Friday, 31 August 2012

Charged with murder Jean-Louis Cayrou

Reported in The Depeche, Jean Louis Cayrou a divorced man described as ' un peu marginalise' living in a caravan.  Marginals are people living on the edge of society, often leading a hippy type existance.  The relationship between the couple had broken up  some weeks earlier and Jean Louis had taken it badly. Patricia had expressed fears to some of her friends of his frightening and controlling behaviour. At this point Patricia had left for the safety of  England and came back hoping things would be better on her return.  Sadly things got worse. Her body has still not been found and the local chasse have been put on the alert in the hopes of finding her remains.

Folk / Jazz Club at The Vigerie

The second of the  Folk / Jazz  Club Evenings was held Thursday evening in the courtyard of The Vigerie at St. Vincent de Varen. A much cooler evening saw cardigans being worn  but the desire to perform 'outside and unplugged ' was still in evidence by the musicians. The MD Charles Ketteringham kept everything flowing smoothly and a variety of singers and musicians kept us entertained. Trevor Carter with his numerous squeeze boxes played, sang and entertained us well, Ian Alison  sang with guitar, Brian Green sang, Charles Harris played the flute, John Taylor sang along with Charles and Anna and Celia sang with Anna playing guitar . She has promised tap dancing next time! I hesitate to say star of the show but 'Princess',  Jeremy and Iga's dog was certainly up for an award and spent more time on the stage than most. Thank you to all the entertainers and we look forward to the next one on  Thurs.27th of Sept  being held at The Koppenol's at St. Martial . More details and directions given nearer the time. The fourth evening at the end of October/Nov. will probably be held in St. Antonin, venue to be announced nearer the time.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

One more needed for Expat Shield advice

Ok, I seem to have two students of the class.
Four is the most I could do for this sort of thing at one time.
See if you can dredge up two more.
I can do it pretty much any time after the first week in September.
Should be fun.
Val says
David now has 4 for tuition

6 cents a litre off petrol price for 3 months.

My Mother always said ' look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves.'  I am sure the same thing applies with centimes but it does seem fairly measly. Do I thank  Francois Hollande or say  'could do better Francois'.

Don't Panic

A murder, a robbery and why do they cause such a stir, because they are so far removed from what we know to be our life here. Yes, there is the odd robbery  but we talk about it because it is so unusual. When you arrive from England you have left behind alarms linked to the Police Station, lights that come on spotting intruders, neighbourhood  watch and you knew these things were needed. All of us have stories in the UK of  break ins, cars going missing and it was a way of life. Putting things in perspective here, 'we have the odd robbery'  I am not saying be complacent but I am saying ' chill,  relax and a glass of red,  Bordeaux for me'.

French Paralympians forgotten here

French paralympians are angered by the lack of TV coverage here in France, not giving their compatriots a chance to see their efforts in this important sporting arena.  They feel it is a reflection of the status of disabled people here. I can see this disregard every day here in Varen  where we have a Mairie up many difficult  steps. There  is a move to alter the office downstairs. The building was held up when an old skeleton was found in the basement  but that was quite a while  ago. There is also a Library and information office up steps again making it impossible for anyone with walking difficulties. Twenty five years ago I worked in a Public Library and campaigned for a ramp exactly for reasons such as this.  We achieved that ramp  and most  public buildings in England are now wheelchair friendly
Think about your public buildings  here now in town and village and I bet many are inaccessible to handicapped people.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Anymore for instruction on Expat Shield

I would be interested in a group lesson.
Stephen Pike   
12270 Saint-Andre-de-Najac
and another person interested other than Stephen.

Comments to me

For some odd reason people are experiencing difficulty making comments .Till we have it fixed please send comments directly to me

David's response to the comment on' 2 cents worth'

James, Anchor Free is the name of a company that publishes a free software program that when activated makes the other Internet servers think you are somewhere you're not. In this case it makes it look as if you are in the UK. The actual program is called 'Expat Shield'.
Since the BBC iPlayer only works in the UK one can see the advantage of having them think that's where you are.
Don't tell them I sent you.
PS: If there are enough interested parties contact me & I'll set up a group lesson on this software & how to use it.

Beautiful House for sale at Caylus

Check out the link in 'Houses for sale 'as a large and beautiful house is being offered for sale at Caylus.

Book Swap St. Antonin, Monday 3rd Sept

That time has come round again, the book swap is Monday 10.30 am at the Gazpacho in St. Antonin Noble Val. It costs nothing to come and exchange books and everyone is welcome. I am taking back some interesting reading, a newish  Andrea Camilleri called  ' The Track of Sand', as always Malc and I both enjoyed it.  Henning Mankell ' Sidetracked'  A Kurt Wallander novel, really good.
One Malc would not enjoy but I did , Elizabeth Jane Howard's   'Falling.' It  now makes me think of paralles  with the murder at Vabre Tizac, although the main character was not murdered she could have been, by having a relationship with the wrong person.  Best book was Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones, it was shortlisted for  the 2007 Man Booker Prize. It did not take long to read as I could not put it down. The blurb says it is poetic, breathtaking and surprising and it was certainly all of those things. I would have made it the winner that year. Malc has yet to read it and he really must, so it may or may not come back this time. The last one to mention is called ' Lust' by Elfriede Jelinek, who is a winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature . The blurb says ' an extraordinary, violent book, and it was, but not in the way one would traditionally expect. The main character Herr  Direktor thinks as he is married, he is able to debase and defile his wife in any way he wishes, and he certainly thinks of some disgusting ways. I was not surprised when the poor woman went off and took her own life. I did end up flicking through it to see what happened, but I think it probably deserved more thought than I gave. I would be interested to see what a ladies book group thought of it

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Last Summery Jazz Concert in the Halle at Cordes

Old pool roller wanted.

