Saturday, 25 October 2014

do you know your sugars

                            Cakes in France ©
 Granulated sugar
 Caster sugar
 Icing sugar
 Soft dark brown sugar
 Light brown sugar
 Demerara sugar
 Unrefined sugar
 Unrefined brown sugar
 Jam sugar
 For caramalisation use refined white sugar as the impurities in unrefined sugar can cause crystalisation

 Sucre cristal
 Sucre en poudre
 Sucre glace
 Sucre vergeoise brune
 Sucre vergeoise blonde
Unrefined cane sugar

Sucre pour confitures or sucre gélifiant

  cuivrée (light) or ambrée(dark)


free to any home

Hi Val -
Could you put this on for me please?  :
Free to good home (or homes): 
1 'Denver' flat screen TV,  21" screen. Can be connected to a computer as a monitor.  Cheap little TV with with dreadful sound quality, but it might be useful to someone. About 4 years old,
1 Sony DVD player, about 6 years old, working perfectly,
1 Panasonic Sky digibox, about 11 years old, working perfectly,
And 1 scart cable.
Please phone Jill on 05 63 26 45 57.
Thank you.
comments to

advice on walnuts

Dear Malcolm and Valerie,
Fresh  walnuts kernels can be put in the freezer immediately. I crack & weigh  200 grams at a time and wrap in plastic film. I find this a useful quantity for cakes and salads. Fresh kernels also keep if immersed in honey -nice  on dry  cake ice cream & no refrigeration necessary. You can also make and refrigerate pesto using fresh kernels in lieu  of pine nuts. However, if you keep the the whole nuts until the New Year they will have dried out  more and so keep better when out of shell. I am still using last year’s with a crop with success.
Love, S 

Be positive, say "corsican"

hi Val 
 I do agree with Ginny. Don’t be too hard on people who don’t speak much French. As Ginny and Hazel said, we all have different abilities and strengths. I studied languages at school and college, so am OK with French, but when it comes to music and painting, for example, I am useless – as the FiFi Singing Group would agree. You could find me the best music teacher in the world and send me on tour with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and the result would be the same – a noise that would make dogs howl. Thinking it must be possible to learn, I did once take piano lessons, but my repertoire starts and finishes with a short burst of Happy Birthday to You (using one finger). Just as those who struggle with French would love to be better, it’s not always possible.


 Val says:
I am that person who could not learn French. I was thrown out of French class in third form and was so relieved to see the back of it. When we arrived in France I was happy that Malc a linguist could speak for me... well happy for a while. Thirteen years on and I am still struggling but gosh how I am improving. I will never be in a situation where I can say everything I want to... or will I?
Saying to people "oh you you will never learn" or accepting it when they say it to you shows a distinct lack of encouragement. Close friends of ours  know  how I have struggled but persevered.
I would be the last person to be critical of anyone's French but encourage anybody for trying.
Please do not give up ladies: be more positive within your group.
Malc as you know is disabled; he could not swim but wanted to sail with myself and daughter. In his thirties our daughter taught him to swim. He bought a one man boat, a Laser, and started racing. We called his boat "Corsican" as I used to stand on the bank shouting "course you can Malc", and he did.
For doubters start saying "corsican" instead of "I can't learn".
As Reggie Perrin's boss might have said "I didn't get where I am today by saying I cannot do it".
Speaking the language of the country where you live seems to me to be a fundamental need, not like singing, cooking, art, etc.
comments to

Advice on walnuts needed

Bonjour Val

Pleased to see you 'back at the helm' and trust the pain management routine
is working well.

I have a question for you and/or your readers. Having gathered a suitable
quantity of walnuts this season, I'm now needing to know how long they need
to air-dry. All clean-shelled, I've hung them to dry in a re-cycled onion
bag. How long do they need to be aired before they can be hulled?
After two previous attempts to use them, I've ended up with a 'furry' mess
after just a few days. The first time I stored the kernels in an airtight
container in the cupboard, the second I left in an open bowl. Fungus won
both times, so I'm assuming they were still too green to use.
Any hints coming my way would be appreciated otherwise I'll just need to
hull when ready to use.
Much appreciated
Di T
comments to

