Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Le Festival des cultures Africaines at Cajarc

Many of us have tamed " chats sauvage" but these two cuties might be beyond us!

Two rare Sri Lankan leopard cubs have been born in a zoo in northern France, a boost for a sub-species of which only about 700 remain in the wild, the head of the zoo said Tuesday.

"There are only a few of them in capitivity with about 60 spread across some 20 European zoos," said Jimmy Ebel, of Maubeuge Zoo. "These leopards are under great threat due to deforestation and poaching."
The cubs were born on July 1 and weighed around two kilos.

The House at Zaronza, by local author Vanessa Couchman, published today

Dear Val,

My historical novel, The House at Zaronza, is published today by Crooked Cat Books!

Set in early 20th-century Corsica and at the Western Front in World War I, it tells the story of Maria Orsini, the daughter of a bourgeois family in a Corsican village. A new schoolmaster comes to the village and they carry on a secret romance, but Maria’s family has other ideas for her future. She becomes a volunteer nurse during the war and the novel follows her fortunes through the war and beyond.

The novel is loosely inspired by a true story, which we uncovered on holiday in Corsica a couple of years ago. Corsica is a captivating island with a fascinating history.

With the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I less than a week away, the book covers a topical subject. I did a lot of research both about Corsican history and culture and about nursing in World War I.

It’s available in paperback and e-book formats from Amazon (co.uk and com and also on fr):

The Kindle version is on special offer during the week of publication.

Many thanks for your support, Val, which is greatly appreciated.

Vanessa Couchman x  

Val says well done Vanessa, I have ordered my copy on Amazon
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Heureusement nous sommes bien!

The game today is whenever it rains or anyone moans about the weather you gain points for being the first one to say " heureusement nous sommes bien". Try it, it could make everyone laugh.
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Unusually wet in July

75 litres of rain per square metre, the Depeche lets us know it has been wetter than normal!
Le mois de juillet aussi a eu son lot de précipitations, puisque plus de 75 litres d'eau au mètre carré sont tombés, soit plus du double qu'à la normale.

Bad weather ideas

Hi Val,
We have guests here too.  Teens in fact.  Weather has been hard for us too.  We've done - Peche Merle pre-historic art caves, museum of natural history in Montauban (funniest place ever), Ingres museum in Montauban (just across the street from the Museum of Natural History), Toulouse Lautrec museum and just for fun, in the rain, we went to Cahors and found the 27 secret gardens.  Sometimes you just have to put on the rain coats and go for it.

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Monday, 28 July 2014

What is wrong with the weather?

Looking at the meteo, there is still no prospect of the weather settling down in the near future. Sun and rain for the next few days alternating with possibility of storms.
I never remember a holiday with the family where we spent so little time in the pool and we need to have inventive ideas of how to entertain ourselves.
One of our holiday games we like to play seriously is  "croquet" but even that has not been easy with grass shooting up and wellies rather than flip flops being needed on one's feet.
If readers have any ideas for poor weather entertainment please send them to TAG.
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Another good thing to do on a wet day

Visit le grotte du Bosc above St. Antonin, ancient caves with stalagmites and stalactites. Our family went this morning and had the hours tour and were impressed. The seven year old came racing in to us saying "Grandma it was amazing"  although the 13 year old prefered Cheddar gorge cave !
For adults 7 euros, children and students 4.50 small children free. Open from 10 am till 6  in July and August and even open over lunchtime. The walls of the grotte were apparently lined with chicken wire last year to stop the visitors " pinching" the stalagmites!
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Grand Soirée Africaine at Sautou

The last soirée Africaine at Sautou was just brilliant, with an African band with young lithe men dancers and drummers. The drums, the drums, the bongo drums were just brilliant, we had a super evening so will definitely be going again. I am not sure if it is the same group " Amounia Ziety" but I will ask Jean Marie. The evening was arranged around the floodlit swimming pool which has a stage at one end, especially for entertainments such as this.
Come along, if you have never been to Sautou before it is a good opportunity.

Tango Argentin in Varen

Tango Argentin with Christian on keyboard, all happening in the Halle at Varen Thursday 14th Aug. 20h30  free entry but if you want more info  0563654509
Organised in participation with L'Eclat.
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Miniature sheep need grazing for a few months

Hi Val
Looking for temporary grazing for my flock of minature sheep.
I have a small flock of Ouessant sheep (an old french breed), the smallest sheep in the world,  who stand between 46 - 49cm tall and are renown for clearing ground.
They are very friendly, will eat out of your hand and love human company.
They will need access to shelter and I have sheep fencing they can come with and arrange hay and straw.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
06 73 19 75 75

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Annie get your gun!

