Thursday, 5 May 2016

Hi Fi repair needed

Hi Val

Would you mind asking Tag readers if anyone knows where I could get a reasonably new (but out-of-warranty) French hi-fi repaired reliably, please?  Seems a shame to bin it without trying...  replies to Chris
Val says  do you know it is possible Hans VIDEPC in St. Ant could do that.

An idea for a day out on a sunny holiday day

Fête de la nature

Nous sommes le jeudi, cinq mai

Thursday 5th of May, Ascension and a holiday, tomorrow is also a holiday for many as they join it to the weekend and " faire le pont" make a bridge between the days to get a longer break.
Lovely warm sunny day, lots of kestrel activity passing the window as I write. Both birds in and out with mice and crickets so we think they must have started feeding young.
Enjoy the sunny weather,we are ready for it.
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The next "bal sous la halle"

Sunday evening at the market hall, Caylus. 17h30 (5.30 pm) for initiation to the dances (traditional) then a dance with music from Manivelle and a shared picnic.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Tarn et Garonne restaurants invite

May 17th is the day the more gourmet restaurants of the department offer a special menu of local recipes featuring seasonal local produce. Menus at 35 or 45 euros, plus a selection of T&G wines.
The full list of participating restaurants can be consulted at

La seye et vous at Verfeil

Bonjour les amis,

 Vendredi 6 mai, pour presque clôturer cette saison, ROYAL BONNOF est de retour à la Seye et vous.
ROYAL BONOF a affirmé au fil du temps une personnalité basée sur une musique difficile à définir parce qu'elle ne rentre dans aucune case précise.
Un banjo, des cuivres, des choeurs, un duo basse-batterie de référence, de l'énergie et de la poésie. Des textes en français mais pas que...
Une musique servie chaude et cuivrée.
une petite vidéo :

 Les assiettes, elles seront chaudes et iodée : Lasagnes au saumon ou lasagnes végét. Avec notre choix de desserts.

Une autre date à retenir : SAMEDI 21 mai, nous fêterons comme il se doit notre 6ème anniversaire.
Le labo sous la halle, la prostate et 5 oreilles sur scène...
Renseignements : 05 63 65 22 18.
A trés bientôt.

French driving test tougher

A few years ago to help a friend become familiar with the "code de la route" theory test we spent some hours with a CD-Rom trying out the 40 questions needed to be answered. You need to get 35 right to pass the test and the questions are randomly chosen from a bank of 1000. We found it quite difficult to get the 35 right answers, and normally about 70% of the drivers taking the test will pass first time.
But yesterday saw a new set of questions introduced, covering more than just road signs and traffic rules. Candidates are also asked about security, ecology and assistance as well as simple car knowledge (tyre tread or pressures for example). On day one only 16% achieved the necessary level, leading the chief examiner to promise to re-examine the questions, as some appeared to confuse almost everyone. Blaming the low pass level on teething problems, certain questions will be withdrawn and some re-written. He commented that as most candidates scored about 30 they only needed 5 more.... The driving school instructors must have been equally in the dark when preparing their pupils. For most readers the need to take the test will never arise, but you never know; lose your French licence and it could be you.
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Nous sommes le mercredi quatre mai

Lovely sunny morning with the promise of warmer weather as we go into  the weekend.
Coming up in the next few days Fri and Sat. we have Terri Tippet's garden centre offering her very popular cream teas. Choose your plants and stay for your cream tea. I missed the plant fair at Laguepie and I do need some bedding plants and Malc says he needs a cream tea!

Last night our postbox was full of messages and queries, if we have not yet replied we are working our way through. Malc sat last night replying to webmail messages and I did some gmail ones. A  full day in the garden, not nipping in to check messages shows how many we get through the day.
I have said before TAG needs a secretary !!
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Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Are you an old(sh) rocker?

Then the Chateau de Bruniquel is just the place. 14th May sees a tribute to Dire Straits - with support acts, 10 euros. Then memories of Woodstock (if you can remember that you were not there!) 11th June also 21h, 10 euros. Finally on 13th August a Beatles tribute.
All the evenings have support acts from 18h and the Blackbirds, claimed as the best Beatles tribute band (in France?) will be on the main stage. Restoration sur place.

The poster is not very legible, but contact the Office of tourism for more details.
OT Bruniquel

Who goes to Montauban?