Wanted old pool roller for summer bubble cover - state not a problem as it will need adapting
 James Sweeting

If you have not got a barking dog, James has a solution

I have added a new skill to my portfolio - I have just installed 3 security cameras for a friend at his holiday home in the Lot. They are connected to his LiveBox which means that they are always 'online'. He can see what is happening chez lui in real time whereever he is in the world  . The cameras also have a motion detector facility - they can send an email with photos. The cameras aren't cheap being exterior but they give him peace of mind. If anyone wants to know more detail please ask me.    James Sweeting

Link to the Murder

David Hatfield has sent this link to the murder, reported in the Telegraph. Well done you David for reading the Telegraph. I will not have any truck with the Daily Mail, which I have no time for .Life's too  short for  such rubbish.

Was it all a rumour or is it speculation?

I suggest you may wish to publish the following information as people will not lose bbc or any of the freesat channels as per a rumour floating around.


Tim Stone

If it helps, I have just spoken with Freesat.  They are modifying their satellite over the next few weeks and in fact have already done some channels including all of the channel Five family (Five USA, 5+1, 5) so if you can still receive those you will get all the others as they are modified. I do not know anything about Freeview, this refers to Freesat which we use.

The Tivoli Trio International give a Concert

The Tivoli Trio International are giving a concert of Boccherini, Schubert,

Ravel and Dohnyani, in the Tinal at Milhars, at 12h30 on Wednesday,

September 12.  Price 8€, 5€ for under 18s.  There will be restauration

rapide sur place.

The Trio are James Coles, violin, from London; Carol Hubert-Allen, alto,

from Weimar; and Nella Hunkins, cello, from New York.

Sally gives Concert's

 I am Sally Bradshaw  based in Najac, and will be giving a concert  at the garden of La Mothe on 29th September in the afternoon. My website is at where you can listen to clips.
I shall send you the URL of La Mothe, though you may already know all about it.
I look forward to being in touch with you soon.
Sally Bradshaw
Tel 05 6565 7975
Val says
Check out this link, it sounds a concert worth going to. I will find out more.

The concert is in aid of a charity to rescue children in Mali. The charge will be 10E. I will send you publicity when we have created some. The concert will be very eclectic with some jazzy numbers, some popular French numbers, some classical pieces. There is a reception   after the concert and it is partly in the open air.
So more information to come

Body still not found at Vabre Tizac

Patricia Wilson is still missing from her isolated farm at Vabre Tizac. English neighbours say she has two cats which she would not just leave, closed out and with out food .The gardener who has been arrested [ garde a vue] and charged with the murder is apparently well known in the area and works on many of the gardens of the other ex pats in the community. The French newspapers are calling it a 'crime passionelle'. Her former partner, the couple split up last year, is still having treatment for his illness in Scotland.

Monday, 27 August 2012

Serious robbery in the area

Attention if you are going out, do not leave signs for the burglar. Close your gates, check your doors are locked and windows are closed. Local English people  from Verfeil  sur Seye had gone off doing an airport run to come home to discover they had been robbed. Money, jewellery, silver all gone. There is always more risk in the summer when there is a chance of visiting, holiday making thieves. Take extra care.

Folk / Jazz Evening Unplugged at The Vigerie

Jeremy now tells me that the field next to the Vigerie will be open. It can be used for parking if it has not rained between now and then. Thursday 30th at 8pm, .in the courtyard if a nice evening, bring a cardigan and in the barn if raining

Vernissage at The Vigerie

Lovers of art in the St. Antonin Noble Val area are being invited to a Vernissage at The Vigerie, St. Vincent de Varen at midday on Sunday 16th of Sept. continuing through the afternoon. The works on display are by the couple Iga and Jeremy Rewse Davies, artists all their lives, who have lived in the area for around 8 years.The following week the paintings and drawings can be viewed by appointment with Jeremy or Iga on Tel. 0563 64 86 85

The Connexion's reply to Losing satellite

Thanks for the email. I am not sure of the validity of this one way or another.
Though as far as I know it is ''accidental'' if people in France are able to get the BBC, and they have no intention to  broadcast here. We may be able to look into it in the next edition.
Kind Regards
Oliver Rowland

Val's reply to Oliver

Hello Oliver
It may be accidental but a lot of businesses are selling sky, big dishes, satelellite without an English address advertising in papers etc. and I bet some of them are a little worried. It is rotten really as none of us want to be law breakers. From everyone's researches it would appear to be ' a wait and see situation', but as always we look forward to the Connexion's rational input.
Kind Regards
Val Johnstone

Murder of lady expat At Vabre Tizac

Expat of five years Patricia Wilson  age 58, recently split  from her husband has been murdered. Patricia living in a remote farmhouse at  Vabre Tizac had not been seen or had not been writing on facebook,  so a friendly neighbour looked in on her. Patricia was not at home but her blood was found splattered on the floor and walls in the kitchen. Her gardener with whom she  had started an intimate relationship was found  with her blood in his car. Although the gendarmes are still trawling lakes and ponds for her body the gardener has been held and maybe charged with her murder. See today's Depeche, Aveyron section for the full story.The man , name not released has now been charged with her murder.