Little Annie at seven is a "dead eyed shot" Here at the Fair in Varen, she shot every balloon in sight and choose a gun and a bow and arrow as her prizes. Grandma tried to steer her to a beach ball or cuddly toys to no avail. Gone are the days when those " Cinderella heeled shoes are chosen"
Don't mess with our Annie in  the next few days.!
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Government to attack "monopolies"

Certain professions and trades are protected by law or regulations which according to a report by the Inspection des Finances give them a monopoly which is against the public interest. For example pharmacies are the only places where you can buy non-prescription items such as cough medicines and aspirins. The result is higher prices for the consumer. The same with taxis, ambulances, driving schools etc. The report recommends the government to make it easier to offer these services to introduce more competition and lower prices.
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Espinas, Fenaisons à l'ancienne

Espinas fete in the summer is one of the best around the area. The Fenaisons has through the day ancient agricultural machinery, alongside heavy horses set up for ploughing, caleche rides and always a wonderful atmosphere.
On the evening of 16th August a group  occitane called Nadau who are very well known to the French come and sing, all our French friends are going (and some English) and Espinas will be packed.
Last year the group came to Laguepie and if it was because we were right at the back of the crowds and struggled to hear and could not understand the occitane jokes and their was more talking than singing I was out of my depth (I felt it was just like the French must feel when they listen to us speak English and tell jokes in their presence ... totally lost)
I think whereas I love " Bombes 2 bal" and their dancey music  for me Nadau and  jokes in Occitane are a step too far for an evenings entertainment, but do not let me put you off, the music is good and everyone has different reactions.
The group are on at 21.30h reservation 0643477587  restauration sur place 19h
On the 17th of August at 10.30 there will be a mass in Occitan
11.30 an apero gratuit
15h the fenaisons d' antan
20h30 Grand repas campagnard
Adults 16 euros  Reservations as above. or comitédesfetesdeespinas@orange.fr

Just writing this post made me remember last year and how difficult it can be if you do not understand the language. I was invited to an evening with Dutch friends once and they all could not help speaking there own language, once again I was lost and remember trying to smile when they all laughed, it is a most rotten experience. Imagine how the French must feel in their own country being invited to be with English speakers and then listening to everyone speak a language you do not understand. We have to consider this and put ourselves in their shoes. No good saying " the French do it to us" ( believe it or not this has been said to me!) We are living in France for heavens sake.
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Sunday, 27 July 2014

Elvis has fallen on his paws

Hi Val
Elvis now has a new home with a young french couple who have had cats before and are very happy to have him. I think he has fallen on his paws!
Thanks for your help
Fiona and Andrea
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More physiotherapists

Hi Val
Both Nick and I use Veronique and Pierre at the cabinet in Parisot. They
are both very good and have given us both excellent treatment for our
various hip, back and neck ailments over the last couple of years. The
phone number is 05 63 28 24 72
Hope that helps
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The next book swap is only a week away

Monday 4th of August will be the next book swap at St. Antonin, as always 10.30am at the Gazpacho. There will be loads of new books to choose from but I think DVD's are getting a bit sparse.( if you have any you do not want please bring them along.)
I will give another reminder nearer the time. Chris and Karen have given info. about ordering from the British Corner shop.
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Le Bouton Rouge

Dear Val,I hope that this finds you well and enjoying the lovely sunshine.
I wonder if I might ask for your help with a little publicity for an exhibition of textile work made by Ankie de Jager and I to be held in Caylus from the 9th - 16th August. I have attached a short piece inviting people along which we hope you might be able to use to go in TAG on-line.
I have also attached a jpeg of our poster which goes with the text. If you have any problems, please do let me know what you need and I will send you things in another way.
Many thanks as always,
Kathryn Humphries

Ordering with the group from the British Corner Shop


Hi Val

We thought we'd put in another group order to British Corner Shop during August, having collected people's wish lists at the Book Swap on August 4th.  Delivery will be to the September Book Swap, expected to be Monday 1st.  This order doesn't need to be a huge one, since the next one will be in November, to bring over anything book swappers might need in the run up to Christmas.  

We ordered for a group of 10 in January, and again in May, spending a total of over £1,000 - so clearly there are British treats which people living here like to receive.  In fact, as I think you observed, Val, when the package arrives at the following Book Swap it's like getting presents, even if you have bought them yourself!