Have we any reader who leaves the Varen/ Verfeil area  early Thursday morning and regularly goes to Montauban with a spare seat in the car. The passenger would need to be in Montauban for 8.30am
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Our opinions in print on Brexit

Laure Rose and Thierry Le Roy are doing a feature in the two monthly newsletter " St. Antonin Demain"
They did come to the book swap to seek opinions but they tended to get " soundbites" as everyone was concentrating on choosing their next books for the month.
Laure asks those who would like to contribute their opinion to write to the email addresses below and in English is fine.
Listening in I did notice one person who did want the UK to leave Europe!! Fortunately most know which side their bread is buttered on, and want to stay. ( some great expressions )

Thierry also says thank you and asks if you could publish ( in Tag Online ) something about the future article in the Saint Antonin Demain bulletin: any British citizen wanting to share their opinion can write to us or
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Local universities losing out

It was announced over the weekend that the Universities of Toulouse were to be excluded from the list of establishments rated "excellent". This follows similar treatment for Montpellier in January leaving the new region with no excellent university. This affects the level of funding they receive and support at European and international level.
The index of excellence is voted by an international jury and local universities have been accused of organisational incoherence in setting courses. The maires of the two cities have called upon the region, who are responsible for higher education, to take the initiative in re-organising the roles that the various establishments have to create scientific and social departments which will respond better to 21st century demands.
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An epidode of "Spiral"

Michel Neyret
Those of us whose idea of French CID detectives is based on Engrenages (called "Spiral" in English) will not find the Michel Neyret case astonishing. Yet this top flic actually stands accused of corruption and faces the court in Paris this week.
From a humble mining background Neyret rose to commissaire in the police, eventually head of CID in Lyons. A transfer to Nice seems to have turned his head, mixing with cinema and casino milieu, even (according to a colleague) leaving his wife for  a "30 year old" . Put down by friends as a mid-life crisis his activities did not apparently affect his work as he was promoted to assistant director of Lyon's regional police force.
But a chance interception of a call between criminals revealed they had a top cop as their "joker", and it soon led to Neyret. He is accused of using his position to pass information to his informers in return for expensive holidays and other gifts.
To read more (in French) click this link :  Flic undone
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Nous sommes le mardi trois mai

Here is hoping for a lovely sunny month, it is really the best time of the year here for enjoying the countryside. Fabulous bird  and animal life, yesterday I was stopped in my tracks going down to Varen, first by the most beautiful young deer, who stood stationary in the middle of the road whilst it assessed me and the threat. I also stood still and after awhile it ambled through the hedge. A couple of hours later when leaving again I had the same experience with a young bushy tailed fox.
 A brown / ginger coat with large eyes and a huge brush, a very healthy speciman. Fortunately we have no hens up here at Mas del Sol at the moment but that fox will know there is no shortage of rabbits. Rabbits are hopping and skipping everywhere, even through the day.
Nature is truly wonderful.
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Monday, 2 May 2016

10th Puycelsi International Festival

10th Puycelsi International Festival for singers and musicians.
July 20th -29th

This is a 10 day music course for both singers and string musicians who will this year be focusing on music from Bohemia. There will be concerts given by the participants, concerts to listen to, people can receive individual tuition as well as taking part in the group sessions of both singing and vocal and other exercises. Tuition can be given in French, English or German as needed

Among the works to be performed is a little known baroque piece by Jan Frantisek Novak found in the Dresden Library which is beautiful, and has not yet been recorded. Specially transcribed from the manuscript for this year's festival by  its music director, Eric Bellevaire, the work has probably never performed since it was first written in the 18th century. 

What makes this festival so special is that it all happens in Puycelsi where the ambiance is so different, the views spectacular and new friendships formed among the French, English and German participants and memories which will live with you for a lifetime are created.

You can be resident or non-resident, catered for or self- catering  and prices start from €380.
For further details see
Thank you    Ginny

Own up, who plays the bagpipes?

Someone is getting married in Cordes this summer and would love someone to pipe them in to their wedding.
Do we have any bagpipe players in our midst?
Contacting Val    for more info.