Citizenship and integration

Dear Val

Luckily for us, a fellow TAG reader said that if we were over 60 we did not have to pass the formal French exam just an interview where we will be asked basic questions based around a rather verbose pamphlet sent to all 18 year olds on the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. These range from recognising the colours of the French flag, to the duty to voting and the responsibility to send children to school to the age of 16. Disabled people are also exempt from the language exam.
Having read the recent debate in TAG on integration and the ability to speak French all of this rather intrigues me. You, Val, very kindly think that we are a good example of people who are integrated. We are surprised to hear this every time we read it. We basically moved here because neither of us wanted to get dragged back into consultancy when we retired. Ross does things in the village because there are so few of us here and if he gets sufficiently irritated by weeds or something else he does something about it. I think I am integrated by going to a Patchwork group for my own pleasure. Now is this integration or behaving as we would have in the UK? Doing what we like? Similarly trying to restore the church is something we are doing for our own pleasure. We love the reward of the concert, the sound and giving people pleasure and we cope with the brickbats, fatigue and effort.
However the ability to speak French is another issue. As someone who is dyslexic the very idea of an exam filled me with such fear that I would have played the disability card had it included a written section. I cannot spell in English and French is an absolute nightmare. When British people talk about reading the language I think they must have come from a land of geniuses. Hazel was so right when she said we all have different abilities and have come from differing educational opportunities and different levels of confidence. Every time I ask a British person with poor French, how they got on in hospital or at a restaurant, the reply always is that they didn't need to because the French wanted to speak English to them.Finally we should all remember that while some of us may be shaken by Mr Farrage, the country we are so keen to become integrated in is much more racist and anti-semitic than the UK and if Marine Le Pen becomes an even stronger political force after the next elections we may have become integrated in a country we no longer wish to be part of.Ginny
Val says a reasoned post without resorting to intemperate language.

Well done Gavin

Hi Val
How's this for integration - Gavin has an article published in this week's edition of the Occitan language newspaper, La Setmana. It's on the Scottish legal system and he wrote it in Occitan. Not an easy subject in English, let alone Occitan (or even French!)
Val says: well done Gavin, what a remarkable achievement.
comments to

Picnic at the barrage de Sivens today

It is expected again for today's picnic at the barrage de Sivens at least 5,000  people protesting in an "ambience familial", a family atmosphere. A lot of the young people we know are taking children and picnics and going to make their protest. If I was not one handed I would have liked to join them in the peaceful protest about protecting this bio diverse area.
comments to

Fall back

Today is the day when we alter our clocks and put them back an hour. (technically tomorrow morning at 2 am).
It means sunsets at 6pm instead of 7pm, a real reminder that winter draws on. We just hope that the animals take this into account and don't want their breakfast at 6am. We have weekend gite guests and don't think they will appreciate donkeys braying at the crack of dawn.
Also means that the Friday boules meetings move back down the hill to Varen next week.
comments to

French polishers are hard to find

If you don't get an immediate response try contacting a couple of local ebenistes - chances are that they will know someone who is a French polisher.  One may even be professionally connected to a French polisher who work together on commissions where repair and polishing are both required.

Vocab?  french polish is 'vernis a tampon anglais'  

comments to 

Linda Hatfield Fifi President and stalwart of the Folk'n'Jazz Club

1.What is your name and profession past or present ?
Hello, My name is Linda Hatfield. Prior to my retirement I ran my own computer business. Today I am the founder and President of FiFi Friends in France International
2.Do you have other family members here?
I don’t have any family here.

3.How long have you lived in France and are you here full or part
I have lived full time in France for 12 years.

4. Do you have an activity or profession you wish to promote?
Yes I have several.

Firstly, FiFi (Friends in France International), which offers a range of activities locally for English-speaking women of all nationalities. Men are also included in some of our regular events, for example: wine tasting, quiz nights, history tours, annual dinners and outings. Pursuits for ladies range from creative writing, cooking and crafts to photography, poetry, book clubs and walking, to name just a few. Our singing group leads our Christmas Singalong and our annual clothes sale is very popular — both attract an increasing number of local residents. We enjoy monthly lunches together in different restaurants around the region and coffee mornings every Thursday; members also receive an informative monthly newsletter.

Within FiFi, we have Friends on Call, which has a register of volunteers ready to help members with emergencies — anything from being stranded if the car breaks down, to taking a member or her partner to hospital, picking up prescriptions or food and even cooking. We also temporarily take care of pets for a few days if a member is hospitalised. In essence we help with whatever is needed as good neighbours and friends.

If anyone would like more information, they may wish to look at our

Secondly, a special mention for. Folk n Jazz which is a lot of fun with dedicated resident singers: Trevor Carter, John Taylor and myself as well as many other performers including French singers and a musician. We meet every month at the Salle de Fete, Verfeil at 8pm on the last Thursday of the month. All are welcome and entry is free.
Find us on our Folk’n’Jazz Facebook page.  
nb this evening is on 30th of october this month
FiFi singing group run by Judith Reynolds is also a lot of fun, it’s for all abilities and we sing mainly popular songs. We are well known for our Christmas Songs evening in the Salle de Fete Verfeil and recently we sang at the WW1 commemoration concert in Varen
Voices Choir in Villefranche is a new discovery and I love learning to harmonise with popular songs in readiness for a concert next year. Our group is taught by Becky Brown who does an excellent job with 17 French and 3 English singers.

