Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Is it just us...

Watching ex-pats in the Costa Blanca on BBC TV this morning we were astonished that two out of three thought Brexit was a good thing. Are they so cocooned in their bubble of Britishness that they don't see that membership of the EU is what allows them to live in a foreign land with relatively little administrative hassle?  One person had decided to return to the UK as he could not foresee a deal under which the UK would fund healthcare.
One person was in favour of Brexit because he disliked the UK's immigration policy. The same as Spain's policy for EU nationals.
We are not so different in our tendency to stick to our language groups, buy our teabags and Marmite, go to British events, utterly fail to learn the language of our hosts. But we have come across few expats with so blinkered a view of our status in a foreign land.
Many here are concerned that health care costs will be unmanageable and are returning to the UK, some are considering French nationality (in the hope presumably that the French government will pick up the health care costs with a 100% "prise en charge"). Those of us who are pinning our hopes on a sensible deal to recognise the rights and needs of the 3 million EU migrants living in the UK and the over 1 million Brits in Europe are hoping that the statement of M Barnier, "keep calm and negotiate", will be taken on board by the "ultras" that Mrs May has entrusted with our future.
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Should blank votes count?

If a voter takes the trouble to go and put a blank voting paper into the "urne" should that vote be counted as being for no-one? Would it encourage those who simply abstain at home to go and vote?  Several of the candidates in the French presidential election propose that in their programmes, so that if, for example, the blank votes won over 50% in the first round the election would be cancelled. It is noticeable that those in favour are all the "also rans", the leading candidates keeping quiet.
People often say that they will not vote because none of the candidates meets their needs, which simply allows other people to decide - generally allowing the "abstainers" to carry on complaining. Perhaps the blank vote counting would help voters to be more positive - or would it simply complicate matters?
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Nous sommes le mercredi vingt neuf mars

Theresa May is asking the country to unite... never for Malc and I .
We continue the fight with Tim Farron, Micheal Heseltine, David Lammy and others who say " keep up the fight for our country" We are the patriots and yes we believe in democracy which is why we keep up the fight.
It is not over till the fat lady sings
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Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Ready for tomorrow

Singer sewing machines

Dear Val
My elderly neighbour has two Singer electric sewing machines for sale. They are elderly but in full working order. Her arthritis is now so bad she can no longer sew. She suggests 15€ for the newer one and 10€ for the older one, plus, of course, a donation to your chosen charity. Buyer to collect from Cahuzac-sur-Vere. She would be most grateful if you could you post this on TAGlines82.

Kind regards, Helene Barratt


Nous sommes le mardi vingt huit mars

Cherry blossom at St. Martial taken by Gareth Brown

Monday, 27 March 2017

Unite for Europe

Hi Val
We were there too. Like you, flew from Toulouse to attend. For those who could not go, I think this speech captures the atmosphere and the passion very well. 

All the best,

Peter Mobbs

Eglise de Larroque at Le Riols

We are getting interest in an association to help renovate the church at St. Martial. When I went " frapping " on a few doors in the hameau, the extent of the interest is obvious and we have an idea now who might take on the challenge with Sarah and I ( locals) becoming foot soldiers.
Having talked to local councillor Serge Ardourel he pointed me not only in the right direction but suggested I go to see the eglise at Le Riols called Eglise de Larroque, it has been restored and is always open. There is a lovely walk along the lane to it and there are picnic tables in front of the church, which is in a sheltered priviliged setting with a " falaise" / cliff behind.
Information about the church was on a board outside and it has been sympathetically restored. Personally I was not sure about the wood planked roof  but everything else was just right. I even loved the ancient crosses in the church yard and we laughed that there was some space left, but perhaps not for English unbelievers.
Sarah and I had a two hour outing on a sunny morning, a lovely fact finding mission.
I think you may be hearing more about local churches, one does not need to be religious to wish to see these buildings protected.
When we get an interested group together the next stop will be to make an appointment with the Maire, who is of course responsible for the fabric of the building, the roof, wall, windows etc.
These church buildings now belong to the commune rather than the church.

Nous sommes le lundi vingt sept mars

Great Britain is a divided country
It is now reported that 100,000 of us supported the march for Europe in London on the 25 th
Some of the posters and signs held up were wonderful and I was struck by this one.
Wednesday is the black day when May is supposed to be pulling the plug. She will do it with a country divided and with more than the 48% prepared and ready for the fight to continue against it.
We are the patriots.
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Sunday, 26 March 2017

Never get pet sheep !