More than books and dvds this morning

A busy book swap in the sun, and how nice it is to chose your books or DVD's and then sit chatting in the sun.
This morning there was a bit of a twist where two representatives from the very interesting newsletter St.Antonin demain wanted to seek our opinions were we for or against the UK being in Europe.
As far as I know there was at least one person who was happy to leave  Europe. The rest were unanimously in favour of staying in.
I took along our flag of Europe which normally is in the grange, our outside eating area, proudly displayed along with the occitane flag, a tricolour, and the union jack.
Watch for the next edition of St. Antonin demain, the story will be there, reported by Thiery Le Roy and Laure Rose.
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That is it, that bird

Hi Val
I’m no twitcher but I have a very good book I can recommend if you can get hold of a copy, called Inventaire de la Faune de France published by Nathan.
 The blackbird-sized bird you described seems like a Merle à plastron which is a Ring Ouzel in English.
 All the best
Val says that is the one John, well done.

Festilitt catches cold war fever

Festilitt catches Cold War Fever

It seems the Cold War is in vogue in the arts at the moment: in film (the Oscar-winning Bridge of Spies), on TV (Deutschland 83, the highest-rated subtitled drama in television history) and in literature (Exposure, the latest critically acclaimed novel by Festilitt literary patron Helen Dunmore).

And at Festilitt, we've caught the bug and we're very excited to bring you an intriguing slice of the Cold War with 

Andrew Lownie

who will present his superb biography of Guy Burgess,
Stalin's Englishman.

French English student exchange needed

Our grandaughter and two of her friends, one boy, one girl want to do an exchange in the area with French youngsters, two weeks in the summer holidays. They are all 15 years old and would like to start writing and exchange with French youngsters. The young people all live in Henley on Thames in the UK, a very beautiful town on the River Thames and near enough for visits to London.
If you know someone who would be interested to become friends with the two girls and one boy let me know and I will pass on more details and numbers for the introductions.
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Pool heat pump for sale

Hi Val 
Pool Heat Pump for sale only €200

O’Foehn Norma. Input 2.6kW, output 10kW. Measures 112 x 43 x 81cm high.  78kg. silent:54dB. Pipe connections:50mm. Heats fine to 27C but remote control not working. La Fouillade area.  Money back guarantee.
Sue Cutter    tel:062520379304

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A French tradition on the 1st of May

Whilst we were having our coffee in St. Antonin this morning, a group of young men were causing a bit of noise, one dressed as a lady. They commandeered a piece of the street and the two boys from Sudan asked me what they were doing.
I had not a clue but  have since been told it is a French tradition ( along with the giving of muguet)
The group are celebrating the end of a young man's life of freedom before his marriage.
Info and photo both from Sophie Hautefeuilles.

Nadette says on the incident
We have a saying in French : " heureusement que le ridicule ne tue pas ! " = "Thank God ridicule doesn't kill!" ( equivalent idea in an English saying ??) . Those 5 or 6 young men truly lack common sense and imagination! Exhibiting one's joy at the perspective of getting married very soon can sure be a moment of sheer fun and joy between friends ! Here, it's a despisable view. Am I an old fogey ?

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We went to the market this morning.

I picked up the two lads who have gained asylum, both from Sudan and off we went to the market at St. Antonin. I just could not believe in their 4 months here they could know so many people. We have been here 15 years and still do not know that many.
Alaaldein has just tagged me in a post on facebook copied below:-

In the morning we went shopping in the city Santant tuna accompanied Mama Val and we took some home appliances and we went back to Mama Val's house and took lunch with her and her husband, owners and was Attam very beautiful relish Upon completion of the food we exchanged some talk and we talked to a lot of things and we met some friends Ayman and Heloise I very happy Booze     .. Val Johnstone

Now we did not drink at lunchtime so not sure what the happy booze means, and the home appliances were potatoes, onions and eggs. I do know the boys are grateful for all we do and Malc and I have gained enormous pleasure from giving a bit of help to others less fortunate.
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1616-2016: Shakespeare and Cervantes

To mark the 400th anniversary of the death of two of literature's greatest writers, the choirs of Caramandi's and Orpheon, plus the Aveyron departmental choir will be giving a performance of some of the music of Spain in the time of Cervantes (author of Don Quixote), plus settings of Shakespeare through the centuries.
Today, 1st May, church at Lagarde-Viaur,  16h (4pm). 8 euros, or 5 euros for students etc, children under 15 free.
web site