Lots happening at St. Antonin this week end at The Fetons

Nadette Curatto de Espinas has sent this link for the Fetons at St. Antonin this week end.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Another cute kitten

This lovely little kitten (male)came to us 2 weeks ago and can't stay,because my cat does not like him.
He is very sweet,you can caress him,lift him up and he is very attached.
he had a cure of vermifuge and is healthy.
We hate to see him go,but better now he is not so attached to us.
Who wants new company?
Corrie Koppenol
Saint Martial
82330 Varen
telnr:05 63 26 45 49

Saturday, 25 August 2012

David adds his 2 cents , he is an American

I'll add my 2 cents to the ongoing discussion. As a retired, now obsolete Electronic Engineer I used to know something about this subject.
I agree with those who say wait & see. The published 'footprints' may well be misleading. The ones for the current satellites show our area as being for more marginal than they are in actuality.
Another possible solution if the signal is marginal is to buy and install a larger dish. The larger the dish the weaker the signal it will pick up.
The 'anchor free' solution does work. ( In essence what this does is make it seem as if you are located in the Uk when you go onto the internet. Once online you can search for and use the BBC iPlayer. [don't know about ITV, but probably yes].
You can then watch live which is OK if you have a fast connection or you can download any program for later viewing if your line is slower (our supposedly 2Mb line is marginal). We did this for the Olympic opening when a thunderstorm knocked out the sat reception. Once downloaded playback is perfect. On my 19" monitor the picture is excellent. If you have an HDMI connection then you can get good playback from any computer.
It seems as if we won't have any definitive answers until around year end. as once the birds up they take quite a while for tweaking & testing.
David Hatfield

Roger Bowen celebrates his 'anniversaire.'

That old codger Roger Bowen of Varen is having yet another birthday. If any one of his friends would like to celebrate with him Jill Spearman and I are arranging to go at lunchtime 12.30 to the La Seye et Vous at Verfeil. on the  Thursday 13th of Sept. Book with the owner direct tel 0563 65 22 18. If you do not know Roger my condolences, he never has a bad word to say about anyone and will do anyone a favour if he can.
Great organisers we are. La Seye et Vous is closed for 10 days holiday. So we will now try The Moulin de Varen and go for Fish and Chips at 10. 50 euros.

Losing Satellite

I have put all the posts relating to this in one label 'Losing satellite'

Malcolm wants his Sport

 Val has asked me to point out out that not all broadcasts are available via
the internet (unless you hide behind a UK IP - available from some web sites
 such as Expat Shield - though you have to put up with adverts!). For example
 any live sport for which the UK broadcaster has Uk only rights will not be
 available. Also 5live and TMS when BBC has no rights.
 Also if you have limited bandwidth - here we have only 2 mbs - even Radio 3
 and 4 can be intermittent and TV much worse.
Of course other solutions are being proposed - we could all move to Normandy> for example! At base this is nothing to do with licence fees, but with broadcasting rights and i am inclined to agree with posters who say wait and see, and take the Micawber view.
Reply from Doreen
Thanks Malcom. It's all very interesting (and confusing!). I can't use Expat Shield because it doesn't work on Macs. I find FilmOn really good - it meant we were able to watch some programmes when we were in Paris and I use it when the rain knocks out the satellite. We don't watch sport, so that's never been a problem. The only downside is that the ipad is not exactly a big screen!
 I'm intrigued to see how it will turn out - if you look at any of the French magazines, they are still full of ads from companies offering to install satellite dishes etc, so would they all go out of business? I'm sure someone somewhere will start selling a solution if it does happen!

Friday, 24 August 2012

Check out your slingbox! I think

Brilliant Val!
Well let's see what happens! I wouldn't quite know how to deal with a 'slingbox' to zap BBC et al to your computer! (Google '')!! That technology is a bit beyond me! 
It's Radio 4 I'd miss!
Love Ann x
Val says
I am going to have to learn yet another new language, what on earth is a sling box. I will have to look at the link

Lance Armstrong stripped of 7 tour de France titles

That is the heading of this post but it is not the real story. I go twice a week for physio and usually listen to some cycling news or Olympic news from  the physiotherapist. So  I was sure today as I had my ultra sound treatment we would be discussing Lance Armstrong. I got it wrong, the hot topic was Prince Harry. What a disgrace, how shaming for the Royal Family and the Queen, what dysfunctional people they were and then there was Diana. Thank God here in France they had a Republic. I got a shocked look when I said Prince Harry was young  and with friends and I did not really feel it was news I wanted to hear. I must admit not to being a big Monarchist but I do think as a family they work incredibly hard and must need a bit of fun with out being snooped on all the time.   Anyway it is not news that interests me, where as the disgrace of Lance Armstrong is.

German TV when we lose the BBC!

