shrubs, flower-beds , rock features and gardens. 
Rana can be contacted at

Burger King

Hello Val
Burger King
So, why do you publish this???!!!
Tot ziens
Arie en Corrie Koppenol

Val says lovely to hear you are still reading TAG and thank you for your positive input. Not our cup of tea Burger King but these chains McDonald and Burger King are loved by younger people and the fact that they are coming to Toulouse will make students in the town very happy.
Val says the couple used to live in France but moved to Spain
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News from festilitt

Happy New Year from the Parisot Literary Festival Team. 

We are hard at work organising the programme for this year's event which will be on 23, 24 & 25 October.  We've already secured some fabulous, and very well known, British authors so save the dates - it will be a not to be missed weekend.  

To see the highlights of our highly successful 2014 festival, click on the link below:   

Nous sommes lundi, le vingt six

lentement mais sûrement - slowly but surely

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Mimosa at the flower market at Narbonne

Mimosa means Spring is just around the corner, certainly a cheerful picture
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We all love the plane trees lining the road, they speak of France

So sad that yet another death, a young driver crashing headlong into one. A  24 year old Rabastinois (someone from Rabastens) near Lisle sur Tarn lost control of his car killing both himself and his puppy.
One of the reasons many communes throughout France are cutting them down to stop such  accidents. They really are under threat these lines and lanes of trees as some are also diseased like the ones lining the canal du Midi from Toulouse down toward Carcassonne. Many of those are set to be cut down.
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News from Via Sahel Enfants d' Afrique to follow

After a late night we were set for a leisurely morning when a tap at the door and a shout up the stairs announced the arrival of Jean Marie Nosal from the Domaine de Sautou. I love it that he knows us well enough just to arrive and we are always interested in his news. His latest exploits in Bamako just before Christmas have been written up and when Malc finds time he will translate and précis them for us.
The over riding thing when he was there was the fear of Ebola in the population. It is a relief now that hopefully Mali is clear at the moment. Jean Marie got the school and hospital sorted out and he was pleased to meet with the President of Mali and his wife to discuss the welfare of the children. There are huge numbers of homeless, children without parents at the moment and as Jean Marie explained to the President they were never likely to be adopted in their own country. JM wants the country to open up again the possibility of these children being adopted abroad. He thinks it is the only chance they have to survive and the President and his aid listened and agreed. There is a possibility of a bill coming up in the senate which may once again change adoption procedures. JM knows of families here who would be happy to adopt.
The next visitors arrived  and what had been a quiet morning turned in to a very sociable one.
When visitors are so lovely, we are not unhappy.
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Paddington has hat colour changes with each new illustrator

A reader has asked why  my Paddington has a blue hat when in the film is hat is red. Paddington over the years in the books changed illustrators. My favourite was the first Peggy Fortnum followed by Fred Banbury in 1972 when his hat was blue. In 1976 Ivor Wood took over and David Mckee in the 80's changed his hat for the first time to red. In the 90' s R.W. Alley kept up with the red theme. The red wellingtons on my bear came in in 1972 when toy makers Gabrielle designs put him in a pair of red boots so he could be made to stand.
I would like to see a film " Paddington holidays in SW France"  He could come and stay in our gite and ride the donkeys!
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Paddington romps away at St. Antonin

A cinema full of elderly friends of a bear. "Best film I have seen in years " one after another say. How many people go home wanting a Paddington and do I feel a bit guilty that I have got one ... stuffed.
Shall I tell you why the film was so  funny, well it is because the books so well written  by Michael Bond are hilarious.
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Hostess with the mostest

We were invited out last night with a group of friends and I would like to thank the host and hostess, you two really know how to make people happy, comfortable and FULL.
I found it interesting in the brief discussion about TAG that everyone seemed to like the French date and French word for the day. I had not been sure about it but this is the second group who tell me they like it. A discussion about copyright of pictures made me think I must pay more attention to use of pictures used. As the numbers of TAG readers have risen both Malc and I feel a certain responsibility to get things right, not easy always when you are doing half a dozen jobs all at the same time. One has a responsibility to ones advertisers, which when years ago we made printed copies of TAG we never really had.
The important thing is to get it right for you the reader and with ever increasing numbers viewing we must be getting something right.
In these darker days politically and weather wise we would like some bright cheerful stories, so come on Taggers come up with some sunshine.
We know a lady who has just got a new bike, a picture of her in lycra would be good.
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Truffle time in SW France

Truffles with a very strong smell / un parfum très fort, are something a bit special at this time of the year in our region. They can be found from November  to March, nowadays truffle dogs are used to scent them out rather than pigs. Martin Malvy President du conseil regional de Midi Pyrenees inaugurated projects this week  making  Lalbenque a site remarkable for this black jewel loved by cooks and gourmets. He says Lalbenque now has a world wide reputation.
One thing about truffles is at least they are not controversial like foie gras! 
Picture and report from the Depeche.