Shaban and I had an early start to do our shopping in Laguepie. Then back home keen to get on with a big gardening job.
We rounded a corner just off the main road to find " who was trip trapping over the troll bridge" the two sheep of our young French neighbour. They were quite a long way from home and my heart sank thinking how will we get them home and how long is this going to take?
Shaban walked in front of the car with a stick he found and tried to stop them running into every field, I drove slowly and steadily behind  like a mercedes sheep dog.
Nearly home we met the mother of the young people who was on her way out!! She drove on after I said we have the sheep. As the sheep had made a detour into a field I drove ahead to tell the owners we were driving them home. Poor girl was on her own with the two little children and could not really leave the children.
Shaban and I eventually got them back and into the electric cloture but I made it clear I cannot spend my life chasing sheep.
I do hope they either give them back or fence more securely.
Shame as the sheep are quite little characters.

Austen impro at FET

The next presentation at FET, Le Colombier theatre, is "Austentatious". A group of actors perform an improvised play, in the style of Jane Austen, on a theme suggested by the audience. "Trump and Trumpery" springs to mind, though no doubt wittier minds will come up with something better.
On Saturday, 22nd April, 7pm (bar opens at 6pm).
This is truly a show not to be missed !

★★★★★ “A potboiler of a parody, joyously performed” – The Times
★★★★ “One of the most enjoyable 60 mins on the fringe”  – The Guardian
★★★★ “A comic feat” – Broadway Baby
★★★★ “It should be a truth universally acknowledged that this improv group is quite brilliant” – Fest
To book your tickets, email to FET below. Members 25€ non-members 30€.
Your booking will be confirmed on receipt of your payment.
For more information on the performance go to

They dont grow on trees...

But this cabinet maker took six years to make a - 2CV. Using mainly fruit woods such as cherry, apple, pear and walnut, Michel Robillard has used his skills in retirement to make a wooden replica of a 1953 2CV.
Photo: Guillaume Souvant/AFP
The chassis and engine are from later cars as the wooden bodywork is heavier than the original. All the curves are hand carved and finished with chisels and glass paper. Now the car is about to have its comtrole technique before taking to the road. We wonder if it will be checked for woodworm or need a termite certificate?
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Nous sommes le dimanche vingt six mars

And it is later than we think - the clocks went forward an hour last night. The sunshine is back and the strong vent d'autan which marred yesterday has abated. A quick visit to the market (in Laguepie) then gardening boots on again.
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Saturday, 25 March 2017

Note this for next weekend

A weekend of exhibitions and demonstrations of the metiers d'art , sculpture, costume and metal working for example, will be held at the Chateau de Cas, between St Antonin and Caylus next weekend (1st/2nd April). There will be food to buy both days. The chateau is a beautiful location and guided tours will be available.

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Nous sommes le samedi vingt cinq mars

Friend Elly Wright is just one of thousands who will be marching against Brexit and to keep Europe
united. She has picked flowers from her garden to lay at Westminster. Good luck Elly, stay safe

Marching for Europe today

Spring forward

It's that time of year when we anticipate summer by putting our clocks forward one hour. The daylight saving time will start at 1am, when clocks will be reset to 2am. An hour less in bed, but sunlight until after 8pm.
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60 years of co-operation

The Treaty of Rome was signed sixty years ago today. The treaty transformed an earlier economic agreement area into the EEC, an economic and social community. Britain was not a member at that time and efforts to make the community more democratic with an elected parliament to oversee the commission, whose own members are chosen by member governments, led the UK to sign up nearly 20 years later. The Maastricht Treaty signed by Margaret Thatcher (probably with fingers crossed) confirmed the EU as a major world power. Years of economic growth; peace between large European countries; cultural exchanges via freedom of movement; scientific cooperation for research and development - the achievements of the EU seem to outweigh the negatives (bureaucracy, corruption). Sad that the UK is to throw away the benefits for spurious promises of "freedom and sovereignty", saving money and primarily reducing immigration. We will probably come to regret a "hard Brexit", so let's hope a reasonable agreement can be made.
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Friday, 24 March 2017

Help save a local church

St. Martial is in the commune of Varen in a beautiful countryside location.

We have just been to a funeral in a small church in a nearby hameau. It was packed of course as our very elderly neighbour local lady Yvonne Cazelles was buried.
We surprisingly had never been in this church although our other local church at St. Vincent and one at Selgues at Verfeil, we have been involved with.
This little church at one time must have been really beautiful and the ceiling reminded me very much of the one at Puycelsi. The church was also adorned with statues. The building though was very damp and neglected, in the service a lone bat flew around the coffin, something symbolic there I am sure. A wasp stung one of the readers and a wasp nest was discovered in a cupboard.
As I was leaving I asked one of the villagers if there was an association raising money for the church, he said not but asked if I felt like starting one.
Well yes I do.
I certainly fancy getting a group involved and raising money to stabilise the damp problems if nothing else.
You do not have to be religious to wish to preserve the heritage of our villages.
We really need some prominent French people involved then a willing group of English or Dutch worker bees to see off those church wasps.
Get in touch with me if you feel you would like to make this church dry, safe and then on the way to being restored. I will have photos soon hopefully.