If readers still want their fix of
UK TV, go to FilmOn. You can get most freeview UK channels on the computer
 or ipad free, or there are other options where you need to pay. You can also
 get QVC Germany, which is really fascinating!
Doreen Porter

Astra 2F The debate rumbles on

It was a bit disconcerting to be told what I'd said was 'rubbish' on a public site! (Richard).......but I was only relaying some news that is in fact true. Astra 2F is indeed scheduled for launch on the 14th September and it is uncertain as to how it will affect overseas viewers in Europe. I wanted to alert people to the possibility of a problem, not to scare monger that it definitely would arrive!
This is the reply of the person who informed me when I told him of the response:
'Hmmm. We'll see. The art of predicting satellite footprints is a dark one. The "official" diagrams from the operator do look depressing, but this may well be to try and convince the TV rights holders that it's only available in the UK. The only way to find out is when Astra 2F is actually orbited and in service. Adam'
Let's hope all will be well.
Very best wishes,
Vals reply
I have not a clue about this and have done lots of research to find out more. I am passing it on to a reporter from  the Connexion newspaper and hope he can come up with answers.
Another way to look at it is, let us all watch French TV. It will improve our knowledge of the language and the country where we now live.
Read the comment which has come.

5th Jazz Festival at Najac Sept. 6,7, and 8th Sept.

Starting on the  Thurs. 6th with the Thierry Olle Trio , Thierry on Piano, Serge Oustiakine on double bass and singing and Guillaume Nouaux on drums. 21 hrs Les  Haut de Najac, Residence Val Vacances Bleues Entry 12 euros.
Friday 7th  21 hrs at the Salles des Fetes de Najac. The Louis Martinez Quintet. Louis on guitar, Domingue Rieux Trumpet and bugle, Jean Michel Cabrol Tenor sax, Michael Juraver  double bass, Vincet Calmette on drums Once again 12 euros
Saturday 8th 21 hrs The Raul de Souza Quartet in the Salle des fetes, Najac
Raul on Trombone, Philippe Baden Powell piano, Arthur Decloedt double bass and Arnaud Biscay on drums. 12 euros or all 3 concerts for 30 euros.
Reservations to the Office de tourisme Najac tel 0565 29 72 05

Batty for bats at Feneyrols

Feneyrols: old school (at the mairie)  Saturday 25th August
From 3 p.m onwards : different exhibitions (LIFE programme, bat photos), artificial roosts (DIY), games for children.
6 p.m.: conference “Bats, an essential link for biodiversity”
7 p.m.: film on some European bats
8:45 to 11:30 p.m.: a walk through the village, listening for bats.

Folk /Jazz Club Thursday 30th at the Vigerie

A reminder for your diaries that the Folk / Jazz Club  will take place 8pm Thursday 30th of Aug, being held at The Vigerie St. Vincent de Varen. Passing through Varen head towards Laguepie, turn left on to the D106 Najac road. Follow the road to the small church of St. Vincent and opposite this is a small chateau with  a large grass parking area. Park here and walk up a small road opposite to another chateau The Vigerie. Remember you need your chairs, your drinks and glasses, eat before you come. The hosts only provide the venue. For those who did not come to the first evening the night is one of singing and music unplugged. So we ask for the audience to be quiet for the performers unless we are invited to sing along. Those people performing with instruments or people with walking difficulties  can take their cars up the small road to the chateau.. As parking area is small near the Vigerie if you are driving up please give a lift to others carrying chairs ,please do not drive up with two in the car and space. A little thought goes a long way.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Iga accepts the Fifi cup and sings the Polish National Anthem

Not over awed in front of the admiring crowd,  a rather soggy Iga collects her Fifi cup  and gold medal from Linda Hatfield, Fifi President and proceeds to sing the Polish National Anthem.
 Whilst in the background I have just spotted Nick dutifully bringing in the buoys, sorry you missed the presentation Nick.Thank you to Lorraine Dowson for sending this photo.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Great day for the 9th Varenly Regatta and two 'Tilly' winners

Someone counted 80  people and then gave up. We do know 45 children and adults signed on for the canoe racing and what excitement we had.  The childrens, race was won by local father and daughter team Kevin and Tilly Scragg but all the entrants were winners in our eyes for taking part, well done. The race for adults was  won by Tilly Caborn and son in law Paul Aubrey [drawn together by a fluke] and they received an impressive trophy donated by David and Margaret Atkins, who were glad to see the back of it. Don't worry Tilly it can come back next year for some lucky winner. The Fifi challenge cup was won by Iga Rewse Davies with her partner John Taylor and it was presented by Fifi President Linda Hatfileld.
A  nasty ramming took place in about the third race which resulted in hot favourites Christine Gee and Jeremy Rewse Davies being catapulted into the water. The couple never recovered to carry on and Christine lost her shoes in the fracas. [This could have resulted in a protest which the committee would have upheld , but too late now] Iga Rewse Davies once again came to the rescue diving in and swimming over to help. Two comments I heard , "she's gone to push Jeremy's head under' and another man ' If I fall in will she rescue me and give me the kiss of life'. So I think you must still have it Iga!
After the presentation of cups and gold medals which this year went well with everyone being in the right place at the right time, there was a mass dispersal for the picnic field and another 30 or so opting for fish and chips at the Moulin.[which for 10.50 euros was very good.] I am going to look at the cost of buying a megaphone for the next event as when every one is rightly enjoying themselves chatting it is hard to announce teams. Malc and I would like to give a big thank you to Nick Lyne who lifts the boats in and out with John Taylor and then puts out balloons for the course and helps us invigilate. Thank you also to Charles for putting out the rescue boat and Pat for sitting in it and getting very hot. Lastly a big thank you to you  Malcolm,  you did a great job of sorting out  the crews for  the races whilst  suffering with a bad cold. I could do with a photo of the childrens race winners and one of Iga and Linda if anybody has one.