5. Would you say you are enjoying integrating, give examples?
I do enjoy meeting my neighbours and chatting with them, popping into the boulangerie or Bibliotheque where there is always someone to pass the time of day.
I have meetings with the Mayor about FiFi and Folk n Jazz. He is very helpful and corrects my French and laughs with me but not at me.
When walking the dog I sometimes meet la Chasse and my can they talk if there is no action going on. Giving English conversation to local adults also helps. Going to a repas solo is the best way to integrate but not easy.
Thankfully due to FiFi ladies teaching English to the village children, it has helped to break down barriers and it does in some ways bring us closer to our French neighbours.
6. Do you think you will stay in France for some time or forever.?
My life is here in France but now understand there are no guarantees with forever.

7.What activities do you enjoy?
There is no greater joy than walking my dog everyday come rain or shine.
I love going to concerts, theatre, cinema and opera. Entertaining friends is a most pleasurable pastime as well as enjoying FiFi and all the singing groups.  
8.Do you enjoy travel ?
I have had the good fortune to have travelled extensively to many countries but still need todiscover more of South America and would like to visit China and Russia. I love to discover new places near and far.

9. Have you got pets?
I have Rupert my chocolate standard poodle.

10.Is there anything you miss living in France?
Yes, just the usual John Lewis and M&S, buying on line is not the same but helps. Plays in English.

irena helps her dad

Hi Val,
 My father has prostate cancer and was given female hormones to lower his testosterone in his body. This treatment plan has proven pretty successful for numerous men in reducing their cancer – however the side effects can be very debilitating. Depression, hot flushes, breast tenderness etc. 
This is my dad’s story…
"Wow… I didn't even know what HOT FLUSHES were until I had my radiotherapy treatment for my prostate cancer! Of course my wife did, however us men have no idea. I am a 67 year-old guy, father and grandfather. 
After my wife died a few years ago my PSA levels trebled – which means my cancer was spreading. I decided to have radiotherapy treatment but not to go the surgery route. I was given hormone injections to stop the cancer feeding off my male hormones and it was very successful in that my PSA has dropped significantly. I felt reborn – I’d been given longer! 
The hormone treatment continued for another two months and then disaster struck again. I started feeling a bit depressed, some days I’d feel weepy, and then the hot flushes began…
I would wake up three or four times a night, the sheets soaked through. During the day I would have to change my clothes numerous times – my hair soaked, sweat pouring down my neck and my shirt wet. It was so embarrassing! Both my doctor and radiologist said this was common and basically I would have to live with it!
My daughter, who lives in France, is a hypnotherapist and I told her about my problem. She had already treated me for sleeping problems in the past via Skype as I live in Northumberland. I have to admit when she first helped me for insomnia I was sceptical.

Anyway to cut a long story short, after four sessions I haven’t suffered from any hot flushes! She showed me how I could use my mind to visualise and take control of my body, how to stop a hot flush as soon as it arrived. Now I haven’t had one in about two months. Sadly my friend who has similar issues to me continues to experience all the symptoms of menopause because his doctor said there’s no alternative – except other drugs.
I cannot tell you what a difference it’s made to my life.”
Irena-Marie comments: “I work with many women experiencing menopause, however my father was the first man! I was totally unaware of this issue until my dad visited us in France. While he was here I did straight forward relaxation with him, so he started to feel safe in hypnosis. Then when he returned home to Northumberland (UK) we started working on his hot flushes via Skype. I am very proud of him :-) he tried something totally new and just trusted in the process.
Dr Annie Evans, a menopause specialist at Nuffield Health’s hospital in Bristol, said: “Menopause is a condition which is often sidelined as just a fact of life, and not something to be taken seriously, but for many women the symptoms are extreme and can have a devastating impact. “Many feel anxious, confused, depressed and exhausted to the point where they are struggling to cope with daily routines…”
Yet many women said their GP either failed to recognise their problems as the menopause or refused to prescribe treatment such as HRT.
 So many woman - and men - don't need to suffer in silence or be embarrassed, there are alternatives such as reflexology, hypnotherapy, homeopathy...”
Bye for now,

 Irena xx
comments to

nous sommes samedi, le vingt cinq

...and we are expecting another sunny day.

Friday, 24 October 2014

"live life with flair and laughter"

I read about your blog on and I would like to subscribe. Thank you.
Portland, Oregon USA

Determine to live life with flair and laughter© Maya Angelou
val says   what a great quote and for more click on the link...some are wonderful.

comments to

Anyone want a lift to England for Christmas

Dear Val,
I am travelling to England by car for Christmas, leaving Cahuzac-sur-Vere on Tuesday orWednesday December 16/17 and leaving England January 5/6. I have room for one person in the car, sharing petrol/toll/ferry/overnight stop expenses. My final destination in England will be either Bishops Stortford or Gerrards Cross, but I am happy to drop off / pick up anywhere in the London area. Please could you publicise my offer on taglines82. Is there a charge?
Kind regards
Helene Barratt
Val says  no charge for kind offers

those dashed ticks

Dear Val,
We too had the same issue with our Golden 2 years ago.  Not eating.  We took him to our vet and they diagnosed lyme disease from a tick, they told us if we would have waited 1 more day it would have been too late.  The vet told me to check their gums to see if they are white, if they are they are sick.  He was put on medication and fully recovered.  We use frontline/advantix every month all year, but the vet said sometimes when it's summer and they are swimming the medication doesn't work 100%.  I'm so glad you took her in when you did and that she is ok.