All who attend the TAG Book Swaps are welcome to participate.  Below is a reminder of what to do to choose the goods you want to order.  We shall look forward to seeing you at the Book Swap on August 4th.

x Chris & Karen

First step: go to the British Corner Shop web site and choose what you'd like.  The address is http://www.britishcornershop.co.uk/.  You can ignore log-in;  just click on Start Shopping or Shop Now and then view products by brand, search by name, or browse by group or by category. There's a tremendous range to choose from.  
Second step: don't add anything to an on-site Shopping Basket, but instead bring a note of what you've chosen, its brand, size and price, and your email address to the August Book Swap.  And that's it!  There won't be anything to pay in advance, and if you later find you are unable to pick up your order at the September Book Swap, we can make separate arrangements for payment and collection.  British Corner Shop's delivery charge - which is shared between those ordering - is usually 5-6% of the total cost of the goods.    
Val says thanks Chris and Karen, that makes it easy to understand.

A Harry Potter fève needed.

Val says you might think it is the wrong time of year to be discussing " la fève" but on the brocante at Varen this morning, our grandchildren bought 3 Harry Potter feves. They could not find a Harry Potter one although they bought 3 other characters so now we are searching the net for small porcelain Harry Potter fiqures. Exactly how collecting begins. Often you see people searching through little baskets  at brocantes looking for their missing feve.
The Galette des Rois is a way for French people to celebrate the Epiphany, the arrival of the Three Wise men (Magi). Every year, on January 6th, people gather pour tirer les rois, to find the kings. The traditional galette is cut in a very specific number of slices: one slice for each person sitting at the table plus one. The extra slice is symbolic for the first poor person passing by.
The youngest person in the room goes under the table, and announces who gets the next slice. The youngest person is said to be the most innocent one and therefore fair in the distribution of the slices. Such an importance is given to the distribution because of the lucky charm, la fève, hidden in the galette.
Initially, the lucky charm was a bean but it has since evolved and was replaced at the end of the XIXth century by porcelain trinkets, and today porcelain or plastic trinkets. Today, the diversity of lucky charms is so important that people collect them. It is called “favophilie”. If you want to learn more about favophilie, here is a French website dedicated to this hobby: click here

A reminder that there is a concert tonight in St Antonin Church

The concert starts at 6pm and is to help raise funds for the organ. Details have been on TAG, so search if you want more.

The Restoration Consort has been formed to raise funds for the restoration of the organ in St Antonin Church. All performers are giving their time so that all public donations can be put towards the organ restoration fund. The organ in St Antonin Noble Val has seen better days, and cannot be used for performances now. Once restored it will be a centrepiece for music in the region.

The group of 11 people comprises local and professional musicians from England. They will perform A Capella music from Renaissance, Baroque and 20th Century. Many locals and tourists dropped in to listen to the rehearsal yesterday and were clearly delighted to hear the music reverberating in the fine acoustic of the church.

Please bring your families and friends to L’Eglise de St Antonin today, Sunday 27 July. The concert starts at 6pm so come early to make sure you get a seat. A donation of 5 euros per person is suggested.

Motor mechanic in the area

Maybe Melvyn Smart can help you with mechanical problems?

Since a few months Melvyn and Sue Smart are living near St Antonin. Melvyn has been the owner of a garage in the UK and has decided to do some of that work also here. He is a fully qualified  mechanic, with even French qualifications, and working as auto-entrepreneur. In case of problems with your car or other equipment like lawnmowers or mini tractors, he will come to you to help you with the problems.
Melvyn and Sue are living in Les Granges (between St Antonin and Septfonds). Their telephone number is +33 (0)7 81 64 88 73.

Hans Buijserd
Val says  tell them to take out an advert down the side of TAG. They will get enough business to keep them going, everyone needs a good motor mechanic.( including us )

3 days of national mourning

To mark the death of 54 French nationals in the Air Algeria crash in northern Mali last week, President Hollande has ordered that flags be flown at half mast for three days from Monday. The plane is thought to have been brought down by a sand storm.
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World's best healthcare for expats in France

In this year's edition of International Living magazine's Annual Global Retirement Index. According to the magazine, the Gallic system is unbeatable for expatriated retirees.
“France provides the best health care system in the world,” it concluded, describing  the medical services as “inexpensive”.
Val says one wonders how long it will be able to continue. I do not think I have ever heard of anyone dissatisfied with the health service care they have received in France, although some do complain about the hospital food.

Tour de France ends today

The final 137.5 km stage will end today with the traditional parade up the Champs Elysees. Barring a catastrophe Sicilian Vincenzo Nibali will be the winner overall (yellow jersey), becoming only the 6th rider to win the three major Tours, France, Spain and Italy.
French fans will be delighted to see that the second and third places on the podium occupied by French riders. It will  be the first time since 1997 that a Frenchman has had a podium finish.
Today will also see a women's race around the streets of Paris for the first time as part of the Tour celebrations.

Off to Spain, you non French speakers!

