Saturday, 24 September 2016

Here we go again

Can you live in the country without transport? I can tell you the answer is no.
It was only a few days since we had one car towed away and repaired. Then we took our second car for some repairs and adjustment to previous work done at the garage. It is still there.
Yesterday exactly the same problem with the car that had been repaired, it just will not start.
So today we wait for an " assistance depannage" lorry to come again and unless the other car is ready or the garage can supply an automatic car we are stuck.
For those awaiting pick up of items for Bruniquel, my apologies
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Church says sorry (again)

We have become used to politicians and church leaders saying "sorry" for some event in the long gone past - or even more recent events in the catholic church. Now local clerics in Ariege are going to apologise for the massacre of 220 Cathars at Montsegur in the 13th century.
The Cathars were a fundamental Christian sect who rejected the authority of Rome and (probably more importantly) the crown. At that time the northern provinces wanted to take control of Occitanie and church and barons may have considered that the Cathars' rejection of authority and support from local barons was a threat to their unity. Whatever, there were purges throughout the south-west and many burned as heretics in the chateau of Montsegur.
One wonders if these apologies have any value. The past is a different world and we should not forget that many horrific deeds were carried out in the name of religion, politics, commerce and colonialism, But  remembering and learning from history is more important than a lip-service apology.
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Nous sommes le samedi vingt quatre septembre

Friday, 23 September 2016

The English book shop

Good afternoon Val,

I just wanted to let your readers know that this is the last weekend that the (Charity) English Bookshop in St Antonin will be open. After Sunday 25th September the shop will close until next year. 
For those who enjoyed "Burton" at les Cabannes on Wednesday, there is a book about the Burton/Taylor marriage ! 
Also in stock are lots of good cook books and a large selection of books on health and well-being.  

Deirdre Honey 

Val says profits from this shop go to charity

Strictly tango at Caylus

Monthly tango classes in Caylus, promoted by the Errances Association. Contact Caroline Marc at

Gosh! cannot wait to meet Annie from Aberdeen

Dear Val,

I am in the process of buying a property in Saint Antonin so was interested to come across your blog recently. I am full of admiration for your community spirit, kindness and determination to help others and just wanted to let you know that you are by no means alone in your views. I am horrified by the hateful comments reported and the undercurrent of xenophobia but am confident that you are surrounded by friends and supporters and will not be deterred.

I wish you well in your efforts and hope to be able to offer some more practical support in the future.

All very best wishes,

Annie (Aberdeen)
Val says tell me when you are here and I will arrange to take you over to Bruniquel to meet everyone. 

New date to lunch with donkeys

Dear, dear friends
So for our next fundraising lunch for the Donkeys we now wish to invite you here to Lavolvene, 82150 Belveze on Thursday 6th October at 1 oclock to eat, aperitives from 12 oclock onwards. (not on the Wednesday now !)

Our menu will be

QUICHE LORRAINE, with a delicious vegetarian quiche aswell

MOUSSAKA, again with a vegetarian version served with mozzarella cheese

Flavour of the month, PLUM TART of course with cream, or
CHOCOLATE TORTE, which was so incredibly successful the last time we served it !

Please let us know if you can come along, we hope to have another successful Day. 17 euros a head for as much as you can eat and drink. 
Everyone tells us how they enjoy these days at our happy Donkey Sanctuary so please do come along and support us.

Many thanks

Jan Lemmy 

A relevant piece of history on St. Antonin Noble Val

Dear Val and Malc,
We are proud to know you and thankful for the tireless way you work to improve the lives of others.
What some of your detractors may not know, or choose to forget, is that St Antonin has a long history of very brave people who risked their lives to save others.  In 1943 Armand and Alice Fraysse who had started a youth hostel at Saleth before the war, took in six year old Polish Jewish refugee Jacques Bronstein and passed him off as their nephew for the rest of the war.  On 22 December 1997, the Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem awarded Armand and Alice Fraysse the title of “Righteous Among the Nations” and the Mairie of St Antonin placed a commemorative plaque on their house near the Protestant Temple.