comments to

Artist in the Tarn

I see you have a calling all artists section, I'm an artist! so i'm sending you an image of one of my paintings called 'Fenceposts.8.' a painting inspired by a photo i took near Cordes where i live. Hope you can use it. Here's the link to more of my work at Saatchi:
Thanks in advance
Val says: see Silver's painting in the side bar and her portrait and more work following the link to a prestigious on-line art gallery.
comments to

Another tick warning.

Bonny is a golden retriever, dog of our hearts. She came to us bred by a vet at Albi, just 8 weeks old and adorable from the first minute.
Malc bought her for me as 60th birthday present; he did not really want a dog or pets at that time but he now is enslaved by Bonny's charms.
The day we were in Toulouse Bonny did not eat her breakfast; a golden not eating is a worry. When we returned our biggest concern was that Bonny would jump up at my hand.
She did not even come to meet us when we got back and the French neighbour who looked after the pets that day told us she had not wanted a walk or eat her tea.
Thursday we squeezed a vet's visit in as well as a doctor's visit. The news at the drs was good.
The news from the vet was catastrophic.
After taking blood samples, which he could analyse at the surgery, he confirmed that Bonny has piroplasmosis, a tick borne disease.
My heart sank knowing friends' dogs whose lives were shortened by this disease.
The good news is that Charles the new vet who now has our total confidence, discovered it quickly and injections have started already.
This morning bonny ate her breakfast, went on the walk and even did a bit of normal rabbit chasing.
It is a disease that cannot be eradicated but can be controlled. It is not harmful to other pets or people.
I hate bloody ticks.
Here is picture of Bonny in the spring in happier times
what do you tick ( ugh) on this one? "sympathize" for poor Bonny or "enjoyed" seeing that happy picture of those three.
comments to
Bonny looking regal in her bridal ensemble, with Milly and Annie as bridesmaids

windows for sale

Hi val, would you kindly put a for sale item on 
wide double glazed uvpc  doors with locks. Dismantled and ready for collection.  Regards beryl.   
75 euros a set

Local maire found dead

Frederique Kerestadjian  maire of Parisot (82) had been missing since Wednesday evening and was found dead in his car near to St Antonin Noble Val after an extensive search, including helicopters, on Thursday.
Described as the man who re-dynamised the village since his election as maire in 2008, the 54 year old was married with 5 children. A pharmacist whose wife is in charge of the village pharmacy since 2004 he was particularly concerned with the health provision in small villages like Parisot and prime mover in  the establishment of a health centre there.
"Fred" as he was known, was also vice chairman of the community of communes and was re-elected maire this year.
Police have given no cause of death, but suicide is suspected.
comments to

Learning and integrating, it is all down to the right attitude

I can't learn French, I have heard it said but I don't believe it.
Two examples of very good friends who integrate and learn at the same time.

One helps the old next door neighbour cutting and carrying in her wood in the winter. In the summer they host looking after  French children here on language courses. Just by doing these two actions you pick up useful French and each month more and more words are added to your vocabulary.

Another friend who does Occitane dancing, helps with the bus at Laguepie. When he arrived here he started with French lessons. He felt he would never progress but spending so much time with French friends he now speaks and knows quite a few words and sayings.

Hazel's argument that there are some people who cannot learn French is rubbish, as is cringing on their behalf; it is the right attitude which gets you integrating and learning. Join a French walking group; a French sewing group; play petanque with French players. There is usually someone with some English to help you and amazingly you pick up lots of useful words. After all just watch those children of English speaking families who go to school here without a word of French and within months are fluent. Children of 4 and 5 are not held back by thinking "I cant do it" and we adults are going to be held back by that attitude. To quote "yes we can!"

Not all of us are going to end up linguists but we are going to endear ourselves to our French friends by trying
and who could ask for more.
comments to

Job swap

I can see me losing my jobs.
The surgeon gave me strict instructions to stay well away from my donkeys until my stitches were out in my hand.
So no early mornings in the field for me.
Yesterday morning Malc came back in after giving the donkeys their buckets.
He waxed lyrical about the morning sunrise, the early animal and bird noises and I thought "hmm
before too long if I am not careful he will be swapping making my breakast for feeding the donkeys".
comments to

France back on top for wine

Despite the (usual?) fears that the poor weather this year would hit the wine output of France's vineyards it looks as if the 6.16 billion bottles produced in 2014 will put France back on top. Bad weather has affected the Italian récolte relegating them to second. with Spain third. To give an idea of the relative wine production throughout the world, USA is the 4th largest producer, but only half the French amount. Other wines are available, but in much smaller quantities.
comments to

Doreen Porter, journalist answers the 10 questions.