General opinions on speaking the French language appear to be, it is polite to talk French when in the presence of the French.
 It is not thought speaking French when French people are in the vicinity is something we need to do. Most people feel it is natural when we are just an English  or Dutch speaking group to speak the language we are most comfortable with.
Everyone feels that speaking French is important if we live here even if it is "French with faults" by speaking French we pick things up as we go along.
Most French people are so pleased you are trying, they are happy to help you out... and if they are the one who isn't,  then you probably would not want to be their friend anyway.
I have had a few remarks made about people who do not want to speak French should have gone to Spain where it does not matter if you do not speak the language, Spanish.
 I think it probably does matter even in Spain if you are in a country location and not in the huge enclaves of the Costa del Sol.
From remarks made we do seem to look down on the  Brits / Anglo Saxons who settle in Spain, and think these are the worst sort of settlers abroad unlike us more educated, understanding of French culture resortissants
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Saturday, 26 July 2014

A TOF report on the Belle Rive at Najac

I think I like the Belle Rive best because of its view up to Najac castle. Sitting outside on the pretty terrace in the shade of the chestnut tree, with neatly laid table and lovely linen napkins, I am always in a good mood before we even talk food.
If I had a criticism it would be that the menu is pretty much the same each year, but  the food is always good and we have never had a poor meal there. We started with the foie gras and then I had rainbow trout, others had veal, everyone was happy. The creme brulée with vieille prune is always a favourite. We had a bottle of chablis and a red from Languedoc and the cost for 6 people was just slightly over 200 euros.
We have been going each year for 12 years and the patrons seem to have always been the same ones.
We tell tales  handed down to us of Chris Patten staying at this Hotel and liking the area so much that they then decided to buy a house here. That must have been  some years ago now and he still has a family home at Laguepie.
If you are reading this Chris and would like to write a piece for TAG, please do.
Out of 5 I think this year I would give it a 4, no higher as I think I would like something to change to make it more adventurous eating, but if it was your first time you could not fail to enjoy it.
They do also have a vegetarian menu.
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Physiotherapist recommendation.

Hi Val
 I wondered if any of your readers have experience of any physiotherapists in or near to St Antonin which they could share with me?
My broken leg seems to be healing well and hopefully in a couple of weeks the surgeon will prescribe some physio.
One of the nurses told me that there is only Pierre Rouzard in St Antonin and that he is overworked.  I would be glad to have anyone’s comments direct on 05 63 27 28 02 or via TAG of course.
Thanks a lot.
 Best wishes
 John Dawson

Val says I went to Pierre when I had a bad hip a year ago and was very pleased with his care and now my hip is completely better. I know of another man who had broken his leg and once again spoke highly of him and his care .Does anyone know of anyone else if this man is overworked?

St. Antonin Fete, with fireworks

Hi Val


Here is the link to the  Fete, which includes the fireworks on Sunday 10 Aug


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A funny medical story, it happened last week.

A lady went to the medical centre feeling unwell and dizzy. After tests she was advised to go to Albi for more tests and the Doctor wrote a note. In the course of the examination the Dr. asked something and the lady replied she felt dizzy. The Doctor asked how you spelt dizzy so the lady told him, thinking he needed to look it up.
On arriving at the hospital and handing over the Doctors letter and other documents needed, the hospital was puzzled by the two names   Pat Smith  on official documents and Pat Dizzy on the Drs note!

One wonders just how many other  funny mistakes one encounters with language problems. Names have been changed to protect the innocent!
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Feu d'artificice / fireworks at Laguepie

Sat Aug 9th 22h  sur les berges du Viaur, fireworks around the banks and up to the chateau.
Later at 23h a concert with " Houston"
Val says I think the fireworks at St. Antonin are usually a week later, will somone remind me of the date?
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Les Musicales du Rouergue

8th of August 21h   Eglise de Najac   Piano à 4 mains, oeuvres de Bizet, Saint-Saëns et Ravel

15th Aug.     21h  Eglise de Peuch Mignon, Laguepie  Rachel Schiffman, soprano et L'ensemble baroque Escapades.

13th Aug 21h Eglise romane de Lunac  Oliver Mazal, recital de piano, oeuvres de Ravel, Fauré, Chabrier

17th Aug. 17.30h  Eglise romane de la Salvetat des Carts  Duoharpe baroque et voix.
un aperitif clôtutera ce dernier concert

Val says that is interesting a cloture( a closed space, clotutera used in the sense to close or round it off)
More info   :http:/musicalesdurouergue.free.fr
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Long tall Sally, or in this case Charlotte.