Another soiree

Carnaval at Vaour Sat 25 th March

Carnaval à Vaour

"Le bidon, le monstre et le voisin"

16h30 : RDV dans la cour de l'ancienne école pour le départ d'un "défilé - histoire - délire" à travers les rues du village
18h30 : Apéro musical
19h30 : Repas (prix libre)
21h : Concert "Littel big steel band"
22h30 : Bal avec "Contrebande"

Caribbean Milhars

Medical waiting times getting longer

Are we spoiled here by our medical service? GP appointments usually the same day; X-rays same week; hospital specialists often within a week or two. But it seems this is not the norm throughout France (nor for all disciplines).
A study published this week suggests that GP waiting times are getting longer, both because doctors are getting older and retirement is not being matched by replacement, and because many are concentrating on areas which are more remunerative as there are no limits on fees.
But delays in some specialisms are now so long that patients are not bothering to ask for appointments. Ophthalmologists average 117 days; dermatologists 64 days and even gynaecologists 68 days, all much higher than 5 years ago.
The report suggests that things will get worse over the next 5 years, especially as government wants mutuelles to limit payments to patients to discourage them from simply seeking consultations that they know will be covered. It suggests that only patients with a good insurance cover will be able to get the best from the health service - it seems pretty more like UK private practice or the US system than the effective French care we have become used to.
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Nous sommes le vendredi vingt quatre mars

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Dog sitter needed

NOUS : couple travailleurs Hôtellerie / Restauration (elle à distance)
OU : Les alentours de Montirat ; Laguepie ; St. Christophe ; Le ségur ; St. André de Najac ; etc
NOTRE CHIENNE : un border collie, 2 ans et demi, stérilisée, pucée, vaccinée, bien éduquée, câline et joueuse ; elle s’entend bien avec d’autres animaux sauf des chats
QUAND : de mai jusqu’à octobre (octobre inclus). Les journées dépend de nos horaires de travail !!!
SOUHAITÉ : personne sérieuse qui a du temps et de la bonne volonté de s’engager pendant un demi an, préférablement avec expérience et/ou un chien.
RÉMUNIRATION : à discuter
INTERESSÉ ? Contactez nous !!! 
Val says who can help look after this lovely dog over a busy working period for this couple. Although the advert is in French they have good English.

Responchons or responchous?

We have never been quite sure what we should call them, I think either word can be used.
We have spent years joking about them on TAG but it was only last year that we were invited to try them with a French family who live down the road that we could actually understand why the French are out gathering great bunches of them.
I cooked the tips for about 3 minutes and then changed the water and cooked them again for two minutes. Then I had microwaved 4 potatoes, so they were chopped up, a small onion chopped and fried with smoked lardons, 4 eggs beaten into it all. Lots of salt and pepper and we had a small meal ( or starter) for 3
We had had guests for aperos so this was the perfect thing for later at around 9pm. Malc who was disgruntled at the thought of eating these bitter things admitted it was very good and our friend from Uganda enjoyed his first responchous.

Nous sommes le jeudi vingt trois mars

As we all gardened together

Mama Val we have to ask" why have you no sons?"
Little did the two Afghan boys know in the last year I have been asked this many times."I just had one girl" I said, "that is just the way it was"
"So why did Malc not take another wife and try and get a son?"
 I was asked this in all seriousness
I listened as the boys explained in their culture we would have been looked after now and revered. Our sons and their wives would not let us work hard in the garden as we do, in our advanced years we would be taken care of.
Delawer who is delighted as he has just been " de dublined" told me, " we do not like to see you have to work like this, as once again he took hold of my hair and shook it... a visible sign I was old and grey.
None of the boys seem to realise I enjoy working in the garden and they all spend their time rushing to me to help with whatever I am doing.
In their culture they have a house full of all ages. Delawer has 20 family members in one house and the elderly are cared for an treated as the elders should be with love and respect.
Have we lost something or have we moved on to a better independance?
I do not have the answer.
I do know Malc and I feel we have sons with all these lads and we worry how their families are managing without them.
And on a final note I said something which the boys seemed to understand " after me do you think Malc would want another wife?"

Val says You give love and laughter and it comes back to you, after posting  the above I received many messages from our boys but read the message below.
Love works

You are a great woman, We lost our families , but , you was  The best woman and the  beautiful mother's  for us ,you are Queen of Human Action
#Happy mother's #day.
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