In early June 1943 German police based in the Brasserie were rounding up Jews who were under house arrest in St Antonin.  13 were arrested and deported to Auschwitz, however the mayor, Dr Paul Benet, who was also leader of the St Antonin undercover resistance, managed to warn a further 60 who disappeared into the countryside. Dr Benet has also been cited for saving other Jews in St Antonin at the time and of course was recognised after the war by the naming of the main thoroughfare in town “Avenue Dr Paul Benet”.

Love to you both
Val says  this made me  cry John and Susan,  how interesting and what brave people. I did not know that about " Dr Paul Benet" or Armand and Alice Fraysse.

NB John has made a PowerPoint diaporama of these brave people. Email if you would like us to send you a copy.

ZIzou says
je me souviens bien de la cérémonie à la mémoire d'Armand et Alice Fraysse, reconnus "Justes parmi les nations". C'était un beau moment, très émouvant, et je pense que c'était en 1999, puisque mon mari était maire depuis peu de temps et avait été très fier d'être associé à cette commémoration..
suite : merci à "John" d'évoquer les bons côtés de St-Antonin : il y en a beaucoup, et il suffit d'ignorer les mauvais !

Do we admire his cheek?

A young man in court in Tarbes for driving offences (over the limit, no licence, no seat belt) when already banned, turned up in an Armani T shirt and floral bermuda shorts. The magistrate was not amused.
Questioned about how he could afford expensive clothes when apparently unemployed he replied that they had only cost 10 euros. The prosecutor pointed out that in that case they were either stolen or counterfeit, an illegal possession in either case.
The accused, a  multiple recidivist, said it was the court's fault that he could not work as they took away his driving licence. The magistrate retorted that driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs was the reason and berated the young man for his lack of respect for the court. He was fined 750 euros, further banned from driving and sentenced to 6 months in jail, suspended for 18 months.
Was his "doigt d'honneur" to the court merely chutzpah or does he deserve a more severe lesson? You decide.
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Join to fight for our rights

Hi Val,
 would you be able to ask your readers to join our battle to fight for the rights of Expats during Brexit negotiations. We've got some very experienced campaigners fighting to get Parliament to focus on rights of UK in EU and EU in UK. They are also fighting to remove the 15 year voting rule and for winter fuel payments to be reinstated which will also be of interest. The group is free to join and is not political in essence but needs members across the EU so that they can talk on behalf of as many people as possible. Thank you!

Back at Verfeil

Nous sommes le vendredi vingt trois septembre

We have never seen such troubled times around the world and building here in France.
God help us next year when we go into a build up to an election. Those of you who do not like our support of refugees, be aware that if the FN gain any significant results our life here will be much diminished. The FN do not like us and we may no longer be able to claim our EU status.
There are haters out there French and English,  sad people who because their lives are so shallow and
do not recognise we are all humans on this earth, try to hurt others.

I noticed Malc did a post on his timeline on facebook about an experience yesterday.

"A perfectly nice lunch today at Verfeil was spoiled when some ex-pat person decided to interrupt our conversation with a third party, remarking to Val that “some people hate you” and “why don’t you get a life?”
Now we know that what we do trying to help others doesn’t always go down well, but what we do is our concern and in no way harms this ignorant and arrogant person. Our life is full and fulfilled, probably more so than sitting in a bar all afternoon getting pi**ed on a regular basis. We know that putting your head above the parapet risks getting shot at and we accept that there are other points of view. But almost all our detractors use rude, sometimes obscene, and aggressive language and personal attacks.
Frankly this demeans them more than it hurts us, as they are almost always racist and xenophobic. Even odder when it comes from those purporting to make their lives in a foreign land (ie France)."
Val says again... saddies and bullies never win. Malc and I happy with each other, happy with what we do and just generally feel happy and blessed.

Rumours: who is responsible?