Our granddaughter at 13 is quite tall at 5 ' 7
It made us check heights of women around the world.
In the UK women are on average 5' 4.25
French women                               5' 4
Dutch women                                 5'7
Charlotte has Dutch jeans/ genes ( she tells me actually they are Jack Wills, but basically they did not come from Laguepie market)
The smallest women are from Bolivia 4'8
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Le Musée Soulages at Rodez

Le musée Soulages at Rodez is pleased to report they have 1,000 visitors a day passing through the doors. We were interested talking to Jean Marie Nosal to hear that his father who was a painter of some renown in the era of Jean Cocteau, will be having paintings displayed at Rodez at the Soulages musée before too long. Many of his paintings were donated to Rodez by Jean Marie a few years ago. I will let you know when the exhibition is on.
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Dead for a year, found in a bungalow at an elderly persons village

They are advertised a lot on French TV, these villages of bungalows for " sénioriales" I am sure one of the reasons you would rent a bungalow is to be with your peers and have security if you were on your own. Sad to think no one would miss this person or wonder why there was never anyone at the bungalow. Where was the the caretaker we ask?
Au tribunal de grande instance de Carcassonne, le procureur de la République est le premier surpris par l'incroyable enchaînement de faits qui a masqué jusqu'à ce mardi 22 juillet la découverte du corps d'un locataire de la résidence «Les Sénioriales» à Villegly. Selon les premières constatations, l'homme était mort depuis plusieurs mois, au moins une année.

Train tales

A lorry carrying timber cut from a wood unaccountably turned onto the railway line where a TGV headed for Bordeaux was due. The train managed to make an emergency stop and passengers suffered a few minor injuries. Presently no one knows how the lorry managed to get onto the line as it was not near a level crossing. It is thought that the driver was on an old forest track at the time.
The report into the crash at Pau between a TGV and TER train suggests that the signal which should have been red was stuck at green due to a short circuit in the cable due to its having been gnawed by rats.
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New arrivals in Najac

Hi Val
We have found TAG online by chance some months ago when searching any news regarding Najac on the internet.  We do find your site informative and pleasing to read and kept coming back to read more.

We are new arrivals to Najac from UK, to live here all year round. Yes, we have been warned that Najac could be dead quiet when it’s not tourist season.  We bought our place in the village about a year ago and have been coming during different times of the year and still love it. The house needs doing up and once that is out of the way, we’re hoping to open an Atelier doing silversmithing (jewellery) and also some weaving.

It was great reading about things happing in the area and it’s a shame we could not attend ‘Picnic in the Park’, we were travelling down on Wednesday and got here really late. It sounded great though and glad to know all went well and that you were lucky with the weather.

Tsedey and Gareth

Val says  a very  big welcome to the couple, TAG has lots of readers at Najac so I am sure readers will now be looking out for you to make you welcome. Malc and I love Najac and the more people moving in and making things happen there, the better. My advice is start learning or improving your French and you will reap rewards by doing this, as you make lovely French friends and neighbours.
See you soon I am sure.
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Hi Val
I agree with Glynis about the crème fraiche crue which Stephanie Rives sells in her dairy behind Intermarché in La Fouillade.  It is delicious, tastes nothing like the Crème Fraiche one buys in a supermarket, (which I also like!) much more like thick double cream.  The name of her Dairy/shop  is Nature de Lait.  Her cheese range is growing and her yoghurts are delicious - I bought Sureau (Elderflower) and Lavande today but she has many other flavours.
Liz G
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Friday, 25 July 2014

Cream, not easy to find.

Hi Val
There are 3 places I know of that sell what I call proper thick english cream
Hyper U ( as per picture)you need to know where to look though - they store it with the speciality cheeses 
La Fouillade - a shop behind Intermarche - she also sells home made cheeses and yoghurts
Caussade market - the cheese man in the van with the long queue - it's at the far right hand side

Basic sky receiver

Hi Val
To the TAG reader looking to find a secondhand Sky set-top box - I searched for one of these recently but found they are like hens' teeth in France.  So last week I bought one on ebay in the UK.  Nowadays, if you search on ebay.fr, goods being sold via the UK sister site will be listed. Not all UK ebay sellers will export, but relatives in the UK could receive the package and relay it on - probably for less postage cost than the seller would charge for sending it direct. Mine cost £18 plus £11 P&P. The previous secondhand one I managed to buy in France 6 years ago, when they were less scarce, cost me €35, so not a lot different.

x C of Caylus       
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100 years on - an evening to remember

Folk’n’jazz presents an evening of music, verse and song in commemoration of the start of World War 1
Une soirée de musique et paroles pour commémorer le commencement de la guerre 1914-1918
Thursday 31st July
La Vigerie,
St Vincent de Varen
Regular performers will be joined this month by guests to present a very special folk’n’jazz evening. Hopefully the evening will take place in the beautiful courtyard of La Vigerie but in case of rain there is a large indoor space available thanks to the hospitality of Jeremy and Iga Rewse Davies.
Aim to arrive early to get seated, bring a garden chair and something to drink and nibbles if you want and be prepared for a varied and entertaining programme. For car parking follow signs as you approach La Vigerie ( precise parking arrangements will depend on how wet the ground is on the day)
Venez nombreux Everyone welcome  informations : folkjazz82@outlook.com
telephone 05 63 67 93 35
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Is there anything of value left in the Elysee palace ?