1.What is your name and profession past or present ?
Doreen Porter. I worked as a journalist in the private and public sectors and now do some freelance writing and proofreading — and produce the FiFi newsletter.

2.Do you have other family members here?
1 x husband.

3.How long have you lived in France and are you here full or part year?
Six years, full time.

4. Do you have an activity or profession you wish to promote?
I am happy to do any proofreading, especially something that has been translated into English  I’ve been on Plain English courses  and am happy to check over any documents as a favour to ensure they are correct(I am a member of the Society for the Preservation of the Apostrophe. How sad is that?) I can also write and produce leaflets, flyers etc.

5. Would you say you are enjoying integrating, give examples?
It’s not something that happens overnight. Some magazine articles imply that the day after you move in, there’s a queue of locals outside your house waiting to hand you a tarte tatin. You have to work at it. We did teach English to members of the local ainés ruraux; Gavin is in a local choir and is the only British person in his Occitan class (now why doesn’t that surprise me?). We could both speak French before we came here, although you are always learning.

6. Do you think you will stay in France for some time or forever?
At the moment, the plan is to stay here.

7.What activities do you enjoy?
Writing  I run a Creative Writing class for FiFi and am a member of Writers Abroad, an online writing group, whose magazine I now edit.

8.Do you enjoy travel ?
Of course. I was lucky enough to travel to places like Burma, the Cayman Islands, Hong Kong and the USA for work, and we’ve travelled extensively in Europe for holidays, and as far afield as India, Sri Lanka, Borneo and Thailand.

9. Have you got pets?
Two cats: Angus (or Angoose as the French call him), and Kandy, who is named after the city in Sri Lanka. They were found abandoned on a building site in Theydon Bois, Essex. We brought them with us  they flew Cat Class on BA to Toulouse.

10.Is there anything you miss living in France?
Friends and family, of course. A good curry, although Glynis and Emma plus Spiced Cuisine are beginning to rectify that; M&S Food Hall and London theatres.

Val says  after our café and conversation where we were inundated with cakes I think tarte tatin could easily be on the menu more and more, the more we make the effort the more tarte tatin we will get.

Nous sommes vendredi, le vingt quatre

We aim  to entertain, inform and educate, so said Lord Reith talking about the BBC (though not necessarily in that order).
Our aims exactly at TAG and also raise money for charities doing it... and go on admit it, it is an interesting and informative read.
comments to

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Book early for Christmas

French polisher wanted

Dear Val
Does anyone know of a someone who can repolish our traditional walnut French polished table? Sadly it has suffered a bad accident and the surface needs renewing.

The Maitrise choir at Puycelsi,photos taken and sent by Yves RAYMOND

More photos of the Maitrise choir of Toulouse Conservatoire. Thanks to Yves Raymond.
comments to

Freedom of the Press

Dear Tag,
I am all for the freedom of the press, but there are some newspapers which really raise my ire and thus I avoid reading them. Might I suggest that if Hazel finds Tag so unpalatable she desist from reading.
Let me think what she might prefer - non support for integration, distaste for the young or marginalised, no socialist ideals - I know she would probably love the UKIP manifesto!

comments to

electro- dépannage

Hi Val,

A recommendation for your readers who have a problem with an electric appliance: Damien Chaumont, Electro-Depannage 82, 38 Boulevard de la Condamine, St Antonin, 05 81 52 91 35,
provides an excellent service.

I used him about 3 years ago, when my washing machine died, and he was prompt and helpful, supplied a new machine the next day (which is chugging away as I write this), and took away the old one.

Today it was my dishwasher, and he gave the same prompt and friendly service, a quick diagnosis and a repair on the spot. I think he deserves all the business I can throw his way.

comments to

Gina Connolly who has driven forward The Parisot Literary Festival, answers TAGS questions

1.What is your name      Gina Connolly
2.Do you have other family members here?            Husband
3.How long have you lived in France and are you here full or part year?                                                            12 years full time
4. Do you have an activity or profession you wish to promote?
I launched the Parisot Literary Festival a year ago and have formed an association of six passionate book readers.  We have just run our second bilingual festival to great acclaim and increased numbers and are now planning our third to be held in October next year.
5. Would you say you are enjoying integrating, give examples?
Integrating gives a broader scope to life here.  I set up the Parisot library which is mostly French and there is now a team of five French and one English volunteer.  There is also a large section of English books and we also teach French to adults and English to French children.  I set up Rencontre et Partage a French cultural events association five years ago and have just resigned the presidency to one of the French team members to give me more time for the literary festival.  I will of course stay as an active member.
6. Do you think you will stay in France for some time or forever.?       Probably but we are open to whatever comes along!
7.What activities do you enjoy?           Reading, gardening and travelling
8.Do you enjoy travel ?       Yes hugely - we try and take at least two months every year and go as far away as possible - Cambodia, Burma, Costa Rica and Borneo next year.
9. Have you got pets?     My husband has chickens and pigeons but I am not sure I would call them pets!
10.Is there anything you miss living in France?       
Bookshops and pavements!
Comments to

Nobody ever said it was easy

Nobody ever said it was easy says val
My French is not good but because I am making the effort and have returned to having lessons, doing my homework it is improving... but slowly.
Why am I doing  it: the only way to to integrate with the French is to speak their language.

