Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Marche de Noel at Laguepie

Laguepie hosts its Marche de Noel on Sunday 11th of December. Usually held in the streets around the town. At the same time there is a new book sale in the Salle de Fetes

25 years of the Telethon

Is your car dirty? The local Pompiers are offering to wash your car on Saturday 3rd of Dec. in exchange for your contribution to the Telethon appeal. The Telethon, a similar sort of money raising event to Children in Need is celebrating its 25 years of raising money. All the regions in  France participate in these money raising schemes and it is not unusual to see people in funny outfits rattling their collecting tins and others arranging tombolas etc.  All the monies collected go towards medical research.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Art at Bruniquel

Bienvenue aux Rencontres d'art de Bruniquel,
 Les 2, 3 et 4 décembre prochains, les Rencontres d'art aux châteaux de Bruniquel permettront de découvrir et d'apprécier le travail de 16 artistes  et artisans d'art de Bruniquel et du Pays Midi-Quercy. Installés dans les salles des deux étages du Château Vieux, souffleur de verre, céramistes, créatrice bijoux, peintre, sculpteurs, artiste plasticienne, tisserande, feutrière, mosaïste...exposeront leurs dernières oeuvres pour satisfaire votre curiosité. Cette 7ème édition, avec la venue de nouveaux créateurs, sera l'occasion d'affirmer une présence artistique talentueuse  sur Bruniquel et les environs.
Pour cet évènement, la variété des techniques et des matériaux, le savoir - faire et la créativité, la tradition et l'innovation seront au rendez-vous. Artistes et artisans d'art seront présents tout au long du week-end pour évoquer, partager leur passion et  vous permettre  de trouver des cadeaux originaux  à offrir pour les fêtes de fin d'année.  
Ouverture du château - le vendredi 2 décembre - 14h/18h/30 - samedi 3 et dimanche 4 décembre - 11 h/18h30.
Entrée libre et vin chaud.
Dans le village, les restaurants et salon de thé seront ouverts.
Pour plus d'infos, vous trouverez notre flyer recto/verso en pièces jointes.  
 Au plaisir de vous accueillir. Amicalement. Marieth
Marieth Creation
Tél. 05 63 30 44 01
Textile d'art tissé main
rue droite - 82800 BRUNIQUEL

Cast iron wood burner for sale, Easter egg and more

For Sale 
A cast iron Franco Belge wood burner in good condition 600 Euros, the price includes 2m of brown pipe and 2 bends which have been hardly used.
The handle on wood burner is not the original but it works.
Selling as moving.

Contact Ann on

Ann Herdman-Smith <>

  Wooden chair 15€
The beautiful egg that I made for the St Antonin Easter Festival offers 30€ or above?
An apple mac airport base station 20€.
Cast iron grate good for barbeques 10€.
Candlestick in the round 5€.
Wine rack 5€.
Bowls and dog leads free to a good home.
Ann has many more items for sale so why not contact her.

Packing up dreams...
Hey ho.

Marche de Noel and Salon de Noel

A Christmas market will be held on the 18th of Dec. in the Town Hall at St. Antonin.
Afterwards there will be a candle festival through the streets.
The Salon de Noel will be 10th-26th Dec. 10-18hrs.
For more info. on both contact Arnoud Budelman on tel. 0615380451