Feast of Boleros coming up

Today (1st May 2016) also marks the ending of copyright on the works of Maurice Ravel, perhaps France's most celebrated 20th century composer, who died in 1937. Ravel's last surviving heir died in 1960, after which a succession of unlikely claimants tried to claim the fortune generated by the copyright to his works,
Until 1993 he remained the top earner in music rights  and even in 2014 was in the top 100.
The famous Bolero alone is estimated to have earned 100 million euros over the last 50 years. Originally written in 1928 for a ballet, the work which lasts 17 minutes, is reckoned to be playing somewhere in the world at any time. For most of our generation it is linked memorably with Torvill and Dean at the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo. Try YouTube to watch it again.
France Music will have a special "Bolero Day" on Tuesday 3 May.
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Anglican services in Lacapelle Livron

Join us at St Petronis Lacapelle Livron on Monday 2nd May at 10.30am

During the summer months, the Caylus house group of the Anglican chaplaincy is moving to St Petronis church at Lacapelle Livron for its monthly Holy Communion service. This service in English is   on the first Monday of each month and the first will be on this Monday 2nd May at 10.30 am. Canon Andrew Hawken will preside over the service.  Everyone is welcomed to come and join us irrespective of their denomination and anyone who is a communicant member of their own denomination is invited to share Communion.
There is a box in the Taglines sidebar with a contact number for Canon Hawken.

nous sommes le dimanche, premier mai

A sunny start but no warmth in the sun as yet.
Bonny tried to trick me again in getting up at 6.30am...I resisted till 7.10
Eldo is not well, has not eaten his breakfast for two morning. A visit to the vet on the cards for tomorrow. Two small ticks found attached on him today, even though he is regularly checked.

A day today for giving bouquets of muguet (lily of the valley), to friends and family.
I always find it amusing that it is a poisonous flower and all information recommends not to let children handle them and certainly not to eat.

Le muguet ou muguet de mai est une herbacée des régions tempérées dont les fleurs printanières, petites et blanches, forment des grappes de clochettes très odorantes. C'est une plante toxique, voire mortelle après avoir mangé le périanthe.

Saturday, 30 April 2016

So incredible, but wonderful

Hi Val, we found this incredible person in our woods this evening, absolutely stunning beastie. I found the following info which just makes it all the more incredible....

Le Grand Paon de Nuit The Great Peacock - the Giant Emperor Moth - Latin Saturnia pyri
Its total wingspread is about 12 centimetres. It is the largest moth in Europe and found throughout France especially in the south and also in the Ardennes but does not reach Britain. Like most moths they sit with wings spread. Butterflies mostly sit with wings folded above the body. This one was unmoved either by us holding a camera within 20 cms. It was no doubt a female resting and waiting for the males which at night-time will flock in numbers to mate with her. I recall the tale told by the great French Entomologist Jean Henri Fabre "On the sixth of May I placed a female Great Peacock, freshly emerged from her cocoon under a wire-gauze cage. I do this as a rule because I am always expecting something unusual to happen. I am glad I did. At 9.0'clock in the evening as the family was retiring to bed, little Paul half undressed is rushing about calling 'Come quick and see these moths, big as birds.' I hurry in and see the room full of giant moths. I go to the kitchen where I find the servant, bewildered, flicking her apron at the moths which she took at first for bats. It seemed that the Great Peacock Moths had taken possession of the whole house." There were over forty male moths trying to locate the female.

The house at Verfeil to let

Lovely interior, anyone wanting more photos and info contact Chris Gee
Bicycles and table tennis are available for guests to use.
Internet is readily available in the village and it can be reconnected in the house for longer lets.

VERFEIL is a charming, friendly village with a general store and bakery, a garage, post office, tourist information/library and bar/restaurant. There is a children's play area ,tennis court and boules facility.

St Antonin Noble Val, our local town, was famously used as the setting for the film 'Charlotte Gray' and more recently for 'The Hundred Foot Journey' starring Helen Mirren.
It was also voted the 3rd most popular village in France by travellers.
Beautiful hilltop bastide towns and villages proliferatethe area and a multitude of cultural and sporting opportunities are available.

hair cut in your own home.

 Bonjour Val !

Je tenais à te remercier de ton mon cœur pour avoir déposé mon flyer sur ton site !! j’ai eu un contact merveilleux avec Debbie de Caylus, je suis très heureuse et j’espère qu’ainsi d’autres personnes me contacteront pour un rendez vous coiffure à domicile !
 Bon week end à toi et à très bientôt !
Rose Marie will cut your families hair in the comfort of your home " coiffure à votre domicile "
Rose is a recent new comer to St. Antonin  and can be contacted on  tel  0624467779

Val says  next time I will ask Rose to come. I met her and her husband as they work for the Croix Rouge.