And I want to have  a fulfilled life living in France; I want to fit in and be aware of what is happening. I do not want to annoy our French neighbours and friends by refusing to learn their language. It is not easy and I never profess to find it so. I am sorry you feel so threatened Hazel  by my wanting  to participate in the life of the country we are now making our home. I am sorry you are so threatened by young people in the village. I am so sorry that you think I have no humanity and as acid tongues go.....


Reading TAG where you, yet again, write of your mastery of the french language and your assertation that french must be spoken in order to integrate I feel I must now 'stand up' for those unable to grasp this form of education.

Spending 20 years working in adult education I know that peoples ability to learn fluctuates tremendously, with birth or financial status being no guarantee of a quick or agile brain.  We continually told our students that "no-one was good at everything" and it was up to the tutors to search out each persons 'gifts' and expand on their abilities in order for them to compete in a very competitive world.

I can't be the only person who cringes daily at your embarrassingly lack of sensitivity to the feelings of people in this situation.  The very people who could probably contribute interesting items to TAG if they weren't so frightened at your acid tongue and lack of humanity.

comments to

Allo docteur

Regional health authorities have been setting up out of hours telephone advice centres, a bit like NHS Direct.
Following Val's operation she experienced a good deal of pain during the night and a call to 3966, the Midi Pyrenees number connected us to a doctor. After the usual formalities he explained that our on-call doctor (medecin de garde) was in fact our own GP but doubted that she would be able to do much as there were no other symptoms, but he recommended that we make a compress from ice cubes. This had the desired effect and reduced the swelling and relieved the pain.
The Allo Docteur system is designed to help you make a decision on what to do with a non-emergency during evenings, weekends and on holidays. Naturally if a life is at risk you phone 15 or 18 if an accident has occurred.
There is a useful little leaflet in surgeries and as with most telephone services be prepared to deal in French.
Taglines has a very helpful list of medical terms in the tab above.
comments to

Rebecca Allen replies to TAG

1.What is your name and profession past or present ?
My name is Rebecca J Allen I was a professional illustrator for a London Art Agency working mainly for  newspapers ,magazines , educational books and covers for music CDs. Simultaneously being a director of a multi media company based in the West End providing graphics for ITN weather and various other programmes.

Here in France I am an artist and qualified VTCT holistic therapist.

2.Do you have other family members here?
I came to France alone but my sister has a holiday home here
3.How long have you lived in France and are you here full or part year?
I have lived in France for 11 years ..I live here full time.
4. Do you have an activity or profession you wish to promote?
Yes, mainly my therapies Hot Stones / reflexology / Indian Head massage /aromatherapy massage and occasional art exhibitions.
5. Would you say you are enjoying integrating, give examples?
Yes, I enjoy integrating. My clients are French and I have French friends that I have met from Yoga class ,dance classes and a walking group. 
Plus I have recently illustrated a book for the local St Antonin author M. Ferrer.
This year I met many people at my Art exhibition which he hosted in his restaurant Capharnaüm this  Summer. The exhibition was featured in the Depeche Newspaper. This was an interesting experience because lots of local people came to talk to me. I hope to exhibit in Albi too...I'll keep you posted.
6. Do you think you will stay in France for some time or forever.?
Yes I think I will stay in France...Forever?  Who knows?
7.What activities do you enjoy?
Painting, cycling, walking, yoga, meditation, cooking, cinema, theatre and meeting new people.
8.Do you enjoy travel ?
I love travelling..if I could, I would travel at least 6 months of the year.
9. Have you got pets?
I share my black cat Inkie with Mme D'Elastique who lives opposite the Mairie in St Antonin
10.Is there anything you miss living in France?
Yes my 4 month old grandson, a 'good' curry and a country pub with a roaring fire at the end of a long winter's walk!