Six ski ers now disappeared in the Haute Alps

A group of six skiers have disappeared in the Haute Alps after an avalanche. Three have been found dead, three others still missing.
In summer TAG reports swimming pool deaths, in winter deaths on the ski slopes. Swimming and skiing both great things to do but there are risks as the mounting death toll proves.
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TAG does not report UK news

... but there has to be the odd exception when Middlesbrough football team are involved.
Yesterday in the Cup Middlesbrough beat Manchester City 2 - nil
Brother in law Tudor had stood holding the phone one morning two weeks to get two of the 5,000 tickets for him and grandson James.
 We were out last night with Malc wearing his Boro scarf and all I can say "well done the lads"
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First story in the Depeche, the death of the young soldier

David age just 19, a young soldier shot himself and was found by his friends in his battalion at the edge of the 5,000 hectare army property at Caylus. He was found to be dead from one shot when the sapeur pompiers arrived on scene.  Today the investigation into his death will begin.
My thoughts are soldiers allowed guns outside of training times, should guns not be accounted for and locked up? I would not like to think of young soldiers around the town with guns in their belts. My point being where was his company sergeant and why was he allowed a gun? If I was the parent these are the questions I would be asking.
Malc thinks what if he was on guard duty then he would have a gun.
Val says  my first question would still be why did he have and where did he get a gun.
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Nous sommes dimanche, le vingt cinq

Elle est souriante - she is smiley
il est souriant   - he is smiley
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Saturday, 24 January 2015

No matter how bad your day is at least you are not stuck in a fence being laughed at by a cow

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An historic rise in road deaths in 2014

Bernard Cazeneuve is set to announce numerous new measures to try and save lives from deaths on the road. It is the first rise in 12 years but I know reading the French newspapers the number of accidents being reported.    comments to

A great car for sale

Right hand drive C4 Grand Picasso 2009
Approx 80000 kms on the clock
7 seater
2 Litre engine/ petrol
Automatic/Manual - tiptronic transmission
European headlights- we still have the UK headlights.
French registration
Spare wheel as well as the aerosol in case of a puncture.
One careful owner from new. The car is in immaculate condition inside and out.

                                7250 Euros

Electrical repairs

Dear Val

My fridge needs  a repair, who do I contact
Val says the post below answers it I think

Dear Val,
I've searched on tag, but can't seem to find anything.  Our condensation tumble dryer needs repair.  Do you or anyone know of a repairman in St Antonin or nearby?

Val says Electrical repairman in St. Antonin, this man comes up all the time. I found him by searching washing machines but will put him under  electrical machine repairs

Who do we know who mends machines?

 Hi Val
 We've used the chap in St Antonin a couple of times (different faults!) and he's done it on the spot at a reasonable price.
  05 81 52 91 35 - Electro Depannage

Jill says    I've used him too, for my washing machine - prompt and efficient and helpful
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A young soldier dies at Caylus Camp

A young soldier 23 has committed suicide killing himself with a firearm. I do not know what has happened but one always thinks could it be  bullying in the ranks?

Un militaire âgé de 23 ans s'est suicidé avec une arme à feu dans l'enceinte du camp de Caylus. Pour l'heure, on ignore à quel régiment le jeune homme appartient. Outre le 17 RGP de Montauban, le camp accueille le centre de formation initiale de parachutiste de la 11e Division parachutiste et reçoit donc de nombreux élèves.      Comments to

It has got to be the cake lady, Glynis

Hi Val
Can I ask of your readers if they know (or maybe you know)of  a cake baker that makes custom designed cakes with thick sugar frosting.  I think they might be in Septfonds but do not know their name or number.

Thank you
Linnea Barnes

Val says this is an ad Glynis put on before Christmas and has her contact details, wonder if her classes are full?

Hi Val
I've put together some dates for cake decorating and sugarcraft workshops for next year
They're all the website
love Glynis
Workshop Dates  45€ per class

20€ deposit required to secure place

Friday 13th February, 2pm              Valentine
For this I will provide you with a 6" cake that you will cover and decorate in the way you choose for someone special. 
I will help you with techniques, provide equipment and explain how to use it.