Val says the rumours were that Valérie Trierweiler threw valuable vases about, smashing thousands of pounds worth in the Elysee when President Hollande told her of his affair. Now we he hear the rumour about Sarkozy's dogs.
Is there anything left of value in the Elysee Palace?

FORMER president Nicolas Sarkozy’s dogs have been accused of chewing up the furniture in the Elysée Palace’s prestigious Salon d'argent and peeing on the sofa when he was Minister of the Interior – but Elysée officials have refused to confirm or deny the story.

For a few days newspapers have been carrying stories based on a Mediapart report that Toumi the Chihuahua, Clara the Labrador and the terrier Dumbledor had gnawed their way through furniture in the room where Napoleon signed his abdication in 1815 and Felix Faure died in the arms of his mistress in 1899.

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Aid for Palestine from the French government.

BREAKING NEWS: France is to hand over €11 million worth of aid for Palestinians in Gaza, President François Hollande announced on Thursday morning after meeting with several NG0s at the Elysée Palace.
A statement from the Elysée Palace read: "The President of the Republic received French non-governmental organizations who are active and mobilised Gaza.
"They made him aware of the gravity of the situation, the magnitude of the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian civilian population and the difficulty of getting humanitarian access to victims."
Hollande then announced that he would release €11 million in financial and humanitarian support "to meet the emergency" situation.
"This emergency assistance is part of an ongoing commitment of France alongside the Palestinian Authority," the statement added.
An advisor to Holland said the humanitarian aid, eight million of which will be given to the Palestinian Authority and the remainder to UN bodies and NGOs working in Gaza, was approved after a meeting with non-governmental organisations working in the strife-torn region.
Reported in the Local
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Hit twice by lightning!

Our house was hit twice by lightning this morning.  Our poor dogs were on the verge of nervous breakdowns!!! First it hit our ornate metal balcony upstairs – sparks flying and a fizzing noise… with the second hit our lights all came on!  Hopefully no damage – other than the phone now not working and our electric gates not opening (although fuse if fine).  According to our farmer neighbour this year is the “year of thunder storms”.
 Irena-Marie Makowska

Val says it certainly seems very stormy and what do you do in a storm? We have spent most of the morning playing card games in the grange with the outside heater / parasol chauffant on.

A few things to do next week

Once again many village fetes, with petanque, repas and dancing. Here are few different ideas.

Sunday 27th July

Varen: vide grenier on the banks of the Aveyron from 8am
Caylus: Expo at Draw International (see below)

Tuesday 29th July

Cordes sur Ciel: Marche nocturne from 7pm
St Antonin : torchlit procession 9pm

Thursday 31st July

Varen: Soiree FolknJazz at La Vigerie. The regulars are joined by guests to sing a selection of songs to commemorate the first World War. 8pm

Friday 1st August
Bruniquel: First night of the Offenbach series from 9.30pm

Saturday 2nd August

Laguepie: Motocross Nocturne from 3.30pm for trials and "contre la montre", from 6pm for races.
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Risk of " orages" in 19 departments

Risk of storms/orages in19 departments including TAGland, Tarn, Aveyron, Tarn and Garonne.
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Mesdames de la Halle

Friday 25th July

Caussade: Cast of Bruniquel Offenbach season present extracts from les Mesdames de la Halle from
                 6.30pm. Apero concert. Free entry. ( Place de la Calahorra)
Val says  the young family members have never been to the Opera at Bruniquel as it is too late for them but this could be a taster to see if they would like to go.
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Thursday, 24 July 2014

I have a doppelganger

A doppelgänger  is someone that looks the exact same as another person. yet not a twin. ghost identical to living person: an apparition in the form of a double of a living person.
A friend tells me that as she was preparing to fly here in the queue at the airport she saw someone who was my double. She mentioned to that person that at first she thought it was her friend, me.
Whoever it was replied " I bet your friend is Val from TAG online, other people have said she looks like me"
Whoever this lady is, firstly commiserations but who is she?

The doppelganger is  Caroll from Najac 
she tells me she is often mistaken for me
Your post on Tag has made us chuckle....thank you, says Caroll

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Upgraded perhaps

Dear Val, 
 Could you please put the following on TAG

Wanted. A basic SKY receiver. Offers to 0563531258
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Plaster for sale

Hi Val
Not sure how you charge for adverts for sale but  I want to sell 9 bags of Multi Finish Plaster which is good for another 2 months.
 €30 the lot and attached is a photo to show expiry date.
 Can be contacted on 0563 260 518

 Tony Coles
Val says  When you do sell I ask for a small donation  to one of our charities then.