Advance warning of a performance of Mozart’s Requiem to be held in the church at Puycelsi (Tarn) on Sunday 9thSeptember at 18h00. Per and I will be singing in the choir.
Prior reservation is strongly advised since places are limited. Tickets are €15 (see poster attached). If you wish to reserve tickets, please (preferably) contact the organiser directly, Ross Jenkins ( or or do it via us. Tickets are to be collected and paid for at the church at least 15 minutes before the concert begins.

Tel: 05 63 65 70 80
Mob: 06 77 54 52 25

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Writing workshop,write and produce a book of Fairytales

Re loss of British TV programmes

Worrying somewhat that I would lose the Great British Bake Off before we got to cupcakes, I emailed the chap who installed our system and who has always been very helpful and knowledgeable about our TV queries in the past. This is his response — let's hope he's right. Not sure I could cope with watching everything on the ipad. 
 It's a load of rubbish

Two Concerts to enjoy

Best selling author, Carol gives a talk

This is a reminder that Carole E. Wyer will be giving an author reading in the Parisot library on Saturday, September 8th at 10.30.   Attached is a flyer for the event.
As well as giving a reading from her award winning humorous novel ‘Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines’ she will be LAUNCHINGher new book ‘Surfing in Stilettos’ which is set in the Tarn et Garonne in a fictional hamlet somewhere near Caylus.   As well as the reading Carole E. Wyer will talk about her writing and inspiration, and will tell us how to do the undoable – get published!   She has been featured in ‘Woman’s Own’ as a best-selling author;  ‘Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines’ was an Amazon No. 1 bestseller and is a semi finalist for a Best Kindle Book 2012.   ‘Surfing in Stilettos’ has been nominated for the Costa Award.

Fluffy Doucette needs YOU

This pretty little cat, called Doucette, couldn't be found when her owners moved away a couple of months ago, so they moved without her.  She recently emerged from the woodland around our hamlet in a somewhat bedraggled state, having fended for herself for some time.  Over the following weeks she was fed, de-fleaed, de-ticked, and restored to full health initially by my visiting family and then by my holiday renters and a neighbour.  She is a sweet-natured cat and loves human company, and in fact was attracted to my garden, I think, on hearing the sounds of people enjoying themselves.  
Sadly, her owners now don't feel they can give her a home any more, as they live in a small apartment with no garden.  Various UK visitors have been won over by her charms and would like to ship her over, but this isn't the ideal solution.  If I lived in just one place, I would love to give her a home too, but I don't, so it's not possible.
Would someone like to give delightful Doucette a home?
Please contact me on

Read the Connexion

For newcomers to France or to my blog you will often find reference to The Connexion. An English magazine full of French news which if you live here or even have a holiday home, what is of interest is what is happening here in France. TAG can highlight the local issues and news but I would hate to lose the greater picture we receive from this newspaper. Quite often you can find in depth and accurate information on all  things like inheritance tax. politics, and the like.Keep up the good work Connexion

Monday, 20 August 2012

Losing the BBC, Oh! no.

It may be worth investigating the situation with the new Astra 2F satellite which is to be launched very soon in September. Many expats will not have realised it will affect their reception of BBC, ITV and Channel 4 programmes. In other words - they will lose them, whatever satellite system they use.

Apparently it's all to do with copyright and the BBC is not happy with the fact that people living abroad watch their channels but without paying a licence fee. Therefore they are going to narrow the beam so it can't reach the continent. Here are the relevant webpages.

Not sure what the answer is, but it needs looking into.
All the best,
Ann Heeley  Marsac Haut  St Antonin Noble Val

We have heard nothing about this but I bet some of our readers know the answer or even know if there is a problem. Let us know if you do.

Ruling the waves, not waiving the rules

Wednesday 21st August sees the 10th edition of the Varen International Regatta.
To avoid any misunderstandings here are the main points you need to bear in mind:

1    we are there to enjoy ourselves - it is not the Olympic Games and is open to all.
2    All competitors must sign on and agree to abide by the rules, which are designed for your safety.
3   All crews are drawn at random by lot and will mainly be mixed crews (depending on numbers)
4   get to know who your partner is and be on hand to start your race when called.
5  Juniors (under 12) must be accompanied by a responsible adult.
6   Remember winners and runners up of heats will go into further rounds
7   Please wait for the winners to be presented with any prizes before dispersing to the picnic.

Copies of the race rules will be available on the day in both English and French.
You need to be there to sign on for 10.30am
Dogs must be on a lead
The race organiser's decision is final.
All that made clear, the sun is going to shine so come and enjoy the day on or off the water.
If you have any queries I can be contacted on
Comments to

Marche Gourmand a Lassalle

In the commune of Caylus,  Lassalle are holding a taste market. The leaflet says you need your own knife, fork and plate and you walk around trying different products making up your own menu as you go. Starting at 19hrs on the 28th of Aug. Free entry.

Fetons St. Antonin Saturday 1st of September

You need to pick up the leaflet for this one as there is so much happening, starting with a treasure hunt through the streets at 15hr to 19 hrs. Lots through the day ending with a repas and costumed  torch bearers wandering the streets , occitan dancing and singing and then a bal of course.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Latest Piggy News

Ten girls and one boy amongst that stripey / black bunch and shed no tears  Gulli will be saved.