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Books to jump on

To the coming book swap on the 5th Dec. I will be taking two Detective stories by Andrea Camilleri from  the humourous  Inspector Montalbano series set in Sicily. They are beautifully written and the smells and colours and landscapes of Sicily come to life. We have seen two productions of them on BBC 4 in Italian with English subtitles which we enjoyed very much. Another which I think many will have read is A.S.Byatt's The Children's Book with some loose pages as it has been so well read. Going back in time but a book I have read more than once J. M. Coetzee's  Disgrace which was rightly a winner in 1999 of what was then just The Booker Prize. Winner of the Man Booker Prize in 2003 Vernon God Little by D.B.C. Pierre. I picked this  up at the last book swap and many thanks to who ever took that one. In 2003 he was just starting his second novel Ludmilla's Broken English, it has not had good reviews but the man himself being interviewed by Andrew Denton sounds an interesting, oddball scoundrel. Read that interview on
Another I will be taking is Margaret Attwood's Amazing Grace, a novel I really enjoyed but it was brought over to France by my brother-in-law who had ploughed through it because he knew it was worthy.[so not everyone's cup of tea]
Tony Parsons Man and Boy must be a favourite of mine as I tend to pick it up at every brocante I go to and then remember I have read it and knew it was good.
I never used to read crime books but it seems to be such a popular genre that I have been coaxed  in and there will be lots of Patricia Cornwell's etc.coming. Last but not least Michele Giuttari The Death of a Mafia Don and yet another insight in to the world of the Mafia.If you have any 'Jump on books ' write and tell us all. Books cannot be reserved before the day.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

London calls

Diana Jackson writes 

gee thanks, Val!   Here in London it is cold, misty and drizzly for good

measure.   Can't wait for March when I can come back to La Taupiniere.......

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Tuesday 22nd November and still sunny

 Especially for those second home owners back in their native countries we have just had lunch on the balcony in our tee shirts. The exceptional  mild sunny weather continues totally confusing the plants and flowers in the garden.When we say 'this is why we came' never mind about cheaper house prices, wonderful French culture and food, it is the blue skies and the sun. Can't be entirely true though because on that basis we would have gone to Spain.
Malcolm on reading this thought it was all a bit 'smug' sounding.My apologies but it is a sunny 20 degrees!

Monday, 21 November 2011

A response about the poison

Helen Graham of St. Antonin has contacted us with more information... read on

"Just a couple of comments in relation to the article on Mop. As you may

know, David and I have a wealth of experience with dogs, having owned, bred

and judged them internationally for a great many years and having also been

involved with dog rescue organisations , canine health committees and much


Our bitch Dede was poisoned the day after Boxing Day last year and her life

was saved by the prompt action of the vet.The kind of poison used was

different to that which killed Mop as Dede suffered convulsions so severe

that she was literally at the point of death when the vet arrived.  He

believes the poison used was a rodenticide of the kind used to kill moles,

rats and mice.

However, the point I wish to make in relation to the piece on Mop is that a

Labrador would need to eat a pretty huge piece of very dark chocolate and

even more onions in order to be poisoned and the symptoms would be totally

different.  Moreover, it would have been most unlikely that she could have

ingested large enough quantities of either without her owners knowing.  If

it would be of any help, I can provide a full list of poisons affecting dogs

and the treatment they require.

Having said which, the nature of the poison that killed Mop doesn't appear

to fit any of the known categories of poison and by the time it was realised

that she was ill it was almost certainly too late to be able to help her.

This is what makes the recent cases of poisoning so alarming and why animal

owners should be backing James in his attempts to bring this to official


Huge Chandelier

HugeChandelier for sale 
500 euros or near offer
Really needs to be viewed
Contact Anke at

Beware Poison

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Mop - labrador empoisonnée

Mop died on Wedneday 9th November 2011,

On Tuesday she went for a walk with Bregtje on the field between the camping car site in Saint Antonin and the river (see map below) - she was off the lead. She did not want her food that evening and the following morning they decided to take her to the vets as she passed what appears to be blood. She died later that day. 

The poison didn't affect he mouth nor her throat and the vet came to the conclusion that it must have been packed in something edible. 

She was poisoned by some corrosive chemical agent hidden in food, according to the vet who dealt with her, Dr Gobet at Negrepelisse. 

She was 11, and a healthy, lazy, loving, ‘’slightly’’ overweight Labrador, who although she liked her food didn't just eat anything.
Having said that there are 'natural' things she could have eaten that might have the same effect such as anti-freeze, onions or chocolate.

En français:  Mop est morte le 09/11/2011 elle a mangé quelque chose pendant sa promenade sur le champ entre le site des camping -cars et la rivière. Le poison a détruit son estomac pendant 24 heurs. 