Draw international at Caylus hold another exhibition

Fête de l'été in Le Segur

Hi Val
Les Segurats
Fête de l'été in Le Ségur
Saturday 2nd August from 7.30
Veronique Pomies et son orchestra
There will be an excellent meal
Bring your own plates etc.
To book ring 05 63 76 10 39 or 05 63 76 14 07
Carole xx

Another great success

Jeremy and Iga Rewse Davies decided to hold an exhibition of their art work to raise money for charities in France. The exhibition was a great success with nearly all the couple's artwork getting sold.
They can now make a donation to Via Sahel Enfants d'Afrique for  approx. 1,000 euros and approx. 2,000 euros to Medicins Sans Frontiers.
Well done to you both.
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And others enjoyed it too, and these emails fill up space

Dear Val and Malcolm,
We thoroughly enjoyed the Jazz Picnic on Wednesday.  Thank you so much for the effort in organising and for arranging the weather !
Hugh & Clare

Thank you Val,
a most enjoyable evening that went as one would wish,
weather, great music and company all organised with no fuss.
 Robert and Jean

Hello Malcolm,
We much enjoyed the jazz last night, and the weather was kind, thanks again.
Good luck tonight,

( Val says David is Malc's bridge partner)

Dear Both
Thank you so much for organising such a lovely evening. The band were great, the setting perfect and the amount raised for Via Sahel is fabulous!
I can’t believe that with everything you had to think about, you were thoughtful enough to provide space, table and chairs for me in my current ‘handicapped’ state. Next year I hope to be up there dancing!!! (Now there’s a threat for you!)
Thank you again
Linda W

Dear Val and Malc,
Thank you so much for the jazz evening. What a lovely way to see the sunset (yes we did, just!) and say hello to new friends. Between that and the Salon event I have met some lovely people.


Hi Val & Malcolm
Thank you for a really good evening and you huge efforts. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. Jean-Marie must be thrilled with all the money from the evening and also Jeremy and Iga’s paintings sale.

Thank goodness it didn’t rain. When I got back home, it had obviously rained heavily and there was a huge puddle in the courtyard. The gods smiled favourably on us all at Mas del Sol.
See you later Malcolm.

Thanks again.

Val says  tired out and short of time today so all your emails fill up TAG nicely, thanks to all

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Death of Lillah

Dear Val

Having read your sad story about the death of the young Puycelciene, we rushed to the Mairie to see where we should be sending our condolences. As so often happens la Depeche had not got it quite right. While Lillah had been born in our commune she was bought up in Galliac, and had been living at Lisle sur Tarn. The funeral has already taken place. Irrespective of the accuracy of the reporting nothing alters the tragedy of the loss of a young life.

We really did enjoy it didn't we?

What a brilliant evening, memorable for me and Malc and I hope lots of others.
It seemed to rain everywhere except Mas del Sol.
People arrived having driven through a storm, rain and grey weather with their tables, chairs and picnics and were surprised to be able to set up in the sun.
People just kept arriving, and by the time our surprise visitor arrived everyone was set up and corks were being popped.
The surprise arrival to us even, was the Mayor of Varen. You have all heard my many stories over the years of my " Mayoral debacles" but we are on a new footing now, us Anglo saxons. The Mayor is getting used to our funny way of speaking French and is making a real effort to get us integrating. We have to applaud him for trying, accepting new things as you get older is not an easy thing to do, as many of us know.
The wonderful thing to see were all the groups of French alongside the Brits all at Mas del Sol. I had asked the French band to speak French as many of the songs were in English ( they are a multilingual group thanks to Connor Stickler) and they really appreciated my sensitivity on this subject of language.
If we ever have any event in future at Mas del Sol this is the way Malc and I want it to be, French and English spoken equally.
Jean Marie said a few brief words and then the band played, and how they played. Another wonderful thing was the band asked John Taylor to sing a few songs with them and that went down a treat, well done and thanks John.
To Lorraine and "our Nev" many, many thanks for paying to come and then cooking for us and the band.
To all of you who came and supported Via Sahel Enfants d'Afrique I give our thanks. We still have to sort out money but we think we will be handing over a cheque for 1,400 euros or thereabouts.
... and only at Mas del Sol could the chickens join the band!