Birth announcement

I am not saying where and I am not saying who but deep in the woods last year a baby sanglier was found, raised and bottle feed. That  pig is known to some of us as Gulli. Then Gulli was lonely so a he got a very pretty girlfriend, a black gascon  pig called Freya. The two have had some fun and games leading to a courtship with the result 11 of the sweetest piglets have just been born. Six black and five striped and they are so cute. Sadly it probably means Gulli's days are numbered but he has had a very happy life so far.Click on the pictures for the aarh factor. That top little pigs face looks just like 'Babe'

Domaine du Sautou celebrates with a balmy evening.

A marvellous evening of African music and dance with the beat of the drums setting the rhythm. A fashion display of clothes with recycled material by the artist Iza Bonaud. Reasonably priced food in a lovely setting around the poolside. Leading to the prize draw for the splendid door carved by the artisans of Bamako in Mali. All proceeds going to the children of Africa.  A very memorable evening. A comment asks where the Domaine is and the answer it is near Parisot in the commune of Castanet and the date was Sat night 18th.
More info on the place at    Also if you look in the charities label there is more information

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Our area on orange alert.

The heat wave or as it is  called here the canicule is set to continue for the next few days. The over  75  age group  are  most at risk apparently.  Close shutters on the house and try and keep one room cool. Lots of drinks for every one . If you have elderly neighbours check  if they need help or shopping. Make sure your pets have water bowls or buckets filled.

St. Projet at the Castle

Vide greniers / brocantes at St. Projet today and tomorrow and also at Laguepie tomorrow.

Friday, 17 August 2012

A casualty of summer perhaps, but Freddie needs a home.

Val, please can I ask your help in rehoming a stray dog that has arrived

with us over the past week.  Publicity on Taglines and anywhere else

would be gratefully accepted.

We have called him Freddie and he arrived here in rather a sorry

condition having been bitten a couple of weeks ago on the face by

another dog. I have had him checked and he doesn't have either a chip or

a tattoo.  I have now befriended him and although he is still jumpy and

a little hand shy, he is now becoming a real personality.  Freddie is a

young Border Collie - 3-4 years of age according to the vet.  He is

intact and not dominant.  He is living amicably with my two neutered

dogs (a male and a female) and much as I am falling for Freddie's charms

he cannot stay here.

Freddie is calm for a border collie, but now just starting to show signs

of playfulness.  He has travelled in the car without problem and is good

on the lead.

Whilst it would break my heart to take him to the pound, that is

eventually what will have to happen as he can't stay here.

Contact Anne Grose, Fonfreche Nord, 82160 Castanet.  05 63 31 13 24 or


Thursday, 16 August 2012

Reminders for the Regatta, Folk / Jazz evening and book swap

Wednesday 22nd of August the 9th year of the Regatta at Varen.
Thursday 30th August Folk / Jazz Club 8 pm The Vigerie St. Vincent de Varen [ directions nearer the time]
Book swap Monday Sept. 3rd.Gazpacho , St. Antonin 10.30am

Concert in the Halle at Cordes

Evening market tonight at St. Antonin Noble Val

Starting at St. Antonin Noble Val at 19 hrs, an evening market, worth a visit.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Hard to believe

60,000 pets are abandoned in France every year during the summer holidays according to '30 millions d'amis' , an animal charity.

Twins die in paddling pool at Castres

Two 18 month old twins have died after drowning in a paddling pool filled with only 50cms of water. According to the Connexion where I saw the story in the last two months paramedics have been called to 409 cases to assist water related accidents. In this period 172 people died from drowning including 5 infants under the age of six. Am I being foolhardy suggesting wild swimming in rivers ?  Please do any water related activity  with care.

Entitled to winter fuel payment at last.

It has bugged us for a number of years that we have not been entitled to the winter fuel allowance. The European Court of Justice has made a new ruling which allows us to receive it. I have attached a link to the article  in the Connexion newspaper. It does not give the address we need to apply to which would have been useful. Just looked it up and included another link.

The Canicule has arrived

High temperatures through out the South  extending over the week end, possible 40 degree temperatures.  For sun lovers  and pool owners enjoy, for others I recommend river  swimming and the water in the rivers is not cold and we are lucky with plenty of clean rivers and safe spots to choose from.

Fuel prices rise

Due to the rising cost of crude oil and the weakening of the euro against the dollar , the prices at the pump of diesel and petrol are risng.  But our government has said they will  keep the election promise and put a temporary cap on prices. For petrol yesterday at Simply in  St. Antonin we paid 1.64.9  a litre.  So come on  Francois honour the promise.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Pilates and Zumba

Trying to get organised for this coming term (yep thought that may shock you).  Can you let me know if you are interested in receiving the new  fitness plan for september and October.  I am limiting the classes but will be increasing when the winter arrives and we need to get rid of the blues.  Also fingers crossed I will have a new pair of hands to help me. 
Kim Ilsley - International Fitness TrainerCertified in Pilates and Zumba®
0033 (0)563302787 ~

House sale

A reminder from my neighbour who's having a house sale this week

Friday 17th, 10am to 3pm
Blazy, Septfonds
Take Route de Charles by the petrol station in Septfonds and follow the signs to 'Charles'
These are the bigger items for sale    tel.05 63 31 23 34
Large silver whirlpool fridge freezer - €120 ono
Hardwood buffet cabinet (ideal for drinks) -€ 80
Ikea 4 -seater suedette sofa € 60

Lots happening

Course de cote at St Antonin Noble Val on the 15th Aug. with 50 drivers racing.
Najac brocante /vide grenier Wed. 15th
Vide Grenier  Sunday  19th at Laguepie