James Sweeting starts a campaign

If you read the article above and you have a pet you will be rightly worried by the story. About 6 weeks ago a van with a loudspeaker went round Varen saying  'Come to the Town Hall as the van is parked outside giving away free poison' When this has happened in previous years a lot of the village cats were poisoned and in truth if giving poison  is to get rid of vermin a much better way is by having a cat.
If you are not a cat lover consider your Grandchild playing by the river and consider the implications of that.
So let's support James in his campaign. Click on the link below.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Angus finds a new home

Angus the lost  black labrador met today with a lovely couple who fell in love with him and will take him to his new home at Figeac  next Friday. Good luck Angus, we wish you the best life possible.

Traditional Carol Service at Parisot

Traditional Carol Service, 9 Lessons and Carols.  Parisot Church : 17h00 Sunday 18th December, and afterwards wine and festive nibbles offered by the Mairie at the Salle des Fêtes.
Chants de Noel en Français et en Anglais, Eglise St Andéol, Parisot (82) : 17h00 dimanche 18 Décembre, et après une verre de l'amitié offert par la municipalité à la Salle des Fêtes.
Information from Karen and Chris Robinson

Friday, 18 November 2011

New Year's Eve

A group of mature 'Varenois' plan to hire the salle de fete in Arnac for New Year's Eve festivities. We have done this on previous occasions with some degree of success. Catering is DIY [ bring a dish] and entertainment is Ad Hoc [make it up as you go along]. If you have nothing better to do and would like to join us ring
Sylvia Gray on   0563 65 48 25   or
John Taylor on   0563 27 64 92
preferably before December 5th so that some planning and forethought can be applied.

Anyone with ferrets?

Do you have a dog, cat or a ferret, or feed the birds in your garden?

I have trouble finding sunflower hearts and niger seeds here and would like to order in bulk from this supplier, so if you are interested in placing a group order to take advantage of large bags, smaller prices and saving on delivery costs, have a look at their website and let me know what you want. I expect we could buy a large bag of sunflower hearts or niger seeds and split it into one or two kilo bags for example. You could also order cat litter, or food for dogs, cats & ferrets, not forgetting dog poo bags. The larger the order, the bigger the discount!
Gill Catterall
Email me -

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Victory for Common sense

John Taylor is pleased to report that the planning permission for the black tin shack proposed to be built near them on their lotissement has been overturned by the DDE. Something more in keeping and sympathetic to the neighbourhood is being requested. For those who have been supportive of John in his campaign please talk to him for details. Well done John and Sheila

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Reminder for Hangar sale

Hangar sale at Campagnac Sat 19th and Sunday 20th 11am to 6.30pm each day.
See earlier post for more info, directions etc.
Claire and I would like to add that Karine, our friend with the mobile restaurant (aka a food van!), will be with us during both days to serve home made chips, grillades and a  'plat du jour'!  The vin chaud is long as you buy something! Live music is expected on Sunday.....
Also available for sale is a stack of old roof 'tuiles' and seven white sunbeds...stored near to Claire's but space limited to display them at the weekend.

Christmas Carols and Aperos

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The sky at night above your house.

We are so lucky having such wonderfully clear skies here especially in winter with out any light pollution.Caroline Kirk has sent in some information for star gazers to know the stars above you.

To make it local to you you'll need the coordinates for your location which you can find on Google Earth, also the height of your house which again is on Google Earth.
The following site tells you when, & in which direction, you can see the International space stations (ISS) & other wonders of the universe:  again you need to put in your coordinates.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Old Freezer Wanted / TAGlines works, we have got one.

Is anyone changing their kitchen and wanting to get rid of their freezer. We don't mind it being scruffy if it works.We can pick it up.

Val or Malc on or tel 0563 640673

Satellite digi box for sale SOLD

FOR SALE 49 Euros

SAGEM DS186 HD freesat satellite digital box. Over 140 TV and radio channels, subscription free HD, full UK coverage, no contract, no bills.  