Many rumours spread on the internet are started by one person and then copied by others. Naturally "Chinese whispers" often transform the original story beyond recognition. But it is surprising that the originators of the story often either deny it was them, or refuse to accept that they were wrong.
Recently Christine Boutin, a former government minister "tweeted" that former President, Jacques Chirac had died. This is denied by his family and the Paris hospital where he is being treated. No doubt he is ill, but how was Mme Boutin involved? She is not of his family, not even his party. But her defence seems to be that she acted in good faith. She should at least apologise for spreading a false rumour which will have caused distress to many.
Some months ago Taglines published a rumour which turned out to be wrong. But the instigator of the story (which concerned himself) instead of simply pointing out that he was mistaken, embarked on a series of ever more offensive personal attacks on Taglines and its editor. Rumours can be damaging, or helpful when deliberately propagated for PR purposes, but when they are simply untrue the originators should have the courage to admit it. Over to you Mme Boutin.
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Nasty site on facebook

Dear Val,

There is certainly an extremely provocative page that has been set up on Facebook. I first came across it by accident when some racist comments were made against our lovely new doctor. It seems that it is run by three persons, who are allegedly members of FN.

Here is a copied posting from a comment which was put up a couple of days ago. The original was in French, but I've 'google' translated it.

" I'm quite surprised that there should be no more reaction to the announcement of the arrival of migrants en masse in our region, we are already bled white financially by the state, they have calculated that he needed 24 euros Minimum per day and per person just to feed them, the rest is not counted! Those who come to bruniquel are here for 3 months renewable! In the end for which the note?, for you and me, little calculation :, 9000 migrants by 24 euros per day, 216000 euros per day and per month 6480000 euros and I do Don't count the pocket money (RSA) Housing, heating, food, mosque etc etc etc........... all this money comes from our toil and we shall be deleted as the measure my case........ in conclusion, I think the volunteers Of Origin English (E) have never lifted a finger to a Frenchman in the difficulty, on this, meditate on this!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

We all have to combat racism and intolerance, but also be aware that there are strong undercurrents of both, even in our beautiful Tarn et Garonne. They even still talk about the German occupation here! There's a long way to go yet!
Reader from St. Antonin

Val says this is one of many nasty posts on this site on facebook  which I would not deem to mention the name of. The fight is out there with these uncaring people and do not think the fight is just with refugees, we Brits are in a very precarious state now with Brexit.
As a French friend said to me this morning  "I am not frightened of the refugees but I am frightened of the venomous words of the FN members"

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Apero concert in a lovely garden

A nice migrant story

Just to balance all those Facebook attacks on the migrants we have been reading these last few days, here is one of heroism by a young Sudanese refugee, saving the lives of three French girls from drowning when they were caught out by a sudden increase in the depth of the river where they were bathing.
O Sayed Mohammed Adam risked his life to save the three teenage girls and has been presented with a bronze medal for courage by the prefect of Aude. Sadly it is our experience that even this act when reported on social media will be viciously attacked and twisted by the racists  with their vile hatreds.
Three grateful girls and their saviour
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Nous sommes le jeudi vingt deux septembre

A sharp rise in reader views yesterday made us wonder why?
Could it be that we are quoted by  far right wing French people in a new facebook site?
Well I wonder what  gobbldey gook google translate makes of it all.
To all those wonderful French people we work alongside, carry on the work and continue as we will to fight racist, uncaring attitudes.
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Where would you stand?

Somehow this link  seems particularly relevant this morning. I was told yesterday by a French friend to be aware of a site newly created in St. Antonin full of hate about refugees and local refugees in particular. The English were brought into the debate saying we should stay out( basically how dare we be involved, no doubt in their minds we should not be here, thanks Brexit!) and a couple of my posts were copied.
I have said before we are building up to the hate shown with Jews and we all know what happened there... and surely you know what you would do to help in these situations.