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Tour de France 2015

The 17th July 2015 (seems such a long way off) sees a 200km stage of the Tour de France from Muret (near Toulouse) to Rodez. Can't find the detailed route yet, but the Tour director says riders may remember the 2007 Albi time trial stage, which we think went via Cordes and Carmaux, so it is likely we can get out to see the riders.
The link below to the Telegraph gives info on the overall Tour route and times.
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La Seye et Vous and a concert

Vendredi 24 octobre, concert à La Seye et vous avec le quartet OKIDOKI.
 Sounds like an interesting evening with piano and clarinet to the fore. NB no reservations  taken.
OKIDOKI est un nouveau projet initié en 2013 par le saxophoniste clarinettiste Laurent Rochelle.
Après 15 années d'aventures avec les groupes Monkomarok et
Lilliput orkestra pour lesquels il a écrit de nombreuses compositions,
Laurent Rochelle a souhaité revenir à une formule plus harmonique
avec l'intégration du piano au sein de ce quartet où prédomine la couleur boisée de la clarinette basse.
Fidèle à ses conceptions mélodiques il propose ici d'explorer des compositions modales souvent basées sur des motifs répétitifs, des ostinatos progressifs, des mélodies obsessionnelles.
Une recherche avant tout de la profondeur sans démonstration inutile.
A partir de 19h30.
Au menu : Osso bucco de dinde ou lasagnes végétariennes, et bien sur des desserts.
Renseignements : 05 63 65 22 18.
A trés bientôt.
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26 stitches and i am still laughing.

For all your kind wishes thank you.
Can you believe when Malc came for me at 4 pm I had a finger and palm with 26 stitches and I said what a fun afternoon I had spent. The young staff  in Toulouse were marvellous; so different from the miserable bunch I got at Villefranche last time I needed an intervention.
The drugs probably helped but with each young nurse or attendant, we ended up laughing. As I left two nurses said as they walked along the corridor leaving my room, doesn't it help when they speak good French. First time I have ever heard anyone say that about my French. Great service and very good experience to report.
I will get that subbie to change to capital letters later, just beyond me with one hand.
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Malc says: the French nurses were very amused when their English patient asked for a cup of tea when all their compatriots were still snoring

house sitting, wwoofing offered

Dear Tagonline,
We are a Hungarian couple who are looking for wwoofing oportunities or house-sitting in this area so we would like to ask you to let our add appear on tag-online website, if that is possible.

We are a Hungarian couple who have been living in the area for 2 months. We have been wwoofing (working for people in exchange for food and lodging), and are now looking for wwoofing or house-sitting opportunities for this autumn/winter. We are very handy, and can paint, clean, do gardening and feed animals and do other work to maintain the houses we stay in. Gyula is an IT professional and can create websites, and I’m a qualified health visitor, and can help with caring for children or elderly and disabled people. We have a small and well behaved dog, and we can provide references. You can contact us via email at:

Many thanks in advance for your help!
Agnes and Gyula

Discuss your cancer worries over a coffee

Dear Val,
  Please could you appraise Tag Line readers that CSF is now manning a” Drop in Coffee Morning”… every second Wednesday of each month 10am….. 11.30am, at the” Café des Sports” in the main square at Gaillac. Two members of the team will be there , and happy to answer any questions you may have regarding  CSF , or if you are interested in joining us as supporter or becoming an Active Listener……….  Denise Copley……..      CSF co -ordinator   Tarn
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Bad news for Brigette Barèges

Brigette Barèges the Mayor of Montauban was found guilty yesterday in the courts for  financial irregulaties  in the financing of the campaign for the municipales in 2014. A very comtroversial lady representing the popular right. She is going to appeal.

Overwintering onions

Overwintering Onions
Autumn planting onion sets are available in the shops at the minute, so get planting now while this beautiful weather makes gardening a pleasure!
While Spring is an excellent time for planting onions, autumn planted sets will give you an earlier summer crop. They’re so easy to grow, take up so little space, and are such a useful vegetable (especially in French cooking!) that we recommend planting them in both autumn and spring – after all, it’s nice having something growing in your potager throughout the winter months.
They’re suitable for the open ground or raised beds, but don’t plant them in grow bags as the compost is too rich and would lead to rotting (likewise, do not add compost or manure to the soil prior to planting). They need plenty of sun and a well weeded, freshly dug spot with well drained soil. Plant the onions 10 cm/4 inches apart in rows 20 cm/8 inches apart. Push them into the soil, leaving the tip of the onion showing. While the plants are establishing themselves, check them regularly, as birds are rather fond of lifting them. Just push them back into the ground so the roots can develop.
They’re a low maintenance plant. Water them if the weather is dry, for but overwintering onions this isn’t likely to be very often, if at all. You will need to weed them regularly – they are shallow rooting, making them susceptible to competition from weeds for water and food – but a quick hoe or hand weed will easily keep on top of it.

Geof Cryer answers 10 questions, his way

Thank you Val for the opportunity to introduce myself. I'm Geof Cryer and have a day-job running Jonacate Consultancy Ltd ( provides health, safety, environment, ISO and chemistry advice to an international client base, and develops websites and data systems to support management of business operations.

My other life centres around music. Having graduated from New College, Oxford as a choral scholar, I plied my trade as a male alto on the London circuit for 12 years. Throughout this time I sang regularly with The Tower of London, St Martin in the Fields and Polyphony, as well as deputising with most of the big name choirs. I toured Europe frequently, and of course met my wife Mia while performing with The Gentlemen of St Johns (Cambridge) in Sweden in 1991. We have four girls now, located in Vancouver and Nice, with just Tess still at home with us.