Wenesday 25th March   2pm           Teddy Bears picnic
We are going to cover a cake board, create a blanket and make 2 or 3 teddy bears and some food for them to eat.
You will be able to display this as a topper on it's own and I will also show you how to display it on a cake

Thursday 2nd April, 2pm                  Easter
We're going to make easter chicks, easter bunnies, pretty easter eggs and surround them with some small flowers

Wednesday 29th April  2pm             Lilly of the Valley
We are going to decorate 6 cupcakes, all with lilly of the valley that you can give away 1st May
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Bearded debonair and that was just the patron

We go so often to Charlie's at Verfeil that I cannot remember when we last did a TOF ( TAG on food) report.
Thursday the restaurant was open again after a short break and a "verrie hanzome Charlee"( trying to say it with a French accent) met us at the door sporting a black beard, looking great. Normally beards end up being grey and straggly yuk! but Charlie looked "quite the handsome man" and he also looked refreshed after a break.
We had choice of starter, platter of meats with cornichons or an aubergine flan and salad. We went for the flan and it was delicious. We both had chili con carne and jacket potato, forgotten what the other choice was and then the usual fabulous choice of dessert. We could not fault any of it and with the warm chaleureux reception one receives and a petit prix how could you go wrong.
Out of five, 5 in the context of price and service, honestly hard to mark it down on this day  
La Seye et Vous at Verfeil sur Seye, our local
Tonight and every Friday night till April there is a concert booked.
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Anyone know anything about the tunnel? and fancy a good meal

Dear Val

After we too had had great fun laughing at Paddington and indeed the children in the audience laughing in sheer delight at it too, we went to La Terrace at Penne for a meal. What a convoluted journey, Along the Causse and then down into the Valley to Cazal and then along the river till we reached the bridge at Penne. The Tunnel between St Antonin and Penne will not reopen before April and it has already been shut for three months. What on earth are they doing, it must be a complete reline at least?

Anyway as four of us sat in solitary splendour we had a wonderful meal round the fire and wondered how our local restaurants manage during the winter month and will this summer produce enough money to enable them to survive another year.

Domy the ever young patron of la Terrace, inspite of the fact she has been there for 37 years, is launching an initiative which I hope TAG readers will support. Every fortnight she is offering a menu d'autrefois. Saturday 7 February it will be barbequed wild boar or more correctly Gigot de Sanglier à la broche (feu de bois). Price 25€ including aperitif. Tel 05 63 56 35 03 to make a reservation.


Nipping off to Spain

So many of us here are nipping off to Spain, a few days or a few weeks, many of us do it. The promise of a bit more sun in the darker January / February days is welcoming. We are very close to the border, about four hours and an easy run. A few days is often enough for me, a sniff of the sea, sand between the toes, a seafood lunch just lovely... but as we drive back home my heart lifts. It is so beautiful here and I love it so much I am starting feeling homesick before we go.We also have four  donkeys, four cats and an old hen waiting for our return and after all
"home is where the heart is"
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Inciting hate and death

France is calling for the international regulation of social networks in order to crack down on “racist and anti-Semitic propaganda,” a senior minister said on Thursday at the UN’s first-ever summit on tackling anti-Semitism.“There are hate videos [online], calls for death, propaganda that have not been responded to, and we need to respond,” Harlem Désir, France’s State Secretary for European Affairs, told reporters on the sidelines of the General Assembly meeting. “[Those who propagate] terrorism, religious fanaticism, jihadism and radical Islam use the Internet enormously,” he said." We must limit the dissemination of these messages.”

“It’s very difficult because we are profoundly attached to the principle of freedom of expression,” he said. “There needs to be a clear distinction between freedom of expression, which is a fundamental right, and the liberty to incite hate, discrimination, and death.”  From the Local    
    Val says I like the idea that if you continue to resend and share racist or anti Semitic material  on social media you personally are held responsible.          Comments to

Cinema audiences

Lovely to see the Querlys full of people of all ages to see Paddington. The audience laughed and applauded and obviously enjoyed the filmed as much as we did (and we had seen it before). I asked Yannick, the patron, how many people had seen Timbuktu. He said it was disappointing that for the four performances with English subtitles a total of 56 people had paid (an average of 14 per showing). The shows with French subtitles attracted about 140 patrons.  Now Paddington is a very good film, but makes no comment on the human condition (except for an oblique reference to illegal immigrants), whereas Timbuktu is a serious and beautiful treatment of the impact of religious fundamentalism on ordinary people's lives. As Yannick said, many people do not want to confront the hard and sad facts of modern life. But do support the Querlys and go to see Paddington.

Val says Malc wrote the review above but strangely I thought the whole production made you think of illegal immigrants of which Paddington was one arriving hidden on a boat. He was not coloured but he was a bear and he was not initially accepted. He was however a good citizen and you will notice the villain Nicole Kidman saying, " leave one in the street and the street will soon be full of them!"
Makes you think!
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The way it is going we will have a full house

Hi Val!

How exiting to show Aida in your home!!!! This is the first Opera I ever went to with my son who was 7 (he is now 31) at the time. What happened is that from restoring the Royal Opera House Archives on a regular basis, Francesca who was the head of restoration projects there until last year, and who was also a very kind lady, used to make available to us at the workshop, some very good tickets for all sorts of Operas and ballets…How lucky were we? Both Brieve and I came out of the ROH, with wet eyes. We both loved it. I wish you a great evening to enjoy and remember…
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