It's oficially autumn

It feels autumnal this morning: mist in the valleys; changing colours in the trees and a bit chilly. The autumn equinox marks the day which is the last to be as long as the night - from now on the nights will be longer. France Meteo reasonably uses this date (actually for them 21st September, but it's a leap year) to mark the change of season. However, the forecast is for a fine sunny day so lots of opportunity to get out and about.
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Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Gone for a Burton

What to say about Richard Burton? Well, he probably was not a nice person to know. He became a personality bigger than his own ego – if that is possible. When we enter a theatre we leave our disbelief at the door and perhaps we should do the same with our prejudices. He was a great stage actor; a wonderful reader of poetry and prose; a great talker; a drunken womaniser; a wasted talent on the big screen.  And Rhodri Miles showed us all those aspects in a riveting performance of his one-man show “Burton” at the Theatre Le Colombier, Les Cabannes last night.

Set in 1971 on Burton’s 46th birthday, Gwynne Evans’s script took us through Burton’s rather sentimental view of childhood and youth – all poverty, hard drinking and rugby – into the early days of theatre. Larded with theatrical anecdotes, mainly indiscreet, Miles explored Burton’s journey from south Wales to Hollywood. His loyalty to British serious theatre seemed to be the one redeeming quality. But his desire to remain “faithful” to his first wife Sybil was disastrously dealt a fatal blow when he met Elizabeth Taylor when shooting “Cleopatra”. Paid huge sums the pair became the Branjelina of their day. Pursued relentlessly by the press they took refuge in drink and prescription drugs and at the point of the play the marriage was clearly on the rocks (with or without the scotch) and a couple of years later ended in divorce. What happened next is well known and perhaps Evans and Miles will write a sequel in due course.

Rhodri Miles exhibited a range of styles and voices, getting apparently more gently inebriated on vodka and soda and the pace and expressions were just immaculate – even down to the perfectly timed collapse of the drinks trolley (keep that in Rhodri).  

Taglines is a great supporter of the FET and will continue to be so with productions of this quality.
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Sent by Susan

Need help with official documents in French?

A reminder that documents needing to be translated into French for official purposes usually need to be done by a certified translator. Our advertiser Jacynth Crozier (see the right hand panel) is ideally suited help you. Perfectly bi-lingual, accredited and friendly to boot Jacynth comes highly recommended by those readers who have used her services. (And by the way if you have horses or donkeys her companion Yves Rotte is an excellent marechal ferrant!).

Draw International at Caylus invites you

Nous sommes le mercredi vingt et un septembre

Another of our young men has gained asylum status today, just brilliant news.
That is 6 safe now.

Giving someone asylum means that it is recognised that the person would stand a very good chance of being killed if they returned to their homeland.
Leaving a country and family you love because you would be killed if you stayed is something few of us will ever have to suffer.
Thank goodness we all here have the generosity of spirit to welcome these young men and wish them well.
We need more like us.
Thank you all, the boys will appreciate it.
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Cancer support coffee morning today

Cancer Support France drop in coffee morning, Gazpacho, Saint Antonin, every third Wednesday of the month, 10am to 11.30am. Next one, this morning Wednesday 21st September 2016. For anyone whose life has been touched by cancer, in any way, is welcome to come. There will be a trained volunteer available to offer advice or assistance.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Fascinating expo about the grotto at Bruniquel

Superb antique furniture now reduced

French nineteenth century armoire in walnut, with cabriole legs, glass doors with curved tops, elaborate carved lintel, drawer at the bottom with ornate design.                                                                             PRICE: 350 euros (o.n.o)
See all the items on the "For sale" tab above (For sale ), or contact Ian Allison on
or tel 0563 31 25 32

Nothing more relaxing than being with my donkeys

Statesman of the Year

Francois Hollande: Statesman of the Year 2016
Ironically the French president was honoured during his visit to the United Nations in New York by an organisation called "The Appeal of Conscience" - an inter-denominational foundation in that city. Nominated as Statesman of the Year for his safe-guarding of the principles of democracy and tolerance, the base values of the French constitution, in the aftermath of the various attacks in France in the last 18 months.
Ironic, because his standing in France has never been lower and the ever more strident calls for restrictions on democracy and freedom by Nicholas Sarkozy are slightly at odds with the LR leader's nomination for the same prize in 2008.
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15 years after