Are the French "heureux"?

There is a three monthly survey of "happiness" by the polling company Think. It finds this time that the average person rates his level of happiness as 5.9 out of 10. Not unnaturally supporters of the Front National are the unhappiest, rating themselves at 5.7, whereas supporters of other parties (even the Parti Socialist) rate themselves as 6.1 or 6.2.
Extrapolating the results it seems that 3.8 million French people are living the dream life whereas 1.6 million are in dire straits.
Here at Mas del Sol we are probably ahead of the 6.2 for which we are very grateful and agree that governments should put happiness as a greater priority, a view shared by (only) 72% of the population.
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Nous sommes le samedi trente avril

Damp start to the morning but the meteo promises hot weather soon.
Yesterday was spent on the mower nearly all day and looking at the grass today it now needs a closer cut. It is lovely having land but it does take an amazing amount of time to keep under control.
The kestrel is still working away taking food into the broody mate, maybe as there is a lot of activity, we have chicks. We also have nesting blue tits and redstarts and visiting woodpeckers and hoopoos.
Yesterday we saw a bird neither of us knew. Black the size of a blackbird but with white flashes insides the wings We have seen it in the same place 3 times and it is totally unknown to us. Any keen "twitchers" have ideas?
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Friday, 29 April 2016

Sad moment

Sent to us by Martin Winn, a long time reader of TAG who once came on holiday to our gite.
Sorry I cannot make the text bigger, but it is telling you that the donkeys all came and made a final farewell to their friend. I have heard this is very important for donkeys who seem to understand death, but grieve if a donkey chum just disappears. A bit like our two missing Filou and Coco.
Fortunately their  half sister bond is strong.

Sounds interesting, unfurnished let needed.

hello Val
i'm looking for a new house to rent so if any of you'r friends have a 3 bedroom place with possibility to have a vegetable garden (my husband is brilliant gardener)around Cordes or Stantonin (laguépi,varen ,lexos milhars verfeil etc ) it be a few years renting as we planning of building our own soon.we ready to pay till 650/700 euros a month.And if the house need work is not a probleme as my husband is roofer/carpenter and we have a lot of friends who are builders.we like remote places,and septembre be the perfect time for us to move.i took the liberty to ask you coz you have a big circle of friend. thanks have a nice day
Val says Samy is lovely, great cook and is looking for an unfurnished house from next Sept.
Anyone interested ?
contact on facebook  Samy Mankolaborde or me Val and I will pass on your email address or phone number.

House to let in Verfeil

Situated in the heart of the lively village of Verfeil sur Seye this house of character is available to rent this summer.

The house has 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms and a lovely courtyard to the front.
It is fully furnished and is available from July at a rate of 600 euros a week. 
Lets of a month or more would be considerably less.
For more details email

Walking along the Aveyron at Laguepie

Hi Val

We went up quite a bit further than the weir and absolutely loved it.  Have you ever found a way to make this a circular walk, rather than there and back again?

Val asks , the river walk at Laguepie is lovely but we cannot walk too far, can anyone tell us if you can make it into a circular walk coming back a different route?
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Sweetheart Sally needs a home

Sweetheart Sally
Only a year and a half old. Sally is a small cross pincher/ terrier. She has a lot going for her, she gets on with other dogs, is fine with children, does chase cats at the moment. Does not pull on the lead, likes going in the car,is house trained and loves a cuddle.
Sweetheart Sally needs to meet someone with a sweet heart.She is puced and will  be sterilised when she finishes her season. As with all the dogs from "Truffes et Moustaches" at St.Antonin a fenced garden will be needed.
Contact Val if English speaking or Maeva if French speaking

Nous sommes le vendredi vingt neuf avril

A bright morning with a blue sky.
Out  in the fields at 6.30 am, thinking it was 7.30! The dogs had woken me and I had not checked the clocks. It was very light and the sun was out. The donkeys were in the bottom  barn and came running when they saw me making an early start.
When I got back in I received a grunt from Malc who was clinging to the duvet, not being persauded  by me or the dogs to get up early.
Sitting now looking out at the sea of green, the sun and the rain making everything so lush. The busiest time of the year in the garden and with a hectare of garden and a hectare and a half of pasture there is lots to do.... too much, never mind lots.
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