Contact Martin by email:
By telephone:

Emmaus at Villefranche de Rouergue

Emmaus is a charity in France set up by L'abbe Pierre [died last year I think] It is a charity which aids the poor and homeless. Someone told us about it when we first came here and since then I have been a sort of regular visitor at the branch at Carmaux. It is especially good for white linen beautifully embroidered sheets which I use on the beds or as tablecloths. It sells everything one has in the home and I have bought many a garden table and chair. All the goods are donated so it is a bit like a huge Oxfam. Often I go with things to donate and come back with other things. Generally men hate it but us ladies appear to love 'ferreting' about
I have just discovered a branch of Emmaus at Villefranche de Rouergue which is near HyperU, up past the roundabout and behind a funeral parlour.It is open Friday afternoons 2.30 to 6pm.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Tinker,Tailor,Soldier,Spy is coming

The much talked about remake of the film Tinker,Tailor,Soldier,Spy is coming to the Querlys Cinema in February. It's French title is 'La Taupe'

Book Swap at the Gazpacho

I have arranged  to hold the book swap with the Gazpacho for Monday morning  10.30 to11am ish  on 5th of Dec.I bought 5 books from the Chats de Quercy sale chosen without the benefit of my specs. All excellent reads but I had read them all before. I keep reminding myself it was a good cause and they will be coming to the swap. Malc and I have both read 'The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society' what a funny, unusual but sad read that was. Karen Sweeting brought with her a fine selection of crime books last swap and I have really enjoyed those I came home with, all authors I would not necessarily have chosen before.So I look forward to the next swap and perhaps after the exchange we could all stay for a festive drink.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Gym extra douce

We have just joined our local 'gym' which is held for the over 60s in the village Salle de Fete. It is held twice a week in the mornings and is in French (so a free French lesson). Each session (séance) starts 20 minutes early so the participants can take coffee and cake before the ‘strenuous’ tai chi type exercises! The first session involved filling out 5 forms in French and meeting the other participants. It is a mixed class including the previous Maire and other local folk. Ages range from 89 to 60+.

Luckily, body-hugging, gold lame lycra suits or special sports clothing are not obligatory and, when we do foot exercises in our socks with a small ball, holes appear quite frequently! One man comes in his slippers and the others are wearing an assortment of comfy shoes. Ian and I get top marks for wearing joggers (trainers)!

The exercises are varied and everyone takes them seriously, including press-ups against the wall, walking on our heels, then toes, then along a taped straight line (best in the mornings!). There is much laughter and egging each other on. The lady who takes the class is professional and very supportive of aged people with less flexibility and fitness. When Ian is staggering around and not hearing, or understanding the instructions, she follows behind him saying ‘coucou, Yan, coucou’. Ian says ‘If you see yourself as an under training Clint Eastwood, this can be pretty hard to take!!’

Each week we get a short lecture on safety in the home, proper foot-ware, keeping healthy and the importance of exercising. The nicest part is greeting the local folk who attend, being accepted, kissed and, at times, gently teased when trying out a new exercise. There is a warmth and kindliness that is exceptional. No competitive or comparative aspects at all.

However, I don’t think we shall be entering for the Olympics next year though, despite our increasing flexibility and improved ‘equilibre’!

Alison Croft

Low cost transport from or to England

George White of Ripley has a transport company that is well known in this area [ his sister lives in the region]
He is apparently very reasonably priced and has a good reputation. He is willing to bring small or part loads and will transport anything that is legal.
His tel number here is   0563 33 25 59 and for his website details  click on.

Maybe a thought for the mobility scooter?