The 21st September 2001 saw the worst industrial disaster in modern France, when a massive explosion shook the AZF factory in Toulouse. 31 people lost their lives and thousands suffered injuries or damage to their homes.
In the years following there have been enquiries and court cases attempting to determine the cause of the explosion and recompense the victims. Indeed a third case will be heard soon, this time in Paris. Coming as it did just 10 days after the twin towers attack in New York there was initially a good deal of fear that it was a terrorist attack, but in fact it turned out to be an industrial accident.
The devastated AZF site
The site itself has been rehabilitated and houses the new Canceropole medical centre. But for the some 10000 "sinistrés" the wait for answers goes on.
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Nous sommes le mardi vingt septembre

Blue sky and sun, mild not hot, a great day for working outside.
So much to do, where does one start.
Must not hang about... too much to do.
Enjoy your day
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Fight the good fight with all thy might

Val says honestly we have a fight we must start now against the ideas some have about Muslims, refugees and anyone who does not fit into our idea of "people like us"
We cannot afford to let the racist faction win, remember the second world war and the treatment of Jews. Do not believe it could not happen again, it could and you would not want to be one who sits idly at the side of these injustices and horrors.
The National Front is quite strong and gaining members through out France with the local National Front taking the Prefect of Tarn and Garonne to court for allowing him to use the old gendarmerie at Bruniquel for refugees. They have no chance of winning, it is a gesture of their hate.

Below a plea from a young Muslim who lost 3 family members in the Nice attack.

A young French Muslim woman who lost three family members in the July 14 jihadist attack on Nice made an impassioned plea on Monday not to confuse the Islamic faith with terrorism.

Yasmine Bouzegan Marzouk, 21, told a national ceremony in tribute to the French victims of terror attacks that they were carried out by "barbarians who do not follow the law, faith or religion".

"On July 14th, this national holiday, our lives were changed forever," she added, her voice breaking with emotion as tears streamed down her face.

"We are from a Muslim family and no one should make the link (between Islam and the attacks)," she said.

Bouzegan Marzouk, who herself survived the attack, recalled how one of her relatives, 13-year-old Mehdi Hachadi, was crushed under the wheels of the truck that sped through the crowd on the Nice waterfront.
Taken from the Local

Tarn to sell monument historique

The historic Moulins Albigeois
A familiar sight on the banks of the Tarn at Albi is the red brick edifice of the Moulins Albigeois, partly housing the Hotel Mercure, but also the LAIT art gallery. Originally built in the 12th century the moulin was used to mill flour, then later to manufacture pastries. When the building was restored towards the end of last century it was partly sold to the Mercure and partly to become an art gallery in the public part. Now the departmental council has decided to sell that part and the gallery must leave by the end of 2017. The hotel is thought to be interested in expanding into the extra space.
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Monday, 19 September 2016

Gold star house sitters

Message Body

Dear Val and Malcolm,

We hope all is well with you and the pets. 

Currently we are in the Geneva area and next week we will move to Barcelona for a 7 weeks assignment. As you can imagine we look forward to our Barcelona stay.

Just in case you are interested we are available to house/pet sit for you from 17th November until 24th November.

It is very likely you won't be interested in this period and therefore can you please put our ad on your sit again. We would be very grateful for that. The ad goes as follow:

Mirjam and her husband who are our house /pet sitters are available for booking from 17th November until 24th November. If anyone need a house/pet sitter during this period or a part of it please contact them via email: They are also available for booking for 2017.

Best wishes and many thanks,
Val says this couple come highly recommended by us and some other friends. We have not sorted out our next holidays after our Italian adventure, but hope when we do you will be available.

Good result for Liberte des Anes

Message Body

Hi Val
After a successful lunch in August we raised 630 euros towards our enormous hay costs for feeding all the donkeys here.  Everyone said how much they enjoyed the meal and their day here.

We are hoping to hold another donkey lunch here at Lavolvene, 82150 Belveze on Wednesday 5 October. 
No menu is decided yet.  We already have two volunteers to cook our deserts and one other to help where we need but we need some help with cooking the main course please.  If you could cook a dish that we all think would be popular for say 6 or 8 people then that would help reduce the work involved for us cooking for all 40 people ! We are happy to reimburse the cost of the ingredients to you.
So, please mark in your diary, Wednesday 5th October, Donkey Supporter Lunch and we hope to hear back from anyone with just a little time to spare to help us.