Monday, 13 August 2012

Letter from Liberte des Anes

hi val
 went to my post box the other day, i only get there about once a week and was delighted to receive your letter and cheque.
 marvellous that the children knew they were acting to raise money for the donkeys, mules and ponies we have here.
 thank them all so much from us and rest assured it will go to a good cause.
 thanks for thinking of us. sometimes when its hot and theres so much mucking out to do one can get a bit dispondant so this
just lifts my spirits a bit.  we have 11 shut in by day and out at night, otherwise too hot and fly problems and also too fat, how
i dont know as it looks like the desert here !!  the rest have free access into their sheds for shade and therefore we just have
to get the tractor there to collect the dung !
 jan lemmy

O Limb Picks

I'm very patriotic and have been watching the O Limb Picks with great interest.
Didn't they do well! We dogs couldn't have done a better job of organizing things.
As for the athletes, well they did amazingly well. I look at it this way:
The USA won a total of 104 medals, but their population is roughly 300 million.
The UK with a population of 60 million won 65 medals.
On that basis if the UK had a population of 300 million they would have won 325 medals. 
THREE TIMES BETTER on a medals per citizen basis!
It makes me proud to be a BRITISH poodle.
Roll on Rio.
barks & woofs
Sent by Rupert Hatfield  Follow his blog on

Just a reminder that Linda Hatfield's husband is called David [Rupert is their dog]  there has been some confusion on this point

Trouble continues at le Camp de Caylus

The Association of residents protesting about the nuisance and sometimes dangerous activities  of the helicopters at  the army camp at Caylus have taken their concerns to the Minister of Defense Jean Yves Le Drain. After many attempts trying to discuss the problem with the  'Chef de Camp'  all in  vain, the residents are now going higher.  Report from The Depeche.

Games Over

An abridged Gold Medal lists reads
US    46
China 38
Great Britain and  N. Ireland 29
Russian Fed 24
South Korea  13
France  and Germany  11
What a great success for the Games organisation, well done Seb Coe and your team, and well done to all the  sporting participants.
Charlotte Dujardin who won the dressage has a very proud Mum who said ' Charlotte could make a donkey dance' 
I could do with her training skills here, but could she keep Rosie  our donkey in her field?

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Regatta registration

I would like to register as John Smith  representing the 40th East Ham Sea Scouts and Cottesloe Beach Surf Club W.A.
Qualifications: East Ham swimming and diving champion,
                     Bronze Medallion (lifesaving)
                     Bar to the Bronze Medallion
                     Bronze Cross
                     Bar to the Bronze Cross 
All this quite current circa 1952
 This email   received  today. For those of you wishing to participate in the Regatta do not worry, none of the above qualifications needed. If you are breathing and you can sign on you are in the race. Golden rules are to be there between 10 and 10.30  am [ 10.45 ] at the latest. Read the very simple rules which you will be given when you sign on. Make sure you are there for the prize giving at the end of racing.
The above application has had a name change due to privacy laws.
 Thanks to  Ian  Alison for that witty registration!!    [oops , ]

Gun waving peasants !

Colin Wilson , a journalist writing about France. Apart from the lying, the gun waving peasants, the aged drink drivers, and the suicides, rural France is just ... awful.

Why Does France like speed cameras ?

Since installing speed cameras the number of road deaths has halved, a very compelling statistic.  From 7,655 deaths in 2002  to 3,963 in 2011.  There  are now 3,200  fixed cameras  933  mobile radars,  and 659 fixed traffic cameras. The expected revenue for 2012 is 700  million euros.[an even more compelling statistic for the Government perhaps , or is that cynical ?]

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Affection for Jean Lipscombe

Those people who remember Jean Lipscombe [ formerly of Varen] with affection and would like to pay tribute to her please have a word with Sylvia Gray on tel 0563 65 48 25. Sylvia is going to co-ordinate arranging another card made by  David Clench. Geoff has expressed a desire for contributions to the hospital where Jean was taken rather than flowers. So donations to Sylvia Gray please also. It has been suggested 10 euros each person unless of course you would wish to give more.

Hee Haw ! what a laugh.

Rosie, one of our donkeys who often tries to escape from her field, was found this morning just outside the bedroom  window of the gite. From the field  I waved my arms to quietly attract her attention. On seeing me she started braying very loudly before running to me. The renter in the gite turned to his wife in bed  and gave her a dig and asked her not to snore so loudly. Fortunately when they realized they both saw the funny side... and they are still rebooking for next year.

Friday, 10 August 2012


I thought TAG readers might be interested in a piece I read recently in a French consumer magazine, on this subject.  It has been illegal for many years to use an actual detector of radar emissions in France - in fact even having one in the car would get you a fine and points.  But now, since 5th January 2012, it is illegal to have a radar warning device which works on GPS, or to have your SatNav capable of identifying French radar speed check sites.  And of course the French are in the process of removing those helpful warning signs that tell you you're approaching a radar speed trap, and what the speed limit is! 

The article reads as follows (I'll translate below): Interdiction des avertisseurs de radar.  Depuis le 5 janvier, finis les bips-bips à l'approche d'un radar! Il est interdit d'utiliser des boîtiers GPS et des applications pour smart-phones capable de localiser les radars. Les automobilistes continuant d'utiliser un appareil non conforme risquent une amende de €1.500 et le retrait de 6 points du permis de conduire. Si l'on possède un navigateur GPS, il faut désactiver la détection des radars ou installer une mise à jour sur le site Internet du fabricant qui effacera ces données. 