Student from Puycelsi killed in a terrible road accent

Un drame de la route est venu endeuiller dimanche une famille tarnaise, originaire de Puycelsi. Lillah Oster, une jeune femme de 21 ans, est décédée au petit matin dans un terrible accident, à la sortie de Rabastens sur la D988 (La Dépêche du midi de lundi). Lillah, diminutif d'Elisabeth, était une jeune femme décrite par ses proches comme «gentille, ouverte, très sociable.» Étudiante à Toulouse, elle venait de terminer une licence professionnelle «métiers de l'édition» et devait poursuivre à la rentrée de septembre, ses brillantes études en Maîtrise «information-communication» à l'université de Toulouse 2 Jean-Jaurès.
Val says our thoughts are with the family of this young bright girl who had so much to live for, killed in a road accident at Rabastens.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Jared's expo in Limogne closes Friday

Young American artist Jared Coffin from St Antonin, has his first French Exhibition this week in Limogne. It is on until Friday 25th at the Maison du Pays, 55 Place d'Occitanie.
I do hope you can put this on TAG and that some of your readers can make it as Jared's paintings are really very good.

Rana available if you need help

Hi Val
At the end of last summer my pool developed a serious leak which means that I have no bookings this year so I am available this summer and autumn to work.
Do you know of anyone looking for someone with expert experience of managing gites to do their changeovers this summer?
I am also an excellent gardener and can offer art classes and cookery lessons to guests.
My speciality in the cooking line is making chocolate.
My art classes are fun and inspiring and ideal for children and adults alike especially those who have been told or think that they cannot paint.
I believe that there is an artist inside each one of us just waiting for the right opportunity to emerge. It is this I encourage.
Contact me by email   jenni.rodger@gmail.com
Rana x
Val says: our granchildren went to one of Rana's art classes and really enjoyed them.

Jihadists arrested in Albi

Two young men recently returned from Syria, together with a local woman, were arrested yesterday in the Tarn city of Albi. Police suspect the three of "planning acts of violence" and seeking other jihadist recruits. The French government revealed new laws in July to restrict travel of suspected terrorist activists.
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Poor weather affects tourism

French holiday makers have been moving on from France in to Spain as poor weather in France generally continues. In July campsites have reported a downturn of 10% in July on last years figures.
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Green beaches not so green

A court in Nantes has condemned the government for not enforcing more aggressively laws against the over-use of nitrates in farming. The result of this practice  has been over the last 10 years thick carpets of green algae on the beaches of Brittany which give off toxic gasses. A local man's horse died from the effects of this (and a couple of years ago some 40 sangliers were found dead) and he decided to take the authorities to court.
The ministry of agriculture was found to be guilty of not enforcing the laws which already exist. New restrictions on pesticides were brought in earlier but nitrates are still in use more widely than deemed necessary.
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Sunny morning, blue sky, Mas del Sol prepares for the "soirée Jazz"

Grass is mown, lights are in place, tables and chairs that have been ordered will be put out this morning.
Great excitement here as we listen to Bix Biederbeck getting us in the mood.
We are expecting French, English, Dutch, Welsh, Polish, Australian, all nationalities will be here tonight listening, dancing and singing whilst we picnic with Martin's Jazz Band.

Jean Marie and Winnie Nosal will be here and will celebrate with us knowing all funds will go to the deprived and suffering street children of Bamako, Mali. Jean Marie tells us that the biggest killer at the moment is "Eboli" which is having devastating effects on the population.
It makes our efforts needed even more and all who attend this evening are playing their part in helping.
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Gaynor pedaled for dogs doing a stage of the Tour de France

Sue Glibbery  of Poorpaws says
We were there and YES she DID bally make it !!!  Goodness knows how, the conditions were appalling.  She cycled 171 kms up and down vertical mountains in freezing rain.  We were at the roadside cheering everyone on with special LOUD cheers for Gaynor and Phil.  She stopped at a hot drink station on one of the mountains and was in such a bad way that the medics wanted her to stop but she would not, so they wrapped her in bacofoil and she continued.  When we met up with them when they cycled back down she was soaked to the skin and almost on the point of hypothermia, shivering so badly she couldn’t speak.  We quickly wrapped her in Ernst’s jacket and got the heater in the car on full blast.
Dropped me off at a pizza place to get supplies, Ernst took them back to the campsite for hot showers then came back for me and pizzas.  Ate them in the bar at the campsite along with other lovely Brit guys, then went and sat outside with the rain pouring down (we were under the awning) whilst they relived every kilometre.  It was great.
13,000 people took part, Gaynor came in at about 10,000 (the first people who must be semi professionals did it in 4hours) and a large number dropped out because of the weather, but not our girl.  I was so proud of her I was in tears.  She started at 8am and got back to meet us at 19.30 !!!
So she has more than earned every cent you donated and thanks to you all.

Sue xx

If you would like to see photos to see the magnitude of the event and read Gaynor’s own report, go to gaynorpedals4dogs.com.
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