Many thanks. 

Jan Lemmy

Memorial to victims today

A ceremony of remembrance for the 238 people killed in the various terrorist attacks since Charlie Hebdo last year will be held at Les Invalides in Paris this morning. President Hollande will preside over the ceremony and make a speech of solidarity with the victims and their families.
It can be watched live on France 2 TV.
The date (19 September) was chosen because it marks the anniversary of 1989 explosion in an airliner over Niger, killing 170 people, 55 being French.
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1er et 2 oct : théâtre et vide-grenier à Espinas


le vide-grenier annuel du Syndicat initiatives d'Espinas se tiendra le dimanche 2 octobre.
Ne manquez pas de réserver votre place ou sinon de nous rendre visite.

Ce sera aussi la soirée- théâtre du Comité des Fêtes le samedi 1er ;l'occasion de rire en famille; tout public.
Programme à venir.
M.B Curato et l'équipe du S.I
​​ Espinas Si <>

Nous sommes le lundi dix neuf septembre

An autumnal morning, lots of leaves, mainly from trees parched with lack of water. The chasse is out with dogs barking in the valley. The fields of grass are still brown but explain why the weeds are the first thing to green up after the rain?
Busy day today picking up beds then taking them to Bruniquel. Then dropping our " strong arms" off at Caussade to catch the train back to their HUDA, apartment block for the homeless.
They will be going with their legs and bodies as well of course.
They start an intensive French language course tomorrow, so good luck with that boys.
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Sunday, 18 September 2016

You cuddle them to keep them happy

The St. Antonin donkeys are so well trained but even they get fed up at times. What calms them?
Well I know, they love a cuddle. They rest their heads on your shoulder and you scratch them and whisper sweet nothings. Very  therapeutic for both the participants.
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Telephone and Internet

Hi Val, below some information about telephone and Internet possibilities via Orange.

Telephone and Internet via Orange for secondary homes.

When you use your French home as a secondary house there are some cheap possibilities for using the telephone line and the internet (if internet is available through the telephone line). This option is only available through Orange.
First of all you can get a telephone line (traditional) for about € 17 per month. It has to be registered as a “ligne fixe pour maison secondaire”. Having that, you can suspend the line during the periods you are not present by using the Internet and going on the Orange website, or by calling Orange. Suspension may not take longer than 1 year. Activation after suspension costs about € 6. All calls made through this line have to be paid. When you need to make many calls during your stay, I may have a nice and cheap solution for that, so don’t hesitate to ask me.
New are the possibilities for getting Internet. When Internet is available you can get Internet for € 11 per month. You have to buy your own modem from Orange for € 30. The Internet connection cannot be suspended, although it won’t work once you have suspended your telephone line.
Pop in for more advice (I’m open on Sunday mornings during the St Antonin market).


Here's an idea for next weekend

The famous Patrouille de France, the air display team of the French air force, will be present next weekend (24/25 September) at the air show "Des Etoiles et des Ailes" at the aerodrome of Francazal, to the west of Toulouse.
The show will include displays of many current and vintage planes, as well as stands for all associated activities and associations.
Click on the link to find more details:

have you got one of these?

Nous sommes le dimanche dix huit septembre

A watery blue sky and a little sun to start the day.
The young men last night went to Bruniquel to watch the " Nuit frappé" I am hoping they took some photos but all of them went off saying they wanted to dance.
Yesterday I heard that a few residents in Bruniquel were worried about the incoming refugees which we now find will include two young families.
From the experience of Malc and I with the earlier group we can only assure people that they do not need to worry and indeed fine friendships can be made.
Once the group learns French and integrates their many skills and abilities will be valuable to the community.
This morning a friend and I will be going to the St. Antonin market with the boys, they love going as they have so many friends in the area now, they enjoy meeting everyone.
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Still going this morning