In English:  Ban on radar warning devices.  Since 5 January, no more warning beeps as you approach a police speed trap! It is forbidden to use SatNavs and similar smart phone aps capable of identifying the position of radar speed traps. Drivers continuing to use a device which does not conform [with the new law] risk a fine of €1,500 plus the loss of 6 points from their driving licence. If you own a SatNav you need to de-activate its radar detection function, or install an update available on the maker's web site which will remove this information. 

Having found out that I'm breaking the law, I'm about to make these changes to our Garmin SatNav - and can tell anyone by email where on their web site the instructions to do this are hidden, if this helps.  However I've so far found it only in French - no-one seems to have considered warning our British guests coming over this Summer of the need to adapt their SatNavs to make them legal in France, making them easy targets for the gendarmes up and down the country...

Chris Robinson              

Yannick Noah comes top

Yannick Noah, singer, activist and former tennis player has been voted the most popular person in France for the ninth year running.  The Intouchables star Omar Sy was second and Jean Dujardin the Artist star third.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Grelon storm caused havoc

Not only was  there damage to property, gardens, cars, roofs and windows with the storm of the 5th but we are now hearing of many people being injured, some hospitalised. One man was knocked of his mobility scooter and had to crawl under a car to find shelter. He was taken to hospital and after care and a brain scan was allowed home. Many people suffered cuts and bruises just trying to get shutters closed..Although we thought we were fairly unscathed popping round to check the pool having renters in at the moment we have found 13 slats of the electric roll out pool cover broken [ why do renters not mention these things ! ] Also the caravan under cover  but one side open to the elements has a very attractive dimpling. It was a bad one!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Check your pool liners

After the huge hailstones we are getting reports of people suddenly noticing they have tears and holes in their pool liners, many above the water line but with potential to travel. This could be a problem so go out and check those liners.

Volunteers for Parisot Library needed

From: gina connolly <>
Date: 8 August 2012 14:48
Subject: Parisot library ...
Do you know someone who might be able to help out in the Parisot library?

I am looking for a volunteer to teach English to a small group of 4 \ 5 year old French children for an hour on Wednesday afternoons in term time.   In the four years since the Parisot library opened Janice, Pauline and Sandra have done a fantastic job teaching English to local children.     We now need someone to join our team and start a new beginners class and I was wondering whether you know someone who might be interested?   They do not need to be a trained teacher, but simply to enjoy being with children and to like the idea of  working with a very small group to introduce them to the English language.  
 We have a lot of children’s books in English in the library and also some in both languages which could be used as a basis for lessons.    We would of course give as much help as possible to anyone who would like to join us.
 If you know anyone who might be interested please ask them to contact me on this email address.  

"Going wild for donkeys" - pictures

Going Wild for Donkeys by popular request moved higher in the list of posts.

The Children's concert  'Where The Wild Things Are' by Maurice Sendak raised 50 euros for the charity 'Liberte des Anes'. The star of the show was Max Davis, [Grandson of Susan Pirie ] playing the character of his namesake  Max in the play. All the other children were 'Wild Things' and very much enjoyed the wild rumpus banging drums, shouting and dancing. Thanks to Marcia for playing the flute, Malcolm for narrating the story and also thanks to Susan Pirie for making such wonderful costumes.

Olympics in London get thumbs up in France

The hundred metres race with Usain Bolt had 10 million viewers watching the TV here in France. The highest audience this year apart from the election results. All week the audiences have been very high. Sadly today in the medal list they are now 6th being overtaken by Russia. Great Britain still lie third.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sad news of former Varenoise.

It is with sadness we report the death of Jean Lipscombe, following a severe stroke a short while ago. Our thoughts go out to husband Geoff and all her family. Geoff and Jean are well remembered in Varen by French and English residents alike. At a Midsummer madness  concert organised last week end  by John Taylor, an affectionate tribute was made for her recovery.

Saab needs new home

SAAB 9000 wants new owner!
 404,000 kms on clock, the last 100,000 of which have been in my family.
 Great car to drive, but, like me, there are bits falling away.
 Needs two matching wheels and some TLC to pass its CT.
 Any offers considered
 Ring Anthony Jackson
 0563 263118, or email

Bert Pelzer's Concert tomorrow in Varen

Wednesday 8th of August, a classical concert free ( but with the hat passed around) in the Halle at 21 hrs .In the Salles des Fetes if raining. Bert Pelzer Dutch by nationality ,his daughter Yanna and her partner Serge. all classically trained muscians have a summer home in Varen. We are the lucky ones to profit from this association with the village. Last year in the Halle the moon was high above the square with a midnight blue sky as the most exquisite music was played. You know one of those memorable evenings. We took our own folding chairs and that proved to be a good idea. 

Orders in please for the Regatta

If you want to have fish and chips or mules [ think this is a Freudian slip with having donkeys !]  frites at the Moulin on the day of the Regatta I will need your orders in by the week end. We have a good group choosing that option but Michelle at the Moulin says it would be helpful to have an idea of numbers. Contact Val   email
Also if anyone has any 'duff' trophies they would be glad to see the back of, we would be grateful as trophies get harder and harder to come by. The Regatta trophies are never things of beauty as of course it is the glory and prestige of winning which is the important thing .It should really be gold medals this year.

Report of Storm in the Depeche

Two days after my report the storm with grelons like tennis balls [ my report said golf balls] has been reported in the Depeche. I have to admit  being on the spot  made the difference.