We are very fortunate to have my cousin John Wilson, his wife Debbie and 3 children living close by in Les Espiemonts near CaylusA joint holiday in 2012, staying at a farmhouse near Penne, proved to be a formative experience for both our families. John and Debbie run the plant nursery, Le Jardin des Espiemonts, specialising in alpines and perennials. They arrived in France a few months before us and were able to keep us informed on what to expect – invaluable!

On Bastille Day 2013 we crossed the border into France, initially taking up lodgings in an ancient townhouse in St Antonin before moving to our farmhouse in Teussac. Our intention was always to live and work here throughout the year. We love the sense of community as well as the tranquility of our little valley.

I was struck by the strength of the arts community in Tarn and Garonne, and really wanted to get involved from Day One. A conversation I had with organist Sylvie Rouet-Mille really hit home. Despite the wonderful architecture and fine acoustic of L'Eglise de St Antonin, the church organ has fallen into disrepair, which limits substantially the kind of music making that should be taking place. Sylvie has been given an estimate of 150,000 euros to refurbish the organ to its former grandeur. I took a look at the organ with Sylvie – the damage is really extensive.

Initially, Mia and I joined the Choeur de Parisot and were introduced to a wide circle of keen musicians. Then at the end of June this year, I heard that several of my friends from London were planning to come over for a visit and were interested in "doing a gig"….and so the Restoration Consort was formed. We put together a group of good singers from the local areaand by 27 July held our inaugural concert in St Antonin, raising 425 euros to start the organ restoration fund. Big things start from small beginnings.

The next challenge has been to find local singers that can perform this kind of repertoire. Through the power of bush telegraph, we have now assembled 12 singers (French, Swedish, Belgian and British) and are busy preparing a programme of renaissance, baroque and 20th century music. You can expect an announcement on this in the next month or so. I guarantee it will be a real musical treat. If anyone would like to help with the planning and administration of this, please get in touch. Also, we would be very interested to hear from you if you sing bass or tenor and can sight read well.

I am beginning to take part in the wider regional music scene now, and was delighted to join Mark Opstad's excellent "Maîtrise de Toulouse" recently for a performance in Puycelsi – my first full concert as a bass. I have also started giving singing lessons.

We have had a wonderful time settling into our new surroundings and made many great friends. Our youngest daughter Tess swims for Montauban Natation while our third daughter Caitlin has moved to Lycée Don Bosco in Nice and plays water polo for Olympic Nice Natation. She has her eyes set on the French national team. I direct the choir in St Antonin on Monday nights in addition to the Restoration Consort. Mia understands more French than she can speak, but has found her niche with the sewing and craft group that meets regularly at our house.

Overall, is has been a transformational experience for us, from a suburban North American lifestyle to this rural idyll. We love the way of life here and are more than content with everything it has to offer. While I expect to be travelling for work, this is our new home and we anticipate will remain so, perhaps forever.

At the moment I am still finding new activities I enjoy. Last year we borrowed some horses for the winter period – I have to say that it was lovely to have them around but not so much fun chasing them down the road at midnight when they chose to make their escape. We have fields all around us, part of which we choose to call garden – this of course needs constant attention. Mia is a fabulous cook and I have demonstrated considerable prowess at eating so that is a winning combination. I am the proud joint winner of most entertaining canoeist at the Varenly Regatta – thanks very much for the nomination Val - only capsized 3 times. Other than music, probably our greatest enjoyment is having a house filled with people and spending evenings out on our terrace watching the night fall.

Throughout my career I have travelled extensively, and for the most part this has been really enjoyable. Despite this, there are still many places on my bucket list. It has not escaped our attention that being located in this part of Europe, many of these places are now within reach, so we definitely have plans.

Our 1 year old dog Hugo is incredibly happy here. He is a Griffon Bleu hunting dog, found by our friends Victoria and Nicholas China. Now he spends his day chasing after deer and pretending to be an extra cat (we have four of those). Also, he gives us a stern reminder at nightfall to go and feed the goats and put the chickens to bed. If anybody thinks they can help him develop skills as a truffle hound please let us know. It's about time he paid his way.

Although Skype has shrunk the world considerably, the knowledge that our two eldest daughters Johanna and Natalie are still in Vancouver is mollified only slightly by anticipation of their next visit. They love coming to stay with us, and Johanna has plans to relocate to Sweden, but I suspect Natalie will remain in North America for the long term.

Other than that, we feel very blessed to be here and look forward to every new day.

To learn more about my consultancy, please look on my website I can be reached by email or by phone on We are always looking for new members for the St Antonin choir (no registration fees), and for help with fund raising and organising Restoration Consort events. Also, please drop me a line if you know tenors or basses that can sight read well or if you would like to discuss singing lessons.