Mobility scooter

Sylvia Gray of Varen has been offered a mobility scooter but it is in Lancashire. Is there anybody going in a car to that area before Christmas who would have space in the boot for a fold down scooter?
Sylvia can be contacted on tel. 0563 65 48 25

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Opera from the Met

Margaret Atkins informs us that the Cinema at Gaillac is showing live opera from the Metropolitan Opera, New York, on various dates from now to February. Each showing is 25 euros, 100 euros for 5 showings.
 Rodelinda, by Handel on  Sat. 3rd Dec.18 30h
Faust by Gounod on  Sat 10th Dec 19h.00

Full details can be found at the link below.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Has anyone become a citizen?

We have lived here happily all year round now for more than 10 years. We have no plans to go back to England as we think even though costs have risen here it is balanced by the quality of life. It takes time to feel you can integrate into French life but it is rewarding when you feel you are getting there.When we have lived here 15 years we will no longer have a vote in England and in truth that means nothing to us now as French politics are what concerns us much more. I should imagine like all the rest of the bureaucratic stuff in France becoming a citizen will not be simple.We noticed in the newspaper Connexion that there is now a new language test as part of the procedure. It says candidates "should be able to tell  of an event, experience or dream:describe a wish or an ambition and outline briefly their reasons or explanations  for a project or idea".There is no written exam only oral. Previously candidates would be interviewed by an official from the Prefecture but now testing will be done by an  EU accredited  language organisation. As long as you have lived here for more than 5 years, have a permanent address, have no convictions, can speak enough of the language to get by and pay 55 euros you may be considered. Interestingly you are allowed to change to a French name if you would like to or 'frenchify' your present one. Can anyone see me as a Fifi Chantal?  The language test is not applied for under 15's or over 70's. Also if you are refused no reason is given.
So if any one has achieved becoming a French Citizen and can give us advice we would be grateful before we apply.
Val Johnstone
For more info check out the website below.

Man's bike for sale

Ann Herdman has 

Man's bike, 21speed, for sale 50 Euros

Please email to make an appointment.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Nintendo Wii Sports Resort Pack For sale SOLD

Every thing you need to have the family laughing at Christmas. Nintendo Wii with many additions. It came as the basic Sports Resort Pack and we added an extra handset. There are 12 different sports to enjoy including tennis  for which we bought the extra tennis raquets. Bowling a definite favourite, table tennis, canoeing, frisbee, sword play etc. We then added the pack of Formula I Racing which we found  as difficult as Hamilton this year  but  the youngsters were soon flying round the track like Vettel. All complete and looks as in new condition in box if wanted as a pressie. Initial cost exhorbitant  now a reasonable 75 euros. Tel Val or Malc on 0563 64 06 73 or email mail @

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Microchipping or tattooing your dog in France

In France it is compulsory now that dogs have a tattoo in the ear or have a microchip inserted beneath the skin around the neck called a puce. If a dog is being advertised one must gave the identification number with the advert [so after being told I have added that to Angus advert ] There are at this moment 300,000 lost dogs in France. 170,000 dogs are left at refuges each year. But the good news 100,000 dogs each year are returned to their owners because of their microchips.

Is Cassoulet really British?

British comic David Lowe living in France with his french wife decided as a joke to sell British Cassoulet in a french market at Castlenaudary. Click on the link to see how he gets on.
We did wonder what reaction he would get if he tried to sell French Yorkshire puddings in York.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Turkey for Christmas

Looking for a delicious turkey for Christmas?

Free-range Norfolk Blacks for sale.  Hand reared, all organic turkey raised on the south facing, sun-drenched slopes of the Causses National Park in the Valley of the Lot. The turkeys will be supplied plucked and eviscerated.

Cost is €10.50 euros per kilo. Contact Sarah Meakin on 05 63 64 97 21.  You must reserve your turkey in advance for collection just before Christmas.

Angus the black labrador

If any one needed another incentive to adopt Angus the black labrador, Malcolm and I are more than willing to have him for his holidays when his owners go away.Also dog trainer Anke Terbruggen will give up time to train him not to pull on the lead, We have also discovered  whilst walking him on a morning that he responds to french commands. See earlier post for more information.
Telephone us for more news about  Angus    contact Val on 0563 64 06 73 or mail